Fluffy Wholewheat Buttermilk Scones

Buttermilk Scones (28 of 103)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.Buttermilk Scones (14 of 103)

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.

Buttermilk Scones (1 of 2)

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.

Buttermilk Scones (43 of 103)

Fluffy Wholewheat Buttermilk Scones

TOTAL TIME: 20 min | YIELDS: 8 large scones 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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)Buttermilk Scones (102 of 103)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 230C or 210C fan. Lightly grease and flour a baking tray. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Buttermilk Scones (101 of 103)
  2. Chop butter into cubes and rub in the butter with our fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.Buttermilk Scones (100 of 103)
  3. 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. Buttermilk Scones (96 of 103)
  4. Pat out to a 2cm thick round and cut into 4cm rounds with a floured cutter. Gather scraps together, knead lightly and cut out.Buttermilk Scones (95 of 103)
  5. 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.Buttermilk Scones (94 of 103)
  6. 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.Buttermilk Scones (86 of 103)

Buttermilk Scones (78 of 103)Buttermilk Scones (2 of 2)

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Coffee Pecan Financiers

Coffee and pecan financiers (23 of 39)

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.

Coffee and pecan financiers (1 of 1)

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 (29 of 39)

Coffee and Pecan Financiers

TIME: one hour | YIELDS: Makes 12 financiers

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

Coffee and pecan financiers (7 of 39)

METHOD:

  1. 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.Coffee and pecan financiers (1 of 39)
  2. 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.Coffee and pecan financiers (2 of 39)
  3. 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.Coffee and pecan financiers (4 of 39)
  4. 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.Coffee and pecan financiers (6 of 39)
  5. 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. Coffee and pecan financiers (13 of 39)Coffee and pecan financiers (12 of 39)Coffee and pecan financiers (10 of 39)
  6. 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.Coffee and pecan financiers (15 of 39)
  7. 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.
Coffee and pecan financiers (21 of 39) Coffee and pecan financiers (28 of 39)Coffee and pecan financiers (4 of 5)

Moist and Fluffy Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (3 of 26)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.

Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (11 of 26)Poppyseed muffins with a scent of lemon make a warm welcome to the winter blues.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

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 seedsLemon PoppySeed Muffins (26 of 26).jpg

METHOD:

  1. 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.
  2. Zest the lemon with a microplane grater and juice it.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (23 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (24 of 26)
  3. 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.  Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (21 of 26)
  4. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk (or sour cream) vanilla extract, melted butter and lemon juice.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (20 of 26)
  5. 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.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (17 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (16 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (15 of 26)
  6. 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.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (13 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (4 of 26).jpg
  7. 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.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (6 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (1 of 1)

 

Banana Coconut Financiers with Crushed Walnuts

Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (1 of 60)

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.

Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (8 of 16)Afternoon tea? Serve these freshly baked financiers with a cup of warm or organic tea.

 

TIME: 30 minutes | Makes: 12 financiers 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (59 of 60)

METHOD:

  1. 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.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (58 of 60)
  2. Mash ripe bananas in a shallow dish.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (57 of 60)
  3. Crush walnuts into small pieces in a mortar and pestle.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (56 of 60)
  4. Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl. Once done, add melted butter into the mixture.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (53 of 60)
  5. 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.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (52 of 60)
  6. Pour batter into the financier moulds, until 2/3rds full each. Bake in oven for ~16-20 minutes until golden brown.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (51 of 60)
  7.  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.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (4 of 16)

Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Financiers

Raspberry Financiers (9 of 22)

Financiers are the perfect delicate treat for a tête-a-tête with friends or a special someone.

After recently spending 3 weeks in Paris learning french and completing a one-day workshop at the famous Le Cordon Bleu – a much needed mini-sabbatical in life – I must confess, I am still missing the City of Lights a lot. A hell lot. Despite I’ve frequented this beautiful city several times, there is always something intriguing and captivating about it every time I go. I always discover something new amidst the mystical charm of this city and continue to be arrested by its rich culture and historical beauty.

They often call Paris the City of Love. I can understand why (and no, just as a disclaimer, I did not meet “the One”– or I think not –  whilst I was there). So why am I infatuated with this city? I am in love with Paris because I feel completely content each time I visit: the feeling of freedom and serenity provides a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and calms me down instantly.

Moreover, Paris is a truly beautiful walking city. I love the feeling of the freedom of being able to walk everywhere – along the river Seine (my favourite scenic walk), across the Jardin Des Tuileries (my favourite park), among the beautiful boulevards – and know that even when I get lost, I will be rewarded by beautiful scenery, a new cafe or bistro discovery, friendly (or not so friendly) Parisians who will be happy (or do so begrudgingly) to point me in the right direction (if not, I resort to the ever so reliable Google Maps).

One thing I really paid attention to this time round was the sheer number of patisseries that litter literally every street. I lost count of how many eclairs, millefeuilles, croissants, pain du chocolats, and macaroons I’ve consumed during my stay. I just hope that my daily attempt to walk everywhere has exceeded the number of calories I unnecessarily consume. One thing is for sure though, the patisseries are A-grade and two notches sweeter than those found in Asia (attribute it to the different palate among the races). I am not a big fan of millefueille at home (namely because no one gets it right) but when I am here, my favourite millefeuille is the praline one at Laduree (must have!). Meanwhile, on the eclair front, Christopher Adam’s L’eclair de Genie wins the crown (though be forewarned, you may be confronted with a decision-making problem if you were to only pick one amongst his impressive kaleidoscope of eclairs).

Given my nostalgia still for all things Parisian, I decided to bake something distinctly Parisian this Sunday afternoon: financiers (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr). Bonus is that I got to debut the new silicon Teflon financier moulds I bought on my trip 🙂

Before I begin, some basic trivia: did you know the financier was an early and classy form of fast food created for bankers (hence the name ‘financiers’)? They were created in the late 19th century by a pastry chef named Lasne, who had a shop on the rue Saint-Denis near the Bourse, the city’s stock exchange. Recognising bankers in the area were rich, discriminating and always in a hurry, Lasne designed his little unglazed cookie-cake so that it could be eaten without a knife, fork or spoon and without risk to the suit, shirt or tie. He baked the financiers in rectangular moulds that were said to resemble bars of gold.

Financiers are as rich as the bankers they were named for. The batter is made by combining flour with ground almonds and powdered sugar. To that is added lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla extract and brown butter, beurre noisette (or melted unsalted butter will do). They are baked until golden brown in rectangular pans to resemble ingots.

These cakes are beautiful in their simplicity. Sweet, tender, and available in a multitude of variations (throw in some berries or nuts if you wish), they are deliciously soft and have a nutty flavour from the brown butter. Perfect to have alone, they can also be paired harmoniously with a cup of coffee or tea as a great treat during a tête-a-tête with friends or a special someone 😉

Raspberry Financiers (7 of 22)
INGREDIENTS:

(Makes 6)

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 140g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 100g almond meal
  • 40g plain flour
  • 90g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 2x punnets or fresh raspberries or 200g of frozen raspberries

Raspberry Financiers (18 of 22)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat an oven to 180C (350F). Melt butter and cool to room temperature. Grease a 6-hole rectangular pan well (or muffin tin) with butter. Raspberry Financiers (22 of 22)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites to just combine.Raspberry Financiers (21 of 22)
  3. Add the melted butter, almond meal, flour and sifted icing sugar and combine well. Stir in vanilla bean paste (or essence).Raspberry Financiers (20 of 22)
  4. Mix in three quarters of the raspberries into the batter and pour into prepared pans to two thirds full.Raspberry Financiers (19 of 22)
  5. Place two or three raspberries on top of each financier and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out the center clean.Raspberry Financiers (2 of 22)
  6. Let the financiers cool slightly and then remove from the pan carefully and dust lightly with icing sugar.Raspberry Financiers (3 of 22)
  7. Serve warmed and with extra fresh raspberries, if you like.

Raspberry Financiers (10 of 22)

Raspberry Financiers (16 of 22)Raspberry Financiers (13 of 22)