Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Simple Token of Appreciation

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The Banana Muffin recipe from Cecily came at the right time as I was looking for something to bake for the security guards and office cleaners at our office building.

The muffins are made as my small and simple token of appreciation to them, and especially to Aunty Ah Yan who cleans our office, for helping us get rid of the never ending bags of rubbish to be disposed as a result of our impending office move on Friday. Mind you, the bags are real heavy as most of them are filled with old catalogs, reference materials and trade directories etc. As far as possible, we will try to fill the black garbage bags only half full so that it is easier for the cleaners, who are mostly in their 60's, to bring them down to the central disposal bin.

The muffins are nothing to shout about really but I hope through these morsels of sweet bites, I am able to show them that their help are deeply appreciated.

Banana Muffins with assorted toppings of sliced bananas, almond slivers, walnuts and chocochips.
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Handbag Cake for Sophia

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Sophia will be 10 tomorrow. I had promised my colleague that I will make her daughter a handbag cake for her birthday.

Since Sophia's fav color is blue, I decided on a blue bag.

I had wanted to incorporate her initials on the cake but in the end decided to make hanging gold charms instead. The letters 'S' and 'K' are made from gumpaste and then painted with edible gold luster dust.

Starting with two 8" vanilla sponge sandwiched with strawberry filling, I began to sculpt away. I did not have any particular design in mind and I just went with the flow as I covered the cake in blue MMF. As she is still a kid, I decided that the finished bag must not be too mature for her and so decided to use pink trimmings (due to lighting conditions, the pink turned out looking white in the pictures).
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My only concern now is that the cake would topple over during my drive to work tomorrow. I am crossing my fingers (and toes) that the cake will remain upright at the end of the journey.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

My First Cake Sale

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Since setting up this blog in July, I had received several enquiries if I sell my bakes. I would love to except that I am holding on to a fulltime job and I am really afraid to say yes lest I have to back out at the last minute due to work committment.

After posting the cake which I made for my grand-niece's full month, I received an enquiry to make a similar cake for a baby boy. I had initially said no. But after rechecking my schedule (I am in the midst of preparing the office move), I agreed, hence my first cake sale.

The weather these last couple of days are really not sugarpaste-friendly as the sugarpaste accents takes forever to dry. I was also worried that the sugarpaste accents may turn soft and gooey due to the increased moisture in the air. Luckily for me, except for a few buttons that turned wet, the rest were okay.

Here is the cake for Baby Naaman, a two-tier chocolate buttercake sandwiched with strawberry buttercream fillings. Cake is covered with Marshmallow Fondant (MMF). Buttons, booties and bears are sugarpaste. Bows, ribbons, baby clothings are all MMF. The nameplate is sugarpaste with the name Naaman written with edible food marker.
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Side view
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Back view
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All packed and ready for collection
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On Roller Coaster For Two Weeks

Phew! I finally made it through the last two weeks! Life had been realy hectic for me the last couple of weeks. I (we) are preparing for the big office move which will happen on 1 December. There is the packing of files, shredding of old documents, arrangements for communication lines to be relocated etc etc, I can go on and on. It is physically draining for my colleague and myself having to juggle between routine work and the packing part. We still have a little bit more to be packed before the move and I just cannot wait to get it over and done with, and for life to return to normalcy.

This is the reason why I did not update my blog as often as I would like to as I would reach home dead tired. I still managed to squeeze in a little baking here and there though and here are some of the stuffs:

Belgian Chocolate Cake, this is a premix which I bought from a bakery supply shop in JB. I had only to add eggs and butter to the mix. Very rich, dark and moist. Would have been perfect with a scoop of ice cream.
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Sugar Rolls ala Polar Cafe, fluffy sponge with a hint of vanilla.
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Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, my superquick dinner coming home famished from work one evening. I did not remove the stalk as I love the contrast of texture between the soft spongy cap and the slightly thick, chewy stalk. I topped the mushrooms with minced garlics, grated spicy gouda cheese, parmesan cheese, a shake of McCormicks Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning and then drizzle them with olive oil. MamaMia! Give me more!
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Finally, had to retry the Xiao Long Bao again after Mefee's unsuccessful attempt. I had the same problem as her when I first made them. This time around, I used 85gm of water for the skin and the dough was much easier to handle.
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I also made a small batch of cupcakes for my nieces. They were iced simply with chocolate fudge and topped with almond slivers and assorted sugar toppers. I had entirely forgotten to take photos of the cupcakes. A sign of dementia? Shucks!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Steamed Cheese Cupcake/Muffins

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Cupcakes? Muffins? Whatever! Mei was asking around for a Steamed Cheese Muffin recipe. I wasn't sure if this is quite what she wants!

I have had this recipe scribbled in my notebook for the longest time and I really cannot remember the source. I had to try it first before posting to ensure that it works. So last night I attempted it for the very first time.
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Steamed Cheese Cupcakes

4 slices cheddar cheese spread
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
35gm butter
180ml milk

Microwave or doubleboil the above ingredients till all the cheeses are melted and leave aside to cool.

200gm cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
75 - 80gm sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ovalette

1) Sift the baking powder with the cake flour.
2) Whisk the egg and ovalette slowly (to disperse the ovalette, otherwise you will have yellow specks in your cakes).
3) Add the sugar and whisk till frothy
4) Drizzle in the cooled creamed cheese mixture whisking all the while.
5) Fold in the flour.
6) Pour into cupcake/muffin cases and steam over high heat for approx 13 minutes.

The cupcakes are supposed to have a nice round dome and not split open like the traditional huat kueh

Monday, November 13, 2006

Xiao Long Bao

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This is specially for Lance, Sspaks, Anonymous1, Anonymous2. My apologies for taking so long to post this.

Xiao Long Bao (Soupy Dumplings)
Recipe reproduced with the kind permission of LeeLee.

Ingredients for the Fillings
250g minced pork
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chicken stock granules
1 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp potato starch
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp water
1/2 sugar

27gm gelatin powder
450gm water or chicken stock

1) Bloom gelatin in water/chicken stock. Heat gently till gelatin is dissolved.
2) Chill in fridge.
3) Dice set jelly into small cubes.
4) Mix minced meat with the seasoning ingredients.
5) Mix in the diced gelatin and leave filling ingredients in fridge for later use.

Ingredients for the Wrapper:

150gm plain flour
20gm potato starch
85-90gm water (original 115gm)
5gm shortening

1) Mix all ingredients till combined.
2) Leave aside to rest for 10-15minutes.
3) Pinch off small pieces of dough, flatten with rolling pin and wrapped with the fillings.
4) Place the wrapped dumplings on a small square of lightly oiled greaseproof paper. Alternatively, you can place the dumplings onto small cut-out rounds of iceberg lettuce.
5) Steam for about 5-6 minutes.

Wrapping the XLB

Mine are not the most beautiful of XLBs as I just gather up the dough and pleat them like a normal char siew bao. I have nontheless trawled the net for some illustrations and I found this XLB Tutorial.

This is the type of Potato Starch I used. It is commonly known as Windmill Flour here in Singapore and Hongkong.
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Hope this will give you a better idea. Enjoy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

If Dogs Have CPF

If Dogs have CPF* then my dear doggie, Rusti, would qualify to collect his provident fund savings today. You see, today is Rusti’s 8th birthday. In human terms, that makes him 56 years old.

For his birthday treat, I made some Doggie Honey Cookies for him. The cookies were very good, not too sweet and fragrant. I tasted them and why not? They were made with honey, wholemeal flour, eggs, soy oil, unsweetened soymilk and flavored with ground ginger and vanilla. Entirely wholesome ingredients that you and I will eat.

There is nothing doggie about the cookies. No Siree!
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Doggie Honey Cookies
1/4 cup soy bean oil or cornoil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 egg
2 tsp unsweetened soy bean milk or lactose-free milk
250gm wholemeal flour
50-75gm plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1) Preheat oven to 175 degree C.
2) Sift flour, baking powder and ground ginger together and add the wholemeal flour.
3) Mix oil, honey, vanilla, egg and milk together.
4) Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix into a dough.
5) Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1cm thick and cut into desired shapes.
6) Place on parchment paper (or greased cookie sheet) and bake for 20-25 minutes till dry.
7) Cool and store in an airtight container.
(Note: The original recipe sets the oven at 190 degree C which I find too hot as it burns the cookies before it can dry out.)

Here is Rusti chomping down his cookies. In the eight years, I have never managed to take a good picture of him due to the hyper nature of Jack Russell Terriers. Rusti will not pose for you.
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(*For the benefit of our overseas friends, CPF stands for Central Provident Fund, a welfare savings plan whereby the employer and employee will make an x% of contribution based on the monthly salary to the Fund on a monthly basis. This Fund can only be withdrawn when one reaches the age of 55.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Krisalyn's Full Month

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Grand Aunt Ginny! What a fine title for me! This is what I shall be known as to Krisalyn, but then it will be another 14-16 months before she learns how to address me by that grand old title.

Last Saturday, we celebrated her First Month. I decided to present her parents (my nephew) with a 1st Month Cake.

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This is the first time that I've attempted a 2-tier cake. The pineapple yoghurt buttercake was covered with a cheesecake flavored Marshmallow Fondant. The top tier is in pink and the bottom tier, a very light lavender.

The baby booties and other baby figurines are all made out of gumpaste. I had so much fun making the booties and shaping the buttons. It was a blast!.

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