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Archive for the ‘Banana’ Category

I like to search for recipes on the internet.  One of the advantages of many internet recipes is that you can read the comments made by those who have already tried the recipe.  Not only do they tell how good the recipe is, but they also talk about changes or variations to the posted recipe that they have made.  And then there are the comments seconding or reviewing those changes.

The banana chocolate chip cake recipe posted here today epitomizes finding a well received recipe and adjusting it significantly based on the recommendations and feedback to the recommendations as well as my own experience baking.  The ingredients and/or quantities listed below vary from the original recipe so much that I have no trouble labeling the recipe my own.   Only 3 of the 11 ingredients are unvaried from the original recipe; even the pan is changed.

Now on to what matters: the cake.  Although I often try to make cakes recipes that use canola oil rather than butter, I cannot deny that butter makes a better tasting cake and this recipe uses butter – but not quite as much as the original recipe called for.  I also use low fat buttermilk, but you can substitute any variety of milk you prefer.  Since this cake is not frosted, you are not getting the overdose of saturated fat most cakes have.  As to the chocolate chips, try it with standard sized chips or the minis and please let us know which you enjoyed most.   All pertinent feedback is welcome.  You’re even welcome to guess which 3 ingredients are unaltered from the original recipe (and no, flour is not one of them).

Some cooking hints: I find the best way to mash bananas is to place them in a wide soup bowl and mash them with a fork.  Of course, this depends on how overripe your bananas are and the strength of your fork.  A nice feature of this cake is being able to visually tell when it is ready to come out of the oven.  Since the cake is not frosted you want the top to appear golden in color.  Yes, the toothpick may come out clean sooner but the extra minute or two to get that nice appearance is worth it and does not impact the result.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Cake – 1 Rolling pin

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon baking soda (1.5 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup low fat buttermilk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cook:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt
  • In a separate bowl, combine bananas, egg, melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla extract
  • Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until blended.  Be careful not to over mix.
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Pour into 9 inch round pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (see cooking hints above).
  • Remove cake from oven and allow the cake to cool before removing it from the pan.

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I love it when a delicious recipe is beyond stupid easy.  It makes me happy.  Why should good food have to be difficult?  This banana bread recipe is as easy as it gets when it comes to baking.  The best part is you can add goodies like chocolate chips and walnuts to it to add flair.

When baking with bananas you want them to be over ripe, but not yet rotten.  It’s a fine line.  But a banana with lots of brown spots usually is perfect for baking.  You want it to be super ripe and soft so that mashing it is easy.

 

Banana Bread – ½ rolling pin

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (plus additional to grease the pan)
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar (you can also use regular sugar instead)
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Prep:

  1. An hour before baking set out the butter to soften.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  3. Using spare butter grease a loaf pan (about 8 x 3½ x 4 inches) on all sides.
  4. In a bowl mash the bananas with a fork until they are well mashed and gooey.  Set aside.
  5. Break the eggs into a small bowl, making sure no shells fall in with the eggs.  Then beat the eggs with a fork and set aside.
  6. Measure out the yogurt and set aside.

Bake:

  1. In a large bowl beat the butter with a fork until creamy.
  2. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  3. Add the eggs to the sugar and butter and mix until fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking soda.
  5. With a spatula stir in 1/3 of the flour to the butter and sugar and mix until incorporated.
  6. Next add the yogurt and stir until mixed in.
  7. Add another 1/3 of the flour and stir until mixed in.
  8. Add the bananas to the bowl and stir until well incorporated.
  9. Add the last of the flour and stir until well mixed.
  10. Add to the bowl the chocolate chips and/or walnuts if you are including them and stir until they are mixed in.
  11. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for one hour.
  12. Allow the bread to cool in the pan before serving and enjoy!

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I’ve had a long hiatus from potluck this past month.  It was a combination of me being out of town, Ben being out of town, or having other more pressing commitments.  But… potluck is back, and this week is Pie Week.  In honor of International Pi Day (March 14, think about it) we are observing it a day early with pies.  My contribution to the pie goodness this week is banana cream.

This recipe is very straight forward.  Just take it step by step, follow to the letter, and you will do fine.  If you don’t want to make homemade whipped cream, or don’t have the equipment, shortcutting with store-bought is ok by me, especially since I took a shortcut on the crust.  (I had one leftover from when I cooked quiche the other month.)

One quick pointer on the bananas:  I usually find the bananas at the grocery store a tad bit too green to use.  To speed up the ripening process at home I buy an apple and place it with the bananas in my fruit basket.  The enzymes from the apple will cause the bananas to ripen faster.  For everyday banana storage it’s actually best to keep them away from the apples.

Banana Cream Pie – 1 Rolling Pin (Adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

Ingredients:

  • 1 deep-dish 9-inch pie shell
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the whipped cream topping:

  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300º Fahrenheit.
  2. Take the pie shell out of the freezer and allow to thaw for 10 minutes.
  3. To prep the pie shell to bake there are two steps you can take.  Choose the step that works for you: 1) Using a fork score the bottom and sides of the pie shell by piercing holes in the dough about 1 inch apart. 2) Line the bottom of the inside of the pie shell with either tin foil or parchment paper and place either pie weights or dry beans on top in an even layer.
  4. Bake the pie shell in the oven on a baking sheet for 7 minutes.  If you scored the crust and it puffs too much when it cooks you can score it additionally as it’s cooking, just be careful not to burn yourself.
  5. Allow the crust to cool.  (And remove pie weights or beans and the lining if you used them.  Save the beans as “pie beans” for future baking adventures.)
  6. Remove the peel from the bananas.  Cut each banana in half lengthwise (down the length of the whole banana) and then cut the banana into thin slices (about ¼ inch thick).  Set the bananas aside.
  7. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, saving the yolks in a bowl and discarding the whites.  This video shows how to do it.

Bake:

  1. In a bowl combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt.
  2. Add the egg yolks to the sugar and whisk until smooth.  For this recipe it is difficult to get away with my trademark shortcut of using a fork instead of a whisk.
  3. In a medium saucepan add the milk and place over medium heat.   Bring the milk to a simmer, and be careful to make sure a film doesn’t form on the top.
  4. Once the milk is simmering measure out ½ cup and slowly add it to the sugar and eggs.  Whisk constantly while adding the milk in a slow stream until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour the egg, sugar and milk mixture into the saucepan full of milk.
  6. Whisking constantly (constantly!) cook the mixture until it becomes very thick and bubbles, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the mixture from the stove and pour it into a heat-proof bowl.
  8. Add two tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.
  9. Add the bananas to the bowl and stir until well mixed.
  10. Pour the banana cream into the pie crust, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and allow to chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
  11. Before you are ready to serve beat together in a bowl the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with a whisk until soft peaks form.   When you pull the whisk from the cream it will create peaks, and will have a texture similar to what comes out of those store-bought tubs (aka Coolwhip).
  12. Remove the plastic wrap from the pie and spread the whipped cream over the top, spreading it with a spoon or spatula.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

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