Saturday, November 28, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Greetings, Dear Readers.

For most, this holiday was not like any other. Many of us celebrated with a smaller circle of family or friends; some celebrated alone. However your holiday looked, I hope it was peaceful.

Here at my home, we made a much smaller feast - a turkey breast roast instead of a whole turkey. As we are not fans of white meat, we were quite surprised that it was very moist and flavorful. Of course, I'm sure that was mostly due to the butter/garlic mixture Mr B slathered all over it! I made a cranberry chutney from David Lebovitz's recent column that was probably the best cranberry side dish I've ever had. As David mentions, this chutney would be great alongside pork, roasted veggies, or even cheese. Also on the menu, a terrific sautéed greens with smoked paprika from The NY Times. And, because in my mind no meal is complete without bread, homemade dinner rolls from The Spruce Eats.

Cranberry Chutney with next-day turkey sammy

At the last minute I decided to make a dessert, but I really didn't feel like going through the whole pie routine. However I still wanted something pumpkin-y and Thanksgiving-ish. King Arthur Flour to the rescue. Their Pumpkin Spice Cake hit all my wants and desires: pumpkin ('natch), the essential fall spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; some dried fruit (raisins), and walnuts. No eggs, no sour cream, no yogurt - so chances are you've got everything you need in your cupboard right now (you probably even have a cup of pumpkin in your fridge that you didn't use in your T-Day desserts and were wondering what to do with it). Make. This. Cake. It is tender, SO moist, easy (doesn't require a mixer), quick, and absolutely delicious! All it needs is a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar and you're ready to enjoy. A dollop of whipped cream wouldn't hurt either, would it? 
It's snowing confectioners' sugar!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread


Just the name alone of this bread makes me happy.  Cinnamon. Crunch. Banana. Hmmmm. Happiness.

The other day I discovered a container of mashed bananas in the freezer and while there are probably thousands of banana bread recipes on the "Google machine," I felt the need for something a little more interesting. This recipe from the ever-reliable NYT Cooking site fit the bill; the only thing I changed was to add chopped walnuts to the batter and the topping (I felt it needed more crunch). 

I'm sure you have your own library of ready-to-go banana bread recipes, but I must enthusiastically recommend this one. The ratio of bananas/cinnamon/crunch is perfect. The bread is super-moist and packed with deliciousness. It is a little on the sweet side due to the double sugars in the topping (I don't mind that, but you can probably reduce the sugar a bit if it's a concern for you). A bonus is that you don't need an electric mixer - just two mixing bowls, a whisk, a couple of spatulas, and a 9x5 loaf pan. My cake sank a bit on the top after baking, but other than that, it is fabulous.

So go forth and bake this bread! Or, as they say on the Great British Baking Show: Ready, Set, BAKE!

Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread (NYT)

Ingredients for the batter:

Unsalted butter, for greasing

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 C granulated sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

1 t baking soda

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 C vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/4 C honey

1 C mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium bananas)

1/2 C chopped walnuts (my addition)

1/4 C warm water

Ingredients for the topping:

1/4 C brown sugar, preferably light brown or Demerara (I used light brown)

2 TB granulated sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

1/4 C chopped walnuts


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x5" loaf pan and line it with parchment or wax paper, leaving enough paper hanging over the sides to lift the cake out after baking. (This will prevent the topping from breaking when removing the bread from the pan.)

2. Prepare batter: in a medium bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using a sturdy whisk, beat together oil, eggs, and honey until smooth. Stir in bananas and warm water. Add dry ingredients to egg-oil mixture and stir to blend; stir in nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Make topping: in small bowl, mix brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nuts, using your fingers to break up any lumps. Sprinkle evenly over batter.

4. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour, checking after 50 minutes. If topping shows signs of burning, reduce heat to 325 degrees.

5. Remove to a rack and let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Use edges of paper to lift cake up and out. Place on a rack (leave the paper on) and let cool before slicing and serving.