Tag: quick bread

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

I’ll be honest, with the exception of one recipe  I haven’t had great success with banana bread over the years. It’s always stodgy and damp, not enough lift, and often not banana-y enough in flavor. Recently, there were 3 brown bananas on the counter and I debated tossing them into the freezer to keep browning for a banana bread or smoothie in the future but then I thought, screw it! And I made this recipe up as I went along. The result? The best damn banana bread I’ve ever made! Fast! No mixer! Easy to do with minimal ingredients! Honestly, it’s a winner.

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the wet ingredients together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing just until combined with each addition. Scrape the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan then cool completely, out of the pan, on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Blueberry Tea Cake

If we are Twitter pals, you may recall that a couple weeks ago I tweeted a smattering of frantic SOS-like questions pertaining to the exact whereabouts of a particular lemon and blueberry loaf that I was so sure I had seen and read, then forgotten, then remembered, and ultimately misplaced. I still haven’t found it. It is somewhere, out in the blog-osphere, taunting me. One day I will find it.

The reason for the panic was that I had been talking food (what else?) with my dear friend, Janna, who is a real delight and understands that all cannot be right with the world when one is on the hunt for a recipe. See, I had promised to forward it to her, but then I’d forgotten where I had seen it, and I was trying to appear organized, resourceful and master of my baking domain. Instead, I failed and flailed, but being the excellent friend that she is, Janna sent me a recipe instead. Her mother’s cinnamon loaf recipe, to be exact.

I read it through. It seemed simple enough. It called for soured milk (nothing a spritz of lemon wouldn’t solve) but I happened to have buttermilk. The cinnamon and brown sugar promised an intoxicating aroma, and as Janna put it, “Your whole house will smell sweet. It just takes over!”. Sold.

But there I was, still with the lemon blueberry loaf on my mind, and then it hit me … blueberries and cinnamon. Oh yes. Oh. Yes.  So I whipped up the batter (shockingly runny!) and layered it with the cinnamon sugar, then deftly thwacked the heavy, dark berries into the surface. Into the oven it went. As if by magic, or the delicious psychic-ism of old friends, the phone rang. Who else but Janna?

“I’m making your mom’s cinnamon loaf. ”

“Oooooooh I bet your house smells like my childhood right now!”

“I added blueberries and used buttermilk.”

“Oh. Well, it will still be really good.”

An hour later, the phone call over, the cake emerged, golden, spiced and berries bubbling. I was glad I had baked it in a heart shaped dish — it made me smile. Cooled and cut, dusted with powdered sugar, it was fantastic; simple and homey. It was a far cry from lemon but somehow, thanks to the thoughtfulness of a friend and a dependable recipe, all was right with the world.

Cinnamon Blueberry Tea Cake

adapted from a family recipe  

preheat your oven to 350°

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1/4 C butter

1 C sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 C buttermilk

1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen. if frozen, do not thaw)

Grease and flour a standard loaf pan or 8×8 square pan, set aside.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat until pale, fluffy and well incorporated.

In a second bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

Pour approximately one 3rd of the dry mixture into the wet mixture, incorporate swiftly without over mixing. Add 1/2 the buttermilk, again, incorporating swiftly. Repeat, alternating with the remaining 2/3 of the dry ingredients and the second 1/2 of the buttermilk. The batter will be quite wet, similar to pancake batter.

Pour a thin layer of the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle over some of cinnamon sugar mixture. Alternate, making layers until both the batter and the cinnamon sugar are used. Swirl the layers with a knife, chopstick, skewer, etc.

Drop the blueberries, in a single layer all over the surface. Push some of them down into the batter and let others remain on top.

Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 mins. The cake will be done when a toothpick or skewer inserted in its center comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then turn the cake out to cool completely. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Grapefruit Tea Cake

You may have noticed that I am a fan of quick breads. What’s not to love about an easy to make sweet that mixes up fast and pops out of its loaf pan less than an hour later? This particular loaf was borne of a curiosity (if lemon loaf is good, them wouldn’t grapefruit loaf be good too? hmmm …..) and an abundance of grapefruit. We have been eating ruby grapefruits a lot in the last few weeks and although they are more tedious to eat (if you’re nuts like me and you can’t bear to eat any pith or membrane because all you want is the sweet, juicy flesh). They have been very enjoyable and a nice break from oranges.

We are also beginning the process of transforming our useless swamp of a back yard into an agricultural oasis. This urban gardening experience is happening in part because we have opened it up to some apartment dwelling friends with green thumbs, thereby creating a community garden, literally in our own back yard. In anticipation of brunch and our first day out in the yard, I wanted to try out a new recipe or two and since there were no lemons to speak of in the house, but about a dozen plump, ripe, pink and delicious grapefruits I thought I’d try to see what I could do with them. This is by no means a way to use up a plethora of grapefruits (I only needed one) but this humble, hearty loaf does pack a nice citrus punch, and the shamelessly sugary glaze helps you forget that its whole wheat.

If you’re feeling hesitant about the whole wheat flour, or you just don’t have any one hand, there is no reason not to use plain all purpose flour. Likewise, cake flour would yield an even more refined crumb. Either way, it’s just the thing with a strong cup of tea.

Grapefruit Tea Cake

preheat your oven to 350 degrees

3 Cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 Cup of butter, room temperature

1 cup of sugar

4 eggs

zest of 1 grapefruit

1/4 a cup of grapefruit juice

1/4 of a cup of milk

3/4 cup sour cream

Combine the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together with electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next one. Add the zest. Beat until pale in colour and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the grapefruit juice and milk slowly to the butter mixture with the mixer running — it may curdle slightly — don’t be alarmed, it will be fine in the end.

Add the dry ingredients, one half at a time, alternating with the sour cream. Mix gently until fully combined.

Scrape into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tip out of the loaf pans onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes before glazing. Glazing while warm allows the glaze to be partly absorbed into the cake.

For the glaze:

this is the amount of glaze you will need per loaf

Scoop 6 tablespoons of icing sugar into a bowl.

Add a pinch of salt.

Pour in a few tablespoons of grapefruit juice and stir.

Aim for the texture of whipping cream, or slightly thicker.

Pour slowly over warm cake allowing the glaze to soak in.

Corn Bread

Corn bread seems to be one of those recipes that can, over time, become a closely guarded family secret. There are so many ways to make it, and depending on where your family is from there will be different ‘rules’ that apply. Although it is practically a staple in the American south, cornbread transcends borders and cultures because it is simple to make, economical and extremely versatile.

I grew up knowing corn bread as a pan bread, often baked in a cast-iron skillet, it’s soft, wet  yellow batter baking into a crunchy bottomed, crisp topped round. With this recipe I wanted to look at it more as a quick bread, still unyeasted of course, but more bread-like in shape and almost cake-like in consistency. Employing ‘the muffin method’ (quickly combining wet and dry ingredients at the last moment) to the batter seemed to make sense and I’m happy to say that it worked out beautifully. Using a deep loaf pan made for a long cooking time, but the wait is well worth it; you are rewarded with a moist, tender loaf with a deep fresh-corn flavour. We ate this along roasted chicken and the Radicchio Salad posted earlier this week but it would make a great accompaniment to stews, chili or soups as well. Enjoy!

Corn Bread

preheat your oven to 350 degrees

1 cup of fine yellow cornmeal

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a cup of frozen kernel corn

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups of milk

1/2 a cup of butter, melted

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Beat eggs and set aside.

Add the frozen corn to the dry ingredients and stir well.

Mix the melted butter with the milk, add the beaten eggs. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix quickly to combine. Don’t over mix, allow for some dry spots and lumps. The batter will be thick. Scrape the batter into a large, buttered loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or up to an hour and 15 minutes.  Test for doneness with a wooden toothpick or skewer.

Invert the loaf onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

When you’re in the depths of a west coast winter and the weekends are drizzly and grey and you’re indulging yourself in some well-deserved downtime (maybe an hour or two as the laundry does it’s thing, or as you catch up on some reading) sometimes you just want a little something to have with tea in the afternoon. Something that’s quick to make, low maintenance and gives you a high return on your minimal effort. Something sweet but not cloying that doesn’t make you feel like you have started your week in a nutritional deficit. Something just … right.

While most of North America tunes into the Super Bowl today, our household (a distinctly non-football-watching household) is enjoying the peace and quiet of a catch-up Sunday, as we all catch up on things from the week. Laundry will be done, beds will be changed, a Sunday dinner will be leisurely constructed throughout the afternoon. But in the middle of these low-impact activities there will be a short tea-time reprieve with this humble loaf.

Chocolate zucchini loaf is often a delicious result of a late summer bumper crop of zucchini. If you have ever grown zucchini you will understand because if their growing conditions are right, they will yield like almost no other vegetable and you will be up to your ears in zucchini.

So here it is, February, and obviously we are not faced with a zucchini surplus. However we almost always have some in the fridge because it is a well loved and oft used veggie in our house. When the itch for something for tea struck, my mind went almost immediately to the small, tender zucchini in the crisper drawer. If you have never had it and are dubious about the combination, don’t be. The chocolate is the star and the zucchini adds unparalleled moistness and cooks away almost to invisibility.


Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

preheat your oven to 375 degrees

1 cup grated zucchini (two small “courgette” size or about 1 medium)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Grate the zucchini and set aside.

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with a fork until well scrambled.

Add the sugar, whisk with a fork until well combined. Add vanilla and oil. Mix thoroughly.

Add the zucchini to the wet ingredients and stir to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the wet. Mix together with as few strokes as possible until the mixture is wet, but not over-mixed.

Scrape into a well greased loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees for 55 minutes. To test, insert a skewer or toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow the loaf to cool for 5 mins in the pan on a wore rack, then invert out of the pan and allow to cool completely on the rack before slicing and serving.