Old Take on Banana Bread

Yup, that is delicious banana bread on a scratched up plate. Told ya long ago I don’t stage my food items. ūüėā¬† Although, soon those charming 50s countertops won’t be featured in this blog anymore – more on that later!

This recipe has been the most delicious normal-recipe I’ve experimented with – it’s classic banana bread with a wonderful twist. Normally, messing with something as tried and true as banana bread would be off limits, but I was too intrigued with this Joy of Cooking version from my 1975 edition.¬† I absolutely love older editions of this cookbook, as some of the more interesting baking and cooking methods and recipes get lost to newer editions.

What’s so different? Nothing earth-shattering: swapping butter for cooking oil, adding chopped dried apricots, and chopped pistachios.¬† These add-ins were a delightful surprise are sure to become a mainstay in this house.

img_6943

I used 2 eggs and 1-1/4 cups of banana pulp, for denseness and moisture.  The recipe gives a range, depending on how you like your banana bread.  Understanding the science behind your ingredients will make you a better baker, and this is one reason why I really enjoy using the Joy of Cooking, as it reads much like a cooking text-book.  I also really love the blog Kitchn, and this basic entry on eggs illustrates why this blog is great.

My six-year-old daughter told me to leave out the ‘stachios next time, though.¬† Funny, she loves pistachios on their own, but mixing foods together is still a no-no to her.

In other news, the light snow we got yesterday is nearly gone, and I have found green grass in some corners of my yard!¬† I am someone who loves snow, and appreciated yesterday’s beautiful snow fall through my windows, but am also understanding that most of my peers are just simply done with winter at this point in March.

I’m off to ready Easter things for next weekend and finish up some of the last of my grad homework.¬† There is a light at the end of the tunnel now!

Quick Banana Bread – from Joy of Cooking, 1975 edition.

Have all ingredients at about 70ňö.
Heat oven to 350ňö.
Combine:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt
Blend until creamy:
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Beat in:
1 to 2 beaten eggs
1 to 1-1/4 cups ripe banana pulp
Add the dry ingredients in about 3 parts to the sugar mixture.  Beat the batter after each addition until smooth.
Fold in:
1/2 cup chopped pistachios 
1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
Place the batter in a greased loaf pan.  Bake the bread at about 1 hour or until done.  Cool before slicing.

Sweet Cream Cake

I made a lovely, dense, rich cake last weekend from one of my grandma’s cookbooks – there is just something so wonderful about old cookbooks. ¬†The way recipes are described and explained – it so much less detailed and matter-of-fact than any of the modern cookbooks I own. ¬†There was a certain level of assumption about cooking and baking knowledge, that no longer is found in contemporary cooking explanations.

cake

I whipped it up, and frosted it, with an almond flavored butter cream frosting on grandma’s wedding pottery (pictured here), to boot. ¬†Fitting, since the old Joy of Cooking, (1946 edition) this recipe came from was a wedding gift.

image

This photo shows my grandparents РMary and Gene Рon their wedding day, with both sets of their parents.  There is a photo somewhere of my grandmother holding her wedding Joy of Cooking cookbook that I will have to look for.  That would be a nice addition to my kitchen decor, an homage to one of the two people who guided me most in the kitchen.  My other biggest culinary influence being my mother.

The Joy of Cooking is something I have been reading since I was a little girl.  I find the older editions so intriguing, as one can find explanations on how to prepare a wide variety of dishes, including game, unfamiliar German desserts, fallen from fashion puddings and fruit cakes, and lists and lists of coffee cakes.

img_2817

I settled on creating a gluten-free version of the Sweet Cream cake, just because it used what I already had on hand. ¬†I substituted the Cup for Cup flour, for the cake flour. ¬†The recipe below is verbatim from my grandmother’s cookbook.

My kitchen helper helped by stirring, combining, and spit shining the butter cream almond flavored frosting bowl.  The cake, frosted, right.  I left a small section unfrosted for those crazy family members who find frosting too sweet!  As much as I enjoy trying new recipes, this will be one of those cake recipes that goes into my repeated rotation.  Thank you for continuing to influence my kitchen habits, Grandma.  Miss you.

Sweet Cream Cake, from The Joy of Cooking, 1946 edition

Beat until light and lemon colored:
2 eggs
Sift, then beat in gradually:
1 cup sugar
Add:
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift before measuring:
1 2/3 cake flour
Resift with:
2 1/2 teaspoons tartrate or phosphate baking powder or 2 teaspoons combination type (see Baking Powder, page 447)
1/4 teaspoon soda (if sour cream is used)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Add these ingredients to the egg mixture in about three parts alternately with thirds of:
1 cup rich sweet or sour cream
Beat after each addition until the batter is smooth. ¬†Bake the cake in two greased 8 inch layer pans or in a greased 8 inch tube pan in a moderate oven 350¬į. Allow about 25 minutes for the layers and about 3/4 hour for the loaf cake.

Almond Butter Cream Frostingfrom Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, makes about 2 cups

In a large mixing bowl beat 6 tablespoons of butter until smooth.

Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in 1/8 cup milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Gradually beat in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.  Beat in enough additional milk to reach spreading consistency.

Caramelized Nectarine Pancakes

pancakes.small

These breakfast bad boys came about due to an abundance of ripe nectarines, reminiscing about North Carolina beach breakfasts, and my absolute undying devotion to making delicious breakfast foods.  Fact: I am much more likely to go all out on breakfast than any other meal of the day.

nectarines

Nectarines are right up there with peaches and black raspberries as my favorite fruit.  I mean just look at them!  They are perfect golden slices of sugary goodness.  As with the other two fruit favorites, they are best eaten in season.  I bought a bunch of these nectarines with the intention of grilling them and serving them with ice cream, but that did not happen because we went for strawberry ice cream cones instead.  So, the following morning, I peeled them and thinly sliced them to be put into my favorite basic pancake recipe.

butter

Then, I placed tabs of butter on the hot cast iron griddle, and cooked the thin slices of nectarine for a few minutes on medium heat, until they were softened and the butter was bubbly brown and caramelized.  This griddle is a must-have in my kitchen Рwe bought our two-burner cast iron griddle a few years back and use it pretty much every day for breakfast.

batter

Next, I poured about a 1/2 cup of batter on top of the caramelized slices and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. ¬†I let it cook for 2-3 minutes, or till the edges were starting to dry and bubbles appear on¬†the surface of the pancake, but don’t yet break. ¬†Check for doneness by gently lifting the edge of the pancake with a spatula.

cakeNectarine perfection when flipped!  I cooked the pancakes for 1-2 more minutes on the other side, check though, as the other side never takes as long to cook as the first. That little plain guy is for my youngest Рhe was happier to eat his foods separated.  Check below for the base recipe of this easy, yet decadent pancake recipe.  Note: I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.  I never have that specialty flour around.

I recently read that the best pancakes are the ones that are mixed, covered, and refrigerated for 3-6 hours, or longer before cooking.  I will be testing this out for tomorrow Рcheck back for the results.

Buttermilk Pancakes (from Joy of Cooking) Makes about ten 4-inch cakes.

1. Combine: 1 cup cake flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

2. Beat until light: 1 egg.  Add: 1 cup buttermilk, 1-2 tablespoons melted butter.

3. Combine the dry and liquid ingredients with a few swift strokes.

Nectarine Caramelized Pancakes

1. Mix pancake base from buttermilk pancake recipe above.

2. Slice and remove pits from 2-3 ripe nectarines.  Peel and thinly slice.  Place small tabs of butter onto a hot griddle and place 2-3 slices of nectarine in the melting butter.  Use a fork to move the slices around so they are coated in butter.  Allow them to caramelize by cooking the slices over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the slices are softened and the butter is bubbly and slightly browned.

3. Pour about a 1/2 cup of batter over the top of the caramelized slices and a sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon on top of the batter. ¬†Cook pancakes for 2-3 minutes, or till the edges start to dry and bubbles appear on¬†the surface of the pancake, but don’t yet break. ¬†Check for doneness by gently lifting the edge of the pancake with a spatula. ¬†Flip pancake and cooke 1-2 more minutes on the other side. ¬†Watch pancakes carefully, as the second side always cooks faster than the first. ¬†Serve immediately and warm with warm maple syrup.