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Monday, 27 February 2012

Taking Banana Bread in Nairobi to the next level!

I know that I've been silent for a short while, I've actually been busy running up and down, putting some business in order. I'm glad to announce that I've decided to finally start the bakery I've been dreaming about since last year. The beginning of this year I found a great partner, my wonderful sister, and we've been working on the logistics since then. We officially registered our business two weeks ago and have been setting up the bakery in Nairobi.
It's going to be a "cottage industry" for the time being, that meaning that we will operate from home and we will distribute the baked goods to our wonderful customers ^_^!!The only part we're left with now is finding our small bakery team, training them until we open on March 15th, 2012.
I will make sure I keep updating everyone on the progress and any upcoming offers. I thank you for your support and ask you to keep supporting us in this wonderful journey in becoming the best bakery in Nairobi and I'm very delighted to share with all of you my love of banana bread and all things quick breads! Check out my new website and if anyone has any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us. Thank you ^_^!!


Monday, 20 February 2012

7 Easy steps to fluffy Orange-flavored Pancakes.

Surprisingly, pancakes are also a kind of quick bread, hence the name pan-cakes. Once in a while I'll wake up in the morning and just feel like having some pancakes. I especially love orange flavored fluffy pancakes. Here's my recipe:

Ingredients:
- 2/3 cup Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 cup Self-Rising Wheat flour
- 1 Egg
- 1/8 cup Margarine or Butter
- 1 Orange (Medium-sized)
- Orange rind
- Extra vegetable oil for pan.

Directions:

1.) Combine flour and sugar in a separate bowl and set aside.
2.) Wash the orange and grate it for the rind and set aside in a plate. Then squeeze the orange for juice and set aside in a cup.
3.) Whisk the egg and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl and then add the milk and orange juice; whisk until well blended.
4.) Slowly pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients as you whisk until there are no lumps in the batter. Add the rind and slowly fold until thoroughly blended.
5.) Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil on medium heat.
6.) Pour not more than 3 spoonfuls of batter onto the pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface.
bubbles on pancakes

 Flip with a spatula, add a small amount of vegetable oil and cook until brown on either side.

7.) You can serve your fluffy delicious pancakes on a plate.

 *If you don't have self-rising flour; add 1/4 teaspoon of Baking powder.

Serve with butter & syrup or top with fruits like ripe bananas or strawberries. How do you like to eat your pancakes?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

5 Quick Trouble-shooting tips while baking @ home

The other day while I was baking my lovely pink Valentine's Pound Cake, I only got it right the second time. I say the second time because the first time, half-way through my baking, I smelled burning and when I checked, my batter was boiling over like porridge, it was quite disappointing! Sometimes, even for a seasoned baker, baking doesn't go very well or as planned. I've put together a few trouble-shooting tips to help you avoid a situation like mine, or if you have a situation like mine, how to figure out what happened. ^_^

1.) BATTER OVERFLOWS

Overflowing batter. (courtesy of newfinmysoup.blogspot.com)

This is what happened to my batter. Possible causes are:

- Excess baking powder or baking soda was used in the recipe. The solution to this would be to make sure the correct amount of raising agent is used as stated in the recipe. Also, if the recipe calls for self-rising flour, do not use any other raising agents in the recipe since the flour already contains them or if using; use very little.

- Another possible cause is over-mixed batter. If a recipe instructs you to cream your mixture for 3 minutes, make sure you follow instructions to the letter, do not mix for longer that instructed in the recipe.

- Using a baking pan that is too small. The solution to this would be to use the correct baking pan stated in the recipe. If it's a 9" Round pan, make sure you use the same as stipulated or a different shape but still an equivalent size.

2.) CAKE SINKS IN THE CENTER
Cake sinking. (courtesy of nervouschef.com)

- Batter was over mixed. It is very important in every recipe, to mix the batter as instructed, not more - not less.

- Cake removed from the oven too soon can also cause sinking. The solution is to make sure you follow the correct baking times and when in doubt, just insert a tooth pick in the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, remove from the oven.

- Opening the oven door during baking. Make sure while you're baking, you don't peek, especially towards the end of baking time.

3.) CAKE DOMES/PEAKS IN THE CENTER

- Oven too hot at the beginning of baking. Make sure you preheat your oven to the right temperature. Also if you can, purchase an oven thermometer for accurate measurement of the oven temperature.

- Too much baking powder or baking soda. Make sure you use the correct measurements of raising agent as stated in the recipe.

4.) CAKE STICKS TO SIDE OF PAN

- This happens if the pan is not sufficiently greased and floured. Make sure you always grease and flour the baking pan before use. You can also grease the pan and then put parchment/grease-proof paper before pouring in the batter as well.

- If the cake is turned out of the pan immediately after baking, it sticks to the side of the pan and will leave parts of it in the pan.This can be avoided if after baking, allow the cake to cool for at least 5 minutes in the pan before removing it.

- Cake cooled too long in the pan. To make sure cake doesn't stick to the baking pan, make sure after you cool the cake in the pan for at least 5 minutes; remove it and place the cake on a cooling rack.

5.) CAKE IS DRY

- Too much flour was used. Make sure you measure the flour appropriately with a measuring cup and follow recipe measurements of flour accurately.

- Not enough liquid in the batter. To solve this problem, make sure you follow the recipe accurately and don't reduce the quantity of liquid stated in the recipe. It also helps when mixing a cake to get the correct consistency as stated in the recipe.

This tips will help you avoid disastrous situations while baking. Enjoy your home baking ^_^!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

5 Easy steps to a Valentine's day Pound cake

On this one day, Valentine's Day, everyone is allowed to indulge their sweet tooth to the utmost. My way of doing so this year, is by baking one of my favorite cakes, a pound cake, and decorating it pink ^_^ Here's my recipe, enjoy:
My Pretty Valentine's Cake

Valentine's Day Pound Cake

Ingredients:
 - 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 cup Self Rising Flour
- 1/8 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F/ 177°C. Grease and flour a round cake pan and set aside.
2.) In a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time, then add the egg and beat until well blended.
3.) Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, starting with flour and ending with the flour. Mix in the vanilla until well blended.
4.) Pour into the cake pan and bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.
5.) Remove pan from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes, remove cake from pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Cool completely and then* frost the cake. Enjoy!




 * Use the link to make frosting for the cake and add the color of your choice for your frosting. Use liquid food color, at least 1/2 teaspoon.

Valentine's Day Pound cake

Friday, 10 February 2012

15 Valentine's Day gift ideas for your loved ones

'Tis the season for love and everyone is busy planning for Valentine's day, whether it is for that special someone in your life, or just a special friend or family member.

Most of us may be wondering what kind of gift to get our loved ones for that special day. Gift buying can be confusing at times, so I've put together a few ideas that are both helpful and budget-friendly to guide you in your gift-buying endeavor.So whether it's this weekend or on the actual Valentine's day, use these ideas to help you have a no-stress Valentine's gift giving day ^_^

GIFT IDEAS FOR HER

1. Beauty Gift Bag

This is an especially good idea if you want that special lady to know how thoughtful you are. Some supermarkets are offering gift bags for beauty products for ladies. You can choose from a variety of products for her.
Eco-friendly beauty gift bag
It would be even better if you have an idea what that special lady's favorite scent is e.g. vanilla, apple or citrus. Then choose the products with that in mind. If you're a creative person, you can go the extra mile by assembling a gift bag yourself. You only need to purchase an empty gift bag and tissue paper or crepe paper,

then purchase some beauty products you would like to gift, for example; a body wash with a matching lotion and a scented candle. Then assemble the gifts into the bag and voila! you have a custom-made beauty gift bag.

2. Spa Gift Voucher

Ladies love spas, they love to be pampered and taken care of. Another perfect gift to give that special lady in your life is a spa gift voucher. It gives her a chance to take a day off and relax, all thanks to you ^_^! If you know of a great spa near her, visit and ask them if they give gift vouchers, they'll be sure to assist you.

 3. Pastry Gift Baskets

If that special lady has a "sweet tooth" like some of us do, you can treat her to a gift basket of her favorite pastry or pastries. Many bakeries, even here in Nairobi, offer gift hampers/baskets with select baked products for special occasions, get her one and she'll definitely appreciate it. You can try Chiffon Cakes by Amari.


4. Jewelry

We've all heard the saying, "A diamond is a girl's best friend." There's truth to that.You may not be able to get that special lady a diamond (and if you can, please do ^_^), but these days there are many other options for jewelry types. If you know her preference, you can buy her a set of a necklace and earrings, or bracelet and earrings as a gift. Varieties include; gold, silver, beads and crystals. Make sure you have it wrapped in a presentable box for her and she will truly appreciate it.
Beaded bracelet and earring set

Gold jewelry

5. Flowers, Chocolates and Dinner

If you want to keep it simple and classic, treat that special lady to dinner and present her with flowers and chocolates. Most ladies love flowers and chocolates; who can resist a wonderful candlelit dinner? It's sure to please her.



GIFT IDEAS FOR HIM

6. Watch

For that special man in your life who has great taste in accessories, a good quality watch would be a great present. Make sure you get a watch that suits his style and makes a statement about his personality. He will appreciate it and keep it close to him, (literally, on his wrist).

If you can, get  Rolex, or get an idea of a style to get.
7. Beer Mug Set

If your special man loves hanging with the guys on some weekends, hosting a barbeque while enjoying some beer, this is a great gift for him. Get him a nice set of beer mugs he can use and they'll always have a special meaning for him.

8. DVD Gift Set

If your special man loves watching movies, this is a great gift for him. Get a collection of DVDs from  his favorite genre, e.g. Action, Sports, Wrestling or Documentaries and wrap them up for him. He will appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into his gift.

Sports DVD Gift set
9. Apparel Accessories

If that special man in your life is stylish and loves his accessories, gift him with some that will make sure he always thinks of you. Cuff links, a nice tie and a leather wallet are great gifts to get him to show your appreciation of him. Make sure the cuff links and the tie match and the wallet is genuine leather.

Green silk tie
10. Swiss Army Knife

For that special man in your life who is a handy-man in the house and has lots of tools. Get him a Swiss Army Knife, he will appreciate this multifunctional tool.

GIFT IDEAS FOR BOTH HIM OR HER

11. Box of Chocoloates

A gentleman who has good taste can enjoy a box of chocolates as well as any woman can. It is a classic and simple gift that will always be appreciated.

Box of chocolates
12. Fruit Baskets

An all-around healthy gift that anyone will appreciate.

13. Wine

If that special someone enjoys a good glass of wine, gift him or her with a quality wine for Valentine's day.

14. Quality Stemware

For that special someone who enjoys a good glass of wine and has a fully stocked bar ^_^! You can add them some stem ware to compliment the wine.

15. Gift Vouchers

This is a simple and safe gift that anyone will always appreciate. It is hassle-free and guaranteed to always be appreciated. Just choose a favorite supermarket, specialty store, barber shop, salon or even a butchery of that special someone's choice and get him or her a gift voucher.

 Whatever your plans are for this Valentine's Day are, enjoy yourself and make sure you let all your loved ones know how special they are too you. How are you planning on enjoying this Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies- Kenyan Style!

Today is Boy Scouts day, it is the day we celebrate the birth of scouting. Some of us associate Boys Scouts with cookies because of the cookies they sell to raise funds for their organization. As for me, I've decided to commemorate this day by sharing another classic cookie favorite recipe - chocolate chip cookies.


We all love chocolate, so why not some chocolate chips in a cookie? Here's my recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
 - 1 cup Sugar
 - 2 Eggs
 - 1/2 cup Butter
 - 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
 - 2 cups All-purpose Flour
 - 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
 - 1 teaspoon Salt
 - 10 oz./ 300gms Semi-sweet Chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 °F/177 °C. Lightly grease and flour cookie sheet and set aside.
2.) In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
3.)  Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly, then add the vanilla.
4.) Stir in the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks with a wooden spoon.
5.) Roll the stiff dough into balls and press them onto cookie sheet. Space them about 2-inches apart on the sheet.
6.) Bake until golden brown but slightly soft in the center, about 10-13 minutes. Transfer hot cookies onto a cooling rack with a spatula to cool.

 Enjoy your chocolate chip cookies! Do you like your cookies with milk? What else do you like to take with your cookies? Do share ^_^

HAPPY BOY SCOUT DAY!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Of all the bread spreads in the market, my favorite is peanut butter! Not only is it healthy, but since I love peanuts, it has a very wonderful "nutty" smell to it that I particularly like.

So of course when it comes to peanut butter cookies, I'm an absolute fan. I especially love using home-made peanut butter that my sister makes. Here's my tried and true recipe.


Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
- 1 cup Sugar
- 3/4 cup Butter or Margarine
- 3/4 cup Peanut Butter
- 1 Egg
- 2 cups Self Rising Flour
- 1/8 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

1.) Preheat  oven to 350 °F/ 180 °C. Lightly grease and flour a cookie sheet and set aside.
2.) In a medium bowl, sift flour and salt together; set aside.
3.) In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter and peanut butter. Cream until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes.
Peanut butter mixture to cream

4.) Add the egg and beat thoroughly, then add the flour mixture and mix.
5.) Dough should be stiff enough to shape with your hands. Make 1-inch balls and place on the cookie sheet. 
Stiff peanut butter dough

Gently press your palm on the balls to flatten them slightly and then make an indentation with the tines of a fork to make a nice pattern.

6.) Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Do you like peanut butter? Then enjoy the peanut butter goodness ^_^

Want to learn how to bake cookies? Then sign up for our Basic Cookie making class.
You can also email at: amaribreads@gmail.com
Call/text/WhatsApp: 0701796688

Saturday, 4 February 2012

5 Unexpected ways to rock @ Baking

Baking is a scientific art that may confuse some people, especially amateur bakers.

Baking at home or hobby baking is different from professional baking, however there are a few tricks professional bakers rely on that can be applied to home baking. Here are some of the professional tips you can depend on that will enhance your home baking experience.


1. Oven Preparation

To get great results from your home baking, make sure you always preheat your oven at least 8 - 10 minutes before you put in the product you are baking.  Baking at the center of the oven also makes sure of even circulation of heat which makes sure your product is baked evenly.


2. Life Expectancy of Baking Powder

 The freshness of your leavening agent determines the end result of your baked goods. When you buy your baking powder, make sure you mark the date you open it with a permanent marker on the container or carton. Baking powder starts to lose its effectiveness about 6 months from when opened, therefore, marking it will ensure that you keep track of its "freshness". Be sure to keep your baking powder and other dry spices away from any heat in the kitchen, it will make them lose their potency faster.

3. Recipe Preparation

When baking, make sure you first read the entire recipe before starting so as to understand every step of what you'll be doing. Make sure you take out all ingredients as well as the equipment to be used ahead of time. Being prepared will make the baking process easier and more fun.

Prepare your equipment ahead of time

4. Personal Touch

When decorating an iced cake, frost the cake then simply add a ribbon or a bow to give it a personal as well as a professional touch.
 You can also sprinkle icing sugar on a cake to give it a simple yet professional look.
Icing sugar sprinkled on a cake

Another good idea for a chocolate cake, is to take a doily
Example of a patterned doily
and lay it on the cake. Then sprinkle icing sugar on it and remove the doily. This gives the cake an antique look on top of the cake. You can also use any other pattern and sprinkle icing sugar.
Image courtesy of creativejewishmom.com



 5. Cooling Baked Goods

When your baked goodies are ready and you take it out of the oven, don't cool them in the pan they were baked in. Give them 3 - 5 minutes for the pan to cool and remove the cake or quick bread from the pan onto a cooling rack. If you cool in the baking pan, cakes/quickbreads may become soggy and get stuck.


Whatever you're doing, whether it be baking or decorating, have fun ^_^

Some excerpts courtesy of The Budget Chef website

Join our Baking Classes for more baking tips to use in your kitchen.
You can also email us on: amaribreads@gmail.com or call/text/WhatsApp: 0701796688

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Wonderfulicious Un-Frosted Coconut Cake


For all those who have tasted Coconut Cake, nothing beats that delicious coconut frosting covered by coconut shavings, yum! Sometimes though, I want the Coconut Cake without all that sugar, so I decided to make a Coconut Loaf Cake without frosting. I used a fresh coconut that my sis had bought and it turned out to be quite delicious. It still hit the spot! Here’s the recipe:

Fresh coconut!



Ingredients:
-          - 1/3 cup Sugar
-         -  1/3 cup Un-salted Butter or Margarine (*if using butter; add pinch of salt)
-         - 1 Egg (beaten)
-          - 1/8 cup Fresh Coconut shavings
-          - 1/4 cup home-made Coconut milk (*Recipe below)
-          - 1 cup Self-Rising Flour
-          - ½ teaspoon Baking powder
Directions:
1.       Preheat oven to 350 °F or 180°C. Grease and flour a small loaf pan and set aside. 
Grease & flour your loaf pan


2.       Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl (add salt into the dry ingredients if using butter). In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter or margarine for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until well blended, then add the fresh coconut shavings. 

Creamed coco mixture

3.       Fold in the flour and coconut milk alternately to the batter; until it becomes a nice drop consistency. Pour batter into the loaf pan.
4.       Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean.
5.       Remove cake from oven and let stand for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely. 

Delicious and so moist ^_^

Enjoy your cake!

*Home-made Coconut Milk:
Ingredients:
-          ½ cup Fresh Coconut shavings
-          ¾ cup Milk
Directions:
1.       Pour milk into a pan and the coconut shavings into the milk. Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and sieve the milk into a liquid measuring cup. Set the shavings aside.
2.       Let the milk cool completely and then use accordingly.


P/S: If you don't have a coconut, you can use store-bought coconut milk or coconut powder to make the milk.
*You can double or triple this recipe if you would like a bigger cake.

Share this recipe in your network with anyone who you know loves to bake ^_^