Friday, October 24, 2014

roasted banana bread with chocolate chips

Roasting bananas is one of those things - once you have done it once, you want to do it again.

This is because when you roast bananas, the bananas not only become softer, they also become sweeter. And since this is a natural sweetness, it adds deliciousness to your bakes.
I tried a new recipe a few days ago, and I think it has to be one of my most-failed attempt at baking ever. I know there isn't such a word, but ah well, I seldom have such dismal failures when I bake and it really gets to me so the word is allowed this once. Hah!

Anyway, it was a toasted coconut banana bread recipe and the end result was not only inedible; I think if I had thrown it at my wall it would probably have made a hole.

Yeah. Seriously.

So today, since the wound was still rather raw, I decided to modify this other recipe I wanted to try and to leave out all traces of coconut.
I don't know what this would have tasted like if I had added coconut, but geez, it is delicious even without the coconut!

The bread is dense but tender, and it is crumbly without the bread falling apart on you as you are eating it. Added to all that, the little dots of melted chocolate chips in the bread really makes this one yummy loaf.
Here are the step-by-step pictorial instructions on how to make this bread.

Start by cutting really ripe bananas into chunks.
Place the bananas on a lined (and greased) baking tray.
Drizzle some honey and sprinkle cinnamon on the bananas. Roast at 200°C for 20-25 minutes, or until the bananas are golden brown and caramelized.
Transfer the bananas into a bowl and mash immediately.
Set this aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until well mixed.
Add Greek yogurt (or buttermilk or coconut milk) and canola oil (or coconut oil).
Whisk to combine.
Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
Add the flour and use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix until just combined.
Finally, add the chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks). Mix to distribute.
Transfer the batter into a greased and lined 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Bake at 170°C for 45-55 minutes, or until an inserted skewer emerges cleanly.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This is an easy peasy bake that is fabulous for breakfast, or as a snack!
Enjoy!

RECIPE
Roasted Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips (serves 8-10)
Loosely adapted from halfbakedharvest

Ingredients:
4 very ripe bananas
2 tablespoons (30ml) honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups (150g) white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (62.5g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup (100g) loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) canned coconut milk (or buttermilk or Greek yogurt) - I used Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (120ml) melted coconut oil (or canola oil) - I use canola oil
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
4 ounces (113.5g) dark chocolate, chopped (use more or less to your liking)
1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional) - I omitted this
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes (optional) - I omitted this

Method: 
1. Start by cutting really ripe bananas into chunks. Place the bananas on a lined (and greased) baking tray.
2. Drizzle some honey and sprinkle cinnamon on the bananas. Roast at 200°C for 20-25 minutes, or until the bananas are golden brown and caramelized.
3. Transfer the bananas into a bowl and mash immediately. Set this aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until well mixed.
5. Add Greek yogurt (or buttermilk or coconut milk) and canola oil (or coconut oil). Whisk to combine.
6. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
7. Add the flour and use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix until just combined.
8. Finally, add the chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks). Stir to distribute.
9. Bake at 170°C for 45-55 minutes, or until an inserted skewer emerges cleanly.
10. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

40 minute cheese buns

It was one of those really strange days. We had a dim sum lunch with family, then the kids were whisked off to the aquarium, so the LAM and I went home and I just felt totally lethargic.

I was probably suffering from food coma.

I lazed around for a couple of hours, and finally convinced myself that I should go make SOMETHING.

Well, what I did feel like making was some bread.

So I started making a tang zhong starter. But that meant I had to wait for the starter to cool to room temperature before I could use it.
BAH.

In times like this, I am just so glad I can turn to the 40 minute bread recipe. No waiting. The bread can be made in 40 minutes from start to end.

I like.

So I made the dough. For step-by-step instructions, see here.

Once the dough was made, divide it into 12 portions, each weighing about 80-85g. Flatten and roll each portion of dough into a disc.
Place about 2-3 tablespoons of cheddar (or any cheese you prefer) on the middle of the dough.
Gather the edges.
Pinch to seal.
Place the bun into the hole of a greased 6-hole muffin pan.

Cover the buns with a damp cloth and rest for 10 minutes.
Brush with egg wash.
 And sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake at 220°C for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are golden brown. Cool the buns in the pans for 10-15 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

RECIPE
40 Minute Cheese Buns (Makes 12)

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) warm water
1/3 cup (83ml) oil
2 tablespoons (about 16g) active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
1/4 cups (56.25g) sugar
1 1/2 (9g) teaspoons salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cup (or about 476g) bread flour (seems to work better but all purpose flour will also work)
1 cup (115g) Cheddar
Parmesan, grated for garnishing

Method:
1. Heat oven to 220°C.
2. In your mixer bowl combine the water, oil, yeast and sugar and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Using your dough hook, mix in the salt, egg and flour.
3. Knead with hook until will incorporated and dough is soft and smooth. (Just a few minutes) The dough will be a little sticky. I oiled my hands, knead it one to two times, and it became really easy to shape. If your dough is too wet, add a little more flour and knead a few times.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A MIXER, just hand knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
4. Form dough into 12 balls. Flatten and roll each ball into a disc.
5. Place 2-3 tablespoons of cheddar in the middle of the dough. Gather the edges and pinch to seal.
6. Place each dough in a hole of a well-greased 6-hole muffin pan.
7. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Glaze with egg wash. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTE:
To keep rolls soft, wrap with cling film and keep in an air-tight container (I keep the rolls in cling film in my oven.)
If you keep the rolls in the fridge, warm in the microwave oven for about 20 - 30 seconds to soften.

TROUBLESHOOTING:
1. Dough is too wet or sticky? Add a little oil and hand knead a couple of times. The dough should become easy to work with. Still too wet? Add a little less water.
2. You can use any oil. Maybe not peanut oil. Unless you want a peanut-y bread. Olive oil, Canola oil, Sunflower oil, Grape seed oil... all can be used.
3. Personally, I have not had any problems with the bread being too yeasty. If you find it so, change the yeast and try different ones till you find one that you like.
4. Conversion of flour from cups to grams: This is a conversion I got online. You may still need to adjust.
5. Oven temperature: Every oven is different. You need to understand your oven, so if you have one that tends to be hot, lower the baking temperature, and vice versa.
6. I do not recommend that you reduce the yeast quantities because this is a quick bread. You need the yeast to make it work. Similarly, you need the sugar to feed the yeast so it works.
7. You can put any filling you like in this bread. It is very versatile.
8. You can also glaze with milk (full-fat, low-fat, skim, etc), sprinkle any toppings you like.
9. I don't recommend that you rest the dough for more than 10 minutes. From feedback I received, the bread may be less soft.
10. You can use 1/2 bread flour, and 1/2 wholemeal flour, or 100% plain flour. The results are the same. You can't use top flour. There isn't enough protein to form gluten. 
11. Every environment differs. You may live somewhere humid, or dry, or hot, or cold. If in doubt, check what other bakers recommend that you do for the weather conditions you live in, and experiment! You may need to tweak timings/ baking temperature, etc. Don't give up!

I went to Ikea the other day to get a bed for my little girl and Christmas decorations are already being sold! Yes! It is THAT TIME OF THE YEAR to eat, drink and be merry! Are you getting excited? :)

Are you planning to cook anything special for this Christmas???  Or maybe start baking batches of delicious Christmas goodies? For Christmas 2014, Yen from Eat your heart out, Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids and yours truly, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and  are cooking and celebrating for the whole month of December 2014 starting on 1st December. Join us and remember to link your post with us if you are cooking something special for your Christmas celebration.





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

xiamen minced meat rice 厦门肉酱伴饭

I was thinking of either making katsu don or bibimbap for dinner.

Something easy. Preferably a one-bowl dinner so I could pretend to do a Nigella (Lawson) and curl on on the sofa in front of the TV to eat my dinner.

Never mind that I don't eat dinner on my sofa, or that we don't have a TV in front of the sofa. It is one of those things I'd fantasize about doing once in a blue moon.
Anyway, I digress. So I ran out of chicken - yep it does happen once in a while - and the LAM is not a fan of Korean food in general, so I had to think of something else I could cook.

It so happened that I was flipping through my copy of "A Trip Down Memory Lane: Signature Dishes from the Tan Family" by David Tan Sek Yin and there was a recipe for this minced meat rice bowl.

The dish has meat, and loads of vegetables and egg (love!) and it was something the LAM would happily eat, so it was a no-brainer.

And, I did have some minced pork in the freezer, so I guess it was fated that I made this for dinner? :P

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this dish.

Start by marinating the mince with five spice powder, white pepper, sugar, corn starch and light soy sauce. Give it a good stir and set it aside.
Cut the potatoes into small cubes.
Deep fry the potato cubes until they turn golden brown. Place the potato on kitchen towels to drain.
In a hot wok, add vegetable oil. Stir fry the shallots until they turn soft and translucent.
Add the garlic, give it a quick stir, then add the meat.
When the meat was about 75% cooked, add the potato cubes, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine and water.
 Stir to combine before covering the wok with a lid to simmer for a minute.
Add the frozen vegetables, dark soy sauce and fried shallots.
Continue stirring until the liquid reduces. Season with salt and turn off the heat.
Place some rice in a bowl, top with the meat sauce and a fried egg.
Find a sofa if you must. Turn on the TV, fold your legs under you and tuck in!

RECIPE
Xiamen Minced Meat Rice 厦门肉酱伴饭 (Serves 4-6)
Adapted from "A Trip Down Memory Lane: Signature Dishes from the Tan Family" by David Tan Sek Yin

Ingredients:
400g minced meat (pork, chicken, beef or lamb)
200g frozen vegetables
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
250ml water
100g shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion, diced - I omitted this
4 cloves garlic, minced
*4 eggs, fried sunny side up
*2 cups rice, cooked
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
4-5 tablespoons fried shallots
salt, to taste

Marinade for the minced meat:
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon sugar - I used 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoon light soy sauce

Method:
1. Start by marinating the mince with five spice powder, white pepper, sugar, corn starch and light soy sauce. Give it a good stir and set it aside.
2. Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Deep fry the potato cubes until they turn golden brown. Place the potato on kitchen towels to drain.
3. In a hot wok, add vegetable oil. Stir fry the shallots until they turn soft and translucent.
4. Add the garlic, give it a quick stir, then add the meat.
5. When the meat was about 75% cooked, add the potato cubes, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine and water.
6.  Stir to combine before covering the wok with a lid to simmer for a minute.
7. Add the frozen vegetables, dark soy sauce and fried shallots.
8. Continue stirring until the liquid reduces. Season with salt and turn off the heat.
9. Place some rice in a bowl, top with the meat sauce and a fried egg.

I went to Ikea the other day to get a bed for my little girl and Christmas decorations are already being sold! Yes! It is THAT TIME OF THE YEAR to eat, drink and be merry! Are you getting excited? :)

Are you planning to cook anything special for this Christmas???  Or maybe start baking batches of delicious Christmas goodies? For Christmas 2014, Yen from Eat your heart out, Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids and yours truly, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and  are cooking and celebrating for the whole month of December 2014 starting on 1st December. Join us and remember to link your post with us if you are cooking something special for your Christmas celebration.


Monday, October 20, 2014

sour cream cake with vanilla glaze and caramel sauce

This is my last bake from Carole Walter's "Great Cakes". The Cake Slice Bakers will be moving on to our new book from next month and I really cannot wait to start!

I have total admiration for Carole Walter and her Absolute the Best Yellow Cake will be on my list of favorites for years and years to come.

I guess I am just ready to move on to something different, and that is what our new baking book is. So do come back on the 20th of next month to take a look at whose book we shall be baking from for the year to come!
Okay, back to my last cake from "Great Cakes". I was given the freedom to choose which ever cake I like from the book and bake it. So since I've had great success with this Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt, and I wanted to play with my new Bundt pan, I thought I would go for a Sour Cream Cake.

Sour cream cakes are lovely. They are seldom dry, and the cakes are almost always tender. I topped my cake with a quick vanilla glaze as well as some caramel that I had made.
Here's how to make this deliciously moist cake.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until the mixture turns light and fluffy. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated.
The mixture will appear curdled. No matter how many times I bake, I still cannot stand the sight of a curdled mixture. EEK.
Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and the sour cream in the sequence flour-sour cream- flour-sour cream-flour, mixing until just incorporated after each addition.
The resulting batter is smooth and creamy.
Transfer the batter into a greased (and floured - I don't flour my Bundt pans but you may want to do so) Bundt pan and smooth the top as best as you can.
Bake at 175°C for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the deepest part emerges cleanly. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before inverting it very gently onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the vanilla glaze by placing the icing sugar, boiling water, corn syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl.
Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Drizzle the vanilla glaze over the cake, along with the caramel sauce. The recipe for home made caramel sauce can be found here.
Cut yourself a (relatively) huge slice.
Go to your happy place and feel yourself getting happier!

RECIPE
Sour Cream Cake (Makes a 12-cup Bundt)
Adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carol Walter

Note: You can halve the recipe and bake in a 6-cup Bundt pan or a 9x5-inch loaf pan

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups (225g) cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (125g) caster sugar - I reduced this by 50%
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5ml) vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (320g) sour cream

Method:
1. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until the mixture turns light and fluffy. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. The mixture will appear curdled.
3. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and the sour cream in the sequence flour-sour cream- flour-sour cream-flour, mixing until just incorporated after each addition. The resulting batter is smooth and creamy.
4. Transfer the batter into a greased (and floured - I don't flour my Bundt pans but you may want to do so) Bundt pan and smooth the top as best as you can.
5. Bake at 175°C for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the deepest part emerges cleanly. 6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before inverting it very gently onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Drizzle the vanilla glaze over the cake, along with the caramel sauce. The recipe for home made caramel sauce can be found here.

Vanilla Glaze (Makes enough for one 12-cup Bundt cake)
Adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carol Walter

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups (187.5g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (30ml) boiling water
1 ½ teaspoons (7.5ml) corn syrup
¾ teaspoon (3.75ml) vanilla extract

Method:
1. Make the vanilla glaze by placing the icing sugar, boiling water, corn syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl.
2. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Always a pleasure to be baking with