Monthly Archives: April 2010

I Eat Bears

I’m off to Bali tonight, for a long weekend with a girl friend from uni! So, til then, I thought my bears and bunnies could keep you company.

I suffer from Stuffedtoyitis. It’s quite normal around this household. I don’t know if it’s a genetic problem but my mom is guilty of it too, and my sisters? Hell yeah.

I hate calling it a disease since it makes it sounds alot worse than it is. Call me insane but I like to think that I’m grown accustomed to it’s ‘side-effects’ such as weird stares from colleagues and friends wondering where in the world they picked me up from. The Boy is used to it, actually, I think he’s showing mild signs of Stuffedtoyitis.

And if you’re wondering how to spot those with this syndrome, tell-tale signs include…

1) talking to stuffed toys as if they would really respond
2) giving them names like slumber, Mr P and Blub (short for Blueberry Muffin)
3) watching TV with them because their favourite show is CSI Miami

These are just to name a few. And before you run away thinking all hell has broken loose, remind yourself of Mr Snuffles or your tattered blanket and relish in the joy he brought you. That’s how happy we feel everyday. Society may not be very accepting, but they’re just a grumpy lot.

The bears and bunnies I present today may not be as cuddly as Mr P (my polar bear), but they’re tasty, never get dusty, and are a very obedient bunch. They roll out easily, detach themselves from the baking paper amazingly well and are quick to make without having to chill your dough. Got you with the last step didn’t i?

Sugar Bears and Bunnies (adapted from KAF’s Sugar Cookies)

1.5 cup – 2 tbsp gf flour
2 tbsp gf flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp cream cheese*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 an egg (break 1 egg, beat, divide into two)

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

2) In a bowl of a KitchenAid, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and beat well.

3) Add in the cream cheese and vanilla. Beat. Add in the flour. Beat until the mixture forms a smooth dough. It will look as if it won’t come together but it will.

4) If dough is too soft to roll out, chill for 30 minutes and try again. If dough is firm enough, roll out on a baking sheet until 1/4 inch thick. Use cute cutters to cut out shapes and gently peel it off the baking paper as if you were peeling a sticker. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until gently browned and surface feels firm to touch. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

5) I melted chocolate chips for the faces and piped the details on.

PROBLEM! My chocolate didn’t set so the facial details smudge when touched. Should I put them in the fridge to set up?

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Recipes

Banana Cream Pie

This evening’s quite exciting for me. I have a date with two guys no less. Tall, slim and smart- The Boy better watch out! Just pulling you. I’m heading out for dinner with my two cousins. Their birthdays are coming up and I won’t be here so we thought we’d better have a dinner to celebrate.

And just when I thought I had the better of evening plans, The Boy tells me he’s off to watch Shutter Island. BLAH. I think he secretly know I’m itching to watch it but am too much of a wuss to without him.

I am a bit of a scaredy cat. But not today. Today I tried to make banana cream pie. That immediately makes me a brave soul since the the very word ‘pie’ instills some shaky fear into the baker in me. It really shouldn’t. Regular gluten pastry is a breeze to make, the rolling out may be slightly trying in 32 degree C weather, but nothing enough leave you an exasperated mess.

But gluten-free pastry making is a whole new other game plan. It’s lotsa work and personally, I find that the results are usually not worth to effort I put in. Bland, too hard, too ‘chewy’, too oily…it just isn’t the scrummy, buttery and flaky masterpiece. I HATE PIE.

I know I’ve had 60 percent success with this plum galette once but it really lacks all that is pie beauty. So I tried again. Craving banana and custard, I opted for a banana cream pie variation without the usual whipped topping since I didn’t have cream on hand. So pie crust filled with dark chocolate, sliced bananas and pastry custard was the order of the day!

The result?

The sides of the crust were yummy and crisp but the bottom just wouldn’t listen! It was pleasant but short on the BAM! YUM! factor. The chocolate, bananas and custard were superb friends though, lifting the mediocre crust to delicious heights. But yeah, I guess this Sugar High Friday challenge: Personal Feats of Dessert hosted by Jasper of Vampituity wasn’t too much of a uber success. But hey, I tried! So, anyone with a killer gluten-free pie crust recipe?

Oh, and after all the fuss, I realize The Boy is watching Shutter (the Thai scary flick) and not the brain-puzzling Shutter Island.


Pie crust: I used the same recipe I used here, hoping to give it a second try. I made half the recipe and got 3 pie shells baked in jumbo muffin tins.

Pastry Cream (taken from The Cook’s Book)

250ml whole milk
22.5 cornflour
40g sugar (increase to 60g if you prefer a sweeter cream)
1 vanilla pod (I use 1 tsp vanilla paste)
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp milk, at room temperature

1) Place the milk in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Whisk it constantly, to prevent the sides fromĀ  burning

2) In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick. Add in the cornflour and whisk to thoroughly blend.

3) Once milk begins to boil, remove from heat and in a slow steady stream, add it to the egg mixture, whisking as you pour it in. Then, strain back into the saucepan, adding the vanilla.

4) With the saucepan over medium heat, whisk the egg mixture as it heats. It will begin to thicken quite quickly. At this point, ensure that you whisk the pastry cream really well. When you see the first signs of bubbling through the pastry cream, remove from heat and immediately pour it into bowl and place a sheet of plastic wrap over it, touching the surface. Let cool in the fridge until ready to use.

5) When ready to use, remove from fridge, whisking to smoothen the cream and adding 1 tbsp of milk to make it less ‘tough’

To assemble tart:

1) Melt 60g of dark chocolate (70%) and paint the insides of the pie shells. Allow to briefly set (10 minutes)

2) For every 3 pie shells, slice 1 medium banana thinly. Place 3 banana slices on the chocolate bottom, topping it with 2-3 tbsp of custard. Top with another 3 banana slices and some chocolate chips.

3) If desired, add a glaze over the bananas to prevent browning. You can use a watered down apricot jam.

19 Comments

Filed under Chocolate, Events, Fruit, Recipes

Chocolate Chip Cookie and the City

Sinful is the best way to describe the last two days and a half.

As if a treat to the movies with a girl friend for a belly full of laughs wasn’t enough, my colleague invited me to the gala reception of Animal Farm, an adaptation of George Orwell’s classic but much, much funnier.

This is probably one of the many reasons why I love my job. It’s got me looking at Singapore in a whole new light. Being away for so long, I suddenly feel like I’m finally being let into the inclusive ‘know-Singapore-better’ club. Suddenly, I realize this little, yet greedy island, wants to be a part of everything. And I LOVE IT!

Two dinner dates and plenty of kakigori (Japanese shaved ice), crispy shrimp pancake and eating taste-testing the cakes for the company picnic this arvo. Weekends are completely edible affairs!

Speaking of edible, I’ve been doing some edible research. You know how every diligent blogger has inevitably done the ‘perfect chocolate chip cookie’ research module at baker school? Well, I’ve been cheating. I have been using their hard, hard work and using it for my own baking pleasure. And a few too many cookies, I have this to report. Aging the cookie batter for a few hours, or better yet, overnight, does improve it’s quality. I’m not sure why though. Can anyone tell me why?

These cookies are crisp. I suppose if you under bake them slightly, maybe 2 minutes less, you’ll get the chew-chew of the chewy.

Munch munch.


Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookie (adapted from Sur La Table)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 c + 2 tbsp GF Flour Blend
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts or raisins (optional)

1)Prepare an airtight container to store the dough overnight.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the softened butter and sugars together until pale and fluffy, about 2 mins on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula

3) In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda and salt together.

4) Add in eggs one at a time into the butter mix, blending well after each addition. Don’t worry if it looks curdled, once you add the flour it’ll be alright.

5) Add in the vanilla and the flour, blend until there are no streaks of flour.

6) Add in the choc chips and nuts. Mix well. Transfer dough to an airtight container and leave dough in fridge overnight.

7) Bring dough to room temperature (I left mine out for 30 mins in a bowl of warm water). Preheat oven to 180degreesC and line baking sheets with parchment. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto the baking parchment and bake for 18 minutes (crisp). Leave to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. SINK YOUR TEETH INTO THEM!

5 Comments

Filed under Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes

Afternoon Delight

There’s a buzz around here. And while it’s normally a good thing, this time it’s got us feeling worried, vexed and sympathetic.

Wherever you’re from, you’ve probably heard about the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Already scary because it is a mighty large volcano, it’s now made worse when tens of thousands are stranded, unable to leave countries because of the heavy smoggy skies plagued by volcanic ashes. The only upside to this is that my sister will be home for a few more days until the airlines can reschedule her a flight back to school. But, it’s probably a halfway up sort of upside, since exams were nearing for her and she wanted to go back to revise.

But onto something lighter, we had a different sort of Saturday today. Not spending it at the malls doing our routine ‘power-walk’, desperately avoiding crowds (if even possible), we had a summery lunch at my uncle’s featuring my grandma’s cooking followed by dessert, dessert and more dessert. See! This appreciation of sugar is genetic.

I just had to bake something from my Ottolenghi cookbook which I haven’t had the chance to break into yet. So, what do you do with a craving for apples? Bake apple cake with maple cream cheese frosting, gluten free of course! Fluffy, tender, full of fruit happiness yet rich enough from the cream cheese to put a big fat smile on your face. It’s Ottolenghi afterall! Oh, and if you’re in love with the plate from the first photo, it’s my aunt’s. And trust me when I tell you she has the nicest collection of pretty chinawear! Tea party worthy!


Apple and Raisin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from The Ottolenghi Cookbook)

80g raisins
4 tbsp water
2 cups – 1 tbsp GF flour blend
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup canola oil (original: olive oil, but I don’t like the taste)
100g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3.5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm cubes
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites
2 tbsp caster sugar + 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Spray a 8 inch square/round baking tin with baking spray. Line with baking paper, allowing an ‘overhang’ over the sides. This facilitates the removal process.

2) Place the raisins and the water in a medium saucepan, simmering until for 15 mins or until most of the water has been absorbed. Leave to cool.

3) Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

4) In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil and sugar until well mixed. Add in the eggs, whisk until thick and smooth. Add in the vanilla, apples, raisins and lemon zest. Mixture will seem incredibly thick.

5) Fold in the flour mix until homogeneous.

6) In the bowl of a KitchenAid, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in the caster sugar + cream of tartar mixture, and whisk until stiff but not dry peaks form.

7) Gently fold into the apple batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 20-30 mins, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

8) Once completely cooled, remove from baking tin and slice into half horizontally. Spread half of the frosting on the bottom layer, cover the with top layer and spread with remaining frosting. If not eating immediately, refrigerate. Let the cake come to room temperature before chowing down!

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

100g unsalted butter, softened
70g brown sugar
85ml maple syrup (the real deal, not imitation ones!)
250g cream cheese, room temperature.

1) In the bowl of a KitchenAid, beat the butter, sugar and syrup until well mixed. Add in the cream cheese and beat until fluffy and no lumps are visible. It will take awhile, mine did, but sooo worth it!

17 Comments

Filed under Books, Breakfast, Cakes, Frostings, Fruit, Recipes

It Only Rains at 5pm

Recent scientific research has shown that rainfall is most common between the hours of 4.30 and 5pm. According to Sweets By Vicky, “the rain is always heaviest around 5.30pm, when I’m about to leave the office and go home.” Furthermore, scientists have found compelling evidence which accentuates their claim that rainfall is most likely to happen when one has on their new heels and has forgotten to bring with them an umbrella.

In other news…

My house smells weird. Not in a bad way, but in a there-is-Chinese-food-stewing-on-the-stove and orange-chocolate-sunflower seed-muffins-in-the-oven way. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the clashing of aromas before.

And this leads me to a completely non-weird-smell-relatedĀ  issue: my little sis is going back to the UK. *SIGH* One less person to annoy in the household, I’m devastated to say the least. On the up side…I get more chocolate when she comes home next!

Rainy Day Orange, Chocolate and Sunflower Seed Muffins

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp GF flour blend
2 tbsp buckwheat flour (millet/almond meal works too)
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I strongly suggest replacing half with non-fat yoghurt)
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup chocolate chips (large chunks will sink)
2 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp sunflower seeds (untoasted)

1) Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat oven to 170 degreesC, fanforced

2) In a large bowl, sift the GF flour, baking power, buckwheat flour and baking soda.

3) In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, orange zest, sugar and oil together until homogeneous. Discard 2 tbsp of the mixture.

4) Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Quickly whisk the ingredients until just incorporated. Divide evenly among paper cups.

5) Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool before eating or it will seem ‘sticky’.

6) Muffins aren’t that sweet so a smear of butter or nutella would do it good.

13 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, Chocolate, Recipes

Greedy Cupcake

I have a confession to make.

I tend to want everything and nothing at the same time. It’s quite a common sight around this area. It starts like this. I think about option A and decide to go with it. But option B comes along, usually by fault of someone trying to be good natured and offering advice (better or not, is a different story). I fall for it. So now both option A and B are roaming around in my head. And throw in a couple of bad days, too much chocolate and more advice? The equation = a very confused, cookie-stuffed me.

And all I want to do is flail my arms, big huff, and do anything else but think. Sound familiar guys?

But I must say that sometimes, being greedy and wanting everything has it’s perks. Like my greedy cupcake…

1) Had to use up 2 brown speckled bananas
2) Really wanted something with a difference (taste buds get bored easily)
3) Needed it to feel light and summery (for mood uplifting purposes)

*queue Powerpuff Girl theme song* And so, the Greedy Cupcake was born! Fighting absolute taste bud boredom, ginger, lime and banana have dedicated their lives to bring you eternal cupcake bliss!

Right, inner geek.

The ginger cupcake is fluffy and isn’t too spicy. The saute bananas were sweet, mildly salty and buttery. Accompanied by a rich, tangy lime buttercream (American b.cream), it’s quite a treat for the senses.

Gluten Free Ginger Cupcakes (makes 7, odd number)

1/3 cup canola oil
40g brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp condensed milk
2 tsp ginger juice, freshly squeezed
1 large egg
1 cup + 1 tbsp GF flour blend
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Line 7 muffin cups with paper liners.

2) In the bowl of a KitchenAid, with a wire whisk attachment, whisk the egg and sugar together for 2 mins on medium. Mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

3) Add in the oil and whisk for another minute or until emulsified.

4) Add in the ginger juice and vanilla. Whisk to blend. Add in the milk mixture, mix well.

5) Tip all the flour in and slowly incorporate, so you don’t end up looking like frosty the snowman. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure it’s all mixed in.

6) Divide evenly among paper cases, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Saute Banana Filling

2 medium, very ripe bananas, sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
20g butter
splash of rum

1) In a nonstick pan, heat the butter and the bananas until all the butter has melted.

2) Add in the sugar and swirl until all has dissolved and is syrupy. Bananas should be very soft too.

3) Remove from heat and mash the bananas up using the back of a fork.

4) When bananas have cooled to room temp, add in the rum and mix. Set aside until ready to fill.

Lime Buttercream

125g unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1) Beat the softened butter in the bowl of a KitchenAid, paddle attachment. Add in the icing sugar and beat to combine. Start slow so it doesn’t get everywhere. Add in 2 tbsp of lime juice and incorporate. If it isn’t tangy enough, add in the lime juice, 1/2 tbsp at a time.

To Assemble Mr. Greedy Cupcake

1) Using a sharp knife, cut out a cone from the cupcake. Using a teaspoon remove the inside of the cupcake, about 2 tsp worth of cake. Cut the point part of the cone off, leaving the ‘lid’ behind.

2) Fill the cupcake to the brim with the saute bananas. Cover it with the ‘lid’, pressing down slightly.

3) With a piping bag fitting with a star tip, pipe a swirl of buttercream on top. I don’t like to overdo the extravagant swirl since it make the cupcake too sweet.

4) Do it ladylike and eat your cupcake with a fork. Or alternatively, if caught in confusing situation like above, just dig in.

15 Comments

Filed under Cakes, Frostings, Fruit, Inspired, Recipes

Bananas and Crunchy Toffee

I have a dilemma. Those of you who shudder at the thought of a potentially girly post, scroll right down to the bottom for the definitely-not-girly banana cake with crunchy toffee almond topping. The rest of you? Stay with me, I need advice. You ready?

Okay, here goes. Should I cut my hair? I completely understand that you probably can’t help much since most of you haven’t even met me, but we’ll just do this hypothetically. I’ve basically had long hair all my life before I chopped it off 7 years ago and have had it pretty short up until now. Now, I have the option to grow it out or chop it- it’s at that ghastly-odd-in-between length.

I’m starting to get irritated with it, the strands tickling my face. But at the same time, I don’t want to be the girl-with-the-short-hair. Oh blah, tell me someone out there is going through this agonizing hair phase too!

Alright, I’m all out of hair rants. In the spirit of Friday night (aren’t we lucky we get it every week?), I baked a banana cake with crunchy toffee almond topping. Some days I’m all for fluffy cake, but the way I roll with banana cake is dense, moist and substantial. The sort of cake you can sink your teeth into and know you’re going to get a mighty awesome chew outta it. The crunchy toffee almonds are great for textural contrast, and I may have slightly over browned my caramel but it turned out working well with the sweet, honey tinted cake.

And well, how detrimental can it be? It’s got overripe bananas, honey, almonds and brown sugar.


Crunchy Toffee Nut Topping

150g almond flakes
100g sugar

1) In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar over a medium heat. Do not stir at all, but if some parts brown faster than others, swirl the pan to distribute the sugar.Once it’s a caramel brown, immediately remove from heat. It will continue browning even when it’s off the heat so do take it off slightly lighter than you intend for it to be.

2) Quickly mix in the almond flakes until evenly coated and pour over semi cool cake, piling high in the middle. Allow to cool completely before cutting yourself a large slice of textural love.

Gluten Free Banana Cake (adapted from Classic Essential Cakes)
*gluten free and dairy free

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe banana (abt 4 medium)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 cup soy milk
1 3/4 cup GF flour blend
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup almond meal

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Grease and line a 8inch round baking pan wit parchment.

2) In a large bowl, sift the flour blend, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the almond meal.

3) In a bowl of a KitchenAid, with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar for 1 min. Add in the flour and beat on high for 1 min.

4) Add in the vanilla and soy milk. Beat for 30s. Add in the mashed bananas and honey. Add in the flour mix and beat to combine.

5) Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until skewer inserted comes out alomst* clean.

6) Pour the almond topping over it and leave to cool completely. You’ll need quite a strong knife to cut through the mountain of crrrunch.

*Mine had a tiny bit of batter on it, but it’s coz of some larger banana chunks.

21 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, Caramel, Fruit, Recipes