Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

It’s snowing in Bucks County. We’re supposed to get 3-5 inches before it changes to a wintry mix and then to rain. By tomorrow the temperature rises into the 50’s so it will all melt away. Anyway, a snow day calls for some comfort food. This banana bread with chocolate chips is just the thing. I adapted this recipe from a standard and in mine I eliminate the nuts.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened, plus butter for the pan
  • 1½ cups all‐purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork until smooth (4 if they’re small)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi sweet morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Steps:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- x 5‐inch loaf pan with butter.

Mix together the dry ingredients. With a hand mixer, a whisk, or in the food processor, cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs, vanilla and bananas. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients, just enough to combine (it’s okay if there are lumps). Gently stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until nicely browned. A toothpick inserted in the center of the bread will come out fairly clean when done, but because of the bananas this bread will remain moister than most. Do not overcook. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

French Baguettes

I brought this recipe over from my author site. I had posted it when I was writing Breaking Bread, so this might seem familiar to some of you. The baguette is the most basic of breads, with the simplest ingredients but the most wonderful results. The composition of a traditional baguette is nothing more than flour, salt, yeast and water. You need no complicated tools, this can all be done by hand. Though it takes time to get from start to finish, most of that time is spent waiting for the rise. The actual working time is quite short. Here’s what you do:

We begin with a “starter” – a water/flour/yeast mixture that gives the yeast a head start in the consumption of the carbohydrates in the flour. The byproduct of ‘yeast eating sugar’ is CO2 and that is what makes bread rise.

Starter:
1 cup  flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (comfortable enough to dip a finger in)

Combine in a large bowl, cover and let rise 2-3 hours, until it gets bubbly.

When the starter has done its thing…

Add in:
1 tsp yeast
2 additional cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
Enough water to make a smooth dough (usually not more than another 1/4 cup)

Hand form dough into a smooth ball. (Or you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook) Place dough ball in a bowl dusted with flour, dust top with flour. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel. Let rise 40 minutes or until doubled in size.

When doubled, cut dough in half, keeping as much air in the dough as possible. Fold and roll dough pieces into 2 baguettes. Place on floured baking sheet*, cover and let rise an hour.

Heat oven to 425. Just before placing baguettes into the oven, slash the tops of the loaves diagonally several times. Moisture is the key to crusty loaves so either spritz the loaves with water or place a pan of water** on the lower rack of the oven to make steam as the bread bakes.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

*I actually use a baguette pan. I have a similar one for Italian loaves. These aren’t necessary but they do preserve the traditional shape. I hope these turn out for you if you try them. They are the perfect accompaniment to a hearty soup or stew. Bon appetit!

**I’ve recently switched to this method and I think it’s superior to spritzing. Place the pan in the oven while it is heating, so you already have steam by the time the loaves go in.

Spur of the moment Apple Cake

I recently was tasked with bringing an apple pie to a gathering. I’m really a novice with pie crust and am not confident enough to make a crust from scratch when I’m serving it to others. If the host is willing, my apple cake –a recipe I made up on the spur of the moment with ingredients I had on hand– is a surefire winner.

Here is my Spur of the Moment Apple Cake:

2-3 cups apples, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 shot apple jack (maybe apple brandy, although I haven’t tried that)*
1 shot lemon juice
1/3 cup oil
8 oz. sour cream
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease and flour a bundt pan
  • Sift together flour, baking soda and spices
  • Whisk together oil, egg, sour cream, lemon juice, apple jack and sugar
  • Combine with flour mixture to form batter
  • Stir in apples
  • Bake in bundt pan for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

*Last year, I made hard apple cider with locally grown apples. I ‘distilled’ a couple of bottles’ worth by freezing the cider and draining off the water several times to create apple jack, a semi hard liquor. At some point I’ll post about beer and cider making in detail.

Welcome to La Boulangerie

I’m not trying to become a food blogger but I do want a place to organize some of my own recipes. I figured while I was at it, I might as well share some of them. Just like my character Maya in Breaking Bread, Book Five of the Bucks County Novels, I love to bake and the idea of owning and operating a French Bakery Cafe is a (not so secret) fantasy of mine. I hope you will enjoy some of my recipes. I won’t post super regularly, only when I have something new to share.

Thanks a million for joining me!