Saturday, December 21, 2013

A perfectly baked "steamed" fruit cake ^^

happy birthday, mel ^^ this baked-steamed fruit cake is dedicated to you

This was written a year ago, but never gottten round to posting it...

I never quite got over the yummy steamed fruit cake that burnt and left scars on my hands..

The need to "slay" this bake has been playing in my head for the longest time! But there was no way I was going anywhere near the electric steamer! Certainly not for 4 hours!

So I did some research and decided to bake the same recipe using a slow oven and bain-marie method (water bath).. ^^ for a 4-hour bake! ^^

Baked "steamed" fruit cake (recipe adapted from mel@melspantrykitchen)

250g butter, softened (tip from bisouatoi ~ use SALTED butter ie. golden churn! I did ^^)
80g fine sugar (I used 50g)
1 tsp ground nutmeg (I prefer to use only 3/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp orange essence (I used 3 tbsp marmalade jam ^^ ~ it's very good!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

B (combined & sifted)
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

C (combined)
300g dried mixed fruits, raisins, etc (macerate in lots and lots of rum ^^, optional)
50g walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
20g plain flour

D (caramel)
200g sugar

1. Prepare water bath and place in oven of 140C. Tip: use a medium/big square baking tray, filled with water and place in lower most oven shelf. Heat water in the oven (at 180C, turn down to 140C when ready to bake) or use hot water if you like. There's NO NEED to place cake tin "into" the water bath ^^  

2. Combine A, except eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon.

3. Add eggs, one at a time till well combined. Do not overmix.

4. Add B and mix well.

5. Fold in C.

6. Prepare D (caramel) by placing sugar into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. As sugar melts from the sides, fold it to the center. DO NOT STIR. When sugar is completely melted and turned dark brown, remove from heat and VERY CAREFULLY and SLOWLY add to the fruit cake mixture. Caramelized sugar will harden almost immediately when folding into cake mixture.. the hardened bits can still be mixed into the cake batter. Be super-careful of burning hot liquid caramel!

7. Pour mixture into a lined 8" square/round baking tin. Cover baking tin with grease paper and aluminium foil. Tie with a string to keep lid in place. I did this step anyways, even though I wasn't planning to steam the cake.. I wasn't sure what to do and was worried the top might get burnt! Still, I recommend doing this anyways..         

8. Place cake tin on the second lowest shelf (or whichever shelf one usually use for baking ^^) and bake at 140C for 4 hours. After baking for 3 hours, remove lid and continue baking for another hour. Remove the tray of water as well ~ which probably would have been depleted of water by now.

* Best served after resting cake for a day or two ^^

Same recipe, different baking methods.. almost-different cakes! While the steamed fruit cake was deliciously light and airy in taste and texture, the baked version's a little different.. it's a tad bit more rich (maybe due to the use of salted butter!), perfectly moist (maybe due to the addition of marmalade and more rum soaked dried fruits!) and the crumbs a wee bit more packed than the steamed one.

dec 2012
dec 2012

I really enjoyed this baked "steamed" fruit cake (and it's not just me btw.. papa pig and aunt loves it too ^^!).. it's unusually addictive! I think the use of salted butter and addition of marmalade jam brought this cake to another level of wonderful too! This cake meets all expectations of the perfect fruit cake of my dreams ^^ dark, rich yet light and moist. ^^

Oh, yes.. I'm not sure why, but I really didn't feel that this was a 4-hour bake.. unlike the anxiety filled 4-hour steaming the last time. I totally forgot all about the cake in the oven till unbelievably wonderful smells came out from the kitchen ^^! And good news, I didn't get burnt at all this time! ^^

Well, just in case this is all a fluke, I'm planning to make this again soonest! ^^

Fast forward one year later.....

Well, "soonest" didn't quite make it till a year later, haha! But here I am, finally! ^^

And it's no fluke! It works and it's DELICIOUS! And it's not even been "rested" yet! Somebody had it the morning after the midnight bake-out. ^^

So how would I know it's delicious??? Well, if fatty hubby can finish a big chunk of cake by himself.. without leaving any for me.. you just know!!! ^^

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! ^^

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cranberry n pistachio biscotti ^^

" No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth ~ Robert Southey "

Cranberry and pistachio biscotti (adapted from susan
~ makes about 22pcs (or 2 containers for 2 good friends ^^)
2 scant tsps baking powder
2 cups flour
3/4 scant cup sugar
1 cup pistachio, toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
* extra beaten egg, for brushing

1. Sift baking powder and flour together. Mix in sugar, toasted pistachio and dried cranberries.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs till well mixed. Add vanilla and orange zest, and mix till blended.

3. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold till well combined. 

4. Place batter on a lined baking tray. TIP: use a spoon to scoop batter onto tray and shape it like a log. Doesn't matter how long it is (or how many logs you make), just remember that it should be just 2 inches WIDE and 3/4-1 inch high! And remember to space the logs out as the batter will spread! Brush the logs all over with lightly beaten eggs.

5. Bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 35 - 40 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and cool for about 20 minutes before slicing into 3/4-inch thick slices, with a serrated kinfe.

7. Place slices back on baking tray and bake for 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake for 8 minutes. Remove to cool.

** Biscotti tastes best after 2 days ~ it's true! ^^

It's wonderful to meet good friends again ^^. So what if we've been separated for a decade (and more! ^^).. chums will always be chums! 

Happiness is.. knowing nothing has changed.. ok, maybe the odd wrinkle or 2, haha! I missed you, friend! ^^

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Congo bars.. just don't reduce the sugar??

I'm afraid I've messed up the perfectly yummy (so they say! and I believe ^^||) congo bars!

Like brownies, congo bars probably needs the HUGE amount of sugar to keep it fudgy and moist. Of course, I realize that now.. ^^ So don't make the same mistake as I did of reducing the sugar!

I wish I can say this is yummy ~ but it's really so-so for me. Visually, this has a score of ZERO in my books! I'm really disappointed.

Well, no use dwelling on this.. on to other fun stuff! ^^

p.s surprise, surprise! baby pig and fatty hubby both think the congo bars are good (??!!)! could it be just me? well, i'm still not convinced.. so i'm planning to drizzle some chocolate topping over ~ at least it'll look that bit better! ^^

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Decadently luscious superlicious cinnamon rolls!!! ^^

Decadent. Luscious. Superlicious. NO-KNEAD! Yes, what are you waiting for???!!! ^^

Run straight into the kitchen or the baking supplies store, people!!! These are so so so so so soooooooo gooooooood! Of course, that's after reducing ALL the sugars by HALF! These cinnamon rolls by ree@thepioneerwoman are soooooooo delicious!!! Thanks so much, janine@unpastiche, for the recommendation! They are amazing!!! ^^

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls (recipe from thepioneerwoman)
~ makes 27 rolls in 3 7-inch square trays
2 cups / 500 ml milk
1/2 cup / 125 ml vegetable oil
* 1/4 scant cup sugar
1 packet active dry yeast / 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 cups all purpose flour (bread + all purpose is good ^^)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 scant tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (227g) melted butter
2 tbsp cinnamon powder
* 1/4 cup sugar (brown+white ^^)

1. Bring milk, oil and sugar to just short of a boil. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

2. Add active dry yeast to lukewarm milk mixture and leave it to sit and bubble. Omit this step if using instant yeast.

3. If using instant yeast, blend in with the 4 cups of flour. Add flour into the milk mixture and mix till well combined. Cover and leave to double in size for about 1 hour.

4. Mix the extra 1/2 cup flour with baking powder and baking soda till well blended. Add the flours into the dough till well combined.

5. Refrigerate dough for later use or use immediately. Refrigerating overnight would be a good choice ^^

6. Generously flour working surface, and roll out dough thinly into a rectangle. Tip: Wrap rolling pin with plastic cling wrap.. you'll see! ^^

7. Spread melted butter all over dough. Sprinkle cinnamon powder and sugar all over evenly.

8. Roll dough from the long end towards you. Roll tightly and pinch the seams to seal.

9. Slice rolls into 3/4 or 1 inch thick and place them in greased baking tins. Leave to rise for 20-30 minutes.

10. Bake in preheated oven of 400F/200C till light golden brown for 15-20 minutes.

11. Remove and drizzle generously with sauce/topping of your choice! ^^

Easy caramel sauce (recipe from leitesculinaria)
~ make 1 1/2 cups
* 1/2 scant cup brown sugar
1 stick / 115g butter
1/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
1/4 cup honey
** add 2-3 pinches of sea salt ~ you won't regret this!

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Lower heat  and continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes. Drizzle over anything you fancy! ^^

I've sort of gotten the feel for rolling the dough after that one practise on italian cheese and herb pinwheels ^^ And these cinnamon rolls definitely benefitted from that maiden attempt, haha! ^^ 

Well, I must confess that I was a wee sceptical about the no-knead part, but these rolls turned out amazingly soft and fluffy inside. And the crust is nicely crisp and browned. So you can imagine how good it tastes with ooey-gooey sticky caramel sauce! ^^

Oh yes, because I reduce the sugars by half in the dough and filling, the rolls were just nicely sweet, not tooth achingly-sweet. As such it's totally perfect with caramel sauce or any frosting for that matter! ^^

I believe, like ree, I must be the most popular aunt and neighbour today! ^^

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A delicate castella cake ^^

Thanks, mel! I can't believe I made this.. and successfully too, at my first attempt! ^^

I had not planned on making castella cake ever, after reading the difficult steps and many failed- attempts stories. But after mel's text and encouragement to try it, because it tasted really good ^^.. and a re-look into the recipe that she used and also nami's of justonecookbook ^^.. as well as a "technical" discussion with her over whatsapp ^^, I decided to give it a go..

And lo and behold! A beautifully risen, soft and fluffily moist castella cake ~ a perfect cake.. almost, hehe! ^^

Castella cake (inspired by mel@melspantrykitchen, adapted from rotinrice and justonecookbook)
~ makes a small loaf
2 egg whites
70g sugar (MUST REDUCE to 35-40g next time!!!)
2 egg yolks
1.5 tbsp honey +1 tbsp water
60g bread flour (BREAD or HIGH PROTEIN flour only!), sift 2-3 times!

1 tbsp + 1 tbsp water, dissolved

1. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites till foamy. Add sugar and beat till stiff and shiny, about 4 MINUTES.

2. Mix in egg yolks till combined.

3. Add honey+water and beat till well combined for 1 MINUTE.

4. Fold in flour gently into the batter using the mixer whisk or by hand using a WHISK.

5. GREASE (MUST! MUST! MUST!!!) baking tin, and line with paper (see here and here). This is important, so that cake doesn't cave in or shrink too much at the sides.

6. Gently pour cake mixture into lined baking tin. Remove bubbles by making a zig zag motion using a skewer, through the batter. Make sure to smooth the surface of the batter before putting it in the oven.

7. Bake in a preheated oven of 155-160C for about 40-45 minutes, or till golden brown, or till throughly baked.

8. Remove cake from baking tin and brush top with honey+water glaze. And immediately wrap it with plastic cling wrap. Place and leave cake overnight in the refrigerator.

9. Slice off and tidy up the sides before serving. Enjoy! ^^  

This cake turned out almost faultless ~ perfect texture, perfect rise, perfect moistness, perfect looks, perfect scent.. and perfect taste too.. if only it wasn't so sweet! I'm sure the sweetness level is pretty acceptable for most people, and if you're having it with green tea or unsugared tea or coffee. Maybe it's just us ~ too much of a sugar rush for us piggies! Even the king of sweet, baby pig commented that it's perfect but too sweet! ^^

i love instagram ^^

Anyway, this was still a very, very enjoyable treat ^^. Perfect with coffee! ^^

p.s. a pix of castella cake from Ginso, bought during our osaka trip last year. my first taste of "real" castella cake and it was just ok for us.. hence never attempted to make it since..that and the fact i still felt jinxed at making something resembling a chiffon cake, haha! ^^||

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finally.. italian cheese and herb pinwheels!

I've had active dried yeast die on me. But instant yeast???????!!!!!

Yup, that happened too! ^^|| Well, I'll not go into specifics, but this is my 3rd/4th attempt for the 2nd weekend running on these little rolls! All to make my little piggies, especially big pig, happy! ^^ So there.

Italian cheese and herbs pinwheels (recipe inspired by foodiebaker, adapted from
~ makes 9 rolls
1 3/4 cups flour, + more if necessary
1 tsp yeast
a pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
2 small eggs
1/2 cup lukewarm water or milk
60g softened butter
1 tsp dried italian herbs
150 - 200g grated cheese (use a mix of tasty cheeses!)
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix all dry ingredients together till well blended. Add eggs and water/milk till well combined. Then add softened butter to the dough. Expect dough to be soft and sticky.

3. Knead dough till smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

4. Punch dough down, and roll out into a 8x11" rectangle.

5. Spread some beaten egg all over the dough, leaving some space to the edges. Sprinkle herbs and grated cheese evenly on the dough. Roll dough up from the shorter end and cut them into 9 discs.

6. Place rolls into a greased 8-inch square tin and bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 35-40 minutes, or till golden.

I've always, always wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but somehow just never plucked up the courage to ^^||. Yes, I've always had a mental road-block towards making cinnamon rolls! So I'm not quite sure why I didn't feel the same fear for these little savory rolls!

Well, ok, now that I've gotten them out of the way, I can say these rolls aren't that difficult after all ^^. I know I didn't quite do a good job this time.. the rolls were sliced rather unevenly, I didn't bake them immediately and had them stuffed in the fridge overnight (bad idea!), etc.. And boy, they sure turned out ugly! But I now know I can do better the next time! Isn't that a wonderful thing to look forward to.. no more fear of making cinnamon rolls, or any other rolls for that matter! ^^

Anyway, as ugly as the pinwheels were, there wasn't an oink (of complain) from my piggies.. they ate them up just fine ^^! Sometimes it pays to have nephews who are aesthetically blind!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

a boozy treat for big ^^

Big pig turned 17 yesterday. ^^

And his good aunt, that's me ^^ baked him a boozy cheesecake! In his favorite ice-cream flavor, rum n raisin ~ oh, yums!

Rum n raisin cheesecake (recipe adapted from Alex Goh's blueberry cheesecake recipe)
~ makes 12 cupcakes (easy share of happiness and fat! ^^) 

250g cream cheese
50g sugar
15g flour
2 egg yolks
200ml sour cream
2 egg whites
35g sugar
10g cornflour
150 - 200g raisins & sultanas, macerate for 5 days in lots of rum ^^

1. Prepare water bath and preheat oven to 150C.

2. Cream 50g sugar and cream cheese till light and fluffy.

3. Mix in flour till well combined.

4. Add in egg yolks, and beat till light and creamy.

5. Pour sour cream into cream cheese mixture and mix well. Do not over beat.

6. Fold in raisins till well combined.

7. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and 35g sugar till stiff. Do not over beat. Gently fold in cornflour.

8. Mix in egg whites mixture to cream cheese mixture gently till well combined.

9. Line a 6 or 7" round cake tin or 12-cupcake tins. Fill up cake or cupcake cases till 3/4 or almost full.

10. Bake in water bath for 90 minutes for a whole cake, or 45-50 minutes if using cupcake/muffin tins. Leave cheesecake to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

11. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with more rum-laced raisins, if you like ^^.

* Note: I reduced the quantity of flours from the original cheesecake recipe, hence my cheesecakes actually cracked, but they came together again when cooled.. Anyways, I have no problem with cracked tops ^^ I'd rather that than "floury-tasting" cheesecakes! ^^

I really like this cheesecake base recipe. Not only is it wonderful with blueberry, it's also totally yummy-licious with apple! And it rocks rum n raisin too! Soooooooo delish!!!!!!! I mean it! ^^

Big loves this cheesecake ^^ So do we! ^^ ^^ ^^

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A little late.. but that's just the way it is^^

I've always been a late bloomer, a slow starter, a non-traditionalist.

Yes, these are mooncakes. Yes, it's pretty late.. way past the festival, I know. I wasn't convinced to make any, not till I saw the cute piggy mooncakes all over the blogsphere. However piggies are really beyond me after looking at the how-to.. I can't even make anything out of play-dough!

But I'm reminded of how much I used to love traditional piggy mooncakes that come in plastic baskets.. and I had a re-look into traditional mooncake recipes. And they seem really easy (?) ~ was it possible?

My interest was piqued, but I was convinced to make it next year. However, walking into a baking supplies shop this week that had all the ingredients and moulds still out .. I just couldn't resist ^^. And I had some anko I wanted to get rid of too. ^^

So I made mooncakes with lots of dough and minimal filling ~ my kind of mooncake ^^ using mel's traditional mooncake recipe, which she adapted from here and here . ^^

Anyways, I couldn't wait, so I broke one and tasted.. I know I'm supposed to wait for 2-3 days.. but no problem, it tastes pretty good! However, the anko filling is really way too sweet despite my using that tiny bit of it ^^|| Wish I had omitted the sweet sweet anko!

I can't wait to taste the finished product after 3 days! I just know the skin's going to be good ~ just the way I like it ^^

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hello September! ^^

There's nothing like waking up on a lazy Sunday to a friend's well wishes for a good day, and crusty bread and coffee for brunch! Definitely one of life's greatest pleasures, in my opinion! ^^

Crusty rye bread with cream cheese, raisins and apricots (recipe adapted from latartinegourmande)
~ makes 3 loaves
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour
2 tbsp butter, diced, room temperature
1 cup water (or milk ^^)
2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1.8 tsp instant yeast ^^)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
50g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (I forgot to add ^^||)
50g raisins
50g dried apricots, roughly chopped
125 g cream cheese, diced

1. If using active dry yeast, sprinkle them on top of 4 tbsp of lukewarm water and leave to froth for 5 mins. Slowly add to flour, sugar and salt mixture.

2. If using instant yeast, just add to flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix together till well blended.

3. Add diced softened butter and water (or milk) to the dry ingredients, and mix together.

4. Knead with hands/electric mixer till dough is elastic (window pane stage) and forms a ball.

5. Cover and let it rise till it doubles in size.

6. Punch down and add dried fruits and nuts. Knead the dough till all the dried fruits and nuts are well combined.

7. Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll them out. Put cream cheese in the center and fold and pinch the dough edges together. Roll dough over so that the folds are at the bottom. Place them on the baguette tin and leave to rise for a bit (20-30mins).

8. Preheat oven to 410F or 210C, and place an empty tray on the lowest rack.

9. Make a few slashes on the surface and spray some water on the rolls before putting them into a well-heated oven. To get crusty rolls, spray some water into the oven and throw in some ice cubes into the empty tray to get the "steam-effect" right after putting the rolls into the oven. Remove the tray (of water) about 20 minutes into baking. 

10. Bake for 30-35 minutes (or longer) till the loaves are nicely golden and sound hollow when tapped. Remove and leave to cool.

I'm really happy to find success with this recipe again! ^^ I've not dared to attempt this bread again since the first (and only!) time I made it last year ~ which I thought was a fluke (!!!) ~ and left it at that so that I can retain sweet, happy memories of my "success", haha! ^^

But recently, I found the baguette tin of my dreams at a "decent" price! And it is SOOOOO worth it! ^^ Just look at the cornmeal effect at the bottom of the loaf in the pix above! Worth eating "roti" for a while after the splurge, haha! ^^

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Carrot cream cheese cake

This is a cake that sounds and looks better than it tastes, if that's possible ^^||! Well, at least in my mind, that is.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good cake (recipe from houseofannie) ^^. It's just that I had built up the wildest, imaginary taste and flavor for this cake in my mind.. soft, gooey cream cheese swirling in the midst of cake.. just like my favorite rye bread dotted with lots of cream cheese and dried fruits ^^. Alas, the actual cake fell a little short of the one that I had dreamt of. No fault of the recipe.. it's just me.

I've made carrot cakes using the butter creaming method before and the cakes were numero uno good! So I had a higher than high expectation for this cake with the addition of cream cheese in the cake batter itself! But this is a slightly different recipe, and I now know I made a few mistakes, which I must remember whenever I make carrot cake again.

1. Use brown sugar! Previously I had only used brown sugar in all my bakes ~ hence all my carrot cakes looked golden brown, not golden yellow! And tasted a little different too..

2. Cinnamon. I forgot this time round ~ hence the lack of a subtle layer of zing..

3. Use more carrot! This recipe called for 200g, I used a bit more ~ 2 medium carrots.. And it's still not quite enough! Use at least 3-4 medium ones!

Back to this cake. The cream cheese (go all out ~ use 250g! ^^) in the cake is a wonderful idea! Cake looks amazing when sliced! ^^ And tastes delish too! The subtle cream cheese filling goes really well with the cake. ^^ Check out houseofannie for the recipe.

Well, it's finally Sunday today.. my last cook-and-bake-out marathon day. I'm happy to report I've had a really productive holiday.. cooking and baking to my heart's content ^^! And not spent on mall crawling ^^||.

And to end the long weekend with a bang, I have melt-in-the-mouth (I hope ^^!) maple chipotle pork ribs baking in the oven ~ Cheers! ^^

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bacon and brie quiche

Not too long ago, during a period of "uninspiredness", I asked my muse, big pig, to give me something, anything.. off his mind. He said, "bacon and brie".

Bacon and brie (and spinach) quiche
Pastry (recipe from Dean Brettschneider's Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato & Potato Tart)
160g flour
120g butter, diced
a pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp fresh milk

150-180g bacon, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
a handful of spinach (fresh or frozen)
125-200g brie, chopped roughly (use more! ^^)
5 eggs
1 1/2 cup fresh milk (or heavy cream, if not on diet ^^)
salt and pepper, to season

1. Prepare pastry. Blitz flour, butter and salt together with an electric mixer or processor, till they resemble breadcrumbs. Add fresh milk and mix till a dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins or overnight. Or shortcut by rolling out pastry immediately and place on greased 22-cm round or rectangular tart tin, prick the base and then cover and refrigerate ^^.

2. Bake-blind pastry shell at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for another 5 mins. Or just use as it is, straight from the refrigerator, no baking required.. it works too! ^^

3. In a non-stick pan, cook sliced bacon till brown and fragrant. Remove and leave to cool.

4. In the same pan, saute onions for at least 40 minutes on medium heat for caramelized onions. Add a bit of water to soften onions if you wish. When it's nicely softened, remove and set aside to cool.

5. Wilt spinach quickly in a pot of boiling water. Drain and squeeze out the water from the spinach. Leave to cool.

6. In a bowl, mix eggs, fresh milk, salt and pepper till well blended.

7. To assemble, place spinach evenly on the pastry shell, followed by caramelized onions. Then add cooked bacon. Dot chopped brie all over. Gently pour the egg mixture over.

8. Bake in a preheated oven of 200C for 40 minutes, or 220C for 30 minutes, till golden.

This is another fabulous quiche that had big pig "wincing" deliriously ~ yes, it's that good! ^^ You'll just have to believe it as I didn't have any.. I didn't want to take any "joy" off big and baby who really dig this!

Of course, I had another quiche made just for me ^^!

Some tomatoes, some leftover bacon and minced chicken meat.. a big sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese ^^ ~ and voila! a baby quiche just for me.. and fatty. ^^

It feels really good to be baking like this ^^. Now, what should I do next? ^^

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Deliciousness ~ kuih akok ^^

I've been a bad girl! Not cooking nor baking for the past few weeks..

Well, I just couldn't resist all the deliciousness at the pasar ramadans! I've been having a whopping good time pasar ramadan hopping, checking and bingeing (of course! ^^) on all the yummies on offer! ^^ A whole month of bliss, aah...! ^^

Of course my happy run had to come to an end.. but there's the long weekend hols to look forward to ^^ Yay!

So to celebrate the first day of the long hols and to make up for lost time, I decided on a marathon cook and bake-out! ^^

Kuih Akok Kelantan (recipe from aziejaya, original from myresipi)
~ makes 12 pcs
5 eggs
200ml coconut milk (I like Kara coconut milk ^^)
100ml water
120g gula melaka, chopped roughly (I used gula melaka from Terengganu which comes in discs)
30g all purpose flour
3 pandan leaves, tear/cut into smaller pieces
a pinch of salt

1. In a pan, bring water, gula melaka and pandan leaves to a boil, or till gula melaka has dissolved. Remove from stove.

2. Add coconut milk to the gula melaka water.

3. When mixture is cooled, add eggs and flour. Mix well. Sieve mixture into a bowl/pouring jug.

4. Preheat oven at 200C and place WELL-OILED (more is necessary to ensure cakes doesn't stick to bottoms) muffin tin into oven as well.

5. Divide mixture and fill up muffin tins evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes for a nicely browned kuih ^^.  

This is my current favorite malay kuih ~ I just love the browned/burnt crust and moist, pudding-like insides (note the holey, crumpled, ultra-soft texture in the pix above) ~ overtaking my all-time kuih bakar by a whisker ^^

I had to make this kuih because I missed out on it the last weekend at the pasar ramadan in tg lumpur when I was back home in kuantan. To appease my craving, I decided to have a go at this kuih during the hols. And believe me, this tastes as lusciously good as the stall-bought ones! ^^

They say the best akok is sold in Kelantan, so I guess a trip to Kota Bahru is in order. But till I get there, this recipe works just as well! ^^

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A celebration tart ^^

This started out as a spinach and capers tart. But along the way, it got sidetracked with the addition of bacon, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes!

And became celebration tart ^^ since it was a mouthful to name all the yummy ingredients ^^||, plus it was indeed made in celebration of big pig's good results in his AP World History. ^^

Celebration tart (recipe adapted from Dean Brettschneider's PIE and strandsofmylife)
Pastry (recipe from Dean Brettschneider's Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato & Potato Tart)
160g flour
120g butter, diced
a pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp fresh milk

100-150g bacon, sliced thinly
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
2 handsful of spinach (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp capers
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup fresh milk (or heavy cream, if not on diet ^^)
cherry tomatoes, halved (as many as you like ~ put lots, yums ^^)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or a handful, or 2 ^^)
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (a handful, or 2)
salt and pepper, to season

1. Prepare pastry. Blitz flour, butter and salt together with an electric mixer or processor, till they resemble breadcrumbs. Add fresh milk and mix till a dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins or overnight. Or shortcut by rolling out pastry immediately and place on greased 22-cm round or rectangular tart tin, prick the base and then cover and refrigerate ^^.

2. Bake-blind pastry shell at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for another 5 mins. Or just use as it is, straight from the refrigerator, no baking required.. it works too! ^^

3. In a non-stick pan, cook sliced bacon till brown and fragrant. Remove and leave to cool.

4. In the same pan, saute onions for at least 40 minutes on medium heat for caramelized onions. Add a bit of water to soften onions if you wish. When it's nicely softened, remove and set aside to cool.

5. Wilt spinach quickly in a pot of boiling water. Drain and squeeze out the water from the spinach. Leave to cool.

6. In a bowl, mix beaten eggs, fresh milk, salt and pepper till well blended.

7. To assemble, place spinach evenly on the pastry shell, followed by caramelized onions. Then add capers and cooked bacon. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese all over filling. Gently pour the egg mixture over. Dot the halved tomatoes all over the filling and top with some grated cheddar cheese.

8. Bake in a preheated oven of 200C for 40 minutes, or 220C for 30 minutes, till golden.

This tart may be made with big pig in mind, but this just became my favorite tart! And all because of the cherry tomatoes! I love its sweetness and flavor that perfectly balances the savory of this tart.

Well, I'm happy to report that big pig loves this. Well, all of us did! My carnivorous baby pig couldn't even taste the spinach at all ^^. Neither could we of the capers! And my spinach stayed very much green even post-baking! ^^

This is a delish tart I'll be making again ~ a keeper! ^^

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tiramisu for you?

I had a request for tiramisu last week.

But I couldn't quite bring myself to do it immediately. I procrastinated because I had major reservations about making tiramisu. More so when it came from a friend's son who was recovering from a bout of viral infection. I was worried about the use of raw eggs! ^^||

Besides, I just don't have the best/perfect recipe for tiramisu yet ^^||!

The few times I made tiramisu, my piggies didn't exactly "ooh-and-aah-ed" over it, so I knew the quest continues.. Nevertheless, they still wiped it clean each time ^^!

Anyways, after much googling and using pasteurized eggs, I decided to have another go at tiramisu ^^

Tiramisu (recipe adapted from browneyedbaker)
~ makes 12 servings 
2 cups espresso
4 tbsps rum
4 egg yolks (use pasteurized eggs ^^)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound mascarpone (I used 500g ^^ since a tub came in 250g)
3/4 cup whipping cream
36 savoiardi / ladyfingers / sponge biscuits
some cocoa powder
grated dark chocolate

1. Mix in 2 tbsps rum to the 2 cups of espresso.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks at low speed till combined. Add sugar and beat till pale yellow at medium speed for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 tbsps of rum and mix till well blended. Fold in mascarpone and beat till smooth, around 45 seconds.

3. In another bowl, beat whipping cream till firm and soft peaks form.

4. Put 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture and mix till well blended. Fold in the rest, and set aside mixture.

5. Dip ladyfingers one at a time into the coffee mixture, flip over and remove. Do not submerge ladyfingers in the coffee mixture. Arrange the soaked ladyfingers in a single layer into a 9x13inch glass dish (I arranged them into 3 medium rectangular tubs and 1 freestyle on a plate ^^).

6. Next, spread half the mascarpone mixture over. Dust with some cocoa powder (use a strainer/sieve). Repeat the same steps with layering on soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone mixture and cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate for 6-24 hours before serving. And if you like, sprinkle with grated chocolate before serving. ^^

The result? "It's horrible.. just horrible! You can't take them to your friend or even chubby pig!", says baby pig.. "But you can leave them all here with us! We'll have them!" *evil laugh*

Ooh, that conniving little pig! My heart totally sank when I heard "horrible" and then soared with joy when I knew he enjoyed it.. A LOT! Big pig thinks it's very good too ^^ So does mama pig! I reckon it must be the rum.. they are suckers for anything with rum! ^^

Well, I just had some and I think they're DIVINE! Fatty hubby loves it too! I think I just might have hit gold with this recipe! ^^

Hope my friend's boys.. and chubby pig (+ chubby big brother + chubby mama) enjoy the tiramisu too! This delicious recipe makes a lot for sharing! ^^

p.s. I made yummy financiers with the leftover egg whites ^^  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boston cheesecake for Big ^^

After a dry baking spell, it feels really good to be in full swing again this weekend. And it's so therapeutic (^^) after a long week. ^^

For that I'm really grateful for the new silicone bundt moulds (zebra cake), chubby's birthday (vanilla sponge cake with blueberry filling) and big's excellent SAT results ~ all good REASONs to bake! Yay!!! ^^

But that's all done by last night. ^^

Well, you know how much I've been whining and complaining about the scorching hot weather.. guess what, the bad weather has been overtaken by a cloud of haze all over the country (and a neighbouring country ~ which have it so much worse!). Now it's not only hot and stuffy, it's also smoky and hazy ~ even indoors! And I had plans for retail therapy today ~ sigh! ^^||

So sadly, I'm stuck at home.. writing this post.

Boston cheesecake (recipe from Alex Goh, Creative Making of Cakes)
150ml fresh milk
20g sugar
3 egg yolks
20g cornflour
250g cream cheese
zest of 1/2 lemon (make it a whole lemon if you like a zesty lemon scent ^^)
130ml whipping cream
2 tbsps flour (I used only 1 tbsp, hence the crack on the surface ~ oops ^^||)
60g sultanas (add more if you like raisins ^^)
3 egg whites
60g sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

* 1- 20mm/thin slice of 8" round vanilla sponge cake

1. Bring 100ml of fresh milk and sugar from A to a boil. Add remaining milk, egg yolks and cornflour. Whisk and continue to cook till it thickens. Leave to cool and set aside. It may look lumpy, but it's ok.

2. Beat cream cheese till light and smooth, around 8-10 minutes on medium speed. Add cooled A till well blended.

3. Add C and mix well.

4. Fold in D till well combined.

5. Whip egg whites till foamy. Add sugar and lemon juice, and whip till firm and soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.

6. Gently fold in egg whites mixture into cheese batter.

7. Place sponge cake slice on greased/lined (bottom and sides) 8-inch cake tin. Pour cake mixture over. Even out cake surface and give cake tin a good tap against the table to remove air bubbles.

8. Bake in water bath (prep beforehand) at 150C for 2 hours till centre is set and top turns golden. Remove and brush with apricot gel if preferred. Can be served immediately.. but I prefer to refrigerate and let the flavors develop overnight  ^^

I've not made big's favorite cheesecake in years because I've been too lazy to prepare sponge cake (^^||)! But since I was making a sponge cake for chubby's birthday cake, I conveniently cut off a thin slice  to make this cheesecake ^^.

And the end result ~ a soft, dreamy creamy cheesecake ^^ not as rich and dense as american cheesecakes, also not as light and fluffy as a cotton/souffle japanese cheesecake.. It's a perfect in-between ~ you can easily eat more than a slice, or two.. or three.. or all, in one sitting ^^

Anyway, this cheesecake is one of my very first bakes that turned out perfect every time I made it, which was a real booster during my early baking days! And created my all-time favorite cake fan/critic.. and a cheese monster/connoisseur in big pig! ^^

Well, time flies ~ SAT was aeons from anyone's thoughts then! Look at you now, big.. all grown up and ready to fly the nest (almost! ^^).. Not too sure if I can bear/reconcile the thought of you leaving in a year.. or two ^^||

But meantime, congrats, big! I'm always proud of you! ^^

Chubby's 11 today ^^

Time flies ~ And chubby pig's another year older and heftier ^^||! Doesn't seem that long ago when I baked him cupcakes for his last birthday ^^.

This year I decided I wanted to bake him a proper cake ~ with all the trimmings aka cream frosting! ^^ And I came up with a vanilla sponge cake with blueberry filling ~ and lots of whipped cream! Fingers crossed that this cake works and chubby likes ^^..

Vanilla sponge cake with blueberry filling (recipe adapted from mamawandiha)
1 vanilla sponge cake, cut horizontal into 3 slices (cheat with ready mix ^^)
250g blueberry pie filling
Lemon syrup (juice of 1 lemon + 30g sugar + 150ml water)
500ml whipping cream, whipped till soft peaks form

1. Place 1 slice of cake on a cake board/stand. Generously brush and wet cake surface with lemon syrup. Top with a thin layer of whipped cream.

2. Place another cake slice on top. Repeat the same steps.

3. For the last/top slice, brush with lemon syrup and spread whipped cream all over cake. Spread till even and smooth. Decorate as you like ^^.

Well, I certainly know I can do with lots of practise on frosting.. ^^|| I can't quite spread out the cream totally smooth still, lots of jagged edges everywhere.. but I'd like to think of it as character lines, haha ^^. Cake looks quite nice when I think of it that way. ^^

Now we pray.. that the cake is edible! ^^ Happy Birthday, chubby! Love you buckets! ^^

p.s  the cake does look a little adult-ish and girly, right? Oops-sie, sorry chubby ^^ this is what happens when lots of cream (and an amateur baker! ^^||) is involved! definitely no rosettes (eeks!) and maybe some coloring in the frosting next time.. ^^

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Zebra bundt cake

It feels great to wake up to cake.. and coffee! And it's finally the weekend too! ^^ ^^ ^^

This is a cake I've always wanted to make ever since I caught sight of it on bakersroyale. The reason I never got round to it was not having a bundt tin. For some strange reason, I only wanted to bake this cake in a bundt tin.. a nordicware to be exact (^^).. no other mould would do! ^^||

But I've come to my senses and finally settled for a silicone bundt mould. And made my first bundt cake last night ^^

Zebra bundt butter cake (inspired by bakersroyale, recipe adapted from my best butter cake recipe)
340g salted butter
140g sugar
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
320g self-raising flour, sifted
125-150ml milk
6 egg whites
140g sugar
25g cocoa powder, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Make sure bundt tin is well greased.

2. Beat butter and 140g sugar till light and fluffy. Don't over beat. Just till it turns a shade lighter/paler and the sugar is still slightly grainy. I beat mine around 3-4 minutes on high with my electric mixer.

3. Add egg YOLKs one at time and mix in well. On slow speedBatter should turn creamy and kinda stiff.

4. Mix in vanilla extract.

5. Quickly fold in self-raising flour in 2 batches.

6. Add in milk and combine gently. Batter should be soft now. 

7. In a clean bowl, beat egg WHITES till frothy and then add in the 140g sugar in batches/bit by bit. Beat till firm and soft peaks form. When you flip bowl over, the meringue doesn't fall over. ^^ 

8. Add egg whites mixture to butter batter in 2 batches. Fold in quickly but GENTLY. 

9. Remove between 1/3 to 1/2 cake mixture into another bowl and fold in sifted cocoa powder.

10. Using an ice cream scoop, place 2 scoops of plain batter in the bundt cake mould, flatten batter a little with the back of the scoop. Then place 1 scoop of chocolate batter on top of the plain batter. See bakersroyale step by step here. Continue doing this till batter finishes. Tap mould occasionally to even out batter. If there's extra plain batter, make mini bundt cakes ^^ 

11. Bake for 50 minutes. Leave to cool before removing from mould. ^^

I really like how easy it is to make a zebra cake. And it turned out quite pretty too ~ though not as pretty as bakersroyale's.. but good enough for amateur me ^^! Bliss ^^ 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Creamy leek, bacon and avocado mini pie

I really did not mean to go AWOL for so long.. but the weather really sucked the life out of me ^^|| Save for a pineapple cobbler, I haven't baked nor cooked(!!) nor checked on my favorite blogs (sorry ^^||) since end May!

Today, I finally felt an urge to bake. ^^ And I wanted to make good on my promise to big pig ~ a leek pie.. with avocado, one of his favorite fruit/food. I reckon they could work well together :p!

Creamy leek, bacon and avocado mini pie (inspired by Dean Brettschneider's 5-star pie)
~ makes 6 mini pies
Best shortcrust pastry ever!!! 
280g all purpose flour
170g cold butter, diced
2-3 tbsp cold fresh milk

100g bacon, sliced thinly
1 tbsp butter
200g leek, sliced thin (use white parts only)
150-180ml low fat fresh milk (if you're not dieting, use cream ^^)
100g cooked chicken meat, diced
1 avocado, mashed
1 egg, beaten
125g cheddar cheese, grated (and some extra for topping)
salt and pepper or chili powder/paprika, to taste

Egg wash
1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp milk

1. Shortcrust pastry. Blitz or rub the flour with the cold butter till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk and mix till the pastry comes together. Press dough into a flat, round shape and chill for 1 hour.

2. Heat up some oil in a non-stick pan and saute bacon till browned and fragrant. Remove and set aside. Do not wash pan.

3. Using the same pan, heat up butter and cook leek for 25 minutes on low heat, stir fry often till softened. Add milk and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

4. In a bowl, mix creamy leek, bacon, chicken, mashed avocado, egg and grated cheddar cheese together. Season with salt, pepper or chili powder/paprika.

5. Roll out 2/3 dough to 3mm thick and cut out 6 big rounds to fit mini pie moulds. Fill up with filling. Roll the rest of the dough into 6 smaller rounds and place over filling. Pinch the edges together to seal. Make a few slits on the top pastry for steam to escape while baking. Brush pie generously with egg wash and top/sprinkle with grated cheddar.

6. Bake in a preheated oven of 220C for 30 minutes, or till golden. Leave to cool slightly before removing from moulds. Delicious served warm or cold.

Well, big pig loves it ~ no prizes for getting that right ^^! But I'm pleasantly surprised baby pig loves it too ~ leek and all! Guess the bacon did its job well ^^!

Me, I'm ecstatic the combination of leek, bacon and avocado worked! And of course, the perfectly buttery, flaky crust makes the perfect foil. ^^

Since I'm on a roll, I made vanilla chiffon cake too, which is baking in the oven right now.. smells real good from here ^^ I'm really looking forward to cake for breakfast tomorrow! ^^

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A crazy week.. but cakes must go on ^^

It has been a roller-coaster week.. with FIL landing in hospital (while fatty hubby's away!), playing "temp-mom" to chubby pig who's staying over and baking a gazillion chocolate chip cookies for a charity sale..

I'm glad to report things are finally back to normal today! Dad's surgery went well and was discharged yesterday, chubby's back with his parents and I'm so done with cookies!!! ^^

I finally have time for me. ^^ And I want cake.

Orange chocolate chip cake (recipe from kwanster)
~ makes one 7-inch square tin cake / 1 medium loaf cake and 4 mini cakes
1 medium thin-skinned orange
200g unsalted butter
160g sugar
3 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
200g chocolate chips

1. In a processor, blitz orange (skin and all) till fine. Remove finely processed orange from processor.

2. Place butter and sugar into the same processor and blitz till light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs bit by bit into butter mixture till combined.

3. Add flour and mix well. Mix in processed orange into the batter till well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Pour cake mixture into a greased/line cake tin/cupcake tins. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 50-55 minutes, or till skewer comes out clean (if using cupcake tin, bake for 25-30 minutes).

I've always wanted to make something with orange and chocolate after the omg-delicious jaffa fudge slice I had last year.. but never got round to ^^||. Well, after the successful spur-of-the-moment fantabulous super-loaded banana chocolate chip minicake I made for chubby pig last monday ^^, this was something I wanted to reward myself after a crazy week! And I like the idea of blitzing a whole orange!

I love how gorgeously bright the cake turned out! Love the aroma, taste and texture too! ^^

As I had no time to post earlier, here's two cakes I baked and enjoyed early last week ^^

Fantabulous super-loaded banana chocolate chip minicake
~ makes 8 small mini cakes
60g unsalted butter
40g muscovado or brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
60g self raising flour
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup mashed bananas
2 tbsp fresh milk
60g chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add beaten egg and mix till well combined.

2. Mix in flour and salt till combined. Add bananas and fresh milk into the batter. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Pour batter into lined cupcake tins and bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 25-30 minutes.

There's usually never enough bananas at home to make cake.. but last week was such a busy week that we barely had time to sit, much less eat bananas.. hence some over-ripe bananas brought about this spur of the moment banana chocolate chip minicake (partially inspired by the coffee and nuts cake ratios ^^) made just for chubby pig. Over-loaded and too delicious!!! ^^

Coffee and nuts cake (inspired by melspantrykitchen and poiresauchocolat)
~ makes 1 small loaf
60g unsalted butter
50g sugar
1 egg, beaten
60g self raising flour
a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp instant coffee + 1 tsp hot water (mix together)
2 tbsp fresh milk
15g toasted walnuts, chopped
15g hazelnut meal

1. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add beaten egg and mix till well combined.

2. Mix in flour and salt till combined. Add coffee and fresh milk into the batter. Fold in walnuts and hazelnut meal.

3. Pour batter into greased/lined cake tin and bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 40-50 minutes, or till skewer comes out clean.

I made this cake just before the madness started, and it is BEST on the day it is baked ^^. Most cakes almost always taste better after it's cooled or the next day, but the coffee and nuts cake is delish fresh from the oven. I can imagine it tasting luscious with lots of buttercream (I wish I dared, mel ^^), but it's best I eat it plain ^^!

It's crazy how sometimes things just happen all at once.. but there's always time for cake. ^^

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gâteau au yaourt ^^

Doesn't gâteau au yaourt sounds so much more exciting than plain ol' yogurt cake? ^^

Sudden cravings for yogurt-something, anything(!!!).. had me googling for "yogurt cake" on the mobile in the middle of the night! There's really no connection between yogurt and the scorching heat, is there??

Well, this recipe had my attention.. you'll see why ^^..

Gâteau au yaourt ~ Yogurt cake (recipe by chocolateandzucchini)
1 cup (250ml) yogurt, unsweetened (use your favorite ^^ i love farmers union)
2 eggs, beaten (beat till light and fluffy if you like a lighter, fluffier cake ^^)
1/3 cup neutral tasting oil (i like using grapeseed oil over corn/sunflower oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum (i love rum in cakes!)
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour, sifted (i cheated, used self-raising flour and omitted baking powder/soda)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
a pinch of salt

1. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together ~ sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt ~ till well combined.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add yogurt, beaten eggs, oil, vanilla extract and rum. Gently mix all the ingredients together till combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.

3. Pour into a greased or lined 10-inch (?) round baking tin. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 30-35 minutes, till the top is golden and the skewer comes out clean. I baked mine in 2 loaf tins at 170C for 45-50 minutes. Baking in loaf tins will usually result in domed, cracked tops.. less likely if using round/square tins.

That's it! This is one of those easy-peasy, dump everything together bake ^^. Just one reading of chocolateandzucchini's yogurt cake post, and you won't even need the recipe! That's what I thought.. and I made the mistake of using 2/3 cup of oil instead of 1/3 cup, because the mind couldn't reconcile with the use of so little oil, haha! No harm done, I think ^^.

Anyway, the ratios are easy to remember ~ 1 cup (250ml) yogurt : 1 cup sugar : 2 cups flour : 2 eggs ~ you can use the same cup (the one your yogurt came in) to measure the ingredients. Since mine came in a 200g tub, I adjusted my measurements accordingly ^^. They say this is the first cake that french kids learn to make. I believe it. ^^

You know I've always been hesitant of bakes that doesn't use butter ^^||.. and past results using vegetable oil like sunflower and corn oil have not exactly endeared me to such bakes. I always feel these supposedly light and neutral tasting oil are "heavy" and strong flavored somehow ^^|| Kitchen feels extra greasy too when I use them for cooking. Maybe it's just me?? But I'm loving the results with grapeseed oil, for baking as well as for cooking ^^.

The result ~ a light textured cake that's extremely soft, moist and fluffy with a slightly crusty top. Flavor and aroma wise ~ it's on the soft and delicate side (though I expect the flavors to develop a little more the next day ^^). As usual, I like my cakes plain. But this cake also pairs quite nicely with homemade fruit jam/sauce, or even whipped cream ^^. It'd make a very good basic cake for trifles, I think ^^. And you can tweak this easily to suit your own preference too, by adding orange or lemon zest or blueberries, almonds etc.

mulberries grown in the tropics are never sweet! organic or not!!!

For some weird reason, this cake makes me think of a doughnut I had in kuromon market, osaka.. crusty exterior, soft fluffy-airy texture inside ^^ The more I think of it, even the smell and taste are alike too! Yums! ^^

This is a seriously delicious cake that uses no butter (!) and stays beautifully soft and moist (even in the fridge). You can bet I'm making this again! ^^

Monday, May 13, 2013

Erratic weather.. and an even-more erratic wifi connection!

That's how life has been these past few weeks! Weird and erratic!

Since coming back from a short holiday in taiwan.. that's all we've been experiencing.. which is so not conducive for baking nor blogging! The aftermath of a certain event over here isn't exactly a mood-lifter either.. ^^|| And all the msg-laden foods that we stuffed ourselves during our holiday, took a toll on our bodies too..

But finally today, the wifi connection seems a little more stable.. and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll remain so till I finish this. ^^ Weather's still horridly hot and suffocating though!

Anyway, this is something I made more than a month back but never posted because I was hoping to perfect and compare it with the marinated pork belly in shrimp paste (still!!!) sitting in the freezer!

Since my first taste of moo tod kapi (crispy pork with shrimp paste) in a thai restaurant, I've always wanted to re-create this dish at home. I really dig the flavor of kaffir lime leaves in this dish!

Despite googling high and low for a recipe of moo tod kapi, I just couldn't find one ^^|| So I figured I'd just do my own interpretation of this dish.. without shrimp paste (since I didn't have any at home then!).. but with lots of kaffir lime leaves! ^^

Almost-crispy pork belly with kaffir lime leaves
500g pork belly, skin removed (I'm sure other parts could be used)
1 tsp sea salt (if using shrimp paste, omit salt)
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated (can omit if using shrimp paste)
a big handful of kaffir lime leaves
a handful of curry leaves
2-3 bird's eye chilles, seeds removed
2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
sea salt, to season if necessary

1. Marinade pork belly with salt (or shrimp paste) and grated garlic for at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Heat a bit of oil in a non-stick pan/wok. Place pork belly on the sides and sear till golden brown. Flip to the other side and do the same. Remove pork belly and cut into smaller slices. Looking back, I'm not sure why I did this (??!) and not cut it into smaller slices and just done step 3??? ^^||

3. Remove or wipe off remaining grease/oil from the pan/wok. Put pork belly slices, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, chilies and lightly smashed garlic pips in and saute till meat is golden and crispy. If necessary, season with a bit more salt. Do remove the fat/oil/grease when meat starts drowning in it ^^||. 

4. Serve immediately. Tastes even better when cooled or the day after ^^

It's amazing the amount of fat that oozed out from the pork belly! So be warned!

If you can deep fry, please do so to get a crispy texture (slice to smaller pieces after it's cooked).. since I can't, this is it.. an almost-crispy pork dish. ^^

Anyway, this is a wonderfully piquant dish with soft hints of kaffir lime leaves, garlic and curry leaves ^^. And if you can bring yourself to save some for the next day, the flavors get even better! ^^

Piggies were not exactly enthusiastic at first bite.. but by the 2nd/3rd piece, they were smitten!!  It's the kaffir lime leaves, I tell you! ^^

So, shrimp paste or not.. it's still exceptionally DELICIOUS ^^!

And here's a few pictures of the places and food I really liked in taiwan.. sans msg ^^

night harbour view of keelung ~ from our hotel window

picturesque jiufen

huge caramelized peanut slabs ~ turned into shaved peanut candy topped with 2 scoops of ice cream wrapped in popiah skin ~ deliciousssnesss!!! i love this and had two servings.. and i'm not even a fan of peanuts! ^^ i like jiufen ^^

Oops.. that's all the decent food pix I have, haha! Didn't take many food pictures because I just couldn't wait to eat.. and by which time I remembered to, I was already half way through and it looked like a hurricane had struck the dishes.. sorry ^^.

Taiwan's really nice.. cool weather, beautiful scenery, exciting, lots of food/snacks, safe ^^.. but the heavy handed use of msg is not. ^^||