Lemon Meringue Tartlets

What got me baking these tartlets?

IMG_6691

One fine day, da man and I checked out a cafe and I thought I should try their famed passionfruit meringue tartlets. After one bite, I found myself unimpressed -the pastry was hard and for the price I paid, I could have a better experience than that. So, I decided to bake the tarts myself.

Commonly, the crusts of tarts are made from pate brisee, pate sucree and pate sablee. However, my kitchen is really warm and I decided to use the graham crackers crust from Miette whose recipes I love. For the lemon curd, I prefer the lighter version and opted for Dorie Greenspan’s. After topping it up with Italian Meringue and torching it, I was truly satisfied. You would have to allow the different parts of the tartlets time to bind the flavours together in order to get its true taste.

A lot of work, yes. But it’s all worth it.

IMG_6697


For Graham Crackers Base
[Adapted from Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop]

100g all-purpose flour
20g wholemeal flour
¼ tsp salt
A scant (⅛ tsp) ground cinnamon
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
55g light brown sugar
1 tbsp honey

1. Sift together both flours, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standmixer (fitted with paddle attachment), combine the butter, brown sugar and honey and beat until fluffy.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating just until combined after each addition. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap/ clingwrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling, or up to 2 days.

Preparation for blind-baking:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough to make the portions you IMG_6718need and pat gently into disks. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough disk into a round about 2mm thick and about 1 inch greater in diameter than the pan you are using. Drape the roller-out dough into the tart pan(s), gently pushing it into the bottom edges and against the pan sides to make a strong and straight shell. Trim the edges and against the pan sides. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer to form up for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 C.

To fully blind-bake the shell, line the shells with parchment paper and weight with dried rice, dried beans or pie weights. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

IMG_6684

Lemon curd
[Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table]

1 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
about ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4-5 lemons)
112g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (off-heat), whisk the sugar and the eggs together until blended. Whisk in the corn syrup and lemon juice and then drop in the chunks of butter.

2. Put the saucepan over medium heat and start whisking, taking care to work the whisk into the edges of the pan. If your whisk is too big to clean the edges of the pan, switch to a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula. Keep heating and whisking the mixture without stop. After about 6 to 8 minutes, you’ll notice the curd starting to thicken- it won’t be very thick, but the change is easily perceptible. When the curd is thickened, and most important, you see a bubble or two burble to the surface and then pop immediately, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Scrape the curd into a heatproof bowl or a canning jar or two. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal, and let the curd cool to room temperature (it will thicken slightly as it cools). Chill before serving. The curd will keep up to three weeks, refrigerated.

Italian meringue
[Makes about 4 cups]

1 ½ cups caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¼ cup water
3 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a small saucepan. Stir the sugar to dissolve and begin to heat it over medium-low. Have a heatproof measuring cup sitting nearby.

2. Put the egg whites and vanilla in a standmixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup reaches 115C, immediately pour it into the measuring cup to prevent it from getting hotter. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, aiming for the side of the bowl rather than the whisk. When all the syrup is added, turn the mixer to medium high and whisk until the icing becomes thick and holds a firm peak, about 10 minutes in total. Do not continue to beat or the icing will become too thick to spread and pipe.

Linking up with

This week in pics

Monday, there was fellowship lunch with the ladies from BSF. I was truly encouraged by their heartfelt sharing about their lives and how God is working in their situations. Praise be to the Lord!

IMG_6651

Tuesday, da man took leave and spent the day with moi and child! Thank God for that! I love it when I have help and even more when we could spend time as a family. So, we decided to check out Gymboree but decided against it as the location is far from ours. Visited Kki at last and had my fill of their oh-so-lovely cakes!

IMG_6681

Wednesday, went to purchase ingredients before the baking class on Friday. The more I bake, the more things I learn. And there is yet so much stuff out here that I do not know! Feeling overwhelmed! Here was lunch, unagi rice burger served in such a manner. Bad idea ‘cos it got messy!

IMG_6701

Thursday, I finally got to meet my mom’s cousin who is a homebaker for more than 30 years. I felt a tad intimidated by her, this baking giant. She was making mooncakes and served us some. Though she has baked for so long, testing and revising recipes over the years, she still wants to learn and asked me to to go for baking classes with her if there are good ones available. Woohoo!

IMG_6703

Friday, I conducted a baking lesson for 20 people. It turned out…messy! Okay, I’m not used to teaching so many people and to complete 3 recipes in 3 hours is a challenge. On my own, it is definitely achievable but for those who are new to baking, it could be a challenge. So the lesson dragged on and I felt bad for the participants. Lesson learnt: Must insist on the number of recipes that I think is achievable for them. It was tiring but highly rewarding, in my opinion, because I love doing such things. When you see the happy faces, your exhaustion vanishes. But now, I need a break. :p Oh! And with this, I have completed one of the to-do list in my 30 stuff!

IMG_6707

IMG_6697

IMG_6722

IMG_6736

IMG_6723

IMG_6726

The end of it all and more to come!

Kith @ Robertson Quay

We have heard good stuff about Kith so da man and I decided to visit the cafe for ourselves. There are three branches – Robertson Quay, Park Mall and Sentosa Cove – and we chose the first because we saw from a website beautiful pictures of this branch. There is even a play area for kids and Faith would like it!

How disappointed we were.20130823-062859.jpg

The seemingly ‘big’ play space that we saw from the picture turns out to be just a space outside the shop. The cafe itself is small and cannot accommodate any tables; you can only take your orders. The tables and chairs are found along the corridor and the space outside the shop, giving it an alfresco setting which is nice.

Thankfully, the service and coffee were good. The breakfast that we had was okay, not excellent, but all right. I was expecting more but I guess I have pitched my expectations to be a tad high. Come to think of it, maybe I ordered the wrong stuff?

Another plus point about Kith is that they open very early – 7am – and perhaps this is the reason why there were so many families around when we reached. It’s a nice place to chill despite the limited seating. We were just wondering what would happen if it rains.

Kith cafe

Kith cafe

Play area for kids

Play area for kids

Alfresco setting

Alfresco setting

Ham & cheese croissant & latte

Ham & cheese croissant & latte

Da man's big breakfast. Not too exciting, I regret to say.

Da man’s big breakfast. Not too exciting, I regret to say.

Faith got to play for a while. Hello, my friend!

Faith got to play for a while. Hello, my friend!

This is a family-friendly cafe indeed. There are boxes of toys and books for kids to get busy with. If you are not too concerned about cleanliness, the kids can just play by themselves as you sip a cup of coffee with your pals.

Kith @ Watermark
Robertson Quay
7 Rodyk Street
#01-33
7am – 7pm

Linking up with

Faith @ 9 months old

Dear Faith

You turned 9 months old a couple of days ago and it has been an eventful month, at least for your mama.

Socially, I do think you like to play and be around with friends around your age. The teachers at the infant class in BSF have been telling me that you refuse to take a nap and love to play. One of them commented that you didn’t want to miss out on the fun, is that right? You seem to have integrated well into the class now and the teachers sing praises of you but please do learn to take a break when the occasion calls for it?

IMG_5947

Playing with cousin Lester

The other day when you and little Samuel were placed in the play area, you turned energetic all of a sudden (@ 9pm) and started crawling around and reaching out to him. Were you trying to sayang or hit him? Mama couldn’t really tell. I would have loved to let you play with him and figure out your friendship with him on your own but well, I’m just afraid you will hurt him physically. Oh well…

Physically, you are really active. You are so curious about a lot of things and you just keep exploring! So, Mama has been really busy too, looking out for you. You love danger zones, like the fans, cables and the drying rack. You are also trying to catch my attention by purposely reaching out for them. Many times, I have caught you looking at me before you pull the dangerous stuff. Why would you want to test Mama’s limits?

Danger zone!

Danger zone!

Standing confidently. Oh no!

Standing confidently. Oh no!

In terms of your diet, Mama has introduced you to broccoli, potato and peach for this month. You don’t seem to like broccoli but I hope you know that Mama will not stop giving you that just because you don’t like it. Broccoli is good for you! Well, as expected, you like junk commercial food. I started giving you those ‘Wang Wang’ balls and you love them. You also those Heinz finger biscuits which your Aunty bought for you. Mama is just trying to get you to learn how to bite but well, I think I should get you to chew on meat instead.

IMG_6076

Big appetite for little snacks

In the middle of August, something happened to you and there was one night which you just screamed your head off and couldn’t be put down to sleep at all. You cried rather hysterically and Mama and Papa wondered what had happened to you. Mama had to carry you to sleep. During those weeks, you woke up many times in the middle of the night which was unlike you. We were baffled and thought you might have been affected by something. Mama and Papa were so tired and Papa actually felt sick due to a lack of rest. Thankfully, you returned to your usual sleeping patterns last week and we thanked the Lord for that! Now, it seems that your nap times are at 10am and 3pm for about 1.5 hours each. Hopefully, that will sustain.

Bye bye!

Bye bye!

Linguistically, I think you know the meaning of bye-bye and accompanied that phrase with the relevant action. Good job! It’s such a funny sight seeing you do that! Oh, you have been rather loud these days. Who are you calling out to? You don’t have to scream, you know?

Recently, you develop a running nose and we are waiting it out to see if you can recover on your own. Overall, we are just thankful that you are growing well in all aspects. Great job!

20130822-171304.jpg

Stay happy and healthy!

Stay happy and healthy!

Wordless Wednesday | Busy bees

These are made for an upcoming cake order.

They kind of reminded me that though we can be busy as them, we should take conscious effort to rest so that we can be recharged.

20130821-070337.jpg

Linking up with

Fisher-Price® Early Learning Fund

Dear parents, we have good news!

Fisher-Price®’s much anticipated campaign – The Early Learning Fund – is back!

‘Play’ & ‘Toys’ are two words not conventionally associated with learning for our children. However, child psychologists have long recognized that toys are a catalyst for impactful, interactive learning with our child and can bring about meaningful learning opportunities at every age. In a bid to promote meaningful playtime between parents and children, FisherPrice® unravels their 2013 Early Learning Fund.

20130819-125601.jpg

The Early Learning Fund campaign is aimed at helping parents give their children a head-start
in life and Fisher-Price® has kicked it off with a five-month promotion to give parents the chance to win a S$10,000 cash scholarship when they purchase Fisher-Price® toys.

By purchasing any Mattel Fisher-Price® product that is $20 or above (excluding Thomas & Friends) and submitting the accompanying receipt, photo and completed form, contestants stand a chance to win a Grand S$10,000 Cash Prize or be among 20 Weekly Draw Winners to walk away with a Learning Hamper worth $1,000!

Weekly Draw – Learning Hamper

20130819-125224.jpg

For the 20 weeks leading up to November 30th, any contestant who submits an entry for the Early Learning Fund stands a chance to walk away with a Learning Hamper worth over S$1,000.

Grand Prize – S$10,000 Cash of Early Learning Fund

On 16th December 2013, a winner will be picked for the Grand S$10,000 Cash Prize, of which WeeklyDraw Winners are also eligible. The Winner for the Grand Prize will be published on The Straits Times on Monday 23rd December 2013.

Do visit the Joy of Learning website for more details on how you can participate!

*Faith receives a Fisher-Price® toy to add to her expanding collection of ‘playmates’.

Cake pops and babyface cupcakes

It really stemmed from boredom (doesn’t equate to being free), boredom from the mundane of my daily routine that I thought of baking cupcakes for my small group that comes over every Saturday evening for Bible Study and Fellowship. After the cupcake base was baked, I took a step further to hone my fondant skills and thus these babyface cupcakes were born.

20130819-082227.jpg

These are the equipment that you need.

These are the equipment that you need.

With the remaining cupcake base, I decided to make cake pops for the kids in my small group. Why didn’t I think of that?

20130819-082203.jpg

First line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Then place milk or white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally just until melted. Crumble the cake into the melted chocolate, and stir until well mixed. The proportion of milk chocolate to cake crumble is 1:2.

20130819-082300.jpg 20130819-082313.jpg

Then roll the mixture into balls, each about as large as a golf ball or smaller, depending on the size you desire. Insert a lollipop stick into each ball and place on the lined baking sheet (I use a plate) and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. I leave it in the fridge overnight until I’m ready to make the chocolate coating.

20130819-082329.jpg 20130819-082239.jpg

To make the chocolate coating, place {milk} chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally just until melted. Remove from the heat and if you want to add colours, now is a good time.

Remove the cake pops from the fridge and dip each one into the chocolate coating and insert into a styrofoam board/cup so that you can have a perfectly round shape. Before the coating sets on the cake pops, I roll them in sprinkles (whatever you have). I had wanted to decorate using royal icing but in the end, laziness took over. ;P

Foodie Fridays | Sinpopo Brand

Anyone knows what Sinpopo Brand is?

A search on the Internet reveals that it used to be the name of a notorious nightclub along Tanjong Katong Road but now, it is an eatery along Joo Chiat Road. What makes this eatery stands out (in my opinion) are its decor which evokes memories of yesteryear and the old Chinese songs that my parents could identify with.

20130816-174347.jpg

20130816-174400.jpg

Do you still remember this television?

20130816-174406.jpg

You make your orders here but look, the clock and the calendar!

IMG_5738 IMG_5737

The menu comprises local delicacies such as chicken curry, nasi lemak, ngoh hiang and the like. I wish to give stellar review about the food but I find them too salty for my liking. Having said that, I do like their drinks and desserts.

IMG_5736 IMG_2231

20130816-174417.jpg

 My sister and I went back the second time, the latter to bring my parents to enjoy the songs that they so like. Oh yes, kids get a bowl of biscuits, compliments of Sinpopo Brand!

My conclusion: Even if the food is lackluster and non too outstanding, go for the ambience and some singing good times. Your folks will thank you for that.

IMG_2233

Sinpopo Brand
458 Joo Chiat Road
6345 5034
Opens 12pm to 10pm (Sun to Thu), 12pm to 12am (Fri, Sat, PH Eve), closed Mon

Linking up with

Thankful Thursday

It is said that it takes a whole village to bring up a child. In my case, it is true and boy, am I glad that my folks are ever so willing to lend a helping hand. This post is dedicated to them and to remind myself that I do have an awesome family.

Being a SAHM, I find it easy to be sucked into a world that constitutes just you and your child. Going out can be troublesome and at times, the easy solution is to stay at home. Which if you are not careful, you can slip into depression.

Enter assistance from the family.

For a few weeks, my in-laws have been coming to our place on Sunday to spend time with Faith. They pack food and we have lunch together. Faith will then be entertained by them for a good few hours which is a good break for the hubs and I. I could do some leisure baking while da man rests. My father-in-law helps us iron our clothes too. Okay, I’m rather embarrassed to disclose this because I feel we should be responsible for our own chores and to get an elderly man do our work is just terrible of us. However, I also recognise the fact that he wants to help us and in the end, let him do it.

IMG_6240 IMG_6241
IMG_6245 IMG_6248

Everyone’s happy, I guess.

My sister-in-law is an amazingly patient and loving lady who’s able to get the chuckles out from the little girl. How sweet!

And then, there’s my family.

My dad. Oh, how I have misunderstood him. I have always thought that he doesn’t know how to take care of children but how wrong I am. In fact, he is even better than my mom, I feel (or perhaps that’s because he has more time than my mum). He plays with Faith with such childlikeness, feeds her with much patience and pats her to sleep. It’s a loving sight to behold.

IMG_5406 IMG_5408

My sister and brother-in-law? They love children. It’s so obvious through their actions. The BIL takes every opportunity to talk to Faith, play with her and educate her. My sister, she’s the same as her hubs.

1017591_10151581957232444_1835108904_n

My family celebrating Dallen’s birthday

And then, there is my auntie-in-law who loves to cook for us. And I have the utmost privilege of learning how to cook those delicious Peranakan dishes from her. How blessed I am.

IMG_6212

Should I forget about this, can any one of you remind me pls?
Thank you in advance.

 

Fisher-Price® wants YOU as their Play Ambassador!

Little kids love to play, explore and use their imagination!

As parents, we know it is important to follow our child’s lead, to guide and facilitate that desire for play.

Fisher-Price® believes that interactive playtime becomes a more well-rounded learning advantage for your growing child when it involves not just your child and his/her toys but YOU as well. Perhaps it’s time to re-think children’s play and join Fisher-Price® as its Play Ambassadors!

20130813-101657.jpg

What does it mean to be a Fisher-Price® Play Ambassador?

As Play Ambassador, you will have to share with the audience on any social media platforms (twitter,
instagram, blogs etc) how you are encouraged to help your child play with FisherPrice® toys. You should also share how your child is learning and enjoying while you play with them.

Fisher-Price® will guide you on this journey of impactful and interactive learning with $5,000 worth of Fisher-Price® products based on the age of your child. From time to time, Fisher-Price® Play Ambassador moms will also receive different products for reviews where you can even host play dates with family and friends to share the Fisher-Price® experience. After such play dates, it is encouraged that you reflect about how it went and actively share about your experience as well as what your family and friends have to say about Fisher-Price® products on your social media sites.

In addition, ambassadors will be on featured interviews across various television/print/digital media to talk about the Fisher-Price® Play Ambassador programme and their Fisher-Price® playing journey.

How to participate?

To participate, send a photo of you and your child with a slogan on why you want to become a
Fisher-Price® Play Ambassador to: Fisher-Price.Singapore@mattel.com

Expectant mothers are also more than welcome to participate! Send in your entry any time from now to 15th August 2013 and selected candidates will be notified via email on 31st August 2013. Fisher-Price® will be selecting 2 local Play Ambassadors.

*For Singapore readers only.

A family outing to S.E.A. Aquarium

It is really rare that my siblings are back at the same time and when that happens, you bet we will take the opportunity to go out as a family, sans my father who has to go for his dialysis treatment and the hubs who has to work (and couldn’t take leave that day).

It was a Tuesday and before we set off, we went to our uncle’s noodle stall to have our breakfast. It’s tiring having meals with the kids and our outing had not even begun!

IMG_5954 IMG_5963

After breakfast, it’s time to set off! Since we have quite a number of people, we had to travel in two cars. We have decided to park at Vivocity since we would be going back there for dinner and it’s a surprise $12 for parking from about 10am to 8pm!

IMG_5967

The troop marching in…

IMG_5978 IMG_5995
It’s a mighty hot day that day and it’s best to have your shades and hats on!

Although it was a Tuesday, there were a lot of visitors, both locals and tourists. I’ll tell you what we did when we were in the aquarium. For my sister and BIL who have two boys, they really were amazed by the fishes and went ‘whoah’ the whole time. For my elder bro, SIL and I who have young kids, we were just busy feeding the kiddos and wheeling the prams, making sure to avoid crushing the feet of others since it was dark in there.

IMG_2124

IMG_2119

IMG_2114

I’m thankful for my sis and BIL who are very enthusiastic in educating the young ones, like Faith, and telling her about the various fishes we saw. Good job!

IMG_6009I must say the underwater world is really amazing and colourful, no doubt!

IMG_6033

For lunch, we popped by here for some Malaysian local food. Sedap!

While you think that the highlight is the visit to the S.E.A. aquarium, I think it is the waterplay near the beach that captures the hearts of our little ones. The children went crazy playing with the water and little Faith joined the cousins too. I was at first worried about how she might take to it and feared that she would drink the water but oh well, just let her play! I can’t shield her from everything! Faith did enjoy herself. 🙂

IMG_2141

IMG_2150

www.picasion.com

It was definitely a fun trip albeit a tiring one. My brother and her family have gone back to SH and a week later, my sister and her family to Indo. Faith will surely miss the company of her cousins.

A birthday cake for Lester

Our family celebrated the birthday of one of my nephews with a birthday cake, baked by the resident baker, yours truly. It was a simple cake because there is no point making a elaborated one since the family has gotten tired of eating what I bake (sad). The easiest and tastiest cake I can think of is Nigella Lawson’s Devil’s Food Cake. This cake can be baked in the morning and assembled from afternoon onwards.

In baking chocolate cake, there is no greater crime than using poor quality chocolates. For this cake, I used valrhona’s covertures (72%) and cocoa powder. The figurine was made a few days back since it has to be dried. I surrounded the figurine with digestive biscuits, making it look like sandpit since I hope Lester will enjoy his childhood! For the border, I used Wilton grass tip No. 233.

20130811-211817.jpg

While it takes not too long to bake the cake, the chocolate ganache takes a long time to reach a desired state for frosting ( I didn’t put it in the fridge to quicken the process). This time round, the whole amount of ganache was used in covering the cake. Decadent indeed.

20130811-211807.jpg

The various pieces to be assembled.

I did have fun designing and baking these cakes.
Now, I need more brave souls to allow me to bake for their birthdays.
Anyone?

MT Masking Tape Exhibition (S’pore)

“So, what are you going to do for this long weekend?” my hubs’ colleague asked him.

“We are going to a masking tape exhibition,” the hubs replied.

“What?”

Masking tape exhibition.”

“Masking tape?”

wtposter

Yup, you’ve heard right. The MT Masking Tape (Washi tape) is holding an exhibition at Ion Art (Level 4) until 11 August. I’m not a fan of masking tape but after seeing the beautiful tapes, I have to go and dragged my family (my hubs, Faith and I) to go for some fun at the expo.

 IMG_6147 IMG_6082

We were the first to arrive and I was overwhelmed with excitement. I transformed into a little girl instantly, going ga-ga over those cute tapes. After putting a few rolls of tapes into the basket, the hubs came over and asked, “Do you know how much they cost?”

Yes, of course I do. Well, they are expensive for tapes but yours truly knows what she is getting into and her hubs just let her be.

IMG_6123 IMG_6126
IMG_6094 IMG_6129

Besides the pop-up store where you can browse the many colourful tapes and Singapore-themed limited edition ones, there is also a station where you can try out the tapes on a box (provided) or things that you bring along. I had wanted to decorate a rather big (ok, medium-sized) box that I brought along but felt a tad embarrassed to use so much of the tapes and in the end, ceased my attempt.

IMG_6092

IMG_6093

There are two gacha gacha machines at the end of this table and I had a try at it. If your gacha gacha (I suppose it’s the egg-like thing) has a brown paper in it, you get to choose one washi tape from the counter. And I got lucky!

IMG_6101 IMG_6105

IMG_6148

Besides the gacha-gacha and the craft corner, kids can also entertain themselves in these cute little houses!

IMG_6110

IMG_6131

So what can we do with washi tapes? Perhaps these pictures will give you some ideas?

IMG_6107 IMG_6112
IMG_6113 IMG_6114
IMG_6115 IMG_6116
IMG_6118 IMG_6117

I can’t resist getting my hands on some of these tapes and went home poorer by some tens of dollars. I can’t wait for Faith to grow up and join me in some craftwork!

IMG_6171

IMG_6154

If you spend more than $50, you could get this bag free!
Do pop by and enjoy yourself!
Till 11 Aug 2013.

A custom-made cake : hits and misses

20130807-135207.jpg

When a friend asked me if I would take up the challenge to bake a cake for his 5-year-old boy, I agreed rather readily. His request: A cake in the form of Captain America’s shield. No fondant. At least 2kg. To feed about 20 people.

Captain America? Who on earth is that?

And, thanks to google, I got the idea and came up with a draft.

20130807-145745.jpg

20130807-135228.jpg 20130807-135241.jpg

The actual work started a few days before the birthday celebration. I would be using 2 cake boards – one for the cake, the other as a background. The square board is to be covered with fondant with the wordings in blue. And then, the drying process begins.

20130807-135303.jpg 20130807-135322.jpg

I had originally wanted to do a vanilla sponge cake with various colours (red, blue, white) but the daddy thought that the kids would not appreciate such an effort and so I stuck with the original. I thought the cake slicer and the lifter are of great use. It certainly makes life easier for me!

Another thing that I found out is that my mixer cannot do a good job in making a 10-inch cake batter; it overflows! So, now I know. The cake batter has to be divided to be baked in the oven as it certainly will overflow due to the rising agent.

20130807-135337.jpg 20130807-135358.jpg

So, a fondant cake is NOT welcome and the better choice would be buttercream. I do not want to use royal icing as it will be too sweet for the kids. Of the 3 types of buttercream, I chose to do Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC) as it is the most stable and can withstand our tropical humid weather. Thankfully, I had learnt this method during my baking course at CSCA so it wasn’t that foreign. Having said that, I still did it with much trepidation. Thankfully, it was a success and the next step is to moisten the cake with sugar syrup.

20130807-135415.jpg 20130807-135427.jpg
20130807-135442.jpg 20130807-135450.jpg

It’s a breeze covering the cake with IMBC. To make things easier for me, I use a special big tip to help me with the sides of the cake. Definitely easier. Reminder to self though: don’t be stingy with the buttercream. I had the tendency to ration the use of it and then in the end, realised that I had so much left. Spread more!

Crumb coat was done!

20130807-135511.jpg 20130807-135521.jpg

Next is the design. So I do not own a compass to draw circles and have to rely on whatever circular stuff that I could get hold of. After that, piping gel was used to trace the design and to transfer it onto the cake. Please don’t ask me why I used a dark colour. I really do not know what had gotten to me to use such a colour. I SHOULDN’T!

After that, it was all about piping – stars and circles. Testing of skills.

If I am to bake another cake again, I’ll make sure that I will make myself free the day before collection. As I had a family outing, I had to place the cake in the refrigerator but when I took it out , there was condensation and it doesn’t really look too good on a cake with IMBC.

IMG_2162

I learnt and hope that you won’t make the same mistake as I.

IMG_2172

😉

Faith @ 8th month

picasion.com_4716cabef2a988e93cfea21030dd6b23

Okay, so I’m late in reporting Faith’s development. It is now already 2 weeks into her eighth month but oh, a lot of stuff has been happening!

IMG_5643I think the greatest milestone for this month is her ability to crawl. Faith has been practising that pose for some time but couldn’t really figure out how to crawl until one fine day, viola!, it makes sense to her. She is still not good at it but at least she is able to make good, small steps towards this particular area of development.

As she grows, she needs more space to explore and we have shifted her play area from her room to the living room which is designated to be our reading corner as well. A bigger mat was bought and Faith is able to play on her own without having anyone around her ALL the time. Well, when she gets bored with the toys, that is another story. in the play area, she is also able to learn her crawling stunts and then as she crawls and explores, she puts whatever stuff that she can find into her mouth! Oh no!

IMG_5628

Besides crawling, Faith loves to stand and gets excited when we pull her up and guides her to walk. A little too soon for her but let’s just see how she progresses as the weeks pass.

IMG_5659

With all these new skills that she is learning, Faith gets all too excited, so much so that she wants to practise them even during sleeping time. She refuses to nap and it takes really LONG and a lot of effort for us to get her to take a LITTLE nap. Then at night, she wakes up 2 to 4 times! When we reach her room, she is already sitting up, waiting for us. Thankfully, after giving her some milk, she goes back to sleep. My dark eye rings are getting worse.

I think Faith really likes company. Thankfully, her cousins are back and she loves hanging out with the boys. I should really send her to some playgroup soon!

IMG_5705[Credit: Yvonne]

Pasarbella

There was much hype about this new wholesome market located at The Grandstand and I finally made my way there long after its opening.

IMG_5427

So, I thought it would be a market that is in the open, much like the farmers’ markets that I know. It isn’t, apparently. This market comes with a shelter.

It was in the afternoon that I went with my friends and thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of people. Business was tardy and the scene rather lifeless, far from what I have expected. The fact that the whole place is rather dark (dim) doesn’t help.

IMG_5414 IMG_5415IMG_5413 IMG_5429

So, you have retailers such as cafes, organic foodstores, florists in the premise. My friends and I settled for our teatime at Dutch Colony Coffee Co. for the much-needed caffeine.

IMG_5422

IMG_5418

So, there you have it. Nothing too exciting at this place but I love the quirky quotes on the wall though.

IMG_5416

Erm…not this.

IMG_5431 IMG_5417

but these…

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.

FFWD | Tzatziki

What’s that?

You might ask.

I asked the same question.

Tzatziki [pronounce Zat-ZEE-key] is actually a yogurt-based (best is greek yogurt – 2 cups) blend of cucumbers, fresh herbs (in this case, dill and mint), lemon juice, garlic and a little olive oil. According to Dorie, this is a recipe that is very low in calories although it tastes rich.

20130802-184152.jpg

20130802-184202.jpg

Tzatziki should be served cold and simply. It’s often served as a dip for raw vegetables and is good with crackers, thick toasted country bread or sandwich.

20130802-184137.jpg 20130802-184145.jpg

I spread it on my croissant.

Refreshing and heavenly. I’ll have it for breakfast again tomorrow.

This is a weekly attempt at French food via French Fridays with Dorie. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us?

Linking up with

A visit to Blue House

IMG_5706

Yesterday, I attended a sharing on Positive Parenting for the Under 3s by Ms Shona Sanosi, the co-founder of Blue House International School. My main aim, however, was to have a look at the school environment. Nope, I would not enrol Faith in this school as the fees are exorbitant but I’m more interested in their Reggio Emilia approach to teaching.

IMG_5707

The school is located near Turf city and I thought I could pop by Pasarbella for a bite after that. After parking, I was greeted by this signboard which set me thinking, “Hmm…seems like a nice school!” I don’t think I have seen such a signboard in local preschools. Perhaps I’m just ignorant.

As I walked towards the building and entered it, I had a peek into their classrooms which are shielded by glass windows. They are much like the classrooms in the private school which I had interned in Boston. The rooms were neat and inviting and I couldn’t help stopping by each room to have a hard look at it. *Cosy feel*

IMG_5703

1012456_567066106685281_1116735382_n[Credits]

Leaving the premise, I posed myself these questions, “What kind of preschool would I enrol Faith in?”, “What are the important criterion that I’m looking for?”, “Would I want to homeschool Faith if I have the capacity to do so?”

*Need to reflect.

Cheesecake overdose

IMG_2091

I’ve had enough of cheesecake for now.

You see, a few weeks ago, a friend has asked me to bake a strawberry cheesecake to celebrate her hubs’ birthday. I agreed readily since I have baked it before. However, this time round, because I would be paid for baking that cake, I jolly well do a good job and make sure that the cheesecake delights rather than disappoint.

There are a few specifics. My friend wanted a 6-inch cake and with big juicy strawberries. The cake must be rich as well since her hubs are all into indulgence of the calories.

Therein lies the problem. Many recipes that I come across are designed for 9-inch cakes with few for 6-inch. So, I would have to come up with one for this custom-made cheesecake. Another problem that I have is I don’t own a 6-inch springform pan (I have 7-inch and 9-inch) so I would have to improvise (couldn’t get a 6-inch one in time).

IMG_5741

Basically, I took 3 days to come up with one recipe that I could be pleased with. This cake has to be at least 2 inches tall and filled with the cheesy flavour. So you could imagine how much stuff is packed in. In one of the recipes that I tested, I put in cut strawberries (sprinkled with flour) into the main batter but because they are moist, they don’t give the effect that I want. Then I thought of swirls but discarded the idea eventually as my artwork isn’t that stellar.

After two failed (according to my standard) attempts and a stomach filled with cheesecake slices, I managed to bake the ideal ones for my friend. Hopefully the hubs will like it.

IMG_5654

This is the adapted miette‘s version. It’s rather light which is good for the weight-watchers. However, a rich cheesecake is called for so this won’t do.

IMG_5672

It’s best to bake cheesecake in a springform pan. Since I couldn’t get hold of a 6-inch one in time, I used a cake pan with a removable base. The result is uneven sides as depicted in the first picture. ;( But otherwise, I didn’t encounter cracks for this cheesecake.

IMG_5745

As I delivered the cakes (she ordered two) to my friend each of more than 1kg, I could at last heave a sign of relief. No more cheesecakes for now! But I shouldn’t really get a 6-inch springform pan with the money collected from the cakes. To more baking adventures!

Cheesecake topped with strawberries
Yields a six-inch cake

190g digestive biscuits
50g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar

2 blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup sour cream/ heavy cream (I did a combination)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

PREHEAT oven to 180°C (middle rack). Mix digestive biscuit crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press firmly onto bottom and up the side of pan; set aside.

IMG_5667

BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream/heavy cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour into crust.

BAKE 1 hour 10 min or until center is almost set. Turn oven off. Open oven door slightly. Let cheesecake set in oven 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from oven; cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight (better). Loosen cheesecake from rim of pan; remove rim. Top cheesecake with strawberries just before serving. Pour a little heated strawberry jam over the fruits.

IMG_5750