Sunday 29 April 2012

At home on a very humid Sunday...

It's soooo humid here in Singapore! I wish it will rain soon.... cats & dogs! Looking at the sky from the window, I know it's raining in some areas. Unfortunately, not in this area..... Rain, rain, please come here........

It's the time of the year again... children in Singapore are busy with preparations for their mid-year examinations. So we decided to stay at home as I need to supervise & help my boys with their practice papers & revision.

I made Bingka Labu yesterday morning. It's very easy to make.... I combined & mixed all the ingredients  using a hand whisk & then baked them in my small baulu moulds. Good thing I decided to make only 1/4 of the recipe because it makes 28 pieces! That's more than enough for my family weekly gathering at my mum's!

Binka Labu (Traditional Pumpkin Cake)
Recipe by Azizah Mohd Ismail
Source: Mintak Ampun Sedapnya.... by Asmah Laili

500g plain flour (sifted)
800ml coconut milk extracted from 1 1/2 grated white coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yellow colouring
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
300g yellow pumpkin
200ml water
5 whole eggs
500g caster sugar

1. Prepare a large 8-petal or multiple small baulu moulds or muffin cups. Grease with butter & leave aside. (I used small baulu moulds & greased with canola oil.)
2.Cut pumpkin into 4-6 wedges. Discard seeds, fibres & cottony parts of pumpkin & wash clean. Do not remove skin yet. Boil pumpkin wedges until tender, peel skin. Blend soft pumpkin meat with 200 ml water to a smooth paste.
3. Beat eggs with sugar until sugar dissolve & eggs are frothy. Add in coconut milk, salt, vanilla essence, yellow colouring, flour & blended pumpkin meat in stages. Beat batter until smooth & then strain to ensure a smooth batter.
4. Preheat greased moulds in preheated oven at 170-180 deg C. Pour batter 3/4 full into moulds. Bake until golden in colour.
(I made 1/4 recipe which made 28 small pieces.)

Wednesday 25 April 2012


Last Friday, Amirah  had a craving for bagels for breakfast. So she asked if we could get them from the neighbourhood supermarket. Slim chance..... at least in my neighbourhood. Unlike doughnuts, bagels don't really catch on among Singaporeans. 

With all the ingredients needed to make bagels at hand, I thought  I'd just make them myself.  Afterall, they are not really difficult to make. I started making after lunch & by teatime, my kids were already enjoying   these  dense & chewy rings.


Adapted from The Bread Book by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake

455g unbleached white bread flour
1 tsp sugar
15g fresh yeast (I used 7g instant yeast.)
1 egg white
230 ml mixture of milk & water, at room temperature (I used milk only.)
2 tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil (I used softened butter.)
2 tsp salt

1 egg yolk
2 tsp cold water
sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

1.In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, yeast, egg white, milk & water & mix on low until the dough comes together in a mass, about 3-5 minutes. (If using fresh yeast, crumble it in a small bowl & whisk  it to a smooth liquid with milk mixture, then stir in sugar. Then combine yeast mixture with flour & egg white.)
2.Increase speed to medium-high, add in melted butter & continue mixing until well-combined.
3.Finally add in salt & continue mixing until the dough is smooth & elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
4.Place dough in a clean & greased bowl. Cover bowl with a damp tea-towel  & leave to rise  at cool to normal room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
5.Knock back the risen dough & divide into 20 equal portions. Form each portion into a doughnut shape.
6.Arrange bagels, well apart, on baking trays. Cover with a dry tea-towel & leave at normal room temperature until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
7.Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then gently lower the bagels into the water in batches, 2-3 bagels at a time. Boil uncovered for about 30 seconds on each side. Return to the baking tray.
8.Brush bagels with egg yolk mixed with cold water. Leave plain or sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. 9.Bake for 20-25 minutes at 200 deg C until golden brown & puffed up. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Amazing bananas....

There are some overripe bananas in my kitchen so I thought it's time for me to bake Choc-Bottom Banana Squares, something  I'd been meaning to do for a while. Bananas are just amazing.... don't you think? They are delicious, nutritious & quite versatile. Eat them on their own, mix them with cereal  or ice-cream or add them when baking cakes or bread. And we all know that when adding them in cakes, the overripe ones are the best.

As expected, the Choc-Bottom Banana Squares are delicious & moist. They taste even better the next day. The next time I bake this ( I'm sure I will!), I'll sprinkle some nuts for the crunch....

Choc-Bottom Banana Squares
Source: Anie KG & Rima

1/2 cup butter, about 113g - I used unsalted
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas- I used 8 medium bananas (pisang berangan)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup chocolate chips (I used coffee chocolate chips.)
1 tbsp canola oil  (I added to the cocoa batter because I notice the cocoa powder has a drying effect on the batter.)

1.Line & grease a cake pan....I used a 7 x 10 inch cake pan.
2.Cream butter and sugar. Add in egg, vanilla and mashed bananas, mix well.
3.Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Mix well.
4.Divide batter into 2 portions. Add the cocoa powder into one portion . I also added canola oil to the cocoa portion. 
5.Spread half of the plain portion at the bottom of your tin followed by the cocoa portion. Then top off with the remaining plain batter. Swirl the batter around a few times using a skewer or the handle of a spoon  to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle chocolate chips.
6.Bake at 170C for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool, then cut into squares. 

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Malted Chocolate Cake

Frosted layered cake is seldom on my list of cakes to bake.... it's just time consuming. The planning, baking & assembling of the cake is just too much. Furthermore, I'm often intimidated by the assembling process as I'm not good at decorating & yet I want my cake to turn out as perfect & professional as the ones displayed in cafes & cake shops. I know.... I need to be more realistic...

Recently, I saw Annie Rigg's book Make, Bake & Celebrate! (yes, I still buy baking books.... just can't resist it.....) What I like about her book is the cake decorations are beautiful & yet they don't require me to be perfect! The decorations for the Chocolate Malted Cake that I made yesterday is very close to the one done by Annie. It's simple, elegant & yet it's imperfect. I like that!

Since my family & I are not really great fans of  frosted cakes, I decided to make only half the recipe. So what you see here is a 4 layered-4 1/2-inch  cake instead of the 3 layered-8-inch cake found in the book. Before assembling the cake, I managed to taste the scraps of the cake. Yummy! must be the Horlicks added to the cake! But with the chocolate frosting, that special taste seems to disappear into the bittersweet frosting. Don't get me wrong....the cake is still delicious but I want the taste of Horlicks more.... So next time, I'll try this cake with white frosting instead & see what happens.

I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012) hosted by Sam of Sweet Samsations.

Malted Chocolate Cake
Recipe by Annie Rigg from her book Make,Bake & Celebrate!

250g / 2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
150g /10 tbsps unsalted butter, soft
225g / 1 big cup (caster) sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract ( I used vanilla paste.)
175ml / 2/3cup buttemilk
2 tbsp malted milk powder (I used Horlicks.)
150g / 5oz milk chocolate- coated malted milk balls (Maltesers / Whoppers)
assorted chocolate sprinkles / nonpareils
three 20cm / 8-inch round cake pans, greased & baselined with greased baking parchment

1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F).
2. Sift together flour, baking powder,baking soda & salt.
3. Cream butter & sugar in the bowl of a  stand mixer until really pale & light - at least 3-4 minutes. Gradually add beaten eggs to the creamed butter in 4 or 5 additions, mixing well between each addition & scraping down the bowl from time to time with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla & mix to incorporate.
4. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the cake mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix until smooth, the fold in the malted milk powder. Divide mixture evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spread level & bake on middle shelf for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle come out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 3-4 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
(I made only 1/2 recipe & baked the cake in a 10-inch swiss roll pan. Then, using a round 4 1/2 inch-cookie cutter, I cut the cake into four pieces & used them to assemble my 4-layered cake.)

Malted chocolate frosting:
200g / 6 1/2 oz dark / semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
150g / 5 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
250ml / 1 cup double / heavy cream
50g / 1/3 cup malted milk powder
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g / 1 1/2 stick butter, soft

1. Place chopped chocolates into a medium heatproof bowl.
2. Put cream, malted milk powder & syrup in a small, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat & whisk until combine. Stir occasionally until the cream just comes to the boil. Pour into the bowl of chocolate, stir & set aside to allow chocolate to melt. Once melted, stir until silky smooth & leave until cold & starting to firm up. Gradually beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until glossy & smooth.
(I made only 1/2 recipe for the frosting. I replaced the bittersweet & milk chocolate with  1/2 Valrhona Manjari 64% & 1/2 Equatoriale 55% chocolate.)

To assemble cake:
1. Lighltly crush about 100g / 3 1/2 oz, of the milk chocolate-coated malted milk balls.
2. Place one of the cake layer on a serving dish & spread 3-4 tbsps of the malted chocolate frosting over it, then scatter half the malted milk balls on top. Cover with a second cake layer. Repeat this process, finishing with the last  cake layer. Spread all but 3 tbsps of the remaining frosting evenly over the top & side of the cake using a palette knife. Spoon the reseved 3 tbsps malted  chocolate frosting into the piping bag & snip the end to a fine point. Pipe dots aroung the bottom edge of the cake & around the top edge tool if you like .
3. Arrange the whole malted milk balls (I didn't use.)  & chocolate srpinkles / nonpareils on top of the cake just before serving.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Bingka Ambon

On Friday, my cousin's son  got married. The solemnization ceremony was held at the Sultan Mosque after which we all proceeded to my cousin's place for a feast. Then last night, we attended the sit-down wedding dinner in a hall. We, the relatives,  didn't have to do much....  just sat & ate & mingled a little bit while the singers & dancers entertained the guests.

It was different when the groom's mother got married 30 years ago. Back then, the spirit of gotong-royong was so alive! All the relatives were busy helping out with the preparations...  decor, food & all...  & both the solemnization ceremomy & wedding dinner were held at my consin's place. They were held on a  wet Christmas night... we were all drenched as we helped to serve the guests. That was one unforgettable wedding.......

In the spirit of gotong-royong, I made kuih bingka ambon, an Indonesian kuih, for the feast on Friday. Recently, Ayu of Curlybabe's Satisfaction made this kuih & when I saw her picture, I couldn't wait to make it myself. So last week, I tested the recipe & was very happy the kuih turned out beautifully. That inspired me to make some for the gathering. Just look at the beautiful honeycomb texture.......

Some things to take note of... When I first tested the recipe, I used instant coconut milk from the box (200ml & added water). For the second atttempt, I used thick freshly-squeezed coconut milk (300ml). I like the ones using fresh coconut milk better as the bingka is richer & shinier, as you can see in the pictures. I also added 60g more sugar for my second attempt as I like my kuih slightly sweeter. If you want to try this kuih, you may want to try half recipe first as one recipe can make about 100 pieces.

Bingka Ambon
Original recipe from Majalah Sedap Bil 18 Vol 2 2009

For yeast mixture:
100g plain flour
125 ml water
1 packet instant yeast

Other ingredients:
300 ml coconut milk from 1 coconut - I used thick, freshly-squeezed coconut milk.
1/2 tsp tumeric powder - I used yellow colouring.
15 kafir lime leaves, aka daun limau purut (torn)
2 lemon grass (cushed) - I didn't use
2 pandan leaves
1 tsp salt
300g sugar (I added 60g more.)
225g tapioca flour
25g glutinous rice flour
7 whole eggs

  1. Combine all ingredients for yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly & leave aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Combine coconut milk, tumeric powder, kafir leaves, lemongrass, pandan leaves, salt & sugar in a pot & cook, stirring continuously, until mixture boils. Remove from fire & strain mixture. Set aside 450ml.
  3. Combine tapioca & glutinous rice flour. Add in yeast mixture & mix using hand whisk or cake mixer.
  4. Add in egg one at a time & continue mixing.
  5. Add in warm coconut mixture in several additions. Continue mixing for about 15 minutes. Leave mixture aside for 2 hours.
  6. Heat up Kuih Lumpur mould (I used Kuih Bahulu mould.) on  a stove using low fire & grease it by rubbing it with fresh coconut until the mould is oily. Then remove the coconut & wipe the mould clean with  a cloth. (I just greased it using cooking oil.)
  7. Pour mixture into the mould until 3/4 full. (Stir mixture thoroughly before pouring.)
  8. Once  little holes start to form on the surface of the bingka, cover the mould. Leave to cook for few  minutes.
  9. Remove bingka from mould & repeat process.
Read here for my Bingka Ambon Durian recipe.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Semolina Cake

It's a cool & wet morning here in Singapore....  Where traffic is concerned, it was also quite a chaotic morning  as the rain started to pour and continued to pound just as many of us were getting ready to head for school or work. As I was driving my son to school at 6.30 on the ECP, there was already an accident involving 4 or 5 cars....Good thing it just occured so we were not stuck there. But as I was driving back, the traffic backup on the other side was quite bad.....  

The roads in my neighbourhood were bustling with activities too especially since there are a few schools in the area.  Traffic was typically slow as there were students crossing the roads & parents waiting to enter & leave the school compound to drop off their children. Good thing there were security guards, school staff & parent volunteers to mend the roads outside the schools. That really helped a lot to ensure the safety of the school kids. So we drivers just have to be more patient & careful......

I baked Semolina Cake last week. I love it. It's rich yet not oily or too sweet.... However, as you can see, my cake turned out slightly dry... but it's not supposed to be like that.... I had to bake my cake twice. Since I was using my small oven, I thought I didn't have to bake for 45 minutes. So after 30 minutes, I inserted my metal skewer & was surprised that it came out clean.... so I took the cake out of the pan sliced a thin piece & ate it right away as I couldn't resist the smell & wait any longer... It was moist & yummy! Two hours later, after the whole cake is cool, as I was slicing it,  the uncooked batter from the center part oozed out........ So I put it back into the  pan & bake it for another 15 minutes or so.... Because of that, the sides also turned out darker....
This recipe is from The Temptation of Chocolate by Alex Goh. There, Chef Alex poured chocolate ganache over the  whole cake. I decided to do without the ganache.

Semolina Cake
Recipe from Alex Goh's Temptation of Chocolate

150g butter (I used unsalted.)
160g semolina
Melt butter & add in semolina. Mix until well blended & set aside for 1 hour. (I left it aside for 3 hours.)

150g butter (I used unsalted.)
120g sugar
3/4 tsp salt (I added.)
1 tsp vanilla paste (I added.)

8 egg yolk

5 egg white
120g sugar

120g flour (sifted together with baking powder)
1/4 tsp baking powder (I used double-acting.)
80 g ground almond
(I combined all above 3 ingredients & mixed thoroughly before adding to egg mixture.)
  1. Combine butter, sugar, salt & vanilla paste in a mixing bowl & cream until light.
  2. Add in egg yolk & cream until light & smooth. 
  3. Add in semolina & butter mixture & mix until well combined.
  4. In another clean & dry mixing bowl, whisk egg white until foamy. Then add in  sugar & continue whisking  until stiff.
  5. Fold in egg white into egg yolk mixture & gently mix using a hand whisk  until well combined.
  6. Finally, fold in flour & almond  & mix gently until well blended.
  7. Pour mixture into a lined baking pan ( I used 2 loaf pans, each measuring 22 x 11.5 x 4.5 cm) & bake on bottom rack at 180 deg C for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove cake from pan & leave to cool.
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