Gluten Free Banana Coconut Bread 

What do you do when you have a bunch of bananas on the kitchen countertop and they look like they needed to be consumed that very day?


Use them in baking! I’ve decided to bake an almost gluten free banana coconut bread with them. I say ‘almost’ because I didn’t have the gluten free baking powder and have to use the normal one.

Ingredients (serves 12)
(Recipe adapted from CocoRoselle)

400g ripe banana
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
60ml coconut oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp (gluten free) baking powder
70g coconut flour
20g chia seed

Depending on your preference, I added pine nuts into the batter. I also love to add pecan nuts or walnuts for that extra bit of crunch.

:: Preheat oven to 170C

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:: Combine banana, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and baking powder into a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.


:: Add the coconut flour and chia seeds and mix through.
:: Rest for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds and coconut flour to expand.
:: Lightly oil one loaf tin and then line with baking paper. I used the silicon one and didn’t have to do that.


:: Spoon batter into the tin. At this stage, you can decorate the bread with flaked coconut or sliced banana before baking.
:: Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Cover the top with foil if it is over browning. I used a bit more time as I find that the centre part remains moist. Timing varies from oven to oven.

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:: Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.


So I’m not quite used to consuming gluten free products even though I know it’s supposed to be better for our body. I think I need time to appreciate the taste which is a bit different from the usual banana bread that I made. Faith, however, likes it, much to my surprise.

Won’t you try it and let me know if it suits your tastebuds?

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Yuzu Raspberry Madeleines

Apart from cookies, muffins and cupcakes, I consider madeleines to be one of the easier sweet treats to bake. The ingredients can be commonly found in the supermarket and if you bake often, they form the basic ones that you should have in your pantry. Madeleines happen to be Faith’s favourite treats and she asked for them the other day. My response?

“You have to work for it.” By that, I mean she had to help out in the baking process. 😉


You know I like Yuzu and I thought of pairing Yuzu flavour with raspberries. Faith doesn’t like to eat the fruit but I can certainly hide them in the madeleines, yes? And our little helpers could definitely crack eggs, sift flour, pour the batter into the baking tray and inserting the raspberries into the batter in each mould. Let them help!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
110g raw sugar
50ml organic soy milk
175g all purpose flour/organic unbleached flour
1 1/2tsp baking powder
200g melted butter
1/2 tbsp Yuzu tea syrup

(yields 20 madeleines)

1. Preheat the oven to 230C. If you are using a metal madeleine tray, lightly butter and flour the tray.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and milk until well combined. Whisk in the sifted flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth, but don’t over-work the mixture as this will develop gluten in the flour and toughen the madeleines. Add in the yuzu  tea syrup and whisk in the melted butter.

3. Fill each scallop-shaped mould of the tray to half or at most 2/3 full. Insert a raspberry into each individual mould.

4. Bake for 8 minutes in the oven or until golden brown. You may want to turn the tray 180 degrees halfway through the baking.

The madeleines are good eaten on the day itself though they are good eaten the next day too.

Gingerbread cookies

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It seems that the images of gingerbread cookies would pop up each time I went into IG or FB and this spur me to bake my own gingerbread cookies. It was timely too since I have just read The Gingerbread Man story to Faith and I had wanted to have a baking session that is related to the story.

I only know one recipe for such a cookie and that is from Dorie Greenspan. Her speculoos’ recipe is awesome and I know I will not need to look any further. Speculoos are crisp brown-sugar cookies whose predominant spice is cinnamon. Eating them will definitely make you think of Christmas.

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This recipe yields about 24 large cookies and the rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour20151221_081308
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 98g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

2. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until it, too, is blended into the butter and sugars. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal. Using your hands or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to get rid of any dry spots.

3. Divide the dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper until you have a circle that’s about ¼ inch thick. As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t have rolling creases in the dough. Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days)

4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Choose a cookie cutter and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (or 12 minutes in my case for large cookies), or until they are lightly golden and brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
7. Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.
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I got the little girl to decorate the gingerbread man using sprinkles after I have piped the border using Royal Icing. While in the midst of doing it, the baby decided to poo BIG time and I had to leave the job to Faith while I bathed him. When I came back, she had taken the piping bag and piped on two cookies.
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These are her creation.
A piece of art, I must say. ;p
I will get her to do a better job next year.

[Foodie Friday] Hokkaido Milk Bread

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The other day I was shopping at the supermarket at I12 and saw packets of Hokkaido milk for sale. My first thought was to use it to bake the Hokkaido Milk Bread and it was weeks later that I got to bake it.

This recipe is taken from the video above and it uses the Tang Zhong method which promises a soft bread texture. I used about 250g of the bread dough to make red bean buns since Faith and I love red bean anything. This time round, I used the paste from the can but the next time I bake them, I’ll make sure to make it from scratch.

For the Tangzhong
250ml water
75g all purpose flour

For bread dough
375g all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast (2.5 tsp)
125ml Hokkaido Milk
1 egg
145g tangzhong
3 tablespoons butter, melted

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1.    To prepare the tangzhong.  In a medium heat pan, combine water and flour mixture until it thickens like a paste.  Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

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2.    To prepare the dough, sieve the flour and combine with sugar, salt, and yeast in the mixer bowl.  In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and add the milk, butter to the egg and whisk to combine.

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3.    Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.  Using the dough hook, mix for 1 minute.  Add 145g (1/2cup) of the tangzhong and continue to mix until a dough is formed. The texture should be smooth and sticky. Store the remaining amount of TangZhong in the refrigerator for at most 3 days.

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4.    Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to proof until double the size, about 1 hour.

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5.    Sprinkle some flour on the counter surface.  My dough weighs about 780g and I set aside 250g of the dough for my red bean buns. Divide the remaining dough into 4 equal pieces and use a circular motion to shape them into balls.

6.    Using a rolling pin, roll dough into an oval shape disk about 1cm thick, fold the edges to the middle and roll again into 1cm thick.  Roll to form a tube like shape

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7.    Place 4 rolls seam side down into an oiled loaf pan. I used a silicon one.

8.    Let it rise again until double in shape for another 30 minutes to an hour.

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9.    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Do an egg wash on the surface of the dough and bake the loaf for about 15-20 minutes in total.  When you see that the loaf turns golden brown, cover the bread with foil to prevent over-browning.

10.    When the bread is ready, let it cool for 5 minutes and shake it off the pan and place it on the cooling rack.

For the red bean buns, I weigh five 50g bread dough and roll them into balls. Thereafter, I divide the can of red bean paste into 5 portions. Each ball of dough is flattened and then the red bean paste is wrapped inside it. Then put it into the muffin pan with the seam side down.

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Bake the red bean buns together with the Hokkaido Milk Bread for the same amount of time.

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A word of caution though. Look at the bun that has ‘exploded’? That’s because I put too much red bean paste in it. And you are right. I didn’t divide the paste properly so when it came to the last bun, I tried to stuff as much paste as possible. ;(

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The Milk Bread is truly soft!
Try it when you are free.
😉

Coconut bread roll

Last week, my friend, T, invited us to her place and got the little ones to help with baking bread roll. I must say it was fun and the bread delicious and the thick-skinned me got her to share the recipe with me. She got it via a Chinese app and since my Chinese isn’t that good, she translated the ingredients and their quantity for me. I finally got down to baking it this morning so here’s a record of it.

Bread dough

250g bread flour
30g castor sugar
2g salt
3.5g yeast
40g egg
50g whipping cream
75g milk (slightly warm so that it can activate the yeast)
15g unsalted butter at room temperature

I didn’t have the bread maker and did the dough using the standmixer with the dough hook. Basically place all the ingredients together except for the butter and mix together. When they are mixed well, add in the butter and continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the mixer bowl. Then run the window pane test.

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Once it’s ready, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and let it proof for about 40 min to 1 hour or until it has increased to double the volume.

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While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the next set of ingredients – the coconut spread.

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70g coconut flakes (from Cold Storage)
40g egg
25g castor sugar
15g milk powder
10g unsalted butter at room temperature

Mix all the above ingredients together except for the coconut flakes.

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The recipe given recommended using a cake tin that measures 27.6 x 17.8cm but I just use whatever tin or baking tray I have.

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Roll the dough into a rectangular shape and spread the mixture onto the dough.

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Sprinkle the coconut flakes on top of the mixture evenly and then roll the dough from the furthest end to the one nearest to you.

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Cut the dough into 12 pieces and place them onto the baking tray.

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After this, let it proof for about 20 minutes. Do allow some space in between each roll as they will expand when they are being baked. Meanwhile, switch on the oven to 180C.

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Before placing the tray into the oven, I did an egg wash with the remaining amount of egg. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

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So, that’s lunch for today. Thanks, Trisa for sharing the recipe! I hope I have translated correctly!

Some photos from that day…

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😉

 

Opening party for Sew Into It

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking some sweet treats for the opening party of Sew Into It, a one stop sewing workshops and fabric store in Singapore. If you can recall, I sewed my first dress for Faith under the guidance of Amy, my friend whom I have met in Boston and one of the two partners who started this enterprise.

Initially, I wasn’t keen to bake since I wasn’t sure if I could cope with two kids now. But I couldn’t find any other baker friends who could bake for them and in the end, I decided that I should just try. Part of me wanted to play a part too in their opening party. 😉

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Karen, the other partner, requested for 50 cupcakes and a vanilla sponge cake with the party logo on it. Without the kids, I would have been able to bake and manage all these in a day. Now, it took a few days, including the buttons that were made from fondant. Thankfully, the sweet treats were completed by the stipulated timing.

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Welcome to the party!

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This is Amy who taught me how to sew the dress. When she shared with me her vision for Sew Into it, I was happy for her. She has wanted to use her skills to reach out to the less privileged which is really typical of her.

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Blessing others through Sew Into It.

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Sew Into It has courses for the young ones. So if you are thinking of getting your kids to acquire some skills in sewing, you might want to check out their website for relevant workshops?

Erm, Faith was just posing here. She is a bit young for sewing.

All the best for your venture, Amy and Karen!

The past week

The past week has been a busy one. It’s the one-week school holiday and that means F was home all the time. I guess if I wasn’t pregnant, we would be going places and having loads of fun. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Thankfully, the dear husband took a few days off to look after the toddler while I busied myself with baking and decorating cakes. That week, I took on 3 cake orders that were due on the same day and till now, I have no clue why I did that in the first place. ;p

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This is a cake that is requested by my ex-boss for her 82YO mom. What a privilege to bake for her. I admit I wasn’t that ecstatic about making sugar flowers because I feel that isn’t my forte. I much prefer to make figurines of cartoon characters but I guess I should challenge myself so that I could improve. I did have fun!

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Nowadays, I update more on my Dayre account since it’s faster and is a good platform for my family to know what goes on in our lives. These sugar flowers and figurines had to be made in advance and they could take a long time to make.

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I normally bake the sponge cakes at least a day in advance and would frost them before the delivery day as I want the flavours to blend.

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That Saturday was an awesome day for covering the cake with fondant in a non air-conditioned place. It was hazy no doubt but it wasn’t humid and that is perfect! This cake took me a whole morning to cover and decorate (at a steady pace) and I was pleased at how it turned out. It looks exactly like the sketch I made for this customer.

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This Peppa cake theme was requested by a friend for his younger daughter. I have not done Peppa pig before but certainly do not mind working on it. He showed me the pictures whose figurines I had to recreate and it was fun. This cake was simple to decorate. Within an hour!

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This is for his elder daughter and an Angry Bird theme was requested.

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This is always the point when I feel absolutely relieved. The cakes were boxed up and ready to be collected/ delivered.

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The two adorable sisters. It’s such a privilege to bake for them!

That day when the cakes were due was our 6th wedding anniversary. We didn’t plan for anything fanciful (how could he since I had cake orders. Oops!) but we had a good dinner as a family.

I’m thankful to da man who puts the family before himself and that one of his aims in life is to make me happy (in his own words). Being able to pursue this little dream (baking and cake decorating) is a gift. At certain junctures, the course of your life meanders and you wonder what’s next. There have been a lot of changes in my life since I’ve become a mom but it has been really exciting. Not knowing what’s next can be unsettling yet I’ve come to realize that the good Lord knows what is good for me.

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Thank you for always rendering your help when I need it. You obviously are tired from work and yet there is no complaint when I ask you to take over to play with the little one or to help out with the household chores. I’m blessed. I’m soooo thankful to the Lord for you!

And with these cakes, I have to say’ Goodbye’ to baking for sale for a while as we prepare to welcome our second child. Thank you for all your support, dear friends. You have brightened my life with your orders and I hope to bake again for you!

Wordless Wednesday: Owl Cupcakes

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A good friend has just given birth and I thought of making these cupcakes for her, just for her to take a look. Yes, I’m cruel, I know. ;p

I’m entering into the third trimester and my energy level has dipped. I’m mindful that I cannot control life and all I can do is to pray that the baby in my womb will grow to full term and that he will be a normal and healthy one.

Yes, I worry but I need to learn to trust in the Lord because He is the one who gives life and He definitely is in control, no matter what the circumstance is.

You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. -Isaiah 26:3

And I will always bear the following scripture verses in mind.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14

Linking up with

(Gluten-free) Lavender shortbreads

For a while now, I have been reading up on gluten-free recipes and how the different ingredients work together when it comes to baking. This came about when a friend challenged me to bake a gluten-free cake for her since she is gluten intolerant.

I must say it isn’t easy for me to comprehend the endless combination of different flours, some of which are not used in my kitchen. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut explanation of the types of flour to use when and in what quantities, unlike the more conventional types of baking recipes that I’m used to. Many gluten-free recipes and books put me off until I came across this particular one – The Gluten-free Baker by Hannah Miles. The pictures are attractive enough and the recipes are straight-forward. This is exactly what I need to start my gluten-free baking adventure.

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I decided to try something simple to minimise failure. Cookies, aren’t they simple enough? We all started off with cookies, didn’t we? So I chose the lavender shortbreads since I have a good supply of culinary lavender in my pantry. Don’t waste!

For gluten-free baking flour, I choose to work with Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose baking flour. Granted that you can mix certain types of flours (such as tapioca flour, potato and rice flour) to make your own gluten-free flour but they are too complicated for me at the moment so I choose the ready-combined ones. In my recent baking, I have also switched to using organic raw sugar as compared to caster sugar whenever possible. The following is the adapted recipe.

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Ingredients

115g unsalted butter, softened
50g organic raw sugar
85g gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, finely ground
85g ground almond
a little milk, if required

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and creamy. Sift in the flour and add the lavender and ground almond. Bring together to a dough with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk t moisten it ( I didn’t have to do that).

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3. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using the parchment paper, roll the dough into a long sausage shape with about 4cm diameter. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. At times, I prefer to use the freezer.

image 4. Once the dough is firmed up, cut into 1-cm thick slices and arranged on the prepared baking sheet, each at a small distance apart (they will enlarge when they are being baked). Press the back of a fork down into each shortbread to make ridges (for a nicer look but I forgot to do that!)

5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet before serving.

:: These shortbreads will keep up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container.

I was pleasantly surprised at how tasteful the shortbreads are. The cookies truly smell delicious as you remove them from the oven. If you are into gluten-free baking, this is one recipe you might want to try!

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Growing with the Tans

Pandan Kaya Cake Roll

 20150414_141458Recently, I went on a mission to look for recipes on Pandan Kaya Cake Roll and boy, did I have fun! The swiss roll is easy to make and bakes fast. So if you have the Kaya jam on hand, a dessert can easily be made.

Firstly, let me show you how to make pandan juice.

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Pandan leaves can be bought from the wet market or the supermarket for less than a dollar for a packet. Cut the blades into smaller pieces and place them in your blender/chopper. Add about 3/4 cup of water into the blender if you intend to use up the whole lot of pandan leaves from a whole packet. After the blender has done its work, pour the juice through a sieve and squeeze the juice from the leaves as well.

To make the Pandan Kaya jam, you would need the following:

200ml coconut milk
2 large eggs
50g sugar
2tbsp pandan juice
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp plain flour
3 blades of pandan leaves
(If you prefer a stronger pandan flavor, add 1/4tsp of pandan paste.)

Steps:

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1. Mix coconut milk, eggs, corn flour, plain flour and pandan juice together until well combined.

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2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, add in sugar and pandan leaves.

3. Cook over low fire and stir constantly until mixture thicken. (Do not overcook.  Once kaya is too thick, it will turn lumpy and will be difficult to spread on the cake). The trick is to keep stirring! Discard pandan leaves and set aside to cool.

:: I have tried a few variations to making the Kaya jam. To make a healthier version, I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar and the flavour is more intense. There is also a difference if you use the pandan paste and pandan flavour. The pandan paste will give you a green kaya jam (pic on the left) whereas when I added the pandan flavour, the colour is more natural. So it really depends on your preference.

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Making the sponge roll is easy and for this following recipe, the steps require that you separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. This requires more work, of course. I have added another way to making the roll in which you use the whole egg. for the second recipe, you will yield half the amount of the first recipe.

Sponge Roll
Ingredients:

3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
45g cake flour
10g corn flour
1/4tsp salt
40g vegetable oil
1/3tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside. My tray measures 24cm by 16cm by 3cm. If you use a bigger tray, then the roll will turn out thinner. But that should be fine.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.

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4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites until foamy.

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5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

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6. Switch mixer speed to medium and slowly add in egg yolks and pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the veg. oil into the batter until well blended.

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9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the tray you use. 

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11. When it’s done, the surface gives a nice golden brown look. Remove the sponge roll from the tray and cool on a rack with the skin facing up.

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I let the cake roll rest for about 5 to 8 minutes before I assemble. I find that if I wait longer, it will be difficult to roll and cracks will form.

Assembling the cake roll:

1. Carefully transfer the cake onto a greaseproof paper with the skin facing down.

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2. Spread pandan kaya on the cake.

3. Gently roll the cake by using the paper to lift the cake and to guide the roll.

4. Rest the roll in the fridge to stabilize its shape.

5. Remove, slice and serve.

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For an easier method and a smaller portion, the following works for me, using the size of the tray which I had mentoned earlier.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
35g caster sugar
25g cake flour
5g rice flour/corn flour
pinch of salt
20g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.image

4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the eggs until foamy.

5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till the colour turns to pale yellow.

6. Switch mixer speed to medium and add in pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until well blended.

9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10.Bake in a preheated oven for 10mins.

Have fun baking!
I used and experimented with the recipe from happyflour.blogspot.sg and she has an awesome collection of good recipes!

Strawberry butter cupcakes

This week had been rather relaxing in the sense that I could bake in peace during the three hours that I have when the little one was in school. Since I had guests coming over, I decided to make some cupcakes andfrost them using dual colors/tones.

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This is a simple butter cupcakes which I have added strawberry paste to. After they were baked, I inserted a little strawberry jam into the cupcakes before frosting them with Italian meringue buttercream, the one buttercream I would use because it can withstand our tropical heat. 🙂

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To create the dual colors, I filled one piping bag with the buttercream and the other bag with buttercream that has red added to it. I didn’t really want red and pink suits me fine. Place the two piping bags into another bigger piping bag with Wilton piping tip 1A and squeeze. The colors will come out well.

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Strawberry butter cupcakes (yields 20 regular cupcakes)

6 egg yolks

5 egg whites

250g unsalted butter

230g self-raising flour

180g caster sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2tsp to 1tsp strawberry paste

:: Preheat oven to 170C.

:: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and add in the strawberry paste. Cream and then set aside.

:: In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Then add in the egg yolks one at a time. Continue beating for another 3 minutes on medium-high.

:: Reduce the speed to medium and add in the butter mixture. Beat until well combined.

:: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour and baking powder. Beat until well-combined. Don’t over eat.

:: Fill each each cupcake liner till 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes (depending on your oven).

:: The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or when the cupcake springs back when you use your finger to press it lightly.

:: Allow the cupcakes to stay in the cupcake tray for a few minutes before taking them out onto the cooling rack .

Recent bakes

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Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking two cakes for a friend whose son turns two. Edible images are called for and buttercream is preferred. I enjoyed making the cakes because they are definitely not as demanding as the fondant ones and I can practise my piping skills!

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Then I had leftover chocolate ganache from recent bakes and decided to use them for chocolate tartlets. I always have pate sucree shells in the freezer and they come to good use this time round. Awesome tartlets I tell you because it’s good chocolate we are using here!

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I can’t help but post Faith’s picture here. The mama finds her real cute here!

A cake for Mr Wood

Relatives from my hubs’ side came back to visit and I was tasked to bake a cake to surprise Mr Wood, an ardent fan of The Harlequins. Of course, I know nothing about this football club until the hubs told me and I had to do some reading up on it and browsing of pictures before I decided on the figurine that I would be making. Initially, a cake in the shape of a football was called for but I don’t have the pan and I’m not ready to sculpt a cake and decided to just settle for a figurine.

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It’s a rich devil’s food cake that I baked and I decided to pipe some ‘grass’ on it. It’s a simple cake but one which I like because of the figurine. It was made the night before though I wish I had more time. Had I more time, I would have made another player lying on the ground. But that week had been crazy with playdates, homeschool stuff, teaching assignment, a seminar to attend and a cake order in the weekend too. Not that I’m complaining. I actually enjoyed all the activities. Just that the spirit is willing but the body is weak and  I felt it protesting already.

Thankfully, the folks were easy to please and I think the cake satisfied.

I wonder how this week looks like.

Yuzu sponge cake

I fell in love with Yuzu after trying the Yuzu drink sold in the supermarket. I like that it is aromatic and refreshing without being overly citrus. And I thought I should infuse it into my cakes! I did just that for refreshment during the recent playdate that we had.

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I did some changes to a vanilla sponge cake recipe by using more cake flour instead of using all of plain flour. I also reduced the amount of sugar since my friends prefer less sweet stuff. Instead of vanilla extract, I used Yuzu concentrate which I purchased from Kitchen Capers.

So here goes:

Yuzu sponge cake

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line baking tin with baking paper. I baked a 6″ cake for this one and the height goes up to 4 inches. Very tall cake!

1. Sift the flour and baking powder.

2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins and gradually add the castor sugar. Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4. Add the Yuzu concentrate and beat until combined.

5. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour, beat until combined. Add half of the milk and beat. Repeat and then add the remaining flour and beat until combined.

6. Spoon mixture into baking tin. If you are doing rainbow or ombre cake, you would have to use your scale to divide out the batter equally and then add your desired food colouring. Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the portion you bake) or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Italian Meringue Buttercream
150g fine sugar
60g water
4 egg whites
220g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch bits
1 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Pour the sugar into the water in a saucepan and let boil to 120C. Do not stir the sugar when boiling. Go on to step 2.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until it reaches the sift peak stage (foamy stage).

3. When the temperature of the sugar syrup shows 115C, whisk the egg whites on high until stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 12oC, turn down the speed of the mixer to speed 1 and then pour the syrup into the meringue (beaten egg whites0 by the side. Do it carefully in a steady stream. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk the egg whites until the sides of the mixer bowl no longer feels hot. This will take quite some time.

4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the speed down to medium and add in the pieces of unsalted butter, one at a time. It will look like it has curdled but fear not, keep whisking and in the end, it should look like this.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate.

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Once you have the buttercream, the next step is to frost the cake. Enjoy the process!

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Verdict: So my friends ate slices of it and one of them commented it’s still a tad sweet. The husband likes it and I think it’s just right too. Try it yourself and see if you like it less sweet by reducing the sugar to about 3/4 cup. If you really want a soft cake, you can just use cake flour. Experiment with the recipe. This is the fun thing about baking.

😉

Wordless Wednesday: Macarons finally!

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Macarons are one of those items that I don’t really like to make because they are so finicky. Remember the times that I experimented with them in my Boston kitchen? Half of those that I had made failed. Thankfully, my friends still loved them and they were snapped up. Also remember that evening when Chef Delphin threw away the whole lot of macarons because they cracked?

Today, I experimented with another recipe because I’m supposed to teach it soon and I so love the recipe because it works!

*Fingers crossed* that everything will turn out well.

Linking up with

Cakes made this week

The last week of May saw me making two fondant cakes for my friends. Just a month or two ago, I declared that I would not work with fondant in this type of humid condition but my heart turned soft when my friends asked me to bake for their niece and nephew respectively.

This first cake was a chocolate cake for a 10-year-old girl. I was told she was a precocious girl and after browsing some pictures on my FB, she decided to go for a simple design – one with bow and stripes on the surface. V (the birthday girl) likes the combination of turquoise, pink and white and it shall be done for her!

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There were problems along the way. Due to the hot weather, my whipped chocolate ganache didn’t stay whipped. In fact, it soon turned watery which was a great cause of concern for me as I need to cover the cake with fondant. As a backup, I made a batch of buttercream (wilton method) and applied it on the ganache (crumb coat and first layer) in the hope that it will help to crust. To ensure that the fondant will not turn soft and thus destroy the cake, I put double layer of fondant on the cake.

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The bow never materialised as it cracked as I was about to put on the cake. I should have stuck to the same brand of fondant that I have been using all along. The current one that I’m using doesn’t really do well in terms of drying and can be rather fragile. Thankfully I took a picture before it cracked.

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Panic set in of course. I had a few more hours before delivery and I had to think of an alternative design and fabric roses came to mind. Along with some blossom flowers, there were 10 flowers on top, signifying her age. And I thought it turned out better in appearance (or am I trying to console myself?). I thought this cake was rather mature looking, good for a grown-up in fact. ;p

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The 1.9kg chocolate cake decorated with fondant.

The second cake was a rainbow cake with chocolate ganache. My friend was easy about this. There was no need for much decoration except for some animal figurines for his 3YO nephew. I love making figurines and spent each night working on one since it is rather difficult to do so when the kiddo is awake. I had better do a good job for the figurines since they take the centrestage. The rainbow cake was baked and then put together on the day itself. Again, the chocolate ganache posed a problem since it got watery again in this weather although I have used the proportion of 1.5:1. Sigh! I should have just insisted on using buttercream since the 6-inch cake can get mighty tall and I need each colour of the cake to ‘stick’ well to the other.

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I actually had problem with the frosting and I panicked again. In the end, I decided to pipe some green leaves using buttercream to hide the ugliness and as usual, I place fondant on top so that the figurines could sit on it. The white fondant covering was intended to have a natural look in case you would think that I have made a mistake by placing it a little slant. I love the colourful letterings which was a last-minute idea that popped into my mind. At the 11th hour, I did the colourful bunting to complete the look.

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I actually like the finished product! My friend was happy and said that her nephew loved the animals and kept admiring them even after the birthday and this absolutely made my day! All the effort was worth it! Together with the figurines, this 6″ cake weighs 2.1kg.

20140526_192322Rainbow cake seems to be well-liked by many these days eh? A fad?

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My garden theme cupcakes. I certainly hope to do more to complete the whole series.

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 And the last cake for the week: Yuzu-vanilla lychee cake with whipped cream. I much prefer to use buttercream if you ask me since it won’t melt that easily in our climate. I did that for the lychee cake a few months back for a friend and received good review about it. I’ll post the recipe once I’m satisfied with the result. 😉

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Lychee cake with buttercream

The celebration weekend

For the past few days, I have been baking. There was batter and cakes and pops. The house (kitchen and living room) was in a mess but there were two celebrations and cakes were called for and so I baked.

The wedding cake was a three-tiered lavender cake covered with buttercream and boy, was I glad. You see, the weather turned extremely humid on Friday and if it was a fondant cake, I would be done for. Nonetheless, it was still an adventure making this cake. I have wanted to bake with culinary lavender flowers and extract and I had to hunt them down. I have searched a few baking suppliers but they do not have the things I want until I went to Kitchen Capers and saw the last packet of lavender flowers. GRAB, so I did and with bottles of extract. I burnt a big hole in the pocket that day.

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The lavender cakes were baked 2 days before since there was quite a fair bit of things to work out before the actual day. Since the cakes had to be refrigerated, they had to be moistened with sugar syrup during the assembling stage.

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Did the mashmallow pops which I love because they are so pretty and I so love washi tapes which helped to further give the pops some life.

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On the actual day, I went down to the site (which is sooo sooo romantic) and set the cake up. The toppers were made of fondant + tylose and the bride requested that they be made as closely to the ones on the invite. The pot (Kam Cheng) was difficult to make since I can’t make it fully of fondant as it would be too heavy on the cake so in the end I had to wrap another cake with fondant and shape it into a pot. Not the best result but it had to be done this way.

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By the way, the romantic place I was referring to is La Cantina In Venezia @ Changi Village Hotel. It’s a really nice place which overlooks the sea. Maybe I would do a staycation at the hotel one day!

After the wedding cake came a little girl’s first birthday. It was a strawberry cake and I had fun baking this!

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Love making the bunting using washi tapes.

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Strawberries overload


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I have decided to colour the layers in shades of pink with swiss meringue buttercream and strawberries in between. Strawberry paste and vanilla bean paste are added which added taste and colour to the sponge.

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I seriously am not good in cake decorating; there’s so much more room for improvement. I have baked a few strawberry cakes but am not impressed by the end product. Somehow, the looks fail but with the sweetie pie (the birthday girl), everything just seems beautiful. Alrighty, I need a break. Da man has been neglected and I think I need to slow down and spend more time with the family. Weekends’ precious. This hobby of mine has to slow down a little!

Lavender cake (2 6″ cake pans)

1 1/4 Cups unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup caster sugar
4  eggs
2 1/4 Cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp dried culinary lavender, chopped
1/2 tbsp lavender extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and baking powder and set aside. In  mixer bowl with beater attachment, on medium speed, cream butter and sugar thoroughly until light and fluffy.  Stop and scrape the sides of your mixing bowl.  Return to medium speed and add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition, until mixture becomes thick and glossy. Stop your mixer, scrape the sides as needed and return to medium speed to complete mixing for about 1 minute until throughly mixed.  By hand, fold in the flour, lavender florets, vanilla and milk. Spoon the mixture into pans and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 180C oven or until knife inserted in cake center comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes, run a knife along the edge to release the cake from the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before frosting.

Playdate and a banana muffin recipe

We just completed our second (homeschooling) session! Oh what fun! The three mothers were tasked to conduct the various segments and I must say I learnt quite a fair bit from my fellow mummies!

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We learnt about the colour blue the previous session and this time round, it was red. After the welcome song, C got the kids to learn about RED by showing them items with that colour. It was a quick segment since we realised that our young kids get bored and couldn’t sit still for long.

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Next, Sab read a story entitled ‘Are you my Mummy’ and got the children’s attention. The illustration was colourful and the kids got to feel the furry material too. I guess our kids have been educated on animals and the older ones could call out the names of some animals. Faith? She was just distracted by the many toys in the house.

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We did some craftwork as a follow up to the reading. Using toilet paper roll and some scraps of paper, we made a duck! I thought it is quite a good idea since we could teach the kiddos the different parts of the body as we pieced them together.

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Right after that, the kids played with homemade dough as free play. This was the first time that Faith interacted with dough and she didn’t dare to touch it, let alone do some cut outs with it. I think I have to expose her to more materials from now on! *think sensory play*

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 I am in charge of refreshment this week and I made a bento (kind of) with cranberry buns, banana muffins and fruits. I seriously love how the Japanese present their food and want to do the same. So, you can expect more bentos from me too!

I like this session a lot because it is also a time for the mummies to rest and catch up with one another. As expected, the boy could finish whatever was presented to him while the girls had some slight problem. But no worries!

I love the idea of placing the food items on the tray because this teaches the kids personal space. This time round, Faith couldn’t finish her food. How rare!

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After the makan session, it’s Quiet Time. We wanted to instill this in the kids so that they will know how to be quiet before the Lord as they grow up. For now, it’s really just for them to get down and rest while we pray for them. You may think it is easy but the kids were trying to get up every now and then! 5 minutes….just for 5 minutes!

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The last session is on Practical Life which was somewhat the same as the previous session. The kids got to scoop cotton balls from one container to the other, match caps with the respective bottles and to match shapes using theMelissa N Doug puzzles. With a goodbye song, the children bade farewell to one another and so our 2-hour session ended! So fast!

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Banana Muffin Recipe
(Makes about 10 – 12 medium size muffins)

Ingredients:

4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
80 g caster sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
60 g milk
60 g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1 or 2 banana, sliced into 1/2cm chunks

1. Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon ground together. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl. Stir and mix butter, milk, eggs and vanilla together. Add in sugar and salt. Mix till well combined and add in the mashed bananas. Mix well.

3. Fold in the sieve flour at one time and mix slowly till well combined. Remember not to over stir the batter.

4. Scoop the batter into the paper cup, add the sliced banana chunks and cover it with some batter. Fill about 8/10 of the batter, leave some space for the muffin to raise when we bake them. I have some caramel and walnuts left from previous bakes and added the caramel in between the batter and sprinkle some chopped toasted walnuts on top.

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5. Bake at preheated oven at 175c for 20mins or till it’s cooked, when the toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes came out clean. Every oven is different so you have to trial and test!

* Note to self: The next time I bake these, I will try brown sugar and see the difference it makes.

 

Foodie Friday | Passionfruit curd meringue tartlets

I’m a little late for FF because a host of things happened yesterday that prevented me from blogging. But it’s not too late, I guess. 😉

It’s been a while since I last made tartlets and my hands are itching again. This time round, I intend to make passionfruit curd meringue tartlets. I’m using the puree as opposed to the real fruit since I don’t see any of those fruits in the supermarket. Have fun making this. I had, especially when I’m using the blow torch. Heh…

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The Pate Sucree tart shells can be made in advance when you have extra egg yolks left after baking. It’s easy to make and you should always keep some in the freezer!

*Pate Sucree Tart Shell
( 1/2 portion can made eight 31/2″ shells and twelve 1 1/2″ shells)
Adapted from Miette Cookbook

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
226g cold unsalted butter, cubed (1 whole SCS block)
2 large egg yolks
4 to 8 tbsp heavy cream

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1. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tbsp of the cream. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. If the dough does not come together into large chunks, slowly add the remaining cream, a little bit at a time, until it does. I took about 5 tbsp. Gather the dough into a ball, pat it into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough to make the portions you need. I used the pressing in method to press the dough into the tart pans. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

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4. Preheat oven to 180C.

5. Fully pre-bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Every oven is different. For me, I tend to put to bake for a tad longer, sometimes up to 20 minutes. I will always look at the colour to determine if the tarts are baked to my liking.

Passionfruit curd

1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
about ¾ cup passionfruit puree
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 passionfruit puree 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.

Swiss Meringue
(Portion is sufficient for this amount of tartlets)

100g egg white (3 large eggs)
135g sugar

1. Lightly whisk egg whites in a mixing bowl, place over a pot of simmering water (double boiler).

2. Add in sugar in 3 batches, whisk sugar and egg whites till sugar is fully dissolved (rub some with your fingers, if it feels grainy, it hasn’t dissolved yet). I took about 4 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Transfer the mixture into another bowl and using the standmixer and the balloon whisk, I whisk for about 5mins till peaks are stiff, thick and glossy.

Happy baking!

Animals on my cake

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A friend asked me to bake a cake for her son, Matthias’ 5th birthday. Since he likes zoo animals, she requested for the rainbow cake to be decorated around that theme. No specific design given. That’s it.

I was excited and a book that Faith always reads came to mind. I wanted to create a few 20140310-141340.jpgfigurine made of fondant + tylose powder. There are also a lot of resources to tap on in the Internet. But I also respect the works of the cake decorator and thus hope to come up with my own version. That being said, I find it difficult to really come up with a personal design since you can only alter the body and face in just a few ways (That’s the amateur me talking). I could only spare a few hours each day to do the figurines and so, it’s one animal each night after Faith went to bed. The lion was the first to be completed, followed by the zebra, giraffe and the monkey. By the time I did the last animal, I was already losing steam. Hah!

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I guess you would understand if I disclose that this 10″ round rainbow cake took a whole week to complete. 😉

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The day before the delivery, the cake was baked. It’s a nice feeling seeing the layers of colours on top of one another. I wanted the design to be simple, not too complicated, and decided that swiss meringue buttercream without any added colour would suffice.

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So, there you have it. When I passed the box of cake to my friend, I was filled with relief and a sense of accomplishment. Hah. Hope the boy likes the cake.

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Have a blessed birthday, Matthias!

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Pumpkin-Chia Seeds Cheesecake

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In a bid to increase Faith’s menu, I made a cheesecake for her. I reckon if it is purely just cheesecake, it will be too much of those cheese for her. Thankfully, Keiko Ishida’s Okashi provides a recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake and I suspect Faith might like since pumpkin is her favourite vegetable. To make it more nutritious, I added a tablespoon of the superfood Chia Seeds.

What you need:
Walnuts 30g, toasted
Digestive biscuits 70g
Unsalted butter, 40g melted
Japanese pumpkin, 250g, skinned and seeded
Brown sugar 90g
Cream cheese 220g
Ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract 1/2 tsp
Chia seeds 1 tbsp
Whipping cream 50g
Eggs 2
Egg yolk 1

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I used a 7 inch round cake pan with a removable base.

Toast walnuts for 20 minutes at 150C without preheating. Set aside.

Increase oven heat to 170C. Lightly grease cake pan with a little softened butter.

Place digestive biscuits and toasted walnuts in a food processor and lightly pulse into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix well. Transfer crumbs to the cake pan and spread evenly. Press down well and chill in the freezer to set.

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Steam pumpkin for about 15 minutes or until softened. Place cooked pumpkin and brown sugar into a food processor and blend well. Add cream cheese, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, whipping cream, chia seeds and blend. Add eggs and egg yolk and mix lightly. Do not over-mix.

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Pour cream cheese mixture over set biscuit base and bake for 50 minutes or until the surface is light brown and centre of cheesecake feels springy to the touch. I prefer to use the latter method instead of just referring to the time (I took more than 50 min).

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Gently run a knife along the edge of cheesecake and leave to cool on a wire rack. Cover with cling film and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

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On the day of serving, unmould cheesecake and slice into even pieces using a warmed knife to have those beautiful cut edges.

Have a go at it!

Thomas the train cake

Last Saturday, a friend, QX, asked if I could make a Thomas the train cake for her son’s birthday. She wanted a rainbow vanilla sponge cake.

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QX gave me a few designs for ideas but the fickle-minded me changed my designs a few times until I finally settled on one.

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I wish I had the time to do the train figurine but I was too busy that week which was a pity. On the day of the delivery, I made the rainbow cake. This time round, I changed the flour to cake flour which resulted in a lighter texture. I also doubled the portion and my cake ended up really tall! It turned out to be 5-inch tall!

20140125-094614.jpgContainers such as these are very useful for making rainbow cake. After weighing the batter and dividing the portions, the various colours – red, orange, yellow, green and blue – were added.

Each layer took about 20 minutes to be baked. Having many cake pans would help when you bake a rainbow cake. If not, laying the base and side of the pan with parchment paper helps too!

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Cheery colours!

While giving time for the cake layers to cool, the next step was to make the swiss meringue buttercream which is a lot easier than the IMBC. Thankfully the portion was just enough for this cake. No leftover! Yay!

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Note to self: Initially after adding the butter, it will curdle and looks a tad runny but just let it beat more and it will soon become creamy.

For the past few cakes, I had used IMBC and chocolate ganache as the coat before the fondant. However, there were air bubbles and this wouldn’t look nice on a cake. This time round, I used Wilton’s buttercream and the result was rather satisfactory! Perhaps, the breezy weather helped that day. Humidity was lower than usual too. I just wish that the buttercream isn’t that sweet. Well, I guess I can always counteract the sweetness with the addition of lemon or salt.

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The decorating part is always the most fun. I added the embellishment and hid any imperfections with them.

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That’s it. I had a good time with this cake. I certainly hope to have the opportunity to make the train figurine in future!

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Toot! Toot!

Sugar cookies for CNY

A few days ago, a friend asked me to bake and decorate sugar cookies for Chinese New year after I posted some pictures on my FB.

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If you work with sugar cookies, you would realise that the dough melts easily and it can be difficult and messy to cut out shapes from it. In most recipes, they call for the dough to be placed in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 hours before you place it in between parchment paper, roll it flat to a certain thickness and then cut out shapes from it. Problem is, if I were to follow the instruction to a tee such as this, it would almost be impossible to cut out a good shape from the dough because it melts so easily.

So, I did it the way I think is better. After the dough has been rested and taken out from the refrigerator, I roll it and then place the dough in the FREEZER for it to firm up before doing the cut-outs. Obviously, the dough is hardened and you will need some strength to cut shapes out from it but at least the shapes maintain.

It’s always helpful to have this dough in the fridge since it can be kept in it for two weeks or up to 2 months in the freezer! After baking, you can decorate them using royal icing or fondant and then give them away as treats!

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Chocolate, vanilla and almond flavoured sugar cookies!

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Each cookie is individually packed which can be tiresome but the end result is so satisfying!

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Packed and all set to go! A few more days before CNY. What are you baking?

Ham and cheese bread (Tangzhong method)

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On the last day of 2013, I had the privilege of sharing how to bake yogurt bread with my friends of many years. It always gives me a very warm feeling when people are willing to learn from one another and when the product is being consumed. That is simply contentment, to me.

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Since I was making bread, I went on to make Ham and Cheese bread for Faith. Of all the kinds of bread that I have made, I still prefer those made with Tangzhong and brioche because the end-result is soft which makes chewing easier for Faith.

The following recipe is taken from Christine’s recipe and she has a wide and useful variety of recipes. Love her site. I’m going to record it here for future references.

For Tangzhong:
50gm bread flour
125ml water
125ml milk

To make tangzhong:

1. Mix flour in water & milk well without any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.

2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done. You get the tangzhong. Remove from heat.

3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature.  Just measure out the amount you need. The leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge up to a few days as long as it doesn’t turn grey. (Note: The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients. )

For the Ham and cheese bread:
Ingredients of bread:

350gm bread flour
55gm caster sugar
5gm/1tsp salt
56gm egg (equals to 1 large egg)
7gm milk powder (to increase fragrance, optional)
125ml milk
120gm tangzhong (use half of the tangzhong you make from above)
5 to 6gm/2 tsp instant yeast
30gm unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

Fillings:
Ham, to taste
cheese, to taste
( I do think the types of cheese and ham (and even milk) that are used will result in different taste in the bread).
1. Using a standmixer with dough hook, combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in the mixer bowl. Mix for about 10 seconds. Add in the wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong and knead until a dough is formed. At this stage, add the butter and continue to knead until the dough passes the window-pane test – stretch the dough. If it forms a thin “membrane”, it’s done.
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2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel or cling wrap. Let it proof till it’s doubled in size, about 40 – 60 minutes.
3. Transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into four equal portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Sprinkle slices of ham and cheese evenly as much as you like. Roll from the upper, shorter end down to the bottom and seal the bottom well.
5. Arrange the rolled-up dough in a greased or non-stick loaf tin. Leave it for the 2nd round of proofing, about 40 minutes.
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6. Brush whisked egg on surface. I sprinkled some dried parsley flakes on the surface too. Bake in a pre-heated 180C oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and tin. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Yogurt bread

All thanks to the little one, I have found another bread recipe that is both suitable and easy to bake. It’s also a bonus that they are really, really very soft!!!

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The other day, I was mentioning how Faith does not want to drink milk anymore to my Church’s cell group members and one of them, an early childhood educator, shared a recipe with me. It’s from her coursemate who always feeds them with bread and other goodies. So I popped over to the link and love the ingredients used – yogurt and milk! They are what Faith needs now!

To make the bread more substantial in terms of taste and nutrients, I have added 1/2 tablespoon of Chia seeds and 1/4 cup of raisins.

This is my version:

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250g bread flour
15g castor sugar
3g salt
3g yeast

(B)
100g flavoured yogurt ( I used Yoplait’s yogurt @ room temperature)
60g fresh milk (at room temperature)
25g egg (about half an egg)

(C)
30g butter at room temperature

(D)
1/2 tbsp Chia seeds
1/4 cup raisins

1. Place ingredients in (A) into the standmixer and using a dough hook, mix them for about 10 seconds.

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2. Add in ingredients in (B) and mix, on medium speed, until a dough is formed.

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3. While continuing to mix, add in (C) and mix on high for about 5 minutes. Towards the end of the mixing, add (D). When the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl anymore and has passed the window pane test, it is ready.

4. Turn out the dough and give it a final few kneads, shape it into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or cling-wrap and leave it to proof in a warm place till double its size (about 1 hour).

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5. When proofing is completed, punch down the bread dough to release the air.

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6. Divide the dough into small portions of about 70g. Shape each portion into a smooth ball and placed them into a loaf pan.

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7. Cover the loaf pan with a cling wrap and allow the dough to go for second proofing until double its size again.

8. Egg wash the top of the buns.

9. Bake in preheated oven at 170-180C for 20 minutes until the top turns golden brown.
10. Remove bread from loaf pan to cool completely.

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I suspect I will be using this basic dough for other flavours! Yay!

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And this is Faith, enjoying {shredding} the yogurt bread.

‘Watermelon’ raisin bread

This week, the hubs and I finally decided that enough is enough and sleep-training has to be administered to little Faith. For months, we did not have quality sleep because Faith woke up a few times in the night and needed us to soothe her back to sleep. Initially, we thought we had it easy since she could sleep through the night when she was about 3 months old but that changed when she experienced teething.

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So, our sleep-training started on Monday. It proved easier for me when the hubs took over. I was simply too soft-hearted and felt terrible having to hear her cry so badly. It’s heart-wrenching. Yesterday, the crying was bad and to distract myself by surfing the Internet for baking recipes. It was then that I stumbled upon the video on Watermelon lookalike raisin bread and logged it into my mind that I would bake the following day. Faith loves bread and I thought this should turn out all right as compared to my previous failed panda bread attempt.

I didn’t really follow how it was done in the video. I guess in bread making, there are some fundamentals that we will all adhere to but there are certainly different ways to doing it. Here’s mine (I’m using the Tang Zhong/ water roux since I want a very light version for my bread. You can also use the standard bread dough for this):

Recipe for the water dough “water roux”:
Cook 250g water with 50g bread flour at medium low heat. Keep stirring until it becomes thickened and there’re no lumps left. If you’ve a candy thermometer, measure it until the temperature turn to 65C then turn off the heat. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a cling wrap to avoid skin forming. The amount of water dough here would be more than what a recipe requires. You could store it in the fridge for about 2 days.
Recipe for the bread (approximately 550g for the dough):
(A) 195g bread flour20131129-060341.jpg
90g plain flour
12g milk powder
30g caster sugar
6g salt
6g yeast
60g beaten eggs
65g room temperature water
75g water roux (cooled & at room temperature)
(B) 45g unsalted butter
(C) 3/4 cup raisins
(D) Red and green food colouring (I used Wilton’s) or use Matcha powder for green
1. Put ingredients (A) and knead using the dough hook until it becomes dough-like and then add in the unsalted butter (B). Continue kneading for about 15 minutes at medium speed until the dough becomes elastic and does not stick to the side of the mixing bowl. You should hear the ‘flap, flap’ sound. 🙂
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2. Divide the  dough into 3 portions in this proportions – 150g (neutral colour), 150g (green) and the remaining for red. Add in the food colours and knead till it has reached the desired colours. Add in the raisins for the red dough and mix till they are evenly incorporated. Let them proof for 40 minutes in clean bowls covered with cling wrap.
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3. Punch down the dough to release the air. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
4. For the red dough, roll it into a log the length of your baking tin. Flatten the neutral-coloured dough and make sure it is big enough to wrap the red dough. You can use a rolling pin to do so. For me, I just use my palm and flatten like the roti prata man. Do the same for the green dough and wrap. Do make sure you seal the seams well, if not, they will open when they go into the oven. The following are the steps.
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5. Place the completed dough in the baking tin (9″ x 5″) [mine is slightly smaller] and proof for 40 minutes. 15 minutes before it is due for baking, switch on the oven to a temperature of 180C.
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6. Egg wash the top of the dough for 15 – 20 minutes. The loaf of bread is done when you hear a hollow sound as you tap the top of the bread. Unmould the loaf and let cool completely on a cooling rack before you cut it into slices.
Note: I would use more matcha powder the next time for green. I suspect it will make a nice combination with raisins. 😉 There’s so much room for improvement. Try it and let me know how it turns out!
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Linking up with

Japanese Strawberry cake (again!)

This is a continuation from the previous post.

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After looking through various sources, I adapted Ochikeron’s recipe and baked an 8″ strawberry cake for a birthday girl. The recipe would have been great for a 6″ cake but since an 8″ is being called for, I have to bake sponge base twice which is not too much of a problem since the recipe is rather straight forward.  I would see if I could double the portion the next time I bake an 8″ strawberry cake.

For now…

Cake base (I made twice for 8″ cake)
2 eggs ( I used 55g egg) @ room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g top flour, sifted
20g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Syrup
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
20ml very hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream
300ml non-dairy whipping cream (I used Phoon Huat’s; this amount is more than enough and I have left over)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries (depending on how you decorate the cake)
– for the sandwich layer, slice off the tops and cut into 0.5cm thickness
– for decorations on top, all up to you!

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Beat eggs and sugar over a bain-marie (hot water bath) until the mixture warms up. I used my finger to test. A little warmth is good enough. This is to dissolve the sugar and by adding heat to the egg mixture, more air can be incorporated easily when the mixture is whipped. Remove the mixture from the bain-marie and continue beating the egg mixture till it triples in volume and turns very pale (almost white). I use my standmixer which saves a lot of time and effort!

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2. Towards the last 2 to 3 minutes, beat on the lowest speed. By reducing the speed of the mixer, a stable egg mixture with fine foam is obtained and less volume is lost when the flour is folded in. When the egg mixture has reached the “ribbon stage”, sift in the flour a little at a time in 3 stages. Cut through the mixture with a wire whisk after each addition.

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3. Sprinkle the cooled melted butter over the batter and fold in using a spatula. Take care not to over-mix the batter.

4. Pour the batter from a height of 30cm into a lined tin. Towards the end, pour the remaining batter to one side of the tin.

5. Lift the tin and drop it gently onto the table top twice to eliminate air bubbles.

IMG_91956. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. While it bakes, make the simple syrup solution. Dissolve 1/2 tbsp sugar in 20ml of very hot water. Then add the vanilla extract. Stir to mix well and set aside.

7. When the cake is done, turn it onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool with the pan covering it. Wrap using clingwrap when it is completely cooled if you do not intend to frost the cake on the same day (the cake keeps for 2 to 3 days, refrigerated). Otherwise, proceed to slice the cake in half, horizontally.

8. To make the cream, whip the cream and vanilla extract (preferably in a metal bowl) sitting over an ice bath. In the video, she whips till soft peaks form. For me, I whip till stiff peaks are formed. But don’t overwhip! Use instantly or keep it chilled in the fridge, covered, at all times.

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9.Now, brush sugar syrup onto the first layer of the cake (sliced side). This keeps the sponge cake nice and moist.

10. Spread a layer of cream and then top with the cut strawberries. Add another layer of cream over the strawberries.

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11. Brush the remaining layer of cake (sliced side) with sugar syrup, then place it on top of the strawberries and cream. Proceed to frost and decorate the entire cake.

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My initial design was this but I find it a tad too plain for an 8″ cake. Then I redesigned and decided that each slice should have a strawberry and since I’m supposed to pipe some birthday message on it, I used two pieces of dark chocolate and pipe the wordings on them. Royal icing will smudge on the cream so I would have to resort to this method. Not the most beautiful but well, this shows that the cake is home-baked! 😉

12. Keep the cake chilled until time of serving. The colder the cake, the easier it is to cut (and the yummier it is to eat!).

IMG_9224Packed and delivered!

Source: The Little Teochew & Okashi by Keiko Ishida
The video, again.

Japanese-style Strawberry cake | Keiko’s vs Ochikeron’s

I’ve been searching for recipes for light and fluffy sponge cake the past week. Fact is, the sponge cakes I have baked recently were rather firm to the touch and when you sink your teeth into a slice, you feel that you have one lump of stuff in your mouth. I also realised that many, like my mom, prefer their cakes to be light and thus my quest for suitable recipes began.

I had baked the Japanese-style Strawberry Cake using La Fuji Mama’s recipe before and I thought it was good enough. This time round, I used Keiko Ishida’s recipe and I though the result is the same as the previous one. Alas, my mom, my most valued critic, told me that the sponge is not soft enough. Can you imagine my frustration???

IMG_9181Decided on this design after reading this.

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Nearly forgot to take the pic of the interior – the last piece.

The following video is a close representation of Keiko’s genoise sponge recipe. The sponge is soft but I would have wanted it to be softer. I’m not sure if it is supposed to turn out like the above though.
You can find a similar recipe here.

So, I went to do some research again. On my tabs, there is this recipe that I’m supposed to try and I decided to use hers.

And so, I used an 8″ springform pan to bake the cake. It yields one with a height of 1.5cm tall. This won’t do if I want to make a proper cake. So I made another round of batter. The sponge cake turns out soft and fluffy and I think mom would approve of it!

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The recipe can be found here.

Overall, I prefer Ochikeron’s recipe which works wonderfully well for a 6″ cake. It is straightforward and fuss-free. I did use a standmixer to make the egg mixture which is much faster than using a handmixer (my arms hurt!). Her sponge cake is softer and overall, a light and well-aerated sponge cake results.

Disclaimer: I think you have to try the recipes for yourself and determine if my analysis is right. : )

Will post the adapted recipe next!

A ballerina on a fruitcake

Christmas is just a month away and it’s time to make those rich fruit cakes!

So I thought I should find test some recipes and the first one is this.

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Apple streusel muffins

P1090461This is the season for apple picking and oh, how I miss this activity!

Doesn’t matter. Even though I can’t pick apples, surely I can bake something with them. I like that I could taste the apples pieces in these muffins and surely love the streusel. I thought the creme fraiche added some twist to the sweetness which can be rather refreshing. Hah!

Am keeping this recipe as I find that the muffins turn out well and delish. I like how they rise and look at the end of the day. They have got some character!

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Apple Streusel Muffins (Adapted from The Kitchn)

Yields 12 muffins

For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar ( I used light brown sugar)
226g crème fraîche (or full-fat sour cream)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
113g unsalted butter, melted and still warm
2 medium-sized baking apples, peeled, cored and diced into irregular pieces

For the streusel:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar ( I used light brown sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
57g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin generously with cooking spray, both inside the cups and over the top or use muffin cases.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, crème fraîche, and vanilla. Add the melted butter, pouring in a slow and steady stream, while whisking vigorously to emulsify the mixture.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold until the liquid is just barely combined, being careful not to over-mix. (A few lumps are okay.) Stir in the chopped apples. Fill each muffin well all the way to the top with batter; set aside while preparing the streusel. Yup. if you are fearful that the muffins will rise a lot and so overflow, don’t worry. They WON’T.

For the streusel, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and gently stir with a fork until well combined and small pebble-sized pieces remain throughout.

Top each filled well with a heaping tablespoon of streusel, lightly pressing it into the batter. (A round cookie cutter placed over the cup helps keep the mess to a minimum.) Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. The batter can be made in advance and held in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or frozen for 2 weeks (thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)