08 December 2007

All Things Pumpkin

There's just something about pumpkin-centric baked treats. I think they're one of the main reasons I enjoy the holidays so much. That smell of fresh-baked pumpkiny goodness wafting through the house... mmmm.

Two nights ago, I made an awesome recipe that my mom gave me, for pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. Haven't made a pumpkin pie yet this year, but that's really what got me into baking in the first place, learning from my grandmother how to make a pie-crust for a pumpkin pie. And some of my fondest holiday food memories involve my mom's awesome pumpkin bread recipe. I decided it was time to share these three favorite recipes.

So here you go, fellow pumpkin-dessert lover. Indulge and enjoy.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream-Cheese Frosting

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 eggs
1 c vegetable oil
2 c sugar
15 oz can pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients (except sugar). In a separate, large mixing bowl, mix the oil, eggs, sugar and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.

Pour batter into ungreased jelly roll pan (17 x 21 x 1) or a 9 x 13 cake pan. If using jelly roll pan, bake 15-20 minutes; if using cake pan, bake 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 c softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 c powdered sugar

Combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla; add sugar while mixing; stir until frosting is smooth.

(I know, isn't it awful how easy it is to make? You gained 2 pounds just by reading the recipe. But it's sooooo good.)

Mom's Pumpkin Bread

3 c sugar - 1 1/2 c white, 1 1/2 c brown
1 c vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
1/3 c water
2 c pumpkin (16 oz can)
3 1/3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1 Tbs cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, oil, eggs & water; beat well. Add pumpkin. Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour batter into 3 small greased loaf pans (not glass), 8.5 x 4.25 x 3". Bake for ~ 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If using Pyrex, bake 30-35 minutes. Turn loaf out of pan and let cool on wire rack.

Grandma's Pie Crust

2 crust pie:
2 c flour
1/4 c water
1 tsp salt
3/4 c shortening
1/3 c flour/salt to mix with water

1 crust pie:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c shortening
1/2 tsp salt
3-5 Tbs water

Sift flour & salt together. Take 1/4 c of flour/salt mixture and mix with 3 Tbs water (dry/high altitude climates, 4 Tbs). Add shortening to the dry flour-salt mixture and mix with a pastry blender; add in the wet flour-salt mixture and mix. (Use a light hand with delicate pastries like this, don't overmix.) Add a little more water as needed.

Roll out on a pastry cloth to a circle 9 inches, depending on the pie pan. To transfer to the pan, gently roll the pie-crust around the rolling-pin and quickly lift it over the pan, then pat down the crust, trim the edges and flute by pinching the edges.

Pumpkin Pie

1/8 tsp salt
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground/powdered ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 2/3 c milk
1 1/2 c pumpkin (1 can)

Beat eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add to eggs.
Add milk & pumpkin.
Line piepan with crust and pour in filling. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes (high altitude: 20 minutes). Reduce heat to 325 degrees (high altitude can do 350 degrees) and bake for 35+ minutes (high altitude: 45-60 minutes) until knife in center comes out clean. Let cool.

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Homemade Whipped Cream

Chill mixer paddles and mixing bowl in fridge for at least half an hour. Pour heavy whipping cream in bowl and beat with handheld mixer until growing stiff (forms soft peaks). Fold in white sugar and mix to taste, about 1/4 - 1/3 cup.

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