Sunday, 9 March 2014

Japanese Cheesecake

Lately, I have fallen in love with reading interior design and DIY blogs. Somehow the idea of being able to create something appeals to me. Perhaps that's why I love to bake!

I have been spending the last two weekends re-arranging my house, and taken on mini projects to inspire and rejuvenate self. Seeing the pieces come together is fun!

Feeling a bit guilty I keep procrastinating, I finally baked this - a Japanese Cheesecake.

Compared to previous recipes I had tried, this used whipping cream and a lot more cream cheese. Looking at the ingredient list, I thought how decadent it is! It proved to be true. My hubby even asked for a second helping.

Texture wise, it tastes rich, yet fluffy, and melts in your mouth. However, it is important to ensure that the baking tin is lined with sufficient aluminium foil to prevent water from seeping into the tine during baking.

On another note, I had some frozen egg whites in my fridge. Sometimes there are left-overs, as certain recipes might only require egg yolks. As I did not want to waste the egg whites, I would pour them into ice cube boxes. Just nice, one square for one egg white. The other way could be done for egg yolks too. So when I need my eggs, I just let it de-frost and come to room temperature. The results are good! My de-frosted egg whites could still be beaten up to stiff peaks.

Recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook

400g cream cheese
60g sugar
60g unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
200ml whipping cream0
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1 tbsp rum (optional)
80g plain flour

For the meringue
6 egg whites
100g sugar

Preparation note - The cream cheese, unsalted butter, eggs and whipping cream should be brought to room temperature before use.

1. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring-form plan and line with parchment paper. Wrap the base of the pan with aluminium foil to prevent seepage.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C. Start boiling a kettle of hot water (for the water bath later).

3. In bowl of the electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium high speed until smooth. Add the butter and mix until incorporated.

4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time. Mix well. Add in the whipping cream and mix well.

5. Add in the lemon juice / rum and mix until the batter is smooth. At this time, the batter would appear runny.

6. Shift the plain flour and add to the batter. The batter would start to thicken up.

7. To prepare the meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using the bowl of the electric mixer, begin by whipping the egg whites on medium speed (speed 4 for KA) until foamy. Gradually add in the sugar as the mixer runs. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to let the mixer whip the meringue until it is glossy, and the volume has doubled in size.

8. Add 1/3 of the meringue to the cream cheese batter. Mix well to loosen up the batter. Then add the remaining meringue to the batter. Fold it in until incoporated.

9. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and drop the pan slightly onto the table to remove any air bubbles.

10. Place the cake pan into a tray / roasting pan filled with hot water. This creates a water bath. Place the pan in the middle middle rack of the oven.

11. Bake at 160C for 60 mins until light golden brown. Then reduce the temperature to 150C and bake for another 30 mins. It is ready when a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

12. Let it cool in the oven, with the door slightly ajar before removing it from the roasting pan.

* Just a note for self: To bake the cake longer (for about 30 mins) and to tent the cake, if the skewer comes out with moist crumb after 1.5 hours. I suspect my cake is a little under-baked this time.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

My First Attempt at Pineapple Tarts

This year, I decided to be adventurous, and to try making my own pineapple tarts. There were many steps involved, and I was already tired at the first task, which was to finish rolling all the pineapple jam. It took me about an hour or so. But with a rest in-between the rolling, and a determined spirit, I pressed on! Fortunately, my sister also came over to help me.

I think we were proud of ourselves when we finished baking the pineapple tarts. Look at them - pretty and round. At one bite, you can taste that it's home-made. The taste was unlike those in the stores, but equally nice!

There was one obstacle though. We had baked the pineapple jam with the tart shell, and it was too dry by the time we took them out of the oven. In the end, we baked the tart shell first and added the jam halfway through the baking time.

I chose the following recipe as I wanted a buttery and melt-in-the-mouth kind! It's good, and reminded me of shortbread.

From The Little Teochew

For the Pineapple Jam
The jam was bought from Poon Huat, and I rolled it into balls weighing 8g. Recommended to roll it the day before. The jam was the drier kind, and I found that wetting your palm with water helped to smooth out the edges.

For the Pastry

- 50g corn flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp icing sugar
- 280g cold, unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 3 tbsp cold water (or iced water)
- 1/2 tsp cognac or pure vanilla extract
- For glaze, mix 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water

1. Sift the plain flour, corn flour, icing sugar and salt together. Mix well to combine.

2. Place the cold butter into the flour. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour till it resembles coarse bread crumb. 

3. Beat together egg yolks, cold water and cognac (or vanilla extract). Add it into the butter-flour mixture. Using your finger tips, gently coax all the crumbs into one large dough ball. Do not knead. As long as all the crumbs come together, stop. Chill in the fridge for about 10mins, covered.

4. Roll out to desired thickness. Cut out dough using cutter. Arrange neatly onto baking tray, with at least 1.5cm apart.  *I found this video from Youtube helpful, as it showed me how to use the cutter to achieve the classic spiral shape we always see on the cookie.

5. Once you have arranged the tart shell on your tray, glaze them (the entire surface, not just the rims).

6. Place the pre-rolled pineapple jam balls onto the centre of each tart shell.  *As I used a drier jam, I baked the tart shell first for 10 mins, added the pineapple jam, and placed back into the oven to bake for another 10 mins.

7. Bake at 160°C for 20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

Salmon Potatoes Patty

I was reading through some blogs, and a statement connected well with me - With time as an important commodity, we should post awesome recipes we wanted to keep, and memories we wanted to look back at.

This is one such recipe!

Perhaps in part, this recipe was mofidied from Jamie Oliver. He's one of my favourite celebrity chesf, and I totally enjoyed watching his Food Revolution. In the show, he was trying to encourage people to stop feeding ourselves with processed food, and to start cooking healthier meals.

I still remembered a particular episode where fried potatoes (aka french fries) are considered a vegetable in the school canteen. Shouldn't our vegetables be green in colour? I was shocked! While Jamie had also cooked up a main dish and vegetables to offer students another lunch option, many still opted for the western food with french fries.

Where possible, I try to avoid processed food now. Thus I decided to make this salmon potatoes patty, which is refered as fish cakes in the western context. I know what you are thinking... fish cakes? Those that we eat in the morning as breakfast with fried bee hoon? Haha... No!

Mashing everything up

Shaped into circles with the help of my cutter

Pan-fried and tasting good

Modified from here

600g potatoes
300g salmon
1 egg 
fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp of plain flour, for dusting

Rub salmon with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven at 180C for 15-20 mins till fully cooked.

On the other hand, peel the potatoes, and boil them in a large pot of salted water. When cooked, drain the water and let steam dry for a minute before mashing them up.

When the potatoes are cooled, put it into a bowl and flake the salmon (skin removed) into it with 1 tbsp of flour. Add the egg, chopped parsley, pinch of salt and pepper. Mix everything well.

Dust a plate with flour. Shape the fish cake using a round cutter or by hand. Pop into the fridge for an hour before cooking - this would help the patty to firm up. Pan fry on medium heat till each side is brown.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Savoury Muffins - Parmesan Cheese and Bacon

While I love sweet food, my husband loves savoury stuff. I remembered we used to go for movie dates and he would ask if I want to share some savoury popcorns with him. I would look at him sweetly and ask "Please dear, can we have sweet popcorns?" And he would willingly go and get the sweet ones! Haha.. That's how sweet my husband can be.

Once in a while, I would cook up something savoury for him. Thus today's parmesan cheese and bacon muffins.

Fresh from the oven!

You would need to cook the bacon and onions first. A tad bit troublesome, but worth the effort as the whole kitchen was filled with a lovely smell when the muffins were cooking.

I recently acquired a kitty cloth, and couldn't resist putting it into the photos for they are simply kawaii!

Serving my muffins with a cute table cloth

While I associate sweet muffins with dessert and teabreaks, the savoury ones can be substitued for a light lunch or brought along for picnics. This is definitely a great base for savoury muffins, and I can imagine myself making different variations by adding mushrooms, or canned corns etc.

Recipe (serves 12 to 15 muffins)
Adapted from Bestrecipes

350g self-raising flour
salt and pepper
125g melted butter, cooled
250ml milk (1 cup)
2 eggs
2 tsp chopped chives
100g parmesan cheese
100g diced bacon
1 small diced onion
1/2 small red capscium, diced

  • Preheat oven to 200C.
  • Fry onion, bacon and capscium till soft.
  • Sift flour into a bowl. Add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. *I only added a pinch of salt as both the bacon and parmesan is salty. But if you are a savoury person, you could increase the salt to 1/4 tsp.
  • Whisk eggs, milk and chives together. 
  • Make a well in the flour. Pour in the milk, and melted butter, and fold till well combined.
  • Fold in the bacon and onion mixture.
  • Spoon into a muffin tray. Top with extra parmesan and bake for 20-25 mins till the top turns golden in colour.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Strawberry Pancakes

Continuing with the love for pink and dreamy stuffs (actually I was more of wanting to use up my strawberry puree), I was excited to find this recipe from Little Accidents in the Kitchen. And I thought, a little tinge of pink in the pancake would be so cute! Do check out her website to see how pretty the colour looked.

As for the one I cooked, I used too little puree during the first time. Thus, I doubled the strawberry puree on the second attempt.

Hmm.. Much better looking now.

This is a simple batter to put together, and the texture is pretty fluffy. But I do have to take note not to overcook the sides. What I did was to look out for the bubbles (which tells me it's nicely brown on the other side).

Flip it over and cook for about another minute of so (depending on the size of your pancake and the stove temperature). The first pancake I cooked would usually be "chao da" - burnt, but after the sacrifice of the first pancake, it helps me to gauge the cooking time better =)

Recipe (source: Little Accidents in the Kitchen)
Makes 9 pancakes

4 tbsp of strawberry puree
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
228g plain flour

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients and stir till everything is well combined.

2. Grease a skillet with oil, and heat on medium high.

3. Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto the skillet and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the bubbles that appear on the surface pop.

4. Flip and cook for another 1 minutes till golden brown on both sides.

5. Serve hot with honey.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Cake

As I grew old each year, I started looking back at what I've missed out as a kid, and wanted to fulfill these dreams.

Therefore for my birthday in Sep this year, I decided to organize a party with a retro theme.

Brought out all my vintage toys to display

Luckily my friends were sporting enough, and came dressed in polka dots. As for my husband, he tried to look like a nerd with a pair of black rimmed glasses, and short pants he purposedly pulled up very high. He looked hilariously cute!

I had to admit a lot of inspirations came from the food I ate.. and having tasted a very nice buttercream cake from a local cafe, I decided on making a strawberry swiss meringue buttercream cake.

I loved the texture of meringue.. creamy, buttery, and not overly sweet. The best part was that, unlike whipped cream, the meringue held its shape well, and did not melt easily. But making the meringue was tricky. There's one point where it looked like scrambled egg. I would have panicked if I had not read these helpful steps on making swiss meringue from Sweetapolita.  My take-away: in the event the meringue did not reach the desired consistency, one had to continue whipping it to get the smooth satiny texture. Oh yes, and cutting the butter into smaller pieces would help.

To pair the sweet pink color of the meringue, it had to be a dark chocolate cake. Visually pleasing to the eyes, and a match made in heaven.

Recipe (from Sweetapolita)
Yields a three layer 7 inch cake

For the cake:
180g plain flour
275g sugar
60g cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp (6g) baking soda
1 1/4 tsp (6g) baking powder
1 tsp (5g) salt
140ml buttermilk
130ml hot brewed coffee
75ml vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the strawberry swiss meringue buttercream:
5 egg whites
250g sugar
340g butter, cut into small cubes, and cooled (not cold)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup (59ml) strawberry puree
pinch of salt
few drops of pink food coloring

  • For the cake:
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare three 7-inch round cake pans (with parchment papers/ floured)
  • Sift all dry ingredients into the mixer bowl.  Add the remanining ingredients, and mix for 2 mins on medium speed, using the paddle attachment on mixer. 
  • Pour into prepared pans. Remember to weigh batter and divide equally into 3 for even layers. Batter will be liquidy.
  • Bake for 20 mins and rotate pans in oven.Bake for another 10 mins, and it's done when skewer comes out clean. Try not to overbake.
  • Cool on wire racks for 20 mins.

For the strawberry swiss meringue buttercream:
  • Add egg whites and sugar into the mixer bowl, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until the sugar had completely dissolved and the egg whites are warm. If you have a thermometer, to reach 160F. If not, use your fingers to feel that the sugar had completely dissolved, and there's no grainy feeling in the mixture.
  • With whisk attached to the mixer, whisk the mixture till it's thick and glossy.
  • Switch over to paddle attachment, and with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time until incorporated. *If mixture cuddles, to keep mixing and it would come back to smooth. Don't increase the speed. *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for 15 mins, and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together.
  • Add vanilla and salt and continue to beat at low speed till well combined.
  • Add strawberry puree to taste and pink coloring. *I used Wilton gel color.

Assembling the cake:
  • Spread buttercream on each layer of the cake, and stack the layers up. Spread a thin layer of buttercream to the sides to crumbcoat the cake. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 mins (or more).
  • Place the cake on a turntable, and add more buttercream to the sides. For best results, use a bench scrapper held at 90 degree at side of the cake, slowly turning the turntable and keeping a steady hand. *I watched a video from youtube on icing a cake which really helped.

My friends love the cake, and I had to say the chocolate sponge was very delicious and the flavor intense.

I'm looking forward to my next party!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Chocolate Souffle (Curtis Stone)

I had wanted to write this post earlier for Cook Like a Star - Curtis Stone organized by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids. But the desire to rest was more appealing than writing. Nonetheless, as the saying goes "It's better late than never!", so here's my experience making souffle.

See how it puffed up when cooking. I just love that smile' on my souffle. Like all things made with a high percentage of egg whites, it tended to sink after coming out of the oven.

It was also my first time trying out a good quality chocolate. I used Callebaut 70%, and it was so good that I kept popping the chocolate bits into my mouth. The only thing I would modify for the recipe is to increase the quantity of sugar used.

(Modified for 2 person)
To check out the video, click here

15ml unsalted butter, melted, cooled
25g sugar, plus more for coating the dishes (would increase to 40g next time)
2 egg whites
35g high-quality chocolates (62 to 70% cocoa)
40ml cold water
25g cocoa powder

Coat the inside of the souffle dish with melted butter. To use upward strokes when brushing as this would help the egg white to rise.

Refrigerate the souffle dish for a few minutes and coat on another layer of melted butter. Immediately, pour some sugar into the dish and shake around to coat the interiors evenly. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in water bath. Remove from heat, and add in the water and cocoa powder.

Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites till frothy. Add in the sugar and beat till stiff peaks are formed. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter, and mix till even. Pour into the souffle dish.

Using a large knife/spatula, push the filling to the side of the dish and level off the filling. Wipe off the excess batter that fell onto the side of the dish. Bake for about 12 minutes.