Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Soft & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes


I think my search for the ultimate chocolate cupcake to bake for my kid's classmates on her birthday has ended. Many thanks to unpastiche for sharing this Very Chocolatey Cupcakes. Previously I have tried another of her recipes, which yields very delicious chocolate cupcakes as well. This recipe yields a soft and fluffy chocolate cupcake, while the One-bowl Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes yields an intense chocolatey flavor and denser (compared to this recipe) cupcake. I absolutely love that recipe, but I may opt for this recipe - actually, I can't decide :D

Been pondering on what exactly contributes to a soft and fluffy cupcake - buttermilk? creaming method? oven temperature?

Here's the list of ingredients from unpastiche. Please refer to her blog for the recipe and method.

Ingredients
Makes 12 cupcakes (Makes 11 for me, size 50x39mm)

60g butter
120g white sugar (I used 100g golden granulated sugar)
1 egg
125g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4tsp baking powder (I used 1/2tsp double-acting baking powder)
120g milk
1 drop of vanilla paste
35g unsweetened cocoa powder
100g hot water + 1/2tsp instant coffee granules


my notes:
  • I preheated my oven to 190 degC, then reduced to 175 degC once I put the cupcakes into the oven. Because of that, I removed the cupcakes from the oven after 18 mins as the toothpick inserted came out with only a few crumbs.
  • Cups were filled between 1/2 to 2/3 full.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes


I was searching for an easy recipe to bake for 40 kids for my daughter's birthday. It has to be yummy and pretty too, since they are for kids and kids love pretty things, don't they?

Found this Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes recipe online. Actually, this recipe can be found on many sites. The variation is the Chocolate flavor, which you can replace 20g of flour with cocoa powder. The steps seem easy to follow, and they look very pretty with a slight domed top. I tried the chocolate version first. The recipe says it will make 12 cupcakes, but perhaps it is referring to smaller cups? I only managed to fill 6 cups, and I filled them up too full - about 3/4. The result is cracked tops and one of the cupcakes overflew. They are quite ugly :p After analyzing the issue, I baked a second batch, and this time, I filled up 8 cups, and each cup 2/3 full. The cupcakes rose beautifully in the first 10-15 mins, then strangely they collapsed slightly on the sides, so only the middle part of each cupcake was risen slight. It's somewhat funny looking, but not too obvious. I have been thinking about how to achieve a smooth, slightly domed-top cupcake since :p But I guess the result was still encouraging.

I did not frost the cupcakes as I always thought they are sweet enough, frosting is pretty but I'd like to reserve for very special occasions. I brought these cupcakes for my Korean class teacher and classmates yesterday. I know kids love the sight of cupcakes, but adults? The answer is, adults love seeing cupcakes too! :D Love seeing happy faces :)

As I finally tried one this morning (somehow I forgot to put this one into my bag yesterday), I was surprised to find that the cupcake was very soft! I wonder if it has got to do with the evaporated milk I swopped in place of regular milk. I have tried baking muffins with evaporated milk before and they turned out soft each time. Perhaps that is the reason?

Here's the recipe I used. Please refer to goodtoknow for the original recipe and method. The recipe is from a famous bakery called The Hummingbird Bakery.

Ingredients
Makes 8, 50x39mm cupcakes

120g plain flour
1tsp double-acting baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g castor sugar (original recipe uses 140g)
40g unsalted butter, soften
120g evaporated milk (original recipe uses whole milk)
1 egg
1 drop of vanilla paste (original recipe uses 1/4tsp vanilla extract)

Method
  1. Preheat oven at 170 degC.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add salt, sugar, and butter. Mix with a whisk (original recipe uses an electric mixer) until a sandy consistency.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and milk well. Add half of the mixture into the flour mixture and mix. Add rest of milk mixture and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be smooth.
  5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 mins.


It was a sunny, hot and humid afternoon in Singapore (as usual? :D). The color of the cupcakes look washed-out (taken with my humble iphone 5S camera).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chocolate Muffin


I was craving for a high domed muffin, you know, like those from Chocolate 'N Spice. I googled and found some bloggers tried to recreate the high domed and cake-like muffin. Then, I saw the photo of a somewhat familiar looking muffin on Joy of Baking and decided to use her recipe.

Some baking experts said that the temperature of the oven is the key to a high domed muffin. Setting the oven temperature at 200 degC seems to be the trick. Joy of Baking uses 190 degC, which is pretty close to 200 degC. Of course if the muffins are baked at 200 degC, they will be overbaked/burnt if you bake them for the same period of time. That requires some adjustments based on your oven at home. I didn't want to take the risk of a burnt muffin, so I preheat the oven at 200 degC, then lowered it to 190 degC at the start of the baking. I lowered it further to 180 degC after 10 mins, but had to bake it 10-15 mins longer than the 20 mins per the original recipe. More experiments will be required before I can figured out what is the secret formula for my oven :p The muffin is done once an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean (a few crumbs is ok).

Here's the recipe I used, please refer to Joy of Baking for the original recipe and method/video.

Ingredients
Makes 12 5cm-diameter paper muffin cups

113g unsalted butter, melted
130g top flour
100g organic wholemeal flour (I ran out of plain flour :p)
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
110g dark brown sugar + dry demerara sugar (original recipe uses 265g light brown sugar)
3 medium eggs (original recipe uses 2 large eggs)
240g low-fat milk including 1 tbsp vinegar (original recipe uses buttermilk)
few drops of vanilla paste (original recipe uses 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
100g chocolate chips (original recipe uses 170g)

This recipe produces a soft, cake-like muffin although it uses the dry- and wet-ingredients method.

my notes:
- butter can be melted using bain marie
- to substitute for buttermilk, pour 1 tbsp of vinegar in a cup, add milk to 240g
- batter is thick
- stop folding once no trace of dry ingredients is seen
- drastic reduction in sugar results in a muffin that is not very sweet, but just nice for my palate
- chocolate muffins/cakes usually taste more flavorful the next day

Simple recipe, simple pleasure in life :)

I'm not able to take a good photo of the muffin as the color is very dark :D

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Matcha Chiffon Cake II



After my last "slanted" matcha chiffon cake, I had been thinking of attempting it again. As Chinese saying goes, 哪里跌倒,哪里爬起来 - literally translates to "get up from the same place you fell". Doing that should help me rebuild my confidence in chiffon cake baking :p

This time, I attempted HHB's Matcha Chiffon Cake recipe. This recipe is similar to Nami's recipe. Actually, I guess most chiffon cakes recipes are very similar. Thanks to HHB for sharing this recipe. I realized the tube pan I have is actually 16cm. Sotong me measured the bottom of the pan, which is 12.5cm. My sis bought the same pan from Phoon Huat and told me that it is a 16cm. That was how I realized :D It is difficult to find a recipe for this small pan size. For this recipe, which is for 17cm tube pan, I filled up my 16cm pan plus 2 5cm-diameter muffin cups.

The eggs I bought appeared to be smaller than usual (Seng Choon 1st Born Eggs), so I "boldly" reduced the oil to 35g :p Sticking to a chiffon cake recipe is the key to its success, that's why I said "boldly" :p Interestingly, I saw another matcha chiffon cake recipe on cookpad, which uses no oil! But I was not brave enough to try that recipe. Maybe next time. I also replaced some flour with rice flour, and the cake turned out soft :D

Please refer to HHB's blog for the original recipe.

Ingredients
- 80g castor sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 3 egg yolks
- 30g rice flour
- 50g top flour
- 10g matcha powder
- 35g canola oil
- 60g water



  1. Set oven to 180 degC. Using a handheld mixer, beat egg whites until white and foamy. Add about 2/3 of the sugar into the whites and continue beating until almost stiff peak.
  2. Beat egg yolk and remaining sugar until batter is pale. Add oil gradually at the same time continue beating. Add water and mix well. Sift flour and matcha into the mixture. Fold with a whisk (I find it easier to fold with a whisk) until batter appears smooth.
  3. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk batter. Fold with a spatula, from bottom up.
  4. Add rest of egg whites in 2 batches. Fold until batter is well mixed and smooth. Bang the mixing bowl onto the table top several times to release air trapped inside batter. Pour batter into tube pan.
  5. Bake for 30mins in preheated oven.
  6. Once baking is done, remove from oven and invert cake on an inverted mug. Leave it to cool completely before unmoulding.
my notes: 
- Oven temperature is very important in chiffon cake baking. Always preheat the oven before starting work. Use an oven thermometer.
- Always add oil and water to egg yolk + sugar mixture, before adding flour.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Simple Birthday Cake


I baked a simple birthday cake for my sister last week. The first birthday cake I baked was for my eldest sister too, and it was my first attempt at Strawberry Shortcake. That was 2 years ago and it looks like my frosting skill has not improved at all. The lack of practice in frosting is the main reason.

There was no strawberries nor was there any Rocher at home, but fortunately there was a packet of Kong Guan "gem" biscuits at home and they came in handy for the cake decoration. For Singaporeans who are around my age, this gem biscuit brings back some fond childhood memories. This biscuit was a favorite snack when I was a child. The cake looks kind of funny but colorful :D My sisters and nieces all had a smile when they saw this cake.

As always, sponge cake and chiffon cake are my greatest challenge - I am never confident until the cake is done baking and cooling. I had wanted to follow the recipe from Cook.Bake.Love because the name of the recipe "[Easy to Succeed] Basic Sponge Cake" boosted my confidence :) But Murphy's law was at play again - I broke the second egg yolk and some yolk went into the mixing bowl with egg whites. The recipe was supposed to be a chiffon cake method. Since I didn't want to waste the eggs, I immediately transformed it to a whole-egg sponge cake recipe :p Fortunately, the cake turns out fine, although I did wonder if it was supposed to be taller than what it was.

Here's the recipe I used. Please refer to Cook.Bake.Love for the original recipe and method.

Ingredients
Makes one 8-inch round cake

- 4 medium eggs
- 90g castor sugar
- 40g melted butter
- 106g top flour
- 1 drop vanilla paste