Favorite Banana Bread

Banana bread is generally a good idea; it’s easy to make, keeps well, and has the facade of health thanks to the bananas. Lots of people are stuck at home looking for things to bake and snacks to eat, but certain ingredients like yeast and flour are still scarce in many areas right now.

Enter banana bread! It requires no yeast and is flexible enough that the flour can easily be replaced with white whole wheat or gluten free blend. Plus, it’s delicious and will make the kitchen smell amazing.

Banana Bread

Yield: one loaf

Ingredients:

3-4 bananas, mashed

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

large pinch or crack of salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

grated nutmeg to taste (I use around 1/4 teaspoon)

Topping:

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In medium bowl, mash bananas. Combine with oil, vanilla, and sugar. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the wet mixture and stir to combine.

Lightly grease or spray a loaf pan, then pour batter into the prepared pan (the batter will be thick). Spread evenly.

Make to topping by mixing together the Tablespoon of sugar and teaspoon of nutmeg. Sprinkle on top of batter (you may decide to use less topping, which is completely fine).

Bake at 350º F for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Hopefully you enjoy! The topping is really what makes this incredible because it gives the top and extra sweetness, like a muffin top 🙂

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is, to my knowledge, the first novel Iain Reid has written. Considering the slow-building, expertly-employed suspense, one would think this was a far more experienced writer.

The story follows an unnamed woman who is visiting her boyfriend Jake’s family farm for the first time. It follows the drive out into the country and meeting his parents. The entire time, the main character repeats the thought “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”, as she plans to break up with Jake shortly after.

This was my most recent read, something that had been on my to-read list for quite some time, and I found it generally enjoyable. Majority of the book is quite a slow-burn, full of interesting inner dialogue from the main character. The ending, which I will not divulge here, is thought-provoking and, despite being somewhat clunky, it touches on some very relevant themes.

If you like suspense, I would recommend it. It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat, building on small discrepancies and oddities within the story to leave the reader with an unsettling feeling of unease.

For full review (including spoilers):

Making Bagels

If you can make bagels you are bae goals (I know, I’m absolutely cringing and that warranted endless groans). However, these come highly requested from my husband these days, which is great because they are a decently simple recipe and don’t require fancy technique or ingredients.

Bagels

Ingredients:

1/2 Tablespoon yeast

1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar

2/3 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups AP flour

Water Bath:

6 cups water

1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 Tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Combine the yeast, brown sugar, and water. Let sit a few minutes, until bubbling. Add the flour and salt and knead (either by hand or in a mixer) until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.

Toward the end of kneading, add any desired mix-ins, such as dried fruit.

Let sit in a bowl, covered, about 1 1/2 hours, until puffy.

Once risen, remove from bowl and divide into 4 sections. Shape into rounds, poke hole in center, and stretch. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and let rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425º F and prepare water bath by combining water, sugar, and brown sugar. Bring water to a boil, then add the bagels and boil 1-2 minutes. Flip, then boil another minute.

Place the bagels back on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

I’ve included a video to better show how the shaping and boiling process works, so hopefully that helps!

Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels are one of the best snacks to have around for football season, as they pair well with beer and are more substantial than many other game-day snacks. Plus, they are naturally dairy-free, pair great with beyond brats, and can be easily customized with seasonings and toppings (“everything” bagel seasoning, shredded cheese, caraway seeds, etc.). These are surprisingly easy to make and take considerably less time than many other yeasted doughs.

Soft Pretzels

Yields 8 pretzels

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (about 30 minutes active, 1 hour inactive)

Ingredients:

1/2 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can sub this with bread flour or AP flour)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 Tablespoon salt

1.5 Tablespoons baking soda

4 cups water

2 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter, melted (for brushing tops of pretzels)

coarse sea salt, for tops of pretzels

Directions:

Combine sugar, warm water, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit until bubbling.

Mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and stir to combine, then knead well until smooth and elastic (by hand this will take 10 minutes, by mixer on medium speed around 7-8 minutes).

Place in bowl and cover. Let rise until puffy, about an hour.

Once risen, divide dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a pretzel.

Preheat oven to 450º F.

Prepare water bath by heating the 4 cups water and baking soda in a large pot (preferably a wide and shallow pot, such as a Dutch oven). Once the water is lightly boiling, drop pretzels in 2-3 at a time. The pretzels should stay in water bath for about 1 minute (30 seconds each side).

Remove pretzels from water bath and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until desired depth of color.

Enjoy! These go well with mustard (of course), cheese sauce, and herbed butter. Pair with beyond brats and braised cabbage for a hearty German meal.