Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Day/Blackberry Bakewell Cupcakes

Happy Birthday to myself! Another year gone and another one waiting for me to make sense and meaning out of it! For the first half of last year, I didn't accomplish much but for the second half, I did pretty well. Up to today I am fitter than my early 30s with almost 20lbs lighter than beginning of 2010 and planning to go down another 10lbs by the end of this year.

What does birthday mean to me these days? It is definitely not a private and personal moment now as my kids are more excited to blow my candles and wake me up early in the morning to see them tearing up my present paper! But this year's birthday definitely meant something to me as I gave myself the best present ever by shedding my large size to almost small now! Metaphorically speaking, it is reversing my once tired and overweight body to a young and rejuvenated self! So, to celebrate, I opted for cupcakes instead of a large cake this year to spread my love around and hopefully keep me at bay with my calories and new mind and fitter body! But since it is my day, I will have more than 1 cupcake, a good filling dinner and a Boston Cream Donut that I have been yearning since I started my weight lost and which had been banned from me by my little cheeky son who said "Mom, you are running on treadmill and you cannot have Donut or share with me!" Oh ya, I am getting One all to myself today!

These cupcakes are lovely and very easy to make. And I took this opportunity to make my first Swiss Meringue Buttercream and true enough, it tasted very good, light airy smooth! I tried to hold back on the sugar amount but had to add in powdered sugar in the end to stabilize the frosting. It piped smoothly and didn't taste grainy as with the usual buttercream made out of powdered sugar and butter only. The egg whites really lightened the texture of the butter and this recipe is easier than the Italian Meringue Buttercream which requires more attention in terms of cooking the sugar.

As I am a summer baby, I used the summer fruits of red, black and blue berries for filling and decoration. The alphabet candles are so cute that I just had to have them and remind myself that I am still young at heart regardless whatever number I have to write down now for the AGE line in forms and registrations! And I love the cupcake liners from IKEA, of which were a bit different in size compared to the usual cupcakes but not too tiny as to deprive me of a good bite on my Big day! All in all, I would love to look and feel like a cupcake from today onwards, sweet and independent and confident enough to strut in lovely dresses! Again, happy birthday to me and a Big thank you to all my friends, cousins, relatives, neighbors and my family for their warm wishes and I hope to have another fruitful and good year before my next birthday cake!


140g Cake Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
125g Almond meal
100g sugar
140g butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
125g fresh blackberries (or frozen and thawed) 

1)Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line muffin tin with 10 to 12 cupcake liners.
2)Mix the cake flour, baking powder, almond meal and sugar in the food processor. Pulse to combine.
3)Drop in the butter pieces and pulse to mix roughly. Tip in the eggs, one at a time and pulse to combine. Mixture will clump but looks dry.
4)Add in the milk and pulse to mix again. The batter will be dense and look like cooked oatmeal consistency.
5)Use a spoon to fill the filling into the cupcake liners, to 1/3 full. Drop in some of the berries into each liner and top it up with the filling to 2/3 full.
6)Bake for 25 mins and insert toothpick to test for doneness.
7)Remove from muffin tins and cool completely before icing.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Egg whites from 3 large eggs (1/2 cup)
150g cup sugar
3 tbsp Powdered sugar
170g Softened Butter (Not melted)
A pinch of salt

Method :
1)Boil some water in a small saucepan.
2)Put the egg white, salt and sugar into a large bowl and sit it over and on top of the saucepan and lower the heat to simmering water.
3)Whisk the egg white and sugar for 5 mins till the sugar is completely dissolved. Using a wet brush, brush down the sides of the bowl for any sugar crystals. Test the mixture with your fingers, if it is not grainy anymore, the mixture is ready.
4)Move the mixture to a mixer bowl or use a hand mixer. Start whipping till the mixture has returned to room temperature and the bowl itself is not hot anymore. Whip till soft peaks form. This takes about 5 mins on high speed.
5)Pieces by piece, whip in the butter. The mixture will suddenly curdle and looks watery but it is ok, keep whipping till the buttercream consistency is achieved, this takes about 5 to 8 mins on high speed. Add in the powdered sugar at the last 3 mins of whipping.
6)Spoon into a piping bag with a star tip and decorate the cupcakes.

Makes : 10 to 12 medium size cupcakes

Sunday, June 20, 2010

White Chocolate & Summer Berries Cheesecake

Happy Father's Day! To Curry and all dads, enjoy your day and love your kids even more.

Soccer World Cup fever is on high pitch and Curry is drifted away with the games. Thank goodness it is only a one month thing every 4 years. This year I am also sucked into watching as the underdogs are really performing well and every game scores or draws surprising results. So for this year's Father's Day, I will just leave Curry alone and watch all his 'football' all day long while the kids and I just go about doing everything else to spend the weekend.

For today's celebration, I chose cheesecake! There is just something about cheesecake that tempts and pleases the palate like no other, slightly tangy with the grated lemon zest, sweetened with added sugar, smooth texture that swirls in the mouth and added flavors from chocolate to fresh fruits that just complements the creamy cheesy taste! And for summer, it is the best dessert cake to serve, cut in wedges and served with fresh summer berries with iced tea. How perfect is that!

This recipe used the white chocolate and heavy cream to set and no gelatin required. But in Asia, the use of gelatin is required as the cake can melt very fast because of its high dairy cream content. I made a pate sucre (sugar dough) for the base and baked it before piling up the cream cheese filling. To cut my guilt feeling of piling on the calories, I used Neufchatel cream cheese, which is lesser in fat than cream cheese. There is not much sugar in this recipe as the white chocolate itself is sweet enough. Dark chocolate can be substituted with more added sugar but I tend to think dark chocolate cheesecake is more appropriate as an after dinner dessert. This cake was made in 3 stages, firstly the base was baked, secondly the cheese and chocolate filling was made and piled onto the baked base and let set in the refrigerator for 2 hours and lastly the berries were arranged on the cheese filling itself. It may sound alot but this cheesecake is really easier to make compared to those that need water bath baking or with fruit added into the filling. I used blueberries,strawberries and raspberries as the fruits of choice with a touch of green from the mint leaves which showcased the glorious colors of the summer.


Pate Sucre Base:
150g All Purpose flour
25g sugar
50g cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Cream Cheese Filling:
250g Neufchatel Cheese (or regular cream cheese), room temperature
400ml Heavy Cream
300g White Chocolate, broken into pieces
25g sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
Assortment of fresh Summer berries

Pate Sucre Base:
1)Stir the sugar and flour together. Pour into the food processor bowl.
2)Drop in the butter pieces and process for coarse crumbs (about 20 seconds).
3)Add in the egg yolk and process for another 10 seconds till a soft dough is formed.
4)Sprinkle your hands with flour and remove dough and pat into a disk. Cover with cling wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
5)Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Use an 8 inch/20cm springform pan and grease it with butter. Take out the dough and roll it out to 1/2 inch thick. Lift up and line the bottom of the pan. Pat in evenly so that the base is roughly levelled. Bake for 23 to 25 mins when the sides are starting to brown. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling :
1)Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and lemon zest till mixed and creamy.
2)Heat on low heat, a small cooking pot with water and place the white chocolate in a bowl. Place the bowl over the top of the cooking pot while the water is simmering. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the simmering water. Stir the chocolate till melted, about 3 to 5 mins. As soon as it is melted and drip from the spoon, remove from the heat and continue stirring. Let it cool a bit.
3)Beat the heavy cream till soft peaks.
4)Fold the white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and stir to mix.
5)Take 1 scoop of the whipped cream and fold into the white chocolate and cream cheese mixture. The mixture will lighten a bit.
6)Take the whole mixture and pour into the remaining whipped cream and fold but not stir.
7)Pour the mix onto the baked base and level and smooth with a spatula. Cover with foil and let the cake set and rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
8)Arrange the berries and mint leaves on the cheesecake. Put it back into the fridge to set again for 1 hour.
9)Serve cold.

Serves: 8 person

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June Bento Days (3)

I am very hooked on the idea of having picnic with the kids and friends now as the weather has been good and cool so far. When I was a kid, my mom and my Aunt Cat took us to the beachside weekly and they would prepare fried chicken, sandwiches, cold drinks and potato chips for me and my cousins to munch on. Weather in Malaysia back then was not as hot as these days and surely I don't think my kids will enjoy picnic there in the heat reaching almost 40C everyday! When we were vacationing back there in December last year, we hit the beachside at 8am in the morning and packed up at 10am! Laughable but true...better keep it short and fun than long and dreadful!

We went strawberry, cherry and raspberry picking today and I packed a compact lunch complete with carbohydrate, protein and vitamin! Little did I realise that I have gone so health conscious now until I took the photo of these bento and realised I am imposing the idea on my kids too! Not a single piece of meat but the chocolate candy was my idea of using up left over Hershey kisses in my pantry rather than going about baking chocolate cake!

I love the mini bagels as they are so easy to eat and they come in alot of varieties. I used the whole wheat type and filled them up with egg salad which I made out of boiled egg, mayonaise, Dijon mustard, pepper, salt and cilantro. I got this long rectangular container from IKEA and it was perfect for these bagels, with each neatly tucked in and separated with parchment paper. These 2 Bento boxes content were enough for the 3 of us. With a juice box each, my kids were satisfied and happy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Braised Peanut & Shiitake Mushroom Chicken Feet

I think my family eat alot of chicken feet, and in this blog alone, I have already done 3 recipes using this much known Asian bizarre ingredient! It is definitely an acquired taste and some people couldn't take it for the reason that the feet stayed on the ground and everything else is left to the imagination. According to my Chinese belief, chicken feet is believed to strengthen bones because of its gelatinous content which is high in collagen and in Hong Kong and Malaysia, when someone breaks a leg or bone, their loving moms or wives  will make a soup out of this ingredient with peanuts.

I prefer this braised dish to the soup version as the flavor from the combination of soy sauce with spices and shittake mushrooms together with the addition of garlic, ginger and shallot is more robust and other than a messy and sticky lips while gnawing on this dish, one or 2 feet will not stop you from reaching for the next foot! Gnawing through the cartilage is part of the fun. My almost 6 year old daughter is starting to enjoy this dish and I am glad that her palate is open to anything.

If chicken feet is not available, chicken wings can be cooked the same way but the cooking time is to be reduced by half as the wings will break apart easily if overcooked. And the peanut will need to be soaked to soften it before cooking. As for this dish, I always stop the stove cooking when I see the skin and flesh at the leg joint part starts curling and peeling from the inside bones. At that stage, the chicken feet still retains a crunch but soft to eat and gnaw.

Recipe :

Ingredients :
550g Chicken feet, claws snipped and boiled in water for 5 mins and drained
125g Raw peanuts, outer layer of brown seed coat removed
4 Dried Shiitake Mushroom, soaked and sliced
2 shallots, sliced thinly
5 pips garlic, minced
1 knob ginger, sliced (amount same as garlic)
2 star anise
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
4 tsp Sesame oil
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp White pepper
1/2 cup Dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup water

Method :
1) Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a large cooking pot.
2)Add in the shallot, garlic, ginger and star anise. Mix and saute for 1 min. Add in the mushroom and saute for another 2 mins.
3)Add in the chicken feet and peanuts. Stir to mix with the content of the cooking pot.
4)Add in the sesame oil, cooking wine , white pepper and 5 spice powder. Stir to mix and close the pot lid and let the content steam for 5 mins.
5)Pour in the dark soy sauce, soy sauce and water. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir to mix, turn down to medium low heat and let the content cook and simmer for 40 to 45 mins, stirring every 10 mins. The liquid will be reduced and check at the last 10 mins of cooking , if required add another 1/4 cup of water and cook for the remaining time or till the soft texture you want.
6)Serve warm and garnish with cilantro.

Serves : 3 to 4 person

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cherry Meringue Tart

Cherry picking at my local orchard started yesterday and sure I was crazy enough to carry an umbrella under the light rain and picked myself a total of 3lbs worth of nice cherries while my kids and Curry gave up half way and sat in the car waiting for me to finish up. When come to cherries, I just go a bit crazy like that as they have a very short life span on their trees during the rainy season which can spoil them immediately and of course I just love them after feasting on strawberries for a whole month and time to move on to another summer fruit!

Cherries are more expensive at the stores than other summer fruits and they are a bit of a luxury item compared to blueberries and strawberries. When I was growing up, all I knew was the maraschino cherries in the jar and because of their awfully sweetened taste and piercing coloring of red and green, I didn't like them. Other than for the novelty look on an ice cream sundae, I don't think they serve much purpose. Instead, I love fresh cherries and also dried ones in the packages that are plentiful during the end of the year X'mas celebration where they are included in every type of densed fruit cakes you can imagine.

I followed a recipe from the Good Food magazine, of which I dutifully buy every month at the local bookstore. The quality of the magazine just gets better by the year and the recipes just appeal to me as they are quite easy and the photography is all about the food and nothing else! And of course, the advertisment pages are not over the top as with other food magazines here and like my friend, Mary who pointed out to me that it is amazing on how all the advertisements blend in just like the pages of the recipes in the magazine itself. Don't you just hate it when you open a cooking magazine and you see these drug and medicine companies selling high blood pressure and cholesterol pills or fashion clothings that emphasizes that they have sizes 14 and above??? Sigh..... bad advertising!

I chose this recipe as I have never made a fluffy baked meringue before, partly because I always thought I needed a blow torch to create one and the idea of beating egg whites high and mighty and rushing them into the oven before they deflate! I love the idea on how the cherries are firstly cooked first and soaked in its own cooked down juice before completely cooked inside the tart itself. I started baking with almond meal when I had to use it for Macaron and I love to use it now to bake as the batter produced with this meal seems to always yield a better and softer texture in cakes. I figured hazelnut meal will be a lovely ingredient to use too in this recipe as it is definitely more fragrant and richer than almonds.

I think another teaspoon of corn starch is needed for the cherry juice as I found the juice oozing out when I cut into the first slice. And also, I forgotten to reduce or totally leave out the sugar added to the cherries themselves as it was enough sugar added to the almond meal and the meringue already. Other than that, this tart is lovely on a cold rainy day and served with black coffee. The 3 different textures of the crunchy tart, gooey sweet cherries and soft billowy meringue just complemented each other and same as the cherries, this tart is a stunning one to serve on a formal occasion, provided you serve your guests with extra napkins as the cherries really drip out their juice!

Friday, June 11, 2010

June Bento Days (2)

As the whole world now gluing to the Soccer World Cup, I thought I might get into the fun too by making a Bento out of this event. I have never been a soccer fan and despite living in England for 5 years, I still have no idea of the rules, what team or what tournament is in place! But I married a soccer fanatic who still insists to call the sport Football instead of soccer and until this day, he is exactly the same enthusiastic fan of the sport completely Jersey dressed, beer bottles and chips scattered all over during a match. And the ear deafening moment when a goal is scored or missed, he is just as crazy as the live audience at the football field.

I am pretty sure I have a box of number cutters but I couldn't locate them this morning and so I didn't make the year 2010! The soccer rice balls are just darn cute and I still have supply of this pre-cut nori in my pantry and only remembered this morning. How convenient! I haven't learn to decorate my smiley faces with more features yet and just stuck some punched out hands for them. My kids loved them and they are too being geared up by their father to watch the games. Poor kids or rather, poor me! GOAL.....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cheese & Sugar Bun

With grated parmesan and sugar sprinkled on top before baking. Inside content is grated Parmesan but mild and small quantity. The sugar crystallized during baking and gives a crunch to the bun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strawberry & Pistachio Sour Cream Scones

With the abundance of strawberries we picked yesterday and another trip planned to another farm this weekend, I need to make use of the fruit as soon as possible when they are the freshest and juiciest! Every year, I go overboard in picking every type of summer fruits available in the local farms and end up eating them till my family and I say to each other we had enough this year. And yet come winter time, I go crazy again longing for the spring and summer months! That just tells me that I should never complain about too much when I am blessed with a good summer weather, nearby local farms to forage my summer fruits supply and a standby oven to bake with them! 

On a mid week day, I tend to go for something fast to put together and very easy to bake. My kids are always hungry for something to eat at teatime and once a week I bake them something small and special. I thought of scones for a long time, ever since I started picking blueberries years ago but never got around to making them as I was more blinded with fancy mousse cakes then! As if my baking repertoire ages with my mind & soul, these days I am really back to basics in terms of types of cakes, biscuits and bread that I want to make. Simple and quick, with a touch of loveliness is all I am going to bake this year!

For these scones, I baked the strawberries right into the scone batter itself and scattered crushed pistachio on the outside to give the traditional scone a little color and added texture. In a way, these scones are good eaten by itself and need no extra butter or jam with it. The strawberries must still be slightly firm to the touch and not too ripe as it tends to get too mushy during the baking. I cut them into small pieces and dropped and folded them into the dough at the last step as to prevent the mixing from squishing the strawberries. I always think pistachio has the loveliest green color and on these scones, it added a color of summer to it. If I ever to choose to paint something green, I will definitely go for pistachio green paint!

Recipe :
300g All purpose Flour
1 tbsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
75g fresh strawberries, cut to small pieces
25g shelled pisctachio, grounded to coarse texture
75g cold butter, cut to cubes
225ml low fat sour cream
Some milk

Method :
1)Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Arrange the racks from the lowest bottom and sprinkle flour on 2 large baking pans.
2)Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together. Place this mixture into the food processor and drop in the butter pieces. Process the content till the mixture comes together in loose crumbs (about 1 minute).
3)Heat the sour cream gently, just to make it runny. Remove from the stove, spoon in some of the flour butter mixture into the sour cream and stir to mix. Take this mixture and pour into the remaining flour butter mixture and using the spatula to mix in till a clumpy mess. Drop in the strawberry pieces and gently fold to mix. Do not overblend.
4)Sprinkle some flour on the working surface and flour your hands. Scoop out half of the dough. Pat it down slightly on the working surface and gather the sides so the thickness is even throughout the dough (about 1 inch). Using a 4cm (about 2 inch) size biscuit cutter, cut out rounds and transfer to the baking pans, leaving a space of 2 inches between each. Use a cookie scraper to lift the cut out rounds if it is a bit sticky to move with your hands. Continue with the remaining batch of dough.
5)Brush the rounds with milk and sprinkle the crushed pistachio on top.
6)Bake for 15 to 17 mins.  Remove from the pans and cool on cooling racks or serve warm with strawberry jam and good butter.

Makes : 20 scones

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June Bento Days (1)

Now that Prince D is off school, I can plan my day to make Bento for the whole family in the morning after I sent Miss E to school. When I don't feel the rush to prepare one early in the morning, even the Bento looks nicer and more neat. As we were setting out to the strawberry fields today, I made a usual rice Bento for Curry and dropped it at his office on the way and another group Bento for my kids and I to enjoy at the picnic by the field.

For the past 2 weeks, the weather has been a bit unsettled. During my 9 years residing here at the East Coast of USA, I have never heard a tornado or hurricane touch down but we have been hearing about it alot, lately in our neighboring state of Massachusetts. Despite all the hot sun and rain that we had for the past month, I thought the strawberry fields open a bit late this year compared to the last few years when I was already able to pick the first batch around Memorial Day Weekend by the end of May. Just hoping the weather will be fine throughout the summer as I still have cherries, blueberries and peaches that I wanna go pick!

For Curry's Bento, nothing fancy and I just pulled out everything I had in the fridge. The pork tenderloin meat had been marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking wine and pepper together with corn starch the night before and all I had to do was stir fried it with shallot and green onion. Adding cornstarch to the marinate liquid kind of tenderized the meat and after cooking, it tastes succulent and easy to chew.  On the side is cabbage Kimchi, boiled egg and steamed broccoli. I got a box of frozen sugar snap peas and blanched some in hot water for 2 mins and popped them open of which the peas lay neatly in their places.

For the picnic Bento, I made some tortilla wraps with homemade chicken salad. I used 3 chicken drumsticks by first steaming them and shredded their meat and mixed with shredded carrot, almond pieces and raisins together with a mixture of mayonaise, Dijon mustard, pepper and salt. The shredded carrot added a great crunch to the chicken filling and definitely a great way to serve besides the usual baby carrot with ranch dressing. Corn is in season around this time and they are very sweet and fit nicely with the wraps. Complete with cherries and grapes, my kids and I had a quick and nutritious lunch Al Fresco style!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sticky Rice

Seems that I haven't made anything nice for dinner for a long time! I admit that I am more caught up on baking cakes and breads rather than trying out new dishes with my pots and pans. Only when I get fed up with cooking the same dishes night after night and day after days I get my recipe books out and look through them.

There is always one ingredient that every Asian and Chinese household must have in their kitchen, rice! And trust me, as of now, I think I have 5 types of rice in my house and since I have stopped eating rice at dinnertime to control my intake of carbs, there is a surplus of every kind! Besides the jasmine and sushi rice, I think I use this glutinous rice the least and thought about this dish today which is very easy to cook for a lazy summer day.

Glutinous rice contains more starch than usual rice and when it is cooked with the right amount of water, they become sticky and clumps up together. This is Miss E's favorite rice dish and yet she will never take rice congee. Chicken can be substituted for the pork and I used 3 cups of water to cook the rice for a more softer and mushy texture but if anyone fancies a more firmer bite of the rice, the amount of water can be reduced to 2-1/2 cups instead. I cooked the fillings and the rice in a pot first before transferring it to the rice cooker with the water content to completely cook it. You can surely cook this in the same pot over the stove with the lid half open as rice is the same with pasta, they will boil over in a closed lid pot. Just cook till the liquid has been absorbed wholly and you might get a slightly burnt crust on the bottom of the pot which adds to the flavor of the dish. This is quite similar to the Dim Sum dish of glutinous rice in Bamboo leaves in taste.


Ingredients :
2 cups Glutinous Rice (Short Grain Sweet Rice), soaked for at least 3 hours and drained
3 chinese preserved Sausages (sliced and cut to small rounds)
1/2 red onion or 3 small shallots
1 slice of ginger, sliced thinly
200g pork sirloin, sliced thinly
4 dried shittake mushrooms, re-hydrated & sliced thinly
1/4 cup dried shrimp
1/4 cup Dark soy sauce
2 tbsp Light Soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese Cooking wine
2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
1 tsp white pepper
3 cups hot and boiled water

Method :

1)Heat a large pot with 1 tbsp cooking oil. Saute the red onion and ginger for 1 minute.
2)Add in the mushroom, dried shrimp and sausages, stir to mix and cook for 5 mins. Add in the pork slices and close the lid and let it cook further for 5 mins.
3)Pour in the cooking wine and stir to mix.
4)Add in the rice and stir to mix with the other ingredients in the pot. Cover lid and let sit and cook for 5 mins.
5)Pour in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, 5 spice powder and white pepper. Stir thoroughly to mix. If using stove top to cook rice, pour in the hot water now and turn down the heat to low, leave the lid half closed on the pot and simmer till water is fully absorbed.
6)If using rice cooker, transfer the content of the pot to the rice cooker and fill in with the hot water. Fluff up the cooked rice before serving.

Serves: 4 to 5 person

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sausage Buns

I love the store bought Oat Nut bread too much that I have forsaken my bread flour and yeast for 2 months. But after a while, I longed for the freshly baked taste and just out of the oven smell from homemade bread and now I am back baking breads and buns again.

Still with my old recipe from the Taro Bun, I made these sausage buns which is a favorite of kids and adult alike. The sugar added to the bun contrasts with the saltiness of the sausage and this is a very popular bun back in Malaysia.

For this bun recipe, I made a total of 12 buns, which are quite big in size compared with the store bought ones. You can use any type of meat sausages as long as it is precooked as you can only bake these buns for 15 mins in the oven with the sausage intact or else the buns will be burnt. I boiled the sausages for 5 mins and patted them dry before I started rolling  them with the bread dough. To make the swirl shape of the buns, I took the bread dough and divided it into 12 equal sized balls and took one piece and roll it out like a log just like working a rolling pin. And I took each rolled out dough and twirled it from one end of the sausage to the other end to encase it. The buns were then left to rest for another 30 mins and they expanded a bit. Egg wash must be applied to attain the beautiful color.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hazelnut Cherry & Peach Cupcakes

Summer is officially here and I am slowing down in the kitchen. Needless to say, the energy is somewhere outside the house and the baking and cooking just have to wait for my mood to pop up when there is nothing better to do!

And so the mood comes today and I wanted to make something nice to perk up the interest again. I actually wanted to make a tart instead of these cupcakes but yield to this idea as they take little time to make and I had plenty of cupcake paper liners lying around from my impulsive buying at the sight of pretty and lovely colors!

These cupcakes are something like the French friand cakes, which is rich with butter and made of nutmeal. Hazelnut is a lovely fragrant nut that adds depth to anything that is baked or cooked with it. These cakes actually tasted like the Ferrero Roche Hazelnut chocolates minus the crisp and chocolate but a soft and moist texture, slightly sweetened by the ripe peaches and cherries pieces. I love to use fruits and nuts together in my baking and hazelnut is on my top of the list for the summer palate as it is light and nutty at the same time while its fragrant sweet smell permeate the cakes, reminding how good summer is, especially when it is only here for a short 3 months. Regardless how hot or humid it can get, summer never fails to bring an abundance of fun for my kids when they are at the pool or donned in shorts all the time while I get to admire the lovely colors of nature and reap the fruits of the hot season!

I made the peach and cherry cupcakes individually and not mixed together. It is a very good thing if you can get a good batter for cakes and can just substitute any fruit fillings to it and with this batter, I just made it up plain first and divided it into half portions and folded in the fruits respectively into each batch. The cherries stand up to baking very well and retained much of their shape and plumpness but the peach inside the cupcakes itself kind of baked away, turning slightly mushy and faded. I used fresh peaches and cherries but canned ones can be used too. Or simply any other fruits can be substituted as the main flavor here is the hazelnut and the fruits just added an extra texture and color to it. I managed to get some toasted and cleaned hazelnuts and that saved me alot of time and I just took some and ground it up in the mini food processor. As nuts contain high quantity of fat, over processing them will turn them into a gooey paste and so as soon as they turn into coarse meal state, they are ready to use.

Recipe :

Ingredients :

125g hazelnut, grounded to coarse meal
50g All purpose flour
50g Cake Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
60g sugar
2 large eggs
125g butter, almost room temperature
1 large peach, sliced and diced
1 dozen cherries, halved & pitted

1)Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line 8 muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2)Beat the butter and sugar together till creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time till combined.
3)Beat in the hazelnut meal till well combined.
4)Sift the all purpose flour together with the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
5)Spoon into the butter mixture and stir to mix. Divide the batter into 2 batches.
6)Mix in the peaches into one batter and mix in the cherries into the other batch. Leave some fruits for garnish.
7)Spoon into the cupcake liners. Decorate with the remaining fruits.
8)Bake for 30 to 32 mins at the bottom rack.
9)Remove and cool on rack.

Makes : 8 cupcakes