Hi, my name is Dunni Obata, and I am a Recipe Developer. I feel like I should be introducing myself like that from henceforth, hehehehehe. You know what they say about packaging. 2015 is the year for rebranding, re-strategising and all the “re’s”. If you know how long this has been bugging me to the point of annoyance. When the #eatNigerianfoodandmovemore ministry started this year, the nagging feeling to make healthier Nigerian snacks hit me again. This time even much stronger, especially with the constant January bombardment of Diet Chef Tv ads where they say you don’t have to cut out your favourite foods. According to them, Fitfam, doesn’t always have to be about salads and food that don’t make meal times enjoyable. I repeatedly heard the phrase “you can still eat your favourite foods and not feel guilty about it. Well, you wouldn’t say. Looooool. Puff Puff was high on the list. What to do, what to do. The first thing was to get rid of white sugar, that was kind of easy, use brown sugar. Still, I wanted to push the envelope further, but I parked it to one side. Then the biggest elephant in the room, get rid of the white flour, boy that was hard. The obvious choice is to use wholemeal, but yuck, I can’t stand wholemeal (whole wheat flour). I am sorry, it doesn’t taste good for anything. Make pastry or bread product with just wholemeal and I wouldn’t go near it, even if you paid me. Ugh!!!
I researched other alternatives and yes, they exist but for you guys who live in Nigeria, it will be difficult to source, and totally unfair, to take that route, not to mention unpatriotic, hehehehehe, if the core ingredient of a much loved Nigerian snack isn’t made with an easy to source Nigerian ingredient. Then I thought wait a minute, Oat flour, of course, Oat flour. My joy was short lived. My research showed that yeast would not work with oat flour alone because it doesn’t contain gluten and it is low in starch, so you need to combine it with other flours with a high starch content like rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour etc. I wasn’t aiming for a gluten free Puff Puff and still keeping in mind something easy to source in Nigeria, so I used wholemeal as a substitute to provide gluten. If you want to make a truly gluten free Puff Puff, then I have given you what to substitute, but knowing my aversion for it, I decided it would be a minor partner. Its only use is to allow the yeast work its magic.
The beauty of my research was the part where I read that yeast doesn’t need sugar for my mixture to rise. WHAT!!!!!!! That was an unexpected blessing, so I don’t even need brown sugar. I remember stopping, looking at the screen like twice and doing the happy dance. Remember that I don’t bake, if I did, I probably would know this but hey, as Mama says, “it is when you wake up that it is morning”. This fit fam movement has really educated me on things, I would never otherwise have been bothered to read about. Things like calorie counting, glycemic indexes, insulin production, yadi yadi yada. It felt like being in medical school again. Honey has a low glycemic index, oatmeal contains waaaaaaaaaay more protein than carbs and also low in calories, wholemeal is super good for you too in terms of protein and fibre. This is probably THE healthiest puff puff you will EVER eat, hands down in terms of nutritional value. I was talking about the legacy of Dooney’s Kitchen in a previous post, I hope this is something else, I can add to the list.
As the header denotes, this is at the Recipe Development phase, and I am going to fine tune it. I have seen so many twists to the moin moinlette, that I fully trust you guys to run with this. Do remember to share. I tried this out for the first time on Tuesday night and I remember biting my nails hoping it will rise. I mean, I had no recipe to work on, nothing to even tweak. This was all me, a true Dooney’s Kitchen original. So, I measured in the bowl and when the warm-ish water hit the mixture and I started seeing bubbles, I thought okay, this is working, this is working. I placed the bowl in a oven i had heated for 3 minutes and turned off. 20 minutes later it had risen and was smelling like puff puff, that yeasty smell. If you were blind folded you won’t even mistake it for nothing else than puff puff. Whoa, another 15 minutes later it had risen even more. I had to cover my mouth to scream, because it was so late at night. My first trial had to be deep frying, just to be sure it would rise in the oil like normal puff puff. As you can see the amoebic shapes, all down to my hands shaking because I was so nervous.
Or maybe I should just come clean now and say my puff puff frying skills are an epic fail. My flatmate and I wolfed it down in minutes. His first experience of Puff Puff and he asked to please take the rest to work the next day. My friend Kemi fries the best puff puff, so I have told her to try the recipe and take pictures. Come back next week, and you may see pretty balls.
When I tore it open, I could see the holes like a traditional puff puff. I am really detest honey and I was dreading the taste, but was pleasantly surprised to realise that I couldn’t detect a strong honey flavour. All I tasted was sweet as if I used sugar. The yeast reaction and alcohol produced, masked the honey taste perfectly, leaving only sweetness. The texture was perfect, not doughy as you expect with many wholemeal products
I kept my friends up on Whatsapp sharing my progress and Vivian said Dunni, I am not deep frying with you o, I will try it in a frying pan, like the Akara Pancake (recipe HERE). We agreed, we will call it Panuffs. I wanted to explore more options for healthier frying, and still get that aerated texture (like chewing air, hey, that is why it is called puff puff) and ball shaped. I suddenly remembered my ableskiever pan. Remember I talked about buying one in June last year, when I posted how to season a Kasko pan (HERE). I swear, my store is a treasure trove. I have had the thing since July last year and never used, so last night, I made the mixture again, yes my recipe worked again, and to my utmost surprise, the pan worked a dream. I think this is the “bestest” way to truly complete the healthy puff puff cycle. Each hole in the pan needs only a few drops of oil to fry, and you get to keep the ball shape, and aerated texture.
Pardon the burnt bits. There is a skill to turning out gorgeously brown, balls of airy delicious goodness. I got this pan on ebay. If you live in America, they are everywhere, if you live in Europe, buy on ebay. If you live in Nigeria, get a Masa pan. This nailed the “puff puff”, very well.
With the #fitfam movement, personally visual cues are important when eating healthy food. I wanted this to look like puff puff, taste like puff puff too, because hey it IS puff puff, just healthier. I did try the pankara way, but it felt kind of flat and dense. What you need is height, to get that aerated, feels like chewing cloud texture, so I tried the egg ring Funmi gave me, taking inspiration from making an English Crumpet. If you have ever seen crumpet batter, it looks a whole lot like puff puff mixture. You can also use crumpet rings to make this. This is another good way to go, but low heat is needed to allow it cook through for 5 – 7 minutes or more, otherwise, in trying not to let the bottom burn, you take away the ring too soon and it will fall flat.
Or you don’t want to go through the trouble, fry flat in a pan like an Akara Pancake. Of all four experiments, this was my least favourite, because it didn’t have that chewing air effect, it was more doughy. In order of favourite in terms of texture
Deep frying (evil, hehehehehe)
Panuff – (frying flat)
You want to be truly experimental, try it in a Waffle maker or Sandwich Toaster. I am still going to be tweaking and tweaking this, who knows, the final perfect product could just show up in a cookbook. Hey, y’all have to pay for that effort. Hehehehehe. Let’s make some healthy gorgeous puff puff.
- 1 cup of Oat Flour (158 calories)
- ½ cup of Wheat Flour (187 calories)
- 3 - 4 tbs of honey - depending on your tolerance for sweetness 64 calories per tbs
- 1 packet of fast action yeast (7g - 23 calories)
- ¼ - ½ cup warm water -
- 1 tbs of Sunflower oil (120 calories) for frying in a 'Masa' pan
- Total calories 703 (using 3 tbs of honey). This can feed 2 people conveniently. Now divide by 2 and you've got a very healthy snack right there. 351 calories. No guilt. Say Thank you. Lol.
- To make your own Oat flour, simply blend in a dry mill as you would egusi for example
- Measure 1 baking standard cup of Oat flour into a bowl
- Add ½ cup of wholemeal, one packet of yeast and honey
- Combine with warm water and stir till there are no lumps. Start with ¼ cup of water and add more slowly. A reader's feedback of this recipe was that you would need less water than the standard puff puff recipe
- Leave in a warm place to rise. I turned my oven on for 3 minutes and turned it off. This was after 15 minutes
- and later after another 15 minutes
- Choose your preferred method of frying. Mine is to use a 'Masa' pan, to which a few drops of oil are added to each hole and filled with a tablespoon of the mixture on medium heat.
- Flip over when the bottom has browned, and chew airy delicious healthy puff puff
- Likewise, you can fry like a crumpet or fry flat in a pan. See literature for details
I cracked the code people. #fitfam Puff Puff. You never “hessperredit” right.