23 August 2010

Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding is one of my favourite desserts.
I was always under the impression that it was difficult to make, but today I discover that other than the extra steps to prep the dates and the butterscotch sauce, it's really just like any other butter cake. And the sauce... well, all it takes is just 5 minutes! Couldn't be simpler.

And while SDP is usually served with vanilla ice cream, I decided I'd try something different - Macadamia Nut ice cream - and it was, no doubt, an excellent choice!

To all SDP lovers, this one's for you...

Sticky Date Pudding:
200g pitted dates
300ml water
1 tsp baking soda
40g walnuts (optional)
60g butter
40g brown sugar
100g white sugar
2 eggs
150g flour
1 tsp baking powder

1 - In a saucepan, heat the dates and water. When it starts to boil, stir in baking soda and remove from heat. Allow to cool a little, then blend dates and walnuts together till desired texture. If you like a finer cake texture, blend till smooth; if you like it with chunkier bits of dates and nuts, just blitz it a little.
2 - With a mixer, cream butter and sugars. Then add eggs one at a time. Mix well.
3 - Add date mixture and mix well.
4 - Sift flour and baking powder and fold into mixture till just combined.
5 - Pour into greased and floured baking pan. Bake at 160 degC for about 45 minutes.

Butterscotch Sauce:
120ml cream
90g brown sugar
80g butter
Combine all ingredients in a non-stick saucepan over low heat, stirring till sauce is smooth.

Macadamia Nut Ice Cream:
Head to your nearest Haagen Dazs outlet and pick up a pint of Macadamia Nut ice cream.

21 August 2010

Banana Walnut Minicakes

This recipe combines the classic flavours of bananas and walnuts, and the aromatic sweetness of brown sugar to produce a tasty and moist cake. Perfect with a cuppa!

This was originally from a cake recipe, but as I like small portions (it also shortens the baking time), I baked them in muffin cups instead.

Ingredients for 20 mini cakes:
2 eggs
30g brown sugar
90g white sugar
2 tbs condensed milk
2 tbs yoghurt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp cinnamon
180 ml oil
2 bananas, mashed
40g walnuts, crushed
250g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder

1 - Cream eggs and sugar till light and creamy.
2 - Add condensed milk, yoghurt, vanilla essence, cinnamon and oil. Mix well.
3 - Add mashed bananas and mix well.
4 - Sprinkle some flour onto the walnuts. Set aside.
5 - Sift flour and baking powder into egg mixture and mix till just combined.
6 - Fold in walnuts.
7 - Fill cups till about 2/3 and bake at 150 degC for 18-20 min till tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

For most people, 160 degC is the typical temperature for this recipe. But because my convection oven is so heat efficient, I have to lower my temp setting by 10-20 degC, otherwise I'll get brown over-baked tops and uncooked insides. So adjust the temperature and baking time according to your oven.

Happy weekend, everyone!

14 August 2010

Home-made Vanilla Sugar

There's white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, rock sugar, demerara sugar... the list goes on.
And then there's Vanilla Sugar.

Apparently, just one tablespoon of vanilla sugar has the flavouring power of 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Wow! Potent stuff! And that means I no longer have to fuss with the bottle of vanilla extract when measuring my ingredients for baking, and I'll know that I'm getting au naturel vanilla. Sounds like a good idea!

So here's what you do:

Now all I have to do is to wait patiently.
In the meantime, baking continues with plain sugar and vanilla extract.

the batter bakeware collection (nel's)

I thought it'd be fun to share my collection of bakeware with you.
It's been only about 20 months since I started baking, so my collection is a small and humble one, all packed into a tiny 12x18" space.

(Sorry for the bad photo. I was lazy and used my BB to take this pic.)

From left:
  • Large 14" stoneware plate from Ikea (this one's not for baking; it's for serving)
  • 3 non-stick baking trays (1 from Robinsons, 2 inherited from my MIL). I use round trays cos my oven is a convection microwave.
  • 11" cake pan, specifically bought for water bath technique (from Phoon Huat)
  • 9.5" non-stick springform pan (from Robinsons)
From centre bottom:
  • 10x7x2.75" glass loaf pan (the white one; from my mom)
  • 9x5.5x2.75" Pyrex glass loaf dish (also from my mom)
  • 8.5x4x2.5" non-stick loaf pan (from MIL; it sits nicely hidden in the Pyrex)
  • 8" square non-stick brownie pan (from Robinsons)
  • 8" round non-stick cake pan (from MIL)
  • 8" round aluminium cake pan (from MIL)
  • 6" square springform pan (from Phoon Huat)
  • 8" chiffon pan (from Phoon Huat)
From right:
  • Non-stick cooling rack (from Takashimaya)
  • 9.5" non-stick tart pan with removable base (from Sun Lik)
  • Rectangle aluminium tray (from mom)
  • 6-cup non-stick muffin tray (from Robinsons)
  • 12 Wilton silicone cups (from Phoon Huat)
Right behind the cooling rack is also a thin plastic 'chopping board' that I use as a non-stick base for rolling dough. I can't wait till my silicone mats arrive from the USA end of this month :)

There's more I wanna share...

There's this cool springform pan I saw on ebay. It has a glass base and silicone sides, so all you need to do is detach the sides once your cake is done, and serve it right on the glass base! It costs about US$37 (S$52) including shipping to Singapore. (That means S$52 out from my KitchenAid fund.) So I guess this will be on my wish list for now....

Take a look at this pretty mould below...
Have you used this type of silicone moulds for cakes?
I'm not sure if it will work for sponge / chiffon / butter cakes. If you've baked with this type of pans before, please let me know how your cake turned out?

Finally, I just wanted to show you all a picture of the KitchenAid I like so much. The monotone colour scheme fits in perfectly with my black & white kitchen. One day, it will have it's place on my kitchen counter. One day.

Condensed Milk Pound Cake ~ the real Sara Lee?

I hope you guys have enjoyed the pictorial approach to my recipes.  I'm not much of a words person; my brain thinks in pictures and colours, and those are so much easier for me than words.  

Earlier this evening, I indulged in a new table runner - and here on this blog it makes its debut.  
What do you think of it?

This recipe was inspired by Baking Fiend's Condensed Milk Pound Cake, who declared it "definitely a good recipe"!  And after giving my shot at it, I'd say too that it's definitely a good recipe.
This one's a keeper.

I added a handful of raisins into the batter, but they all sank to the bottom.  If you are adding raisins, try sprinkling it on top of the batter instead.

13 August 2010

Eggless Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Many muffin recipes require one egg and a huge amount of flour, enough to make 12 mega size muffins.  Well, huge to me anyway.  And since there are only two of us at home, halving the recipe is tricky because... how do you halve an egg? And what do I do with the other half?

So I decided I would attempt the recipe without the egg, reduce the flour a little, add a bit more liquid, and see what happens.

The results were a pleasant surprise ~ moist, fluffy muffins; almost like cupcakes. Best of all, it's cholesterol free!

11 August 2010

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Are you a creamy or crunchy peanut butter person?
I'm a crunchy peanut butter person and so for this recipe, I used crunchy! 
And who would have thought that jam would go well with PB?  But it does! So I paired some of these cupcakes with swirls of my favourite black cherry jam. 

09 August 2010

Assorted Milk Cupcakes

I found a really good recipe for sponge cake, and thought I'd try it out with an assortment of fillings - peanut butter, jam, chocolate chips and nutella.  

While the texture and the flavour of the sponge cake turned out great, the batter was too light to hold the filling and it all sank to the bottom of the batter. (Except for a few chocolate chips.) Nevertheless, they made quite a delicious teatime snack :) 

07 August 2010

Fun Animals and Cocktail Sausage Mini Buns

This is a fun activity that you can make with kids aged 5 and above. My basic bread dough is the "sweet" local version, unlike the "unsweetened" slightly saltish European type.


  • 500g high protein flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 60g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250g fresh milk (lukewarm)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 slice of cheese singles
  1. Mix all the ingredients and knead till smooth and shiny. This takes about 15-20 minutes. If you are not using instant yeast, you need to mix the yeast with some lukewarm water and wait for it to froth (about 5-10 min).
  2. Put dough into a big bowl and cover with a cling wrap or kitchen towel. This is important so that the dough surface does not dry out.
  3. Proof for about 1 hour, or until double in volume.
  4. Punch down and cut into small pieces, ready to shape into fun animals and sausage buns.
  5. When shaping, be careful not to over-knead the dough or the bread will be chewy.
  6. After shaping, proof for another 1 hour or so. It is okay if the dough does not expand till double the volume. It will rise further in the baking process.
  7. Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Tip: By using fresh milk instead of water, you will get a finer and softer bread texture. Add a slice of cheese to enhance the flavour and this also helps to make the bread soft.

Fruit & Nut Loaf

Breads baked in the rice cooker turn out moist with a soft crust. And the best part of home-made breads: you can add whatever fruits and nuts you like and however much you like! 

I didn't quite add as much raisins and nuts as I would have liked this time round; next time I'm definitely doubling the amount! (Recipe shown already has amounts doubled.)


06 August 2010

Classic Chiffon Cheesecake

I bought a new baking pan today - a 6-inch square pan with a removable base.  Like an excited child with a new toy, I decided that I'd make a chiffon cheesecake, since I'd that little bit of cream cheese left in the fridge.  Here goes...