Pumpkin Spice Bread ~ ElephantEats.com

Well, I’m back from my Italian vacation. I’ll have to tell you more about it in another post, but the highlight was definitely a private cooking class my parents and I had in Chianti with this awesome chef. He was a chemist before becoming a chef and he explained cooking very scientifically (Shannon, you would have loved it ;) ).

I ended up learning a ton! We cooked up grilled fresh porcini mushrooms on toast with truffles and truffle oil, homemade gnocci with an amazing bolognese sauce that didn’t have to simmer for hours, white beans with fresh sausage, and the creamiest tiramisu for dessert. 

But anyway, I’m SO excited it’s October!!! Autumn is my absolute favorite season (I can’t belive I got married last October!). Unfortunately it’s still a bit warm here in NYC, but hopefully soon the weather will cool down enough for me to pull out my sweaters and curl up with some tea. I just love when the air is crisp and it smells like dry leaves outside. Not to mention, autumn has my two most favorite holidays- Halloween and Thanksgiving. I can’t wait! :)

Storm King Sculpture Park ~ ElephantEats.com

Storm King Sculpture Park- not sure what I’m doing…

Nate and I headed upstate this weekend for a day of fun. First we went to Storm King, a really cool, huge sculpture park. The leaves are starting to change up there and they were so pretty :) The weather was overcast and sprinkly but we made the best of it.

Storm King Sculpture Park 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate, finally doing some heavy lifting

Next we went to Fishkill Farms for some apple picking! Hopefully I’ll make an apple recipe soon that I can post.

Fishkill Farms Apple Picking ~ ElephantEats.com

I love apple picking but it was super crowded at this place and I’m not a fan of crowds. We still managed to take home a good haul, in addition to getting to enjoy some cider donuts and apple cider.

Fishkill Farms ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate hard at work again! I wish he helped that much at home ;)

After apple-picking we met up with our friends who live nearby for dinner, and then finally we headed over to The Blaze, which was the reason for our whole trip upstate. The Blaze is an elaborate walk-through experience of 5,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns.

The Blaze, Hudson Valley ~ ElephantEats.com

My favorite pumpkins- piled into sunflowers!

I had heard great things about it from multiple people, so Nate and I thought we should do it at least once. It was definitely cool to see so many pumpkins lit up, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of them.

The Blaze, Hudson Valley ~ ElephantEats.com

I think it was the sheer magnitude of them all together that impressed me the most. We tried to take pictures but most of them came out blurry since it was so dark. 

The Blaze, Hudson Valley ~ ElephantEats.com

But back to the baking… Now that it’s officially October, I can post another pumpkin recipe. This recipe is the one my mom baked for us growing up, but I’m not sure what the original source is. 

Pumpkin Spice Bread ~ ElephantEats.com

Since I already know I love the recipe, I decided to give it a try subbing in the butter-flavored Olive Oil that I got from Star Fine Foods. I figured a little butter taste certainly wouldn’t hurt! It added an awesome flavor, but obviously you could definitely use regular oil as I’ve always done before now. 

This bread calls for both raisins and pecans, but since Nate is a nuts-in-baked-goods hater, I omitted the pecans. I personally think they add a great crunch. This recipe makes two loaves- one for you and one to give to a friend :)

Pumpkin Spice Bread 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

I’ll be back later in the week with a little feline Halloween fun ;)

Here’s a preview of LC with a cat-proportioned pumpkin we picked up for her at the farm.

LC and a pumpkin ~ ElephantEats.com

If you’re wondering why the pumpkin is shiny, it’s because LC licked it all over.

Spiced Pumpkin Loaves
An autumn spiced pumpkin bread chock full of raisins and nuts!

Yields: 2 loaves
Write a review
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
  1. 4 cups flour
  2. 2 tsp baking soda
  3. 2 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1 tsp nutmeg
  5. 1 tsp ginger
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 2 cups solid packed pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  8. 2 cups packed brown sugar
  9. 1 cup white sugar
  10. 1 cup oil
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 2 cups raisins
  13. 1 cup pecans, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Butter two 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 loaf pans and dust with flour.
  3. Sift first 6 ingredients into a medium bowl.
  4. Using mixer (or whisk), beat pumpkin, sugars, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients until just blended.
  5. Stir in raisins and nuts.
  6. Bake until test comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached- about 1 hr 20 min.
  7. Cool 15 min in pan, then remove and cool completely on wire rack before wrapping in foil.
  1. This gets better in time. The cooked loaves can also be frozen and defrosted at a later time. Wrap them well in foil and then put in a ziploc freezer bag.

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

My blogger friend Alyssa alerted me to Love and Olive Oil’s bagel challenge and encouraged me to try it along with her, and I’m so glad she did! Bagels were one of the foods on my list of things to attempt in my kitchen at some point in my lifetime (along with pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, and a few others).

I followed Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his book Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. They were so much easier to make than i was expecting. Most yeast recipes I have followed require so much rising, but this one (I’m assuming because of the “instant” yeast used) only had one 1-hr rise and then time overnight spent in the fridge.

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

I don’t have the dough hook for my Kitchen Aid mixer and it’s the mixer is such a pain to get out anyway that I rarely use it. I made this recipe by stirring with a wooden spoon and then kneading. I must be seriously out of shape because after 3 minutes of kneading, my abs were seriously sore the next day.

My bagels came out a little flatter than I was expecting but they were still totally delicious. I think it might be because I rolled the dough out into too thin of a “rope.” The recipe says to have a 2.5 inch hole but making it smaller may have kept the bagels puffier.

I also was reading up on flat bagels online and it seems that not refrigerating and simply baking after the first rise might solve the problem, but it could sacrifice the texture.

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

Personally, I was ok with their shape because their texture was SOOO good. They were everything a good bagel is supposed to be- crispy on the outside, airy but chewy on the inside. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bread person and I’m salivating just thinking about it. They smelled amazing too!

Some things I learned that you might find helpful:

  • If you use the second technique in the recipe to form the bagels, do not roll the “ropes” too thin and long.
  • Keep the bagel hole on the small side, especially if you make smaller bagels. If you divide into 8 pieces, keep each hole around 1″ wide
  • If using method two to shape the bagels, don’t overwet the ends or they won’t stick together.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pot when you boil the bagels.
  • If you line your pan with parchment, be sure to snip off any overhang, or it will majorly burn in the very hot 500° oven.
  • The “domed” side of the bagel the recipe is talking about is the side that ends on the bottom.
  • The recipe included here calls for instant yeast, not active dry yeast, but it still needs to be fully dissolved in lukewarm water before being used. If you only have active dry yeast, use 25 percent more (1 1/4 teaspoons instead of 1 teaspoon). Instant yeast is widely available and can also be ordered from King Arthur Flour or Amazon. If frozen, in an airtight container, it will keep up to two years.
  • I saw malt syrup in the market but it was so expensive and only came in a huge bottle so I just used honey in the recipe and it was totally fine.

That’s about it. Other than that, the recipe was super easy to follow. Enjoy!

This post is also being submitted to Yeastspotting!

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

Homemade Bagels

From Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day via Epicurious

Print this recipe!

makes 6-8 bagels

1 tablespoon (0.75 oz / 21 g) barley malt syrup, honey, or rice syrup, or 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) diastatic malt powder
1 teaspoon (0.11 oz / 3 g) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.37 oz / 10.5 g) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz / 255 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
3 1/2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) unbleached bread flour

Poaching liquid
2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Do Ahead:
To make the dough, stir the malt syrup, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended.

The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. I had to add some more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

When you’re ready to shape the bagels, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then misting it with spray oil or lightly coating it with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. (A typical bagel is about 4 ounces or 113 grams before baking, but you can make them smaller. If you make more than 6 bagels, you may need to prepare 2 sheet pans.) Form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. (Don’t use any flour on the work surface. If the dough slides around and won’t ball up, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and try again; the slight bit of moisture will provide enough traction for the dough to form into a ball.)

There are two methods to shape the balls into bagels:

The first method is to poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches in diameter.

The second method, preferred by professional bagel makers, is to use both hands (and a fair amount of pressure) to roll the ball into a rope about 8 inches long on a clean, dry work surface. (Again, wipe the surface with a damp towel, if necessary, to create sufficient friction on the work surface.) Taper the rope slightly at each end and moisten the last inch or so of the ends. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle, going between your thumb and forefinger and then all the way around. The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness if need be and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter. (I think you should make a smaller hole)

Place each shaped bagel on the prepared sheet pan, then mist with spray oil or brush with a light coating of oil. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. (You can also proof the full piece of dough in the oiled bowl overnight and then shape the bagels on baking day, 60 to 90 minutes before boiling and baking them, or as soon as they pass the float test.)

On baking day:
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them, and if you plan to top them with dried onion or garlic, rehydrate those ingredients (see the variations).

Immediately check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled.

If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and gather and prepare your garnishes (seeds, onions, garlic, and so on).
To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.

Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up (the part that’s now on the bottom). (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever toppings you like as soon as the bagels come out of the water (except cinnamon sugar; see the variation for details).

Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F (232°C).
Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.

You can replace any amount of the bread flour with an equal amount of whole grain flour (by weight), such as wheat or rye. If you do so, increase the water in the dough by 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) for every 2 ounces (56.5 g) of whole grain flour you substitute.
Top your bagels with any combination of the following garnishes: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, or rehydrated dried onions or garlic. (Soak dried onions or garlic in water to cover for at least 1 hour before applying.) The toppings will stick even better if you first brush the top of each bagel with an egg white wash made by whisking 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) of water. If using coarse salt as a garnish, remember that a little goes a long way.
For raisin bagels, mix in 1 1/3 cups (8 oz / 227 g) of raisins during the final 2 minutes of mixing and, if you like cinnamon, stir 1/2 teaspoon (0.14 oz / 4 g) of ground cinnamon into the flour before you start mixing. When the bagels come out of the oven, brush the tops with melted butter and dip the top into a bed of cinnamon sugar to give it a very tasty cinnamon crust. You can make cinnamon sugar by whisking 2 tablespoons (1.6 oz / 44 g) of ground cinnamon into 1/2 cup (4 oz / 113 g) of granulated sugar.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate and I headed down to his mom’s last weekend, as we usually do when we have 3 days off. I decided to undertake a bunch of recipes that take longer than I typically have. I thought it was a perfect time to get into some yeasty things.

I had marked down a couple recipes, one for a cinnamon braid bread that I decided to make for breakfast, and the other was a Tomato Rosemary Focaccia Nate found in the NY Times. Nate loves focaccia so I’ve been wanting to make it for him. This particular recipe was “healthy” because it had mostly whole wheat flour.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~ ElephantEats.com

While I waited for the dough to rise, I headed outside to pet the neighbor’s cat. He really seemed to like me, and after about 5-10 min of petting, I decided to come back inside. It was a little chilly and I was in my p.j.’s Well, the cat decided he wasn’t done being pet, so he followed me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get him to leave me alone, and I didn’t want him to get near my mother-in-law’s house because she has two dogs inside that don’t like cats.

I finally was able to trick him and quickly ran in the front door and shut it. It seemed like the coast was clear until I saw him poke his head in the window. He was looking for me!


He stayed on the front porch for about 15 min, meowing and pawing at the window. When I didn’t come back out, he then went to the back door and meowed there too for another 15 min. I felt so bad!

Finally, after about 30 min of this, I went outside and walked him back to the neighbor’s house. They were about to leave and were in the driveway, so they took him and put him inside. Phew. And I thought my cat was needy! Nate threatened to tell L.C. when we got home that I “had an affair with a floozy.”

But back to the food. Nate loves whole wheat breads, but I’m not as much of a fan. I find them a little on the dry side, and this focaccia was no exception. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but you could definitely tell it was made with whole wheat flour. If I’m going to splurge on bread/pasta, I want it to be white flour all the way!

It sure was pretty, though.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~ ElephantEats.com

We had ourselves a nice outdoor dinner. There are few months of the year when I’m willing to eat outside. Usually it’s too cold, or mosquitoes are everywhere (mosquitoes happen to LOVE me).


Anyway, we had a perfect, sunny evening with a nice breeze.


Nate’s mom grilled up some chicken sausage and veggies and we served the focaccia alongside it.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~ ElephantEats.com

I made a chocolate pine nut tart for dessert that was as amazing as it sounds, but the recipe needs a little tweaking before I can share it. I followed the directions but ended up having to split it into two pans because there was too much crust and filling.

We had an awesome Memorial Day. I can’t believe the 4th of July is only a month away! Where has this year gone?

For the focaccia recipe, you can get it from the NY Times site here.

Spiced Cranberry Ricotta Scones

Well here we are approaching Christmas, and I actually have my act together enough to post a festive recipe for you ahead of time! Hopefully you can make this for your family on Christmas morning…or on any morning :)

Before I met Nate, I had never celebrated Christmas. I guess every family does it differently, but at his house (or technically his mom’s house) the whole family wakes up Christmas morning, opens presents, and then has a big, yummy breakfast. You need food after all that exhausting unwrapping.

Spiced Cranberry Ricotta Scones

The first year I got to spend Christmas morning with them, I wanted to contribute something, so I made these delicious overnight cinnamon rolls. They’re definitely a good choice! They get prepped the night before and then you just take them out about an hour before you wanna bake them to let them warm to room temp. Nate’s mom also makes turkey sausage and bacon and has plain croissants and chocolate croissants and blood orange juice! I told you it was a big, yummy breakfast ;)

 Spiced Cranberry Ricotta Scones

If you want to be really decadent, you could make this thick and rich hot chocolate too. It’s practically like eating (drinking?) dessert.

But another great breakfast food is scones. Ok, maybe not in England because I think they eat them for tea time there. But in America, scones are lovely for breakfast.

Spiced Cranberry Ricotta Scones

We had some leftover ricotta the other day and I knew Nate loves scones, so I tried to  come up with something festive. Not only did I succeed (I think cranberries and spices definitely scream holiday), but Nate said they were “AMAZING.” And I think I have to agree ;)

Spiced Cranberry Ricotta Scones

Spiced Cranberry Orange Chocolate Ricotta Scones

Print this recipe!

Makes 8 large scones

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup fresh cranberries (or thawed frozen ones)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I actually used mini nonpareils because I had them and they’re festive!)
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup whole milk + 2 Tbsp to brush tops of scones
zest of one orange (about 1 Tbsp)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.

Add the butter and use the a pastry cutter (and/or your fingertips/ potato masher or ricer) to cut/blend the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in cranberries and use the cutter again to break them into pieces and quarter berry sized chunks. Add chocolate chips.

In a small bowl, blend ricotta, milk, egg and orange zest. Stir them into the flour mixture to form a dough with stiff spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be very wet.

Dump dough on to a very well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 1-inch thick circle. With a large knife, divide the dough 8 pieces, cut like a pizza (or whatever shape you like your scones). Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula and keep them at least 1-2 inches apart because they will spread. Brush scones lightly with milk.

Bake the scones for about 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Best served warm but still delicious the next day. They even stay pretty moist when straight out of the fridge!



Cheesy  Herb Breadsticks

Sorry I’m late in sharing recipes for Thanksgiving. Since you’ve probably already got your main meal covered (if you’re anything like my family, the menu is NOT ALLOWED to change from year to year. We like our traditions!), I thought I’d bring you some ideas for appetizers and drinks.

Cheddar Herb Twists

Several weeks ago, we made plans to celebrate after the NY Marathon. Nate’s mom was going to be in the city and so we invited a few friends to join us later in the day after the marathon for some drinks and appetizers before we all headed to dinner.

Polenta with Tomato Tapenade

Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy came and went and destroyed many things in it’s wake, including any prospect of Nate getting to run a marathon this year.

But, on a positivie note, my mother-in-law (I think that’s the first time I’ve gotten to say that!) and our friends still came over. We just decided to celebrate good friends instead of marathon-finishing.

Polenta with Tomato Tapenade

I wasn’t feeling well and I just wanted a couple easy appetizers to make. I did some searching and came across what I thought were two simple recipes.

The polenta triangles were totally delicious and TOTALLY simple. The polenta is pre-made and you can buy it in a tube at the market. I suppose you could make your own if you wanted to, but that would make it way harder. The accompanying tapenade can get quickly whipped up in a mini food precessor.

Polenta with Tomato Tapenade

*as a side note, the plate I served the polenta on was the plate I made at my bachelorette party! We went to one of those pottery painting places, then to a nice dinner and then came back to my apt for a chick flick! A perfect day :) I painted a leaf and wrote the date of the wedding on the plate. 

Cheddar Herb Twist

The breadsticks were more labor intensive, but according to my guests were totally worth it. Easy for them to say, right? It was quite a pain to twist every stick, but in the end I think I could have halved the recipe because it made A LOT.

Cheddar Herb Twists

I’m just linking to the recipes below since I didn’t change them at all:

Polenta wedges with tomato tapenade

Cheddar Herb Twists

I also made the Cider Sangria from HowSweetEats, but I made a couple changes. I subbed ginger ale for the club soda and regular brandy for ginger brandy. It was delicious!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (if you celebrate it)!!!! We’re headed to my parents house in Florida. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!