Pumpkin and Chocolate Chips

“It’s pumpkin season everything!”

This quote was posted on social media by my nephew several years ago. His reference to pumpkin season was followed by a fun list of all the fun pumpkin foods on the market this time of year. It made me laugh because it’s so true! Once fall begins, we are inundated (but delightfully so) with pumpkin products and pumpkin flavored food.

This pumpkin bread* from Rachel Gurk’s food blog surprised me. It listed no oil or butter and only 3/4 cup maple syrup (for two loaves of bread). It also lists healthy ingredients such as yogurt, whole wheat flour, and no refined sugar. Rachel’s blog also has a recipe for making your own pumpkin spice.

Due to my personal taste, I used less whole wheat flour in this recipe. Instead, I added two and a half cups of King Arthur white flour and only one cup of whole wheat flour. I made Rachel’s homemade pumpkin spice, added my homemade yogurt, and used fresh pumpkin puree. I also added a half cup of chopped walnuts. For more attractive loaves, I sprinkled chopped chips and walnuts on top right before popping them in the oven.

This pumpkin bread came out beautifully and was super easy to make. It was moist and delicious even without fat and excess sugar.

Welcome to everything pumpkin season! — Carole

Healthy Pumpkin Bread Chocolate Bread Recipe

Rachel Gurk’s Homemade Pumpkin Spice

Anise & Apricots

This artisan apricot sourdough bread developed by Sophie MacKenzie is delightfully sweet yet has no sugar! I particularly enjoyed the unique subtle anise flavor created by adding anise seeds. Twice made, this recipe turned out to be fantastic sandwich bread or incredibly delicious sliced for snacking.

Any sourdough bread baker would find this bread super easy and fun to make. Stretching and folding this well-hydrated dough* with lovely soft dried apricots has a light pleasing feel. I purchased Nature’s Garden Probiotic Apricots which were “irresistibly plump and succulent” and added chopped soaked pieces to the dough. I used my homemade sourdough starter that was bubbly active.

By the second day of fermentation (it’s a 2-day recipe), the dough was bursting from my banneton with live cultures. The final bread, baked in a dutch oven, had that crusty exterior we all look for in artisan bread and an airy interior with soft sweet apricots and anise seeds interspersed.

Be bold and try this naturally sweet fruity sourdough recipe!

Apricot Sourdough with Anise on Baked_the blog (the information and photos are excellent) About food developer Sophie McKenzie

* Used King Arthur Bread Flour & Nature’s Garden Probiotic Apricots

Grandma’s Lavender Cookies

“Her love was like lavender, delicate and melancholy.” – from ‘The Painting of Mrs. Ravensbrook’ by Laura Chouette

Lavender may be delicate, but its fragrance is intense! My backyard garden has a burgeoning Munstead Lavender plant with deep purple flowers. They were so abundant this season that I was able to create a beautiful lavender wreath and tuck lavender vases on bedroom tables. Reading about Meghan’s memories and baking her recipe Grandma’s Lavender Cookies added to the joy of working with lavender.

This is a simple butter/sugar cookie with a hint of lavender flavor. It is important to only use a small amount of dried lavender because this potent herb can easily overwhelm the palate creating a bitter aftertaste. Unable to obtain lavender extract for the icing, I successfully made it from scratch and I am sharing the recipe below.

Overall this is a lovely cookie to enjoy with a cup of tea. The dappled purple flowers on the icing added special photographic appeal.

Happy Summertime! — Carole

Grandma’s Lavender Cookies – from CakenKnife

Lavender extract – from Milk + Pop