Last day of the year! We're wrapping up that weird week between Christmas and New Year's where everything has been a little bit slower than normal. We have some baking to do today that I will refer to as lemon bar redemption. More on that another time, but this week's baking feature was this chocolate cupcake. We baked the super moist chocolate cupcake recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. Wonderful. These cupcakes came out perfect. We modified a little bit by splitting the extracts between mint and vanilla. We also put half of a thin mint Oreo on the bottom of the baking cup before baking and we topped this with our own minty marshmallow buttercream and the other half of the Oreo. All of this combined created a winter perfect minty hot cocoa cupcake and a perfect ending to our Christmas baking this year.
Although it might sound cliche and you're likely hearing about this everywhere today, I like to pause on New Year's Eve to think about another year passing and a new one on the way. This year has brought me a lot to be thankful for and a few tough surprises along the way that remind me how precious time and life is. We're just a few hours away from hearing Auld Lang Syne as the clock passes midnight and we feel the blank canvas of 2018 beginning.
I'm taking a different spin on resolutions here and thinking about some things I want to attempt and learn about on my baking journey this year:
I've made plenty of Irish brown bread and other varieties of breads and rolls over the years, but I've yet to invest in and nurture a sourdough starter. It seems tricky and precise, which intimidates me a tad (ok, more than a tad), but the slow process of making sourdough bread intrigues me. I feel like this on demand world needs more things like sourdough bread so I'm going to slow down and give it a try!
One of the little Sunday Bakers is quite intrigued with Paris lately....maybe even obsessed. This leaves us looking at all sorts of pictures and inspiration for French bakeries and pastries, and we are particularly smitten with the macaron. We tried some from a bakery back in June and they were light as air with the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor. I'm anticipating that this one will take us a few tries but I think it will be a fun project together.
Ok, this one isn't exactly in the category of baking but it's a kitchen adventure that's been on my mind anyway so I'm expanding my horizons a little bit here. I'm not an expert about the famous Julia Child but I love learning about her and I loved the movie Julie & Julia. When I do watch TV, I enjoy food and baking shows, but there's so much out there now that it's kind of overwhelming. What I love about catching an old Julia Child clip is how natural it is. Although the shows of today are amazing, Julia Child's TV kitchen chronicles had less editing and polish. There were more messes, bloopers and raw moments, which I love...because I'm a total mess in the kitchen. There's flour and sugar everywhere...the dogs bark and jump up to the counter, a little one cries because it was her turn to dump the sugar in and not her sister's, and then I sometimes find myself wondering "Wait, am I on my second or third cup of flour?" (I remember once that the mini-chaos left me forgetting to add any sugar or sweetener to a recipe....you can imagine how that tasted). Raw. Messy. Real. Thank you Julia. We will add this to the 2018 kitchen adventures.
I wish you and your loved ones a healthy and happy 2018!
And here we are at December 24th already! This year has been an incredible year with so much to be thankful for. I'm grateful for many things and also excited that I took this plunge into this little baking blog of mine. Thank you for your support and encouragement one recipe and photo at a time.
We have been busy in the kitchen this weekend and we aren't done yet. Our Christmas cookies for Santa are ready though, which is very important...obviously. I use the same cookie recipe every year and it never fails. I came across this 1979 Betty Crocker baking book at a flea market years ago and I love it. The recipe in the book calls for shortening but I substitute my Kerrygold Irish Butter...because it's my thing and I think it makes for some great cookies!
Once they cool, it's time to frost and decorate. I have used both color flow and royal icing on these cookies before, but I went for a classic buttercream with orange & vanilla extract this year. Then I put the little hands of the house to work with the sprinkles and holiday sugar. I think they did a pretty great job.
Today, my brother is coming for brunch and I strongly feel that Christmas Eve brunch requires cake. This isn't just any old brunch, right? The go-to white cake recipe I use is from Goodie Godmother. I've tried a number of recipes for cake from scratch and I found that many of my white cakes were coming out heavy until I found this one. This recipe comes together very nicely and it's very versatile by using different extracts, fillings and frosting.
In keeping with holiday flavors, this is a 3 layer naked white cake flavored with orange extract, filled with homemade cranberry filling and frosted with the same orange & vanilla buttercream used on the cookies. The tree accents were loosely piped with melted chocolate and then set in the freezer until time to decorate. The cranberries were tossed in a simple syrup of sugar and water and then sprinkled with sugar for a snowy look. Simple and festive.
From our family to yours, we wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy new year filled with joy, inspiration, creativity and love.
Who has their shopping all done??? Not me!! Well, I'm in good shape, but still have a number of little things to pick up and remember to do....and bake of course. I had the family Christmas photos done....but haven't made the cards yet. I tell myself every year that "this year will be different" and I will get it all done earlier. Oh well.
The temps have dropped, the snow has fallen and 'tis the season for cozy recipes. Banana bread is one of the first things I think of when winter sets in and my kids love it. It makes a super quick breakfast for school mornings so I regularly fill my freezer with bananas just as they turn over ripe to wait for an extra few minutes for some baking time. I also find banana bread to be an incredibly versatile recipe with many options to accommodate tastes and preferences. I've made whole wheat banana bread, banana bread with chocolate chips, oatmeal banana bread, refined sugar free banana bread, grain free and the list can go on and on.
Today's version of the classic banana bread is a vegan, gluten free recipe sweetened with a vanilla glaze that adds just a hint of that dessert feeling to make it worthy of a holiday brunch.
Vegan Gluten Free Banana Bread
(makes 1 loaf- approx. 6-8 servings)
Ingredients for the Bread
-1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 GF flour)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 TBS cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-3 TBS flax meal
-3 TBS water
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup olive oil
-3 over ripe bananas (plus extra slices for garnish if you like)
Ingredients for the Glaze
- 1 cup confectionary sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2-3 TBS unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf pan with non-stick plant based cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together the flax meal and water. Set aside for a few minutes to thicken (this flax egg recipe is adapted from the Minimalist Baker). In a large bowl, stir together your gluten free flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. Using a high powered blender, place the following ingredients in the blender in this order: the overly ripe bananas, olive oil, vanilla extract, flax eggs and sugars. Blend until incorporated (if you don't have a high powered blender, you can mix the wet ingredients separately with a stand or hand mixer, but a blender like a Vitamix makes the recipe super easy and minimal dishes!).
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix by hand with a rubber spatula until a thick batter forms. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and top with the optional slices of bananas as a garnish. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool further on a wire rack. While the loaf is cooling, mix together your glaze by combining the confectionary sugar, vanilla extract and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Stir until a smooth glaze is formed.
For best results, glaze right before serving. Slice and enjoy! Good luck with the rest of your holiday preparations!
New England wife, mom & home baker. Faith, food, fitness, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.