Saturday 30 August 2014

easy banana cupcakes

This must be one of the easiest banana cake I have ever baked. I adapted the recipe from a banana cake which I posted way back when I first started baking and blogging.

I didn't want to make a full size cake so I halved the recipe and turned them into cupcakes. I had also taken the liberty to replace some of the ingredients with whatever I had on hand and kept my fingers crossed that the cupcakes would at least be edible!

I filled 12 small paper cases with batter almost to the brim and all of them rose beautifully upon baking and none had batter spilled over, phew! The batter was not as thick and I had expected some overflow but all went well :)

Making these little banana cakes is almost like making a batch of muffins. There is no creaming of butter or beating eggs with a mixer. Everything is done with ease, a few quick stir here and there is all that is required.

These easy banana cupcakes are really very good, I didn't expect the recipe to be so forgiving. The crumbs are tender, moist and filled with banana flavour. It is very satisfying and rewarding to be able to bake something on a whim with whatever available and especially when the bakes turn out delicious and are well received. Well, to me, there's the wonder and joy of baking...putting separate elements together to create wonderful feelings and moments to treasure.

Banana and Chocolate Chips Cupcakes

(makes 12 cupcakes)
size of paper case 43mm(base diameter) x 60mm(top diameter) x 39mm(height) 

150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 large egg
100g caster sugar
45g vegetable oil
60ml fresh milk
200g mashed banana (about 2 medium size bananas, use over ripped ones)
40g mini chocolate chips

  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 180 degC. 
  • In a bowl, stir together plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, with a balloon whisk, whisk the egg until blended. Add in the sugar, vegetable oil and milk, whisk to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches alternately with the mashed bananas, and stir with the balloon whisk * until just blended. Do not over mix. (*note: for ease in mixing, change to a spatula at the last addition of dry ingredients.)  
  • Add the mini chocolate chips, fold with spatula to just combined.
  • Spoon batter into paper muffin cases. Arrange filled muffin cases on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 25mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool on a wire rack. Store in airtight container at room temperatures for 2-3 days.

Thursday 7 August 2014

steamed pork and vegetables buns 菜肉包子

It has been a while since my last post. For the past month I was too engaged planning for a short trip...and as usual, after returning from my getaway, I was kept busy with unpacking and getting back to the mundane routines.

Today I will like to share with you my experience in making chinese bao, or steamed buns. Although I have made steamed buns with red bean paste, this is the first time I have tried making steamed pork buns. I have to give myself a pat on my shoulders as it is quite a challenge to make chinese steamed buns especially this type which requires the buns to be wrapped by pleating.

I followed a straight forward recipe from this cookbook 孟老师的中式面食 mainly because after watching the demo video by the author, with the clear instructions, I felt I should be game enough to take up the challenge ;)

Since it was my maiden attempt, the buns were not well wrapped, some turned out super ugly. This particular one, in fact the last bun I wrapped out of the batch was the fairest of them all. Practice does make perfect!

The wrapping was not that difficult as the dough was quite easy to work with, not sticky nor too soft or slack. The pleats I made were not distinct enough and most of it disappeared after the buns were steamed.

The batch of buns with varied 'styles'...not done on purpose though...each one turned out 'unique' due to the lack of skills. The recipe calls for plain flour or all-purpose flour, since I used bleached plain flour, the buns weren't too yellowish.

I steamed the buns in a bamboo steamer. It was a good decision to get it even though I know I wouldn't use it too often. The bamboo steamer fits perfectly in my wok. The cover helps to absorbs water moisture so that condensed water droplets will not fall onto the buns during the steaming process. Furthermore, the steamer will give off a wonderful bamboo aroma once it gets heated up.

These chinese pork and vegetable buns do not taste like those local bak bao (pork buns). They are closer to those I had in Beijing such as the 庆丰包子 or 天津狗不理包子. To my family, these buns are really delicious. The skin is soft and has a slight chew while the fillings is juicy and flavourful. The texture of the pork fillings is not comparable to local bao available here. The local pork bun has a better bite and smoother texture whereas for these buns, the fillings reminds me of chinese dumplings, jiaozi 饺子.

Enjoying a tray of piping hot steamed pork buns over a pot of chinese pu-er tea certainly brings back fond memories of the few winters we spent in Beijing.

Steamed Pork and Vegetables Buns (菜肉包子)

(makes 10)

for filling:

200g cabbage
3 stalks spring onions, finely chopped
200g minced pork
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons juice/water squeezed from cabbage*
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon white grounded pepper
2 tablespoons sesame oil

for dough:
250g plain flour
3g instant dry yeast (about 3/4 teaspoon)
15g caster sugar
135g water
5g oil (about 1 teaspoon)


for the filling:
  • Wash cabbage, chop finely, squeeze out the water (with hand). Reserve 3 tablespoons of the water*. Mix in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the cabbage, set aside.
  • Place minced meat in a small mixing bowl. Add salt and add in a little water (squeezed from the cabbage). With a pair of chopsticks stir constantly in the same direction till the water is fully absorbed. Continue to add in the remaining water, a little at a time, stirring with the chopsticks in the same direction. With each addition, make sure water is fully absorbed before adding more water.
  • Add in soya sauce, stir with chopsticks in the same direction, mix well.
  • Add in grated ginger, sugar, pepper, stir with chopsticks in the same direction, mix well.
  • Add in remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, stir with chopsticks in the same direction, mix well. 
  • Add in finely chopped spring onions, cabbage, mix well.
  • Leave to chill in fridge for 1 hour.
for the dough:
  • Place all the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix together to form a rough dough. Dust work surface with some flour, transfer dough to work surface and knead by hand till smooth (about 10 minutes). Cover dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • Roll dough into a cylindrical/log shape, cut into 10 equal portions. Place each dough, cut side up, flatten to form small discs. With a rolling pin, roll out each disc to about 10~12cm round disc with the edges thinner and centre portion thicker (do not roll the dough too thin).
  • Wrap the dough with filling (the filling is just enough for 10 portions as the dough ratio is about 1:1). Place bun on a square piece of parchment paper (I used cupcakes paper liners). Cover loosely with cling wrap and leave buns to proof for 15 mins.
  • Place buns in a steamer and space them apart so that they do not touch one another. Steam at high heat for 12mins (make sure the water is already boiling before steaming).
  • Turn off the heat and leave the lid slightly open for 3~5 mins before removing the whole lid. Serve warm. Keep any leftovers in fridge (covered with cling wrap or store in airtight containers) and re-steam till hot before serving.
Recipe source: 孟老师的中式面食 watch video here


200克 高丽菜/包菜
3根 葱, 切细
200克 绞肉
1/2小匙 盐
3大匙 水/菜汁*
1大匙 酱油
1/2小匙 姜泥
1/4小匙 细砂糖
1/4小匙 白胡椒粉
2大匙 白麻油

250克 中筋面粉
3克 即溶酵母
10克 细砂糖
水 135克
5克 食油

  • 高丽菜洗净, 切碎, 挤干水份 (留3大匙菜汁备用*), 加入1大匙白麻油搅匀, 备用
  • 将盐加入绞肉, 水(菜汁)以少量多次方式加入, 用筷子以同一方向将水分搅入绞肉中, 让水份完全被绞肉吸收后才继续加水。
  • 加入酱油, 用筷子以同一方向搅匀
  • 加入姜泥, 细砂糖, 白胡椒粉, 用筷子以同一方向搅匀
  • 加入1大匙白麻油, 用筷子以同一方向搅匀
  • 拌入切细的葱, 包菜, 搅拌均匀后冷藏一小时备用。
  • 将所有材料混合至松散状的面团
  • 面团移至工作台上,用手搓揉成光滑状
  • 将面团放置在室温下松驰约5分钟

  • 将面团分割成10等份
  • 每个小面团擀成中间厚周围薄的面皮,直径约10~12厘米(面皮不要擀太薄)
  • 将馅料填在包子皮内 (馅料和包子皮的量是1:1)
  • 将包好的包子放在防粘蜡纸上, 放入蒸笼内, 盖上盖子, 进行最后发酵, 约15分钟。
  • 锅中放冷水, 烧热至沸腾, 放上蒸笼, 大火蒸约12分钟。
  • 时间到熄火后,先将蒸笼稍微掀开一条小缝,待3~5分钟后,再完全打开蒸笼,取出。