Bread

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Sometimes it can be hard to reconcile my commitment to healthy eating with my ever-persistent sweet tooth. That’s why I love this recipe – it’s low on sugar (but still plenty sweet) and full of fiber thanks to the whole wheat flour and pureed pumpkin. The recipe even cuts out butter by substituting in olive oil, making it a great contender for post- Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch.

Pumpkin Bread

I’ve used both low and high quality oil for this recipe in the past. While I recommend something on the higher end, the Trader Joe’s variety has served me well in a pinch.

To prep the pan for baking, lightly coat all sides with butter. Add a bit of flour and shake the pan lightly, tapping on the sides to make sure that the flour makes its way around. This is the best way to ensure that your bread won’t get stuck in the pan – even if you’re using a non-stick variety, the extra step never hurts.

Much like all other quick bread recipes, this one starts by combining all of the dry ingredients. Sifting isn’t necessary, but prepare to spend a bit longer on this step due to the number of spices included. I’m sure that some of the spices can be swapped out for others (ginger always shouts out to me as missing here), but the end result tastes so delicious that I rarely experiment.

The highlight of this recipe is that the entire thing can be, and should be, done by hand. To combine the wet ingredients, take out your handy whisk, grab a large mixing bowl, and add the ingredients one at a time in the order instructed. The batter will have a strange texture for much of the mixing process, so don’t worry if everything isn’t coming together as nicely as you’d like it to.

Pumpkin Bread Ingredients

To fold in the dry ingredients, use a large spatula and take big, sweeping strokes. Try to stir the batter as little as possible, repeating the folding motion until the white streaks of flour just disappear.  While this method takes some practice, it’s a helpful skill to add to your baking repertoire.

Once the bread is in the oven, leave it undisturbed for around 50 minutes. Then test for doneness, inserting either a knife or toothpick into the center of the bread. If the knife doesn’t come out clean, give it a few more minutes. Pumpkin bread is reliably moist, so it’s a good idea to leave the bread in the oven until you’re sure it’s done.

The best part about this bread is that it can be eaten at almost every time of day – in the morning for breakfast, around mid-afternoon for a snack, or after dinner as a delicious dessert.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread Recipe (Adapted from recipegirl.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin (from a 15 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and pumpkin puree until combined.  Add the sugar and stir until smooth.  Whisk in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1/4 cup water at room temperature.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix the batter.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

This bread tastes even better the next day, so do not hesitate to make it in advance!

Bread

Best Ever Banana Bread

Everyone needs a go-to banana bread. If you are still without one, give this one a try and I promise you’ll never look back.

This recipe comes from Flour, my favorite bakery in Boston. I used to make Saturday morning pilgrimages out to the South End branch when I lived in the city, and it is one of the few places that I refuse to skip whenever I make a visit. Their banana bread is one of my favorite things on the menu, and it is far more moist and banana-y than any other recipe I’ve tried.

To really bring out the flavor in this recipe, make sure that you whisk the eggs and sugars on medium for at least five minutes. I ignored this direction during my first trial with this recipe, and it just didn’t taste the same.  The nuts are optional, but I never skip them.  If anything, add something additional, like chocolate chips!

As a side note, this bread makes a great gift.  The banana flavor only gets stronger with age, and I’ve been told that the bread tastes even better 2-3 days later.

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Flour’s Famous Banana Bread Recipe (adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Set up the stand mixer with the whisk attachment (this was the first time that I used mine!).  Whisk together sugar and eggs on medium speed for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Turn mixer speed down to low/stir.  SLOWLY add oil to the bowl (don’t just dump it in! This will ruin the wonderful puffiness of the egg+sugar mixture).
  5. Peel bananas and mash them with a fork. Add bananas, along with sour cream and vanilla to the bowl.
  6. Turn mixture off.  Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour mixture.   Mix as little as possible at this point, but make sure that the flour is fully incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into a buttered 9″x5″ loaf pan.  Slide into the oven and bake for 60 to 75 minutes.  Test the loaf for doneness by pressing down on the top crust.  If it is fully cooked, the crust will spring back towards your finger.
Bread

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

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For the past three years, I’ve experimented a lot with bread making.  I started off with my friend Laura’s sourdough starter (otherwise known as my “pet”), which had an awesome, complex flavor. However, the starter often disappointed me, and I could never get my dough to rise above the lip of the pan.  The starter also required daily attention, and I quickly killed it in the fridge (perhaps the reason I don’t have a real pet).

I then moved onto yeast-y breads, although no one recipe could keep my attention for very long. Pretty soon, I found myself back at the grocery store buying Arnold and Pepperidge Farm.  Who doesn’t have a special love for bread that is perfectly sliced and lasts for a week or more?

But then, I found the KitchenAid.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself lazy, but the stand mixer makes bread making so easy that I don’t think I’ll ever want to buy bread again. My loaf (pictured here) rose so high that it was towering over the pan, and I was pretty sure the whole thing would flop over in my oven.  The texture and taste were also wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to share it with friends and co-workers.

To be fair, I’ve only made one loaf so far.  However, based on the way this one turned out, there will be many, many more.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread Recipe (adapted from “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce)

Ingredients:

  • oil for pan
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Oil a 9″x5″x3″ inch loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together warm water, yeast, and molasses.  Let sit for 5 minutes, or until light foam appears on the surface of the water.  At this step, be very careful that the water is not too hot or you will kill the yeast!
  3. Slowly add whole wheat flour, bread flour, and oats to the bowl.  Stir with a spatula until combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel for 30 minutes (I considered skipping this step, but it was well worth it).
  4. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer. Add salt and mix dough on medium speed for 6 minutes.  When finished, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
  5. Oil a large bowl.  With your hands, roll dough into the form of a ball in place it in the bowl.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest for one hour, or until doubled in size.
  6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  With your hands, stretch the dough into a square, approximately 12 by 12.  Working with the top two corners, fold them into the middle of the square.  Repeat on the bottom, folding the bottom two corners into the middle.  Pinch the seam where they meet, and lightly roll the dough back and forth.
  7. Curl the ends of the dough inwards and slide the loaf into the prepared pan.  Cover dough with a tea towel and let rise for one more hour. Dough should double in size and stand 1-3 inches above the lip of the pan.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaf for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  When finished, the bread should sound hollow when tapped lightly on the top. If you like, rub the top of the loaf with a light coating of butter to make it glossy.
  9. For best results, let the loaf cool for a few hours to preserve moisture.