Archive for the 'quick bread' Category

Irish Soda Bread


Over the past few years, I’ve watched Mike bake loaf after loaf of perfect Irish soda bread. As soon as he pulled it from the oven, we’d tear off chunks and slather them with butter or jam, burning our hands and tongues because the bread was still steaming. I was happy to have him bake it, but eventually I wanted to try it for myself.

I’ve worked in a bakery and made dozens of different yeast and quick breads, so I figured I would have no problem with this. After all, it’s just flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. No proofing yeast, punching down, complicated braiding, egg wash, or anything that would strike fear in the heart of a novice baker. And yet I failed repeatedly.


There was my first disastrous attempt, when I offered to make two loaves for Thanksgiving and the texture was all wrong. I took another shot with a different recipe when I was staying at my parents house. My mom took a bite, chewed slowly and said “well, it’s okay, but it’s not soda bread.” This continued a few more times, and each time there was something off.

When I decided to try yet again to make an edible loaf the other night, I had my usual hesitation. I briefly debated putting raisins in it, but Mike reminded me that I probably shouldn’t make it any more complicated than necessary, given my track record.


When I pulled the loaf from the oven, I started to think that this was my time. “It looks like soda bread!” I yelled (probably louder than I should have, considering the hour and the baby that lives downstairs) and Mike agreed. We got the jam and butter ready and dug in. Victory! I’m not sure why this time things finally worked out for me, but I’m never trying another recipe again!


The accompaniment for this particular loaf was this amazing jam from my aunt, who picked it up at the Blackberry Arts Festival in Coos Bay, Oregon, and sent it along with my parents when they came to visit me in Seoul. I am not being paid for this endorsement and they did not send me free samples, but I would gladly buy it myself! Unlike a lot of the jam available here, it wasn’t overly sticky or syrupy, and it really tasted like eating fresh berries! You can read more about Misty Meadows Jam at

(adapted from Baking Bites)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment).
Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and wisk together with a fork.
Stir in half the butter milk, then add the remaining buttermilk 2 tbsp at a time. You want the dough to be just a little bit moist. It should hold together, but not be sticky. If you accidentally add too much milk, knead in some flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
Shape into a ball, then cut an X into the top.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. (If you tap on the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles, it should sound hollow).
Let cool as long as you can stand to wait, then serve with butter and jam.
Best if eaten within about 3 hours of baking.

Banana Coffee Cake with Peanut Butter Streusel

Banana Coffee Cake 2
I love good banana bread as much as the next person, but sometimes I can’t help but feel there is something missing. Like streusel. Or peanut butter. Or some magical combination of the two.

A year ago I attempted to make a peanut butter banana bread but was seriously underwhelmed with the results, so this time I knew I had to go in another direction.

I caved in and bought an 8″ round cake pan a few days ago because my sanity was beginning to wither away due to a lack of baking.  Fortunately, with this cake, it seems to have returned. 

With mushy bananas on my counter and a jar of peanut butter in my care package (you’re the best, Mom!) I knew I had to make another attempt at the banana bread and peanut butter combination.  I have always been the kind of person to eat coffee cake for the streusel (and cucpakes for the frosting), so I decided I would make a banana coffee cake with peanut butter streusel.  And I am so glad I did.

The cake is denser and moister than other coffee cakes I’ve had, but I think that provides a great base for the streusel.  I scaled down the original recipe, which was written for an 8″ square pan, because the only baking pan I own is the aforementioned 8″ round one. 

Banana Coffee Cake 4

(cake adapted from Epicurious)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed banans (this was 3.5 small bananas for me)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp plain yogurt

2 tbsp peanut butter (I used natural crunchy)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease an 8″ round cake pan.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the bananas.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together with a fork.
Add to the banana mixture and stir gently until combined.
Stir in the yogurt, then pour into the pan. Set aside while you make the streusel.
To make the streusel, put the peanut butter and butter into a bowl and mix them together.
Add the flour and sugar and rub between your fingers until the mixture looks like wet sand with little pebbles.
Sprinkle over the cake evenly and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a rack, then cut into slices to serve.

Banana Coffee Cake 6

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I had a lot of things to do to get ready for Thanksgiving…pie and tart crusts to make, bread to make and cut for stuffing, an apartment to clean and mounds of dishes to wash. But what did I decide to do before all that? Make pesto and pumpkin bread. But not just any pumpkin bread. Pumpkin bread with CHOCOLATE CHIPS.  Because really, chocolate chips make almost everything better.  Especially pumpkin bread!

(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (which I normally wouldn’t use, but I was feeling lazy – see below for actual spicing)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the sugars until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then mix in the pumpkin.
Stir together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl. 
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with milk.  
Fold in the chocolate chips, then pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 5o minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


I make Indian food probably once a week, and I’ll usually whip up a batch of these chapatis to go along with it.  Another recipe from the brilliant Neela Paniz, they are easy to make and work really well for scooping up dal and other Indian dishes.  You’ll need to find atta flour (also marked Chapati Flour)… which may require either a search online or a trip to your nearest Indian grocery store. I always choose the latter, and when we are in the Bay Area, I cannot leave without stopping by an Indian grocery store to pick up dal or flour or whole spices like fenugreek seeds or cardamom pods.

But about the chapati… it’s excellent!
(from Bombay Cafe)
2 cups atta flour
3/4 to 1 cup warm water
ghee (optional)
Mix the atta flour and 3/4 cups warm water until you have a uniform dough that is not sticky.
Knead for about 15 minutes, adding water as necessary, until the dough is soft and elastic.
Cover with a damp kitchen towel for 30 minutes.
To shape the breads, sprinkle your work surface with flour.
Break off a one inch chunk of dough and flatten in the palm of your hand.  
On the floured surface, roll the dough out to a flat circle about 5-6″ in diameter.
Heat a skillet over medium.
Place the chapati in the pan and turn it when you see small bubbles on the surface, about 1 minute.
Cook the other side for about 30 seconds.
With tongs, remove the chapati from the pan and place over an open gas flame for about 15 seconds, or until it puffs up.  Then do the same on the other side.
Remove from the flame, brush with some ghee if you like, and set aside while you repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Crispy Za’atar Flatbread

I’ve been putting za’atar on just about everything recently.  I really wanted to make some flatbread with it on top, but it got late and I didn’t want to wait around for the dough to rise.  I remembered a recipe for Crisp Rosemary Flatbread I saw on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago and opted to give it a try.  I’m so glad I did!

I LOVE these crackers!  They are flavorful enough to be eaten alone, but I’m sure a dollop of hummus would be a welcome addition.
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet Magazine, July 2008)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
3-5 tbsp za’atar

Preheat oven to 450 °F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).

Lightly brush top with additional oil and sprinkle 1-2 tbsp zaatar over the oil, pressing in slightly. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Healthier banana bread

The chocolate-laden banana bread I made on Sunday was quite a treat, but today I wanted a healthy way to use the remaining brown bananas sitting on my kitchen counter.

This recipe uses nonfat plain yogurt, half whole wheat flour, and just one egg.  While I wouldn’t say it is completely healthy (there is still a fair amount of sugar), it is definitely a bit better for you than your average banana bread.  I also love that the recipe comes together in one bowl, so dishes are kept to a minimum.
1 cup mashed bananas (I used 3)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan
Mash the bananas in a medium bowl, and stir in the sugars.

Add the yogurt, vanilla, and egg and mix well.

Add both types of flour, salt, and baking powder, and stir just until the flour disappears.  
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then slice and enjoy!

Cocoa Banana Loaf

I came home from five days in Idaho to these bananas, which my husband bought the day I left specifically so they would look like this upon my return.  This was a subtle hint that he wanted me to make banana bread.

I wanted to include chocolate, because in my opinion, it makes just about everything better.  I found this recipe in “Baking by Flavor” by Lisa Yockelson, and it definitely does not disappoint.  The combination of cocoa in the batter and chocolate chips distributed throughout make a rich and moist bread with great banana flavor as an undertone to the chocolate.
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used 4 bananas to make this amount)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 9 x 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. 
Cream the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes, then gradually add the sugar and beat for two minutes more.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla.  
Blend in the mashed bananas.
With the mixer on low, add the sifted flour mixture in two parts, mixing just until all the flour is absorbed.  
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake for about 1 hour, tenting with foil if the top gets dark (I had to put a foil tent on for the last 20 minutes).
Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for five minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
When cool, slice and enjoy.
(Note – I was so impatient I didn’t wait until the bread was cool, so my slices were a little messy but that was fine with me!)


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