Rye Matcha Pillow Pancakes

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The weekend was high in spirit, holding hope, a promising virtue and nighttime sin. Last night was spent with some people I love most, reunited with the family, a boy I could have only dreamed of meeting (more than a year ago now), relatives, simple, delicious homemade food.

Having the chance to show someone around my own town is most rejuvenating. There is no better way to appreciate and undertake fresh perspective on your roots. Dig deep into why you may think and behave the way you do. There is something deeper to uncover about oneself, something untouched when smothered by the happenings of everyday life, necessary communication and work.

A few travel shots from a recent trip to Bangkok and more Singapore fun before I proceed any further with my recipe for these glorious pancakes, which are like a fudgy matcha brownie in pancake form.

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Another Hound café nestled in the busyness of Siam Paragon, Bangkok. Draping lights and my favourite colour scheme.
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And our favourite drink there– earl grey lime iced tea. There was a frigid ball of pure tea and syrup which melted to constantly produce a refreshing, distinct flavour.
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We visited a plane cemetery far away from the city on a highway. It was magical and unbelievable to see dangling oxygen masks and half open overhead compartments, ravaged by the natural course of time. 

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The apple speculoos affogato at The Affogato Bar. Soft, small chunks of cinnamony apple and a strong hit of espresso. An almost acidic strength is necessary for a good affogato, I believe. 
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Fun at The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough (shoutout to Charlie for introducing this gem of a nook to me). I especially appreciate how they have vegan specials (usually on the weekends) and freshly baked, delicious, well-risen sourdough loaves every single day. Well-crafted sin.

Pancakes. That’s where it’s at. Usually tops a Saturday or Sunday for me, with that little bit of extra time permitting for lavish topping upon topping, pillowy layer on pillowy layer, dense and juuuuust done in the middle. Height and splendor. Maple syrup, coconut yoghurt and tahini are my favourite final touches. Maybe tear them up into shreds and douse with milk in a bowl. That’s just the sort of thing I would do, but mind you there are no obligations, because you would be the more rational human being.

Each rye pancake is hearty without being heavy, and I decided to inject mine with a little protein powder, the sort of bodybuilding stuff I would never use in a million years, but the kind folks behind Jimmyjoy’s Plennyshake offered me some and I’m not turning back because this stuff is definitely worth it. Check them out, I implore ya. Neither too sweet, nor does it feel unnecessary. It adds a nice prick of protein without any weird artificial flavour. All vegan, all good. The earthy matcha complements the moist and earthy offering of rye. Rye can tend to be a little sour if used too much, but the flavours here are balanced and refined.

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Rye Matcha Pillow Pancakes (makes 5 medium pancakes)

Ingredients

90g dark rye flour

A half tsp each of baking powder and baking soda

2 heaped tsp protein powder (optional)

2 tsp matcha powder

2 tsp coconut/ white sugar

14g melted vegan butter, plus some extra to grease the pan

half a banana, mashed

100ml plant milk of your choice (I used almond)

 

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Dollop tablespoonfuls of the batter onto a pan heated on medium heat. Flip once the underside is done and cook the second side for another minute before removing and letting rest on a paper towel. Top with whatever you wish– I topped mine with vegan chocolate ice cream, crushed rice cakes I hauled from Bangkok (YUM), more matcha and strawberries.

Spotted Brown Sugar Peanut Butter Loaf Cake

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Simon and Garfunkel– Cecilia. Now I’m ready.

It feels good to just sit and write, even if it’s something completely unrelated to course content. The mind can think and meander, explore different routes, modes, moods. Creative inspiration seems much more inclined to approach a weary mind when you’re willing to let a bunch of different feelings and experiences coalesce. To just let yourself go.

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Fluffy, moist brown sugar pound cake ‘spotted’ with dark brown sugar bits, peanut butter and chocolate spread. 

I personally have nothing against the word moist, which I think describes this perfectly, along with sweet, treacly and buttery. Are those last 3 ok? I actually recently read an article on word aversion which I could fully relate to. I have zero aversions to any word. I just love English. And words. But I do have an aversion to word aversion.

Right smack in the middle of exam season, and everyone is jostling in the library. Noses to books, noses to screens, pen to paper. I can feel the heat emanating from everyone’s bright and burning brains almost immediately upon stepping foot in the silent arena. A battle zone of books. There seems to be little time for anything now, but having just a little time in the kitchen to experiment has become a priority to me. The other day I came across a well-known brown sugar pound cake recipe by one of my favourite lady bakers, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity, when it struck unexpectedly one free day, to give it a go and perhaps see where my creative endeavours led me down the road.

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I used an especially dark, treacly, molasses-y brown sugar (oh, what is English?). You’re probably wondering what’s with the ‘spotty’ label, and I figured that the picture right above provided an appropriate example– something which arose from chance rather than prediction. You take thick chunks of sticky dark brown sugar, and crumble it with your hands. The result? Some larger chunks (not too large) some sandy pools, some little peas.

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You make the batter, pour half into the pan, dot with blobs of peanut butter (I used all-natural chunky) and chocolate spread, spread on the other half, BAKE.

I term this ‘loaf cake’ instead of ‘pound cake’ because I did have to modify the recipe a little with the quantity of brown sugar I used. The ‘spotted’ factor makes it all the more rich without being sickly. The rise and density of the loaf is spot on. Though it doesn’t have quite the same sharp crust as my favourite-ever banana bread recipe, the flavour is there, all you want and more. There’s a real nice split down the middle as it bakes, relatively even, revealing a little of the sticky, soft inside. Like the formation of the primitive streak during gastrulation in embryo formation. Hope that didn’t sound too weird.

You might die of joy from the smell, but then you’ll take a bite. Life, welcomed. Relish all the fused flavours, all that nutty, brown sugary goodness, hit the tender middle with speckles of brown sugar and chocolate and peanut butter which seeps right into the batter. Pick at the caramelised edges and tops, which are always the best bits.

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Spotted Brown Sugar Peanut Butter Loaf Cake (makes one 9×5-inch loaf, adapted from Yossy’s brown sugar pound cake)

Ingredients

200g (a little more than 1 1/2 cups; used slightly more than stated in the original recipe) flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 eggs

110g (1/2 cup) white caster sugar

220g (1 cup) dark brown sugar, the darkest you can find at your store, packed

200g (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk

3 heaping tbsp peanut butter of choice

3 heaping tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 170C (325F). Butter your loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate, larger bowl, whisk together the softened butter (has to be soft!!) and white sugar. You could use an electrical whisk here if you wish as well, but I just like to use a standard wire whisk. Take your brown sugar and crumble it into the butter and white sugar mix, leaving some large and some small clumps. Whisk briefly so as not to break up those larger lumps.

Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Pour the dry mix into the wet, add the milk, then whisk everything together. Pour half of this batter into your loaf pan, then dollop blobs of peanut butter and hazelnut spread on top. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes; take out when a wooden skewer inserted in the middle has moist (and peanut buttery) crumbs clinging to it. Leave to cool, then serve. As the original recipe states, wrap and store this at room temperature for 4 days (mine just didn’t last as long; thank you fellow floor mates).

Perfect for breakfast, tea, those tiny breaks between lectures. Ho yes.

Kaya Maple Loaf Cake

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If I had to choose the one local breakfast item I miss most from Singapore, it would have have have to be good, buttered kaya toast. Made complete with a steaming, frothy cup of teh tarik and half-boiled eggs. Thinking about it is already making me salivate.

Kaya toast to me is the epitome of simplicity done right– warm, charred white toast, the crusts traditionally, almost clinically removed with a sharp serrated knife, slathered thickly and unevenly with unsalted butter and a thick layer of homemade kaya. For those of you who do not know, kaya is basically coconut jam. A creamy, sweet, thick curd made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar. Some days I want butter and marmalade on my toast, others warrant almond butter, honey and banana, and sometimes it’s all about good old butter and kaya. The latter occasion has greatly increased in frequency.

This kaya loaf cake made with olive oil and maple syrup is your favourite local breakfast in one big warm hug of a loaf. It’s :

  • sweet, earthy, tender
  • such a breeze to make!!
  • got the most amazing sweet and crusty top
  • heaven in the morning
  • actually your new wake-up call

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It’s one of the most moist, dense (in a good way) and tender loaf cakes I’ve baked in a while, undoubtedly due to the texture of kaya itself, as well as the addition of olive oil, dark brown sugar and maple syrup.

The components all possess deep, earthy, sensual undertones which complement each other fantastically, the dark brown sugar providing a hint of molasses, the kaya’s almost-fluffy consistency offering milky sweetness and volume. I used nyonya kaya (couldn’t find the traditional brand on Amazon; the link I provide is the closest I could find but you should be able to find it at any oriental supermarket), but Hainanese kaya, which uses caramelised sugar and sometimes honey and is brown instead of green, would work perfectly too.

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Kaya Maple Loaf Cake (makes one standard 9×5-inch loaf), based loosely off my banana bread recipe

Ingredients

190g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

one generous pinch salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup

1 cup kaya (no metric measurement eek– you should be fine!)

2 eggs

120g (1/2 cup, packed) dark brown sugar

2 tbsp plain yoghurt (I used coconut yoghurt for extra pizzaz, but you don’t have to go that far)

120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crusty top: 2 tbsp dark brown sugar+ 1 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease (line as well if you wish) a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, whisk together everything else except the ingredients for the crusty top. Pour the dry mix into this wet mix and stir everything together well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour the thick, green-tinged mix into your greased loaf tin– the batter should appear quite wet and not very lumpy (like a typical banana bread batter). Mix the topping ingredients briefly with a fork in a small saucer and sprinkle evenly on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 50 minutes, then remove and let cool for at least a half hour before slicing. Any leftovers can be stored at room temperature for 3-5 days, or kept in the fridge for a week. It’s wonderful toasted on its own, with a smear of salted butter and hot coffee.

 

 

 

Try This Toast Combination Now

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to give up on a lot. But fret not, for you’ll have a slice of toast that will get you over that hump.

It’s the perfect little snack, or breakfast if you have a birdy appetite, like me on some days. I can attest to its pre-yoga workout effectiveness. Energy boosting, almost wholesome. Here is a slice of whole wheat toast, half slathered in tahini, maple syrup and salt, half with a generous coat of butter and marmalade. 

The second bit is a classic, the sort of thing you might fall back on at an endless breakfast buffet (or if you’re a plain old novice). I love love love butter and jam on most days, and some days it’s good old almond/peanut butter, honey and a pinch of maldon salt. Today demanded a switch in routine, and so this was born.

Directions (because the ‘Ingredients’ bit isn’t necessary, right?)

Take one slice of any sort of bread you like (preferable whole wheat, sourdough or a dark rye), and toast in your toaster. Cut in half any which way, then top half with butter and marmalade (or jam, if you don’t have any marmalade, but marmalade is still the best option!), and the other half with tahini, maple syrup, and  apinch of coarse salt (Maldon). Eat the halves separately or, for optimal pleasure, sandwich together and bite. Savour that crunch, then the nuttiness mixing with the sweet jammy middle. A tick of salt at the end. Savour, swallow, maybe repeat.

Breakfast Special: Try This Now

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The gap in your knowledge must be filled. Certain Eureka! moments cannot, must not cease to be conveyed to the masses (however small my audience is; don’t want to sound all high and mighty here). I like discoveries and surprises, be it with regard to random tidbits of information I come across on the net or in books, or when I put two and two together in the kitchen and suddenly I get five but it works. Unless you dislike bananas or yoghurt or, well, butternut squash (sigh), I’m (almost) on my knees begging you to put the three together.

What you see above, friends, is really a simple construction: a thick slice of the bestest, moistest, chocolate chip banana bread cut in half and stacked, topped with homemade butternut squash candy puree (oh you just wait), drizzled with plain yoghurt, and a crumbled leftover brownie. I have already posted the recipe for two of those components, the only thing left is the squash candy purée. I learnt the recipe from a family member, after watching her cook the stuff and label it a ‘Filipino delight’. It was a little hard to adapt this because she doesn’t measure anything, however after just one spoonful of the delightful stuff, I can see why she does it the way she does– it’s all according to taste, and how sweet your butternut squashes are in the first place. What you get is a rich, thick, sweet plateful of orange purée. It’s like a healthy orh nee, or yam paste, but with a distinct squash flavour and undertones of coconut!

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You may find the recipes for the moist banana bread (the recipe yields a plain loaf, but I threw in a cup of chocolate chips for extra goo and decadence; the chocolate also makes the perfect pairing with the banana here) and the brownie here and here. The brownie recipe was written to incorporate an additional cream cheese swirl, but I used salted caramel in place of that this time. Bits and bobs of sweet, salty goo. You may also leave that out, or you may wish to leave out the brownie component altogether, which would be just as sublime (see pictures right above).

Butternut Squash Candy Purée (makes enough for 2 servings)

one large butternut squash

240ml water

200-240ml coconut milk

3-5 tablespoons of light/dark brown sugar (range is due to difference in taste and the natural sweetness of the butternut squash you have on hand)

half teaspoon of salt

In a heavyset saucepan, add the water, salt and butternut squash, turn on the heat and let everything come to a boil. This will take around 10-15 minutes. Once boiled and the butternut squash is soft and tender, use a large spoon or potato masher and mash the butternut squash in with the water. Reduce the heat a little to medium and add the coconut milk once most of the water has evaporated. At this point, add however much sugar you want, according to taste. Mix on medium heat for another 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Pour into a container and let cool before serving. I personally think this is best served cold, so if you wish, make this a day ahead and scoop it right out of the fridge the following morning.

Assembly: Take one slice of moist banana bread, top with the cold (or hot) squash purée, then drizzle on some plain yoghurt (vanilla or Greek works well), and top with broken bits of brownie.