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once upon a norza

i am norza and this is my blog

Should I...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

...move my blogs to wordpress? Not that anyone cared but is wordpress better than blogger?

[Ok, after doing a bit of googling...I'm staying on blogger.]

Donna Hay's Chocolate Cupcakes

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Only Aisyah and I love cupcakes in the house so I don't bake cupcakes that much. ANd if I do, it's always something chocolatey, our fav! I also don't decorate them with buttercream because I'm just lazy. But a cupcake is not a cupcake if it's not decorated, me thinks. But it’s just so much hassle with all that icing, decorating and so on.

I made my first batch of choc cupcake a couple of months back and I don't quite like them. But thanks to @sugarspunsista, I found out that Donna Hay's Double Chocolate Cupcake is awesome lah! And it's so good that it tastes nice even without any frosting. haha.

Donna Hay's Double Chocolate Cupcake
from Evan's Kitchen Ramblings

ingredients (makes 12) :
125g salted butter, softened
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1.5 tsp double-acting baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, melted

for the chocolate buttercream frosting :
250g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup milk

directions :
1. in a bowl, sift together plain flour, cocoa powder & baking powder.

2. in another bowl, whisk together butter, sugar & vanilla extract for about 10-12 mins until pale and creamy. add in eggs one at a time and beat until well combined.

3. add in milk and flour mixture alternately in 3 additions, mixing well in between each addition.

4. fold in melted chocolate thoroughly.

5. fill cake mixture in cupcake liners until about 2/3 full. bake in a preheated oven of 160C for 20 mins or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. leave to cool on wire rack.

6. to make the chocolate buttercream frosting, whisk the butter in bowl for about 6-8 mins until pale and creamy.

7. add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and milk and whisk for another 6 mins until fluffy and creamy. pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

The mini birthday celebration

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aisyah had a mini birthday celebration at school yesterday. It was her first time and she was really excited because she had been talking about it ever since she knew about the celebration. I'm amazed she didn't show her excitement when everybody sang her the birthday song. hehee.

We got goodybags filled with Lyra Rainbow Super Ferby Pencils (I love Lyra pencils!) and fat Staedler pencils for her classmates. We also included a couple of mini choc bars. Seriously we don't know what to buy for the kids. It seems that each month, Aisyah will come home with a bag full of colorful 'treasures'. And within minutes after telling me who gave the goodybag in class, the novelty wears off and the discarded goodies eventually end up in the trash. Recently a classmate gave out a book on his birthday and Aisyah enjoyed it very much. Such a great gift! We will probably get books for her goodybag next year.

I baked lil brownie bites for their snacktime. I wanted to try cupcakes but well, you can just pop the lil brownie bites into your mouth and that's it. Easier for makcik to clean up the mess also after the party...heh.

It was also my first time baking for non-family members and I was really really nervous. Although it's just a simple recipe, I'm just soooooo afraid that Murphy might make the baking process difficult. The end-result wasn't spectacular but I didn't expect much either. As long as the hubby and Aisyah gave their thumbs-up, I'm ok. I will definitely work on the aesthetics if given the chance again.

Cinnamon sugar rolls

Monday, October 11, 2010

Long long time ago, I told myself that if I ever do start baking, I will avoid doing anything that has yeast in it. But Aisyah wanted to eat pretzels after watching an episode of Blues Clues one day and I immediately searched for the easiest-looking recipe on allrecipes and found the Buttery Soft Pretzels recipe. I followed everything and knead the dough like crazy. I leapt with joy when the dough rise twice its original size 2hrs later. The end result was satisfying although a batch was overbaked and I had to throw that batch away.

After reading other bakers' reviews on the recipes, I made some adjustments but the dough didnt rise at all on my 2nd try. I suspected that the water was too warm and it killed my yeast. I tried again on the 3rd try and here it is. The best out of all three.

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels (Adapted from The Little Teochew)

- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 cups regular flour
- 1 1/8 teaspoon salt

- A tray of cinnamon sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted

For boiling the pretzels (I skipped this)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda

1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.

2. Add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise for 40-60 minutes at least.

3. Shaping the dough: Divide the dough into parts and roll it out. Make sure to keep both the ends thinner than the rest of it since the ends will be tied together and become thicker eventually. Also, make sure that you roll them out thin, not more than 1/2 inch in diameter, because they will swell up twice - once after the water bath and then when they are baking.

4. Next, boil the two water and add the baking soda. Reduce heat till you get a gentle simmer. Drop the pretzels in the water bath and let them stay in for about 5 seconds. After the pretzels are removed, make sure you dry the excess liquid on a kitchen towel before placing on the baking sheet/silpat/baking stone.

5. Place the pretzels on a baking sheet and brush with a lightly eaten egg. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degree celsius for ten minutes or until golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle the sugar cinnamon all over it.

The recipe sounds easy but kneading the dough is torturous to my prata arms. lol! Seriously I don't know when to stop kneading the dough.

“How do you know when you’ve put in enough flour?” and “How/how long do I knead?”

I’ve seen the same recipes you’ve seen. Ones that say “5 to 6 cups of flour.” How frustrating is that, not to know exactly how much of an ingredient we’re supposed to put in something?! It kind of makes you get a little hot and sweaty as you slowly keep adding flour, hoping that the dough will eventually look “right.” The sweating continues as you frantically knead, eyes on the timer. When it goes off, you still wonder, “Have I done enough? How do I know if I have done enough?” Let’s look at these techniques one at a time.

Mixing the Dough

First, almost any bread recipe will give you a range for the amount of flour called for. This is because, on any given day and depending on the protein content of your particular flour, it will accept more or less water depending upon the humidity and temperature in the air and the humidity and temperature of your flour.

If making a standard, four ingredient bread in a stand mixer, a good rule of thumb is to add the last few ounces of flour a bit at a time, stopping when the dough doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl when kneading. If you’re making the dough by hand, knead in the last few ounces a bit at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Even that is a vague instruction: add flour until the dough is soft and smooth, not wet and sticky, but not completely dry, either. (See why I say that this takes practice)?!

To get a better feel for this, make your dough with a stand mixer, and then take it out of the mixer bowl when it clears the sides and bottom. Now you can examine it for feel and texture before you knead.

Here’s another rule for you: never add more than the maximum flour called for in the range. If you have to err, err on the side of too little flour rather than too much flour—a bit too little flour will give you a very good rise; too much flour will yield a dense loaf.

Now, on to kneading.

First, here’s a quick definition: kneading is the process by which you align and elongate gluten strands to develop them to the point that it can hold the gasses that the yeast give off. This makes your bread rise and then set in the oven. The more well-developed your gluten “web,” the more gasses your bread will hold, the higher it will rise and the more open and airy its texture.

Kneading also helps to evenly distribute the yeast and the gasses it creates throughout your dough. This will result in a more even crumb in your finished loaf. Everything you try so hard to avoid doing to pie dough, you try to do when making bread.
from How to make Homemade Bread at Home

The recipe said that once my dough is soft as a baby's bum, I can stop. I added a bit of cooking oil and flour in between the kneadings. I kneaded for almost an hour and it's still gooey. By then I got frustrated and almost wanted to give up. I told myself to just let it rise and if it doesn't, I shall not attempt to make pretzels anymore.

Somehow the yeast worked its magic and the dough doubled in a couple of hours time. I didn't make any pretzel shapes so I just coiled it round and round making rolls instead. It was already dinnertime for the girls and I actually wanted to surprise the husband and I simply had no time already. And off they went into the oven with a Bismillah and the rolls came out better than I expected. Everyone enjoyed the rolls and I was glad that my efforts paid off. phew! I will definitely try this again because I have a few sachets of yeast expiring next month!

A relationship

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I have been away for quite some time from the wedding photography scene. Of course I miss the rush in a wedding but the girls (especially Sarah) need me more now. I hope to make a comeback next year...insyaAllah. Or maybe venture into something new like baking or even both. We'll see.

Business is like a relationship. To be successful, you have to like what you are doing and work at it. The major problem you will face is being able to know the difference between what you like to do and what you are good at.
from Ken Lim in Entrepreneur's Blueprint

It's just me and the girls for now. :)

Baking fun

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My mixer which was given by my mum got wonky last week and I had to resort to manual mixing for baking. Of course, like most people who are into baking, I dream of having a KitchenAid one day but I don't make money of my hobby so any mixer is fine with me. :D There are a lot of recipes out there which require no mixer. Just pull out your favorite mixing bowl and your wooden spoon and have at it! Besides, kids can help their mumies out in the kitchen too and have some fun.

Aisyah and I did lil brownie bites last weekend. Preparation is key with the ingredients all laid out so once Sarah takes a nap, we started our activity. Aisyah helped me with the mixing till she complained of tired arms. lol! After the brownie pieces were baked, she decorated them by putting some colourful sprinkles and chopped almonds on top of the ganache. That's definitely her favourite part of baking! The pretty brownie bites were ready by the time Sarah woke up. Now I can't wait for Sarah to grow up a bit and have her join in the fun.

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