Monday 27 May 2013

breakfast or tea time

I couldn't keep them off my mind when I first saw these banana scones over at 小小米桶的寫食廚房. A quick run through the ingredients and I was convinced that it was going to be my next to-bake!

I had wanted to make these banana walnut scones for our weekend breakfast, but I woke up a tad too late (^^")

Since we were camping at home the entire weekend as my kids were cramming for their mid year exams...I baked the scones for our tea time treat instead.

It was an extremely hot and humid afternoon, not exactly a good weather for making scones since the butter has to be cold...nevertheless, everything went well and surprisingly, I was able to keep cool even in a hot kitchen.

The original recipe from the cookbook calls for sprinkling the top with vanilla sugar but 小小米桶 replaced it with lemon glaze. I had opted to skip the glaze and since I didn't have vanilla sugar either, I took the liberty to sprinkle the top with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar instead.

My sweat (no tears) did pay off...and really well indeed :)

I was rewarded with a kitchen filled with the wonderful aroma of banana, vanilla and cinnamon while the scones were baking. I must be grinning from ear to ear when I took the tray of scones out from the oven. I love the golden browned scones, all nicely puffed up, quite close to what I had in mind...albeit not as gorgeous as those shared by 小小米桶的寫食廚房.

My younger son kept hovering around the scones while they were cooling on the wire rack ;) I had to serve the scones once they were not too hot to touch. The banana, walnut plus hint of cinnamon was a great combo. The scones were so full of flavours and get everything in one bite...lovely sweet banana morsels, crunchy roasted walnut bits, buttery and fluffy crumbs, and the scent of cinnamon was really a nice touch...pretty much the icing on the cake...or rather scones!

I kept the leftovers in an air tight container for my mid morning tea break the next day. I warm them in the oven before serving and they taste just as good, although, really, nothing beats freshly baked scones, served straight from the oven!

Banana Walnut Scones

(makes 12)

200g cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
30g brown sugar (I used white caster sugar)
1/4 teaspoons salt
80g unsalted butter, Cold, cut into small cubes
80ml fresh milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g walnuts, coarsely chopped
135g banana (skin removed), diced into small cubes

extra 1 tablespoon milk for brushing

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)

  1. Lightly toast the chopped walnuts in a frying pan over low heat. Set aside to cool completely. 
  2. Sieve cake flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add in caster sugar, salt, whisk to combine.
  3. Place cold, diced unsalted butter into mixing bowl. With a fork or a dough scraper, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. (It is important that the butter be cold so when it is cut into the flour mixture it becomes small, flour-coated crumbs. If the butter starts to melt away during this process, stop and place the mixture in the freezer for 10-15 mins to prevent the butter from melting further. Continue the process when the mixture is well chilled.)
  4. Make a well in the centre and add in milk and vanilla extract. Give a few quick stir with a spatula. Add in the chopped walnuts and diced banana. Fold with a spatula just a few times to make the mixture comes together to form a shaggy mass.
  5. Gather up the mixture and place it on a lightly floured surface. Divide the mixture roughly into two portions. Dust hands with some flour. For each portion, gather and pat the mixture to form a combined dough. The dough will be soft, sticky and appear shaggy and lumpy. Do Not over work the dough. (Over handling the dough will cause gluten to develop, and the resulting scones will turn hard.)
  6. Place the two doughs (at least 2 inch apart) on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Pat down each dough to form a disk, with a thickness of at least 1 inch. Cut each dough into 6 portions (I used a dough scraper). Move each portions slightly apart leaving a small narrow gap in between each portion.
  7. Brush top with milk. Mix together ground cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle the top of the scones with the cinnamon sugar mixture (this is optional). 
  8. Bake in preheated oven at 180degC for 28mins or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool, serve warm.
*Scones are best served freshly baked. Any leftovers can be kept in airtight container. Brush or spray some water over the scones and warm them in the oven before serving.
*To enjoy freshly baked scones for breakfast and to save some time, Steps 1 to 3 can be prepared the night before, cover the mixture and leave to chill in the fridge. The following morning, preheat the oven and continue from Step 4 onwards.

Recipe source: adapted from here

Thursday 16 May 2013

Green Tea Chiffon

I doubt I'll ever get tired of baking and eating chiffon cakes. Inspired by my baking friend's matcha chiffon cake, I couldn't help but crave for one ;)

I followed the same recipe as what my friend did, which she has taken from the book Okashi Treats: Sweet Treats Made With Love by Keiko Ishida. Although I don't own this book I have seen the recipe posted by fellow blogger pal, Small Small Baker. It seems like a very popular recipe as I have also come across another beautiful creation by 鲸鱼蓝蓝蓝. As I am writing this post, another blogger pal, the Baking Scientist has also shared her matcha chiffon cake baked in cupcakes :)

I went ahead to adopt SSB's recipe since I am also using a 17cm or 7" tube pan. I guess I have over-beaten the egg whites a litte, the cake didn't rise as tall as my usual chiffon cakes. In fact, it started to shrink even before the baking time was up. By the time I took it out from the oven, the dome had already flat as the horizon! Either I have over-beaten the whites(which I thought I didn't) or it could be the existence of corn flour(which I doubt so), I had difficulties trying to fold and blend the meringue to the yolk batter. The finished batter was not as thick and voluminous as I have expected. Maybe it was the number of whites used...this recipe uses equal number of yolks and whites whereas the usual chiffon cake recipes I have followed call for an extra white.

Nevertheless, the texture was still soft and cottony. When I asked my younger child whether he liked it, he commented "好吃,不过没有味道"(loosely translated as, nice but not much flavour). How frank and yet very diplomatic! Either our taste buds were not functioning well or I should have used more matcha powder, the green tea flavour was not particularly prominent. The next time I were to make this, I will certainly add more matcha powder...but that has to wait, as I am now itching to try the same Kinako (Japanese soya bean powder) chiffon cake my baking friend has baked!

我一向来都不爱跟风,不过这次抵挡不住一股从四面飘来的绿茶戚风蛋糕香,也跟着做了一个‘绿油油’的戚风。不过我的功夫不到家, 蛋糕还没出炉就开始缩了。看来务必要花时间磨一磨刀子。还好蛋糕还是超绵,只是我嫌绿茶味不够浓,下次出手要重一点。可是现在又心痒痒想买包黃豆粉來玩玩 (^^")

Green Tea Chiffon Cake

(makes one 7" cake)

3 egg yolks (use large eggs)
10g caster sugar
35g vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
50g fresh milk (original recipe calls for water)
45g cake flour
6g matcha green tea powder

3 egg whites (use large eggs)
45g caster sugar
6g corn flour

  • Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. With a manual hand whisk, whisk the yolks a little. Add in sugar and whisk to combine. Add in vegetable oil gradually, whisk to combine. Add the fresh milk, whisk to combine. Sieve over the flour and matcha powder, whisk till the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside.
  • Mix the 45g caster sugar with the corn flour.
  • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add half of the sugar and corn flour mixture and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar mixture and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  • Add the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  • Pour batter into a 7" chiffon tube pan(do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 30 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, when lightly pressed the cake will spring back. Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.
Recipe source: adapted from here.

Friday 10 May 2013

Mango Chiffon Cupcakes

Cupcakes are something that I hardly ever make.

I prefer muffins since most cupcakes recipes calls for a lot more sugar and fat. But with my recent success with baking chiffon cakes in cups, I have adventured into baking a lighter version of cupcakes such as these mango chiffon cupcakes.

With mangoes found in abundance at this time of the year, I have been carting loads of Thai mangoes from the supermarket. I simply couldn't resist putting the fresh, blemishes-free fruits inside my basket each time I spot them at the fruits section ;)

I couldn't find any suitable mango chiffon cake recipe so I tweaked this cranberry yoghurt chiffon recipe as I reckoned that mango puree somewhat has the same consistency of yoghurt?

The mango chiffon turned out fabulous! The chiffon sponge rose high and mighty when they were baking in the oven...they were at least an inch above the rim, I'm not kidding! Unlike my previous attempt at baking chiffon cakes in square paper cups, the cake didn't crack all over which made them looked really like huat kuehs(steamed cakes). This time, with my usual round muffin paper cups, the 'high-rised' cakes reminded me of souffles or cakes topped with macaroons!

My younger child went 'woah!' when he first caught sight of the cupcakes in the oven...upon closer scrutiny he went 'oh dear! oh dear!' when the batter appeared to be in danger of overflowing anytime. I told him matter-of-factly, "Don't worry, they will deflate upon cooling." "Why?" he asked. "Hmmm...because when it is hot, it expands, when it is cold, it contracts. The air bubbles inside the cake batter expands during baking, and contracts or pops when cooled. The cake will collapse and sink." I don't know whether my answer is correct but he was happy with it, lol.

With the well baked chiffon cakes, I went on to prepare the filling cum frosting. The filling or frosting on the cupcakes is a mixture of whipping cream, yoghurt and fresh mangoes. It is much lighter than buttercream and taste a lot like ice cream. Well, it has to be since I have followed this mango yoghurt ice cream recipe :)

Just like Hokkaido chiffon cupcakes, I have filled the inside of each cupcake with the mango frosting. Although the texture is a bit denser than chiffon cakes baked in a tube pan, it still taste light and very refreshing...the mango flavour is very prominent even without any artificial flavourings. These cupcakes are certainly less sinful than butter cupcakes...but, that is, as long as you can refrain from eating a few at one go, lol!

I shall end my post with my favourite picture of theses chiffon the nice wrinkles on top.

I doubt I will ever fall out of love with Baking.

Baking is Amazing...Baking is Fun!

Happy Baking everyone!

Mango Chiffon Cupcakes

(makes 10 cupcakes)

for the chiffon cupcakes:
3 egg yolks (use large eggs)
25g caster sugar
50ml vegetable oil
100g fresh mangoes (use sweet, well ripened mangoes)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
80g cake flour

4 egg whites (use large eggs)
55g caster sugar

for the filling/frosting:
80g fresh mangoes (use sweet, well ripened mangoes)
25g caster sugar
75g mango flavoured yoghurt (I used peach and mango flavour)
125ml non-dairy whipping cream


to make the cupcakes:
  • Blend 100g mangoe flesh till smooth. Set aside.
  • Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. With a manual hand whisk, whisk the yolks a little. Add in sugar and whisk to combine. Add in vegetable oil gradually, whisk to combine. Add the mango puree, lemon juice, whisk to combine. Sieve over the flour and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside.
  • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add half of the sugar amount and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  • Add the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  • Spoon batter into paper cups till it reaches the rim. Place paper cups onto baking tray and bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 12~15 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely. (Note: the cupcakes will rise well above the rim during baking, but will shrink upon cooling.)
to make the filling/frosting:
  • Blend mango flesh, sugar, yoghurt until the mixture becomes smooth. 
  • With an electric mixer, whisk non-dairy whipping cream till stiff. Fold in the whipped cream to the mango mixture. Blend thoroughly.
to assemble:
  • Fit piping bag with a piping tip, fill the bag with the filling. Gently push the piping tip into the centre of each cupcake and fill the inside with the filling. Then pipe the whipped cream on top of the cupcake.
  • Leave to chill in the fridge before serving.
Recipe source: chiffon cupcakes adapted from 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手, 福田淳子

Saturday 4 May 2013

Simple Chocolate Tart

I had wanted to make a banana cream pie using the left over tart crust from making the matcha cheesecake tart. However, I had to reserve my whipping cream for a batch of mango hokkaido cupcakes which I had planned to bake for my baking kaki (kaki refers to friend, buddy).

A quick glance through my ever growing list of to-dos, I settled on this simple chocolate tart recipe taken from my current favourite cookbook...Home Baking 星期天的烘焙时光 (loosely translated as Baking on a Sunday).

This chocolate tart is made simply by pouring chocolate ganache onto a pre-baked tart crust, and then decorated with some chopped pistachios. Since I have made the dough pastry earlier all I had to do was to thaw the frozen dough in the fridge (over night), this saves me one step of making the dough from scratch :)

The original recipe requires dairy whipping cream or heavy cream to make the chocolate ganache. I was very reluctant to get a tub of dairy cream just for this, as I always have problem finishing the leftovers. This caused me to switch on my 'experimental mode'....why not substitute the heavy cream with milk ? I had great success making homemade chocolate fondue with low fat milk (see here) I was confident that it would work the same for this chocolate tart.

I did a search online and learned that milk can be used to make chocolate ganache, as long as some butter is added. Bingo! What a coincident that this chocolate filling also requires butter! And, the rest is history...

I shall let the following pictures speak for themselves...

Since I couldn't make a banana cream pie, I had, on purpose, used banana flavoured low fat milk to make the chocolate filling. Even with untrained palate, my younger child was able to detect the strong banana flavour in the chocolate tart. Well, I am not sure whether this is actually a good thing as it means that the milk is loaded with too much artificial flavouring!

Following the instructions in the recipe, I had also added some Kahlua coffee liqueur to the chocolate filling. With an equally untrained palate, I wasn't able to tell whether a tart is spiked with alcohol, lol. The only difference I could detect was, the filling was slightly bitter after I added in the Kahlua...but there wasn't any coffee taste to it. Either the amount of liqueur used is too little or its presence was overshadowed by the chocolate or the banana flavoured milk.

Nevertheless, this simple tart serves as a delightful dessert...something I will certainly make again. Nothing beats a homemade tart crust that perfectly complements the smooth and velvety chocolate filling (with just the right consistency, not too runny and not too firm)...and not forgetting the will never go wrong matching nuts with chocolate!

Chocolate Tart
(makes an 18cm tart)


for the tart crust:
(Note: the ingredient makes 2 tart crust dough, you may freeze the second dough up to 2 weeks for later use).
150g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, softened at room temperature
80g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten (about 55g without shell, use room temperature egg)
250g cake flour
60g ground almond (almond powder)

for the filling:
120g dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used bittersweet mini chocolate chips)
30g unsalted butter
85ml fresh milk (I used banana flavoured low fat milk)
2 teaspoons Kahlua coffee liqueur (omit if not available)

some chopped pistachios for decorating


to make the tart crust:
  • Lightly grease an 18cm tart pan (with removable base) with butter, set aside.
  • Toast almond powder at 100 degC for 10 mins. Stirring in between. Let cool.
  • Beat sugar and butter with a ballon whisk until the mixture turns pale. Add the egg gradually (a tablespoon at a time), mix well after each addition. Add the ground almond and fold with a spatula. Sieve over the flour. Mix with spatula and gather the mixture with hand to form a soft dough.
  • Weigh and divide the dough into 2 egual portion. Flatten the dough to form a round disc. Place each dough into separate ziplock or plastic bags. Leave one of the doughs to chill for about 1 hour. Store the other dough in the freezer compartment for later use for other types of tarts. (Note: Alternatively, you may divide the crust ingredients into half and make only 1 portion).
  • Remove dough from fridge and roll out the dough in between 2 sheets of baking paper (I used two plastic sheets cut-out from clear plastic bags) to about 23cm in diameter. Remove one side of the baking paper/plastic sheet. Gently lift up the other sheet of baking paper/plastic (with the pastry dough still on it) and flip the dough over the prepared tart pan. Remove the baking paper/plastic sheet. (Don't worry if some parts of the dough broke off. It can be moulded easily back into the tart pan.) Mould the dough into the tart pan, smoothing the edges and the rim carefully.
  • Prick the dough surface with a fork (this helps to prevent the pastry from puffing up when baking). Cover and chill the moulded tart crust in the fridge for 20mins (this helps to prevent the pastry from shrinking too much after baking.)
  • Line a sheet of parchment paper over the tart base. Place baking beads/weights on the parchment paper (I used green beans as baking weights), enough to cover the tart base.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 20 mins. Remove the baking beads and parchment paper. Put it back into the oven and continue to bake for another 15~20mins until the crust is golden browned. Let cool completely. Leave the crust inside the tart pan, do not unmould.
to make the filling:
  • Place milk and butter in a saucepan, bring to a simmer. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat. Add in finely chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) and leave it for about 1 min. Stir until all the chocolate melts and the mixture becomes smooth. Leave to cool. Add in Kahlua, stir to combine.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart. Chill the tart in the fridge until the chocolate mixture is set. Unmould tart and decorate with chopped pistachios as desired. 
Recipe source: 甜点新手零失败教室 and Home Baking 星期天的烘焙时光