Posts Tagged With: Flour

Autumn Recipes – Pumpkin Streusel Muffins and Pumpkin Juice

Finally fall!

Finally fall!

Just last week, in the heart of October, the temperatures here in central Pennsylvania were topping out at over 80 degrees F, which did little to engender an autumnal spirit in the locals. Today, though, fall seems to be in full swing, as gilded leaves flutter to the ground, carried by a slight breeze that still holds a memory of its summer warmth, but is fully encased in autumnal crispness. Because of this much-appreciated return of the season I love so much, I couldn’t wait to put some of last week’s pumpkin purée to use in an autumn recipe or two!

Attempting Autumn Recipes

This was my first time using fresh pumpkin, so I was a bit apprehensive (Would everything be too watery? Would I be horrified to find that I like canned pumpkin better? What if I didn’t freeze the pumpkin correctly, and it’s just an icy mess?). Thankfully, our purée did not live up to its watery reputation; it emerged from the freezer without a single ice crystal to speak of; and, the earthy, autumnal aroma that burst forth from each bag of glowing orange purée removed all doubt from my mind that canned pumpkin could ever threaten the quality of fresh.
So, with all of my fears at ease, today we’ll be digging into two very different ways to fully enjoy fall’s flavors!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Complete recipe yields 14 – 18 muffins

Pumpkin Muffin Ingredients

Pumpkin Muffin Ingredients

Ingredients for Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or use white whole wheat flour for a healthier kick)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin purée (equal to one can of pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter (melted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Ingredients for Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions for

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, nuts, and salt until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until blended.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined
  5. To make the streusel topping, mix the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon with a fork until well blended and crumbly.
  6. Pour the muffin batter into two greased muffin trays, filling each cup with batter until 2/3 of the way full. Top each filled cup with 1 Tablespoon of the streusel topping.
  7. Bake fro 15 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, then enjoy this autumn recipe!

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Our Second Fall Recipe

After milling our pumpkin purée from last week, I was fascinated by the pumpkin juice created via this grinding process. So, feeling particularly autumnal and adventurous, I set out to learn if pumpkin juice was actually something people drank, outside of the Harry Potter world, of course! It turns out, that not only can pumpkin juice be enjoyed alone, it can augment traditional apple cider into something even more reminiscent of the flavors of fall (and it can infuse your kitchen with an autumnal aroma that seems too perfect to be real)!

Spiced Pumpkin Cider

Yields approximately one quart of cider


  • 4 cups of apple cider (1/4 gallon)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (feel free to add more, if you prefer a stronger pumpkin flavor)
  • 1 cup apricot nectar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried or fresh orange peel (the zest of half an orange worked well for me)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until the mixture reaches a boil.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a wire strainer.
  3. Let cool and store in the fridge. This blend is also fantastic when hot, perfect for the impending autumnal chill!
Pumpkins, Apples, and Spices: The Flavors of Fall!

Pumpkins, Apples, and Spices: The Flavors of Fall!

With these fall recipes, a batch of warm pumpkin muffins, and mug of spiced pumpkin cider, you now have all the flavors of fall close at hand and ready to enjoy! I hope you’ll stop by this Saturday for an excavation into the aged art of transforming apples into butter!

For the history lovers in the audience, if you’re looking for a more in-depth look at the history of the pumpkin, we’ll be excavating that particular tradition in a couple weeks when we look at hard-shelled gourds!

Thanks for stopping by the dig!

Categories: Autumn Recipes, Baking, Breakfast, Drink Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking Ground and Breaking Bread: A Tradition 30,000 Years in the Making

As this is our first expedition into the excavation of food and cooking, I thought it best to build our foundation on what might be considered the cornerstone of true baking as we know it. Often cited as the most frequently eaten food item in nearly every culture (both modern and ancient), bread has long established itself as a true necessity in every kitchen. But for all the credit we give to this versatile, delicious, and (when prepared well) soul-satisfying food-staple, I believe most of us (myself included) take bread’s journey for granted. For when we look deeper at bread’s history, the lovable loaf becomes far more interesting than the sum of its ingredients.

The Lore of the Loaf

While it may seem as though bread simply appears on our grocery store shelves every week, our modern method of seemingly instant and reliable bread production belies the accidental and unpredictable origins that faced the pre-historic loaf.
Bread’s beginnings, while difficult to solidly determine, seem to reside in the middle of the Upper

An artist's depiction of the Red Lady of Paviland being coated in red ochre.

An artist’s depiction of the Red Lady of Paviland being coated in red ochre.

Paleolithic age in Europe, roughly 30,000 years ago. While culture and civilization as we know it had not been fully derived by this time, people groups were beginning to develop unique identities. Ceramics adorned with artwork, cave paintings, and the use of dyes (notably used in the creation of the Red Lady of Paviland, a near-complete human skeleton ceremoniously dyed with red ochre) all seem to stem from this time period; and, most important for the inception of bread, cooking on heated stones finally came into vogue during this era. No longer did Paleolithic men and women have to subsist on raw grain and water gruel, but, with the application of their revolutionary cooking technology, they were able to enjoy the first steaming morsels of unleavened flatbread. With portable bread in hand, this discovery exploded across the ancient world, giving rise to many of our modern flatbreads (tortillas, pitas, and naan, just to name a few).

Bread’s Rise

But how did bread grow from flat discs into the fluffy, rounded loaves we know today? The answer to this question baffled pre-modern man for over 20,000 years, as the means to attaining yeast, the microbial agent that “puffs up” our modern bread, would require not just a mastery over fire, but the control of the winds themselves.

Pictorial account of ancient Egyptian breadmaking

Pictorial account of ancient Egyptian bread making

Although you might not be aware of it, you’re currently surrounded by the very yeast particles needed to create a satisfyingly airy loaf of bread. The trick to creating that loaf, however, is in capturing and controlling that yeast (a wildly unpredictable process that I hope to showcase in a future excavation). Historians suggest that yeast could have been used in the ancient world, if only by accident. While yeast may have wandered into the bread dough being prepared for the fire, the true, intentional use of yeast falls to the Egyptians. Because the ancient Egyptians (around 5,000 years ago) left behind preserved food stores, scientists have been able to inspect the air-bubbles left in ancient Egyptian bread: air bubbles that indicate the direct handiwork of tiny yeast organisms. From here, yeast became an integral component in not only the nutrition of modernizing cultures, but also in the sordid side of cultural advancement as well (most notably in the beer and wine making industries). While bread continued to evolve on a small scale as it encountered new cultures and time periods, leavened bread has remained relatively unchanged from antiquity to the present.

So, to celebrate such a time-worn, and ancient practice, my first recipe for today will introduce a simple, yet fulfilling and delicious bread recipe that can form the basis for your own experimentation and advancement of the bread making tradition! I chose to pair flax seeds with this week’s bread, as the use of flax also dates to the Upper Paleolithic: again, roughly 30,000 years ago. Feel free to substitute the flax with the seeds, nuts, or fruits of your choice!

Melding Ancient Practice with Modern Technology: Whole Wheat and Flax Bread Recipe

Complete recipe will make two loaves of bread


  • 3 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees F / around 45 C)
  • 2 packs of active dry yeast (roughly 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2/3 cup honey (divided equally into two parts)
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • (Optional) 3 Tablespoons flax seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 – 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • (Optional) 2 Tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup of honey in a large bowl. Add the bread flour and flax seeds and stir until combined. Place in a warm place for 30 minutes, until the dough has risen (see Before and After #1 at the end of this post)
  2. When the dough has risen, mix in 3 Tablespoons melted butter, the rest of the honey, and the salt. Stir in two cups of wheat flour.
  3. Cover a flat surface with flour and kneed the dough until it’s not real sticky. The dough will pull away from the counter, but still be sticky to the touch. You may have to add additional wheat flour – I usually add an extra 1 to 1 1/2 cups, but this amount varies each time.
  4. Place the dough into a large, greased bowl, and turn the dough until it is covered in oil. Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled – this typically takes around 1 hour (see Before and After #2).
  5. When the dough has doubled, punch it down and divide it into two loaves. Place loaves into two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Let the dough rise another 10 – 20 minutes until the dough is at least one inch above the edge of the pan (see Before and After #3).
  6. Bake the loaves at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Optional (but highly recommended): Brush the additional 2 Tablespoons of melted butter onto the tops of the loaves to prevent them from hardening.
  8. Let cool completely before slicing.
  9. Enjoy a taste of modern history!

    The Finished Loaf!

    The Finished Loaf!

I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this first excavation into ancient baking! Stay tuned for the second half of our ground-breaking introduction, which will be a bit more GrecoRoman!

Keep digging!

Before and After #1

Before and After #2

Before and After #3

Categories: Baking, Bread, History, Year Round Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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