Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vanilla Swiss Roll

Vanilla Swiss Roll
Recipe taken from "Elegant Swiss Roll" by Kevin Chai.

4 eggs
70g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
80g plain flour (sifted)
50g butter (melted)

1) Preheat oven to 200 °C. Grease and line a swiss roll pan (8x12 inch).
2) Using a mixer, whisk eggs and sugar untill light and fluffy. Fold in sifted flour.
3) In a separate bowl, take small portion of the batter and mix with the melted butter. Then pour back into the main batter and combine well.
4) Spread mixture into tin and bake 8-10 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool.
5) Turn cake out onto a clean sheet of baking paper. Spread with your choice of filling. (I filled mine with buttercream and jam). Roll up. Done.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Steamed Chicken Wings with Cincaluk

I was looking for ways to finish off my bottle of left-over cincaluk and saw a recipe for Steamed Chicken with Salted Fish in a cookbook  and thought of substituting the salted fish with cincaluk. Turned out quite good.

about 600g Chicken Wings
thumb size Ginger, slivered
1 Tbs Oyster Sauce
1Tbs Cincaluk
1 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tsp sugar
few drops sesame oil
1 Tsp cornflour

Mix all ingredients together and allow to marinate for 1/2 hour. Steam on high heat for 15 - 20 minutes till cook through. Done.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Old-Fashioned Butter Cake

Traditional butter cake made into small bite size cupcakes. Recipe is taken from the blog "A Daily Obsession". As usual, I succumbed to the beautiful pictures that tempted me to try out the recipe.

Tender, fluffy and sponge cake like, these bite size buttery cupcakes were gone in mere two days in my small family of 3. No prizes for guessing who whacked most of it. My Daughter said to me, "Can you make some more? They're really good .... and addictive!".

Adapted from A Daily Obsession here. I've scaled down the recipe enough for my family's consumption.

120 g chilled butter
90 g chilled caster sugar
3 large eggs, separated
110 g self raising flour, sifted
20 ml milk
a pinch f cream of tartar


1) Line muffin pan with paper cups. Preheat oven at 170 C.

2) Beat butter and 60g sugar by machine until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides a few times. Check to see if sugar has dissolved before going to next step.

3) Add the yolks one by one, beating well after each addition and then add the milk.

4) In another bowl, whisk egg whites with remaining g sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks.

5) Fold in the egg whites and flour into the butter mixture, alternately, in 2 or 3 batches.

6) Pour batter into prepared prepared muffin pan and bake until wooden skewer plunged into middle of cake comes out clean. Please note the cooking time and the number of cupcakes this batter yields, varies depending on the size of your cupcakes. Keep your eyes glued to the oven!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Almost Perfect Sponge Cake

I have been baking since I started this hobby some 8 years ago and can be considered an intermediate level home baker but even till now, I still have a  fear for making sponge cakes. This is what would usually happen, the cakes would look beautifully puffed and tall in the oven but once cooled they'd collapse or shrink forming deep crater.... shrinking my confidence at the same time. Even when some do come out successfully  tall and beautiful, the texture inside would be either coarse or dry. Due to these  factors,  I am quite disheartened of ever making the perfect sponge cake, the holy grail of all sponge cakes, one that is made without the artificial aid of stabilisers and chemicals, has a texture which is fine, soft, tender, light, fluffy, airy and spongy, hold its shape well and most importantly moist.

Recently while scouting for a new sponge cake recipe from the net, I found an interesting video on sponge cake making through a link from this blog "Happy Flour".  At first I thought it would just be another run-of-the-mill cake demo, and boy was I in for a surprise. In the video, after having beaten the eggs with sugar till thick and fluffy and doubled in volume, the lady instructor dumped the whole batch of flour onto the whipped eggs and  she proceeded with mixing using the hand held beaters. Yup, HAND HELD BEATERS! It defied the age old mantra where light handedness is of utmost importance when it comes to folding in flour in order not to break up the air bubbles. I was shock to see such man-handling. Then the shock turned into intrigue and I just had to try out this recipe no matter what.

I did exactly the same as the lady instructor in the video and man-handled the batter. And here's my result. It's the most successful and best looking sponge cake I've ever made on first  try and it didn't collapse or shrink at all! The sponge cake was very airy, spongy and springy. I am very satisfied with the outcome  except for one teeny tiny thing... it was just a teeny tiny tad dry, which also made it just a teeny tiny tad shy from being THE perfect sponge.

However much I wish, alas this sponge cake is still not the elusive perfect sponge I'm looking for as I like my cake moist and this sponge is lacking it. Nevertheless,  this problem can be somewhat remedied by layering the sponge with cream or by sprinkling with some syrup. But still, not perfect.

I split the sponge cake into two layers  and sandwiched them with buttercream icing (recipe also taken from Happy Flour here).

Vanilla Sponge Cake
Recipe adapted from Happy Flour here. The recipe has been scaled down from the original from the video.

3 eggs
125g caster sugar
1/4tsp salt
100g cake flour
22g vegetable oil
22g milk
1/4tsp vanilla essence (original recipe from video uses vanilla powder which is to be sifted together with the flour)

1. Preheat oven to 180 Degree Centigrade.
2. Sift the flour and vanilla powder together and set aside. (I didn't have vanilla powder)
3. Use a  mixer to whisk the eggs, salt and sugar until very thick and fluffy.(Very important!)
4. Take the sifted flour and dump the whole lot onto the whisked eggs. Mix well quickly using the mixer. (Dare u to do this, if not, fold  in the flour in batches. LOL!)
5. In another bowl, mix milk and oil together (I added the vanilla essence at this point).  Then, scoop some batter from the egg mixture and combine together. Pour back into the egg batter, mix well using a spatula.
6. Pour the well combined batter into the cake tin (I used a 7 inch round tin and there's no need to grease or line with paper) and bake in preheated oven for 25-30mins.
7. Remove cake tin from oven and invert the tin (with the cake still intact) on a wire rack and let cool. Once cooled, remove cake from tin.

The ALMOST perfect sponge cake.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chinese Soup - Watercress & Pork Ribs Soup

Watercress which looks like a weed is aslo regarded as one in some regions, and to other regions a vegetable or herb. Watercress  has a high content of iron, folic acic, Vitamin A and C . It is also a source of  phytochemicals and antioxdants and is used as a diuretic, an expectorant, disgestive aid and even a stimulant.

Due to its high content in iodine, it is very beneficially for hypothyroidism sufferers. It also appears to have anti cancer properties and  is  believed to help defend against lung cancer.

If you are on medication it is advised  that you refrain from consuming watercress or consult your doctor first, as it  is known to have an effect in altering drug metabolism for individuals on certain medications.

This watercress soup is popular in many Chinese  households and can be found accompanying rice dishes in kopitiams (coffeeshops).  The watercress stems can be quite tough, and some would prefer the watercress to be boiled until soft and mushy but I like it just right, not too soft nor too green. It really depends on your own preference.

about 1 kg Pork Ribs
8-10 Red dates
1 Honey date
a bunch Watercress
about 3 litres of water

How to cook:
Put everything except watercress in a pot. Boil gently for 1 1/2 hours, adding in the watercress during the last 30 minutes cooking time. Season with salt to taste.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sweet Black Vinegar Pork Ribs

Usually pork leg or pork belly is used for this gingery and vinegary sweet dish. As no one in my family eats the fatty layers and the gelatinous skin, I used pork ribs instead.  

I remember the first time I had this dish was when I was a college student  in KL. Staying in KL  and away from my family introduced many new dishes to me including this dish. Growing up, my mom never ever cooked this even till this day, and we rarely eat out then and even if we did, we never ordered this. During my college days, I  would always go for economy rice as it's the cheapest food available accomodating to a student's budget. This dish would always be among the many choices in the spread and I would usually pick this to go with my white rice.      

Here's my own take on this dish. The vinegar I use is very sweet already on its own and there's no need to add any sugar. A little white vinegar may be added if a more sourish taste is preferred.

Sweet Black Vinegar Pork Ribs
1 kg Pork Ribs
whole Ginger
1 cup Sweet Black Vinegar
1 tbs Kicap Manis
2 tbs Light Soy Sauce
1 cup water

Heat cooking oil. Saute ginger till fragrant. Add pork and stir fry till lightly browned. Add Soya sauce. Coat pork and stir fry till fragrant. Add kicap manis. Pour in 1 cup water and the sweet black vinegar. Mix well and bring to boil. Cover with lid, lower heat and braise for 15-20 minutes  or till pork is tender. Done!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Green Tea Butter Cake

Maybe it's the time of the year, towards the year end when the wheather is wet and cold, I am in the mood to bake and eat and eat and EAT! I guess humans are no different like animals. It's only natural for animals to load up on food  in preparation for hibernation in the colder months.

I've flipped thru my recipe file and my collection of cookbooks for something to bake, and found this Green Tea Butter Cake from the cookbook "My favourite Dainty Desserts" by Kevin Chai . I've baked green tea chiffon cake before which was light and very well received by everyone who tried it and I thought a  green tea butter cake would be just as good, just more dense & buttery.

As you can see from the photos, the colour from the green tea turned out very muted and wasn't as bright as I  had expected, and definitely not as green as the one shown in the cookbook or those I've seen in blogs.    As much as I had hoped, this butter cake didn't wow me. It was just okay, nothing bad and nothing spectacular... just ho-hum. I kept the cake in a container and shoved it in the fridge and thought nothing of it. When I reheated a couple slices the next day, I was dumbfounded. It tasted better and it actually tasted good. How peculiar! My Daughter even finished a slice, a feat for someone who proclaimed "yuck" when she had her first bite just the day before. LOL!

Green Tea Butter Cake
(Recipe taken from "My favourite Dainty Desserts" by Kevin Chai)

270g butter
250g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
240g plain flour
10g green tea powder
1tsp baking powder

1) Preheat oven to 180 Degree Centigrade. Line one 8 inch square pan with greaseproof  paper.
2) Beat butter, sugar and salt untill light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.
3) Sift flour , green tea powder and baking powder together and gently fold into the butter mixture. Spread batter into the cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Note: I halved the recipe and added 2 tablespoons of milk. I've also separated the eggs. The egg whites were beaten to a soft peak stage and  then folded into the batter at the very end.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Japanese Cream Bread

Just bought a new cookbook, "Magic Bread" by Alex Goh. I just can't resist collecting new cookbooks especially if it has anything to do with baking and in particular bread making. I love bread, u know.  Needed to justify the unnecessary money spent by trying out the recipes and I chose this one, Japanese Cream Bread.


The dough is very tender and very pleasant to handle. I guess the whipping cream provided enough fat/grease for it to be not too sticky. I didn't even need to flour my work surface while shaping the dough. However, the the dough took longer to rise than what the recipe called for. Instead of 40 minutes, I waited 2 hours for it to double in volume in the first rise and another 1 1/2 hours instead of 50 minutes for the second rise. Maybe I didn't put in the right amount of yeast as my digital scale konked-out and I had to use my manual kitchen scale. This old manual kitchen scale has a  gradient of 10g unlike my digital one which can measure more accurately 1g at a time. And so, to measure 6g of instant yeast needed was really a guessing game for me.

Despite the longer proofing time needed than called for, all is forgiven when I pulled the bread apart. The springy network of gluten  and open crumb surprised me and I knew for sure the bread was going to be soft.

I can't help poking and pressing & pulling on the crumb and feeling pleased with myself. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly  tried a slice and it was indeed  very soft and has a light spring to it when chewed on. I was over the moon!

This "Japanese Cream Bread"  hands down is the softest bread I've ever made  and it trumps over the "Soft Yoghurt Bun"  I made and blogged about earlier. It also stayed soft till the next day unlike the "Soft Yoghurt Buns" which turned a little gummy.

Japanese Cream Bread
(taken from "Magic Bread" by Alex Goh)


A) 120g  bread flour
     85 g boiling water

B) 380g bread flour
     75g sugar
     8g instant yeast

C) 120g cold milk
     100g whipping cream
     1 cold egg

D) 40g Butter


1) Mix ingredients A together to form a rough dough. Cover and let cool, then keep in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
2) Mix together ingredients B, then add all of ingredients C and combine well. Add in the refrigerated dough from A, knead together till well combined. Then, add the Butter from D, knead until elastic.
3) Let the well kneaded dough proof for 40 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and mould round and let rest for 10 minutes.
4) Flatten each dough pieces and roll into oblong shape place 3 pieces into a greased 17x9x6.5 cm loaf tin. Make 4 loafs.
5) Let proof for 50 minutes. Bake at 180 degrees Centigrade for 20-25 minutes.

Note: I used bigger loaf tins and made two bigger loaves of bread by dividing the dough into six pieces, and placed 3 pieces into each tin.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chinese Soup - Snow Fungus & Red Dates Chicken Soup

Snow fungus or silver ear fungus or literally called "white wood ear" in Chinese or in it's scientific name  Tremella Fuciformis is a species of fungus which is light yellowish white in colour, almost translucent and gelatinous & wobbly looking.  It is widely used in Chinese cooking and medicine. In medicine it is used to enhance body liquids, to cure dry coughs, heart palpitations and also for the nervous system. It is also used to help improve skin tone. Studies have found that it also demonstrates anti-tumor activity, lowers levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol), protects the liver, and fights inflammation.

Here's my take on a tasty nutritious soup  incorporating snow fungus for its many health benefits.

Dried Snow Fungus

6 Cups or 1 1/2 litre Chicken Broth
8-10 Red Dates
White Fungus
Dried Conch Flesh
Salt to taste

How to cook:
Dried Conch

1) Soak dried fungus & dried conch till soften.
2) Put all ingredients into a pot and boil gently for 1 hour.
Add salt to taste. Done.

Steamed Chicken Wings with Coriander & Ginger

A new chicken dish I've tried recently. Very fragrant with the combination of coriander, chilli and ginger.

about 500g Chicken Wings
50g Ginger, minced finely
1 Chillies, diced finely, (more if u prefer more heat)
1 bunch coriander, chopped

1 Tbs Oyster Sauce
1Tbs Soy Sauce
few drops sesame oil
1 tsp cornflour

1) Mix chicken wings with marinade and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
2) Combine the marinaded chicken wings with minced ginger, diced chillies & chopped coriander. Place on heatproof plate and steam for 20-25 minutes over high heat until cooked. Season with salt to taste. Done.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nigella's Molten Chocolate Babycake

Another winner from Nigella. You'd be surprised how this rich luscious ooey-gooey delectable dessert is actually quite low in fat .... well sort of. Compared to other recipes for molten chocolate cakes, the amount of butter required in this recipe is considerably less but it didn't compromise on richness and chocolatiness! And this recipe is very easy to prepare and the batter can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to be baked. This scores big thumbs up from me!


Molten Chocolate Babycake
(adapted from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess" cookbook)

50g  soft unsalted Butter (I've used Salted Butter instead)
350g Dark Chocolate (I've used bittersweet chocolate)
150g Caster Sugar ( I've reduced the amount to 70g)
4 Large Eggs, beaten with a pinch of Salt (I've omitted the salt)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
50g Plain Flour

1) Preheat oven to 200 ÂșC.
2) Melt the chocolate and let cool slightly.
3) Cream together butter and sugar and gradually beat in eggs, then the vanilla. Add in the flour and combine smoothly. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend till smooth batter.
4) Pour batter evenly between 6 greased and lined pudding cups. (I used muffin paper cups). Bake 10-12 mins. Please keep a close eye on  the cakes and do not overbake!  I usually take them out when the tops look dry and still jiggle when lightly shaken.
5) Turn out on serving plates immediately.
Serve these babies with whipped cream or ice cream.

Ooey-gooey silky smooth molten chocolaty centre ... DIVINE!

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