Thursday, 22 June 2017

Dessert Themed Shortbread Cookies

I love it when requesters give me relatively free rein for the design of bakes :). Someone requested for ice-cream and cupcake shortbread cookies that I made last year but I expanded the selection of desserts!

You may refer to this post for a detailed write-up of recipe and shaping steps for making the ice-cream cone and cupcake cookies using homemade templates. I will briefly describe what I did for this batch. Please refer to this post on how to shape the lollipop cookie.

I try to use as little artificial colouring as possible, relying on flavouring to colour the cookie dough instead.

Ingredients (makes about 25-30 cookies):
60g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, slightly softened
165g plain flour
15g cornflour*
1/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp strawberry emulco
1/2 tsp lemon paste
1/8-1/4 tsp cocoa powder (I use Dutch processed but regular will do)
A drop of blue and red gel food colouring

* You may replace with plain flour for a firmer, less melt in your mouth cookie.

1. Beat butter with icing sugar and salt until light and fluffy. You may beat by hand or use an electric mixer.

2. Add sifted cornflour and plain flour. Fold in with a spatula until a ball of dough forms.

3. Divide dough into 72g for brown, blue and pink dough, 140g for yellow dough and 5g for red dough. You may divide the colours equally too if that's your preference.

4. Roll the dough between two baking sheets to desired thickness (4-6mm). Use homemade cookie templates to cut out desired shapes or simply shape using your fingers. The lollipops for example, don't require templates. I made each lollipop using 7g of coloured dough for each colour.

5. Place cookie dough cutouts in baking tray lined with baking sheets. Chill in refrigerator until firm.

Cookie dough cutouts! I made a few bee cookies as well for another request.

6. Bake in preheated oven at 150℃ for 15-17 min or until done. Use the middle rack. Keep an eye on the cookies to make sure they don't turn brown.

7. Let the cookies cool completely on the tray before decorating or storing in airtight container.

Freshly baked cookies!

Decorate with royal icing or melted dark/milk chocolate and sprinkles as you wish. Store the decorated cookies in airtight container after the icing/chocolate has dried. These cookies can keep for about 1.5 months in airtight, cool room temperature.

My kids had some leftover dough to play with. It's been some time since I had time and energy to let them meddle with leftovers from my bakes. They didn't have the benefit of working with chilled dough and couldn't resist using up all the leftover sprinkles :p. Here's their handiwork...

You can tell which one was done by me as a demo piece!

My kids thought their creation was yummy ;).

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Heart-Shaped Iced Brown Sugar Cookies

Social workers are a great support to many families in Singapore but their services often go unrecognized. I had the privilege to bake some door gifts for these people who have given their services with a big heart some months ago.

A special large cookie with a "K" was made for a staff who was leaving.

I have written a very detailed step by step recipe for the brown sugar cookie base and royal icing decoration in this post so I shall not repeat it here. Let me just reiterate that I have been using the same recipe for a few years because I always get rave reviews for these cookies in terms of taste. They have excellent shelf life of about 1.5 months at tropical room temperature when sealed so you can make these way ahead of time.

I was really busy with this large batch of 51 heart shaped cookies and another 20 PJ Mask cookies so I didn't take many photos. Here are a couple of works-in-progress photos of the cookies..

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Forever Friends Bear Chiffon Cake

Here's my Forever Friends bear wishing Happy Father's Day to the wonderful daddies!!

Yes it's chiffon cake and not stuffed toy =p This is actually my 3rd time making the cute bear! My most challenging version so far. Recipe for the bear vanilla chocolate chiffon cake is here. I combined it with chiffon cake from a doll cake pan using the same recipe. Thankful it was well-received!

Am still on holiday, sorry any delays in replying your messages and the short post! Have a great week ahead! *Warm hugs to you*

With lots of love,

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Assorted Animal Macarons (updated whipped strawberry ganache recipe with higher fruit content)

A dear friend requested for animal macarons for her toddler's birthday. These aren't just any random animals but those that little Hannah can identify :)

Spider, chicken, shark and snail macarons!

I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping shark and some rounds

Piping chickens! If they look familiar, that's because I made them before over here but I used the French method previously.

Piping snails!

Piping spider body

Freshly baked shells! Love the feet 😍

Freshly baked animal shells! The spider is not recognizable yet without eyes and legs 

I decorated the shells with royal icing and edible marker.

Kid friendly filling that can withstand storage out of fridge for several hours was requested. I filled the macarons with firm dark chocolate ganache and lemon curd or whipped strawberry white chocolate ganache. The strawberry ganache has higher fresh fruit puree content as I omitted heavy cream. It is also stable at Singapore's warm room temperature of 27-28℃.

Here's the recipe for updated whipped strawberry white chocolate ganache recipe.

Recipe for whipped strawberry white chocolate ganache
Ingredients (fills about 16-20 macarons):
55g white chocolate, chopped
10g vegetable shortening
10g unsalted butter
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
26g strawberry puree
1/2 tsp strawberry emulco/ paste

1. Place white chocolate, vegetable shortening and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at medium power for 20 seconds. Mix well with a spatula. Repeat until mixture is smooth. Add salt and mix well.

2. Freeze the bowl for 2 minutes and mix well with spatula. Repeat freezing and mixing. As the mixture thickens, start to beat it with the spatula. You will notice that the texture will lighten up and become creamy.

3. Add a teaspoon of puree and whip the mixture with the spatula until well combined. Repeat until all the puree has been added. Add strawberry paste and mix well. The texture should be like buttercream.

4. Transfer whipped strawberry ganache into piping bag and pipe onto the shells. Store assembled macarons in the fridge in an airtight container for at least 24h before serving.

Filling up all the shells!

Another look at the animals :)

I hope they brought a smile to your face :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Astronaut 'Galaxy' Chiffon Cake

My humble attempt at a "Galaxy" chiffon cake, inspired by the "milky way"! My humble video of my Galaxy chiffon cake can be found here! Since Father's day was coming, I thought to post on cake on a 'Super man' in space! Actually I was trying to depict an Astronaut who had just conquered the moon lol.. Thank God cake was well-received!

Thank God for the 'Super dads' we have! I am on holiday break, so will be slightly slower in my replies, please bear with me! =)

With lots of love,

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Cute Wechat Emoji Macarons (Early Father's Day present and tips included)

I have been slowing down with blogging as I have been/will be busy spending time with family and away on a much needed break! I have been making macarons for my dear hubby for Father's Day for the past three years. And this year, I have decided to make macarons out of our favourite wechat emoji icons because they have a special meaning for us :)

Bear, hamster and cat who are the best of friends!

I have included some tips on making macarons that can survive transport and room temperature storage for extended periods at the end of this post.

I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping bear

Piping cat

Piping hamster

Freshly baked shells!

I filled the macarons with dark chocolate ganache and lemon curd

Checkout the awesome feet and cute face!

I brought these cuties along on a trip and the macarons survived after being roughed about on bumpy bus and speedboat ride. They tasted fine too even after staying out of the fridge for 2 days. Some tips to consider when you want to make macarons that can survive like mine did.

1 . Try to go for designs that are generally rounder in shape without long thin parts sticking out of the shell so that they are less fragile.

2. Place each macaron in paper cupcake cases to add some cushioning.

3. Consider ganache based fillings if you would like to transport the macarons overseas where refrigeration along the way may not be possible. They can be kept out of the fridge at warm room temperature (27℃) for three days without going bad.

4. Make the ganache firmer than you usually would by increasing the proportion of chocolate to cream. You may refer to this recipe for the dark chocolate ganache I used but add 30-40g more dark chocolate to the recipe.

5. If you have runny centers for fillings like lemon curd, jam or salted caramel, try not to add too much as it will make the shells soggy fast. Try to encase most of the runny filling with ganache such that not much runny filling comes into direct contact with the shells. Recipe for lemon curd can be found here but replace lime with lemon.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Saturday, 3 June 2017

‘Pusheen Cat' Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

I love black sesame flavour but the colour isn’t the sweetest colour, so when I got this Pusheen request which is grey in colour, I was happy to try it again. I actually made Black sesame chiffon way back when I started baking. The original recipe I tried from Okashi few years back uses soy milk and brown sugar for the egg yolk batter, so feel free to substitute with these. Mine is a lighter version in terms of texture (as I use more meringue) with the same flavour intensity (if I remember the taste correctly).

Briefly I made the Pusheen by joining a 6-inch tube pan with a ball cake pan chiffon cake at the top. The same black sesame chiffon recipe is used for the 6-inch pan and ball pan, which I have shared below. The hands, feet and ears are from cake pops molds.

Black Sesame Chiffon Cake (6-inch tube pan or ball cake pan)
Egg yolk batter
3 egg yolks
6g caster sugar
38g vegetable/corn oil
20g black sesame paste
50g fresh milk
3g vanilla extract
60g Prima cake flour

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
45g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. *Optional: I used steam baking, i.e. I placed a pan of water under the lowest rack before preheating – to control oven temperature, prevent cracks and for moister texture.

2. Whisk egg yolks with sugar until light, fluffy and well-mixed.

3. Whisk in oil, black sesame paste, milk and vanilla extract in that order until well combined.

4. Whisk in sifted cake flour and mix till well-combined.

5. Prepare meringue:

In a grease-free, dry metal bowl, using electric mixer, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar till foamy. Gradually add in the castor sugar and whisk at high speed till firm peaks form, or just the point of stiff peak.

6. Gently fold meringue into egg yolk batter with a flexible spatula 1/3 at a time, till no streaks remain.

7. Pour the batter into a 6-inch tube pan.

*Same recipe is used for the ball cake pan with some excess for cake pop molds.

8. Baking conditions:

6-inch tube pan: Bake at 160°C for 15 min, 140°C for 25+ min, or until skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.

Ball pan: 160°C for 15 min, 140°C for 20+ min, or until skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.

Cake pops (3-cm for limbs and 5-cm for ears): 160°C for 12-15 min.

**If you use steam baking, you may need to bake for a few more minutes. You may need to adjust the baking time, depending on your oven.

9. Invert tube pan to cool on a wire rack completely. No need to invert for ball pans and cake pop molds.

10. Unmould the chiffon cake by hand (see video tutorial ‘Hand unmoulding Chiffon cakes for a clean finishing’).

Stack the 6-inch chiffon cake with the ball pan chiffon cake. The whiskers are from licorice string candy. I cut the facial features from charcoal sheet cakes but you can also pipe on with melted chocolate. The scarf is cut out from plain chiffon sheet cake. I pinched the 5-cm cake pops at the tips for the ears. The hat is also made from rainbow chiffon cone pops (in Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes) - picture below from the book.

The 'cupcake' is also made from chiffon cake by baking chiffon cake in a cupcake liner and a 5-cm cake pop mold. I assembled the parts using melted marshmallows or chocolate as 'glue'.

Lots of work went behind this cake so it's a bit hard to describe everything =p. Hope you like this cute creation and yummy black sesame flavour! Thankful cake was very well-received too!

With lots of love,

More picture tutorials here..

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

'Enchanted Garden' Matcha Azuki Bean Chiffon Sponge & Pudding Cake (with 3D macaron decorations!)

Adventurous me is out to try something new again! And this time it's for my mum's birthday cake. Presenting my first Charlotte cake in Matcha Azuki bean flavour!

Decorated with 3D macaron shells!

I was so thrilled to see the cut cross section of the cake. Yums!

Actually this bake came about because I had some ladyfingers at home and I thought better use it and not waste it. I made this sponge and pudding cake Charlotte cake style for a change. As usual, the cake was light, tasty and not too sweet. Even hubby who doesn't normally eat cake gave a thumbs up. I made this flavour of cake before but tweaked the sponge cake recipe. You may have a look at my first attempt here.

Recipe for Matcha chiffon sponge cake
Ingredients (makes one 10x12" and one 7x7"sheet cake):
3 egg yolks
5g caster sugar
42g canola/vegetable oil
6g (1tbs) Matcha powder
34g hot water
10g honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g cake flour
A pinch of salt

4 egg whites
50g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Line the baking trays with baking sheet. Set oven rack to second lowest position and preheat to 170℃.

2. Dissolve Matcha powder and honey in hot water. Strain mixture through fine sieve to remove large lumps. Set aside to cool.

3. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until well combined. Add Matcha mixture and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Gradually sift in flour and salt. Whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

4. Prepare meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar using an electric mixer until firm peaks form, gradually adding in sugar once the egg whites appear foamy.

5. Quickly but gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in three batches. Scoop the batter into the prepared baking trays. Tap the trays on the table to release trapped air bubbles.

6. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Remove from tray immediately and cool with another baking sheet covering the cake.

Freshly baked Matcha chiffon cake

You may bake the cakes in advance and freeze it after wrapping with two layers of cling wrap. If you are assembling straight away, cut the cakes according to the size of your springform pan/ mould for assembly. My springform pan is about 7.5". I cut 6" round cakes as I had to account for the thickness of the ladyfingers. You may omit the ladyfingers if you would like to enjoy the sponge and pudding cake as it is.

Recipe for Matcha Azuki bean pudding
180g evaporated milk
375g water
3.5 tsp Matcha powder (Use premium type for best taste. Use bakeable type if you want to retain a more vibrant green colour)
40g hot water
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
85g caster sugar (you may add more if you prefer sweeter cake. My family prefers less sweet)
1/8 tsp salt
3 tsp agar powder
150-200g canned Azuki beans (I used less as my mum prefers a less sweet cake)

60g custard powder (do not use the instant types)
350g water

1. Combine all ingredients in B) in a jug. Stir until custard powder dissolves. Set aside.

2. Dissolve Matcha powder in hot water to form a paste. Put all ingredients in A) (except Azuki beans) into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously.

3. When the mixture in A) is boiling, stir B) again and slowly pour into A). Continue to stir until mixture boils. Continue to stir while boiling for a couple of minutes more. Sieve the mixture.

Note that a skin will form quickly when the pudding is exposed to air. You may place a piece of cling wrap touching the surface of the pudding if you wish to prevent the skin from forming.

Line the base of the springform pan with clingwrap if you wish to transfer the cake to cakeboard in an upright manner. There is no hard and fast rule in assembling the cake. You may start/end with cake or pudding, depending on how you want to display the cake. I will just show the steps for how I did it.

1. Pour a thin layer of pudding such that it covers the base of the springform pan. Place a ring of ladyfingers as shown in the first picture below. Place a layer of chiffon cake on the pudding. Press the cake down firmly to make sure no air bubbles trapped.

2. Pour more pudding to cover the sponge cake. Add some Azuki beans (second picture below).

3. Pour a little pudding to partially cover the beans (third picture).

4. Place a sponge cake over and press down firmly (fourth picture).

5. Repeat for as many layers as you wish. Chill the assembled cake in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

To transfer the whole assembly to cakeboard, release the catch of the springform pan and carefully remove the ring. Lift the whole cake up with the help of the clingwrap at the base of the cake. Place the cake on the cakeboard. Carefully remove the clingwrap by rolling it under the cake.

Tie the cake with a pretty ribbon and add deco as you wish :)

Assembled cake!

I decided to make some simple 3D macaron deco for the cake. I had the idea of mushroom macarons some time back but never had the chance to try it out. Now I finally can :). You may refer to this post for making 3D hedgehog macarons.

I made some modelling white chocolate for the mushroom stems. The ratio of light corn syrup:white chocolate that I used was 32g:100g. I added a bit of white powder food colouring to lighten up the colour. You may refer to this post on how to prepare the modelling chocolate. I filled the hedgehog with a combination of dark chocolate and whipped Pandan white chocolate ganache.

Modelling white chocolate

Cute mushrooms and hog!

I have to thank hubby for taking quite a few nice pictures of the cake when we were eating it at a restaurant.

Looking cute!

Hedgehog looks like it is peeking over the fence.. :p

Gorgeous cross section!

Another view of a slice of cake


We really enjoyed the cake. My kids had the macarons of course because mummy can't take too much sugar. As always, there is always room for sponge and pudding cakes after a sumptuous meal because it is light and refreshing :).

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

‘Animal Family’ Pull apart Chiffon Cupcakes (Pull apart 'buns')

Happy 11th year wedding anniversary!! These are my first Pull apart Chiffon Cupcakes in a ring, inspired by those cute pull apart buns. I made this as a surprise for hubby as a special memory of our 11th year together (now with 3 more little ones). This ‘Animal family’ represents our small sweet family of 5 and our favorite animals/characters! Can you tell who is who?

(Obvious hints: Those who knew me in jc know that my favourite character is in pink ;). My son is my hubby’s mini ‘me’. My girls look alike and love the animal that ‘meows’).

I used my basic chiffon recipe below, and baked it in 2 bigger glass bowls (11.5 diameter) and 3 smaller bowls (8 cm diameter). Do look for thicker bake proof bowls, Pyrex or Iwaki brand.

I divided by batter roughly into 3 parts for the different animals/colours.

Egg yolk batter
3 egg yolks
20g castor sugar
39g vegetable/corn oil
42g water
5g vanilla extract
60g Prima cake flour, sifted

4 egg whites
45g castor sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter:

a. Whisk egg yolk with sugar using hand whisk until light and well-mixed.

b. Add in oil first, then water and vanilla extract and mix well.

c. Whisk in sifted cake flour and whisk well, ensuring that no lumps are formed.

3. Divide the batter into 3 parts.
To the first portion, leave plain. To the second portion, add approximately 1/5 of a teaspoon of strawberry paste/emulco. To the last portion, add approximately 1 teaspoon pumpkin powder. *You may substitute with your preferred food coloring/flavour.

4. Prepare meringue:

a. In a grease-free, dry bowl, using electric mixer, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar till frothy.

b. Add in ½ castor sugar for meringue and whisk at high speed till soft peaks form - peaks slope downwards forming a hook.

c. Add in rest of the castor sugar for meringue and whisk till firm peaks form - peaks point up but slightly hooked at the tip.

5. Divide the meringue into 3.

6. Fold in meringue gently into each colored egg yolk batter 1/3 at a time. *Fold in unidirectional, gentle strokes and do not overfold.

7. Fill the bowls with the batter till 3/4 full.

8. Bake at 160°C for 10 min then at 140°C for 20-25 min, or until skewer inserted into center of cakes come out clean.

9. Pour excess pink batter into 15-cm baking pan lined with baking paper. Pour excess plain and orange batter into cake pops molds. These are for the ears. Bake at 160°C for 15 min.

10. Allow to cool completely on wire rack, before unmolding by hand.

I used charcoal chiffon sheet cakes (from another bake) to cut out facial features using bento cutters. You can also pipe on using melted chocolate. I cut out ears from the sheet cakes/cake pops and used melted marshmallows to stick everything together. You can also use melted white chocolate to stick them together. 

Hope you like my simple, sweet ‘family of 5’ pull apart buns! Thank God for the blessings of family!

With lots of love,

More loving, chiffon creations here =)

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