June 29, 2012

Fear of Baking (Chocolate chip-banana bread) | Botanical Gardens

How many successful cakes will it take to convince me that I can make a gluten-free cake and it will be good? I wish I knew the answer to that question so I could just calm down and bake a cake once in a while. Like the *chocolate chip-banana bread from The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, for example. It's supposed to be baked in a loaf pan but I, who used to be such an optimist, didn't believe it would really work, and I'd end up with a rectangular slab.

I baked it in a 10" springform pan because I was also sure it would stick and I'd never get it out of the pan. Well, duh. It didn't stick and it turned out just fine. Probably would have worked in the loaf pan, too.

But, here's the crazy thing — I'm still afraid to try again. Why, why, why can't I get past my fear of gluten-free baking?

*You can download the recipe for Chocolate Chip-Banana bread as well as other baked goods, at Laurie Sadowski's blog, Whisking and Writing. (The link is at the bottom of the page.) But really, I think you should buy her book.


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Exploring local gardens
We've been exploring some of the public gardens in and around Seattle because I'm very interested in doing some landscaping around our small property and I'm trying to learn more about plant environments in the Pacific Northwest. And also because they are beautiful places to walk!

First we visited the Seattle Japanese Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum. It was beautiful in every direction we looked.

All the critters were out for treats from the tourists — ducks, koi and turtles made a beeline for the bridge whenever humans approached the water. I tried to photograph an over-zealous duck but it kept getting too close to my camera lens and I couldn't focus!

The koi were overjoyed to see us but soon lost interest and dispersed when they realized all I had was the camera.

The second garden we visited was the much larger  Belleview Botanical Garden, and it was my favorite of the two — it's also free as opposed to $6 each for the Japanese Garden.



According to their Web page: "The Bellevue Botanical Garden is an urban refuge, encompassing 53-acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands. The living collections showcase plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest. Our demonstration of good garden design and horticulture techniques inspires visitors to create their own beautiful, healthy gardens."


I'd love to recreate some of the beauty we saw at the gardens. We'll definitely be heading back to Bellevue — there is at least one area we missed on our walk through, and I want to learn more about the plant species growing there. Next time I'll take a notebook.

27 comments:

  1. that bread looks outstanding!! yum!!! love the choc chips!

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    1. It was delicious. The chocolate chip topping is a favorite way of mine to get a fast decorative "icing" for cake.

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  2. the link to Whisking and Writing isn't working for me. :( Beautiful gardens! i've always wanted to visit the Japanese Gardens in Seattle. wish i lived closer.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know about the link. For some reason I had a terrible time making the link work and thought I'd finally succeeded, but I guess not. I re-linked it and it was working when I just tried it.

      The Japanese Garden was really nice, as was Bellevue. Bellevue also had a Japanese garden, but not as extensive as Seattle.

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  3. Haha, aww, ya gotta believe!! The cake looks great. I am not gluten-free but am still kind of curious about the methods of baking GF. It just seems like a bit of a waste to buy all those flours just for a lark.
    Beautiful shots of the botanical garden! I really love the one of the fish coming to greet you! We have a gorgeous one here too that I ought to take more advantage of. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I can do it I can do it. I know I can. I just don't believe it yet. The flours make me do it, cause just like you said, can't leave them sitting on a shelf!

      When I was taking the fish pictures my husband was saying, "too bad you can't get them to open their mouths for you." Ha. Little did he know ...

      Maybe I need a Japanese garden in my yard in which to ponder baking.

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  4. Bread looks just great!! And you made me miss that quintessential banana + chocolate combination. ;)

    I know it's bad form to flog one's own recipes in a comment, but seriously, try my Cinnamon Crumb Cake. It's easy, it's a light, fluffy cake, it's yummy and you will see that GF baking is totally doable--and no one will know it's GF!! :D

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    1. Thanks! The bread was really good. I love that you suggested a good recipe to try - I intend to try it when I get back to Seattle. Light and fluffy is just what I'm looking for.

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  5. Oh, and the gardens look stunning! How strange to see sun-infused pics in Seattle. . . (ha ha). :)

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    1. Actually, it wasn't sunny at all. It was overcast but not raining. Notice the white appearance of the sky. :)

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  6. What beautiful photos!! Hey, not only did I bake the banana bread in a loaf pan, and not only did it turn out great, but it was also much enjoyed by the folks here at home. I'm going to bring it to a July 4th potluck!

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    1. Thanks! It's a good recipe, isn't it? And I'll be back on July 3rd! Not only that, but Jordan and Alison are there already.

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  7. Those flowers are absolutely gorgeous!

    Gluten-free baking. Sigh. Can you give me any recommendations? I know I probably have a bunch of it in my future. But it seems to be like the quest for vegan meringue - just not quite possible.. yet?

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    1. Well, Matthew, last year at Vida Vegan Con, Hannah Kaminsky (BitterSweet blog) taught us how to make vegan meringue, and I think it might be in one of her cookbooks. It tasted just like meringue, or at least I think it did. Never say never.

      So far I like the Allergy Free Cook Bakes Bread. But Ricki (Diet Dessert and Dogs) left a recommendation in the comments for a fluffy GF cake.

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  8. What a great cake and inspirational gardens.

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    1. Thank you. I intend to visit the gardens a lot!

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  9. I felt exactly the same when I started vegan baking. One day you will feel more comfortable. The bread looks amazing. And so many lilies! They are my favourite flowers.

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    1. Vegan baking seemed a lot easier — at least it used normal flour! I feel like a mad scientist mixing up potions.

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  10. I totally understand that anxiety over failed baked goods -- after all these years I still sometimes get very frustrated about recipes that I've put time and effort into that don't turn out to my standards. If cake is your hang-up, you might be able to reassure yourself by saying you'll make cake pops in the unlikely event that the cake doesn't turn out. Lemons to lemonade, you know!

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    1. Cake crumbs might be more like it. :D GF baking is so weird and unpredictable, though since the first two failures, it's been going pretty well. Except for my attitude.

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  11. What beautiful gardens! Spending time in the peaceful outdoors is a lovely way to spend a day. I hope you're able to cultivate something special in your landscaping!

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    1. Yes, I really want to have peaceful, escape gardens around our house, though they will be very small peaceful escape gardens. :)

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  12. I'm just the same way but with regular ol' baking, even after everything came out fine. I guess it just takes time to get comfortable and not worry so much about it. :-) Beautiful gardens!

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    1. Ah, someone who understands! Maybe I have to go on a baking blitz and bake so many successes that there's no way I can doubt my results ever again.

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  13. Wow--those gardens are gorgeous!

    Courtney

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  14. Koi are more photogenic than they think. They can be very coy around cameras. They have a distorted image of themselves. Look how beautiful they are, and the gardens whoa. yes, a baking blitz! I like that cake very much.

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    1. They seem pretty conceited and pushy to me, each one jockeying for the best camera angle. But it's understandable, considering their beauty.

      The cake was surprisingly good — more experimenting needed with GF baking — bake, bake, bake!

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