Thursday 27 September 2007

All That Baking!

I have been baking nothing but cakes for the past few days...after my attempt on chiffon cake, I tried another French-style yogurt cake.

This is my third yogurt cake so far, and I followed this Grapefruit Yogurt Cake from Foodbeam. This recipe is quite similar to the Lemon Yogurt Cake I made two weeks ago.

It's supposed to be a very straight forward and easy cake...children in France learn how to make this cake when they are 4! And yet, once again, this yogurt cake didn't turn out that well. Although this time round I used an oven thermometer to make sure that my oven temperature was correct, the texture of the cake was quite dense, almost the same texture as the lemon yogurt cake ***sigh***

Anyway, I'm gonna try it another time as I am keen to get it right. It's such a simple cake that can be whipped up in no time, and it's great to bring along for dinner parties.

I made this Chocolate Torte for a friend who has lately been clocking 14 hrs each working day. I was glad that the cake came out from the oven with a slightly sunken top and a crackly, crusty surface. This meant that the cake was baked to near perfection!

I dusted it with some icing sugar and brought it over to my friend's office in the late morning. She shared it with her colleagues and I was told the cake was moist and chocolaty. Three quarter of it was gone by noon time and she didn't manage to get a second piece before it was all snapped up.

This is the third cake which I made yesterday. It's a Green Tea (Matcha) Pound Cake. Upon a prompt by a fellow blog visitor, Yvonne, I bought a new bottle of matcha powder which is suitable for baking. The product is made in Japan and I have been waiting to try it. I have also gotten a can of azuki red bean paste from Daiso which has been sitting in the cupboard for quite some time. I followed this pound cake recipe from a Japanese cookbook which uses both green tea powder and azuki beans.

I didn't follow the exact steps called for in the recipe. For example, it's stated that after creaming the butter and sugar, one egg yolk should be added in gradually, beat till fully mixed, before adding the egg white, and repeat the same procedure for the other egg. I took the easy way, simply lightly beaten the two eggs before adding in slowly into the batter. It is also recommended that the cake should be taken out from the oven after 5 mins of baking to make a slit in the centre. What I did was, after spreading the batter evenly, I made a slit in the middle of the batter with my spatula before popping it into the oven. Somehow, the cake still managed to crack in the centre and a nice slit was formed during baking.

I guess the amount of green tea powder used is not really sufficient as the colour of the cake was not green enough, in fact, it was quite an unpleasing brownish green!! It could also due to the green tea powder as Yvonne had also pointed out that it will not yield a bright green finishing. The taste of the cake was all right, nothing very fantastic, just like a usual butter cake. The red bean paste was not overly sweet, and I could almost taste a hint of the green tea powder.


120g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon green tea powder
100g sugar
100g butter, bring to room temperature
2 eggs, lightly beaten
200g red bean paste


  1. Preheat oven to 170 degC. Grease and line a 7 x 17 x 6.5cm loaf pan. Sieve together flour, baking powder and green tea powder, set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until the mixture turns pale and fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs gradually, mix well after each addition.
  4. Sieve over the flour mixture in 3 separate additions. Each time, gently fold with a spatula until flour mixture is fully incorporated into the batter.
  5. Spread 1/3 of the batter evenly into loaf pan, spread a layer of red bean paste on the batter. Cover with 1/3 of the batter and spread another layer of red bean paste. Spread the remaining 1/3 of the batter. Smooth the batter evenly and make a slit in the centre (length-wise) with the tip of the spatula.
  6. Bake for 35 ~ 40 mins or until the cake turns golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

    Recipe Source: Delicious!! Baked Cakes, Ikuko Omori

Tuesday 25 September 2007

I Can Eat a Rainbow...Bento!

I decided to make something kiddish for lunch today. Even though it means spending a little more time and effort, I made this set of bento lunch for my boys. I managed to include all the 5 colours of fruits and vegetables in this rainbow set...there were green zucchini, yellow sweet corns, orange carrots, red tomatoes, and purple plums. I threw in some colourful low-sugar jelly beans and sour bears, and a bottle of vitagen made this a complete healthy meal.

The main "dish" was a rice burger...

and it turned out to be a 'tower' burger instead...

I piled up the burger with a meat patty (mixed with some finely chopped apples, and marinated with some salt & pepper), lettuce, tomatoes, and topped with some mushrooms & onions sauce (saute onions and mushroom slices with 2 tablespoon of Japanese terriyaki sauce and 2 tablespoon of water). The rice balls were lightly brushed with some light soya sauce before pan-fried over low heat. The carrots and sweet corns were par-boiled before mixing with the zucchini and some Japanese-style citrus salad dressings.

I was quite surprised that my younger boy was able to finish up all his greens...including the raw tomatoes...but the burgers were too tall for them to handle, so they actually ate it layer by layer ;)

Today is the Mid-autumn (or mooncake) festival...just to pass on the traditions to the younger ones, we will have mooncakes with tea tonight...and probably go for a short walk to see the full moon.

With this set of calligraphy done by my elder boy, I wish all who will be celebrating this occasion, 中秋节快乐!

Thursday 20 September 2007

A Milestone

I guess I have reached the first milestone of my baking journey...

Ever since I started baking "intensively" about a year ago, I have experimented with the various types of baking methods. The only method that I've stayed clear so far is anything that got to do with beating the egg whites. Somehow, I have developed this lingering phobia...just the thot of beating egg whites seems so intimidating to me. Thanks to vb for sharing her baking experience on chiffon cakes! Her enthusiasms and the beautiful cakes she came up with really got me interested! She makes it sounds so easy to whip up a chiffon cake, and with her little nudging, I finally break away from my comfort zone, and made my first chiffon cake this morning!

To mark "this occasion", I actually took the trouble to take a few photos during the cake making process. I stopped beating when the egg whites reached this stage...the signature look of the egg whites forming a nice hook when the paddle is lifted up. This photo was taken with some arm left hand was actually holding up the mixer, while my right hand, holding the camera crossed over to snap a picture of it.

A nice whirlpool of foamy egg whites...

I was so excited when the batter started to expand and climbed up almost to the top of the pan...

but then, the cake sank significantly after it was this normal?! By the way, this is a very small cake pan, it's only 16cm! I find the size just right for my small family.

I was very glad that I didn't "disfigure" the cake too much while trying to unmould it.

Don't get fooled by this photo...the cake looks quite tall and mighty, but in actual fact, it's only about 6cm in height.

There are a number of holes both on the surface and inside the it suppose to be like this?! After a glance at the cake, my little one stated flatly that I have made a donut cake today :'0

I kind of like the crinkly surface...especially on the sides...I followed a simple coffee chiffon cake recipe, but replaced the instant coffee with milo powder instead.

The cake texture is rather light and cottony...but taste wise, I could only taste and smell the eggs...I could hardly taste the milo at all.

Overall, it was a very good least I've overcome my "fears", and from now on I could safely venture into making different types of chiffon cakes :)

(make one 16cm cake)

1 tablespoon milo powder
20ml hot water
2 egg yolks
20g caster sugar
20ml olive oil
40g self-raising flour

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
50g caster sugar


  1. Stir milo powder with hot water until dissolved. Let cool. Sieve flour and set aside.
  2. Separate egg yolks/whites and bring to room temperature.
  3. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until sugar just dissolved. Add in milo mixture and oil. Whisk till combined. Sieve over the flour and fold gently with a spatula until flour is fully incorporated into the batter.
  4. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add in the sugar in 3 separate additions while beating at high speed till just before stiff peaks form* (after note: after several attempts at baking chiffon cakes, I learned that the whites should be beaten until just before stiff peaks form).
  5. Add the egg white foam into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  6. Pour batter into a 16cm (6 inch) tube pan (do not grease the pan). Bake in pre-heated oven at 170 degC for 25 ~ 30mins or until the cake surface turns golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and invert the pan immediately. Let cool completely before unmould.
Recipe source: adapted from Chiffon Cake is Done by Kevin Chai

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Pumpkin Bread

I finally managed to work on this pumpkin bread after a long break from bread making. Since I missed the kneading so much, I made this loaf all by hand, although the bread can be easily done entirely by the bread machine (if you omit the pumpkin seeds and egg glaze). I was attracted to this recipe when I came across the illustration of this golden round loaf in the book, Bread, Baking by Hand or Bread Machine. My replica is way too far from the original photo, as the top was almost burnt! Even though I had placed the oven rack to a lower position, the bread rose high and mighty and almost hit the heating elements that are located at the top of my small oven. Luckily, I managed to spot the slightly burnt smell, and quickly "tent" the top of the loaf with a sheet of aluminium foil.

After downloading the photos, I thought I saw "two eyes" and a "wide smile" staring back at me. Can you spot it? If not, what about this smaller one:

I find this so hilarious!! That's one of the joys of baking, isn't it?! You never know what you get until the entire thing is done!

I was expecting something dense, moist and sweet, but surprisingly, the bread was soft, light and even fluffy...and it was not sweet, it tasted almost like a plain loaf of soft white bread. There's no trace of the pumpkin at all, if not for the deep yellow hue, you wouldn't know it's made with mashed pumpkin! Nevertheless, I like the texture of the bread and the slightly crisp crust and the pumpkin seeds were very fragrant. The bread tasted good lightly toasted and buttered. I must say it's a great healthy choice of bread for breakfast :)


500g pumpkin, after peeled, seeded and cut into pieces
you are left with about 300g(alternatively, use 300g canned pumpkin puree)
60ml cooking liquid reserved from cooking the pumpkin or use water if using canned pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons of runny honey
500g bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
egg glaze (beat together 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, to decorate


  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pumpkin flesh and simmer until soft and cooked through, about 20 mins. Drain the pumpkin and reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Mash the pumpkin thoroughly, and sieve, or puree in a food processor or blender, about 2 mins. (I didn't sieve or puree the pumpkin as it was already very soft and fine.) Leave the pumpkin puree and the reserved cooking liquid to cool.
  3. Add honey to 60ml of the cooking liquid and stir to dissolve.
  4. Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in the instant yeast and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add in the honey liquid, followed by the pumpkin puree.
  5. Mix in the flour to form a firm, coarse, sticky dough. If the mixture is too dry, gradually add one or two tablespoons of the pumpkin liquid (or water). (I added extra two tablespoons of liquid).
  6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Knead until very smooth, silky and elastic, about 10 mins. (I didn't stop until almost close to 20mins of kneading!)
  7. Place dough in large clean bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling wrap. Leave to rise until double in size, about 1 to 1.5hrs. Knock back the dough to release the air, then leave it to rest for 10mins, covered.
  8. Shape dough into a round loaf. Place on an oiled baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. (I used a round 20cm baking pan instead). Prove until double in size, about 1 hour.
  9. Brush the dough with egg glaze and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
  10. Bake in pre-heated oven at 220 deg C (I set mine to 200 deg C) and bake for 40mins until golden-coloured and hollow-sounding when tapped underneath. Leave to cool completely before slicing.

    Source: adapted from Bread, Baking by Hand or Bread Machine by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno

Saturday 15 September 2007

Another Yogurt Cake

This is yet another yogurt cake I have made within a week. Yes, I know, this Strawberry Yogurt Cake doesn't look really appetizing with all the cracks and holes on the cake surface. I have poured in too much batter into the pan before adding in the strawberries, and I must have added too much strawberries too, as a result, the remaining batter was not enough to cover the strawberries. So most of the strawberries were peeking out of the batter but I still went ahead to bake the cake. Hence, I ended up with a very much pimpled-face cake ;'(

The recipe is as straight forward as the lemon yogurt cake I made last week. With only a few stiring and mixing, the batter is formed and ready for baking. This cake was done with the help of not just one, or two, but three eager assistants! My niece came over to play with the boys after school. She showed great interest in what I was going to bake and offered her help. Naturally, the other two kids also made their way into the kitchen. The three of them crowded around the kitchen table, each taking turns to stir, add, and crack the eggs. So, with three extra pairs of hands, a rather easy recipe became a little "complicated". Everyone wanted to have a hand in every single step, and would made noise whenever the others took a little longer to stir the mixture, or sieved in too much flour and so on, and so on. I am not complaining though, I really enjoyed their company, it's fun to be able to share your hobby especially with your loved ones, even if it means having to do the extra work of cleaning up the mess they have created.

Despite the not too nice appearance, the cake was quite tasty. It was moist, fluffy and tasted almost like freshly baked muffins. After taking a few small bites, my niece came back to ask for a whole slice of cake. She even requested to pack some home. My younger boy gobbled down a slice in no time. My elder boy was the only who didn't show much interest as he didn't like the sourish strawberries. This cake is made with some ground almonds, which I believe is not that commonly used in other similar yogurt cakes. I wasn't able to taste the ground almonds when I first tested the cake. It was only when I had a whole slice of it for breakfast the next day, then I could taste the nutty bits in the crumbs. I was a little hesitant whether to post the recipe as I am really not sure about its original source. However, since it is indeed a simple and yet great in taste cake, I thought I should share it here. I thank the originator for sharing this recipe, and I hope I can get the source soon.


125ml (1/2 cup) yogurt
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
60g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
3 eggs
95g (1/2 cup) ground almond
140g (1 cup) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125ml (1/2 cup) oil (I used olive oil)
some strawberries, diced


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degC. Grease and line a 20cm round pan with baking paper.
  2. Mix yogurt, sugar, eggs in a large bowl.
  3. Add ground almonds and sieve over flour and baking powder. Mix till combined.
  4. Add oil and mix well.
  5. Fill 2/3 of the batter in the prepared pan, arrange diced strawberries on the batter and pour the rest of the remaining batter over the strawberries.
  6. Bake at 180 degC for 40-50mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 20mins before unmoulding.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

I Can Eat A Rainbow

While we were doing our weekend grocery shopping at the supermarket, my elder boy stopped to read the sign boards that were on display at the fruits and vegetables section. There was some information on the different nutrients provided by the different coloured fruits and vegetables. Besides green, the other coloured fruits and vegetables are red, orange, yellow and purple. Each colour group of fruits and veg will give different nutrients. I make a mental note of it and told myself I should try to introduce more colours to our diets.

I had in my mind to make a pumpkin bread yesterday, but decided against it when it was pouring heavily early in the morning. Unless I want to use the full bread machine cycle to make the bread, I always think twice before making bread on a rainy day! It will take ages for the dough to proof. So, without knowing what to make for breakfast for the following day, I went off to the nearby wet market to get my fresh food supplies. I was glad that I managed to get a few varieties of fresh fruits from the neighbourhood fruit store...there were Korean pears, kiwi fruits, oranges and a punnet of strawberries in my shopping bags. After looking at the various coloured fruits, I decided that I should use them to bake something. What is more convenient other than a tart, which I can pile up with all the fruits I have. What more, it will be excellent if I can include all the 5 coloured fruits in the tart!

I followed a Strawberry Frangipane tart recipe that is from the same cookbook for the Peach Tart. The method is almost the same, just that the proportion of the ingredients is slightly different, and you don't bake the fruits together with the almond fillings. It took me almost a whole day to complete this tart! I made the tart shell in the morning, the almond filling just after lunch and I only managed to put the fruit toppings in the late afternoon! I've intended to make 3 rings of fruits, but I realised that the tart is too small (only 18cm), so I could only managed 2 rings, so I had to alternate the oranges and kiwi slices in the second ring. I tried to include all the fruit colours, and since I don't have any blueberries, I used blueberry jam instead of the strawberries spread called for in the original recipe. It was only after I completed my 'master piece', I then noticed that I have missed out yellow :,(

I made a strawberry fan after reading about it from a cookbook I just borrowed. The fan didn't really look like a fan, rather it looks more like a crane from a distant. It was only after I downloaded my photos that I noticed that it also looks like a rose or a tulip from this angle :)

Here's how to go about making the strawberry fan:
Clean and pat dry a large strawberry. Do not hull. Place the strawberry with the pointed end up. Cut several vertical slices very close to the stalk end, take care not to cut through so that the slices are still attached. Press the stalk end gently to make the slices fan out.

Needless to say, my family members like this fruity tart a lot...I could only save one small slice for my little for his afternoon tea today.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Peony of My Culinary Journal has passed me this award! I have not received any form of awards for ages, and it definitely made my day! Thanks Peony! and I'll like to pass this award to:

Elyn of E's Joie for her creativity and passion in baking!
Anne of Simply Anne's for her great talents and amazing creations!
Mandy of Fresh From The Oven, she sure can cook and bake, and she makes great desserts too!
Anh of Food Lover's Journey, another talented cook and baker, and she's still so young!
Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen, well, she's a all-rounder, what more can I say :)

Thanks so much, gals, for sharing all your wonderful stories and great photos!!

(make one 18cm tart)

80g flour
20g ground almond
30g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
1 tablespoon (15g) lightly beaten egg

2 teaspoon flour
40g ground almond
3 tablespoon brown sugar
30g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
30g egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

some blueberry jam
fresh fruits of your choice, sliced and well drained
icing sugar for dusting

Pastry base:

  1. Lightly grease an 18cm tart pan, set aside.
  2. Toast ground almond at 100 degC for 10 mins. Stirring in between. Let cool.
  3. Sieve flour and ground almond.
  4. With a manual whisk, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  5. Add in the egg, very gradually, whisking the batter till well mixed each time the egg is added.
  6. Sieve over the flour/ground almond mixture in 2 to 3 additions into the batter. Fold the mixture gently with a spatula.
  7. Form and shape the pastry into a round ball. Roll out the pastry in between 2 sheets of cling wrap or baking paper (I used two sheets of cut-out plastic bags) to about 23cm in diameter.
  8. Remove one side of the cling wrap or baking paper. Place the pastry over the prepared tart pan. Mould the pastry into the tart pan, smoothing the edges and the rim carefully...if the pastry is too soft to handle, chill it in the fridge for 10~15 mins.
  9. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 20mins.
  10. Use a fork to poke holes on the pastry. Brush the top of the rim with egg wash. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 10 ~12mins until the edges are slightly browned. Let cool completely.

  11. With a whisk, cream butter and brown sugar till the mixture turns fluffy. Add in the egg gradually, mix well each time the egg is added.
  12. Add in ground almond. Fold with a spatula till well incorporated. Sieve over the flour onto the mixture. Mix with a spatula. Add in vanilla extract and mix well.
  13. Spread the filling onto the cooled pastry base. Ensure that the edges are filled up. Bake in pre-heated oven at 170 deg C for 15 ~ 20 mins, until the surface turn golden brown. Let cool completely. Spread the top with blueberry jam and top with fresh fruit slices, dust the edges with some icing sugar.

    Recipe Source: adapted from Delicious!! Baked Cakes, Ikuko Omori

Thursday 6 September 2007

The Power of Food

After hearing great reviews by my "cyber friend", vb, I was all geared up to make a French style, Lemon Yoghurt Cake yesterday afternoon.

Now, vb has pointed me to two almost similar recipes...and it took me some time deciding which one to use. Both use almost the same ingredients, they are seemingly easy to make and both look equally gorgeous.

I only managed to make the decision after I watched the video clip of Molly of Orangette. The video clip is featured over at Food Network. It's about how her lemon yogurt cake brought her and her husband together, what a lovely story!! It's really amazing how food can bring two total strangers together :)

While I was busy zesting the lemons, my younger one was lured into the kitchen by the nice smell of lemons. He offered to help me when he found out that I was going to bake a lemon cake. This cake is a very simple and straight forward to make...with just a few stirring and mixing, it was all done. After I popped the cake into the oven, I went to send a message to vb, telling her that I had just made the cake...and I was pleasantly surprised to know that she had also just baked hers! Great, I thought, this would be interesting...we would be able to compare notes right after mine was done.

Since both of us made the same cake at about the same time, but over at two in my little kitchen in Singapore and she in her Hong Kong apartment...I suggested to her that I would love to do a post of both our bakes. I was so glad that she agreed to it right on :)

Ok, here's how our cakes turn out:

This is vb's beautiful, sunny-looking, lemon & lime yogurt cake...

a very delicious looking slice...

and my version:

looks so different right?!

Mine turned out to be a total flop ;p The cake was rather flat and dense...unlike vb's which looked so soft and fluffy! I believe it was due to the low oven temperature, my oven is not giving me the accurate temperature setting. I guess I really have to get an oven thermometer soon. I followed Molly's recipe quite closely, except that I used an 8 inch pan instead of a 9 inch one as recommended. My cake took longer than the time required to bake and I had to cover the cake with foil and bake it for another 15 mins or so before the toothpick inserted into the centre came out clean. Due to my boy's poor mixing/stirring skills (yes, I am blaming him! poor kid!), there were several black dots on the cake surface...I suppose, it was a result of speckles of flour trapped in air bubbles.

Here's another nice shot of vb's cake...

and mine was uncooked in the centre :'(

Although my cake didn't turn out well, other than the uncooked centre, it still tasted rather good. The lemon glaze really jazz up the cake a great deal. The cake was half gone by dinner time!

It was fun writing this post...and this marks my 100th post!! I shall dedicate this post to vb, who shares the same craze in baking like me ;) Thank you for sharing all your baking experiences with me...and it always bring a smile to my face whenever I read your messages. I am so glad that you found my food blog, if not I won't be able to know someone like you in my lifetime! See, that's the Power of Food!

Wednesday 5 September 2007

Rocky Road

While I was looking through a yogurt cake recipe, my son came over to tell me that he'll love to have some brownies. Oh well, since he has asked for it, I'll rather bake something which the kids would eat, otherwise I may end up having to finish up whatever reminding bakes I made.

After scanning through a few brownies recipes, I still couldn't find a suitable one. Finally, I decided to use the same Nuts and Chocolate Chips brownies recipe that I've tried a few weeks back. This time round, I added walnuts to the batter, and used some marshmallows and chocolate chips as toppings and turned it into a Rocky Road brownies.

As you can see from the photo, the brownies didn't turn out that well. It's all due to my oversight :'( After turning down the oven temperature to 140 degC to toast the walnuts, I have forgotten to turn it up to 180 degC. Yes, I baked the brownies at 140 degC for 25 mins and merrily took it out and covered it with the toppings. It was only after 10mins later, I noticed that it shouldn't take sooo long for the marshmallows to brown...and it was only then that I realised the oven temperature was not right! So, by 'instinct', I turned up the temperature and within a couple of mins, there was smoke coming out from the oven! The marshmallows were almost burnt! I quickly removed the pan and covered it with foil and let it bake for another 15mins.

As a result, the brownies was a little under baked. The centre was soft and fudgy. Luckily, it still tasted quite good, and the kids love it, even my husband was all thumbs-up. My niece who came over to play had also asked for second helpings. The marshmallow topping was indeed very delicious...the texture was rather chewy, reminds me of mozzarella cheese...yum!