English Muffin Bread

Toast reminds me of my grandpa.

I never saw him eat a piece of bread that wasn’t, well, toasted.  Toasted toasted.  Crunchy toasted.  On the brink of too toasted.  Toasted.

My grandma was so used to toasting his bread, that I never had a tuna sandwich from that kitchen on soft bread.  Or a bologna sandwich.  Or a hotdog  (weiner) bun- grandma was from Rhode Island, they don’t do hotdogs, just weiners.    Or for that matter, a roll.  Or a biscuit.  Or a sandwich bun.  Or anything resembling bread.  Even cornbread.  Everything.  Toasted.

I often wonder how many toaster ovens my grandparents went through over the years.  And to think of it, I am sure grandma started making him toast on a cast iron stove after the war at the start of marriage on a small farm in rural Ohio, graduating to an oven with a broiler,  and heavens to Betsy, finally came the day of a toaster oven…how life was made easier and how we take it for granted.

There countertop never held a toaster that held slices of anything … a conventional toaster I never knew them to own.  The openings not adequate for thick slices of Texas toast and English muffins would get lost and they were not the ones to use a knife to stab at an English muffin to pry it from the depths of a toaster (not that I ever do that either) and you can never quite tell how toasted your toast is getting without popping it up…

A toaster oven on the flip side can fit any size of bread, roll, biscuit…and pizza rolls.  Pizza rolls never saw the inside of my granparent’s home.  Come to think of it, rarely did pizza.

I think grandpa would have loved a loaf of English muffin bread.  English muffins were meant for the toaster – does anyone eat them untoasted?  They don’t taste right, unless browned and crisp – salted butter dripping into each nook and cranny and jelly/jam/fruit butter/nut butter slathered edge to edge.  Gramps was a homemade grape jelly dude, grandma restocking their supply every fall from their concord grape vein/arbor or there was always strawberry lingering – often homemade as well.  This whole, homemade from scratch deal, it is in my blood.

I can never pick just one spreadable for my toast.  Or English muffin.  Too many choices and never enough toast.  Cinnamon sugar is my all time favorite…and has been making quite the comeback on lazy weekend mornings with creamy coffee.  Or afternoon snack with hot chocolate.  Yeah, hot chocolate…still winter in these parts!

English Muffin bread toasts up like a charm.  And is quite simply the easiest thing in the world to throw together.  Trust me.  As long as you have yeast that isn’t dead.  I had dead yeast, poor things never got to live to their fullest potential.  Honest to goodness, I felt bad.  I should read expiration dates more often/closely/clean out my cupboards more thoroughly/or, well ever.

5.0 from 1 reviews
English Muffin Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2+1/2 Cups Bread Flour
  • 2 + ¼ Teaspoons Rapid-Rise or Instant Yeast
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1+ ½ Cups Whole Milk, warmed to 120F.
  • Cornmeal for dusting
Instructions
  1. Grease a 5in x 10 in (or thereabouts) loaf pan and dust with cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Stir in warm milk and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area and let dough rise for about 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. (my favorite warming place is in the microwave with the light on or oven (turned off) with the light on...otherwise, my house is an icebox for bread dough.
  4. Once it has doubled, give the dough a stir and place in prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place back into warm area and let rise for an additional 30 minutes or until it has reached the edges of the pan.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F and place oven rack to middle position.
  6. Uncover and discard plastic wrap. Place pan into preheated oven and bake until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 200F. About 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning bread out onto wire rack and letting cool completely before slicing, toasting, and devouring.
  8. Enjoy!
Notes
Recipe adapted from Cook's Country

Irish Brown Bread

I feel like I am phoning it in a bit with a simple loaf of bread as my St. Patrick’s Day celebratory post…truth be told, I can’t believe it is March already and the mere thought of St Patrick’s day being just next week seems quite impossible to me, so this bread was mixed and baked with the intention of craving thick cut toast on a Saturday morning and wanting something where yeast was not involved  - my last package had , unbeknownest to me, expired 6 months ago and was most likely dead and had been tossed into the trash, buried below coffee grounds.

Sad.

Brown bread does not involve yeast…kind of awesome – since mine were dead and all.  Brown bread – a type of soda bread, I have done a bit of researching on the types of soda breads and it is quite the discussion and there are many opinions…so, I am going with all brown breads are soda breads, but not all soda breads are brown breads … get it, got it, good?  Any who…brown breads use the basic baking soda/acidic liquid to give rise to the bread.  No yeast!  Buttermilk is the go to here.  No buttermilk?  No worries…I didn’t either – I rarely do since I never use it all and I hate wasting food and the smell of spoiled buttermilk is more than I can bare.  But skim milk and a touch of lemon…those items are always in my fridge…since, ya know…cereal and cocktails are vital elements in my world.

Skim  milk + lemon juice + 5 minutes = instant buttermilk.  Woohoo!

We are going to use a combination of flours – wheat and white.  A combination of oats – rolled/old fashioned and steel cut. Brown sugar adds a nice/light sweetness with a that nice mellow hint of molasses…all under a layer of nuttiness that is so absolutely satisfying with a layer of salted butter and a slather of summery strawberry jam.  Or raspberry if that is your …wait for it….

Jam.

Toast not your thing?  Wait a second while I try to let that soak in…who doesn’t love/adore/crave toast on a daily basis?  Just the simple pure smell of toast makes me weak in the knees and has be wandering toward the source with my nose in the air like Yogi Bear after a picnic basket.

This Brown bread would be just the right touch of sweet/nuttiness that pairs so well  with a good hunk of sharp cheddar or KerryGold Dubliner cheese – if you wanna go all Irish, which I would highly recommend…even on non-Irish holidays.

Word of the wise … this is not sandwich bread.  No, sir.  Not even a little bit.  I don’t want to get ya thinking otherwise.  This is dense and heavy and crumbles a bit on day 2 or 3 and when it is lightly (or heavily) toasted, it really comes to life and lives out its carb-wonderful purpose…but it is not intended for turkey, tomatoes, and mayo.  Nope.  Lox, cream cheese, and capers…that seems like another story.  A story I’d like to write.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Brown Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (350 grams)
  • 1 + ½ Cups Coarse Whole Wheat Flour (175 grams)
  • ½ Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (60 grams)
  • ½ Cup Steel Cut Oats (60 grams)
  • 2 + ½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 5 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold (and diced if no cheese grater)
  • 1+1/2 Cups Buttermilk.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly dust baking sheet with flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, wheat flour, old fashioned oats, steel cut oats, baking soda, and brown sugar.
  3. Grate cold butter into dry ingredients and whisk to combine. ( no cheese grater - just cut butter into dry ingredients with fingers or pastry cutter, much like you would with pie crust/biscuits). Form a well into the center of the ingredients and pour in buttermilk. Stir to combine, forming soft dough. It will seem dry and shaggy - you can add a touch more buttermilk if you find it too dry.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, knead dough for a minute or so, until a nice, slightly moist ball of dough is formed.
  5. Shape dough into a round loaf about 1+1/2 to 2 inches tall. With a lightly floured knife, cut an "X" through the center of the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through. Sprinkle with a few extra rolled old fashioned oats.
  6. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
  7. Slather with salted (Irish) butter and good smidgen of jam.

Adapted from ‘Flavors of  Ireland’

Notes:
* Weigh ingredients…I weighed and measured to see difference and oh what a difference!  If you have a scale, use it.  The final outcome will be more consistent.
*I did not use coarse whole wheat flour, but regular King Arthurs Whole Wheat Flour.  This changed the density of the bread, no doubt, but it was still great.  When I find coarse whole wheat flour…I will get back to the difference.
*When butter needs to be worked into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fingers, I prefer grating.  My hands  are too darn warm and butter tends to just melt.  I find that what works best is to freeze the butter and then grate it over the dry ingredients and then with a fork or whisk, work the grated butter into the dry ingredients.  Works like a charm for pie dough, biscuits, scones, and bread.

oh, and P.S….

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread

AHHH!!!!
I have done gone and did it again.

 

ok, ok, ok…the improper English and the horrid grammar is pretty par for me and my blog.  Or is it my blog and I?  I don’t know.  I have never known.  No matter the amount of teaching done by countless English teachers in my education or the hours spent banging my head against the kitchen table studying grammar, very little if any ( and I stress the words any and little) actually sank in and can be recalled.

Trust me, I have tried.  Like, really tried.  I like proper grammar…or, I like the idea of proper grammar…because I wouldn’t recognize it in broad daylight, that I know for sure, yo.

But besides absolutely bad grammar and the improper use of verbs and the creating of new words…
I have made banana bread…again.
I tried eating and thus, adoring banana bread…again.
I took one bite (that was heavily/heavenly slathered with peanut butter) and I simply could not muster another…again.


I left it on my favorite green saucer, wishing it were pumpkin bread or cranberry walnut, or pistachio pound…really anything besides banana.
It was Saturday morning, coffee was brewing, Jeff Corwin was on TV chasing sting rays in the Caribbean (I don’t have Cable), there was a definite chill in the air…
All fine scenarios in which to enjoy freshly baked bread…
I so wanted to like it.
But I just couldn’t.
I had oatmeal with cranberries and maple syrup instead.  It was ok.

However, don’t go thinking this banana bread isn’t the bomb diggity, because while I didn’t enjoy it, it was devoured one thick slice after another all weekend long and come Sunday evening, as the last light of the weekend was starting to dim… one lonely chocolate chipped studded slice remained.

So, I suppose this bread would be considered a victory in the kitchen…just a failure of my taste buds and olfactory senses.  Why does it have to smell so banana-ey

Like I have mentioned here before…I like bananas.  Just not banana things.

And bananas slathered in peanut butter = the best after school/work snack ever.  So it only makes sense that peanut butter should/would end up in a loaf of banana bread from time to time…And then why leave out chocolate in this shindig of a banana party… (I even tried digging just chocolate chips out of the bread, leaving empty chocolate coated craters behind – I am that person, I can not be trusted - and they even tasted like bananas…ACK!)

So…next up…well, there is this  coconut rum browned butter banana bread in the oven as I type…Not sure why there are sooo many bananas in my freezer….
Can’t say I never gave banana bread a chance…


5.0 from 1 reviews
peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread
 
Makes one loaf - using an 9 x 5 inch loaf pan
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk, well shaken
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan (9x5in) with parchment paper or butter all sides, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, peanut butter, both sugars, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, scraping the bottom of the bowl to pop any pockets of flour.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips. Be careful not to over mix.
  6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of batter. Place in preheated oven and bake until golden brown and a toothpick, when inserted to middle, comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to toothpick - about 60 to 75 minutes. (if top begins to darken beyond golden, tent with tinfoil).
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
  8. Store at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap.

Recipe Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

 

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

I don’t like banana things.  I like bananas…I take that back, I love actual, real life, peel and eat, yellow … and let’s be clear on the yellow…darkish yellow, not the new yellow that leads one to believe it was green just moments ago… they must be, ya know, perfectly ripe bananas.  I just detest banana things.  What does banana things include?  I am so very glad you asked…you didn’t?  Oh! Well…too bad.

Banana chips or dried bananas – ya know, those thin slices of hardened fruit (errr dried) that are found primarily in trail mixes that inevitably result in the almonds, walnuts, cranberries, raisins, M&M’s (or chocolate buttons if you aren’t careful), and heaven knows what else they have thought to cram into trail mixes these days, taste like bananas.  Gross.  Gawdawful.

 

Banana flavored Runts (or any banana ‘flavored’ candy).  Who eats this stuff?  It doesn’t even remotely taste like a banana.  Have the creators of the infamous banana ‘flavor’ actually consumed a banana in their life?  I think not.  Banana flavored Laffy Taffy – NO!  1)  It doesn’t taste like bananas and 2) Laffy Taffy never fails to numb my lips, resulting in me drooling on myself.  Fact.

Banana Splits.  Bananas DO NOT belong in my ice cream.  Brownies, cookies, nuts, cherries, strawberries…yes, go right ahead – join the ice cream party…but bananas, please stay at home, you are not welcome.  And speaking of ice cream, banana flavored popsicles…who enjoys these so-called treats?  Probably you…and I have now offended you, but I can’t be sorry because it is disgusting.

 

 

And have you seen on Pinterest these two ingredient banana cookies and banana frozen ‘yogurt’ or would it be ice cream?  First, these are labeled as ‘healthy’…well, yes, bananas are healthy, or healthier than say a bag of potato chips or Oreos, however – they are chock full of sugar and eating a tray of banana cookies – which is inevitably what will happen when something is labeled healthy and is also a cookie…you will undoubtedly eat a dozen of them and still crave the damn chocolate chip cookie that you were trying to avoid in the first place, which would have been a wiser choice (because you would have only eaten 1, ha!) plus, it wouldn’t have tasted like a banana.  Which leads me to the second point…why would you want a banana flavored cookie…just eat a banana or a cookie.  No need to mash the two together.   ACK!

Banana bread/muffins/cakes/pancakes/waffles….No where near my cup of tea (or coffee – we are talking about me here…).  Banana nut muffins are my morning nemesis.  Mark this down…it is THE ONE sweet good that I will turn down given the chance ( not counting the banana cookies mentioned above)….  How come when heat is applied to a banana, all of its heavenly goodness is removed?  Banana foster – no, just give me the pound cake and butter/sugar/caramel goodness and perhaps swap the bananas for peaches or apples.  Or plums.  Why bananas?  Peach foster, please.

There are slight exceptions to the rule…a plain old banana can be fancied up with a dollop of peanut butter or sliced and covered in chocolate hard shell sauce and frozen.  And I think the chocolate bit needs emphasized…the bananas must be sliced and never placed whole on a stick, frozen, and dipped in chocolate, and then eaten in public.  No one, and I mean NO ONE can pull off eating a chocolate covered banana on a stick in public.  NO ONE!  Maybe my head is in the gutter…it normally is…but come on!

Get the point?  I greatly dislike bananas unless it is just a banana…so why do I continue to bake banana bread?  Because I am bonkers and think that if I stuff more things into banana bread that I will actually enjoy it (next up, peanut butter banana bread?!?)…and honestly, this chocolate banana bread came pretty damn close and so did this chocolate banana zucchini bread…I think the common link here is the chocolate.

This go around, I stuffed cherries, chocolate (that was sea salted), and walnuts along side the bananas…Think Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, but with the addition of banana and well, bread.  I don’t know.  But I do know my older brother would have eaten the whole loaf given the chance, since cherry cordial ice cream is his favorite and he actually likes bananas in his ice cream or he likes bananas in his bread.  What?!?  All I know, he eats what I bake and well he didn’t get any….but he would have liked it.  Those that were lucky enough to have this stuffed into their bags as they were leaving my house ( you don’t leave without a doggy bag made from my freezer) texted me as they arrived home, that the this bread was delicious and the chocolate made it nice and rich.

I’ll have to take their word for it.

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread
 
makes 1 loaf (9x5)
Ingredients
  • 1+1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Quick Cooking Oats
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Cup Light Brown Sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • ⅓ Cup 2% Greek Yogurt
  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
  • 1 Cup Mashed Bananas (about 3 overly ripe bananas)
  • ½ Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Cup Pitted Cherries
  • ½ Cup Toasted Walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped
  • 4 ounce dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped (or about ½ cup chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside. (i also use parchment paper and let a little bit hang over the edges for easy removal)
  2. In a small bowl, toss together cherries and almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl using a wooden spoon, mix together melted butter and bananas. Blend in eggs and yogurt. Mix until everything is well combined.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Fold in cherries (with any juice in bowl), toasted walnuts, and chocolate to batter.
  7. Pour batter (it'll be thick, so I use the term 'pour', lightly) into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven and bake until toothpick, when inserted near the middle comes out nearly clean with a few crumbs attached - about 50-60 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for about 20 minutes before inverting on wire rack and letting cool completely.

 

 

Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread

Wowza…

What a whirlwind of a few days.  Am I right?  Holidays always leave me feeling like I just ran 20 million 100m sprints and all I can do is stand with my hands on my knees gasping for breath…when I know that if I stand with my hands behind my head, that air will come easier, but the energy to stand up straight is just too much.

Gasp!

And let us not forget the coughing and sputtering.  I am not a pretty sight after sprints.  But who is?

But I/us/we do it every year, because if I found myself well rested and 100% relaxed this time of year, something would be wrong.  Like, world has ended and I am the only one left to fight the zombies, wrong….which, Dear Mayans…what a huge let down, not even a slight flash in the sky or gentle rumble under foot.  Not that I wanted anything to happen…but a little something non scary or life-threatening would have been OK.

Anywhooo…The holidays are supposed to be hectic and crazy and whirlwindish.  Full to the brim with parties and shopping and friends and family and baking and gift giving and hall decking and traveling…. all things that kinda sorta leave ya breathless.  And immensly happy.  And full.  From love and one too many cookies…both of which I am not complaining about.  At all.  Ever.  Never.

… 

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