Thursday, November 26, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

When we came back from our short family holiday, there was a bunch of bananas rotting on our dining table! This is a good thing (only bakers will understand this)!

You see, over-ripe bananas with brownish skin are the best for making banana bread (which, by the way, is more of a cake).

During the holiday, Sis no.2 bought a banana chocolate chip muffin from Starbucks which was thoroughly delicious! And there I was with a bunch of bananas just nice for baking. What was I to do?

To cut the story short, here's the recipe:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (65 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate buttons because when it comes to chocolate, bigger is better!)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 very ripe large bananas (454 grams), mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 12 - 1/2 cup muffin pan.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.
With a rubber spatula, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and batter is thick and chunky. (Do not over mix the batter).
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
Bake about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Place on a wire rack to cool for five minutes and then remove muffins from pan.
Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Gingerbread men

So here are my gingerbread men! I made them specially for the kids. The recipe I used produced soft, cake-like cookies. I didn't use much ginger here, for fear it would deter the kids!

Anyway, this is the simple gingerbread recipe:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g butter
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
Makes about 20 biscuits.

Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.
Add sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough.
Refrigerate for half an hour.
Roll out to about 5mm thick and cut out your gingerbread men.
Bake at 190 C on greased baking trays (spaced out, as they will spread) for 10 to 15 mins until golden brown.
Leave to firm up for a couple of minutes before removing from tray and placing on a wire rack to cool.

I decorated the cookies using coloured cream cookie dough, which you pipe onto the dough cut-outs before baking. This is the same method I used for the Lebkuchen and I find it very useful. You can get the recipe here.

Last year, I made some Christmas cookies using a sugar cookie recipe and just added in a teaspoonful or two of ground ginger. It produced a sweeter and crunchier cookie. If you like a cookie with more bite, you should try it.

I used cookie icing to decorate, which was so much work and really not worth all the effort, if you ask me. I'll admit it does look nicer with shinier and brighter colours, but it is such a time-consuming method.

So anyway, here's to more Christmas baking! Cheers!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last night I made some Lebkuchen, a type of spiced German Christmas cookie. I got the recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker here:

Yield: 18 cookies
For the Cookies:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup honey
½ cup molasses
For the Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
4. Beat in the honey and molasses until thoroughly combined.
5. On low speed, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
6. Turn the dough out from the bowl onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour as kneaded, until a stiff dough is formed.
7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
8. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 9×12-inch rectangle. Cut the dough into 18 3×2-inch rectangles. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
9. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, water and lemon juice and brush or spread on top of the cookies.
10. Allow the glaze to firm, and then store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

I love chewy, spiced Christmas cookies, but these turned out a bit too hard for the kids. My jaw became sore halfway through a cookie! I must have over kneaded them. I do like the homely taste however, and it was best when warm, straight out from the oven, then it was still soft. They made the whole house smell heavenly while in the oven!

The recipe calls for a sugar glaze on the finished cookie. However, I do not like waiting for glazes or cookie icing to dry. In this humid country of ours, it takes ages, and time is not one of the luxuries which I have in abundance!

Therefore, I looked for an alternative to cookie icing and found this, a cookie decorating dough which you pipe on before baking the cookies.

Coloured Cream dough
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Paste food coloring

Choose the tip you want.
1. Beat softened butter in a small bowl on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat until combined. Beat in light cream. Add all-purpose flour and beat until smooth. Divide dough into 2 to 3 portions. Color each portion with paste food coloring.
2. Place each color in a decorating bag fitted with a writing, rose, or star tip. The dough must be stiff for the designs to hold their shape, so don't be tempted to add liquid. Pipe one color on all the unbaked cookies on the cookie sheet, then do the same with the second color, then with a third, if desired. Bake as cookie recipe directs. Once baked, the piped-on designs are durable and the cookies store and freeze well.

I found this to work quite well and will definitely use this method again.

Another thing I have to warn you about is greasing the tray. Since I used a non-stick tray, I thought I could skip the greasing part. When I tried removing the cookies after they cooled down a bit, I found that they were stuck on fast like cement! It was really hard to remove them and I had to use of lot of force! It must be all that sticky molasses and honey that forms the super glue effect!

So take my advice, grease your tray plenty!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

Yesterday I baked two chocolate cakes and a dozen chocolate muffins for the kids to bring to school for their year-end parties. I used Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake Recipe. It is a deliciously moist chocolate cake with a fudgy chocolate frosting and is very simple to make.

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (I used Van Houten)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Annie brought 2 of the cakes to school as a gift for her class teacher and assistant teacher. I let her decorate both cakes whichever way she wanted and she had fun coming up with these designs:

She calls them 'Alien Cakes'!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Look

Since most of my baking is done at night, most of my photos are also taken at night under bad light. Therefore, the combination of dark pics and the old, dusky look of my previous blog template "The Scribe" made the overall effect very gloomy.

So, I decided to choose a new template that's as white and bright as possible. I chose "Minima" which is the whitest template available and used the 'Lefty' version because I'm used to that layout.

I think it looks much better now, not so dreary anymore. Hope you like it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Scuba Diving Instructor's Fondant Birthday Cake

Our diving instructor celebrated his birthday last night. I made a chocolate banana cake with a fondant figurine of him on top. I used a new modelling paste recipe which is so far the best I have tried, so I think I'll stick to this recipe. I also intend to try modelling with bought fondant because I've never tried it before, due to the fact that everyone says it tastes horrible! However, I met a friend at the party who is also into cake decorating; and she said it actually tastes better than home-made fondant! So I'll give it a go someday. If it has better texture and dries right, it would save me so much time and heartache!

Anyway, I made the figurine a day ahead and everything was fine until I moved it to the top of the cake; his legs broke off... *sigh* I didn't have any more time to patch it up, so we'll just say his pants tore... :)

I made some cuppies because I just had to use the new cupcake cases I bought. They're super cute medium-sized polka dot ones which come in green and yellow! I made choc coffee mudcake cuppies and topped them with choc ganache and fondant fish, lobsters and whales. They're a bit messy because we were already late for the party! (I've lost the pics!! Long story...)

Oh yes, please excuse the crappy photos because these were taken with hubby's phone. I dropped our camera and cracked the LCD display, so it's being repaired!

Here's the real guy! (notice this photo is sooo much nicer; someone else took it with those big SLR camera thingies)

Here's another great shot by Kelly.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Annalisa's First Birthday - Littlest Pet Shop cake

I made a Littlest Pet Shop cake with cuppies for my niece Annalisa's first birthday. I tried making the pink snail. I like it's eye's which are so adorable. I got to use my new food markers and I'm so happy I bought them! The fondant was still a bit too soft and the cute little snail sagged a bit. It flattened even more when put on display during the party because the air-conditioning wasn't on. I guess I'll have to try the hard fondant recipe for modelling next time round. I still haven't gotten this right yet...

Other than the snail, a no.1 candle and a leaf with her name on it went on top of the cake. Unfortunately, I spelled my own niece's name wrong! :) Sorry Asa!

The cake is a chocolate fudge cake with buttercream filling and crumb coating, and fondant covering. I also made some coffee cupcakes with coffee flavoured fresh cream frosting. I made large swirls of frosting and stuck in some Littlest Pet Shop toppers which I made.

I displayed the cake and cuppies on a two-tier stand which I made for Eva and Solomon's birthday a few months ago. I just spruced it up a little with ribbons, wrapping paper and the furry feather boa thingie. The kids loved the LPS toppers the most.

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