Sunday, November 28, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Apples and cinnamon... what a perfect combination.  I am glad to have found this oh-so-simple recipe... it only requires dicing the apples and mixing the ingredients.  These muffins are light and moist, and there is a big chunk of apple that comes with every bite.   

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Portuguese Egg Tarts

OK, so I cheated... I used store bought frozen puff pastry.  I personally think there is just absolutely no reason to make my own puff pastry or phyllo pastry after my one failed attempt.  It was a total disaster, I had butter everywhere in the kitchen.  Store bought ones are good enough, I have said it.

I tend to prefer the custard in the centre somewhat wobbly, so I only baked them for 13 minutes.  I also reduced the sugar by 1/3 and still found them too sweet.  Having said that, I have to say they are quite delicious.  Perhaps next time I shall try making egg custard tarts (Hong Kong style). 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Citrus Madeleines

I have finally got my act together and cleaned up my disgusting oven. Now I can see what I am baking through the oven window...

I just bought a madeleine pan yesterday from the newly renovated "Toss & Serve" at FCP.   I have never had madeleines before so I don't know what the texture is like.  I did some research online and found that the texture is something between cookie and cake... I do like the shape of it.  The shop owner told me the madeleines always come out nicer if baked from a regular metal pan.  Make sure you brush the indentations of the madeleine pan carefully filling in all the ridges with melted butter, dust with flour and tap off any excess.  

This recipe yields 18 madeleines and if you bake them for 10 minutes, you will get the crisp, golden edges.  I like them without the crisp edges. 

The pictures are taken with my new Olympus E-Pen 1 camera without flash in my poorly lit kitchen.  They turned out to be quite good.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Some day I am going to make my own puff pastry but this time just let me use the frozen ready-rolled version.  Just follow the recipe.  This is super easy to make.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

It all went very well until...
I had about 3 tablespoons of melted butter left and didn't want to waste it so I decided to mix the butter with the eggwash.  I drenched the cinnamon rolls with this concoction and started baking.  After about 19 minutes, the rolls looked like they're going to burn so I quickly took them out of the oven.  The top was too "golden" (not burned) and the cinnamon rolls were already done.  OMG, they might not look divine but they sure tasted great, even without the icing (I decided not to do the icing because my husband doesn't like it). The rolls were fluffy and moist.  They would definitely become a staple at my house.

Ingredients: Dough
2 packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
1 cup warm whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
5.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground mace (I didn't have this ingredient)
2 tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp

Ingredients: Filling
6 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Method: Dough1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy.
2. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, 5 cups of flour, orange zest, and butter.
3. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic (around 6 min). The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
6. Form the dough into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for around 2 hours, until it has doubled in bulk.
7. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
8. Divide the dough in two.
9. Roll out half the dough into a 10 x 16 inch rectangle.
1. Butter the sides of two 9-inch cake pans (I lined the pan with parchment paper instead).
2. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.
3. Spread half the melted butter oven the rolled out dough, and then sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
4. Starting from the short side away from you, tightly roll the dough towards yourself.
5. Cut the dough into 2 inch rounds.
6. Repeat with the other half of the dough.  Arrange the cut dough in the prepared pans.  Cover the pans with towels and a
llow to rise at room temp for another 30-40 min. 
7. Preheat the oven to 400F.
8. Bake until a toothpick placed in the center of a bun comes out clean - around 25- 30 mins.
9. Serve immediately!

These can also be warmed up in the microwave for 15seconds the day after, and they still taste amazing.

Taken from Williams -Sonoma Essentials of Baking 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Martina's Birthday Cake

This is my own creation.  It is a layer chiffon cake, with fresh strawberries and whipped cream layer and whipped cream frosting.  I put lots of blueberries on top because berries always look good on cakes.  The wafer is an idea I took from coming cross this recipe:
However, I probably won't do that again because the wafer can become soggy.  

I'm starting a new job next week, so I won't be there for my old boss' birthday.  I decided to bake a cake for her and for my farewell (for the team to celebrate that I'm finally leaving, of course).  Everyone loved the cake, including the people from the other department on the floor!  I know I will miss this fantastic team and especially my boss.

Special thanks to my wonderful hubby who cut the wafers into equal length for me and for helping out in the kitchen.  This is a once-in-a-blue-moon event so I thought I should document it.  Haha...

Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

These cupcakes are super easy.  All you need is to mix all the wet and dry ingredients up (ensure the batter is mixed well with no lumps) and bake.  I reduced the sugar by 1/3, the taste is just right.  I quite like the cracked surface, making the texture more cake-like on top and chewy in the centre.  


This looks complicated but it's again a very easy-to-make yeast egg bread.  Obviously, I still need to brush up my braiding technique but I totally love the bread.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pineapple Buns 菠蘿包

Since we have relatives and friends visiting from Hong Kong these days, we have been going out a lot.  You probably can tell I have not been baking at all.  I saw Cherry's blog tonight that she'd baked some 菠蘿包, they look absolutely irresistible.  I know I have to bake tonight. I quickly found a recipe through Tastespotting and started baking at 9 pm sharp.  My hubby is a 菠蘿包 fanatic, I know this would not be as good as the ones he usually buys from Lucullus Bakery in Richmond Hill but I just thought that I should give it a try.  

I used 1 cup cake flour and 2 1/2 bread flour so the dough turned out much softer.  The pineapple topping is good, I wish it's sweeter.  Just on the appearance, the buns look like  the store bought ones, however, the taste is somehow lacking but at least they are not as greasy and it's a lot of fun making them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

G20 Olive Bread

Working from home these days during the G20 Summit. It's extremely difficult to work at home because you could get distracted so easily.  While I couldn't get much work done, this little baking project of mine turned out to be a huge success. The recipe is adapted from Williams-Sonoma's "Essentials of Baking":

3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup bread flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and dusting the loaf
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 cup olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy.  Add the oil, the flours, and the salt.  Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook, and knead on low speed.  Add a little flour as needed for the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl after a few minutes.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Remove the dough from the bowl.

2.  Sprinkle the olives over the top of the dough and knead them into the dough briefly and gently.  Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk.

3.  Punch down the dough and turn it out into a lightly floured work surface.  Knead it briefly and gently to disperse the olives evenly.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes before shaping.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Shape the dough into a tight round loaf.  Cover the loaf loosely with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size.

4.  Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 450F.  Lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour.  Put the pans into the oven and reduce the heat to 425F.  Bake the bread until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30-45 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool for at least 45 minutes.  

The  bread was so very moist and rich tasting.  It is a great accompaniment to some very thinly-sliced prosciutto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pâté de foie gras.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lo Yeh's (Father In-Law's) Birthday Cake

Rita and I have decided to "share responsibilities"... she baked a cake for Guu Paw's birthday and I would do the same for Lo Yeh.  I have been planning for this project for more than a week.  I wanted this cake to be moist, feather-light, pretty and of course, delicious.  So after doing 5-hour extensive labour of love, I could say I really did my best this time.  Tomorrow is the big day, I can't wait to taste the cake and I hope everyone enjoy it too.  

I must warn you... this is going to be quite lengthy...

1 vanilla bean 
6 eggs, separated
220 g cake flour, sifted
200 g and 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
100 ml vegetable oil or safflower oil
200 ml milk 
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 350F, with the rack in the center. Have a 10 inch tube pan (ungreased) ready.
2. In the bowl of the electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk the flour, sugar (200 g), baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg yolks, milk and oil. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, using the back of a knife, scrap the beans into the mixture. Beat about one minute or until smooth. Make sure there are no lumps of flour left unmixed.
3. Pour the batter into a large bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, with the mixer on whisk attachment beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  With a large rubber spatula,  stir in 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the batten. Fold in the remaining egg whites (half portion at a time) into the batter (being careful not to deflate the batter). 
4. Pour the batter into the ungreased tube pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven invert the pan and place on a bottle or flat surface so it is suspended over the counter.  Let the cake cool completely before removing from pan.
Once the chiffon cake is completely cooled off, slice it into 3 layers and put aside for assembly later.
1 cup of whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
10 medium-sized strawberries (thinly-sliced)
1. In the electric mixer, whisk the whipping cream and sugar until it reaches soft peak.  
2. On a clean surface, put 1st layer of the chiffon cake and spread a thin layer of fresh cream, then arrange the sliced strawberries evenly on the cake.  Put a thin layer of fresh cream on top of strawberries.  Repeat this procedure for the 2nd layer of cake and filling.  Place the last chiffon on top.  Put the cake in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

1. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch.
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several cubes at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) 
When the buttercream is done, it should be very smooth.  Take the cake out from the fridge and do your best to frost the cake.  If you made a mess like I did, just chop up some almonds and walnuts to hide the imperfection.  Decorate the cake top with fresh fruits (berries always make a cake look regal).  
I'm so beat.  If I had to spend 5 hours to make one cake, I don't think I will ever be qualified to open a cake shop...