December 31, 2009

X'mas bakes & Happy 2010!!!

Like many bloggers out there, I've had a long list of X'mas bakings planned long ahead to do this year. See my calendar and you'll know... it's not only outings in my schedule but baking "appointments" I've scheduled. :) Unfortunately most did not materialise, for you can't have the best of both worlds. For me, it's either I stay at home most of the weekend to feel the christmasy mood and enjoy the baking therapy, or immerse in the X'mas mood with gal's all-time favourite shopping therapy and meeting up my buddies and pals. So I choose the latter, cos' it's only the once in a year when most of us can try to take time out to meet up with one another.

I still managed to bake something new this year, though I didn't fulfill the entire list.
These are cranberry shortbreads. The dough gets soft very fast so for some of them, I had to make snowball type cookies.

I attended a cookie workshop at Sugar Inc some time back and learnt the techniques of making royal icing using meringue powder. I did tried this on my own before but after attending this workshop, I'm able to do it much better. :) So I gotto try it out on my x'mas cookies this year. My friends were delighted when they saw these cute decorated cookies!
Another new item i baked this year was christmas stollen. Used the recipe from my trusted 孟老师的100道面包. You can find the recipe in Elyn's blog as well. :)

Brandy mixed with orange juice-soaked dried fruits. I used mainly cranberries, raisins and currants.

I love to eat these toasted almonds on its own!

Made two loaves dusted with icing sugar

I find these bread rather oily because quite a high amount of butter is used. They were a tad too moist as well. I later realised I need to pat-dry the soaked berries well, which I didn't. :P Overall, it's a very delicious bread with the generous helping of berries.
Wanna wish everyone a HAPPY 2010!! May all have a good year ahead! :D

December 27, 2009

First Cookware X'mas Present!

I received an early X'mas present this year.. Not from my buddies, not my dd, dad and mum... it's a winning entry for contributing a question to the magazine Kitchen Culture: Food & Travel.

Nope nope I'm not trying to advertise for them. I definitely don't get any credits for doing that. ;) I'd just like to share with you people how lucky me won an Emile Henry Flame Top 1.0L stewpot by sending in a question. :D

If you think this sturdy-looking black stewpot looks massive enough to cook up a big pot of soup or stew, you are wrong. This stewtop has a small capacity, 1.0L and for someone like me who bakes much more than I cook, I can only think of using it to cook noodles. :P Definitely I'll have to give it to my mum to put it to good use.

Here it goes.......

Apparently this problem had been bothering me since the day I made buttercream icing (simple buttercream by beating icing sugar and butter) to go with cupcakes. I did approached some bloggers out there but they didn't seem to have the problem as mine. Having explored all possible causes, like sifting the icing sugar well, adding a bit at a time, beating butter and icing sugar well and evenly.... but still the buttercream was never as smooth as what I expected. Could I have a too sensitive tongue that I can feel the tiniest presence of sugar in a buttercream icing?
To be honest I had never eaten a cupcake with those dollops of buttercream (as such I do not know what should be expected) until I attended a baby shower recently and tried out the cupcakes that they ordered from a much reputable online catering pastry shop and to my surprise, their buttercream icing had exactly the same gritty texture as mine.

I do not know whether that finally answered my problems but I definitely believe buttercream should not taste and feels like this. I am contemplating trying an Italian or swiss meringue buttercream someday. I think that will be challenging! The process however, seems very daunting to me. I'd definitely have to be mentally and "equipmentally" well-equipped before I am going to attempt it. For now, I'd have to bake more basic cakes to be able to get a foolproof result first. hehe... :)

December 12, 2009

Swirl Rye Bread

I am guilty of purchasing cookbooks that caught my attention at first sight with lots of interesting recipes, only to end up being left forgotten on the shelves. Yet the urge to keep on buying new books never ends.... doesn't this sound familiar? :) Having tried a few recipes with ease and success in Global Baker - by Dean Brettschneider, I'm gonna attempt more of the other interesting recipes in his book. This'll definitely not be left on the shelf. ;)
This swirl rye bread is healthy, pretty and soft. Taste wise, I can't comment because I realised I had put in the wrong spices only when I was uploading the photos on Flickr. The recipe called for caraway seeds but i added cardamon! lolx.... Till now, I have no idea how caraway seeds taste or smell like but because of the strong smell of cardamon, i reduced by half of its original amount. I usually put it off when I saw these kind of spices being used in a recipe but I thought I would give it a try for the first time, only to make such a silly joke. Nobody knows anyway cos' it'd gone into their stomach and they were quite accepting to the taste. :)

I was about to type out the recipe when I saw there is this link to his recipe in his website. Yay, so I don't have to type it out. :P By the way, I halved the recipe, i.e. reduce all the ingredients by half and it works well.

I don't often take pictures of my baking process... this time I did. :) Hope you enjoy the pictures! ;)

Before proofing....
After proofing... one hour later...
Flatten into two rectangular pieces...
Placing one on top of the other....
Roll it up like a swissroll...
Final proofing before send to the oven...

This bread is soft and has a nice crust. Great as a toast or sandwich, like what I did. ;)

December 5, 2009

Malacca Trip Nov 2009

My Malacca Trip photos! :)

It was a relaxing 3D2N trip in this small town in Malaysia. Two days in Malacca would have been sufficient but we choose to simply relax, sleep and wake up late and leisurely shop, walk and eat! Yes, eating is the main activity of this trip. How much can you shop and sight-see in this little town... so of course we can't possibly miss the good local Nonya cuisines and good'o traditional dishes like laksa, pastrys, chicken rice balls.... After indulging, we then comfort ourselves by travelling by foot, having the illusion that we will walk off the calories. hehe... ... :P First thing in the morning before boarding the coach. Already start eating Wanton Mee....
Checked into
Equatorial Hotel.... We wanted to book Holiday Inn but it was fully booked due to some functions (according to them). Do try Holiday Inn if you go there. Reviews were so much better from those who had stayed there. Had our lunch at this Nonya Restaurant - Nancy Kitchen at Jonker Street selling traditional nonya cuisine. I hardly come across nonya cuisine so I can't make any comparison but I would say they are delicious especially their kuihs. Their kuihs are really fragrant and not too sweet. Otahs...

Fried Rice... I simply love this!
This is a pork dish with tofu. Can't remember what it is called.

Curry Chicken
Preserved salted vegetables with duck soup.

Quiet alley in the afternoon of Jonker StreetDessert - Chendol. They used gula medaka, very much different from our local coconut-laden version. Very refreshing for their climate. Found this in the Chendol stall. I believe it's to motivate the workers to work hard! Singapore Flyer? Nope, it's the "Eye on Malaysia". A ferris wheel at the mouth of the MelekaRiver. I think they are still trying to open up the area to spruce up the tourism sector but much more needs to be done.

The quiet Jonker Street turned into a bustling night market on weekend night.
Yummy dumplings!Nonya laksaEnded our day with a massage near our hotel. Great rubbing away the tight muscles but they tried too hard so I was "bruised" for 2 days. lol. Still prefer Indonesian massage.
Day 2

Had our breakfast in the hotel before heading for shopping. A&W lunch..
Nadeje Mille Crepe at Nadeje Patisserie Cafe. I went searching for it after reading some reviews about it in Malacca. Just go googling and you'll find lots of review of this. Personally I love it! Layers of crepe and cream. This is the original flavour.

St Paul's Church.

We went to Jonker Street again for their street food.

This is similar to our Singapore Chwee Keuh but the sweet version.

Dinner at this Newton Food Centre. Bak Kut Teh.

After back to hotel for rest, we walked to this jetty near Holiday Inn and relax at a pub and watched soccer match.
Day 3
Had this famous chicken rice ball. This traditional stall serves only chicken rice and nothing else. No other side dishes yet their business is so good that they close by 3pm. Personally we felt it was ok only but probably people want to try their most traditional rice ball and chicken.
It's just opposite the San Shu Gong, the biggest outlet selling local produce and snacks.
Don;t they look like fishballs?

We went back to Nancy Kitchen (where we had our Nonya lunch on the first day) to buy some of its kuihs.

Very good! It's a must try if you visit Nancy Kitchen.
Went for a final foot massage after all the walking and we were on the coach back home!
Our next trip is Phuket in April flying by budget airline! We've found a really good deal but of course we have to plan early. Can't wait for April to come! Woo hoo.....
Meanwhile, I have some new bakes, hope to post them soon! :)