Tag Archives: baked

Brown Butter and Cinnamon Apple Bread

27 Oct

I know I haven’t posted a dinner in ages.  I made this sesame chicken dinner last night, and it was so freaking good.  I also realize that every other dinner I post is from Iowa Girl Eats…here’s what happens: I have all these great ideas, then I go to her blog and she has posted something that looks even better…so I make that instead.

Anyway, you should make that sesame chicken.  I followed the recipe exactly, and her pictures are better than mine would have been.  I especially loved the coating…egg white and cornstarch for a light ‘breading’…perfect and genius!

But I did do something cool this morning: I baked something from a recipe I came up with.  Big deal, guys.

I was thinking pumpkin or banana bread, with tons of fresh apples from an orchard in Charlottesville, and the apple pie I made on Wednesday nearly gone, apple bread it was.

And this bread is AWESOME.  Not just because I crafted the recipe myself…it is soft and moist, but perfectly spongy.  And the flavor!  The cake tastes of cinnamon sugar—but not in an overly sweet way—with subtle undertones of caramel from brown butter.  And the apples are nice little pops of fresh, bright flavor.

Seriously, one of the best things I’ve ever baked.

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Alright, start by browning some butter.  My last tutorial was pretty lame, so I decided to try again.  Put your butter in a small saucepan, then onto the stove over low-medium heat.

Stir occasionally.  It will foam up, obscuring your view.  Stirring helps you to see what color your butter is, and for some reason seems to make the process go more quickly.  Still, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Everyone says you wait for the butter to smell ‘nutty’.  I kind of think that regular melted butter smells nutty, so that’s not much help.  There is a pretty distinct smell change though, so it is a good indicator.  I would go with ‘caramel’ not ‘nutty’ though to describe it.

It also changes color to amber.  Duh.  And develops some light brown flecks in the bottom of the pan.  Those are your best indicators…much easier to see in a lighter colored pan (versus my Ikea cancer pan that I used last time)

Once you see this, remove from heat, and continue to stir.  Not all the butter may look brown yet, but residual heat should get the job done.

Let that cool while you combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl:  all purpose flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Now assemble the wet ingredients!  My brown butter was still warm, so I added the sugar first to cool it down, then whisked in two eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk.

Pour the wet mix into the dry and stir well to combine.  It will be pretty liquidy.

Then chop up your apples!  (Your batter will thicken a bit as the flours absorb some of the moisture).

My last apple cutting tutorial was also pretty lame, so here it is again: the easiest way to peel and chop apples.

First slice off the top and base, then peel with your knife.  Just carefully follow the curve of your apples with the knife.  Then core and chop.

Easy!  All of your apple sides have nice flat surfaces, making it totally easy to cut these up.

My cubes were pretty small.

Fold into your batter, then pour into a greased loaf pan and into the oven for 30-40 minutes.  The edges may brown a bit, and your top should develop a nice crack, and be cooked through in the center.

Yay!  Look how pretty.  And of course you already saw the inside, but just to convince you you need to make this:

It’s delish.  Cinnamon, sugar, the caramel accents from brown butter, and apples…this is fall at its finest.  Even without any pumpkin =]

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Oh, P.S., for anyone in the way of this MONSTER storm coming through the eastern US…stay safe, stay warm and dry, and Happy (early) Halloween!!

and GO TRIBE!! It’s homecoming weekend at my alma mater…hark upon the gale and then eat some apple bread =]

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Brown Butter and Cinnamon Apple Bread
Makes 1 9×5’ loaf

4 T butter
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour (grind dry oats in a food processor or coffee grinder till fine)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
¾ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk*
2 medium-large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  • Begin by browning 4 T of butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  It will smell caramelly, turn amber in color, and develop small flecks in the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool for several minutes.
  • While the butter cools, combine both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.
  • Once the brown butter has cooled slightly, stir the brown sugar into it (this will cool the butter more, so no worries if it’s still relatively warm).  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract, and buttermilk.
  • Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir to combine.  It will be pretty wet.  Set aside while you chop, peel, and core your apples.  This will give time for the flours to absorb some of the moisture.
  • Stir apples into the batter.  Pour batter into a greased 9×5 loaf pan, and into the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown and the bread is set in the center.

*I didn’t use real buttermilk for this…I poured one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup, filled it to the top with 2% milk, and let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken into ‘buttermilk’.  Works like a charm.

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Vegan Baking Experiments

24 Oct

I made a lot of goodies today!

And guess what?  They’re all vegan!  I have a vegan friend and have kind of challenged myself to make some delicious baked goods for him.  And then I made more fauxrabars for myself.

Vegan baking is not nearly as hard as you might think.  It’s mostly about replacing:

1)      butter—with oil, or coconut oil (or shortening) if you need a solid fat

2)      milk—almond or soy milk works in almost any recipe

3)      eggs—I’ve seen vegan egg replacers, but it seems like applesauce, pumpkin puree, and bananas can generally be substituted…though I’m no expert on that.

I accidentally made vegan pumpkin cookies when I left the eggs out of my whoopie pies.  So I made another batch of those (knowing how great they were).

Then I made Sunbutter cookies!  The boyfriend doesn’t like peanut butter desserts, but he does like chocolate covered sunflower seeds, so I figured I’d tackle sunflower seed butter cookies, but vegan, just because.

They taste pretty good, and I like the texture too (soft and cakey)…one of the great things about vegan cookie dough is that there’s no raw eggs, so you can taste the batter as you go.

They need some tweaking though because…these cookies are not pretty.  I figured the ugly color was from the drab color of the sunbutter.  Then I cracked one open…

It’s green.  Like…really green.  Spinach green.  ‘Omg is this going to kill me if I eat it? Green’ (that’d be a great crayon name, right?).

A brief search on the interwebs told me that no, it won’t kill you.  The green is from chlorogenic acid…which all plants have in the stems and leaves, and is also in the seeds of sunflowers. They’re totally safe, and taste normal.  The color is still off-putting though.  Could be fun for St. Patrick’s Day…

Anyway, here’s the recipe I used (substituting pumpkin for applesauce, and obviously sunbutter for peanut butter)…I’m pretty sure it would be great (and less strangely colored) with peanut butter.

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Moving on…fauxrabars!  I’ve devoted two posts to my other fauxrabar flavors, so I’ll keep this quick (the method is the same as before).

Another use for your leftover sunbutter and sunflower seeds…one that does not require baking…Sunbutter Cookie Dough Fauxrabars! (Adapted from ChocolateCoveredKatie).  If you dig sunflower seeds and/or sunflower seed butter, this one is great!

1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp raisins
1/8-1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
2 tbsp sunflower seeds (mine were raw, but roasted and salted would be good too)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients well in a food processor until well combined and uniform in texture.  This dough should stick together very well.  Pour dough out onto saran wrap, and form into three bars.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap, and store in the fridge or at room temperature.  Will keep for at least a week (probably more).

I also made some Cashew Cookie Dough Fauxrabars…they kind of do taste like cookie dough.  I think everyone that makes ‘fauxrabars’ has a version of this recipe, but here’s mine:

½ cup cashews (mine were roasted and salted)
1/3 cup raisins
1/8 – ¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 T chocolate chips (optional, I used white chocolate)

Blend all ingredients well in a food processor until well combined and uniform in texture.  If your mixture is dry and does not stick together well, add a few drops of water, pulse and repeat until sticky.  Pour dough out onto saran wrap, and form into three bars.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap, and store in the fridge or at room temperature.  Will keep for at least a week (probably more).

Whew.  After that marathon post you might think I was heading to the dark side…and turning to veganism.  You’d be mistaken.  I ate some bacon for breakfast.  And then I made apple pie.  With extra butter.

P.S. If you clicked on any of the links on this post, they take you to Chocolate Covered Katie’s healthy dessert blog.  Who doesn’t love healthy desserts?  But I really love her site because she makes special diet baking seem not so scary.  Overall, there’s no weird ingredients you’ve never heard of, and lots of suggestions for substitutions =]

Chocolate Banana Bread Bread Pudding

19 Oct

Today I was going to tell you about:

I love banana bread.  My mom used to make it all the time when I was little.  There were always brown bananas in the freezer, and her banana bread was to die for with a little spread of cream cheese.  Mmmm.  So it brings back great childhood memories for me.

You definitely have everything you need in your kitchen (as soon as you have ripe bananas), and it dirties up a minimum of dishes.  All you need is a large bowl, a fork to stir everything with, a few measuring cups, and the loaf pan you bake it in.  Oh yeah, and a bowl to melt butter in.

That is only if you remember to add butter of course.

I could never be a great pastry chef because I’m not very good at following recipes.  When you make savory dishes, you can (and should) taste while you go.  You can add more salt and more seasonings, and if you forget something, you can almost always add it in later.

When you forget to add the butter to banana bread and don’t realize until it’s already halfway cooked in the oven, there’s no way to recover.  *sigh*

But all is not lost!  Because even when something doesn’t turn out great while baking, there are ways to repurpose…

I was already planning to make a dessert for tonight since we had some relatives coming over.  I was thinking cupcakes, but this slightly botched banana bread presented me another opportunity.

“Bread pudding!” I cried out at breakfast, “That bread is already going to be dry!”

It was perfect.

I warn you now, bread pudding is time intensive, but it’s not a difficult process…mostly waiting.  You get your bread stale (wait), then wait some more while it absorbs custard, then bake for around an hour.  If you’ve got stale bread though, why not put it to use?

—-

First, dice up one loaf of banana bread.  Honestly, this bread didn’t taste too bad.  It wasn’t soft and buttery, but the texture was still breadlike (not dense or gummy).

I left it out on the counter uncovered for a few hours to dry it out (alternatively, use stale bread, or bake at 325 until dry…at least 30 minutes)

Then make the custard.  You could totally do this all by hand, but if you’ve got a bad ass blender (or any blender), put it to use.

 First the eggs…two whole, then three egg yolks.  And don’t throw those whites out!  Make a meringue, marshmallow, or just eat them for lunch (which is what I did…side note: egg whites are best cooked in a microwave…I’ll elaborate on this eventually)

Blend those up until airy and light in color.

Here’s the thing: you’re making an emulsion, so you want to add the rest of the ingredients slowly while the blender is on a low speed.  If you’re doing this by hand, just incorporate slowly while constantly whisking.  Your hand will burn.

Slowly add the sugar over 30 seconds, then the cocoa powder (let that one blend for a bit before adding anything else, since cocoa powder doesn’t incorporate into cold mixes easily), then slowly pour in the milk, vanilla, and coffee.  Blend for 30 seconds more to ensure everything is well incorporated. (There would be pictures of this, but I’m not tall enough to take pictures into the blender, so they wouldn’t have been helpful)

Pour it over your bread, and pat it down to make sure everything gets a nice drink of custard, then cover with saran wrap touching the bread.  Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours or in the fridge for up to 8 before baking to allow for bread soakage.

Sprinkle some chocolate chips over the top then into the oven for 45 minutes – an hour and 15 minutes.

This is kind of a strange thing, but even when it’s done, it may still look raw…after an hour and a half in the oven, mine didn’t look soupy anymore (but still not ‘set’), so I pulled it out and poked it with a fork, and the custard was actually done.  Awesome.

The long window of cooking time is because it will vary based on the bread you use and how much of the custard is absorbed.  My bread was relatively moist, so it didn’t absorb much custard, and took longer to cook…just check on it every 10 minutes or so after 45 minutes has passed.  As long as nothings burning, there’s no reason to worry if it takes a long time to cook =]  (I also bumped the temperature up to 350 once it had been in the oven for an hour)

Bread pudding is like a dessert French toast.  The texture is kind of similar.  It’s also like a really moist cake.  The bread gives the dessert structure and a fluffy feeling, while the dense, creamy pudding fills the cracks, and adds body and decadence.

This would be bomb with a caramel sauce, or fresh whipped cream.  I briefly considered caramelizing bananas to pour on top…any banana dessert is so fun to dress up!  Ooh, and it’s good warm or cold…so eat it fresh out of the oven with ice cream, or save it for breakfast in the morning =]

This would be bomb with a caramel sauce, or fresh whipped cream.  I briefly considered caramelizing bananas to pour on top…any banana dessert is so fun to dress up!  Ooh, and it’s good warm or cold…so eat it fresh out of the oven with ice cream, or save it for breakfast in the morning =]

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Basic Banana Bread (don’t forget the butter)
Makes 1-9×5 loaf
Adapted from allrecipes.com

2 ripe bananas
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey (or just do ½ cup brown sugar)
2 eggs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¼ – ½ cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan
  • In a large bowl, mash your bananas until liquidy and in small chunks.  Beat in the sugar, honey, eggs, and melted butter until well incorporated
  • Stir in dry ingredients: flour, salt, and baking soda, until the dough just comes together, then fold in the walnuts or chocolate chips (if using)
  • Pour into the loaf pan and spread out evenly in the pan.  Bake 50 minutes- 1 hour until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding
Adapted from Alton Brown
 
1 9×5 loaf of banana bread
2 large whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups milk*
2 tablespoons espresso or coffee, slightly cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Cut a loaf of banana bread into 1 inch cubes and spread out evenly into a greased 11×13 pan.  Bake at 325 F for at least 30 minutes until dry.  Allow to cool before adding custard.
  • While the bread cools, make custard.  Place the eggs and yolks in a blender and combine on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar over 30 seconds, and then add the cocoa powder and blend until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the milk, espresso and vanilla and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour over the dry, cooled bread.  Press down on the bread so every piece gets a nice drink.  Cover with saran wrap touching the surface of the bread.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours or in the fridge for 8.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 F and bake uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 170 F.  This will be when the custard is set in the center.  It may not look set…it should be stiff, not goopy when you give it a poke.  This will take anywhere from 45 min – an hour and 15 minutes
  • Serve warm or cold, and refrigerate any leftovers.  Will keep covered for several days.

*Any combination of heavy cream, half-and-half, whole milk, 2%, 1% or skim (or non-dairy) will be fine.  Don’t go completely half-and-half, heavy cream, or skim (no more than 1 cup), but use what you’ve got on hand…(I used ¼ cup heavy cream, ¾ cup 2% milk, then the rest whole milk)