Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sour Cream-Blueberry Bread

So I love love love banana bread.  Really any breakfast bread or muffin or scone, but especially good banana bread.  This recipe (from Williams-Sonoma) just took banana bread and like ELEVATED IT.  Just when I did not think that was possible.  Yes.  It has banana.  And blueberries.  And pecans, man.  And sour cream.  This is like really really good stuff.   I could write an ode to this bread.  Oh bread of banana and blueberry and pecans... how you make me long for you... (hahah OK enough).  Here's the deal with this bread.

You need this:

2 medium ripe bananas
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 heaping cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

You do this:

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan.

Mash up the bananas with a fork and measure out 1 cup.

Melt the butter.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda).

Whisk together the eggs,  sour cream, vanilla, cooled butter, and mashed bananas.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Mix until just combined.

Add the blueberries (if using frozen, toss in a bit of flour first so they don't clump)...

And the pecans, and fold in gently.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (this took about 70 minutes in my oven).

Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes.   Run a butter knife carefully along edges of loaf, and turn loaf out onto rack to cool completely.


Pies, Pies, Pies! (and animal cuteness)

Finally! My Thanksgiving pie recipes are posted!  This was a project.  Scroll down to check them out!  There is a Pear Cranberry Almond Tart recipe (OK yes yes yes that is a TART not a PIE but still), a Sweet Potato Pie with Spiced Pecans recipe (yum), and a Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe (with chocolate or without):

Yum! True, none of you will want to make these now but maybe next year you will remember and come back for the recipe... or perhaps I will remind you then!  On to Christmas cookies, let the baking begin!

Some pics of the animals are long overdue:

Lupa does not know what to think about the air popper.  How ADORABLE!


Pear Cranberry Almond Tart

Isn't that pretty?! This tart was MY special Thanksgiving dessert this year and the one that I was excited to eat.  I tend to find pecan pie too rich after the huge meal and although I love the flavor of sweet potato or pumpkin pie, the texture is not my FAVE.  I prefer fruit pies --- I usually would make apple, but my dad was making an apple crisp so I wanted to do something different this year.  Knowing I loved the Pear Almond Tart I made recently, but not wanting to have something so labor intensive or rich, I decided to do a spin on that, adding a cranberry layer for tartness and using a less rich tart crust.  I turned out wonderfully and was unusual and so pretty!

Instead of using a usual tart crust recipe, I omitted the egg and ground nuts that I use in the Pear Almond Tart recipe and instead made a simple pate sucre -- simply adding a tablespoon of sugar to a half recipe of Butter Pie Crust.  This decreased the richness of the tart and tasted great.

I freezed the pie shell for 30 minutes, then prebaked it for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven lined with foil and filled with pie beans, and then removed the foil and beans and baked another 10 minutes. There she is:

To make the cranberry jam layer, I used 12 oz of fresh cranberries, 3/4 cups of water, 6 Tbs sugar and some minced ginger and sauteed it over medium heat for 20 minutes or so.  Transfer it to a bowl and  let it cool on a rack.   Check out the color!

For the almond filling layer, I used the same almond filling recipe as I did in the Pear Almond Tart.  I made that ahead and refrigerated it for a couple hours, although I am not sure how necessary this step is.

 I sliced up some bosc pears (2 large or 3 small), like so:

Once crust and cranberry filling are pretty cool, you can assemble.

First, lay down a layer of cranberry jam:

Top it with almond filling:

Decoratively arrange pear slices on top.  (I think this part is so fun and it is really easy... and it looks so professional after you finish and people are so impressed and go "WOWWW!!" and you can feel rewarded and super cool even though all you did is slice some pears and make a circle)... anyways...

Paint it with some hot water and honey glaze (mix 2 Tbs each to combine):

And bake that beauty for 45 minutes to an hour.  The almond filling should be golden and the pears cooked.  YUM!

Serve and enjoy!

-- Anya

Sweet Potato Pie with Spiced Pecans

This classic southern pie is SO delicious.  I personally prefer it to pumpkin and have made it instead of the last two Thanksgivings.  I topped it with some homemade spiced pecans and used an all-butter pie crust.  Here's the recipe:


1 (1 lb) sweet potato
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) unbaked Butter Pie Crust


1.  Roll out crust and crimp edges.  Refrigerate crust while preparing filling.

2.  Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done.  Run cold water over the sweet potato and remove the skin.

3.  Mash sweet potato in bowl of a stand mixer.

4.  Add butter, and mix well with mixer.

5.  Add sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla.  beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth.

6.  Pour into unbaked pie crust.

7.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 55 to 70 minutes, until almost completely set.  Pie will puff up like  a souffle and then sink down as it cools.  Top with spiced nuts if you wish.


Bourbon Pecan Pie

Nothing says Thanksgiving like pecan pie and this is one of the best recipes I have used.   I doubled the recipe and made one pie with chocolate and one without.  To add the chocolate, just layer 1/2 cup or so of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips in the bottom of the pie before pouring in the filling.  I personally prefer no chocolate -- it overpowered the pie and was too rich for me -- but some people love it. 


1 (9 inch) pie crust (I used an all-butter crust for this recipe).  Find the recipe here: Butter Pie Crust

5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
 3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 Tbs. bourbon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten


1.  Roll out the crust, crimp/flute the edges, and freeze pie shell for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and put one rack in the center and one on the lower third of the oven.  Line shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake on center rack until the dough is set, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and lift out the foil/parchment to remove the beans.  Continue baking until pie shell is lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes more.  Check frequently and push dough down with a fork if it bubbles. 

2.  While the crust is baking, make the filling: In a medium saucepan (I used a large one because I doubled the recipe), combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Bring toa  baoil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. 

3.  Remove from heat, pour in bourbon and vanilla, and nuts.


4.  Set the mixture aside to cool for about 5 minutes.  Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. 

5.  Pour the chocolate into the pie crust, if using.  Then put the pie shell on a baking sheet and pour the filling into the hot crust.

6.  Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes (if the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking).  Cool on a rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.