Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Banana Cupcakes

I made these banana cupcakes from a recipe posted at a cupcake blog. I had bananas to use up, and was inspired by an idea to make the banana cupcakes with crystallized ginger as a flavoring. The cupcakes were great, but I wasn't quite as fond of the cream-cheese frosting recipe that accompanied them. A combination of cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar, the frosting was a bit bland. It definitely could have used a splash of vanilla to round out the flavors. Otherwise, a nice recipe.

Orange Bread

I hadn't made any yeasted breads in a while. When I was looking through The Old Farmer's Almanac Best Home Baking Book, this orange-raisin bread caught my eye. It's supposed to have an orange glaze on it, but I passed on that step, figuring that the glaze wouldn't hold up well in the toaster. The preparation of the dough is more akin to a quick bread than a yeasted bread, and the texture isn't quite as developed as a traditional yeasted bread. Nevertheless, the tender texture and sweet orange flavor make for a great loaf of bread--especially when toasted.

Banana Breads

More stuff from bananas on the dented-and-dinged rack. The top loaf is Banana-Peanut Bread from More From Magnolia. The recipe specifies chopped unsalted peanuts, but I'd made this bread once before with unsalted peanuts and decided that the bread had no peanut flavor. I tried it with salted peanuts and liked it much, much better.

The second loaf is a very rich, dense banana bread from Emily Luchetti's Stars Desserts. The recipe makes two loaves of banana bread, and that is a good thing. This loaf filled with toasted pecans is an excellent version of this standard.

Banana Cake

After once again being suckered by a bag of dented-and-dinged bananas on the discount rack, I was scrounging up banana recipes. I found this banana-chocolate cake recipe in The Greyston Bakery Cookbook. The cake has a great fudgy, dense texture and is really moist. The chocolate kind of overwhelms the banana, though.

Cupcakes to Go

In early April, we went along with the Girl Scout troop for Scouts' Day at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. To make the drive home a bit more pleasant, I brought along a few batches of cupcakes. I made a batch of the Pretty in Pink strawberry cupcakes from Julie Hasson's 125 Best Cupcake Recipes. Also from that book, I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. Finally, there was a batch of Banana-Butterscotch Cupcakes from Elinor Klivans's Cupcakes!. Good choices all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


At most marathons, the post-race refreshments are drawn from a pretty standard assortment of fare: fruit (especially bananas); bagels; water; and Gatorade. In January, when I ran the Houston Marathon, we lucked out with a full breakfast post-race, including hot biscuits. Last weekend, after the Knoxville Marathon, we were treated to pizza and a variety of baked goods, including mini cupcakes (source unknown, but quite tasty) and a variety of cookies donated by VG's Bakery in Farragut, Tenn. When I saw the bakery boxes and cookies within, I was really ecstatic. I guessed (correctly) that the white-glazed cookie was a lemon sugar cookie. The pastel-glazed number seems to have been a glazed sugar cookie: nice, soft, and sweet. The oatmeal-raisin cookie was really good, too. I wish there would have been time to pay a proper visit to the bakery. When we make our visit to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I'll be sure to get to Farragut for the bakery visit.

Although I failed to take photos, I brought along a batch of Coffee Toffee Chunk Cookies to share with my pals who ran Knoxville. I might have shared a few with myself after the race, too.

P.S. One other unphotographed baked item was made for a PLTI alumni board meeting last week. I made a batch of the Chocolate-Mayonnaise Cupcakes from Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. I frosted them with a vanilla buttercream that I jazzed up with a little orange extract.

Lemon Tea Cake

If pressed to name my favorite baking book, I'd have to go with Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor. My admiration for this book didn't happen immediately; instead, it developed over time. My previous inability to keep track of stuff I've baked -- especially from that book -- is one of the factors that led me to start this blog. I'd guess that I've made anywhere between one-third and one-half of the recipes in Baking by Flavor. Not all the recipes were successes, but certainly enough of them were to keep me going back and using the book again and again and again.

Because Baking by Flavor has a great lemon chapter, I turned to it for this Lemon Tea Cake recipe. The cake is lemony with zest in the cake itself. Then, when the cake is warm, it's brushed with a warm lemon-sugar syrup. This cake is supermoist and extremely good.