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Just like everyone else, I also have a long list my tried and tested [and improved!] banana bread recipes but that does not stop me from tinkering with a new recipe whenever I have some ageing bananas around. While I am not adverse to nuts in my banana bread, I tend to sidestep walnuts in favor of pecans or hazelnuts. Similarly, instead of chocolate chips, I will invariably resort to chopped dark chocolate or even Nutella because they melt to form larger pockets of chocolaty goodness. This particular recipe is part of the Bon Appétit collection of baking essentials and gets its signature taste from the earthy tones of unrefined dark brown sugar. A liberal dose of mascarpone cheese helps to keep the texture moist without the batter turning dense or sticky which, I believe, can only be the hallmark of a ‘best’ banana bread.

BA’s BEST BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup mascarpone or Greek yogurt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 large very ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 8 ½” x 4½” loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment.

  • Leave a generous overhang on long sides. Whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

  • Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the brown sugar, mascarpone, and butter in a bowl.

  • Beat till light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition.

  • Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

  • Add bananas and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate and walnuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

  • Smooth top and bake bread until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, for 60-65 minutes.

  • Transfer pan to a wire rack and let bread cool in pan 1 hour. Turn out bread and let it cool completely.

Bon Appetit’s Best Banana Bread

My recipe for this Mauritian old school recipe was among the first I posted on this blog some 8 years back. The warm sticky pudding, known as poudine dipain, fondly brings back memories from one’s childhood, possibly involving siblings fighting over the largest piece. With more mothers joining the workforce, the art of making homemade treats for kids as they come back from school has slowly faded away. To keep our lepok lontan traditions alive, I wanted to share this classic recipe from Confessions of a Foodaholic where Sharmeen passes on her dad’s poudine dipain through simple fail-proof instructions. Because I cannot imagine my poudine without its caramel base, I felt compelled to tweak the recipe and swirled my pan with a good measure of caramelized sugar before pouring in the batter.

BREAD PUDDING/ POUDINE DIPAIN

Ingredients:

2 baguettes or 4 pains maison

2 cups full cream milk powder

1 cup granulated white sugar

125g butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups cold water

Method:

  • Cut the baguette or pain maison into thick slices and leave to soak in cold water for about 1 hours.

  • Remove from water and drain well to remove any excess of water. Place in a bowl and mash slightly.

  • Add the milk powder, sugar, vanilla extract and mix till evenly combined. Stir in the softened butter.

  • Transfer the pudding mixture to a lightly greased round pan and top with almond flakes if desired.

  • Either bake the pudding in a preheated oven or cook it in bain marie until the surface is almost set.

  • Bake at 200oC for 45 minutes until golden or cook in bain marie for 1 hour, checking for doneness.

  • Leave to cool completely before unmolding on a serving plate and cutting into slices. Serves 8-10.

  • To make a caramel base for the pudding, coat bottom of the pan with melted sugar before baking.

Poudine Dipain/ Bread Pudding

After I was done with my cornmeal pancakes, I still had almost half a bagful of finely ground cornmeal I purchased from a Rodriguan entrepreneur some months back. Contrary to my expectation, the processed corn had a surprisingly long shelf life and I was happy to have a bowl of cornmeal porridge on my list of breakfast items for the next few weeks. When I ran a Google search for ‘cornmeal cake’, this devilishly simple cake from Elegant Meraki stood out a mile and I felt that I had saved the last of my cornmeal just for this one. Liberally soaked in orange honey syrup and topped with pistachios, it has a rich golden crumb, which goes well with an infusion of Bois Cheri’s Paul & Virginie black tea.

ORANGE HONEY CORNMEAL CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cornmeal Cake

1 cup almond flour

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Zest of 1 medium orange

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon orange blossom

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Orange Glaze

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon orange blossom

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

3 tablespoons honey or golden syrup

3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray or line with baking paper.

  • Sift together almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, and set it aside.

  • Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, zest, juice, orange blossom water and extract until it is just combined.

  • Slowly add flour mix and whisk only until just combined. Set aside for 20 minutes then pour into pan.

  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven, set on a wire rack to cool.

  • For the glaze, combine the fresh orange juice and honey in small sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • It will thicken slightly. Stir in the orange blossom water and liqueur. Poke holes in cake, 1/2 inch apart.

  • Using pastry brush to slowly brush glaze over cake. Do not rush the process as it will make cake soggy.

  • Leave the cake to cool completely, then top with toasted pistachios before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Orange & Honey Glazed Cornmeal Cake

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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