Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread…

So after making my pumpkin cream cheese sweet bread I had some leftover pumpkin puree. Since  I didn’t want to waste it and the sweet bread was such a big hit I thought I’d try making another type of sweet bread using the leftovers.

What I like about this bread is it combines some of my favorite Fall flavors – pumpkin, cranberry and orange. Then you throw in a little chopped pecans and you’re in sweet bread heaven.

So let’s talk some pumpkin cranberry nut bread…

Cover the cranberries with orange juiceLesson Learned 1 –   Plump the dried cranberries for even more flavor: I had a bag of cooking and baking julienne sliced cranberries and I was able to give them an extra body and boost by soaking them in warm fresh orange juice. Yum!

In a microwavable bowl I just poured the juice of one large orange over a half cup of the cranberries, put plastic wrap over the bowl, slit the wrap to vent and heated the mixture for 45 seconds.  Then I let the mixture sit covered in the plastic wrap for at least 5 minutes and voila, plumped cranberries. You may have done this process before with raisins, and it works the same for dried cranberries. Plus it gives the cranberries an extra boost of orange flavor.

Lesson Learned 2 – I adapted this recipe from a muffin recipe: Almost any muffin recipe can be adapted into a sweet bread recipe. You just have to remember to bake it longer. I took the guess work out for you. I started checking the bread at 30 minutes and wound up baking it for an additional 15 minutes, checking the loaf every 5 minutes. My determination is, based on your oven and where you live, the bread should be baked for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dryLesson Learned 3 – You don’t need any mixer for this recipe:  Just combine the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until just combined – don’t over mix. It couldn’t be easier.

This bread is incredibly easy to make. So if you’re looking for a great Fall treat that’s full of flavor and requires hardly any effort on your part, this is the recipe for you! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread…

  • Servings: 14-16 slices
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used cooking and baking cranberries, julienned)

The juice of one large orange

2 cups flour, plus 1 Tbs. for high altitude

2/3 cup granulated sugar, measure slightly less for high altitude

1 Tbs. pumpkin spice blend

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup milk, you can used reduced fat milk

2 extra large eggs

The zest of one large orange

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350. Zest the orange. Cut the orange and juice it. Place the cranberries in a microwavable bowl and pour the orange juice over them. Take plastic wrap and cover the top of the bowl, cutting a small slit in the center to vent the steam. Microwave for 45 seconds. Set aside and let the cranberries steep for at least 5 minutes.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, pumpkin spice blend, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the chopped pecans. Drain the cranberries and put them in another large bowl. Add the somewhat cooled melted butter (you don’t want the eggs to scramble) the canned pumpkin, milk, eggs and orange zest. Stir until just combined.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the bowl. Mix with a spoon or spatula until just combined.

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 4 loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula making sure the batter has reached into all corners and the top is even.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf rest in the loaf pan for 15 minutes then remove it to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread

 Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread

Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Sweet Bread…

It’s that time of year, my favorite time of year – Fall. I love everything about Fall, the cooler crisp weather, the fabulous colors, the onset of professional football, but most of all I love the food of fall. Whether it be a good ole pot of chili, a pot roast filling the house with fabulous smells or just the thought of cranking up that oven and making something sweet or savory, Fall is definitely the best time of the year for food and fun in my opinion.

And when it comes to Fall, undeniably the most popular gourd of the season is the pumpkin. Not only is it great in recipes but it also serves as one of the primary decorations that signals the coming of Halloween. So as I was sitting on my deck the other day enjoying an early morning cup of coffee and enjoying the Fall weather, I decided to make something with pumpkin in it.

Breakfast Al Fresco

Now I am far from a purist. I had absolutely no intention of cutting up a pumpkin and processing it to get some pumpkin puree. I simply turned to the canned variety. The result was absolutely fabulous. This time I took my creation to work, and it was gone within 20 minutes, so I think you’re really going to like this one.

So let’s talk pumpkin cream cheese sweet bread…

Cream Cheese FillingLesson Learned 1 – Make the cream cheese filling first: With any recipe that has filling or an internal swirl, I find it easier to make the filling first. A lot of recipes have you make the batter and then the filling. I think once the batter’s done, it makes more sense to move on to assembling the bread versus making the filling and letting the batter sit. Just remember to make sure your cream cheese is room temperature before making the filling. That way you’ll have a silky smooth batter without lumps.

This recipe makes a generous amount for the filling. I really like that the cream cheese filling is a major part of the cake and the contrast between it and the dark pumpkin batter is pleasing to the eye. This sweet bread is not only delicious but delightful to look at as well.

The wet ingredientsLesson Learned 2 – You don’t need a stand mixer for this one: I made the pumpkin batter in a stand mixer and used a hand mixer for the filling. You really only need a hand mixer. The wet ingredients combine easily and you fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients by hand. So don’t pull out the stand mixer for this one.

Lesson Learned 3 – Dividing the batter: Normally recipes like this tell you to divide the batter into fourths or thirds with the larger percentage going on the bottom and the smaller on top of the filling. I think I divided it by three-quarters to one quarter and I was really nervous that I did not have enough batter to put on top of the filling. At one point I even pulled out a butter knife and meticulously kept moving batter from the center of the pan to the edges. I felt the amount of batter around the edges was dangerously thin and at one point I just thought, oh well, what will be will be.

To my surprise, and as is verified in the pictures, the amount I had on top was more than enough. I forgot the batter has leavening agents (baking powder and soda) and that made the batter on top rise higher than I ever expected.

My advice here is to be careful. I think I’d have felt more comfortable with a slightly larger amount of batter to spread on top. But if for some reason you find yourself in the same situation as I was, don’t worry. I probably had the least amount of batter you can have on top and the bread turned out beautifully.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Sweet Bread

Lesson Learned 4 – The challenge of knowing when it is done: Because this sweet bread has a cream cheese layer, it can be difficult to determine when it is done. Inserting a toothpick and expecting it to come out clean can be misleading, since the cream cheese will not set in the same way as the batter.

Also, depending upon your oven, the top and the sides can cook faster than the center. So, here’s what I did. I checked the bread after 30 minutes. I felt that the top and sides were cooking faster and so I tented the bread with foil making sure the foil did not touch the batter. I baked it for another 20 minutes tented and then I took off the tent. The center still looked a little too jiggly for me and so I removed the foil and baked it for another 5 minutes and then took it out of the oven. The sweet bread turned out perfectly.

Remember everyone’s oven is different. I also live in high altitude and so things normally take a little longer to bake. Start your overall time at 50 minutes and go from there. If it looks too jiggly in the center, let it bake a little longer. It sounds harder than it actually is, but believe me the end result is worth it.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Sweet Bread…

  • Servings: 10-12 Quarter Inch Slices
  • Difficulty: Easy-Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

Cream Cheese Filling

1 extra large egg, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tbs. flour

Sweet Bread

1 extra large egg, room temperature

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup sugar (7/8 of a 1/4 cup for high altitude)

1/4 cup coconut oil (in its liquid state)

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup flour (plus 1 Tbs for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a hand mixer, mix all the cream cheese filling ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

For the batter: In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. In another large bowl mix together (using a hand mixer) the remaining ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently fold them in using a wooden spoon or spatula. Continue until just combined. Do no over mix.

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 4 inch loaf pan with baking spray. Pour in 2/3 of the batter mixture. Using a spatula, smooth out the mixture making sure it has spread to all sides and corners.

Pour the filling mixture on top, smoothing it out to reach all sides and corners. Add the remaining batter mixture on top of the filling. With a round edge knife or frosting spreader, smooth the remaining batter over the filling, making sure it reaches all sides and corners and covers the filling.

Bake for 50-55 minutes until cake it set. Half way through the baking process if it appears the sides  and top are cooking faster than the center, tent the loaf pan for the remaining baking time.

Let the sweet bread cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing it. Let it cool completely before slicing.

The Layering Process

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Sweet Bread

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Sweet Bread

Banana Bread With Cream Cheese Frosting…

There’s nothing as comforting as the smell of banana bread baking in the oven. I love banana bread and have tried various recipes that produced marginal results. But now I think I’ve found my go-to recipe and I want to share it.

One of the problems I’ve had with banana bread is wanting to make it but not planning on having ripe bananas on hand to do so. C’mon, how many of you actually plan on having ripe bananas on hand? Quite often banana bread is an after thought when you have ripe bananas and don’t know what to do with them. Personally I am not a big banana fan. I’ll eat them in banana bread or a banana split but that’s about it. So normally I do not intentionally have bananas around the house.

But I’ve discovered over many years of making banana bread that ripe bananas actually make a huge difference in the flavor of the bread. When bananas get ripe, they release their natural sugars which intensifies their flavor. It’s actually amazing. Try making this recipe with unripe bananas and then with ripe bananas. You will be amazed at the difference! But what do you do when you want to make banana bread but can’t find ripe bananas at the store (and I’ll clue you in, you probably never will). I solved that dilemma in a very simple way which I will share in my lessons learned.

IMG_4103Lesson Learned 1 – You can always have ripe bananas on hand: It’s really rather simple. Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the bananas on a baking sheet and keep them in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Start checking them after 5 minutes. You want the skins to be nice and dark like in the picture to the left. I checked my bananas at 5 minutes and they just had a couple of brown spots on them. I checked them again 3 minutes later and they were almost there and finally after an additional 2 minutes they were the perfect dark color. The amount of time you’ll need to get the bananas to brown as shown in these pictures will depend on your oven and altitude.

IMG_4110

I can’t stress enough the difference this makes in the flavor of the bread. It only takes a few minutes but the end result is so worth it. The picture above shows what the banana looks like after this process. Simply peel the bananas, put them all in a bowl and mash them. It will take no effort to do so as the bananas will be delightfully soft and perfectly ripe.

Lesson Learned 2 – The basics for any moist sweet bread (or cake): I know I’ve shared this before but it bears repeating. When making a sweet bread or a cake there are a few basic keys to success: 1. Take the time needed to cream the butter and sugar. I’ve found most cooks short change this step and it’s essential for having a moist sweet bread. It can take 5-7 minutes to cream the butter and sugar properly. The end result should be a light color and the mixture should look fluffy and creamy. 2. Use room temperature eggs. Room temperature eggs mix more thoroughly into a batter. Forgot to take your eggs out of the refrigerator before baking? No worries – click on “this link” for a down and dirty trick to get room temperature eggs in just 5 minutes. 3. Don’t over mix the batter. Once you put the dry and wet ingredients together, just combine them. Once they are fully incorporated into one another, STOP! Do these 3 simple steps and you will have a moist sweet bread every single time.

bananabread

This bread would be delightful on it’s own but it goes over the top when frosted with my cream cheese frosting. Either way, you will have a great go-to banana bread recipe that is quick, easy and every so flavorful. Enjoy!

Banana Bread With Cream Cheese Frosting…

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Sweet Bread:

1/2 cup room temperature butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

4 ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter softened,

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature

3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1-2 tsp. vanilla (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or you can use non-stick organic cooking spray) an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (5-7 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir only until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it. Let cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING:

Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add confectioners sugar and beat on a low speed until combined and then on a high speed until smooth. Spread on cooled bread.

 IMG_4228

Cranberry Orange Pecan Sweet Bread…

It’s cranberry time of year again! I so love cranberries. Not only do I make a simple but killer homemade cranberry sauce  for the holidays, but I enjoy baking with cranberries – they have a tartness that lend themselves well to making delicious breads, pies and cookies. So this past week when I saw my first bag of cranberries at the grocery store I just had to buy them and bake something.

IMG_1318Years ago I used to buy box mixes to make cranberry bread. No more. It is so easy to make it yourself and I like the fact that you control what goes into it. Box mixes have become a thing of the past for me. If I can’t make it fresh, I don’t make it.

This particular recipe I did not find on Pinterest. This time I did a Google search and looked at various cranberry sweet bread recipes and their ingredients. A couple of things intrigued me about the recipe I chose. First, it used buttermilk in the batter and I’ve found that buttermilk tends to give you moister cakes/breads. Second, you don’t need a mixer for this recipe so no need to drag out the heavy KitchenAid, and I was loving that. The original recipe called for the bread to be glazed. I did not glaze my bread but I will include the glaze recipe in case you want to try it.

Recipe Rating: A+ This recipe is easy to make, and the combination of ingredients brings out the full flavor of the cranberries, pecans and orange zest – a killer combo in my estimation.

IMG_1415Lesson Learned 1 – Weighing Ingredients: I’ve read so many recipes where the author spoke of the importance of weighing ingredients, specifically flour. I never thought much off it. Normally I make sure my flour is aerated in the canister (swirling a knife in it does the trick) and then scoop out what I need and level it off. This recipe calls for 2 cups of flour or 250g. I recently purchased a kitchen scale and thought I’d try measuring the flour instead. I was surprised at how much “extra” flour I had in my measuring cup when I weighed it. It was eye opening. If you can, invest in a kitchen scale and use it when a recipe lists grams. You’ll be amazed at how much extra you may be putting into your recipe.

I did not weigh the sugar because I know how to adjust that measurement for high altitude so the bread will not fall in on itself. I do that adjustment by sight, but I will include the grams measurement for the sugar and flour in the recipe for those who do not live in high altitude. Use those measurements when at all possible. It really does make a difference

IMG_1310Lesson Learned 2 – Mixing the streusel: I don’t know about you but I have a difficult making streusel even with a pastry cutter. The butter always seems to collect on my pastry cutter and not fall off. This time I cut the cold butter (and it needs to be cold) into small cubes and just mixed it with my hands. I pretty much got the desired consistency. Next time I think I will mix it in my small food processor and see how it turns out. I am including a picture of the consistency of the streusel that worked well on top of the cake.

I’ve made many different versions of cranberry nut breads over the years but I have to say that so far this one is my favorite. The tartness of the cranberries, the hint of orange from the zest combined with the pecans is heavenly. Next time I make this (and this will be made at least one time if not more this holiday season) I will try adding the glaze. But I can assure you, even without the glaze this is a fabulous sweet bread!

Cranberry Orange Pecan Sweet Bread…

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

Streusel:

1/4 cup (31g) flour

2 Tbs. (30g) sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 Tbs. (45g) cold, unsalted butter

Bread:

2 cups (250g) flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup (110g) chopped fresh cranberries (you can also use unthawed frozen cranberries)

1/2 cup (65g) chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)

1 large room temperature egg

1/2 cup (105g) light brown sugar (loosely packed for high altitude)

1/2 cup (100g) sugar (slightly less for high altitude)

1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (no substitutions)

1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil – I used vegetable oil)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbs. orange zest

Glaze:

1 cup (120g) confectioners sugar

1 -2 TBS orange juice

Orange zest to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8×4 pan with cooking spray. (I use a professional grade non-stick pan and do not have to do this. Invest in one if you can – it’s worth it).

First make the streusel by tossing the flour, sugar and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or food processor until you get a crumbly looking mixture. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt cranberries and nuts together. Set aside. In another bowl whisk the egg and sugars until well combined with no lumps. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and orange zest.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir together until combined being careful not to over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Add the streusel on top and press it gently into the batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the bread from the pan.

This bread is great without the glaze. If you choose to glaze it, mix all of the glaze ingredients together and pour on top once the bread has completely cooled.

cranb IMG_1361

IMG_1380

Glazed Strawberry Bread…

NOTE: Here’s my second in a series of re-blogs while I’m in the throws of selling/buying and moving. I hope to be back online with one new recipe a week starting at the end of July. Until then, let’s revisit some of my more popular recipes! You’ve gotta try this one. It is simply fabulous!


It’s been a little longer than usual since my last post. The month of May has many “things” happening like birthdays, anniversaries and of course Memorial Day. I got a little caught up in all of that but now am back to a more normal schedule regarding this blog.

Cut The Strawberries Into Small Pieces

Cut The Strawberries Into Small Pieces

I don’t know about you but this season it seems like the strawberries are more plentiful, sweeter and cheaper. I’ve mostly been eating a lot of strawberries combined with blueberries and raspberries and mixed with greek yoghurt as a special breakfast treat. But I was also interested in finding a good recipe for strawberry bread and I think I’ve found just about the best one yet on a website called sallysbakingaddiction.com.

I liked this recipe for a variety of reasons which I will talk about in my rating and lessons learned. That being said, make sure you make this one – you will not be disappointed.

Rating: A+ to the nth degree! This is the highest rating I have ever given a recipe because in my mind it is the perfect one – it was easy to make, turned out perfectly the first time and the recipe was well written. Yahoo! This one gets the highest honors to date!

Wet And Dry Ingredients and Chopped Strawberries

Wet And Dry Ingredients and Chopped Strawberries

Lesson Learned 1: THE RECIPE. Read this recipe carefully because if you do it will turn out perfectly. In the original recipe, the author took great pains to include the little nuances that so many cooks consider basic knowledge and consequently omit. The recipe is very specific on what you should use not only to create a moist cake but to get it to brown to perfection. Bravo to this cook who took the time to include all of the information you need to know. The recipe I am writing below is my version which includes the original recipe and my adjustments for high altitude.

Lesson Learned 2: THE CORRECT SIZE LOAF PAN. The original recipe called for a 9×5 pan. I used an 8×4 and it worked out perfectly. As a matter of fact I would recommend using an 8×4 for this recipe as you get a taller bread by using the smaller pan.

Lesson Learned 3: OIL. The original recipe called for vegetable oil but I used coconut oil and it turned out beautifully. As a matter of fact, I would recommend using coconut oil if you have it. The cake turned out really moist.

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Lesson Learned 4: ROOM TEMPERATURE EGGS. What I absolutely loved in this recipe was a tip regarding using room temperature eggs. First of all, I’ve always heard you should use room temperature eggs in baking but I never knew why. I found out that room temperature eggs tend to mix more evenly than cold eggs, who knew? But here’s the greatest TIP: If you’re like me and never remember to take the eggs out before you start baking, just take your eggs, put them in a cup, cover them with warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Voila! You have a room temperature eggs!

Lesson Learned 5: A KITCHEN SCALE. Baking is not like cooking. You need your measurements to be exact in order to get the best results. I’ve found that to be especially the case with flour. If a recipe (which this one does) includes the weight of flour in grams, use a scale and measure the flour that way. It is so much more precise. TIP: If you keep your flour in a canister, take a knife and stir the flour to eliminate any compaction that may have occurred while sitting in the canister. Then put your measuring cup in, scoop the flour out and level it off at the top with your knife. That is another trick to get a more accurate amount of flour in your recipe, although using a scale is the most accurate.

Fresh Out Of The Oven...

Fresh Out Of The Oven…

Lesson Learned 6: COVERING THE BREAD IN FOIL. The recipe calls for loosely covering the bread with foil after the first 30 minutes of baking so the bread will not get overly dark. Great tip! I covered the bread after thirty minutes, baked it for another 20 and it still was not done but uncovered it and baked it for 10 more minutes and it came out perfectly.

Lesson Learned 7: THE GLAZE. This is perhaps the best glaze I ever tasted and I think the reason is that it’s made with heavy cream instead of just milk or water. One place where the recipe differed from what I experienced was in the amount of heavy cream to use. The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream, 1 cup of confectioners sugar and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. That combination gave me a ball of paste. I wound up using about 6 TBS. of heavy cream and 1 TBS of vanilla extract in order to get the consistency you see in the pictures. It tasted better than any glaze I’ve ever made. Heavy cream is definitely the key to a great tasting glaze.

Lesson Learned 8: MIXING. The recipe cautions not to over mix the batter in order to have a moist cake. This is absolutely true. Pay attention when mixing and just when everything is combined, stop! I was very careful not to over mix and the cake was moist and delicious.

My husband almost ate the whole loaf all by himself, that’s how great this bread is. It is so easy to make and so flavorful. I know you will thoroughly enjoy this recipe! You must try it.

Serving Suggestion

Serving Suggestion

Glazed Strawberry Bread…

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

BREAD:

2 cups (250g) flour

1 tsp. baking soda (1/2 tsp for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 large egg, room temperature

3/4 sugar (2/3 cup high altitude)

1/4 cup brown sugar (50g) not firmly packed (high altitude leave an 1/8 inch visible around the rim of the measuring cup)

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil (you can use melted coconut oil)

1 cup buttermilk (no substitutions)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup fresh strawberries cut in small pieces

GLAZE:

1 cup (120g) confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4-6 TBS heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (If you did not allow for a room temperature egg, place your egg in a container, cover it with warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes. If using coconut oil, put the oil in a pan, melt it and set aside to cool.)  Spray a 8×4 loaf pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until combined. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, granulated and brown sugars. Whisk until there are no visible lumps. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until there are no lumps. Do not over mix.

Mix the strawberries with 1-2 TBS of flour (this will prevent the strawberries from only staying at the top of the bread). Carefully fold the strawberries into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly.

Bake for 50 minute to 1 hour. Loosely cover the bread with foil after 30 minutes of baking. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Keep the bread in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it. Allow the bread to cook completely before glazing it.

Glazed Strawberry Bread

Glazed Strawberry Bread

Glazed Strawberry Bread

Glazed Strawberry Bread

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread…

Snowing on May 11, really? Just when you thought Spring had finally sprung here comes the frenetic rush to protect the rose bushes and the irises from the impending onslaught of freezing temperatures. Not much fun and I certainly hope we’ve seen the last of snow for a long while, but even so, when it snows and gets cold I’m conditioned to crank up the oven and bake something. I’m sure it comes from some childhood memories of how wonderful the house felt and smelled when the weather was cold and something was baking in the oven. So it’s ingrained in me whether it be December or May.

As the temperature dropped I decided to bake something but I wanted it to be easy while making the house smell divine. I found my answer on, you guessed it, Pinterest. Double bonus, I had all the ingredients already in the house so I didn’t even have to venture out in the cold. And once again I put my “self-proclaimed Pinterest recipe critic” hat on and started to make cinnamon crumb banana bread from a recipe I found on a website called littlebitsof.com.

Recipe Rating: A+++++ I recognize that unless stated recipes are not written to the specific needs of high altitude baking so I made some adjustments and it turned out beautifully. If I had to rate the recipe overall on how it was written I would not have given it as high of a mark and I’ll explain that in my lessons learned.

Lesson Learned 1: WRITING A RECIPE – As a non-intuitive cook I need to have things spelled out for me, at least for the first time I try a recipe. Once I get an initial “try” under my belt and am successful, then the rest is up to me. This recipe left out one very specific and important element that being the size of the pan to use. Loaf pans come in two traditional sizes, a 9 x 5 inch or an 8 x 4 inch. When using a recipe designed for a 9 x 5 inch pan in an 8 x 4 inch pan you can obviously encounter some potential differences – the two most typical being the loaf rising and spilling over the sides of the pan or the cooking time needing to be adjusted for the denser amount in the smaller pan. I will tell you up front, this recipe as written is probably for an 9 x 5 inch pan. I used an 8 x 4. I was lucky. The cake rose quite high but did not spill over but it took 15 minutes longer than what the recipe called for to bake. Please recipe writers, when writing your recipes be as specific as you can. How can you leave out the size of the pan in a recipe? I definitely was not happy about that. That being said, I thought the cake turned out pretty well, but had I been a cook just starting out I might not have been so lucky.

Also I’m not a big fan of recipes that don’t tell you how to do things systematically. For example, in my mind a recipe should indicate if an oven needs to be preheated right at the very beginning. I know it sounds picky but telling me at the very end that the loaf needs to go into a preheated 350 degree oven doesn’t cut it. If an oven needs to be ready once the batter is made, indicate that up front and not at the end.

The Crumb Topping

The Crumb Topping

Lesson Learned 2: THE CRUMB TOPPING – this is perhaps the best crumb topping I have made on loafs to date. It was easy to make, combined into crumbs well and looked as good as it tasted. This is definitely a crumb topping to use on a wide variety of sweet breads.

Lesson Learned 3: THE LOAF PAN – before I start I have to give a disclaimer that I work for Crate and Barrel. But even so, I would not sing the praises of a piece of equipment just because Crate and Barrel carries it. So I am not kidding when I say that the Pro-Line cooking and baking line carried by the store is, in my estimation, second to none. I have both the loaf pan and the baking sheet and I can tell you unequivocally that they are superior products worth the investment. These pans are commercial grade with a texture weave technology that bakes things beautifully while being totally non-stick. At first I didn’t even believe it myself, but when you can pour cake batter into a pan without pretreating it in any way and the cake comes out of the pan without any trouble and is evenly baked you know you have a good kitchen utensil. From the pictures you can see how nicely browned the loaf is and after it cooled for 15 minutes it came out of the pan with no trouble. These are great products and worth the investment, just saying. 

My Husband's Infamous Corner Cut...

My Husband’s Infamous Corner Cut…

Lesson Learned 4: NUTS – I would add nuts to this recipe, maybe a half cup chopped pecans or walnuts, whatever you have on hand. I think it would compliment this recipe well.

My husband is usually my best critic for my recipe attempts and lately he has created a unique way of sampling my baked goods. Once I tell him that I’m satisfied with the pictures I’ve taken for the blog he meticulously cuts out a corner of the cake for his taste testing. He never does a slice, just a hallowed out corner. I can tell if a recipe is really good when he goes for more. He very quickly went for more on this one so I highly recommend it to you.

The recipe below reflects elements of how it was originally written with notes about adjustments for high altitude. Enjoy this one – it’s a keeper!

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread…

  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1 extra large egg

1 cup sugar (make it a “light” cup for high altitude leaving an 1/8 inch visible at the rim)

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla (2 tsp. for high altitude)

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large overripe bananas, mashed

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp baking soda (1/8 for high altitude)

1 tsp. baking powder (1/4 for high altitude)

1 heaping tsp. cinnamon

Crumb Topping:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup all purpose flour

4 TBS. unsalted butter melted

1/2 heaping tsp. cinnamon

pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the 4 TBS. of butter and combine with the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt until it forms a course crumble. Set aside.

In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment beat sugar, egg and vanilla. Add the butter and beat until smooth and the butter is completely incorporated. Add the buttermilk and bananas and beat to combine.

Put the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl and whisk together. Slowly add these dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour in the batter. Crumble the crumb topping on top of the batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes (high altitude may take as much as 65 minutes) or until a toothpick put in the center comes out clean.

Right Out Of The Oven

Right Out Of The Oven

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread