Apple Cider Brie Bread

Montana continues to torment me with gorgeous days in the 40s before it kicks back up to nearly 70 again. I am ready for soup and sweaters, dangit. Fortunately this recipe is delicious independent of outdoor temps, so we can enjoy it all year round.

I’ve been making whole wheat beer bread for years, largely as way to use up beer taking up space since I don’t care for it in beverage form. Last year while planning my April grilled cheese series, I debated an apple and cheese combination but ultimately went in another direction. (I may revisit this series next April, stay tuned.) However, it reminded me of the perfect pairing of apple and brie, and it stuck in my mind as something to work in another area. With a garage overwhelmed with hard ciders (I am really bad at drinking, guys) and no reason any beer-esque beverage shouldn’t work, I modified it to utilize some of those bottles.

My test batch I made exactly as one would with regular beer (well, with less sugar), and was surprised at how much I loved it. With a much more subtle taste than a beer bread, it makes a great side dish for anything where you are looking for a more neutral flavor. Goes great with chicken soup, tomato soup, or anything you’d normally pair with beer bread. If I’m honest, I make this version a lot more often than the beer version, just because it’s so much more versatile in its complements.

However I felt I could improve the individual bread experience, and set out to do just that. With the addition of grated apple and diced Brie, it turns the bread into something to enjoy all by itself. It’s a wonderful breakfast or afternoon snack, and is delicious toasted and plain, or with a light spread of tart jam or peanut butter. Unlike beer bread, this version also pairs well with tea, which is nice for those of us that don’t drink coffee late in the day (or at all…weirdos).

So whether autumn has truly arrived or not, comfort yourself with a tasty batch of cider bread, and toast (wink wink) to the new season.

Apple Cider Brie Bread

Adapted from Whole Wheat Beer Bread
Makes one 9×5″ loaf

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 (12 oz) can or bottle hard cider

1 medium apple, grated (no need to core or peel; just pick out the seeds while you’re grating)
4 oz Brie cheese, diced (leave out to keep vegan)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour in the cider and stir until completely combined.
  4. Gently fold in apple and cheese.
  5. Scrape into the prepared pan, smoothing the top as best you can.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out crumb-free.
  7. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. Excellent solo or lightly toasted and spread with a tart jam.

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Banana Cacao Nib Scones

Hello my lovely readers, I hope the beginning of the new year is going smoothly for everyone. (If you want to get straight to the recipe, feel free to skip to the non-italicized text.) With regards to resolutions, this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Alongside my usual set of running/baking/professional goals, I’ve decided to set a theme: mindfulness. Each month I am going to focus on being more mindful about something in my life. After reading the cookbook Run Fast, Eat Slow I have been inspired to make January’s theme into Mindful Eating.

This doesn’t mean counting calories or following a list of restricted items, but it’s more about improving my relationship with food. It’s easy to feel guilty about eating (or not eating) certain things, to rush through meals in order to move onto something else, to just make things because they’re easy and fast and not because I’m particularly excited to eat them. This month I’m going to focus on food in a way that makes me happy, both mentally and physically: taking the time to make things from scratch as well as actually slowing down and enjoying what I’m eating; having fewer meals in front of a screen; enjoying decadent items as treats not cheats; focusing on what makes me feel happy and energetic and ready for the days to come. 

This is intended to be a long-term change in the way I really think about food. Although I’m not one to be exacting about my diet, I do often feel restricted by what society is touting as healthy these days. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean low-fat or low-calorie, carbs are not the devil and sugar isn’t the end of the world. Certainly I am going to be mindful of eating unnecessary added sugar, but I already know a low-carb diet doesn’t work that great for me, fats are important for flavor and staying power, and I want every calorie I eat to come from something I enjoy. I will no longer be describing anything as “guilt-free” because food should not be inherently shameful. I would love to hear your thoughts on this endeavor, should you be willing to share them. (Also I highly recommend the book, and you can expect to see some of those recipes on here in the coming months.)

In light of that, today we have another recipe that I made mostly out of curiosity. Consistent readers (and anyone that knows me in real life) will know that I don’t bake anything dairy-free, gluten-free, flourless, or vegan with any amount of regularity because these are not food traits I personally find important. I am, however, often intrigued by such recipes and will make them on occasion just for funsies.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for things I don’t buy, like self-raising flour, coconut sugar, and almond meal, but I followed her modification suggestions and made a few of my own to tailor the recipe for myself. I replaced some of the flour with ground oatmeal for a heartier flavor, nixed the almond meal in favor of chia seeds, and used regular ole’ brown sugar instead of coconut sugar. I cut the sugar way back since I was figuring the banana adds a fair amount of sweetness (and because I already have my favorite sweeter scones) and added some whole oatmeal for texture.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

A few weeks ago I found some cacao nibs on massive clearance, and bought two of the bags. They were a great addition to these scones, no extra sugar but a little bit of chocolate flavor to enhance the banana. However they are definitely not cheap so feel free to leave them out or use mini chocolate chips as a more decadent replacement.

These scones are fairly dense but soft and moist and delicious. They are also pretty healthy, with low amounts of added sugar and a little bit of protein and good carbs from the oatmeal. Probably you shouldn’t eat three of them, but one is a perfect light-ish breakfast, especially when paired with a cup of coffee.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

I made these a few times and below is my favorite of those iterations. It can be baked into regular size or mini scones, depending on your preferences and whether you plan to serve them solo or as part of a fuller breakfast. They’re also easily portable and a great brunch option, although I think they’re best slightly warmed.

The banana and oatmeal combination is delicious by itself or topped with any number of toppings. Jam or butter and cinnamon sugar were my favorites, but mostly I ate them plain. I especially like the less sweet version if it’s going to be spread with a sweet topping anyway, but you can definitely increase the sugar here if you prefer.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Give these a try and let me know what you think, and if any of your friends could guess they were vegan.

PS – These can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free flour and uncontaminated oats, and they are vegan/dairy-free unless you use normal chocolate chips, although I’m sure there are vegan/dairy-free versions of those out there you could substitute with.

Banana Scones

Adapted from OmNomAlly
Makes 12-16 mini or 6-8 large scones

Ingredients

2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 – 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar1
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (use almond flour for gluten-free options)
1 1/2 cups oatmeal, finely ground2
1/2 cup oatmeal, whole
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs, optional3

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mash banana completely. Add coconut oil (microwave briefly if it’s not already mostly liquid), brown sugar, chia, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined, then let rest at least 3 minutes, or until chia seeds have softened.
  3. Add flour, both ground and whole oatmeal, baking powder, salt, and cacao nibs (or chocolate chips), and stir until completely combined. Mixture will be a little loose and quite sticky, but should be solid enough to hold its shape.
  4. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and shape into rounds about 1″ tall. Use two rounds for mini scones, or one for large scones. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut rounds into 6 or 8 wedges.
  5. Bake until golden on top and slightly browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to over bake; they are better slightly too moist than slightly too dry.
  6. Serve warm. Great plain, with butter and cinnamon sugar, or your favorite jam. Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter up to 3 days, but they are best on day one.

Notes

For sweeter scones, especially if you’re going to enjoy them plain, use the larger amount, or up to 1/2 cup. For less sweet scones, especially if you’re going to doctor them with jam, use the smaller amount. I personally like 1/4 cup best even plain, but the masses may prefer a sweeter option.

Use a blender to grind 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal into a powder. Leave 1/2 cup as normal for texture. =)

Cacao nibs are a great way to add a little chocolate flavor without the sugar and calories of chocolate chips. They are quite mild but delicious in baked goods. However for a more decadent treat, or if you don’t have cacao nibs on hand, you can substitute mini chocolate chips for delicious results, or leave them out entirely.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

With summer coming to a close tomorrow, perhaps your garden is overflowing with things to use or store. Although we only have a small garden, I did get an excitingly abundant harvest given its size. The raspberries were proliferous for several weeks (some are in the freezer to bake with this winter), green beans galore, a few delicious broccoli heads, a decent amount of potatoes, giant zucchini (hopefully still some more in the coming weeks), and for the first time ever, carrots!

This is the third year in a row I’ve tried growing fingerling carrots, and the first year they grew bigger than my baby thumbnails. Planting them on the very edge so they weren’t overgrown by the beans seemed to be the key, and I’m excited to eat them. I planted two rows so likely will chop some up for the freezer. Roasted vegetables are my favorite and I’m sure we’ll be eating many panfuls in the coming weeks.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

My zucchini plant was not as abundant as some, likely due to the lack of sunlight my garden gets, but it still produced quite a few and there should be some more to pick if the weather doesn’t turn super cold right away. If, like many people, you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, then this is definitely the recipe for you.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

I see recipes for zucchini bread, muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, etc, all over the place, but many of them are heavy on the sugar and chocolate. Although this is delicious, it somewhat ruins the health factor of the zucchini if you’re basically eating dessert bread.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

I recently came across this recipe on Pinterest (as usual) and loved that the chocolate was only in chip form, and the sugar content relatively low. I made some modifications like I always do, and it resulted in a very tasty but much less sweet variation.The zucchini flavor is mild but the bread is warm and inviting with cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. It’s sweetened with honey and a few chocolate chips, but maintains a much less decadent flavoring than your typical sugary quickbreads. You can obviously increase the chocolate chips if you want, but I felt this amount was plenty. Even with 30% less sugar than the original recipe, it still functions just as well as a dessert as it does for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Krista’s recipe called for walnuts, but I never put nuts in baked goods as I don’t care for the textural juxtaposition of soft bread and crunchy nuts if I’m not emotionally prepared for it. However, this time I chopped a few walnuts and sprinkled them on top, and it was a wonderful, crunchy addition to the bread. It’s a method I may use in the future for banana or pumpkin bread to give it a little something extra. If you don’t like walnuts, pecans or sliced almonds would work great too, or you can leave them off entirely, of course.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Adapted from Joyful Healthy Eats
Makes 1 loaf (12 slices)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/3 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cup grated zucchini
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp chocolate chips, divided

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease (butter, coconut oil, PAM, whatever) and flour a loaf pan, shaking out excess flour. Set aside.
  2. If you haven’t already, use a cloth or paper towels to squeeze as much excess water from your zucchini as possible. Get your upper body workout here, if your zucchini is drier your bread is less likely to have wet spots in the middle. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, combine honey and coconut oil. If they are not already liquid, heat 20-30 seconds and whisk until smooth. It’s okay if there are some small bits of coconut oil still solid.
  5. Add applesauce, egg, and vanilla, and whisk until completely combined.
  6. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring (I used a rubbed scraper) until completely combined.
  7. Fold in zucchini and 1/3 cup chocolate chips, then pour into prepared loaf pan.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
  9. Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool most of the way in baking pan, then run a knife along the edge and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, or slice and serve pronto because it smells way too delicious to wait.
  11. Store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container on the counter.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath

Hello and Happy Holidays friends! Hope you’re having an appropriately white or warm season depending on your location. I am visiting my family in Alaska for the holidays and it’s been pleasantly snowy here – quite the change from last year’s raining nonsense. Apologies for the late post, time at home always seems to go by much more quickly than real life.

In any case, this morning I have another easy pastry recipe to share. The overwhelming popularity of my Cream Cheese Danishes led me to try another style. A few months ago I saw a braided Nutella bread that looked beautiful. As you may now be aware, I am not a fan of Nutella but I really loved the idea of a twisted bread with a contrasting filling. Filing it away for future reference, several months passed before I took up the project.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath {{Baking Bytes}}

I love cinnamon rolls any time of year but for some reason I always crave them even more around Christmas. The homemade version is quite a bit of work which makes them extra special (and extra tasty) so we don’t make them very often, except sometimes for Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast. Pillsbury makes actual cinnamon rolls, of course, which are surprisingly good, but feel somewhat commonplace as far as excitement goes.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath {{Baking Bytes}}

The idea for twisted bread returned to me and twisted cinnamon rolls were born. Using an easy cinnamon sugar filling and the pre-made dough makes for a super quick breakfast or pretty dessert without the hassle and tediousness of dealing with yeast and rising times. Small enough for the family or simple enough to make several for the office, these are a pretty way to switch up the traditional and delicious flavors of a cinnamon roll.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath {{Baking Bytes}}

Sure to please both the kids and the coworkers, this is a great holiday option for all the busy people out there.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath

Makes 8 small servings

Ingredients

1 package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls1

2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. On an extra sheet of parchment paper, unroll the dough and pinch the seams together. Put face down on the prepared baking sheet and then gently peel off the parchment paper. Pinch the seams together from this side also.
  3. Spread 2 Tbsp butter over the dough.
  4. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon until well mixed, then sprinkle evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch clear on one long end.
  5. From the other long end, gently roll up the dough and then pinch closed.
  6. Carefully cut down longwise down the center of the rolled dough (a plastic pizza cutter works great, and won’t damage your silicon mats or your baking sheet). Gently turn the cut side facing up.
  7. Carefully lift one side and place it over the other dough strip, repeating on the same side to form a twist. Gently move into a circle and pinch the ends together.
  8. Bake for about 18 minutes. It should be browned on the top and not doughy in the middle.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: beat together cream cheese and 2 Tbsp butter until fluffy, then beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency – less milk for spreading, more milk for drizzling.
  10. Let the cinnamon roll cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to your serving plate and spread/drizzle with the frosting. (You will likely have frosting left over, so feel free to halve the recipe if you don’t like lots of it.)
  11. Serve immediately with coffee for a lovely snack, or eggs and fruit for a more well-rounded breakfast.

Notes

Any of the styles should work, although they may all bake up slightly differently, so watch carefully and adjust the baking time accordingly. For example, the “big and flaky” version would probably need a couple more minutes in the oven.

Choose Your Own Adventure Scones

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}Welcome to May, my lovely readers. Apologies for the April hiatus, I got busy and blah blah all the usual excuses. However, I’ve been working on some new recipes for the summer and I’m excited to share them with you over the coming months.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

In the meantime, I’ve been craving scones lately and wanted to get some berry action given the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here in Montana. I hopped over to Pastry Affair since I was pretty sure she’d have a great recipe, and boy was I right. Incredibly moist, bursting with berries, and boasting the added delight of white chocolate chips, these scones were exactly what I was looking for. Perfect for dessert, breakfast, or snack, they’re delicious at any time of day. Serve them solo with coffee as the main event, or in conjunction with eggs and sausage for a fuller breakfast.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

As fragile as raspberries are, even my frozen ones became somewhat muddled in the dough, but I think this only adds to the aesthetic as well as resulting in a perfect raspberry flavor in every bite. (The lovely pink color would make them extra adorable for Valentine’s Day, if you’re in to that sort of thing.) The dough was annoyingly sticky, I’ll admit, but an extra hand washing is well worth it in the end. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that the next day I made another batch with blackberries and dark chocolate chips. I think they’d be awesome with many combinations of berries and baking chips, so play around with the flavors and report back with your favorites.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Scones are something I never much enjoyed until I went to Scotland in 2009, and it was shortly after that when I found my go to recipe for cinnamon sugar scones. I love that recipe because it’s simple and super quick, but this one will definitely be added to the repertoire for a “berrylicious” alternative.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

As you are likely aware, Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday. As I eat these scones, and write this post, I think about my mom and how much she has molded me and helped me throughout my life. Even now, she graciously proofreads all my posts and offers her own opinions and tweaks when she tries the recipes. I am so grateful for her being such an amazing person in my life and I wish I could bring her some of these scones to start off a day of celebrating her. But since we’ll be about a thousand miles apart this weekend, I guess a phone call will have to do.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Thanks Mom. =)

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Choose Your Own Adventure Scones

Borrowed from Pastry Affair
Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp butter, softened

1 rounded cup frozen berries (do not thaw)1
1/2 cup baking chips (white chocolate, chocolate, etc)2

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

raw or granulated sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat and lightly dust with flour. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Use your fingers to mix in butter until well distributed and texture is like fluffy but damp sand.
  4. Gently stir in berries and chips. Set aside.
  5. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over dry mixture and gently mix until combined. You will likely need to use your hands and it will be very sticky – this is annoying, but normal and oh so worth it.
  6. On your lightly floured silicon mat, flatten dough into a circle about one inch thick. If you like, sprinkle on some raw sugar.
  7. Cut into eight wedges (I like to use a pizza cutter) and gently spread to at least one inch apart on the baking sheet using a spatula dipped in flour. Wipe up extraneous flour if there’s a lot of extra.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Scones should no longer look wet and the bottoms will be lightly browned. Cool at least a few minutes before serving; they are also delightful at room temperature.
  9. Store covered but unsealed at room temperature. (If you seal them they will get sticky. I promise they will stay moist overnight. If you have pets or bugs you can cover them with a cloth or lid – just not anything airtight.)

Notes

Raspberries and blackberries have both been awesome. I cut some of the larger blackberries in half but that’s not strictly necessary. Blueberries or cranberries would also be great.

The full half cup makes the scones quite sweet, so feel free to use a smaller amount (or leave them out entirely) if you don’t want quite as much sugar.