Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Banana Tea Bread

Easy to make and satisfying to taste, these tea breads will fill the house with the aroma of baking. Time it to the arrival of your guests when you entertain!

 First attempt - dry and crumbly and bit too dense. 

 Much better when I split the batter into 2 loaf tins. Now it's soft and moist and looks like the one from SwissBake. The aroma fills the whole house!

  • 3 very ripe medium size bananas peeled
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup or 125g butter or margarine softened (get one stick of butter from the stores and you don't have to measure)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts optional (dry-fried almond flakes yum!)
  • 1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen blueberries optional (another yum!)

  • Position oven rack on middle rung. Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly spray the bottom of one 9x5 inch or two 8x4 inch loaf pan with non stick spray. 
  • In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a masher until well mashed. 
  • In a large bowl, sitr the sugar and butter with a whisk or wooden spoon until well mixed. 
  • Stir in the eggs until mixture is well blended. Add mashed bananas, milk, vanilla and mix with a spoon until smooth and well blended. 
  • Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened and combined. 
  • Stir in the nuts or blueberries (or both!). 
  • Spread the batter into the large loaf pan or divide evenly between the 2 smaller pans smoothing out the top of the batter. 
  • Bake the small pans for about an hour and the large pan about 1 hr 15. Do toothpick test. You're done if toothpick or satay stick comes out clean. (I read somewhere the best test is using an uncooked spaghetti stick. If it breaks, the bread is not ready. I haven't tried this though and would be interested to hear from anyone who has.)
  • Remove from oven and cool for 10 min on wire rack. Loosen the sides of bread from the pan with a butter knife or metal spatula. Carefully tip the bread out and place top side up on the rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly and store at room temp for up to 4 days and in fridge for up to 10. 
  • Tell me about it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Puffy Muffins

I had never baked a muffin until now. I always thought this is best left to the professional bakers but I was wrong. ANYBODY can bake a good muffin, even a kitchen noob like me. Don't need to sign up for expensive cooking classes. All you need is YOUTUBE and a willingness to learn. This is true education - not the way Food&Nutrition is taught and tested in schools where kids end up hating to cook.
My first attempt at baking anything. The victory here is in DOING IT!
My learning continues in a shopping mall. 
Stop and smell fresh muffins out of an oven. 



  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 280ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 75g melted butter
  • 100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 140g blueberries or just one pummet/pack
(Everything is available in the supermarket)
  • Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place flour, baking powder and sugar in mixing bowl. 
  • Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter together. Add to mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Don't overmix.
  • Add 3/4 of the nuts and blueberries and fold into the muffin mix. Divide between the muffin cases. 
  • Sprinkle over the remaining nuts and bake for about 20 min until risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. 
  • Tell me about it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Awakening

I had never baked nor cooked in my life. The past two decades were spent putting my education to good use - understanding my strengths, matching them to interesting roles, delivering with passion and laughter, and picking up some decent money and diverse friendships along the way.

Like a circus monkey, I have been trained to be productive with my time and output and to never slumber nor slack. Every minute is precious as is every drop of water. In the name of efficiency, good time management was a skill much sought after. I understood people who could multitask and juggle their time in between various roles to be called "capable".

I attended workshops presented by people who got out of bed at 5am to swim 50 laps before they went back to make pancakes and bond with their children over breakfast. By 10am, they had cleared their 100 emails. Their speeches drew deep admiration from the audience, and instilled a strong resolve amongst young minds to grow up to be like one of them. I too saw that as a hallmark of success to aspire to. I owe it to my family, company, community and country to give off my best. "Be prepared to give a little more" - a National Day song rings in my head.

Society had implanted a whip in my head that would snap if I did not give of my best. It kept me on my toes and at the edge of my chair for decades and I had thought this was a good thing. Damn, I was grateful for it! Didn't it bring out the best in me so I could compete on a global level and assure myself, Hey, I'm there, top-notch material.

Like gluttony, words like "chill out", "pig out", "I just want to slack today" are sinful. If I spent more time "thinking" on the job than "doing", it could cost me a promotion or an increment. Do, do, do and when you're done, do some more. Don't try to day-dream - it will turn into a nightmare in a "high-performing" environment.

Well, I am going to jam the brakes at this point in my life and abandon all conventional wisdom that "Time is precious, so make full use of it." I AM GOING TO LEARN TO WASTE TIME. I have chosen to waste it in the kitchen. This blog captures my new learning journey.

Hello, I'm a noob in the kitchen, an Extra Virgin Chef. Pleased to meet you.