Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas with Macarons and a tower

Merry Christmas to all readers. Made some chrismassy macarons this year - again. This time, the colors are more bold and the chocolate ganache was pretty awesome.
As you can see, I have attempted to build my own macaron tower. Always wanted to and finally got down to it in 2013. Not easy as it looks. Had great trouble sticking those red and greenies on the tower. Lesson learned was always count (and count accurately) the number of macarons you have at hand before building your tower. You would not want to end up like me making do with extras to cover up the gaps. Seriously, I thought I had enough macs to go round the tower but again, it was pure estimation. Anyway, I had many likes on my facebook...
Would I create this tower again for 2014. No way:)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Baked some cupcakes for my son's birthday last weekend. Decided on the chocolate banana cupcakes as seen on the Joy of Baking site.

The cupcakes were indeed moist and delicious. Must be the use of oil instead of butter as stated in the recipe.
The first batch baked followed the recipe to the T. But I found them a tad salty so for the next batch, I skipped the salt. Tasted much better. On the video, a very, very ripe banana - near the blacken stage, was used. The bananas I used were ripe, not over-ripe but ripe. Am keeping a couple of bananas and waiting for them to turn nearly 'black' before baking another batch of cupcakes.
You know, these cupcakes are special, not only they were baked for my son, but they were an instant hit with my wife. She devoured them. Wish she would do the same for my other bakes...:)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wholemeal dinner rolls

Decided on making these wholemeal rolls for dinner tonight. I am not the health conscious one in the family. Made especially for my Hone and one of the boys. The latter has been asking for staples like brown rice and steamed fish...hmm.
The question is - what goes with these rolls? The last time I made these wholemeal buns were for my teriyaki chicken. But tonight, it is grab-what-you-can in the fridge. As for me, I am going to slather them with salted butter. That is all. Taste good on their own - but better with butter. Maybe I should also grill the processed frozen hamburgers to go with the rolls.
I am going to leave the rest of the family with what is available if the hamburgers are not what they have in mind tonight.
Anyway, I should attempt this easy-to-make rolls again and carefully select the oven temperature to make those rolls less burnt looking. Oh yes, I reckon I should brush egg white or an beaten egg on the dough to give them that gloss.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tiger Prawns and Mango Salsa

I have finally succumbed to it! I have defiled my blog by posting something unrelated to baking. I have of late decided to venture into the realms of haute cuisine or rather pseudo haute cuisine (if there exists such a thing).
This Tiger Prawn Mango Salsa is a start - may be my last...but nevertheless, I attempted to whip up something edible that is so MasterChef like.
I took the recipe from Daniel Green and this salsa, and for his other recipes too, has a strong Thai influence. The verdict: Not bad. Spicy enough for me as I added cut chilli padi. The salsa is nicely balanced with the sweet and ripe mango pieces and a dash of lime juice. Although the recipe called for the prawns to be plainly cooked, I could not resist but to marinate them in pepper and soy sauce before giving them a shallow frying.
Well, we shall see if I would be posting more food stuff instead of cakes and pastries.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mango & Macadamia Nut Loaf

I have been baking and referring to a couple of recipes by the Dean Brettschneider. So far, the 4 recipes I tried were - 5 Spice Chocolate & Almond Macarons, Farmhouse Carrot Cake with Natural Yoghurt, Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns and this Mango & Macadamia Nut Loaf. The outcome? All turned out well and looked exactly like the pictures in his books! Can you believe it? They tasted awesome too!
The cakes were very moist, nicely densed and flavoured. In all of the above cakes and buns, 5 spice powder and mixed spices, amongst other spices, were required. But I must confess I added half the quantity as suggested. I reckoned the spices would overpower and affect the entire cake experience. Well, I am glad I did but really, if you are one of those who does not mind the aroma of spices or tasting more than a hint of spices in the cakes or buns, then by all means go ahead and follow the amount suggested.
To date, I have only referred to two of his books, The Global Baker and New World Baking. For the clueless ones, Dean has set up his bakery in Singapore under the banner of Bake & Cook. Although he hails from New Zealand, he does come down often to the City and I do hope to meet him one day. He has replied to an email I sent him with regard to his recipe on the 5 Spice Chocolate and Almond Macarons and I am certain he will answer all queries in future.
I have provided the link to his website where you are able to get a few recipes: Go try them out!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



I guess oreos cookies are every one's favourite. They are certainly my family's fav cookies as they are always in stock in our pantry.
Saw these beautiful coal-like macarons at a popular bistro and was spurred to try making them.

I was glad I bought the right powder - bamboo charcoal powder - to give these beauties that glossy jet black. A little expensive though but gained satisfaction when the colors turned out as I had wanted (see my post on My Macarons - A Grey Issue dated 14 May 2011). Guess I had come a long, long way as far as my macs are concerned.
Only grouse is that I was too generous with the oreos cookies and thus the buttercream turned out thick and chunky. Well, can we ever get enough?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mozart and Mont Blanc in Japan

I had wanted to blog about my recent solo trip to Japan, covering 6 cities within 10 days. Used to go there at least once a year (for the past 4 years) with my family. But this blog is a food blog that details my journey as a self-professed amateur baker. So to make it relevant for this blog, I will post the cakes I tried in Okayama and Kyoto.

The one above was bought from a cake store, Mozart, along a quiet stretch of street in Okayama, Japan. I had decided to walk from the main train station to the Okayama Castle, (about 2 kilometres only) and that is when I noticed the quaint 'French' store.

I popped in and was impressed by the range of cakes available. Picked one with a tiny macaron on it and up to today, I do not know what it is called in English.
 As I sat at the nearby Korakuen garden, I took in the scenic view along the river. The grand castle is at the background and the cute statue of a naked child holding up a peach stood in front of me. Seems that the people of Okayama believe that the child was born from a peach and it has come to be associated with the city. I met an old Japanese couple and with her smattering English, the lady told me I made a smart move to buy a cake from Okayama's famous cake store, Mozart. Boy, was that music to my ears.
Next stop, Kyoto. Saw this French bakery in one of the subway malls. Mont Blac! Always wanted to try it and taste the smoothness of the chestnut cream.

Verdict: Good. But again, that was my first taste of a Mont Blanc.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Brownies as promised


In my previous post, like many weeks ago, I mentioned that after my newly renovated kitchen is done, one of  the many things I would like to bake is brownies. It was about 2 years ago that I posted a blog on my brownies using the recipe from Bill's Basic by Bill Granger. I have decided to do them again.
A very simple and straightforward recipe, like any brownies recipes. I only left out the chopped chocolates as suggested. Instead, I added 1/2 tsp of Orange essence to lend that tinge of orange flavour and a hint of citrus in this recipe.

Tasted just as good as my previous attempts. Love the harden top - sweet, soft and crusty. Guess one big let down is my photography. I don't seem to be able to take good, sharp shots of these dark brownies. Any tips? By the way, if you need the recipe, drop me a line.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baking Break

Guess I have to get it off my chest. I am too eager to start on my baking frenzy again. Need that patience. I have decided to collapse three kitchens - one wet, one dry and an outdoor - to just two. Reno works started like a month ago and now is the last lap. Waiting for the cabinets and my island. Yes, finally having an island to work on !
I have already lined up a couple of bakes which include my Chocolate Brownies (new recipe), all time favourite Green Tea Chiffon (by all time favourite I mean to just me, myself and I) and my iced lemon cookies. Bought those cookie cutters from William Sonoma but never got to use them. And hey, the long term holidays are approaching. What good timing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taste of Chocolate - Macarons

It is rather late for me to say that these chocolate macarons were my Valentine's gift to my wife. I made them only after 14th February. I made them a week later and I am now posting this blog. How late can one be. But it is the thought that counts.
Well, 'thoughts' as it remains. After making them, I did not present her the macarons but simply left them in the refrigerator - own time own target - help yourself to them, so to speak. Isn't it terrible? Dying romance, one would say? At least it is not dead!
No, I have to qualify. It was mutual and I mean me and my wife understood the situation back then on the14th. Let's hope history will not repeat itself. By the way, for those keen in learning to make macarons, I suggest you surf the net. You'll get lots of recipes and advice. The thing is - keep working on it. I am doing just that.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sugee Cake

I have been thinking of what to bake this Chinese New Year. Macarons came to mind. What if I made macarons with mandarin orange buttercream fillings? Would that not be appropriate for New Year, albeit a touch of French? But I had wanted something to represent gold; celebration; something I have not done before...a sugee cake!

I trawled the net while ignoring the few recipes that were printed in the books I had. I came across a recipe from a blog post in Looks easy, sounds easy and so little fuss. I gave it a shot.
I followed the recipe closely and I took up the tips of using less sugar (well not much, 240g) and replaced the buttercream essence with rum - 2 tbsp and let it soak, baby!

Pretty pleased with the final product. Moist and butter-ry. I guess the evaporated milk helps to make it more moist. Feedback from family members was that while it tasted great, there were not enough of the semolina. So totally agree. Point taken and I may increase the amount of semolina or perhaps go for a different brand the next time. No matter. I am glad I attempted making a sugee cake. So thanks, Ju, for the recipe.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Make not lemonade but Lemon Chiffon

As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. For me, in 2013, I make Lemon Chiffon. The reasons I decided to do a lemon version are - one of my Christmas presents from my boys is a reamer and the other, I wanted to adapt a recipe from a book I got my hands on ie  Vintage Cakes: More Than 90 Heirloom Recipes for Tremendously Good Cakes by Jane Brocket. Notice the cup at the background in the picture below? They were flown in from the US and each of these 6 cups depicts the two different days of Christmas. Awesome! Gonna pass them down to the next generation.
Tweaking the recipe produced a cake that was moist, light, flavorful and tangy. However, I wished it was a little more light and less compact. I reckoned it could be the brand of flour I used and the amount of lemon juice which I liberally added (no mention of lemon juice in the recipe and so I wondered how it could be called a Lemon Chiffon)
Lemon Chiffon Cake (adapted from Vintage Cakes)

For the cake
6 eggs separated and an additional of 2 egg whites
230g Japanese wheat flour
10g baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
300g caster sugar (150g for the dry ingredients and 150g for the egg whites)
125ml vegetable oil
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
100ml of water
50ml of lemon juice (approx as amount is up to the individual)
1 tsp of cream of tartar and 
1tsp of vanilla extract (optional)

For the glaze
600g icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C
2. Separate the 6 eggs and combine the egg whites with egg whites from 2 additional eggs
3. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk it with a hand whisk - just to mix them up or you could sieve the dry ingredients
4. Add the caster sugar and combine it with the (3)
5. Make a well in the center and add the yolks, lemon zest, oil, water and lemon juice
6. Using a hand held mixer, beat till well combined
7. Place egg whites in a clean bowl
8. Whisk them till gentle peaks form then add the cream of tartar, caster sugar and vanilla extract, whisking till completely smooth
9. Spoon the egg whites into the sponge batter and fold them in carefully
10. Pour the batter into a 24cm cake tin
11. Pour excess batter into mini chiffon cake tins (optional)
12. Bake the cake for 40min - 50min. Insert a skewer to see if it comes out clean
13. Once cake is done, remove from the oven and invert the cake. Let it cool completely before removing from cake tin

To make the glaze
1. Combine the lemon juice and icing sugar till you get a light and runny texture
2. Drizzle the runny icing sugar on the cooled cake
There you go, Lemon Chiffon. On hindsight, I should have followed the recipe and try it out. Hmm...