March 31, 2010

Why is the cake so small?

"Why is the cake so small?" my nephew exclaimed when he saw the birthday cake I brought out of the fridge. :P

My eldest brother is turning one year older and since he came home for dinner this year to celebrate his birthday with us, I had the honour to bake his birthday cake again this year ;) How "fortunate" he is isn't it cos' he got a birthday cake from this dear sis of his for two consecutive years. Last year, it was a durian mousse cake ;) hahaaWell in fact It wasn't a successful cake, so i wasn't that honoured after all! :P The chocolate sponge cake somehow wasn't cooked entirely even though when I inserted a toothpick, it came out clean. I had to discard one of the layer so i ended up with only two layers instead of three, making it a really short cake.

Another hiccup arised from the whipping of diary cream. I couldn't whipped it to a peak so I left it for a while to get a bowl of ice as a cushion for the bottom of the bowl, only to get a curdled cream that got all separated miserably:( So I had to make do with only raspberry jam for the fillings between the layer. The ganache wasn't done as well as it could have been.

I actually had second thoughts giving this cake to brother but eventually I think he won't mind. :) Only thing was everyone had to admit the cake looked really small! Well, it was a 6-inch cake but because it was too short, it appeared small and of cos' one look at it you'll know its homemade. :P

I think i need to attend some cake courses, especially on cake decorating. It's always easy and fun to self-taught and learn as you experience failures but the process of learning is longer. I wanna learn how to bake beautiful cakes! Anyone wanna join me? :P

March 26, 2010

Back to Homemade Bread

I'm craving to bake a loaf of bread.. soft homemade bread with no preservative, not the wholemeal version or soft buns but just simply a loaf of white bread. I craved the aroma of freshly baked loaf out from the oven. With that, I set down to bread making on a Sunday morning. I don't know why, that day I suddenly craved for white bread for next morning's breakfast. Even though I try to be as health conscious as possible and am trying to lose some weight by eating less rice and carbo now, staples like white rice and white bread is still a must for me and if i have not had rice for a few days, I would feel really awkward.
I did not have milk or milk powder on that day and from my experience, most bread recipes would have milk in its ingredients list, otherwise, the softness usually do not last for more than a day.
I fall back on this chocolate chip buns recipe . This produces bread which remained soft for at least 2 days and does not has milk. Probably the eggs in tis case adds richness to it. But be prepared to handle a rather sticky dough.
I merely omitted the cocoa powder and chocolate chips, and baked them in a loaf tin instead of shaping them into individual buns.
I realised how important It is to keep some good to-keep recipes for the same baked item (e.g. basic white bread, basic muffin or cakes) because you may just have one ingredient and not the other. That's when we can make good with whatever we have and still have your favourite baked goods without having to buy that ingredient solely for that purpose. :)

My slicing was outrageous so I dare not show you the sliced presentation. :P It was a successful attempt after a long break from bread making. I'm a happy gal that day. :)

March 18, 2010

Suji Cookies

Meeting up with my girlfriends is one of the happiest moments in life. Don't you agree? :D Even though I bake frequently whenever I could, I don't think my sistas had enough of my bakes because we don't meet so often. :) During our recent gathering, I squeezed in some time in the morning to bake this easy suji cookies before meeting them at noon. They love the cookies! Especially Kexian... :) I knew it cos I know she love melting moments, though I baked this to be more on the crunchy side.

Crunchy Suji Cookies
100g ghee
120g caster sugar (i reduced to 90g)
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
egg glaze: 1 egg yolk mixed with few drops of water (i omitted this)
  1. Mix ghee, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla essence till well combined.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda and salt and stir well.
  3. Preheat oven at 180°C for 10 minutes. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  4. Using a metal spoon, fold the flour mixture into the ghee mixture. Knead lightly to form a dough.
  5. Pinch a small amount (about 1/2 tbsp) of dough and roll it into a ball. Place the cookie dough 2cm apart on the tray as they will spread during baking.
  6. Brush with egg glaze.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes on the baking tray before transferring to a wire rack. Allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Recipe from: Oi Lin's "Delicious Asian Baked Treats"

Nice, cosy cafe but with food below our expectation. Nevertheless its the company that counts. Have not post our photos for a long time. :) Shunmei, Kexian, Kailing and me!

March 14, 2010

financier, two flavours

This little almond cake was a birthday treat dedicated to myself on my birthday this year. :) I can't remember when did my mum started buying me a Sara Lee pound cake for my birthday every year, in fact till last year. This year however, I decided to make my own instead.

While writing this post, I began wondering why I don't seem to remember my family celebrating birthdays every year with a creamed birthday cake and candles. So I asked my mum about it and that's when I knew that our family tradition is to have two hard-boiled eggs every year for our birthday, a tradition passed down from her parents. Anyhow, I don't seem to remember it cos' maybe for us kids, only seeing presents and cakes would leave a memorable impression on us. :P

While this doesn't seem to be anything elaborate considering it's a once a year thingy, the whole meaning behind ths simple act is worth mentioning. Still, I was considered much more fortunate as compared to my elder brothers as I did have a few "big" birthday celebrations where my mum would buy a birthday cake and prepared fried chicken wings, fishballs, bee hoon and so on and invited my cousins and close friends. I would then stand at the centre in front of the birthday cake, with my cousins around where we posed for photographs. :)

Slowly as I grow older, birthdays were spent with friends and my mum would just gave me an ang bao. Some years back, she started buying me a Sara Lee Pound cake and this continues. As far as I can remember, a Sara Lee pound cake used to cost $3.50 but today it has gone up to $4.90!

Hey I've been mentioning pound cake but why financier? My first thought was to bake a pound cake but eventually I settled for this financier because of the leftover egg whites sitting in my fridge since pre-cny. I also wanted to try more recipes from cook books which I've been buying but hardly try out the recipes.

The result of this little financier is lovely. It is a dense cake with soft crumbs. I like baked goods with ground almonds because it adds that lovely kind of texture.

I like the original flavour (vanilla) but the green tea flavour taste just as good. This is best eaten delicately with a fork because only then you can savour the texture and it is rather sweet. :D

I'm sharing this recipe from "Okashi Treats" by keiko ishida. Enjoy!

Almond Financier

50g cake flour
5g corn flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
130g egg whites
130g castor sugar (i reduced to 110g and stll taste sweet to me)
50g ground almonds
a pinch of salt
130g unsalted butter
10g green tea powder

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Lightly grease small tins with a little butter and place them on a baking sheet. Sift all dry ingredients (except salt) twice. Add green tea flour if making green tea financier.
  2. Place egg whites into a clean bowl and beat lightly. Add sugar, ground almonds, flour mixture and salt each at a time and mix well without over-mixing. Set aside.
  3. Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking frequently until fragrant and golden brown in colour. Pour butter into a mixing bowl. Place the bowl with browned butter into a larger bowl half-filled with ice water to stop it from cooking further and burning.
  4. Add browned butter to flour and almond mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour better into prepared cake moulds.
  6. Bake financier for 10-15 minutes until they are light and golden in colour.
  7. Remove cakes from moulds and cool on wire rack before serving.
Can be kept in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or 1 month in the freezer.
Step 3 refers to the making of clarified butter. The melted butter actually hardened after I transferred to a larger bowl. I thought the ice water is supposed to stop it from cooking further? Have I done anything wrong? :P