Sure, soups and stews are typical, welcome components of my autumn and winter kitchen repertoire, but when conditions are ideal--namely, chill in the air on a lazy day--the first thing I usually opt to make is bread. For me, simple, starchy food is some of the best comfort food, and the carbohydrate paradise that is a freshly baked loaf of bread is certainly no exception. It never disappoints, so I make it in one form or another whenever I can.
Despite being tempted to bake go-to breads like sourdough, naan, or English muffins, I deviated a little, opting to try two recipes I had been eying for awhile. The first recipe was for Olive Mini Baguettes, from Joni and Celine's 500 Vegan Recipes. As I slowly work my way through the varied, yet accessible recipes collected into the massive tome, I continue to find the results unique and satisfying. This olive bread was another tasty creation that also used up some leftover black olives--a win-win situation. Naturally, I could not resist the urge to change something, and went with a blend of fresh thyme and rosemary for the herbal component. Rather than fashion the dough into a half-dozen miniature baguettes, I divided it into eight rolls, which I baked at a higher temperature (425 degrees Fahrenheit) than the recipe instructs. The pillow-soft rolls had a thin but crisp crust and a pesto-like flavor, which the authors also noted. I ate them either plain or with hummus; either way was delectable, and I'm sure other spreads would pair just as nicely.
The second bread item was Kittee's Soft Pumpkin Pretzels, yet another tasty homage to autumn. I simply adore pretzels, but never thought to incorporate pumpkin puree into the dough. I pretty much followed the recipe as written, only substituting spelt flour for the atta (due to lack of availability), dividing the dough into 12 rather than six pretzels, and baking them without the pumpkin and sesame garnishes. Were they soft? Absolutely, with a lovely orange hue to remind us all of their seasonal appropriateness. The softness of the end result meant that the pretzels weren't as chewy as I those I am accustomed to devouring, but it was a delightful change. In fact, I am still working my way through the batch, because dividing the dough into 12 pieces still yielded large pretzels, and I have to limit my bread consumption somehow. Of course, I'll probably end up pulling another batch of bread from the oven soon enough, anyway.