We're going back to our comforts in the kitchen right now. There's nothing like revisiting classic baked goods to make you feel like you've reconquered the basics, and there's no better time to do so than Easter weekend. Even if your normal crew is smaller than normal this year, you should still take a moment to pause and bake yourself a little happy.
Salon Food's resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry of Buttercream Blondie, curated a list of three easy berry bakes that you can make for Easter weekend . . . or just because, if you don't celebrate. From a banana bread, to a crumb cake and finally a quick loaf, each is the baker's equivalent of comfort food.
"Whether you bought a bunch of bananas that have definitely seen better days or you're just looking for something that's easy to put together, these comfort bakes are the recipes we're all reaching for this year," McGarry says of her inspiration.
Fresh or frozen, it's easy to mix and match between blueberries, raspberries or strawberries for these three bakes. Each recipe is made using ingredients you likely already have on hand in your pantry. In cases where you may be missing a less common ingredient or two, the pastry chef offers simple workarounds.
"Each of these recipes is good if you want to do a little something special for breakfast or brunch, and they're also perfect if you want an extra snack," McGarry says. "Either way, it's a small way to treat yourself at home."
Strawberries are coming into season, and roasting strawberries is one simple way to highlight the full flavor of this fruit. Because they're roasted, the strawberries turn into pockets of sweet vanilla bean fruity jam type goodness as they bake into the banana bread. There are few flavor pairings as classic as strawberries and bananas.
If you prefer a lighter banana bread, you can swap out the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt. McGarry recommends adding a tablespoon of bourbon to add an extra depth of flavor. You can use a dark spiced rum or an orange-flavored liquor if you've already polished off the bottle. If you're baking for the kids or don't drink, you can also skip this step.
If you don't have any strawberries on hand or just don't feel like taking an extra few minutes to roast them today, you can leave them out. The base of this recipe is McGarry's classic banana bread, and it's perfect with only bananas. If you're not feeling fruity or you're trying to please someone with a sweet tooth, try tossing in a cup of chocolate chips instead. No matter which way you go, this banana bread is always a win.
This recipe provides a plentiful amount of crumb, which is the key to executing a successful crumb cake. The secret ingredient in this crumb is creme fraiche, which keeps the cake fresh and light at the same time. This is another one of those recipes that's super adaptable, because you can swap the creme fraiche out with sour cream if you don't have any in the fridge.
"I love using raspberries in this, because the tartness really brightens up the crumb. It says, 'Welcome to spring.' But you can also use blueberries, too," the pastry chef adds. "Either fresh or frozen berries work for this recipe."
This loaf is super adaptable, and not only in terms of ingredients. It's a multi-functional crowd pleaser that's great for breakfast with a cup of coffee, in the afternoon with tea or as a snack all on its own.
Citrus is a great way to add flavor to loaves, and the zest from the lemon packs a special punch in the flavor department. This particular recipe is powered by lemons, but you can use any citrus you have on hand. Blood oranges or limes work well, too. If you don't have citrus in your fruit bowl? Just eliminate it.
McGarry adds fresh blueberries to this loaf, but you can also sub any frozen berries, in particular blueberries or raspberries. So if you stocked up on frozen fruit, you're in luck. For a pop of citrus-y flavor, McGarry finishes her loaf with Grand Marnier glaze. You can substitute any orange liqueur, or opt out, too.
Don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to bake through it.