Blueberry Danish+ exciting news

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

New season of the Great British Bakeoff? Yeah, almost started sweating. Just so happened that the dawn of another exciting slew of episodes coincided with my mum’s genius decision to buy the ever-charismatic Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake cookbook. So there I was, eagerly thumbing through, and I finally settled on his recipe for raspberry danishes. Having never experimented with proper danish pastry before, I figured it only wise to follow his method step by step, in true apprentice fashion. Tweaked it a little to use the ripe, slightly tart blueberries I had instead, and dressed it up with homemade frangipane and a salted caramel glaze instead of the stated recipe’s citrus-based one. I now fully understand why people labour over laminated dough; all those hours folding, pressing and refrigerating are truly worth it in the end. The result proved to be gold– flaky, golden pastry, buttery and beautiful. Not much sugar needed, just let the dough do the talking. Anyone who’s keen on trying laminated dough, be it this/ croissants/ pain au chocolat etc, should definitely try this take (this is easier if you live in a cold country, but if not, please make sure that air-con is on full blast!)

Before I get on with the details and modifications, I want to share something pretty exciting with you. Ever since kindergarten I’ve always wanted to write a book, be it on something big or small, short or long, personal or informative. There’s something about holding a book– reading, absorbing, loving it, that beats few other physical and mental experiences. Having finished a recent research internship that served well to enhance this innate lust for creative and relatable matter, I was immediately compelled to start. Though I shan’t disclose any details, I do plan to include a few new surprise recipes in this personal project!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Blueberry Danish with a Salted Caramel drizzle (makes about 25 pastries)

Ingredients

For the dough: 

one batch of Paul Hollywood’s Danish pastry dough 

 

For the frangipane (adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Bostock’ recipe):

50g (2/3 cup) whole, raw almonds

100g (1/2 cup) granulated white sugar

85g (6 tbsp) softened, unsalted butter

1 egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

3/4 teaspoon salt

 

For the salted caramel drizzle:

50g (around a half cup) white sugar

47g salted (!!) butter

1 1/2 tsp fine salt

120ml (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream (either single or double is fine)

 

Extras:

a punnet of fresh blueberries, to be used before and after baking.

4 heaping tbsp of marmalade

 

Directions

Make the dough according to Paul’s instructions (so perfect for beginner’s and what a wonderful result you’ll yield!). Top tip: make sure you’re in a cool environment, to prevent any of all that butter from melting. Preserve the future of your unbaked dough.

Modifications:

During the last fridge prove, preheat your oven to 200C and start on the frangipane and salted caramel for the drizzle. For the frangipane, process the almonds and sugar  together in a food processor until you get a texture close to coarse meal. Add the rest of the frangipane ingredients and blend until smooth.

For the salted caramel, heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon. Continue to do so until all the sugar melts into a pool of dark, glossy amber liquid. Once this stage is reached, add the salted butter. It’s a pretty vigorous reaction, this one. Stir with spoon to help the melting process. Once all the butter has melted, slowly add in heavy whipping cream. This part is even more vigorous that the previous one; it will spit and rise as it starts to boil. Let the mixture boil like this for another minute before taking the pan off the heat. Let cool for another couple minutes before stirring in the salt. For the icing, mix with enough icing sugar so you get a thin drizzling consistency.

Once the dough has finished proving in the fridge, ready around 3 baking pans and cut out some parchment paper to fit each. Remove the dough from the fridge, lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough till it’s about 7-8mm thick. With the help of a ruler, cut out squares measuring 7x7cm. At each corner, use a sharp knife to cut diagonally towards the centre, about 3cm in. You should get what looks like a box with 4 straight scores running from each of the 4 corners, without any of the lines overlapping since you don’t cross the middle. Take one corner and fold it towards the middle, then alternate with the remaining 7 corners, so you end up with a 4-segmented parcel. Put a teaspoon of frangipane on each pastry, then plop 2-3 fresh blueberries on top. Beat an egg and brush the exposed pastry with the egg wash.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Once out, brush with warmed marmalade (simply warm the marmalade in the microwave for 20 seconds), then drizzle on the salted caramel icing. Add more fresh blueberries, and devour immediately or soon. These can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days, just remember to toast before consuming.

 

 

 

Pandan Waffles

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Really a pretty great thing.

After a long day at the lab (currently participating in a long but fascinating internship involving incredibly novel anticancer research, and I couldn’t be more grateful at this point in time), I relished a wholesome family dinner, then tried to resist a nighttime urge to bake, or do anything at all in the kitchen. As usual, I failed miserably.

I don’t like to stick to a certain theme more than once or twice at a go, but after making kaya mochi just a few days ago, there lingered the odd inclination to play around with one of my favourite childhood spreads once again. Kaya, if you don’t know already, is the most delicious South East Asian coconut pandan spread, which to me is right on par with drippy, sweet, delicious almond butter or a lovingly homemade marmalade– yes it’s that sublime. Pandan is the tropical leaf from which kaya is made from. Earthy, sticky, sweet. There are lots of made-for-toast spreads out there that I adore, but kaya is childhood, kaya is rich nonchalance. What I spread on my burnt toast with butter, each bite a sticky mess of equal parts green and white (from unmelted butter).

This recipe is based on one of my favourite personal recipes– soda water waffles! Clickidy click that link for a classic version, or if you don’t really have a thing for kaya/anything pandan-flavoured. It’s the soda water that breathes life into the batter, added just before the kiss of heat, making the final result as light and airy as ever. Another perk? Made using sweet potato flour as a rather haphazard and weird experiment, it’s entirely gluten-free. Haphazard because this is my first time experimenting with sweet potato flour, which is one of the finest, almost delicate flours I’ve come across. Everything made with it will be of a relatively thin consistency, permeated with an au natural chew. Definitely looking into using it more, for what I’m not sure just yet; I’m only excited to incorporate more gluten-free options to accommodate any of you coeliacs out there. Of course, you can substitute this with normal flour, and this will yield a slightly less chewy and probably more refined-looking waffle. Indeed, this isn’t the prettiest of waffles, but goodness the outside crisp is outrageous. The chew on this is also slightly ridiculous, and funnily enough reminds me of that kaya mochi I made not too long ago. An eerie similarity resulting from subconscious fashioning of the past. Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Pandan waffles (makes 6-7 thin Swedish waffles, modified from here)

Ingredients

240g sweet potato flour (substitute with 200g all-purpose flour)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk of choice (I used almond)

3 heaping tbsp store-bought or homemade kaya

1 drop pandan extract (bought at your local oriental store)

80g melted, unsalted butter

1 cup soda water

 

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients– flour, leavening agents, salt and sugar. Add the egg, milk, pandan extract, melted butter, kaya, and lastly, the soda water. Cook in the preheated iron according to the iron’s instructions. In my Sevren waffle maker, it took 4-5 minutes before the edges went crisp and golden.

These freeze wonderfully. Let the waffles cool on a cooling rack, before layering them with pieces of parchment between each waffle so they don’t stick together when you take them out the next morning. The next morning, take them out, microwave for 20 seconds, then stick in the toaster until golden and crisp again. Go wonderfully with banana, anything coconut-themed (I used coconut sugar), and peanut butter!

Oatmeal Date Pancakes

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Straight up, no fuss.

Post-flight mornings warrant simplicity. Being back in Singapore is still very surreal– everything still feels the same, yet somehow different. Anyways. 13-hour flights typically leave me feeling a little bloated, distended, out of sorts. So all I want to come home to is my morning ritual comprising the papers, iced coffee, and a standard bowl of my favourite banana-based oatmeal. Yet somehow this morning I opted out of this bowl ritual in favour of something more texturally interesting. I craved that same fluffy texture, but it needed a robust edge. Heck, just something with edges. It needed fork and knife action.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Was intrigued by why I favour oatmeal over other breakfast foods some days, or just when I’m especially hungry in the morning. It’s well known that the stuff keeps you feeling fuller for longer, but it’s only recently that I discovered that it has to do with a particular fluid property: viscosity. It’s the viscosity of oatmeal, that sticky, runny texture it has like glycocalyx on epithelial cells, that provides the feeling of satiety. Specifically, it’s the degree of initial viscosity in the mouth and subsequent viscosity in the GI tract that influences the release of appetite hormones. A high initial and subsequent viscosity, apparently best provided with instant oatmeal, will prolong fullness. My current favourite oatmeal is this one. It’s incredibly voluminous, nutritious and chock full of texture.

It’s all almost a bit silly. A good silly. Why would you straight up fry a perfectly good bowl of oatmeal? Oh, the wonders of a little pan action. The frying provides a crisp outside, while the inside remains fluffy and a little chewy, depending on how you cook the oats in the first place. The torn up bits of dates provide a good deal of goo and sweetness in each little pancake. These oatmeal pancakes are the halfway mark for proper versions of either oatmeal or pancakes, and I’m ok with that sometimes.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Oatmeal Date pancakes (serves 1; makes 4-5 mini pancakes)

Directions

Make one serving of your favourite porridge or old-fashioned oatmeal: In a bowl, mash up half a banana, then add 45-50g (around a half cup) of porridge or old-fashioned oats, half a cup of milk of choice (I adore almond), and half a cup of water. Alternatively, you could use either just milk or water for the liquid bit. Preheat a pan on medium heat and ready some butter. Cook the mixture over the stove or in a microwave until you get the consistency you like. I like to microwave mine for 2 minutes, let stand for 30 seconds, then microwave again for another minute to achieve the perfect, just-under-thick consistency. Take out your oatmeal and stir in a pinch of cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar.

Once cooked, add a knob of butter to the hot pan and let sizzle. The butter should not brown or burn, indicating the right temperature. Ladle spoonfuls of oatmeal onto the pan and use the back of the spoon to flatten into a circle if it’s on the thicker side (as I like mine). Add the bits of date (optional) to the surface of the batter. Let cook for 2 minutes, then slide a spatula underneath to see if it’s done. Flip and let the second side cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove using the spatula and let cool on a paper towel while you cook the rest.

Serve as a stack, topped with peanut butter, more date bits, and maple syrup. I added some homemade raspberry chia jam for some tangy oomph.

 

Double Banana Pillow Pancakes

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Pancakes are easy science. There’s really nothing more to them than mixing your wet with your dry, then plopping spoonfuls into a hot pan. You’re done in a few minutes, happier than the heavens with a drizzle of good maple and all the toppings your heart desires.

Fluffy pillow pancakes made with mashed banana, studded with soft banana coins. 

Your usual dose of weekend fluff, heavily inspired by these babes. I remember really enjoying the addition of mashed banana to the actual batter in this particular recipe, and it’s hard to imagine I made them that long ago. I wanted to recreate that pleasurable experience in a different light– something more straightforward but still just as moreish.

There’s a lot of fun in making a ‘double’ anything. Because that means 2 dimensions. It means depth, intensity. No space or time for something normal. I mean normal can be good, and tradition is bliss sometimes, but a little extra oomph is love and light, too. Adding the banana coins before flipping the pancakes cooks and softens them a little, remodelling your little stack into something with additional texture, a little hint of caramelisation perfusing each bite . Soft banana bits all cosied up in fluff.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Double Banana Pillow Pancakes (makes 12 medium pancakes)

Follow the recipe for my double chocolate banana pillow pancakes, but leave out the cocoa powder, and have a couple additional bananas on hand to slice into coins. Place 2-3 banana coins onto the batter after ladling the pancake batter into your pan, before flipping to cook the second side.

Highly recommended to eat this with greek yoghurt, chocolate shards, peanut butter, and plenty of maple syrup. This is your morning.

 

One Bowl Banana Coconut Mini Bundts

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Sitting here at midnight, only thinking about the transience of so much. Day by day, shadows work their way around my feet. Before I’ve even come to terms with fact that term time is almost up, people in other unis have started summer, champagne bottles are being popped. Hyperactivity everywhere.

With all the frantic house-hunting and exam stress (and worrying over the efficacy of actual study technique), there’s comfort in the close strong bonds you know you always have with loved ones, and the smell of something warm and sugary rising in the oven. I knew I had to use my one precious, scratched mini bundt pan at some point before the end of first term. I hauled all my stuff from Singapore for a reason, right? Yeah, it’s been a while, but mea culpa.

Before I move on, a few things that’ve caught my eye this week. I do feel more inclined to share what I read regularly on this platform, which is pretty much everything nutrition/science-related:

Fascinating

Darya keeps linking the best, most informative and relevant articles

‘good science writing is not just about about turning over conventional wisdom about complex things.’ So much yes.

Love this man. A great retelling

And now.

DSC_4155Processed with VSCO with f2 presetDSC_4161Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The fluffiest, softest mini cakes you will ever make, stuffed with mashed banana, topped with a coconut milk icing.

Now with blogging comes honesty. I’m not kidding when I add the ‘you will ever make’ bit, because they really truly are.  I just can’t kid when it comes to this sort of thing. Despite its ease and speed, this recipe has yielded the softest cake texture I have attempted by far. Stuff of cloudy dreams. I hate overhyping something, but the excitement is all too real right now. THE absolute best bit?

It’s all made in one bowl, just a bit of mixing, no elbow grease or sweat or fiddling whatsoever. No worrying about whether you have to ‘make time’, because you will have the time.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

These little cakes really are quite special. Perhaps it’s the irresistible fluff factor, or the mashed banana in the middle, making it a triple-layer banana hit. Probably both, not forgetting the slightly balmy, creamy addition of coconut. The next time I make these, I’ll add more coconut extract for an extra exotic kick. The delicacy of the crumb in this cake deserves the trueness of flavour.

You definitely don’t need a mini bundt pan for these, and can do the same thing in a mini muffin tin, or spread the batter in a square tin and bake for the same amount of time, then cut little squares/whatever your wild heart desires out of the final product.

And if you’re in the mood for more…

Feeling like cookie butter?

Or perhaps a little lemony?

Clearly I’ve run out of humour.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

One Bowl Banana Coconut Mini Bundts with Coconut Icing (makes 12-14 mini cakes)

Ingredients

For the cakes:

60g soft, unsalted butter

1 1/2 mashed bananas (should amount to a half cup)

an additional 2 mashed bananas for the filling

225g (1 cup) white sugar

2 eggs

60ml each of coconut cream and coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

190g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour mixed with a half tsp of baking powder (alternatively, use self-raising flour)

quarter teaspoon of salt

 

For the coconut milk icing:

2-3 tbsp coconut cream (or use coconut milk)

75g icing sugar

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and butter your mini cake/bundt/muffin tin. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter and mashed banana together in a microwave to add a little caramelised effect to your already-ripe bananas, around 20 seconds. Pour contents into a larger bowl (makes mixing a bit easier later on), then add all the other ingredients for the cake, except for the 2 mashed bananas which you need for the filling afterwards.

Spoon a tablespoonful of batter into the bottom of a well in your tin, add a teaspoon of mashed banana in the middle, then fill the rest of the well with batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes (mine were fine at 18). Whilst they are baking, mix the icing ingredients in a bowl and set aside. It’s hard to test for doneness due to the moist banana filling, but a little poke into the sides with a wooden skewer should reveal a mostly clean tip. A few moist crumbs clinging to the tip are fine; these cakes are pretty fragile and need to rest in the tin for a good 20 minutes before removing anyway.

If using a mini bundt pan, use a serrated knife to cut the tops off (these make wonderful little snacks). Loosen the edges with a blunt knife (just use a normal dinner knife), then tip the pan over to remove the little cakes. You don’t need to do this if using a normal muffin or cake tin. Drizzle with the coconut icing and top with coconut flakes. Fragile, sugarplum fairy-esque teatime treats await.