Some readers might remember my super wonderful Xmas gift which freed me from the confines of a toaster oven. Well, since then I’ve not only been making muffins by more than the 1/2 dozen, I’ve finally done what I’ve been meaning to do for ages and that’s to join the Daring Bakers.
Having to wait out those fantastic looking meringue pies from last month, I was delighted at this month’s announcement: Classic, Julia Child French Bread.
Nothing fancy, no additions. I honestly just wanted to bake it and bask in it’s golden crisp glory. Basic and beautiful like newborn babies, Natalie Portman without make-up or the last of a summer’s day when the sun sinks into a lake in the Northhumberland Highlands. Four simple ingredients which together, have nourished billions. Yeasty, chewy and crisp, with a crust that can leave a scar if not treated with the respect it deserves.
I’ve made bread before, but this being my first go at a Daring Baker’s challenge, I certainly took it very seriously. I in no way wanted to botch or bastardize the instructions handed down by The Julia Child, and it was so worth it.
I mixed and waited and timed and pinched. I stretched, weighed down, flipped and scored, but most of all, I took my time, the bread’s time and it was so, so worth it.
Sometimes simple is perfect.
You can get the detailed instructions from one of this month’s leaders, i like to cook.
Really, go bake some now….
Upon noticing an onslaught of bananas in my frozen hoard and an indecent craving for sweet comfort food, (like I haven’t been eating enough of that lately) I hit my freezer stash and thawed a few bananas.
Even though they go against a local market movement, they were light, sweet and deceivingly healthy (ish). The candied walnuts further pushed these banana muffins to almost gourmet status.
Well, you be the judge:
3 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
WALNUT CRUMB TOPPING
1/2 Cup Walnut Halves or Pieces
1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Margarine
1/8 teaspoon Salt
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
With a fork, mash the bananas in a large bowl.
Add the oil, brown sugar, vanilla and salt; mix well.
Once well combined, add the sifted flour in batches, mixing only to moisten.
Line cooking tin with muffin papers and add enough batter to fill them 2/3 up.
In a small bowl, melt 1 tablespoon of the topping margarine. Toss the walnuts in the melted margarine, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar to coat evenly; set aside.
Combine the remaining margarine and brown sugar with the flour,oats and salt. Mix completely with a fork.
Add spoonfuls of the topping to the waiting muffin batter and top evenly with a few of the sugared walnut pieces.
Bake at 350º on the centre rack for 18 minutes, until firm and golden or insert and remove a toothpick. The muffins are moist but it should come out fairly clean.
Allow muffins to rest in the tin before moving to a rack to cool.
Makes about 10 -12 muffins.
Cindy over at Where’s the Beef tried them out, giving some really great play by play photos along the way!