Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rustic Plum Galette

Tart is really my favourite type of dessert, because it can be paired with any fruits that are in season.  Although it's mid-October and it's already getting chilly, I can still get various types of plums and peaches in Toronto.  If you don't like plums or peaches, you can use figs, berries, apples or any fruits you can think of!  This is so delicious, I don't mind having it for breakfast.  

Flaky Pie Pastry
(Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma, "Essentials of Baking"):
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water

- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Mix on low speed until blended.
- Add the butter and shortening, and then continue mixing on low speed just until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs.
- Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix on low speed just until the mixture begins to hold together.  
- Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape the dough into a 6-inch disk. 
- Wrap the disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.  

6 firm plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
sugar for sprinkling
1 tablespoon apple jelly or peach jam and a tablespoon water for glaze

Preheat over to 350F.  On a lightly-floured surface, roll out dough to 12 x 16 inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer dough to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Arrange plums on top.  Fold and pleat edge of dough over plums.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake until crust is golden, about 60 minutes.  Glaze and allow to cool before slicing.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

French Apple Tart

I baked this French Apple Tart for the Thanksgiving dinner.  This simple and elegant tart is really easy to make.  I could have cheated by using store-bought apple sauce as filling, but I decided to try the home-made version because I like having chunks of apple in the apple sauce.  The store-bought ones are usually too runny.  Anyway, this is a great and healthy dessert.  Please note that I only used 1 tablespoon of sugar for the filling and it's already quite sweet.  The tart is usually served at room temperature but I think it's best to serve warm.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Black Sesame Macarons

I was casually chatting with F yesterday and this time I really listened and learned that he genuinely likes macarons.  I remember that he did tell me before, but I didn't think too much of it because I am not too crazy about making and consuming this dessert.  It's just too difficult to make them and they are way too sweet for my taste.  F went on to ask me all these technical questions about the process of making macarons and all... like I could answer any of them.  He seemed really interested.  I felt guilty and decided to try to make some.  

Must have been my lucky day, these macarons turned out ok.  I have tried several recipes, with aged and non-aged egg whites, leave the oven door ajar or not... it does not matter.  To me, it's simply pure luck.  After all, baking, to me, is  for fun.  Let's not get too serious about it.  

As for the filling, I have a jar of blood orange spread I hardly ever used.  It's quite interesting to put black sesame and blood orange together. I found the taste very mild and refreshing. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brioche Rolls

I love bread.  I love the aroma of freshly baked bread in the kitchen.  There is nothing more satisfying than baking your own bread for the family.  Today, I did just that.  

I cannot be certain if brioche is considered bread or pastry.  I would say it's pastry because of the high egg and butter content.  I like its light and fluffy texture and the slightly flaky crust.  

Since I don't have any individual brioche molds, I simply divided the dough in 12 equal portions in a muffin pan.  It worked just as good.  

Recipe adapted from Essentials of Baking, William-Sonoma:


2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy.
- Beat in 4 eggs and the sugar with a wire whisk.
- Add the flour and salt.
- Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook, and knead on low speed until smooth and elastic.
- The dough will be thick and sticky.  Periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the dough hook with a plastic pastry scraper.
- Add the butter and continue kneading until it is completely incorporated.
- Scrape the dough into a clean, buttered bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours or for up to overnight.
- Divide the dough into 12 portions and place the dough in a muffin pan.  Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm, draft-free spot until they almost fill the pans, 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Lightly brush the breads with the beaten egg.
- Bake until golden brown, for approximately 15 minutes.  
- Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and serve.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Snow-Skin Mooncakes with Custard Filling

These are the same mooncakes from yesterday but I used a different mold.  Still pretty!  

Flaky Mooncakes with Custard Filling (酥皮奶黃)

More mooncakes!

Pardon me for not posting the recipe here because I am not entirely happy with it.  The crust is supposed to be flaky, mine turned out to be somewhat like cookie, a tough one too.  It's possible that I worked the dough too much but then when I mixed the ingredients, the texture just didn't look or feel right.  Luckily, after a day, the crust softens and it tastes much better than they were just out of the oven yesterday.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Snow-skin" Mooncakes with Custard Filling

I'm still here!

Some of my friends wondered why I have not been baking.  I have, just not as much as I used to.  It's mainly because, well, I have been lazy since I came back from Hawaii.  The trip was great and everything... but I saw a very fat Jennifer in every pics taken there.  It's time that I really lose some weight and I decided to stop baking for the time being.

And of course, I cheated... because this recipe does not require baking.  

Mid-Autumn Festival is fast approaching but I have never been crazy about mooncakes.  Traditional mooncakes usually have lotus seed paste as filling, which I found too sweet and oily.  In recent years, people have come up with interesting ways to make mooncakes.  "Snow-skin" mooncakes (冰皮月餅) have quickly become one of the most popular among the younger generation.  There are many variation when it comes to the filling of the snow-skin mooncakes.  I picked custard because it is simply my all-time favourite.  

Here are some research I have done and it proves most helpful in the process of making these adorable mooncakes (unfortunately they are all in Chinese):

I am very happy with the result.  The mooncakes are not too sweet (quite low in fat and sugar) and I love the chewiness of the snow-skin.  They look so pretty!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

I brought mom to St. Lawrence Market the other day. It's funny that I live so close by but hardly ever go there.  

We saw these jumbo fresh raspberries, they're not cheap but man, they looked absolutely beautiful.  I bought two cartons of these raspberries, washed them and was pleasantly surprised that none of them were bruised.  They just look gorgeous.  My mom is not too crazy about them but I just love raspberry with dark chocolate.  

Then I found this recipe through Tastespotting:

Yesterday was my father in-law's birthday.  I know he likes dark chocolate, so I decided to try this recipe out.  It's pretty easy to make, except that I had to be careful not to work the dough too much or the tart crust would get hard.  I used Lindt's dark chocolate to make the chocolate ganache, the sweetness was perfect.  Finally, I topped the tart with the raspberries I bought from St. Lawrence Market.  The subtle tartness of the raspberries mixed with the rich dark chocolate ganache and the chocolate shortbread crust was a perfect combination.  It's a total grown-up taste.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chestnut Cake

This is the first time in 22 years I get to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom and grandma.    My mom loves chestnut cakes.  I remember when I was a kid, I could never understand why she loved these cakes so much.  The chestnut on top of the cake is usually dry and crumbly.... the appearance is not that appealing to me.  For someone who has never eaten a piece of the chestnut cake which mom loves, it is quite a challenge to create this cake through reverse-engineering.  

I made it simple.  I used my favourite 5-4-3 sponge cake recipe from Double Cream Single Sugar:

5-4-3 Sponge Cake
5 eggs
4 oz. sugar
3 oz. plain flour, sifted
1.5 oz. melted butter, cooled
  1. Separate the eggs into whites and yolks. Turn on the oven to 325 F. Line the bottom of baking sheet/springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and keep whisking until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the yolks into the mixture while mixing at low speed.
  3. Lightly fold in sifted flour. (Or alternatively, if you are using a standmixer, switch the machine to stir while adding in sifted flour. Stir until just incorporated.
  4. Fold in melted butter. Immediately pour in baking pan/sheet and bake 40 to 60 mins, depending on size.
As for the most crucial ingredient - chestnut, I bought this Hero canned chestnut puree from Michaelangelo.  I have used other brands but I found Hero's has the best quality and taste... although this can is not cheap.  Now I understand why chestnut cake is always more expensive than other cakes.  

For the filling, I simply mixed in the chestnut puree with whipping cream.  No need to add sugar because the puree is already sweetened.  I made the filling like whipped cream with chestnut flavour, because I didn't want the filling between the cake layers overpowered the chestnut puree on top of the cake.  

JollyMommy has the perfect recipe for the chestnut puree:


430g Heron chestnut puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract


1.  Whisk egg yolk, vanilla, and cream in saucepan over heat until thickened.
2.  Add to chestnut puree in large mixing bowl.
3.  Mix at high speed until smooth.
4.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside until cool and ready to use.

Verdict:  It's a complete sold-out.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lychee and Coconut Cream Cake

This is my own little creation specially made for Rita's birthday yesterday.  It's not entirely correct to call it my own creation because I did steal the sponge cake recipe from Double Cream Single Sugar.  Get the recipe for the sponge cake from here:

I used a 7-inch cake pan and there's enough cake to cut into 3 layers.  This sponge cake recipe is the best, ever.  The cake is moist and light, yet, substantial just enough to hold the cake filling.

To make the coconut cream:

Heavy cream - 250 ml
Whip Cream Topping - 250 ml
Sugar - 2 tablespoons
Pure Coconut Essence - 2 teaspoons

I used canned lychee and cut them into pieces and mix with the coconut cream for the filling.  Decorate the cake with whole canned lychee and sprinkle with unsweetened coconut.  As you can see from the pics, the lychees appear to be a bit pinkish... not sure why but they are canned so I am not responsible for it.  Using fresh lychees will make the cake even prettier but unfortunately l could not find fresh lychees in supermarkets yet. The cake is a huge success and didn't take much time to make.  I'm starting to be a bit proud of myself!  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Strawberry Tart

Hubby has been away on business, I'm celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary by myself.  Watched a bit of the royal wedding online.  Will & Kate, they make such a cute couple.  I love Kate's wedding dress.  I decided not to have the white wedding dress when I got married. Now, I, sometimes, sort of regretted it.  I didn't believe in spending $20K on a wedding dress to wear just for one day, and I simply did not even consider renting one for the occasion.  I chose to buy the most exquisite French chantilly lace for a tailor-made qi-pao.  It was a beautiful dress, and I was hoping there would be other occasions I could wear the dress again.  Dress is still here, but the person who wore it has gained over 10 lbs since then.  I am still hopeful that some day I will be able to wear the dress again.  Maybe on my 10th wedding anniversary...

Brought the strawberry tart to visit my granny who suffered multiple injuries from falling down the stairs 2 days ago.  She has been such a trooper, kudos to her.  It is going to take some time for her to fully recover from the fall but I know she will get through this.  

Dear grandma, I love you!!  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tang Zhong Toast v. 2

I recently got blasted by my sister in-law because last time I posted my Tang Zhong Toast post and forgot to quote her recipe:  

It was really innocent.  She had emailed me the recipe and I simply "cut & pasted" it on my blog.  What's even more interesting is that she never uttered a word... I only learned of my terrible oversight recently when she not-so-casually brought it up.  So here it is, I would like to offer my sincere apologies to Rita.  

As much as I think her recipe is wonderful,  I have been looking for other Tang Zhong Toast recipes, just to see how different the bread will turn out.  Last night I tried this:

I doubled the ingredients in order to make 2 loaves.  The bread turned out to be very soft, moist, and fluffy.  24 hours later the bread is still as soft, moist, and fluffy.  I can't get enough of these Tang Zhong Toast!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Making croissants is time consuming but it is well worth the efforts.  It is also much more economical.  I pay almost $2.00 for one croissant at the First Canadian Place when I need a snack in the afternoon.  Well, not anymore!  My home-made version is just 100x better than the store bought ones.  These croissants are flaky on the outside, light and airy in the  centre.  Best served when they're right out of the oven with a cup of coffee or cappuccino  ... it's simply heaven.  

The recipe is adapted from William Sonoma, "Essentials of Baking".  I will update this blog with the recipe (as it requires a lot of typing...) shortly.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

This recipe is adapted from Williams-Sonoma, "Essentials of Baking".  I never thought that baking biscotti is so simple.  This recipe yields 24 crisp cookies and they are such perfect gifts to friends.  


2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup roasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
3.  In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light in colour and thick.
4.  Beat in the melted butter, orange zest, and vanilla and almond extracts on low speed until blended.
5.  Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.  
6.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the almonds and cranberries.  The dough will be soft and sticky.
7.  Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and form into logs of 10 inches long, spacing them 3 inches apart.  Press the logs gently to make them about 3 inches wide.  
8.  Bake the logs until they are crisp and golden, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.  Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 mins.
9.  Transfer the logs to a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut each log crosswise on the diagonal into slices 3/4 inch thick.  
10. Arrange the slices, cut side down and at least 1/2 inch apart, on the baking sheet.
11. Return to oven and bake until the cookies are crisp and brown on the outside, 17-22 mins.
12. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 mins, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.
13. The interior of the cookies become crisp as they cool.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1. In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 cup of warm milk with the yeast and let stand until foamy.
2. Stir in honey and egg.  Add in the flour, salt and butter.
3. Place the bowl on mixer, attach the dough hook, and knead on low speed.  
4. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Remove the dough from the bowl.
5. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk.
6. Punch down the dough and put in the prepared loaf pan. Press to flatten it evenly into the pan.
7. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let the loaf rise in a warm, draft-free spot until they double in size.
8. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375F. 
9. Bake until the loaf is honey brown and sound hollow when tapped on the top, 35-40 minutes. 10. Be careful not to overbake this bread or it will be dry.  Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and let cool completely on wire rack before slicing.