Tuesday 30 July 2013

Rice Flour Pineapple Tarts

This year, I'm breaking away from my Hari Raya tradition of using the same recipe for my Pineapple Tarts. Instead, I used a recipe I got from a weekend baking class that used mainly rice flour & a lesser portion of plain flour.  There were 3 ticks on the recipe (I normally do that after tasting the product.), implying that the recipe is a good one. However, I decided to still retain the lotus shape.

Rice Flour Pineapple Tarts
Recipe by Nurul Imah.

250g butter (softened) - I added a bit more as my dough was quite dry.
30g sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolk
20g powder sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp butter oil essence (I used vanilla paste.)
*20g milk powder
*260g rice flour
*120g plain flour
pineapple filling


  1. Combine butter, condensed milk, egg yolk, sugar, salt & butter oil in a mixing bowl & mix until well blended.
  2. Add flour & mix thoroughly until a dough is formed. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Roll out dough & cut out using cookie cutter. Fill in with pineapple filling. (I formed into lotus shape. Refer here for steps to form the lotus flower.)
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 140 deg C.
Refer here for my other post on my Tart Teratai.

Steamed Fruit Cake (Kek Kukus)

So far, I've only made Steamed Fruit Cake, or better known as Kek Kukus in Malay, for the coming Eid. I  made six of them, two for my mother in law & the rest for my mum & relatives. I used the same recipe that I've shared before, but this time, I've also included a list of tips which I hope would be useful for those who would like to try making this delicious cake.

Some tips for preparation:
  1. I placed my butter in room temperature overnight so that it's softened by  the time I started mixing the next morning. It's important for the butter to be completely soft so that the ingredients will amalgamate thoroughly. I made 3 batches this week, one using cold, partially softened butter & the other two using overnight-softened butter. I noticed that the cakes from the first batch did not rise as well as the other batches.
  2. I prepared all the ingredients first before I started mixing & preparing the burnt sugar.
  3. I started cooking the burnt sugar & mixing the cake mixture simultaneously as the burnt sugar did take some time to caramelise.
  4. I steamed 2 cakes in one go by using my 2 layer steamer pot. After steaming the cakes for 2 & 1/2 hours, I switched the position of the 2 steamers such that the top went to the bottom & vice versa. Then I continued steaming them for another 1 & 1/2 hours.
  5. I usually covered the pan with grease paper & then aluminium foil before steaming, but this time I just wrapped it with aluminium foil after learning from Ayu. It worked well. In fact, it's easier.
  6. This cake is best eaten after a few days to allow the flavour to fully develop.

(Update: Go to this post for the recipe of a more moist Kek Kukus. )

Steamed Fruit Cake a.k.a Kek Kukus
Recipe by Hamidah Rusdi.

250g butter (softened)
100 fine sugar
1 tsp ( I used 1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp (I used 1/2 tsp) orange essence
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs (I used three 55g-eggs.)

*250g plain flour
*1 tsp baking soda
*1 tsp cream of tartar
(* combined & sifted)

**100g mixed dried fruits (The original recipe  uses 300g mixed dried fruits only.)
**200g dried black currants  (Omit if using 300g mixed dried fruits.)    
**50g walnuts (chopped into small pieces) - I added
**20g plain flour
(** combined)

For burnt sugar:
200g castor sugar

  1. Heat a steamer over medium heat.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, fine sugar, nutmeg, orange essence & vanilla essence & mix with a wooden spoon. Add eggs, one at a time & mix just until well-blended. Do not over mix.
  3. Add flour into the butter mixture & mix until well-blended. Then add in fruits & mix well.
  4. Prepare burnt sugar by placing castor sugar into a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon as sugar melts. When it becomes very dark brown, remove from heat and carefully pour to the fruit cake mixture. Before pouring the burnt sugar, make a well in the mixture & pour the burnt sugar into the well. Starting from the center,  stir the burnt sugar into the mixture. Continue stirring the rest of the mixture. This is to prevent the burnt sugar from sticking to the side of the bowl as it hardens almost as soon as it sticks to the side. (NB: The hardened sugar that you manage to scrape from the side of the bowl can still be added to the batter in the baking pan.)
  5. Pour mixture into a lined & greased baking pan (8x8x4"). Cover the pan with aluminium foil & tie it with a string (I used a rafia string). Tuck in the foil, making sure the pan is water-proof.
  6. Place the pan on a steamer & steam  for 4 hours. 
  7. Remove pan from steamer. Remove foil & leave pan aside for 10 minutes. Then remove cake from pan. Leave to cool.

Monday 29 July 2013

Lompang Bersambal

It's already the last 10 days  of Ramadhan, how time flies.... And it's getting tougher for me to update my blog because, although there's more cooking & baking going on in my kitchen, there's just no time to face my desktop during the day, & by night time, I just can't get myself to focus with what I'm supposed to type... sigh.....

So I made these little pretty rice cakes on Saturday. Kuih Lompang Bersambal is the savoury version of the sweet kuih lompang. Instead of serving sweet rice cakes with grated coconut, here, the unsweetened rice cakes are topped with curry ground beef & hot sambal.

Lompang Bersambal (Chilli Rice Cakes)
Recipe by Aini Salim from Resipi Pesta Perut 2002.
Makes 80 pieces.

200g ground meat
5 shallots
2 garlic
2 slices ginger
2 tbsp meat curry powder
salt to taste
Blend shallots, garlic & ginger  & combine with curry powder to form a paste. Heat up oil in a pan & saute curry mixture paste until it turns fragrant. Add in ground meat & salt & cook until it's slightly dry. Remove from fire & set aside to cool.                                

6 red chilli
1 tbsp dried prawn (soaked to soften & pounded)
1 garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice (I used the small limes.)
2 tbsp water
salt to taste
Heat oil in a frying pan. Saute chilli, garlic & dried prawn until fragrant & some oil is seen floating. Add soya sauce, vinegar or lemon juice , water & sugar & cook for a few minutes. Remove from fire & set aside.

crispy fried shallots
Chinese parsley
spring onions

300g rice flour
20g corn flour
1200ml coconut milk from 1 coconut (I used fresh coconut milk, so I boil it first.)
1 small egg
2 tsp salt
yellow colour
Prepare a steamer. Combine rice & corn flour in a mixing bowl. In a different bowl, combine egg, salt & colouring. Beat to combine. Pour egg & coconut milk into flour & mix until well blended. Strain mixture into a sauce pan. Cook mixture over medium fire, stirring continuously, until slightly thick. Remove from fire & continue to stir mixture to homogenise it. Pour into lompang moulds or tea cups until 3/4 full. Steam for 5 minutes over medium heat. Top the rice cakes with the meat topping & some sambal. Steam again for 10 more minutes. Remove cakes from steamer. Leave aside to cool completely before removing them from the moulds. Garnish the cakes before serving.

Note: Coconut milk from 1 coconut is about 250ml thick coconut milk without water. So I added water to the thick coconut milk to make 1200ml.

I'm linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Harum Manis

I made Harum Manis a few days ago. It is a type of steamed sponge cake topped with slices of banana. As the name suggests, it's literally sweet smelling. Thanks to the the fragrant caramel-like gula Melaka & the pleasant aroma of the steamed pisang raja. 

Harum Manis
Recipe by Siti Mastura from Resipi Pesta Perut 2002.

300g gula Melaka (palm sugar)
350ml water
1 pandan leaf (I added.)
50g butter
3 eggs
200g sugar
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (I used double-acting.)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla essence
8-9 banana - sliced into about 1/2 cm thick (I used pisang raja.)

  1. Combine gula Melaka, water & pandan leave in a pot & boil over medium fire until  gula Melaka dissolves. Strain syrup & add in  butter. Stir well. Leave to cool completely.
  2. Prepare steamer & grease moulds with oil or butter. (I used  kuih lompang moulds.)
  3. Combine plain flour, baking powder,  baking soda & salt. Sift set aside.
  4. Beat eggs & sugar until light & fluffy.
  5. Fold in flour.
  6. Pour in gula Melaka syrup a little at a time, stirring until well blended.
  7. Pour batter into moulds until 3/4 full. Top with sliced bananas.
  8. Steam for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Leave to cool completely & remove cakes from moulds.
Makes about 56 pieces.

I'm also linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of  Kitchen Flavours.

Fried Hokkien Mee, KL Style

I cook noodles more often during the month of Ramadhan. This is on top rice & the accompanying dishes, normally two types. My husband has to have rice everyday. But my kids get quite sick of rice all the time. And since my whole family eats at home for iftar (breaking of fast) almost everyday, the spread on the dining table tend to be wider during the fasting month. There are also the drinks (hot & cold) & at least one type of Malay kuih. 
I suspect this is a typical dining setting for many Muslim homes, judging from conversations I had with family & friends. Also, if you are in Singapore & Malaysia, you will notice the hives of activity at the food bazaars in the void decks or along the road.  Well, since we can't eat or drink for more than 13 hours in this hot & humid whether, food & drink are always on our mind. 

I fried Hokkien mee a few days ago. It's quite a simple dish to prepare but very delicious. My noodle turned out quite dry & hard... I think I did not add enough water..

Fried Hokkien Mee, KL Style
Recipe by Betty Yew from Rasa Malaysia, the complete Malaysian cookbook.

150g small prawns
5 small cuttlefish, cut into rigns
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oil
3 shallots, sliced
120g chicken fat, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices fish cake
3-4 stalks mustard green, cut into 5cm lengths
450g fresh yellow noodles
 2 cups water
1 tbsp dark thick soy sauce
1/2 tsp msg (I didn't use.)
a few leaves lettuce, cut into strips (I didn't use.)

  1. Season prawns & cuttlefish with sesame oil, pepper & light soy sauce. Leave aside.
  2. Heat oil in a kuali & brown shallot. Remove & put aside. Reheat kuali & chicken fat. Fry until crisp. Remove fat crisps with a perforated ladle. Leave oil behind.
  3. When kauli is smoking hot, add minced garlic, seasoned prawns, cuttlefish & fish cake slices. Add mustard greens, stir-fry for a few seconds. Put in noodles & fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add water, dark thick soy sauce & msg. Stir to combie sauce & cover kuali for 1 minute. Remove cover & add shallot crisps & fat crisps.
  5. Serve hot, sprinkled with lettuce strips & accompanied with a smal dish of Sambal Belacan.
Sambal Belacan:
(5 x 5 x 1/2) cm dried shrimp paste (belacan)
8 red chillies
3 small limes
  1. Roast dried shrimp paste in a clean pan over low heat till fragrant &, while hot, pound with red chillies until smooth. 
  2. Put into a small dish & squeeze in lime juice.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest Kuala Lumpur Selangor Month hosted by Shannon of Just As Delish.

I'm also linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of  Kitchen Flavours.

Friday 19 July 2013

Green Bean Pudding

I made Green Bean Pudding for iftar on Tuesday. It's not the kids' favourite (it's the green bean..), so decided to make only half the original recipe. It's still a lot for the house, so I decided to share it with my mum & two cousins.

Green Bean Pudding
Recipe by Rahati Yusoff
(Below is half the original recipe.)

60g roasted green bean flour
1050 ml coconut milk from 1 coconut
1 small egg (beaten)
150g fine sugar (I would reduce this in future.)
75g gula melaka
1/2 tsp pandan paste - I used pandan juice.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp green colour
1/2  tsp lemon yellow colour
1 packet (10g) agar-agar powder
20g butter

  1. Combine green bean flour & coconut milk & mix well. Set aside.
  2. Combine egg & sugar. Mix well.
  3. Pour egg mixture into the coconut milk mixture. Then add pandan paste, salt & colour. Mix until well blended. Strain mixture into a saucepan.
  4. Add in agar-agar powder & mix well.
  5. Cook over medium heat until it boils, stirring continuously.
  6. Add in butter & cook until butter melts. Remove from fire.
  7. Wet a 7x7-inch pan or your favourite jelly mould. Pour mixture into the pan. Leave aside to cool. Chill before serving.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Durian Coconut Blossom

I made  steamed coconut blossoms last Saturday. Incidentally, the last time I made them was also in Ramadan, two years ago. This time, most of the blossoms opened up quite beautifully. 

The important factor in producing such beauties is to steam them on high fire. The size of the steamer matters too, the bigger the better. Or, if you are using a small steamer, steam a few pieces at a time.This time, I didn't use Softasilk or Hongkong flour since I didn't have either of them at home. Instead, I used cake flour & the texture of the blossoms is still very fluffy. Oh yes, I also added some durian to the filling since there's some left in the fridge. Yummy!!

This recipe makes 30 medium blossoms. If you are making the whole recipe but don't want to consume all of them right away, I suggest you freeze them. And when you feel like having them again, just reheat them in the steamer.

Durian Coconut Blossom
(makes 30 blossoms)

3 eggs (cold)
250g sugar
280g Softasilk flour or any superfine flour like Hongkong flour - I used cake flour.
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp ovalette
140g coconut cream
30g pandan juice (blend about 6 pandan leaves)
1 tsp green colouring

  1. Prepare a steamer.  Fill it with water & boil it.
  2. Combine all the ingredients  in a mixing bowl & beat  until thick and fluffy. (I beat for about 6 minutes using my Kenwood Major at speed 3.)
  3. Line the blossom mould with paper cup & fill 1/3 of mould with batter. Then put 1 tbsp of coconut filling on the batter & top it with more batter until mould is almost full.
  4. Steam over high heat for 10-15 mins.
Coconut filling:
30g castor sugar - I didn't use since I added durian.
100g gula melaka
60g water
100g durian flesh (mashed with folk)
250g grated fresh coconut
1 tsp. cornflour
2 pieces pandan leaves - cut into small pieces

  1. Combine sugar, gula melaka and water in a saucepan & boil it. Strain & pour back into the saucepan.
  2. Add in the durian flesh. Mix well. Add water if it's too thick.
  3. Add in grated coconut and pandan leaves and cook until slightly dry.
  4. Sprinkle cornflour & stir until well mixed. Remove from fire & leave to cool before using.

Monday 15 July 2013

Lapis Cake Spice-Sugar Doughnut Muffins

I made these doughnut muffins last week for the Bake Along event. When I was planning to bake it, coincidentally, my mum passed me some lapis cake spice that she had just prepared. That gave me an idea.... why don't I replace the cinnamon with lapis cake spice for the muffins...?

My sister thought it was strange for muffins to taste like lapis cake... I think so too,  because I'm not used to tasting anything that has lapis spice except the spice lapis cake itself. That aside, I think these muffins tasted wonderful, even without the sugar coating. 

The texture is soft and similar to the cake-like fried doughnuts. Maybe that's what the book meant when it said these taste just like old fashioned doughnuts.

Lapis Cake Spice-Sugar Doughnut Muffins
Adapted from recipe by Cheryl and Griffith Day from Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.
Source: Tasty Kitchen.

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoons baking soda
2-½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg*
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or ground cinnamon*
* I replaced with ½ tsp lapis cake spice.
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons buttermilk
½ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½  vanilla paste (I added.)

For the coating:
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I replaced it with lapis spice.)

For the muffins:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray 12 large muffin cups.
2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom (or cinnamon). In a medium bowl, combine milk and buttermilk.
3. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, cream the butter. Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Mix until mixture lightens in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing just until smooth; do not overmix.
4. With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them approximately 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and lightly golden.

For the coating:
1. While the muffins bake, set up 2 bowls to dunk them in. In one bowl you will have the melted butter, and in the other bowl you will have the cinnamon sugar.
2. Let the muffins cool completely on a wire rack. Dunk them in the melted butter, then coat them with the cinnamon sugar (lapis spice sugar).

I'm linking this post to Bake Along hosted by Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids,  Joyce from My Cooking Gallery and Lena from Her Frozen Wings.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Ciabatta - a traditional rustic bread

Today I'm sharing a traditional rustic bread recipe by Peter Reinhart with which I made my wholemeal ciabatta. There was a period of time when I used to make this bread quite often. I'm not sure why I stopped... must be the time factor,  because preparing & baking bread requires a long waiting time which, very often, is a luxury for me..

Last week, my eldest daughter suggested that I start baking the bread again because she said store-bought ones are unhealthy because of all the long list of ingredients, a lot of them we don't even recognise. Actually, there are healthy ones out there, but they tend to be very expensive. I used to buy ciabattas from Cedele & the ciabatta costs about $5 a piece!

This recipe uses the delayed cold fermentation method which Reinhart  discussed in great details in his book The Whole Grain. I can't remember why I bought this book, but I do remember that when I  first bought it, I could not stop reading it, especially the theoretical aspect where he explains his journey in developing & fine-tuning his recipes. This is definitely a must-buy book for those who are keen to bake breads using wholemeal & other healthy grain at home. In a nutshell, Reinhart concludes that his overnight cold delayed fermentation method of preparing bread fully develops the  flavour for the bread. It also helps the dough to develop a strong structure, which can be a problem when baking bread using a high concentration of whole grain using the  normal way of preparing bread. 

At first I thought that only my eldest daughter & I love eating the ciabatta but I was pleasantly surprised when my second daughter was also excited when she realised that I was baking it. She once commented that the ciabattas that she bought from the supermarket were normally quite tasteless. I was even more surprised when my son gave his thumps up after eating it.  So we finished eating the first batch within 3 days & yesterday, I made a second batch. Based on the response, I can definitely say that the ciabatta is very flavourful.  Besides, it is also  dense & chewy. So if you are looking for  the soft & fluffy kind of bread, then this is not the one.

Traditional Rustic Bread
Recipe by Peter Reinhart from Whole Grain Breads.
(I've simplified the method.)

283g (2 1/2 C) whole wheat flour - I used 300g.
283g (2 1/2 C) unbleached bread flour - I used 300g.
1 tsp (3g) instant yeast
2 C (454g) water (about 21 deg C)
1 1/2 tsp (11g) salt
2 tbsp (28.5g) olive oil


If mixing by hand:

  1. Mix flour, instant yeast & water in a bowl & mix for 2 – 3 mins. Use wet hands to mix, or if using a spoon, dip the spoon in a bowl of water from time to time to prevent dough from sticking. Dough will be sticky but smooth. Adjust the water or flour as needed.
  2. Add salt & mix for about 1 minute.
  3. Add olive oil & mix for about 15 seconds, just enough to coat the dough.
  4. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, uncovered. Then mix again for 1 minute.
If using a stand mixer (use a paddle attachment):

  1. Place flour, yeast & water & mix at low speed for 2 mins.
  2. Add salt & mix for 15 secs.
  3. With the machine off, add olive oil & mix for 15 secs.
  4. Let dough rest for 5 mins, uncovered. Mix again, on medium speed, for 30 secs to 1 min. The dough will be stronger but still sticky. If it feels like a batter and has no structure, adjust with flour. Dough should still be sticky.
At the end of the mixing, the dough should be smooth but sticky. If it is too wet, that is, if it feels like a batter & does not have enough structure to hold together, add some additional flour. Even though sticky, the dough should be able to pass the windowpane test. To do the test, cut a small piece of dough, & gently stretch, pull & turn it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane. This test will determine if the gluten has sufficiently developed. 
Just note that it is more difficult to achieve the windowpane membrane for dough that has whole wheat flour because of its high fiber content. (In total, I mixed my dough for about 15 minutes using a stand mixer to achieve the windowpane membrane.)
* This recipe can also be used to make focaccia or baguettes.

To form & bake ciabatta:
  1. Form the dough into a ball & place it in a lightly-oiled bowl. The bowl should be large enough to accommodate the dough when it rises to nearly double its size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag & refrigerate it immediately for an overnight, cold fermentation.
  2. Gently transfer the dough to a heavily floured work surface. Using a pastry blade, cut off a piece of dough for the first ciabatta. Loosely fold the floured dough piece into thirds. Gently roll the folded dough in the flour to coat it, but do not degas it. Transfer the shaped dough to a floured pan or proofing cloth, seam side down, for proofing. Leave dough to rise at room temperature for approximately 45 minutes, until nearly 1 1/2 times its original size.
  3. Place a baking stone or an inverted sheet pan on a shelf in the oven. Also place a cast iron baking pan or rimmed sheet pan on the shelf immediately above or below the baking shelf (I placed above.) before preheating the oven.  Then heat up the oven at 260 deg C for 1 hour.
  4. When the dough is ready to bake, place it, seam side up, in the oven (either with a peel or on a sheet pan) & pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan (or mist the oven three times at 1-minute intervals). Lower the temperature to 232 deg C & bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the bread 180 degrees & continue baking for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the bread is a golden brown on all sides, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, & registers at least 93 deg C in the center. The crust should be hard though it will soften somewhat as it cools. If the crust is dark but the bread still feels soft, turn off the oven & leave the bread in for another 5 to 10 minutes. You can also cover the bread loosely with aluminium foil to prevent it from burning. 
  5. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack & allow it to cook for at least 1 hour before serving.

Tips for how to do hearth baking in a home oven:

Many professional bakeries use hearth or thick-stoned deck ovens to create their beautiful crusty loaves. Home bakers are at a disadvantage because most household ovens do not get as hot or hold heat as well as professional ovens. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to improve the performance of a home oven for hearth baking. The most obvious is to use a baking stone (the thicker the better), ceramic tiles, or an insert like the Hearth Kit, which replicates brick oven baking. These materials serve as thermal masses, absorbing heat & radiating it back into the bread, & need at least 1 hour to preheat, even if the oven appears to have reached the desired preheating temperature. They also act as insulators, reducing the recovery time an oven needs to return to the set-point after the door has been opened. (Loaves baked in loaf pans do not need to be baked on a stone, because the crust should be softer than that of a hearth bread.)

If you do not have a baking stone, tiles, or an insert, use an inverted sheet pan as a shelf; it may not hold as much heat but will provide a hotter baking platform. Do not use a nonstick pan for this purpose, as Teflon is not rated for hearth baking temperatures & the coating may volatize & turn into gas or go into the bread. Dough can also be raised & baked on the sheet pan (covered with baking parchment or a silicon pad) but it will take longer for the heat to penetrate through the bottom of the pan into the dough, so oven spring may be reduced.

To create steam (enhances oven spring & crisps the crust), place a cast iron baking pan or rimmed sheet pan on the shelf immediately above or below the baking shelf (the type & size of the oven will dictate where to best place the steam pan) before preheating the oven. Just after the dough is placed on the baking shelf (or stone), pour 1 cup of hot water into the pan, bearing careful to avoid getting splashed or steamed yourself. It is also a good idea to cover the oven window with a towel to protect it from backsplash, which can cause the glass to crack. As soon as the water hits the pan it will begin to turn to steam & should all evaporate within the first 5 to 10 minute of baking. If the steam pan is located under the baking shelf, carefully remove it after the water has evaporated. You can also mist the oven walls with water from a plant mister or spray bottle at 1 minute intervals (3 times), but avoid misting the glass window or oven's light bulb. Minimise the number of times you go in & out of the oven.

Use a flour-dusted peel, either wooden or metal, to load the dough onto the baking shelf. If you do not have a peel, use the back of a sheet pan, dusted generously with flour, to serve as the peel. Flour actually works better than cornmeal or semolina because it does not burn & smoke as easily. When done baking & the oven has cooled, sweep the pan or stone of all loose flour with a wire brush or cloth rag into an extra pan & discard.

You will have to do some practice baking to determine where best to place the baking shelf to achieve a balanced bake, but the center shelf, or perhaps one notch lower, is usually reliable. Convection ovens can also be used for hearth baking, but remember to lower the temperature anywhere from 25 to 50 degrees, as the breads will bake much faster. Also, not all oven bakes perfectly evenly, so rotate the loaves 180 deg at least once about mid-way through the bake. Sometimes it will take two or three rotations to achieve even browning of the crust.

Extracted from 'Whole Grain Breads'.

Watch the following video where Reinhart  illustrates how hearth baking is done at home.

I'm linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #2 organised by Kitchen Flavours.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Durian Custard Layer Cake

I made Durian Custard Cake after seeing a facebook post. Since I was already planning to bake cotton cheesecake, I thought why not replace the regular vanilla sponge with the cotton cheesecake. Well,  that may not be a good idea after all.... though the cake tasted really good, I think the rich & amazingly delicious durian custard just overrode the subtly-rich cheesecake. Maybe the cake would taste as good just with a regular sponge cake... why waste the cheese.. right? Anyway, I won't really know unless I make it again using the vanilla sponge.

Durian Custard Layer Cake

Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
Recipe by Alex Goh from Fantastic Cheesecake.

160g cream cheese
25g butter
120g milk
40g flour
30g cornflour
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
100g sugar
pinch of salt

  1. Grease & line the bottom of two 20-cm oval pans. Wrap outside of the pans in a foil. (I used one 14-cm & one 18-cm round pans.)
  2. Place cream cheese, butter & milk in a mixing bowl & stir over double-boiler until thick. Remove it from double-boiler.
  3. Add in flour & cornflour & mix until well combined. Add egg yolk & continue mixing until well blended.
  4. In a clean & dry bowl, whip the egg white until foamy. Then add in cream of tartar, sugar & salt & continue whipping until soft peak.
  5. Fold in the meringue, in thirds, into the cheese mixture & mix well.
  6. Pour the mixture into the pans & bake in water bath at 160 deg C for 40-45 minutes (I baked for 30 mins.) or until firm & golden brown.
  7. Remove cake from the oven. Remove the cakes from the mould immediately. Set aside to cool.

Durian Custard
Recipe by Kak Fida @ My Resipi.

250g durian flesh
1000 ml diluted coconut milk (I used 500ml regular milk & 500ml water.)
300ml thick coconut milk
1 packet (12g) agar-agar powder
6 tbsp custard powder
200g fine sugar
1/4 tsp salt
yellow colouring

  1. Blend durian flesh together with the diluted coconut milk. Strain & pour into a pot. 
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients & cook over medium fire, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens. Remove from fire & set aside.

How I assembled my cake:
  1. Prepare a ring mould. Wrap the bottom of the mould with a cling wrap. Then place the mould on a cake base. 
  2. Cut the cake into two horizontally. The diameter of baked cake must be about 2cm smaller than the mould because the outer part of the cake served later will be covered with the custard.
  3. Place one piece of the cut cake into the mould, positioning it in the center.
  4. Then pour the custard into the mould, making sure the cake is totally covered with custard.
  5. Then gently place the other piece of cake into the mould & pour some more durian custard.
  6. Decorate the top of cake using the remaining custard or toasted sliced almond. (I left the top plain.)
  7. Allow the cake to cool down. Then chill it. 
  8. Before serving, remove the plastic base by sliding it out gently while the cake is still on the cake base.
  9. Then lift up the mould gently. Slice & serve.
NB: If there's leftover custard, pour it into jelly moulds & chill them. Serve as durian pudding.

I'm aso linking this post to  Bake Along  hosted by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen Wings.
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