Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Banana chocolate chip petit cakes

My Chubby piggy loves the combination of banana and chocolate chip. I think it's a winning combo amongst kids.. probably because of the choc chips! ^^

When it comes to banana cakes, I love using Agnes Chang's recipe.. of course, with a few tweaks here and there ^^. Her recipes are easy to follow and pretty fail-proof for amateur bakers like me, and they're yummy too.

Banana cake (adapted from Agnes Chang's I Can Bake book)
~ makes an 8-inch cake, or 14 cupcakes and a small loaf cake
227g unsalted butter
170g sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups of mashed bananas
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
240g cake or plain flour, sifted
1 scant tsp baking powder, sifted
1 scant tsp baking soda, sifted
150g chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes on an electric mixer.

3. Add eggs one at a time till well mixed, on low speed.

4. Fold in mashed bananas.

5. Sift flours together and mix into the cake batter alternating with milk in 2 or 3 batches. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips.

6. Pour into lined cupcake tins or greased cake tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes for cupcakes, and about 50 minutes for a whole cake.

When I first started baking cakes, there's always a 50-50 chance they turned out dense and kuih-like ^^||. That's when I tried all methods, and re-discovered the egg separation method (a method favored by my aunt who fanned my taste for such cakes).. and also the use of self-raising flour.

Recipes using flour, baking powder and baking soda, stumped and eluded me. So I resorted to replacing them with self-raising flour. Of course by now, after many misses and trials, I know what I did wrong.. AND now, I SIFT my FLOUR/S TOGETHER for at least 3 times!!! Yup, so simple, right??! Also so simple for lazy people like me to miss and skip, haha!

This is the outcome of the direct, easy method of mixing in eggs. Texture is as beautiful, soft and moist as the eggs separation method. A minor, almost unnoticeable difference is that this cake has a slightly sandy-crumbs look. And though both are soft, the egg separation method gives a slightly spongey, wee QQ@boing-boing effect. Seriously, most people can't tell the difference.. not even my piggies who have been fed cakes using eggs separation method. Only the nit-picky.. like me, haha! ^^

Well, it has been good babysitting Chubby. We managed to cook instant noodles, fried rice and french toast together. I'm so proud of my Chubby, he made french toast for his parents after learning it. I think he's a natural ^^

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Abso-licious apple pie!

My piggies' all time favorite treat ~ revisited! ^^

Can't believe it's been 2 years since I last made apple pie! Well, that's 'cos big and baby pig's mom makes the best apple pie.. so I steer clear of this bake. But since chubby pig is visiting and he doesn't get apple pie very much, I decided to make some for him. ^^

I've always wanted to make a latticed top crust, but I've never gotten it right ^^ll.. this time I used a ruler to make the strips after getting the idea from a baking show on tv. And success at last! Er, I know it's not exatly pretty and it's far from perfect, but at least, I'm half way there!  ^^

I used the same easy peasy apple pie recipe from martha stewart and smitten kitchen for the crust and used fuji apples for the filling because of its crunch. I don't care for green apples as I prefer a naturally sweetish pie which we usually eat as it is, sans vanilla ice cream most times! ^^

Well, there's nothing like having freshly baked, warm apple pie! Chubby was in seventh-heaven! He loves the flaky buttery crust and the gorgeous simple filling! ^^ "This is the best apple pie I've had!".. so chubby said. Er, well, he's not had that many to compare with, of course, haha! ^^

Now if the ultimate apple pie connoisseurs (big and baby), say it is.. then you'd better believe it! They have after all, been fed only the best apple pies! And they love this apple pie!

Poor fatty hubby.. there was none left for him. And boy, was he miffed. Sorry fatty, I'll make sure to make more next time! ^^

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Orange chiffon cake ~ I love!

Oranges are so fragrant and sweet lately, they make exceptionally good cakes!

And that's why I made orange chiffon cake twice last week, despite the heat! They taste so refreshing and light.. absolutely perfect for the scorching conditions we have been experiencing lately.

This is my to-go recipe for all my chiffon bakes, a recipe shared by sonia@nasilemaklover. I have been using her fail-proof recipe as base, and I've had success every time. I hope whoever reads this, will give her recipe a shot, especially those who have trouble with chiffon cakes, like I used to. ^^

Since being able to make chiffon cakes with success, I've learned a few things:

1. Beating egg whites till stiff means beating on medium speed (electric handheld mixer speed 3) for 4-5 minutes, no less than that, nor any longer.

2. Using grapeseed oil (a more neutral oil) gives a better fragrance and produces a lighter cake than using corn oil.

3. You CAN unmould chiffon cakes using your hands instead of cutting or sawing (^^||!) your cake out! Check out this link. You CAN have a beautifully unmoulded cake! ^^

4. Use cake flour. And sift them at least twice!

5. If baking cake using a single baking tin, cake can be baked in a preheated oven of 170C  (WITHOUT fan -forced) for 40-45 minutes. Set or use fan -forced oven only when baking using multiple baking tins.

6. There's no need to grease the tins! EVER!!! ^^

Sonia has mentioned "unmoulding chiffon cake using bare hands" method before in her posts, and I've been looking out for it ever since (I may have even missed it without realizing ^^||!!!). And of course, lazy me, just kept on waiting and waiting... Last week, after cutting and sawing a big chunk off and making a mess out of one of my bakes, it finally occurred to me I could just easily google the method up (duh??!!!)..oops, haha! ^^

Orange chiffon cake (recipe adapted from nasilemaklover)
5 egg yolks
20g sugar
zest of 1 orange
90g orange juice (not enough? just top up with water ^^)
70g grapeseed oil (this is a lighter and more neutral tasting oil compared to corn oil)
125g cake / low protein flour, SIFTED
5 egg whites
90g sugar
1 tsp lemon juice / 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar till light (from yellow to pale yellow).

2. Add in orange juice and zest, and mix well.

3. Add oil and mix till combined.

4. Fold in sifted flour till well mixed.

5. In another bowl, beat egg whites and lemon juice/cream of tartar till foamy. Add sugar bit by bit, and continue beating the egg whites till STIFFABOUT 4-5 MINUTES on an electric hand mixer at speed 3!!!

6. Take 1/3 of the meringue and add to the cake mixture. Mix well by using a SPATULA. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue into the cake mixture. It's ok if there's still some swirls or small bubbles of meringue left in the cake mixture.

7. Pour mixture into a clean (NON-greased!!) 20-cm chiffon tin. Tap the cake tin on the counter once to remove air trapped in the batter.

8. Bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 40-45 minutes. If baking in mutiple baking tins, use FAN-FORCED oven at 160C for 40-45 minutes

9. Remove from oven and turn the cake tin upside down and leave to cool completely. Unmould cake by running a sharp knife against the sides, or by bare-hands method ^^.

For an easy, light and refreshing cake to counter the heat, look no further! An orange chiffon cake fits the bill perfectly! ^^

* updated on 11th july 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fabulicious easy raspberry & blueberry muffins@cupcakes ^^

These are no muffins ^^!

They maybe called muffins by the originator of this recipe, but they're really mini cakes or cupcakes! Hence they taste absolutely, perfectly fabulicious, as a fluffy, moist cake should! And better! ^^

I always steer clear from muffins because of previous experiences with store bought ones ~ dry, dry, drier and dense! Maybe it's been sitting on the counter for too long, but most likely because of the low fat content, the use of veg oil and no-butter that puts me off.

This recipe uses butter ^^. The ratio of butter to flour and sugar is just like that of a butter cake.. and it uses the creaming method.. so I know these are no muffins! ^^

Raspberry & blueberry muffins (recipe shared by mel@melspantrykitchen, from jessie-cookingmoments)
~ makes 10 muffins
150g unsalted butter, softened
120g sugar (100g is good enough for me) 
2 eggs
60g cream (I replaced with milk)
zest of 1 lemon (or orange)
140g of cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
a pinch of salt
40g almond meal
2 tbsp milk
65g raspberries 
65g blueberries (extras won't hurt ^^)

1. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Add in eggs one at a time till well mixed. Add the cream (if using) and lemon zest.

3. Fold in the sifted flour, baking powder, salt and almond meal till well combined.

4. Add milk (+ the 60g milk here, if using) till well mixed, and add in the berries.

5. Bake in preheated oven of 160C for 30 minutes. 

This is the 2nd time I'm making this recipe. The 1st time I just used blueberries and made half the recipe.. and fatty hubby and I finished the 5 muffins in a blink! This time round, I'm not holding back. Since I had some over-ripe raspberries, I added them too. Both bakes were fabuliciously delicious! The texture was perfectly soft and oh-so moist and super-loaded with berries! However, I'm swaying a little to the ones with just blueberries in it ^^

And don't be put off by how pale my muffins look. They should be nicely golden brown, but mine turned out pale both times.They are however, yummylicious every time! Thanks, mel! This is a super-duper good bake! We can't stop eating it! Maybe it will last till breakfast since I made the full recipe ^^

Mini cakes disguised as muffins! We love! ^^ ^^ ^^

Monday, June 23, 2014

World's best cake ^^

Seriously? Can you hear "make me, make me, make me..!"? ^^ That's what I immediately wanted to do!

But after "rationally" thinking it over.. er, the sugar content was kind of a wake up call (!), I decided this cake needed the right occasion and person to justify making it! And it's my sweet lovin' chubby pig who gets to be my guinea pig this time round, hehe! He turns 12 today! ^^

World's best cake (recipe by sweet paul)
~ serves 8
10 1/2 tbsp (150g) butter, softened
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar (I reduced to 3/4 recipe ^^)
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup whole milk (greedy me used  1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (a little more won't hurt)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/ tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Line an 8x12-inch baking tin with parchment paper. Since I did not have a baking tin of that size, I made do with a 7x10 inch tin and a medium loaf tin.. maybe using a 9x13 tin would be better?

2. Beat butter and 2/3 (or 1/2) cup sugar till light and creamy, about 3 minutes.

3. Add sifted flour and baking powder, and mix well on low speed.

4. Mix in the egg yolks and milk.

5. Place the batter into the baking tin/s.

6. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites (if using pasteurised egg whites, do add some lemon juice or cream of tartar!) and the remaining sugar (3/4 cup) to soft peaks. Spread on top of cake batter and sprinkle almond slices over.

7. Bake for 30 minutes. When the meringue is golden brown and puffed, remove from oven and leave to cool.

8. When the cake is cool, prepare to whip the cream with the scraped vanilla seeds (discard pod). Beat to soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

9. To assemble the cake, cut the cake into half crosswise with a serrated knife. Place one half of the cake on a serving tray and cover with whipped cream. Place the other half, meringue side up, on top of it.

10. Leave to cool in the fridge/chiller for at least 1 hour before serving.

Yeah, yeah.. the cake should be in 2 layers, I know ^^|| But for chubby, I decided that a layer is good enough. I'm quite afraid a 2 layer cake won't withstand the drive to chubby's. I'm only sending it later in the evening when I can bear to go out. I do hope he likes it! ^^

And no, I haven't had any yet.. the weather's so unbelievably hot! hot! hot!, I want my cakes properly chilled and cold!!! ^^||||| I will give my verdict and update once I've had some.. just look out for it right at the end of this post! ^^

Happy birthday, chubby! xoxo world's best kuku ^^ ^^ ^^

Updated 24th June 2014:
Ho ho! This is a delicious cake! World's best? Definitely one of the best ^^ it's like having really good yellow cake with light fluffy frosting ~ the combination of cake, fluffy meringue, light whipped cream and toasted almond slices is totally perfect in the mouth! Yums! ^^

The only gripe I have with this cake is the meringue ~ i dislike the eggy taste/smell.. however, it's totally unnoticeable when you eat it with the cake, whipped cream and toasted almonds! I should have persisted with my pasteurized egg whites that wouldn't whip! I now know it's not impossible to do it, just have to add some lemon juice or cream of tartar, and continue beating madly, haha!

Well, this cake befits its title. Certainly one of the best tasting ^^ Perfect eaten chilled on a hot day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chocolate cupcake with nutella swiss meringue buttercream ^^

This is a little surprise for my piggies. Mainly to celebrate Big pig finishing his AP exams.

My Big will be off to college in August.. and I'm still coming to terms with him leaving the coop so soon. He is, after all, my first love.. pure and unconditional.. and at first sight too. I'm a little sad.. a little.. Someone just told me not to cry when he leaves.. I will try my best. I have a pretty loose crying duct.

Moist chocolate cake (adapted from Agnes Chang, let's eat)
~ makes 12 cupcakes & a 6-inch round cake
220g sugar (it's perfect for me at 180g ^^) 
250ml milk
1 tsp instant coffee
250g unsalted butter
3 eggs
135g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
some nutella, optional

1. Place sugar, milk and instant coffee in a saucepan and heat till sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir till melted. Leave to cool.

2. Fold in eggs one at a time into the cooled milk mixture. Or use egg separation method for bouncy light cakes!

3. Sift flours and cocoa powder together and mix into the egg mixture.

4. Pour into cupcake liners and bake at 170C for 25 minutes. Or a greased cake tin for 40-45 minutes, or till skewer comes out clean.

5. When the cupcakes are cool, fill cake with nutella (place in piping bag with nozzle) by pushing the piping nozzle into the centre of the cake and pipe in filling.. this is optional ^^ Spread leftover nutella jam on cake if you like ^^

Nutella swiss meringue buttercream (adapted from the cakemerchant)
~ frosts 12 cupcakes
3 egg whites
75g sugar
227g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup nutella

1. Put egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof bowl over a pan/pot of simmering water (without bottom of bowl touching the water). Whisk egg whites and sugar till sugar melts (rub mixture between fingers, if mixture is no longer grainy (smooth) to the touch, it's ready ^^). Remove from heat.

2. Whisk egg whites mixture till white, fluffy and glossy for about 10 minutes.

3. Add diced butter bit by bit into the mixture. If mixture curdles, just continue whisking till it all comes together again. It always does, just be patient ^^.

4. Add vanilla extract and nutella till well combined. Place in the fridge if buttercream is too soft, and beat for a bit if it's too stiff straight out from chilling.

These cupcakes are inspired by rima@bisouatoi ~ I saw her gorgeous chocolate cupcakes with nutella swiss meringue buttercream and a piece of ferrero rocher chocolate on facebook ~ and I knew these would be perfect for piggies! Never mind that all my piggies are not that big on chocolate desserts.. they are sure to fall for the ferrero rocher trick! Haha!

I haven't made anything fancy or frosting for some time.. I hope piggies will like this treat ^^

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Longan milk jelly ~ perfect wobble, smooth yet firm ^^

Yay! Finally! After almost 2 months of water rationing, it feels GREAT to get our lives back to normal again! ^^

It has been so hard to bake or cook during the past 2 months, with only a ONE-day window of opportunity of water supply, in between 3 days of no-water. Lucky (or unluckily, depending on how you see it) for us, our apartment tank water lasted almost 2 days. So we had no water only for a day. Of course, I've heard of some apartments' tank water lasting throughout the water-blackout, oh, lucky them! If only our apartment residents were more prudent and conscientious, it would have lasted longer I suppose!

You have no idea how much I wished everyone did all their chores, cooking and laundry on that ONE-day, and saved water for only the ALL-IMPORTANT bathing and toilet use for the rest of the "no-water" days. That would have made things so much better! If only everyone thought the same.. am I too extreme? Nawhhhhh... ^^

Longan milk jelly (adapted from mybaking)
~ makes a lot! ^^
3 tsp agar-agar powder
130-140g sugar
2 litres of water (1 can of longan syrup and top up with water)
10 pandan leaves (optional ~ I didn't ^^)
1 can of evaporated milk (400g)
1-2 cans of longan

1. Bring agar-agar powder, sugar and longan syrup+water to a boil.

2. Once boiled, add evaporated milk and again bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and leave to cool for about 8-10 minutes.

3. Strain/sieve mixture before use. Place a piece of longan into each mould and fill with mixture.

4. Chill thoroughly or at least 3-4 hours before serving. Serve immediately.

If you're looking for the perfect wobble, smoothest soft yet firm-enough jelly pudding ever, look no further!!! Mybaking has really nailed the perfect recipe! ^^ Though I'm not too certain about the high amount of sugar in her recipe ^^|| I reduced to more than half because of the addition of longan syrup, and it was more than sweet for us. Even without the longan syrup, I think halving the sugars (from 300g to 150g) is not a problem, unless you have a super-sweet tooth! ^^

Happy days ahead! ^^ ^^ ^^ ~~~~~~

I'm submitting this post to Little Thumbs up (May 2014: Milk) organised by Bake For Happy Kids, and My Little Favourite DIY, hosted by Tze of Awayofmind Bakery House