Autumn Exists Here

I have been baking up a storm as often as I can, but I keep putting off offloading the pictures from the camera so I can put them up here. Ultimate laziness!

But I’ve been wanting to post, and yesterday gave me the perfect excuse to. Mikal and I were walking out to a pet food store to get Ginger more noms; it was late in the day, still a bit sunny, but chilly in the shadows. Mikal has a habit of kicking leaves on the sidewalk when they are in large enough quantities, and the path there obliged us with that a few times. The leaves made a nice crisp-crunchy sound and went flying, or just skittered out of the way. I realized at some point, as I had realized a few times since coming down to the Bay Area, that this suits us – there are actual seasons here. In Olympia, even if we did get a somewhat crisp fallish time of year, the leaves might be dry for a day or two before we would get enough rain to make kicking them much too unpleasant for my taste (not that this discouraged Mikal from doing so). We’ve had a few rainy/cloudy days, and it is getting chillier, but it feels like we’re getting a real autumn season. Perhaps it is because I grew up on the Bay Area and this is what I am used to for the progression of the seasons, but it felt like we had about two, perhaps two and a half seasons in Olympia: winter, which might last 50-75% of the year, the occasional spring, and summer, which would never last long enough. It just never felt like the year progressed quite right.

The weather is different here. I like it.

Revisiting Pumpkin Scones

The pumpkin scones I made a week ago were such a hit at the office that I couldn’t pass up an excuse to make them again. I won’t rehash the whole recipe, but this time I added a quarter cup flour to the mix right off the bat to prevent the stickiness. I have a feeling that I would take it down to 1/8th cup next time, because they didn’t turn out terribly dry, but they seemed dryer than I was expecting given the first batch. The dough was much easier to work with time, though it did eventually get to being sticky again once all flour was worked in. At least I was able to pick up the wedges without a spatula to get them on the baking sheet this time.

Also: picture!

Also, just so you know… I’m getting totally addicted to pinterest. I have been on it for the last couple of weeks getting ideas for various holiday items/decor/sendables I could make. The ribbons on the plate was a pinterest inspiration. I have a problem with giving away goodies on plates, and keep having to chase the plates down. This is a great alternative – disposable, but has a little interest with the ribbons. Makes it not seem so much like a paper plate. I do need to invest in smaller plates, though, so that I don’t have to give away whole big platters of things.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar-Pecan Streusel

The pumpkin saga continues.

I recently went out and bought two more sugar pie pumpkins and a case of 16oz canning jars. Until the making of this recipe, I had four jars full of pumpkin puree. Four jars. Doesn’t seem like that much, until you realize that most recipes might call for one cup. That’s at least eight different recipes I could make. This was the first of those recipes. I had so many rave reviews that I might just have to make it again soon.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar-Pecan Streusel

from Williams-Sonoma


1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted


1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sour cream


1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

To toast pecans:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread the nuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly toasted – about 10 minutes.

While these are cooling, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the streusel, in a bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Toss in the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Alternatively, whir the ingredients in a food processor. Stir in the pecans. Set aside.

To make the batter, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the pumpkin puree and sour cream and mix with the spatula. Stir in the flour mixture. The batter will be quite thick.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. (My batter was rather thick and a bit unwieldy – it took a lot of work to spread it and make sure it was adequately distributed. I haven’t made it a second time yet, but I might be reposting/editing this once I have a chance to do some more experimenting. I might go for another quarter cup pumpkin to enhance the pumpkin flavor and moisture of the batter.) Sprinkle half of the streusel over the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the streusel and spread the thick batter as best you can on top. Top with the remaining streusel. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean – about 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove the sides from the pan and slide the cake onto the rack.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl whisk together with confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Drizzle over the top of the cake. Cut into thick wedges and serve. Makes one 9-inch coffee cake.

Amazing Pumpkin Scones

I completely forgot about making anything for work today until around ten last night. It just never entered my mind. So I scrambled for this recipe that I’ve had sitting on my desktop for a while now for pumpkin scones. It’s supposed to be a very close approximation for Starbucks pumpkin scones, and I guess I would say that they achieve that. They’re better, actually. More moist. They do get a bit tough to work with – I had to add probably a quarter cup more flour to the recipe once I got it out of the bowl because it was just that sticky. Perhaps it’s because I use fresh pumpkin purée, rather than canned? That’s my bet.

Pumpkin Scones

(This recipe makes 6 Starbucks-sized scones. I doubled it and easily got about 16-18 of varying sizes)
2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée
3 tbsp half-and-half
1 large egg
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes

Spiced Icing
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease baking sheet and dust with flour or use parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half and egg.

Cut butter into dry ingredients. Continue cutting until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form dough into a ball. The dough will be wet, but if it seems super sticky just go ahead and sprinkle a bit more flour into the dough until it is easier to handle. Remember, you want it to be somewhat sticky and that’s ok – but you don’t want it to stick to the baking sheet. You also don’t want to overwork it or you’ll lose a lot of the flaky-goodness of scone. Pat dough onto baking sheet into a roughly rectangle shape. (From here I stuck it in the fridge for a bit to help it be a bit more handle-friendly. I would say stick in for half an hour if you’re having trouble.) Cut into rough squares, then cut the squares diagonally to make into triangles. Place ~1 inch apart.

Bake for around 15 minutes, or until lightly brown. Remove scones from baking sheet and let cool completely on cooling rack.

Whisk icing ingredients together and drizzle on top of each scone.

Enjoy the amazing.

Fall is upon us!

I love fall. I love the colors, I love the smells, I love how the weather gets a bit crisper and you have to wear a bit more clothing. I love everything about it. Fall and winter bring out my baking with a vengeance. On top of that, I love throwing parties. I find them to be amazingly fun. I love decorating, and I love making themed foods. I love it all.

Today is not so much a baking day, though I have been doing a fair amount lately. I just haven’t had much time or energy to actually sit down and write about it. I keep wanting to put photos up but I just haven’t gotten my stuff together quite enough to do it.

Anyway, I woke up today burning to bake a couple of sugar pie pumpkins I have, and finally getting around to syruping and canning some strawberries we have in the fridge. With one pumpkin in the oven and the strawberry juice cooking, I realized…. I have no idea where my jar lids are >< Not that I can find that many of my jars – I have four that I know the location of. So I dashed out the door to grab more jars and some more half-and-half because I was out, and that makes me sad.

It’s one of those beautiful days out – it’s going to be pretty warm today, because it’s decently warm already, but it’ll be beautiful and perfect, and I want to take advantage of it because it’s my day off. I took my time walking to the stores, looked at the succulents outside of Orchard Supply, as well as the fall/halloween decorations. I have so many ideas! At one point on Thursday when it finally slowed down toward the evening at work, I started looking through the Food Network and Sunset websites for ideas – my halloween party is just a month away!

I know I’m going to make a really awesome pumpkin soup I made last year – you cook a soup of broth and spices, possibly some other stuff (can’t quite remember), then you hollow out a pumpkin and serve it in the pumpkin with gruyère cheese on top. Amazing! I’ve also decided on leaf-shaped cookies, probably the cardamom sugar cookie recipe I have made for xmas before. I want to figure out a good molasses cookie recipe – if anyone has any that are tried and true, I’d love to see them – because those are amazing for fall. I might even do whoopie pies, not sure. Never made them before >.>

I may attempt a pumpkin cheesecake, too. I’m not really a fan of flavored cheesecakes; I like my cheesecakes nice and naked, thank you very much. But I have a feeling that the flavor of the pumpkin would actually do really well with the cream cheese, and compliment it rather than making funky with the texture or flavor.

Other thoughts on things to try: pumpkin caramels, pumpkin waffles (need wafflemaker), pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin pie parfait, pumpkin punch, etc.

The one thing I’m not so certain on are decorations. I know I will be bringing my witchy Domo down – can’t have a party without him. But other than that I have no solid ideas. I don’t want to have to put down too much money on it, so it’ll probably be home-made, but I don’t want to be spending forever on it. I know Mikal has volunteered to put stuff together, but we haven’t made any solid plans yet. I would definitely welcome ideas – both for fall and halloween themes.

And now for the good stuff. 🙂 I have a pumpkin bread recipe that I have been using for three years now, and it’s just perfect. The only hiccough I had with this batch was that my ground cloves came out a bit more densely packed than my other spices – kind of like brown sugar does – and so there was a bit of a strong hint of cloves. Oh well – it was still amazingly awesome.

Pumpkin Bread or Muffins

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil or 2 sticks butter (I use butter)
3 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin purée
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two loaf or muffin pans (or use baking cups). Beat sugar and oil/butter in a large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin purée. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center come out clean – about 1hr for loafs, 1/2 hour for muffins. Transfer to racks and cool 10 mins. Remove loaves from pans using a knife around the sides (and perhaps a spatula on the bottom – sometimes sticks even with butter/flour). Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Eat. Eat more. Share. Eat more.