Multigrain pumpkin banana bread (or muffins)

Fall is creeping in, and I’m thrilled. I found one stray can of pumpkin puree in the pantry, and decided it was finally close enough to fall to use it. My family doesn’t seem to tire of muffins or quick breads, even when I stuff them full of whole grains and fiber. I’ve been meaning to mix up a container of multigrain flour, ever since I stocked the freezer with a beautiful variety of flours some months ago. And since I’m trying to cook in greater quantity, but less often, I baked enough for a loaf to eat right away, and some muffins to freeze for lunchboxes and quick breakfasts. This bread is incredibly moist, with a complex, fruity flavor and something reminiscent of gingerbread. I am tempted to retest the recipe with less butter, since there is so much fruit to maintain the moisture. If you try, let me know how it goes!

This recipe looked so easy (mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry, mix them together–done!), but it needed some tweaking. If your ingredients are not all at room temperature, the butter will not mix smoothly into the wet mixture. I had cold eggs and overripe bananas straight from the fridge, and they didn’t play well with the softened butter. But if you cream the butter and the sugar together first, and then add the rest of the wet stuff, you’ll be fine. No extra bowls, either.

By the way, I finally acquired a kitchen scale, and I already love not having to use a slew of measuring cups. You can get along just fine without one, but I’m finding it more and more useful.

Multigrain pumpkin banana bread and muffins

adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup (8 ounces) softened butter

1 1/3 cups (10 ounces) brown sugar (I used dark brown)

6 Tbsp. (4 1/2 ounces) honey

4 large eggs

2 cups (15-ounce can) pumpkin puree

2 cups (16 ounces) mashed banana

2 Tbsp. (2 ounces) apple juice

3 cups (12 ounces) Multigrain Flour Mix (see below)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

coarse sparkling sugar to sprinkle on top

Multigrain Flour Mix

from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup oat flour (you can grind 1 cup rolled oats in the food processor)

1 cup barley flour

1/2 cup millet flour

1/2 cup rye flour

Whisk all the flours together in a bowl, then store in an airtight container.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of two 8 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ loaf pans (or one loaf pan and a dozen muffin cups).

Beat butter and brown sugar together. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the multigrain flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full of batter; then fill the loaf pan (it should also be about 2/3 full). Sprinkle the coarse sparkling sugar on top of both.

Put both pans on the middle rack of the oven. Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges look browned. Remove and cool completely in the pan on rack. Move the loaf pan to the center of the oven and bake for another 35-55 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.


Food processor mango sorbet

Did you know you can make fruit sorbet without an ice cream maker? We do have an ice cream maker, and I was ready to use it yesterday to make mango sorbet, but stumbled upon this easy method because I began with frozen mango (an impulse buy at Aldi) instead of fresh. If you have a food processor in your kitchen, but no ice cream maker, this recipe is for you.

The texture of the mango lends a creaminess to the sorbet, and the lime juice is a tangy contrast to the sweetness. Miss Six doesn’t like mango (she’s not a big fruit eater), but she asked for an extra scoop of sorbet. I’m not sure the food processor method would work with just any frozen fruit, but it might be worth experimenting. And if you want a sugar-free fruit “ice cream,” try this one made with frozen bananas. That’s next on my list!

Into the bowl of the food processor, put 1 lb. frozen mango chunks1 cup of simple syrup, and 2 Tbsp. lime juice. Purée until smooth. Serve immediately (it will be like soft serve ice cream), or transfer to a covered container and freeze until ready to serve. Best served within a few days.

Coconut banana popsicles

What do you feed a kid with the stomach flu so she doesn’t get dehydrated? Did you know the BRAT diet isn’t recommended for children anymore? I didn’t. Miss Six was home from school yesterday, and it was real challenge finding something she was interested in eating. Her total intake yesterday was a piece toast with Nutella, one tube of yogurt, a bowl of popcorn, and 1/3 of a banana. And a popsicle.

I didn’t want to give her a bunch of sugar or juice, fearing it would make her symptoms worse. Banana was an obvious choice, and that carton of coconut milk sounded like a tasty pairing. (This is a good option for my gluten- and dairy-free friends, too.)

She’s feeling good and back at school today, but I’ll be making these popsicles again. Her brothers gave them the thumbs up, too (and then requested chocolate popsicles–maybe next time, boys). If you have extra liquid in the blender, call it a smoothie and drink it up!


Coconut Banana Popsicles

2 ripe bananas (frozen ones work fine, too), cut into chunks

1 1/2 cups coconut milk, well-shaken

2 Tbsp. honey

Purée everything in blender until smooth. Pour into a popsicle mold (I like this one from World Market; the kids like how the handle collects the drips and has a spout for drinking them up) and freeze until solid. To unmold, let them sit out for 10 minutes, or run the mold under warm water until the popsicles come loose.