8.22.2017

MangiaMore: BANANA stuff

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The age-old question arose again: What to do with those brown bananas?
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This time, the struggle was real. TBH I did not really want to bake because it has been like a million degrees outside so it has been a million^nth inside, and turning the oven on in my no air conditioner apartment would only make things worse. But with several bags of frozen brown bananas in the freezer and three on our counter, something had to be done. It was definitely a sweaty adventure.
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I adapted and doubled this banana bread donuts with brown butter glaze recipe for my brown bananas. Don’t have a doughnut pan, so that was out. Also, the only muffin tin that I have is for six and that would have taken ages and, hot. So I made nine muffins and a short loaf. In an effort to get out of the kitchen and save a few calories, I didn’t make the glaze, as sexy as it sounds. Also switched out sour cream for Greek yogurt and used a tad less brown sugar (mostly cause I didn’t have it) than called for.

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Haven’t made too many muffins in my lifetime. Why? I know not, because muffins are perfectly portioned (yass, portion control) and they are like a cupcake’s more wholesome twin. These turned out lovely, not too sweet except for the chunks of overripe bananas (my b, should have smushed them a tiny more). They are moist and light, but a nice dollop of plain yogurt on top will make them an ideal breakfast treat. Yup, counting down until breakfast tomorrow...
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8.22.17
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8.18.2017

photo op: reliving baking memories

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There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong…

No, I know. I’m being dramatic. And a Les Miz fan. Nothing has gone wrong. But…
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 There was a time when I used to bake
And the kitchen smelled like cookies
And there was butter and sugar all over the place
There was a time
Then came adulting…
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A lot has happened over the last few months: Life has just intensified in the most amazing ways from my job, to a status change, to looking forward to and toward the future. There has been little time for baking, but still plenty of time for eating well (pics or it didn’t happen).
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The last time I baked, it was chocolates chip cookies and a foggy memory. Coconut, too. Something about a snow day— a rare occurrence when I was in school, the very same school where I am starting my third year as a teacher (!!).  When I was young, the school would stay open and the less-than-attractive floors would be slippery and squeak with the melted snow from boots and shoes. Classes would be diminished, but we would learn things that you can’t find in books. The snow would be like a silencer for the outside world, but inside school there would be palpable excitement and an ineffable feeling of security and comfort.
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Making those cookies back in March made me feel that sense of coziness, and thinking about the last time I truly baked, makes me feel the same on this humid August day. And maybe, I also feel a little inspired…..
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8.18.17
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2.28.2017

MangiaMore: ALMOND sheet cake with flour frosting

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This year, I didn’t make anything red for Valentine’s Day, even though I usually like to (linzer cookies, mini red velvet cheesecakes, red velvet brownies, and red velvet sandwich cookies). I didn’t even make my Valentine’s Day treat on Valentine’s Day proper. Instead, my sweet (for my sweet) was stark white and made the weekend following the holiday. But as I always say: Everyday is Valentine’s Day.

My Valentine’s Day landed on a Saturday, and my obsession and curiosity about sheet cakes (pumpkin cake and yellow cake) continued with a beaut that I found on Food52. After searching for an almond cake (first layered, then sheet), I landed on this Almond Sheet Cake. The photo alone was enough to make me crave this cake—those wisps of cloudlike white frosting looked killer. Plus, I’ve never made a flour frosting (or boiled buttercream or ermine frosting, whatever you want to call it). So I made it…
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I pulsed my slivered almonds in my food processor-slash-blender.
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I played around with sunlight and almonds on my kind of counter.
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I whisked my dry ingredients.
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I creamed my butter, added my eggs one at a time, and I incorporated my almond extract (probably more than called for).
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I alternated my milk and dry ingredients, but I did not keep track of how many additions or where I started.
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I stirred in my homemade almond “flour” and poured the pretty batter in my cake pan.
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I checked my cake one too few times, and maybe even let it cook a second too long.
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I simmered flour and milk and sugar on the front burner, afraid to burn what was becoming my sweetening agent for that pillowy-looking, cloudlike frosting.
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I beat my butter longer than I ever had with almond extract and Disaronno. I (with the aid of my sister) added heaping tablespoons of my cooled boiled base one at a time until my frosting was fluffy, white, and billowing.
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I plopped the frosting on top of my cooled cake. It looked like a mound of meringue and just as sweet.  I made swoops and swirls, layered it on thick, hoping my cake would be half as pretty as the cake in the picture.
My cake did not turn out like fudgy yellow cake that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth; mine was of a drier, more mature variety. It crumbled with toothy almond bite, contrasted with the light-as-air sweet semblance of whipped cream. Delicious and adult…
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Too bad I have indulged more than the receiver of this sweet Valentine’s Day sweet. jk.
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