Tuesday, December 27, 2011

low fat double chocolate cookies

As part of my continual search for healthier bakes, I made some low fat double chocolate cookies with olive oil a few weeks ago. Only now that I found some time to load them up.

These cookies are soft, almost cake-like, with a very slight crunch on the edges. They may not be your cup of tea if you prefer chewy or hard cookies. But I find them quite pleasing to my palate, though I kinda expected them to be harder. They are definitely tasty.. and a great choice to satisfy the my choco craving without feeling too guilty... *grin*...

Low Fat Double Chocolate Cookies

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, beat olive oil and sugar until well done. Add egg and vanilla and mix until well blended.
2. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop cookie dough by spoon onto baking tray lined with parchment paper, spacing them with enough distance for spreading.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 190 degree C for 8-10 mins. Let cool on the sheet for 1 min, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe is adapted from lowfatcooking.about.com.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

DIY Xmas home deco

I have not been doing much baking lately, mainly bcoz baby's sleeping time has been quite erratic, and I can't be sure I have enough time on hand to finish one round of baking while he sleeps. So, I tried doing something that can be put away immediately once my dear baby starts to stir.. I did some DIY deco for Xmas.. :)

All I needed was some white papers, some origami papers, scissors and glue, and I was good to start. Btw, Daiso sells some interesting origami papers. I bought all of mine from there.

Xmas tree is a must for this festive season and I think these trees are adorable. They are relatively easy to make and you can add as many layers of tree canopy as you want depending how big and tall you would like the tree to be. I made mine with only 3 layers since I was limited by the origami paper size and they are absolutely prefect for table or counter top. You can use scrapbooking paper or even wrapping paper for bigger tree. I learned the steps from this video.

Xmas won't be complete without some glitters and shines, right? I used some really sparkly papers to make these origami balls and joined them together to make 2 glitter loops. Some of the sparkly papers went into making a 5-pointed star. I learned the steps to make the balls from here and the 5-pointed star here.

To top things off, what else but some beautiful snowflakes to make our tropical Xmas an extra special one. These snowflakes are really fun to make and the possibilities are endless - depending on how you cut/create them, each one is unique. I learned the steps from here.

This is how the final put-together of the origami window/wall looks like.

Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a MERRY MERRY XMAS and a very HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR ...


Btw, for anyone who is interested in origami and paper art, paperkawaii has some really kawaii works, free interesting info and tutorials.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

cauliflower popcorn

Well, these treats are not bake goods but they tasted so good and at the same time so healthy compared to other snacks, that I think I must post it here to share.

I saw this recipe on Cold Storage's bi-monthly magazine couple of weeks ago. Yes, Cold Storage has their own magazine called Savour the Good Life. The recipe seems interesting and relatively easy to make, so I made a mental note to try it when the opportunity arises.

Last week, I happened to have some leftover fried rice from dinner which I intended to reheat for lunch the next day. I was searching for extra stuffs to make the fried rice more appetising when I saw that we have half a head of cauliflower left in the fridge. To put all of the cauliflower into the fried rice would be too much. So I chopped up the cauliflower, core and stem went into the fried rice and the rest went into making these interesting popcorn.

Cauliflower Popcorn

1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 220 degree C
2. Cut out and discard cauliflower core and thick stem. Trim the rest into florets the size of golf balls.
3. In a bowl, add cauliflower, olive oil and salt. Toss thoroughly.
4. Spread cauliflower on baking sheet. Roast until florets become golden brown. Turn 3-4 times during roasting.
5. Serve immediately.

Few tips from my experience:
1. The original recipe calls for 1 tbsp of salt but I think they were on the salty side so I change it to 1 tsp here, but if you like salty popcorn, go ahead and add more salt.
2. DO watch out for the roasting. The original recipe states roast for an hour but mine was done at 30 mins and as you can see from the picture, certain parts were already slightly charred.
3. Make sure the florets are of similar sizes, some of my smaller florets were completely charred.
4. Lastly, if you have only half a head of cauliflower (like me), adjust the olive oil and salt accordingly :)

Writing this makes me salivate, I think I will be buying more cauliflowers soon. The article in the magazine says the cauliflower popcorn is addictive, I definitely agree.

Monday, November 28, 2011

low fat cupcakes with homemade applesauce

I like the concept of Aspiring Bakers.. it gives me an avenue and reason to venture out from my usual 'baking comfort zone', which involves mainly cookies & muffins & some occasional simple cakes. Without AB, I don't think I would have tried my hands at making mooncakes, for example :)

When I saw that the theme for Nov 2011 is Enjoy Cupcakes!, those little daintily decorated, calorie loaded sinful treats sprang to mind. Though I always enjoy baked goods, I must admit I have yet to try one of those pretty little thing. Main reason being that I love bake goods with some textures (wholemeal or with nuts maybe) and of natural sweetness (with real fruits maybe).... Also, with 8 kg to shed in order to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight now, I think I better stay clear of those.

A search online sprang some surprises, there are plenty of recipes for low fat cupcakes! And they look really yummy too. I decided to make some simple treats for myself.

Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce (produces approx 3/4 cup of applesauce)

3 apples
2 tsp ground clove
cinnamon powder (to taste)

1. Core, peel and dice apples into bite size pieces
2. Add enough water to cover about half the apples
3. Add cinnamon and cloves
4. Cook on high until the apples start to mush down
5. Turn to low and let simmer until seem done (use a fork to mash down the apples if need be)

The recipe above shows the measurement I used and how I did it. I only made enough for the cupcake recipe below. The recipe is adapted from www.food.com. The original recipe uses whole cloves but I only have ground clove at home. Also I have to use fork to mash the apples after they turn soft in order to get the mushy texture. It was quite a time consuming task, on hindsight, I should have used a blender instead to get a more even texture. But the applesauce was really delicious and the sweet fragrant smell while it was cooking filled the whole kitchen nicely.

Low Fat Cupcakes

1 & 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 lemon (juice & zest of)

1. Preheat oven to 165 degree C
2. Combine dry ingredients and set aside
3. Whisk together applesauce, oil and sugar.
4. Add egg and beat well, then stir in lemon zest and juice.
5. Alternately stir in flour mixture and sour cream in stages.
5. Fill in paper lines muffin mold and bake for 20-25 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The recipe is adapted from hubpages.

I always substitute the sour cream in a recipe with plain yogurt, so I thought of doing the same this time round. I remembered clearly of seeing the yogurt in the fridge in the previous night. But when I was done with the applesauce and was getting ready for the cupcakes, I couldn't find the yogurt. Apparently my dear husband, having checked that it's expiry date just lapsed, decided to throw it away. So, I was left with no sour cream or yogurt. The closest I could find was light cream, which I reluctantly used and kept my fingers crossed.

To my relieve, the cupcakes came out quite ok. The original recipe name it Low Fat Lemon Cupcakes but when I tasted it, the applesauce totally overpowered the lemon taste. In fact, I couldn't make out the lemon taste at all, so I dropped the word 'lemon' from its title. Even without the lemon taste, the cupcakes are delicious on their own, esp if you like apple and cinnamon. The texture was definitely more moist, dense and springy than what I would have imagined to be coming from cupcakes. But again, as I mentioned, I have not tried one of those 'real' cupcakes in the market, so I can't compare.

Hubby tried one and commented it was delicious, but when I asked how was it compared to other cupcakes, I just realised that apparently he has not tried one of those too. Maybe the 2 of us should make a date to sample one of those real pretty cupcakes =)

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #13 : Enjoy Cupcakes (November 2011) hosted by Min of Min's blog.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No milk? Got yogurt


That was my ultimate cry of despair a few days ago, when I made a last minute decision to do a tested recipe of quick bread just after baby drifted into dreamland, and realised we were out of milk in the house.

2 months ago, if someone was to say 'no milk?' to me, I probably would have thrown my breast pump at her. I was struggling with breastfeeding then. Not that my supply has increased dramatically, but at least baby and I have kind of settled into a comfortable routine now.

Ok, I have strayed from the main topic, back to the latest no milk issue.. A thorough check through the whole fridge confirmed that yogurt was the closest I can find for milk substitute. I thought, why not?

After a fast 15 mins of putting together everything, including a generous portion of nice dried apricots and cranberries and 1 to 1 replacement of yogurt for the milk, the dough mix was sitting in the oven, baking away. My dear little baby didn't even stir a single bit, phew... Oh, btw, I also ran out of plain flour, so I substituted 2/3 of the required flour portion with wholemeal flour.

Based on the previous experience of the quick bread coming out a bit dry, I set the timer to 45 mins. Good decision, the bread came out just nice. I cannot tell the difference for substituting the milk with yogurt, other than the quick bread is more moist and supple this time round. Maybe it is due to the yogurt, maybe it is due to the cutting down of baking time, I am not too sure.

I have only one complain - the quick bread drops crumbs easily, due to the high portion of wholemeal flour used. I really think that the Prima brand of wholemeal flour is very grainy and given a choice, I will try to keep it to 1/4 of the total portion of flour required at maximum. That will lend a nice texture to the bake goods without making it too crumbly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

cranberry cookies

Baking is definitely not on my 'must do' list recently, and I would think it will continue to be so for at least another few more months, in the best case scenario... but at the back of my mind, I am always craving for some homemade muffins or cookies or cakes.

Taking care of a new baby on one's own does not allow much time for personal craving, does it? So when my mum came down from Penang to help out for a week or so after the confinement nanny left, I finally have the opportunity to tend to the craving, and even that, I have to make do with whatever ingredients I have at home. Gratefully, I have enough to make a full batch of cranberry cookies.

Cranberry Cookies

80g Butter (room temperature)
60g sugar
1 egg (approx 50g, slightly beaten)
150g plain flour
50g wholemeal flour
20g milk
1 cup of cranberries

1. Whisk sugar and butter evenly, add in the egg in 3 small portions, mixing evenly each time before adding the next.
2. Add in the dry ingredients, milk and cranberries. Mix evenly before each addition.
3. Preheat oven at 180 degree C.
4. Grease baking tray, scoop the cookie dough using spoon and arrange evenly on tray, flattening each one with the back of the spoon.
5. Bake for approx 20 mins or until the surface turned golden.

The recipe was adapted from 文怡-从零开始学烘培. The original recipe calls for full wholemeal flour as well as additional oatmeal, and slightly more sugar (80g) but less cranberries. From experience, I knew that the wholemeal flour I bought is different and will not turn out well if used in full quantity, hence I opted to use 3 quarter plain flour and 1 quarter wholemeal flour. I actually intended to add in the oatmeal but after mixing in the flour, I thought the dough was just about the right dryness, so I pulled out the oatmeal at the very last minute.

The cookies turned out well even with my changes. The texture was crunchy and has a nice nutty flavour due to wholemeal flour I used. The sweetness was just right for my taste, with some of it being compensated by the additional cranberries added.

Since when eating homemade cookies became a luxury? I felt so blissful biting into them, while having a nice cup of coffee.. it was done while the baby was sleeping, of course. And how can I forget my mum, who came to responding to my SOS call. Thanks mum :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

baby shower cookies

Last Saturday, we celebrated our little bundle of joy's full month celebration.

Yes, I have delivered since the last post and since finishing the labour inducing 'ginger cookie' :).

No, I have not found the time to bake since then and my life, or rather our life (hubby and I), had been turned upside down.

For the full month, other than the traditional red eggs & Ang Ku Kueh, I decided to go against the tide (or my company's norm of giving Bengawan Solos's cake card), and to search online for something more unique as baby shower gift.

I found quite a few cute ideas, eg. really beautifully decorated cupcakes, chocolates etc. Finally, I decided upon Baked With Love cookies. Main reasons being that they look really adorable and cookies are much easily to transport compared to other choices. My original intention was to get their baby shower cookies but they were out of stock and BWL suggested for me to go with multi-coloured lollipops instead, which I agreed.

The cookies came individually packed, with free personalised tag (since I ordered more than 100), and I was quite happy with the hassle-free email ordering system. I think the blue and red ones are the most charming while the yellow one looks quite pale in reality.

As much as I like the look and the packaging of these cookies, I must say that there is room for much improvement in the 'taste department'. Well, nothing beats home made cookies anyway, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ginger cookies

I started to get anxious closer and closer to my due date.... the date came and gone and I was still having my little one inside. Well, in fact, I AM still having him inside me today...

So, I did a bit of searching online and came across a few recommendation on natural ways to induce labour. Some of them are really 'out' for me e.g. drinking castor oil. But one of them that seems promising is this recipe - Jump Start Your Labor Cookies. If it doesn't work, at least I still get something nice to eat. So here goes:

Labour Inducing Ginger Cookies

2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves (I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cayenne pepper (I replaced with red paprika)
8 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (I cut down to half)
1/3 cup molases (I used black molases)
1/4 cup egg whites (equal to 2 egg whites)

1. Preheat oven at 165 degree C
2. Combine flour, soda, spices and set aside.
3. Cream butter & sugar. Add molasses, then egg whites to creamed butter, mix until combined.
4. Add dry ingredients slowly.
5. Once incorporated, roll dough into 1 inch ball and place onto baking tray.
5. Bake for 8-10 mins.

I also grated a small amount of fresh ginger (about 2 tsp) and added that with its juices (another 2 tsp) into the recipe. Maybe because of the juices, the dough was a bit runny, so I used a spoon to scoop the dough onto the tray instead. I also baked the cookies slightly longer than stated, approx 15 mins.

The cookies were delicious, though slightly on the sweet side even though I already halved the brown sugar. They were crunchy on the edges but slightly on the chewy side in the middle. They turned slightly soft the next day but a toast in the toaster is all it takes to 'perk' the edges back to crunchy state.

I finished the last 3 cookies from the batch this morning and... surprise, surprise... I did start to experience some mild lower abdominal tightening since afternoon, but they are not of very regular intervals and being my 1st pregnancy, I am really not so sure whether it is early labour contraction that I am experiencing or otherwise. I am keeping my fingers crossed...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

pumpkin paste 'mooncake'

I am not even sure whether my finished product can be considered as 'mooncake' but I did try to follow as close to the recipe as possible in the process. I think I definitely took on more that my meagre baking skill can handle when I decided to try at making mooncake :p. Nonetheless, I decided to still post it here, since this was my first try and it definitely marked a milestone for me to take up something more daring to bake.

Mooncake has never been on my 'my favourite' list because I really find it too sweet though I always like Mooncake Festival. I always think Mid-Autumn Festival中秋节is one of the most romantic Chinese Festival. So, when I came across the Aspiring Bakers #11 Mid-Autumn Treats, I decided to surf for some alternative recipes that do not need all the special equipment e.g. the mooncake mold or special ingredient.

Interestingly, I came across 简单快乐's小花月饼 and 薄灰's pumpkin paste traditional mooncake. I thought to myself: brilliant, now I can combine both recipes and make mooncakes without mooncake mold and make the filling from an ingredient I really like!

Pumpkin Paste

Pumpkin 500 g (will yield approx 320g filling)
Sugar 30g
Vegetable oil (suitable amount)
Wheat starch 25g (I replaced with potato starch)
Condensed milk (optional)

1. Cut the pumpkin into cubes. Steam pumpkin for approx 10 mins until it turns soft.
2. Smash and stir fry the pumpkin to get rid of water, add sugar (can be adjusted according to personal preference)
3. Add oil and stir fry until fully absorded. Add condensed milk (optional)
4. Add starch and continue to stir fry until thickened to paste form.

'Flower Mooncake' (as stated in the original recipe)

Cake flour 250g
Baking powder 3g
Salt 3g
Honey 12g
Sugar 60g
Egg 80g
Oil 25g
for decoration - 1 egg yolk, 2 tbsp water & some white sesame seeds

1. Mix all ingredients evenly to make the dough, wrap with cling film and store in fridge for 30 mins.
2. While waiting for dough to rest, divide filling and form into small balls.
3. Take out the dough and divide into approx 20 even portions. Keep the dough covered in film to avoid losing moisture.
4. Dough is sticky. Rub palms with oil before handling. Take a small dough, flatten, put the filling paste in the middle.
5. Starting from the bottom, slowly wrap the dough over the filling.
6. Close off the dough and place the closure facing down. Use a small spoon or your thumb to press a small indent in the middle.
7. Use a spatula to crave out 6 slits on the dough to form flower shape.
8. Brush the surface with egg yolk water, sprinkle with sesame seeds and put in oven, preheated at 180 degree C, for approx 15 mins.

Yes, I had been pre-warned that the dough will be sticky BUT it was sooo sticky that I could not handle the flower shaping at all! Starting from step 4, everything turned chaotic for me. I only managed to flatten the dough, put in the filling, close off as fast as I can, put on the baking tray (more like speed throwing it on the tray) and no more touching the dough after that. Any extra touching would end up with the dough sticking to my fingers or palm or any part of my skin that came into contact with it.

I tried 2 batches, since the pumpkin paste was more than enough to go around. With the 1st batch (picture above & below), I didn't even manage to shape the dough smoothly nor wrap the skin evenly. I thought I might have done something wrong with the dough. So I tried out a 2nd batch, yielding the same result with the stickiness of the dough. But having learnt from 1st batch, the 2nd batch (1st picture of this post) turned out slightly nicer looking because I kept sending the dough back to the fridge since the dough was easier to handle immediately out of the fridge.

I must say, my version was a far cry from the 简单快乐‘s version. But the 'mooncakes' turned out to be quite tasty, to my surprise. The skin was supple and slightly chewy, almost having the same texture as those piggy biscuits sold in colourful plastic nettings during my childhood days (maybe some of you share the same Mooncake Festival memory as me?). The pumpkin filling was definitely to my taste since pumpkin is one of my favourite food.

Well, will I try making mooncake again? Maybe... but not this soon. We shall see next year.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and joyous Mooncake Festival. My not so secret wish: that my little baby (EDD 10 Sept) will be born before or on the day of the Mooncake Festival... that will be the best Mid-Autumn gift to us.

Btw, I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #11 Mid-Autumn Treats (September 2011) hosted by Happy Home Baking. I hope it qualifies :).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

light lemon cheese cake

Determined to start trying recipes from the recipe books I bought, I picked one of the cake type that I had been trying to stay away from all these while - cheese cake. Though I like the idea of eating a small slice of cheese cake once in a while, the thought of having to work off all the calories from finishing a whole cheese cake is definitely not encouraging.

So when I came across this light lemon cheese cake 柠檬芝士(轻奶酪)蛋糕recipe in 贝太厨房, which definitely packs less calories compared to a conventional cheese cake, I decided to give it a try.

Light Lemon Cheese Cake (for a 6-inch cake pan)

Cream Cheese 200 g
Eggs 2
Yogurt 75 g
Cake flour 35 g
Sugar 50 g
Lemon juice 20 ml

1. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks and put into 2 different containers
2. Put cream cheese in a bowl, place the bowl in a pot filled with water over small fire. Whisk the cream cheese until forming a smooth paste.
3. Pour the lightly beaten egg yolks in 3 separate portions into the cream cheese, each time mixing evenly before adding the next.
4. Repeat the same for 30 g sugar then the flour. Add in lemon juice and yogurt and mix well.
5. In the separate containers, beat the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar in 3 separate portions, until the whites reach soft peak form.
7. Pour 1/3 of the egg whites into the cream cheese paste, mix evenly with spatula before adding another 1/3, mix well. Pour the cream cheese paste into the remaining egg whites, mix by folding from down up. Avoid over mixing.
8. Pour the cheese cake paste into pan. Put the pan onto a baking tray filled with water.
9. Put the baking tray into preheated oven at 160 degree C for 60 mins.
10. Leave the baked cake to cool down completely before removing from mold.

I used only 1/2 of the above portion to make a small loaf of cheese cake and it took me only 30 mins instead of 60 mins of stated baking time. The book also mentioned that once the surface of the cheese cake has hardened when lightly touch on the surface, the cake is almost ready.

The cheese cake turned out really soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth type, and has texture similar to Japanese cheese cake. It was tasty but slightly on the sourish side because of the yogurt and lemon. The yogurt I used was really sour. I like the tartness in the cake but hubby thinks it was slightly overboard for him.

The only problem I have with my finished product is the look, the cheese cake looked fluffy and nice just out of the oven but shrunk after cooling off, giving it a 'wrinkled' look on the surface. Also, I realised that there were some moisture trapped between the butter paper, that I used to line the mold, and the mold itself. I am not sure whether the cooling off process caused the condensation, hence causing the cake to 'deform' slightly. In any case, the next time I make this recipe again, I will sure to try it without the butter paper, to see whether it helps with preserving the look. Anyone out there who is aware what was the root of the problem, please enlighten me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

mixed fruits soda bread

After the 1st trial at making soda bread, I find myself making it again last weekend. This time, other than almond bits I added half cup of cranberries and raisins (pre-soaked in rum). Since there was leftover rum from the soaking process, I decided to add a tablespoon of it into the recipe as well.

Instead of making 2 smaller loaves as what I did in the 1st trial, I put all the dough into a bigger loaf.

The bread has a slight hint of alcohol presence, which is very pleasant, and because of the sweetness from fruits, I find this version to be nice on it's own or with milder tasting spread, like butter. By the way, I am still pregnant (full term, very heavily pregnant actually) and not supposed to consume alcohol but I guess after the baking process, not much alcohol content is left in the bread, :p.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

baking recipe books

For a long while, I had been resisting the temptation to buy baking recipe book... the reason is simple, because there are simply just too many wonderful baking related blogs and websites with countless recipes for me to surf online. Plus... I am slightly running out of bookshelf space at home :)

2 weeks ago, I finally succumbed to the temptation and ordered a few recipe books on amazon.com.cn when I found out that one of my colleagues stationed in Beijing will be making a trip back Singapore soon. For those who are not aware, amazon.com.cn offers great selection of Chinese books at a good discount & really a lot of other stuff online, but too bad their free delivery is limited to within China. I went on a book shopping spree and bought 10 books online, 3 of them are baking books, while the rest are baby related titles and some leisurely reads for myself.

Last week, I got my books, thanks to Agnes who helped to collect and pay for the books and Meishih who carried them all the way back to Singapore.

The 3 books on baking that I bought are 西式糕点制作大全by川上文代(Fumiyo Kawakami), 从零开始学烘培by文怡and轻松学烘培by贝太厨房.

西式糕点制作大全is the most detailed of all 3, there are standard steps for each category of dessert (cakes, biscuits, tarts etc), including some Japanese and South East Asian desserts. For each category, Kawakami illustrated in detail the step-by-step process involved and at the end of it she added elaboration on how to avoid failure. I find that it is useful she also put in variations that can be achieved using the standard steps.

从零开始学烘培is the most fun to read, with the author adding some tips accompanying each recipe. Some of the tips are related to steps in the recipe, some are just additional knowledge about a particular ingredient used. I find it less comprehensive compared to Kawakami's but it suits my personality more. I like easy read and Kawakami's is too textbook like. I earmarked quite a number of recipes on this book that I would like to try out in near future.

轻松学烘培is the most simple and straightforward of all 3. Though there are tips at the end of most recipes as well, they are written in point form and are of no nonsense style. One minor flaw that I found out while trying out one of the recipe inside is that the publisher didn't include in how much the recipe will yield.

While online info comes really easy these days, I always think that having a physical book to hold, to flip and to read, remains one of life's simple pleasure. Recipe book may not make a typical read but I will not be surprised if I find myself keep returning to these recipe books, looking for inspiration.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

wholemeal almond soda bread

Hubby and I went for dinner at Osia at Resort World Sentosa last Friday. The bread there was .. oh.. so yummy. And so was the pistachio cream cheese spread that came with the bread, nicely presented in a tube. When we asked to bring home the leftover cream cheese in the tube, we were told that it has to be kept refrigerated and must be consumed within a day.

So immediately the next day, I took out the soda bread recipe that I kept away all these while, intending to try my hands at making bread for the first time to go with the pistachio cream cheese spread.

Wholemeal Almond Soda Bread

cake flour 150 g
wholemeal flour 100 g
baking powder 1//2 tbs
baking soda 1/2 tsp
salt 1/4 tsp
sugar 1 tbsp
almond bits 1/2 cup
milk 100 ml
plain yogurt 100 ml

1. Toast the almond bits in toaster for approx 5 mins or til almonds are slightly brown and emit a nice aroma.
2. Mix milk and yogurt.
3. Put all dry ingredients in a big bowl, mix with hand, pour in all the wet ingredients. Using chopsticks, mix til all ingredients form a dough batter. Do not over mix else bread will turn out hard.
4. Use hand to form a round dough and put on baking tray lined with parchment paper.
5. Sift some flour on the dough, mark a cross using knife dipped thru water.
6. Bake at 170 degree C in preheated oven for 30 mins or until toothpick inserted came out clean.

recipe adapted from樱的烘培日志.

I divided the dough into 2 portions, making 2 smaller round breads instead of a bigger one. I tested with toothpick at 25 mins and the breads were done. Though I read that soda bread does not rise much, I didn't expect the breads to retain almost the same size as the raw dough. Oh, and since I didn't flour or oil the parchment paper, certain parts of the breads sticked to the paper. I shall remember to do that the next time.

The bread turned out to be slightly crunchy on the outside and full of nutty flavour. The texture was dense and surprisingly quite moist (though not as moist as cake texture since there were no butter or oil used). It went very well with the leftover pistachio cream cheese and needless to say, the whole tube of cream cheese disappeared down our tummies before the breads even had a chance to turn cold.

The next day, we put cheese and 'bakwa' (Chinese BBQ meat) on the soda bread and toasted them together in the toaster for breakfast. The bread tasted equally delicious, especially with the slightly melted cheese. I will certainly be experimenting more with this recipe in the future.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

cranberry butter cookies

Butter cookie has always been one of my personal favourite since childhood. The fragrant, the melt-in-your-mouth texture, the rich taste of butter... all of that coupled by the fact that butter cookie was hard to come by during those days, made butter cookie one of the highlight of festive seasons like CNY or occasions for celebration like birthdays.

Nowadays, with cookies getting more sophisticated with new tastes and concepts, the good old simple butter cookie still has a special place on my cookie list. Though now, I am much more conscious of its butter and sugar content.

Maybe because of the high expectation I have for butter cookie or the fear of disappointment, I had never tried making butter cookie at home. When I came across this cranberry butter cookie recipe that doesn't look too difficult to make, I decided that I should have a go at it.

Cranberry Butter Cookie

115g cake flour
1 tbsp egg (beaten)
75g butter
60g sugar (I cut down to 50g)
35g cranberry

1. Mix sugar with melted butter until combine. No need to beat.
2. Add in the beaten egg. Mix until combine.
3. Fold in the cranberry. Mix until combine.
4. Fold in the flour and mix until combine. Use hand to mold the batter into the shape of a rectangular block (approx 4 cm x 6 cm). Cover with parchment paper and refrigerate in the fridge for at least an hour for batter to harden (remember, not the freezer).
5. When the batter block has hardened, cut the block into pieces of approx 0.7 cm thick.
6. Bake in oven preheated at 180 degree C for approx. 20 mins.

The cookies turned out absolutely as tasty as any butter cookies should be, with cranberries adding some chewy texture. Phew.. at least I can say I did not do any injustice to my old time favourite.

Recipe adapted from 君之's blog.

Monday, August 8, 2011

peach yogurt muffin

Hubby and I went for dinner at an Italian restaurant near Tanjong Pagar MRT a couple of weeks ago and the restaurant manager there had been so kind to give us a jar of Italian preserved peach after the dinner to bring home. That jar of preserved peach is softer than the standard off-the-shelf preserved peach in a tin and they go really well with plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

Last weekend, I was contemplating what to bake for snacks when I saw the jar with half finished peaches in the fridge. I immediately thought that the peaches would be lovely if used in place of the blueberry in the blueberry yogurt muffin 1 recipe.

Again, the muffin came out moist, soft and tasty. And oh, I like the slightly caramelised look of the peach on top of the muffin, makes them look extra attractive, I think.

Friday, July 29, 2011

fruits & nuts quick bread

While checking thru our kitchen cabinet, I found a half-consumed pack of mixed fruits & nuts we bought in Turkey during our trip there couple of months ago. Immediately I thought I could make good use of it to bake some cakes or muffins.

Surfing through recipes online, I found some quick bread recipes on Joy of Baking, and decided it would be a good idea to improvise the cranberry quick bread recipe to make fruits & nuts quick bread instead.

Fruits & Nuts Quick Bread

4 cups sifted plain flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) melted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups of mixed fruits & nuts

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C (160 degree C if using dark coloured pan)
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
3. Whisk together egg, butter, vanilla essence and milk.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix in the mixed fruits & nuts. Mix well.
5. Pour the batter into pre-greased pan and bake for 70 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I separated the nuts from the fruits, pounded them with mortar until they were of course medium grain texture and toasted them for 5 mins in the toaster to bring out the fragrant before starting the make the quick bread. I also substituted 1 cup of the plain flour n the recipe with wholemeal flour and reduced the sugar to half a cup.

While baking, I checked the bread at 50 mins and there were some crumbs sticking to the toothpick so I decided to bake for another 10 mins. A mistake because while the quick bread came out full of flavours and of dense and nice texture, it was a slightly on the dry side. On hindsight, I should have stopped the baking there and then since the crumbs were dry and not the sticky type.

I cut the quick bread into thin slices, wrapped them in alum foil before storing it in the fridge and had them for breakfast everyday for almost a week. And oh, cutting down the sugar by half was a good choice for me since I really like my bread to be of mild sweetness. The bread is nice on its own but I also tried it with thick spread of butter, with cheddar cheese (slightly toasted to melt the cheese) as well as with blueberry jam. My favourite is having it with cheese because I find the melted cheese added extra texture to the bread and the cheese flavour complemented the fruits & nuts well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

blueberry yogurt muffin 2

I was flipping through a recipe book titled The Delicious Cookbook by Matthew Drennan given to me by one of my colleague/friend and discovered a dog-earred page with raspberry muffins recipe. I must have intended to try out the recipe in the past.

I was immediately attracted to the recipe when I saw that for a total portion that will make 12 muffins, the recipe uses only 2 tablespoon of oil! Better still, the recipe also uses yogurt, which I like.

With 2 punnets of blueberries left in the fridge, I tried adapting the recipe to make blueberry muffin instead. This time round, I got slightly bolder and tried replacing some of the flour with wholemeal flour and since I am not exactly a very stick to the rules baker, I converted the metric (gram) in the original recipe into 'cup' in the recipe below that I used for these muffins.

Blueberry Yogurt Muffin

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp oil
3/4 cup natural yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp honey (I added this bcoz the particular brand of yogurt I bought is very sour)
1 cup blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Line muffin tray with paper cups.
2. Sift all dry ingredients in a bowl, then make a well in the middle.
3. Put all wet ingredients in another bowl and whisk until mixed, pour into the well in the flour mixture. Mix together working from the center, blending the flour into the egg mixture a little at a time. Mix well.
4. Fold in the blueberries and mix lightly.
5. Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The muffins came out beautifully. They were tasty, totally not oily and bcoz of the wholemeal flour, has a different texture from the blueberry yogurt muffin 1 (BYM1) that I tried few days ago. Surprising, with so little oil used, these muffins were actually quite moist, though not as moist as BYM1. BYM 1 has a very fluffy texture and is slightly more delicate in taste compared to BYM 2.

Which one do I prefer? If I have to choose, I think maybe BYM2 for breakfast and as regular bake since the recipe is definitely much more healthy and maybe BYM1 when I need a 'pamper myself' moments :).
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