Blueberry-Cranberry Bread

Blueberry Cranberry Bread - Crust

This blueberry and cranberry loaf is based on a recipe for “election day bread,” which originally had raisins, candied citrus, and spices. Considering its name, doesn’t it make more sense studded with reds and blues?

But since blueberries are in season during the warmer months and cranberries during the cooler months, this combination doesn’t make sense from the standpoint of the farmer’s market-obsessed, either.

Help decide the outcome of this recipe. Which would you prefer?
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Blueberries or Cranberries?

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Calabaza en Tacha – Candied Pumpkin and Guava

Calabaza en Tacha - Candied Pumpkin and Guava

Calabaza en tacha is traditionally served during the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations but it’s never a bad idea anytime fresh pumpkins are available. Lightly spiced and intensely sweet, it can be enjoyed on its own as a light snack, as a breakfast item with milk, or as a dessert with plain vanilla ice cream.

In this version of calabaza en tacha from Michoacán, guavas and cinnamon give the dark brown glaze an unusual earthy character. The guava seeds also adds interest by embedding itself into the crevices of your teeth, a reminder that the rich sweetness of candied pumpkin is best savored slowly.

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Ginataang Kalabasa – Kabocha Squash in Coconut Milk

Ginataang Kalabasa - Kabocha Squash Stewed in Coconut Milk

Creamy coconut milk is tinged a shade of yellow in this easy Filipino recipe for squash and shrimp simmered in coconut milk. This is my “macaroni and cheese,” with rice and tender kabocha squash assuming the roles of pasta and cheddar.

As with most comfort foods, ginataang kalabasa has countless variations. Other ginataan recipes call for fermented shrimp paste (bagoong) and fish sauce (patis), but for squash and shrimp, my preference lies with milder seasonings.

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Challah Recipe from The New York Times

New York Times Challah - close up

Braided loaves intimidate me. Even more intimidating is this double-decker challah recipe from Sara, but it turns out to be a pleasure to work with. It’s an excellent introduction to an essential decorative bread shaping technique shared across many cultures.

I guess it’s time to revisit all of the recipes for braided breads that I overlooked — a 100% whole grain version for challah comes to mind.

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Sonnenblumenbrot – German Sunflower Seed Bread

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread Crumb

Since fall is in full swing and turning my place into a sauna is starting to make sense, we continue with more bread baking. Our most recent exploit had the oven cranked up at maximum temperature but today’s featured recipe bakes at a balmy 460ºF with steam. Lots of steam. So much steam that I had to keep a safe distance from the oven lest nether regions get soft-boiled.

The result is a crusty boule that crackles audibly when pulled from the oven. Bespeckled with toasted sunflower seeds and coarse rye grains, nutty flavors thoroughly permeate the loaf and give it its distinctive character.

Jeffrey Hamelman suggests pairing sonnenblumenbrot with hard cheeses, peanut butter, jams, or butter. My pick? None of the above. A lightly toasted slice is enough to satisfy my simple tastes.

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