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. ^^

Along the way, 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