Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adventures in Baking

At my house when I say I'm going to bake something, that usually means I'm about to experiment.  I typically feel the inspiration to bake something new at THE worst possible time.  For example, in the middle of a flipping heat wave, 10 minutes before I need to lay down to sleep before work, or my personal favorite--when I'm missing some, or most, of the ingredients. 


Last week I was dying to make zucchini bread.  I picked an enormous zucchini from the garden and some wild blueberries from around our house.  I really wanted to use the recipes I found last summer to make some muffins and bread.  Problem?  It was hovering around 105 degrees outside and was already 83 in my kitchen.  Yeah, not a good time.  I waited....and today was cooler!!  That meant baking was the plan as soon as I got home from work.  


First up, Banana/Blueberry/Currant whole wheat muffins.  Oh yeah baby!  My husband is in love with these bad boys.  Today's batch is the fourth I've done in 2 weeks, but it's the first batch with currants (picked from the bush in our backyard).  I found the original recipe last year on AllRecipes.com and made some changes based on reviews and my personal tastes.


Banana/Blueberry/Currant Muffins


Ingredients

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
    • 1/2 cup fresh currants
    • 1/2 cup applesauce

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract.
    3. Mix the banana mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Fold in the blueberries and currants. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
    4. Bake 16 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.


    The structural integrity of this batch was a bit compromised by the immense amount of berries I packed into it.  However, the taste is phenomenal.  You can find the original recipe here.  Did I mention that these are only 4 Weight Watchers points?  Cause they are.  That's not too bad for a muffin!!!

    Now, on to the Zucchini Bread!!!  This is another recipe I found on AllRecipes.com last summer.  It's my favorite zucchini bread recipe EVER.  The problem with the recipe as written on the site is that it uses a LOT of vegetable oil.  Last year I used half applesauce and half vegetable oil and was all set to do that again today.  But then I used the last of my applesauce on the delicious muffins.  So, I had to find a new substitute.  


    After a little digging around on the internet I discovered that you can substitute beans for vegetable oil!  You just puree the beans and sub it in for the oil.  If you're making something that will be light in color, you use a light colored bean.  If you're making something dark, like brownies, you use a dark colored bean.  I grabbed a can of white northern beans out of the cupboard and pureed it up in my blender.  Then I got to work.

    Zucchini Bread


    Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
    • 1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup pureed white northern beans
    • 1 1/8 cups brown sugar
    • 1 1/8 cups organic cane sugar
    • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 4 cups grated zucchini
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts


    Directions

    1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
    2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
    3. Beat eggs, beans, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
    4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.


      
    My loaves took a lot longer than the recipe said they would, and I had to turn the temp up to 350 degrees towards the end because, well, I needed to get to bed.  I'm not sure whether the difference is because I increased the amount of zucchini, added the beans, used bigger pans, or my oven is starting to fail.  No matter, the bread is awesome!!!  It's even better than when I made it last year.  It's by far the best zucchini bread recipe I've ever had.  


    With the bean substitution this bread is only 5 Weight Watchers points for a whole slice, and 3 for half (I say go for the whole slice).  Without the substitution, using the full cup of vegetable oil, a slice is 7 points.  You can find the original recipe here.


    Did I mention that I'm on Weight Watchers?  Because I am!  I've been on the plan for almost three months and have lost about 12 pounds so far!!  I'm going to try to share more of my food type things with you as I experiment my way down to a smaller size.  

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