Monday 30 October 2017

Halloween Pumpkin Walnut Muffin 万圣节南瓜核桃麦芬

About one month before Halloween, the local Daiso stores have started selling a huge array of Halloween products. I couldn't resist and bought home a pack of 10 Halloween theme cupcake papers.  The cupcake papers have been sitting in my cupboard until today. It's Halloween already, where is my cupcakes!?

Browsed through the web and found this pumpkin muffin shared by the renowned "Cooking with dog".  I did a little modification by adding cocoa powder to part of the batter. Love the pumpkin muffin with cocoa flavour and crunchy roasted walnut chunks within.
The muffins have to look awful to match the Halloween theme, but they tasted awesome :)

Baked 6 muffins in 5.9x5cm size paper moulds


100g steamed pumpkin*

40g raw walnuts, break into small chunks

10g cocoa poweder
12~13g hot water

50g unsalted butter, softened
80g fine sugar
pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten
120g top/cake flour
1 tsp baking powder, 4g
50g milk

* I used Japanese Kabocha pumpkin


1. Peel and cut pumpkin into chunks. Steam for about 20 minutes till soft.

Collect about 100g of steamed pumpkin chunks and mash it into paste while the pumpkin is still hot. Cover and set aside.

2. Mix top/cake flour with 1 tsp of baking powder. Set aside.

3. Roast walnut chunks in a preheated oven toaster set at 150°C for about 10 minutes, or till fragrant. Set aside to cool down.

4. Mix cocoa powder and hot water into a smooth paste. Set aside.

5. Cream softened butter with fine sugar and pinch of salt till light and fluffy.

6. Gradually mix in the beaten egg till well combined.

7.  Blend in the steamed pumpkin paste from Step 1.

8. Sieve in 1/3 of the flour mixture from Step 2,

then follow by 1/2 of the milk quantity.

Alternating between flour and milk, in the sequence of
flour - milk - flour - milk - flour

9. Take about 1/3 of the pumpkin batter to mix with the cocoa paste from Step 4.

Transfer the cocoa paste to a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm nozzle. Nozzle of any shape.

10. Mix the roasted walnuts with the remaining pumpkin batter.

11. Divide the pumpkin batter among 6 paper cupcake moulds.

Pipe the cocoa batter into the centre of the pumpkin batter.

Use a thin stick to draw a few lines starting from the centre towards the edge.

12. Bake at middle rack of a preheated oven at 180°C for about 30 to 35 minutes, or till an inserted stick draws out clean.

13.  Let the muffins cool down slight before serving. Happy Halloween munching 🎃👻😋

Sunday 29 October 2017

Green Apple Lemongrass Tea

I was intrigued by my Facebook's friend, Michelle Heong's post on the green apple lemongrass tea. If consume over a period of time, it was believed to have beneficial effect on cartilage, thus reducing joint pain or inflammation. I am not so concern about its health benefit, but it truly makes a very refreshing drink. I prefer to serve this slightly tangy and sweet tea cold

Brewed about 900 ml of tea


1/2 a green apple, cut into small cubes without peeling
1 stalk lemongrass, halved & bruised
1 blade pandan leaf
800~900 ml water
honey rock sugar or yellow rock sugar to taste


1. Boil diced green apple, lemongrass, and pandan leaf in a pot. Let the content boil for about 15 minutes.
Wash the green apple with "Fruit & Vegetable Wash" to remove any residual chemical or wax before cutting.

2. Add in honey rock sugar or normal rock sugar.  Adjust the sweetness according to your taste.

Reduce the heat, and let it brews for about 20 minutes.

3. Filter the tea and serve it warm or cold. Enjoy :)

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Little Herman - Sweet Starter

Herman starter seems to be a very easy to cultivate and versatile type of natural yeast. It does not need daily feeding, and can be harvested on the 10th day after cultivation. I think the main difference between sourdough natural yeast and Herman starter is the high amount of sugar and milk used in feeding the natural yeast. During the cultivation period, only needs to keep the Herman Starter in room temperature (around 30°C).  I learned from other Herman cultivators that it can be used not only in bread, but also cakes, pancakes and even meat dishes.  The Herman starter helps to tenderize meat before cooking, and thickened soup or gravy. Sound interesting right?  That's why I'm jumping on the Herman Starter bandwagon too :)

Sharing with you the growing process of my Little Herman ...

(quantity of the flour adjusted on 24 Nov 2017)

Day 1 (15.10.17)

I used about 1 tbsp of natural yeast/ sourdough* 100% hydration, 1 tbsp each of plain flour, whole milk and fine fine sugar to start my Little Herman ;

* other cultivators used commercial yeasts to kick start the cultivation process.

Natural yeast 100% hydration: 21g
Unbleached plain flour: 10g
Cold Whole milk: 18g
Fine sugar: 17g
Total: 66g

Most importantly, do not use metal spoon to stir the Herman Starter!

Little Herman starting to grow ...
I think the Little Herman took about 6 hours to double itself on the first day.

18 hours after ...

Day 2 (16.10.17)

Only stirring was required. Lots of tiny air bubbles was observed throughout the day.

Day 3 (17.10.17)

Only stirring was needed.
Tiny bubbles appeared throughout the starter and day.

Just after stirring :)

Day 4 (18.10.17)

Add 2 tbsp each of all purpose flour and milk, and 1 tbsp of fine sugar to the Little Herman. To accommodate the growing Little Herman, I transfer them to a 600ml bigger container.

Herman starter transferred: 55g
Unbleached plain flour: 20g
Cold whole milk: 33g
Fine sugar: 17g
Total: 125g

Mixed all the feeds before adding to the Little Herman.

Little Herman doubled in volume after about 6 hours.

Little Herman at 17th hour after feeding.

Day 5 (19.10.17)

Only stirring was required. The Little Herman tasted sweet and a little tangy, plus a nice fruity alcoholic smell.  It is constantly very vibrant. I saw it rose and fell throughout the day. It is always filled with little air bubbles :)

Before stirring


After stirring :)

Day 6 (20.10.17)

Feeding day again for my growing Little Herman :)
Feeding these 3 ingredients to Little Herman:
Unbleached plain flour: 20g
Cold whole milk: 33g
Fine sugar: 17g

Stronger Little Herman took about 4 hours to double itself. In previous feeding, it took about 6 hours to double itself.

Before feeding

Getting all the feeding ingredients ready

After feeding

"Little Herman please grow faster, I want you to help me raise the dough" :)

7 hours after that morning feeding, I stirred the Little Herman to check whether it would double itself in two hours.

 After stirring

Little Herman doubled itself in two hours. I can use it to bake now :)

Little Herman in Bread Baking

I used 130g of Little Herman in my Sweet Bread and

Keep 30g to start another round of Herman cultivation.

After kneading with 250g unbleached bread flour, 105g water, 45g sugar, 1g salt, and 30g salted butter. Recipe in courtesy of Lily Lua.

Let the dough stood in room temperature (about 30C) for 90 minutes before keep in the fridge for 14 hours of overnight proofing.

Day 7 (21.10.17)

14 hours after refrigeration - unlike sourdough or commercial yeast, the Herman dough seemed like totally stop working. It looked the same as 14 hours ago :(

After 90 minutes of thawing, I divided the Herman dough into 9 portions, shaped and arranged in a 20cm square pan to proof in room temperature for about 3 hours 30 minutes.

3 hours 30 minutes later

Proof in a warm oven for 30 minutes.

Baked in a pre-heated oven at 170°C for 17 minutes and lower to 150°C for 3 to 5 minutes, at lower rack of the oven.

That's wrap up my Little Herman chapter :)

I dropped my  bottle of Little Herman on the eve of 2018 New Year. The container shattered and it ended my 12th cultivation of my Little Herman 😭 I'll start a new Herman brother on Friday, 5th Jan 2018 😉

I started a new batch of Herman Starter (named it Herman B) cultivation on 5 Jan 2018 using the remaining refrigerated Herman Starter from previous batch.

The new Herman B became bubbly and double in quantity within 12 hours. Yeah *\0/*