Sunday 30 March 2014

Hidden Rainbow Strawberry Chiffon Cake for Baby Shower

I like to pattern chiffons because my family do not like fattening cream or fondant (they call sugar paste!). Since I love rainbows, I decided I would decorate my baby shower chiffon with rainbows. I had the sudden inspiration to do "hidden rainbows" in the cake from a dream I had during the second week of my confinement (I am forever dreaming of chiffons!). 

Be prepared to spend 6 hours for this cake! In between taking care of baby and the kids, I took 2 days just to bake this cake! It was truly a labour of love, but I'm happy with how it turned out! ^_^. 

I used the recipe from my earlier post Valentine's Day Hearts-in-all-directions Strawberry Chiffon Cake for the letters and chiffon cake (requires 3 hrs). This cake requires an additional step of making chiffon rainbows (another 3 hrs). I made them vanilla-flavoured for an extra flavour to be embedded in the cake. 

Chiffon rainbows (makes three 4-inch round bowls)
3 egg yolks
20g sugar
35g vegetable oil
45ml boiled water
60g cake flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Wilton colours for rainbow

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

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar with whisk till foamy before stirring in oil, water and vanilla extract. Next add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour found.
3. Divide egg yolk batter into 6. Add in a tiny dip of wilton colour and mix thoroughly.
4. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till stiff peak, mixing in caster sugar in 2 additions.
5. Divide the meringue into 6 and scoop into the egg yolk batter.
6. Gently but quickly fold in egg whites into the 6 egg yolk batters till well combined and scoop the cake batter into the round glass bowls (in the sequence of rainbow colours).
*For steps 5 and 6, must work quickly before meringue breaks down.
7. Bake the cakes in the preheated 160°C oven for 30-35 min.
8. Unmould as soon as the cakes are cool. 
9. Shape the cakes into rainbow arc shape using a baking sheet (roll it slightly) and slice it into rainbows.

Aren't the rainbows pretty? :)

After this, bake the layer cake and chiffon cake according to the recipe from my earlier post Valentine's Day Hearts-in-all-directions Strawberry Chiffon Cake. Lastly, the clouds are made by sifting icing sugar (or dessicated coconut if you prefer) onto the cake with a "cloud" template.

Isn't a slice pretty? :)

Thank God the experiment turned out well. The chiffon cake was extremely soft and light, and family commented it was very pretty on the outside! The best part was that the hidden rainbows came out really pretty when we sliced the cake open!

Happy 1 month to my little sweet baby Charissa :)

With loads of love,

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Friday 28 March 2014

Rainbow Themed Pandan Kaya Layer Cake

Susanne and I are really excited about our first big project together for Charissa's first month celebration! As Susanne really loves rainbows, we decided to make it rainbow themed. This is the first time we are making a cake for people we don't know too and we are very glad that it has been well received :). Presenting our 10x10" Rainbow Pandan Kaya Cake!

We used the recipe from my earlier post for Pandan Kaya chiffon cake but upsized it. This cake is made from two 10x10" pandan cakes using 2 egg yolks and 3 egg whites each, a separate black colored pandan cake using 1 egg yolk and 1.5 egg whites for the name "Charissa", and about 2 liters worth of pandan kaya fudge.

We baked the 2 uncolored pandan kaya cakes and 1 black cake 2 days before serving. Susanne has kindly offered to bake one plain and one colored cake despite still being in confinement. She used cookie cutters to cut out the letters for the name. We kept the cakes tightly cling wrapped and refrigerated until it is time to assemble the cakes and fudge.

I made the rainbow fudge using the following portion of ingredients:

143g coconut milk
75ml pandan water*
34g caster sugar
1/2 tsp agar powder

14g custard powder
75ml pandan water
A pinch of salt

Approximate weight of fudge for color portioning (I used gel food coloring)
Red: 70g
Orange: 60g
Yellow: 50g
Green: 40g
Blue: 35g
Purple: 30g

By the time I finished coloring the fudge, the consistency is about right for piping onto the cake tin. I had to keep stirring the fudge every few minutes to prevent it from setting as I worked on piping the rainbow. I drew a rainbow template on a baking sheet, cover it with another clean baking sheet and placed both sheets at the bottom of the 10 inch square tin. Here's how I piped, laid out the letters of the name, added in some heart shaped fudge decoration and layered the cake with alternate layers of fudge and cake.

Piping was done using a piping tip adapter without a tip because I realised the round opening of the adapter is just the right size (1cm) for piping the rainbow. I had to use a chopstick to pull the fudge a bit such that it fills the template nicely. The rainbow was refrigerated while I prepared the plain pandan kaya fudge using the following portion of ingredients:

955g coconut milk
500ml pandan water
225g sugar
1tbs + 3/4 tsp agar powder

94g custard powder
500ml pandan water
3/4 tsp green liquid food coloring
1/3 tsp yellow liquid food coloring
1/3 tsp salt

This portion of plain fudge was way too much and I had lots of leftover. I decided to err on the side of making too much than too little for this first attempt. In the future I would prepare 3/4 of the amount above. I placed the cake tin on top of reusable freezer packs to prevent the warm plain fudge from melting the rainbow as I layered the cake. Layering the cake was pretty tricky as the cakes were so soft and they were at risk of tearing. I was pretty relieved to have them in in more or less one piece :P. I poured the excess fudge into heart-shaped moulds and let them set for personal consumption.

After refrigerating for 2 hours, it was time to unmould the cake. *Nervous*

Eeks! Was my first response. Nice piping work and deco but it's WRINKLED! I was suspecting that that might happen as I lined the tin with baking sheets. Next time I should invest in some edible glue and glue the sheets down! I went ahead to add dessicated coconut for the clouds and the sides of the cake as I decided on how I should patch the cake. Doing up another batch of fudge to cover up the wrinkles was too time consuming so the first thought was, add dessicated coconut to the whole surface to cover up the wrinkles. Then I thought why not color the coconut flakes blue! As I was running out of time I just decided to go ahead and be gungho and experiment. I put some dessicated coconut in a ziplock bag and added about 1/4 tsp of blue liquid food coloring. I shook the bag until the flakes were more or less evenly colored and carefully covered the top surface of the cake with blue flakes.

*Phew* that doesn't look too bad although looks can be improved. I carefully packed this baby into a box with our very own sticker label....and keep my fingers crossed.

When I received the news that everyone loved the cake with it's right balance of flavours, I was really relieved (especially after the booboo with the wrinkles) and encouraged. Thank God that it turned out well! Susanne's hubby has kindly taken a photo of how the cake looks like inside:

And now I can enjoy the yummy leftover pandan kaya fudge, which I shared with my neighbors.

It's been a great learning experience for us and we are so glad to share our creation with others :).

We are submitting our post to Aspiring Bakers #40: Rainbow and Ombre Party! (March 2014) hosted by Cynthia of The Baking Biatch.

With love,
Phay Shing & Susanne

* I boiled 1.5L of water with 8 pandan leaves cut into 2cm strips for 5 minutes then set aside to cool.

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Tuesday 25 March 2014

Osmanthus Macarons with Osmanthus Pastry Cream and Wolfberries

My successful attempt at making green tea macarons motivated me to try making macarons again, particularly tea flavored ones as the green tea macs were really yummy without being overly sweet. Just as matcha and azuki beans are a natural pair, osmanthus tea and wolfberries are often paired together too. I happen to have osmanthus tea leaves and dried wolfberries at home so I didn't wait to get started. Here's my round and flower-shaped osmanthus macarons with osmanthus pastry cream filling topped with succulent wolfberries! Had a busy day so I only did simple decoration on four macaron shells.

Most recipes you find from the internet for making tea flavored macarons involve grinding almond, icing sugar and dried tea leaves/flowers together. I don't have an appliance at home suitable for this step and I didn't want to risk the almond powder forming a paste during the grinding process so I resorted to a primitive but very effective method of making fine tea powder from osmanthus tea flowers!

I took 6g of osmanthus flowers, lay them out in a thin layer on a tray and toasted them at 100 degrees Celsius for half an hour. This is to dry the flowers completely. I poured the flowers into the mortar you see in the picture and pound away for a few minutes until I got tea powder. I sifted the powder with a fine sieve and put any dried flower bits that couldn't pass through the sieve back into the mortar and rework it for a couple of minutes until almost all the dried flower bits could pass through the fine sieve.

The recipe for making osmanthus macaron shells is exactly the same as that for matcha macarons except that you replace green tea powder with osmanthus tea powder. I added a teeny bit of yellow gel food coloring to the almond powder, icing sugar, egg white and tea powder mixture to bring some color to the final product. My mixture looks like this:

I was careful to turn up the speed of my stand mixer when pouring the syrup into the egg whites this time and it only took me 4.5 minutes to get a smooth and stiff meringue.

I am still trying to get the hang of gauging how much to fold during the macaronage stage and I think I may have overfolded a little this time as the feet of the macaron shells were smaller and some of the flower shaped ones had no feet! They still look great when piped onto the trays :P

I used a cookie cutter as the stencil to draw a template for piping the flower-shaped macarons. I used a similar piping technique as the one that I used for piping heart-shaped green tea macarons for these flower-shaped ones. I.e. Instead of filling the flower shapes on the template completely with batter, I "drew" the flowers by:
1. Position piping tip vertically over the center of a petal and squeeze the piping bag.
2. When the petal is almost filled (about 2mm away from the template border), drag the tip towards the center of the flower as you gradually release the pressure on your piping bag.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all the other petals.

Filling the templates right up to the border will result in flower patterns that look like irregular shaped blobs.

Freshly baked macaron shells!

I decorated four macaron shells with some chopped wolfberries that have been soaked and patted dry with paper towels and two tiny osmanthus flowers for the round macs. I painted the tops of the shells with dilute royal icing sugar and stuck the decorations on. The royal icing sugar that I use is the just-add-water type.

Recipe for osmanthus pastry cream is adapted from here. I halved the recipe for my small portion of macarons and reduced the amount if sugar by a teaspoon or two. I also strained the pastry cream before transferring it into a bowl and covering it with cling wrap touching the surface of the pastry cream. It's my first time filling macarons with pastry cream and I love it for it's simplicity and the fact that it uses up the left over egg yolks from making the shells. After letting the pastry cream set for 4 hours, I filled the shells and topped the cream with dried wolfberries that have been soaked in osmanthus tea for 5-10 minutes and dried with paper towels. I didn't want to risk the juicy wolfberries thinning out the pastry cream so I didn't fold them in although that would have made the work easier.

We had some friends over at our house tonight and they enjoyed the macarons :). My younger kid loves it too although my elder one prefered the macs without the wolfberries (that kid thinks it's strange to put wolfberries in desserts). If you are a fan of osmanthus tea and wolfberry combination, this would be a wonderful sweet treat for you!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 24 March 2014

Pig Pig Rockmelon Chiffon Cake

I dream of chiffon cakes pretty often :p In fact many of my creations came from dreams! One night, I dreamt of a pig pig chiffon with a very talented friend who loves pigs (I am a pig lover too)! However, I had to shelve the inspiration because I didn't have any round bowls to bake the chiffon in. When my mum brought over some glass dessert bowls and a friend was coming to visit, I finally had the chance to try out the idea!

I wanted to try rockmelon chiffon as I thought that the taste and colour would go very well with a pig pig chiffon. It was also a fragrant fruit loved by the family. I couldn't find any rockmelon chiffon cake recipes on the web, so I had to improvise. I replaced all the juice in my favourite chiffon recipe with fresh rockmelon puree. Recipe and picture tutorial on how to assemble the pig are detailed below =)

Ingredients (makes three 4” pigs and one 7” layer cake)

3 egg yolks
20g sugar
35g vegetable oil
45ml rockmelon puree
60g cake flour

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

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar with whisk till pale yellow before stirring in oil and rockmelon puree (I pureed fresh rockmelon cubes with a blender).
3. Next add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour found.
4. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till firm peaks, mixing in caster sugar in 2 additions.
5. Fold the rest of the meringue into the rest of the egg yolk batter in 3 additions using flexible spatula or hand.
6. Pour in the cake batter gently into the bowls and 7” tray. Level the batter in the tray and gently tap tray on table to remove air bubbles.
7. Bake the cakes in bowls for 30 minutes and the 7” tray cake for 15 min.
8. Invert the bowls once they are removed from oven. Unmould when they are cool.
9. After the layer cake cools, flip over the cake onto a clean baking sheet. Use cookie cutters and a butter knife to cut out the tail, nose and ears from the layer cake (see picture below).
- Use the hearts cookie cutter 2x to cut out a curved tail.
- Use the round cookie cutter to cut out the nose (I didn't have a round cookie cutter so I used a round cap instead). Then use a straw to cut out the nostrils.
- Use a butter knife to cut small triangles for the ears.
10. Melt some white compound chocolate in a microwave (30 sec), use a brush to apply it on the underside of the cut-out cakes, then stick the pig features onto the pig cake (see picture below). I used a mixture with melted marshmallows for stronger glue.

I didn't have enough time to assemble the pig cake in time for my friend's visit in the end because I was busy with the baby! Good thing there was a lot of leftover layer cake. I made some cut-out flowers and hearts to put in cupcakes for her =)

The cake was very soft and had a nice "melon-ny" and pleasant taste. But I thought that the rockmelon taste could be stronger so I will increase the proportion of rockmelon puree in the liquid proportion of the cake next time.

With love,


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Thursday 20 March 2014

Turtle Red Bean Steamed Bun and Rose Mantou

"Mama, can you make some dou sha bao?"
"OK :)"
I have some homemade red bean paste in the freezer at the moment (I made them because of the sudden urge to make matcha macarons with azuki white chocolate fillings) so I agreed to the request. I haven't made steamed buns for ages and I guess it's about time! Presenting my turtle baos with red bean filling and rose mantous! I took the liberty of using green tea to add some natural coloring to the buns.

The inspiration for patterning the turtle shells came at the last minute as I was staring at my little one's pink stuffed toy turtle with dark pink patterns. The buns were in the steamer by then.

I used the same recipe as I did for my rainbow piggy char siew baos but scaled all ingredients to a portion using 110g of bao flour. I colored 150g of dough with green tea paste (1tsp of green tea mixed with some water to form a paste) and left the rest uncolored. I proofed the colored and plain dough separately. Being a busy mum meant that sometimes it is hard to control the proofing time. My dough ended up proofing until it tripled in size! This portion of dough is just enough to make 4 turtle red bean buns and 4 plain rose mantous.

Begin making the turtle buns by portioning the plain dough, green dough and red bean paste as shown in the picture below. Weight of each ball:
Plain: 9g
Green: 28g
Red bean paste: 23g (You may want to use store-bought ones for convenience. If you made your own like me, it may be better to add a bit of oil into the paste for added moisture.)

Wrap each ball of red bean paste with a flattened ball of green dough, pinch seal and place the pinched side down on a small square sheet of baking paper. Take a plain ball and pinch out 4g of it to form the head of the turtle. Portion 1g each for the flippers/ legs and tail with the tail having slightly less dough than the flippers. Attach the features to the body of the turtle. Attach 2 black sesame seeds for the eyes and secure them by pressing a toothpick into the seeds. Cover loosely with cling wrap for the second proof.

Assemble the rose mantous by dividing the remaining plain and green dough into balls of 5-6g each. You should have 7 balls of each color. Flatten each ball and arrange them in alternate colors as shown in the picture below. Roll the whole line of flattened balls up and use a bench scraper (or knife) to cut the roll into 2. Place each rose onto a small piece of baking paper.

A few things to note:
1. Work as quickly as you can when assembling the baos and mantous. If you take too long, some buns may be proofed a lot longer than others. That's why I prefer working with small quantity of dough.
2. Lightly flour the work surface and your hands so the dough doesn't stick when you are flattening it or shaping it. Any sticking and pulling of the dough will result in skin surface that is not smooth.
3. Use room temperature fillings as far as possible so that proofing time will not be affected. Buns with frozen or refrigerated fillings need longer proofing times.
4. Do not add baking powder directly into the flour mixture as it may cause yellow spots to form on bao surface.

Waiting for half an hour before we are ready to be steamed!

I made more green tea paste and used the blunt end of the chopstick to make square imprints on the shell of the turtles. I printed the shell patterns after the buns were steamed. I am not sure if the patterns would be just as nice if printed before steaming. I re-steamed the frozen buns and the patterns still appear fine :).

Freshly steamed roses!

Soft and fluffy insides!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday 18 March 2014

Matcha Macarons with Azuki Beans and White Chocolate Ganache

This is a bake that happened because I had leftover cream from making no-bake rainbow cheesecakes with my kids. Although macarons are generally too sweet for me, I thought of giving it a shot again with green tea flavor, hoping that the slight bitter taste of the tea will make the final product less overwhelmingly sweet. I was wondering what to fill it with.... ganache of some sort definitely since I really wanted to use up the cream. White chocolate perhaps, was my first thought. Then I thought why not add in azuki bean paste since matcha and azuki beans are a perfect pair. Then I got all excited about it and couldn't wait to get started! Instead of waiting for the weekend to come so that I can get my hands on good quality azuki bean paste from Isetan, I made my own with some red beans that I have at home. And of course I also couldn't resist the chance to pretty up the macs :P.

As I have a stand mixer at home now (thank you dear hubby!) and I really couldn't wait for the egg whites to age for 2 days, I decided to use the Italian method to make this batch of macarons. There were some hiccups along the way and I thought it was going to be a disaster, but the macarons were very well received and they were being eaten faster than there was time for them to mature! My dad who really can't stand food that is too sweet said that this is good, and so did a friend of mine who used to work as a pastry chef in a hotel. My neighbor who tried it said she would buy some from me next time!

No credit to me actually. From now on I think I will stick with the Italian method although it has a higher sugar content. It seems much more forgiving than the French method. My ex-pastry chef friend also said that there is no danger of over-beating the Italian meringue. Sounds good to me!

I began my adventure by making the red bean paste. I followed the steps closely from Just One Cookbook but used only 150g of beans and 125g of sugar. Here's the result after 2 hours of simmering:

I portioned the red bean paste into 50g packages, kept 100g in the fridge for the ganache and freeze the rest for future use.

I adapted the macaron recipe from here but made quite a few modifications so I will type out my version.

Ingredients for matcha macaron shells (makes about 54 shells):
90g almond powder
90g icing sugar
5g matcha powder
90g egg whites, divided into 2 equal portions (about 2-3 eggs, no aging required)
100g caster sugar
76g water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
1 tsp egg white powder (optional)

1. Sift together almond powder, icing sugar and green tea powder in a large bowl. You may choose to grind everything together but I prefer to sift. I bought superfine ground almond from Phoon Huat and it's really fine, much better than the ones I get from regular supermarkets.

2. Add 45g of egg whites into the almond mixture and mix to form a thick paste.
3. Place caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring it to boil without stirring. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the syrup. I used a meat thermometer for this. When the temperature reaches about 100 degrees Celsius, whisk the other 45g of egg whites with cream of tartar and egg white powder until firm peaks form. Turn the mixer speed to low if the syrup is still not heated to the required temperature to keep the egg whites moving.
4. When the temperature of the syrup reaches 118 degrees Celsius, slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites down the side of the mixing bowl in a steady stream while whipping at high speed constantly. I didn't turn up the speed of the mixer when I poured the syrup and as a result my meringue turned out lumpy! I went ahead to proceed with the macaronage anyway thinking that it's a learning experience and fully expecting the macs to fail. Continue to whip until thick, shiny and cooled but a little warm. This should take about 10 minutes.
5. Fold the meringue into the almond paste using a spatula in 3 additions in a fold-press-turn (the bowl) motion until your batter is of a consistency of smooth moving lava. To test if your batter is ready, make a ribbon trail with your batter and it should disappear within 30 seconds. If the trail still remains, give a couple of folds and test again. If your batter is too runny, you have overfolded. It took me 33 folds for this small batch.
6. Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 5mm round nozzle. Pipe the shells onto two layers of baking sheet. I chose to pipe round and heart shaped shells. A template drawn/ printed on the lower piece of baking sheet helps :).

If you are piping heart shapes, do not pipe according to the outline of your template as the batter will spread, making the dip in the middle of the heart shape disappear. Instead, draw a letter "V" starting from the left and down into the valley of the "V", and then from the right and down into the valley of the "V". Let the batter spread for a while before gently using a toothpick to pull the batter to fill the template or piping a bit more batter to fill larger spaces.
7. Bang the trays on the table a few times to release any air trapped in the batter. Leave it to dry until the tops of the shells are dry to touch. Mine took about 2 hours of drying in an air-conditioned room in hot and humid Singapore.
8. Bake the macarons in a preheated oven at 140 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the baking try to prevent the macs from browning and bake for another 12 minutes or until the macarons are able to be lifted off the baking sheets easily. Let the macarons cool before attempting to remove all of them from the baking sheets.

I was fully expecting horrible macarons since my meringue was still grainy at the end of whipping for 10 minutes but they all turned out pretty well! All my macs have feet and none of them were cracked! Surface could have been smoother but I guess it is expected since my meringue wasn't exactly perfect.

I decorated 6 of them with green tea paste (green tea powder mixed with a bit of water) and royal icing sugar. I used the just-add-water type of royal icing, which I used for making iced gems. Small paintbrushes for food came in handy for this arty part of the bake :).

As the designs are drying, you may proceed to make the ganache. Or if you would like to fill the macs earlier, you may prepare the ganache while the macarons are drying out. I wasn't sure that they would turn out well so I waited until they were baked before preparing the filling.

Ingredients for azuki white chocolate ganache:
80g whipping cream
160g white chocolate, finely chopped
100g azuki bean paste (you may use store bought ones)

1. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler while heating the whipping cream in a small sauce pan until it starts to simmer.
2. Pour the cream into the white chocolate and keep stirring until you form a smooth mixture. 
3. Let it cool a bit before refrigerating for 2 hours.
4. Pat the red bean paste dry with kitchen paper towels, letting the paper soak up any excess moisture. I didn't do this for 50g worth of red bean paste and as a result my ganache took really long to set and wasn't very firm.
5. Mix in the red bean paste into the ganache and put it back in the fridge for another 2 hours.
6. Spoon or pipe the ganache onto macaron shells and refrigerate it. Best served after one or two days for the flavor to mature. 

Most of mine didn't last a day! And it's supposed to be even yummier after waiting a little longer! Here's a peek at how it looks like when you take a bite...

You may fill these green tea macaron shells with azuki buttercream instead and it would be great as well. I was trying to finish the cream at home so I experimented with ganache. Really glad that this bake turned out well despite the booboo with Italian meringue and azuki white chocolate ganache.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday 16 March 2014

Segmented and Psychedelic Mini No-Bake Rainbow Cheesecake -- Fun (but messy) holiday activity with kids

When I realized that I had almost all the ingredients I need to make a no-bake cheesecake, I jumped at the chance to make mini rainbow cheesecakes with the kids now that the school holidays are here. Here's my neat segmented rainbow cheesecake (different from the typical ones with various colors in concentric circles) and our psychedelic rainbow cheesecakes!

The psychedelic cakes at the front row are made by my kids and the one behind is made by me. This is a really simple yet fun activity parents can do with kids from the age of 2 onwards, with older kids taking on more responsibility in the "baking" process.

Segmented rainbow cheesecakes have the added advantage of you not having to work out how much batter to portion for each color because the amount is the same. We begin by making the color separator for the segmented cheesecakes with aluminum foil.

Older kids can help to work out the math of making the separator and actually making it like an art and craft activity. Measure the diameter of the base of your muffin pan. I used a jumbo muffin pan. Using the known dimensions of your muffin pan, form 6 triangular "tents" with an equilateral triangle at the base. Make sure that the separator has at least 2 layers of foil and the height is at least a few centimeters above the top surface of your pan. Use scotch tape to tape the tents together. You may want to wash and dry the separator for hygiene reasons as the cake is not baked.

I used the recipe printed on the packaging of Philadelphia cream cheese but with amount of sugar reduced (yes, you may have noticed that I almost always reduce the sugar content of any recipe that I come across :P), the quantity halved and vanilla essence added in.

1/2 cup + 2 tbs crushed digestive biscuits
40g melted butter
250g Light Philadelphia Cream Cheese block, softened
55g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp gelatine, dissolved in 2 tbs boiling water
1/2 cup cream
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Gel food coloring

1. Crush the digestive biscuits. Here's my little one helping me to do the job:

2. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter and press into silicone cupcake holders/ muffin pan lined with paper cupcake liners. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Beat cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer until smooth. If you don't have an electric mixer at home, you may use a wooden/ metal spoon to soften the cream cheese and a hand whisk to mix in all the ingredients. Just make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature and it should be soft enough to work with. Beat in gelatine mixture until well combined. Add cream and lemon juice, continue beating until smooth. Gently fold in the lemon zest.

4. Divide the batter equally among 6 ziplock bags and color them with food coloring. This is a non-messy way of coloring the batter with less bowls and spoons to wash! Rub the bags with your hands to mix in the coloring until it is evenly colored.

5. Snip off a corner of each bag (Small hole only please! The batter is pretty runny!) and pipe the batter onto the biscuit base. If you are making psychedelic cakes, just pipe the colors in any way that you want. Strive to be messy to achieve a truly psychedelic look!

If you are making the more classy segmented ones, place your color separator onto the biscuit base and pipe in one color at a time. Some batter may leak out from the bottom but that is OK. Just try to work as fast as you can. Gently lift off the separator until it is just above the surface of the cake and let the batter that is stuck on it fall to the cake, then lift it off in one quick motion. Wipe off any excess batter from the base of the separator before working on another cake. If the boundary between colors appears messy, you may use a chopstick or a small food brush to "clean up" the lines.

6. You may wish to decorate it with cupcake toppers like us but that's optional. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set and serve it cold.

The psychedelic rainbow cheese cakes are really beautiful on the inside!

Like me, you will have a rainbow mess to clean up.... but a beautiful one :)

Hope you and your kids have a great time this March school holiday!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Cooked Dough Pandan Chiffon Cake

I know I’m not supposed to touch anything during this period but the cooked dough chiffon craze in Culinary Kitchenette started by the very lovely Angel Wan really got my hands itchy! I couldn't wait to try the cooked dough or tang mian method of baking chiffon which supposedly gives the chiffon a very moist fragrant texture. This method which originated from Forbidden Garden, involves cooking butter (to form "cooked dough") instead of using oil.

I adapted the recipe from Wen's Delight, reducing the number of egg yolks from 5 to 4 to yield a softer cake. I found Victoria's Bakes blog's recommendation to cook the dough around 60°C and to fold when warm really helpful. The cooked dough was creamy liquid consistency and very easy to work with especially during the folding with egg whites. Adapted recipe is below:

4 egg yolks
70 g coconut milk
40 g fresh pandan juice
50 g butter
1/8 tsp salt
90 g cake flour

5 egg whites
80 g castor sugar

1. Prepare fresh pandan juice by blending fresh pandan leaves (10 leaves cut into small pieces, omitting the tips) with 50 ml water. Strain with a sieve (top panel) and press out all the liquid with a spoon.
2. Preheat oven at 160°C.
3. Cook coconut milk, butter and pandan juice together till butter melted, while is warmed add in sifted flour and salt and mix well (middle panel).
4. Mix in egg yolks slowly and set aside (bottom left pic). *I kept the cooked dough warm at 60°C else a "skin" layer forms when cool. 
5. Whisk egg whites till stiff peak, adding in sugar in 2 addtions.
6. Add in 1/3 meringue into the cooked dough and fold well (bottom right pic). *You have to fold fast when dough is still warm.
7. Pour this mixture back to the balance meringue and fold well till the mixture is well mix.
8. Pour into a 17cm chiffon mould till 80% full, bake at 160°C for 50 mins.
9. Invert the cake to cool, unmould when completely cooled.

I sifted dessicated coconut over a floral template to make simple floral decorations. I loved the moist, fragrant texture of the chiffon, but found its softness similar to that of normal chiffons, perhaps due to my reducing number of egg yolks by 1 so that the cake is very soft. After chilling, I found it less springy than oil chiffons perhaps due to the butter, but cake retained it moist, creamy texture, perfect for pandan chiffons! On hindsight, I think I like the lighter texture of normal chiffons for fruity chiffons, but this moist fragrant version is excellent for pandan chiffons.

It was a relatively easy and quick bake, perfect for a resting mom :) 

With love,

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Thursday 13 March 2014

Rose Tea and Raspberry Yoghurt Chiffon Cake

I love the aroma of rose tea and it used to be a staple for me when I was expecting my first child (steeped in warm milk sometimes and I get hot Bandung minus the sugar!) and when I felt that the screaming and crying of my first born baby was getting on my nerves. Having bought these beautiful dried roses for home consumption again, I was waiting for a chance to bake a rose tea cake. For added moisture and subtle fruity flavor, I added raspberry yoghurt with some raspberry puree into the batter. Here's my simple but very soft, fluffy and moist bake :).

My parents loved it and took some home to share with my brother. Hubby agreed that the cake is nice too although he prefers it with more sugar added and said that it's a very adult kind of cake with the blend of flavors.

I adapted the recipe from Bake King, trying to be adventurous and testing the limits of how well the cake can hold it's structure while adding as much liquid as possible and using as little flour as possible.

8g dried rose flowers
80ml hot water (not boiling)

3 egg yolks (I used large eggs ~ 65-69g)
15g caster sugar
30g Canola oil
16g raspberry yoghurt (you may use strawberry or plain yoghurt)
6g fresh raspberry puree (press about 5-6 raspberries through a sieve and discard the seeds)
61g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1g (about 2tsp) of finely chopped rose petals

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

1. Add hot water to dried rose flowers and leave to cool. Strain 55ml of rose tea. Set aside.
2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until it turns pale. Add oil, tea, yoghurt and raspberry puree and whisk until well combined.
3. Sift together cake flour and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture and whisk the egg yolk batter until no trace of flour can be seen. 
4. Stir in chopped rose petals.
5. In a clean metal bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the bowl can be overturned without the meringue falling out.
6. Fold in one third of the meringue into the egg yolk batter and mix well. Gently but quickly fold in the rest of the meringue in two additions. My batter looks like this... 

Isn't it pretty with the sprinkling of chopped rose petals?
7. Pour the batter into a 17cm chiffon tin and tap the tin on the table a few times to release any trapped air bubbles.
8. Bake in preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, followed by 150 degrees Celsius for another 25-30 minutes.
9. Immediately invert the tin to cool and gently unmould by hand. Use a spatula to help you release the cake if you are unable to unmould by hand as the cake is very soft.
10. Drizzle the cake with icing or melted white chocolate and garnish with extra rose petals. If you prefer cakes that are not so sweet, skip the icing although it helps to bring out the rose flavor more. Keep the cake chilled in the fridge and in an airtight container. It tastes better chilled :).

Here's a peek at the fine-textured, soft and fluffy insides!

There is some slight shrinkage as I reduced the amount of flour used so you may want to increase the amount of flour by a few grams.

Since this chiffon cake is an "adult cake", I got mixed reviews from my kids. My elder kid thinks the flavor is too strong but my younger one loves it very much. If you prefer a more mellow kind of flavor for cakes that is low in fat, sugar and calories, this is the cake for you :).

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday 10 March 2014

Tomato and Cheese Chiffon "Tomatoes" -- A Savory Chiffon!

I have been wanting to do a savory bake for my mum who has diabetes so I came up with my first savory chiffon. Tomato and cheese chiffon cupcakes!

This is totally experimental and I expected it to fail or taste weird but my mum, hubby and the littlest member of my family gave it a thumbs up! Only my elder kid thinks it's weird and did not want to have more after a nibble. Do not think of this as a chiffon cake when you take a bite of it to enjoy this new creation of mine. It's like a soft and fluffy tomato and cheese focaccia that is loaded with flavor but made almost the same way as regular chiffon cakes. I was pleasantly surprised that the surface of the cakes turned out glossy... like real tomatoes!

Here's the recipe that I came up with (makes 6-8 cupcakes):

Egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks (preferably large eggs)
35g tomato puree (I used canned ones but you can make your own)
22g light olive oil
10g finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning (you may add more but I didn't want the herbs to spoil the "tomato" look)
37g cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Red and orange gel food coloring (optional)

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
2. Whisk the egg yolks together with olive oil, followed by tomato paste and cheese. Add salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning, and whisk until well incorporated.
3. Sift together cake flour and baking powder and gradually add to the batter, whisking until no trace of flour can be seen.
4. You may want to add a bit of red and teeny bit of orange food coloring to make the cake look more realistic but this is optional. My egg yolk batter looks like this:

5. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites in a clean metal bowl. Add cream of tartar when the whites are foamy. When soft peaks are formed, gradually add in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. The meringue is less smooth and shiny than when more sugar is used. I was contemplating omitting sugar altogether but I didn't know if it would affect the texture and stability of the meringue too much so I settled for a small amount of sugar that comes up to less than 1g per cupcake.
6. Fold in one third of the meringue into the egg yolk batter until no trace of egg whites can be seen. Gently but quickly fold in the rest of the meringue in two additions.
7. Tap the mixing bowl a few times on the table top to release any trapped bubbles. Spoon the batter into small round bottomed glass bowls/ metal molds until they are slightly more than half full.
8. Bake for 15 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees Celsius and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Immediately invert the bowls onto a cooling rack after removing from the oven to cool if the tops of the cakes are not above the rim of the bowls.
9. Unmold the cakes by hand and place in paper cupcake liners. I decided to make them look real by topping them with tomato stems :P.

Here's a peek at the inside of a tomato wannabe...

If you ever dare to try making this (some people still think that it's weird to have a savory chiffon), I hope you enjoy it as much as my mum did :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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