Pumpkin oats fruitcake

This recipe is sort of an offshoot of this pumpkin bread pudding recipe:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/pumpkin-bread-pudding-recipe

I was thinking of making it again but I wasn’t sure if I had enough bread; I’ve been experimenting with different grains making gluten free quick breads (made with baking powder, not yeast).  Then it occurred to me to just make the Libby’s pumpkin pie filling and instead of using bread cubes use quick oats.  Quick oats are also rolled oats; they haven’t been pre-cooked or anything, just oat grains cut up before they’re rolled so that they’re smaller and cook more quickly.

Special equipment: I’m doing the recipe by weight so you’ll need a kitchen scale. I’m also not specifying a loaf or bundt pan of any particular size so you’ll determine if the fruitcake is done by using a digital thermometer; 190 degrees F.  You can figure out how much batter you’ll need by using a measuring cup and filling a loaf pan with water.  Mine is a little less than 6 cups capacity.

The basic idea is to make the pumpkin pie filling following the recipe on the can of plain pumpkin (with some tweaks which we’ll get to in a sec), add some quick oats, let it rest overnight, add dried fruits and nuts that have been soaking in liqueur, rum, brandy, etc., and then bake.

For the pumpkin pie pie filling two changes are made.  One is to replace some of the evaporated milk with an egg.  If you use the single pie can of plain pumpkin you’ll take out 50 grams of evaporated milk.  Save it or freeze it, or in my case, just drink it.  Replace that evaporated milk with an additional egg; a large egg weights very close to 50 grams.  The other change is to crank up the spices using the amounts from the King Arthur Flour recipe; double the ginger, add some nutmeg, and add some vanilla.  So the updated spice quantities are

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Other than changing the eggs from 2 to 3 and decreasing the evaporated milk by 50 grams and the above spice quantities the recipe is the same as what’s on the can.  (Double these for the 2 pie can of pumpkin pie.)

After you make the pumpkin pie filling you weigh it, then divide its weight by 4, and add that amount of quick rolled oats.  For example, the first one I made I used the large 2 pie can and the weight of the filling was 1,980 grams so for that I’d use 495 grams of quick rolled oats.  If you use the 2 pie can I’d recommend dividing it in half unless your mixing bowl is very large; oats are light and 495 grams of oats is a lot.  That means 2 containers or bowls with 990 grams of pie filling in them and 248 grams of quick oats for each.  For a single pie can of plain pumpkin the numbers were slightly different.  A good spatula with a sharp edge is handy for scraping out the bowls and getting every last bit.

After mixing in the oats cover the bowl with plastic wrap or whatever and put it in the fridge for an overnight rest.  If you remember to, stir it every so often.

The next day drain an appropriate quantity of the soaked dried fruits and nuts. Grease and paper the loaf pan. After the final greasing sprinkle it with flour. Let the fruits and nuts drain while you’re working on the loaf pan.  Then mix the fruits and nuts with the pie filling and spoon it into the loaf pan.  Since there isn’t any baking powder in this recipe it won’t rise in the oven. This means that you can fill the loaf pan right up to the top edge.  The “appropriate quantity” of soaked dried fruits and nuts is up to you.  For example, use half as much dried fruits and nuts as batter. For my loaf pan of about 6 cups I could use 4 cups of batter and 2 cups of dried fruits and nuts.  I don’t pack the fruit into the measuring cup so the spaces between it give me some leeway.   (To be honest I’ve been lax and not measuring how much dried fruit and nuts I’m adding.)  If there isn’t enough batter then it won’t hold together so that’s the main concern; beyond that it’s a matter of preference.

I’ve been baking it at 325 degrees F because it takes longer than a regular cake to bake and at 350 the top is a bit too dark.  And at 325 it takes even longer.  At least an hour and 45 minutes, the last one took 2 hours.  So set your timer and when it goes off take it out and insert the digital thermometer and make sure it’s 190 degrees internally.  If not, back it goes for another 15 minutes.  For the last 15 minutes you can turn the oven up to 350 to get the top browner if you’d like.

The end result is very dense and heavy, not like your usual fruitcake. But in my opinion it’s much better than the usual fruitcake. And because it’s so dense I would not do the usual fruitcake thing of brushing it with rum or brandy because you’d probably end up with a sticky and gooey mess.

For soaking the dried fruits I’ve been using liqueur. For liqueur choices the sky’s the limit. I’ve been soaking each fruit in a different liqueur. Cassis is one of my favorites; it’s made from currants. My next batch will use walnuts that have been soaking in Frangelico, which is made with hazelnuts. Previously the walnuts weren’t soaked. If you chop the dried fruit to be at most pea sized it takes about 3 days to plump up. But longer is better.

Letting the batter rest overnight is important so that the oats fully soak up as much as they can. You may be able to use regular oats instead of quick oats, I’ve only been using quick oats.

You don’t have to stick with oats. I made some with a 50/50 combination of teff flour and buckwheat flour.  It came out very dark and tasted great. For the latest one I used corn tortilla flour (masa).  When used in sweet recipes the sugar neutralizes the strong corn tortilla flavor of the masa and it ends up tasting quite nice, and different, but in a good way.  When experimenting with alternatives to oats you’ll need to be careful about how much you use; some will need more or less. For example, with the masa I used 192 grams. The batter should drop from a spoon, but not be as runny as pancake batter, and I suspect that a thicker batter is better.  When experimenting with different flours you can check the batter’s consistency after it’s rested in the fridge for an hour or so and the flour has soaked up the majority of what it’s going to.  But it will be stiffer from being cold so take that into account.  This isn’t a precise chemistry experiment and we’re using a thermometer to test for doneness so as long as you don’t go overboard on it being too runny or stiff it should come out fine.

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Deep fried batters

I bought a Presto deep fat fryer. I can no longer remember my initial reason for wanting one; donuts probably since I’ve been reading lots of bread cookbooks.

After I ordered it and while I was waiting for it to arrive I started thinking about different things that I could deep fry. Potatoes (french fries) obviously, and batter dipped onion rings. In the batter dipped category there are also corn dogs and cheese dogs (a hot dog size piece of cheese that’s been batter dipped and deep fried). Cheese dogs are sinfully good; what’s not to like about hot gooey melted cheese enrobed in deep fried corn bread?

Something I had many years ago was batter dipped and deep fried mushrooms. I was looking at the mushrooms at the grocery store and they’re so big now that I’m thinking that you’d probably need to cut them in half or in fourths. Nearby is this great Asian grocery store, Ranch 99, and they have a nice variety of fresh mushrooms. And a great selection of dried mushrooms as well. I was thinking of using dried shiitake mushrooms but instead of rehydrating them with water, rehydrate them with chicken stock, or water that’s had dried garlic rehydrated in it, or water that’s had garlic or onion boiled in it.

Then there are ideas like adding some stuff to the batter mix, for example, ground dried chilies; I have some ground dried California chili, New Mexico chili, and pasilla ancho. Add some ground cumin as well to that. Into that dip some cheese stuffed jalapenos and deep fry them. Or, instead of just cheese, cook some chorizo and drain it, then mix it with the cheese. For the batter, perhaps the masa harina would work.

One of the first things I made was corn fritters. Instead of using corn meal I used corn flour; I’d bought a bag of corn flour from my local FoodMaxx; they have a Middle Eastern/Indian section with some interesting stuff, including millet flour, which I also bought. The corn flour absorbed a lot of water; the batter recipe I was using was 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. I ended up adding at least 1/4 cup more water. It also called for 1 can of corn but I used a half a can. They came out well but afterwards I realized that I should have made them without the canned corn, just plain deep fried corn flour batter, so that I could better evaluate how the corn flour works.

But before I tested a batch of plain corn flour batter I decided to try the millet flour. It was just the opposite of the corn flour with respect to fluid absorption. 1/2 cup of water was too much. (I’m using powdered milk instead of real milk since I don’t drink milk and it would end up going sour by the time I used it all.) I ended up adding 5 tablespoons of millet flour to bring the batter back to something that was more workable. For fritters you want something that falls off the mixer’s paddle when you raise it, but it shouldn’t fall too quickly and shouldn’t just immediately drip off. The deep fried millet flour batter I rather liked. It’s very dense, and it has an interesting earthy and nutty flavor. More earthy than nutty I’d say. I set the deep fryer at 375 and cooked them for 2 to 3 minutes.

I’d also bought several large cans of pumpkin puree; it’s holiday season so there are big stacks of it at the grocery store. I was thinking of trying it in breads, similar to how you’d use potatoes in a bread recipe. So the next batch was 1 cup millet flour, 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons dry milk powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder. They were very nice. Not as dense as the ones made with milk or water, which I realized really were quite dense after making the pumpkin puree ones. The pumpkin also nicely mutes the earthy millet flour flavor. And of course it gave them a nice orange color. I set the deep fryer at 375 and cooked them for 2 to 3 minutes.

Next was a batch with the corn flour and pumpkin puree; since it was so thirsty I used 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons dry milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder. Curiously, one cup of pumpkin puree was enough liquid; I was expecting to need to add more water but it was fine. Again, a nice orange color. I set the deep fryer at 375 and cooked one for 2 minutes. The first 2 minutes test one was still raw in the center so the rest I cooked for at least 3 minutes. The corn flour is ok but I really like the earthy flavor of the millet flour.

This has been fun. I have several other flours I’m going to try; sorghum, teff, barley, masa harina, and brown rice. There may be some others in the back of the freezer that I’ve forgotten. I still want to make some onion rings but I’m having too much fun playing with the different flours and pumpkin puree.


Rusks; barley flour, pressure cooked

Since I haven’t tried barley flour pressure cooked I decided to give that a try.

1 cup barley flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup (approximately) water

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. As soon as it starts sticking to the bowl I stopped adding water and turned the mixer’s speed up to high. I also felt the dough with my fingers to make sure it wasn’t too stiff or too wet.

Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the mini loaf pan, buttered, tightly covered with aluminum foil, and cook it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I want the loaf pan up away from the water and I put in several cups of water.

I chill the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge. I prepare it for the fridge by wrapping it in 3 layers of paper towel and then put it in a plastic bag which I wrap around it. The paper towels pick up any moisture that comes out of the loaf; without the paper towels the moisture collects on the plastic bag and gets back on the loaf and makes its outside sticky and gummy.

Next I slice the bread at the 2 setting. I couldn’t help myself and kept eating the odd bits that weren’t well sliced. Barley flour bread is very tasty; rich and buttery, which is why I used butter instead of oil in this recipe, to accentuate the barley flour’s flavor.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 10 hours.

After drying and several hours of resting and relaxing … quite nice. Wonderful taste; nice and rich and buttery. The texture is good as well. My only complaint is that it was hard to slice them well with the slicer; the top or bottom is thinner than the other side.


Rusks; teff flour, pressure cooked, sriracha swabbed

I’ve changed my mind about the rusks that I swabbed with sriracha sauce. A day later and they’re still nicely spicy hot but their flavor is otherwise dull and boring. The texture is still good; crunchy without being tough.

Maybe I could add some cumin or ajwain seeds to make them more tasty. I do like the burn though.


Rusks; teff flour, pressure cooked

I was going to make some rusks using brown rice flour but while looking for it in the freezer I came across the jar of teff flour so I used that instead since I haven’t tried teff flour yet.

While it was mixing, at first it had an interesting smell, but as the flour got wetter the smell went away.

1 cup teff flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup (approximately) water

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. Instead of adding enough water so that it starts sticking to the bowl I stopped as soon as it was a stiff dough sticking to the mixer’s paddle. I was thinking that it might be better to use a dryer dough since it’s going to be pressure cooked and steamed.

Next I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the little loaf pan, covered it with aluminum foil, and cooked it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I want the loaf pan up away from the water and I’ll put in several cups of water.

I chilled the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge.

Next I sliced the bread at the 2 setting.

I think I should have added a tablespoon or more of water when I was making the dough; the slices are just on the edge of being too dry. None of the slices fell apart while handling them but I could see some small cracks in the middle of them.

About a third of the slices I swabbed with sriracha sauce that I thinned with a little water.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 6 hours.

Later, after drying and cooling: Very nice. The taste is nice as is the texture. They hold up with dipping; I made some dip with plain Greek yogurt to which I added some finely chopped fermented serrano chilis and some basil.

The ones that I brushed on the sriracha sauce also came out well; they’re nicely hot and spicy.

I’m not sure if I should have added a wee bit more water when making the dough since they do have a nice texture; they’re not too tough and not too crumbly.


Rusks; brown rice flour, pressure cooked

Found the brown rice flour; not a whole lot of it but enough to make a batch.

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup (approximately) water

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. As soon as it starts sticking to the bowl I felt the dough and made sure it was sufficiently wet but not too wet; it was sticky and fairly stiff but not a batter.

Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the little loaf pan, covered it with aluminum foil, and cooked it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I wanted the loaf pan up away from the water and I wanted to put in several cups of water.

I chilled the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge.

Next I sliced the bread at the 2 setting.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 6 hours. They weren’t dry after 6 hours so I set the timer for 2 more hours. Still sort of chewy after 8 hours. I’m not sure if I should do 2 more hours or accept this texture.

I forgot to add more time to the timer so they’re done after 8 hours. They’re still slightly chewy; I’m not sure if this is from their natural texture or because they weren’t dried enough. I need to do another batch and set the timer for 12 hours.

The flavor is nice. Not outstanding or anything; not remarkable, but not bad. It should pair nicely with any of the other flours.

Since they’re a little tough I’m going to try a batch using half brown rice flour and half sorghum flour.


Rusks; masa harina, cumin, pressure cooked, v2

I’m doing another test of masa harina, pressure cooked, with cumin seed. I’ve reduced the cumin seed from 2 1/2 teaspoons to 2 teaspoons, and left out the ground dried chili.

1 cup masa harina
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup (approximately) water

I ground the cumin seeds in a mortar and added some of the powdered milk and potato flakes while grinding them; the powdered milk and potato flakes pick up the essential oils and turn brown, rather than the essential oils sticking to the mortar and pestle. I also added the salt; that seems like a good idea but I’m not sure why. After grinding and pounding it I dump it in the mixing bowl and put some more powdered milk and potato flakes in the mortar and grind it to pick up any essential oils that might be in the mortar.

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. Suddenly it will start sticking to the inside of the bowl instead of clumping together, becoming a very stiff batter. At this point I don’t add any more water since I’ll be cooking it in the pressure cooker in a steamy environment.

Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

The dough is resting.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the little loaf pan, covered it with aluminum foil, and cooked it at high pressure for 35 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I wanted the loaf pan up away from the water and I wanted to put in several cups of water.

The cooked loaf is chilling in the fridge.

Sliced the bread at the 2 setting. It wasn’t fully chilled and it seemed like the slices were too thin; that may be because the loaf wasn’t fully cold.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 10 hours.

Later, after drying and cooling: They taste good. The texture is good as well. They’re quite thin, more like chips. They’ve curled much more than the ones sliced at 2.5.