Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Fall Baking is a Go, and Doggy Tales

The clocks turned back by an hour this past Sunday as we switched back to Eastern Standard Time. The time honored thing to do (no pun intended) is to use that extra hour to sleep in. Since that wasn't an option for me with my little early bird, I did the next best thing and used the extra hour to fire up the oven and get on with Fall baking.

Sunday was also the day when we turned a page on the calendar, and there really was no better way to start off the brand new month of November than to be elbow-deep in pumpkin puree and flour, in a warm kitchen scented with vanilla and cinnamon.

Baking had already started the day before, on Saturday. I did end up making that pumpkin cream cheese roll that I dreamed about for days after watching the Swiss roll episode of the Great British Baking Show and talked about last week. The recipe was from a reliable source, the King Arthur Flour blog. It needed a 10 x 15 inches baking pan which I did not have, but I found one in my supermarket for about 5 bucks.

The recipe was surprisingly easy to follow. I cut down the sugar in the cake to 3/4 cup. The filling of the cake is absolutely dreamy (and I'm usually not a fan of frosting). It came together quickly and easily; I did everything by hand with a bowl and a whisk. The cake cracked a little bit as I started to roll it but the cracks got hidden in the inside of the roll.

We took the pumpkin roll to our neighborhood Halloween potluck and costume party and it was well-received. Now, from the strictly critical view-point of, say, Paul and Mary, the cake was slightly sticky and the roll sank a little bit (it "sat" instead of being a perfect oval). But the taste was wonderful and I can see myself making this again and again. Hooray for finally making a Swiss roll!

Sunday baking started with an apple bundt cake and pumpkin chocolate chip bread; I had to bring in these treats to a work event on Monday morning.

The pumpkin chocolate chip bread was a quick way to use up the leftover canned pumpkin from making the roll.

The apple bundt cake came from this recipe on Epicurious. I love the bundt pan that my sister bought for me from the factory sale in Minneapolis, and super-sized bundt cakes are just the thing to feed a crowd. This recipe is definitely a keeper. My modifications were to cut the sugar down to 1 3/4 cups from 2.5 cups, I used milk instead of orange juice and did not peel the apples. I loved how the sugary apple pieces studded the cake throughout. Most apple cakes are crumbly and this one surprised me by being very easy to cut into neat slices with a serrated knife.


While the cakes were in the oven, I threw in a whole spaghetti squash to bake at the same time, and then made a gratin with the spaghetti squash and some collard greens. That took care of lunch.

The final bake of the day was my weekly big batch of granola, which is what V eats for breakfast day after week after year.

On the subject of baking, I should tell you about the impossible pumpkin pie  I made last weekend from Susan's recipe. We had guests who don't eggs, and I wanted to make something seasonal, so this vegan recipe for pumpkin pie was just the thing. Impossible pies are crustless, but with added flour, so that as they bake, the flour separates and magically forms a crust (of sorts) for the pie. I like them for how effortless they are to put together.

I used one whole can of pumpkin (not pie filling, just pure canned pumpkin) in this recipe, and some extra baking powder and baking soda in place of the commercial egg substitute. It came out well and tasted wonderful chilled and served with a side of whipped cream and toasted walnuts.

I did get my allotted extra hour of sleep that day, by exhausting myself completely and going to bed at 8 PM!

* * *
What's sweeter than apple cake and pumpkin bread put together? Definitely our almost-3 year old mutt, Duncan.


Duncan is a canine ambassador, a "gateway dog" who has helped many people get over their fear of dogs just by having the sweetest personality. Just last weekend, we had a visitor who screamed in fright when Duncan first came into the room. A couple of hours later, she was willingly petting him on the head as she said goodbye. Her husband could not believe his eyes.

This is funny because at almost 100 lbs, being big is his defining characteristic. And he has a resounding bark that can make you jump out of your skin. But the big dogs are the gentlest ones. One time, a tiny 5 pound kitten walked right up to Duncan and slapped a paw at his nose. Not very smart of the kitten, because Dunkie could have eaten her in one bite if he wanted to. But he just looked hurt/bewildered and backed off.


When Lila's little friends come over to play, I watch him closely, not because I'm afraid that he will hurt the kids (I have complete confidence that he won't), but I worry that the kids will be too rough with him. Duncan loves playing with the little ones; it is funny to see him towering over the doll house and trying to join in the game. But never try to play hide and seek with a dog- the dog will win every time.


A few weeks ago, lightning struck our neighbor's house down the road late on a stormy evening, and the house caught on fire- no one was hurt, luckily. It was a chaotic situation for the homeowner, a lady in her 80s, and we offered to take in her two dogs for the night and keep them safe while the family figured out what to do. And of course, Duncan being Duncan, welcomed the two strangers into his home, shared his food, toys and bed with them and did not complain when one of the dogs started bossing him around.

Which is not to say that Dunkie does not have his feisty side. He loves playing boisterously at the dog park and at doggie daycare, where we send him one or two days a week so he can play his little heart out. He's always well-behaved at daycare, except for one time when I went to pick him up and was told, "Duncan used his size to take away toys from other dogs". I didn't quite know how to respond to that- Umm, I'll have a chat with him about his behavior?

Lila asked me, "When Duncan was a puppy, was he a chihuahua?" Kids have impeccable logic!

What have you been baking and cooking? Tell me about the pets in your life.

30 comments:

  1. I was in denial that its already November, but now after reading about your pumpkin pies and baking galore, ready to embrace the second last month of the year :)- Duncan is a sweetheart. We have a chocolate lab who is also a gentle giant.The only thing we need him to stop doing is trying to give everyone a hug, he stands up tall on his hind paws and the front two are on your shoulder like a big hug saying "how was your day today, i missed you so much" LOL!! Btw, I'm a long time reader of your blog and a fellow Kolhapuri, miss Kop. so much. Anyways, love your posts and planning to try your pumpkin chocolate chip bread this weekend! Happy November :)

    -Rashmi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rashmi- Hi! Aww- your choc lab sounds so sweet! Duncan does exactly those kinds of hugs, but only with my husband. He's tried it with me once or twice, but I collapse under his weight so he gave up on me. Enjoy the rest of November!

      Delete
  2. Once again, admiration for all that you do Nupur! Bless you and your family.
    Duncan looks adorable! Had three dogs growing up in India but never had one in Sydney.
    Somehow the neighbours’ cats adopted us so over the years we’ve had guest pets!
    Haven’t baked anything but since we’ve gone on to daylight savings and it is warming up, I made several batches of kothimbir vadi ( coriander is abundant) and froze them for later use.
    Look forward to your next post. Shubha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shubha- I love that the neighbor's cat is your guest pet! So sweet- pets do bring the community together. Kothimbir vadi is my favorite. Enjoy your summer down under!

      Delete
  3. I have many memories of wonderful pets. Pup the collie who had a very low tolerance of the bullies next door. Trixie the german shorthair, she wasn't the puppy Dad had picked out but that was my brother's and my choice and he couldn't persuaded us otherwise. El Gato, mouser extraordinaire, and the most laid-back cat I have ever had. Psycho Kitty who was 'a couple sandwiches short of a picnic' and probably would have been better of as a barn cat. Next spring I think Sister Suzy and I may start looking for another pet. I kind of miss having a critter to hug on.

    My favorite pumpkin recipe is my Aunt's pumpkin chiffon pie it is so light, air and luscious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy- I loved hearing about your pets. They have such unique personalities. I do hope you find another pet to bring home, it is the best thing to come home to a loving (and/or crazy) animal. Pumpkin chiffon pie sounds wonderful!

      Delete
  4. Duncan is so handsome! What a sweetheart! All your fall baking is making me hungry and jealous!! I need a pumpkin roll in my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lu! Yes, our Duncan is a good-looking boy with a very big heart :)

      Delete
  5. I do love a good Swiss roll! I would love to make one some day.
    I recently made Mary Berry's sponge cake. I like using her baking recipes but there is far too much sugar and she always uses good old butter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arpita- Swiss rolls are surprisingly easy to make, I think I will try a few variations for holiday potlucks and dinners before this year is up! I cut down quite a bit on sugar in baking recipes and they come out fine. Should try Mary Berry's sponge cake some time!

      Delete
  6. Nupur, you've inspired me to try baking a swiss roll. I think I'm going to give it a shot this month. I might be the odd one out, but I ve never liked pets! But reading about Duncan makes me wonder why :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shruti- do try it and let us know how your Swiss roll baking goes! Come and visit Duncan some time and see if he can change your mind about pets ;)

      Delete
  7. Your bakes and the fall is making me take the first flight to US! I miss fall badly. Though bangalore is pretty nice this time of the year too. My brand new toaster oven is still in its box and all these recipes are making me want to break it open :)
    I had no pets growing up, mom was allergic to dog hair :(
    We are planning to get a doggy for our 2 year old son. He is obsessed with dogs. The first work he said was "bhu bhu" when he was a year old :) Enjoy baking and fall!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neha- Good luck settling into your new home! I lived in Bangalore for a few months (many years ago) and loved that city.

      Please please consider adopting a stray dog or one from a shelter or rescue group rather than buying a dog from a breeder! We love our one of a kind mutts around here. I hope you find a wonderful dog for your little boy- growing up with a dog is the best thing ever. Teaches kids a lot about empathy and love.

      Delete
  8. All that baking sounds wonderful - hope it tired lila too. I am sure I would love Duncan but I am also pretty sure my daughter wouldn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Johanna- Lila did love helping me with the baking, and especially helping me lick the bowls and spoons once the batter was safely in the oven!!

      Delete
  9. Duncan is such a sweetheart, please give him a bear hug from me. I have never had a pet (unless you count the fish in our fish tank) and hope to adopt a dog just like Duncan someday. My hubby loves big dogs and had 2 while growing up that he still fondly remembers, I am the one who's a bit scared of them and trying to get over my fear. I was attacked by 4 stray dogs many many years ago and at the end of the long chase I fainted and was unconscious for a while. It was the only bad incident so far and I've met many lovable dogs since then to change my opinion of them but the thought of living with a dog still feels a bit out of my comfort zone but I am getting there...I do picture it in my mind and I will make it happen someday for sure. :-)

    I am going to bake that apple bundt as soon as I am done with Diwali faral. I can't wait to use my new bundt pans too. Wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali in advance.

    - Priti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Priti- Happy Diwali to you and your husband! Most of the big dogs I've known are very calm and gentle- they are so much like people (nice people!) that it is uncanny. I hope you can have a dog someday! The dog attack does sound traumatic so I understand your hesitation.

      Delete
  10. Hi Nupur,
    Amused to read about doggy daycare and your response.

    Angel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angel! Doggy daycare is quite hilarious, Duncan loves it though!

      Delete
  11. Loved the Duncan updates, Nupur, he is so adorable! And I love Lila's question! My labrador retriever Roger who will turn 4 in February is the love of my life. He's always wagging his tail and is full of mischief and love and is a pain in the neck and I cannot imagine life without him. I think it's wonderful that Lila is growing up with a dog - that's the best childhood gift she can have :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kamini! It is such a privilege to get to share life with a wonderful dog, isn't it? The bond between Lila and Duncan is so strong- it is the sweetest thing.

      Delete
  12. hello Nupur,
    You are in full swing this November !!! Probably trying to makeup for all the baking you've missed this year :-)
    I love the swiss rolls, apple bundt cake and pumpkin choc chip bread sounds so interesting. I've got to try that !!!
    I've never had pets at home my entire life. But, I do have friends who have dogs/cats and I regularly hear about their tales. I cannot believe Duncan being so big (physically) is such a sweet dog. I'm honestly scared of big dogs; I've had a couple big dogs chase me and jump on me and bark and I'm clueless about how to handle them. One tip I have been told is to never run when dogs chase and I follow that tip to the T. But reading about Duncan makes me re-think my opinion about dogs. Your Duncan is beyond sweet; such a sensitive accommodative pet.:-)

    Lila's question made me laugh :-) Amazing to see the world through their eyes !!!

    Happy Holidays
    Meena.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meena- Yes, the rain and cold weather (and holidays) are bringing out all my baking enthusiasm.

      Duncan is indeed a very sensitive and sweet-tempered dog. I can see how a big boisterous dog can be scary though. It helps to be calm and not fearful and anxious when dealing with a dog- they are very attuned to human emotions. Come meet Duncan sometime!

      Delete
  13. Never had pets but am definitely a dog person. We were at a friend's this weekend and had my fill of their adorable and umm... likely obedience school dropout haha.. golden retriever. We are all sitting on the floor on cushions and he'd keep whacking people in the face with his great big bushy tail. The silly mutt also loved belly rubs and kept rolling over for some all the time. Such lovely, soft, caramel colour fur. So handsome and stately... Love golden retrievers.

    My family is dead against dogs and my sister is actually quite allergic to pet dander of any kind. So no pets at home for me..sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janani- I love it when friends who don't have pets come over and spend time with Duncan for their "dog fix", and he loves it too. Win win. I adore golden retrievers- they are wonderful dogs.

      Delete
  14. Lila is an absolute doll and Duncan is a hunk, yes, all 100 pounds of him.(in comparison to him I guess our 25 pound border collie- retriever mix Tara is a chihuahua:-))

    Loved your fall baking roundup. My eyes were pronto drawn to the perfect(to me!) looking swiss roll(I recall in childhood a neighborhood bakery selling a chocolate version of it that was only bought by my home baking aai once in a blue moon, literally!). Also that bundt looks too perfect to be real and am sure was mighty tasty too.

    I'm no good at baking sweet treats(except for a butter cake that turns out perfect each time so I stick with it for all and any occasions) but I'm trying to perfect my quiche recipe this season. As a result the family has been subjected to quiches ad infinitum for past several weeks and just last night they begged to be given a break for a week or so. Am mainly trying to come up with the best dough for the shell you see because it's been nagging me for many years that while I love quiche I've always bought the readymade shell so high time I did it meself:-) So far favorite filling- curried veggies and chicken(will substitute with tofu next time for vegan mom and see how it goes).

    Deepa

    ReplyDelete
  15. Happy diwali nupur! Love your blog..

    ReplyDelete
  16. Duncan is such a cutie. He reminds me a lot of my Opie who is just a big love bug (although only about half Duncan's size) and is the calmest, sweetest dog around other dogs, although people can sometimes rub him the wrong way. That story about the kitten is hilarious One thing I learned early on with dogs and cats, having both in the household, is that contrary to our instinct to think cats will be the underdogs because of their size, it's usually the other way around. Our dogs never managed to hurt a hair on our cats, but there certainly were some scratched and bloody dog noses around in the early days. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love Duncan's stories, giant dogs are the gentlest.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!