Portuguese Sweet Bread

Ahhhh, take a deep breath, my friends.

Do you smell it?

That gently yeasty buttery wafting smell…the smell of home, family, and fresh baked goodness.

Oh, yes, it is finally bread baking season!

Here’s an easy, sweet tasting bread for all occasions.

The Recipe:

Portuguese Sweet Bread, adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour

1/2 c milk

4 T butter, cut into pats

1/3 c sugar

1 1/4 t salt

3 1/4 c bread flour

1 T yeast

grated peel (zest) of 1 medium lemon

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved

2 t vanilla extract

Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Heat to lukewarm, stirring to soften the butter. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, the bowl of your stand mixer combine the flour, yeast, and lemon zest; stir to combine. Add the milk mixture, (stirring first to make sure the sugar and salt aren’t left in the bottom of the cup or pan). Add the eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Mix and knead until the dough is cohesive and smooth; it’ll be very sticky at first. (If you’re using a stand mixer, beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It will have formed a ball somewhat, but will probably still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl.)

Lightly grease a mixing bowl, round the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan. Gently deflate the dough, and round it into a ball. Place the ball in the prepared pan, and tent the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for about 2 hours, until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water, and brush some onto the surface of the loaf; this will give it a satiny, mahogany-brown crust.

Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s a medium golden brown and its internal temperature registers 190°F on a digital thermometer.

Tips and Tricks:

Whenever I place bread dough in a bowl to rise, I put it in the greased bowl, and then flip it over. so that the top is greased as well. That seems to keep it from drying out on top.

The Results:

I made this bread to go with our chili from the previous recipe. I wanted something sweeter to counter the savory of the chili. I thought it worked wonderfully.

Additionally, this was a super easy recipe to make and it seemed pretty full-proof.

Everyone enjoyed the bread, though Hubs thought the lemon flavor was a little much. I thought it was very similar to a Hawaiian bread recipe and found it worked well with the chili – and on it’s own as a dessert. 🙂 The kids all liked it, so I call it a success.

IMG_4429

And it’s pretty, too!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Or, as my four-year-old calls them: ‘Bikini Muffins.’

(I actually considered using that as the title of this recipe, but I realized I might get some, ahem, inappropriate traffic using those terms, together.)

This delicious recipe came about because my lovely neighbor gave us just a small, petite, little zucchini. (Insert sarcasm and see picture below.)

IMG_4416

Yeah. It was actually HUGE.

Anyways, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to bake using zucchini for the very first time. (Nope, I’d never done it before.) I looked through my Recipe list on Pinterest and found a recipe stating it was ‘Award-Winning.’

Sold.

And the four-year-old and I were off on our baking adventure.

The Recipe:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins, adapted slightly from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Streusel Topping:

2/3 c old-fashioned oats

1/2 c dark brown sugar

2 T  flour

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 c butter, cold, cut into small squares

1 T semi-sweet chocolate chips

Muffins:

1 egg, beaten

1/2 c dark brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c vegetable oil

1 c grated zucchini 

2 t vanilla

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin tin and set aside.

Streusel: Combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pasty cutter. Mix until the streusel resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, zucchini, and vanilla until evenly combined. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate chips together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Avoid over-mixing.

Fill muffin cups all the way to the top (I only had enough batter for 11). Sprinkle streusal over the top of each muffin, covering completely. Gently press the streusel into the tops of each muffin. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees and, keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for an additional 13-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

The Results:

I think I’d always avoided baking with zucchini because I was afraid it would taste funny, but, boy – oh boy! – was I wrong. These tasted absolutely perfect. They were so moist and full of fall flavor. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate chips work so well together. And the streusel, wow, it just took these to a new level.

IMG_4418

So, by the time I got around to taking a picture of these – this was the only one left.

My only complaint was that this only made 11… but so easy to rectify by doubling. Believe me, you’ll want to make more.

(And since I only used about 1/5 of that huge zucchini, making another batch of these is on today’s agenda.)

Just look at inside of these:

IMG_4421

Perfection.

And I don’t have to feel bad. Because they have a vegetable in them.

Right? 😉

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

I had some brown bananas.

Strike that.

I had dark, dark, brownish-blackish, mushy, falling-apart bananas.

They needed to be used ASAP.

And we all know the best way to use those kinds of bananas is in a banana bread. But I’ve been there, done that lots of times.

Now, if you’ve ever looked through my recipe index, you’ve probably realized that I quite enjoy the chocolate banana combination. And I’d already made a banana chocolate chip bread, so I knew I needed to take this version to a new level. And a little experimentation with my four-year-old was the perfect way to do it.

The Recipe:

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Part 1, Banana Bread:

3/4 c flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1/4 t ground cinnamon

2 medium bananas (heavily speckled or even black bananas are best)

1/4 c butter, melted and cooled

3/8 c packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

Whisk all dry ingredients down to the cinnamon in a small bowl. Whip/mash bananas until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until blended. Add dry ingredients in two batches, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Pour into loaf pan.

Part 2, Chocolate Pound Cake:

1/4 c butter, softened

1/2 c sugar

1 eggs

1/4 c vanilla yogurt

1/2 t vanilla

3 T cocoa powder

3/8 c milk

5/8 c flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, yogurt, and vanilla and mix well. Add cocoa powder and stir until incorporated. Add milk alternately with flour, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour batter over the top of the banana bread mixture. With a small spatula or spoon, gently scoop and fold the banana mixture over and through the chocolate one.

Bake in center rack for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove, and let finish cooling on a rack.

The Results:

Hey, look… something turned out pretty:

IMG_4391

And it tasted pretty good, too!

It was moist throughout, and the two flavors (obviously) went well together.

I do have to say, though, the banana bread was the definite flavor winner – for me, it overpowered the chocolate a bit. If you are a chocoholic, you might want to up the chocolate-y-ness if you make this. I wanted more chocolate, personally, but the rest of the family loved it the way it was. So, it’s your choice.

The best part, my four-year-old was SO proud and thought that the marbling was very cool.

And his smile made the extra work worth it.

Coffee Sugar Cookies

Do you ever see a recipe on your social media feed that is just undeniable?

Not only does it sound tasty, but it looks beautiful and you just know you can recreate it.

Yeah, that did not happen this week.

I saw an amazing recipe from I am Baker a couple weeks ago, pinned it, and waited until I could find a quiet, non-kiddo time to make it.  (Dreaming of gorgeous off-white round cookies, with perfect little sprinkles of black coffee throughout.)

You’ll have to scroll to the end to see what happened.  I bet you can guess.

The Recipe:

Coffee Sugar Cookies, adapted very slightly from I am Baker (mostly because it didn’t turn out exactly right)

1 c butter, softened

1 1/4 c sugar

2 eggs

2 T instant coffee

1 t vanilla

2 c flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and coffee until fully incorporated. In separate bowl add together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add your egg mixture to the butter mixture until well combined. Slowly add flour mixture until fully combined, do not over beat.

Chill this dough for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Allow cookies to cool completely.

The Results:

Let’s just start out by sharing the picture…

IMG_4370

Sad little misshapen cookies

Hmmm, I’m thinking something went wrong. (You should click on the link to I am Baker above to see what they actually should look like.)

I’m not sure if it was the use of instant coffee vs fresh-ground or what, but these did not look like the cookies of my dreams. Plus, my dough ended up really sticky – so I couldn’t roll it out as suggested or use a circle cookie cutter to make a perfect shape. Ooops.

But, but, but

In the good news column, they still tasted like I dreamed!

They were crisp and chewy and very much a grown up coffee-flavored treat (no kids allowed!).

So, my suggestion – head back to the original recipe…and let me know if your’s turn out better.

 

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

I’ll give you one good guess on whether or not this recipe was chosen by me or the kids.

Yep, we’re back to kid-friendly cooking.  And really, I don’t mind.  It’s generally really fun and this time, both boys got involved.

(Which didn’t make it easier… but they were both so proud of the finished product.)

The lady hung out snacking in her chair while I divided the boys into dry vs. wet ingredients.  We only had one major whisk of flour across the counter and one too fast KitchenAid blast of ingredients.  

I call that a win.

The Recipe:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies, adapted from Oscar’s Gooey, Chewy PBJ Cookies

3/4 c flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t baking powder

1 c oats

1/4 c butter, softened

1/2 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 c oil

1 t vanilla

1/2 c jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment.

In medium bowl whisk all dry ingredients. 

In mixer, 

Toasted Coconut Pound Cake

We all have recipes we make, and we end up liking them.

We use words to describe them like tasty, delicious, and yummy.

But once the dish/food is gone, we don’t think about them or make them ever again.

This is NOT one of those recipes…

I was so excited to get a quiet and mostly empty house this weekend (boys outside playing and the lady napping upstairs). Even luckier was the fact that the morning was cool enough to risk heating up the oven. So, I pulled up my trusty Pinterest Recipe board, checked my ingredients in the house, and went to work on a recipe all for me.

The Recipe:

Toasted Coconut Pound Cake, adapted very slightly from Little Bits of 

3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature

2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 c sugar

1 t vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down bowl. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with two 1/2-cup additions buttermilk, and beat until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in 1 1/4 cups coconut.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 60 minutes. Let cool in pan the remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack.

Tips and Tricks:

(I’m adding this section when I think of something helpful for you novice cooks out there – as there are things that I didn’t know when I first started cooking that I wish someone would’ve explained to me. For all you experienced cooks, please feel free to skip this part.)

If you don’t have buttermilk: take a Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and place in 1 cup measuring cup.  Add regular milk to the 1 cup mark and let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Substitute exactly for buttermilk.

To toast coconut: Preheat oven to 350.  Spread coconut out on a cookie sheet.  Place in oven and let toast for about 10 minutes, flipping and stirring coconut as needed.  Remove when most coconut is a golden brown color.

The Results:

Oh. My. Goodness. This was an amazing pound cake. Seriously amazing.

(I’m not lying when I say I actually had a dream about it.)

(And ‘was’ is the operative word.  It did not last long.)

IMG_4284

The cake itself is buttery, soft, and moist. The coconut is crispy, fresh, and adds a perfect depth of flavor.  

I really did not want to share with the rest of the family, but figured it probably wouldn’t be too good for me to finish it up by myself. Hubs completely agreed, and all the kids kept asking for it as their dessert, snack, breakfast, or whatever they could have it for.

IMG_4288

This recipe will definitely be made again. And again.

(I’m trying to decide if adding chocolate chips will be too much, or if it’s perfect how it is. I’ll keep you posted.)

Strawberry Muffins

I have elite and discerning tastes.

(I mean, couldn’t you tell from my Disney Junior recipe.)

So maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, right now, with three littles running around.  I’ve learned that to be able to actually make something, I need to get their buy-in.  So that they: 1. Let me have the time to make it – and 2. Actually eat it after the fact.

The easiest way to do this is to let them pick the recipe.

That’s what happened this week.  I let my middle (chef-baker-wannabe) pick out anything he wanted for us to make.  He went to his trusty kids cookbook and picked one right out.

Let’s just say that today’s recipe is brought to you by the Letter S.

(Oh, how times have changed.)

The Recipe:

Strawberry Muffinsadapted from Abby Cadabby’s Disappearing Strawberry Muffins

1 1/2 c flour

1/3 c sugar

1/4 c cornmeal

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 c low-fat strawberry yogurt

1/3 c oil

1 large egg

2 c chopped strawberries (lightly sprinkle with flour)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin tins with cups or lightly grease.  

Whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside.  Stir together yogurt and oil until incorporated.  Add egg and mix until well-blended.  Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed and then fold in strawberries.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 way full and bake for 20-25 minutes (until toothpick in center comes out clean).  Let cool on rack.

Makes 12 or so muffins.

The Results

Let’s just start with the beginning – a short trip to the grocery store to pick up some whole wheat flour.  (‘What?’ you’re saying – ‘I don’t see whole wheat flour in the recipe.’)  Well, of course you don’t… let’s just say our trip did not go exactly as planned (add car troubles, crying babies, and wrestling boys) and I ended up bringing home bread flour.  Really?!  The main thing I needed to pick up, and I did it wrong.  Sounds just about right around here.  So, as you can see, I just used regular flour instead because I was NOT going back.

Anyhow, other than that snafu, the recipe was super simple, and my four year old did pretty much all the work.  He was especially excited that I let him cut off the strawberry stems – it’s the little things for him.  🙂

And the muffins turned out pretty darn good.  The yogurt made them super moist inside and I loved the bits of fresh strawberries throughout.  And all three kids ate them right up, so I say a definite success!

IMG_4271

Banana Chocolate ‘Ice-Cream’

Hey, look – I’m writing a real post.  With a recipe and everything… craziness, I know.

So, I was looking for an easy toe-dip kind of recipe to start with.  Something the kids could help with and enjoy, something that wouldn’t heat up my house on a hot day, and something that wasn’t horribly unhealthy.  I had no idea where to start.

And that’s where Disney Junior stepped in.

Yep, you heard that right.  This recipe is being brought to you by a Disney Junior informative commercial.  (Please don’t judge.)

In this commercial a mom (I think), and her son, make a delicious ice-cream style treat out of bananas – the boys were intrigued and I thought it looked easy and fun.  So off we went.

The Recipe

Banana Chocolate ‘Ice Cream’ adapted from Disney Junior

4 bananas, sliced and frozen

2 T greek vanilla yogurt

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Makes approximately 1 pint.

In a food processor, pulse bananas until broken into small pieces.  Add the rest of the ingredients and let processor run until smooth and creamy.  Serve immediately as soft serve or freeze for several hours for a regular ice-cream consistency.

The Results

I didn’t really remember much from the Disney Junior commercial except the frozen bananas in a food processor.  So, I started by having the boys chop bananas, place them in a Tupperware, and then froze them all.  Seemed like a great idea until I went to dump them out and this happened:

A giant frozen rectangular block of bananas.

A giant frozen rectangular block of bananas.

Hmmm – I’m thinking next time to freeze them on a cookie sheet individually, since this did not break up well in the processor.  Eventually, with the help of my trusty pick-axe (or butter knife), I got these into smaller pieces that could be chopped up.

Pulsing was the best way to get things started – and then I realized that the bananas were staying pretty dry and crumbly.  I wanted to add something wet and healthy to get the creamy effect, so vanilla yogurt and extract it was.

The idea of adding the cocoa powder came at the end.  Because seriously, why not?!

And it was borderline genius, I tell you.

When we sampled the finished product after mixing, it soft, creamy, and lightly chocolate-y flavored.  The banana was the star, but the chocolate added a depth to it that I found quite enjoyable.  The boys liked it a lot, too.

We decided to freeze the bulk of it for later that night.

When we pulled it out, it was pretty solid – so I recommend letting it set out for a bit before serving.  At this point, it tasted just like a regular banana ice cream – with a chocolate twist.  Very satisfying and very delicious.

(Though for those chocoholics out there like me, I’m thinking doubling the cocoa would be fantastic.)

It's going to take a while to get my picture skills up to snuff, but for now, here's the finished product.

It’s going to take a while to get my picture skills up to snuff, but for now, here’s the finished product.

Pregnancy Craving #4: Chocolate {Death by Chocolate Cupcakes}

What?

I’ve already listed chocolate as a pregnancy craving?

Ooops.  Oh, well.

Not feeling too guilty about it, though, since it is by far the strongest craving I’m having.  Baby Girl really likes her chocolate.  (And I kinda do, too.)

I feel, though, that I truly need to officially warn you before you embark upon this recipe:

This recipe is not for the faint of heart or any chocolate novices.  You many want to consult your doctor before ingesting this amazing chocolate treat.  It is not sweet.  It is not creamy.  It is dark.  It is rich.  It cures any craving in one decadent bite.  Milk, ice cream, and/or coffee is highly recommended to pair with this dessert.

(You think I’m kidding… but I am totally serious.)

The Recipe:

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes, adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/8 c flour

1/4 c unsweetened cocoa

1 1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 large egg (which I did not have and substituted 1 T white vinegar and 1 t baking soda)

1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c + 2 T whole milk

1/3 c strong brewed coffee

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

1/4 c + dark chocolate chips, lightly tossed in flour

~~~~

1 c semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 c heavy cream

3 T unsalted butter

extra dark chocolate chips for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake molds or muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.  Add the dry ingredients.  Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake molds, filling them about three-quarters full.  Drop dark chocolate chips into the batter – as many or as few as you would like.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or knife, remove the cupcakes from the pan. Continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

To make the frosting, melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl, over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  (I just microwaved mine in a glass bowl on high for 3-4 sets of 30 seconds, stirring between sets.)  Heat the cream until hot.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate.  Transfer to a bowl and cool to just warm.  Whisk in the butter until smooth.  Let sit until it reaches a spreading consistency, about 1 hour.  Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes.  Sprinkle them with chocolate chips.

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

The Results:

These were pretty simple to make.  I’m not sure if it was my egg substitute or something else, but my cupcakes ended up being pretty flat on top, with a small collapsed indent in the middle.  Now, you would think this would be disappointing… but it just made more room for the topping.

My only issue with the topping was waiting for that whole hour for the ‘frosting’ to set.  I’m also going to clarify that this really didn’t make what I’d consider a true frosting – it’s more like a thick ganache – and I am NOT complaining.  It was heavenly.

The overall flavor knocks you off your feet with chocolate (refer to warning above).  For me, it was utter perfection and exactly what I was hoping for.  I’m pretty sure, though, it’s not for everyone…

IMG_1813The cupcakes are not as rich as the topping, but they are still amazing – and the addition of some chocolate chips thrown in the batter, adds to each bite, contrasting with the lighter texture of the cake.

So, to sum up, if you LOVE chocolate (dark chocolate, that is), this will be the recipe for you.  It will definitely take you to your happy place.

(I’ve may have gone there several times this weekend… please don’t judge.  🙂  )

Pregnancy Craving #3: Tart Fruit {French Apple Cake}

I see cooking two ways; I see it both as a science and as an art.

Usually, I take the science (aka the recipe) and tweak it here and there to my own preferences (the art).  My only exception is when I use recipes from America’s Test Kitchen… mostly because they have scienced the heck out of the recipe, and I trust their results.

I saw this recipe in Hubs’ monthly magazine and was super excited to give it a try.

The Recipe:

French Apple Cake, from America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated

(I didn’t adapt it at all, so I thought I’d save myself the time of retyping.  🙂 Just click on the recipe title to find it.)

The Results:

Since this recipe used Granny Smith’s, I was looking forward to a tart and tasty dessert.  And after spending quite a while peeling, coring, and cutting apples, I knew I deserved it.

Everything else was pretty easy – and I liked trying new techniques that had been proven to be effective.

The only thing I wished I had done better was actually read the article about the cake… instead of just drooling over the picture.  Because, well, this did not turn out exactly as I’d expected.

For some reason, I was picturing a ‘coffee cake’ like texture with bits of tart apple thrown in.  Instead, the bottom layer is quite custard-y, which is a texture that wasn’t really that satisfying.  And all the apple bits were inlaid in the custard…

The top layer was very delicious, though, and the slightly crunchy crust made me very happy.

So, I think if I was prepared for the custard/cake mix, I probably would’ve really enjoyed it.  The flavor of the apples really showed through.  As it was, though, I was a little disappointed.

IMG_1799

I didn’t even take a fun, styled picture of a slice.  Sorry!

I do have to say, it did get eaten, so it really wasn’t bad at all, I promise.

Though, I think I just might be switching back to chocolate cravings…