Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Category Archives: Recipes: Baking

Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bombs

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I’ve created a monster. Well, mini monsters, fun-sized gremlins on crack.

I must admit, the only reason I’m actually punching out a recipe post after ages of my last one is because I need to quickly gush about this while I’m still high off cinnamon sugar. This is coming out now as I lick my fingers clean.

I don’t think this needs further introduction. It’s all in the name, and it’s everything that it sounds like, except better. There will be no sugar-coating (har har) in this post, because I want to get right into the crux of the batter, I mean matter.

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This.

I must have burnt the tips of my fingers a little, handling these bumpkins the moment they were birthed from the oven, dunking them into nutty browned butter, and rolling them in cinnamon sugar. After a handful of attempts at making cinnamon buns, I’m almost ashamed to say that I think I’d give that up and settle for this instead.

This is one of those situations in which I don’t know what I did right, can only speculate, but am more than content to indulge in its spoils anyway. I couldn’t be bothered with buttermilk so I threw in a couple of tablespoons of tangy Greek yoghurt as a substitute and must have stumbled upon some wonder of alchemy in the process. The result is a springy, tender inside perfumed with a hint of nutmeg, and a crusty top. That’s it. Oh, and I almost forgot – the browned butter did all the rest.

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Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bombs

Adapted from Smittenkitchen

The browned butter makes all the difference, as I have come to learn from any recipe that calls to melt butter. It’s a drastic change in flavour and aroma from butter that has only been melted, and requires only a couple of minutes longer atop the stove.

Yield: 8-10 medium muffin-sized bombs

Ingredients:

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup full-fat milk
3 tbs Greek yoghurt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter or oil 10 medium muffin cups.

2. Prepare topping. In a small pan, melt 6 tablespoons butter and cook till the surface starts to brown a little and the butter smells nutty. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mix and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

4. Combine the milk and yoghurt in a cup.

5. In another medium bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until pale and light. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix till the mixture thickens.

6. Add in 1/2 the flour mixture, stirring gently, and then 1/2 of the milk mixture. Repeat for the remaining flour and milk mixtures. Fold until just combined, taking care not to beat the mixture.

7. Scoop the batter into the cups 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15 minutes till golden brown.

8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cups (or you can keep them on) and dipping the tops and sides lightly in the browned butter, and then the cinnamon sugar. Try not to press down into the butter or sugar to prevent uneven bits from sticking.

Earl Grey and Lemon Cake

Earl Grey and Lemon Cake

It’s been raining, and as you’re reading this, you probably rolled your eyes because chances are, it’s still raining.

It rained continuously for 16 odd hours on Sunday, and I’m not counting in Saturday because it was a start-and-stop thing as if the sky thought it would be funny to sprinkle a little of this and that every now and then like Tinkerbell on crack. I spent the entire day frolicking around in the now severely eroded and muddied wreck that is Fort Canning Green at the Laneway Music Festival. I can’t imagine what it looks like now.

And since the sky didn’t look like it was going to let up (and it didn’t. Surprise!) I had to busy myself with other activities that didn’t involve my snuggly microfleece Uniqlo jacket, the blanket and the bed.

So I made a pot of tea, a delicately floral French Earl Grey, and I thought something was missing.

And so I made cake.

Not just cake to have with tea, but cake with tea, like tea in cake, because just cake and tea is boring. Read more of this post

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

I take my tarts very seriously. It ain’t a tart if the crust ain’t the least bit crunchy. What is that anyway?!

My memories and impressions of tarts date all the way back to when I was a little tyke, throwing tantrums when I didn’t get my strawberry and custard tart from Delifrance (that and a ham and cheese quiche – which I also take very seriously, but that’s another story for another day). There was something in that tart crust, a particular taste, besides being crunchy and hard. I still don’t know what that is, but I’ll find out eventually. The flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth sorts are good too, oh definitely, but it’s one that has crunch that really leaves a deep impression on me.

And yes, I’ve found the answer to that.  Read more of this post

Orange Chiffon Cake

Orange Chiffon Cake

I bake alone. I cook alone.

When I’m in the kitchen, I don’t want anyone else hovering around me, getting in the way of my shuttling between the stove and the chopping board, the fridge and the counter, the pantry and the dustbin, the oven and the counter… God forbid that you get in the way of my knife.

I get in the zone when I’m in the kitchen. I may have a frown on my face as I grate orange zests, sigh more than a couple of times when I spill stuff, but I’m fine.

I’m more than fine actually.

I’m around food. What could be better?

Now mommy used to make mind-blowingly springy, moist, fragrantfragrantfragrant orange chiffon cake back when I wouldn’t even venture a step near the stove and when we only had a tiny convention-microwave oven. Since then, she’s started working full-time again, and I’ve all but declared utter Kitchen Domination (during the scant hours when I’m not bleeding my eyes out writing reports – which is never, now) with the arrival of the oven and sharp knives. Mommy’s been staying away from me when I’m banging pots and pans.

That was until my incessant mewling for her chiffon cake eventually tore her away from her Cantonese dramas long enough to whip together my favourite recipe of hers.

She went back to her dramas immediately after. I remained in the kitchen.

My brother wasn’t very happy that there was just half a cake left by the time he wandered into the kitchen – which then mysteriously disappeared after he left. That was a cake 10-inch in diameter, 5 inch in height mind you.

This is one of those cakes that literally beckons to you and have you plaster your face to the glass window of the oven for the entire 35-40 minutes that it is baking.  Read more of this post

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza.

There are few things that irk me more when I’m rummaging through kitchen cabinets and the pantry than to find out that I am completely out of salt.

But not just any salt.

I’m talking sea salt, all kinds of sea salt in fact.

Flaky, coarse-grained, grey, fine, kosher….

There is, however, never a shortage of table salt in the kitchen. But I don’t care for that.

So you think salt’s just salt and what’s with all the fancy schmancy names? I mean, it’s no big deal right? Sure, salt’s important because without it, food’s going to taste like ribbons from the paper shredder, and oh, what with all the low-sodium products bursting forth in grocery stores, perhaps it’s best not to discuss potentially health damaging substances hm?

I apologise, but as you can see, I’m not really giving a damn.

I treat all my salt at home (and when I say ‘all’, I mean the total of 4 kinds of salt that I now have handy when I need them) more precious than any other gourmet ingredient – with the exception of my lone bottle of white truffle oil – because sodium chloride is king.

Have you ever forgotten to include that teaspoon of salt into your batch of cookies? Or perhaps intentionally left it out of your brownies for whatever demented reason? How’d that turn out?

Betcha didn’t really know why no one was helping themselves to seconds. Read more of this post

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pizza

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pizza

Hi.

No, this isn’t me doing wacky stuff in the kitchen as a result of horrible jet lag.

In fact, you know what? I haven’t even been in the kitchen at all ever since I came back from tripping all over Europe. Why? Because I’ve been running myself against the wall, pulling the split-ends in my hair out and threatening my computer with a jack hammer because it refuses to detect over a hundred pictures that I took during my trip. No, they turn up perfectly fine on my camera but vanish in Windows. If you don’t pull your act together you stupid computer, I’m buying a Mac!

So, till I figure out where them pictures are hiding in my CPU or when my computer finally succumbs to my desperate wailing and sobbing, here’s a dessert pizza from a while back – before I went off and got myself deathly afraid of bread from eating it every single day.

This is but the first to come of a slew of dessert pizzas that I’ll churn out once I overcome my temporary aversion to flour and sweet things. That’s weird, you say? The Italians will strangle me with to death with spaghetti for butchering a pizza? Well I’m sure they’ll be welcoming me with open arms once I throw together Nutella and banana. Or baked apples, cinnamon and custard. Or dark chocolate and candied oranges.

Everyone else makes blueberry cheesecakes.

I make pizza.

How about that eh?

So go on, give your favourite dessert a twist. Anything on a crisp, thin crust is fantastic.

Although I should give due warning that not everyone cozies up to the notion of sweet pizza. Like how some people hate tamagoyaki (japanese sweet omelette). Shrugs. Weirdos.

Well less for them and more for you.

Read more of this post

Olive and Rosemary Fougasse

Olive and Rosemary Fougasse

I don’t make fancy breads often, because bread in my home is mostly consumed for breakfast in manageable slices that fit into the toaster to crisp up.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fit this into the toaster, and just the mere thought of hacking up this fiery leaf- I mean loaf, of bread into misshapen pieces, slicing it open thinly just so I can spread or lay something over it would almost kill me. I’m not fond of making things that are too pretty to eat. Hence my lack of interest in cupcakes, food paint, fondant for cakes and food colouring.

But then this isn’t your typical breakfast bread, although please, feel free to do as you will with what you made fresh from your oven and with your two bare hands.

Yet when I saw how simple these were to make, and how they promised deliciously edible Ego Boost in the form of the heady fragrance of olives and perfume-y rosemary embedded in one of the most rustic and beautiful patterns one could carve out of dough, I just had to. And guess what? Everything – from the mixing to the heart-stoppingly frightening moment when it’s time to slide the fragile-looking doughs into the oven and to when they emerge crackly and golden – took less than 2 hours. I think I came out of the kitchen, a little dusted with flour and bearing what Richard Bertinet calls the Fougasse Grin, which essentially reads as ‘Look what I’ve made!’.

Read more of this post

Crunchy-Bottomed Lemon Tart

Crunchy-Bottomed Lemon Tart

 

  

Enough of those sorry excuses for lemon tarts. 

Stale, dismally soggy, not citrus-y enough… 

Forget it. I’m done getting disappointed with expanding empty calories on sub-standard pastries. 

I’m making my own, damn it. 

This has been a long time coming, you have to agree with me, and what’s surprising is that I didn’t turn my frustration into an entire Rant Post about the slow, drawn-out death of my glimmer of hope for one good tart. Just what is so difficult in making a decent lemon tart?! 

HA! 

This’ll show you, you…you phony pastry parlors! 

Read more of this post

Macadamia & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Macadamia & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

There will not be a recipe or post for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on my blog, ever. 

No chocolate chip brownies, no chocolate chip ice cream, no chocolate chip cake, souffle, pie, tart, cupcake, muffin, cheesecake, gratin, pasta, pizza, ramen, soba, udon… 

I’ve sworn off them. 

Why? 

Because they are ridiculously expensive for chocolates and are never of as good a quality as your bar of Cadbury. And for someone who doesn’t fancy cadbury, that is saying something. 

There will be, however, a recipe for The Best Chocolate Chunk Cookies and etc. 

I don’t care for chips. I want chunks. I want bold, obscenely sized, oozing lumps of chocolate in my cookies. None of those homogenous, wussy little clones because the good ones are pricey, and the cheap ones make me wonder why I didn’t buy a slab of Cadbury, or Van Houten, or Tudor Gold, or Lindt instead and hacked it up with a knife with enough gusto to make a butcher proud. 

Which is what I’ve been doing, and will be doing from now on. 

Have you seen the prices of those bars when NTUC, Cold Storage, Carrefour have them on offer? I could buy two of those 200g bars and I’d only get 300g worth of chocolate chips for the same price. The best I’ve seen was a 200g Van Houten hazelnut bar going for $2.60, which I used for this batch of cookies. 

If you’re like me who hasn’t wandered down the candy and chocolate aisle in the supermarket in ages for whatever reason, you probably should (with only the objective of purchasing baking chocolate in mind). Read more of this post

Oh yeasty goodness

Now look what I’ve done.

I started this on Saturday, and popped it in the oven today. Richard Bertinet wasn’t kidding when he said that longer fermentations and rising times produce a gorgeous rusty-red crust, full-bodied flavour and the slightest nutty sweetness. Oh my lordie. I could have an entire loaf as a snack, or perhaps all three. I hadn’t planned on taking a span of 3 days to bake this, but I’m glad I did. Now I only wished I had doubled the batch. Half of it’s gone already.

And of course my shaping leaves much to be desired. They’re suppose to look like baguettes but ended up mangled. Tsk.

That wasn’t all that I made with the dough though (say that ten times fast!). I could jump around the house in joy, bouncing off the walls like a chimpanzee on crack and red bull both at once because I thought three baguettes would satisfy the family enough, so I took the last ball of dough and made this: Read more of this post

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