Monday, 7 November 2011

To satisfy a little craving

I've not been able to get THIS ice-cream anywhere at home, and yet was craving the boozy flavours of rum and raisin. The next best thing was to bake a cake with these flavours. However, I didn't want slices of anything... more like moist little morsels to pop into the mouth with a cup of hot tea on the side. So here's what I baked-up.

Moist and boozy on the inside

RUM, RAISIN & VANILLA BUNS

170g Butter, room temperature
115g Caster Sugar
225g Self-Raising Flour
3 Eggs, large
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
Vanilla Beans scrapped from 1 Vanilla Pod
125g seedless Raisins, chopped small
8 tablespoons dark Rum

Chop Raisins, place in a container and pour in 7 tablespoons of the Rum. Let it soak overnight. Preheat oven at 120 Celsius. Line a medium-sized cupcake tin with cupcake cases. With an electric mixer, cream Butter and Sugar with both types of Vanilla until pale. About 2 minutes. Mix in Eggs one by one beating well after each addition. Fold in Flour by hand until just absorbed into the mixture. Fold in the soaked Raisins, including the Rum from the container as well as the remainder 1 tablespoon of Rum. Half fill the cupcake cases with the cake batter. Place the cupcake tin into the oven and increase temperature to 160 Celsius for about 20 - 25 minutes once a skewer inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Repeat with the next cupcake tin until all the cake batter is used up. Let it cool in the tin. Store in airtight containers.


Brown Butter Shortbread



After my success with the other shortbread, I made this recipe which I found on Lottie + Doof. I'm not sure yet how Toad liked this one, but it was a hit with K from the office. K said it would be lovely to eat dipped into a cup of strong, hot coffee. He also said that it was better than the other one. I'll let you be the judge of that. As for me, this is another winner from Alice Medrich.

BROWN BUTTER SHORTBREAD
Adapted from Lottie + Doof

180g unsalted Butter
90g Dark Muscovado Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
180g Plain Flour
Turbinado, Demerara or Granulated Sugar for sprinkling

Melt Butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Let it simmer on low fire until the butter turn a little brown and you can see some light brown specks at the bottom. The liquid should smell like toasted nuts and caramel. Once it does, remove saucepan from the heat and immediately place on a wet cloth to stop the cooking.

Remove from heat and stir in Salt, Sugar and Vanilla Essence. Fold in Flour with a wooden spoon. Mix gently until a soft dough forms. Pat into a round or rectangular fluted baking tin with a removable bottom and leave to stand overnight. When ready to bake, switch the oven on to 150 Celsius.

Place the baking tin on a baking tray (just in case some of the butter leaks out from the bottom during baking). Bake the shortbread for about 45 -50 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the extra Sugar and let it cool for about 10 minutes. 

Remove shortbread from the tin carefully to avoid breaking it and cut the shortbread into squares or wedges. Place on a lined baking tray apart from each other and return to the oven for 15 - 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Note
Making brown butter can take a little time. As long as you remember to melt the butter on low heat and just allow the butter to take its' time to brown you should be alright. Do NOT leave the butter on the stove unattended. Once the butter has melted, it can very quickly burn.

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Saturday, 5 November 2011

And then there was shortbread...

I have shortbread baking in the oven right now and the smell is... (inhaling deeply) intoxicating to say the least. Tonight I've tried an Alice Medrich shortbread recipe. After the well-received Cocoa Brownies which I adapted a little to suit Toad, I've been keen on trying out more of her recipes.  I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen.


Here is the recipe, adapted to metric measurements.

TWICE-BAKED SHORTBREAD
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

180g unsalted Butter, melted and still warm
5 tablespoons Castor Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
Vanilla Seeds scrapped from 1 Vanilla Pod
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
180g Plain Flour
Turbinado, Demerara or Granulated Sugar for sprinkling

Melt Butter in a heavy-based saucepan.

Remove from heat and stir in Salt, Sugar, Vanilla Essence and Seeds. Fold in Flour with a wooden spoon. Mix gently until a soft dough forms. Pat into a round or rectangular fluted baking tin with a removable bottom and leave to stand 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, switch the oven on to 150 Celsius. Place the baking tin on a baking tray (just in case some of the butter leaks out from the bottom during baking). Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the extra Sugar and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the shortbread from the tin carefully to avoid breaking it and cut the shortbread into squares or wedges. Place on a lined baking tray apart from each other and return to the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Note
I only left it to stand for 1 hour. I was impatient. Alice is right in saying to leave it as long as overnight because when I made the Brown Butter Shortbread recipe later, it made all the difference. The 'long' leaving allows for the butter to absorb completely into the flour, which 'shortens' and dries-out the dough which in turn makes for a delightfully crunchy, crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth texture.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Spiral Curry Puffs - Take 2



I'm calling this post Spiral Curry Puffs - Take 2 simply because Take 1 didn't happen! You cannot believe how much work goes into this dough until you try it and of course, the dough from Take 1 ended-up in the dustbin because I'd not rolled it right, cut it too small, was a complete mess-of-a-failure and couldn't even be used as curry puff dough or anything else for that matter!

Yes, lots of exclamation marks in the above paragraph. I felt like an exclamation mark myself just after I had to dump the dough after slaving over it for two hours. Two hours! Two hours of when I could have been mixing up a batch of shortbread from one of Alice Medrich's recipes. Aaaaaaarrrrgghhh...

Right then, now that that is out of the way let's get down to the curry puff story.

The curry puff story began when Girl started buying curry puffs for the Toad on days when she could and thought he hadn't had his lunch. The first curry puffs came from a stall at BB round the corner from Triple Round. In fact, Girl still buys Toad curry puffs from there to this day. The Toad liked his 'samosas' as he called them before bring told that they were curry puffs la.

One day, while Girl was out for lunch at a BB kopitiam, Chinese Uncle came along with a yellow tray full of goodies and pastries. There were curry puffs in the tray and Girl bought them for Toad whom she knew was coming to BB later in the day. That was the end of it.

See... Toad had developed an addiction for curry puffs by then, and when he had the yellow tray curry puffs, the world of curry puffs as he knew it changed. Sigh. Girl had forgotten that there are curry puffs and there are CURRY PUFFS. The yellow tray ones were CURRY PUFFS and took Toad's addiction to a whole new level of CRAVING. Curry puffs were not enough anymore. He wanted CURRY PUFFS!

Of course Chinese Uncle with the yellow tray hasn't been found again during lunch at BB. So how? Poor Girl decided to attempt Spiral Curry Puffs. Though as of today, she's ashamed to say it's not quite CURRY PUFF yet. On the other hand, she's quite pleased with herself for actually making it and having it turn out (somewhat) despite having trouble rolling the pastry, overfilling it with potatoes and making a mess of this  crimping-the-edges business.

Girl will be taking the curry puffs in the photo above into work with her for Toad in hope of helping him satisfy a CRAVING even if it is in a small way.

Meanwhile, Girl hasn't told him about the fabulous crispy curry puff stall in the Food Hall basement of Takashimaya in Singapore or even Old Chang Kee. (grin) Perhaps he could be persuaded to take a holiday down south soon!

Some things to remember/do before attempting to make the pastry:
  • The pliability of both the water and oil dough must be similar. Chill both doughs a while if need be.
  • Do not let the oil dough leak out of the water dough during the rolling stages. Roll gently but firmly using a small rolling pin for better control.
  • Learn and practise crimping the edges of the puffs.
  • Cook the filling first and let it cool while you make the pastry.
  • It is better to use vegetable shortening/Crisco/ghee/clarified butter/cooking oil instead of butter in this type of pastry.
Take 2 pastry recipe came from this website - Do What I Like - while the rolling directions came from this website - Corner Cafe. Please go to these websites for detailed instructions on wrapping and rolling the dough. The photos and step-by-step instructions are excellent.

Spiral Curry Puffs - Flaky Pastry
Adapted from Do What I Like

Water Dough
210 g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
15g Crisco
1 egg, lightly beaten
95ml warm water

Oil Dough
100g - 160g plain flour
60g Crisco
  1. Make the filling. Set aside to cool. (recipe in a separate post)
  2. Water Dough - Rub shortening into the flour and salt until breadcrumbs form. Make a well in the middle and mix in the egg and water bit by bit. Once the dough leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly, knead lightly until it forms a smooth, pliable ball.
  3. Oil Dough - Rub shortening into the flour until coarse breadcrumbs form. With your fingers, bring the dough together to form a soft ball. Knead lightly until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly adding pinches of flour if necessary to bring the pliability of the dough to be similar with that of the Water Dough.
  4. Place both balls of dough in fridge for about 15 - 20 minutes in a bowl covered with clingfilm.
  5. Remove dough from fridge and divide both types of dough into two equal parts.
  6. Roll out one half of the Water Dough into a circle. Place a ball of Oil Dough in the middle. Wrap the Oil Dough and seal the edges.
  7. Do the same for the remaining pieces of dough.
  8. Follow the instructions in Corner Cafe or Do What I Like for wrapping, rolling and shaping the dough.
  9. Place filling in the centre of the rolled circle of dough. Do not overfill.
  10. Fold over the pastry carefully and crimp the edges shut.
  11. Continue until the pastry and hopefully all the filling is finished.
  12. Heat enough oil in a wok for deep-frying.
  13. Deep-fry the curry puffs two at a time until done and drain on kitchen towels.
  14. Place on a clean plate and serve immediately.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

1-2-3 Butter Cookies



It really is that simple, I promise. 

1-2-3 Butter Cookies

100g icing or castor sugar
200g butter, cold and cubed small
300g plain flour
  1. Preheat the oven at 130 Celsius. Line a baking tray or two with baking paper.  
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar for 2 minutes.
  3. Fold in flour gently by hand until just incorporated.
  4. Chill dough for 15 - 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from refridgerator. Divide dough into two. Put one half back in to chill.
  6. Place the other half of dough between two plastic sheets and roll out about 4 - 5mm thick.
  7. Working quickly but surely, cut into your favourite shapes using a biscuit cutter. Place shapes on prepared baking tray.
  8. Once the first half of the dough is used up, take out the remaining half and do the same until all the dough is used up. (You may need 2 baking trays if your shapes are larger)
  9. Place tray in the oven and increase the temperature to 150 Celsius.
  10. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes until the bottom edges start browning slightly.
  11. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  12. Store in an airtight container.
Note:
  • The actual recipe comes from a magazine cut-out which was given to me a long time ago. I cannot remember which magazine it came from as it was already cut-out when passed to me. If anyone of you knows where it is from, please let me know as I would like to give the magazine due credit. I have also adapted the method to suit my own style of mixing biscuit dough.
  • I used icing sugar instead of castor for a finer texture.
  • I used unsalted butter in this batch and missed the salt terribly. Lesson learnt. I will use salted butter next time, or add in 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Yes, I have two feet firmly planted in the I-like-using-salted-butter-to-bake-for-better-flavour camp.
  • I made an orange-poppyseed flavoured biscuit with 1 tablespoon orange blossom water, 1 tablespoon poppyseeds and the grated zest of 1 orange.
  • For a vanilla biscuit, add in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence or seeds scrapped from a vanilla pod at the creaming stage.
  • This is a versatile dough. You can flavour it any way you like.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A little dash of rum...



There are so many lovely recipe websites out there, but none so good as my favourite BBCGoodFood. They have lots of simple, yet gorgeous recipes that I love. I found this particular recipe when I was looking for Mexican Wedding Cookies. I certainly didn't need any encouragement to even try this recipe as it included RUM.

I simply couldn't keep my hands off the dough. I pinched away at it and it of course, found its merry way into my mouth! The flavour of rum is strongest before the actual baking (ahem... hence my pinching) and very mild in the finished biscuit. Perhaps an extra tablespoon of rum the next time I try this recipe? Let's see. The Toad loved them, so I just might make some more tomorrow... with the extra dose. Cheers!

Little Almond Cookies (or Rum Biscuits as I personally like to call them)
Adapted from BBCGoodFood

50g almond nibs, toasted
100g butter, softened
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
140g - 175g plain flour
Vanilla seeds, scrapped from 1 vanilla pod
Icing sugar, to coat
  1. Preheat the oven at 140 Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla seeds and rum about 1 minute with an electric mixer.
  3. Gently fold in the flour until mixed through. (I only needed 140g of plain flour)
  4. Gently fold in the toasted almond nibs.
  5. Bring it together into a soft dough.
  6. Roll dough between sheets of plastic to about 4 - 5mm thick.
  7. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out small circles and place onto the lined baking tray.
  8. Bake at 150 Celsius for about 20 - 25 minutes until the biscuit is just set with a tiny bit of browning along the edges. Remove from the oven.
  9. While still hot, coat in icing sugar. Let them cool completely on wire racks. Once cool, coat in icing sugar again.
  10. Store in an air-tight container or wrapped up individually in tissue/glass paper for a more fancy look.

Lime Meltaways



They're beautiful aren't they these snow-dusted lovelies? Reminds me of Christmas. The flavour is all at once sweet, slightly mouth-puckeringly-sour from the lime juice and melts in your mouth. I've made them more than a few times over the years. So here's the recipe and a big thanks to Martha Stewart for it!

Note: I've changed the original cup measurements to metric as I prefer to weigh my ingredients for consistent results.

Lime Meltaways
Adapted from Martha Stewart

180g butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
225g plain flour, sifted
15g cornflour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest from 3 limes
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon sweetened lime paste (optional)
Green food colouring (optional)
Icing sugar, to coat
  1. Cream salt, butter and icing sugar about 2 minutes with electric mixer.
  2. Add in lime zest, vanilla, lime paste and juice. Mix about 1 minute.
  3. Gently fold in by hand the plain flour and cornflour.
  4. Add tiny drops of green food colouring into the dough  mixing gently until you achieve the intensity of colour you like, then stop.
  5. Divide the dough and roll in two separate pieces of baking paper. Twist the ends close and leave it in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 150 Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  7. Remove a roll from the fridge and cut  into slices with a sharp knife. Place slices on the lined baking tray, leaving some space in between each one as they will expand a bit. (Leave the remaining roll in the fridge for the time being)
  8. Put the baking tray into the oven and bake for about 20 - 30  minutes until the edges of the biscuits just turn a little brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool on wire racks.
  9. Continue with the remaining roll in the fridge or leave it for a biscuit craving later in the week.
  10. Once cool, coat in icing sugar on all sides, place in paper cases and store in an air-tight container.


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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Alice Medrich's Cocoa Brownies


The cocoa makes them quite dark and my poor photography skills didn't help either!

This was a fabulous recipe find. The last time I tried it, it was with castor sugar. This time round I chose to use light and dark brown sugar instead. It turned out less sweet and gooey than before with a defined bittersweet chocolate flavour but still as good. The Toad liked it and I was happy that this tweaked recipe wouldn't increase his blood sugar too much.

Alice Medrich's Cocoa Brownies

140g butter
170g light brown sugar
80g dark brown sugar
80g good quality dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
65g plain flour
  1. Preheat the oven at about 130 Celsius. Line an 8' x 8' square baking tin with foil overhanging on the sides for easy lift after the brownies have baked and cooled.
  2. In a heavy-based saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove pan from the stove.
  3. Stir in both sugars, cocoa, salt and vanilla. Mixture will look grainy.
  4. Check the sides of the pan. If it's warm to the touch and you can place your palm on the side, the eggs are ready to go in.
  5. Add eggs one by one, beating vigorously after each addition. The mixture will come together to look smooth and glossy.
  6. Fold flour in gently until it disappears into the mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tin. Smoothen it out in the tin.
  8. Bake at 155 Celsius until the top has a 'crackle' effect and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. About 25 - 30 minutes. 
Be careful not to overbake this or the brownies will taste and smell a little burnt. I've changed the method of mixing the brownies to suit my laziness and do it all in the one saucepan. I don't even bother sieving the flour. Sigh. Easy recipes with not too many ingredients and fantastic results are what I like. No slaving over the hot stove for me.

If you'd like to try out the original recipe, you can find it at The Wednesday Chef. Luisa Weiss has posted measurements both in cups and metric.

Oooops... I almost forgot to say that I got the flower and circular shapes, by simply cutting the brownies with pastry cutters. The texture of this brownie makes it easy to cut with the cutters. You'll have scraps to eat up though, which won't be pretty but will still be as delicious!




Friday, 16 September 2011

Majulah Singapura!

Yes, I was there during the Presidential Elections. Yes, I was happy to see a wave of change sweep through our neighbouring nation. Yes, it was a wonderful holiday filled with food and family. Yes, I had some lovely food i.e. homemade stringhoppers with curried chicken; homemade roti jala with kheema; perfectly marinated lamb cutlets; gorgeous roast chicken with bacon; melt-in-the-mouth curry puffs; a luscious lemon meringue tart; the largest profiterole I've ever seen; a sublime mixed berry and apple crumble; and last but not least the most outstanding ice-cream I've ever had - Waitrose's Carribean Rum & Raisin - which was boozy, moreish and simply magical.

Here are some photos of food from my holiday (only the ones I bothered to take photos of... hehehehehehe) and a recipe to try.

Profiterole from Food for Thought

Mixed Berry and Apple Crumble from Food for Thought

Coffee Cake and Rock Buns, which I baked

Curry Puff from a shop in the basement of Takashimaya

Coffee Cake

4 ounces self-raising flour
4 ounces castor sugar
4 ounces salted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of your favourite instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot full cream milk
2 tablespoons full cream milk
  1. Preheat oven at 120 degrees Celsius.Grease and line a smallish baking tin of your preference.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add in eggs one by one mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add in vanilla and coffee/milk mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in the flour by hand.
  6. Gently fold in the additional milk by hand until well combined into the cake batter.
  7. Pour into baking tin.
  8. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Remove cake from the oven and let it stand in the tin for about 10 minutes.
  10. Turn cake out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Deeper, darker...


So I have itchy fingers sometimes. This means I can't quite leave a recipe alone, even if it is a good one. What did I do? I took the Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and tweaked it. All in the name of using my newly purchased organic muscovado sugar of course. (wink, wink)

I'm happy to say that this cookie tasted like I thought it would. While the original recipe has a straightforward vanilla-sugar-chocolate-chip taste, this one has deeper caramel-toffee undertones. I'd like to think as one being perfect for a cup of tea and the other for coffee.

In case you're wondering - yes - I'm reading 1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke courtesy of the Toad. It's a thick book, so I've taken to reading a chapter every night before going to bed... hence the shadows in my photo of the cookies. 

Deeper, Darker Chocolate Chip Cookies

160g plain flour
35g corn flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
130g salted butter, at room temperature
60g castor sugar
20g  light brown sugar
10g dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
100g semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
30g toasted walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven at 120 Celsius.
  2. Sieve plain flour, corn flour, baking powder and sea salt together. Set aside. 
  3. Cream butter and three sugars until pale.
  4. Add in egg and vanilla essence. Cream for 1 minute, until well combined. 
  5. Gently fold in the sieved flour mixture by hand.
  6. Add in chocolate chips and walnuts. Fold this in gently by hand as well. 
  7. Cover mixing bowl with clingfilm and chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 - 45 minutes.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator.
  9. Make small round balls and place about 2 inches apart on a baking paper lined tray.
  10. Bake at 150 Celsius for about 15 - 20  minutes until the edges turn a light golden brown.  
  11. Cool cookies on the tray for about 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  12. Once cooled, pack cookies away into an airtight jar.  


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Aglio Olio my way

This has become one of my favourite meals for dinner. It's simple, quick and delicious. I suppose you could call it an 'instant' homemade meal. It takes just a wee bit longer than two minutes - the time needed to cook a packet of Maggi mee - but the results are far better. Won't you try it?


Aglio Oglio with Bacon

Angel Hair pasta
Bacon
Chilli Flakes
Garlic
Olive Oil
Parmesan
  1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Once boiling, put in the pasta. Cook until al dente (about 2 minutes). Remove from stove and drain the water, reserving some.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook - chop the garlic and cut up the bacon.
  3. Pour a little olive oil into the now empty saucepan and put it back on the stove. 
  4. Once the oil has heated through, add in the bacon. 
  5. Cook bacon for about 1 - 2 minutes, then add in the garlic and chilli flakes.
  6. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the bacon becomes a little deeper in colour.
  7. Add in the drained pasta and splash in some of the reserved water. Mix thoroughly until everything is well combined. (add a little more water if the pasta becomes very dry)
  8. Once the water has just about evaporated, remove from the stove immediately and transfer to a bowl.
  9. Sprinkle on some parmesan and it is ready to eat. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Contemplations

I love this pretty plate. Eight of which I lugged back home from Cambodia.

Work has been difficult. A long month in and out of the office and a nagging migraine that got worse with an unappreciated email from a colleague made me send a note off to the Toad  in desperation last weekend. I received a reply saying to 'contemplate the world universe and all that' and to 'rest'. So I did. I'm proud to say that two loaves of bread got made, as well as these lovely cookies. 

Yes, I should confess. I belong to the minority that loves crunchy chocolate chip cookies. My favourite store-bought chocolate chip cookies are Famous Amos. I love them so much that I have been looking high and low for a recipe that will hit the spot like Amos' cookies do. Some years ago, when the franchise brought in a no-chip version that was chock-full of macadamia nuts, I went wild. I visited a Famous Amos outlet almost every day to get my fill of them. Alas, it was not to last as that particular version suddenly ceased to exist after a few months. Perhaps I was the only person who liked them without the chocolate chips?! Who knows? 

Anyway, after many experiments I'm sad to say that I haven't quite found a recipe that even comes close to Famous Amos. 

Nonetheless, when I did bake these for the first time, I thought to myself - now here's a chocolate chip cookie I'll be baking again and again. Bake them again and again I did. While they are not quite Amos' they still taste great to me. Especially on the day after. Most importantly, they are crunchy cookies... and can be quite addictive if you're not careful. Be warned! 

The recipe is from Bakertan of Baking Library, who in turn got it from Bakingmum. I've re-written the recipe here for ease of reference and also because I changed it a little to suit my taste, however you should check these two blogs out as they have some lovely recipes.

My little lovelies.
Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Baking Library 

150g plain flour
45g corn flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
125g salted butter, at room temperature
65g castor sugar
40g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
150g semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven at 120 Celsius.
  2. Sieve plain flour, corn flour, baking powder and sea salt together. Set aside. 
  3. Cream butter and both sugars until pale.
  4. Add in egg and vanilla essence. Cream for 1 minute, until well combined. 
  5. Gently fold in by hand the sieved flour mixture.
  6. Add in chocolate chips and fold this in gently by hand as well. 
  7. Cover mixing bowl with clingfilm and chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 - 45 minutes.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator.
  9. Make small round balls and place about 2 inches apart on a baking paper lined tray.
  10. Bake at 150 Celsius for about 15 - 20  minutes until the edges turn a light golden brown.  
  11. Cool cookies on the tray for about 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  12. Once cooled, pack cookies away into an airtight jar.  
Please note that the oven I have at home is a hot piece of equipment, which means I always have to keep the temperature lower than usual or everything that goes into it just burns to a crisp. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!


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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sunday biscotti...



Over the recent weekend mornings, I've been rudely awakened by a very enthusiastic bird that sits close to my bedroom window and whistles at top volume right about 6.45am. I found him very annoying at first, because the weekend is when I catch-up on sleep after a busy week of running around like a headless chicken.

Today, I decided to wake-up with Mr. Annoying and thanks to the early morning, have biscotti sitting in the oven at 8.30am! It's a pseudo-candied fruit biscotti. I've been feeling like home-made biscotti for some time now, but since I haven't tried to make it before and with me running around like said headless chicken most days, I'm just too tired to experiment very much anymore over the weekends.

Today, I caved-in. I got an idea of the recipe from here. No, I do not have the array of candied fruits like that in the beautiful  pictures accompanying the blog post, so I made do with red and green glace cherries as well as some mixed peel. To make up for not having REAL candied fruit, I let the fruit soak overnight in some sweet sherry. I also halved the original recipe, tweaked it a bit and converted the measurements to grammes for my ease. It still makes quite a lot of biscotti.

How did it turn out? Absolutely lovely... and very addictive, with or without tea or coffee in attendance!

Lovely jewel-studded dough

Fruit Biscotti with Sherry
90g castor sugar
380g plain flour + 1 teaspoon  baking powder + a couple of dashes ground nutmeg and mixed spice (sieved thrice)
350g glace red cherries, green cherries and mixed peel soaked overnight with 2 tablespoons of sweet sherry
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g salted butter

  1. Cream eggs and sugar about 1 minute.
  2. Add in butter and vanilla essence. Cream. Mixture will look a little curdled.
  3. Gently fold in flour mixture by hand.
  4. Then gently fold in fruit.
  5. Leave dough in the fridge for about an hour to rest.
  6. Remove dough from fridge. Shape into logs and place on a tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Bake at 160 Celsius for about 30 - 40 minuutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let it cool.
  9. Once cool, cut logs into slices with a very sharp knife.
  10. Place slices on baking tray on their sides.
  11. Bake 10-15 minutes on each side until they are crisp and dry. 
Ready to be baked

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Jamming blackberries

The Toad had a bad day, and I had a bad day because the Toad had a bad day. All in a day's work. Such is life? I went off to spend some money hoping it would make me feel better. I got myself a new Wilton icing colours kit, some pretty pastel sugar flowers, some lovely croissants and a packet of blackberries. Well, the blackberries weren't really for me, but as a pick-me-up for Toad in form of jam.

Now, I've never had blackberry jam myself until today. It was good! It tastes purple and plummy and curranty if you know what I mean.

Blackberries are expensive. So I tried this recipe out with only a little bit of fruit. Here's what I did.

Blackberry Jam

180g blackberries, at room temperature
40g castor sugar
Juice from half a lemon
  1. Place the fruit in a large bowl together with sugar.
  2. Mash fruit and sugar together gently with a fork. Do not break fruit down completely.
  3. Place fruit and sugar mixture into a heavy-based saucepan.
  4. Place saucepan on medium heat.
  5. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down low.
  6. Add lemon juice and mix it through.
  7. Skim the foam that will form on the surface every few minutes. Keep doing this until no more foam appears.
  8. The liquid will slowly but surely evaporate. When you see that the mixture is still a little moist, take it off the heat. The jam will thicken as it cools.
  9. Put a clean glass bottle and cap into the oven at 160 Celsius for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool awhile.
  10. Pour jam into the bottle and seal immediately.
Now all I have to do is wait for Toad to eat it before I can really tell you how good it is!


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A working girl's dinner

Work has been ridiculous lately. I hardly have time to bake anymore, which is a pity as baking is my ultimate cure-all for stress. These days I barely even have time to make dinner. Here's a simple, healthy thing that I like to throw together on the nights when I am really exhausted after a long day at work.


Baby Spinach, Feta Cheese & Tomato Salad

Baby spinach
Feta cheese in olive oil (ready-mixed with spices/olives/sundried tomatoes)
Tomatoes
  1. Arrange baby spinach in a bowl.
  2. Add cubed tomatoes.
  3. Top with feta cheese and drizzle with the olive oil.
  4. EAT!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Orange Weekend Cake

Yes, well... almost 2 months have passed in the new year and this is my first proper blog. What have I been up to you ask? I've been working 12-hour days, stopped in at Bangkok for work and hurt my back early February. Chinese New Year came and went with me lying flat in bed. Sigh. I had big plans for the festive season. Oh well.


I've been thinking a lot about perfection lately. Why do we strive to be perfect anyway? Is there anyone in this world who is really born perfect; is it an obsession; does it stem from an uncontrollable part of our lives which makes us strive for perfection elsewhere? I still don't have any answers, despite the time I've spent thinking about it.

What I DO know is that, this year I'm going to enjoy imperfection. In little ways. I've started purposely not making the bed in the mornings on Saturday, embracing the fact that sometimes the icing on the cakes I make are just-not-right, leaving my work table in a mess, etc. Little things. So what if the clean clothes don't get folded the day they're taken in, so what if the recipe didn't work out... so what? Life's not perfect and I am perfectly imperfect. How wonderful! 

I've just gone back to baking, my favourite thing in the whole world. I decided that this is the year of imperfect-looking, homely cakes. To start off, I decided to make Fanny's weekend cake again. Though this time I tweaked the recipe a little and ate it with cream and marmalade. Divine.


Orange Weekend Cake

4 eggs
250g caster sugar
2 teaspoons orange essence
180g plain flour
40g cornflour
2 pinches baking powder
150g thickened cream
50g salted butter, melted
softened butter, extra for piping
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Butter and flour a loaf tin.
  2. Mix the flours and baking powder. Sieve this thrice.
  3. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whip until thick and doubled in size.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients very gently into the egg mixture.
  5. Then pour a little of this onto the cream and melted butter, mix well, and transfer back to the main batter mix. Fold in gently.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin, pipe a line of butter across the cake; and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

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