October 26, 2008

Quick Breakfast Fix - Cranberry Scones

I'm always happy whenever I get the chance and in the mood to making my own breakfast. By that I don't mean the normal cereal, or peanut butter on bread. I mean from scratch - bake my own. Although this is nothing new, but to bake and enjoy it while still warm right out of the oven is not something I get to do often.

After a failed attempt at macaron making (I could have used the wrong proportion of ingredients - which I shall not mention in detail for now, will save it till my next successful attempt ;) hopefully soon), I just felt that I have to bake something to appease for not having bake a successful item for the week. Thus, I made a switch from my usually weekend breakfast routine which is usually eat-out at my neighbourhood food court and decided to bake some easy scones for breakfast.

Scones belong to the 'quickbread' category and you don't need alot of time to put up all the ingredients. My preparation time was just about 15 minutes and another 20 minutes of baking time and there you are! Warm scones for breakfast. :) While there are many scone recipes around, I chose one with the most basic ingredients, and to me it tasted no less inferior as compared to those I'd at bakeries before.

Cranberry Scones


280g all-purpose flour
65g granulated white
sugar (I reduced to about 55g)
2 1/2 tsp
baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
76g cold unsalted

50g fresh cranberries, cut in half (I used dried cranberries)
50g mixed candied fruit and peel (I omitted these)
160 - 180 ml milk
25g sliced almonds (I omitted as I did not have it. I replaced with walnuts)


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place rack in middle of oven. Butter or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or rubbing it with your fingers if you do not have a pastry blender. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.
  4. Gently stir in the cranberries and mixed fruit, making sure not to crush the berries. Add the milk and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
    knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough into a circle that is 8 inches (20cm) round and about 11/2 inches (3.75 cm) thick.
  5. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and then brush the scone with milk.
  6. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the scone into eight triangles and then sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Alternatively you can cut into rounds using a round cookie cutter of about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the scone comes out clean.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking

Note: Original recipe includes popping the baked scones under the broiler which I did not.

I usually don't like to have too heavy breakfast thus i just have mine with tomatoes left from the tomato omelette (below). I think I had something (refering to tomato baked with cheese on top) like this before at some cafes serving breakfast but I couldn't remember where it was :P
I made tomato omelette to go with the scones for my mum. I liked how the tomatoes made the omelette more juicy as compared to the usual scrambled egg I fried which was always too dry. I prefer wetter scrambled egg. :)

October 16, 2008

Compilation of Recent Bakes

Over the past one month, I've been trying out different recipes, taking photos, sorting out my photos...but simply no time to do much posting. So, I thought of just sharing some of the items I'd baked recently which I think are worth recommending. :) They were all taken from some of my favourite blogs.
This raisin loaf, as you can see, hasn't got many raisins cos' I had only a little left. The recipe was taken from my favourite blog, as usual, Happy Homebaker. I did not make any adjustment to the recipe, except that I used the bread machine only to knead the dough, the proofing, shaping and baking were all done out of the machine.

Although the ingredients are very basic, as it does not contain eggs, or milk, but only milk powder and water, the bread turned out surprisingly soft even for a few days. Ironically Happy Homebaker left a comment on my flickr asking me to teach her how to make this soft bread; and I replied her that hey this recipe's actually from you! :D

These cute doggie cookies were from Happy Homebaker as well. I made the first batch of Holicks flavour but found that there wasn't enough to go round for my nephews and nieces on children's day. So I made another batch using milo.
These cookies were crunchy on the outside, and the interior had a sandy texture that melts in your mouth. I prefer the Holicks version. :)

Lastly, these green tea melting moments were on my to-do list for quite some time. I immediately bookmarked after seeing Mandy's post. Although I did not really manage to capture through the photos how good it was, just try it and you will know (Provided you are a green tea lover). :)
I made this as a little gift for my friend, Xiuling's birthday. Hope she likes it. :)

October 14, 2008

Baking for a Good Cause

Isn't it great when you are able to do something out of your interest, and at the same time make a little contribution to the needy? Killing two birds in one stone, yea? ;)

My company holds this 'Charity Breakfast Event' every year where we sell our breakfast to company staffs and the proceeds will go to the charity. Breakfast items can be anything, from homemade to pre-order stuffs. Of course homecook dishes can reap more profits, with lower capital involved.

When I saw this email circulating, I was so excited and immediately contacted the person in charge to find out more. This is a great opportunity for me to put my passion to a meaningful use. Baking for charity! :)

There were many excellent cooks (my colleagues) who made delicious hot, piping breakfast items such as yam cakes, curry, bee hoon , glutinous rice etc. I really applaud their time and effort cos' they had to wake up early in the morning to prepare all the food. For me, I was already drop dead tired after using my whole of the weekends to bake cookies and cakes.

To be frank, I was initially hesitant whether to participate in this event. This would be the first time I'm actually selling my bakes to the public. What if I couldn't manage to bake the required quantity as planned? What if people finds my cakes not tasty? What if I make too little/too much?? These were all the 'what ifs' hovering in my head. Thanks to dd for his encouragement, and the support from my close colleagues, I decided to go ahead with it. Afterall, if I don't try, I would never overcome the initial hurdle.

One of my dear colleague, who shares this same interest in baking, offered to help me with the baking. We spent the entire Saturday baking chocolate chunk and almond cookies. It was loads of fun, undergoing QC for the size per cookie, rolling the dough, packing into cookie bags and discovering the 'scheming tactics' in businesss. We are learning to be future entrepreneurs :P
This is a very rich, yummy indonesian walnut cake. Although the method is more tedious (Uses a combination of creaming method, followed by beatng of egg whites to stiff to be folded into the creamed mixture, this produces a rich, yet soft-textured cake).

The actual day on a Monday morning. I was too busy tending to my stall as well as patronising other stalls that I've forgotten to take pictures of other yummy goods! It was only a short 1 1/2 hour event. We were overwhelmed when our bakes were sold within about an hour! (Actually that's because we did not make alot, hehe!) It was my first time thus I couldn't gauge well the amount I should make. Anyway, I felt that the quantity was just nice, if not just a little more would be sufficient as the crowd started to disperse at around 10am where everybody have finished buying their breakfast.
I was glad I plucked up the courage to give it a try, as it boosted my confidence to bake for more people. More importantly, we managed to raise some money for charity. :) Oh I forgot to mention that if not for my supportive colleagues and some bosses, I guess the cookies and cakes would not be able to be sold within such a short time frame! :D

October 3, 2008

1 Year of blogging & my Macaron Challenge!

How time flies...I couldn't believe that I've blogged for 1 year, which means it's already 12 months; or 48 weeks!

This 1 year happens in such a swift, that I actually find it rather short for me. I feel that I've not baked enough, or have accomplished much in baking or cooking. There are still many recipes which I have yet to try (though it's never-ending and the list just keeps piling up) and for certain baked items such as chiffon cakes or a properly frosted celebration cake, I've still yet to 'conquer' and baked to perfection.

I wished I had more time and energy to practise on my skills to bake beautiful and yummy goods, But, there are limitations since I only do baking as a hobby. There are many committments and activities that I also wish to enjoy, blogging being one of them, though it's rather time-consuming thus I'm not able to blog about my kitchen happenings that often. Nevertheless I'm glad that I've started this blog although I was rather uncertain one year ago.

This blog has affirmed my love for baking. Now I know I'd never get tired of baking or feel like stopping anytime. In fact I enjoy more than before. I've also taken much interest in cooking, to know more about the types of ingredients, condiments, herbs and methods of cooking, and to enjoy the whole process of cooking my own healthy meals. I'm now able to work more efficiently in the kitchen, as compared to many years back when I need to prepare meals for my mum after she was out from hospital.

This blog has allowed me to meet many wonderful people out there who shared the same interest as me, and whom I've learnt and draw inspiration from. Thanks to all out there who have helped me in one way or another. :) I'd continue to keep this blog going and learn as I go along. I aspire to be able to bake and cook yummy, healthy or sinful dishes for my love ones!

To give myself a little pamper, I'd actually wanted to bake a cake for my blog's one year birthday in Sep. hehe. But somehow for the past few weeks, I just don't feel like having a cake. I'm not a cake-lover anyway. I love baking before I actually love cakes :P. So I decided to bake something challenging - something I love to eat, had always wanted to try but kept putting it off. Yeah, that's macarons!

I fell in love with it after I first tried it at Bakerzin. Thereafter, I had tried it at different outlets. I told my dd that I wanted to try ALL the flavours that is available. Hehe...greedy right.. :P Though many had done it with success, the thought of having to deal with egg whites just scares me off. But this time round, I decided that I shall try making it for myself. :)

Here comes my challenge!

This was my very first attempt. I admitted that I did not do much research prior to making it. As it was my first try, I did not want to make any changes to the recipe. Thus I followed the full recipe using 100g of egg whites. It's a huge recipe, thus I really had difficulty getting the ground almond-icing sugar mixture through the sieve (mine has rather small holes). In the end, I gave up and went ahead with some sugar crumbs. But I guess that's not the real reason. The batter was thin and it spread a lot. The macarons cracked badly and no feet was developed. :( But as a chocolate lover, I did not discard it. They were still good cookies, but too sweet for me.

For my second attempt, I tried another recipe using only 1 egg white. Everything went smoothly, until I realised that the caster sugar required in the recipe was to be added during the beating of the meringue and not to be added together with the almond-sugar mixture! What a muddle-head I am! I did feel puzzled when I saw castor sugar being included in the recipe (for macaron, almond is always mixed with ICING sugar), and I should have been more alert to read the recipe once more. Result? Haha as you can see, big holes throughout the cookie, not even to mention whether there's 'feet' or not cos you can't tell. LOL. It actually resembles the almond crisp I've made previously.


After two times of failure, I gone into more research, and try to analyse what probably might work for my oven. For this final trial, I used the recipe from here. Duncan Markham provided a very detailed write-up on macaron making, with pictures to show how would the correct batter (before piping) and a successful macaron would look like. He also mentioned the few methods which you could try. Do read his write-up for clearer explanation.

When I saw the piped macarons, my confidence was boosted a little as it was similar to what Duncan Markham showed in his write-up. The batter should be thick (but of piping consistency) with an ivory colour (if you are making plain ones).

It was really amazing that the 'feet' started to appear at around the 3rd minute. I followed his advice of opening door after 5 minutes as my oven tends to be too hot. The temperature of my oven actually fluctuated a lot but I try not to get distracted by that as I could only continue with the baking. I realised for those that were further away from the oven door, the macarons actually swayed sideways, i.e. only one side of the macaron developed feet while the other didn't. This was one of the problems that Duncan troubleshooted and what he could only advised was to let the piped batter rest a while before baking (which I did).

Still, I'm a happy girl cos' I finally get to make my own macarons, and more so happy when others tried and said it's nice (but too sweet which I found so too). I won't consider it a success for now since I have not had repeated success. But I would want to try out other flavours again. :)

Some useful info on how others had attempted this, you could see also here, here and here.