Saturday 30 May 2015

Baymax Chiffon Cake (Reduced Egg yolk Vanilla Chiffon)

"Hello. I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion."

Ahh this is my favourite character from Big Hero 6 (apart from Hiro)! He’s such an endearing robot with a huggable image and silly classic quotes like "Fist bump, is not in my fighting database" and "Excuse me while I let out some air." LOL

Back to the cake, when I saw Baymax, I immediately thought his head is shaped like an egg. Yes you guess it! I baked chiffon cake in an eggshell for his head (refer to this post for preparation). Remember to remove the membrane cleanly from the insides of the egg, and poke the hole at the middle instead of the edges of the egg so that the edges are prettier. Baymax had a huge body and ballonish arms and legs, so the body and limbs are made from chiffon cake baked in oval glass bowls with swissrolls arms (with some carving to get the shapes and fingers). I used a Reduced Egg yolk Vanilla chiffon cake recipe (halved the recipe) for Baymax.

The base cake uses also the same recipe for a 9-inch chiffon tin. Baymax’s red suitcase was requested, so I baked an additional 8-inch 1 egg yolk Strawberry chiffon cake in layer tray for cutting the rectangles out.

Thankful it was well-received!

With lots of love,

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Princess Crown Assorted Macarons (details and photos for macaron batter preparation)

I have a request for princess crown macarons with pink and gold as the colour scheme in three flavours; salted caramel, strawberries and cream, and Nutella. Here they are :)

I have also had queries about whether I conduct macaron classes. At this season of life, it's a bit tough. Perhaps when kids are older :). What I sought to do for this post is to provide more explanations and photos for the preparation of macaron batter. Hopefully it is helpful to some of you :). Pardon the poor photography as some of them are taken using one-handed operation on my phone camera.

Recipe for macaron shells
Ingredients (makes about 100 crown shaped shells, 50 macarons):
200g superfine almond meal/ ground almond
200g icing sugar
200g caster sugar
75ml water
160g egg whites, divided into 2 equal portions, preferably aged for a few days to a week
5g Queen's natural sourced food colouring (optional)
Pink gel food colouring

1. Make the mass. Sift together almond, icing sugar and pink powder. Add 80g of egg whites and mix well to form a mass (second photo). As you can see, I have to add more pink powder or some gel colouring to get it to a deeper shade of pink. I added one chopstick dip of gel (third picture). The mass can be left on the counter top sitting for an hour or more. Just cover with cling wrap if you are not adding in the Italian meringue soon. This happens for me when I have assorted shells to make.

2. Prepare the Italian meringue. Place the rest of the egg whites in a clean metal bowl and beat at medium-low speed until soft peaks form. Do not beat past soft peak stage or the meringue will be too stiff to incorporate into the mass. Slow down the mixer speed if necessary to keep egg whites moving. In the mean time, heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until 115°C. Use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Do not stir once all sugar has dissolved to prevent crystals from forming. Remove from heat immediately once temperature is reached. Turn the mixer speed to high and slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites, taking care to avoid the beaters. Some blogs mention keeping the speed at medium to medium low when pouring in the syrup but I always get lumps of sugar at the bottom of the mixing bowl when I do this. Keep beating on high speed for 10 minutes until the meringue is cool. I usually blast a standing fan at the mixer when the mixer does the work to cool the meringue faster but not absolutely necessary.

You should get stiff glossy peak when you lift the beater.

3. Macaronage. Fold the Italian meringue into the mass. This is the trickiest part of macaron making. It would be good to watch a video demo of this process and the right consistency. My photos can only tell so much :p. Here's how you should fold. Don't be as gentle as folding in the meringue for chiffon cakes. You need to deflate the egg whites a bit for macarons. Leave about 1/4 cup of meringue unused as I find the batter a little too runny if all of the meringue is used.

First picture: use the spatula to bring up batter from the bottom of the bowl to the side and upwards.
Second picture: flip the batter over, doing the "folding" motion.
Third picture: press the spatula downwards and towards the side of the bowl nearest yourself.

Repeat the steps, turning the mixing bowl slowly. When the batter looks about evenly mixed (no traces of meringue), start testing to see if consistency is right.

Some blogs tell you to count the number of folds. This is the most unreliable method since portion of batter and individual strength and the way you fold is different. So don't even try counting. I tried. Doesn't work :p. Some tell you to test by counting the time it takes for a peaks or ribbon of batter to settle. Some find this very useful but I find it a bit ambiguous. I keep having to guess if the batter is ready and take a long time deciding :p.

The last method is the one I always use and has been pretty reliable so far. Scoop a generous dollop of batter with your spatula and watch the way it falls off into the mixing bowl. When the batter is undermixed, the batter will fall in a discontinuous manner, with the ribbon breaking off at points before the entire dollop of batter falls back into the bowl. When the batter is able to fall of the spatula in a slow, magma-like way with ribbons forming as it falls off but in a slightly discontinuous way, the batter is ready for piping fancy shaped macarons, like the crown in this post. If you are piping circles, continue folding the batter until all the batter is just able to batter fall off the spatula in a continuous ribbon. Do not overfold!! Your batter will be too runny and the macarons won't turn out well. Do watch a video tutorial that I made to show the right batter consistency!

Slightly discontinuous flow of batter off the spatula. The photos don't really show the process well... Sorry about that. So do watch a video demo!

4. Transfer the batter into piping bag fitted with a Wilton #12 round tip and #8 round tip. You may find it helpful to place the bag over a big mug. You may pour or scoop the batter in. Although the macaron batter is stable, transfer to piping bag as soon as you prepare or keep it covered as exposure to air will cause the surface to form a crust.

For the crowns, I used a combination of Wilton #8 and #12 tips.

5. Pipe the crown with printed template under baking sheet. If the baking sheet can't lie flat, use some Italian meringue to apply to stick the baking sheet down. Try to pipe with the tip perpendicular to the surface of the tray about 6-7 mm away from the tray surface.

These crowns are the most challenging things to pipe so far!

6. Tap the tray hard on the table top a few times to release trapped air bubbles. Don't be shy to bang hard. Hold the baking sheet down as you tap the tray. You can see from the photo below that the peaks flatten after tapping. The crowns on the right column below were piped before the tray was tapped and the crowns on the left were piped after.

7. Let the shells dry in air con room for about 2 hours or until the shells are dry to touch when you run a finger across the surface of the shell. Do not bake shells that are still sticky to touch. The shells will crack. I have made this mistake many times. You may try oven drying at 50-60°C. So far I have been using air con drying as I usually have many shells to pipe. Oven drying is much faster but not suitable for me when I work with big batches that require my full attention when piping. If you use oven to dry the shells, bake them once they are dry. I have left shells out drying for too long before and the feet formation is not as nice and the shells are hollow.

8. Bake the shells in preheated oven at 130°C with the rack at lowest position. Position the rack at lowest position for light coloured shells as any browning will show up more obviously. Position at second lowest for dark coloured shells and bake at 140°C. Bake for about 17-18 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking. Use an oven thermometer as the actual oven temperature is usually not the same as the one you set. Let the shells cool off in the tray before removing them. If the feet appear a little wet (you can see light reflecting off wet parts on the feet), bake the shells for 3-4 minutes more before checking again. Don't attempt to remove shells from baking sheet that are stuck as they are underbaked. If they appear to be browning a little, reduce oven temperature to 120°C and bake for a few minutes more before checking again.

Pairing up the shells!

9. I decorated the shells with pink royal icing and some gold dust (given by a friend) dissolved in (ahem) Chinese rose wine. I didn't have vodka.

Let the shells dry, preferably overnight before filling them.

10. Prepare the filling. Please refer to this recipe for salted caramel filling (salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream with salted caramel center). Omit the earl grey tea bags. Refer to this recipe for strawberry smbc. I doubled the amount of strawberry paste used. These can be made earlier and frozen. Thaw and rewhip the cream before use.

11. Fill the shells by piping the filling on.

Salted caramel, strawberry and Nutella fillings!

Keep in airtight container in the fridge for at least 24h before serving. They do taste better after maturing for a few days!

I hope this post has been helpful to you. I have been hesitant to write a technical post for macaron batter as there are so many resources out there to help you troubleshoot. I can only share from my personal experience.

I didn't just make crowns for this batch. I made some smiley pandas and Piglets (from Winnie the Pooh) too so keep a lookout for them :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday 28 May 2015

'Tsum Tsum Honeybee Pooh' Cocoa-Stripes Chiffon Cake and Cupcakes

This Tsum Tsum Honeybee Pooh Chiffon Cake with Cocoa Stripes was made for a lovely friend's son a while ago but I haven't got to blogging till now. It's the first time I heard of Honeybee Pooh in the Tsum Tsum game! The chiffon cake with Cocoa Stripes was inspired by the bee's stripes on the body. I also made some cupcakes to go along (just in case the cake was not enough for the hungry kids :p).

Honeybee Pooh Face
The Honeybee Pooh face is made of orange chiffon cake baked in Iwaki glass bowls (see Hatching Chicks Orange Chiffon cupcakes, you do not need to divide batter into 2 shades here). You may scale down the recipe to 1 egg yolk (divide by 3) and place the excess batter into a baking-paper lined tray (6-inch, 160°C 15 min) to cut out the ears and feet, and cake pop maker (160°C 12 min) for the feelers.

Recipe for the Cocoa-Vanilla Stripes Chiffon Cake is below. The vanilla portion has reduced egg yolks to obtain a whiter cake.

Cocoa-Vanilla Stripes Chiffon Cake (9-inch chiffon tin)
8 egg yolks
53g sugar
105g corn/vegetable oil
101ml water
160g cake flour
13ml vanilla extract
Cocoa paste & powder

11 egg whites
120g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven at 160°C. *I used steam baking but it is optional.
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar with whisk till pale yellow before stirring in oil, boiled water and vanilla extract.
3. Add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour found. Divide the batter into 2 (approx 40 tsp). To one portion, add cocoa paste and powder to brown shade (*I tested out a combination of paste and powder this time as too much powder deflates the batter without baking soda, so that I can reduce the powder to 2 tsp).
4. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till stiff peak, mixing in caster sugar in 2 additions. Divide the meringue into 2 (approx 80 tbsp).
5. Fold in the meringue gently into each batter 1/3 at a time.
6. Scoop the 2 batter alternately into the chiffon tin (with plain batter at the bottom).
7. Bake for 160°C 15 min, then 150°C 10 min, 140°C 20 min, 130°C 15 min.
8. Invert once out of the oven and unmould by hand when cake is cool.
*I put the leftover brown batter into a 9-inch tray with baking paper lined at the base to cut out circles for the cupcakes top.

Vanilla Chiffon cupcakes (5 cupcakes)
1 egg yolks
7g sugar
13g vegetable oil
12 ml boiled water
2 ml vanilla extract
20g cake flour

2 egg white
10g 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, water and vanilla extract.
3. 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 stiff peak, mixing in caster sugar in 2 additions.
5. Fold in the meringue gently into the batter 1/3 at a time.
6. Gently scoop and level the batter into the paper cups and gently tap tray on table to remove air bubbles. Place the excess batter into a baking-paper lined tray (6-inch).
7. Bake the cupcakes at 17-20 min at 160°C and the tray for 15 min at 160°C.
8. Leave to cool on cooling rack once out of the oven to cool
9. Unmould after the cake is cool.

Assembly of cupcakes
Flower - use a flower cutter and then a straw for the hole. 
Bee - use an oval cutter on the chocolate and vanilla chiffon layer cakes, sliced the oval into 3, and then alternate the pieces.
Glue everything with melted marshmallows (with some water) and brush with syrup.

Thankful everything was well-received =)

Made with lots of love,

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Wednesday 27 May 2015

My Melody & Piano Strawberry Shortbread Cookies (icing-free)

Presenting My Melody and Piano strawberry shortbread cookies with no added icing and minimal artificial colouring! The kind of cookie for those who love the buttery aroma without the sugar overload :).

Ingredients (makes about twelve 6-7cm shortbread cookies):
Pink dough
50g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, cut to small pieces (use good quality butter!)
135g plain flour
15g cornflour* (may replace with plain flour)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp strawberry emulco/paste
2g Queen's natural sourced pink powder (optional)

White/yellow/black dough
15g icing sugar
30g unsalted butter, cut to small pieces
40g plain flour
5g corn flour (or plain flour)
Pinch of salt
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food colouring (if no natural sourced ones available, e.g. white colour)
1/8 tsp Queen's natural yellow color butter (optional)
1/8 tsp charcoal powder (optional)

* cornflour is used to make the cookie less tough but is optional to use.

1. Prepare the pink dough. Sift together icing sugar, flours, salt and pink powder.

2. Cut the butter into the dry mixture and knead to form a dough. Add 1/4 tsp strawberry paste. Divide the pink dough into two. Colour one portion with another 1/8 tsp strawberry paste.

3. Prepare the white, yellow and black dough in a similar way. Portion out about 10g for yellow dough, 10g for black and keep the rest white or uncoloured.

4. Roll the pink dough to thickness of 5-6mm between two baking sheets. Roll the rest of the dough to 2-3mm thickness. Chill the dough in the freezer or fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

5. Begin by cutting out the pink bases using  the homemade template. You may find it helpful to use freezer packs as your work surface to keep the dough firm for a longer time in hot Singapore. Place the cutouts on baking tray lined with baking sheet. Chill the whole tray in the fridge.

6. In a separate baking tray, cut out the white faces using plastic template. Chill the white bases in the freezer for 15 minutes before proceeding with cutting out the facial features and sticking them on. I made an "O" mouth for My Melody at first but the requester wanted it changed to a smile. I managed to make the change after baking. You may find the mouths too fine to cut out from the dough. Piping them in after baking is much easier as I have found out.

Freeze the completed faces until firm.

7. Carefully transfer the face onto the pink base. Add on the flower for My Melody.

8. Preheat the oven to 150°C and set the rack to second lowest position. Freeze the tray of dough cutouts until oven temperature is stable. Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating the tray about 10 minutes into baking time. Keep a close eye on the cookies! Once the bottom appears a little brown, remove from the oven or the cookies will appear brown. I accidentally browned a few cookies and had to rebake.

9. Cool the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

10. Prepare a black paste made of about 1tsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp charcoal powder and enough hot water to get a toothpaste consistency. Transfer to piping/zip lock bag with a small hole cut. Pipe out the smiley mouth. Dry in oven at 60°C fan mode for about half an hour. Cool completely on cooling rack before storing in airtight container.

Looking sweet!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 25 May 2015

Airplane Chiffon Cake

This is a cute cartoon Airplane made of chiffon cake for my dear nephew’s birthday! It’s his private jet with his initials on it hehe. My editor loved it so much, this cake was selected for my first cookbook. Recipe with pictures are now in Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes.

Happy birthday to dearest Yi Sheng!

With lots of love,
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Little Twin Stars Rose and Lavendar Macarons (notes about using edible markers on macaron shells)

These rose and lavendar Little Twin Stars are a product of leftover batter from my killer heels macaron bake :).

Looking sweet :)

Please refer to the killer heels bake for the shell and filling recipe. Just to share some pictures and important note about using edible markers for macarons.

Piping out the batter

I piped out the batter using Wilton #10 tip for the boy and a combination of #8 and #10 for the girl. I used a toothpick to pull the batter for the hair sticking out.

Leave out the hair detail for bottom shells.

Freshly baked and paired

Using flesh coloured royal icing for the face. 

Dry the flesh coloured icing completely, preferably overnight before adding in the eyes and mouth using charcoal/ black gel coloured royal icing.

I made a mistake of not drying the icing overnight, and then using edible marker on the icing. While edible markers do well directly on macaron shells, they tend to run when used on icing after storing in the fridge due to condensation on the icing.

Filling with rose swiss meringue buttercream

Filling with lavendar smbc

Slightly smudged look on the boy as the marker drawings started to run after assembly and storage

The marker drawings smudged and ran even more with time (too ugly to post here :p) so please do use royal icing to add any details on iced parts!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Saturday 23 May 2015

Rainbow Train Chiffon Cake

I made this chiffon cake Choo choo Train with a beautiful Rainbow for my friend’s son who loves trains and her who loves rainbows!

Some of you may recognize the chiffon rainbow from the Rainbow tiers chiffon cake for Samantha. I managed to pipe a 6-colour rainbow this time using a smaller tip (wilton #6). I have previously shared how to make chiffon cake rainbows.

The base chiffon cake is duo-flavoured. The top is vanilla blue-pea flowers chiffon (3 egg yolk recipe) and bottom is pandan chiffon cake (3 egg yolk recipe). Since the chiffon tin is inverted, you need to put the vanilla blue-pea flowers at the bottom, then the pandan batter. Waves are easier to create then straight lines. Just scope the batter in non-uniformly at the sides to create waves.

The trains involve more ‘art-n-craft’. The carriages were cut from chiffon cake baked in square/rectangular tins like ogura cakes (find the smallest tins you can) and then cut into blocks. Then I layered the top with a hollow square cut out from layer chiffon cake to create the depth for cargo (using Yupi gummies that I got from the kids’ stash hehe). The front carriage was cut from chiffon cake in a train-like mold that my dear guru helped me to get in time (thank you!). I modified the design a little by carving, painted in some features then added roofs and wheels (cut from layer chiffon cakes).

The tracks took some time to assemble! The planks are cut from chocolate chiffon cake (2 egg yolk recipe, divided by 3 x 2) baked in a 10-inch baking paper-lined tray, cut into strips, and then I used thin tie wires to create tracks. I actually had grey charcoal chiffon cake ready but it didn’t look as realistic and neat for tracks as the tie wires.

Made with lots of love, very thankful it was well-received.

With love,

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Sunflower Orange Chiffon Cupcakes

 I made a batch of sunflower cupcakes for my mum to share with her colleagues :).

You may refer to my Little Miss Sunshine and sunflower cupcakes bake for details.

Freshly baked and cooled

Pretty sunflower!

Keep the assembled cupcakes in airtight condition (I place them in a cake box and place the cake box in a jumbo zip lock bag) and refrigerated until time to serve.

Inside a cupcake

All packed for mum!

According to mum, the cupcakes were very well received in terms of taste and looks! So glad to be able to bring a smile to someone's face with these cheery flowers!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Friday 22 May 2015

‘Shooting Hearts’ 3D Hello Kitty Rainbow Chiffon Cake

I love this cake very much as it has all my favorite elements united into one cake: Hearts, Hello Kitty and Rainbow Chiffon! I have fond memories of each of them where they surfaced in my bakes for loved ones.

This cake was born when she couldn’t decide if she wanted the Shooting Stars Rainbow chiffon or the Hello Kitty, so I have come up with a Shooting Hearts Rainbow Chiffon version with 3D Hello Kitty Figurine just for her =).

I have previously shared about the Rainbow Chiffon Cake, as well as made the 3D Hello Kitty Figurine. For the Shooting Hearts, I baked a one egg yolk strawberry chiffon cake in 8-inch layer tray to cut out the hearts.

With lots of love,

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Hello Kitty Brown Sugar Cookies

I have a request for Hello Kitty cookies. Since the requester let me choose the design, I had the freedom to take my pick :).

Since the quantity requested is not too many, I could work on a full-body version instead of making the head only like my previous bake. Icing this batch of 18 large cookies took me 2 days so it wasn't too bad.

As usual, I used the same brown sugar cookie and royal icing recipe. I made my own Hello Kitty templates too. Please refer to this post on how to make cookies using homemade plastic templates.

Just to share some pictures of the process...

Icing the outline

I iced the nose black to mark the position. White would have been a better idea as yellow icing goes over it.

Flooding with pink icing

All done! 

 I dried the completed cookies in the oven at 60°C fan mode for 10 minutes before drying in air con room overnight.

All packed and looking sweet!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday 20 May 2015

Pink & Blue Care Bears Rose and Lavendar Macarons

These overly-chubby Care Bears are a product of leftover macaron batter from my killer heels bake!

Rose and lavendar flavoured

Hubby always griped about the lack of cheeks on Care Bears nowadays, as compared to the original ones back in the '80s when we were kids. With that in mind, I accidentally gave these beary macarons too much cheek!

Please refer to the recipe from my killer heels bake for these macarons (shells and filling). I used a combination of Wilton #8 and #10 tip to pipe the bear face, and toothpick to pull out the hair strands. Omit the hair for the bottom shell.

Freshly piped!

Freshly baked and paired!

Freshly iced/drawn on features with royal icing and edible marker.

Filling up with rose swiss meringue buttercream

Filling up with lavendar smbc

Hubby wanted one blue bear reserved for him as it's one of his childhood favorites and is more than happy to have a pink one too :). He finds them so irresistibly cute!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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