Category Archives: Books

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

I caved. I let myself sink my teeth into warm cranberry scones slathered with mascarpone and apricot jam. And look what’s happened now- fuzzy head, my judgement’s all furry and not to mention the slightly ballooning tummy. Silly, silly and silly. What a good slap on the head to remind myself why I avoid it in the first place. Want proof? I knocked over a whole glass of water during dinner, shocking both the unsuspecting waitress and me, mid-chew.

My brain’s all over the place, my mind is as scattered as mad skittles falling to the ground. It’s like a crazy little hurricane building inside of me. I thought I might come online to rant but who’s really free to listen to someone else’s burden? You’ve probably got a pile of laundry that needs to be washed; the train never comes on time and everytime you’re late for work the boss always has something to say; the sandwich you paid good money for is cold and dry; the dress of your dreams never comes in your size; your new shoes are giving you blisters; you spilled wine down the front of your new shirt; your phone runs out of battery halfway through the day; the lady in front of you takes forever to decide what to order…you get the drift.

Let’s start a ‘Be Thankful Day’. I’m tired of listing all the rubbish we go through and feel each day. And listing all the things I want to do and achieve makes me feel mildly depressed. So I’ll write about the things I already have. You should grab a pen too, we’ll do it together alright?

1) I’m going to see Rachel Allen in less than a month.
2) My hair has finally almost grown past my shoulders… :)
3) Next week’s a 4 day work week!
4) A super sweet friend all the way in Melbourne sent me a notebook and a card just to put a smile on my face
5) I’m going to have coconut cupcakes for breakfast tomorrow and they’re gluten, egg, dairy and refined sugar free.

It’s not the biggest list, but it’s a start and I feel better already. Actually, I think I might have a cookie to cheer me up.

If your day looks like grey skies ahead, these cupcakes have a great fluffy texture and the aroma from the natural sweeteners and toasted coconut will take you somewhere else, away from crazy town. If you’re not dairy intolerant, a gorgeous swish of cream cheese would work like a charm.

April also marks the Springtime Brunches edition of Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free! hosted by Maggie at She Let Me Eat Cake. It’s going to be a good one, I know it; Easter’s in the air and brunch is the perfect meal for having the best of both worlds (pancakes for lunch…SWEET!). You need to check out her round up.

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes (adapted from The Flying Apron Bakery Book), makes 33 cupcakes

4 cups brown rice flour (I only had white rice flour on hand)
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/3 cups canola oil (seems like alot but the cupcakes are generously sized)
3 cups water
1 tsp apple cider
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups palm sugar, (comes in a block; grate roughly and melt in a saucepan, measure)
1 cup agave syrup
3 cups shredded, toasted coconut

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Line 33 muffin holes (if you don’t have that many, I suggest halving the recipe or putting the batter in the fridge while the rest bake).

2) In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and baking soda together.

3) In another large bowl, whisk the syrup, palm sugar, water, vanilla extract and oil together. Add in the flour mix in 3 turns, whisking well after each addition. Add in the toasted coconut, mix well and divide evenly into the muffin holes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes and remove from tin to cool completely.

To Finish:

Grate another 100g of palm sugar and melt with 2 tbsp of water. Use that as a glaze to allow mounds of shredded, toasted coconut to stick.Add a drizzle of dark chocolate for a cupcake akin to a bounty chocolate bar. :)

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Filed under Books, Breakfast, Cupcakes, Fruit

Homemade Oreos

There are some things that I get obsessed with…and never stop being obsessed until I’ve had so much of it, I feel my knees buckle and my heart ceases to feel the flutter anymore…that is until I get reminded of how great it is and the whole mad cycle starts again.

I first felt this way with Barbie. The clothes, the shoes, the house, the car…the ugly ken doll…and when I turned 14 I thought “meh, time to get over it…” But every year on Halloween after that, I wanted to dress up as Barbie. And I finally did, blonde wig and all. Wasn’t a good look.

Another time I felt it was with jeans. I never grew up wearing the stuff so when skinny jeans was all the rage and every IT girl had their butts squeezed into one, I was all about them too. Pair after pair after pair. Turns out, not only did the make me look short, they also deprived me of half the breathing I should’ve been doing whilst in them.

And lately, my obsession has been deep fried Oreos. It started when I saw an episode of America’s Next Top Model, and one of the models made the confection for everyone in the house. And then I went onto just about every site and started ogling at their Oreos. And then Flour arrived; the amazing book that Joanna Chang has penned. And in there lay the most perfect recipe for Oreos. So I made them, dunked them and boasted about them. I think I’ll be making another batch sooner than you can say deep fried Oreos and Oreo thickshake.

Gluten-free Oreos (adapted from Flour by Joanna Chang)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and semi cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (200g) semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 1/2 cups GF Flour blend + 2 tbsp
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder (to achieve that black look)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1) In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add in the egg and mix well.

2) In another bowl, stir the flour, cocoa powder (sifted), salt and baking soda. Using a spatula, stir in the chocolate mixture. Joanna says the dough will seem floury- mine seemed a little wet so I added in 2 tbsp of flour. It should have the consistency of playdoh. Let dough sit at room temperature to firm up for an hour. (After this, I shaped them into 1-inch balls, flattened them and baked them. If not, follow the next step)

3) Transfer dopugh to a 15-inch square of parchment. Using your hands, shape dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2.5inches wide. Place the log at the end of the sheet of paper and roll it up around the log. With the log fully encased in the paper, smooth is out while keeping it at 2.5 inches wide. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Log may settle after awhile so re-roll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain it’s rounded shape.

4) Position rack in the middle of the oven. Heat oven to 175°C.

5) Cut log into 0.25inch thick slices and place them about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for 20-25 minutes (start checking at 17 minutes). They should feel firm to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until warm. Remove onto wire rack to cool completely. Fill one half with about 1 tablespoon of filling before sandwiching.

Filling

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

1) In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat all the ingredients together until you get a smooth buttercream.

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Filed under Books, Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes

When Life Hands You Lemons…


Squeeze ’em in people’s eyes!

That’s what my little sister would wish she could do. It’s probably her favourite David & Goliath tee slogan.

I, on the other hand, would bake lemon cake then use the remaining lemon ‘shell’ to perfume my microwave. Or maybe I would make a lemon curd and yearn longingly that it would transport me right back to London. But I do love cake.

So, we’ll settle for this lovely Lemon Layer Cake reminiscent of Primrose Bakery. It positively reminds me of London, when me and the little sister trudged around after a looong day, only to chance upon the bakery… and then finding Hope and Greenwood right up the lane! It was the best. It still is the best.

These two weeks have been a crazy lemony sour, sugary sweet, baking-a-3-layer-cake tiring type of whirlwind. But I can’t complain if it all boils down to two layers of buttery citrus love sandwiching a mighty swirl of lemon buttercream. If it’s going to be a busy week, better have some cake ready!


Lemon Layer Cake, bakes 2 8-inch layers

170g caster sugar
1 ½ cup GF flour mix + 1 heaping tbsp
2 ½ tsp baking powder
25g cornflour
1 cup canola oil, – 2 tbsp
2 tbsp milk (non dairy will work)
4 large eggs (1 whole, 3 separated)
Grated zest and juice of 3 medium lemons

1)      In a bowl, mix the flours and baking powder together. Grease and line 2 8-inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2)      In a big bowl, whisk the 3 egg yolks, 1 whole egg and half the sugar until pale. Add in the oil, milk and lemon zest. Whisk until emulsified.

3)      In the bowl of a KitchenAid, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Slowly add in the sugar a little at a time, with the motor running. Stop once you get a meringue with stiff peaks.

4)      Stir the flour into the egg yolk mixture. It will be very sticky. Add in the milk and juice. Mix to combine.

5)      Quickly fold the meringue into the batter until even. It’s okay if the meringue deflates. The important thing is to get a homogenous mixture.

6)      Divide between the two prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and cake pulls away from the side of the tin.

7)      Remove from oven and leave to cool. Invert onto a wire rack. When completely cool, frost with lemon buttercream and enjoy life’s lemons!

Lemon Buttercream Icing from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons (or 1 tsp of lemon oil)
500g icing sugar, sifted

1)      In the bowl of a KitchenAid, beat the butter, lemon juice, zest and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat again until smooth and creamy.

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Filed under Books, Cakes, Frostings, Fruit, Recipes

A Grand Return

Hi Folks,

I’ve actually been back from Bali for around 5 days now. But it wasn’t the copious amounts of unpacking nor was it me being busy with work that has gotten me neglecting my baking. Actually, I’ve been working very hard. Very hard at getting well. The story’s rather dreadful so let’s just do a quick summary shall we?

Lack of sleep in Bali + dehydration in Bali + DODGY TOFU in Bali = high fever + throwing up + severe food poisoning + lying in bed + no appetite + I-don’t-feel-like-being-near-food.

I think we’re on the same page now. :)

My loss of appetite is the most worrying, I feel like I’m not myself. No cravings, no wanting to make anything, no getting excited over food (just happy I can stomach it down), really, the fun in my day has been sucked out. It’s so un-fun that I don’t have any wardrobe ideas, I get writer’s block and…I just sit flipping channels on the TV. I’m worse than Homer.

Luckily, I have a tiny resemblance of what may be an appetite now. So to celebrate Friday night (because it’s the greatest event ever!!!) and to mark the start of greater appetites to come, I baked a grand chocolate chip cake.


Light crumbed, with a texture between a cupcake and a moist muffin, it really is quite grand. I picked up some local Balinese vanilla pods for around 10 bucks for a pack of around 30 and added those speckles of vanilla into the cake. The perfumed cake is then mixed with mini chocolate chips which I now know, is necessary as my regular chocolate chips sank right to the bottom. No drama though, we’ll just have an upside down chocolate chip cake then!

Grand Chocolate Chip Cakes (adapted from Lisa Yockelson’s Chocolate Chocolate)
makes 5 jumbo cupcakes or 2 fairly thin 4-inch layers

1 1/4 cup GF flour blend
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
tiny pinch of salt
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I used regular sized ones)
1/3 cup flavourless vegetable oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
seeds from 1 vanilla pod (or 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup non-fat yoghurt

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Grease and line the bottoms of 2 x 4 inch round baking pans or cupcake tins.

2) In the bowl of a KitchenAid, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg, egg yolk and sugar together until creamy (3 mins). Add in the oil and beat until emulsified.

3) Tip in the vanilla seeds, salt and the yoghurt. Beat well.

4) Whilst beating, mix the flour with the baking powder and add to the mixture in the mixer.

5) Beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the chocolate chips and mix. Pour out into the prepared pans.

6) For 4 inch cakes, I baked mine for around 30 mins. This should roughly be the same for the cupcakes since they’re smaller but are taller in height. Note: These cakes don’t rise alot so don’t expect a peaked dome.

7) Eat, feel better, top with chocolate frosting to mend those wounds, whatever your wounds may be!

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Filed under Books, Breakfast, Cakes, Chocolate, 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!

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

How I live up to my bad reputation

I have a reputation around here. A kinda reputation that screams ‘don’t mess with me, I’m trouble’.  This will actually be really funny if you’ve met me. I am as scary as a teddy bear, real mean, with claws to match.

I’m still uncertain if I like the reputation I’ve earned for myself so maybe you can help me decide if it’s a good thing or not. People view me as trouble and they don’t bother hiding this fact from me. I wreck disaster on their daily lives, and bring about feelings they try hard to suppress. In my defense, I’d say “better out than in” but they don’t always agree.

So what do I do that make people either love or not love me? I make them want cake.

I swear I don’t do it intentionally but the very mention of cake or food just makes my small eyes grow slightly larger (I try hard to let people know they are larger). And I feel energetic, excited and positively interested. Plus I love sharing cake (means I get to bake more) so…what do you make of this reputation? Bad ass much?

Just to let you in on a secret, I’m not spared such tummy torture either. To prove it, here are 3 of my new books (2 of which, courtesy of my little sister) and the top 5 recipes in them that have left me with in a twist, a tasty dilemma of sorts, on what to prepare first. Life is so tough sometimes.


River Cottage by Huge Fearnley-Whittinstall (2009)

Firstly, this book has the cutest animations. The photos of the delicious food are real, but they come accompanied with these little drawings that almost seem like the voice in your head adding some life to a yummy dish. I found myself having a good laugh while drooling, which isn’t a very common sight. Modern British food, old school given a fresh new take.

Top 5 Recipes:
1) Chicken couscous, honey and cinnamon
2) Spinach, bacon and goat’s cheese frittata
3) Raspberry and strawberry Eton mess
4) Lemon Sponge Pudding
5) Beetroot, goat’s cheese and redcurrant salad

Ottolenghi The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (2008)

Does this book really need an introduction? Well I will try anyway. Started in 2002, Ottolenghi has now made quite a name for itself. When I visit London, guess where I’m heading? The food is fresh, produce-centric (which can be a bummer since some of us may never get some of the items featured in the book) and will always be a pleasure to look at even if it may taste slightly different.

Top 5 recipes:
1) Couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash
2) Danielle’s sweet potato gratin
3) Apple and olive oil cake with maple icing
4) Carrot, apple and pecan muffins
5) Pistachio and ginger biscotti


Sur La Table: The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet (2008)

This book is the bomb, literally, it’s heavy. This book is one of those “covers all bases” type, so it’s always handy to have around. You know you’re definitely going to use something from it. I already have! I guess there are times when people who bake a fair bit feel like they know most of the baking ‘rules’ but it’s always good to have a refresher and learn something new. The book seems to present the best of everyday classics.

Top 5 recipes:
1) Cream scones
2) Easy chocolate press-in dough
3) Pineapple, kumquat and ginger crisp with coconut topping
4) Tangerine-poppy seed chiffon cake
5) Peanut butter and chocolate marjolaine

Ta-dah! So here’s my wishlist. So, do you have any recipes that have been screaming “MAKE ME!” for the longest time?

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Filed under Books, Inspired

Digestives

Firstly, thanks to everyone who’s just as excited as I am about having my sister home! And the cookbooks! I’ll have the post up on those soon, oh, and along with my “to-bake” wishlist.

Actually, today I have a recipe to share from one of the books she got me *already!* I really couldn’t keep my flour covered hands off the books. In fact, I’ve been pretty good lately, baking from all sorts of books, not leaving any of them out. It’s an accomplishment as many of you will probably understand since it’s really quite testing to not show favouritism to a particular book.

My secret book loves are Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible and Heavenly Cakes, Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2, Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard, Carole Bloom’s The Essential Baker, Jennifer Graham’s The Crabapple Cupcake Cookbook and Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul of Baking.

What are you secret loves? Oh do tell…

On to yummier things, I baked digestives today and for most people, this may be quite a strange thing to bake. Afterall, McVitie’s makes the BEST chocolate covered digestives. I love mine eaten cold, from the fridge, so the chocolate has set into fudge and holds up when I dunk it into my Milo (malted chocolate drink).

But being gluten free means no, no and er…no digestives. What a bummer. Actually, I think the initial stage of becoming gluten free turns you into ‘no’ lady (or man). You practically have to say no to everything! And worse, the people who render you food-impossible. Meh, not cool.

Well these digestives are very, very tasty, just like the packaged ones but better. I find that it doesn’t have that ‘odd’ aftertaste I used to get with the packaged ones. And the chocolate I coated it in? No vegetable fat, just pure 55% couverture chocolate. Talk about snobby digestives! I now have mine cold, sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to sink my teeth into them. And the un-chocolate-d ones would make the greatest cheesecake crust if I dare say so myself.

Prepare for dunkage!

Better Gluten Free Digestives. makes 35-40 (adapted from River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

*Gluten-free and Egg-free

125g trans-fat free shortening, softened and cubed
125g butter, softened and cubed
1 1/2 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
250g medium oats (I pulsed GF oats in the food processor for 15-20 seconds)
35g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp fine sea salt
1-2 tbsp almond milk (any milk’s fine)

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Grease and line 2 cookie pans with parchment

2) Pulse the butter, shortening and flours in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs

3) Add in the sugar, oatmeal, salt and baking powder. Pulse 3 times, 3 seconds each.

4) Pour the dough into a big bowl and using your hands, knead it lightly. Add in 1 tbsp of milk and mix in using your hands. Dough should be slightly sticky, enough to hold together when rolled into a ball. If not, add in more milk, 1 drop at a time.

5) Roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls (about 17-18g, I weighed it!) and place onto cookie sheet. Fill  bowl with 1 cup of icing sugar and dip the flat bottom of a glass into the sugar, and press down onto the dough ball to flatten it to about 4-5 mm thick. If it’s too thin, it tends to be too fragile after baking. Dip the glass bottom into icing sugar again and repeat.

6) Before baking, carefully hold the baking tray and the parchment at a angle and lightly tap the tray against the table to remove excess icing sugar from the cookies. Bake for 12-15 mins, or until cookies are fairly firm when touched. They don’t brown too much so colour may not be the best way to test for done-ness. Cool completely on the tray.

7) If you’d like chocolate covered digestives, melt 120-150g of 55% chocolate and let cool to room temp. Then, using a rubber spatula, gentle spread half the cooled cookie surface with the chocolate and place in a single layer, to chill in the fridge until set. Where I live is really warm so I’ve been keeping those in the fridge., The un-chocolate-d ones are good in an airtight container, on the kitchen counter, for hungry, wandering hands.

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Filed under Books, Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes