Summer Berry and Challah Bread Pudding

Berry Bread PuddingSummer is finally here!!  Which makes me happy for two very specific reasons.  One, because Summer is by far my favorite season.  I love the long, hot, sunny days and the hiking and the camping and the being able to run in shorts and a tank top……it really doesn’t get much better than Summer.  The other reason I’m so happy is because it means the Farmer’s Market is starting soon and by soon, I mean in five days.  It’s crazy to think that it’s finally here and I can FINALLY start selling everything I’ve been working so hard on for the past four months.

As you can imagine, the past couple weeks have been a wee bit busy for me with finalizing details and some super last minute recipe testing.  There are still a few things that need to be ironed out, but for the most part everything is pretty much done.  Now comes the baking, and selling, and getting word out about The Earnest Baker……so I guess this is kind of just the beginning in a weird sort of way.  On that note, this week’s post is going to be short and sweet (like I mentioned before, only five more days until I’m officially open).  Since Summer is here and I’ve been eating an insane amount of berries lately, I wanted to share my favorite summertime dessert with you guys – Summer Berry and Challah Bread Pudding.

Now you might think bread pudding doesn’t exactly sound like a typical summer dessert, but this Summer Berry and Challah Bread Pudding is the perfect summertime treat.  It takes advantage of all the gorgeous, fresh berries that are finally in season and really highlights and enhances the flavor of the fruit.  The soft, rich Challah and the lightly sweetened custard base are a wonderful balance to the tartness of the berries.  This dessert is a staple in my house during the summer and I hope it will become one in your house as well.  Sometimes I even eat the bread pudding for breakfast…….I mean it has bread and fruit sooooo that’s kind of breakfastey….right??

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Banana Bran Muffins

Bran Muffins

No matter how long you’ve been baking or how much experience you have in the kitchen, you are bound to have a mishap every once in a while.  You might get distracted and forget to add in an ingredient or you might leave something in the oven too long or maybe (and this is my usual mistake) you forget to buy a key ingredient when you’re at the grocery store.  Most of the time, these mistakes result in a ruined baked good or a last minute dash to the store.  Sometimes though, these mistakes turn out to be a happy accident and the resulting product is magical.  The story of ganache is a perfect example of this.  Legend has it that a pastry apprentice accidentally spilled cream into a bowl of chocolate.  Instead of throwing the chocolate out, he stirred it together with the cream and it turned into a beautiful thick chocolate sauce.  The result of his mistake was the indispensable pastry staple we all know and love today – ganache (which funnily enough translates to “fool” in French and is supposedly what the chef called his apprentice after his mishap!).

A couple weeks ago, I made what I like to call a “fortunate mistake.”  I was making a batch of my favorite Cranberry Walnut Muffins and, as is typical of me, realized I forgot to buy buttermilk.  It was early in the morning and I was hungry, so I really didn’t want to go to the store.  Instead, I decided to root around my fridge to see what I had that I could substitute for buttermilk.  I didn’t have any milk, so making my own buttermilk was out of the question. What I did have was a lonely little container of Fage Greek Yogurt, staring at me and begging to be used.  It was my only option and like I said, I was really hungry, so I decided to give it a shot.

Greek yogurt is obviously very different than buttermilk, so I knew I was going to have make some changes to my recipe.  This kind of yogurt has a lot of protein (20 grams per cup!), which is awesome when you’re eating it on its own…….but not so awesome when you’re trying to make a tender muffin.  To keep the batter from getting tough, I knew I needed to add another source of moisture in to the recipe.  I did the usual scan of my kitchen and stopped when I noticed a sad, single, ripe banana that was just pleading to be made into something delicious.  So I went ahead and mashed up the banana and threw it in the recipe.  At this point, I had made so many changes that I thought one more couldn’t hurt and decided to swap out the oat bran for flaxseed meal……cause who doesn’t love their Omega 3’s??

I had absolutely no idea if these muffins were going to turn out.  Part of me thought I would end up with tough, rubbery banana flavored hockey pucks.  Luckily for me though, the Baking gods aligned and the muffins came out perfect.  They were moist and tender with the just the right balance of banana flavor.  I actually liked them so much that they’ve become my new weekday breakfast staple.  It’s rare for mistakes like this to turn out so well and even rarer to substitute a bunch of ingredients in a recipe and have it work out so perfectly!  But when it does, I feel obligated to share the love and so I present to you the recipe for my new favorite muffins.  I hope they make you as happy as they make me!

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Cinco de Mayo Margaritas and Guacamole


Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays.  I always look forward to celebrating it, mostly because I love any excuse to drink Margaritas and eat Mexican food.  And let’s be honest, it’s hard not to have a good time when you’re drinking a Margarita.  Now I might get some flak from the Irish side of my family for saying this, but……….I actually like Cinco de Mayo more than St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s true!  It’s probably because I love me some spicy Mexican food and I’m also one of the random people who actually enjoy drinking tequila – so it’s almost like this holiday was made for me.

My recipe for the perfect Cinco de Mayo includes two things.  The first is a good, strong, homemade Margarita, because let’s face it – it’s not Cinco de Mayo if you don’t drink at least one Margarita.  My other Cinco de Mayo essential is a big bowl of guacamole and tortilla chips.  I seriously cannot get enough guacamole…’s a little bit of a problem.  I could probably take down a whole bowl by myself.  Whenever I make it, I end up having to restrain myself and remember to save room for my actual meal.  It doesn’t always work out though.

Like any true Cinco de Mayo enthusiast, I pride myself on making a killer Margarita.  The recipe I use is crazy delicious and a wee bit dangerous……okay a lot bit dangerous if you don’t watch yourself.  I usually warn people before they drink them (they tend to go down easy).  What makes these Margaritas so great is that the recipe is really simple with only a few ingredients.  Just a lot of freshly squeezed lime juice, a little lemon juice, and some tequila and Triple Sec.  That’s it.  Now, I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret.  The surprising source behind my go-to Margarita recipe is none other than Ina Garten……..seriously.  Who knew Barefoot Contessa had it in her?  Turns out the same woman who shows us how to throw lovely outdoor brunches can also make a mean margarita.  I did changer her recipe slightly, but it is still hands-down the best recipe I’ve ever come across.  If you try it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

When it comes to guacamole, I don’t follow an exact recipe.  Guacamole is one of those foods that people seem to have strong opinions about.  Everyone likes it a different way.  Some people are purists and don’t like to add in too much besides a little seasoning.  Other people love to jazz it up with all sorts of mix-ins like diced tomatoes or even cheese.  I fall somewhere in between the two.  I don’t like to add in too much to my guacamole, but I do like it to have a little heat.  My standard guac usually includes avocadoes, diced Jalapeño pepper, chopped shallot, a tiny bit of lime juice, salt, and cilantro (if I remember to buy it!).  The proportions are always different and I add in everything to taste.  If you like your guacamole fairly simple, but with a little bit of a kick this is a great version to try.

Well now you know my favorite way to spend Cinco de Mayo.  I hope you guys have an awesome day and enjoy some good old fashioned Mexican themed fun!

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