Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Measure-Stir-and-Bake Chocolate Chunk cookies

I must apologise for being distracted from my bread making experiments. I was also busy making a Lightning McQueen cake and Disney cars cupcakes for my son's birthday. I will be flat-out this week as I will be attending a course at William Angliss Institute this weekend.

All I can bake now are these super-easy "Measure-Stir-and-Bake chocolate cookies". These cookies are so good that my husband and son just couldn't stop eating.

As mentioned in its name, these cookies are truly - measure, mix, stir and bake. I was "wicked" by replacing all the chocolate with the ones with higher cocoa content. At the same time, I was "nice" too by using the 25% fat reduced peanut butter and Alfa one rice bran spread instead of butter. For this combination, my freshly baked cookies have a nice surprising-soft texture. They were filled with semi-solid gooey high cocoa chocolate chunks with lots of melt-in-the-mouth effects...Yum!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Disney Cars cupcakes

These Disney cars cupcakes are part 2 of my son's 2nd Birthday celebration. I'm proud to say that the characters on the cupcakes are all cut, drawn and hand painted by me.

I love making these cupcakes and my ultimate accomplishment is to enjoy the kids' reaction to these cute little cupcakes...

Funny that the kids loves the Lightning McQueen and the King cupcakes but didn't want to touch the Chick cupcakes. This shows that everyone wants to be the "good guys" since young. The kids were observing the details of the character on their cupcakes and was eating them part by part. My son loves his lightning McQueen cupcake. He was holding on his cake so much that he didn't even want to bite it...I love my silly boy.

 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brown sugar mini muffins and ... awards!

These cute little bite size muffins are so simple to bake and quick for eating. I took less than an hour to bake them and they are gone within seconds...

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lightning McQueen cake

It has been a year ago when my baking journey begins...

It was Elmo and Cookie monster cupcakes for my child's one year old birthday cake that got me to be what I am today...

This Lightning McQueen cake is not flawless but is made with lots of love.

Happy 2nd Birthday, son! Mum made this cake for you.

The lightning McQueen cake pan that I used is from Wilton and it comes with concise baking and decoration instructions. I didn't like the idea of using instant cake mix or frosting mix as mentioned in the instructions. To me, using the instant mix wouldn't make any difference from buying the cake from any cake shops.

This is how I made this cake...

 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Chocolate chip Hot Cross Buns Experiment

I'm killing two birds with one stone with this bake!

Two birds??? I had two purposes for baking these buns. One is to enjoy freshly baked hot cross buns for coming Easter season. Second is to use this optimized breadmaker bun recipe to investigate the effectiveness of water roux method in bread making without any addition of bread improver.

I've been reading and researching a lot lately about water roux method. I've also spoken to my friend who attended a professional bread making course. He reckons that the water roux method, also known as starch gelatinization, does not essentially produce soft and fluffy breads. "It is the composition of the recipe and the type of flour used that matters..." he said. 

I really need a good evidence to prove either hypothesis and so I'm using this bake to conduct a bread baking experiment.

Here I'm using standard hot cross bun recipe from my Breville breadmaker instructional manual and cook 10% of its bread flour with half amount of water and proceed to make the buns with the cooked dough and the rest of the instructions without adding any bread improver.

*Drum rolling...rapid heart beating...* My exciting result revealed that my friend is right! The water roux method has no effect in improving the bread texture. The buns were soft and tasty when they were freshly baked but were not as good on the next day. I can see the significant difference when I compare them with breads that I've baked with the addition of bread improver.

With this much effort, I'm disappointed to know the truth...*sign* but, I'm not giving up at this moment after reading Lena's comments. Lena, from frozen wings has baked lots of fluffy delicious bread using a good roux water bun recipe. So, my next bread investigation will to bake the buns using her roux water bun recipe without applying water roux method into the recipe and will be curious to see if the recipe composition is the main reason to retain the fluffy bread texture.


Stay tune for my next bread baking investigation...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A beautiful day and lots of wholemeal breads

It was Labour day yesterday and Melbourne was having this beautiful weather for its Moomba festival and this long weekend. The sky was so clear and blue that gives me lots of feel-good feelings... 

I'm searching for an ideal bread recipe. A bread that gives me lots of feel-good feelings just like my clear blue sky...

Being typically health conscious me, these are the aims that I want in my bread:

1) Whole grains
2) all natural products (ie, honey)
3) avoid using bread improver if possible
4) and most importantly, bread with soft, fluffy and moist texture

However, my aims have not been not easily achieved...

Being impatient, I've tried to incorporate my aims all at a go in a honey 50% wholemeal bread, Unfortunately, this bread is not as good as the ones with bread improver.  Thus, from this point onwards, I've decided to work on my aims step by step.

To improve the texture of wholemeal bread, I'm happy to compromise 50% wholemeal by reducing the content to 30% wholemeal and stick to bread improver and use golden syrup instead of honey. This 30% wholemeal bread is a good start of my search as it contrasts from the 50% wholemeal bread very dramatically.

Next, I replaced the golden syrup with honey in my next bake and I was so glad that the 30% wholemeal honey bread is as fantastic as the 30% wholemeal golden syrup bread!

With the rest of my aims in my mind, my next mission is to try water roux method to see if any difference in improving the bread texture without the use of any bread improver.

30% Wholemeal Honey bread

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Koulourakia

Koulourakia, also known as Greek Easter cookies are buttery pastry that are traditionally hand-shaped into braided circles, hairpin twists, figure eights, twisted wreaths, horseshoes or Greek letters. They have a mild sweet flavor with a hint of vanilla and a beautiful golden colour egg glaze on their top.

Knowing that I'm not a Greek, you might ask..."Why are you baking Koulourakia?"

It all started on one typical morning tea when our half-Greek colleague shared her traditional Koulourakia recipe with everyone. Interestingly, every Greek family has their own different version of Koulourakia. In Australia, most Greek families celebrate their Easter day with their extended community with a large variety of Koulourakia, all in different shapes and flavours. My colleague's recipe uses orange juice and melted butter for her cookies but I prefer the creaming method and so I've decided to use this recipe by Taste.com.

I made these cookies for a Sunday morning tea with my friend and her family and everyone including our kids loves these cookies.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My kind of Apple Tart

This apple tart is really my kind of ideal apple tart. I've "designed" it in the way to use the minimal amount of butter to achieve a great taste. The pastry is the lighter version that I got from a light lemon tart recipe from BBC Australian GoodFood magazine (Nov 2010 issue). With this, I've created a light frangipane mixture to spread the pastry and filled up the tart case with lots of freshly sauté apples.

I've very impressed with this lighter version of pastry; it is flaky and delicious just like most regular shortcrust pastry!  Everyone has their thumbs up for this tart.

I'm submitting this post to the Aspiring Bakers #5 : Fruity March (March 2011) event hosted by Bakericious.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lemonade Scones

This is it! I'm now an official lemonade scone fan! These scones are fantastic!

Another amazing thing about this recipe is there is no butter added but only cream with 35% fat content. Yet, these scones are so soft, moist and very tasty.

When I first saw this lemonade scone recipe, I wasn't sure that this will work well as compared to the traditional scone recipes. Then, I came across a wholemeal version of this recipe in the book, Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery and became curious to see the outcome of these recipes scones. Now, I'm totally convinced. 

 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Seriously rich chocolate brownies

These brownies are seriously rich and delicious! 

I've made these brownies several times before and made these again this time for an afternoon party at the childcare. This time, the childcare food restriction is much more relaxed and is just "No nuts" only. That was easy for me...

My son love love love chocolate! And I would think that these brownies are one of his favourite because they are so rich in chocolate. I usually made these brownies with 70% cocoa dark chocolate but I've used milk chocolate this time because they are for little kids.