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Archive for July, 2011

The older I get, the more cynical I get over these grandiose displays that go on around the city.  I find the crowds that gather for things like fireworks and festivals to be almost unbearable and the thought of having to shuffle my way out of such events makes me cringe.  I still like to celebrate and have fun, though!  I just prefer gathering with friends for a nice little bbq and drinks and desserts.  And if I see some fireworks over the highway on the way home?  Well, that would be pretty perfect.

But what’s the fourth of July without a red, white, and blue-themed dessert?  A day off?  For many people, yes, but for those that have to work AND don’t get any patriotic cake?  It’s a sad, sad world.

That’s why I’ve got this one covered.  I didn’t want to get too crazy with my cake (at least not this year) so I decided to keep it  deliciously simple with a wonderful berry vanilla cake.  Yum!

Berry Vanilla Cake

2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup (nonfat) plain Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup milk
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (heaping) blueberries
1/2 cup (heaping) raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light. Beat in egg and egg white. Stir in yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, then fold the raspberries and blueberries into the remaining batter carefully. Spread berry batter evenly over the plain batter in the cake pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool cake for 15 minutes in the pan then turn it out onto a serving plate before frosting.
Spread an even layer of cream cheese frosting over the cake and garnish with fresh berries (or with an enormous amount of colored sanding sugar to create an abstract American flag).

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk or cream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Cream together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually blend in confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and creamy.

Slightly adapted from Baking Bites.

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Buzzed Bananas

This is round two of my banana haul.  I’m slightly obsessed with sweet breads so I sort of stuck to the same theme and went with a muffin recipe.  This recipe is nice because it’s not overly heavy but is incredibly satisfying.  I think it’s right up there with the banana bread that I just made.  Definitely give these a go — they’re perfect for breakfast or as a snack or even dinner if that’s how you roll.  I’m not judging.

Espresso Banana Muffins 

4 medium bananas, mashed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, sugars, applesauce, milk, and egg.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, instant espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips.  Add to the banana mixture. Stir until just combined.

Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or a spoon, fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Move the muffin pan to a cooling rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack. Store muffins in an airtight container.  Feel free to freeze these if you won’t be using them within a few days.  Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Handle the Heat.

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Sometimes there are these deals that I find that are just too good to pass up.  Like when I find a great big armful of bananas already ripened and ready to go in the “reduced” section of the supermarket for $1.69.  What!  $1.69?  Yes, $1.69.  I think there were 50 bananas in the pack I picked up.  Maybe 15.  But still awesome.

So what will follow is a series of baked goods utilizing my wonderfully sweet haul.  The first had to be a banana bread because, well, COME ON, it’s banana bread.  It’s the bread that wafts through the house, bringing children and adults sniffing through the air, wondering when they can get their hands on some of that goodness.  And I’ve gotta say, this is some of the best banana bread I’ve made.  I may have even witnessed some swooning over this bread.  Although, it could have just been the hot weather.

Coconut Banana Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Set the oven at 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt to blend them.  Mix in chocolate chips then set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter, olive oil, and sugars until the mixture is light in color. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla, bananas, and coconut.  Stir in the flour mixture until just blended.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake the bread for approximately 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes away with just a few small crumbs. Cool the bread on a rack for 20 minutes. Turn it out and set it right side up on the rack to cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from a Black Dinah Cafe recipe.

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