Ultimate Zucchini Bread

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Ultimate Zucchini Bread by twocarolines

I love all the sweet breads and muffins, but for me, none can trump my Mom’s Ultimate Zucchini Bread. The origins of this recipe are quite mysterious, my Mom got it from a neighbor who had a book of desserts for “Navy Wives” – and I guess everything she ever made from this book was incredible.  I follow my Mom’s recipe pretty closely, just switched out the vegetable oil for coconut oil, added another egg, and I substitute some brown sugar for white because I like the flavor with some of both.  It makes two loaves which is handy because people tend to eat it 3 slices at at time, but if you’re not in a house of hungry animals half the recipe or bring a loaf to your neighbor.  I’m guessing they will lay off the next time you need to have a loud backyard dance party if you feed them zucchini bread on the reg.  Plus, the smell this bread permeates your house with is absolutely BONKERS, it’s seriously one of the best smelling baked sweets this world has to offer.  Now hop to it!

1 cup coconut oil melted
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons (or up to 1 tablespoon) cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini (I grate it finely, but my Mom likes to grate it with the standard grater)
(optional) 1 cup chopped nuts – either pecans or walnuts (I omitted the nuts because my kids are insane, but it tastes awesome with them if you’re into that kind of thing)

  1. Preheat oven to 325.  Prepare two standard loaf pans with cooking spray (I line the bottom with a small rectangle of parchment just to be sure my loaves come out clean every time.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix your coconut oil and sugars for 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time making sure they are totally incorporated.  Mix in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together.  Add to the wet ingredients with your mixer on low until all incorporated.
  4. Add shredded zucchini mixing just until there are no dry spots and the zucchini is consistent throughout your batter.  If using add nuts last.
  5. Divide batter into your prepared loaf pans and bake for 65-70 minutes until nicely golden brown and a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.  Let rest in pans 5-10 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool, but get real, you’re going to want to eat this bread as soon as it doesn’t burn your hand!
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Ultimate Zucchini Bread by twocarolines

Recipe courtesy of CK2.0’s Mom’s neighbor and her book of desserts for Navy Wives

Caramelized Banana Coconut Chocolate Bread

You read that right – banana’s, coconuts, AND chocolate! When I see a recipe that combines all of the two Caroline’s very most favorite flavors I pretty much drop everything, turn on the oven and make that dessert with a quickness.  My sister 1.0 discovered this one and seriously, it did not disappoint.  I healthed it up slightly by adding some flax and wheat bran, but you can link to the original if you’d like.  I thought the few changes I made turned out incredible, it had such complexity of flavor with the unique caramelized bananas and the earthy sweetness that’s natural in whole grains like wheat bran and whole wheat flour then theres this melty chocolate and coconut giving you awesome texture and such a great flavor combo.  Yes, caramelizing the bananas is an extra step from regular old banana bread, but trust me, all that dark gooey goodness makes for an incredible loaf of sweet bread.

4 over-ripe bananas 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used the trader joes “white whole wheat” and it was fantastic)
1/4 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk (I used the almond coconut milk combo because that’s what I had around and it worked great)
2 tablespoons greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup coconut oil (you could sub with any vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 ounces chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup sweetned flake coconut (toast if you would like by putting in your hot oven for about 4-5 minutes until lightly brown)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes for the top

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you could also use a silpat but parchment is handy for getting all the delicious bits into your bread dough).  Peel the bananas and lay them flat on the baking sheet.   Drizzle each with honey and then sprinkle with cinnamon.  Roast them for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the bananas are very golden brown and caramelized.  Remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, mash the bananas and set aside.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan thoroughly with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, wheat bran, flax, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt, whisking thoroughly. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Add in coconut milk, yogurt (or sour cream) and coconut oil, whisking until combined. Stir in mashed bananas and vanilla until mixed. Slowly stir in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the chopped chocolate and toasted coconut. Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle with the remaining unsweetened coconut flakes.

  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until center is set. If the top begins to brown (mine did after about 45 minutes), you may want to tent the bread with aluminum foil.

  5. Remove and let cool a solid 20 minutes before cutting, if you can handle it, the smell is incredible and the taste will rock your world!  Keeps for 3-5 days covered.

Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Roasted Banana Bread

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

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brown sugar cinnamon pull-apart bread by twocarolines.com

I saw this beautiful pull apart bread a few months ago on King Arthur Flour who has an awesome blog with loads of great recipes and a really cute IG feed as well – I was certain to make it ASAP – as it turns out, it was truly weeks before I could get to that “P” in the ASAP.  The last 6 weeks have been non-stop for us!  I’m so glad I finally got down to my important baking business because this recipe was so much fun.  I doubled it and made a savory loaf and a sweet loaf, and there was even enough for a bonus loaf!  For the savory, I made an herbed butter compound by just chopping up fresh rosemary and adding some garlic salt, it was SO GOOD!! I will be making that again for sure.  For the sweet, I slathered a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon into my folded rounds and glazed it with my fave glaze from our famous Grandma Ruth’s Cinnamon Rolls – and there are easier icings out there, but there are NONE that compare with this one, it’s magically not too sweet and it hardens as it cools.  It was SUCH a treat, we loved it.  And there are so many ways you could make this bread – have fun with it!

Dough:

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pull-apart bread dough by twocarolines.com

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons potato flour (I didn’t have any, and they still worked out great, but I just bought some for next time)

Brown sugar butter filling:
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
(for an out of this world savory filling mix butter with a tablespoon or so chopped fresh rosemary and 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt)

Icing:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Warm your milk and pour it over your butter to melt it. Add the sugar and salt and let it cool slightly, then add your eggs, yeast, potato flour, and all-purpose flour – you want your dough to pull off the sides of your bowl, but not too dry, just workable.  You may need to add a little as you knead.
  2. Once you’ve mixed and kneaded your dough, let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size – this took me about an hour.  A good way to quickly check to see if your dough is ready is to press it with your finger. If the indentation remains without springing back, it’s ready to go.img_5329
  3. Roll your dough 1/2” thick. Using an English muffin ring, large biscuit cutter, or wide-mouth Mason jar lid, cut circles out of the dough.  Roll out your leftovers and get as many circles as you can out of your dough.
  4. To make the filling, just mix all the ingredients together until incorporated. Spread half of each circle generously with your filling then fold it and place it into your greased loaf pan.  I pushed them to one side then the other alternating to get more circles in, but stack them in however you like.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the loaf for 22 to 24 minutes. It should be golden brown all over. After 5 minutes or so turn your loaves out of the pans to cool on a rack.
  6. For the icing cook the evap milk, sugar, salt and flour until it starts to thicken, then add the butter vanilla and powdered sugar. You can sift the powdered sugar as you add it to avoid lumps, but I tend to just strain my icing after it’s done which is easier and it comes out beautifully lump free.  Drizzle onto your slightly cooled loaves.
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pull-apart sweet bread by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour pull-apart breads blog post

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by twocarolines.com

For this Muffin Monday I want to share our families number one favorite muffins.  These Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are hearty, like a muffin should be, always moist because 2 cups of zucchini, but they taste like dessert because CHOCOLATE! And your friends named Caroline are always game for a day that starts with chocolate.  This recipe makes 24 muffins, which is awesome because they freeze really well and we usually end up eating them for weeks.  I honestly make them ALL THE TIME, because my kids are terrible at breakfast without these lovely gems.  I wrap each one with plastic wrap then defrost them in the microwave, it’s also nice to take a little plate of them to a friend or neighbor, and if you put some frosting or melted chocolate on top they double as a cupcake!

1 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil of most any variety, or even butter if you want)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (you could use all white, but I’m healthing it up for you!)
(scant) 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two 12 count muffin tins with liners or grease them.
  2. In a large bowl beat the oil and sugars for a few minutes than add the eggs beating after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix well.
  3. These muffins work out for me even when I add the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, but if you want to be sure everything is mixed you can pre-mix the dry ingredients.  Add flours and on top of that put your cocoa then add the baking soda and baking powder, salt, and spices.  Mix all of that in adding your zucchini once the dry ingredients are incorporated then put in your chocolate chips and make sure it’s all combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling about 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.  Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.  Store loosely covered and whatever you don’t eat after the first day or two wrap individually with plastic wrap and freeze to eat for weeks.

 

Pumpkin Banana Pecan Muffins

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Pumpkin Banana Pecan Muffins by twocarolines.com

Over here in the King home we are fans of muffins.  The one we eat the very most often is my chocolate zucchini muffins because of the well established fact that we believe in chocolate for breakfast whenever possible.  Of course we also eat more bananas than a family of chimps, so I was excited to discover this new banana muffin recipe that uses all whole grain wheat and pumpkin.  I’m betting by late November my blood type will be pumpkin spice.  The banana pumpkin combo made for such a moist and delicious muffin, and I added some chocolate chips because of the aforementioned insistence on chocolate for breakfast.

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) soft butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
(scant) 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 1/2 to 8 ounces, 1/2 can) puréed pumpkin
1 cup (8 ounces) mashed banana, the riper the better
2 tablespoons orange juice or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup diced toasted pecans (optional obviously – I used the Trader Joes candied pecans)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup demerara coarse sugar for sprinkling

  1. Prepare 2 standard muffin tins using liners or baking spray and preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugars, eggs, pumpkin, banana, water (or OJ), and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and stir well to combine.  Next, if using, add the pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour 3/4 full into your prepared pan (you can also do this in a loaf but bake it for about 45-60 minutes paying closer attention to doneness than bake time).  Sprinkle tops of muffins with coarse demerara sugar and bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the top of your largest muffin.  Let cool a few minutes in the pan then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Pumpkin Banana Bread

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

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Nutella Swirl Banana Bread by twocarolines.com

We eat ridiculous amounts of Nutella in our home, and when I say “we” I mean my adorable 7 year old daughter who could sustain herself on nothing else if we let her – she’s the one on the left, she’s a very adorable Nutella addict, but an addict none the less.  IMG_2912.JPGI don’t make loads of Nutella recipes because it’s expensive stuff and I buy enough as it is, but this Nutella Swirl Banana Bread turned my head because, duh – bananas!  And I’ve seen a few versions of it, but I liked the way sweetest menu did the swirl on the top and put chocolate chips throughout.  It was a total dessert bread that was here and gone in a day, everyone loved it!  I’m sure you will too.  -CK 2.0

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large overripe bananas
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nutella

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, add the flour brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Whisk together to combine.
  2. Mash bananas with a fork or I use this Pampered Chef Mix and Masher every day and I love it.  Set bananas aside.  In a separate bowl, add the oil, egg, vanilla, and greek yogurt.  Whisk to combine.  Then, add your wet mixture, along with your mashed banana, into your dry mixture and gently fold to combine.  Add chocolate chips and fold in.
  3. Warm the Nutella in the microwave for 10-15 seconds then add 1/4 of the Nutella into your banana mixture.  Fold gently so you can keep your pretty swirls.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.   Add the rest of your Nutella on top and swirl it with a knife into a pretty pattern.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes then tent your bread with foil so it doesn’t burn on top.  Bake another 10-15 minutes until a knife in the center comes out clean (minus a bit of Nutella).  Remove from oven and leave to cool a solid 10 minutes before removing bread from the pan to cool on a rack completely.

Recipe adapted from Sweetest Menu Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Sour Cream Blueberry Bran Muffins

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Sour Cream Blueberry Bran Muffins

I’m such a bran fan, it’s a texture thing, probably the same thing that makes our blog so full of oats, coconuts, pecans and other such chewy crunchy delights.  These bran muffins are one of my faves, they don’t require blueberries, you could also add raisins, craisins, dates, other fresh berries, even chocolate!  Even if you add nothing, it’s a fantastic little muffin.  They will reliably turn out hearty, fiber full and delicious.  I prefer to eat them with only a pat of butter because the flavor is so amazing, but they are not a super sweet muffin, so some might like to serve with honey or jam.  The cool bran muffin bonus is loads of healthy fiber which has been proven to keep you full longer and has all sorts of those hard to find omega 3’s.  See?! Your friends named Caroline do care about your heart health and how you look in your jeans (at least today we do, tomorrow we will go back to fueling your love handles)   -CK 2.0

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup blueberries (or raisins, cranberries, or other diced dried fruit)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup wheat bran 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 12 count muffin tin.  I put cupcake liners and spray just a bit into the bottom of them.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and the brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, the sour cream or yogurt, and the molasses, and stir in the fruit.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, the salt, the cinnamon (optional) and the bran, add the mixture to the sour cream mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. (The batter will be lumpy.)
  4. Spoon the batter with a 1/3 cup into your prepared muffin tins and bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and springy to the touch. Turn the muffins out onto a rack and let them cool.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Sour Cream Bran Muffins