banana · bread · breakfast · brunch · brunch ideas · burger · burger patty · french toast · fresh bread · ripe bananas · stuffed

Fresh Bread Smells and Stuffed Food Smiles

fullsizerender-21This weekend I spent some time remembering the smell  of fresh bread walking down the streets of Paris. Since lately I’ve been on this kick of eliminating artificial preservatives I decided to do some research and make my own bread at home, bring the smell of Parisian bakeries to my home. So, I started with one goal in mind, dinner. Ever since last summer, I’ve wanted to try to duplicate the a delicious pork burger I tried at Yard House while visiting Southern California. So I decided to take this pork deliciousness to another level and make some brioche buns for it.

I found a recipe on The New York Times Cooking page. The recipe makes 6-8 buns so since I was only cooking for two I ended up making my own brioche loaf with oats and flax seeds on the side. The outcome? Two beautiful golden brown buns and a delicious loaf of bread with pretty hues of gold and oat shimmer.

I utilized my fresh bread in two different ways: for dinner and brunch the next day. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to make bread so I’m super excited that I got over my fear of yeast and can make it now whenever I want. Note: The only challenge with making bread is time. The amount of time the dough needs to rest is what may discourage, but believe me when I tell you that it is worth it!

img_5467My version of the burger from Yard House: A fresh brioche bun burger with a pork patty stuffed with mozzarella cheese, blueberry ketchup, non spicy candied bacon and spinach.  I think I liked my version much better. Perhaps it was the fresh bun or the pork burger patty that I stuffed with mozzarella cheese; all I know is that I am adding this one to my must-have burgers this summer.

The next day I was looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. There were two things I absolutely needed to use, 2 ripe bananas that have been begging me to use them before they go back and my fresh loaf of bread. I’ve probably never mentioned this, but even though my boyfriend loves everything I make, there is one thing that he’s never liked and that is my french toast. Now, maybe it’s because I enjoy a good challenge or perhaps my competitive nature kicked in, but today would be the day to make him change his mind. Honestly, the thought of my french toast not satisfying anyone has bugged me for years!

My strategy going in was to use the loaf of bread (you can’t deny the power of homemade), stuff it with a banana and maple syrup mix (2 ripe bananas and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup), and revamp my egg mixture. img_5466I replaced my old egg mix with this: 2 Eggs, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and sugar, a splash of almond milk ( which I made a couple of days ago), a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp of vanilla-bourbon extract and a splash of heavy cream. First I cut slices of the loaf of bread, about 1 inch. Then I cut down the middle to create pockets for the mashed bananas/maple syrup mixture. Once I stuffed the bread slices, I dipped in my new and improved egg mix. I buttered a pan and cooked in medium heat for about 5-8 minutes making sure each side is evenly cooked.

Once done I sprinkled with some powdered sugar, fresh blueberries and maple syrup. img_5463-1

These were absolutely delicious and just in case you’re wondering I wasn’t the only one to think so. Yup! after all these years, the french toast redeemed themselves! Ah, the sweet smell of victory is almost as good as the sweet smell of fresh bread. Or is it?

banana nut bread · bread · delicious · dessert · loaf · pastries · ripe bananas · yum

Gone Bananas over my Banana Nut Bread

One of my favorite dessert breads to make is banana nut bread. I make it because I love it or when I have bananas that are way too ripe for anything else, when it’s winter or cold outside because I crave a slice with some hot coffee or tea, by request or just when I’m bored and all the ingredients happen to be at my disposal. I’ve made it close to 50 times if you can believe it, when I actually thought about it, I couldn’t believe it! It’s just so easy that it’s almost dangerous that I’ve memorized the recipe. 
In the last few years, after some trial and error I finally have it down to what may have been the BEST Banana Nut Bread I ever tasted, EVER.  Let’s just say that the moment I was completely seduced and sent to heaven by my first BNB was in the fall of 1998. There was a coffee shop on Powell Street in San Francisco that baked it every morning. I fell in love with BNB the first time I had it with coffee in the back table during my sketching for communications class. The coffee shop eventually closed its doors and I was left broken hearted. Since then I had tried to find the same sweet delight elsewhere, but now I can say I’ve come close to that level of divine perfection. 

(Break to enjoy a bite…mmm…and it’s so spongy too….mmm…ok dust crumbs off…and I’m back)

For the purpose of this post I wanted to test out two things, two different types of vanilla extract and the heat level of my oven because since I moved and I’ve been using a new stove the moisture of my bread was an issue. So, I made this loaf of bread twice. The picture above is the perfected version. The before and after photos below were from the loaf prior or in this case a delicious casualty.  
Ready to try? 

First of all, I use 4 bowls (I know, lots right?) and 3 ripe bananas (if they have dark freckles they are telling you they are ready to be transformed). Break up the bananas a bit in one of the bowls with a fork and then briefly use the blender to make sure the pieces are evenly broken down. Set aside.
Use 1/2 stick of butter at room temperature. Make sure the butter is soft enough, but don’t melt it, I know you will be tempted to. Simply cut it up in small slices and mix with one cup of cane sugar. Use a fork to break down the butter pieces and mix together with the sugar until it becomes a paste or close to it. Use a blender for this and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix 2 eggs (room temperature) with 1 tsp of bourbon-vanilla extract. This extract is the secret ingredient, you can find it at Trader Joe’s. Take this mixture and slowly blend it with the sugar/butter. Now mix in the banana mixture together with a fork until it’s evenly distributed. It will be a yellow and runny mess but you’re almost there. Set aside (yes again!)
In a larger bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix. The with a rubber spatula fold in the sugar-banana mixture to the flour mixture slowly until it’s fully combined. Now take up to 1/4 cup of walnut pieces and fold into the mixture.

Take some butter and coat the loaf pan so the bread can easily come out when it’s done. Pour the banana nut bread mix into the loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45-55 minutes. The time will depend on your oven. When the bread is golden brown insert a toothpick to check. If it comes out clean your bread is ready! Let cool for about 10 minutes and remove from pan. Once the bread has been cooled wrap the loaf of bread in plastic wrap. It will release sugar and butter and give it a yummy tasting coating and it won’t dry. Enjoy and be ready to go bananas for this one, I know I do!

What you’ll need:                                                                              

  • 4 bowls (2 small, 1 med, 1 large)
  • 3 ripe bananas (they should have dark freckles and be soft)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of cane sugar (but regular sugar will do too)
  • 1 tsp of bourbon-vanilla extract (regular vanilla extract is fine)
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick ) of butter
  • 1 loaf pan
  • Walnut pieces (you can also use chopped almonds or pecans)