Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers February Challenge

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was to make quick bread. This was a perfect challenge, considering we were still eyeball deep in our kitchen remodel. This was a challenge that was not only quick to complete (I think I finished it on Feb. 2nd or 3rd!), but it also let me do a little creative baking. I really enjoyed being able to experiment with flavor combinations.

We were given the option to bake muffins or bread, so I decided to make muffins simply so Eric and I could take the extras to work and not feel obliged to eat more carbs than any living being should ingest at any given time.

The first quick bread I made was lemon poppy seed muffins with an orange glaze. I used the basic quick bread recipe we were given by the challenge's host (see below), but then decided to build upon that foundation. The muffins turned out really nicely, but I do wish I'd used lemon essential oil instead of lemon extract - there was a little bit of a cloying after taste of the extract that I didn't love. (That's when I added the glaze ... it helped ease the extract's flavor a bit.)

Lemon poppy seed muffins

 After finishing the lemon poppy seed muffins, I was itching to experiment some more, so I (once again) used the basic quick bread recipe (again, see below) and build upon it. This time, I used Cointreau (orange liqueur), fresh orange juice, and chocolate chips. Really ... what pairs better with chocolate than orange?? This muffin was really yummy, but left me feeling that it was more of a cupcake than a muffin (probably because of the chocolate chips), so I decided to frost them with a little chocolate buttercream frosting. That left me wondering what, exactly, is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? According to the vast knowledge on the Internet, not a whole lot. So, I decided to call these little goodies "Cupffins" and call it good at that... and boy, were they good! YUM!

Orange chocolate chip "cupffins"

Basic Quick Bread

Makes one 9” x 5” (23×13 cm) loaf
Recipe from Sara Schewe

2 cups (480 ml) (250 gm/9 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or soured milk*
1 large egg
1/4 cup (60 ml) mild- or non-flavored oil, like canola
1 teaspoon (5 ml) flavored extract, such as vanilla or almond
for the glaze
1/3 cup (80 ml) (35 gm/1-1/3 oz) confectioners’ (icing) sugar
1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) milk
  1. Preheat oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease a 9×5 inch (23×13 centimeter) loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper cut to fit the length and width of the pan, with enough overhang to allow easy removal after baking. Grease the top sheet of parchment.
  2. In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to combine. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk (butter)milk, egg, oil, and extract to combine. Pour into well and stir until just mixed into a batter. The batter will be lumpy and may still show a few streaks of flour.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. Drizzle with glaze, if desired.
  5. For the glaze: Slowly whisk confectioners’ (icing) sugar and half of the milk, adding more milk as needed to thin the glaze to the desired consistency.
The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

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