Category Archives: Bread

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Dark+Chocolate+Chocolate+Chip+Banana+Bread

This bread is not for the faint of heart.  It is rich, dense, and velvety to the extreme.  I had a few ripe bananas sitting on my counter and since I’m not one to waste good food, an immediate baking need was obviously in order.   It just so happened that I also had a chocolate craving (when do I not) so after a little plinking around my Pinterest board, I found a recipe from Joy the Baker that satisfied both needs.  Never one to leave well enough alone, a little modifying was performed and the resulting bread is just short of chocolate heaven.

I’m going on record to say this recipe is healthy as well.  It has a few of the major food groups (fruit, grain, dairy) and is made with dark chocolate.  Antioxidants people!!  I’m fairly sure it cancels out the calories.


Dark Chocolate Banana Bread
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick (8 Tbs) unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas, mashed (approximately 1 cup)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 deg.

2.  Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or stack two regular sheets together.

3.  Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

4.  Beat the butter at medium speed until soft, about a minute.  Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each.

5.  Reduce the mixer to low speed and mix in the bananas.  Add the dry ingredients in three batches, only mixing long enough to incorporate it into the batter.  Add the heavy cream and mix until incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips and scrap batter into prepared pan.

6.  Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with foil and continue to bake for another 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack for 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding it onto a second rack.  Let cool to room temp before slicing.

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Cinnamon Sugar Pullapart Bread

Cinnamon+Sugar+Pullapart+Bread_edited-1

Isn’t this a thing of beauty? Tender gooey flakes of cinnamon and sugar deliciousness draped in a sweet vanilla glaze.

When various versions of this bread started to pop up around the blogospher, I bookmarked one (yes I know bookmarking is old school but this was before I discovered Pintrest), noting to myself to make it soon. A few months later I was planning out the dessert to make for a girls night and I came across the recipe again and knew it would be perfect.

We ate it fresh out of the oven with a glass of sweet dessert wine while watching cheesy romantic comedies. Perfect.


Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

The Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) rapid rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
The Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted until browned
1/4 tsp salt
The Glaze:
 1/8 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

1.  In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  In a separate small bowl, whisk the eggs.

2.  In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.

3.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.   Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky.

4.  Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5.  While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt for the filling.

6.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.

7.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

8.  Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 12 x 20 inch rectangle.

9.  Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

10.  Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

11.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

12.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up. 

13.  Whisk together milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Drizzle over the bread with artistic swirly flourishes.

Due to the layers being exposed to the air, this bread is best the same day.

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Cheater Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon+Rolls
These came to me in a dream.  Literally.  I was dreaming that I was working in an office with Dwight and Jim from The Office. (I had just watched the latest episode) Dwight was running around trying to run the office like a crazy guy and Jim was trying to keep everything calm.  (I think I have seen the show too many times)  Dwight asked me to make something for the staff to eat so I went into the kitchen area and found a can of crescent rolls, butter, sugar and cinnamon.  “I know!”, I thought.  “I’ll make up some quick cinnamon rolls!”  Then I woke up to my daughter calling my name as (heaven forbid) it was 6:30am and she wasn’t up eating breakfast yet.
When I came downstairs and opened the fridge I saw that I had everything I needed to make what I thought up in my dream.  And they were every bit as easy and good as I thought they would be.  Start to finish, including baking, these took me 15 minutes.

To be fair, most likely I have seen these somewhere on the internet and buried them deep in my subconscious until my sleeping brain brought them to the forefront.  I had been trying to think of a use for the can of crescent rolls in my fridge.  Yay for brain power!

You don’t need to melt the butter, very soft butter will do.  I just didn’t want to wait for it to warm up as I didn’t have any already out.  I also used my staple Vanilla-Butternut extract from King Aurthur Flour instead of vanilla in the glaze.  It’s wonderful with cinnamon rolls but vanilla will work just fine as well.

Cheater Cinnamon Rolls

Rolls
1 can crescent rolls (qty 8 rolls)
2 Tbs butter, melted and slightly cooled
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Glaze
1/4 cup powedered sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp milk
1.  Heat the oven to 375F.
2.  Open the can of crescent rolls and separate them into individual triangles.
3. Brush the butter on each of the triangles.
4.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle an even amount onto each triangle.  You can put as much or as little on as you like depending on how cinnamony you like things.
5.  Roll up each triangle to form the crescents and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
6.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
7.  While the rolls are baking, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk together to make the glaze.

8.  Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes then drizzle with the glaze.  Serve to your family and friends, making sure to let them think it took you hours.

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Pecan Coffee Cake

Pecan+Coffee+Cake

This recipe comes from my hubby’s grandfather’s friend Vaughn.  She was visiting a few years ago and made this for us when we stopped by for dinner.  Once I ate it I knew I had to have the recipe.  I was especially pleased when I found out how darned easy it is to make.  It’s a dump dump dump mix bake recipe.  Have a box of cake mix in the pantry?  Have some pecan’s in a frost covered bag in the freezer?  Have some leftover sour cream languishing in the back of the fridge?  Done!  Love those!!  It’s sweet, cinnamony, pecany (is that a word?) and very moist.

Pecan Coffee Cake

1 box Duncan Hines Butter Cake Mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 heaping Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

2.  Mix all ingredients except brown sugar and cinnamon together.

3.  Pour half of the batter into a greased bundt pan.

4.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the batter.  Swirl gently with knife.

5.  Pour remaining batter on top of the mixture.

6.  Bake for 1 hour or until it is golden brown and slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan.

7.  Let cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a plate to cool completely.

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Mini Chile Corn Muffins with Chipotle Butter

Chile+Corn+Muffins-1
I guess I should have chosen a slightly less busy plate to show off these little savory muffins of yummyness.  I feel like it’s a Where’s Waldo picture with the muffins hiding in plain sight like that sneaky Waldo character.
The muffins themselves are really great.  Easy to make (dump and mix and bake) with all sorts of morsels of deliciousness hiding inside.  But paired with the Chipotle butter…. be still my heart.  Sweet and just enough heat to tingle the tongue but not have to enough to light a fire.
Try them, you’ll love them.
Mini Chile Corn Muffins with Chipotle Butter
slightly adapted from Sandra Lee
Muffins:
1 (14.5 oz) box of honey cornbread mix
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 (11 oz) can Mexi-corn
2 tsp fajita seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Butter:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs honey
1 tbs Chipotle Hot Sauce (I used Tabasco brand)
2 tbs Chipotle seasoning (I used McCormick)
To make the muffins:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray 2 (24-count) mini muffin pans.
2.  In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until blended.
3.  Spoon batter into mini-muffin tins, filing to the rim.
4.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
To make the butter:
1.  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until blended.

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Sweet Bread

Sweet+Dough

I’ve made a number of loaves of bread over the years and almost all of them involve the use of my gloriously handy Kitchen Aid Mixer.  I mean, really, why do all the kneading by hand when it can be done so quickly and easily with the mixer.  Can we say a “wohoo” for the dough hook?

Still, this weekend I was feeling just a bit Martha Stewartish and decided to try out a recipe for sweet bread that I had sitting in my huge pile of ‘recipes riped out of magazines/printed off of blogs’.  I have been drooling over this recipe for the past couple of years but have never been ambitious enough to do all that kneading.  Turns out, it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, it was a bit therapeutic.  Scoop, slap, stretch (take that ‘working mommy’ guilt).  Scoop, slap, stretch (take that ‘don’t have enough time for your horse’ guilt).  Scoop, slap, stretch (take that ‘the house is a mess’ guilt).  Not only did I have a mini therapy session but then got to eat a wonderfully tender, slightly sweet, flavorful bread a few hours later.  It went great with the Sun Dried Tomato Butter Nut Squash Soup for dinner.

The kneading directions can be a little confusing so I would recommend checking out the great video instructions on Gourmet.com for reference if needed.

 

Sweet Bread
from Gourmet.com

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (preferably Red Star or Saf; not rapid-rise)
  • 1 lb 2 oz bread flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp

1.  Heat milk to 120 to 130°F.

2.  Rub yeast into flour in a large bowl, then rub in butter. Stir in sugar and salt. Fold in milk and eggs with bowl scraper, rotating bowl, until liquid is absorbed and a wet, sticky dough forms. (Dough will be wetter than most you’ve encountered.) Scrape dough out onto an unfloured surface. (Dough will be a sticky mess. Don’t be tempted to add more flour. By working the dough through a process of repeatedly stretching and folding it over onto itself, trapping air, dough will become cohesive and supple.).

3.  Slide your fingers underneath both sides of dough with your thumbs on top. Lift dough up (to about chest level) with your thumbs toward you, letting dough hang slightly. In a continuous motion, flip dough over and swing it down, slapping onto surface, then stretch dough up and back over itself in an arc to trap in air. Repeat lifting, slapping, and stretching, scraping surface with flat side of bowl scraper as needed, until dough is supple, cohesive, and starts to bounce slightly off of surface without sticking, about 8 minutes.

4.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured clean surface. Form into a ball by folding each edge, in turn, into center of dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating ball as you go. Turn ball over and transfer to a lightly floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

5.  Gently release dough from bowl with scraper onto a lightly floured surface (do not punch down) and divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball with heel of your hand into a rectangle (about 8 by 6 inches). Fold a long edge into center and press seam down with heel of your hand. Fold opposite edge over to meet in center, pressing seam. Fold in half along seam, pressing edges to seal. Put, seam side down, on a lightly buttered large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
6.  Brush tops of loaves with egg (chill remainder) and let stand a few minutes until egg feels dry. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until almost doubled and feels springy when gently prodded, about 1 1/2 hours.

7.  Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.  Place a pizza stone on the rack while the oven is preheating, if you have one.

8.  Brush top of each loaf again with egg. Holding a pair of scissors at a 45-degree angle, make snips along top in a line down center of each loaf. Transfer to oven and immediately reduce temperature to 400°F.

9.  Bake until loaves are dark golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

 

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Pumpkin Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Pecans

IMG_7754_edited-1
I know these are delicious because Rose can’t pass any where near them without frantically signing ‘please, food, please, food’ and pointing with a slight look of panic on her face.  I don’t know if it’s the banana, the pumpkin, the pecans or the chocolate that puts the big grin on her face when she gets a piece of it in her hand but whatever it is, it keeps me in the kitchen making more.
Pumpkin Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 medium banana, chopped
Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
Gradually add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture, stirring just until everything is combined.  Fold in the pecans, chocolate chips and banana.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
adapted from Baking Bites

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Homemade Graham Crackers

IMG_7588_edited-1
Have you ever wanted to make homemade graham crackers?  If there is any required staple in a house with a 16 month old, it’s graham crackers.  They are the calm in the storm, the ear plugs in the rock concert, the mute button on the remote.  The person who invented these slices of goodness needs to be given a metal.
 
Rose loves them brand name, generic and in teddy form (these are perfect for car rides since they don’t leave as much crumage everywhere).  However, I don’t think she is going to want any of those any more after she tried the recipe for this homemade version.  They are that good.
 
Baking tip:  I divided the dough into three sections and wrapped them in plastic wrap.  I cooked one and froze the other two.  To bake, remove from the freezer and let defrost for an hour or so.
 
Graham Crackers
adapted from Raleys.com
 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs molasses
1/4 cup honey 
1/4 cup milk 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2½ cups flour 
1/2 cup wheat flour 
1 tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
 
1. Beat butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in molasses, honey, milk and extract until smooth.

2. Stir together dry ingredients and stir into batter
.
 
3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough 1/8-inch thick, half at a time, on a floured board. Cut into 2 to 3-inch squares and place on baking sheets.  Puncture with a fork a few times (for looks only).

5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

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Banana Crunch Muffins

Banana muffins
These muffins are sweet, crunchy, nutty, and bananay (is that a word?).  Our own resident monkey loved them and requested bites every time she wandered by.  It may have just been the adorable wrappers though.  They also freeze quite well and will stay fresh in the freezer for a few months.  If they last that long.  You can use any type of granola you want.  I used one with bits of dark chocolate.  Mmmmm.
I admit to loving pure white flour muffins with all their carbo loading capabilities but I decided to make these muffins more on the healthy side.  Less guilt that way when I eat four over the course of a day.
Banana Crunch Muffins
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 cup diced walnuts
1 cup granola (plus more for topping)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the melted butter and apple sauce and blend.
Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas.  Add them to the flour and butter mixture.  Blend but don’t over mix.
Fold in the walnuts and granola.  Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling to the top.  Top each muffins with a sprinkle of granola.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool slightly then remove from pan to cooling rack and cool completely.

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Fabulous Mall Style Pretzels

Homemade+Pretzel
I made soft pretzels the other day that were good.  Not wonderful, just good soft pretzels that tasted great dipped in mustard.  Then I made these.  They are fabulous.  Every bite reminds me of the pretzels that I smell and crave whenever I walk near the store in the mall.  Slightly sweet and wonderfully salty, they made my day.  Plus I made six of them for less than the price of one at the mall.  They are best eaten the same day although may be just fine if frozen.  Now to figure out how to duplicate the cheese sauce.
Fabulous Mall Style Pretzels
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt

Directions

1.  Warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave until it’s about 110 degrees; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes.

2.  Stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon.

3.  Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough.

4.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes.  This can also be done with a stand mixer.  Just mix on level 4 for about 5 minutes, adding flour as needed to get the right stickiness.  I ended up adding about a 1/2 cup.

5.  Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

6.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease or parchment a baking sheet.

7.  Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.

8.  Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish (I used an 8×8 pan). Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

9.  Let dry for a few minutes while you melt the remaining 4 Tbs of butter.  Brush the pretzels lightly with the butter. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

10.  Place pretzels on a wire rack and brush with any remaining butter.  Sprinkle with course salt.  I didn’t have any “pretzel salt” so I used kosher and it worked just fine.

 

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