Baking

Vanilla Almond Granola

Easy to make and delicious Vanilla Almond Granola! It is surprisingly easy to make. What took me so long to try?!

Whisk together coconut oil and syrup until well combined.

Make sure the oats are evenly coat.

Spread it evenly on the pan before baking. Stir to ensure the granola is baked evenly, every 15 mins.

Vanilla Almond Granola

Ingredients:

2½ cup or 200g rolled oats

¾ cup silvered almonds

½ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

½ cup maple syrup (substituted with golden syrup)

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ tsp almond extract (omitted)

1 tbsp vanilla extract (yes, 1 tablespoon)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300oF or 150oC. Line baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Toss oats, almonds, cinnamon, salt together. Set aside.
  3. Whisk syrup, coconut oil till combined.
  4. Whisk in almond extract and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over oats mixture and toss to coat evenly, making sure all oats are moistened.
  6. Spread it on the baking sheet, and bake for 45min, stirring every 15min.
  7. Allow granola to cool completely so that it will be crunchy.
  8. Keep in airtight container for up to 3 weeks, at room temperature.

Notes:

  • It is a scale down from the original recipe, and it fits my baking pan just nice. So it depends on the size of your own baking pan.
  • I used a combination of sliced almonds and diced almonds because that’s what I have on hand. I find that sliced almonds are good as it is thin and crunchy after baking, giving the finished product more “dimension”.
  • I omitted almond extract as I finished it. The granola was still good.
  • Substituted maple syrup with golden syrup. Yea.. I am making it more unhealthy so called. But I think that both are sugars, and downing too much maple syrup is equivalent to overdose of sugar too. Besides, it was practical for me because I could not think of a better way to finish up my golden syrup. End product was good, maybe better because golden syrup is thicker and sweeter compared to maple syrup. Just eat in moderation. J
  • Stirring every 15 min is absolutely important, especially that I used almond flakes, which are thin. Some almond flakes were still burnt.
  • It is absolutely delicious and easy to make.

 

Peanut cookies

 

I first tried this recipe 3 years back, after founding the recipe on Bread Et Butter. I liked how she presented it with the simple 2:2:1:1 ratio. (2 cups peanut: 2 cups flour: 1 cup icing sugar: 1 cup oil) Voilà! I loved peanut cookies and was amazed how simple it was. No weighing scale needed (unless if u need to weigh out the balls for business purposes).

Peanut cookies are easy to differentiate from the white almond cookies. But anyway, I took extra effort to make it look like golden coins (ancient Chinese coins look like that). Did not apply the egg wash evenly.

The peanut cookie dough was extremely cohesive. It was the easiest to make as compared to almond cookies, especially the crunchy almond cookies, which requires “extra squeeze” to make the dough come together.

I used a chopstick with square ends to gently push the middle to create “coin shape”.  The one at bottom right was leftover dough, about 5g instead of 8g.

I purposely left some of it with the bubbles from egg wash. It all dissipated with baking. (e.g. second one from bottom left) Without egg wash, the taste was not very different.

Finished product.

 

Peanut cookies

Makes 60-65 cookies, 8g each.

 Ingredients:

1 cup ground peanut (~125g)

1 cup flour (~125g)

½ cup icing sugar (67.5g)

½ cup oil (67.5g)

Method:

The ratio of peanuts: flour: icing sugar: oil = 2:2:1:1.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add in oil and mix well. It should form cohesive dough (not crumbling). Form dough into small balls, 7-8g each. Glaze with beaten egg. Bake at 180oC, 15-20 min.

Notes:

  • The dough for peanut cookies are much more cohesive than the almond cookies (both types), thus easier to handle.

I am submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb)” hosted by Miss B of Everyone Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Traditional Almond Cookies

This was really fragrant. Even my grandma (who does not eat CNY cookies as she is afraid of butter) says its nice! She ate three. Nice feat. I took it out to let everyone try during the reunion dinner at Grandma’s house and all of them except one liked it, to my delightful surprise. One of my uncles can’t stop at one and specifically requested to grab the container of cookies I gave Ah-mah (grandma) and kept popping into his mouth right after dinner. He liked it so much he wanted to order. But I have no time for that cos CNY was next day!

Moreover I made a mistake by using the fine grain table sugar as it was too late to get caster sugar anyway (most shops were already closed when I started baking).  I thought the sugar would melt with high oven temperature, but it did not. If u want the sugar crystals to blend in better, use caster sugar (super fine grain, specifically for baking). Some people like the sugar crunch though.

Nevertheless, I looked for ways to solve the crystal problem. I want to find a recipe which creates melt-in-the-mouth-even-more almond cookies. I found one using icing sugar in much less quantity, which I had thought of after baking the first batch, but threw the idea out as I was not sure how the cornstarch content will affect the product. Maybe next year.

It looks similar to the crunchy melty almond cookies I baked earlier, but that’s just the original colour of almond cookies. The yellow colour saw in stores were bestowed by egg wash, which has to be omitted because my friend’s wife is vegetarian.

1 batch makes about 60-65 cookies, 8g each. Slightly more cookies than required to fill one container. I used a medium large container. This “business” was no easy task. Hourly pay could be $5 or less, depending on various factors. But the bonus is, I get to do the things I like.

Cooling on a rack immediately after baking. My oven pan was too hot and the bottom got slightly burnt. On the upside, there was a nice “burnt taste” if u know what I mean.

Traditional Almond Cookies

Makes 60-65 pieces, 8g each

 Ingredients:

120g ground almond

95g caster sugar

180g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

122ml oil

1 egg yolk

Method:

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together. Mix well with almond. Incorporate oil into the dry mixture and stir quickly. Roll into small balls of 7-8g each (about 1 tsp). Bake at 180oC, 18 min or lightly browned.

Notes:

  • Bought the wrong type of sugar, the fine grain table sugar. It did not melt fully in the finished product. Some people like the “crunch” sugar crystals gave. I think it’s a blessing in disguise, but if I bought the normal table sugar (coarse grain), then people will probably shun the cookies.
  • Baking at 180oC for 18min results in slightly overbaked cookies. Anyway baking temperatures and timing in recipes are mere guidelines. Every oven is different. My oven pan tends to be very hot and I think that’s why cookie bottoms were slightly burnt. I ended up baking for 15min. No burnt taste but slightly less fragrant overall.

I am submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb)” hosted by Miss B of Everyone Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Crunchy Almond Cookies

Recipe at end of page

I first started baking these Chinese New Year goodies 3 years back, armed with a curiosity for “How are my beloved CNY goodies made?”. I explored my favourite peanut cookies and almond cookies, and the classic pineapple tarts. And I was tired enough. My family was intrigued by the process of making the cookies, which was something new to us, and everyone was eager to try the product. My mum was pretty impressed and decided to order 10 containers of peanut cookies and almond cookies each for her friends, despite that she did not like people “messing” her kitchen. She paid for the ingredients while I do the things I like.

That was a busy year.

While looking for recipes, I chanced upon this recipe, Crunchy Melty Almond Cookies by j3ss kitch3n. Her description of the cookies and the way she presented in pictures were so tempting, that I knew I had to try it. I baked about 10 containers of cookies (in addition to the 20 my mum ordered) for my friends and then-boyfriend. The response was overwhelming. Everybody likes it. I continued to bake for free the next two years.

This year, my house was chosen for the Home Improvement Program just one week before Chinese New Year. Great. I decided not to bake anything. Moreover, I quitted my job which I had thought of leaving for years. It was not wise to spend too much. Some of my friends were the most supportive people ever. During a meetup in Jan for a friend’s birthday, I announced the quitting of my job, and they started to come up with ideas to earn money for me. The group unanimously suggested me to sell my CNY cookies since CNY was around the corner. They thought the cookies were good and one of them even wanted me to bake some samples to bring to office so she could help me promote. Very enthusiastic of them. I did not follow up as I knew mum would be upset as after HIP she would need the kitchen too.

Somehow, I ended up taking orders and occupied the kitchen while mum was doing her CNY shopping (with her consent of course).

After a few years of practice, I have become better at moulding the cookies. I figured if I wanted to make it a business, this is a good time to put it to test. I also need to be precise in every step, from the sources of ingredients and containers, price (good quality and not too expensive), size of cookies, rather than using my freestyle methods to estimate. This time, each cookie weighs 8g (+/- 0.5g as my weighing scale rounds to the nearest whole number). Why 8g? I think its a lucky number 🙂

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Incorporate the oil and mix it fast. It may look crumbly but when u pushed the dough with the back of spoon, the dough comes together. I never have to add extra oil.

My uncle was horrified when he saw the cookies on the left. I told him it was work of art. Just kidding. It was easier to weigh out the 8g each, before shaping into neat balls (picture on the right).

Finished product

The cookies were crunchy and slightly “fluffy” when hot from the oven

Crunchy Almond Cookies

makes approximately 60 cookies, 8g each

Ingredients:

150g self-raising flour

80g icing sugar (reduced to 60g)

80g diced almond (blanched)

80g ground almond (blanched)

100ml corn oil

½ tsp almond essence (omitted)

Egg yolk for brushing (omitted)

Method:

Sift flour and sugar together. Add almonds and mix well. Mix almond essence to corn oil and stir well. Mix both wet and dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Shape into small round balls and place in paper casing. Bake at 170oC, for 15-20 min or till slightly brown.

Notes:

  • You can make the self-raising flour as shown. Self-raising flour recipe:

1 cup flour (125g)

¼ tsp salt

1½ tsp baking powder

  • Even with reduced amount of sugar (60g instead of 80g), there are people who still find it too sweet. Majority thinks the sweetness is acceptable though.
  • Toasting the diced almond before mixing might give a better flavor.
  • Without almond essence, almond taste is still strong. It is quite good as almond essence gives an artificial taste sometimes.
  • Using oil with neutral taste like corn oil or grapeseed oil is preferable to those with strong flavour like olive oil.

 

I am submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb)” hosted by Miss B of Everyone Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

 

Classics: Chocolate chip cookies

Crunchy chocolate chip cookies (pardon for poor lighting)

soft chocolate chip cookies. (10 min baking time)

I first made this classic in 2010. Found it in

All Recipes is my favourite recipe site because the recipes were contributed by real people who tried it and reviews by people who also tried it. Its almost foolproof. This particular recipe is by Dora and has over 6000 positive reviews.. I knew I gotta try it.

As it would be the last Christmas cookies I bake for my colleagues, I decided to do the same cookies again. But when my sis saw the soft cookies, she commented that most people would prefer crunchier ones. True. So I Increased baking time and my colleagues seemed to prefer it over soft ones anyway. Enjoy! 🙂

I mix it with two spoons.

not smooth I know..

After adding eggs.

Add in flour, chocolate chips and walnut. Mix well.

Flatten slightly. Bake for 10 or 20min, depending on the texture desired.

Ingredients:

225g butter

200g white sugar (reduced to 50g)

220g packed brown sugar (reduced to half)

2 eggs

10ml vanilla extract (2tsp)

375g flour

5g baking soda (1 tsp)

10ml hot water (2 tsp)

3g salt (1/2 tsp)

335g chocolate chips (semi sweet)

115g chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 175oC.
  2. Cream butter and sugars till smooth. Beat in eggs one by one. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to mixture, together with salt.
  4. Sift in flour. Add chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well.
  5. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased pans (flatten slightly for crunchier result)
  6. For soft cookies: Bake 10min or until edges are browned.
  7. For crunchy cookies: Bake 20-22min or until the cookies are brown.

Notes:

  • Baking time determines whether it is a soft or crunchy cookie. Increase by twice as much time for cookies with a crunch.
  • Did not read carefully and added salt to flour instead. Not a big impact I guess.
  • Cookie will slightly spread but flattening it will produce a more evenly spread and crunchier cookie.
  • Baking it for too long will result in an overbaked product – the cookie will taste slightly bitter. But most people will enjoy it anyway. Only the most picky tastebuds will be able to tell. Most people around me prefer crunchy cookies.
  • The chocolate chips are way too much. Semi sweet (Hersheys) is still too sweet. Reducing it by half is a good idea.
  • Reduced white sugar as I ran out of it. Brown sugar was weighted loosely instead of “packed”. It was still too sweet for some people. Could reduce sugar content further, but not sure how it might affect the outcome other than sweetness.

Yoghurt cake

It is actually another version of butter cake.. Or rather, margarine cake. In many Chinese recipe books, many cakes are made of margarine. I do not know the exact reason why. Anyway, I just want to use up the tub of yoghurt which is going to expire soon.. The recipe is adopted from Amy Wong

Yoghurt margarine cake 12

Yoghurt margarine cake 11

Ingredients

  • 150g margarine, softened
  • 97g caster sugar
  • 200g flour
  • 2 & 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g yoghurt

 

Method

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. This makes self-raising flour.
  2. Cream together margarine and sugar, till light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Add flour and mix well.
  5. Pour in yoghurt and mix well.
  6. Bake in a lined 8x3x3 inches loaf pan, at 170 deg Celsius for 50 minutes.

Notes

  • Original recipe calls for 130g caster sugar. I thought that would probably not be too sweet, as my 97g (75% of original) is not sweet at all.
  • It is quite salty. Maybe should reduce salt content.
  • Actually, self-raising flour was in the original recipe. I came up with this substitution by some research online.
  • I certainly overbeat the butter and sugar, as I see the air bubbles pop away.
  • Egg was curdling.. probably due to improper mixing.

Teochew Mooncakes – Matcha Spiral Flaky Mooncakes with Pandan Lotus paste

 

Happy mid-autumn festival! Many mooncake baking projects and eating fiesta. I think I need detox already. Last version of mooncakes to try out. The spiral flaky version. First time doing this.. not very satisfying result.. just glad to pull it through. Great learning experience though. Gonna try again.

I think the mooncakes looks tough and uneven already?

Before chilling

After chilling. Easier to cut.

 

I think the thing I enjoyed most in the mooncake is the paste. lol. I highly recommend KCT (Kwang Cheong Thye) near Aljunied MRT if anyone is making mooncakes. Many tasty varieties, extremely pliable pastes. They also sell packagings and other mooncake ingredients. Lol I sound like advertising.. I wished. Truly think that their products are worth many mentions. But I would like to try making my own paste next year 🙂

 

In a mooncake baking frenzy recently. There are just so many types out there. So many foods to explore. I think one lifetime is not enough. Saw this recipe in a Taiwan cooking book for festive bakes – including mid-autumn, lunar new year, dumpling festival. I think anyone interested in festive bakes can take a look for inspirations. The book can be borrowed from National Libraries Singapore. It includes many details about the different festive bakes, including little histories, and step by step pictures. Recipes for many different types of basic pastes are also included in the book.

 

Here’s my own step by step reference:

Original recipe calls for lard. I thought of replacing it with shortening. But ran out of it, so used butter for the oil dough. Could it be the reason why it turned out so dry? I saw the recipe by House of Annie using butter for water dough and oil for oil dough. Maybe I should have added more oil on hindsight. Or too much matcha powder? 10g is a lot. Almost half the bottle.

Oil dough is very dry. I only mixed till able to press together into a ball. It is nowhere near “smooth dough” as stated on recipe.

The flattening process is really important for nice flakes. It should be rolled out as thinly as possible to achieve “thousand flaky layers” (direct translate from the Chinese name). The edges should not be too much white too. As shown, I have failed to achieve that already. The white edges will show in the middle of the final pastry. I definitely am going to try to make this pastry again, although it takes so much time and effort.

Flatten with the sealed side face up.

Roll up into cylinders and cover with cling wrap. As shown, mine are too dry. It affected the wrapping later on.

Cut in half, flatten slightly, then roll out completely with rolling pin. Flip over and wrap filling in it, sealing the edges. I did the first two without flipping over and the thousand layers did not come out. Don’t know why.

The two at the top left hand corner are made without flipper dough over to wrap filling. No thousand layers.. lol..

After baking.. I don’t know what the top two monsters are. Looks hilarious haha..

 

Final product. Batch 2.

 

Ingredients (20 pieces)

Water dough

Plain flour 200g

Icing sugar 20g

Shortening 70g

Water 90ml

 

Oil dough

Cake flour 200g

Shortening 95g (replaced with 35g shortening, 60g butter)

Matcha powder 10g

 

Filling (divided into 35g each)

500g pandan lotus paste

100g low sugar white lotus paste

 

Method

Oil Dough:

  1. Sift flour onto table. Form a well. Add other ingredients except water. Add water in batches as the absorbency of different flour differs. Avoid over adding that create wet dough.
  2. Mix well and knead till smooth.
  3. Cover with cling wrap and rest for 30min.
  4. Roll into cylinder, cut into 40g each.

 

Water dough:

  1. Sift flour on table. Form a well and add in other ingredients.
  2. Use scraper to combine ingredients from outside to inside, till smooth dough is formed.
  3. Roll into a cylinder and cut into 30g each.

 

Assembling the pastry dough:

  1. Flatten water dough from the middle.
  2. Wrap oil dough in it. Paste excess skin on dough, sealed side face up.
  3. Flatten slightly and roll out from the middle into an oval shape using rolling pin, flatten completely (or as much as you can).
  4. From bottom to top, roll flattened dough into a cylinder. Rest cylinders for 10-15min, sealed side face up.
  5. Turn cylinders 90o. Flatten the dough with rolling pin as much as possible; roll up from bottom to top again. With the sealed side face down, cover with cling wrap and rest for 20-30 min.

 

Wrapping it up:

  1. Cut each pastry dough cylinders into half.
  2. With the cut side face up, flatten slightly with hand, then flatten till large enough to wrap. This is important as pulling to seal edges will tear the flaky layers.
  3. Flip the flattened pastry and wrap filling in it.
  4. With sealed side face down, on a baking paper, bake in preheated oven at 170oC for 15min. Remove and change direction. Bake for 15min.

 

Notes:

  • Despite adding water in batches, I eventually added too much, creating a really wet dough and have to knead more, that probably resulted in overstretching of gluten (flour + water + knead = stretch gluten), hence a tough pastry.
  • I find that I create a mess when I try to mix everything on the table – lost about 1 piece worth of water dough in the process. That’s also probably why the full amount of water is too much – there are lesser dry ingredients left to mix with the water.
  • In making the oil dough, 10g of matcha was probably too much. I should have saved the shortening for this and replaced butter for water dough instead. Simply because I ran out of shortening. The dough is too dry it cracks – no way is smooth dough formed. It became harder to shape the dough. But then again, I should probably not rest the dough too long in the latter part since I know that the dough is drier than it should have been. It was impossible to roll into a cylinder as it cracks like crazy. On hindsight, I should have added more oil or something.
  • The flattening process is very important. The flatter it is, the more “spiral” it will result, as you will have to roll it more, creating more “layers” in the process.
  • It is also important to note the amount of white dough at the edges when flattening out the first time. When rolling it in, the amount of white colour will show in the eventual product.
  • I wrapped the first two filling on the side I pressed down instead of flipping and there was no spiral to speak of. There was no such problem with other blogs I viewed. I believe there was a big problem with my technique in creating the flaky layers.
  • Though the mooncakes do not look like it could be stored in the fridge, it is much easier to cut after storing in the fridge in an air-tight container. Tastes nicer too.
  • Overall, the water dough is too tough due to too much kneading resulting in stretching of gluten. It would make good bread dough probably. Oil dough is too dry. End result is a pastry that is not light and flaky. I find it rather tough especially that I still can’t bite well.