Monday, February 27, 2012

February Daring Bakers' Challenge - Quick Breads

No snappy introduction today - I am so excited to share this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge! So without further ado...

The Daring Bakers' February 2012 host was - Lis! Lisa 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.

I am not sure if you have noticed, but we love quick breads around here. In case you didn't know, muffins count and quick breads. If you take a quick perusal through my posts, you'll probably notice quite a few muffin varieties. Little miss wants to make muffins darn near every day. So this challenge was so completely up our alley, we got started right away.

And, to be a bit extra daring, I let little miss take charge.

We chose to make muffins out of the fresh fruit that we had on hand at the time. So, while she started taking the ingredients out of the pantry, I did the mommy-tasks. Preheating the oven and cutting the fruit.

Strawberries and mangoes. Yum.

Then little miss got down to the nitty gritty.

She measured and whisked dry ingredients.

She measured and mixed wet ingredients.

She even cracked the eggs.

She mixed. She poured. She portioned the batter into the muffin tins.

She even sprinkled on the streussel topping.

Basically, she got them completely ready to go into the oven. And I think she did a really good job, if I do say so myself...

Then I did the oven part. And I did the dishes while they baked, but she actually would have done that too, if I'd let her.

Once they were done, we got a good look at little miss's handy work.

Umm... yeah. Pretty tasty looking.

As soon as they were cool enough, we tasted.

Oh yes. She is hired.

But I was not done. You see, there are are so many quick breads out there, I couldn't stop at just one. I decided to take the opportunity to make another kind of quick bread I have had my eye on for quite some time - beer bread. I have only made it once, and it was from a mix. So I decided to make one myself, no mix in sight.

Most of the recipes that I found (and all of the ones with the most tantalizing photos associated with them...) called for self rising flour. I have a ton of flours in the house, from whole wheat to high gluten, and several varieties in between. I do not, however, have self rising flour. Because, to be honest, you don't need it. Self rising flour is "regular" (all purpose, basically) flour with salt and a leavening agent already mixed in. So rather than storing another bag of flour in the pantry, I merely use this handy substitution whenever a recipe calls for self rising flour:

1 cup self rising flour = 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder + 1/8 teaspoon salt

Easy enough to accomplish.

See? No problem. So I didn't worry about it, and picked out a basic but totally yummy looking recipe.

Next I just had to add a little sugar, whisk everything together, then add the magic ingredient.

I used a light lager, Yuengling light to be exact. We actually aren't really beer drinkers, so I had to check quickly before starting this to make sure I even had any... this was our only can... good thing it was the kind I was hoping we'd have...

The batter is then mixed together and spread into a loaf pan.

This batter is pretty dense, so the bread bakes for a long time - almost an hour.

A few minutes before the bread is fully cooked, it is pulled from the oven, brushed with melted butter, then returned to the oven for a few final minutes.

And then it cools, smelling delicious and begging us to cut into it.

Which we finally did at dinner time.

Yum. I actually prefer my beer this way - I like the way it tastes as bread better than as a beverage. Is that weird? Possibly. But I'm okay with that.

Were we done?

Not quite.

While other Daring Bakers began sharing their delicious and tempting flavor combinations and creations on the online forum, one Baker posted something that required my immediate attention. Heather from Apron Addict shared with us a family recipe for something called "pikelets." She referred to them as "quick bread crumpets." A quick glance at the recipe and I had to try them. A quick look at the pictures and I had two helpers ready to lend some little hands...

Little man still has a few more inches (and a whole lot of find motor skill development...) to go before he can actually help, but little miss was happy to show him the ropes.

Our first batch came out okay. I made the batter a little too thin, and I didn't have a good handle on the right temperature for the pan, but none of us complained.

And then we tried them again the following week.

And then again a week later, this time with homemade strawberry syrup.

Aaaannnd.... yeah, we actually had them another time or two, as well, but you probably don't need to see pictures of every single batch we made. Suffice it to say that little miss alternates, now, between asking for muffins and pikelets every morning for breakfast.

In addition to what you see here, I did also make a loaf of my favorite banana bread this month. Which, come to think of it, means it was a rather slow quick bread month here for us... I am thinking we may just have to make more muffins for breakfast in the next day or so to help make up for that!

Lis, thank you so much for being such an awesome, enthusiastic and creative host this month!! This challenge was super fun and amazingly inspiring!!

I highly recommend checking out some of the amazing quick breads baked up in the kitchen this month. I already have my eye on several of them to try myself.

Little Miss's Strawberry-Mango Muffins
(our own adaptation of our own recipe)

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 mango, diced
1 cup strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the wells of a 12-well muffin tin.
Sift (whisk) together flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg, vanilla and butter.
Stir the wet ingredients carefully into the dry ingredients, stirring only until just combined. Fold in the diced fruit.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. We usually wind up with a bit of extra batter, so we use a small loaf pan or small cake pan to bake the extra.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the muffins test done.

(We added a simple crumb topping to our muffins - the crumb topping was made by combining 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, then pinching in 2-3 tablespoons of slightly softened butter until the mixture resembled coarse crumbs. We sprinkled the crumb topping liberally onto the top of each muffin before baking. It's not necessary, but it is really delicious!!)

Beer Bread

3 cups self rising flour (or 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/8 teaspoon salt)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces beer (your choice)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a loaf pan (I used non-stick cooking spray, you could use butter if you prefer).
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
Pour in beer and mix well. The mixture will be thick and sticky.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake 55 minutes.
About three minutes before it is done, remove the bread from the oven, brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter, then return it to the oven for the final three minutes.

(from Apron Addict - thank you so much for letting me share this!)

5 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (approximately... more or less to get the right consistency)

Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and crack the egg into the well. Whisk the egg into the flour mixture while pouring the milk into the bowl. Whisk until the batter is smooth - it will still be a bit thick. Once the mixture is smooth, though, stop whisking! Let the mixture sit while you preheat your pan. Heat a griddle/pan over medium/medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, wipe the pan with butter. Pour batter onto griddle as with pancakes. Cook until golden on each side, flipping just once.


  1. Wow loving the variety! Especially intrigued by the mango strawberry muffins! Lovely job :)

  2. I love mango and strawberries so I think this is going into my to do list!!! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Hi Shelly, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see your little girl making my mum's pikelets - Mum would be over the moon were she here to see it too.Certainly you may share the recipe - I'm all about sharing recipes and kids learning to cook. In New Zealand pikelets used to be one of the first things kids learned to cook in school cooking lessons.Your other baking this month is wonderful too - Best Wishes from New Zealand :)

  4. Oh Shelley, I always look forward to reading your post, specially when little miss is in charge. She is such a talented baker! I can hardly believe she did it all by herself, she is 5? I have a granddaughter who is 5 and she really enjoys cooking toys, and I would love to be near to teach her some real baking, hopefully next year, because my husband was lucky enough to be transferred to the same city where my daughter lives. Can't wait!
    I can see your kitchen (and I think everybody else's at DK) was very busy this month! Your creations were absolutely amazing!
    Your post put a wider smile on my face!

  5. What a charming posting I adore baking with children the whole process is so enjoyable. Yes I agree with you pikelets are so much fun (they are an Australian childhood favourite). I like how you can see how the pikelets get better and better each batch. The beer bread sounds delicious. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  6. love love love the crumbly topping on the muffins!! :-)

  7. I love hearing about your little miss baking with you - and I'm so impressed with her muffins! Fun post to read, and your quick breads all look great :) Cheers!

  8. Wow you did fantastic, I love fresh fruit in muffins.

  9. Hello Shelly..
    I loved reading your post as always but the part that really made me laugh is little man needing a few inches and a lot of fine motor skills. My kids helped with this challenge too and we had loads of fun. My eldest got to crack eggs for the first time and she made fun of me because I had told her that the first time I cracked an egg I smashed it instead while she did a brilliant job

  10. I made cider bread! Great minds clearly think alike... they all look yummy and I'm so impressed with your daughter's baking. Mine's only 19 months old, and is very enthusiastic, so I'm happy to let her "help" but my goodness, it doesn't half increase the clearing up!

  11. Everything looks good - especially the muffins with all that fruit inside. Having extra "help" adds a level of daring to this months challenge, but it looks like it paid off :-)

  12. Love the mango and strawberry muffins! She did such a great job! My little guy is a bit behind her for age but there is no way he is ready to be that independent in the kitchen. Nice job on the challenge!

  13. How fun that the pikelets were such a rousing success! I love when a new recipe takes hold in my kitchen like that. All your breads look delicious.

  14. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your strawberry mango muffins look FANTASTIC! I'll be giving your recipe a try when strawberries come into season here.

  15. Strawberry and mango muffin sounds and looks delicious. I was planning to make the pikelets but sadly wasn't able to, looking at your pikelets makes me wish I should have done it!

  16. Little Miss is going to be quite the cook and baker one day thanks to her uber talented Mama. So fun reading about her helping you and the strawberry mango choice is exquisite for those muffins! The beer bread looks awesome too, and I love that you tried the pikelets. I was so tempted to try them myself, but ran out of time due to my mad scientist experimentations lol

  17. The pikelets look so delicious. I'm not surprised you went back to the recipe again and again. I love those beautiful muffins Little Miss baked! She's so clever. :)

  18. Little Miss is certainly becoming quite the baker! Great job on her muffins!

  19. Strawberry mango muffins!! You didn't tell me you made these! :) We almost made the same thing! I still need to make the pancake things, they look delicious!

  20. Wow, you made so many different kinds of quick breads! I especially love the muffins with the strawberries and managos.

  21. All of these look great! The crust and crumb on that beer bread looks lovely and just demands to be eating with a nice pat of butter.

    And I love that you have a household of little daring bakers to help out.

  22. love quickbreads, especially when kids are involved! so easy! yours look great!


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