GUILT-FREE BANANA BREAD | Relish guiltlessly in this moist loaf made without butter
I totally have a soft spot for moist, delicious banana bread. However, I noticed my waistline thinks otherwise so I’ve been meticulous with this treat (read: trying to not make it a daily routine everytime I walk past the coffee shop on the way to work).
To this I have found a remedy. The satisfaction of baking your own banana bread from scratch – without butter – is a therapy in and of itself. From the mashing action of the overripe bananas, to the mixing of the wet and dry ingredients, and of course, the smell of the loaf oozing from your oven – words don’t do justice to describe the satisfaction derived from the overall process. And because I’ve come up with a recipe that does away with the butter, you can enjoy this moist loaf without the associated guilt factor.
Guilt-free Banana Bread
PREP TIME: 20 mins | BAKING TIME: 40 mins | TOTAL TIME: 60 mins | YIELDS: 8-9 slices
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 overripe bananas, mashed
- 115 g of yoghurt (Greek or natural)
- 60 ml maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut / brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- icing sugar, to dust
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease a loaf pan.
- Mash bananas.
- Beat eggs. Fold in the mashed bananas, yoghurt, maple syrup and coconut sugar. Mix thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder.
- Pour dry ingredients into the wet and fold till well combined.
- Pour batter into loaf and put into the oven for 40 minutes or so. Test with an inserted toothpick: if it comes out clean then the loaf is ready.
- Remove loaf from tin and let cool. Slice into 1.5 cm slices. Dust with icing sugar before serving. To store for later, banana bread can be kept frozen. Feel free to toast the banana bread in your toaster before serving. Enjoy!
SCONE-MANIA | Wholewheat heavenly fluffy scones with a hint of orange zest
Whoever said scones couldn’t be fluffy while at the same time deliver on wholesomeness is wrong. In 20 minutes, you could have piping hot scones served with clotted cream and jam – perfect for unexpected guests.
I love scones. Whether they are homemade, from a coffee shop (ok, maybe not the ones from Asia), plain, or with fruits, I simply can’t resist a piping hot scone fresh from the oven served with clotted cream and jam. Serve this with a steaming cup of english breakfast or earl grey tea and there you have me: my way of solo therapy for a Sunday afternoon.
Don’t be deceived. Scones are not difficult to make. The ‘trick’ though (to keep the scones moist and fluffy) is to halve the flour portion equally between plain flour and wholewheat flour. Also, be careful not to over mix the dough with your hands and the butter and milk must be added whilst cold. Most importantly, when baking scones, make sure you place each one close to each other. This will yield a better ‘uplifting’ (i.e. rising) effect when the scones bake.
The beauty of this basic wholewheat recipe is that you are free to add your own variations. I experimented with some orange peel (love the zesty citrusy touch) and sultanas, as well as playing up another variation using some chopped up dried figs from turkey.
Fluffy Wholewheat Buttermilk Scones
TOTAL TIME: 20 min | YIELDS: 8 large scones
- 1.5 cups self raising flour
- 1.5 cups self raising wholewheat flour (NB: if you are using plain flour, add baking powder to the mix)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 60g butter
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or full-cream milk)
- Grated zest of half an orange and half a cup of sultanas (optional)
- Preheat oven to 230C or 210C fan. Lightly grease and flour a baking tray. Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
- Chop butter into cubes and rub in the butter with our fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Add nearly all the milk at once and mix in quickly with a knife. Add remaining milk if needed and pull dough together into a rough ball. Add the grated orange zest and sultanas (if using). Turn dough out on to a floured board and knead by turning and pressing with heel of hand 3 or 4 times.
- Pat out to a 2cm thick round and cut into 4cm rounds with a floured cutter. Gather scraps together, knead lightly and cut out.
- Place scones close together on a lightly greased baking tray. Brush tops with a little milk and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until well-risen and golden.
- Voila. Scones should turn out beautifully golden and sumptuous. Note: For soft scones, wrap in a tea towel as soon as they come from oven. For crusty scones, do not wrap, cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter or with jam and cream.
A PERFECT CONCOCTION | Pecans, ground sumiyaki coffee powder and a shot of nespresso add subtle warm undertones to the traditional financier.
I love how baking brings out the perfectionist streak lurking deep within me. This Valentine’s day, me and my (single) girlfriends decided we’d get our hands dirty and do some baking.
To challenge ourselves, we set an ambitious goal to master the basic vanilla soufflé (which we managed to achieve). I also added another to our baking agenda for the afternoon – to recreate Ottolenghi’s famed Coffee Pecan Financiers that sells likes hotcakes at his restaurant NOPI in London.
Still missing Paris a lot, I was keen to make financiers again, but this time, I was set on making an adaptation of Ottolenghi’s Coffee Pecan Financiers from his well-known restaurant NOPI. Not too fond of anything too sweet, I reduced the icing sugar quantity by half and did away with the coffee pecan cream that often accompanies these little bars of gold.
Coffee and Pecan Financiers
TIME: one hour | YIELDS: Makes 12 financiers
- 100g pecans
- 150g unsalted butter
- 100g icing sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g plain flour
- 65g malt powder (or Horlicks)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground coffee beans
- 8 egg whites (300g)
- 2 shots of espresso (60ml)
- pinch of coarse sea salt
- Roast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5. Spread the pecans for both the financiers and the cream out on a parchment-lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12–15 minutes, until they have taken on a bit of colour. Use the flat side of a large knife to lightly crush them. Set aside half of the pecans for the financiers and half for the cream.
- To make the financiers, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once it starts to foam, cook for 3–4 minutes, until it turns golden-brown and smells nutty. Strain through a muslin- (or clean J-cloth-) lined sieve and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.
- Place the icing sugar in a large bowl with the ground almonds, flour, malt powder, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and ground coffee. Mix together and set aside.
- Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to form soft peaks: this should take about 3 minutes if you are whisking by hand and just 1 minute with an electric whisk.
- Fold the whites into the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the espresso. Next pour in half the browned butter, continuing to fold by hand as you pour in the remaining butter. Finally, fold in the pecans.
- Bake the financiers by preheating the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Grease mould of muffin tray or financier tray. Spoon in the mix until three-quarters full and bake for 10 –12 minutes, until the cakes are golden-brown on top and only just cooked through: a knife inserted should come out with a tiny amount of mix on it.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, before removing them from the tray. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a cup of tea if desired.
“I love you BERRY much” Blueberry Muffins | The moistest blueberry muffins with a lemon sugar crumble to take it over the top.
There is something just so homey and comforting about blueberry muffins. The thought of sitting down to relax, with a nice cuppa tea in one hand and taking a steamy bite of a freshly baked blueberry muffin is DIY therapy for my soul.
For those who are more health-conscious out there, I have managed to come up with a moist mouth-wateringly delicious blueberry muffin with a drastically reduced sugar and butter content. The key is to load up on the sour cream. Sour cream will add moisture to these muffins, doing away with the addition of extra butter.
Last but not least, the addition of a lemon-zested sugar crumble takes this muffin over the top.
These muffins are chock full of berry goodness and the sour cream makes them extra moist.
Super Moist Blueberry Muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 20-25 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes | Makes: 10 medium sized muffins
- 1/4 cup (60g) of butter, softened
- 30g of white sugar
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar crystals
- 1 1/2 cup (180g) of all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (roughly one lemon juiced)
- 1 1/4 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
- 1 cup of sour cream
- Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F and butter muffin moulds. Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined. Add in egg, sour cream, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat again until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder together.
- Fold in dry ingredients into the sour cream mixture and fold with spatula. Gently stir in blueberries until throughly combined.
- To make topping, combine 1 tablespoon of brown sugar crystals with 1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon zest. Sprinkle ~1/4 teaspoon on the top of each muffin before shoving it into the oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Remove. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Best served warm.
POPPY SEED DELIGHT | Light, delicate, sweet and moist muffins with tiny crunches of poppy seeds and the citrusy kiss of lemon.
Woke up to a dreary Saturday morning. Rather than to let the dismal weather affect my mood, the optimistic voice inside of me nudged me to bake something to brighten up the day. Not so sure about you, but the scent of lemon always perks up the morning for me, especially in the cold winter days.
When lemon and baking comes to my mind, I instinctively think of warm lemon poppyseed muffins. The key to ensuring these muffins turn out moist and fluffy? Sour cream. Simply replace milk with sour cream in the same quantity and you will be left with moist muffins that can be frozen ahead of time.
These muffins are sweet and simple and comes together quickly – great for last minute cravings.
Poppyseed muffins with a scent of lemon make a warm welcome to the winter blues.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 18-20 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 8 large muffins (12 small muffins)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, melted until browned and cooled
- 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit / 200 degrees Celsius. Line a 12 mold, regular sized muffin tray with paper muffin liners, place the muffin pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Zest the lemon with a microplane grater and juice it.
- In a large bowl, rub the granulated sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is lightly coloured and scented with lemon. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk (or sour cream) vanilla extract, melted butter and lemon juice.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together. When almost thoroughly mixed, add the poppy seeds. Divide batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle each would be muffing with granulated sugar.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing. Best served warm with a cup of tea.
BANANA-RAMA | Banana, desiccated coconut, and crushed walnuts unite to create a moist and wholesome financier.
I have truly jumped onto the financier bandwagon. This time, seeing I had two overly ripe bananas sitting inside my fruit bowl, rather than let them expire and go to waste, I decided to put them to good use by creating some banana financiers with desiccated coconut and crushed walnuts. The banana adds an extra degree of moistness and ‘stickiness’ to the basic financier recipe (not to mention flavor and fibre). And because bananas are naturally sweet, I’ve drastically reduced the sugar content by more than half (more or less to keep the waistline “trim”).
To make these financiers even more healthy, I’ve incorporated walnuts into the mixture. Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors. Walnuts also contain several unique and powerful antioxidants that are available in only a few commonly eaten foods. This includes the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin.
One of the lesser-known benefits of walnuts is their impact on male fertility. Among men who consume a Western-style diet, adding 75 grams (a bit over one-half cup) of walnuts daily significantly improved sperm quality, including vitality, motility, and morphology.
Afternoon tea? Serve these freshly baked financiers with a cup of warm or organic tea.
TIME: 30 minutes | Makes: 12 financiers
- 125 grams of butter, melted
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 70 grams dessicated coconut
- 50 grams almond flour
- 70 grams plain flour
- 50 gram walnuts
- 6 egg whites
- 50 grams of icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 degress farenheit). Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat until it browns. Brush some of this butter on to the financier mould or muffin tin. Leave remaining butter to cool at room temperature.
- Mash ripe bananas in a shallow dish.
- Crush walnuts into small pieces in a mortar and pestle.
- Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl. Once done, add melted butter into the mixture.
- Combine all the almond flour, plain flour, icing sugar, crushed walnuts, and desiccated coconut together in a separate bowl. Fold in the egg white mixture into the flour mixture and continue to fold until well combined.
- Pour batter into the financier moulds, until 2/3rds full each. Bake in oven for ~16-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Turn financiers out on a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. Financiers can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
PISTACHIO-LICIOUS | A combination of pistachio, blackberries, and a dash of banana gives these financiers a touch of the extraordinary.
Since having left Paris not too long ago, I’m still going through a financier-crazed phase. This time I wanted to go real lush and experimented with blackberries, pistachios, and a smudge of banana.
Once again, the key is getting the beurre noisette (hazelnut butter in French) right in order to achieve that nutty flavour that makes a financier so distinctive and sets it apart from the ordinary muffin.
For those who aren’t aware, financiers are basically what I consider to be “baller” teacakes. They were so named because they were so “rich” (both in ingredients and in price) that only financiers/bankers could afford to eat them. The cakes were rich with brown butter, shaped into a gold bar, and made small and crumbles for portability – perfect for a busy banker.
Egg white, almond meal, and beurre noisette are the key fundamental ingredients that constitute the basic financier. After that, you are free to experiment at your whim and add any addition of fruits, nuts and/or spices.
For me, financiers are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of earl grey team come five o’clock. Simply relax and unwind with a good book. What’s more, tie two financiers together with a cute ribbon and voila, you will have a perfect treat for a special friend or special someone.
Simply tie two financiers up in a stack with a ribbon and it’ll make for a perfect gesture of love.
Total time: 30 minutes | Servings: makes 6
- 125g butter
- 90g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
- 1 tablespoon of mashed banana
- 1 punnet blackberries
- 60g almond flour
- 60g plain flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 freshly grated lemon zest
- 50g pistachio (shells excluded)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius (or 180 degrees celsius if fan forced). Then prepare the beurre noisette by melting the butter on a pan over medium high heat till it turns amber in colour and smells nutty. After a few minutes, you will see specks of brown bits. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- In the meantime, with a grater, freshly zest one lemon.
- Grind pistachio into fine crumbs using a mortar or pestle (or if you are more high-tech and have a food processor, opt for that instead). I purposely left some pistachios semi-grinded only so that I could get more texture.
- Mash a portion of a ripe banana to yield ~1 tablespoon.
- In a large bowl, mix pistachio flour with the almond and plain flour. Add in remaining sugar, cinnamon, mashed banana, and lemon zest.
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Place egg whites into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of sugar. Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy.
- Spoon 1/3rd of the egg white mixture into the flour batter. Fold with spatula until just combined. Repeat process with remaining egg white being careful to fold only and not over mix.
- Coat berries lightly with flour. Then add to the batter and fold.
- Spoon batter into buttered financier moulds (or muffin tins). Fill each mould with the batter until about 2/3rds full. Press any remaining blackberries on top of each financier (for aesthetic appeal).
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Financiers are done when they turn golden. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar to serve.