Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My first Macaron!!

I did it! I finally did!!

I had been pondering about making macarons ever since I can think straight after the birth of Nathalie. But I had read many horror stories about this cranky little biscuit. About how it refuse to develop feet, become lumpy or too flat or crack, etc. I just did not pick up the courage to try it.. until yesterday.
Thanks to Pook from dailydelicious who gave me precious advise and also for the recipe that I used from her lovely blog. And my hubby who got me the red bean paste. I made my first macaron - green tea with red bean paste.

I followed the recipe closely. Using the food processor to further grind the almonds with icing sugar and green tea powder. Then painstakingly sift the dry mixture.
After about five minutes in the oven, the little discs developed feet!! I was so glad I danced round the kitchen.. ha ha.

Lovely feet...

Thought the green was too intense, but what the heck.. its got feet! Filled with store bought red bean.

Still in the Christmas mood...

The truth is, I've never tasted macarons before, so I have no idea if mine passes the taste test. I heard it is supposed to be a little crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Mine was not that crisp, but was indeed moist and slightly chewy inside. Hubby loves it. Friends thought its too sweet. Not too sure if it was the filling that was too sweet or the little discs.

My daughter is now asking for pink ones. So do expect more macarons coming up ... after I age those egg whites.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Girly cupcakes

Was invited to a friend's daughter's birthday party recently. I volunteered to bake the girl's birthday cake. The mother was looking at Cheryl Shuen's cupcakes and adored her beautiful designs. I was afraid of not meeting expectations, so I did lots of research and did these test cupcakes.

Unfortunately did not take pictures of the final cake!! Make a couple of changes - used dark brown and gold cupcake liners for a more polished look. Also added more colours - pastel orange and pink as background.

Made two flavours of cupcakes - orange vanilla and chocolcate with maraschino cherries. The chocolate ones were very tasty, the maraschino cherries gave it a very nice flavour. I think I ate about four of those cupcakes, its a feat for non-cake lover like me.

Choc 'n' cherry cupcakes
adapted from '500 cupcakes and muffins' by fergal conolly
makes 18 cupcakes

225g self raising flour
4 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar (I reduced by 25%)
225g unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, lightly beaten
90 g chopped cherries (Recipe uses fresh cherries, but I put in about 15 chopped maraschino cherries instead)
2 tbsp kirsch (I omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees
2. In medium bowl, sieve flour, cocoa and baking powder. Set aside
3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
4. Add eggs a little at a time, beating well with each addition
5. Add flour mixture, mix till well combined
6. Fold in cherries
7. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases
8. Bake for 20 minutes
9. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes
10. Pour a little kirsch over each cupcake
11. If using muffin tins, remove the cupcake and cool on rack

I did not make the topping, as I decorated with fondant. But if you use this topping, it will taste and look like a black forest cake, but in miniature.

For the topping
200ml whipping cream
3 tbsp icing sugar, sieved
18 whole cherries
100g dark chocolate bar

1. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until slightly stiff
2. Using a vegetable peeler, shave curls of chocolate from the bar
3. Garnish the cupcakes with a dollop of cream
4. Place a cherry in the center and chocolate shreds around it

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!!

I've been busy, busy, busy. Did quite a fair bit of baking for our cell group's party on Christmas eve. I made marshmellow snowman, a nativity-themed cake, croissant butter pudding and Christmas chocolate cupcakes. But alas, was too caught up and did not take pictures!!

So I assembled this easy dessert to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Strawberries with lots of white chocolate cream, sandwiched between puff pastry and dusted with icing sugar. Yum!

Update (3 Jan) : Managed to retrieve some pics from mobile phone. Here's my nativity cake and christmas cupcakes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bread basket

I love bread. Much more than cake. Although I love and enjoyed cake decoration, I hardly ever eat more than a slice of cake each time. But bread is different. I can have them every day for breakfast, lunch and tea.

Baked double portions of bread the other day. Just normal sweet bun dough, but shaped and filled differently. Ended up with one whole basket of bread! I gave away most. I had great success this time, the bread was fluffy and soft. Most importantly, it remained so for 2-3 days!

Here's my bread basket.

I made raisin buns...

... almond twists

and sausage buns.

The almond twists are a little dryer than the raisin and sausage buns, I guess its because the raisins and hotdogs impart moisture to the dough and keeps it more moist.

My bread recipe is from Creative Culinaire, where I took my bread baking course. The course is certainly a good investment, gives me a lot more confidence when baking bread.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Nathalie not well again...

Nathalie started running a fever on Sunday evening. Non of us in the family has the flu nor fever, so did not know where she got it from. We monitored her through the night, thankfully the fever never went pass 38.5 degrees.

We waited till Tuesday to bring her to PD, as Monday was a public holiday. PD advised to admit her into hospital! I was shocked, never realised that it was that serious. PD advised that fever might be dangerous for infants and could be due to 1) viral infection (least serious), 2) urine infection, 3) blood infection or 4) brain infection (most serious). As she was still alert, the last possibility was ruled out, praise God!

We decided against admitting her, so we proceeded with urine and blood test.

The urine test did not hurt her, though we had to wait a long time for her to urinate into the bag. But the blood test, a needle inserted into the back of her hand, ouch! My MIL say this is the most painful way to draw blood, double OUCH!

Hubby activated cell group for prayers. We are so blessed to have a group of prayer warriors.

Blood test revealed that she has a viral infection. Thankfully, the fever subsided within the day. But thereafter, she broke out in rashes all over face, body, limbs. Consulted PD again. Since there is no fever, dengue is ruled out, asked to monitor her situation.

Today, the rashes had subsided somewhat. Praise the Lord for His mercy. Will continue to monitor her and keep her in prayers.

Puff pastry stars

Ready-to-roll puff pastries are so convenient.

When my son's school end party called for some snacks, I relied on the ready-to-roll puff pastries to tide me over this requirement. Since its for little children, I decided against cutting them into strips. Instead, I used a star shaped cookie cutter and made crispy and sweet little stars.

A little more work, but the result was cute. As for the little scraps in between the cutouts, I baked them too and they made it safely into my tummy. Yum!

Come to think of it, if dusted with a little icing sugar, they will make a pretty 'christmas-y' snack.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Croissant Butter Pudding

We Singaporeans are a lucky lot. The neighbourhood libraries are stocked with the most fabulous books! The network of libraries allow us to borrow a book from one library and drop-off the book in any other branch. We can reserve a book online and designate where you want to pick up the book. We can extend the loan online if it takes longer than expected to finish the book. We can also have SMS reminders prior to loan due date. And all these, for free! Now that the school holidays are in, we can borrow double the usual quantity of books. So between me and my kids (btw, a child can apply for a library card the day he is born), we lugged back 25 books. :-)

One of the books I borrowed was James Martin's 'Dessert'. I had no idea who he is, but the pictures in the book looked really good. Further reading reveals that he is an accomplished chef and now a successful presenter of food shows on BBC. In this book, he mentioned that one of the dishes that made him famous was the Croissant Butter Pudding. And it started out as a mistake! Three dozen croissants was ordered but 33 dozen was delivered! So he invented this dish totally out of necessity.

I was inspired by the story of how a mistake turned good and of course the really nice, delicious looking pictures. So this is the first recipe I selected from this book.

My pictures did not turn out good, but taste wise, its superb! My first pudding actually and my husband loved it. Try it, think you'd love it too.

Serves 4

500ml milk
500ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
3 whole eggs
6 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
6 large croissants
25g sultanas
25g butter, melted
175g white chocolate, cut into shards
75ml whisky
icing sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Pour the milk and cream into a pan, add the vanilla pod and gradually bring to boil
3. Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a food mixer bowl and mix gently using the whisk attachment on a low setting
4. while the cream is heating, slice the croissants and place in oven proof dish, slightly overlapping the pieces. Sprinkle with sultanas and pour over the butter
5. once the cream has boiled, take it off the heat. Add the egg mixture and chocolate and stir well. Place to one side off the heat to allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the whisky to the cream mixture. Using a sieve, strain the cream over the croissants and bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until almost set.
7. Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar. Caramelise the topping using a very hot grill or, if you have one, a blowtorch. This is best served at room temperature, with a spoonful of ice cream.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Moist, fluffy soft banana cake

When I read this blog entry on Chubby Hubby's blog, written by his wife S, I knew I had to try baking this cake. And I am very glad that I did. I baked all of 24 cup cakes and ate more than half of it myself! Six were polished off when they came out of oven, two by me, two by my children and another two by our two domestic helpers.

The cakes were very fluffy, soft and light. The only misgiving is that I did not have enough bananas as indicated in the recipe, else I bet it will be even more fragrant.

My Mother-in-law’s Banana Cake (MIL refers to Chubby Hubby's mummy)

Makes 20 to 24

21⁄4cups (295g) flour
2tsp baking powder
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1⁄2tsp salt
1cup (210g) sugar
240g unsalted butter
4 eggs, beaten
4 bananas (roughly 375g), mashed
5Tbs milk
1tsp pure vanilla essence

Sift flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium bowl.
Cream butter and sugar until creamy white.
Add beaten eggs a little at a time. Beat well after each addition.
Add vanilla, milk and mashed bananas.
Fold in flour and blend well.
Pour mixture into muffin cups and bake at 180˚C for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Actually I have one question for seasoned bakers out there, there are many varieties of banana , which is the best for baking?

Do teeth die?

We have our cell group bible study every Friday.

My 3 year old daughter was heard asking one of my cell member's daughter, who had lost her two front teeth, 'How come your teeth die?'.

Ha Ha!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My first Daring Bakers' Challenge - Caramel Cake

My first Daring Bakers Challenge! I've read about them, gone through the members' blogroll and were amazed at the skills and creativity its members. I was excited to be part of the team and November will be my first challenge and what a challenge!

This month hosts are Doleres (from Culinary Curiosity), Alex (from Blondie and Brownie), Jenny(from Foray into Food) and Natalie (from Gluten-a-Go-Go) and the challenge is caramel cake with caramelised butter frosting. This recipe is from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater and this is her signature cake. Shuna's notes for this cake starts like this 'This is one of those cakes that is truly about baking. It may sound strange because aren't all cakes about baking? What I mean is that getting this cake to bake is about balancing fat with acid and protein JUST RIGHT........'.

I was worried. I doubted whether I could get it right especially when the recipe was not given in weights but in terms of cups and tablespoons... Furthermore, this will be my very first attempt with caramel.

The recipe indicated that it is for a high 9 inch cake and I had read in the forum that its very sweet, so I halved the recipe and baked in a 7 inch round. Here is the result of my attempt.

My cake ended up very flat! I decided against decorating it like a usual round cake, so I used a cutter to cut a small flower shape, layered it and fill with the caramelised butter frosting. Piped little stars on top and drizzled with caramel syrup. Made a couple of these.

The taste? Too sweet for me and family. The caramelised butter frosting is very sweet, but is very delicious. Never tried frosting made with browned butter before, its really very nice.

The recipe can be found at

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Classic - Blueberry muffins

I am embarassed to admit that I have never bought/baked with fresh blueberries before. I hardly even see them as I normally frequent NTUC Fairprice for my groceries, especially children's milk and diapers. I was surprised to see them at a neighbourhood NTUC Fairprice, so I bought the last little punnet.

I scoured the internet for blueberry related recipes and boy, there were many! Too many to decide what to choose. I finally decided to do the classic blueberry muffin, with recipe from the book '500 cupcakes and muffins' by Fregal Connolly. Had had this book for ages already, but have not tried a single recipe in there. *guilty*

Here's how my blueberry muffins turned out.

I love how the blueberries burst under the high heat and colour the mufins.

They were delicious! This recipe uses quite a lot of milk and I love that milky taste. It is also soft and moist. I ate two when it was fresh out of the oven (well, I am a big eater now... trained during confinement, now must try to suppress appetite). My children each had one.

Ingredients (makes a dozen)
125g caster sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
265g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 lightly beaten eggs
225ml milk
115g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla essense
225g fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 200 degree celcius
2. In medium bowl, stir sugar, lemon zest, flour and baking powder with a spoon
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla with an electric whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.
4. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the blueberries are just combined. Do NOT over-mix
5. Spoon the batter into muffin cases
6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes

It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Poor Nathalie

Poor Nathalie.. caught the flu bug. Must had come from the sister or brother who were down with flu and fever two weeks ago.

The PD had to insert a little tube through her tiny nostril to suck out the phelgm. She cried till her eyes were puffy and red but the relief was only shortlived. By the time we left the doctor's office, I could hear the phelgm already.

She had difficulty sleeping as she struggle to breath when laid flat. I could hear the thick mucus when she breaths. Had to put pillows under her bed to prop her up, but that means she keep sliding downwards and I had to check on her every half hour (if I can wake up) to adjust her.

She is drinking less too. Too much milk and she might vomit.

Now she had started to cough too.

Yet, as she struggled with the flu bug, she continued to reward me with her beautiful smile. A smile that reminded me that she is God's creation and I should entrust her into God's hands to make her well again.

Please pray for her speedy recovery.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweet Blanc

When I first saw this on dailydelicious' blog site, I knew I had to make it. It looked so lovely and delicious. Bread + cream cheese filling, dusted with icing sugar and topped with a strawberry. Never made such a lovely looking bread before.

For recipe and method, please visit dailydelicious blog.

This is the bread, pre-decoration. It looks like a lovely flower.

I had some really sweet and lovely strawberries, but alas, they were too big.. even the smallest look big.

Decorate with sliced strawberries instead.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Caramel Banana Coconut Tart

When I saw this tart on a blogger site - Mitong, I knew I had to try it. It looked so lovely and it combined two of my favourite things - banana and coconut, yum!

So I finally got to try it last week.. while my creation did not turn out half as lovely, but it tasted great nonetheless. Understand from Mitong that the recipe originated from a japanese cookbook, she had it translated to Chinese and here's my attempt to translate it to English.

Tart Ingredients (8 Inch)
Unsalted butter 100g
Icing sugar 65g
Whole egg 35g
Almond powder 35g
Plain flour 165g

Tart Fillings
Whole egg 90g
Sugar 40g (from original 80g)
Cream 80ml
Coconut powder 65g
Lemon juice 10ml
Rum 1tbsp (optional)

Caramalised Banana
Banana 5 pieces
Butter 10g
Sugar 2 tbsp
Rum 1 tsps


1. Take butter from fridge, let it soften
2. Sift icing sugar, almond powder and flour seperately
3. Beat the eggs
4. Whisk butter and icing sugar till pale
5. Add egg in 3 steps
6. Add flour and almond powder
7. Mix till dough come together, wrap in shrink wrap. Keep in fridge for 1 hour.
8. Roll out dough, place on tart tin. Trim the sides.
9. Use a fork to poke holes on the tart pastry, then place tart into fridge for 15 min.
10. Place aluminium foil or baking paper onto tart, add weights on top
11. Bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, remove paper with weights, bake another 8-10 minutes till slightly brown.

Tart filling and Caramelised banana
1. Mix all ingredients for tart filling together. Put in fridge.
2. Cut banana into 2.5 cm pieces
3. Melt butter in saucepan
4. Use slow fire till the butter browns, put in white sugar and cook till sugar melts
5. Put in banana and rum
6. Stir gently till banana is coated with caramel
7. Dish out

1. Pour tart filling into tart mould
2. Arrange caramelised banana into filling
3. Bake at 180 degree for 25 minutes

I had no idea what coconut powder was, so I substituted with coconut cream. One tip given by Mitong was, not to knead the tart dough as gluten will develop and the tart will not be crispy.

My son loved the filling and the bananas while my daughter loved the crusts. So between them, they gobbled up two pieces.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nathalie is one month old!

How time flies! Our little bundle of joy is already one month old! She's very responsive for her age, even the PD mentioned that. She'll look at us and smile when we talk to her. She's such a joy and blessing to our family.

We celebrated Nathalie's one month milestone on 1 November. And what's a celebration without a home made cake from mummy? Here's my creation for my bundle of joy... and one of my favourite cakes thus far...

This cake was inspired by the many 'clothes-line' themed cakes that I saw in CakeCentral. I love the simplicity of the cake and its soft colours. Initially, I was tempted to pipe lots of 'grass' and have fondant flowers all over. Am so glad that I didn't as that would have made the cake too 'busy'.

Here's a closer look at the basket of baby clothing and blanket. Weaved the basket with long stripes of fondant.

Here's little Nathalie saying 'Hi!'.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, my little lamb!

My little boy's birthday is in Oct and every year we celebrate his birthday by having a party at home, inviting some of our close friends and their children. This year, we decided to do it differently, by inviting his friends in school. And since I'm still in confinement, we outsourced it to McDonalds. Both my children are fans of McDonalds.. well, which kid isn't?
But having experienced McDonald's frozen birthday cake, I insisted on baking my own.

Here's my conversation with the birthday boy on cake design :

'Boy, what design you want on the cake?'
'Mummy, what year am I born in?'
'No! I mean which animal year?'
'Year of the lamb.'
'Then put lamb on the cake loh!'
'OK.. I make the lamb read a book.'
'How about the lamb play Wii?'
'Huh? That's too difficult.'
'How about the lamb reading a book, but thinking of Wii?'

So, here's the cake, not quite what he asked for, but close....

Its a 2 tier chocolate cake with chocolate ganache.. but I used whipped cream decorations as I do not want a 'dark coloured' cake.

Here's a close up on the lamb. Notice the Wii remote too? The whole lamb is fondant.

The kids have lots of fun. My boy certainly enjoyed the party.

Happy Birthday, Gabriel. May the Lord shine his face upon you and bestow his blessings on you. May you grow up to love and fear the Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

God's Gift

Guess I won't be blogging or baking for a while.... here's the little one who's keeping me busy. Each time I look at her, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love. Her every smile, every yawn, even every cry, tugs at my heart strings. Ah.. the joy of motherhood!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sausage and cheese buns and others

Am officially on maternity leave now... have many false alarms.. but baby's still not out yet. Its getting really tiring carry a 3 kg load around with me. But baby rewards me with kicks and punches throughout the day. Am really going to miss this wonderful feeling after delivery. It really is a miracle how it grows from a single fertilised cell to a baby with such intricate organs. If its not the creation of a divine being, what else can it be? Praise the Lord!

I have recently discovered a wonderful blog. I was browsing Happy Home Baker's blog (a wonderful and generous blogger) and followed her links to DailyDelicious. DailyDelicious provides detailed step by step pictures and wonderful recipes from her wide collection of cookbooks. What a precious find! Especially so that she provides recipes from Japanese cookbooks in English!

I was so tempted to try many of the recipes, but was not really in the right physical form to try adventurous ones. So I tried her Sausage and cheese buns and along with it, other different buns with different fillings.

Sausage and cheese bun
Please refer to DailyDelicious for instructions. Easy to make, looks great and tastes delicious.

Cheese Bun

Filling : Cheddar cheese mixed with some butter
Topping : a quarter slice of cheddar cheese placed on top after brushing with egg wash

Kaya Bun

Filling : Mix some of your favourite kaya with some butter
Topping : just some black sesame seeds (optional)

Still waiting for the arrival of my little princess....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chunky chewy chocolate chip cookies

This is one cookie my children and I enjoy. A big cookie with chunky dark chocolate chips. Yum.

I like the fact that its so simple and easy to make. I also like it in large sizes, large enough for me to decorate with royal icing on top. Unfortunately, did not manage to take pictures of those that i decorated.

Here's the recipe, adapted from a cook book. Ah..cannot recall name of book nor author, apologies.

220g brown sugar
110g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
75g plain flour
150g coarsely chopped macademias, toasted (I omitted this)
185g butter, melted, cooled
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 egg yolk, beaten lightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200 g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsely

1) Preheat oven to 180degree
2) combine sugars, shifted flours and nuts in big bowl
3) Add combined butter, egg, egg yolk and extract, mix to a soft dough
4) Stir in chocolate
5) Place 2 level tablespoons of biscuit dough, about 6cm apart on lightly greased oven trays
6) Bake about 16 minutes or until browned lightly.

For my version, I cut down the sugar by about 30% as we do not like it too sweet. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Basket full of roses

Was raking my brains how to decorate a cake that we were to bring to dinner when my husband suggested roses. Its been quite a while since I last decorate cakes with fresh cream roses, so was a little shakey and took a little while to get the hang of it again.

I find piping roses very therapuetic. As you form the rose petal by petal and create the bouquet rose by rose... you just have no time for worries. You can also rest assured that the end product is pleasing to the recipient, especially ladies.

Cake is sponge cake layered with durian cream. My first attempt at durian filling. The secret to great durian cream is to have lots more durian vs cream. I made mine at 2:1 ratio, but I think it'll taste even better to up the durian ratio.

We had a wonderful time of fellowship with our friends. Food was great, company was excellent. They certainly have the gift of hospitality. Praise the Lord! Even our children enjoyed themselves tremendously too.

Lastly to share with you this wonderful Psalm that I wrote on a 'flower pick' and placed on the cake, a Psalm of thanksgiving :

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with Thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.


Cheese chiffon cake and banana too..

A certain japanese restaurant is famous for, among other delicacies, their super-light cheese chiffon cake. When I was there the last time, the cheese chiffon was sold out. But oh my! Almost $6 for a slice and $50 for a whole cake. That's VERY expensive for chiffon cake, considering the ingredients that goes in a basic chiffon.

While I did not get to try the famous cheese chiffon, I plough through the internet to look for a good recipe to make my own. I found different recipes, some use shredded cheddar, some use cream cheese. I chose to use the one that uses cream cheese and here's how mine turn out :

My chiffon did not turn out as tall as I wanted it to be, but that was because the pan I had was too big for the amount of batter. It certainly did not look as pretty as the restaurant version, but like all chiffons, the texture was very airy, very light and had a mild cheese flavour. I did not smother any fresh cream on it, so we could fully appreciate the taste of the chiffon.

Taste testers all liked the fact that its soft and light, but nobody raved about it. I guess we are all not cheese fans. The next time I visit the restaurant, will definitely try the cheese chiffon there, well, to compare and taste if its really worth its price.

The first chiffon did not quite satisfy, so baked another... a traditional banana chiffon. This time with raving reviews. Ha.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bread Mix

Two weeks ago, as I was loitering at King Albert Park's Cold Storage, I came across a hosts of bread mix on sale. They were near expiry. I had not tried using any breadmix before, so I decided to get one.

The instructions were simple enough.. or probably over-simplified.

I followed the instructions to the tee.. except that I hand kneaded the dough for more than 10 minutes (5 times more than stipulated on the packaging). Still I was not able to do a satisfactory stretch pane test. Then I thought, maybe bread mixes were different?

I left the bread to proof, but instead of doubling in size, it just spreaded a little on the baking tray. I popped it into the oven after more than an hour of proofing and this is what I got.

It certainly looked and smell impressive. The crust was so thick and crispy, like those artisan breads! But it did not quite 'rise' to the occasion, so the inside was rather too dense for my liking.

The fact that it didn't rise could be because the yeast was dead, since it was so near expiry.

I have since decided that baking from scratch is a lot more satisfying and rewarding.