BAKING THROUGH THE BLOGOSPHERE

And now for something completely different. I will share a few recipes straight from blogs I follow. You can click on the link to the original blog posts to get the recipes that perk your interest…

PERUVIAN ALFAJORES
(from Carlos’ blog)

Delicious cookies, filled with dulce de leche, which reminds me so much of my childhood!  My Mom used to pressure cook cans of condensed milk, open them to reveal the luscious caramel inside, and I would enjoy it by spoonfuls. I was such a picky eater, I suppose having that around would make sure I got enough calories to survive.  Carlos offers THE authentic version for these famous cookies. They are delicate, elegant, and incredibly tasty.

HELEN’S BROWNIES
(from Bakers Anonymous)

These are just amazing brownies. A huge hit of chocolate, perfect texture, got rave reviews from the resident brownie critic, who has been very VERY hard to please in the brownie department. His favorite version takes toasted pecans in the mix (follow Helen’s recipe and add 3/4 cup toasted pecans in the final mixing).

CHOCOLATE-SWIRLED BANANA BREAD
(from Jamlab)

This takes your regular banana bread and dresses it up for party… I find that people are usually divided into two groups when it comes to banana bread. Those purists who want a plain, banana-only taste in their loaf, and those who don’t mind bells and whistles. Obviously, this version is dedicated for those in the latter group. Don’t be stingy with the chocolate chips on top. They add a lot, and look super cute.

ALMOND TEA CAKES
(from Saving Room for Dessert)

A lot of fun to make, these are egg-free little cakes in bite-size format, deliciously addictive. You can add any kind of jam to their centers. I used boysenberry jam. Other than that, I followed the recipe from Tricia’s blog to a T. They turn out quite elegant also, I visualize them in a tea party next to Peruvian Alfajores. What a nice couple!

LOVE BARS
(from Helen’s Pastries like a Pro)

These are quite unusual, and the looks do not do justice to their taste. Helen described them so well in her blog, that I could not wait to bake a batch. The base bakes at the same time as the topping, simplifying the preparation quite a bit.  If you are into gingerbread type dessert, you will go nuts for this one. Trust me.

DOUBLE CITRUS POPPY-SEED BREAKFAST CAKE
(from Joanne’s Eats Well with Others)


This was an OMG type of cake. I slightly modified her recipe by using a mixture of Meyer Lemon and Blood Oranges, juice and zest. The slices on top were Meyer Lemons, but the drizzle was a mixture of lemons and blood oranges, so in the end the red color spoke louder. It is a very moist and tender cake, intensely fragrant. A crowd-pleaser.

CHOCOLATE DONUTS
(from Dana’s Wake and Bake Mama)

Baked donuts made as festive as possible through the power of sprinkles. Dana’s recipe is quick to assemble, one-bowl-type-thing. Less things to wash, no need to get the KitchenAid out to play. Granted, maybe I used a bit of a heavy hand with the sprinkles, but they make me happy.

 

TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD
(from Tanya’s Global Bakes)

Last December I went on a compulsive shortbread cookie adventure, and tried several recipes, including one super convoluted from America’s Test Kitchen, in which every single utensil of my kitchen was involved. Tanya’s version won my heart, apart from going a bit over the top with the decoration, I stayed true to her recipe. Two thumbs all the way up for it.

That’s the end of my walk through the blogosphere… all these bakes ended up as part of the Common Table meals, something that has kept me busy and “sane” through these odd times we are going through. Baking is a huge therapy for me, and I know I’m not alone, many of my baking friends feel the same way.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chickpea Burgers, Vegan and Delicious

TWO YEARS AGO: Macarons with Ganache Noisette

THREE YEARS AGO: Quiche with Asparagus and Fennel

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fakebouleh

FIVE YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

NINE YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

BANANA BREAD WITH ESPRESSO GLAZE

There is no shortage of banana bread recipes in the universe. So, why would I share one more? Because it’s a great version, the icing takes it to unprecedented levels of deliciousness. The idea of pairing banana bread with coffee is superb, if you’ve never considered it, trust me, it has potential to become a classic. Like chocolate and coffee. I spotted this recipe back in January on the blog How Sweet It Is, hosted by Jessica. I made it not too long after her post was published, but as usual it is taking me a while to share with you. Two details make it special, a delicate layer of sugar sprinkled on top before baking, and of course, the glaze in all its caffeinated glory.

BANANA BREAD WITH ESPRESSO GLAZE
(from How Sweet It Is)

for the bread:
1 + 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
coarse sugar, for sprinkling (I used turbinad0)

for the espresso glaze:
1 + 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 ounces freshly brewed espresso
1 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk well the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Add the milk and coconut oil, mixing until combined. Stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour batter in the greased loaf pan. Top with coarse sugar.

Bake for 75 to 85 minutes, or until the center is set. If the streusel begins to brown, tent the bread with aluminum foil. Remove the bread and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn the bread out on a plate or cutting board and let it cool completely before glazing.

Whisk together the ingredients until a smooth, drippy glaze forms. If the mixture is too thin, you can thicken it by adding a little more powdered sugar. If it seems too thick, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time, whisking to combine. Pour it over the banana bread and let it set for at least 30 minutes before slicing it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The glaze… the glaze…  as Jessica wrote in her post, it’s all about the glaze. Or almost, because the banana bread itself is pretty delicious too, with the added sugary topping, which oddly enough does not make it overly sweet. But the glaze… am I repeating myself? The glaze, you must collect what puddles underneath the rack as you ice this beauty. Collect it, save it in a little bowl. No need to offer to guests, it won’t be fancy enough for that. Just keep it in the fridge, and when no one is looking, you go there with a tiny little spoon and scrape a little bit off. Then savor it, eyes closed. Seriously good stuff.

As usual, I took this batch to the department, and even a person who is not at all fond of coffee stopped to make enthusiastic compliments about the bread. Or cake. I am always confused, banana bread looks a lot more like cake in loaf form than bread. But, I won’t disturb the apple cart. Or banana cart. Or any cart, for that matter.

Make this bread, make this glaze, and go thank Jessica for it! 

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-Cooker Carnitas & Paleo Planet Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: The Making of a Nobel Reception

THREE YEARS AGO: Fennel Soup with Almonds and Mint 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: Farfalle with Zucchini and Ricotta

SIX YEARS AGO: Slow-baked Salmon with Lemon and Thyme

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Hoisin Explosion Chicken

 

 

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BANANA BREAD

I’ve been on a banana bread kick lately, trying some recipes that appeal to me because they have some unexpected twist, some intriguing component. Like this one that pairs a regular, well-behaved banana bread formula with toffee and chocolate. Banana, toffee, and chocolate. A trilogy not to be messed with. I found the recipe during a session of Pinterest surfing, saved it to my cooking board  and now that it’s been tried and thoroughly enjoyed, I share it with you!  Am I nice or am I nice? You decide.

BananaToffeeBread

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BANANA BREAD
(recipe from The Weary Chef)

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray  a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas. Stir in eggs, oil, and brown sugar until smooth.

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in toffee and chocolate chips until mixed in evenly.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 45-55 minutes, checking at 45 minutes. Bread is done when edges are brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Carefully remove loaf from pan to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

BananaBread Served

Comments:  I think that nothing perfumes the kitchen more intensely than a banana bread baking in the oven. They say that to increase the chances of selling a home, one should bake cinnamon rolls or an apple pie right before showing it, but I suspect that banana bread would work even better. The smell is intoxicatingly delicious…

The original recipe from Andi’s site called for chocolate covered toffee bars chopped in pieces, but I went with a 50:50 mixture of butterscotch and chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s.  The butterscotch chips were barely noticeable in the crumb of the banana bread, but their flavor… definitely there.  This was a very moist and tender banana loaf, well-received by our colleagues from the department.   I am sure it will please all the banana bread lovers out there, so give it a try, even if your house is not in the market…

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

TWO YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

THREE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FOUR YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

FIVE YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

BLUEBERRY-BANANA BREAD

Back when my site was a young baby, I blogged about one of the greatest classics in American cooking, the banana bread. I had no idea that a few months down the line, that recipe would be part of a fun quest to find the world’s best banana bread, and what’s even more amazing, it tied for first place! To me, that matter was solved. No need to even bother trying another recipe. Then, on a quiet Saturday morning, while checking FoodTV episodes taped during the previous week, I saw Giada cheerfully making a blueberry banana loaf. Blueberries and bananas, baked together until the blueberries get all soft and intensely sweet… I decided that my blog can handle a second take on a classic, especially one with a purple twist! 😉

readyBLUEBERRY-BANANA BREAD
(from Giada de Laurentiis)
.
Butter, for greasing the loaf pan
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the loaf pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup of mashed banana)
1 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh blueberries
.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in the bananas and blueberries. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours.
.
ENJOY!
.
to print the recipe, click here
.

slicerow2.
Comments
:  I decided to make this loaf around 9pm on a Monday night.  It was a dark and stormy night… ooops, no, that’s the beginning of a bad novel…   It was actually a nice and warm summer night, but one in which I had to be in the lab at midnight to get some bacteria growing for an experiment early next day.   I wanted to make sure I would  not fall asleep in the middle of a Law and Order episode, and baking definitely gets my adrenaline going.  Side benefit?  Taking banana bread to the department, to make the life of the early birds a little sweeter…    😉
.

closeup2
This banana bread (or cake, or loaf, whatever you want to call it) is a breeze to make! I followed Giada’s advice and did not even use the electric mixer, was left with only a whisk plus two bowls to clean.  Awesome!

ONE YEAR AGO: Busy Times (one year since we moved our lab to KSU!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Oriental-Style Turkey Patties

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough English Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

BANANA BREAD

I realize  the world has no shortage of banana bread recipes, as a quick google produces 5,580,000 hits!   You’ll find all shapes and styles: moist, classic, healthy, vegan, gluten-free, low-calorie (!?!?), with nuts, chocolate chips, blueberries, cinnamon, with sour cream or pumpkin…. if you dream it, chances are someone already made it and spread the word about it. Once I hit “publish”, you’ll have at least 5,580,001 options!   I am sure you will sleep better tonigt… 😉

This recipe comes from cookbook author extraordinaire (and very dear net-friend), Glenys Morgan, and makes a moist, very pure, dense but not heavy, banana bread. She doesn’t recommend using this recipe to bake muffins, so stick to a regular loaf pan.

GLENY’S BEST BANANA BREAD
(from Glenys Morgan)

1 cup mashed bananas (2 large or 3 medium, very ripe bananas)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 + 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla or dark rum (optional)

Heat the oven to 375F.

Mash or purée the bananas and buttermilk until smooth. Add the baking soda and mix.
Cream the brown sugar and butter together until smooth. Beat in the egg. Add the banana purée and combine. The mixture will seem curdle.

Add the baking powder to the flour, mix well. Gradually add it to the banana mixture. Stir just enough to combine evenly.   Add the vanilla or rum.

Pour into sprayed or greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan, filling the pan to 2/3 full of its capacity. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out. Do not leave in the pan as the loaves sweat and become soggy.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The most important thing in this recipe is to use very ripe bananas, those that are black, soft, begging to be put out of their misery.  Usually I peel them, mash lightly and stick in a zip-lock bag (writing on the bag how many bananas are inside).   You can also freeze the bananas whole, but sometimes they can be tricky to peel.  Some people like nuts and other bells and whistles in their banana bread, I am more of a purist, and find this recipe absolutely perfect.  Our graduate students seemed to agree, as the loaf was gone in minutes!   😉

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