Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best-Ever Banana Bread

I'm serious. This actually is the best banana bread you will ever taste. Whichever minion of Martha's came up with it deserves a nice firm handshake and a cigar. Or something. Anyways, this is the moistest (moistest?) banana bread you will taste. It keeps really well, although I don't think you'll have to worry about that.

Martha's original recipe calls for sour cream - this is the only thing I changed. I don't keep sour cream in the house usually, so I always make this bread with plain yogurt - fat free, even! It always turns out AWESOME. If you have sour cream to get rid of, feel free to use it instead of the yogurt in the recipe below. You can also add 1/2 c chopped nuts in at the end if you feel the urge.

You need:

1/2 c butter, softened, plus some for your loaf pan
1 c white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-3 very very ripe bananas, mashed thoroughly
1/2 c plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and butter a 9×5×3" loaf pan. Preparation is important! :)

2. Cream the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy, then beat in your eggs. I used my KitchenAid for this; you can use a hand mixer or even your own arms plus wooden spoon!

3. In a different bowl, mix your dry ingredients, except the nuts, if you're using them. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and combine gently. Then add your bananas, the yogurt, and the vanilla. After you have mixed all this in, you can add your nuts. Or chocolate chips, for that matter.

4. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour and ten minutes. A toothpick or knife should come out clean when it's done. After it cools in the pan for about 15 minutes, you can cool it on a rack, or just eat it. Warm banana bread is the best - that way if you put butter on it (mmmmm) it gets all melty (see below). :)

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beer-drinking Pretzels

Salty, poofy, chewy, and delicious.

These are amazing dipped in mustard. And even better with a nice cold pint.

I found the recipe somewhere on a Fresh Loaf thread somewhere, but the direct link is here. These are super easy, so if you've been reluctant to approach yeast before, here is a good opportunity.

You need:

1 tbs yeast
1 1/4 c warm water
1/4 c brown sugar
4 c flour

coarse salt
melted butter (about 3 tbs)
1/2 c baking soda dissolved in 3 c water at a simmer

1. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and add the yeast to proof it. The yeast should get foamy after about 5 minutes.

2. Add the flour and mix it gently. The dough should be sticky but well combined. Don't over-knead it or you'll get tough pretzels.

3. Let the dough rise in a covered, oiled bowl for about 20-30 minutes depending on how warm your house is.

4. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and shape into long ropes about 1" in diameter. Shape these into pretzel shapes and prepare some greased baking trays. Dip each pretzel into the water-baking soda mixture and submerge for about 20 seconds. Then place each onto the tray.

5. Bake at 450ºF for about 5 minutes or until the pretzels are golden and smell like heaven. Remove from the oven, brush with butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt. TRY to wait as long as you can before chowing down on them, but they are really really good warm.

I also think this would be a fun baking activity to involve kids in if you happen to have any around! Kids are really good at making dough ropes. :) Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo