Fall means pumpkin time


Cat Campbell/For The Madera Tribune

Pumpkin muffins fresh from the oven, slathered with melted butter, is a great way to start the Fall season.

 

This is my favorite season of the year, for many reasons, but most especially meals. I enjoy cooler weather, fall colors in the trees and all that, but I really enjoy the chance to make some of my favorite fall recipes and perhaps try so1me new ones.


Every year at this time I like to share that feature pumpkin. It is nice that if anyone wants to cook with fresh pumpkin instead of canned puree, the stores and markets usually have the right variety for cooking. The jack-o-lantern types are pretty stringy and not very suitable for baking or roasting, etc. I do have one daughter-in-law, however, that insists she prefers to make pies and breads with the jack-o-lantern type. Somehow or other, she manages to turn out a pretty good product. I do not possess that talent, so I am quite happy to use canned puree.


Here are some recipes that use pumpkin puree and I hope you find something you’d like to try. Remember there is a difference between canned pumpkin pie filling and the pumpkin puree.


Pumpkin caramel bread pudding


Adapted from a Food Network recipe.


1 1/4 cups sugar


3 cups heavy cream


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed


3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


2 cups whole milk


4 large eggs plus 6 egg yolks


1 cup pumpkin puree


3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar


2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice


1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


8 cups stale cubed challah (about one 1-pound loaf, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes) See note.


1/2 cup raw pecan pieces


Whipped sweetened cream, for serving


Note: Cube the challah and let it sit out overnight to get stale. Alternatively, bake the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet at 300 degrees until crisp and lightly toasted, about 20 minutes.


1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.


2. In a medium saucepan, stir together the 1 1/4 cups sugar and 3 tablespoons water until it resembles wet sand. Brush down any sugar crystals on the sides of saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Cook, undisturbed, over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and turns a dark amber, 8 to 11 minutes. Do not stir during this time but once it starts to turn caramel, you can swirl the pan to distribute the color.


3. While the caramel cooks, bring the heavy cream to a low simmer in a small saucepan. Once the caramel is dark amber, carefully whisk in the warm cream. The cream will bubble up. Add the butter and salt, whisk until smooth, then remove from heat and set aside.


4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, yolks, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Carefully whisk in 1/3 of the warm caramel sauce until fully incorporated, then whisk in the remaining caramel sauce. Set aside.


5. Toss together the stale bread cubes and the pecans in the prepared baking dish, then arrange them in an even layer. Pour the caramel pumpkin custard over the top. Cover and let soak 30 minutes in the refrigerator, pushing down the bread occasionally to submerge it.


6. Bake until the custard has set and the top is a nice golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 12 servings.


Pumpkin bars


2 cups flour


2 teaspoons cinnamon


2 teaspoons baking powder


1 teaspoon baking soda


1/4 teaspoon salt


4 large eggs, room temperature


2/3 cup sugar


2/3 cup brown sugar


1 can (15-oz.) pumpkin puree


1 cup unsweetened applesauce


1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin and applesauce.


2. Gradually pour the dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined.


3. Pour the batter into an ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and allow the baked mixture to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Cut into bars and serve, or store, covered, for later.


Pumpkin pancakes


3 large eggs


2 tablespoons sugar


1 can (15-oz.) pumpkin puree


3/4 cup buttermilk


1/4 teaspoon salt


1 1/4 cups flour


1 tablespoon baking powder


1 teaspoon cinnamon


Butter for skillet or griddle


1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well blended. Whisk in pumpkin puree, buttermilk and salt.


2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then whisk the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture.


3. Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and add just enough butter to lightly coat the surface. Spoon batter into the pan (about 2 tablespoons per pancake) and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter as needed. Serve warm with maple syrup. Makes 16 to 18 pancakes. Note: If batter is too thick, add a little more buttermilk until it reaches the best consistency.


Pumpkin muffins


1 2/3 cups flour


1 teaspoon baking soda


1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon


1/2 teaspoon ginger


1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


1/2 teaspoon salt


2 large eggs


3/4 cup sugar


1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar


1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil


1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree


1/4 cup milk


1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan or line with muffin liners.


2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.


3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add pumpkin puree and milk and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently just until combined.


4. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 16 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These muffins stay moist for up to 5 days. Keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Bring them to room temperature before serving. The muffins can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Makes 12 to 16 muffins.