Banana Bread & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This was actually my first time baking banana bread – shocking, I know, considering how easy it is. I usually bake zucchini bread or zucchini muffins, but banana bread was another Father’s Day request, aside from the Fried Bread I made. Along with the loaf, I also made a second batch into muffins and added chocolate chips.

I used Alton Brown’s method and recipe from his book, “I’m Just Here For More Food”. The only thing I changed was instead of using a combination of all purpose flour and oat flour, I just used all-purpose flour because that’s what I had. I did not add nuts, but you can add walnuts, pecans, or almonds. Like I said, I added big, dark chocolate chips to the batch of muffins and they were exceptional!

Since I’ve never made banana bread before now, I am not sure how the batter usually comes together, but Alton says to combine the bananas with the sugar first using a potato masher. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, butter, and flavoring — and then add that to the banana mixture. Add that wet mixture to a large bowl containing the dry goods (flour, baking soda, and salt) and combine well – but do not overmix! Overmixing will change the texture. Breads and muffins should have a coarse, uneven texture inside – not even like a cake would be.

So here’s the mashing of the bananas with the sugar…(Use overripe bananas!)

Try to get it as smooth as you can, but you won’t get it totally smooth and that’s okay. The above shows how smooth I could get mine even with all my might!

If you are using nuts or chocolate chips, fold them in at the very end after you’ve combined both wet bowls together and added them to the dry ingredients. Remember do not overmix!

See the uneven texture and those big chocolate chips? Bliss.

Here’s the recipe! No mixer required…just a potato masher and a big spoon! ­čÖé

Banana Bread (adapted slightly from Alton Brown)
or Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:
3 large or 4 small OVERRIPE Bananas
1 cup of granulated sugar
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1 stick or 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
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2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
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Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the oven rack a little higher than the middle position. (According to Alton Brown, this would be the second rack down from the top.)

2. Line a loaf pan with a rectangle of parchment paper so that the sides hang off the loaf pan a little so you can easily lift it out after baking. (Line the longer sides and grease the other two exposed sides.) Or you can just grease the whole pan, but I am a big fan of parchment paper! If you are making muffins, prepare your muffin tin with liners.

3. Place the bananas and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and mash them together with a potato masher until you can get them somewhat smooth.

4. Combine the melted and cooled butter, eggs, and almond extract in a separate, medium bowl with a spoon. Make sure you do not put hot melted butter with your eggs because you don’t want to cook your eggs! It needs to cool down a few minutes when you remove it from the microwave or stove.

5. Now add the egg/butter/flavoring mixture to your banana/sugar mixture and combine well with a large spoon.

6. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Remember do not overmix. (I sound like a broken record, don’t I? Does anyone even know what a record is anymore?? hehe)

7. If desired, fold in 1 cup of chopped nuts or chocolate chips.

8. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake – banana bread should be moist.┬á I probably should have taken mine out a little sooner than I did. After 50 minutes, it was still undercooked, but after an hour I think it was a little overdone on the bottom. Could have been my oven though! If you are baking muffins, bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Cool the loaf in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. This is so easy if you use the parchment paper with extra sides as ‘handles’! If you make muffins, remove them immediately from the pan and cool on rack.

Keep the cooled bread or muffins tightly wrapped and they will last about 5 days at room temperature. (But I doubt you will have to worry about that!) If desired, you can wrap it tightly and freeze as well.

Dig in!

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Sweet Corn Muffins

Torture. Pure torture, I tell you. Having to do this post and gaze at that photo of the corn muffins that vanished faster than you can say, “Pass the butter, please.” There is certainly an excitement in the air when I announce that these sweet corn muffins will be served with our dinner meal. They are so easy to whip up and are a perfect accompaniment to spicy stews and the like. Last night I decided to try the recipe that Joan posted of her Mom’s Baked Beans. She wasn’t kidding. They were good! I thought that my corn muffins would be perfect as a side and got some in and out of the oven in no time.

Here is the recipe:

Sweet Corn Muffins (modified from Allrecipes.com)
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the egg, milk, and oil in the middle of the dry ingredients.
5. Stir everything together with a spoon, breaking up the egg, and mixing until well combined. It will be like a thick soup.
6. Spoon or ladle the batter evenly into the paper muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full. You should get about 12 muffins.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
8. Let sit in muffin tin for a few minutes until they are cool enough to transfer to a wire rack (or your belly!)
9. They are good all by themselves, with butter, or with a little honey drizzled over them as shown in the photo.

Be corny & enjoy!

Citrus French Toast

Listen up. Believe me when I tell you this is the best french toast I have ever eaten. The bread is dipped in a citrus flavored batter and the result is deee-licious! In all my years of making french toast, I would have never thought to prepare it this way. Usually I dip the bread in egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg. That’s good, but you need to try this. This was my second time making it and it won’t be my last!

The recipe comes from the Southern Living Kids Cookbook and I didn’t need to change a thing! Each week last summer, the kids got to pick a recipe from my cookbooks and cook it with my help. (I thought I should start them young with some mad kitchen skills!) My son chose a breakfast meal twice and this was one of them. It’s very easy and filled with flavor that even the kids enjoy.

Citrus French Toast
Ingredients:
1 cup Complete Pancake Mix (I use Aunt Jemima)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons grated orange rind (one large orange will do)
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (one lemon will do)
2 tablespoons powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
8 slices white sandwich bread

Directions:
Whisk the pancake mix, water, grated orange rind, grated lemon rind and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl.

Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a big skillet or griddle to coat it. Dip 2 slices of bread in batter, coating well. Cook a couple minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm. Melt another 2 tablespoons butters and dip another 2 slices in batter and cook. Repeat with the rest of the bread.To keep the finished french toast warm while you cook, you can put them in preheated 300 degree oven. (I like to use a cooling rack on a baking sheet so the air circulates.)

Serve with warm syrup or powdered sugar.
Makes 4 servings.

I posted this early enough so you can get what you need and whip it up for a delicious weekend breakfast!

{Note: To grate the orange and lemon rind, I love using my Microplane┬« Zester/Grater. It’s perfect for zesting citrus, but I also use it for fresh ground nutmeg and minced garlic. Make sure to only grate the colored part of the fruit and not the white part underneath. Keep turning the fruit as you grate and get all the color off.}

By the way, did you notice that there wasn’t even any bacon on that plate? Two reasons. Number One, I used all the bacon I had left for my sugar beans yesterday…and Number Two, this french toast is so yummy you won’t even miss the bacon! Well, just a little…

Enjoy!
~Micha