Easy Banana Bread {Lightened Up}

April 5, 2011

As many of my readers probably know by now, I really love quick breads and eat them almost everyday (on the days that I don’t eat them, I get really grouchy). A few of my friends have asked me whether I have tried to make my banana bread lighter.  And the answer is yes, of course I have! I honestly don’t recall where the source of this recipe was, I have had this for over 15-years, but it is a lighter version of this Easy Banana Bread recipe that I posted earlier this year.

Of all of the other quick breads that I have made, this is the only version that I must say transformed beautifully into a “lighter” bread without losing its beautiful flavor and texture.  I substitute half of the butter with unsweetened apple sauce, use white wheat flour, omit the walnuts, and add a little bit more of mashed bananas into the mixture. Finally, I add a couple of tablespoons of dark chocolate chip morsels because dark chocolate has been said to be healthy! But feel free to omit those. The key here is to make sure that the bananas are very ripe; to ensure that they are tender and have excreted all of that sweet goodness. With this lighter version, I think I can have an extra slice! By the way, I’m absolutely in love with this cinnamon pecan streussel, so I added some for topping–and they were divine. Happy baking! 🙂

Source: Blissfully Delicious original

Ingredients
1-3/4 cups white wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter/margarine, softened
1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cup mashed ripened bananas (make sure that the banana skin is almost black)
2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chip

Directions

Blend in everything, bake at 350 degree for an hour in a 10×4 pan or, in 2 loaves of 8×3.

Yield: 8 servings per loaf.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

March 26, 2011

I have to admit that I am a huge sucker for baked goods with sour cream in it. I think sour cream adds that creaminess and a tang flavor that contrasts nicely the sweetness of any sugary treats. This recipe was especially attractive for me since it makes 2 rounds of cakes; and freezes well for future use. I love being able to pull out a dish like this on a weekend when I am tight on time but I still would love the goodness of something fresh out of the oven. This cake was really delightful with its delicate crumbs and covered in crispy and crunchy streusel topping. I am even more impressed that it still retains all of its winning features after stored in the freezer. Happy Baking!

Adapted from The Best of American Test Kitchen 2008

Ingredients
Cake
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-3/4 cups sour cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Streusel
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans, almonds, or walnuts, chopped

Directions

For the Streusel

Mix everything, except the nuts, into a small bowl. Crumble the ingredients using your fingers to resemble coarse meal. Add nuts, stir, and set aside.

For the Cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Lightly oil 2 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable spray and set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk sour cream, sugars, eggs, and melted butter together. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the dry flour ingredient in the large bowl until smooth (do not overmix).

Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans, and smooth top with rubber spatula. Divide the streusel into two, and sprinkle each half on top of each cake.

Bake until tops are golden or, a knife or a tooth pick inserted into the centers comes out with just a few crumbs attached, around 25-30 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

If you choose to freeze one for later use, wrap pan tightly with saran wrap after sprinkling with streusel. It can be refrigerated up to 24 hours or frozen up to 1 month. Do not thaw frozen cake before thawing. Bake as directed, increasing the baking time to 30-35 minutes for refrigerated, or 40-45 for frozen.

Yield: 2-cakes, 6 pieces each



Best Buttermilk Pancakes

March 4, 2011

Red and I love leisurely breakfast on the weekend… so much that sometimes we have a couple courses of breakfast meals. Usually, since I am not too patient with waiting 30 minutes or an hour until something is ready (depending on what I will make); I will start off with a cup of coffee or orange juice and a tiny slice of this super duper Easy Banana Bread, that I may bake a few days prior to the weekends. And then I will start baking or making my second breakfast course. Pancakes are definitely one of my favorite meals, breakfast or dinners. I love these sweet and tangy Banana Sour Cream Pancakes; but I needed to use up my buttermilk in the refrigerator – and I happened to have a pint of blueberries and no ripe bananas.

These pancakes were hands down “out of these world”. Red was like, “Why haven’t we tried these sooner?” I shook my head in agreement. They were fluffy and light, not too sweet, pretty much “melt in your mouth”. They are in the little bit flat, so if you’re looking for “cakey” pancakes – these are not for you. I didn’t change a thing about this recipe. I think they’re almost a cross between the “cakey” pancakes and crepes, but they were to die for. Definitely a big favorite at our house, and I will be making these again soon! I added blueberries to mine; and I am sure that they will be fantastic with other add-ins as well, like dried cranberries or other fruits, chocolate chips… the possibilities are endless! Happy eating!

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle

Directions

Heat griddle to 375 degrees if you use electric; or regular pan on the stove. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add all liquid ingredients; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps. Do not over-mix – and leave those lumps alone. Don’t try to mix them into the batter.

Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter onto pan or griddle. Wipe off excess with a paper towel.

Heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute. They will spread, make sure that you don’t over-crowd the griddle/pan.

Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.

Yield: 9 6-inch pancakes


Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Pecan Streussel

February 17, 2011

I know, I know.  This is not the season for the great pumpkins. But… let me tell you a little secret, I am addicted to quick bread! I seriously don’t know what I would do without them. I have to have a slice of some sort of quick bread everyday for breakfast, therefore I usually bake some sort of bread every weekend.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite variations, which I adapted from my go to quick bread recipe, which can easily make this pumpkin variation, or this Cranberry Orange Bread. I usually keep a stock of canned pumpkin in my pantry so I can enjoy this all year long. What I have done a little bit different this time was that I had a little bit of streussel leftover from making this yummy Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins, so I used that on top–and oh wow, I realized what I had been missing all of these times!  It really added some fun twist to my regular ol’ pumpkin bread. Happy Baking!!

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook

Ingredients
8 oz of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs
1/3 cups of flavorless oil
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour (or, white wheat flour–but remember that the texture would be slightly firmer)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease bottom of 8-1/2 X 4-1/2 X 2-1/2 inches pan. Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, do not over-mix.

Bake for 50-60 min (I would start checking at 40 min to make sure that it is not over-baked). It is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Yield: 1 8×3-inch loaf


Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

February 9, 2011

I loooove everything with cinnamon. There is something so homey and cozy about the smell of cinnamon. It reminds me a little bit of Christmas, homemade goodies, and just spending some quality time with my family in the kitchen. I saw the recipe last year and kept on hoping that I would have the opportunity to find cinnamon chips from my local grocery stores. But no luck; and I refuse to buy one single bag of cinnamon chips online (we’ll see how long this last!). So I went ahead and tried this recipe using butterscotch chips (because I love those as well!) since I can find those. I made several substitutions as you will see reflected in the recipe below.

A few things that I learned from this recipe: I opted the liner instead of putting the batter directly in to the muffin tins–and had some issue with some spillage of the filling. Next time, I would definitely spray the tins and put paper liners to avoid some sticky messiness on the muffins and everywhere else.  I also used the standard size muffin tins and ended up with 15 muffins instead of 12 as the recipe suggested (if I insisted on 12, the batter would have been everywhere). I had leftover filling and topping, although trust me  — I really  tried to pile them on without making too much of a mess, which was somewhat successful. Other than the messy fingers which is a bit convenience for office eating, I thought it was excellent recipe. I really loved the flavor and enjoyed the butterscotch variation, although I would have loved to taste the heightened cinnamon flavor from the chips (therefore, I will continue to be in the lookout for those cinnamon chips!). I skipped the glaze–I really didn’t think that it needed it. On a final note, because I substituted all purpose flour for white wheat flour, my muffins were a bit on the dense side. I overcame this by warming them up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds–and they were back to their heavenly out of the oven goodness.  They took a little bit of time to prepare; but they were worth the time. These would be a great treat for cinnamon lovers! Happy Baking!
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Topping
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup diced pecans
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I used white wheat flour)
3 tablespoons soft butter

Filling
3 to 4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1- 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Batter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cinnamon chips or butterscotch chips (I used butterscotch chips)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers, or grease it lightly.

Prepare the topping by mixing the ingredients together until crumbly. Set aside.

Prepare the filling by mixing the Baker’s Cinnamon Filling with enough water to make filling with a soft, pudding-like consistency. Set it aside.

To make the batter:

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the chips. Add the dry mixture to the liquid, stirring just until combined.

Divide half the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Dollop 2 teaspoons cinnamon filling onto each muffin, then top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with topping, pressing it in lightly.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 minutes before transferring them from the pan to a rack to cool.

Yield: 12 muffins


Banana Stuffed French Toast

January 22, 2011

As soon as I  saw this recipe printed on a recent Williams Sonoma catalog, I knew that I had to make these. I love having bananas for breakfast; and love them in all of my baked goods.  I don’t normally make French Toast at home not because I don’t love them-but because I don’t have access to places that sells breads that would make wonderful French Toast. This was a great excuse for me to make Challah; which I had been putting off for a very long time. While this recipe calls for a specialized panini maker; I think they be as wonderful as well on a regular griddle; you just need to flip them to ensure that both sides get browned. I really loved how the caramelized bananas inside the gorgeous challah slices really added sweetness and interesting contrast of texture to the crispy bread. I think having the right kind of bread is very critical in this recipe. If you are looking for something special to make; this may be one to try. Next time, I would also double the amount of caramelized bananas and used them as topping as well.  Happy eating!

In case you’re looking for more breakfast recipes that uses this power fruit; check out the following recipes:

Banana Bread, Easy
Banana Bread, Flour Bakery Famous
Banana Bread, Kona Inn
Banana Crunch Muffins
Banana Pecan Muffins

Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio via Williams Sonoma

Ingredients
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. water
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1-lb. loaf day-old challah, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick
2 cups milk
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. granulated honey ( I used 1/4 tsp of regular honey–not sure if this was the correct amount)
Seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean

Directions
In large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar and the water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting three-fourths of the way. Stuff the pockets with the banana mixture, dividing evenly.

Preheat an electric panini maker to “panini” mode. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, granulated honey, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and blend with an immersion blender. Pour into a baking dish. Soak half of the bread slices for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place the bread on the panini maker and cook, adjusting the top plate so it lightly presses the bread, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices. Serve the French toast with maple syrup and your favorite toppings.

Yield 6.


Now or Later Cinnamon Buns

December 24, 2010

I wanted to post this recipe just in case you haven’t decided yet on what to serve on Christmas morning. Every time I browse through the King Arthur’s website, I have the sudden urge to bake something with yeast. Yes, it is crazy right? Then I ran into this recipe that promises that I can actually prepare these buns ahead of time, and then just pop them in the morning just before breakfast instead of starting the dough at 3 in the morning (yawn!).  I think we’re all always in the lookout for something special that we can deliver on the table for those special mornings , so I was hooked right away. I didn’t improvise with the recipe and I was really glad that I left it alone.  They have the flavor of good old fashioned yeast buns filled with cinnamon, slathered in icing. It really doesn’t get better than that! I hope you will give this recipe a try, if not today, maybe some other days for that special morning with your loved ones. Wishing you and your family a very special Christmas and a happy New Year.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
Dough
3 1/2 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons soft or room-temperature butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk

Filling
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Topping
2 tablespoons melted butter

Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons cream or 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Directions
Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl, and mix and knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased container — an 8-cup measure works well here — and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s just about doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

Roll the dough into a 20″ long rectangle, about 12″ wide. This soft dough rolls easily, so you shouldn’t have much trouble with shrinking or “push back.”

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cinnamon over the surface of the dough. A small sieve or tea strainer works well here.

Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a 24″ log; it’ll naturally stretch from its original 20″ to about 24″ as you roll. In order to make the neatest job of cutting out the buns, use a sharp knife to mark the log at 1 1/2″ intervals.

Slice the dough into 1 1/2″-thick buns. The neatest way to do this, by far, is by looping a piece of dental floss underneath the dough where you want to cut it, then pulling the ends in opposite directions. The floss will cut the dough neatly, without squashing it.

Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Divide the buns between the two pans, spacing 8 in each pan.

Cover the pans, and allow the buns to rise till they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the buns, and bake them for 20 to 23 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it.

To serve buns now: Just before the buns are done, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, and cream or milk to make the glaze. Turn the hot buns out of the pan onto a rack, and brush with the melted butter. Spread with the glaze, and serve immediately.

To serve buns later: Turn the hot buns out of the pan onto a rack, and brush with the melted butter. Cool completely. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature for a couple of days; for longer storage, freeze. Just before serving, tent the buns lightly with foil, and rewarm in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes (a bit longer, for frozen buns). Stir together the glaze, brush over the buns, and serve warm.

Yield: 16 glazed cinnamon buns.