Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

A healthier chocolate muffin

August 4, 2011

Banana Chocolate Muffins

Anna at Cookie Madness posted a recipe for Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins and I nearly went running to the kitchen to make them. The only problem is I don’t have apple butter on hand, I don’t have enough apples to make any, I don’t have applesauce to reduce, and I don’t have time to run to the grocery store. I didn’t let any of that stop me. I did have an overripe banana on the counter and I thought it might be okay in place of the apple butter.

I have a personal pet peeve about comments on blogs and recipe sites that say, “I made  your recipe but I changed this, that and the next thing and my results are different than yours. What did I do wrong”? Swapping out banana for apple butter is a major ingredient swap. I hoped it would work, but if it didn’t I could only blame my cavalier ways in the kitchen. (All that said, I love to read your comments, and am happy to answer any questions you might have… even if you change things up to suit your own tastes or what you have on hand.)

The muffins are relatively low in fat and the fruit adds to the sweetness in a tasty, healthy way. The white whole wheat flour adds to the nutritional profile and the chocolate chips and cocoa add a bit of decadence without being over the top.

How did they turn out? They’re very tasty and just moist enough. They’re tall with nice crowns, and they smell great! When apple season rolls around I’ll definitely make some apple butter and make these according to Anna’s recipe. In the meantime. Here’s how I made them.

The banana substitution made me concerned that they wouldn’t be as moist as they would be with apple butter. Let’s face it. There are a lot of differences between banana and apple butter. I added a little almond milk, and upped the spices and hoped for the best.

Cross section of Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Muffins (Adapted from Cookie Madness’ Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (114 grams)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (28 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of cloves
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (63 grams)
1/2 cup mashed overripe bananas (114 grams)
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 generous tablespoons vegetable oil (30-33 ml)
1/2 T. almond milk
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 6 silicone cupcake molds with release spray. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar, mashed banana, egg whites, vanilla, almond milk and oil together. Pour the dry mixture into the banana mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated. Divide batter equally among the cupcake molds. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

Hamburger buns again

July 13, 2011

50% White Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

A few weeks ago I made hamburger buns that we loved. They were easy to make and better than store bought buns by a long shot. With those buns under my belt I decided to give hamburger buns another go but replaced half of the all purpose flour with King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. We also loved these buns and like that the nutritional profile is slightly improved. They aren’t as light and fluffy as the all purpose flour batch, but they’re still very good, and with 50% whole wheat flour their slight heaviness is an acceptable trade off. We ate these with hamburgers, and used them for sandwiches, and I’m pretty sure my husband ate them out of hand as a snack on more than one occasion.

I like my buns on the small side, so I divided the dough into twelve pieces when it was time to shape them. For more normal size hamburger buns you’ll want to divide the dough into just eight pieces.

I weigh flour as much as possible when I bake. If you’re measuring with measuring cups, you want a combined total of 3.5 cups of the two flours.

50% White Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

3/4 to 1 c. lukewarm water
2 T. butter
1 large egg
7.5 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour
7.25 oz. King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat Flour
3 T. honey
1 1/4 t. salt
1 T. instant yeast

3 T. Melted butter for brushing on top

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir together. Use the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until you have smooth elastic dough. About five minutes.
Place the kneaded dough in a plastic container that has been lightly sprayed with spray oil and cover lightly. Place in a warm place and allow it to double in volume. This takes anywhere from 1-2 hours.
Take the risen dough and gently flatten it into a circle. Divide the dough into 8 or 12 pieces depending on how big you’d like your buns. Shape the dough pieces into round balls, and flatten slightly. The idea here is you want hamburger buns, not dinner rolls. You’re looking for slightly flattened not flat as pancakes. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with oil sprayed plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour. After an hour they should look puffy.
While the buns are rising preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Brush the buns with half of the melted butter.
Bake the buns for 12-14 minutes if your buns are small. 15-18 minutes if your buns are large. They should look golden. Remove the buns to a wire rack to cool. Brush them with the remaining melted butter while they’re still hot.

Hamburger Buns

June 25, 2011

Homemade Hamburger BunsThere are some things that cannot be explained. Why a woman who wasn’t planning on burgers for dinner would feel the need to make hamburger buns is  unexplainable. I made them anyway and have no regrets. They’re wonderful and I can’t wait to have them with burgers!

The recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I made the buns according to the recipe but used my bread maker on the dough cycle. One problem I had is that I used too much water. That’s not a problem with the recipe. I just over did it with the water and my dough was quite sticky and difficult to work with.  I wanted twelve buns but only managed to get eleven because I wasn’t willing to fuss with the dough any more than necessary due to the stickiness. They could have been prettier too if not for the sticky dough. Live and learn. Next time I’ll start with the lesser amount of water.

We love, love, love sesame seeds so I opted for the egg white wash and sprinkle of sesame seeds. They would also be great without them and just a brush of butter when they come out of the oven.

If you want to make these you’ll find the recipe here. Your friends and family will thank you!

Carrot Bread

April 6, 2011


Last night after dinner I wanted to bake. It wasn’t that I wanted a specific food, I just wanted to bake. The problem was that without wanting something specific it was difficult to settle on a recipe. Another hurdle was finding a recipe that used ingredients that I had on hand.  The final factor was I didn’t want three dozen cookies or an entire cake. I decided to log onto Cookie Madness to see if anything would grab me. The first thing I did was go to the section “Scaled Down Recipes”.  This carrot bread recipe was the first recipe that I saw and I had all the ingredients!

The bread is baked in two 3″x5″ loaf pans.  Just perfect for a household of two! The batter rises to make a nice dome, and the top has just a bit of crust. The slight crustiness might be my favorite part of the bread. Nuts, carrots, and spices on the moist inside. What’s not to like?

No mixer is required, but you do have to grate some carrots. Otherwise this comes together really fast. I chose not to make the icing and I don’t really think it needs it unless you’re looking for more of a carrot cake like experience. This worked well for me since I wasn’t looking for something super sweet.

You can find the recipe here.

English Muffins

July 16, 2010

English Muffins with raspberry jam

One of the nice gifts I received for my birthday was a set of English Muffins rings. I’ve always wanted to make them but had never taken the plunge. Receiving the rings removed one of the hurdles. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another English Muffin from the store. These are so much better! They are moist but not at all gummy on the inside. They have a nice thin outer crust, and they toast beautifully. The holes inside are not as big as those inside store bought English Muffins but if you fork split them there are plenty of nooks and crannies to hold the butter and jam. I’ll take the freshness and flavor of these any day, and I won’t miss the holes one single bit.

These were especially good with the homemade raspberry jam made by my husband.

The recipe can be found on page 125 of Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart.

Unsplit English Muffins

Cinnamon Goodness

December 16, 2009

Cinnamon Egg Nog SconesWhen I saw the recipe for Cinnamon Eggnog Scones on the Baker’s Banter blog I knew I would have to make them. The cinnamon chips and Cinnamon-Flav-R Bites were in my cupboard patiently waiting their turn to shine. They definitely shine in these scones. I only baked off a few of the scones and the remainder are nestled away in the freezer. Maybe I’ll bake them Christmas morning. They would be a wonderful way to start the day.

If you make these and use the Cinnamon-Flav-R Bites be careful not to soak them too long. Mine all but dissolved. I think I was doing too many things at once and left them soaking longer than I thought I did. It didn’t matter. The flavor was still wonderful. If you look at the photos at the Baker’s Banter Blog you’ll notice that theirs are much whiter than mine. That’s because of the melted cinnamon bits.

I might mention that these have a wonderful balance of spices, and don’t seem at all egg like to me. You see I don’t like egg nog in the least. In fact this is the first time I’ve ever purchased it. So, if you’re afraid of the egg nog like I was, don’t be. This is a great place to use it. The scones turn out with a moist but not wet interior and a melt in your mouth crust on the exterior. They are so much better than anything you can purchase at a store or coffee shop. I would make these again, and in fact will probably look for excuses to make them in the future. Just in case you’re wondering, I purchased organic egg nog. The ingredient list seemed a little less frightening to me.

You’ll find the recipe here.

New books and some bread

November 12, 2009
Struan 009


Last month I purchased several new books. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and American Pie both by Peter Reinhart, and My Bread by Jim Lahey. The books by Peter Reinhart really grabbed my attention. I love his ‘voice’.  I was especially taken with American Pie which reads as much like a novel as it does a recipe book. I read it cover to cover and waited for my copy of his new book Artisan Bread Everyday to arrive, and when it did I read it cover to cover enjoying every detail, tip and nuance. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some bread dough.

In Artisan Bread Everyday Mr. Reinhart stated that Struan is his favorite bread and that it was his best selling bread at his bakery. I was wanting to try something totally different than the breads I’ve enjoyed so much this past year from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day, or the variations of Jim Lahey’s No Knead and Almost No Knead breads. Struan seemed like a good place to start. I had almost all of the ingredients. The only thing I was lacking was some oat or wheat bran so I added a little more oatmeal.

The bread has unbleached flour, cooked brown rice, oatmeal, cornmeal, honey, brown sugar, salt yeast, buttermilk, and water. The ingredients are mixed and then worked only slightly before allowing to rest in the refrigerator for up to four days. I found this dough to be a pleasure to work with. It was somewhere between tacky and sticky, and after it’s rest in the refrigerator the loaves were very easy to shape.

I baked the first loaf at a friend’s house yesterday, and a group of us ate it with our lunch. I baked the second loaf  this afternoon and it was enjoyed by my husband and I with our dinner. This bread is going to be wonderful toasted. It’s just a tad sweeter than I usually make my bread, but with this bread that’s not a bad thing.

I highly recommend Peter Reinhart’s books. Over time I will probably read his other books as well, and I’ll definitely be trying more recipes from the books I already own.

The recipe for this version of Struan can be found on page 90 of Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart.

Update:  Friday morning. This morning I toasted some of this bread, and it was better than I had hoped it would be. It toasted beautifully. It was crisp and chewy at the same time. It’s about as good as toasted bread gets!

Banana Oat Muffins

October 2, 2009

These are fairly healthy stick to your ribs fare. They aren’t very sweet, and they’re not too high in fat. In other words they’re the kind of muffin you can eat for breakfast, or serve as a snack and feel like you’ve offered some good nutritious food instead of a cupcake masquerading as a muffin.

No doubt there are people who buy bananas specifically for baking, but when I bake with bananas it’s because I purchased too many and if I don’t bake with them or stick them in the freezer for smoothies they’re going to go to waste. I also had some yogurt to use up. You’d think with that combo that I would have made a smoothie and popped the rest of the bananas in the freezer, but I couldn’t let go of the idea of a banana muffin using yogurt. You could make these even lower in fat by leaving out the walnuts, but I wanted the crunch, and I’m starting to appreciate walnuts more than I did in the past. You could probably add in a few chocolate chips and have a muffin that tastes more like a treat.

I’d like to try some honey in these instead of the brown sugar. Next time….

Banana Oat Muffins 001

Banana Oat Muffins (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)

1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
3/4 c. ground rolled oats
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2-3 ripe bananas
1 egg
2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plain non-fat yogurt
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. (I used silicone cupcake liners and have learned NOT to spray them.)
Whisk together the first six ingredients. Process the oats in a food processor until you have a course flour. Whisk the oats into the other dry ingredients. Stir in the walnuts.
Break the bananas into chunks and process in the food processor. (I used 2 1/2 bananas) Blend in the yogurt, oil and the egg.
In a separate bowl beat the egg until it becomes white and foamy but not stiff.
Fold the banana mixture and the beaten egg white into the dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the muffin should come out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a wire rack until completely cooled.

September baking

September 30, 2009

Here we are observing the last day of September. It’s been a super busy month for me and I wanted to let you know that I’m still here and have good intentions of getting some baking related things posted to the blog. While I catch my breath I’ll let you know about some of things I’ve recently baked.

Earlier this month I mentioned that my two children both celebrate September birthdays. I managed to get my son’s birthday cake on the blog, but so far haven’t gotten my daughter’s cake on the web. She requested something “chocolatey” with “really good frosting”. I was tempted to make my “go to” chocolate cake from “Applehood and Motherpie”. The recipe came to me years ago via my sister-in-law who is originally from the Rochester, NY area. However, I was in the mood to try something new and different. If you’ve been reading this blog you know I try a lot of recipes from Cookie Madness, King Arthur Flour, Cook’s Illustrated, as well as a few other tried and true sources. The Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake on page 362 of Baking Illustrated won out, and we were all glad it did. The cake is smooth, rich, and chocolatey. The chocolate butter icing is the perfect compliment to the cake and from someone who doesn’t love frosting or icings that says a lot. Someone posted the recipe here.

Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake

Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake

Another thing I made to celebrate birthdays was another chocolate cupcake. This time I used the Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake recipe from King Arthur Flour. I liked these better than the cupcakes I recently wrote about from Food and Wine. The texture was better and I liked the chocolate flavor better. I was so happy to give them to my daughter to share with her bicycle racing friends. I was told that her team likes having a teammate whose Mom likes to bake.

Chocolate Cupcake from KA Flour recipe

Chocolate Cupcake from KA Flour recipe

Split view so you can see how nicely they dome.

Split view so you can see how nicely they dome.

This past weekend I made some of the best homemade pizza I’ve ever made. I ordered the Perfect Pizza Blend from King Arthur Flour and it’s almost like magic. I used the recipe provided on the bag of flour. The dough was so easy to work with and the crust was crispy and flavorful. I will definitely try to keep a supply of this on hand as we like to make our own pizza and their flour mixture truly made a difference in the end result. I don’t have any pictures of the finished product, but don’t hesitate to try it out for yourself.

Homemade bagels were also on the agenda this past weekend. We had guests to help us eat up the pizza and bagels so don’t worry about the two of us looking as round as pizza and bagels! The bagels were interesting. They tasted good, and the crust was thin and slightly crispy, but they seemed too moist. The best bagel I’ve ever had is a Bruegger’s Bagel. I understand that in the eyes of those who know their bagels, they don’t even count as real bagels, but in the upper midwest there aren’t a lot of good bagels to be had. The homemade bagels were very good, but they weren’t quite what I expected. I’ll try them again someday but I’m going to do a lot more research before I dive in again. I got the recipe here. Once again, I have no photos, but I did have happy guests with full tummys who were in awe that I could or would make homemade bagels for them.

Two weekends ago I made these Sticky Buns again to share with twelve friends for brunch one Sunday morning. I can’t recommend this recipe enough. They are so simple, and everyone loves them.

I’m going to be gone a lot in October, but I’ll be home just enough to do some baking so don’t forget to stop by and say hello.

My son the baker!

July 20, 2009
A freshly baked loaf!

A freshly baked loaf!

My son isn’t really a baker. He’s really a college student working a summer job and living on his own for the very first time. His current living situation is temporary so he’s not set up to bake, and yet he managed to make bread.

Our kids were raised on fresh baked bread from our bread machine. We knew it would be tough for them when they went off to college and had eat to other bread. It wasn’t long after our daughter went to college before she ‘needed’ a bread machine, and our son was on his own for about two months before he dove in making his own bread. Prior to that he was getting a pretty steady supply of baked bread from home.

He called a little over a week ago and said he wanted to make his own bread. I helped as much as I could over the phone and referred him to the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Banter blog where I knew PJ Hamel had recently written about helping her son bake his first bread. Click here to read PJ’s post and to get the recipe that was used to make the bread.

Our son managed to make the bread without measuring cups, or measuring spoons, and he used an empty juice can to measure liquids. I think there was a lot of eyeballing and guesstimating going on, and he still ended up with wonderful bread. He also didn’t have a baking sheet, or parchment paper, so he baked it in an oven proof skillet. Where there is a will there is a way!

When we went to see him this past weekend, he asked us to call when we were about 30 minutes away so he could treat us to hot fresh bread out of the oven. It was a real treat and I couldn’t be any prouder!

The recipe is super simple and made enough dough to keep him and others supplied with bread all week long. If you’re timid about making bread this a good way to try it out.