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Posts Tagged ‘bread’

This is a really great banana bread recipe from Nancy Silverton’s pastry book from La Brea Bakery. It’s really moist and flavorful. I substituted black walnuts for the pecans, and only toasted the regular walnuts. Black walnuts can be difficult to find but are well worth tracking down. If you’re from New England, you will recognize them as what makes that delightful and intoxicating turpentine- like smell when you run over them in the rain.

2/3 cup walnuts
2/3 cup pecans (or black walnuts)
4 bananas, mashed (Nancy has you mashing 3 to make 1 1/4 cups and using one whole banana for garnish. We made a half- recipe with 2 bananas and used them all mashed in the bread.
2 extra- large eggs
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 1/4 t baking soda
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t kosher salt (i used sea salt)
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
scant 1/4 t ground cloves
1 T poppy seeds (we used 1 T for our half- recipe. We love poppy seeds)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (we used coconut palm sugar, normally used in place of brown sugar but has no molasses flavor, so…)
1/4 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 and toast the nuts until lightly brown (if you use black walnuts in place of the pecans, only toast the traditional, English walnuts), about 8-10 minutes. Cool, chop coarsely, set aside. Turn oven up to 350.

Whisk banana puree, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and poppy seeds. mix on med-low until softened. Add sugars and turn up speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping sides as necessary. Add the flour and banana mixture in parts starting with the flour, mixing enough to just combine. Remove paddle and mix in nuts by hand. Pour into prepared loaf pan (I greased liberally with coconut oil and then floured). If you saved the 4th banana, cut 2, 1/4″ strips from the banana, lengthwise. Place on top, slightly interlocking the arcs. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes. We did a half recipe, which turned out to be about 40 minutes. Test with skewer, it should be not gooey. Don’t over bake!

Allow to cool in pan slightly, then turn out onto cooling rack. SLice and eat with butter, immediately.

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this morning i brought the baby in from the porch, fed it, and made english muffins.
i can’t remember for the life of me what inspired me, but oh my god they are good.
i guessed on the recipe, looking at a few different ones; i think the only change i would make is to add a bit more salt. i used 1 t and i should have used 1 1/2 t. you need to have baker’s rings to make english muffins.

first i made a sponge in the bowl of my mixer with 1 package of dry yeast, 1 T barley malt syrup, 2 cups of milk, 3 T canola oil, and 2 cups high- gluten bread flour. if i had whole wheat, i would have made a third whole wheat and the rest high- gluten bread flour. let the sponge rest for about an hour, until it’s puffy. the photo is not so appetizing, but you can kind of get a feel for the consistency.

add 2 more cups of flour, 1 1/2 t sea salt, and 2 cups of sourdough starter. if you have read previous posts, this is my “baby”; a starter i made using nancy silverton’s bread book. if you do not have a sourdough starter, i would recommend mixing 1 cup of water (about 78 degrees) and 1 cup of bread flour and leaving it out uncovered for a day.

mix with the paddle attachment until it’s stretchy and wet, but cleans the inside of the bowl. it will take a few minutes for the flour to absorb the water and will initially stick to the bowl. just be patient, you want a wet dough, it will give you better holes in your muffins; you know, to hold the butter!

sprinkle a marble slab or cutting board liberally with cornmeal. dump the dough into the middle, and spread it out with your hands until it has made a large disk about 3/4 ” thick. wet your hands so it does not stick. sprinkle with more cornmeal, then put a towel over it. let it rest until it’s puffy and flabby, about an hour and a half to two hours.

heat an iron skillet on medium- low heat and add a little bit of cornmeal in the bottom. brush the inside of your baker’s ring with melted butter, then cut out a piece of dough as if you were cutting out cookies. slide a metal spatula with a sharp edge or a bench scraper under the ring and dough. keep it tight and transfer to the skillet. try and keep dough from creeping out from under the ring. i scraped the excess off with my spatula. after you have as many as you can fit in the pan, spray the dough with water, then put a lid on the pan. allow the muffins to steam for about 5 minutes. you can check them, and add more water. they should puff up to about double in size and you should be able to tell that the dough is spongy and full of holes. i recommend brushing the inside of the lid with butter or oil, as sometimes when they rise they will hit the lid.

at this point i transferred them to a cast iron griddle [also with a bit of cornmeal] to continue the cooking so i could do another batch in the pan and make more in less time. when the muffins were nicely brown on one side, i turned them over. i gave them about three minutes on this side then removed the rings so i could do another batch.
factory work.

the griddle should not be too hot; you want the muffins to cook through without burning on the outside. you can also bake these in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, then flip them. i prefer using a skillet; the oven bakes them more evenly all over, like a roll, and the insides get dry. cooked on an iron skillet, the edges (and therefore inside) remain lighter as the top and bottom slightly brown. if you tried each method side- by- side you would observe a dramatic difference (although if you eat them right out of the oven simply slathered with butter the differences seem less significant).

it makes, well, a lot. about 18 or so. and don’t forget to split them with a FORK! don’t cut them.

[on the bay’s english muffin package it always said “fork split”. i always wondered if that meant you should split them with a fork, or they were already fork- split. i spent more mental energy on that then i care to admit. i almost wrote them a note. shouldda]

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popovers

these popovers have been a family tradition since i was a kid. they pair especially well with the sunday new york times and raging sage coffee. this is the smallest recipe and makes four smallish popovers. double for 6 large popovers.

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

beat 2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk [i use 1%]. mix in 1/2 cup of flour, 1 t salt, and a grating of fresh nutmeg. don’t over-beat once you add the flour.

melt 3-4 T butter.

drizzle about 1/2 T of the melted butter in each popover cup and brush inside to coat the entire inside of cup. you can use souffle dishes if you like, but the more vertical the dish, the higher the popover will be. they like to ‘climb’ the sides as they bake. beat the remaining butter into the batter, and pour batter into each dish, filling it a bit more than half way.

bake until they are tall and brown. run a knife around the popover if they stick, then serve with butter, jam, and honey. and coffee.

for a savory popover, add some chopped fresh thyme [optional] and grated gruyere cheese [about 1/4 cup] to batter, and sprinkle some grated [not powdered] parmesan cheese mixed with a bit of flour in the buttered cups. if you do a prime rib roast you can grease the cups with the fat from the roasting pan and bake while the roast rests. the popovers bake in about 45 minutes, but you could turn up the heat to 400 degrees and bake them a bit faster, just keep an eye on them.

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