Baked goods: Banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting


In addition to the Halloween standby recipes, I made these cupcakes since I had bananas on hand and realized I had never made anything banana-flavored to bring to work even though it is one of the most basic and easy to do.

The odd part with them this time was when a colleague asked me how I managed to get the banana flavor… from a mix? A powder? An extract? I simply replied, “Um… from bananas.” I don’t know what he was thinking — but overripe bananas provide a pretty strong flavor and scent. I thought everyone knew that.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grease and flour only the bottom of a 9×5 inch loaf pan (or line cupcake pans with paper liners, if you want to make cupcakes, as I did).

In one bowl, peel and mash bananas and set aside. In another bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt).

Beat sugar and oil together. Add eggs, then mashed. bananas, sour cream and vanilla. Blend well. Add the bowl of dry ingredients until just moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan.

If baking loaves, bake for 50 to 60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If making cupcakes, check on them after about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool.

Baked goods: Cinnamon rolls


I had not baked cinnamon rolls since… high school, I think. I had some milk I wanted to use and a desire to get back to making yeast doughs. Cinnamon rolls seemed like a good choice and helped me through a night of insomnia (and meant freshly baked rolls for colleagues just a few hours later). The pictures above represent attempt #1, which was more successful than my second attempt (featured below). Both were good, but I think the second attempt yielded a drier roll. I think I rushed the second attempt and the dough did not turn out as soft. See the unbaked and baked second attempts below.

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm milk (110F/45C)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted, but slightly cooled, butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup softened butter, which you will spread onto the rolled-out dough
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
(You can also add raisins or nuts to the filling, if desired. I never do.)

Cream Cheese Icing:
3 or 4 ounces softened cream cheese (85 to 110 grams)
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl (or stand mixer). Mix in the sugar, butter and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball (or, if using a stand mixer, use the dough hook for about 5 minutes). Make sure your hands are dusted with flour while doing this. Put in a clean bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

After the dough has doubled, turn it onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle (40cm by 53cm). Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Lightly press the cinnamon-sugar and butter mixture into the dough.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F/200C.

Bake rolls in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Then add powdered sugar, then vanilla. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Baked goods: Chocolate peanut butter bundt cake


Apparently, November is bundt month. I had no idea. The 15th is bundt day. I recently learned the entire history of the bundt pan. Fascinating stuff.

I decided to bake this because chocolate and peanut butter are a nice combination but one I rarely see in Europe, given the anti-peanut butter feelings most Europeans harbor. This was an experiment since it was my first time attempting this, but most of those who ate some have reported enjoyment.


For the filling

2/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour

To make the filling

Beat peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until combined. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla. Mix in sugar and flour until combined. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip and scoop the filling into the bag. (Or put into plastic Ziploc-type bag and cut a hole in one of the corners for piping.) Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the cake

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
3 ounces (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cups sour cream
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grease/flour a bundt cake pan.

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

In a medium metal or glass bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water together. Add in chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Mix in sour cream.

In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. Alternately mix in the dry ingredients and the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined with each addition.

Spoon a little less than half of the batter into bottom of the bundt pan. Using the pastry bag of peanut butter mixture, carefully pipe a ring of the filling over the center of the chocolate batter. Pour the remaining cake batter on top and gently tap the pan to remove air bubbles. Do not let the peanut butter touch the sides.

Bake until top springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached – about 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the cake and carefully turn over – remove the pan and let cool completely.