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!

Breakfast · Fruit

Triple Berry Muffins

As a lover of all things sweet for breakfast, I often wake up with a craving for muffins. However, daunted by the thought of finding a recipe and gathering the ingredients, I tend to settle for something simpler – and right out of the cereal box.

That is, until I found this recipe. There’s a short list of ingredients, so it’s likely that you have them all on hand in your pantry at this very moment. Flour? Yes. Sugar? Yes. Eggs and milk? In the refrigerator and ready for use. In addition, there’s a ton of flexibility built right into the recipe. Granulated sugar can be easily replaced with brown, vegetable oil can be swapped for butter (or another variety of oil), and berries can be removed entirely or accompanied by nuts (pecans and walnuts would be ideal).

For those of you that see this recipe as a base for future experimentation, there’s plenty of room to play around with spices. Cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom come quickly to mind, but other spices would work just as well. Add lemon zest, lime juice, or other citrus flavors if you like muffins with an extra tangy bite.

When it comes to mixing together the ingredients, that’s where this recipe really begins to shine. Most importantly, you’ll only need two bowls from start to finish. If you’re like me and loved baking but hate dishes, that’s a huge win. And, if you opt for oil instead of butter, there’s no need to break out the mixer – a large mixing spoon will do. Give the batter a few stirs, divide it between the 12 muffin cups, and all the sudden you’re done.

Berry Muffin Breakfast

Once in the oven, these muffins come out warm and toasty in under 20 minutes. Combined with prep time, that means the entire recipe comes together easily in under 35 minutes. Now, baking breakfast doesn’t have to last into the early afternoon.

Triple Berry Muffins Recipe (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (1/2 cup if you want a very moist muffin)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • Lemon zest

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly butter two muffin trays (6 muffins each).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and vegetable oil. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Gently stir in the berries and divide muffins into the prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

 

 

Breakfast

Simple French Toast

Long weekends beg for decadent breakfasts. French toast, with its custard-like texture and sweet, crispy crust, is the perfect answer.

Like many of my favorite sweet breakfast treats, french toast comes together quickly and requires ingredients frequently found in the fridge. Eggs? Check. Milk? Check. Bread? Check. If I’m really trying to impress, I’ll throw a loaf of challah into the mix.

Sweetly Seasoned - French Toast

To make a truly great piece of french toast – one that rivals your favorite brunch establishments – There are a few tricks. First, use thick slices of day-old bread. Your bread should be soft enough to soak up the egg mixture, but not so soft that it will fall apart. Secondly, make sure that you have the right proportion of milk to eggs. If you’re looking for a rich, melt-in-your-mouth piece of french toast, use whole milk or heavy cream.  If you’re looking for something slightly healthier, stick with a low-fat milk like 1%. Lastly, let the bread soak in the custard mixture on both sides before cooking. This is the key to creating a creamy center – arguably the best part of the dish.

For those of you savory folks that are skeptical of sweet breakfast, give this one a try.

French Toast Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 4 medium slices of bread (preferably challah), cut into 1″ thick slices
  • unsalted butter for frying

Instructions:

  1. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add milk, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon and whisk until combined.
  2. Dip slices of bread one at a time into the bowl.  Let sit for 30 seconds on one side and then flip. Let sit for 30 more seconds and then remove bread from egg mixture, letting excess egg drip off. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.
  3. Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Add butter and swirl around pan to coat. Add slices of bread to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Flip bread and let cook on other side for 2-3 minutes longer.
  4. Remove bread from pan and top with strawberries and maple syrup.  Serve warm and enjoy!
Breakfast

Pumpkin Waffles

pumpkin waffle

The last waffle I ate was back in college.  It was topped with soft serve, plenty of hot fudge, sprinkles, and whipped cream.  Once I was done putting it together, it looked more like a brownie sundae than breakfast.

Needless to say, this waffle is very different. The flavor comes from the batter itself, rather than the toppings.  And, while it has significantly less sugar than my freshman favorite, it is still sweet enough to enjoy without syrup.

There’s literally no better way to begin a weekend.

mixing waffles

A big thanks to my friend Hannah for providing the waffle iron, and for being patient as I took photographs of our every move!

Pumpkin Waffles Recipe (adapted from this recipe at Smitten Kitchen):

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 16 oz buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin (I used Libby’s)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and  cooled

Instructions:

  1. Separate the eggs into two medium sized bowls.  In the bowl filled with the four egg yolks, whisk the yolks until smooth and add the remaining wet ingredients (buttermilk, pumpkin, melted butter).  Mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. In another medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices).
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the egg yolks and other wet ingredients.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  I did this by hand for 5-10 minutes, but it can also be done using a stand mixer.  Once the egg whites are ready, fold them into the batter carefully.
  5. Heat up the waffle iron and brush it with oil (follow the directions from your iron. When it’s warm, pour about 3/4 cup of the batter into the lower iron and spread it to the edges (this step will vary depending on the size of the iron).
  6. Follow the cooking directions for your iron, since every waffle iron is different.
  7. When it’s fully cooked, carefully remove the waffle from the iron with a fork.  Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

*note: this recipe makes A LOT of batter.  We saved the rest, but I’m guessing it could serve 5-6 people at least.

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.

photo (9)edited

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.