Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hummingbird Bread Pudding with Cream Cheese Glaze

In Singapore, I grew up on a rice based diet with occasional soupy inflections of noodles (beehoon, ramen - the works!) So bread pudding was a completely foreign and off putting dessert to me. Mucky white bread in soup? Eh Meh. But enlightenment dawned when a friend suggested we try Nigella’s caramel croissant bread pudding and I’ve never looked back.

This recipe is loosely based off my ALL TIME FAVOURITE desserts show - Unique Sweets (Episode-Something Old, Something New). Donna Bell Bake Shop in NYC twisted a classic American cake into bread pudding. EVERYTHING SHOULD BE MADE INTO A BREAD PUDDING. This one has white chocolate, pineapples and bananas, slathered with a cream cheese glaze and toasted walnuts. A welcome tropical twist on a usually heavy dessert.  

I don't know about other parts of the world, but the cupcake trend is still alive and well in Singapore. Hopefully one day with the help of instagram / social media, a bread pudding craze will descend on our shores! ONE CAN DREAM.. 

Hummingbird Bread Pudding (Serves 6) 
Recipe Adapted from Donna Bell's Bakeshop

  • cup whole milk
  • 1  1 greased jumbo muffin tin
  • tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • bananas, 1 mashed, 1 cut into small bites
  • 225g (1 cup) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate
  • 4 stale croissants (torn into pieces)
  • Zest + juice of 1 lemon
For the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a jumbo muffin pan with flavourless oil. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Add the sugar, salt and spices. Mix in the smashed banana. Fold in the banana pieces, pineapple and white chocolate. Mix in the croissant pieces and let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring after 5 to 10 minutes. Pour mixture into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes. (45 minutes if using a serving dish)

Cream Cheese Pecan Sauce
·  60g cream cheese, softened
·  tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
·  tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
·  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
·  1/2 cup toasted crushed pecans, for sprinkling on top
·  Zest + juice of 1/2 lemon

Whip the cream cheese with a spoon, then slowly add in the sugar until smooth. Mix in the milk and vanilla. Let the bread pudding cool slightly, and then drizzle the cream cheese sauce over the warm cake. Top with the toasted pecans.

Baker's Notes
1. The recipe called for regular french bread, but I prefer croissants because they're slightly buttery-er. Stale bread is best because it soaks up more of the custard!
2. The addition of citrus to the custard and sauce gives the pudding a lighter, tangier take.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chocolate Pound Cakes with Cream Cheese Swirl

Muffins are not a new thing. But there’s such a mind boggling amount of recipes, methods and cookbooks out there to tempt one and try all the different combinations. So I did, with ASTOUNDING SUCCESS! If you’re the sort who likes doughey, bready bricks. Meh.

Last week I tried making cream cheese swirl chocolate muffins, using an oil based fat. Even though the muffins puffed like beautiful chocolate mushrooms (Heehee Kinoko No Yama anyone?), the texture was too dense, too gummy.

The failure HOUNDED me throughout the whole of this week, so I devoured my recipe books and finally adapted a pound cake swirl number from Flo Braker. This batter encorporates sour cream, butter and coffee, so expect fluffiness and a deep cocoa flavor. Homemade muffins also mean one has a free reign (HALLELUJAH!) on mix ins, so I tossed in Bailey’s soaked raisins and extra wallop of Bailey’s for that creamy, Irish kick. Voila! If I do say so myself tender, cake like muffins with a tangy cheesecake middle. 

Cheesecake Swirl
·      110g cream cheese, softened
·      1/8 cup (25g) GRANULATED SUGAR
·      1 small egg
CHOCOLATE-SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE (Makes 9 regular muffins)
·      3/8 CUP (90G) WARM COFFEE
·      1 cup + 1 tablespoon CAKE FLOUR
·      1/2 TEASPOON SALT
·      2 EGGS
Before baking: Soak raisins for in Bailey’s liquor for at least 1 hour. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees f (or 325 degrees f if the pan has a dark finish). For the cake batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and warm coffee until blended; set aside to cool.

To make the Cheesecake Swirl: In a medium bowl, beat the cheese with a rubber spatula just until the cheese is smooth and creamy. Or, use a handheld electric mixer on low, being careful not to whip in too much air. Beat in the sugar until well blended. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined and creamy.

To make the Chocolate-Sour Cream Pound Cake: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue to beat until light in color and texture, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, sour cream and Bailey’s to the cooled coffee and stir to combine. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the Bailey’s mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing after each addition until incorporated. Again, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally, gently stir in the soaked raisins.  

Spoon half of the batter into each muffin mould and spread it with the rubber spatula, working from the center outward to create a slightly raised ridge around the rim. Carefully spoon 2 tablespoons of cream cheese filling on top. Spoon the remaining batter over the filling and smooth the top.

Bake the cake until the center springs back when lightly touched and a round wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of cake, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Baker's Notes
1.You can't really taste the Bailey's but the addition makes has that unique sweet Irish caramel fragrance. 
2. Feel free to substitute raisins with chocolate chips or nuts, that's the fun of homemade muffins after all!