Who’s up for Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread! This bread has everything: subtle spicy sweetness rolled inside a delicious pumpkin enhanced bread with a really good crumb. It is delicious on it’s own or toasted and spread with cinnamon butter.
I always make pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and then wonder why I don’t cook with pumpkin more often. Pumpkin is fantastic in so many baked goods. It has a beautiful colour and texture. And it is the perfect vehicle for all those delicious baking spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
This Dairy-Free Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread is made with coconut milk, so it’s a dairy-free dessert. Whether you eat dairy products or not, you will not miss them in this sumptious loaf.
This bread has two rises in it, so it’ll take a few hours before it comes out of the oven. But a lot of that time is inactive, just waiting for those busy yeast cells to multiply and plump our dough up. So, while the bread is doing both of it’s rises, you could do some other fun stuff like read a chapter in a book, do some gardening, or go for a nice long walk. However you spend your day, you will definitely have a feeling of satisfaction when this lovely Dairy-Free Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bread comes out of the oven.
Not only do I love the taste of pumpkin, I just love the look of them: big, orange globes that come in so many shapes and sizes. Pumpkins are super fun to grow. As they grow on a meandering low-trailing vine, you don’t necessarily need a separate, huge garden to grow them. They can wind their way through your flower garden, too. We grew some a few years ago, in a small veggie garden we created in our backyard. It was super fun. Our kids really enjoyed watching the pumpkins grow throughout the summer. Our pumpkins didn’t get super big, but by the end of October we had six pumpkins that we drew faces on for Hallowe’en. How fun is that!!!!
This loaf is perfect as it is, but if you wanted extra sweetness, you could add a drizzle of icing over the top of the loaf.
The first time that I had focaccia bread was at a little sandwich shop in downtown Toronto. It was so delicious: chewy, warm, fragrant with olive oil drizzled on top and crunchy with salt and rosemary.
Years later Ifinally learned to bake it myself, after I had bought Antonio Carlucci’s Italian Feast cookbook.The back cover of his cookbook shows four variations of focaccia bread, each one as delectable ss the next.
I don’t know why I waited so long to bake sme, as Focaccia bread is very simple to make. It only has one rise so there is minimal kneading, and it is baked flat on a cookie tray – so no shaping! And in the summertime, we bake ours on a pizza stone on the barbeque, so you don’t even need to turn on the oven.
Focaccia bread is delicious eaten plain at dinnertime, or you can use it for sandwiches. You can also make killer breakfast sandwiches with a simple omelette nestled inbetween two soft warm slices of focaccia.
This bread is delicious at room temperature, but I love it when it’s soft and warm. To warm the focaccia, simply wrap some slices in tin foil and put in the oven on low for about ten minutes, or inside the barbeque for 3-5 minutes.
Focaccia is an excellent starter bread for beginners. This bread bakes up very fast and when baked on the barbecue has a lovely smokiness to it. Baking bread on the barbecue means you can bake anytime of the year. And the crust is simply amazing; crunchy, hot, smoky. Yum!
Focaccia makes great picnic food. It pairs well with sliced meats, cheese, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and other pickled vegetables. And makes fantastic picnic food.
Sometimes on a hot summer night, we’ll just pack up all our picnic foods and lay them out in the backyard. A picnic in your backyard: nothing could be simpler.
freshly ground black pepper (or chopped onions rosemary or other herbs)
Preheat oven to 475 deg F (with pizza stone) or preheat BBQ with pizza stone
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Once yeast has bubbled up, add to flour along with the rest of the water, oil and salt. Mix everything together and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy. You can do this in your kitchen mixer with the dough hook.
Put the dough in a bowl that has been slightly oiled with olive oil. Place a damp cloth over top and leave it for one hour until double in size.
Knead the dough again after an hour to knock out any bubbles. Flatten the dough until it is an oval shape and about 1" thick. To create indentations, press your knuckles into the dough several times, keeping the indentations about 1 inch apart. Spread about half the olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle on the toppings. Leave to rise again for about 30 minutes, then pop in the hot oven or BBQ for about 15 minutes until the base sounds hollow when tapped, or when the bottom and top are a nice golden colour.
Adapted from Antonio Carlucci’s cookbook, Italian Feasts.
I absolutely love pirozhki buns! Pirozhki buns are bread dough stuffed with a variety of savoury fillings. They are popular in Russia and the Ukraine. This Pirohzki recipe is filled with seasoned ground beef and cheddar cheese. You can also make vegetarian pirohzki filled with cabbage, mushrooms, onions or chopped hard boiled egg.
A few years ago, my parent’s neighbour mentioned how he loved to make homemade buns stuffed with meat and cheese. He would freeze them and then pack them up for lunch on a workday. I had never heard of that idea but loved it right away.
Last week, I baked up some meat filled buns for my husband’s lunch and he couldn’t have been happier. After he polished off my first batch, he said, “When are you making more?”.
The dough for these pirohzki is made with sour cream. I love the tart and creamy flavour it imparts. You could also use regular bread dough without sour cream. Or pastry dough or puff pastry if you want something flaky. Personally, I love that fresh bread taste, as opposed to pastry.
The seasoned ground beef and cubes of cheddar cheese wrapped inside the rich bread dough tastes amazing! Almost like a hamburger without the toppings – but better! My pirozhki were about six inches long, which is great for a packed lunch. You can also make them smaller if you wanted to serve them with soup.
As I researched pirohzki I discovered many similar buns from around the world. Greece makes a deep fried version called pirouskia. In Iran, pirashki is sweet and filled with custard. Estonia makes pirukad which has a meat and chopped hard boiled egg filling. In Finland, karelian pastries (open-faced egg tarts) are very popular and eaten for breakfast. And in Japan they fill their savoury buns with curry. They all sound amazing to me!
I hope you enjoy these as much as we have. If you experiment with a different filling – let me know. There are so many variations to try. Pirozhki are so versatile!
1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp water to spread on dough
Dough: Proof yeast in water for 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, sugar, sour cream, soft butter and eggs to mixing bowl. Using dough hook, mix until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
Rub olive oil in a separate medium sized bowl and place dough in bowl. Let dough sit for about 90 minutes, until puffed up. It does not need to be double in bulk.
For Filling: heat oil in pan, add onion and garlic cloves. Saute until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Add chilli powder, salt and pepper and mix in. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
Place beef mixture in a bowl and let cool until room temperature. Then stir in cheese. You can make this filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge until ready to use.
Divide the dough into 16 equal sized pieces. This is easiest if you have a scale. Each piece of dough should weight about 2 oz or 55-57 grams each. If you do not have a scale, just try to make sure each bun is close to the same size. (A tip to get similar sized dough balls: flatten dough slightly, and then divide dough in half, then divide each half in half so that you have four equal sized pieces of dough. Divide each piece in half again, and now you'll have 8 pieces. Divide each of the 8 pieces in half to get 16.)
Shape each piece of dough into a nice ball shape. Place on a parchment lined baking tray, cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Flatten each piece of dough into a 5 inch oval shape. Brush the surface with the egg wash. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of filling and place it in the centre. Pull the dough over the filling and seal the opposite edges.
Place on baking sheet and let it rest for one hour, until slightly puffy.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, about 10-15 minutes before the end of the rise. Brush the egg wash over the buns.
Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes, until they are a nice golden brown. Don't worry if some of the seams come undone. Remove from oven and place on wire rack for about 15 minutes before eating.
Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator when thoroughly cooled. You can eat these hot or at room temperature.
Pirozhki can also be frozen for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Irish Oat Soda bread is an amazing bread to make. You can make it so fast. It’s great for beginners or even experienced bakers who want some fresh baked bread on the table in under an hour. The first time I made soda bread I couldn’t believe how quick it was ready.
Irish Oat Soda bread can be made quickly because it is leavened with baking soda, not with yeast like most breads. When mixed with an acidic ingredient, in this case the buttermilk, the combination of the baking soda and acid produces carbon dioxide after it is exposed to heat.
When baking with baking soda, it is important to measure accurately. Too much baking soda and your batter will rise too much and then collapse. Also, using too much baking soda, or baking without an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt, brown sugar, molasses, chocolate and cocoa will make your baked goods taste soapy. This happens because the baking soda doesn’t have anything to react with and will break down to produce sodium carbonate which is very alkaline and makes your baking taste soapy. Too little baking soda will produce a flat and dense product. So, measure accurately and always double check that there is an acidic ingredient in the recipe to react with the baking soda.
Cutting an X or cross across the top of the bread allows the center of the loaf to cook properly as it’s such a thick loaf and rises and bakes ratherly quickly.
I love the dense earthy aroma of the wheat and oats and the smooth and tangy flavour of the buttermilk. Since soda bread is made from very basic ingredients: flour, baking soda, soured milk (or buttermilk) it’s easy to whip up on the spur of the moment. In this recipe I’ve added butter, but some recipes leave that out. You can also add raisins or caraway seed, but traditionally, it is just those three basic ingredients.
Originally, soda bread was made regularly in Irish farming households. Unlike families in England, who would buy their bread from local bakeries, many Irish families lived in isolated farmhouses, far from any shops, so everyone had to do their own baking. The introduction of baking soda around 1840 provided poor Irish families with a means to make delicious bread as often as they wanted and for a very low cost. Homes in Ireland did not have ovens, only open hearths. So the bread was cooked on griddles over aromatic turf fires. The bread would be tender and dense with a nice thick crust and was eaten every night for dinner.
Soda bread is made all over Ireland but each region makes it differently. In the north, it is flattened into a disk, cut into 4 equal sized wedges and then cooked on a griddle. These are also called Soda Farls. The word, farl, comes from the scottish word, fardell, meaning a fourth. In the south, it is shaped into a thick round disk and the top is scored deeply with a large X or a cross.
This recipe for Oatmeal Molasses Bread is from my friend, Angie, from New Brunswick. She made this delicious bread for a Christmas get-together years ago when we both lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She lived in a lovely flat on the second and third floor of an old house near downtown Halifax with her husband and four children.
On that particular day, food, of course, was the theme of the party. Small tables overflowing with homemade cookies, cheese and crackers, and veggies and dip were scattered throughout the flat, so that you didn’t have to walk more than a few feet to grab something to nibble. And in the dining room was a huge oak table absolutely covered with plates, bowls and platters of traditional Christmas fare.
There was one table that really won me over. It was a small wooden table, at the top of the stairs by a window, with a cutting board, a bread knife, a bowl of butter and this lovely Oatmeal Molasses Brown Bread laid out on top, all ready for slicing. It was so good. I don’t meet too many people that make homemade bread. Angie was a medical intern and mom to four young children, so I thought hosting a Christmas party was enough work. I was deeply impressed that she would also go the extra mile to make sure there was homemade bread at this event. I’m so glad she did!
This bread is very popular on the East Coast. As I’m from Toronto, it was very different to what I was used to: a sweeter, richer, earthier bread. I was super excited to sample some local cuisine – and even better that it was homemade. The sweet molasses flavour pairs well with cold creamy butter. I phoned Angie up a few days later and she gave me the recipe over the phone. This recipe was her grandmother’s and was the only bread she ever made. I can see why.
This bread smells amazing when it is baking: the aroma of whole wheat flour, oats, molasses and butter is so delicious you will want to eat it right out of the pan. But, let this bread cool awhile before slicing, as it’s so dense.
This bread is a dense and moist brown bread sweetened with molasses. The whole oats add some texture to each slice. The combination of molasses and oats is so perfect!
What I also love about this bread is that it’s so easy to whip up on a wintry afternoon. The taste is sublime spread with butter and served with cubes of cheese. It is also an amazing accompaniment to soup.
approximately 3.5 cups of white flour and 2.5 cups of whole wheat flour.
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water with 1/2 tsp of sugar.
Pour boiling water over the oatmeal and add the molasses and the butter.
Mix together the flours.
When oatmeal and boiled water has cooled to a tepid temperature, add yeast mixture and stir together.
Stir in flour until a smooth, thick dough is formed. Knead the dough on a table sprinkled with flour until smooth and elastic. Only put a tiny amount of flour on the table, otherwise the bread will be too dry.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Punch down and knead for a few seconds to form an oblong shape. Cut the dough in half lengthwise. Place each half into a greased bread pan with the smooth side up. Cover the pans with a clean tea towel.
Let the dough proof in pans for about 1 hour until the dough as risen to the top of the pan.
Bake in oven for 1 hour, until golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Let the bread cool before slicing.
Thanks Angie! We’ll always remember the fun times we had with you and your family!
Greek food is one of my favourite cuisines. I was lucky enough to visit Greece many years ago. Of course, it’s the food that I remember particularly well: sitting in outdoor cafes sipping espresso coffee in the tiniest cups, nibbling on appetizers of anise scented greek bread, dipped in the best olive oil I had ever tasted alongside small bowls of the blackest olives and the most creamy tangy feta cheese with a big glass of red wine. Pure heaven.
When I’m feeling nostalgic for the time we spent in Greece, I like to prepare a Greek dish at home, like a simple greek salad or this Alevropita feta tart.
To make this dish really shine, try to buy the best feta that you can. I don’t know about you, but in my grocery store there is a wide variety of different feta cheeses to choose from. And I’m never sure which one to buy. As I was writing this post, I thought I would do a bit of feta cheese research and let everyone know a bit about this amazing cheese..
There are many different types of feta available in grocery and specialty cheese shops. I’ll start with Greek feta, as that’s where it all began.
Greek feta was actually granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by the EU in 2005. So, the only place in the world to buy true genuine Greek feta cheese is Greece.
In 2005, the EU’s highest court set very strict specifications for making and selling feta cheese. Genuine Greek feta cheese can only be made in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessalia, Mainland Greece, the Peloponnese peninsula and the Island of Lesvos. Feta cheese is made with sheep and goat’s milk and where the animals graze affects the taste of their milk. This in turn affects the flavour profile of the cheese. If feta is made from sheep and goats that graze in a different geographical region, the flavour of the milk would be different and so would the cheese.
True feta can be made with either 100% sheep’s milk or as much as 30% goat’s milk, but not higher. Also, the average composition must be 52.9% moisture, 26.2% fat, 16.7 % proteins, 2.9% salt and 4.4% pH.
You can still buy feta cheese in the EU, outside of Greece, but any other country in the EU must label it feta-style chesese, or some such label. Outside of Greece there are no specifications for this cheese which can be produced using whatever percentage of sheep, goat or even cow’s milk that they prefer.
Greek feta is salty and tangy with a bit of a lemony flavour. It can be dry and crumbly or rich and creamy depending on how much goat’s milk is in it. The more goat’s milk, the more crumbly it is. It is made using the slower traditional method, not the ultrafiltration method which is used in Denmark. Not very much Greek Feta is exported, there just isn’t enough of it to go around.
Even though the origins of feta cheese began in Greece, you can still buy some wonderful tasting feta cheeses that are made around the globe. Here are a few.
Bulgarian Feta: This is made with sheep’s milk and a yogurt culture. It has a very tangy flavour.
Israeli Feta: This is a full-flavoured, creamy and not overly salty feta. It is usually made from sheep’s milk.
French Feta: This is often made with sheep’s milk. It is mild and creamy. Some feta in France is made with goat’s milk and is usually drier and more tangy.
Danish Feta: This is made from cow’s milk. It has a milder flavour and a creamier texture compared to other feta cheeses. It is made using the ultrafiltration method. This method is used to speed up cheese making. It produces a cheese that is smooth, creamy and closed (no openings between the curds).
Australian Feta: This is usually made from cow’s milk. The texture and flavour can vary. It usually tastes in between salty greek feta and a creamy feta.
American Feta: This is made from sheep, goat or even cow’s milk. It is usually tangy and crumbly.
If you can’t find greek feta cheese in your shop, but want to get one that is as close to genuine feta as possible, the following are some tips for finding a good feta.
Tips on Choosing Feta Cheese
Ingredients: Feta should be made with only sheep’s milk or with some goat’s milk, rennet and salt. Never cow’s milk.
Tasting: If you buy your feta from a cheese shop ask the sales clerk if you can taste some feta. Feta should taste tangy and salty and have a lovely rich aroma. It should not taste sour, bitter or have no taste at all. These are signs that it is old. Feta comes in 3 different textures; hard, medium-hard and soft. Choose the one you like best.
Colour: Feta should be white. If it is a bit yellowish, then it’s been out of the brine for too long and has dried out a bit and become sour.
Holes: Feta cheese should have a few small holes on the surface. This shows that the feta was made in the traditional way with slow even turning and draining.
If feta is too salty for you, rinse it with plain water and then soak a piece of feta in some milk for 1-3 hours, or overnight. Then drain and store in plain water.
Nutritionally, feta cheese is lower in fat and calories than cheddar or parmesan. However it is high in sodium. If you are on a sodium restricted diet, feta cheese probably isn’t a good choice for you. Feta has twice the amount of sodium than cheddar cheese. An ounce of feta has 300 mg of sodium vs 170 mg in cheddar. It also has 75 calories, 1 gram carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 6 grams of fat (4.2 grams of saturated fat).
Ok, now that you know a few things about feta cheese, you’ll be ready to make this delicious feta tart. Make sure you use really good tasting feta, as that’s the primary flavour in this tart. The other strong feature of this tart is the crispy crust. Make sure that you preheat your oven with the baking pan inside, so that the pan gets really hot. This is what makes the tart crisp.
Make sure you have your oven mitts nearby for taking the empty pan out of the oven and be very careful not to touch the pan with your bare hands. It’s hot!!!
This recipe for Alevropita Feta Tart is very quick to make as the base is made from a batter so there is no rising involved. Yay! The feta cheese will not melt and spread, but will brown nicely in the oven. The salty tangy feta cheese paired with the eggy crispy crust is such a delicious combination. This tart will soon become a family favourite.
And the crust gets nicely browned and crispy.
It is delicious with soup, or greek salad, or even with a pasta dish.
Here are some fun links for additional information about feta cheese and greek culture: