Monday, November 29, 2010

Dutch Apple Cake

Caught Rachel Allen on cable TV a couple of nights ago and she was teaching a bunch of students to bake this Dutch Apple Cake.

What attracted me was the way the butter and milk was incorporated into the eggs. The eggs and sugar was whisked to the usual figure of 8 stage and then the hot melted butter/milk misture was whisked in before the flour was folded in. Apple slices were then laid over the batter and sugar sprinkled over the top just before baking.

The only thing that 'went wrong' was that the apple slices did not sink to the bottom of the cake. Yes, it was supposed to sink into the batter and not sit prettily ontop of the baked cake. I do not know why? Perhaps my apple slices were too light or sliced apples were just contented to float happily on the spongy batter. Whatever the cause, the cake turned out very moist and buttery with a delicious hint of cinnamon.


Just for the fun of it. I packed some slices into these pretty Chinese Take Out boxes for the gang at the office.


A Baby Shower Cake

I have not decorated a fondant cake for ages. So when I received an invitation to a baby shower, I took the opportunity to make one. As I am no good in making fondant figurines. I dropped the idea of making fondant baby or cutesy teddies. The only thing that I am comfortable with in making is the baby bootees. I have made them several times and I was confident that although I have not made them for a long time, I would not have a problem doing so.

Here is my very simple Bootee Baby Shower Cake for Jing Ying, the adorable baby girl of my colleague.

The cake is a moist and fudgy chocolate cherry cake sandwiched with a cherry buttercream.



Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Caramelised Onion & Prosciutto Quiche

Is it an Onion Tart or is it an Onion Quiche. Anyway, it does not really matter so long as it tastes great.
Quiche; Onions; Eggs

These tartletts are really good. It is an explosion of flavors ~ sweet from the caramelised onion, tangy from the sour cream and salty bits from the prosciutto ham. As I was making alot of the mini tarts/quiche for a party, I took the lazy way out by using store bought frozen shortcrust pastry, which have been pre-rolled. I am glad I 'cheated' as the rolled pastry is a cinch to use! Just defrost it slightly, cut out the rounds with a pastry cutter and then line the disposable foil cups.

Making the fillings is a bit more time consuming though as the onions needed to be sliced ever so thinly. It does not help that I tripled the recipe and so you can imagine how much my eyes teared as I laboriously slice away. Cooking the onions needed a bit of tender loving care as you have to stir it every so often to prevent sticking and burning. In fact, I did burned my onions black! I was attending to something else and have happily forgotten about the onions. By the time I remembered, a layer of onions had turned black at the bottom. I had to empty the nice onions onto a plate and then spent the next 20 minutes scrapping and srubbing at the pan before resuming the cooking. However, once the onions are caramelised, the rest is easy peasy.

This was made the next day, finishing up the balance onion fillings. This is when I decided to add some mustard to the fillings and I think it greatly enhanced the flavor too.
Quiche; Onions; Eggs

This is for you Joanna.

Caramelised Onion & Prosciutto Quiche

Ingredients for the Pastry:
185g plain flour
125g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
1-2 tbsp icy cold water

1) Process flour and cold butter until crumby. Add the egg yolk and the cold water and process in short bursts until the mixture comes together.
2) Turn out onto tabletop and gather into a ball
3) Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes

Ingredients for the Fillings:
800g onions, thinly sliced
75g butter
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
185ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp dry Mustard powder (optional)
Pepper and sea salt to taste
50g Prosciutto, cut into strips
40g grated mature Cheddar cheese
2 tsp thyme leaves

1) Blanch the onions in boiling water for 2 mintues. Drain very well.
2) Melt butter in a pan and cook the onions over low heat for 25 minutes or until soft.
3) Add the brown sugar and cook for a further 15 miunutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Onions are ready when they are a light toffee color.
4) Preheat oven to 200 deg C and grease a 22.5cm loose-based quiche/flan pan.
5) Roll out the pastry to fit the tin and trim off the excess using a sharp knife.
6) Cover base with baking paper and weigh it down with some baking beads or dry beans.
7) Bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes, remove paper and continue baking for a furter 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
8) Lightly beat the sour cream and eggs together, add the prosciutto, cheese and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
9) Fill the pastry shell with the mixture and bake for 40 minutes or unti set. If the pastry overbrowns, cover with foil.

1) I made them into mini tarts and skipped the step of baking the tartletts shell blind.
2) I just filled the uncooked shells with the fillings and bake for 20 to 25 minutes till fillings is set.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kahlua Souffle

The first time I had a Souffle was during lunch with my boss at the Les Amis French restaurant. That was like ten years ago. After that first time, I had the opportunity to lunch there a couple more times and each time, I would ask for the same souffle that was served with a light vanilla sauce.

I have heard alot of 'horror' stories about how intimidaing it can be to make one, the main setback being the souffle doesn't rise or collapsing the moment it leaves the oven.

Yesterday, I had the chance to learn how to make this from Chef Daniel Tay, the owner of Bakerzin, a very popular patisserie here in Singapore. After seeing how easy it was to make one, I plucked up enough courage to do it myself today.

What a sophisticated dessert? All with just 1 egg, 1 tablespoon each of sugar and Kahlua and a perfectly straight sided cup. What could be simpler and easier?


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teochew Spiral Yam Mooncakes

I finally tried my hands at making this Teochew Spiral Yam (or Taro) Mooncakes.

I am pleased with the overall results and how the spirals turned out. The pastry is very crispy and slightly sweet. I do feel however, that it lacks a certain 'omph' in that it is very flat tasting possibily because it uses only shortening. It just lack the richness in taste from the store bought types. Perhaps a mixture of butter and shortening or pure lard would up the taste factor. Photobucket

The yam filling which is made from scratch is nice ~ not too sweet and a bit chunky as how I want it to be. The addition of shallot oil makes it very fragrant.

I made a total of 16 pieces.

These are two pieces failed me in terms of the spirals as the layers are too far apart.

I still have another 18 pieces of nicely rounded yam fillings waiting to be enrobed in pastry. I may just try another pastry recipe instead of using this same recipe.

Added on 19 Sept 2010 @ 4.30pm
I just made a second batch of the Spiral Mooncakes using a different recipe for the pastry. This pastry uses butter and has salt added. Texture while crispy, it is still 'short' and crumbly and has richness in taste I was looking for.

You can see that I am able to cut quite nicely through the pastry. I was not able to cut through Version 1 above as that pastry was too crispy. The moment I tried to press a knife through it, the whole pastry threatens to flatten and in the end, I tore it into halves with my fingers.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tea-Smoked Yellowtail Fish

Dinner tonight was Tea-Smoked Yellowtail Fish.

I was watching Food Trip with Todd English on the Asia Food Channel and Todd was preparing a meal of tea smoked fishes. It looked simple enough and without much fuss. I decided to try it for dinner and so popped over to the supermarket for the fishes. I chose two Yellowtail Fish, each about 22cm long and here is how it is made:

Tea-Smoked YellowTail Fish

2 yellowtail fish (each about 22cm long)
100gm Demerara sugar
100gm tealeaves
100gm rice grains (dry, unwashed)
Salt & black pepper
Olive oil
Aluminium foil

1) Pat dry the fish and season with salt and pepper both inside and outside. Set aside.
2) Prepare the smoking mix by combining the Demerara sugar, tea leaves and rice grain together.
3) Place a heavy pan over high heat and lay large piece of aluminium foil to cover the entire base of the pan all the way up to the sides.
4) Pour the smoking mix onto the foil and spread it out well.


5) Place another piece of foil over the smoking mix and drizzle with olive oil and place the fish ontop. Drizzle with more olive oil.

6) Cover pan tightly with the lid and smoke the fish over high heat for 15-17 minutes.

7) Test with a chopstick for doneness. Serve fish with a wedge of lemon and some sauteed or roasted vegetables.

Although the smoke has permeated into the flesh, the fish was still moist and flaky, almost like a steamed fish but with a hint of smokiness.

This is how the smoking mix looks like after the heat treatment. Do not attempt to do this fish without laying the pan with alumimium foil otherwise your pan will be ruined.

Madeline & Madeleines

If you have read my last post, you would have known by now that my daughter Sylvia got married in April. She moved into her new home in Holland Village in July bringing with her most, well actually really only some, of her belongings. I am still trying to declutter her old room that has been stashed with her collection of books, toys, clothings etc etc collected over the years. It is like a mini Salvation Army store with some pretty good stuff that she doesn't want anymore and I am setting them aside for the charity.

Found amongst her books is this stack of Madeline theme kiddy invitation cards, serviettes and paper plates. I remembered buying this for her when she was eight years old. It was actually a box set consisting of the party invitations and a CD game relating the the adventures of a little French girl by the name of Madeline. I remembered Sylvia would spent hours intrigued by Madeline and learning a few French words and phrases along the way! The CD and box has long gone but she could not bear to use Madeline paper plates and serviettes and has been keeping them since.


And this reminded me that I have a Madeleines tray somewhere. If my memory is correct, my brother bought me the tray some 4 years back but it has never been used. And so this was what prompted me to bake some Madeleines.

There are many versions of how this pretty scallop-shaped teacakes came about. I used a recipe from the The Australian Women's Weekly magazine and this is the brief one-para write-up on it:

"Legend has it that this recipe was developed by a peasant girl named Madeleine who lived outside the castle of Commercy, in a small village in Lorraine. The ruler at the time, Stanislaw Leszcyriski, was so taken by the cakes, he made them a part of the royal repertoire"
The Australian Women's Weekly, March 2010

Here are my baked Madeleines. What I like about this recipe is that it is not as sweet as the store bought ones as it has lemon juice added to it. It has a citrusy tang and fragrant with the addition lemon zests and also seeds from a whole vanilla bean.

Madeleines ~ What a perfect accompaniment to a nice cup of espresso!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Wedding Cupcakes

Time flies! It has been almost two months since my daughter got married and I have been too busy with work to blog about this happy event of mine.


Sylvia and Andrew were married at the Church of St Mary of the Angels on the 24th of April 2010 and the wedding banquet was held the next evening in the Grand Ballroom of The Regent Hotel.

Hubby walking Sylvia down the aisle.

Friends asked if I will be making the Wedding Cake. I would really really loved to except I know I will not have the time to do so due to work commitments and the wedding preparations running up to the day itself. However, I could not let the wedding pass without giving it my personal touch could I? And so I made cupcakes for the buffet after the Church wedding ceremony. I know that if I do not ‘deliver’ the cupcakes all would still be well. I shiver to think what would happen if I could not ‘deliver’ the Wedding Cake that is to be cut in front of all the guests at the Banquet!! Brrrrrr……


The 200 cupcakes were made to the theme of butterflies and lavender hues as that was what my daughter wanted. For three weeks prior to the wedding, I would come home from work and start making the butterflies and roses at night. The weather was horrid. There was so much rain especially during the week immediately before the wedding. My roses did not dry well and I had to resort to buying the readymade ones. Luckily though, the butterflies dried well as they are much thinner. Although many did break at the wings, I just used royal icing to mend them.

Wedding; Cupcakes;

I was actually quite nervous about making these cupcakes as I have never made them covered in fondant. My previous cupcakes were just simply frosted with swirls and topped with sugar ascents. I had no idea how it would turned out but when they were all completed, I was beaming like the moon. The oohs and ahs from the guests were rewarding enough to tell me that I had done a pretty good job.

Wedding; Cupcakes;

I was also glad that I had made a wise choice of choosing a buttermilk lemon cupcakes instead of plain butter cupcakes. Buttermilk cakes are very moist and soft. Though I made them two days ahead, they remained exquisitely moist and soft. The citrusy lemony flavor also paired well with and cut down the sweetness of the marshmallow fondant.

Wedding; Cupcakes;

I also had some pretty cupcake wrappers custom made with the bridal couple’s initials of “A & S” and theses were couriered to me from the United States . They cost me a bomb but it was worth every dollar as they are so beautiful.
I was too busy to take any photos of the cuppies myself as I was too busy entertaining the guests. Fortunately for me, the photographer did and he did a beautiful job of it too!

Wedding; Cupcakes;

Getting ready for their Grand Entrance into the ballroom with the six Guard of Honor.

The couple making their first entry into the ballroom.

Riding a Harley Davidson into ballroom for their second entry.

Cake Cutting

Hubby and I dancing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Thank You For Your Guidance"

That was the subject heading of an email I received recently.

It was a mail from Joyee, a visitor to my blog. She had written to me previously to asked for tips on decorating a cake with sugarpaste as she wanted to make one for her son's year old birthday.

All I did was to share some of my past experience on how to give sugarpaste the ''tender loving care'' needed to give the cake a smooth finish.

She wrote to thank me for the tips and attached some photos of the beautiful cake she made. Joyee did a wonderful job of decorating a two tier cake with Anpanman figurines, insects and fencings. I tell you, for a first timer, she blew me away.

So appreciative is she that she had to send me 'Thank You' pressie. It was a pack of Basler Lackerli cookies which she had asked her husband to bring back for me from Switzerland. She had read from one of my earlier posting

that I have not tasted the real cookie before and to quote from what she wrote on the gift card: "Here's a treat for you to show my appreciation". Wow! It is really a great treat. The cookie is really good. It is sweet, but not cloying sweet and it has the nicest citrusy flavor from the dried citron.

I just want to say to Joyee again, you are the one that made it happen, not me. You have a hidden talent which you are just discovering.

Okay now to the cookies. Hmmm...comparing what I have made to this, I would say I am pretty close to it in taste except mine was sweeter from the too thick sugar glazing ontop (a comment that was also given by my niece). It is addictive! For me, the chewiness just makes me want to eat one, two and then three cookie. Thank you Joyee.

Here is the Real McCoy

The cookie. You can see that the sugar glazing is much thinner than mine.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cashew Chicken Cheesecake

What a whole lot of Cs?
Chicken; Cheese; Nuts; Cakes;
A Cashew Chicken Chessecake that has even more Cs:~ Cream Cheese, Cheddar Cheese and Parmesan Cheese. Yup there are three kinds of cheese in this very unique cheesecake.

And there three layers to the cake too!
Chicken; Cheese; Nuts; Cakes;
Layer one at the bottom has chopped roasted cashews in the cheesecake batter.

Layer two is a filling of minced chicken, mixed vegetables, button mushrooms, onions and parmesan cheese.

Layer three is cheesecake topped with grated cheddar cheese.

What an explosion of taste! It is savoury, sweet, cheesy and nutty all at the same time.

Japanese Style Belly Pork

A couple of Sundays ago, Tan Hsueh Yun in her weekly food column Hunger Management (The Sunday Times, March 7, 2010), wrote about this belly pork from Japanese cook, Yoko Arimoto. Unlike the usual Hokkien Kong Bak which is braised in dark soya sauce with aromatic cinnamon bark, anise seed and cloves, this version is cooked with Japanese sake and whole garlics till meltingly tender.

I am not a lover of belly pork but what made me try this dish is the fact that it was cooked over two days. Day 1 is simply braising the parboiled sliced pork in cooking sake and water with a whole head of garlic for two hours. It is then left to cool and refrigerated overnight. On Day 2, Japanese shoyu and sugar is added to the pork and braised for a further 45 minutes.

The result? A very tender pork that is garlicky and 'sweet'. Not sweet sweet from the sugar but sweet from the condensed sake and the garlics. If you do not care for the taste of cinnamon etc from the Hokkien kong bak, then this Jap Style Belly Pork is for you.

Pork; Meat;

Served with steam Leaf Buns
Pork; Meat;

Monday, February 08, 2010

Year of the Tiger Chinese New Year Bakes

These are my first bakes for the Chinese New Year. Blossom Pineapple Tarts.
I made these again for CNY this year as it is such a breeze to make. Unlike the traditional open face tarts that you either need to crimp the tart pastries or slowly mould the pineapple to fit the hollow of the tarts, these Blossom Pineaapple Tarts are really quick to make.
Since last year, I have been receiving emails on and off from visitors to my blog asking if I needed a special mould to make them. Nope! I don't! I just cut the pastries with a petal cutter (I use the rose cutter from the Wilton sugarpaste cutter set) and then put a ball of pineapple jam onto the centre of the pastry and place it into the paper cases for baking. It couldn't be easier. Aren't they pretty. I have made a short video to show how easy it is to shape the tarts. Here is is:

Told you it was simple right?

The second cookie I made was a Cheesy Bak Kwa Buttons. Using the same shortcrust pastry recipe from the pineapple tarts, I added grated cheddar cheese, chopped bak kwa (barbequed meat) and some black and white pepper to the dough. These were shaped into tiny marble-sized balls and then flatten with the prongs of fork before baking.
What can I say? Ummmh...yummy yummy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bamboo Charcoal Challah Bread

Made a Challah Bread with Bamboo Charcoal powder on Saturday. The recipe is from Alejandra Ramos , a blogger from New York. She was using bamboo charcoal powder which she had crushed with a mortar and pestle at home. I communicated with her and offered to send her some Bamboo Charcoal powder as this was not readily available in the US. I am now waiting to see her beautiful Challah.

The six-braid Challah, when nicely braided is really stunning. However, my braiding skills are zilch and I really had a difficult time trying to braid the six rolls of dough together. If you look at the top left of the loaf, you would be able to see where I have wrongly overlap the dough instead of going underneath it.


Next to Alejandra's beautifully braided Challah, mine looked so deformed. However, do not be misled by looks alone as underneath that awful and digusting looking braided lump of a bread is a very tender loaf which is rich with the flavor of olive oil and slight hint of sweetness. The sesame on the crust gave it a nice nutty fragrance and crunch too.

The star ingredient, the Bamboo Charcoal Powder, only gave it the rich black on the crust and a purplish-grey on the insides. I had used only 2 teaspoons of the charcoal powder and you can see how black the crust is. You don't taste the Bamboo Charcoal at all but you know it is working its miracle as a detoxifying agent as that is what it is good for.

Basler Lackerli

My niece was once given a pack of cookies by a visiting business associate from Switzerland. She was relating to me how delicious these cookies were. The cookies are sugar glazed on top and they were dense, nutty, chewy with candied fruits, spicy and tasted gingerbread like. Oh yes, they are quite sweet in a nice way. It was a good thing that she had snapped a picture of the package on her camera phone. Though the picture was not very sharp, I could make out the words on the package to be Basler Lackerli. And so I started to Google for the recipe.

As usual, googling turned up tonnes of Basler Lackerli recipes. The common ingredients are almonds, chopped candied citrus peels, honey and an assortment of ground spices ~ cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, mixed spice. I chose a recipe from Pierre Herme that had white pepper and black pepper in it as I was intrigued as to how these two peppers will taste in a cookie.

The baked cookies were really good. The finely chopped candied peels and lemon zest gave it a citrusy fragrance which combined well with the spices. The peppers gave them just a slight warmth in the mouth. I added kirsh and lemon juice to the sugar glaze to give the cookie more tang and to cut down the sweetness.

The two cookie bags you see in the background are for my niece as only she could tell me if my cookie tastes like a Basler Lackerli.
Her comments: "Hmmm yum yum. It tastes the same but not the same if you know what I mean." Well what she meant was like Chicken Rice. Although each stall is selling the same chicken rice, the taste of the chicken rice will differ from stall to stall, though the 'main' taste of the dish will not be far from each other.

Oh well okay. I am still very please to be able to replicate the closeness although I have never tasted the original Basler Lackerli myself.