One of the best things about holiday desserts and treats is that they seem like universal crowd pleasers. From nutmeg and cinnamon to cloves and ginger (and, of course, sugar!), fall’s sweet flavors are adored for good reason. If you’re someone who loves to cook at home, we’ve got sought-after recipes to help you recreate favorite seasonal treats from some of the most popular farms on the North Shore. And if tying an apron isn’t for you, you can expect to skip the cleanup and buy some fresh items from the farm bakeries.
Russell Orchards Pumpkin Bread
To Russell Orchards in Ipswich, baking is truly a family affair. This 120-acre fruit farm is run by Doug and Miranda Russell, who are the second generation of Russells to farm the land. Although making every item in the bakery from scratch is a difficult task, it is very important for the family. “All of our baked goods are made from scratch and made on site, and although it’s a lot of work, I think it’s definitely worth it,” says Miranda Russell. “It’s obviously a really busy time of year for us, but I can’t help but remember when I’m cooking that the items I make will end up on someone’s holiday table. – and that’s something really special,” she adds.
Deciding what to buy at the Farm Bakery is a tough decision you’ll have to make yourself, but we’re making the case for Pumpkin Bread, maybe the perfect Pumpkin Bread. It’s amazing as is and even better straight out of the oven. The recipe itself isn’t too intimidating for the home baker, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
This recipe is taken from the Russell Orchards Home Cookbook, Grammy’s Kitchen, The Russell Orchards Fruit Cookbook. The book is a collection of recipes to be made throughout the year according to the seasons of fruit and vegetables from the orchard.
1 can 15 oz pumpkin puree (or equivalent amount of pulp from a roasted sugar pumpkin)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
⅔ cup of water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3½ cups flour
2 tbsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 C. Nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. Ginger
1 cup chopped nuts or raisins (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper or grease and flour them.
3. In large bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, applesauce, water and sugar until well blended.
4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
5. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin until just blended.
6. Pour into molds and bake for about 50 minutes. The loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cider Hill Farm Cider Donut Bread Pudding
An apple cider donut is fall par excellence, and Cider Hill Farm Amesbury has some of the best (ask any kid, they’re hard to beat!). Not content to rest on their laurels when it comes to donuts, the folks at the farm kick it up a notch with their Cider Bread Pudding, which turns their standout donuts into a delicious dessert. Gooey, full of fall flavors and topped off with apples, this is a dish you have to try and believe whether you serve it for breakfast or dessert. In addition to donuts, Cider Hill offers a wide array of impressive baked goods and honey from their own hives as well as sweet cider and hard cider, all pressed on site.
6 cider donuts, broken into bite-size pieces
1 large apple – peeled, cored and chopped
1½ cup half and half
¼ cup) sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C. vanilla extract
¾ c. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. Maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking dish.
2. Combine donuts and apple in prepared baking dish.
3. Whisk half and half mixture, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.
4. Pour half and half mixture over donuts and apples in baking dish.
5. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
6. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
7. Let cool and drizzle with maple syrup.
Smolak Farms Harvest Patches
To Smolak Farms in North Andover there is so much to do (and eat). Whether you come for a fall festival weekend, a scoop or two of ice cream, or seasonal fruit picking, this is a farm for all ages. In the bakery, pies, donuts, scones and whoopie pies abound. There’s something in store to satisfy every sweet tooth. Harvest Bars are a fall favorite not only for their flavor but also because of their portability (who doesn’t love a bar to enjoy at home, on the go, in the car, etc.). Made with pumpkin, chocolate chips, cinnamon and more, these bars also freeze well, though the challenge will be getting some for the freezer!
½ cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 can canned pumpkin filling
1¾ cup flour
1 C. baking soda
1 C. cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
¼ tsp. grounded ginger
¼ tsp. ground clove
½ tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and the pumpkin and mix well.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the pumpkin mixture.
3. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Grease a 9 x 12 inch pan and pour the mixture into it. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
5. When cooled, frost with 4 oz softened cream cheese ¼ cup softened butter 2 cups sifted powdered sugar 1 tsp vanilla
6. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, mix well.
These can be frozen, they are addictive!
A great advantage of being surrounded by so many beautiful farms on the North Shore is that it is difficult to avoid them. Stop by, talk to the staff, ask about recipes and baked goods. It is by coming together to support our local farms and in turn provide for our families and friends that we realize an important part of what Thanksgiving is all about.