Flour’s Famous Banana Bread

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The toasted walnuts in this banana bread recipe from Flour Bakery in Boston really enhance the flavor.  Toasting the nuts first really makes a big difference and is well worth the extra 10 minutes.

Original recipe

 

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread
Adapted from Joanne Chang

Yield: 9″ x 5″ loaf pan

  • 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

 

  1. Spread walnuts in the pan of a toaster oven and toast at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper, or line entire pan with aluminum foil.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.  (You could do it by hand too.)
  4. Beat in oil, mashed bananas, creme fraiche or sour cream, and vanilla.
  5. Beat in baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  6. Mix in flour just until blended.
  7. Fold in nuts.
  8. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  A thin knife inserted in the center should come out clean.

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Apple Crisp

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I combined elements from two recipes to get an apple crisp that blends the crunchy sweetness of the oat topping with the cinnamon-y deliciousness of the apple filling.  You can add a little extra subtlety to the flavors with pecans and maple syrup.

Original Betty Crocker recipe

Original Food Network recipe

 

Apple Crisp
Adapted from Betty Crocker and Food Network

Yield: 9″ x 9″ pan

For the filling:

  • 4-5 medium tart cooking apples, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar OR 1/2 cup white sugar + dollop of molasses
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking OR old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 9″ square pan with butter, or line with aluminum foil.
  2. If using pecans and maple syrup, toss with apples in a mixing bowl to combine.
  3. Spread filling in pan.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, oats, butter, and cinnamon until well mixed.  The mixture will resemble damp sand.
  5. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples.
  6. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork.

 

 

Chinese Hot Dog Buns

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I’ve found that Chinese hot dog buns are great travel foods – you can pack them for a long car ride or plane flight.  They’re also good for lunch in general.  Of course you can find them in any Chinese bakery, but if you don’t live near one, now you can make them yourself.  The advantage to that is picking your favorite type of hot dog.  I prefer Hebrew International’s 97% Fat-Free Beef Franks…because they seem a little healthier.

Original recipe

Chinese Hot Dog Buns
Adapted from Woks of Life

For the bread:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 cup+1 tablespoon milk, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose OR cake flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the filling:

  • 12 hot dogs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

For the simple syrup (optional):

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hot water

 

  1. Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook.  In the bowl of the mixer, add heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, all-purpose OR cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt, in that order.
  2. Stir them together with a wooden spoon until all the flour is moistened.  This way flour won’t fly everywhere when you turn on the mixer.
  3. Set mixer on “stir” for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together.  It will feel somewhat sticky.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until the dough grows to 1.5 times its original size.
  5. While the dough proofs, heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add hot dogs and allow them to crisp slightly.  (I found out the hard way that this step seals juices inside the hot dogs so they don’t make the surrounding dough soggy.)
  6. Line a plate with paper towel to absorb excess oil and put hot dogs on it to cool.
  7. After dough finishes proofing, return it to the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles.
  8. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or with aluminum foil.  If using foil, spray it with cooking spray.
  9. Flour a work surface, turn dough onto it, and cut it into 12 equal pieces.
  10. Roll each piece into a 12-14 inch rope, keeping the middle thicker than the ends.
  11. Roll each rope around a hot dog, tucking in the ends. Repeat until you have 12 hot dog buns.
  12. Place buns on baking sheet, spacing 2-3 inches apart.  Cover lightly with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  13. Let buns proof in a warm spot for 1 hour, until they almost double in size.  After 45 minutes of proofing, position racks to divide the oven in thirds and preheat to 350ºF.
  14. Whisk egg with water to make egg wash.
  15. When buns finish rising, remove kitchen or paper towel and brush buns with egg wash.
  16. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown in color.  Rotate pans halfway through baking.
  17. If desired, dissolve sugar in hot water to make simple syrup.
  18. Remove pans from oven.  If using the simple syrup, brush buns with it to make them shiny and sweet.  (I skipped this part and the bread tasted good anyway.)  The buns taste best the first day.  If they last any longer, you can store them in the freezer in a Ziploc bag.  Defrost overnight and toast briefly.

Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers are good for dinner all year, of course, but around Halloween you can carve them like jack o’ lanterns.

Original recipe

 

Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from All Recipes

Yield: 6 bell peppers

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 bell peppers of any color (pick ones that can stand up straight)
  • 2 (8-oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 onion, diced OR 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning OR 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano + 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the beef until evenly browned.
  4. Remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membranes of the bell peppers.
  5. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. (Slice the bottoms of the peppers if necessary so that they will stand upright.)  If desired, “carve” the peppers to resemble jack o’ lanterns.
  6. In a bowl, mix the browned beef, cooked rice, 1 can tomato sauce, garlic powder, diced onion OR onion powder, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce if using.
  7. Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper.
  8. Mix the remaining tomato sauce and Italian seasoning (or oregano and basil mix) in a bowl, and pour over the stuffed peppers.
  9. Bake 1 hour, until the peppers are tender.

Chinese-Style Milk Bread

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Lately I’ve been craving the soft, sweet bread that you find in Chinese bakeries.  I was very excited to find this recipe and have made it multiple times now.  Shaped into dinner rolls, it is great for not only dinner but also breakfast and snacks.

 

Original recipe

 

Chinese-Style Milk Bread
Adapted from Woks of Life

Yield: 2 loaf pans OR 16 dinner rolls

For the bread:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 cup+1 tablespoon milk, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose OR cake flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

For the simple syrup (optional):

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hot water

 

  1. Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook.  In the bowl of the mixer, add heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, all-purpose OR cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt.
  2. Set mixer on “stir” for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together.  It will feel somewhat sticky.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until the dough grows to 1.5 times its original size.
  4. While the dough proofs, grease two baking pans on all sides with butter or cooking spray.  You can use a 9″ x 4″ loaf pan and a 9″ round cake pan.
  5. After dough finishes proofing, return it to the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles.
  6. Flour a work surface, turn dough onto it, and cut it in half.  To make a loaf of bread, divide one of the halves into three pieces and place them in the loaf pan.  To make dinner rolls, cut the other half of the dough into eight equal pieces and shape them into round buns.  Arrange them in the cake pan.
  7. Let dough proof in a warm spot for 1 hour.
  8. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
  9. Whisk egg with water to make egg wash.
  10. When dough finishes rising, brush it with egg wash.
  11. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until golden brown in color.
  12. If desired, dissolve sugar in hot water to make simple syrup.
  13. Remove pans from oven.  If using the simple syrup, brush buns with it to make them shiny and sweet.  (I skipped this part and the bread tasted good anyway.)  The buns taste best the first day.  If they last any longer, you can store them in the freezer in a Ziploc bag.  Defrost overnight and toast briefly.