Quick & Easy category winner, 2023

Carol Adamek is an accomplished baker from Dallas, Texas.  She has entered bread and other baked goods in the state fair there for 27 years but was wary about baking with yeast until about 12 years ago.  In order to work through this challenge, she attended a workshop that helped her see the benefits of working with yeast.  Adamek enjoys the challenge of working with yeast, exploring new categories of bakery items, and learning the unique characteristics it brings to each item.

Adamek enjoyed developing Nutty Pumpkin Cranberry Dinner Rolls to bring a little bit of complexity and depth of flavor profile to the traditional potato roll.  She loves these flavors independently and thought that they would work well together in a dinner roll.  She was preparing butternut squash soup to serve to her family, and it got her wondering what kind of bread would make a good combo for this meal.  She adds that these rolls would go quite well with an entrée salad or any other soup.

The method for baking this bread is well-deserving of the winning title in the “Quick and Easy” category.  Adamek made the dough in her bread machine, though she thinks it would also be possible to make it in a stand mixer.  She explains that this recipe is quick and easy because the ingredients are simple to assemble, and the bread machine does the rest.  The main ingredients of pumpkin, all-purpose flour, toasted and chopped pecans, cranberries and pumpkin pie spice come together in the bread machine quite nicely for these delicious rolls.

Adamek shares some of her general kitchen tips with us that she applies to all her baking, but especially this recipe.  First, to make the rolls an even size, Adamek determined that the easiest way was to weigh the entire dough ball and divide this weight by the number of rolls desired; in her case, 12 rolls.  Second, she recommends having all ingredients for this recipe at room temperature before putting them into the bread machine pan.  She strongly suggests baking with room temperature ingredients and encourages it for this recipe specifically.  Finally, she advises careful measuring of liquid and dry ingredients.

She goes on to discuss her baking rules and advice that she would give to bakers everywhere, whether they be new to baking or more seasoned.  Adamek advocates for reading and re-reading the recipe as they prepare to bake, as well as while they are in the baking process.  She also encourages double-checking measurements, as it is easy to make errors.  Overall precision is a theme that Adamek holds of very high importance, and she wants to urge others to see the value in this as well.

When thinking about why this roll recipe is qualified for this category and deserving of its title, Adamek’s mind goes to the combination of ingredients in her recipe.  She mentions her thoughtful and intentional flavor profile for this recipe and the texture that is created from the diverse ingredients included in this delicious roll recipe.  She reports that her biggest inspiration for baking is Dominique Ansel, a world-renowned pastry chef, who has inspired her for the past 10 years to be more creative and continue refining her baking skills and techniques.


Written by Jenna Fiscus, communications intern