Banana Bread Roll from Smitten Kitchen’s New Book

Banana bread roll cake filled with cream cheese frosting and covered in Swiss meringue | Photo by Zoë François

There’s nothing more satisfying than cutting into a rolled cake to reveal the swirl in the middle. It’s just fun. This banana bread roll is filled with a cream cheese frosting and it is delicious. The recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers and cookbook authors, Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen (as if she needs introducing). In her new book Smitten Kitchen Every Day she dusts the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar and it’s perfectly elegant. I decided to use meringue, because I just did a video series on Instagram about the 3 types of meringues, so I’m a little obsessed with it right now and figured this cake would be super fun topped with a Phyllis Diller-esque hairdo. You can watch me make many of my recipes on Instagram in my stories (they will also live in my “highlights” archive). I’ve been teaching baking and pastry for 20 years (wow, just added that up!) and I love the new challenge of fitting these recipe lessons into 15 second segments. If you haven’t checked them out, I hope you will, I’m having a ball creating them.

Deb was kind enough to allow me to share her Banana Bread Roll recipe with you here. I highly recommend her book for other desserts and her always amazing savory recipes.

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Dreams Do Come True…A Cookie Swap with Ina Garten!

Ina Garten

(photo by Quentin Bacon)

This summer I got an email that I thought was spam. It said something to the effect of…”Ladies’ Home Journal would like you to attend a private brunch and cookie swap with the Barefoot Contessa!” I sat on the email for about 30 seconds and then decided..what the hell, what if it is legit and I really get to meet her! It was and I did. Pinch me. I was dying to ask WHY ME? But, I was nervous if I brought it up they’d realize I’d made the list by mistake and take back the invitation. So, I kept my mouth shut and off I went.

We all have THOSE people in our life who we’d love to share a meal with, aspire to be like and find utterly compelling and delightful. For me Ina Garten sits at the top of the list. I remember, as a kid growing up in Westport, CT in the 70s and 80s, her store in the Hamptons was the “it” place to shop. The Barefoot Contessa was the epitome of sophistication and yet it wasn’t fussy or pretentious. She managed to make the “good life” seem accessible. Thirty some odd years later I’m invited to meet her. It was an OMG moment. With all of her fame and success, I couldn’t have faulted her for being aloof and a bit guarded about inviting her adoring fans into her home. She’s nothing of the sort, Ina is as kind, open and generous as she appears on TV. Not only that, she is deeply passionate and genuinely in love with food. She is the ultimate hostess.

ladies' home journal

This story gets even more surreal, because I also got to meet and spend the day with a group of intensely talented, driven and outrageously funny food bloggers. We shared a ride in an RV from Manhattan to the Hamptons, which was a bonding experience, not only because of the close quarters, but the sense that we’d all survived a tumble in a clothes drier. I’m not sure I’ve laughed that hard in my life. When we arrived in East Hampton, which is like an Audrey Hepburn movie set, we had brunch at Ina’s favorite restaurant. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until she arrived and I could feel my body relax. It was as if she were greeting a group of old friends. She immediately put us all at ease and we sat and chatted over a lovely meal, which I know was delicious, but I hardly recall what I ate. We talked about everything from blogging, throwing the perfect party, the crazy world of publishing, to her husband/muse, Jeffrey. Since we’d all been invited here to attend Ina’s very first holiday cookie swap, we also talked about cookies. You can read all about our chat with Ina at The Ladies Home Journal.

After brunch we walked to Ina’s house for our cookie swap.  Read More