Banana Blueberry Minis

Banana Blueberry Minis

The other flavour for Eva’s Christmas party tomorrow (I managed to make time in between knitting and reviews on church chairs to churn out TWO flavours!). This muffin is gorgeously springy and moist plus the whole blueberries lend a lovely texture and gives you a pleasant surprise with each bite despite it oozing during the baking process. You could replace the blueberries with other type of berries but why change a lovely recipe like this? Tehehehe.

NOTE: You can replace the coconut milk and oil with butter and regular milk. The quantity of the sugar has been reduced by 25% from the original recipe but you can go down a little bit more – just not more than 35% (it’ll change the overall flavour and texture of the cake).

Banana Blueberry Minis

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole blueberries
1 1/2 whole bananas

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, mash the bananas before adding in the sugar, oil, egg & coconut milk. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon gently and when it’s almost incorporated, fold in the blueberries – take care to not overbeat. The mixture should look lumpy.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of the dough into a muffin tray until it’s about 2/3 full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep for later.
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Citrus Poppyseed Minis

Citrus Poppyseed Minis

We received word that there would be a Christmas party at Eva’s school in the afternoon and parents were asked if they could contribute either clementines, chocolates or cakes. On a whim, I picked cake and decided to churn out mini muffins in place of cakes to make it easier for the kids (and parents) to eat. Because Noah is sensitive to citrus, I made two flavours – citrus poppyseed and banana blueberry. You can substitute citrus with just lemon or orange or lime, poppyseed with some diced almonds.

While churning these muffins out, I discovered that the moulds I had were not enough and settled on a mini financier mould that I had purchased months earlier. Financier is a type of French cake that is similar to a sponge cake and usually baked in a rectangular mould, making it similar to petit fours in shape and size.

The result is a very cute and yummy cake that is not too sweet or overpowering. My mum – who is here for a visit – loved the strong orange flavour while I like the crunch. The hubby wolved down five at one go…a clear sign that he loves it!

NOTE: You can replace the coconut milk and oil with butter and regular milk. The quantity of the sugar has been reduced by 25% from the original recipe but you can go down a little bit more – just not more than 35% (it’ll change the overall flavour and texture of the cake).

Citrus Poppyseed Minis

Ingredients

2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup orange & lemon juice
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 large eggs
Zest from 1 orange & 1 lemon
2 tbsp poppyseed
1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking soda together with the orange & lemon zest. Stir until well incorpoated.
  3. Add in the eggs and mix to break the yolks (but do not incorporate it fully into the flour) before adding in the juice, oil and coconut milk. Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon gently and when it’s almost incorporated, fold in the poppyseed – take care to not overbeat. The mixture should look lumpy.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of the dough into a muffin tray until it’s about 2/3 full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep for later.
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Coconut Buckwheat Soft Cookies

Coconut Buckwheat Soft Cookies

We were down to our last two cookies so I decided to make up another batch. Since chocolate was out, I was left with the usual flavours – coconut, fruit or plain. I remembered buying a packet of shredded coconut a few weeks earlier and decided on a coconut based cookie. One of my cookbooks featured a coconut oat cookie which I thought was interesting but I didn’t have enough quick cooking oats so I decided to replace them with buckwheat flakes which I usually add to Noah’s morning cereal to give it some texture.

Buckwheat is a wonderful gluten-free alternative that is packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. I have been giving buckwheat regularly in the form of whole groats; this seed is commonly found here in France as ble de noir or farine de sarrasin (simply put, it is buckwheat flour) and you use this flour to make savoury crepes. I use the groats in Noah’s food, flakes in his cereal (together with millet puffs) and yes, in baked goods.

Do be forewarned, this recipe will give you a soft cookie due to the inclusion of buckwheat flakes. If you don’t have buckwheat, you can replace it with quick-cooking oats OR quinoa/millet/corn/wheat/rice flakes.

Coconut Buckwheat Soft Cookies
Adapted from Best Ever Cookies’ Coconut Oat Cookies recipe

Makes about 30 cookies depending on the size

Ingredients

175 gms / 2 cups buckwheat flakes
75 gms / 1 cup shredded coconut
225 gms / 1 cup butter or margarine
40 gms / 1/4 cup white sugar
40 gms / 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp yogurt
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
115 gms / 1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
  2. Spread the buckwheat flakes and coconut on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown, stirring frequently.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter or margarine with both white & brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the yogurt and vanilla essence. Fold in the flour and baking soda before adding in the toasted buckwheat flakes and coconut. Stir to incorporate all.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of the dough about 1-2 inches apart onto a baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep for later.
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Lemon yogurt poppy seed cake

Lemon yogurt poppy seed cake

I’ve been making a lot of cakes this month to add some variety to Noah’s breakfast; on some days, he has cereal with fruit or yogurt with his cereal but I wanted to include something different in terms of texture into his meals. Hence the cake recipes thus far.

I chanced upon this while surfing the Internet (in between hunts for a stand with mount) for lemon poppy seed pound cakes and ended up making a variation of this instead. The poppy seeds gives the cake added crunch. The lemon flavour and taste is just nice and not too overpowering on the palate. Unlike my previous bakes, I used white sugar for this as I was trying to finish up whatever that I had left – I’m not very keen on using white sugar in baked goods as it doesn’t lend much flavour or moisture.

Do note that this is a dairy-free version – if dairy isn’t an issue, you can replace the margarine and soy yogurt with regular butter and cow’s milk yogurt. I reckon the cake would be even more fragrant! Tehehehe.

Lemon yogurt poppy seed cake
Adapted from Bake Your Day’s recipe here

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup margarine
Slightly less than 1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup soy yogurt
Zest & juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and prepare a pan of your choice.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a another bowl, cream the margarine with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until fully incorporated
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the yoghurt, to the creamed margarine, eggs and sugar. Mix just until incorporated – be careful not to overbeat. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, lemon zest and poppy seeds, and stir until blended.
  5. When ready, pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10-15 mins before transferring to a wire rack.
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Banana & raisin bread

Banana & raisin bread

Because we’re in a need of some bread and the bananas were “dying”!

The original recipe called for 120 gms of sugar but I cut back on this as the bananas are already sweet plus I don’t like to use too much sugar in my baked goods. It can be overpowering! Raisins adds a nice, chewy texture to an otherwise light and fluffy bread that is still quite moist.

Banana & raisin bread
Adapted from Cooking Crave’s recipe here

Ingredients

3 large overripe bananas, mashed
50 g butter/margarine, melted
85 g brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda
200 g plain flour
1/2 cup raisins (I used golden, dark and sultanas)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and prepare a grease pan of your choice.
  2. Add the melted butter/margarine into the mashed bananas and mix well before adding the sugar, vanilla essence and egg. Mix in well.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking soda and fold in until just incorporate. Add in the raisins and fold in. Be careful to not overmix.
  4. Pour into your pan of choice and bake for 50 minutes until golden brown. I like mine a little on the darker side but if you want yours to be light, cover the top with aluminium foil about 30 minutes after baking.
  5. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Stand on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy as it is or store in an airtight container in the fridge (to keep for a few days) or leave at room temperature (for 2-3 days).
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Tropical Crunch Cookies

Tropical Crunch Cookies

We ran out of cookies a while back and buying biscuits for Noah are slowly becoming an expensive affair because he is eating so much (can’t believe this is a problem now!) and he also has dietary restrictions. I could easily opt for cheap cookies but they often contain a lot of dairy by-products as well as other possible triggers that we have yet to test out. So homemade food is the best way to go about the whole thing.

While leafing through my recipe books and going online to look for recipes, I came across a cookie recipe that utilised corn flakes for that added crunch. To make it edible for Noah – we make things everyone can out just so my son doesn’t feel left out – I replaced the white chocolate with some crushed banana chips and dessicated coconut to give it a little bit of texture. You can substitute with chopped dried fruit, and nuts to suit your palate.

The resulting cookie is crunchy yet not overly sweet – as I cut back on the sugar – and the olive oil (in place of vegetable oil) gave it a slight spiced-bread-like flavour. It was an instant hit with the kids, especially Noah. He can eat two large cookies at one go and sometimes even has room for another one!

Tropical Crunch Cookies
Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly: Biscuit & Slices’ White Chocolate Corn Flake Cookies recipe.
Makes about 30-40 cookies depending on the size

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive/vegetable oil
1/2 cup crushed banana chips
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup (150 gms) plain flour
3/4 cup (110 gms) self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups crushed corn flakes

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar in a small bowl until the mixture lightens to a pale shade. Stir in the essence, oil, and sifted dry ingredients. Mix well – lumps are fine. Add in the banana chips and dessicated coconut. Stir well and place aside in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to firm up.
  3. When ready, roll teaspoon/tablespoons of the mixture into balls – they will be a little sticky so wet your palm occasionally. Toss them into the crushed corn flakes and roll around until the balls are evenly coated. Place on a baking pan about 4 cm apart and flatten slightly.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until browned lightly. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to stand in the pan for 5 mins – to firm up – before removing them to wire racks to cool.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep for later.
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Molasses carrot cake

Molasses Carrot Cake

After watching a few episodes of Top Chef: Just Desserts (in between surfing, knitting and reviews on patagonia ultralight down shirts), I suddenly have a craving for carrot cake but I wanted something that the kids, specifically Noah, could enjoy. This meant no dairy and only ingredients that he is familiar with.

So after hunting around my recipe books and the Internet, I decided to improvise on the simplest recipe I could find – the one by Betty Crocker. I was intrigued by the low calorie option although the idea of using just 1 egg and 4 egg whites didn’t go down too well. So I just stuck with replacing 1/2 cup of oil with applesauce. Then I had the strangest idea – I wanted a dark, nearly toffee-like smelling cake so why not use the molasses I bought a while back? I usually like my cakes to be on the less-sweet side so I cut back on the sugar and sub 1/4 cup of the stuff for molasses.

The result is a moist, semi-light cake that reminds me a lot of Christmas and fruit cakes. Perhaps it’s the spices I used – cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s not a bad thing…in fact, I like it. I can’t really remember what carrot cakes are supposed to taste like – the ones I had in Malaysia always taste like buttercream more than carrot OR butter cake with carrot bits in it. The only change I would make would be to shred the carrots by hand as they appear to be too large – I used a food processor – but after looking at it again, it doesn’t seem to be all that bad.

Molasses carrot cake
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Carrot Cake recipe.

Ingredients

3 cups shredded carrot (about four medium sized carrots)
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup dessicated coconut (optional; you can sub with chopped nuts, raisins and other dried fruit)
Slight less than 3/4 brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup olive oil
4 medium eggs
1 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C and put aside a greased loaf pan or square pan.
  2. Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and molasses until well combined before adding in the flour, vanilla essence, cinnamon and nutmeg powder. Stir until just lumpy.
  3. Fold in the coconut, coconut milk and shredded carrots. Mix well.
  4. When ready, pour into your pan and bake for 30-45 mins – test using a toothpick (it should come out clean if cooked).
  5. Leave to cool in the oven with the door ajar for 10 mins before removing it from the oven. Cool in the pan for an hour before removing it to place on the rake. Enjoy on its own or with frosting if you like
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Homemade soy milk & soy pudding

Recently, I started thinking of making my own soy milk as the ones available for sale here contain only 6-11% soy. They were marketed as soy drinks/water rather than soy milk and I felt that they just lacked the soy flavour that comes from soy milk that we get back in Malaysia.

My initial hunt on the Internet churned out recipes that used a soy machine but I wasn’t keen on spending €100 minimum on something which I wasn’t consuming on a regular basis. Then I discovered that I had the recipe for homemade soy milk all along in one of my Asian cookbooks. So it was off to get a blender and some soy beans. I found a good deal on a no-name housebrand style blender for €20 and some organic hulled soy beans at the organic shop where I go to regularly to get my supply of grains, legumes and sugar.

Operation Soy Milk-Pudding finally started!

I soaked the beans yesterday afternoon in cold water and changed the water again before I went to bed. This morning, when I woke up, the water was less cloudy and the beans were quite soft. With Noah watching me in the high chair – we had just finished breakfast – I set to work on grinding up beans with clean drinking water until they resemble a paste or thick batter of some sort. I ground the beans up twice to ensure that I broken the beans down to a fine paste which would mean that I would be able to get more “milk” out of them.

Now here’s the tough part. I squeezed out every single drop of soy milk from the okara (the soy bean pulp) by hand with the aid of an unused cotton cloth nappy. The okara is placed aside; I plan to oven dry it and keep it as a flour to be used in baked goods as okara is high in calcium, iron and other nutrients. The resulting milk is then placed over the stove top to boil and cook – important as crude soy milk don’t go down very well.

(If you have a soy milk maker, you won’t have to do all this as some machines can churn out milk with just dry soy beans. But we all know why I don’t have a soy milk maker!)

The result is a very nice and creamy soy milk that isn’t too thick. It doesn’t have much of a taste to it – maybe because I didn’t add a lot of pandan essence (I wanted to retain the natural soy flavour) but sweetening it with agave syrup or honey made it much more palatable!

Homemade soy milk

Homemade soy milk

Ingredients

250 gms yellow soy beans
1.5 liters water
1-2 drops of pandan/vanilla essence / some fresh pandan leaves

Method

  1. Soak the beans in cold water overnight or for 8 hours minimum. I did it for around 16 hours just to be on the safe side. When ready, wash and remove any debris or skin. Place aside.
  2. Blend the beans together with some water in a food processor or blender until the beans are finely ground and form a paste or thick batter. Add more water into the blender if necessary. Repeat until all the beans are ground – this takes about three tries. When they are done, blend the paste again to ensure a good fine grind.
  3. Using a cheesecloth or muslin (I used traditional white cotton nappies which are made from cotton muslin), squeeze out the liquid from the soy paste. Patience is a virtue at this stage. Place aside the okara (ground soy bean pulp) as it can be used as a flour or in omelettes, etc.
  4. When ready, heat the soy milk over a medium fire until it comes to a boil. Add in the pandan/vanilla essence or fresh leaves and turn the fire down to allow the milk to simmer. Continue to cook the milk on low heat for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Once ready, place the milk aside to cool and store in the fridge. You can serve this with some sugar, syrup or honey to add sweetness to it.

NOTE: Because this is homemade and do not contain any preservatives, please consume within 48 hours.

This is a recipe for a soy pudding or tau foo fah with a twist. Instead of making tau foo fah with gypsum powder or GDL (Glucono delta-lactone) – I can’t seem to find them here in Dole (I might have better luck in Lyon) – I made mine with agar agar, the vegetarian sister of gelatin. I didn’t really follow any recipe but instead just the instructions at the back of the packet.

The resulting pudding is a little firmer than what I would like it to be and I did forget to remove the “skin” off the surface as it was cooling down. Still, it makes for a nice dessert, especially when paired with the ginger sugar syrup that I made. For the syrup, I used a mixture of sugars that I have at home. Do note that coconut sugar isn’t the same as palm sugar. Coconut sugar is made from the coconut flower bud whereas palm sugar is made from the sap of the palm. Coconut sugar has a very lovely fragrant and dark honey colour to it and I find it to rival the flavour of palm sugar.

Noah had a few spoonfuls of this and was screaming for more when the bowl was empty! I reckon it’s the fragrant, smooth yet textured feel of the soy pudding that he likes.

Soy pudding / Tau foo fah

Soy pudding

Ingredients

(A) Pudding
600 ml soy milk (see recipe above)
1/2 tbsp agar agar

(B) Ginger syrup
1″ ginger, thinly sliced
25 gms white sugar
30 gms brown sugar
50 gms coconut sugar
10 gms palm sugar
Approx 30 ml water

Method

  1. In a pot, heat up 300 ml soy milk until it begins to simmer. Add in the agar agar and stir well. Add the remainder of the soy milk and bring the mixture to a boil for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and pour into a mould, ramekins or pan of your choice using a sieve. Place aside for a few minutes to cool before removing the “skin” (a skin would form over the surface – you could leave it as it’s edible but for appearance sake, it looks better removed).
  3. Allow the mixture to set – about 2-4 hours – before placing it in the fridge.
  4. Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a small pot and slowly heat over a medium-low fire until the sugar has dissolved. Use a whisk to stir and incorporate the sugar with the water.
  5. Once the mixture bubbles, turn down to a low heat and allow it to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil.
  6. When ready, remove and store in a clean, glass jar. Allow the syrup to cool before storing it in the fridge.
  7. Serve your soy pudding with drizzles of the syrup – it goes down well hot or cold.
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