Friday, October 19, 2007

Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice

Pumpkin butter.

Sometimes, when a woman is expecting, and everyone is busy wondering whether the baby will be a boy or a girl or who the child will look like, out comes the announcement that she is having twins! It was like that for me when I adopted, not one, but two sourdough starters from fellow bloggers, Suganya and Sharmi. Each bundle of Amish Friendship Bread yeast mix arrived at my home within days of each other, each snuggled in buntings of identical clear plastic bags secured with pink plastic zippers. It was impossible to tell them apart, my twin girls, except for the Day One dates written on them, dates, which I later learned through experience, have no real bearing on the baking results. But I digress.
The black-and-white Parisian street-scene calendar that hangs in my kitchen mostly for show actually earned its keep as a cluttered scratch pad of regimented schedule: do nothing, mash the bags, mash the bags, mash the bags, mash the bags, feed the bags, mash the bags, burp the bags, mash the bags, burp the bags, feed the bags….until I wound up with four times the volume of each original starter I received ten days before. (Which in my case means eight times.)
Once the volume of a batch of starter quadruples, it is parsed out into four equal measures, each one bagged. Three are earmarked for other bloggers or readers, and one is for you. You can follow a simple loaf recipe included with the starter instructions or tinker with it, according to how much of a mad kitchen scientist you are. I chose to tinker with one of the two recipes I selected, despite the fact that I had never worked with sourdough starter before. Call me foolish or inclined to live dangerously, but there were too many other starter-enhanced recipes out there online to be confined to the prescribed recommendation. So I followed my autumnal bliss and sought recipes that would feed the pumpkin eater in me. At this point I can feed more than just a pumpkin eater; I can feed an army. I am now the proud and worried mother of sourdough sextuplets, and all my children need better homes than I can provide for them. And so a new cluster of starters are being sent out into the world to the nurturing kitchens of Meghan, Toni, Ruhama and Wendy. Please contact me (thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com) if you are interested in continuing the baking circle. I still have a few bouncing bags of yeasty beastie babies up for adoption, free to good homes.

Sourdough whole wheat waffle.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Waffles with Pumpkin Butter and Candied Walnuts

Sourdough Whole Wheat Waffles - From the sourdough pancake recipe, using 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup white flour. Most pancake recipes make excellent waffles; this was no exception.


1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 large egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons flavorless oil (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar


The night before: Mix 1 cup starter with the flour and milk in a large, non-reactive bowl. Place the bowl in a warm place, cover and let it stand until morning. The next day: add beaten egg, oil, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar to sour dough mixture; mix well. Bake in waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. Made eight 6 inch X 4 inch Belgian-style waffles. --

Waffle topped with pumpkin butter, whipped cream
and maple candied walnut.

Pumpkin Butter - My own recipe. There are many variations available online.


2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup apple juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and ground cloves)


Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Allow to gently simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately over waffles or refrigerate promptly in a sterile container. Use within a few days or freeze leftovers.

N.B. It is NOT recommended that you home can or jar pumpkin or other squash products with or without sugar.

Candied Walnuts - My own recipe


1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


In a small cast iron skillet, heat the maple syrup until just simmering. Add the brown sugar, mixing to melt. Allow mixture to bubble and thicken slightly. Add walnuts and toss them to cover with syrup. Turn off flame. Be cautious with cast iron and melted sugar; both are extremely hot and can cause serious burns. With a metal fork, carefully separate and remove coated walnuts to waxed paper and allow to fully cool.


Top each waffle with a generous spoonful of pumpkin butter, followed by a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Top with candied walnuts.

Cream cheese-filled pumpkin roll.
Classic Pumpkin Roll - Adapted for sourdough use from the Libby's recipe. The only changes I made were the addition of 1 cup sourdough starter and one less egg than the recipe called for. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the difficulty of this recipe a 4. The most important tips are to use a freshly-laundered, very thin and finely woven tea towel, and heavily powder it with confectioners sugar to facilitate rolling the cake; use more than the 1/4 cup recommended in the recipe. Powdering the towel prevents sticking. Do not use a bathroom hand towel or a waffle-weave dish-drying towel. They are too thick and clumsy. Serves 8-10. --

This is my entry for Kalyn’s Kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging # 105, which I am delighted to be hosting this week. Do be sure to return on Monday for the full round-up of fine fare from around the world.


Been There, Done That
Injera – Fermented Ethiopian Teff Flour Bread


Valli said...

Oh my gosh!! What perfect uses for the pumpkin or the canned pumpkin I have languishing in my refrigerator.

Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita said...

I will give your baby a good home :) Then I will eat it!!! haha
I love your recipe for the cake roll. Filled with cream cheese makes it just perfect for me.

Anh said...

Susan, just wonderful! What great autumn treats these are!

katiez said...

I'd love some of your starter - but, the gods only know what it would be doing after crossing the Atlantic, sitting in the post office during a strike and, finally, wending its way here.
On the other hand - Pumpkin Butter! Yes! I'm going to be butchering the big guy soon - and making your Pumpkin Butter! I froze apple and pear butter - I'll do the same with this!

sra said...

That's a nice interpretation - twins! had fun reading this piece!

Toni said...

OMG, Susan - You've outdone yourself! I'm salivating. I want to make pumpkin butter and pumpkin waffles and that loaf maybe even some pumpkin muffins....Where will it end? I'll become a poster child for the "before" pictures for Jenny Craig - but I don't care!

Sylvia said...

Susan all the recipes sounds so good !!The Sourdough Whole Wheat Waffles with Pumpkin Butter and Candied Walnuts made me crazy. Amazing texture and flavor combination.Special for autumn

Wendy said...

Canned pumpkin? Never heard of such a thing! A pity. Love the sound of that butter.
Could the sourdough starter be sent overseas? If so, I'd like one!

Lucy said...

Well, if our customs men and women weren't quite so vigilant, I'd be putting my hand up and begging, 'Me!, me! Miss, please pick me!'

Beautiful bouncing babies they may be, but it's what you do with them that counts. Those waffles! Those walnuts!

We never seem to use pumpkin for anything sweet here. Might need to change that...

Cynthia said...

Outstanding! I love the things you made with your starters! The pumpkin roll in particular, I would like a slice of.

Shaun said...

Susan, lovie - Culinarily speaking, nothing more than your pumpkin goodies makes me miss the US right now. I love your pumpkin butter and love especially that you use canned pumpkin (which, as we know, is typically butternut squash)...It is a time-saver, and I miss it. Of course, not having it in NZ, I could make my own, but I will have to wait until NZ fall. I could just roast pumpkin with raw sugar to see how that turns out. Might be worthin investigating, actually, since I might be mad enough to invite Kiwi friends to my own Thanksgiving come late-November.

What you've done with the starter is incredible. I would not have thought of making waffles with it! Thanks for all the useful tips for the roll because I was thinking of making a roll with passionfruit when summer is high.


Cyd said...

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas it is required by my husband's family that I must make a Pumpkin Roll like yours or I will not be allowed to join the festivities! I have never tried sourdough starter though. I bet it is great! I love your waffle and pumpkin butter recipes! You can bet that I will be trying them in the near future, like maybe this weekend!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm going crazy with so many delicious recipes with pumpkin, Susan!
The roll looks spectacular!

Kelly-Jane said...

I'm reading down, then wow a fab looking muffin, with pumpkin butter (which I've never heard of but sounds delish), and then that roll, that looks seriously good!

You have done so well with the pictures of the roll, I know from frustrated experience that it's hard! It looks so light and tender too =)

I like your swirly patterned plate(?) too very pretty!

Mishmash ! said...

:)) that was a very sweet write-up and funny too :) I liked your pumpkin roll a lot..have been thinking of Libby's recipe for long.....your end product looks so beautiful.


Mike said...

This looks like a delicious and impressive way of showing off what can be done with a pumpkin. Looks excellent!

Kalyn said...

I love your pumpkin roll, and the idea of pumpkin butter sounds wonderful too!

myfrenchkitchen said...

Me too, I love your pumpkin roll and it is beautifully photographed with the swirly original! I'm looking forward to trying the butter as well.

Susan said...

Hi, Valli. I like to think of my reserve of canned pumpkin as Armageddon rations. They always comes in handy, and there’s nary a quality difference between it and fresh, even though (technically) it is a squash of a different sort than pumpkin – much, much easier, too – this, coming from a scratch cook!
Thanks, Maryann. Your comment reminds me of “Hänsel und Gretel” – fatten up those babies to eat ‘em up! LOL!
Thank you, Ahn. Pumpkin orange, I think, is the quintessential color of autumn, but papaya isn’t second best any time of year.
Katie – Pear would be marvelous as a butter. Sorry I can’t send to you. Didn’t know you had a strike going on. I am sending some to Scotland; we’ll see how that weathers the journey.
Sra – Thanks, dear girl. They were a bundles of double joy. --
Toni – Thank you! Once you get your starter, you will see what it’s like, dizzy with options to enjoy your spongey mess. I promise it is easier than it looks.
Sylvia – Obligado! Yes, autumn is a special time of year, but I love all the particular seasons that New York’s climate offers us.
Wendy – The sourdough will be on its way Thursday, NY Time, the latest. I have fed a special batch to make sure I’ll have enough for everyone.
Dear Lucy – I’d love to send you a big mess of bubbling babies. I CAN, however, send you a recipe for making sourdough from scratch. I will also do the measure conversions; we Americans never did take to the metric system!
Hi, Cynthia! Thank you. I would love to share, but fear all is gone! ; { The recipe on the Libby’s pumpkin can is very serviceable, even w/out my sourdough tinkering. If you would like it, I would be glad to send it to you via email.
Dear Shaun – Please have a Thanksgiving feast. I don’t care where you are or if the holiday doesn’t apply to your down-under country. It’s all about bounty and riches of the earth and gratitude for the blessings of survival which most of the world takes for granted. A passion fruit roll, BTW, sounds like paradise.
Hi, Cyd! Welcome! I “fear” I have started a holiday tradition in my own family (although they do not know it yet!), but I am prepared to “roll” out the pumpkin in all conceivable forms (pies, cakes, cookies, breads, etc.) Thanks for visiting! Good to see you.
Patricia – Thank you! The pumpkin roll really was the star of the dinner table.
Thanks, Kelly-Jane. It is hard to get just the right photo, but it helps to take more photos than you think you need to come up with one that meets your standards. The pumpkin roll really was light and tender, too. I’m glad the photo translated well to those who saw it.
Shn – Thank you, dear girl! At first I wanted to make a savory and a sweet with my starters, but what the heck, life calls for more sweets! Libby’s, like most manufacturer labels, does have recipes that work; they do kitchen test them. I do not blindly trust anything or anyone, but my experience with most label recipes has proved successful.
Hi, Mike. Good to see you! Pumpkins, even though they are all the rage during the fall season, have the unfortunate distinction of being bumpkins. I just love them. Thanks for coming by. Your visit is appreciated!
Kalyn – I know neither recipe is in keeping with the low-carbed “South Beach Diet,” but there must be ways of working a vibrant orange squash into the requirements.
Hello, Ronell! So good to see you! I don’t have to tell you how impressed I was with your quince preserves. Sometimes when I visit the Cloisters in NYC, the quince trees are in bloom in the courtyards. Your post reminded me of many delightful visits. Thank you for visiting. I appreciate your kind words.

Rosa said...

You've just reminded me of the neglected baby at the back of my fridge! What a bad mother I am!! I love the look of those waffles...

Suganya said...

I've missed a lot, and how could I? Susan, Marvelous job. Just in time for autumn!

Sharmi said...

oh I missed this post! What a wonderful creation out of the dough! looks very tempting!

Sandeepa said...

Ha ha Susan, you did bring up the "twins" very well :)

TBC said...

The pumpkin roll looks fabulous, Susan. I have never heard of pumpkin butter before. Sounds so good! Love your presentation too:-)

Susan said...

Thanks, Rosa. It's easy to forget what's at the back of the fridge if it's overloaded with goodies, like mine.
Suganya, thank you. And thanks for sending me that first batch of starter. It's been so much fun and something I'd never tried before.
Hi, Sharmi. And thanks to you, I DID have twins. Thank you for thinking of me. : )
Thanks, Sandeepa. There's an old American movie from the 1930s called "Bringing Up Baby." It was a madcap comedy where an heiress keeps "Baby," a leopard, as a pet. Trust me - the sourdough was MUCH easier. : D
Thanks, TBC. Pumpkin butter is VERY easy to make. It is essentially pumpkin pie filling without eggs or milk that you make in a saucepan on top of the stove.

Simona said...

Everything nice is an apt title: everything you make is incredibly nice and elegant, and your writing is the same. What a pleasure to read and look at your work!

Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita said...

Susan, I don't know if you recieved my email, but the yeast arrived here last week. I plan on sending some on to my mom and aunt. Thanks again. It was very generous of you :)

Susan said...

Simona, thank you for your dear comment, and that you have made the time for it. I know how busy you are these days.
Maryann - I hope you and the "girls" in your family enjoy the sourdough. It was easier and more fun than I'd initially thought. I was glad to pass it on to you.

rlwalker said...

I read several pumpkin butter web sites who were canning the end product ... and others warning about canning pumpkin butter. I take the easy way out ... make it and eat it as needed. Just yummy.