Baking

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Bread

Baking options have been slim lately because my kitchen stock is nearly depleted. I’ve now used up the last of my all purpose flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, powdered sugar, dark cocoa powder, and probably some other ingredients I can’t remember at the moment. I was actually down to my last half a stick of butter, but I broke down and bought some more on my way home from work last night. I’m sorry, but a kitchen without butter is not a kitchen I want to be in.

The last time I went grocery shopping, I thought I was in the mood for bananas, but as it turns out, I wasn’t. Which is how I still had 4 bananas left a week and a half later. Banana bread it is! It took some searching to find a recipe that worked with the supplies I had on hand, but I think I found a good one. It turns out I didn’t even need the butter I bought, so I can keep it for another recipe in the future.

I’m surprised that a recipe that only called for a tablespoon of oil (I used butter because I didn’t have any oil) tasted so good. I’m used to banana breads needing a stick or more, so this one from All Recipes was a nice change. I made a few alterations, so here is my version of the recipe.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Bread

(Yields 1 9×5 loaf pan)

Wet Ingredients

1/3 cup skim milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 large bananas

1 tablespoon melted butter

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

dash of cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Stir the skim milk and lemon juice together in a glass measuring cup; let stand until curdled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Mix in the mashed bananas, milk mixture, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
  5. Combine the whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  6. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until everything is combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  9. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
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Baking

Baked Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

Last year I was crazy busy beyond belief, and I can’t say that I’m sorry 2011 is over. This semester seems like it will be a bit calmer, but I have to say that I’m definitely going to miss interning at Little Simon. My time there was such an experience and I learned so much that I can actually apply to my future career. But, new year, new endeavors, new experiences. Bring it on!

Speaking of new things, I ordered a doughnut pan during winter break and broke it in this morning. I have been looking for the perfect recipe with which to christen this pan, and Lara Ferroni’s Baked Chocolate Doughnuts fit the bill perfectly. Everything came together very quickly and easily. I had to substitute milk and vinegar for the buttermilk, and I don’t think the final results suffered one bit. I also replaced the yogurt with my “buttermilk,” as I’m not sure if Greek yogurt would have worked properly in this recipe.

With these doughnuts, I finally did realize that it IS the nutmeg that MAKES the doughnut taste. I’m coming around to this particular spice, especially with this recipe.

I didn’t use my buttermilk substitute for the glaze, but I think it works with just plain old milk. I did add a bit more milk than I should have, so I didn’t get the thicker glaze/frosting that Lara’s had. It’s fine though. This one reminds me more of the Dunkin Donuts glaze.

When I next make chocolate doughnuts, I think I might use my brand new dark cocoa powder. I would like to have a chocolate-ier flavor, more akin to a chocolate cake/cupcake. I know that pretty much defeats the purpose of making doughnuts–I mean, why not just make cake–but I want to somehow replicate the DD’s chocolate glazed doughnuts. So good!

I think next week I’ll try a plain vanilla doughnut and jazz it up with a chocolate glaze. After that, the options are absolutely endless. Reese’s Cup Doughnuts, anyone?

Baking

Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Whenever I run low on groceries (ie real food with actual nutrients), I always manage to have just enough supplies left to bake something that goes against everything healthy I *should* eat. It might take a bit of searching and tweaking of recipes, but I always come up with something.

However, I’m now starting to run low on baking supplies.  Unbelievable right? I’m down to my last bit of flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. And I have absolutely NO MILK or chocolate. The current state of my cabinets really puts a kink in any baking desires I might have. But you know what doesn’t require much flour or any chocolate? Brownies!

I can never go wrong with my alterations to Best Cocoa Brownies from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. And who would say no to a cheesecake mixture swirled into them? Not me, that’s for sure. While the original recipe for the Cheesecake Brownies from Buns in my Oven was still amazing when I made them a couple months ago, this combination is truly a winner.

These brownies became infinitely fudgier overnight. When I first cut into them a couple hours after they came out of the oven, they seemed cakier than I wanted. However, after sitting for the night they transformed into brownie bliss. I wouldn’t say no to more of the cream cheese mixture (perhaps I’ll swirl less next time), but other wise I’m in love, and I think my friends will be too.

While I would love if I could survive on these, it might be a good idea to drag myself away from the pan long enough to go up to Trader Joe’s so I can get some real food.

Baking, Celtic Thunder

Chaos and Insanity

My first week of the semester wasn’t quite what I expected. For starters, I didn’t think it would only entail two days of classes. You have to hand it to Mother Nature for making my school close down on the day I have three classes. Kudos to her, but missing classes means the course work has to be made up somehow, which brings me to my main complaint. I just had to rework the days that I would hand in assignments in one class, and it did not make me happy one bit, especially the fact that a paper due date was moved to the same day as for another paper. This semester is going to test my abilities to stay on task more than ever before, which means I need to learn how to NOT PROCRASTINATE. I have so many assignments in all of my classes that there is absolutely no wiggle room whatsoever. If I don’t stay on top of everything, it’s going to be disastrous, and I wish that was just an exaggeration.

In preparation of this week, I decided to not honor my decision to avoid baking for a little while and made some blueberry muffins to eat for breakfast as I’m going out the door in the morning. I made the To Die For Blueberry Muffins on Allrecipes.com, and I must say that they really are “to die for.” This also marked the inaugural use of my new muffin tin.

I made some of my own alterations to the recipe, and they turned out wonderfully. I did not use the cinnamon/sugar/butter topping the recipe suggested, but I did sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on top before I put them in the oven. I also subbed in a half cup of whole wheat flour, and I couldn’t even notice that I did that. Next time around I will probably use half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour, just to make them a bit healthier and more filling. I didn’t have it at the time, but I’ll also use applesauce in place of the vegetable oil, just because.

Unfortunately, the recipe only yielded 11 muffins, probably because I tried to fill the cups too high. I also wish they could have had a more golden coloring, but I didn’t want to leave them in the oven, for fear of drying out. I’m not sure how long I left them in, but any longer and I would not have been happy because they would have been dried out. I took them out at the perfect time to obtain maximum moisture, so in the end the coloring is just an aesthetic thing.

This snow day also yielded additional unfortunate news, beyond the changing due dates. I went to check on Fishy this afternoon to find him floating immobile on his side. He had a good long life, for a little fish, but I will miss him swimming around in his bowl on my desk, blowing bubbles up at the surface along the sides and then popping them. RIP Fishy, May 2010-January 2011.

After today, I really want nothing more than to listen to some Celtic Thunder and bake up some Best Cocoa Brownies, which I think I’ll do as soon as my suitemates clear out.

Baking

My First Night Back

I made it back Saturday mid-afternoon, and for once my parents were able to find a parking spot near my dorm. We unloaded, unpacked, and parted ways, leaving me to my own devices in my empty suite. That empty suite could only mean one thing–BAKING! My baking cabinet was suitably stocked, and I got to it very quickly. I combed through my bookmarked recipes and settled upon a Dorie Greenspan recipe I found as a Tuesdays with Dorie entry on Amy Ruth Bakes: the Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake. I had been eying this cake for some time, but I didn’t have a proper loaf pan to bake it in, before now. A couple of weeks ago I went and bought some glass mixing bowls, a loaf pan, a muffin tin, and a round cake pan. When I got back, I realized that as my bake-ware collection is slowly being completed, my kitchen is quickly running out of storage space. It’s like a puzzle–this can go here, that can go there, but that can’t go there, so where will it go? My only answer is I don’t know. Thank goodness I’m so tall, because I’ve been able to use the space on top of the cabinets because no one else can reach or has shown the desire to stand on a chair to reach up there.

Generally I am skeptical of recipes that only call for cocoa powder, because it doesn’t give me as satisfying a chocolate taste as it would if I used melted chocolate. I usually add additional chocolate to those recipes, but for some reason I didn’t want to this time. Search me for as to why; I have plenty of chocolate chips I could have used.

I’m not sure what the actual consistency of the cake batter is supposed to be, but mine was as light and airy as a mousse. Granted I had to make a last second substitution because, silly me, I forgot I didn’t have any eggs. Instead, for each egg I needed, I mixed together 2 Tablespoons of water, 1 Tablespoon of oil, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I really need to start checking for every single ingredient before I even think about beginning anything. I wonder if the substitution had any effect on the batter. I’ll have to find out by making this again sometime, but after everything is mixed as the recipe states, I’m going to add some melted chocolate.

The cake baked up beautifully in my new pan. A couple of corners were darker than the rest, but what can you do. I think I took the cake out at the perfect time, because when I cut it it was super moist.

It was a painfully long wait for it to cool down to semi-room temperature, and I probably should have waited longer, but it was getting late, I was exhausted, and I wanted a piece of cake gosh darn it. I miraculously had just enough raspberry jam for the filling. Next time I might try it with strawberry and add a little more because the flavor wasn’t as noticeable as I would have liked.

I also had just enough sour cream left to make the frosting. I had never before used only melted chocolate and sour cream as a frosting, and I thought it was an odd combination at first. It’s actually surprisingly good. I like the tang the sour cream adds.

The next thing I need to add to my kitchen collection is a long, flat plate for cakes. I know the cake sunk a bit from my poking a hole in it during the baking process to check it, but the plate just exacerbates that and does nothing to add to its levelness. I know that’s a nit-picky thing to notice, but when I think of loaf cakes, I think of long, flat, level cakes, and this attempt does not quite fit that profile in my opinion.

It’s not my best frosting job ever, and it doesn’t exactly match the “dressy” in the title, but the frosting was a bit tough to deal with because it was so warm and melty. I could have waited for it to cool a bit, but again, it was late and I wanted cake.

Doesn’t it look super yummy?

You can just barely see the raspberry jam between the three layers.

Upon taking my first bite, I was surprised that it actually tasted good. I was fearing that the lack of eggs was going to result in disaster in terms of taste, but I was pleasantly surprised. The cake was moist and rich, even without the additional chocolate in the batter. It’s okay in terms of chocolate taste, but not quite as satisfying as other recipes I’ve made. I’m still not a fan of the color of the cake, but once again, I’m becoming extremely nit-picky.

One final note about this cake. It’s definitely NOT a one-bowl cake. Thank goodness for my new mixing bowls, because I ended up using 1 bowl for the wet ingredients, 1 bowl for the dry ingredients, 1 bowl to make the filling, 1 bowl and one pot of simmering water to make the frosting, my 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup measuring cups, measuring spoons, the loaf pan, a hand mixer, a spoonula, a fork, a knife, two plates, and a spatula to make it. That’s a lot of dishes, and I finally got them all washed.

Overall this cake was a success, and I’m definitely going to make it again, albeit with a few alterations to suit my palate and aesthetics.

Baking

The Triumphant Return of Miss Homemade!

When I’m bored or stressed, I bake. It’s not just that I decide “Hey, I’m not doing anything and that sure looks like a good recipe.” No, it’s more like “OMG, I’m SO BORED/STRESSED! MUST! BAKE! YUMMY! TREATS!” I get something in my head to bake, and I can’t get rid of the need until I make it. Like during this winter break, I’ve been doing absolutely nothing, and so I want nothing more than to be able to make something, even though I already made SO much stuff last week and nothing else is needed because I’m still not off that sugar high. But the nagging feeling persists and I can’t get rid of it until I make something. For instance, last night I wanted to make pudding/mousse, but I had no heavy cream or butter, so I couldn’t. I was devastated. Well, maybe not devastated, but I was super annoyed and rather sad. So today that feeling persisted, and while I was reading one of the many baking blogs I frequent, I came upon something so simple that my parents couldn’t possibly refuse it. It was just enough like baking that it would suffice and satisfy my craving for *something*. I thought I had all the ingredients already, so I didn’t check before I started, but it turns out I didn’t. I didn’t have the most crucial thing at the most crucial time, and I thought all was lost.

This simplest of simple things I wanted to make was the No Bake Cheesecake recipe I found on Grace’s Sweet Life. I thought it couldn’t get any simpler, because I wouldn’t have to deal with baking and letting the cheesecake sit and hope it wouldn’t crack and disappoint me. I halved the recipe because I only had one package of cream cheese, and I’m glad I did because we wouldn’t have been able to finish them all if I made twelve cupcake-size ones or a whole cheesecake, so I made six cupcake-size ones, and they’re just the perfect little portions and so will be gone tomorrow.

When I got to the part that says to add the Cool Whip to the cream cheese and powdered sugar mixture, I thought all was going to be fine and dandy because I thought my father didn’t take the Cool Whip with him to my aunt’s New Year’s Eve party the night before, because who puts Cool Whip on pecan pie (which I made yesterday with a crust from scratch, but I forgot to take pictures)? But NO, he DID take it, and so I was Cool Whip-less. I somehow got my mother to go to the store for me and get it, but don’t ask me how the heck that happened, because I’m not even too sure why she agreed when I figured this would be something she wouldn’t eat, because of the Cool Whip contents. I’m not going to question it though, because she went, and I was able to finish my cheesecakes. I did have to add some cocoa powder to her’s though, because she doesn’t like plain cheesecake. I must say though, the cocoa powder addition made it pretty tasty, and slightly less tart (yes, I ate the remainder out of the little bowl I mixed her’s in).

I also made a little chocolate sauce to spoon on top of the cheesecakes, and I even stirred some into a little bit of the remaining Cool Whip for a chocolate-y addition. Yum. I just wish I had my sifter here so that I could have strained the cocoa powder and chocolate chip chunks out of the sauce so that it would have been velvety smooth.

Waiting for these minis to set in the fridge was very painful. All the while when I was playing Wii Bowling with my parents I just wanted to dive in and eat one. But the wait was well worth it. Tada!

Yeah, yeah, I know I still need to work on my presentation. Oh well. At least it looked and tasted yummy.