Saturday 31 December 2011

Goodbye was a good year!

We've come to the end of 2011. It feels like we just welcomed it.... It has been a good year for me. I started blogging this year. That's a good thing because it gave me the incentive to bake more often than usual. It's also an avenue for me to share my recipes. I've also made new friends although we've never met. Starting  this blog also leads to some surprises. Photography is now my new hobby. I would never have thought that I would go beyond snapping pictures randomly. Now I've bought some books on photography &  attended a workshop too. Of course,  I now own a dslr camera! Thanks to my husband. You are so sweet......

I really would like to write more but I  have to go. My husband & the kids are watching a show at Vivo while I'll be attending a complimentary workshop on how to use my camera. I'm excited!

So my final recipe for the year is Cranberry Snowdrift Bars. I saw this on Jane's blog & bookmarked it since then. Finally I managed to bake it. There are three layers, the rich crust, the tart cranberry filling & the snowy meringue. These bars are really delicious. The only change I would make the next time I bake it is I would reduce the filling to, perhaps, 3/4 or 1/2 cup. I thought the filling was too thick. One more thing, the baking temperature & time below should only be a guide. You really need to check now & then. With my oven, I only needed to bake for about 20 minutes for each layer.

Before I go, I would like to wish all readers a Happy New Year! May the year 2012 be a blast for all of us!

 Cranberry Snowdrift Bars
Recipe from Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal

1 and 1/4 cups / 170g all purpose (plain) flour
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup / 125g of unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup / 50g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 deg F / 180deg C. Coat an 8" x 8" square pan with vegetable spray.Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. In the large bowl of your mixer, on medium-high speed, beat the butter for a few minutes, until it's creamy. Gradually add in the sugar, beating now on high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy; this may take several minutes. Add in the vanilla. In thirds, pour in the dry ingredients gradually, beating just until blended.
Pat the crust firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, or in the freezer for about 15 minutes, before baking.

Bake until dry to the touch and light golden brown, with darker golden areas around the edges--about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack for five minutes, then spread the cranberry sauce over it. Don't turn off the oven when you take the pan out.

1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (homemade or canned; needs to be thick and not watery)

(I cooked the cranberry sauce using the recipe from below.)
12 ounces cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice (I used only 1/4 cup since I need a thick sauce.)

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Continue cooking until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken further as it cools.

whites from 2 large eggs (about 2 oz. of egg whites, total; whites at room temperature whip up best)
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup / 100g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a smaller mixer bowl, using the whip attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Then, gradually add in the sugar, beating on high until stiff--but not dry--peaks form. Add in the vanilla.

Spread the meringue evenly over the cranberry filling, using the back of a spoon to push it out to the edges. Make some cute swirls in the top of the meringue.

Put the pan back into the oven, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the meringue is just very lightly browned.
Cool the bars, in their pan, on a cooling rack.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Brownie Biscotti

Just three more days to 2012 & five more days to the new school term! I can't imagine the chaos on Tuesday as everybody in my house will be leaving the house in the morning. Amir has to leave the house at 6.15  to catch a bus to his new school. In the past, he woke up at 6.15 for school! And for the first time, Maisur will be going to school in the morning. So I can imagine myself raising my voice like a tarzan next week!

I made Brownie Biscotti before we left for our annual trip to Malaysia. This is my first time baking this crispy Italian favourite. This dry & crispy biscuit is perfect when dunk in any hot beverage. I like it with my white coffee. The chocolate flavour is to die for. Must be the Varlhona cocoa!

Brownie Biscotti

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, Complete Book of Baking.

1/3 cup (90g) butter (no substitute)
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Varlhona cocoa powder.)
1 & 3/4 cups (230g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (80g) miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup (30g) walnuts, finely chopped

For glazing:
1 egg yolk (beaten)
1 tbsp milk or water

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until softened. Add in sugar & continue beating until well blended.
  2. Add egg & vanilla & beat until well combined.
  3. Stir in flour & cocoa powder.
  4. Finally, stir in walnuts & chocolate pieces.
  5. Divide dough into 2 portions.
  6. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (I line cookie sheet with baking paper.). Shape each portion into a 9x2x1-inch loaf. Place the loaves about 4 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. 
  7. In a small bowl stir together the egg yolk & milk. Brush mixture over loaves.
  8. Bake in a 190 deg C (375 deg F) for 25 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
  9. Cut, use a serrated knife, each loaf diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices, cut side down, on cookie sheet.Bake in a 190 deg C for 10-15 minutes. 
  10. Turn slices over. Bake 10-15 minutes more or until dry & crisp. Remove from cookie sheet & cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Cinnamon Rolls again......

            Many of my friends & relatives are out of the country for their holidays. In fact, I can sense many Singapore residents are out of the country...... the malls are unusually less crowded & the peak-hour traffic is a breeze to drive through. My family & I are still stuck here....My children's 3 different school holiday schedules plus my husband's work schedule pose a challenge to plan a family holiday. We are still waiting for Maliah, my second daughter, to be done with her school camp which ends tomorrow. Thursday will be Amir's reporting day to his new school. So we can only leave the country on Friday........

           In the meantime, the boys are happy at home on the computer & Amirah multitasking between using the computer & watching the television. For me, besides the daily errands, I'm busy playing with my latest toy, my first SLR camera......hehe... I must say I'm overwhelmed! Can't wait to attend the complimentary workshop next week.!
          I also baked cinnamon rolls again, my third time this school holidays. This time, I decided to use the dough recipe posted by Jane of  Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal. I followed the recipe very closely as far as the ingrediets are concerned but I mixed them  using my usual method of mixing bread dough. The dough is very easy to handle, thus making the rolling part less a challenge. However I still keep the roll-out dough in the freezer for a while, considering the hot & humid weather here in Singapore. The cinnamaon rolls are very soft & delicious. I'm sure I'll be using this recipe again!

Cinnamon Rolls
makes one 9x13 or two 8x8 inch pans
(Recipe from  Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal)
3 and 3/4 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached, Gold Medal.)
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, unsalted (I used salted.)
1 egg, large
1 tsp salt (I reduced to 1/2tsp.)

(You may adjust quantity accordingly..)
4 tbsp butter (softened)
2 tsp cinnamon (I sprinkled generously directy from the container.)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

  1. Combine flour, yeast & sugar in a mixing bowl & mix to combine.
  2. Add water, milk & vanilla & mix using a dough hook until combine for about 3 mins. (I'm using  Kenwood cake mixer, so I always use speed no 3 for mixing bread dough, as advised by the service centre.)
  3. Add butter & keep mixing for another minute.
  4. Add salt & mix for another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove dough and mould it into a round dough. Place it in a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap. Leave to prove for about 45-60 minutes.
  6. Remove dough from bowl & punch it to remove air. Divide into 2 portions. Leave them to rest for about 10 minutes.
  7. Then roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thick.
  8. Place the rolled-out dough on a pan lined with silicone or grease paper. Then place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This way, it's easier to roll up and cut the dough. Continue with second portion. Then remove first dough from the freezer and the pan. Roll out the dough again into a rectangle of about  30 x 20cm (12 x 8 inches). 
  9. Spread soft butter evenly on rolled-out dough. Sprinkle  cinnamon powder generously and evenly, followed by dark brown sugar.
  10. Roll up the dough tightly and pinch the edge. Then cut the log into 9 equal parts & arrange them on a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) pan lined with grease or silicone paper. Continue with second portion. Leave the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. Bake at 180 deg C for about 35 minutes.
  12. Remove rolls from pans & leave to cool. Spread frosting evenly.
    Cream Cheese Frosting:
    125g cream cheese
    35g butter
    70g powdered sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla essence
    Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat  until smooth & creamy. Spread evenly onto the warm cinnamon rolls.

    Monday 12 December 2011

    Japanese Soft Cotton Cheesecake

               The soft & moist texture of the sponge cake used for my Strawberry Shortcake I made two weeks ago reminded me of the cotton cheesecake which I've not baked for sometime. Yesterday, I managed to bake it in the morning. 

                The cake is super delicious! Unlike the regular cheesecake, this cake is spongy, moist & tastes very light. Preparing it is quite similar to preparing chiffon cake. Like the regular cheesecake, it is baked using the water bath method. I thought it would taste better if eaten with chocolate ganache & strawberry. I was right! The rich ganache & fresh strawberry provide a good balance!

    Japanese Soft Cotton Cheesecake
    Adapted from Diana's Desserts

    250g/9 oz. cream cheese
    50g/2 oz. butter
    100 ml/3 fluid oz. fresh milk

    6 egg yolks
    1 tbsp. lemon juice
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 tsp vanilla paste (I added.)
    60g/2 oz. cake flour /superfine flour (sifted)
    20g/1 oz. cornflour (cornstarch)

    140g/5 oz. fine granulated sugar
    6 egg whites
    1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

    1. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. (I used a hand whisk to stir.) Cool the mixture. 
    2. Add in egg yolks, lemon juice & vanilla to the cream cheese mixture & mix well. 
    3. Fold in flour. Set aside.
    4. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. 
    5. Fold in the egg white mixture into the cheese mixture.   
    6. Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper. Wrap bottom of pan with aluminium foil to prevent water from seeping into the pan.
    7. Pour cake batter into pan &  bake in a water bath for 1 hour 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F). (I baked for 30 minutes in my small oven.)
    8. Remove pan from oven & leave to cool slightly for about 10 minutes.
    9. Remove cake from pan & leave to cool completely or store in fridge.
    10. To serve, slice cake & pour ganache over & serve with sliced fresh strawberry.
    Makes 1 (8-inch) cheesecake.

    Chocolate Ganache 
    Source: Creative Making of Cakes by Alex Goh.

    500g chocolate
    270ml whipping cream
    20g butter

               Melt chocolate over double boiler. Cook whipping cream till boiling. Pour into chocolate & mix till well blended. Add butter & mix till well combined.

    Thursday 8 December 2011

    Another good time......

               Had another girlfriends fun time yesterday afternoon....... My colleagues & I went out for a lunch treat for 2 colleagues who are leaving for another school. We met at the Singapore's latest shopping mall, Changi City Mall & ate at Manhattan Fish Market. I didn't realise the mall was being built until somebody asked me if  I had checked out the place. It's quite big & I think an expansion of the mall is underway..... need to confirm that. There are many food outlets, so that's good news for workers around the area. Anyway, we had a good time. The food was good & we had a good bargain too since we made use of the discount coupons specially issued for that particular outlet. Of course, we talked & laughed a lot. This time, we talked a lot about workplace politics......hey, what's new.....

              On Tuesday, I made Cinnamon Buns, my family's favourite. I started preparing the night before, so before lunch, the buns were ready for the boys to eat. Between the two boys, they finished 7 pieces within a few hours! I had to stop them from eating more or they would be too full to eat dinner.

              This time, I used the recipe that uses Tangzhong. If you are not aware of this method of preparing bread, you may refer to  Do What I Like for Florence's explanation. I doubled up the recipe to make 2 pans. 1 is just not enough for my family. In fact I have to make more soon for my siblings!

    My family likes it with cream cheese frosting. Yummy!!

    Cinnamon Buns 

    (recipe by Florence of Do What I LikeMakes 1 8x8 inch baking pan.)

    50g bread flour
    250ml water

    1. Mix flour in water to form a smooth mixture. (I used a hand whisk.) Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking. Continue stirring until the mixture becomes thick.
    2. Once some 'lines' appear in the mixture for every stir  made with the spoon, remove from heat.
    3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. Chill in fridge for several hours. (I chill it overnight.) The tangzhong is ready to be used.
    Note: When you are ready to use the tangzhong, just weigh the amount required & let it rest in room temperature for a while before adding to other ingredients. The tangzhong can be stored up to a few days as long as it doesn't turn grey. If so, discard and cook some more.)

    210g bread flour
    50g cake flour
    5g yeast (I used instant yeast.)
    50g sugar
    2 tbsp milk powder (I added.)
    1 egg + water = 110g
    75g Tangzhong
    30g butter
    ½ tsp salt

    15g butter (softened)
    30g brown sugar
    100g mixed dried fruits or raisins (I didn't use.)
    cinnamon powder (Preferably, use freshly ground powder instead of store-bought. It's really worth it! Refer here on how I prepare my cinnnamon powder.)

    1. Combine flour, milk powder, yeast & sugar in a mixing bowl & mix to combine.
    2. Add water & tangzhong & mix using a dough hook until combine for about 3 mins. (I'm using  Kenwood cake mixer, so I always use speed no 3 for mixing bread dough, as advised by the service centre.)
    3. Add butter & keep mixing for another minute.
    4. Add salt & mix for another 5 minutes.
    5. Remove the dough and mould it into a round dough. Place it in a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap. Leave to prove for about 45-60 minutes.
    6. Remove dough from bowl & punch it to remove air. Leave it to rest for about 10 minutes.
    7. Then roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thick.
    8. Place the rolled-out dough on a pan lined with silicone or grease paper. Then place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This way, it's easier to roll up and cut the dough. Remove from the freezer and the pan. Roll out the dough again into a rectangle of about  30 x 20cm (12 x 8 inches). 
    9. Spread soft butter evenly on rolled-out dough. Sprinkle  cinnamon powder generously and evenly, followed by dark brown sugar.
    10. Roll up the dough tightly and pinch the edge. Then cut the log into 9 equal parts & arrange them on a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) pan lined with grease or silicone paper.
    11. Leave the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes.
    12. Bake at 180 deg C for about 35 minutes.

    Wednesday 7 December 2011

    Feeling good..........

               I always feel good after a good work-out at the gym. The whole body  feels really energised! Must be the warm muscles & the blood pumping! Very often, the challenge is to make the time to go to the gym & ignore the excuses not to head there. It always feels good too after spending time with friends & doing  what we love doing; talking, laughing, eating & baking! That's what I did with my friends, Salina & Nura, last week. We talked, laughed, ate, baked & ate again!

              After tasting my Lapis Prune Ice-cream recently, Salina requested that I conduct a lapis- making training session. So  last week, we met at my place. Nura also brought her daughter & 2 nieces along. We made 2 types of lapis, Lapis Legit Betawi & Lapis Strawberry Ice-cream.

    The ladies made these.....not bad.......:)
                As you can see, my trainees, all 5 of them, did a good job! Although it was their first time, the cake turned out very presentable. They liked eating them too! I had to cut the cake when it was still hot because the girls couldn't wait to taste them as the smell was just so irresistible! It was a day well spent!

    The trainees........baking with a smile....
              The Lapis Legit Betawi recipe is by Wannah Alshatrie, my weekend baking class instructor & the Lapis Strawberry Ice-cream recipe is by Aini Salim.

    Lapis Lengit Betawi
    Recipe by Wannah Alshatrie.
    450g butter

    20 egg yolk (use large eggs)
    8 egg white
    300 castor sugar

    150g cake flour (sifted with baking powder)
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp spekok powder
    20g ground almond

    1. Preheat oven at 160 deg C. Use top heat only.
    2. Cream butter until white & creamy.
    3. If using a big cake mixer, combine eggs & sugar in a clean & dry mixing bowl & beat until thick & fluffy. If using a hand-held whisk,  beat egg white in a dry & clean mixing bowl until soft peak. Then add sugar gradually & beat until stiff peak. Then add egg yolk one at a time. Continue mixing until mixture becomes thick & fluffy.
    4. Add butter & mix thoroughly. (I used a hand whisk.)
    5. Fold in flour,baking powder & spekok powder. Mix gently but thoroughly.
    6. Pour 2 ladles of batter into a 10x7 lined & greased baking pan (Grease & line bottom of pan only). Grill for about 1-2 minutes till cook & top turns golden brown.  (You may need to adjust the temperature of your oven such that the layer will be cooked in about 2 minutes) .Remove baking pan from oven. Press the top of cake gently with a lapis presser (or flat glass) to pop up any bubbles & produce a neat lapis.
    7. Repeat step 6 until finished.
    NB: Once you are done with mixing batter (step 5), do not stir it anymore. Just scoop the top part of batter when layering the cake. For this recipe, you'll notice watery part of batter at the bottom of bowl. Discard this part. Don't use it.

    Tuesday 29 November 2011

    Fruit Pastry Cupcake

              I just love the look & taste of this cake. It looks pretty & the orange-flavour cake is just so irresistible. For sure this is not going to be the last time I'm baking it. I understand that it was very popular among bloggers at  one time, long before I was a blogger. Among those who've tried baking it include Baking MumHappy Home Baking  & Small Small Baker.  

              Instead of baking a whole cake, I've used this recipe to bake my Fruit Pastry Cupcakes. It makes about 6 large cupcakes.

    I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #13: Enjoy Cupcakes! (November 2011) hosted by Min's Blog.

    Fruit Pastry Cupcake
    500g fruits (apricots, peaches, pears, cherries, plums, orange, pineapple, or any other fruit not too juicy) - I used canned peaches, fresh blueberries & strawberries.
    2 tbsp sugar

    100g butter, soften at room temperature
    200g castor sugar
    50g sour cream
    3 eggs
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1 tsp lemon or orange zest (I used orange.)
    210g plain flour (sifted together with baking powder.)
    1 tsp baking powder

    1. Wash,  drain & cut (chunks or slices, as desired) fruits. Sprinkle with sugar, toss & set aside.
    2. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
    3. Cream butter, sugar and sour cream till light and fluffy.
    4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, & beat till incorporated in the batter. (If the mixture appears curdled, add a spoon of the flour.)
    5. Add vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix to combine.
    6. Fold in flour & baking powder & mix till smooth.
    7. Pour batter into cupcake liner & smooth out the top with a spatula.
    8. Arrange fruits on top. Don’t press the fruits too hard into the batter. Decorate the fruits as desired.
    9. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
    10. Remove cupcake pans from oven. Leave cakes to cool in the pans for about 5-10 mins. Remove cakes from pans & transfer to wire rack & leave to cool completely. Dust cakes with some icing sugar if desired.

    Monday 28 November 2011

    Well done & Happy birthday!

               How time flies. It's already the second week of the school holidays. Have I done what I've planned to do? A bit, but I can do better! Last week was an eventful week, though. The Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) results were released! All my pupils cleared their papers...phew! My son, Amir, did well too!
            It's been a few years since I witnessed the release of the PSLE results. That afternoon, my son's principal started out by  addressing the sea of anxious parents, tense children & stony-faced teachers in the school hall. He started out with reporting the performance of the school. Not bad at all......everything is above the national level! Then the announcement of the highest score for the school, which was flashed on the screen. Waah........And then, when the name of the holder of that most-envied number was flashed up, she jumped & jumped & jumped for joy! I'm referring to the girl's mother. She ran to her daughter & hugged the cool-looking but clearly elated girl. And then the eyes turned teary. Those were mine. Haay.........when will I stop being so emotional....? It's not even my child! I guess I'm just so happy for the girl & her mother even if she's not mine. It's all right...I still have one more chance. Perhaps in three years time, I'll be able to shed my tears of joy because my son is the top student in the school. Insyaallah....
               Then the principal started reading out from the screen the names of other high scorers. Amir's not one of them. Hmm..... By then, there was some excitement as the standing parents tiptoed while those sitting down, parents & pupils, raised their heads to check the names on the list. At that point, I wished the boss could just wrap up quickly as I was becoming more anxious. I was sure the rest of us was too...
             When Amir received his result slip from his teacher & took a peek at it,  I could see a wide-eyed excitement on his face. And finally, it was my turn to take a look. Phew..... quite a decent number... What a relief! And that's the end of the first chapter. The next chapter will be the secondary school posting results. That will be in 3 week's time....Hopefully, Amir will get his first choice. Otherwise, the second choice is a pretty decent school too.
              On a lighter note, I baked the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake on Saturday as it was Amirah's 20th birthday. Happy birthday Mira!   

               Recently, I saw this cake on Rima's blog. It looked so delicious that I just have to try it. What better time to bake this..... It's very delicious! The sponge cake is moist & soft & the frosting tastes like vanilla ice-cream. Yummy......

    Japanese Strawberry Shortcake 
    Inspired by Rima.
    Cotton cake recipe by Ricke Indriani.
    Stabilised whipping cream recipe by Fujimama.

    Cotton Cake
    145g low protein flour (cake flour)
    15g corn flour
    1 egg
    5 egg yolks - whisk lightly with folk
    150g unsalted butter
    65g fresh milk
    1/2 tsp vanilla paste (I added.)

    5 egg white
    100g castor sugar
    1/4 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)

    1. Preheat oven 160 deg C. Grease & line a 7 or 8 " baking pan. Wrap bottom of baking pan with aluminium.
    2. Heat butter & milk till warm. Do not let it boil. Switch off heat & add in sifted flour & cornflour, mix using wooden spatula.
    3. Transfer to a bigger bowl & add in eggs. Continue to mix till smooth.
    4. In another bowl, whisk egg white till frothy. Add in salt & sugar in 3 additions. Whisk till soft peak.
    5. Pour 1/3 egg white mixture into egg/buttter mixture. Fold in gently. Pour in the rest & continue to mix gently ( Same manner as when baking chiffon cake.).
    6. Pour batter into baking pan & bake it using au bain marie method for about 45 minutes.
    Stabilised whipped cream
    2 tsp gelatin powder
    8 tsp cold water
    2 cup whipping cream, cold
    1/2 cup icing sugar
    1tsp vanilla

    1. Chill mixing bowl & beaters in the freezer for 10 minutes.
    2. Put cold water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over surface of water & let stand for 5 minutes. 
    3. Place saucepan over low heat & stir constantly with a wooden spoon just until gelatin dissolves. Remove saucepan from heat & cool to room temperature.
    4. Remove mixing bowl & beaters from freezer.  Combine whipping cream, sugar & vanilla in  the cold mixing bowl & whip until slightly thickened. Gradually pour gelatin into whipped cream mixture, beating slowly. Then whip mixture at high speed untill slightly stiff.
    Simple sugar syrup
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup water

    1. In a medium saucepan combine sugar & water. Bring water to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
    2. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
    250g punnet strawberries

    1. Reserve a handful of strawberries (the prettiest ones!) for decorating top of cake. Dice remaining strawberries into small cubes. Macerate them in a little sugar & set aside.
    2. Slice sponge cake horizontally into three layers.
    3. Place one sponge layer cut-side up on a cakeboard & slightly brush cake surface with sugar syrup.
    4. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over cake layer & arrange strawberry cubes over the surface. 
    5. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the strawberries. Brush cut-side of second layer with the simple syrup & place it over first layer. Frost sides & top with remaining whipped cream. 
    6. Repeat with third layer of cake. Spread a thin layer of cream overtop of cake & return to fridge to chill for thirty minutes.
    7. Using leftover cream, pipe cream as decoration. Chill in fridge for cream to set for an hour or so. Garnish with reserved strawberries (sliced in halves.).

    Tuesday 22 November 2011

    A taste from my home........

              I used to subscribe to a magazine called Taste of Home back in the US. It started with a free copy  sent to our address by the  distributor. I liked it so much that I decided to subscribe to it. Besides the recipes contributed by people all over the country, the magazine also features other segments which I find as interesting if not more interesting than the recipes. Among my favourites is the segment  "Am I Glad We Stopped At....." where it guides readers to great rural restaurants and country cafes discovered by the editors & readers. Another favourite is the 'I Wish I Had That Recipe....' segment in which the magazine helps readers to get the recipes from any restaurants & cafes which they've been to. The highlight of this magazine is the national recipe contest in which readers from all over the country submit their recipes based on a particular theme. Today's recipe is from an issue which had berries as the theme. Over 3000 recipes were submitted & the judges awarded Patricia Walls the grand prize for her Blueberry French Toast recipe.

               I've made this pudding many times but this is the first time I used brioche instead of white bread. The pudding turned out slightly dry, not sure if it was because of the type of bread or maybe I overestimated the amount of  bread I should use since a slice of my brioche is smaller than a slice of a typical white bread. That's all right because it is still delicious!

    Blueberry French Toast
    Recipe by Patricia Walls from Taste of Home (June / July 1996)


    • 12 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed (I used Brioche & I retained the crusts.)
    • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
    • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
    • 12 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 2 cups 2% milk (I used full cream milk.)
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (I used honey.)


  1. 1 cup sugar

  2. 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  3. 1 cup water

  4. 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

  5. 1 tablespoon butter

  6. Method:
    1. Cut bread into 1-in. cubes & place half in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Cut cream cheese into 1-inch cubes & place over bread. Top with blueberries and remaining bread cubes.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and syrup. Pour over bread mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
    3. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350°F (180deg C) for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
    4. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in blueberries; reduce heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until berries have burst. Stir in butter until melted. Serve with French toast. Yield: 6-8 servings (1-3/4 cups sauce).

    Monday 21 November 2011

    After more than a decade......

                Good afternoon everyone! Today is officially the first day of the school holidays for the primary school  kids  here in Singapore. Theoretically, with the holidays, I would have more time to complete my long list of things to do. But very often, a lot of unplanned errands & requests cropped up because "mummy is free"! Guess I need to plan this  holidays carefully so that it'll be a productive one......we'll see.......

                    I've been baking quite a bit these past weeks but I've not managed to post the recipes & pictures. More than a week ago, I baked a few loaves of  Brioche. I used the recipe by Dorie Greenspan from Baking With Julia. I bought this book more than a decade ago when  I was living in the US. It was one of the numerous visits to one of the numerous second hand book stores in town, while waiting for my other half slowly looking through his books, I headed to the cooking section. The thing that attracted my attention was the sign that said, "50% off all cooking books"! Why did I choose this book? Must be the picture on the cover & the fact that it is hard cover. Since at that time, I didn't really appreciate  Julia Child's popularity among the Americans, I don't think she was the reason I bought the book. I also didn't know who Dorie Greenspan was. But  I'm glad I bought the book! Only a year or two later did I realise how  well-respected & popular they are in the baking & cooking arena. Glad I made the impulsive purchase too as I paid only US$12 (about SG$20 at that time)!

                Anyway, I've looked through this book a few times & bookmarked some pages (as usual....) but never got down to using any of the recipes. Recently, I looked through it again, carefully scrutinising the pages, reminding me of  my school days! I've rebookmarked some pages & finally, after more than a decade, I made its Brioche!

                This is not my first time making Brioche. The first few times I made this was during the Bread-Making Course at BITC. I totally can't recall how it tasted but I do remember I didn't like making it because, for a bread, I thought it used too much butter & eggs. Well, times have changed, I'm wiser & more open-minded now as far cooking & baking are concerned. I realise now, even in this field, I need to look at things in perspective.....
              Greenspan wrote that Brioche is a cross between bread & pastry. But it really tastes more a bread than a pastry. It's really a rich bread although it doesn't taste as rich as I thought it would be. The  next time I make this, I would add more salt or I'd use salted butter instead to enhance the flavour.


    Recipe by Dorie Greenspan from Baking With Julia.

    1/3 cup warm whole milk (37-43 deg C)
    2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast.
    1 large egg
    2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I used Gold Medal.)

    1. Put the milk, yeast, egg & 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer.
    2. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour over the sponge.
    3. Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30-40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.
    The dough
    1/3 cup up sugar
    1 tsp kosher salt (I used regular salt. I'll add more the next time.)
    4 large eggs (lightly beaten)
    1 1/2 cup ( approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour 
    1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter

    1. Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge.
    2. Set in the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they are about to come together.
    3. Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour.
    4. When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed.
    5. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook and slap the sides of the bowl.
    6. In order to incorporate the butter into the dough, you must work the butter until it is the same consistency as the dough.
    7. You can bash the butter into submission with a rolling pin or give it kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit by bit across a smooth work surface.
    8. When it is ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool- not warm, oily or greasy.
    9. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time.
    10. This is the point at which you'll think you've made a huge mistake, because the dough that you worked so hard to make smooth will fall apart- don't worry, don't panic- carry on.
    11. When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl.
    12. Clean the sides of the bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2-3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon more flour.
    13. When you're finished, the dough should feel somewhat cool.
    14. It will be soft and sill sticky and may cling slightly to the sides and bottom of the bowl.
    15. FIRST RISE: Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2- 2 1/2 hours.
    16. SECOND RISE AND CHILL: Deflate the dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of dough, and then letting it fall back into the bowl.
    17. Work your way around the circumference of the dough, lifting and releasing.
    18. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or for at least 4-6 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size again.
    19. After the long chill, the dough is ready to use in any brioche recipe.

    1. Butter three 81/2- by 41/2- by 21/2-inch loave pans. Set aside. (I used two 81/2 x 41/2 x 21/2 & one  8x8 inch pans & divided the dough accordingly.)
    2. Divide the dough into thirds.
    3. Divide each section into 6 equal pieces (I divided into 3 for small & 6 for large pan.) and shape each piece into a ball on a lightly floured work-surface.
    4. Place the balls side-by-side in a greased loaf pan so that you have 3 short rows, each with two balls of dough.
    5. Do the same with the other two pieces of brioche dough.
    6. Cover the pans with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
    7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190deg C).
    8. Lightly brush each loaf with egg wash, taking care not to let the glaze dribble into the pan (it will impair the dough's rise in the oven).
    9. Use the ends of a pair of very sharp scissors to snip a cross in each ball of dough.
    10. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 200°F (93degC).
    11. Cool to room temperature on a rack.
    1. STORING: If you are not going to use or bake the dough after it's second rise, deflate it, wrap it airtight, and store it in the freezer.
    2. The dough can remain frozen for up to a month.
    3. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.
    4. You could also use this dough to make the very finest sticky-buns you've ever eaten in your entire life, or you can press it out in a deep dish pizza pan, cover it with cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar, the put fruit slices or berries over it for a very upscale"fruit pizza".

      Monday 14 November 2011

      Lapis Prune Ice-cream

                I wanted to bake  Lapis Prune Ice Cream for Eid last week but only managed to make Nona Manis Steamed Cake. Two days after Eid, I used up the rest of the tray of  eggs to make this cake. Actually, I've been baking this delicious cake every Aidil Fitri for the last seven years, thanks to my friend, Haslita, who never fails to place an order every year. 

                I found this recipe in a local Malay newspaper. It's by the renowned baking instructor Aini Salim.  It can also be found in her book, Hidangan Hari Raya Dari Singapura. This time round, I made some changes to the colour & flavour of the cake. In the original recipe, the batter is divided into 2 parts & green & red colouring are added to each part but I divided it into 3 parts & added vanilla paste, pandan paste & green colour & cocoa  powder into each part. Unfortunately, I could only taste the vanilla, not the pandan & cocoa. So next time I make this, I need to make some adjustments. I also did not slice the prunes as instructed in the recipe. Instead, I arranged whole prunes on every alternate layer. Next time, I'll just stick to the recipe.

      Lapis Prune Ice Cream

      500g butter
      4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
      1 tsp banana essence (I replaced this with 1/2 tsp vanilla paste.)

      5 whole eggs
      17 egg yolk
      230g castor sugar.
      1 tbsp ovelette

      150g top flour (I used cake flour.)
      50g vanilla ice cream powder

      1 tsp vanilla paste
      1 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 tbsp canola oil -mixed thoroughly ( I'll use 2 tbsp of cocoa & 2 tbsp of oil in future.)
      1 tsp pandan paste + a few drops of green colouring (I'll use 2 tsp in future.)

      300g prune (sliced thin & leave some whole prunes for top layer)

        1. Prepare a 10x7x3" pan. Line & grease the bottom part only.
        2. Combine A & whip until light & creamy.
        3. Combine B in a bowl & beat on high speed until light & fluffy for about 8 minutes.
        4. Add A into B & mix, preferably,  using a hand whisk.
        5. Fold in C & mix thoroughly, but do not overmix.
        6. Divide batter into 3 parts. Add vanilla paste into 1 part, pandan paste & green colouring into another & cocoa & oil mixture into the last. Mix each of the parts until well blended.
        7. Pour 2 ladles (about 100g) of cocoa batter & spread the batter evenly. Bake using top fire only, until cook for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven &, using a lapis cake presser, press the top layer gently. Pop any bubbles that may form.
        8. Then  pour another 2 ladles of cocoa batter, spread batter & sprinkle sliced prunes evenly. Then bake. Continue with the rest of the cocoa batter until finish, sprinkling sliced prune every alternate layer.
        9. Once done with the cocoa batter, continue with pandan batter followed by plain batter. There are 5-6 layers for each flavour. For the final plain layer, place whole prunes instead of sliced ones.
        10. Finally, once the final layer is cooked, bake the cake using top & bottom oven set at 180deg C for about 10 minutes.
        11. Remove cake from baking pan  & leave to cool on a cooling rack before cutting.

        Sunday 6 November 2011

        Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha....

                     I woke up at 5 this morning without the alarm clock's help. I think I had too much sleep.... The early morning pour could be a factor too. As I peered through the window & saw the heavy rain, I couldn't help but wondered which part of Singapore was flooding. I was also hoping the rain would not drag too long as the Aidil Adha prayers & qurban ceremony would be carried out..... Alhamdullillah, the rain stopped just after 6 when the clouds started to  clear up, giving way to the  rising sun. What a beautiful & cool morning.......

                  Good thing I woke up early.  I managed to make Nona Manis Steamed Cake this morning although I planned to make this & another cake yesterday. I was too tired to bake anything yesterday, after waking up at 4 in the morning & was up & about the whole day. This recipe was shared by a Warna listerner  a few years ago but I didn't note down her name or which programme she was on. I just scribbled the recipe while I was waiting for somebody in the car. I've also made some changes to the method.

        Nona Manis Steamed Cake
        Source: Warna 94.5, Mediacorp Radio.


        For burnt sugar syrup:
        400g  coarse granulated sugar
        450g water

        250 butter
        1 tsp vanilla essence
        300g granulated sugar
        3 whole eggs
        3 tsp bicarbonate of  soda
        500g plain flour - sifted together with the bicarbonate of  soda
        200ml evaporated milk
        burnt sugar syrup

        1. Grease a 10 x 10 inch baking pan & line base & side of pan with baking paper. Set aside.
        2. To prepare burnt sugar syrup, heat sugar slowly in clean & dry saucepan or skillet, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely melted. When melted sugar turns dark brown &  frothy, add water slowly & carefully, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
        3. Whip butter, granulated sugar & vanilla until creamy. 
        4. Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
        5. Fold in flour alternately with evaporated milk.
        6. Finally pour in burnt sugar syrup & mix until well blend.
        7. Pour batter into prepared pan. 
        8. Lay a sheet of foil on the work surface & cover with a sheet of baking paper. Make a large pleat in the middle.
        9. Place, paper-side-down, across top of baking pan & tie string securely aroung rim of pan. Then adjust the pleat gently such that  it forms a dome shape.
        10. Place on a steamer & steam for 2 hours.
        11. After 2 hours, remove pan from steamer. Then remove foil & baking paper. Leave pan aside for about 15 minutes.
        12. Remove cake from pan by inventing it on a wire rack & slowly remove paper lining. Leave cake to cool completely before cutting & serving.

        Monday 31 October 2011

        Talam Suji

                    I  made   Talam Suji last Saturday. Love eating Talam Suji but made it only once before. Recently,  when I saw it on Yatie's Sinar Kehidupanku,   I was tempted to make it once again. This recipe was shared by  Bdaria from  Jurnal resepi bdaria. which she got from a class conducted by the famous Malaysian Chef Asmah.

                    Unfortunately, as you can see, my Talam Suji does not look as tempting as the ones made by Yatie & Bdaria. Mind is rather pale. When I added yellow colouring to the bottom mixture, I thought it looked bright enough but when it's cooked, it looked pale. Then, I wanted to add brown colouring for the top layer but when I tried to pour the colouring, I realized it had hardened!
                   This kuih is quite easy to cut as it is not too soft. It's not hard either. The sweetness  level is just nice.... I like it. However, I find the kuih not rich enough. So, the next time I make this & if  I'm using fresh coconut milk, I need to increase it & adjust the water level accordingly. One more thing, I used the Prima brand of semolina. I realize it is too fine. As a result, the bottom level of the kuih lacks the granular texture. Apparently, there are other brands that carry coarser I need to bear that in mind.

        I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011) hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

        Talam Suji
        ( makes 10 x 10 x 2 or 3 inch pan)
        Bottom layer
        180g semolina
        450g water

        220g castor sugar
        2 eggs
        200ml coconut milk (Bdariah used M&S coconut milk  in a box, I used fresh coconut milk.)
        250ml water
        yellow colouring (I used egg yellow.)
        1/2 tsp salt (I added.)
        1. Soak A for 30 minutes in a pot.
        2. Combine B in a bowl. Mix well & strain into the pot that contains A.
        3. Heat the mixture over medium fire, stirring continuously using a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly.
        4. Grease pan with cooking oil &  layer with plastic so that it's easy to remove kuih from pan.
        5. Pour mixture into pan & steam for 25 minutes.
        Top layer
        300 gula merah (I used gula melaka.)
        50g castor sugar
        500ml water
        2 pandan leaves (I added.)

        150 plain flour
        3 whole eggs
        250ml coconut milk
        1/2 tsp salt


        1. Combine A & soak or boil  until sugar dissolves (I boiled it & left to cool.)
        2. Combine B & mix thoroughly.
        3. Combine A & B, mix untill well blend. Then strain into a pot.
        4. Heat the mixture over medium fire, stirring continuously using a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly. Turn off fire & whisk mixture thoroughly using a hand whisk.
        5. Pour onto the bottom layer & steam for 30 minutes.
        6. Once cooked, remove pan from steamer &  leave to cool completely before cutting kuih using a plastic knife.
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