almond chai banana bread

Almond Chai Banana Bread

The plight of the spleenless: I have been sick for almost the past three weeks now! Believe me when I say how miserable it is. Every winter, I usually have one cold that spikes a fever, then I’ll feel like I’m on the mend when BAM, I’ll have laryngitis and a horrible cough for days at a time. Right now, I’m feeling as though I’m finally on the mend, but with apprehension. Haaaa.

I have NOT wanted to cook, bake, or even go into my kitchen to pour a glass of water in these past few weeks. I’ve been so listless, as these illnesses leave me feeling more drained than an iPhone after five minuets on Snapchat. I’ve been utilizing the help of handsome men and the wonder that is Seamless to feed me during my illness; my local Indian restaurant’s delivery guy and I are very well acquainted at this juncture.

Now that my energy levels are on the rise again, the urge to get into my kitchen has returned. Thank goodness, because I have so many ripe bananas begging to be turned into bread!

almond chai banana bread

I wanted to shake it up a little bit; I’ve made a slightly more health-conscious banana bread recipe on this blog before, but I wanted to play around with flavors this time. As wonderful as banana bread is, its flavor and texture can be a little boring. Luckily, many other flavors complement banana well. I’ve had my industrial-sized bottle of Dona Chai chillin’ in the back of my fridge for a few weeks now, and I’ve got more sliced almonds than I know what to do with! Though I originally wanted to add slivered almonds to the batter, mine were a little funky-smelling, so I opted to top my bread with sliced almonds.

almond chai banana bread

The result was a bread that turned out not overly sweet and a tad spicy. It’s a welcomed change!

Almond Chai Banana Bread
(Makes One Loaf)

Ingredients:

– 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
– 5 tablespoons butter, melted
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup chai concentrate (I used Dona Chai)
– 1 large egg, beaten
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 & 3/4 cups flour
– Pinch of black pepper (optional)
– 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Before We Get Started…

– This recipe will will an standard loaf pan (8 & 1/2″ x 4 & 1/2″ x 2 1/2″).

– If you prefer a sweeter banana bread, increase sugar to 1/2 cup. Many other chai concentrates have added sugar, so read your labels to keep the sweetness of your bread where you desire.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bread pan or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

2.) Take 1/2 banana and cut 10 – 12 slices. Set aside.

3.) In a large bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, flour, and pepper; whisk until incorporated.

4.) In a separate large bowl, mash remaining bananas with a fork until they are as smooth as possible. Add melted butter to bananas and mix to combine; add vanilla, chai concentrate, and egg and mix until combined.

5.) Slowly add dry mixture into the wet mixture 1/2 cup at a time; mix until batter is uniform.

6.) Pour batter into prepared bread pan. Top with banana slices and sliced almonds. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

7.) Move pan to cooling rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before removing and slicing; if not slicing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Eat within three days.

almond chai banana bread

 

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Slow Cooker Brown Bread Rolls

‘Tis the season for the slow cooker to make its annual trip from the lower cabinet near my sink to its rightful place upon my already cramped breakfast bar. (Typical Manhattan Apartment Life, yo.) I know most people will use their slow cooker year round, but I’m strictly an autumn and winter user. It’s just how I roll. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ve been searching the World Wide Interwebz for new and unique ways to use my slow cooker beyond just making soups or shredded meats. Creating slow-cooker desserts intrigues me, but I’m looking outside of the realm of that, for now. On a well-spent work lunch break, I stumbled upon a recipe for slow cooker bread. BINGO! This was the unique recipe that I had been craving! Via Kleinworth & Co., I decided to give their recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bread a roll. (Get it? Roll? Yeeeah, I love those bad puns. Bless you if you continue to read this post. Ha!)

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Now, the first time I made this recipe, I questioned it. I followed its directions and measurements to an absolute T, minus using instant coffee (or any coffee!) in my mix. I would like to think that that simple omission wouldn’t affect the integrity of my dough. That being said…by the time I got to the step in which I had to knead the dough, it was nothing short of batter in my bowl. Granted, I was doing this by hand and not with a dough hook; with the insanity of my post-bedbug extermination coming to a close, I still have my Kitchen Aid mixer tucked away in a place that’s not easily accessible. The original recipe called for 2 & 1/2 cups of flour, total. By the time I was finished adding in additional 1/2 cup increments, I was up to 4 cups of flour! By that point, I had achieved a kneadable texture. Also, the cooking time on the original recipe definitely varied from the time I took to bake it (90 minutes in the original vs. 2 hours for mine), however, that didn’t shock me since all slow cookers are not made equal.

slow cooker brown bread rolls

You know what? WHATEVER. I ended up making rolls that were so delectable, the trial and error was worth it. These rolls are wonderful! The molasses and chocolate infuse them with the most wonderful smoky sweetness! I brought them over to a friend’s house for his parents and brother, and they were all fans as well! I’m glad they enjoyed them. I wouldn’t want to be kicked out of their house. 😏 I think these rolls would be a hit on any dinner table in these cold months ahead, especially at Thanksgiving. *hint hint*

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Of note, these babies are WONDERFUL slathered with some homemade pumpkin butter, also cooked up in my slow cooker! (On a different occasion though, but of course.) I made some based on this recipe by Practical Stewardship, and I can absolute vouch for it. Mmmmm!

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Slow Cooker Brown Bread Rolls
(Recipe adapted from Kleinworth & Co’s recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bread)
(Makes approximate 10 – 12 rolls)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup warmed milk, dairy or non-dairy
– 1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (see Before We Get Started…)
– 1/2 agave nectar
– 1/4 cup honey
– 2 teaspoons molasses
– 1 tablespoon cocoa
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/8 cup old fashioned rolled oats (optional, to sprinkle on top of rolls)

Before We Get Started…

– As I mentioned in the prelude, the amount of dough I used to create this differed a fair amount from what I used based on the original recipe. After trial and error, I’d say to start with using the aforementioned 2 & 3/4 cups of flour. If the bread dough still seems too sticky to knead after Step #3, add more flour in 1/4 cup increments and mix until the dough yields a kneadable texture.

– Feel free to use 3/4 cup honey in place of the 1/2 cup agave nectar & 1/4 cup honey mix.

Directions:

1.) Line slow cooker with a large piece of parchment paper and carefully mold to the outline as best as possible. Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking oil or use one tablespoon of vegetable oil and spread with basting brush or clean paper towel.

2.) Heat milk in a mircowave or a small saucepan until just warmed to the touch; do not allow milk to bubble. In a large bowl, add warmed milk and sugar, then sprinkle yeast on top. Do not mix; wait five minutes for yeast to begin to bloom, then mix until combined.

3.) Add part of the flour (1 & 1/2 cups), salt, butter, and molasses to the yeast mixture. Stir until combined, then let dough rest for 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour, cocoa, agave nectar, and honey. Stir until combined; at this point, the dough should start to take on a doughier and kneadable consistency. (Please see Before We Get Started… if your batter is still a little bit sticky.)

4.) Sprinkle flour on a flat, clean surface. Turn dough onto surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is uniformly elastic. Sprinkle dough with additional flour when kneading, if necessary.

5.) Pull off pieces of dough and shape into rolls, rolls should fit in palm of your hand, about twice the size of a golf ball. Place rolls together in parchment paper-lined slow cooker; it is fine if rolls touch. If you have a smaller slow cooker (such as I do!), it is fine to layer the rolls if not all of them can fit on a singular level. Conversely, you can wrap additional dough tightly in plastic and store in the fridge to bake later. (Such as I DID.) Sprinkle dough with (optional) oatmeal.

6.) Cover rolls and turn on slow cooker to High. Cook for 90 minutes; if rolls are still tacky to the touch or do not not have hard exteriors, cook for up to an additional 30 minutes. These rolls should be finished by the two hour mark!

7.) When rolls are finished baking, turn off slow cooker and remove top. Allow rolls to sit for 10 minutes before removing. After 10 minutes, remove and place rolls on a wire rack to cool. Eat immediately after cooling or wrap firmly in plastic wrap to maintain freshness.

peach bread

Peach Bread

Well ain’t this peachy!

I’m actually surprised that, at least at my local farmers’ market (the Inwood Greenmarket in northern Manhattan), I haven’t been seeing that many peaches or nectarines! This past Saturday, only one vendor out of the six regular farm stands had peaches! I was tempted to even look at other vendors, alas, the pickle vendor and the sausage vendors were low on peaches as well. (Haaaa.) Also, the vast majority of the peaches for sale at the vendor were rock hard! Like, if I threw one at someone’s head, I’d likely be charged with attempted murder. Rock. HARD. Admittedly, it was rather amusing to watch myself and my fellow peach purchasers feeling inside giant wooden crates, poking and squeezing peaches until we found passable ones. Eventually, I found two. It was quite the task!

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It would be so easy to throw these into a pie or a galette. Peach cake? I’ve seen it. Peach cupcakes? I’ve eaten a few in my time. However, I was hard pressed to think of a time when I had ever seen or eaten peach bread. I just struck me as I was imagining what to do with my fruits. I love banana bread and zucchini bread. Why wouldn’t a peach bread work? Imagine a nice cakey yet moist bread with luscious pieces of fresh peach speckled throughout.

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The road to this perfect bread was not without a few bumps.

IMG_7665

I based parts of this recipe off of a general one I found via Google, and I can’t figure out which web page I got it from! (If you stumble across this, Wonderful Peach Bread Person, shoot me a note so I can give proper credit.) Still, I tweaked small parts of this recipe. The original recipe ended up being very doughy, so much so that I couldn’t fold in the peaches! Also, the recipe that I based it off of called for 60 minutes in a 325°F oven. Oh, man, that was a near-disaster! After an hour, the bread was pale and slightly raw at the bottom still! An extra 20 minutes in the oven at 350 solved the problem, albeit making the bread a tad on the drier side.

Anyone that develops recipes knows it’s rarely perfect on the first go-round.

IMG_7667

After more tweaking, I got that bread I was looking for. Now I expect the popularity of peach break to rocket, thanks to me. (Ha! A gal can dream…)

peach bread

Peach Bread
(Makes one loaf)

Ingredients:

– 2 & 1/2 all-purpose flour
– 2 cups fresh peaches, chopped small
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 unsweetened apple sauce
– 1 tablespoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon vanilla

Before We Get Started…

– This recipe will will an standard loaf pan (8 & 1/2″ x 4 & 1/2″ x 2 1/2″).

– I have not experimented with any other flours besides all-purpose for this recipe, so test at your own risk!

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bread pan or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients; whisk until incorporated.

3.) In a separate large bowl, whisk eggs. Slowly add sugar to eggs while continuing to whisk. Slowly stream in oil while containing to whisk. Add vanilla and star to combine.

4.) Fold wet mixture into dry mixture until combined. Fold in peaches into batter until incorporated.

5.) Pour batter into prepared bread pan. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

6.) Move pan to cooling rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before removing and slicing; if not slicing, wrap in plastic wrap.

Banana Oat Bread

I have a true love / hate relationship with bananas. As an extremely picky eater through my childhood, I did not eat bananas regularly until I was 23. The reasoning? The little dark seeds in the middle. I know. That’s beyond reason. I’m even embarrassed to admit it. (Tales of my absurdly picky childhood eating habits may be visited, occasionally, at future juncture…)

sliced-bananas

Those scary dark seeds! (Photo courtesy of To Live & Diet in L.A. This is a great visual of more former torture. Haaa.) 

I gained my love of bananas in an odd way: In June 2008, I had a minor surgery. No big deal, just the removal of a benign football-sized tumor in my spleen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ While I was holed up in a hospital bed for a few days, I was attached to a potassium drip…and it was one of the most painful experiences of my entire life. The solution is acidic. Imagining an incessant burning in your arm for four hours straight for four consecutive days. I was told I had low potassium levels, which was why I was being infused daily. I then decided that banana consumption was a much better option. I could not eat enough of them after my discharge! I was convinced they were my cure to all life’s ills. (Well, at least for that part of my life.)

A beautiful mess.

Growing up, however, I loved banana bread. Chunks of the fruit nor those black seeds were visible; out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. (Refer to the last sentence of my first paragraph. If my parents are reading this now, I’m sure they’re laughing hysterically.)  I found myself making it constantly, but as I’ve grown older and wiser about my eating habits, I look back on many of the recipes I had used and cringe a little. I find a typical recipe calls for a stick of butter, a cup of sugar, one to two cups of white flour, and sometimes added oils. Though I wouldn’t call my version the epitome of a healthy breakfast, I make it less of a guilty nosh with reduced sugar, plain Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and oats. I’ve tinkered with this recipe a lot over the few months…and dammit, I think I finally nailed it! WOOHOO!

Banana Oat Bread

Banana Oat Bread
(Serves 4 – 6)

Ingredients:

– 3 ripe bananas
– 2 eggs, room temperature
– 1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon chia seeds
– 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Before We Get Started…

– All-purpose flour can be used in place of white whole wheat flour, or a mix can be created with 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour.

– I prefer brown sugar to white sugar in my bread, but white sugar can easily be substituted. I prefer Domino’s Pourable Brown Sugar for ease of mixing.

– I prefer to use a 9″ x 9″ pan to make my bread. Though it may not turn into a loaf in the tradition sense with this method, it works just fine. I find the denseness and texture do not differentiate between either two pans.

Directions: 

1.) Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease baking pan and set aside.

2.) In plastic bowl, smash peeled bananas with a fork until desired consistency. Add yogurt, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until combined.

3.) In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chia seeds. Mix until combined.

4.) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and gently fold / mix until combined.

5.) Add batter to greased pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Upon completion, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15 – 20 minutes on top of cooling rack. If using bread pan, gently remove from pan and place on cooling rack. If using 9″ x 9″ pan, slice into squares after initial cooling time; bread can be left in pan, if desired.

Banana Oat Bread