Monday, August 13, 2012

Banana Bread and Pancakes...Or Pancakes with Banana Bread...Or Banana Bread Pancakes...

I'm starting over. What used to be an idea to share recipes with the world has now turned into it actually happening (again, for real this time). I've missed sharing recipes and ideas with people, mostly because my household is now only two people. I have friends close by that could have been tasting and testing my recipes, but I guess I just didn't have the want or the energy for a while. I'm back in the swing now. 

In the past week, I have baked what seems to feel like endless amounts, though few recipes have come out of it. I have made delicious banana bread, delectable sandwich bread, and chocolate chip cookies that are simply 'to die for'. Here is where I will share my successes and my failures. There have been quite a few successes, and quite a few more failures. 
Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
4 large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans)

Preheat oven to 325°F

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together salt, baking soda, and flour. Add into the butter mixture slowly until all is well combined (I use 1/3 cup measure). Stir in your mashed bananas and nuts. 
Scrape into your medium loaf pan with your utensil of choice and flatten out the top of the mixture. 

Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check if done with a toothpick inserted in the middle. If it comes out clean, it's done. If it comes out with a thin layer of batter, leave in the oven with the heat turned off for 10 extra minutes and then test again. 

When the bread has cooled down to a temperature that you can handle with your palm, remove the bread from the pan by inverting into your hand and set the loaf on a cooling rack. Cut it when you wish, how you wish. I like mine cooled completely when the banana has has time to really permeate the bread. This is an easy bread to bake and give as a gift. It keeps well at room temperature, even better in the fridge. 
I composed (baked twice, failed once) and perfected the banana bread recipe after a friend said it was a favorite. I enjoy pleasing people and I enjoy baking, so requests are always welcome. It posed a bit of a challenge, as I had never before made fruit bread of any kind. 

I have a lovely waffle/pancake recipe that I have yet to add fruit to, only chocolate chips. I think I might consider mixing in some banana, strawberries, or blackberries the next time I make it to see how it would do. I'll post the basic recipe here so you can try yourself if you like. 

Waffles or Pancakes

1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup half & half (can substitute milk if you have to, no worries)
1/2 cup milk (I've never substituted buttermilk, but you could try)
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, mix together sugar, liquids, egg, and oil. Make a well in the sifted ingredients and add the liquids all at once. Mix until just combined, if you stir until all the lumps are out your waffles/pancakes will be tough and not fluffy. 

Heat your waffle iron or pan (medium heat) thoroughly before use. Use oil/butter/spray just before putting batter in/on your preferred cooking method for prevention of sticking. Cold oil in a hot pan is the best way to prevent sticking with any food, but most of all for eggs or batters. 

If having waffles, follow the manufacturer's directions (adding fillings at the time that you put the batter in the iron...sprinkle, not dollop). If having pancakes, use a cup measure that is the appropriate amount for the pan you are using, and the size of pancake you like (1/3 is perfect for me). Once it is in the pan do not touch until bubbles are developed along the edges of your pancake, then it is time to flip. 

If you are wanting to use fruit or chocolate in your pancakes, now is the time to sprinkle them. If you're impatient, you could always spread the batter onto a sheet pan and bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (if you're a nervous flipper...or an early flipper...or a burner...)!

Working patiently is key. Slide the very tip of your spatula up under the edge of the pancake to avoid upsetting it over much if your spatula is a bit thick. Once you are under the edge, feel free to slide it the rest of the way and flip. When you poke the pancake with your finger and it bounces back, it is done. 

Place cooked waffles/pancakes on a sheet pan inside a 200°F oven until all batter has been made, or you have enough. Serve them with warm syrup, fresh fruit, or (my personal favorite) peanut butter and jelly. 

This batter stores well for two-three days if you aren't making it all at one time. The waffles or pancakes themselves store very well in the fridge or freezer. Fridge for up to two weeks, freezer up to two months. 

The waffle/pancake recipe is another that I wrote on my own, and had quite a few 'almost perfect' outcomes. The recipe put here makes waffles/pancakes exactly the way that I like them for putting peanut butter and jelly on them. 

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