Tuesday, 5 April 2011

just two bowls

It seems like my learning curve is quite flat...and very likely it will remain that way for sometime...

I have started baking 4 years ago...yet, I couldn't move too far away from simple bakes such as muffins and cookies. Many fellow home bakers who began their baking journey way after me are already displaying baking skills...in my opinion, which has already surpassed or at least equivalent to professional pastry chefs! They never failed to wow me with challenging bakes such as those lovely French macaroons, delicious choux puff pastry, gorgeous layered cakes, dainty desserts, fondant sugarcraft, and even challenging breads such as sourdough.

Me being a rather conservative (a better word for 'kiasee'...a Singlish term which means 'afraid to die') person, is not always willing to take up baking challenges. My fear of failure is the greatest stumbling block. I know, to avoid kitchen failures I should equip myself with the necessary knowledge and skills, which I should acquire by learning from professional bakers. In the past, I like to use the excuse of not being able to find time to attend baking classes...but now, with more free time on hand, I still couldn't make myself sign up for any baking course. The thought of going for lessons on specific time on a periodic basis, just, puts me off. With this kind of mentality, I wonder when I am able to accelerate my learning pace?

So, in the mean time, I hope you won't get too bored reading post after post on simple bakes on this blog space. I am not being humble, I did get a comment sometime back that I am getting boring (^_^''')

The subject of this post is none other than this batch of 'Two Bowls' Chocolate Chips Muffins. As the name suggests, these moist chocolaty treats are made using just two bowls. One for mixing up the wet ingredients, the other for the dry ones. The content inside the 'wet' bowl is then dumped into the 'dry' bowl, with a few quick stirs, the batter is ready for baking. I bet a 10 year old will be able to make this with little supervision.

I modified the original recipe a little...basically the fat used. The original recipe calls for melted butter, but I was too lazy to even melt some butter, so I simply substituted it with olive oil. There is not much difference between the two types of fat...even there is, I believe it is going to be quite subtle. Butter will definitely enhance the taste...I am sure the muffins will smell better when they were baking...but oil wins by being able to keep them moist.

My younger child has been craving for something as chocolaty and rich as brownies...but a really good tray of brownies has got too much fat and sugar, despite his constant pleadings, I would only bake them on special occasions. In order to fool the boy to eat my bakes, I replaced some of the plain flour with cocoa powder...so as to make these muffins look close enough to be the slightly healthier cousin of the brownies :)

I made these muffins on a weekday night...while they were still hot to the touch, my kids wouldn't even wait for them to cool off. I was surprised that they couldn't stop at just one...the chocolaty and moist crumbs certainly appealed to their taste buds.

My cyberfriend, VB once asked me how I usually eat my muffins...do I strip off the paper liners or do I use a spoon to scoop it from the muffin cups? Well, my kids always eat it with a spoon, as for me, I usually rid off the paper liners. For these muffins, I had to use a spoon to dig in...just because these sweet little paper souffle cups are so sturdy that I had problem trying to pull them apart ;)

So, if I may ask, how do you usually eat your muffins?

Chocolate Chips Muffins

(makes 12 small muffins)

235g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
50g mini dark chocolate chips
1 large egg, lightly beaten
60ml olive oil or any vegetable oil
175ml milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g granulated sugar*

*note: use 125g if you prefer it to be sweeter, original recipe calls for 150g sugar.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degC.
  2. Sieve together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix in chocolate chips. Make a well in the centre.
  3. Place egg, oil, milk, vanilla extract and sugar in another bowl. Mix (with a manual whisk) until thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. With a spatula, gently fold all the ingredients to form a wet batter. Just mix until the flour are incorporate into the batter. DO NOT Over mix. The batter should appear lumpy.
  5. Spoon batter into paper muffin cups to about 3/4 full. Bake for 15~20mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack and serve warm.
Recipe source: adapted from Bread baking by hand or bread machine, by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno


  1. Thank you for the recipe. lyn

  2. I always strip off the paper liners :)) Great post, it's hard to imagine you being afraid to try new things :) when I see your photos and the beautiful recipes!

  3. looks chocolatey and delicious! i just peel the liners off and gulp my muffins up hehe

  4. hi there, I've been following your blog and i personally think your bakes are superb even if you think they're just simple boring bakes! I love simple easy bakes, the simpler the better! Haha! Don't be too hard on yourself :) I'd love to see more bake from u, simple or not.

  5. As long as it is enjoyed by your family, who cares whether it is boring or not. Some people are just simply judgemental.

    I eat mine with spoon.

  6. HHB, I think you are doing good. :) The muffins are so tempting. I like to peel my muffin liners and then eat with a spoon. Hahaha... :P

  7. I peel off the liners to eat.

    I also have the same feeling as you. In fact I just left a similar comment to Aimei yesterday: I also started baking quite long ago and have remained stagnant. Looking at all the new blogs, they bake better than me, blog better than me, take better photos than me and even younger than me, I'm really lagging behind. :p

  8. Haha I usually peel off the muffin liner and I like to enjoy the crusty top. But if o happen to buy those jumbo muffin from starbucks, I'll use a fork to slowly savour it. :)

  9. Hey, I think you need to chill down because your posts are NOT getting boring. Okay, maybe repetitive but definitely not boring. I actually work at a bakery and to me reading the simpler side of baking is always refreshing. What's wrong with muffins and breakfast type cakes? There ain't nothing wrong with them. Though maybe you could start to expand and experiment more with your baking, I think your blogging is very sincere and honest. Keep up the great work, I really enjoy reading you.
    P.S i rip the paper liners off before eating

  10. muffins looks so yummy...nice clicks too.

  11. Hi Sotong, thanks so much of your kind assurance :)

    SSB, although I am able to bake more frequently than you and Aimei but I am not anywhere better. I think it is ok that we just learn and do things at our own pace. To make you feel slightly better, I am way older than most of you...I think I can upgrade from Ah Soh to Ah Umm soon!

  12. hey HHB,

    You can bake very nice bread and its definitely not easy. I for sure am not able to churn out nice soft fluffy bakery look-alike breads at the moment.

    For bakes that are deemed simpler, such as muffins and cookies, making them stand out is a challenge. You have done it great in this area =].

    I'm sure many readers look upon you as a source of inspiration, me included.

    Sometimes, I think every baker has his/her own preference/ direction in which they are heading in. Naturally, the progress is different. I'm sure it is no easy feat to be an all-rounder when it comes to baking (even if one is professionally trained) since there are so many aspects to learn and master. (I'm more into cakes, thats for sure. But I suck at making bread, haha)

    As a self-taught homebaker, you have fully displayed the spirit of baking and I am VERY proud of you.

    I like to peel my liners away for muffins/cupcakes but will use a spoon if they are housed in cups. =]

  13. NO HHB! your post is never boring. i enjoyed reading your post and there's soooo many recipe in your blog that i want to try! esp bread. i've not tried it yet. more "kiasee" than you :D you're great!
    anyways, i'll peel off the liners and eat it! yummy (:

  14. Hi, be rest assured that your post is never boring to me, as I truly enjoy reading your post, i always love simple bakings due to time constraint being a working mum, keep up the good work.

  15. 照片好漂亮,颜色很搭很柔^^

  16. Mmmm, delicious muffins.

  17. Great post. Of coz we won't get bored of ur post. Personally I like ur writing style, very down to earth and sincere.

    Ur muffin looks yummy, may I know does it stay soft the next day?

    Oh ya, I usually open the pleats, holding the muffin with the liner.

  18. I like your blog... Simple and nice...

    May I know do I need to beat the eggs and sugar
    until creamy, then combine the rest of the ingredients?

  19. I like your posts and your blog and simple baking. Also. I eat my muffins--all of them--with salted butter spread on top. yea, i know...

  20. your muffin look so goooddd! mind delivering some to me?

  21. Hi, I have an award for you..Please check it out

  22. Am wondering who will say your posts and bakes are boring .. then if he/she stumble upon my blog, I think he/she will just go away after last 2nd post.

    Like what bakertan said, you made your bakes stand out. I also agree that everyone has their own preference and direction where they are heading .. I for one, goes for simple bakes .. you did not see me attempt layer cake, frosted cakes and hand mould bread .. more more kiasee than anyone of you out there? I think I also started baking 4 yrs ago and I did not even master nice photographs (still dare to say hahaha)

    Anyway, I always love simple recipes and I usually try to chk your archives first then SSB and AiMei and ... . recently I want to try my hand on cream cheese chocolate chip drop cookies and so far has no luck to find a recipe that uses "grm" (mostly use cup measurement which I hate to convert).

    Now I think I can do this two bowl muffin tmr nite.... so coincidence that my friend also baked chocolate chip cupcakes with recipe from joyofbaking. I still otang banana cake if following your trial. :-)

  23. I think simple is always best. Definitely not boring!

  24. I cut them in half, put a pat of butter on then nuke them.

  25. Your posts are definitely not boring! I'm guilty of the same thing as well, blogging about the simpler bakes, but I always try to bear in mind the readership I get, who are mostly new bakers and busy moms who would appreciate the no-fuss recipes. So don't worry about your posts! As they say, one man's food is another man's poison, so I'm pretty sure there are a lot more readers out there who love your posts just the way they are :)

  26. Hi Bakertan, thanks so much for your valuable comment. Really appreciate it! But sad to say, I don't have any dreams or have set any directions…I could only manage simple bakes that my family will enjoy to eat. So, maybe that is why I am still hanta-kaki-ing ;)

    The Sweetylicious, bread making is not as difficult, especially if you have a standing mixer. Do try it! But I must warn you, bread making is quite addictive :)

    Thanks Sem, I am glad to hear that you find the recipes I shared here useful.

    鲸鱼蓝蓝蓝 , 其实照片效果不是很好。。。我的老爷相机时日不多了。。。最近照片都朦朦粗粗的。。。

    Cook.Bake.Love, I am glad to hear that you don't find my writing boring! My command of Chinese is better than English, have never been able to write well ;p

    Anonymous, you do not need to beat the eggs and sugar till creamy. Just combine the liquid ingredients together, a few quick stir will do.

  27. Thanks Jes for passing the award to me :):)

    Sherlyn, your kids are still young, so naturally you won't have that much free time to dedicate to your hobbies. I think by next year, you will have more ME time to play around.

    thanks overhaven!! You are someone whom I really admire all these years…you have great talents! My simple cakes are a far cry from your simple cakes :)

  28. hi HHB ur blog is an inspiration to people like me who didnt knew what baking was untill a few years ago.It was after visiting ur blog that i bought an oven and started baking. you cheer so many novice bakers like me. keep the great work going.

  29. Hello, Happyhomebaker! May I know how long to preheat your oven? I just bought the same model but it takes me almost 2 hrs to bake a cake using top & bottom. Should I use the 3D function?

  30. Hi happy-bowl, thanks you for your kind words, I am really happy to know that you have also started baking :):)

    Zan, it takes about 10-15mins to preheat the oven if I use the top and bottom heat function, whereas for 3D hot air function, it is shorter around 10mins or so. Was the temperature setting correct? Did you use an oven thermometer to check the temperature? and for the first use, do you heat up the oven (empty) for an hour as stated in the instruction manual? Does the oven feel hot at all? It is very strange that it took 2hrs to cook a cake. Mine will usually be browned by 40mins.

  31. Hi HHB, i really enjoy reading yr blog. I feel that you do not need to worry abt yr post being boring (for some people) or your bakes being simple. This is afterall yr blog and e bakes r meant 4 yr loved ones (who apparently enjoy them ;-D), so why bother abt what others think? Keep up e wonderful bakes and the sincere posts!! 加油!

  32. Far from boring, HHB. I blogged to document my more successful recipes and reflect on the many that are not so ( so that I don't repeat mistakes ). The other reason was and still is, because I have problem writing about anything at all - notice my very short posts :)

    So when I stumbled upon your articles , I was like 'whoa !' because you see beyond mundane issues and can put them down in words elegantly.

    Definitely not boring !

  33. I would strip off the paper liners as I lazy to wash the spoon... hehehe

  34. dear hhb, i always find your posts inspiring and enjoyed all that you put up though sometimes i may be a bit late to come by. I think you shldnt be demotivated by certain comments made afterall everyone has their own right opinions and for me, totally NOT boring!! as for your quest, i wld take off the paper liner and eat them!!

  35. Hi HHB,
    Are the muffins supposed to be moist inside? I tried baking these today, but is a bit dry, think i overbaked it :(

    Yr blog is not boring at all, in fact i like most of yr recipes...just that i dun really have a lot of free time to bake as i have 2 preschool kids..but i will try to find time to bake the bread..they look so yummy....

  36. Cook.Bake.Love, the muffins stay moist till the next day, but I like to warm it in the oven before serving.

    Hi mj, I am not bothered or upset with the comment as I think it is very true ;) Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement :):)

    The Experimental Cook, nah, I can't write well...and I have very limited vocab ;p

    Angie, Thanks for trying the recipe! The muffins should be rather moist inside. So sorry, but I think you may have overbaked them.

  37. Hi HBB, it's been a while I leave comments but I do read each and every of your post!

    I do think that you're doing good! And it doesn't mean being fanciful is good, it's the thought, the warmth that is send through the bakes are more important. While fondant cakes look good and pretty, do you know they are not eaten at the end of the day? pple just remove the layer and eat the cake :)

    Keep going!

  38. These look great and are next on my must try list! I made some healthy cupcakes for my toddler too 'coz they always seem to be craving something chocolaty!


  39. Elyn, thanks for reading my blog, I know you have been extremely busy with work. Those fondant layer sounds like gift wrapper to me ;)

  40. You just saved my day! I was searching for what to bake at 7pm now, for my kids to bring to school tomorrow. My girl wanted chocolate cake, but I wanted to try something new. So this will be it!

  41. hi HHB, i tried 3 of ur receipes n its great! not too sweet as well. pls keep doing what u do, its lovely! i love that ur receipes r so simple and doable and saves so much time :)

  42. hi Lw, thanks so much for your kind words, I hope I can continue blogging as long as I can :)

  43. Hi, i need advise.i tried with this recipe but haha doesn look lik cupcake lools quite pale.i using convection oven

  44. hi, not sure whether my post is posted? cos it doesnt say succesful, hehe.
    hope it is successful, i have another problem that need advise. the bottom of my muffin is burnt.and it doesnt 'erupt' like urs so it dosnt look lik muffin.heheh HELP!

  45. Hi, maybe it has to do with your oven temperature/ Did you preheat the oven and do you use an oven thermometer to ensure that the temperature is correct? Are the heating elements located at the bottom of your oven? Could it be the reason why the bottom got burnt and the top was pale (under baked)? As every oven works different, you will have to test it, experiment with the temperature to get to know how you oven behaves. I am sure with more practice you will be able to bake a nice batch of muffins, hope this helps :)

  46. Yes the element is below,i preheat at 180°..so mayb the tray will b too heated fast aft i put in tray?mayb nxt time i put muffin on rack over tray to try.
    Oh i dun hav oven thermometer.

    Thks for replying.i will try again. :) hee ur blog is like my dictionary sia

  47. Thank you so much for this, my 6 yr old daughter have followed your simple & clear recipe & we have baked the muffins. They turned out fantastic & were really yummy. I never liked muffins as in UK the shop bought muffins are far too sweet. These ones are perfect! Can't wait to try some other flavoured muffins. Thanks once again. Love your blog! Inspired me to bake with my children :)

  48. Hi Mandy, sounds like you have lots of fun baking with your little princess :):)

  49. Keep it up Happy Homebaker! You have great recipes and easy to follow. I am still a butter kinda gal. May i know what is the equivalent amount of butter for this recipe? Thanks in advance.

  50. Hi Helen, I am sorry I do not know the exact equivalent amount, but I think u can try melt about 60g butter to get about 60ml of melted butter to replace the oil.