Food, Faith, and Other Fabulous Finds

Recipes, devotional thoughts, and other cool things I come across.

Back to Baking January 29, 2013

You knew I wouldn’t stay savory for long, right?  There are so many sweet treats that I’ve been DYING to share with you.  Savory food is great and very necessary, but sweets are an indulgence, so they’re somehow more fun.  Let’s start with the ice cream.  (Always a good plan, yes?)

A few months ago, a dear friend gave me an ice cream maker that she never used.  I was super excited to get it, but the weather was cold and gross, so I just didn’t feel up to using it right away.  Now that January has come, my tastes are turning to spring and summer.  Therefore I have absolutely no qualms about making and eating some lovely ice cream.  I’m still looking into all sorts of yummy flavors, but that hasn’t stopped me from whipping up my husband’s favorite flavor: vanilla.  If you’re a cheap skate (like me!), you can sub whatever milk you keep (1% here) for the whole milk and half and half (so much cheaper) for the heavy cream.  You will still get tasty ice cream, it just won’t be quite as rich or creamy as if you used the fattier milk products.  While my husband adores it straight out of the ice cream maker (he loves soft serve), I prefer to save some and put it in the freezer for a day or two.  When I take it out it’s fluffy and icy, which I love.  Since this is what we make for a sudden craving, it doesn’t use any eggs or require extra chilling (after all, your dairy products are already chilling in your fridge).  You just stir together your ingredients and let the ice cream maker do it’s work, 20-30 minutes later, you have a wonderful frozen treat.  When it starts getting hot, you can definitely expect to see many more ice cream recipes.

Vanilla Ice Cream (tweaked from my Cuisinart’s recipe booklet)

1 c. whole milk (Or whatever you have on hand.)

3/4 c. sugar

2 c. heavy cream (Or half and half.)

1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (Until I get some that’s top quality, I just use 1 tsp.)

1. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to combine the milk and sugar til the sugar dissolves, about 1-2 min. on low speed.  Stir in the cream and vanilla.  Turn the machine on, pour the mix in the freezer bowl, and let mix til thickened, about 25-30 min.

Vanilla Ice Cream  Here it’s fresh out of the machine and soft like my husband likes.

Vanilla Ice Cream 2  Here’s my preference, fluffy and icy after some time in the freezer.

One thing that goes very well on ice cream (especially homemade) is caramel sauce.  My best friend and I have tested out another recipe for caramel sauce.  This one stays lusciously thick, so it’s actually better as a spread than a drizzle, but no matter what you put it on, it’s tasty as can be.  (It stays thick, but just a few seconds in the microwave loosens it up if you did want to drizzle it.)  It’s also pretty simple to make and the full recipe makes a TON.  With its smooth, buttery taste, we’ve particularly enjoyed it on apples.  As with the previous caramel sauce, you can customize it with or without salt or other flavorings.

Caramel Sauce II (from Foods of Our Lives)

2 c. sugar

12 tbsp. butter

1 c. room temperature heavy cream (Although we’ve done it successfully with refrigerated cream.)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1. Put the sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon til the sugar melts, this will take a few minutes (and feel like forever).

2. Once the sugar’s all melted, start adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.  Whisk til all the butter’s melted.  Wait about 3 seconds, then add the cream slowly.  Whisk til smooth and creamy; remove from the heat.  Add the salt and whisk a couple of times to incorporate it.

3.  Let the sauce cool in the pan for a little bit, then pour it into a mason jar.  We usually leave it out til room temperature, then stick it in the fridge.

Caramel Sauce II 4  See how thick it gets!

You may not know this about me yet, but I’m not really a big fan of bananas.  I like banana bread, but that’s about it.  I am trying to overcome this, but I don’t have results about that experiment just yet.  What I do have are 2 delicious banana bread recipes that caught my attention for how unique they were.  The first one is special because it’s laced throughout with raw millet.  The millet gives it a great crunch that you get in every bite.

Crackly Banana Bread (from the beloved Smitten Kitchen)

3 bananas

1 egg

1/3 c. olive oil

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/4-1/3 c. maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 pinch cloves

1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour (I just used all-purpose flour.)

1/4 c. raw millet

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9×5 in. loaf pan.  In the bottom of a large bowl, mash the bananas til smooth. Whisk in the egg, oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Over this mix, sprinkle the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, then stir til combined.  Stir in the flour til just combined, then stir in the millet.

2. Pour the batter into the pan and bake til a toothpick removes cleanly, about 40-50 min.  Cool in its pan on a wire rack. (I made mine into 12 muffins which cooked in 20 minutes.)

Crackly Banana BreadCrackly Banana Bread 2

The second banana bread is peppered full of sesame seeds, white and black, which give it a lovely flavor.  They’re good warmed up with butter, but also tasty topped with a lemony-brown sugar glaze.  This recipe made 12 muffins and 2 small loaves, though you’ll have to up the amount of glaze to cover all of them.  I do strongly recommend that you seek out some black sesame seeds; they really do have a more pronounced flavor that makes the bread extra tasty.

Sesame Banana Bread (from 101 Cookbooks)

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

3/4 c. brown sugar

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/3 c. toasted sesame seeds (I did half black and half white.)

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

2 lightly beaten eggs

1 1/2 c. mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)

1/4 c. yogurt (I subbed sour cream since I didn’t have any yogurt.)

1 tsp. lemon zest

For the glaze:

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

4-6 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.  In a bowl, whisk together the flours, 3/4 c. brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add 1 c. and 1 tbsp. of the sesame seeds and combine well.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, bananas, yogurt, and lemon zest.  Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and fold til just combined.  Scrape the batter into the pan and bake til golden brown, about 45 min. (The muffins cooked in about 20 min., and the small loaves cooked in about 30.)

3. Cool on a rack in the pan for 10 min.  Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool completely.  Once it’s cool, you can whisk together the glaze ingredients til smooth and pour it over the muffins.  Don’t forget to top the glaze with the remaining sesame seeds.

Sesame Banana Bread 3Sesame Banana Bread 2Sesame Banana Bread 5  Hmm.  I guess the lighting was particularly bad when I took this last shot.  Sorry about that.

The last recipe is the best and worst of the lot.  Hubby and I both enjoyed it the most, but I had to make it twice because the first time was a horrible failure.  The recipe is for an orange cornmeal cake, and I thought it would be a great way to show off some blood oranges that I’d found at the grocery store.  Unfortunately, I was distracted the first time I made it and put in baking soda instead of baking powder.  The result was a disgustingly green batter and an overflowing cake pan.

FailFail 2


Still, I really wanted to try this cake.  I threw that one out and tried again a couple of days later.  This time I used the correct leavening agent and got a perfect cake.  Since the pretty red color of the oranges fades in the batter, I wouldn’t recommend using them for this.  I’d rather save them for something that will showcase them.  (Like these fabulous looking bars I keep seeing on Pinterest.  *Drool*)  Still, the cake is lovely, moist, and utterly delicious.  The sugary crust on top is my favorite part!  It’s a lovely cake when you don’t want to fuss with icing or just want whip a treat together quickly.  The orange flavor isn’t too intense and the hint of cornmeal gives it just a little extra texture.

Orange Cornmeal Cake (from Martha Stewart)

1/2 c. olive oil

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. cornmeal

2 tsp. baking powder

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 1/3 c. sugar

1/2 c. orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8 in. cake pan with oil and line it with oiled parchment.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, zest, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, 1 c. sugar, and orange juice til smooth.  Add the flour mix and whisk gently to combine.

2. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 c. sugar (it will be a thick layer).  Bake til the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center removes cleanly, 35-40 min.  Let the cake cool in the pan 20 min., then remove it and let it cool completely on a wire rack.  (I used an 8 in. square pan because I didn’t think the side of my round pans weren’t tall enough for the amount of batter.)

Orange Cornmeal Cake 4Orange Cornmeal Cake 5

So now that I’ve made all our mouths water, I’m going to go rustle up some dinner.  Have a great week!


One Response to “Back to Baking”

  1. […] also got to cook up the extra millet from my crackly banana bread.  It has a somewhat gritty texture, but a good chew.  I cooked it like rice then prepared it like […]

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