Banana Bread

Our family is a bit into bananas. My husband enjoys eating the heck out of them. My children enjoy them now and again. I, myself, do not enjoy eating them. I find the texture a bit off putting. Due to the husband factor, finding two overly ripe bananas in my kitchen is truly a rare encounter. But it happened just last week. You may be thinking ‘if she doesn’t like bananas, why would she be interested in brown bananas?’. Well, dear friends, this means I get to bake. I don’t always bake. Only when the mood strikes and the conditions are right. In this case, the two ripe bananas and the autumn weather got the best of me.

Here she is in all her golden glory. Isn’t she gorgeous? I think one of her best assets is the smell she evokes while baking in the oven. My whole house smelled amazing. Banana bread in the oven and a gorgeous fall day. Just what nature intended.

I am pretty sure we all have recipes for the ever-delightful banana bread but this one is worth a try, if you are willing to deviate from your usual recipe. I skip the nuts because to be honest, my kids are not nutty about nuts. (That was a test to see how maybe times I could make reference to nuts in one sentence.) If I am feeling particularly naughty, I replace the aforementioned nuts with chocolate chips. I must have been feeling nice because I just baked a straight up plain version with no additions whatsoever.

Here is the Banana Bread recipe.

Bake for the love of bananas, the love of bread, or the love of amazing baking smells. Or all three. 😉

 

Advertisement

Rhubarb: Rite of Summer

Hello gorgeous red and green stalks of rhubarb deliciousness.  Welcome.

You have left the safety of the garden and are about to be diced.

Some of you will be frozen (gasp!) while others will grace a few baked goods and be devoured by my family.

(Double gasp!)

I must be feeling wicked.  (On a Sunday?)

I am actually feeling happy.  The harvesting of rhubarb signifies summer in an earthly, reminiscent way.

Temperatures in the nineties.  Kids running through the sprinkler.  The smell of freshly cut rhubarb.

Childhood.  Summer.  I love you.

I love memories of childhood, of summer, and of simple pleasures.

So, I harvested rhubarb from my garden on Sunday and I set to work dicing.

Can you smell the fresh, tart, yummy-ness of this picture?  I hope so.

First, I made a crumb cake, following the guidance of a recipe I sought out on Smitten Kitchen.  There were three separate components:  the crumb, the rhubarb filling, and the cake.  It took signifcantly longer than would normally be humanly necessary because I was home with my two children while my husband was out fishing.  Getting interrupted by a two-year old and four-year old three thousand times does not make for quick progress in the kitchen.  I somehow managed with all of our head still intact.

Secondly, I made rhubarb bread.  This was not as time-consuming as the crumb cake because there is only the simple mixing of ingredients and pouring into a pan.  As my son would say:  ‘Easy.  Peasy.  Lemon Squeasy.’  The interruptions were less because I may have simply given up parenting.  I may have stopped listening and just kept nodding and saying yes.  ‘May’ is the key word in the previous sentence.  Fellow parents, you know exactly what I am speaking of.

Lastly, I was ready to delve into the strawberry-rhubarb pie.  I’ve only made about three pies in my life and so this is one area where I am always a bit cautious.  I do not (and did not) count on it turning out.  I trusted good, ol’ Smitten Kitchen for the pie filling portion and used my own ridiculously easy pie crust recipe (courtesy of my friend Beth).   There was not a strawberry in sight, let alone the pound required to join the rhubarb in the pie.  So, I strapped in the rascals and we headed to the local grocer to get the berries.  With a bit more of the smile-and- wave technique pulled on my family, the pie made it into the oven by evening time. *wipes brow*

A recap of the three rhubarb treats

The crumb cake was my favorite but also had the longest prep time.  The rhubarb bread was a hit with my husband, over the crumb cake.  He is all for the cake and not the crumb, hence the reason the rhubarb bread suited him.  The pie, while on the juicy side (picture me scooping out rhubarb and strawberry juice once the first piece was cut), tasted pretty damn good.  Compliments from husband are always a big deal and the pie received them multiple times. *cue the alleluia music*

Tired from so much baking (Three things in one day?  From the girl who used to pour herself cold cereal for dinner and would not have dreamed of baking any of the above?) I did not snap photos of all of the rhubarb delights.  But I did get some good candid shots of the crumb cake.

Just in case your mouth is not watering yet…

Hello Gorgeous.

The upside to baking three goodies in one day is that there were actually sweets in the house for days, rather than a single twenty-four hour period.  We were even able to share with loved ones who don’t live with us!  The rhubarb bread was gone by Tuesday.  The last piece of pie was eaten Wednesday.  The last and final piece of crumb cake was stashed away until Thursday, secretly saved for the woman who spent all day Sunday romancing the rhubarb.

If you would like to try the rhubarb bread, the following recipe is courtesy of 201 MUFFINS by Gregg R. Gillespie.

RHUBARB BREAD

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking soda, rhubarb, walnuts, and salt.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg and brown sugar until smooth before beating in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean and the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan.

Bring on the festivities of summer!

The Attempt

Do you have that thing that you will not even attempt to make or bake because someone else holds the honorable “best ever” title?  Perhaps your husband informed you that his mom’s cinnamon rolls are “The Best”.  Perhaps he said this while devouring one of said cinnamon rolls.  Perhaps there was moaning and groaning involved.  Perhaps you made a mental note NEVER to make cinnamon rolls.  EVER.  (Um, hello?  The BEST, people.  Who are you to top the best?  More importantly, who are you to top, ahem, his mother?)  In our world, Grandma T is the reigning Queen of the Cinnamon Roll.  Great Grandma JoAnn is the reigning Queen of the Caramel Roll.  That’s just how it is.  So, I have not ever tried to make either one.  Ever.

Well, up until two Sundays ago when I finally gathered up the courage to make The Attempt.

I was puttering around the kitchen feeling the need to bake something and thought I’d see just what these famous little rolls entail.  My Google search quickly led me to a recipe by Molly Wizenburg.  I became acquainted with Molly and her Orangette website through my friend Beth.  But the fact that I found her through Google and on the Bon Appétit website no less…well, I just KNEW that I had to make Molly’s Cinnamon Rolls.  At least to TRY.  So, I printed the recipe off and decided to give it a go.  Then, I made the shocking discovery that I did not have enough cinnamon.  I think the whole house let out a sigh of disappointment.  The shingles and gutters even heaved a bit.  I was forced to wait a few days until the cinnamon stars aligned.  At which time, I (somewhat nervously) gave it a go.

My husband entered the kitchen a few times during the process and expertly offered his input.  When he discovered that I was not using his mom’s recipe, he nearly fainted.  He told me to call her.  Call the Queen?Are you crazy?  My very sensible woman logic reasoned that if I did not use her recipe, there would be that much less to compare.  Yes, I know.  Silly.  I ordered him out of my kitchen and pressed on with Molly.

I am proud to say that The Attempt was successful.  I know this because I received compliments from the Cinnamon Roll Expert.  I actually received multiple compliments throughout the annihilation of the rolls.

If you have a few hours on a Saturday morning, you may want to give it a go.  Just keep in mind the rise times.  You could always make them up the night before and put them in the refrigerator (they will still rise), then bake in the morning.  I found that we liked ours better with a bake time of 18 minutes.  It may depend on your oven, the pan (metal, glass), the stars, the altitude, your luck, and personal preference.

I figure I can try for princess or duchess at the very least, keeping current royalty intact.

Praise and adoration await you.  Did I mention the cream cheese glaze?  Mmmmm…

Here is Molly’s recipe:  click here for printable version

Ingredients

DOUGH

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

FILLING

  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

GLAZE

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

CRUST

  • Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.
  • Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

FILLING

  • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.
  • Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
  • Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

GLAZE

  • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.