Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Muffins

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I’m trying to get into a zero-waste mode.  I hate to throw food away.  There’s always a wave of guilt when I don’t have a choice but to throw the food away either because it is way past the expiration date or when it has wilted and turned bad.  I think of the money wasted and also the countless number of people around the world who are starving and malnourished.  I feel compelled to be more responsible in finishing the food we purchase and to buy only what we really need.  Some of the simple steps I’ve taken to minimise wastage are as follow.

  • Do a stock-take of the fridge and pantry before grocery shopping
  • Jot down the items that need to be replenished
  • Menu plan for the week
  • Jot down the ingredients required to make the meals for the week
  • Stick to the grocery list and do not buy anything that’s not in the list
  • Finish leftovers asap, preferably by the next day to avoid having to throw the food if it goes bad
  • Wash fruit like berries with water and some white vinegar to prolong their shelf life
  • Wrap vegetables with tea towel so that the excess moisture is absorbed by the towel and the vegetables last longer

Let me know if there are other ways in which I can improve on my journey to zero-waste.  Back to the muffins…

After I made Cookie a batch of banana oatmeal dog treats, I used the last over-riped banana to make chocolate banana oatmeal muffins for our breakfast the following morning.  I tweak my muffin recipes quite frequently based on what I have in my pantry.  Sometimes I add almond meal, oatmeal, or wholewheat flour to the dry ingredients mix.  In terms of oils, sometimes it will be coconut oil, vegetable oil or melted butter.  It depends on what I have.  I rarely buy an ingredient to make a one-off bake.  The ingredient will be left to waste so I prefer to use what I have on hand.

Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Muffins (make 6 muffins)

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 70g all-purpose flour
  • 20g unsweetened cocoa
  • 30g instant oats
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 30ml coconut oil
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 over-riped banana, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Sift all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.  Add oats into the mix, stir the mix and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and sugar together till light and fluffy.
  5. Add banana and continue whisking.  Then add milk, vanilla and coconut oil, whisking lightly after each addition of ingredient.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the bowl of dry ingredients.
  7. Pour wet ingredients into the well and fold the ingredients together till well incorporated.  Do not over-fold the batter.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake liners till 2/3 full.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or till skewer comes out clean.
  10. Allow muffins to cool and enjoy.
  11. Store extras in air-tight container.  You can make extras and store in the freezer for subsequent days breakfast.  Take them out to thaw and pop them in the oven to warm them up.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Granola

Do you look forward to breakfast each morning?  I do, because I get peckish around one hour after waking up.  I can’t do without breakfast.  My concentration dips when I haven’t eaten.  I need to kick-start my engine with some breakfast food and a cup of coffee.  I start my mornings with a glass of water.   An hour later, I will have my breakfast, usually a sandwich or muffin with coffee.  I have a coffee addiction so coffee with milk is a must.  Once that’s done, I have the energy to work my way through the morning.

I love making bread and muffins for breakfast.  But recently, I was hoping to make some granola to go with yogurt and fruit for breakfast.  I’m trying to incorporate more whole grains into our diet and I think adding oats into our breakfast is a great way to healthier eating.

Oats are a good source of carbohydrates, fibre, important vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.  They are gluten-free whole grains and they contain more protein and fat than most other grains.  Some of the benefits of eating oats include lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, protection against skin irritation and reduced constipation.  Since oats is very filling, it is also a weight-loss friendly food.

In this easy homemade granola recipe, I added peanut butter to the mix because we love peanut butter.  I also added some chopped almonds.  This is optional.  I had some leftover almonds and I thought it would give a nice crunchy texture and added nutty flavour.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together oats, almonds, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In a microwave-safe dish or over the stove top, melt peanut butter and honey together till you get a smooth consistency.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  6. Add peanut butter and honey mixture into dry ingredients and stir till well combined.
  7. Spread mixture on lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until granola is lightly browned.  Halfway through baking, stir the granola to get even cooking and browning.
  9. Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely.
  10. Store in air-tight jar.

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I was happy with the result of the granola.  It was crunchy, lightly sweet and nutty.  I had a hearty breakfast of yogurt and blueberries topped with granola.  It was delicious and filling.  The best thing was that it was nutritious.  I stored the granola in a glass jar and I think it will be gone in no time since there are so many ways to eat granola.   It can be eaten on its own or with milk.  It can also be a topping for fudge, added to a peanut butter sandwich or parfait, or even used in baking cookies, bars or cake etc.  The good thing is that it is so easy to put together a fresh batch anytime because the ingredients and steps are very simple.   I hope you enjoy this granola as much as I did 

 

Chocolate Muffins

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I had some cocoa that was expiring soon.  I needed to make something for an afternoon snack.  And I realised I didn’t have much time left before my daughter came home.  So I decided quickly to make chocolate muffins that would be ready within one hour.  Muffins are easy to make because you just have to mix dry and wet ingredients together.  They are good for breakfast and a snack to go.  I am not a fan of muffins.  I’d rather go for a chiffon cake.  But after I tried these chocolate muffins, I was sure I would make them again.  When they were baking, the house was filled with the aroma of chocolate.  My senses brought me to those times when I walk by the Famous Amos cookie store.  When I finally had time to try one, I was happy that the taste didn’t disappoint.  It tasted so wonderful, thanks to the cocoa and the coconut oil.

I decided at the last minute to use coconut oil for these muffins.  Baking with coconut oil is great.  The bakes always turn out so aromatic and fragrant.  Coconut oil is also a healthier option than melted butter and vegetable oil.  Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. Saturated fats not only increase the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL cholesterol) in your body, but also help convert the LDL “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterols.  By increasing the HDL in the body, it helps promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

The amount of coconut oil used in this recipe doesn’t leave the muffins with a strong coconut taste.  In fact, it is so subtle you can’t really taste it and it blends so well with the cocoa.  I love taking a whiff out of the coconut oil jar.  It’s such a natural fragrance!  This recipe works well with vegetable oil if you don’t have coconut oil.  You can use any light tasting vegetable oil.   The result will be great as well.  You can top this with semi-sweet chocolate chips if you want to up the level of chocolate.  This recipe is really great if you are in a hurry.  I had these done in 45 minutes.  So busy moms, this is for you.

Ingredients (for 6 muffins)

Dry ingredients:

  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 20g unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50ml milk
  • 40ml coconut oil/vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees celcius.
  2. Fill muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Sift dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt) into a bowl.  Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar together till light and fluffy.
  5. Add milk and continue whisking.  Next, add in vanilla and coconut oil and whisk them together till well incorporated.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients with a spatula.
  7. Pour in wet ingredients into the well.  Fold wet ingredients and dry ingredients till well incorporated with no traces of flour.  Make light and quick folds and do not over-fold as this will result in tough muffins.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake liners till 2/3 full.
  9. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
  10. Allow the muffins to cool and then enjoy!

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Mixed Berries Yogurt Muffins

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I always think muffins when I need to whip up something fuss-free for breakfast.  Everything can be done in one hour, from preparation to getting the muffins out of the oven.  I also like that the ingredients are few and there are only two bowls to wash at the end of the preparation.  Great for busy or lazy days.

For today’s muffins, I used the mixed berries yogurt that has been in my fridge for two weeks now.  I was not into chocolate this time because I preferred something fresh and perky for the morning.  Too bad I didn’t have fresh blueberries or strawberries to add because ideally it would be more wholesome with real fruit.  I went ahead to whip up the muffins without the fresh berries.  One hour later with all my bowls and utensils washed, the muffins were ready!

I did a taste test after they were cooled ten minutes.  They were very fluffy and moist, and they had the right amount of sweetness and tartness.  Looks wise, they didn’t appear too pretty.  Well, muffins never looked pretty anyway.  But they are healthy and delicious.  These are good to pack for work and school.  You can make bigger batches to freeze so you have something for breakfast or tea when you don’t have time to make any.  Simply thaw and warm up in the oven.

Mixed Berries Yogurt Muffins

Ingredients (for 6 muffins):

120g all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, at room temperature

40g caster sugar

140g mixed berries yogurt

30g vegetable oil (I used canola oil)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemond rind

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients – Sift all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Prepare wet ingredients – In a separate mixing bowl, using a hand whisk, whisk egg and sugar together till light and fluffy.
  5. Add yogurt and continue whisking.  Add in vanilla, lemon juice and vegetable oil and mix well after each addition.
  6. Lastly, add lemon rind and incorporate well.
  7. Using a spatula, make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.  Pour in wet ingredients and fold the wet ingredients and dry ingredients.  Fold till both are incorporated well and there are no traces of flour.  Do not over-fold as this will result in tough muffins.  If you are adding fresh berries, coat them with a little flour and fold them in at this stage.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake liners.  Sprinkle tops with lemon rind (optional).
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or tops are golden brown.  Test for doneness by inserting a skewer in the centre of the muffin.  When done, the skewer should come out clean.

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Have a happy breakfast!

Soft Wholemeal Loaf Bread

 

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I love my bread machine.  Guess some of you know that already.  I blogged about making bread some time ago.  You can read the post here Loving the bread machine.  That said, there is one thing I don’t like about my bread machine.  There is a problem every time I bake loaf breads in the machine.  You see, it has to do with the blade in the bread pan.  When the loaf is baked in the bread machine, there will be an unsightly hole at the base of the loaf.  When I slice the loaf there will be at least two slices with a hole.  One way to get around this is to remove the blade after kneading is completed and continue to let the bread bake in the bread machine and another is to remove the dough, proof and bake it in the oven.  I chose the latter as I wanted to try shaping it and baking in a loaf tin.

I made a loaf of soft wholemeal bread yesterday.  I loved the outcome of the loaf.  It was soft, fluffy and delicious.  It was easy to make and didn’t require many ingredients or steps.  I had planned to make white bread but at the last minute decided to add a bit of wholemeal flour.  My daughter is not a fan of wholemeal bread so I had to sneak a little in to get her to start liking it bit by bit.  Well, she ate it without even asking me why it’s not white.  I made some egg mayo and she enjoyed a good old egg sandwich as an after school snack.

Though I made this loaf with the help of my bread machine, you can also make it by hand or with an electric mixer with a dough hook.  If you are making by hand, you just need to combine everything and form a dough, knead it for ten minutes, then knead the butter into the dough and continue until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.  I had a very aching arm when I tried making bread dough by hand because it does take quite of lot of time and strength for the dough to reach the stage whereby it is elastic and not sticky.  It’s better to use an electric mixer, attach a dough hook and let the mixer do the hard work for you.  Add everything into the bowl of the mixer, except for butter which is to be added ten minutes later when everything has been incorporated.

Soft Wholemeal Loaf Bread

Ingredients:

195g bread flour

55g wholemeal flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon milk powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

20g unsalted butter

170ml cold water

Directions:

  1. Add ingredients following your bread machine’s instructions and set to dough function.
  2. Remove dough from bread machine when kneading is completed.  Place dough in a slightly oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap.  Let it proof for one hour.
  3. Prepare a loaf tin by lining it with parchment paper or lightly greasing the tin.
  4. After one hour, test if the dough has proofed properly by depressing the dough with a finger.  It should form a deep indentation on the dough and the depression should stay.  There shouldn’t be any dough sticking to the finger you used.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough by hand for about five minutes.  This is to expel the trapped gas in the dough.
  6. Next, divide the dough into three equal portions.
  7. Lightly dust your hands and rolling pin with flour.  Flatten each portion of dough with the rolling pin into an oval shape.  Roll the dough from the base of the oval all the way up.  Place the dough into the loaf tin.  Repeat till all three portions are done.
  8. Cover the loaf tin with cling wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  9. After ten minutes, repeat process in Step 7.  Place the rolled up dough into the loaf tin and let it proof a second time.  Cover the dough with cling wrap.  The second proofing will take one hour.
  10. After one hour is up, you will notice that the dough has doubled in size.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  12. Brush a little milk on the top of the dough and bake in pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes.
  13. Remove the loaf tin from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before removing the loaf and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. Slice with a sharp knife and enjoy the homemade freshness!

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Bak Kwa Buns

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Bak Kwa buns are really delicious.  There aren’t many bakeries that sell this kind of bun.  However it is very common to find its counterpart, pork floss bun sold in almost every bakery here in Singapore.  Bak Kwa, also known as rougan in Mandarin is Chinese salty-sweet dried meat similar to jerky.  Often times the meat is grilled over charcoal to give it a smoky flavour, then blended with a combination of spices, soy sauce and sugar. It can be used as an ingredient in other dishes or enjoyed on its own.

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In the old times, Bak Kwa was an expensive, luxury food and families only splurged on it during Chinese New Year when they wanted to welcome prosperity for the coming New Year and offer lavish gifts for friends and family.

While it is no longer as expensive as it once was, it is still a traditional Chinese New Year food and welcomed gift for friends or relatives.

Bak Kwa is available throughout the year nowadays and people can enjoy it anytime, not just during Chinese New Year.  I received a packet of Bak Kwa as a gift recently and I decided to use Bak Kwa as a filling for my bread buns today.

I used the water roux  or tangzhong method in making the bread buns.  Water roux makes bread extra soft, tender and fluffy.  Water roux locks in the liquid throughout the entire process of mixing and baking.  This results in breads that stay soft and fresh for longer.  Water roux is basically a mixture of water and bread flour.  To make it, you have to mix 1 part bread flour to 5 parts water (1:5 ratio)  over 65 deg celcius.  At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and become leavened. Thus, when the water roux or tangzhong is added into other ingredients of a bread dough, it will be heightened and produce fluffier bread.  The detailed description on how to make water roux is included in the recipe below.  Here is the water roux I made.

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Bak Kwa Buns 

Ingredients (makes 12 buns):

For water roux:

20g bread flour

100ml water

For bread buns:

195g bread flour

90g cake flour

12g milk powder

30g caster sugar

6g salt

6g instant yeast

1 egg, lightly beaten

65g water

75g water roux

45g unsalted butter

a small portion of beaten egg for egg wash

For filling:

2 slices Bak Kwa, cut into small pieces or diced

Directions:

  1. To make water roux, place 20g bread flour in a saucepan.  Add 100ml water, mix with a hand whisk till smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour.  Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly with the hand whisk to prevent it from burning.  Within 1 to 2 minutes, the mixture will start to thicken, stop when you see traces in the mixture for every stir you make with the hand whisk.  Immediately transfer the water roux into a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap, making sure the cling wrap sticks onto the surface of the mixture.  This is to prevent a film from forming on the surface.  Leave to cool completely before using it.
  2. To make the bread dough, place bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, yeast, egg, water and water roux (use 75g) in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Let the mixer knead the dough on high speed until the ingredients come together to form a dough, this takes about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the butter and continue to knead for another 15 to 20 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Upon adding the butter, the dough will become wet again, add some flour if it remains wet after 10 minutes of kneading. (You can make the dough with a bread machine, follow the instructions of your bread machine for the steps in adding ingredients)
  3. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it proof for about one hour or till it doubles in size.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough to expel the gas in the dough.  Divide the dough into 12 equal portions each weighing 45g.  Roll each dough into smooth rounds, cover with cling wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each dough into a round disc.  Press out any trapped air as you flatten the dough.   Wrap each dough with diced Bak Kwa.  Pinch and seal the seam tightly.
  6. Place seam side down on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cover with cling wrap and proof for a second time for about one hour or till they double in size.
  7. Brush the top of each bun with egg wash.
  8. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg celcius for 12 – 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool.  Once cooled completely, store the buns in a airtight container.

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These are so good.  My daughter ate four in a day 🙂

Enjoy!

bread bun recipe credit: happyhomebaking.blogspot.com

A healthier banana bread

Today I needed a healthier breakfast.  One that will give me the energy I need for the morning’s tasks and one that is filling so that I don’t have to reach out for a mid morning snack.  I settled for a banana bread recipe that I have used before but substituted the butter with coconut oil and brown sugar with honey.  This recipe is a fuss-free one and breakfast can be ready to eat in an hour.

The end result is a bread that is moist and fragrant.  It’s not sweet and I like it this way.  If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can add semi-sweet chocolate chips into your batter.  I didn’t have any walnuts on hand otherwise it would be nice to add some nuts for added texture and nutrients.

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Banana Bread

Ingredients:

70g unsalted butter (I substituted with 70g coconut oil)

30g brown sugar (I substituted with 30g honey)

1 large egg, beaten

200g over-riped bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla

90g wholemeal flour

90g all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

  1. Grease the sides of a 3″ by 7″ loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 175 degree celcius.
  4. Whisk butter and sugar till the mixture becomes pale and fluffy.  (I whisked coconut oil and honey till well incorporated)
  5. Dribble in beaten egg and continue whisking.
  6. Stir in mashed bananas and vanilla and mix well.
  7. Fold in wholemeal flour and the all-purpose flour mixture.
  8. Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pan and smooth surface with a spatula.
  9. Bake for around 30 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  If the top of the bread starts to get overly brown, cover it with foil to prevent the bread from burning.
  10. Let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Baking a Chiffon Cake

I wanted to bake a cake this week.  I wanted to make something light and I thought of chiffon cake immediately.  I had not baked a chiffon cake for a few months and I started thinking of the flavour.  I had lemons on hand and almost went with it.  Then I thought – If I went with lemons I would have leftover cake because not everyone in my family likes a citrus cake.  The other choice that was playing in my mind was Pandan Chiffon.  Ok, Pandan Chiffon would be a hit in our household.

If you live in Singapore or visited Singapore, you will know that Pandan chiffon is the most famous of all chiffon cakes.  This pastel green, feather-light, cottony cake is aromatic and flavourful.  The texture is soft and cottony and the taste is sweet and fragrant.  The fragrance comes from the cake’s star ingredient – Pandan, also known as Screwpine Leaf in some parts of the world.  Locally, we call this leaf Pandan.  It is a tropical plant used in a lot in South East Asia cooking.  It is almost always paired with coconut milk in South East Asian cooking.  In Pandan Chiffon Cake, coconut milk goes hand in hand with Pandan.

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Pandan/ScrewpineLeaves

I managed to get Pandan leaves and coconut milk at the market and made Pandan Chiffon yesterday.  Pandan leaves can be grown at home and can be easily found at supermarkets and wet markets in Singapore.  If you are living in other parts of the world and would like to try Pandan Chiffon, you can try to see if the Asian supermarkets sell the leaves or perhaps some bakeries do have Pandan Chiffon.

Pandan Chiffon Cake (17cm chiffon pan)

Ingredients:

90g cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

25g granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

100ml pandan coconut milk**

11/2 tablespoon vegetable oil **

3 egg whites

50g granulated sugar

Notes:

** To make 100ml pandan coconut milk, blend 120ml of coconut milk with at least 8 blades of pandan leaves.  Cut the pandan leaves into small pieces before blending.

** I used canola oil, do not use olive oil as the taste will turn out differently.  Use light flavoured oils such as canola or sunflower.

** Do not oil or grease the chiffon cake pan because the cake needs to stick to the sides of the pan to rise.

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Directions:

  1. Make pandan coconut milk by blending 120ml coconut milk with at least 8 blades of pandan leaves cut into small pieces.  Using a sieve, strain to get 100ml of pandan coconut milk.
  2. Separate egg yolks and whites and leave them till they reach room temperature.  (Tip: use eggs from the refrigerator as they are easier to separate than those left in room temperature)
  3. Whisk egg yolks with 25g granulated sugar till light and airy.
  4. Stir in vegetable oil followed by pandan coconut milk.  Stir till well combined.
  5. Sieve cake flour and baking powder over egg yolk mixture.  Fold to incorporate well with the egg yolk and pandan coconut milk.
  6. Preheat oven to 170 degree celcius.
  7. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites till foamy.  Add 50g sugar in thirds, each time beating well on medium speed.  Beat till stiff peaks form.  One way to test if egg whites or meringue has reached stiff peaks is to overturn the bowl.  The egg whites/meringue will stick to the bowl and not fall out.pandanchiffon3
  8. Take about one third of the beaten egg whites/meringue and fold into the egg yolk mixture. Fold till there are no traces of egg whites.  Light and swift folds are required so as not to deflate the egg whites.
  9. Next, take another one third and fold into the egg yolk mixture.
  10. Finally take the last third and fold into the mixture ensuring that everything is well incorporated and no traces of egg whites are present.
  11. Pour batter into chiffon cake pan.
  12. Tap the cake pan on the counter a few times to break any air bubbles in the batter.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes.  The cake will rise above the cake pan whilst baking.  This is normal.
  14. Remove from the oven and immediately invert the cake pan on an overturned cup.  This is to prevent the cake from collapsing.
  15. Let it cool completely for at least one to one and a half hours before removing from the cake pan.
  16. Use a thin bladed knife to run along the cake pan to release the cake.
  17. Cut into slices and enjoy.

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Loving the bread machine

Our family has bread almost everyday, for breakfast and sometimes tea.  We used to buy our bread from the supermarket and bakery until I started making them two years ago.  I decided to buy a bread machine as I was really keen to make bread but I wasn’t very good and strong in kneading dough.  It takes quite a bit of muscles to do the job well and I didn’t have the confidence in succeeding.

My bread machine has served up loaves of bread for us in this two years.  In addition to the delicious and nutritious loaves we enjoy up till now, it has also helped me knead nice dough so I could experiment and make bread buns and bread rolls.

These are the cheese buns I made yesterday.  I have found a good recipe for basic bread bun which I will share below.  You can tweak your fillings and toppings.  Have fun coming up with different buns!

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Basic Bread Bun

(makes 8 buns)

recipe source: Cooking a Dream (with slight modifications)

Ingredients:

250g bread flour

3 tablespoons milk powder**

2 tablespoons caster sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

110ml cold water (** if you don’t have milk powder use 110ml fresh milk instead of cold water)

1 teaspoon instant yeast

40g unsalted butter

a little beaten egg for egg wash

Directions:

  1. Check the instructions of your bread machine and add the ingredients as per the machine’s instructions.  For my machine I have to add dry ingredients first followed by wet ingredients (all except for butter which is to be added later).  If you do not have a bread machine, you can use a mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough or you may also knead by hand.
  2. Select bread dough function to set the machine to knead the dough.
  3. Ten minutes into the kneading, add in the butter.
  4. Allow machine to continue kneading.  After the kneading is completed, you can allow the dough to proof in the machine or you may take out the dough and place it in a well oiled bowl to proof it.  I take mine out and proof it in a bowl covered with a plastic wrap or wet towel to prevent moisture loss.
  5. Allow dough to proof or double in size.  This takes about 1 hour in a warm environment.  Place the dough in a warm place in your house to proof.
  6. Once dough has proofed or doubled in size, do a window pane test to check if you are ready to proceed to the next step.  Alternatively you can press the dough deeply with a finger.  The depression should stay and your finger shouldn’t have any dough sticking on it.
  7. On a slightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes to expel the gas in the dough.
  8. Cut the dough into equal sizes and roll them into balls.  Place each dough ball on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap or a wet towel to prevent moisture loss.  Let them rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Take each dough ball, lightly knead to expel gas.  With a slightly floured rollling pin, roll the dough into a circular disc and add your filling in the centre of the disc.  Wrap the dough and pinch the bottom to seal the dough.  Repeat till all are done.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap or wet towel and let them rest for another 1 hour or till dough doubles in size.
    For the cheese buns I made, I rolled the dough into balls and let them rest for 1 hour.  At the end of the second proofing, I applied egg wash on each dough ball before adding shredded cheese on top of the egg wash.
  10. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  11. Apply egg wash over the dough balls.  This step is already done for the cheese buns I made.
  12. Bake for around 15 minutes or till lightly golden brown on the tops.
  13. Allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack.

 

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Welcome to Lovin the Simple.  Today’s first post will feature an easy muffin recipe.  If you love bananas and chocolate then it’s easy to combine both ingredients in this recipe to make this super quick and delicious treat.

chocchipmuffin1

Ingredients:

Makes 9 small muffins

100g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 over-ripe banana, mashed

1 egg

40g castor sugar

30g vegetable oil

30g fresh milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

chocolate chips for topping

Steps:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Line muffin tray with cupcake liners.

Sift plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.  Lightly whisk to combine the dry ingredients.

Whisk egg and sugar till well combined.

Add milk and whisk till combined.  Next add vegetable oil and whisk till combined.

Add mashed banana and vanilla and whisk till well combined.

Make a small well in the centre of the dry ingredients.  Pour in the wet ingredients and fold to combine both ingredients.  Do not overfold as this will result in tough muffins. Light and swift folds will result in moist and fluffy muffins.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners till about half full.

Garnish or top with chocolate chips.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

After baking, let the muffins cool on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes.

chocchipmuffin2
Enjoy these muffins warm with a cup of coffee or tea

I kept the extra muffins in an air-tight container and stored them in the fridge because the chocolate chips would melt at room temperature in sunny Singapore.  When the sweet tooth kicks in I will take them out of the fridge and enjoy them with coffee and a nice conversation with my daughter.  That’s the simple life I love!