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Quick and Easy Coffee Cake – No mixer needed!

Quick and Easy Coffee Cake – No mixer needed!

If you’re looking for a hassle free cake to whip up in no time at all that will have you in and out of the kitchen in a snap, while satisfying your sweet tooth, you’ve landed on the right page. For many of us out 

Quick and Easy Spatchcock Chicken

Quick and Easy Spatchcock Chicken

If you are looking for a quick and easy chicken recipe for a mid-week dinner or perhaps for Father’s Day, then you’ve come to the right page. Chicken is something that could become very boring to eat and I try to find ways to make 

Easy Zucchini Cake With Crumble Topping – No Mixer Needed!

Easy Zucchini Cake With Crumble Topping – No Mixer Needed!

There’s something so satisfying about pulling together a quick dish that doesn’t require too much fuss or effort. Inasmuch as I love my KitchenAid mixer, sometimes, I just prefer a recipe that allows me to give it a (much needed) rest. This easy zucchini cake not only allows me to go mixer-free, but it whips up nice and fast with little fuss.

With us spending more and more time at home, the tendency to snack becomes inevitable, but with a cake like this that has in good for your zucchini, I don’t feel too terrible when the kids go in for seconds.

Here’s what you’ll need for the cake itself:

And here’s how I made this quick and easy pan of deliciousness:

Zucchini Cake With Crumble Topping

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: All
Servings: 12 people

Equipment

  • Bowls (large and medium sized)
  • Pastry blender (optional)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Grater
  • 8×8 baking tin
  • spatula

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp each of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice powder
  • ½ cup butter unsalted, cold
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cup zucchini shredded

For the crumble:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour all purpose
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp butter unsalted, melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the tin.
  • Sift together the flour, salt, spices, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl.
  • Using the pastry blender (or your hands – but working quickly), rub the butter into the flour mixture. It should resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Add the eggs and stir to combine.
  • Add the sugars and mix well. Now here's where you have to trust me on this one. At this point, the mixture will look a little clumpy and you may wonder how this will form a light and lovely crumb. Trust the process!
  • Add the gratered zucchini. Mix well. The moisture from the zucchini will soak into the thick batter and relax everything together to give a smooth consistency to the batter.
  • Spread the batter in an even layer in the greased and floured tin.
  • Prepare the crumble by mixing the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and melted butter in a small bowl. Break up the mixture into small pieces.
  • Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely. Slice and enjoy!

Here’s an unclose of a slice of this zucchini goodness:

Let me know if you made this and how it went. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did!

Until next time, happy baking!

Hummus!

Hummus!

Hummus can quite likely be considered one of the perfect snacks out there. It’s delicious, it’s filling and it’s considered healthy being packed full with all that protein and fibre. Eat it with some carrots, sourdough-discard crackers or with a spoon and you’ll have… well, 

Easy Zucchini Couscous Salad

Easy Zucchini Couscous Salad

I don’t know what the weather is like right now where you live, but for the past few weeks it here it has been blistering hot and I just did not want to spend any more time in the kitchen cooking than I had to. 

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Bread

Disclaimer – As of the writing of this post, I am very new to making sourdough bread – these are my suggestions for newbies who have been having difficulties with their starter/ bread.

I am utterly late to this party, but boy am I glad to be here. I blame it on Instagram and the lockdown. My feed was inundated with pics of baked goods and among them was a common refrain – look at my sourdough bread!

If you’ve landed on my page, I’m guessing you have some idea already about sourdough bread and are just looking for some tips to get your bread going that you may not have found anywhere else so far.

I had always been familiar with the “concept” of sourdough bread, having eaten it some years ago on one of my vacations abroad. I even have a memory of getting some starter from someone way back in secondary school that never made it into anything besides the garbage. My mother thought it was “nasty” and so, it was dumped.

Fast forward several years later and to say my interest has been piqued is an understatement. The concept of making bread without packaged yeast, from some runny bubbly goo seemed unreal and yet, so many bakers were doing it and seemingly without much effort.

So, naturally, I plunged in. I did my google and YouTube research and felt that I had everything I needed to get going. Boy was I wrong, and made wrong a few times more.

This was not as easy as everyone was making it out to be!

I confess that I abandoned all hope a few times, believing that it was somehow beyond me. That only lasted a week or so, and then I was back at it – I’m glad I persevered! Here were my challenges:

THE STARTER

If your problem is that the starter is bubbling but not rising, read below.

Starter bubbling but not rising

Goodness. all you have to do is google how to make sourdough starter and the differing schools of thought that you will come across will make your head spin. I do acknowledge that by making this post, I am also adding to the never-ending glut of information on how to make starter/ sourdough bread. It is my hope that my tips actually work for you and get you well on your way to some delicious bread.

I began with, as recommended by one of the many experts out there, 50g whole wheat flour and 50 g water (I used regular pipe water). I live in a tropical region and my starter loved it! It was off to a rapid, beautiful start. I was a bit naïve when I first started, and felt super confident when my starter bubbled and doubled. But I was soon humbled when on day number two of feeding (you have to feed your starter for seven days minimum), all I got was soup. The ratio I was using that I found during my research was half cup of starter, half cup of whole wheat flour and half cup of water. I mixed well and put in a warm place to rise.

Day 3 – NADA. Just a few bubbles but no rising.

Fed each day up to Day 7, and still no rising.

Switched to a formula that said there should be a 1:1:1 ratio between the starter/ flours/ water (50g starter/ 50 g flour/ 50 g water). And guess what. Still no rising when I started over and fed on Days 3 to 7.

I decided to switch it up once more. Someone said, it should be 2 tablespoons starter (25grams) to 100 grams flour and 100 grams water (1:4:4 ratio). Andddddd, you guessed it – still no rising! Just bubbles and more bubbles. I was getting frustrated.

One of the many videos I subsequently watched said to give it a day and see what would happen, don’t over feed. So I left it for another day without feeding and wouldn’t you know it, I got hooch forming in the starter.

So, on to more conflicting information. Some people said stir in the hooch, others said to throw it off and yet some more said you shouldn’t let the starter get to that point in the first place.

Needless to say, I tried many iterations of keeping the hooch, throwing it off, feeding more often, less often… whew! I used organic unbleached flour, bread flour, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and rye flour. And you guess it, still only had bubbles and no rise. And most everyone was in agreement that the starter had to be more than a week old and had a consistent rise and fall after feeding (even though someone said that you shouldn’t let the starter drop, that you should feed it just before it falls – ummm, how???) in order to make bread.

I was determined though and finally seemed to enter the right words into google to get some help for my problem “starter has bubbles but not rising.” A few posts that I’d already harvested for information came up, but it was an obscure one that I clicked on that made my sourdough starter woes disappear. Someone else was experiencing my same issue and this wise person said that the hydration needed to be reduced, i.e. reduce the amount of water to 80% of what was going in presently and see if that works.

And boy did it work!

Finally rising!

Here’s the formula that worked for me – from Day 2 onwards, it should be:

– 25 grams starter (see Day 1 above)
– 50 grams whole wheat flour plus 50 grams bread flour (total 100 grams)
– 80 grams water
– Jar put into oven with light on and jar covered completely
– When discarding, don’t stir the starter, just scoop the 25 grams from the top to feed

During my seemingly endless perusal of the internet for help, it was mentioned that you could put your starter in the oven with the light on, loosely covered and that would help things along. Oh, a quick diversion – on the matter of covered versus keeping the lid ajar or loosely covered, I found that closing the jar completely worked for me. The yeast is apparently also within the flour itself rather that simply floating in the air etc, so for me, covering didn’t stifle the starter one bit.

Right, so, I put the starter in the oven, covered with the light on, and within a few hours my starter had risen. I was so excited to see it rise! It was indeed a lovely thing to see after weeks of frustration.

Now, on to THE BREAD.

So happy with my first proper loaf of sourdough!

If your problem is that your bread won’t rise, dough spreads and won’t hold its shape, read below.

When are you supposed to be able to use your starter? I’d say, follow the generally accepted rule of making bread maybe two weeks after Day 7. You can put the starter in the fridge on Day 7, but to use it to make bread, I suggest making a levain (using a small amount of the fridge starter to feed and grow and use all of that in the bread, while putting the original back in the fridge) and make sure that it rises and falls consistently after feeding to make sure it will be active in the bread.

I also encountered a baking fail before I was able to make these delicious loaves you see here, where my bread barely rose and didn’t hold it’s shape. I followed a very popular recipe on YouTube and wound up tossing it.

Here’s what worked for me:

– Making sure that the flour isn’t over-hydrated. It’s easier to add water than to toss in more flour
– Let the bread soak up the water first, rest then add the starter
– Make sure you do the window pane test!
Follow FoodGeek’s recipe (video and blog post)

I’m not an expert sourdough baker, so I won’t go into all of the other details that you’ve probably encountered by now, but my aim was to shed some light on a problem that I had difficulty finding the answer to. I hope this helps because once your starter is off and running, you are halfway there to getting a delicious sourdough loaf on your table in short order.

Here are my results:

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh baked goodness

Happy baking!

Quick and Easy Kale Chips

Quick and Easy Kale Chips

Are you anything like me? You go to the supermarket and buy a whole bunch of healthy greens with the intention of making some sort of green shake or a delicious salad and when you get home… well when you get home, you toss the 

Light and Sweet Bread

Light and Sweet Bread

In my home, we are all bread lovers. Some more than others, but we all enjoy a nice slice of bread with cheese or jam as a quick snack. Couple that with the fact that I love to bake bread, and you’d imagine, quite correctly, 

Toum

Toum

I think the first time I stumbled upon this spread was on instagram. I was scrolling through many a recipe and saw a lady making something called toum. The name alone captured my attention and for the ten minutes following my “discovery”, I sat rapt as she effortlessly transformed garlic, water, lemon juice and oil into this magical, fluffy, delicious looking thing that I simply had to try.

And try it I did. It didn’t look too hard and I had all of the necessary ingredients to boot! And so I set to work. I did some more research and found out the nitty gritty details like how the garlic should look and what kind of oil I should use, etc etc.

So, doubly armed with knowledge and ingredients, I set to work. And might I say, it was three of the most frustrating experiences in my “culinary” life. I’ve made many a recipe with difficulty level labeled as “Advanced” and got through just fine. So why wasn’t this working for me?

I clearly had forgotten that many of these people who make things look super easy have what I call “old hands” that is, they have been making that particular recipe for years and years and it was silly of me to think that I could just come along and do it in one go.

Well, it took me four go’s to get it to what I think is right. And if you are like me and tried and tried and tried to get your toum to come out right and failed each time, I have some tips and an excellent recipe that will get you well on your way – like me! – to being a toum maker with “old hands”.

This is what it should look like

ATTEMPT NO. 1 – semi successful:

Oil used – avocado

Save by an egg white

Followed the lady’s recipe that called for one cup of garlic topped with water, four cups of oil and a splash of lemon juice at the end. I followed this recipe to a T and nearly cried, when after slowly pouring in four cups of avocado oil, it dawned on me that this liquidy mess was NOT going to come together no matter how fast I made the food processor go. Luckily, I found a site that said to mix 1/4 cup of the broken toum with one egg white and slowly drizzle back into the mix. I did that and BEHOLD! It came together, but I couldn’t help but notice that it didn’t quite look like the pics on the blogger’s site. It was really, REALLY delicious, but I felt that I’d done it wrong because I needed the egg white save.

ATTEMPT NO. 2 – didn’t remotely come together

Oil used – grapeseed

Nothing could save it – not even a trusty egg white

So after the relative success of the first attempt, I tried it again because, as it was so delicious, even in its imperfect state, that I had to try again. I repeated the recipe and this time, I could tell that it was headed for a failure early on, but I’m no quitter, dang it, and I pressed on, even revving the processor up to the higher speed. Quick (rhetorical) question, is it possible to turn oil into water? Because I’m not kidding you, by the time I was done, the liquid resembled GREEN WATER. No one would have ever guessed I’d spent half hour of my life slowly pouring oil into garlic mash only to get that result.

ATTEMPT NO. 3 – failed even more spectacularly this time around

Oil used – grapeseed

Nothing could save it – not even an ice cube

Would you believe I tried this same recipe one more time? The exact same one. What is it they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? In my defense, hers seemed to come together without a problem! It had to be me. After all, she knew more about the recipe and had more experience making it that me. I figured I’d probably poured the oil too quickly and maybe didn’t add enough lemon juice. Since the egg white trick didn’t save it the last time, I did some more research and read that plopping an ice cube in the mess could save it. Maybe under different circumstances, but this was irredeemable.

I’ll skip the details on the part where I marched the soupy, green mess out my back door and doused some unsuspecting plants with it.

ATTEMPT No. 4 – I can’t believe it – FOURTH TIME’S A CHARM

Oil used – canola

No egg whites or ice needed.

This time, I went with a different recipe. As much as I love perusing this blogger’s gorgeous pages of recipes, I firmly believe that maybe, just maybe she’d left out a few steps and maybe didn’t include every single thing she’d done.

This recipe, that I’ll link below, called for only 3 cups of oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water. But what neither this recipe nor the one I kept failing at mentioned, was this little tidbit that I found while scrolling through the reviews… the garlic must absolutely be pulverised from the get go.

The first recipe called for mixing the water and garlic together and blending it first. The second recipe only wanted the garlic and some salt blended together. My food processor couldn’t get it to a nice paste with just the garlic and the salt, so I put them in my nutribullet and pulverised them before adding back to the food processor.

Next, this second recipe called for alternating 1/2 cup of the oil, slowly drizzled with one tablespoon of the lemon juice. Now, quick note on the oil drizzling. If you think you are going slowly, you’re not. Go even slower. Trust me. And I found that pouring the oil in through the little hole at the top meant for this purpose didn’t quite do the best job, so I poured it in slooooooooooowly through the opening where you feed in your veggies. When all of the lemon juice is used up, switch to alternating with ice cold water until the oil is used up.

Tip – if it doesn’t start fluffing up during the first 1/2 cup to 1 cup of oil being added, then it probably will split. I didn’t need to use the egg white fail safe this time around, but this second recipe calls for using it if it doesn’t quite come together.

When it was all said and done, I had a fluffy sauce with a mayonnaise type consistency and it tastes amazing!.

toum up close
My toum!

If you want a successful toum, and are inexperienced at making it, avoid my pitfalls by following this recipe by serious eats and my tips to have it turn out perfectly!

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear about it!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

I think it was back in the nineties when I first was introduced to tiramisu while on my lunch break in a tiny Italian restaurant on the South Coast. I’d never heard about it and after being told what it was made up of, I