Monday, April 20, 2009

Taking A Hiatus..

Whew, feel rather bogged down with my committments in sch during this period of time. Currently, I am having my exams and do not have much mood blogging. Hope I can settle down and recover from my committments and resume blogging and sharing my baking experience soon..

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Baking Dream

Its been slightly more than half a year since I took up baking. I could still remember my first few attempts ending up in disaster. Being a novice i did not know how to plan my baking schedule and had tons of stuff to learn regarding baking. After trying 4 attempts i managed to get my very 1st oven baked cake done - a pandan chiffon cake. That took me quite some persistence and each time i failed, i would review my mistakes and do more research on the net.

Having gone through a not-so-smooth-sailing time on baking a chiffon cake, I gained much valuable experience, knowledge and confidence. Ever since then, I have never failed in chiffon cake making. Looking back, I think maybe I should have started out baking cookies which are much easier.

The reason why I wanted to pick up baking was because it seemed fun being able to produce mouth-watering treats. Its such a rewarding feeling when you see your loved ones enjoying the fruits of your labour. A simple compliment or word of encouragement would make you feel that all that hard work is worth it.

Soon, I realise I actually bothered to do 'researches' on the blog for recipes and baking tips and even visiting the library where i hardly step into. Never knew that the addiction would grow on me so much to and extent that I would consider making it my career. I think i found my 2nd love in life after Stefanie Sun.

Someday, I hope to become a pastry chef and spread my joy of baking to others. It is a long road for me to take, for now I have to complete my studies, clear my tuition loan and save up before enrolling in a baking school. In the meantime, I will just continue to do self-learning on baking. Look forward to the day when i don the white uniform. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chocolate Truffles For Samuel's Farewell

Made these chocolate truffles with Bailey's irish cream chocolate ganache centre for my best friend Samuel who flew to Shanghai earlier this month. I was very excited when i was reading up recipes for chocolate truffles. It seemed to be easy to make these truffles, but in actual fact one has to be familiar with the characteristics of chocolate before doing these chocolate confections.

I learnt that there is a great deal of knowledge when it comes to handling and storing chocolates. When subjected to sudden temperature changes, white streaks will appear on the surface. This would not affect the taste of the chocolates though. What alarms me is that chocolates should not be stored in the fridge. They should be stored in cool places wrapped in layers of foil.

When melting chocolates and setting them, one may want to considering tempering the chocolates to ensure the chocolates set well with glossy appearances. Dark chocolate and couverture chocolates are easier to melt as compared to milk chocolates and white chocolates. For dark chocolates, i use a double boiler to melt them. As for milk and white chocolates, it is easier to use the microwave oven to melt them without causing them to burn.

The taste of these truffles turned out pretty good. One thing i learnt is that these truffles taste best when they are left standing for 30 mins after taking out of the refrigerator. When eating straight from the refrigerator, the chocolate confections will not develop their full flavour. The irritating thing about making these lovely confections is our humid and warm weather. The truffles soften easily when subjected to room temperature and it is unwise to stack them as they might end up in a dark brown mess. I had to rack my brains to wrap these truffles and ended up wrapping them in translucent plastic wrappers and place them in a circular box.

It certainly is a good idea to present these delicate treats as gifts. Hmm maybe i will attempt make truffles for gifts for Xmas.

Here is a great book to read on chocolate truffle making- Truffles, candies & confections by Carole Bloom. Loaned this neat read from the National Library.

Backlog- CNY Pineapple Tarts

For CNY i baked a total of 5 tins of pineapple tarts. Whew! it sure was a tiring task having to roll all the pastry skin and the pineapple fillings into balls. Luckily, mum and younger bro decided to help me since the whole family is mad about pineapple tarts. We ate a total of 7 tins this year, and i estimate that i would need to bake 5 to 7 tins next year for CNY.

Baking pineapple tarts is a very time consuming, tedious yet fulfilling process. It only cost me 10bucks to bake 3 tins of tarts whereas 1
tin of handmade pineapple tart can sell for 10bucks or more on the market. On the other hand, homemade pineapple tarts can cater to personal taste and with some practice they easily turn out to be a delicious treat.

I was inspired to bake these tarts after reading youfei's blog. I followed her recipe and baked my first batch of tarts. It turned out decent, however my pastry skin was a little too thick. The 2nd time i tried baking i used a recipe featured in the sunday times. The outcome were tarts that were soft and give a melt-in-the-mouth feel. However, the skin seems to peel and the tarts seem to stick to the mouth after eating.

The best results i had were tarts baked on my 3rd attempt. This time round i altered youfei's recipe and used 50g butter less. The tarts gave a crumbly feel which suited our preference. I am so going to use this recipe for CNY next year. However, i think i wont be doing my own pineapple jam next year like this time round as it is too time consuming to me. Storebought Phoon Huat or Bake King brand pineapple paste seemed good enough.

Backlog- Egg Tarts

This was one of my most successful attempts in baking. I was pretty satisfied with the results considering this was my first attempt on baking egg tarts. My elder brother commented that it was as good as those sold in bakeries. This recipe from aunty yochana's is definitely a superb one.

The recipe can be found here:
Egg tarts

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lemon Fragrance


I have been setting my goals on mini bakes for a while and hence decided to try out this recipe for lemon cookies. The recipe was easy to follow and i thought lemon and butter would make a wondeful combination. As i ran out of unsalted butter, i decided to tweak the recipe to suit my needs.

The cookies turned out wonderful. At first, I was sceptical about the taste and the texture. However, cookies turned out to be crisp and these lovely bites give off a burst of fragrant lemony flavour when popped into the mouth. This is good news for me, as i have another good cookie recipe to keep and bake for my loved ones.

Lemon Cookies

200g unsalted butter, softened
80g caster sugar
grated zest from 2 lemons
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
240g self raising flour

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
2) Place butter, sugar, lemon zests and juice into a mixing bowl and beat until mixture is pale and fluffy
3) Sift flour into butter mixture and beat to form a soft dough.
4) Spoon dough into a ziplock bag. Snip off one corner and pipe out 3cm circles onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Alternatively, chill dough in the refirgerator for 1 hour or till firm. Spoon out levelled teaspoonfuls of dough onto baking trays and flatten slightly into circular discs.
5) Bake for 12-15mins. Leave to cool on baking tray for 5 mins before leaving to cool completely on wire rack

Busy with school!

Whew! Seems like i haven been updating my blog for nearly 2 months. This is a crucial and most tiring period of my sch life. However in the meanwhile, i have not stopped baking, not a bit. Looking at the pictures i took, i think i have tons of backlog to clear. There is the CNY bake, chocolate truffles for my best friend's farewell and the eclaires. Will try to publish these posts soon...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mocha Truffle Cookies

Hmm... Mocha Truffle Cookies.. Sounds exciting and delicious. That was the first impression i got when i was reading this recipe. What I liked about this recipe was that I had all the ingredients and did not have to run around to shop for other required ingredients.
Instead of following the recipe and dropping tablespoons of cookie dough, I dropped teaspoons of dough onto the baking tray. For the first batch, I baked them at 180 degrees C for 12 minutes. I then baked them for 7 minutes for the subsequent batches.
When I tasted the cookies, I got a surprise. The 1st batch of cookies turned out to be crisp and chewy. You could still see grains of brown sugar when you chew into the cookie. For the susequent batches, the texture was fudgey. After two days, I realised that the cookies tasted even better and the flavour has matured. There is this light coffee fragrance when you sniff the cookies.
I have problems taking pictures of chocolate confections. They always turn out to be a pile of dark brown mess. To make things worst, I have the tendency to bake in the evening. Under such lighting conditions, the pictures turn out to be disatrous. In order to take pictures of the cookies, I had to wait till morning when the lighting condition is brighter.
Mocha Truffle Cookies

55g butter
50g chocolate
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
130g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
90 caster sugar
60 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
60 g chopped nuts

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
2) Place a metal mixing bowl over a pan filled with water. Ensure that the base of the bowl do not come in contact with the base of the pan, use a suitable size pan to do so.
3) Melt butter, chocolate and the coffee powder over the pan. The steam from the water will heat up the mixing bowl and melt the contents. Stir to obtain a smooth mixture. Leave to cool slightly.
4) Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together into a bowl. Add in eggs, both the caster sugar and brown sugar and the chocolate mixture obtained from 3). Mix well to form a dough. Lastly, incoporate the nuts to the dough.
5) Drop levelled tablespoonful of dough onto baking tray. Leave some space between each dough. Bake for 12 minutes. The dough should rise and puff up. Leave on wire rack to cool before storing in airtight container.

Things to note:

1) Vary baking time to get desired texture
2) Use an electric mixer to mix the sugar into the dough more evenly.

Birthday cake for Eve!



This cake was baked for my friend's 23rd birthday. I was comtemplating between doing a blueberry cheesecake and a chocolate cake. Decided to go ahead with the blueberry cheesecake since it was easier to handle and I was confident the cake would look nice at least. From my experience with cheesecakee, they are quite easy to decorate. There is not need to bother with smoothing the surface and sides if proper lining is prepared.

The recipe for this cake comes from this book named Catherine Lau's Cheesecake Seduction. The cakes featured are mouth watering and the recipes work out quite well with minimum adjustments needed. I ran out of ideas when i tried to decorate the blueberry topping. Was pondering what would look nice on top of a dark purple background. In the end, I thought that the fresh redness of strawberries would add a nice contrast to the blueberry toppings.

Everything went smoothly. The cake was set, the toppings and decorations were decent. However, i find that the cake was a bit too soft when i was eating it. Not sure if it is because it has been left out of the refrigerator for some time or that i did not bake the cheesecake long enough. Or it could have been that i did not whipped the batter until it thickens. It took me 70 minutes to bake this cheesecake. This is considered long as i only take 40 minutes to bake a New York cheesecake of the same volume.

Perhaps next time i will leave out the cornstarch and beat the whipping cream before adding mixing. Hopefully that will help me get a texture i am satisfied with.

Welcome 2009


My friends and I decided to have a potluck cum mini BBQ at East Coast Park on New Year's Eve. I flipped through some recipes and decided to do - pizza slice! It looked appetizing in the pictures and I was praying that mine would turn out well.

The original recipe called for ready made puff pastry. I did not have that in hand hence I decided to use pie pastry instead. For me, the challenge was the pastry base. I did not have any prior experience doing the pie pastry. In this attempt, the pie pastry did not turn out as well. It became soggy after i added tomato paste and the rest of the toppings. Perhaps i did not let my pastry base cool before adding the toppings.

There was this grave mistake I made while adding the toppings. The recipe indicated oregano herb to be added and i used dried rosemary instead. Little did I know that rosemary gives of a very strong and bitter taste. To think that the label even mentioned that rosemary is suitable for pizzas. Yucks! I am never ever going to touch rosemary again. Apart from the rosemary misfortune, the toppings turn out well. The toppings were simple yet they blended harmoniously. My elder brother and his girlfriend commented that i added too much capsicum and I can add in sausages and mushrooms.

This recipe is worth a second attempt man! Next time round, I will make sure the pie pastry turns out better. Imagine adding cheese sausages, button mushrooms, black pepper ham, onions, tomato paste and cheese and topping them all over the base... yummy! Shall post the recipe when I am satisfied with my next attempt. Stay tuned..

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Orange and Lime Cheesecake


I am starting to get addicted to cheesecakes. This was one that I made for last year's Xmas gathering. I am particularly satisfied with this cheesecake. My very first attempt on this recipe turned out good in terms of taste and appearance. It was dense yet creamy enough in texture and the taste was that of combined citrus and condensed milk.

The fun part was preparing and decorating top of the cake. For this cake, i used candied lime and orange zest. After experimenting and twisting the slices, I managed to come up with a simple yet elegant decoration. That sure gave me a great sense of satisfaction. Haha, I felt pro for a moment then.

Orange and Lime Cheesecake (recipe adapted from Fresh and Tasty Biscuits and Cakes)
Serving size: 8 -10 slices
Equipment and materials:
1) Stand electric beater/ handheld electric beater
2) Food processor/ rolling pin
3) Measuring spoon set
4) Spatula
5) Mixing bowls
6) Wire rack
7) 18cm (7 inch) springform tin
8) Baking tray larger than springform tin
9) Aluminium foil

Biscuit base:
110g digestive biscuits finely crushed
50g melted butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Cheesecake filling:
250g cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tsp finely grated lime zest (I used australian lime)
4 tsp orange juice, strained
4 tsp lime juice, strained
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml condensed milk
2 1/2 tbs whipping cream

1) Prepare biscuit base as mentioned in Preparing a Cheesecake Tin. Freeze prepared base for 10 minutes or until ready for use.
2) Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
4) Place cream cheese, sugar,the zests and juices and beat until creamy. Add in the egg and mix until just combined.
5) Lastly, add in condensed milk then and fold in the cream until well combined.
6) Pour cheesecake filling onto prepared biscuit base.
7) Wrap top and sides of spring form tin with aluminium foil as mentioned in Preparing a Cheesecake Tin. Bake at 160 degrees C for 45 minutes in a water bath.
8) When baked, allow cheesecake to cool in the oven with oven door ajar for 30 minutes.
9) Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
10) Place cooled cheesecake tin in the refrigerator and chill for 4-6 hours. Dislodge cheesecake from cheesecake tin.

1) To slice cheesecake nicely, wipe the knife after each slice with kitchen towel/s.
2) To smooth the sides of the cheesecake, dip a knife in hot water. Wipe the knife dry and run it around the perimeter of the cheesecake. Repeat the step if necessary.

Gingerbread Cookies


Ok here goes another delayed post. Gingerbread cookies are the best in representing the Xmas mood. They come in attractive shapes and are adorned with colourful icings. I tried baking these cookies for the first time and it sure was a tiring attempt. It was like a cookie baking marathon for me when i was trying to bake these and the chocolate chip cookies.

These cookies had a slight spicy ginger taste and the tone of brown is on the light side. I find these cookies rather soft. Perhaps they are meant to be like that. The tough part when baking these cookies is cutting the dough and placing them on the baking tray. When handling the soft cut-out dough, i had problems trying not to disfigure the gingerbreadman and break them. Even after much chilling, the dough was still too soft to handle for big cut out shapes like the gingerbread man.

When preparing the icing, I had some doubts. The icing consisted mainly icing sugar and egg whites. What i was doubtful was whether uncooked eggwhites would be safe for consumption. From what i have gathered, it seems that uncooked egg whites has antibacterial properties. Once again, having to bake several batches of cookies and putting the icing on took me quite a few hours. If only there were someone who could help me out and lighten my load. I realise baking can be quite time consuming and laborious.

I was glad that the cookies turned out somewhat presentable. Good thing i had green food colouring in hand and it suited the Xmas mood. I thought the icing looked attractive and added much life to the cookies. In the end i decided only to put icing on the smalled cut-out cookies and not the gingerbread man as i was afraid that the gingerbread man cookies will break.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


For Xmas i decided to bake Chocolate chip cookies for my friends. This was my 3rd time baking these cookies and i was pretty confident they would turn out well. These cookies never failed to amaze me. One of my friend whom i had known since Sec Sch joked that i bought the cookie from famous amos and passed them off as my baked cookies. Another friend commented that they tasted really nice and i can start to sell cookies. I thought that i would suffer a lost if i start to make these cookies since it takes me 2 hours to get one recipe quantity of cookies done. Not to mention there is still the tedious washing up to do and mess to clear. Arghh!!! That is the part i hated most!...

Well, I'm not trying to boast or anything. It is just that the recipe is really a good one hence the cookies always turn out to be pleasent smelling and cripsy. I would say they are 80% as good as famous amos cookies. The original recipe called for chopped nuts but i ommited them and added more chocolate chips instead. This is definitely one recipe i would greatly recommend!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe kindly shared by Hugbear from Bakingmum)

125g butter softened at room temperature
75g caster sugar
60ml brown sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon or 7 drops of vanilla essence
150g plain flour
45g cornflour
1/2 tsp bicarbonanate of soda (baking soda)
pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
60g chopped nuts
125g chocolate chips (use more if desired)

1) Cream butter with both sugars till light, pale and fluffy. Beat egg with vanilla and add to butter mixture. Mix well.
2) Sift plain flour, cornflour, baking soda and salt together and add to the mixture in 1). Mix until a soft dough is obtained. Do not overmix.
3) Stir in chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
4) Drop levelled teaspoons of cookies onto baking tray lined with baking paper.
5) Bake at 180 degrees C for 18-20mins. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Things to note:
1) If nuts are ommitted, chill shaped dough for 30 minutes before baking to prevent dough from spreading too much and ending up with flat shaped cookies.
2) Chilling and addition of nuts prevent cookies from excessive spreading.
3) If dough is too sticky to handle, chill dough for 40minutes before shaping. The dough should harden and become less sticky.

Chocolate Mud Cheesecake

choc mud cheesecake

Tried baking this cheesecake from Catherine Lau's Cheesecake Seduction. I made a mistake by not following the recipe exactly and substituting whipping cream with nestle cream in order to save cost. After having done so i realised that maybe nestle cream isnt so suitable for cake making afterall. It had a strong smell as compared to normal chilled cream. If i had used whipping cream, i think the cheesecake would have turned out creamier. The cheesecake that i baked turned out to be a dense mud chocolate cheesecake. It tasted funny and a bit salty, perhaps due to the nestle cream. However, after chilling the cake for 2 days, the taste improved and the funny taste was gone. Well, i read that cheesecakes mature their flavour when they are chilled for a longer period of time.

Quite a pity that the cake looked good but the taste wasnt what i expected. I am definitely going to try this recipe again next time. For my second attempt, i will make sure that i stick to the recipe closely.

Sultana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whew! It had been a busy period for me during Xmas and New Year. This post should have came up much earlier.
I wasnt satisfied with my maiden attempt on muffin baking. It turned out slightly stiff and kueh like in texture. The taste was bland and the muffin stucked to the paper liners. I guess i slightly overmixed the batter. The ideal batter should be lumpy while i tried to break up the lumps.
On my second attempt, the muffins did not turned out good either. The batter was very watery which i though was because i had added too much orange juice.
With some perseverance, i managed to get decent muffins on my 3rd attempt. This time round i mixed the liquid and dry ingredients until they were just nicely combined. The muffins came out to be soft, fluffy and kueh-like. Hmm... I wonder if authentic muffins are supposed to be like this.
After having done some reading on muffins, my understanding is that there is generally 2 kinds of muffins. One is by using melted butter while the other is by the creaming butter method. The muffins derived from these two methods are totally different in texture. Muffins yielded by the previous method would be slightly kueh-like while the latter kind of muffins are more cake-like. The muffins that i attempted belongs to the first category. In my opinion, muffins done by the creaming butter method are no different from cupcakes. In actual fact, i feel that majority of muffins you find in stores are fluffy and cake-like. Tastewise, i think that cake-like muffins seem to be more agreeable with my palate.
The original recipe that i followed called for blueberries. Thinking that fresh blueberries would not be so easily available in supermarkets, i substituted them with sultanas and choc chips that i had in hand. The amount of sugar used in this recipe is on the low side hence the resulting taste of the muffin is light. This is compensated by the sweetness and aroma of the sultanas and chocolate chips.
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