Sunday, April 7, 2013

Waking up to Baking

Most people I interact with on a regular basis know that I'm in the Global Poverty Reading Group at my school. We wake up early on Wednesdays to start our meetings at 7:00 sharp. We've read:
  • Why Nations Fail
  • It's Our Turn to Eat by Michaela Wrong
  • The {Honest} Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely
  • Arrival City by Doug Saunders
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
  • The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow
  • Poor Economics
  • The Big Truck that Went By by Jonathan Katz
And some combination of:
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
  • It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott
  • Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
All in all they're pretty much worth reading, except, perhaps, Why Nations Fail, which is highly technical with only a few interesting trivia points.

Anyway, since we started up again after winter break at the end of January, I volunteered to bring my share. I made one breakfast bread plus one "breakfast" bread, heavy on the quotes.

I always enjoy making quickbreads, and am forever trying to minimize my dishes (this is a priority because usually I'm making them on weeknights when I have no time and dad has no inclination because he will not be consuming the goods). My other interest is in experimentation, as many of you have already discovered. I try using honey, applesauce, white chocolate chips, avocados, butternut squash and oats.

These two are thus relatively mundane combinations, though of course they are expandable, depending on the crowd you are serving (which obviously includes yourself and your tastes).

I'm reprinting this in essentially the same form in which it was published in my school newspaper.

Basic Applesauce Muffins
Although there is a substantial amount of applesauce in these muffins, they don’t taste like apples to start with. They are perfect to add in anything you like, from chocolate to nuts to dried fruit. Be careful not to over bake, as they dry out quickly. Remember that they generally tend to continue cooking a bit after being taken out of the oven, so the toothpick should still have a few crumbs clinging to it when tested.

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce, ~3 4-oz individual-sized containers
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
1) In a large bowl, beat together the applesauce, egg, butter, honey, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and spices, if using. Add dry to wet, stirring just to moisten. The batter will be fairly thick. 

2) Stir in any dried fruits, chocolate chips or nuts and divide the batter among 13 muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray. 

3) Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Check for doneness at this point. If a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean, remove from oven. If not, bake for another 2 minutes before testing again. Flip muffins onto a cooling rack immediately after baking to avoid them steaming and becoming soggy.

Mix-In Combinations:
  • Autumnal Equinox: ½ cup chopped pecans, 1 small finely diced apple, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Ginger Lover: ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger, 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Chocoholic: ½ cup chocolate chips, substitute ¼ cup all-purpose flour for ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • Thinking of Thanksgiving: ½ cup dried cranberries, substitute vanilla extract for maple extract, substitute ½ whole wheat flour for ½ cup cornmeal
  • Other Options: chopped walnuts/almonds/pistachios, diced dried apricots, raisins, white chocolate/butterscotch/peanut butter chips


Next up is from my recent favorite, Moosewood's Cooking for Health. As Molly Weizenberg once wrote on her beauteous blog, Orangette, "The universe does not need another recipe for a banana baked something. And yet." In my defense, I did not conceive the recipe, only the product. So I can't be accused of bringing it into being.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
This bread is conducive to most mix-ins you could desire. I tried white chocolate chips for an out-of-the-ordinary experience, but unfortunately even the ones labeled "baking" melted into the batter, creating a doughy, half-baked product, which is desirable to some and not to others.
  • 1 1/2 cups overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a loaf pan.

2) In a mixing bowl, stir together the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add dry to wet and stir just until combined. 

3) Pour batter into pan. Bake for at least 30 minutes, maybe more, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning loaf out onto a wire rack.

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