Monday, 8 February 2016

Sour Cream and Vanilla Bread

Sour Cream and Vanilla Bread

This is more like a cake than a bread to be honest. But it's very very nice especially when straight out of the oven and slathered with butter. This is adapted from the Betty Crocker website and is obviously for a bread machine. You will have convert when doing it manually such as activating the yeast first, then putting them all together in a bowl. Then proving twice and finally baking. Right now I don't have the time nor the energy to do it that way. So to the bread machine I will stick!


Sour Cream and Vanilla Bread

1 sachet [2 tsp] fast action dry yeast
3 cups  bread or strong flour
3 Tbsp  sugar
1 1/2 tsp  fine salt
1 Tbsp  vanilla extract
1 egg  - slightly beaten
1/3 cup  sour cream
1 Tbsp  butter - softened
1/2 cup  water
  1. Put all ingredients in a bread machine in the order given (or according to your bread machine's instructions).
  2. Select White/Basic bread cycle. Do not use delay timings. After baking, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Dark Carrot Cake

Dark Carrot Cake
I've been tweaking this recipe for god-knows how long. See, I only get to try it whenever there's an occasion to make a sweet baked product. And now finally I can officially include this in my storehouse of family recipes.

I named it Dark Carrot Cake, instead of just Carrot Cake as Angela Nilsen did in The Ultimate Recipe Book where I adapted this from, because I plan to bake other types of carrot cakes among the thousands out there online and on cookbooks. The darkness stems from the dark muscovado sugar it uses which lends it a nice treacly smell and taste. Although it is also the source of my mild irritation because dark muscovado tends to ball-up into lumps when mixed with liquid. You can bet I did a lot of smashing and pressing to get rid of the lumps. But if you use newly bought or fresh from the box one, it won't lump that much. If you're not interested in pressing away lumps, just replace the dark muscovado with light muscovado.

Despite this, the cake is lovely especially when made a day ahead and paired with the accompanying cream cheese icing. Enjoy!


Dark Carrot Cake


Dark Carrot Cake

85 g  nuts (walnuts, brazil nuts, etc.)
1 medium orange
115 g  [scant 1 cup] raisins
225 g  self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp  bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp  ground cinnamon
175 g  dark muscovado sugar
175 ml  sunflower oil
3 eggs
280 g  finely grated carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)

*Icing:
100 g  full-fat cream cheese - room temperature
50 g  unsalted or slightly salted butter - softened
50 g  [heaping 1/3 cup] icing sugar
1 tsp  lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F.
  2. [Optional] Toast nuts in a baking sheet in the oven for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Finely chop nuts. Finely grate the zest from the orange set aside.
  4. Squeeze 2 Tbsp of juice from the orange and pour it over the raisins in a bowl. Leave to soak for about 20 minutes while you make the cake.
  5. Grease and line the base of a 8-inch/20 cm round or square baking pan with baking parchment.
  6. Combine the flour, cinnamon, and bicarbonate of soda.
  7. Put sugar in mixing bowl. Rub between fingers to break up lumps.
  8. Add in oil and beat with electric mixer on low speed until well mixed and have broken down as much of the little lumps as you can.
  9. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  10. Gently stir in the flour mixture with a large metal spoon.
  11. Fold in carrots, nuts, raisins (with the liquid), and orange zest.
  12. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes for a round pan and 55-60 minutes for a square pan or until a skewer poked in the centre comes out clean.
  13. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  14. Turn out on a wire rack, peel off the lining and let it cool completely.
  15. Mix all icing in a bowl. Spread over cake. Best if cake is left for a day or two before icing and eating.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Rocky Road

Rocky Road
Here's one very simple sweets recipe that's very much welcome all year round especially during the holidays. My youngest was especially proud of this since she did most of this for her Girl Guides confectioner's badge. Granting that was more than 4 years ago, this post took sometime to publish I have to admit.

Some versions of rocky road involves biscuits both in chunks and crumbs. We prefer this version adapted from 101 Cakes & Bakes by BBC GoodFood magazine where no biscuits mar the beauty and deliciousness of chocolates, nuts, marshmallows plus our preferred Maltesers.


Rocky Road


Rocky Road

500 g  milk or dark chocolate - broken into pieces
10 marshmallows - cut into small pieces*
85 g  pecans, walnuts, or almonds (or combination) - roughly chopped
200 g  Maltesers (optional)
  1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cool a little.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients, mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking pan lined with baking paper.
    Leave to set for around 2 hours.
  4. Remove from baking pan and cut into 1-inch squares with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped.
Note: You may add biscuits, dried fruits, and other things that may take your fancy.

Rocky Road

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Chocolate Surprise Cake

'Twas my birthday and the kids decided to bake something for me. How nice! They were thinking of doing the Chocolate Date Fudge Cake. But I told them that it's too complicated for beginners like them and just steered to something simpler. They came up with this keeper of a recipe from Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking.

Why is it called a 'surprise' cake? Well, it's got mayonnaise in it! At first I thought it was odd but come to think of it - mayonnaise consists of eggs and oil which is precisely what you put in a cake. I tell you, it was really easy to do and it turned out quite well. It's a shame my pictures don't give it justice. We had slices of it with custard and it was so delicious.


Chocolate Surprise Cake

Chocolate Surprise Cake

250 g  self-raising flour
50 g  cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
200 g  caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g  good quality mayonnaise
1 medium egg
160 ml  [2/3 cup] cold water
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch/23cm round pan or 8-inch/20cm square pan.
  2. Sift (optional) the flour, cocoa, and baking powder into a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  4. Add in all the other ingredients.
  5. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan.
  8. Ice with fudge frosting or serve with custard/cream.

Chocolate Surprise Cake

Friday, 16 October 2015

World Bread Day 2015: Barm Brack

World Bread Day 2015 (October 16)It's that time of the year again for the World Bread Day to celebrate anything to do with breads in the food blogging world. Zorra of Kochtopf as usual is ably hosting this fine blogging event.

I always loved fruited breads like tea breads/cakes, fruit loafs, etc. Toast them lightly then slather with butter and scoff down with some Earl Grey tea - yum! So what better way to try making a fruited bread than baking the Irish Barm Brack. The timing is quite right, too. For it is also traditionally served during Halloween.

I first had Barm Brack when an Irish family friend gifted us with one. It was the dark variety but packed chock-a-block full of fruits. Oh wow, it was a great introduction to this wonderful tea-time bread.

Barm Brack
Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking provided me with a workable recipe with the help of my trusted Panasonic bread machine.


Barm Brack

Barm Brack

500 g  strong white flour (or bread flour)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground mixed spice
7 g  sachet of easy-blend dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
50 g  [scant 1/4 cup] unsalted butter
50 g nbsp;[1/4 cup] caster sugar
150 g  [1 cup] currants
50 g  [1/3 cup] dried mixed peel
50 g  [1/3 cup] sultanas
300 ml  [1 1/4 cups] tepid milk

*Glaze:
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water

  1. Hand Method:
    • Combine the flour, yeast, spices, and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter.
    • Stir in the sugar and dried fruits; then the milk.
    • Once combined, turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth.
    • Place in an oiled bowl, invert dough so that the top is oiled. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
  2. Bread Machine Method:
    • Put all ingredients according to the bread machine instruction and set to dough setting.
  3. Butter a 20 cm/8 inch baking pan. Punch down dough and shape into a round to fit into the prepared pan. Cover with greased cling film and let rise in a warm place for another hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F. Bake for a further 30-35 minutes. Cover loosely with foil in the last 15 minutes. It is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom.
  5. While it is baking, make the glaze - boil the water in a small saucepan; add the sugar and cook on low heat until dissolved. Brush the syrup glaze on top of the bread and return to the oven for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from baking pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Chicken Lollipop

Chicken Lollipop
Chicken lollipops are good appetizers and very popular among kids. There's something about having a 'handle' on a piece of fried chicken that entice everyone. It is essentially fried chicken wings that are easy to make and you can use any type of marinade you like. The only hard thing about it is the preparation of the wing drummette itself where you have to scrape the meat from the bone without detaching completely and then pushing the meat all the way to the end of the bone. It is much better and easier if you can find a butcher who can do this for you. For instructions on how to do this, here a couple of links from Saveur and a video from Stella Culinary.

I've used a very simple lemon and soy sauce marinade here to make Filipino-style chicken lollipops. It was quite effective since the taste is not mixed with so many other spices and flavours. But if you want a more 'sophisticated' taste then go ahead and add more spices to the marinade.



Chicken Lollipop

1 kg  chicken wings
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 egg - beaten
1 Tbsp milk (optional)
plain flour
Panko breadcrumbs
  1. Cut, separate and prepare the chicken wings using the instructions in this link and/or in here.
  2. Mix the marinade of lemon juice and soy sauce in a bowl. Taste to see if the sour-salty combination is according to your liking. If not, adjust lemon juice and soy sauce.
  3. Marinate prepared chicken wings for about 1 hour.
  4. Drain chicken from marinade.
  5. Arrange flour and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Beat egg with milk (if using) in another bowl.
  6. Dredge chicken wings in flour first then dip in egg mixture and finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Let rest on a rack for about 30 minutes.
  7. Deep fry for 10 minutes or until golden brown.


Chicken Lollipop

Monday, 15 June 2015

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
Meatballs are much appreciated in our family. Although mainly in the spaghetti meatballs type, we also like Swedish meatballs which we often buy in the local Ikea whenever we have a chance to lumber around there. But this is the first time I have created these from scratch. Really it's very similar to the other meatballs I've done before but the main difference is in the cooked chopped onions and allspice in it. Actually, the allspice is very very important otherwise you won't have that smell and taste typical to Swedish meatballs. Alton Brown provided me with a great recipe that I adapted. And although the kids didn't like the white gravy I still think all of it is great tasting. I adjusted the recipe to cater for 1 kg of meat since almost all the minced pork or beef packets sold here are in 500 g sizes.


Swedish Meatballs

2-1/2 slices of white bread (or 2/3 cup breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup milk
4 Tbsp melted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped onions
1-1/2 tsp fine sea salt + a pinch
500 g  minced pork
500 g  minced beef
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

*Gravy
1/4 cup plain flour
3 cups beef stock
1/4 cup double cream
  1. Tear the white bread into pieces into a bowl. Add in the milk and leave to soak for about 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. In a 12-inch high-sided skillet, heat the 1-1/2 Tbsp of the butter and saute the minced onions. Sprinkle a pinch of the salt and cook until soft. Remove into a bowl or dish and let cool.
  3. Mash the soaked bread then add the rest of the ingredients. Combine until well mixed.
  4. Form into 1-1/4 inch balls (28 g/1 oz).
  5. Fry in the same skillet used for the onion using the rest of the melted butter in medium to low heat. Cook until golden brown on all sides (about 7-10 minutes). Do not crowd them too much; if need be fry in batches in which case you may have to add more butter.
  6. After frying, put the meatballs in a preheated 95°C/fan 75°C/200F oven to keep warm while making the gravy.
*For the gravy:
  1. You should have about 1 Tbsp of melted butter left in the skillet used for frying the meatballs. Decrease the heat to low and sprinkle the flour in it. Whisk until light brown - about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the beef stock gradually and simmer until thick.
  3. Stir in the double cream and cook until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Serve either covering the meatballs or on the side.

Swedish Meatballs