Family Tradition and a Truffled Mash Cottage Pie Recipe

Family tradition.

If you ask me what fond memories I have of my family as a child, it would be the homecooked food my mom prepared for us and the trips that we took when we were young. Now as a mom, it’s quite inevitable that I would like to pass down this tradition of providing homecooked food for my own little family. Well, of course, I can’t guarantee that my food is palatable like my mom’s but I’ll try. :p

Since Faith was born, my SIL has started a tradition of getting a real tree each Christmas. Now, this is something foreign to me. I came from a non-Christian and traditional Chinese family. Growing up, we have never had a Christmas tree. We didn’t decorate our apartment nor were there turkeys, hams or presents. Christmas, just wasn’t celebrated in the way I’ve imagined it, until I have a family of my own. Even then, I have to have the SIL to somehow kickstart for us.

This year, we had a slightly smaller tree because the SIL wanted the (small) children to participate more actively. How thoughtful! I do think it’s a better option too.

While the folks were decorating the tree, I was actually in my own kitchen preparing a dish to bring over. The hubs had kindly brought the kids to the in-laws’ earlier so that I could cook in peace. Oh, the joy of cooking, is back! I certainly enjoy baking and cooking, in the absence of the children because when they are around, they would keep calling me which frustrates me to the core. I mean, won’t you be irritated when you have to stop every five minutes to tend to the kids? I would!

I haven’t cooked anything, out of the usual menu that I have stored in my mind, for a long while and I fumbled a little for this dish. My timing was off, things were all over the place even though I had put everything in place, you know, mise en place?

img_5797

In the end, I was half an hour late for the gathering. By the time I reached the in-laws’, the Christmas tree was all decorated and the folks were just relaxing, waiting for my arrival. Oops.

Truffled Mash Cottage Pie

img_5804

1 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped or diced (up to you)
1 carrot, finely chopped or diced (up to you)
500g ground beef
150g portobello/ white mushroons, chopped
A splash of dry white wine
3 tbsp tomato paste
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp butter
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp truffle oil (or more if you like!)
Quail eggs (cooked and shelled)
Cheeses ( I used cheddar, mozzarella & parmesan)
salt and ground black pepper

:: Preheat oven to 200C.

:: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add in the bay leaf, onion and carrot and fry, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the ground beef and fry until browned, stirring often.

:: Add the mushrooms and fry for 3 minutes. Pour in the white wine and fry briefly until cooked off. Mix in the tomato paste. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.

img_5783

:: Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a large pan of salted, boiling water until tender; drain. Mash with butter, cream and truffle oil and season with salt and ground black pepper.

:: Place the beef mixture in an ovenproof dish. Add in the quail eggs and top with the mashed potato, spreading in an even layer.

:: Sprinkle over the cheeses.

:: Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden-brown.

img_5796

Family tradition.

I’m curious. What’s yours?

Chocolate Yuzu cupcakes

img_0958

It’s been a while. I used to bake for my cell group every single time (a privilege indeed) before the kids came along. I enjoy baking because I find it therapeutic and when I see smiles on folks’ faces, it gives me great delight.

But for a while now, I have not baked…regularly. I know that if I am frustrated, my food will not turn out well and I don’t want to be affected by it. My standmixer has been gathering dust for a good few weeks and calls out to be used. And since I had a ladies’ night gathering yesterday, I thought I should just start baking…something.

img_0661

It so happened that as I did my grocery via open taste this week, edible flowers were available. Excited much! I have wanted to work with flowers all the while but do not know where I can purchase them. So when I stumbled upon them, I knew I had to purchase!

So, with them on hand, I thought of the cakes I could bake in my current capacity and an all-time favourite came to mind. Just simple chocolate cupcakes that are easy to make. Yea, I cannot afford to bake complicated stuff nowadays. In fact, I baked these cupcakes as I carried the sleeping Dan in the carrier. So anything more complicated and I would get frustrated.

To top the cake sponge, I used Italian Meringue Buttercream, a recipe which I have tweaked to reduce the amount of sugar and butter, resulting in a lighter version. I think I could still cut down on the sugar but I would need time to experiment with it. For the flavour, I added about 1 tbsp of Yuzu concentrate and found that it pairs well with chocolate!

img_0949

Using the 1M tip, I piped a rose swirl and ended each rose with the edible flowers. Simple, just like that.

img_0957

Try it and let me know how you think?

Chocolate cupcakes ( yields about 16 cupcakes)

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2oog caster sugar
200g plain flour, sifted
40g Cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
240ml buttermilk (I add 1tbsp of vinegar to 240ml of milk and let it stand for 5 minutes)
2 large eggs ( I used 60g)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the cupcake tin with cases

2. In a mixer bowl, place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed until all are fully mixed and the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, pour the buttermilk and add in the eggs. Then whisk the two together until properly mixed.

4. Pour 3/4 of the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

5. Raise the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and thickens. Scrap down the sides of the mixer bowl regularly to ensure proper mixing.

6. Pour the remaining 1/4 milk-egg mixture into the batter and continue to beat on medium, until all the ingredients are fully mixed and the batter is smooth.

7. Spoon the batter into the cases until 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes, until the batter is risen and spring back when touched.

8. Leave the cupcakes to cool a little before removing them from the tin.

 

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 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 whites 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, the buttercream will come together.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate and whisk it one last time so that it is mixed well in the buttercream.

Playdate + Chicken Stew = Comfort

I love playdates.

When Faith was younger, playdates gave me great relief from the mundane of everyday life with a young kid. I remember the first time Faith went for one with planned lesson, I was the more excited person. I could meet up with my friends at last! Apart from meeting up with friends to have a chit-chat session after the ‘lesson’, playdates enable us to observe how our children behave with their peers and track their development.

My SIL and I started to meet once weekly recently so that the children could have fun swimming together and enjoy their evening with some play time. When they were younger, they played alongside each other, not speaking much. Now, they were truly engaging each other in lively conversations and I  find myself amused by it. How they have grown!

Having playdates in the late afternoon means that I have to make sure that dinner is prepared before we set off so that when we return, we could come back to a decent meal. And, you know I love one-pot meal and I particularly like this chicken stew. I know, I know, chicken stew is so easy to make and there is really no need for a recipe. You just throw everything in the pot, cook and viola, you have one great meal!

Just for record’s sake.

Ingredients
400g chicken thighs (cut into smaller pieces)
2 sausages
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 carrots (cut into bit-sized pieces)
250g peas
500ml chicken stock
baby potatoes

  1. Empty the sausages out of the cases into a large pot.
  2. Cook the sausages for 2 to 3 minutes at medium heat until some of the juicy fat comes out of the sausage.
  3. Add the chopped onions and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until they have softened.
  4. Add the chicken thighs and cook until the chicken is no longer pink.
  5. Once the chicken is lightly cooked on both sides, add the chicken stock, peas, carrots and potatoes.
  6. Set the stovetop temperature to the lowest setting, put the pot lid on and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Serve the chicken stew with rice.

Panda cookies

The other day I was at Isetan Scotts and saw a whole array of Bento tools and cookie cutters and I couldn’t help but purchase some of them. One of the sets that I bought was the panda cookie cutters and I thought I should experiment with using it before I get Faith to work on it.

This set comes with the explanatory notes but they are in nihon-go!! Thankfully, the pictures are easy to follow and understand. So I used my usual butter cookie recipe and did up a batch of these cute cookies.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you may add other extract if you desire)
1 tsp charcoal powder

1. Sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the  vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together in large clumps (midway through, I gave up and used hands instead as the dough stuck to my mixer).
3. Press the dough together into a ball and divide it into half. Add the charcoal powder to one of them and knead into a ball.
4.Place each dough between two sheets of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 6mm thick. Place them in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to firm up. I place mine in the freezer.

5. Working with the charcoal dough first, use the black cutter to cut out the base of the panda. Place them on the parchment paper/ silpat in the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator.

img_5868

6. Next, bring out the normal dough and cut out the other details. This part is a bit tricky. I find that when I press the cutters too hard for the eyes and nose, they will crack. So I compress the cutter slightly onto the dough and use toothpick to carve out the eyes.

After that, cut out the head and place it on the body. You have to do it quick since the dough softens fast.

img_5872

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170C.

img_5875

They take a long time to do and I think it’s not suitable for Faith to work on; I will get exasperated! So bake for about 12 – 15 minutes depending on your oven.

img_5881

Ta-da! There’s definitely room for improvement but I will have to wait till the kids aren’t around when I make these again. I was babywearing Dan while making these so the quality is not that good.

img_5885

Dan wants his share too!

Happy Tuesday!

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

img_3042
:: 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.

img_3060
:: 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?

Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

img_1888

And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

img_2293

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.Slice to serve.

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.

Best blueberry muffins

I have tried a few recipes for blueberry muffins and nothing came close to this particular one. When I first looked at the title, I was a tad skeptical. Best blueberry muffins? I understand that tastebuds differ from person to person and to term a recipe the best can be a bit too bold. But as usual, I’m curious and took this opportunity to get the girl to bake with me.

As with many recipes that I’ve tried, I tend to reduce the amount of sugar. And I prefer to use raw sugar instead of caster sugar. And I feel, the key to this recipe is to use a lot of blueberries; don’t save on these fruits. Another point to note: dry them completely after you washed them.

To create a tangy taste, I added the zest of one lemon.

Ingredients:
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs (approx. 55 – 60 g each)
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup (130 g) caster sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter – soften at room temperature
½ cup (120 ml) milk
2¼ cups (250g) fresh blueberries

Zest of one lemon

Topping:
2 tbsp raw sugar – sprinkle on top

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat your oven to 190°C.


Line your muffin tin with 12 muffin liners. The little one could surely assist at this stage. Remember to get her to count!

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer for 2 mins, until pale and fluffy.


Add in one egg at a time and beat until well incorporated. Scrap down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat a low speed, follow by 1/3 of the milk. Alternate the flour and milk until both are well incorporate into the batter. Mix until just combined and do not over mix.



Add in the blueberries and use a spatula to fold into the batter gently.

Scoop a big dollop of the batter into each muffin liner, filling them to almost the top.


Sprinkle generously the raw sugar on top of each muffin and bake for 25 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.


Let them cool in the pan for 10 mins before removing.

It’s almost certain that there will always be some heart-stopping moments when you are baking with little ones. Batter poured out of the mixing bowl, sugar sprinkled unto the floor, etc. I’ve to constantly remind myself that she’s still working on her motor skills and I need to be more gracious. Not easy, especially for a person who likes her kitchen to be clean and neat.

img_8148


I really do like this recipe. The muffins turn out soft and moist and not too sweet. In fact, the sweetness comes more from the blueberries than the sugar. The mom aka critical good reviewer came and I offered her one. Got her 👍👍 for this recipe.


Perhaps you might want to bake this with your kids as well? 😉 Happy baking!

 

Ke-ki delight with Chef Yamashita @Bosch

[Event invite]

You know I love baking. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to share baked goods with loved ones and it always brings a smile to my face when the aroma of those delicious products fill the kitchen. What is more delightful is the chance to meet a renowned chef and to brush shoulders with him.

Last Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to attend the launch of famed pâtissier Chef Yamashita’s third recipe book – “Tanoshii Ke–Ki” – at Bosch Experience Centre and learn how to bake a Yuzu Chiffon Cake from the great baking master himself.

chefyamashita[Credit: Bosch]

Chef Yamashita is such an affable chef and also a funny one. He put all of us at ease as he spoke in Japanese the steps to making the Yuzu Chiffon Cake. Of course, we were able to understand his instructions as he had a translator working alongside him.

A few pointers to note as he showed us the steps:

:: Sift the flour once or twice to aerate it.
:: When preparing the egg yolk batter, you need to add the olive oil really gradually, just like how you make home-made mayonnaise. Do not rush this step to prevent splitting.
:: When the batter is ready, pour it a portion at a time, using a bench scraper if you have. This is to prevent air bubbles to be introduced.

Don’t know what I’m talking about since you don’t have the recipe? No worries! Chef Yamashita has kindly agreed to share it with you!

In Bosch Experience Centre where this event was held, we could see for ourselves how machines can help to make life easier for us. Say, the MaxxiMUM kitchen machine, for example, it could beat the egg whites on all sides of the bowl and its SensorControl could automatically detect the ideal stiffness of the egg whites. Cool eh? And the oven? It’s even smarter with all the different kinds of settings that are available including steaming! You can take a trip down to experience all these cool kitchen gadgets when you are free.

I tell you, the Yuzu Chiffon is simply tantalising. Soft and not overly sweet and more importantly, you could really taste the yuzu. You have to try baking it!

 We were also treated to his lovely Sakura roll cake and Castella cake, a popular Japanese honey spongecake which was originally introduced by the Portuguese merchants to Nagasaki area in the 16th century.

IMG_7044

Flipping through Chef Yamashita’s third book, I realised they are easy to bake Japanese-inspired French confections. They range from his signature sponge, chiffon and mousse cakes to egg-free treats so that everyone can recreate these easy-to-follow cake recipes in their own homes. I’m really excited and tempted to bake all of them!

For a start, why don’t you try your hands on this Yuzu Chiffon Cake?

Ingredients:
120g pastry flour
3g baking powder

Egg yolk batter
4 egg yolks
40g castor sugar
45g olive oil
30g milk
85g honey yuzu tea syrup

Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

Chantilly cream (optional)
400g whipping cream
20g castor sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together pastry flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add olive oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Add honey yuzu tea and mix again. Set aside.
  4. Prepare meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.
  9. Prepare Chantilly cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk whipping cream and sugar at high speed util medium soft peaks form.
  10. Decorate cake with Chantilly carea,, fresh fruit, chocolate balls, dollops of honey yuzu tea syrup and biscuits crumbs if desired.
  11. Refriegerate for 30 minutes before serving. Consume within a day.

IMG_6959
Chef Yamashita Masataka trained at the Tsuji Culinary Institute, a well-known and respected culinary institute in Osaka, Japan. He gained experience working at various patisseries around Japan for a decade before starting his own patisserie in Nara, which quickly became one of the top patisseries there. Eight years later, yearning for new challenges and a change of scenery, che Yamashita moved to Singapore where he took charge of the kitchen at Patisserie Glace, turning it into a haven for delightful cakes and pastries. Chef Yamashita soon saw an opportunity to revive his patisserie from Japan and re-established Flor Patisserie at Duxton Hill, Sigapore. Today, chef Yamashita runs his own highly successful Japanese artisan patisserie at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, aptly named Chef Yamashita.  He is also appointed as brand ambassador for Bosch Home Appliances.

IMG_7370

 

[Foodie Fridays] Mini Hamburgers

12994576_10153583181359677_4527338016920372208_n

Sensory play gets real when you involve the kids in the kitchen. It’s no longer wooden fruits that they are playing with, for example, but real ones which they could smell and feel. I love to have children in the kitchen. Obviously, I roar if they play in it but I will always welcome them to help in the food preparation.

One fine day, I was in the mood for sliders and asked her to help out in mixing the raw ingredients with her hands. She thought it fun initially until she laid her hands on them. Eek! Gross! And quickly withdrew her hands from the bowl. Too late, the act must go on. It did get better as she continued and in the end, managed a smile and danced a little as she shaped the mixture into patties. I’m not asking for perfection; I’m asking for effort and effort she gave.

This following recipe is just a simple recipe to make the burger. It’s nothing spectacular and you can definitely use different meat or even toufu as part of the ingredients. Marinade is up to you. Normally I use oyster sauce and that will be enough.

13015184_10153583181384677_2857804879341484474_n

This is another version of my slider – chicken cutlet burger.
Do encourage your kids to help out in the kitchen. They will be glad to do so. A little mess is expected though. Keep calm and carry on cooking.

Ingredients (good for 8 burgers)
300g minced organic beef
200g minced pork
1/2 chopped onion
3 tbsps breadcrumbs ( I used panko)
1 egg (whisked briefly)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
A dash of ground black pepper
8 mini buns
Slices of cheese

:: Put minced meat, chopped onion, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley and ground black pepper into a large bowl. Mix well with hand. So I had a red pepper in the refrigerator and I tried to sneak them into the mixture. Bad move because Faith noticed them quite immediately and subsequently asked to remove them as she ate the burger. And…I insisted that she ate some.

During the mixing part, there was resistance from the girl. I mean, it’s no longer pretend play but the real thing. You should just see her facial expression – disgust! This is real sensory play!

:: Divide the meat mixture into 8 portions and make mini burgers (of about 5-6cm wide). Put them into a plate and cover with aluminium foil. Steam over high heat for 5 minutes. Wipe dry.

It is important to keep encouraging the girl as she continued in her effort to combine the mixture together. Working alongside her helps greatly and before you know it, she was already at ease with it. She wouldn’t be able to make a consistent round shape in the same size. It’s okay! Praise is allowed for effort shown!

:: Heat a little oil in a pan. Fry the burgers over medium-low hear until both sides are golden.

:: Sandwich the bun with a slice of cheese, some greens and burger. You obviously can add other ingredients like tomato, mustard and the like. I think it’s up to individual’s creativity.

13051624_10153583181249677_6752379527120515478_n

Ezekiel bread

Have you heard of Ezekiel bread?

I haven’t until a friend asked me to take a look at this recipe . This bread is very different from the ones I have been baking because it uses a lot of grains instead of flour. In short,

Ezekiel bread is a type of sprouted grain bread that is prepared using traditional methods of soaking, sprouting and baking that have been in existence for thousands of years. Ezekiel bread is made using sprouted whole grains, legumes and sometimes seeds. It contains no sugar, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients, unlike most other commercial breads.

Compared to breads that don’t contain sprouted grains, Ezekiel bread has more protein, fiber, and absorbable vitamins and minerals. It also contains less harmful antinutrients, like phytic acid, and is even less concentrated with gluten.

[Source]

IMG_4870

I was more curious than anything when I decided to bake this bread. I mean, look at all these ingredients involved! All good stuff but to turn them into a bread like the picture on that page?

I followed the recipe to a tee.

Ingredients:
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
½ cup / 90g flax seeds
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats ( contains far less gluten than bread)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups / 350ml water

Once you have the ingredients ready, it’s pretty much an easy job of adding and mixing them.

Directions:

:: In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.

:: Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.

Before and after baking

:: Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).

:: Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!IMG_4915

This is one slice of the loaf and I was wondering what I did wrongly because it doesn’t look like the one that is shown in the page. I must have misunderstood the ingredients! Something must have gone wrong!

And then I realised that it was not. I went to the original post and saw the picture. Same as mine! It’s a beautiful write-up. Do take some time to read it. 😉

So I made myself a hearty breakfast this morning and resolved to eat well from now on and…read a content more carefully. Heh…

 

 

Foodie Fridays | Five spice chicken

I hardly post recipes nowadays. It’s not because I seldom cook. On the contrary, I churn out meals almost every day (except the weekends) for both lunch and dinner. It’s just that I have been cooking the usual stuff that it seems unnecessary to record it here. Even if I had wanted to blog about the recipes, I wouldn’t have the time to come up with exact measurement for them since everything is by aga aga (to estimate).

But I do constantly look out for recipes that are easy and uncomplicated. If I can help it, I would stir-fry less and steam my food more often. It’s healthier but more importantly, it saves me the effort to have to clean my kitchen properly (I’m quite particular about having a clean kitchen).

IMG_2373

One fine day, I came across this recipe and it didn’t take me long to experiment with it. It’s a total winner! All you need to do is to marinate the chicken thighs for at least a day (up to 2 days) and bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add them to your bowl of rice and top it with some blanched leafy vegetables and you will have a hearty and delicious meal!

This recipe is for keeps.
(Adapted from here)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon  honey
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice
  • 3 boneless skin-on chicken thighs

Directions

IMG_2362

  1. Whisk together the dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, oyster sauce, garlic and five spice powder in a small bowl until well combined.
  2. Pour this marinade over the chicken thighs, flipping them over several times to coat evenly and marinate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to roast the chicken, prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 200 C. 
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the sheet pan, skin-side up. Reserve the marinade for basting.
  5. Roast the chicken for 6 minutes, and then brush the tops with some of the remaining marinade.
  6. Continue roasting for another 6-8 minutes, or until the edges are lightly charred.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serve on top of the rice.

IMG_2364

Try it!

Gingerbread cookies

ABM_1450680428

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.

20151221_142339

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.
20151223_155436 20151223_155700
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.
20151223_161518
These are her creation.
A piece of art, I must say. ;p
I will get her to do a better job next year.

[Foodie Fridays] Mango Chia Seeds Pomelo

IMG_20151212_100336

One of my favourite dessert is the Mango Sago Pomelo dessert and it is not difficult to make at all. To make a healthier version, I replaced the sago with Chia Seeds and since I don’t fancy the idea of drinking evaporated milk, I substituted it with coconut milk and pasteurized milk. I guess I could make it even healthier by using almond milk but I suspect the taste would be a tad different from the original. For now, I quite like how this version turns out – it’s somewhat the same as the one I like.

20151210_205325

I managed to yield 6 portions from this recipe.

200ml coconut milk
200ml milk
4 tbsp chia seeds (though I think 3 tbsp is sufficient)
400ml mango juice (I used Marigold’s Peel Fresh Tropical Mango)
3 mangoes

20151210_205953

  1. Combine both coconut milk and milk together and add in the Chia Seeds to allow them to bloom. Set aside in the fridge.

20151210_210307

2. Remove the flesh from the mango. Set aside some for garnishing later.

20151210_212207

3. Using a handheld blender, blend the mango flesh together with the mango juice until it is well-mixed.

20151210_212520

4. Add in the chia seeds + milk mixture to the mango mixture and stir until they are mixed well.

20151211_091821

5. Peel the pomelo and remove the flesh, breaking them up into smaller portions. I only used about half of the pomelo. Store the rest in the fridge.

20151211_130950  20151211_130848

6. Pour the mango mixture onto a glass and top it up with mango bits and pomelo.

20151211_130748

This is best served chilled and I reserved a few bottles in the fridge and ate them a day later. Still mighty good. I don’t usually make this dessert but because I saw both the main ingredients for sale in the supermarket and decided to make it.

Really pleasurable!

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

It’s my sis’ birthday tomorrow and I thought that I should bake her a birthday cake since mom’s cooking dinner this evening. Naturally, the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake came to mind because my nephews love strawberries and our family prefers light cakes anytime. Thankfully, I have strawberries and whipped cream in the fridge so it makes decision making easier.

strawberryshortcake

I went ahead and used the traditional sponge cake method. 6″ cake pans were used since I did not want a big cake. That said, I do have a tall 6″ cake in the end.

(A)
4 eggs
120g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
110g all-purpose flour (sifted)

(C)
70g melted butter

1. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

2. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended.

3. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the greased pans. Bake at 180C for about 20 min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes. Remove them from the pans immediately when done and let cool.

I’m used to using IMBC and was rather hesitant about using whipped cream because my kitchen is really warm. Since there is no harm in experimenting and because it’s really for family, I decided to give it a try. Using 300g of whipped cream, I used the balloon whisk and whisk it till stiff peak. Preferably, the metal bowl should be cold but I forgot to keep it in the fridge before that. But hey, it still works. And I’m pleasantly surprised that it holds well even when it’s kept out of the fridge for half an hour (before the cake cutting).

interior (2)

My folks said the sponge cake is rather light but I think it can go lighter. The next time I experiment with it, I might use cake flour and add a little glucose to see the difference it will make. Also, the whipped cream is a tad thick so I should just reduce it by a wee bit.

familypic (2)In any case, I’m glad to have baked this cake. It’s been a while since I last baked a cake for a birthday celebration. And more importantly, it warmed my heart to see the folks enjoy this dessert.

(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.

image

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.

image

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).

image

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!

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans

Baking with a toddler

This is not so much a post about a recipe but thoughts about spending time with Faith on a one-to-one basis. Quality time, so they say. You might be surprised and ask, “But you are a SAHM! Of course, you should be able to spend more time with her!” That is true, of course, except that there are dishes to clear, toilets to clean, floors to mop and meals to prepare, just to name a few. And all these take time.

However, as I take a step back, I realise that Faith desires to work on stuff together with me, remembers those incidents and narrates them in her own way. She actually enjoys those activities! So, I’ve decided household chores can wait a wee bit and start focusing on building wonderful memories for her by getting her involved in the KITCHEN.

If you know me, I love baking and cooking and I think such an interest can be felt by the little one. She observes me daily in the kitchen and then recently, keeps telling me, “I want to see Mama doing.” I believe the hands-on baking workshop at the Colgate event and the recent cookie baking and decorating session I had with her have fueled her interest.

I might as well get her involved then. Which turns out to be really awesome.

So our recent project is to bake some savoury cupcakes together. To be honest, they are not the most delicious but I guess they are nutritious enough for the little one. I packed in salmon and spinach in it but I think adding bacon would really enhance the flavour (but I try not to use processed meat).

image

What you would need
:: 1 1/4 cups of organic unbleached plain flour
:: 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
:: 1 cup grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, chopped vegetables, etc
:: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
:: 50g cooked salmon or chicken meat, finely chopped
:: 1 egg
:: 1/4 cup of milk
:: 50g unsalted butter, melted
:: olive oil or butter to grease the pan

** Original recipe from Beanstalk magazine (the magazine for early childhood practitioners and parents)

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease the cupcake pan with olive oil or butter.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. I got Faith to do this step and nearly fainted because her aiming is really bad but I had to put on a calm and joyous front.

image

3. Add grated veggies, meat and cheese. Toss well to mix.

4. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter together.

image5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones, stir until just combined. Do not overmix as your cupcakes will be tough.

6. Spoon into the cupcake pan. I used a mini cupcake pan as mini ones can be easily handled by the little girl when she’s consuming them.

image  image

7. Spoon into the cupcake pan.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes or until golden brown. insert a toothpick into one of the cupcakes. if baked through, the toothpick will come out clean.

I must say I was nervous the whole time Faith handled the equipment. I don’t really welcome mess but we all know it is inevitable especially when working with young kids since their grip and coordination skills are not there yet. I have to remind myself to have fun with her.

An attitude of fun creates a positive atmosphere.

image{via SunshineInkStudio from etsy}

Apart from that concern, it is really a worthwhile activity to work on. As we baked, we conversed and i told her the names of the various ingredients and methods like whisking, stirring, pouring, etc and she could remember them! What a useful practical lesson!

I believe we would do more of such activities again. Why don’t you do so with your kids too? 😉

Easy and delicious recipes that we could work on together (for now):

:: Mini quiche

:: Broccoli, cheese and mushroom easy pies

:: Pizza

:: Pasta pies

So, stay tuned!

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.

image image
image image
image image

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:

image

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

image

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.

image image

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.

image

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

image

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

image image

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.

image

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. 

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

Frozen themed chocolate cupcakes

Frozen is still very much a popular theme for birthday cakes! Just recently, I did some Frozen toppers for the cupcakes at the requests of my friend and I’m still wondering when this craze will be over.

image

A few days before the collection day, I made the toppers and it took me about 1.5 hours to do just the Olaf and the snowflakes! I must be taking my own sweet time! How frustrating!

image

 

I baked some some vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for this batch and top each cupcakes with Italian meringue buttercream. Would love to add in a scoop of jam or ganache in the cupcakes but decided against anything too fanciful for the time being.

Chocolate cupcakes ( yields about 18 cupcakes)

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g caster sugar

200g plain flour, sifted

40g Cocoa powder, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

240ml buttermilk (I add 1tbsp of vinegar to 240ml of milk and let stand for 5 minutes)

2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the cupcake tin with cases

2. In a mixer bowl, place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed until all are fully mixed and the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, pour the milk and add in the eggs. Then whisk the two together until properly mixed.

4. Pour 3/4 of the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

5. Raise the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and thickens. Scrap down the sides of the mixer bowl regularly to ensure proper mixing.

6. Pour the remaining 1/4 milk-egg mixture into the batter and continue to beat on medium, until all the ingredients are fully mixed and the batter is smooth.

7. Spoon the batter into the cases until 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes, until the batter is risen and spring back when touched.

8. Leave the cupcakes to cool a little before removing them from the tin.

image

image

I pipe roses onto the cupcakes using tip 1M.

image

For a few of the cupcakes that are to be decorated with the snowflakes, I sprinkled some sugar on it. The sprinklers are just brown sugar + a little royal blue colouring.

image

And that’s it! Of the three characters, I think Olaf looks more like himself whereas the other two characters look like erm… ordinary girls?

Pizza lunch date and a mushroom soup recipe

Every so often, I would plan a lunch date with my sister and we would prepare some fun stuff for the kids to work on for their lunch. Previously, it was sushi and this time round, I thought of having pizza. Obviously, the base (bread dough) has to be prepared by the adults and the children would just need to place the toppings of their choice onto the dough.

IMG-20150123-WA0004

 

It was just like that. Simple. Obviously, Faith needed a little guidance but there’s nothing too difficult about ‘throwing’ ingredients onto the base.

IMG-20150123-WA0005 IMG-20150123-WA0006

Love how the kids were watching intently as I put some mozzarella cheese on top. The little one wanted to help as well.

IMG-20150123-WA0011

Our homemade pizza.

Besides the pizza, I prepared mushroom soup as well. Nope, not campbell soup although that would save me lots of time. I personally prefer those that has a lot of mushrooms in it. The more variety, the better. The following mushroom soup recipe will take up some time and effort but the end result is all worth it, especially if you are a mushroom lover like Faith and me!

_2PJQd9Qen_9xbl4jYP2qlJxr36I3L_uPL4YOfm6DccG=w702-h524-no

Creamy Mushroom Soup (adapted from Easy Recipes by Christine Ho)

200g Portobello mushroom
150g of a mixture of brown and white button
50g of shittake mushroom
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup [homemade] chicken stock
1 cup water
80 ml cooking cream/whipping cream ( use whatever amount you are happy with)

[Thickening]
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

1. Wipe the mushroom clean and cut into big pieces. Set aside. (Good quality mushrooms only need to be cleaned with a wet cloth before cooking. If you really want to rinse with water, make sure you do not soak them in water for too long since they tend to soak up lots of water, thus affecting the taste of the dish).

20150123_084853

2. Heat a heavy-based saucepan. Add butter and vegetable oil. When the butter starts to melt, add the chopped garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add mushrooms and stir-fry over medium-high heat. The mushrooms will absorb the fats very quickly. Do take note.

20150123_085208

3. Add chicken stock and water. Bring to boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

20150123_092617 20150123_092623

4. Turn the heat off and let it cool slightly. Drain the mushrooms and puree using the food processor (mine is a chopper) in two batches. Return to the saucepan and warm over medium heat.

20150123_093015

5. Add cream. Adding the cream is the key to producing the creamy smoothness of this soup. I didn’t add all of the 80ml since I want it less ‘sinful’ because the little ones would be having it. ;p Do stir well!

20150123_115500

6. When it starts to boil, stir in the thickening. Cook to desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with croutons.

It does seem like a lot of work but when it first take a spoonful, you will find that the effort is all worth it. Try it and see if you like this version of the mushroom soup. This recipe is adapted from Christine Ho’s Easy Recipes and I really do like the recipes found in that cookbook/ website.

Merry Christmas!

I know it’s a bit late to wish everyone a blessed Christmas but I’ve been really busy these days. Days leading up to this wonderful day, I was spending time with the family, bringing Faith on outings with her cousins and meeting up with her playmates. On top of these, there were also cake orders so blogging has taken a step back. There are many memories that I want to record but I just couldn’t find the time! What has added to this agony is the fact that my macbook is showing signs of dying for it runs at an incredibly slow speed, making blogging a real pain. Do you face the same situation as me? ;(

IMG_20141225_211318

Anyway, this post is about some Christmas cake orders that I had and I thought I should just blog about it, for memories’ sake and also for my own personal record. Hah.

IMG_20141224_091717

On Christmas eve, my friend ordered 20 cupcakes from me and asked specifically that they be decorated with fondant. There are many Christmas cupcake toppers on pinterest and I love the tutorial of the Santa Claus from The Designer Cake Company. Aren’t they adorable? I ❤ pinterest a lot!

2014-12-24 09.55.43

I love it when cakes/ cupcakes are packed in boxes! It’s an exhilarating feeling, I kid you not!

IMG_20141223_181044

An ex-colleague ordered this chocolate cake with topping cream and chocolate ganache. In it, I put in various kinds of fresh fruits namely raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries. Expensive fruits, I must say, if you are from this part of the world. It’s a small cake and it looks so elegant. Makes me very happy!

IMG_20141225_155907

The last cake for this Christmas season is this log cake. I had wanted to bake it for a Boxing Day gathering. Alas, the meeting was cancelled Since I had bought the toppers and they couldn’t last me for another year, I thought I should just go ahead and bake the log cake, using a light chocolate sponge cake.

(A)
4 eggs
120g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
95g all-purpose flour
15g cocoa powder

(C)
70g hot melted butter

1. Grease and line a shallow pan (I used a 25 x 25 x 2cm). Set the oven to 190C.

2. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

3. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended

4. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Remove it from the pan immediately when done.

20141225_142135

I turn it into another parchment paper that is sprinkled with icing sugar so that the sponge cake will not stick so much to the parchment paper.

20141225_143800 20141225_143940

 With the seam side down, let the cake cool completely before proceeding to the next step.

20141225_152754

Unroll the sponge cake, brush a layer of sugar syrup (with chocolate extract) and put a layer of whipped topping cream and add in cherries (those that come in the frozen pack).

20141225_152857

Roll the sponge cake back! It will look a little ugly at this point in time but not to worry, you can always beautify it with chocolate ganache!

20141225_153242

Since I’m using a small cake board, I have to divide the sponge cake into 2 portions and since the smaller one at an angle so that it will attach nicely to the main one (as in the pic).

20141225_155038Spread chocolate ganache on the cake and use the tines of a fork to make the lines. Add the toppers and sprinkle some icing sugar to create the snowy look and…

318SDuIjiVViZZZeoy5aDI3SBClDlhXLz_2iSqO9IeRa=w514-h524-no

There you have it, a simple log cake! I got my family to taste it and my mum who is oh-so-critical approves of it! Yay!

IMG_20141214_223748

Once again, have a blessed Christmas! Hope to find more time to add more entries on this space!

Hello, Hello Kitty!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I’m inspired to decorate my cakes according to this season. How about a simple Hello Kitty cake for a start?

I bought the Hello Kitty pan a while back and it has been sitting in the cabinet for too long. I had only used it once and I thought I should give it some life!

2014-11-09 17.21.53

I decided to bake the traditional sponge cake, a recipe by Alex Goh, the one that is rather soft and one whom my mom might approve. All these while, the cakes that I bake are dense since they have to be decorated with fondant. It’s time to bake the softer version!

(A)
4 eggs
120g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
110g all-purpose flour

(C)
70g hot melted butter

1. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

2. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended

3. Add (C) and mix well.

20141108_195251

4. Pour the batter into the greased pan (you really need to grease this pan well!). Bake at 180C for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove it from the pan immediately when done.

20141109_150050

This cake can be troublesome to slice into two and I find it a bit plain to just eat the cake with buttercream only. So, I injected some strawberry jam using Wilton tip #230 before covering it with with Italian Meringue Buttercream and dessicated coconut to give a more natural feel to Hello Kitty. The more common ones we see in bakeries are covered with fondant but I think it is equally good to cover it with buttercream. To create the Christmas theme, I added cranberries and the fondant holly leaves. Faith saw the cake and kept saying, “I want eat cake.” She had her wish of course since this is not a very sweet cake. My father-in-law who has a very sweet tooth much preferred the sweeter version. Difficult to please!

20141109_184350-SMILE  20141109_184444

There’s no occasion for the cake. We just cut and eat! I think the sponge cake can be softer if I use the cake flour. Fellow bakers, why don’t you try and let me know?

😉

Playdate, Sharing & an Orange Almond Cake Recipe

We resumed our regular playdate this week and initially, we had planned to have it in the outdoors but due to the haze, we had to abandon that idea.

Ade hosted us and since we were early, we took the time to explore some of the materials that the host had kindly set up for the kids. Among them was the LeapFrog farm animal mash-up kit which Faith was attracted to. She had to identify parts of the animals and if she has done so correctly, the sound made by the animal would be played. Cool eh?

20140918_092546 Ade started the session with the recap and introduction of the farm animals using materials like this and this. I think the kids especially liked the Melissa and Doug‘s farm animal sound puzzle. You can see them inching forward to piece the animal so that the relevant sound was made.

20140918_095032

After that she read the story ‘Barnyard Dance’ by one of my favourite authors, Sandra Boynton. Faith has read this book before and we love the story. This time round, we did the actions! So fun!

20140918_095707

We missed craft time for this week and shifted Practical Life up to replace it. We had five stations – snake button, sorting of coloured animals, practising of pincers’ grip, matching of animals’ parts and stacking.

20140918_100449

Sorting

20140918_102204

Snake button

Practising pincers' grip

Practising pincers’ grip

Matching of animals' parts

Matching of animals’ parts

Stacking

Stacking

When I put myself in charge of this segment, I was worried that I might not have enough ideas and resources. Thankfully, friends lent me stuff prior to this day and in the end, I was able to set up the various stations, each requiring the kids to work on different skills. I am indeed thankful for their generosity and I am reminded that this is a quality that I want the little one to learn from young. I don’t embrace the idea of buying things for her just because she likes it. Most of the time, we borrow from others and she has to learn to lend her belongings to her friends too. And I’m heartened to note that the mummies in this group share their resources all too willingly. Yay to such a spirit!

10689843_10152477455454234_1567073800652616413_n-1

Chinese lesson – Jenna shared the Chinese terms for the various farm animals and we sang ‘Row, row, row your boat’ in Mandarin, and this we did the action too! The children had fun and I really feel that the kids want to have fun with their mommies too and not just learning with their peers.

10593039_10152477455709234_1720178140975558360_n

For big muscle activity, I got the children to have relay with the bottle caps that were given to me by a dear friend. Just in time! The kids were supposed to run from one end to the other, gathering as many bottle caps as they could within a certain time frame. I think they like it and this item could be kept.

20140918_110807

After the activity, Maths came in as the mummies counted the number of bottle caps that the kids could gather.

10410872_10152477456394234_7195215505649026017_n

Just the four of us today!

Below is the recipe for Orange Almond Cake which I have baked for the mommies. Got the little one to help me carry the baked goods to Auntie Ade’s place! Hopefully, the girl will catch on the spirit of giving and serving from young!

IMG_20140918_171754

IMG_20140917_172119

Group A
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
150g sugar

Group B
190g unbleached flour/ plain flour
50g ground almond
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Group C
40g Orange juice
1 orange zest, grated
200g unsalted butter, melted

Almond slices

1. Whip (a) until sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns thick. Fold in (B) and mix until well blended.

2. Stir in (C) and mix until well incorporated.

3. Pour it into greased cup cake moulds ( I used square ones) and sprinkle some almond slices on top.

20140917_163341

4. Bake at 190C for 20-25 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. Remove them immediately from the moulds when done.

😉

Black Sesame Seed Beancurd Chiffon Cake

I’m excited.

To bake.

You should have seen the many bookmarks that I have made on the cookbooks.

I’m itching to bake them.

IMG_20140915_183002

First up is this Poppy Seed/ Black Sesame Seed Beancurd Chiffon Cake. The original recipe calls for poppy seeds but because it is illegal for us to own them, the alternative is to use toasted black sesame seeds.

(Adapted from Alex Goh’s Fruity Cakes)

Ingredients (A)
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
50g vegetable oil
40g soy milk
65g beancurd

Ingredients (B)
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Ingredients (C)
4 egg whites
80g sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients (D)
1 tbsp poppy seeds/ toasted sesame seeds

1. Mix (A) until well blended and then add (B) and mix well.

2. Whisk egg whites in (C) until soft peaks form (foamy stage). Then add sugar and cream of tartar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks are formed.

3. Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix with the above egg yolk mixture from step (1) until well combined. Add the remaining meringue and fold well.

IMG_20140915_162020

4. Add (D) and mix until well combined.

5. Pour the batter into a 22-cm angel food cake tin. Bake at 170C for 40 -45 minutes. I used a 17-cm tin and it worked okay.

6. Immediately invert it after taking it out from the oven and let it cool.

iyNo5_EUhjcABCdTVNAxP83SdxP2ZcnRnJbPEBUk1yDj=w632-h480-no

 

PVcUS-DvmrZv1w_ZK9ceR6ymlrN3vGvAMwvlS5DvaYXl=w619-h480-no

7. When it is cool, remove it from the mould.

* I used poppy seeds for this cake since I have a little left in the kitchen.
* Didn’t manage to take a lot of pictures for the steps since I thought that it would be a failed attempt but it works! Will do so the next time!

Foodie Friday | On Fussy Eaters and Chocolate Almond Cupcakes

[This post contains a discount code on all book purchases at NoQ Store].

I haven’t been blogging about Faith’s 16th and 17th month’s progress. She is growing well. However, if there is one thing that really bothers me, it would be the fact that she has developed pickiness in foods.

Naturally, I’m concerned because she used to be a voracious eater and was willing to try ALL sorts of food. She loved to eat but all of a sudden, she decided that her favorite salmon isn’t going to be part of her diet and that she currently goes for bread more. She can articulate 面 包 (bread) really clearly by the way and she keeps repeating it until it irks you. She quite dislikes most forms of meat which is a cause of concern for me. Feeding her can sometimes be a chore and frustrates me to the core because she will spit out the food that is offered to her. I can almost hear my innermost being scream “NO!!!!”.

20140429_125944-MIX

She loves fishballs, Char Siew Pau (BBQ bun), bread, biscuits and fruits and doesn’t mind vegetables. But I can’t always feed these to her all the time. Issues of picky eating are related to how the child’s taste buds function. The five different taste buds have different levels of sensitivity, with one of those taste buds typically extra sensitive to a particular flavour. That is often the major factor in the emergence of pickiness and why some kids don’t like certain strong flavours in some vegetables or meats. The important thing is to keep trying the food with the little one, perhaps by varying the temperature or texture of the food, or by combining it with other foods that she likes.

And I did that.

I subscribe to how the French bring up the kids with reference to food, that we have to keep getting the kiddo to try the food because a child can’t be determined to dislike a particular food until they have tried it at least a dozen times. I am also aware that between the age of 12 to 24 months, it is actually the time to introduce the widest range of foods, colours, textures and flavours to a kid and is said to be the decisive year when what a kid eats will shape her eating habits for the rest of her life.

*Alarmed*

SHINO_SmartBites_mech.indd

Thankfully I stumbled upon this book which contains 300 easy-to-make meals. There aren’t a lot of beautiful photos of meals but when you really read the contents and look through the varied meals found in there, you realised that you are in for a treat. A lot of the recipes contain salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, seaweed and eggs, among others, *think high DHA Omega-3 fatty acids*, and I love how the author creates meals using ingredients found all over the world. It’s education for me too!

I went on to try and adapt some of the recipes. I find myself being inspired to create those dishes which are easy to prepare.

20140430_181653 20140427_130845

My stir-fried macaroni with salmon and seaweed is inspired by her buckwheat noodle soup with seaweed and salmon while the steamed tofu meatballs are inspired by her sesame chicken with tofu and seaweed. There are so many other recipes that I want to try like Norwegian fish cakes, quinoa soup with cod and coconut mango millet bake, just to name a few.

The following is a Chocolate almond cupcakes recipe. The original recipe uses sesame seeds. Since I cannot be entirely sure if Faith is allergic to sesame seeds, I have switched it to ground almond. Thankfully, Faith likes them! They are not really sweet and for a while, I thought the little one would reject! Phew!

20140428_153717

 

Ingredients:20140428_141748
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup ground almond
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Slivered almond for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 190 C.

2. Prepare muffin tray with cupcake liners or use cupcake cases.

3. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, flaxseeds, sesame, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, brown sugar and vanilla until well-blended and smooth.

20140428_143324

5. Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix well.

6. Fill each cup 2/3 full with the batter and then sprinkle each with a few slivered slmond.

20140428_143748

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, and let cool.

20140428_152753

 

Just for you, dear readers: noq
If you are interested in this book or any other books, you can get them from NoQ Store. You will be entitled to an exclusive 15% discount on all purchases at NoQ Store when you use code LYNNLLY at the checkout. This discount is valid until 31 July 2014.
Nope, I’m not paid to advertise for this book. I just find it useful and want to share it with you! But we did get a few books for Faith via NoQ Store since they are more reasonably priced than the ones at the bookstores. Go on, get yourselves some books! 😉

20140419_103441

Reference: 
Shino, M. (2012). Smart bites for Baby: 300 easy-to-make, easy-to-love meals that boost your baby and toddler’s brain. Da Capo Press, Boston, MA.
Loh, C.G. (2013). Parenting without borders. Surprising lessons parents around the world can teach us. Avery.

A busy week and a soy-marinated steamed salmon don recipe

After a week of solo parenting (almost), this week wasn’t really kind as well. Faith ran a temperature for a few days and as a result, I incur more sleep debt. Thankfully, da man didn’t have to work late this week and could help out.

Faith has a tendency to explore every nook and corner of the house (as with most children) and then continue to indulge her curiosity by tasting whatever she picks up. When I was in the shower, she would open up the cover of the sewage pipe, touch it (the moss and all) and then put her finger into her mouth. I was desperately knocking at the glass door and asking her to stop but it was in vain. Perhaps, that is the result why she fell ill. Too much ‘goodies’ in her stomach.

We didn’t send her to the doc as we wanted her to fight the virus herself. Of course, our next course of action, should she not recover, was to consult the doc. Her temperature hovered around 39C, which was not really alarming until it hit 40C, I was told. Sponging her was a total waste of time as she refused such a treatment. In the end, we surrendered and gave her paracetamol instead. Those few days, a lot of diapers were used since she purged out a lot of waste (a good thing) and by the fourth day, she was well. Her cheerful disposition and appetite returned. Phew!20140403_163323 (1)

So, this week, I could only do one decent meal. All others are just ‘anyhow’ put together. This soy-marinated steamed salmon don recipe is so easy and fuss-free to prepare. Using the rice cooker, I steam the salmon while I parboil the sweet beans. Then I fry some eggs (with milk, soy sauce and pepper) before preparing the soy marinade. The salmon is then infused in the marinade for a few minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can marinade the salmon overnight before steaming it.

Soy Marinade
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of mirn
2 tbsp of sake
2 lemon slices

20140403_175603

 

This week, I’m thankful to my father-in-law who came over to spend time with the little girl so that I could do some baking.

20140403_132835-MOTION

 

And we celebrated mom’s and brother-in-law’s birthday. As usual, my cake received a lot of critique from my mom. So, I’m still in a quest to improve my cake!

20140401_200209-MOTION

 

Bakwan Kepiting

20131211-170621.jpg

Oh no! It’s already December and I have not attempted any Peranakan recipes which I have aimed to do so by the end of the year. If I am to work on any recipe right now, it has to be Bakwan Kepiting, the hubs’ favourite, or so I thought.

Bakwan Kepiting is a Peranakan soupy dish that comprises minced pork, bamboo shoots, crab and prawn meat. Ken’s auntie will often cook this dish as she told me that it is his favourite. As a good wife (ahem!), I should really make an effort to make them. In the Singapore Mom Bloggers’ community, there are quite a number of Peranakans and one of the mommies, Adeline, had posted this recipe before and I promised myself that I would attempt one day. After going through the recipe, I’m personally surprised that there isn’t much sauce to be used for marinating the meat.

So, here I am, making Bakwan Kepiting for the dinner! Do visit Adeline’s page if you want to make this dsh. For me, I’ll just post the photos to remind myself the steps to making them.

Ingredients: Prawns, Crab and pork, all minced. Bamboo shoots, thinly sliced.

Ingredients: Prawns, Crab and pork, all minced. Bamboo shoots, thinly sliced.

Add cornflour and egg and mix. Leave aside for flavour to blend.

Add cornflour and egg and mix. Leave aside for flavour to blend.

Shape the marinated mixture into balls. Prepare the soup based using preserved soy bean paste and garlic cloves.

Shape the marinated mixture into balls. Prepare the soup based using preserved soy bean paste and garlic cloves.

The outcome: The hubs returned and told me that this dish is really not his favourite. It is his, based on what his auntie thought. Sigh! That revelation aside, I find the meat balls too smooth, and lack texture. Perhaps it’s because I have asked the stall-holder to grind the pork twice making the minced meat really, really minced! It’s a bit different from how Ken’s auntie made but still delicious nonetheless. Oh yes, the crab meat? I bought the canned type and it is rather expensive. Well, I guess it has to be since what is inside the can is really purely crab MEAT.

20131211-170535.jpg

I’ll attempt this again… for my in-laws the next time.
1 out of 5 Peranakan dishes attempted. 4 more to go!

‘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.

20131129-060521.jpg

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. 🙂
20131129-060351.jpg
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.
20131129-060359.jpg
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.
20131129-060408.jpg 20131129-060417.jpg
20131129-060434.jpg 20131129-060441.jpg
20131129-060451.jpg 20131129-060500.jpg
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.
20131129-060509.jpg
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!
20131129-060540.jpg
Linking up with

Japanese Strawberry cake (again!)

This is a continuation from the previous post.

IMG_9225

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!

IMG_9192 IMG_9193

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.

IMG_9194

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.

IMG_9210

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.

IMG_9211 IMG_9212

IMG_9214

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.

IMG_9215

IMG_9217
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.