Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Awesome Zucchini Bread

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I'm always thinking up interesting things to make for Saturday morning breakfast. It's one of those things that has become a tradition in my head. All the other days of the week, we eat something simple like porridge, toast or cereal, but Saturday's the day we generally eat the muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, waffles and the other interesting baked goods. Sometimes, I make the special stuff mid-week too, but I feel like I'm doing something wrong if I serve porridge or cereal on a Saturday.
This week, when I spotted beautiful looking zucchini at the supermarket, I knew what we were having for Saturday morning breakfast. It had to be moist zucchini bread. I've made this recipe before and it never fails to please. 

I usually do a walnut zucchini bread, maybe with some raisins or chocolate chips thrown in, but this time I pulled out all the stops! This zucchini bread is loaded with cinnamon chips, 70% dark chocolate chunks, milk chocolate chips, dried cranberries and walnuts. And the resulting bread was insanely good!
My kids loved it and between the four of us, we were kinda fighting over the last slice. So so good!

Awesome Zucchini Bread
Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon powder 
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 medium eggs
1 scant cup vegetable oil, or any neutral flavored oil 
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract 
3 packed cups grated zucchini
1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used 1/2 cup)
Upto 1 cup add-ins of your choice
(I used 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips, 1/4 cup cinnamon chips & 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries. 
Other options include any dry fruit - figs, dates, raisins etc. and any kind of chocolate chips or chunks you fancy!)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. 
2. Grease and flour a large loaf tin. The non-stick tin I used measures 9 1/2" x 5 1/2". If using a standard 8x4 tin, I would divide the batter between two tins. 
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon powder, freshly grated nutmeg, baking powder & baking soda. Stir well to combine. 
4. If using any nuts or add-ins, stir them into the flour mixture. Set aside. 
5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 2-4 minutes. 
6. Add the oil, sugar, vanilla and grated zucchini. Stir well to combine. 
7. Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture and mix until completely incorporated and no dry flour pockets are visible. 
8. Pour the batter into your baking tin(s). Bake for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean 
9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing. 
The slices of this loaf disappeared fast. Chock-full of flavors - mildly sweet, super moist zucchini bread studded with morsels of sweet and bitter chocolate, melts cinnamon chips, tart cranberries and crunchy, toasty walnuts - who can resist?
Whether you're a zucchini bread fan, someone who hasn't had good experiences with zucchini bread in the past, or someone who's never ever tried zucchini bread - please make this loaf. You won't regret it!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Mango Curd filling & Mango Buttercream

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Mango season is here in full swing. I love going to the fruit store and then being led by my nose to the mango section where there are just so many varieties to choose from. Just yesterday, I came home with mangoes of four varieties. Each one has a unique flavor and mouth feel, but they're all packed with an unbeatable mango flavor!
My kind neighbor also gave me a bagful of sweet mangoes from her tree. Unfortunately, they were all ripe at the same time and they were just too many to eat. I first made the mango curd recipe to use up the mango pulp I extracted from these mangoes. Then, I thought I would attempt to showcase the amazing mango flavor in cupcake form. 

I didn't do the best job with the piping because I was in a big hurry to get it done so I could photograph and serve them. 
Vanilla Chiffon Cupcakes with Mango Curd filling and Mango Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Mango curd
250g Mango purée 
3 tbsp (45g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp corn starch 
2 egg yolks 
Juice of 1 1/2 - 2 limes, to taste 
A pinch of salt 

1. Combine the mango purée, butter, lime juice and sugar in a saucepan. On low heat, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved completely. Taste, and add a wee bit more lime juice or sugar to taste. 
2. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks and  corn starch together until smooth and lump-free. 
3. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot mango purée in small quantities to the egg yolk mixture while stirring the egg mixture constantly. 
4. Add this mixture back into the saucepan and continue cooking, stirring continuously until the mixture is smooth, thick and coats the back of a spoon. 
5. Set aside to cool. 

Refrigerate if not using immediately. 

Mango Swiss Meringue buttercream 
1/4 cup egg whites 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
A pinch of cream of tartar 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chopped
A pinch of salt 
3-4 tbsp of mango curd 

1. Create a Bain Marie by placing a saucepan with some water on a stovetop and setting a heatproof bowl into the mouth of the saucepan. The base of the bowl must be big enough to fit into the saucepan but not so small that there is contact between the bottom of the bowl and the water. There must be a gap between the water and the base of the bowl on top. 
2. Into the bowl, add the egg whites, cream of tartar and the granulated sugar. Turn the stove on and allow the water below to heat the bowl while you whisk the mixture continuously. Maintain a low temperature. You don't want to cook the egg whites. If you have a sugar thermometer, you want to get the mixture up to about 145-160F. If you don't have a thermometer, the mixture should feel very warm to the touch, and the sugar should have completely dissolved. 
3. Take the bowl off the heat and using a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg white mixture until the mixture forms soft peaks. Add in the pinh of salt and beat for another minute. 
4. Check that the butter is soft but not oily or gloopy. You would rather have it ever so slightly chilled than too soft. With the mixer running, start adding the chopped butter. Keep beating until the mixture resembles a fluffy, stiff butter cream. It may not resemble it for a while, but keep beating until you get to that point. Believe me - you will get there. 
5. Add the mango curd, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop adding when you're satisfied with the mango flavor. 

This frosting holds it's shape really well and is great for piping. If storing in the fridge, keep outside for about 15 minutes before you're ready to use it, and whisk the frosting briefly, using the mixer, until you get the original fluffy texture. 

This recipe makes just enough for 12 cupcakes. 

Vanilla Chiffon Cupcakes 
Makes 12 regular cupcakes
1 cup cake flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla 
2 large egg yolks 
4 large egg whites 
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar 

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. 
2. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, oil, vanilla and egg yolks. Whisk for a few minutes until well combined. 
3. Add the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir for 1-2 minutes until combined. 
4. In a clear, dry, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites along with the cream of tartar until it forms soft peaks. 
5. While continuing to beat, start adding the castor sugar to the egg whites. Keep adding slowly until all the sugar is incorporated and egg whites hold firm peaks. 
6. Fold the egg whites gently into the flour mixture in 2-3 parts. 
7. Spoon into a lined cupcake tray, filling each cupcake liner 3/4 full. 
8. Bake in an oven preheated to 180C/350F for about 18-20 minutes. The tops will turn golden brown. 
9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling/frosting.
To assemble the cupcakes:
1. Using a cupcake corer or a small teaspoon, make a 3/4 inch wide hole in the center of each cupcake going in about 1/2 the way down the cupcake. 
2. Fill this hole completely with the cool mango curd. 
3. Using a piping bag fitting with a nozzle of your choice, frost using the mango Swiss meringue butter cream.
4. Refrigerate if keeping it for more than one day. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come back to room temperature before serving. 
Warning: All the elements of this recipe use a fair amount of eggs. So the final cupcake has a faint eggy smell. It isn't too strong and it didn't really bother us, but if you're not happy with that, it can be masked with more vanilla in the cupcakes and maybe a splash in the frosting too. 
These cupcakes were soft, moist, not too sweet, but flavorful. The mango curd filling was slightly tart and ever so mangoey. The frosting was luscious and melt-in-the-mouth with a lovely hint of mango. Together, they tasted of a warm Indian summer. Bliss!

I am sorry I am unable to credit the cupcake recipe. The frosting and filling recipes were made up by me, but I forgot to bookmark the cupcake recipe and now I can't link to them!
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Blackberry Oat Scones

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I think when I finally start writing my cookbooks (hey, a girl can dream!), I would just have to start with an entire book on muffins and scones. They have to be my favorite baked goods. I think that this is pretty obvious from my blog. I have so many muffin recipes, and the scones are catching up!
I adapted this recipe (ever so slightly) from this recipe found on orangette.com. These scones were easy to mix up, kinda messy to form, not so pretty to look at, but oh so good to eat! 

I had almost 1 cup of frozen blackberries, and I couldn't bear to not have a whole cup of berries in there. So I ended up adding a handful of frozen blueberries. This stained some of my scones blue, while the others were stained a beautiful purple. Not complaining!
Try this recipe. You will love it! Even without the berries, I think the oat scone recipe is just fantastic as it is! You could always add something else instead of the berries. Chocolate perhaps? Mmmmm...

Blackberry Oat Scones
Adapted from this recipe on orangette.com
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
3/4 tsp salt 
155g unsalted butter, cold, chopped
1 cup heavy cream 
3/4 cup whole milk 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup rolled oats 
1 cup frozen or fresh blackberries 
(If using frozen berries, DO NOT thaw. Use frozen.)
For topping
3 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp granulated sugar 

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and the salt. Mix well until combined. 
2. Add in the chopped butter and work with your fingertips until you have a coarse mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. 
3. Mix in the oats. 
4. In a small bowl, combine the cream, milk and vanilla. Stir well to combine. 
5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the cream mixture. 
6. Using a spatula or flat metal spoon, lightly fold and mix until the two mixtures are combined. Do not over-mix. 
7. Add the frozen berries and lightly fold. 
8. Form into discs handling the sticky dough as little as possible. If you find it too hard to handle, chill the dough for 10-15 minutes before forming the scones. Place the scones on a parchment or Silpat lined baking tray. I divided the mixture into 15 scones. 
9. At this point you can bake it straight away. I made one batch straight away and froze the rest of them to bake later. And I must mention that there was a remarkable difference in texture! If you have the time, freeze them. You don't need to thaw them, just pop them on the tray frozen and straight into the oven they go!
10. Bake in an oven preheated to 180C/350F for about 25-30 minutes. 
Note: Steps 1 & 2 can be done in a food processor. This is preferable as it reduces the handling of the butter and keeps it cold. After pulsing in the food processor, transfer to a large bowl and continue from step 3. 

Serve warm with butter, fruit curd, preserves or whipped cream. The next morning, I popped the leftover scones into scones back into the oven until the outside crisped up and it was warmed through.
I love love love love the wholesome taste of these scones. Next time, I am going to replace some of that all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to amp up that wholesome taste. The buttery, flaky, slightly cakey scones with bursts of almost jammy, tart berry are just too yummy for words!
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Triple Chocolate Muffins

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This last month has been so insanely busy for us. More work than I could handle, sick baby and then a sick momma and so much more! I hardly cooked, baked even less and didn't even think about blogging. We survived on the simplest, quick fix meals, and one-pot dishes, generously sent food from my Mom's home and of course, take-out. 

In celebration of things slowing down, for our first lazy morning breakfast together, I decided to make something decadent for breakfast. It's not often that our family eats chocolate for breakfast, but today we went all out! Not just chocolate muffins, but TRIPLE chocolate muffins. 

These are really soft, moist and chocolatey and are studded with oozy chunks of chocolate. And easy to throw together too! Give this recipe a try. You won't regret it!
Triple Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from a recipe found in this book
Makes 6-8 muffins
3 tablespoons butter
60gm dark chocolate, chopped 
1 cup all purpose flour 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda 
1 egg, beaten 
3/4 cup natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract 
60gm dark chocolate chips or chunks 

1. In a microwave or in saucepan, melt the butter and the chocolate together. Set aside to cool. 
2. In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until well combined. 
3. In a small bowl, stir together the egg, yoghurt and vanilla. Add in the cooled chocolate-butter mixture and stir well. 
4. Add the yoghurt mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until the two mixtures are completely combined. Do not over-mix. 
5. Fold in the chocolate chips/chunks evenly. 
6. Spoon into your muffin tray, filling more than 3/4 of the cup. I used a smallish tray and got 8 muffins. 
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C/350F or until the top of the muffins spring back when touched gently. 
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding. 

The triple dose of melted chocolate, dark cocoa powder and chocolate chunks makes these muffins seriously, seriously good. They aren't too sweet and are amazingly moist!

My husband, who loves peanut butter on just about anything, ate them generously 'frosted' with crunchy peanut butter. A fabulous muffin to bake for a special occasion or a lazy day!

Until next time :)

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