Pumpkin Bread For Warm Fuzzies

These are the kinds of days when I need need need to surround myself with Warm Fuzzies.  Heating pad.  Cup of tea or coffee.  Nice slumpy afghan, or maybe the fleecy innerds of my bed. 

This morning I’m sporting my bushy sky blue bathrobe, a heavy nordic hat, and a pair of bright red pom pom slippers. Oh, take my picture now.  I’m ready for my photoshoot!

Some days REQUIRE pumpkin bread or its cousin, chocolate chip bread.  Today I’ll share the pumpkin recipe with you, since I just devoured it for the last 48 hours. 

My Sweet Babboo doesn’t like pumpkin.  So I have to be honest and admit that I ate almost the ENTIRE loaf myself.  Riley-boy helped.  A little. 

He certainly helped to make the bread, dumping ingredients into the mixing bowl and mashing play-dough with an old beater.  Quinn was a good helper too, reading and bouncing and making all sorts of noise.

What a couple of cuties, eh?

Chilly days like these, I am sorely tempted to buzz off to a coffee shop and buy a $4 drink and an expensive, heart-stoppingly buttery scone.  But why?  Can’t I make it fresh at home?  Is it really worth the price tag for going out in the weather I’m trying to conquer? 

Homemade bread helped.  I got all warm and fuzzy inside when I slathered my warm slice with butter – and especially when I shared it with my little boy (the one who has teeth).

Pumpkin Bread

(This recipe comes from “Healthy Meals For Less,” by Jonni McCoy.  One slice of Pumpkin Bread costs 9 cents.)

What’s In It

15 oz. can of pumpkin

1/4 C. maple syrup

1 egg

2 TBS oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 C. flour

1/2 C. brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/3 C. raisins or chocolate chips if you like (I used…guesses?… CHOCOLATE)

How To Make It

Place pumpkin, syrup, egg, oil, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and mix to blend.  Don’t over mix.

In a separate mixing bowl, blend together the rest of the ingredietns. 

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and mix until blended.  Add raisins or chocolate chips.

Pour into a gread 9×4 loaf pan. 

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center.  Mine was gooey.  It was divine.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.  Then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.  Slice and serve.


And now you may pamper yourself any way you like, served up warm with pumpkin bread on the side.


For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:



Robust Hamburger Buns

Time for BBQ!  Time for grilling and picnics and campfires!  Time to make your own amazing hamburger buns!  Worthy of a juicy piece of meat, these things are so flexible, they can become hot dog buns, bread sticks, hoagy rolls, you name it!  Use your imagination and enjoy.

This recipe doubles (or more) easily, and freezes well.  The measurements given make 1 dozen buns/rolls, or fewer if you’re making them BIG.

Robust Hamburger Buns


2 TBS active dry yeast (hence the non long-rise method)

1 C + 2 TBS water (110°-115°F)

1/3 C vegetable oil

1/4 C sugar

1 egg

1 tsp salt

3-3 1/2 C all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven and two baking stones (if that’s what you like to use) to 425°F.  Cookie sheets work fine, too.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add oil and sugar, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the egg, salt, and enough flour to form a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes by hand, perhaps less in a KitchenAid stand mixer). 

Do NOT let it rise.  (All in favor, please say “aye.”  AYE!)  Divide into 12 pieces (or 8, etc if you’re planning to make them into something big – they’ll poof up).  Shape each piece into a ball for hamburger buns or a small torpedo for hotdog rolls.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, covered with a damp tea towel.  Keep handling afterward to a minimum.

Place them 3 inches apart on an ungreased, preheated baking stone or on a cookie sheet – your choice.  I’m not sure if you’d have to grease cookie sheets, but a light spritzing of Pam never hurts! 

Bake at 425°F for 8-12 minutes (did I mention this is FAST?) until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.


Your guests will rave about how good your fresh rolls taste – how you must have slaved in the kitchen…  Store-bought buns are usually tasteless and flimsy.  These are robust, delicious, and preservative free.  Why would you need preservatives when they’re going to get snatched up in one night?  Hope you like them!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:


Easy Garlic Toast

Waste not, want not, right?  Right!  In my kitchen, waste old bread, and you’ll miss out on the very best, easiest ever side: GARLIC TOAST.  I am addicted to garlic.  And this is a super fast way to squeeze some in to a meal. 

Notice I don’t call it “Garlic Bread.”  This isn’t an artisan loaf with whole pieces of garlic woven throughout the crumb or baked into the crust.  This is actually just toast.  

It’s a frugal treat and a great way to use up bread that’s just about to go stale.  Almost every kitchen in America probably has a little baggie like this stashed in a corner:

This recipe is one way I’ve learned to save my family money and use up our left overs.

Here’s what to do:

Easy Garlic Toast


-Several pieces of stale bread, or a thin loaf that you’d like to slice through sideways if it happened to come out particularly flat, etc etc etc

-Butter or margarine

-Garlic salt (or use garlic powder plus salt)

-Dried or fresh parsley


Lay out your slices or loaves so that there is a cut side facing up.  Spread the bread generously with butter or margarine, and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Follow with salt if using garlic powder. 

Sprinkle parsley all over the top of the bread.

It’s easiest to control how this comes out if you make it in a toaster oven.  It will probably take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes on a normal toast setting to get a nice golden brown on the edges of the bread. 

However, you can make it move along faster by setting it on broil, or by actually making the Garlic Toast under the broiler in your oven.  Just be sure to watch it, because it will get blackened FAST (I just did that accidentally on Easter).


Amazing garlic toast!  A frugal use for old or flat bread, masquerading as a culinary delight!

This slice is made from our Everyday Italian Loaf…

…and these slices are made from a rich, wheaty artisan loaf.

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:


Skillet Yankee Cornbread

By request, here is the recipe for Skillet Yankee Cornbread.  My husband just finished off a big piece with the comment, “Best cornbread ever!”  As I photographed the process this weekend, I was amazed again how easy and fast it is to make.  


This recipe is actually only slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.  So, thanks, Betty!  You’re a doll.

Best parts?  It’s cheap, simple, goes with anything, and it’s perfect right out of the pan.  Like a great wardrobe staple – only fried.

Skillet Yankee Cornbread


1 C. milk

1/4 C. butter or margarine, melted (come on…use butter)

1 large egg

1 1/4 C. yellow, white or blue cornmeal (I used yellow)

1 C. all-purpose flour (Betty’s note: if using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt)

1/2 C. sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 – 1/3 C. canola/vegetable oil for the pan


Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.  My version of this recipe calls for using a cast iron skillet.  If you don’t have one, just use a 9″ round pan or an 8″ square pan, greased on the bottom and sides with plenty of shortening.  (Seriously, slop it on there.  The shortening will help to give the cornbread a little bit of yummy crust, the same way the oil does in the cast iron skillet.  Perhaps just not as crunchy.)

If you are using a cast iron skillet, begin heating it (empty) over medium heat.  It’s ready when it’s smoking (that’s my method anyway: “oh no!  fire!  hurry up the batter!”) or when water flicked onto the surface bubbles and sizzles.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the milk, butter, and egg with a wire whisk. 

Stir in the remaining ingredients at once just until the flour is moistened.  The batter will be lumpy. 

Here you’ll need to pour the oil into the hot skillet (caaaareful…) and it should begin bubbling and sizzling just like the water did when you tested it.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan, or into the preheated cast iron skillet.  The oil will flow up and over the sides of the batter, creating the beginnings of a delicious crust.

Bake the cornbread for 20-25 minutes or until it is golden brown.  You can use the toothpick method (insert one into the center and if it comes out clean, the bread is done).  But if the cornbread is browning on the edges, you should be done anyway.


Serve warm if desired.  This cornbread is still amazing on the second or third day, too.

Enjoy it with jam for breakfast or with some butter at snack, lunch, or dinner.  And if you’re invited to a last-minute BBQ this summer, or have unexpected guests any day of the year, you are all set.  30 minutes to GREAT cornbread. 

Wish I had another final picture to show you… but we ate it all.  Here it is again:

***Just a note about this version of cornbread:  There are so many different kinds!  Some folks swear by including whole kernels of corn in their cornbread.  That’s just not my thing (no vegetable surprises, please).  Jon and I like cornbread to be sweet but not cake-sweet, and slightly crumbly, but not dry.  This recipe gets it right every single time.

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on this link:


Tuscan Low-Salt Bread


 There’s something to be said for bread recipes that make 2-3 loaves at a pop.  You can toss a loaf or two in the freezer, and be set for days.  HOWEVER – this one loaf tastes, looks, and feels so phenomenal, you will treasure it more than a freezer-full of everyday bread.

Tuscan Low-Salt Bread is a round, low-lying loaf with a beautiful, pocked crust and that special artisan taste.  I like it best with big pieces torn off, looking rugged and steamy on my plate.  Might just need to be served alongside some Farmhouse Soup!

This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  If you love baking bread and want to try many varieties (but not have to guess about what to do or why), get this book!

A few notes from Rose:

1. Because of an ancient government tax levied on products containing salt, this bread is traditionally made without the salt.

2. The low amount of salt (if you use some) means that the yeast can rise uninhibited, making it possible to use less yeast and derive more flavor from the flour.

3. Eliminate the salt entirely if you wish to be traditional, but note that the rising times will be a little shorter.


Tuscan Low-Salt Bread


Biga (Starter):

1/2 C. + 1/2 TBS unbleached all-purpose King Arthur flour

1/16 tsp. instant yeast

1/4 C. of 70-90 degree water


1 3/4 C. same King Arthur flour

1/2 tsp. instant yeast

biga (starter)

2/3 C. water

1/2 tsp. salt (if desired)

Also: 1/2 C. ice cubes for baking process (make some if you don’t have any!)


Stir the ingredients of the biga (starter) together in a small bowl using a wooden spoon for 3-5 minutes.  It will be very tacky and will come away from the side of the bowl when it’s been stirred enough.  It should also cling a little to your fingers when touched.

Cover the bowl tightly with either plastic wrap or a lid (if you decide to oil the lid a little, make it a little and avoid the edges – I sprayed the whole lid a lot once, and the thing shot off in the middle of the night from the pressure).

Allow the biga to triple and fill with bubbles.  It takes about 6 hours at room temperature.  At this point, either stir the biga down and refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking OR do the following (my favorite, for ultimate flavor):

Ferment the biga in a cool area (55-65 degrees) for 12-24 hours.  After 24 hours at this temperature, it will not deflate.  I usually just mix it up the night before, go about my life, and begin making the bread the next morning.  Easy peasy, whatever that means.

 The next day, or whenever you’ve decided to make the bread, mix the flour, yeast, and biga.  It will take some doing to get the biga incorporated, but be patient.  Think of the great workout your forearms are getting!

Add the water a little at a time until a rough dough forms.  Scrape down the dough bits.  Cover with plastic wrap (a plastic bag without any holes works fine, wrapped snugly around the bowl).  Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Sprinkle on salt if you’re using it and knead by hand for 7 minutes. 

Again, think of the awesome arm workout you’re getting and all the women who have done this process by hand for centuries past.  I’ll remind myself of that next time I’m checking the clock 3 MINUTES into the process.

By the end of 7 minutes, the dough should be elastic, smooth, and sticky enough to cling to your fingers.  If it’s so sticky that it’s impossible to work with, add in a little flour at a time while kneading.  Using an oiled spatula or a bench scraper, move the dough into an oiled bowl.

Push down the dough and lightly spray the top (I use Pam).  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap (a damp towel won’t work well in this case because of the long rising time – not worth risking the dough forming a crust).  Allow it to rise until tripled, about 3 hours.

You fill in the blanks – you’ve got 3 hours!  Do whatever you feel like!  Read a good book on a swing…

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees one hour before baking (so think ahead – 2 hours to yourself, preheat the oven, and go have fun the last hour too).  Make sure an oven shelf is in the lowest position, and put a baking stone on it.  If you don’t have a baking stone, don’t sweat it. 

Gently turn the dough onto a pan or parchment paper well dusted with flour.  I use parchment paper so that I pick up the risen dough and deposit it safely onto the baking stone.  If you are not using a stone, making sure your dough rises this final time on a baking sheet/pan, with or without parchment paper.  The dough should be about 8″x6″, 1 1/4″ high.  Basically roundish and low-lying.  Dust the top with flour and let it rise 1/4″, for 30 minutes.

Next: quickly but gently set the baking sheet or parchment paper on the hot stone.  Toss 1/2 C. of ice cubes on the bottom of the oven (or in a pan below, if that works in your oven).  Shut the door fast!  You want to keep all that moisture locked inside.

Bake the loaf for 20-25 minutes until golden.  Remove it from the oven and cool it completely (if you can wait that long before tasting it). 


For a picture-free, easy-to-read version of this recipe, please click on this link:


If you’d like to try a basic bread recipe before making this loaf, keeping checking back.  I’ll be posting the recipe for our Everyday Italian Bread on an upcoming Recipe Book Wednesday!