The Boastful Baker

because every cook praises her own broth

January 29, 2014
by Melissa
1 Comment

Dinner is cancelled.

I planned to make a batch of carbonara for dinner tonight, but we accidentally devoured half a loaf of this bread the instant it came out of the oven. There’s not really a need for dinner after you eat half a loaf of bread.

As I always ask myself when I’m eating freshly baked bread, why don’t I bake bread more often? It doesn’t take much hands-on time and it’s so, so delicious.

This particular bread is one that I’ve made many times before. The base recipe for Classic White Bread was published in Martha Stewart Living a number of years ago, but this version of it contains a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour as well as oatmeal. If you take a look at the linked recipe for two loaves of bread, you’ll see that it calls for seven cups of all-purpose flour, I use one cup of whole wheat flour, one cup of oatmeal and five cups of all-purpose flour. Other than that, I follow the recipe to the letter.

January 11, 2014
by Melissa


I don’t think I remember the last time I made deviled eggs. I can’t really be trusted with them, so I don’t make them unless I’ve got a reason. Some of Joel’s family visited today, including a cousin who is obsessed with deviled eggs. So making her happy was my reason.

For the curious, I make deviled eggs the same way my mom does. The recipe isn’t unique, but I think they’re really good and rarely like other people’s deviled eggs as much as I like these. The filling is a mix of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sweet pickle relish (canned by me last summer) and a touch of black pepper. I’ve never measured the amounts that I use of each ingredient, I just add a dollop of each and adjust the filling until it tastes right.

January 8, 2014
by Melissa

A dinner experiment

I tried something new to me for dinner tonight: fish and veggies baked in parchment paper. Really the idea isn’t new to me, just the making it myself at home part. I worked in a seafood restaurant for many, many years and they served a dish like this the entire time that I worked there. In my opinion, it was one of the worst dishes they served, so I kind of hated the concept of fish in parchment for a long time. But it’s been 5 years since I quit that job and I’ve finally recovered enough to make it myself.

Tonight’s contents were somewhat randomly chosen based on what I had on hand: catfish seasoned with Cajun blackening spices and garlic, sauteed onions, thick potato slices and green beans. I drizzled the whole lot with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, wrapped it all up in the sheet of parchment paper and tossed it in the oven.

Whoa, it’s been nearly a year since I last posted anything here. I’ve got plans to do better in 2014. I’m participating in a group blog/photo project with a bunch of friends. It’s called Few and Far Project and we aim to each post daily photos in 2014. Blogging there for the last week has made me think a bit about changing my approach to blogging here. Since I’ll be taking lots of pictures anyway and since a lot of them will involve food, I plan to cross post images here when the mood strikes me. I’m going to let go of my need to write paragraphs of text for every blog post. Some days it will be just a picture or a few sentences. I’d rather say a little less if it means being present on this site again.

March 2, 2013
by Melissa

Selfless baking (and a banana cake recipe)

Banana Bread Bundt Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze

I like to share the things I bake with others (by and large, “others” refers to my husband), but I must admit that when I choose what to bake, I almost always choose things that I like. It’s kind of dictatorial. A good example of this is my frequent use of coconut, even though I know a LOT of people vehemently do not like coconut.

Adding the Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze

On the other side of this, there are lots of foods I don’t like and I pretty much never make them. And since my husband is the primary person I share my kitchen creations with, he doesn’t get to eat some things he loves very often. In the non-baked goods department, I deprive him of items like scallops, brie and avocados, just to name a few. In the baked goods department, he doesn’t get to enjoy things made with bananas because I hate bananas and will not eat anything containing them.

But a few weeks ago I made this Banana Bread Bundt Cake for my husband even though I knew I wouldn’t eat a single bite of it.

His good fortune is due  to the review copy of Breakfast for Dinner I recently received. This new cookbook by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth  (of the blog Love and Olive Oil) focuses on the joy of eating breakfast-type foods at dinner time. Some of the recipes are very clearly foods that you normally eat for breakfast adapted for dinner. Other recipes are a little more of a stretch as they use just one or two ingredients that are typically found at the breakfast table. This Banana Bread Bundt Cake recipes falls under that category. Bananas are a breakfast staple for many people (including my husband) but you’re not likely to see someone eating this cake at breakfast since it’s full of chocolate chips and covered in a rich chocolate peanut butter glaze.

Photo Courtesy of Quirk Books

When I received the cookbook, my husband flipped through it at the table one night and zoned in on a few recipes that he’d like me to make. His first choice of the bunch was this cake. Fortunately for him, he found this recipe at a time when I was trying to eat less dessert myself and was willing to actually make something I wouldn’t eat. Opportunistic of him, huh?

The recipe for the cake is well written and easy to follow, very approachable for someone who may not bake a lot. The cookbook itself is full of gorgeous photos and loads of recipes that I can’t wait to try. It’s a good mix of sweet and savory dishes. Many of these rely on breakfast favorites like bacon and eggs, but others riff on the breakfast theme a bit more subtly with their use of foods like espresso, biscuits, grits or maple syrup. This is without question a cookbook I’ll use again, possibly starting with the Chocolate Brownie Waffles pictured below (which I will selfishly make for my personal enjoyment).

Photo Courtesy of Quirk Books

If you hate bananas and would like to bake a Banana Bread Bundt Cake to selflessly share with someone dear to you, the recipe is below. Or if you love bananas and want it all for yourself, enjoy it! My husband liked the cake a lot, in part because he got it all to himself. I should note that I did try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze (because I am not opposed to anything containing chocolate and peanut butter) and it was amazing! I’m trying to think of another dessert that would go well with it. Or maybe I’ll just make a small batch of it to eat over ice cream.

Banana Bread Bundt Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze

Chocolate Peanut Butter Glazed Banana Bread Bundt Cake

Recipe from Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth, recipe posted with permission from Quirk Books



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 very ripe banana, mashed (about 1 1/4 cups mashed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  • 3 ounces (1/2 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) Bundt pan, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
  2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter on medium speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix in mashed banana and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with two additions of milk, mixing until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack to cool. When pan is cool enough to handle, invert pan over wire rack; cake should come out cleanly.
  5. To prepare glaze, warm chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Add peanut butter and stir until smooth. Let cool until glaze has thickened slightly (it should be pourable but not runny), then pour over cake. Refrigerate glazed cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days until ready to serve.

October 3, 2012
by Melissa

Enchanted by apples (and by Charlottesville).

It’s been nearly a year since we decided to move to Charlottesville and I can safely say that I’m very pleased with our decision. Every single thing that I thought I would love about this town is true. With each week that passes I become a little more enchanted by the area in and around Charlottesville. The town has a lot of character,  there are great restaurants everywhere, the nearby mountains are gorgeous and I love our new home. The traffic is nearly the only thing I don’t like about this place!

The arrival of fall has made me even happier about our move. September brought cooler temperatures and less humidity than Williamsburg (our old town) usually had. The weather in the last month, with the exception of occasional rain, has been downright glorious.

And the arrival of fall also signaled the arrival of apple season in Charlottesville.  I’ve already made two trips to a very nearby orchard with a lovely view of the city and the mountains. I don’t know that I’d ever been to an apple orchard before, but I’m kind of in love with them right now. This one, Carter Mountain Orchard, is only about a 15 minute drive from our home in downtown Charlottesville and the view from the orchard is out of this world. Picking apples on a nice autumn day is definitely happy making, especially when you treat yourself to an apple cider doughnut or two while you’re there!

My second trip to the orchard took place on a beautiful weekday, so I brought along the camera to snap some pictures.

Because this is a food blog, you’re probably wondering what I did with the apples I picked at the orchard. I made a couple of apple walnut spice cakes, an apple pie and 19 pints of canned applesauce. I’m heading back to the orchard again this weekend as I’ve agreed to make a couple of apple pies for other people next week.

Apple signage

Getting close to the apples!

Lots of apples on this tree

Looking up at the apples and the sky

In the orchard

In the orchard

Jonagold apple

Jonagold apple on the tree



Apple trees with a view

Apple tree with a view


So many apples

Ladder to the sky

Ladder to the sky?

Apple cider doughnut

A trip to an apple orchard isn’t complete without an apple cider doughnut!

The apple barn

The Apple Barn

Bad apples.

Bad apples.

Apple barn

More of the Apple Barn

View from Carter Mountain, with bird

View from Carter Mountain, with bonus bird!

Charlottesville in the distance

Charlottesville, as viewed from Carter Mountain