A Dorayaki Afternoon

Faith and I share a love for all things red bean. If you are to ask her what bread she would like, she would answer, “Red bean bread.” Yup, we could have such a bread for days and won’t grow tired of it. Then I introduced Dorayaki to her and it was an instant hit with her. I can’t keep purchasing it because it’s a bit on the expensive side. The next best thing I could do is to make it ourselves.

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I have an ulterior motive too in making the dorayaki. I have recently bought a smaller-sized pan from GREENPAN so that I could teach Faith to cook eggs and pancakes with it. And I wanted Faith to make her own dorayaki. The batter is easy to make and you can make life easier for yourself if you use store-purchased red bean paste.

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This is the one I used and can be bought from Japanese supermarkets. I dug out a dorayaki recipe that I have posted in 2011 and adjusted based on it.

INGREDIENTS: For 6 pancakes (depending on the size you make)

Pancakes:
Eggs: 2
Sugar: 100 g
Honey: 1+1/2 tablespoons
Extra-virgin oil: 1 tablespoon
Mirin: 1 tablespoon
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda): 1/3 teaspoon
Flour: 150 g
Water: 40~60 ml

Extra-virgin oil for cooking
sweetened red bean

:: In a bowl, use a hand whisk and beat the eggs and add the sugar. Mix until the mixture whitens or turns pale yellow. Add the honey and mix until it is completely blended. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and mix. Add bicarbonate sodium and mix. Add mirin and mix. Sift in half of the flour and mix well. Sift and add the other half and mix well.

:: Add water and mix. The amount of water might vary with the kind of flour. I used all purpose flour in this case and used about 50ml of water.

:: Cover the bowl with clingflim and allow the batter to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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:: Heat a frypan over a medium fire first and then remove from fire. Lower the heat. Once the frypan has cooled down bring over to the heat again. Wipe it with a kitchen paper soaked with olive oil. Make sure you wipe of excess oil to ensure nice golden colour.

:: Pour pancake mixture into the pan. Bear in mind that the size of the panckes must be the same. The amount, whatever it is must be the same. Choose your ladle/spoon well beforehand!

:: When bubbles appear across the surface, turn the pancake over. The cooking time for the other side is shorter than the first side.

:: Transfer the pancake to a plate and cover it with a damp towel to prevent it from drying.

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:: Sandwich the sweetened red bean between two pancakes. Put more read bean paste in the middle. If you are not eating it straightaway, clingwrap it until ready to serve.

Some of the steps that the young one can help include cracking of the eggs, whisking of the mixture, pouring of ingredients into the bowl, etc. We can certainly talk about the use of the weighing scale and the different measurements needed in this case.

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I find this version of the pancake to be on the dense side. I would prefer it to be softer. Perhaps I would try a different type of flour the next time and see if it has any effect on the texture. But still, it’s yummy and the girl gave her thumbs up. Good snack to pack in the lunchbox (though I wouldn’t give it too often. Kekekek..).

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😉

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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.

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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.

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  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.

Foodie Friday | Teriyaki Chicken Don

I cook often and sometimes in a bid to get the meals out quickly, I stick to the ones that I often cook. It gets boring after a while and I think it’s time to inject some life into my cooking.

9789814398510Recently, I’m into Donburi, a rice meal topped with any ingredient. Still sounds dull right? Thankfully, I received some inspiration from a cooking book by Aki Watanabe called Donburi which includes a lot of delicious-looking rice meals waiting for me to try. I whipped up a few and love the end result so I thought I should share one of the recipes found in the book, a widely popular meal – Teriyaki Chicken Don. I’m sure many have tried cooking this but I absolutely adore the homemade teriyaki sauce listed in the book, so I thought I should share. I hope she doesn’t mind. This is an adapted version. I have omitted the salt and pepper since I am offering to the little one and soy sauce is tasteful enough for her!

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What you would need (yields 2): 
Boneless chicken leg 300g (I got mine from the market, deboned)
Canola oil for pan-frying
Steamed rice
Nori & wasabi sprouts for ganishing
Mixed chilli powder for seasoning

Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 40ml
Caster sugar 15g
Sake 10ml
Mirin 4 tbsp

1. Heat all ingredients for teriyaki sauce in a pan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Set aside.

2. Remove yellow fat from chicken meat.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Pan-fry chicken over medium heat until both sides have browned.

4. Cover with a lid and cook chicken over low heat. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

5. Clean the pan with kitchen towels and pour in teriyaki sauce. Place chicken in the sauce and heat until the meat is glazed and the sauce thickens.

6. Slice chicken into strips and place on rice. Pour the sauce over.

7. Garnish with wasabi sprouts and nori or toasted sesame seeds.

8. Serve with mixed chilli powder.

Using the recipes found in the book, I’ve also cooked the Tofu and Mushroom Don, adjusting the flavour of the seasoning to suit my daughter. And she loved it!

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This is another meal that is inspired by one of the recipes. Not a don but ramen.

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The book has inspired me to cook better rice meals. Perhaps you can take a look for yourself? 😉

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!