Tuesday, 23 June 2015

oil-free chocolate banana muffins

This is my second attempt at baking these oil free chocolate banana muffins. In fact, I made them before baking the oil-free chocolate chiffon cake which I posted earlier. The first attempt was not that successful as the texture of the muffins was a little dense with a slight kueh-like texture.

I am not sure whether I had deflated the batter or was it due to the type of cocoa powder I used. I had ran out of Valrhona dutch processed cocoa powder so I used natural cocoa powder.

I tried making these muffins again right after I got hold of the Valrhona cocoa powder. The second batch turns out really well.

Unlike the usual muffin-method or creaming method, the batter is prepared just like making a sponge cake, that is, beating whole eggs with sugar before adding the liquid and flour mixture.

These delicious muffins were soft and moist even though they were made without any oil. As stated in the cookbook, 好吃不发胖低卡甜点, each muffin is 132 kcal compared to 197 kcal for a similar one made with oil. Once again this recipe shows that it is possible to enjoy homemade goodies which are lower in calories without having to compromise on the taste and texture.

Oil-free Chocolate Banana Muffins

(makes 8)

100g cake flour
30g cocoa powder (I used dutch-processed valrhona cocoa powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
70g caster sugar (I used 60g)
150g banana, mashed
50ml milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum

  • Sieve together cake flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Sieve the flour mixture twice and set it aside.
  • Place eggs and caster sugar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, whisk the mixture at medium-high speed till it becomes thick, pale and triple in volume. This should take about 5 to 6 mins. The batter should leave a ribbon like trail when the whisk/paddle is lifted. Turn to low speed, and beat for another 1~2 mins. This is to stablise the air bubbles in the batter. 
  • Add in the mashed banana and Fold in with a spatula. 
  • Add in the milk, vanilla extract and rum (do not pour in one spot, instead, gently drizzle over to prevent from deflating the batter). Fold in with a spatula, do not stir.
  • Sieve over the flour mixture in 3 separate additions. Each time Fold in the flour carefully with a spatula, making sure there is no pockets of flour being trapped at the bottom of the bowl. Do not stir the batter with the spatula, it will cause the batter to deflate. 
  • Spoon batter into paper muffin cups to about 90% full.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 180 degC for 15mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out almost clean.
Recipe source: adapted from 好吃不发胖低卡甜点 by 茨木くみ子

Saturday, 13 June 2015

oil-free chocolate chiffon cake

无添加奶油 &油还是一样好吃?!

This is the subtitle of a cookbook, which means, 'How could that be possible?! It still tastes as good without adding butter or oil?!'

When my baking friend showed me her oil free chocolate banana muffins made following a recipe from this cookbook, 好吃不发胖低卡甜点 (loosely translated as: delicious low-calories desserts), I got really interested.

I bookmarked a few recipes and one of the first few I tried is this Chocolate Chiffon cake. The ingredients list is typical of a basic chiffon cake recipe, the only difference is, there is no oil in the list. There are no other special ingredients other than the usual eggs, sugar, flour and liquid.

Whenever I make a chiffon cake, I would usually prepare the egg yolk batter first using a manual balloon whisk before beating the egg whites with an electric handheld mixer. The instructions for this recipe however differ from my usual method as is it necessary to use the electric mixer to beat the egg yolks. Without having to wash the whisks/beaters of the mixer, the egg whites are first beaten before preparing the yolk batter. Hence, it is important to get ready the necessary ingredients so that the yolk batter can be prepared quickly, otherwise, the beaten egg whites may probably deflate if left aside for too long.

Other than the sequence, the rest is quite straight forward. Yet, I made a hiccup while preparing the egg whites. I over beat the whites, just slightly, but it still affected the finished product! What a major no no, and really unforgivable for someone who bakes chiffon cakes so regularly. I learned not to take things too easy or for granted, even if I am very familiar with the process.

Since I over beat the egg whites, I deflated the batter while folding the whites to the yolk batter. The finished batter was still thick but it could only fill up the pan to just 3/4 full. The cake didn't turn out as tall but fortunately, the texture was not really affected. Even without the use of any oil, the cake was still moist, soft and fluffy. If someone were to give me this cake to try, I would never be able to detect that it was made without oil. The only tell tale sign is that there wasn't any oil stain on the doily paper which I used to line the cake. Another thing I noticed is, the cake was a little more difficult to unmold, or is it just me?

The book states that 1/8 of this 17cm cake has got 113 kcal compared to 180 kcal for a similar chocolate chiffon made with oil, lower calories without compromising on the taste and texture. I used valrhona cocoa powder which lends the cake a richer and intense cocoa flavour. The cocoa powder also gives the cake a deep mahogany color. The pictures I took show a lighter shade as I had to adjust the brightness and contrast as the original images were too dark. I also took the liberty to add in some rum besides the pure vanilla extract. This recipe is a keeper and it will be my go-to chocolate chiffon cake from now on.

Oil free Chocolate Chiffon Cake (无油巧克力戚风蛋糕)

(makes one 17cm cake)

4 egg whites (I used eggs with 55g net weight)
45g caster sugar

4 egg yolks (I used eggs with 55g net weight)
25g caster sugar
60ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
55g cake flour
20g cocoa powder (I used dutch-processed valrhona cocoa powder)

  • Sieve flour and cocoa powder, set aside. 
  • Get ready all other ingredients.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degC.
  • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric handheld mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add half of the sugar and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar mixture and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage. The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. Set aside. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  • Place egg yolks and sugar in another mixing bowl. With the electric handheld mixer (Note: it is not necessary to wash the beaters/whisks after beating the egg whites), beat the mixture on low speed until it turns pale and thick. Add in milk, vanilla extract and rum (if using), beat on low speed to combine. Sieve over the flour and cocoa powder, beat on low speed till the flour is fully incorporated. (Note: prepare all ingredients in advance to allow this step to be done fairly quickly so that the beaten egg whites will not be left aside for too long.)
  • Fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula (I prefer to use a balloon whisk) until just blended.
  • Pour batter into a 17cm chiffon tube pan(do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  • Place chiffon pan in middle rack of oven. Bake at 180 degC for 30 mins. Remove from oven and invert the pan immediately, let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.
Recipe source: adapted from 好吃不发胖低卡甜点 by 茨木くみ子

Friday, 5 June 2015

Pork Floss and Sesame Seeds Cookies

I am on a baking spree since the beginning of the June school holidays, making cakes and cookies for my children to enjoy as they are spending more time at home.

This pork floss with seaweed and sesame cookies recipe is a breeze to prepare. The cookie dough is made using rubbing in method, there is no creaming or beating of butter required. The dough is easy to work with as it is not too soft nor sticky.

These savoury cookies turn out really well...light, crisp that taste buttery and very fragrant. It is a nice change to the usual chocolate chip butter cookies and are great as snacks to be enjoyed at anytime of the day.

Pork Floss and Sesame Seeds Cookies

(makes about 35 cookies)

260g plain flour
25g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons pork floss with seaweed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

  • Sieve flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. 
  • With a fork (or use fingertips), cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
  • Add in pork floss, sesame seeds and salt. Mix with hand to combine.
  • Make a well in the centre and add in the lightly beaten egg. Mix and gather the mixture to form a shaggy mass. Give it a few light kneading so that it comes together to form a smooth dough.
  • Flatten the dough to form a disk. Wrap in cling wrap or a place it in a plastic bag and leave to chill in the fridge for about 30 mins. (If the dough is left in the fridge for too long, it will harden, if this happens, leave it in room temperature for a few mins until it is soft enough to roll out.)
  • When ready, roll out dough to about 5m thick between 2 sheets of cut-out plastic bags (or use two sheets of parchment paper). 
  • Cut out cookie dough with cookie cutter and transfer to baking trays lined with parchment paper. Leave a space of about 1" in between each cookie dough. Gather up the scrape and re-roll to make more cookies.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 180 degC for about 20-25 mins until the cookies turn light golden brown. 
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and leave on the baking trays for 2 ~ 3mins (to allow the cookies to firm up a little) before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in air tight container.
Recipe source: adapted from Little Bear's Kitchen

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Steamed Tofu with Egg 嫩豆腐蒸蛋

I have recently started on the road to a healthier lifestyle, being more mindful of what I put in my mouth and exercise more regularly. I am watching my diet, making sure I increase my protein and fibre intake, but lower carb and reduce fat and sugar intake. Since young, my diet is mainly high in carb, low protein, low fibre. I am a rice, noodles, bread person, so it is quite challenging to plan my meals to cater to my diet and the rest of the family.

I came across this Steamed Tofu with Egg recipe from a book on eating well and weight loss programme. It is such a simple dish and rather similar to the usual steamed tofu and egg I have prepared. The only difference is, this recipe uses only egg whites and I have never tried steaming tofu with mushrooms. This dish is high in protein with the tofu and egg whites and yet low in calories. There is no oil and salt is the only seasoning used.

Since I cook this dish for my family, I replaced the egg whites with whole egg (and I do not want to have any leftover egg yolks). I have also used more tofu since the blocks of tofu available here usually come in 300g packs.

The original recipe is meant for a weight loss programme and the dish can be served along with some brown rice. I served it for my family of four as a side dish instead. This is a simple and healthy dish that is enjoyed by everyone in my family, especially my elder son. I am rather surprised that he likes this as he has quite a well developed palate. This dish has now become our new regular on our dining table :)

Steamed Tofu with Egg 嫩豆腐蒸蛋

(serves 4 as a side dish)

200g silken tofu (I used 300g which is 1 block of tofu)
2 egg whites (I used 1 whole egg)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (according to taste)
1 shiitake mushroom (fresh or dried)
1 red chili, sliced
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds (I used white)

  • Wash and cut fresh shiitake mushroom into slices (presoak dried shiitake mushroom if using).
  • Mash silken tofu with a folk. Add in lightly beaten egg/egg whites.
  • Add salt, mushroom slices, chili slices and sesame seeds. Mix to combine.
  • Place mixture in serving dish and steam at high heat for 10mins. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds, ground black pepper (optional), before serving.
Recipe source: adapted from 吃三天瘦一圈 by 李承桓

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Luo Han Guo with Lotus Roots dessert 罗汉果莲藕甜汤

It has been a few months since I last updated my blog...it feels good to be able to sit down and post something today.

I bookmarked this luo han guo with lotus root dessert ever since my blogging pal Sherlyn gave me a cookbook filled with delicious dessert recipes. As usual, I procrastinated and eventually forgot about it. It is only when the weather is getting so hot and warm that this recipe came to my mind.

This dessert soup is very simple to prepare as there are only 3 ingredients...lotus root, lou han guo and some red dates. These three ingredients are packed with nutritional values and are known for their wide range of health benefits. There is no sugar added to this soup as the lou han guo is naturally very sweet. I bought the lotus root from the wet market, those which are sold covered in mud. I think this type of lotus root is better as it is more fresh and crunchy.

This healthy dessert soup helps to remove heatiness and moisten the lungs. Besides the health benefits, it is a delightful, fragrant and sweet dessert that can be enjoyed warm, hot or chilled.

Luo Han Guo with Lotus Roots dessert 罗汉果莲藕甜汤

(serves 4)

2 luo han guo fruits (I used only 1 fruit)
1 large section of lotus roots
6 cups (1.5 litres) of water
10 red dates

  • Rinse and soak the red dates in some water for about 15 mins.
  • Rinse and crack the luo han guo.
  • Wash and peel the lotus roots. Cut into slices (about 5mm thick).
  • Fill pot with 6 cups of water, add in the luo han guo and red dates, bring to boil. Cover, turn to Low heat and leave to simmer for about 20 mins.
  • Add in the lotus roots, bring to boil and leave to simmer on Low heat for about 15 mins. 
  • Serve hot, warm or chilled (let cool and leave to chill in the fridge before serving).
Recipe source: 甜蜜食堂, 贝太厨房