The 10 Days of Pumpkin

Day Three:

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Pecan Cinnamon Crowns

I have always loved mom and pop bakeries. As a child growing up in the Cincinnati area, little did I know that I was in mom and pop bakery heaven. Cincinnati still has bakeries with coffee cake schedules, so you know which day of the week you can get your favorite flavor. They still offer cinnamon rolls shaped like crowns.

So it's no wonder that when it came time to write my first novel, I set it in a bakery. And what's even better about fiction is that I could put whatever goodies I wanted in the bakery display cases.

The Cake Therapist just had to offer a really great cinnamon roll at her fictional bakery, Rainbow Cake.

Happily, I had written a cinnamon roll cookbook a few years earlier. (It's a little book, which makes it great for gift-giving. Maybe add a jar of Vietnamese cinnamon, and you've got a charming hostess or holiday gift.) Fifty different cinnamon rolls, all delicious. And there's one that is perfect for fall.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Pecan Cinnamon Crowns start with a whole wheat dough, then gets a pumpkin pie filling with cinnamon pecan streusel on the top. Instead of rolling the dough up into a cylinder, you roll it out and cut it into squares. You put each square of dough into a muffin cup, and then dollop in the filling and top with streusel. 

These crowns would be wonderful for a fall weekend breakfast or for Thanksgiving. I would make the dough the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator. In the morning, I would let it come to room temperature, then make and bake the crowns. 

I am doing a video class for Craftsy, based in Denver, that will be up and running in early December 2015. You could also give this class as a gift--maybe with I Love Cinnamon Rolls!  Because you watch the instructor from your computer, you can take this class anywhere!

Now, back to the crowns. . .

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Pecan Cinnamon Crowns 

Rise and shine for a cold weather brunch dish that makes you happy! You will have some leftover pumpkin filling with this, but you can pour it into a buttered baking dish and bake it along with the rolls until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Bake these in batches, and nibble as you go.

Makes 36

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll Dough
The addition of whole wheat flour gives these rolls a slight more textured, nutty flavor. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes after mixing, as the whole wheat flour takes longer to absorb liquids. Vital wheat gluten or whole grain dough improver can be found in the baking section of better grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill) or online at places like
Makes 6 jumbo, 12 large, 16 to 20 medium, or 46 mini-cinnamon rolls
3/4 cup (175 mL) whole milk
¼ cup (60 mL) honey or agave nectar
¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups (195 g) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vital wheat gluten or whole grain dough improver
2 1/2 teaspoons (12 mL)  instant or bread machine yeast
1. In a 4-cup (1L) measuring cup, combine the water, honey, vegetable oil, and salt. Microwave on High for 1 minute or until warm. Whisk in the eggs.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment , place the flour and yeast. Add the liquid ingredients. Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until the dough forms a soft ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low, start kneading the dough with the dough hook.  Sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour, every minute or so, to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. When the dough is smooth, not sticky, and springs back when you press it with your finger, you’ve kneaded enough (about 3 to 5 minutes). Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes.
4. Place the dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place at room temperature (about 70 to 75 °F /21 to 24°C) for 45 to 60 minutes or until it has almost doubled.
At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight, let the dough come to room temperature, and make the crowns.  
Or, proceed with the crowns right away.

Spray the muffin cups with cooking spray or cut small squares of parchment paper and line the cups.

Pumpkin Filling:
1 (15-ounce) pumpkin puree (not pie filling)                
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk  
1 large egg   
Cinnamon Pecan Streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

1. For the filling, whisk the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk and egg together until smooth. Set aside.
2. For the streusel, combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt, and pecans in a medium bowl. Work in the butter with a fork or your fingers until the mixture forms crumbs. Set aside.
3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Cut the dough into fourths.  Roll each fourth to a 9-inch  square. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Arrange each square in a prepared muffin tin. Place 1 tablespoon pumpkin filling and 2 teaspoons streusel in each dough-lined muffin cup. Cover with tea towels and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 to 60 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the crust has lightly browned and the filling is firm.

The 10 Days of Pumpkin

Day Two:

Pumpkin on the Grill

We're still exploring all the ways that, according to The Cake Therapist, pumpkin makes us think about coming home.

And what says home better than your own backyard? (Just ask Dorothy of Kansas in The Wizard of Oz.)

And your grill?

There's a way to grill pumpkin that takes it in a decidedly savory direction.

You cut it into wedges, baste it with garlic oil, and grill-roast the slices in disposable

aluminum pans with your grill lid closed. Turn once halfway through and you've got a

fabulous vegetable dish with the flavor of the grill--and the Mediterranean.

What the village baker would do in the south of France, we can do in our own backyards.

Grill-Roasted Pumpkin with Dry-Cured Olives and Garlic
Adapted from BBQ Bistro by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig (Running Press, 2015)

In French markets in autumn, you will see huge potirons such as the Rouge Vif d’Etampes, known as the Cinderella pumpkin because it looks like her carriage, brought to life by her fairy godmother. There, they sell slices from a whole pumpkin that you can bring to life by roasting them at home. Here, you can simply buy a small sugar or pie pumpkin, cut it into slices, and then grill-roast this simple yet satisfying dish that will completely change how you think about pumpkin. It’s easier to cut the pumpkin into wedges first, and then use a sturdy vegetable peeler or a paring knife to peel the wedges.
Serves 6
1/4 cup (50 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 small pumpkin (about 11/2 pounds/750 g) or 1 medium-size butternut or Hubbard (or 2 acorn) squash, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) wedges (at the widest part), then peeled
20 black, dry-cured olives, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil and garlic together until the garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Arrange the pumpkin slices, olives, and thyme in disposable aluminum pans. Drizzle with the olive oil mixture, and then season with salt and pepper.

Place on the grill, close the lid, and grill for 20 minutes. Open the lid and turn the pumpkin slices over. Close the lid and grill for 15 to 20 minutes more or until the pumpkin is fork-tender. Transfer the pumpkin wedges to a platter and drizzle with the juices from the pan. Sprinkle the olives over the pumpkin and serve warm.

The 10 Days of Pumpkin

Day One:

Cinderella Pumpkin Tart with Toffee Glass Slippers

If pomegranate means missing home (dating back to the Greek myth of Persephone), then pumpkin means coming home. 

Just ask The Cake Therapist. . .

Sizzled on the grill, warmed with spice, sweetened with maple syrup or honey, or accented with citrus, pumpkin stars in dishes I like to make in the fall. I think a craving for pumpkin is a craving for the comforts of home, and it usually starts for me as the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler.

In October, pumpkins are plentiful at farmer's markets and grocery store parking lots. So now is the time to scoop up your favorite variety and keep it in a cool, dry place to use later on. If you try to find a fresh pumpkin right before Thanksgiving, you might not find one. 

To keep things fresh and interesting--in your baking and in your life--try a new pumpkin variety this year. I suggest looking for the Cinderella pumpkin also known by its French heirloom name Rouge Vif d'Etampes. As you can see, it looks just like the body of Cinderella's coach that her fairy godmother brought to life.

I admired mine for a few days as it sat on the kitchen table. And then I was ready to get to work.

I cut it into wedges and removed the seeds, the placed the wedges on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to roast in the oven.

After they were tender enough to be pierced with a paring knife,

I scooped the tender pumpkin flesh into the food processor, discarding the rinds, and made a smooth puree.

With a tap of my magic wand, the puree went into freezer bags, 2 cups at a time, to be ready for pies, tarts, cakes and anything else pumpkin.

With fresh puree and the tart pastry made ahead, making Cinderella Pumpkin Tart with Toffee Glass Slippers is a breeze. So, you make-aheaders, get busy!

Cinderella Pumpkin Tart with Toffee Glass Slippers

Cinderella Pumpkin Tart with Toffee Glass Slippers
Adapted from Bake Happy by Judith Fertig (Running Press, 2015)
Everybody loves a Cinderella story. This tale of the persecuted heroine, transformed—can’t we relate?—has popped up in 345 variants around the world, according to folklorists who count those things.  The one we’re most familiar with is the 1697 Charles Perrault tale with a fairy godmother, mice and birds who help out, and a pumpkin that turns into a carriage. The pumpkin of choice is a French heirloom, Rouge Vif d’Etampes, also known as the Cinderella pumpkin. Not only does this vivid orange, squatty pumpkin make a good fairytale carriage, but it also makes an elegant tart with a couture color. To me, this tart compares to traditional pumpkin pie as a glass slipper compares to a garden clog. Look for this pumpkin before Halloween, then keep it in a cool, dry place until you need it, or make the pumpkin puree right away.  You will have more pumpkin puree than you need for one tart, but you can always freeze it for up to 3 months, and use it in Marbled Pumpkin Brownies (stay tuned for an upcoming Pumpkin Day) or other dishes calling for pumpkin puree. If you can’t find Cinderella pumpkin, simply wave your kitchen wand and turn a small sugar or pie pumpkin or a butternut squash into what you need. A scattering of clear toffee shards on the finished tart adds that final “dressmaker detail.”
Makes 1 (8-inch) tart
Cinderella Pumpkin Tart Filling:
1 Cinderella pumpkin
1/2 cup (125 ml) clover or other amber honey
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Cinderella Pastry:
11/2 cups (225 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (80 g) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon (125g) unsalted butter, chilled
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 recipe prepared Toffee Glass Slippers (below) or clear brittle candy
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
For the filling, cut the pumpkin into 8 pieces and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Place each piece on the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, scrape the pumpkin pulp into a food processor; discard the rinds. Puree the pumpkin pulp until smooth. Set aside 2 cups (250 g) for this recipe; cover and refrigerate the rest for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Wash and dry the food processor bowl.
For the Cinderella Pastry, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and butter in the food processor and pulse to blend until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, and water until the dough comes together in a ball.  Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disc. Wrap and freeze one disc for later use.  Place the remaining dough disc in the center of a sheet of parchment paper. Place the second sheet of parchment paper over the dough and roll the dough into a 10-inch circle. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Transfer the pastry circle to an 8-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom, remove the parchment paper,  and line the pan with the pastry, pressing it up the sides . Trim the edges by rolling a rolling pin over the rim of the tart pan, letting the excess pastry fall off, and prick the bottom of the pastry with the tines of a fork.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line the tart pan with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights.
Bake the tart shell “blind” for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Place the tart shells on a large baking sheet and keep the oven on.
For the Cinderella Pumpkin Tart Filling, place the pureed pumpkin in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the honey into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until the honey has reduced and is a darker color. Add the honey to the pumpkin in the mixing bowl, along with the eggs, cream, spices, and lemon juice until well blended. Pour into the tart shell.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until just set. Let the tart cool on the baking sheet. To serve, remove the sides of the tart pan and place on a serving plate. Top with whipped cream and shards of Toffee Glass Slippers or clear brittle candy.

Toffee Glass Slippers
Shiny, hard caramel can be broken into shards to dress up all kinds of desserts. If you like, customize this brittle with fresh chopped rosemary, dried lavender buds, dried rose petals, finely chopped nuts, toasted green pumpkin seeds, or cocoa nibs sprinkled over the warm candy.
Makes about 2 cups (500 ml) candy brittle pieces
Canola oil for the pan
3/4 cup (170 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly brush with oil. Clamp a candy thermometer to the side of a medium saucepan.
Stir the sugar and water together in the saucepan set over medium-high heat. Let the mixture cook, without stirring, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until it turns a dark amber,  at around 300°F on the candy thermometer. Carefully pour the candy on the prepared pan, spreading evenly, then sprinkle with salt.  Let cool completely, then break into shards and use right away or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Get in the kitchen  and BAKE HAPPY!