Saturday, September 24, 2011

Back to Basics 3: Cookies



Baking session came early for me this week, on a Friday night. MY invited several of her friends, mostly with no baking experience, for a mass baking session. She cannot imagine the chaos that will be created in her kitchen, so she requested for my asistance. Of course, I'm ever-ready for a baking session. With so many newcomers, we settled on baking simple stuff like banana muffins and chocolate cookies.

This particular recipe was given by her friend, LL. This was supposed to replicate Famous Amos' cookies. I had tried it once earlier this year and it didn't turn out very good, possibly because I had used the wrong type of oats or because I reduced the sugar and chocolate. This attempt is much better and the cookies are really fragrant. As for whether they really resemble Famous Amos' cookies, I can't really tell as I can't even remember when was the last time I ate Famous Amos. I suggest avid bakers to give this a try and give me your verdict. This recipe is in American terms, so for bakers like me who are more familiar with weight, feel free to convert the quantity to grams.

Ingredients (makes a humongous lot):

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Cadbury bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Method:
  1. Cream the butter and both sugars.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together.
  3. Add flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate
    chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Mix.
  4. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees (180 degC).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back to Basics 2: Chocolate Cupcakes



To be honest, I have lost most energy and courage to bake anything fanciful. So this explains my second week (and more weeks to come) of "back to basics". This week, I decided to bake something using cocoa powder, before mine expires in 2 months' time.



I remembered watching a video on chocolate cupcakes on joyofbaking.com some time back and decided to give the recipe a try. I nearly forgot about my cute little square paper cups which I bought specially for the Hokkaido chiffion cakes. So instead of the coventional round cakes, I have square cupcakes.



The preparation of the batter was straightforward and I took care not to over-bake the cakes. Other than the cracks on the surface, I am rather pleased with the outcome. I decided to omit the fattening and sweet frosting and just eat the cake on its own. This recipe is definitely worth keeping!

Ingredients (makes 5 cupcakes):

25 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used natural cocoa powder + 1/8 tsp baking soda)
120 ml boiling hot water
90 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
55 g butter
100 g sugar (I used 85 g)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 190 deg C.
  2. In a small bowl, stir cocoa powder (and baking soda if using) with hot water until smooth. Leave to cool.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg in 2 additions, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.
  5. Add in flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
  6. Add in cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
  7. Fill cups until 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 mins, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Do not over-bake or the cakes will be dry.
  8. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
Adapted from Joyofbaking's Chocolate Cupcakes.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Muffins



After a long hiatus, I'm finally back in my kitchen. I have lost all confidence to try new baking projects after such a long break. Thus, I decided to bake something simple: muffins.



I chose the first recipe in my recipe booklet: chocolate chip muffins using the simple muffin method. Place the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another and just mix.



And the most challenging part is to fill the cups without making a mess.



The muffins turned out to be a nice brown colour, but somehow the taste is different from the previous attempts. I guess I have just lost touch with baking. Perhaps it's time to start all over again.

It's been a busy transition period for me: thesis writing, job hunting, thesis submission, finishing the unfinished tasks in the lab, go on a cruise and finally starting my new job. It's the second week into my new job and I have to admit I am struggling to adapt to the new environment and job scope. After 4 years in a research lab, I'm like an alien in the corporate world. Nevertheless, I hope I made the right choice in choosing something away from my comfort zone, before I get too old to adapt to anything new.