dominique ansel’s banana bread

ansel banana bread

As you may have heard, the great Dominique Ansel recently released the recipe for his infamous cronuts. The recipe takes three days, four rises, a deep fryer, and something called a “butter block”. Oh, and let’s not forget to make the glaze and the flavored sugar.

While I may never eat (and will more likely never make) a cronut, what I was more interested in was his much simpler, more approachable recipe for the great and humble banana bread. Because the one thing everyone needs is yet another banana bread recipe, right?

I mean, it’s not like I don’t already have not one but two recipes for banana bread right here on this very site, but I was intrigued. I mean, how amazing can banana bread really be?

I became even more intrigued as I continued reading the recipe… no vanilla, no brown sugar, not even a hint of cinnamon. Clearly this was some sort of trick. Would Mr. Eats even eat a quickbread that wasn’t covered in streusel? I wasn’t sure…

I fought off my urge to tinker with every fiber of my being… No, Natalie, we aren’t adding vanilla. Or brown sugar. That “dash of cinnamon” is definitely off the table – If the great Dominique Ansel doesn’t need it, then neither do I gosh darnit!

ansel banan bread 2

After I congratulated myself on completing a recipe from start to finish by actually following the directions and not tinkering with a single ingredient… I tossed it in the oven and prepared myself for disappointment. I was ready to laugh and scoff and bring Chef Ansel down a peg.

Well color me wrong because this stuff is like banana gold. It turns out, apparently, that you don’t actually need any vanilla, or streusel, or cinnamon. All you need is bananas, flour, sugar, eggs and love. And lots of butter. You’ll definitely be needing that butter. And an over-sized loaf pan (my puny 8 by 5 would not do. Luckily I found some old larger loaf pan that, judging from the looks of it, I can only assume came from my mom or possibly a bomb shelter.

The loaf baked up with an incredibly light and tender crumb on the inside and a delightfully crisp exterior. I was a bit lazy about the banana-mashing so I still had a few chunks of banana, but i like it that way.

It is pure banana essence baked into loaf form and more than anything else – it is addictive.

Score one for Chef Ansel. I’m so sorry I ever doubted you.

ansel bread 4

Since I assumed that his cookbook would be full of cronuts and other complex things that frankly I get tired just thinking about… I had already decided that I wasn’t going to purchase it. However, now that I realize that there could be more gems in there like this banana bread,  I should probably just pre-order it now.

dominique ansel’s banana bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10" x 5" x 3 ½" loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking to combine.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in mashed bananas.
  4. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently fold the mixture until the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Add the melted butter to the flour and banana mixture, and stir until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to complete cooling.

Notes

This recipe was found on Tasting Table

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/18/dominique-ansels-banana-bread/

pumpkin pie bread pudding

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Last week I was forced to thaw my pumpkin challah ahead of schedule in order to complete its photo-op and I knew that re-freezing it really wasn’t an option. Since I didn’t want all of the challah to go to waste I had to do something with it (poor me), so I went to the easy option: bread pudding.

I took my other bread pudding recipe and adapted it slightly… well, by “adapted” I mean “poured a can of pumpkin into”… That counts as “adapted,” right?

I also switched from white sugar to brown because, to me, pumpkin just screams “BROWN SUGAR” and reduced the liquids a bit to make up for the additional liquid provided by the pumpkin puree. I probably could have reduced the liquids a bit more since I had originally planned to only had 1 cup of pumpkin puree… then I got tired thinking of what I would do with the rest of the can of pumpkin and just dumped the rest of it in.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? There is some real science going on here, guys.

I worried that it might be too much liquid, and maybe it was, the pudding took way longer than others have to bake, although that could have been because I insisted on opening the oven door every ten minutes to check on it. (Shame on me, I should know better.)

I’ve included the recipe as I made it below, along with some notes in case you’re interested in scaling back on the liquid.

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So I took the pudding out of the oven with trepidation, terrified that it was going to be a soggy, soupy mess. Then, after I let it cool off a bit on a wire rack I popped into the fridge to firm up. This step is important…

The refrigerator is where the magic happens.

In the refrigerator, what was once a warm bread pudding transforms into some sort of magical bread pudding/pumpkin pie hybrid. The top of the pudding stays wonderfully crisp while the bottom turned into what I can only describe as pumpkin pie.

Like, literally, the exact taste and texture of a creamy pumpkin pie.

It. was. amazing.

The refrigerator also has the added bonus of firming up the bread pudding enough for you to actually slice and serve it versus having to scoop it with a spoon.  Slicing the pudding also makes freezing it an option. If that’s your thing, you can see my notes on freezing the bread pudding at the end of the recipe.

pumpkin bread pudding 7504

I topped my bread pudding with a healthy dollop of freshly-whipped cream (spiked with some cinnamon).  I suspect that a scoop of ice cream or creme anglaise would be a nice touch, too.

pumpkin pie bread pudding

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 casserole, 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 cups stale bread (I used pumpkin challah)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Instructions

  1. Cut bread into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the bread and cinnamon chips.
  3. Once combined, add the bread and cinnamon chips; toss to coat.
  4. Pour into greased baking dish and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to overnight).
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325F. While the oven is preheating, set the bread pudding on the counter to take the chill off.
  6. Once the oven is preheated, remove plastic wrap from bread pudding and cover pudding with aluminum foil bake 20 minutes covered, then remove cover and bake for an additional 30 -50 minutes, until the bread pudding no longer releases liquid when pressed and the internal temperature reaches 165F.
  7. Cool bread pudding on a wire rack for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve (4 hours or up to overnight). This is where the magic happens.
  8. When ready to serve, either reheat individual servings of bread pudding for about 30 seconds each (being careful not to overheat them) in the microwave or reheat the entire pan in the oven by placing it in a cool oven, covered with aluminum foil. Set oven to 350 and by the time your oven is heated the bread pudding should be warmed through (you can poke it to check, if you like).
  9. Serve with creme anglaise, ice cream, or cinnamon-spiced whipped cream.

Notes

My bread pudding came out beautifully, but you could easily make the following modifications if you are short on any ingredients, however your cooking time may be slightly less: - You could use just 1 cup of pumpkin puree instead of one whole can, keeping other liquid ingredients the same - If you are using a full can of pumpkin puree, you could easily get away with reducing the whole milk and cream by another 1/4 cup each (or just reducing one by a half cup) - You could use all heavy cream or sub in half-and-half instead of using a mixture of heavy cream and whole milk

*As is - this recipe will create a nice crust on top of the bread pudding. If you prefer to not have a crusty top to your bread pudding, leave it covered for the entire baking time.

*The bread pudding magic really happens after its chill in the fridge, so you could serve it fresh from the oven but I strongly recommend the chill. This is what transforms the lower portion to the texture of pumpkin pie.

*You can (and I did) wrap individual servings of bread pudding tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them to enjoy later. Place in refrigerator to thaw and then heat for 30 seconds in the microwave (or warm in the oven).

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/14/pumpkin-pie-bread-pudding/

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pumpkin challah

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‘Tis the season for pumpkin and I’ve been practicing my bread braiding lately so naturally my next step would be to braid pumpkin. I mean, duh, obviously.

I believe challah is traditionally a four-rope braid and, although my skills are vastly improved from my first attempt, I have not quite achieved that level of skill yet. So, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I stuck with practicing my three rope braid. Next time I think I will be ready to level up my skills to four ropes.

Having never made challah, apparently there are about a bajillion different recipes and a katrillion ways to make it, so basically every source of research was useless to me. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to keep it dairy-free, because I feel like if you’re putting dairy in your challah it is no longer challah.

Not that it isn’t some other dairy-licious egg bread, it’s just not challah. Not really. And why would I want to have not-challah when I was craving challah?

pumpkin challah 0007

The end result was surprisingly good, especially when you take into consideration that I had almost no idea what I was doing. It had the perfect challah texture that I was looking for. Though the pumpkin gives the bread a stunning orange hue, the pumpkin’s flavor wasn’t overly pronounced. In fact, if you left out the cinnamon and spices you could easily serve it alongside dinner.  Either version will transform beautifully into french toast or bread pudding, but more on that coming later.

This bread, like all bread, is best eaten the day its made but will freeze beautifully as well. Since I lost my memory card last weekend when I made this bread, these pictures are actually from my defrosted loaf.

pumpkin challah

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf challah

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package instant dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks, whites reserved
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon neutral vegetable oil; divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup, reserved
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

    Make the dough
  1. Mix yeast with water and sugar; set aside 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat in the pumpkin, 3 tablespoons oil, honey, eggs, yolks, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and beat on low until combined. Add additional cup and continue beating until combined.
  4. Continue adding remaining 2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, kneading until smooth and elastic.
  5. If the dough is too wet and stick, continue adding last cup of flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough becomes smooth. I actually ended up dumping mine out onto the counter to knead by hand so that I could judge the texture better. You want it to be soft enough to keep a dent when your finger pokes it, but not sticky enough to stick to your finger.
  6. Once desired consistency is reached, pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a large bowl. Add dough to bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm place until doubled in size 60 to 90 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough
  8. Once doubled in size, gentlly punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly-floured surface.
  9. Divide into 3 equal portions, and roll each into a 14 to 17-inch rope. (You could do a 4 or more ropes of dough but I'm not that skilled).
  10. Once braided, place onto baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to proof until doubled in size, another 60 - 90 minutes.
  11. When nearing the end of the bread proofing time, preheat the oven to 375 F. I usually set mine above the stove and turn the stove on about 30 minutes into proofing. The heat from the stove warms the top of the oven just enough to give my bread an extra boost.
  12. Beat remaining two egg whites. Brush bread with egg white and place into oven. Bake 40 to 50 minutes.
  13. Check on the bread at the 30 minute mark, if it is browning too quickly tent with foil and continue cooking. You can tell the bread is done when it is a beautiful deep golden brown and is firm and hollow when tapped. The internal temperature should be around 190F, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Notes

This bread, like all bread, is best eaten the day it is baked but will freeze beautifully as well. To freeze bread, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then again in foil to freeze. Thaw bread still wrapped at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

If you don't want to make this all in one day, you could allow the bread to do its first rise overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before proceeding with shaping the dough.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/07/pumpkin-challah/

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irish soda bread

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Tis the season for corned beef and cabbage, for green beer and green socks, and for soda bread.

Irish soda bread, to be exact.

For those of you who aren’t aware – Irish soda bread is a yeast-free bread, sometimes sweet and sometimes not, that is leavened with baking soda (hence the “soda” bread) and usually filled with things like raisins and caraway.  It has a bit of a reputation for being dense, dry, and bland.

I know what you’re thinking, “MY GOD THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS! WHERE CAN I GET SOME!?”

Clearly nostalgia is playing a role in my desire to stuff my face with biscuit-like slices of dense flavorless bread.  However, since I was going to have a whole loaf of the stuff laying around, I wanted to make it palatable enough for FH to enjoy as well. Especially after he said that it sounded “absolutely awful”… and I really couldn’t argue with him on that topic.

Though soda bread is a popular Irish recipe, it’s not necessarily the most beloved St. Patty’s Day food on the planet.

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So,  I decided to get to work on making an improved version of the traditional Irish soda bread. Our typical soda bread which is basically flour, butter, a bit of sugar, baking soda, caraway seeds, and raisins… got a bit of an overhaul.

Ok, maybe a lot of an overhaul.

I added buttermilk and egg to improve the texture, upped the sugar to increase the sweetness (read: flavor), nixed the caraway (but then felt guilty and added a pinch of cardamom), and replaced the rage-inducing raisins with dried cherries and currants. I tried really hard to think of a green dried fruit, and debated dying some golden raisins green (you know, for St. Patty’s Day!) but golden raisins are still raisins and raisins have NO PLACE in my baked goods. Or my life.

Ever.

And although currants are very similar to raisins, I think it’s because they are super small and have a different flavor that they make me less angry. And dried cherries are delicious. Really you could use any fruit you like – I think dried apricots would go well in here, too (plus, I could possibly get them to a passable shade of green, maybe).

The result? Success! Big success.

irish soda bread 1036

Like FH-impressing success. (Although, I’ve been proving him wrong a lot lately)

The resulting bread had a much more tender crumb than your average soda bread with more flavor and a nice well-developed crust on the exterior. So even if you have tried (and disliked) soda bread in the past, give this one a try and I think you might change your mind.

irish soda bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 10-inch round loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cardamom
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup mix-ins (dried fruit of your choice)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add the butter and cut into the dough or incorporate with paddle attachment.
  4. Add the currants and stir to combine.
  5. Add the liquid ingredients (buttermilk, egg, and orange juice) and mix just until the mixture is moistened.
  6. Turn out onto lightly-floured surface and knead gently for a few turns (about 5 to 10 turns) until the dough forms a cohesive ball.
  7. Transfer dough ball to parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into 1-inch thick disk. Cut an "x" into the top of the dough, about 1/4-inch deep.
  8. Bake 35-45 minutes until exterior is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

I mixed this in my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, but you could easily use a large bowl and wooden spoon.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/04/irish-soda-bread/

 soda bread pin

cranberry orange pull apart bread

 

cran orange 3-3-2

Yes, I KNOW that we JUST had pull-apart bread.  But, you see, since my recipe make two loaves, and it’s delicious, and… you can never have too much of a good thing.

Or something. I think that’s how it goes, right?

I’ve been trying out this whole “orange-cranberry” thing that everyone’s been talking about… and apparently everyone in the whole world loves but I had never heard of… turns out they were onto something.

So, I give to you, the cranberry-orange pull-apart bread… also known as “the longest-named-bread-in-all-the-land.”  Also known as, “The only thing that saved my first loaf from being completely devoured.”  Also known as, actually no, that’s all it’s known as.

When the fiance asked what I was making and I said “cranberry orange bread” he was super unexcited and responded much like any small child normal adult would, with extreme prejudice and skepticism.

Apparently I wasn’t the only person on the planet who hadn’t combined oranges and cranberries into delicious.

CRAN ORANGE 5-2

So, if there are anymore of you out there, I’m here to let you know that I put oranges with cranberries.  And it was delicious.

Even the fiance loved it.

I wasn’t sure if there would be enough moisture in the mix to rehydrate them, and there wasn’t.  While the bread was still very good, I think it would have benefitted from the juicy berries.  So, I would recommend re-hydrating them in some orange liqueur, orange juice, or even just some water, for about 30 minutes before throwing them into the bread.

CRAN ORANGE 3-3.2

Alternatively, you could probably use some orange marmalade instead of orange sugar for the filling, or fresh cranberries instead of dried, or leftover cranberry sauce even.  I didn’t have orange marmalade, fresh cranberries, or leftover cranberry sauce, but I did have a bag of oranges and a bag of dried cranberries.

I mean, if cinnamon bread is filled with cinnamon-sugar then clearly orange sugar would be perfect for this, right? So, I zested the oranges into some sugar and VOILA!  Orange sugar was born!  Then I sprinkled the cranberries as best I could and shoved any stragglers into the pan after stacking the dough pieces. 

And again with the glaze.

cranberry orange pull apart bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

This recipe makes 2 loaves but it can easily be halved to make just one loaf, or you can make two different kinds of loaves filled with cinnamon-sugar or pumpkin

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of your favorite cinnamon roll dough (my favorite recipe below)
  • For the dough
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 4 cups + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the filling
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons orange zest (about 3 to 4 large navel oranges)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries* (see note below)
  • 1 stick of butter; softened to room temperature
  • For the glaze
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons milk; plus extra if needed

Instructions

    For the filling
  1. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and orange zest, set aside while you prepare the dough.
  2. In another bowl, reconstitute dried cranberries (optional, but recommended)
  3. For the dough
  4. In a large (8 cup) saucepan, mix the milk, sugar, and vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is steaming. Remove from heat and cool to luke-warm (110-115F degrees), then add the yeast. Stir to combine; let sit 5 minutes to allow yeast to bloom.
  5. Stir 4 cups of flour into the milk mixture and put lid on the pot. Allow to sit for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, add remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour dough out onto a large sheet of saran wrap and wrap dough tightly. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight. (You could also roll the dough out immediately by sprinkling the counter with flour and kneading until the dough is no longer sticky. Once the dough isn't sticky, cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes to allow the dough to rest)
  6. To roll the dough
  7. Pour dough onto lightly-floured surface and separate into two equal halves. Roll one half to a 12 x 20-inch rectangle and cover the other with a kitchen towel to prevent from drying out. Spread softened butter over the dough. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 6 long 2-inch wide strips.
  8. Spoon generous amounts of orange sugar onto one strip of dough and sprinkle with cranberries, top with another strip and sprinkle sugar/cranberries onto that strip. Repeat until all of the strips are in a pile and covered with sugar/cranberries.
  9. Slice the strip of dough into 5 4-inch wide strips. Stack strips tall-wise into a loaf pan. It will be sloppy, they'll flop everywhere, it's OK. I actually propped my bread pan on its side to make the first few strips a little easier.
  10. Repeat with the other half of dough, sugar, cranberries, and butter.
  11. To bake the dough
  12. Cover and let rise 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
  13. Preheat oven to 350F. Once dough has risen and oven is preheated, cook bread 45 to 55 minutes until cooked through. If the top starts to get too brown, lightly tent with a piece of foil and continue cooking.
  14. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to continue cooling.
  15. For the glaze
  16. Mix ingredients together, adding more milk if the mixture is too thick or more powdered sugar if the mixture is too thin.

Notes

*Those of you who thermom your bread want the final temp to be between 190F and 200F.

*Glaze is entirely optional, if you do use a glaze be sure to pour it on while the bread is still nice and warm.

*You can rehydrate dried cranberries by covering with water, or another liquid. Pour liquid over dried cranberries and let stand 30 minutes.

http://wee-eats.com/2013/12/03/cranberry-orange-pull-apart/

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