Banana Bread Again
Saturday 11 October 2008, 7:36 PM
Filed under: bread, fruit

I have a surplus of bananas that came out of nowhere. I just came home one day and there was a whole bunch of bananas. So I made banana bread because I really had no other choice.

Banana Bread
Adapted from Joy of Baking

1 cup chopped pecans
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 ripe large bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk together nuts, flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, mash the bananas, add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined.

Pour the batter into a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes.


Dimply Plum Cake
Thursday 25 September 2008, 12:03 PM
Filed under: cake, fruit

I went to an orchard with my parents and we walked away with almost forty pounds of fruit. Yes… forty pounds of PURE DELICIOUSNESS. While I stocked up on white peaches, my parents bagged up loads of Empress plums. I figured I should try to bake with plums since I had enough to feed a small army, so I chose this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. The cake turned out beautifully and the colors were great.

Dimply Plum Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (oops… I used baking soda….)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional (I used 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup oil (I used plain yogurt)
Grated zest of 1 orange (sadly omitted)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (I used 1 teaspoon)
8 purple/red plums, halved and pitted (my plums were HUGE, so I only used 3)

Center a rack in the oven adn preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted witha  paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a mknute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing onlyuntil they are incorporated.

Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are non dry spots, then scrape the batter in the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes – during which time the plums’ juice will return to the fruit – then run a knife around the sides of a pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Nectarine Galette
Monday 1 September 2008, 9:31 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

I bought my very first pastry blender today so I had to use it. I’ve been on a quest for a good pie dough recipe and I think I may have the one. It’s wonderfully flaky and tender and it was way easier to make than before. I’m going to credit my pastry blender for this galette’s success.

I used three overripe nectarines for the galette filling because they were going to go to waste otherwise. Usually a few tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs are spread on the bottom, but I didn’t have any and substituted crushed pecans to counter the sweetness and tartness of the nectarines and jam.

Pie Dough (for two 9-inch crusts or 10-inch pie; slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 (8 tablespoons) vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup ice cold water (only 6-8 tablespoons will be used)

Make sure the butter and shortening are very cold. You can dice the butter and shortening and freeze them for about half an hour.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives, or a food processor. You want something that looks like coarse cornmeal.

Mix the vinegar and cold water. Fold in six tablespoons of the water mixture into the flour/butter mixture with a spatula until the dough comes together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times to bring the dough together.

Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for at least an hour.

Nectarine Galette

3 large nectarines, pitted and sliced
2-3 tablespoons jam
2-3 tablespoons crushed pecans (you can use graham cracker crumbs)
1 pie crust (recipe above)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Roll out the pie dough into a fairly large circle. Spread the jam in the middle, about 11-inches wide. Sprinkle the crushed pecans over the jam. Place the nectarine slices decoratively on top. Fold the edges over the nectarine slices. Brush the dough with milk.

Place the galette on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.

Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Tuesday 26 August 2008, 7:48 PM
Filed under: cookies/bars, fruit

I made these for the one and only Cookie Monster I know. The recipe is slightly adapted from this. The cookies are deliciously soft and chewy. You can really taste the cloves, so if you don’t like them, omit them. I think they needed more raisins though.

Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F. Soak raisins in juice (I used cranberry-grape juice) if desired and drain after ten minutes.

Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients except for the oats and raisins. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir in the oats and raisins.

Place about a tablespoonful of dough on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Strawberry and Blackberry Scones
Saturday 9 August 2008, 6:01 PM
Filed under: fruit, muffins/scones

I saw these on Irene’s blog and I had to give them a try (I also had a huge amount of fruit leftover from my Trader Joe’s fruit shopping spree). I didn’t have heavy cream and I was too lazy to go out and buy some, so I substituted it with milk. The scones ended up being light and fluffy (not like the dense ones I’ve eaten) and the dough complemented the fruit very nicely. Yuuuummmm.

Berry Tart
Friday 8 August 2008, 6:00 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

My first tart! It was exciting and a more or less successful experiment. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s infamous book Baking: From My Home to Yours and it called for a pastry cream filling… but there was no way I was gonna crack open six eggs to start that, so I settled for vanilla pudding, haha.

The crust was not bad. The vanilla pudding was too sweet so I’ll have to make adjustments next time. But the fruit was absolutely DIVINE. I am a fruit-aholic. Also… who loves Trader Joe’s? I love Trader Joe’s.

Sweet Tart Dough
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in- you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal fakes and others the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses- about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy handed- press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferable longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Blueberry Pie
Sunday 3 August 2008, 2:20 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

This is the first time I’ve ever made pie crust from scratch and I’m pretty pleased with the results. It wasn’t super flaky, but the taste and texture complemented the filling very nicely. The blueberries themselves are sweet already, so I cut back a lot on the sugar. The filling ended up being slightly sweet and tart, just the way my mom likes it. It appears a little runny, but that’s because I didn’t wait for it to cool completely.

The pie crust recipe is from Beyond Salmon. The page features step-by-step photos so it’s a great help. I followed the recipe exactly because I was pretty paranoid in messing up. When making the lattice structure, I looked at Simply Recipes.

The blueberry filling is adapted from the recipe featured on Cooking Light.

Ingredients (Blueberry Filling)

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare the pie dough.
  3. Combine all the ingredients for the blueberry filling.
  4. Put the filling inside the pie dish that has been lined with half of dough.
  5. Form the lattice structure with other half of dough.
  6. Place pie on a baking sheet (in case the filling overflows).
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.