Peach Bran Banana Bread


The cereal aisle used to be a magical place for me.

All that sugar.  My diet practically consisted of it.

But then I realized I was not an elf and I couldn’t stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

So I said farewell to my over-sugarized cereal.

And said hello to healthy-ish green-er living.

Don’t worry I got over it.

So I bought a box of All-Bran cereal because it looked really good and I am officially an old lady and I love poopin’.

Unfortunately I wasn’t jiving it as much as I thought I would (not pooping, the cereal) so now I’ve been throwing it into random baking creations.  Mind you, the cereal tastes fine I just thought the pieces were going to be bigger and it threw off the texture I had envisioned in my brain.


Feel free to use Raisin Bran or whatever Bran cereal you have on hand for this.  Or if you’re super cool and you have plain wheat bran, use that.  Just increase the sugar amount by a little bit because the cereals contain sugars.

Recipe: (baking time: 1 hour)

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup bran cereal*
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
2 bananas (mashed)
1 cup peaches (2, chopped- reserve 1/2 of 1 for topping)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

*you can use plain wheat bran if you happen to have that, you may want to increase the sugar amount though

Preheat oven: 350°

Add your cereal or bran to a mixing bowl.


Sift your flours, baking powder/soda, salt into the bowl.




Chop your peaches.  Save half of one for your topping.


Mash your bananas.  I use a whisk, I find the bread turns out better if you turn your bananas into a sludge rather than leaving chunks.


Add your peaches and cinnamon and mash those together slightly.


Whisk together your applesauce, vanilla, and brown sugar (save your white sugar for later).  Then add your egg.


Whisk until just mixed.


Add your flour mixture and then your banana mixture in chunks, ending with your banana.


Don’t mix completely between each addition, there’s no need.


End result.  This batter is a touch thicker than my other banana breads because of the bran.  If yours is too thick add a tbsp or two of milk or juice.


Pour into greased bread pan and even out.


Decorate with slices and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp of white sugar.  Sprinkling with the sugar on the top gives you that nice crust without having to add as much sugar throughout the whole batter.

If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning you’ll have noticed I started with adding 3/4 cup of sugar to my banana breads and now I’m down to 1/4 cup and they still taste sugary to me.  If you lower your consumption of it, your body stops craving it and it tastes stronger in smaller quantities.


Bake in a 350° for 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before pulling out of pan.





Adventures in Bread Making: Whole Wheat Pitas


I finally got around to making pitas!  I had dragged my feet with it because I get a pack at the store for a $1 or so and I thought they tasted pretty good.  And then I made these and realized, holy shit I’ve never had a fresh pita before–the veils that get lifted from your eyes a quarter of the way through your existence, don’t even get me started on how easy it is to actually make a risotto.

I can’t tell you how many pita recipes I came across that didn’t have sugar in them.  Actually I can, because I passed kindergarten.  It was three.  Three!  Three popular bread recipes not containing sugar, spouting how healthy it is and…whatever.  It’s fucking bread people.  It has yeast, yeast needs sugar.  Put sugar in your fucking bread recipes.  And also, it’s bread.  It’s carbs.  If you’re so concerned about that I don’t know, eat a salad and be sad.  Stop fucking with bread.

I’m sorry I’m just really passionate about bread.

That being said, I dick around with recipes.  Mostly because I have a complete inability to follow even the most simple recipe.  So now I’m telling you to follow mine.  Still with me?  Coolio.


1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup water (warmed to 110°)
2 tsp honey
2 1/4 tsp yeast

Proof your yeast. I always proof my yeast in a separate bowl before I add it to my flour regardless of what a recipe says. What if you screwed up the temperature and cooked your yeast, what if your yeast is old, what if you don’t know how to use a measuring spoon properly and pour half the bottle in? Then you’ve just wasted a decent amount of flour, and that’s sad and avoidable. Mix 1/4 cup of your warmed water with your honey and yeast. Gently. Yeast are sensitive creatures.


1 minute in.


A couple minutes in.


As soon as I start to see my yeast buddies munching and gurgling I start prepping all my other ingredients.  Flours, oil, salt.


And your water.  I warm all of my water to the yeast’s ideal temperature.  I figure it makes the yeast extra happy and they pay you back for it later.  I only do nice things if I get something in return, yeast are no exception.  I stir that around a couple times.


And this is what my happy yeast friends have turned themselves into.


Now add them to your dough.


And mix until it pulls away from the bowl.  Oh I forgot to say we’re making this without a mixer.  Fancy!  No, I just prefer making bread by hand.


Flour your surface.  I prefer my dough to be stickier when I start with it on the cutting board and to work more flour into it during the kneading process then to have it be good to go and worry about drying it out.  If that idea freaks you out or you read somewhere from some bread expert that that’s wrong then do 1 1/4 cup water total to the recipe.


Pour your dough out onto floured surface.


Knead for 5-10 minutes until it’s not a sticky mess.


Then cover it with your mixing bowl and walk away for 20 minutes.


Oooh, look how happy it is.


Knead for another 5-10 minutes, this is when you want to get that elasticity.  Check for some window pane action, it’s a little harder to achieve with whole wheat based breads but as long as the bread looks like it’s trying to make one that’s fine.  Also, it’s hard to take a picture of dough window pane with one hand, so no picture for you.


Rub down with some oil and put it in a bowl to rise, yes I put it back in my dirty mixing bowl.  I’m not a man, I don’t do dishes.  Dishes is men work.


Cover with saran wrap AND a towel and let rest for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  I used to think it was unnecessary to use saran wrap but it really seals in moisture.  Look who doesn’t practice proper stove safety.


1 hour.


Punch it down.  That seems pointless.


There we go.


Turn dough back out onto your work surface and separate into 8 equals portions.  My dough started out at 28.2 oz, so each pita dough ball weighed about 3.5 oz.  If that is in fact what those random numbers on my recipe sheet meant.  Roll them into balls as you would bagels, tucking the sides under and in, smoothing the tops with your palms until they’re taut.

Put onto a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth.  We’re talking damp, not dripping, not random wet spots here and there, damp.  You don’t want to risk your dough drying out.

Let rest for 20 minutes.

At this point you want to start preheating your 500° oven with your cooking pan in it.  I used my cast iron pan.


Lightly (LIGHTLY) dust your work surface with whole wheat flour and gently press your dough balls out into pita size.  1/4-1/8 thick, I didn’t bother to measure, that’s just what everyone says.

I did not roll my pitas out with a rolling pin.  I know you’re not supposed to that with pizza dough, so I figured the same reasoning applied.  It’s too violent of a process for the dough at this stage.  Remember, yeast are fickle creatures so anything that arises from their bodily functions will be much the same.

Lightly (LIGHTLY) sprinkle with whole wheat flour on top to give them that homemade rusticyness vibe thing.

Make all your pitas and let rest for 10 minutes, covered with your damp cloth.


Place one pita dough at a time on your cast iron or whatever oven safe thing you have and bake for 3 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and repeat.

Okay these three pitas have information for you.

Top Left Pita: “Jenn read somewhere that you should lightly spritz your cast iron with water and close the oven door to create steam in your oven.  She did this, but failed to let the oven get back to 500°.  I was  baked at 450° and so my pocket didn’t get big, this made me sad and wish Jenn wasn’t so impatient.”

Top Right Pita: “I was one of the last pita doughs Jenn flattened but then the second one she baked, so I didn’t get to rest as long as the others, so my pocket wasn’t well formed.  This made me sad and wish Jenn would pay more attention.”

Bottom Pita:  “Jenn got her shit together with me.  I was rested for 10 minutes after my formation and baked in a 500° for 3 minutes.  My pocket was well formed and this made me happy.”


6 happy pitas and 2 not so happy ones.  Don’t worry they found their home as a dip implement.


Apple Cinnamon Scones


This post was inspired by the fact I recently got a 25lb bag of all purpose on wicked sale and have been trying to come up with ways to use it up before it goes gnarly on me.  I then came across this King Arthur Apple Cinnamon Scone recipe and thought it looked it good.  But like most recipes once I got around to making it I really didn’t feel like following it for one reason or another.  So these are a much lighter version of the Apple Cinnamon Scones I found.  I thought they were delicious, because in my world view I think a scone should be a lightly sweetened, tender, crumbly bread concoction   I realize others do not share this world view and I’m cool with that.


1 granny smith apple (cut into small chunks)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
4 tbsp butter (cold, cut into small chunks)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven 425°

Whisk together your flours, baking powder/soda, salt, and spices.


Cut your apple and butter in small chunks and add to your flour mixture.  You can leave the skin on on your apple.  I try and leave the skin on all my fruits and vegetables because most of the time that’s where most of the nutrients are located.


Toss around until everything is evenly coated.  If your butter chunks are a little too big you can gently break them apart with your fingers.  Just don’t let the butter get too melty.


In a separate bowl whisk together your egg, applesauce, sugars, vanilla, and milk.


Pour your wet mixture into your dry and mix.


Dough should be stiff and not sticky.


Pour out dough onto very lightly flour parchment papered baking sheet.


Cut dough in half and shape each half into 6 inchish disk shapes.


I screwed up thrice here so listen up.


I told you to listen.

Actually shape your dough into a nice disk, making sure there are no crevices or holes unlike my picture above.  It won’t ruin your dough if you don’t, your end result just won’t look as pretty.

Before you cut your shapes sprinkle your cinnamon sugar topping onto your disks.  It’s not a make or break moment it just makes your baking surface a little cleaner and your end result once again, a little prettier.

My scones were a little on the small size for my liking so if, WHEN I make these again (because they were so delicious–I sound like I’m being sarcastic  they really were good) I’m going to cut them in 6’s and not 8’s.  I might even get crazy and go for 4’s, who knows.


Brush with a little milk to encourage your cinnamon sugar mixture to stick.  Once again, do this before cutting.  And if you have that coarse white sugar then hooray for you, use that.


Bake in 425° for 18-20 or until golden brown.  Scones should look done on all sides.


Adventures in Bread Making: Whole Wheat Pizza Dough


This pizza dough is adapted from Alton Brown’s.  My first couple tries with it came out so well I couldn’t help but put some whole wheat flour into it.  I put whole wheat flour in pretty much all my baking goodies.  It just gives it such a pleasant rustic taste.  This dough was used to make an Apple Goat Cheese Pizza and Avocado Pizza!


1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 +1/4 cups water (110°)

Heat your water to 110° (save the +1/4 cup for later, you may or may not need it).


Add your sugar and yeast to your water.  I gently stir with my finger, some people just leave it be.


If all the stars are aligned your yeast should start burping within a few seconds.


While your yeast is doing its thing add the rest of your ingredients to your mixer.


Add your flours, salt, and olive oil to your mixer.


Your yeast should now be happy and ready to go.


Pour it in your mixer with the rest of your ingredients.


And start mixing on low.


When the dough starts separating from the edges, increase your mixer’s speed to what it will allow.  I usually only go up to 3 when mixing dough.  Knead for anywhere from 10-20 minutes.


Until you get some sexy windowpane action.  Justin hands!


Pull your dough out of your mixer and just stare at it for a while.


On a lightly floured surface, form your dough into a tight ball.  Do this by tucking the edges underneath, smoothing the top with your palm.


Oil it and your mixing bowl and return the dough to your mixing bowl.  I don’t bother cleaning my mixing bowl because, why.


Let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.


Turn out onto lightly floured surface and cut in half.


Gently punch down your dough all over, distributing  any CO2 pockets.


Fold your flatten dough into a tight ball, similar to how you did before.  Cover with saran wrap or a damp tea towel and let rest for 10-30 minutes.  If you’re not going to use immediately, coat with oil and place in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


Chocolate Espresso Banana Bread


You would think that because this is a chocolate bread it would be crazy sugary and over power the banana flavor.  Don’t worry I happen to be somewhat competent in the kitchen and thought about that before hand.  By using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate I find you’re better able to control the sweetness levels.  You’re also able to get a much richer chocolate flavor without having to add so much thus saving on product and calories/sugar levels.  Adding instant espresso (or coffee) sends the chocolaty-ness into overdrive.


1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant espresso granules (or instant coffee)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
2 bananas (mashed)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 350°

Sift your flours, salt, baking powder/soda.  Not necessary but I think it’s a good habit to get into.  I sift my dry ingredients directly into my mixing bowl as you’ll see later but some people like to sift it into a separate bowl.


Mash your bananas.  I never measure my banana amount, I always go with two and let the variations happen as they will.  Granted I do try and buy bananas at roughly the same size each time I buy them.


Add your instant espresso or instant coffee granules.


And cocoa powder.


And mix.  This is the type of instant espresso I bought.  It was the cheapest available.  I don’t think it has to be high quality, in fact I don’t think there is such a thing as high quality instant coffee/espresso.  If you like a stronger bitter flavor go for the espresso, it will help your cocoa powder taste more like dark chocolate.


Add your sugars in a large mixing bowl with your applesauce.  The applesauce is taking the place of any oil/butter and allows you to cut back on the sugar.


Whisk your egg in until just blended.  You can do two egg whites here instead if you’d like.


Now add your flour mixture and banana mixture in chunks starting with your dry and ending with your wet.  Don’t thoroughly mix in between each addition or you risk over mixing your batter.   The amount of additions is up to you.  I usually do about 3 for each mixture.


Ending with your wet mixture helps ensure a moister bread.

Pour into a lightly greased bread pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until insert comes out clean at 350°.  Allow to cool before removing from pan.


This turned out to be one of our favorite banana breads and only lasted 2 days.  You can check out the others in the Breakfast section or Snacks section because I’m bad and don’t eat breakfast.


Adventures in Bread Making: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Bread


When Justin and I first moved to New York City we had no money, I mean no money.  What with the move and owing first and last month’s rent on top of a security deposit, we were hurting.  So much so for the first year we didn’t eat that well.  I ate nothing but boxes of cereal and he, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We both lost about 10 lbs that we still haven’t managed to find, ah city living.  The first and only job I found was at a temp agency (that Psych/Pre Med degree really showing its worth) and everyday I brought a Tupperware container filled with cereal to eat for lunch.  Those that noticed always thought it was so endearing that I loved cereal that much that it was all I ever wanted to eat.  Sometimes it was hard not to break down and cry right there.  But that’s a story for another day.  We’re in better times.  Back to why I’m doing this post.  Justin ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every time he went to work and you would think the boy would get sick of them, but to this day he still loves himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Every time we’re at the store in the bread aisle I look at those sad looking loaves and think, “I could make something cheaper and more delicious.”  But I never do.  So this post is my promise to myself and my adventure in sandwich bread making.

I am a novice bread maker.  Originally I was going to wait until I had gained a little bit more experience in this area before I made a post about it, but then  I realized that’s not what this blog is about.  It’s a personal reflection on my journey in the kitchen.  So, I figured it would help me if I did in fact post my breads, starting with my initial creations, be they successes or failures.  However, I made this decision after I had made my first one.  It was delicious by the way.  Today is my second loaf, which is the recipe you’ll see below.

I managed to take cell phone pictures of my first loaf, which is similar to the second loaf.


Why did I score a sandwich loaf?  Because I had a razor and I felt cool doing it.  Yes, I realize it was completely unnecessary.


I suck at following a recipe, like really suck.  I can never really get myself to do it.  I had every intention of following a recipe for my first sandwich loaf since I had never actually made one and had only ever made a couple of other breads before that.  Oh, well.

This is the recipe used for the above loaf:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 all purpose flour
1/2 cups old fashion oats
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp milk powder
1 1/2 cups H2O

350° 40 minutes

And here is the recipe for my most recent loaf

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp applesauce
1 1/2 cup H20

350° 55 minutes

And people with a stick up their butt about always having to scale your ingredients or your recipe is going to suck, baking is a science, blah blah blah.  It’s also…whatever.  There are a million ways to make a single recipe so even if you’re off in your ingredients by a few ounces here and there the odds are in your favor that things are going to work out.  You just need to be open to the interpretation of your final product.  And be positive, recipes can sense negativity.

Proof your yeast.  I heat up all my water and then pour 1/4 cup into a dish that has my yeast and sugar.  Make sure you take the temperature of your water before you try and proof your yeast with it.  A couple times you’ll get lucky without doing this and then the next 5 you won’t and it can be terribly frustrating.  And then you feel like a dumb ass because you remember that yes you do have a thermometer in the drawer and even though it’s a candy thermometer it can also take the temperature of, wait for it…water!


This is how I proof my yeast and it works well for me.  Add yeast and sugar to a bowl.


Add your water and stir gently.  Nothing has happened yet, these are just chunks of yeast.


2 min: the yeast has begun munching on the sugar and releasing CO2.  You should start smelling that “bread” smell.


3 min: yeast has made a creamy mixture and is activated.  If I don’t see anymore activity after this point I add it now.


Add your flour to your mixer.  You can absolutely make bread by hand.  The first couple loaves I started with I did without a mixer because I wanted to see how the dough changed in my hands.  I’m making this in the Kitchen Aid because my ultimate goal is to whip one of these up every week so I want to be able to do it fast.


AND I feel guilty that I don’t use this ridiculously large mixer my daddy bought me nearly enough.  He dreams of me having my own restaurant one day, he’ll just have to live with a silly food blog.


Add your oats.  A lot of recipes cook the oats before hand and then add the flour and everything else.  I thought “Why?” and then didn’t do it.  I figure it’s the logic of oats being coarse and interfering with gluten formation but then I was like, “it’s a whole wheat bread, we’ve already got that problem why not just add to it?”  So, I did and if you saw the first picture, the bread forgave me for it.


Why did I add applesauce?  Because I felt like it.


I added the honey not so much to make a honey oatmeal bread but to enhance the wheat flavor.  It seemed to work out alright.


I read somewhere at some point you should add 1 tsp of salt per 20 oz of flour.  Well since this is a new recipe I erred on the side of caution and only put 1 tsp per my 28 oz of “flour.”  I’ll probably do 1 1/4 next time.


Add your yeast and water.  Mix on lowest speed until everything is incorporated.


Once it starts removing itself from the edges increase the speed to 2-3 (listen to your machine, it will tell you if you’ve got it too high) and knead for 5-10 minutes.


I like to finish my dough by hand.  This is what mine looked like after about 6 minutes in the mixer.


I kneaded for another 5 or so minutes after it coming out of the mixer.  After reading so many articles on the internet about the ever dreaded ‘over-kneaded’ dough I got the impression that if you just looked at dough wrong the poor thing would over-knead itself.  If anything I under-knead dough because of this fear that’s being perpetuated and I believe the case is probably true with a lot of home bakers.


I do the window-pane test.  I don’t really understand the poke test, what if I poke it and it just barely springs back is it still ready? The window pane seems more obvious to me and look!  No large oat chunks ripping my pane!  I told you the bread would forgive you.  Bread is like that.


I oil my dough instead of oiling my bowl.  I don’t know, it seems to make more sense then oiling the bowl and then lightly oiling the top of your dough.


Put in your initial mixing bowl, or a new one if the idea of washing another dish makes you tingly inside.  Cover with a towel and rest for 1 hour.  This is 15 minutes in because I forgot to take a picture and I was like, “Oh shoot, I forgot to take a picture.”


1 hour.


Gently flatten the dough out into about an 8×10 rectangle.  I use my knuckles.


Roll the rectangle, like you would wrapping paper making sure it’s taut.


Pinch the seam together.  There are multiple ways to prepare your sandwich loaf for the pan.  I’m still experimenting, finding the way I prefer.  I’m going to go ahead and bet right now that it doesn’t make much of a difference.  But it makes people feel better to say their way is superior.


Lightly oil your loaf and place seam side down in your pan.  Let rise for another hour or until it’s risen about an inch above the rim.


Near end of rising time turn oven on to 350°.  Make a wash out of honey and water.  Brush loaf with mixture and sprinkle with oats, lightly tap oats with brush.


Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.  I don’t have a skewer thermometer so I couldn’t check the internal temperature but the GBD and hollow tests have worked so far.


If you didn’t get anything out of this post then good for you, you know more about bread than I do.  But if you did, I hope it’s that bread making is a lot easier than you think.  This was my second sandwich loaf and I think my fifth loaf of all time ever.  Bread is easy, bread is your friend.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding


I love pumpkin, I mean love pumpkin.  I always have to have a can of pumpkin puree in my pantry in case of emergencies, and there are pumpkin emergencies, believe me.  You pumpkin purists will scoff at me for my use of canned pumpkin, but you try having a 1am craving for some pumpkin cookies and then we’ll see.  I also love bread pudding, but you know what I don’t love?  1/2 stick of butter, 1/4 of cream, and 1 cup of sugar for breakfast!  I’m sorry, but I’m usually not in the mood to consume my recommended daily calories before I finish my morning cup of coffee.  And when I want to eat bread pudding I want to eat a lot of it.  So I compromised with the bread pudding and made a “lighter” version.


4-5 cups stale bread

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp cloves

1 tsp cinnamon


2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp heavy cream

1 tbsp brandy

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

Bake time: 30-45 minutes

Preheat oven 350°

Chop your bread into “cubes” or try at least.  Some people tear it, my bread is always way too stale to rip it.   You want about 4-5 cups worth.


Whisk your eggs, sugar, and pumpkin until just blended.

Followed by your spices, buttermilk and milk.


Mix in bread and let it soak.


While your bread is soaking, make your sauce.  Heat it to just a simmer.


Put 1/2 of bread mixture in an non greased bread dish (mine was 9x5x3) and top with 1/3 of sauce.


Add remaining bread mixture and top with another 1/3 of sauce, put in oven uncovered.  Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, top with remaining brandy sauce and serve!