Blissful Lemon Bundt Cake

This is my first project with my brand new oven.  I was quite excited to have a new toy in my kitchen, and my new toy is a true convection too.  So I decided to find something easy to start off, so I can have a feel of how my oven truly feels.

The outcome of this cake, came out a tad dense.  However, I don’t think it’s because it’s my oven, I think it’s because I mixed it to long after I added the flour mixture.  So, just a friendly reminder, stop mixing after the flour have just incorporated with the mixture.

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups cake flour
1 cup milk
Zest of 2-3 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  

Spray large bundt pan (12 cups) with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is light in color.  Add in the sugar until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once all the eggs have been added, and beat until well combined.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

Add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts alternately with the milk (flour mixture/milk/flour mixture/milk/flour mixture). Mix until everything is well combined; the batter will look a bit rough, but shouldn’t have any large lumps.

Stir in the grated lemon rind.

Pour entire mixture into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. A pan with a dark interior will bake cake more quickly; start checking at 40 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from pan.


Nutella Cake

I have always wondered if there are people that would actually not like Nutella.  Well, it turns out that there have been controversial posts about how harmful that Nutella can ruin your health and blah, blah, blah.

I’m a baker and I try my best to think outside the box.  Yes, I am not a very artistic person, so I can’t make things beautiful, but I try my best to fill my brain with knowledge of how I can combine raw ingredients, stick in the oven and hope for the best.

I had tuned this recipe for what I have in fridge, but I think it turned out okay.  Also, it was quite moist, compared the the original one that I made.  Although this recipe asks for 1 cup of Nutella, I was a tad generous and put in a cup with a heavy hand.

2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350oF

Spray large bundt pan (12 cups) with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth and white in color.  Add the sugar gradually, and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Then beat in the Nutella.

Alternately, add in the flour mixture and buttermilk (start and end with flour mixture).  Beat until the batter is smooth.

Pour entire mixture into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake for approximately 60-65 minutes until cake tester comes out clean for the bundt cake.

Let the cake cool and sprinkle with icing sugar.


Mantou (Chinese Steam Buns)

Yes, I understand that this is a baking blog, but I have explored a little further when I was trying out recipes with yeast.  As I was trying to find new recipes as I work off the fresh yeast in my fridge, I have decided on extending on the possibilities.

As I have been exploring the different techniques of kneading dough, I found that this was one of the simpler ones.  Also, vegan friendly, so not a whole lot of ingredients.

4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
16 grams of fresh yeast
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. baking powder

Sift together flour, sugar and salt on kneading table and create a well to hold the liquid.

Crumble the fresh yeast into the middle of the well.  Add warm water and vegetable oil.
Knead until it is smooth and a stretchy texture. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and set aside at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes, until double in size.

 Sprinkle the baking powder over the mixture and knead well into the dough.  Cover with damp dish towel again and rest for 20 minutes.

Split the dough into two and roll the dough into a rectangle shape.  Fold one third of the dough back into itself, then fold the remaining third over the top of the dough so your Mantou dough will be triple folded.

Roll out the dough into a thin layer (the thinner the dough, the prettier it will be when it is rolled) and then brush water over it.

From the long side, start rolling it up into a log.  Use sharp knife and cut the roll into small pieces.

To steam:  Place buns into a steamer and spray a small amount of water over the buns.  Put the steamers over cold water and turn on the heat on high.  Start timing the clock from boiling point (when there is steam) and steam  for about 10-15 minutes.  Turn the head off and rest for 5 minutes with lid SLIGHTLY ajar.



Blueberry Banana Muffins with walnuts

I have never been a muffin or even a cupcake kind of person.  I don’t have that kind of patience, nor do I have that kind of artistic talent for that kind of thing.  However, it seems that this is one of those recipes that if I have a bad banana, and some blueberries from the freezer AND if I’m looking for another variety of banana bread, here it is.  On top of that, the baking time is not as long.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 cup very ripe bananas
1/2 cup yogurt
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup blueberries
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Prepare and line 12 muffin tins.  Preheat oven to 350oF.

In a large bowl, beat eggs for 5 minutes.  Add the sugar, oil, bananas and yogurt.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Fold flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined.  (Do not use mixer, it may over mix the batter and the cake will become chewy).

Add in the blueberries and walnuts.   Scoop into prepared muffin tin. 

Bake at 350oF for approximately 1 hour.  Check with cake tester.

Coconut Cake

I was looking for something similar, but different to a classic yellow cake, so I tried this one out.  It may be good to change things up a little bit, when it comes to a plain classic yellow cake, but some people (myself included), don’t like coconut.  I don’t so much mind the taste and the fragrance of the coconut, it’s the texture of the coconut that I’m not to inclined to try.  Hence, I tried this recipe and changed it up with fine unsweetened shredded coconut.  If you’re not looking for a sexy yellow cake, you can always add a scoop of ice cream and dress it up with a little bit of berries.

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1  1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1  400-mL can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease two 9-in. round cake pans with oil. Line bottoms with parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir flour with coconut, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, until fluffy and white in color, approximately 3 min. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with coconut milk (start and end with the flour mixture)

Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops. Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted into centre of cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 min. Cool in pans on a rack, 10 min, then turn cakes out onto racks and let cool completely, 1 hour.

Coconut Cake

Chiffon Swiss Roll

Yes, here I am again, trying a new recipe on a swiss roll.  It wasn’t an epic fail, but it definitely wasn’t a success.  The finished product was better than the coffee and the green tea roll that I made, but it didn’t have have that fluffy and airy texture I was trying to achieve.

4 egg whites
2 tbsp. sugar (for the egg whites)

4 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar (for the egg yolks)
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. water
9 tbsp. cake flour

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks is reached and gradually add the sugar to the egg whites until stiff peaks forms.  (The volume of this meringue will determine how fluffy your cake will turn out)

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light colored. Add vegetable oil and water and mix again.  Add sifted cake flour to the mixture.

Gradually fold in half the meringue to the mixture and mix until combined. Then, add the second half of the mixture to the meringue bowl and mix lightly with a rubber spatula.

Pour into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and give it a couple of taps on the counter to shake out the air bubbles.  Keep in mind, the more the batter is agitated, the less volume it will have, as the volume of the meringue deflates with each movement.

Bake in a 320ºF for 15 minutes.

After it cools slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and let cool completely.  After the cake has completely cooled, remove the plastic wrap (the browned color on the cake will come off nicely with the wrap). Spread any cream filling you like, roll (I just whipped up some whipping cream and sugar), and it’s done.

Chiffon Swiss Roll


Mocha Kahlua Chocolate Sauce

This is not a baking exercise, but I used this for my ice cream cake a couple of weeks ago, and it was a hit with my co-workers.  I also saved some for my ice cream topping.  The kahlua was not cooked off, so this is not advised for minors that are not supposed to consume alcohol.

1 ½ cups dark chocolate
¼ cup milk
½ cup whipping cream
3 tbsps. of Kahlua
1 tbsp. Instant coffee
1/4 cup hot water

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water and set aside.

Place chocolate in a mixing bowl, making sure that they are broken into small pieces for easy melting.

In a saucepan, combine milk and cream over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and then remove from heat.  Pour hot milk and cream over chocolate. Stir until smooth. Add the coffee mixture, then add the Kahlua and continue whisking until combined.

This should make about 1 ½ cups.

Mocha Kahlua Sauce


Apple Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Filling

It seems to me that most large bundt cakes were hard to bake, as it has a lot of goodness in such a small pan.  Also to have the cake get baked thoroughly, I found, was quite challenging.  To my surprise, this recipe came out quite moist, but it wasn’t without the help of the applesauce and canola oil that can do the job right.  The creaminess of the cream cheese filling complimented the cake very well, and with the chunks of apples, it was a good texture.  Love it!

Apple Creamcheese

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tbsp. cake & pastry flour
1 tsp.vanilla extract

Ingredients for Cake:
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups cake & pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp.vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (approx. 2 apples)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 12 cup bundt pan.

Filling:  Work the cream cheese, butter and sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon or with a mixer.  Mix until it is completely emulsify.  Add the egg, flour and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. Set aside.

Cake:  Place the pecans in a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop the pecans.  Toast on a baking sheet in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or just until fragrant.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and allspice together.  Add the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix just until combined  (mix gently with a rubber spatula and DO NOT OVERWORK).  Fold in the toasted pecans and chopped apples until distributed throughout the batter.

Spoon about 1/2 of the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Top evenly with the cream cheese filling, leaving a small border around the edge of the pan, about an inch (it was tricky, but just do the best you can).   Top the filling with the remaining cake batter.

Bake for 60-75 minutes, or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and allow to cool completely (at least 2 hours).

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Cinnamon Rolls with Walnuts and Caramel Icing

I was sifting through my collection of recipes for variations of cinnamon buns, and I came up with this one, as it involves nuts.  It was little bit of a variation, so I decided to try it out.  I found the original recipe a tad sweet, so I adjusted the recipe and retried it again, just so that I know that it is the way that I like it.

Walnut Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients for the rolls:
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter
3 ½ cups bread flour, divided
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 package rapid rise yeast
1 egg
1 yolk

Ingredients for the filling:
3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Ingredients for the caramel icing:
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. milk
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups powdered sugar


Rolls:  Heat the milk until warm to touch.  Remove from microwave and add the butter. Stir for a minute until butter is melted, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, the sugar, the yeast and the salt.  Mix until ingredients are combined.  Add milk mixture to the mixing bowl and work the dough until dry ingredients are incorporated. Add egg and egg yolk and mix until combined.
On a clean surface, sift the remaining flour and incorporated into the rest of the ingredients. Continue to knead until the dough completely pulls away from the surface (approximately 5 minutes).
Coat a mixing bowl with oil and cover with warm damp towel.  Let it rest and rise to double the size.  Approximately 1 hour.
Filling:  While dough is resting, make the filling. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a 12×14-inch rectangle. With a table knife, spread rectangle with the 3 tablespoons softened butter.
Sprinkle evenly with the sugar/walnut/cinnamon mixture.
Starting at a longer edge of the dough, tightly roll into a log. Pinch seam to seal. With a dough cutter or serrated knife cut log into 8 equal size pieces. Use very light pressure to cut. Place cut side up into prepared pan, spacing evenly. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until double, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Bake for 20- 25 minutes, until golden and dough in center is done. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before drizzling with caramel icing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Icing:  When the rolls are baking, make the icing. Heat the butter and milk in a medium sauce pan.  Add brown sugar and stir to combine to make sure mixture is not grainy.  Take off the heat and add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir till smooth and lump-free. Icing should be fairly thin but not runny. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk. If too thin add a bit more powdered sugar.
***To freeze, place rolls in freezer uncovered for 1 hour, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap or foil and return to freezer.
Walnut Cinnamon Bun

Coconut Buns/Cocktail Buns

I’ve always wondered why they called these cocktail buns, when nothing about it, looks like a cocktail.  So, inquiring minds went on a Google search.  Apparently in the 1950’s, in Hong Kong, there was a bakery that couldn’t resist the wastefulness of disposing unsold but perfectly edible buns.  So they grounded up these day old buns, added a little sugar and coconut and just wrapped it with a fresh bread dough.  It’s name was from comparing to the bartender’s exotic mixture of alcoholic liquors, formulating a “cocktail”.  Which in Chinese, it was literally translated to a “chicken-tail bun”.  Fast forward to the more modern life, we just make them with a buttery filling mixed with coconut, to make it just as tasty.

Ingredients for water roux:
 1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup milk

In a small bowl, mix the bread flour and milk until there are no lumps.  I poured it through a sieve and into the saucepan over medium heat.  The mixture will gradually thicken. Once you notice some “lines” appearing in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done. Remove from heat.

Transfer the roux to a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent a hard film from formed on the mixture.  Let cool. The roux can be used immediately once it cools down to room temperature.

Ingredients for buns:
2/3 cup milk, warmed
1 egg, whisked
2/3 cup water roux
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp whole milk powder
3 cup bread flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or 22 grams of fresh yeast
1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted

Ingredients for filling:
3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cake flour
4 tbsp milk powder
1 cup unsweetened fine shredded coconut

Ingredients for topping:
1/3 cup cake flour
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, whisked (with a splash of milk, optional)
Sesame seeds
Egg wash

In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk to activate. Set aside.  If you’re using fresh yeast, combine it with the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and milk powder (and fresh yeast).  OR once the yeast is active and bubbly, add egg and tangzhong and stir to combine.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients, incorporating with a spatula or wooden spoon. Dough will be sticky at first DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR.  Once it is completely combined, add the melted butter. Knead on a clean surface, until dough becomes smooth and soft, yet pliable (approximately 8 – 10 minutes).  It should no longer be sticking to the surface that you were kneading on.

Grease the dough and cover with cling wrap or a linen towel and set aside in a warm area until doubled in size (approximately 40 minutes).  While dough is proofing, make filling and topping.

Combine the butter and sugar well. Sift in in milk powder, cake flour, and coconut. Mix to combine.  Then form filling mixture into a long tube. Divide into 12 equal portions. Have it rest in the fridge while you continue with making the topping.

Mix the softened butter with sugar well. Sift in the cake flour and combine well.  Transfer into a small piping bag.

Transfer proofed dough to a clean floured surface. Gently deflate and divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Form into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Press out each portion of the dough into an oval shape. Place a portion of filling in the middle of the oval lengthwise. Fold the bottom third up over the filling, then fold the top third down over the other layers (like a letter). Pinch seam closed. Turn bun over and tuck the ends underneath, pinching to seal.

Transfer bun to a parchment lined baking tray with seam facing down. Repeat this step with the remaining dough portions and fillings. Cover with a plastic wrap and let them proof for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly brush whisked egg on the surface of each dough. Snip off a small corner or the piping bag of the filling and without a tip, pipe two lines of topping and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Baked for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. About 5 minutes before finished, remove from oven and brush tops carefully with sugar glaze, if desired. Return to oven. Remove from the oven and brush on a second coat of sugar glaze. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Coconut Buns