Royal Banana Chocolate Bread

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The royal part of this quick bread is the fact that it is the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle’s, recipe.

The story goes that when she and her husband, Prince Harry, visited Australia in October of 2018, Her Royal Highness baked the now-famous banana bread in the kitchen of Admiralty House in Sydney. It was after a long day of engagements, well into her pregnancy.

To quote google, “As if juggling pregnancy, jetlag and 16 days of speeches, meetings and handshaking with Prince Harry wasn’t enough, the Duchess took it upon herself to make homemade banana bread for morning tea.”

Okay, well I think most of us who’ve been pregnant could have managed all of this and more, but whatever….

The bread isn’t just your ordinary loaf. It has crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, and, as the Duchess put it, “too many bananas.”

The recipe might not be the exact recipe of HRH, because I saw many versions online, some containing walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon, but the bread has indeed become famous.

This is the recipe that my sister has always used, and she highly recommends it. Me? I hadn’t even heard of HRH’s banana bread. But it is good!

Royal Banana Chocolate Bread

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated ginger*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan with butter; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth and evenly combined.

Add the grated ginger, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir just until combined with no dry spots. Stir in the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until bread has risen, is golden brown, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.


Remove the bread from the loaf pan and let cool completely at room temperature before slicing and serving.

* Instead of fresh ginger I opted for 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger. I was worried that I couldn’t smoosh and properly disperse the fresh ginger.

The banana bread is very good, and somewhat unique. I’m glad I used the ground ginger.

I had to try it warmed with butter, although the bread itself is moist.

It’s certainly pleasing enough to be not only a snack but a dessert.


HRH the Duchess obviously has a loving heart and great sense of community, because she helped compile a cookbook, entitled Together: Our Community Cookbook, published in September of 2018 and not yet available in the states. Proceeds benefit the Hubb Community Kitchen, located in London.

Quoting google, “The Hubb Community Kitchen is a group of women who have come together to prepare fresh food for their local community. After being displaced following the Grenfell tower fire, some of the local women needed a place to cook fresh food for their families.”

Quatre Quarts Gateau

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My mother, who just turned 91, has a scale that I used to love playing with as a child. I knew it wasn’t a toy, but I just liked weighing random items and gradually adding weights until both plates balanced perfectly. I was always nerdy.

Weighing ingredients makes so much more sense than measuring to me. I’d rather weight 4 ounces of chopped nuts, than use a measuring cup, especially with a critical ingredient.

In any case, the reason I mention this ancient scale (sorry Mom!) is because this cake recipe is based on one weight alone – the weight of eggs. There are four ingredients in this cake – eggs, butter, sugar, and flour, and the weight is the same for all four ingredients. The recipe is called Quatre Quarts, meaning four quarters.

These days, digital scales make weighing ingredients a breeze. So I’m making this cake using my small kitchen scale, just like in the “old” days! It brought back wonderful memories of my mother making the cake over the years.

Quatre Quarts Gateau

4 eggs
Unsalted Butter
Sugar
Flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 F.   Butter and flour a deep 8 inch loaf pan. 

Weigh the eggs in a small bowl after you’ve removed the weight of the bowl. My eggs weighed 192 grams, or about 6.7 ounces.


Then weigh out the 192 grams of butter, sugar and flour.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan or microwave (carefully).   When it begins to melt, remove it from the heat and let it cool. 

Using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes in a medium mixing bowl.

Add the flour and mix just until it’s incorporated. I also added some vanilla powder.

Then add the cooled butter. Using a rubber spatula, make sure the batter is smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F and the timer to 45 minutes.

Turn off the oven completely and set a timer for 10 minutes.

The cake should be cooked through the middle; I always use a cake tester to make sure. But if you see a puddle of soft cake in the middle, don’t even bother opening your oven to test the cake. It needs more time.

There should be some slight browning around the edges, but not much. Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Then remove the cake from the loaf pan and let it cool on a rack.

You can tell the cake texture is much like a pound cake. If you prefer a lighter texture, separate the eggs and after the egg yolks have been well blended with the sugar and butter and after the flour is combined, fold in beaten egg whites.

Note: There are other options for flavoring other than vanilla extract or powder or even scraped vanilla beans. You can use an extract like sweet orange oil or lemon zest. But I wouldn’t add a liqueur or anything volume of something liquid that will offset the ratio of the ingredients.

This cake is very delicate in flavor. I’ve never toasted it but I bet that would be good, with some added butter of course.

It’s perfect for an afternoon tea-time snack, a morning treat with coffee, or even an sweet evening nibble with a glass of sherry.

Mimi’s Christmas Biscotti

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I’m not the first person to come up with the festive combination of dried cranberries and pistachios. They’re red and green, which, of course, is all about Christmas and the holiday season.

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Biscotti are twice-baked cookies. They’re first baked in flat logs, then sliced and baked again to dry them out.

I’ve always loved making different variations of biscotti, because they lend themselves to limitless variations. Because of that, I wanted a cookie base I could depend on, and this is my recipe for that base.

To it you can add dried cranberries and pistachios, or any other fruit and nut combination.

I’m going to type up my recipe as it was published in a local cookbook called “Cooking by the Boot Straps” – A Taste of Oklahoma Heaven Cooked Up By The Junior Welfare League of Enid, Oklahoma. I was honored that they included a few of my recipes in their book, which was published in 2002.

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So here’s the recipe:
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Mimi’s Biscotti

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour

Fruit and Nut Additions:
1 cup chopped dried fruit
3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Beat the butter in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat just until combined.

Fold in the dried fruit and nuts with a wooden spoon. Chill, covered, 4 hours or overnight.

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Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place 1 portion of the dough on a hard work surface. Use a small amount of the remaining scant 1/4 cup of flour to shape 1 portion of the dough into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter.

Arrange the log along the long side of a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat the process with the remaining portion of the dough.

Pat each log into a rectangle about 1/2 inch in height.

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Place the logs in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. Do not over brown. Remove from oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and let the cookie logs cool for about 10 minutes.

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Slide the logs on to a cutting board using a metal spatula. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. My kids always begged for the “rejects,” which are the ends and any broken biscotti!

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Arrange the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

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Dry in the oven for 30 minutes; turn. Dry for 30 minutes longer. Both sides should be hard and dry.

If necessary reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and dry for 1 hour longer. Remembering that you are drying the cookies, not toasting them.

Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in re-sealable plastic bags. May freeze for up to 1 month.

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You may use dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, dried blueberries, dark or golden raisins as well as coconut and crystallized ginger for the chopped dried fruit.

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For the nuts, they all work – almonds, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and hazelnuts.

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Be creative. Try cherry almond, cranberry pistachio, golden raisin pecan, hazelnut apricot or your favorite combinations. You may also add cinnamon, poppy seeds, sweet citrus oil, citrus zest and any extracts.

Makes 5 dozen biscotti.

Holiday Toddy

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I really wanted to call this toddy a Christmas toddy, but I’m realizing that I’m calling everything “Christmas” these days. I happen to be in love with Christmas, for so many different reasons. I love the smells, sounds, the food of Christmas… The White Christmas movie. I just love it all.

I’m actually listening to Christmas carols as I type this post, and I was listening to Christmas carols when I whipped up this toddy. I start listening to Christmas music the first cold day, or, the first of November, whichever occurs first.

About this time of year I also have a pretty well-stocked liquor cabinet, so I can create a holiday-inspired cocktail or toddy with a pomegranate vodka, an eggnog liqueur, a peppermint schnapps – whatever I fancy. I am very lucky this way.

Today it’s chilly, and I was in the mood for a toddy, which, in my book, implies a hot drink. Like a hot buttered rum would be a hot toddy to me. Which I almost made… But then I had this idea inspired by a recipe I once saw, using tea as the base. And, I happened to have chai tea bags, so that’s what I did. Please enjoy this hot toddy:

Holiday Toddy:

8 Chai tea bags*
1 teaspoon crushed cardamom
1 cup sweetened evaporated milk
1 cup spiced rum
Cinnamon sticks

Place the tea bags and the cardamom in a heat-proof container, preferably large enough to hold a quart and a half of liquid. Add boiling hot water and let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Add more hot water until it measures exactly 3 cups. Alternatively, the toddy can be made in a pot on the stove.

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Add the sweetened evaporated milk and whisk until it’s completely combined. Add the rum. If you’re serving right away, heat the toddy up first till it’s steaming, then serve the it with a cinnamon stick. It can also be served from the pot on the stove, if you prefer. If it’s going to stay on the stove for a while before serving, I’d add some cinnamon sticks to it to get even more cinnamon-y!

*I think any Christmas-type tea will work, even an orange tea would work. And, you could always serve the toddy with a little orange peel twirl.

note: This recipe makes about 6 good-sized cups. It can easily be doubled, or tripled…..

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