Chocolate Sourdough Bread

Chocolate Sourdough Bread

I have to thank my friend Kate in Chicago for kindly sending me a lovely care package of sourdough starter and for sharing this recipe. Thanks, Kate!

I had always wanted to use a sourdough starter for homemade bread, but never had before this. It can be a touch daunting for all the details on keeping the starter ‘fed’ before the day you intend to use it, but luckily Kate also sent me a great set of instructions to follow. You can find some helpful instructions on the King Arthur Flour website.

This loaf of sourdough filled with chunks of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate turned out to be delicious. I ate a slice for breakfast toasted with a touch of Bumble and Brown each morning the week I made the bread, though it’s also good without any extra fuss as well.

Check out the Chocolate Sourdough Bread recipe (and others) on Kate’s section of the Instructables website. You can use your own homemade sourdough starter, purchase some at the store, or, if your lucky like me get some from a friend.

Have you worked with sourdough starter before? What was your favorite recipe?

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I’m surprised to say that I went on a bit of a baking kick this past weekend. Okay, I’m not really that surprised given my strong affinity for anything sweet, but with the holidays you would have thought I’d gotten my fill.

I made one of my favorite snack recipes, Pumpkin Crunch. It’s sort of a pumpkin seed granola with dried fruit and spices. I use dried cherries in this recipe in place of the cranberries. The house smells fabulous when the pepitas are roasting in the oven!

On Sunday I realized that I’d better make use of the last two very ripe bananas sitting on my counter or freeze them for later. I remembered seeing a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Bread in my October issue of Cooking Light magazine and I thought this would be a great way to finish off the last of my bananas.

I made some changes based on what I had available in the house. Their recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of mashed banana, but I only had enough to fill one cup so I added 4 oz. of applesauce to keep it moist. I also used low-fat vanilla yogurt in place of the plain yogurt so the batter was likely a bit sweeter. I also left out the ground flax seed and peanuts chopped peanuts because I enjoy a soft texture without the added crunch in quick breads. I only keep skim milk on hand so I used that instead of the 1% called for in the glaze and it worked just fine.

Even with less mashed banana the bread had good strong banana flavor and moistness (I think the applesauce helped there). The peanut butter flavor really came through in the glaze and really put this one over the top. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Here’s my version of the recipe:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Adapted from Cooking Light

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Bread:

  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 4oz. applesauce
  • 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Cooking spray

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°. 2. Combine banana through eggs in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add both sugars and beat until blended. 3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool. 4. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over bread.

Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread

I love getting new recipe books from our local library. It gives me a chance to try out a book before I buy it and it’s an inexpensive way to try out recipes (excluding websites and blogs, of course). My latest temporary acquisition is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoe Francois. It’s full of delicious and healthy recipes that are easy to fit into a busy schedule and don’t require a bread machine.

I love that their recipes are more hands on than using a bread machine, but still very easy and don’t require kneading. All I had to do was head to Whole Foods to add a new ingredient to my pantry called vital wheat gluten. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, but I found it very inexpensive in the bulk section and I wanted to start with a small amount before buying a bag of it.

Most of the recipes in this book have minimal mess because if you have a large lidded plastic bucket, or food storage container you can just mix all the ingredients for the dough right in there with a spoon and then finish it by mixing it with your hands. Let it rest in the container and then slip it into the fridge for up to 10 days (depending on the recipe) and pull the dough out when you’re ready to bake. Preheat the oven and/or baking stone and put the bread into bake. It’s so easy!

A couple of weeks ago I made a free-form loaf from their master recipe and it turned out well. The bread had a nice nutty flavor and went great with jam. I had leftover dough from that batch and made some whole wheat caramel rolls that were also delicious.

This third recipe I tried was 100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread. How can you go wrong with a bread made with maple syrup, oatmeal and cinnamon? Of course there’s a bit more to it than that, but it is delicious. It has a light egg wash on top and a sprinkling of raw sugar that creates a lovely crust. A slice lightly toasted with peanut butter makes a great breakfast. You can also turn leftover dough into muffins. I usually halve the recipes in the book because my storage container is not quite big enough to hold most of the full recipes they provide.

Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread

Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast, or 1 packet
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water) for brushing the top crust
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Mixing and storing the dough:

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a 2 1/2 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Add the liquid ingredients and mix with a spoon, without kneading. You might want to finish mixing with your hands to incorporate all of the flour.

Cover (not airtight) at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough rises and collapses (flattens on top). The dough can be used immediately after it rises, but it’s easier to handle when refrigerated. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use within 7 days.

On the day of baking:

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the refrigerated dough with flour and pull it out of the container. Dust with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the dough around the bottom on each side, rotating as you go.

Pull the dough into an oval shape and put it into the loaf pan, it should fill about 3/4 of the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour 45 minutes (or 60 minutes if it was not refrigerated).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint on the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Put the loaf pan on the middle rack and bake for 45-50 minutes, until deep brown and firm. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.