This easter…

I have never celebrated Easter in my life but since I was little, I know of the nursery rhyme “Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!“. I had my first hot cross buns when I moved to Australia and I grew to love these spiced and fruited buns. I love to heat mine up in the oven to get the toasted top. Together with butter, the warm spiced bun is the perfect breakfast/ tea time treat.

Last year, I got the Heston Blumenthal x waitrose earl grey and mandarin hot cross buns. This year, I decided to make them instead. I read a few recipes and decided to test out The Little Loaf’s recipe. Given that I am a bit of a chocolate addict, I added dark chocolate bits to some of the buns I made.

Hot Cross Buns (recipe adapted from The little loaf)
Makes 13 buns

Buns

Ingredients:
225g strong white flour
225g wholemeal flour
7g dried yeast
5g salt
50g light brown sugar
2 tsp all spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
50g unsalted butter
250ml milk (full fat)
Orange zest (1/2 orange)
1 large free range egg
100g raisins
80g sultanas
85g mixed peel
Dark chocolate bits (depending on how much you want in your buns)

Crosses & Glaze

Ingredients:
50g plain flour
4 tbsp Water (adjust accordingly)
2 tbsp golden syrup

1. Mix the flours, salt, sugar, yeast and spices together in a large bowl.

2. Melt the butter on the stove then remove from heat and stir in the milk. Add the orange zest then beat in the egg.

3. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Use your hands and mix them together to form a soft dough.

4. Lightly flour the kitchen top and knead for about five minutes until the dough gets stretchy and elastic.

5. Flatten the dough out and sprinkle over the raisins, sultanas and mixed peel. Press them into the dough, then continue to knead for a couple of minutes more until fully incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball and put in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for about an hour until the dough doubles in size.

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6. Lightly flour the kitchen top again before tipping the risen dough. Flatten the dough slightly and then divide them into 13 portions. Each should weigh about 80g. Gently shape each one into a round and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, about 2cm apart. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for a further 40 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 200 degC. To make the crosses, mix the flour with about 4 tbsp water until a thick paste forms. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle or cut the corner off a sandwich bag. Slash the top of each bun with a cross and pipe the flour paste on. As I had neither, I basically used a spoon and spreaded mine into the slits.

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8. Place buns in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the buns get a lovely golden brown colour.

9. Gently heat the golden syrup in a small pan. Remove the buns from the oven and brush all over with sticky syrup. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Serve warm with tea and butter!

Side note: Home made hot cross buns taste so much better than store bought ones!

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We are not all perfect…

It’s been a few weeks since Chinese New Year and I have been wanting to make these almond cookies which I have had whilst visiting relatives during the festive season. Since finding out the recipe from Peaches & Donuts’ blog, I bought the ingredients straight away.

Almond Cookies that melts in your mouth
Recipe from Peaches and Donuts

Ingredients:
(Makes about 40)

100g ground almonds
150g plain flour
70g light brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
approx. 100ml light olive oil (adjust accordingly to pastry)
1 egg yolk, beaten

1. Sieve the flour, light brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into your food processor.
2. Add the ground almonds to the above mixture.
3. Slowly trickle in the oil while pulsing, until a cohesive dough is formed.
Adjust the amount of olive oil depending on the humidity/moisture levels – the aim is to achieve a dough which is just able to hold it’s shape (and doesn’t crumble) when you attempt to roll it into a ball. .
4. Heat the oven to 180degC.
5. Roll the dough into 2.5cm balls, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
6. Using a pastry brush, lightly glaze the tops of the cookie balls with the beaten egg yolk.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies become slightly golden.
8. Cool on wire rack.

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Do keep an eye on your cookies as they cook. For my two batches which were in the same oven, the top batch came out brown. They still taste good but the golden ones are the ones which stand out.

To be somebody…

Over the last few days, I woke up wondering what I am doing with myself. Nearly 32 and nowhere near where I thought I would be. Perhaps it is normal for everyone to have days like this. I find it perplexing and it catapults me into a whole thought process. At age 16, I wanted to be a sports coach/athlete. Being the smallest girl in class, I was always sheltered by my parents and people often thought that I was too ‘small’ to make it BIG. This brought out the fighter in me, always wanting to prove others wrong. I did in some ways but in other ways, I lost. Losing my first dream was tough but I got over it and am an architect today. Today I fight a battle of my own, my struggle to find inspiration.

On days like this, I find a way of escaping. Baking brings me into a different world whilst eating remains my indulgence. From my total inability to cook nearly ten years ago, I have managed to learn and fumble my way through. The ability to produce a tasty baked end product makes me smile. There is just that therapeutic feeling I get whenever I bake. I am no masterchef but I am good at baking. There have been thoughts about a small cafe with my photography, baked goods and good coffee when I retire. A little bit like this amazing cafe, De Laatse Kruimel which I came across in Amsterdam (Stay tuned for Amsterdam Part II!). Satisfaction for me comes from my happy husband and friends who love my baking.

As I had some leftover matcha (green tea) powder left, I decided to have a second attempt at making another marbled cake.

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Lemon and Matcha marbled cake
Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker:

2 2/3 cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
zest of one lemon & juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp matcha powder (depending on the matcha powder – I put 2 tbsp in mine)
150g melted unsalted butter (approx. 15 tbsp)

1) Preheat the oven at about 180 deg C.
2) Butter the loaf pan and dust the insides with flour. Tap out the excess.
3) Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4) Whisk the eggs into the sugar until the eggs and sugar are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla extract followed by the sour cream.
5) Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in a few batches. The batter will become smooth and thick.
6) Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions.
7) Divide the batter in half into two separate bowls. In one bowl, add the lemon zest and juice. In the other bowl, fold in the matcha tea powder.
8) Alternate pouring the lemon and matcha batter into the loaf pan. Fill the loaf pan with about 2cm room at the top. Use a fork to swirl through the batter.
9) Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven.
10) Allow the loaf to rest in the pan before running a knife along the edges of the pan and inverting the cake onto a cooling rack.

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On this occasion, I had some leftover batter which I made into little muffins. Always a treat to have extras!

Feel free to experiment with flavours.

Visiting the UNESCO world heritage listed Amsterdam (Part 1)

amsterdampostcard

A couple of weekends ago, the dude and I headed to Amsterdam to celebrate his birthday. It was his first trip to this beautiful city but a second for me. Whenever you tell people of your trip to Amsterdam, they speak about the red light district and the coffeeshops. However, there is so much more to Amsterdam than that. 

We managed to rent bikes for two days and peddled our way through tiny streets in search of tasty pastries, dutch pancakes, macaroons, rijstafel and okonomiyaki! 

The amazing design sensibility of the people makes this city such a beautiful one. 

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amsterdamkitchen

We checked out BurgerMeester on our first day there. The hake burger I had was a treat and even though the dude was very skeptical about a fish burger, it turned out much better than expected. The last time I was in Amsterdam, I had tried a raw herring in a bun at one of the stalls by the canal. I remembered taking a bite and handing it over to my friend straight away. This time round, we didn’t manage to have it but this hake burger tasted really good as compared to my herring experience.

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The dude gave his beef burger royaal a thumbs up but did mention that it was a little too complicated as compared to the Royale with cheese at Lucky Chip, back in London. It was quite a strange experience sitting in the burger shop with photos of moo cows all around us. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t guilty of eating cow.

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That evening, I booked us in for a rice table meal (aka Rijsttafel) at Tempo Doeloe as recommended by a fellow food blogger, Eat Noodles Love. As I don’t eat beef, it proved difficult for the waitress to serve us the full rijsttafel menu and she suggested the mini rice table menu instead so that she could replace some of the beef dishes.

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When we got our food, we were pleased with the quantity though there seemed to be a bit of repetition. We were told to start with the mild dishes and finish at the spicy end as they were placed in order of spiciness. The meal was good but it was a little too ‘meek’ for my taste palette.

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Perhaps it was because we didn’t get the beef rendang, or maybe it was the vegetable dishes that were too similar in taste, that made the meal pleasant but without anything that really stood out. The poor service didn’t help, and we were told that they don’t serve tap water. They also overcharged us on the bill which they quickly amended, when questioned. It’s a pity that we were left disappointed. There are lots of good reviews nevertheless, and if you ever go, let me know if you had a better experience than us!

Tempo Doeloe
Utrechtsestraat 75
1017 VJ Amsterdam
020 625 6718 (booking required)