Monday, April 28, 2008

Swirl Ham Bun

I baked these yesterday, using Florence's Wonderfully Soft Bread recipe. I fell for it immediately, well who wouldn't fall for soft bread? Look at the tear above? My only complaint would be the lack of taste, I would probably add a piece of cheese next time. I have another 7 pieces of dough (60g each) in the freezer. I would probaly make cinnamon rolls with it.

The bun doesn't have much taste and I prefer the other recipe which I used for the an-pans. I ran out of cake flour so I used plain flour instead. Not sure if there is any significant effect with this change. Considering the amount of ingredients used, I expected a slightly tastier bun: condensed milk, low-fat milk (Meiji), milk powder on top of the 1 egg + 2 egg yolks! I think I may switch to using the Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe for sweet bun in future.

I promised one of my tasters that I would make a chocolate pie for him to share with the other tasters. As I had expected, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Z and gang, apologies k? Hope that the cheesecake that you guys are baking for J turns out to be a success. About the pie, MT2 will last for a while more, I will definitely bake it for you.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Improved Nasi Lemak?

Last week's baking class was full of "bonuses", not only did we bake 4 cakes, Gina brought some rempah to cook Sayar Lodeh, and even demonsrated her version of nasi lemak. I told her that I would try the nasi lemak when I get pandan leaves to bake the Pandan Chiffon Cake.

I blended the pandan leaves in the morning, and even reserved those used for baking the cake to cook the rice. I remembered how fragrant the nasi was last week and was really excited to make this a success. Then I would have more recipes when the need to entertain arises.

I tried to be a smart alec, and fried some Kee's chicken rice mix with garlic and added to the nasi. I thought there's no harm since my mom would normally add fried garlic, shallots and ginger whenever she cooked nasi lemak. While the rice was cooking, there was a weird smell which I won't classify as fragrant nor aromatic. I'm not sure if the coconut milk has gone rancid or was it that chicken rice mix didn't go with coconut milk? In any case, I had reduced the amount of coconut milk as well, though the rice had a nice tinge of pale green.

The most popular item turned out to be the fried chicken wings! The number complaint was that everything was too dry. Obviously, soup was absent tonight. I may have to learn how to make soto ayam to accompany this nasi lemak. As for the nasi lemak, one important lesson I learnt was that one cannot scrimp on ingredients, namely coconut milk. Another fault was that there wasn't enough liquid to cook the rice. Sometimes, cannot really too much on helpers to estimate water to cook rice. Well, this won't be the last time I'm cooking this anyway. Now I have to of ways to finish the remaining coconut milk.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

After missing half of last week's baking class, I couldn't wait to try baking the pandan chiffon cake. I remember tasting it in class and when told that there wasn't any coconut milk, I was amazed! The taste of pandan was so distinct and fragrant.

So, I went out early this morning to the market to get pandan leaves. As I had very limited time to bake, I told myself not to waste any time. But I had a shock when I mixed the dry ingredients with the egg yolks, oil and pandan juice. It came together as a paste! Omg, I had missed this part of the class and wasn't sure if this was to be expected. I tried to stir the paste hoping to "loosen" the paste. Instruction read: "mix till satin smooth" :(

I tried not to think about it but images of my first try at baking the banana cake came flooding to my mind. But this time, I am very sure the ingredients are regular and according to the recipe. Anyway, I think the egg whites reached stiff peaks. I made sure I took a photo for my shifus to comment. With a silent prayer, I went on to mix the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture. I could have deflated the egg white somewhat, and the batter became less pasty and more runny.

Finally, the batter was in the oven. I managed to fill 2 cupcake trays and one oval baking pan, which I collected last week. (This time I didn't take any pictures of my new toys.) As I had to rush out to pick my boy from tuition, I left the cakes to cool in the pan, on the table. I would probably not use these cupcake trays for chiffon cakes or sponge cakes anymore. There isn't enough fat and I'm not sure if I should grease the pans for chiffon cakes (I read that trays should NOT be greased when baking chiffon cakes).

Taste-wise, it's a far cry from the original :( Other than the absence of pandan taste (it was aromatic while baking, alright), the cake was dry. Perhaps I had over baked the oval tray. The first cupcake tray (roses) turned out alright, thought they were somewhat sticky (I baked it for 15 minutes). Perhaps 40 minutes is too long for the tiny oval tray. The final cupcake tray was so over baked, they were HARD (baking time 15 mins, cool in oven 10 mins).

Overall, I guess this is a really good learning experience. Perhaps to avoid getting the paste, I should perhaps mix the dry ingredients with eggs first, then add oil then pandan juice. Hopefully that would solve the mysterious of the "dry" cake as well. As Rei told me, must practise more.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Sorry, haven't been baking much lately. Initially, it was due to the large amount of stock from previous bakes still in the fridge. I handled everything over to mom this morning for her to savour. She is the best, she takes everything without complaints.

As I had to go for chiffon cake class today with Gina, I didn't bake anything. However, due to some silly mistake of mine, I was 1.5 hours late! Gosh! I had overlooked the timing of this class, and presumed it was the same as the previous class. Anyway, Gina tasked me to beat the egg white for the Green Tea sponge cake, and I believe I did a rather good job *pat on own back*. Sadly, the photo didn't turn out sharp so I cannot post it here. However, with this small success, I am itching to bake again! Perhaps tomorrow...

I was at Popular bookshop the other day, and came across a *book on bread making that comes with a VCD. I thought it would be a good idea to watch someone knead the dough. So I paid SGD30 for the set. The VCD is informational but the narration was quite monotonous. But it serves its purpose, I realised where I had gone wrong, or rather could have gone so wrong. I must thank God for all the successful breads and buns in the past few weeks. I probably should look for some reputable teachers to learn from ...

*Photo and title would be up soon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Condensed Milk Pound Cake

Yes, I was bored and been surfing around. Many interesting bakes caught my eye, such as Amanda's Steamed Banana Cake, kwf's Orange Bread, as well as Florence's No-bake Oreo Cheesecake. So many to bake, so little time... Besides, just as hubs said, "who's gonna eat all these... didn't you just bake?" (He was referring to the American Carrot Cake.)

Back to how I ended up making this choice, very simple, I don't have ripe bananas, don't have time to make bread, don't have cream cheese nor oreo. But I remember having a can of condensed milk which will expire soon (well, in July 08). I've always wanted to bake pound cakes anyway, so I jumped at this chance.

I was blog-hopping when I landed at Simply Anne's and saw the recipe of Condensed Milk Pound Cake. I was curious to see what texture this cake would be as this would probably be the first cake recipe featuring condensed milk. I cannot remember why I bought the condensed milk in the first place.

The only "regret" I have is not spending $5.70 for a block of Lurpak unsalted butter. Perhaps a block of SGS butter would do, or even the block of Buttercup butter. (I used Anchor unsalted butter.) That's the only complaint I have about the cake, it was a little bland, although it gives off a very pleasant aroma of vanilla. I had used Bake King's vanilla essence, cannot imagine if I had used better quality vanilla.

On the whole, the cake is quite soft and moist and not too sweet. I could have over-baked it a bit or the oven temperature was a little high. I hope the cake will stay good tomorrow, but I was planning to put it in the fridge or freezer, just like the usual Sara Lee pound cake. One other thing I like about this recipe is the simplicity. I used the mixer from begining to the end, and there wasn't much to wash as well once you've figured out how to "cut corners" :P

Sunday, April 13, 2008

American Carrot Cake

I didn't think I would be baking this cake, I was never really a fan of it anyway. I had tasted a few really good American Carrot Cake in the past and imagined that it would be a tough cake to bake.

I came across a thread on KC with the recipe from Aunty Yochana. I know from experience that Aunty Yochana's recipes are always winners, though some can be challenging. I've had my share of not so successful bakes, so with a prayer in my heart, I proceeded with this attempt.

Recipe called for eggs to be beaten with sugar till creamy. Now, I was wondering when it would be creamy enough :P My old gf told me her carrot cake recipe did not require the use of a cake mixer. I had done some research on the internet and narrowed down my choices to 3 recipes, with Aunty Yochana's right on top. Both the other 2 did not require any beating. I felt more secure with beating of eggs. The only thing I did differently was leaving out the vanilla essence and added 1 tsp of ground nutmeg. I gave the walnuts a miss and added crushed pineapples.

It's also the first time I used the mixer up to mix in the flour. I used a pair of chopsticks to stir in the carrots, crushed pineapples and raisins. I am sure I can improve on this for my next attempt. The raisins were all at the bottom of the pan and some cupcakes did not have any raisins.

I'm convinced that recipes that use cinnamon are most aromatic in the oven. With nutmeg, that becomes even more aromatic. The fragrance of the spices kept me near the kitchen!

Then it was time to taste it. To be honest, I didn't wait for it to be cooled. When I bit it, it was still warm and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg made the cake so alluring. The cake is sooooh light! I can't say that it is close to the real thing, but it is a lighter version. I honestly can't put my finger to what is lacking but I love this version! I like the lightness of the cake, and in future, I would use diced pineapples instead of crushed pineapples. On the whole, this recipe is a keeper! I may also use brown sugar for my next attempt though, the cake is a little, erm, light (in colour, that is).

15 April: Wow, this recipe is an absolute winner! I've even received compliment about it's authenticity by a true blue US citizen. The cake was also given an almost "two-thumbs-up" rating. I am very happy with this cake, and it would be a good choice as a gift. Besides, I shall be experimenting with soy milk and may be even soy flour in an attempt to make it a healthier choice :D

Sweet Corn Bread... Sticky!

It was really sticky, no matter what I did, oil or flour didn't help. Perhaps I cannot simply use the breadmaker for ANY recipe. I first saw this recipe on KC but eventually used the recipe by Alan Ooi (found out that Baking Mum aka Hugbear has it posted as well).

My original plan was to make buns instead of a loaf. However, after wrestling with the dough for almost 30 minutes, I was ready to surrender. I had to roll the dough up and leave it to proof. I had used the breadmaker's dough function.

After that, I went to prepare dinner and forgot all about the bread! When I saw the dough again, I was shocked! While I had a flat loaf last night, I was shocked by how much today's dough rose. Ok, it wasn't all that much but was a nice sight to behold. I quickly pre-heated the oven, and sent the dough to bake. Not much aroma to speak of, just smelled like bread. Or perhaps dinner was more aromatic. As I was busy with the American Carrot Cake, I didn't slice the bread till much later. It felt soft, but I didn't taste it as I was too full from dinner.

Here's a closer look at the texture:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My First Whole Wheat Loaf

Horrors! It doesn't look like a loaf, does it? Omg, I certainly hope it's a case of using too big a pan and nothing else. I had followed Cocoa's recipe exactly, except that I used 100g of yogurt (Swiss Premium of course) and 100 ml of Meiji full-cream milk.

In terms of method, I followed closely to Cocoa's as well. Right up to the first proof stage (when the dough doubled, but I didn't poke the dough to test). All along, I wasn't sure if it was right as there wasn't any plain flour or bread flour. So I wondered about gluten and the structure and became worried when the dough still looked somewhat wet and sticky. I quickly removed it from the breadmaker, poured some plain flour and started to knead it (well, almost). Then I tried to roll the dough into one swiss roll. After that, I left it to proof in the fridge as I had to go out to get dinner.

When I checked the dough after dinner, it had nicely risen to almost 80% the height of the loaf pan. So I let it come down to room temperature, preheated the oven and put the pan to bake. I could smell the whole wheat fragrance all the way from the room. But when I went to take a look, my heart sank. The loaf was exactly the same height as before. This is the first time that a bread didn't rise. I didn't think that would be possible due to the yeast :(

Looks like the two attempts in slowing down the proofing didn't yield favourable results, although yesterday's cinnamon rolls wasn't that bad. Breads need a lot of patience and time, no short-cuts huh?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

You won't believe the nightmare I went through to bake this. I made the dough last night and left it in the fridge, chiller to be exact. I figured there wasn't enough time to bake it last night as I was tired from a whole day's course. After the dough cycle was complete, I took the dough out, applied some oil on the surface and wrapped it with cling wrap. I left it in a disposable box and placed it in the chiller.

To my horror, when I took it out of the fridge tonight, the dough had grown to double it's size last night! I was at a loss, didn't know what to do as Rei had told me that extended proofing may cause damage to the bread's structure, resulting in a hard bread. I thought what did I have to lose anyway, why not just bake it.

So I quickly prepared the filling and got on with rolling the dough. Somehow, I thought the dough wasn't thin enough so I kept rolling and rolling. Finally, satisfied with the thickness, I brushed melted butter and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on the surface. As I was afraid that it would be too sweet, I did not use the entire amount that I had prepared. Then I added the chocolate chips and began (swiss-) rolling the dough. After that, I sliced the dough and added even more chocolate chips. I didn't even wait for them to proof any more, preheated the oven and baked them for 25 minutes.

The smell of the cinnamon rolls was so alluring and sweet. The air was filled with the aroma of cinnamon. Thankfully, the rolls browned nicely. Of course, presentation has to be improved. Perhaps if the rolls were allowed to proof a second time, they would rise properly. This won't be the last time I'm making these anyway. Next time I would increase the amount of cinnamon and of course, let the bread go the natural course.

Oh, by the way, as of today I am a proud graduate of ...

This below is just a glimpse of magic, fun and creativity that went on for past 2 wonderful days ...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Butter Marble Cake

Hmm, I can still smell the aroma of the cake while it is cooling on the rack. I have some baking chocolate due to expire at the end of April so I had to bake something chocolate. I looked around and finally decided on the butter marble cake which Gina shared in the last baking class.

I am so proud of this result, it's been quite a while since I last baked a loaf. The aroma during baking was simply heavenly. I wonder if it's the butter (I used Anchor salted butter), the taste was not "buttery". But it's still quite tasty, overall. I'm happy with the result.

I was surprised that I still had the energy to bake after attending a full-day's course. Must be magic...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cream Cheese Loaf

As there wasn't time to bake last week, I didn't make any bread for my parents. I only gave them half of the banana quick bread I made last week.

Since we didn't go out this afternoon, I devoted my time to this baking "marathon" of sorts. I first started the breadmaker to make the dough for the an-pans, then went to bake the chocolate cream cheese cake and finished off with this cream cheese loaf in my brand new pullman pan.

I'm not sure if I had done everything right. The bread didn't reach the top of the pan, hence the top was a litted rounded and soft. I had forgotten to break the dough into 3 parts, do the swiss roll, before putting it into the pan for second proofing. I rolled it into one big swiss roll after punching out the air. I waited and waited for it to raise to the top, and when it was about 80% the height of the pan, I got ready to bake it. I intend to bake another one tomorrow to see if breaking the dough into 3 parts would make a lot of difference. I was too full to taste the bread but mom told me the last time that the bread was delicious. Even my brother was surprised that I had baked that :)

My First An-Pan

This is my all time favourite bun, an-pan (bread with red bean paste). I remember that this was one of the earliest "fancy" bans I tried. If I'm not wrong, it was probably from Yaohan at Plaza Singapura. My mom used to bring my brother and I there when we were young. I remember that this was one ban I would pick. Now I can bake my own, I'm a proud girl.

I had originally wanted to use this Hokkaido Milk Loaf recipe, but I could not find any Bulla thickened cream at the Shopnsave near my place. (That's the touble when supermarkets try to make consumers stay loyal to them. Shopnsave issues stickers for purchases above $15, and for every 12 stickers collected within a month, they would give consumers a voucher for $9 off. Since I started taking MRT home on my own instead of waiting for hubs, I've been shopping at Shopnsave.) I had seen it at Carrefour yesterday, but thought I could get it on the way home.

Without the all important heavy cream, I went through my collection of to-try recipes. I had bookmarked Florence's Black Sesame Bun as reference. If only we have such cute bake stuff here, check out her black sesame fillings! I used the sweet bun recipe and it yielded exactly the same number of buns for me, 14.

I had overbaked the first batch, the round ones. The paper cup is also stuck at the bottom, perhaps I should have brushed the paper cups with oil before placing the dough in. These six buns turned out hard and dry, wonder if baking them before eating would make any difference. The second batch was placed in a loaf pan. Having learned my mistake, I reduced baking time and the buns turned out super soft to touch! It is really really soft when I bit into it, but I'm not sure why there is a hole between the bun and the red been paste. However, I'm not too worried about that as it happens to those commercially available buns as well.

I had cheated this time, I didn't make the Tsubushian (潰し餡, the red beans are mashed after boiling). I bought two packets from Daiso yesterday. I really like the location of my office now. I can go to PH at Bencoolen, Sun Lik at Seah Street or Daiso at Plaza Singapura. I should probably learn to make the paste on my own. Hubs tasted it, said that it's no different from the commercial ones. To him, convenience is top priority. I am not sure if it is cheaper to make our own an-pans although I know what ingredients I had used, NO PRESERVATIVES. But I like the satisfaction of making what I enjoy eating, too.

7 April: An-pans are yummy and soft especially after being toasted for a mere 2-3 minutes. Even the round ones are soft. Recipe is a keeper though I find the tsubushian a little on the sweet side...

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake

I came across this recipe when visiting Peony's blog, and remembered I had one block of Philly cream cheese in the fridge. I like the way the cake looked and since my boy specifically chose this cake over others, I had to bake it.

While it was baking, the aroma of chocolate was really alluring. I was then helping my boy with his chinese comprehension. We could hardly concentrate on the story at hand (the cycle of water: from liquid to gas to solid back to liquid, the whole works)

As I was multi-tasking when the oven beeped (ie, cake was ready), I could not remove the pan from the oven as my hands were covered with dough and flour. When I finally unmoulded it, I realised that I had not laid enough chocolate batter on the bottom. Parts of it actually broke.

Finally the taste test, I found the cake a little dry. Peony mentioned in her notes that she had reduced butter but I didn't notice it. I should have used more butter as we found the cake a little dry and lacking in taste. I had to buy chocolate ice-cream (my kid's fave brand and flavour) to go with it. Otherwise, the cake will still be around after many days.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'm Back!

I was at home to settle some domestic issue today. As I had some time on hand, I heeded advise from kwf and happy home baking to make the yogurt bread again.

I remember this bread very well as it was my first attempt, baking the bread out of the breadmaker. It was very tasty and soft. Today I used a different flavour, peach flavoured yogurt and raisins. However, this time, it is not quite as tasty, but the buns are soft. You can see how soft it is, see the "dent" I caused when I used the spatula to lift the bread out of the pan.

Somehow this thought kept coming up: can bread be over-proven? As I had to bring my boy down to wait for his school bus, I kept thinking if the extra time given to second proofing would make any difference to the bread evenutally. I went back and baked them quickly and boy, dough in both pans rose beautifully.

Oh, now I recall what I did differently today. I didn't add any salt as I used salted butter. Could that be the difference? While today's bread was tasty, it wasn't as fragrant. I read the breadmaker's manual, that salt balances the flavour of bread, it is needed for crust colour. It also advises users not to reduce the amount of salt at will as baking may suffer. I also added more sugar today, 1.75 tsp instead of 1.5 tsp. Just surprised that it didn't turn out any sweeter :P

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Egg White Cream Cheese Cupcake

This is what I baked tonight, after a weekend of mood-less-ness :P Perhaps the weekend was too action packed, which resulted in fatigue and so lack of mood to bake. I told myself, weekend was the only time to play with the pullman pan, but lazy bones just won't get moving. No matter how I pushed myself, gosh!

As usual, seeing everybody's blog and visiting Kitchen Capers' forum got me all charged up again. Then I remembered reading about aunty yochana's egg white cream cheese cupcakes, and thought I should give it a shot, and I did tonight.

I realised it was a mistake when I put the batter into a disposable loaf pan. Memories of a certain failure came flashing to my mind... I was worried that it would turn out the same way but my boy specifically said he didn't like cupcakes. Perhaps I should have transferred the batter into cups but what's done cannot be undone. I did not put shredded cheese on top but anyway, the top was crumpled. Luckily, I overturned them to cool them. That helped to maintain the cupcakes' height. It helped to keep the loaf "tall" but after unmoulding, it flopped. I was worse when I cut it, it was kueh like. Totally like what happened to the cotton sponge cake. The cupcakes, though, didn't fall. It was rather soft too.

Although the bake didn't turn out well tonight, it tasted quite good and light. Perhaps I would revisit this recipe again after attending Gina's chiffon class later this month. Oh, I did beat the egg whites till stiff peak, I dipped the mixer in and lifted it for a look, just to be sure. I must have over-mixed the chesse mixutre, butter and flour.