Keep Calm and Bake On

My parents always tell me they have no idea where my “creative” gene came from.  They are very sure, however, that I did not get it from them.  I probably didn’t get my baking gene from my parents either.  Both Mom and Dad are good cooks; they might not have time to produce a gourmet meal on a weeknight, but holidays and special occasions were on point.  And my Dad makes amazing authentic Chinese food on special occasions – I need to learn his recipes!

However, I am pretty sure all cakes in my home came in squares and out of boxes growing up.  And frostings came from circular containers.  Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but I love a good, made-from-scratch baked good.  Using individual ingredients and not a box mix is such a healthier choice!  So in the past two years, I’ve set out to bake everything from scratch  with flour, baking power/soda, eggs, milk, sugar, confectioners, sugar, etc.  And the best made-from-scratch thing is frosting.  Nothing beats it!

This obviously isn’t a “let’s bake all the things” and “I’ll tell you how!” blog, but I do enjoy baking every now and then.  Actually, I’d love to bake every single day, but there are issues with this: a) I work 9 hours a day, work out, and there’s no time, and b) I’d get fat…maybe.

My love for baking came from a really silly entrepreneurial idea about a year ago.  I went to visit a friend in Vietnam and didn’t see any sign of this crazy cupcake trend we have going on in the US.  No “Sprinkles” or “Frostings” or “Vietnam Cupcakes” existed!  I was like, we should start a cupcake shop in Vietnam!  Well, that probably wouldn’t have been a great idea… (Maybe it would have! Who knows? It didn’t happen.  Anyone want to open up a cupcake shop in Vietnam?!)

But that’s when I decided to learn how to make cupcakes from scratch because if I wanted to start a cupcake store I’d need to know how to make one.  No Betty Crocker boxes here!

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Cute Poster! Find it on Esty

I ended up making two types of cupcakes recently: a Vietnamese Coffee Cupcake with a recipe that I got from Cheryl Porro’s Cupcake Blog.  She had so many awesome recipes that I one day want to try more of! And a Strawberry Champagne Cupcake  I adapted from Erika’s ‘The Sweet Life’ blog.  Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

I think it is harder to make cupcakes than a regular cake, but maybe that’s just me.  I also don’t have a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer (shameless plug here to how awesome Kitchen-Aid is! Hint, hint, nudge, nudge: Send me a free mixer?) and it’s really hard to make perfect batter and frosting with a hand mixer.

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Vietnamese Coffee Cupcake
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Strawberry Champagne Cupcake

Baking has helped me a lot “mentally” in the past year.  For some reason, I’ve found it to be really calming and I love being able to put my energy in and see a result.  Even if that result doesn’t always turn out right.  Put on some good music, measure out all your ingredients in advance (this is key for ‘sane’ baking), follow recipes, and put in the oven.  I also get so much joy when people enjoy the things I make.  That’s the best feeling in the world!  I wish I had more people around that I could force my baked goods on 😛  I also feel good about baking because if you’ve been reading this blog, you know I work out a lot.  So I do reward myself with baked goods!

This past weekend, I made a Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread.  The roommate and her boyfriend liked it, so that’s a good sign!  You can definitely taste the chocolate, which is a great combo with the banana.

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Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

The recipe is from “Cooking Light” Magazine…as a disclaimer, the recipe isn’t really all that “light” (I think one serving is like 183 calories, but who’s counting!) If you eat this in moderation, you’ll be fine.  Here’s the recipe for a 16 serving loaf!

Ingredients:

2 cups-all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup softened butter

1 1/4 mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

1/2 cup egg substitute (I used 3 egg whites)

1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip

cooking spray

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).  Add banana, egg substitute/egg whites, and yogurt; beat until blended.  Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
  4. Place chocolate chips in  microwave-safe bowl, and microwave 1 minute or until almost melted (I microwaved for 1 min 15 seconds), stirring until smooth.  Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined.  You will have two bowls – one of the banana batter and one of the chocolate banana batter.
  5. Spoon chocolate banana batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. *I baked for the full 1 hr 15 minutes, however, I like my bread more gooey and moist.  I would suggest baking for 1 hour, and checking to see if it is done.

Happy Baking!

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