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.

London Eats: Friends Of Ours

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It’s official– my love and passion for french toast overrides that for so many other things in my life. It’s just not on. But at the same time, some flaws should be embraced. Hence my decision to do a conclusive write-up some time in the future on my favourite french toast places here in London!

Starting with the lovely little Friends of Ours. Goodness have I missed writing about these café adventures. Judgement will be based on:

  • that lovely saturation in the middle of sufficiently-thick bread slices
  • browning
  • usage and appropriateness of toppings

Though I won’t be able to write about every single place I try, the conclusive write-up will comprise my main favourites, so keep an eye out for that.

There’s something special about making a gala out of little trips like this. Yeah, there’s something special about making a very big deal out of your favourite food in the entire world.

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This little hideaway is adorable. Unpretentious, cosy, with service that can’t be beat. Fresh pastries and sandwiches adorn the counter, and though I’m no proper coffee expert, my affinity for long blacks has earned me some sort of coffee brew intelligent quotient, and the cuppa that greeted me seriously hit the spot.

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Organic brioche french toast, roasted pears with rosemary and vanilla, clotted cream and shortbread crumble– £8.50

Long black– £2.20

What. A pretty picture. A slice of perfect thickness. The eggy, nicely-browned crust and exterior made me envision the battered slice hitting the heat of the pan, cooking thoroughly and quickly. Would have preferred a slightly more saturated and moist middle, but that’s really only because I like the texture to reach the point whereby there’s no problem flaking off bites with a fork. Almost ‘raw’, one could say. The roasted pear was tender and flavourful, offering sweet tangy notes to the bready base. So much more impressive than that served at another café I visited recently (here was hardly any on the plate and what was served was so cooked down that ‘saccharine’ would be a severe understatement as a description).

That, the shortbread crumble and clotted cream are what made every bite truly indulgent. Creamy, crunchy, soft. The toast itself provided a good medium for all the flavours to work together well. If anything, a more citrusy option or additive to this french toast would propel it to greater heights. Looked at the menu again, and cursed myself for only having one stomach. I’m dying to return just for that coconut rice pudding (how good does that sound?) or eggs. More coffee, of course.

Made my way to Shoreditch, freezing and hopeful. What I had warmed my stomach and heart. Hurry down to try their gorgeous brunch fare and coffee, armed with a good read. The solo, well-spaced tables and chairs make it easy to lose yourself in your thoughts or focus on some work.

Friends of Ours

61 Pitfield St, London N1 6BU

Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm

Sat: 9am-5pm

Sun: 10am-5pm

Spiced Nutella-stuffed Matcha Baked Doughnuts

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The longest flight cannot deter me from the baking buzz. Oh, sweet, unfailing kitchen and oven!

All at once, 2015 is behind my shoulder, at the top of my head, and heavy in my heart. As I was scrolling through my old posts and reading my personal diary, I realised how important and special this little place has become to me– never did I think it would grow into such a shrine of my passion. I’ve sometimes blurred the line between personal thought (which explains the existence of my diary, something I’ve kept for 10 years and counting!) and just rambling on about cake and anything to do with sugar, but I’ve learnt to embrace that once in a while, and it’s only enhanced my excitement over writing about anything in general. With a long, hard year ahead, I’m determined to keep it close, despite all the work I know I will face during the long run.

I don’t think this post would be complete without a little more on the main inspiration behind this recipe– Japan!

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Amazing food, small kitsch gadgets, overwhelming magnanimity. If there’s a country that’s got tourism down pat, it’s the Land of the Rising Sun. Oh, and not forgetting heated toilet seats. Really. That’s always a plus.

Afterwards– a solid, foreign calm. Back to the heat, the familiarity of my favourite tiny island, though admittedly, and as a friend put it so well, it feels so weird not to be held accountable for anything anymore, then suddenly be thrust into the routine of family fun. It does require some getting used to.

The taste of Japanese food after a good 3 months without the stuff was almost a spiritual experience. Just imagine– the freshest uni possible (mildly rough texture that gives way to buttery insides, mmph), slippery, thick slices of fresh pink otoro (fatty tuna), and of course… green tea.

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Green tea kit kat, green tea mochi, green tea… everything, really. We came across so many different varieties of matcha (the finely ground powder of specially grown green tea) chocolates, in other words the main inspiration for the final product:

fluffy matcha baked doughnuts, stuffed with nutella and covered in a matcha glaze.

You see it, I see it. It’s got all the goods, and anything stuffed with chocolate/hazelnut chocolate spread is a win. Based off my previous recipe for maple bacon doughnuts (I implore you to try these at some point in your life as well), the results were lush– fluffy, cake-like doughnut base, a slight twang of sponge in there, gooey nutella in the middle, and a glaze that speaks loudly of matcha instead of simply being a sugar overload.

The addition of spice is simply my excuse for not being around during Christmas do indulge in the usual Christmas baking routine, but it adds another level of flavour that propels this simple recipe to something that much more festive. By all means, leave the spices out if you prefer a more straightforward chocolate-matcha pairing.There’s something about the pairing of the mild bitterness present in all that matcha, and rich milky hazelnut chocolate that’s unbeatable on a Sunday afternoon, coffee and book in hand. Right, let’s do this.

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Spiced Nutella-stuffed Matcha Baked Doughnuts (makes 6 doughnuts)

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

75g (1/3 cup) white sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

120ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

28g (2 tbsp) unsalted, melted butter

~1/3 jar of nutella/melted dark chocolate (the quantity is up to you)

 

For the matcha glaze:

115g icing sugar

1 tsp matcha powder

2 1/2 tbsp whole milk

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C and grease a doughnut pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, matcha powder and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. (tip: it helps to have all your ingredient at room temperature for even, stress-free mixing). Tip your dry mix into the wet mix and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until everything is well combined.

Take a tablespoon of batter and place at the bottom of a doughnut mold, spreading so it coats the bottom (you don’t want too many chocolate leaks) and goes about halfway up the side. Using two teaspoons or a piping bag (or use a small ziploc bag with the tip cut off), line the middle of each doughnut with nutella/any chocolate spread or even melted chocolate. Do this 6 times for 6 doughnuts, then place the molds in the preheated oven and bake for exactly 8 minutes. I find that the shape and size of the doughnuts are perfect if you fill the molds 3/4 of the way with batter, rather than all the way. Once you take them out of the oven, the doughnuts will feel soft and tender to the touch, with a gentle rise and the gentlest browning on top. Leave them to cool on a cooling rack while you make the icing (thankfully, it doesn’t take long).

For that, simply whisk together the icing ingredients and set aside to use once the doughnuts are cool, else it will melt everywhere. After 10 minutes, remove the doughnuts from their molds,and dip one side into the bowl containing the matcha icing, then place right way up again on the cooling rack to let any excess icing drip down the sides.

Eat right away, or store in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 1-2 days, or the fridge for up to 4 days. The sooner, the better!

London Breakfast Diary

After a week with the family in London, I spent almost 4 whole days traipsing around town with a good friend searching out breakfast and brunch spots. Though we didn’t manage to eat our way through the city entirely, I was satisfied after each little adventure, assured of accomplishment, eager for new sunlight to signal another stomach-filling session.

Ozone Coffee Roasters' flat white and gluten-free orange almond cake
Ozone Coffee Roasters’ flat white and gluten-free orange almond cake

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A personal favourite. Sitting in the corner of the wood-tiled, pseudo-industrial interior, I sipped on a delicious, creamy flat white, and nibbled on an unexpectedly pleasing orange and almond cake, grainless at that, although the white frosting got a little sickening after a while. Expect only the hippest coffee customers here, and ready your laptop or a good book.

Granger and Co's ricotta hot cakes
Granger and Co’s ricotta hot cakes and bircher muesli

Only the fluffiest in London, with pockets of ricotta, honeycomb butter and lashings of maple syrup to make it all the more carnal. My flat white was on the more bland and milky side, and it’s hard to hear yourself sometimes, with a few tables nuzzled up against one another. It might even be a little hard to call over a waiter, what with the gazillion Hermes bags swishing everywhere, dangled off the thin arms of the blonde and beautiful. But these pancakes, right?? Come on. They’ve got heart and soul and rhythm. This bircher muesli was also a star in its own right– sweet, tangy, and creamy.

SUNDAY Café: Foreground– French toast with bruleed  banana, creme fraiche and caramel Background– Portobello and poached egg on homemade sourdough
SUNDAY Café: Foreground– French toast with bruleed banana, creme fraiche and caramel
Background– Portobello mushroom and poached egg on homemade sourdough

Sunday is one of those places which you just don’t want to leave because it’s so darn pretty, with the cosiest outdoor garden dining area and a lush, warm interior. The cook on everything was sublime, although I have had better French toast; this one wasn’t sufficiently saturated and the caramel was rendered glass-like and brittle. That aside, I can definitely see myself here a lot in the future, because the staff make it feel like you’ve known them long before, and their cakes (we tried the lemon iced pound cake) are stupendous. They’re the sort of the people you want to see, and the sort you want to see improve, if need be the case.

Piccolo and the best ever lemon pistachio cake from APPESTAT Café in Islington
Piccolo and the best ever lemon pistachio cake from APPESTAT Café in Islington

Ah, Appestat. And how fitting a name, because it did readily whet my appetite. The white nook full of surprises, and thankfully where you will most probably get a space to think, with lovely artisan brews and produce. I was stunned by the lemon pistachio cake we had, which was bursting with a full, dense pistachio flavour, pardon the lack of lemon tang. They may be excused. The most perfect accompaniment ever to a well-made cuppa joe (P.S. They stock nut butters and tahini!).

Flat white and raspberry custard tart from Shoreditch Grind
Flat white and raspberry custard tart from Shoreditch Grind

My second last stop was Shoreditch Grind, a stand-alone café where I had probably the best flat white, and a crusty, flake-to-bits custard tart, smaller than my palm but moreish all the same. Read, write, lose yourself a little.

Kinako french toast with matcha soft serve; aka the best french toast you will have in your life, from Bone Daddies at Shackfuyu
Kinako french toast with matcha soft serve; aka the best french toast you will have in your life, from Bone Daddies at Shackfuyu

Because I’ve tried too many french toasts to lift your hopes up for no good reason. Soft, slightly spongy and perfectly saturated in the middle. Eggy, sweet matcha batter. The crust will make your heart melt, and the matcha soft serve makes everything a dreamworld. Your senses will thank you. Un-be-lie-va-ble.

Bread Ahead's salted caramel and honeycomb doughnut
Bread Ahead’s salted caramel and honeycomb doughnut
Duck and waffle; bruleed banana with ice cream from Duck and Waffle
Duck and waffle; bruleed banana with ice cream from Duck and Waffle

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Other notable spots:

– TAP Coffee No. 193

– Kaffeine

– Timberyard Seven Dials

– Prufrock Coffee

– The Breakfast Club

I have yet to travel the entire of Europe, to learn more and grow in so many ways, but London has and always will be my second home. I remember prancing around town when I used to live there as a little girl, some sort of flaky pastry in one hand, my mother’s fingers in the other. Cold winter streets and cobblestones. There’s something irreplaceable about its erratic weather, everyone’s eccentric outfits and the anticipation of something, anything, the feeling of exciting possibility.