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I would assume... most cooking and baking mum can bake a classic shepherd's pie. Am I right?

However, if you don't know anything about shepherd's pie (also known as cottage pie), it is an UK originated mince lamb or beef pie that is baked with golden brown mashed potato crust.

These days, whether you are English or not, shepherd's pie is consumed everywhere, in most markets, cafes, pubs and at home. The good thing about a good old shepherd's pie is it is actually very easy to cook and bake. It can be made healthily with lean meat mince and lots of vegetable, for big or small families and also everyday consumption.

Have you been cooking and baking healthy and delicious shepherd's pie for your family? If your answer is no, do you want to know how I baked mine?

My healthy delicious Shepherd's Pie that is made with...
lean chicken mince, lots of vegetable and creamy potato topping with LESS butter!

If you have searched Google for shepherd's pie recipe, I'm sure that you will find heaps!!!

And you might think that my shepherd's pie recipe is somehow like the others that you have found via Google... Nothing special?

Well, I must admit that you are right! I'm sharing my easy straightforward home-style recipe plainly because I know that I can bake an easy healthy and delicious shepherd's pie and it is really up to you to decide if you want to use my recipe.

Interested? Here's a video showing how I cooked and baked my HEALTHY chicken shepherd's pie and it's EASY and TASTY!

Tasty Healthy Mini Chicken Shepherd's Pie - YouTube

Our delicious dinner is ready!
To me, my shepherd's pie is PERFECT!
It's made with lean chicken, lots of vegetable and golden brown creamy potato topping.
Less butter and most importantly, YUMMY!

Whenever I baked my shepherd's pie, no one seems to complain about anything including the peas! LOL!!! It is usually so yummy that it is gone very quickly! So, do you think that I should share my recipe?

Like my homely family-friendly recipes? To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's my recipe with many helpful cooking / baking tips.

Serve 4-6, each ramekin has about 250-300ml capacity

For the potato topping:
600g Coliban or Russet white potatoes, peeled and roughly cut into 2 cm dices (peeled weight is about 500g)
2 tbsp (30g) unsalted butter - please do not reduce this essential amount*
2 tbsp (30ml) milk, plus more if required
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to season
freshly ground black pepper to season
1 large egg yolk

For the chicken filling:
500g lean chicken** mince
1 1/2 tbsp (15g) cornflour or plain / all purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 brown onion, peeled and diced into 1-2 cm pieces
2 tsp garlic mince
2 cup (500ml) frozen vegetable mix*** (corn kernels and peas), no need to thaw
2 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup (180ml) chicken stock**
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, or more to taste
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped or sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt to season
freshly ground black pepper to season

* This essential amount of butter is required to make the potato crust nicely browned and delicious.

** You can cook this dish with lean beef or lamb mince with beef stock instead of using chicken mince and chicken stock.

*** You can use replace frozen vegetable mix with fresh peas, corn kernels, diced carrots. If you are adding diced carrots, you will have to cook the carrot in boiling water first until semi-softened. Personally, I find that the frozen vegetable mix is the most convenient to use and their nutritional contents, taste, texture and price are actually as good as the fresh ones!

For the potato topping:
Place potatoes in a medium cooking pot with enough cold water to cover. Add 1/4 tsp salt and bring it to a boil with high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 mins. Tip: While the potatoes are cooking, you can cook the filling.

Drain potatoes thoroughly. While the potatoes are hot, transfer them into a large zip lock bag. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper to season. Seal the bag and mash until the potato mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

When the potato mixture is cooled to room temperature, add egg yolk and mix until combined. Tip: Add more milk if required and mix until it has reached its optimal smooth consistency to pipe.

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F. Tip: Line baking tray with baking paper for easy cleaning.

For the chicken filling:
Combine chicken mince and cornflour. Set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan with medium high heat. Cook onion for about 3 mins or until golden brown and fragrant. Add garlic and cook for about 1 min or until fragrant. Add chicken mince and keep breaking the mince into small pieces as it cooks. Cook for about 3-4 mins until the mince is slightly golden brown. Stir in frozen vegetable mix and cook for about 5 mins or until the vegetable mix is thoroughly thawed and lightly seared.

Add tomato paste, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 mins or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Divide chicken filling evenly into 4-6 ramekins, depending on the capacity of the ramekins that you used. Place the filled ramekins on the prepared baking tray. Top chicken filling with the potato topping by piping with an open star nozzle.

Tip: Do not skip this piping step by spreading the potato mixture on top of the filling. The multiple-star design on the potato topping will make the crust more delicious because the thin edges of the piped mash will make the crust brown and crisp better. During piping, please make sure the filling is well-covered by the topping so that the filling won't bubble out into the topping.

Place baking tray onto the prepared baking tray and bake for 25 mins or until the potatoes begin to brown and crispy on the top and edges.

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Happy Baking! Hope that you will like this easy recipe and my baking tips.
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Looking for a delightful sweet treat or dessert that is not too sweet yet delicious? And it is HEALTHY with a good amount of dietary fibers and good nutrition?!!!

Is this a mission impossible? LOL!

I would think so but not after I had baked and tasted this awesome baked oatmeal!

Baked oatmeal? Perhaps the word, "oatmeal" is causing you to wonder if this food is a breakfast or something healthy but boring? As a matter of fact, it tastes somehow like a satisfying firm baked rice pudding. Very fruity and nutty too because it has lots of fruits and nuts in it.

To me, it tastes more like a nice and healthy treat or dessert to enjoy...  I would say that it is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED recipe! Agree?

We love these Nice and Healthy Baked Oatmeal!

Are you a fan of any food that is made of oats?

Me me me me me...

I love oats and eat oats almost everyday for my breakfast. For winter, I would eat warm oats porridge. For summer, I would eat chilled overnight oats (recipe at here). Like I have mentioned at here, oats are generally considered healthy due to their rich content of several essential nutrients. In a good amount of serving, oats can provide an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, several B vitamins and numerous dietary minerals plus cholesterol-lowering effects.

Besides oats, these baked oatmeal are baked with many other healthy ingredients such as banana, blueberries, walnuts and milk! And they are naturally flavoured with ground cinnamon and vanilla. They do contain a tiny negotiable amount of salt, maple syrup and butter and I won't freak out over these moderated addition.

Doe the addition of salt, maple syrup and butter means that these baked oatmeal are not healthy enough for you?

This scenario reminds me of one Facebook user who told me that I shouldn't highly recommend a highly reviewed moist and delicious banana bread recipe at here because it contains sugar and plain flour! And this is how we conversed via one popular Facebook group.

AP (Facebook user): Thanks for recipe but I would expect to see something out of the box for banana bread! Like no sugar or different flour :))

Me: Yes, I know but sometimes healthy food with NO sugar and gluten can be quite alternative and difficult to accept. Having said that, I will also share something like this in the near future.

AP (Facebook user): why is it difficult to accept? If it tastes and looks good, we are in a group therefore, the expectation to learn interesting and delicious recipes not just another recipe:))

Then, another Facebook user in the group had kindly shared a keto bread recipe with us and AP seems happy. Seeing that situation, I tried to re-establish my point.

Me: I see your point but not everybody is into keto diet. For me, I believe being healthy is to eat wisely with a balance diet, stay active and enjoy life including food. If I have to eat sugar because the food will taste good, I would! :) It's ok if you don't like this recipe... It's a highly reviewed recipe so you can't say that many people are wrong and you are right! Cheers!

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be catty here! AP and I are entitled to our own opinions and AP can be right to certain extent. To me, this TASTY baked oatmeal is HEALTHY enough even with the added maple syrup, salt and butter. If you think that these additions are causing the desserts not healthy enough for you, it is totally ok for you to ignore it but please don't say that everything with sugar and gluten is bad!

Although I'm health conscious, I'm after taste and texture in my food and wouldn't mind eating carbs, gluten, sugar, butter and salt in good amount of moderation.

So please enjoy your food!!!

These HEALTHY baked oatmeal contain many beneficial ingredients!
... such as oats, blueberries, walnut and banana.
NICE too!
These baked oatmeal taste like a satisfying firm fruity nutty baked rice pudding
... with comforting cinnamon and vanilla fragrance.

And they are extremely easy to bake! Watch how I baked them in my video...

Baked Oatmeal - YouTube

To be honest, these fruity nutty baked oatmeal are NOT sweet. In the end, we enjoyed and loved them the most with an extra teaspoonful drizzle of maple syrup in every serve! YUM!!!

Life is short so please don't eat cardboard food!!!

Like my recipes? To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the recipe that is adapted from Epicurious
Makes 4 serves, each ramekin with 280ml capacity
100g rolled oats
50g walnut or any nuts, toasted and roughly chopped, divided into 2 x 25g portions
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
250ml (1 cup) milk
30g maple syrup, plus more to serve if desired
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp extract
30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided into 2 x 15g portions
1 ripe bananas, peeled and break into 1-2 cm pieces
125g blueberries or other berries like raspberries and mixed berries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F. Grease ramekins with butter or vegetable oil spray .

Combine oats, 25g walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add milk, maple syrup, egg yolk, vanilla and 15g melted butter in a large measuring cup or another mixing bowl and use a fork to beat roughly until combined.

Divide banana into 4 portions and arrange each portion bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared ramekins. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp blueberries in each ramekin. Divide oat mixture into 4 portions and fill each ramekin with one portion of oat mixture.

Divide the milk mixture to 4 portions and pour one portion of milk mixture (about 1/4 cup) over the oats in each ramekin.

Gently tap the ramekins so that the milk mixture added can flow through the oats. Top with the remaining berries (about 1-2 tbsp per ramekin) and walnuts (about 6-7g per ramekins). Drizzle the remaining melted butter (about 3-4g per ramekins) on top of the oat-berry-walnut mixture.

Bake for 30 mins or until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 mins. Drizzle with maple syrup if desired and serve.

Happy Baking
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"Your beef stew got standard! Must cook again!"

After I have cooked this EASY healthy red wine beef stew at here for my family, my beef-loving husband and son have been nagging and reminding me that they want MORE beef stew.

Not bragging but I know that my beef stew is good!!! However, instead of cooking the same recipe again and again, I want to try another different recipe. I'm not a boring person, you know! LOL!

Having said that, I have to clarify that I'm doing this NOT because the previous recipe is not good! Simply because I have seen another highly reviewed beef stew recipe by Barefoot Contessa, also known as Parker's Beef Stew at here, here and here and I wonder if I can cook a BETTER beef stew! I have to say... I love these kind of domestic challenges! LOL!


I have managed to cook a BETTER beef stew! ... but I didn't follow the Parker's Beef Stew recipe. Huh??? LOL!!! Instead, I have adapted several critical ideas from the recipe to enhance a classic stew. Want to know why and more? Please allow me to explain...

Flavoursome Red Wine Beef Stew with Bacon

Why didn't I cook the exact Parker's Beef Stew recipe?
I like this recipe but there are some little things that I don't really like and so I have decided to incorporate only the things that I like into mine.

What I like about Parker's Beef Stew?
Unlike most stew, the beef in this stew is marinated in red wine overnight and so you can imagine... the beef is very infused with red wine flavours.

Unlike most stew, this stew is cooked with BACON and it makes the stew extra flavoursome! And of course, you can omit the addition of bacon if you don't prefer to have bacon in your stew.

Unlike the stew that I cooked before at here, the gravy of this stew is thickened after the beef has been cooked to tender and so you can adjust the consistency of the gravy according to your liking.

What I don't like about Parker's Beef Stew?
I just want my beef stew to be classic... with beef, potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and prefer our stew not to have the unusual peas and sun-dried tomatoes.

Instead of using a Dutch oven to bake my stew for about two hours, I have used a pressure cooker to cook mine within 50 mins. Faster and it works perfectly fine for us.

Instead of using 2 1/2 cups of red wine, I have reduced mine slightly to 2 cups to moderate the amount of tannin taste in our stew.

What is the right red wine to use?
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most appropriate to use due to its bold full-bodied aromas and moderate tannin taste.

Cabernet Merlot or Merlot tends to be sweeter with lighter tannin taste. Shiraz tends to be richer in taste with a hint of spicy, peppery and smoky aromas.

Both Merlot and Shiraz are ok to use too but I would say Cabernet Sauvignon is the best being sort of in-between Merlot and Shiraz.

Can young children eat this stew?
Yes because the alcohol content from the wine will be fully vapourised after cooking the stew for more than an hour.

My son ate heaps of both stews that were made from the Easy recipe at here and also THIS Extra Flavoursome recipe and he was acting usual after eating his food! Double and triple confirmed that there is no drunken boy living in my house! LOL!

Is this recipe better than one at here?
Yes! Use this recipe if you are after a beef stew that is more flavoursome (due to the overnight marination and the addition of bacon) and has less thicker gravy.

No! Use the recipe at here if you are after an easy hassle free recipe because this recipe requires more time for several additional preparation and cooking steps. I have to say that the recipe at here is so much easier to cook as there is no thickening of gravy required after the beef is cooked to tender.

Plus, I have noticed something... the beef that has been soaked in red wine won't sear and brown so well like the beef that are not soaked in read wine. And, it is actually quite frustration when the flour coating on the soaked beef tends to be sticky and get stuck onto the pan more easily. To fix this problem, you will need more cooking oil to sear the beef and also a lot of pan-scraping! Well, pro and cons... At least, the good thing is this beef stew with soaked beef is more tasty! ... whereas the other stew at here is healthier with no bacon and require less oil to cook the beef. Hmmm... so difficult to decide, huh!!!

Wow! There is so much flavours packed in every piece of these tender beef!

Not bragging again but I know that I have cooked another delicious beef stew!!! LOL!

Both my fussy husband and son had unanimously agreed that this beef stew is tastier than the other one... See! Isn't it good that I'm not a boring person and I like such domestic challenges? LOL!

Here's a video showing I cooked this delicious stew.

Extra Flavoursome Red Wine Beef Stew with Bacon - YouTube

Like stew recipes? Stay tune because I have many busy-mum-friendly recipes to share. To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the extra flavoursome red wine beef stew recipe that I have adapted from herehere, here, and here.

Serve 6-8
This is a freezer-friendly recipe. I usually cook this massive amount at go and keep the leftovers in a freezer for up to 1 month for our fuss free weekday dinners.

To marinate:
1 1/2 kg (3 pounds) lean chuck beef, cut into 3-4 cm / 1 1/4 inch cubes
about 500ml good red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon or more if required
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 bay leaves

To sear the beef and bacon:
30g (3 tbsp) plain / all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
3 tbsp cooking oil, plus more if necessary
250g (9 ounces) bacon, cut in 2.5 cm / 1 inch pieces

To cook the gravy:
2 medium brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp garlic mince
500ml (2 cups) beef stock
30ml (2 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper or more to season

To assemble:
3 medium carrots, cut in 5 cm / 1 1/2 inch chunks, no need to peel, discard the top and bottom pieces
500g small potatoes, washed and halved
250g button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 large branch fresh rosemary

To thicken the gravy:
20g (2 tbsp) plain / all-purpose flour

To marinate the beef on the day before:
Place beef in glass tray/s or container/s with red wine, whole garlic, and bay leaves. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

To sear the beef and bacon on the next day:
Remove beef from the marinade. Keep 500 ml (about 2 cups) of the marinade and discard the rest. Combine beef, flour, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp cooking oil a large frying pan with medium heat. Cook bacon for 5 to 7 mins until golden brown and the fat is released. Transfer the cooked bacon into a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.

Add 2 tbsp cooking oil into the same frying pan if necessary. Cook beef over medium high heat in 1-2 batches if required for about 5-7 mins until lightly brown. Transfer onto a plate and set aside. Note: It's ok that the flour coating will stick onto the pan more easily. To fix this problem, you will need more cooking oil to sear the beef and also a lot of pan-scraping while cooking the onions later.

To cook the gravy:
Reduce heat to medium-low, add onions into the frying pan and cook for about 5 mins until the onions are fragrant, golden and softened. While cooking the onions, use a scratch-proof / wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. Add garlic mince and cook for about 1 min until fragrant. Add 500ml of the reserved marinade and cook over high heat to bring it to boil. Keep scraping the bottom of the pan to de-glaze. Remove from heat. Add beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if required.

To assemble:
Add carrots, potatoes and mushrooms into 1) a pressure cooker if you want to cook your stew for about 1 hr or 2) a non-stick large (6L or anything larger) cooking pot with a tight fitting lid if you want to cook your stew for 2 hrs or 3) a large (6L or anything larger) Dutch if you want to slow-bake your stew for 2 hrs or 4) a 6L (or any larger) slow cooker if you want to cook your stew for 8 hrs. Then, add the seared bacon and beef with all their juices, the red wine gravy and rosemary.

Cover and ...
1) cook for 40-60 mins with medium pressure if you are using a pressure cooker. 30 mins if you are planning to keep the stew in a freezer.
Or 2) cook for 2 hr if you are using a regular non-stick cooking pot. Use medium high heat to bring mixture to boil first, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 hr or until beef is tender.
Or 3) bring mixture to simmer on the stove with medium heat if you are using a Dutch oven to slow bake. While the mixture is cooking on the stove, preheat oven at 250˚F or 275˚F. When mixture is simmering, place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven and bake at 250˚F or 275˚F for 2 hrs or until beef and vegetables are tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 135˚C / 275˚F or a slightly lower temperature.
Or 4) cook for 8 hr if you are using a slow cooker.

IMPORTANT: Cooking timing might vary due to the cut of the beef that you used. Please make sure that the beef has to be cooked or baked to tender.

To thicken the gravy:
When the stew is done and the meat is tender, remove 1 cup gravy from the stew and whisk 2 tbsp flour into it. Pour mixture back into the stew and simmer the stew for about 3 mins or until the gravy thickened. Season with salt and pepper if required and serve while it is hot.

Happy Cooking
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Those yummy crispy Nestum cereal cookies that I have baked at here, here and here?
Those very soft copycat BreadTalk Nestum cereal floss breads that I have baked at here?
Those cottony soft Nestum cereal floss mayonnaise chiffon Swiss roll that I have baked at here and here?

So what's next?

I have created these Crispy Butter Nestum Waffles!!!

Another MUST-TRY recipe if you like Nestum cereal and crispy waffles!

Love love love these Crispy Butter Nestum Cereal Waffles!!!

Isn't it kind of obvious that I like to incorporate Nestum cereal into some of our food?

What is Nestum cereal???

As mentioned at here (Crispy Nestum Cookies), here (Extra Crispy Nestum-loaded Cookies) and here (Crispy Buttery Egg-less Nestum Cookies) and here (Cereal Floss Bread Buns) before, Nestum is a product of Nestle in Singapore and Malaysia. It was first introduced in Singapore in the 1960s as an instant nutritious breakfast cereal drink. It is a processed cereal product that is made with NO wholegrain but mostly wholemeal flour plus other flour such rice, corn and barley. And, the product is typically fortified with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Although Nestum is commonly available in Singapore and Malaysia, it is not easily available in many non-Asian countries such as US, Europe and Australia. I have discovered that we can buy Nestum via online and Amazon. If you are living in Melbourne because you can buy Nestum at some Asian grocery shops in Melbourne city, Richmond, Preston and also Boxhill.

I'm amazed that the addition of Nestum cereal can make these nutrition-enriched semi-wholemeal waffles so crispy and delicious. Somehow, I reckon that the addition of Nestum cereal kind of works better than adding wholemeal flour into waffles. What do you think?

Here's a video showing how I made my cereal waffles plus my cooking tips if you want to make Nestum waffles that are crispy and delicious like mine.

1) Please do not skip the cereal-cooking step before adding the cereal to make the waffles. I wonder if you can detect or taste the difference but I do. I really like the lightly toasted taste and fragrance of the cereal especially inside the non-crispy spongy area of the waffles. Do you?

2) Unlike some waffle batter, this batter is NOT runny at all. It is a THICK batter with firm and big-bubbly sponge-like texture. This texture formation is caused by the composite of the recipe and the chemical reaction between buttermilk, baking powder and baking soda. Ideally, I would suggest NOT to modify this recipe or substitute buttermilk with ingredients such as yogurt or milk. However, if you really really really can't find or buy buttermilk, you can replace it with 100ml milk and 1/2 tsp vinegar. Let the milk mixture rest and curdle for about 5 mins before adding it into the other ingredients.

3) Do you know that Nestum cereal contains 13% sugar?!!! This is why I don't add sugar into these waffles especially when I'm enjoying mine with maple syrup later. With the hidden sugar from the cereal, the waffles will be crispy anyway... So why do I have to eat unnecessary excessive sugar? However, if you think that these waffles are not sweet enough for you, you can always add 1-3 tbsp (10-30g) sugar into the dry ingredients.

Crispy Nestum Cereal Waffles - YouTube

There is no added sugar in these semi-wholemeal waffles.
Yet, they are so crispy and delicious!
Crispy, spongy and not too sweet...
Just right with a moderate drizzle of maple syrup.

I hope that you will like this recipe as much as I do. If you want more of my recipes with the latest updates from me, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the recipe.

Makes 4-5 thick 9 x 9 cm thick waffles
45g Nestum cereal, about slightly less than 1 cup but please use the exact weight
The other dry ingredients:
50g (1/3 cup) all purpose / plain flour
45g (1/3 cup) cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

The wet ingredients:
100ml (7 tbsp) milk, cold
100ml (7 tbsp) buttermilk, cold
60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, cold

vegetable oil spray, to grease the waffle iron

Place cereal in a saucepan. Cook with medium heat and frequent stirring for about 7-8 mins or until golden, lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to allow cereal to cool completely.

Combine other dry ingredients in a plastic bag.

In a extra large measuring cup or large mixture bowl, pour milk and buttermilk with the correct volume in it. Then, add melted butter and egg. Use a little hand whisk or a fork to mix until combined and it is ok if the mixture has clumps of butter.

Sift dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Add toasted cereal and use the same little hand whisk or a fork to mix until just combined. Do not over-mix! In just one minute or two, the mixture will transform into a THICK voluminous spongy batter. 

Allow mixture to rest at room temperature for about 5 mins.

While the batter is resting, preheat waffle iron to its medium low heat setting - not the lowest!

Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick oil spray. Caution: If you are cooking waffles on the your stove, please do not spray cooking oil into direct fire! Using the same measuring cup, pour adequate waffle batter (about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup) onto hot waffle iron. Cook until both sides are crispy and golden. Repeat this step until all the batter has been used.

Serve immediately or keep warm in a 100°C or 200°F oven until ready to serve. Serve with any syrup or toppings that you like.

Enjoy your waffles!
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Have you receive a gourmet BBQ sauce as a gift and don't know what to do with it?

Have you seen an interesting BBQ sauce in a deli shop or any fine food supermarket and wonder what can you cook with it?

What if you don't have a barbecue???

What if the outdoor weather is too cold, hot or rainy to barbecue? ... like the current cold and rainy Melbourne!

Well, if you have an oven, I can show you how to oven-grill chicken using any BBQ sauce with minimal washing...

This is how I BBQ chicken in the oven using an interesting BBQ sauce.

We have a Weber BBQ but we don't use it to grill any sticky BBQ food because washing and scrubbing the sticky bits can be really a pain!!! Thus, our Weber is used for grilling fish on hot plate, sausages and skewers that are plainly seasoned with salt and pepper.

Usually, I use my oven to grill our sticky BBQ food and often make my own marinades like the recipes at:
Best Barbecued Meat and Homemade Barbecue Sauce (Recipe originated from Jamie Oliver)
Our Favourite Char Siu Chicken
Kecap Manis Ginger Chicken
Sticky Brown Sugar Bourbon Chicken
Easy Oven-Baked Sticky Chicken Wings with Sriracha, Sesame and Honey (Recipe from Donna Hay)
Honey-baked Chicken Wings with Sambal Belacan
Japanese Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings (Recipe originated from Bill Granger)
Orange and Ginger Caramelised Chicken Wings (Recipe originated from Gordon Ramsay)
Homemade Char Siu (Recipe originated from Nigella Lawson)
Sticky Chicken Drumsticks (Curtis Stone)

Basically, there are two ways of oven-grilling chicken...
One is to marinate the chicken for more than one hour or preferably overnight in the fridge first. Bake chicken with the marinade at moderate oven temperature until tender. Remove chicken from the marinade and finish by grilling the chicken with top grill and basting until sticky and well-caramelised.
Recipes for reference: Best Barbecued Meat and Homemade Barbecue Sauce (Recipe originated from Jamie Oliver), Our Favourite Char Siu Chicken, Kecap Manis Ginger Chicken, Sticky Brown Sugar Bourbon Chicken and Easy Oven-Baked Sticky Chicken Wings with Sriracha, Sesame and Honey (Recipe from Donna Hay)

The other way is to grill the chicken with high oven temperature plus top grill first to sear the juices in the chicken, then bake with moderate oven temperature minus the top grill plus constant basting until the chicken is tender, sticky and well-caramelised. This grilling method does NOT require the chicken to be marinated in excessive marinade and longer duration. In another words, the long-waiting marinating step can be optional if you are using this method.
Recipes for reference: Honey-baked Chicken Wings with Sambal Belacan, Japanese Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings (Recipe originated from Bill Granger)Orange and Ginger Caramelised Chicken Wings (Recipe originated from Gordon Ramsay), Homemade Char Siu (Recipe originated from Nigella Lawson) and Sticky Chicken Drumsticks (Curtis Stone)

Which way is better? I must say that method one infused more flavours into the chicken due to the long marinating duration but the alternate method is good too by making the chicken stickier.

Still too complicated? LOL! Here's a video showing I oven-grilled these sticky Beer BBQ sauce chicken using method two to illustrate the concept of oven-grilling chicken further.

How to BBQ chicken in an oven using any BBQ sauce - YouTube

Here are a few tips to share about this oven-grilling technique.

1) Please do not use skinless chicken breast for oven-grilling. The lower-fat meat will turn out to be dry and tough eventually! Best is to use chicken with skin like chicken wings or chicken drumsticks. And, it's ok to use skinless boneless chicken thighs but do not over-bake them!

2) The use of wire rack to place the chicken for oven-grilling can be optional. The wire rack helps to grill the chicken faster and creates more caramelized surfaces. If you do that, you don't need to transfer the chicken into a newly-lined baking tray at the finial 15 mins of baking.

3) The disadvantage of using the wire rack for oven-grilling chicken is the washing!!! Hence, if you are using a wire rack, it will be good if you 1) use a non-stick wire rack 2) brush the rack with generously with oil 3) line the supporting baking tray with aluminium foil. To wash, just dispose the aluminium foil, soak the wire rack with boiling hot water for about 15 mins and you can wash the charred area very easily. That's it! Way better than cleaning the entire sticky Weber!!! LOL!!!

These oven-grilled BBQ chicken looks pretty professionally grilled.
Can fight with those that are grilled in a real barbie... Not bad huh?
Yummy sticky chicken!!!

I would like to say that I'm not advertising for Beerenberg and Coopers. I just bought this BBQ sauce as one of the souvenirs from our Adelaide trip. The sauce is just ok as we all unanimously agreed that my self-made marinades (like those recipes that I have mentioned above) are much more better!

Like my how-to-videos and recipes? To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

This is how I oven-grilled chicken using any BBQ sauce.

Serves 4-6
1 kg chicken, with or without skin or bone - I'm using skinless boneless chicken thighs. Do not use skinless chicken breasts! - Please see the above tip.
8 tbsp (1/2 cup) your favourite barbecue sauce plus more if required, divided into 2 tbsp and 6 tbsp
vegetable oil to brush

Add chicken and 2 tbsp barbecue sauce into a large zip lock bag. Toss well to ensure that the chicken is well-coated with the sauce. Do not add too much barbecue sauce because too much salt content from the sauce will cause the meat to lose more of its juice and too much sugar from the sauce will cause the meat to burn before the meat is properly seared during the high temperature grilling.

Allow chicken to marinate in a fridge for about 30 mins or more.

Place a rack on the highest or second highest position which is about 10 cm from the top heating element. Preheat oven to 220°C fan forced with top grill heating.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and set an non-stick wire rack on the baking tray. Brush the wire rack with oil to prevent the BBQ chicken from sticking on the rack.

Arrange the marinated chicken on the wire rack in a single layer. Brush chicken generously with oil.

Grill the chicken for about 7 mins or until the surfaces or edges starts to brown. Flip and brush generously with oil. Grill on the second side for about 5 mins or until the surfaces starts to brown.

Turn off the top grill heating and reduce temperature to oven to 180°C fan forced. Re-position the rack in the middle position of the oven and continue to bake the chicken at the new position.

Keep flipping and brushing the chicken with the remaining sauce in every 10-15 mins of baking until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. Please note that the baking time vary according to the size and parts of the chicken that you used. I baked these chicken thighs for 25 mins plus 12 mins of initial grilling.

Serve chicken when it is warm and sticky.

Happy Baking
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Hi hi... I'm baking Swiss roll again!

Today, I will be sharing the tips and tricks on how to bake a basic ASIAN style Swiss roll with a THIN LAYER OF strawberry jam FILLING.

Have you noticed that most Swiss rolls selling in most Chinese or Asian bakeries look kind of naked with no outer cake skin? And most Asian-style Swiss rolls would taste very soft like cotton just like mine at here, here, here, here and here.

Remember that I said before at here that I will need to apply THICK cream filling into the thicker fluffier cake base in order to roll it properly without breaking it. Now, I have discovered that I use the same cake base recipe even if I want to apply a THIN filling into it.

How? Do you want to know?

My Asian Style Cottony Soft Chiffon Swiss Roll
... rolled with a THIN layer of Strawberry Jam filling.

If you want to apply any THIN filling into your relatively THICK Swiss roll cake without going through the nightmare of breaking it while rolling, please...

1) DO NOT OVER-BAKE the cake base - MOST IMPORTANT!!!
You must bake the cake base until it is well-risen and thoroughly cooked but it can't be baked further into a THICKER FLUFFIER cake base like the one at here. And you will be surprised that the extra 1 to 2 minutes of baking can make such a huge difference!

The "less-baked" cake base will shrink slightly more than usual and of course it won't be as thick and fluffy like the ones that are baked slightly longer. Yet, not to worry! Its texture will remain cottony soft and it will be extra flexible for rolling.

2) REMOVE the bottom cake skin. And it is ok if the top cake skin is too tender and fragile to touch.
The "less-baked" cake base will have moister top and bottom cake skins which can be very fragile and easily removed by peeling them off the cake. You must remove the bottom cake skin but don't have to peel the top one and I will explain why in my next point.

3) ROLL the cake with the bottom skinless side facing out.
If you examine the cross-section of the cake very closely, you will the see that the top layer of the cake tends to be more more baked and rigid than its bottom. Hence, this means that the cake bottom without the skin is actually more flexible and can be stretched further with wider angle without breaking it.

So now you know... This is why the Swiss rolls that are selling in most Chinese or Asian bakeries are kind of naked with no outer cake skin.

4) USE filling that are spreadable.
Once you have understood the principle of baking a Swiss roll with a THIN layer of filling, you can apply any kind of fillings that you want like Nutella, peanut butter, cream, buttercream and etc but they have be spreadable, not rigid! If you are using Nutella or peanut butter, please make sure that they are slightly warmed and runny so that they can be easily and evenly spread onto the cake base.

If you are still not confident to bake use this relatively thick Swiss roll recipe with thin layer filling, I suggest that you should bake 80% of this recipe with the same baking tray (35 x 25 cm / 10 x 14 inches) for 15 mins, just like what I did at here, here and here. The thinner cakes are usually easier to roll than the thicker ones.

That's all! Sound easy?

Watch my video and I'm pretty sure that you can bake this yummy Swiss roll too. Happy Baking!

Asian Style Cottony Soft Strawberry Jam Chiffon Swiss roll - YouTube

Mmmm... It's delicious!
It was an instant thumb up from my son when he took a bite of this cottony Swiss roll.

Like my baking tips and recipes? If you want more, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the recipe.

IMPORTANT: Please use the exact weight and make sure that all cake base ingredients are at room temperature.

Make one Swiss roll (unrolled size: 35 x 25 cm / 10 x 14 inches)

For the egg white mixture:
175g egg whites - about 5 large but please use exact weight.
80g caster sugar

For the egg yolk mixture:
75g egg yolks - about 4-5 large but please use exact weight.
65g milk
60g vegetable oil, preferably something neutral tasting
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
90g cake flour
10g corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

For the filling:
about 1/3 cup strawberry jam - you can use any other jam that you like

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line baking tray with baking paper.

For the egg white mixture:
Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites in lowest speed for at least 10 mins to stabilise the egg white mixture.

While beating, proceed to mix the egg yolk mixture:
In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, oil and vanilla. Use a hand whisk to mix until combined. Sift cake flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt into egg yolk mixture and use a hand whisk to mix until all are well-incorporated. Set aside.

Back to beating the egg white mixture:
Increase beating speed to the next higher speed. While beating, add sugar gradually. Increase beating speed to the next higher speed and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. The egg white mixture should be very smooth with tiny bubbles. Do not over-beat the mixture or use too high speed to beat the mixture.

Combine egg yolk and white mixtures:
Using a hand whisk or a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites to the egg yolks mixture in 3-4 batches. It is ok to mix the 1st batch of egg white more vigorously into the egg yolk mixture but the subsequent portions must be folded in very gently. Make sure that most of the white is not visible after folding.

Pour batter into baking tray. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly and gentle tap the filled tray on the kitchen top to remove any large bubble.

Bake for 15-16 mins or until the cake is well-risen and fully cooked. IMPORTANT: Do not over-bake the cake or bake the fully-cooked cake for more than 16 mins especially if you are applying a thin layer of jam filling on it. And it's ok if the top cake skin is tender to touch - please read the above baking tip.

When done, remove cake (with its baking paper) from the tray immediately and transfer it onto a wire rack to cool. After about 5 mins of cooling, flip the cake onto a clean baking paper and remove the used baking paper and also the cake skin at its bottom. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To assemble:
Place cake with the skinless bottom side down on a clean baking paper. Use a knife to trim off about 0.5 cm from both the shorter sides of the cake.

Spread thin layer of jam evenly on the cake. Roll the cake from the shorter end (that is closer to you) along the longer side to form a Swiss roll.

Wrap in clean baking paper and then in cling wrap. Allow cake to set into its shape for about 30 mins at room temperature

Trim off both sides of the cake. Slice and serve. Enjoy!!!

Happy Baking
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I can't imagine... I have been baking and blogging for 8 years!!!

Throughout these years, I have learned valuable cooking and baking knowledge and have shared heaps to many readers. Strangely and occasionally, I have came across suspicious readers who were out-front with me, asking me why am I doing this. Like I always say, I'm baking and sharing recipes simply because I like it. ^-^

Despite that I'm always trying my best to share, there are times that I can't write and publish some really good recipes promptly due to the fact that I'm a busy working mum and blogging is not my job. It's my hobby! Nevertheless, I still try to record most of the good recipes that I have tried even with the details on how we enjoyed the food for my personal remembrance. Well, we have to agree... Writing and sharing recipes can be very time consuming!

Lately, I have been baking a series of super soft breads and realised that I have to publish this recipe first so that I can explain the subsequent discovery of many SUPER SOFT bread recipes.

Oh! We can't deny... SUPER SOFT breads are yummy!!! And I thought that it will be a shame if I don't share these recipes. Hence, if you like to want to know more, you might want to read this story to know how it started...

This Super Soft Sourdough Bread is one of the BEST recipes that I have baked before.
... but sadly, I didn't have the time to publish it earlier.

It was years ago who my family and I had this conversation...

"Try these! These bread are very soft!" I said to my husband and son as I was serving these sourdough bread as part of our dinner.

"Sure???" As usual, my husband likes to underrate my capability and always give me a skeptical look whenever I said that I have made something good... *sign*

"See this"... I placed a slice of bread on my left palm and allow its soft and oversize edges draped over my hand. Then, I used my right index finger to poke a middle part of the bread and the spot is so spongy soft that it kept bouncing back.

"See, see, see..." I was gaining good confidence showing off the softness of the bread and kept pressing it. LOL!

Seeing this, my son was totally impressed and said "Give me four!" Next, I heard "Me too!" Then, the bread was gone very quickly.

I discovered this really really really super soft sourdough bread recipe when I was maintaining my sourdough starter at here several years ago. I must confess that looking after a sourdough starter is not easy. It's like nurturing a pet that needs constant feeding and cleaning with lots tender loving care... After 3-4 long months of stirring and jar washing , I gave up! I had to kill my sourdough because I need a holiday!!! LOL!

Before I "murdered" my precious, the least is I have discovered this really really really super soft sourdough bread recipe that leads me to many other baking discoveries...

At first, I have baked this bread with this 12 hr old sourdough starter.
Then... No sourdough starter??? No worries!!!

After I "murdered" my precious sourdough, I have baked this recipe with an instant yeast overnight starter culture and it works perfectly well too. The bread made with the instant yeast overnight started is equally soft like the sourdough one but sadly, it doesn't have the lovely sweet sourish taste! - Gosh! I so miss my sourdough starter!!! sob sob...

If you don't have a sourdough starter, you can bake this bread with an instant yeast overnight starter.

Do you have your sourdough or instant yeast overnight starter ready?
On the day of bake...

These ready-to-bake breads are made with sourdough starter.

To bake these bread, I have learnt that I can use two options:

One: The steam-baking method

I have used this option to bake the sourdough boule and the overnight starter sandwich loaves for a deep and flavoursome crust.

The steam-baking method: preheat oven with a baking tray at 220°C with or without fan forced.
Then, I did this.
After baking - This sourdough bread is beautiful!!!
After baking - I saw the same beautiful crust on the overnight starter sandwich loaves too!
I can't stop admiring these breads!!!

Two: The usual baking method

I have also tried this option to bake the sourdough loaf at 180°C with NO steam baking method and yielded this ordinary-looking super soft bread.

After baking - Another soft and beautiful sourdough loaf but the crust is not as dark as the steam baked ones.
All breads that are made with sourdough and overnight starter, with or without steam baking
... are soft, spongy and delicious!

If I have to rate this recipe, I would say that it is 5 out of 5. If I can give it a rating of 6 out of 5, I would and would do it without any hesitation because this recipe has been constantly producing perfectly soft breads that are beyond my expectations.

Although I like the lightly crusted breads, I would highly recommend baking this bread with the steam-baking method too because this bread with the deeper crust flavours is equally soft and yet tastes extra good!

Once again...
I have used this recipe to bake another super soft bread...
... with an overnight yeast starter without using the steam baking option.

Here's my one-minute video showing how I baked these super soft breads.
Really Really Really Soft Overnight Starter Breads - YouTube

And I promise that I won't squeeze or poke my breads in my video! LOL!

Why? I have learned from some Facebook posts (not mine! ops!) and several feedback that many readers are disgusted with bloggers that posted video of them squeezing their breads, cakes or any food. Hmmm... I see your point and I won't do that. LOL!

Well, I guess that you just have to believe me that these breads are super soft. And the only way to confirm is to bake them yourself!

Besides knowing that this recipe can bake super soft sourdough / sandwich breads using either sourdough or overnight starter, I have also know another super soft bread recipe that uses overnight starter recipe at here. Hence, I'm naming this recipe Super Soft Sandwich Bread with Sourdough or Overnight Starter Recipe TWO which is a sequel of the Recipe One at here.

Which recipe is better? One or Two? I can't decide! Both are equally super soft and yet their composite are actually quite different. Why not try both and let me know if you like which one more?

Like I said earlier that this recipe is just a beginning and I will have more super soft bread recipes to share. So please stay tune if you are interested. To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the recipe that is adapted from Wild Yeast Blog

Makes two 20 x 10 cm or 8 x 4 inches loaves or two large boules

For the sourdough starter:
150g 8-12 hr sourdough starter (please refer to here for details of making your own starter)
150g water at room temperature
150g unbleached bread flour

If you don't have a sourdough starter, you use an instant yeast overnight starter. It can also make your bread that is equally soft but wouldn't give you the tangy and yogurt-like taste from the sourdough starter

For 350g instant yeast overnight starter:
175g water at room temperature
175g unbleached bread flour
10g caster sugar
1/4 tsp instant dried yeast

To make either the sourdough starter or the instant yeast overnight starter:
On the day before the bake, mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl or container until combined. Please do not use any bowl or container that is made of metal. The sponge will be the consistency of a thick batter. Cover the bowl and let the starter ferment until bubbly and active, 8 to 12 hrs, depending on the temperature of the room. For the instant yeast overnight starter, leave it to ferment for 1-2 hr in room temperature or until bubbly and then store it in the fridge overnight (16 to 24 hrs) until required. Bring overnight starter to room temperature at least for 1 hr before using it to make the bread dough.

For the dough:
350g sourdough or instant yeast overnight starter
275g water at room temperature
30g honey
530g unbleached bread flour
30g milk powder
14g salt
60g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature plus extra for greasing
1/2 tsp (for sourdough dough) or 1 tsp (for overnight starter dough) instant dried yeast, optional and omit if you don't mind waiting for extra 4-6 hrs

extra butter, softened at room temperature or vegetable oil spray, to grease the loaf pans

To make the bread dough:
Using an electric mixer or bread maker (with a dough setting), mix and knead all of the dough ingredients unit the dough is smooth and elastic. 

If you are using an electric mixer to knead, transfer the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough ferment for 2-3 hrs or until double the size. If you are using a bread maker, just leave the dough to prove in the breadmaker for 2-3 hrs after kneading. I have added instant dried yeast in my dough and so it requires only 1-2 hrs to prove. 

Divide the dough into two.

To shape it into boule:
Place the dough on a lightly floured or non-stick surface. Fold the top, bottom, and sides of the dough toward the center. Turn the dough over, cover it with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10 mins. While the dough is resting, line baking trays with baking papers.

Uncover the dough and round the loaf by pushing against the bottom of the dough all around with the sides of your hands held palms upward. The dough will quickly form an even sphere. Place the shaped dough with its smooth top facing upward onto one of the prepared baking tray. Repeat the shaping method with the other portion of the dough.

To shape it into a loaf:
Grease loaf pan with butter or vegetable oil spray. Divide the dough further into 3 portions and shape each into balls. Allow them to rest at room temperature for about 10 mins. Using a rolling pin, roll one portion into long and flat oval shape (about 20 cm). Use your fingers to pick one shorter side of the dough, tuck and roll the dough like a Swiss roll. Use a rolling pin to flatten and roll the dough into a long rod shape again. Then, pick one shorter side of the dough and roll it like a Swiss roll again. Repeat this rolling step with the remaining portions of dough.

Place three shaped dough with their seams side down into the prepared pan. Press the top of the dough lightly to form an even surface. Cover the dough with cling wrap loosely and allow the bread to prove for another 1.5-3 hrs or until doubled the size.

There are two options to bake these breads.

One: Steam-baking method
This will yield bread with a deeper and flavoursome crust. Please note the crust will not be hard. It is slightly darker, more flavoursome with soft and chewy texture.

Place rack in the middle of the oven and also a baking tray in the bottom of the oven. Then, get ready 1-2 glasses of iced water. Preheat the oven at 425°F or 220°C (with or without) fan forced.

Once the oven is ready, place the bread on the middle rack and pour the iced water onto the preheated tray at the bottom. Note: Most professional bakers transfer their bread dough onto a pre-heated baking stone or tray before baking it but I find that this step has been pretty daunting for me and so I just baked the bread that is placed on a non-heated tray.

Maintain the oven temperature at 425°F or 220°C or reduce to 200°C with fan forced and bake the bread for 10 mins. Then, decrease the oven temperature to 400°F or 200°C or 180°C with fan forced and continue to bake for 15 mins or until the crust is deep golden colour. If the top of bread turns brown too quickly, cover the bread loosely with a foil and continue to bake it for at least 25 mins in total. Transfer bread immediately onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Two: Ordinary non-steam baking method
This will yield very soft and oridinary-looking bread with no deep crusty flavours.

Preheat the oven at 350°F or 180°C or 160°C with fan forced. Bake the bread in the middle rack for 25 mins. Allow it to cool completely on a wire rack. If the top of bread turns brown too quickly, cover the bread loosely with a foil and continue to bake it for at least 25 mins in total.

Transfer bread immediately onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Happy Baking
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As we all know, self-raising flour is a core ingredient to bake good fluffy scones.

Personally, I don't and won't substitute self-raising flour with plain flour plus baking powder when I use it to bake scones. Why? Theoretically, we can make our own self-raising flour by mixing 1 cup plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder. Practically, this substitution works well for baking cakes but not optimally for scones. To me, the chemical raising power of the well-formulated self raising is always the best and unbeatable! And you will rarely "catch" me baking scones without using self-raising flour... except today!!! LOL!

Can you imagine? How can I bake decent scones with NO self raising flour, NO baking powder, NO baking soda or NO any chemical raising agents??? Strangely and amazingly, I did and the scones did puffed up eventually!!! How??? I'm guessing... The magic ingredients are buttermilk, lemon juice and egg!!! Interesting, huh?

From my NO-raising-agent bake, I have learned that lemon juice can make scones fluffier!!! From here, I have also learned to create these extra fluffy lemon buttermilk scones...

Extra Fluffy Lemon Buttermilk Scones
Do you know that lemon juice can make fluffy scones even fluffier?

What lead me to learn this?

Is it going to be a long grandma story again? LOL! I hope not...

In short, this NO-raising-agent scone idea originates from the book, 100 Desserts to Die For by Trish Deseine which is one of my favourite recipe book for baking and desserts.

Can you imagine? Scones with NO self raising flour, NO baking powder, NO baking soda and has egg? Wah! It is sp not traditional!!! I was like huh??? and huh!!! when I first saw the recipe. I kept asking myself... Is this a typo error? Or am I having any vision problem? I have read this recipe more than thousands millions times and confirmed that there is NO raising agents in these scones and the curious me said that I had to go for it! And, I did.

These are the Lemon Buttermilk Scones with NO chemical rising agents added.
I'm surprised to see that these scones did raised, not tremendously but well enough after baking!
Surprised that these scones taste ok with their lemony buttery taste.
... and interesting with a moist chewy "kueh-like" flaky texture.

Isn't it amazing that the lemon scones made with NO raising agents can still rise after baking? Not a lot but still good enough to create a nice flaky texture.

Although the scones do not taste like the traditional well-risen scones, my son said that he actually likes the uncommon moist chewy "kueh-like" flaky texture, tangy buttery taste and the melty plus a little crunchy sugary tops of these lemony scones. I felt the same too. Due to the fact that these scones are not as fluffy as the most traditional ones, they are actually quite plain and doughy to eat on their own. The author of this book suggests that these scones should be ideally served with crunchy lemon butter but we simply love them with honey!

However, if you are a traditionalist, I bet that you wouldn't like these scones!!! No right or wrong! We know because it took us a while with more than a couple of chews to accept and like these uncommon scones.

Then, I had an idea!!! I can add lemon juice into my BEST basic scones recipe to bake even fluffier scones!!!

Gosh!!! This idea is a SPOT-ON!!!

Look!!! I have created these EXTRA FLUFFY lemon buttermilk scones!!!
Wow! They are very well risen with beautiful buttery fluffy texture.
And they taste very good too with zesty lemony fragrance.

These EXTRA FLUFFY lemon scones are the enhanced version of my BEST basic scones recipe. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you like buttery fluffy scones and also lemon!!!

Here's a video showing how I baked these extra fluffy lemon scones. As always, It is IMPORTANT not to overwork dough.

Extra Fluffy Lemon Buttermilk Scones - YouTube

Like my recipes? I promise that I will share more... To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here are the recipes.

I have included both recipes, one with self-raising flour (recipe one) and another without any raising agent (recipe two) just in case if you are curious and want to bake both. If you are a traditionalist and prefer scones that are fluffy, I would strongly encourage you to bake just recipe one using the self-raising flour.

Recipe one: The EXTRA fluffy Lemon Buttermilk Scones adapted from here with NO egg - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Makes about seven 6 cm round scones
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour*
1/4 tsp salt
75g unsalted butter, cold
1 tbsp demerara sugar or any coarse sugar
100ml (6 2/3 tbsp) buttermilk**, cold, plus extra if required
30ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus more if you like

* Please DO NOT replace self-raising flour with plain flour (or all purpose flour) plus baking powder. Although the chemistry of both self-raising flour and baking powder added are the same, the raising strength of self-raising flour has shown to be the best for making scones.

** Please DO NOT substitute buttermilk with milk plus vinegar or yogurt. The texture and chemistry reaction of the vinegar-ed milk or yogurt are never the same as buttermilk.

To shape and finish:
extra flour to dust
extra buttermilk to brush
1-2 tbsp extra demerara sugar or any coarse sugar to sprinkle - It's a must to do this as the scones are not sweet!

Recipe two: Lemon Buttermilk Scones with NO raising agent adapted from the book, 100 Desserts to Die For by Trish Deseine

Makes about seven 6 cm round scones
225g (1 1/2 cups) plain / all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
75g unsalted butter, cold
1 tbsp demerara sugar or any coarse sugar
l egg, cold
45ml (3 tbsp) buttermilk**, cold plus extra if required
30ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus more if you like

To shape and finish:
extra flour to dust
extra buttermilk to brush
1-2 tbsp extra demerara sugar or any coarse sugar to sprinkle - It's a must to do this as the scones are not sweet!

For both recipes:

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F or 200°C / 400°F fan forced.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lightly dust the baking paper with flour.

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and use your fingertips to rub butter into the flour mixture until mixture forms pea-like crumbs. Then, stir sugar into the flour mixture.

Combine egg (recipe two only), buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest in another bowl and mix mixture briefly until combined.

Using a blunt knife, make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour buttermilk mixture into the well and use the same knife to mix until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Once the dough starts to come together, use your hands to gather all together to form one pliable dough. Do not over-mix or over-knead the dough too much. The dough should be pliable but not sticky. If dough is too dry, add a little buttermilk.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Use your hand to pat dough to form a flat round with about 2-3 cm (1 inch) thickness. Using a lightly floured 6 cm round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 7-8 rounds and place them on the prepared tray, about 2 cm (3/4 inches) apart. It's ok that the scones are not neatly shaped because they should not be over-worked.

Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the top of each scone with buttermilk and sprinkle about 1/2 tsp demerara sugar on each scone.

Bake for 14 mins for recipe one and 12 mins for recipe two or until the scones are well risen, golden and cooked through. It is important NOT to under-bake scones! Serve warm with honey or extra butter or lemon butter. IMPORTANT: These scones are best eaten on the day that they are made. Preferably hot from the oven or at least warm if you are enjoying the scones from recipe two.

To make the lemon butter (adapted from the book, 100 Desserts to Die For by Trish Deseine):

Combine 75g salted butter, 1 tbsp caster sugar and grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Serve butter immediately with hot or warm scones.

Happy Baking
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I'm sure that many enthusiastic bakers would have known or baked this highly reviewed Flour Bakery bread recipe from the book, Flour by Joanne Chang or here or here. Have you?

Gosh! I have bookmarked this recipe for such a looooooooooong time!!!

Until recently, my son asked me to bake banana bread for him and I'm like... I HAVE to bake this well-liked Flour Bakery Banana Bread!!!

Here is my version of Flour Bakery Banana Bread with very minor modifications... Very banana-y! Very moist! Very NICE!!! Now... I know why it is so well-liked!!!

Like the Famous Flour Bakery Banana Bread

I can't say that my banana bread is exact replica of the famous Flour Bakery banana bread because...

1) Instead of caster sugar, we prefer to bake our banana bread with dark brown sugar for its extra robust and rustic flavour.

2) I have reduced the amount of added sugar from 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (225g) to 3/4 cup (140g). With 85g LESS sugar, I must say that the sweetness is still good enough for us!

3) Due to the nut-free school holiday program that my son is attending, I prefer to make ALL our lunchbox food totally nut-free and so I didn't add any walnuts into this banana bread.

4) Less sugar and no nuts? Instead of baking this bread in a 9 x 5 inches loaf pan, I have to bake this bread in a slightly smaller 8 x 4 inches (20 x 10 cm) pan.

Why didn't I follow this recipe to the tee?

Prior baking, I saw many positive reviews at here saying that the base of this very moist and banana-y banana bread recipe is versatile and can be modified by baking the bread into muffins with reduced baking time or substitute the walnuts with chocolate chips. Some say that they can substitute creme fraiche or sour cream with Greek yogurt. Some say that they like the bread with less added sugar but some say that it is not sweet enough. Hmmm...

Nevertheless, this is how I want my wannabe-Flour Bakery banana bread to be...

This is my version of the Flour Bakery banana bread...
Nut-free. Made with dark brown sugar plus lots of love :)
I would rate this recipe 5 out of 5 too!
Very moist and banana-y! Excellent!!!

Here's a video showing how I baked this very banana-loaded banana bread.

Like Flour Bakery Banana Bread - YouTube
Thanks Bensound for the music in my video.

Like my family-friendly recipes? To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the recipe that I have adapted from Epicurious and the book, Flour by Joanne Chang or here or here.

Makes one 8 x 4 inches or 20 x 10 cm loaf*
2 large eggs
140g (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar*
120g (1/2 cup) neutral tasting vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas, very ripe and about 3-4
2 tbsp sour cream or creme fraiche or Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
250g (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose / plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda*
1/2 tsp baking powder*
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped* optional because we prefer our banana bread to have no nuts.

extra oil or vegetable spray to grease loaf pan
extra flour to dust the greased loaf pan.

*The original Flour banana bread contains 1 cup plus 2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, no baking powder and walnuts and bakes in one 9 x 5 inches loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F.

Grease loaf pan, then dust with flour and knock out any excess.

Using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat eggs at the lowest speed for about 1-2 mins. Then, increase speed to medium and beat for about 1-2 mins until frothy. While beating, add dark brown sugar gradually to minimise the amount of clumps forming in the mixture. Increase beating speed to medium-high speed and beat until the mixture is very thick and pale and forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, about 10 mins.

Reduce beating speed to low. While beating, add oil gradually in a slow stream.

Continue beating at low speed. While beating, add bananas, sour cream and vanilla gradually, tablespoonful by tablespoonful. Stop beating when all are well incorporated. Do not over-beat.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into the egg mixture. Add walnuts (optional) if desired and use a spatula to fold the flour mixture and walnuts (optional) into the egg mixture until all are just combined. Do not mix too vigorously and do not over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 60 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the top crust of the bread turns golden brown too quickly after baking for about 40 mins, cover the bread loosely with a piece of foil and continue to bake until the bread is thoroughly baked.

Allow the bread to cool slightly in the pan for about 10 mins. Then, remove from the loaf pan and transfer onto a wire rack to cool further to warm or completely. Slice and serve while it is slightly warm or at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in a freezer for up to 1 month.

Happy Baking
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Why will I die for these plain and simple looking sticky date puddings?

Simply because it is so insanely irresistibly yummy!!! Perhaps you might do the same if you have tasted this pudding. Will you?

My first mouthful of these sticky gooey sweet moist spongy pudding with a thin rim of brown sugar crusted edges has spontaneously sent a message to my brain saying that I WANT MORE!!! After I had my fulfilling serve of the pudding, I felt good being satisfied and happy. What happens when a decadent pudding is not too much, too sweet and too rich, you get one happy customer!!! LOL!

To all sticky date puddings lovers like you and me, all sticky date puddings seem to be the same being fully loaded with sugar, butter and cream like these ones that are made by these popular recipes at here, here, here, here and more. So that the puddings are sticky and gooey enough to be yummy? Well, think again! It's true that we need sugar, butter and cream to create appetizing sticky date puddings but we don't have to over-load the puddings with excessive sugar, butter and cream!

With this concept in my mind, I have managed to bake these sticky date puddings with moderate amount of sugar, butter and cream in good portion sizes and yet, they are still good enough to die for...

Hey, do you want to bake these puddings?

The Sticky Date Pudding to die for

This is a fantastic dessert recipe to bake for a family of 3-4. Although this pudding is not baked in one large baking dish, every part of it is amazingly moist and spongy. How? Instead of serving the pudding with the sticky sauce, part of the sauce is actually added onto the top of the freshly baked pudding. Then, the sauce-loaded puddings are baked again with top grilling for a short 5 mins resulting part of the sticky sauce to be absorbed into the puddings making the puddings EXTRA moist and sticky with a thin rim of brown sugar crusted edges. You have to believe me... Gosh! These freshly double-baked puddings taste so stickily heavenly!!!

To serve, we can either have these puddings on their own or with extra sauce. For me, I like my pudding without no extra sauce as I reckon that its sweetness is perfectly sweet for me!

Are sticky date puddings sweet? YES YES YES of course! However, these puddings contain significantly less sugar, butter and cream than those that are made with many popular recipes at here, here, here, here and more and I don't think that we should reduce the added sugar, butter and cream any further. You know... We don't want sticky date puddings that are not sweet at all!!! Otherwise, the puddings won't be the ones that we will die for... LOL! If you think that these sugar-and-cream reduced puddings are still too sweet and rich for you, it is kind of clear that you are not a sticky date puddings lover. Agree?

Freshly baked pudding from the oven... yum yum!!!
This is so insanely irresistibly stickily yummy!!!
Can't talk! Must eat! :p

Happy after enjoying these puddings? Yes, I am. If you are convinced that you "might die for" these puddings and want to bake these, you will be happy to know that these puddings are actually very easy to bake and here's a quick video showing how I baked these puddings.

The Sticky Date Pudding to Die For - YouTube

Notice something? This pudding base is not like most typical sticky date puddings (like those that are made the popular recipes that I have mentioned earlier). It is actually made with NO egg and yet it is so moist and fluffy!!! Amazing, huh? This recipe is a keeper!!! You think?

Like my tummy-warming family-friendly recipes? I promise that I will share more... To get the latest updates, you can follow me at either my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids

Here's the recipe that is adapted from the book, 100 Desserts to Die For by Trish Deseine

Makes 4 serves, each ramekin with 280ml capacity

For the pudding:
100g soft fresh dates (not dried), preferably Medjool, seeds removed
30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
40g (3 tbsp) demerara sugar or any coarse sugar
40g (3 tbsp) dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
87g (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp) self raising flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the sauce:
3/4 cup (180 ml) cream with 35% fat
45g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
60g (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
This amount is enough to top four serves of puddings and has a remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) to serve.
If desired, you can double this amount to make more sauce to serve.
Or, you can use two-third of this amount to make just enough sauce to top if you prefer not to have any remaining sauce to serve.

extra butter or vegetable oil spray to grease

For the puddings:
Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Grease ramekins with butter or vegetable oil spray .

Bring 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp (140 ml) water to boil. Soak dates in the hot boiling water and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Using a hand blender or a small food processor, briefly process the soaked dates including the water until all are well chopped into tiny pieces. Add butter, both sugars and vanilla into the date mixture and briefly process until combined. Transfer date mixture into a mixing bowl. Sift in flour, baking soda and salt and use a spoon or spatula to mix until all are well incorporated.

Divide batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 20 mins or until the skewer inserted comes our clean. While the puddings are baking, make the sauce.

For the sauce:
Combine cream, butter and sugar in a small saucepan and bring mixture to boil. Remove from heat.

After removing the puddings from the oven, change the oven to 200°C / 400°F with top grill setting.

Spoon 2 tbsp (30ml) sauce into each ramkein and grill the puddings until their top starts to bubble.

Serve while the puddings are warm with the remaining sauce. Enjoy!!!

Happy Baking
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