And the Pumpkin Continues. This Time in Cinnamon Roll Form.

Last night I was wandering through links upon links and somehow came across a four year old recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  It was posted during 2007’s VeganMoFo, was written clearly enough for me to understand, and contained pumpkin.  (Also, the name of the blog that it comes from is Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk.  I really like that title, because sometimes I’m temped to eat off the sidewalk, so a reminder is always good.)

I have never made cinnamon rolls, and when I looked around the internet, everyone talked about how long it took.  Today is my first day off work for Winter Vacation, so I decided to wake up early and give these pumpkin cinnamon rolls a try.

Cinnamon Rolls - Ingredients

Cinnamon Rolls - Ingredients

(It took me until several hours into the process to figure out that my bag of sugar had a tiny little hole, and that is why there were puddles of sugar all over my kitchen.  Messy.)

One of the few things I changed from the original recipe is that, instead of 2.5 cups of all purpose flour, I used 1.5 cups of all purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour.

Pumpkin Mush

Pumpkin Mush

I mixed the pumpkin, sugar, melted Earth Balance, and soy milk together.  It looked kind of gross, but made it easier to pour into the yeasty water when it was time.

After I mixed all the ingredients and kneaded the dough, it was time to rise.  I had a problem, though.  Although I live in the desert, and it is blisteringly hot during the summer, in the winter the nights are quite cool.  My house retains the night’s cool temperatures really well.  So, even during the day it is a bit chilly inside.  It’s too cold in the kitchen for dough to rise.  So, I attempted a new plan:

Alternative Rising System

Alternative Rising System

I set the bowl of dough on the counter directly in front of the space heater.  I didn’t want it to get too close so that it would get too hot, but I needed it close enough that it would benefit from the heat.  I think it pretty much worked.

* * *          * * *          * * *

Unfortunately, the space heater came alive with an ominous glow.  It demanded that I give it the cinnamon rolls, or pay the price.  I refused, and we ended up at a stand-off.

Ominous Space Heater

Ominous Space Heater

I won the standoff by unplugging the space heater.

* * *          * * *          * * *

(I apologize for that strange interlude.  The photo of the space heater and the bowl of rising dough looked a bit evil at that direction.  So, I played with photoshop to make it look even more ominous. Oooooo.)

Okay.  So, anyway, I rolled out the dough.  The recipe said to roll it out to be 10×12 inches.  I used a cookie sheet, and just rolled it out to fill up the tray.  I don’t know what the size was.  Bigger than 10×12 inches, though.

Dough Rolled Out

Dough Rolled Out

(I have to say, I love the meta nature of this picture.  You can see the website with the recipe on my computer in the background of the photo.)

Then, I poured on the filling, and rolled it up.  (Or, I should say, tried to roll it up.  I had some issues at first, but eventually figured it out.)

Rolled End of Cinnamon Roll Dough

Rolled End of Cinnamon Roll Dough

On top of the recipe’s filling, I poured some chopped pecans.  I’m not sure how much…maybe 1/4 cup or so?

Front View of Rolled Cinnamon Rolls

Side View of Rolled Cinnamon Dough

You can see the escaped filling.  Oh well.

I cut it up, and crammed all 13 rolls it into an 8×8 the baking dish.  (The recipe called for a 9×9 vessel.)  After waiting for the cut rolls to rise some more, I stuck it in the oven.  Around half way through the baking, I sprinkled some more pecans on top of the cinnamon rolls.  It was about two tablespoons worth, or so.

When they were glowing orange, and the sugar inside the rolls was melted and bubbly, I removed the baking dish from the oven.

Fresh Out of the Oven

Fresh Out of the Oven

Then, I prepared the icing for the top, and poured it on.

Beautiful Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Beautiful Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Look at them!  They look like cinnamon rolls!  (Imagine, that.)

Gorgeous Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Gorgeous Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

You can sort of see in this picture how bright and orange they are.  The pumpkin flavor is not very prominent, but it gives the cinnamon rolls a vivid and enticing pumpkin-orange color.  I love it!

These Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls were a success.  Both because they ended up delicious, and because I finally learned how to spell cinnamon.  (For the first 3/4 of this post, I spelled cinnamon wrong every time.  And wrong in different ways, too!  I finally figured it out though.)

If I baked them again, I would increase the percentage of whole wheat pastry flour, and perhaps add a bit more pecans.  But, both of those are just superficial changes.  These are perfectly amazing as they are.  I’m hoping to freeze some of them (if I can stop eating them long enough to wrap and put in the freezer…)  That way, I’ll have amazing cinnamon rolls any time I want, without having to go through a three-hour long process.

What pumpkin concoction will I make next?  You’ll have to check back to find out…


Pumpkin Applesauce Cranberry Walnut Wheat-Germ Muffins

Contrary to what the title of this post might lead you to believe, I did not make five different kinds of muffin.  (That would just be crazy!)

So, here’s the thing.  I am obsessed with pumpkin.  Never before have I eaten much (or any) pumpkin, and I certainly have never cooked or baked with it.  But, ever since I made those Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, I’ve had pumpkin on the brain.  I’m a few recipes behind on my blogging, but so far I believe I have made:

And now:

  • Pumpkin Applesauce Cranberry Walnut Wheat-Germ Muffins (adapted from Veganomicon)

Hmm…That’s a lot of pumpkin!

The original recipe in Veganomicon is for Banana-Wheat Germ Muffins.  But I didn’t want banana.  I wanted pumpkin.  (And yes, I know there are a zillion pumpkin muffin recipes out there that I could have followed, but I was attracted to the wheat germ, too.)  And, since the obsession has arisen, I have a well stocked cupboard full of (among other things) cans of pumpkin puree.  So I chose to modify the recipe as it was written, and turn it into Pumpkin Everything Muffins.  Here’s what I used:

Pumpkin Everything Muffin Ingredients

Pumpkin Everything Muffin ingredients. (As you can see, I love Sunflower Market.)

  • 1 cup plain soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar
  • *3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • *1/3 cup natural applesauce (mine was homemade)
  • *1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • *1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • *3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • *1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • *1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • *3/4 cup halved fresh cranberries

(*Ingredients with an asterisk are those that I changed or added to the original recipe.)

The main changes I made were to use pumpkin instead of banana, applesauce instead of oil, add pumpkin pie-like spices, and add nuts and cranberries.

For the directions, I pretty much followed the recipe book:

  1. I combined the soy milk and the vinegar, and let them curdle for a bit.
  2. Then, I turned the oven to 375 and put the walnuts in the oven to toast while it was heating up.
  3. While the milk was curdling and the walnuts were toasting, I mixed together all the dry ingredients.
  4. Then, I mixed together the wet ingredients, starting with the curdled milk.
  5. I took the walnuts out of the oven, and dumped them into the dry ingredients.
  6. I chopped the cranberries in halves and stirred them into the wet ingredients.
  7. I poured the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mixed as little as I could, so that the dry ingredients were mixed with the wet ones.
  8. Then, I oiled a muffin tin. I scooped a little less than 1/3 cup of batter into each of the muffin spots (except one – I ended up with 11 muffins instead of 12.)
Pumpkin Everything Muffins, ready to go in the oven.

Pumpkin Everything Muffin batter, ready to go in the oven.

When I took the muffins out 27 minutes later, they were beautiful and very healthylicious looking.  (Healthylicious is a new portmanteau I just made up.  It means healthy and delicious, and comes from the same place in my brain as the word amazingfood.)

Pumpkin Everything Muffins, baked and ready to devour.

Pumpkin Everything Muffins, baked and ready to devour.

I was curious about the nutrition information for these muffins, so I submitted it to SparkRecipes.  According to that website (I don’t know if it’s correct or not), each muffin has:

  • 140 calories
  • 3 grams fat
  • 4.5 grams fiber
  • 4.5 grams protein

I’d say that’s pretty good for such a tiny Frankenstein(‘s Monster) of a homemade muffin.  These are muffins I can feel good about eating for breakfast.  (Or lunch.  Or dinner.  Or a snack.)

I’m excited(/worried) to see what other pumpkin-themed food I make next… I should stock up on cans while they’re on sale for the autumn/winter holiday season.

And, on a non-edible note, my awesome roommate got me a wonderful contraption.  A cookbook holder!  I no longer have to precariously balance cans of beans, jars of applesauce, or half-full mugs of tea on my cookbook pages to keep the book open.  The recipes are now clear and at eye-level in a lovely cast-iron cookbook holder.

Cookbook holder!

Cookbook holder, displaying Veganomicon's recipe for Banana-Wheat Germ Muffins.

Thanks to my roommate!

It really does look like fall outside today.

In honor of Veteran’s Day (as a public school teacher, this means a day off of work) and the fact that it is actually cool and cloudy in the desert, I woke up wanting pancakes.

I rolled over in bed, and grabbed my copy of Vegan Brunch (from its special place on my bedside table).  I flipped through to the pancake section, and there I saw it.  A recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes.  It called for 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree, which was perfect since I had 3/4 cup left over from last weekend’s Chocolate Pumpkin Nut Muffin extravaganza.  I looked through the rest of the ingredients, and, wonder of wonders, had all of them!

Then, I read through the narrative (because Isa always gives great narrative along with her recipes) and saw that she suggested making a Ginger Cranberry sauce to accompany the pancakes. Again, due to some sort of recipe magic, I had all the ingredients required for the sauce!  (Every autumn, when cranberries are sold constantly everywhere, I buy up about four bags to keep in my freezer.  One year, I needed cranberries for an activity with my students in February and I couldn’t find them ANYWHERE!  Ever since then, I have vowed to be well prepared when it come to cranberries.)

I started with making the Ginger Cranberry Sauce.  It begins with a basic cranberry sauce recipe (cranberries, water, sugar.)


Cranberries are so bright and cheerful!

Then, you end up adding ginger and maple syrup.  I failed to take a picture of that.  But don’t worry, you’ll see the whole thing in a minute.

Next, I started with the pancakes.  Instead of all purpose white flour, I used whole wheat pastry flour (or, like, 95% WW pastry flour.  I ran out and needed to use a little bit of AP flour).  I also upped the pumpkin spices a bit (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves).  Aside from that, I followed the recipe as written.

So, my first pancake started out looking adorable.

Pancake Cooking 1

Cute little pancake.

I flipped it and thing were still going okay.

Pancake Cooking 2

Flipped pancake, still pretty cute.

But then when I tried to get it off the pan, something weird happened.

Pancake Cooking 3

Weird wrinkled pancake.

I figured it was just “first pancake” syndrome, and went on to make the next pancake.  Unfortunately, the next pancake looked like this:

Pancake Cooking 4

Charred pancake. Not quite deliciousness.

I lowered the temperature and tried again.

Pancake Cooking 5

I don't even know what happened here...

I was about to give up, but decided to try a different pan, a newfangled ceramic pan.  Maybe they just didn’t like the cast iron (although the recipe said to use cast iron).

Pancake Cooking 6

Things are starting to look up for my pumpkin pancakes!

Unfortunately, by the time I got to the last pancake, things were still quite unreliable.  And this happened:

Pancake Cooking 7

Basically, I'm a pancake failure.

I’m not quite sure what I was doing wrong with the pancakes.  The outsides kept burning while the insides were super mushy.  They tasted good, and since there wasn’t any egg, I wasn’t worried about salmonella with them being unevenly cooked.  I just am not sure what I was doing wrong.  (I kept increasing and lowering the temperature.  Nothing quite helped.)

In the end, I did have a pretty delicious fall pancakey cranberry-y breakfast.  Afterward, I was stuck in a pretty severe pumpkin pancake coma, and couldn’t seem to get up to get dressed and get on with my day.  That was an unfortunate side effect.

Final Pancake

Cute little pancake with delicious ginger cranberry sauce on top.

The sauce was really delicious, and aside from the second pancake (the super burned one), all the others seem to be edible.  In the cooking process, I ate two pancakes (they were just too destroyed to eat on a plate!) and afterward I ended up eating three with the sauce.  So, I think I’ve had my pumpkin pancake fill for the day.

Happy cloudy day.

More Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

I didn’t mean to.  It just sort of happened.  All on its own.  I looked up from doing some Very Important work on my computer (um, probably checking my personal email or reading web-comics) and there, sitting on the counter, I saw this:

Magically Appearing Chocolate Pumpkin Muffin Ingredients

Magically Appearing Chocolate Pumpkin Muffin Ingredients

I said to myself, “Self?  What is sitting there on your counter?”

Well, in the Pyrex measuring cup I discovered 3/4 cup of white AP flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, a tad more than 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a tad more than 1/4 tsp nutmeg, a tad more than 1/4 tsp ginger, a tad more than 1/8 tsp cloves, 3/4 tsp baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt.  In the next bowl I found 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans and walnuts.  In the front bowl, I found a bit more than 3/4 cup of turbinado sugar.

On the left side, I saw some canola oil (and felt compelled to measure out 2 tbs of it) and some vanilla (I had an inkling that I really needed 1 tsp of that stuff).  In the measuring cups I discovered 1 cup of pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a little more than 1/2 cup of apple sauce.  Also, out of the corner of my ear, I heard the tea kettle boiling 1/3 cup + 2 tbs of water.

While the chocolate chips and nuts would have tasted good alone, as would the apple sauce, the pumpkin puree would have tasted okay (if a bit bland), and the boiling water would have been fine with a tea bag, all of the other ingredients really needed to be combined in some way.

So, I took the apple sauce, the oil, and the cocoa powder and mixed them together in a large bowl.  Then I added 1/3 cup of the boiling water and mixed it in with the chocolate mixture until it made a thick chocolaty paste.  Next, I added the pumpkin, sugar, and vanilla and mixed everything together well.

After that, I sifted in 1/2 of the flour mixed and mixed for just a few seconds, added 1 tbs of boiling water, and mixed for a few more seconds.  Next, I sifted in the other half of the flour mixture, mixed for a few seconds, added another 1 tbs of boiling water, and mixed for a few more seconds until the flour had just incorporated into the batter.  Then I carefully folded in the nuts and chocolate chips.  I lightly greased a muffin tin, poured the batter in, and cooked it at 350 degrees for about 23 minutes.  I took them out and had perfection.

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffin

Look at the beautiful insides of that muffin!

The cocoa powder and pumpkin give it a lovely brownish orange hue.  The chocolate chips and nuts are distributed throughout.  The incorporation of whole wheat pastry flour gives it a little more fiber.  The deliciousness factor makes me eat three-at-a-time.

These muffins are pretty much perfect.

(See the original recipe at The PPK.  I added nuts, decreased the sugar (and used turbinado instead of white granulated), increased the apple sauce, increased the spices, and substituted half the flour for whole wheat pastry.  I also made these muffins (with fewer modifications) a few weeks ago.)

Fall = Pumpkin?

Here in the desert, we are just barely starting to get a hint of fall.  While the daytime still frequently hits temperatures in the 90s, the nights have been cooling down to the 60s.  The cooler nights allow us to shut the doors and windows all day, and keep the cool early-morning air in the house, thus avoiding the air conditioning.

I know that in normal climates, it has been fall for quite some time already.  And, with fall comes pumpkins.  I have started doing pumpkin-themed activities with my first grade students, and decided to expand the pumpkin theme to my cooking.  Last week Isa posted a recipe for a chocolate pumpkin loaf over at The Post Punk Kitchen.  The pictures looked wonderfully delicious, but I don’t have a loaf pan in which to cook the chocolately, pumpkiny loaf of deliciousness.  Luckily, she also added a note to the recipe giving cooking times for muffins.  So muffins I made.  In addition to the chocolate chips, I added some chopped up pecans to my batter (about 1/4 cup, I think).  I totally plan on making these muffins again, and this time I might decrease the sugar a bit, decrease the chocolate chips a little bit, and increase the nuts to 1/2 cup.

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

Chocolate pumpkin muffins, cooling in the muffin tin.

I ate two of the muffins the day I made them, put three more in a tupperware in the refrigerator, and shared one with my roommate.  The rest, I wrapped in plastic wrap and stuck in the freezer.  I have been bringing them to work and eating them as a snack in the afternoon when the students are gone.  These chocolate pumpkin muffins have regularly been the best part of my day, this week.  And it hasn’t even been a particularly bad week.  The muffins are just that good!

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffin

Close-up of a chocolate pumpkin muffin, in all its chocolately, pumpkiny glory.

I ended up having some pumpkin left over after I made the chocolate pumpkin muffins.  I was nearly out of granola, so I decided to make pumpkin granola with the leftover pumpkin mush.  I originally was planning on using my normal recipe, and just adding the pumpkin in place of the apple sauce (which I use as a substitute for oil).  But then I decided to look around on the internet for a recipe specifically for pumpkin granola.  I decided I should use a different recipe, since the pumpkin granola recipes call for different spices than regular granola.  I settled on this recipe from The Pastry Affair, partially because I had all the ingredients, partially because the website had such pretty pictures, and partially because it just sounded really good!

Pumpkin Granola Ingredients

I love the bulk bins and the spice aisle.

Really, the ingredients weren’t all that different from my regular granola.  As usual, I used apple sauce instead of oil, and I didn’t quite have the 3/4 cups of pumpkin specified in the ingredients list (it was more like 1/2 cup).  Also, I didn’t use fresh pumpkin seeds, I used the raw unsalted pumpkin seeds that I always have on hand for granolas (but I toasted them in the oven for about 10 minutes before adding them to the granola mixture.)

I ended up sort of badly burning one pan of granola (I had it on the bottom oven shelf, and it was too close to the heat source).  Then, after I took out the burnt pan and was continuing to cook the other pan, I burned that one, too.  (What can I say, I’ve got skills.)  When I took it out, it was smoking, for more than a few minutes.  However – I am stubborn.  I was determined that it would taste great even if it was a little scorched.  I picked out the worst burned parts, and tossed the others together.  Ultimately, it is a tad well-done, perhaps a little crunchier than even granola is supposed to be, but it still tastes good.  I don’t know that it actually tastes pumpkiny at all, but it does taste like granola, which was really my main goal.

Pumpkin Granola

Pumpkin granola in my perfectly-sized granola tupperware container.

I was reading a book about pumpkins with my students the other day, and it talked about how the Native Americans used to eat pumpkin seeds for breakfast.  They were all confused and awestruck.  I told them that I had eaten granola with pumpkin and pumpkins seeds in it for breakfast, and they were fascinated.

I’m not sure what my next pumpkin adventure will be.  I do not like cutting pumpkins or other squash.  It is hard work!  However, it is also delicious.  In fact, I am doing a pumpkin seed activity with my students and may end up cutting open two dozen pumpkins tomorrow… Maybe I’ll get really, REALLY good at it.