Sunday 30 December 2018

Boy and Girl Chinese New Year Macarons

Those of you who would like to learn the necessary techniques for creating any shape or design of character macarons can join me for this class, also in time to create these adorable treats for Chinese New Year!

Boy and Girl macarons filled with strawberry white chocolate buttercream

The design is taken from my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics book and you will learn how to split a single batch of batter into a few colours, how to pipe batters of different colours side by side to create the clean boundary between hair and face of the character, as well as creating pop-up features like the buns on the hair and the hands. Post-baking decoration involving the use of edible marker, royal icing and lustre dust will also be taught.

Although I shared this design using the Italian method in my book, I will be teaching this design using the Swiss meringue method for the class. Due to the nature of the design and content of the class, I don't recommend complete newbies to join although you won't be banned from it. It would be best if you have some experience baking simple basic macarons or at least be comfortable with doing a range of bakes and piping designs on cakes or cookies. I am afraid newbies may find it overwhelming with too much new information to absorb 😆. Do bring along a spatula (or two.... or three since we are working with three colours of batter) that you are comfortable with as the ones provided by the studio may not be what you are used to working with for macaronage. If you have a candy thermometer that you are comfortable with using, do bring along too.

Please click on this link for more details and to register.

I am also taking this chance to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday 26 December 2018

Guinea Pig Lavender Vanilla Éclairs

My elder kid requested for Choux pastry for his birthday treat -- Guinea pig designed and Lavender flavoured. I decided to make it earlier so that we can all have it together with my parents for a post-christmas meal celebration. Since my mum (who has diabetes) will be eating it as well, I try to keep the use of refined sugar down but at the same time, not compromise the flavour. And so I took the liberty of using some honey (to replace part of the sugar) and include vanilla as part of the flavour that goes harmoniously with lavender. Presenting my version of guinea pig choux pastry, filled with smooth and creamy lavender vanilla pastry cream!

These guinea pig Éclairs are actually modelled after our very adorable pet guinea pigs!

Bottomless pits for food!

Here's a closer look at the cross section of an Eclair...

Nice and crisp pastry case! Really nice when eaten with cold and smooth pastry cream!

I have not been including detailed recipes of my past few choux pastry posts as I can't share what is going into the Deco Choux Pastries book that I am working on. But since what I did here deviates from my basic recipe, I can share it here. There are a couple of firsts for me here. It's the first time I tried using more egg whites than yolks in the Choux pastry batter (pate a choux) and the first time I am using modelling chocolate to create such a complex design.

Feel free to use more sugar if you prefer sweeter pastry cream. Do a taste test. I had my mum in mind when I made it. The Choux pastry batter contains no sugar as well so fell free to include 1 tsp of sugar if you wish. My kids are having the modelling chocolate coated pastry cases so it will be sweet enough for their palate, whereas my mum and the rest of us health conscious adults will be eating the Éclairs without modelling chocolate coating.

Lavender Vanilla honey pastry cream
3egg yolks
300g lavender milk*
1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
30g cornflour, sifted
30g sugar (use more if you prefer because lavender is a little bitter)
A pinch or two of salt
15g unsalted butter
1.5 tbs honey

100g whipping cream
1 tsp gelatin powder**
1 tbs water**
1 tbs icing sugar (I didn't use)

* Steep 3-3.5tbs of dried lavender flowers in 340g hot milk for 10 minutes. Strain out the flowers and weigh out 300g of milk to make the pastry cream.

**You may omit the use of gelatin if you are using icing sugar to help stabilize the cream

1. In a small saucepan, heat lavender milk with vanilla bean paste until it just starts to bubble. In the mean time, whisk together cornflour, sugar, salt and egg yolks together.

2. Once the milk starts to bubble, remove from heat. Pour into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream while whisking continuously. Start off in a slower stream before pouring more quickly. This is to temper the egg yolks. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

3. Heat the mixture over low heat while whisking continuously until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth. Return to heat and continue whisking for another minute or two to thicken until your preferred consistency, keeping in mind it will thicken further after chilling.

4. Add butter and whisk until well combined. Add honey and whisk until well combined. Sieve the mixture into a bowl.

5. Press a cling wrap over the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight if you wish. Chill the whipping cream in mixing bowl for an hour or overnight.

6. When the whipping cream and pastry cream base are sufficiently chilled, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tbs of water and let it sit for 10 min. Heat in microwave oven or double boiler until gelatin is dissolved (medium power for 10 seconds if using microwave). Set aside to cool to room temperature.

7. Whisk the chilled whipping cream with icing sugar (if using) until firm peaks form. If using gelatin to stabilize, whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the dissolved gelatin while whisking the cream until firm peaks form.

8. Gradually fold the whipped cream into pastry cream.

Smooth and fragrant lavender vanilla honey pastry cream

Refrigerate the pastry cream until ready to fill the pastry cases. You may make this two to three days in advance. Press a cling wrap to the surface of the pastry cream for storage.

Choux pastry case (Eclair)
Ingredients (makes about twenty 5-6cm mini Éclairs):
105g water
20g unsalted butter
24g olive oil (you may replace with 20g butter)
1/2 tsp salt
50g bread flour
10g plain flour (you may replace with bread flour)
95-105g egg, lightly beaten (use two whole eggs or in my case, one whole egg and topped up the rest with egg whites.)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 200℃. Set oven rack to middle position. Line baking tray with parchment paper/silicone mat. I am trying out a perforated silicone baking mat to see if it makes a difference. It is supposed to be great for baking choux pastries.

2. Sift the bread flour and plain flour together twice. Set aside. Place water, butter, oil, salt and vanilla (if using) in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure all butter is dissolved before water boils.

3. Remove saucepan from heat and pour the flour into saucepan all at once. Quickly mix well with a spatula until a ball of dough forms. Press out any visible lumps of flour.

4. Return the saucepan to heat. Use low heat to cook the dough while kneading it in the saucepan for about 3-4 minutes. Pour the dough into a mixing bowl and knead with a spatula for about a minute before leaving it to cool for a few minutes.

5. Add half of beaten egg into the dough and mix until well combined. Add half of the remaining egg into the batter and mix until well combined. Add the remaining egg a little at a time until the batter is smooth and shiny and is able to fall off the spatula in three seconds. You may not need to use all of the egg.

6. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a 12-15mm open star tip. Choose one with as many teeth/tines as possible. Using a star tip instead of round tip helps to control the cracking of eclair during baking. Pipe 5-6cm lines on baking mat. Use a finger wet with water to tap down the peak at the end of piping the eclair. Dab some water around the piped batter. This is to help create steam during baking.

Piped batter. It looks more pale than my usual as it contains more egg whites.

7. Place tray of piped batter into oven. Turn temperature down to 190℃ and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 180℃ and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the tray inside for another 10-15 minutes.

Freshly baked cases!

You may make the cases in advance too or store the frozen piped batter and bake when you are ready. Just add 5 minutes to your baking time.

Modelling chocolate
I adapted the recipe from here. I tweaked the ratios a little as Singapore is warm and humid. Please check out the link as it has a more detailed explanation of how to work with modelling chocolate.

White colour
48g compound white chocolate
11g light corn syrup
A few drops of white gel colouring

Brown colour
42g compound white chocolate
10g dark chocolate couverture
12g light corn syrup
1 drop orange gel food colouring
1 drop yellow food colouring

Black colour
48g dark chocolate couverture
20g light corn syrup
1/2 tsp charcoal powder

1. Melt the chocolate in microwave oven using short bursts of 10-20 seconds using medium-low power. Stir between each heating cycle. Be careful not to over heat.

2. Pour corn syrup into melted chocolate and fold in until just combined. Pour the mixture onto cling wrap and wrap it up. Leave it to firm up overnight at room temperature or for 30 minutes in the fridge.

3. Knead until smooth and pliable. Wrap in cling wrap again until ready to use. You may prepare this in advance too!

Homemade modelling chocolate! Tastes much better than fondant!

As I don't work with modelling chocolate often, I was quite nervous about working in Singapore's hot weather so I worked in the air-con room. Try to minimize direct contact between your fingers and the chocolate. I use cling wrap as a barrier between my fingers and the chocolate so that it is less messy to work with. I used toothpick, knife and some fondant tools to help to shape the guinea pig shape and features. You may want to replace chocolate with candy melts as advised by the experts as they are easier to work with. I found it easier to work with white compound chocolate than the dark chocolate couverture based ones as the latter may be firm to begin with but quickly turn into a soft sticky mess with a little handling using my fingers.

The birthday boy exclaimed that they look so real!

It is best to fill the pastry cases just before eating to enjoy them crisp. If this is not possible, you may fill it and keep the pastry refrigerated until ready to serve, preferably within a few hours if you still want the case somewhat crisp. If you don't mind it turning soft, you may store filled choux pastry in fridge for up to two days.

Here are the piggies about to be eaten!

Checkout the cross-section!

The other piggy being eaten!

Birthday boy loved his treat a lot and so did the rest of us!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing
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Sunday 23 December 2018

Pusheen Snowman Chiffon Cake

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! <3

If you have followed my posts, you can see that I love Pusheen and Snowman very much =p. Over the years, I have made many versions of them! This year I received a very lovely Christmas gift, a Pusheen Snowman plush. So I made a chiffon cake inspired by the plush to thank them! This cake uses the Reduced Egg Yolk Cottony Cake recipe. It is now one of my favorite recipes to use.

Too bad it doesn't snow in Singapore! So I can only make cake =p

Finally, ending off with one of my favorite verses from the bible about Christmas and the birth of Jesus!

May we always be very thankful for Jesus and Christmas!

With lots of love,

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Thursday 20 December 2018

Blackforest Log Cake II

Ever since I started baking seriously, I have been baking the cake for my extended family's Christmas gathering. I planned to make a blackforest log cake this year as I made an awesome one last year for someone else. You may read the detailed recipe and assembly steps in this post. As always, I make the cake nativity themed as that's what Christmas is really about -- God’s love shown for our fallen world through the birth of our Lord Jesus!

The signboard is filled with dark chocolate ganache and homemade cherry jam!

Bear with me as this is a rather long post with many parts to the log cake. The focus of what I want to share in detail is the new chocolate sponge recipe but with many short tidbits of the whole process of other components. I used the cooked dough method instead of the regular method of making chiffon sponge.

I must admit that the design idea came at the last minute because I have been busy with book writing. I was wondering what design I can do within a short period of time that is navitiy scene themed. Thank  God I was inspired by what I saw in the church's bulletin one weekend! Silhouette of the nativity scene! I was gambling on the fact that I could pull this off with freehand drawing of course. Thank God I managed it!

I used a variation of Audrey Goh's Swiss method recipe to make the signboard along with the reindeer macarons. You can read about it in my previous macaron post.

Piping the signboard macarons shells. Yes I made extras just in case my freehand drawing needed practice...

...Indeed I needed practice! I ran into issues with writing the words for my first attempt so the second word ended up looking squashed at the end. Making a template would have made it more professional but I was in a hurry. Each attempt took less than half an hour to complete.

You may think that I am a great artist...But I don't think I am. Silhouettes are deceptively easy to draw compared to drawings with full features as they have a larger margin for error. How do I go about drawing this then? The trick is to choose your reference points wisely. I began by writing the words near the bottom of the rectangular frame. Next I drew the base of the manger, followed by baby Jesus. Then I drew Mary from bottom up, then Joseph from bottom up and finally the star. Going by this order ensures that the various parts have the right proportions and are positioned correctly.

Checkout how full the shells are with this method! I hardly rested the shells. I let the piped batter dry in the oven at 100℃ with fan mode on for 3 min with the oven door open slightly. I closed the oven door, switched off the fan mode and ramped up the temperature to 130℃ and baked until feel no longer appears wet.

I kept one of the Christmas bears from a previous bake (frozen for a few weeks) and used some of the pandan coconut Christmas tree macarons I prepared as display pieces for my upcoming junior chef baking class to add on to the deco.

I managed to find some sprinkles that look like mini baubles!

I chose the cooked dough method to make the chocolate sponge as blooming the cocoa powder in hot liquid allows the chocolate flavour to come through more strongly. Cooked dough method also allows the flour to absorb more liquid, making the cake naturally more moist and soft. That's why I revised my recipe to include an extra whole egg to make a more moist and rich cake, and used a different method.

You may prepare the cherry jam and dark chocolate ganache ahead of time before baking the sponge cake. Chill the whipping cream overnight in the mixing bowl together with icing sugar as well so that it whips up more easily when you are ready to assemble the cake as the sponge takes less than 15 minutes to bake. You may refer to my previous blackforest log cake post  for the recipe of the cherry jam, stabilized whipped cream and dark chocolate ganache. I made minor changes to the filling for this year's log cake. I used red wine instead of Choya to cook the cherry jam. I bloomed 2 tsp of gelatin in 2 tbs of milk instead of using 1 tsp of gelatin in 1 tbs of milk as I wanted to make a more stable cream. I used 1 tsp of vanilla extract instead of 1/2 tsp for the cream. You may stick to the original recipe if the log cake is going to be served in a cooler place.

Cooked dough chocolate chiffon sponge cake
Ingredients (makes one 12x12" cake):
3 egg yolks
1 egg
42g cake flour
22g Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
45g vegetable oil/ canola oil
47g fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur (optional)

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
65g caster sugar

1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Place egg and egg yolks in a small bowl. Set aside. Line the tray with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 170℃, set oven rack to second lowest position.

2. Heat milk and oil in a small saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and pour into flour mixture. Quickly mix well. A soft dough should form. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. Add one egg yolk or egg at a time and mix well between each addition. Add vanilla and coffee liqueur and mix well. A batter that is able to flow should be formed at this point in time.

4. Make the meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks form, gradually adding sugar once the egg whites are foamy.

5. Fold the meringue into the batter a third at a time. Fold quickly but gently until no trace of meringue is seen.

6. Pour batter into baking tray and smooth out the top of batter with spatula. Gently tap on table to release trapped air bubbles. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

7. Immediately flip the cake out of baking tray and roll it up with parchment paper to cool.

You may refer to my previous blackforest log cake post for assembly instructions. Just to share some photos of the assembly this time round...

Rolled up Swiss roll. Checkout the fine texture of the sponge! The cake is indeed denser but soft and moist! Hubby who doesn't like cake in general (because most are too fluffy and dry) said this is really good!

Coating with dark chocolate ganache. I whipped the ganache this time so it appears lighter coloured 

After drawing the bark markings with a fork, the cake is done!

You may dust with sifted icing sugar if you wish, and add on decorations.

If you are a fan of blackforest cake, do give this a try. I am sure you will love it!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 17 December 2018

Reindeer and Christmas Bear Cherry Dark Chocolate Macarons (Swiss method)

I have been focusing on book writing and classes during the month of December and just remembered that the logcake I am making for my extended family may need some decorations. The reindeers came about as an impromptu bake because what I planned to do for logcake deco only required one large macaron and I had leftover batter to play with. The Christmas bears came about because I had leftover batter from making some bear macarons in November. Back then, I baked the bears and froze the extra macaron shells. Despite the last minute-ness of it all, I had my dose of cute overload 😊.

As mentioned in my previous macaron post, raving about how good the Swiss method recipe was, I decided to try the experiment as promised. I used all the egg whites to make the Swiss meringue, instead of keeping a portion of it to mix with almond and icing sugar to form a paste. What's the verdict? It takes many more folds to get to the correct batter consistency. The piped batter dries a lot faster. The batter is not as silky smooth although that could be due to my macaronage. But you are still able to get nice and full shells too. Having tried both with and without splitting the egg white portion, I think I personally prefer splitting the egg white portion for the smoother batter and ease of making many colours from one batter portion.

You may refer to my earlier Swiss method post for the detailed recipe and steps. Just use all the 77g (75ml) of egg whites to make the Swiss meringue. Add the sifted almond and icing sugar to the meringue in two batches and fold until batter is at the right consistency. Just to share some photos...

Piped shells for reindeer. I added 1 tsp of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients and one generous dollop of orange and one generous dollop of yellow food colouring to the meringue after its been beaten to firm peak. I portioned out a little of the underfolded batter to add a little more cocoa powder for the antlers and folded both light and dark brown batters until they reach lava consistency.  

See how full the interior is! 

I used royal icing and edible marker to add in the details on the baked shells.

I made cherry jam in preparation for the logcake so I thought of using some for filling the macarons. Instead of Choya, I used red wine. You may refer to this post for the dark chocolate ganache and cherry jam recipe.

Homemade cherry jam!

I have no idea how to take a photo of the filling on the macaron shell that will do it justice...Rich dark chocolate ganache with juicy cherry bits cooked in red wine. Yums!

I hope these cutesies put a smile on your face as they did to mine 😊

With love,
Phay Shing
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Sunday 16 December 2018

Ondeh Ondeh Logcake Choo Choo Train

How do you like our Favorite Yummy Ondeh Ondeh Cake transformed into a cute Christmas Logcake Choo Choo Train with wheels? =)

I was inspired to transform the boring Logcake into a Choo choo train! And being a fan of Ondeh Ondeh cakes, I was inclined to transform the flavour into a Logcake version too =p.

I designed this recipe specially for LG's Logcake Class last month. It's a special recipe that you can whip up in less than an hour using the freezer and convenient new products like the gula melaka syrup (took a picture in the recipe below). The flavour and also cute train idea was a hit at the class! If you try out the idea, do tag me! =)

I have also made a Recipe Video on making the Ondeh Ondeh Logcake Choo Choo Train using LG's Neochef. The Youtube video below is an extended and more detailed version of the short video I posted on Instagram and FB. It was quite a lot of work to make the video =p. Hope that you will find it very useful! 

Full recipe below:

Ondeh Ondeh Logcake Choo Choo Train by Susanne Ng
Pandan Chiffon Rollcake (10-inch by 10-inch) 
3 egg yolks
20g castor sugar
41g vegetable oil
39g water (*you can substitute with pandan juice)
¾ tsp pandan paste
¾ tsp vanilla extract
60g cake flour, sifted

4 egg whites
45g castor sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 170°C.

2. Egg yolk batter: beat egg yolks with castor sugar before stirring in oil, water, pandan paste and vanilla extract.

3. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till firm peaks, mixing in caster sugar gradually.

4. Gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in 3 additions.

5. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking pan. Give the pan a few taps to remove bubbles. Bake at 170°C for 22-24 min, or until skewer comes out clean.

6. Pour the leftover batter into 2 mini and 2 medium cupcake liners. Bake these at 170°C for 20-22 min.

7. Prepare the whipped cream and filling while the cakes are cooling.

*Tip: Highly recommended to roll up the sheet cake before it is fully cooled to prevent cracking (see youtube video tutorial).

Whipped Cream (for 2 5-inch logcakes)
120g heavy cream
80g whip topping
10g icing sugar

Combine the heavy cream, whip topping and icing sugar and whip with an electric mixer till stiff peaks (less than a minute). Place in the refrigerator until you need to use the cream.

*Tip: I combined dairy cream with whip topping to enhance stability so that it is easy work with, without compromising the taste too much. This helps in cutting the time to work too =).

8. Prepare the Gula Melaka-Dessicated Coconut filling. 

This is great! But you can also melt your own using Gula Melaka!

Gula Melaka-Dessicated Coconut filling (for 2 5-inch logcakes)
104g Gula Melaka syrup
10g boiled water
Pinch of salt
120g dessicated coconut

In a bowl, gently mix the dessicated coconut with Gula Melaka syrup, water and pinch of salt till well-mixed.

9. After the sheet cake is cool, unroll the cake and remove the baking paper on top. Spread on the whipped cream, followed by the gula melaka coconut filling, leaving around 1.5 cm from the sides. Roll the cake up with the filling.

10. Allow to the roll cake to chill (freezer around 10 min) for the cream to set. Slice the roll cake into two to make 2 Choo choo trains!

Yummy and soft rolls!

11. Decorate and assemble the logcake trains.

80g-100g dessicated coconut
Christmas logcake décor

(a) Lightly coat the roll cake with leftover whipped cream. Roll the cake over dessicated coconut (or steamed grated coconut).

(b) Unmould the cupcakes by peeling off the cupcake liners. Similarly, lightly coat the cakes with whipped cream (except the base) and roll them in dessicated coconut. Use more cream to adhere the base of the cupcakes onto the base log to form the train chimney and driver seat.

(c) Add wheels using Oreo cookies and some cream. Alternatively, you can use chocolate sheet cakes! In my first version, I used sheet cakes actually.

(d) Insert and add in other Christmas logcake décor.

*You may refer to the Video Tutorial on Youtube to fully understand the steps.

Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance!

With lots of love,

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Thursday 13 December 2018

Christmas Tree Matcha Choux Pastry

Christmas is just around the corner. Instead of baking the usual Christmas bakes, why not try this one :) Here's a sweet and simple Christmas tree made up of a stack of Choux au Craquelin (fancy name for cream puffs covered with cookie dough)

Even the star is made entirely out of choux pastry!

You may refer to this post for the recipe as it will work just as well although I used another one. I am not free the share the exact details on the blog as this design will appear in my Deco Choux pastries book in our Creative Baking series. Do note that baking time will be different for different sizes of pastry cases. Here's a tip, pipe and bake different sizes of pastry cases on different baking trays so that you don't end up with overbaked or underbaked cases.

I hope that in the midst of Christmas season busyness, you find some peace :)

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday 10 December 2018

Cute Piggy Yuzu Cream Puff Class

Want to welcome the Year of the Pig with a cute and yummy bake? Join me for this cute piggy choux pastry class in January 2019!

I make it a point to use Choux pastry to make the added features as far as possible, instead of fondant or chocolate. Choux pastries are not as technically challenging as macarons or chiffon cakes so if you want to make a cute and yummy but easy bake, this class is for you!

I chose yuzu flavour as the filling to let its citrusy goodness compliment the smooth and rich pastry cream.

Please click on this link for more details and to register for this class.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday 9 December 2018

Flying Noodles Chiffon Cake

I has always had been my dream to make the Flying Noodle Cake! After a series of food-themed chiffon cakes (Kueh to Sushi to Nasi lemak), I finally had the courage to try out a Flying Chopsticks Noodle chiffon cake! Thanks to my friend for having the faith in me!

This is my anyhow-hantum chiffon cake version! Really thank God for providing <3. It is definitely easier to make noodles from cream or fondant. The noodles were cut from chiffon sheet cakes, which risk breaking, so the bendability has to be just right. For this, I used my Cottony Cake recipe which is closer to ogura cake that can do “yoga”.

I also used the same cottony cake recipe to make the spring onions and corn roll cakes. Basically I make a thin swissroll from the cake (like spring onions), then slice into small pieces. The hole wasn’t so obvious, so I further used a yakult straw to widen the hole in the centre for the spring onions. The other ingredients like fishcake and ham, involved piping and baking chiffon batter as thin sheets in cupcake liners, similar to my Lollipop chiffon cake pops in Deco Chiffon Cakes (below). Lastly the bowl itself consisted of a bowl chiffon cake baked in a ball cake pan, using charcoal powder. The sushi slices were also cut from bamboo charcoal chiffon cake.

Thankful cake was very well-received!

With lots of love,

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Thursday 6 December 2018

'Bees on a Beehive' Choux Pastry

I am taking this week to work really hard on my Deco Choux Pastry book, writing, test baking and re-writing where necessary. I am really excited about the creations because they are so whimsical and cute! Even those with simple design like heart shape. So those of you who are following me because of my macaron creations, I hope you don't mind that I will be filling my blog posts and social media platforms with more choux pastry creations because I feel they are so very under-represented in baking circles with limited designs.

I am sharing one that really made me smile 😊

Little bees on a beehive. All made from Choux au Craquelin!

Look at what you can do with traditional Paris Brest when you use your imagination! I had lots of fun with this entry. The bees have different styles of faces because I was trying out various designs to see which one works best so what you see here won't be exactly what is going into the book.

Lil' bees! Pardon the blur image because I was taking photos in a rush.

I am not free to share the recipe in the book but you may refer to some of my older posts that uses cookie dough on top of the pastry case like this post and this post. Just omit the matcha powder and add food colouring for the Craquelin part if you want to make the bees. I can't reveal in detail how to create the bee pattern too but I am sure you can figure it out easily!

Stay tuned for more cuteness! I will still have awesome macaron projects coming up in January and February so you won't miss much!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 3 December 2018

'Bears with a message' Lavender Earl Grey Macarons

This is the last major macaron project for the year as I finally got into full swing of writing Deco Choux Pastries and I still have a couple of family bakes and baking classes before the year ends. My friend requested for some farewell macaron gifts for her colleagues as she is leaving the company she has been working at. But I also took the chance to sneak a few macarons for hubby's birthday 😊.

I wanted to make something sweet to the heart but not too sweet on the taste buds. Filled these with peppermint dark chocolate ganache

The bears are holding up the signboard with a different message for my friend's farewell and I filled them with a fairly firm lavender Earl Grey white chocolate ganache.

I was raving about the Swiss meringue method recipe that Audrey Goh shared in my previous macaron post and wanted to try it again. I still didn't try out keeping the egg white portion as one for these bears, but still split into one portion for the Swiss meringue and another for making a paste with almond and icing sugar mix. I promise I will try this recipe again without splitting the egg white portion in my next macaron project in January. You may refer to this post for the detailed recipe for the macaron shells as it is a repeat of what I did here.

What I will share here are some pictures of the process, some tips on piping this shape. And the recipe for filling that is fragrant, tasty, not too sweet and firm enough for Singapore's warm climate to be packed as gifts to be given away.

Here's a picture of the piped shells. Look how smooth the surfaces are!

Someone asked how do I pipe such a shape without it going out of shape when we rap the tray to release trapped air bubbles. Having the right batter consistency is important. It should be smooth but not too runny. I also piped the parts in stages so that the head, ears and body don't fuse together and become one formless blob. Sorry I didn't take step by step pictures or make a video tutorial as I was rushing to finish making many shells. Here's the sequence of piping and drying that I hope you will find helpful:

1. Pipe bear head with a Wilton #7 or #8 tip. Note that the head is not round but has fuller cheeks. I pipe a horizontal line for the lower half of the face, followed by a shorter line for the forehead. Rap the tray after piping the head.

2. Use a Wilton #5 or #6 tip for the ears. Pipe little round blobs for the ears. Set the first tray aside and work on the second tray for the heads as this will give it about 10-15 min to dry and form a thin, sticky membrane. Note that this drying time varies based on humidity. I find that the recipe I used for these dry pretty fast and because I work with multiple trays, there is no idle time. I dry the shells in an air-conditioned room with about 45% relative humidity.

3. Use a Wilton #7 or #8 tip to pipe the body. Rap the tray. Be slightly more gentle rapping the tray this time as you don't want to damage the piped heads. Leave it to dry for  about 5-10 min and you can work on the third tray for the heads or the body for the second tray.

4. Use a Wilton #5 or #6 tip to pipe a rectangle or heart shape on the body. Use a toothpick to nudge the batter carefully to get the shape right but be careful not to damage the piped batter for the body. Leave it to dry for 15 min or until a thin membrane forms.

5. Use a Wilton #5 or #6 tip to pipe the arms and feet. Dry the shells until dry to touch and bake.

For the bottom shells, just follow the piping sequence mentioned but leave out the signboard and arms

Freshly baked shells! I made more than 40 of these.

I decorated the shells with a mixture of media. Black and white royal icing for the nose, black edible marker for the eyes and mouth, peach lustre dust for the cheeks, grey paint for the insides of the ears and yellow royal icing for the words. The grey paint was made from gel food colouring diluted in vodka. The font size for the words are really small so it was super tedious to get the words on as I used a combination of piping and painting.

All decorated!

I adapted the filling recipe from this post but omitted the cream cheese as these were meant to be gifts given away and needed to be able to withstand storage out of fridge for perhaps a day or two. I didn't want to risk food poisoning.

Recipe for Lavender Earl Grey ganache
Ingredients (fills about 30-35 5cm macarons):
Tea infusion
50g whipping cream
30g vegetable shortening
95g unsalted butter
3 tbs dried lavender flowers

Tea flavoured ganache
120g white chocolate
130g tea infusion mixture
2.5 tsp Earl grey tea powder*
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

*If not available, use teabags or loose leaves instead and infuse together with dried lavender flowers.

1. Make the tea infusion. Heat cream, butter and shortening until melted and bubbles just appear. Steep dried flowers for 15min. Strain. Portion out 130g.

2. Dissolve sifted tea powder and salt in tea infusion mixture. Add vanilla extract and white chocolate. Melt everything together over double boiler or in microwave oven. Be careful not to overheat.

3. Chill the mixture in fridge or freezer until slightly firm. Whip until creamy using electric mixer or by hand. I usually speed up the process by alternating between freezing for two minutes and whipping the mixture by hand until I get a buttercream consistency.

Transfer into piping bag and pipe onto shells.

Oops! I ran out of filling so I filled the centers of ten of them with dark chocolate ganache which I had on hand.

All packed and ready to go!

I hope this has been an informative post despite the lack of pictures and a video tutorial.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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