I have been searching for something lately to take the edge off my sugar and carb cravings in the morning. If I was like my slender cajun cousins, whose father led the way, eating cereal and ice cream in a large salad bowl while remaining achingly thin, I would begin the day with croissants and doughnuts, or perhaps one of the new pastries, a cronut, a diabolical doughnut made from fried croissant dough. I could not in good conscience accompany my A.M greek yogurt and fruit with such an indulgence, and since it would immediately go to my posterior, I came up with “Plan B.”
Banana bread came to mind. I grew up enjoying my mother’s banana bread, made in a dark tin loaf pan but with half the sugar of the recipe (my mom didn’t believe in sugar, or too much of it at least). It was good, but not great (sorry, Mom!). My next choice was the Starbucks banana bread recipe I had copied and tucked in my recipe binder. For some reason the coffee behemoth oddly decided to print the recipe for their banana bread online for a brief while. The recipe makes an astonishingly good loaf of banana bread and is even loved by avowed banana bread haters. So, instead of a cronut, I enjoy a modest slice of this bread with my breakfast, content that I am eating bread and cake, but with fruit and nut goodness. My only secret? Not using overly ripe bananas, because I simply don’t like overly ripe bananas in smell or taste. THis is a quick two-bowl recipe, and I did cut the sugar from the original recipe. Mom, you are always right.
Sort-Of Starbucks Banana Bread
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 bananas mashed with a potato masher
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 deg.
Mix together dry ingredients; blend egg, oil, sugar, and oil until combined. Add dry ingredients; mix well and fold in mashed bananas
and 3/4 cup walnuts, reserving 1/4 cup for topping. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan (parchment paper/cooking spray) and bake for
one hour. Remove from pan and let cool to room temperature before serving.
The word certainly has different connotations depending on where you are from. Where I grew up, buns are soft, white, puffy…bread. A bun is not a slice of bread, it is your own, individual round with lots of golden crust and a tender interior. Buns are best the first day they are made, slightly warm with fresh unsalted butter, but I usually keep some in the freezer just in case. They make wonderful sandwich buns- meatloaf, or chicken salad are a beautiful complement to the tender, yielding crumb. Buns are a staple in my family, and though we aren’t in Midwest anymore, buns are the bread that brings us back to the wheat plains of Minnesota. My mother still talks about the ethereal yeast buns her Scandinavian grandma Cora made. I’ll never match Cora’s- no one could- but just as my grandma and mother made this version of buns, so do I. The recipe is my mother’s…but each bun-maker will add their own touch.I have made this recipe so many times that I always think I know it by heart…until I forget a key ingredient. So now I always look at this deceptively simple recipe before I start.
In a gluten-free, sugar-free, reduced sodium, and trans-fat policed nation, these white flour buns may be the most sinful carbohydrate to ever meet your mouth. Mmmm. Those Northlanders know what they’re doing.
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. shortening
2 tsp kosher salt
4 cups (approximately) flour
1 packet active dry yeast
Mix ingredients together as for a standard yeast bread; proof yeast in water. Mix to make a soft, pliant dough. Let proof covered for 2 hours.Form into buns, lightly rolling in flour if too sticky. Place on greased pan and let rise covered with saran wrap or tea towel until light finger imprint no longer remains on risen bun. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
When Marie Antoinette cried, “Let them eat cake,” it is said the French word she used was brioche, the pillowy, egg and butter-rich long-rising yeast dough traditionally made in a tinned and fluted brioche mold with a topknot of dough. This insult, telling her starving and displeased subjects to enjoy a luxurious hybrid between bread and cake, was a galling choice of words.
Speaking for myself bread and cake are two of my favorite things in life. This rustic baguette was made simply and quickly using a dough of:
¾ cup water
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup graham wheat flour
3 Tbsp. rye flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp active dry yeast
My 10-minute secret: the bread machine’s dough only setting. Let technology do the hard work for you. When ready to form divide dough in two pieces; roll in baguette shapes, slash, and let rise covered in saran on an oiled pan for 30-40 minutes. Bake at 425 deg. For about 30 minutes.
Lemon cake…divine. Easter treat enjoyed by all.