Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Baking is Fun

Those were some baking supplies I bought during my recent trip to the San Francisco Bay area.

After having ramen at a Japanese restaurant in Mountain View, we spent the rest of the evening shopping at the Whole Foods Market. While the others wondered around aimlessly, I headed for the baking supplies section. I was so delighted to find bottles of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla extract. I have read so much about what a great difference it would make if a good quality pure vanilla extract is used in your bakes. I had even planned to ordered it online. Since the price of a 4oz bottle was the same as the one quoted online, I grabbed a bottle and placed it in the basket.

Further down the aisle, I spotted cans of Ghirardelli cocoa powder. As much as I would like to try using Dutch processed cocoa powder, there were only natural ones on the shelves. I have no luck in getting any valrhona cocoa powder either. Since a can of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder was selling at a much cheaper price compared to what I would have to pay here, I took a can with only a very slight hesitation...that few seconds were spent convincing myself that there would be space for it in our already filled to the brim luggage bags.

On the last day of our vacation, we managed to find our way to a Trader Joe's store nearby. I got a bottle of garlic lemon that comes with a grinder and two bars of Belgian baking chocolate. It was only while taking photos of the items that I realised they have got 100% cocoa content. Now, I really do not have any idea what to use them for? I wonder whether it will be too bitter??

Besides the baking ingredients, while shopping at the local supermarts and retail stores, I got myself a set of measuring cups for dry ingredients (so that I don't have to do any conversion for ingredients that are measured in cups), a heat-proof spatula (I was in the "I Must Get Something!" mood) and I searched high and low before I finally found the lemon zester!

I love shopping at the local supermarkets and grocery stores in California...in fact, it was one of our favourite pastimes during our short stay in the LA area many years ago. There's space enough for two trolleys to pass thru without the danger of bumping into one other. We could spend hours drooling over the vast varieties of junk foods that are available on the shelves ;) Some of the food items are so much cheaper....you get two tubs of Ben & Jerry's for less than S$8!

It's good to be able to get back to my baking routine after a long break. This is the first cake I baked when the school term resumed. This is a truly flourless cake. Yes, zero flour content and no other dry ingredients such as almond powder or cocoa powder...just dark chocolates, butter, eggs and sugar...and some icing sugar or cocoa powder for dusting on the final product. It was awfully chocolaty, with a texture that was moist, smooth and velvety. The only fault I could find was that the amount of ingredients use is quite little, resulting in a much too thin layer...you will never get satisfied with just one slice. I am sorry I won't be able to post the recipe of this Chocolate Souffle Cake (due to copyright issues), however, I will look out for similar recipes to try out and hopefully will be able to find something close.

Since I can't post the recipe, I will like to share with you some wonderful things you could do with your photos. It was only last week that I stumbled across this site by chance. I have since been hooked, playing around with the various fun 'toys' which are available for free..the best part is, there is no extra steps of downloading any software (which often puts me off). I tried the Rubik's Cube tool, and was very surprised at how good the effect turn out.

with the same photo I try it on this...

...the outcome really makes me tickles ;p

Have Fun!!


Unknown said...


Just want to share with you that you can get Valrhona chocolate and cocoa powder and Nielsen-Massey extracts from Shermay's Cooking School at Holland Village.

Kitchen Corner said...

It's always very fun to read your blog. I had the same vanilla extract as you. I bought four bottle back from the UK as I found the Shermay's cooking school sell very expensive.
Wow! I like the last picture, it is just like your picture showing at the Art Gallery. The website is very useful. Thanks for sharing, I would like to try it next time.

Passionate About Baking said...

I can't agree more with you - Baking is fun. It's more fun when we go shopping for the ingredients, isn't it!! There is also another place, in Seah Street, that sells Valrhona chocolate and cocoa powders. I suddenly cannot recall the name now. Let me find for you the name. They opened from Mondays - Saturdays.

Thanks for sharing the dumpr site with us. I went to sign up too! It's much better having to edit the photos ourselves! ;)

Have a great week!


Passionate About Baking said...

Ah ha! I just recalled, it's Sun Lik Trading Pte Ltd, 33 Seah Street, Singapore 188389. Phone: 63380865 Fax: 63392685. Their food stuff is not very cheap compared to Phoon Huat. But they valrhona and some other beautiful stuff. Happy shopping!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Wendy, thanks for the info...I've never been to Shermay's cooking school or the Pantry Magic...in fact it was more than a decade ago that I last visited HollandV!!!

Hi Kitchen Corner, I bought the vanilla extract at abour S$14 for a 4oz bottle...not sure whether this is cheap or expensive!

Hi Jane, I know, you are refering to Sun Lik :) I didn't know they have Valrhona cocoa powder. The Valrhona chocolates are sold in 1 kg form...if I am not wrong? Guess, I will have to wait till I have a windfall before I allow myself to buy it ;)

Passionate About Baking said...

Yes Sun Lik. Oh they sell in loose packets also. It's like little chocolates in one containers. It depends on how many % valrhona chocolates. I used to buy one box of 200g for 70% valrhona from SL which cost me about $7-$8 I think. Quite ex. Yes, they have Valrhona cocoa powder, I bought it too. It's in a packet. I think it's about 200 or 250g. No harm going down to take a look when you are free! :)

martina said...

I've been reading your blog since february...it's awesome!Initially I looked for a cheesecake recipe, but now I'm trying to do my best to follow all your recipes. I'm italian so baking for me is really important!Now I'm living in Dublin (Ireland) but I'm waiting to move to California next year. In the meantime I spent a lot of time baking and following my lovely husband in his trip to US!When you posted the picture of Golden Gate bridge...I thought you grab it from my pc!!!Last time I flight to SF I take the same picture!! I really enjoy your food and your picture, thanks for sharing

Kitchen Corner said...

If I'm not mistaken, Shermay's Cooking School sell at S$32 for the 4oz bottle whereas I bought at £3.99 in the UK. I think you've go a cheap one!

Anonymous said...


Shermay sells it around 20++ per bottle and they have a whole lot of other extracts as well (e.g. rose,lemon etc.)

quizzine said...

Hi happyhomebaking,
i'm a self-professed fan of your blog! Have been reading your interesting posts, and your ever beautiful pictures. And before you have this post talking about the rubik, i was actually checking it out (as you have the pic at the right hand bar few days ago...)

Anonymous said...

Ooh i got the bags of Ghirardelli and Belgium chocolate while i was in Boston recently. I haven't quite done anything with them but just having them (along with tons of other bars i lugged back) makes me really happy.

That last picture is SO adorable! I would have gone up and try take a bite out of that picture :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard so much raves about the vanilla extract. Will love to get one bottle when I feel rich. Hee

I've seen recipes (Dorie's Baking) using unsweetened chocolate (esp brownies) so maybe the 100% chocolate can be used in such recipes?

Btw, the chocolate cake looks deadly!!! =D

Anonymous said...

Love the chocolate souffle cake. I think you've captured the texture very well. There are moments when I have a bad chocolate craving, and I know that nothing hits the spot like a flourless chocolate cake with a dollop of ice-cream. yuMMy!

sherlyn said...

Wao, the baking stuff you have bought are indeed priceless. I love shopping in supermarkets when I go overseas, but I have not picked up baking yet then, so I am already very happy just browsing the food sections like canned food, sauces etc

Thanks for sharing the website on fotos. The results are really very fantastic. However, I still think that the composition of the original foto must still be good, else no amount of editing will work.

Happy Homebaker said...

Thanks Jane, I will certainly drop by Sun Lik...I comb that area every Sat morning ;)

Hi Martina, I feel so flattered after reading your lovely comments ;) I consider myself a novice baker...with no formal training and I have not even attended a baking class or workshop! I learn from cookbooks and the generous sharing of recipes and tips by the many wondering bloggers out there.
I am sure you will have a great time living in California!

Hi Kitchen Corner, thanks for the info! It sure feels good to know that you get a cheap deal! My husband bought home a wine from California, and he felt really satisfying that cold storage is selling the same bottle at 3 times the price ;p

Thanks Joanna, you make me want to plan for a trip down to HollandV real soon!

Hi Quizzine, so did u have fun with the tool?

hi eatandbehappy, me too, it makes me happy to be able to bring them back...to add on to my existing collection!

Hi Bernice, thanks for the tips!

Yes, ovenhaven, I was told to have it with ice cream while the cake is still warm...but by the time I finish taking the pics, the cake was already cold! Next time when I make this again, I will serve it fresh from the oven.

Sherlyn, this is the first time that I am buying baking items from overseas...like you, I wasnt into baking during my previous trips.
I love playing around with the photo tools using my kids photo...it was really fun turning their photos to sketches...and using the museum tool to display their drawings ;)

Afternoontea said...


It's been awhile since I last visit your blog, nice stuffs you got from LA, Coincidence! friends refer me to Dumpr.net recently too, tried it on my blog which just opened up lately,


Anonymous said...

hello HHB!
hweesin here,i hope u remember me,i have asked your bout the sponge cake recipe.
i just bake the cake with the correct timing.
but now,the problem is,the cake taste very 'flour-y'.i have check on the internet for videos on how to fold in things with a spatula.but,i guess i have done it wrongly.i hope u put up a video on how u fold flour in with a spatula or choose a video in the internet that looks like how u fold in.
i have tried the sponge cake recipe quite a number of times and i hope i would be successful the next time because it would be a birthday cake for my lovely mother!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Yvonne, glad to know that you have started a blog :)

hweesin, you can refer to the demo video (the link is posted under "santa claus cake" post. It is in Japanese, but it shows the way to fold in the flour. You will need to turn the mixing bowl as you swipe the spatula all the way down into the bowl to lift up the batter and then flip it over. Continue the motion until all the flour is incorporated into the batter.
I am sorry I wont be able to take any video as most of the time I am alone...and I am really not good enough to provide a demo...for all u know, I may be doing something very wrong ;) Hope u understand.

Anonymous said...

hello again!
well,i've seen the video already.THANKS SO MUCH!

Sunshinemom said...

The cake got it right place in the last one:)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sounds like you did some excellent shopping! I love the photo widget - such fun to have your work up in the art gallery!

Sonya said...

Ooohh you have measuring cups! I took those for granted when I lived in the states. I had no idea that when I moved to the netherlands that over half of what I am used to does not exsist here. My dad is sending me measuring cups and spoons..and peanutbuuter chips..:)

The Lee Girls said...


Have been following your blog for sometime. Excellent work done! Love all your pictures and the baking.

Just wondering did you eat at the ramen restaurant - Ramen House Ryowa on Villa St in downtown Mountain View? I think that is one of the best reman so far and I have seen a guy who drives from Pleasanton just to eat there once a month.

Seems like you have found your treasure during your vacation.


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Angelia, thanks for your kind comments :)
We had been to Ramen House Ryowa on our previous trip. This time round, after reading the many positive reviews from Yelp, we went to another restaurant, the Maru Ichi, at Castro Street. Their Kuro ramen (with black seasame) tasted great.

Edith said...

great to hear that you had a great trip and a loadful of shopping. Thanks for sharing the site, I am a computer nerd and such information really adds to my brain cells. Thanks.

Passionate About Baking said...

Thanks for your information about the vanilla bean & poppy seeds. I've been to PH so many times and didn't even realise they sell it! I'll go and check it out. Thanks!

Btw, I don't go to JB, so I guess I can forget about getting poppy seeds! ;p


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Edith, I read about your trip, looks like you had a great time too :)

ivan said...

omg i LOVE ghirardelli! fell in love with it ever since my first bite of a 'stolen' stash of dark ghirardelli chocolate. too bad it's not easy to find. i can only find it at cold storage and even then it's expensive and the variety is limited =(

galleryfang said...

yes,..you make baking even more fun :)

Cookie said...

Hi, I bought the same Nielsen-Massey Vanilla extract from a supermarket at the basement of KL Pavillion for RM20 plus. Can't remember the exact price but surely cheaper than Shermay Cookin School.

I also like the extract from Jones The Grocer... its less than $9.

Yeah, the biggest joy about baking is shopping!!!