Selamat Hari Jadi

March 17, 2010 - 2 Responses

Happy Birthday! Selamat Hari Jadi! Bonne Anniversaire!

My mom celebrates her birthday today and I made this wonderfully light almond cake for her. You might be thinking that an almond cake is not the traditional birthday cake. It’s missing the fancy, creamy goodness that birthday cakes, in general, are identified by but my mom do not like frosted cakes. She’s weird that way but it’s her day and she decided that she would like a nutty cake. We initially decided to make the traditional Eurasian Sugee cake but after looking up the recipe (and being awed by the number of eggs required), we decided on an almond cake.

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Perpetual Summer

March 13, 2010 - 3 Responses

Pretty Pomegranate

Have you noticed how hot it has been these past few days? And the short periods of rain do not help. It’s as though the clouds are rationing the amount of rainfall per day. Not enough to provide cool comfort but just enough to make it humid and stuffy. So how do you beat the heat and the humidity?

With ice cream of course! What with the sudden influx of tropical mangoes and passion fruit, I’d decided to make this ice cream that is just infused with the taste of summer to chase away the heat. Without an ice cream maker too!

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Sleepless in Singapore – 200 words and counting..

March 6, 2010 - 3 Responses

Before

To commemorate the beginning of the end, I decided to bake a cake. A coffee sponge cake to be exact, with coffee flavored crème Chantilly covered with mocha ganache enclosed in a fence of cappuccino wafer sticks. Well, you get the picture. I’m prepping myself for a month of little sleep as I attempt to write the longest and most important document of my education.

Not that this cake could even dream of existing for a month. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of coffee. Even during the exam periods, I rather stick to the caffeine in Coke than a cup of coffee. I cannot even stand the strong aroma of coffee wafting out of Starbucks as I walk pass. A whiff is heaven but anything more is torture. Luckily, the cake didn’t turn out too strong (though, you sure can add more coffee if you wish) but the wafer sticks were a tad overbearing. So the pairing worked out in the end.

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My Flat Footed Oreo Macarons

February 28, 2010 - Leave a Response

Leaning Tower of Oreos

After craving for Oreo McFlurry for the past week, I was itching to try making these Oreo macarons by tweaking the previously successful macaron recipe. So I just added two heaping tablespoons of finely crushed Oreo cookies (sieved) to the dry ingredients and crossed my fingers.

Everything was fine. The feet were developing nicely, though the macarons were a tad to close to each other. After the 5th minute, it all went downhill. The feet started to merge! After taking them out of the oven, I realised that the smooth outer shell were to soft and thin. They tasted quite good though with the dark chocolate ganache but I would really like a stronger oreo taste the next time.

I think the problem with this recipe was that the additional dry ingredients made it harder to determine when to stop folding the batter. My batter was probably over-beaten.

So, yep, the macaron mania is still going strong but I think they’ll be a cake coming along in the near future and of course, the matcha macarons. Till then..

Macarons..Attempt Deux

February 19, 2010 - Leave a Response

Today should have been a day spent revising for my midterms next week. Instead, I spent it on my second attempt. The urge to perfect this little dessert is way stronger (and way more entertaining) than the call from my lecture notes.

After conducting further research and watching several videos (in French, all I caught were poudre, amandes, oeuf), I noticed that there was a particular way to folding the macaron mixture. I think they called it Macronnage. The powdered ingredients were added in at least 5 batches and they were just folded and pressed in. I think it is best if you watched the video.

I aged my egg whites overnight (apparently, it ought to be aged for at least 48 hours) and added a pinch of salt while it was beaten. Another important thing is to know when to stop folding. According to several sources, 30-40 folds ought to do it but I lost count after a while. The mix should flow like magma and fall in ribbons.

Since I only have a small convection oven, I baked these babies in 3 batches. Before baking, I left them out on my dining table for 30, 45 and 60 minutes respectively. The surfaces should be dry to the touch. The height of the feet increases with the amount of time left out.

So, I had feet today! I was so ecstatic I was shouting and jumping in front of the oven. My mother didn’t know why I was so excited about feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Macarons..Attempt 1

February 18, 2010 - 4 Responses

Oh those macarons..how enticing they look with their colours and various fillings..

Enticing enough for me to want to try to perfect my recipe.

What with all the various methods to getting good feet, a smooth shell, aged egg whites..I have a feeling that this might take a while.

This is different. Usually, the recipes I attempt yield pretty good results. Mix. Beat. Pour. Bake. Even though there are only a few steps to making these pretty, pretty macarons, getting the perfect macaron is tricky.

On my first attempt, my shells cracked and I didn’t get good feet. The chocolate filling was too thin (though it kinda worked after refrigerating the macarons for a bit). The macarons in the picture were, by some miracle, the product of the last pan I baked.

Therefore, I will not put up the recipe until I perfect it. I’ll be retrying tomorrow. So, if all goes well, they’ll be another post tomorrow.

Till then, any advice will be much appreciated..

Valentine’s Day Treat

February 15, 2010 - Leave a Response

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Valentine’s day!

We had a mini family reunion dinner at my aunt’s place on Saturday and I thought that a light, fresh strawberry mousse cake would please the palate after all the greasy tempura and steamboat.

The supermarkets were crazy packed on Saturday and boy, was I relieved when I saw the last two boxes of strawberries. Sure, I had mangoes at home and they would have worked well too but what was valentine’s day without some pink and chinese new year without some red?

By the time I came back from the supermarket, it was already past noon and I had to leave for my Aunt’s by 5. I was afraid that the cake wouldn’t have time to set.

I was not happy with the cake base  in the end (so I’ll give you another recipe that had worked previously) and I would prefer my mousse to have more strawberries next time but these didn’t seem to bother my family that much. 3/4 of the cake pretty much disappeared before I even took my first bite.

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Someone screamed for ice cream…cake?

February 12, 2010 - One Response

So I celebrated my birthday recently and being me, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to bake. So, I baked my own birthday cake!

However, I didn’t want to spend my day in the hot kitchen, I kinda cheated. I used Betty Crocker’s Fudge Brownie mix and I bought ice-cream from the supermarket. I decided on the brownie mix cause I wanted a cake that wouldn’t “deform” under the weight of the ice cream.

So I baked the brownies a day earlier and left them to cool. Using the same mould as the cake, I made a layer of the vanilla ice cream, cling wrapped it and stored it in the freezer for the next day.

The best part came when it was time to prepare the decorations for the cake.

Melt the chocolates! Using parchment paper, fold them into icing cones and fill the cones with the melted chocolate. Cut off the end and start creating webs on a sheet of parchment paper.

Get the strawberries out and dip them into the chocolate (ensure that you do this last as once water gets into the chocolate, you will not be able to re-melt the chocolate without ruining it).

Refrigerate them and then assemble the cake!

I used whipped cream frosting on the cake and just stuck the chocolate webs on.

Easy but the assembly has to be fast in this hot weather. Or just refrigerate after each step.

Then, slice it up and eat! And, of course forget to take a picture until it’s all melted.

Do Nuts for Doughnuts

February 6, 2010 - Leave a Response

How time flies? It’s already February and I’m in the second month of my last semester. Last semester! As the semester progresses, work is starting to pile up but I’m sure (and hope) my need to bake will not wane.

Was it really 10 years ago when we paid more than $2.50 for a cup of bubble tea? Wasn’t it just 2 years ago that the doughnut craze reignited in Singapore?

I was just reading up on the various food fads here in the last decade and came upon a photograph of a box of a dozen doughnuts. What should I have done then? Run out to the nearest doughnut shop and buy a dozen home? I still had two sachets of the active dry yeast so why not put them to good use? Sure, my doughnut cravings won’t be satiated till 2hrs later but a piping hot doughnut fresh from the pan and rolled in sugar tastes like no other store bought doughnuts.

Doughnuts

Makes a dozen rings plus numerous doughnut balls

Ingredients

1 packet active dry yeast

2 tbsp warm water

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 large egg yolks

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

vegetable oil

Activate yeast by adding dry yeast and 1 tsp sugar over warm water. Stir until yeast dissolves and let stand for 5 minutes. If yeast mixture does not froth, throw it out!

Mix flour, butter, milk, yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast mixture at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed and continue beating for the next 3 minutes.

Scrape down dough from side of bowl into the center, then sprinkle lightly with flour to keep crust from forming.

Cover bowl with clean kitchen towel and let dough rise until doubled in bulk (1 1/2 to 2 hours)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until 1/2 inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible using a doughnut cutter or any round shaped cutter. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet.

Cover doughnuts with kitchen towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Do NOT reroll scraps.

Fry in pan till golden brown and dunk immediately into powdered/caster sugar. Alternatively, prepare a chocolate glaze and cover with almond slices.

The doughnut balls seem to disappear even before the next batch is out of the pan!

Crazy for Cinnamon

January 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

Did you know that cinnamon was once so valued that wars were  fought over it? Neither did I. Here in Singapore, cinnamon is also known as “kayu manis” which literally means sweet wood in Malay. It is more commonly found in the form of cinnamon quills and used often in dishes such as Curry and Black Sauce Chicken.

A bit of cinnamon goes a long way. I love baking with cinnamon as the smell permeates through the house and wafts towards the neighbors and lingers on for hours.

After a week and a half of school, my hands are itching to bake and I thought why not try something new to kick off the new year. Enough with the cakes, cookies and chocolates. I will overcome my fear of yeast and bread (new year’s resolution?) and attempt to bake bread.

This recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Roll was modified from Old Fashioned Favorites. My mom don’t really fancy cinnamon so I had to reduce the quantity of cinnamon by half (Oh, I know..the horror) and the recipe wasn’t really for a roll. It was supposed to result in a loaf of bread, but with a little tweaking, it churned out about a dozen cinnamon raisin rolls. I know it might seem long and tedious (it’s not, really) but the rolls just made it worth the wait. This post has no “work–in-progress” photos cause my hands were too sticky and messy to handle my camera. There will be more in other posts.

Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

Makes about a dozen rolls

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 cup and 1 tsp sugar (keep separated)

1/4 cup warm water

2 eggs

3 cups flour (plus a bit more for kneading and rolling)

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup warm milk

3 tbsp butter (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp water

Activate yeast by adding dry yeast and 1 tsp sugar over warm water. Stir until yeast dissolves and let stand for 5 minutes.

Separate one egg. Refrigerate the white while leaving the yolk aside. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Gradually beat yeast mixture, warm milk and butter into flour at low speed. After the addition, beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to low before adding the whole egg, the separated yolk and vanilla. Increase speed to medium again, beating for a further 2 minutes.

Stir in raisins and about 1 1/2 cups flour with wooden spoon. Turn out dough and knead for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth (3 minutes ought to be sufficient with addition of flour if necessary).

Replace dough into bowl and allow it to rise, covered with a towel for 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease baking tray well. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Roll dough into a 20×9 inch rectangle and brush with 1 tbsp melted butter and sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll up dough starting from the shorter side and pinch seam to seal. Using a bread knife or any other serrated knives, cut approximately 1 inch thick rolls.

Place on baking trays and allow to rise for a further hour.

Preheat oven at 180 degree Celsius.

Brush loaf with egg white mixed with 1 tbsp water. Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy hot from the oven!