Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

The weeping willow has shed so many of her tears, blanketing all but a tiny, undulating trail of sidewalk for my pup and me. Our routine walk has taken us past all her emotions- from full and boastful to drooping sorrow. Half cloaked and half unveiled, her in-between state reflects the season- not quite fall, not quite winter, all over gray with a tinge of the somber. 

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

If only the willow knew of sunny pumpkins and gourds, with their brilliant orange colors and comforting flavors. Or maybe she does, and the descent of her leaves is more like a sweeping embrace than an ugly cry.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

Like the scantily clad willow tree, these bars mark the transition of Thanksgiving to winter holiday baking. Pumpkin bar meets a gingerbread crust with a snowfall of pumpkin streusel and a garland of molasses. Though the willow may be submitting to the coming of the cold season, the fiery red trees seem to defy it, so channel them if you need a little warmth in these gray months. Or bake these, and serve with hot tea.

Bon Appétit!

Quelcy Signature


Whole Grain Pumpkin Bars with Gingerbread Crust & Pumpkin Streusel
Yield: 9×13 pan/about 24 bars

About this Recipe: Pumpkin + Spice on a gingery crust. The molasses drizzle made eaters think the streusel had raisins, so if you’re not a raisin fan, skip the drizzle. I used turmeric in the filling for color and nutrients.

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A Lemon Recipe Roundup

To quote the good folks at Commonwealth Press: "When life gives you lemons, eat them whole. Seriously. Just choke them all down... skin, pulp, seeds and all and don't break…

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A Desert-Inspired Lemon Ginger Turmeric Layer Cake

Bake and Bakery.

The words are mere letters apart, but off paper, the words may as well have a Grand-Canyon-sized expanse between them. To own and manage a bakery and bake professionally is more akin to running a manufacturing facility than it is to casually grabbing a mixing bowl and satisfying a craving. There’s an economy to repetition, to consistency and precision. Without judgement for those who pursue the bakery route as a means of sharing their creations with the world (with immense gratitude in fact!), I can say hands down, I do not want my own bakery. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

As a home baker, I can be wildly impractical, intensely specific to my eaters and astronomically over budget (what budget?!?). I can choose my recipients. I can have a furry dog running around the kitchen and assign her the title of “Baking Assistant.” I can bake a recipe and never repeat it. I can serve a cake with a living plant planted within the lemony crumbs. I know my place in the baking world, and I revel in it. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

Since I’m not a bakery, commissions are not part of my baking practice, but every once in a while, the right person comes along, who respects my non-commercial kitchen, adores the four-legged assistant and embraces my need for creative freedom. When that person comes along, I break the rules. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

Heather is one of the people for whom I break the rules. A huge supporter of my work, she ever so sweetly asked me last year if she could commission a birthday cake. When she requested the cake capture the flapper era instead of requesting a flavor, I agreed to bake her birthday cake, and the result was one of my favorites so far! 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

This May, Heather once again asked me if I would be able to bake her a birthday cake. “What’s the theme?” was my reply! She said she was feeling inspired by Native American patterns and artwork, and my brain began storming. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

The most I have experienced Native American culture was when I took a life-changing summer class called “Earth Works & Sacred Sites.” For 2+ very intense weeks, a small group of us road tripped through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. We hiked National and State Parks and explored earth art installations like Spiral Jetty and the Lightning Field. We explored historical Native American remnants like Mesa Verde and stood in awe of sacred structures. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

My personal ties to Native American culture are steeped in the deserts of the American Southwest, where sands change from bright golds to brick reds with the passing of miles, where I napped in a rock carved by a waterfall, where I soaked up the dry heat like a happy lizard. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

The desert was my inspiration for this cake, whose base was cornmeal, a nod to the Native American civilizations that venerated the vegetable/grain (unlike our modern day agricultural system). The internet is full of ideas for fondant succulents, but I’m morally opposed to fondant, as it seems like an “edible” play dough. Instead, I juiced a grapefruit to flavor the frosting, and then saved the grapefruit rind as a planter for a living succulent. In this way, the cake was a gift that kept on giving. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

Even the cake’s serving plate was a planter base, so Heather could find use for it in her plant collection after the last morsel of cake had disappeared. 

Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake with Grapefruit Frosting & A Living Succulent // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’m no bakery. I don’t churn out birthday cakes or daily batches of cookies, but for the right person, I am inclined to take on thematic birthday cake challenges.

Happy Birthday Heather! 

Cheers,

Quelcy Signature


Desert Inspired Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Cornmeal Layer Cake 
with Grapefruit Frosting & A Succulent Planter

About This Recipe: Forget fondant, and give the gift of a real succulent garnish with this desert inspired cake. By saving a grapefruit half, the succulent can be potted without having dirt contaminate the cake. 

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Roasted Beet Hummus (Vegan)

“Put a beet on it” might be the new “Put a bird on it.” Between the bold color, the natural sweetness and the ability to endure a long winter in storage, the beet has risen in popularity from its humble beginnings as that odd pickled staple at my Czech grandmother’s table.  

Roasted Beet Hummus (Vegan) // www.WithTheGrains.com

And “Put a beet on it” I have! From waffles, to cakes, to frostings, and even donuts, I’ve worked that painterly root vegetable’s color and sweetness into every course. When it came time to make a meal to share with a vegan friend, hummus came to mind. 

Roasted Beet Hummus (Vegan) // www.WithTheGrains.com

As much as I love hummus, its color palette leaves much to be desired, so I… put a beet on it- roasted beets, tart lemon juice, a kick of garlic and the most important secret, last-minute decision- fresh ginger! The result is a bold, beautiful bowl that makes hummus more dippable and even more addicting than ever! 

Quelcy Signature

Roasted Beet Hummus
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten Free
yield: ~1 quart

About this Recipe: My Palestinian friend taught me his mother’s time-tested secret. Even if you are using canned chickpeas, it pays to soak them in water for at least half an hour and rinse them thoroughly. This makes the chickpea much more digestible! The hummus will keep in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long).

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