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?

Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones.

(Or Almond Joy Scones. Or, more fittingly, Almond Joy the Baker Scones. Have I ever mentioned how much I adore her blog? I do. A ton.) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My mother decided to reorganize our silverware drawer. After five and a half years of living in this house, we’ve only had the drawer one way, even after we got new silverware. Now, I’m unconsciously reaching for a knife when I want to eat cereal and finding spoons when I really just want to make a PB&J. Sometimes, the changes are bigger than that. Sometimes, friends will choose to go away permanently, whether on amiable or unfriendly terms. You might uproot your life and travel across continents to chase (and, hopefully, find) your dreams. Routines change; “normal” changes. You find yourself in strange places and even more bizarre scenarios, and as you fumble through life, you do your best, you fight the fight, you gulp the coffee and breathe the best you can. Life is rough. Breakfast can make it better. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mornings feel like the calm before the storm, especially if you’re up before dawn, which is one of the many reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Settling into a routine gives you a bit of solid ground to stand on. Thus, I bring you scones to help the transition between “blissfully enjoying my 4th hour of sleep” and “I forgot it’s Monday” and all the other worries and anxieties on your mind. Soft, buttery, coconut-y, and comforting, like little bits of home. Biscuits and scones are some of my favorite baked goods to make – no waiting for butter to come down to room temperature, and plus, you get to use a pastry cutter. Or your hands. Like playing in the dirt, except you’re playing with butter and flour. And you’re not in small, flowered overalls. I’d say the most important point in this recipe is the toast the coconut and almonds beforehand. Heat brings out the best in both of those ingredients. And these little biscuits can be adjusted to your sweet tooth, or lack thereof. More coconut? Fewer almonds? White chocolate? Go for it. Whatever makes you feel most at home – whatever’s gonna get you through the day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Make these tonight. Throw one in the microwave or toaster oven tomorrow morning as you’re rushing about, trying not to forget shoes or whatever weekend project you were assigned or all the things your child needs at day camp. Take a bite, take a breath, and go get ’em, tiger. This is your week.

Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones (printable recipe here!)
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes about 10-12 large scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or a mixture – I used 3/4 cup whole wheat and the rest AP)
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • additional sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place coconut and slivered almonds on it. Put in the oven to toast for 10-12 minutes, checking once or twice to make sure it doesn’t burn. When coconut is golden, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until butter and flour are mostly combined. Set in the fridge for a few minutes.
  5. Whisk together buttermilk and egg.
  6. Remove flour and butter mixture from the fridge; add coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips. Stir together, then create a well in the center. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the well all at once.
  7. Stir until wet and dry ingredients are just combined (preferably with a few visible flour streaks).
  8. Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Work the dough into a disk with your hands. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake scones for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and devour.
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the aftermath.

Honey Oatmeal Flax Bread.

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Fair warning: this bread is a bit of a challenge, but nothing you can’t handle. Yeast is definitely intimidating, not to mention a little mysterious – it’s a living thing that you put in baked goods that doesn’t completely destroy them! What?

Don’t let the microorganisms scare you. They’re here to help.

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I wish you could smell this bread right now! It isn’t just any awkward, boring homemade bread. Oats that have softened but not quite cooked in a warm butter-milk-honey mixture lend a chewy, hearty taste and texture. The middle is soft but my favorite part is the flax seeds. I’ve always been a sucker for bread with nuts and seeds, little bits of the unexpected in an otherwise unassuming loaf.

Loaf One

I’ve made two loaves of this bread within the past week. (As you can probably tell, I took pictures on two separate days with two separate loaves at two different times of day. It was interesting to look through my folders and see the contrast and differences between the two sets.) Loaf one didn’t have any whole wheat flour, as I had just finished up a bag and hadn’t gotten around to buying a new one, definitely had more yeast than necessary, and seemed a little bit undercooked. Nevertheless, it was still delicious – soft, oat-y, fantastic when toasted.

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Take two was even better. I reduced the yeast by 1/3 to eliminate the excessive yeast-y taste in the previous loaf and upped the baking time to from 30 to 32 minutes. The lack of whole wheat flour was remedied by slicing open a brand new bag as fast as I could get my hands on it.

Ding ding ding, we have a winner! This bread is fantastic, as previously mentioned – soft, hearty, subtly flavored and incredibly delicious. Whole wheat flour aids the flax seed in creating a nutty taste, and that makes the sweetness of the honey sing – especially straight from the oven. A little slice of happiness in an otherwise hectic world.

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Before you begin, let me point out this recipe makes two loaves. So if you have a small household, or only one loaf pan available for use, make sure to halve it – and don’t worry, it still works out fine.

Honey Oatmeal Flax Bread
from http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/oatmeal-flax-honey-wheat-bread/

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup portions
  • 1/2 cup flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten + a splash of water (for egg wash)

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk to nearly boiling (make sure it doesn’t boil!). Add the oats, butter, and all but one teaspoon of honey. Stir and remove from heat to cool until warm, about 105 degrees F.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the warm water, the teaspoon of reserved honey, and yeast. Allow it to proof (let stand) for about 5 minutes until foamy.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, flax seed, and salt.
  4. Stir the proofed yeast into the warm milk mixture; pour the liquid into the flour.
  5. Using a mixer with dough hook(s) attached, mix on low until flour is incorporated. Turn mixer up to medium, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. If dough is sticky and not coming into a ball, add 1/2 cup of the remaining all-purpose flour. If, after mixing, it is not in a ball, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.
  6. Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes into a ball away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a towel. Leave it in a warm place to rise until dough has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. After dough has risen: grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.
  8. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface; knead several times to remove the air.
  9. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a loaf and place into a loaf pan, seam side down. Cover the pans with the towel and allow dough to rise again until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  10. When the dough is almost finished rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  11. To create an egg wash, beat the egg and add a splash of water. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with rolled oats, if desired.
  12. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until tops are golden. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for up to a week (maybe more) if kept in the refrigerator. Devour.

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Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Hello. It’s been far too long. Life is so crazy. Can you ever forgive me?

Here, I brought you some incredibly delicious banana bread to make it better.

GOOD II

Or banana mush. Or banana muffins. Or banana cookies.

Or whatever form fits your fancy.

I must first add a brief disclaimer: the oatmeal must first be ground in some sort of food-processing device before adding the rest of the ingredients. If your kitchen just happens to be lacking in a food processor, place the oatmeal in a large plastic bag and use a meat mallet (or some other utensil to that effect) to grind it up to a meal-like consistency.

Second disclaimer: your batter may not make it into the pan. Really, there would have been more of the final product had I possessed enough self-control to keep my fingers out of the mixing bowl.

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Whoops.

However, there is no worry of potential acquisition of salmonella; this is an eggless recipe! Which means no stray eggshells will end up in your bread (also, I originally typed “beard” instead of “bread”. Probably a sign I should drink something caffeinated).

How many times have I already raved about peanut butter? Or peanut butter and chocolate? Or peanut butter and banana? Or…peanut butter? Probably enough for you to remember that I really, really love peanut butter.

And this recipe combines many of my favorite things: bananas, chocolate, peanut butter, and oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of my favorite baking ingredients; not only does it add a beautifully chewy texture and substance, but it also adds a distinct, nutty flavor. Oats are intrinsically satisfying.

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Aren’t they cute?

Despite the simple ingredients, the taste is sublime. With nothing added in excess, the flavors are complementary: just enough brown sugar to subtly emphasize the cinnamon, enough peanut butter to notice but not overpower, and a perfect amount of oats to lend their chewiness but not dominate.

Why can’t people work together so harmoniously like that?

No matter. Maybe this bread will bring about world peace.

The active time of this recipe is not consuming. After you have measured out the oats and blended them, simply add the rest of the ingredients, mix, and bake. Or, if you prefer, omit the baking powder and simply eat the batter straight. Yes, it’s that good.

If you prefer muffins, mini or standard or enormous, or a cake-pan sized loaf, or some other manifestation, I’m sure those will work just as well. Just be aware of the potential time adjustment.

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Oh, and feel free to add more chocolate chips.

Easy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (Egg-free!…and with no-bake option!)
Slightly adapted from Baker Bettie
Makes 1 loaf pan or about 6 mini loaves Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned)
  • 3-4 medium mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the loaf pan(s) and set aside.
  2. Measure oatmeal into blender or food processor and pulse until powder or meal consistency, or little less fine if desired.
  3. Combine oatmeal and remaining ingredients, except for chocolate chips, to a mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into prepare pan(s). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are browned and toothpick in center comes out clean. Devour.

No-bake option: Omit the baking powder and add up to an extra cup of oatmeal (not ground). Spoon mixture onto yogurt/etc., or eat straight from the bowl.