Banana-y Banana Bread.

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Bananay Banana Bread!

 

 

There are probably 990 kabillion banana bread recipes on the internet and in every grandmother’s cookbook. The problem, according to my husband, is that none of those recipes contain enough bananas.  A lot of them tell you to use an overly ripe banana, or maybe two, but depending on the size of your bananas, this one can take as many as 6.

It should not surprise you that this is really banana-y banana bread.

Bananay Banana Bread.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture – stir just until moistened.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Notes:

This banana bread is dense and .. well, there are a lot of bananas in it. You can adjust the cinnamon to your preference – we often use closer to a tablespoon because it compliments the banana flavour (and because we like cinnamon).

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Bacon Cheddar Biscuits.

Cheddar AND Bacon!

Cheddar AND Bacon!

For some inexplicable reason, I find biscuits difficult to make. They come out too dry. Too bland. Not puffy enough. (Or all of the above.)

My husband loves biscuits.

Of course.

I stumbled across a recipe that sounded easy and I tweaked it a bit for our own tastes. And it is SO GOOD that I’m sure no one in the house would complain if I made them every day. They’re easy, but they’re also crispy and buttery and very, very tasty.

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Makes about 20.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of cold butter, cut into chunks
1 rounded cup of shredded old cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of precooked, crumbled bacon
1 cup of whole milk
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In your food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Toss in the chunks of butter and pulse into the chunks turn into crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the egg and the milk.
  5. In a large bowl, dump the contents of the food processor. Stir in the bacon and the shredded cheese.
  6. Pour the egg/milk mixture into the large bowl and stir.
  7. It will be sticky. Very, very sticky. Use your hands to gently combine everything, if needed.
  8. Lightly flour your counter and scrape the dough onto it. Using your hands, press the dough down until it’s about 1/2 an inch thick.
  9. Use a round cutter (I use a 2″ one) to cut out the biscuits. Place them on the baking tray, about an inch apart (they don’t expand much outward, but they do grow upward).
  10. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until they’re crisp and lightly browned.
  11. The original recipe said they could be frozen. I refuse to believe that there could possibly be any left over for that.

1 Hour Focaccia Bread.

SO GOOD.

SO GOOD.

When I bought my cast iron skillet, a friend sent me a bunch of links on Pinterest to various foods – made in cast iron skillets. This one intrigued me in no small part because the claim was that it could be made in an hour (or less) and because it’s bread. Also, I’m a fan of focaccia bread.

There’s one huge problem with this bread – it was gone, completely, within 10 minutes of coming out of the oven. And then we were sad. It’s soft, buttery, covered in melted parmesan cheese (or clumps of parmesan, if you’re like me and can’t quite brush things on evenly) and the bottom is lightly crispy.

It took a lot of self-control to not make another one right away.

1 Hour Skillet Focaccia Bread.

Makes one 10″ focaccia bread.

Ingredients

3/4 cup warm water (~100F)
1/2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted + extra for greasing the skillet
1 Tbsp grated parmesan
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Instructions:

  1. Pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer and add sugar. Stir to dissolve.
  2. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir gently to mix.  Wait for the yeast to foam – yay yeast!
  3. With the mixer on low, add 1 cup of flour and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  4. When flour is incorporated, add the olive oil and continue to mix.
  5. Slowly add the remaining cup of flour – until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl.

  6. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees F and when it’s ready turn it off (leave the door closed). If your oven has a proof setting, you can skip this step.
  7. Grease the skillet with a bit of butter.
  8. Dump the remaining flour onto your counter. Dump the dough onto that flour! Knead gently until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  9. Roll the dough into a circle that’s about 10″ – the size of the skillet. Place the dough into the greased skillet and, using your fingers, stretch the dough upward on the sides.
  10. Cover the dough with a cloth and place into the warm oven (or in the oven with the ‘proof’ setting on).
  11. Wait 20 minutes.
  12. Take the skillet out of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F.  Using your fingertips, jab the dough to make some dents (these will collect the butter and the cheese and the spices.. oh yeah.)
  13. In a small cup, mix the melted butter, parmesan, and Italian seasoning. Brush the dough with half the mixture.
  14. When the oven has reached 400F, put the skillet back in there and bake for 20 minutes (or until golden brown on top).
  15. After removing the bread from the oven, brush it with the rest of the butter mixture.
  16. Cool slightly, slice, and eat. (Good luck making this last more than 10 minutes.)

Notes:
You can easily mix the dough by hand – no need to use the food processor.  Just knead it!

Skillet Cornbread.

Buttery!

Buttery!

My husband loves cornbread. I don’t have any objections to it – it’s usually sweet and buttery, and I’m good with that – but I don’t seek it out or get excited by the idea of it.

Having recently acquired a 10″ cast iron skillet, I decided that my first recipe would be cornbread. It was easy to make, it turned out wonderfully, and I ate several pieces. More than my husband. Next time I’ll add some minced jalapenos!

Here’s the recipe:

Skillet Cornbread

Makes one lovely round 10″ loaf of cornbread (see notes)

1 1/4 cups ground cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of unsalted butter (melted)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.  Put the cast iron skillet into the oven to heat while you’re preparing the batter.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together. Stir in the milk, buttermilk, and eggs.
  3. Add almost all of the melted butter, stirring. Save about a tablespoon of melted butter for slickin’ up the skillet later!
  4. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and drop the oven temperature to 375F.
  5. Coat the bottom and sides of the skillet with the remaining melted butter. Use a basting brush to coat the sides.
  6. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake in the centre of the oven for about 17 minutes.  (See notes)
  7. The cornbread is done with the centre is firm and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes:
You could make this in a larger, or smaller, skillet – for a smaller skillet, add time. For a larger skillet, decrease time. Just keep an eye on it!

“Artisan” Bread.

Crusty, tasty bread.

Crusty, tasty bread.

Everybody loves this recipe because it really and truly is as easy as it looks. And everyone makes it and says, “I think I did it wrong..” because of the wet dough and the fact that it just seems WAY too easy for anyone who’s ever made bread before (or who has decided not to make bread because it seemed too difficult).

“Artisan” Crusty Bread
Makes one lovely loaf.
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water
Directions: 
  1. Combine flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and mix (by hand) until everything is combined and rough looking.  The dough is very, very soft – you won’t need to put much effort into mixing this up.
  3. Put a lid on your bowl, or cover with plastic cling wrap. Set it aside for a minimum of 12 hours (and as many as 24). The dough blob will get much larger, look very bubbly and wet, and you’ll be concerned that you have done something wrong. Don’t panic.
  4. Heat the oven to 450F.  While the oven is preheating, place a cast iron Dutch oven (and lid) inside. Once the oven has reached 450, start timing for 30 minutes. (The Dutch oven is empty. No bread dough in there.)
  5. While the oven is heating, heavily flour your counter and dump the dough on top. It will be very sticky, wet, and goopy. You will again be concerned that you have done something wrong. Don’t panic.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball – not kneading, just sort of prodding it into shape –  and cover the ball with plastic wrap. Set aside until the 30 minutes of Dutch oven-heating are finished.
  7. When the oven has heated, and the Dutch oven has been inside for 30 minutes, pull out the Dutch oven and plunk the dough into it. You can use a layer of parchment paper if you like (I did) to make it easier to transfer the dough from the counter into the really, really hot Dutch oven.
  8. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put it back into the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. After 30 minutes,  remove the lid.. and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Remove bread from oven, pull it out of the Dutch oven, and place on a cooling rack to cool.
  11. Cool fully before slicing. Enjoy the crackling noises!

Updated to add:
You can make this in a Dutch oven that’s as small at 3 quarts, apparently. I used a 6 quart and the loaf sat in the middle and didn’t get anywhere close to the sides. All good!  You can also make it in any oven-safe pot with a lid, according to the internet.

Stromboli.

Easy, tasty!

Easy, tasty!

One of our family’s favourite dinners is Stromboli. No one ever groans when they see it on the table and everyone eats several pieces. My husband takes leftovers to work for lunch!

In a nutshell, Stromboli is bread dough that’s rolled up with some salami and cheese. Brush on some olive oil, sprinkle on some Italian seasoning, then bake for about 25 minutes.

My oven has a proof setting – so the two rises don’t take much time – and I rather enjoy the process of making the dough and kneading it. You can use store-bought dough if you were in a rush, but this is far tastier. We used store-bought once and haven’t done it again!

Here’s the recipe. I always double it (did I mention we love this?) and I leave off the banana peppers. We’ve used provolone cheese, mozzarella and, most often, we end up going with Swiss.  Mmmm.