Purple Yam Bread 

I love to make bread ! Yes, it takes time and patience, but it’s totally worth it. The smell of fresh bread is just so satisfying ! It makes your home feels……more homey ?! …..Does this even make sense?? I used to make the dough in a mixer, but not anymore. Mixing it with hand is actually easier, and your dough will be more even. I was really pleased with how this bread turned out. It’s sweet, tasty and it’s in my favourite colour… purple ! 

Two years ago, when my daughter was in grade 2, her teacher invited a chef/educator to teach the kids about food and how to make bread from scratch. I was one of the volunteer parents and that class was so fun ! The kids were super cute and hilarious. Some of them, like my daughter, jumped right into the “mess” , others were not too sure, frowning and saying “eew ! ” and “that’s gross !” the whole time. But at the end, when they tasted their own bread, they were all very delighted !  I think teaching kids about food and cooking at a young age is very important. It helps them (and ourselves) develop skills and healthy eating habits which hopefully last a lifetime. I have to admit, I am not doing enough. There were times when I should have cooked, but ended up just ordering take-out or “cooking” some frozen food. Well, as I told my kids, I am always teaching them and learning with them at the same time……So, mommy needs to do some more homework and learn how to cook healthier and more delicious meals! 

Makes 4 mini loaves (dimensions of pan: 5.75 x 3.25 x 2.25 inches)

For the yam paste

  • 4 medium purple yam
  • 60 mL milk
  • 30 mL condensed milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wash and cut yams in halves
  3. Bake on a tray lined with parchment paper for about 45 minutes until fork tender
  4. Cool and peel skin off
  5. In a food processor or blender, blend yam, milk and condensed milk into a paste
  6. Keep in fridge until ready to use

For the bread dough

  • 540 g bread flour
  • 4 g instant yeast
  • 5 g granulated sugar
  • 250 mL milk
  • 60 mL honey
  • 1 egg
  • 30 mL vegetable oil
  • 3 g salt

You will also need 1 egg for brushing top of bread

  1. Dissolve sugar in warm milk, add yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes until frothy
  2. Put flour and salt in a big mixing bowl, gradually mix in 1 egg, yeast mixture, honey and oil with hands until dough starts to form
  3. Transfer to a floured surface, knead until smooth and stretchy
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 1-2 hours (You can speed up the process by putting it in a not-heated oven with a small pot of hot water on the lower rack. The moist and warm environment makes the dough rise quicker)
  5. Punch air out, cut dough into 4 equal pieces (about 250g each)
  6. Roll each dough flat, spread a layer of yam paste on top 
  7. Roll doughs up with yam paste inside 
  8. Seal openings by pinching edges together 
  9. Place each dough separately in lightly greased and floured mini loaf pans
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for another hour 
  11. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  12. Score top of doughs with knife or scissors 
  13. Brush top with egg wash
  14. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes until golden

Frozen Banana Pops

I love bake, cook or do crafts with my kids whenever they are free, especially my daughter. Spring break is here and it’s a perfect time to have some fun together.  I love to do them with my son too, but I think he has “outgrown” that stage…Well, he would still cook some noodles for himself as he loves them. These banana pops are super easy and they made a great healthy snack. It can get a little messy with the melted chocolate but that’s the best part mom, right ?!  Our favourite topping is the maple roasted pecans,  you can find the recipe here…..Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans

Makes about 12-16 pops

  • 300 g semi-sweet or dark chocolate 
  • 3-4 bananas (Do not use bananas that are too ripe, otherwise they will be too soft to work with)
  • Toppings of choice (sprinkles, roasted nuts, shredded coconut, etc) 
  1. Place toppings in separate dishes 
  2. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, cool slightly 
  3. Slice bananas into big chunks 
  4. With the help of a fork, coat banana chunks with melted chocolate, tap off excess 
  5. Roll in desired toppings 
  6. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper 
  7. Insert popcicle sticks 
  8. Freeze until frozen 

Checkerboard Cookies 

Making these checkerboard cookies may seem complicated, but once you made the dough, it’s pretty easy. It’s a fun recipe to get the kids involved. They can help measure and assemble. They can also make them in other patterns, like pinwheels or stripes. It’s like playing with clay or play dough, and they can learn about math and geometry at the same time !  (Another reason for me to bake more, yeah !) You can freeze the dough logs for up to 1 month, so you can have freshly baked cookies whenever you want ! 

Makes about 16 checkerboard cookies

For the vanilla dough

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150 cake and pastry flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate dough

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 140 g cake and pastry flour
  • 10 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

You will also need 1 egg white for assembling cookies

  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk and vanilla, mix until blended
  3. Add flour and salt (and cocoa powder for the chocolate dough) all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. Knead dough until pliable
  6. Roll out 2/3 of each dough to about 0.8-1 cm in thickness 
  7. Cut into 0.8-1 cm wide strips and assemble into checkerboard pattern, brush egg white between pieces to help sticking 
  8. Roll out remaining 1/3 of each dough to about 3 mm in thickness
  9. Brush with egg white and wrap sheets around checkerboard logs 
  10. Trim off excess dough.
  11. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours  
  12. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF 
  13. Cut cookies and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  14. Bake for 8-10 minutes 

Notes: The dough scraps can be re-rolled, but not more than twice or it may crack. You can also gather them together, roll into a log and make some marble cookies! 

Originally recipe by Chef Marco Ropke at the Vancouver Pastry Training Centre 

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

I wish Spring is here soon ! Our winter here in the west coast has been pretty cold and snowy. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain, the kids did have a lot of fun playing in the snow and compare to many other places in Canada, this is very mild. To welcome Spring and St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I should make something green. And of course matcha is the first thing that comes to mind. This recipe is what I call a 2-in-1. The mousse cake has two parts, but each of them can be a dessert on its own ! You can use the cake batter to make cupcakes or mini loaves.  And for the mousse, you can pour it into nice little bowls and refrigerate, which is exactly what I did with the leftover !

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse

For the mousse cake itself, I made one layer of each, but you can definitely stack them in multiple layers if you like. I also added some chopped dark chocolate on top but it’s optional, cause I believe everything (almost everything) tastes better with chocolate ! And hopefully this Spring dessert can bring some warm weather soon ! 

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

Makes one 6-inch cake

For the cake

  • 4 large eggs (separated)
  • 120 g granulated sugar (20 g for meringue)
  • 75 g cake and pastry flour
  • 5 g matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lightly grease an 8″ x 10″ x 1″ baking tray and line bottom with parchment paper
  3. Sift together flour and matcha powder, set aside
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks and 100 g of sugar until pale
  5. Add vanilla and the flour mixture, mix until blended
  6. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and lemon juice until frothy
  7. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 20 g of sugar
  8. Whisk until medium peak is formed
  9. Gently fold meringue into cake batter, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix
  10. Pour into baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes
  11. Let cool completely, then cut into a round disc to fit cake mould (I used a cake ring, so I just cut it with the ring)Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

For the mousse

  • 500 mL whipping cream (cold)
  • 250 mL milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g matcha powder
  • 10 g gelatin powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Chill the mixing bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over about 1/4 cup of milk and let sit for a few minutes to bloom
  3. Heat and stir remaining milk, sugar and matcha powder in a pot over medium heat until sugar melted and just starting to bubble
  4. Add gelatin mixture, stir until all dissolved
  5. Turn heat off, add vanilla 
  6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh and let cool to room temperature
  7. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment and the chilled mixing bowl, beat cold whipping cream until medium peak is formed
  8. Gently fold the whipped cream into milk mixture, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix

To assemble

  1. Place a lightly greased cake ring on a tray lined with parchment paper
  2. Place cake disc (smooth side down) at the bottom
  3. Pour mousse on top of cake and smooth top with a spatula 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours to set
  5. Sprinkle top with finely chopped dark chocolate (optional)

NotesIf you have trouble removing the ring, you can freeze the cake for about 1-2 hours, put a knife or an angled spatula in hot water, wipe dry, then run it around the cakeMatcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake


 

 

Coconut Cream Tarts

Coconut is such a versatile fruit.  You can pretty much make use of every parts of the fruit, even the husk can be used to make flowering pots or carpets !  Coconut milk and oil are extracted from its meat and are widely used in many cuisines.  I love coconut milk. It matches really well with many ingredients, sweet or savoury. This was originally a pastry cream recipe. I substituted some of the milk with coconut milk. The shredded coconut gave the tarts extra texture and the lime zest just brighten everything up.  Don’t throw away the leftover tart shell trimmings. They make great butter cookies. Just gather the trimmings to form a dough, roll it out to 1/8 inch in thickness, cut with cookie cutters and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F !  It’s nice when no food is wasted ! 

Makes about three 4 inch tarts 

For the tart shells

  • 120 g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 180 g cake and pastry flour, sifted
  1. Mix together cold butter and sugar using a wooden spoon until no more lumps
  2. Add egg yolk, mix until blended
  3. Add flour all at once, mix with the wooden spoon, then transfer onto a table or counter and gently knead dough together (just work until ingredients are mixed in)
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF
  6. Knead dough until pliable
  7. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness on a floured surface, dock with a fork
  8. Place inside slightly greased tart molds, trim off excess dough 
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes till golden, let coolBaked Tart Shells

For the coconut cream

  • 400 mL canned coconut milk 
  • 100 mL milk 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 g granulated sugar 
  • 40 g cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • Zest of 1/2 lime 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  1. Mix coconut milk and milk together until smooth 
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk mixture together until no more lumps
  3. Heat remaining milk in a pot over medium heat until just boiled
  4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
  5. Heat until just starting to bubble and thicken, whisking constantly
  6. Remove from heat, mix in shredded coconut, lime zest and vanilla extract, let cool
  7. Spoon coconut cream into baked tart shell, spread evenly with a spatula, dust with icing sugar 
  8. You can keep them in the fridge for 2-3 daysCoconut Cream Tarts

Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)

I guess by now everyone knows I love to bake.  Not only do I like to eat sweets, but I also get intrigued by how different ingredients work or not work together and the Science behind it. Yes, baking is an edible Science experiment ! And I have so much fun with these “Science projects” !  Vegan baking is even more interesting ! You don’t have your eggs to bind things together, you don’t have your dairy nor butter for nice creamy texture and rich flavours.  But there are actually many great alternatives and I realize I have a lot more to learn. This is the first time I bake with spelt flour. It can be used instead of whole wheat flour. It has a finer texture and a milder taste which I like.  For the roasted pecans, you won’t need the whole batch for the muffins, save the rest for a healthy snack !

Makes about 12 muffins

For the roasted pecans 

  • 100 g pecans
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Coat pecans with rest of ingredients 
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, stirring once in between Maple Roasted Pecans

For the muffins

  • 225 g spelt flour
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 60 g demerara or brown sugar 
  • 150 g unsweetened apple sauce 
  • 120 mL vegetable oil 
  • 60 mL unsweetened almond milk 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 200 g grated carrots 
  • 30 g maple roasted pecans, crushed 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon 
  3. Mix in sugar 
  4. Stir in other wet ingredients
  5. Stir in grated carrots 
  6. Spoon into lightly greased paper or silicone muffin cups (you can fill them up a little fuller, as they don’t rise as much)
  7. Sprinkle crushed maple pecans on top 
  8. Bake in muffin tins for 25-30 minutes Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)

Chocolate Souffle 

I think Valentine’s day is a perfect time to make chocolate souffle. It brings a sweet ending to your romantic dinner. I first learned it at a pastry course and it’s actually pretty easy. All souffles will rise in the oven and fall shortly after they are taken out. That doesn’t mean that you fail, it’s just the way they are. Some recipes have a higher ratio of egg whites, some add cornstarch and milk or cream. These methods may make the souffles higher and stay in shape a little longer. After trying a few recipes, I found this one, adapted from the book “How To Bake Everything” by Mark Bittman is the simplest. It uses equal parts of egg yolks and whites, so you won’t need to worry about what to do with the extra yolks and the souffles came out both rich and airy. Have a sweet Valentine’s Day!

Makes about 4-6 servings

  • Butter for greasing ramekins 
  • 80 g granulated sugar, plus more for coating
  • 90 g dark chocolate (70%), chopped 
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease ramekins with butter, then sprinkle sugar over to coat, tap off excess 
  3. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, let cool slightly 
  4. Whisk together egg yolks and 30 g of granulated sugar using an electric mixer until light yellow and mixture falls in a ribbon over surface 
  5. Mix in melted chocolate until combined 
  6. Clean and dry the whisk
  7. In another mixing bowl using the electric mixer, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until frothy
  8. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 50 g of granulated sugar
  9. Whisk until a stiff peak is formed
  10. Gently fold egg whites, in 3 batches, into egg yolk mixture
  11. Pour into ramekins and place on a rimmed baking tray 
  12. Put tray into oven, pour about one inch of hot water into baking tray
  13. Bake in hot water bath for about 20 minutes (Do not open oven door during baking)
  14. Dust with icing sugar, serve immediatelyChocolate Souffle

Tools and Books 

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KitchenAid K45SSWH Classic 4.5-Quart Bowl Stand Mixer, White

How to Bake Everything

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking

You can get these items through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase them.