Monday, August 31, 2015

Guilt-free Double Chocolate Adzuki Bean Brownies (and Gluten-free too!)

I'm always a strong believer of ...

We are what we eat

Eat well live well

... but what should we eat to stay healthy? Low fat? Low sugar? Low carb? Low calories? Atkins? Paleo diet? Raw food? Macrobiotic? Vegan? Detox? Vitamins?

I'm not a nutritionist and can't answer this question most appropriately. For me, I like to enjoy my food with moderation. I like to invest on fresh and good quality ingredients and like to cook or bake from scratch with good and honest ingredients as much as possible. Most importantly, my food has to taste good as good food makes me feel good... Happy tummy = Happy me! Agree?

Can sensuously delicious food be healthy too? Possible if we have a positive attitude to appreciate food. For me, I like to enjoy my food with flavours but it doesn't have to be extremely meaty, vegan, oily, creamy, spicy, salty and sweet. I'm after a good balance of taste and texture with reasonable amount of nutrition and this is what I see in these double chocolate adzuki bean brownies...

double chocolate adzuki bean brownies
Double chocolate adzuki bean brownies

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Flaky and Flakiest Tau Sar Piah with smooth Tau Sar filling 酥皮豆沙饼

This is me continuing my tau sar piah baking exploration...

Tau sar piah? It is a traditional Singapore / Malaysian Chinese type of pastry filled with mung beans filling which can be sweet, salty, pasty or melty as mentioned at here.

If you are a Singaporean like me, you will know that there are many types of tau sar piah with various types and combinations of fillings and pastry to enjoy... Previously, I have baked the yuan yang kind which is made of a flaky pastry with a perfect combination of slightly sweet, salty and spicy flavours in its mung beans and meat floss filling. And for this bake, I tell myself that I have to find the tau sar piah that is the flakiest!

At where? I like to ask... mirror mirror on the wall? Nay! I don't have a magic mirror and don't look like an evil queen or even a snow white! LOL! Fortunately, I do have internet and have a blogging friend who has baked the most awesome flaky tau sar piah at Victoria Bakes. High five Victoria!!!

This recipe can bake seriously flaky tau sar piah!!! To look for the flakiest of all, I'm in my investigating suit to see if the use of different fat can make any differences... Well, let's see.

flaky tar sar piah smooth tau sar filling
Is this flaky Tau Sar Piah the flakiest?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

McCafe / Gloria Jeans like Brown Sugar Golden Syrup Banana Bread - Highly Recommended

"The banana cakes in Australia are not nice! They are too sweet and dense. I don't them... " said uncle B, a distant relative from Singapore when we met up in Melbourne.

"I know." I disagreed with what uncle B said but had to acknowledge this remark with a nod.

Please don't get me wrong here... I like the banana cakes and breads in Australia because I can appreciate banana cakes and breads with all kinds of taste and texture. At the same time, I like to be diplomatic to all opinions and can understand why uncle B doesn't like the sweet and dense banana breads as these cafe style banana breads are not the usual spongy and buttery banana cakes that we usually eat in Singapore.

"Uncle, the sweet and compact banana breads in Australia are actually the cafe style kind." I tried to defend the banana breads in Australia but wasn't aiming to convince Uncle B or change his opinion as I know that the liking of a particular banana cake or bread can be subjective to individual's preference and taste.

I guess that uncle B is also confused with the definition of banana bread and cakes. Are banana breads and cakes the same? According to eHow, banana breads are generally denser than banana cakes and they tend to emphasize more of their grain taste with just a hint of sweetness, whereas banana cakes embraces the full sweetness of a traditional cake.

I have baked many kinds of banana cakes and bread before at here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Whether they are banana cakes or banana breads, they are all so different!!!

Some at here are soft and fluffy.
Some at here and here are dense and nutty.
Some at here are super moist.
Some at here are buttery whereas some at here are low fat and less sinfully ones to enjoy.

There is one particular banana bread that I really like and it is the Hummingbird's Bakery banana loaf. It is beautifully sweetened with muscovado sugar and has fine and compact crumbs (not dense or heavy) and is less sweeter, less darker and less dense than the McCafe or Gloria Jean kinds. Having said that, I like McCafe and Gloria Jeans kind of banana breads too and was searching for a copycat recipe and at Best Recipes, I found this highly rated banana bread recipe.

Looking the recipe closely, my first reaction was... Hey! This is not McCafe banana bread!!! It has hazelnut meal in it! Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm 99.9% sure that the McCafe's banana breads has NO hazelnut in them!

However... Looking at both Best Recipes' Banana bread and Hummingbird's Bakery banana loaf closely, I noticed that if the hazelnut meal is substituted with all purpose flour, both recipes are actually quite the same! ... except that 
the Hummingbird's Bakery banana loaf contains 1) no golden syrup 2) twice the amount of brown sugar and 3) the method of mixing the batter is very different. The batter made by Best Recipes' Banana bread is made by beating butter and sugar first but the batter made by Hummingbird's Bakery banana loaf is made by beating the sugar and eggs first. Hmmm...

To see if the method of mixing will make any difference, I have used Best Recipes' Banana bread to make two kind of banana breads: one with hazelnut meal and one substituted hazelnut meal with all purpose and result is really interesting!

McCafe Gloria Jeans like cafe style dark brown sugar golden syrup banana bread
McCafe / Gloria Jeans like cafe style dark brown sugar golden syrup banana bread