Saturday, January 26, 2008

Taro Muffin

Used Vegan with a Vengence's best ever pumpkin muffin recipe & made Taro Muffins. Substituted pumpkin puree with taro puree - which isn't necessarily the best substitution as taro has a very thick & cornstarchy texture, so I had to add a little extra liquid. The addition of a small amount of coconut extract overpowered the taro flavor. The taro was only in the background & not prominent as preferred.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Muffin Cookie

For some strange odd reason, I thought these were going to taste like granola - crunchy, hardy & chewy - & nutritious too, no refined sugar (there isn't a good description of the texture of the cookies, just a picture)! Man, I had some high expectations. Somehow mine came out softer & more muffin-like - instead of just raisins, I also used prunes & dates & I didn't have any apple juice, so I used rice milk, I also didn't have regular whole rolled oats, so had to used quick-cook rolled oats. These would be perfect if I were in the mood for some soft muffin-tops, but I never am! I THINK I was hoping for something similar to these Ginger Pecan Oatmeal Crisps minus the egg, nuts & refined sugar! My boyfriend said he'll eat these as "cereal" with rice/oat milk.
Oatmeal Muffin Cookies
1 cup raisins (prunes, raisins & dates)
1 cup apple juice (rice milk)
1/4 cup coconut oil (4 tblspns)

1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole grain oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

1 cup dried fruit, etc (cranberries, raisins, carob chips)
  • Blend raisins, etc + apple juice & oil in a food processor for about 1 minute.
  • In a large bowl, combine oat flour, oatmeal, soda, cinnamon & salt. Whisk to combine.
  • Fold in apple juice puree & dried fruit, etc.
  • If dough is too wet, add some more flour or oats. Refrigerate dough for about 15 - 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven 375F. Line cookie sheets & set aside.
  • Spoon onto cookie sheet & press down to flatten cookies. Bake 15- 18 minutes, till golden brown.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sticky Buns/Cinnamon Buns

After watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay twice - Episode Sticky Buns, I had to have some! I didn't try Joanne Chang's or Bobby Flay's recipe, although I would like to give it a try in the near future. Somehow I was led to Anita's Sticky Buns - her beautiful pictures enticed me!
In my humble opinion, the sticky buns were good (if caramel not overcooked), but the cinnamon buns were a little bland & lacking in complexity (even though I increased the zest, extract, etc). Complexity meaning flavor, richness & wow factor. To me, the amount of spices, zest and/or extracts & butter need to be bumped up a level. If I'm going to spend many many hours putting together a yeast dough, it better be darn good & worth it, in this particular case - meaning more butter & spices! For next time, following Joanne's recipe, I'll probably try a brioche dough & following Flay, I'll probably slather on some butter, a lot of spices & up the zest. I'm sure the addition of nuts would be wonderful, but I'm trying to avoid roasted nuts - maybe raw nuts sprinkled on the gooey goo after the buns come out of the oven. Although the end result may not have been the best ever, nonetheless, there's always something special about homemade goodies that make them taste very heart warming & comforting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ripe Bananas

We had three very very ripe bananas that needed to be eaten ASAP! I used one in a smoothie & the other two went into Eden Organic Food's Banana Nut Muffins - minus the nuts. These were not sweet at all & tasted very much like a simple & plain bread to me. Carob/chocolate chips may have a been a nice addition for some extra texture & flavor.
Banana Bread Muffins
2 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

2 tblspns coconut oil
2 tblspns apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup malt barley syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium ripe bananas, smashed

1 cup raisins
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Oil/grease muffin pan.
  • Smash ripe bananas & set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, powder, cinnamon & salt.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, syrup, vanilla & bananas.
  • Add the dry ingredient into the wet & stir to combine.
  • Fold in raisins . Do not overwork the batter.
  • Divide evenly among muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full.
  • Makes 12 muffins (**I had extra batter - poured it into a loaf pan).

I Like Making Candy

So far I've tried Caramel candy, Marshmallows, & Divinity (failure) when I saw Lynn post a recipe for Fruit Delights - I had to give it a try. I can't remember ever trying these before meeting my boyfriend. When we first met, he said his family used to eat these Liberty Orchard fruit delights during the Christmas holidays. He gave me a box one year. So as a fun little surprise, I thought these would make him nostalgic.
I really want to try the recipe using Pectin, I found powder pectin & liquid pectin, I want to use the powder one, but need to figure out how to convert it to a liquid equivalent. These were really chewy, they remind me more of gummy worms/bears than fruit delights (maybe since I messed with the sugar). I'm guessing the pectin texture will be more similar to Liberty Orchard's. The candy was a bit sweet for my personal preference, although I did reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups - I want to reduce it more, but am unsure how it will affect the end result. I'm always trying to reduce sugar, since it helps me feel a little less guilty when I overindulge. For the "raspberry juice", I simmered down about 1/4 cup frozen raspberries in a small amount of water. I strained out the seeds & reserved the thick red nutritious liquid.
Raspberry-Lime Delights
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup raspberry juice/liquid
2 tblspns cold H20
1 tblspn fresh lime juice
2 tblspns gelatin

2/3 cup H20
1 1 /2 cups sugar

Zest of one lime

Powdered sugar
  • Lightly oil an 8X8 glass pan. I lined the bottom with parchment paper. Scatter around the chopped nuts & set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine raspberry juice, cold water, lime juice & gelatin, set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  • Combine the 2/3 cup water & sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • When the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring & allow sugar water to reach 234F (or soft-ball stage).
  • Remove from heat & add gelatin mixture. Return to heat & stir continuously till the thermometer reaches 224F.
  • Remove from heat & quickly stir in lime zest.
  • Pour the mixture over the nuts in the prepared pan.
  • Allow mixture to set overnight.
  • Once hardened, cover completely in powdered sugar & cut into squares with an oiled/buttered knife.
  • Coat all sides of the candy in powdered sugar & allow to stand for another 12 hours.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My Birthday Cake

The breakfast birthday cake I decided to make for myself was not extravagant by any means - no frosting, no white flour, no nuts...basically nothing special. Just a very simple, nutritious & dense Cranberry "Coffee Cake" - no nuts, or crumbly topping. I definitely didn't feel guilty eating this for my birthday - whole grains, not too sweet, slightly tart & sour, and refreshing from the hint of orange. I didn't have soy milk - which I'm assuming was used for some curdling, so I used what I had left of Silk Soy "Eggnog" + oat milk. Since I'm trying to avoid roasted nuts, I replaced the addition of walnuts with a combo of fresh cranberries, dried cranberries & for a little added sweetness, white chocolate chips. For the sweetener, I used a combo of barley malt syrup, maple syrup & also agave nectar. I was afraid the coffee cake would be too light so therefore added the white chocolate chips & agave, but I think the original use of maple & malt syrup should be enough sweetness. I didn't have time to make the icing or a frosting, so that part was omitted - the link above has the original recipe with icing & all from Eden Foods.
Cranberry "Coffee Cake"
1 cup soy/oat/rice milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup barley malt syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup (maple + agave)
2 tblspns coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of orange extract
1 tblspn grated orange zest

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, grease & set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine milk, vinegar, malt, maple, oil, extracts & zest. Whisk/stir to thoroughly combine. Let sit for a few minutes.
  • In a large bowl, lightly sift & combine flour, soda, powder & salt.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry & mix to barely combine, do not overmix.
  • Quickly fold in cranberries & white chocolate, making sure not to overwork the batter.
  • Pour into prepared pan & give it a quick shake to even out the batter.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely.
  • Loosen cake & revert pan to remove cake, decorate with icing if desired.
  • Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator - this cake tastes great cold.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Kick Starting the New Year

My mom has been talking about Asian sweets, which inspired me to give this recipe a try - Steamed Pumpkin Buns. I got this recipe from Natural Health magazine - the November 2007 issue. Although I recognize there is little nutritional value in AP flour & cake flour, I tried it with whole wheat pastry & the results were less than pleasing - a little too dense. Next time, instead of cake flour (which seems to include weird chemicals during processing - bromates & peroxides), I want to try this again with unbleached organic white pastry flour. White pastry flour has a higher protein content than cake flour, but it should be an educating experiment. The resulting buns will not be as "white", but hopefully the texture will not be sacrificed too much - I need to make sure not to over knead the dough & a little vinegar may help with the color - says my mom.
The buns were a success, which means the filling can be changed up all sorts of ways - savory filling, taro root, mung bean, adzuki/red beans, etc. Wow, the options are plentiful. If & when making a savory bun, I'll probably reduce and/or eliminate the sugar in both the starter liquid & filling mixture.
Steamed Pumpkin Buns
3 ounces warm H2O (100-110F)
2 tblspns sugar
3/4 tsp dry active yeast

3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup AP flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp butter

2 tsp coconut oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (can or fresh)
1 - 2 tblspns sugar
cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg to taste
pinch of salt
  • Make the starter - combine warm water, sugar & dry active yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar & allow mixture to sit for 5 - 10 minutes, till foam/bubbles form on the surface of the water.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift together cake flour, AP flour, & salt.
  • Once the starter is ready, create a well in the center of the flour. Slowly moisten the flour with the starter liquid using a fork.
  • Remove fork & knead mixture till soft dough is formed.
  • Add butter & knead till smooth & elastic; add an additional 1 tsp of water if necessary.
  • Form a ball, cover with clean damp cloth & allow to rise till double in size - ~ 60 - 90 minutes. (If necessary, place in oven with oven light on to provide warm environment.)
  • While dough rises, prepare the filling: heat oil, add puree, sugar + spices + salt, to taste. Set aside & allow to cool.
  • When the dough is ready, divide evenly into 6 - 7 balls.
  • Place dough on flat floured surface & roll out into 6-inch diameter disks, making the edges slightly thinner than the center.
  • Place roughly 2 tablespoons of filling in the center & fold edges around the filling & press dough together to create a bun shape. Invert buns so smooth underside is now on top.
  • Cut squares of parchment paper to place underneath the buns to prevent sticking during steaming.
  • Allow buns to rest for 1 hour uncovered.
  • Heat water under steamer. Steam buns over high heat for 10 - 12 minutes.
  • Serve warm. Or refrigerate/freeze for longer storage. If frozen or refrigerated, steam for a few minutes to warm through - sprinkle the top with a little bit of water to prevent over-drying if necessary.
  • Makes 6 - 7 buns.
Other Buns:
Steamy Kitchen's
Baking Bites