Sunday 28 April 2013

Afghan Cookies

I first bought a bottle of Afghan Cookies many years ago from my niece's bakery in Seremban. Fell in love with the cookies & had baked them using recipes from 2 different books. Little did I realise, until recently when I was googling for the recipe, the cookie is actually a New Zealand traditional ...

I haven't baked the cookies for sometime, so decided to bake them but this time, used the recipe from Great recipe for a simple yet heavenly-tasting cookie! It's crunchy texture & not-too-sweet flavour makes it great when eaten on its own, without the icing. I topped mine with melted white chocolate & sliced almonds.

Afghan Cookies
Recipe from Australian/New Zealand Food

200g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used top flour.)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona.)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened corn flakes

Icing: (I didn't use.)
1 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup flaked almonds (optional)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C). Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder and mix into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. Fold in cornflakes and don't worry if they crumble.
  4. Roll or press 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls and flatten them slightly. Place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. 
  6. Prepare the icing by combining the icing sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and water in a bowl. Mix well until the mixture is free of lumps and of a creamy consistency.
  7. Spoon a little icing on each cookie and then decorate with flaked almonds.
I'm linking this post to Little Thumbs up organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) and Mui Mui (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Esther of Copycake Kitchen.

Blueberry Tea Cake

I've told myself many times not to buy something just because it's on sale. Although the mantra has helped me quite a bit, unfortunately, once in a while, I still fall for the 'sale' trap....  Two weeks ago, before I even used up the blueberries to make Blueberry Scones, I bought 2 more punnets of blueberries just because they're on sale.... How can I not buy them when 2 punnets cost just $5! 

Just to make sure that the impulse purchase was worth it, I had to bake something  with them,  right...? So I flipped through Better Homes and Gardens Old Fashioned Baking & decided on a tea cake. (Incidentally, I bought the book for just $2 at the NLB book sale recently, but (just to reassure myself) buying the book was justified because I love baking & from my experience, recipes from Better Homes and Gardens  are very reliable. And of course, the book was dirt cheap!! Haha!)

I adapted the Strawberry Ripple Tea Cake recipe to bake my Blueberry Tea Cake. The major change I made was replacing the frozen sweetened strawberries or red raspberries in the recipe with fresh blueberries. I  added 1 tbsp of water when cooking the blueberry filling because the filling was very thick, maybe because I used fresh blueberries. As I'm typing the recipe, I realised the recipe calls for sweetened berries but I didn't add any sugar to my blueberry filling. So my cake filling turned out slightly tart. Overall, this cake is a  keeper... it's rich but not too sweet & there's a distinctive flavour which I really like.. must be the buttermilk.

Blueberry Tea Cake
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Old Fashioned Baking

2 punnets fresh blueberry - the original recipe uses 10 oz package frozen, sweetened, sliced strawberries or red raspberries, thawed.
1 tbsp water (I added.)
1 tbsp corn starch
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold butter (I used 190g)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk (I used buttermilk.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.
  2. Grease and flour 10×2 round tart pan with a removable bottom or 11x7x1-1/2 inch baking pan, set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together berries (undrained if frozen, and add sugar to taste here if they weren’t previously sweetened) and corn starch till well combined. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, remove from heat. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set 1/2 cup flour mixture aside for crumb topping. Into the remaining flour/sugar/butter mixture, stir baking powder, baking soda and salt & mix well. Make a well in the center. Combine egg and buttermilk in a small bowl. Add all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the batter over bottom and up one inch of the sides of the prepared pan. Spread filling over the batter. Spoon remaining batter in small mounds over the filling. Sprinkle with remaining flour/sugar/butter mixture.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan with removable bottom if using or leave in baking pan. Serve warm.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Talam Jagung

I made Talam Jagung over the weekend & this is the second recipe from Mdm Hasma's book. Why talam jagung?'s because I wanted something that uses corn as one of the ingredients as I wanted to take part in the Little Thumps Up blogger event.

Again, I'm very happy with Mdm Hasma's recipe. The texture of this kuih is excellent. The only thing I'll add the next time I make it is the amount of cream corn. I love sweet corn, so I would prefer a more intense corn flavour. I also think my kuih wasn't rich enough. I made half the recipe & for the top layer, I used 125ml undiluted thick coconut milk & added 175ml water to make 300ml as required. (Note: 250 ml undiluted coconut milk is equivalent to milk from 1 coconut.) I think the 600ml thick milk used in the recipe below refers to undiluted coconut milk. Wow! That's a lot of coconut!!

Talam Jagung
Adapted from recipe by Mdm Hasma Noor Basir from Talam Klasik Malaysia.

Bottom layer:
150g plain flour
90g custard flour
150g cream-style corn
50g coconut milk powder
1000 ml water
1 large egg
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 salt
1 tsp corn flavour (I added.)

Prepare & heat up a steamer. Grease a 10-inch round pan. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan & mix thoroughly. Cook mixture on medium fire until it starts to thicken, stirrring continuously to prevent mixture from sticking to the  bottom of the pot. Pour into the pan & steam for about 20 minutes.  Prepare the top layer while waiting for the bottom layer to cook. Scratch the top of bottom layer gently with a fork before pouring the mixture for top layer.

Top layer:
600ml thick coconut milk
*1/2 tsp fennel              
*1/2cm cinnamon stick  
* grind till fine (I didn't add these ingredients.)

4 large eggs
300g castor sugar
50g plain flour
3 tbsp rice flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 green colouring
1/2 tsp pandan/coconut essence

Combine ground fennel, cinnamon, coconut milk in a bowl & mix thoroughly. Strain mixture into a pot. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt & mix thoroughly. Add in flour, essence & colouring & blend well. Strain into the pot of coconut milk. Stirring continuously, cook mixture over medium fire until it starts to thicken. Pour onto the bottom layer & steam for 30 minutes. Remove pan from steamer & leave to cool completely. Cut using a plastic knife to serve.

Note: I made only half of this recipe, so I used an 8-inch round pan. I also lined the pan with non-stick Glad baking paper, leaving 1 inch overhanging the pan. After the talam has cooled down, I lifted up the paper & placed the kuih on the table before cutting.

I'm linking this post to Little Thumbs up organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) and Mui Mui (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Esther of Copycake Kitchen.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Blueberry Scones

I bought a punnet of blueberries almost two weeks ago with the intention of baking for a blog event. Unfortunately, I didn't make it.... had to think of a simple recipe to use up the blueberries before it's too late. I wanted  to bake some  muffins but decided to bake some scones instead... I've not had scones for sometime. So I searched for a recipe from my collection of the American Home Baking Index Card which I used to subscribe when I was living in the US. 

I think these scones are gorgeous looking! I know.... some of you may think my scones look like rock buns.. that's what my sis-in-law thought. I didn't want to over handle the dough, so I  took some dough in my hand & just dropped it on the pan without shaping it too much.

The scones also have great texture.... slightly crumbly & moderately dense. I tasted a warm piece &   thought it would really be great eaten with some jam or honey because, although it has a rich flavour, it wasn't t sweet at all. Then, while typing the recipe, it just occurred to me that I had totally missed out the sugar in the dough! The only sugar I used was for the garnish.....  I'm not sure how that had affected the texture of my scones but as far as the taste is concerned, it's not a problem at all. I suppose with the sugar, the scones can just be eaten on its own.

Blueberry Scones
Source: American Home Baking Index Card

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 salt
5  tbsp (71g) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut (I used unsweetened dessicated coconut.)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp grated lime rind or lemon rind
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed & drained

Glaze & garnish
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425 deg F. Grease baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Make a well in the center.
  3. Mix together egg, coconut, milk, & lime rind. Pour egg mixture into well in flour mixture. Stir with a fork until dry ingredients are just moistened. Gently stir in berries until evenly combined.
  4. Spoon scones, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Brush scones with milk. Sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake scones until golden, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Baking tips:
  • If using frozen berries, thaw & drain them on a paper towel. This will prevent excess liquid from discolouring dough.
  • Combining coconut with liquid ingredients softens it & enhances its flavour.

Monday 1 April 2013

Talam Cendol

After making the cendol pudding, I still had some cendol left. I thought it was high time I tried a recipe from a book written by Mdm Hasma Noor Basir which I bought late last year. As usual, the delectable-looking pictures attracted my attention. But after browsing through the book, I thought it would be worthwhile buying it. Well... after trying this recipe, I have no regrets... This Talam Cendol is just perfect.... I would not change a thing if I were to make it again.

Mdm Hasma is very passionate about Malay traditional kuih. Her late mother made & sold Malay kuih to supplement the family income.  Overtime, from her observations & experimentations with the recipes, Mdm Hasma has come up with  a series of books & Talam Klasik Malaysia is the one I bought. According to her, she does not want her vast knowledge & experience to go to a waste. She hopes that her sharing will encourage the present & future generations to appreciate traditional Malay kuih.  Thank you Mdm Hasma. I'm certain your effort will not go to a waste..... Now let me share with you the recipe..

Talam Cendol
Recipe by Mdm Hasma Noor Basir from Talam Klasik Malaysia.

Bottom layer:
180g palm sugar
100g caster sugar
1 pandan leave
500ml water
150 rice flour
50g hun kwe flour
1 tsp lime water (air kapur)
25g coconut powder + 500ml water - I used 500ml thin coconut milk.
  1. Prepare a 12-inch round or 10-inch square pan. Grease it with cooking oil. Combine palm sugar, caster sugar, pandan leave & water in a pot & heat up until the sugar dissolves. Strain & set aside the sugar syrup.
  2. Combine sugar syrup with the rest of ingredients in a pot. Mix thoroughly. Place pot on a stove & heat up mixture over medium fire. Keep stirring until mixture slightly thickens. Remove pot from stove & pour mixture into pan. Steam for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare top layer.
1. I made only half of this recipe, so I used an 8-inch round pan. I also lined the pan with non-stick Glad baking paper, leaving 1 inch overhanging the pan. After the talam has cooled down, I lifted up the paper & placed the kuih on the table before cutting.
2. According to Mdm Hasma, heating up the mixture until it turns slightly thick before steaming produces smooth top after it has been steamed.

Top layer:
400ml thick coconut milk + 500ml water (or coconut milk obtained from 300g white grated fresh coconut mixed with 900ml water to obtain 900 ml coconut milk.)
50g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
90g rice flour
2 tbsp plain flour
1tbsp green bean flour
250 cendol - drain
  1. Combine all ingredients, except cendol, in a pot & mix thoroughly. Cook mixture on a stove, stirring continuously, until mixture slightly thickens. Remove pot from stove.
  2. Add in cendol & mix. Pour mixture onto the first layer & steam again for 25 minutes.
  3. Once cooked, remove pan from steamer & leave to cool completely. Cut using a plastic knife to serve.
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