Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cereal Killer Muffins: when good cereal goes bad

Cereal Killer Muffins: when good cereal goes bad

This muffin recipe is a quick way to use up cereal that has gone stale and bananas that are past prime. The cereal rises like the phoenix into something new and improved and we don't waste so much food! Good choices.

In the US, nearly 14% of trash headed towards the landfill is food waste; this staggering number accounts for 34 million tons of food waste generated in 2010! Holy cats! Beyond prevention, this food waste could easily be diverted to a compost pile (if you're in the country and aren't supporting a rat family) or a worm bin (anywhere) or fed to chickens (anywhere). Food waste deserves its own posting, but for now, give these muffins a try and do your part to lower food waste ending up in the landfill.

For more information from the EPA about food waste click here.

Cereal Killer Muffins

2 cups stale cereal ('O' shaped cereal works well)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 cup of banana puree (2-3 medium bananas mushed)
1 cup raisins
2/3 cup low-fat milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray or line with paper muffin cups
  3. Crush cereal; try a potato masher, the bottom of a glass, or let your kitchen helper use a rolling pin to crush the cereal in between clean tea towels (can we do this without plastic bags?).
  4. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until just mixed (don't over mix*). Distribute batter between the 12 muffin cups evenly and bake 18-22 minutes or until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a few muffins comes out clean
Note: If these last longer than ten minutes in your kitchen and don't have a big enough storage container, try your stock pot. 

Measure stale cereal
Crush using a potato masher, the bottom of a glass or a rolling pin
Measure ingredients into large mixing bowl

Mix until just combined

Divide between 12 muffin cups and bake until done

*Food science: muffins are in a classification of baked good called quick breads;  they are fast to whip up in the kitchen and their name comes as an alternative to yeast breads; those breads that get their air bubbles from yeast exhaling inside the bread dough in a process that takes a few hours. Whole wheat bread is created when the flour is kneaded and gluten is pieced together, much like making a paper chain to decorate for a party. The chewy texture comes from the gluten and desirable in sandwich bread.

Quick breads use chemical processes to create air bubbles using the baking powder or soda. The baking soda  If we mix the bread too much, we develop too much gluten and our flaky biscuits or tender muffins quickly turn into rocks. So, long story short, just mix enough to wet the dry ingredients and evenly distribute everything.

Science rules!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The best banana bread (really!)

The Best Banana Bread

Bake until golden brown
There are a zillion banana bread recipes available and some are mearly cake in disguise while others are too dry or crumbly. Some are too sweet, others lack the nuts and cinnamon that I love. This one is just right!!'s healthy! The applesauce reduces unnecessary fat, sugar is cut way down and the oats add healthy soluble fiber and also help the bread to stay fresh longer...not that this bread is going to last very long!

The best part? This recipe comes together in minutes using only one bowl! Give it a try!

I have shared this recipe with my roommates and they have personalized it; one added a lovely swirl of nutella and the other swirled in peanut butter. Both are delicious! I sometimes add a handful of dark chocolate chips.

The Best Banana Bread

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ c. whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole egg
3 whole overripe (nearly black) bananas
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup pecans
½  cup dried cherries or raisins, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray loaf pan (or mini loaf pans) with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Add ingredients to mixing bowl in order listed. Mix just until combined.
3. Pour into greased loaf pan and sprinkle top with a small handful of plain oats. Bake at 350 for 1
hour (less for mini pans) or until toothpick comes out clean .

*This freezes well if you'd be so motivated as to make a double batch. Your friends and coworkers would also love a loaf as a gift
*This recipe works just as well with fresh ripe bananas as bananas that have been frozen and thawed

Mix all ingredients gently in one big bowl
Pour into prepared loaf pan and decorate with pecans if you're feeling fancy
Bake until golden brown

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Kitchen Tips: Storing homemade bread without making trash

One of my New Years Resolutions was to bake my own bread this year; this gives more control over the ingredients used, minimizes weird ingredients and preservatives and also packaging. I get to add nuts and seeds to my hearts content and experiment with different whole grains. It is also way more delicious! My problem? Where to store those beautiful loaves!

Most of us aren't using those huge stock pots that are taking up precious cupboard space. Why not put them to good use? They're a great place to store bread, bagels and muffins without using plastic bags or plastic wrap. One of my bamboo cutting boards even fits into the pot, so I don't have to wash it each time I use it. Voila!

For information about maintaining your wooding cutting boards, please check out my earlier blog posting.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baking: Whole Wheat Birdseed Bread!

One of my resolutions for the new year was to not buy loaves of packaged bread for the house. Atkins? you ask. No, I simply want a little more control over what is in my bread, to limit packaging some and I like the challenge. 

One great book I have been using is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their method of bread baking is to mix up a batch of dough that hangs out in your fridge and is ready when you are. You do have to allow time for the bread to rise; once when the dough is initially mixed up and once before baking. The "hands on" time is quite limited. I have been using their recipes to make loaves of delicious bread, sticky buns, pizza, calzones and more. They're really wonderful! The instructions make even the beginner baker feel confident. You can do it; give it a try!

I LOVE their whole wheat bread recipe! I have found too many whole wheat bread recipes that taste like a brick...not great for converting folks to the high-fiber virtues of whole grains! This one is hearty but still soft. The original recipe is great as is, it is also delicious with added nuts and seeds; I've added pecans, flax, almonds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds....hence birdseed bread!

100% whole wheat sandwich bread 
(that doesn't taste like a brick)

Makes 3 1.5lb loaves (my bread pans must be big because it makes two for me)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (two packets)
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup honey
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (neutral flavor)
6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

1. Mixing and storing the dough. Mix the yeast, salt, honey, and oil with the milk and water in a  5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with a dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with a dough hook).
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top); approximately 2 to 3 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.


5. On baking day. Lightly grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch non-stick loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1/2 pound (cantaloupe-size) handful of dough. This dough is pretty sticky and often it's easiest to handle it with wet hands. Keeping your hands wet, quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan. You want to fill the pan slightly more than half-full.
7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flour the top of the loaf and slash, using the tip of a serrated knife.

Rising...hanging out with my super cool Kitchen Aid mixer :)

8. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with an empty broiler tray on another shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread. If you're not using a stone, the preheat can be as short as 5 minutes.
9. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.
10. Allow to cool completely before slicing in order to cut reasonable sandwich slices.

All done and ready to be sampled! Yummy!
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