Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Deconstruct a Pumpkin

There were sugar pumpkins at the fruit stand today. Since I've been charged with bringing pumpkin pie (and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce) to my Thanksgiving gathering, I figured I'd take the unknown route, and give a good excuse for a how-to picture post. (I followed this site.)

How-To: Turn a Solid Pumpkin Into Puree
1. Preheat oven to 350°F, wash the pumpkin and remove stalk.

2. Using a large knife or, in this case, a cleaver, slice pumpkin in half.

3. Scoop out stringy center and seeds. (Put seeds aside for delicious roasting, of course.)

4. Fill a pan with 1/2" of water and place pumpkin halves cut-side down.

5. Roast for an hour, or until skin pierces easily.

6. Remove pumpkin flesh from the skin and food process until smooth.

Ok, baby food level might have been TOO smooth. That's ok, I'll just mix it in with the less-processed batch.

Check in after Thanksgiving for the whole pie, and tomorrow for the pie crust.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Baking in Monochrome

We had leftover oranges at work, so I took some home to make orange bowknots from Better Homes and Gardens. The sweet, yeast rolls will be excellent for a brunch book group tomorrow.

I basically followed the recipe, extending the rises to accommodate slow yeast (probably due to a cold house) and substituting one of the eggs for 1/4 c pumpkin puree. (I was out of eggs.) The pumpkin made the dough delightfully orange!

(Click the images for larger ones)

This recipe made me really realize how much I've grown as a baker in the past two years. The first time I made them with with a friend, the rolls tasted great but the texture was dense, and they weren't appealing cold. These...are proper, fluffy, sweet and orangey rolls. Even though the orange peels were ugly, adding suspicious dark flecks to the dough, even though a few tiny seeds slipped through the strainer, they're tasty. I don't think it's that I'm paying more attention to the recipe--I've always brought my lab technique into the kitchen--I think it's more that I have an idea of what things should be like and I take steps to correct errors before they cause issues.

Question for our tiny readership: How much do you guys appreciate process photos? We'll take them as frequently as we remember, but if it annoys you, we can refrain from posting them all. At least, I can.