Archive for the 'Muffins + Breads' Category

Carob Chip Graham Cracker Bread

The Sister scolded me the other day for not sending her any baked goodies in over a year.  How thoughtless of me!  What kind of sister am I?!  I’m surprised I haven’t been disowned yet.  How lucky I am to have such a forgiving, patient sibling to put up with my lack of baking generosity.

Yes, she is that dramatic.  But only sometimes.  Love you Amanda!

So I asked her what she wanted!  One of her suggestions was a s’mores-inspired treat.  LOVED that idea!  And I knew just what I wanted to make – a sweet, quick bread made from graham cracker crumbs and laced with carob chips and naturally sweetened marshmallows.  It would be perfect.  Except I couldn’t find naturally sweetened marshmallows anywhere!  (Side note: If anyone knows where this can be done, let me know!) Bummer, for sure, but the show must go on.  I forged ahead with my marshmallow-less bread and out of the oven came Carob Chip Graham Cracker Bread.

The recipe is below.  It’s fun and easy and low-fat to boot!

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup applesauce

1 cup whole wheat graham cracker crumbs

1 flax egg

1/3 cup honey

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup vegan carob chips

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together white whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix applesauce and graham cracker crumbs (I ground 14 of these crackers in my food processor to get 1 cup) until well combined.  Add flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seed whisked with 3 tablespoons water) and mix until well combined.  Add honey and mix until well combined.  Alternatively mix in flour mixture and almond milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Stir in carob chips.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing.

This was my first time baking with a flax egg substitute – why I have no idea! – and it worked wonderfully.  I will definitely be using it more in the future!  As for the bread itself, how ’bout we turn to The Sister for her thoughts?

When I first received the package that contained the bread, I didn’t have any silverware nearby but couldn’t resist trying a piece. I used my hands to tear off a chunk. It took every ounce of restraint in me not to eat half of the loaf then and there with the plastic wrap still on it. It was so moist, so flavorful and so tasty!

So I guess it’s a keeper!

Do you have any favorite graham cracker treats?

Macaroon Muffins

Coconut flour is trickier to work with than I anticipated my friends…

Despite the time lapse between posts, I can assure you that I have not been totally out of the kitchen over the past weeks.  No, I haven’t been in there as much as usual – who can blame me with work piled up to my head and these cute little distractions running around? – but baking attempts have indeed been made!

I tried a couple times to make another all coconut flour treat – as I enthusiastically stated I would.  After such delicious success with my Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, I thought it would be easy peasy.  Hmmm…not so much.  First up was my own attempt at a banana-cocoa-coconut muffin, using banana as an egg replacer.  FAIL.  Too crumbly!  No rise!  Next I tried to play it safe and follow an already tested recipe.  FAIL numero dos.  Too eggy!  Not enough flavor!

Sigh…

Instead of continuing my seemingly futile experiments and denying you all a new recipe even longer, I decided to temporarily put my all-coconut-flour-treat dream on hold and bake up something sure to work – still using coconut flour of course!

So today we have Macaroon Muffins!  What else would you call a goodie made from coconut flour, coconut milk AND shredded coconut?  Yum.

Here’s the recipe:

1 egg

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together egg, coconut milk, applesauce, vanilla extract and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and shredded coconut. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Spoon into prepared pans (top with extra shredded coconut if you want to have some fun!) and bake for 16-18 minutes. Makes 8 muffins.

These muffins are scrumptious!  Thank goodness, right?! They are packed with coconut flavor thanks to copious use of coconut-y ingredients and pretty light too from using “light” coconut milk and applesauce instead of oil.  And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: maple syrup makes the BEST sweetener.  If you like coconut, I’m pretty sure you’d be a fan of these.

What’s your favorite coconut recipe?

Gingerbread

Merry Christmas and happy holidays…

Santa Claus is coming to town…

Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Etc, etc, etc…

I HEART THE HOLIDAYS!

This really truly is my favorite time of year.  Something about the cheesy joyful Christmas music and festive decorations and anticipation in the air makes me warm and fuzzy and happy inside.  I am proudly a total sucker for it and feel all cozy everyday and everywhere I go.  Even the chilly weather is tolerable!  Ehh…sort of.  I don’t do well with cold.  Unless it’s snowing!  Sigh.  Contentment.

That said, the older I get, the more the season sneaks up on me.  It seems that Thanksgiving dinner dishes are barely washed when I blink and it’s Christmas.  All before I can even get a chance wear my favorite holiday sweater!

Well, this year, I said no more!  I made a vow to go immediately into holiday mode the second Thanksgiving weekend was over.  So my mini-Christmas tree quickly found its way out of the box under my bed and onto the dining table.  Little Santa and Mrs. Claus figurines stand by its side.  A scented candle is lit every night – smelling of cinnamon snap then spiced pear then Christmas cookie as the wick burns down.  Holiday tunes are loaded onto my iPod and played on the daily.  Both work and personal computer background images are now illustrations of Christmas trees.  My Google homepage displays the Winter Village theme – super cute btw! – right above a red and white Christmas countdown.  I even manually changed my Gmail colors to be red and green!

With all of these steps taken to be Miss Holiday Spirit 2009, all that was left to do was bake up a season-inspired treat.  So I decided to try my hand at Gingerbread!  I’ve always been curious about Gingerbread – because it is quite possibly the epitome of holiday baked goods – but have never actually eaten it.  I know, weird, right?  I guess I was always too busy filling up on peanut butter kiss cookies and Grandma’s pumpkin cake roll to bother looking its way.  It was about time.

Here’s my recipe for Gingerbread, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup Sucanat

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix Sucanat, vegetable oil, egg and molasses until well combined.  In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just blended.  Stir in hot water.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Now I know I don’t have anything to compare this to, but I thought the Gingerbread tasted delicious!  The spice combination worked wonderfully together and completely captured the flavor of the holidays.  And the brown rice flour gave the bread a bit of texture – sort of like cornbread!  I was a fan.

Is there a holiday treat you’ve always wanted to try, but never have?

Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins

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Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

I’m back!  You’ll have to forgive me for the past couple months.  They were arguably the busiest of my entire life.  But I am baking once again!  Before we get into the details of my latest delicious creation, here’s a brief recap of recent events to give some context for my absence and perhaps entice understanding from my wonderfully patient readers:

  • Moved into my new apartment
  • Unpacked – umm…amidst the busyness, this took several weeks
  • Waited for cable / internet to be installed…twice – thanks for not showing up the first time Time Warner!
  • Travled to Rhode Island for a weekend to attend a wedding
  • Planned and conducted a major brainstorming workshop for clients at work
  • Cheered for the Cardinals at a Mets game – they’re in the playoffs now!
  • Celebrated a good friend’s birthday
  • Drove to CT and back for work meetings – times two
  • Vacationed in Europe with Dan for 10 days – an absolute DREAM!  If this were a travel blog, I could do a billion posts about that trip!
  • Worked 75+ hour weeks for a month straight, including through Labor Day weekend…
  • …while I was in Chicago visiting my sister – and having lunch with Jenn!
  • Traveled across the country for a week to watch market research focus groups
  • Played host to my parents while they were in NYC for a weekend
  • Researched and bought a new bike – wheeee!
  • Brunched with old friends from high school
  • Went to several doctor appointments
  • Plus a whole bunch of other very important stuff that I need to keep secret for now…shhh…

Whew!  A lot of work (sad…) but a lot of fun (happy!) in there too.  With all of the above going on, I haven’t had much time – or kitchen access! – to make my own meals, let alone do any awesome baking.  However, the dust seems to be settling – knock on wood – so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

To kick it off, let’s play a little game of Train of Thought, shall we?  I’ll show you how I decided to make what I’m sharing with you right now!

Today = October.  October = fall.  Fall =  pumpkin.  Pumpkin = great oatmeal mix-in.  Great oatmeal = pumpkin + mashed banana + flax + …  Ooh – I got it!

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These Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins both welcome the new season and celebrate my re-found ability to make breakfast in the morning.  Pumpkin, banana, flax and maple syrup are the ingredients that make up my favorite bowl of oatmeal – and they’re now brought to you in muffin form!  Top these off with some peanut butter and you’re good to go.  Yum!

Here’s my recipe for Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins, adapted from this recipe:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup flax seed meal

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup oats

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, mashed bananas, vanilla, eggs, flax seed meal and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended.  Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes.  Makes 18 muffins.

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I was quite pleased with these muffins!  Seems like the ole baking skills haven’t gotten too rusty from lack of use.  Dan liked them too – though his enthusiasm might have been more reflective of the fact that I was baking anything at all!  Moist, chewy and filled with healthy ingredients – they’re a perfect way to start the day.

Do you eat oatmeal?  What would your fall + oatmeal muffins look like?

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Banana Coconut Bars

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Well, bloggie friends, I’m moved into my new place!  And couldn’t be happier.  I can’t wait to explore the hood!  I’ve already spotted a health food store, mentally noted at least a dozen restaurants to try and bought a loaf of fresh bread from a nearby bakery.  Life is sweet.  Now if only the rest of my boxes would unpack themselves…

Oh, and did I mention that my fridge now has a freezer?!  Take that old apartment!  I’m sure it will soon be filled with yummy baked goodies.  And on that note, can someone tell me how to freeze things?  I’ve had nary an opportunity to do such a thing so am clueless re: avoiding freezer burn.  Help!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today was actually not made in my new apartment, but in my old apartment…um…two weeks ago.  I know, bad blogger.  Life got hectic!  But the photos I took ages ago have been staring at me from my desktop for too long.  I could wait no more to bring you Banana Coconut Bars.

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B-t-dubs, if you think my pictures are prettier than usual, it’s because THEY ARE!  That’s courtesy of my awesome new camera, which is courtesy of my more awesome, #1, best-in-the-world boyfriend who proudly encourages my pursuit of the arts.  Yes, I am now the grateful owner of an SLR.  And my new apartment has natural light.  Things are looking up!

Back to the food…

These bars were born of a combined need to use up a bunch of uber ripe bananas and my recent interest in coconut.  Riddle me this:  I was never a fan of coconut.  I then made Super-Charge Me! cookies, which contain said ingredient.  Ever since, I’m drawn to all things coconut!  What?! I really do think those cookies are crack.

Here’s my recipe for Banana Coconut Bars:

3 ripe bananas, mashed

2 tablespoons molasses

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 cups white whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8×8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together mashed bananas, molasses, applesauce, agave and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into banana mixture until just blended. Stir in coconut.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes.

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Coconut flakes!  Banana chunks!

These were go-od.  So good, in fact, that Dan ate nearly half the pan in one evening.  So good that I’m sort of regretting giving him so many…  They were super moist and banana-ey.  Like delicious banana bread in little square form.  And low in fat to boot!

What’s your favorite banana recipe?

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Lemon Honey Corn Muffins

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Summer, summer, summer.  It’s finally here!  I don’t know about your town, but summer in New York took its sweet time to arrive.  It was unusually chilly for far too long and I heard somewhere that it’s rained 75% of the days in June.  Acting out on a little Seattle envy, my dear NY?   

Good news is that it seems warmer days are now upon us.  Hooray!  In an attempt to celebrate the recent summertime glow enveloping the city, I decided to bake a sunny treat.  And to me, sunny means lemon! 

Now I’ll be up front with you here.  I’m not the biggest lemon fan.  Yeah, a nice lemon bar is alright every once in a while, but I’m not really a refreshing treat kind of girl.  I much prefer rich, deep flavors to light, airy ones in my sweets.  So I didn’t go the super sweet route with this recipe.  Instead, I concocted something slightly sweet – a lemon-infused cornbread type of thing.

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Here’s my recipe for Lemon Honey Corn Muffins:

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 (6 ounce) container plain nonfat yogurt

1 egg

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup stone ground cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together honey, applesauce, yogurt, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix brown rice flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

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These were an interesting twist on traditional cornbread!  I’ve clearly taken a liking to creating recipes like that – as can be seen here and here.  The lemon makes the muffins taste quite fresh and the honey adds just the right amount of sweetness.  Perfect for summer!

What’s your favorite lemon baked goodie?

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Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

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Friends, I am EXCITED.
There was a new development in the Sweet + Natural kitchen last weekend that makes me so happy!  I’m pleased, I’m proud, I’m itching to get back in there and do it again.
What on earth could bring such delight to my baking life?
I made my first loaf of homemade bread!
Wheeeee! Yep, we’re talking yeast, we’re talking kneading, we’re talking rising.  And whole grains of course.  I got in there with my electric hand mixer’s special hook and went at the dough until it was shiny and smooth.  I waited patiently for hours until it doubled in size.  I shaped the loaf.  And I relished in the wheaty goodness that emerged from my oven.  I am now legit, no?
This was such a fun accomplishment for me.  Bread from scratch has been on my list-of-things-to-bake forever, but I’ve always made excuses to avoid making anything with yeast.  It takes so long!  What if something messed it up?  Would my hours of effort be fruitless? I guess I just never had the patience – or extra time! – to devote a chunk of my day to an attempt.  Well, I found myself with that extra time one afternoon and figured it was as good a chance as any to give it a go.
With this recipe and my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (courtesy of Dan’s sister – thanks Kate!) by my side, I was ready to go.
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Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread:
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons molasses
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until moistened and combined. Cover dough, let rest for 20 minutes then knead until fairly smooth (I did this in the bowl with the dough hook of my electric hand mixer for about 15 minutes). Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.  Gently deflate the dough, shape into a log and place in an 8  x 4-inch bread pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan.  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45 minutes, tenting loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking.
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It looks like real bread!  And tastes like it too!
Let me tell you, I was thrilled to look in the oven halfway through baking and see a monstrously tall crust growing from the pan.  It’s working! And I was even more thrilled when I cut into the loaf to reveal it’s crumby insides.  It’s dense, but soft.  Subtly sweet.  And has a slight crunch when you get a walnut bite.  It may not the prettiest looking thing – I like to think of it as “rustic” – but it’s mine all mine.
Have you ever baked bread from scratch?  How’d it go for you?

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Contact

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