The only scone recipe I bake with – A Failed Attempt

The Only Scone Recipe I Bake With // Mono and Co

Update (29.09.19): A failed attempt no more!

Photo above, this is the first batch of scones I made.

And this is from the second batch, made one week apart from my failed first attempt.  A very steep learning curve, Hurray!

I think the first batch of scones did not rise nicely because I did not use a proper cookie/pastry cutter at first.

Not that I use a proper one now too, read on….

Recognise this “round cookie cutter?”

I upcycled from a 7-cm wide condensed milk tin by removing both ends using a can opener, making sure that there are no sharp points that could cause injury.  If a 7cm-wide scone is too big, find a smaller metal tin to upcycle.

One more thing to note: always WASH AND WIPE DRY IMMEDIATELY after using, so that the metal tin will not rust.

I am going to keep baking scones with this recipe because everyone loves it!

Double Cream Scones

recipe from here but I first read it here
Yields 10-12 pcs

1 egg
50ml double cream
180ml milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
450g self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt**
50g caster sugar
110g cold unsalted butter, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes

glaze: 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon milk

// Note 001 ** the recipe calls for a large pinch of salt.  I used 1/2 teaspoon.

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a small mixing bowl, combine egg, double cream, milk and vanilla extract and mix well.  Set this mixture aside.

In a larger mixing bowl, mix self-raising flour, baking powder, and salt.

Run butter into the flour mixture with fingertips until they resemble bread crumbs.  Create a well in the centre and add three-quarter of the liquid mixture.  Stir gently with a fork, proceed to add the remaining liquid mixture until everything comes together to form a soft, shaggy dough.

Pour dough onto a floured workbench, using a scraper, gather dough together.

Gently fold the dough in overlapping directions about 4-6 times, without applying too much pressure on the dough.  The surface should look less craggy by now, lightly pat dough into a circle.

Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough if it is too sticky.  Use fingers to pat it to about 2.5cm thick.

Dip a round pastry cutter (5.7cm wide) in flour to coat surface, then firmly stamp out 6 scones.

Important: Lift up the paster cutter, do not twist -doing so will seal the sides and the scones will not rise up tall and straight. (like my failed ones below, which cracked!)

Gently gather the remaining dough together, lightly re-roll and cut out more scones.

Transfer scones to a baking tray, leaving two inches of gap between.

Brush top with glaze mixture.

Bake scones for 17-19 minutes, until well-risen or golden brown.
I baked my 7-cm wide ones to 20 minutes at least to make sure they cook through.

Transfer scones to wire rack to cool slightly.  Best served warm.

Extra tip: according to the recipe, unbaked scones can be frozen and baked at a later time.   When ready to bake, simply brush glaze on top and bake for 24-25 minutes at 180C.

Bread baking: a relearning journey

After baking my own bread at home for so many years, I am so used to removing pretty loaves like this and this out from the oven. When I saw my first finished bake from the bread machine, I can’t help feeling disappointed.  A shapeless loaf with a crust that looked too smooth/shiny/thick.  I didn’t know where to start slicing.

Yup.  I finally bought myself a breadmaker.  It’s so difficult to find an opportunity to make bread at home lately.  The bread-making process is not difficult; just plenty of watching and waiting.  15 minutes here, 60 minutes there, another 40 minutes of something, before finally bake it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Followed by the tedious job of cleaning the kitchen tools and utensils after cooking: measuring bowls and spoons, mixer bowls, dough hook, and kitchen board…

So I revisited my wish for a bread machine, looking forward to fresh, healthy, homemade bread every morning.   The decision process was pretty fast because  I have done my homework so many times in the past.  I chose a model that comes with a ceramic-coated pan, instead of a Teflon version.  The rest is then up to my relearning journey to convert past recipes into breadmaker-friendly versions.  My first two attempts were alright, edible but nothing close to the texture I have perfected with natural bread improver using root vegetables.

As with my past kitchen experiments, I am journalling it here so that I can refer to it and improve as I bake more often.  A third loaf is cooling on the rack as I type.

For my own reference only.  If you have the same breadmaker (it’s a Song-Cho) and a tried and tested recipe for it, share with me!

Experiment No.1 "Pumpkin Loaf"
Water 250ml
Butter 24g
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar  3 Tbs
Flour 420g
Pumpkin puree 100g
Milk powder 2 Tbs
Instant yeast 1 tsp

//Menu Selection: 
Crust color@light

New Pantry Item: Homemade Kimchi Juice

Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

Maangchi’s napa cabbage kimchi remains a must-have homemade staple, either as a convenient side dish for its many health benefits or as an ingredient for a quick one-pot mushroom tofu stew.

Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

Lately, I have also been getting excited about kimchi juice, a by-product of kimchi.  The last recipe recap post was put up two years ago.  Since then I have tweaked the recipe slightly, here’s a list of what has changed since then, and what has not, and how I yield somewhat more of the umami powerhouse sauce like this from my kimchi-making process.  I have served it as a dipping sauce for pot stickers, a very yummy idea!

++ Sticking to one head of cabbage ++

Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

Kimchi is super easy to make at home.  But I don’t want to go overboard and prepare more than what my fridge space allows or how much my family can reasonably finish before it turns too sour for our liking.  This means sticking to one head of cabbage for my family of four.  An overly long period of fermentation while procrastinating to finish up the batch doesn’t guarantee better kimchi.

++ Sticking to same brining method ++

Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

For the brining process, I am still using the same Daiso-bought oblong sieve basin that is the perfect size for one head of cabbage.  After rubbing coarse sea salt into each leaf and add enough water to cover the cabbage, I will use place a cast iron pot on top to press and keep the leaves fully submerged in the brine for at least 2 hours.  The cabbage is ready when you can bend the hardy part without breaking it.

++ Switching to Brown Sugar ++Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

This has nothing to do with making tastier kimchi, neither did I switch for health reasons.  I have been using brown sugar at home because this is the only type of sugar sold in bulk sans packaging at the grocery store.  Nowadays, I believe that reducing sugar intake is a better health tip than say, replacing white refined sugar gram for gram with expensive raw/organic/unrefined ones.  The colour of the porridge might turn out different at first, but after adding hot pepper flakes, the end result still looks fiery-red-delicious.

++ Switching to Immersion Blender ++Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

The handy and space-saving immersion blender is a godsend for my small kitchen when I need a simple tool to blend milkshake and puree cream soup.  No need to lug its chunkier cousin, the countertop food processor, out from the kitchen cabinet anymore.  The portable blender also works very well in this kimchi recipe to mix the sweet rice porridge with roughly chopped garlic and onion, and grated ginger.

Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

After one minute of blending, all the ingredients turned into a smooth mixture.  The best part of using an immersion blender: easy to wash.  Cleaning up after cooking is always a meh task for me.

++ Switching to a less garlicky version ++Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

The original recipe calls for 24 cloves of garlic along with spring onions and chives.  Now, I add just one bulb of garlic, 3 stalks of spring onions, and removing chives altogether from my homemade kimchi.  I have also been adding lesser hot pepper flakes, 3 heaped tablespoons instead of 2 cups stated in the original recipe.  As the kimchi paste-porridge is no longer as spicy as before, I will use up the entire batch for one head of cabbage. It may look excessive at first to be using so much kimchi paste on one head of cabbage, but I am trying to yield something yummy and nutritious as the kimchi goes through the fermentation process: kimchi juice!

++ Switching to Harvest More Kimchi Juice ++Homemade Liquid Kimchi // Mono + Co

During its initial fermentation, the cabbage will release more water and turn the kimchi paste into a runny liquid.  From time to time, I will press to pack the leaves down using the back of a spatula, to mix the kimchi juice well.

After a day of maturing at room temperature, the kimchi is ready to be served.  By now, I will transfer the well-ripened kimchi to glass jars and placed inside the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.  The level of kimchi juice will continue to rise as the fermentation process continues for the next few days.  By day three, the level of kimchi juice yield will be enough to keep all the leaves full submerged.  At the end of the month, when all the cabbage kimchi has been consumed, I will be left with a jar of yummy kimchi juice which makes a handy condiment for making soup, stir-fries and more, with a touch of that kimchi’s signature tangy, spicy flavour.

Here’s a recap of the recipe that will yield a thicker kimchi juice/sauce for use as a cooking condiment.

Need more delicious reasons to make kimchi?

// this scrambled egg

// this grilled cheese sandwich

// this tofu mandu

// this udon

// this pancake



adapted from here

napa cabbage, 1 head
coarse sea salt

Porridge for kimchi sauce
2 cups water
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 bulb garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
3 heaped tablespoons hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 stalks scallions, chopped

To make kimchi with whole leaf intact, make a cross slit at the base of the cabbage, and tear the cabbage apart with hands from the core, you will have 4 portions of cabbage complete with green leaves and white stem.  If the head of cabbage is really huge, I will divide it into 6 sections.

Rub coarse sea salt in between the leaves, paying more attention at the thicker white stem portion.  Leave the cabbage in a shallow basin/pot, add water to cover leaves.

Optional: place a heavy cast iron pot on the vegetables to squeeze out the liquid in the cabbage.  Leave this aside for 2 hours, turning the cabbage over once or twice in between.

In the meantime, prepare the kimchi sauce.  In a saucepan, add water and glutinous rice flour to form a uniform mixture.  Bring to boil while stirring the whole time.  Do not leave the mixture to bring to boil over the stove on its own.  Once the mixture starts to boil and thicken, add brown sugar and simmer for 1 minute.  Turn off heat and let porridge cool completely.

To make kimchi sauce, blend roughly chopped garlic and grated ginger with cooled porridge using an immersion blender.  Add hot pepper flakes, soy sauce and stir well.  Add chopped scallions next and mix well.

When the cabbage is ready, rinse the leaves 3 times to thoroughly to remove salt.  Drain well.

Scoop some kimchi sauce with a clean tablespoon and drop it on the cabbage, spread the sauce evenly and generously on each leaf with clean hands and place it in a clean pot/container.  Repeat with the rest.  Pour and spread any balance kimchi sauce on top of the cabbage evenly.

Cover the container and leave it on the kitchen counter to ferment at room temperature, preferably overnight.  Next morning, you will check for air bubbles, which is a sign of fermentation taking place.  Press to pack the cabbage down to let the air bubbles escape and also for the kimchi juice to cover the leaves.  If you can reach the bottom of the container with a spoon, scoop the liquid from the bottom to transfer them to the top of the kimchi.  Taste test if the fermented flavour is to your liking, you can store the kimchi in the fridge where fermentation will slow down.

Of Muffins and Kitchen Compost

Of Muffins and Kitchen Compost // Mono + Co

I am lousy with plants but I somehow manage to keep my pots of sweet basil and Indian borage alive. There are two reasons why I try hard to keep plants along my corridor.  One, I get packing-free herbs without paying.  Two, I add trash to large pots of used potting soil.  Trash like eggshell, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and baking cups.

Of Muffins and Kitchen Compost // Mono + Co

I buy compostable baking cups and bury the used ones in a big pot of soil that I keep aside as my own lazy version of composting project.  That’s just one way of reusing trash from my kitchen.  I don’t have great gardening skills to tell you I am producing quality compost, but at least I am regularly harvesting basil leaves for my Aglio Olio recipes.

Regrettably, my non-compostable trash level piles high with plastic packaging from ingredients such as sugar, wholemeal flour, salt, milk and butter.

Although I send all plastic and cardboard waste for recycling, I really can’t be sure whether they will get that new lease of life as recycled products.  I have observed how the content in recycling bins are often mixed with contaminants and non-recyclable materials. Sometimes, bags from overfull recycling bins are transferred to general trash bins, undermining all the “rinse clean and dry” efforts of many household recyclers.

In case I have not repeated myself enough over the years, I believe reducing what I consume is going to make the most positive impact on the environment.  Forget recycling, because it only makes unnecessary trash generation less guilty.

I am sharing this whole wheat muffin recipe because it’s a keeper.  My daughter baked it for the family.

By the way, if you know how I can get zero waste butter, drop me a note will you?  I can easily cut down on cakes or substitute butter in recipes with oil.  But skipping butter on toast is a whole different level, especially for a bread lover like me.

Of Muffins and Kitchen Compost // Mono + Co


adapted from here

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 cups wholemeal flour

** original recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup brown sugar

001. In a mixer bowl, add softened butter, sugar, and baking soda with cream at medium speed .

002. Add beaten egg and vanilla to the mixture and beat till light and fluffy.

003. Add milk, mix well.

004. Remove bowl from mixer and add wholemeal flour.  Using a spatula, stir to mix the batter until all ingredients are just combined, or no spots of flour is visible.

005.  Line muffin tray with baking cups.  Fill cups 2/3 full with muffin batter and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 200C.

Pancake Waffles

Pancake Waffles // Mono + Co

As it turns out, my fluffy pancake recipe is perfect for making fluffy waffles as well.

When prepared fresh, it’s cripsy on the outside, the kind you serve with ice-cream.

After it has cooled down, it turns into a tender and fluffy texture that is perfect to be eaten alone, or with spread like Nutella or just simple drizzle of honey.

Pancake Waffles // Mono + Co

Add this recipe to my 152 Waffle Days thread.

Fluffy Pancakes Recipe

1 cup plain flour 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons (28g) raw sugar 
1 egg
 1 cup (240ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon rice bran oil

In a mixing bowl, add plain flour, baking powder, salt, raw sugar.  Combine well with a small hand whisk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in beaten egg, milk, and vanilla extract, whisk to mix.

Add oil and whisk to mix until the batter becomes smooth and no longer lumpy.  Add more milk if the batter is too thick.

Cook waffles as per waffle maker instructions. I use setting no.4

Fluffy Pancakes

Fluffy Pancakes // Mono + Co

I make pretty pancakes the slow way.  Egg white separated and whisk to soft peaks.  Pan over low heat, all to achieve that lovely smooth brown surface, albeit a longer cooking time.

Fluffy Pancakes // Mono + Co

While the recipe I have been using remained more or less the same over the years, some tweaks were made on several occasions when I ran out of an ingredient, or when I have excess ingredients to clear.  Like how I use Hong Kong flour for today’s version.  Hong Kong flour is used for making fluffy steamed buns, so fluffy pancakes should be achievable too!  I mixed 50:50 ratio of Hong Kong flour and plain white flour.  But if you don’t have Hong Kong flour at home, simply stick to plain flour or cake flour.  The pancakes will still turn out fluffy.

The other item I have altered since last year is the use of milk powder instead of fresh milk.  To cut down on plastic bottle/paper carton waste from fresh milk consumption, I started using milk powder instead for bread/waffles/pancake recipes.  Sometimes, I would even skip milk as an ingredient altogether in bread recipes and use plain water.  No one has complained.

Fluffy Pancakes // Mono + Co

I have also picked up other cooking habits, like covering the pan with a pot lid during cooking.  The pancakes somehow cooked faster in the trapped steam, or so I think.

Fluffy Pancakes // Mono + Co

When done properly, the pancake is ready when the top side of the pancake has no wet and uncooked spots,

Fluffy Pancakes // Mono + Co

while the pan side has cooked to a beautiful golden brown shade.

Fluffy Pancakes // Mono + Co

Fluffy Pancakes Recipe

1/2 cup hong kong flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (28g) raw sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 egg, yolk and white separated
1 cup (240ml) water
28g butter, melted 
more butter, for greasing pan

In a mixing bowl, add Hong Kong flour, plain flour, baking powder, salt, raw sugar and milk powder and combine well with a small hand whisk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in water and egg yolk, whisk to mix.

Drizzle in melted butter and whisk to mix until the batter becomes smooth and no longer lumpy.  Set batter aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg white to soft peak.  Gently fold the egg white into the pancake batter.

To cook, warm up a pan on low fire, not too hot.  Remove the pan from the stove and brush the smallest amount of butter on the pan to prevent pancake from sticking.  Pour some batter onto the pan and return the pan to the stovetop.  Cover and let the pancake cook over low heat.  Bubbles will start to appear on the top side of the pancake.  Continue to let it cook in the covered pan, until there are no wet or uncooked spots on the top side of the pancake.

Remove cover and lift a corner of the pancake slightly to check, the bottom should turned golden brown by now.  If it is too brown or has charred, this means that the fire is too hot, reduce the heat further when cooking the next pancake.  Transfer the pancake to a serving plate and cover with a clean towel to keep the pancake from drying out.  Fluffy, moist and warm ones are preferred on the breafast table.

Remove the pan from the fire to bring the temperature down slightly.  Brush butter and repeat to cook the remaining batter.

Serve immediately with syrup or favorite toppings.

Eight Treasures Herbal Soup [八珍汤]

Eight Treasures Herbal Soup [八珍汤] // Mono + Co

I am not a fan of stocking up, not even dried ingredients that can keep well for months.  When I need the Eight Treasures herbal soup ingredients, I still prefer to visit the traditional medicinal halls to get the ingredients when it’s time to prepare it.  I usually don’t give a second thought about getting my herbs wrapped with their traditional pink wrapping paper, as long as it is not plastic.  But since I had a tenugui with me on this particular day, I thought why not use it instead.

Eight Treasures Herbal Soup [八珍汤] // Mono + Co

I passed the tenugui to the boss and asked for my “Eight Treasures” (八珍) to be packed without using his paper wrapper, his customers in the shop started to chuckle.
“Boss,  from now on must provide hankerchieves as free gift with your herbs!” they jokingly commented.

Eight Treasures Herbal Soup [八珍汤] // Mono + Co

Anyway, I don’t know how, but the tenugui seemed to open up a conversation with the usually reserved boss.  As he started chatting while stacking my herbs super neatly on the tenugui, he also gave me few tips to prepare the soup:
// always rinse the herbs briefly to remove dirt,
// place the herbs and water in a pot, and bring to boil together,
// turn down heat, always reduce to simmer for better result, for this soup about 1.5 – 2 hours,
// for additional nutrition, add 1 fresh chicken egg to cook with the soup, must rinse the shell under running water to clean
// sieve the herbs, drink the soup and consume the egg, that has absorbed the “essence” from the herbs,
// to the seived herbs, add just enough water to cover them, and cook for second time to yield a slightly diluted version, in order not to waste it.

Eight Treasures Herbal Soup [八珍汤] // Mono + Co

I was apprehensive about leaving the shell to cook in the soup so I added de-shelled hardboiled egg on my first try.

Then I read this post where the author cooked the egg first, then add to the cooking soup with shell intact but cracked.

Eight Treasures Herbal Soup [八珍汤] // Mono + Co

I tried with the cracked eggshell method on my second try and served it with mee sua.

Feeling more adventurous, I found this post where the author rinsed the shell, soaked in brine for 15 minutes, before proceeding to cook it in the soup.

Let me update this post when I cook this soup again.

Almost Free Chap Chye

Almost Free Chap Chye // Mono + Co

Got a huge bag of dried items like black fungus, mushrooms, glass noodles,  black moss, lily bulb, and fried bean stick after a praying ritual. They were all packed in little sachets, so I sorted them into my glass containers, by type.  Clear plastic bags all go to the recycling bin as I have absolutely no use for them, plus there are too many of them.

Almost Free Chap Chye // Mono + Co

I used up everything except black moss to make a vegetarian chap chye.  Black moss is endangered, so the ones for the praying ritual could be mocked ones made with gelatin/starch.  They look too black to be the real thing.

Almost Free Chap Chye // Mono + Co

I mentioned “almost free” because I bought cabbage and carrot to cook the dish.  Garlic and condiments like vegetarian oyster sauce and sesame oil are not free either.

Almost Free Chap Chye // Mono + Co

Here’s how I usually cook my Chap Chye:

001. Soak all dry ingredients: mushrooms, black fungus, lily bulbs, glass noodles and fried bean stick.  After they have softened, rinse thoroughly to remove dirt.

002. In a heated wok, add cooking oil and minced garlic, fry until fragrant. 

003. Add mushrooms, black fungus, and lily bulbs.  Stir to fry.

004. Add carrot slices, chopped cabbage and fried bean stick.

005. Add vegetarian oyster sauce and enough hot water to cook all the ingredients, and bring to boil.

006.  Transfer to a pot and cover to simmer for 15 minutes.  Add more water to cover the ingredients, if necessary.

007.  Remove cover and add glass noodles, dash of white pepper and sesame oil.  Let it boil for another 5 minutes before serving.

I realised that I am starting to cook like my mom, no detailed ingredient list : a bit of this, a bit of that.  If you like this ingredient add more, or omit if you don’t.

If you need a chap chye recipe with exact ingredient list, check out this and this.

Homemade Min Chiang Kueh 面煎粿

Homemade Min Chiang Kueh 面煎粿 // Mono + Co

Perhaps also due to the acute shortage of labour, I have noticed quite a handful of hawker stalls switched disposable wares to save on the dishwashing chores.  Quite a few min chiang kueh (MCK) sellers have also switched to serving their yummy snacks on styrofoam plates, even for dine-in customers.  A stall at Upper Cross Street still serves theirs on reusuable plates, so I will always have one piece when I pass by, dine-in of course.

I like my min chiang kueh filled with ground peanuts the traditional way, and not with sticky peanut butter.  Yes, it can be quite messy and impossible to eat without the peanut bits falling off from the pancake, but as long as I catch these crumbs on the plate, I can easily gather them into a pile and sweep into my mouth, wasting no edibles.

I have started making my own at home after discovering an easy recipe that has no lye.  I also used raw sugar and skipped sesame seeds.

Homemade Min Chiang Kueh 面煎粿 // Mono + Co

I used my 16cm skillet to cook the MCK (recipe yields three pieces), on very low heat and covered.

Homemade Min Chiang Kueh 面煎粿 // Mono + Co

The edges were cripsy, interior fluffy, just like the recipe source has suggested.

Homemade Min Chiang Kueh 面煎粿 // Mono + Co

My kids commented that the homemade MCK smells and tastes authentic.  Another local snack recipe gem found!

Min Chiang Kueh 面煎粿

adapted from here

130g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoon raw sugar
1 large egg*
160g water

filling **
50g roasted ground peanuts***
25g raw sugar

* I use large sized egg that weighs at least 80g with shell.

** I didn’t really follow the recipe closely for the filling, I watch the MCK sellers sprinkle sugar first than ground peanut, so I follow this method of preparing the filling instead, by feel.

*** I prefer coarse ones with more crunch, some commericial MCK comes filled the fine version of the ground peanuts, those you sprinkle muah chee with.  Coarse or fine, up to indiviual preference.

In a bowl, mix the 4 dry ingredients  together.  Then add egg and water, and stir to mix well into a smooth batter with a whisk.  Set this aside undisturbed for at least 30 minutes.

Heat up 16 inch skillet over medium heat, when the skillet gets too hot to touch, turn the heat down to low and grease cooking surface thinly with a pastry brush.   Pour 1/3 of the batter into the skillet, and swirl the batter around to coat the edge of the pan with a thin layer of batter, this will become the crispy yummy edge of the MCK.  Cover and let it cook for 3-4 minutes over a very low heat.

Lift the cover.  The batter should look almost cooked with no obvious wet batter spots.  Sprinkle sugar evenly, followed by ground peanuts, cover and continue to cook further, for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, lift the cover, fold the MCK into half and transfer to serving plate. Cut and serve immediately.