Baking and Birdwatching

IMG_2010Hi–I’ve been baking and birdwatching–in other words, the usual! I’ve found a great recipe for a Chocolate-Hazelnut Swirl Bread that I’d like to share. It’s a variation on a common sour cream coffee cake recipe, but adding the hazelnuts and milk chocolate  chips makes it especially delish. It’s moist and buttery and easy to make, but it looks like you found it at a fancy bakeshop. This is another recipe to bookmark for the holidays!


Chocolate-Hazelnut Swirl Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 5″ loaf pan by greasing with shortening, or by using parchment paper (grease pan, cut parchment paper to fit and smooth into pan, grease lightly again). Prepare the TOPPING and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the topping, and top with remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining topping. Bake for about 60 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing and slicing.

Baking notes: I recommend baking this in a light-colored metal loaf pan. There are a lot of pans out there that may be more decorative, including ceramic and stoneware, but they are best for bread recipes. Dark-colored metal pans allow the crust to brown too quickly. The hazelnuts I purchased were in a small bag that contained only 1/4 cup. More hazelnuts, which are delicious, would be nice, but the 1/4 cup amount worked. One trick to having a light coffee cake is to set your eggs, butter and sour cream out an hour before baking. You will have a higher, fluffier loaf.


In one of the pictures above, a crocheted pot holder peeks out. I had picked up an old potholder at a garage sale and decided to make a few more like it. It’s crocheted with medium-weight crochet cotton using a few simple stitches. It’s the perfect project to work on while watching tv–there’s nothing complicated to distract you!


Cotton Crocheted Potholders

These directions are for the beige potholder above. Use a medium-weight crochet cotton (size 3) and a Size E crochet hook.

Crochet a chain of 33 loops. Turn, skip a loop, and double crochet across. Continue this until you have a 5″ square. Make one more square, so you have two squares. Hold squares together and crochet them together by doing a single crochet through the edge loops of both squares, crocheting three single crochets in all four corners. Cut off the beige crochet thread, and pick up the cream colored thread in a corner.

To make scalloped edging: Skip one single crochet and make five double crochets in next single crochet stitch, skip one single crochet and slip stitch into next single crochet. Repeat around.

The cream-colored potholder was made in a similar fashion, only I used single crochet, and crocheted in the back loops to create a ridged pattern.

Original potholder.

Back to birds! I was sitting out in the garden when I saw this sparrow sitting in the sunshine.

IMG_1753 IMG_1754 IMG_1755 IMG_1756 IMG_1757

Lastly, a noble cardinal, and some beautiful clouds. Peace to you. Fran








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