March 23, 2009

Baking Class at Creative Culinaire

Having started this blog for about a year plus, and one year of home baking prior to that, I would say my baking 'experience' (in terms of the number and variety of goods I've baked) is pretty long but the definitely not good enough to be 'promoted' yet! LOL. I still encounter hiccups here and there, e.g. chiffon cake, piping skills, not soft enough sponge cakes or even the easiest butter cakes could get dense at times.

Hence, i signed up for a foundation cake making at Creative Culinaire. The foundation class comprises 4 lessons in total, each week focusing on a certain cake type. I've already attended 3 lessons so far (butter cakes, chiffon cakes and swiss rolls) and my last lesson would be sponge cakes.

Although the cost of the 4 lessons is not cheap, I enjoyed the lessons and I would say I have certainly benefitted from all the classes I've attended so far. Chef Judy Koh is a very approachable lady with a good sense of humour! She looks younger than in the photos (of her published books). This foundation class is definitely useful for newbies who had never baked before but had just started to have an interest in baking. It provides the basic foundation of what you need to know about cake baking but thereafter you should practice in order to master the technique. For me, I've already understand most of the theories and types of method but I've learnt some tips from Judy and hands-on techniques which I would not be able to grasp easily from books or online resources, such as whipping of egg whites and rolling a swiss roll. :D

I'm also much relieved to get the assurance that home-made cakes usually would never achieve the same softness as commercial-baked cakes because emulsifier is added most of the time to keep it soft and stay fresh longer. It also helps to stabilise air bubbles which is created and important in maintaining cake softness in any type of cake.

These are some of the butter cupcakes I made during my first lessons.

These were the wedding cupcakes they customised for a pair of couples who is a doctor (A vet if I remember correctly) and an accountant.

This was my successful pandan chiffon cake after attending her class. I overwhipped a batch of egg whites during my first lesson (for a walnut butter cake) and I guess I now know how does overwhipping of egg whites looks like. However, stand mixer and my handheld mixer is different so I'm still learning how to slow down and adjust to my equipment. :) Some tips for you people: - sugar helps to stabilize egg whites, hence feel free to 'shift' some of the sugar in the egg yolk batter to the egg whites for higher stability, but do ensure that the weight of the sugar in the egg whites should not be greater than the weight of egg whites.

I'm looking forward to my last lesson next week and shall be back to my home baking routine. :) I still miss the freedom of baking as a hobby and trying out new recipes. :P

March 18, 2009

Kimchi Fried Rice

A kimchi fried rice recipe in the latest issue of "Food & Travel" magazine, a bottle of kimchi (unopened) given by the sponsors when I participated in The New Paper Big Walk" event few months back and some leftover cooked rice? Then don't waste the "resources", Just do it! Haha... so I whipped up this kimchi fried rice for my lunch. It's quite tasty and something for a change instead of the usual egg fried rice.
Kimchi Fried Rice (Serves 2)
1 cup Korean rice, washed and soaked for 1 hour (I used leftover long-grained cooked rice)
1 1/4 cups water
300g minced beef (I used chicken fillets)
1 1/2 tbsp soya sauce (for seasoning)
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp kimchi, chopped
black pepper, to taste
1/2 tbsp soya sauce (for frying)
2 tbsp chopped spring onions (I omitted as i did not have it).
  1. Drain the rice and place in a pot. Add water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. When boling, turn heat to very low and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let the rice stand, covered for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and allow to cool before frying.
  2. Season the beef / chicken with soya sauce and sesame oil. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan, brown garlic for 1 minute. Add beef / chicken and fry until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add kimchi (together with the sauce), fry for 1 minute, then add rice and toss everything until well mixed.
  5. Season with black pepper and garnish with spring onions.
Adapted and slight modifications from: Food & Travel - Mar 2009 Issue

March 14, 2009

Turkish Pitta Bread

For my birthday this year, I acquired four new cookbooks. One was by my sister-in-law, one by my best friend, and the other two was bought by myself with a $5 MPH voucher that was due to expire. I bought a "Japanese Home Cooking" cookbook by 樱井景子 and a "Healthy Kids Snacks & Lunches" under the Periplus Mini Cookbooks" series. Heh, it's not meant for kids ok cos' I find the recipes good and healthy for my occasional light lunches and it could be useful for me in future for my kids! :P

My sister-in-law gave me this "Complete Baking: With Over 400 Recipes for Pies, Tarts, Buns, Etc." by Martha Day while my best friend this "70 Classic Chocolate Recipes", editor, Christine France. Yeah, having four new books at one go and I'm certainly having fun reading and sourcing for new recipes to try. :D This Turkish Pitta Bread is one of the recipe in Martha Day's book. It was one of the easiest bread recipe I could find to bake on a Sunday morning. It satisfied my "baking crave" with only a couple of hours I had before going out. I had learnt never to rush through a baking session if I don't have enough time as the results usually won't be satisfying. Patience is really important in baking, which I admit this is something I am lacking of. :P

Just in case you do not know what is a pitta bread, it is a soft flat bread that forms a pocket, which is perfect for filling with grilled meat or vegetables. I had, on a few occasions, saw this packet of pitta breads at Market Place and Cold Storage and wanted to buy it to make a pitta sandwich but didn't in the end. So I thought it would be great for me to make my own homemade pitta bread!

On the day it was baked, the bread was very soft and fluffy. However, it hardened rather quickly the next day. Although the flatbread puffed up, the bread's interior was not really hollow. I was wondering if the interior is supposed to form a hollow shell, or you just need to roll it till very thin in order for you to stuff in the fillings? Has anyone ever made a pitta bread before and care to to lend me your advice? :P I think I did not roll it thin enough though.

Still it was great making my own pitta sandwich with egg omelette. :D As it don't keep well till the next day, I shall not post the recipe until I have found a better recipe. Just let me know if you would like to try and I'll post/email to you. ;)

P/s: Just stumbled onto Farmgirl Fare's blog and she made pitta bread before too! Can have a look at hers. ;)

March 9, 2009


It was our one year anniversary and dd and I went for a 2D1N relaxing spa trip to Batam last week. We booked this Harris Resort which was inclusive of a 3 hours spa, 1 overnight stay, breakfast and a free pizza from their cafe. It was our second time there and we were actually deciding whether to go for other resorts in Batam/Bintan; finally, we still went back to Harris because of its affordability and excellent services by the staffs. Of course, don't expect top-rated facilities and environment as it is only a 3-star rated resort. ;)

What I like about the resort is their spacious room and super king size bed! Very comfy. :D The first time when we were there, which was about 6 months ago, we were able to upgrade our room to a bigger room on the ground floor (Cabana Room) for free as it was a weekday. This time, we preferred to stay in their standard rooms as there were some construction going on near the Cabana Rooms.

On the first day, we took an early ferry from the ferry terminal at Harbourfront and reached there at about 10am (Batam Time). The resort provided free shuttle services to their town area where we did some shopping. Frankly their shopping mall as you can guessed wasn't that appealing to us in terms of fashion apparels and variety. There were still some nice, affordable t-shirts and accessories worth buying, though.
We had our lunch at A&W, something already non-existent in Singapore! Their root beer float was awesome! I remembered having it at Ang Mo Kio when I was young! I had their waffles with ice-cream during our first trip but not this time cos' wanna save my stomach for other food :D

Back to the hotel, we rest and relax before going for our 3 hour spa and massage. This was what we had been waiting for. The indonesian massage was relaxing and soothing; I did not feel any pain unlike my usual shoulder massage at the facials. Instead the strength was just right and they literally "unlock" our tired muscles. We were massaged from head to toe (except the face) and truly rejuvenating.
Our next morning breakfast spread. :) The quality of food was not too bad but the spread could have ben better. They did'nt serve my favourite cereals with milk. >_<
"Pronto" pizza from their cafe. Their crust was thin and crispy. Thumbs up!

Vicinity outside the spa area. The individual huts were where we had our spa.

There was this internet kiosk supposedly for guest who will be staying there for long. Haha but I managed to use it without anyone inteferring. I tried to login to the internet but to no avail until dd can assess to my blog for me ~ My Baking Cottage! :P
On our last day, we went to another shopping mall where we had a foot massage for an hour and movies before heading back home. After this trip, I began to love massage... hehe... :P