31 October 2010

Traditional White Bread

Today was a pretty good day.
Partly because it was raining for most of the afternoon (means it's not so hot!), and partly because my bread-making attempt turned out well. 

There's just one thing I still can't get - and that's how to get light and fluffy bread.  The breads I make all seem to turn out a little dense, even today's.  Do I need to add more yeast?  Am I not kneading it enough?  Am I not proofing it enough?  If any of you bread gurus are reading this, please please please offer me a tip or two...

Recipe for a mini loaf:
1-1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
75ml warm milk
75ml warm water
3/4 tsp butter
3/4 tsp salt
220g bread flour

1 - Combine yeast, sugar, milk and water. Set aside for about 10 min till mixture is frothy.
2 - Add butter and salt. 
3 - Add flour gradually and knead till dough is smooth and elastic (about 8 min).
4 - Placed in a greased bowl, cover with damp cloth, and let the dough rise till about double in size (about 1 hour).
5 - Deflate the dough and form into a loaf. Place in a greased loaf pan, cover with damp cloth and let the dough rise till double in size (about 40 min).
6 - Brush the top of the dough with some milk.
7 - Bake at 180*C for 30 min. 

28 October 2010

Blitzer Cakes

Why are they called Blitzer Cakes?
Because they are made using a blitzer - a.k.a. food processor. 
There couldn't be an easier way to bake.

4 easy steps to 8 mini-cakes...

Step 1:
Put all the following ingredients into the blitzer.

  • 65g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 45g sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 30ml oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbs milk

Step 2:
Blitz everything till smooth.

Step 3:
Scoop batter into muffin cases. Sprinkle choc chips or nuts if you like.

Step 4:
Bake at 160*C for about 15 min.

See, I told you it was easy!

27 October 2010

Brownie Cakes

I almost forgot why I preferred baking little individual portions rather than a large cake. The original recipe for this batter was for cupcakes, but I figured I could make a larger square cake and cut it into cute little squares. Same thing right?

Sure... just have to increase the baking time from 20 minutes to 60 minutes!! And being the impatient sort, the waiting almost drove me nuts!

Anyway, this recipe is like a cross between a brownie and choc cake. Sorta like a light brownie; not so heavy, but with the same fudgy taste. Give it a go, and you'll see what I mean.

Recipe for 8" square pan:
160g semi-sweet chocolate
150g butter
200g sugar (add more if using unsweetened choc)
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
140g plain flour

Toppings: (adjust according to taste)
chocolate chips

chopped nuts

1 - Melt chocolate and butter 
bain marie. Stir till smooth. Set aside to cool.
2 - With a mixer, combine chocolate mixture, sugar, and vanilla.
3 - Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
4 - Add flour and mix well. 

5 - Pour into a greased and lined pan. Sprinkle choc chips and nuts on top (as much as you like).
6 - Bake at 160 degC for about 60 min, or until you get moist crumbs from the centre.
7 - When still warm, sprinkle marshmallows and sprinkles and return to oven for 10-20 min till marshmallows are slightly melted and binds to the cake. Allow to cool completely before slicing. 

24 October 2010

Virgin Forest

I've been intrigued by fondant for some time. It produces such flawlessly smooth and even surfaces, and amazing definition that buttercream can never achieve.

So, starting with homemade marshmallow fondant - it's so simple, it's fail proof - I rolled out clean white sheets of fondant and wrapped the mini cakes that I made earlier in the day. With the remaining fondant, I divided it into 4 parts and dyed them with colouring paste. Halfway through kneading the colours into the fondant, my arms began to tire. Oh well, at least if I continue fondanting, I'll get nice toned arms :)

Once the dye was evenly incorporated into the fondant, it was time to play with the plungers. I felt like a kid  again - it was like playing with play-doh. Quite fun!

With all the flowers and leaves prepared, it was time to decorate! Simply dip a brush in a little water, and paint the 'glue' onto the cake's fondant. Now place the cut-out at the desired spot and press gently. Keep going till you get the pattern you want.

After a few hours, I finally completed my first attempt at fondant...

23 October 2010

Star & Princess Cupcakes

I love making cupcakes for kids. I get to play with bright and cheerful colours and it never fails to put a smile on my face. This batch of cupcakes are for twin girls. Thus the pink and yellow theme. 

Enjoy the explosion of colours!

 And here it is on the Wilton Princess Cupcake Stand

20 October 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes

On my recent trip to New Zealand, food was one of the major highlights of the each day. The first thing I reached for at each city's Visitor Centre was the city map; then it's straight for all the food guides I could find. Quickly skimming through the brochures, I would circle all the cafes and restaurants that I'd heard of, and those that received rave reviews.

One restaurant chain quickly became a favourite - Speight's Ale House. And when the dessert arrived on our 2nd visit, its fate was sealed. We were presented with one of the best chocolate desserts ever!

A rich, moist chocolate cake swimming in a pool of decadent chocolate sauce, served with freshly whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. Mmmm.......

Inspired by this heavenly indulgence, I resolved to replicate this back home.
While on the search for chocolate recipes, I chanced upon several promising recipes. Today's project is just one of the many I've saved in my to do list. It's not quite the rich, moist mudcake from New Zealand, but it's still a good recipe to share.

This recipe produces an ultra light chocolate sponge that makes a great base for a multitude of variations.

4 eggs
220g sugar
200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbs cocoa powder
200ml oil

1 - Whisk eggs till light and fluffy.
2 - Add sugar and whisk till glossy.
3 - Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk till smooth. 
4 - Fill paper liners 2/3 full.
5 - Bake at 160*C for 13-15 min.

If you're frosting the cupcakes, be sure to let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.


17 October 2010

French Bread Rolls

If you're wondering why I've been missing for some time, it's because I've been away for 2 weeks for my long overdue honeymoon. After almost 2 years since the wedding...

The first thing I baked since returning home was a Chocolate Fudge Cake with Ganache Frosting, which turned out pretty good, but by the time it was done, I was too tired to take fancy pictures. Maybe I'll post it up next time, but for now, I'd like to share a nice recipe for French Bread Rolls. It's easy to make and great as an accompaniment to a Western dinner.

Ingredients for 4 bread rolls:
90ml warm water
3/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tbs sugar
1/2 tbs oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup bread flour, plus more for dusting
sesame seeds (optional)

Combine water, yeast and sugar. Set aside for about 10 min till creamy.

Add oil, salt and half of the flour. Mix well. Gradually add remaining flour till dough comes together. Knead till smooth and elastic (about 8 min).

Place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it sit till it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

Divide dough into 4 portions, form into balls and place on greased baking pan about 5cm apart. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover with damp cloth and let it sit till it doubles in size (about 45 min).

Bake at 180 degC for about 15 min.
When done, allow rolls to cool in the oven for a softer crust. For a crunchier crust, remove from oven to cool.

I served these rolls with a seafood pasta dinner I made...

And just for fun, here's a picture of a little souvenir I got from my honeymoon.
It's a set of measuring cups in the form of mini mixing bowls - so cute, I couldn't resist!