So… WE, the humble staff, have been graced with the opportunity to host Bread Baking Day #23, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ve even come up with a theme, one for which I can guarantee that no one from the lowliest home bread baker, to the greatest of all time, has ever made before… bold statement, I know, but ever so true.

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[There’s a hole in this cake]

This week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie is Classic Banana Bundt Cake. A great pick by Mary of The Food Librarian. You can find the recipe on Mary’s blog or on page 190 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

I really enjoyed this cake. It’s nothing dramatically out of this world unbelievable, but it is a solid, easy to make cake, which is something that everyone needs a few of in their repertoire. It is a great dessert to bring to a party or give away as a gift or a welcome to the neighborhood type of thing. And it will feed an army!

I made this cake with my sister while I was visiting my family in NY over the weekend. Finally, some people to share my baked goods with! We enjoyed this cake on Saturday night after a yummy dinner of burgers on the grill with my homemade rolls. Nick made his famous hamburgers as well as the Triple S burger which my dad had just seen in the newspaper. It was a burger of freshly ground short ribs, sirloin, and skirt steak. Do I really need to tell you all that it was delicious?

Anyway, back to the cake. My cake came out moist and delicious and surprisingly the banana flavor was not overwhelming. It was a hit with the whole family. I think a handful of chocolate chips would be fabulous in this cake, and I am sure that some of my fellow bakers did just that.

Even though I tented it after a 1/2 hour, it still got a bit browner than I would have liked. Fear not though, because it’s ugliness was covered up quite nicely with a lemon vanilla glaze.

In an effort to lighten this up a bit, I subbed one of the sticks of butter for 1/4 cup of canola oil, and I used fat free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I suppose it may have been even tastier if I had made it as written, but really, this cake was so good the way I made it do I really need all that extra fat? I don’t think so.

This was yummy in my tummy with a nice cup of coffee and the company of my mom and sister. :)

There may have been a well of glaze in the middle of the cake that flowed out after I cut the first piece, and we may have spooned generous amounts of that glaze all over our cake. We may have.

Full recipe after the jump

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Bruschetta has been around for a long time, like 15th century long time. It originated, of course, somewhere in central Italy. The word bruschetta is derived from the word brucare which is of Roman dialect and means “to roast over the coals". (Thanks Wikipedia). I think a lot of people assume that bruschetta refers to the delicious topping on this Italian snack, but it in fact refers to the grilled bread.

It seems to me that the most traditional type of bruschetta is topped with a raw tomato and basil combination. Since Nick and I both do not like raw tomatoes this is not something that we would normally eat. However, since bruschetta was July’s Recipe to Rival challenge, and it is easy and inexpensive to make, I figured we may as well try this recipe out.

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This is yet another quality recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhardt. When I saw that our friend Stefanie at Hefe und mehr chose Sweet Breads as this months Bread Baking Day, I knew this was what I was going to make. The title of the recipe is pretty self explanatory. I believe that Reinhardt’s version also calls for walnuts, but I decided to leave them out this time.

This was my first attempt at a loaf bread and overall it was a success. As you would expect, it smelled amazing as it was baking - so comforting and homey. Nick and I made it together on a Sunday afternoon and it was the perfect way to end a nice relaxing weekend at home.

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This week’s Craving Ellie in my Belly was a cobb salad and was chosen by Gabi over at The Feast Within.

As a rule, I don’t really like salads unless they are terrible for you. Case in point: my favorite salad is Caesar salad, and I also used to love the BBQ steak salad at J. Paul’s. However, I actually really like cobb salad and used to eat it all the time at this place called Chadwick’s (also in Georgetown).

So I was happy to try out Ellie’s lightened up version over the weekend. Nick was out of town, so I was on my own and decided to make this as a nice light lunch. I picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store instead of baking up some breasts. I also left out the blue cheese (YUCK!), and the tomatoes (ALSO YUCK!), and the hard boiled egg (YUM, but I was being lazy). So I figured since I was leaving out the cheese and the egg, I could substitute the ham for a couple slices of bacon. And can you believe that Whole Foods was out of romaine hearts by 11AM on Saturday morning! I ended up buying a bagged romaine mix, which was not nearly as good as some regular romaine hearts. So I suppose this wasn’t exactly a cobb salad, but it was a delicious salad. The dressing was also pretty good even though it was a 1:1 ratio of oil to acid as opposed to the standard 2:1 ratio.

I fully enjoyed this and I think I will make it again when I can get some good romaine and put in the time to hard boil the egg and serve it more like a cobb salad should be served. I was being lazy and just threw everything in a bowl and tossed it. Hence why my picture just looks like a bowl of lettuce. Though I assure you there is other good stuff in there that wound up in my belly. I have no doubt that my fellow Craving Ellie ladies did a much better job actually following the recipe and serving this in a much more attractive way.

These are basically fresh baked cheez-it crackers in a straw shape, which is a-ok with me. Crispy, cheesy and buttery. The trifecta of deliciousness.

They would make a great party appetizer, but I had no party to bring them to. I made these for basically no good reason except that I saw them on Smitten Kitchen and really wanted to try them.

And I am sure glad I did because they are awesome, and really easy to make. The dough is softened butter, cheese, flour, cream/milk, salt, and red pepper flakes. Food process it up, roll out the dough and cut in strips. The whole deal takes no more than a half an hour. They bake up quickly too, about 15-20 minutes.

I was worried at first when I was making these because the raw dough was not very tasty, and they had a mildly unpleasant smell when they were baking. I am not sure why, maybe it was just all that sharp cheese and butter cooking together. One would think that would smell like heaven, but not really. However, when they came out of the oven I tried one immediately, and there was nothing to worry about.

You could make all kinds of variations of these cheese straws. I would love to try different cheeses paired with different fresh herbs or dried spices.

Recipe follows…

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