My first bread pudding!

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It feels kind of wrong posting this now, on such a sunny spring day when I usually eat light summer food. The smell of cinnamon and baked apples, suddenly put me in an Christmas mood and (almost) longing for autumn! But there´s still a crispness to the air, which means that mornings and evenings are still cold, and best enjoyed with a sweet breakfast or dessert. Enter Bread Pudding!

Bread pudding is something that I´ve stumbled upon several times among my many English/American cookbooks, and certainly it´s been mentioned by Jamie and Nigella more than once when talking about comfort food. And I´ve seen pictures of this dessert-thing over and over, over the years. It always seemed intriguing to me, tempting in a comforting way, but not tempting in the way like chocolate, ice-cream, cheesecake or other desserts can do, so although I understood the concept and idea of this dessert, it never made it to the dessert table in my house, because of strong competition (and a chocoholic boyfriend). It wasn´t until a couple of years ago I finally actually got to try bread pudding, when me and boyfriend were eating out, and the menu was set, so no choices for us and no possibility to not choose bread pudding, if that should have appeared on the dessert menu. Luckily for us, it did, as bread pudding was the dessert on the menu that day and was served to us! Any other way, we would have missed out… We shared a mini loaf of bread pudding, and OMG, it was so extremely good! We scraped the bowl to get everything of the good stuff, and agreed it was the best thing on the menu that evening. Later, I got to thinking of baking this for myself and make my own version. Somehow, years went by, with no bread pudding being made. But a couple of days ago, a picture of bread pudding from my pie-book caught my eye. And a few days earlier I bought a sour dough bread which turned out to have ONE gigantic hole instead of the usually many few, making it difficult to use for spreads or fillings. So, what to do…? I don´t throw food, I get creative!

Croutons? Nah – boring. Plus, I don´t plan on having a salad where it could be used for the next days. French toast? Nah, that wouldn´t look good with that hole. But maybe something french-toast-like, like…. Bread Pudding! Yaaay! That´s what I´m making!

I´m glad I realized that this was an overnight project, because it´s oh so disappointing when your mind (sweet tooth) is set on something, and you don´t get it because “it needs time”. Since this was my first time doing this, i certaintly needed a recipe as a starting point. But since the recipe said 12-15 servings, and I´m only one (one person – though I definetely can take more than one serving…) I needed to adjust the amounts, and adding apple and the topping, I made my own version, and a very good one! The only problem was that I only had a family-sized baking dish, resulting in a not so tall bread pudding. But who cares – It´s my first bread pudding, cut me some slack. And besides, low height with a large surface equals more crispy topping!

Bread Pudding

120 grams sour dough bread

1 egg

50 g sugar

1 dl full cream

1.5 dl milk

1 apple

Topping:

10 g butter

20 g sugar

20 g oats

(Any white bread can be used, but I felt sour dough was perfect as the acidity balances out the sweetness. But if you want to go all in, for more sweetness, feel free to use whatever: toast-bread, brioche or leftover croissants or cinnamon-rolls, if such things exist!)

Instructions

Spray a 20×30 cm (9×13 inch) baking dish with nonstick spray.

Cut or tear the bread in cubes or chunks, and line your dish with one layer of bread cubes.
Cut the apple, and put it in a pan along with cinnamon, water and half the amount of sugar. Stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat and spoon the filling onto the bread layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect, Just spread the apples about.Top the apple with another layer of bread and pack tightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.
Pour mixture over the bread. Cover with foil and let chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.When ready to prepare, take bread out of the fridge and let rest on the counte.

Preheat oven to 150 C/ 350F.
Prepare the topping: Mix together butter, sugar, and oats. Spread over the top of the bread. Again, doesn’t have to be perfect.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until bread is fully toasted and eggs are set. Let cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, with cream, yoghurt or  ice cream if so inclined. Enjoy!

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Super moist bananabread with pecans!

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First things first: Is it banana bread? Or is it banana cake? To me, it´s cake. I mean, when I can choose between cake and bread – well, the answer it pretty much given… And another thing, why would one call it bread, by any means? It contains lots of sugar, butter, fruits and no yeast – unlike any bread. But you do, usually, bake it in a bread-like-pan…. So I guess that´s why it´s got it´s bread-name. Anyway, who cares, as long as it tastes like cake! And when you can present it as bread, though in reality it is a cake, everyone´s concience is clean: The baker´s and the eater´s. (Or mine, as it would be called in my case…)

I had some very overripe bananas lying around – and so starts every story of a banana bread. (cake)
Actually, I had kind of let them overripe on purpose, so I could have an excuse to bake with them! But only partly…My mother bought all kinds of food, and pretty much filled my fridge and freezer before she left, so it was inevitable that something would – not go to waste – but, end up in baked goods. Maybe that was her plan all along. Ahh, she knows me too well!

So, Sunday came, the bananas were brown as ever, and I had cake-cravings! Off to the bookshelf to find a nice recipe. I do have a couple of winner banana-bread recipes, that are just amazingly good, but I´m kind of in this getting-to-use-my-cookbooks-flow for the moment, so I grabbed three candidates and started the search. I almost turned to Dorie, again, but then it would be a bundt, and not a loaf. I wanted a loaf. And I feel with her, I shouldn´t change the recipe too much, I have a feeling it´s best to leave it to her. And I wanted to use some yoghurt and nuts, cause that´s good stuff in a banana bread. So, finally, I picked the banana pecan bread, from Leila Lindholm´s Piece of Cake. The picture of that bread was one of the first things that got stuck on my mind from that book, along came many other things… And one of the reasons I got the book! Besides, it´s so pretty! But, I haven´t really baked anything from it yet besides a bread, so it was about time I started the serious business – on to the cakes!

I adapted the recipe slightly, substituting some of the butter with yoghurt, powdered sugar with sugar, and some of the flour with whole wheat, but the original recipe goes like this. And I only had 3 bananas… But I don´t have the measurements I used, so I present to you the original recipe!

Pecan-banana bread

150 g butter
1 dl sugar
2 dl powdered sugar
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs
3 dl flour
1 ts baking powder
pinch of salt
75 g pecan nuts

Stir the sugars and butter light and creamy.
Mash the bananas (keeping a few chunks if you like – I know I do!) and stir them into the batter. Add the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients and pecans, and gently fold them into the batter. Pour into a buttered loaf-pan, and bake the cake for about 30 minutes in the center of the oven. (Mine needed longer) A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow to slightly cool, and dig in!

This cake can be served pretty much any way you like: Warm or cold, with our without butter, nutella, ice cream….you get the picture. I thought it was really good straight from the oven, warm and nice, so that the butter I added just melted into the cake. But on the other hand, it´s also really good the second, or third day, when it has had time to set – then you really get the moistness of this cake… Yummy either way!

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Homemade peanut butter

I’m not really sure how the idea of making my own peanut butter entered my mind, or where it came from. All I know, is once the thought of homemade peanut butter hit me, that was pretty much all I could think of. And I cursed myself for not thinking of this sooner. But then again, peanut butter is actually a rather new acquaintance in my life, so I guess it was soon enough. We don’t go back that long, PB and I, only about a year. Of course I knew about this product, but I didn’t buy it or eat it on a regular basis. Meaning never. And you know, if a product isn’t part of your grocery shopping routine, you pass it in the aisles, and unless it is presented right in front of you, you forget that it exsits. That’s the way it works around here anyway, and that’s exactly what happened to peanut butter and me. But luckily, we reunited. For life. I will never forget you again, PB!

What made me approach the peanut butter shelf in the store, was a blog post about oatmeal and peanutbutter. I love oatmeal, and I found this combination intrigueing enough to actually buy pb. And then it was done. Iwas in love. With oatmeal and peanutbutter, and peanutbutter itself. It’s now officially on my breakfast list which consists of a few chosen items. I am extremely predictable when it comes to breakfast. I think it goes back to the days when I was a little girl, and all I liked was mayo and cucumber or mayo and tomato on my bread. But that’s another story…

Anyway. I made my peanut butter without a recipe, but there are some out there if you want to do it right. Some recipes requires oil and salt, some only oil and some only peanuts. Roasted or unroasted. I figured it couldn’t go all wrong, as long as I had the main ingredient – peanuts. And I was right, it didn’t go all wrong! I forgot to roast the peanuts (though that was the ONE thing I was going to do) but it still turned out delicious. But next time I’ll be sure to roast them, for extra flavour.

Peanut butter

Peanuts (roast for 30 minutes on 175 C)
Vegetable Oil
Salt

Place the peanuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Place the lid back on and continue to process while slowly drizzling in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Take a spoon, or better yet, a finger and do a taste test. If approved, place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Enjoy!

Peshawari Naan

I cannot explain how much I love Indian food. I eat it on a very regular basis. Weekly, actually. Luckily, my boyfriend shares my enthusiasm, so it’s very easy to decide on Indian when we want something tasty for the weekend. We’ve both developed great skills, if I may say so, in preparing Indian food at home. Practise makes perfect I guess! But there is one thing that’s been missing in our very private Indian restaurant. And that is naan. When we go out to eat Indian, like most other people, we order naan. But not the plain kind. No, no, no. The peshawari kind, also known as sweet naan. It’s like regular naan bread, but with a sweet filling of raisins, nuts and sugar.

If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to! Next time swap the regular naan for some peshawari goodness. That sweet taste goes so well together with the spicy Indian dishes. I cannot recall exactly how I discovered it, or when or how the transmission from plain naan to peshawari went, but I guess I read about it. And since I like all things sweet, I imagined this would be delicious, and quite right, this is seriously good. And ever since I took my first bite into peshawari naan, there was no going back. Naan would never be the same. From now on naan to me equals peshawari naan.

But at home, we can’t order naan. And I’ve always thought of it as too much work, though I’ve been wanting to make it for years. So until now, naan has been replaced with garlic bread. If I only knew how ridiculously easy it would be to make naan, (I thought I would need a spesific oven, maybe some strange flour and it took me quite a while to figure out that the mystery filling in sweet naan was actually things as common as raisins and nuts) I would have started a long time ago. But better late then never. My new year’s resolution works! (I marked several recipes I’ve been meaning to try – naan beeing one of them)
It was so good – the texture was just right, and the filling….. Ohhh my. From now on, there will always be peshawari naan in this household. Ready for any Indian dinner!

I found a recipe from my beloved book The Complete Book of Indian Cooking by Veronica Sperling. Probably one of my favourite cookbooks. I also used it for the lamb pasanda I made. But the recipe said not to fill the naans, but that’s what I wanted, so I found a recipe on BBC by Anjum Anand as well. So my naans were something in between, I guess. I used almonds instead of pistachios for instance. Here’s the BBC recipe:

Ingredients
250g/8¾oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
110-130ml/4½fl oz milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
30g/1oz flaked almonds
1 tbsp butter, melted, for serving

Filling
70g/2½oz pistachios, shells removed (or almonds)
35g/1¼oz raisins
1½ tsp caster sugar

Directions

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the milk and oil together in a separate bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients.
Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the well until you have a smooth, soft dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for at least an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Then knock back and form into five equal-sized balls.

For the filling, pulse together the pistachios, raisins and sugar in a food processor until the mixture forms a coarse powder. Divide into five equal portions.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting and place a heavy baking sheet on the top shelf to heat.
Roll out each of the five portions of dough balls into thick circles. Fill half of each circle with one portion of the filling leaving about a one-inch margin around the edge. Wet the dough around the edges with a little water and fold each circle in half to enclose the filling. Pinch the dough around the edges to close.

Gently roll out each naan into a teardrop or oval shape. Prick with a fork and place the naan on the hot baking sheet and grill for about 1-2 minutes until there are nice brown spots on the surface. Brush with the melted butter and serve hot.

Chocolate pistachio fudge

Christmas is here and I’m all wrapped up in gingerbread, presents and ornaments. To me, as to so many others, Christmas and advent is so much about the food. Gingerbread, cookies, breads, sweets and other things that will fill the house with that lovely Christmas smell. Somethings are already baked: The gingerbread house me and my boyfriend constructed, still stands (hurray!), looks good, but smells even better. That’s my number one reason to make gingerbread – instant Christmas smell! I also like to give away edible presents, so I preserved some plums when they were in season and some pears as well. And last week, I had my girlfriends over for a little workshop, and we made different kinds of sweets. Homemade sweets for Christmas is both fun to give and receive. I had seen this recipe on Nigella Express, and it looked so good, I had to try it. And quite easy to, which we all like in this busy time of the year.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge
350g chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids, chopped
1 can condensed milk (397 g)
30g butter
pinch salt
150g unsalted pistachios, shells removed

Place everything apart from the nuts in a heavy-based pan over a low heat and stir until melted and well combined. Place the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into some large and some small pieces. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into a 23cm square tray, smoothing the top with a wet palette knife.
Let the fudge cool, then refrigerate until set. Cut into small pieces.
Once cut, the fudge can be kept in the freezer – there’s no need to thaw, just eat straight away. Or give some away!

Satisfactory chocolate chip cookies – but not the best ever

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At least this batch wasn’t. But don’t be mislead by the title of this post. The cookies are good, great actually! Nothing wrong with them, I guess I just hoped for more. But that is so individual, so they might be perfect in your taste! I love cookies, and like so many others I’m on an everlasting search for the ulitmate chocolate chip cookie recipe. Even so, I haven’t experimented that much with it, so whenever I see a recipe that includes the words “best” and “ever” I’m intrigued. Easily influenced, me? Nooo….

This was one of those recipes. Simply named: Best chocolate chip cookies ever. I found it on one of my many favourite food blogs: www.visionsofsugarplum.com
And the photos were so tempting too, by far the most beautiful cookies I have laid my eyes on. They looked soo delicious. These cookies had to be made.

I had faith in this recipe. There were several aspects that made me believe this could be it. The holy grail of chocolate chip cookies. Number one: Browned butter. Butter is good, so browned butter in addition had to be even better. Never heard of that in a cookie recipe before, so I was curious about this. Number two: Yeast. In a cookie recipe? Really? Interesting. Number three: Chilling the dough. Ok, that’s probably no culinary epiphany, but I’ve never done it before, cause when I bake cookies, I crave them and want instant satisfaction. Anything that will slow me down will be left out as far as it goes. There were several other tricks that made this recipe special, but these were the things I focused on. The original recipe from visionsofsugarplum follows, but I made a few adjustments. I used regular salt instead of kosher, I replaced granulated sugar with demerara, and used toasted hazelnuts instead of walnuts.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for sprinkling
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (60%)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions:
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; continue to cook the butter, whisking frequently, until it starts to brown and foam, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking soda; stir in yeast and salt until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat softened butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined and grainy, about 1 minute; beat in browned butter for 1 additional minute. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined; stir in chocolate and walnuts with a wooden spoon until combined. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (You could speed up this process by placing the dough in the freezer for about 40 minutes.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a cookie sheet.

Drop 1/4 cup measures of dough onto cookie sheet, forming into large mounds, and flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Cool 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Makes 16 large cookies

When I took them out of the oven, the first feeling of disappoinment hit me. My cookies didn’t look anything like hers….. Her cookies looked a lot better. But hey, it’s what inside that counts, right?
I snapped a few pictures, and took a bite. Hmm. Chewy and soft, but not so much crisp and buttery. And according to Emily, hers were all that. But, I guess I have to blame myself and no one else. I didn’t really measure up the butter, and I have a feeling I might have used to little. I was missing that crunchy buttery feeling only butter can give. When will I have to learn. Measure when baking!!! Especially with new recipes… I have to make this again to do the recipe justice. You live you learn I guess. Some just slower than other. But this is starting to sound like a cookie disaster, but it wasn’t at all. They were good, but not good enough to conclude that this is the best chocolate chip cookie ever. The hunt continues!