TWD: Fresh Mango Bread

I baked this two weeks early and STILL didn’t get it posted on time…AARGH!!

Regardless, I really enjoyed this selection by Kelly, of Baking with the Boys. Thanks for picking the recipe and posting it on your blog.  I don’t think I would have tried this on my own, but I’m glad we all did it together!

Mango Bread

I trusted the title of this recipe and served this “bread” alongside a Caribbean chicken (cooked in orange and lime juices in the crock pot for several hours) and some carrot pudding.  HA!  While we all certainly enjoyed the sweet bread at the main meal, it was far more breakfast cake then bread.  I’ve been eating it every time I walk through the kitchen (before work in the morning, after I get in from the train in the evening, on my way to bed….).

I should have known when I pulled the ingredients for this cake that I was too sweet for a main course Sunday Supper, but by then I was too close to dinner time to scrap it and shop for some other starch – and I made so many substitutions I thought maybe it would be more savory that Dorie had intended. So I continued on: white sugar, brown sugar, golden raisins, frozen mangos, lime zest, ginger and cinnamon.  YUM to all of it, and especially when it’s baked with oil and butter.

Keep in mind, though, that I was short on vegetable oil so I used some olive oil.  I diluted the white flour with whole wheat flour. I used frozen fruit rather than fresh.  AND, mangoes are a good source on antioxidants A, C and E, and potassium – so there are health benefits to this sweet treat.

The bread browned quickly on top, so I wrestled with the aluminum foil as I tried to tent it while wearing oven mitts. It stayed in the oven longer than the  90 minutes the book recommended, too, and each time I took it out of the oven to test it with a knife I had to readjust with the foil tent WITH THE OVEN MITTS.  I must have been quite the sight, but I soldiered on and it was worth it.

The browned crusty top was wonderfully crunchy in contrast to the moist cake and sweet fruit. The Other Eater and I gobbled it donw for breakfast every day that week.

Next week: chipster-topped brownies.  I am SOOO looking forward to these!

TWD: Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

The weather here has been hit and miss lately: we’ll have one beautiful day of strong, warm sunshine and then five days of persistent light rain and general dumpiness.  “Good days for chicken Parm(esan)” one friend remarked the other day, and it seemed to sum it up just perfectly.

But Lauren of the Upper East Side Chronicle left me with chocolate bread pudding instead of chicken parm, and as long as I remember to microwave the dessert before applying whipped cream, I’m quite happy with her decision.  She’s posted the recipe for you, too, here.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

I love bread pudding, but it’s usually filled with vanilla and maybe bourbon or bourbon cream, so I was a little freaked out by the idea of bittersweet chocolate.  I decided I’d think about that at the grocery store – one of many things to think about, it turned out.

Sadly, the dairy producers do not consult with cookbook writers when they size their products (sort of like Steve Martin’s Father of the Bride rant about hot dogs vs. hot dog buns), so I did some creative recipe re-jiggering to make it all work without a plethora of dairy products in my refrigerator.

*three cups of whole milk and one cup of cream became two cups of each

*three eggs became the rest of the egg beaters I had leftover from something else

*6 oz. bittersweet chocolate became lots of bittersweet chocolate with a handfull of leftover milk chocolate and a few peanut butter chips sprinkled on top.

The end result was a delight! Dense, not too chocolate-y or overly sweet, and even kinda pretty to look at with those browned peanut butter chips on top. Whipped cream – even the fake kind from the can – makes everything better.  I’m a fan and I’ll be making it again next winter, I’m sure.  I just don’t see it as part of this weekend’s BBQ.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding

Of all the Italian treats and traditions I remember from my childhood, panettone is not one of them. It is, however, one of the easiest (and most inexpensive) to find in the stores at Christmastime, and so it is one I have quickly adopted.

Panettone is a dense, sweet, tall cake-like-bread-hybrid that is filled with fruit. It seems fairly difficult to make,which is fine because the one I buy at Trader Joe’s is so good, and filled with cranberries in place of the usual fruit.

Panettone Bread Pudding

What makes it especially good is the eggs and cream I soak it in to make bread pudding each year, which can then be reheated in the microwave and enjoyed with a spritz of whip cream on cold nights after crappy days at work.  I use this recipe from Rachel Ray, which I find quite nice: sweet and dense, creamy when reheated, and it keeps well for a REALLY long time in the refrigerator.

Rachel makes hers in a muffin tray, which works ok, I guess. This year I used some foil cups I had leftover from the pumpkin flan I made for Thanksgiving, and it worked out MUCH better.  I ordered the foil cups from here, and they were worth every penny! (Sorry Prudence Pennywise.)

Guiltless Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding is one of those things I occasionally crave – usually on cold, damp night, but especially during the winter holidays, which I have begun to associate with an eggnog panettone bread pudding recipe that I just love! The combination of the cranberries in the Panettone with the sweet bread and the egg-y cream is just heaven.

But in October, when Panettone is harder to find, Hungry Girl’s peanut butter chocolate bread pudding seemed like a viable alternative.  Also, since it was more healthful that my holiday favorite, it seemed like a good non-holiday season choice.

good for now

I’ve gotta say, it was just ok.  I think a big part of my problem was that I used the bread I always have in the house: whole wheat.  It’s a smooth wheat, sure, but it’s still not white bread. And since the recipe calls for only three slices of bread, I couldn’t justify buying a whole loaf of bread that I don’t otherwise like for toast or sandwiches.

So, I went with the wheat-bread-soy-milk-reduced-fat-peanut-butter (which I love, even in it’s purest form: on apple slices)-brown-sugar mix. I put it in ramekins to make portion control easier, anticipating greatness. I sprinkled chocolate chips on top. I baked. I tasted.  It was fine. I added Cool Whip, and it was finer – bread pudding is a good vehicle for the chemically-derived whipped topping. I would probably swap out the chocolate chips for chocolate syrup, and add peanut butter chips to up the ante just a bit.

Would I make it again? With certain conditions: If I were really craving peanut butter AND had Cool Whip on hand and  REALLY needed a comfort food to eat in my pajamas in front of the TV on a cold night.

My TWD audition piece

I’m not sure of how I found that Web site, but I kind of fell in love with the idea of Tuesdays with Dorie: amateur cooks from far and wide all struggling with a common recipe at the same time, and then sharing their experiences at the same time, a Tuesday – the day of the week when there is little else to be excited about. (Monday has a feeling of dread, Wednesday is hump day, Thursday is almost the weekend, Friday starts the weekend… get the idea.)

My concern was that I would be able to hang with the other bakers – that my brand of baking was too simple or sub-par and in some way not good enough to keep up with these experienced writers and bakers who have long traveled from their kitchens to the computers with style and grace. So before I signed up for the program, I decided a dry run was in order: I would do one recipe from the book of my own choosing on my own day and see if I could hack it.

I bought Dorie’s book used online and found a recipe that appealed to me. The cornmeal and fruit loaf (I swear that what’s it’s called) contained ingredients that I already had in the house, two ingredients that I love (apples and cornmeal), AND it made use of the leftover buttermilk I had in the refrigerator from a previous experiment with a recipe for cherry cakes I found in the Weight Watchers magazine.

Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf: the ingredients

The loaf is dense and buttery, which I love. The cornmeal gives it a bit of a gritty texture and makes it ripe for toasting. Not everyone likes that, but I could eat the whole thing in one sitting. But the cornmeal also makes the bread more satisfying, so I actually had a piece on my way out the door one weekend morning and was pretty satisfied until lunchtime, which is not normal for me (I usually need a snack around 10:30 a.m.).

The recipe called for one apple or pear, peeled and diced, and 1/2 c. of dried apples or pears. I used awhole apple I picked up at a Michigan farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago, and also a couple handfuls of Craisins that I had in the house. I’d use far more fruit the next time around because the bread just looked bland – lifeless and lacking color, and not something that I would pick up from a buffet table. A bit of apple butter helped that out after toasting, but still.

Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf: the Loaf

As for Tuesdays with Dorie, I think I’m in. I’m gonna try the September recipes to be sure, but I think I’m up for the challenge. I’ll bet my photography skills will improve, too. The other eater in my household is certainly up for the taste-testing. We’ll see how it works out for both of us.