Category Archives: Breads

Orange Spice Banana Bread

Orange spice banana bread.  It’s like regular banana bread, but sexier.  The kind of sexy that wears an old wool sweater and glasses.  The nerdy kind.

Despite all this, it’s also delicious.

My internet is also still quite unreliable, so this’ll be a short one.

Orange Spice Banana Bread

  • 2 ridiculously ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 C plain or vanilla fat-free yogurt (keep in mind that vanilla yogurt will be sweeter, and adjust accordingly!  I used vanilla.)
  • 1/4 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 t orange extract (optional)
  • 3 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C almond flour (or use two cups total all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t each cinnamon and nutmeg

Like most quick breads, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix the wet ingredients, add the dry, and pour into a greased/parchment papered loaf pan.

Here, I decided to top the loaf with whole walnuts.  That’s up to you, though I must say it made a really nice crunchy top crust.

Bake on the middle rack until an inserted skewer comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, about an hour.

Yum!  I’m by no means an expert at creating breads, but this one came out perfectly–dense and moist like any banana bread, but still light enough to eat two slices at once (or three, if you are Fritz).

The orange flavor is pretty subtle, and you could ramp it up a bit with more orange zest (or sub OJ for the skim milk?  More sugar there, though).

Perfect with a pat o’ butter, and I know exactly what my breakfast will consist of early tomorrow morning.

 

Actually, I’m not really sure.  Steel-cut oats have been calling my name for a couple of days, too.  But if I have those for breakfast, than a slice of this bread will definitely be a part of second breakfast (movie/book, anyone?). 

Tomorrow morning Fritz and I are heading to go to one of my top fall destinations, Westchester County (in NY), to go apple picking/pumpkin picking/hay riding/hot apple cider drinking/apple cider donut eating with some friends–and I can’t wait!  I’m confident I will return with at least a thousand photos (just kidding! Maybe…), and that the 67 degree weather tomorrow calls for boots.

Hallelujah.

Henry’s plans for tomorrow largly consist of this:

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Quick Norwegian Flatbread (and How to Make it Lunch)

You know when you wake up from a nap, and it feels so good to stretch out?

Henry knows all about that.  I call this The Morning Dance of the Cat:

It took me a little while to wake up this morning, too, but once I got my butt in gear, had a piece of peanut butter and banana toast, and drank my tea, I headed off to the gym.  Try not to be too impressed, but I ran 2.6 miles–quite an accomplishment for a real running-hater like myself.

Though I have to clarify–I hate the actual running, but it feels so good after. That’s why I keep doing it.

Anyway, once I got home, I had some lunchtime inspiration from my CSA box (no picture this week, sorry!) and the giant tub of hummus (best batch yet) that I made yesterday.  Sungold cherry tomatoes + hummus + herbs from the garden + flatbread = lunch.

Quick Norwegian Flatbread (from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 1 1/2 C rye flour
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
  • 1 C buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  While you are getting the ingredients ready, I’ll give you two short cuts that I used today.  One, to bring an egg rapidly to room temperature, let it sit in a cup of hot water for a minute.  Two, if you don’t have buttermilk, just combine some milk and a little lemon juice for a quick fix.

Combine the egg and buttermilk in the mixer.  Add the melted butter and mix again to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and pour them into the liquid, mixing until a dough forms.  Knead with the dough hook for a few minutes until smooth, adding pinches of flour if necessary to make the dough pull away from the bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces on a floured countertop, and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Traditionally, this is rolled into a circle, but I went with a more rectangular shape just ’cause it’s easier.  Transfer on a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven on the medium rack until browned on the bottom and lightly golden on top, about 15-2o minutes.

This was so delicious as is.  If you want to toss together a quick bread for dipping in soups, eating with hummus, or with jam and butter, this is a great choice.  So soft and the subtle rye taste is irresistible.

But I needed lunch.  I set one flatbread aside (in a ziplock bag), and got to work on the other.

I spread a nice layer of hummus over the top of the remaining flatbread, then sprinkled it with some lemon thyme from my herb garden.  I sliced a handful of cherry tomatoes, placing them cut-side up on top of the hummus, and sprinkled the whole thing with a bit of salt and pepper.  Just a few minutes under the broiler and voila!  Lunch is served.

Next time I’d spread the hummus all the way to the edges to keep them from browning too rapidly…and because hummus is just delicious.

These tomatoes from my CSA box are also super sweet–I can’t resist eating them whole, which is quite unusual for me, since I was never a big tomato fan.

In fact, as a child I threw up when my parents made me eat one, and they stopped making me try after that.  My feelings for raw tomatoes are definitely improving this year–but they are even better cooked.  On flatbread.  With hummus.

What else came in our CSA box this week?  Well, the size of the box is a little small this week, thanks to Miss Irene, but we still got some good stuff:

  • 2 acorn squashes (yes!!!!)
  • 1 pint of Sungold cherry tomatoes (that you’ve seen here today)
  • Red beets and their greens
  • Baby leeks
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Several big red tomatoes
  • 1 bag of green beans

Though it was a slightly smaller box, it was full of all of my favorite veggies, so I’m pretty excited to have our kitchen restocked.  I’m still trying to plan something to do with the cilantro (Fritz is not a fan), but most of it will likely have to be frozen.

Have a good weekend!

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Dill & Cottage Cheese Bread

So nice to have the temperature finally cool down a bit!  Fritz and I got up bright and early so we could get our laundry done and go to the gym before we have to really get serious about studying.

Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been working on running again.  I’ve never been a big fan of running, most likely because I’m just not very good at it–the furthest I have ever gone in one go is three miles.  And it was h-a-r-d.  I’ve always wanted to be a runner, because it’s an amazing form of exercise that is available to you any time, any place.  But…I’m just not good at it. Then last year I picked it up again, but did something to injure a peripheral nerve in my left leg–probably going too much, too soon.  After all, my body has never really been trained to run.

As I’m sure you can imagine, the burning down my leg combined with tingling and numbness in my feet which worsened as I sat through class did not encourage my running aspirations.

This year, after doing lots of exercises to get rid of the nerve problem (for the most part), I started thinking about running again.  Dang it, if a physical therapy student can’t train her body to run healthily, then who can?  So I started a new program that involves lots of stretching, strengthening targeted to specific muscles that I know are too weak (that’d be my glutes), and a very slow and steady running goal.  I started at half a mile, and added a tenth of a mile every time I worked out.  Running at a 10-minute mile pace means it’s only one more minute of running every time I add on.

So far, I’m at a mile and a half! Woo! It’s hard, but it’s not that hard.  My biggest problem with running is all mental–I have to distract myself from focusing on how much distance I’ve covered, otherwise, it’s torture.  And so far, no nerve problems.

Anyway, after my short run today, I was seriously craving some carbs (actually, I always crave carbs).  Luckily I made this light and fluffy but seriously savory bread yesterday!

Dill & Cottage Cheese Bread (from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

  • 1 C cottage cheese
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T dried onion flakes
  • 1 T fresh minced dill
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t butter, melted (don’t this until it’s about to come out of the oven)
  • dash of salt

Grease a casserole dish (1 1/2 quarts) or two bread pans–or one bread pan if you want one gigantic and oddly shaped loaf like mine.

In a saucepan, warm the cottage cheese over medium heat just until it feels warm to the touch.

In a mixing bowl, combine the warm cottage cheese, sugar, onion, dill, salt, baking soda, eggs, and yeast.  If you don’t have eggs at room temperature, just place them in a bowl of hot water for a minute or two until they warm up–it’ll help the bread to rise.  Add the flour 1/2 C at a time until a thick batter is formed–a very thick batter.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.  Once it’s ready, stir down the batter, and spoon it into the dish/bread pans. 

Cover the pans with waxed paper, being careful that the paper doesn’t touch the dough since risen dough may fall once the wax paper is removed.  Allow it to double in size again, about 45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 20 minutes before baking.

Bake the loaf on the medium rack until it is a deep brown, 40-45 minutes.  You may want to cover it with foil after a half an hour so it doesn’t brown too much.  When a toothpick is inserted, it should come out completely dry.  Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with a dash of salt.

Allow it to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. 

I think this might be my favorite bread I have ever made.  It tastes nothing like cottage cheese (actually reminds me a bit of an everything bagel), but is super light and fluffy.  And the savory flavor is to die for.

I toasted a giant piece for breakfast this morning and had it with two eggs on top.  So delicious!

Fritz isn’t quite as in love with it as I am (his loyalty remains with banana bread), but he has enjoyed several pieces today, so I think that’s enough confirmation for me.

So light! So fluffy!  I love me some dense, nutty, whole-grain breads, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change.

I’m off to try to get some studying done.

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Cinnamon Streusel Zucchini Bread

I am totally in love with the weekend.  Fritz and I zipped through quite a bit of our (lengthy) to-do list, and I still had time to do some reading, make this bread, and am now making pizza for dinner!

One is a veggie pizza with red sauce (broccoli and green onion from our CSA box) and the other is a white pizza with pesto, ham, and fresh-picked basil.  The pizza dough is resting as we speak and the pizza stone is heating up in the oven.  Sometimes it’s really nice to make dinner and not blog it–I can move quickly, not worry about making a mess, and also not care a whit that it’s raining outside and my light is rapidly disappearing.  Not to mention Fritz will actually get to eat hot food for once!

Today was also Fritz’s first time ever having zucchini bread–and now he is one step closer to being a real American.

Cinnamon Streusel Zucchini Bread (adapted from Oh She Glows) Cinnamon Streusel Zucchini Loaf Printable Card

  • 2 C flour–I used 1 C white and 1 C whole-wheat
  • 2 T wheat germ
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/3 C each raisins and chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 C shredded zucchini (just wash it, but leave the skin on)
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 C skim milk

For the topping:

  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 T butter

This is a quick and easy recipe to throw together, with an impressive taste.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and oil a loaf pan, then line it with parchment paper (makes it much easier to get the dang thing out).

I just love the way a loaf pan looks, all ready to go.  So full of possibility.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, raisins, and walnuts.  Give them a quick stir, then add the rest of the ingredients (except for the stuff for the topping…duh).  Mix until combined and relatively lump-free (I mean, there are raisins in there and stuff), then pour into the loaf pan.

For the topping, use a fork to squish all the ingredients around until they form large crumbs, then drop over the top of the bread batter.

Bake on a middle rack in your oven until an inserted skewer comes out dry and it is a totally gorg deep brown, about an hour.  Remove and cool before slicing (riiiiiight…).  My topping sank down a bit into the loaf while baking, which actually made for a nice suprise during the subsequent consumption.

Serve this baby with butter, and iced coffee left over from the dregs of your husband’s earlier pot.  Yum.  A new and rare indulgence.

I handed a plate with a piece of bread on it to Fritz while he was locked away in our bedroom studying, and he came dashing out of the room looking incredulous.  “Zucchini!”, he cried.  “Such a moist loaf with the glorious textural addition of walnuts!”

Or something like that.  Needless to say, he really liked it.

He’s a real American now.

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Whole-Wheat English Mini-Muffins

Happy Sunday, friends!  I love Sundays–because I’ve finished running errands earlier in the weekend, I have the entire day to relax and make a yeasty bread that needs to rise twice.  Due to my love (obsession?) with breakfast, I decided to make some whole-wheat English muffins.  And then I made them mini.

That way, you can have two, each with a different topping.  It feels more exciting that way.  But if you want, you can use the same recipe and make regular-sized ones.

Whole-Wheat English Mini-Muffins (adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2-2 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2 packages yeast (4 1/2 t)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/4 C skim milk, warm
  • 3 T butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • Cornmeal

There should also be an egg in there.  At the time this photo was taken, my egg was warming from fridge-temp to room-temp in a hot water bath.  Good tip, by the way–’cause you always want to bake with room temperature eggs, but who really has the foresight for those things?

In the mixer bowl of your beloved KitchenAid (or in a regular large mixing bowl, if you are less lazy), combine the 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour, the yeast, salt, and sugar, and stir to blend.  Warm the milk (don’t boil, but do make sure it’s almost hot), and add the butter directly to it to melt.  Pour the milk/butter mixture into the flour mixture and mix for about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and beat until smooth.

Mix in the remaining whole-wheat flour, 1/4 C at a time, until the dough is a “shaggy mass” (thanks for that descriptor, Bernard).  Change to the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  If you need more flour, add it in small amounts until it’s not sticky–but don’t go overboard.

Wrap the bowl in plastic and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour.

Punch down the dough and knead briefly, then let it rest for ten minutes.  Spread a small handful of cornmeal over the work surface, and roll the dough out until it is about 1/4″ thick (I kept mine a bit thicker, but I would roll out to 1/4″ next time for flatter muffins).  Cut into rounds–for my mini-muffins, I used a wine glass that was about 2 1/2″ across, but use a cookie cutter that’s about 4″ across for regular-sized muffins.

English muffin army.

Place a towel over the rounds and let them rise again until doubled in size, about another 45 minutes.  Turn the oven to 45o degrees 20 minutes before you estimate they will be done rising so that it can preheat.  Gently lay the muffins on a cookie sheet and bake on a middle rack for about 10-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through.  They’ll be a nice golden brown on the top and bottom when they are done.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack before tearing them apart and slathering them with butter and jam.  Once they’re cooled, stick ’em in the toaster the way you’d do with any English muffin.

Yum.  Not as many nooks and crannies as I expected, but that’s probably due to two things: 1) I used half whole-wheat flour and 2) I didn’t roll them out as thin as I should have, so they might have risen a bit differently.

Either way, still delicious (and they really taste just like an English muffin!).  You also can’t detect the whole-wheat flour at all.

I can’t wait to have one with peanut butter and one with raspberry jam for breakfast tomorrow–PB&J at its finest!

What’s your English muffin topping of choice?  Are you a PB&J kinda person like me, or a traditional butter and jam muffin eater?  Cheese?  Fresh fruit?  Honey or golden syrup?  Or an eggs and bacon guy like Fritz?

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Double Chocolate (Whole-Wheat) Banana Bread

(Ignore this: NYGKCEBBJVEG.  It’s a verification code for a website.)

Double chocolate whole-wheat banana bread.

It’s good for you, but it’s not.

There’s the banana and whole-wheat flour, but there’s also the chocolate and the oil and the sugar.

It’s called bread, but it tastes like cake.

You can eat it after dinner for dessert, or waaaaay after dinner for breakfast. 

It’s double chocolate whole-wheat banana bread!

Double Chocolate (Whole-Wheat) Banana Bread (adapted from this recipe at Former Chef)

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 3/4 C skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t instant mocha (optional)
  • 1/3 C cocoa powder
  • heaping 1/2 C dark chocolate chips/morsels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the wet ingredients in your mixer bowl and mix on medium until bananas are mashed (alternatively, mash them first.  You don’t have to be lazy like me). 

Here’s where the important guys come into play:

Add the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, mocha powder, chocolate chips) and combine until just mixed.  This should be more like brownie batter than bread dough.

Lick the spoon, and pour the batter into a sprayed bread pan.  Lick the spoon again.  Now the bowl.  Now steal another spoonful of batter from the pan.

Do this at your own risk.  There are eggs in there.  Raw ones. 

I’m willing to risk it.  I’m also willing to forgo lunch, because at this point I am full of banana bread batter.  Totally worth it.

Bake on the middle rack for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Don’t over bake it, ’cause no one likes dry banana bread, especially when it’s already dark brown.  Also, don’t mistake melted chocolate chips for wet dough on the toothpick.  Allow to cool, and run a knife along the edges and flip out of the pan. 

Technically, you should allow it to cool completely before slicing, but who am I kidding?  Your husband has probably been finding excuses to linger in the kitchen for the last 30 minutes (“oh, I’m just grabbing a, uh, towel to wipe down this here, um, counter”).  As if he’s ever wiped down a counter in his entire life.

So, cut him a slice.  Let him eat it warm.  He’ll pledge his undying, eternal, unconditional love to you. 

Allow him to eat another slice.  He may even wipe the counters down for you.

Yeah.  It’s really good.  Very moist and unexpectedly rich.  At first taste I thought it was a bit bland, but I think it’s because I tried it right out of the oven.  When I went for the second taste about an hour later…BAM!  Full flavor.  First intense chocolate, then a tiny bit of coffee, and finally the sweet, sweet banana carrying it all.

Definitely going in the top list of breakfast breads to make next time I’m invited to a brunch (hear that? Invite me!) .  And yes, there’s already a list for that.

As an aside, I am just getting over being sore from the gym class I went to on Friday.  Same class I go to every Friday, and usually don’t get sore from.  Must have thrown myself hardcore into that workout–my pecs, quads, adductors and hamstrings were on fire yesterday!  So weird.  I’m also planning on starting up yoga again now that my nerve problem seems to have settled down–I just have to remind myself that it’s not a competition and I don’t need to overstretch just to be the best in the room.

It’s all about what’s good for your body.  As far as reaching my happy weight–getting even closer to my goal (just goes to show–you can eat double chocolate banana bread, sweet potato cinnamon rolls, and have your chocolate chip cookies, too, as long as you balance, balance, balance!).

Wish me luck on my finals tomorrow!

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Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Today was such a beautiful day!  Fritz started opening up the pool and we grilled chicken for our dinner salad today–summer’s on its way!  Even finals can’t get me down on a day like today.

Unlike winter midterms, it’s easier to not care about my finals because the weather is just so darn nice.  Which is probably not a good thing (but only three weeks to go ’till I’m a third year!)

I took a nice long study break to make a recipe that I found on FoodGawker (or TasteSpotting…I can’t remember which) for sweet potato cinnamon rolls.  The site is called So Good and Tasty, and there are some beautiful photos on there that you should go check out!

Rejoice with me.  They came out fluffy, sweet, orange, and fluffy.  Did I say fluffy already?  Lightest, finest (is that a word?) cinnamon rolls ever–you would never guess they are made with whole-wheat flour.  Or sweet potatoes, for that matter.

When I say you should make this recipe immediately, I really mean it.  I’m not cryin’ wolf.  Go make them.  This is a “healthy” treat that actually tastes incredibly decadent.  The best part?  It makes enough that I froze two more batches of unbaked cinnamon rolls, all ready for the lucky person that sleeps over next (Eber–that might be you!).

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls (makes 16-24 rolls)

  • 1 C milk, warmed
  • 4 t yeast
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 C mashed cooked sweet potato (hello, microwave!  I used 3 1/2 small sweet potatoes)
  •   2 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 1/2 C cinnamon sugar (I didn’t measure how much I used–this is a rough estimate)

Combine the milk, yeast, and maple syrup in a bowl and set it aside until the yeast gets nice and foamy.

Keep an eye on it, though.  Don’t be like me.

In the mixer, combine the sweet potato, olive oil, salt, egg and 1 C of flour (I started with the wheat flour).  Mix until fluffy (see?  this is where the airiness begins!).

Add the yeast combination to the mixer bowl and mix on low until it’s all blended.  Starting with the rest of the whole-wheat flour and finishing with the all-purpose, add the flour slowly until the dough forms a ball and cleans the side of the bowl–it’ll still be sticky.  Switch to the dough hook.

Let the dough knead for 8-10 minutes until it’s smooth, adding more flour if you need.  Cover the bowl and let sit for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half.

One at a time, roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s about 16 inches by 10 inches.  Spread the softened butter over the top and cover with cinnamon sugar.  Starting at the long side, roll it up tightly and press the seam together.  Cut gently into sections–8 if you want giant rolls or 12 if you want smaller ones.  I did both–12 big ones and 6 small ones.

Arrange in an oiled baking dish (I put 6 large ones in a pie pan, and 6 small ones in a muffin tin), leaving space in between each one.

Cover, and allow them to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown–be sure not to overbake, because they’ll dry out fast.

While they are cooling, mix together some icing by combining a little milk, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar until it’s nice and thick.  Drizzle over the top and serve warm.

SO GOOD!

So good, they needed capslock to properly describe them.

One last thing–how can I get any studying done when there’s a cat sleeping on my orthopedics notebook?

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Multigrain Bread

Seeing the footage from Japan really puts our lives in perspective, doesn’t it?

Suddenly studying doesn’t seem so bad anymore.  Even better that I have an apartment to do it in, and I know where all my family members are–and there is fresh bread to eat.

I baked this bread over the weekend, and it has held me over for the last few days when I need a quick carb pick-me-up (and it tastes amazing, really amazing with a rooibos tea spread that I bought at Wegman’s a while ago).  Between that and the sun finally coming out, I might be able to muster up enough energy to get going on the last few midterms I need to study for.

This recipe is from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, and I chose it simply because I was impressed by the sheer amount of whole grain he managed to cram into it.  It makes three loaves, and it is absolutely perfect to toast and eat with peanut butter, rooibos tea spread, butter, bananas, honey, mint jelly, eggs, and blackberry jam.  I know because I’ve tried it all.

Multigrain Bread (three loaves)

  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 1 C barley flour (you can grind your own)
  • 1 C millet
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 C hot water (120-130 degrees)
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 3 packages dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 C mashed potatoes (yes, really)
  • 2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 C rye flour
  • 2 C all-purpose flour

Line three (or two if you want really tall loaves) loaf pans with wax paper, and grease them.  Make the mashed potatoes or better yet use up leftovers (plain–no butter or sour cream, please).

In the mixer bowl, measure the oats, barley flour, millet, brown sugar, and salt.  Pour in the hot water and canola oil and mix.  Add the yeast and allow it to dissolve in the liquid before adding the mashed potatoes.

Next, add the whole-wheat and rye flours, and mix for two minutes with the flat beater.  Change over to the dough hook.  While the mixer is running, add the all-purpose flour 1/2 C at a time until the dough forms a “shaggy mass”, pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  Once it is all added, if the dough remains sticky you can add sprinkles of flour, but don’t go overboard.  Knead the dough (using the dough hook) for eight minutes.

Place the dough into a large, greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature until it has doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

A seriously large bowl.  I had to switch to a bigger one because I didn’t anticipate the dough rising this much.

Turn the dough onto a floured table and shape it into three loaves.  Place into the pans, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let it rise again (another hour).  When you have twenty minutes left to rise, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake on the middle rack until browned, about 45 minutes.  Turn out one of the loaves and tap on the bottom–if it sounds hollow, then they’re done.

Allow them to cool before slicing.  If you can.

The absolute best part about this bread (other than the yeasty fresh-bread taste, obviously) is that the millet gives each slice an amazing crunch.  Totally unexpected.

Best thing since…well.

I kept one loaf out and froze the others.  Just wrap in plastic wrap and/or freezer bags first.  When you take them out, make sure you allow the bread to reabsorb any water that forms inside the bag before you start slicing it and toasting it, otherwise you’ll have a really dry sandwich.

Fritz is presenting his research today in San Diego–I wish I was there too, but at least the sun managed to break out from the clouds here so I’m not missing out on all the fun.

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Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks (South African)

It’s amazing how much the weather affects my mood.  When I woke up this morning it was gray and rainy out.  I did my usual Friday morning thing (straightened up, made a giant breakfast, did the dishes, and sat down to read) and even though that routine usually fills me with a huge sense of peace and relaxation, I felt weirdly…melancholy.  An hour or two went by, and as the rain stopped and the sun came out I was back to my regular baking, errand running, procrastinating, happy self.  And it was 100% due to the sun.  It was gorgeous enough to open the windows while I baked–and that is probably my favorite thing ever.

It also might have had to do with the green-themed care package that arrived in the mail today stuffed with goodies from my parents.  Thin Mints really just have a happy way about them, and my mom told me she has a new problem called she can’t stop buying me cute and functional things for my kitchen.

Mom and Dad found this scarf for me in Chinatown last time they were in NYC for business

Now that is a problem that I can live with.

I’ve mentioned before that the hubs is South African, and he has begged me for rusks for a few weeks now.  Rusks are a hard, twice-baked bread that is like biscotti in that it is dipped in tea or coffee to soften before eating.  Usually rusks are a little less refined than biscotti, too–salty buttermilk or rough bran often flavor these amazing snacks.

I have become a huge fan of rusks in the last few years, and since Fritz has also been asking for banana bread (he gets excited when he spies a few spots on a banana), I decided to go out on a limb and combine the two!

Start off with banana bread:

Whole-Wheat Banana Bread (you could use any banana bread recipe you like, but I’d aim for a hearty, less sweet version like this one I adapted–you want to complement your tea, not overwhelm it)

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C brown sugar (I used Indian maple sugar)
  • 1/2 C milk (I think these would be even better if you substituted buttermilk here)
  • 2 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.  Start by combining the dry ingredients, then adding the wet ingredients and mixing until a smooth batter forms.  Like I’ve said before, I like to slice the bananas into the mixer and then let the beater mash them a bit–then there are some chunks of banana left for discovery.

Pour into a greased loaf pan–I topped it with a crushed granola bar for some extra texture, but that’s optional.  Bake on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  The top and edges will be a nice, dark brown because of the whole-wheat flour.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before you turn it out and slice it.

If you are just making banana bread, stop here.  Otherwise–turn the oven down to warm/200 degrees and get ready for rusks!

Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks

Slice the bread into thick slices, and divide each slice vertically into four pieces for thin, rectangular shapes.  Place the rusks on a dry baking sheet and dry out in the oven, rotating every hour or so to prevent them from burning.

It helps to keep the oven door propped open a bit to let the moisture escape.  The drying should take 3-6 hours for one loaf, depending on how hot your oven is and how thinly sliced the rusks are.  Once they are dry, cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Serve with tea or coffee.

Fritz nearly fainted with happiness when he discovered what was cookin’ in the oven all day.

Even Henry couldn’t wait for these rusks to finally be finished:

You’ll notice that Henry is seated on a scratching pad that he has decided is better suited as a throne–he sits on it all day long.  Gotta love that catnip.

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Barley Banana Bread

Something horrible almost happened to me today. 

I was standing at the stove making lunch, with a bottle of canola oil in one hand and a mug of freshly brewed green tea in the other.  You may know where this is going.

Only when the bottle of canola oil actually touched my lips did I realize that I was not actually about to take a sip of my green tea.  Thank the good Lord that I realized in time, because I shudder to imagine what a big swig of canola oil would feel like sliding down my throat.  Yeecch.

So, to help myself overcome the horror of what might have been, I decided to talk to you all about banana bread.  But not just any banana bread.  The best banana bread I have ever had!  From the mouths of babes (not the young kind, the sexy-dental-student-husband kind):

I will never be able to look at banana bread the same ever again!

And it’s healthy, too!

Barley Banana Bread  (adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick), at room temp
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 C brown rice flour
  • 1/2 C wheat germ
  • 1 C barley flour (I ran out of barley, so I used oat flour to make the full C–and don’t forget you can grind your own barley and oat flour!)
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and shortening.  Break in the eggs and mix until light and fluffy.

Next, break the bananas into small pieces and mix them into the shortening mix.  You can mash the bananas first, but I like finding chunks of banana throughout the bread.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Line a bread pan with greased wax paper.  Here’s a little baking tip–if you are cooking with butter or shortening that comes in a wrapper, don’t throw it away!  Use the wrapper to grease the insides of your pan.  Easy peasy!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and use a rubber spatula to push the batter up to the edges of the pan.  This is to compensate for the “crown” that comes from the rising in the oven.

Place the pan into the oven (middle rack) and cook until a wooden toothpick comes out clean, about an hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes, then turn the pan on its side and pull the loaf out by tugging on the wax paper.

As with most banana breads, it tastes even better the second day–but likely won’t last that long.

This banana bread was spectacular.  It was incredibly moist, and had a sweet, grainy texture that was completely addicting.  We ate half the loaf as soon as it came out of the oven.

My only complaint was that it was a tiny bit crumbly, especially before we let it cool down completely.  That actually might have been our fault.

This isn’t a completely healthy recipe (1 cup of sugar and a stick of butter!), but it’s definitely better for you than your standard white-flour banana bread–and I promise you that it tastes better.  Far better.  And it does pack a ton of fiber and omega-3s.

Today marks the end of the easy part of the semester.  As of tomorrow, I need to start studying a little bit every day, so the frequency of my blog posts may go down a bit–but not too much.  A girl needs her distractions.

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