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Sweet Potato & Walnut Loaf Cake

I missed the whole pumpkin dessert bandwagon when Halloween rolled around, but then I thought, why not use another orange-y vegetable instead? Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite root vegetable and I love how brightly coloured they are.

Back in Hong Kong, my mum always used to buy these amazing little Japanese purple sweet potatoes, but I haven’t yet been able to find a variety as moist and with such an intense flavour as those in the UK. These sweet taters were so delicious that there was a cafe dedicated to making sweet potato soft serves 😀

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Unfortunately, I think this place is now closed, but if I’m able to source some really good sweet potatoes from somewhere, I may give a go at making some purple ice cream too!

Anyway, back to this cake – since other vegetables have worked well in bakes (carrot, pumpkin and even courgette!), using sweet potato also made sense. I’ve adapted my recipe from the one I found here, mainly in cutting down the amount of sugar and upping the spices.

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (you’ll need 200 g of its cooked weight)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 120 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 50 ml water
  • For the topping:
    • 80 g walnuts
    • 1 tbsp caster sugar
    • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Directions

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes (either in a microwave for 8 mins or until soft, or in a steamer), scoop out the flesh and mash. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  3. Line your loaf tin with parchment paper.
  4. Whisk together sugar and oil, adding one egg at a time and mixing well.
  5. Add vanilla extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift flour and combine with baking powder and spices.
  7. Add a third of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, adding a splash of water in between mixes, until all the ingredients have been folded together.
  8. Stir in the mashed sweet potato.
  9. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin and top with the walnut, sugar and spice mix.
  10. Bake for an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.

This loaf cake turned out to be really tasty! As I cut down on the sugar, it is only lightly sweet and delicious with a cup of tea. The cake is more like a pound cake than a sponge but it isn’t uncomfortably dense, and the walnut topping adds a great contrast in the textures. All in all, another lovely cake for the cooler autumn season 🙂

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Autumn Toffee Apple Cake

Autumn is in full swing so I thought I’d finally do some baking to warm up these chillier days. Unfortunately work has gotten busier so I haven’t written as much recently, but this delicious dessert has made me realise how much I like trying out new recipes and eating it all afterwards 😀

This spiced toffee apple cake is the perfect answer to cold grey afternoons when all you want to do is curl up in bed. In fact I think this is what a hug would taste like if you ate it. It does take a bit of prep before baking but it’s actually quite therapeutic and the results are well worth it.

Ingredients

  • 200 g dates (I used medjool)
  • 200 ml milk
  • 200 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 175 g light soft brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250 g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 small red apples (I used cox)
  • 1/2 bramley apple
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • For the toffee sauce:
    • 8 toffees
    • Splash of milk
    • Pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  2. Line your baking tin with parchment paper.
  3. Roughly chop the dates and simmer gently in the milk in a saucepan for 5 mins. Leave to cool.
  4. Blitz the dates and milk in a blender / food processor until it forms a smooth puree.
  5. Prepare the apples. Peel and dice the bramley apple into small chunks.
  6. Quarter and core the cox apples and cut into thin slices. Toss them with a squeeze of lemon juice and leave in a bowl.
  7. Using an electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugar. Crack in the eggs, one at a time and mixing in between. Add in the date puree and vanilla extra and continue whisking until smooth, but don’t worry if there are still some lumps.
  8. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, baking powder and spices).
  9. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined.
  10. Add the diced bramley apple into the cake batter and mix gently.
  11. Scrape the cake batter into the baking tray.
  12. Arrange the sliced apples into overlapping rows on top of the cake. You should be able to get three rows.
  13. Bake for 50 minutes until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  14. While you leave the cake to cool, prepare the toffee sauce. You can either melt the toffees with a splash of milk and a pinch of salt in a saucepan, or in the microwave (mixing every 30 seconds). Start with less milk and add more to loosen the sauce if it is too stiff.
  15. Drizzle the toffee sauce generously over the cake.
  16. Serve warm (and with vanilla ice cream, if you’d like) – enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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This cake is wonderfully moist (thanks to the date puree) and surprisingly fluffy. The sharp tangy apples are nicely balanced against the salted toffee drizzle. I can’t wait to try out more recipes with autumn and winter flavours, and I hope you give this one a go!

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The Most Indulgent Triple Chocolate Brownies

Prepare yourselves. This post isn’t for the faint-hearted or the health-conscious. But, this is perfect if:

  1. Chocolate is a part of your everyday diet and you probably couldn’t live without it;
  2. You’ve had a bad day and need a pick-me-up;
  3. You’ve had an amazing day and need a reason to make it even better;
  4. You love rich, dense, chocolatey desserts.

This is perhaps the best brownie recipe I’ve ever tried. It does take some effort to make, but the recipe is still pretty straightforward and I promise you that the results are completely worth it.

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The original recipe is from BBC Good Food’s website (click here) and it is a true godsend – my recipe below has adapted this slightly.

Ingredients

  • 185 g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
  • 185 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 85 g plain flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 50 g milk chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275 g golden caster sugar

Directions

  1. Melt the butter and dark chocolate using a microwave for approx. 2 minutes, giving the mixture a stir every 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can melt this over a saucepan with hot water (if you have more patience!). Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to  180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  3. Line your baking tin with parchment paper.
  4. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a a bowl, getting rid of any lumps, and set aside.
  5. Whisk together the eggs and golden caster sugar for 3 – 8 minutes until the mixture has become pale, creamy and about double its original volume. An electric whisk is definitely recommended – I hand-whisked this the first time I made this recipe and my arms ached for days afterwards.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture over the egg mixture, and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Combine the two mixtures, but try not to knock out the air from the egg mixture!
  7. Resift the dry ingredients (flour and cocoa) into the eggy chocolate mixture and fold together. Although this may look dry at first, the mixture will come together and end up looking very fudgy. But, be careful not to overdo it!
  8. Chop the milk chocolate and 50 g of the white chocolate into bite-sized chunks. Stir this into the brownie batter.
  9. Pour the brownie batter into the baking tin and use the spatula to even out the top.
  10. Melt the remaining 50 g of white chocolate and use a tablespoon to spoon blobs of the melted chocolate onto the brownie mixture. Then, use a fork to create swirls by dragging the white chocolate across the surface of the brownie mixture.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just coming away from the tin. If the brownie still wobbles in the middle when you take it out, put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  12. Leave the brownie to completely cool – if you try to cut it while it is warm, it will ooze everywhere (as delicious as that will be). This is probably the most difficult step of the whole recipe.
  13. Personally, I like to put the brownie in the fridge to let it ‘set’ before cutting it and heating it up in the oven before serving.
  14. The brownies will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
  15. Enjoy!

Oh my god these are incredible.

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I made these brownies a week ago and they have been completely demolished. Whether you’re baking for family and friends, or just for yourself, I highly recommend this recipe! Finally, a brownie dessert isn’t complete with a cold scoop of ice cream to top it off – I paired it with my gianduja hazelnut ice cream and it was spectacular.

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Gianduja (Hazelnut & Milk Chocolate) Ice Cream

The combination of hazelnuts and milk chocolate is absolutely divine – so I was excited to find the recipe for gianduja gelato in David Lebovitz’s ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop. Gianduja is an Italian chocolate that was created in the Piedmont region when cocoa was in short supply, so hazelnuts were added to the chocolate to give it more substance! Gianduja should be incredibly smooth, like a praline but using hazelnuts instead of almonds.

I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this basically Nutella? In fact, Nutella started off as a gianduja paste, which was then developed into the spread which has become so popular today (click here for an interesting blog post on the full history). While it’d be much easier to use a jar of the moreish chocolate-hazelnut spread to make my recipe, I didn’t want to risk my ice cream becoming too sweet, and I like a bit of a challenge! Apparently the best gianduja will contain up to 50% hazelnut, so I made sure to be generous with the nuts and to try to extract as much flavour from them as possible.

 

Making the hazelnut ice cream base involved: (1) toasting the hazelnuts to a delicious golden brown; (2) blitzing up the nuts into a fine crumb-paste; (3) mixing the paste into the milk and cream base; (4) resting the entire mixture for an hour or so to let the hazelnut flavour infuse into the milk and cream. The hazelnut paste is then sieved out and you’re left with an rich and aromatic ice cream base that is ready for the custard and milk chocolate.

 

This is a seriously tasty ice cream with a fantastic balance of flavours between the hazelnuts and the milk chocolate – neither ingredient overpowering the other. It does take more effort to make but I promise you it’s worth it!

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Maple, Cinnamon and Pecan Granola

Granola and yogurt is my favourite quick, go-to breakfast when I haven’t prepared anything beforehand (like my bircher muesli)! It’s filling, tasty and I like the contrast between the creamy yogurt and the crunchy oats. But for years, I’ve just been buying my granola from the supermarket and haven’t given much thought into what’s actually in the breakfast that I’ve been chowing down every day.

After a search for some recipes online, I found out that making your own granola couldn’t be easier! It’s one of those wonderful recipes which don’t require much measuring-out, and you can basically mix everything together and throw it into the oven to work its magic. It’s also super customisable so you can really go wild with what you add to your oat mixture. I’ve gone for a more nuts-and-seeds based granola with an autumnal note in the combination of maple syrup, buttery pecans and cinnamon.

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Ingredients

  • 300 g rolled oats
  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • 50 g pumpkin seeds
  • 100 g flaked almonds
  • 100 g pecans
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 85 ml maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140°C fan / 320°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together; mix the dry ingredients together; then combine.
  4. If the mixture is looking too dry, add a tbsp more oil or sweetener, depending on your taste preferences (see tips below).
  5. Tip the granola mix onto the baking sheets and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the granola is crisp and golden brown. Give the mixture a stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure that everything bakes evenly and that the edges don’t get burnt.
  7. Let the granola cool before serving with milk / yogurt / on top of ice cream / on its own as a snack / how ever you like!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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Tips

  • The granola can now be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.
  • If you’re using more delicate ingredients (e.g. flaked coconut, dried fruit) or nuts that have already been toasted, add them in near the end when the mix only needs another 10 minutes to bake.
  • The ratio of wet to dry ingredients in this recipe means that the resulting granola is more crumb-y than chunky. If you like your granola with big oat clusters, you can:
    • Add more oil / butter / sweetener;
    • Whisk one egg white and add it to the granola mix before you bake it – apparently the proteins in the egg will bind the ingredients together (I haven’t tried this yet, but will give it a go!);
    • Don’t stir the granola too furiously while it bakes and while it cools.

I’m enjoying my homemade granola for breakfast and there are so many more nuts and seeds than I’d ever find in a store-bought granola! Seriously, it’s such a joy to be able to decide what ingredients you add and how much. I’m so excited to try different flavour combinations – let me know what you’d add to yours 🙂

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Eating the World: Mallorca

Holidays give you a dangerous taste of what life is like away from work… and our week in Mallorca was delicious. I don’t quite want to accept that I’ve come back to reality, so I’m writing this post to wallow reminisce.

We visited so many beautiful places – the dramatic Tramuntana mountain range and the little towns tucked away in the valleys, the hidden calas with the most turquoise waters I’ve ever seen, and the incredible Es Pontas, a gigantic natural rock arch with one of the most difficult deep water solo routes.

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Being on holiday was no doubt another excuse to eat as much as we physically could. We had so much tasty seafood paella, tapas and most importantly… ice cream! These were my three favourite flavours from the trip!

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1. Crema catalana

I found out that this is a popular Spanish dessert, kind of like a creme brûlée. The ice cream was wonderfully creamy and custard-y, but what made it special was the flecks of caramelised sugar throughout the ice cream – so good

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2. Tiramisu

We came across this brightly decked out gelateria in Valldemossa. This was our first stop along our mini road trip through Serra de Tramuntana and I absolutely loved this small town in the mountains! I had a lovely time browsing the shops selling Spanish wares (though admittedly it was all very touristy) and marvelling over the amazing views. 

This gelato was the perfect treat on this hot day, and I particularly liked the swirl of coffee / chocolate sauce. 

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3. Kinder bueno

This was a sweet after-dinner treat along the Pollença seaside (and I’m pretty sure this was our second ice cream of the day so we conservatively shared a scoop). 

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All in all, this was an wonderful getaway and I can’t wait to visit again. For now, I’m feeling semi-rejuvenated and will have to go back to exploring London for new and tasty ice creams! 

Chai & Speculoos Ice Cream

Following the success of my tea & biscuits ice cream, I decided to continue the theme with a different tea and to pair it with another type of biscuit. I have a feeling that I’ll be trying a few more variations, so do let me know your favourite tea and biscuit combination in the comments below!

English breakfast is usually my go-to tea, but if I’m feeling something with more flavour and warmth, I really like masala chai. Whether it’s brewed in hot water with a splash of milk, or made into a chai latte, I love how the blend of spices (cinnamon, cloves, anise, cardomom, ginger) lift a simple black tea.

The house chai at Dishoom (various branches in London) is one of my favourites since it has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy – and you get unlimited refills! At home, I like Tea India‘s chai – you can smell the amazing spices the minute you open the box, and each teabag is packed with plenty of flavour.

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I wanted to find a biscuit that could match the strong flavours of the chai and was torn between gingersnaps and speculoos. I think either of those biscuits would’ve paired well, but I decided on speculoos in the end as I wanted a more cinnamon-flavoured ice cream.

Speculoos is traditionally a Christmas cookie that originates from the Netherlands and Belgium. It’s laced with similar spices to chai – cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom – but also pepper and nutmeg. I used Lotus’s Biscoff biscuits for my recipe, but I’m definitely planning to make some of these biscuits from scratch at some point!

Like my milk tea ice cream, I steeped 5 tea bags’ worth of chai in the milk and cream mixture before making the custard. I also added a few extra pinches of cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg. My kitchen was filled with the aroma of all the spices and it started to remind me of Christmas 🙂

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This ice cream also turned out wonderfully, with the speculoos complementing the creamy chai ice cream perfectly. I’m starting to think you can’t go wrong with this tea and biscuits combination! I’m thinking of doing an earl grey ice cream next…!

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

Even though it’s only August, it’s already getting cooler and the days are getting shorter here in the UK… but as if that would stop me from making more ice cream! I love ice cream in all seasons, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with more autumnal and winter flavours (mmm mince pie perhaps?). But for now, summer’s not quite over yet, so I’m taking advantage of the remaining sunshine and beautiful fresh fruits.

Raspberry ripple is a classic British flavour which wonderfully showcases the sweet and tangy berries. I love the balance between the velvety dairy ice cream and the fresh berry coulis – this ice cream also looks amazing with its lovely scarlet-purple swirls, and is sure to impress friends and family.

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Inspiration

London was going through an unbearable heatwave, so we decided to escape our furnace of a flat and head down to Bournemouth for a day. Turns out the rest of south-west England had the same idea, as the beaches were completely packed! It was such a lovely day, lounging under the sun and going for a paddle in the sea.

It might’ve been the heat, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I had one of the tastiest ice creams ever from a small beach-side hut. This scoop of raspberry ripple meringue had light ribbons of raspberry through it, with crunchy pieces of meringue swirled in as well.

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Creation

I’ve made raspberry ripple ice cream a few times now, and most recently I decided to make a version with not only raspberries, but also blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. This gave the coulis a deeper purple colour and a tangier flavour (so I probably should’ve added more sugar).

Summer berry coulis

  • 250 g mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. On a medium heat, gently cook the berries with the sugar and lemon juice. 
  2. Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash any stubborn berries. 
  3. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the mixture has reached a jam-like consistency. 
  4. Let the mixture cool, then blitz in a blender until smooth. 
  5. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. 
  6. The remaining coulis can now be used to swirl through ice cream, yogurts, oatmeal or as a topping for other desserts – enjoy!

The ice cream turned out really well, and it looks gorgeous too! It’s so delicious served on its own, or with a handful of fresh berries on the side.

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Ginger Barley & Rye Biscuits

When I was a kid, ‘baking’ meant using some kind of cake or cookie mix, mostly because it was convenient when my parents were busy, the instructions were easy to follow, and the results were still tasty. But using these mixes didn’t leave much room for creativity, and some of the ingredients were pretty questionable. I was so excited to move out into my own place (with a fully functioning oven) since this meant I could finally start making some of my favourite baked goods from scratch!

You can imagine I was a little sceptical when we received a biscuit mix as part of our goody bag after the British 10K… but I finally got around to making it today and ended up pleasantly surprised. Sweetpea Pantry has a whole range of baking mixes (for biscuits, cakes, pancakes, etc) that are based on wholegrains and contain no refined sugars (unlike the mixes I used to rely on).

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I received their Ginger Giggles Biscuit Mix, which includes the following ingredients: stone ground wholemeal plain flour, rye flour, wholegrain barley flour, unrefined dark muscavado sugar, flaxseed, ground ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon and sodium bicarbonate. All I had to add was butter, honey and an egg white.

The instructions were straightforward, and it was fun cutting out different shapes for the biscuits – I had to freestyle most of this, as I didn’t have any cookie cutters (but the rustic look is in trend… right?).

 

The biscuits turned out crisp around the edges and slightly moist and chewy in the centre. They’re not overly sweet, and have a lovely spiced flavour.

 

All in all, I’d recommend this to busy bakers, or even if you want to make a healthier version of your favourite baked good!

Tea & Biscuits Ice Cream

Tea is basically the lifeblood of the British people and since moving to the UK in 2012, I’ve adopted this national beverage as part of my regular diet as well. There’s something so comforting about a big mug of English breakfast tea, especially during the cold winter months (and the cold summer days in London, recently!). Yorkshire Tea is my personal favourite, and I enjoy my tea with a splash of milk and no sugar.

That being said, I’ve loved milk tea long before coming to England – in Hong Kong, milk tea is also a staple in cha chaan tengs (a typical fast food restaurant that serves a fusion of Chinese/Western cuisine – I’m getting nostalgic just thinking about them). Hong Kong-style milk tea is has a distinctively smooth and deep tea flavour and it’s so delicious whether served hot or over ice. It’s made using black tea, evaporated milk and sugar, but what makes the tea so incredibly smooth is that the tea leaves are strained using a sack-cloth back (kind of like a silk stocking, which is why it’s sometimes called ‘pantyhose’ tea!).

This ice cream recipe celebrates both versions of the humble milk tea, and I hope I’ve done it justice!

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Inspiration

Via Tokyo (Shop 1A-1B, G/F, Leishun Court, 106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay)

Via Tokyo is one of Hong Kong’s most popular dessert cafes, serving a range of Japanese desserts and in particular, the most indulgent soft serves. Their classic flavours include Matcha (this in itself is worth a separate post), Hokkaido milk and Hojicha, but for awhile they had an amazing Royal Milk Tea flavour, which inspired me to create this recipe!

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Creation

To take my milk tea flavoured ice cream to the next level, I decided to add some texture by crumbling one of my favourite biscuits into the mix – chocolate digestives! Not proud to admit that I devoured many packs of these biccies whilst at university (seriously, the chocolate caramel version is crack to me).

I used my usual custard base, but steeped several tea bags’ worth of Yorkshire Tea in the milk & cream mixture for an hour before adding the egg yolks and remaining sugar. To achieve the silky smooth texture, I passed the ice cream mix through a sieve a couple of times before churning it in the machine.

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I’m so happy with how this ice cream turned out in the end – there’s a lovely tea flavour, it’s not too sweet and the bits of chocolate biscuit make this dessert so addictive!

Let me know what your favourite tea and biscuit combination is in the comments below – unless you’re more of a coffee person… 😛 Thanks for making it all the way down this fairly long post – hope you liked it!

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