Favorite Things: Bananas

cm-banana-focus_fotorWhile grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I realized how much I like bananas. Let me count the ways…

  1. You get a lot of bang for your buck: 3 pounds for $1.48. That’s amazing.
  2. They are packaged on their own. I don’t need to put them in a bag or a box to put in a lunch bag.
  3. They are versatile. Great for a snack on their own or as an ingredient in a bread, muffin, or cake (more on that later.)
  4. You can buy them and feel healthy, knowing that you can use them in less “healthy” ways when they brown and still feel good about yourself because you’re not wasting!!! Wow!

I am sure there are more positive things to point out but I want to get to the recipes! My first terrific recipe using bananas is my banana cake recipe. I would have never tried it if it wasn’t for our friend, Mark, who was always more adventurous than me. Anyway, he saw the recipe first so I want to give credit where credit is due…

This recipe is from the Ann Arbor’s Cookin’! cookbook and has been my husband’s choice for his birthday cake for many years now. It was also the favorite of our dog Katie, who never even begged for food, but one year she somehow was able to eat half the cake before my husband even touched it. To add insult to injury, she couldn’t stop licking her “lips”  for quite awhile afterwards even as she tried to look innocent. Hopefully that is a hard enough sell for you to try it!

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Banana Spice Cake


Ingredients

-2 cups all-purpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-3/4 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

-1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-1/4 cup sour milk (or fresh milk with squirt of lemon juice)

-1/2 cup butter or margarine

-1-1/2 cups sugar

-2 eggs


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. In separate bowl combine bananas, vanilla and milk. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Continue to beat until color lightens. Add flour mixture alternately with banana mixture, stirring until smooth after each addition. Turn into 2 greased 9-inch layer pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. Cool on racks and ice with buttercream frosting.

An adjustment I make with this recipe is to make 1 small cake (6 inch round) and 12 cupcakes instead of a 9 inch 2 layer cake. I can freeze the cupcakes to enjoy later and the small cake is plenty to celebrate the day!

The second banana recipe I would like to share is for banana bread. My friend, Ann, shared this recipe with me and this is what it looks like.

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I am always worried that I am going to lose it because it is so small! As you can see I have used this recipe many times and have to agree with Ann- it is the best banana bread I have ever had!  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much I have!

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Ann's Best Banana Bread


Ingredients

1/3 cup shortening or margarine

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup mashed bananas (2-3)

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Directions

-Cream margarine/butter and sugar

-Add bananas and eggs

-Mix separately flour, salt, baking soda and add with milk

-Stir in walnuts

-Bake 350 degrees 1 hour (at least) in greased loaf pan

-Cool on rack, wrap in Aluminum Foil

-Slices better on the 2nd day


Like the previous recipe, an adjustment I make with this recipe is that I make it in 3 smaller sized loaf pans. I cook it until the testing skewer comes out clean. It is close to an hour. Another way to know it is finished is it smells wonderful!

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Favorite Things: Bread addendum

PRINT MALFUNCTION FIXED!!!!

I was ready to try to make the Buttermilk Oat Bread independently. I went to Chillymink.com to print out the recipe and discovered it didn’t work!

The problem is fixed now – the recipe printed out and bread is in the oven. I hope this hasn’t inconvenienced anyone. Please give it a go!

Buttermilk Oat Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A hearty bread that's great for toasting.



This recipe requires several hours of rising, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup warm (~100°) water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 ½cup all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, sugar and water. Let sit as you continue. The yeast should foam up.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add buttermilk and honey and heat until warm, but not so hot that the buttermilk separates. Pour the mixture over the oats, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, the oats should be softened. Add the flour and yeast mixture. Mix until a dough is formed. You may need to add more buttermilk or flour to develop a good consistency. The dough should be a little sticky but well formed.
  5. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for several minutes until it is firm but still elastic. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1 hour.
  6. Punch the dough down a bit and take it out of the bowl. Form it into a loaf and place it in a loaf pan. I use a stone cooker with a cover, but if you don’t have a cover, simply use a towel. Let rise for another hour.
  7. Uncover the loaf and sprinkle the top with a light coating of kosher salt. Set the oven for 400°.
  8. If using stoneware, put the bread in with the cover on for 25 minutes, then remove the top and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the top is nicely browned. If you don’t have the covered stoneware, bake for 20 minutes, then cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the top of the bread from burning and bake for another 10 minutes.
  9. Take bread out of oven and let cool completely before cutting.
  10. Enjoy!

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Favorite Things: Color Part 2

 

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Large cakes and color are becoming a new theme! Last month I found the Wilton Performance Color System for baking and made a pumpkin cake for Halloween that was fun to make!

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Now Thanksgiving has provided an opportunity to use the color chart again! Once again I went back to my old recipes and found a Turkey Cake recipe that I had made years ago. This cake, like the Pumpkin Cake, was the actual size of a roasted turkey.

I remembered that the last time I made it, I was disappointed with the final color of the turkey. It looked raw. Now that I had my color chart, I was hoping it would look more realistic this time. The recipe is from a back issue of Family Fun, which was my favorite magazine when my children were young.

You bake 2 vanilla cakes in round bowls. They take longer than when they are baked in 9 inch round pans.

Then bake 1 spice cake in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Similarly it takes longer in the loaf pan than a round pan. I kept checking for doneness but I think they took about 40 minutes. The round bowls were closer to an hour. I just kept checking with a cake tester.

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Once the cakes were finished I let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then popped them out to finish cooling.

This cake takes a lot of frosting. I used close to 4 cans of store bought buttercream frosting.

Before assembling the pieces I put the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes.

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Basically you make a very large Whoopee Pie!

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This is an important step- secure the “Whoopee Pie” with a dollop of frosting on the platter.

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Trimming the legs out of the spice cake is tricky. Just keep trimming until it looks like a leg! Frosting hides a lot.

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I used coffee stirrers (wooden ones) to attach the legs to the body (it is no longer a very large Whoopee Pie!)

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It’s starting to look like a turkey. I also think it looks like a Harry Potter Snitch or Captain America’s mask.

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Now to the color- I used “Sand” for the base layer of frosting.

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Mixing 4 cans of frosting required my large mixer.

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Once I frosted the cake with the base “Sand” color I added more brown and black to the remaining frosting until it turns a few shades darker. I added the darker color to the parts of the “turkey” that would darken as it cooks.

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Adding the oranges and paper caps added a touch of authenticity!

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It was fun to carve it like a turkey!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Favorite Things: Bread

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I was going to title this Favorite Things: Homemade Bread, but who am I kidding– I like store-bought bread too.

Baking bread has been a long tradition in my family. My grandmother Mimi was known for her rye bread. It was delicious. My mother is known for her rolls- dinner rolls and sweet rolls. They  are delicious.

My daughter is carrying on the tradition. She has been making bread for a couple of years now, to the point where we hardly buy store bought bread anymore. I decided it was time that I learned how to make it myself since she is planning on moving soon.

She makes a delicious buttermilk bread. Here are pictures of my first attempt. The full recipe is at the end of the post!

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Yeast is proofing and oats are soaking

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Ready for the oven

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It turned out!

Buttermilk Oat Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A hearty bread that's great for toasting.



This recipe requires several hours of rising, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup warm (~100°) water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 ½cup all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, sugar and water. Let sit as you continue. The yeast should foam up.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add buttermilk and honey and heat until warm, but not so hot that the buttermilk separates. Pour the mixture over the oats, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, the oats should be softened. Add the flour and yeast mixture. Mix until a dough is formed. You may need to add more buttermilk or flour to develop a good consistency. The dough should be a little sticky but well formed.
  5. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for several minutes until it is firm but still elastic. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1 hour.
  6. Punch the dough down a bit and take it out of the bowl. Form it into a loaf and place it in a loaf pan. I use a stone cooker with a cover, but if you don’t have a cover, simply use a towel. Let rise for another hour.
  7. Uncover the loaf and sprinkle the top with a light coating of kosher salt. Set the oven for 400°.
  8. If using stoneware, put the bread in with the cover on for 25 minutes, then remove the top and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the top is nicely browned. If you don’t have the covered stoneware, bake for 20 minutes, then cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the top of the bread from burning and bake for another 10 minutes.
  9. Take bread out of oven and let cool completely before cutting.
  10. Enjoy!