Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My First Fondant Cake 翻糖初体验

Made in June 2011, my first and only fondant cake till now.

It has been buried under the backlog for 8 months and I almost forget about it if not of this month’s Aspiring Baker’s theme.

I am ashamed to post this as I think the fondant roses are rather fat and saggy but to support AB event, I change my mind. :P

I made the fondant toppers without any planning and self-study because I supposed to be guided, I meant suppose.

I actually made this cake in a baking workshop. Prior to the confirmation, I was told by the instructor that students could decide the theme of the cake and we could just let her know what we wanted to learn during the workshop. I told her I wanted to make flowers. She said no problem and even advised me to print out some pictures and bring to the workshop.

However, on that day when I showed her the fondant rose picture I was told that this was 3D design and in this workshop only 1D was taught (kidding me? 1D that means simply use the cutter to cut out the fondant). There was a lady in the workshop wanted to make a bow, her request was also being turned down by the instructor. Same reason, bow is considered 3D. I don’t think anyone will pay almost close to SGD200 to learn 1D design. Will you?

I was shocked and a bit upset that what had been conversed could be twisted. At that moment I was quite unhappy. I decided to proceed with my original plan – to make roses. I reckconed this was my way of showing my unhappiness to the instructor. As I need to complete the cake within the time frame I didn’t have time to search for tutorial from the Internet, so I just used my own imagination to come out with the three fat roses and a bee. The lady who wanted to make bow also made her own bow without any guide from the instructor. I am quite sure she shared the same sentiment as me.

This is a 7" butter cake. In the workshop we didn't do the proper crumb coat by applying a layer of buttercream, instead, we used apricot gel, it worked as well.

No doubt I didn’t learn a lot from the workshop but I couldn’t deny that it had given me a platform to get my hands on fondant because I don’t think I would be self-motivated to play with fondant on my own.

I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #16: Fun with Fondant! (February 2012) hosted by Yvonne of iceamericanos.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Braised Taiwan Xinzhung Rice Vermicelli with YIFON Bottled Mushrooms (Using Happycall Pan) 一丰牌玻璃瓶装三味菇焖台湾新竹米粉

I love mushrooms, any kinds of mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms have short shelf life and I don’t go marketing very often, so I end up having dried mushrooms and canned mushrooms in my cooking most of the time. Dried mushrooms require some times to soften before using, canned mushrooms are basically quite plain in taste and the choice are quite limited.

I didn’t know I have other choices until Jacqualine from Yit Hong Pte Ltd introduced YIFON bottled mushrooms to me. I believe most of you do not know or hear about Yit Hong Pte Ltd before but how about Narcissus Canned Mushrooms or MaLing Luncheon Meat? 

Six different types and flavors of bottled mushrooms. At the back, table calendar featured celebrity chef, Chef Eric Teo, ambassador of Yit Hong Pte Ltd . (Samples provided by Yit Hong Pte Ltd)

Yit Hong Pte Ltd  has been the sole distributor for popular canned food products from Narcissus and Ma Ling in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei since 1954. In continuing their deep belief in quality and authenticity of food products, Yit Hong have also developed their in-house brand, YIFON. These bottled mushrooms are the latest products from YIFON.

YIFON bottled Three Assorted Mushrooms which include button mushroom slices (蘑菇片), poku mushrooms slices (香菇片) and golden needle mushrooms aka Enokitake (金针菇)

YIFON Bottled Mushrooms are different from the usual canned mushrooms as they can be eaten straight from the bottle. They are packed from freshly picked mushrooms, with no preservatives nor artificial colourings added, so they are not only healthy, but also suitable for vegetarians and Halal users.

I cooked this Braised Taiwan Xinzhung Rice Vermicelli for a late lunch using YIFON bottled Three Assorted Mushrooms as part of the ingredients during CNY. I find it very convenient to use the bottled mushrooms for cooking. Imagine if I were to prepare three types of mushrooms how long would it take? By the way, I tasted the mushrooms before cooking, it has little savory taste and the texture was silky.

The meal was cooked in Happycall pan. You may use normal pan or wok, just need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Braised Taiwan Xinzhung Rice Vermicelli with YIFON Assorted Bottled Mushrooms (Using Happycall Pan)

Ingredients: (for serving of 2)
2 dried mounds Taiwan Xinzhung rice vermicelli (presoak in water for about 15-20 mins, drained)
1 bottle YIFON Assorted Bottled Mushrooms (drained)
8 medium/large prawns
¼ cabbage (cut into thin stripes)
1 tomato (cut into 8 wedges)
3 – 4 black fungus (presoak and cut into stripes)
2 –3 cloves garlic (chopped)

Braising sauce (mix together)
1 ½ cup broth*
1 tbsp oyster sauce**
1 tbsp abalone sauce**
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Hua Tiao wine
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp white pepper

* I used stock from canned abalone. You may use chicken stock or mix hot water with ½ tsp chicken granules.
** Can be used interchangeable.

1) Heat 1 tsp oil in Happycall pan, add chopped garlic, cover and lock with magnet, toss the pan till garlic becomes fragrant. Add cabbage, cover and lock with magnet, cook over medium heat till cabbage starts to soften (flip the pan as and when).
2) Add about 1 cup of broth, cover and lock with magnet, bring broth to a boil. Add rice vermicelli, cover and lock with magnet, cook over medium low heat for about 2 – 3 mins.
3) Open lid and check, gradually add in the remaining broth when the broth in the pan has dried up and continue to cook till the rice vermicelli is 90% done.
4) Arrange prawns, tomato and YIFON Assorted Mushrooms on top. Add in extra Hui Tiao wine if you like. Cover and locked with magnet to cook for another 3 mins max (not to over cook the prawns).

1) If fresh or dried mushrooms are used, you need to add in step 1.
2) This is not a sponsored post. The above review is merely sharing of my personal experience with the product.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

[Stir and Bake] Apple Blueberry Cake (Using Happycall Pan) 苹果蓝莓蛋糕

I love stir and bake cake, simply because of the fast preparation time and minimum washing is required.

I was inspired by Ellena when she first shared her pineapple upside down cake baked in Happycall pan. The recipe she used was a simple stir and bake recipe yet the result as claimed by Ellena and as seen from the picture was fabulous. I have some green apples sitting in my fridge for the longest time, so I decided to bake an apple cake using Ellena’s recipe with some modifications. I also added blueberries since I had some in my freezer.

In fact, this is not my first Happycall pan (HCP) cake. Prior to this, I had baked 3 cakes in HCP, including my favourite ultra soft & easy banana rum cake. Just to share, if you want to bake this banana cake in HCP, you need to double the recipe amount.

From my few attempts I find that cake baked in HCP is generally moister, the texture is close to steam-baked cake. HCP-baked cake will have thinner and softer crust as compared to oven-baked one. This makes me feel that cake baked in HCP is less “heaty”.

The trick to bake in HCP is to use very low heat. I normally use slightly higher heat at the beginning (say for the first 1 –2 mins) then switch to very low heat after that. Do not be tempted to open the cover or flip the pan too early.

This is what I mean by “very low heat”, you should only see blue flame.

This apple blueberry cake is very soft and moist. The texture remains the same on the next day with more intense flavour. I like it light yet flavourful with the fragrance from butter and all the natural ingredients used. I consider this as a healthy cake that I will bake for my son. To make it healthier, partial wholemeal flour can be used to replace normal flour.

Apple Blueberry Cake (Using Happycall Pan)
(Recipe adapted from Cuisine Paradise with modifications)

4 large eggs
45g brown sugar
45g white sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
60g melted butter (I used salted butter)*
60g vegetable oil (corn oil, canola oil, olive oil etc)*
180g self-raising flour
¼ heaped tsp cinnamon powder**
2 medium size green apple (cut into small cubes)***
40-60g fresh or frozen blueberries****

*Both can be used interchangeable, i,e you can also use 120g of butter or 120g of vegetable oil or any combination added up to be 120g.
**With this amount you can only taste hint of cinnamon in the cake, if you prefer more prominent cinnamon taste, use at least ½ tsp or more.
***I cut the apples into small cubes for easy cutting purpose, so that the apple cubes won’t drop out easily when serving. Cut into bigger chunks if you prefer to have some crunchy bites.
**** If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw. Take out the frozen blueberries just before using, wash under running water and pat dry.

1) In a large bowl, beat (A) with a hand whisk till mixture turns slightly pale in colour (about 1 min).
2) Add (B), mix well.
3) Sift in (C) in 2 sessions, mix till just combined. Do not over mix; stop once you see no trace of flour.
4) Fold in (D).
5) Pour batter in Happycall pan, smooth the top. Cover and lock with magnet. Cook over very low heat for about 23-25 mins in total. Shift the pan left and right as and when in order to have even colour crust (though this is not necessary). I flipped the pan after baking for 20 mins and continue to cook for another 5 mins.

1) You may also bake this cake in the oven at 180C for about 40-45 mins using an 8” round tin or 20-25mins using muffin cups.
2) I didn't preheat or grease the pan.

Love apple cake? Here is another recipe that you may want to check it up.

Apple Cranberry Olive Oil Cupcake 苹果蔓越莓橄榄油杯子蛋糕

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

情人节快乐(吗?) ~ 粉红波点蒸蛋糕 Pink Polka Dot Steamed Cake







蛋 4颗
糖 100克
低粉/普通面粉 120克
牛奶 40ml
香草精 ½ 茶匙


Pink Polka Dot Steamed Cake

4 eggs
100g sugar
120g cake flour (can be replaced by plain flour)
Pinch of salt
40ml milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
Few drops of red colouring

1) Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl till frothy, add in sugar in 3 - 4 batches and beat at high speed until the batter becomes very pale, thick and creamy (ribbon stage). Meanwhile, heat up wok, pot or steamer.
2) Fold in sifted flour and salt , mix well. Scoop 2-3 tablespoons of batter and add in red colouring, set aside.
3) Add milk and vanilla extract to the white batter, mix well.
4) Scoop white batter into paper cups till 60% full and pipe pink batter with a small round nozzle on top. Steam for about 15-20 mins over high heat till a skewer inserted and comes out clean.

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine’s Day Special & An Award

I made these sandwiches for D and my colleagues as Pre-Valentine’s Day breakfast. Aren’t they sweet?

This hearty sandwich is extremely easy to do. You just need two heart-shape cutters, one big, one small (I got mine from Daiso), bread, ham and sliced cheese. Just cut and assemble.

So if you have not planned what to do for your loved one, why not surprise him/she with this cute little sandwich?

Chocolate Coated Strawberries

Korea strawberries are in season now, these chocolate coated strawberries are another sweet treat that you can make to pamper your loved one.

Yeast Cranberry Wholemeal Scones

If you have more time, these mini heart-shape cranberry scones are perfect for Valentine’s Day breakfast too.

Hope the above give you some ideas of what to prepare for your loved one on Valentine’s Day.

(Note: click on the pictures if you are interested in the recipes.)

A big thank to Jane and Alice for passing me this award – The Versatile Blogger award.

It’s my honour to receive the award from these two versatile bloggers.

Jane from Passionate About Baking is well-versed in all kinds of cakes and pastries, from simple muffins to occasion cakes, pies, macarons, cookies, breads… name it she makes it. Her blog is a good reference for people who like baking.

As suggested by the blog name, Alice from I Love.I Cook.I Bake cooks and bakes well. Hop over to her blog for home-cooked Indonesian cuisine and home-baked goodies.

Since I am a bit late in posting the award, I found out that all the bloggers that I wanted to nominate have already received the award. So I am not going to repeat here. :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

CNY Auspicious Dish ~ Stir-fried Leek with Roasted Pork (Using Happycall Pan) 烧肉炒蒜

This dish is a must have on the table of reunion dinner as the pronunciation of leek (蒜) in mandarin is same as count (算). Eating leek symbolizes there will be a lot of money to count in the coming year, thus this make fried leek an auspicious dish.

I like to cook leek with roasted pork. The saltiness and flavour of roasted pork compliment the natural sweetness of leek. The dish itself without seasonings is already very nice, thus, I think that minimum seasonings should be used.  I usually only add some light soy sauce and Hua Tiao wine. 

Other than roasted pork, I also like to cook leek with Chinese sausage, it just tastes as good as the roasted pork version.

By the way, I cooked this dish using my Happycall pan. Since I don't really cook often, I have tried to utilize my new toy whenever I have chance. With this pan I am able to cook some decent meals after work in shorter time. This motivates me to cook more often. :)

Stir-fried Leek with Roasted Pork (Using Happycall Pan) 烧肉炒蒜

Ingredients: (serve 3-4 pax)
6-8 stalks leek (sliced diagonally, separate stalks from leaves)
1 small pc (about 200g) roasted pork (sliced)(I used my home-made roasted pork)
Light soy sauce to taste (depending on the saltiness of the roasted pork)
1-2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (I used Hua Tiao)
¼ - ½ cup hot water

1) Heat oil in Happycall pan over medium low heat, add leek stalks (white portion), close lid and lock with magnet, cook for about 1 min. Toss and flip the pan in between.
2) Add the leek leaves, close lid and lock with magnet, cook for another 1-2 mins. Toss and flip the pan in between.
3) Add roasted pork. Give it a quick stir then close lid and lock with magnet, cook for another 1 min. Toss and flip the pan in between.
4) Add 2-3 tbsp of hot water, close lid and lock with magnet, turn to low heat and let it simmer for a few mins (it is not advisable to flip the pan after adding water). Taste (the roasted pork will give the dish some flavours even without adding any seasonings), add seasonings and little hot water (add more if you want some gravy), give it a quick stir and simmer with lid closed (unlocked) till the leeks soften to your liking. Drizzle additional Chinese cooking wine towards the end of cooking if you prefer stronger aroma of the wine.

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (January 2012) hosted by Wen’s Delight.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Crispy Oven-Baked Roasted Pork 脆皮烧肉

I have tried making roasted pork several times, despite there are many recipes around, I still stick to the simplest recipe which I used for my first attempt.

I made this roasted pork on the eve of Chinese New Year. I would say this was my best attempt. The skin was extremely crispy. I could hear the crackling sound when I munched on it. Hmmmm……so yummy (and sinful) !!

There is no secret, the key here is patience. Just prolong the baking, check every 10 mins until the cracklings are all over. Need not worry about certain part get burnt; the charred part can be easily scraped away.

I am using 1:1:1:1 ratio, i.e 1kg of pork belly to 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of white pepper and 1 tbsp of five-spice powder. Easy to remember right? So if you have 1.5kg of pork belly, just use 1.5 times of the seasonings.

Crispy Oven-Baked Roasted Pork 脆皮烧肉
(Recipe source: Angel of Cook.Bake.Love)

1 kg pork belly (do not cut into thin strip)
1 tbsp salt (I used fine sea salt)
1 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp five-spice powder

1) Clean the pork belly and pat dry all over with kitchen paper towel.
2) Score the meat about 2cm apart both vertically and horizontally (do not score the skin).
3) Prick all over the skin with a sharp skewer (I used the tip of a small knife). Prick as much holes as possible. This step is very crucial to ensure crackling on the skin.
4) Rub skin and meat with salt all over.
5) Mix white pepper and five-spice powder and rub into the meat including the scored areas (do not rub on the skin).
6) Leave the pork belly in fridge uncovered, skin side up, for a few hours. This is to dry up the skin, so that it will become crispy after baking.
7) Take out pork belly 30 mins to 1 hour before baking to thaw in room temperature. Put the pork belly on a grill with skin side up (remember to have a tray lined with aluminium foil below to catch the oil).
8) Bake in preheated oven, upper rack, at 200C for 50 mins, adjust to 220C and continue to bake for another 10 mins. Check the skin, if there is still spot that is not crackling, switch to upper fire (so that the meat won’t be over baked), bake for another 10 mins at 220C. Repeat this step (check every 10 mins), turn the position of pork belly if necessary, until the cracklings are all over. If there is certain spot where the crackling is not so well done after prolonged baking, try to wipe away the oil and rub some salt on the skin before baking. Scrape away the charred part with a tong or knife before serving.

1) The roasted pork in the picture is yielded from 1.6kg of raw pork belly.
2) The bigger the pork belly usually the longer the baking time.
3) Usually you will need the amount of salt stated in the recipe (if not more) but for the marinade (white pepper + five-spice powder), just use sufficient amount for the entire meat area, need not finish all.

Making roasted pork is not difficult at all, just need time and patience for the baking part. The most challenging part is cleaning. The oil will splash all over the oven. Don’t say I never warn you. Unless I find an effective way to clean the oven or have a helper, I will make this a yearly affair to bake for CNY only.

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (January 2012) hosted by Wen’s Delight.
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