October 3, 2008

1 Year of blogging & my Macaron Challenge!

How time flies...I couldn't believe that I've blogged for 1 year, which means it's already 12 months; or 48 weeks!

This 1 year happens in such a swift, that I actually find it rather short for me. I feel that I've not baked enough, or have accomplished much in baking or cooking. There are still many recipes which I have yet to try (though it's never-ending and the list just keeps piling up) and for certain baked items such as chiffon cakes or a properly frosted celebration cake, I've still yet to 'conquer' and baked to perfection.

I wished I had more time and energy to practise on my skills to bake beautiful and yummy goods, But, there are limitations since I only do baking as a hobby. There are many committments and activities that I also wish to enjoy, blogging being one of them, though it's rather time-consuming thus I'm not able to blog about my kitchen happenings that often. Nevertheless I'm glad that I've started this blog although I was rather uncertain one year ago.

This blog has affirmed my love for baking. Now I know I'd never get tired of baking or feel like stopping anytime. In fact I enjoy more than before. I've also taken much interest in cooking, to know more about the types of ingredients, condiments, herbs and methods of cooking, and to enjoy the whole process of cooking my own healthy meals. I'm now able to work more efficiently in the kitchen, as compared to many years back when I need to prepare meals for my mum after she was out from hospital.

This blog has allowed me to meet many wonderful people out there who shared the same interest as me, and whom I've learnt and draw inspiration from. Thanks to all out there who have helped me in one way or another. :) I'd continue to keep this blog going and learn as I go along. I aspire to be able to bake and cook yummy, healthy or sinful dishes for my love ones!

To give myself a little pamper, I'd actually wanted to bake a cake for my blog's one year birthday in Sep. hehe. But somehow for the past few weeks, I just don't feel like having a cake. I'm not a cake-lover anyway. I love baking before I actually love cakes :P. So I decided to bake something challenging - something I love to eat, had always wanted to try but kept putting it off. Yeah, that's macarons!

I fell in love with it after I first tried it at Bakerzin. Thereafter, I had tried it at different outlets. I told my dd that I wanted to try ALL the flavours that is available. Hehe...greedy right.. :P Though many had done it with success, the thought of having to deal with egg whites just scares me off. But this time round, I decided that I shall try making it for myself. :)

Here comes my challenge!

This was my very first attempt. I admitted that I did not do much research prior to making it. As it was my first try, I did not want to make any changes to the recipe. Thus I followed the full recipe using 100g of egg whites. It's a huge recipe, thus I really had difficulty getting the ground almond-icing sugar mixture through the sieve (mine has rather small holes). In the end, I gave up and went ahead with some sugar crumbs. But I guess that's not the real reason. The batter was thin and it spread a lot. The macarons cracked badly and no feet was developed. :( But as a chocolate lover, I did not discard it. They were still good cookies, but too sweet for me.

For my second attempt, I tried another recipe using only 1 egg white. Everything went smoothly, until I realised that the caster sugar required in the recipe was to be added during the beating of the meringue and not to be added together with the almond-sugar mixture! What a muddle-head I am! I did feel puzzled when I saw castor sugar being included in the recipe (for macaron, almond is always mixed with ICING sugar), and I should have been more alert to read the recipe once more. Result? Haha as you can see, big holes throughout the cookie, not even to mention whether there's 'feet' or not cos you can't tell. LOL. It actually resembles the almond crisp I've made previously.


After two times of failure, I gone into more research, and try to analyse what probably might work for my oven. For this final trial, I used the recipe from here. Duncan Markham provided a very detailed write-up on macaron making, with pictures to show how would the correct batter (before piping) and a successful macaron would look like. He also mentioned the few methods which you could try. Do read his write-up for clearer explanation.

When I saw the piped macarons, my confidence was boosted a little as it was similar to what Duncan Markham showed in his write-up. The batter should be thick (but of piping consistency) with an ivory colour (if you are making plain ones).

It was really amazing that the 'feet' started to appear at around the 3rd minute. I followed his advice of opening door after 5 minutes as my oven tends to be too hot. The temperature of my oven actually fluctuated a lot but I try not to get distracted by that as I could only continue with the baking. I realised for those that were further away from the oven door, the macarons actually swayed sideways, i.e. only one side of the macaron developed feet while the other didn't. This was one of the problems that Duncan troubleshooted and what he could only advised was to let the piped batter rest a while before baking (which I did).

Still, I'm a happy girl cos' I finally get to make my own macarons, and more so happy when others tried and said it's nice (but too sweet which I found so too). I won't consider it a success for now since I have not had repeated success. But I would want to try out other flavours again. :)

Some useful info on how others had attempted this, you could see also here, here and here.


Anonymous said...

happy 1st birthday to baking cottage!

your macaroons are perfect, by my standards. i like the look of a macaroon, but have not acquire its taste, too sweet for me...

Small Small Baker said...

Hihi, congrats on your 1st year anniversary. It's really a joy reading your blog. Keep more posts coming and perfect macarons next time ok. :)

Ellena said...

Wow.. Happy 1st Anniversary... and this is my 1st time reading your blog... you had a wide collection :p.... And nice try on your macaron..... :)

daphne said...

THat's wonderful! I failed twice and haven't quite sat down to have a think or to attempt another time! Yours look really pretty too!

Happy Homebaker said...

Happy 1st Anniversary!!
Do teach me how to bake macarons, I have not even tasted it before, I'm so sua-ku ;p

Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Those look really good! From your pics, I'd say the only thing left might be to tap the tray a bit more (to get rid of the occasional peaks on the shells) and perhaps to rest the piped shells for about half an hour before baking. But, as we know, different ovens have different effects...

With the problem of rising on one side only, I've now seen this happen if the baking tray isn't kept on a flat surface (eg, during resting) or is on an angle in the oven.

Can I ask whether your oven is electric or gas? Those are some of the best first-attempt macarons I've seen using the French meringue method.

Aimei said...

Thanks Skinnymum!

Thanks SSB. I enjoyed reading your blog too. :) Yea I will continue with more yummy treats. :D

Thansk Ellena. I've long been reading your blog and your wonderful collection of recipes so well organised.

Thanks Daphne!

Thanks HHB! Ha I'm still not good enough to teach. But you can refer to some of the resources I've linked to. There are much more! Macarons seems to be getting more common everywhere. :) Toa Payoh
also have it, near the station. :)

Hi Duncan! Thanks for visiting my blog. Nah this is not my first attempt, I failed twice already. :P I have some questions to ask you regarding macaron making. Do check your blog. :)

Ai Lien ^-^ Cook for Happiness said...

Hi AiMei...very attractive baking !!!

evan 이벤젤린 said...

hi aimei, congrats on the success of yr macarons, they look lovely! in fact i wish mine are as puffy as yours =)

Yan said...

hi Aimei :

Congrats on the fabulous baking of cutey looking macarons...
HaPPY 1st Baking Anniversary !!!!!!

Anonymous said...


Happy 1st anni! =) wah~ those macaroons looks so cute~ i have not master the courage to try making them yet.. perhaps i shall try sometime soon! u are tempting me :P Thanks for sharing all the wonderful tips and recipes throughout the year. =) Many happy years to come!


Aimei said...

Hi Ai Lien, thanks for visiting my blog!

Hi Evan, thanks! Mine are still far from yours. :)

Thanks Yan!!

Thanks Amanda! Yeah you can give macarons a try. It's challenging but I'm sure you can do it. :) What I like is that the ingredients used are simple. :)

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