Category Archives: Baking-Specific

Summer Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

I am having a great summer.  My summer job (at a summer-long camp for boys) keeps me feeling like I am outdoors most of the day, even though I work in the office.  I have had an eerily good run of days off with excellent weather; it always seems to rain on days when I’m working, when it rains at all.  My brain is finally relaxed after nine months of intense social work classes last school year, and (dare I say it) perhaps I’m even ready to dive back into all that again in a few weeks.

To symbolize this wonderful summer, I wanted to make a special dessert this weekend.  I’ve been combing my 44 (and counting) food blog feeds for pie recipes.  I don’t know, for some reason I just have pie on the brain.  My friend Tony recommended key lime pie, which I very nearly chose this weekend (I have been eyeing this recipe from Baking Bites).  However, I was feeling a little more loose, a little more flexible, perhaps from all the So You Think You Can Dance I’ve been watching lately.  I wanted something a little less precise, a little less confined-to-the-pan.  The solution?  A galette, or free-form tart.  This type of tart uses a fairly sturdy and mostly fool-proof dough that usually contains a bit of cornmeal.  Summer fruit desserts are pretty much my favorite thing ever, so to fill my galette I chose fresh blueberries, peaches, apricots, plums, and raspberries.

This was my first time making a galette, and I clearly don’t have the dough thickness down yet.  The part of my galette that is NOT visible in the photo is the side where I rolled the pastry too thin.  Too thin pastry = juices leaking out everywhere.  On the upside, I enjoyed several spoonfuls of warm filling that had spilled out onto the baking sheet when I pulled it out of the oven.  Yum!  🙂

The pastry dough itself is very easy to handle, not terribly finicky.  I chilled my dough per the original recipe and found that it rolled pretty well.  Next time I will be more careful about looking over the pastry for thin spots (and reinforcing them) before filling the galette with all that glorious fruit.

This tart is so simple, and so delicious, I don’t think I need to say much more about it than that.


Galette Pastry
Adapted from The Skillet Chronicles
Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup organic cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup ice water (may need more or less, I needed a bit more)

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt, stirring well.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, blending with a fork until dough comes together.  Turn dough onto a large piece of parchment and gently form into a ball.  Flatten ball into a rough disk shape, wrap completely and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour but not more than 24 hours.  (Dough can be frozen at this point for future use.)

Berry and Stone Fruit Filling
Adapted from The Skillet Chronicles
Ingredients:
2 medium peaches, pitted and sliced
2 fresh apricots, pitted and sliced
1 large black plum, pitted and sliced
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine fruits, the 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt, stirring gently.  Set aside while you roll out the pastry.

Roll dough into a 14-inch circle on a large piece of parchment paper, being careful not to let any one area get too thin.  Entire piece of pastry should be about 1/8 inch thick.  Slide parchment and dough onto a baking sheet.  Dough can be refrigerated at this point, up to one hour (if you have not made your filling yet, for example).

Preheat oven to 375F.  When ready to bake, arrange fruit mixture in center of chilled pastry dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches around the outside edge.  Gently fold the pastry up over the fruit, pressing the dough into evenly-spaced pleats to enclose the fruit.  Use a bench scraper or sharp broad knife to gently loosen dough from parchment if it sticks or resists folding.  Brush the pastry edge with milk and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 45-55 minutes.  Allow to cool until galette is set enough to slide off the baking sheet.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Blueberry on Foodista

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Sweet Corn Chowder with Wheat Germ Flax Biscuits

So, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from blogging.  For past six weeks I’ve been going through some “stuff”–you know, the kind of “stuff” that we humans all go through from time to time–the result of which was that I didn’t feel much like blogging.  Oh, I made some food, ate some food, even took some pictures of food.  When it came to blogging, however, I just couldn’t muster the creative energy.

The happy news for me is that I’m on the other side of the “stuff,” or at least on a different side of it, and ready to blog again.  As an act of penance for ignoring my readers for so long, I have included not one but two recipes in this post.  🙂

It’s summer in Maine and in lots of other places, so sweet corn is on my mind.  Since local fresh sweet corn has been surprisingly expensive this year, I’ve been satisfying my corn cravings with frozen sweet corn.  You can do almost anything with frozen corn than you can with fresh, so I frequently use frozen sweet corn kernals to save myself some of the trouble involved with shucking, cleaning, and cooking fresh corn.

Today for an early supper I made a pot of sweet corn chowder, and baked some biscuits to serve on the side.  While this is in no way a low-calorie meal, I am rather proud of the fact that it is entirely homemade and contains some very healthy and interesting ingredients.  The chowder is my own recipe, which I painstakingly wrote down as I created it today.  The biscuits are adapted from “Baking Illustrated,” which is the best resource for home baking I have ever found.  The chowder is a delicious New England-style chowder (not thick, not overly rich) with chunks of bacon, onion, and corn simmered in a delicious broth.  The biscuits are made with whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and flaxmeal for a nutty flavor and a tender, delicate texture.  These were fairly easy recipes to make on a lazy Friday off from work, and it turned out to be the perfect mid-day meal.  I am envisioning what to add to the chowder next time: clams, or perhaps a bit of lobster? 🙂  The biscuits, too, are so light and tasty that I think they’d be delicious underneath some berries and whipped cream for a lovely summer shortcake.


Wheat Germ and Flax Biscuits
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raw wheat germ
1/4 cup flaxmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup plus 4 Tablespoons plain, nonfat yogurt

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, blend flours, wheat germ, flaxmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in the yogurt until dough gathers into a ball .  Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface.  Quickly form dough into a ball.  Cut ball in half, then cut each half in half again to make a total of 4 evenly-sized quarters.  Cut each quarter into 3 even pieces.  Working quickly, gently shape each piece into a ball and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  The biscuits can be baked immediately, or covered in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

To bake, place baking sheet in preheated oven.  Bake about 12 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are light golden brown.  Serve.  (Makes 12 biscuits.)

Becky’s Own Sweet Corn Chowder
Ingredients:
8 oz. of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-ounce bag frozen sweet corn
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large skillet or pot, render bacon fat over medium-high heat until bacon is browned and crunchy.  Pour off all but two tablespoons of bacon fat and return skillet (with bacon in it) to heat.  Add onions to bacon in skillet and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic to onion-bacon mixture and cook, stirring contantly, about 30 seconds.  Add frozen corn to skillet (no need to thaw prior) and cook over medium heat until corn is thawed and hot, stirring frequently, 5-8 minutes.  Stir in the chicken broth and simmer about 5-8 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and stir in the milk.  Heat the chowder until hot, but DO NOT BOIL.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.  (Makes enough chowder for 3-4 hungry people.)

Corn on Foodista

The Strawberry Rhubarb Pie that Almost Wasn’t

The title of this post says it all.  I set out to make a strawberry rhubarb pie for Memorial Day, and very nearly had a pie-related meltdown in the process.  I had never attempt strawberry rhubarb anything before, so I did my research.  I found a filling recipe and a crust recipe that looked compatible and fairly straightforward.  Hmm, isn’t it funny how sometimes things are SO not what they seem?

The filling came together beautifully.  However, the pie crust dough was another story (that I will get to in a moment).  The filling ended up sitting for about 10 or 15 minutes while I wrestled with the pastry dough, and in that time span released so much juice that I knew I could not pour all of it into the (now tamed) pastry-lined pie pan.

Meanwhile, the pastry dough.  Insert animal-like growl of rage here.  This pastry dough was nearly the end of me, and I am not ashamed to say I shed an angry tear over it, while standing in the middle of my kitchen wearing my pink flowered apron.  Here is the problem with the dough recipe as originally written: cake flour, or more specifically Softasilk cake flour, cannot–CANNOT–withstand the necessary rolling out process for making a pie crust.  Not even with a thorough refrigeration period.  My theory is that cake flour simply doesn’t have the structural capabilities of regular flour.  Thus, my pastry dough did nothing but tear, rip, and stick to the counter.  In the end, I ended up managing a quick enough roll-and-place maneuver that most of the dough got into the pie pan in some sort of evenly thin layer.  There were holes and cracks aplenty, though, so I had to perform pastry surgery, fitting in little pieces of dough here and there.  The unbaked, unfilled pie crust was not at all attractive.  At this point, I very nearly threw both it and the waiting fruit filling into the trash.  The ingredients for this pie cost me almost $12!  With that in mind, I said to myself, “Self, we’ve come this far…let’s just bung the rest of it together, throw it in the oven, and see what we get afterward!”

And that is what I did.  At this point, the filling went in.  I scooped the fruit in and most of the juice.  I just used my best judgment, and when I felt like enough of the released juices were in the pie pan, I stopped pouring.  I would say about 3/4 cup of juice was left over in the bowl.  Useless, but tasty when licked off the back of the spoon.

Now, we encounter the problem of what the dickens to put on top of this pie.  By this time I had decided that I was absolutely, IN NO WAY, attempting lovely little lattices to weave across the top.  No sirree Bob.  Employing some quick thinking, I decided to roll out the dough and use a drinking glass to cut circles out.  The circles went somewhat symmetrically on top of the pie (I was going for a bit of a floral shape), and the pie went (FINALLY) into the oven.

I baked it for about 45-50 minutes.  I kept an eye on it, and when the filling looked somewhat set, I took it out of the oven and let it cool completely (which took probably 3 or 4 hours).  During this cooling period, I basically ignored it and tried not to obsess over what it was going to look like when I finally cut into it.

I must add here that I also used a new pie pan for the first time, a stoneware plate from my grandmother.  The new pie plate plus the frustration of the recipe led me to have very low expectations for the final result.

Friends, I am happy to report that this pie was quite possibly the best pie–all pies previously consumed by me included–ever.  While I was most skeptical about the crust, the end result was a delicious, sweet, flaky crust that was not at all soggy.  I think my gut instinct re: the amount of juice in the pie as well as the wonderful heat conductive properties of my new pie plate were the primary causes of the delicious crust.  The filling was, in a word, perfect.  Tart, sweet, with soft but not gloopy fruit.  Just enough texture to tell the difference between a berry and ‘barb (rhubarb, get it?).

I am posting the recipes below as I made them.  If you try this recipe, please let me know how it works for you, and what tweaks you added.

P.s. I have since made a second fruit pie with a variation of the following pastry recipe, and I think I have completely cured this dough of its utter unmanageability.  🙂

Classic Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
Filling
Adapted from For the Love of Food
3 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 – 2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, mix together all filling ingredients except butter.  Set aside until ready to use.  For best results place in prepared pie crust and bake within 20 minutes.

Sweet Pastry Crust
Adapted from Life’s A Feast
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
14 Tablespoons butter, chilled
2 large eggs, beaten

Combine flour and sugar in medium bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse sand.  Vigorously stir in beaten egg until a dough ball forms.  Cut the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.  (The larger dough ball will become the bottom crust).  Wrap and chill until ready to roll out.

Assembly:
Preheat oven 425F.  Oil or grease your pie plate.  Rolled larger ball of chilled pastry dough into a large circle, about 2 inches larger than the top of your pie plate.  Working quickly, place pastry into pie plate, smoothing wrinkles and filling in cracks or holes with extra dough.  Trim the edges of the crust to just over the edge of your pie plate.  Using your fingers, make a decorative edge.  Or, just use a fork to pressthe crust lightly against the edge of the pie plate.

Using a fork, lightly prick the bottom and sides of the crust.  Pour filling mixture into prepared crust.  If your filling as released a lot of juice, scoop the fruit into the crust and then add the juice just until your pie plate is nearly full.  Do not overfill with juice!  Dot top of filling with the 1 Tablespoon of butter.

Roll out the second ball of pastry.  Cut into strips for a lattice, or other shapes such as circles.  If using circles, arrange them over the top of the filling so the edges touch but so there are enough vents for steam to escape.  If doing a lattice crust, weave alternating strips across the top of the filling.

Place pie in center of preheated oven.  Bake at 425F for the first 25 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 30 minutes.  Pie is done when crust is golden brown and the filling juices are bubbly and thickened.  For best results, allow pie to cool completely to room temperature before serving.

Classic Lemon Bars

I absolutely adore lemon bars.  Sadly, I have had my fair share of icky lemon bars, both homemade and store-bought.  Sometimes these summery treats are too tart, while others can be sickeningly sweet.  Oftentimes the crust is thick and hard, while the lemon filling is merely a Pledge-flavored film across the top.  The perfect combination of tart lemon, sweet powdered sugar, and butter crust is, apparently, the Holy Grail of baking.

Friends, I’m here to say that if these bars aren’t the Holy Grail, they’re awful close.  I found this recipe at Baked Bree, one of my favorite food blogs.  My criteria for a new lemon bar recipe is based on past experience.  Lemon bars should have a thick but delicate cookie crust.  The lemon filling needs to be curd-like, thick, and rich, without becoming “overset” and rubbery.  The lemon filling must NOT get a tough skin after baking.  And, finally, the lemon filling must be at least equal to but preferably a third again the thickness (height) of the cookie crust.  I have this down to a science, people.

I chose to try Baked Bree’s recipe for two reasons.  First, her lovely photographs hinted that her lemon filling might meet the height criteria.  And second, the use of confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar in the crust promised a crumb more tender than my previous recipes (which all used granulated sugar).

The recipe did not disappoint.  These bars are exactly the right thickness in both crust and filling.  The lemon filling was wonderfully lemony without being too tart or too sweet.  The crust was, as I envisioned, thick but delicate, with a wonderful buttery flavor.  Without question I can tell you that this recipe will now be my go-to for lemon bars.

I only made two tweaks.  I omitted the lemon extract (none on hand) and replaced it with a teaspoon of lemon zest.  Also, I don’t have a food processer, so I made the crust by hand and the filling in my blender.  These technique modifications appear to have had no ill effect, as I made these yesterday and of the entire pan there are only 4 small squares left.  Make that 3…

Classic Lemon Bars
Adapted from Baked Bree
Makes one 9″x13″ pan

Ingredients:
Crust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
A pinch of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter

Filling:
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
The juice of two lemons
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a 9″x13″ baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until light golden.  Remove from oven and let cool a bit.

Meanwhile, place all the filling ingredients except the baking powder in the blender.  Blend until smooth and well-mixed.  Add the baking powder and blend well right before you’re ready to pour the filling into the crust.  Pour filling into the warm crust.  Return to the oven and bake another 25 minutes or until the filling is set in the center.  Let cool to room temperature.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut into squares, and serve.

Honey Oatmeal Whole Wheat Bread II

After eating store-bought white bread for two weeks, I was ready for a fresh batch of delicious homemade bread.  Despite my best intentions, however, I repeatedly forgot to make the fermented starter the night before I planned to make my standby honey oat bread recipe.  I figured that now might be a good time to find a non-fermented recipe to count on for weeks when I can’t seem to get my act together and plan ahead.

This recipe makes a really, really heavy dough.  At first sight, I was skeptical it would rise at all, but my yeast was up for the challenge.  My Kitchenaid mixer couldn’t handle kneading this dough, so I had to knead it by hand (which is kindof fun, anyway).  I made several tweaks to the original recipe out of necessity.  For example, I ran out of honey, so I used half honey, half brown sugar.  Also, I did not have the nonfat dry milk powder the original recipe called for, so I subbed some milk for some of the water.  Lastly, I doubled the recipe and made 3 8″x4″ loaves.

The finished bread smelled SO GOOD that I could barely wait the requisite 10-15 minutes for the loaves to cool before ripping into one.  When I could control my salivation no longer, I cut myself two small slices for taste-testing: one with butter, and one with strawberry jam.  As the dough was still warm, no toasting required.  So delicious!  This recipe makes a hearty bread that I have since used for toast, sandwiches, and bottom bits for poached eggs.  It’s a pretty easy recipe, and you can work out some stress kneading the incredibly dense dough.  Overall, I’d say it’s a keeper!

Honey Oat Wheat Bread II
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 3 8″x4″ loaves

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup water
2 cups old-fashioned oats
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 packets quick-rise yeast
Directions:

Grease a large bowl, set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat milk and water to simmering (watch carefully to avoid boil-over!).  In the bowl of a standing mixer, stir together milk mixture, oats, butter, salt, honey, and sugar.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flours and the yeast.  Pour flour mixture all at once into mixer bowl with cooled oatmeal mixture.  Using the dough hook attachment, mix until a smooth dough forms.  If your mixer can’t manage this quantity of dough, mix until the dough comes together and then turn out onto a flour surface and knead until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Once dough is mixed (via mixer or by hand), knead an additional 5 minutes on a floured surface.  Place dough in greased bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.  Meanwhile lightly grease and flour three 8″x4″ loaf pans.

Gently deflate dough.  Shape dough into loaves and place in prepared loaf pans.  Cover again and let rise until nearly doubled, about one hour.  During this rise, preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake loaves in preheated oven until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.  Fully baked loaves will make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

Double Chocolate (Not All That Bad For You) Cookies

As per my previous post, I have been exceedingly frugal this week.  Frugalness means, in my case (and among other things), no splurging on spontaneous chocolate as I go throughout my weekly routine in town.  With no chocolate in sight, a major craving hit today.  So, I decided to see what I had in my pantry that could be turned into something delicious.

I discovered that I have a nearly-full carton of unsweetened cocoa powder.  I also knew I wanted to make cookies, preferably.  When my internet service finally stopped cutting out on me this morning, I Googled “cocoa cookies” and discovered this recipe on MyRecipes.com.  As a side note, I’ve never used this website before today, but it certainly seems like it’s worth a more thorough browse.

I made several significant changes to this recipe.  Once again, instead of using all-purpose flour only, I used whole wheat for a portion of the required flour amount.  I also added some wheat germ.  Next time I will try adding in some flax seed and cutting a bit of the oil, just to see what happens.  Instead of using butter, I used 3 3/4 tablespoons of canola oil.  I would have tried coconut oil, but alas, my coconut oil jar is empty.  Additionally, I used fat free plain yogurt rather than the low-fat called for in the original recipe, and I also stirred in 1 one-ounce square of semisweet chocolate, chopped.  You know, for the antioxidants. 

Several things to note.  First, these cookies are – OHMYNOM – delicious.  They are soft and chewy, with just a slight crunch on the tops and edges.  The chocolate pieces inside are melty and wonderful.  I actually think the whole wheat flour added something to the texture, something I like.  Each cookie is so rich and dark that one or two should knock any chocolate craving right out.  While these are certainly delicious at any temperature, I went traditional and enjoyed my serving warm from the oven with a mug if ice-cold low-fat milk.  YUM.  Chocolate craving satisfied. 

Double Chocolate (Not All That Bad For You) Cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light via myrecipes.com
Makes about 16 cookies

Ingredients:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 tablespoons canola oil
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup fat free plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, wheat germ, and salt.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, cocoa powder, and sugars until the mixture looks like wet sand.  Stir in the yogurt and the vanilla.  Pour the flour mixture and the semisweet chocolate into the yogurt mixture all at once.  Stir until a soft dough forms, being careful not to over-mix.  (Overmixing will cause your cookies to come out tough.  You only want to stir the dough until all the flour on the bottom gets incorporated.)

Working quickly, scoop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls.  Using your hands (quickly) shape each scoop into a somewhat smooth ball.  Place balls of dough on baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart.  Bake 8-11 minutes until slightly puffed and almost set.  (Cookies will still be soft in the center).  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for about 3 minutes, or until firmed up somewhat.  Once firm enough to move, place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Note:  If your dough is too sticky to shape with your hands, just place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes until it firms up.  Then, working quickly, roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on baking sheet.  Bake as directed above.

Banana Yogurt Bread

I apologize for the lapse in posts!  The semester ended two weeks ago, and I have been attempting to settle into a routine that does not involve driving 400 miles per week or writing hundreds of pages-worth of papers.  Said transition is not as easy as one would think!  But, that being said, I’m back, and I have an entire summer of posting ahead of me. 

Due to some unforeseen expenses in recent weeks, hubby and I are trying out a new, more frugal lifestyle.  Project Number One in the new lifestyle was to avoid getting groceries until we had truly exhausted our food supplies.  Historically, we had a habit of shopping with regularity every week, often re-buying items we already had (like oatmeal–oh, so much oatmeal).  Thus far, we have gone for two full weeks on only $40 of purchased groceries.  Considering that we typically spend $80 per week on groceries, this is a significant decrease in our grocery expenditures.

Since we bought so few new groceries in the past two weeks, I have been having fun trying to make meals out of the things I find in the pantry, fridge, and freezer (with surprising success!).  Last weekend I discovered that I had (so meticulously) saved 4 large bananas in the back of the freezer.  They were nice and black, perfect for a batch of banana bread.  I found this recipe on the Whole Foods Market website.  Since it included yogurt, another ingredient I was trying use up before its best-by date passed, I decided to give it a try.

I changed a few things about this recipe.  First, I used equal amounts of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.  I will try to squeeze in whole wheat flour wherever possible, for a little extra fiber and nutrition.  Secondly, I did not have ground flaxseed on hand, so I substituted an equal amount of wheat germ.  Third, I used 2 Tablespoons of softened butter and 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil.  Baking with coconut oil is a new experiment I’m trying, since coconut oil has so many health benefits, and it is delicious too!  Third, I stirred about 1/4 cup of softened raisins and 2 Tablespoons of chopped almonds into the batter just before spooning it into the pans.  Thirdly, the pans–I actually made two 8×4″ loaves from this recipe.  I think you could make one if you wanted a taller loaf, but I typically prefer a shorter, less dense loaf when it comes to quick breads.

This banana bread turned out light and flavorful, with just the right amount of banana flavor.  Some banana breads are WAY to banana-y for my tastes, but this recipe was just right.  The raisins and almonds added nice flavor and texture as well.  You could sub out other dried fruits, nuts, or even chocolate chips, too.  The texture of the loaf was substantial without being dense, and the yogurt gave the bread a fine crumb.  We enjoyed these loaves of banana bread for about a week, often warmed up and topped with a little dab of light cream cheese.  Overall, I think this is a fantastic recipe, and I think it will be my go-to banana bread recipe from here on out.

Banana Yogurt Bread
Adapted from Whole Foods Market

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup fat free plain yogurt
3 very ripe bananas, smashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins, optional
2 tablespoons chopped almonds, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pans and dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together both flours, baking soda, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

Using a mixer and large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and coconut oil with sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in yogurt, bananas and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Fold in raisins and nuts (or other mix-ins), being careful not to over-mix.  Spoon batter into loaf pans.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from baking pan.