Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

On my original 25 before 25 list, I’d challenged myself to bake 4 new types of bread. I love the idea of a bread challenge for so many reasons: because by the end, I’ll be more comfortable baking, because bread is so wonderful, and because it means that everyday life will be that much more delicious and cozy.

A few days ago, I decided to up my challenge, considering that I’d made 3 out of 4 breads in a span of only a couple weeks. In honour of the 25 list, the new challenge is to make 25! They can be anything from a naan to a cinnamon bun, the only qualifications being that it’s some kind of bread-like product, and that it’s a recipe I’ve never tried before. I’ll be trying to document all of them here on the blog, so stay tuned!

Bread #4: Adapted from Chocolate Banana Bread by Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium bananas (I used plantains accidentally but it still turned out great!)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips (I tragically didn’t have any)

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with butter.

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Mash your bananas (or in my case, plantains!) in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla, and stir together. Put your dry ingredients into a fine sieve and sift it all into the bowl. If you have chocolate chips, add them and stir everything together until it’s blended well.

Put the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 55 minutes, then check that a cake tester comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the loaf from the pan (mine came out very easily) and turn it out onto a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Notes: Next time, I’d definitely add the chocolate chips. Although the bread wasn’t too dry, it would have been improved with the extra chocolate. I’d also love to try this bread with bananas instead of plantains. We ate the majority of the loaf in a single afternoon. This one was easy, delicious and will definitely be made again. That crack in the top! Beautiful.

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Cinnamon Buns

In order to prepare fully to write this post, it was necessary for me to eat yet another of the buns in question, smothered with cream cheese frosting. Necessary. For research purposes, you understand? A necessary evil that comes with blogging about food. Such is the life of hardships that I lead. (Not.)

I have enjoyed every second of the creation (and subsequent consumption) of these buns. They re-affirmed the fact that, apparently, I actually love working with yeast/kneading dough? I love it. For a potluck over the weekend, I made another loaf of X bread, which turned out better than the first time and was a giant hit. I love that I had the skills to do that. Soon, I’m hoping to set a bread-baking goal that is a little loftier than 4 loaves! I’ve conquered my fear of yeast, now I just need to practice.

The dough for these buns is sweet, stretchy, and very fun to work with. The icing is amazing, perfect, delicious, incredible. Make these, and your house will smell like a Cinnabon. Your friends will love you when you bring them a hot one on a paper towel. You’ll make new friends if you wrap one up in tinfoil for their roadtrip home (Hi Adam!). You’ll feel like Martha Stewart when you bring a plate over to someone’s house. You’ll feel like you’re building a home that smells like cinnamon. These are all awesome feelings.

Welcome to my crazy crazy kitchen life.

So who what where when how?

Who: Sweetapolita’s recipe is perfection. Very easy to follow, clear, and gets great results.

What: Cinnabon-Style Gourmet Cinnamon Buns

Where: HERE.

When: NOW.  

How: It’s simple! Make the dough, let it rise. Roll it out. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll up, slice, let rise again. Bake. Make the icing, eat only a small amount of it, GLAZE. Eat. Sigh of contentment.

Chow time? Chow time. Happy nomming.

By the way: this is the fourth and last bread for my 2012 bread goal! I’m so excited. But who knows? Maybe I’ll tackle a few more. See the rest of the breads here.

X Bread

Bet you thought I forgot about my bread challenge, didn’t you? Well, considering that the last time I baked bread was in February, I don’t blame you for thinking that. But have a little faith in me! The 2012 goals were all chosen for a reason – mainly, to have me practice and learn to do a few different things well. So I’m hoping to accomplish them all, and then some!

I adored making this loaf of bread, and wish I knew how to make more bread-like products. I’m not positive, but for next year I’m considering a bread challenge to up the ante and let me practice bread-making skills. 40 loaves might be a bit high for me, so that number will take some playing, most likely. Stay tuned.

I’ve heard so much about this “X bread”, recipe by Pioneer Woman. She just calls it “The Bread, In His Words”, but its telltale feature is the large X you cut into the top, so the “X bread” name is more fitting. When I first saw the recipe, a while back, I was like: “Oh, it has yeast, too bad.” I used to always say that! I was fairly terrified of yeast. Like not in a “it’s going to grow and open the refrigerator door – it’s alive!!” kind of terrified. Just, I didn’t have the cojones to conquer it. NO LONGER. When I looked back at this recipe last week, I was amazed to find that it actually looked incredibly easy.

Gather: 1/2 cup melted butter, 4 cups bread flour, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp yeast, and 1 cup of water. Add chopped herbs (I used chives) to the butter. If you’re using active dry yeast (as I was), sprinkle it on the surface of the water so it can start working for a few minutes.

Add all of the ingredients together. Like so:

Looks cool right? Like there are flour mountains and islands amid seas of butter. My kind of world.

And begin mixing together by hand! At first, your fingers will be covered with sticky goo, but soon the dough will come together and your hands will be magically clean. Alternatively, you can use a fancy stand mixer with a fancy dough hook, but I, sadly, do not have one of those. I ended up kneading it for about 15 minutes (while listening to the sultry tones of John Mayer) by hand, which is a decent workout. Seriously. I kneaded it until I could do this:

It’s called making a “window pane”, and it means that you grab a small chunk of the dough and stretch it slowly and gently. If it can become somewhat transparent before ripping, it’s done.

Form it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 1-4 hours until it’s “doubled in size”. I can never tell whether it’s doubled or just larger. Either way, I only had an hour  to let it rise, and it turned out just fine! Preheat the oven to 450.

Place in a casserole dish/soup pot/oven-proof bowl. Coat the dough with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cut a large, deep X in the surface so the bread can “bloom”! So much fun! At this point in the baking process, I was fairly giddy. Cover (with the lid of the dish, or some aluminum foil) and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 15-30 minutes. Mine needed only 15 after removing the lid before it was nicely golden brown and beautiful.

MMMMM. And smelled divine, too.

It tasted even better! I’ve been warming it up in the oven every time I want a slice, because it’s so delicious warm from the oven. This is a delicious, savoury bread that I would (and will) make again.

In fact, I’m off to eat some right now! Happy bread-making.

Best Bites

{Weeknightmushroom garlic pizza with extra goat cheese and green salad with sauteed onions and mushrooms}

I love to eat, as you can probably tell. I have a confession though: much of the recipes that make it to my blog are special-occasion kind of food. Weekend food. Food I make simply to delight my friends. (They deserve it, I have absolutely wonderful friends.) It’s food I want to learn how to make, experiment with, make look really pretty.

But it’s not what I spend most of my time eating. If this isn’t immediately obvious, I apologize. That’s sort of the problem with blogs: they only showcase the glossy, lovely aspects of our lives. Not the mundane, quiet parts. Most of the food I love is simple, unfussy, messy, not really fit for photographing (though I do anyway). Shall I give you a little peek?

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