Sunday 23 March 2014

Bingka Ambon

After my first attempt with making Bingka Ambon, I've tried a couple of other recipes but they are not as good as the one by Majalah Sedap. So here I am with my bingka  ambon again. I used the same recipe as before but with some changes. 

This time, I reduced the amount of yeast used, hoping that the yeast flavour would be more subtle. Since I reduced the yeast, I thought I should up the fermentation period. 

The bingka turns out pretty much as expected. The yeast flavour is definitely less overbearing, & the bingka still has beautiful honeycomb texture. The only problem, which I think you must have noticed, the surface of my ambon has rather big holes on it... I wonder if it's caused by the longer fermentation period.... I wanted to experiment one more time before posting it here, but I think my family & neighbour are having binka-ambon overload. I got a hint from my mum... she asked why I've been making bingka ambon lately..... So I'll have to wait for a while before I can carry on with my bingka ambon learning journey. Or if any of you out there would like to try out this recipe, you can start baking it after 2 hours of fermentation. Let me know how it turns out.

Bingka Ambon

Yeast mixture:
50g plain flour
60 ml water
4g instant yeast

Other ingredients:
150 ml coconut milk from 1/2 coconut - I used thick, freshly-squeezed coconut milk.
1-2 kafir lime leaves, a.k.a. daun limau purut (torn)
1 pandan leave
1/2 tsp salt
180g sugar
110g tapioca flour
10g glutinous rice flour
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
yellow colouring (optional) - I didn't use.

  1. Combine all ingredients for yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly & leave aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Combine coconut milk, kafir lime leaves, pandan leave, salt & sugar in a pot & cook, stirring continuously, until mixture boils. Remove from fire & strain mixture. Set aside 225ml.
  3. Combine tapioca & glutinous rice flour. Add in warm coconut milk mixture & mix using hand whisk or cake mixer. Add in yeast mixture & continue mixing.
  4. Add in egg one at a time & continue mixing for about 15 minutes. Leave mixture aside for 4 hours.
  5. Heat up Kuih Baulu mould on a stove using low fire & grease it using vegetable oil.
  6. Stir mixture thoroughly & pour it into the mould until 3/4 full. 
  7. Once little holes start to form on the surface of the bingka, cover the mould. Leave to cook for few minutes.
  8. Remove bingka from mould & repeat process.
Notes & modifications:
  1. This recipe makes about 50 pieces.
  2. While baking the bingka, you will need to adjust the fire accordingly. You may encounter some problems, like bingka stuck to the mould or burnt bingka, with at least the first batch. Don't worry, it will get better after a few batches.
  3. I've reduced the yeast by slightly more than a third this time & doubled the fermentation time from 2 hours to 4 hours. I wonder if the longer fermentation time had caused the big holes on the surface... 
Adapted from recipe by Majalah Sedap Bil 18 Vol 2 2009.

I'm submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Indonesia, hosted by Alice from I Love. I Cook. I Bake.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Kuih Lopes

This is my maiden attempt to make kuih lopes on my own, without any supervision. I've eaten a lot of kuih lopes made by my mother, but I've never really learnt how to make it although I had some vague ideas. Days before making, I just asked my mother to clarify certain things.  

Lopes is traditionally wrapped into a triangular shape, but that's quite time consuming. So I wrapped mine like lontong or lemang. My experience with making lemang came in handy. Actually, I did wrap a few pieces into triangular shape ones but all of them burst open during cooking time. That's what will happen if they are not tied securely.

I'll leave you with the recipe & some tips  on making & keeping kuih lopes. Hope they'll be useful if you want to give it a try.

Kuih Lopes

500g glutinous rice
10-15g light soda ash - crushed (I used 10g)  / lye water (I'm not sure how much you need this.) *see note below
banana leaves
  1. Wash the glutinous rice until the rinsing water is clear. 
  2. Then place the rice in a container & pour water until about 5cm above the rice level. Sprinkle the crushed soda ash or mix in the lye water. Stir the rice. Leave it to soak for at least 2 hours. (The colour of the rice should turn to light yellow. If the rice has not turned yellow, you should add some more soda ash or lye water.) 
  3. At the end of the soaking period. drain the water by pouring the rice into a colander. 
  4. Wash the banana leaves. To soften the leaves,  pass the leave quickly over flame, one at a time. You can also dry the leaves under the sun for a couple of hours. Softening the leaves will prevent them from tearing when wrapping the kuih lopes.
  5. Take a piece of banana leave & roll it to form a cylindrical shape. Make sure there are at least 2 layers of leaves. (I used a rolling pin as a mould to form uniform banana leave 'cylinders'.) Tie one end of the leave with a rafia string. (You need a string long enough to tie the 2 ends & the center of the leaves.) Fill the 'cylinders' with the glutinous rice, leaving about 1cm space for the rice to expand. Using the same piece of string, tie the center & the other end of the leave securely. (I wrapped & tied my kuih lopes just like I did my lemang.)
  6. Boil a big pot of water. Place the wrapped lopes into the pot. Make sure all the lopes are submerged in water. Cook for 2-5 hours. (I cooked them for 2 hours.) Remove from pot & place on a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
  7. To serve, slice the lopes with a plastic knife or wet metal knife & coat every piece with grated coconut. Then pour gula Melaka syrup.
This recipe makes four 8cm-long lopes.
After soaking, the rice should turn light yellow.

Coconut for coating:
300g fresh coconut (skin removed & grated)
2 pandan leaves, torn
salt to taste
     Combine the ingredients & steam for about 15 minutes. Steaming the coconut will prevent it from turning rancid when left in room temperature over a long period of time.

Gula Melaka (Palm Sugar) Syrup:
200g gula Melaka, cut into small pieces
2 pandan leaves, torn lengthwise & tied a knot
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt
     Combine water, gula Melaka & pandan leaves in a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until all the sugar has melted. Once the syrup is boiling,  remove from heat. Then strain & leave aside. The syrup will thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin out with a little bit of water before using.

1) Soda ash is  abu chang in Malay. According to my maid, Indonesians call it tawas. The  one that's commonly sold here is the white & hard solid type. Another type is orange in colour. I think lye water is the liquid form. You can buy the soda ash from the market or neighbourhood shops. 

2) The amount of rice you fill into the banana leave cylinders will determine how hard or soft the kuih lopes will turn out. Too compact  & the lopes will be hard, but too loose & the lopes will be very soft. After filling it with rice, I left about 1 cm space before tying the other end of the leave. My lopes turn out just nice, they are not too hard & not too soft.

3) Hesti from Hesti Kitchen also shared some tips to improve the keeping quality of kuih lopes. 
*The amount of time you cook the lopes will affect its keeping quality. The longer you cook them,  the longer the lopes can be left in room temperature without turning bad. (This also applies to ketupat and lontong.) I cooked my lopes for only 2 hours as I know my lopes will not be left uneaten for long. Hesti wrote that her mum cooked the kuih lopes for 5 hours & it can keep for 1 week in room temperature. 
*Once cooked, remove lopes from the pot & rinse it under running water. Then dry it using a cloth & place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
*Lopes can also be frozen for months. (I did not know that!)

I'm submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Indonesia, hosted by Alice from I Love. I Cook. I Bake.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Ayam Goreng Lengkuas & Nasi Kuning

This delicious Galangal Fried Chicken is a great variation if you are thinking of having homemade fried chicken. I also cooked some yellow rice  using the liquid from the half-cooked chicken so as not to waste it. The rice & chicken are already bursting with flavour, so I just served them with Tomato Sambal, the kind usually served with ayam penyet.

Ayam Goreng Lengkuas 
(Galangal Fried Chicken)

1 chicken ( weighing about 1 kg), cut into 8 pieces
4 tbsp shredded galangal
5 tbsp oil
2 salam leaves (or bay leaves as a substitute)
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
oil for cooking  & deep frying

Spice (ground):
3 gloves garlic
5 shallots
3 candlenuts, roasted
1 tsp tamarind
2 tsp chopped turmeric
salt & sugar

  1. Combine chicken with ground spices & shredded galangal & mix thoroughly.
  2. Heat about 3 tbsp of oil in a frying pan & add  in the chicken. Add salam leaves & lemon grass. Cover the pan & fry over low heat, adding a little water if necessary.
  3. Remove the chicken when it is half-cooked. Drain the chicken & set aside the remaining liquid. Deep fry  the chicken until golden brown.
  4. Serve the chicken with fried shredded galangal sprinkled on it.
Notes & modifications:
  1. After combining the chicken with the ground spices, I left it in the fridge for about 2 hours. 
  2. I did not add any water when cooking the chicken as there was already a lot of water coming out from the chicken as I was cooking it. Once the chicken is half cooked, I removed the chicken & used the remaining liquid in the frying pan to cook yellow rice.

Nasi Kuning

800g rice (I used basmati rice.)
2 tbsps shredded turmeric or 1 tbsp powdered turmeric
1 litre coconut milk from 1 coconut (discard the skin) - 
1 tbsp salt
2 salam leaves (or bay leaves as a substitute)
2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
1 tbsp lime juice

  1. Wash & drain rice.
  2. Steam for 25 minutes until it is half-cooked. Then transfer to another saucepan.
  3. Soak the shredded turmeric in coconut milk.  Add in salt, salam leaves, lemon grass & the liquid from the half-cooked chicken. Bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the boiled coconut milk onto the half-cooked rice, add lime juice & allow to simmer. Continute to stir until the liquid is completely absorbed. Then steam until thoroughly cooked.
Note: - I combined all the ingredients & cooked the rice in the electric rice cooker.
          - adjust the total amount of liquid accordingly.

Sambal Tomato 
(Tomato Chilli Sauce)

150g red chillies, seeded
6 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 red tomato, chopped
½ tsp dried shrimp paste (belacan)
salt & sugar
2 tbsp oil
     Sauté red chillies, shallots, garlic, tomato & shrimp paste until half-cooked. Set aside.  Grind & add salt & sugar.

Recipe (with some modifications) by Yasa Boga from The Best of Indonesian Cooking.

I'm submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Indonesia, hosted by Alice from I Love. I Cook. I Bake. 
I'm also linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #10 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Spiral Curry Puffs

Since it's the school holidays, I've a list of recipes that I want to experiment with, along with a long list of things I want to do. Sigh.... it's already halfway into the holidays, but I'm not even halfway through the lists..... 

Anyway, I made Spiral Curry Puffs for teatime yesterday using the dough recipe by Alex Goh. I've made this before a long time ago. I remember feeling quite disappointed with my puffs then because the lamination was not as neat & fine as the one in the book. This time, I'm still not fully satisfied with my puffs... the lamination turned out okay, but many of my puffs were broken before I could fry them. I wonder what could have gone wrong....

The good thing is, overall, the puffs were not  a total disappointment. The tasty & spicy filling wrapped in the flaky pastry made an addictive snack! 

Spiral Curry Puffs

2 cm ginger (grated)
3 pods cardamom
2 whole cloves
2 cm thin cinnamon stick
2 tbsp meat curry powder (you may add more) - mixed with water to form a paste
200g minced meat (I used beef.)
250g potatoes (diced)
1 onion (diced)
mint leaves
oil for sauteing

       Heat up oil in a frying pan. Fry cloves, cardamom & cinnamon stick until fragrant. Add  ginger  & curry paste. Continue frying until fragrant. Add meat & cook for about 3 minutes. Then add in potatoes & cook until soft. Add water when necessary. Finally add in onion, mint leaves & salt. Once cooked, remove from stove & set aside to cool completely.


Water dough
260g flour
50g margarine/butter
20g sugar
100-140g water
Combine all ingredients & mix to form a smooth dough. Divide it into 2 equal portions & let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

Oil dough
180g flour
100g shortening (I used crisco.)
Combine all ingredients & mix to form a smooth dough. Divide it into 2 equal portions.


1. Wrap 1 portion of the oil dough with 1 portion of the water dough. (i.e. oil dough is inside & water dough on the outside.) Then roll it into a rectangular shape.

2. Make a book fold. Then rotate the dough 90 deg. 

3. Roll it into thin sheet of 2mm thickness. Then roll it up like a swiss roll. Leave it aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Then slice the dough into 8 equal parts. Repeat the assembly process with the other portion.

4. Roll each piece of sliced dough into 3mm thickness. Place filling & pinch to seal.

5. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Dough recipe by Alex Goh from Irresistible Pastry.

I'm linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #10 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Almond Raisin Bread & Cinnamon Rolls

Last weekend, I was pretty busy with my baking. Besides the Pandan Cupcakes, I also baked Almond Raisin Bread &, my family's all time favourite, Cinnamon Rolls. I used the sweet dough recipe from Alex Goh's Magic Bread

The sweet dough recipe made about 1000g of dough. So I divided it into 2 parts & used 1 part for the Almond Raisin  Bread & the other for the Cinnamon Rolls. Both types of bread are similar in that they are both rolled buns, hence the shaping of the buns are pretty much the same. The difference is in the filling. Besides butter, sugar & cinnamon, the Almond Raisin Bread also has almond powder, egg & raisins in the filling. You may want to refer to my other Cinnamon Bun postings for the filling & cream cheese topping.

Almond Raisin Bread

500g sweet bread dough
almond filling (see below)
100g raisins
sliced almond for topping 

  1. Grease & line a 20cm round pan. Set aside.
  2. Roll out the dough to about 1 cm thick. At this point, since the dough was quite soft & challenging to handle, I placed the dough on a tray lined with grease paper & put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This facilitates the rolling & cutting of the dough.
  3. Place the dough onto a working table & roll it out into a 35 x 23 cm rectangular shape.
  4. Spread almond filling onto the rolled out dough & then sprinkle the raisins.
  5. Roll up the dough like a Swill roll.
  6. Cut  the dough into 10 pieces & arrange in the baking pan. (I used a 7 x 10 inch pan, so I cut the dough into 8 pieces.)
  7. Leave pan in a warm place for about 45 minutes to proof.
  8. Egg wash the top & sprinkle some sliced almond.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven (180 deg C) on the lower rack for about 25-30 minutes.
  10. Once cooked, remove bread from pan.
Almond filling:
50g butter
50g sugar
60g egg
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
100g ground almond

         Mix sugar & butter until well blended. Add in egg & mix until well combined. Add in ground almond& cinnamon powder & mix well. Set aside.

Cinnamon Rolls

Basic Sweet Bread Dough
[Makes about 1000g of sweet bread dough]

Gelatinised dough:
100g bread flour
70g boiling water
Add the boiling water into the flour. Mix until well blended to form a dough. Cover and set aside to cool. Store the dough in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

Bread dough:
300g bread flour
100g plain flour
80g sugar
20g milk powder
9g instant yeast
175g cold water
60g cold egg (1 large egg)
all of the above gelatinised dough
60g butter (diced)
6g salt (about 1 tsp)

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine bread & plain flour, milk powder, baking powder, sugar & instant yeast & mix well. 
  2. Add in egg & cold water & mix until a rough dough is formed. Add in gelatinised dough & mix until well blended.
  3. Add in butter & continue mixing well. 
  4. Finally, add in salt & continue mixing to form a smooth & elastic dough. Check for membrane.
  5. Remove from bowl & mould into a smooth round dough. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it and the indention remains.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface & divide the dough into 2 parts. Mould each part into a smooth round dough & leave to rest for 10 minutes. The dough is ready to be formed into the cinnamon rolls & almond raisin bread.
Recipe by Alex Goh of Magic Bread, with some modifications to the method.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Pandan Cupcakes with Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

I've been meaning to bake pandan cake & pair it with some form of gula Melaka frosting since the school holidays last year. I did some research & narrowed down on a few recipes, but had not got down to doing it. When school reopened, the idea just faded away. But recently, when I saw Rima posted her gorgeous pandan cake with gula Melaka frosting, I was inspired again to bake one myself.

I decided to be less ambitious... If you had been following my blog, you would know I'm not into frosting & decorating cakes. So I adapted a recipe of a frosted layered cake to make cupcakes instead. I've also never liked buttercream too because I find it too rich & I don't like the aftertaste (which I realised, could be because margarine is used instead of butter). But I've read about Swiss meringue buttercream & it seems to earn pretty good reviews. 

I came across a recipe of pandan cake with gula Melaka Swiss meringue frosting from Life Is Great. The cake recipe is actually adapted from Magnolia's vanilla cake & it uses the creaming method of mixing. That's a good thing as  I didn't need to do a lot of washing up!

The cake & the frosting are just perfect! The pandan cake is so moist & delicious that, if I don't control myself, I can eat a few in one go! All the hard work preparing the pandan juice really paid off.... the cakes are very fragrant & the natural pandan flavour is hard to beat. The frosting is just amazing. It's smooth & silky, & even after so many hours in the kitchen in this humid weather, it still holds its shape perfectly. It also doesn't taste too rich & the gula Melaka caramel gives the frosting a uniquely Asian flavour. I just love everything about this cake. The only change I would make to the frosting in future is to reduce the granulated sugar & pour more gula Melaka caramel into the buttercream. Now let's look at the recipe, study it carefully & bake it!

(Update 1: Go to this post where I also drizzled salted gula Melaka caramel on the cupcakes.)
(Update 2: Go to this post for the sliced version of this pandan cake.)

Pandan Cupcakes with Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Pandan cake:
200g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (double acting)
125g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla paste / essence
200g granulated / castor sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
*75g coconut milk (from a box) + 25g water
*2 tbsps pandan juice (refer below)
*green colouring
* (combined & mixed)

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin pan with cupcake liner or, if using cupcake paper cups, place cups onto a baking pan.
  2. Combine flour & baking power. Sift & set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, combine butter, vanilla & salt. Cream until smooth. 
  4. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  6. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to over beat.
  7. Fill paper cups or muffin pan with batter, 3/4 full.
  8. Place baking or muffin pan on the middle rack of the oven & bake for about 25 minutes.
  9. Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before icing. 
Gula Melaka Swiss meringue buttercream frosting:

50g gula Melaka, crushed 
2 pandan leaves, torn lengthwise & tied a knot
1/8 cup water

3 large egg whites
110g granulated sugar
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla paste
pinch of salt

  1. To prepare gula Melaka caramel, combine water, gula Melaka & daun pandan in a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until all the sugar has melted. Then continue heating up the syrup & let it reduce slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, strain & leave aside to cool completely to room temperature. The caramel will thicken  as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin out with a little bit of water before using.
  2. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 70°C and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers - if it feels grainy, it hasn't dissolved). 
  3. Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. 
  4. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until the mixture comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. 
  5. With the mixer running, add in the gula Melaka caramel, one teaspoon at a time, beating until well combined between each addition.  I added 5 tsps.

Pandan juice:
10 pieces mature pandan leaves, washed & torn into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsps water

      With a mortar and pestle or a blender, combine the leaves & water & mash into a paste.  Press through a fine sieve or squeeze through cheesecloth to extract the green juice only. Let it sit for a while. The green extract will settle at the bottom. I used 2 tbsps of the extract.

  1. The pandan extract can be prepared before hand and chilled until required.
  2. Swiss meringue buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed. Bring to room temperature and whip to a smooth consistency before frosting. The buttercream requires no refrigeration for up to 5 days. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and in the freezer for at least 3 months.
  3. Make sure you use the pure gula Melaka for the best flavour. I usually buy mine from Geylang Serai market & ask for the one from Indonesia. It costs about $4-5 per kg. I don't buy mine from the supermarket because I'm not sure if it's pure.
  4. This recipe yields 12 medium or 30 small cupcakes & there was some leftover frosting after I piped on all the cupcakes.
Adapted recipe from Life Is Great.
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