Mini Banana Loaves

O & G Banana Bread

I wasn’t planning on posting these mini loaves. I made them on a whim last weekend, thinking they’d make a good snack to take to work. It turns out this is the greatest banana bread ever. Seriously.

I used the Olive & Gourmando recipe from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. I’ve had the book since Christmas and have been eyeing this recipe ever since. I hesitated to make it because it seemed a little too involved for banana bread. I mean, it’s supposed to be a “quick” bread, right?  Turns out the extra steps were totally worth it. Unlike a typical banana bread, where baking powder is added to dry ingredients, this recipe calls for adding baking soda to sour cream before mixing it into the batter. On top of this unusual step, the recipe also called for microwaving the bananas to extract the juices and then reduce the juice by half. I don’t have a microwave so I heated the bananas over a double boiler, which worked very well.

The flavour was rich, the texture light and moist at the same time. Even days later these mini loaves tasted incredible. So I snapped a quick to prove to you that although this banana bread must be tried.

O & G’s Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup sour cream (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsalted  butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease  8 mini loaf molds, set aside.
  2. Mix the sour cream and the baking soda together, set aside. 
  3. Over a double boiler, gently heat the banana for 5 minutes. Place the bananas in a fine mesh sieve and strain out the juices, you should get 1/4 to 1/2 cup of juice. In a small sauce pan  over medium reduce the juice by half, then return the juice to the banana and mash the bananas (don’t puree). 
  4. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Stir in the bananas with a spatula, then the sour cream mixture. 
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, spices and salt together. Fold the flour into the banana/butter mixture. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf molds. Bake for 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the molds for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. 
Enjoy! 

Apple Cinnamon Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

When tragedy strikes we feel the need to do something, anything, to make it better. Sometimes there are no actions that can be taken. All we can do is be there to comfort each other. The only thing that can make things better is time.

Comfort can come in many forms; kind words, a hug, or even a cookie (or two) with a tall glass of milk. These cookies were adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin cookies. I substituted unsweetened apple sauce for the pumpkin puree. Since apple sauce is much thinner than pumpkin puree, I strained the sauce with a coffee filter to get a thicker consistency. You could also try cooking the sauce down.

The cookies have a very cake like texture. The apple flavour came through very well, and was wonderfully complemented by the brown butter icing. One note on the icing, make sure to whip it well otherwise the butter will separate.

Apple Cinnamon Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Makes approx. 48 cookies

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce, strained
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes with an electric mixer). Mix in the eggs, followed by the apple sauce, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Add the flour, mixing till well combined. The batter will be quite thin.
  4. Spoon the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making cookies approximately 1 inch rounds, spaced 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops spring back when pressed. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Brown Butter Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Put the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the butter becomes golden brown and smells nutty. Pour the melted butter over the powdered sugar, making sure to scrape the brown butter bits in as well. Add the evaporated milk and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Use to ice cooled cookies.

Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins


Last weekend I made my annual journey to St-Joseph-du-Lac, one of the apple picking hot spots in Quebec. The weather was incredible, close to 30 C with the humidity and sunny. Not at all the typical apple picking weather I was expecting. Normally the air up north is cool and crisp at this time of year, instead it was hot and sticky.

There were tons of people out there. We even got stuck in apple picking traffic, who knew there was even such a thing? The traffic was frustrating, but we eventually made it out into the orchard.  We repeated last years taste test, and once again decided the Cortland was the way to go. Cortlands were originally bred from McIntosh, but they are firmer and sweeter. They’ll hold their shape in a pie, but you can also make a sauce out of them.

We got our hands on a good ladder and claimed a Cortland tree, then picked 20 lbs for each of us. Hopefully that’ll be enough for all the things I have planned!

When of my favourite things about apple picking is the cider doughnuts. Unfortunately, this years doughnuts were sub par, too greasy, not enough cinnamon sugar. I left the orchard craving  something more, something better. The solution was to make them myself,  but my deep frying experience has yielded mixed results and I didn’t want another disappointment. Instead I decided to make doughnut muffins with an apple cinnamon filling. The nutmeg in the batter and the cinnamon sugar coating completely satisfied my craving. They really do have the texture of a cake doughnut. The fact that they’re dipped in butter probably helps too.

Though these tasted amazing, I have to say that some of them fell apart when I took then out of muffin tin. I think it was my fault for letting the apple filling spread too much in the muffin, it basically created a complete separation between the layers of batter so the muffin top just came off. If you’re going to fill the muffins like I did make sure to make a little well in the batter for the filling.

Another thing you should know is that they are huge muffins. I adapted this from a Fine Cooking recipe, many of the commenters said they made these in mini muffin tins which I think is a great idea if you’re not using a filling.

Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins

(makes 12 muffins)

Filling

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 apples, peeled cored and diced
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp flour
Doughnut Muffins
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Make the filling: In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook stirring often until the apples are tender and release their juices. Add the flour and stir until the juices thicken. Take off the heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. Make the muffin batter: In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time beating till well combined after each addition. Add the vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together. Add the flour into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and yogurt (you should start and finish with the flour).
  5. Grease a muffin tin. Scoop half the batter into the muffin tin, make a little well in each muffin and fill each with a tablespoon of the apple filling. Top with the remaining batter.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Let cool completely.
  7. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping. Dip the tops of the muffins into the melted butter then dip them into the sugar to coat.
Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I had an incredible headache Thursday morning when I woke up. The kind that makes me want to lie perfectly still because any movement feels like an explosion in my brain. I stayed home from work and just lay in my bed for a few hours. It hurt too much to sleep or read, and the light from my computer or TV just intensified the pain. I let my mind just wander, if I wasn’t in pain it would have been kind of fun.

Eventually the pain lessened so I got up and started to work from home. Unfortunately my remote access wasn’t working. All of the emails in my inbox were from 2009, nothing I sent went through, and I had no access to any of the network drives. Oh well, I tried.

So what’s a girl to do on a Thursday afternoon when the rest of the world is hard at work? Make muffins of course.

These chocolate banana muffins are an attempt at eating healthy. Sort of. They’ve got whole wheat flour and no refined sugar. I probably could have cut back a little on the butter, but I figured I’d go one step at time, you know?


Chocolate Banana Muffins

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, egg, butter, and milk together.
  4. Create a well in the dry ingredients, pour the wet into the well, then stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in the cinnamon chips.
  6. Pour batter into the lined muffin tin, about 3/4 full. Bake for 27-32 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely (if you can wait that long)

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas! Have Some Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Happy Holidays!

Christmas morning in my parents house is the same every year. We wake up, head to the living, open presents, then have breakfast. What we eat for breakfast is a tradition too. There’s a selection of Polish sausages, ham and other cold cuts, pate, rye bread and Babka. The meal isn’t fancy, but it says Christmas to me.

This year, since the Daring Bakers challenged us to make Stollen, we replaced the babka with it. Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread, made with dried fruit. Penny added a twist to the challenge by asking us to make it in the shape of a wreath.

I actually made the recipe 3 times. The first time was a test run; I halved the recipe and baked it in a loaf pan. Unfortunately I took the bread out of the oven too soon, so the middle was not cooked through. The ends tasted wonderful though.

The second time I made it for an office brunch. Once again I used half the recipe, and I replaced the dried fruits with chocolate chunks, cinnamon chips, and cranberries. I shaped it like the Premiere Moisson Chocolate Cranberry Christmas bread, several balls of dough placed in a round pan. It was beautiful, and my coworkers seemed to love it. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures.

On Christmas Eve I baked it for the third time. Part of the joy of Christmas morning is slathering butter on a slice of babka, so I decided to split the recipe in half, part of it became a wreath and the rest was baked in a bundt pan so that we could cut off nice slices. I used the chocolate cranberry mix for the wreath, and the traditional dried fruits for the bundt.

Both turned out great. I’m glad I took the time to do the test runs, they gave me a chance to figure out how the dough rises and bakes. The recipe calls for an overnight rise in the fridge, however I also tried just letting it rise in a warm draft free space for two hours. Both ways worked well, and the taste was identical. Thanks for a great challenge, Penny!

Stollen

(makes two loaves)

  • ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  • 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups dried fruits that have been soaked in rum or orange juice (I used cranberries, apricots and blueberries) OR 1 cup cinnamon chips, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries.
  1. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
  4. In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
  5. Then stir in (or mix on low-speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the dried fruit and knead for 8 minutes (6 if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook). If using the chocolate cranberry filling, start kneading with just the chocolate and cinnamon chips, then add the cranberries towards the end being very careful so that the dough doesn’t turn pink.
  7. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm dry place for two hours, or in the fridge overnight.
  8. Punch the dough down and form into your desired shape. Let rise for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350. The time to bake the dough will depend on the shape chosen. Using half the dough, the wreath took 35 minutes in my oven, and the bundt took 50 minutes.

Enjoy!