Chocolate Zucchini Doughnuts

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Yay for finally getting back into the swing of things! I didn’t realize until I looked at the date of my last post how much time had gone by since posting about my desire to restart our food blog. Great timing on my part, since we have a new baby due any week now, but at least it is giving me a chance to work on something and still keep my feet up.

Anybody out there have zucchini in their garden? If so, then you know that zucchini plants can produce a huge amount that you can’t seem to give away fast enough. If not, learn a lesson from me: if you don’t want zucchini coming out of your ears, then don’t plant even one plant!

In the last month or so I have tried 5 new zucchini recipes along with the tried and true ones I’ve baked in years past. After harvesting 3 large and 1 medium green zucchini from our garden yesterday I had a desire this morning to try one of the new recipes. A little tweaking here and there and we had doughnuts for a yummy afternoon snack!

I really didn’t make many changes to the recipe, it was more of how I formed the doughnuts. I didn’t have a doughnut pan and didn’t want to deal with making a bunch of foil contraptions to use in a muffin tin so I just piped round circles (and a few bar shapes) onto the baking sheets. They aren’t much to look at when they are in that form (be thankful that I spared you the pictures because you may have been less interested in making them).

The only thing that surprised me was that they stayed fairly flat. My baked doughnut looked more like a regular doughnut cut in half. That may not have happened if they were in a doughnut pan because they would have fluffed up instead of spreading out. It didn’t change the taste, texture, or time it took to bake. It did make them softer though so instead of dipping them into the melted white chocolate icing I ended up drizzling it. And in honor of our soon to arrive baby girl, I added in just a bit of pink.

These are going to be a definite repeat at our house! We have to find something to use up all of that zucchini, right? Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Doughnuts
Slightly Modified from: Inside Bru Crew Life

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 /2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the applesauce, buttermilk, yogurt, zucchini, and salt and continue to cream.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the miniature chocolate chips by hand; do not over mix.

Pour the batter into a large ziploc bag and cut off one corner. Pipe round doughnuts onto a baking sheet covered with silicone or parchment paper. (If using a doughnut pan, fill the cavities at least 3/4 full.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place the white chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Heat and stir in 30 second increments until chips are melted. If using other colors, make smaller batches of melted chocolate and add desired color. Drizzle doughnuts with white chocolate. Store in an air tight container.

Makes about 21 doughnuts (dependent on size and shape)

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Sweet Potato Streusel Quick Bread

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Don’t those chunks of sweet potato look pretty? This was one of my Daring Bakers items for our hidden veggie challenge. And really, until you sliced it you wouldn’t have known that it had chunks of sweet potato throughout the bread.

It was really very tasty, yet mild at the same time. The streusel topping gave it a bit of sweet and a bit of crunch otherwise it wasn’t over the top. I have made more flavorful breads, but this was nice. Another plus was that it lasted for a few days without drying out and losing its flavor. Overall, I believe this will be made again in our household. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Bread

Sweet Potato Streusel Quick Bread
Source: My Recipes

1 large sweet potato (about 12 ounces)
2 teaspoons butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.

Pierce potato with a fork; place on a paper towel in microwave oven. Microwave at high 7 minutes, turning after 4 minutes. Wrap potato in paper towel; let stand 5 minutes. Peel potato; mash to measure 1 cup.

Place butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave at medium 20 seconds or until soft. Stir in pecans and 2 tablespoons sugar.

Measure level cups of flour. Combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add mashed sweet potato, juice, oil, and egg, stirring until well blended.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Drop pecan mixture over top of loaf; gently press into batter.

Bake for 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Makes one loaf

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

Isn’t it funny how social media can take a fairly simple recipe and shoot it into stardom. I’m sure pinterest has launched more than one person into food blog success from such a posting. It was there that I ran across this little gem of a recipe.

I have made a few varieties of banana bread, some that have included chocolate chips, but I’ve never done dark chocolate or raspberries. It turned out to be very tasty and moist. My center had some trouble baking all the way through (the same as a few others) but it wasn’t enough to distract from the deliciousness of the bread. My loaf probably doesn’t look quite as beautiful as the original because I didn’t add extra chocolate and raspberries to the top, but it still was a hit while we were on vacation to the happiest place on earth. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread
Source: Recipe Boy

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup halved raspberries, tossed in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in the flour mixture; just until moist. Don’t over-mix. Stir in the chocolate chunks and then gently stir in the raspberries. If you want, you can sprinkle a few additional chocolate chunks and raspberries on the top.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes one 9×5 inch loaf

Cinnamon, Sugar, and Raisin Challah

Loaf number four, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins all rolled up in honey white goodness. While this loaf was tasty coming out of the oven it was even better a few days later as french toast! I made this loaf similar to the caramel chocolate. I divided the dough into four equal pieces, rolled out each piece and spread cinnamon sugar and raisins on it, then rolled it back up. I also did a four strand braid for the same reason as the other loaf. It worked beautifully! You can see a few raisins peeking out from the finished loaf. Enjoy!

Caramel Chocolate Challah

Melted chocolate and gooey caramel in soft, warm, home baked bread, how can this combination be wrong? This loaf was my absolute favorite of the four loaves of Challah that I made! Unfortunately that also meant that it was the first loaf gone of the four. I was pretty sad when we polished off the last slice, enough so that I definitely plan to make another batch of this soon.

These next two loaves (the caramel chocolate and cinnamon raisin) came from the second batch of dough. Here is the monster rise of the second loaf, this time with no thumb prints! One of these days I will have to take a picture of this bowl next to a regular size bowl so you can really appreciate the rise of this dough.

I separated the dough into two even balls and set one aside for the cinnamon raisin. I decided to do a four strand braid for this because I really liked the look of the four strand versus the three strand. I didn’t want to attempt the six strand because I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to have six strands that were filled. As it was you can see that the rolled strand with the caramel and chocolate pieces in it was pretty thick. For the filled strands, you roll out each strand similar to a cinnamon roll, put in the filling, and then roll it up and pinch the seam. All four strands then get pinched together and you braid it similar to the plain four strand.

 

The photo below shows the caramel chocolate on the left having risen for another 30 minutes and the cinnamon, sugar, and raisin on the right just ready for its second rise while the caramel chocolate goes in the oven. Timing wise it worked out great!

As you can tell, this variety was my favorite, favorite, favorite! I would definitely recommend making a loaf of this. Enjoy!

Caramel Chocolate Challah
Source: The Challah Blog

Basic Honey White Challah
1 1/2 cups warm water, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon oil (light colored vegetable oil or olive oil)
4 large eggs
1  1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
semi-sweet chocolate chips
caramel bits (you can also use caramels cut into chip sized pieces)
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons yeast. Stir. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.

To the yeast mixture, add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt, and 5 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with a mixer’s dough hook) until smooth; adding flour as needed. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl; turn to coat. Loosely cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough; divide it into two pieces. Each piece makes its own loaf.

For a four braid loaf, separate each piece into four equal pieces. (I did mine by weight and they were around 8 ounces for each of the four pieces.) Roll out each piece separately; spread chocolate chips and caramel pieces over rolled out dough. Roll up the dough lengthwise (as you would a cinnamon roll); set each strand aside until all four are filled and rolled.

Pinch on end of all four braids together (see photo above). Braid pieces and tuck ends under. Place braided loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Brush tops of loaves with egg wash. Bake loaves for 30-40 minutes until done. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 loaves

Nutella Challah

Tada! Nutella Challah, made from the “other” loaf from my first batch of honey white dough. I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge to make it because I don’t like when things get messy in the middle of making something. And this got messy!

I started my process the same as the other loaf. Basic honey white dough mixed together and set to rise for about 2 hours. After the rise I divided the dough into three equal weight pieces. I then rolled them out the same way, a bit thicker in the middle compared to the ends.

So here is where it got a bit challenging, or at least messy, which challenged me! I made a dent (kind of like a trough or something) along the entire rope. I then spooned Nutella along the entire length. After I spooned on the Nutella I gently pulled the dough on each side of the Nutella up and around it and pinched the dough together. Let me just say that you definitely get better with practice. The first one was a bit touch and go, but by the time I got to the second one I was pretty comfortable with it and had figured out what method worked best to get the dough up and over the Nutella.

 

After all three ropes were filled and pinched I carefully moved them into position for braiding. I decided to do a three strand braid because the ropes were pretty thick with the filling and I didn’t want to take a chance that more I braided the more the filling would leak through. I started braiding in the middle and went from the middle to one end, then from the middle to the other end.

There was a bit of Nutella leakage, but not much considering. I was pretty happy with how my braid turned out. This also sits and rises for about 30 more minutes and then gets baked for 30 minutes. It was pretty awesome right out of the oven.

 

Out of the four varieties this was my husband’s favorite (mine will be next). It was surprisingly easy to make, if you can get over the bit of messiness that comes with stuffing filling inside of a braid. Enjoy!
To see recipe for plain Challah, click here.

Daring Bakers – Challah

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
Such a blast! I really love baking bread, especially breads with yummy fillings that look beautiful! I have had Challah (pronounced ha-lah) on my to do list for a few years now. Who knew it could be so easy? Until now I sure didn’t!
I ended up making two different batches with two loaves each for a total of four loaves of bread. All four loaves ended up being plain or sweet. I thought about doing a savory bread but I made homemade pizza the same day so that was my savory for the day.

All four of my loaves are a honey white bread for the base. I am going to show all four on here but I really think that like the quick bread post each bread needs its own time. I used different techniques and different breads for each bread, so if you really like how one sounds you might have to come back in a few days for the actual recipe.

I started by making the dough and letting it rise in my warm kitchen. You can see that it was a monster after 2 hours of sitting in the bowl (that is my largest bowl from Tupperware). And you can also see that just as I was going to grab my camera to get a picture of the glorious rise, my husband poked his thumb around the entire thing.

I decided to do a four strand braid for my first loaf because it looked fairly easy to do, easier than the six strand, and I was going to save the three strand for the breads that had fillings. I divided the dough into fourths and rolled out each ball so that the center of each rope was a bit fatter than both ends.

Once all four ropes are rolled out you position them and pinch one end of each of the four strands together. It sure is nice to have pictures, huh. Sometimes you just can’t figure out how to word stuff so other people know what you are talking about. After you pinch the ends together, you begin braiding. I did the method Ruth shared of “farthest left strand goes over, then under, then over” etc. I kept chanting that as I braided to make sure I was going under and over when I was supposed to. It was really easy to do and before I knew it I had a beautifully braided loaf.

After sitting for another half an hour or so this loaf went into the oven where it baked for 30 minutes exactly. I was so giddy the few times I peeked in at it because it was actually doing what it was supposed to do! It’s always nice when that happens. The final result was a soft loaf of bread that was beautifully braided and browned. We had a few slices while it was warm but then turned to the more exciting twin that came from the same dough.
I’ll post on the other breads over the next few days. They also were made with the honey white bread base but I used a few different techniques to fill the strands before braiding. This would be way too long of a post if I included all the info, photos, and recipes that I gathered for this challenge. In the meantime, enjoy!
Nutella Challah
Caramel Chocolate Challah
Cinnamon, Sugar, and Raisin Challah

Honey White Challah
Source: Tammy’s Recipes

1 1/2 cups warm water, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dry active yeast

1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon oil (light colored vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons yeast. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.
To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding flour as needed. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl; turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 11/2 hours.
Punch down the dough, divide it into two sections. Use one half to make each loaf. Shape or braid as desired. Place braided loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Brush tops loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted.) Bake loaves 30-40 minutes until done. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 loaves

Daring Bakers – Dutch Crunch Bread

 
 Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Dutch Crunch Bread – I love the sound of that! Anything that has “crunch” in the title draws me to it. The Daring Bakers challenge this month was to make this type of bread which I had never heard of before. The pictures absolutely fascinated me!

Dutch Crunch Bread, also known as Tiger Bread (although in my case I think it looks more like a giraffe or a cheetah with all of those spots instead of stripes) is made from a regular white bread recipe and then coated with the Dutch Crunch topping.

You’ll have to excuse my first photo up there. I usually like to take a nice photo that showcases the recipe but I just didn’t have a lot of time and was planning to showcase the sandwiches that I constructed using the Dutch Crunch Bread. Anyway, I digress.

I didn’t have any trouble with the bread dough. It came together as it should and rose to the desired size in the expected time frame. I slathered it with the Dutch Crunch topping, which I have to admit reminded me a bit of the paper-mache days as a kid. I was curious as to whether the dough would “deflate” some with the topping on it, but it seems to hold its shape just fine.

At this point I wasn’t really sure what to expect. So many different varieties of the bread had been posted on the forum, some beautifully crackled and darkened, others pale with no cracks. There seemed to be uncertainty as to what was going to come out of the oven. I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open the door and saw that there was crackling and browning on the outside of the crust. Since they came out of the oven pretty late in the evening we saved the sandwich rolls for lunch the next day.

Hot ham and Swiss sounded like a great combination on the day that I made sandwiches. Gooey, tangy Swiss cheese melted into Black Forest Ham. Yum! I’ll take one now, please. The bread reminded me a bit of a kaiser roll or a ciabatta bun. Not quite chewy like a kaiser and it crumbled a bit more than a ciabatta. It wasn’t sweet like it sounded like Dutch Crunch Bread is but it was a nice sandwich roll.

Since we only used 3 of the 6 rolls we put the leftovers in a ziploc bag for the next day. I didn’t want them drying out and becoming hard as rocks, but I’m not sure if having them in a somewhat air-tight package made their taste a little more blah. Kind of hard to describe, but I didn’t feel like the sandwiches the next day were as tasty. It could have also been that I didn’t warm up my roll like I did the day before. It seemed to crumble a lot more and was just a ho-hum kind of bread. Pretty, but not spectacular tasting.

Either way you slice it, these sandwich rolls were fun to make and pretty fun to eat! I’m thinking I’ll try them again to see if there is another bread recipe I like better with the Dutch Crunch topping. Enjoy!

Dutch Crunch Topping
(layer on any white bread recipe you’d like to)

2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115º F)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or sesame oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

Using a brush, spoon, or your fingers, coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping and spread it around. (Error on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.)

Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends.

When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Crunch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.

Lemon Loaf

As I stated in my Daring Bakers post on this Lemon Loaf I really had wanted to make it a Meyer Lemon Loaf but I can never seem to find Meyer lemons. I can tell you that when I come across some I am definitely going to buy them and use them immediately.

This loaf was pretty easy to make, the only real hassle was having to scrape off all the lemon zest. Oh, and don’t forget to get your simple syrup ready while the bread is baking. I completely forget because I got distracted with doing other things and realized it as the bread was coming out of the oven. Nothing like having to scramble. Enjoy!

Lemon Loaf
Loaf:
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
zest of 3 Meyer lemons (regular lemons can be used)
2 cups white granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (regular lemons can be used)
pinch of salt
9 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
juice from 1 medium Meyer lemon (or regular lemon)

Preheat oven to moderate 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8″x5″ loaf pans.

Sift together flour and baking powder; set aside.

Place sugar, lemon zest, and eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until the mixture is light lemon color and thickened a bit. This can also be done with a mixer. Whisk in sour cream, then salt and lemon juice.

Gently whisk in the flour in four parts, then whisk in the butter in three parts. You’ll have a thick, pourable batter flecked with lemon zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

While the loaves are baking, prepare simply syrup. Boil together sugar and water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.

Turn the loaves out of their pans onto a cooling rack and brush liberally with the lemon syrup; repeat brushing as you feel necessary. Let cool.

Makes two 8″x5″ loaves

Chocolate Marble Bread (aka Zebra Cake)

Doesn’t marbling in baked goods intrigue you? I don’t know why I am so drawn to pictures of breads and cakes that have marbling and layers. Maybe it is the fact that it looks like you did something complicated when it was really just the act of swirling an extra large toothpick through your batter. Or maybe it’s because there is always a surprise in every slice you cut. Who knows.

I do need to admit right up front that this is really cake masquerading as bread. Really, it is. Even in the description on the original post the author explains that it is a basic vanilla cake batter to which you add chocolate. This goes back to the discussion during our Daring Bakers challenge of what a quick bread really is, cake or bread. Most people agreed that many quick “bread” recipes were just cakes in loaf form. Hence, the Chocolate Marble Bread otherwise known as Zebra Cake by my son.

While I certainly won’t feed this to my family for breakfast (as maybe I would with a banana bread), it is a very tasty loaf of bread/cake. Definitely more in the realm of dessert though. Enjoy!

Chocolate Marble Bread
Source: Joy of Baking

4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup milk, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

Melt the chocolate along with 1/4 cup of milk over the lowest heat setting on the stove top. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl whisk the sour cream with the remaining milk, and the vanilla extract.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream/milk mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Spoon half of the batter into a separate bowl. Add the chocolate mixture to one half of the batter and fold in.

With two spoons, place spoonfuls of the two mixtures into the prepared loaf pan alternately (chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, etc). Run a wooden skewer or knife through the two batter to achieve the marble affect.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely.

Makes one 9×5 loaf