Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Mini Break

Here it is, my last bake for Chinese New Year - Muesli Clusters. Actually I don't really know how to name it, because the basic recipe is Connie's Melting Moments, and then I 'borrowed' Ginny's idea of adding in muesli. Both Connie and Ginny are members of KC, who produces some really great bakes and pictures.

These little cups may not look fantastic in the pic, but I must say they taste really good. The cookie part simply melted away in the mouth, leaving behind the oat/wheat flakes and dried fruits to chew on. I contemplated adding cornflakes initially, but then I found a packet of muesli (which I've almost forgotten). That's the story behind these little cups, which combined the richness of butter cookies with the goodness of muesli mix - best of both worlds.


Close-up shot

Before I end off this post, I just want to let you guys know that tonight I'll be heading off to my in-laws' place in Ipoh, Malaysia for the Chinese New Year. Otherwise I think I'll still be baking up a storm :) I'll be back next Wednesday. So till then, happy baking, cooking and blogging. And to those who are celebrating Chinese New Year,


Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Favourite

After all that cookies, I'm starting to get a bit scared of cookies. Although I didn't eat all that cookies I made (they are meant to be given away), I still had to do 'taste tests'. I needed a break away from cookies making. So off I went to gather my ingredients again, this time for some bread making.

Remember I made Giselle's Pai-Pau sometime back? This round I used the same recipe, but made it into a Cinnamon Swirl Loaf. I also halved the recipe, simply because I wanted to fit it into my small bundt pan. Actually I bought this pan on the spur of the moment, have only used it once. Only realized now it's a bit too small for most recipes. But since it's already in my cabinet, I shall fully utilize it when possible.

You may have noticed the loaf is a bit shiny in some areas, that's because I didn't seal the ends properly. As a result, I ended up with a 'eruption' of the buttery filling. But nonetheless, the bread is delicious (call me biased, as I really love breads).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Here We Go Again....

I had a very good night's sleep yesterday, something which I've not done for a long time. The reason? I was dead tired, I've been baking for about 8 hours, taking a short break just for lunch. The results of that? 150 pineapple tarts and 90 cashewnut crisps. I know it may not sound like a lot, but considering that it's a 'One-Woman Show', I find it quite a feat (ahem!).

This is actually the first year I'm making pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year. I used Gina's recipe, named 'My Mum's Pineapple tarts'. I've made the tart dough some months back, but using blackcurrant jam. I really like this dough recipe, it's soft and buttery, and uses only 4 simple ingredients. Due to this, I found that the butter used plays a very important role. My first batch was 'ruined' because of the butter, there was no butter fragrance at all. I switched to another brand for the rest, and all the tarts turned out delicious, even the kitchen smells so nice while baking.

Forgot to add, I didn't have time to make the pineapple jam from scratch. Instead I bought those ready made jam, added some water, lemon juice, pandan leaves and cooked over low heat till slightly dry. Maybe my standard of pineapple jam is not that high, I found the jam actually quite good.

Also made another batch of Cashewnut Crisps, just added in some toasted black sesame seeds for a nutty aroma. Was a bit bored with round cookies, so tried to shape them into a slightly rectangular ones, ended up with a weird shape instead.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Frantic Weekend

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. Not that frantic, but I've been busy over the past weekend baking cookies for the Chinese New Year. Which is why I didn't have time to post these earlier.

First up, Kueh Makmur. These are traditionally shaped into leaves and they should have a leaf pattern on top. However, as this is my first time making this, I couldn't get the leaf pattern on top, despite crimping before baking.I almost dropped dead after finishing making these, the shaping process is tedious, and there were only 46 pieces! But the end result is worth it, rich, melt-in-the-mouth buttery cookies with a fragrant peanut filling on the inside. All those who tried liked it very much :p

All packed up as gifts (re-used the metal tin from buying mooncakes :p)

Next up, Cashewnut Crisps. These cookies are true to their name, it's really crispy. I've made some a few weeks back using peanuts in place of cashewnuts, and the fragrance is simply irresistable!

Still taking their time in the oven (sorry for the poor pic, my oven door is reflective)

Fresh cookies from the oven

Friday, January 13, 2006

Choco Choco

Cake recipe:

Ingredients (A)
85g unsalted butter
200g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients (B) - sift together
155g all-purpose flour
44g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Ingredients (C) - combine
1 egg
2 egg whites

Ingredients (D) - combine
1 tbsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
90ml buttermilk

1) Preheat oven to 180C.Grease cake pan*.
2) Cream butter and sugar in (A) till light and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Dribble in (C) slowly, about 1 tbsp at a time, beating constantly for about 2 mins.
3) On LOW speed, beat in 1/3 of (B). Mix until just combined. Gradually beat in ½ of (D). Beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the rest of (D). Lastly, beat in the rest of the flour. Take care not to overmix.
4) Pour batter into pan and smooth the top.
5) Bake for 45 to 50 mins till skewer inserted comes out clean.
6) Cool in pan for 10 mins. Unmold and cool completely.

* The above is for a 16cm bundt pan. The original recipe uses double the amount of ingredients and can make: one 25cm bundt pan OR one 23cm tube pan OR two 8.5x4.5x2.5cm loaf pans. Adjust baking time as necessary.

Glaze recipe(courtesy of Giselle of
KC, with some modifications):
140g dark couverture chocolate buttons
75g 45% cream
1/2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in a few drops of water

1) Mely chocolate and cream over a double boiler. Stir occasionally until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
2) Remove from heat, stir in glden syrup and coffee. Stir until combined.
3) Set aside to cool until thicken slightly. Pour over cooled cake.

Do I see some question marks over your head? Wondering what this recipe is for? Hee, you might have guessed, it's a chocolate cake. To be exact, it's Chocolate Pound Cake, which I adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chocolate & the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. You might have noticed that recently I've been using Alice Medrich's recipes. The first was the
Yogurt Marble Cake. I noticed that her recipes have got pretty rave reviews from the blogs I frequent, so I decided to try them out.

True enough, I must say that this recipe turned out a success as well. The cake is deep, dark and very chocolaty. Paired with the Mocha Chocolate Glaze, this cake is truly heaven chocolate cake lovers.

Top view

Close-up of the interior

Paired with frozen strawberry yogurt

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I've always loved chiffons cakes, from as a young kid, to my teenage years, up till now. I like it for the fact that it's spongy, light and fragrant. In my younger days, I only knew them as pandan cakes, simply because they are always pandan flavoured. It's only when I ventured into baking then I knew that they are chiffons. Nowadays there are all kinds of flavours, chocolate, coffee, green tea etc. But only one appeals to me, pandan.

Pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) are widely used in Asian cooking and baking. It has a subtle frangrance which does not overwhelm and is commonly used in desserts such as sweet potato soup, biscuits such as Kueh Bangkit and not forgetting kaya and cakes. But somehow I find that the pandan leaves nowadays are as fragrant as before. That is why I usually double the number of leaves used.

The colour of the pandan chiffon below is achieved by a combination of natural and man-made products. By using only pandan leaves blended with evaporated milk, I found that the colour is a dull green, which makes the cake not really appetizing. By adding a few drops of pandan paste, both the colur and frangrance are enhanced. As a result, I cannot call cake an 'all-natural' cake, but at least it's free from emulsifiers and preservatives.


60g Top Flour

1 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

40g sugar (A)

4 egg yolks

40g oil (I use canola)

70g pandan milk(I blend 10 blades pandan leaves with 100g evaporated milk and sieve)

1 1/2 tbsp water

1/4 tsp pandan paste

4 egg whites

1/3 tsp cream of tartar

40 g sugar (B)

1)Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Have a 8-inch ungreased tube pan ready.

2)Sift flour and baking powder 3 times, add in salt and sugar (A). Whisk to mix well and make a well in the centre.

3)Into the well, add in oil first, followed by egg yolks, pandan milk, water and lastly pandan paste. Using the whisk, combine until smooth.

4)Sift the mixture into another bowl using a fine sieve to remove any flour lumps.

5)In another clean bowl, beat egg whites until frothy, add in cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks. Add sugar (B) in 3 batches and beat until stiff peaks.

6)Add about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture and gently stir with the whisk to lighten the mixture.

7)Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

8)Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 30 to 40 mins or until cooked.

9)Immediately invert the pan and let cool completely before unmolding.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Something Italian

After the post on something 'low-fat', I made something truly NOT low fat for lunch today - Beef Lagsana.

Lasagna is my hubby's favourite, he would have it almost every Sunday, when we go to this food court with a very good pizza stall. I thought, why not I try making this for him. He gave it two thumb ups :p

I was happy that the lagsana turned out pretty well, not only because my hubby loves it, but also because I made this from scratch. I made the bolognese sauce and bechamel sauce. I was contemplating buying ready-made pasta sauce and using cream of mushroom soup. I'm glad I didn't, because the bolognese sauce turned out great, with all the fresh herbs added in.

I managed to bake Herb Olive Foccacia as well. The dough was a bit difficult to work with today, could not get the holes in the dough, which are characteristic of foccacia bread. Never mind, next try.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is it really Low-Fat?? - The Answer

Continuing from my previous post on my Yogurt Marble Cake. I have not answered the question “Is it really low fat?” I did some rough calculations, based on the fat amount from the butter, eggs and cocoa, which are the major contributors of fat. This recipe has, per serving, about 5.2g of fat of which 2.4g are saturated fat. For my old recipe for marble cake, it has 7.5g fat with 3.7g saturated per serving. Don’t call me a geek yet, sometimes I calculate these just for fun.

According to FDA’s food labeling definition, a low fat product must have 3g or less of total fat and 1g or less saturated fat per serving. So my cake does not exactly fit the criteria. But then, why bother too much with the numbers? Now, I believe in moderation rather than obsession with counting single calorie that goes into the mouth. That’s so miserable right? As far as I’m concerned, this cake is great, moist, light and with a just-right sweetness to it. And oh yes, it tastes even better the next day.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Is it really Low- Fat??

It has been a long time since I made a Marble Cake, decided to make one today. This recipe is from Alice Medrich's Chocolate & the Art of Low Fat Desserts. Looking at the recipe, it does seem low fat, in terms of the amount of butter. It uses 85g of butter, my recipes call for at least 125g. Hmm.. looks like I can give it a try.

I did not follow the recipe strictly. It calls for Dutch-processed cocoa, which I do not have. I just used natural cocoa, adjusted the baking soda amount and hoped for the best as I know that the substitution do not always work. I also cut down on the sugar slightly, which I thought was very high - 270g. But as this recipe has a lower fat content, the higher sugar content is required as a tenderizer, so I didn't reduce too much. It's actually a trade-off, I feel personally, low fat but higher sugar.

Another thing that got me on tenterhooks was the batter started curdling after I finished adding the eggs. Oh no! This is something I always hated. But I refused to just throw away my batter (what I used to do), I just added in two tablespoons of flour and continue mixing. Hmm, looks alright, so I just proceeded. After all the ingredients have been incorporated, the batter looks smooth again. Strange?!

I baked this in a 21-cm tube pan, which I thought initially was too large. However, it turn out pretty alright, except for the cracks on tops. But I do like cracks on top of butter and pound cakes. So here's the pics for my Yogurt Marble Cake.

Too much chocolate batter, you think?

I couldn't resist pinching a piece. It's unbelieveably moist, and it's not as heavy as the usual butter cakes. Let's see if it remains moist tomorrow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bread Rolls? Rolled Bread?

I had some time for bread making yesterday morning, and the weather was warm, suitable for yeast fermentation. So I gathered all the necessary ingredients and equipment, off i go.

I used a recipe from Giselle, a member of KC. Giselle produces some fantastic breads and takes great pictures. Best of all, she kneads her bread dough by hand! It's a lot of hard work to knead bread dough by hand, I can vouch for that. That was what I did before I got my trusty KitchenAid mixer, and I could never knead to the correct consistency, something so important to produce the fine honeycomb structure of a loaf of bread. So, I salute all of you who hand-knead your bread dough!

Back to my bread, this is a recipe for 'Pai-Pau' - 排包, 排 means roll, and 包 is bread/bun, so this recipe loosely translates to Rolled Bread. This is a pretty rich sweet dough, with 2 egg yolks and about 20% sugar. I added in some toasted black sesame seeds, which added a nutty aroma. The result? Soft, fluffy rolls which are queue-ing up (排隊) to be eaten, by yours truly.

Fresh rolls from the oven. Can you smell the aroma?

Close up (not really?) of the interior