Sunday, October 26, 2008

Banana Crumb Muffins

Although banana is not my favourite fruit on its own, i like to use them for baking. They are cheap but once you buy a bunch, you got to consume them within a few days, if not they will turn 'black' and too soft for consumption. In order to 'save' them, i will keep the bananas in the sub-zero and use them whenever there's time to bake something with it. Previously, i peeled the banana skin and kept it in the ice-box. This time round, after reading somewhere that it is easier and better to freeze the banana with the skin, i did it and had a difficult time to remove the skin.

With a quite a few bananas in the freezer, i want to experiment with different recipes so that i could get 'THE" best banana cake! I got this, this, this, and this; not forgetting i had did this and that before. My search for banana cake recipes show one thing in common: all of the bakers have tried more than one banana recipes! I finally decided to try out the Banana Crumb Muffins, which is "a basic banana muffin made extraordinary with a cinnamon-and-brown-sugar streusel topping".

I'm on my lucky streak during these 2 baking days, the muffins turn out soft, moist, fluffy, flavourful, etc.... all i could ask for a banana muffins! However, i know it may not strike a cord with those who doesn't like spices - cinnamon & nutmeg. Also, i'm not very sure whether i got the streusel topping right cos i didn't exactly get the coarse cornmeal texture, and i'm left with half the mixture after topping all the muffins. Anyway, it didn't really matter on this occasion.

Ingredients/ Method:

A) Muffins
190g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
50g brown sugar
100g fine sugar
2 eggs
75g canola oil
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

B) Toppings
15g butter
15g all-purpose flour
75g brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1) Preheat oven at 160 deg C.
2) Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
3) Beat the eggs until light yellow, add in oil, and slowly add in sugar till well mixed. Add in mashed banana.
4) Add in flour to the mixture till well combined, but do not overmix.
5) Spoon the mixture into muffin cups upto 2/3rd filled.
6) In a small bowl, mix Topping ingredients till it resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
7) Bake in oven for 20 mins, or until skewer inserted comes out clean.

For the above, i used mini muffin cups and achieve about 30 little muffins.

Another keeper!

Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake

Actually this recipe has been on my "must-do" list for the longest time, yet I've always have some other things that will crop up and stop me from baking this. It could also be some of the not-so-successful reviews that I read about this recipe that made me 'procastinate' and hesitate to try it. But I'm very glad that I finally baked it today, as it turned out to be my almost-perfect baked cheesecake!

I followed closely to one of the reviewers' comments that gave a very clear step-by-step preparation, and it works well!

Ingredients/ Method

140g fine sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/4tsp cream of tartar
50g butter
250g cream cheese
100ml fresh milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
grated lemon zest (optional)
60g cake flour/ superfine flour (i accidentally used self-raising flour)
20g cornflour
1/4tsp salt (again, i accidentally omitted)

1) Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double-boiler. Cool the mixture.
2) Sift the cream cheese to avoid lumps and to achieve smooth texture.
3) Add in lemon juice and egg yolks using wire whisk, mix well.
4) Add in flour and corn flour into the cream cheese mixture, a little at a time, until well mixed.
5) In a separate bowl, beat the egg white till foamy, then slowly add in cream of tartar.
6) When egg white mixture reaches soft peak, add in sugar slowly and continue to beat until you reach stiff peak.
7) Take 1/4 egg white mixture and add into cream cheese mixture, mix well.
8) Fold the remaining egg white mixture into the cream cheese mixture, do not overmix.
9) Pour mixture in 8' cake tin and lined the bottom and side with baking paper.
10) Bake at 160 deg C for 1 hour 20 min in water bath. (PS. The last 10 mins, I switch to bottom heat only, to prevent the cake top from over-brown.)

The cake lives up to its name - cottony, soft. I've got rave feedbacks and for once, I gave myself a 'band 1' pass! Definitely a keeper!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dates Tea Cake

You may notice that during the Ramandan, there's always alot of dates available in the supermarkets. I love these dates as they are usually very sweet, juicy and fresh, unlike those red dates that's sold all year round. Not too sure why, but i think it must be something to do with our muslim friends' diet as they will fast for a month.

I was on leave on Friday to visit some of the childcare centres open-house. By Friday morning, we were already done with the 'selection' and registration. Actually we have sort of made our mind on the childcare centre, since we have did some pre-homework. Time really flies, and my l'il baby is ready to be sent to school. By Jan 2009, he will be in school uniform and attending classes, playing with his peers, etc, and i hope he can really enjoy himself and grow up to be a fine am i thinking too far?

Anyway, i had the Friday afternoon and with the baby taking his nap, i started preparing for the bake. The dates were in the fridge for quite a while and I was thinking of how to bake with them. So when i flipped to one recipe that uses prune, i thought i could replace them with dates. This tea cake is not the cake that you have in the afternoon tea, which happyhomebaker mentioned, it is a real tea cake. However, my tea cake does not have any aroma of tea, possibly i used a rather mild one - chamomile. Anyone can suggest the type of tea to use to make a teacake? When i had the cake, it is still warm and i think it will definitely go very well with a cup of hot coffee or tea in a lazy afternoon. The texture is soft, and you could still taste the sweetness of the dates, and bites of walnuts. Nothing beats freshly baked cakes!

Ingredients/ Method:

3 eggs
80g sugar

100g dried dates (I used 130g)
1/2 tsp baking soda
80ml hot tea

150g plain flour
50g walnut, toasted

30g melted butter

1) Pit and chop dates. Pour in hot tea and baking soda. Soak for 2 hours. ( I soak mine in half an hour.)
2) Beat ingredients (A) for 10-15 mins until thicken.
3) Pour in tea with dates and mix well.
4) Fold in sifted flour into the prune mixture.
5) Pour in melted butter and roasted walnuts. Stir gently.
6) Bake in 7-inch cake tin at 170-180 deg C for 35-40 mins.

Soft Cake with Carrot & Raisin

After my long hiatus, i finally did my baking, but sadly it's a flop! Blamed it on the.... recipe? stupidity? It's a steamed cake, and should be the easiest cake that anyone can make, right? I must be too complacent and not thinking at all. The title is soft cake, but mine turned out as hard and chewy than anything else. After a while, i realised where my mistake is ...... i didn't beat the egg mixture enough at all. I missed the word 'fluffy' that is called for in the recipe... sigh!

I've 'borrowed' this recipe book from my brother, and I've not returned him ever since....kekeke. Bet he doesn't need to use it anymore? This recipe book is all about low-sugar desserts and cakes, so there's no need to cut down on the sugar level, which i used to do for some of the recipes that i use.

I will try this again, since it is really a easy one. It probably takes less than 30 mins to prepare and wash up.

Ingredients/ Method:

2 eggs
80g sugar
1 tsp cake emulsifier
200g superfine flour
1 tsp baking powder
120ml milk
100g carrot, grated
1/3cup raisin

1) Sift flour and baking powder, and set aside.
2) Combine eggs and sugar until fluffy.
3) Add cake emulsifier, flour, baking powder and milk. Beat together for about 5 mins or until the mixture is fluffy.
4) Put in grated carrot and raisin and mix well.
5) Spoon into mini paper cups.
6) Steam over medium heat for 5-7 mins.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Simon's Birthday Cake (cont'd)

I know i'm totally slack and very slow in putting up this continuing post following my earlier one. I thought i had the time and energy to complete this post before i depart for my 2-weeks trip, but too many things just crop up, i was almost drained. I very much wanted to do it immediately i return 1 over week ago, but it didn't happen. Now i'm writing this post, and it's with very strong determination to get myself out of the slumber, and that i've this nagging part of me which constantly remind me of the outstanding post. It is the same fate for my baking endeavours, except that i still have not warm up my oven for a month! Don't get me wrong, i still have deep passion for blogging and baking, but time and energy (the lack of it) forbid me from doing it. Most importantly, i wanted to really spend quality time with my little baby, to make up for the 'lost' time. The 2 weeks away from him is really not a nice feeling.

Back to the earlier post, if you have guessed that it is a sexy lady with voluptuous assets, then it's a bingo! It was for my Uncle Simon, and though he's nothing near lecherous, i was thinking more of a 'fun' cake for him! I like how the decorated cake turn out and feels proud of myself, for churning out something like this. Of course, this kind of standard is only meant for family members, and far far far to be comparing with cakes you buy from the shops or other bloggers.

The cake was using Amanda's Banana cake recipe, which was supposed to be a cupcake, but i baked in my usual cake tin. I used the same miracle cream cheese frosting, which i did for my earlier muffins. I actually planned to add cinnamon in the cake, but totally forgotten until the cake was half-way baked. Anyway, the banana cake tasted good without the cinnamon, but the frosting is a tad too sweet. Perhaps i got the measurement for icing sugar in the frosting wrong, but there's no way to tell unless i try making cream cheese frosting again. I reckon this would be a rather long wait....., but hopefully not too long.

Ingredients/ Method:

225g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
150g butter
150g castor sugar
2 eggs, large
50ml milk
3 large bananas, mashed

1) Preheat oven to 175 deg C.
2) Sift flour and set aside.
3) Cream butter until light and creamy, about 5 to 8 minutes.
4) Add sugar and continue to mix till light and flufffy.
5) Beat in eggs, one at a time.
6) Beat in mashed banana and milk.
7) Fold in sifted flour into mixture.
8) Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Will start getting my oven warm again, let's see how this weekend turn out to be!