Sometimes Things Freeze in the Arctic (Mochi Cake With Black Bananas)

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A delicious way to use the unusable, banana mochi bread has the moistness and flavor of banana and the dense, rich texture of mochi cake. Slathered with cream cheese this is a delicious afternoon snack.

Guided by a philosophy of not wanting to waste anything, we are sometimes the recipients of fruit past its prime. This week boxes of bananas arrived for snacks for our students at Tikigaq School in Point Hope, Alaska. Unfortunately, many had frozen on the plane on the way up. Most people will not eat thawed-out, blackened bananas. And then there are people like us.

The obvious response to these bananas was banana bread. I have a tried and true fruit bread recipe which I’ve used for bananas, blueberries, cloudberries, and pears. But this is the time of year to be a bit more creative in order to use up pantry items. With this in mind, I give you mochi banana bread. Mochi is a Japanese creation which uses sweet rice flour to make a dense, rich, but not-too-sweet dessert. With previous success baking a chocolate mochi cake, I wanted to give bananas a try.

The results of this experiment were a sugary-crisp crust enclosing the nicely dense banana bread I was going for. Blog worth! (Of course, we only publish the good stuff!)

Banana Mochi Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups smashed overripe bananas (about 6)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (substituting applesauce will lighten the bread)
  • 1 tsp Penzeys double strength vanilla extract (or 2 tsp regular vanilla extract)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix dry ingredients.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, mix together all wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool loaf pan on wire rack until it can be handled. Then remove loaf from pan and continue cooling on wire rack.

Twisted Cinnamon Loaf Overnight French Toast

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Swirling with, pecans, cinnamon, butter and maple syrup, this decadent creation puffs up like a soufflé in the oven. You and your guests will be inspired to linger over a leisurely morning table with a second mimosa.

We recently baked a loaf of twisted cinnamon bread, which is never better than on the morning it comes out of the oven. Since our Arctic kitchen is quite arid, items left out tend to dry out quickly, which gives us the opportunity to get creative with leftovers.

Overnight French toast is not a new recipe for us. But starting with a base of this wonderful twisted cinnamon bread was new. Soaking the bread overnight in an egg and cream mixture causes the bread to puff up magically during baking. Drizzled with maple syrup and served with a strip of thick bacon this cinnamon loaf French toast was a great way to start a weekend!

Twisted Cinnamon Bread Overnight French Toast

Ingredients

  • 8 inch-thick slices twisted cinnamon bread
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Ingredients for pecan topping:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Butter an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish.
  2. Lay slices of bread on bottom of glass baking dish.
  3. Thoroughly mix together eggs, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover dish and place in refrigerator overnight.
  5. Bring bread mixture out of refrigerator and set on counter to come toward room temperature while preheating oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Prepare pecan topping by mixing butter, pecans, and brown sugar.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes then top with pecan mixture.
  8. Continue baking another 20 minutes, until golden and puffed.
  9. Serve with maple syrup.

Twisted Brunch: Twisted Loaf Cinnamon Bread

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This sugary, buttery, cinnamon-laced, melt-in-your-mouth braided cinnamon loaf is centerpiece-worthy at the breakfast or bunch table.

In a quest for a visually unique loaf of bread, I came across a recipe for a Nutella twist which looked gorgeous. Reading through the instructions, I was surprised at how simple an intricate looking braid could be created. With plenty of cinnamon on hand, I decided to give this loaf a go sans Nutella. The result of my experiment is captured in the photo above and was a delicious compliment to plates of sunny-side-up friend eggs and mugs of French roast coffee.

However, upon further investigation, it turned out my “original” recipe idea had already been conceived and executed on the site Home Cooking Adventure. Nonetheless, here is my version of Estonian Kringle adapted for my dough machine.

Cinnamon Braid

Ingredients

Bread

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 tbsp  granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place bread ingredients in bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
  3. Set cycle to “dough” and start machine.
  4. Make cinnamon filling while waiting for dough by combining filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing thoroughly.
  5. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle, approximately 18″ x 12″.
  6. Spread cinnamon filling over dough evenly. Leave about 1/2″ border.
  7. Roll up dough jelly-roll style to form a long log.
  8. Cut log down the middle, the long way.
  9. Braid by wrapping the two cut pieces around each other, always leaving the cut sides up.
  10. Pinch ends of dough so that they will bake together.
  11. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Sweet Nosh – Homemade Lemon Curd and Almond Scones

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Creamy, sweet lemon curd is the perfect partner to a freshly baked almond scone for a light breakfast or an afternoon nosh. See lemon curd and scone recipes below.

Any excuse to make lemon curd is a good excuse. I’ve been playing around with a lemon lava cake recipe and decided the ingredient it needed is lemon curd. With the lava cake in mind, I whipped up four cups of this zesty conserve, which happened to be more than my recipe required. What to do? Enjoy the tangy, sweet, creamy curd with a freshly baked batch of almond scones.

I’ve made many iterations of scones in my kitchen, but lemon curd seemed to fit with savory almond flavor as opposed to blends of fruits or other sweet ingredients.

The curd is a cinch to make. The Meyer lemons that grow in our backyard in Sacramento would have been the choice ingredient, but even without our favorite Meyers on hand in our Arctic kitchen, we can make a darn good curd with Nellie & Joe’s brand lemon juice and Penzeys dried lemon peel. The small scones, too, are a snap to make. The time it took from gathering pantry ingredients to pulling freshly baked scones from the oven was only about half an hour – about as long as it takes to have a first cup of Joe and get fully awake on a leisurely weekend or holiday morning.

Pantry Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp Penzeys dried lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together lemon peel and sugar.
  2. Whisk eggs into sugar mixture, one at a time.
  3. Whisk in lemon juice and salt.
  4. Pour mixture into a medium pot. Add butter in pieces.
  5. Cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool before serving with fresh-baked almond scones hot from the oven.
  7. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Snack-Sized Almond Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • healthy pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp frozen butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  3. Using a cheese grater, grate butter into flour mixture. Stir until butter is well dispersed in flour.
  4. In a second bowl, whisk together whole milk, buttermilk, egg, and extract.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir together.
  6. Stir in almonds. Dough will be sticky.
  7. Coat your hands with flour and divide dough into thirds.
  8. Flatten each third into a disc about 1-inch tall. Place 3 discs apart on parchment-covered baking sheet. Cut each disc into fourths, but do not separate. This will allow the scones to be broken easily when they are finished baking.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes. Scones will be very lightly browned when done.
  10. Serve with hot tea and homemade lemon curd.

Rustic Pear Gallette with Whole Wheat Blend Crust

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The sweet secret to this gallette is a generous layer of homemade cloudberry jam beneath the pears No cloudberries? Try raspberry, blackberry or apricot jam.

A gallette is a beautiful dessert that can whipped up on short notice – a perfect answer to a seasonal abundance of fresh fruit. During the summer, we made a delicious strawberry-port gallette with sliced almonds in the galley of our sailboat. Since it is wintertime, we decided to make the gallette a bit more full-bodied by adding wheat flour and some cornmeal to the crust. We happened to have pears on hand, but many other fruits readily lend themselves to this recipe. Enjoy a slice of pear gallette with a side salad, a favorite cheese and a freshly brewed cup of tea for a satisfying lunch in any season.

Rustic Pear Gallette

Ingredients

  • 1  cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (we made this from powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons cloudberry jam, or jam of your choice
  • 2 D’Anjou pears, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar mixed with a pinch of ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Mix together flours, sugar, cornmeal and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender, mix in cold butter. Continue mixing until cold butter is the size of peas.
  3. Slowly mix in buttermilk. Stir with rubber spatula until dough forms into a ball.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for about 30-45 minutes in refrigerator.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the size of a baking sheet.
  7. Place chilled dough on center of parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough to about a 15-inch circle. This is a rustic dessert, so no need to be a perfectionist here.
  9. Brush the entire rolled dough with jam.
  10. Arrange pear slices atop dough, leaving a 2-inch border.
  11. Fold border over pears, pressing down any folds of dough.
  12. Brush dough with egg.
  13. Sprinkle dough and pears with sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  14. Bake gallette 40 – 45 minutes, until dough is golden brown and pears are soft.
  15. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Almond Breakfast Crumb Cake

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Moist cake loaded with almond flavor and a sweet, crunchy, crumbly top is guaranteed to make everyone in the house dash to the breakfast table. This cake is simple to make and delivers a triple dose of almond using almond paste, almond extract, and crunchy sliced almonds.

So, you’ve finished eating all ten polar bear claws and your appetite for almond flavored breakfast pastries is still not sated. You dip your finger into the leftover half-can of almond paste and quickly realize that this product is not intended to be eaten straight. The solution? Almond breakfast crumb cake. The beauty of this cake is that it can be eaten anytime, but since it has breakfast in the title there is no guilt about eating a slice or two first thing in the morning with your coffee. Or drizzle it with a berry syrup for a scrumptious dessert.

Almond Breakfast Crumb Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • crumb topping (see below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and almond paste. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Add sugar and mix until blended.
  6. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract and mix until blended.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture and milk. Mix until blended.
  8. Add remainder of flour mixture and mix just until blended.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over top of batter.
  11. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
  12. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  13. Store at room temperature.

Crumb Topping Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Crumb Topping Directions

  1. Stir together first three ingredients.
  2. Add melted butter and stir mixture together until crumbly.
  3. Stir in almonds until mixed well.

Honey Glazed Polar Bear Claws – Grrrr, Grrrr

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A tempting polar bear claw from our Arctic bakery. No bears were harmed in the making of this pastry!

Topping my baking to-do list this winter were bear claws. There is something about the sweet almond filling that makes these a mainstay of bakery shops – or perhaps it’s their cool name. Jack and I usually pass on these confections because most bakeries prepare them with an overload of sweetness. In researching recipes, I found a plethora of styles, from giant grizzly-sized pastries smothered in sliced nuts to tiny paws with a perfectly manicured almond on the end of each claw, and everything in between.

The recipe I settled on took a bit of time and effort. I wanted a medium-sized confection that emphasized not sweetness but almond flavor.The resulting pastry was superb – a little lighter than standard bakeshop fare and with a nicely balanced taste of almond.

Polar Bear Claws

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  1. Place flour and butter in a medium bowl. Mix together using a pastry blender until well blended and butter pieces are no larger than kidney beans.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Stir cream, salt, egg, and sugar into yeast mixture.
  4. Pour flour mixture into cream mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until ingredients are just moistened.
  5. Place dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Dust dough with flour. Roll out dough to 14 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold into thirds, making three layers. Roll out again. Fold into thirds once more and place back into refrigerator while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Add all filling ingredients to bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are well mixed and filling is smooth.

Assembling the pastries:

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough to a 12 x 16 inch rectangle.
  2. Cut the dough in half, length-wise.
  3. Spread half of the filling down the middle of one piece of dough. Repeat with other piece of dough.
  4. Roll each dough rectangle jelly-roll style from the long side.
  5. Tuck seam under roll.
  6. Cut each long roll into 5 pieces.
  7. Cut three slits into each piece to make the toes.
  8. Place each pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet, curving them slightly (to spread the toes).
  9. Allow pastries to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. They should puff up.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  11. Brush each pastry with beaten egg.
  12. Generously sprinkle pastries with sliced almonds.
  13. Bake 12 minutes. Pastries should be lightly browned.
  14. Let cool slightly on wire rack. Drizzle with honey glaze.

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp milk
  1. Stir together ingredients until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar if too thin, or add more milk if too thick.  Drizzle over warm pastries.