I felt like making gingerbread the other day. I also needed to do something with half a dozen apples I'd bought the week before. They were on the mealy side, and no one wanted to eat them as they were.
As you can see by the photo above, I didn't make muffins. I am just not that nuts about muffins. And since this is really at heart a cornbread recipe (to me, anyway), I figured I'd bake it in a cast iron skillet, as cornbread should be baked.
But first things first.
I whisked my dry ingredients.
And, while my ground beef was becoming taco filling (with my own seasonings, not a pre-packaged blend, thankyouverymuch) on the stove, I assembled the wet ingredients and the corn and peppers and cilantro.
OH - and the shredded cheddar. No - don't feel obligated to re-check your notes. That's MY version of "Playing Around" with this recipe. The cheese belongs with the rest of the ingredients, and it also adds some additional moisture. (And of course it's that additional moisture that's the REAL reason for my adding it in...it couldn't possibly be my belief that nearly everything should be topped with a layer of melted cheddar...or filled with oozing brie. No, couldn't be that at all.)
Anyway, I combined...
And I spread the mixture in my cast iron skillet...and sprinkled on some more cheese. For cosmetic purposes only.
And then I slid the pan in the oven to bake while I cooked some Goya rice (with green chiles and tomatoes) and assembled the other ingredients for our taco dinner.
Twenty-five minutes later the rice and the cornbread were done.
Here's the cornbread:
Last night's pictures don't do it justice, so I took a few more this morning (better lighting).
Predictably, I loved it, Bill loved it, Julia liked it well enough last night but REALLY liked it earlier this morning as part of an early lunch, and Alex didn't like it at all. He apologized for not liking it, "but I just don't like all the stuff in it."
Ah well. It's still a good average.
I think this cornbread (as cornbread, not as a muffin) would be BEST along a long-simmered bowl of chili. But since I didn't have the ingredients or the time for the long-simmering yesterday, I figured some fast tacos would work out okay.
And they did.
In fact, I didn't have tacos at all - I just split open a piece of the cornbread and topped it with the taco fillings.
I did almost the same thing a little while ago, both for me and (once she saw what I had and wanted me to share it with her) for Julia.
Julia ate two helpings (they were smaller than the one pictured above) and I had one. The one in the picture. Okay, one and a half.
Good thing I sent some in to work with Bill today, because I don't think the remaining quarter of cornbread will last the day. It's really, really good.
It's funny - I wasn't even sure I was going to participate this week. It's been so all about blueberries here that baking a loaf of banana bread (no matter how pretty or chocolatey) just didn't seem to fit. But then there were these 3 bananas on the counter, past their prime, that the kids were no longer interested in...and so I took it as a sign and decided - last night - to definitely make this loaf.
So I started measuring out sugar and flour and so forth, and then, just out of curiosity, I took a peek at how long this would need to bake. Ah. An hour and twenty to an hour and thirty minutes. Okay. Change in plans. I'd get everything ready to go and then put it all together and bake it first thing in the morning, so we could have some with our coffee.
And yes, I admit it, the other reason I waited to bake was so I'd have better (natural) lighting for my pictures.
Anyway, I didn't get up as early as I'd planned. I blame the MLB schedule for part of it (Sox played the Royals IN Kansas City, so the game started an hour later than an East Coast game, and I had to watch the whole thing, frustrating as it was. Or at least listen to it while I typed and read email and edited photos from yesterday. And then there was Blur, who woke me up around 3:30 or so, meowing and meowing and meowing and licking my feet (ick) or my arm or whatever. I finally figured she was hungry so I got her some of her food. She doesn't like the kittens' food, but the kittens DO like her food and if they eat it, well, let's just say their little digestive systems can't quite handle it yet. So I don't leave the adult food out. Anyway, after some nice grown-up kibble, Blur settled down and let me do the same. (My husband sleeps - or "sleeps" - through all this excitement.)
Excuses over - here's what was waiting for me when I entered the kitchen this morning:
Okay, except for the half cup of milk. I poured that this morning. It didn't sit out overnight. And the blender has nothing to do with this recipe. It was just...there. Doing the equivalent of waving wildly from the seats behind home plate and talking excitedly to friends on its' cell phone because it knows it's on camera.
But anyway - it was so nice to start the morning like that. I turned the oven on, greased and floured my loaf pan, and I was ready to go.
While my butter and sugars were whirring around in the mixing bowl, I melted my chocolate and stirred in the butter.
I added my eggs and vanilla into the butter/sugars mixture and yep, just like Dorie promised, the mixture looked curdled. I added half the flour mixture, then the milk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture.
And then the banana/citrus/rum mixture. And then I divided the batter into two nearly equal portions, and mixed the melted chocolate into the smaller portion.
Now, in the "Playing Around" section for this recipe, Dorie suggests adding some toasted pecans to either portion of batter. Sounded good to me, only I didn't have any pecans in the house, so I toasted some sliced almonds instead. And I portioned out come shredded coconut, too.
Why? For balance. Symmetry. If one portion of batter was going to have added texture, the other side had to as well. Because I'm just like that. And - I thought all these flavors would play nicely together.
So I stirred the almonds into the chocolate...
and the coconut into the plain portion...
and then I poured small alternating amounts of the batters into my loaf pan...
until the bowls were scraped clean.
I swirled a knife through the batter just once -
and then put it in the oven to bake.
On top of an insulated baking sheet.
Which, I should know by now, is something I should NOT do, even though Dorie's got it in the directions. Because whenever I do, my bread or other baked item doesn't cook through as well as it should. And I KNOW this, and yet...and yet...I put my loaf pan on the insulated baking sheet anyway.
I baked the loaf for an hour and a half, and it smelled wonderful. An hour and a half was a long wait.
But finally the knife came out clean and the pan came out of the oven.
Gorgeous. A little while after this picture was taken, the loaf had a permanent dent in the center from my nose as I inhaled and inhaled repeatedly while it cooled. Okay, not really. But it smelled SO good.
After fifteen minutes, I ran a knife along the sides of the pan and inverted the bread onto a cooling rack.
And this is what it looked like at that point:
Yeah. Not so pretty any more, huh?
Perhaps I should have baked it longer, but it didn't seem necessary at the time. Or maybe I could have cooled it longer. Or - I could (and should) have left my insulated baking sheet in the drawer where it belonged.
Oh well. It still looked good from the top, so I flipped it back over to cool some more while Bill made coffee.
Dorie's instructions say to let the loaf cool to room temperature before slicing, but when the coffee was ready, I got my big serrated knife and started slicing.
The bread was still hot inside and very moist, but it all held together well and looked nicely marbled (to me, anyway). I sliced a couple of pieces and put them on a plate so I could take my finished product photos and then allow Bill to eat.
And of course, I had to sample the goods as well.
Yum. All the flavors, as I'd hoped, worked well together, and I liked the little bits of crunch from the almonds and the slight chewiness of the coconut. Now, when I make banana bread, I like to mix in chocolate chips, so I knew I'd like the blend of banana and chocolate. And I did - the chocolate portion was deep and dark and more "grown up" than chocolate chips. Coffee was a perfect accompaniment.
So thank you to Ashlee for choosing this recipe - it's definitely a keeper. And to see more fine examples of this delicious Black and White Banana Loaf, head over to the Tuesdays With Dorie website and start clicking - there are over oh, eighty bazillion members now, so maybe you should first MAKE a loaf of this bread, brew a big pot of coffee, and settle back in your seat. It's going to take some time to check out so many sites. But, like waiting for this cake to bake, it'll be well worth it.
Something had to be done. We've been picking zucchini on a daily basis now, and so far we've been using everything in savory dishes...grilled zucchini, for example. But there's only so many times a week (or a day) we want to eat it after a while, so I said I'd make zucchini bread to use up some of the excess.
Yes, here I am, late to the party. But at least I got here before NEXT Tuesday.
Apple Cheddar Scones. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking From My Home to Yours", and can be found on page 32, or you can visit Karina's blog, The Floured Apron, if you don't have the book right there in front of you. (Of course, if you DON'T have it in front of you, that just must mean it's way in the other room, or at home - if you're at work. It couldn't POSSIBLY mean you don't own a copy, because by all accounts, no home should be without one.)
I made the scones this morning at a bit of a rush, because a) I should have either done them yesterday or I should have done them BEFORE yesterday, and b) because I had a dentist appointment at 9:30 and I wanted to get them done and photographed before I had to leave. And I was up at 5:30, went for a walk, back by 6:30, so you'd think I could even have managed to post before the dentist appt, but if you thought that even for a fraction of a second, well, you'd be wrong.
So shut up, Jayne, and get to the scones.
Or "stones" as Alex was calling them.
First of all - yum - the apple/cheddar combination sounded great to me from the start. I bought dried apple slices yesterday and put my block of cheddar in the freezer so it would be easier to grate. Of course (note to self) I didn't need to put it in the freezer yesterday, because this morning when I was trying to grate it, it was like grating a stone with a piece of chamois. I got it done, but the cheese came away from the grater in little wispy bits that pretty much disappeared into the mix. So no lovely melty cheese shots. Next time I'll know better.
My favorite part of the recipe was the quarter cup of cornmeal in the dough, which gave a nice bit of crunch to each bite. And even though I couldn't see the cheese, the flavor was there, along with the bits of apple. Both my kids liked them - Alex had two for breakfast, topped with strawberry jam. Bill and I liked them as well, so I'll make these again. Probably during the next several weeks, as we'll have various family members staying with us.
Julia helped with the mixing, as she often does. She wanted me to take a picture of her as she stood on her chair, ready to whisk dry ingredients together.
She also cracked the egg and mixed all the liquids together for me, while I took forty days to grate the 3/4 cup of cheddar.
No pictures of those steps - sorry. I'm off my game today, apparently. Probably was dental terror.
Once I had the cheddar grated and the apples chopped up, I cut the butter into small cubes and added that to the bowl...
and used my fingers to mash up and combine the butter with the flour mixture. Big bits and little bits and all kinds of in-between bits resulted.
Julia poured in the liquids and the apples and cheese, and I stirred quickly and gently to combine everything into a very sticky dough.
I turned the dough out onto my floured counter and Julia and I each took a turn kneading the dough.
Then, departing from Dorie's instructions just a tad, I cut the dough into three roughly equal pieces and patted each piece into a circle half an inch thick, cut each circle into quarters, and placed all the pieces on my parchment-lined sheet pan.
Then I baked them for 23 minutes, let them cool for another ten, and then we ate.
While they were baking, my kids came into the kitchen sniffing the air, and asking what I was cooking. (Julie didn't really know what she was helping me with - she just likes to crack eggs and mix stuff.) I told them "apple cheddar scones" and Alex asked what "stones" were and I explained, and he said he thought he would probably like them.
And, of course, before anyone was allowed to EAT a scone, I had to take some pictures. So I set up a few different shots...
and kicked myself for not having some fresh berries handy to add a bit of color to these shots...
and what was I thinking, using an off-white plate for these pictures, anyway?
Hey, Jayne, sure you've got enough butter on there? It's not overflowing from the plate yet...
And then I thought - oh, yeah, I need some JAM in this picture. So I got out the strawberry jam and added a welcome splash of color to the neutral shades...
This one is from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, but I found this sort of recipe - a brown soda bread - in just about all of the bread books I was looking through. I didn't find the American version until I checked in with King Arthur. And it makes sense - raisins would be more likely used for special occasion breads, holiday breads. And I don't even know if raisins were all that common an ingredient in Ireland long ago. I kind of doubt it.
Could also be called American Irish Whiskey Soda Bread, because of the addition of carroway seeds and raisins (or in this case, because I was feeling wild and daring, I used half currants and half golden raisins). The recipes I found for Irish Irish Soda Breads didn't have these extras. I'll post one of those recipes as well.
I tried out this recipe to accompany the Leek and Potato Soup I made the other night. It's pretty simple to make, it cooks quickly, and is pretty tasty. It's more like a biscuit than a bread in texture, and I think an improvement to the overall flavor would be to mix some of the the minced, sauteed onion into the dough in addition to scattering it on top. That's just my opinion.