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  • Browned Butter & Espresso Banana Bread

    Happiest springtime to you all! I hope your season is filling with fresh flowers, warm cups of coffee and tea, carb-laden goodies and perhaps some spring cleaning/organizing to freshen perspectives and intentions. I have been taking things easy, using this past mercury retrograde to reflect. Let me tell ya: sometimes it is enlightening to just take it slow and think through some things/decisions/adult-ing things to gain clarity and perspective. You're most definitely on the right track, and don't let anyone let you think otherwise. Spring cleaning and organizing also helps with all of this. Focus!And then after you've cleaned out your closet/mind/car (or whatever), treat yourself to some banana bread + coffee. As a compulsive banana-buyer and eater and smoothie-maker, the probability of my having over-ripe bananas is quite high. Thus, you will find several other banana bread and/or muffin recipes on TDS (The Dirty Sifter...):

    The gluten-free, but no weird-ass flours version here!

    The borderline cake, super idulgent version over here (really, don't skip the bourbon or sea salt or the chocolate...go all in on this one)...

    The touch-of-special browned butter version right here!

    The vegan version here...it is a good one despite the lack of butter and eggs, really! It boasts 6 (!!) whole bananas. Compensate the healthy goodness with the generouts cinnamon+sugar topping.

    So now...I introduce, the caffeinated and roasty-toasty, nutty one here today. Mostly inspired by my grandma's banana bread, and also my deep love for strong-ass coffee, and also the smell of browning butter. All good things indeed. If you do not have access to an espresso maker at home (I have a ROK variety, and while finicky to get the water temp/coffee grind correct, once you do, you're golden!), you can use extra-strong brewed coffee. This bread is sweet, moist and perfect on a chilly early spring morning. Spread the love and share thick slices with your favorite people. The honey in this loaf helps keep the moisture in (thanks to the abundance of monosaccharides, namely glucose and fructose), and also helps it brown in the oven (nod again to the honey). The espresso (or strong coffee) gives it a hint of bitter, and nutty aroma. The brown butter just does what it does best...mmm...

    With that, happy baking, sharing and caring. Spread the love!



    Banana Bread with Browned Butter and Espresso // makes 1 loaf //

    • 1 3/4 cup flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry)
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus additional for topping
    • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 3 large over-ripe bananas
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup, or a combination thereof)
    • 1/3 cup browned butter 
    • 1 double shot espresso + water or milk to make 1/4 cup total liquid (or use 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled)
    • optional: 2 large handfuls walnuts 

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Brown the butter in a small pan, keeping an eye on it while it bubbles. Set aside to cool, and use a few teaspoons to grease the loaf pan. 

    2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

    3. In a measuring cup, measure out the espresso+water (or coffee). Add the honey, browned butter and eggs. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

    4. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas until smooth (or leave some chunks intact if you like that texture). Add the espresso/honey/egg mixture and whisk until everything is combined.

    5. Pour the wet mixture over the dry, and mix a few times. Add the walnuts, and finish the mixing with a few confident mixes, being careful to not over do it. I love to use a dough whisk to help preven over agitation and gluten development.

    6. Pour into the greasted loaf pan and level the top of the batter. If desired, sprinkle with extra cinnamon and swirl a few times with a butter knife. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. This loaf is extra moist, so don't be alarmted if you need to bake for a touch longer.

    7. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then release loaf from pan and allow to cool fully on a cooling rack. Slice as desired and enjoy! Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen (I like to pre-slice mine prior to freezing for easy thawing/re-heating) for up to 3 months. 



    Bananas that look like leopards are ideal for banana bread...Browned butter, ready and waiting!Sifting the dry ingredients is soothing, and also ensures all spices and leavners are homogenously distributed. Gift the goods a stir even after sifting to make double-sure. Also, I love my dough-whisk. If you're a quick-bread making fiend, I highly recommend!Take a step back...sip on that extra espresso shot you pulled yourself...and be sure you pre-heated your oven...on it!Mixing while the mixing is good! Walnuts in!Pour into pan, top with cinnamon (ps: Top With Cinnamon is a fine blog!), swirl about and bake!This loaf smells like banana-nut heaven when baking. Slice yourself a large slab, and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee. Repeat often. 

  • Walnut & Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

    The coziest wishes to you all on this fine Sunday! I hope you spent your weekend relaxing and rejuvenating and re-whatever-ing you need to do to be prepared for the week ahead.

    For me, that consisted of sleeping in, hanging out with my sister, buying a plant (a prayer plant...cool right?), drinking lots of coffee, walking around Lake Merritt, buying some mighty fine spices from Oaktown Spice Shop (specifically, chile powder for some beans that will be made today, more specifically, the baked pintos from Deb's new book), and of course, baking cookies. And, side note, while gathering groceries for those beans, I noticed that there were many...almost too many...options for avocados at the grocery store. Small. Medium. Large. Mexico. California. Ripe. Not so ripe. Ahhh! The conservative WI-girl in me opted for the "locally" grown (California...) medium not-so-ripe variety. I hope I made the right choice....

    Anyways! I have been thoroughly enjoying Stella's book, Bravetart. A cinnamon roll situation last weekend, and cozy oatmeal cookies this weekend. I have been searching for the "perfect" oatmeal cookie recipe (they are my favorite), and this one is pretty darn legit. It reminded me of Alice Medrich's oatmeal cookies in her cookie book, echoing the use of oat flour. But, what really intrigued me was the use of a small amount of steel cut oats! But evidently, not intriguing enough, since I forgot them at the store, along with the oat flour. But don't worry, the cookies are still A+ without them. Further, I have found that blending rolled oats in a high-speed blender or a decent food processor does the trick to create the powdery, fine oat flour. But, use that oat flour if you have it!Chock full of California raisins, walnuts...brimming with spices (Cinnamon! Nutmeg! Ginger!)...these cookies are legit, just as the Bravetart book is. I am eyeing some new Fat Daddio's to start experimenting with the cake recipes (and to get my ass in gear to bake a small wedding cake for one of my besties in July!). Oh, and Stella's recipe for homemade SPRINKLES. That situation is high on my list, too....

    Cheers and smiles to you all...let's get at this week in a cozy, calm and cookie-y way!



    Oatmeal, Raisin & Walnut Cookies // makes about 30, 1oz cookies // lightly adapted via Bravetart //

    • 2/3 cup (3 oz) all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 oz) oat flour (store bought or made by blending rolled oats in a food processor or blender until very fine)
    • 1 2/3 cup (6 oz) old fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz) steel cut oats (optional)
    • 1 1/4 cup (5 oz) walnuts, toasted
    • 1 cup (6 oz) moist raisins*
    • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
    • 2/3 cup (5 oz) light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) white sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice)
    • heaped 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger 
    • 1 large egg
    • Flakey sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on top (optional, but serisouly recommended)

    *if your raisins are not moist, you can soak them in hot water for a few minutes, and thoroughly drain them before adding to the recipe.

    1. Toast the walnuts: preheat oven to 350F, and spread walnuts on the optionally lined (silpat, parchment, or aluminum foil with dull-side up) cookie sheet you will bake the cookies on. Toast for 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

    2. In a large bowl, sift the flours and the baking soda. Measure into the same bowl the raisins, and crush the walnuts with your hands into the bowl (no need to chop, between hand-crushing and mixing, they will be perfectly sized in the cookie dough). Set aside

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl to accomodate a hand-mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy (about 30-45 seconds, but this may take a little longer if your kitchen is a little cool). Into the butter, add the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and beat until creamy and slightly fluffy (another 30 or so seconds). Add the egg, and beat until smooth and incorporated.

    4. Portion into 1oz balls (about 2 TB), and space about 2" apart on cookie sheets. Gently press each moudn into a 1/2" tall patty**, and sprinkle with flakey sea salt if desired. Bake for 12-16 minutes (my oven too 16 minutes for a brown, gently crispy bottom and edge), or until the cookies are brown around the outside and opaque in the middle. If you like crispier cookies, bake for a minute or two longer.

    5. Cool for a few minutes on the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to firm up. Store in an airtight container at room temp or in the fridge/freezer for a few days...enjoy!

    **at this point, you can freeze the little pucks, and place into a bag or container once firm and frozen. To bake fresh cookies, proceed with the baking at 350F for 12-16 minutes, keeping in mind that a few extra minutes may be tagged on to baking straight from the freezer.



    The goods for the goods. Oat flour in the blender. Seriously, it works. Just be sure to blend to a fine texture, and sift with the other flour in the recipe. I found that I needed to blend about 2 cups of oats for the blending to be effective, so you'll have extra oat flour for your additional oat flour needs....like more of these cookies...Sift, stir, blend, whip...we got this!And cookie dough! Rejoice. Breakfast of Champions, really. Scoop 'em up...and smoosh them into 1/2" thick pucks of chunky glory.Yep. Glorious oat-y, warmly spiced, nutty goodness with pockets of sweet, caramel-y raisins. High fives!Now, excuse me, gonna drink coffee and eat cookies all day. Peace!

  • Sourdough Bread Pudding

    I knew that I had found "my people" at work when farm-fresh eggs, homemade sourdough, granola, raw milk yogurt and bundt cakes showed up at work. Ooh, also, garlic. Yep, homegrown garlic. And beans! One of my co-workers gave me a sample of his heirloom beans he grows. How cool?!But honestly, the thing that excited me most...like, I literally lost my shit, was when one of my co-workers brought in freshly baked sourdough bread. With almond butter and homemade jam. I mean, come on! A chilly late-March morning can't get much better than a freshly toasted slice of sourdough bread, adorned with a little organic butter, some almond butter and homemade jam, all with a cup of hot coffee. If you can't get on board for that, I just don't know....maybe you shouldn't be reading this? 

    Long story short, I managed to get a blob of sourdough starter from my co-worker. I was over the moon. The blob was accompanied by some instructions, and a book recommendation.

    That night, I downloaded the book onto my tablet (tbh I forgot you could do that...ha), and dove right in.I fed the starter. I fed it some more. I got some locally milled wheat and rye flours, I swore a little, and yeah...I did cry once (But it wasn't from the starter/bread, really). I found the warmest spot in my kitchen (above my fridge, by my kombucha), and let the sourdough cultures to there thing for 3 days.And then, there was bread. Glorious bread. I was so goddamn happy. 

    But then, there was bread. Two loaves. Too much for one person....so...bread pudding. But bread pudding with sourdough? After a search on the internets, I found that this was kind of a rarity. Everyone was using challah, brioche, or shitty white bread. What about those non-enriched, sans dough conditioner-rich breads?? I mean, come on, people. How boring?

    So, I am very pleased to report that sourdough makes a fabulous pud. I would even venture to say that the heartier crust and crumb allows you to be more flexible in how long you soak it, without fear of the bread cubes disintegrating into custard oblivion. A soak overnight, or for two nights, is perfect here. 

    And mix ins? Endless options. I went simple, with raisins...because I secretly love raisins. Blueberries, cranberries, hunks of apples, pears, banana...any sturdy fruit, I think would work. Dark chocolate (duh), nuts, toasted coconut....you get the idea. Be creative. Indeed, using brown sugar, coconut sugar, or even using some honey or maple syrup for sweetener would be a fun idea. I mean, this is bread pudding...not rocket science. I think you could get away with using 1/2 to 3/4 liquid sweetener instead of 1 cup of granulated. If you like it less sweet, I'd suggest cutting back, and using only 1/2 cup liquid sweetener, and scant 1 cup of granulated. Whatever your heart desires. And yes, brioche and challah will work just fine here too. The key: use what you have! That is what bread pudding is all about, am I right? Use this recipe as a template, and, shout out to Food52 for their no-fuss guidelines. Get at it. 

    Cheers to chilly spring mornings, and sharing carbs! Pssssst: this would be fabulous Easter Sunday treat!



    Bread Pudding // makes one 9"x13" pan of bread pudding // soy-free; nut-free; oil-free //

    • 1 lb (16 oz) bread cubes (a generous 5 or so cups), about 1” in size
    • 4 large eggs, using locally raised and/or organic if possible 
    • 3/4 cup granulate sugar, or 1/2 cup liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup, etc)
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • Sea salt*
    • 2 1/2 cups milk of choice, such as half & half, coconut milk or almond milk
    • 1 to 2 cups dried fruit, sturdy berries like blueberries or cranberries, or chunks of apples, dark chocolate, nuts, etc.

    *Salt: for my sourdough, which was fairly salty, I did NOT add any additional salt. If your bread is on the less-salty side, as a standard brioche or challah is, feel free to add in a pinch of salt if desired.

    1. Mix everything, except the bread, in a large bowl. Dump in bread cubes, and stir with a spatula to coat the bread crumbs. Let sit for a few minutes, and then stir again. Add in dried fruit if using, or other sturdy fruit like berries or cubes of apples, and stir.

    2. Oil or butter a 9”x13” pan. Pour in the bread/custard mixture, and pat into an even layer. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

    3. To bake: preheat oven to 350F. Give the bread pudding a quick stir, and redistribute any fruit, nuts or chocolate pieces that have sunk to the bottom. Place the covered bread pudding in to bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the cover off and bake for another 20 minutes, checking at the 15 minute mark. Add or subtract baking time based on how the top is browning. If it is browning too much but needs more baking time, put the cover back on. The pudding is done when you stick a fork in, and see very little or no residual custard mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. 

    4. Remove, and cool slightly. Serve warm, or room temp. I wouldn't tell anyone if you had a scoop of ice cream, or a dollop of whipped cream, with a bowl of warm bread pudding.