August 27, 2008

An uneventful day of baking, but I have my Aglio Olio

As I am writing this post now, I am still recovering from my "uneventful baking day" trauma. Good thing is, I still have this favourite pasta of mine to share. :)

Well, about my eventful baking, I just tried baking a pandan chiffon cake. It has been ages since my last pandan chiffon and this time (as I was linking this, just realised it's almost a year ago!), I decide to bake a bigger one using the 21-cm chiffon tin. I was actually not very confident as I have not baked a bigger size chiffon for a long time. I used the same recipe as the previous one, and true to wat I feared, the chiffon cake was a total flop. The top cracked badly; it seemed restrained to rise further up as it had reached it's maximum height. I wasn't sure whether to bake for 30 minutes or beyond (recipe stated 30-40 min); when I took it out at the 33st minute, it seemed uncooked, so I had to bake it longer again. Some parts of the chiffon still remained uncooked :( but was still edible, even though I really felt like dumping it away.

I must admit 6 eggs wasn't that easy to handle, especially the folding part. I was quite sure the egg whites had been beaten to the correct consistency, like my previous successful attempts. What went wrong?? Had I used the wrong tin size? Recipe stated for a 22-cm while mine was a 21-cm. I thought it doesn't make a difference. I really feel like attending a proper basic chiffon cake making lesson. This is the most basic skill that I think I need to master! Help! Any recommendations?? ;)

Another baking disaster today. I wanted to bake some sweet potatoes for my snacks. I had done this dish several times but today's sweet potatoes seemed to be unfresh. There were many dark spots. But I still peeled off the spots and bake it anyway. Dark, purple spots started appearing after baking. yucks! I have no idea too. It just wasn't my day today :(

Alright, back to this pasta dish, I whipped it last weekend. Aglio Olio is my favourite pasta dish, as compared to those creamy or tomato based sauce, with linguine. :)
Aglio Olio (serves two)


  • A handful of pasta of your choice (Sorry I didn't measure the weight)
  • Shishake mushrooms, washed and sliced.
  • Bacon bits (I used store-bought which comes in bottles. You could buy raw ones too).
  • 2 cloves of whole garlic plus 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • Some fresh basil, chopped (you could use other herbs of your choice too)
  • black pepper and salt to taste
  • About 3 tbsp of olive oil (or more)


  1. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for about 15 minutes (When water boils, throw in the pasta, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until soft). When cooked, drain and leave it aside.
  2. Heat up a wok, fry 2 cloves whole garlic until fragant, toss in the bacon bits and fry till cooked. Add in the shishake mushrooms and continue to stir-fry until cooked.
  3. Add in the cooked pasta, followed by the chopped garlic and chopped basil, toss until all the pasta are evenly coated with oil. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  4. Serve while hot (You may add in some dried chilli flakes if you have).

I just happened to chance upon this blog event - Presto Pasta Night which showcases all kinds of noodle dishes. Well, I decided to participate in it with my first pasta dish on my blog. :) This coming week's roundup will be hosted by Abby of Eat the Right Stuff.

August 24, 2008

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

I'm soooooooo pissed off! Why is it so difficult just to put up a simple post?? There was orginially another photo that I'd wanted to post up, but it took me many tries before I gave up. Another two para of write-up was also not saved - somehow the autosave failed and I couldn't save it either. arrgghhhhhhhh :(

Anyhow, forget about all the those little ramblings I had poured out about blueberry muffins, I just wanna share this recipe that I'd used from Joy of Baking. Now, I truly have to confess that it was my wrong technique that had contributed to the dense rubbery texture of mixed-in muffin when I first started making it. That was like probably a years ++ ago? So, I actually 'discriminated' it and thought that mixed-in muffins are not as yummy as cake-like muffins (using the creaming of butter and sugar type). Nowadays I did many recipes of these and when the liquid proportion was a little less, I was rather worried that the result would end up dense cos' I need to mix in longer in order to get everything well mixed. I realised I was wrong! You REALLY got to mix the wet and dry ingredients gently and you'll reap the results! The texture can be as soft and fluffy without much effort, since you are going it gently. But of course, the proportion of ingredients then plays a tremendous role, any little changes can render a different textured muffin altogether. It is still eatable though, most of the time. :)

For this muffin, I only reduced the sugar and used milk mixed with lemon (to make my own buttermilk as I did not have it). I like how the orange zest can already flavour the muffin with a nice tinge of orangy taste without any addition of orange juice. If orange juice is added, some of the milk portion would have to be reduced and this could probably alter the texture of it.

Buttermilk Berry Muffins
2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white
2 tsp
baking powder
1/4 tsp
baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one orange
1 large
egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk
2/3 cup (160 ml) safflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon pure
2 cups fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and/or strawberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 190° C. Position rack in center of oven. Prepare 12 regular-size or 6 jumbo-size muffin trays lined with paper/Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray if not using papers.
  2. In a large measuring bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest.
  4. Gently fold in the berries.
  5. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.
    Fill each muffin cup almost full of batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.
  6. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan. Dust with powdered sugar.
Note: I posted the original recipe since I'm following almost exactly to it. Makes 12 regular sized muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.
Note: If using frozen berries you may have to bake the muffins a little longer than the stated time. Also, if making jumbo sized muffins, again, you may have to bake the muffins a little longer. (adapted from
Joy of Baking).

August 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad and Mom!

My dad and mom's birthday happens to be just three days apart; so last Sunday, I made this mango mousse cake for their birthday. We went for Sunday brunch at Ding Tai Fung (a Chinese restaurant) and I brought this cake along. :) I think my nephew was more happy than anyone else when he sang along and blew candles with my parents. It seemed more like his own birthday celebration when my dad asked him to make a wish instead of himself!! *LOL*

Back to a little description about this cake, I used a sponge cake recipe shared by Happy Homebaker. The sponge cake turned out perfect but I felt that it was not soft enough as compared to a chiffon base, which I refrained from making for fear of failure. I think I'll have to practise more on chiffon cake making so that next time round, I would be able to try a chiffon cake base.

I filled the cake layers with mango mousse, taken from Florence's Mango Mousse Cake. The texture was good but somehow the taste of mango was quite faint. Could the sweetness and ripeness of mangoes play a part?

I've also made my own sponge fingers, recipe taken from Aunty Yochana's Strawberry Charlotte. The sponge fingers were soft, with a crisp exterior. I think they looked and tasted much nicer than store bought sponge fingers. I would highly recommend this recipe. :)
Happy Birthday dad and mom!!!

August 12, 2008

Savoury Muffins for a change

This is going to be a short post, with only one precious photo to share. I baked this muffin on one of the weekday night, so that I can have it for breakfast the next day. Next morning, just before my camera battery went flat, thank god I managed to capture two shots of the muffins. :) However, no cross section to show you guys. :)

I don't really like sweet stuffs in the morning, so sweet muffins were one of last choices if I were to make something for my breakfast. I decided to try this cheddar herb muffins (from Williams-Sonoma) and finally bought a block of cheddar cheese which I had been wanting to buy to contemplate making pizza, pasta..etc. This is a simple mixed-in muffin, best for weekday night baking. Original recipe uses chive and rosemary as the essential herb with cheddar. I intended to use basil initially (only herb I have) but was afraid it will not pair well with cheddar. So, I omitted using herbs and added bacon bits for a greater savoury taste instead. I'm sure ham, sausages would be a good idea too!

Are you the savoury type of person? I am definitely, cos' somehow it always increases my appetite. But I knew I have to control cos' salty things can cause water retention, which can lead to eye bags? :P Hehe

Even though there seems to be quite a substantial amount of cheese, after the muffins were baked, the taste wasn't too overpowering. Even my parents who don't eat cheese found it tasty too. :) If you wanna try something hearty that can last you till lunch time, why not give this a try. :)Cheddar-Bacon Savoury Muffins (Makes 6 regular-sized Muffins)


  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 37.5g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 90g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 125 ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 40 ml canola oil
  • 3 tbsp bacon bits


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, wholemeal flour, baking powder, baking soda, bacon bits and 70g of the cheese.
  4. In a large bowl, beat eggs until blended. Add buttermilk, honey, oil and beat till well-blended.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup to about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the remaining 20g cheese evenly over the tops.
  7. Bake until a toothpickinserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.
  8. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes before turning out onto the rack.
  9. Can be store in an airtight container at room temperature for up tp 2 days.

Note: I made some modifications by replacing 3 tbsp chopped chives and 1 tbsp rosemary with bacon.

Recipe Source: Williams-Sonoma's Essential of Baking

August 9, 2008

Soft like Cotton Sweet Corn Bread

I've not been baking sweet breads for some time so I decided to try my hands at one of the recipe from this popular chinese bread recipe cookbook - 孟老师的100道面包 which I've just acquired recently. This book boosts a collection of simple, easy-to-follow recipes with just the right proportion for home baking ovens without having to reduce the proportion of the recipes.

There are quite a number of recipes in this book using sponge starters. As i did not want to spend too much time on that day, I choose a relatively straight forward recipe with simple shaping method as well. Here goes, sweet corn bread! This recipe was originally a milk bread with sweet corns. I wanted the bread to have a more intense sweet corn flavour, resembling those sold in confectionaries or the Gardenia sweet corn loaf . I thought replacing the milk with cream of sweet corn soup instead should be fine, but I was afraid the soup would be too creamy for bread making. In the end, I came up with this idea of replacing with those instant campbell sweet corn soup, where you just need to add boiling water to a sachet and stir.

Guess what, the bread turned out to be so soft and fluffy like cotton! The dough was rather sticky to handle, but it was worth all the effort. :) Well, I guess the cream/milk had somehow contributed to its texture, just like in the hokkaido milk loaf recipe, which I recalled also having a very sticky texture.

Sweet Corn Bread

  • 200g bread flour
  • 35g castor sugar
  • 35g beaten eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3g instant yeast
  • 100g instant creamy corn soup (Original recipe uses 100g milk)
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 80g corn kernels, drained

  1. Mix flour, sugar, salt, yeast and corn soup in a stand mixer and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and shiny.
  2. Add butter and continue beating until dough is smooth, elastic and can be stretched to form an opaque thin film without breaking (passes the window pane test).
  3. Add corn kernels and beat using slow speed to mix in the corn kernels.
  4. Form dough into a ball, placed in a large mixing bowl and let proof for about 80 minutes.
  5. Release the air, divide dough into five portions and round them into balls.
  6. Placed rounded dough into a tube pan, spaced evenly and let it proof for another 40 minutes.
  7. Glaze with egg wash, bake in preheated oven of 180°C for about 25 minutes.

Note: I used my breadmaker to knead the dough - Placed ingredients according to following sequence: corn soup, sugar, salt, eggs flour, yeast (just make sure to add in wet ingredients first, followed by dry ingredients, and yeast last, as you do not want the salt and yeast to come into contact). After 15 minutes, add in butter and finally corn kernels. I set to dough function and kneaded for 30 minutes.

Do drain the corn kernels well and pat dry it with paper towels.

Recipe Source: 孟老师的100道面包

August 8, 2008

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

Whenever I see bloggers posting pictures of beautiful cupcakes, I'm always tempted to bake those. Yet there wasn't really any occasion for me to bake cupcakes, and given that I've so many things that I wanna try out on my 'to do bakes/cooks', so cupcakes would be lower on my priority list :)
A week after I baked the strawberry swissroll for Kexian came just at the right time! I had a fair bit of leftover buttercream chilled in the fridge. I don't think buttercream can be kept too long in the fridge so I had to use it. My cousin invited us for his housewarming on the same weekend, so I baked a batch of mini cupcakes frosted with buttercream to bring to his housewarming. The cupcakes were well received. :D :D
The chocolate cupcake recipe, taken from Baking Bites, uses a simple mixed-in method and the texture was just perfect. It had the right degree of compactness I would say, without being too dense or too light and soft for cupcakes. It wasn't too buttery also which I felt was good cos' it was already frosted with buttercream. Of cos' if you like a richer chocolate cupcake, just feel free to try any chocolate cake recipes.
For the buttercream, I had to let it stand in room temperature for a while, and re-whipped again, adding more sifted icing sugar in order for it to hold its shape well. For the pink strawberry portion, as there was already some strawberry chunks in it, it was more watery thus when I tried piping, it began melting. I had to spread it instead of piping as the shape can't hold. I love minis cos' they are just so cute and won't make one feel too full and will wanna come back for more variations! :)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coffee powder (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I reduced to about 1/3, still fine but not so sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 90 ml milk
  • 1/4 cup (62.5ml) oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract/essence
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Line mini muffin trays with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa power, instant coffee powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Distribute batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.