the comeback kid: the chocolate chip pumpkin loaf

the comeback kid: the chocolate chip pumpkin loaf returns The chocolate chip pumpkin loaf has changed lives, I kid you not. My recipe and subsequent variations were adopted by a local coffee and cookie shop, it united coworkers who couldn’t bear to be in the same room with one another, and it’s a constant source of…well…yumminess. I debuted the recipe and my tinkering last year, and I think it’s time for a comeback. I baked this last night and instead of three loaves, I filled the two 9X5 inch pans and baked the loaves for 1.5hrs. However, either (2 or 3 pans) will suffice. I just wanted that overstuffed, over the top look of the loaf.

This week, get ready for my FAMOUS apple pie. I should have the recipe up latest Wednesday.

INGREDIENTS
3 cups white sugar (I will be using cane sugar)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil (I’m going to research a substitute for this. Will keep you all posted)
2/3 cup water
4 eggs (I will be using large room temperature eggs)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I will be using unbleached)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I will use dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I’m a purist. I’m not a fan of walnuts in my bread, so I’ll be nixing)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 1 pound size coffee cans, or three 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Fill cans 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from cans or pans.

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eat this: banana bread

banana bread: the unveiling! I adore autumn in New York. Fall is quite possibly my favorite season: the days darken, nubby wool sweaters are fluffed and worn, the terracotta leaves crunch underfoot. And of course, of course! autumn ushers in the cozy oven and the smells of seasoned apples, pumpkins and banana nut breads. Over the next few weeks I’ll be baking a storm. I’ll be bringing back old favorites like the chocolate chip pumpkin loaf (with some new twists!), the ginger cookies, chocolate pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins, and more delish treats to come. This morning, I decided to whip up a mainstay – Martha Stewart’s banana bread. This recipe is easy-breezy and took less than a 1/2 hr to prep. Enjoy!

Martha Stewart’s Banana Bread – from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Baking Banana Bread Ingredients: Please note that I use all local/organic ingredients because this is how I roll.
3 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar**
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups ripe mashed banana (about 3 medium)
1 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped***
1/2 cups buttermilk
Nonstick cooking spray

*I use unbleached flour
**I use cane sugar
***Nuts are optional. I loathe nuts in bread, so I nixed the nuts. But I invite you to chop up some pecans and use them as a topping!

Baking Banana Bread: the batter Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9×5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil on medium-low speed until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Add the vanilla, banana, coconut, nuts, and buttermilk, and beat just to combine.
3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and let cool completely. Bread can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

baking banana bread: rotating the loaves My Notes: The batter will be lumpy! Don’t freak out. Remember, you’re mixing to just combine. However, I always fold after I mix just to ensure that all ingredients are evenly incorporated (especially if you’re using a stand mixer, like me). Over-mixing is deadly when it comes to cake loaves – the dry, gluten bread taste ensues, and no one wants that for banana bread. Seriously. Also, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature as varying temperatures will affect how quickly the cake will cook and will make for a tougher, uneven taste. Typically, I take out all my fridge ingredients (eggs, milk) and leave them out 30-45min before I hit the stand mixer running.

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how to make the ultimate crumb cake!

Crumb Cake for Breakfast Yesterday was supposed to be a picnic-filled day. A day of croquette and flirty dresses, scampering around the park with friends. Raucous was supposed to have ensued. We might have misplaced a shoe while running through cool grass. I was supposed to be surrounded by masses. Instead, I chose to spend time with myself. I called the crew and let them know that today I would be celebrating Sunday with a mini out-of-town adventure. So I had my adventure and it was a thing that one savors rather than writes about, but when I came home I was invigorated, not my usual tired self, and I set out to fix a fail-safe cake: the crumb coffee cake. There’s something about baking which soothes me. Perhaps it’s the science – the methodic measuring of ingredients – because I’m the project-planning, chart-wielding kind. Perhaps it’s the waft of cinnamon which puts one to thinking of a sweet childhood (not mine, but one I imagine), home. Or perhaps it’s the joy of making something from nothing.

So I plugged in the headphones, relaxed to some Film School and sifted, creamed, buttered, baked, napped, woke, cooled, sliced, smiled. smiled. smiled.

From the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook (aka, the baker’s bible)

CLASSIC CRUMB CAKE
Note: I use all local/organic ingredients

• 10 tablespoons room temperature butter*
• 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour**
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup sugar***
• 3 large eggs
• 1 & 1/4 cups sour cream****
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Crumb Topping (3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 3 1/2 sticks***** of room temperature butter)
• Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 pan and set aside.

It's Alive!Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside the flour mixture. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (approx 3-4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well so that each egg is incorporated into the mixture. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture (I added the flour gradually so that it can be absorbed slowly) and sour cream. Mix just until blended. DO NOT overmix or you will yield the hockey puck effect. I usually mix until all the ingredients have combined (20-30 seconds) and I finish off with folding the mixture (to ensure all the flour from the bottom of the mixer is incorporated) with a rubber spatula.

Spread batter evenly into pan. Top with crumb topping. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool on a wire rack for well over an hour (I left my cake out for two hours). Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Get Ready for Your Close-up *Quick tip on getting your butter to come to room temperature quickly: dice cold butter in tablespoons and leave out on the counter. The butter will come to room temperature in 45 minutes rather than a few hours
**I used unbleached
***I used cane sugar
****I used reduced fat sour cream
*****I used 2 1/2 sticks of butter because I couldn’t bear to use almost a pound of butter. The topping will not yield the ultimate crumble, however, the butter is a binding/flavoring agent, and it does the job at 2 1/2 sticks. With a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, this was an utter delight the next day.

Necessary Soundtrack: Film School’s Alwaysnever. Notable tracks: “Ms. Connection” and “Activated”

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don’t you just want to SHOVE this in your mouth?!

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Yummier, originally uploaded by Thinking Violet.

I LOATHE SUMMER! I LOATHE SUMMER! There, I said it. I hate shirts that stick to skin, my corpse-pallor which refuses to turn pink and gold, and the oppressive heat that makes me desperate for copper leaves and heady cakes whose sole purpose is to fragrant a kitchen. I love cashmere sweaters and crisp mornings, squash soup and the promise of the lights and celebration of the holiday season. Every year, come Christmas, my father warns me that he could die at any moment and I respond by shoving hot pie in his mouth. We look forward to these rituals and insane banter; they keep us closer.

So imagine my giddiness! my glee! to have my first pumpkin and squash pepper soup! a first glance at the pumpkins hailing in from New England. The possibility of pumpkin spiced bread!!!

As I liken my chocolate addiction to crack, what could be better than combining my two loves – autumn produce (in the form of a voluptuous pumpkin) and a shower of dreamy chocolate chips? The girls are coming over Saturday for our baking fest & trust that this, dear friends, will be shoved in all of our mouths!!!

INGREDIENTS (Recipe from All Recipes)
3 cups white sugar (I will be using cane sugar)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil (I’m going to research a substitute for this. Will keep you all posted)
2/3 cup water
4 eggs (I will be using large room temperature eggs)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I will be using unbleached)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I will use dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I’m a purist. I’m not a fan of walnuts in my bread, so I’ll be nixing)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 1 pound size coffee cans, or three 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Fill cans 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from cans or pans.

cake + sweet loaf recipes foodie gal

adventures in baking: chocolate cake

nigella's chocolate cake... what else does a girl need but an almost celestial slice of moist, frosted chocolate cake when all the proverbial chips are hailing down.

a few things to note:
1. The Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe comes from Nigella’s Feast book – the Food Network is doing a crap job posting the correct recipes corresponding to her shows (meaning, they’re not). Nigella has many chocolate cake recipes, however, for me, this is the easiest of the lot. It’s all one bowl baking.
2. ensure all ingredients are at room temperature. unless you’re making pastry, tarts or anything that involves a pie or a crust, all baking should be done with ingredients which have up to room temp.
3. ensure that your levening agents: baking powder & soda haven’t expired.
4. always use unsalted butter
5. use the very best cocoa and chocolate you can find. trust me, it makes a difference
6. usually for chocolate cakes, I add a little bit of coffee. although this recipe doesn’t directly call for it, it wouldn’t hurt. coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate
7. i use certified organic, certified humane eggs, which i purchase from local farms. a favorite: flying pigs farm

OK. Here are the goods (comments in parentheses are mine) (more…)

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