Matcha Coconut Adzuki Bean Tart

3385343 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The week in a nutshell?

Well.

Perhaps an abundance of small happenings and details that cumulated to form the realisation that the smallest changes can indeed lead to drastic changes. Things like goal setting and reading affirmations out loud (even if just in a whisper) have a tremendous impact on how you start and go through your day. Meditation. Another thing I’ve gotten into again, more recently. So many things which, just 2 years ago, I may have scoffed at, brushed aside as heeby-jeeby, loco, substance-less stuff. An amazing Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library, and finally becoming a member of the Wellcome Library. Delicate, lasting pleasures.

4318271C-9DF8-4D88-A862-E9A1C0F26ABC3240517 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

I here conclude that centre of mind should be centre of gravity. Slip-ups happen, a day isn’t always that great, and that’s ok. Walk off the woes. Write. It’s about returning to those small, good things, and staying confident in their life-giving properties which may only be discovered upon closer inspection. Like pouring tea into your teacup, or savouring your first bite of dinner, or reading without your phone buzzing. There is a secret bonhomie even in the most inane things, or inanimate objects.

So I made this tart on Monday, and there is one last slice in the fridge. Waiting there for me, as I sit here typing in Waterstones. Stiffened just to the right degree, with a thin blanket of coconut cream gently melted before the drizzle, and lovingly homemade sweet red adzuki beans. Can you tell Japan is still on my mind?

With matcha, coconut, black sesame and adzuki bean, there’s a lot going on, but there’s a lot going on well. Ecstasy possessed me upon my finding these beans in a health shop near where I stay. They take quite a while to cook but the result is so worth it. These rigid, dark beans are harder, darker and smaller than your normal red kidney beans, and add a nice firm texture to any soft, sweet dessert. Dense and more earthy in flavour. In fact, you could throw these guys into your lunchtime salad or pasta and it probably wouldn’t be half bad (here’s to a new idea for tonight). The filling is not too rich, achieved by mixing coconut cream, coconut yoghurt and plant milk in the right ratio. You could do it all just with coconut cream, but that would totally overwhelm the addition of matcha. The light blend ensures all the flavours come through at the same time. As I wrote in my journal that day, it is ‘so sweet, matcha-y and creamy…!!’ Clearly I was too excited to English properly. Also, no baking needed! Just a little fridge hibernation, so make this the night before to enjoy the next day, or in the morning if you’re the sort who has time at home, and enjoy later on.

3342913 Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

A creamy matcha coconut tart with a black sesame crust and sweet adzuki beans (Japanese red bean)

Matcha Adzuki Bean Coconut Tart (makes one 7/8-inch tart)

Ingredients

For the crust:

35g roasted black sesame seeds

2 tbsp (50g) tahini

8 large medjool dates (120g)

100g raw cashews

 

For the filling:

2 tbsp matcha powder

150g coconut cream, from a package or scoop out the solid bits from a tin of coconut milk, and save some extra to drizzle on top

150g coconut yoghurt or any other plant-based yoghurt of choice, e.g. soy/almond etc

120ml almond milk (or any other plant milk)

50ml (45g or 3-4 tbsp) maple or agave syrup

4.5g (about 1 tbsp) agar powder or vegan gelatin

half a teaspoon of fine salt

 

For the bean topping:

100g adzuki beans (pre-soaked for 2-3 hours, or you can soak them while your tart is setting in the fridge)

5 tbsp granulated/coconut sugar

water

Directions

Using sesame oil or any other oil/margarine (sesame works well here because it matches the flavour of the crust but you don’t have to, really), liberally brush the base and all corners and crevices of your tart tin. Your tin should have a removable bottom. The liberal oiling is important because it’s easy for the sticky crust to stick to the sides! Now in a food processor, blend together all the ingredients for the crust. Wet your hands to stop so much of the batter sticking to them, and press the mixture evenly into your tart tin. Use the bottom of a glass to help, if you want. Set aside for now.

In a saucepan, whisk together the ingredients for the filling. Place on high heat and bring to boil. Once it is boiling, immediately reduce heat to low, let the mixture simmer for 30 seconds, then take off the heat. Pour this on top of the prepared black sesame crust and spread evenly. Place the tart into the fridge to set nicely.

Meanwhile, make the adzuki beans. Wash your saucepan. Take your pre-soaked beans and place them in the saucepan. Fill with water until the beans are just covered, then cook on medium-high heat for an hour. Now go read something, chat with your mum or watch an episode of Friends. When you come back, the beans should be relatively soft. If not, cook for another 10 minutes. There should still be a little resistance when you use a wooden spoon to break a few beans. Now add the sugar and stir until everything is dissolved. Take off the heat and set aside.

Finally, drizzle some extra coconut cream on the tart, then top with the cooked beans. Et voila! Serve cold from the fridge and enjoy with some green tea or coffee.

And to end on an inspirational quote…

‘Consistency is the playground of dull minds’

Rye Matcha Pillow Pancakes

3338611 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

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.

4256027 Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Another Hound café nestled in the busyness of Siam Paragon, Bangkok. Draping lights and my favourite colour scheme.
3357763 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
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.
2676838 Processed with VSCO with b1 preset
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. 

3849599 Processed with VSCO with a5 preset3397931 Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

3260062 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
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. 
4277810 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
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.

3196929 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset3162297 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset3338611 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

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.

Kaya Apple Cake

3414056 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

These patches of bright light on my desk are rare, taking on sharp edges, hurting and twisting against the grim dark wall that is my computer screen shadow. A rare occasion, this sunlight. Its splendour screams safe but isn’t as unassuming and comforting as the 8am spillover of soft winter light, which funnily enough I do miss. Soft and unassuming. Just like the pot of homemade kaya sent all the way from Singapore. I can imagine my grandmother churning away with those pandan leaves on the weekend, thinking about how I would find her new recipe, sugar ratios in tow.

With school inevitably comes times of doubt and stress. I carefully pulled apart the bubble wrap neatly taped around the large tub of green. The smell of home propped my spirit on an invisible high horse and sent me straight to her kitchen thousands of miles away for a good 30 seconds. School didn’t exist for a good 30 seconds, too. Just standing there, one could believe nothing more than the present and past. Let the worries fade, let the senses of Now take over, and bake a cake.

There would seem to be a worrying mildness about kaya, yet when put together in a sea of cake batter and soft apple, its head pops out above the rest, an unmistakable coconutty hit serving well to blunt this seed of nonchalance.

A soft, cinnamony kaya apple cake, sandwiched with kaya, to be eaten only with something deliciously cold and creamy, as per pretty much everything I make. 

3420386 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

This is an incredibly soft cake, more so than any of my other previous recipes. I suggest upping the amount of sugar by a few tablespoons for a more robust edge and crust, and feel free to use any sort of kaya; it need not be your traditional green kaya, for I envision the brown Hainanese sort works just as well, tailing along a more honeyed depth of sweet. And of course, the raisins are not de rigueur..

As usual, all substitutions are optional and vegan.

Kaya Apple Cake (makes one 9 inch cake)

Ingredients

200g plain flour

125g applesauce

60g butter (sub: flavourless oil or vegan butter)

100g kaya+ 100g for the fun sandwiching bit

1 egg (sub: one banana)

200g sugar

pinch salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda (eliminate if using self-raising flour)

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g raisins (optional)

190g chopped apple, peeled and cored (around 1 1/2 apples)

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C and grease a 9-inch pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt. In a separate heat-safe bowl, heat the applesauce and butter together, either in a microwave or on a stove. Whisk in the egg, 100g of kaya and vanilla. Tip your raisins and chopped apple into the dry mix, before tipping in the wet applesauce mix. Mix everything together until just combined, then pour into your pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Once out, let cool for at least 10 minutes and ready the extra kaya. Cut the cake down the middle of the pan. Spread the remaining kaya onto the first half, sandwich with the second half, then cut everything into bars. Serve á la mode!

 

Rice Cake Molasses Granola

The kitchen seems to have closed upon the death of last week’s get-up. But the smell lingers. It’s rich, dark, carnal. I sit here now recalling the life-giving things of everyday. After making this last Saturday, I hopped over to a new cafe which I implore all of you to check out for some downright good, authentic Danish bakes, then to Piccadilly’s Waterstones for a good 5 hours just to read my heart out, the perfect excuse for not doing work I was meant to be doing. How sad it is to find joy in the unruly, yet how perfectly OK with it I am once or twice a week. It’s true that meaning and mental enlightenment can arise from nothing when given work to do, yet there’s a wild freedom only found in self-direction, reading and exploring things one would only find outside of a lecture theatre, as exciting a lecture may be.

With granola-making on the agenda last Saturday, I shook off the morning grog and effortlessly persuaded myself to Waitrose. Right opposite, to get some oats and rice puffs for a little bit of fancy. I came across a most moreish-looking granola recipe in Honey&Co’s cookbook just earlier in the week, overcome with fiery instinct. Rice puffs are something I always took for granted. Child’s play, too light to be in anything except standard mass-produced granola or cereal bars. This, however, seemed to take granola to something of a new level, choked with Mediterranean spices and a sultry undertone of rarity. Just as I was about to leave the house, my peripheral vision caught sight of these chocolate rice cakes I brought back from Germany just the previous week, and I knew something had to be done with those babies. A mini brainwave hit– why not crush those and chuck them in the granola instead? So I chucked off my shoes and got to work. It was going to be fun.

Starts off all sticky after everything is incorporated, and even seems a bit ‘leaky’ once taken out of the oven, but success is trust. Cooling will let the clusters form, and that’s where all the fun’s at, right? Each huge, outrageously crisp cluster is a thing of dreams. A heavy hand with the molasses will do the caramelisation process, and you, too much good. And of course, like all granola recipes, this is so easily customised. Raisins, nuts, chocolate, add and subtract as you will. How to granola: douse in milk, languish, enjoy.

5255318 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Rice Cake Molasses Granola (makes one large batch)

Note: all bracketed substitutions are vegan

Ingredients

80g unsalted butter (sub: vegan butter)

120g blackstrap molasses (sub: a rich, dark honey)

110g light brown, soft sugar

100g chocolate-covered rice cakes, chopped into thick chunks (sub: 70g plain rice cakes and 30g chopped chocolate)

70g oats or muesli

150g nuts of choice , chopped (I used walnuts)

100g dried fruit of choice (I used torn dates and raisins, though if you abhor either like many a friend of mine, then feel free to substitute with whatever else you would like, and this recipe works well even without any dried fruit!)

1 tsp cinnamon

optional: 1 tsp ground ginger

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 190C (375F) and line a large baking tray with parchment. Combine the butter, molasses and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Take off heat, then pour in the rest of the ingredients.

Transfer to the pan and flatten a little so everything will cook more evenly in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then take out and let cool for another 10. You will notice a bit of molasses leakage, almost like a liquidy mess at the size. Not to worry, for this is expected. Leaving the pan to cool will rest everything and harden it all up nicely. Use a spoon to break everything up a little, but not too much– leave the large clusters! Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy with liberal drizzles of milk, topped with fresh/frozen fruit for a good adjacent tang.

Pumpkin Berry Cinnamon Cake with a Cinnamon Frosting and ‘Cream Cheese’ Glaze

dscf9074The day before the big 20, it was the 16th of the 16th. That’s nice. American Psycho (by Bret Easton Ellis) kept me up well, and Ellis knows how to write with exhilarating speed and menace. He zooms and I go with him. The night was full of speed slowed down. Memories of 19, last year in my small little dorm room, faces everywhere showering me with ‘whoa, 19’, and now fast forward just a little, and all a 20 year old can do to console him or herself is to chuck in the reminder that it’s really the beginning, not the end of, a decade.

How do I feel? Still alive, still an inexperienced student, still a hopelessly romantic dreamer, still tremendously excited about making cakes like this. I was honestly worried about constructing something that was vegan and still appeal to everyone, because everyone still has this idea that anything without eggs or dairy will ultimately taste like crap, but no I was so determined, and this pumpkin berry cake which I adapted from one of my all-time favourite blogs turned out to be beyond my dreams, and I’m pretty sure I dreamt up something similar on the night of the 16th.

‘Holy shit, this is vegan? Ummmm… No. No.’

‘Wait, but it really isn’t, I mean it doesn’t taste like it’s those vegan raw things I’ve tried at those cafés, so are you sure?’

During a little picnic that Thursday night, I sprinkled everyone with a bit of surprise.

Yes it is all vegan (not raw though), and of course you can completely unveganise it with the substitutions I put in the recipe below, however this cake was more fluff and fire than drab and dense.

dscf9053dscf9055dscf9060dscf9065

I made this cake as I rebelliously ignored all the Facebook notifications. Putting it together, I could feel my heart hardening. The year of 20 is no mistake. Old to some, young to most. Whisk, plonk, poof. So much expectation, so much trying-to-prove. But you come home to the easy comfort of good-hearted people and the dim light which holds the promise of new things to learn and love the next day, and you sigh and realise life is so full and promising. Cake calls, too. Slice it, savour it. With this one, you make an easy pumpkiny berry-y (?) batter for two cakes, sandwich them with this divine cream ‘cheese’ frosting, then smear the sides with the stuff to make a naked frosting, the first layer weighing down on the second making this bit easier than you might initially envision.

dscf9068dscf9070dscf9073dscf9074

Assembly. Treasures lie in the smallest details and the cake breathes love. Karen Carpenter knows how I feel when she bellows such a feeling’s comin’ over me…

Now I sit here typing, already 20 but heaving with the juvenile stains of life. Soon the sun will properly be up, and I’ll heat up some pancakes I saved from Sunday, which I shared with someone I love. I will top them with whatever I fancy, because 20 allows that. Other thoughts? Well, I can’t find my lunch box cover, which is deeply disconcerting, and I realised damp hair shouldn’t be put in a bun too soon else the curl effect will quickly vanish the following morning. Important things.

dscf9079dscf9082

Pumpkin Berry Cake with a Cinnamon Frosting and ‘Cream Cheese’ Glaze (makes one large 8-inch double-layer cake, though you can halve the ingredients for a single cake! Adapted from this beautiful Cinnamon Bun Cake)

Ingredients

For the cake:

600g all-purpose flour (subs: gluten-free/ half white and half whole wheat)

4 tsp baking powder

540g sugar, half white and half brown

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

large pinch salt

260g pumpkin purée

200g vegan butter (sub: normal butter), softened at room temperature

2 flax eggs made by mixing 2 tbsp flax with 10 tbsp water and letting sit for 10 minutes before using (sub: normal eggs)

2 tsp vanilla extract

200g fresh or frozen berries of choice

 

For the frosting:

150g butter

1 tbsp cinnamon

50g vegan cream cheese (subs: regular cream cheese/ sour cream)

170g icing sugar

 

For the ‘cream cheese’ glaze:

120g vegan cream cheese (sub: regular cream cheese/ sour cream, as before)

130g icing sugar, sifted

pinch salt

1 tsp almond milk (sub: any milk of choice)

1 tbsp cinnamon

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C (350F) and grease 2 8-inch cake pans, then sprinkle the bottoms and sides with a mix of granulated sugar and breadcrumbs (or just sugar if you don’t have the breadcrumbs). This will give the cake a nice sweet crust once baked. Tap the pans so that the mix is evenly spread.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder. In another bowl, beat together, either using sole arm strength and a whisk or an electrical beater, the sugar, butter, flax eggs, pumpkin purée, vanilla extract and salt. Add the dry to the wet mix and mix until everything is just combined. Put roughly a quarter of the mix into one of the pans, then sprinkle half of the berries all over. Dollop another quarter (so now you have half of the batter left for the second cake) on top. Do the same in the second pan. Bake the cakes for 50-60 minutes (mine took 60 minutes exactly).

While they are baking, make the cinnamon butter frosting and cream cheese glaze. Beat together the ingredients for the frosting in a bowl using an electrical beater, then place in fridge to set a little. In another bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the cream cheese glaze and set aside.

Once the cakes are done, leave to cool in the pans for a half hour before over turning and putting on a cooling rack. Using a serrated knife, level one of the cakes to prep it for the frosting that will sandwich the two cakes together. Put the frosting in the middle of the cake, then put the second cake on top, letting its weight spread the frosting out to the sides. There might be some frosting that spills a little too much onto the sides of the bottom layer, but that’s ok; you need this bit of extra frosting for the naked frosting effect. Using a palette knife, spread the excess hanging bits of frosting along the sides of the whole cake, so you get the effect seen in that third last picture. Dollop the cream cheese glaze on the top layer, and sprinkle the top with chopped chocolate, more fresh berries if you like, and cinnamon. The dashes of cinnamon give a beautiful, rustic yet polished final effect.

Slice, serve, enjoy. This cake can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 days.