Category Archives: Breads

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Every so often, I’ll attempt a different version of a recipe I have already found my preferred version of. It may not be the perfect version, but it fits my own likings of that particular food just right. There is that curiosity, though: how does that one taste? We all have our preferences, and can get stuck thinking that a particular way of preparing things is the only way to do it right.

When I first travelled to France for two weeks with my mom, I came upon a rather unpleasant surprise (at least at the time) – Chinese fast food in France is waaaaaay different from in the US. It has a different flavor, it’s prepared differently, and it’s kept differently (in a much better way, to be sure – they don’t have hot plates that overcook the food to nothingness – they prepare it, set it out in covered dishes, and when people order it they can just pop it into the microwave either there or at home). At the time, it was toward the end of our trip and we were looking for a little different fare – perhaps something less rich? I’m not quite certain what brought us there. I remember it was somewhere just on the left bank, near all of the little tourist traps. There were a number of little hole in the wall restaurants, but we chose Chinese take-out. Probably because it was late and it was take-out-able.

At any rate, it didn’t taste bad or anything, just different – and I admit I didn’t terribly like it at the time. I also warned my school mates away from that type of thing when I spent a quarter abroad, and I didn’t brave the experience again. But I have come to realize that I most likely did a disservice to myself in not branching out from “traditional” French food on my second trip – who knows what I might have discovered?

Thus I have been trying to be brave and expand my expectations and experiences in trying to make different renditions of recipes I have come to have certain expectations of. Banana bread is one of them. I have a paper copy of a recipe that I love to pieces, and it has all kind of food stains and sugar and whatnot on it, but it’s still in my recipe binder-thinger as a go-to version. On Pinterest one can find almost as many versions of a recipe as on AllRecipes, and I found one from a blogger whose recipes I have tried before and found to be perfectly serviceable. This recipe is similar – serviceable, has a decent flavor, but I still like my go-to a bit more.

Tartine Bread

While I love to make quick breads, pastries and desserts, I have always loved fresh bread – the stuff you get in restaurants in the baskets that’s all warm and crunchy-crusted and decadent. There is something about smelling warm bread and eating it that just makes my day.

I took a sourdough starter course a few months ago after attempting to make my own starter and killing it horribly because I had no idea what I was doing. And by killing horribly I mean I left in the fridge for months, avoiding it like the plague. Yeah, I’m an avoider. But I took this two-hour workshop up in SF from a bread company called Sour Flour. We received a bit of starter for ourselves to take home and feed and make into our own thing. We also made a bit of flatbread, which was good – it was a short workshop, so it’s not like we had hours and hours to let it rise as a full loaf.

That workshop was very enlightening, but at this point the only thing I could say I successfully learned from it was how to keep a starter alive. I have attempted two bread-things from it – one was a loaf of bread from one of the example recipes the workshop referred to, and the other was attempting to integrate the starter into my grandmother’s orange rolls. The first was interesting, as I started the process on the weekend but found that I didn’t have enough time to do the rising and baking (I am working on the whole planning thing, as I have mentioned before), so I let the dough sit in the fridge overnight. And then for the rest of the week until the following weekend. I decided to finally take it out and see if I could salvage it, and it turned out pretty well. It didn’t rise as much as I was expecting, but it had a wonderful sourdough taste because it had sat in the fridge for so long, developing those flavors. Unfortunately, it sat so long that it was still very dense. I wanted a fluffy bread.

I recently started seriously perusing Reddit, and came a cross a sub-reddit called Breadit. I couldn’t resist looking at it, and someone mentioned a book called Tartine Bread. I looked it up and took the plunge and bought it on the iBook store, figuring it would be easier for me to take into the kitchen and such, and not let it get horribly doughed and floured. This was a good idea, as was reading the book, at least through the end of the first section where it tells how to work with an initial loaf, the most basic recipe. Turns out the sourdough I made had been using a modified Tartine recipe, so I had a bit of a step up with that.

This time I started the process Thursday night, and was able to bake the loaves on Sunday. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because my dough looked less smooth and elastic-y than the pictures in the book, and I was certain it would be very dense once again. I did have to leave the loaves in the fridge overnight, as some of the initial steps took longer than anticipated, but I wanted to make sure things looked right. One of the aspects of baking that the book talks about is being attentive to the dough, and not just working by what a recipe says – each environment is different, and that impacts the dough’s development.

After removing the dough from the fridge and noticing that it hadn’t done terribly much, I further sank into apprehension as to whether it would work. I figured things would turn out the way they had before because I was too hasty and didn’t know what I was doing.

Once I removed it from the pan, though, I was rewarded:

Cocofancy | Tartine Bread
Cocofancy | Tartine Bread

It had bubbles! And was light and airy, while still very moist. A little butter doesn’t hurt, though.

I will post the recipe once I have a moment to copy down the recipe – it’s rather long and has a lot of notes for what to do it x, y or z happens. All good things, but a lot of stuff to go through. In the meantime, though, I am munching on amazing bread, and looking forward to my Valentine’s offering – peanut butter krispy treats.

Cocofancy | Tartine Bread
Cocofancy | Tartine Bread

Country Apple Fritter Bread

Sadly, it has been a busy enough couple of months that I haven’t been posting, though I have been doing some baking. This particular recipe I made in September when I was still looking forward to fall and the weather wasn’t quite autumnal yet. At this point, it is now deep into fall, but I cannot remember for the life of me anything outside of an impression of awesomeness from this bread. Obviously I will need to make it again.

The pan, however, was an acquisition from Cost Plus World Market, and is absolutely lovely and amazing.

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Country Apple Fritter Bread

from The Baking Chocolatess

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 apples, peeled and chopped, mixed with 2 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Use a 9×5″ loaf pan and spray with non-stick spray.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl; set aside.

In a mixer bowl, beat granulated sugar and butter together until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time until blended in, then add vanilla extract.

Whisk flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, then add to the creamed butter mixture and stir until blended. Mix milk into batter until smooth.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half of the apples and half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apple mixture into the batter.

Pour remaining batter over apple layer and top with remaining apples and brown sugar mixture, and again pat apples into batter. Swirl brown sugar through apples using knife or spoon.

Bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Slice and enjoy.

Chocolate Orange Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chips

Long title, right? But let me tell you – this received quite a bit of wide-ranging praise when it was distributed. I had people actually asking for the recipe.

It all came about when I had an overripe banana, and Mikal bringing home oranges. Bananas were easy to find something to make with them – banana bread, banana bread, more banana bread, and I even found a recipe for bananadoodles – a banana-snickerdoodle. That’ll be in the works, you can bet your hat on that.

And oranges are pretty easy to think of stuff to make – my grandma’s orange rolls, orange scones, cookies, anything.

But trying to figure out something to blend bananas and oranges into a baked good – that was a little bit of a stumper. All I could really think about were smoothies. I mean, that would be awesome together. It’s just not something I can easily share with people at work.

So I turned to Pinterest. Most of what came up was what I had thought of: smoothies. They even sounded pretty awesome. But then I came across a few recipes that I will be trying in the coming weeks. The first is the one listed below. The image for the recipe showed a decadently dark bread with white chocolate chunks, so of course I had to try it. That being said, I’m really not a fan of the chocolate/orange mixture. I still have one of those chocolate oranges sitting in my desk at work from over a year ago for emergency chocolate. Of course, the whole chocolate+fruit thing is just weird to me. The only thing that gets around that are frozen chocolate-covered bananas – also known as Monkey Tails – which will always remind me of renaissance faires.

Mikal also shares my ambivalence regarding chocolate+orange, but even he really enjoyed this, so keep that in mind. I tried a couple of slices and they were definitely better than I had expected – but I didn’t quite love it. There’s a lot going on with the flavors.

This recipe makes any of the following: 1 large loaf, 2 small loaves, or 8 mini-loaves.

Chocolate Orange Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chips

from Rock Recipes

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 medium bananas, mashed
1 orange, zest + juice
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb white chocolate – chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 325°F, and prepare pan.

Beat sugar and oil in bowl until foamy. Add eggs, orange zest and mashed bananas. Mix well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold dry ingredients into the banana mixture alternately with the orange juice. Fold in white chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared baking pans and bake 45-60 minutes for the large loaf, 30-35mins for mini loaves. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Zucchini Bread Muffins

It’s amazing what can bring you back to something you love. I have been having a bit of difficulty recently – actually, for a number of months, truth be told – of not wanting to bake. There has been a vague wanting to kinda-sorta, but not enough to really incite me to do so. Seeing as that has been the one item I have been working toward – being a baker – and that has been something of a guiding light in my where-do-I-go-from-here thoughts, this presented quite the mental mire. Add to that the normal life stuff of work, worry about the future, helping friends move, work, work, work, etc., and you get me thinking about my blog with trepidation.

Though time will tell whether I have completely moved past this hurdle, a confluence of occurrences has brought me to the current post. First, I inherited a zucchini that had presumably been intended for slicing and adding to bagels at an office meeting a few weeks back. I’m presuming that because I also obtained cherry tomatoes and a pickling cucumber from after that meeting, but no one seems to have gone for any of those toppings – not even the person who brought them. Not sure what went on there. Probably one of those “this sounds like an amazing idea!” things that just didn’t get followed through – much like me and cottage cheese. I mean, I like it, but any time I buy it I forget it’s even there.

Add to the zucchini an episode of Scrubs in which Kelso gets free muffins for life. Mikal commented afterward about the episode making him want muffins. I told him to grate the zucchini for me (we had been watching a Scrubs marathon as I was home sick and feeling thoroughly shitty) and maybe I’d do something with it. You’re welcome.

I was rather startled to realize that I have not yet posted a zucchini bread recipe. I mean, it’s only one of my favorite summer baked goods. Seriously, what’s wrong with me? It’s one of the first things my mom made when we moved up to Washington state, and the house we moved into had a small number of garden beds with squashes and pumpkins and sunflowers and raspberries. Prior to that we had lived in California, where she had made some things – I remember blueberry pancakes, which I didn’t particularly like, and crepes – but not much. I think the growing things inspired her. I remember being very confused when she said she was making zucchini bread – I mean, it’s a vegetable that tastes great sliced and breaded and fried, why would you make that into bread? Wouldn’t it be gross? I was really very skeptical until it came out of the oven smelling like heaven, and tasting even better. We had a lot of zucchini that summer, some of them absolutely huge, so we made a few batches.

I guess it makes sense that nostalgia would be one of the more frequent catalysts for igniting a passion for something you love.

The recipe below is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which I love for her stories and great recipes. While I have a zucchini bread recipe somewhere in the kitchen, I turned to Pinterest to see what I had pinned, maybe find one I have found to be good. This recipe has a good amount of spice (the other one I was looking at had no spices, but did add lemon zest – I’ll try that with what zucchini I have left over), so it might be a little more appropriate closer to the autumn time. Then again, I think I am looking forward to autumn, since that is when I historically have re-entered baking mode. There’s just something about shorter, windier days and turning leaves that makes me want to warm the house with baking.

Zucchini Bread Muffins

3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease 24 muffin tins or line them with baking cups.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in oil, yogurt, and sugar to combine. Add in zucchini and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

Divide batter evenly across the 24 muffin cups. (I found that a 1/4 cup measure is pretty much perfect for this – the muffins rise quite considerably, so I’m rather glad I didn’t go with the 1/3 cup.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of a middle muffin comes out clean.