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The Easiest Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The Easiest Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Easie

I’m not feeling imaginative in the cooking and baking departments these days. Maybe it’s the hungry gap, maybe I’m just sick of thinking up meals three times a day. Whatever it is, these simple banana chocolate chip muffins are quick to make and satisfying to a horde of kindergarteners despite the lack of sugar (choc chips aside, obviously). The browner the bananas, the sweeter the muffins, so leave them as long as you can.

Super easy banana chocolate chip muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with spray oil or muffin cups.

Mix the bananas and other wet ingredients until the mixture is mostly smooth and only slightly chunky.

Add dry ingredients on top, gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Fold in chocolate chips. Fill prepared tin with the mixture.

Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Adapted from mama papa bubba.

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How to make really good bread

How to make really good bread

bread

Master a good loaf of bread, and you will never have to bring anything complicated to a pot luck again. I have people over for stew lovingly simmered for hours, a gorgeous roast chicken, homemade ice cream – it’s the bread they reach for, groaning with pleasure, again and again. Arrive at someone’s house, unwrapping a fresh loaf from a tea towel and they will be a puddle at your feet.

It’s seems crazy, once you get the hang of it, because it’s so easy. How can something so simple give people such base pleasure? I swear, learn to make a good loaf and make some homemade butter and your friends will do anything for you. As an added benefit, I find homemade bread much easier to digest compared to a grocery store loaf. I won’t suggest you read the ingredients on one of those loaves, it will make you sad.

I would love to tell you exactly how to make a good loaf, but I can’t. It takes practice. Tasty practice, thankfully. I’ve been working on my technique for years. These days, I bake two loaves every 10 days or so, freezing one loaf straight away. I bake our everyday loaves in loaf tins, but for dinner parties and potlucks I make round loaves on baking sheets. Looks much more picturesque, but requires absolutely no extra work on my part.

Finally, I know the imprecise nature of bread making instructions make beginners crazy, but there are so many variables that giving specific rising times just isn’t practical. However, I will say this: slightly underproofing is better than overproofing. Speaking from experience. Keep your yeast in the fridge, even if it’s dried, and buy local flour if you can.

If you live in Vancouver, I highly recommend taking Florin Moldovan’s breadmaking class (you can read about my experience here). If you’re in the UK, I hear great things about the Bertinet Cookery School’s breadmaking courses.

Here is my two loaf recipe, let me know how you get on.

Basic 60% white 40% wheat bread with chia seeds
makes two loaves

725ml lukewarm water

11g dry active yeast

2 tbsp honey

3 tbsp chia seeds

22g fine sea salt

900g white all-purpose flour (if in UK, use bread flour)

200g whole wheat flour

1. In a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast and honey, and leave to sit for 10 minutes.

2. Add flours on top of water, followed by the salt.
– If using a stand mixer: mix with dough hook until mixture comes together as dough ball, this will take about 2-3 minutes.

– If mixing by hand: using the in-bowl kneading technique until dough comes together, and stops sticking to your hands, this will take about 4-6 minutes. Don’t give up!

3. Cover bowl with cling film and leave until dough doubles in bulk. For me, that’s about 1 hour in the summer, up to 2 hours in the winter when it’s cold.

4. Sprinkle flour on a clean counter, and turn out the dough, scraping out the bits with your fingers. Start oven preheating to 400º.

5. Spread out the dough gently with your hands to distribute the air bubbles. Shape it into a rough rectangle, with the long side facing you. You’re going to fold it in three as if you were folding a letter to fit in an envelope. Fold in one short side and press down the edges to meld it into the dough, you may have to pinch it a bit to make sure it attaches to the dough you’re folding it over. Repeat. Spread out the dough again gently, and repeat. Leave to rest covered by a towel for about half an hour.

6. Split the dough in half, and then shape into loaves. Tuck into oiled loaf pans.

This Kitchn video demonstrates both the letter fold and the loaf shaping. Personally I pinch the edges after my letter folds as well as the shaping, but up to you.

7. Cover loaf pans with tea towel and leave for about half an hour.

8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tops are brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool 5 minutes in their tins, then turn out onto cooling rack.

Note: to shape dough into more artisan round domes, follow the recipe until step 6. Instead of shaping into loaves after the letter fold, you’re going to make a round and place it on an oiled cookie sheet. This Kitchn video demonstrates the shaping step. Continue as above.

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Sarah’s mum’s Norwegian Apple Cake

Sarah’s mum’s Norwegian Apple Cake

Sarah's mum's Norwegian Apple Cale | Erin at Large

 

apple cake 1

A few years ago, I was whinging about needing something to bake with apples. My friend Sarah promptly sent me her mum’s recipe for Norwegian Apple Cake, which she said to me is ‘probably not really my mum’s recipe as we aren’t Norwegian’.

This is one of several ‘hot milk’ cakes I’ve seen floating around, invariably from someone’s mum or grandmother. My mum has made a variation with caramel sauce since I can remember, the recipe for which she received from her mum. The thing with hot milk cakes is they are dead simple to make and incredibly hard to properly screw up. Butter is melted in the milk, which is heated to boiling and then poured, hot, straight into the eggs and sugar. I thought this would mean instant lumpy custard, but it doesn’t. It also does away with the tedious step of creaming butter and sugar together. I’ve tinkered with the recipe in the smallest of ways by adding a teaspoon of vanilla and a grate or two of nutmeg to give the dense cake that nice doughnutty taste. It is just as lovely without.

A word on the apples. The original recipe Sarah gave me specified Bramleys, which are a tart green apple grown all over England, but not available in my end of North America. I’ve used pretty much any eating apple over the years, both over there and over here, as I have made this cake countless times. Galas are fine. Pink Lady apples, whilst often suggested as a dessert apple, went a bit mushy in this recipe. As the apples only grace the top of the cake and are sprinkled with sugar before going in the oven, you want them to have a bit of shape at the end of the process. I’d say Granny Smith are probably the closest analogue to the Bramley – but I just don’t like them. The short of it being pick an apple you like to eat.

This is a great cake for making contributions to a bake sale or fete, because it slices into squares easily and looks fancy – despite being simple and quick to make.

Norwegian Apple Cake

  • 2 large eggs
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3-4 apples (see above)

Preheat oven to 200ºC/390ºF.

Grease and flour a 20cmx30cm baking tin.

Whisk the eggs and 200g of the sugar until thick and creamy in a large bowl.

Put the butter and milk in a pan and bring to the boil. Take pan off the heat, add vanilla.

Stir, still boiling, into the eggs and sugar.

Sieve in the flour into the bowl, grate nutmeg and fold until there are no lumps.

Pour the mixture into the tin.

Peel, core and slice the apples, arrange them on top of the mixture in the tin and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then slice.

 

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Beetroot brownie cupcakes

A few things came together in a kind of culinary planetary alignment to bring me to the constant chocolate beetroot cupcake assembly line my kitchen has become.

For the last month I’ve been receiving bags of beetroot in my Spud veg box. I like them, but I could never eat them all before they went bad. I’ve had variations on the beetroot* chocolate baked thing a few times, but mostly in cakes or loaves. Finally, Elliot has been on a sleep training plan which required a reward every morning when he slept in his bed all night. I wanted something that would be a treat, but not too overwhelmingly dessert, and incorporated some kind of vegetable.

Which is how I ended up making, no exaggeration, 10 consecutive batches of these cupcakes. Of course I tweaked as I went. Some batches I cut too much sugar and it tasted too botanical, and others I subbed out too much of the oil so they were a bit dry and went stale quickly. I think I have the perfect ratio now. You want to read through this whole recipe before starting, as it requires cooking the beetroot first – I often do this the day before whilst I’m making dinner or something. I sometimes keep and freeze the beetroot water to use as a natural food colouring. Finally, I get 18 cupcakes out of this, but my muffin tin is on the small side, so don’t fret if you only manage 12.

Beetroot brownie cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes
Adapted from this Jill Dupleix Saturday Kitchen recipe 

  • 250g beetroot, about three small ones or two large ones
  • 75g dutch process cocoa powder
  • 110g wholewheat flour
  • 70g all-purpose flour
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 50ml applesauce
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add beetroot. No need to top and tail them.
  2. Boil until a knife poked into one of the beetroot slides in with no resistance to the centre. Remove with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Top and tail each beetroot, then slice in half. Scrape skins off with the side of a knife, and then roughly cube. You will be puréeing these, so don’t get too perfectionist here.
  3. Preheat your oven to 355ºF/180ºC, place a rack in the middle of oven. Line a muffin tin with paper cups (I have tried greasing the tin only – these little guys are brutal to get out in one piece, don’t bother and just use paper cups).
  4. In a large bowl, sift your cocoa, flours and sugar. Set aside.
  5. Tip the beetroot into a food processor or blender (I can just about do this with my mini chopper, if I hold the lid down tight – there are a few more ingredients to go in, so I would measure the total volume before you try it!), and blend until beetroot is just about puréed. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a few pulses in between to thoroughly mix. Finally, add oil, applesauce and vanilla and give it a good whirl until everything is combined. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure you get everything.
  6. Tip your beetroot mix into the dry ingredients, and fold with a spatula until just combined.
  7. Pour into your prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

*I say beetroot throughout, which is the British way of referring to a beet. They are one and the same. I didn’t really start eating beetroot until I moved over there, so to me they will always be beetroot.

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