Photography Friday (replacement for this week’s Wordless Wednesday).

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, revisited.

[PSA: Wordless Wednesdays has moved to currently unnamed Friday in honor of this recipe.]

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Hi, my name is Cakey, and I’m perpetually five years old.

I like to make messes. I like to play with the bubbles in the sink when I wash dishes. This weekend, I bought two coloring books. Last week, I ordered chicken strips for dinner with friends. When I was at a boy’s house, he asked what I wanted to drink – of course, I asked for a juice box. Part of me still wants to scream when I sit down in the dentist’s chair. A very large part of me.

Eventually, adult mode kicks in – flour is swept up, Anna Karenina is opened & read, and yes, please, I would like a side salad.

Oh, and packing for school happens.

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It’s that time of year again, when all my friends leave for college, leaving a week between me having friends and me heading back to campus. Thus, separation anxiety sets in, sadness ensues, and my oven mysteriously turns on.

I went back to the start to revisit one of my very first recipes. Kathryn & I baked it with the idea of sending some of it to a boy. Strangely enough, I baked it again this time with the same intention, for the same boy who is once again going to be six hours away from me for a few months. C’est la vie.

At least this time he’s fully aware of the intention behind the banana bread. I’m twice as alluring when I’m holding a freshly baked loaf of one of his favorite foods.

Feminine wiles, indeed.

Enough of the romance mush. Allow me to turn your attention to banana mush instead.

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I made a few more tweaks from the recipe I originally adapted from the great Joy the Baker, although very few. There seem to be varying opinions on the addition of vanilla extract to banana bread – this time, I added it to deepen the sweetness of the bananas. Self-control is null and void when it comes to vanilla.

Happy accident! My four pound Nestle chocolate chip bag (finally) ran out, leaving me with no choice but to chop up some dark chocolate sitting in my fridge. Chopped chocolate is, to me, more aesthetically pleasing than

This has become an all-butter/no oil recipe. A lot of bakers like using oil in breads and muffins to keep them moist (hold up, I hate that word with a passion. Unfortunately, it’s the only one that conveys what I’m trying to say), but then you miss out on the flavor the butter gives.

Finally, I added a crumble. Banana bread covered in sugar, oatmeal, and walnuts makes it a little more special.

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It’s as spectacular as it was before, only better. Do I contradict myself? (Very well, then I contradict myself.) This is probably the best banana bread you’ll ever eat – the perfect balance of sweet banana, smooth peanut butter, and just enough chocolate to round it out.

I’m still five years old when I make this bread, considering I had to taste-test it. Several times. This might’ve fueled my recent child-like spontaneity.

Embrace your inner child.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (printable recipe here)
makes 1 loaf pan (can use a cake pan or muffin tin)
originally from Joy the Baker
adapted from yours truly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 4 medium) mashed oh-so-very ripe* bananas
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Optional oat-nut topping

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combing flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, and melted butter.
  4. Beat in eggs, then sugars, until mixture is smooth.
  5. Barely fold the wet ingredients into the dry, until the mixture is mostly combined but a few flour streaks still remain. Fold in chocolate and nuts.
  6. If desired, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, walnuts, and oats for oat-nut topping. Set aside.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking pan; sprinkle with oat-nut topping or brown sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Invert loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely. Devour.

*NOTE: If your bananas aren’t yet ripe but you’re craving banana bread anyways, place them (skins still ON) on a baking sheet and stick them in a 350 degree F oven for about 35 minutes. The peels will turn black, but the inside will be ripe and sweet (and very easy to mash). Proceed with recipe.

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Black banana peels, mmmmm.

 

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Hey, you! Yes, you! What do you think of my tweaks – unnecessary or delicious? Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe or add-in of your own?

Mini Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups.

Guess who got off work two hours earlier than planned? This girl. Thus, a celebratory blog post. This one’s been sitting in my drafts for a while – now, voila.

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I’ve noticed I do a lot of things in life “just because”. My lips don’t need a reason to be coated in red lipstick. Why am I driving barefoot? Because I can. I’ll go through chapters of a book reading upside down; I’ve been known to buy random gifts for people months away from their birthday or any holidays simply because.

That’s how most of my baking seems to be – just because. Because it’s Tuesday. Because the sun is shining. Because I need to use up this bag of coconut coconut. Because I have a few hours to kill.

So on & so forth.

When I was browning the butter for these, my father walked in the kitchen and asked what I was doing.

“Browning butter,” I replied. Obviously.

He paused for a minute, looking into my pan, and said, “Oh, you mean, burning it. Cool.”

Burning butter? I guess so.

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Hypothetical conversation:

“What are these?”

“Burned butter cookie cups! Here, try one!”

“Ohh…um…no thanks. I’m allergic to…um…burned things.”

“No, they’re good, I swear!”

Right. There’s a reason it’s called browned butter.

This was my first time browning butter. I’ve heard a lot of fuss about it but never got around to doing it, mostly for fear of ruining it. Yet, for as many times I’ve used the stove, I’ve never burned down a building, so I tried it. Goodness, browning the butter makes these cookie cups sing! Photographing them was horrendous; with my face hovering directly over the cups, it took all my self-control (what little I possess) to not stuff every single one of them into my mouth.

It’s smooth sailing after the butter is browned. Don’t be intimidated by this “browned butter” talk, by the way (isn’t that fun to say? Browned butter, browned butter, browned butter!). Browning butter is nothing more than leaving the butter in the pan on the stove longer than you usually would if you were merely melting it, which causes it to turn brown and smell nutty and fragrant. And beautiful.

Hey, you don’t even need to tablespoon out the dough! Muffin pans really are convenient.

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The final product is thick & ooey-gooey-chewy-delicious. Ridiculously delicious. Never-ending summer delicious. 12-hour-hard-sleep-after-a-long-week delicious. Brand-new-hardcover-book delicious. Melt-your-face-off-delicious.

You can’t tell from the photos, but the wrappers have pictures of muffins on them. And “muffins” is scrawled all over them, multiple times.

See? Cookie cups in muffin tins in muffin wrappers declaring their contents to be muffins, just because I can.

Make these. Make them because it’s Tuesday and Tuesdays are neither popular nor hated. Make them because you want the satisfaction of burning something that ends up tasting really, really good. Make them because you are fearless and have really fabulous hair.

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Make them because you deserve to be good to yourself.

Mini Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups (printable recipe here!)
from Averie Cooks
makes 36 mini cookie cups or 12 normal-sized cookie cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned (see directions)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, or dark)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a mini-muffin pan, or line with mini muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter turns brown and fragrant (butter will melt and foam, then turn from clear to golden to brown). Remove pan from burner and continue to stir for about one minute.
  3. Poor butter into large mixing bowl and allow to cool momentarily to prevent the egg from scrambling. Stir in egg, sugars, and vanilla.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir until just combined (a few flour streaks is okay). Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon dough equally into mini-muffin cavities. Bake for about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Allow cookies to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Devour. (They will keep for about a week at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer.)

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Wordless…Aw, Man: A Cakey Bakes Apology & Explanation.

Mes amis.

Let’s talk real life.

Okay, baking is real life. I mean, my job. The fact that my job has consumed my life. The fact that I’m at work almost more than I’m at home…or not at work. With this new project going on, baking has been going on the backburner. In case you were interested, or require further proof of my busy-ness, here’s what my schedule has been like, approximately, for the past week and a half.

4:15 AM – wake up. Stumble to kitchen. Force feed myself caffeine and something that resembles breakfast.
4:30 AM – drive to work.
5 AM – start work.
Work.
Work.
Work.
Work.
Break!
Work.
Work.
4 PM – drive home.
4:30 PM – arrive home.
4:36 PM – crash.
5:30 PM – dinner.
6:30 PM – act like a zombie. Attempt to read; fail miserably. Charge iPod and phone. Prepare lunch for the next day. Watch Jeopardy!, maybe. Attempt to write. Attempt to clean.
8:30 PM – shower. Long, hot, hot, hot shower.
9 PM – begin evening wind down. Drink a gallon of herbal tea.
10 PM – accidentally pass out in front of the TV.
Midnight – realize I passed out in front of the TV. Drag my broken body upstairs; microwave heating pad to put on my shoulders. Fall into bed.
4:15 AM – wake up.

Lather.

Rinse.

Repeat.

Needless to say, I’m exhausted. Not only has this job made me physically exhausted, but it’s been taking a huge toll on my mental as well as emotional health. Tired, unhappy Cakey = no baking motivation = no material for Cakey Bakes.

I’m sorry. I truly am. I know I don’t have a lot of followers, but I understand the frustration of an absent blogger and a boring blog. As soon as work is over (next Friday will be the end, huzzah!), there will be recipes galore. Galore, I tell you!

Thank you, dear followers. Thank you, dear readers. Thank you for dealing with my unannounced hiatuses and inconsistent posting.