Friday, November 7, 2014

Crunchy Almond Cookies


I love crunchy cookies. These almond cookies were baked using Nasi Lemak Lover's recipe. A big thank you to her for sharing this easy-to-follow recipe. I ran out of corn flour during baking (only 128g left), so I substituted the rest with yellow cornmeal flour, which I purchased a few months ago to bake Kenny Roger's Corn Muffins :D 

There aren't many recipes that used yellow cornmeal, except corn bread or muffins, so I had no idea what to do with the balance. There were some cookies recipes using yellow cornmeal, so it was an impromptu decision to substitute with it when I was in the midst of preparing the recipe.

These cookies are crunchy on the outside, not sure how to describe the inside of the cookies. But the salty aftertaste gave them a 古早味 feeling, like cookies I had eaten during childhood. I used 1/2tsp of salt and felt that was sufficient.

Here's the list of ingredients I used based on what I had on hand. Please visit Nasi Lemak Lover's blog for the original recipe and method.

Ingredients

- 160g unsalted butter, soften
- 100g golden granulated sugar
- 120g ground almond (bought from Phoon Huat)
- 128g corn flour + 42g yellow cornmeal (bought from Phoon Huat)
- 1/2tsp salt
- 2/3 tsp double-acting baking powder

Method

1. Mix butter, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl with a wire whisk until batter is white and fluffy.
2. Add ground almond to batter and mix with a spatula.
3. Add corn flour, cornmeal and baking powder and mix with a spatula. Batter will come together to form a dough.
4. Roll dough with a rolling pin (sandwich dough between 2 pieces of cling wrap for easy handling). Cut with a cookie dough. Transfer to baking pan lined with baking sheet.
5. Bake in 170 degC preheated oven for 20 mins or until golden brown.

Baking almond cookies reminds me of my ex-colleague/friend, as she love almond cookies and I have not had the chance to bake for her before. Now that she is back in Singapore, hopefully one day I can bake these for her.

The ugly cookies at the back were rolled and flatten by hand. The pretty ones in front were rolled with a rolling pin, and cut using a cookie cutter. See the difference?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Birthday Cupcakes


Last week was my kid's birthday. I baked a total of 50 cupcakes (40 classmates + 3 teachers + extra) for her to bring to school. I baked a mix of Very Chocolatey Cupcakes and Hummingbird Vanilla Cupcakes. It was indeed very tiring after baking and wrapping up the cupcakes. But the thought of 43 smiling faces is worth it all :)



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Soft & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes


I think my search for the ultimate chocolate cupcake to bake for my kid's classmates on her birthday has ended. Many thanks to unpastiche for sharing this Very Chocolatey Cupcakes. Previously I have tried another of her recipes, which yields very delicious chocolate cupcakes as well. This recipe yields a soft and fluffy chocolate cupcake, while the One-bowl Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes yields an intense chocolatey flavor and denser (compared to this recipe) cupcake. I absolutely love that recipe, but I may opt for this recipe - actually, I can't decide :D

Been pondering on what exactly contributes to a soft and fluffy cupcake - buttermilk? creaming method? oven temperature?

Here's the list of ingredients from unpastiche. Please refer to her blog for the recipe and method.

Ingredients
Makes 12 cupcakes (Makes 11 for me, size 50x39mm)

60g butter
120g white sugar (I used 100g golden granulated sugar)*
1 egg
125g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4tsp baking powder (I used 1/2tsp double-acting baking powder)
120g milk
1 drop of vanilla paste
35g unsweetened cocoa powder
100g hot water + 1/2tsp instant coffee granules

*Updated on 7 Nov 2014: not sweet enough with 100g sugar, according to my taste bud :p 120g is just nice :)


my notes:
  • I preheated my oven to 190 degC, then reduced to 175 degC once I put the cupcakes into the oven. Because of that, I removed the cupcakes from the oven after 18 mins as the toothpick inserted came out with only a few crumbs.
  • Cups were filled between 1/2 to 2/3 full.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes


I was searching for an easy recipe to bake for 40 kids for my daughter's birthday. It has to be yummy and pretty too, since they are for kids and kids love pretty things, don't they?

Found this Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes recipe online. Actually, this recipe can be found on many sites. The variation is the Chocolate flavor, which you can replace 20g of flour with cocoa powder. The steps seem easy to follow, and they look very pretty with a slight domed top. I tried the chocolate version first. The recipe says it will make 12 cupcakes, but perhaps it is referring to smaller cups? I only managed to fill 6 cups, and I filled them up too full - about 3/4. The result is cracked tops and one of the cupcakes overflew. They are quite ugly :p After analyzing the issue, I baked a second batch, and this time, I filled up 8 cups, and each cup 2/3 full. The cupcakes rose beautifully in the first 10-15 mins, then strangely they collapsed slightly on the sides, so only the middle part of each cupcake was risen slight. It's somewhat funny looking, but not too obvious. I have been thinking about how to achieve a smooth, slightly domed-top cupcake since :p But I guess the result was still encouraging.

I did not frost the cupcakes as I always thought they are sweet enough, frosting is pretty but I'd like to reserve for very special occasions. I brought these cupcakes for my Korean class teacher and classmates yesterday. I know kids love the sight of cupcakes, but adults? The answer is, adults love seeing cupcakes too! :D Love seeing happy faces :)

As I finally tried one this morning (somehow I forgot to put this one into my bag yesterday), I was surprised to find that the cupcake was very soft! I wonder if it has got to do with the evaporated milk I swopped in place of regular milk. I have tried baking muffins with evaporated milk before and they turned out soft each time. Perhaps that is the reason?

Here's the recipe I used. Please refer to goodtoknow for the original recipe and method. The recipe is from a famous bakery called The Hummingbird Bakery.

Ingredients
Makes 8, 50x39mm cupcakes

120g plain flour
1tsp double-acting baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g castor sugar (original recipe uses 140g)
40g unsalted butter, soften
120g evaporated milk (original recipe uses whole milk)
1 egg
1 drop of vanilla paste (original recipe uses 1/4tsp vanilla extract)

Method
  1. Preheat oven at 170 degC.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add salt, sugar, and butter. Mix with a whisk (original recipe uses an electric mixer) until a sandy consistency.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and milk well. Add half of the mixture into the flour mixture and mix. Add rest of milk mixture and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be smooth.
  5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 mins.


It was a sunny, hot and humid afternoon in Singapore (as usual? :D). The color of the cupcakes look washed-out (taken with my humble iphone 5S camera).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chocolate Muffin


I was craving for a high domed muffin, you know, like those from Chocolate 'N Spice. I googled and found some bloggers tried to recreate the high domed and cake-like muffin. Then, I saw the photo of a somewhat familiar looking muffin on Joy of Baking and decided to use her recipe.

Some baking experts said that the temperature of the oven is the key to a high domed muffin. Setting the oven temperature at 200 degC seems to be the trick. Joy of Baking uses 190 degC, which is pretty close to 200 degC. Of course if the muffins are baked at 200 degC, they will be overbaked/burnt if you bake them for the same period of time. That requires some adjustments based on your oven at home. I didn't want to take the risk of a burnt muffin, so I preheat the oven at 200 degC, then lowered it to 190 degC at the start of the baking. I lowered it further to 180 degC after 10 mins, but had to bake it 10-15 mins longer than the 20 mins per the original recipe. More experiments will be required before I can figured out what is the secret formula for my oven :p The muffin is done once an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean (a few crumbs is ok).

Here's the recipe I used, please refer to Joy of Baking for the original recipe and method/video.

Ingredients
Makes 12 5cm-diameter paper muffin cups

113g unsalted butter, melted
130g top flour
100g organic wholemeal flour (I ran out of plain flour :p)
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
110g dark brown sugar + dry demerara sugar (original recipe uses 265g light brown sugar)
3 medium eggs (original recipe uses 2 large eggs)
240g low-fat milk including 1 tbsp vinegar (original recipe uses buttermilk)
few drops of vanilla paste (original recipe uses 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
100g chocolate chips (original recipe uses 170g)

This recipe produces a soft, cake-like muffin although it uses the dry- and wet-ingredients method.

my notes:
- butter can be melted using bain marie
- to substitute for buttermilk, pour 1 tbsp of vinegar in a cup, add milk to 240g
- batter is thick
- stop folding once no trace of dry ingredients is seen
- drastic reduction in sugar results in a muffin that is not very sweet, but just nice for my palate
- chocolate muffins/cakes usually taste more flavorful the next day

Simple recipe, simple pleasure in life :)

I'm not able to take a good photo of the muffin as the color is very dark :D

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Matcha Chiffon Cake II



After my last "slanted" matcha chiffon cake, I had been thinking of attempting it again. As Chinese saying goes, 哪里跌倒,哪里爬起来 - literally translates to "get up from the same place you fell". Doing that should help me rebuild my confidence in chiffon cake baking :p

This time, I attempted HHB's Matcha Chiffon Cake recipe. This recipe is similar to Nami's recipe. Actually, I guess most chiffon cakes recipes are very similar. Thanks to HHB for sharing this recipe. I realized the tube pan I have is actually 16cm. Sotong me measured the bottom of the pan, which is 12.5cm. My sis bought the same pan from Phoon Huat and told me that it is a 16cm. That was how I realized :D It is difficult to find a recipe for this small pan size. For this recipe, which is for 17cm tube pan, I filled up my 16cm pan plus 2 5cm-diameter muffin cups.

The eggs I bought appeared to be smaller than usual (Seng Choon 1st Born Eggs), so I "boldly" reduced the oil to 35g :p Sticking to a chiffon cake recipe is the key to its success, that's why I said "boldly" :p Interestingly, I saw another matcha chiffon cake recipe on cookpad, which uses no oil! But I was not brave enough to try that recipe. Maybe next time. I also replaced some flour with rice flour, and the cake turned out soft :D

Please refer to HHB's blog for the original recipe.

Ingredients
- 80g castor sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 3 egg yolks
- 30g rice flour
- 50g top flour
- 10g matcha powder
- 35g canola oil
- 60g water



  1. Set oven to 180 degC. Using a handheld mixer, beat egg whites until white and foamy. Add about 2/3 of the sugar into the whites and continue beating until almost stiff peak.
  2. Beat egg yolk and remaining sugar until batter is pale. Add oil gradually at the same time continue beating. Add water and mix well. Sift flour and matcha into the mixture. Fold with a whisk (I find it easier to fold with a whisk) until batter appears smooth.
  3. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk batter. Fold with a spatula, from bottom up.
  4. Add rest of egg whites in 2 batches. Fold until batter is well mixed and smooth. Bang the mixing bowl onto the table top several times to release air trapped inside batter. Pour batter into tube pan.
  5. Bake for 30mins in preheated oven.
  6. Once baking is done, remove from oven and invert cake on an inverted mug. Leave it to cool completely before unmoulding.
my notes: 
- Oven temperature is very important in chiffon cake baking. Always preheat the oven before starting work. Use an oven thermometer.
- Always add oil and water to egg yolk + sugar mixture, before adding flour.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Simple Birthday Cake


I baked a simple birthday cake for my sister last week. The first birthday cake I baked was for my eldest sister too, and it was my first attempt at Strawberry Shortcake. That was 2 years ago and it looks like my frosting skill has not improved at all. The lack of practice in frosting is the main reason.

There was no strawberries nor was there any Rocher at home, but fortunately there was a packet of Kong Guan "gem" biscuits at home and they came in handy for the cake decoration. For Singaporeans who are around my age, this gem biscuit brings back some fond childhood memories. This biscuit was a favorite snack when I was a child. The cake looks kind of funny but colorful :D My sisters and nieces all had a smile when they saw this cake.

As always, sponge cake and chiffon cake are my greatest challenge - I am never confident until the cake is done baking and cooling. I had wanted to follow the recipe from Cook.Bake.Love because the name of the recipe "[Easy to Succeed] Basic Sponge Cake" boosted my confidence :) But Murphy's law was at play again - I broke the second egg yolk and some yolk went into the mixing bowl with egg whites. The recipe was supposed to be a chiffon cake method. Since I didn't want to waste the eggs, I immediately transformed it to a whole-egg sponge cake recipe :p Fortunately, the cake turns out fine, although I did wonder if it was supposed to be taller than what it was.

Here's the recipe I used. Please refer to Cook.Bake.Love for the original recipe and method.

Ingredients
Makes one 8-inch round cake

- 4 medium eggs
- 90g castor sugar
- 40g melted butter
- 106g top flour
- 1 drop vanilla paste



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Matcha Chiffon Cake


This morning I baked a Matcha Chiffon Cake using Nami's recipe. Many thanks to Nami for sharing the recipe :)

My cake slid off the tube pan when I inverted it, thus you can see that the cake is a bit slanted :D I read from All That Matters that it could be due to several reasons. As I looked back to the process, I suddenly recalled that there was a major hiccup during the process: I should have added in oil and water before adding flour + baking powder + matcha. Instead, I got the order wrong and did the reverse! That could be the reason why the cake slid off the pan :p Nevertheless, the cake is moist and tasty.

Here's the list of ingredients I used based on what I had. Please refer to Nami's blog for the original recipe.

Ingredients
For one 12.5cm diameter tube pan (Updated: bottom of pan measured 12.5cm; top of pan is 16cm)

- 3 eggs, separate (the egg I used is between 40g and 50g)
- 75g top flour
- 3tbsp canola oil
- 4tbsp water
- 10g matcha powder
- 85g dry demerara sugar
- 2/3tsp double-acting baking powder

Please go to Nami's blog for the detailed method and video :)



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kabocha Squash Chiffon Cake (Rice Flour)


When it comes to baking, I can't procrastinate for too long, because I may never do it. Maybe it's the same when I faced other issues in life :D Been wanting to challenge chiffon cake or sponge cake again, but never gathered enough courage. Every chiffon cake baking is stressful for me - check the oven temperature, make sure all ingredients are measured correctly before I start work, separate the eggs carefully and ensure all bowls are clean and dry, etc etc. There are a lot of planning and preparations to be done. Unlike baking muffins, where little preparation is required.

I googled around for new recipes to try. Noticed that some recipes do not use milk, not sure why? In the end, I went back to the previous recipe I used, which is from Happy Flour. I replaced the thick coconut milk with low-fat fresh milk. This recipe is meant for a 20cm tube pan, but I only own a 12.5cm tube pan :p So I poured 2/3 of batter into this, and grabbed the nearest pan I could reached, which resulted in a funny looking cake, see photo at the end of this post for a laugh :D

And guess what? I used up the plain flour yesterday, which is an opportunity for me to try baking with rice flour :) Ever since I saw teacher Carol's gluten-free chiffon cupcake, I have been wanting to try it. So this cake is gluten-free, I guess? :)

Oh no, the cake did not shrink - I poured the leftover batter into my paper chiffon cake mould which was too big!

The look of this cake tickles me, it is so funny looking :D But surprisingly this tastes soft and spongy too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wholemeal Strawberries Almond Muffins



My fruits baking frenzy continues... This time I tried the Strawberries Almond Muffins recipe from Table for 2..... or more. The only change I made was replacing the plain flour with some wholemeal and corn flour. I don't fancy heavy and dense cakes either, so this recipe really attracts my attention.

Here are the ingredients I used based on what I had, please refer to Table for 2..... or more for the original recipe and method.

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:
- 100g organic wholemeal flour*
- 80g plain flour (which was all I had left)*
- 20g corn flour*
- 120g unrefined dry demerara sugar
- 2/3 tsp double-acting baking powder
- 1/3 tsp baking soda

* original recipe uses 200g plain flour

Wet ingredients:
- 60g butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp of vanilla paste
- 140g buttermilk substitute: place 1 tbsp vinegar in a glass and fill fresh milk up to 140g

The strawberries seem to be a bit sour as I bite into the muffins. Perhaps a little more sugar will be better. Next time, I will probably put the crumble toppings on these muffins too, as the kids love the toppings on the blueberries muffins.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blueberries Wholemeal Oats Crumble Muffins





As I was searching for healthier recipes to bake for my family, I started to read up on food and nutrition again. There are so many conflicting reports about what is good or bad for our bodies. This article gives a brief but good info on more healthful baking with white flour alternatives. Inspired by that, I decided to try baking with 50/50 wholemeal (or whole wheat) flour and plain flour.

Found this recipe, thanks to Felicia for sharing this healthful muffin recipe :) The original recipe she adapted was a blueberries muffin recipe, and since blueberries is in season now, I baked with blueberries and the result was very satisfactory :)

The crumble toppings recipe is from Happy Home Baking. Thanks to HHB for sharing this recipe. I was reading the two recipes concurrently, and finally decided to combine the two :)

Here's the list of ingredients I used, based on what I had.

Ingredients
Makes 9, 5cm diameter muffin cups
Updated on 22 Sept 14: tested successfully with the modified measurement in pink.

For the muffin (adapted from here):
90g plain flour
90g Origins organic wholemeal flour (130g wholemeal & 50g plain flour)
28g rolled oats
113g dry demerara sugar (100g)
1/2tsp salt
1-1/3tsp double-acting baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil (50g)
1/2 cup low-fat fresh milk (110g)
1 medium egg (about 50g without shell)
About 100g fresh blueberries

Please refer to method here. It is basically whisking the dry ingredients in one mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients in another mixing bowl, then pour the wet into the dry and fold with a spatula. Add the blueberries last. The batter should look lumpy and gooey.

I had been using a digital scale and got a bit lost using the cup to measure the ingredients. Therefore, the metric measurements you see here may not match Felicia's recipe. I only have one measuring cup, so I tried to memorize the metric measurements as I measure each ingredient with my cup :p 

For the crumble toppings (adapted from HHB's recipe):
20g plain flour
20g Origins organic wholemeal flour
25g dry demerara sugar
25g cold unsalted butter

Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl (butter last), and use your finger tips or a fork to rub-in the butter into the flour and sugar.

For the crumble toppings measurements, there was some hiccups too, as I thought I had a packet of grounded almond at home but I just couldn't find it! So, I had to use my impromptu judgment (better description is 手忙脚乱加误打误撞). Fortunately, the muffins turned up just the way I had imagined - crunchy on the outside and soft inside. I wouldn't be able to tell that wholemeal flour was used in this if I wasn't the one who baked it :D I think the addition of almond will give an even nicer crunch.

To assemble, fill the batter up to 2/3 full and sprinkle the crumble toppings on top.

Bake at 200 degC for 20 mins, it is done when a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

My kid does not like blueberries and even requested me to remove them. But I managed to convince her to try, which she did. I really hope that she will eat more fruits :p

My search for wholemeal flour recipes continues, as I have a whole 1kg packet to finish up :p

But certainly glad that at least I manage to introduce whole grains into our diets :)

Happy healthful baking!

* Word of caution: increase your intake of high-fiber food (like whole grains) gradually, as a sudden increase may cause bloating. Source: Webmd.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dim Sum Style




These egg tarts are really yummy. They are so good that I had to bake them two days in a row. Yesterday, I ate one and gave the rest to my mom and sis. But I can't stop thinking about how flaky the tart shell was, and how smooth the egg custard was, so I baked them again today. I devoured two egg tarts while they are still warm. These are the legendary Heimama Egg Tarts 黑妈妈祖传蛋挞. I am not sure why is it called Heimama, but I have seen this on many blogs. I first saw it on Happy Home Baking. A big thank you to the bloggers who share this recipe, as well as the original "creator" of this recipe.

You know those egg tarts commonly found at Cantonese Dim Sum restaurants? These egg tarts are pretty close to those. The crust is flaky and fragile, so handle with care when you flip them over while un-moulding them.

When I first saw this recipe on HHB, I really didn't pay attention to it. In my head I was thinking, it must be very tough to make these. I was reminded of the process of making fruit tart and I thought this would be as troublesome as that. Then, as I read through HHB's post some weeks/months later, I was inspired to bake these. And it was simpler than I had thought, and the results are surprisingly good. The toughest part for me was probably pressing the dough into the cups. I definitely don't have HHB's 巧手, so it is 好吃就好 :D I did not grease the tart moulds as advised, and I used my knuckles to knock the back of the mould to release the tart. On the other hand, those baked with the silicone cups came off very easily.


Here's the list of ingredients I used, for your easy reference. Please go to HHB's blog for the original recipe and detailed steps. As usual, her detailed steps make it very easy for me to follow :) Thanks HHB! :)

Ingredients
For some reason, I only managed to make 9 tarts :D

For the crust
- 150g plain flour
- 1 tbsp skimmed milk powder (available in Phoon Huat)
- 1 tbsp corn flour (original recipe uses custard powder, please read up on HHB's blog)
- 100g cold butter
- 1/2 tbsp dry demerara sugar
- 25 to 30g beaten egg
- few drops of vanilla paste

For the egg custard
- 140g water
- 55g dry demerara sugar
- 90 to 100g beaten egg
- 40g low-fat evaporated milk
- few drops of vanilla paste



I noticed the colour of the custard darkens the longer the tart is out of the oven. I am not sure why.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chocolate Snowskin Mooncake 2014


It is important to write down steps on how a dish is prepared, so that you can refer to it the next time you make the same dish. Now, repeat that 100 times (talking to myself). I do not have the habit of writing down the steps I took to prepare a dish successfully. I blame it on my laziness but my friend told me she wrote down because she is lazy (?) - different definition of laziness? :D

Too much time and food wasted if recipes and methods are not recorded down properly. In fact, part of the reason I started my own blog is to force myself to write down the recipes and steps, so that I may refer to them when I want to make them again. However, I also respect all the original bloggers who selflessly share their recipes online, and do not think I should copy their recipes and methods and paste on my blog, although I always make sure to make reference back to them. But, there's nothing like your own notes right? What you did correctly, or what you did wrong that you would want to remind yourself the next time.

I almost forgot why I brought this up :D As I began making mooncakes few weeks ago, I referred to my previous post on Chocolate Snowskin Mooncake. Sure, the ingredients were listed there, but I did not write down the method. Being myself (impulsive, impatient), I dashed straight into the kitchen and started making. It was a failure! Why? I have made it successfully last year. Well sorry, I forgot the crucial step of mixing the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients quickly, and in one direction. The result was a lumpy mess. So I went back to read up online to refresh my memory on how to make snowskin mooncakes especially when I am using oil and not shortening.

Lesson learned. So here is the recipe :p

Chocolate Snowskin Mooncakes
Makes 4, 50g mould mooncakes

Ingredients:

- 38g kou fen (available in Phoon Huat)
- 40g icing sugar
- 4g canola oil
- 60g drinking water
- 25g Cadbury Gold 70% Cocoa Chocolate Bar, melted

- store-bought lotus seeds paste
- some semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl, mix kou fen and icing sugar together with a spatula or whisk.
2. Mix melted chocolate, oil and water together in a cup/bowl.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients. Stir and mix the ingredients together in one direction, do this quickly to ensure a uniform and smooth skin.
4. Once the mixture comes together to form a dough, knead with your hand until dough becomes smooth and does not stick to the mixing bowl.
5. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Make them into a ball. It is best to put on a pair of disposable, clean, food-grade gloves, or you can use a clean, food-grade plastic bag. Else, the dough will stick onto your hand.
6. Make the lotus seeds paste into 35g ball each, roll some chocolate chips over each ball.
7. Flatten the dough using your palm, put the lotus seeds paste ball in the center and wrap it up. Close all ends. Roll into a ball.
8. Roll the ball on some kou fen, dust the mooncake plunger mould with some kou fen too. Make sure that the mould is dry. Shake excess kou fen off. Put the ball into the plunger mould and press it out. Keep in the fridge until ready to consume.

Strongly encourage you to refer to Siu Kitchen's video to learn how to wrap mooncake, as well as how to use the plunger. The video is very useful.

The photo below is my attempt to make Earl Grey Tea Snowskin Mooncake. But the flavour of the Earl Grey Tea is extremely mild. I used the same recipe as the snowskin mooncake made last year, just replaced the water with Earl Grey Tea. I tried 60g Twinnings Earl Grey Tea but there was no hint of it :p


Happy mooncake making! :)

A Cookie With No Name :p



As I ponder over what to call these guys, I wrestle between calling them Tau Sar Piah / 绿豆饼, or Mung Bean Mooncake - but they are neither! :p It may even be insulting (to tau sar piah and mooncake) to call them either, as they do not have the crispy skin of tau sar piah, and they certainly do not look like mooncakes. This is a tough one, I have made something I do not know what to call :p It's a long story how these were made, but to cut the story short, it started off with my home-made mung bean filling.

Many thanks to Siu Kitchen for sharing her many videos on how to make mooncakes online, I get to learn how to make mung bean filling for mooncakes myself. The English ingredients certainly help, as my Cantonese is really not fantastic :D I was excited to make the mung bean filling myself so I can really say I make the mooncakes from scratch. The lotus seeds filling and red bean filling I made last year failed, and I have not gathered enough courage to try again. Mung Bean fillings look easier :D I managed to make the mung bean fillings successfully. But after making the snowskin mooncakes, I still have a lot left. So I decided to make some Taiwanese Style Mooncakes without using the mooncake mould.

The texture of these are nothing like tau sar piah. Hubby said the mung bean filling is a bit dry, else, it actually tasted ok.  I may have fried the mung bean for too long. I followed the same recipe I used for my Taiwanese Style Mooncakes.

For the mung bean filling recipe, please go to Siu Kitchen's video. Here's her recipe for your convenience:

- 160g split mung beans (over here it's more commonly known as split green beans or 豆瓣)
- 40g sugar
- 10g oil (I used canola oil)
- 10g wheat flour (omitted)



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peanut Pancake 面煎粿


This is a very local pancake called 面煎粿. It is one of my favourite snack since young. I made the peanut version yesterday morning for our breakfast. Found this easy recipe, many thanks to My Kitchen for sharing this yummy recipe :)

For some reason, I grew up calling this "ban jian kueh", but all my other friends call it "meen jian kueh" :p

Here's the recipe. Please visit My Kitchen for the original recipe and method. I think it is good advice to cool the pancakes on the wire rack if not serving immediately, as the bottom of my pancake was a little soggy after sitting on the plate for 5 to 10 mins.

Ingredients (I made minor changes according to the ingredients I have on hand)

- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
-  a drop of  vanilla paste
- 1 cup low-fat fresh milk
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- pinch of double acting baking powder

- some butter
- diced or ground peanuts
- sugar (adjust to your preference)

Method (makes 2-3 servings)

1. Whisk egg and sugar together.
2. Add vanilla paste and half the milk. Continue mixing.
3. Add sifted flour in batches and mix.
4. Add oil and remaining milk and mix. The batter will be watery.
5. Heat a non-stick frying pan (I used the HappyCall frying pan so no oil was necessary). Pour half the batter (my pan size is 20") into the pan. Turn heat to low. When tiny air pockets appear on top of the batter, add some butter on top of the batter. Sprinkle peanuts & sugar mixture on top. Fold 1 side of pancake over to form a semi circle. Once the pancake is browned, remove from pan. Cool on a wire rack. It tastes best when hot.


Hope you enjoy this simple yet yummy breakfast like I do :)


Friday, August 29, 2014

Traditional Mooncakes



Time flies? Mid-Autumn festival is almost here. After last year's first attempt at making mooncakes, I simplified my "process" a little, as I already have the mooncake mould, and I know where to get the fried glutinous flour and ready-made lotus seeds paste, or which trusted recipe to go to :D

Amidst my minor renovation at home, I managed to make the snow skin mooncakes following the same recipe I used last year (but this time using strawberries), which I did not manage to take any photo :p

Found this recipe on Teacher Carol's blog, which looks similar to the recipe I attempted last year. I do not have parmesan cheese powder, thus I replaced with more milk powder. The mooncake skin is crunchy on the first day, and subsequently on the 2nd day, turns soft. As traditional mooncakes always taste better after 1-2 days. Although this recipe is titled Cantonese Style Red Bean mooncake, the ingredients look similar to the Taiwanese Style Mooncake I baked last year. I really like these 2 versions :)

The first picture is my attempt to make some piglets, which look quite strange :D Making figurines is tough, I knew that when I did the fondant cake for my gal. This time, my daughter requested for some "kosong" (she learns a few Malay words in school :D) mooncakes, as she prefers the mooncake skin over the lotus seeds fillings. "Kosong" means "empty", i.e., no filling in this case :)

Ingredients (makes 10, 5-cm diameter mooncakes)

- 65g cake flour
- 16g skimmed milk powder (from baking store)
- pinch of salt
- 15g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
- 20g icing sugar
- 15g golden syrup
- 20g beaten whole egg

- store-bought lotus seeds paste (make into 30g balls)
- some beaten egg for brushing

Method

1. Mix butter, salt and icing sugar using a whisk.
2. Add golden syrup and continue mixing.
3. Add egg and continue mixing until ingredients mix evenly.
4. Add milk powder and fold in using a spatula.
5. Add sifted cake flour and fold using a spatula. Do not over mix. Mixture may look sticky, but as long as the dough comes together, stop and cover with plastic wrap. Leave for 30mins.
6. Put some flour on worktop to prevent dough from sticking onto it. Knead dough briefly. Distribute dough into 10 equal parts. Flatten each dough and wrap lotus seeds paste inside. The skin will look very thin. It will be helpful if you watch some mooncake making videos to learn the technique.
7. Stamp out the mooncake using a mooncake mould/plunger. I am using the plunger type. Remember to flour the plunger so that the dough will not stick to it.
8. Bake at 210 degC preheated oven for 7 mins. Remove from oven, brush a thin layer of egg on the mooncakes, then return to oven and bake at 200 degC for 12-15 mins. Please adjust temperature according to your oven. When the top appears golden brown, it is done.

The mooncakes in the second photo are made by my daughter. Not bad right? :) The first time I made it I did not put flour in the mould, thus my mooncakes looked very funny :D I told her and she put lots of flour :p you can see traces of flour on her mooncakes. But the patterns are nicely imprinted on the mooncake. She did a good job :)

Please find the detailed recipe and method on teacher Carol's blog.


Happy baking! :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate Chips Muffins


This is another straight forward and simple recipe I tried the other day. This can be prepared with minimal fuss.

Found this recipe on Cookpad. I am not sure if it is similar to Starbucks muffins like the recipe owner mentioned, but the muffin is certainly soft and buttery.

I often find that muffins are so easy to put together that there is really no reason to buy from shops :p of course unless you are really not into baking.

Ingredients
- 210g cake flour
- 90g unsalted butter
- 60g sugar (I used dry demerara sugar)
- 2 eggs
- 160g fresh milk
- chocolate chips, as much as you want :p (original recipe uses Dars chocolate)
- 2 tsp of double acting baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (original recipe uses 3 drops of vanilla extract)

I modified the method slightly as I do not own a microwave oven.

Method
1. Melt butter (This is what I did: Place butter in a small bowl, then, add some hot water in a bigger bowl.  place the small bowl into the bigger bowl). 
2. In another bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until foamy.
3. Add sugar and beat for about 3 mins.
4. Pour melted butter into eggs and sugar mixture. Mix well.
5. Add milk and stir.
6. Add vanilla paste and stir.
7. Sift cake flour and baking powder into mixture.
8. Using a spatula, fold the flour in using a cutting motion until there is  no trace of flour. As of all muffin recipes, do not overmix.
9. Fill muffin cups, add chocolate chips when half-filled, and more when it is 70% full.
10. Bake in preheated oven at 180 degC for 30 mins. Please adjust timing according to your oven as each is different.


Happy baking! :)


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Flapjack / Rolled Oats Bars / Granola Bars




These days I have been spending more time reading up on lunch box recipes and cooking. Thus, had neglected baking. I was not inspired to bake when I think of the amount of washing up I have to do after that. Found this recipe which looks easy and minimal washing so I went ahead to make a batch.

After researching on the web, it seems like flapjacks, rolled oats bar and granola bars are the same thing. They are perhaps called differently depending fron which country you are from.

Here's the recipe, thanks to  My Wok's Life for sharing. I also referred to Jamie's step-by-step recipe when I made them. A picture speaks a thousand words, the photos are very helpful.

Ingredients
- 70g butter
- 60g brown sugar (I used unrefined dark brown soft sugar)
- 60g golden syrup
- 170g rolled oats (I used organic rolled oats)
- about 1 tbs of ground peanuts

Preparation
1. Line a 8" x 8" square pan with baking paper.
2. Preheat oven to 180 degC.

Method
1. Put butter, sugar and golden syrup in a heavy bottom saucepan. Melt them in low heat.
2. Stir with a wooden or silicone spatula to combine the ingredients when the butter starts to melt.
3. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and add rolled oats and peanuts  into pan.
4. Mix them well.
5. Transfer the mixture to the square pan and press down with a spatula or metal spoon.
6. Bake for 25 mins. Please adjust baking time according to your oven, original recipe stated 20 mins.
7. Once baking is done, leave flapjack to cool in pan for 10 mins before cutting into squares with a knife. Leave flapjack to cool completely in pan. Store in air-tight container.

The texture of these flapjacks is chewy. I would prefer a crunchy texture, will try again next time to see how that can be achieved. Nevertheless, the taste of these flapjacks is very good, it does remind me of caramel popcorn. It is easy to put together so don't hesitate to try this recipe if you have some rolled oats onhand.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Kabocha Squash Chocolate Chips Muffins

Under the muffins is a cute glass table top from my friend - it's a nice background for photos too! :)

These lovely Kabocha Squash Muffins are made using the same Organic Japanese Pumpkin bought from NTUC the other day. The small and cute pumpkin actually yielded a lot of mashed pumpkin. After giving some to my mom, I could still manage to pack 3 packets of 100g each, and kept them in the freezer for later use.

Last Saturday, I met two ex-colleagues for dim sum. I wanted to bake them something and the mashed pumpkin came in handy for me to prepare some pumpkin muffins quickly. Thanks to the Halloween Pumpkin Muffin recipe from Cooking with Dog. To me, muffins is easier to prepare as compared to other bakes, as it needs no special equipment. You just need a whisk (or fork) and a big mixing bowl.

Ingredients
(makes 6-7 5cm diameter muffins cups)

50g Unsalted Butter 无盐牛油, soften
80g Sugar 糖 *I used light muscovador sugar  unrefined dry demerara sugar

A pinch of Salt 少许盐 *Omitted as I used salted butter
1 Beaten Egg 蛋, lightly beaten
100g Kabocha Squash - Japanese pumpkin 南瓜
40g Roasted Walnuts (1.4 oz) 核桃  *I replaced with chocolate chips instead

120g Cake Flour or All Purpose Flour 抵筋面粉, sifted
1 tsp Baking Powder 发粉 
50ml Milk 牛奶

Please refer to the video from Cooking with Dog. The instruction is very clear, and I always enjoy watching the chef cook/bake, she is so neat! So unlike me when I bake :p and my kitchen is always messy right after I baked :p

My friends said the muffin is nice and soft. I am glad they enjoyed them :)


Kabocha Squash Chiffon Cake


I was greatly encouraged by the success of my Lavender Chiffon Cake and bought more paper chiffon tube case from Daiso to continue my adventure. Only 15cm tube case was available at the branch I went to. Thus, I made 2 more cup cakes from the balance batter as the recipe from Happy Flour calls for a 20cm tube pan. Many thanks to Happy Flour for sharing the recipe :)

As the pan size I used is smaller, I wasn't sure exactly how much should the tube case be filled, so I filled it to about 60%, and the two 5cm diameter cup cake case. It turned out that the chiffon cake tube case has room for more batter, as you can see from the photo above. Maybe all the batter could fill it up :D

The end result is a moist, soft and fluffy cake. It was not as light and tall as the Lavender chiffon cake, but it was interesting to see the bits of mashed pumpkin spread out evenly in the cake when it was sliced. I didn't manage to take a good picture on the sliced cake.


Due to my lousy skill in unmounding the chiffon cake, the cake was broken on the bottom :p

Please refer to the original recipe from Happy Flour. I have made very slight adjustments to her recipe based on what I had on hand:

Ingredients
- 3 egg yolks
- 25g light muscovador sugar unrefined dry demerara sugar

- 1/4tsp low-sodium salt
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 70g steamed and mashed kabocha squash (aka Japanese pumpkin)
- 60g low-fat Carnation evaporated milk
- 70g organic unbleached all-purpose flour

- 3 egg whites
- 45g light muscovador sugar unrefined dry demerara sugar


It is a lovely cake and the organic Kabocha Squash I bought from NTUC was very sweet! :)

Happy baking! :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meet the Twins - Lavender Chiffon Cakes


As I continue my adventure in "cooking" cakes in the rice cooker, there was something that I had been wondering - how will the same chiffon cake recipe "perform" in an oven and a rice cooker? From the previous rice cooker chiffon cake experience, I know that the rice cooker can do the job well and save the hassle of heating up the oven and watching the temperature (and keeping my fingers crossed that the cake will rise). But it seems like the rice cooker "Cake" function took quite some time to finish "cooking" the cake.

Curiosity kills the cat. This time, I followed Happy Home Baking's Lemon Lavender Chiffon Cake recipe. Many thanks to HHB again for sharing the recipe! :) Please refer to her blog for the full recipe. I had made very slight changes: omit lemon; soak the lavender flowers in the hot water first. Somehow, I think soaking the flowers first will help bring out the flavor :D The 7" chiffon tube pan recipe fits my two 12cm (or 5") disposable chiffon pans nicely.

I put one into the oven, and the other into the RC, and waited anxiously for the results. The one in the oven finished baking after about 25 mins at 170 degC. The one in RC continued through its long process and took almost double the time. I forgot to set the timer but it took roughly double the time. Anybody has tried taking the timing before? Please share if you do.

By the time the RC finished "cooking" (in fact, I stopped it before the "cooking" cycle was completed), the oven twin had already cooled down. I put them side-by-side to compare - I can't tell who is taller :D Although it is obvious that the one that was baked in the oven has a nice brown top, while its twin has a "white" top.

After turning them over, I found that the oven baked cake's bottom is "fairer" than its twin. After  slicing them, I started to get confused which was which (haha). Is that how parents of twins feel sometimes? :) Texture wise they seem similar. The only small difference I could see was that, the RC cake looks a little bit denser near the top of the cake.


If you ask me then which method will I use next time, I will say if I need to do something else and cannot afford the time to keep checking on the oven, I will choose the RC. But in other cases, I may just use the oven as it is faster and supposed it will save some electricity?


Nevertheless, it was an interesting test. This recipe is really yummy and the sweetness is just right, there is no need to reduce the amount of sugar :)

Happy baking and "cooking" :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rice Cooker Lavender Chiffon Cake


This blew my mind totally! Who would have thought that a rice cooker can make a chiffon cake so painlessly? Ever since I saw the post from MiMi Bakery House, I could not stop thinking about trying this out for myself. I mean, we know how difficult it is to make a successful chiffon cake, or at least for amateur like me. Worries about if the oven temperature is just right, if the cake will sink dramatically once removed from the oven, if the chiffon cake is cooked on the top & bottom but still uncooked in the middle...

My rice cooker took a bit long, I think at least 30 mins to finish cooking this cake. The cake was nicely risen when I opened the top of the rice cooker. I filled it 80% full as my recipe ended up with much more batter than a 12cm (or 5") chiffon cake mould could hold. I could still fill up two 5-cm diameter paper cups. But, per Murphy's law, the 5" cake plus 2 cups could not fit into my small rice cooker together! Alamak! What's next? I hurried to turn up my oven just to bake the 2 cupcakes as if it takes any longer, the 2 cakes will not rise. Baking chiffon cake always creates anxiety in me :p

Many thanks to MiMi Bakery for the recipe and Everybody Eats Well in Flanders for the advice! This is my first ever chiffon cake baked in a chiffon tube mould. I did not invest in a tube mould as I have no confidence in baking a chiffon cake. Disposable ones are good enough for me :p

I followed MiMi Bakery's recipe for Cocoa Chiffon Cake, but instead of cocoa powder, I put 1/2tsp of dried lavender (bought from Phoon Huat) into the hot water. The lavender flavor is mild as I was cautious not to make my cake smell like perfume by putting too much lavender. I think the next time I will add a little more sugar as the cake is not very sweet. Actually, I made a big boo boo while making this chiffon cake. Instead of adding sugar into the egg yolks, I added into the egg whites :p Just a note that I used 3 egg yolks and 3 egg whites as I did not want to have to deal with the extra yolk.

First thing I wanted to do was to tell Miss B that the chiffon cake mould really works! :D This is a good start, will explore more :)