Category Archives: quick bread

Mini Pumpkin Trifle with Cranberry Sauce and Whipped Cream Cheese

If you aren’t sick of pumpkin yet, it is your lucky day! If you are sick of pumpkin, never fear, you will soon be sick of peppermint. I’m planning a “12 Days of Christmas” and can’t seem to get away from the peppermint. ‘Tis the season!

But one last  pumpkin post. Yes, it is technically after Thanksgiving and we are supposed to have moved on from said pumpkin. In my defense, I had these made long before Turkey Day, but in true holiday fashion, was just too darned busy to sit down and actually write. Somehow the week before Thanksgiving I had more commitments lined up than I cared for. Too often the holiday season blurs by us without being able to sit back and enjoy the finer things.

Like pumpkin.

The previous post was all about pumpkin bread. That recipe made two loaves, which I would have gladly eaten every last bite, but really don’t have the budget to go out and buy all new clothes in the next size up. And, as previously mentioned, I was hosting a bunch of ladies for our November social. I was in charge of the bread and dessert, everyone else brought the soup. Since the week was already beyond busy, I needed something quick, easy, and tasty. Cute didn’t hurt either. Enter the Mini Pumpkin Trifle.

I’ve found that when you get a bunch of women together, they don’t eat much. Well, dessert anyhow. Even though you know that we all want to devour dessert. Or is that just me? If so, I’m ok with that. I like my dessert. But for this occasion I kept it small and easy to eat.

It started as just some pumpkin bread with a little whip cream on top. But no, I had to add more to my week. I thought it needed some color. What goes great with pumpkin? Cranberry sauce of course. But then I worried there was no texture. It needed a crunch. And what goes with cranberry and pumpkin? Ginger shortbread.  And that is my life, adding more to my schedule than I probably need to. But hey, that’s what women do best, right? Right.

And look at how cute they turned out! I’m not sure if I was more excited to eat the dessert or use the dishes. Complete with mini spoons!

While this dessert has four components, it doesn’t need all four, and each part is very easy and can be made ahead of time. The first is the pumpkin bread from the previous post. I kept one loaf out, froze the other and then thawed it out on the counter. Tasted just as fresh as day one.

The next part is cranberry sauce. This is the same cranberry sauce I use at Thanksgiving every year. I left out the cornstarch and instead smashed the cranberries which thickened the sauce. It can be made two days in advance. Maybe more but I’ve never tried!

I took a shortbread cookie from Martha Stewart. The recipe calls for cutting out the shortbread into shapes, and since I just wanted small slices of shortbread, I knew this would work great. I added ginger until the taste was right.

Must smell good….my pup was very curious!

And the whip cream – insanely easy. I wanted to use Mascarpone, but had some cream cheese leftover from something (who knows what, that seems like an eternity ago!). Either would work great.

So there you have it. Four recipes all combined into one great little dessert. Assemble however you see fit. Since my dishes  were so tiny, I just did one layer of each, but if you have bigger bowls more layers would be great. I assembled several hours before my event and chilled. The less you need to do before guests arrive, the better.

Yield: Depends on your serving size. Will make around 20 small dishes.

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Brioche & French Toast

Difficulty: Easy!

Pumpkin Bread

Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Emeril (bam!)

  • 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange (fine zest)
  • 1/4 cup Port (any sweet wine will work, in a pinch you could use cranberry juice but hold back on the sugar if it is sweetened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (add more later if desired)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Add all ingredients to pan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and smash cranberries. Sauce will thicken. Let cool and chill for later use.

Ginger Shortbread

Adapted from Martha Stewart

*Note: the original recipe calls for cranberries in the cookie. You could probably skip the sauce and just make these cookies as is and it would still be great I’m sure. The ginger was very subtle, so if you like a stronger ginger taste, add more. Best if made at least one day in advance.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter an 8×8 (or 9×9) baking pan and then line with parchment overhanging.

2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in mixer about three minutes. You want light and fluffy, but not too light and fluffy.

3.In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and ginger. Add to butter mixture and mix until dough ball forms. Press into prepared pan.

4. Bake until slightly golden on edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool and cut.

Mascarpone Cream

Mascarpone Cream

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (cream cheese should be at room temp, but not mascarpone)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using electric mixer, beat cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Can be made a few hours ahead, but should be day of.

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Pumpkin Bread

Thanksgiving hasn’t even arrived yet and I’m already falling behind. Why is it that no matter how hard I try to slow down time, it speeds up during my favorite time of year?

We all love banana bread. It’s easy, makes a great breakfast, and is super tasty. But this time of year, it’s time for something else. And you know I am a lover of all things pumpkin (and I recently discovered a dear friend of mine is not a fan of pumpkin. How can that be? I suppose I could forgive her, but ouch, that hurts).  Thus, it is time for Pumpkin Bread.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never actually made pumpkin bread before. And now that I’ve made it, banana bread will never be the same. I really loved this recipe. I don’t even care if others liked it or not (they did, but besides the point) because I liked it so much. In fact, if others didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to share. Selfish, but I’m ok with that.

It’s incredibly moist, just enough pumpkin flavor, and very easy to make. What more could you want in a quick bread? This is a great change from banana bread and just as easy. The spices can be changed to your liking and it makes two loaves. One to eat  now, and one to eat tomorrow. Or to freeze. Whatever works for you. It does freeze well, which is a bonus. I’m not sure how it would be if you froze it for an extended period of time, but a week worked great.

I searched many recipes and finally settled on this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Their recipes are consistently great and the reviews were fantastic as well. The edges start browning a little soon for the center to finish, so I recommend covering with foil for the last 15 minutes. It’s hard to wait, but let it cool, wrap, and eat the next day.

I did not add the nuts or chocolate. This may surprise you (it surprised me!) but I am not a fan of chocolate and pumpkin together. I love them separately, but for me, they just don’t work together. Feel free to think I’m strange.  I also modified the spices, and you should too depending on your preferences. Enjoy this bread with a nice hot cup of coffee, or use it in a trifle, which will be my next post, coming soon. Three pumpkin posts in a row? It’s November. That’s allowed.

Yield: 2 loaves

One year ago: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Difficulty: Easy!

Pumpkin Bread

Modified slightly from King Arthur Flour

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional (toast first for extra flavor)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
  • coarse white sugar,  for sprinkling on top, optional (recommend!)

Note: I did not add nutmeg because….gasp…I was out! I couldn’t believe it either. I have quickly remedied that issue, but wish I had some for this bread. It would be quite tasty. Add about 1 tsp. Yum.


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans (if you’re making the plain version of the bread); two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans (if you’re adding chocolate chips and nuts); or one of each, if you’re making one plain loaf, and one loaf with chips and nuts.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and water.

3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a separate bowl. Add to the wet mixture and mix until just combined!

4. Mix in the chips and nuts, if you’re using them (you can coat with about 1 TB of flour if you don’t want them sinking, but be sure to subtract that from the flour above). To make one loaf with chips/nuts, one loaf without, divide the batter in half. Leave one half plain, and add 3/4 cup chips and 1/2 cup nuts to the other half.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.

6.  Bake the bread for 60 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean; and that same tester inserted about 1/2″ into the top of the loaf doesn’t encounter any totally unbaked batter.

7. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. When it’s completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving.



Filed under quick bread

Bon Appetit Best Ever Banana Bread

I almost feel like I’m starting to have a normal life again. The boxes are unpacked, most of the pictures are up on the wall, and I’ve finished my online classes. That means free time for baking and the return of my sanity. My hubby brought home a bunch of bananas from a coworker that were about to go bad, apparently assuming I would do something with them. I did, of course, and made banana bread.

I could not find my go-to banana bread recipe. Thankfully I have a bookshelf full of cookbooks. My latest addition is Bon Appetit Fast, Fresh, and Easy. It’s not just desserts, but a little bit of everything.That’s where I found “Best Ever Banana Bread.” A bit big headed of them, don’t you think? Well, they are right. This is indeed the best banana bread I’ve had.

But wait, there’s more! I did a little science experiment with this bread. It says not to double the recipe, but to make two separate batches. In one batch I used high quality ingredients: King Arthur Flour, turbinado sugar, and Madagascar vanilla. The second batch I used “bargain” flour from Costco, basic sugar, and “bargain” vanilla, also from Costco. Don’t get me wrong, I love Costco, but they don’t have high quality baking ingredients.

The difference was, well, see for yourself.

The batch on the right is good ingredients, the batch on the left is bargain ingredients. Amazing, right? You can’t really tell in the picture but the left was much runnier than the right.

Now, let’s look at the after pictures….

Can you guess which one is which? Yep, the left is good, the right is bargain. Amazing, right?? The left definitely tasted moister and more flavorful. The right was by no means bad, just not as good.

Let’s take one more look.

See how the lower quality sunk in the middle? I really don’t know why. They baked at the exact same time, exact same kind of pans, exact same temperature.

We ate the good one, and gave away the bargain. Hey, sometimes you just don’t feel like sharing the good stuff.

Here’s the recipe. The biggest suggestion I can make is not to over bake! The recipe says 1 hour, 20 minutes. Start checking at 1 hour. I took mine out at 1 hour 10 minutes. Another 10 minutes and I would have had a very dry bread.


Bon Appetit Best Ever Banana Bread

  • 2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups AP Flour (recommend KAF)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I was running low, so each bread had 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup veggie oil)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 TB buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan. The recipe says metal, I used stone.

2. Whisk bananas and eggs in large bowl to blend. Add remaining ingredients and stir to blend well.

3. Transfer to pan. Bake until top is golden brown and tester comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs is good). This will take anywhere from 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

4. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then finish cooling on rack. Bread is best the next day, with a big slab of butter.


Filed under quick bread