Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

nutellabananabread zb 15

The first time I tried nutella was in France, on my honeymoon. I thought French kids were the luckiest people on earth. There was no way my mom would have given me a chocolate hazelnut spread on anything. (For the record it was the 1960s, she was a hippy and didn’t allow any sugar at all. Hence my full on sugar rebellion and career as a pastry chef.)  French kids get nutella for breakfast, on their bread at lunch or as a late night snack. They all seemed healthy enough, so I think the French moms are on to something. My honeymoon was 23 years ago and in the meantime we Americans have had a hazelnut spread revolution of our own. Now you can find it on the shelves of costco and seven-eleven. My house is never without a jar.

I’ve spread nutella on just about everything, but one of my favorites is freshly baked banana bread. In an “aha! moment” I decided to swirl the nutella right into the batter and bake them together. I’m not claiming to have discovered this combo, but I believe this may be the tastiest pairing ever there was. I now always make two loaves, otherwise it disappears too quickly. One we eat while it is still warm and a bit gooey, the other sits for breakfast the next day. It is magnificent and super simple to make. (more…)

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Banana Bread (and Pear Bread) – One Recipe, Two Flavors.

Pear Bread

The fact that Bosc pears taste like spicy, buttery perfume (I mean sweet, pure essence of pear, not old lady soap), may be second to their beauty. I admit I bought this bag of pears to decorate my kitchen. They’re so sleek and statuesque that most every still life painter from Van Gogh to Picasso has captured their elegance.

Pears

The carefully arranged bowl was quickly decimated by my family, who didn’t recognize the art in my attempt, but smelled the juicy pears and ate them. The boscs are in their prime. Some years the pear crops are mealy and tasteless, but this year they’re sweet, juicy and the flesh is perfectly smooth. As they ripened the texture is as soft as an overly ripe banana, so I got the idea of making my banana bread recipe with chunks of the ripe pears.  I added a bit of homemade granola, instead of the toasted coconut I usually put in the banana bread. It is essentially the same recipe, but the result is completely and wonderfully different.

The trick to this recipe is using the pears when they are almost too ripe to eat. This means they are at their sweetest and will breakdown when baking. Unlike other banana recipes, this one calls for chunks of fruit, instead of a puree. Try both the banana and the pear versions and let me know which is your favorite. See the banana bread at the bottom of the post.

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Photo Shoot for a New Book!

Bread Book

For the past year Jeff and I have been busy working on a new bread book. The details of the project are all very hush, hush for the moment, (publisher’s orders), but I wanted to give you a glimpse into our recent photo shoot. It took a month of planning and a team of extraordinary people to pull off the week long extravaganza.  (more…)

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Banana Bread

banana bread

Here in Minnesota there is a timeless tradition of going to the “cabin.” During the summer everyone heads out of the city on the weekend to fish and during the winter they still fish, but on frozen lakes. I am not originally from around here and have not quite embraced this weekend exodus, but I have a friend who is and she lures me to her cabin, not with the prospect of fishing, but with her banana bread. She always bakes the loaf in the early morning while I am sleeping; I wake to the fabulous smell of the bread and fresh coffee. It is sweet and cakey, much lighter than this fruity bread has the reputation for. After 17 years in Minnesota I still don’t have a cabin, but I am grateful for the 5-hour drive to my friend’s, just to have her banana bread.

I also keep a stash of overly ripe bananas in my freezer, so I can make it at home. The flavor of this recipe depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Those black spotted bananas your kids don’t want to eat in their lunch are perfect. If you don’t have any overly ripe ones on hand, you can roast the fruit to bring out the sweetness. Just throw your yellow bananas; the green ones won’t work, on to a cookie sheet, peels and all. Pierce the skins and bake them at 350°F for about 45 minutes. Let the bananas cool and then peel and mash. (more…)

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My First Daring Baker’s Challenge! Pizza!

This is my very first Daring Baker’s Challenge. I had a good laugh when I found out that we’d be baking pizza from Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. As you might imagine I bake every day from my own book, but It has been many years since I’ve made pizza or bread from a traditional recipe. I must admit it was great fun! It took a lot longer than I have become accustomed to, but it was a joy to knead the dough, satisfying to see it rising on my counter and as you can see I actually spun it over my head. The dough is very similar in taste to the olive oil dough (page 134) in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I ended up making them side by side. I’ll leave it up to you to do the same and tell me what you think! 😉

I made a southwestern shrimp pizza using some of the Hatch’s Chillies my friend Jen roasted and gave to me, along with grilled corn and goat cheese. I also made a purple potato and bacon pizza with onions I sauteed in the bacon fat. I called Jen as they were coming out of the oven and we had a fabulous lunch! (more…)

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Lemon Curd and Brioche à Tête for Mother’s Day!

lemon Curd

This weekend is Mother’s Day and I will get breakfast in bed from my two wonderful young boys. It is a tradition that always ends up with the duvet and my children wearing a significant portion of food. The menu is a list of their favorite things to eat, prepared by their dad. Waffles smothered in syrup, whipped cream, berries and a side of bacon (because my husband Graham loves bacon). I adore it all! They generally give me about two bites before climbing into bed to inhale the rest. I’m sure someday when the boys get older and more civilized we will go out for brunch and I will actually get to eat something. But, there is a part of me that will sadly miss this display of loving savagery. (more…)

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