Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Avocado Cheesecake



I made this 3kg cheesecake for my Godmother. I didn't know till she told me that she is a cheesecake lover! I have been browsing around some baking books and sites on cheesecakes. I am quite hesitant to make a non-bake cheesecake whenever there are children around since the cakes will normally call for fresh eggs which may be harmful to kids due to the presence of salmonella bacteria in the eggs. I find lemon, mango, orange and even chocolate cheesecake is quite common. I decided to go for this recipe due to the nutritional value of the avocados and was really curios on how it will turn out as avocados by nature are quite bland in taste.



The original recipe did not call for a sponge. I was concern that without the sponge it may not able to give the good height for a birthday cake should be. I decided to follow another recipe to bake a sponge for my cheesecake. I had baked this sponge for my trial on mango cheesecake before so I was pretty sure that this sponge recipe would work out fine in terms of height, volume and texture. As I predicted it did turn out well!

The only thing that I overlooked was that I should have increased the volume for the avocado cream cheese filling. As you can see in the 2nd picture, the avocado cream cheese filling was thin for all layers. The sponge layers were thick and had somehow overshadowed the taste of the avocado cream cheese.... an outcome that was so unexpected! I was doing the layering and creaming midnight so just could not do anything to add the cream cheese volume in the wee hours :(

I did the cake in 2 days' times. I baked the sponge on the first day. On the second day I did the creaming and assembling. I like to spread out the tasks this way in order not to stress myself up as I still need to take care of my daughter :)

AVOCADO CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

Base:
110g butter diced
200g finely crushed digestive biscuits
2 tbsp brown sugar
40g toasted and chopped shelled pistachios
35g chopped pumpkin seeds

Filling
500g Cream Cheese (room temp)
140g Castor sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
1/2 vanilla essence
450g avocado puree
1 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp powdered gelatine dissolved in 100ml water
300ml Thickened cream/ Heavy cream

Topping
Whipped cream
50g rough chopped pumpkin seeds
100g toasted and chopped shelled pistachios


Method to make biscuit base

1. Melt butter in pan over low heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Fry until fragrant.

2. Pressed into a greased 23-cm loosed bottom cake pan/ springform cake pan with the back of a metal spoon or with your hand.

3. Cover cake pan and refrigerate for 30 min.

Method to filing

1. Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon, vanilla until smooth. Beat in avocado puree. Set aside.

2. Pour gelatine into cream cheese and mix until combined. Blend in cream.

3. Divide the filling into 3 bowls. Pour in the first layer of cream on the biscuit base. Stack the first layer of sponge on the cream. Repeat the same process ending with cream filling covering the end layer of sponge.

4. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours for the cake to set.

5. Transfer the cheesecake to a cake board and decorate with whipped cream, pumpkin seeds and pistachios. Chilled before serving.

Note :
1. Increase the volume of the filling if you intend to add a sponge in the cake~

2. I used the loose bottomed cake pan since i didn't have the springform cake pan.

3. Wrapped the bottom of the pan with a cling wrap. This will help to ease the transfering process of the cake from the pan to the cake board without tearing the biscuits base. If you know any other better method of transfering please do share with me.

4. Decorate with whipped cream the last.

5. Roast pistachios in advance.

6. Use room temp cream cheese otherwise the mixture will be lumpy.

7. I will share will you the recipe on how to make a suitable sponge for cheesecake in another post.

8. If you ever know how to choose a ripe avocado please do share with me :)


The recipe was extracted from Cheesecake Seduction

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheese Biscuits

I find this recipe pretty interesting uses a little chicken stock for flavouring. It is very easy to make also. This is a tasty savoury treat to enjoy with the whole family. Most kids will naturally love star-shaped cookies. My daughter was indeed attracted by the shape!


I made this together with the melting moments and therefore had cut the recipe into half. However, I will post the full recipe here.

Ingredients
A : (sifted)
360g plain flour
2 tbsp chicken stock
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

B
200g butter
250g grated cheddar cheese
1/2 egg lightly beaten

Glazing
1/2 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt

Method
1. Rub butter into the dry ingredients and mix till it resembles bread crumb.
Add 3/4 portion of grated cheese and mix weell
3. Add egg to combine the dough well. Cover with a cling wrap and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes
4. Preheat oven to 180deg C.
4. Rolled out dough into 3mm and use star shaped cookies cutter to cut out the star.
5. Greased and line baking tray. Place the cut cheese stars on the baking tray and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes or more until golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before storing.

Notes:
1. As both cheese and chicken stock are salty, my advice is to reduce the amount for both if you don't like salty stuff.

2. Though recipe call for 20-minute baking time, I find that I always need to increase baking time to another 10 -15 minutes to get the right result for my oven.

3. This biscuit tastes better and crunchier if you bake slightly longer.


(Recipe was extracted from 'I can Bake' from Agnes Chang)

Melting Moments

This was one of the first few cookies i tried baking. I did this recipe together with the cheese start biscuits. Both recipes were taken from Agnes Chang's cookbook called 'I Can Bake'. I cut down the ingredients into half for both recipes as my purpose was mainly to test and do experiment on how my oven works on cookies baking.


My daughter loves these cookies a lot and I love to see how she enjoyed nibbling bit by bit of this small little treat! I am sure younger children will love these cookies a lot as they don't need to chew a lot and it melted in your mouth within seconds. I baked this as snacks for my daughter during the peak of the China's scandal of the melamine tainted dairy products last year. I am not sure if I could somehow use and modify this recipe and used it to make the crust for the pineapple tarts. I should try it out soon before Chinese New Year!

I wasn't very happy with the look of the cookies though. It was my very first experience in using piping tip, coupler and piping bag. I can still remember I was struggling on how to put the coupler in the bag, how to fill the bag with the mixture, how to squeeze, what angle and strength. It was quite a mess!

MELTING MOMENT

Ingredients
200g butter
80g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
¼ tsp salt
120g self raising flour
120g corn flour

Some icing sugar for dusting

Method

1. Preheat oven at 170deg C.

2. Cream butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt until just combined

3. Add self-rising flour, corn flour and mix into a soft dough.Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a big star nozzle. Pipe onto a greased baking tray to form into the shape of a rosette

4. Bake for about 15 to 20 min

5. Cool at rack, sprinkle some icing sugar on top if desired. Store in air tight tin before serving.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Basic Butter Cookies



I have not been updating my blog for more than 2 months. October and November this year were rather busy months, full of ups and downs in my history of life. I was busy in the early part of October to prepare for my daughter's 2nd birthday. Later part of October I was saddened very much by the departure of my late fifth uncle. He was my uncle, the brother whom my dad doted a lot. Though he seldom came back in the early years after his marriage and migration to Holland, he made more trips back to visit us in recent years. This favourite uncle of mine somehow was very closed to me and my other siblings though we don't see him often... this kind of bonding, love and respect that we had for him is unexplainable .. yes blood is always thicker than water! I grief until today for the loss so does each one of my family members in KL especially my dad but we know that we have to move on with lifes. We miss him....

Then I was busy in November with my cake decorating class that I signed up in August and also my daughter fell illed with fever. I am now in KL visiting my family and I am glad to see that at least everyone looks and feels 'okie' and better now. As the year is going to end soon, I thought I better spend some time now writing and posting the rest of my baking adventures this year. So you will be seeing more new posts about pies, tarts, cookies and especially cake decorations! Check it out!



This recipe was done quite a while ago and was my first experiment of making cookies. The recipe was extracted from the 'Biscuits, Breads & Cookies' from Lynn Bedford Hall. I definitely have not read and seen enough baking recipes books but I do think that this is a book that I should get one for my baking library soon as I like the varieties yet specialised for both the modern and traditional recipes introduced.

.
The cookies tasted very buttery and crunchy. The used of good quality butter is important i think. Though I am a chocoholic but i prefer the original basic vanilla flavoured cookies than the chocolate ones for this recipe.




BASIC BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients
(Make about 30)

220g Bread flour
110g Unsalted butter
170g Castor sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
Few drops of vanilla essence
1 tsp Cream of tartar
½ tsp Baking soda

Method

1. Preheat oven 180deg c. Grease the baking pan.

2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla essence and beat.

3. Sift the bread flour with the baking soda and cream of tartar. Add to the mixture and stir until incorporated. Mix to a soft dough and then shape into a ball with your hands.

5. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 12 minutes or until pale beige in colour. Cool on wire rack.

Variations
I had doubled up all the ingredients and made another batch of chocolate butter cookies. The recipe and method are as follows:
- Sift 2 tsp cocoa powder with the dry ingredients and add about 43g grated
semisweet chocolate to the dough.


Notes:

1. Space each cookies about 2 inch as the cookies will expand a fair bit.
2. The dough does not meant for cookie-press therefore it did not keep its shape well. So don't use cookies cutter for this recipe as the shape will run.
3. Use scraper to scrape and transfer the rolled and flatten dough to the baking tray.
4. I need to increase the baking duration to another 10 - 15 minutes for my oven. So you may need to check how your oven works. The best way is to test baking one before putting the whole tray in. That will save a lot of hassle of taking in and out the whole tray from the oven to check whether it is cooked and to me it is safer to have one biscuit spoiled rather than the whole tray!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chocolate Muffins



I had planned a week ahead to visit my girl friend's new home and hoped to bake a tray of muffins if my daughter napped well for our snacks later. She really slept well and long enough that afternoon giving me enough time to do cooking, baking and some housework :)

Having said that, I always kept in mind to bake something easy and fast. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I took effort to remember the basic muffins recipe by hard. The effort paid off as I recalled the recipe within seconds and it took me less than 15 minutes to prepare and mix all the ingredients. It was so satisfying to act like a pro home baker haa haa :)

I used the same Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe. The variations I made were as followed :

1. I added in about 1 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder to the flour and sift them together with the salt and baking powder
2. Since I had about 50g baking chocolate left, I used the double boil method and melt the chocolate. I then mixed the melted chocolate to the batter at the step of folding in the chocolate chips.
3. I used the Buttercup butter which is slightly salted and I found that it tasted less buttery.
4. Do not use vanilla essence for this recipe.


It tasted not as good as I expected. Perhaps this was due to the different butter that I used. I normally use unsalted butter from Lurpark. The muffins are soft though and the chocolate tasted just nice to my preference.

I was so happy to see my girlfriend's daughter and my gal tucking in the muffins. Nothing is much more rewarding than seeing your family members and friends happily eating and finishing up your baking and cooking creations! :)

Blueberries and Yogurt Muffins


I was searching around for cake recipes suitable for diabetic patient. My father-in-law is diabetic and I thought of baking him a cake for his birthday. Found one Mango Cream Cheese Pound Cake but sadly was not able to bake it in time due to some changes in the celebration plans :( Anyway, I was glad to bump into a pastry chef's blog who discovered having diabetes shortly after enrolling himself in a culinary school. Check out this website to look for baking tips and recipes suitable for diabetes.

Originally I wanted to bake the Blueberries Muffins following the recipes found in diabetic pastry blog but I hold back because I got to know through youtube on what Splenda really is. Not sure how true it is but i think better be cautious than sorry. At the end, I followed this Blueberries and Yogurt Muffin Recipe and did quite a lot of variations to it.


I like the topping for the muffin most as it was so crunchy and it tasted exactly like those crumble pies if you ever tried one before.


The taste of the cinnamon and nutmeg was light but it helped mellowing down the sourish taste of the berries and enhanced the overall aroma of the muffins.


I used 2 types of blueberries from different farms. Perhaps that explains the two different purple tones of the muffins. This is really a healthy snack since it is fruity and uses less butter. Next time I will try to replace the butter with canola or sunflower oil and replace 1/3 of the plain flour with the wheat flour to make it more wholesome and healthier.


BLUEBERRIES AND YOGURT MUFFINS

Ingredients

(Make 15)
220g Plain Flour
1/4 tsp of salt
56g unsalted butter (soften)
170g castor sugar
55g brown sugar
2 eggs lightly bitten
170ml full cream milk
90g plain yogurt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
218g blueberries
½ cup pecans (optional)


Topping

30g plain flour
30g cold unsalted butter (my suggestion)
2 tbsp brown sugar
A dash of nutmeg and cinnamon

Method

1. Sift flour together with salt, baking powder and baking soda. Put aside

2. Grease the muffin tray and line the muffin tray with the muffin cases. Preheat the oven at 200deg C. Baking time 20-25 min

3. Mix butter with sugar until creamy, pale and fluffy about 5 - 7 minutes at high speed. Mix in yogurt, milk, eggs until incorporated at low speed.

4. Add in flour, salt, baking powder and soda and mix until incorporated . Do not over mix.

5. Fold in blueberries.

6. Fill the muffin cases about 2/3 full

7. For the topping, add plain flour, brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg together using the back of the fork. Rub in about 30g cold butter until bread crumb is form. Sprinkle on top of the muffin before baking.

Notes :
1. I have added half water to the full cream milk to make a 2% milk
2. I have reduced the castor sugar to about 90g and keep the measurement for the brown sugar.
2. Do not add in too much berries as it will increase the density of the cake. Don't make the same mistake that I did.
3. Best to be eaten on the day when they are baked as the toppings turn soggy the next day. Also, because they were so dense inside due to too much berries you can't really keep it more than 3 days.

Recipe from About.Com : Southern Food

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chocolate Chip Muffins with Nutella and Creamy Peanut Butter

Thank you for dropping by and read my humble blog! It is really heart warming to receive feedback from a friend who now wanted to dig out her baking 'barang-barang' and start baking again after reading my blog. Do share with me your baking experience and let us learn together! :) Speaking from a very novice baker's point of view, I always recommend my friends who have not baked before but inspired to bake now, to start with a simple and easy project i.e baking muffins.


Muffins are very healthy snacks for kids. They are easy to make because the main tips of muffins baking are 'do not overmix' which means it saves a lot of work and 'do not overbake' which means time saving! Hmm sounds like those Quality Improvement project that I used to run previously!

Muffins belongs to quick bread family like biscuits, scones, waffles, pancakes etc. There are 2 mixing techniques for muffins i.e the two mixing bowls methods or creaming method. Check out this site for more information about quick bread - muffins. It is a good practice to read and find out more information before you venture into a baking project.

I got the basic muffins making recipe from Everyday Food Magazines, May 2008 by Martha Stewart. The original recipe used the 2 bowls mixing method. However, I am more used to the creaming method so I just followed my heart!


This is a fool proofed recipe and you can do a lot of variations for the add-ins like chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, berries, vegetables, cheese etc without changing the measurement of other ingredients. I chose to add in the chocolate chips as I just bought one and the balance is still sitting in the fridge now. Also I thought I should be more experimental this time by adding in the nutella and creamy peanut butter for the fillings which the original recipe never called for.

The chocolate chip muffins with nutella filling tasted so good as the nutella flavour blended in so well with the chips. The muffins are soft and buttery but not dense.

I like especially the crust on top of the muffins. It gave you that kind of umph when you bite a chunk of it....Yummy!!


However, this was not the case for the muffins with creamy peanut butter. The cake texture did not change generally but the overall bites were not satisfying as the peanut butter was very sticky and the flavour just don't blend in with the whole cake and the chips. Won't be baking this next time.

Ever since the first bake of this chocolate chip muffins, I have memorised the recipe by hard. It is worthwhile storing this recipe in your memory bank and you will know why in my next few posts which are on muffins also!

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS WITH NUTELLA & PEANUT BUTTER

Ingredients

(Make 12)
220g Self Raising Flour
½ tsp of salt
170g unsalted butter (soften)
140g castor sugar
2 eggs lightly bitten
120ml full cream milk
½ tsp pure vanilla essence
165g semi sweet mini chocolate-chip or about a cup

Fillings:
Nutella
Creamy peanut butter

Method

1. Sift flour together with salt and put aside.

2. Grease the muffin tray and line the muffin tray with the muffin cases. Preheat the oven at 190deg C. Baking time 20 -25 min

3. Mix butter with sugar until creamy, pale and fluffy about 5-7 minutes using the electronic mixer at high speed.

4. Lower the speed to medium and add one egg at a time and continue to beat until it is well incorporated. Add in another egg and vanilla essensse. Continue to beat until it is well incorporated.

5. Add in flour and milk alternately in three portions until finished. Do not over mix.

6. Add in chocolate-chips in 2-3 portions and fold the batter.

7. Fill the muffin casing about 1/3 full and add in a teaspoon of nutella for six muffin cases. Cover up with another 1/3 of the batter.

8. Do likewise for the other 6 muffin cases but fill them up with creamy peanut butter this time.

Notes :
1. I am using Hershey mini chocolate chips.
2. The measurement given for the sugar is a reduced amount from the original recipe which is 170g. I decided not to use too much sugar. You may add sugar if you wish the muffins to be a little sweeter.
3. You may add in other suitable flavoured milk if you wish.
4. Another variation is you can put the nutella on top of the batter and swirl it with a tooth pick before putting into the oven. I will try doing this next time.
5. You may change the milk to low fat milk or by simply adding half water to half of the full cream milk to make it as 2% milk.
6. For all the recipes in this blog, I will try to simplify from the originals.

Recipe fram Everyday Food Magazine, May 2008

China Food Scandal

I am listening to one of Jeffery Michael's album while writing this post. Overlooking at the dining room's window to get a fresh greenery view of the little patch of jungle about a kilometre away from my house. Can see the top branches of the tree swaying gently and softly when the wind blows....Need to seek some peace of mind. My mind just swung to the many scenes of crying babies suffering from kidney stones and kidney failure due to the recent food scandal in China on the melamine tainted milk/ diary products. For babies and toddlers whose life have been impaired due to permanent kidney failure at this tender age even before they can really experience what life is about, it is really heart rending!

I took a deep breath and thank God that our children here are not affected directly. Hopefully the relevant authority will tighten the food safety and security system and most importantly I really hope that China government will come out with some comprehensive continued care plans for babies who lost their kidney functions permanently due to this.

Clare, my daughter took quite a lot of the 'Take One Baby Bites' since young as this is her favourite biscuit! It is a product of China with a big Caucasian baby's face in the front label of the box. I admit that I was misled by that picture and also the fact that many babies on the street are eating it, i thought it is safe. I threw all the Take One biscuits that I have.

Now I take effort to read labels and the nutritional facts for the products I buy and I try to do more home make snacks for her like muffins and biscuits at least I know what goes in her stomach!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake


My birthday was just over and initially I was hesitant to bake my own birthday cake! We had plans to go out later in the evening and I thought I should not tire myself since I wasn’t feeling well. At the end, I decided to bake the cake that I like which is very chocolaty from every layer of the cake to the fillings and right up to the top frosting! Also I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate my two months’ journey in baking! Whatever it is i know the good reasons why i baked :)



Well, I put on masks (of course not N95) and changed it few times when it gotten wet and washed my hand thoroughly. Having to work in healthcare for years, somehow I got influenced in practising good hand hygiene; a simple measure that breaks away the spread of diseases.

The recipe called for 2 round 8inch cake tins. Since I only got one, I divided the ingredients for the cake equally for two times baking. I did the mixing procedure twice to prevent the batter from being exposed to air too long while waiting for the first baking to finish.



After putting the first batter to the oven, I realised that I forgot to add water to the melting chocolate. I added in 2 tbsp into the balance of the melted chocolate for the second batter. The consistency of the chocolate turned thick, sticky and hard (as shown in the picture above) as compared to the first batch of the melted chocolate which was smooth and soft.



You can see the difference in colour for the first cake (lighter brown) which is on your right and the second cake (darker brown) which is on your left. Surprisingly to me the texture for the second cake is better. I have increased the timing to 30 minutes for the second batter as at 25 minutes when I put the toothpick into the cake it didn’t come out clean.



As this is my first layer cake project, I did quite badly in doing the job. For each cake we should layer it half to get four layers. I almost cut more than 2/3 of the cake for a layer and they were not level at all. Oops! I almost also broke one layer of the cake and if it happened my cake would turn out short. Luckily it didn’t happen.



I carefully assembled and spread the filling on top of each layer gently as I was afraid that I might tear the cake! I put the inverted bottom layer of the cake on top since it was the most flatten part. As the cake was not leveled, you can see in the picture that some parts of the layers are too thin. I tried to put more filling on the thin layer to level it.
For more details about layering cakes, refer to Baking911 website.



I cut one small little piece for my daughter as this cake contained really high caffeine. She is like me, a chocoholic! She asked for more but as usual I have to stop her at one :O.



The cake was very fudgy. It tasted so good and best to eat with vanilla ice cream! The filling of the cake had the strongest combination of cocoa and chocolate flavours and was a bit coarse due to the unmelted brown sugar (as shown in the picture above).



I like the frosting effect. It camouflaged the weaknesses of the whole cake and it 'dressed up' the cake beautifully!



This self-taught project was adventurous and the learning process was very satisfying. I am glad that I am able to feel for the very first time how layering, leveling, spreading, assembling, trimming etc are like.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE LAYER CAKE

Ingredients

(Make 8)
150g plain flour
175g unsalted butter (soften)
175g soft brown sugar
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp baking powder
250g bittersweet chocolate
75g finely ground almonds

For the filling:
75g cocoa powder
175g soft brown sugar
175g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar

For the frosting (top only)
50g unsalted butter
150g semisweet chocolate
25g bittersweet chocolate (optional)


Method

1. Preheat oven to 350deg F or 180deg C. Grease and line two 8” round cake pan.

2. Melt the chocolate with 4tbsp of water in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Let cool slightly. Cream butter and sugar and slowly add in eggs. Stir in melted chocolate and fold in the flour, baking powder and almonds.

3. Pour batter into pan and bake 20 -25 mins. Let cool slightly and invert the cakes on a wire rack. Slice each cake through the centre to make four layers.

4. To make the filling, mix together the cocoa and sugars. Beat in the melted butter and stir in 4 tbsp boiling water to form a smooth paste. Refrigerate for 20 min then spread evenly over three layers of the cake. Place the final cake layer on top.

5. To make the frosting, melt the chocolates and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Beat until glossy then let cool to a spreading consistency. Smooth evenly over the top of the cake.

Recipe from 'Homemade Cakes' by Philippa Vanstone

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Banana Muffins/ Cake

My whole family loves bananas a lot especially my daughter and my father in law. I will usually try to get a comb on Saturday if my in laws are coming over to stay. Since there were some over ripe bananas left over after a weekend, I decided to try baking banana cake as i read a lot on internet and books that this should be pretty well easy for a beginner to bake. Browsing through all the resources that I have, I decided to bake this using Agnes Chang's recipe.

I baked the banana muffins and the banana cake in 2 seperate occasions. I left no choice but to bake this as muffins since the most important ingredient that i need for any banana recipes that is the bananas left only 3 pcs! So I decided to mash 2 of them and left one for decoration. I halfed all the baking ingredients of course.

My daugther and my husband are always the prima tester for all my cooked and baked goodies. Yeah they are the guinea pigs! :) As any other mums, I always concern about the nutritional intakes of my daughter. So, if I can I will try to use checimals minimally and wisely in all my cookings and bakings.

So for the muffins recipe, I didn't use the baking soda at all since the baking powder itself already consists of the baking soda. The muffins turned out to be very moist but not greasy, it is soft but not airy and light as it shouldn't be! It tasted so good but it doesn't look very presentable as it sunk in the middle a little!

Well this is expected as I didn't add in the baking soda to boost up the leavening effect. I didn't fill up the muffin cases 3/4 full as my batter can barely made six! So when the batter leavened, it didn't successfully flow out to get that nice curve at the edge as it was blocked by the muffin cases. It looked like being squeezed to the centre didn't it?




Read somewhere that we should fill up the empty muffin holes with water for even baking. I did that for my muffins. No regret of not adding baking soda for the muffins though.

The banana cake which I baked in a loaf tin was not successful. The inner part of the batter was not cooked and it has a few big holes and the biggest one was in the centre of the loaf!

I thought of baking this to serve the hungry pangs of my hubby over the weekend when he needs to work. Anyway he didn't know about this :)


Very disappointed but still I was glad that we were able to try the sides of the cake. It tasted a bit heavy though. I used the self raising flour and therefore did not use the baking powder as instructed in the recipe.

Read in JoyofBaking.com and other sites and found some baking tips and clues to the failed project :


Q1 : Why use baking powder and baking soda?

A1 : Baking powder consists of baking soda, one or two acid salt (cream of tartar and sodium aluminium sulfate) and cornstarch. The purpose of the baking powder and baking soda is to leaven the batter and baking soda is normally used for acidic ingredients, chocolate & cocoa, honey, maple syrup to neutralise the acidic ingredients and soften the cake at the same time leaven the cake. Baking powder that we used has 2-staged leavening effects that happens at different time. The first stage happens when liquid is added to the baking powder. This step happens when baking powder is added to the batter. The baking soda in the baking powder will mix with cream of tartar and create gas bubbles called carbon dioxide in the batter. The second stage of leavening happens when the gas bubbles enlarge when exposed to thebheat in the oven. (Baking soda able to create reddening effect on batter when mix with chocolate/ cocoa powder.)

Q2: What happen when too much baking powder is used?
A2: Too much baking powder will cause the batter to collapse. Too little will cause the cake has no volume and compact.

Q3: Why there is a big hole in the cake?
A3: When use baking powder and baking soda, you must sift them and mix them well before putting in the batter if not there will be a big whole in the cake. (I used self raising flour and did not use baking soda so why there are holes on my banana loaf cake remains as a myth until i found the answer!)

Q4: Why the inner cake is not cooked?
A4: Too low temperature or too short time of baking. (This is what happened to me as I bake the loaf for about 25 minutes as I was rushing out to have breakfast with my family friends. Hubby read wrongly the baking time as this is the baking time to bake the muffins instead.)


BANANA MUFFINS/ CAKE

Ingredients

180g unsalted butter
180g castor sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, coarsely mashed
1/8 banana essence optional (which I did not use)
3 tbsp of milk mixed with 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Dry ingredients :
240g plain flour
1tsp of baking powder
1tsp of baking soda

Decoration : 2 ripe bananas, slimed and ½ lime

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C/350 deg F. Grease and baseline a 10” x 6” loaf tin.

2. Cream butter and sugar and gradually add in eggs.

3. Mix in the mashed bananas (add in bananas essence at this stage if you are using). Pour in the sifted dried ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

4. Pour the batter into a cupcake or a loaf tin and bake for about 20 – 25 min.

5. If you are making the muffins squeeze lime juice over banana slices arrange banana slices on top of the cake as decoration.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool before serving.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Special Column : Goodbye to Baby Angel..

It was 20 minutes before 9am and my husband was hurried to leave for office. About a few seconds before he stepped out we received a call from a closed family friend. It was a bad news. My closed family friend has a miscarriage yesterday night. We were both in shocked, worried and sad. We quickly dressed up our gal and sent her to the nanny. I always try not to bring her to the hospitals to prevent her from catching any bugs. My husband decided to take a day off as he felt that the grieving couple, my closed friend needed help in one way or another. I am so touched by his kindness and generosity for going extra miles.

We were in the Mt. Alvernia Hospital alas. The grieving mother was crouching on the bed covering her head and body with a white blanket, refusing to talk but sobbing all the way. She was not emotionally stable. The Husband was trying to comfort her though he was bearing tremendous pain and sadness himself masking it up well by his tall and muscular built. Lucky that there are always counselors called religious sisters in a Catholic Hospital who are always ready to send comforting words of God to patients who need them most.

Tiny Baby Angel was just about 8 weeks old. But then the hurt and sadness was tremendously felt by the grieving parents. It wasn’t the matter of whether 8 weeks or 8 months for a parent to grief for the loss of a child. It was the pure and strong love and bonding the parents have had for Baby Angel as early as from the time of conception, a time when life was already granted to the tiny baby in the womb of the mother by God. How can one says that there is no life to an unborn child when heart beat already can be heard and traced and love has already been developed?!

Baby Angel was just a tiny little clot of blood but Baby Angel was alive for 8 weeks though unborn and before God decided to take Baby Angel away with Him. Baby Angel is now under the good care of God and the reasons why Baby Angel was taken away remained as a painful truth for the parents, family and friends to accept.

We had a Catholic ritual prayer to baptise Baby Angel and to bless the soul and the family. It was a simple but solemn prayer. Everyone in the room was crying, sobbing and grieving. Nobody can explain how amazingly this little tiny baby has touched all our life! We know that Baby Angel has returned to the Lord and is in good hands. In that little room, we sense the love and awesome of God and His grace in controlling everything in our life! Our life on earth is only a pilgrimage journey towards eternal life.

We had the car accidents together about 2 months ago and we kept on praising God for saving our life, allowing us to continue living for there are life missions that we need to fulfill on earth. How fragile our life could be and how helpless we are before the Lord. Is being successful in life important when we meet God one day? Yes God never called us to be poor but in the expense of chasing after our self-claimed ‘success’ or a better or more comfortable life do we really need to trade off the significances that are closed to our hearts and souls. I am asking myself the same questions each day…

Our prayers go to Baby Angel, the grieving parents and the family always. As a mark of respect in this grieving period, there will be no post on baking or food for this whole week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Marble Cake



This is my second baking project but first one with this hand mixer that I got. The recipe is taken from a book called Homemade Cake by Philippa Vanstone. The book featured mainly on American traditional cakes and pastry using old-fashioned recipes!
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The reasons why I am attracted to this book are two-folds. First, I am interested to learn about the traditional cakes, breads, pies, and biscuits as I think as a baker we need to know how to bake traditional pastries if possible from as many countries as possible. By knowing the basis then we are able to understand the changes through times and from there we can creatively modify and transform the recipe to suit our today's taste buds without losing its traditional essence. To me that is important. Though I have not grasp on any baking techniques and skills, this principle will set the foundation for my entrepreneurialship in my culinary journey.. that is know the foundation, know the roots!! The second reason is simply because it has a summarised version of the important basic knowledge and tips that I need to know about baking like equipment, essential ingredients, some terms used in baking like creaming, folding, rubbing etc, how to troubeshoot, cake decorating, freezing and storing. For a novice baker like me these are absolutely helpful!



MARBLE CAKE

Ingredients (make 6 - 8 slices)

175g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
75g unsalted butter
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla essense
75g bittersweet chocolate, melted

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C/350 deg F. Grease and baseline an 8inch cake pan.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and put to one side

3. Cream the butter and sugar. Add in sugar gradually. Beat the batter until it turns fluffy and light in colour. I did this about 5 minutes.

4. Gradually add in eggs, a little by little and alternately fold in flour and milk to the mixture. Stir in the vanilla essense. The book didn't mention how many times. I did it in 3 additions that is add and egg and mix at lower speed then add in flour and milk and continue to mix until all are incorporated. Add in the second portion of egg and do likewise for the flour and milk. Add in the last portion of the egg and do likewise.

5. Pour half of the mixture to another bowl and stir in the melted chocolate.

6. Spoon the batters alternately into the pan until all batters are used up.

7. Use a chopstick/ knife to gently swirl the batters to create the marble effect.
Bake for 35 – 40 min and remove to a wire rack after 5 minutes.





The marble cake that I made turned out to be crispy on top but not hard. The marble effect was not clear in fact it just looked like a lump mixture of chocolate and butter cake. Probably I had not divided the batter evenly and being a chocolate lover I purposely pour in more batter for the chocolate flovour! Also I knew I didn't swirl it correctly as I just cut it through with 7 parallel straight lines on the batter and didn't swirl it at all :( Read on some baker blogs and found out that the crispy top could probably due to too much egg! Seem like many people are using cocoa powder instead of the bittersweet chocolate. Nonetheless there are some that combine both. Some use both baking soda and baking powder and bake it in a loaf pan. Anyway there is no one strict way in baking a marble cake! It is a matter of preference and perhaps the economic factor also as I think cocoa powder is cheaper than a bitter sweet chocolate bar. The taste was very good, very moist, tasty, not so sweet and it remained moist after 5 days (I kept in air tight container). My husband loves it a lot! I came across a recipe on marble cheese cake and I will try baking it soon.

Philips Hand Mixer



Everytime when I went shopping especially at the baking section or at the shops selling bakery stuff, I always tempted to buy the utensils, essentials and stuff. Even by reading up books, blogs, magazines etc the more I know about the baking world the more I wanted to buy a wide range of bakery stuff for my experiments at home. Thank God that I am able to control myself and save some money by not buying unnecessary things. I try to be prudent in managing the family budget especially in this inflation crisis.

I may forgo all things at the moment but not this one that is the electronic hand mixer which does wonder and magical job for my baking projects. I think all homebakers should have one of it to make baking easy and enjoyable. I got this Philips brand 3L hand mixer at 10% discount at court at about SGD 65. It comes with 3turbo, 2-year warranty and dual functions whereby you can hold it with your hand and mix or fix it to the machine and let it do the job! 3L is just nice a capacity for a homebaker. I was so happy that day carefully took out all the parts, washed, cleaned them up and assembled them immediately to kick start my next baking project i.e Marble cake.

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