Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mummy's Banana Bread

Good lord- has the early spring been crazy busy for everyone else, or is it just me??? They say that life with a baby can move at warp speed, but I really didn't think time could go by quite as quickly as it has been in the last few months- wow! 

Just a quick update on our boy- Will is on the cusp of the nine month mark, and he continues to grow and amaze us every day. Having mastered crawling, he is on the move all the time these days, and I wouldn't be surprised if walking isn't too far away, since he lives to pull himself up on various items and use them to work on his stepping skills. 

This baby update isn't just a shameless bragfest about my little fella, since as Will continues to grow and change, he has become a more adventurous eater (not surprising, given his genetic disposition!). As a result, I find myself with a renewed sense of motivation in the kitchen, and a I've started testing out various recipes with him to see what he's into. This new rebirth of my culinary endeavors has also been compounded by the fact that we purchased a share in a  CSA (that's Community Supported Agriculture) through Covey Rise Farms started up last week, so I have been working to find new ways to bring out the wonderful produce we're getting from the program. We found out about the farm from their partner, Covey Rise Lodge, a fantastic hunter's paradise that my father-in-law discovered on a visit, and a place we keep going back to for a fun afternoon of clay shooting. So, be on the lookout in the future for posts highlighting our amazing CSA produce (as well as the stuff we're growing here in our backyard- check out The Humble Home), I'm really excited to see what the season brings! 

One thing I've found that Will adores so far is my mother's banana bread recipe. I have long loved this wonderfully tasty bread, and you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out that Will was just as enthusiastic about it. It's a great way to use up bananas that have gone a little past peak, and the addition of Grapenuts gives the bread a wonderful texture and body with a subtle brightness from the lemon zest. The original recipe called for just white flour, but I've been subbing in 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour for a little added boost. I usually take the sugar down to about 1/2 a cup as opposed to the 2/3 cup the recipe calls for, but you can adjust to your taste. 

For Will, I make these as mini muffins (omitting the nuts for his share, but adding it in for the 1/2 half), and it makes a perfect pan of 24 minis. They're a great size for him, and it's easy to throw a couple in a snack bag to take with us on adventures down to the park. Baked off as a loaf, the bread makes for a great hostess gift or contribution to a potluck. The bread also freezes well in either form, and is a sinch to throw together- this morning's batch I just whipped up while the boy was taking his morning snooze. 

Big thanks again to my wonderful Mummy for this family favorite that has already made a friend in the newest generation of foodies!

Mummy's Banana Bread

- 1/3 Cup butter, softened
- 1/2-2/3 Cup sugar
- 3/4 Tspn lemon zest
-  1 Egg, beaten
- 1 3/4 Cups flour (I use 1 c. white a 3/4 cup whole wheat)
- 2 Tspn baking powder
- 1/4 Tspn baking soda
- 1/2 Tspn salt
- 1 Cup mashed banana
- 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/2 Cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 Cup Grapenuts
* about 1/2 Cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugar, add in lemon zest and egg. Sift dry ingredients together and stir into wet. Add in bananas and mix well. Add in nuts, cranberries and Grapenuts and mix well. Thin dough slightly with milk, until consistency is smooth, but still thick. Spoon into mini muffin or bread pan. Bake muffins for 30 mins, and bread for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Grapefruit Cake

Happy 2012! We are finally back in our little abode after a whirl-wind tour back up North with family and loved ones, and are settling back in to our mellow day-to-day life. 

As with many fellow bloggers, I vow to get more posts up this year, as last year had such an extreme (yet understandable) drop off in my postings with the birth of our darling son. Now that we are settled and moved in down here in sunny Louisiana, and our traveling should calm down for a while, I am going to hit the ground running! 

When we returned from our holiday travels last week, we found a bag of beautiful, fresh grapefruit waiting for us on our doorstep. Our very charming elderly neighbor had left them from us, as he has a huge grapefruit tree out in his front yard. We've been enjoying the delicious fruits just as is, in smoothies and as fresh juice, but there were are still a few left that I wanted to find a way to use up. In keeping with my recent foray into Southern-inspired cooking, I remembered catching a broadcast of Paula Deen making a grapefruit cake, so I hopped online and found the recipe. While the cake recipe itself looked fantastic, I wasn't overly excited about the cream cheese frosting- which is a 180 from my usual behavior! Few are the times that I have turned down am opportunity to make (and eat!) cream cheese frosting, but for some reason the pairing didn't seem quite right on this one. The cake appeared to be light, fluffy and delicate in taste and texture, and I thought that the cream cheese frosting (and food coloring???) would weigh it down, so instead I went with a simple grapefruit glaze. I also doubled the amount of  grapefruit juice and zest called for in the recipe, since I had an abundance of both, and  the batter seemed a bit dry before I folded in the egg whites, so I just went for it. 

The cake is wildly easy to put together (even for a novice/nervous baker such as myself), bakes up in about 25 minutes, and has a delightfully fluffy texture, much like an angel food cake. I thought the glaze was a perfect compliment to the clean flavor, and I'm thinking next time I might do supremes of ruby red grapefruit simmered in simple syrup to dress up the top a bit. Do follow Paula's advice, though and be sure to line your cake pan, as I thought I could get away with not doing it, and removing it was a bit dicey!

 It's the perfect cake for tea, as a light desert, with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, or really anytime- I'm enjoying a slice now while watching the BCS Championship and snuggling with the babe! 
Gratuitous photo of my sous chef- doing a bang up job of being awesome.

Paula Deen's Grapefruit Cake (from pauladeen.com)
For the cake:
-1 1/2 Cup cake flour, sifted
-3/4 Cup sugar
-1 1/2 Tspn baking powder
-1/2 Tspn salt
-1/4 Cup water
-1/4 Cup vegetable oil
-1/2 Tspn fresh grated grapefruit zest (I used 1 Tblspn)
-3 Tblspn fresh squeezed grapefruit juice  (I used about 6-7 Tblspns)
-3  Egg yolks
-3  Egg whites
-1/4 Tspn cream of tartar

For the glaze:
-2/3 Cup confectioners sugar, sifted
-3 Tblspns fresh squeeze grapefruit juice
-1 Generous tspn fresh grated grapefruit zest

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Line cake pan with waxed paper and spray with nonstick oil. 

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center for dry ingredients. Add water, oil, zest, grapefruit juice and egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually fold egg whites into flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just blended. Do not stir the mixture. 
Pour batter into prepared cake pan. 
Bake for 25 minutes or until cake springs back when gently touched with a finger. Invert pan on cake rack to cool. Run spatula around edge of cake. Carefully remove from pan and place on platter.

Whisk together confectioners sugar, grapefruit juice and zest. Drizzle all over cake and allow to drip down sides.