Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cupcakes, cakes and Birthday cakes!

Yes, its been awhile since I shared my two cents with cyberspace and all those who love to bake/ eat. So much has happened, what with winding up things at work, trying to bake for money. I haven't been blogging because I actually have been baking for money. In the past two months, I have sold under my company serene bakes the following:

                     10x tripple chocolate cupcakes

                      7x nutella cupcakes

                     1x 9" tripple chocolate cake

                     1x 9"  Double chocolate whisky cake with bailey's fudge

                     1x 12" by 12" double chocolate whisky cake with bailey's fudge
                      1x 12" by 12" Gula melaka coffee cake with vanilla cream and sugar icing
1 7" by 9"  Double chocolate whisky cake with bailey's fudge

and soon, a 7" by 9" inch Orange sugee cake.

         Now that you know why I've been so busy, here is a pictorial guide of my baking efforts

              Nutella Cupcakes that spell : I love u (the seventh was for the guy to eat for himself)

Okay fine, so my lettering isn't perfect and probably Cake Wrecks worthy but who cares?
Here's how they look without the monstrous cookie topping and awful lettering:"

Quite yummy right?

Right, now on to the next cake which looked beautiful but was a near disaster:

Double chocolate whisky cake with bailey's fudge

As goegous as it looks, I made a big boo boo. I baked the cake using some dodgy sugar I bought from the supermarket. The guy who sold it was the only one open during that time and he claimed it was good as any other. WARNING: DO NOT BUY DODGY SUGAR.
The cake was alright but it just wasn't sweet enough? I didn't get to taste it but the person who bought it was mildly disappointed and I was too. Lesson learnt.
                        Next, a work of art that my department ordered from me:

                               Gula Melaka Coffee Cake with Vanilla cream and Sugar glaze

I was inspired by christmas. I mean, its the end of the year and I painstakingly spent a good half of the night trying to get the sugar glaze to look like icicles and making little snow flake patterns with the gold and silver dragees. YES. I had to ARRANGE EACH ONE to form the SNOWFLAKE. NO ITS NOT A STAR OR AN ASTRIX. THIS IS WHAT AN ASTRIX LOOKS LIKE.*. Fine. I guess it does look like an astrix/snowflake /what the ****. Point proven
Next up, experiments of the baking kind!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The cake that takes two days to make

         The cake that takes two days to make. The cake that takes two days to make. If you say it over and over again, it becomes a tongue twister.
         So what exactly is this cake that takes two bloody days to make, you might ask. You might even wonder if its really worth the trouble. The truth is, the cake that takes two days to make, or also known at Sugee Cake ( An almond semolina cake), is a pretty plain cake. Yet, everyone loves this cake and there is something deceptively delicious in its semi plainess. To be fair, its not really plain. Its hard to explain really. A german friend once called it my marzipan cake. I personally fell in love with it when I had it at a surprise party and my Eurasian friend's mother made it. It was divine.

       Imagine a cake that has a texture between a pound cake and a butter cake. Its moist, its crumbly yet sturdy and very aromatic. The smell is intoxicating. Its a heady mix of butter, semolina and almond all rolled into one. 

       Personally, I have tried making this many times and I think I finally have a winner. After much research, I combined two different recipes together. One is from Rose's Kitchen and the other is from a forum I found ages ago. If you happen to be the person who contriubted this recipe, I'm sorry I can't remember your name or where I got it from. If it looks familiar, I give you full credit! I modified both recipes quite a bit and created and ORANGE Almond Sugee cake. It has orange zest, peel and juice in the cake for an extra boost of flavour.

             Presenting to you my labour of love

Another view

             So what you are looking at is an Almond Orange Sugee Cake that is covered in homemade marzipan. Yes, I was insane enough to make my own marzipan. I coloured it orange, slapped it on the cake and made some red roses with the left over marzipan. My sister stepped in and made the vines and leaves and conceptualized the design. I thought it look rather pretty, if not slightly dated.

           Some process shots: Straight from the tin!

This is how it looks naked and undecorated. Still pretty damn tasty!

Then comes the glaze


All covered in Apricot Jam. I was too lazy to make the glaze or warm it or sieve it. Yes, yes, the elders frown upon me.

Now comes the money shot

And when you cut it open


Yes, its calorific. You will shudder if I told you how many eggs and how much butter and sugar went into the whole thing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The great bake sale and children's day!

       I received an email from good old fellow baker Anna at the center where I teach, telling me that the company was holding a bake sale for the flood victims in the Phillippines so I said why not. I was given a day's notice and like a good samaritan, I produced the following:
                                     36 Tripple Chocolate Cupcakes                                

                                Yes, its a delectable and moist chocolate cupcake filled with large dark chocolate buttons and topped with a dark chocolate frosting. Piped to look like a rose because, lets face it, nothing screams seduction like a rose.

                                                     36  Strawberrylicious Cupcakes

                   These were made with real strawberries. Like a good peranakan, I pounded the strawberries by hand for both the cupcake and the frosting. Frosting was tricky to work with as it melted really fast. I had to add a lot more icing powder and then a little squeeze of lemon to counter the excessive sweetness. Topped with littlle heart sprinkles!
                    Then I remembered Anna asked me to make my Creamy Mushroom pie. So I produced

                             4 double crusts Creamy Mushroom pies. Pastry and Bechamel sauce both made from

                                 Sorry about the blurry shot. I was too so tired. And I overbaked the pies a little. The crusts were a little dry. Okay, too dry for my liking. Plus I used shortening instead of butter this time as I wanted a flakier crust. It definitely was flakier but not as yummy. But the filling was good. Brown and white button mushrooms sauteed with caramelized onions, slow roasted garlic smothered with a thick creamy bechamel sauce.

                       I was quite adventurous and made a 3.5kg Chocolate Whisky cake topped with a Bailey's Ganache, 54 mini cupcakes for the children that I teach at a chapel, another 80 double chocolate cupcakes and 42 strawberry cupcakes for the children in the center in a space of two nights.

                       Verdict: I am a good 1.5kg heavier due to constant taste testing and completely BAKED OUT. I don't want to see another cupcake or bowl of frosting in a long time.

                          In other news, PLEASE CHECK OUT MY NEW LOGO!

Yup, I finally had the cahonas to start my own bake site. IF you like the logo, its designed by good friend and colleague Carrie. She's amazing, with a degree in advertising design and like me, abandoned our fancy degrees to teach speech and drama! My site is still under construction so I won't shamelessly advertise just yet.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Berry berry quite contrary

             Children's day is upon us and what better way to show my appreciation for these little ones by baking. After being told by my 6 year olds that the best part of my butter cupcakes was the frosting when I last baked for them, I decided to teach them about the wonderful flavours that a cake can have. After taking a massive poll, the top flavours that emerged were strawberry and chocolate.

           Which brings me to today's post. I have never made anything strawberry before and this posed as  somewhat of a challenge. I'm a chocoholic and alcoholic. I've probably run the gamut of chocolate during my experiments, white, dark, milk, 60% coco to 90% coco, ganaches, chocolate frosting, fudge, covurture, confectionary.
          In fact, I own three cookbooks dedicated to chocolate. You name it, I've probably done it or have the recipe. Strawberries on the other hand, are rather intriguing. The closest I've come to working with berries( other than jams) were raspberries, which were epically difficult to work with seeing how I pureed them and was left with delicious raspberry snowskin mooncakes and a broken blender.

      Broken kitchen equipment is probably the biggest turn off I reckon. Nonetheless, I love these children enough to want to perfect this.
          I decided I wanted a light, fluffy cake filled with strawberry jam that creamed    screamed lightness yet at the same time create a sensation equivilant of a strawberry field.
         I modified my favourite butter cake( one with a nice sugar crust, good crumb and melt in your mouth texture) to create what I call strawberry cupcake BETA. Beta because I have yet to reach perfection. I was relatively pleased with the results, since it was moist, dense and had an explosion of flavour, plus pretty to boot. Downside was that the parts without the jam were rather lackluster.
           I shared them with my colleagues and they all loved it. My closer friends gave honest ratings and I one said, I quote, " Its fantastic until you get to the bottom. It tastes like flour when you get there" Hahahah. But you live and learn, and I intend to chart my culinary journey via this blog, both triumphs and failures.
          The wonderful thing about jam filled cupcakes is that the longer they sit in jam, the more moist and flavourful they get. I just had a bite and after 24 hours, they were reallly delicious. But I still think it needs a tad more sugar.

           Are you ready for the shape of my heart?

After they cooled, I dusted the cupcakes down with icing sugar and then used a cookie cutter to hollow out the center and piped jam into them. WARNING: The icing sugar melts so I suggest dusting the sugar on the day or just before serving and piping the jam.

This time, I actually bothered to take some process shots so lets take a look

                      Battered and ready for the great bake. After 35minutes...

The spirit of randomness overcame me and I just had to make one that looked like this:


Its a duck in case you's all wondering.

Here's the recipe, suggested improvements in red:

Strawberry Jam filled cupcakes, adapted from
Makes 8 large cupcakes
110g (175g) of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
125g  of butter
200g (225) of white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
(1 teaspoon of strawberry emulsion?)
3/4 cup of milk flavoured with 1/4(1 tsp) teaspn of strawberry emulsion (or strawberry milk)
250g strawberries(diced)
250g of strawberry jam
Icing sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 175 degrees C( 145 for fanforced).

Sift together flour and baking powder

Cream the butter and blend in the white sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Stir until just blended. Fold in strawberries. Fill cupcake liners until 3/4 full.

Bake at 175 degrees C (145 for fanforced) for 35mins or until skewer comes out clean. Cake should spring back when lightly touched.

Once cooled to room temperature, dust cupcakes with icing sugar and hollow out centers with cookie cutters of your choice. Using a small sharp knife, gently dig out the cake that's within the cookie cutter.

FIll piping bag with jam and pipe into hollowed center.

I love culinary experiments. They thrill me to no end.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Roast lunch

    Roast lunches are such a typical english thing that it came as no surprise when the gorilla got well excited when I suggested we do one on the afternoon he was leaving.

     I haven't properly cooked in a long time and I don't count all those weird food experiments that I did in the name of diet as proper cooking. It was somewhat daunting to be honest, to whip up a three course lunch when all I've really been obsessed about was baking. Yet the lunch must be done.

        After dancing naked under the street lamps and sacrificing of some virgins, the powers of a sous chef was bestowed upon me.

       I'm kidding. I'm not pagan. Just a little bit nuts.

   After much recipe hunting and feeling somewhat unsatisfied, I sought the help of my father. After all, family recipes are there for a reason and the best way to get your hands on them is to weasel them out is from the source itself. My family is a little odd. My dad cooks, my mom bakes.

    My father is an amazing cook. His turkey is always  tender and succulent, his flash fried frozen chicken nuggets taste like heaven somehow and a plain fried egg becomes a delicacy in his wok. I"m serious. This man is talented. And very saddistic.

       I remember getting yelled at for not slicing the Bang Kwang or Jicama "fine" enough for his peranakan tastes. We were making Kueh Pie Tie and I offered to help with a hidden motive. After four hours of slicing, grating, cutting, more cutting, more slicing, more grating, more..( you get the picture), I was giddy and about to faint. After that ordeal, I decided to try my luck and ask for the recipe.

       Surprisingly, I did not have to sell my soul to the devil nor offer anything. I simply asked and I received. The recipe reads as follows:

POUND 4 cloves of garlic, 3 slices of ginger and a red onion until it turned into mush.

Next, add salt, pepper, chinese wine, msg, light soy sauce and a little sugar to the mush.

Then rub it all over the chicken, under the skin, in the cavity and on the skin.
Let it sit overnight in, get this, A PLASTIC BAG( I kid you not), in the fridge.

Before roasting, rub white pepper with Ajio salt( I'm guessing more MSG)  all over the chicken.  Roast for slightly over an hour and this is what you get:

           Yes, its not perfectly browned I know. Yes, I did roast it for an awful lonng time. So why did it not only not  brown but even had pink bits near the bone of the leg? Why? WHY?

        Because the smart ass in me wanted to roast paper parcel potatoes over the bird, hoping the butter will baste the chicken.

         But no, the parchement was leak proof so it just prevented skin cancer, I mean, the browning of the chicken. I basted the chicken every ten-fifteen minutes or so with margarine( keeps the meat tender according to my dad)  and the meat was really succulent. I was pleasantly surprised and quietly congratulatting myself on the taste and tenderness.

         However the gorilla didn't fancy the taste but was impressed at how succulent the meat was and not so impressed that I nearly gave him semonella.

        As a side dish, I decided to make my favourite Paper Parcel Roast potatoes. These are so easy yet oh so delicious and gratifying. Seriously. Obama ought to feed this to his detractors.

                                     That liquid gold you see is none other than melted butter.

How do you make this? I can't give you exact proportions because I never remember them anyway. I simply add everything till it looks enough?

I'm guessing: 4 cloves garlic sliced, 4 spring onions, chopped butter( 50g?) and salt and black pepper to taste. Place it all on a baking paper and then seal the ends by brushing lightly beaten egg white. Bake for 30mins at 180 degrees celcius.

In lieu of dessert, the gorilla requested another savoury. So side kick number 2 was cheese straws!

That turned into cheese puffs.

My cheese straws had cheese exploding out of them because a) I did not twist the pastry tightly enough b) greed over took my better judgement and I cut 10 strips instead of 24 and c) the cheese fiend in me added more cheese than required.

            Nonetheless, they were comforting and delicious. Who can resist hot puffy pastry filled with gooey mozzerella and sharp parmesan? I even cheated on this one. I used ready rolled puff pastry because I got inspired only that very morning.

Here's what you need:

2 sheets of ready rolled Puff Pastry

1 cup of mozzerella cheese/pizza cheese

1/2 cup of parmasan cheese

1 egg yolk

salt to taste

Brush egg yolk on one sheet of pastry. Sprinkle with mozzerella. Place the second sheet of pastry over the mozzerlla.

With the remaining egg yolk, brush it evenly over the pastry and sprinkle parmasan cheese. Lightly sprinkle some salt.

Cut the pastry in half and stack one half on top of the other, pressing down firmly.

Cut the stack, widthwise into 24 strips. you may want to cut them thinner than you like them because they tend to puff out.

Picking up each strip, gently twist and pull as you do so, pinching the ends to seal them in. Place them on a parchment lined sheet and  bake at 220 degrees celcius for 10 mins.

      It made a rather satisfying lunch which was finished off with some beer and quiet moments. Goodbyes are never easy.
        Often made easier when you know you have a leftover roast lunch waiting for you in the freezer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cupcake Madness

Cupcakes. It seems the whole world has become completely enraptured with them and everywhere you go, everyone is offering these little single serves like the latest must have.

Initially, I could never get my head around them. You see, I've always been a giant slice of cake person, always the first to say, "Forget the plate, just pass the tin around and let's spoon the bloody thing already." Spoon to cake, cake to mouth and mouth to pleasure center.

Besides, cupcakes have always been deceptive. Yes, under that plethora of icing, frosting, glaze, cream and rainbow sprinkles lies a very dry and boring cake. The seduction often ends in an anti-climax, leaving one want for more. Often times, I find myself feeling cheated, like the morning after an impulsive night time tryst with a stranger. But I digress.

This cupcake sojourn of mine all started when a male colleague decided to upstage the bakers and cooks of the fairer sex in the department by turning up with beautiful cupcakes for a company get together. Cupcakes so beautiful that I ignored the little voice in my head and allowed myself to be seduced. Picking it up, I peeled the parched white wrapper off, took my first bite and waited. My body tingled. I was hooked. It was lust, love and obsession at first bite. This single serve of butter cake covered in chocolate ganache was not only delicious but stunning to behold. Yes, one night stands, I mean, cupcakes can be good.

Fired by this revelation, the mad artist in me took over. For days and nights I researched on how to decorate a cake. You see, despite being an avid baker and cook, my food constantly bore this mutant gene I like to call "The Ugly Chromosome or T.U.C". Compelled by the urge to purge this genetic defect, I launched myself into the daunting task of cake decorating. The perfect opportunity came when my favourite aunt's birthday came about and I embarked on a cupcake adventure. I made four different types of cupcakes and then launched on creating four different ways of decorating. Okay, maybe five.

Warning: The following scenes might containt explicit material.

Butter Cupcakes with Marshmellow Flowers

Yup, you read right. I used marshmellows cut up and dipped in coloured sugar for the flower petals. I cut little stems from the remaining marshmellows and arranged the petals to resemble flowers on a bed of piped whipped cream. I personally am not a fan of buttercream. Whipped cream gives an ice cream like consistency when chilled and is light and just delectable. Underneath that whipped lightness is a rich buttery cake that contains more eggs than your daily required amount. Cardiac arrest might ensue.

Gula Melaka( Palm Sugar) Coffee Cupcakes

A heady aromatic cupcake that combines that delectable sweetness of palm sugar and coffee. To me, gula melaka is probably the molasses of the east. Topped with a classic sugar frosting and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. Looking deceptively playful and sweet, it'll shock with its depth of flavour.

Gula Melaka Coffee Cupcakes 2: Swirled and dangerous

Same cupcake swirled with dark chocolate ganache. Might as well play with my left over chocolate ganache and dirty up these pristine looking cupcakes. They look like inkblot cupcakes to me. Quite a cool way to carry out the ink blot test I reckon.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Seriously, if you're going to sin, do it in style.
Imagine a dense moist chocolate cake made with coco then studded with dark chocolate chips and finally doused with a dark chocolate ganache( topping made with chocolate and cream). Then topped with a red rose because nothing screams seduction like a deep red rose.Very Freudian I know. I could go on but nobody needs to read my stream of consciousness.
I used those gum paste ones from a baking shop. Next time, I'll make my own with fondant.

Pretty In Pink aka Bandung Cupcakes

Pretty in Pink aka Bandung Cupcakes:
For those who don't know, Bandung is a popular milky drink made with rose syrup and evaporated or full cream milk, mostly found in South East Asia. Its sweet and rosy and to some, an acquired taste. To me, this is heavenly. This baby is a product of many experiments. Introducing a Bandung Butter cupcake frosted with a lightly Bandung flavoured whipped cream frosting and decorated with silver sugar dragees.

And finally, an overview :


Yes, I had to. Without the money to buy a fancy cupcake tower, I had to create an alternative. Since I've laboured over the art work, I might as well have a display that screams the same. This was made by my equally creative pet gorilla who used a kitchen towel roll, toilet roll and various sized cake boards. He picked a pretty wrapper from Borders and got to work. Nifty eh?

I apologise for the blurry shots because after frosting the last cupcake, it was pretty much pack and go to my aunt's house. After displaying the cupcakes, there was this urgency to eat them and nobody wanted to wait for me to be done trying to get the perfect Food-nographic shot. Ah well.

So who would have thought that something so small and simple could capture one's imagination so vividly? I take it all back. Cupcakes can be good. I'm not cheating on the good ole slice of cake, I'm merely exploring my options.