Monday, June 30, 2008

Pesto Bread

Tastes great fresh out of the oven. Also works well as leftovers, but this loaf never lasts long.

  • 1 1/2 t yeast
  • 4 c bread flour
  • 1 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 5/8 c milk
  • 2/3 c water
  • 2 T olive oil
  • pesto
  • pine nuts
  • mozzarella
  1. Add dough ingredients to bread machine in order according to manufacturer's directions using dough cycle.
  2. When the dough is finished place on a lightly floured surface and let rest 10 minutes.
  3. Roll out to a rectangle 10 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick. Spread pesto sauce over dough leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle pine nuts and cheese.
  4. Roll lengthwise jelly roll fashion and tuck ends under. Place in a greased 10x4 inch loaf pan (or what have you, in my case an 8x8 on the diagonal). Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
  5. Brush olive oil over the top and with a sharp knife score the top with four diagonal cuts. Repeat the cuts in the opposite direction. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake at 215C or 425F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  7. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Variations and Notes
When I searched online for recipes to use my leftover pesto, I also found this other recipe, without the milk and olive oil. I prefer a soft bread to a crusty one so haven't tried it yet.

Sept 2015 - used havarti instead of mozzarella, and butter instead of olive oil on the top. Dough was quite dry, so added water near end of machine's second mixing which wasn't in time, so reset it to start mixing all over again on the dough cycle.

Banana Bread

Updated April 2009: I now have three favorite recipes for banana bread. One that came with the mixer my mom had that I have used since being a kid. The second is the James Beard recipe. And the third is with sour cream. There are a few other variations here, with peanut butter and gluten-free and muffin form. All are good since it's hard to go wrong with banana bread.

Updated September 2010: Since I keep adding to this post I'm now going to add an index.
Original Banana Bread ***** (basic recipe)
James Beard Banana Bread ***** (flavor improves next day)
Banana Sour Cream Bread ***** (need sour cream)
Gluten-Free *** (need to whip the whites)
Peanut Butter Banana Bread ***
Gluten-Free II *** (chewy version, could use tweaking)
Banana Muffins ***** (any recipe can turn into muffins, but these are lower in fat and sugar)
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins **** (with chocolate - yum!)
Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread ****/* (brown butter makes this unique)
Diabetic Banana Bread
Mochi Banana Muffins (Gluten-free)
Variations (additional tips on adjusting recipes)

Original Banana Bread *****
This is a standard recipe requiring only basic ingredients. It results in a dense bread with a good amount of banana flavor.
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t soda
  • 3/4 c white or brown sugar *
  • 1/2 c melted butter (not just softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 mashed ripe bananas
  • optional: 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  1. Sift flour, salt and soda into large mixer bowl. Add sugar, butter, eggs, banana and walnuts. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Pour into a greased bread pan (9" x 5" x 3"). Let stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Bake in a 350F/175C oven for 80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
James Beard Recipe *****
This is a variation requiring milk and lemon juice. This has a slightly more subtle banana flavor. I find it improves after sitting for a day, seeming a bit moister than the first recipe. I prefer this one to the above, but don't always have milk on hand, or the patience to wait a day for flavor.
Feb 2009: I made these as 6 giant muffins instead of a loaf...I still ended up baking them for an hour. I'd do regular muffins instead (to reduce the baking time) or just the loaf.
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1 t lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1/2 c nuts
  1. Sift the flour with soda and salt.
  2. Combine the milk and lemon juice, which will curdle a bit after sitting for 5 minutes.
  3. Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar. Mix well. Add the eggs and banana and blend thorougly.
  4. Slowly and alternately fold in the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition.
  5. Stir in the nuts, then pour the batter into a lavishly buttered 9x5x3 pan. Bake in a 350F/175C oven for 1 hour, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched in the center.
Banana Sour Cream Bread *****
4/3/09 This one is an absolute winner in taste, moisture and looks. The only problem is it uses sour cream which is a little expensive in Taipei (185 NT at City Super) and takes a long time to bake. But once you bite into it, you think it's totally worth it. It's a modification of an original recipe.
  • 1/4 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas
  • 8 oz sour cream (1/2 a large container)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1.5 t soda
  • 2 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • Optional: 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/8 c sugar)
  1. Grease a 9x5x3 bread pan. Optional: Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs, banana, sour cream and vanilla.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, soda and cinnamon. Add to the wet mixture.
  5. Stir in the nuts. Mixture will be thick.
  6. Pour into bread pan.
  7. Bake 1h20 min at 175C.
Gluten-free ***
My friend Gretchen went on a gluten free diet and I started experimenting with things I could treat her with. This recipe uses rice flour so is great for wheat-free diets. It's a bit more time consuming as you have to beat the egg whites separately. Due to rice flour not rising as well, it also comes out as a much flatter bread. However, this is the moistest of the 3 recipes. It comes out as a pale yellow color.
  • 1 c rice flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 3 egg yolks (save whites)
  • 1/2 c milk, buttermilk, or yogurt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  1. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder.
  2. Cream sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks.
  3. Add the rice flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition.
  4. Stir in the mashed bananas.
  5. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
  6. Spread evenly into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Let stand in pan for 5 minutes.
Peanut Butter Banana Bread ***
I was in the mood to vary my typical banana bread recipes, so I tried this one with peanut butter. It came out moist with both flavors coming out nicely. Mine made 6 muffins, one mini tart and a small flat cake.

  • 1/4 c oil or butter
  • 1/4 c applesauce (if you don't have this, use more oil)
  • 3/4 c sugar (can be mix of white and brown)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c peanut butter
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 3/4 c flour (can be mix of all purpose/wheat)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • optional: nuts (peanuts, walnuts)
  1. Beat the oil, applesauce and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the eggs.
  3. Mash the bananas and stir in the pb. Stir the mixture into the large.
  4. Add the flour and soda, stirring until flour is incorporated.
  5. If using nuts, mix in.
  6. Spoon into greased muffin tin, tart pan or loaf pan. Bake at 175C until browned. About 25-30 min for muffins. Longer for loaves.
Gluten-Free Banana Bread II ***
added 9/26/10: I tried a different recipe for gluten-free banana bread and did a side-by-side taste test against the James Beard recipe. This GF bread ended up with a chewy bite to it. The gluten-eaters enjoyed the non-GF bread more. Though I think this one could be adjusted to improve to be on par with other standard recipes. I think next time substituting GF flour in a gluten recipe is the way to go for a true taste test.

    Banana Muffins *****
    added 12/22/08. This recipe is lower in sugar and fat, but still has all the great banana taste.
    10/21/09 Made with 4 bananas, part brown sugar + nuts. Very very moist - almost sticky. Baked for extra 10-15 min.
    10/11/12 Made with 4 bananas, part brown sugar, 1/2 c walnuts, and heaping amount of flour. Baked for 32 minutes. Delicious!
    5/15/15 Made with 3 bananas, 1/2 c walnuts, and some with a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips.
    Sept 2015 - Accidentally left the butter in the microwave after melting it. Muffins turned out just fine - a bit chewier than normal and only slightly dry.
    • 3 or 4 large bananas, mashed
    • 1/2 c white sugar (reduced from one cup)
    • 1 slightly beaten egg
    • 1/3 c melted butter
    • 1 t baking soda
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1.5 c flour
    1. In a large bowl, mix bananas, sugar, egg and butter together.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour.
    3. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix. Do not over-stir.
    4. Pour into greased muffin tins or paper cups.
    5. Bake 180C/350F for 20 minutes. When using 4 bananas, you may need to increase baking time to compensate for the extra moisture.
    Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins ****
    Had a load of ripe bananas to use. This one made 12 muffins plus one giant muffin/small cake in a greased ramekin. Using just applesauce, I wouldn't recommend using paper liners - instead grease the tins well. If you want to use liners, try using 1/4 c butter/oil in place of some of the applesauce.
    • 1 3/4 c flour
    • 3/4 c sugar
    • 1 t powder
    • 1 t soda
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 c applesauce (see note above)
    • 1/2 c yogurt
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1/2-1 c semisweet chocolate chips
    1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, powder, soda and salt. 
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, applesauce, yogurt and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
    3. Fold in bananas and chocolate. 
    4. Fill paper-lined or grease muffin cups 2/3-3/4 full. (Dump any leftover into a greased ramekin or two).
    5. Bake 350F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.
    Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread ****/*
    2012 made for C, T and M. They raved.
    • 6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
    • 2 c flour
    • 3/4 c brown sugar
    • 1 t soda
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 3/4 t cinnamon
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1/4 c yogurt (or butermilk)
    • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1/2 c diced strawberries plus 1 strawberry for topping
    1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will start to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When it browns and begins to smell nutty, remove from heat and set aside in small bowl to cool.
    2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, salt and cinnamon.
    3. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, and yogurt. Beat in the bananas. 
    4. Once the butter has cooled, beat the butter in with the wet ingredients.
    5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, all at once. Fold together. Add the diced strawberries, folding but careful not to over-mix.
    6. Pour/spoon into greased 9x5 bread pan and top with thinly sliced strawberry. 
    7. Bake at 350F for 50min-1hour. 
    8. Let rest in pan for 15 min before inverting onto wire rack to cool completely.
    Diabetic Banana Bread
    6/9/12 I might be diabetic - I'll find out more in a few weeks. Until then, just trying out a diabetic version to see the difference. Remember because of less sugar the bread will not become as dark brown as a typical banana bread.
    • 2 c flour
    • 2 t powder
    • 1/2 t soda
    • 1/2 t cinnamon
    • 1.5 c ripe bananas
    • 1 egg
    • 2 heaping t applesauce + canola oil = 1/3 c
    • 2 T sugar
    • 1/2 c orange juice
    1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Puree the bananas.
    3. Add the bananas and remaining ingredients to bowl. Mix well.
    4. Pour into greased 9x5 pan. Bake at 350F for 50 min.
    5. Cool on wire rack.

    Mochi Banana Muffins (Gluten-free)

    makes 24 muffins! Variation: stick cut mango in the middle.
    9/9/12 I had less than half a cup of butter so filled up the half cup with canola oil. Needs more banana, way less sugar. Taste and texture were pretty awful - would not make this again.
    • 1 box mochiko flour (16 oz glutinous rice flour)
    • 1.5 c sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 1.5 t baking powder
    • 1 can coconut milk
    • 1/2 c butter, melted
    • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
    1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Pour into parchment liners in muffin tin.
    3. Bake for 40-45 min at 350F.
      • add a pinch of spices with the dry ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, etc)
      • some recipes call for vanilla extract, but I find it takes away from the pure banana flavor
      • sprinkle the top with sesame seeds before baking
      • bake as muffins instead of a loaf - this cuts down on the baking time drastically
      • replace some of the oil with applesauce to make a healthier dish
      • many things complement the flavor of bananas. Try: walnuts, chocolate, strawberries, peanut butter, etc.

      Sandwich Ring

      Serves: 12 to 16 (or 5 hungry people)
      Do-Ahead Note: Wrap, label and freeze ring up to 2 months.
      Microwave Reheat Guidelines: Microwave one 2 1/2" wedge uncovered on medium (50%) until hot, refrigerated bread 1.5 to 3 min, frozen bread 4 to 5.5 min.

      1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 t)
      1/4 c warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
      1 c warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
      2 T sugar
      1/4 c butter, softened
      1 1/2 t salt
      2 eggs
      4 1/4 c all-purpose flour
      Ham-Spinach Filling (recipe below) or your own favorite filling
      Butter, softened

      1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl; stir in milk, sugar,margarine, salt, eggs and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed 10 min, scraping bowl frequently.
      2. Stir in remaining flour; continue stirring, scraping dough from side of bowl, until soft, sticky dough forms. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hr.
        Alternative to Steps 1 and 2: Use the dough cycle in your bread machine. 1.5 hour total.
      3. Prepare Ham-Spinach Filling.
      4. Stir down dough by beating about 25 strokes. Turn onto well-floured surface; roll or pat into rectangle, 20" x 12". Cut dough into 2 strips, 20" x 6". Spread half of the filling down center of each strip. Bring long edges of dough up over filling; pinch edge and ends to seal. Stretch rope to 22" and make even. Place ropes side by side; twist gently and loosely. Shape into ring on lightly greased cookie sheet; pinch ends together. Cover and let rise until 1 1/2 times original size, about 30 min.
      5. Place oven rack below center of oven. Heat oven to 350F/175C. Brush ring lightly with butter. Bake until ring is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 min. (If ring is browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.)
      6. Brush with butter; cool slightly.
      Ham-Spinach Filling
      This is the suggested filling, but you can substitute just about anything.
      1/2 c chopped onion
      1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
      2 T vegetable oil
      2 c chopped fresh spinach (about 4 oz)
      1 c chopped fully cooked smoked ham
      1 c shredded Swiss cheese (4 oz)

      1. Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil until tender.
      2. Add spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted; cool.
      3. Stir in ham and cheese.
      Since I still can't find spinach in Taipei, I went ahead with this filling:

      2/3 c chopped onion
      3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
      2 T olive oil
      2 c chopped fresh Chinese greens (about 4 oz)
      1 c chopped fully cooked black pepper ham (from Wellcome)
      3 slice Provolone cheese (from Costco)

      1. Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil until tender.
      2. Add greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted; cool.
      3. Stir in ham and cheese.
      VegetarianI tried this combination out but wasn't a fan of the mustard inside.
      5 spice baked tofu, onion, greens, fresh mustard, Provolone

      5/30/15 Made the filling onion free - used about 4 oz swiss cheese, 6 oz (175 g) ham, and 10.5 oz  (300 g) chopped spinach, heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic. Delicious!

      Sunday, June 22, 2008

      Coconut Jello

      Reminiscent of what you might get at Hong Kong dim sum for dessert. This recipe uses plain gelatin as opposed to agar-agar.
      • 2 T gelatin
      • 1/2 c cold water
      • 1/2 c sugar
      • 1 1/2 c boiling water
      • 1 can coconut milk
      • 1 t almond extract
      1. In an 8x8 dish, mix gelatin and cold water. Let sit 5 min.
      2. Add sugar and then boiling water. Mix until dissolved.
      3. Add coconut milk and almond extract. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
      4. Chill for several hours until set.
      Going Beyond
      - drizzle coconut milk on top before serving

      6/21/08 Rave reviews - *****

      Chocolate Chip Cookies

      This recipe produces a thick and soft cookie. I modified the original recipe by reducing the sugar and butter. The *ed items have been reduced from the original.
      • Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies1/2-3/4 c packed brown sugar*
      • 1/2 c granulated sugar*
      • 1 c butter, softened (not melted)
      • 1 t vanilla
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 t salt
      • 3/4 t baking soda
      • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (1.5 c)
      • optional: 1 c chopped walnuts or 1/2 c plumped craisins
      1. Beat sugars and butter in large bowl on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 min. Beat in vanilla and eggs; beat in flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon on low speed. Stir in chocolate and nuts/craisins.
      2. Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Flatten slightly if you want a final smooth look.
      3. Bake at 375F/190C until edges are light brown, 11-14 minutes. Cool on grocery bags or paper towels (to soak up excess grease).
      4. Makes 20-40 cookies, depending on size.
      Going Beyond
      • Add a dash of cinnamon with the dry ingredients for a spin on the flavor.
      • Use almond extract instead of vanilla.
      • Make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to bake.
      • Freeze the cookies and then scoop vanilla or chocolate ice cream in between two cookies to make ice cream sandwiches. Use more sugar and butter or higher heat to get flatter cookies better for sandwiching.Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Ice Cream Sandwiches