Cocoa & orange sourdough

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

Cocoa sourdough has been quite the hype recently on Instagram. I was intrigued by all the nice loaves and flavor combos that bread enthusiast keep posting everyday. I so wanted to try the cocoa addition, but I has to postpone it as my list of ‘to-be-baked’ has already too long.

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

I only get to bake a bread once a week now, with a full time job. When I see photos of mini bakeries and people who bake several breads at a time, I actually miss my job in the baking industry. Even though short, about a year and a half, I truly enjoyed baking hundreds of loaves and sometimes just watching the bread being made. I hope to write about that in a separate post, how i decided to switch careers in order to do what I’m passionate about.

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

Back to cocoa adventure. Having lived in Australia for some-time, long enough I guess, I fell in love with the Jaffa cookies or the flavor to be exact. I think chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven. I have made cakes, cookies, slices, desserts and all sorts of things with this flavor combo. Out of all, chocolate dipped candied orange has got to be my favorite. So this is how the idea of cocoa and orange sourdough came to be.

The basic 50% rye bread recipe is tweaked a little to achieve this. I have added 40 g of unsweetened cocoa tog the chocolate flavor and color. cocoa tend to be a little bit bitter, so to balance that, two table spoons of molasses is added. Zest of two whole oranges is what gives the orange scent. I have upped the water content too as cocoa absorbs moisture.

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

Also I have added 2 tablespoons of strong coffee, hoping to intensify the chocolate flavor. To be honest, I didn’t think it made a difference, but I can’t really know until I make another one without coffee. So, that to a later date.

I think, you can be creative here and try to incorporate something extra to this bread too. Some ideas would be, orange peel, some dried fruits, or even candied orange pieces. I am planning to redo this recipe with nuts, and if it turned out to be good, the recipe will be shared of course.

Served with cream and strawberries
Cocoa & orange sourdough

Bread

Servings: 1 loaf

cocoa orange sourdough

Ingredients

  • 220 g active starter
  • 250 g white bread flour
  • 200 g dark rye flour
  • 40 g unsweetened dutch processed cocoa
  • 350 g water (approx.)
  • 10 g oil (I used olive oil)
  • 10 g salt
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • zest of two oranges
    optional
  • few orange slices to decorate
  • some sugar to coat the orange slices

Instructions

  1. As usual, make your starter the day before, if you want more details on how to do that, refer to my post on making and maintaining sourdough starter.
  2. The process of mixing the bread is similar to that of the white sourdough bread. So I will not write details but mention the steps.
  3. Weigh in the dry ingredients in to a bowl and mix.
  4. Weigh the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, mix and add to the dry mix.
  5. Using a spoon or your hand, mix everything until no more dry flour bits are visible. Add more water if the dough is tough.
  6. Let sit for about 15 minutes and mix using hand or mixer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the finely grated orange zest and make sure to mix until its nicely and evenly spread across the whole dough.
  8. Let this rest for a 15 minutes more and give a good mix (stretch and fold action)
  9. If you are adding fruits or nuts, now is the time.
  10. Cover the dough and let it bulk proof for 45 minutes – 1 hour give it a fold and repeat this in another 45 minutes.
  11. Let it sit for another 11/2 to 2 hours for the final proofing to happen.
  12. Punch the dough lightly to remove excess air and shape it up to a cobb and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
  13. Shape the dough however you like.
  14. Give it a good dusting of flour before placing upside down in a proofing basket. If you are not using a basket, place the loaf on a tray lined with plastic or a tea towel.
  15. Cover the loaf to prevent it from drying out and place in the fridge. (retarding can be anywhere from 12 hours to 20 hours)
  16. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500 F (I bake my bread on a cast iron skillet so I preheat the skillet in the oven). Place a tray of boiling water on the bottom rack.
  17. If you are using, dip the orange slices in sugar and set aside. This will draw remove excess water out of the slices.
  18. Once the oven is ready,take the bread out and slash. Decorate with orange slices if you like. (remove excess juices before placing them on the bread)
  19. Place the bread in the oven (on the center rack) and bake 20 minutes. Then, remove the water tray, reduce temperature to 450 F and bake for another 20 minutes.
  20. Once done, cool off on a wire rack before cutting into it.
https://myloveofbaking.com/cocoa-orange-sourdough/
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Fish Empanada

Fish empanada
Fish Empanada

Empanada or patties as we call them at home, are a party food that I grew up with. It is one of the few things that I started making myself as a little girl, just by following my Mom’s directions. However, I have, over-time, done a few changes to the original recipe just to make it a bit more healthier.

empanada

The dough is no different to the original recipe. I have added green peas and chick peas to the fish mixture and also some garam-masala. you can opt that with curry-powder. Usually these patties are deep fried, but I like to bake them instead.

I use canned salmon, caned tuna when I’m in a hurry. But fresh fish is the best if you can be organized. If you are using fresh fish, you will have to steam the fish and remove bones. Any meaty fish works and if you are not a fish person, well, then chicken would be fine too. Make sure to cook chicken beforehand, util tender. having said all this, I personally prefer the version with canned Mackerel as it brings back the memories from childhood.

Patties are served as a finger food in parties but I like to make these for dinner too. You can make a big batch and freeze them for later. You can thaw them for a few minutes and bake straight away.

fish empanada

It is important to egg wash these patties before baking to achieve that nice golden color.

dough

Mix the dough in a mixer/processor until everything comes together. Then take it out on to a floured surface.

dough

Knead the dough by hand to form a nice smooth ball. Do not try to achieve this in the machine, it it too stiff and rubbery. Place this in a closed container and refrigerate for about an hour (or more) The gluten need to relax

dough

Once ready, divide the dough into golf ball size potions and set aside for 10 minutes to relax. Cover the dough at all times to prevent a skin forming.

dough

Take a dough ball, flatten it on a lightly dusted surface. Use your fingers and press outwards, lightly. If it springs back, the dough need to rest 5-10 minutes more.

dough

Place a spoonful of the mixture in the center, keeping edges clean. Apply some water around the rim and fold in to two to make a pastie shape.

pastie

Press the edges firmly, and then use a fork to crimp and seal tightly

empanadas

Place the empanadas on a lined baking tray, egg wash and bake.

200 C for about 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown all around. Rotate trays closer to the end for a even baking.

empanadas

Once baked, remove from the oven and serve warm with a dipping sauce.

You can deep fry these to get a crispier outer shell. Be sure to drain excess oil if you do so. The amount of spices mentioned in the recipe are just a guide. I always adjust flavor after tasting and never measure spices when making fillings like these. Also, be creative and add your favorite veggies to the mixture and see how it goes.

Lets get to work!

Fish empanada

pastry

fish empahada

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 550 g all purpose flour
  • 80 g buttert
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 eggs
    For the filling
  • 1 can of salmon
  • 3 medium potatoes steamed
  • 1/2 cup of chick peas
  • 1/3 cups green peas
  • 1 Medium onion chopped
  • Few garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Few green chilies finely chopped (remove seeds if you can’t handle the heat)
  • A handful of curry leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil/coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg to egg wash

Instructions

    To make the dough
  1. Mix flour salt and butter until combined.
  2. Add the 2 eggs and start to bring the dough together.
  3. Add water a little at a time until the bowl is clean and dough comes together.
  4. You can use a food processor instead, up to this point.
  5. Dough should not be sticky. At this point take the dough on to a floured surface.
  6. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until its smooth.
  7. Place in a bowl cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the gluten to relax. This will ensure that you can stretch the dough easily. Otherwise the dough is very elastic and would curl back when you try to roll out.
    For the Filling
  1. Cube the potato or roughly mash using a fork and set aside.
  2. Break the salmon or the fish in to small chunks and set aside.
  3. Place a deep saucepan over medium heat, and add oil and butter.
  4. When oil is hot enough, add the onions, garlic, chilies and curry leaves and let them sweat for a minute. Let the aromatics release.
  5. Add the potatoes and salmon in to the saucepan and give a good mix.
  6. To this add all the spices followed by the chick peas and green peas.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Let the mixture cook on low heat for about 5 minutes stirring to stop bottom from catching.
  9. If mixture is too dry add a table spoon of water. If mixture is wet, for some reason, add some bread crumbs. The mixture should be pliable.
  10. Taste test and adjust spices.
  11. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.
    To assemble.
  1. Preheat oven to 200 C and line a flat baking tray or a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Take the dough out and divide into small dough balls, about the size of small ping pong balls and let these rest for about 10 minutes.
  3. This dough makes about 20 large patties.
  4. Flatten a small dough ball to a circle of about 3 inch diameter (as big as you can go without tearing) and place a spoonful of mixture in the center and fold to seal edges. (use a tiny bit of water as glue)
  5. Use a fork to seal the edges or crimp the edge.
  6. Once all patties are done, you can bake them in batches or freeze them.
  7. To freeze, place patties in air tight containers separated with plastic sheets to stop them sticking and freeze.
  8. Else place the patties on the prepared tray leaving some space around them.
  9. Beat one egg lightly and egg wash the patties before baking. Usually takes about 20 minutes or check for golden brown color.
  10. Let cool on wire rack and serve with tomato sauce.
https://myloveofbaking.com/fish-empanada/
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Sourdough starter

starter
Active starter

This post is about making and maintaining a sourdough starter. Mainly aiming for newbies (like myself 4 years ago) and anyone who is interested in natural levain. But if you are a pro, please feel free to read and help me improve the contents. All ideas, suggestions and proposals are welcome.

A lot of baking enthusiasts have been asking me questions about the process. Even though, I reply to every single message the best way possible, I feel like I need to write a good comprehensive post explaining everything I know and I do. So it will be helpful to anyone looking for answers.

Bubbly starter
Bubbly starter

I will try to include more pictures with time and also let this post grow based on replies and any follow up questions. I want this to be a conversation rather than a article, for it to continue to grow. Please feel free to add your thoughts in comments section and/or reply to any question, if you think you know the answer. We can all try to help each other.

Lets get some basic things straightened up:

What is a starter: A starter also referred to as a culture, is a micro-organism. In the context of sourdough, this organism is yeast.

what is yeast: A microscopic single-cell fungus. While there are many species, the bakers yeast is identified by the scientific name Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

How do yeast help make bread: Yeast, when provided with flour, water and air, start to reproduce. They consume the sugars and release CO2 (carbon dioxide) and ethyl alcohol as by-products. CO2 helps give the bread the rise or the bloom. This in turn, gives the light and airy crumb that we love. Without yeast, the dough will be dense, hard, flat and not enjoyable.

Commercial yeast vs natural leaven: commercial yeast is nothing but the same single-cell organism that is isolated. They are grown, extracted and then compacted for commercial use. This gives speed and reliability. Natural leaven, however is slow, because the yeast density is low. Hence it takes longer for the process. This gives lactobacilli (another bacteria naturally occurring) ample time,to act on flour. The lactobacilli consumes the protein in flour (gluten) and releases lactic acid as a by product, which gives sour-dough, well, the sour flavor.

This is a very basic simple explanation. But if you are curious, internet is flooded with information. With that in mind lets see the process of making a starter from the scratch. It is easy, you just need patience and consistency.

  • Place 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup filtered, room temperature water in a clean container
    • I use either bread flour or all purpose flour
    • white flour is the easiest
    • although, you can use whole wheat, rye, spelt etc.
  • Mix with a clean spoon until it resembles porridge(I will call this slurry) pic_1
  • If you like, deposit this mixture in a clear glass jar or a drinking glass.
    • if it is clear, you can watch the activity
    • the container can be anything but it has to be clean and non-reactive (no metal or aluminium)
  • Loosely cover the container, with a lid or a piece of plastic wrap
    • do not make it air tight
    • we want the yeast in the air to reach out to the flour
    • consider your mixture as bait for the yeast
  • Now let the mixture sit in a warm but dry place for 2 days
    • if it is warmer, make it 1 day
    • The process takes longer if environment is colder (I once let my slurry sit for 4 days)
    • If it is too warm, the mixture might go bad, because other bacteria start to act upon the slurry before the yeast
  • Check if your slurry is catching yeast or going off
    • if it has green, yellow, gray spots then it has caught other bacteria. So discard and start the process again. Don’t get discouraged.
    • if it smells horrible, its gone bad and you will have to start again.
    • The good signs are,
      • seeing nothing dramatic
      • may be seeing a few air pockets
      • getting a faint smell of acidity (this should not be off-putting) like vinegar
  • If your slurry is doing good, then, discard half of it.
  • Make a new slurry using 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.
  • Mix well and add to the saved mixture. Mix well to incorporate everything. Let it sit for a day.
  • This is considered a feeding
    • assume now that yeast has started to grow
  • Now we have to repeat this process everyday until you see some activity for up to a week
    • like air bubbles (pic_2)
    • the mixture expanse
  • when its active like this, we change the feeding style. We discard everything but a teaspoon full of our active starter
    (culture) and feed it the same amount of food (1 cup water 1/2 cup water)
  • Continue to feed everyday, until you see some real activity
    • usually takes about another 4-5 days
    • when your starter doubles in size over night, its a good sigh(pic_3)
    • Its is ready to be used at this stage
  • I personally, think, you can’t really know a starter for sure, until you make a loaf of bread with it.
  • Once your starter is active, you can feed it the same way and leave it in the fridge.
  • But you have to take it out often(every week ) and freshen it up for best results.
  • To freshen up, take it out of fridge, let it come to room temperature and become active.
  • Feed and let grow over night.
  • Give a feeding in the morning and place back in fridge.
  • Anytime you make bread, freshen it up first.
  • Then use some of the fresh starter to make bread
    • when you freshen up, if you see slow activity, feed it for a day or two more before using or storing away in fridge
slurry
pic_1 porridge like slurry
pic_2 visible air bubbles
starter doubles in volume
Pic_3 starter doubles in volume

A good starter is like a sponge. It is airy,light and fluffy. When you very gently fold it with a spoon, you will hear the bubbles pop. Another good indication is, that when you pour the starter into a bowl of water, it will float like a foamy sloppy thing. Pic_4.

starter
starter floating in the water

The best time to use a starter once it is fed is, when it is at it’s peak or better yet, just before it reaches it’s peak. How do we know if it is at its peak. Well this takes a lot of getting to know your starter. You can usually keep an eye once you feed and use it when it doubles. If you want and have got time you can chart your starter growth, and use the chart to get the exact hour that it reaches it’s peak. But keep in mind, starters have got their own mind, so you’ll have to re do this chart once in a while.

how to find the right time to use a starter
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Lemon curd

lemon curd
Lemon curd

There is nothing like home made lemon curd. Thick creamy sweet and tangy spread that is so versatile that it is a staple in many households. I love anything that has lemon in it and lemon curd is my favorite thing to make when I have excess lemons at hand.

It can be used as a spread on toast on biscuits or biscotti. It can also be used as a filling for tarts or decorate desserts. I use lemon curd whenever I want something to cut through a supper sweet dessert.

Lemon curd
Lemon curd

Varying the amount of lemon juice you incorporate will intensify or mellow down the tanginess. It is supper easy to make and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Lemon curd

dessert

lemon curd

Ingredients

  • Juice of three lemons
  • Zest of two lemons (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 125 g butter cubed
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, sugar and zest until a smooth paste like mixture is formed.
  2. Place in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the lemon juice and butter.
  4. Stir until all butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
  5. Then whisk the mixture until it thickens up a bit (you will feel the resistance when you stir) and just starts to boil.
  6. This can take about 8-10 minutes.
  7. Let the mixture boil for a few seconds and make sure to stir all the while.
  8. Then take off the heat and pass through a sieve to get rid of any lumpy bits(mostly some cooked egg whites and some zest).
  9. Let it cool down and you will see it starts to set. This will set even more in the refrigerator when the butter begins to harden.
  10. Place covered, in refrigerator until you are ready to use or fill some mason jars and store in fridge up to a week.
https://myloveofbaking.com/lemon-curd/
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Italian meringue

Italian meringue
Italian meringue

Italian meringue has several uses in dessert world. It is the most versatile element when it comes to decorating cakes, mousses, tarts and other desserts. The fact that it can be piped in to any shape you like gives you space to be creative and make dessert plates look stunning. Also when burned using a torch, the meringue changes the look completely making a simple tart look elegant. It is not difficult to make Italian meringue as long as all the steps are followed correctly.

It is a mixture of egg whites and sugar just like the easy Swiss meringue, but the sugar is added as a hot syrup. The trickiest bit is to get the sugar syrup to reach 113 °C- 115 °CAlso the egg whites has to be whisked to soft peak stage before adding the syrup. The best way to do this is to start whipping the egg whites when sugar syrup reaches 110 °C. Use a candy thermometer to read the temperature. As soon as the temperature is right, you can start beating the egg whites again and drizzle the syrup until every thing is combined. The mixing ball will feel very warm to touch at this stage. Keep whisking on high speed until the bowl feel cold to touch. By this time the meringue will be looking nice and shiny and thick.

Italian meringue
Italian meringue

Do not leave it for too long as it will deflate. The firm meringue is stable and could be piped to any shape. You can either burn it using a blow torch or leave it as it is.

Any left overs can be baked in a slow oven to make meringue kisses, bird nests or mini pavlovas. To do this, use a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your chose and pipe small kisses on to a lined baking tray or a silicon mat. Then bake the in 120 °C oven for about two hour and then let them dry out in a switched off oven. Remove when done. Store in a air tight container.

Italian meringue
Italian meringue
Italian meringue

dessert

Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 225 g sugar
  • 125 ml water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (or few drops of vinegar)

Instructions

  1. Place water and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase heat and bring sugar syrup to a boil.
  3. Keep boiling until temperature reaches 110 ºC.
  4. At this point start whisking the egg whites and the cream of tartar to a soft peak stage.
  5. Meanwhile let the boiling sugar syrup reach 115 ºC and take it off heat.
  6. We are going to add this syrup into the beating egg whites next.
  7. While whisking the egg white on medium-high, drizzle the hot sugar syrup in a steady, consistent flow until all of syrup is being used.
  8. Increase speed to high and keep whisking until the mixture cools down and a shiny stiff meringue is developed. This usually takes about 5-8 minutes.
  9. Use the meringue as desired.
https://myloveofbaking.com/italian-meringue/
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Cheesecake and lemon-curd surprise

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

This is my version of Bomb Alaska for the winter. The burned meringue is hiding a creamy baked cheesecake and a generous layer of homemade lemon curd. This dessert strikes a perfect flavor balance between sweet and tangy with different textures ranging from creamy to crispy.

The main element of this dessert is the cheesecake which is an all season dessert for me. I love to top the cheesecake with seasonal fruits or berries. Sometimes I like to have it plain or with maple syrup. But my latest addiction is lemon curd. I love how the lemon curd cuts through the creamy richness of the cheesecake. So I decided to use the combination for this dessert.

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

You can find my lemon curd and Italian meringue recipes on this blog. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice for best results when making lemon curd. And you can make lemon curd ahead of time. They keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week or more if you bottle it properly. I always have a jar or two of lemon curd in my fridge. I think it is a good way to use up lemons when they are in abundance.

The Italian meringue, even though made out of a lot of sugar, is not over powering at all. Instead it balances the textures of a dessert. In this dessert this is also the sweet element. A thick meringue coating is used here to cover the entire cheesecake while the generous layer of tangy lemon curd cuts through the sweetness perfectly, making you want to go for more.

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

Cheesecake needless to say is creamy and cheesy which is very neutral so you can pair it with other flavors as you wish. This is a simple cheesecake with just cream cheese, eggs and sugar. But I have made the biscuit base a little bit thicker than I usually would. Because I needed a lot of crunch to balance out all the soft textures piled on top of each other. And an extra pinch of salt in the biscuit crumb, which will enhance it’s flavor even more.

The meringue recipe makes about a two cups which is a little too much for this dessert. But the leftover can be used to make meringue kisses. Just pipe small dollops and bake for about 2 hours at a law temperature (150 °C) until crispy and lightly browned. These crispy meringues are perfect to be served with tea or coffee or served as a separate dessert, paired with some cream and berries.

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

This dessert is best eaten on the same day of making as the meringue will not last long and cannot be refrigerated. Also once sliced, the lemon curd will start oozing. This is why I make a small cheesecake so this could be finished in one sitting. Perfect for a group of 4 – 6 people. For a larger group, you can double this recipe without a problem.

Try this out when you want to please a crowd next time. It will definitely be a show stopper !

Cheesecake and lemon-curd surprise

cheesecake, dessert

Servings: 6-8 servings

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

Ingredients

    For the cheesecake base
  • 8-6 Digestive biscuits
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
    For the cheesecake
  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 50 ml of milk
  • 3/4 cup of icing sugar (sifted)
    For topping
  • 1 cup lemon-curd (find recipe here)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Italian meringue (find recipe here)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160 ºC.
  2. Prepare a 6 inch baking tin or a ring, lined with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter and let cool down.
  4. Place digestive biscuits in a food processor and process until fine. (or place the biscuits in a plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin)
  5. Add sugar and process to combine.
  6. Add melted butter and process until crumbs come together.
  7. Use the crumb mix to create a base in the tin or ring by pressing evenly. No need to cover the sides. Place this in the fridge until you prepare the cheesecake batter.
  8. In a bowl of a mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until soft.
  9. Add the icing sugar and continue to mix.
  10. Add one egg at a time clearing after each addition.
  11. Finally add the milk and baking powder and stir until smooth.
  12. Pour in to the prepared tin or ring.
  13. Bake for about 1 hour until top is firm and center is still just wobbly.
  14. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool down in the tin.
  15. Once cooled, unmold the cheesecake on to a serving platter.
  16. Spread lemon-curd on the top of the cheesecake and smooth out.
  17. Pipe or spread the meringue over the cheesecake and the lemon curd starting from the outside.Once the whole cake is covered, pile some more meringue over the top and give some texture using the back of the spoon.
  18. Lightly brown the meringue with a blow torch.
  19. Best served on the same day.
  20. Store in a cool place covered for up to two days
https://myloveofbaking.com/cheesecake-and-lemon-curd-surprise/
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Tea-infused Scones

tea infused scones

Playing with flavors is one of my favorite pass time activities. This is another scones recipe that I tried and thought it is a keeper. A good flaky scone is always a winner at the table. What could be better than a scone to have with your evening cup of tea? An infused scone.

My latest obsession is infusing food with flavors specially with tea. It has become a bit of a trend followed by numerous cooking shows. However, I quite like the idea of infused teas and why not use that tea to infuse some scones?

What I have done is soak up a hand full of sultanas in hot tea. Tea can be anything you fancy, I have tried this with earl grey, lady grey, lemon grass and all of them turned out nice and aromatic.

It is simple. Just brew your choice of tea (a tea with unique smell works better) in a teapot and then strain and reheat the tea. I then let the sultanas soak in the tea for about an hour. Then simply strain and toss these sultanas in your scones dough. If you like a stronger infusion, use some of the tea as well.

When the scones are being baked, the whole house fills with the sensational fragrance that will make your mouth water.

As the scones are already so good and sweet with all the sultanas, you can eat them as is. But some jam wouldn’t hurt and a dollop of cream too if you fancy.

Give these a go and let me know if you liked it. Post any questions in the comments or on Instagram, I will try my best to reply to them all.

Tea-infused Scones

scones

Servings: 10 medium sized

Tea-infused Scones

Ingredients

  • 250 g self-rising flour
  • 20 g caster sugar
  • 15 g milk powder
  • 50 g butter (cold, cubed)
  • 100 ml water
  • A hand full of sultanas
  • Tea of your choice (I’m using lemongrass)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220 °C
  2. Brew tea in a separate pot and strain out.
  3. Reheat and let sultanas soak in the tea for an hour.
  4. Place flour, milk powder, sugar in a big bowl and give a quick mix.
  5. Add the cold butter and rub in to flour using fingers, until it represents breadcrumbs.
  6. Strain the sultanas and add in to the mix.
  7. Add two table spoons of the tea to the mix.
  8. Add water and mix with a spoon or hand until just combined. (Adjust water depending on the wetness or dryness of the mix)
  9. Place the dough on to a floured surface and fold and compress delicately, until the dough comes together.
  10. Let sit for 10 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  11. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a 3.5 cm thickness and cut shapes using a cutter.
  12. Brush the tops with a little milk or a light egg wash (optional)
  13. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes or until tops become light golden brown.
  14. Roll on a floured surface to 3.5 cm thickness and cut shapes using a cutter.
  15. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes or until tops become light golden brown.
  16. Let them cool on a wire rack.
  17. Serve with your favorite topping.
https://myloveofbaking.com/tea-infused-scones/
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Pumpkin spice cupcakes

I have made hundreds of cupcakes since I started my baking adventures and have always been trying to create new flavors. This pumpkin spice cupcake is one of them and by far my favorite. I was playing with pumpkin as it was the Halloween season and I thought there is never a better chance to try this cupcake.

I loved the soft pillowy texture despite having pumpkin in. Also the spices came through beautifully. The cupcake itself is not overly sweet so the cream cheese frosting goes really well balancing out the sweetness.

I didn’t use canned pumpkin puree, instead roasted a sweet butter nut pumpkin half until soft and scooped out the flesh. Puree the flesh in a food processor before adding to the cake. Be careful of how much milk you’d want to add. This depend on how wet your pumpkin puree is. You want the cake batter in the ribbon consistency just like a butter cake batter would look like.

You can swap milk with non-dairy milk. I used dark brown sugar but I think light brown sugar would be fine too.

For the frosting, I used 3 cups of icing sugar at first and thought it was a bit too rich and sweet. So I have changed the recipe to use more butter and less of sugar. The trick is to whip butter until soft and fluffy. Then you can add cream cheese followed by icing sugar and give a quick whip on high until just combined. Keeping the frosting in the fridge until it is firm helps with piping.

Cupcakes would sit at room temperature for a couple of hours in cooler weathers. They will have to be refrigerated after that and thawed back before serving.

This is a must try, if you are a fan of all things pumpkin!!

Pumpkin spice cupcakes

cakes

Servings: 12

Pumpkin spice cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 180 g castor sugar
  • 125 g butter at room temperature
  • 80 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. bicarb soda
    For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 225 g cream cheese
  • 100 g butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  2. Line a muffin tray with paper muffin liners.
  3. Sift together the flour and all the spices and set aside.
  4. Beat butter, white sugar and brown until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time clearing after each addition.
  6. Stir in the pumpkin puree and mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in the flour mixture alternating with milk.
  8. Dispense the batter into the molds and bake for about 20 minutes or the cakes are just done.
  9. Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
    To make the frosting:
  1. Beat butter until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add softened cream cheese and icing sugar.
  3. Beat until incorporated and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until piping consistency is achieved.F
  4. Frost the cupcakes before serving.
  5. Refrigerate leftover cupcakes in an air tight container.
https://myloveofbaking.com/pumpkin-spice-cupcakes/
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Healthy banana loaf

When you see some overripe bananas, the first thing that comes to your mind is undoubtedly the good old banana bread. But I am not willing to put a load of brown sugar in my body to save a few bananas. It’s always good to have a slice or two occasionally but having a whole loaf sitting in the pantry is not going to help my diet.

So I thought of replacing the usual ingredients in a banana bread with their healthy substitutes to create a breakfast loaf. It still contains sugar and carbs and thus gives no excuses to over eating but it is better in many ways and is a great grab and go breakfast option.

Notice this is made with only whole wheat flour. I was tempted to substitute half of the flour with rolled oats, but I postponed it for another time. No refined sugar is used what so ever. Instead, I’m using some honey and molasses. Molasses gives that nice brown colour and that subtle caramelized flavour. But I am not quite sure the flavour came through in this case, but the colour was beautiful. Butter is replaced with olive oil and apple sauce. This makes the crumb supper moist and soft.

Make sure to grease the loaf tin properly. I have sprinkled some pepitas on top for extra texture but it is completely optional. If you like you can use some oats, or chopped nuts instead of pepitas or place a whole banana split lengthwise to make it more visually appealing.

Once the loaf is completely cooled, you can cut thick slices and wrap them individually and freeze them for up to two weeks.

Healthy banana loaf

cakes

Servings: 8-10 slices

Healthy banana loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • A handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160 °C.
  2. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf tin.
  3. Place oil, eggs, honey, apple sauce and molasses in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the smashed bananas and mix to combine.
  5. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the wet mixture along with the milk.
  6. Stir until everything is combined and pour in to the prepared tin.
  7. Sprinkle the pepitas on top and bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the loaf cool for about 10 minutes before taking it off the pan.
  9. Cool completely before cutting in to it.
https://myloveofbaking.com/healthy-banana-loaf/
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Protein brownie bar

protein brownie
Protein brownie bars

This is my favorite protein bar with more than 6 g of protein and less than 3 g of sugar per serve. When I run out of my vanilla protein powder, I use chocolate flavored powder to make these protein bytes. If you can’t stand the taste of protein shake like me, give these a go and you’ll have no problem in getting your post workout protein into your body. If not they can be used as a snack, no problem.

protein brownie
Protein brownie bars

Apart from it is high in protein, I have substituted butter with coconut oil and it turned out pretty OK. Chewy and chocolaty and most importantly, it camouflaged the protein powder really well.

This is a law carb protein bar but I call this a brownie, as I altered a regular brownie recipe and it looks a lot like one too. Brownies are very forgiving and so you can play with different fusions or mas-ups. Saying that I’m thinking of a cheese cake brownie that I always wanted to make.

protein brownie
Thick batter

Feel free to add your favorite. I’m using walnuts as it gives a nice texture and is packed full of nutrients. You can use hazelnuts too. Any nut that won’t go soggy when baked is okay. Usually, brownies call for a large amount of butter, and I’m replacing that with pure, extra-virgin coconut oil, because I like the flavor batter. You can of-course use grass-fed butter. I have also replaced some of the eggs with just egg whites. And last, but not least, the chocolate, has to be a good quality dark chocolate. If you use anything more that 70% cocoa, the bitter taste is going to come through. As we don’t add sugar, this might be a bit over powering, but again, if you are fan of bitter chocolate, no problem there!

protein brownie
Protein brownie slab

Experiment with adding other super foods, but be aware of the sugar to protein ratio. Even though we don’t add sugar as is, natural food contain sugar too. Try to keep sugar level down and increase the fiber, to make it low-GI.

These can be kept in an air tight container at room temperature for a day or two in cooler weather, but keep them refrigerated to preserve for longer.

Protein brownie bar

snacks

Servings: a dozen

protein brownie

Ingredients

  • 125 g coconut oil
  • 125 g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 scoops of chocolate flavored protein powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • A handful of chopped walnuts”

Instructions

  1. Prepare a brownie pan (9” by ‘9’) by lining it with baking paper
  2. Preheat oven to 180 C
  3. Melt dark chocolate and coconut over a double boiler
  4. Lightly beat eggs and egg whites with vanilla and apple sauce
  5. Once the chocolate is melted, add the egg mixture followed by the dry ingredients
  6. Mix until just combined and fold in the nuts, do not over mix as this will make brownies tougher
  7. Pour into the prepared tin and bake until done for about 20 – 30 minutes
  8. Top should be completely dry and when pressed lightly, the center should feel soft but not runny
  9. It will continue to cook and set while its cooling down
  10. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars/squares
  11. Refrigerate in an air tight container
https://myloveofbaking.com/protein-brownie-bar/
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