Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CHRISTMAS!


Christmas is just around the corner and after all the dazzling goodies and log cakes, I must say I still love cookies the best! Though I haven't really been to orchard road to soak myself in the Christmas atmosphere and pretty lights these cookies sure edged me into the Christmas mood. From the dough, to the aroma when they're baking away in the oven, till the time their out and finally with that icing that makes all the difference (appearance I mean)! I'm so lovin it! =p



I'm ashamed to say that after years of baking, its my very first making a gingerbread man (though not gingerbread flavoured) but hey! it's still a milestone isn't it. haha. And the thought of those few wiggly lines, dots and ribbons making the whole gingerbread come to life, I couldn't contain that excitement and I knew I had to make a few more batches to give away as gifts. 

D was also really psyched when he saw those lying on the baking tray and immediately asked if I was free to bake some for his colleagues! Though it meant I had to spend more time baking extras (other than the order on hand), but it also meant some fun time together! Well, now I'm toying with the idea of making these for my friends. Packed nicely in a plastic pack, sealed and tied with a pretty ribbon, just how I love it!

Now, I hope I've spurred YOU (yes, you who is reading this post now) to get crackin and make some homemade goodies for your friends. Though "inexpensive", but sure packs a load of love and sincerity. No?

Recipe below!

Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients:
100g Salted butter, cubed and softened
  80g Caster sugar
    1   Egg Yolk
190g Plain Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (or Vanilla bean paste if you have)

Method:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until well combined. 
    *Mixture doesn't have to be light and fluffy as we do not want the cookies to expand too much 
      during baking
2. Stir in the egg yolk until well combined.
3. Add in the flour, 1/3 at a time until a dough is formed. If dough is too soft to handle, cling wrap the dough and place it in the refrigerator for about 15-30 min to allow it to firm up a little. 
    *I usually split the dough into 2 and refrigerate one portion while I start working on the other. 
4. Roll out the dough on a piece of parchement paper in between 2 chopsticks (one pair) to ensure uniform thickness.
5. Get your favorite cookie cutter and stamp away! Gather the scraps and re-roll until the dough is used up. 
6. Place the cut-out dough on the baking tray and bake at 180C for 10-15 min (longer baking time require for larger cookies) or until the edges are lightly browned.

variations: 
Chocolate cookie
*Use 20g cocoa powder + 170g Plain flour instead

Orange/Lemon cookie
*Use 1 tsp or orange/lemon oil + finely grated zest of 1 orange/lemon

Royal Icing recipe

Ingredients:
2 tsp   Meringue powder
2 tbsp Water
165 g  Icing sugar

Method:
1. In a small mixing bowl, mix together meringue powder and water. Using an electric mixer, whip will soft peaks form.
2. Add icing sugar gradually and mix on high speed until medium peaks. *This consistency is good for piping
3. To colour (or flood the icing), add water, bit by bit until you get a consistency that resembles a syrup. 


Monday, December 20, 2010

Bloggers Meet-up!......in KL!!

I can't imagine how long has it been since I last blogged. So much has happened during the time I was absent and I must say that one of the best things was that I got to meet so many wonderful people during my short short trip to KL! I got to meet so many great bloggers from Malaysia (Wendy from table for 2 or more, Swee San from  and me, being REALLY honoured to be the FIRST singaporean blogger some of them have met! *drum roll please* =ppp

photo courtesy of Swee San

Photo courtesy of Pei-Lin

They are such amazing people, it must be one of the best things that happened to me while blogging! Travelling up north and meeting a bunch of strangers isn't the wisest thing to do. But, boy, was I glad I took the "risk"!

Pei-Lin was really nice and wanted me to have some real authentic malaysian food. Well, if you know Singapore and Malaysia well enough, you'd find it hard sometimes to distinguish the local hawker fares. We have much in similarity when it comes to food (with the exception of the price ) that sometimes it's a little difficult to trace the authenticity. But I learnt one thing on my trip up north this time is that, Hokkien Mee in Singapore = White and Malaysian Hokkien Mee = Black. Hang on, while you try to say "but". I know we do serve black hokkien mee in Singapore. However, the noodles used in Malaysia to fry the hokkien mee is different and somehow, it looked like udon to me when it was first served. Now, THAT'S a difference, right? One other thing I realised is that I think we're heavier on the seasonings here in Singapore. Despite calls to healthier eating habits, I think we do add a tad too much salt into our food. 

photo courtesy of Pei-Lin

Don't be fooled by the colour appearance of this dish, if you think it packs a punch of salt, you're wrong, but it does indeed pack a punch of flavours! What's really amazing is that it actually doesn't come with that bitter noodle after-taste you often get (if you know what I mean). To top off the goodness, the tiny pieces of fried pork lard, fried to crispy perfection was the oomph! you'd get in a mouthful! Well, of course, as the cardiologist would advise, we'd better stay away from lard for the better of our hearts. But hey! it's ok to indulge once in a while isn't it? =X

After the wonderful meal and relaxing trip, I was back to busy busy life as usual, typical city people and *ah hem* of course, with a tiny lazy bug planted deep within, this post got neglected and so was my poor blog. Besides the fact that I was lazy, the conversations that revolved around blogging, baking, food and more baking, made me ponder alot about the nature of blogging. The unspoken rules, manners, must-dos, don't-dos, suddenly made blogging seem like a daunting and scary thing to do, start or continue. 

And of course, I concluded on my own that blogging has evolved over the years and what initially started out as a "online diary", "personal log book", "personal journal", "a place to keep track of fill-in-the-blank", sometimes evolved into a responsibility (not for oneself, but for others) or even as a marketing tool. 

I have to admit that at some point in time, I felt pressure to increase readership and to make it more "happening". But at the end of the day, I want to still be able to enjoy blogging as much as I did before. I did not want blogging to become a pressure, a "homework" that I had to hand in every other few days, nor did I want it to be a burden of some sort. I don't doubt the internet as a very useful, fast and efficient tool, but I still do believe in blogging with sincerity and honesty. 

Note: 

This post is purely based on my personal opinions and generalisation and no particular person, blog or organisation were intended at. Any similarities, likeness are purely conincidental. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A prelude..

Well, before I get crushed under the amount of fondant I'm dealing with, let me sneak in a quick post. A short, quick one before I get busy and have no time for my blogoversary.

I haven't been treating this blog very well for some time now, but I still want to thank every single person out there who has came and who are still coming to read my shout-outs and ramblings. I hope those who have found my blog helpful in some way or another, be it related or non-related to baking, continue to spread and share the knowledge , tying in with the spirit of Christmas (which is to come).

There are just a few quick "announcements" I have to make =) Firstly, after struggling for months at my job as a laboratory executive, I finally made a decision to leave my footprints in the laboratory and continue my journey elsewhere. Here comes the exciting part! I am officially baking at Whisk and Fold (as a community baker) and my goodies are officially, legally up for sale!!  We're now operating from a NEA licensed kitchen which is also halal certified! 

Visit our website (www.sweetcouturecakes.com) for more details on how to place your orders! 

Continuing on this piece of news, we're also about to launch our christmas goodies in a week or two, so keep your eyes peeled for more updates!

Till then, an early happy blogoversary to loving baking! =D

Thursday, November 4, 2010

long overdue

If ever there was an overdue fine imposed for blogging, I would have lost my entire life savings by now. But, thank goodness no such rule was ever imposed, not now, and I hope, not ever.

However, that still doesn't give me an excuse to not to post as frequently. There were many changes and many still on-going, the thought of trying to juggle many things at once proved even more difficult and challenging than I thought. Since when has life has been a bed of roses? Sure enough there were good times, but it is also the bad times that made the good times seem even better. No?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in some dire situation now nor am I facing bankruptcy. Just my two cents worth after busying around in a entirely different way. And as with all life matters and activities, it's a love-hate relationship. 

Anyhow, I havent been able to bake for leisure and for fun for sometime now, but I have definitely some backlogs that I've yet to clear. A colleague actually asked if she could come over to my place to bake a cheesecake for her boyfriend's birthday. Naturally I'd be more than happy to agree. Not being a cheesecake expert, she actually thoughtfully researched and e-mailed me 2 recipes she carefully selected out of the thousands.

So I decided to bake both at home, let her taste test and see which made her jump for excitement. 


First up! Chocolate marbled cheesecake. I never really had any affinity with beautiful, jaw dropping marble swirls and this was my *ah hem* lousy attempt in doing so. This cheesecake is pretty dense and rich with a distinct sour tang from the sour cream. The recipe actually called for creme fraiche but I decided it wasn't cost effective,hence I replaced it for sour cream. 


Next up! A rich, dense chocolatey chocolate cheese cake. The base was made with digestive biscuits with sugar and cocoa powder. The 100% chocolate cheesecake was a tad too rich for my liking and in my opinion would have scored a better rating if the base was a normal fragrant digestive biscuit base. Despite the full chocolate cheesecake, it was surprisingly better than the marbled cheesecake. 

So, we agreed that if you marry the both, base from number one plus cheese part from number 2, you'd get a winner. Of course we felt the whole chocolate thing was a tad too dull and plain and we played around with ideas such as, to add some ferrero rocher into it etc. 

And obviously, I haven't got to that part. I'm still clinging on to this thought though and hoping that it would materialise one day. =p


Have you ever had friends who known you for a lifetime and have seen your recent craze in this mad indulgence in baking and all that photos you posted on the blog, BUT, have never ever seen or tried your yummy bakes ever?

It's funny how I'm frequently caught in such awkward situations. Friends whom I've known for life have yet to taste a single cake/cookies/anything-i-have-baked. 

Deciding that it was too much for her to bear, and to show her unwavering, loving support she requested me to bake a black forest cake for her. And to be honest, I've never quite got around to baking a black forest cake. Although, it's kinda like THE birthday cake most of us used to get during our birthdays.

Nonetheless, I was happy to have embarked on this maiden attempt and have found this magical kirsch gel thingy that is packed with such strong alcohol content. It wasn't as difficult as I imagined and the chocolate curls really did save my life for the botched sides. They certainly are an easy way out for beautifying a cake =p

More details on the recipes soon! For now, I've gotta run!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chocolate crunchy mousse


I've been away for a while, but I haven't been idling! I have a few bakes that has been sitting in a folder on my desktop for a while now. If I wasn't going to post them any sooner, it may have been never. 

I wonder how many of you ever had a slice of the Guanaja, a chocolate cake from Rive Gauche. I had mine first at a friend's birthday dinner and fell in love with it ever since. That bittersweet chocolate accompanied with the slightly sweet and crunchy biscuit base was to-die-for. It had almost been forever that I tried to get the praline biscuit bottom right and I never truly succeeded. The next time I had a chance to sink my teeth into these delectable slices was during my younger sister's birthday back in April when I decided it was the best excuse chance to get this as a birthday cake for her. Everyone raved about the cake and as for me, I sat near the cake, chomping down as many as I could, hoping no one had really noticed.

The next few months were pure torture whenever I thought of and craved for this cake and finally my wish came true when my cousin bought that same cake for his sister's birthday in July. 

The attraction of this cake continued to mystify me despite the various attempts are trying out to formulate its composition. Finally! The opportunity emerged when I had much success with the Japanese dark pearl. I realised that the Japanese dark pearl was able to stay nice and moist despite being in the fridge which meant it could be the perfect sponge base for the cake I was dreaming of. Needless to say, the dark intensifying chocolate taste in the cake itself meant that I need not worry about bland chocolate flavours in the mousse.

I had, on many occasions, tried searching for a good praline feuilettine base to to no avail. I read that people replace feuilettine with cornflakes and I've tried and failed. The cornflakes were too hard to bite into and the corn taste was just too overpowering. I knew that if I didn't try it soon, it'll never happen. So, I went ahead, searched for various recipes and mixed and match, altered this and that. 


TA-DA! Here it is! My very own version of "Guanaja" which I call, "chocolate crunchy mousse". Now, I've got the taste right, but the presentation failed. The ganache topping cracked real badly over a night in the fridge. I have desperately tried searching for an answer but have found nothing really helpful. All I could speculate now is the temperature of the cake, ganache and fridge. The only logical explanation I have is that, the cake shrunk whilst in the fridge which caused the semi-set ganache to be "torn apart" during the contraction.

Does anyone out there meet with similar problems? Hopefully someone could point me to the right direction =)

Till then...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Japanese Dark Pearl Cake




For some unknown reason, baking with chocolate always seems like a whole new science to me. Sometimes the recipe works, sometimes it doesn't. And as such, recipes with melted chocolate always leave me procrastinating, longer than usual. 

This Japanese Dark Pearl cake is no exception. I recalled being soooo intrigued by Bee Bee's post, that I jumped right at trying it out. Baking chiffons has always been a challenge to me, and I dare say, many other home bakers as well. Heard of those horror stories of cake collapsing, shrinking, fell like a bomb from the chiffon tin, I've been there, done that. Having had much success with an orange chiffon, then a pandan chiffon, I wondered if I could move on to the chocolate chiffon. 

Well I thought with a scoff, that's simple, just substitute part of the flour with cocoa powder. Ain't that easy? No. Not until I saw aunty yochana's post of this mysterious Japanese Dark Pearl Cake via HoneyBeeSweets.
I saw the texture and colour of Bee Bee's cake and it was simply screaming "chocolate overload!!!". How else would you get such deep, intense chocolate flavour with just cocoa powder in a chiffon?! Duh, melted dark chocolate!

I jumped right at the chance to try it out, it was the moment recipe I was waiting for. Then I read the comments at aunty yochana's and saw a number of "failures" and the debate about whether there was enough flour. I left a comment at Bee Bee's and her success was an assurance to me, so ahead, I went. I can't remember exactly what was I trying to bake or assemble, but I recalled being totally defeated while mixing the batter. The flour was soooo little, the chocolate relatively more and the egg yolk/cocoa batter was so thick and gooey, my arms ached while mixing them together. Even my whisk threated to fall apart because of its sticky pressure.  For some very odd reason, I can't recall what happened after that. I couldn't even remember if the batter made it into the oven, and if it did, did it even made its way to our tummies. I could only conclude that the failure was so disastrous that my memory had even refused to recall that sad episode.

 
I chanced upon this Dark Pearl Cake back right where I first saw it last night and was determined to make it right this time. I must say that the bad experience hit so hard, I had trouble sleeping. Wondering if it would be a success and wondering if I would be wasting a good 150g of Valrhona chocoalte. -_-'''

By the time I gathered enough courage to go ahead with this once-failed-cake , I had to realised that:

1. my cream of tartar expired. Just great
2. I had ZERO baking soda. even better

I was stunned and literally stared at the bowl of melted chocolate. I thought "It's might not work anyway, just do it. And if it works, all the more better isn't it?" . How naive isn't it? Read on..

Since the failure of the last attempt, I decided the batter had to be much much lighter for it to have a slight chance of succeeding. So I decided to whip the egg yolks till ribbon stage and fold in the rest of the ingredients of the "cocoa batter". Things started to look a little optimistic when I saw a familiar "egg yolk batter" density. Being afraid that it would deflate fast, I rushed to wash the mixer attachment and went on at lightning speed with the whites. uh-oh. Mistake. No cream of tartar remember? 

I almost freaked out when I saw the once familiar lumps of egg whites, turning from a cloud of white to a puddle of almost deflated foam. Yikes. I stopped immediately and knew it was over-beaten. It's either gonna rise super high and collapse like the twin towers or it's not gonna rise at all. But I can't afford to dump all of it into the bin now! What a waste it'd be. So I went ahead with it, folded it in with much difficulty because overbeaten whites are so lumpy they are hard to incorporate without trying to break them up with more force. I ended up with a more watery batter than the usual chiffon batter, said my prayers and off in the oven it went. 

Surprise surprise! It rose, and almost to the brim in fact! But, the battle ain't over until the cake is out and cooled. And so I waited, and waited. The cake came out, though badly cracked, I couldn't care less. Not in comparison if it would survive the cooling. overturned. 

The cake shrank, no doubt, but not terribly or badly, just the way some chiffons shrink upon cooling. and yay! It hung on until it was time to unmould and my my, look at that tender crumb.Boy! was I glad I did not give up. As adventurous as it may sound, I start to wonder if it would have overflowed if I had baking soda and if the whites to beaten to perfection..hmmm

Nonetheless, the recipe proves to be a bake-able one. 

Looks can be deceiving so the ultimate test still lies in the taste buds. And this sure is a winner. Though, I must say it's quite unlike most chiffons. It's not as light, it carries a certain body to the cake but definitely very very flavourful with a deep, dark intense chocolate sensation. Contrary to belief, the chocolate in the cake did not make the texture dry. In fact, the cake is so moist, I could literally hear the "whoosh" as my fork went through the cake as I ate. 

And of course, don't take my words for real. Try it yourself and be convinced! 

Japanese Dark Pearl Cake

Cocoa Batter:

150 gm. Chocolate - chopped (I used 70% Valrhona Chocolate)
90 ml. water
100 gm. corn oil ( I used sunflower oil)
25 gm. cocoa powder (I used Valrhona Cocoa powder)
65 gm. cake flour
1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (substituted it with double action baking powder)
115 gm. egg yolks (I used 6 egg yolks)


Egg White Batter:


225 gm. egg white (~257g egg whites which is approximately 7 egg whites)
100 gm. castor sugar (I used raw sugar)
a pinch of salt (forgot to add it)
1/8 tsp. of cream of tartar (omitted it)



Method:
(1) Melt chocolate and stir till smooth. Add in cornoil slowly, stirring all the time till smooth. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and stir till smooth.   Whisk the egg yolks with ~30g of sugar (from the 100g) until pale and fluffy (ribbon stage). Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together and mix together with the chocolate-oil mixture. Fold the beaten yolks slowly into the mixture, taking care not to deflate the mixture.

(2) Whisk egg white with cream of tartar till frothy, then pour in sugar gradually and then add in the salt. whiks till a soft peak is formed.
(3) Fold egg white into the egg yolk mixture and then pour into a 23" to 25 "  21" round chiffon cake pan.

(4) Bake at 175C  170C for about 45  40mins. or till cooked. till skewer inserted emerges with loose crumbs attached.

(5) Invert cake onto a cooling rack until completely cooled. Remove cake from pan and serve.

*Changes I made are in Italics.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An apple tart with some appreciation

I written and re-written the start of this post, yet I still couldn't find the best way to start. It feels like I've lost my writing and communicating skills after retreating into the moutains and living in the caves for too long a time.

Anyhow, I got inspired to bake with apples by bakertan who very kindly shared a little knowledge on the various apple types. As stupid as it sounds, I've never really baked with apples before. And even if I did, they were playing much of the supporting role or just being a fill'in when I was lazy to prepare something more elaborate. Well, a perfect example would be when I first started out trying to make my own puff pastry. The easiest filling I could think of and whip up in a jiffy would be, chopped apples with some butter, sugar and cinnammon. What's more, my helper did it all. I just took the credit of that glorious moment when the freshly bubbling hot apple turnovers came out of the oven. Ashamed I was not, but now, yea, well, a little.

As if that wasn't enough, I soon found my really close friend, someone who journeyed her junior college and university life with me, asking me to bake apple pies. I always told her with a mark of confidence that it would be as easy as a pie (pun not intended). While the truth was, I never really did bake a proper one, ever.

For some odd reason, pursuing the basics and fundamentals was not in my book of interests and it wasn't till bakertan's post that jolted me to my senses. The way he described his knowledge on the different apple types made me really curious about apple baking, I mean, baking with apples.

So, the word "golden delicious" was somehow stucked with me pretty much the whole day. Just that fateful day, I happened to be at Carrefour and decided to look out for these "infamous Golden Delicious apples". Lo and behold, there were right in front of me, sparkling in their pretty packaging. I hesitated, thinking, if I would ever cave into procrastination and end up having to toss these apples into the bin. Alas, the greedy me won over the battle of the apples and I grabbed, not one, but TWO packets and marched to the cashier.

And so, as if I could read my own future, the procrastination queen reigned and the apples laid in the fridge, untouched, for 2 days. Finally, I decided that the apples wouldn't and couldn't wait any longer for Her majesty so I decided it's time I got some apples going baking. While in between the procrastination, I gained much encouragement and regained my determination from everyone who left comments on my previous post. I'd like to take the chance to say a BIG THANK YOU to all have been ever so supportive and encouraging! =D 
I had been reading up a little. As a I stared at the bookshelf of baking books, I can't help but notice one of the heaviest and thickest ones, Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. Several pages later, I decided that there were TOO many apple tart recipes in the book to choose from. So, being the lazy me, I chose one with: 1. The simplest ingredients needed, 2. all the ingredients I already had.

And of course, one that specified for the use for my oh-so-precious "Golden Delicious". I had only made one tart prior to this apple tart, which was the chocolate tart. So my tart-experience isn't that much and I vaguely recalled a mini frenzy then.

As simple as the recipe had stated its steps and so it was, minus the estimation I had to make as I baked mine in a smaller tart pan. If there was anything I would warn anyone about tart-making, it would be TIME.

Though armed with simple ingredients, simple steps but it sure took a LONG time to bake, and cool, and bake again. But that of course, are the ramblings of a not-so-freuqent tart baker. Don't get me wrong, the recipe was a crazily simple one. I didn't even have to cook the apples in butter,sugar and cinammon. Yet, the end results was a tart that was Mmmm, yummy. 

All I had to do was slice the apples, arrange them prettily, prepare the custard and pour it over. And...there you have it! As unappetizing as it may seem, the taste was simple, yet delicious. Something rich, yet not overpowering. Perfect for a lazy afternoon, with a steaming cup of tea. The tart had cooled completely by the time I could "stomach" it so I re-heated the slice in the microwave and my! it was bursting with flavour! And the thing which amazed me the most - the apples retained their crunch! It was soft yet textured, sweet yet with a slight tang which complimented the sweet custard so well. YUMS!


Verdict: The "Golden Delicious Apples" certainly lived up to its name. Delicious it is!

I don't think I'm at liberty to share the recipe, but if you're interested, and if you have the book, refer to page 314 "Alsatian Apple Tart".

Monday, August 16, 2010

Surprise! ...not

 
I promised in my previous post that I'll be back soon and I'm trying hard at keeping my promise! 

I've been back blog hopping these days and I must say, as usual, as with almost all food bloggers, there's simple TOO many recipes to try out. 

It was not until I saw Happyhomebaking's post that compelled me to try it out almost immediately! It was really heart-warming to see how she grabs every opportunity available to show her love, care and concern for her dear husband whom is working hard for the family overseas. Yet, it also jolted that guilt in me and reminded me to shower a little care for my darling D. 

Part of my long absence from baking and blogging stemmed from me starting work coupled with my lousy stamina and well, some unhappiness having to do something which I didn't exactly enjoy. It was only then I realised how pampered I was, when D would take time out almost every evening to pay me a visit and slog through the night baking and washing up for me. 

Amongst the many other commitments he's got, every other spare time he had, he spent it with me. I not only not show my appreciation but still, I complained at times. 

HHB's gesture dug out that guilty conscience in me and I thought what better way to start with something, simple, easy and tasty. Another guilty chord struck when HHB's post was on Oatmeal Cookies. If there was any favorite cookies D loved, it's be Oatmeal Raisin cookies. It's a shame that after all these years baking and doing all that fancy stuff, I neglected the simplest of all. 

Wouldn't then it be perfect to give a shot at an Oatmeal cookie recipe and make that a simple surprise? No. D surprised me instead when he sneaked into the kitchen just when I was scooping the balls of dough. Nonethless, when D peered over to see what was I up to, he broke into a HUGE grin as he recognised the rough looking textured heaps of dough on the baking tray and said "Oatmeal raisin cookies! My FAVORITE!!

When the cookies cooled off, he popped one into his mouth. After 2 of them, he went "I think I can finish off the whole tray soon.

Now, do you consider that a successful surprise?

The cookie yielded quite a special texture. Not quite crispy, yet not quite chewy either. But it tasted great nonethless, with the fragrant buttery aroma, coupled with healthy rolled oats, some chocolate chip, raisin and walnuts, a great tea-time, any-time snack in fact!

Here you go!


Chocolate Chip Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
(makes about 32 cookies)

90g butter, softened at room temperature
25g raw sugar
25g brown sugar
1 egg (weights about 60g with shell), lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g cake flour (or plain flour)
100g rolled oats
50g walnuts, coarsely chopped
35g raisins
75g chocolate chips


Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 190degC. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. With manual whisk, cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until the mixture turns pale and fluffy (alternatively use an electric mixer if desired).
  3. Dribble in the egg gradually. Mix well after each addition. Add in salt and vanilla extract, mix to incorporate into the batter.
  4. Sift the flour over the batter, fold in with a spatula.
  5. Add rolled oats, walnuts and dried cranberries. Mix well with the spatula.
  6. Drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking tray. Leave some space between the cookies to allow for spreading (actually, they don't spread too much). Flatten each cookie dough slightly with the back of a fork, keeping the shape as even as possible.
  7. Bake for 8~10 mins or until golden (my oven took 12~15mins). If necessary, rotate the baking tray halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in air-tight containers.

    Recipe source: adapted from 好想为你亲手做出美味的甜点! 检见崎聡美
adapted from HHB with modifications in italics.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm WOW-ed!

Before you think I'm back with more recipes, energised and ready to blog blog blog, well, you're not entirely wrong, but not quite right either. 

I'm WOW-ed and left speechless when I actually made it to attend the food blogger's party that Pei-Lin organised. It was almost like a dream come true, getting to meet this virtual friend whom I've know over the past 2 years. It felt almost unreal when Pei-Lin dropped an email sometime back asking for a meet-up. 

Well, I'm terribly guilty for my inactivity as I listened to the other bloggers chatting away. And I thought to myself, gosh! I've been away for SO long, I seriously have little idea of who and what they were referring to. But that enthusiasm and that same passion for baking, blogging, writing and taking pictures blew me away! I felt ashamed at some point in time for not being able to keep up with my blog which I started out with much passion and drive for. 

When I got home, I immediately started checking each and everyone's blog, to put a face to the blog and I must say, that knowing the face behind the blog skins makes reading that someone's blog feel so different. It's as if you've upped one level. 

Though I have no pictures to boast of, nor goodies I made to contribute my portion, I was blown away by each and everyone's warm and friendliness. Though it was just then that we met, but we chatted with so much in common. 

It was REALLY pleasant meeting everyone there and I'm SO glad I managed to make it there in time to enjoy the company. 

For more pictures, blogposts and a glimpse of who made it there, hop on over to:
 I'm WOW-ed! That I CAN'T wait to write this post! 

A big thanks to everyone whom I met that made this meet-up so lovely!

I'll be back...
  

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Since I've been gone...

..not for the first time. Please pardon my long absence. Activities just got more and I just simply didn't have the time, energy and mood for taking and editing photos, much less updating the blog.

I very much wish I had the time and enthusiasm I once had in updating this blog. Don't get me wrong! It doesn't mean I'm gonna lock this blog away in the safe forever but the updates will just come at a much slower rate. As the lack of time has affected my blog updates, so has it affected my baking schedule. Much as I wish to be baking away like a mad woman and updating this blog with tons of pictures and recipes, that's gotta wait.

On a happier note, let me catch up on what I've missed for the period of time I've been gone..
First of all, a big thank you to everyone who came to NUS to support Sweet Couture. My siblings, D and I had a fantastic time selling our goodies to you people and we hope you enjoyed eating them as much as we enjoyed selling them =D Of everything I made, I loved the macaron the most. Experimenting with earl grey and chocolate macarons was somehow quite a breakthrough for me. And, I'm glad it worked out perfect.
Being a chocoholic myself, I couldn't resist putting The Chocoholic cupcake on the menu and it was just as well-received. Needless to say, the cookies were the first ones to be sold out and it was nice knowing that people actually came back the following day to buy MORE! =)


While I thought I needed a break from baking madness, I cam across pictures of cupcake bouquets by chance. They looked SO captivating and I told myself I HAD to make one. Wouldn't it a perfect gift for mother's day? How sweet isn't it?

I caught the flower cupcake making bug that I decided to open a "class" for my friends and invited them over for a session of cupcake flower making!



Check out the variety of flowers we made during our baking session. I love making cupcake bouquets! They're simple to make and to top it up, simple to eat as well! No fuss over having to cut up the cake!! =p

If you havent got an idea what to get for your mother for this Mothers' Day, why make a cupcake bouquet and impress her with edible flowers?

I had meant to post these pictures up a long time back but I got lazy and tired and the pictures were just stored away in my laptop, waiting to be uploaded. Now that I am back from a really GREAT break/holiday, I thought to myself that I shouldn't procrastinate further.

At the boarding gates at the Singpore Budget Terminal. Just before we left for sunny Phuket!

D and I and a bunch of friends took the weekend off and had a really GRRREAT time in sunny Phuket! It was a nice break from work and all other things and now I'm pretty much recharged to be back baking and taking photos and uploading them, I hope. The fantastic shots my friend took with his DSLR captured really nice memories of the trip.

So, I shall let the photos do most of the talking.


Beach fun @ Patong Beach!

 
Street Food

What's visiting Phuket, Thailand without having a taste at their street food. Superb grilled chicken, with just the right doneness. YUMS!


 
Singha

Not forgetting a taste of their local produced, Singha Beer. I'm not a fan of alcohol nor do I even don't mind drinking. But Singha beer has sucessfully made it to my list of permitted alcohol beverages. =D

 
Preparing ourselves for snorkelling!


 
Lush Sea Anaemone


 
Sunset @ Bangla Street. One of the most happening streets in Phuket.


 
Fried rice.


 
Mixed Vegetables sauteed with garlic

The fried rice and mixed vegetables were something familiar, but the great company and a day of fun at the beach made the food seemed especially nice! =)

Clear tom yum soup.

Having tried Thai food in Singapore, I dare say that the Thai food standards in Singapore is as close as it could get as the authentic ones in Phuket.


 
The SUPERB fish

The fish was REALLY good. Nicely done with fantastic-tasting sauce. They even separate the meat out so that you don't even have to remove the bones! One of the advantages of having a friend who's a chef travelling with you is that he can ensure the freshness of the seafood. Especially so when you get to choose your own seafood in Phuket!

 
Fresh seafood



 
Beakfast @ Bodega

Museli @ Bodega

In case you were wondering, Bodega is the place we stayed in during our time in Phuket. An extremely affordable place with SUPER friendly staff. A very very nice place. Plus, it's close to the beach!


Eve of Songkran

To end of the wonderful trip, we managed to catch a glimpse of the Thai New Year, Songkran just before we left. And yes, we got drenched while walking along Bangla Street and went home in the plane with wet clothes!

If' you've persisted reading to the end of this post, I applaud you and thank you for reading this long long post. As with every blogger's wish, I hope to be back more regularly, posting more bakes and recipes!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bake Sale!!!!


I believe the poster is pretty self-explanatory. Apologies for the last minute notice!

If you'd like to try out the goodies I bake, come on down to The Forum @ NUS on the 22nd or 23rd March 2010.

Sweet Couture Fans are entitled to a 10% discount so Be a Fan today! =D

See you there!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chinese New Year Chronicles: Part III - better late than never


Okayyy, blogger just played a prank on me and the carefully composed blog post at the expense of my beauty sleep rest had just disappeared. just like that. Bummer! I've given up on re-loading the pictures that took forever to load and my brain cells which were all half-dead half-asleep while waiting.

But lucky you! I just couldn't bring myself to miss out on this post since it is also going to be my first baking video debut. yea yea, no biggie, especially since youtube has TONS of them. But no! it's special to me and I obviously hope it'd be of some help to you, you and you!

I know I know, its wayyy past CNY but hey! that doesn't mean I can't blog about CNY related stuff anymore isn't it? Well, as the saying goes, it's better late than never.

As you can tell, I've been having a serious procrastinating problem. And now, it is even affecting how much I bake. I got the kueh lapis done up just on the eve of chinese new year and D came over and helped me with the first half. Thanks to him, I've finally managed to take my our very first baking video.

Although it is just a very short video showing how to layer the kueh lapis, I thought it might come along handy for those who are trying it out for the first time. Well, at least I appreciated having videos to watch when I was figuring out the recipe the first time round. Five rounds of failed attempts was no fun at all.

A little introduction on this cake, some call it a thousand layered cake because of the multiple layers you see in there and mind you, each layer is grilled one by one which explains it being pricey if you were to buy it off the shelf. The process is not only laborious, but pretty tiring and tough in some sense. You practically have to sit and guard your oven the layers and make sure they don't burn.

If I'm not wrong, this cake is traditionally of Indonesian origin and there is some apparent debate as to who holds the real roots to the invention of this wonderful rich, sinful cake. Word has it that the lapis spice (which is a combination of spices like cinnammon, cardamon, etc etc) were obviously, asia origin (in this case, from Indonesia) and that the "cake" was actually of Dutch descent. As the story goes, Indonesia was once colonised by the Dutch and that the Dutch that settled there probably missed they way of live back in Holland and wanted to re-live the moments of sipping tea and eating cakes in the afternoon. So, poor Indonesians probably didn't really made any cakes in their lives (maybe other than kuehs) and someone possibly decided to marry the spices (Indonesian origin) and cakes (Dutch style) together and wala! you get LAPIS LEGIT. Hmm I don't even know if I got the malay terms right. But that's not the point.

The point is, this cake is special, at least to me, not because it is a festive goodie, but rather the knowledge of ingredients that go into this cake made me realise I should only make it when the festive occasion calls for it. Not only is it high in fat/butter but the amount of egg yolks that goes into it is jus scary. twenty-five yolks. Imagine the amount of cholesterol and fat that's going into your system, you'd probably have to exercise more than a lifetime to run away (pun intended) from the clingy heart disesases and wrestle with obesity.

Nonethelss, everything could be eaten. Because the key lies in moderation. Therefore, I will not hesitate to urge you to try out this recipe although I highly recommend coming up with a list of friends whom you could divide and give the cakes away to. Surely you don't wish to consume 25 egg yolks and 500g of butter, do you?

Lest you're getting impatient, I'm moving on to the recipe, NOW! This time with pictures and a short video to accompany! =D

Kueh Lapis (makes one 8" x 8" x 2.5" lapis cake)


Ingredients:
A:
25 egg yolks
100g sugar

B:
5 egg whites + a pinch of cream of tartar
100g sugar

C:
500 gm butter (Golden Churn)
1 tin condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 ½ tbsp brandy or rum
1 ½ tbsp mixed spices

D:
170 gm plain flour

Method:
1. Sieve Flour (Group D) and set aside.
2. Cream butter with condensed milk, vanilla essence, golden syrup, brandy & mixed spices (Group C) till well mixed and set aside.

Group C Ingredients ALL IN!

Creamy mess

3. Beat egg yolks with sugar (Group A) on high for about 10 mins until thick and creamy (i.e. ribbon stage).

The sinful indulgence - 25 Yolks

With 100g of caster sugar

Beat it baby!

See how it tuned pale?

Ribbon Stage
A slow thick ribbon falls on itself when the beaters are lifted and does not dissappear right away.

4. Add beaten egg yolk mixture to the creamed butter mixture and mix well. Fold in sieved flour.

All ready to mix.
Fold in gently (not TOO gentle) but you don't wish to deflate all that air you beat into the eggs earlier on.

5. Beat egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar and sugar (Group B) till stiff and fold in the mixture. [Beat egg whites with pinch of cream of tartar till frothy on medium speed (speed 3 on kMix) for 1 min. Add in 1/3 of sugar, continue beating for 1-2 mins. Add in the second 1/3 and continue beating 1-2 min. Add in the rest of the sugar and beat for 1-2 min. ]

My assistant for the day ever

okay okay, I just wanted to show off my shiny red mixer.

Now this is what you wanna achieve. Stiff peaks. (NOT dry though) be careful there!

6. Preheat oven to 180 degree C. (baking mode: top + bottom heat) Grease and line an 8″ square tin and preheat tin [Just preheat for a few mins to make the tin hot, making it easier to spread the batter]. Grease bottom and line base only.

7. For first layer, spread 3 - 3 ½ tbsps of mixture in tin and bake in oven at lower middle/ lower rack at 180 degree C for 10-15 mins. Or until lightly browned. [timing may differ depending on individual ovens. Just bake till surface is lightly browned] Use a satay stick, prick holes (if there are air bubbles) into the lapis and gently press the lapis with a lapis press to ensure the layer is even.

8. Switch oven to grill mode. (i.e. top grill only)For subsequent layers, grill each layer at lower middle/lower rack for about 3 mins. Or till lightly browned. [timing may differ depending on individual ovens. Just bake till surface is lightly browned. The darker the surface, the darker the layers will be later. The brown surface is what defines each layer.] After removing from the oven, use a satay stick, prick holes into the lapis (if there are air bubbles) and gently press the lapis with a lapis press to ensure the layer is even. Repeat this for each layer.

Make sure the oven is on GRILL for the second layer onwards.

Here's a really short demo on how to bake a layer. The video starts of with a previously cooked layer and that's the kinda brown you wanna get before moving on to the next.


9. When top most layer is completed, switch oven back to baking mode (i.e. top + bottom heat), cover with a metal tray or a piece of foil and bake at middle rack at 180 degree C for a further 5 min. It will take longer if the sides are still wet.

10. When the cake is done, turn cake out onto a metal grid. The lapis with 'fall' out on it's own. Let it cool on the cooling rack completely before cutting. If cooling rack markings are not wanted on lapis surface, flip it right side up after cake has 'fallen' out and let cool completely before cutting.

adapted from Rose's Kitchen

Related Post: Kueh Lapis a.k.a thousand layered cake (千层糕)

I hope this small little post with guided pictures and a short short video urges you, (yes! you) to give this a shot. =)

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