Sunday, May 18, 2014

One Banana Cake

One of my guilty pleasures is frosted banana cake.  It's one of those pre-packaged cakes that you can buy at the store.   I don't want to say the name, but it's white with blue script.  There are a few problems with loving this frosted banana cake.  For one, when I can find it, it's super expensive.  Notice how I said "when I can find it"?  Yeah, it's basically impossible to find.  I think it's one of those flavors that they only have for a "limited time" and then they bring it back for awhile just to put it in hiding, etc.


For awhile now, I've been trying to recreate it.  The problem is that it's pretty tricky because I have NO IDEA how they flavor the frosting.  The frosting is part chocolate, part banana-ish but not really banana.  Probably it's fake banana flavor and that's why I can't recreate it.  Instead of trying to recreate the wheel, I thought that I could put the same flavors into something uniquely my own.

But, as we all know, the only time you can actually eat all of the bananas before they start to go brown is when you're planning to use them.  Plus, Joe gave me an awesome tip for helping to slow down the ripening process: put something over the top part of the bananas where they all connect!  You can use plastic wrap, but I used foil since that was all I had.  It worked great - they didn't start browning until after I started eating them, and I just re-tightened the foil every time I took a banana.  Obviously, it's not totally preventative, but it will at least get your bananas to make it through the week so you can eat them!

Last week, I found myself with one lonely, measly banana left on the counter.  It was brown and squishy - perfect for baking.  But, I didn't want banana bread or cupcakes and I didn't really feel like making cookies.  So, I decided to try to make a banana cake.

You guys.  It came out perfectly!  The chunks of chocolate were slightly melty and soft and offered a nice contrast to the bananas and cake.  It could have used more banana to increase that flavor a little bit, but hey - I had to work with what I had!  I just finished the last 4 few small slices, and they are perfect with a cup of coffee on a quiet Sunday morning.

Banana Cake

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. butter, room temperature
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed
1 egg
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8" x 8" cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy.  Add banana and eggs.  Stir in flour and baking powder until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Bake 20 minutes, until top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Top will be slightly moist when pressed.   Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Raspberry Lemon Quick Bread

As the weather (finally!) start to get warmer, I like it when my flavors get bolder and pack a bigger punch.  Bonus points if they reflect seasonal tastes, like this raspberry lemon quick bread.

I like quick bread recipes because they're a cinch to throw together and if you decide you want muffins at the last minute instead, no big deal! 

This bread is full of raspberries and complimented by a bright lemony flavor throughout.  I used lemon juice and lemon zest in the topping and in the dough recipe, so it's a really bright and sunny flavor - it kind of reminds me of raspberry lemonade.

I used frozen raspberries because that's what I had on hand when I decided to make this.  If you decide to use frozen, you'll want to let them thaw about halfway - all the way thawed and they're a little soggy, too frozen and they'll make the dough too wet when they cook.  I threw them in the batter with their juice to get a little more of the raspberry flavor throughout, but you can drain them too if you prefer.  The batter was a little bit pink when mixing it, but it didn't affect the final outcome.  Like most things, though, fresh berries are probably best - rinse them well and carefully pat dry.  The batter is dense, so you shouldn't have to worry about them sinking. 

The topping gets really nice and crunchy, adding a contrasting texture to the bread that's surprisingly delicious.  My bread fell apart a little bit when I was slicing it, partly because it was still warm (I was impatient) and also because the topping made the top of the bread heavier than the rest. 

The topping recipe below is half of what I actually used, which should resolve any issues.  You'll want to make sure the bread is completely cooled before you try to flip it out of the pan and the sharper your knife when you slice, the better.  I realized while I was cutting this that we don't have any type of bread knife in this house - weird, I know. 

I've still not gotten one, but I think I can pretty easily get one at the dollar store or something.  If your not serving the bread right away and you don't want to deal with the mess, feel free to leave it in the pan.  Just make sure to cover it tightly so it doesn't get stale.  Although... I bet leaving this out to harden for a day or so would make an incredible french toast!  Mmm.

Normally, this is where I would tell you what other people think.  Alas, I couldn't tell you, because I didn't share!  *I* thought it was delicious though, and my fiance seemed to enjoy the one or two bites that I let him have, so I think that's good enough :)

Raspberry Lemon Bread

For the bread:
2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. full fat sour cream
juice from half of a lemon
2 c. raspberries

For the topping:
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp. rolled oats
1 Tbsp butter
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine butter and sugar.  Add eggs on at a time, beating well after each one.

Add the flour, baking powder and sour cream.  Mix until everything is incorporated.

Carefully fold in raspberries.  Be careful not to overstir.

Scoop batter into prepared pan, gently evening it out with the back of a spoon.

To make the topping, combine flour, sugar, oats and lemon zest in a small bowl.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of the bread before baking.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  The oats will be toasted and golden.

My favorite way to eat this was with a cup of coffee, listening to the birdies chirp away.  What's your favorite springtime recipe?