Tag Archives: tea

A Chocolate Chip Off the Quick Bread

It wasn’t something I was planning on, but something lead me to it. Outside, it’s been very cold … bones freezing and a horrid cough creeps in and out of me, provoked by the cold air. My body craves warmth, deeper than what Vicks vapor rub can do for my respiratory system. I find myself therefore standing in the middle of my kitchen where I see the oven and the burners, the only hearth I know can yield the warmth my body desperately needs to get me over this terrible cold lingering inside my system.

I want something that goes well with tea. Jasmine tea, ginger tea and lemon tea have been the drink of choice these past couple of months to warm the throat and tone down this unsparing barrage of cough coming from me. Frankly, without any added sweetener, the tastelessness finally wears my palate down, and the drab inside my mouth searches for something to compliment tea.

Given the ingredients available to me, I came up with a gluten free chocolate chip bread. In the pantry, there were chocolate chips, sugar, a medley of gluten free flours and olive oil. I still had a tub of sour cream from Costco that needed to be finished along with some eggs. I wanted to use all of these and ended up putting together a somewhat decent gluten free quick bread that I believe matches tea very well.

Chocolate Chip Bread
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Bread

Dry:
80 g garbanzo bean flour
60 g potato flour
20 g coconut flour
100 g tapioca starch
40 g arrowroot starch
1/2 t xanthan Gum
1/2 t baking Soda
1/2 t salt (Kosher)
1 1/2 t baking soda

Wet:
150 g sugar
1/3 C olive oil
1 C sour cream
1 C milk
2 ea eggs
1 t vanilla

2 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375*. Grease or coat 2 one pound loaf pans and set aside.

Combine and whisk together all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until all the flour mixture is moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips until well distributed throughout the batter.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two loaf pans and bake in a 375* oven for 20 minutes. Turn the loaf pans and bake another 20 minutes, this time turning the oven heat down to 325*.

Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes. Slice and eat to your heart’s desire! With tea, of course!

Afterthought:

There are plenty of recipes out there on the internet, more alike in so many ways, but different because they are found in different sites. It is the baker’s duty to read these recipes and catch the anomalies, inconsistencies and edits these recipes undergo because though they look good on paper, how it looks in the bowl sometimes goes against the baker’s instincts. I didn’t realize I had these instincts until I came across a recipe I was trying out which at the end simulated cookie dough rather than a loose quick bread batter. At first sight of this quick bread, I thought my entire body was at a standstill. My mind couldn’t move forward and was urging me to add liquid. Had I not added some milk into the batter, this entire blog entry might be saturated with disappointment rather than pride and joy. So for all the bakers out there, novice or experienced, do not ignore those baker’s instincts when you proceed through a recipe… or else you might just regret slicing into a rock rather than a piece of bread. Best of luck and Happy Holidays!

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Finger Tea Breads: My Favorite Mistake

What’s with a mistake? I hate making mistakes. It’s the only thing I really hate and I don’t hate much of anything in this world. But the word is inevitable. We are imperfect beings after all and most of our lives are riddled with mistakes. It is the other educator that prods us and shapes our very character depending on whether we learn from them or not. Especially in the kitchen, our very mistakes and how we react to them can possibly determine what kind of cooks we will turn out to be.

Weekends now are devoted to refining the craft of baking. I was a baker for two years and enjoyed it thoroughly. However, because of my inability to adapt to the baker’s schedule and its sometime unmerciful solitary hours, I bowed out. Three years have passed and the act of it is something that my body misses, from the motion of kneading to shaping breads. I miss the touch of flour against my skin, its accidental dusting across my navy blue apron. I miss the smell of yeast awakening inside a bowl of warm water, the scent of dough coming out of the proof box and the buttery perfume croissants emit when I pull them out of the oven.

These smells now permeate my kitchen on my days off, except, nowadays, they lean more towards gluten free. Muffins, sandwich bread and, of course, the favorite and everyone’s request… the gluten free banana bread. My niece loves this bread and so does my 20 month old nephew who will dare climb a chair up towards the dining table to help himself to piece of this bread. (This, perhaps, is the greatest compliment I could receive about my baking.)

Banana Brick Loaf
5 sandwich loaves and 4 banana breads to be baked off during the weekend. That was the plan when I came off my six day work week last week. My goal was to replenish my whittling stock of gluten free bread along with some banana breads for the family. Everything was going well up until my second batch of banana breads, which somehow wouldn’t get color in the oven. I’ve been baking all afternoon and this final batch of banana breads were taking unusually longer inside the oven. Immediately, I had that feeling… I’ve made a mistake. It was too firm to the touch and way too pale. When I unmolded it from the pan and dropped it onto the cooling rack, they resembled bars more so than bread. It reminded me of brick bars. I wondered what ingredients I left out.

Picking up a slice, the bread seemed moist so it couldn’t be bad, but it was dense, which means that I probably omitted the baking soda which kept it from rising. Upon taste, it was mostly sweet and that meant that I also skipped the salt. Darn it! All that labor to come up with a mistake!

Working in a professional kitchen, I carry with me the trauma of mistakes. It wouldn’t be so bad, but my novice years in a pastry kitchen were spent training under a French chef whose blood boiled at the drop of inefficiencies, discrepancies and mistakes. Mistakes meant redoing and that meant more time spent on hourly wages not to mention the sometimes detrimental feedback from a waiting customer. Mistakes meant wasted products which can be costly so he would never allow me to forget my mistakes. Incorrectly measured ingredients sometimes meant getting yelled at and falling under harsh scrutiny for the rest of the day. Mistakes sometimes became too dramatic and wasn’t all that fun. Because of this, I hated making mistakes in the kitchen.

3 slices banana dense
Over the years, I’ve also grown. It took this weekend’s mistake to realize that I can shift my perspective and actually look at this banana brick bar and view it as a gold bar. I was fond of the bar shape and I was fond of the banana taste to it. Because it is dense and firm, these might even be its positive aspects to the bread. My mind was suddenly turning one light bulb after another suggesting different uses for the bread. If I sliced the bread about a centimeter thick, I can dip it in egg and turn it into finger french toasts; slip it into the oven and turn it into biscottis. It’s amazing when you remove defeat from your mind… this mistake, I happily turned it into peanut butter banana finger tea breads.

I took the same centimeter size slices and toasted them on the pan until both sides were golden. I removed them from the pan and cooled them a bit before spreading a healthy amount of peanut butter and sprinkling atop with cranberries, shredded coconut and sunflower seeds. There are endless possibilities for toppings. And if I had Nutella, for sure this would have been on top of that. But for this, I went with the classic peanut butter and banana combination and it is surely a mistake, placing trauma aside, I certainly want to repeat again and again as I look forward to enjoying it with a cup of tea or coffee in the future.

Beautiful Mistakes

Gluten Free Banana Bars

100 g Garbanzo FLour
60 g Tapioca Starch
40 g Arrowroot Starch

1/2 C olive oil
3/4 C sugar

3 ea medium bananas, mashed
1/2 C sour cream
1 t vanilla
2 ea eggs

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease 2 one pound loaf pans and set aside. Mix flours and starch and set aside.

Whisk olive oil and sugar together until emulsified. Add mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and whisk until fairly mixed. Fold in flours.

Divide between the loaf pans and bake between 25-30 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and slice to accomodate either finger tea bread, finger french toast or biscotti. Enjoy!

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Blueberry Love and Hate

In the six years I worked in a pastry kitchen, none was more memorable than my tour of duty as a baker. Perhaps because it was the last station that I would rotate to before departing from the pastry kitchen altogether, but also because of how grueling it can be as a baker. Turning my body’s internal clock around was no easy task and, therefore, I found myself sleepless for two years without substantial rest until the weekend. And even then it was a struggle to put myself to sleep on my second day off in order to get ready for my Monday shift which started at 1:30 a.m. For two years, I walked like a zombie for the sake of learning breads.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

I discovered a love hate relationship with certain tasks a baker took on. I took pride in being a baker, but the amount of work was tedious. Thought I love muffins, making hundreds of them every night wore me down. I didn’t realize this when I first took on the baker’s position. I loved learning the process of making croissants and danishes, but there was a price to this and they were the muffins. People pushed paper for work, I pushed muffins. I mixed the batter and scooped them endlessly ’til my right wrist hurt. Then I would scoop some more with the left and alternate until all the mix was gone. I remember joy when I left this mass muffin baking behind and I swore I would never look, touch or taste a muffin again.

Then arrived a morning when I became gluten free. Can’t bear to have eggs for breakfast day after day or that gluten free pancake. Got to have something different this time. I wanted simple, something I could grab with a cup of coffee. And the blueberry entered my head. There was no way of getting around it. I knew I was going to embark on making a gluten free blueberry muffin.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin BatterThinking about it placed me back in the baker’s kitchen, tirelessly scooping blueberry muffins and topping with more blueberries until my hands were blue. I would be considered regal if I dated back to the first civilization around the Mesopotamia, but looking at my blue stained hands just looked tacky. Night after night without help and it felt as though a race with myself before the timer for the first batch of muffins were done in the oven. The anxiety sets in…

But I would just be making a dozen and not 24 dozen which is good. And once I get the flour blend right, it would be easy. Yes. Set the timer for 20 minutes and a different product from the oven would come out altogether. Right. A beautiful blueberry muffin righteous for me to devour and my stomach to enjoy. Correct!

Even with this love hate relationship with the muffin, it shall always be a wavering thing because no matter what caused me to feel great anxiety or feel some aversion to it, I believe I can overcome the psychological reasons behind it. Of course there’s more to the tedium, but because the blueberry muffin in its pure essence is such an enjoyable muffin, I find that blueberries are small entities of home and regardless the path I walked as a baker, there’s always room for a blueberry muffin.

Gluten Free Blueberry MuffinGluten Free and Grain Free Sour Cream Blueberry Muffin
(about 12 muffins)

Dry:
40 g Garbanzo Flour
30 g Coconut Flour
30 g Almond Flour
70 g Tapioca Starch
30 g Arrowroot Starch
150 g sugar
1 t cream of tartar
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Wet:
3/4 C + 2 T sour cream
1 T olive oil
1 t vanilla
1 ea egg
zest from 1 small lemon

1 & 1/2 C frozen blueberries plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 375*. Line muffin pan with muffin cups.

In a bowl, combine and mix wet ingredients including lemon zest, set aside. In another bowl, combine and whisk all of the dry ingredients together.

Add wet mixture in with the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until combined. Fold in blueberries just until well dispersed inside the batter. Scoop batter into the muffin cups and top with more blueberries. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Enjoy muffin with a cup of coffee, tea or milk.

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