11:00 PM

Bells are ringing~~ (Dairy-Free Stollen)

Tis the season..

Christmas is my favourite celebration.

Not 'one of the favourite', but The Favourite. With capitals. With Bells. Loud ones.

It can't even lose to my own birthday.

Even though I'm in Malaysia. With no snow. With no holiday.

I can't do my favourite thing, which is to cuddle up near the fireplace, with a cup of steaming hot-chocolate, and an amazing book.

But I won't let that bring me down. I can BAKE! =)

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

~ My new toy - Soya bean blender.. =D ~

60ml lukewarm water (think baby's bottle)
2 packages (14 grams) active dry yeast
240 ml soya milk (I blended the beans myself)
140 grams vegetable shortenings (or other dairy-free butter)
770 grams all-purpose flour
90grams sugar
¾ teaspoon sal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice (original recipe called for lemon extract)
135 grams mixed peel
170 gms firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons rum (I replaced this with lemon juice)
100 grams flaked almonds (I omitted this, as my sister can't eat almond)
Vegetable oil for coating the wreath
Handful of Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting wreath

1) Soak the raisins in rum, or lemon juice. 
2) Pour the warm water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

3) In a small saucepan, combine the milk and the vegetable shortening over medium - low heat until it is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

4) Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon juice and vanilla extracts.
5) In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
6) Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/shortening mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball.

7) When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
8) Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and gently mix with your hands.
9) Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed.
10) The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes until a reasonable bread-dough consistency is reached. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
11) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
1) Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2) Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3) Preheat oven to moderate 180°C with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4) Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and ¼ inch thick.

5)Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if using.

6)Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

7) Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

8) Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

9) Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
10) Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

11) Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with the oil while still hot.
12) Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
13) Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.

14) The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

10:52 AM

Nutty Brownies~~

What can go wrong with brownies? Especially those with NUTS!

(Yeah yeah, I'm crazy about nuts. So, keep note. I might give up a lot of things for nutty goodness.)

Sadly, I can't eat these. Since they have butter. But my friends and family seem to drool over the sight of them. I'll experiment with a dairy-free version soon. =)

3/4cup Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
3/4cup Unsalted Butter
2tbsp Strong Coffee
1cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2tsp Vanilla Essence
1 1/3cup All Purpose Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/4tsp Salt
3/4cup Walnuts/Pecan Nuts
1/4cup Chocolate Chips

(Sorry about the picture quality here, I left my big chunky camera upstairs while I was baking, didn't want to leave the melting butter/whisking eggs etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a 8x8inch baking tin.
2. Melt the butter and cocoa powder over medium heat. When melted, mix in coffee. Leave to cool.
3. In a separate bowls, whisk together the sugar and the eggs. (eyap, give it a good whisk, it will turn to a lighter yellow). Add in the vanilla essence.
4. Whisk together the dry ingredient, i.e. flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Add the butter/cocoa mix to the egg mixture, then stir in the flour.
6. Save about 7 walnuts/pecan nuts (to decorate later). Stir in the rest of the nuts.
7. Pour in the buttered baking tin. Sprinkle the walnuts and chocolate chips on top.
8. Shove it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
9. Let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
10. Take a big whiff. Grab knife/fork/spoon. Dig In.

9:00 AM

I hear tarts~~ (Dairy Free Crostata)

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Crostata.. what a beautiful word...
It reminds me of something rough, and traditional, and most of all, the name itself sounds delish.

Crostata is basically Italian tarts. One that's traditionally made without the tart tin. And are often filled with pastry cream and fruits; but it can really be filled with anything you fancy.

Dairy-Free Pasta Frolla

90 g Powdered Sugar
235 g All-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
115 g Vegetable Shortening (Cold)
Grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Making Pastry by hand:

1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Rub the shortening into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Filling (Plums)

3 Small Plums, stoned and sliced
Zest of Half a lemon
Juice of Half a lemon
1 tbsp Sugar

Mix all the ingredients together. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to use.

Filling (Cinnamon Apple)

2 Apples, peeled and sliced
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Sugar

Mix all together. (I would not recommend making this too far ahead of time, to prevent the apples from browning before they're ready to be used.)

Assembling Crostata

(Makes 8 small (palm-sized) crostata)
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Divide the dough evenly into eight (8).
3.  To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough in between two plastic wrap, or a large enough plastic bag. This can help rolling the dough and can seriously reduce the mess (and save flour. =P)
4. Roll the dough into roughly a circle.
5. Transfer to baking sheet.
6. Brush with eggwash.
7. Scoop in some of the filling, making sure there's at least 1 inch margin to allow the dough to be folded over.
8. Fold in the edges to create a pocket-like look. (This not only looks pretty, but keeps the juice in as well.)
9. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. (Do keep an eye on the oven, you don't want to burn them.>.<)
10. Breath in the gorgeous smell of your crostata.
11. Tuck in using your fingers. (If you want to appear at least a bit civilised, I'd say use a fork.)

7:32 PM

Chocolate Cookies, revisited~~

For the people around me, one of my favourite things to make is Chocolate Cookies . I can make a huge batch of the dough, wrap them up nicely in clingfilm, and whenever someone comes around, in they go into the oven, and voila.... Freshly baked heaven.

The last time I made these, I omitted the chips and made their shape more uniform... 

This time, in go the chips with no reservation. And they look......friendlier to me, in their weird funky shapes. 


7:24 PM

Sugar Cookies~~

I've always wanted to try making sugar cookies. But the name of them scared me, believe it or not.

"Sugar" Cookies...... does that mean, they're incredibly sweet? Does that mean they have an abundance of sugar? Just like how butter is the dominant ingredient in butter cookies?

And I've always been afraid to decorate, because half the time I feel that my decoration ruins the look. >.<

But here it is.I finally made it.  The recipe I used is from Bake at 350 here:

Sugar Cookies


3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
 2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
 1 egg
 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside.

3. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.

5. Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I stuck the cut-out cookies on the baking sheet into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes before baking, I think this helped hold the shape) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

6. Then decorate.

I melted down chocolate and just dipped them in.

And mixed some icing sugar and water with some colouring to make basic shapes on the cookie. (I was too preoccupied with the icing at this point to take photos. And I totally forgot until I gave them away. o.0)

9:00 AM

Nutty about Doughnuts~~

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Finally! It's the day to post up about this month's challenge. October. My. First. Challenge.

*jumps* *hops* *turns around in circles*

I wouldn't say it went brilliantly, but then again, I'm a perfectionist. Hardly anything can pass my test of being "the best it could EVER be".

Out of the four recipes, I went with the yeast doughnuts, with some minor modifications.

Yeast Doughnuts


180ml Milk
35g Butter
1pkg/7g Active Dry Yeast
40 ml Warm Water
1 Large egg, beaten
22.5g White Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Table Salt
2 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour

1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the butter.

2. Place the butter in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Make sure the butter is melted. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and butter mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.

5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.

6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).

9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.  *I used a smaller doughnut cutter, as I wanted mini doughnuts.

10. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

11. Bake for 10-15 minutes under golden brown.

12. Transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

You can choose to fry these in oil heated to about 350°F, but I decided to go with the healthier option of baking them instead. Turned out great!

I made some doughnut sticks as well as those adorable mini ones.

I went a little crazy when it came to icing them. A lot of flavours came out: 
  Toasted Almond Glaze and Green Tea

 Cinnamon Sugar

 Chocolate & Chocolate Almond