Category Archives: Bakery

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

As promised, I’ve dashed off this recipe for those who were eager to get their hands on it. In my opinion, it was good but not great. If I were to make it again, I’d perhaps add a little more oil for that decadent fat flavor. I’d also probably up the spice ante, and may be so bold as to double it. In my infinite wisdom, I bothered to first mix my flax and a little water together as the side of the bag said it was an “egg substitute” and I added molasses thinking the sticky texture would help bind the bread in the absence of eggs. I don’t know if all that extra labor was necessary. Molasses is certainly delicious and should be included. If not on hand, just put in more sugar, either white or brown.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 can pumpkin puree)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flax with water in a bowl. Add oil and sugars (brown, white and molasses). Mix.
  3. Add pumpkin puree to the wet mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (flours, spices, salt, baking soda)
  5. Pour dry into wet and mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in most of the nuts.
  7. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle additional walnuts on the top.
  8. Bake 50 minutes until 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean.
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Banana Bread

Banana bread is wonderfully delicious and easy to whip up, especially if you keep extra ripe bananas frozen in your freezer. This last time, I forgot to take my bananas out early, so I “speed defrosted” them by sticking the frozen bananas on top of the preheating stove. By the time I got everything else together, they were good and soft.

My grandmum always seems to have a loaf around her house. Whenever we’d visit there would be bread sitting on the table, or if we were really lucky, a loaf for each of us to take home. Her bread was always wonderfully moist. She swears her secret is adding a tablespoon of water to the recipe. So, every time I make a loaf, I think of her. I used to make her recipe, but I began to tweak it as it calls for vegetable shortening and three sources of sodium (baking soda, baking powder, salt).

I made one loaf of banana bread about a week ago, with only a few tweaks to my grandmother’s recipe (butter instead of crisco, no water added, less sugar) and it didn’t turn out so hot. It was slightly burnt (even though the recipe said 50-60 minutes) at 50 minutes of cooking and tasted “meh.”  Plus, it was better on the “health” factor but still rather low with all that sodium. Banana bread’s hard to mess up so long as it isn’t brick-quality over burnt so I still ate it, but I figured I could do better. After consulting Simply Recipes banana bread recipe, I came to a happy (and delicious) medium between her recipe and my grandmother’s, which is detailed below.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted or softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt (less than 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cups walnuts (optional, but very yummy)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas with the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together separately.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the sugary eggy banana butter mush and stir with a spoon until just combined.
  6. Fold in nuts if you’re including them.
  7. Pour into a loaf pan that you’ve sprayed with vegetable oil. These can also easily be muffins, but baking time will be severely reduced.
  8. Bake the banana bread for 45 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick at 45 minutes to see if its done (mine was and looked beautiful!).

Enjoy.

 

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Apple Cake

I’ve made this cake about three or four times in as many weeks. Every time it has come out quite tasty. I’ve used both a bundt pan and a pyrex 9×13 to cook it up. I’ve tossed some of the apples on the bottom of the pan and put the rest in batter, or mixed them all in the batter. Basically, it’s a hard cake to screw up. Cake’s a bit of a misnomer as it’s more like a delicious apple muffin. Slather some frosting on it, either a glaze or some cream cheese frosting if you want a more cake-like experience. I imagine it could also be turned into muffins easily, just adjust the bake time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal (optional)
  • 2 3/4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp cloves
  • 1 Cup walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup dried blueberries (optional)
  • 4-6 Apples, diced (any good cooking apples- I’ve used cortlands and crispins before)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop the apples and coat with a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Mix the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.
  4. Combine the flax (optional), flour, salt, and spices together in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture until combined.
  6. Stir in the walnuts and dried berries (optional).
  7. Fold in the chopped apples.
  8. Pour into an oiled 9×13 pan or a bundt pan.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Try not to eat it all in one day, it’s that tasty!

 

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Rum Cake

This cake was a huge hit at my friends’ party last night. Based on its deliciousness, one friend quipped that I should open my own bakery.  I don’t have the wherewithal to do all that noise, but bottom-line, the cake rocks. Make this cake when you’re having a gathering otherwise you’ll want to devour it all yourself.

I based my glaze drizzling process on what was detailed on Pioneer Woman’s blog, but my recipe was a modification of several recipes I found online.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 2 Tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 Cups dark rum (I used Sailor Jerry’s)
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 Tsp salt
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • Rum glaze

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs, vanilla. Blend to combine.
  4. Add in the rum and blend until combined.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter, alternating between the two (adding about 1/3 each go), beginning and ending with flour. Blend on low after each addition until just combined (a few seconds each).
  7. Pour into greased bundt pan.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes. If you insert a toothpick into the cake, it should come out clean.
  9. While the cake is still in the pan, slowly drizzle 1/3 of the rum glaze over the cake, giving it time to seep in. Let it soak for 5 minutes and then invert the cake onto a cake platter or plate. Be sure whatever surface has a sufficient rim to trap in the rum glaze that will spill out! (I did not, and ended up with glaze spilled all over my counter and floor. I ended up sticking the cake in a pyrex pie dish).
  10. Poke all over the cake with the tines of a fork. Then slowly drizzle the glaze all over the cake.
  11. Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake

I made this cake for a friend’s party, but it smelled so good coming out of the oven I wanted to scarf it down immediately, sans frosting.  A lot of carrot cake recipes have nuts or pineapple or applesauce in them.  This recipe is simple and to the point: a delicious cake. It also makes great cupcakes (just begin checking done-ness at around 15 minutes) or can be doubled to make a large 9 x 13 x 2 rectangular cake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the two eggs.  Add sugars, vanilla, and oil.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add the grated carrots to the wet mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Gently stir in the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 9 x 2″ pan.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Frost with a mildly sweet cream cheese frosting, like my “Good with Everything” cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

 

 

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Pita Bread

Pitas seem like one of those hard to make breads, but they’re actually pretty simple to whip up.  The hardest part is mastering the art of “puffing.”  In order for the rolled flat bread to puff up, leaving you with that great pocket, the proper balance of warm oven, rested dough, and rolled consistency needs to be reached.  Out of the eight loaves made in my first attempt most puffed at least a little, two or three remained pretty flat, and only one properly puffed up like a balloon.

I devoured two loaves while they were still warm.  I can attest to the fact that they are still delicious if less than perfectly executed.  The improperly puffed breads end up more like Indian naan.

I worked from this recipe from The Fresh Loaf blog.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, roughly at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar together in a bowl.  Add the water and oil and stir to combine into a ball of dough.  Add a little more water if the dough isn’t coming together or a little more flour if it is too sticky.
  2. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the surface of the dough ball in oil.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Let it rise until doubled in bulk, approximately 90 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees as early as you can.  You want that stove nice and piping hot.  (I preheated mine for close to an hour, but my apartment was also freezing so I can’t judge if that was excessive or necessary).
  5. Punch the dough down.
  6. Place an inverted cookie sheet on the oven rack to preheat (or pizza peel or stone if you’ve got it).
  7. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and cover again with a damp towel or plastic wrap (I inverted the bowl the dough rose in over the balls).
  8. Let the 8 balls rest for 20 minutes.
  9. With a rolling pin on a lightly floured counter, roll out each dough ball to between 1/8 and 1/4 an inch think.
  10. Let the rolled dough rest for about 5 minutes before placing in the oven.  Place as many rolled pitas onto the baking pan as you can comfortably fit (I put two in the oven each go).
  11. Bake at 500 degrees. Pitas will be cooked through in 3 minutes (so set the timer and keep watch).  I cooked mine for 3.5 to 4 minutes in order for them to also be a little golden brown.
  12. While cooking loaves, roll out the next round.  After pulling out freshly baked loaves, close the oven and give it a few minutes to get back up to temperature.  You want your oven as hot as you possibly can get it to mimic the traditional brick oven cooking method.

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Gram’s Apple Pie

A 3 pound bag of Macintosh apples was calling my name late on a Saturday night.  I pulled out my recipe box and realized in a frantic panic that I had “Gram’s stir and roll pie crust” but did not have the recipe for “Gram’s apple pie.”  I’ve watched my grandmother make it nearly every time I’ve gone to visit and I’ve watched my mother make it numerous times.  Despite this extensive firsthand experience with how to make the magic happen, I’d forgotten half the important details.  I couldn’t recall if it was only brown sugar that was used, and how much, and precisely how long and at what temperature the pie should be baked.

Fearful that it may already be too late to salvage my plans to make pie that night, I called my mother.  She sounded groggy (it was midnight after all) but she fortunately had enough wits about her to tell me all the important details.  I’m sure I’ve called for this pie recipe several times before.  This time I’ve written it down.

Apple pie is one of those recipes that takes longer to type out the break down 0f the steps involved in assembly than it takes to make.  My recipe says: “cinnamon, br sug 1/2c-1c, let sit a while, lil flour if soupy, 400 degrees, 45m-1h, pan under for drippings.” This was the boiled down essence of my conversation with my mother and I know precisely what this means.  Unfortunately it does not translate well to others.  D would chide the fact that “apples” are not listed.  I’d argue it’s an apple pie, of course there are apples so there’s no need to write it in (just like my hummus recipe does not list chick peas).  How many apples? It’s also irrelevant to list exactly since it is as many as you need to over stuff your pie shell, which is equal to an eyeballed guess while filling a bowl as to how many you think you can squeeze in there before you’ll have problems.

Ingredients:

  • pie crust (See previous post for easy stir and roll crust recipe)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of apples (equal to roughly 8-10 apples)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 tbsp flour

Directions:

  1. Peel the apples and slice into bite size chunks into a large bowl.
  2. Add the brown sugar to the apples and stir well.
  3. Add the cinnamon to the apples and stir well.
  4. Let the apples sit for at least half an hour and up to several hours, stewing in the cinnamon, sugar, and their own juices.  This is what makes the pie extra yum!
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Prepare your pie crust (this will depend on the type of crust you’re using).  Frozen crusts work in a pinch, but nothing beats the taste of homemade.  A decadent butter crust would be awesome, but the easy stir and roll recipe from my previous post is a good standby, no frills, “I want pie now” type crust.
  7. With the stir and roll: mix all the ingredients together. Use your hands to press the dough together and ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed and incorporated.  Squish it into a ball and cut it in half with a knife.
  8. Flatten 1/2 the dough into a hockey puck disk between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out the dough until it is large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pie dish.
  9. Remove the wax paper from one side of the dough, slide your hand underneath the other sheet of wax paper and plop the rolled dough into the pie dish.  Remove the other sheet of wax paper from the top of the dough.
  10. Using the tines of a fork, poke holes around the bottom and sides of the bottom pie crust.
  11. Check the apple mixture.  Give it a good stir to see how much soupy liquid has accumulated.  Stir a tablespoon or two of flour into the apple mixture if it’s soupy.
  12. Pour the apples into the waiting pie crust, mounding them towards the center.
  13. Roll out the other half of the pie crust as before.  Plop it on top of the pie. Cut off any excess that overhangs the sides. Use your hands to pinch the top crust to the bottom crust, then go around the perimeter with a fork, pressing the crusts together.  Cut some air vents in the top of the pie.
  14. Place in the oven, with an empty baking pan underneath to catch any drippings.
  15. Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to 1 hour until the top is beautifully browned, the mixture is good and bubbly and the apples are tender.

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