I actually had an entirely different article planned for today, but you know what? Bread ended up happening instead. As many of you probably know, I am undertaking a newfound hobby of baking and my goal is to bake a different kind of bread each week. This week, I decided to make pumpkin bread!

As with last week’s bread, I found this recipe on pinterest and will link it here. I was drawn to it because it claims to be a “Starbucks copycat”- I’ll be the one to judge that, as a Starbucks employee and connoisseur. Find out at the end how this recipe measured up to the Starbucks pumpkin loaf!

I already had most of the ingredients; the only things I had to go out of my way to buy was the pumpkin puree (and a can opener for the said puree.) The rest of the items were just your basic kitchen staples- flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. First I mixed together the dry ingredients- the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking sugar, and salt. I only added half a teaspoon of cinnamon because I didn’t want it to be *too* overpowering, but you can definitely add another teaspoon of cinnamon if you want an extra kick.

Next, I mixed together the wet ingredients. I was a little bit nervous about “whipping up” the sugar and the butter because I don’t have a mixer, as the recipe instructs, but honestly, just using a regular ‘ole pastry spatula worked fine for me. I mixed the sugar and the butter until it was as light and fluffy as possible, and then I added in the pumpkin puree, eggs, and almond milk. After that was mixed adequately, I slowly added in bits of the dry ingredients until I had a very thick batter. I was expecting it to be less chunky, but again, I don’t have a mixer, so that probably affected the consistency a little bit.

I then poured the batter into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (easier cleanup for me) and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes. The recipe only calls for 50-60 minutes, but my bread actually wasn’t quite done for an additional fifteen minutes. Make sure you test out your bread with a toothpick or a fork to make sure it’s cooked all the way through! By the way, this bread smells AMAZING while it’s baking. It’s a perfectly sweet and subtle pumpkin scent, and it made my entire kitchen smell like fall. 

I waited until Nathaniel got here to cut into it, so we could both try it at the same time (he also works at Starbucks and was ready to compare it to our pumpkin loaf.) I personally think the bread came out absolutely delicious, soft, and so perfectly sweet. I also think it had the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor and tasted preeeetyy darn similar to the actual Starbucks version (minus the fact that this recipe doesn’t have the nuts on top.) Nathaniel thought the bread was delicious, too, but he didn’t think it tasted “pumpkiny enough.” I’m gonna have to disagree with him there, I think the notes of pumpkin really came through and it didn’t need any alterations. Overall, this recipe was a huge success, and I’m excited to bake this bread for my family! Maybe for Thanksgiving this is what I’ll be bringing to the table.

So, that summarizes this week’s adventure in baking! I think next week I’ll switch back to a savory recipe, so let me know if you have any ideas or recommendations for me. Thanks for reading!

While in quarantine, I’ve been journaling a lot about the different hobbies I’d eventually like to pursue and make time for. One of those hobbies is baking bread, because it’s such an intricate and patience-requiring art, I feel like it would bring me a lot of joy to try it. And guess what- I was right! I absolutely love baking bread.

The bread recipe I used was probably the most basic artisan bread you can find- flour, water, salt, and instant yeast. I specifically bought a specific bread flour that is designed for baking loaves, pizza crusts, and biscuits with, so I’m really looking forward to cooking with that again in the future.

The first step for me was to combine all of the ingredients and mix it together thoroughly. I used 3 and ¼ cups of bread flour, 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, 1 and ½ cups of cool water, and 2 teaspoons of coarse salt. Personally, I just used regular coarse sea salt, but I imagine you can use any salt that you wish. I also added a few good shakes of rosemary garlic seasoning (probably about 4-5 good shakes,) and mixed that into the batter as well. After I finished mixing it, I just covered it with some cling wrap and let it sit in the bowl for about two hours. As you can see, it looked pretty sticky and rough at first, but that was normal and to be expected. After I let it sit out and rise for a couple of hours, it got much fluffier and doughier. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doubled in size.

After this step, I read that you can either immediately continue with the cutting and the baking, or you can refrigerate the dough and use it for up to three days. I’ve read from a few different sources that it’s better to let it sit in the refrigerator than to use the dough immediately (it has something to do with the air bubbles,) but it really doesn’t make too much of a difference. I didn’t refrigerate my dough, and as you’re soon to find out, my bread turned out just fine. 

After the 2 hours were up, I cut the dough in half (which was so satisfying) and formed two individual loaves, about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide each. After that, I preheated my oven to 450 degrees and left the loaves to sit AGAIN for another 45 minutes or so. The dough did flatten out a bit during that time, but it was easy enough to just push them back in and narrow them out again. After that, I made 3 slits in each of the loaves, about half an inch thick, and then I baked the loaves for about 25 minutes. Don’t forget to flour your hands and the baking sheet for this step! I think I might have used a bit too much flour, but it didn’t change the flavor or the texture of the bread.

You cannot imagine my pure joy when I checked on the bread 25 minutes later and I saw that it looked absolutely delightful! It looked perfectly cooked and browned on top, and the loaves had lost their heaviness and became light and fluffy. And they smelled absolutely amazing, too, which I owe to the rosemary garlic seasoning.

When I cut into the bread, I was very happy with the color and the density. It wasn’t as airy as I had expected- it was a bit denser and there weren’t a lot of holes- but that’s probably because I didn’t leave the dough to cool for 12 hours in the fridge. Instead of using butter or olive oil, I put mascarpone on my bread as a topping, and oh my goodness- it was absolutely divine. Mascarpone is a very soft, creamy, Italian cheese spread with a subtle taste, and I think it balanced perfectly with this bread. Because I made two loaves, I saved one for myself and froze the other one immediately so I could give it to my boyfriend’s family. I definitely don’t need two loaves of bread, so I was happy to give some away!

Overall, I think my first experience with baking bread was very successful! I can’t believe the bread came out decently; in fact, I’d go as far as to compare the flavor and the density to the white Cheesecake Factory bread. Speaking of Cheesecake Factory bread, I found a copycat recipe for the brown bread. Should that be my next baking endeavor? Let me know below! In fact, drop any other bread suggestions you have below! Right now on my horizons, I’d like to make sweet dinner rolls or pumpkin loaf next. Eventually I’d like to work my way up to sourdough bread, but not until I’m a bit more advanced.

August has been a pretty chill month for me. I’ve been working a lot, but I’ve also had a lot of down time (those of you who read my weekly newsletter know why.) I’ve been listening to a lot of new music and trying to pick up new relaxing hobbies, such as baking bread and making scrapbooks. Read on to find out what else I’m loving in August!

Lifestyle | CBD 

What Is Cannabidiol, and How Is CBD Used in Medicine? - Sensi Seeds

I’ve enjoyed using CBD oil for a couple of years now, but I was recently visited by a friend who introduced me to a new way to consume it: smoking it! Yes, CBD blunts are a thing. They look (and smell) just like weed, but obviously, smoking it won’t make you high. I smoked a little bit of it (it’s legal here in Massachusetts) and I really liked the relaxing effect it had on me. It made me really drowsy as well, so I slept very well that night. I don’t foresee or plan on becoming dependent on it, but I would like to explore purchasing it again in the future from my local dispensary. 

Music | Ashnikko

Meet Ashnikko, the Rapper Carving a Lane Of Her Own With 'Stupid ...

Funnily enough, the same friend who brought me CBD also got me into Ashnikko’s music. I had known her recent single “Cry” for a few weeks and was totally bopping out to it, but over the last few weeks I’ve gotten immersed in even more of her music. She reminds me a lot of Grimes, Doja Cat, and Charli XCX rolled into one awesome human. Her songs are empowering, strong, catchy, and the music videos are a treat as well! She also clearly has a funny and adorable personality, as I’ve learned from her YouTube videos. Right now, I have the song “Daisy” on repeat. 

Music | folklore by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's 'Folklore': All 16 songs, ranked - Los Angeles Times

I have to say, I was NOT a huge Taylor Swift fan before Lover came out. I never actually had anything against her, but her country-pop music just never appealed to me. However, Lover really opened my eyes up to her softer music, and of course, folklore just knocked me out of the park. It’s just such a perfect soundtrack for fall, and all of the songs are so poetic, relatable, and perfectly stripped back. I could never pick a favorite song off the album, but I really love “august” and “epiphany.” I’ve been listening to this album while I bake, journal, scrapbook, and blog, and it puts me in such a great mood for the day.

Lifestyle | Burnt-Orange Everything

c h i l l a x / burnt orange ❀ @talia2art | Orange aesthetic ...
Image source: Pinterest

2020 is the year of burnt orange everything, prove me wrong. Lately I’ve been wearing so many burnt-orange skirts, beanies, eyeshadow colors, and even lipsticks. I just think it’s such a universally flattering color, and it’s a perfect transition shade into the cooler months. I’m really looking forward to wearing my burnt-orange hat with my burnt-orange purse while I listen to folklore and bake this fall. The next step is to get some burnt-orange fall decor, like pumpkins and throw blankets. 

Lifestyle | Baking Bread!!

Photo by Mariana Kurnyk on Pexels.com

I’ve been wanting to get into baking for a while, and there’s no better time than right now, right? It’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, and even though it does take a while to make, most of that time is just to let it sit and do nothing. The bread that I just made is a VERY basic recipe (water, bread flour, salt, and instant yeast,) but I jazzed it up a bit with some rosemary and garlic chunks. I’m going to be posting a more in-depth bread-making article later down the line, so keep your eyes out for that! Making bread is so relaxing and satisfying. 

Fashion | Hoops

I’ve always really liked hoops, but I shied away from wearing them until now because I was aware that wearing hoops could be considered cultural appropriation to the lantinx community. With that being said, I believe women (or men) can wear hoops as a form of cultural appreciation  as well- you just have to understand the history and background behind the culture you are borrowing from, and realize that your choice to do so is a privilege (because you can take your hoops off at the end of the day, whereas a marginalised community cannot just “take off” their identity.). I would never want to come across as someone who is trying to wear hoops for “Latin flavor;” I just like the way they look and I try to be as mindful and educated as I can about why hoop earrings symbolize strength and resilience in the latinx community. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this month’s favorites! I’m glad to be back on track with blogging; my new work hours sort of threw me for a loop, but I’m definitely starting to adjust now and find new time for writing.