Braided Wreath Pumpkin Bread

I promise yours acan look like this too, super easy!This is a recipe I got from one of those small paperback cookbooks in the grocery store. Click here for the link to the original recipe (the completed picture is also from their site, as it looks clearer that any picture I had available). The recipe below is my 3rd (or 4th) version of the original. Not much tweaking has actually occurred in our favorite version of this, which is part of the reason I tracked down the website, gotta give those folks at Pillsbury their due, right? This wreath is usually something that gets made at Christmas time and given as a gift or brought to a gathering.

What You Will Need:


In between 6 and 6 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 packages regular active dry yeast

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup butter (go real, salted butter here, I promise you will notice the difference)

1 1/2 cups apple juice

Fancy Top: (which is really easy & totally looks just like the picture, so give it a go)

1 egg

2 Tablespoons water

2 teaspoons sesame seed

2 teaspoons poppy-seed

What to Do:

In a small sauce pan on medium/high heat combine pumpkin, butter and juice. You will want the butter melted and the mixture to start to bubble, then immediately remove from heat.

Combine dry bread ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (Use only 2 ½ cups of flour at this time)

Add hot pumpkin mix to flour; mix with electric mixer until just combined. Start to gradually add more flour until you have a soft dough. (You probably will not need all the flour listed)

Dust flour on (clean) countertop and place dough on top; knead to mix ingredients really well. (spend 2 to 4 minutes doing this, but keep in mind over kneading is just as bad as over mixing and how you end up with doorstops instead of fluffy breads).

Butter (again as a verb) a medium-sized mixing bowl and roll dough inside to grease it all over. Cover dough in bowl with Saran Wrap. Leave the dough on the counter for at least 1 hour. (It should grow about 2 time its previous size)

While you are waiting, butter a large round cake pan.

When the dough is huge punch it down and then divide it into 2 halves, then each half into 3 equal (or as best as you can) parts.

Now the fun part! This is Play-doh you can lick later and not regret. Roll each sixth into a dough rope (try to keep them all the same length). Using 3 ropes at a time pinch the ends together and braid. Add other ropes, pinch into a circle when you get to the end.

Place in cake pan. Cover with (clean) dish towel and put back on counter for about 30 minutes. (That yeast’ll go crazy and double again, which can be very entertaining for any tiny cooks in your kitchen, they can also really help with this next part)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

While your wreath is rising whisk egg and water in a small bowl.

Once wreath is ready to bake use a pastry brush to brush on egg mixture (it’s called an egg wash) if they can “paint” gently let those tiny cooks do this. Lightly sprinkle seeds on top.

Put in oven and bake about 25 minutes (it will be a lovely golden brown when done).

Remove from pan and allow to cool.

*Note: this is great room temperature or warm, but warm and dipped in apple butter? That is something that you think about later if you know what I mean…*


Pumpkin Spice Bars

These are delicious and also great for taking places. You can freeze these, but I wouldn’t for longer than a month or two. If you are going to take them somewhere frost them but do not cut them until you are ready to serve, they will transport better and stay moist longer that way.

What You Will Need:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

15 oz pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup raisins (at Christmas we prefer this with Cranraisins)

Cream Cheese Frosting

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a paper towel to butter (you can use margarine, I usually do. Butter is a verb here) a 13 x 9 pan.

In a large mixing bowl mix all “wet ingredients” this includes the pumpkin.

In a medium mixing bowl mix the “dry ingredients”, minus the raisins.

Add dry to wet ingredients, stirring as little as possible.

Smooth batter into pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

Allow to completely cool, in pan. Then frost. Let frosting set for at least 4 hours (overnight is best) before cutting and serving.


Stewed Apples

Nothing says fall like pumpkins and apples and cinnamon, at least not to me. Just having this warming on your stove will make your whole house smell awesome. Stewed apples are another wing-spreading type recipe staple and everyone can do this, I promise.

5 Medium Red delicious apples

3 Medium Granny smith apples

1 cup Truvia (or Splenda)

1 ½ cup (packed) Light Brown Sugar

3 Tablespoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Nutmeg

2 Tablespoons Flour

1/8 cup Apple Juice

3 Tablespoons Butter (margarine is fine here too)

Peel, core and cut into slices all apples.

Place apples and all ingredients in saucepan on low heat.

Slowly, stirring the entire time, bring to a boil.

Place lid on and lower heat to simmer.

Continue, occasionally stirring, until apples are completely cooked.

Remove from heat and mixture will begin to thicken.

This is great over pancakes, instead of syrup; on granola at breakfast; with plain yogurt; as a warm desert; dolloped in a small pie crust; served over ham, and a million other ways. Also, it will hold up for about 5 months in your freezer, if properly stored. So make a bunch and portion it out as you need it.

Easy Fall Bake Sale Goodies

Last week at the office we had a bake sale to raise money for United Way. (We raised $140 so go us) I brought in Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins and Mini Pumpkin Loaves.  These are two very easy, but crowd pleasing bake sale staples. I really needed easy, since I was sick off my rear all week. (Feeling much better now, thanks) I figured as it is definitely bake sale time of year I could share these two ideas that are almost cheating they are so easy for anyone who is short on ideas or time.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins:

What you will need:

12 oz Cream Cheese

1 ½ cups Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

4 packages Blueberry Muffin Mix (the kind that requires mix + ½ cup milk; I like the Martha White kind, you can use whatever)


Paper Muffin Cups

Small Ice Cream Scoop

2 Mixing Bowls

To make:

In 1 mixing bowl prepare muffin mix as directed on package.

In second mixing bowl combine Cream Cheese, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract with hand mixer.

Fold Cream Cheese mix into muffin batter.

Use small Ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups. (This will make all of your muffins exactly the same size, which is important for pricing/selling/packaging)

Bake as directed on package.

*Do not package for sale until completely cooled, usually overnight.*

*Note bake time will be longer as batter is more dense, keep an eye on them and use the toothpick test for doneness.*

That was the easiest thing ever, right? Now for Pumpkin Bread! If you use regular sized loaf pans this recipe makes 4 loaves. What I did was make 1 regular loaf (so we could have yummy pumpkin bread at home) and then 9 mini loaves. For your own baking purposes, do not make & try to store/freeze this batter. You can make loaves and then refrigerate or freeze them. I do this a lot as they will thaw fairly quickly and then make a great in-a-pinch fall hostess/teacher/etc gift. In fact as mini loves I give them to teachers before Thanksgiving Break.

Pumpkin Bread:

What you will need:

1 package Vanilla Pudding Mix

6 cups Flour

4 Cups Sugar

4 teaspoons Baking Soda

2 teaspoons Ground Cloves

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

2 teaspoons Nutmeg

2 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

24 ounces Canned Pumpkin

1 1/3 cups oil

6 eggs

1/2 cup 2% milk

*If you are making Low-sugar variety substitute Sugar with Splenda for Baking (equal amounts) and add 3/4 cup flour.*

*Wing-Spreading Tip: When a recipe calls for “Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix” you can buy the tiny jar or make your own, using the proportions listed in this bread of the Nutmeg, Ground Cloves, and Cinnamon.*

To Make:

Grease pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixing bowl mix all ingredients except flour. Make sure to mix very well.

Add flour and mix until just blended.

*Too much mixing at this point will make bread with weird peaks/uneven slices/ect.*

Bake about 1 hour for regular sized Loaf Pans. About 1 1/2 hours for Bundt Pans. About 3/4 hour for Mini Loaves, muffins are even less. Always check back frequently!

*Bake time will vary greatly depending on size of pan. You can even make a low-sugar Bundt Cake out of this bread by adding a glaze and a few crushed pecans on top. *

Happy October all! Bring on the pumpkin!

Easy Glaze

This is a basic glaze, you can use it on any dense cake or bread, like Pumpkin Bread or Pound Cake. Having a standard glaze recipe is essential to any cook’s repertoire. The first one here is the most basic and then a few variations are listed below that.

*Remember glazes should be drizzled, they are not frosting and should never completely coat.*

What you will need:

3 3/4 cups Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup Water

Small Saucepan

What to do: This is like making simple syrup for drinks, only you will want this to be slightly thicker, even when it’s still hot. Keep in mind, once this becomes cool it will harden.

Whisk constantly while on low heat. Add water to pan first, then vanilla, then gradually whisk in powdered sugar.

Once all ingredients are combined alow to cook until mix begins to thicken (just a few seconds after boiling) stirring the entire time.

Remove from heat once beginning to thicken.

Pour over cake/bread/etc. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Sugar Free Glaze:

Substitute Splenda for powdered sugar. (Splenda has the best consistency for this particular recipe)

Add 1/2 water to start, gradually add more until consistency is right. (If you accidentally add too much water allow to cook a moment longer to thicken back to desired consistency)

Lemon Glaze:

Use Lemon Juice instead of water and Lemon Extract instead of Vanilla.

Chocolate Glaze:

Use Chocolate Extract instead of Vanilla.

Add 1/4 cup baking cocoa and 1/3 cup additional powdered sugar. Add additional water 1 Tablespoon at a time until consistency is correct.

Coffee Glaze:

Use brewed (preferably strongly brewed) coffee instead of water. If you want a more espresso feel substitute Coffee Extract for Vanilla.

Raspberry or Strawberry Glaze:

Substitute appropriate Extract for Vanilla.