The Sesame Banana Bread

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Did you know that February 23rd is regarded as a National Banana Bread Day? I can’t believe I missed it! But, in honour of the national day, today’s baking is dedicated to the banana bread.

Banana’s are actually quite popular than what we could imagine! They’ve beaten apples and oranges to claim the title as world’s number one fruit, and also are the world’s fourth biggest food staple, after rice, wheat, and corn (The Telegraph). 

Besides the obvious delicious taste of banana bread, it is also very beneficial to our health. Banana’s are an excellent source of vitamins such as vitamin B6, and vitamin C, which helps us in treatment of neuritis, anemia, and also helps us develop resistance to pathogens respectively (Nutrition and You). They are also an excellent source for instant energy, as they contain a lot of carbohydrates within them (Livestrong). Additionally, the incorporation of nuts and olive into the bread, helps provide our bodies with healthy monounsaturated fats that aid in lowering cholesterol levels, and stable blood sugar levels (Livestrong).

If you want additional healthy recipes of banana bread, to pleasure just not your taste buds, but your health as well, then click here!

There are certainly different recipes to bake your own banana bread, and trust me when I say this…all of them are great! Some recipes incorporate oil to add in the lighter texture, where as others use melted butter to bring out that extra richness within the bread itself (The Telegraph). 

The recipe that I’m going to share with you on here, incorporates sesame seeds, which add a tinge of savouriness along with extra crunch to the already sweetened banana bread.

 

To start off this recipe, you would need:

  • ⅓ cup raw white sesame seeds, divided
  • ¼ cup raw black sesame seeds, divided
  • ½ cup roasted white sesame seeds
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1¾ cups cake flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (lightly packed) dark brown sugar

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Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, blend the bananas in a food processor, to obtain a smooth purée. Swift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk eggs, oil, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Add in brown sugar and banana purée to the large bowl until well blended, and then whisk in your dry ingredients to combine the mixture. Fold in the toasted sesame seeds, and half cup of black sesame seeds into the batter.

 

Pour in the batter into a loaf pan, and sprinkle with remaining white and remaining black sesame seeds.

 

Bake the bread for approximately 60-70 minutes, until the tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the bread. Let the bread cool in pan, slice it, and serve!

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Nothing better than a blue sky with fluffy clouds…a cup of hot coffee…and a slice or two of sesame banana bread, that makes a perfect evening!

Thank you for reading the blog!

Hope you all have a delicious experience!

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The Importance of Egg Yolks in Baking

What do the formulas of most cake batters, mayonnaise, French buttercream, and ice cream have in common? They all use eggs, specifically egg yolks. You may ask yourself why a simple ingredient like eggs are used in such a wide variety of foodstuffs, and the answer would be because of a category of chemicals in the yolk, named lecithin.

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Figure 1. Labelled diagram of a chicken egg.

Source: https://www.fix.com/blog/egg-health-production-and-labeling/

Lecithins are compounds found in the egg yolk. They are amphipathic, which means they have both hydrophilic (water loving) and lipophilic (fat loving) functional groups. Compounds that express this behaviour can be used as emulsifiers, or surfactants. Emulsions are mixtures of two or more immiscible fluids: fluids which do not form a stable mixture (eg. water and oil). Emulsifiers help stabilize these mixtures by lowering the surface tension between the interfaces.

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Figure 2: Labelled projection of lecithin.

Source:  http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/sigma/61755?lang=en&region=CA

In a mixture of just oil and water, the two fluids will separate, eventually forming two distinct layers if left undisturbed. This is because the oil molecules will bind to each other. The water molecules also tend to bind to other water molecules. As we can see from this Fig 2, lecithin molecules contain a phosphate group, the hydrophilic site that binds to the water phase in an emulsion. The two lipophilic fatty acids chains bind to the fats or oils in a mixture. Lecithin binding to both oil and water stabilizes the emulsion and slows the separation of the two phases. Lecithin has a high emulsifying power; the typical dosage level required ranges from 1-10% of the fat, depending on the type of emulsion desired. Water in oil emulsions typically requires less lecithin, while oil in water emulsions typically requires more.

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Figure 3.1 (Left): Oil and water combined, with two distinct layers formed.

Figure 3.2 (Right): The mixture immediately after agitation. A cloudy mixture can be seen.

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Figure 4.1. (Left) The mixture from Fig 3, allowed to sit, undisturbed for five minutes, the layers can be seen forming.

Figure 4.2.(Right) The addition of a drop of egg yolk to the mixture from Fig 3. This mixture was allowed for sit for five minutes. The mixture still remained cloudy, and has not started to separate compared to Fig 4.1.

The food products named earlier involve the mixing of an oil based ingredient and a water based ingredient, which are immiscible. The thorough mixing of egg yolks will help to stabilize and emulsify these mixtures.

Let us look at the procedure of a sugar batter cake for example. Initially, fat and sugar are creamed together, incorporating air cells. Eggs are then added in additions, scraping the bowl between additions. As the eggs are blended in, the hydrophobic site on the lecithin molecules in the yolk are starting to bond to the fat in the bowl. After this step, flour and the remaining liquid (water or milk), is incorporated into the batter. After the liquid is added, sufficient mixing with the lecithin will promote even fat distribution in the batter. The hydrophilic phosphate group  from the lecithin molecules will start to bond to the liquid, adding stability to the batter. This will allow the batter to not split, and will also help the batter hold the air cells from the initial creaming process.

Knowing a reason why we use eggs in baking is important. It allows us, as bakers to gain an appreciation of the discovery of these functions, and gives us the information to potentially further optimize formulas.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have gained an appreciation for the simple, and delicious egg.

Sources:

http://www.adm.com/en-US/products/food/lecithin/Documents/Lecithin%20as%20an%20Emulsifier.pdf

http://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/suspensions_colloids.htm

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/eggs/eggscience.html

Dutch Oven Bread

Steam is a crucial component to bread making. In crusty breads, it allows the loaf to expand while also producing a crispy crust. This process is simple to accomplish in a commercial bakery because they have deck ovens that can steam breads once they are loaded. This is a difficult process to achieve at home; however, because normal ovens can’t steam products.

A newer trend in at-home bread baking is using a Dutch oven to bake bread. When the lid is closed, it traps the steam inside which helps achieve similar effects to a commercial baked bread. I will be exploring this concept as I follow Joanna Cismaru’s recipe to make her No Knead Dutch Oven Crusty Bread.

Ingredient List:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups room temperature water

Steps

  1. I chose to combine all the ingredients in my Kitchen Aid mixer. I added the water first and then added the rest of the ingredients. Mixing on 1st speed until the dough came together and stopped sticking to the sides of the bowl.

16935446_10211165343636787_266623652_o.jpg2. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours. I left mine for 14 hours and it had doubled in size by that point.16930718_10211165346156850_1808462107_o3. Preheat oven to 450 F and place your Dutch oven (I used a 3.5 QT) and its’ lid inside as it preheats. Once preheated, sprinkle a bit of flour into bottom of pot.

4. With floured hands, degas and shape dough into a ball. Put into bottom of Dutch oven. Cover with lid and bake for 30 mins.

5. Remove lid and bake another 15-20 mins until golden brown. Mine baked for 17 mins.

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6. Immediately remove from pot and let cool completely before slicing.

Results:

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I really enjoyed this bread. It had a nice crispy crust and a soft inside. While it isn’t quite the same flavour as bread made in a commercial bakery, it is still very good. Overall, I would make this bread again. Next time, I’ll let it proof for longer to develop the flavour further. As well, I would add some herbs or cheese.

Baking Vegan

Lactose intolerant? Allergic to eggs? Looking at going vegan? This post is for you.

Vegan baking is baking without the use of any animal products or byproducts. When you think of baked goods some of the very first ingredients that pop into your mind are most likely animal based…Eggs, milk, butter. But today I will tell you some other options to help with your preferences or allergies.

img_7225Because of the growing trend in veganism and the growing awareness of allergies more and more options have been popping up in local grocery stores. Some options being the vegan Becel butter substitute, Veggemo milk which is a vegetable based milk substitute, So Nice soy beverage, and Earth Balance soy free butter substitute. All of these options found at a Save On grocery store here in Edmonton. As for egg substitutes you can use what you most likely already have in your house, baking soda and vinegar. Use 1tsp baking soda to 1 tbsp vinegar per egg. There are also many egg replacers which can often be found in the baking section of local grocery stores or organic shops.

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Lets bake a vegan red velvet cake! What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cup soy milk (can also use other milk substitute or even water)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • red dye (until desired colour)

Sift all dry ingredients together and put into mixing bowl, add wet ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is incorporated. Bake at 350F for about 45-60 minutes. (Depending on size of cake).

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Vegan ‘butter’cream!:

  • 2 cups vegan Becel butter
  • 8 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy milk or other milk substitute
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt

Mix together until fluffy consistency. Now decorate however you please!

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Nut Free Baking – The “Wow” in WOWBUTTER

I’m sure you’ve seen it in stores, right beside the nut butters on the shelf. They claim it tastes just like peanut butter, but does it really? Well, to someone who’s never had it, it does. Even to the untrained palette it does, to an extent. But true PB fanatics can tell the difference.

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(Image source: http://smartcanucks.ca/canadian-freebies-free-wowbutter-samples/)

Taste aside, WOWBUTTER is an amazing product. It’s safe for those who are allergic to peanuts to eat, which makes it a great spread to use on sandwiches when sending your kids to school; most schools being peanut free stops kids from being able to enjoy some of their snacks. However, sandwiches aren’t all WOWBUTTER is good for. Anyone can easily replace peanut butter with WOWBUTTER in baking or savory cooking. But curious minds beg the question, why is WOWBUTTER a good product for people with allergies? Why aren’t individuals who can’t eat peanuts and tree nuts able to eat WOWBUTTER?

Allergies occur when the white blood cells produced in bone marrow recognize a foreign body, whether it anything from food to metal, as pathogens, like bacteria or viruses. It attacks the foreign bodies in the blood, and that’s what causes an allergic reaction.

Peanuts and soy beans are both legumes, so naturally you would assume that soy would cause more of a reaction in allergic individuals than a tree nut, which isn’t related to peanuts at all. Surprise! The proteins in peanuts more closely align with those of tree nuts like cashews and pistachios than they do with their fellow legume. Only about 10% of people allergic to peanuts are allergic to other legumes like soy as well. Soy, being what WOWBUTTER is made of. Some scientists suggest that late exposure to peanut butter is what increases the risk of developing an allergy to it.

Thankfully, soy is so versatile that it can make a delicious peanut butter substitute. It’s easy to use WOWBUTTER instead of  peanut butter. All you have to do is use it instead. No doing special calculations to figure out the conversion rates, just use a cup of WOWBUTTER instead of peanut butter in your good old PB&J.

http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/nut-allergy.html
https://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/peanut-allergy
http://www.dallasallergy.net/peanuts-bad-boy-legume/