Slightly decadent, yet at the same time wholesome, this pumpkin chocolate chip bread is moist, sweet, and spiced with the iconic flavors of cinnamon and cloves. A thick slice of it tastes delicious with a hot cup of coffee or tea, or a cold glass of milk. It’s the perfect afternoon treat or after-school snack. And this recipe makes two loaves, so you can either keep both loaves for yourself, or keep one and give one away and make someone’s day!
This focaccia is light and delicately flavored with olive oil and rosemary. Spelt flour gives it a softly sweet, earthy flavor and packs in more nutritional value than conventional flour. It is perfect alongside a bowl of soup or a salad, as a snack, or as a base for countless toppings of vegetables, meat, and cheese.
Focaccia, an oven-baked Italian flatbread, is similar to pizza dough. It is like a blank slate on which you can add a variety of toppings. In this recipe, the focaccia is simply topped with olive oil, coarse sea salt, and fresh rosemary. I based my recipe on one by Paul Kahan, which I found on theFood & Winewebsite. His recipe calls for topping the focaccia with kale, squash, and pecorino cheese, which sounds absolutely delicious. However, the other day, I was just looking for a simple, flavorful bread to use as a side with our dinner of leftover soups, so I left off the vegetable toppings in this case, since we already had a lot of vegetables in the soups, and I wanted just bread.
This bread is lovely. It is easy to make. Maybe a little time-consuming, yes, because it has to rise twice. But the actual hands-on time is not much. It’s good to make on a day when you will be home for about three hours, but the good part is you can do lots of things around the house while the dough is rising and baking.
Spelt flour comes from an ancient whole grain, and though it does contain gluten, its gluten is more fragile and water soluble, so it is easier to digest than conventional wheat flours. Spelt also has more iron, fiber, and B vitamins than conventional flours. I am not about to give up wheat flours, but it is really nice to add some variety to our diet, and I really like the slightly nutty, slightly earthy taste of spelt flour.
The spelt flour does not need to be kneaded as much as conventional wheat flour, and tends to create a stickier dough. This surprised me a bit the first time I worked with it. But don’t worry, even if it feels sticky when you are forming the dough on the baking sheet, it bakes beautifully. And if your dough gets too sticky to work with, you can add a bit of all-purpose flour as well. I love the flexibility of bread-making, because you can always add a bit of flour or a bit of water or olive oil, and things usually work out! I also love the flexibility of focaccia, and I expect I will be making it again soon, either with spelt flour, conventional flour, or a combination, and maybe next time topped with some vegetables.
My fingers are soft from the olive oil and they smell wonderful, like rosemary. As I was making this spelt focaccia with rosemary, I was once again struck by the primal comfort I feel when working with dough. There must be something deep within my genetic makeup that calls me to the kitchen to bake. It is deeply rewarding and comforting to me. And everyone in my family enjoyed this bread–that is a bonus!
The other day, I came across a quote that struck a chord with me. I was waiting for our car to be repaired, reading an online article on bonappetit.com. The article is written by Jenny Rosenstrach and Andy Ward, known for the great blog, Dinner: A Love Story. If you are ever tired, discouraged, or frustrated about making dinner for others, remember this quote from that article: “Don’t ever let someone convince you that cooking a meal for your kids–or anyone else for that matter–is one more thing to check off the to-do list. Every time you feed someone, you’re offering love, security, comfort, therapy, and memories shrouded in happiness and warmth. It’s no small thing.”
I just love that quote, and I agree wholeheartedly with it. We all have our unique ways of cooking and putting meals on the table, and it’s not always easy, but never forget how important it is. I hope you all have a great weekend! It’s March! It came in like a lion, but hopefully spring will be here soon!Now it’s time to head over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Angie and Laura @ Feast Wisely.
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling at baking time
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
In a large mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, yeast, warm (make sure your water is luke-warm and not hot) water, honey, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, not more than a minute. If the dough is too sticky, you can add some more spelt flour or a couple tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make it easier to work with.
Clean out the mixing bowl or get another one and oil it lightly with olive oil. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until it about doubles in size.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch the dough down and then transfer it to the baking sheet. Gently press it into a 12 x 8 inch oval shape. If it is too sticky, put some flour on your hands to make it easier to shape the dough. Then brush about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of olive oil over the dough. Press small indentations all over the dough with your finger and then sprinkle evenly with the coarse sea salt and rosemary. Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the focaccia for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Enjoy as a side for a bowl of soup or a salad, or as a snack!
This recipe is adapted from Paul Kahan’s recipe on the Food & Wine website.
Pumpkin puree and finely chopped apple slices keep this bread naturally moist, while cinnamon and cloves give it that classic, comforting taste and aroma. What better way to savor fall than to bake with apple and pumpkin? And it is a bonus to have a bread that is sweet enough to be considered a treat, yet wholesome enough to be considered a hearty, healthy snack. The recipe makes two loaves, so keep one loaf and give the other away, or keep both loaves!
I adapted this recipe from one I found in my Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson. Since I did not have quite as much pumpkin puree as the recipe called for, I added some chopped apple slices to make up the difference, and the combination is delicious. It is a very mild bread, and my husband, who is not a huge fan of a strong pumpkin flavor, prefers this adaptation. My kids love it too, as do some of their friends (I often pack extra in their lunches so they can share).This past few days the weather has really turned, and it has been chilly and breezy outside. It is dark earlier in the evenings, and dark when I take the kids to school in the mornings. Suddenly the inside of the home becomes more appealing, and we spend more time inside. We crave cozy things like baking bread, hot tea and blankets, soft lamps and candles. I get to wear my favorite rain boots out and about, and tromp around in the woods taking pictures of the colorful leaves before they fall, and as they fall.
I was leafing through a cookbook the other day and saw a recipe for ice pops. When I saw it, I realized how far away summer seems now! Instead of dreaming up fun flavor combinations for homemade ice pops, after a busy day spent going all kinds of different directions, nowadays we are sitting down in the evenings with a cup of hot tea. Even my kids are getting into drinking herbal tea, and I love using that as an excuse to drink a cup with them and try to find out what’s going on in their lives, though I don’t think I ever really find out as much as I’d like to. This pumpkin apple bread goes perfectly with tea, by the way.
1 and 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree (if you prefer to use all pumpkin and no apple, just use 2 cups of pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup of apple, peeled and finely chopped
2/3 cup of water
3 and 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Add the pumpkin, chopped apple, and water. Stir well until thoroughly combined.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Stir with a fork until well combined. Stir the dry ingredients into the bowl with the pumpkin mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Fold in the nuts, if you are using them.
Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans, distributing the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake in your 350-degree oven for about one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
Let the bread cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then gently turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from one found in Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.