Saturday, 12 November 2011

Peanut Butter Bread

In an effort to keep myself awake at night while I'm at work, I need projects.  When I get up at 5am to go to the gym, I work all day, and then my evenings are spent plunked in front of the tv or a book.

The problem is that I fall asleep - usually between 6 and 7.  But, if I manage to keep myself awake between 6 and 7, then I sleep between 7 and 8, or it's 8 and 9.  In order to get up at 5am (and not barf on myself from the pain of being awake at such an unearthly hour), I need to be asleep around 9pm or slightly after.

The best movie or book in the WORLD couldn't keep me awake.

I need options.  I need to move around - I DON'T need to spend a couple more hours in the gym - by 5 in the evening I've pretty much had it with physical activity.  And I spend 10 hours a day in front of a computer - who needs to spend an extra 3 in the evening?

So - I decided to bake.  The kitchen were I work is free in the evenings and.  well.  I am not likely to fall asleep sticking something in the oven.  And it would be an interesting day if I did.

Let me make some clarifications (excuses) for you before we move along to the recipe.  Or recipes as it would turn out to be.

1.  The oven is one of those big darn industrial jobs.  It has no temperature display, and no thermometer inside.  And it's gas.  Every oven is different and it's going to take me a couple of tries before I get it right.
2.  This is not my kitchen at home.  I want my kitchen tools so badly I can taste it.  Or maybe I just have to pee.
3.  There is no room for sub-par baked goods with the guys I work with.  Either it's perfect or you never live it down.

As I was looking through the recipes in my E-mail Recipe Box, I came across a Peanut Butter Bread recipe.  It's kind of the same idea as Banana Bread, but different.  And I thought - mmmm, that would be good!  It went in the pile.

The first night of baking was somewhat of a disaster.  I couldn't tell for sure what the temperature was set at and I just had to guess - besides the fact that I couldn't even tell if the oven was ON was also a problem. 

The bread seemed to come together well - but it was not terribly liquidy and I had to spread it in the pan as opposed to pouring it in the pan like the recipe said.  (On a side note - why has this suddenly become a theme for me?)  While I was putting it together, a couple of guys came in to see what I was up to and they were quite excited about the bread.... 

While it was baking, it smelled pretty good and I was pretty excited about it myself.

And when I pulled it out, the top had a lovely brown colour, even though a couple of bits were dark brown, at that point I wasn't worried.

Then I pulled the bread out of the pan.  The sides and bottom were CLEARLY over-browned.  But I let it cool and cut into it anyway.

Result: the edges and bottom were hard and tough, the inside edges of the bread were nicely done, but the middle was slightly under-cooked. 

There are no pictures of any of this since I left my camera behind, but then remembered a few days later that we have a camera here and I can use that one.  Working makes you forget things.

I thought about leaving it for our cook to sample in the morning, but after 5 minutes of humming and hawing about it while getting ready for bed, I returned to the kitchen (in my pyjamas) and tossed it in the garbage.

The next morning, one of the guys asked me where the bread went as he had slipped in to the kitchen after I went to bed.  He said he was disappointed that it was gone and figured I had hidden it somewhere.  He was sad to find out it didn't work out.

That evening I tried something else (read my post about White Chocolate Brownies), but the Peanut Butter Bread had turned into an obsession.  I pulled a couple more recipes off the internet and headed back into the kitchen for a "Best Of" round.

And in order to help me with the temperature issue - I ordered a couple of oven thermometers from a supplier and insisted they needed to make our grocery plane that day.  Cause I can do that.

It was ON - I was going to master this bread or be instituted into a padded room.  My failures of late have been making me crazy and I can't figure out the heck is going on!

I had a "Best Of" challenge and baked up four different recipes.  And bless my heart I figured they were perfect.  But only one out of three were baked all the way through the top center.  For whatever reason - along the top center of three loaves was totally undercooked!  Weird right?  I just can't figure it out.

I wrangled one of my guys to be a guinea pig (this was well before I realized I had an under-cooked issue) and we cut into the four loaves.  Now - on all four loaves, this part was perfectly cooked - so we had four wonderful pieces to try. 

Here are the results: 
Two of the loaves turned out quite heavy and dense - but not without a lovely peanut butter flavour.  I wasn't really in love with the prep on these loaves, and I knew they'd be really dense because the "batter" wasn't really a batter, it was more like a cookie dough and I had to press it into the pans.

The third loaf rose beautifully, it was nice and moist and had terrific texture, and while I was eating it, it kinda stuck to my mouth just like I was eating a spoonful of peanut butter.  Oh really - we're all friends here - everyone's done it, don't be shy.  So that loaf was a definite contender for the top spot. 

But then we broke into the fourth loaf.  It was so light and fluffy and moist I almost died.  It has a mild peanut butter flavour that's just perfect.

That was my definite winner and I will make it again at home to see if I have the same issues.  (Seriously - what the heck is going ON!)

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.
Peanut Butter Bread
My favorite of the bunch
Makes 1 loaf
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Add eggs and milk and mix well.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and add to the peanut butter mixture.  Beat well.
  4. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before unmolding.
Dinners For A Year  (my favorite!)
Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice (the runner up)
Allrecipes Blog

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