Recipe Testing and the Weekend

How was your weekend? Mine was very low key. Besides teaching, which I did on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was out of the house very little this weekend. I blame it on the weather. I think it’s starting to get me down. I find myself daydreaming about running along Chrissy Field in the SF sunshine, having brunch out on the back patio at Zasie’s in Cole Valley and walking to the 24th Street Farmer’s Market year round in Noe. I’m homesick and I’m tired of being cold! I also realize I’m having a serious pity party that isn’t be warranted for at least another month. We’re planning a trip home in the next couple of months but until the tickets are booked I’ll just keep on daydreaming.

Besides daydreaming, the weekend consisted of a couple of logs in the fireplace, starting the Dexter series and trying to get Eli and Guy to sit still so we could play with the new camera. He’s so unimpressed.

Eli

Kitty playing nice.

Guy

Followed by kitty playing mean. He’s pissed!

Eli and Guy

The weekend also included of a little baking.

I tried and failed again with trial number two of gluten-free vegan banana bread. I admit, I’m getting closer. This time it was actually bread and not bar. It was light and airy which is an accomplishment. But it was also dry and not banana-y enough. I’ve been sort of stingy with the coconut butter so maybe I’ll add more to the next batch and another banana. In my head I can see the bread I want to make. It has those little pieces of banana swirled around throughout and a golden brown top.  Who knew banana bread could be so difficult?

Here are a few shots of round two. See, actual bread!

vegan gluten-free banana bread vegan gluten-free banana bread

I also need to coat the chocolate chips in cornstarch or gf flour to keep them all from falling to the bottom of the batter. That poor left corner got seriously left out!

It’s not too bad with a little earth balance on top and my mind is now wondering if it would make a good bread pudding. I don’t know how to make bread pudding but it can’t be that hard right…says the girl with two failed recipe attempts under her belt.

Hope you’re weekend was wonderful. If you’re somewhere warm maybe you can stand with your face to the sun and think about me?

Too weird? I get it.

Off to yoga, please let the room be hot!

Enjoy and Exhale!

Twinkly Little Lights and Gluten-Free Banana Bread Muffins

I’m not a baker. I don’t like the exactness it requires or that you often can’t fix mistakes until it’s too late. Dough tastes different from the final product and you can’t just go back and add more salt or a touch more sugar if you find what you’ve made lacking in some way.

However, sometimes it’s good to expand your culinary limits. That’s how this delicious treat came about.

This weekend I started altering a recipe for banana bread that I ran across online. On Sunday I bought bananas, which I usually put straight into the freezer, but I’ve now spent the last four days patiently waiting for them to start browning. Today they were brown, enough.

These muffins are soft on the inside and a little crispy on the outside. They are not overwhelmingly banana-y and have a nuttiness from the almond and flaxseed meal. I was going to make a traditional banana bread loaf but I like built-in portion control with my baked goods. It’s so easy to keep nibbling off a loaf making excuses that you haven’t eaten that much but you can’t deny eating a muffin, or two, and a half. So, muffins it was.

Whichever way you decide to make these, I think you should. Maybe for your family when they come to visit in a few weeks? Or as a special treat to yourself as we get closer to the holidays and things get crazy?

Take a little time, put away the oatmeal packets, the Clif Bars and the Starbucks’ pastries. They get the rest of the year.

Make a cup of tea or coffee and savor these little treats. Savor December. It’ll be gone before you know it and we’ll be wondering why we didn’t take 15 minutes in this busy time to revel in a bit of stillness, some twinkly little lights, the smell of cinnamon and allspice baking in the oven. I can’t imagine you’ll regret any of these things. It may even bring about some unexpected joy in this hurried month.

I’ll step off the holiday soapbox now.

Banana Bread Muffins (vegan, gluten-free)

3/4 cup oat flour

1/2 cup almond meal

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup pitted dates (this is ~12 dates)

1/2 cup +1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas

————

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you’re making your own oat flour, place oats in a food processor until ground.

Before:

Gluten-free oats

After:

Ground Oat Flour

It’s okay if there’s a little texture.

Place oat flour, almond meal, flaxseed meal, allspice, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix.

Process dates with almond milk and vanilla until smooth.

Before:

dates, vanilla, almond milk

After:

date paste

This took about 2 minutes of running the processor consistently, however, I was using my small hand-held one.

Add date mixture to your dry ingredients.

I didn’t want to dirty another bowl for mashing my bananas so I processed my bananas as well. About a minute should do. The bananas were a little creamier than if I had just mashed them but they still turned out fine.

Add bananas to dates and dry ingredients. Stir.

banana puree and muffin batter

Grease a cupcake tin. I used a little cooking spray. Put batter in tin. These didn’t rise much so fill each tin almost to the top.

gluten-free banana bread muffins

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes cleanly out.

gluten-free banana bread muffinsgluten-free banana bread muffins

I may be eating my second one topped with a little bit of peanut butter as I type. 🙂

Enjoy your little slice of the holidays!