Monday, July 28, 2014

Flour's Famous Banana Bread

This is the first recipe I've tried from "Flour" cookbook which I bought months ago, and I was really curious about this Banana Bread, especially when I've read all the rave reviews from online. So naturally this recipe was bookmarked to try. I was actually curious whether will it be better than the one from Nigella's, which is my favourite banana bread at the moment.

As usual, I've reduced the amount of sugar for almost all of my bakes, and for this, from 230gm to 130gm and it was still sweet for me, maybe the bananas are really sweet. I did not have any creme fraiche so I've used homemade yoghurt instead. 

The cake bakes up nice, with an almost flat top and golden crust. Texture is a little dense but soft, moist, full of banana bits and walnuts. It is a cross between a cake and a bread. Comparing this to the Banana Bread by Nigella Lawson, my personal favourite between these two, is definitely Nigella's!  While this cake is nice, Nigella's is awesome! Nigella's banana bread has a softer, more tender and lighter texture, while appeals to me. But then if you like dense, soft and moist cake/bread, than this Flour's Famous Banana Bread is for you. 

Overall, this is a really nice Banana Bread. Great with a cup of warm tea or coffee.

Flour's Famous Banana Bread
(adapted from "Flour", Joanne Chang)
1-1/2 cups (210gm) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 tsp fine sea salt)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (230gm) sugar (I use 130gm, still a little too sweet for me)
2 eggs
1/2 cup (100gm) canola oil
3-1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1-1/3 cups mashed/about 340gm)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream (I use yoghurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (75gm) walnut halves, toasted and chopped

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes).
  4. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don't pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn't deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
  6. Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.
  7. The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pork Ribs with Honey and Anise

"Off The Spice Rack", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). It's all about spices this week. My spice rack are full of spices, and which one shall I use? One or two or a combination of those lovely fragrant spices?  Hmmm...  A couple of months ago, my sister gave me a big packet of star anise. I told her that I would take forever to finish that big packet. She told me, "Take your time!"  :)  So I'm using four lovely fragrant star anise from my big jar to make this recipe from Nigel Slater, Pork Ribs with Honey and Anise.

Really easy dish to put together. As you can see above, the meaty pork ribs are chopped in rather small pieces, because I have forgotten to inform the butcher to chop them in large pieces. I am a regular customer and he knows that I've always preferred the ribs to be chopped to small or medium-sized pieces for my Chinese dishes. I realised that when I paid him, but then it's already too late. On with the dish, regardless of how big (or small) the chopped ribs are!

I made only 1 kg of ribs and it is enough for 4, though the original recipe cooks 1.5kg, meant for 2-3. Marinate the ribs with all the ingredients for at least an hour, I marinated the ribs for about 4 hours in the fridge. Remove from fridge about 20 minutes before baking, and preheat the oven while waiting. I have used a baking pan lined with foil to make cleaning easier as it will be sticky and greasy. Place the ribs on the foil-lined baking pan and bake until the ribs are sticky and have turned to a dark caramel colour. At the recommended baking time by Nigel, at 1 hour 15 minutes, the ribs are still pale and do not look sticky at all. It took an additional 30-35 minutes for that to happen. And I turned the ribs every 20 minutes during the first hour and every 10 minutes after the first hour, until they are done. The aroma of the star anise is so fragrant. We had it with rice, but there isn't any sauce at all, with the sticky bits all dried up and stuck to the foil, but the ribs are sweet, sticky, slightly hot from the chilli flakes and fragrant. Best described by Nigel Slater as "A truly sticky ribs recipe this one, but without the ubiquitous black treacle and tomato puree. Sweet, slightly hot and absurbly sticky, they will fill the kitchen with that warm, aniseed smell you so often encounter in Chinese restaurants."

Pork Ribs with Honey and Anise
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries", Nigel Slater)
6 tablespoons thickish honey
3 heaped tablespoons oyster sauce
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
4 whole star anise
1/4 teaspoon salt flakes
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1.5kg meaty pork ribs

To make the marinade, spoon the honey and oyster sauce into a roasting tin or baking dish. Peel and chop the garlic and add it to the dish with the chilli flakes, star anise and salt. Grind the peppercorns roughly and add the to the marinade.

Toss the ribs in the marinade, then set aside for an hour or so. It won't hurt if they stay there overnight.

Roast the ribs at 180C/Gas 4 for an hour and fifteen minutes, turning them in their sauce from time to time. Keep an eye on them, as sometimes they tend to burn easily. They are ready when the meat is tender, though far from falling off the bone, and the ribs are glossy with sauce.

Serve with rice, spooning over the sauce from the pan.
Enough for 2-3.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), for this week's theme "Off The Spice Rack" with Nigel Slater.
IHCC Spices Collage

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chocolate-Zucchini Bundt Cake : Bake-Along #65

We had a fantastic "Chiffon Marathon" on our last Bake-Along! Thank you everyone, for your overwhelming response. All of you are just so creative, baking the usual chiffon cakes with unique and delicious flavours combinations, some of them are really new to me, and the chiffon cakes made into layer cakes are just so beautifully done! Clearly, you are a group of talented bakers! There are recipes that I have bookmarked to try, one of it, is the ever so popular Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes, and me being the slow-coach to jump into the wagon, will bake it, eventually!

Today's Bake-Along #65 was selected by Lena to bake together with Zoe and everyone is welcome to join us. If you are hesitating whether to bake this cake, hesitate no more, bake it! This cake is really moist, chocolaty and so good.

No one would not know that there are zucchini in the cake, except the baker, of course! And your kids would be happily gobbling down this chocolate cake, without their knowing that there is some veggie in it. This cake is baked in a bundt pan, and my photos taken on day 1, before the cake was sliced, are missing from my camera, oops!! So, these photos were taken on the next day when there are some slices left. 

As usual, I have reduced the granulated sugar to only half for full recipe, and brown sugar to 3/4 cup, loosely packed. I have omitted the sliced almonds as my family are not in favour of nuts in cakes. I have replaced the sour cream with homemade yoghurt. You would need about 1 medium zucchini to get 2 cups of grated zucchini. And one of the ingredients is espresso powder, which adds a lovely fragrant and delicious flavour with the cocoa powder.

A really chocolaty, moist and delicious cake. I'm glad I've reduced the sugar amount, as the sweetness turns out just right. My son brought 5 slices to school to share with his best buddies, and they loved it, came back with an empty container and a request to make this cake again. This is a keeper recipe. Thanks Lena, for a delicious selection!

** note : my changes listed in blue
Chocolate-Zucchini Bundt Cake
(adapted from "Cake Keeper Cakes", Lauren Chattman)
Serves 10 to 12
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder plus more for dusting the pan
1/2 cup sour cream (homemade yoghurt)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (3/4 cup, loosely packed)
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sliced almonds (omitted)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder.
  2. Whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a large glass measuring cup. Whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the sour cream mixture. Repeat, alternating flour and sour cream mixtures and ending with the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.Stir in the zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.
  6. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

To view this lovely cake that everyone has made, please visit Lena from Frozen Wings and Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, our bake is based on a theme which is Theme : Baked Pasta. Bake any pasta recipe and join us! The linky will start on 7th July until 16th August. Everyone is welcome! 


A friendly reminder when linking to our blog hop :
1. Please mention Bake-Along event in your own post linking direct to any of the hosts' post (JoyceLena or Zoe)
2. Please link only new and current post, PLEASE FOLLOW THE BAKE OR THEME provided by us. Unrelated post will be deleted.
3. Feel free to display our Bake-Along badge in your post.

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To join our blog hop, click on the link to get the codes:
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Celery Bread

Alex Goh has never fail to amaze me with his lovely breads, and he has done it again with this Celery Bread. If you have some celery in your refrigerator, forget about your stir-fry, just this once, make this bread instead. Or buy some celery and make this bread! You would be glad you did!

Full recipe makes 2 lovely loaves of Celery Bread.

This recipe uses the gelatinized starter, where the starter is mixed and left to refrigerate for at least 12 hours before it is mixed into the rest of the ingredients for the dough.

Some celery is blended with a little water to form a thin puree. According to the recipe, he says to add in the celery juice, which I'm not sure whether he meant only the juice, in this case, the puree needs to be strained to get the juice. Or he meant the whole blended puree, which is rather watery. Alex Goh's recipes are good, but his instructions are sometimes very vague, with no further explanations. So I have used the whole blended puree, why waste the good nutritious celery pulps? I've added it to the ingredients and proceed with the making of the bread.

There's chopped celery and chopped ham too. 

Both are kneaded into the dough before the first rise.

The risen dough.

Divide the dough into two, flatten them out to the length of the pans, roll them up tightly and place in the prepared greased baking loaf pans. Cover with greased cling wrap and left to rise until nearly doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Lovely  bread, could not wait to slice it! 

The texture of the bread is just wonderful. It is soft, moist, and very tasty! It has the light fragrance and crunch from the chopped celery and the ham, of course it makes anything tastes delicious!

Look at how soft the slices are! We finished the two loaves by the third day, and they are just as soft. Do not keep this bread for long at room temperature since it has chopped ham. 

Makes a very good sandwich bread. Yum! A definite keeper recipe! 

**notes : I have made some changes to the shaping of the dough (refer to my instructions below). Alex Goh has divided the dough into 8 small pieces and placed 4 pieces of rolled-up dough in each loaf pan. For convenience, I have however divided the dough into two, simply rolled them up and place each one in each loaf pan.
Celery Bread
(adapted from "Magic Bread", Alex Goh)
(A) : For the gelatinized dough
100gm bread flour
70gm boiling water

325gm bread flour
75gm plain flour
15gm milk powder
50gm sugar
8gm salt
8gm instant yeast

130gm celery + 60gm water ) blend till fine
90gm cold water
30gm cold egg

40gm butter

50gm diced celery
50gm diced ham

  1. Blend the celery with 60gm of water until pureed. (It will be a thin puree).
  2. To prepare the gelatinized dough (A) : pour the boiling water onto the flour, mix until well-blended to form dough. Cover and set aside to cool. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  3. Mix all the ingredients from (B) until well blended. Add ingredients (C) ; cold water, egg and blended celery. Knead to form rough dough. 
  4. Add in butter (D) and knead to form elastic dough. Lastly, add in the diced celery and diced ham (E), knead gently until the ingredients are evenly incorporated into the dough.
  5. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, turn dough so that the oiled side is facing up. Cover loosely with greased cling wrap, and let it proof for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. 
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently deflate dough. Divide the dough into 2 equal-sized pieces and mould each piece into a round. Cover with greased cling wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Working with one piece of round dough at a time, flatten and spread out the dough with your hands, roughly to the length of the baking pan, roll it up tightly like a swiss roll. Press the seams to seal, neaten the two sides by tucking a little of the two sides under the dough, and press the seams to seal. 
  8. Place dough in greased baking pan, cover loosely with greased cling wrap and leave to proof for 50 minutes or until dough is nearly doubled in size. 
  9. Preheat the oven at 190C, about 20 minutes before the baking time. Bake the loaves until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  10. Remove loaves from pan and cool completely on cooling rack.


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Friday, July 18, 2014

Delicious Chicken Bits

It's "July Potluck" at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), and I'm cooking with Madhur Jaffrey for this week's dish, Delicious Chicken Bits.

A very easy dish to make, simply marinade cubed pieces of chicken breast with ground black pepper, ground turmeric, chilli powder, ground cumin, dried thyme, garlic powder, red paprika, salt and a tablespoon of oil, for at least 10 minutes or longer. I left mine for 2 hours, keep covered in the fridge. Madhur Jaffrey's instructions are to fry the chicken pieces in a little oil until lightly browned and finish the cooking in the oven for another 8-10 minutes. My guess is, this method is to keep the chicken breasts moist, without drying them from over-frying. I was lazy to do that, and I fry the chicken pieces over low heat until they are cooked through, turning them a couple of times so that they do not dry out. I used two whole chicken breasts, did not weigh them but have used double the amount of spices listed in the recipe, may adjust to your taste. 

The chicken is really moist, soft and tasty. We had it with rice. And it is good when served warm or cold. 
Even a couple of hours later (there were some leftovers, two whole chicken breasts make quite a lot), the chicken is still tender and moist. According to Madhur Jaffrey, these chicken bits may be pierced with toothpicks and nibbled upon with drinks, added to salads or eaten at picnics. And from the photo in the book, it is "nibbled upon" with a glass of beer! Nice!

Delicious Chicken Bits
(adapted from "100 Essential Curries", Madhur Jaffrey)
Serves 6-8
550gm (1-1/4 lb) boned, skinned chicken breasts (4 breast pieces)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon bright red paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil

Step One
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Cut each chicken breast piece into thirds, lengthways, and then crossways into a 2 to 2-1/2cm (3/4-1in) segments. Put in a bowl. Add the black pepper, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin powder, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes or longer.

Step Two
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large, non-stick frying pan over very high heat. When very hot, put in the chicken. Stir and fry quickly until the chicken pieces are lightly browned or turn opaque on the outside. Put in a baking dish, cover loosely with lightly oiled greaseproof paper which should sit inside the dish and directly on the chicken pieces, and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are just cooked through. If not eating immediately, remove the chicken pieces from the hot baking dish to prevent them from drying out.

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's "July Potluck"



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