Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mooncake festival is here! Spiral Pandan Teochew Mooncakes

Chinese celebrate the lunar 8th month with a special type of cakes called mooncakes. To celebrate the festive, mooncakes in special boxes are given as gifts to family members. On the 15th day of this month, family members are expected to get together, have dinner and enjoy the mooncakes together.

I love mooncakes! and especially when I only get to eat them once a year, I get excited when mooncakes advertisements and posters start to spring up in shopping malls as the lunar 8th month draws near. In this period, you will see how chefs from famous bakeries and hotels let their creative juices flow and come up with excellent mooncakes varieties. At mooncakes bazaars, you get totally spoil for choices on mooncakes flavours.

Novelty is always welcomed but the traditional ones often make the best gifts for our elders. While people are familiar with those traditional baked mooncakes, there is one type that is quite very different. It has a buttery, flaky crust with sweet yam filling. We call it Teochew Mooncake.

I have been contemplating to make mooncakes this year but have yet to buy mooncakes making molds. Incidentally, I stumbled upon a teochew mooncakes recipe by HouseofAnnie and since it didn’t require mooncakes molds, I decided to give it a try. True to what Annie claimed, it is quite simple to make, much simpler than what people may think. But..... It took me more than twice the amount of time to make as compared to what was stated in the recipe... I think it’s the spirals... they have a "snailing" effect on me...

Spiral pandan teochew mooncakes

Ingredients - Filling
  • 300 g Japanese sweet potatoes (purple ones preferred), boiled and smashed 
  • 57 g unsalted butter 
  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (can reduce or increase the amount depending on the sweetness of the sweet potatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
Method for filling
  1. Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to the smashed sweet potatoes and mix it till it forms a paste 
  2. Divide the paste into 20 balls and put aside while making doughs for the crust 
Ingredients - Crust - Water Dough A
  • 200 g unbleached plain flour (I used half cake flour and half plain flour) 
  • 28 g icing sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 80 g cold butter 
  • 80 g water 
  Ingredients - Crust - Oil Dough B
  • 180 g unbleached plain flour (I used half cake flour and half plain flour) 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 90 g canola oil 
  • 1/2 tsp pandan essence paste
Method for crust:

Dough A
  1. Sift together flour, salt and sugar. 
  2. Cut in cold butter into flour mixture using finger tips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
  3. Add in water and mix to for soft, non-sticky dough. Add more flour if needed to make dough non-sickly 
  4. Cover and put aside dough A for 20 mins. 

Dough B
  1. Sift together flour and salt 
  2. Make a well in the centre of flour and add in oil and pandan essence. 
  3. Draw in flour from the sides and mix to form soft even-coloured non-sticky dough. Similarly, if dough is sticky, add more flour until non-sticky. 
  4. Cover and set aside for 20 min 
Making the mooncakes
  1. Preheat oven to 185degC. 
  2. Divide A and B into 10 equal balls each. 
  3. Take one ball of A, flatten and wrap B in it. Pinch to seal edges 
  4. With the sealed end facing up, roll the dough into a thin long rectangular strip. 
  5. Roll the thin strip from one end to the other into a (horizontal) "cylinder" with spirals, turn the cylinder 90deg into a vertical cylinder and roll it again into a long thin rectangular shape. 
  6. Once again, roll the new thin strip from one end to the other into a (horizontal) "cylinder" with spirals. Cut the cylinder into half with a sharp knife. 
  7. With the cut side facing down, flatter the half-cylinder into a circular dish. It is useful to make it bigger and have the edges thinner than the centre for easy wrapping of filling. 
  8. Wrap the filling and pinch to seal. 
  9. Place the mooncakes on a line baking tray with the pinched side at the bottom. 
  10. Bake for 30 mins until the top and bottom are a light golden brown. 

Friday, 26 August 2011

Very BaNANA loaf

Banana loaf, banana cake, banana bread... what's the difference? Based on my little research, people use the terms interchangeably. But recipes for cake, bread and loaf differ to some extent. Banana cakes tend to call for more butter and oil as compared with banana bread and loaves. Banana cakes are also "fluffier" and taster richer than banana breads. Regardless, banana recipes are quick, simple and popular with beginners. They are hard to go wrong, unless you like unripe bananas......

There are easily over hundreds of banana cake/loaf/bread recipes available in recipe books and on the internet. I adapted my recipe from one called BEST EVER BANANA BREAD from allrecipes.com. Until I tried all the banana recipes in the world, there is no way to prove is the best ever banana bread. But I can tell you, this is a fail-proof recipe, not matter how you modify it.

(It is a pity that I did not have my camera with me when I baked this banana loaf. had to turn to a dinosaur 3G iPhone I inherited from Dear. with a 2 megapixel camera only, the pictures are really quite a blur)

ba-NANA loaf

  • 220 g plain flour 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional) 
  • 110 g caster sugar 
  • 110 g packed brown sugar (okay to use all caster sugar if you have no brown sugar) 
  • 2 Eggs, light beaten 
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional) 
  • 120 ml  vegetable oil 
  • 80 ml plain yoghurt (original recipe calls for buttermilk and if using buttermilk, increase sugar to 300g) 
  • 3 Large bananas, smashed (always use Dole Bananas! =) 
  • (You may add pecan or walnuts) 
  1. Preheat oven to 165degC. Grease and line a 9-by-5 in loaf tin. 
  2. Beat eggs lightly with vanilla essence 
  3. Blend together the smashed bananas, yoghurt, and oil and egg-vanilla mixture 
  4. Sift together the flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking soda and salt 
  5. added 4 into 3 and mix well 
  6. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake in oven for about 1hr 20min or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. 
Simple as it may be, it was very well-received. I am very heartened by the comments given by my friends. *big grin*

I will definitely make it again!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Souffle Cheesecake - an original Japanese recipe

Haven’t had the Fiesta cheesecakes in a while. Kind of craving for it... all along, i prefer Japanese cheesecakes to American ones cos I like them light and fluffy...

This recipe was given to me (and a few other friends) by a girlfriend who loves the Japanese culture and can speak Japanese very well. Originally written in Japanese, my friend super kindly translated the recipe into English for us. It is an original Japanese cheesecake!

Till date, this is one of my most treasured recipes - easy to follow instructions with many useful personal tips. And best of all, it never fails.

Thanks Michelle!

Soufflé Cheesecake

  • 250 g Cream Cheese, softened at room temperature 
  • 80 g Granulated Sugar, divided 
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Egg White 
  • 80 g Fresh Cream 
  • 20 g Corn Starch 
  • 1.5-2 tbsp Lemon Juice 
  1. Using a hand whisk, whisk the cream cheese till smooth 
  2. Add half the amount of the granulated sugar and whisk well 
  3. Add the egg yolk one at a time and whisk well after each addition 
  4. Add in the fresh cream, cornstarch and lemon juice and whisk well. Set aside 
  5. In another mixing bowl, add a pinch of the remaining half of the sugar into the egg white 
  6. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg white until it turns white 
  7. Add the remaining sugar in 2-3 additions. Whisk well after each addition until stiff peaks form. This is the meringue. 
  8. Preheat oven to 170DdegC 
  9. Using a hand whisk, whisk half of the meringue into the cream cheese mixture. Whisk well but gently. 
  10. Using a spatula, gently fold in the rest of the meringue - in 2-3 additions, into the cream cheese mixture. The mixture is done when the meringue cannot be seen (well folded) 
  11. Pour the final mixture into a lined 18-cm round cake tin and bake at 170degC for 1 hr until cake is done, i.e. insert a toothpick and it should come out clean (I needed to bake mine for 1.5hrs) 
  12. Remove cake from the oven and cool in tin for 10 min. remove from tin and cool completely on a cool rack 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Dear bought me a digital scale!

No more parallax errors!

Almond biscotti - Dear's assigned task

Over the weekend, Dear challenged me to bake some biscuits, in particular, biscotti. I immediately thought of cranberry-almond but luckily he specified that he wanted a nutty one and only nutty ones. Since I had only almond nuts at home, I decided to go for conventional almond biscotti.

Biscotti are all easy to bake except for the STICKY dough. It was super sticky! I wonder if it should be that sticky. As a result, I could not roll it into the log shape that was needed and I wasted a fair bit of dough. But, according to Dear... it tasted good! He liked it! The only thing was that I could really slice them into thinner pieces... agreed!

Biscotti with coffee make an awesome tea-time snack... the Italian way.

Almond Biscotti

  • 145 g almond nuts 
  • 265 g plain flour/ all-purpose flour 
  • 150 g  granulated sugar 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/8 tsp salt 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp almond extract (I omitted) 
  1. Preheat oven to 180degC and roast almond nuts for about 5 mins. Let cool and chopped the nuts coarsely. 
  2. In a small bowl, beat lightly the eggs and extracts 
  3. Turn down temperature to 150degC. Line a tray with baking sheet. 
  4. Using an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat and mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well-blended (about 30 secs) 
  5. Gradually add the eggs-extracts mixture, and add the chopped nuts halfway, until a dough forms 
  6. On a floured surface, roll the dough into an approx. 14-in by 3-in log-shaped dough. 
  7. Transfer onto the baking try lined with baking sheet. Bake for about 30-40 mins until the surface of the dough feels firm to touch. 
  8. Remove half-baked dough from the oven and let cool for 10 mins 
  9. using a serrated knife, slice the dough into about 1/2 to 1 inch thin strips. Place them side facing up on the baking tray and return them to the oven to bake for 10 mins. 
  10. after 10 mins turn the other face side up and bake for another 10 min. 
  11. Let cool and store in air tight container.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Gone Nuts

Recently, work has been hectic. And so are my house renovation and wedding preparations. Weekends were burnt meeting with IDs.

Finally managed to find some time for baking this week!

In mood for cupcakes and nuts!

Honey-Nutty Cupcakes

  • 150 g unsalted butter 
  • 175 g self-raising flour 
  • 50 g caster sugar (I reduced to 40 g as I used honey in this recipe) 
  • 100 ml golden syrup (substituted with honey since I had no golden syrup) 
  • 3 medium eggs 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice (I used cinnamon) 
  • 50 g chopped nuts (I used almond) 

For the topping
  • 3 tsp double cream 
  • 1 tsp milk 
  • 50 g milk chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 50 g dark chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 75 g roasted chopped hazelnuts (I also used almonds) 

  1. Preheat oven to 190degC. Line 12 muffin tin with paper muffin cases 
  2. Put the butter, flour, sugar, syrup, eggs, baking powder, mixed spice and nuts in a large bowl. Whisk the mixture using a hand held electric whisk until pale and creamy. Divide the mixture equally among the paper cases 
  3. Bake for 20 mins or until risen and golden. Leave in tin to cool for 5 mins and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. 
  4. Heat the cream and milk in a small saucepan until near boiling. Put both chocolates into a bowl and pour the hot cream over them. Leave to stand for 5 mins and stir until smooth 
  5. Put the hazelnuts into a shallow bowl. Dip the top of the cake into the chocolate cream, allow excess to drip off then dip into the nuts until coated all over. Stand the cakes upright on the wire rack and leave for about 1 hour to set. 

Homestyle Butter Cake for Grandma

Grandma said she likes butter cakes because they smell great and are moist enough. My mum had been asking me for quite some time to bake a butter cake for Grandma. Why did it take me so long? Simply because I THOUGHT butter cake is too simple and not challenging. What can go wrong? But I was wrong.

In search of an old-styled butter cake recipe to impress Grandma, I became confused by the recipes for "butter cakes" and those for "pound cakes". My mini research found pound cakes containing less butter to flour ratio and butter cake recipes call for milk which pound cake recipes don’t. I also suspect that some people had used the terms butter cake and pound cake interchangeably.

Regardless, my gut feel was to use a recipe with more butter. It seems to me that our grandparents' generation really enjoys more butter than us - after all, bread toast with butter and sugar, butter roasted coffee beans, traditional butter cake with butter cream......

Happily, I baked a home-style butter cake for Grandma. I was so sure she would be full of praises for me....
Butter Cake

  • 250 g butter, softened 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 260 g caster sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 335 g self-raising flour 
  • 180 ml milk 

  1. Preheat oven to 180degC. Grease deep 22-cm round cake pan. (I used rectangular loaf tins instead, which is why there were cracks on the cake surface) 
  2. Beat butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in sifted flour and milk, in two batches. 
  3. Spread mixture into pan and bake for about 1 hour. Stand in cake pan for 5 min before turning, top side up onto a wire rack to cool. 
The outcome: 

Dear said: "moist and nice butter fragrance!"
Grandma: "not bad........"
My mum said it was not spongy enough...
Then, I knew it's gotta be pound cake that Grandma likes....

Friday, 5 August 2011

A 21st Birthday Cake

Nah... It is not my birthday cake. I wished I am still 21 years old!

By this time as I blog, I would have completed a REAL Birthday Cake for a fabulous girl who is throwing her 21st birthday party today! Whee~

When I was first asked to do a birthday cake for a party, I felt stressed and honoured at the same time. But, I think I was more stressed. LOL. I am still baking as a hobby. Baking for a big event was a big challenge. What’s more, it is her 21st birthday. I must say, her simple request really boosted my confidence.

Well, luckily, the birthday girl already knew what cake she wanted. She wanted the Devil's food cake with chocolate frosting I did for Dear on his birthday. This made my job a lot simpler. All I needed to do was to practice more and think of suitable cake decorations.

Devil's food cake frosted with Ganache by itself is already presentable. It has the "whatever goes" kind of feel... the frosting need not be perfectly smoothed out, as long as it is not too messy.

Yes, the devil's food cake is the same devil's food cake as my previous blog entry. This time, I made two recipes - two stacked layers with chocolate frosting between the layers.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe
  • 10oz ------------- bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Hershey's. a cheaper alternative is Van Houten but it is sweeter) 
  • 1/2 cup ---------- water or cream (I use water as cream would make the Ganache too rich) 
  • 170 grams ------- butter, softened
  1. Melt chocolate and water in a heat proof dish over simmering water. Stir occasionally until all chocolate is melted. 
  2. Stir in chopped butter until the chocolate-butter mixture is smooth. 
  3. Leave it to cool until spreadable. This could take 1-2 hours, according to recipe. (But given Singapore's warm climate, I had to chill it for half an hour even after cooling at room temperature) 
 Given my worse-than-amateur cake decorating skills and using "whatever goes" Ganache frosting as leverage, I decided not to take risk for today and kept the design simple. I needed to deliver my promise to the birthday girl.