Marbled Chocolate-Banana Bread

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I think marbled chocolate-banana bread is great for taking to dinner parties and such, because it’s tasty, pretty, and straightforward to make.

Original recipe

 

Marbled Chocolate-Banana Bread
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 9″ x 5″ loaf

  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar OR 3/4 cup white sugar + dollop molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably dark, but any kind is fine)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

 

  1. Center rack in oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick baking spray.
  2. Melt butter in the bottom of a large bowl in the microwave.
  3. Mash the bananas right into it until mostly smooth.
  4. Whisk in brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add 1 cup of the flour, stirring just until it disappears.
  6. Pour half of batter into a second bowl. (You can eyeball it, it’s fine.)  Into one bowl, stir the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and ground cinnamon. Into the other bowl, stir in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of the two batters randomly into the loaf pan.
  8. Plunge a table knife deep into the batter and zigzag from one end of the pan to the other, making only 6-8 zigzags.  Even though it’s fun, you don’t want to mix the two batters too much.
  9. Bake 55-65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. (A melted chocolate chip smear is expected, however.)
  10. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.  The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days, wrapped in foil, at room temperature.

     

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Carrot Spice Muffins

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These carrot muffins are delicious both fresh and after they’ve sat longer.  Just out of the oven, they have a lovely thin crisp crust; wait a little and the spice flavors will deepen.  Because they are not very sweet, they make a great breakfast or snack.

 

Carrot Spice Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar OR 1/3 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup moist raisins
  • 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted, cooled, and chopped if you have the patience (I didn’t and the muffins tasted great anyway)
  • 1/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.  Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the brown sugar OR white sugar; making certain there are no lumps (this is more an issue if you’re using brown sugar).
  3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and molasses (if using) together until well combined.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.  A few lumps are preferable to overmixing the batter.
  5. Stir in carrots, raisins, nuts, and coconut.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.
  9. The muffins are best the first day, but you can store them, covered, at room temperature for a few days.  Split and toast them, or zap them for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to heat them.

Corn Muffins

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These corn muffins have a fun texture, what with the coarse cornmeal and the corn kernels throughout.  They’re not too sweet, so they make the perfect breakfast or snack.

 

Corn Muffins
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/3 cup plain yogurt+2/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil OR other vegetable oil, such as canola
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 – 1 1/3 cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen, or canned (in which case they should be drained and patted dry)

 

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F.  Butter or spray the 12 muffin molds in a regular-size muffin tin, or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg (if using).
  3. In a large glass measuring cup with a spout or in another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg, and yolk until well blended.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and that’s just the way it should be.
  5. Stir in corn kernels.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  7. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan.  They are great warm or at room temperature.
  9. The muffins are best eaten the day they are made. If you want to keep them, it’s best to wrap them airtight and pop them into the freezer, where they’ll keep for about 2 months.  Re-warm in a 350°F oven, or split and toast them.

Cranberry Scones

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This is another recipe that my friend John discovered and that we made together back in undergrad.  These scones are crumbly and sweet and have almost a cake-like texture.  They’re wonderful fresh out of the oven, either on their own or spread with clotted cream and jam.  If you have leftovers, toast them briefly before eating.

Original recipe

 

Cranberry Scones
Adapted from All Recipes

Yield: 12 large scones

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries OR raisins

 

  1. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Beat in baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.
  6. On low speed, beat in flour just until it all disappears, taking care not to over-mix.
  7. Still on low speed, beat in sour cream mixture just until it all disappears, again taking care not to over-mix.
  8. Stir in cranberries.
  9. Knead dough briefly in the bowl.
  10. Form dough into scones.  You have 2 options:
    • Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll or pat it into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  Cut into 12 wedges and space 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
    • Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a rough triangle 3/4 inch thick directly on the baking sheet, spacing scones 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden on the tops and golden-brown on the bottoms.

Great Grains Muffins

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To me, these muffins are the perfect breakfast or snack food.  They’re not very sweet and have a great texture from the oats, cornmeal, and dried fruit.  As a bonus, the tops are nice and crunchy.

 

Great Grains Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup plain yogurt+1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4-1 cup quartered moist, plump prunes, other dried fruits (cut up as necessary) and/or chopped nuts (optional)

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400ºF. Butter or spray a regular-size 12-mold muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.  Place muffin pan on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk OR yogurt+milk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – if the batter is a bit lumpy, that’s fine.
  5. Stir in the fruit and/or nuts, if using.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.  It will basically fill each muffin cup.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.  They taste best the day they’re made, but you can split and toast them the following day.  To keep them longer, wrap them airtight and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Rewarm in the oven at 350ºF, or split and toast them.

Cream Scones

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Serve these scones fresh out of the oven with clotted cream, jam, and Earl Grey tea for an English tea party.

 

Cream Scones
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 scones

  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 3/4 cup moist, plump currants OR dried cranberries

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together egg and cream.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour.
  5. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly.  The pieces will range in size from oatmeal flakes to peas.
  6. Add currants OR cranberries and toss with a fork to mix in.
  7. Pour egg and cream over dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together.  Don’t overdo it.
  8. Still in the bowl, gently knead dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8-10 times.
  9. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out dough.
  10. Divide it in half.
  11. Working with one piece at a time, pat dough into a rough circle about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges, and place it on the baking sheet.  (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking; just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)
  12. Bake scones for 20-22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firm-ish.
  13. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for them to cool to room temperature.  They’re best soon after they’re made.
  14. Scones can be cooled to room temperature, wrapped airtight, and frozen for up to 2 months.  They can be reheated in the oven at 350ºF.

 

 

 

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.