April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
For all alternative baking, there ought to start from the basics. A quintessential staple on a kitchen counter top, sitting quietly in a wooden bowl and deepening in flavours as time passes daintily. The banana is a versatile fruit that can be easily consumed on the go or forgotten. When that happens, turn it into a delightful treat. Banana bread or loaf should be a breeze to make. Thus it is also easily made dairy/gluten free.
The banana skins should be browned or very soft to touch. When you mash them, they should smell sweet and slightly musky. The mushier the mash, the moister the cake, the tastier it will be. So always buy more bananas than you need, a loaf is always welcome in a home.
for a 9 inch cake tin
1 tsp vanilla extract
two very ripe bananas, mashed
45g Bob’s Mill buckwheat flour
100g Doves Farm gluten free plain white flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
80 ml vegetable oil
50g unsweetened applesauce
50g non-dairy milk
150g Lundberg brown rice syrup
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a 9 inch cake tin.
In a small bowl, add the mash bananas and vanilla extract and set aside.
In another deep mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk and brown rice syrup. Pour the wet mixture into the deep mixing bowl, whisk until there are no lumps. Then fold in the mashed bananas gently until everything comes together.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. If the cake tester/knife comes out wet, set it for another 5-10 minutes. It should be golden brown and the cake tester/knife should be clean. If you like your bread loaf a little denser, take it out of the oven when it is still a little moist. The cake tester/knife will have a some batter stick to it. Let it cool for at least ten minutes before indulging it with a knob of butter or a squeeze of honey and a cup of tea.
September 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
There are many exciting things coming ahead as this year comes closer to an end. I could hardly say it is coming to an end because of the beginnings of many splendid things. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading to the most anticipated wedding of the year. I can hardly contain myself thinking about it and the thought of receiving the first hug from the bride brings butterflies in my stomach. There are also many more writing projects and can only hope it gets better. The local writing & creative community is sprouting like wild alfalfa, and I cannot help but to absorb all that has been offered and gather more inspiration from the talented beings.
It’s only recently that things started to gain sunnier perspectives. Small little efforts of catching the sun rise every morning, balancing the body upside down against all possible gravity (and still fall over) and penning down all the sincere thoughts. While little endeavors are achieved, they are hardly noticed within the self. Because there is much fear of getting too excited or filled with vigor and they soon turn into downpours.
Nevertheless, we can’t sell ourselves short for who we are and those moments that make us, us. A tug in the heart that pushes any hard truth into meaningful experiences. For anything in between is merely unrewarding. Find that small courage and calm voice, turn any negativity into attributes.
I’m starting to draw again. There is more creative and intuitive flow to this settled heart. A quiet walk to the grocery store, inspired me to make a tofu basil artichoke dip for dinner. I’ll update the recipe soon, meanwhile, I’m searching for 25 personal attributes to thankful of. So far, I’d only found 2 but was told there are 999 more. Perhaps one day, I will have the courage to find 1001 but for now, I am taking one step at a time.
If you don’t love yourself, you’ll always be chasing after people who don’t love you either. – Mandy Hale
August 3, 2013 § 2 Comments
is as soulful as having a garden in the kitchen. Any root vegetables would give the same humble earthiness, but this passionate red plant gives plenty of warmth and moisture. I had the kids fooled. They ate the entire cake before even realizing there was some added zinc goodness. There is no “once bitten twice shy” value in this, just go for it!
Prior to this, I had made some chocolate beetroot muffin. This cake is a little more decadent and luxurious. I am testing out a vegan version so more soon!
Adapted from Nigel Slater, with some adjustments.
225g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
180ml sunflower oil
225g light muscovado sugar,
150g raw beetroot
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolates
Set the oven at 170C. Lightly butter a 9″ rectangular loaf.
Grate the beetroot coarsely, set aside.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Beat the oil and half of the sugar in a food mixer until well creamed then introduce the beaten egg yolks one by one, reserving the whites for later.
Fold yolks and flour together, then gently fold in the beets.
Beat the egg whites till light and almost stiff. Fold gently everything together but thoroughly into the mixture (He suggested using a large metal spoon, a wooden one will knock the air out). Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. Once it is done, allow it to cool for 20 minutes before indulging.
It’s been a trying week. The exhaustion from many personal events collided into one and I find myself detaching again. I’m catching up with the workload at the cafe as well as rest. It’s already August. Last year this time, I found Henry. Sure is a ride, but I shall save that post for another time.
there is no real secret to an amazing meal, just simple & fresh ingredients.
there is no real secret to an amazing life, just simple things & good company.
why all the fancy schmancy?
May 22, 2013 § 6 Comments
She loves antiques. She loves junk. She loves anything she does not need but gets them nevertheless. She loves the idea of a hand me down, a good thrift store, a good bargain, a good steal and even more so, a fantastic car boot sale.
We would be forced to wake up at dawn, whist the moon barely set and dreams are just beginning to climax. Lifted from an innate zeal, she will get dressed eagerly and be at the door without haste. Layered in three/four winter clothing, she manages to look divine under the dim bedroom light. As we drive down the country side with beaming car lights shining along the hedges leading the way, I wonder if my stomach had completely digested the buttery apple pie from last night.
The cars lined up in a row and their things are laid unkempt with much order. It’s as disheveled as a lovely afternoon tea with the Royalties. You can get anything least likely to imagine. A box of jewelry from a recently deceased old lady, century old stamps, to a barely used camera. It’s a shopaholic haven. For mum, it is her nirvana.
I have fears of her stepping onto the wet field. Her heavy purse will be emptied and her grocery bags filled with unnecessaries.
For her birthday this year, I got her three brass bowls from an antique store. For what need, I do not know. The stubborn elderly man who runs the shop, could not have a better pair of eyes for collectable items. If anything, it would be his cranky personality that helps his memory. I ponder for a moment whether my mum should open her own antique store. The house is one itself.
Her all time favourite dessert is a simple apple pie. This year, I had decided to make a gluten free version as she has gotten slightly unfriendly with wheat.
Thank you for being the best mother and friend. Happy birthday mum!
300g Bob’s Mill all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 tsp salt
130g vegetable oil
20g non-dairy milk
1/2 cup ice water, perhaps less depending on the weather
apple pie filling
3 green apples, sliced thinly
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
130g Bob’s Mill all purpose gluten free flour
30g sorghum flour
30g walnuts, chopped
15g brown sugar
30g vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 200C, coat 8 inch pie tin with a light layer of oil.
2. Slice apples and combine brown sugar until well mixed, set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, mix pie dough ingredients except for ice water. With your hands kneed the dough until it comes together, add the ice water slowly until it forms a ball. If the weather is humid, add a little more ice in the water. Set the dough aside.
4. For the crumble, add all the ingredients together with a fork or get messy with your fingers. I like the later better.
5. Place the pie dough on the pie tin and spread it with your fingers, make sure to get an even layer on the sides. Lay apples evenly and sprinkle the crumble on the top.
6. Bake for 20 minutes at 200C and then, 25-30 minutes at 180C.
May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
Finally a recipe post! This should be a regular go-to recipe as it is so simple to make. I have been approached by a few vegan/gluten-free home bakers on what to use for substitutions. While I have no fix gluten-free flour mix nor foolproof methods, I had managed to bring this lovely chocolate delight to the table just in time for tea.
Baking with gluten free flour is not as challenging as you think it is. I have failed and succeed; threw and sold many gluten free vegan cupcakes/brownies/cookies/shortbread. One thing, I have learnt is to never stop baking/cooking until you find the right fit. It is a journey for you to discover your own tastebuds and explore the wonders of different ingredients.
1 cup 70-80% dark chocolate, melted
1/2 cup fruit puree (apple, papaya, pear or any fruit you enjoy)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
50g rice flour
50g sorghum flour
30g tapioca flour
30g brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp guar gum/xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 vanilla pod
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and lined an 8-inch baking pan with a layer of oil.
2. Melt dark chocolate over the bain-marie or one minute medium heat in the microwave. Do not worry if the chocolate bits are not completely melted. Some bites are always welcomed. Puree fruit in the processor and set aside.
3. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Once chocolate is melted, add in fruit puree, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until very well incorporated.
4. Pour it into the pan and even the top with a spatula. Bake it for 25-30 minutes. It will come out soft and very moist. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before indulging.
And more to say, this is not available at the bakery/cafe I work in, but I am more than happy to share it with anyone.
*After leaving it for a day or two, it tends to get very dense. So best consume within the day of.
April 16, 2013 § 3 Comments
I had always consider rolled oats as such a versatile ingredient. A dry mix of oats, dried fruits and nuts along with some milk for a simple breakfast on the go. On a quiet afternoon, when everyone is away at work or school, I find myself stirring the same mix with maple syrup/honey. Preheating the oven, reaching into the depths of our kitchen cabinet for the classic Mason Cash deep mixing bowl, and rustic wooden spoon. I quite enjoy getting my fingers messy despite having a clean spoon. It’s much advised for the weak-willed adults who cannot seem to pass the rich sweetness of luscious natural sap or nectar.
Just to warn you, this recipe is not for a law-abiding baker. It is for those who cannot seem to understand why that packet of toasted almonds or sunflower seeds has been sitting in the dry pantry for months. It is for those who want to clear out the fridge but are too afraid to make anything because they have insufficient ingredients but do not want to buy anymore.
I like my granola loose, un-clusterred, definitely crunchy and slightly caramelized. Chopped tree nuts such as almonds and cashews are more then welcomed. Seeds add some rawness to the mix and are comparatively lower in fat. I particularly like adding fresh fruits before indulging into the mix but do add some chopped apricots/cranberries for a crunchier texture.
500g of rolled oats
30g of raw brown sugar
170g of dried nuts/fruits
a pinch of salt
100g of honey/maple syrup
oil for the pan
optional, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 160C and oil the baking sheet or cast iron pan. Mix rolled oats, honey or maple sryup or both & raw sugar/salt. Chopped up the nuts and fruits separately. Add in dried nuts and continue mixing until well incorporated. Please use your hands.
Spread the mix evenly on the baking sheet/pan and bake it for 10 minutes. Stir and scrap down the sides, bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Scatter the dried fruits once it is done and let it cool. The baking time should be around 20-25 minutes. Once it is cool, store in it a jar far away from weevils or nibblers.
favourite dried fruit + nuts combinations:
almonds + banana chips
walnuts + cranberries + dash of ground cinnamon
pistachio + apricots
sunflower seeds + sultanas + dash of allspice
November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Did November just pass without a trace? It’s hard to miss with all the beards and mustaches around. Along with Movember, I try my best to take it all in at once since the cafe has been very busy. Sporadical quiet moments, were either to catch a deep breath outside or read a short article.
At home, I have been rather blasé with stepping into the kitchen. At the very least, I will make pancakes on my days off. But, yesterday, for the very first time in 6 months, I turned the oven on.
My heart grows with excitement as the oven heat rises. Slicing two crimson beetroots into quarters, lightly rubbing some sea salt with my pink hands, laying them out on a cast iron pan, drizzling olive oil and cracking black pepper. The whole gesture made me fell in love with baking again.
I forgot how salt can be magically transform bitterness to sweetness. I forgot the sound of the ticking oven timer. I forgot how hot the kitchen can get. I forgot the loveliness of seeing the sides of a vegetable go from glaring smooth to golden brown crisp.
All of these were irreplaceable, despite baking everyday at work. I held on to the time as it stood still, with me staring into the oven glass watching them baked and day dreaming of light-hearted banters with customers. When it was time to indulge, I joyfully put some garnish on and tossed a few more fresh greens with roasted beets. Relishing the moments of getting my fingers dirty, appreciating wholesome vegetable and sharing it with the family.
beets, halved or quartered
salt, a pinch or two
black pepper, cracked
a whole garlic, broken into pieces
Preheat oven at 220C. Season the beets. Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, take them out, shake it, pop it back in for another 10-15. Yes it is that simple.