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 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 :)

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