CHEW THIS! Comforting Banana Bread

Comforting Banana Bread

comforting-banana-bread.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 2nd 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Facebook Questions and Comforting Banana Bread
Blaise Doubman

I have been getting several emails about my Blaise the Baker Facebook page. Let me clear the air on that subject first before we continue with my column and recipe for banana bread. My Facebook accounts, both private and public, were compromised about a month ago. I thought I had solved the various problems but the problems and issues reoccurred not long after the initial hacking. The safest thing for me to do, for my friends and followers, was to delete both accounts and start over. Facebook will not allow me to start over with my pages until a certain amount of time has passed. As soon as my pages are up and started again I will be sure to let you know the appropriate links so that you can follow along with me again.

There has been a bit of a silver lining in all of this though because it has given me a chance to really sit back and think about how I want to “relaunch” Blaise the Baker and it has also given me this wonderfully delicious recipe for banana bread! How? I needed some comfort after all the hacking news, etc. so I decided that I would develop a new recipe for one of my favorite comforting things – banana bread! This one is simple, delicious and very flavorful. I have several recipes for banana bread, one using a yellow cake mix, one calling for bits of toffee and another that uses sour cream and is studded with cranberries and walnuts. This one though is simple in process and fabulous in flavor. I take the finished bread and cut it into huge slices but feel free to cut the slices according to your tastes, or your level of comfort needed.

Comforting Banana Bread

This banana bread will last for several days when wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature. Lightly toast the bread and smear with unsalted butter or cream cheese for an even more delicious comforting treat.

1 ¾ cups white all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a regular size loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl beat together the softened unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in the large eggs.

Stir in the mashed bananas and pure vanilla extract. Gently fold in the whisked dry ingredients.

Add in the toasted walnuts, if using, and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for 44 minutes. The top will be split and golden brown in color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before turning it out onto a piece of parchment paper to cool completely. Cut into large comforting slices and serve.

Ask and Answer: Several people have messaged me to ask more about my position as a “Glen Oaks Health Campus Family Ambassador” and what it means. Lots of you have had loved ones admitted into Glen Oaks in the last several months and remember reading about my position there. What an Ambassador does is basically help represent Glen Oaks Health Campus as a whole. I am here to answer any questions you may have about the facility or address any concerns you may have. I also have written a “business review” of Glen Oaks Health Campus, which can be found on my website, blaisethebaker.com

CHEW THIS! Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

img_2229.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 4th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A New Take on Banana Bread…
Blaise Doubman

I love banana bread and I have experimented with countless recipes over the years. There has been banana bread with nuts, without nuts, with sour cream, with extra butter, melted butter, softened butter, a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, brown butter banana bread, banana bread with raisins and even a banana bread made with a yellow cake mix. If you think that is a lot, consider the fifty other versions I have tried but did not want to mention in fear of readership boredom and lack of room. Seriously though banana bread, to me, always needed something extra. No, not cinnamon and no, not extra bananas, that only makes the finished loaf tough in the end, I have tried it! I have always thought it was missing… chocolate!

Chocolate! Yes, chocolate. I am a registered chocoholic and proud of it. Anything and everything, to me, is better with chocolate and this recipe is no exception! It took a few rounds in the kitchen with this recipe before it was perfect but the finished result was well worth the extra time and extra work. My taste testers, shout out to Tiffany at Glen Oaks, loved this so much that they encouraged me to bring it again – that next day! Ha! The bread is baked in an untraditional way, in a 9×13-inch baking pan, but does so because you cut this bread into bars! The combination of the moist flavorful banana bread with the chocolate version is pure and utter heaven for banana and chocolate lovers! I highly recommend you stir up a batch of these!

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

These really stretch when it comes to cutting serving sizes, so cut the bars small and serve for a large gathering! If you want to freeze the leftover bars, do so by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil before placing into a freezer safe zipper bag. Once frozen, bring to room temperature over night to gently thaw before eating.

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 large bananas, peeled and mashed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with a non-stick spray containing flour.

Beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Add in the prepared bananas, large egg and pure vanilla extract. Beat well.

Finally, fold in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Measure out a little less than 2 cups of this mixture and drop by large spoonful’s erratically around the inside of the prepared pan.

Add the unsweetened cocoa powder to the remainder of the batter in the bowl and beat well.

Place the now chocolate banana batter in spoonful’s around the batter that has already been placed in the pan. Do not worry about being neat with this. You will see why in a minute.

Now, with the back of a spoon, carefully spread out all of the dollops so that they gently form together and come together into one large even batter service. Next, take a knife and gently swirl the batter together making a marble effect on the top.

Place in preheated oven for exactly 25 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting, serving and enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I heard from so many of you with my previous column of my chocolate mayonnaise cake and I love and appreciate your feedback! To answer a few of your questions, yes you can use water instead of the coffee, yes you can make the cake in 2 9-inch circle cake pans, the baking time will not change and you may frost the cake with whatever frosting you desire, or simply sprinkle over some powdered sugar and serve alongside a bowl of fruit. I loved hearing your memories of growing up with a cake very similar to mine in your household.

Foolproof Omelet

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” September 16th, 2017

My Grandma Deloris has been on an “omelet kick” at Glen Oaks Health Campus in New Castle, Indiana and it got me thinking about where the omelet plays a role in my life. It really does not. Gasp! I know – I know. I decided it was time to change that so I told Grandma my plans on developing my own foolproof recipe, went home and got to work.

Developing this recipe was really not as complicated as I had originally thought. Just a few simple steps and a couple of simple techniques and you have one giant foolproof omelet!

You can stuff your omelet with anything and everything you can imagine. I used shredded cheese in mine. Feel free to use green peppers and onions, sausage, ham or even turkey and green onion. The sky is really the limit here – reach for the stars!

img_9204.jpg

Foolproof Omelet

4 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat a large 10-inch skillet over medium high heat for about a minute. Add in the butter and allow to melt evenly.

In a large bowl whisk together the large eggs with the salt and black pepper. Really whisk here – you want to incorporate a lot of air. Whisk, whisk, whisk.

Once the butter is bubbly and hot pour the whisked eggs directly into the center of the skillet and leave alone.

Watch closely but do not move the eggs.

Once your eggs resemble a giant yellow pancake – you will be able to tell the color and texture just by looking – add in your fillings to the center of the omelet.

If you are having trouble getting the “yellow pancake” outcome, use a rubber scrapper and gently pull on one side of the omelet, tilting the skillet down so the uncooked egg slides from the top to the bottom – therefore allowing it to cook.

Wait 20 seconds after adding your filling and then gently use a rubber scrapper to fold the omelet over onto itself. Be careful here of the fillings used.

Hold the omelet carefully with hot fingers and or rubber scrapper to drain out some of the fat from the skillet.

Place on plate and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Debra’s Red Velvet White Chocolate Muffins

Debra’s Red Velvet White Chocolate Muffins

img_6708.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, July 16th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Loyal Reader Inspires Red Velvet Muffins
Blaise Doubman

I love anything red velvet and when talking about red velvet there are two groups of people. The first group is the group of people I am in. They agree with you and love anything red velvet and they also agree that red velvet has its own unique flavor. The second group of people hate red velvet, think it has no taste and are afraid of the effects of all the red food coloring used. Red velvet, to me, has that unique faint cocoa powder flavor that other cakes can not come close to resembling. We eat with our eyes first and anything red velvet, to me, just screams fun! When people tell me about the red food coloring, I really do not see this as harmful. There are colors, natural or otherwise, found in everything we eat and drink. My favorite motto is, everything in moderation, including moderation. Baking is supposed to be a way of satisfying a specific need, especially that of a sweet tooth, so relax and have fun with it.

My friend, Debra Kirkpatrick, wrote to me one day and was describing some fabulous red velvet muffins that she had eaten and fallen in love with. She told me that they were big, flavorful and had white chocolate chips. There was a problem though. She could not seem to find them anymore! Our conversation ended with me promising her that I would try and duplicate the recipe so that she could enjoy them anytime she wanted. A few months later, here we are! These muffins are the perfect thing for breakfast, snack or dessert. I really hope that you will add these muffins into your recipe files because they really are some of the best I have had!

Debra’s Red Velvet White Chocolate Muffins

These muffins can be made with or without the white chocolate chips. Feel free to substitute your favorite chocolate chips, or leave them out completely. These keep best at room temperature. Wrap each muffin in plastic wrap to maintain freshness. These will last at room temperature for one week.

For the muffins…
1 ¼ cups white all-purpose flour
¾ cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons red liquid food coloring
½ cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup white chocolate chips

For the topping…
½ cup white granulated sugar
¼ cup white all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cavity regular size cupcake / muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine the white all-purpose flour, white granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk together to remove any lumps.

In a glass measuring cup combine the whole milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, red liquid food coloring, vegetable oil and large egg. Beat ingredients well with a fork to combine.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently fold the two together, mixing with a light hand. Some lumps may remain and this is good.

Gently fold in the white chocolate chips.

Fill the cavities two-thirds full with the batter.

Make the topping by combining the white granulated sugar, white all-purpose flour, cubed unsalted butter and turbinado sugar with a fork. Cut the ingredients together with the fork until the mixture resembles sandy crumbs.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the muffins, being sure not to overload them. You may not want to use the entire amount of topping. You want topping on the muffins not a crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I had several people write to me and ask about a quick way of ripening bananas for my banana brownies. My favorite method is the “oven method”. Place your unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and bake in 300 degree F oven. The time for this depends on the size of your bananas so keep checking frequently. You will know when they are done because the bananas will turn black and shiny. This works because the heat brings out the fruits natural sugars. The same can be done, in a pinch, in your microwave but use caution.

CHEW THIS! Make Ahead Streusel Coffee Cakes

Make Ahead Streusel Coffee Cakes

img_5800.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 21st 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Make Ahead, Grab and Go Coffee Cakes
Blaise Doubman

About a month ago my debut cookbook officially went into what is known in the publishing world as a “second printing”. Everything stayed the same except for the copyright at the beginning of the cookbook – the copyright went from 2016 to 2017. I have always been interested and fascinated with publishing, newspapers and media. In high school I took newspaper class and was on the yearbook committee. Words in print fascinate me and how people receive those words in print fascinate me even more. Do you get your news from online sources, Facebook, the newspaper, radio, TV, maybe even all of the above? The same can be said for how people get their recipes and meal ideas. I encourage people all the time on my social media networks to email me, text me, write to me, call me – and let me know if you have any questions, feedback or concerns. I love hearing from my readers!

That is where this column recipe came from; a reader. A reader, who did not want to be identified, said that she would love a recipe for coffee cake that she could make once and it would last throughout the week. A coffee cake that could be portable and something that would not only last without getting stale but a coffee cake that would have great taste as well. That got me thinking about the traditional coffee cake and how I could make a few changes. Immediately I knew that I wanted to make them portable by baking them in cupcake / muffin tins! I also knew that the addition of sour cream would make for a flavorful and moist crumb. After several testings I knew that I had a winner! I handed these out to my taste testers and several people thought they were store bought! Several people remarked on the moistness of the cakes and how much flavor they had. I hope that you, and the reader who was an inspiration for these, will make these, love them and pass along this recipe.

Make Ahead Streusel Coffee Cakes

These are the perfect go-to breakfast item because they can be made ahead and stored for a long period of time! Store them in an air tight container at room temperature for up to five days. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and they will keep for ten days. Wrap each in plastic wrap and freeze for up to six months! Feel free to add a little cinnamon spice to the coffee cake and / or the streusel topping. Also feel free to mix together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with a splash of whole milk and drizzle each with a little glaze.

For the cake…
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups white all-purpose flour

For the streusel…
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup white all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 12-cup capacity cupcake / muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl cream together the melted unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in texture.

Next, add in the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Beat in the pure vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl combine the baking powder, salt and white all-purpose flour. Whisk this together to remove any lumps.

Add half of the sour cream, followed by half of the dry mixture. Beat well before adding in the other half of the sour cream, followed by the remaining dry mixture.

Fill each prepared cupcake / muffin cup half full of the batter.

To make the streusel topping, combine the light brown sugar, white all-purpose flour, melted unsalted butter and salt in a medium bowl using clean hands. The end result should look like pebbles. The easiest way to mix together would be to use your thumbs and pointer fingers, rubbing the mixture easily throughout. A gentle hand and a small fork would also work.

Top each of the batter filled cavities with one tablespoon, but no more, of the streusel mixture.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 33 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow the cakes to come to warm room temperature while still in their baking pans. Carefully remove and enjoy.

Ask and Answer: I’ve been getting a few emails about why in most of my chocolate recipes I add a little bit of coffee. Just a small amount of instant coffee granules mixed into chocolate cakes, brownies, frostings, etc. enhances the natural flavors of the chocolate. The end result will have no taste of coffee at all, it will just give your finished dessert that special something. I use instant coffee granules but instant espresso would work in a pinch. A little goes a long way.