30 November 2010

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

I finally invested in a Wilton 1M piping tip. And it was worth every single cent! Look at these gorgeous swirls!!

Okay, it's not that expensive, lah. Only $2.80. When I first saw the piping tip, I thought it would be way too huge. But it turned out perfect! (I just need to practice more to get it picture perfect.)

(A bit short on time today, so I'll be posting the recipe next time. I'll definitely be making these again. They were very well received.)

29 November 2010

Bloggers' Gathering 27.10.2010

This is my first bloggers' gathering, and I was so excited about it.

At first, I was going to make Rosemary Focaccia with Mediterranean dips. But the potluck menu was quite full of savoury dishes, so I suggested bringing something sweet instead.

Here's a snapshot of all the wonderful treats we had. And can you believe that ALL this food was only for 9 people??

These are the lovely people I met, and I'm glad to have made new friends with the same passion for baking. Some of them have already posted details of the event, so do visit their blogs to read about it. 

Christine - Yummy Koh
Doris - Tested & Tasted
Edith - Precious Moments
Jane - Passionate About Baking
Josephine - Sugar & Everything Nice
Judy - A Busy Gran's Kitchen
Sheryl - Sweet and Happy Ending
Zhuoyuan - Baking Library
Eelin (me) - The Batter Baker


Looking forward to the next gathering :)

22 November 2010

Ultra Thin Crust Portobello & Ham Pizza

Portobello is my favourite type of mushroom.
It's rich earthy robust flavour just makes other mushrooms pale in comparison. Whenever it's on sale at the supermarket, I'm sure to reach for a pack.

Usually, it becomes mushroom pasta. But today, it's pizza!
Ultra thin crust pizza, using wraps as the crust. Easy peasy!

I don't really have an exact recipe. Unlike cakes and the likes, it's not as critical to get the proportions right. It's really about what you like. So, here goes...

Pizza crust:
Tortilla wraps (your choice of plain, wholemeal or flavoured)

Tomato puree or sauce, 3-4 tbs per pizza
Sugar, 1 tsp per pizza
Balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp per pizza

Onions, thinly sliced
Fresh oregano, chopped
Ham, sliced
Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
Cheese (mozarella and red cheddar), grated

1 - Brush tortilla with olive oil. (This prevents the crust from becoming soggy from the sauce.)
2 - Spread sauce till about 1/2" from the edge.
3 - Spread topping in layer by layer, ending with the cheese.
4 - Bake at 220*C for about 10 min till cheese has melted and edges of tortilla are brown.

Thumbs up from hubby! He even asked for a second helping :)
It's a quick and easy meal. Tastes great. No oily frying. Minimal utensils = less washing.
Definitely gonna make more of this in future! Perhaps with smoked salmon, dill yoghurt and rocket salad. Yumm....

Ham & Cheese Scones

Because I'm such a fan of scones, I thought I'd give savoury scones a try.
So, using the same base recipe as my Eggless Scones, I reduced the sugar to just 10g, and added a handful of ham bits and cheese. Sounds like it would work, right?

So, what do you think?

While the texture was fabulous, the taste was just the opposite. To me at least.  I am totally NOT a fan of savoury scones. I'm sticking to my sweet or plain scones in future. No more savoury scones for me.  Looks like this batch will go down the chute... don't think I can 'recycle' these into scone truffles. LOL!

Brownie Minicakes with double choc topping

Brownie Cakes make a can't-go-wrong party treat. Great eaten on its own or with some vanilla ice cream, it appeals to kids and grown-ups. For the latter, a generous shot of alcohol is always a welcome addition to the recipe. 

To make an 8" square cake:
120g unsweetened chocolate

110g butter
180g sugar [reduce to 150g if using semi sweet choc]
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbs Amarula liqueur
3 eggs
115g flour
Some nuts, choc chips, and melted choc for topping

1 - Melt choc and butter bain marie. Stir till completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. 

2 - Stir in sugar, vanilla and liqueur. Mix well.

3 - A
dd eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 
4 - 
Mix in flour till well combined. 
5 - 
Pour into an 8" greased and lined baking pan. Sprinkle desired amount of nuts and choc chips over batter. Press topping gently into the batter.
6 - Bake at 170*C for 40-45 min. Cake is done when a
 toothpick holds a few moist crumbs.  

To make chocolate for drizzling, simply melt some chocolate, transfer to a piping bag, and drizzle randomly over brownies. 

21 November 2010

Cake Truffles

Dinner parties are the perfect excuse reason for making a big batch of cake truffles. It's easy, fun, and you don't even need to use your mixer or oven. 

Using the recipe from my Amarula Truffles, I just modified it for this batch. I made half for under-18s and half for above-18s. The half for above-18s had Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky instead of Amarula. And this time round, I used dessicated coconut, ground peanuts, and rainbow sprinkles for the coating. 

Fruit & Nut Loaf 2

The first time I tried a fruit & nut loaf, I used a rice cooker to bake it. Yes, a rice cooker. You can see the results here.

This time round, I decided I would bake it the traditional way - in an oven. I'm pretty pleased with how this loaf turned out. Texture was light and fluffy, the way I wanted it to be. The dough was moist and soft, and rose beautifully. 

The only improvements I would make are:
- add more fruit and nut; and
- knead the fruit and nut into the dough instead of just rolling it up (so that the fruit and nut will 'adhere' to the bread better).

Despite the imperfections, it received the thumbs-up from my mom (who loves fruit & nut bread), and she promptly handed me a bag of sunflower seeds. The only request she made was for a crunchy crust (vs soft crust). Looks like there'll be more fruit and nut loafs coming up...

Recipe for a small 8x4" loaf:
1-1/4 tsp yeast
10g sugar
150ml warm water
3/4 tsp oil or butter
3/4 tsp salt
220g bread flour 
dried fruit and nuts, amount according to preference 
(I used dried cranberries and currants, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)

1 - Combine yeast, sugar and warm water. Set aside for 10 min till frothy.,

2 - Add oil/butter, salt and flour. Mix till you get a sticky dough. 

3 - Knead till smooth and elastic (10-15 min), adding extra flour if dough is too  sticky.

4 - Shape to a ball and place in a greased bowl, coating dough with oil. Cover with damp cloth and let dough rise till double in size (about 1 hour).

5 - Knock down. Press to a flat rectangle, and sprinkle dried fruit and nuts. Roll dough and knead gently a few times. Form into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Cover with damp cloth and prove till double in size (about 40min).

6 - Bake at 190*C (or 180*C if using dark pan) for about 30 min. When done, cool on a wire rack. (Leaving the bread to cool in the pan for more than 3-5 min will cause the bottom to be soggy from the condensation.)

Special thanks to my dear friend, KL. 
Without your encouragement and your wonderful bread book,
I wouldn't have come this far in bread making  :)

17 November 2010

Caramel Maple Chiffon Cake

This is my entry for Small Small Baker's Aspiring Bakers #1: Chiffon Cakes (Nov 2010).

The feature ingredients for this cake are caramel tea and maple syrup. Both ingredients combined give this cake it's natural brown colouring.

I love the taste and aroma of caramel. So when Lipton came up with Caramel Flavoured Tea, I gave it a try. While the aroma was wonderful, the tea was too sweet for my liking. Oh dear, now what do I do with a whole box of caramel tea?

Small Small Baker's Aspiring Bakers event gave me an idea!
Here's the recipe...

Caramel Maple Chiffon Cake

75ml caramel tea (brewed as thick as possible)
4 eggs, separated
100g flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
80g sugar
1 tbs maple syrup
50ml oil

1 - Whisk egg whites till soft peaks form. Then gradually add about half the sugar and whisk till stiff peaks form.

2 - In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar till pale. Then add tea, maple syrup and oil and beat till well combined.

3 - Add flour and mix well.

4 - Gently fold in egg yolk mixture into egg whites with a balloon whisk.

5 - Pour into an ungreased chiffon tin and bake at 160*C for 30 minutes. When done, remove from oven and invert the cake to cool.

Now will someone tell me how you all get those nice flat tops? For some reason, my chiffon cakes dome and I can never seem to get those nice flat tops and bottoms that you all seem to get.

14 November 2010

Mini Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding #2 - made with mini bundt pans.

I like making minis.

First of all, they are cute.
Secondly, no need to cut and divide; they are already in individual portions.
Thirdly, shorter baking time - faster results, and savings on electricity bill.
:)  :)  :)

Recipe can be found here. The only difference is the baking time - down to just 20 minutes!
Oh, and I used just half the recipe to get 6 minis.

These can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. Just reheat before serving, drizzle warm butterscotch sauce and don't forget that scoop of ice cream!

13 November 2010

Shortbread Cookies

The last time I tried making cookies with cookie cutters, it turned out a disaster! And the whole batch ended up in the bin.

Well, that was quite a while ago. Time to give it another shot...

I love shortbread. So when I came across a recipe for shortbread cookies, it went straight to my TO BAKE list. This recipe is easy, although you'll need some patience as the dough needs to be chilled a short while to firm up before you can roll it out for cutting.

130g flour
1/8 tsp salt
115g soft butter
30g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract till smooth and creamy.
Add flour and salt till dough comes together. 
Flatten dough slightly and chill for about half hour or till firm enough to handle.
With a rolling pin, roll out dough till about 1/4" thick. Cut to shape with cookie cutters.
Place on baking sheet and chill for about 10 min.
Bake at 170*C for 8-10 min. 

Chocolate Art:
Melt some chocolate.
Pour into piping bag.
Snip off a tiny bit of the corner.
Have fun decorating your cookies!

Eggless Scones

Many scone recipes call for an egg, and that usually means a large batch of scones. Plus, it makes the dough kinda gooey. So I experimented with a batch, omitting the egg and upping the amount of milk till I got the consistency required. And it works! Taste wise, just as good :)

Recipe for about 10 mini scones or 6 regular scones:
35g butter, very cold
110g cake flour (or 90g flour + 20g cornflour)
20-30g sugar (according to preference)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
about 50ml milk

Making the scones:
1 - Throw all ingredients except milk into a food processor and blitz till it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Alternatively, cut butter into dry ingredients manually with a pastry blender or two knives.

2 - Add milk and mix till dough just comes together.

3 - Knead gently a few times. If dough is not firm enough, press into a disc and chill for a while.

4 - Flatten or roll out the dough till about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shape using a knife or cookie cutter.

5 - Place on a lightly greased baking tray and brush the tops with milk or eggwash.

6 - Bake at 190*C for 10-12 min till the tops are golden brown.

7 - Best served warm with jam or cream.

These scones can be frozen for up to a month. Just warm them up in the oven/toaster or microwave before serving and they'll taste just as good.

For a more indulgent treat, add raisins or cranberries, chocolate, nuts, whatever you fancy.

For savoury scones (or biscuits), use just a touch of sugar and add a little more salt. Savoury scones go very well with clam chowder ;)

More Recipe Books

I never buy books, since I don't like reading. Except for books on baking, cooking and knitting. But this month alone, I've bought 4 books! 2 from last week's MPH sale, and another 2 from this weekend's Borders sale.

At $5 (UP$23.90) for a book with more than 100 tried-and-tested recipes, 
I think it's a pretty good deal  :)


Another book that caught my eye was this one on garnishing. To me, food is as much an art as it is a science. And a nicely decorated dish only enhances its taste. So at $5 for 128 pages, I grabbed it! 

It covers everything from tools of trade, vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, dairy, sauces, chocolate...

Every page is bursting with colour! 
This one below shows the countless ways a tomato can be used as a garnish.  

Cucumbers  ~  Carrots & Zucchini  ~  Eggs 

Chocolate  ~  Marzipan 

Okay, enough of the crap.

This is the REAL reason why I bought this book: