Low fat banana cake

Low fat banana cake

In the quest of losing weight the healthy way, I have started to cut back on my diet, revamp my eating habits and regular exercise. The weight loss has been very slow – about 500 gms to 1 kg in three weeks – because I was still eating rather well. So I decided to get a little serious by doing some calorie counting. After just two days of counting calories, I must say that people really do overeat in terms of portions and the food itself. I found myself watching my portions when I cook and trying to stick within the 1200-calories-a-day limit with some success. It really isn’t all that difficult. The key is in finding substitutes and yes, portion control.

Since I have been developing a sweet tooth of lately – no thanks to my diet which has had me being restricted to no desserts and just fruits – I decided to find a low fat banana cake. I modified my own banana-based recipes with the general guidelines of substitution – applesauce for oil and whole wheat instead of bleached white flour. I wasn’t too sure how a 100% whole wheat cake would go down so I opted for the 50-50 approach.

The result is a approximately 130 calorie slice of banana cake – each slice is about 1 cm thick and oh so moist & delish! Noah loved it and kept crawling around the dining table as I was slicing the loaf up, begging for more – he got the crumbs because it was past his breakfast time and I don’t like the kids to eat continously all day long. I’ll give him half a slice for his snack later. I reckon this would go down quite well for breakfast – one or two slices would still leave me a good window for the remainder of the day plus the whole wheat element will keep me fuller.

Low fat banana cake

NOTE: If you’re after a richer indulgence, you can replace the applesauce with melted butter (or vegetable oil if you don’t want to live that dangerously). But that means a higher calorie count! Tehehehe.

Low fat banana cake

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cake flour
2 eggs
3 large bananas – mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 applesauce
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp skimmed milk (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, mash the bananas before adding in the sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract. If you’re using milk, add this in as well. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon gently – take care to not overbeat. If the mixture is lumpy, that’s okay.
  4. Pour into a loaf tin or any pan of your choice. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep.
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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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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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Pandan chiffon cake

Eva enjoying some pandan chiffon cake!

On a whim, I decided to try my hand at making a pandan chiffon cake for the first time (people posting pictures of their chiffon cakes while I’m working on mens diamond rings reviews don’t help!). I wanted another flavour – lemon or orange – but didn’t have any on hand. Despite my pandan plant looking really sad, I was reluctant to lob off some leaves so have decided to use pandan paste and essence I purchased during my last trip to Paris Store in Lyon.

A quick search on google yield a lot – in fact, too many – results and I had to slowly go through them to pick them right ones. I finally settled for three and adapted my recipe to suit the chiffon cake tins I had stocked up on when we were packing to move from Singapore. They are mini chiffon cake tins from Phoon Huat – about 6-7″ in diameter – and because of their size, I had to halve the recipe…which required further time expanded into calculating and making sure I had everything I needed.

The result is an edible cake that is quite fragrant but still lacking in original flavour and taste. If you have access to real pandan leaves (about 10-20 small-medium sized leaves with 1/4 cup water should do the trick) and freshly squeezed coconut milk, USE IT. For someone who has no access to such luxuries these days, I’d have to settle for a twin. Someone isn’t really complaining tho (as you can see in the picture above) – she wolfed down a good three slices!

Pandan chiffon cake

Pandan chiffon cake
Adapted from Little Teochew, Kitchen Tigress and Kuali.com

Ingredients

(A) Egg yolk based batter

3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
35 gms coconut milk
1-2 tsp pandan essence/paste
75 gms all purpose flour/cake flour
2 gms baking powder
45 gms castor sugar (drop this to 40 gms – I find it a little on the sweet side)
1-2 gms salt (do not omit as this contributes to the flavour)
42 gms grapeseed oil/vegetable oil

(B) Meringue base
4 egg whites (from large eggs)
50 gms sugar (drop this to 45 gms)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and put aside an ungreased chiffon cake tin. I used two mini chiffon cake tins but this should be okay for a big 15-18 cm tin, if you have one
  2. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolk. Place the egg whites in a separate clean and dry bowl and put aside for later use.
  3. Mix the egg yolk, sugar, coconut milk and pandan essence/paste well. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add in the oil as you’re folding in the flour. Be careful not to overbeat. I usually do this by hand. When it’s done, put aside.
  4. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and whisk until foamy before gradually adding in the sugar – take your time. Do not dump all the sugar at once; this will result in clumps and lumps forming. Beat your egg whites until they resemble stiff peaks (you can lift the whisk and the egg whites will hold its own shape OR place the bowl over your head – if you don’t have a mess on your hair, you’re good to go!).
  5. Take a small amount of egg whites and fold it into the egg yolk batter. Use a spatula – not a whisk or wooden spoon. Be gentle and take your time. Once the egg whites are well-incorporate and your batter has been “tempered”, add in the remaining egg whites. Fold gently until they are well-incorporated.
  6. Slowly pour into the cake tins; jiggle the cake tin A LITTLE to ensure that everything is level (no banging please) and level and smooth the top if necessary.
  7. Place the cake tins on the lowest rake, lower the temperature to 150°C and bake for 45 minutes. When ready, immediately remove from the oven and invert it – I turn it upside down and placed it over glass jars. The higher it is from the table, the better. Let it cool for 30 minutes to an hour and remove with a serrated knife.

NOTE: Chiffon cakes don’t keep for long as they tend to dry out fast so this is best eaten fresh. If you must keep it, consider wrapping it in foil and storing in the fridge or placing it in an airtight container.

Pandan chiffon cake

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Eggless Savoury Cake

Eggless Savoury Cake

I was in the mood for a savoury cake and spent quite a bit of time hunting for an eggless recipe that didn’t seem to be too much trouble. Plus I did have like 1 kg of sheep fromage blanc (it’s like greek yogurt) to use up. I bought the stuff because smallish tests revealed that Noah didn’t react to sheep’s or goat’s milk. Still, I’d like to be sure (today would be the day, I guess).

The result is a filling, flavourful savoury cake that makes for a change during lunch/dinner. No rice, bread or noodles! The cake is a little on the moist side but I reckon that’s normal considering the lack of eggs in the mix and the use of corn starch. I winged the liquid portion because I was pressed for time and didn’t want to spend time washing measuring jugs, etc. Nonetheless, it came out quite yummy! Even Eva gave her thumbs up by finishing a thick slice of the stuff for lunch. Maybe it’s because of the smoked pork belly in the cake. Kakakaka.

Eggless Savoury Cake
Adapted from the recipe here

Ingredients

150 gms all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp corn starch mixed with 6 tbsp water
80 ml vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
150 ml fromage blanc (you can use milk or yogurt)
150 gms smoked pork belly (you can use ham) – roughly cubed
1 red capsicum – roughly cubed
1 cup button mushrooms – sliced
Salt & pepper OR herbs to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. In a pan, saute the ham, capsicum and mushrooms OR the vegetables of your choice for five minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper OR herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc. When ready, leave in the pan to cool.
  3. Put flour, baking powder, corn starch liquid and vegetable oil into a bowl and mix well by hand before adding the fromage blanc/milk/yogurt. Mix in well and incorporate the vegetables.
  4. Pour into your pan of choice and bake for 45 minutes until fully cooked. The cake will be a bit moist and slightly dense in the centre. Serve warm on its own or with a serving of salad and other side dishes.

SUBSTITUTION OPTIONS:
If you’re allergic to any animal milk, you can use coconut cream, rice cream or even tofu. You can opt for a wholegrain version by using 50-50 mix of wholegrain flour with regular white flour (100% wholegrain makes for a very dry bread, IMHO). For gluten-free options, consider buckwheat flour.

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Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake

Surprisingly fluffy, this cake was quick to whip up – I did it in 10 minutes after a quick search on the Internet and in between hunting around for some flexible tubing (don’t ask) – and it uses just about everything I had in my pantry. The original recipe called for vegetable oil but I decided to use the organic sunflower oil. It has a certain flavour of its own. Either that or it has gone rancid on me without me knowing. Hahaha.

Still, it makes for a good cake, especially when drizzled…or rather swimming in plenty of lemon glaze. I love the moist fluffy inside with the crunch on the skin, sides and tops. On hindsight, thirty minutes at 200°C is too much. I’d probably bake it for 20-25 minutes instead.

I also added some dessicated coconut to cut back on the flavour of the oil. There is something about eggs that makes baked goods taste ultra rich and yummy. Without it, baked desserts are definitely not the same but you can get a little bit more flavour by adding in things like nuts and dried fruit. If I do make this again, I’ll be adding coconut directly into the batter and spread it around instead of just the top portion.

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake
From The Ethical Chef’s Vegan Lemon Cake recipe here

Ingredients

275 gms self-raising flour
100 gms brown sugar
60 gms castor sugar
100 ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
170 ml cold water
1 tsp baking powder
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
A handful of dessicated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Put flour, baking powder, sugar and zest into a bowl and mix well before adding the oil, juice and the water.
  3. Mix thoroughly by hand – there is no need for an electric mixer – to make sure all is combined well.
  4. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes until fully cooked. For an added tang, drizzle the top of the cake (once it has cooled) with a simple lemon glaze made with lemon juice and caster sugar.

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake: The ultra fluffy texture

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