Friday, 29 April 2011

和风豆腐戚风蛋糕

Another milestone along my baking trail...


Since the start of the year, I have began to re-tracked my baking trail. So far I have been going back to the basics...making muffins and simple banana cakes. This time, I have taken on the challenge to bake another chiffon cake after my earlier matcha chiffon cake turn out really well. The preparation method is almost similar...the only 'challenge' is to change my mindset about using unfamiliar ingredients for baking.

The unique ingredient used in this chiffon cake recipe is silken tofu or soft soya bean curd. I am really curious how tofu will taste like in a cake...and I wonder how the texture of the cake will turn out? will it going to be light and airy? and will my kitchen be smelling of tofu when the cake is baking in the oven?


I took the opportunity to bake this cake when I was planning to cook soondubu (a Korean tofu soup/stew dish)...I could use the left over tofu for the soondubu...we certainly didn't mine having extra tofu in our soup. It was already night time when I finally had time to unmold the cake. So pardon me with the two lousy images above...my 老古董 (antique) camera can't seems to focus well under poor lighting conditions.


The cake was easily done...with only 5 ingredients...tofu, sugar, eggs, flour and oil. The only problem I had, as usual, was combining the egg whites with the yolk batter. I have deflated the whites a little, and the eggs I used were only medium sized ones...the finished batter was only able to fill up the pan to  about 70%. As a result of the poor mixing, my heart sank together with the cake when the baking time was almost up. It shrank further upon cooling...and so my tofu cake was a little katek (short).


There were many holes too...thanks again to my poor mixing...or maybe I should blame the tofu? The yolk batter was thick and a little grainy. Except the oil, no water is used in this recipe...it rely solely on the water content in the tofu. That is also why it is not necessary to drain the tofu before using.



Here are the answers to my questions above:

1. I can't taste tofu in this cake, not even smell it. It is just like a plain cake...luckily it is sweet and if not for the eggs, it will be like eating a slice of dish sponge?
2. The texture of the cake is good though...light and airy...it could have been better if I have done a better job at folding the whites and yolks.
3. There is definitely no trace of tofu baking in the oven. The aroma was similar to a sponge cake. I don't know why...but I kept expecting to smell tau huay 豆花 ( a local soya bean curd dessert). Maybe I should replace the silken tofu with tau huay?

I think the next time I were to make this, I will certainly add some flavourings to enhance the taste. Even though the cake has got nothing to cry out loud for, it was certainly a good experience for me. At least I am now more open to trying out different ingredients and not having to stick to the usual bananas or chocolate chips ;)

and in case you ask...my first attempt at cooking soondubu was far from good. The soup was a little blend and taste diluted...despite having added shrimps, sotong and clams. My kids enjoyed the dish though...they were slurping away and the three of us could finish the whole pot. Wait till they have tasted the real thing...I am sure they are gonna be very disappointed with mummy's lousy cooking skills (^^''')



Tofu Chiffon Cake

Ingredients:
(for 7" tube pan)

120g silken tofu
20g caster sugar
3 egg yolks (use large eggs)
40ml vegetable oil
80g cake flour

4 egg whites (use large eggs)
50g caster sugar


Method:
  1. Sieve flour and set aside.
  2. Place silken tofu in a mixing bowl. With a manual hand whisk, mix the tofu and add in the sugar. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add in egg yolks, whisk to combine. Add in vegetable oil gradually, stir to combine. Sieve over the flour and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside.
  4. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy.  Add half of the sugar amount and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  5. Add the beaten egg white into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  6. Pour batter into a 17cm tube pan (do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  7. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 30 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, when lightly pressed the cake will spring back. Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.

Recipe source: adapted from 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手, 福田淳子

Monday, 25 April 2011

cake for a cake friend

I made this matcha chiffon cake for a reader who has now become my real life friend.


She is the first reader whom I have picked up the courage to meet, face to face.

In the past, I only knew her as someone who dropped me a comment once in a while, from her profile name, I could only picture her as a mother with 8 limbs ;) From some of her comments, I also gathered that she has three boys and is holding a full time job. That was all I know about her...until the beginning of this year, she dropped me a note to inform me that her second child happens to be my younger boy's partner. Their desks are side by side, and they queue up together. What a surprise!

It turns out that my elder son was actually the same age as her eldest boy. Through reading my blog, she discovered that they were in the same school, and although they were not in the same class, both boys were friends. She kept mum about it as she feels paiseh or shy to approach me. I would probably do the same if I were her (^^')

Until end of last year, it was by chance she found out that her second child was my younger boy's classmate (I have to thank my boy for it!). In fact, all this while, the four boys know each other. It's a small world, isn't it?


Even though there were some prior exchange of emails, I almost 'shrank' when I thought it was her when I wanted to pass her boy a banana sponge cake I made for her. I wasn't 'ready' to meet anyone...at least not someone who reads my blog. There is this 'thing' about me...that is, I prefer to hide behind an anonymous name. I will be very concerned if my true identity were disclosed. First of all, I do not want to give people the impression that as a stay-at-home-mum, I am so free and have so much time that I could bake and even keep a blog. I don't even tell most of my friends about the existence of this blog....since there is really nothing to be proud of. Furthermore, I think I am doing my readers good...I don't want anyone to faint if they ever meet me in person, haha! I know, I am strange!

It was only last week that I felt I am actually 'ready' to meet her in person. Actually, the feeling just came naturally...or rather, I didn't feel intimidated at the thought of having to meet someone who has been reading my blog. I attribute it to the fact that we seems to share many similarities and most important of all, both of us like baking!



I sorted of hinted by asking whether she has tried baking anything with matcha powder, and she wrote to say she was planning to make me something with matcha! So with the assurance that she likes anything with matcha, I set off to test out a matcha pound cake the night before. I wasn't sure what went wrong...but the cake took an extra 15mins to be cooked, or at least for the top to turn golden brown. Trust me, the loaf of pound cake looked really lovely, but the moment I sank in a knife to cut a slice, it hit me that I have over baked the cake! I felt as though I was cutting into a block of dried sponge foam...you know, those dark green foam that is used for fresh floral arrangement? The cake felt 'sandy' and dry :'(

I didn't want to take the risk to bake the same thing the following morning. I turn to plan B instead...a matcha chiffon cake, recipe from a cookbook which I have just bought. I was taking another risk since it has been a long time since I last baked a chiffon cake. Even though the cake looked good upon unmolding, I wasn't sure about the texture. In the end, my lack of confidence drove me out of the house to get more eggs. I could only feel easy about it after I baked an exact replica.


Although the colour was not pleasant...the texture of the cake was good, or at least, it was a 'pass'. It was soft, springy and moist, something I will not feel too shy to give away, even to a fellow cake friend. This time, I even remembered to do a 'spring test'.



video
(Notice the force I exerted on the poor cake? This must be at least the 3rd take and it could still spring back. 
A chiffon cake is not as fragile as I thought!)

It was a pleasant meeting with my cake friend. We didn't choose to meet at some nice cafe or restaurant...but out of convenience we had desserts at a neighourbood hawker centre. If not for the time, and the fear that the boys would eventually turn the hawker centre into a playground, we would have talked and talked and talked! She baked me a batch of delicious matcha mochi cakes but I didn't have chance to take photos as they were all gone during breakfast :)




Matcha Chiffon Cake

Ingredients:
(for 7" tube pan)

3 egg yolks
25g caster sugar
60ml water
50ml vegetable oil
80g cake flour
10g matcha powder

4 egg whites
55g caster sugar


Method:
  1. Sieve cake flour and matcha powder, set aside.
  2. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. With a manual hand whisk, whisk the yolks a little. Add in sugar and whisk to combine. Add in vegetable oil gradually, stir to combine. Add water gradually, stir to combine. Sieve over the flour mixture and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside.
  3. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy.  Add half of the sugar amount and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  4. Add the beaten egg white into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  5. Pour batter into a 17cm tube pan (do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 30 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, when lightly pressed the cake will spring back. Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.

Recipe source: adapted from 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手, 福田淳子

Monday, 18 April 2011

lunch for two

To many, cooking a meal for two should be a fairly simple task, but to a lousy cook like me, it is as challenging as cooking for ten. My everyday lunch has to be something that is easily put together otherwise I will be so tempted to just settle for a takeaway. I always zero in for dishes that meet my 3Ms...minimal preparation, minimal cooking which leads to minimal cleaning. The reality is, not many dishes could fall exactly under this category. As a result, I keep going back to the same old dishes week after week.


Pizza happens to be my children's all time favourite. I am sure they will not get sick of it even if I were to make them a pizza every week. However, making pizza from scratch requires time...and a bit more effort than cooking a pot of fish porridge. I could have made the pizza dough in advance and freeze them, but so far I have not done it. I really have yet to accept the idea of stocking up on frozen food. My freezer compartment remains quite empty most of the time.

It was by chance I 'discovered' a quick way to make a pizza while I was writing an email to a blogger pal. I didn't wait too long before I put my idea into actions.


Here's my short-cut version of a homemade pizza. I am sure it is nothing new to many of you. Instead of making the pizza dough from scratch, I made do with store bought loaf bread. The only difference is, I used this local brand, Gardenia focaccia loaf instead of square sandwich loaf. This store bought focaccia is really tasty and delicious on its own...great for making homemade deli subs (see here), and it is the first time I thought of using is as a pizza base. Why didn't I think of that??

I sliced the loaf horizontally into two, spread some meat sauce (minced beef cooked with some chopped onions and ready made tomatoe-based pasta sauce...very much like cooking a simple bolognese sauce) and topped it with mozzarella cheese before popping it into the oven. The meal was prepared under 15 minutes...with minimal preparation, cooking, and cleaning. 


While the cheese was melting away in the oven, my younger child came home from school. I opened the door and just like every other day, I was greeted with a great smile from a very sweaty, dirty looking boy. The next moment, he let out a little squeal, "I smell pizza!"

Thanks to the wonderful aroma of the focaccia loaf, it really smells like pizza whenever I toast the bread in the oven, I attribute it to the generous use of herbs in making this bread.

It was a very satisfying meal for the two of us as it was almost like eating a pan pizza. I was a little surprised when my boy, who is a small eater, helped himself to 5 slices. Either he was very hungry that day, or he loves nothing but pizza ;)

Friday, 15 April 2011

7 random things

We had this sweet treat on a Sat afternoon when the three of us were winding down from the activities earlier in the day. I had a tub of plain yoghurt that was going to be expired soon, and so I thought why not make a simple dessert out of it.



There was this almost over-ripe mango sitting on the kitchen counter so I married the two and made a simple mango yoghurt parfait. The mango was very soft and juicy so I could easily mashed it up a little without having to use a blender. I layered the yoghurt with the mango puree and topped it with some chopped mango and strawberry pieces. I plucked some mint leaves from my pot of striving mint plant, and used it as 'garnish'. The dessert looked so appetising that my kids actually let out a 'wah...so nice!'. I am glad they find the taste is as good as the food presentation :)


I feel very honored to receive this "One Lovely Blog' award recently. Thanks to Jes of Jes's Deli Corner, Esther of x3Baking, Beanie of Beanie Kitchen Diary , Edith of pReCious MoMentS and Janice of Home Cook Baker for passing the award to me. Here's a cup of my mango yoghurt parfait for each one of you ;)


There are some rules to abide in order to accept this award and they are:

1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award
2. Share 7 random things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs
4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.


I would like to dedicate this awards to:

A Little Bit of Plum Leaf 李葉
Cathy's Joy
Cook With No Books
Chunky Cooky
Eat and Be Happy
Engineer and an Oven
Fong's Kitchen Journal
j3sskitch3n
Linden Tea
Not The Kitchen Sink
Sotong Cooks - Cooking it my way!
The Sweet Spot
Wen's Delight
'爱'生活 My Life
启动生命的旋律



and here are the 7 random things about myself:

1. I do not have a facebook account. I doubt I will ever sign up since I don't really have that many friends. My kids do not have facebook accounts too. Yes, I know kids are not supposed to sign up, but most of their friends and all their cousins are on FB. My elder kid is facing some pressure from his friends to sign up since he goes to secondary school. I'll see when he will give in ;)

2. Although I blog in English, I speak almost 100% Mandarin at home. I read Chinese books, magazines and even the Chinese papers. I speak English only if the other party is not able to understand Chinese at all. But I do use a mixture of English and Mandarin when necessary...especially when there is a need to scold my children...somehow, I feel that certain English phrases are very good and effective to drum down my message onto them.

3. So far I have never taken any photography course. I really do not know much about photography. I could only use the auto-mode and the macro-function of my camera. My photos are all point-and-shoot.

4. I am still using this point and shoot camera we bought in 2004. It is starting to get very old lately, as the battery cannot be charged. I have to use the camera with an ac adapter :'(
My elder son has joined photography club as his second CCA in school. He has started to learn how to use a DSLR, and he brought home a Cannon 550D yesterday as he needs to cover two events these two days. They have to cover at least 5 events a year...no one can join the club just for fun. One glance at the DSLR has already made me see stars...I can never get it right with the 'f', aperture, etc. I think I will do myself good by sticking to an idiot proof camera.

5. I have yet to attend a baking class, although I did watch a free cooking demo at a departmental store ;) So, do beware when you feel like trying out the recipes I have shared here. I am no professional baker, I am still a novice!

6. I like photo editing! It comes close to baking.  I enjoy desktop publishing kind of work...when the www first came to us, I even thought of learning the html so that I can do web designing! But it is all words with no actions, not very different from my dream of opening up a small shop to sell cute stuff or be a librarian so that I can read books the whole day, or becoming a barista when starbucks opened its first outlet here.

7. The thing that I don't really enjoy about blogging is answering questions. Don't get me wrong. I will answer any queries, and from answering them, I get to know even more about baking. The only thing that I do not enjoy is, after answering whatever questions, I usually do not get a reply. I would say only 2 out of 10 will come back with a response. I looked forward to a response as sometimes I do not know whether the person understands what I have written, or whether I have misled anyone with my answers. Sometimes I do not have an answer to the query, but I will try to provide useful sites so that the person could refer to it, so I was silly enough to think that the person may come back and tell me that the problem has been solved. I used to wait for a response, but I know better now, there is no point expecting a response. So, I am always in dilemma...whether to answer that query, especially when I suspect the person may not even come back to the page or may just ask for the sake of asking. I don't want to sound offensive, but it is not a nice feeling when you are treated like a help desk? Or is it just me feeling that way??

Weekend is here...to all my weekend baker pals, enjoy your weekend, and happy baking!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

about a cake, some birds and green pigs

It was my husband's birthday yesterday...but since he is 15 hours behind us, I am still not too late ;)

In fact we celebrated his birthday one week ahead when he came home for the weekend. We tend to forget our wedding anniversary...either we got the dates wrong or totally forget about it. Somehow, we will remember each others birthday...maybe we have celebrated our past 26 birthdays together and so we must have written the dates in permanent ink...in our heads?


I made him a simple chocolate cake despite him hovering over a black forest cake when we walked past a bakery. I wasn't keen to make one as I doubt I am able to shop for good quality canned cherries due to the time constraint. As I was on a banana sponge cake baking craze, I tweaked the recipe, and turn it into a chocolate banana cake. I didn't put too much effort into frosting the cake either. I just covered it with a simple 'pour it over' chocolate ganache and topped the cake with some chocolate hazelnuts. Naturally, with my half-hearted effort, the cake didn't look nice at all. But, at least it is edible!


I 'decorated' (too strong a word to describe my effort) the cake with an impromptu birthday cake tag...made with paper and toothpicks.


Last Christmas, Jessie of Hearty Bakes, sent me a wilton cake leveler...together with many other goodies and tools. I am now able to slice my sponge cake into very even layers :)

Thanks Jessie!!!


A nice slice of cake...deliciously moist and very chocolaty...and I don't think it is that fattening, at least compared to most chocolate cakes that usually call for a whole block of butter and lots of sugar.

I can't remember when was the last time I gave my better half a birthday present! Whatever he likes, either I can't afford or I won't know which is the right one to buy...you know, those electronic gadgets or whatnots that most men like. I don't even want to bother myself to shop for yet another shirt, tie or wallet.


This year, my kids and I decided to make him a little gift. After working hard for a few consecutive nights, we came up with a 'set' of angry birds figurines for him. I am sure many of you are familiar with this very popular angry birds app game. It is really a fun game, and I guess, it is great for killing time if you are stuck in traffic or waiting to board another flight.


My younger son is getting quite good at making figurines with jumping clay. As I am very stingy, I only allowed them to use a small amount of clay. He made that tiny pig...which uses a frying-pan to take cover...it is only 1 cm in size. My elder son is not as good with art work (he prefers music)...and so I had to help him along the way...his greatest contributions to our little project was none other than the nest of eggs, the giant pig's crown and those lumber logs ;)


The whole jing gang!

My younger kid made the slingshot or what we call catapult...I was quite impressed with it as he didn't have to refer to any illustrations. For me, I don't even know the 'power' of the various birds, and it was only after making the entire set that I got to know the 'story' behind why the birds are so angry and why they have to engage in such a suicidal mission...hauling themselves wholesale at those smirking green pigs.


Even though it was meant to be a birthday gift to my husband, but I think it was more like a gift for me and my two children. It was a wonderful time making those little figurines with them...we got to joke, tease, laugh at each other...and we were never stingy in giving praises when one of us made something that looked really impressive. I even had the chance to proof to my elder son that he should never use excuses such as "I am not good at it"...how can he be good at something if he doesn't want to try? At least those eggs he made do look like eggs :)





(afternote: I didn't post up the recipe earlier since I thought no one will be interested. Upon request by one or two of readers, here's the recipe...but be warned, this recipe doesn't come with any guarantee of success!)



Chocolate Banana Cake
(makes one 8" cake)

to make Sponge Cake Layer:
Refer to banana sponge cake recipe here. Instead of 150g cake flour, change it to 120g cake flour and 30g cocoa powder.

Note 1: Sieve the cocoa powder with cake flour, baking powder, baking soda at least 3 times before using. When ready to use, sieve it over the batter again. Don't skip this step as cocoa powder tends to clump up.

Note 2: It is kind of difficult to fold in cocoa powder as it tends to form lumps so do it slowly and gently, try not to deflate the batter too much. Remember to fold in the cocoa powder and flour mixture in 3 separate additions.

When cake is cooled off completely, slice it horizontally into two layers.


to make Chocolate Ganache:
150g non-dairy whipping cream (or use heavy cream)
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
25g unsalted butter

- Place chopped chocolates in a bowl.
- Heat cream over Low heat in a saucepan. Once the edges of the cream starts to bubble, remove from heat immediately.
- Pour the cream over the chocolates. Let stand for 1 minute.
- Stir the mixture gently with a spoon till smooth.
- Add the butter and stir till smooth. Use immediately


to assemble:
Place a layer of sponge cake on a cake board. Pour about half of the chocolate ganache on to the surface. Spread evenly with a spatula. Place the second layer of sponge cake over. Pour the rest of the ganache over the top and spread it over to the sides with a spatula. Leave cake to chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins or until the ganache is set.


to make Chocolate Glaze:
150g non-dairy whipping cream (or use heavy cream)
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
50g unsalted butter

- Preparation is same as Chocolate Ganache. Use immediately

Remove chilled cake from fridge. Place a rack on a baking tray (to catch any excess glaze). Place cake on the rack. Pour the chocolate glaze over the cake, make sure to pour the glaze over the edges to let it flow down to the sides. If necessary, spread the top and sides evenly with a spatula. Leave to chill (together with the rack and baking tray) in fridge to let the glaze set. If necessary, trim off any jagged edges at the bottom. Transfer to serving plate. Store any leftover cake in fridge for up to 3 days.

Monday, 11 April 2011

my latest endeavour

A couple of weeks ago, I was surfing around looking for a suitable recipe to make a bundt cake, but I ended up with an awesome banana sponge cake recipe over at Wen's Delight.


It is a rare thing for me to bake the same cake more than once within a short time interval as there are so many recipes out there waiting for me to explore. However, I made this cake not twice, not thrice, but a total of 4 times in a month.

So, what makes me go back to the same recipe again and again? The possible reasons are: either I failed the first time, and I die die must get it right on the next attempt, or, I wanted to experiment and play around with the ingredients; or the cake is simply so delicious and easy to put together that it will be the first thing that comes to my mind whenever I have the urge to bake something! 

I got this banana sponge cake right the first time, even though I played around with the ingredients...I increased the amount of banana and cut down on the sugar a little. The finished cake was very well received. Even though it was only my second attempt, I baked this same cake and gave it away when I wanted to return a kind gesture. I was lucky that the cake was well baked, at least the exterior looks well baked, all nicely browned. My friend, whom I have yet to meet in person, (we have angels to provide free delivery service for us) was kind enough not to give a single negative comment, other than it was slightly on the sweet side and very banana-y. It turn out that she has made this exact same cake before!

On my third attempt, I tweak the recipe a little and made a chocolate version out of it. On my latest endeavour, I cut down even more sugar. I must have felt overly confident, and did another bold change to the recipe...I replaced a small portion of the oil with milk as I feel that the cake is slightly too oily. 



The latest version is still as soft and fluffy, and I find the sweetness just right. From the crumb, it looks like a slice of pound cake, however, it is quite light, not dense at all. The texture is almost close to a chiffon cake, although it has got more 'bite' to it. This sponge cake uses a lot more oil compared to most sponge cake recipes I have come across. As a result, the cake stays moist and is delicious eaten plain on its own...there is no need to jazz it up with layers of cream.

The way I went about making the cake is slightly different from the original recipe. I took an extra step here and there just to make sure I get the folding of the flour and the oil right. If you are an experienced baker, do hop over to Wen's blog for the original recipe, if you are as gung ho as me, feel free to try out my version...which I am afraid, for the time being, comes with no guarantee of success ;)

Happy Baking!



Banana Sponge Cake

Ingredients:
(makes one 8" round cake)

3 large eggs, room temperature
100g caster sugar (original recipe uses 150g)
250g to 300g bananas (3 large ripened bananas, cut into chunks)
150g cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
80ml vegetable oil (original recipe uses 100ml)
20ml milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Method:
  1. Grease (with butter) and flour sides of an 8" round pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Sieve together cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Sieve the flour mixture twice and set it aside.
  3. Place vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, set aside.
  4. Place eggs, caster sugar and bananas in a large mixing bowl. With an electric whisk, whisk the mixture at Low speed for a few seconds (to break up the bananas). Change to medium-high speed, and whisk the mixture till it becomes thick, pale and triple in volume. This should take around 7 to 8 mins. The batter should leave a ribbon like trail when the paddle is lifted. Test by lifting up the whisk/paddle, and draw an '8' with the batter. The number should stay for a few seconds. Turn to Low speed again, and beat for another 2 mins. This is to stablise the air bubbles in the batter. (Note: do not over beat the batter...it is not a good thing if the '8' doesn't disappear.)
  5. Sieve over the flour mixture in 3 separate additions. Each time Fold In the flour carefully with a Spatula, making sure there is no pockets of flour being trapped at the bottom of the bowl. Do not stir the batter with the spatula, it will cause the batter to deflate too much.
  6. Pour a small portion (less than 1/3) of the batter into the mixing bowl in Step 3. Fold in with the spatula until the oil mixture is fully incorporated into the batter.
  7. Pour the mixture in Step 6 back into the rest of the batter (Step 5). 
  8. Fold in the batter with the spatula making sure the mixture is well combined. (By now the batter could be deflated by about 20% or so as compared to Step 4).
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, the pan should be about 3/4 full. 
  10. Bake in preheated oven at 160 degC for 40-45mins or until the surface turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. (The edges of the cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.) Remove from oven, unmold and leave to cool (inverted) on a cooling rack.
Recipe source: adapted from Wen's Delight.

Friday, 8 April 2011

做自己喜欢吃的菜

当然不是叫你做自己不喜欢吃的菜。。。

像我们这些家有幼儿的家庭煮妇,做菜时一般上都会以孩子的胃口为大前题。

你一定有听过那个“爱”吃鱼骨头的妈妈的故事吧?孩子将妈妈无私的爱误解成了妈妈的喜好。真是欲哭无泪! 我家那两个愚钝的儿子,如果没有预先声明,真的会以为他们的妈妈爱吃儿童餐! 搞不好将来赚了钱可能会请我吃一桌子的kids meals!

妈妈们都会做孩子爱吃的菜,不过有时妈妈还是应该宠宠自己,做一道自己爱吃的菜,管他们喜不喜欢 ;)

上回在北京呆了一阵,爱上那里的凉菜。。。比如凉拌脆黄瓜,黑木耳,凉拌皮蛋豆腐,等等。不说你不知,那里的餐馆。。。菜单里都会有一部份是凉菜,一部份是热菜哦!回来后,看了好多凉拌菜食谱,却只会看不会做。。。厨艺不精的我迟迟不敢动手(^^')

纵里寻'它'千百度,终于有一天, 让我找到一个看起来还不太难的食谱。。。就这样做了这道凉拌皮蛋豆腐。


剥开皮蛋,这颗还有松花呢!可有听说过'蛋好松花开,花开皮蛋好'吗? 我不知道这算不算优质皮蛋,总知二话不说拿起相机咔嚓咔嚓几下才甘愿,呵呵!


虽然这是一道凉菜,不必烹煮,不过我还是把嫩豆腐蒸了三分钟,放凉了才吃。酱汁是用蚝油,酱油,麻油,鱼露,一点辣椒酱,和水一起煮沸,调制而成,还蛮简单的。

豆腐会出水,蒸过后一些水份会蒸发掉,比较不会出水。如果敢生吃, 或是用上等日本豆腐(可以贵上好几倍!我去survey过了,一盒要差不多九元新币! 晕!),要等上菜前才从盒子取出摆盘,酱汁可以预先准备好。记住皮蛋剥开后不能放多过两个小时。这些小贴士食谱都没有注明hor,都是我这里那里搜集到的小知识哦。

这道凉拌皮蛋豆腐和我在北京吃过的,味道不太一样,摆盘也不一样,那里的也没有加肉松。我做的酱汁也比较浓,比较粘稠。不过味道还不错,卖相还可以吧?

姐姐妹妹们,今天你煮了你自己爱吃的菜了吗? 还没? 那你还等什么呢?!


As much as I like to broaden my kids palettes, certain food simply do not appeal to them or they have yet to acquire the taste of some ingredients. As such, I usually end up cooking meals that suit their appetite but which may not necessary be the kind of food that I crave for. Lately, I have come to term with the fact that it is perfectly alright for me to prepare food which I could be the only one who enjoys eating it. There is nothing wrong with me putting my needs and wants above my children's, at least, occasionally ;)

When we spent almost a month in Beijing two winters ago, I have grown to like several cold dishes that I get to eat at the local restaurants. The range is so wide that most restaurant menu would devote one section just on cold dishes. One of my favourate is none other than this cold tofu with century egg (or preserved egg). It was after many many months that I finally found a suitable, or rather, simple and easy recipe for me to follow.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the clear 'snow-flakes' or 'pine-branch' patterns on this century egg I bought from the wet market. I couldn't help but took out my camera and started clicking away.

Unless you are using high quality silken tofu such as those from Japan, I would recommend steaming it over high heat for 3 mins and leave it to cool off. The sauce is prepared by boiling a simple mixture of oyster sauce, soya sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chilli sauce and some water. The sauce is left to cool before being drizzled over the cold tofu and century egg. The dish is best served cold, so I had it chilled in the fridge for 15mins before serving it. The sauce and pork floss that is sprinkled on top adds flavours to the otherwise plain tofu. This dish is usually served as a side and it tastes rather refreshing when served well chilled.

Have you prepared something just for yourself? Something you have been craving for ages? If not, what are you waiting me for?


凉拌皮蛋豆腐

材料:
1盒嫩豆腐
1个皮蛋
肉松 (我用的肉松里头有紫菜还有芝麻)
葱花

调味料:
1大匙蚝油
1小匙酱青
半小匙黑酱油
1小匙麻油 (我自己加进去的)
1小匙鱼露
1大匙辣椒酱
100ml 水
栗粉水(半小匙栗粉加1大匙水调和,食谱没有注明份量,我自己拿捏的)


做法:
- 嫩豆腐用大火蒸三分钟,放凉。
- 把调味料拌均和水一起煮沸,栗粉水勾芡,离火,放凉。
- 皮蛋切八片。
- 嫩豆腐摆进盘中,摆入皮蛋。
- 淋上一些酱汁,撒上肉松,葱花(记住,是先放酱汁才撒肉松,酱汁不必全部淋上)。
- 淋上酱汁后可以放进冰箱冰15分钟,肉松,葱花上桌前才撒上。

(食谱来源:名食谱, Famous Cuisine)


Cold Tofu with Century Egg

Ingredients:

1 box silken tofu
1 century egg
some pork floss
some chopped green onion

Seasoning:
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp chilli sauce
100ml water
1/2 tsp corn starch mix with 1 tbsp water


Preparation:
- Steam silken tofu over high heat for three minutes, let cool.
- Mix the seasonings with water, and bring it to a boil in a pan. Stir in the corn starch mixture, bring sauce back to boil, remove from heat and let cool.
- Slice century egg into eight slices.
- Place silken tofu in a plate, arrange century egg on top and side of the tofu.
- Drizzle sauce over and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 mins.
- Top with some pork floss and chopped green onion.

(Recipe Source: adapted from Famous Cuisine)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

just two bowls

It seems like my learning curve is quite flat...and very likely it will remain that way for sometime...

I have started baking 4 years ago...yet, I couldn't move too far away from simple bakes such as muffins and cookies. Many fellow home bakers who began their baking journey way after me are already displaying baking skills...in my opinion, which has already surpassed or at least equivalent to professional pastry chefs! They never failed to wow me with challenging bakes such as those lovely French macaroons, delicious choux puff pastry, gorgeous layered cakes, dainty desserts, fondant sugarcraft, and even challenging breads such as sourdough.

Me being a rather conservative (a better word for 'kiasee'...a Singlish term which means 'afraid to die') person, is not always willing to take up baking challenges. My fear of failure is the greatest stumbling block. I know, to avoid kitchen failures I should equip myself with the necessary knowledge and skills, which I should acquire by learning from professional bakers. In the past, I like to use the excuse of not being able to find time to attend baking classes...but now, with more free time on hand, I still couldn't make myself sign up for any baking course. The thought of going for lessons on specific time on a periodic basis, just, puts me off. With this kind of mentality, I wonder when I am able to accelerate my learning pace?

So, in the mean time, I hope you won't get too bored reading post after post on simple bakes on this blog space. I am not being humble, I did get a comment sometime back that I am getting boring (^_^''')


The subject of this post is none other than this batch of 'Two Bowls' Chocolate Chips Muffins. As the name suggests, these moist chocolaty treats are made using just two bowls. One for mixing up the wet ingredients, the other for the dry ones. The content inside the 'wet' bowl is then dumped into the 'dry' bowl, with a few quick stirs, the batter is ready for baking. I bet a 10 year old will be able to make this with little supervision.

I modified the original recipe a little...basically the fat used. The original recipe calls for melted butter, but I was too lazy to even melt some butter, so I simply substituted it with olive oil. There is not much difference between the two types of fat...even there is, I believe it is going to be quite subtle. Butter will definitely enhance the taste...I am sure the muffins will smell better when they were baking...but oil wins by being able to keep them moist.



My younger child has been craving for something as chocolaty and rich as brownies...but a really good tray of brownies has got too much fat and sugar, despite his constant pleadings, I would only bake them on special occasions. In order to fool the boy to eat my bakes, I replaced some of the plain flour with cocoa powder...so as to make these muffins look close enough to be the slightly healthier cousin of the brownies :)

I made these muffins on a weekday night...while they were still hot to the touch, my kids wouldn't even wait for them to cool off. I was surprised that they couldn't stop at just one...the chocolaty and moist crumbs certainly appealed to their taste buds.


My cyberfriend, VB once asked me how I usually eat my muffins...do I strip off the paper liners or do I use a spoon to scoop it from the muffin cups? Well, my kids always eat it with a spoon, as for me, I usually rid off the paper liners. For these muffins, I had to use a spoon to dig in...just because these sweet little paper souffle cups are so sturdy that I had problem trying to pull them apart ;)

So, if I may ask, how do you usually eat your muffins?





Chocolate Chips Muffins

Ingredients:
(makes 12 small muffins)

235g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
50g mini dark chocolate chips
1 large egg, lightly beaten
60ml olive oil or any vegetable oil
175ml milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g granulated sugar*

*note: use 125g if you prefer it to be sweeter, original recipe calls for 150g sugar.

Method:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degC.
  2. Sieve together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix in chocolate chips. Make a well in the centre.
  3. Place egg, oil, milk, vanilla extract and sugar in another bowl. Mix (with a manual whisk) until thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. With a spatula, gently fold all the ingredients to form a wet batter. Just mix until the flour are incorporate into the batter. DO NOT Over mix. The batter should appear lumpy.
  5. Spoon batter into paper muffin cups to about 3/4 full. Bake for 15~20mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack and serve warm.
Recipe source: adapted from Bread baking by hand or bread machine, by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno