Oct 17, 2010

Many-Splendored Quick Bread--Baking with Hanaâ and Woody

Like me, Hanaâ and Woody both live in the hinterlands of Minnesota. (If you doubt that it's the hinterlands, ask yourself if you live in a place where one of the biggest political powers is the Greater Metropolitan Mosquito Control District).
A few months ago, Hanaâ e-mailed me with the suggestion that we get together to bake a HCB weekly selection. That seemed like an excellent idea, and Woody signed up to critique, supervise, help. We settled on the next cake from the Quick and Easy List: the Many-Splendored Quick Bread, scheduled for October 18. I wanted Hanaâ to think I was super-organized, so I had everything ready to go by 12:45.
My walnuts were toasted, my frozen bananas were thawed (and liquified), and my zucchini and carrots were grated. Hanaâ arrived at 1:00 on the dot (seriously--not at 12:59 or at 1:01). Woody was late. He had some lame excuse about having to bake a cake.
Oh! Not only did Hanaâ arrive right on time, but she also brought a present--her Minnesota State Fair Prize-Winning Lemon Cake!
More about that later.
I did one regular-sized loaf pan, and Hanaâ did three mini-pans. I made the recipe exactly as is, and Hanaâ omitted the walnuts. (She's violently allergic to nuts, so I told her it was okay to skip them. Nice of me).
Other than that, our cake/breads were exactly alike and ready to go into the oven at the same time.
And here comes Woody! He has a new gadget with him, made by the inventor of the Beater Blade. It's a lemon-shaped lemon zester that holds the zest inside the lemon. It's awesome. Hanaâ and I were mighty impressed.
And he also brought along gold stickers for us. No, not because we were good (I didn't say gold stars). Gold stickers to affix to our copies of Heavenly Cakes!
And he also brought us a new cake from Rose's cookbook in-the-making. But the cake is Top Secret, so I can't even show you a piece. The Baking CIA altered the photos so no identifying marksk are visible.
But both cakes--Hanaâ's Prize Winner and Woody's Top Secret--were excellent. And then, after trying both of these cakes, of course we had to sample the Many-Splendored Quick Bread--both Hanaâ's version and mine. Hanaa could try only her own because she didn't think it would be a good idea for her to eat the one with nuts. She'll show you her version on her own blog, but here's a picture of one of her little minis right out of the oven.
And about 15 minutes later--because it was a lot bigger--mine came out of the oven.
They both looked very handsome. The loaves didn't look that much different from the outside, but I was surprised at how much difference there was between them when we sliced and sampled them.
The inside of Hanaâ's loaf is more golden than mine, which was considerably darker, both because of the walnuts and the fact that my banana was darker than hers (she had cleverly mixed hers with lemon juice to keep it banana-y looking). Her version tasted more like banana bread than mine, where the walnuts added another dimension of flavor.
Both were very good, and very different from anything else in the book: simple, moist, and not at all shocking to anyone's cardiologist. It's more bread than cake, but if you baked it in a bundt pan and poured a glaze over it, I'm guessing that no one would argue with you if you called it a cake. Probably no one would argue with you about anything if you offered them a piece of this Many-Splendored Thing, no matter what you called it.

Jim: "It's very good. I like the crunchiness of the nuts, and the banana flavor that's subtle, not excessive."
Woody: "It's the healthiest cake in the book--a complete meal in a cake."
Hanaâ: "I didn't really taste the carrots or zucchini. I like how moist it is--moist without being wet."


faithy said...

Looks like all 3 of you had so much fun! I'm so envious! I wish i can join in the fun and bake with you guys too! Your bread looks wonderful and quite unlike mine. LOL!

Monica said...

What fun.. I would love, LOVE to do this with one of the bakers.. but you guys, I think I'm the only one that leaves so far east.. booo hooo.

But, like I told Hanaa, Tom has family in MD... so I can only dream. Actually I can tell him to take me there... and then do a major detour. How about that?

Both of the breads look so cute. And, that lemon cake seriously looks yum-O!

I'm sure we will find out about the top-secret cake eventually... nice to know there is a secret in there.

Hanaâ said...

Thanks for allowing me to omit the walnuts and for not making me try a slice of your cake, Marie! Ha ha.
I had a great time baking, chatting, and eating (lots of) cake. I also enjoyed meeting Jim and Woody. Both are very sweet guys! As for this bread, it's definitely going on the repeat list, with a couple tweaks (spices and/or almonds). Looking forward to baking together again some time!

Lois B said...

Looks like fun, and I'm so curious about the secret cake!

Hanaâ said...

Btw, I just added more pictures of our bake-event on my blog :o)

evil cake lady said...

i LOVE the photo of you two ladies gasping in (feigned) excitement over woody's lemon zester! hilarious.

hanaa, your lemon cake looks lovely!

oh! i just realised the white blobs aren't scoops of vanilla ice cream, but the top-secret cake! nicely done, baking CIA.

Katya said...

hah. I also thought absently that the redacted cakes were whipped cream. so much for my sleuthing skills.

Marie said...

We did have fun!
P.S. You don't have to peel or seed the zucchini.

Hanaa and I probably would never have gotten together if we didn't live so close. Just serendipity. But it was great fun--next time, we want to just bake one cake together.

Jim and Woody are both very sweet. I have to admit I'm a little partial to Jim.

ECL and Katya,
The Baking CIA does not want to make sleuthing too easy.

jini said...

partiality to jim may win more points marie! lol
it sounds like the official bake off was great fun and a great success as well.
it was fun to meet hanaâ last week and be able to put face and name together.

Andrea said...

It looks like y'all had a great time! Too bad we can't all get together sometime. BTW, I also thought the secret cake was whipped cream at first glance.

Jenn said...

Great post Marie. And so happy you guys got together. I wish I could do that too!

And I also love the picture of you and Hanaa gasping over Woody's new tool.

Hanaâ said...

@Jini: it was very nice to meet you too! Are you attending tomorrow's book signing event with Chris Kimball?

Hanaâ said...

Looks like my loaf was the lightest of the bunch, even compared to those of you that used fresh bananas (instead of frozen/thawed bananas). I'm thinking that my little trick of mixing lemon juice with bananas to keep them from becoming brown continues to work, even during baking. If I had to guess, I'd say, the acidity of that little bit of lemon juice increased the pH of my batter which must have reacted with the leavening too.

Maybe Rose can help us understand how the pH value of a batter affects the baked product.

Having said that, I'm keeping my little "lemon juice" trick :o)

Marie said...

I think the next book may even outdo this one.

Well, you can always use a few points with your husband.

It's so amazing that we're from all over the world, and we can get together to bake these cakes. Too bad the "all over the world" part makes it impossible for all of us to get together.
Oprah, where are you when we need you?

I hope we weren't supposed to white out the lemon zester too.

You are such a scientist!

Hanaâ said...

Correction: increased acidity in the batter means a *decreased* pH level. I got it wrong earlier (I'm not a very good scientist, Marie!) :o)

Mendy said...


Really fun that you baked together!

Where can we get a gold award stamp? ;)

Vicki said...

What fun!

Sarah the Bear said...

That is so cool you had a meetup! Anyone wanna get together in SoCal?

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

I'm feeling quite jealous that I moved away from the Twin Cities :(, but it's so very nice to see you three baking together.


Nicola said...


That's how the all the girls react when Woody shows off his lemon zester.

I am thinking the mystery cake must have lemon zest in it?

Great photos Jim.

Marie said...

I think you might have to live in Minnesota. Seriously, Woody had just a couple of them, and I don't know if there are any others.

Yes, it was.

Ask me again in February.

Come back!

You are right that Woody picks up a lot of girls with his lemon zester.
But you are wrong about the lemon zest in the mystery cakew.

jkcurtis said...

Getting together looks like great fun! I was so excited (and amazed) when I first started because it looked like another baker lived not too far from me but I think she must have dropped out. Its exciting to hear about a new book in the works -- now we won't run out of things to bake.

lola said...

How great that you could bake together. Your photos and descriptions made me feel as if I were there. The results look yummy. If anyone is escaping the cold this winter and coming down to Puerto Vallarta Mexico, let me know and we could bake together at my casa. Such a fun post. Thanks!

lola said...

How great that you could bake together. Your photos and descriptions made me feel as if I were there. The results look yummy. If anyone is escaping the cold this winter and coming down to Puerto Vallarta Mexico, let me know and we could bake together at my casa. Such a fun post. Thanks!