Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THB : French Galette with Cranberry-Almond Topping

The Home Bakers (THB) bake no. 40, French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping is selected by Lena of Frozen Wings. I have however used cranberries instead of cherries, thus the name, French Galette with Cranberry-Almond Topping.

This is pretty easy to make. The original recipe calls for this bread to be baked in a 14" pizza pan, but I have used a rectangle pan, size 12"x9". I mixed the dough in the stand mixer, and it is pretty soft and slightly sticky, but the stickiness is greatly reduced after the first proofing. The dough is then placed in the greased baking pan, instead of using the rolling pin to roll it out, I used my hands to stretch out the dough to cover the pan. It may pull back, just let it relax for a couple of minutes before stretching it again to completely cover the pan. Brush the top of the dough with some softened butter, and sprinkle some sugar over. As you can see from the photos above, I have scattered one half of it with almonds and dried cranberries, while the other half with only dried cranberries, as not everyone likes nuts in my house. Cover the pan, leave it to rise for about 20-30 minutes until slightly puffy.

It was recommended in the recipe, to preheat the oven at 500F (about 250C-260C) and bake for 7 minutes, but I have preheated my oven at 220C, and baked the bread for 11 minutes until golden brown and bread is done.

 Freshly baked. One half with almonds, the other without.

 Slice and serve warm, with a cup of tea of coffee. I had mine with a cup of hot black coffee. So satisfying! This bread is so good, one of the best bakes that I've baked from this book.

 The bread is so fluffy soft. Press it down...

and it bounces back up again. I like the topping so much, with the sprinkling of sugar, each bite of this lovely bread has that sweetness from the sugar, the slight sourish taste of the cranberries, the nutty crunch of the almonds, together with the fluffy soft bread, makes one really yummy sweet bread. I made this bread yesterday, and this morning when I had a few slices for breakfast, it was still soft. A keeper recipe, which I would make again when I'm craving for some sweet bread for tea time treat!

My notes:
- use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour
- use only 1/8 teaspoon of salt as I've used salted butter
- use 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
- use 2 tablespoons sugar for the topping instead of 3 tablespoons
- baked at 220C for 11 minutes

For the full recipe and instructions, please visit the host of this bake, Lena of Frozen WingsTo view other members' bake, please visit The Home Bakers (THB).

Welcome to The Home Bakers

We are a group of home bakers who are currently baking from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas. This is our bake no. 40 and we have 20 recipes more to go. If you are interested to be a member and join in our bakes, you may drop me an email at


and I'm sharing this post with :
Little Thumbs Up event organized by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives & Capers

A simple pasta lunch. Very tasty and delicious. I bought a small jar of anchovies in oil a few months ago. Wanted to use that in a pizza but ended up in this spaghetti dish instead. 

I love anchovies in oil, but do not buy it often, as it is pretty expensive. I like it's taste and the flavours it gives to a dish. I've read from the internet about the labour intensive process involve in the making of Anchovies In Olive Oil, that's the reason why they are expensive. Yup, there's a lot of labour involved, mostly done by hand. 

Very simple and easy pasta dish, the ingredients are cooked, refer to the recipe below,  and then the cooked drained spaghetti are tossed in, season with salt and lots of black pepper, and a light drizzling of olive oil.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives & Capers
(adapted from "Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food", Gordon Ramsay)
300gm dried linguine or spaghetti
sea salt and black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
6-8 anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
200g pitted black olives, quartered or chopped
3 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
250gm cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of basil leaves, shredded

Add the pasta to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic, onion, chilli and anchovies for 1-2 minutes. Add the olives, capers and tomatoes, and stir over a high heat for a few more minutes until the onions are soft.
Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and shredded basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning (salt probably won't be needed because the anchovies, capers and olives are quite salty).
Divide among warm bowls and drizzle over a little more olive oil, if you wish, before serving.


I'm linking this post to Cook Like A Star (Gordon Ramsay) hosted by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsYen of Eat Your Heart Out and Mich of Piece of Cake.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Plum Tartlets : Bake Along #67

It's Bake-Along week! And for this week's bake no. 67, I have selected Plum Tartlets, to bake together with my baking buddies, Lena and Zoe, and anyone who would like to join in the fun. 

What drawn me to this recipe is, firstly, the plums, as I love plums. Secondly, the author of the book describes this tartlet as "The cakiest tart you'll ever eat", so I was really curious about the texture of the "tart".

Plum Tartlet

Before baking

As usual, I've reduced the sugar, by half for this recipe, and it was just right. Did not have any lemons, so I've used orange zest instead. And have replaced the turbinado sugar with demerara sugar.
These tartlets are baked in ramekin moulds. The batter is rather thick, not quite a dough, but really thick. Divide the batter into six ramekin moulds, and arrange the sliced plums over the top, pressing gently into the batter. It would be a good idea to use small plums. I used medium to large plums, and got to trim the plum slices to fit into the ramekin. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the tartlets are puffy and golden brown.

After baking

It looks puffy and really nice, could not wait to try it!

Dust with some confectioners' sugar over the top before serving. Would love to eat it with ice cream, but did not have any! 

The crumbs are really moist, buttery and a little crumbly, similar to a shortbread! I can't help thinking I'm eating a cake version of shortbread, instead of "the cakiest tart you'll ever eat"! It is really nice, and since I am a fan of shortbread, I've enjoyed this tartlet.

Plum Tartlets
(adapted from "Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook", Cheryl and Griffith Day)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminium-free
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (omitted as butter is salted)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (orange zest)
6 plums, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (demerara sugar)
confectioners' sugar for dusting
ice cream for serving (optional)

Special equipment :
Six 4-inch ramekins

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter the ramekins and place them on a baking sheet.
In a medium mixing bowl., whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a medium mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to beat until the mixture is light in colour. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in thirds, mixing just until incorporated; be careful not to overmix.
Divide the dough evenly among the ramekins. Fan plum slices in each ramekin, lightly pressing the slices into the dough with your fingers. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tartlets look set and the tops are bubbly and caramelized to a golden brown. These are best served warm, but they can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days. 
Serve the tarts with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar and a scoop of your favourite ice cream, if desired.


Do stop by Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, it will be a theme bake, Theme : Popovers. Bake any recipe of your choice and link your Popovers post with our linky which will start on 15th September till 24th September. 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.


and I'm sharing this post with :
Little Thumbs Up event organized by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe


To join our blog hop, click on the link to get the codes :
get the InLinkz code

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chicken Stew

"August Potluck", our theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). Everyone loves a potluck, we get to choose tons of recipes from our previous featured chefs at IHCC. So for this month's potluck, I've cooked a Chicken Stew dish, recipe from Giada de Laurentiis.

There are a few changes I've made, just little changes. Firstly, I have used half a chicken (minus the wings), instead of two chicken breasts with ribs. I do not have anymore homemade chicken stock, so have used water with 2 teaspoons chicken stock powder. Replaced the canned kidney beans with potatoes, as we love potatoes in stews. I omitted the basil leaves as well, even though I love basil leaves, but I'm not sure about using all 1/2 cup of it in Chicken Stew. I'm happy with just the bay leaf and the dried thyme leaves as listed in the recipe. One other thing is, I've replaced the tomato paste with 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup, since I do not have any tomato paste at hand.

No wonder there are so many good reviews about this dish at foodnetwork. This is one delicious stew!

We ate this for our dinner on Sunday, with store-bought crusty bread. Such a simple meal, yet so satisfying

My notes : The bay leaf and the dried thyme leaves gave a wonderful aroma to the stew, and I'm glad that I did not include the basil leaves. The next time, I would probably use the kidney beans as stated in the recipe, but will include the potatoes as well, like I did here, as potatoes are so delicious in stews, they soaked up the surrounding flavours really well. The veggies are tender-soft without being mushy. I cut the cooked chicken meat into bite-sized chunky pieces, discarding the bones, and the meat is tender and so tasty from the simmering with the herbs and veggies. I can see this stew appearing in my kitchen anytime in the near future! Delicious! 

Chicken Stew
(adapted from
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (my addition)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14-1/2ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1-1/2 pounds total)
1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (rinsed if not organic)
serving suggestion : crusty bread

Heat the oil in a heavy 5-1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot and onion. Saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.
Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer.  (Add the chopped potatoes). Reduce the heat, to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered (I put the lid on) until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken breasts over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a work surface and cool for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew  consistency, about 10 minutes.
Discard the skin and bones from the chicken breasts. Shred or cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken meat to the stew. Bring the stew just to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the stew into serving bowls and serve with the bread.

I'm linking this post to :
I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), for August Potluck.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary and Garlic

Made this garlicky focaccia for tea-time. This is simply wonderful when eaten while still warm, with a cup of warm tea. 

Recipe calls for Italian '00' flour, which I have replaced with bread flour. And same amount of spelt flour is used. Snipped some rosemary leaves from the garden pot and some garlic cloves from the pantry, and I'm ready to knead! 

Make the dough as per instructions in the recipe below, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. When the dough has risen, knead gently and placed dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet, pulling the dough to the size of A4 sheet of paper, about 1cm thick. Make indentations with your fingers all over the dough, place the whole garlic cloves in some of the indentations, scatter rosemary leaves all over. Some salt may be sprinkled over if desired, but it does not need it. I've used  3/4 teaspoon of sea salt for the dough, did not sprinkle any on the dough, and I still find it a little salty. I have however used some garlic powder to sprinkle over the dough, I love garlic powder! And drizzle some olive oil all over. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 

Freshly baked! It smells so garlicky nice while it is baking. There's crushed garlic in the dough, whole garlic cloves and garlic powder on the crust. Garlic overload? Yes, please!

Very nice focaccia, the crust is chewy with soft crumbs inside. This focaccia is very good when eaten while still warm, we ate it by just pinching chunks of it off the tray. It gets stale rather quickly when it has completely cooled down, and gets very chewy. In this case, best eaten dipped in hot soup.

Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary and Garlic
(adapted from "Healthy Appetite", Gordon Ramsay)
Serves 6
15gm fresh yeast or 7g fast-action dried yeast
250ml lukewarm water
200gm spelt flour
200gm Italian "00" grade flour, plus extra to dust (I use bread flour)
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus extra to sprinkle (optional) (3/4 tsp)
2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves, plus extra whole leaves for sprinkling
6-7 garlic cloves, 2 peeled and finely crushed, the rest in their skins
about 50ml extra virgin oil , plus extra to drizzle
some garlic powder (my addition, to sprinkle)

If using fresh yeast, put 2-3 tbsp of the lukewarm water in a small bowl and crumble in the yeast. Stir to dissolve and leave for about 10-15 minutes to foam.
Sift the flours and salt together into a large bowl, tipping in the bran left in the sieve. If using fast-action dried yeast, add it at this stage. Stir in the chopped rosemary.
Make a well in the centre. Add the crushed garlic, then pour in the yeast liquid (if using fresh yeast), olive oil and most of the remaining water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Add the rest of the water as necessary, a little at a time, to form a soft but not sticky dough.
Press the dough together then top it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes to for a smooth, elastic dough. Place in a lightly oiled large mixing bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet and gently flatten with the palms of your hands. Pull and shape it towards the edges of the baking sheet to form a 1cm thick rectangle, about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Press with your fingertips to create indentations in the dough.
Stud the dough randomly with rosemary leaves and whole garlic cloves and drizzle over a little olive oil. If you wish, sprinkle over a little sea salt. (I omitted the salt and sprinkled with some garlic powder, it does not need anymore salt!) Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly. Slice and serve while still warm, with barbecued fish or meat.


I'm linking this post to Cook Like A Star (Gordon Ramsay) hosted by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsYen of Eat Your Heart Out and Mich of Piece of Cake.

Little Thumbs Up : Ingredient - Flour event, organized by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe



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