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.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

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 

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

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcake Pops or Red Velvet Cupcakes?

"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

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.

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 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Potato and Lemon Thyme Frittata

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... Hmmm :)