Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed-Sour Cream Cake

As described in the book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum, this cake can be baked with or without poppy seed and I'm curious to try out the differences. I'm baking this cake using three of my miniature Bundt cake tins and made three different versions of this cake. One has all ingredients in this recipe, another has all except the poppy seeds and the third one has all but using the poppy seed only as the cake topping. 

These cake are very moist and delicious to eat but I reckon they are all too crumbly on their surfaces. Seeing that this recipe contains a large amount of butter and sour cream, I would assume that this cake would has a buttery and compact texture but I was wrong seeing that the cake is quite fluffy instead. As described in the book, the cakes did shrunk from the sides of the pan after removal from the oven, and I reckon this is causing the cakes to be quite crumbly on their surfaces as they withdrew themselves from their pan surfaces. 

For this reason, I reckon the cake that has the poppy seed topping has worked the best for me! Surprisingly, the poppy seed topping has make this crumbly cake easier to un-mold and it looks neater than the other two cakes. Despite all imperfect looks, all three different versions are all nice and buttery-yummy and the one with poppy seed incorporated is slightly different from others with its extra nutty texture. 

The each of us had a go to vote and choose to eat the cake that we prefer the most with our name tags. Not surprising, my son chose the best looking one and it's always mum and dad get the uglier-looking cakes! LOL!

I am baking these mini Lemon cakes for our bake-along with my two baking buddies, Lena, from Frozen wings and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours. For our next bake-along, we are baking Ciabatta which is to be posted on 12 March 2012. Please join us and blog hop with us on this day or within the next 7 days.

Here's the recipe from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
(with my minor modifications and notes in blue) 

Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake

Serve 12-14

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
200g sour cream
1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
250g cake flour or all purpose flour (I used cake flour which has 8% protein content)
250g superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (replace by baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
5 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
1/3 cup poppy seeds
200g unsalted butter

one 10-cup metal fluted tube pan coated with baking spray and with flour

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C and set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolk, 1/4 cup sour cream and vanilla, just until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda (I didn't add this), salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds (See my note) on low speed for 30 sec. Add the butter and remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 min. The mixture will lighten in colour and texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 sec after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a silicon spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.

Bake for 45-55 min or until a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Shortly before the cake is finished, make the lemon syrup.

Lemon syrup

Makes 2/3 cup or 200g

Sugar 112g
Lemon juice 6 tbsp

In a large microwavable glass measure, heat sugar and lemon juice, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved. Do not allow it to boil. Cover it tightly to prevent evaporation.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with thin skewer, and brush it with one-third of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 min. Invert it onto a serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with remaining syrup. Cool completely and wrap tightly.

Using 1/3 of the recipe, I've divided the cake batter into 3 portions. I've incorporate 5g of poppy seed in one portion, sprinkled 2g of poppy seed into another cake tin as cake toppings and kept the last third of cake batter with no poppy seeds. I've baked 3 mini Bundt cakes (each with 1 cup capacity) at 150°C fan forced for 30 min. 

Happy Baking

Here are our baking friends that have joined us for this bake-along. Please visit their blogs for more of their Lemon Poppy Seed Cake baking.

Please submit your details if you wish to link your post with this bake-along. This linking tool is open from 28 Mar to 5 Mar 2012.

To blog hop with us, simply copy and paste this linky HTML code into your blog post where you want the blog hop list to appear. Make sure you are in HTML view/mode when you paste in the code.

get the InLinkz code

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti and Awards

I like biscotti... for being guilt-free with no added fat and its delicious flavours.

This biscotti recipe originates from one of the older issues of Donna Hay magazine and I have decided to re-visit this old one after seeing similar biscotti posts by Viv from Green Cilantro and Jessie from Jessie Cooking Moments.

These biscotti are quite similar to the one I made previously but unlike my previous biscotti, these were baked for just 10 min for their second bake. I like these ones better as they are not as firm as the ones that was baked for 30 min.
cranberry pistachio biscotti 
These biscotti are very yummy and I'm baking lots of them this time!

Here's recipe from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue Dec 2011 / Jan 2012
(with my modification in blue)

Make 80
2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
1 1 /2 tsp baking powder, sifted
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
1 cup (130g) sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup (140g) shelled unsalted pistachios
Preheat oven to 160°C (or 150°C fan forced). Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.

Add the eggs, vanilla, orange rind, cranberries and pistachios and mix until a smooth dough dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into 2 (or 3) equal portions and roll each portion into a 20 cm (or 15 cm if the dough is divided into 3 portions) long log. Flatten slightly and place on a lightly greased baking trays lined with non stick baking paper.

Bake for 30-35 min or until firm. Set aside to cool completely. Use a serrated knife to cut the logs into 3mm thick slices and place the slices on baking trays lined with non baking paper. Bake for a further 8-10 min or until golden and crisp. Allow to cool on trays.

Happy Baking

Just before I end this post, I would like take this opportunity to thank my following blogging friends who have given an award for the last 2 months. I must say that their blogs are fantastic and each has an unique style of cooking and baking. I'm very happy and honored to be a follower of their blog as I learn lots of cooking knowledge from them.

Chris from Yummy Bakes

NEL from the batter baker

Vivian from Vivian Pang Kitchen

Doris from Tested and Tasted

Ridwan from Ridwan's Kitchen

Jasline from Food is my Life

Ambreen from Simply Sweet and Savoury

Thank you so much for sharing all your delicious recipes and your support.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Milky Brownie Stars

My son loves reading this book, How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers. The story is about a boy that loves stars very much that he decided to catch one of his very own...

Like Oliver, the author of this book, my son loves to catch a star of his very own. And, since he is also crazily in love with everything that is BLUE, I suggested making lots of BLUE Brownies Stars for him and his friends to "catch" during an afternoon tea party.

This kiddy version of brownies is super easy to make and easy to handle for cutting into shapes. Although these brownie stars seem to be a great food idea for my son and his friends to enjoy, there are heaps of brownies scraps and pieces lying around after cutting the brownies into their star shapes. I felt really bad throwing away these food scraps away and decided to keep them in a "waste jar". Funny that my family and I actually enjoy eating these brownies scraps from "waste jar" and I'm glad I didn't create too much waste from this bake.

milky brownie stars condensed milk

Here are the blue stars for my son and his friends...
Even the cutter that I used is also BLUE colour!
Look at the heaps of "waste" that I've created...Ops!
Waste No more! Just dunk our hands into these brownies scraps. Never to think that "waste" can taste so good.

Here's the Milky Brownies recipe largely modified from a Nestle advertisement featured in old issue of Super Food Idea Magazine (Dec 2010 / Jan 2011 Issue)
(with my modification marked in blue)

Make 10
375g dark chocolate melt (replaced by milk chocolate melt)
200g butter, chopped
1/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (replaced by milk chocolate chips)
380g can Nestle Top' n' Fill Caramel (replaced by 390g condensed milk)

1. Preheat oven to 180
°C/160°C fan forced. Grease a 4.5 cm deep 21 cm x 31 cm baking pan. Line base and sides with paper paper allowing 2 cm overhang at long ends. Place dark (or milk) chocolate melts and butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave uncovered on MEDIUM for 2-3 min, stirring every min with a metal spoon, or until melted and spoon.
2. Stir caster sugar into chocolate mixture. Stand for 5 min. Add eggs, 1 at a time, stirring after addition. Stir in flour. Fold through white chocolate chips (or milk chocolate chips) and Top' n' Fill Caramel (or condensed milk). Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 min or until skewer inserted comes out with crumbs clinging. Set aside in pan to cool completely.

3. Using an 8 cm star-shaped cookie cutter, cut 10 stars from brownies. serve

Note: I yielded 30 stars using a 4.5 cm star cutter to cut these brownies. I used royal icing (recipe from my previous post, Mini Gingerbread Houses, quantity with less than 1/4 egg white and tinted with Wilton blue colour gel) to outline the stars. Then, I sprinkled blue sanding sugar on the icing and brownies before the icing set.

Happy Baking

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

I simply love the rustic look and tangy taste of these raspberry bars... but my husband and son think that these "pink" sandwich bars are too girly for them and didn't like them as much as I do.

This recipe originates from the book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and has been baked by Smitten Kitchen. These fruity bars aren't too sweet and great to be consumed as our daily lunchbox fillers.

raspberry breakfast bars

Here's the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
(with my slight modifications and motes in blue)

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used dark Muscovado sugar for extra flavour)
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used dark Muscovado sugar)
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used the frozen ones)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 160°C fan forced). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. Butter the parchment. (I line my baking pan with baking paper and didn't grease my pan and baking paper.)

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 min. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 min, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares (or bars shapes) and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Note: Using 1/3 of the recipe, I've baked the bars using 10 cm x 20 cm loaf pan and baked the base for 15 min and the bars with raspberry filling for another 35 min. I can yield 5 bars (size about 4 cm x 10 cm) with this amount that I baked.

Happy Baking

Monday, February 13, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcake Pops or Red Velvet Cupcakes? ...and a Bake-Along Announcement

"Do you want to have a red velvet cupcake pop or a red velvet cupcake?"

Funny that my son gave me a blank stare when I asked him this question. I feel like reading a tongue twister whenever I ask this question.

Now...would you like to have this?
red velvet cupcake cake pops
or this?
red velvet cupcake

Actually both red velvet cupcakes are made using the same recipe from the book, The Hummingbird Cookbook by Tarek Malouf.  I've heard and read lots of great reviews of this recipe and was extremely keen to bake and taste these cupcakes. These cupcakes are indeed extremely fabulous! They are light and fluffy in texture, mild in sweetness and compliment very well with its sweet cream cheese frosting.

Apart from baking these Hummingbird red velvet cupcakes, there is another thing that I always want to do... To transform these cupcakes into cake pops! Am I a big fan of Bakerella? Absolutely!  I have a copy of her book and keep browsing it from time to time. I have been thinking and thinking a lot of making my own cake pops but wasn't brave enough to make an attempt. Now, here I am... presenting my very own little red velvet cake cupcake cake pops, proudly made all the way from scratch! LOL!

red velvet cupcake pops
I'm having a bite now! Yum!
These cupcakes and cake pops are made for our Bake-Along with my two baking buddies, Lena, from Frozen wings and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours. Thanks for this great baking opportunity. I never regret baking these red velvet cupcakes and making these red velvet cupcakes cake pops!


We are doing a blog hop too for our next coming Bake-Alongs! Instead of 5 days, the blog hop link will be open for 7 days. 

For our Bake-Along No. 19, we are baking Sour Cream Lemon Poppy Seed cake which is to be posted on 28 Feb 2012. Our recipe for baking this cake is from the book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. To join: you can either bake this cake using the same recipe or any of your favourite Lemon Poppy Seed Cake recipe and blog hop with us. This blog hop will open on 28 Feb 2012 to 5 Mar 2012. For more Bake-Along blog hop details, please see this.

Here are the recipes of the Red Velvet Cupcakes and Red Velvet Cupcakes Cake Pops.
(with my slight modification and notes in blue)

Red Velvet Cupcakes from The Hummingbird Cookbook by Tarek Malouf


Makes 12
caster sugar
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
10g cocoa powder (I choose not to use Dutch processed - see my notes)
20ml red food colouring (I used 10ml Wilton one)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120 buttermilk (I used milk)
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (I choose not to replace this with baking powder - see my notes)
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (I used just white vinegar)

Preheat oven to 170°C.

Place butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer up to high speed and slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured.

Turn the mixer to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk (or milk). Beat until well mixed, add half the flour, and beat everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all buttermilk (or milk) and flour have been added. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until mixture turn smooth and evenly mixed. Turn mixer to low speed and add salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more min.

Spoon the mixture into paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 min or until sponge bounces back when touched. Leave cupcakes cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Amount to frost 12 cupcakes:
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature (replace with extra light cream cheese)
125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until mixture is well mixed. (As I've replaced the butter with extra cream cheese, I've skipped this step). Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium high speed and continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy. Do not over beat as it can quickly become runny.


I made 11 cupcakes with this recipe but half the amount of frosting to ice 6 cupcakes. For the cupcakes frosting, I've used the extra light cream cheese to make the frosting. For the cake pops, I've made the frosting using 1/4 of the frosting recipe and used the normal cream cheese instead. Both frosting were chilled for at least 30 min before use.

For the cupcakes: I've piped the frosting onto cupcakes and decorated them with a couple of heart sprinkles. Please note that the lighter version of frosting will be runny and there will no be any defined piping design on the cupcakes and yet the frosting can stay on its position quite well.

Normal cocoa  powder (the non-Dutch processed ones) is usually slightly acidic and lighter in its colour. For this reason, I would prefer to use the non-Dutch-processed one for its slightly acidic pH to ensure the pH balance of the cake batter and its lighter colour to achieve more redness in colour of the cake batter.

My family and I dislike the after-taste of bicarbonate of soda in all our cakes and cookies. However, I would prefer not to replace bicarbonate of soda with baking powder in this bake as I reckon the soda being alkaline is very essential to react with the acid from vinegar to create a light and velvety texture. In fact, I reckon the cake chemistry works quite well for this recipe and there wasn't much soda after-taste in my cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes Cake Pops


There are basic instructions found in Bakerella website for cake pops making, but I reckon that the instructions of making cake pops can vary quite a bit based on case-to-case basis and this is how I made my cake pops from my red velvet cupcakes...

Make 7 cake pops
3 plain red velvet cupcakes
Cream cheese frosting (1/4 quantity of the above recipe)
Wilton red candy melt
Wilton white candy melts
Vegetable oil (Canola oil)
Lollipop sticks
Mini red M & M
Hundreds and Thousands
Flower-shape cookie cutter

After cupcakes are cooled completely, crumble them into a bowl.

Start by adding 1-2 tbsp cream cheese frosting into the cake crumble and mix thoroughly. Add more bit by bit while mixing and stop adding when the mixture form a workable dough texture. (I had about less than 2-3 tbsp frosting left when the cake dough was formed.)

Roll each tablespoonful of mixture into balls. Shape their "bottoms" with the flower-shape cookie cutter and and lay their top side on the tray or plates.

Chill for 1 hr or more.

Melt both candy melt separately in microwave according to the directions on the package. Add vegetable oil into each melted candy melt until a smooth consistency is achieved.

Dip the "bottoms" of the cake balls onto the red candy melt and place their top sides on tray or plates. Being the red candy melt set, coat about 1-2 cm of the lollipop stick with red candy melt and insert the coated part of the lollipop stick into the cake balls. Allow the red candy melt to set. With the lollipop sticks, these cake balls are officially cake pops now.

Holding the lollipop stick, coat the top of the cake balls into the white candy melt. Place the cake pop on a supporting cup or Styrofoam and sprinkle their top with a small pinch of Hundreds and Thousands and not forgetting the final touch of placing a mini M & M on the top middle of the cake pops. Allow the white candy melt to set and they will be all ready to eat!

Happy Baking and Happy Valentine's Day

What? Blog Hop again? I hope that you are not confused! There are TWO BLOG HOP events organised by me!

One is Bake-Along which is co-hosted by Lena, from Frozen wings and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours. Another is my blog hop event, Cook like a Star starting on on 1st Mar 2012.

We are doing the Bake-Along blog hops twice a month and the linky code is open for 7 days. Cook like a Star blog hop is a monthly on-going event and theme changes on the first day of the month.

For March, the first celebrity chef that I've chosen for the month is Donna Hay! To join, all you have to do is to cook or bake any of Donna Hay's recipes. Her recipes can be from her cookbooks, magazines and websites and simply do a blog hop with me on the whole month of March 2012. For more details, please see this.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Very Fudgy Brownies

I was busy baking these brownies early in a morning while my husband and son were sleeping in their bedroom. I wonder if it is the chocolaty aroma or the noise that I was making the kitchen that woke my husband and son very early in that morning and immediately they came to me and asked for these brownies.

Once the brownies were out of the oven, we started attacking them. We were enjoying their yummy, gooey chocolaty center and it was extremely difficult for us to stop at one piece. Then, I got to plea everyone to stop..."Hey, remember to keep some for my blog, please!" LOL

These brownies are indeed very fudgy. The chocolate that I used for this bake is all the 70% cocoa ones. I'm glad that the sweetness and fudgy texture of these brownies are nicely balanced and we simply love their intense very-chocolaty flavour.

The smell of these brownies is surely a great "gift" to greet our early morning... and also great for our early Valentine day celebration.

very fudgy moist brownies

very fudgy moist chocolate brownies

Here's the recipe from Tish Boyle.
(with my modification in blue)

Makes 48 brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
6 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped 
(I use 70% bittersweet cocoa chocolate)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I use 70% cocoa chocolate)
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or cut into shards 
(I use 70% bittersweet cocoa chocolate)
1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on the narrow ends.

2. Combine the butter, unsweetened chocolate and 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate in a medium, heavy saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and both sugars with an electric mixer on low speed just until smooth. Beat in the salt. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture, then beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour in two additions (the batter will be thick). Stir in the 7 ounces chocolate.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the top is set but still soft and the edges are puffed and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out still gooey (be brave!--under-baking the brownies is one of the secrets to their fudgy texture). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. For the neatest cuts, refrigerate the pan for about 20 minutes before cutting the brownies. Using the foil, lift the brownie slab out of the pan. Carefully peel off the foil and put the brownie on a large cutting board. With a large sharp knife, cut the brownies into 48 squares. 

(The brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can also be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 weeks.)

Using 1/2 of the recipe, I've baked these brownies in 20cm square pan at 160°C fan forced for 25 min. 

Happy Baking

This post is a blog hop submission hosted by Lizzy from That Skinny Chick can Bake!!!

And here are also a list of her co-hosts for this event:

A Little Bit of Everything ~ Roxana ~ @RoxanaGreenGirl
ASTIG Vegan ~ Richgail ~ @astigvegan
Badger Girl Learns to Cook
~ Kimberly ~ @BdgrGrl
Baker Street
~ Anuradha ~ @bakerstreet29
Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves
~ Becky Higgins
Baking Extravaganza
~ Samantha
~ Erin ~ @BigFatBaker
Bon a croquer
~ Valerie ~ @Valouth
~ Terra ~ @CafeTerraBlog
Cake Duchess
~ Lora ~ @cakeduchess
Cakeballs, Cookies and More
~ Sue
Cooking with Books
~ Marnely ~ @nella22
Creative Cooking Corner
~ Karriann ~ @KarriannGraf
Easily Good Eats
~ Three Cookies
Elephant Eats
~ Amy
~ Georgie ~ @georgiecakes
Hobby And More
~ Richa ~ @betit19
Java Cupcake
~ Betsy ~ @JavaCupcake
Kitchen Belleicious
~ Jessica
Mike's Baking
~ Mike ~ @mikesbaking
Mis Pensamientos
~ Junia ~ @juniakk
No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
~ TR ~ @TRCrumbley
Oh Cake
~ Jessica ~ @jesshose
Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives ~ Lisa
Preheat the Oven
~ Jason ~ @officialchefjae
Rico sin Azucar
~ Helena ~ @ricosinazucar
Savoring Every Bite
~ Linda ~ @Spicegirlfla
Simply Reem
~ Reem ~ @simplyreem
Smart Food and Fit
~ Lisa ~ @LisaNutrition
Soni's Food for Thought
~ Soni ~ @sonisfood
Sprint 2 the Table
~ Laura ~ @Sprint2theTable
Teaspoon of Spice
~ Deanna ~ @tspbasil
That Skinny Chick Can Bake
~ Liz ~ @Thatskinnychick
The Dusty Baker
~ Jacqueline ~ @dustybakergal
The More Than Occasional Baker
~ Ros ~ @bakingaddict
The Spicy RD
~ EA ~ @thespicyrd
The Wimpy Vegetarian
~ Susan ~ @wimpyvegetarian
Vegan Yack Attack!
~ Jackie ~ @veganyackattack
Vegetarian Mamma
~ Cindy ~ @VegetarianMamma
You Made That?
~ Suzanne ~ @YouMadeThatblog

Don't forget that to join in my blog hop event, Cook like a Star starting on on 1st Mar 2012 and the first celebrity chef that I've chosen for March 2012 is Donna Hay!

For each month, I will nominate a specific celebrity chef for us to be star-struck for Cook like a Star and would like to invite everyone to do this blog hop with me. Based on the nominated chef, I will cook or bake one or more of the nominated chef's recipes and do a blog hop with everyone who also cook or bake the nominated chef's recipes.

To join, all you have to do is to cook or bake any of Donna Hay's recipes. Her recipes can be from her cookbooks, magazines and websites and simply do a blog hop with me on the whole month of March 2012. For more details, please see this.


Monday, February 6, 2012

A Simplified Semi-Sourdough Bread

I love reading the precise descriptions of how Bourke Street Bakery makes their sourdough breads. Knowing the entire bakery bread baking process has made me realise that a good and efficient wild yeast starter is an absolute essential to create an authentic and well-balanced sour taste and texture in a good loaf of sourdough bread.

Sometimes, I wish that I can bake an authentic sourdough bread just like how Bourke Street Bakery does, but it seems so crazy and impossible for a busy working mum like me to go through all these tedious procedures just to put a loaf of sourdough bread on our dining table. According to this book, the sourdough starter itself need at least four weeks to initial and require lots of feeding and maintenance schedule in order to keep it alive. Furthermore, the wild yeast in the sourdough starter are not known to be not as active as the commercial ones and this means a typical sourdough bread will need a longer fermentation time.

I've re-created a simplified version of semi-sourdough recipe. It contains one-third of the recipe which is largely adapted from the book, Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allam and David Mcguinness. Using this recipe, I've made my own starter culture using regular commercial yeast and leave it to ferment for more than 18 hr at room temperature. I was hoping that this overnight fermentation will encourage some wild yeast and bacteria to grow in this starter and will eventually create a sourdough like-taste even within this shorter period of fermentation.

My further reading from this book, The Bread Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, has also made me realise that a typical sourdough starter usually contains a combination of wild yeast and Lactobacillus which is a bacteria specie that can metabolize the bread dough to give it a tangy sour taste. Unlike wild yeast, the regular commercial one cannot tolerate too acidic environment created by Lactobacillus and only the wild yeast can grow in symbiotic combination with Lactobacillus. To counter this, I've added an extra minimal amount of yeast in my bread dough to compensate the "dead" yeast after the extensive overnight fermentation.

Ta-da! This is my semi-sourdough bread! I think that it tastes quite similar to a typical sourdough bread. It is lightly crusted on its outside; moist, chewy and slightly-tangy in its inside. I'm very happy that this simplified recipe has worked well for me.

easy sourdough bread 
my white starter
Making my bread...
easy sour dough bread
We are enjoying every lovely slice of this bread...Yum!
Here's my simplified Semi-Sourdough Bread recipe, mostly adapted from the book, Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allam and David Mcguinness

Make 1 loaf, 0.5 kg dough

white starter*

100g water
100g bread flour
1/4 tsp sugar - I've added this to encourage initial feeding of starter cultures
1/4 tsp instant dried yeast

*This starter contains 10% extra to compensate any loss due to evaporation or sticking on side of bowl and hands.

Make this starter 18-24 hr prior to bread making. Mix all starter ingredients by hand and let the starter to ferment in room temperature until it is ready on the next day for bread making.

225g bread flour
3g fresh yeast or 1/3 tsp instant dried yeast
90ml water
4g sea salt


To make the bread using an electric mixer, put the starter in the bowl of the mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add the flour, yeast, water and salt. Mix on slow speed for 4 min, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to high for 5 min, or until dough comes away from the edges of the bowl and is smooth and elastic. The dough should be able to be stretched to transparent and create a window. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for 20 min.

Lightly grease a container and sit the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at ambient room temperature (approximately 20°C) for 1 hr to bulk prove.

To knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and press out into a rectangle about 2.5 cm thick. Use your hands to fold one-third back onto itself, then repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again into thirds. Place the dough back into the oiled container and continue to bulk prove for a further 1 hr.

Lightly grease a loaf tin (ideal size 15 cm x 9 cm but mine is 10 cm x 20 cm).

To shape the dough, surround dough with your cupped hands, always keeping your hands in contact with the dough. In an anti-clockwise motion, start rolling the dough to create a tight ball with a smooth surface. Set aside on a lightly floured surface for 20 min, covered with plastic wrap.

Stretch dough to double its width. Fold a third into itself towards the middle, then fold in the other third to overlap in the middle. Lightly press down to prevent any large air pockets forming.

Bring the dough into the shape that will be placed into the tin with its seam side facing down. Allow the loaf to grow an extra two-third of its size for approximately 60 to 90 min.

Preheat the oven to 220°C and 200°C fan forced. Spray the oven with water and bake for 20 min, turn the loaf around and bake for another 10 min. Check the base of the loaf with a tap of finger - if it sounds hollow, it is ready. The loaf should take no longer than 40 min in total to bake.

Happy Baking
Don't forget that to join in my blog hop event, Cook like a Star starting on on 1st Mar 2012 and the first celebrity chef that I've chosen for March 2012 is Donna Hay!

For each month, I will nominate a specific celebrity chef for us to be star-struck for Cook like a Star and would like to invite everyone to do this blog hop with me. Based on the nominated chef, I will cook or bake one or more of the nominated chef's recipes and do a blog hop with everyone who also cook or bake the nominated chef's recipes.

To join, all you have to do is to cook or bake any of Donna Hay's recipes. Her recipes can be from her cookbooks, magazines and websites and simply do a blog hop with me on the whole month of March 2012. For more details, please see this.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Potato and Lemon Thyme Frittata and A Blog Hop Event

We love our lemon thyme plant. Every time when we are relaxing at our balcony, my son will pick a few of our lemon thyme, crush the leaves, rub them on his hands and then smell his hands with lots of deep breath.

"Mummy, do you want to smell my hands?" He will then ask me to smell the leaves with him and I will. Indeed, I think lemon thyme did smell a little like lemon and we both loves the fragrance of lemon and these lemon thyme leaves. This recipe from the MasterChef Magazine, July 2011 issue is quite unique; it uses lemon thyme to enhance the taste of a frittata. Good that this magazine is free, but only for this issue from its app download.

Being a health freak, I never like the idea of using butter in my savoury cooking but today, I will try cooking this frittata as much as I can in the "MasterChef" way. Or maybe not exactly... I did try to stick to the recipe as much as I can but it is always limitations in some cases...

When I buy a bunch of spring onions or leeks, they usually come in a bundle of 8-10 and the frustration bit is that I need only 2 of each in this recipe! To minimise wastage, I have decided to replace leek with the the white parts of spring onion. I didn't want to waste extra money again, buying flat-leaf parsley and so I replaced them with baby spinach which is part of our salad for the day. Plus, another ingredient in this recipe, the white balsamic vinegar is not easily available in any local stores and supermarkets and so it is not available at the time when I cook this dish. I reckon...trying to cook like a MasterChef is really not easy and very money consuming. I think I'm more like a thrifty mum in this case. LOL!

Despite all the efforts, this dish is really really really delicious just like what a good cafe would serve. The spring onion dressing is a must to compliment this dish and my husband and son think that I should cook more like a "MasterChef" more often...Please read further for a blog hop announcement.

Cooking the frittata...
The Delicious Spring Onion Dressing - a must to compliment this frittata
Here's the recipe from the MasterChef Magazine, July 2011
(with my minor modification and notes in blue)

Potato and Lemon Thyme Frittata


Serve 4 as a light meal

60g butter
2 leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced 
(replaced by white parts of spring onions)
2 garlic cloves garlic, crushed
8 sprigs lemon thyme, leaves picked
2 large Desiree potatoes, peeled, cut into 2 cm pieces
(used only 1, 2 is too much for us to finish)
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (replaced by baby spinach)
40g (1/2 cup) finely grated Parmesan
8 eggs
Rocket (replaced by baby spinach) and char-grilled vegetables (optional), to serve

Spring Onion Dressing


2 spring onions, trimmed, roughly chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I didn't add this)
2 tsp white balsamic vinegar 
(replaced by 1 tsp white vinegar and 1 tsp original balsamic vinegar)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil (reduced to 1 tbsp)

To make spring onion dressing, process all the ingredients in a food processor until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Melt half the butter in a 24 cm (mine is 26 cm) oven proof frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks (white spring onion) and garlic, and cook stirring occasionally for 10 min or until leeks (white spring onion) are soft.

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add thyme and potatoes, and cook, turning for 5 min or until golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and drain on paper towel. Add half the potatoes (I added all from 1 potato) to the leek (white spring onion) mixture and season.

Place parsley (I didn't add this), Parmesan and eggs in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour egg mixture over leek (white spring onion) mixture and stir gently to combine. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 min or until frittata is firm but slightly wobbly in the center (it will continue to cook).

Scatter with reserved potatoes (I didn't have any reserved potatoes) and rocket (baby spinach), if using. Drizzle with a little spring onion dressing and serve with remaining dressing on salad or char-grilled vegetables, if using.


Cooking this dish does made me realise that I have a lot to learn for cooking and baking. I reckon... to be able to cook and bake well (plus MasterChef factors), I have to cook or bake from various recipes cooked and baked by various celebrity chefs. Having a series of "serious" thinking, I have decided to start a blog hop called, Cook like a Star.

For each month, I will nominate a specific celebrity chef for us to be star-struck for this blog hop and would like to invite everyone to do this blog hop with me. Based on the nominated chef, I will cook or bake one or more of the nominated chef's recipes and do a blog hop with everyone who also cook or bake the nominated chef's recipes.

This blog hop will officially start on 1st Mar 2012 and the first celebrity chef that I've chosen for March 2012 is Donna Hay!


Donna Hay is Australia's leading food editor and best-selling cookbook author.  To me, Donna Hay is the queen of food presentation and everything that she cooks and bakes look so chic and modern. Her food and recipes uses lots of basic ingredients, simply prepared and beautifully photographed. I must say that she has been a great inspiration to me.

To join, all you have to do is to cook or bake any of Donna Hay's recipes. Her recipes can be from her cookbooks, magazines and websites and simply do a blog hop with me on the whole month of March 2012. For more details, please see this.

Please blog hop with me soon! Happy Baking.