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Adventures in Pastry School January 26, 2012

So, I’ve been slacking a bit on this whole blog thing, but I have a really good reason: last October I started pastry school!  I am currently enrolled in a six month program at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, and it is amazing.  I’m having so much fun and learning all sorts of new tricks.  There are days when I get frustrated with my abilities, or lack there of, but most days it’s a blast.  I can’t wait to go to class each day and see what I’m going to learn.  I don’t really have a lot of free time to write posts most days, so I’ve been saving up pictures of all of my finished products to share with you now.  Enjoy!


Bake Sale for Japan Contributions! March 23, 2011

I have finally decided what I will be contributing to the Online Bake Sale for Japan!  I thought I would give you a little sneak peak of my contributions with some info on each.  Recipes will follow shortly.  Be sure to check the site in the days leading up to the auction on the 30th to see all of the treats up for bid.

The first time I made this Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Bread I fell in love with it.  I now feel the need to make it about once a week.  Sometimes I even make two and store one in the freezer in case I’m having a banana bread emergency and just need to eat some…right now.  This bread is moist and slightly dense, as any good banana bread should be, and completely free of eggs and dairy.  (Two loaves available.)

If you love the crunch, crumble, and buttery goodness of shortbread cookies, but don’t eat dairy or eggs, these Vegan Shortbread Cookies are for you.  They get their buttery taste and flaky crumble from butter flavored vegetable shortening,  are completely egg and dairy free, and made with natural, raw sugar.  They’re especially good with a little jam on top!  You will receive 20 shortbreads in a decorative tin.

Jam is something I always have in my pantry.  It’s so very versatile.  I particularly love to use it to dress up cookies.  This Set of Four Jams would be a perfect addition to your pantry.  The flavors include: Strawberry Balsamic, Lemon Curd, Mango Cinnamon, and Blueberry Lime.  These jams have been canned and will last up to a year, but I expect they will be long gone before then.  Except for the Lemon Curd, they are egg and dairy free.  (Four sets available.)

Whenever an overwhelming urge to bake cookies starts to come over me, I make Blackberry Jam Thumbprints.  They are seriously delicious and everyone loves them.  They are soft, crumbly cookies with a sweet jam center.  The cookies are rolled in white sparkling sugar before baking to give them a little crunch.  These bite-sized cookies are so good I could easily eat a dozen in one sitting, so I am going to ship you three dozen in a decorative tin.

Homemade marshmallows are a necessity in life; they are just so much better than store-bought.  They’re soft and pillowy and just slightly chewy, plus they make the cutest S’mores!  Homemade S’mores are the most requested sweet from all of my friends.  I’ll be shipping a dozen of these in a decorative tin to ensure the marshmallows stay fresh.



Bake Sale for Japan: Vegan Banana Bread March 21, 2011



As I stated in my last post, I’m participating in an online bake sale to benefit earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.  Sabrina, from The Tomato Tart, is the organizer of this amazing and generous idea and she has brought together a very talented group of bakers that are donating their time, supplies, finished products, and shipping costs to this cause.  The silent auction will be taking place on her site on March 30th, so be sure to stop by and bid!  If you’re interested in participating, email her at bakesale@thetomatotart.com.  If you would like to know more about the bake sale, visit her website for details or check out this article from SF Weekly.

I have started preparing my example goodies, and I’m super excited about sharing them with you!  First on the list is Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Bread.  I know what you are thinking: “whole wheat? vegan? Sounds too healthy to taste like anything other than cardboard.”  Well, you’re wrong.  It’s amazing!  This particular banana bread is based on Ezra Pound Cake’s Banana Foster Bread, which is by all means delicious and surprisingly low in fat for a dessert, but I wanted to make it even healthier due to a movement in our house to eat better, so whole wheat and vegan it is.  The first time I made this bread I fell in love with it.  I now feel the need to make it about once a week.  Sometimes I even make two and store one in the freezer in case I’m having a banana bread emergency and just need to eat some…right now.  It is amazing hot, cold, even frozen (yes, I admit I have eaten banana bread right out of the freezer.  I have no self control.)  If I’m feeling really naughty, I spread it with some Irish butter or even some cream cheese, however that negates the Vegan and healthy aspects of this bread, but it’s oh so good.

I will be donating two loaves of this amazing Vegan Banana Bread to the online bake sale.  Drop by on the 30th and bid, so you too can fall in love with its banana-y goodness!

Here’s what you need:

(makes two 9 x 5 loaves)

3 cups mashed bananas (about 6)

2 cups brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup dark rum

2/3 cup vegan yogurt such as  Whole Soy

4 Tbls ground flax seed plus 6 Tbls water (this is the egg substitute)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbls brown sugar for sprinkling

Here’s what you do:

In a large skillet, combine bananas, rum, and 1 cup brown sugar.  Cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

While this is cooling, combine the 4 Tbls flax seed with 6 Tbls water in a small bowl and whisk until the mixture thickens.  It should be the same consistency as beaten eggs.

In a large mixing bowl, combine banana mixture, 1 cup brown sugar, vegan yogurt, and egg substitute.  Beat with a mixer on medium speed until combined.

Combine the dry ingredients (minus the 2 Tbls brown sugar) in a medium bowl and add to the banana mixture.  Mix until just combined.

Pour batter into two sprayed 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and sprinkle with the 2 Tbls brown sugar.  This gives the top a nice sheen and a little crunch.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.


Autumnal Bliss and Banana Bread November 5, 2010

Filed under: baking,bread,fruit — dulcisserenus @ 8:47 pm
Tags: , ,

Autumn is definitely my favorite time of year.  I love the colorful changes in the foliage, the shorter days, and the crisp, cool weather that makes baking so much more pleasurable as the oven heats up the chilly kitchen.  I was really starting to miss the cold, autumn weather of Kansas when Texas (my new home) was suddenly hit by a cold front.  It is finally starting to feel like the autumns of my childhood; the autumn that I love.  In honor of this wonderful change in weather, I have have been baking…a lot.  Last week I made this Banana Bread, and it made the whole house smell like a grandmother’s kitchen.  The perfect beginning of autumn is curling up on a couch with a blanket, a good book, and a warm mini loaf of banana bread.  I suggest you try it.

Here’s what you need:


1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium)

2 large eggs

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey (if you measure the oil first, the honey doesn’t stick to the cup)

Crumb Topping:

2 1/2 Tbls. packed brown sugar

2 Tbls. sugar

1 tps. cinnamon

Here’s what you do:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees if you are using a dark or non-stick coated pan.  Because this recipe has honey in it, there is a greater chance of it burning around the edges, so I always use the lower temperature.  Spray the inside of your baking pan and set it aside.

To make the bread, whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl until they are well combined and set them aside.  (In this case, the sugar is considered a dry ingredient as opposed to normally being considered a wet ingredient.)  In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork and add to it the rest of the wet ingredients.  Be sure to whisk the ingredients together until they are fairly smooth.  Add your dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir them until they are well blended.

Transfer the batter to your pan and set aside while you make the topping.

To make the topping, mix together the topping ingredients until combined, leaving a few bigger chunks of brown sugar to make a crumble.  Sprinkle the topping over your prepared batter.

Bake the bread until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If you are making one, large loaf, this will take about one hour.  I used a mini loaf pan, which cooked for 35 minutes.  Cool the bread in the pan until it is cool enough to handle: about 30 minutes for a large loaf, or 10 to 15 for the mini loafs.  When you remove the bread from the pan, you may lose some of the topping.  Just place it back on top of the bread and it will stick as it cools.  The bread can be enjoyed for up to a week if stored in an air-tight container.


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