Friday, December 26, 2008

Blessed Christmas

Here's wishing all my friends a happy and blessed Christmas.

I promised a friend photos of what I served at our cosy family Christmas Eve dinner. I am happy with the result of the honey plum roast pork, finally. I made Oxtail Stew at my sister-in-law's request and they loved it.

I brought the items below to our office gathering on Tuesday. I completed the crustless quiche in record time! Those who tasted it enjoyed it and I intend to keep practising. Hubs brought one bottle of Cornflakes Minicups to his office party. He had asked for another bottle of it for his colleague. As for peanut butter fans, guess which item appealed to them most?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Steamed Glutinous Rice

This is one dish the 2 guys at home really enjoy. My son loves anything made with glutinous rice but I have to limit his intake as old people would say that kids are not able to digest it well. Besides, he will soon be obese if we don't start to control his food intake. As for hubs, he totally loves the steamed glutinous rice from a certain stall at the Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre.

After tasting Gina's version at the KC Hi-Tea recently, I told myself that I had to try it out again. While there is nothing rocket science about this dish, practice is the key to success. I used the recipe from here.

I remembered that my first attempt at it did not yield any memorable results as there were some uncooked rice. This time around, there wasn't any uncooked bit but the rice could be a little softer. I'll have to add slightly more water to it. As I wanted to have a "white" version, I omitted all the dark sauces and used oyster sauce instead. That yielded a somewhat brownish appearance. Guess I would have to leave oyster sauce out as well if I want a totally white version.

I thought that I could also increase the taste quotient of this next time. However, my boy said this worked just fine for him. Hubs still misses that version from Tiong Bahru... a taste of childhood, maybe?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Madeleine, oh Madeleine

This is worth every effort in making. For the first time since I began baking, these babies were consumed all within 6 hours! I baked them this morning so we would have some light snacks while the children enjoyed themselves at Wild Wild Wet. My little niece was the biggest fan of these chocolate lemon madeleines, she kept asking for more.

The recipe is taken from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan. I had to wait a few weeks after reserving the book online. I must say that it is an interesting recipe that I would definitely try again soon. Besides, the madeleine trays are screaming for attention.

I would also need the practice of rubbing the sugar with lemon zest as I kept wondering if I had done that step well. There wasn't much hint of lemon, or that could have been over-shadowed by the varlhona cocoa powder... Overall, I would say that these are really chocolatey, yum!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Apple Sauce & Cinnamon Cupcakes

Aren't they so cute? The tiny donut-shaped cakes are made with the same batter as the cupcakes. They are made with a simple recipe which my sister-in-law gave me long ago. She has been eating my bakes and she wanted to share this really simple recipe with me.

It's really simple, equal amounts of sugar, self-raising flour and butter; with some cinnamon, 2 eggs and a bottle of apple sauce (I used baby food!). Beat all together till smooth and bake. I didn't have a particularly easy time trying to fill the donut tray, though. Next time, I'll try piping definitely.

I suspect that I could have over-compensated for the slightly "old" flour as the cupcakes turned out a little too wet for my liking. However, my friend S said they were perfect and she liked the texture of the cupcakes! Well, since these were done especially for her, that should be considered a success. Besides, my children kept popping the mini donuts into their mouths. If I didn't stop them to take photo of the mini-donuts, they would have been gone in under 15 minutes. I hope S tries to bake it ...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Of Quiche and Good Times

It's not true that I MADE this quiche, well at least not entirely. All I did was prepare the shortcrust pastry and laid it onto the pie pan. The custard and filling were prepared by Gina and that was what gave flavour to the whole dish. She made it look so easy or perhaps I had not bothered to find out previously.

I had tasted quiche but don't remember liking what I had tasted. So I never bothered to look up recipes for quiche. This was one of the dish presented at the first Hi Tea Buffet held by Kitchen Capers and Chef's Secrets Cooking Studio.

When I knew that Gina and Amy, co-owner of Chef's Secrets, were going to prepare and cook a day before the buffet, I volunteered to help. I had been taking a break from baking for too long and thought this would end the drought of not baking. It sure did!

I rubbed butter into flour and kneaded till it was pliable. Without guidance from the two teachers, I would not have learnt one important thing. The crust which I made previously were too dry! That explained why I was unable to roll the dough, even after chilling it for 30 minutes! Now I know...

Below is a picture of some of the food served, just a few of the many yummy items served.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Korean Pancake

It's been a really long time since my last post, I had been away was one reason. The other, I have not found any recipe that inspired me to take out the mixer and spatula. I'm tempted to bake something for my colleague who will be celebrating her birthday this weekend, but I'm afraid she won't eat the cake as cakes are calorie-laden...

While chatting with a cyber friend, she told me about a particular Korean pancake premix that tasted amazing... ok, if you had seen what ingredients she added, it would be hardly surprising that the pancake DIDIN'T taste amazing. So, I visited the Korean grocery store near my home and found the same packet of Korean pancake premix! Oh, did I mention that she doesn't live in SG? Psst, this premix is supposedly FREE of MSG too!

Since I was on leave, I went out to the local wet market to buy Chives (or koo chye) and prawns. My friend insisted that I had to use chives as that's what makes the pancake yummy. Thankfully, my regular vegetable stall has a bunch remaining and sold them all to me without any hesitation.

From my experience with this pancake, I realised that a flat-based frying pan would give the best looking pancakes. As I used a wok, I ended up with slightly thin pancakes. My friend is right, the pancake tasted really delicious and this is something that I won't hesitate to serve my guests in future. It will be an interesting talking point too!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Memories are Made of These

This was a request from my boy, he wanted breakfast that consisted of scrambled eggs, ham and sausage for breakfast. I promised him that I would prepare that for him and that happened about two weeks ago, on the last public holiday in October.

This reminded me of the time I spent as a SAHM (stay at home mom) from May/June 2000 to Sep 2001. He was barely 3 then and was an absolute joy to be around, as moms of little boys would attest to. Not that girls are not, but moms and daughters share different experience from moms and sons. I decided then to stay home full-time as the dotcom I was working in was going under and I felt that my girl needed some serious preparation for Primary 1. I am glad I did that and this breakfast brought back memories of all the moments I had spent with each of them.

I took so long to get this post up and got the nudge when I found that Happy Home Baking has tagged me! Gosh, I can proscrastinate no more... here goes 7 random facts about me:

1. After my stint as SAHM, I have absolute respect for all SAHM as I realised that my calling isn't that. I believe my kids appreciate me more when I get home after work, and vice versa too.
2. I, too, have a driivng license (as old as my son, I was in my 4th month with him) and the last time I drove was a couple of months back. I didn't go far, just forward for 500m? and reversed into a parking lot :P
3. I have taken a 2-week break from baking as I have been eating all the cakes (if I didn't give them away) on my own. Imagine the number on the scales when I finally had the courage to step on one!
4. Linked to the above, I am trying to reduce the number on the scale, so far, it's been uphill and the reduction is meagre.
5. I am big on inspiration, I seek to be inspired and hope to inspire anyone who needs it. I work with many young people and I see how they transform as they get ready to take their first step into the world of WORK.
6. I am (or specifically, my hair is) in need of a perm and colour, however, the hairstylist recommended that I improve the condition before I do further damage to it.
7. What else, but my wardrobe (or even life?) is in dire need of a serious "clean up". You won't believe, but I have almost a cupboard full (in my girl's room) of clothes that I have probably not worn in the past 12 months. These are mainly jackets and clothes that don't fit any more...

I'm tagging the following 7 bloggers, I hope they have fun with this meme
1. Rei at All That Matters
2. Aimei at Baking Cottage
3. SSB at Small Small Baker
4. KWF at Pure Enjoyment
5. Bernice at Bernice's Baking Journey
6. Emily at Misosa's Diary
7. Ting at Bake Me Happy

Here are the rules for tagging:
Link to my blog (tagger) on your blog.
Give seven facts about yourself.
Tag another seven bloggers by leaving a comment on their blogs and letting them know they were tagged and listing them (and their blogs) on your blog.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Banana Yogurt Cake

If I did a count of the fruit I baked most with, then it has got to be bananas, with oranges a close second. I simply love baking with these two fruits! The aroma was so amazing, and it definitely didn't come from essence as none was used.

I was recently introduced to Greek yogurt, which is creamier but less sour than normal plain yogurt. Working with it initially was a challenge but I soon grew to like this better than the usual yogurt, which tends to be very watery. In my opinion, results of bakes with Greek yogurt comes closest to those with sour cream. I was told that recipes that call for sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk yield the best results. I have tried both sour cream and yogurt and I love both. I will find a chance to try baking with buttermilk. I am begining to be more selective with recipes under the good influence of a cyber friend :)

I managed to buy a tub of Greek yogurt over the weekend but there was only one size, 1 kg! Ideally, everything should be consumed within three days of opening. Imagine the stress of looking for the right recipe so that the yogurt won't go to waste. I had wasted half a tub about two months ago and felt so bad. I had just enough for one last cake and when hubs said he felt like having bananas, (which is really rare although he loves it) I encouraged him and looked for the nicest bunch with the most speckles.

And which recipe did i use? This one from Baking Bites of course! I cannot remember how many times I tried baking with this recipe, but today's result turned out best. Previous attempts were very moist due to the overdose of bananas. Today, however, the proportion of all the ingredients was just right. I must make a note of the amount of ingredients which I used today so that I can get the same result the next time.

I was pleasantly surprised with a call from my little 6 year-old niece. She called especially to tell me that she liked the banana cake and to "please cook it again, ok?" Of course, sweetie, I will definitely bake it again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Orange Yogurt Cake

A show of hands, please, how many of people (on this sunny island, at least) have encountered problems when using cups instead of the weighing scale? Perhaps it's just me but I would like to think that my problem, with the latest yogurt cake, lies not in the size of the cups but most likely in the size of the eggs. I bought this last batch of eggs from the market, 10 for S$2.10. These are likely to be slightly bigger than 60g each.

I know I am not the only person who have problems with this recipe. I used oranges instead of grapefruit. After an earlier unsuccessful attempt with another yogurt cake, I approached this with a proper plan.
  • make a more conscious effort to scoop (and flatten) the 1.5 cups of flour
  • mix the eggs, yogurt and sugar together, then add oil (to prevent over mixing flour later)
  • use the balloon whisk to fold in flour, not more than 15 strokes (a tip I found here, see "Batters")
  • bake at a slightly lower temperature (than 180 deg C).

With all the above checked, I put the tray in to bake. All looked and smelled well, and I drenched the cake with OJ from two oranges. And waited... but I could wait no longer and cut the cake when it was cooled enough.

After uttering a silent prayer, I picked up one piece of cake. I should have suspected when there wasn't any crumbs, it's another kueh :(

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sago, Say Me

Did I mention that I am a TV addict, and that my fave channels on cable is Asian Food Channel (AFC, Channel 69) and Discovery Travel & Living (Channel 16)? That's also because our subscription plan does not include any of the chinese channels, that explains why I am not watching the drama serials on cable channels.

Back to my fave channels, I simply love and enjoy very much any programme that features, what else but food! That said, I do have my preference and lately, Food Safari caught my attention. Ok, from what I gather so far, it's about the different types of food found in Australia, either from restaurants or people's homes.

In recent episodes, they featured both food from Singapore and Malaysia. And something caught my girl's eyes -- sago gula melaka. I didn't follow the recipe on AFC, though, as the idea of eating raw egg white doesn't rest well with me. But I think the egg white will give another dimension to the otherwise bland sago. There is a lot of room for improvement and the result was not too bad for a first attempt. Prior to this, I had neither made nor tasted this. As expected, my girl went "ooohhh, taste a lot like coconut..." By the way, she is no fan of coconuts, in any form.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rum Raisin Pound Cake

I have been reading a few chinese cook books lately. All of them feature simple and beautiful cakes. These books are regularly featured on a few blogs and so I visited the library's website to reserve them. I especially enjoyed Delicious!! Baked Cakes, Ikuko Omori, BUT, I was also very frustrated when I found some pages of the book missing! The pages were torn so meticulously and indicated that it was a pre-meditated act. How anyone can be so selfish is really beyond comprehension, not only did I have to pay to borrow it (ok, it's a small sum), I had to wait a few weeks for it. Gosh!

So, I turned to a previously tested recipe and was totally blown away with the result. Perhaps it's due to my obsession with rum & raisins, but the texture of the cake is really something. It's soft and moist, almost like "melt in your mouth". I used light sour cream this time and I have reasons to believe that this version is better than the previous attempt. As for the recipe, it's a pound cake, so use your imagination...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally Posting

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. There are a number of factors, work and personal matters have been keeping me busy. It felt like an extended PMS, one that lasted a few weeks. Thanks to my friends in the blogging community who emailed me, it's a really warm cyber community. I would have baked tonight had I not run out of caster sugar...

I have been baking during this period but I didn't post because I had been baking numerous banana cakes since baking Nigella's banana rum cake. So I figured it was a little meaningless to keep posting about banana cakes.

I also tried baking 3 chiffon cakes, all I can say is that I am out of practice. They were all lousy to look at, but I still ate three-quarters of the 2 orange chiffon cakes. I added cointreau to the batter and that added another dimension to the taste. I would probably not be baking without liquour, if I can help it.

During the past few weeks, I added more toys to my collection as well. I went to Shermay's as they were having a sale for microplane graters. When I got there, I could not resist buying the packet of 3 different zesters/graters. The packet was priced at a real bargain, all for under S$100. Then I picked up 2 silicon madeleine moulds from Pantry Magic as well. I really love the microplane zester, it seems that orange and lemon zest taste and smell much better now! That was why I baked 2 orange chiffon cakes and 1 lemon chiffon cake (sadly, without liquour).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mango Sago Smoothie

It's the fifteen day of the eighth month, according to the lunar calendar. That's what my dad told me when I asked him to help me get a pomelo this morning. It's the day where sellers over charge for everything related to the Mid Autum Festival (中秋节), he said. I'm not sure how expensive the pomelo costed eventually as the deal was, if it were exorbitant he would not get any for me. I got one anyway. The way I see it, if they are left with so much stock, that won't make much business sense. So, it doesn't make sense for them to over charge on the actual day, I guess.

I searched the web for something appropriate to write on this auspicious day, and found the lyrics of a song, 月圆花好 by 周璇:


I won't try to translate that as I'm sure I'll be really far off. I'm sure the song is about how this is such a special day for couples, and everything is sweet and happy. Here's wishing everyone a happy and joyous time with loved ones.

As for me, I tried re-making something I ate a lot of during my trip to Hong Kong last year. I remember ordering this dessert 杨枝甘露, which can be called mango sago smoothie. I found that in Hong Kong, some stalls added coconut milk, something I don't especially enjoy.

My sister-in-law made something like this recently, and I thought I would try making it on my own version. I am glad that own concoction turned out pretty good. Room for improvement, of course, but not bad for my first attempt.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Black Sesame Delight

I was very curious when I first saw this post on Florence's blog. She had described it as a "sweet and delicate dessert". Click here for a more in-depth explanation of what blanc manger is.

I agree wholeheartedly that it is a very delicate dessert. Notice that I didn't even take it out from the mould? I had removed one and for some reason, it could not stand upright for long, and started to fall a little shorter in a short while. It didn't break, though, just looked really, stout.

I had followed the recipe closely except for the part about black sesame paste. I could not find any and so used a sachet of instant black sesame paste (芝麻糊) mixed with very little hot water. I supposed the version Florence used is much thicker as mine turned out looking very very light with almost no frangrance of black sesame at all. For the next try, I would probably use the whole sachet instead.

This dessert was so light and refreshing that my boy liked it so much. The two of us probably finished the whole batch of this blanc manger. It tasted very much like mousse, and I'm glad I had used non-diary whipping cream! So, I was very much guilt-less as I ate the whole cup on my own.

This will definitely be my number choice for an "elegant" dessert for the next dinner party. Besides, it is something that can be prepared well in advance. All I need is to find something equally elegant to serve them in. Perhaps I won't even remove them from the cups...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Banana Chocolate Cake

Surprise, surprise, yet another banana cake, you must be thinking. We don't usually buy bananas as fruit, as I am carbo-averse. Hubs, lets just say he has a sensitive stomach... my girl loves bananas, only found out this week though, when we had a overflowing (over-ripening flow) of bananas at home. In total, I had purchased between 15 and 18 bananas just to experiment with Nigella's Banana Rum Cake.

September seems to be a busy month of birthdays. My girl had her birthday on Monday and she asked me to help her bake a cake for her friend! I seem to have become the "official baker" and have to bake presents on her behalf too. So I got her involved, afterall, it was HER present for her friend, right? She made the stencil by cutting out the letters "Happy B'day XT" on a piece of paper. Ok, the words looked a little fuzzy :P I have since bought 4 wilton stencils for cake decorations to cope with such requests to bake birthday presents, erm, cakes.

This cake was easy to bake as well, just stir and bake. Of course, there was the additional step of melting chocolates and butter. My kids love this cake, that was what they said anyway. Next time I bake this, I would cover the top with a layer of ganache as it has lots of small holes all over. This is also a kids-friendly cake (read: no alcohol).

Banana Chocolate Cake


90g self-raising (SR) flour, 90g all-purpose (AP) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, 170g butter
1 tbsp corn oil, 150g chocolate
100ml hot water, 80ml milk
170g brown sugar, 3 eggs
200g bananas (sliced)


  1. Grease and line 10cm x 32 cm baking tin. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.

  2. Combine SR and AP flour, baking powder, soda and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.

  3. Melt butter, oil, chocolate, hot water and milk over low heat. Remove from heat, combine with brown sugar and eggs.

  4. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture together with banana slices until well blended.

  5. Spoon batter into prepared tin. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked. Stand for 10 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.

  6. Decorate with ganache, bananas and/or chocolate chips (optional).

Source: Easy Stir 'n Bake Cakes by Kevin Chai

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Banana Rum Cake

I doubt I would be baking any regular banana cake after this. Afterall, this is so easy to put together as well. A cyber friend in Hong Kong told me that she had baked a banana cake with rum-soaked raisins and walnuts. When I looked at her photograph, I couldn't help but want to try to bake it myself. Besides, I had received a copy of Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddes since last Christmas.

The recipe looked fairly simple and there are many resources, even videos, easily available on the internet. I didn't even need to use a mixer. It was so easy to make that I made it twice this week. The picture above is the improved version as the first one had a huge crack in the middle. My mistake with the first attempt was wrong oven temperature. The cake was dark and cracked, it also looked really dry. However, it was very soft and tasty, especially on the second day. I shared the first loaf with my group of tasters and they gave their "stamp of approval" saying that the cake was "nice and moist". That encouraged me to bake another batch for a dear friend, whom I'll be meeting tomorrow.

On VB's advice, I tented the pans during baking to see if I would get a better result. And I'm glad I did that, as the cakes turned out so beautiful -- without any cracks! For the second attempt, I even brushed the top of the cakes with some rum! I was determined to intoxicate anyone who consumes the cake! I can't wait to see my friend's reaction tomorrow.

Now, to show you version one, see the crack and difference in colour? It looked dry and hard too, but tasted great even on the third day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

She's a Teenager

What d'ya know? My first-born little girl is officially a teenager, she turns 13 today. I can't help but recall all the excitment that surrounded us while we waited for her arrival. She is the first grandchild for both paternal and maternal sides. That naturally meant she is eagerly anticipated by both sets of grandparents, and both of us.

Being people who do not like to be unprepared, we chose to have an induced birth on 8 September 1995, it was a Friday. This day is also the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Sister Ma at the Mt Alvernia Hospital told me that we had chosen a good day to have our baby. (Yes, we are Roman Catholics).

Most, if not all, mothers would agree that everything is pure anticipation for the first-timer. When my doctor told me that it was going to be a "long-haul" I wasn't quite sure what to make of his comment. It was then past 9.00 am and epidural had just started. It wasn't until 5.30 pm that we finally met her. And boy, did she look exactly like her daddy! (In fact, she still looks exactly like him!) I was told later by another mother, whom I met at the ante-natal class, that in Thai culture (she was from Thailand) they believe that if a little girl she looked like her father, then she would be really fortunate. With God's blessings, I'm sure she would be blessed with good fortune too.

Officially, I didn't bake her any cakes as she had requested for a chilled marshmellow cake. It had to be purple, no less. As I could not get any blueberries in time, I had to resort to using food colouring, as she had insisted as well. She cut the cake with 4 of her classmates, who came over on Saturday to complete some holiday projects. When a group of young girls get together, one can expect lots of giggling, chuckling and screaming. They happily ordered fast food by phone, while we were out. In all, I'm sure she had a really good time on Saturday.

We hosted a small get-together on Saturday night, as it was another friend's birthday. So we bought a chocolate cake to celebrate both their birthdays.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lemon Lavender Cookies

Oh, how time flies! At the blink of an eye, it's the end of August now. It's been 9 months and 9 days since this blog was conceived. For Chinese, the number 9 sounds the same as "forever" and I wonder how long I can sustain this interest in baking and blogging.

I have a bottle of dried lavender waiting to be used. Drinking lavender tea is an acquired taste, initially it was like drinking air freshner, but after a while, it was quite soothing. Afterall, it's property is calming and it's supposed to be pain relieving too. I cannot remember what other flower goes well with lavender so I have been drinking it on its own.

So naturally when I saw a recipe using lavender, I was intrigued and keen to try it out. Besides, it also calls for lemon. Since taking up baking, I realised that I love citrus fruits, especially lemon and lime. Their zest add to the aroma during baking. Even the lavender gave off a wonderful aroma, but it does need some getting used to.

I first saw it on Mandy's blog and later on Happy Home Baking's blog. I encountered a similar experience as HHB, where the dough was really soft. I had some trouble rolling and wrapping it with cling wrap. Fortunately, after a little struggle, I managed to wrapped them up and placed the 2 rolls into the freezer.

I baked them after 45 mins to 1 hour. I could not wait to taste it, and tried one as soon as it was cool enough. It simjply melted in my mouth! As for taste, let's stick with "acuquired" taste.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oatmeal Cookies

I have been looking out for a good oatmeal cookie recipe to try for the longest time. I was addicted with oatmeal cookies after tasting those made and sold at Wooden Spoon, a small bakeshop at Beach Road. They sell the most incredible scones, yum yum. These scones are sold out by lunch time. On one occassion when their scones were all sold out, I could not walk away empty handed. So I bought a box of their oatmeal cookie and boy was I blown away when I tried one.

When I saw this recipe on Amanda's blog, I told myself that I had to try it one day. Since it's the eve of Teachers' Day celebrations in schools, I told myself to just go ahead to bake them. I was keen to try the recipe and suspected that my girl would probably ask me for something to bring. And true enough! She asked if she could bring the cookies for her teachers while I was making the dough. She said she needed 8 packets, then she wanted 2 more for her primary school teachers. Later, when her friend found out about the cookies, she asked if she could have one to give to her CCA teacher as well.

In all, we packed about 11 packets (about 5 to 6 cookies each) and my girl brought the balance to school to share. By the time everything was cooled and packed, it was past her bedtime. I had to grab my camera and stole a few shots quickly.

I followed Amanda's recommendation of reduced sugar (I used 155g of brown sugar) and 2 tsp of cinnamon powder. Air was filled with slight aroma of cinnamon but I could barely taste it. If I have time to bake them longer, say at least 15 mins, they would probably be more crispy. It's a good recipe, give it a try!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anko Soy Parfait

I once heard a relative comment that since she could not (or did not enjoy) cooking, she decided that she would focus all her efforts in perfecting different desserts. I thought that was a pretty good strategy as her mother-in-law is a really fantastic cook among the relatives. So, no point competing in the same area, right? Since venturing into world of baking and desserts, I have learnt these are not "easy" to prepare and call for lots of 功夫 (skills).

I won't say that I have a sweet tooth and in recent years, I've cut down on sugar so much that I take coffee and soy milk without sugar. Since taking up baking, I've consumed more sugar, much to the detriment of my initial goal of keeping my weight consistent (ideally, no weight gain, but honestly, how can that be possible?) So, it's always a challenge for me to balance sweetness so that whatever is prepared would appeal to everyone (so that I won't be the ONLY person eating it). My girl always says "Mummy, it's only sweet to YOU..."

Back to this latest trial. I first saw it on Florence's blog after this year's Chinese New Year. I thought it was an interesting recipe and would probably be a talking point at dinner parties. I finally found the chance to give it a try.

In terms of preparation, it was really easy! As I wanted it to appeal to more people, I used Meiji low fat milk instead of sugar-free soy milk. Even then, the taste of soy was still prominent. It tasted very much like silken 豆花 (bean curd). However, I found it too sweet especially when taken with the anko (azuki bean paste). I used Japanese canned anko, available at Daiso, and didn't expect it to be so sweet as well. I'm wondering, what else I can pair this soy parfait with...

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Decorated Cake

After various attemps, this was the cake I baked for my son, who turns 10 today. The cake was presented on Saturday, when we invited some close friends over for a small celebration. He insisted on putting mini oreos on the sides. I had originally wanted to decorate it like Mandy's. But my boy simply refused to let me use the chocolate wafer sticks.

For the cake, I followed HHB's ever-reliable sponge cake recipe and simply replaced 10g of cake flour with 10g of Varlhona cocoa powder. Somehow, when I touched the cake, it didn't appear to be as soft as the vanilla version. I followed a fellow blogger's suggestion to apply chocolate ganache and creme chantilly on the cake. I realised afterwards that I should have been a lot more generous with the creme (non-diary whipping + sugar + a dash of rum).

As this would be my first attempt in covering the cake, the creme was all over! I also made the mistake of using a cake base that was too small! After covering whatever I could all around the cake, I had to think of something to hide the top! Laying more oreo would be what my boy would have liked but it would be an overkill. Nuts were out of the question as the kids dislike having nuts on or in cakes. So, I thought of covering with cocoa powder instead, and it worked.

At the end of the whole exercise, my boy declared that he wanted a store-bought cake for the small gathering. I was devastated! Naturally, I could understand that he was bored from tasting all the trials -- I had been practising Rei's chocolate yogurt cake recipe. The first one failed as I got a real hard but super chocolatey kueh. The second attempt was slightly more successful but the taste of yogurt was a tad too strong. So the boy probably concluded that this cake wasn't up to standard to "face public scrutiny".

However, on Saturday, after he bought his birthday present, a DS Lite games cartridge (and he is now targeting the PSP) he totally didn't want to spend more time looking for a cake. He just wanted to go home! I was like what? Now you want mummy's cake, omg, will the cake be up to expectations as I had baked it on Thursday? ...

As expected, the cake was a little dry and the oreo biscuits were, well, soft. I had placed a layer of Loacker dark chocolate waffers in the middle. I suspect that I should have broken them up as suggested by a fellow blogger. In all, it was a good exercise as I had learnt many valuable lessons for future cakes and decoration. Bracing myself for my girl's cake in two weeks and she has decided on a non-bake/chilled cake, in the likes of strawberry hearts, without the strawberries.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peach Ice-Cream Cake

Oh, I'm so proud of myself on two counts: first, for successfully baking a wonderfully soft sponge cake (thanks HHB for the recipe) and secondly, for pulling off the assembly of this cake. It's a big sigh of relief as my earlier trials of baking a sponge cake, let's just say they were nowhere near "successful".

I must say, the cake needs to be further decorated before it can "face the world". For home consumption, it was enough. We don't need any more unnecessary calories tagging on. As we were too eager to taste it, the cake was still fairly frozen. Before consumption, it should probably be thawed :P Ice-cream is homemade as featured previously.

I have trying out and practising to bake birthday cakes for my two darlings' birthday. Boy's in August and two weeks later in September, for my girl's. While I have partly succeeded for my girl's (sponge cake portion only :S I'm still not sure what to use as fillings!) I am still trying to bake a chocolate cake that meets my boy's liking (first attempt turned out like a kueh...)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oxtail Stew

This is one recipe that I've been searching for the longest time. Basically, everyone at home loves beef stew and I have been looking for different recipes that will interest them.

The first beef stew was tomato based with lots of vegetables. I got really tired of that recipe fast. Then I learnt of a recipe from a friend's mom, and that one soon became a fast favourite of my girl. She doesn't eat much meat as a young child. But she loved beef stew, I suspect it's due to the soft and tender beef.

When I served them this dish tonight, they quickly endorsed it as a "keeper". As usual, mashed potatoes is a must have to accompany any beef (or oxtail) stew. I started cooking the stew since last night. I also added potatoes, carrots and turnips into the stew.

I got the recipe from Kitchen Capers. Thanks Gina!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mini Chocolate Muffins

I won't claim that I am proud of this batch of mini muffins, especially since it's for my girl's cca party (finally). The original item just won't cooperate and due to the late notice ... "mummy, the party is tomorrow (8 Aug), what are you baking for me?"

"Omigosh, tomorrow? That's like how much notice?" I thought. The poor girl didn't know as they kept postponing the party, which was also a farewell party for the teacher-in-charge. I was planning to try this recipe out that night as I was looking around for something interesting and found this on Happy Home Baking.

Muffins are supposedly "easiest to bake" but somehow, I still have not gotten the hang of doing it right. This is my archilles' heel and I tend to over-mix most of the time. I can't seem to be able to accept that small lumps of batter is FINE. While I had long stopped stirring/mixing, I could have inadvertently "stirred" the batter some more as I scooped the batter to till 40 mini cups.

My girl said they looked "normal" as, I guessed, she was hoping to dazzle her friends with some extraordinary items baked by "my mummy". ("So good, your mummy bakes everyday!") I felt so lousy for not being able to live up to her expectations. I read somewhere, that women tend to want to please everybody. As (working) mothers, we have even more people to please, don't we?

After I had finished packing these into a box for her, I realised that I had planned to make these. Rei's little girl had such a good time decorating them. When I told my girl about this, she said "then you should have!" My heart fell further and I knocked myself for not remembering them. I told her that I will make them for her next party.

That's why this post is so late ...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Musing about Granola

Is it muesli or granola? I thought granola came in the form of a bar, while they are called muesli when they are uncooked and not bound together. After keying in the question "difference between muesli and granola", there were several results and I went with this one.

Since this has been coated with maple syrup and honey and toasted, it fits the description of granola. I need to get a special gift, something which is home-made would be best. It's for my colleague, JT who will be quitting to play mom to her fast growing boys. Eldest will be going to army soon, number 2 will be sitting for A levels next year, and the youngest will be doing PSLE in 2 years, just like my boy. Guess if one has been experiencing fatigue at work, it's best to either take a break or just call it quits. My colleague is fantastic at what she does and she has been carrying out her craft with her heart and total commitment. So much so that she must have felt she had been short-changing her boys. Mothers will always feel guilty if their kids had to take a back-seat while they build their career. I'm glad JT is able to be there for her family although I'll miss having her area at work. She is so kind and easy to work with, she has never given me any hard time. There are very few like her at work.

I came across this wonderful granola recipe at Grace's Kitchen Corner. I bought mainly organic ingredients such as rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and raisins. I also added dried cranberries and apples, as well as chopped almonds and walnuts. I used the remaining maple and honey syrup I had in the fridge to bound these altogether. They were then toasted for a while.

I was surprised by the taste and texture. While muesli tends to be a little dry and somewhat "raw", this granola is crispy and a little sweet. My girl could not resist and tried some. Being a non-nut lover, she found it a little too "nutty" for her. I may try it with yogurt tomorrow as breakfast. I deliberately added lots of dried fruits, not only for texture but also for colour.

11 Aug: This morning's breakfast, granola with yogurt and blueberries :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake

I baked this pound cake so many weeks ago but didn't have time to post it. A very sweet cyber friend (you know who you are) shared this secret recipe with me, thanks! It's a very delicious and simple pound cake, and I love it.

Unfortunately cannot post the recipe, but you should be able to guess what went into baking it. Use only good quality stuff and your pound cake will be most delicious.

Happy National Day!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mochi Bread

Ok, I'm a little behind time for the mochi bread craze. I had the package for so long but didn't have the urge to bake it till recently. Even then, I didn't post immediately. This precious bag of pre-mix is from my korean colleague's wife. I had asked to piggy-back on their grocery order (done online) and since it was out of stock, Mrs H spared me a package. Kam-sa-ha-mida.

It's really really easy to put together. Just add one egg and 70 ml of milk to the flour, knead together to form dough. Divide the dough into 40g a piece (*I will make them smaller next time, probably 30g each) and roll into a ball. Bake at 180 deg C for 25 mins. You'll get these precious little balls with a chewy interior. Super yums! My daughter asked me to bake more! Guess I would have to try my luck at some Korean supermarket...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hong Zhao Ji

Thanks very much to Rei, she gave me a bottle of Red Glutinous Rice Wine and jar of wine lees. It's so kind of her to do so. She even posted a recipe on how to use these gems!

As we are not fans of chicken breast meat, I used 1 kg of chicken mid-wings instead. The dish is not decorated with cilantro nor scallions as we do not particularly like them. As a result, I tend to not remember to buy them.

I did not have the privilege of tasting this dish, 红糟鸡 after the birth of both my children, more than 10 years ago. My friend told me that her mom, who is Hock Chew, is looking for authentic Red Glutinous Rice Wine for her confinement in September. Of course, I'll be happy to hook her up with dear Rei and let them work out the details.

I tend to like stronger flavours in my food (重口味), so I followed the recipe exactly even though I had only 1 kg of chicken wings. As I had excess ginger juice left, almost 1.5 tbsp, I added it to the gravy. The gravy was a little bitter although it wasn't obvious. But we completely finished the portion I served tonight. I saved the rest in the freezer to be consumed in the weeks to come.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mango Cake

This is the latest craze among several bloggers, Easy Stir 'n Bake Cakes. Indeed these cakes are really easy to bake, tasty, and soft! I was worried that they were not baked. I baked 3 cakes between 5.30 pm and 9.30 pm tonight. No mixer required, just a whisk.

Of particular interest is this Mango Cake. Can you see the mango cubes? It makes the cake really really soft but I think I would just puree all the mango in future. I'm not sure if there's too much liquid in the batter, the cake looks a little like kuey. As I didn't have any mango essence, I used konnayku flavouring instead. I may just go and pick up a few more mangos to try this again.

Mango Cake

100g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
100g caster sugar (reduced by 10g, depending on mango's sweetness)
80 ml corn oil (I used 65g canola oil)
150g mango (diced)
50g mango puree
50g glazed cherries (chopped)
1/2 tsp mango essence (I used konnyaku flavouring)

1. Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) cake ring.
2. Combine plain flour, baking powder and soda in a mixing bowl.
3. Combine eggs, sugar and oil. Stir into flour mixture with diced mango, mango puree, cherries and mango essence until well blended.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven at 175 deg C for 35-40 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes and turning on to wire rack to cool.
5. Dust with icing sugar.

Source: Easy Stir 'n Bake Cakes by Kevin Chai

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Celebrating 100 Posts

Celebrating Yuri's Bake Journal's 100th post today! Hip Hip Hurray! I cannot believe that I've reached this milestone in under a year. I raked my brain to find something to signify this achievement. I was somewhat happy that I was too busy and worn out with fatigue to bake last week.

My girl requested that I bake something for her CCA party on Friday, she asked for a
chocolate pie. But I wasn't keen to make pies, and definitely not the same pie again. Then I remembered seeing something interesting, check it out here. Now, that's something worthwhile and pretty to mark post number 100.

HOWEVER, that was not to be. Firstly, I am unable to steam bake the cheesecake, as my microwave oven is too small. So, I thought perhaps I could buy a no-frills cheesecake from the supermarket! Then I found out that I could get a cheesecake from one of the Japanese restaurants. Eventually, I bought a frozen baked cheesecake from the supermarket instead as I couldn't wait to try. I found that even though the cheesecake was frozen, it wasn't easy to work with it. The cake went soft so quickly and the balls just won't be round. I emailed
Passionate about Baking to find out about her experience. She provided some suggestions, but I didn't want to take the chance of having my girl bring sub-standard stuff to the party.

Then she recommended making chocolate coated cornflakes. Bingo! I remembered this from Nigella Lawson,
Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes. I had book-marked this recipe for so long, in fact, I had once bought 4 Mars bars thinking I would try it out. But the folks at home ate all the Mars bars before I could do anything! I was also very distracted then with many other things, possibly chiffon cakes.

And so, this Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes became the star of the 100th post. My daughter was very enthusiastic and she decorated them. She was so happy to finally have the chance to make use of my collection of toppings. She was the only one who tasted them and she said they were delicious. Of course, they are delicious, I added more chocolates, which explains the deeper colour. The aroma of chocolate was mesmerising as well, perhaps that was why I didn't feel like tasting any. She wants me to make another batch so that she can bring some to share with her primary school friends on Saturday.