Pumpkin Bread


Recipe adapted from Pumpkin Bread by Betty Crocker

published by Golden Press, New York, N.Y.

There’s nothing like pumpkin bread for brunch or snack time to remind you of how wonderful autumn is.  This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker cook book that I bought when Mark and I first got married, 30 years ago.  Usually I make a double batch and bake half into muffins and the other half into loaves for the freezer.  Be forewarned if you intend on making a double batch; this is a lot of batter.  The bowl of my Viking stand mixer holds 7 quarts and a double batch of this recipe fills the mixer bowl 3/4 of the way full.

Five years ago Mark’s Mom and Dad came to visit and the guys built our deck.  I knew Pepere meant business when he brought his very own jack hammer.  Talk about messy, our house was a construction zone for about 5 days.  However, the deck is a solid thing of beauty, and I’m so grateful to Pep for putting all his effort into its design and construction.  He added a lot of custom features into the design and I appreciate that very much.  He was in his glory leading a crew of men on a project, even though the crew only consisted of Mark and Bobby.  Plus, it was a great guy-bonding thing for all of them.  Mem and I were told to stay out of the way, and so we went shopping.  Hard to believe that it’s been five years.  Enjoy!


2/3 cup shortening

2  2/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1-16 oz. can pumpkin

2/3 cup water

3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon (I always use more)

1 teaspoon ground cloves (I always use more of this, too)

2/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts, optional



1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, or if using muffin pans, grease bottom of each cup or use paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix the shortening and sugar.  Add the eggs, pumpkin and water.


3. Blend in the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir in the nuts, if using.

4. Pour batter into pans.  If making muffins, fill the cups a little more than half full ( I use a large scoop that holds 3 Tablespoons).


5. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes.  If baking the bread in a loaf pan, bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly and remove from pans.  Store in refrigerator.



Building our deck


The guys are hard at work!


The crew at the end of a long day


It’s all done but the staining… great job guys!

Linzer Hearts


Recipe is courtesy of Fox Run Craftsmen, Ivyland, Pa. 18974

These very pretty Linzer cookies are inspired by the Linzertorte, a famous Austrian dessert.  Linzer cookies are basically a sandwich cookie, with a decorative cut-out on the top cookie.  The bottom cookie is spread with jam, the top cookie is sprinkled with powdered sugar, and then carefully placed on top of the jam. You can find special cookie cutters to make these cookies at most kitchen stores.  They usually come with several inserts to choose from (star, heart, diamond, etc.) for cutting out the top cookie.  This recipe came with my Linzer cookie cutter set.  If you do not have these cutters at home, don’t fret, just use a medium-sized cutter (about 2 inches wide) for the top and bottom cookie (circle, square, heart, etc.), then any small cookie cutter for the decorative cut-out.

I used seedless raspberry jam, but you can substitute cherry, apricot, strawberry, black currant, whatever you prefer.  If you love chocolate (and who doesn’t), substitute a chocolate glaze or frosting for the jam.  If you prefer to use chocolate, substitute orange zest for the lemon zest. Enjoy!



1 1/4 cup whole nuts, hazelnuts or almonds
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
powdered sugar, for dusting cookie tops
1 cup jam, for spreading on the bottom cookies (I used seedless raspberry)




1.Place nuts in a food processor and process until medium-fine in texture.



2. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high, until light and fluffy.



3. Add eggs and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.



4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest.



5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine.  Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece with wax paper or plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 30-40 minutes.



6.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or Silpat.  Dust a clean surface with flour, and roll out one piece of dough to approximately 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut out about 36 cookies and transfer to the cookie sheets, leaving about an inch in between the cookies.  These will be the bottom pieces.



7. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown.  Keep in mind that the time may need to be adjusted if you use a different size cutter than 2 inches, you may also wind up with a different amount of cookies.



8. Place cookies on a rack to cool.  Cut out the top cookies and using a small cutter, cut out a decorative piece.  Re-roll the small pieces and continue to cut until you have an equal number of tops and bottoms.  Bake the tops for about 8 minutes and allow them to cool on a rack.



9. Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on the bottom cookie.  Sift powdered sugar over the top cookie and then place it gently on top of the jam of the bottom cookie.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.



A Linzer cookie cutter with decorative inserts



other cookie cutter options



Hot Cross Buns


Recipes courtesy of A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz

and The Bread Book by Betsy Oppenneer

A traditional Lenten food, Hot Cross Buns are a spicy yeast bread with candied fruit and an icing cross on top. I bake them every year during Holy Week. The recipe that I’ve used for years comes from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz.

According to the author, Hot Cross Buns were originally eaten only on Good Friday. A monk, Father Rocliff, and the cook at St. Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire, England in 1361 made these special buns, marked with the sign of the cross, to give to the poor with a bowl of soup. The custom continued and they became very popular during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in England. Good Friday bread was considered blessed, and people believed it provided protection against disease and danger.

The recipe calls for candied orange peel. We weren’t always stationed where I could find good candied peel so I learned how to make my own. It is somewhat time-consuming, but the flavor is fantastic. I’m including the instructions from Betsy Oppenneer’s book for making the candied peel in case you would like to try making your own, or you can simply use orange zest.  Enjoy!

Hot Cross Bun Ingredients 

2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (about 100-110 degrees)

1 teaspoon white or light brown sugar

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon ( I like these buns spicy, so I always double the amounts of cinnamon to 2 teaspoons, and cloves, nutmeg and ginger to 1 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2/3 cup dried currants (or raisins)

1/2 cup finely diced or julienned candied orange peel (or zest


Icing Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon lemon juice

Hot Cross Bun Directions


1. Sprinkle the yeast into the lukewarm water.



2. Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar, let sit until foamy.



3. Scald the milk. Add the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until blended. Cool until lukewarm.



4. Beat the eggs until light, combine with the milk mixture, and add the yeast.



5. Sift 3 1/2 cups of the flour with the spices into a mixing bowl. Make a well and pour in the yeast mixture. Beat for 5 minutes.



6. Toss the raisins (currants), and orange peel, with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Mix into the dough.



7. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should be fairly firm, or else the cuts for the crosses will not hold up.



8. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover the dough with a towel and put it to rise in a draft-free scene until it is doubled in volume, about 2 hours.  Punch down the dough and shape it into 2 dozen buns. Place them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart on a well-greased cookie sheet, or in muffin pans. With a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top of each bun. Allow the buns to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350°F.



9. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before piping the icing cross on top.



Icing Directions

1. Mix together the sugar and lemon juice. Add water, a drop at a time, until the icing is of a loose enough consistency to pipe on the buns. It should be quite thick, though, or else it will run off the buns instead of making a cross.

2. Pour icing into a disposable sandwich bag, clip the corner with a pair of scissors, and push the icing out onto the buns, forming a cross on each bun.



Candied Fruit Peel Ingredients

4 large grapefruit (or 6 large navel oranges, or 10 tangerines, or 12 large lemons)

2 1/2 cups plus 1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups water


Candied Fruit Peel Directions

1. To remove any dirt or waxy preservative, wash the fruit with a dish cloth and mild detergent. Rinse well.

2. Remove the peel from the fruit. There are gadgets available that remove just the peel (and not the pith). If you don’t have one of these such gadgets; cut the fruit into fourths, separate the peel from the pulp and trim excess white pith. Peel should be about 1/4 inch thick. Chop the peel into 1/4 inch dice (If making this for a gift, or to snack on, do not cut the peel so small. Longer pieces look pretty in a jar). Rough-skinned citrus fruits have thicker peel and more white pith (very bitter-tasting) than smoother-skinned varieties. If there is too much white pith, trim the peel with a sharp knife so that the peel is only about 1/4 inch thick.

3. Put the peel into a heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, simmer for 5 minutes, and strain through a sieve.

4. Return the peel to the saucepan and repeat step 3. Strain the peel.

5. Combine 2 1/2 cups sugar with the corn syrup in the saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. After the sugar dissolves, there is no need to stir.

6. Add the peel to the sugar mixture and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

7. Strain the mixture through a sieve (you can save the sugar mixture to use in tea, lemonade, etc.).

8. Pour the remaining 1 cup sugar into a plastic bag. Add the peel and shake the bag until the peel is completely coated with sugar. Separate the pieces of peel if they stick together.

9. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Spread the peel out on the paper to cool and air dry for 6 hours, or until it is completely dry. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

*You can skip the last step of coating the peel in sugar, and instead allow the peel to dry a bit before carefully separating the sticky peel and then allowing it to dry before using.*