Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting


008  You want to know what my favourite smell in the whole wide work is?  Actually, I have two.  Apple cinnamon and banana bread.  I find the aroma just tantalizing.  My mouth legitimately waters.  Apple cinnamon reminds me of Christmas.  I have no idea why.  Perhaps it’s my mother’s fault.  You know those glade plug in things?  Well around Christmas she would always buy the apple cinnamon ones, and apple cinnamon candles.  Our whole house was just one big burst of apple cinnamon.  They do say that smell is the sense that is most closely linked to memory.  Plus my grandmother would always bake pies during the holidays.  I fondly remember her small house just filling with the scent of baking apples.  Fantastic.  Banana bread reminds me of the smell of a bakery.  Every time I walk into a bakery I feel that’s all I smell. Banana bread has a really comforting scent, it always makes me feel warm.  Every time we have a frightfully cold winter day (which is often since I live in Northern Ontario) or some sort of ice cold rainy fall day (again, often) I just crave banana bread.  Yesterday was really rainy and really cold.  And while I was already planning to make banana bread this week, on my way home from work yesterday, after feeling the biting wind against my skin, after getting caught in the rain on my way to my car, I said, screw it, I NEED banana bread, and I need it tonight.  So I drove to the grocery store, picked up the ingredients I knew I didn’t have at home, and got baking.  Funny thing is I didn’t actually eat any last night! Maybe I just needed the smell to comfort me against the awful, below average temperatures that we’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks.  I’m actually pretty used to the cold by now…well I should be any way, I’ve been living in this part of the province for almost 15 years, and I’ve developed somewhat of a love for the snowy weather we have.  But sometimes I just wish we could have a little more heat in the summers.

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So let’s talk banana bread.  I was very excited about this recipe.  As most of you may know, while I have developed a serious love for baking, I’ve actually only been baking since last November, not even a full year, so I haven’t actually tried a lot of different recipes in comparison to other food bloggers out there.  And, for the majority of my baking career, I was actually focusing mostly on cake and cupcake decorating.  So this is still new to me.  I have never in my life made any form of bread, dessert bread or otherwise.  In the next bit I’m hoping to create a “baking bucket list” if you will, perhaps including things like pastries, and paninis, and different types of breads and muffins and dessert bars! But for now, I’m sharing with you my first ever bread baking experience.  And…it actually went pretty smooth.  While I’m not sure if I’m ready to venture out on my own and create my own recipes (yet) I’m getting really good at measuring properly, folding ingredients, and mixing ingredients.  I know that sounds funny “Kelsey, all you have to do is follow the damn recipe!”  But it’s not quite that simple you know.  Some things you scoop, some things you pour, some things you use a mixer, some things you don’t, some things require folding, while others mixing.  Like I keep saying, again and again, Cooking is an Art, Baking is Chemistry.  It’s Precise. My favourite part about baking is how many different things there are to make, how many different versions of things you can make.  By simply changing one ingredient, you can change the entire recipe, the entire taste.  It’s like I’m an evil genius creating fantastic new evil things every single evil day! Muahahahahahah evil laugh.  And by evil, I mean awesome, and by genius, I mean baking genius.  Lately I have been getting all my recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and there is a reason for that…all of her recipes are totally awesome and I can’t get enough of them!  This banana bread recipe is one that is from her recipe index.  You can find the link here     

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Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 1 loaf. Store bread in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 7 days. Frost right before serving. Banana bread tastes best on day 2 after the flavors have settled together. Unfrosted banana bread freezes well, up to 2 months.

Ingredients

Banana Bread009
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed (or dark brown sugar)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt, or as needed
  • chopped pecans to sprinkle on top, optional

Baking Directions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lightly spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Make the bread: Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed, about 3 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt, mashed bananas and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer if using a stand mixer. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together until combined. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Slowly stir everything together until no more flour pockets remain. Do not overmix. Fold in the pecans.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 60-65 minutes, loosely covering the bread with aluminum foil at the 30 minute mark. This will prevent the top and sides from getting too brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  5. Make the frosting: beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy, and combined thoroughly. Add powdered sugar and beat until thick and combined. Add milk and beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more powdered sugar until desired thickness is reached. Add salt to taste. I a quick shake of salt to cut the sweetness.
  6. Spread the frosting on the cooled banana bread. There may be some frosting leftover depending how thick you layer it on top. Sprinkle with additional pecans, if desired.

Clearly this is not me following a “healthier baking” promise I made to myself. So..I decided to calculate the calories. Do you want to know? I don’t think you do. Lets just say I left a lot of room in MyFitnessPal today for this bread.  A lot. I managed to cut the bread into 16 pieces, meaning each slice is 325 calories… I think I’ll be going for a jog tonight…well, probably not, but yikes! Oh well, enjoy anyways! Have that extra piece, enjoy those extra calories! This banana bread is well worth it.  Happy Baking!

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A different kind of baking…

184Okay. I know. I suck. A month since my last post.  I wish I could say it was because I’m EXTREMELY busy, and have no time for anyone or anything, but let’s be serious, it’s summer, the weather is fantastic, and I’m spending the majority of my weekends at camp.  As I predicted I am just not making the time this summer.  Plus, after the sweltering 40 degree heat wave (Celsius, not Fahrenheit for my american friends) we just had, I am in no mood to turn on my oven in my unairconditioned apartment, no mood I tell you!    However, the other night I did throw a little something in the oven, and I really had to share.  It’s less of a “omg I want to eat this now” kinda thing and more of a “omg I want to keep this forever” kinda thing.  So, allow me to fill you in.

One of my best friends in the entire world is going on a big adventure, and moving half way across the world to England, where she will be teaching for one year.  She leaves next Sunday and will be hopping on the plane to her new home Monday night.  I am super excited for her.  I thought I would make her a little something for her trip.  Something…friendship-y.  So after a quick search on Pinterest I found a fantastic idea.  Friendship mugs! There are four of us in our little group, so I thought, why not make little friendship mugs for everyone?? Such a fun and nifty idea!  So i did, and here are the steps I took to make it:

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Step one. Buy a mug.

Step two. Buy a Sharpie.

Step three. Write on mug with Sharpie.

Step four. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Now, I gotta say, Pinterest, you have rarely steered me wrong, but as rinsed my beautiful new friendship mug I noticed a slight smudge from one of my lines on my Province of Ontario, right around the Attawapiskat area. Poor Attawapiskat. So anyway, I decided to do more research, and found this site. Thank you breebarkley for your fantastic DIY Sharpie mugs.  Although I only wish I had found you sooner. Here’s what miss breebarkley had to say:

1. Not all Sharpies stay the same colour once baked.  She implies that Red Sharpies often fade to yellow…mine didn’t but that’s probably because it wasn’t baked at the proper temperature.  Through her experience, BIC red markers seem to stay red.

2. Bake at 425 degrees, not 350 degrees, as the glaze on the mug is not hot enough to bind with the marker.

3. The mug needs to be placed in the oven before you turn it on.  This prevents cracking.  It should be baked for 30 minutes.  The timer can be turned on once it’s place in the oven (unless your oven takes forever to heat up, like mine, in which case you can turn on the timer once it reaches 425).

4. When the 30 minutes is up, do not take the mug out of the oven, instead, leave it in there while the over cools to prevent it from cracking.

5. Once the mug has cooled, do the water test….does the ink come off? smudge? anything? If so, do it again.

Other tips include letting the mug sit for 24 hours after drawing your design, using painters tape to help keep your writing straight, and using a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to fix mess ups.  It’s also a good idea to watch your mug while its in the oven, they can sometimes brown a little bit.  You can find the full blog post at the link I provided above.

So I’m definitely rebaking mine, I want this mug to last me more than a day. This mug sure does hold alot though; I was able to fit in an XL tea from Tim Horton’s this morning…much needed caffeine as it’s Friday morning and my mind is already on my couch with a glass of red wine in one hand, and an Xbox controller in the other.  So I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial…. I know you can’t eat this kind of baking but still, is it not super neat??  Happy Baking friends!!!

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