I love Nutella. There is just something about that creamy chocolate – hazelnut spread that is simply delicious. I’ve been known to slather it on toast or even eat it by the spoonful right from the jar. But it is also a wonderful ingredient to cook with, taking baked goods from ordinary to extraordinary. I’m also a huge fan of coconut and cooking with coconut milk. It is rich and flavorful, providing dishes with a subtle sweetness and baked goods with a moist and slightly tropical consistency that you simply can’t get from other types of milk.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup Nutella, slightly warmed until easily spreadable
For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Up to 4 tablespoons coconut milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9 x 5 x 2.75 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl beat egg with a fork and stir in melted butter and coconut milk.
- Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just enough to combine. Fold in flaked coconut.
- Spoon one third of the batter into the bottom of the loaf pan. Add half the Nutella, covering the batter as best you can without mixing the two together.
- Add another 1/3 of the batter and cover Nutella completely. Finish with the other half of the Nutella and then more batter to top it off.
- Use a table knife and stick it down, all the way through the batter at one end of the loaf pan. Work your way from one side of the pan to the other in a zigzag motion. Make just one pass for the swirl effect.
- Bake 55-65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Let cool 20 minutes in pan before flipping over and letting cool completely.
- For the glaze, add confectioners’ sugar to a medium sized bowl and start with 2 tablespoons of milk poured into the sugar. Mix until it is a thick, pourable glaze, adding more milk as necessary in order to achieve the right consistency.
- Pour over bread and allow to sit.
- Slice when the glaze is completely dry.
Yields 12 slices
Nothing personifies Irish food and St. Patrick’s Day like Irish soda bread. Neither savory nor sweet this raisin studded bread is incredibly simple yet unforgettably good. I would describe both the taste and texture as being similar to a scone. And best of all it is incredibly easy to make.
There are many recipes out there for this classic bread but my favorite is this one from Simply Recipes. So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day go ahead and bake up a loaf, or two. Eat it as is or my preferred way, toasted until warm then slathered with butter. Yum!
IRISH SODA BREAD
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup raisins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda.
- Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.
- Dust your hands with a little flour and then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Be careful not over-knead the dough.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough).
- Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet).
- Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape.
- Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread sit for 10 minutes before moving it to a rack to cool briefly.
- Serve the bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted.
Yields 12-16 slices
Who doesn’t love banana bread? From a cook’s perspective it is a quick and easy way to use up all of those too ripe bananas. From the dining perspective, there is nothing better than a warm slice of banana bread for breakfast or a snack with a cup of tea or coffee.
This recipe from Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Flour Bakery is indeed easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. The original recipe calls for the addition of ground cinnamon in the batter. I also add an equal amount of ground nutmeg and have never heard a complaint. This bread has become my go-to bake sale item and I even get special requests to make extra. Whenever I have extra bananas that need to be used up I’ll make a batch of bread in mini loaf pans and keep them in the freezer until needed. They freeze beautifully and will fully defrost when left on the counter overnight.
FLOUR BAKERY’S FAMOUS BANANA BREAD
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped (optional)
1) Position rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 325 F. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2) In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3) Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat sugar and eggs on medium for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
4) On low, slowly drizzle in oil. Don’t pour it all in at once. You want to pour it in over 1 minute, to keep all the air you just beat into the egg-sugar mixture. Add the mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Continue to mix on low just until combined.
5) Using a spatula, fold in dry ingredients and nuts (if using) just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts evenly distributed. Pour into the greased loaf pan and smooth top.
6) Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until golden on top and the center springs back when pressed. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then pop out of the pan to finish cooling.
The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped and frozen up to 2 weeks.
Yield: one 9 x 5 loaf or 8 mini loaves
Fig season is short but wonderful here in Albania. When figs are in season they are everywhere and in addition to eating them as is, I try to incorporate them into as dishes as possible. There is nothing better than a perfectly ripe fig but a perfect piece of fruit can quickly turn to an over ripe one overnight. When this happens I turn the figs into fig bread.
Over the years I’ve adapted and tweaked this recipe numerous times and think this version is “the one”. Brown sugar adds both depth and sweetness to the cake and complements the richness of the figs. The alcohol from the sherry cooks off during baking but the distinct flavor remains as a nice surprise to unsuspecting diners. The bread freezes beautifully and will keep for several months; simply allow it to cool completely then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I take it out of the freezer the day before I am ready to eat it and allow it to come to room temperature while sitting on the kitchen counter. You can pop it in the oven to heat it up before serving it or eat it as is. Either way this treat extends the fig season well into the fall.
SHERRY FIG BREAD
1 1/2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Combine the figs and sherry in a small bowl; let stand for at least 15 minutes.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat the white sugar, brown sugar, oil and eggs on high-speed until light and frothy.
- Add in the flour mixture and beat on low-speed until combined.
- Gently stir in the figs and sherry.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert the bread onto a rack.
Zucchini are everywhere this time of year. You can bake it, steam it and turn it into desserts. I’ve always been a fan of zucchini bread. After all, the addition of shredded zucchini ensures that your bread is moist and flavorful. And if a plain zucchini bread is good, one infused with chocolate is even better. This recipe is adapted from Once Upon A Chef and is moist, rich and filled with chocolate making it more of a decadent dessert than a quick bread.
Brown sugar adds depth to the bread as dose a touch of instant coffee which only enhances the chocolate flavor. And the addition of chocolate chips ensures that every bite is just that much more chocolatey. If you don’t tell anyone they won’t even know that the bread is packed with a vegetable. This bread is sure to disappear so why not make two loaves instead of one? After all, zucchinis really are plentiful right now.
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2 cups shredded zucchini, gently packed
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large microwave proof bowl until just melted.
- Stir in the brown sugar until completely smooth.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until incorporated.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and instant coffee in a medium bowl.
- Add to the butter mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
- Stir in the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the loaf cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Yields: 1 loaf