Thursday 28 March 2019

'Pot of Flowers' Matcha Azuki Bean Chiffon Cake Roses & Choux Pastry

Are you wondering what special treat to make for your mother for Mother's Day? Especially if she's a fan of azuki beans with Matcha! Why not join me for a 2-in-1 dessert class, -- pots of Choux au Craquelin filled with Matcha whipped ganache and Azuki beans, topped with Azuki bean chiffon cake roses!

You will learn how to make two genres of bakes in this class, namely chiffon cake and Choux pastry in this 4-hour long class. I will teach you how to create these edible roses from a thin layer of azuki bean chiffon cake, how to make a basic large choux au Craquelin, and how to make a simple matcha whipped ganache filling that goes well with both chiffon and Choux. There's a generous dollop of whole azuki beans in the middle of the pot too to add that contrast in flavours and textures! Although it's a longer class, what I teach will be the basics for each genre.

Click on this link for more information and to register.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Hidden Heart Hot Cross Bun Macarons (New Recipe for Low Sugar Macaron!)

Many of you may not know that I have been experimenting with super low sugar macarons for the past two to three years. I have tried a variety of substitutions and have always met with failures. Many have tried sugar substitutes but 100% of the verdict is it's bad tasting so don't bother trying. Those of you who have attempted cutting out sugar will also come to a conclusion that while zero sugar is not possible, low sugar is, but how low can you go?...That is the question which I think I have found an answer to. Presenting my version of hot cross bun macarons, with hidden heart candied cherry!

Before I delve into the topic of low sugar macarons, let me explain why I hid a heart in there. It's my personal preference to make something Christian themed for Easter. I thought of making simple spiced macarons hot cross buns style as a reminder of what Good Friday/Easter is all about -- God’s love for fallen mankind shown through the death of Jesus on the cross. And what better way to have both heart and cross in each macaron than what I did 😊. I filled the macarons with a spiced cream cheese based filling and used a delicious low GI sugar, so overall the whole macaron is not too sweet but oh so fragrant and flavourful!

Let me explain why sugar is necessary in macarons. Macarons are meringue based cookies and meringues need sugar for stability. Take sugar out and the meringue collapses easily. You may add an acid like cream of tartar, or semi cook the egg whites (Swiss and Italian meringues) to improve the stability of the meringue, but some sugar is still necessary.

You may ask then is icing sugar necessary as part of the dry ingredients? Answer is yes! I have made a couple of attempts with totally no sugar in the powdered ingredients and they fail miserably. If your meringue does not contain high amounts of sugar, your powdered ingredients portion needs the icing sugar to help the piped batter to form a membrane at the surface that is resistant to expansion during baking. This is necessary for feet formation. If the icing sugar proportion is too low, you will also end up with no feet, no matter how long or short you rest the piped batter before baking...

My attempt at hot cross bun macarons just before the successful ones

This is just a cookie, not macaron 😆

Icing sugar also gives macarons the melt-in-your mouth texture. The higher the icing sugar content, the more delicate the texture will be. As I reduce both icing sugar and caster sugar in my low sugar recipe, you can expect that the resulting texture will be less delicate but that's a small price to pay when the overall sugar content by weight is 35%! Most recipes have sugar taking up about 50% of total weight of ingredients. Some recipes have percentages that are even higher.

I have chosen the Swiss meringue method for creating low sugar macarons as it is more stable than French, and therefore requires less sugar in the meringue to be stable, but less complicated than Italian.

My older reduced sugar recipes for French, Italian and Swiss methods involve substituting part of icing sugar with rice flour and cornflour, which I adapted from for this low sugar recipe. How does this recipe differ from my older ones then you may ask. I substituted very safe amounts of icing sugar with rice and cornflour, while keeping the caster sugar amount relatively constant for my older recipes. In this recipe, my starting point is from my failed attempts, gradually increasing the amount of sugar until what comes out of the oven resembles a proper macaron with full shells.

Without further ado, let me share the low sugar macaron recipe, and a yummy low GI macaron filling! Feel free to upsize the recipe for macaron shells once you have adjusted the baking process to suit your environment and oven.

Disclaimer and important note: if you fail, it's not because the recipe doesn't work but instead, you need to tweak factors like drying time and oven temperature because my method here is very much oven dependent. Please also acknowledge me if you do publicise your work and people ask for the recipe because it has taken me a long time and countless failures to get here. Tag me on Facebook or Instagram with your results 😊

Hot cross bun macaron shell recipe
Ingredients (makes ten 4cm macarons, 20 shells):
Dry ingredients
55g almond flour
30g icing sugar (preferably with cornstarch already added)
8g rice flour
2g (1 tsp) cornflour
1/2 tsp cinnamon*
1/4 tsp allspice*
1/8-1/4 tsp cocoa powder*

Swiss meringue
36g + 1g (1/4 tsp) egg whites
24g caster sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 drop orange gel food colouring*
1 drop yellow gel food colouring*

* Omit these items if making plain macaron shells.

1. Line baking tray with template and parchment paper. Stick parchment paper down with some batter later on when you have made it. Preheat oven to 60-70℃. Set oven to second lowest rack. I use top and bottom heat only.

2. Sift together all powdered ingredients. Set aside.

3. Make the Swiss meringue. Place 36g egg whites, caster sugar and cream of tartar in a clean metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with some water. Make sure the water doesn't touch base of the bowl. Heat the water in saucepan using low or medium-low heat while whisking the egg whites. Use a candy thermometer or infrared thermometer to monitor the temperature of egg whites. I must stress that you should heat the egg whites slowly to make sure that all sugar is dissolved or your meringue won't turn out right. Heat the egg whites to 50℃. This should take about 5-8 min of continuous whisking over the stove. Remove from heat and beat the meringue with electric mixer on medium-low speed until stiff peaks form. Add gel food colouring and beat until evenly coloured. I don't use high speed to beat as a meringue that is built up slowly is more stable and has less large air bubbles in it. In fact for this attempt, I alternated between hand whisking (with the balloon whisk of my electric mixer) and beating with electric mixer to make sure that the meringue is always smooth and air bubbles are tiny.

This is how you test for stiff peak. The meringue should be upright at all points where you test, not just in the middle of the mixing bowl. Meringue should appear smooth and glossy, and the meringue should be able to form a foamy lump that keeps its shape when you use a spatula to gather it in the middle of the bowl.

4. Transfer the meringue into a bowl with wide base for an easier macaronage process. Scatter a third of powdered ingredients over the meringue. Fold gently until incorporated. Repeat for the other two-thirds in two batches.

Folding in sifted ingredients.

5. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, add 1g of egg whites and mix well. Those of you who have made macarons before will notice that the batter is thicker than your regular one. This is because there is a significantly lower percentage of sugar in the batter. Adding a little egg whites at the end will help to loosen up the batter a little. Continue by pressing the batter against the side of the mixing bowl to deflate the batter. You may refer to this video tutorial for the macaronage technique. Be careful not to overdo the deflating as the meringue doesn't contain a lot of sugar. Check the consistency after each round of pressing the batter against the bowl. Instead of your usual lava consistency that you look for in regular macaron batter, you check the consistency by creating peaks in the bowl of batter and tapping the bottom of the bowl. If the peaks melt back into the batter, you are good to go.

6. Transfer to piping bag fitted with a Wilton #10 or #12 tip. Pipe rounds. Rap the tray on table to flatten peaks. Use toothpick to pop any stubborn air bubbles.

7. Dry in the warm oven until a membrane forms that does not feel sticky when you run a finger across the surface. This can take 10-25 min. Check every 5 minutes after the 10 minute mark. You may ask if it is all right to dry in air-con room or out in the open (if you live in a low humidity area). It should be ok although I haven't tried it because it's really humid here even with air conditioning so it would take too long to dry for my liking for a macaron batter that does not have much sugar to stabilize the meringue. I try to keep drying time as short as possible for this batter to prevent hollows too.

8. Once a nonsticky membrane is formed, increase temperature to 130-140℃ and bake for another 18-23 minutes or until feet do not appear wet. This membrane should be able to provide some resistance when you press it gently but not hard like baked shells. Cool completely on baking tray before peeling parchment paper away from the shells. If you dried your shells in the open/air-con room, bake in preheated oven at 150℃ for 12 min and reduce temperature to 130℃ and bake for another 5-10 min or until feet no longer appear wet.

I was jumping for joy at this beautiful batch! Nice even feet, relatively smooth tops and full shells!!

With significantly lower sugar in the macaron shells, I wasn't about to spoil it by using a super sweet filling (definitely no American buttercreams for me! Way too sweet!). I chose a cream cheese base as it is able to hold its shape quite well in Singapore's hot weather, and its tartness compliments the sweet shells. I used relatively low amounts of sugar in the filling and chose a low GI source.

Spiced brown sugar cream cheese filling recipe (adapted from here)
115g cream cheese, room temperature
55g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
40-45g Masarang Arenga forest sugar**
1/8 tsp salt
15g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
Zest of an orange

** Replace with brown sugar if unavailable.

This is the sugar I used that is lower in GI but tastes great! It is similar to coconut palm sugar with a caramel flavour.

1. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy, smooth and soft. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well combined. (I don't soften the butter much before beating as Singapore is really warm)

3. Add icing sugar, spices, zest, vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

4. Gradually add whipped cream cheese and beat until just combined. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight before using. You may need to stir the mixture to make it creamy again after resting in the fridge.

I decorated the macaron shells with firm royal icing (somewhere in between flooding and stiff consistency).

Some people may find that hot cross buns are incomplete without sultanas in them so feel free to add some finely chopped sultanas to the cream cheese filling. In my case, I added a simple twist to it by inserting a piece of candied cherry in the middle. I halved the cherries and tried my best to cut it into a shape that will present a heart shape when you slice open a macaron.

A halved candied cherry with conical bottom. I carefully reshaped the top as well to make it a little more rounded. Use only the bottom half of the cherry for this.

Fill the shells!

Store filled macarons in the fridge in airtight condition for at least 24h. Let the macarons sit room temperature for 10 min before consuming to allow the filling time to soften a little.

I am happy to say that reducing sugar by this much didn't change the texture too drastically! It's definitely less delicate than higher icing sugar content ones but not any chewier than some of my regular attempts. Longer maturing time with filling will make the texture more delicate so do wait for a few days before eating if you prefer it that way.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 25 March 2019

Raincoat Pusheen Chiffon Cake

The most adorable Raincoat Pusheen with my chiffon cake Pusheen wannabe! Can you tell which is which?

And here they are, on a rainy day =)

This is my ongoing love with Pusheen! I dressed up a chiffon cake with a raincoat made from yellow chiffon sheet cake. The hat is from a cake pop, and the tail was made by patterning stripes in a swissroll.

Hope you like it! It's been raining quite crazily these days. Don't forget your raincoats! =p

With lots of love,

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Mooty Mouse Matcha Macarons (Book Giveaway!)

If you lived in Singapore as a young child in the early 1980s, you would most likely have heard of Mooty Mouse. I have the privilege of making the likeness of this plucky and kind-hearted fella in the form of macarons, as part of Marshall Cavendish's publicity efforts because he is making a comeback!

Mooty isn't an easy subject to make in macaron form as his salient features are very thin and fine. It was fairly nerve wreaking trying to pick the baked shells off the baking sheet because of that! I made sure that the macarons capture his soulful eyes, long thread-like tail, red sarong and flip-flops. And of course, his coy expression and posture.

Sharing a rare insight to my planning process...

I have to carefully plan what piping tips to use, how to portion the colours and piping steps

I added extra cornflour for Mooty's tail to add some strength to the most fragile part. I used the French method for this small batch of macarons. You may find the basics and details of the method in my second macaron book Creative Baking: Macaron Basics.

Piped shells!

I decorated the shells with edible marker and some gel food colouring dissolved in vodka to make a paint, and painted on the pink part of the ears and some grey shading with a small paint brush.

I filled the shells with Matcha white chocolate ganache.

Mooty Mouse Matcha Macarons! Note the alliterations 😆

Those of you who have young children or who are young at heart, do checkout Mooty and be charmed by his adventures! To make this easier for you, I am giving away three copies of the commemorative edition of The Adventures of Mooty by Jessie Wee in collaboration with Marshall Cavendish, sent right over to your doorstep!

To enter the giveaway, please complete the Rafflecopter by clicking on this link.

An email will be sent to each of the three winners to notify him/her of the win. Should a reply not be received within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. The book will be sent to the winners by post. This contest is opened to residents of Singapore only.

Update (23/3/19): Winners will be announced on this blog post by 7 April 2019.

Update (8/4/19): The giveaway is closed and winners have been selected! Congratulations Tay Li Shing, Pixie Seet and Ruth Wan! A gentle reminder to reply the email sent to you within 48 hours with your mailing addresses. Another winner will be selected in your place if you fail to do so. Thank you 😊.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Robocar Poli Roy Chiffon Cake

Does this cake make you smile? =) Roboar Poli's Firetruck Roy made in chiffon cake.

I am not a fan of making vehicles as they are really hard to make with chiffon and require more cutting and assembly than normal. Also the many details are really fine and not easy to do neatly. It was also a challenge making the shapes that make up the Fire truck. But it was for a close friend, and not likely to repeat it very soon =p. Thank God it was well-received and made the birthday boy really happy!

As per my normal style, I tried to use natural coloring as much as I could, using charcoal for black and PME red for the red colour. I used a ball pan to create the top compartment, and joined it to chiffon cake baked in 2 square chiffon pans.

Recipes used are similar to my Mickey mouse chiffon cake.

Hope this brings a smile to your face! Hope everyone is coping well with school holidays too. For me, it has been really busy.

With love,

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Monday 18 March 2019

Rainbow Unicorn Lychee Macarons and Brown Sugar Cookies

My friend requested for rainbow unicorn themed bakes: macarons, brown sugar cookies and choux pastry!

The Choux pastry version can be seen in an older post over here. I made them for her daughter's birthday and she loved them so much she wanted me to make them again for her birthday!

What I want to share with you is the filling recipe for the macarons and a little tip about filling macarons with fillings that have high liquid content like pieces of fresh or canned fruit, jams and curds without turning the macaron shells soggy too fast. But before that, here are a few photos of works in progress items...

Decorating brown sugar cookie with royal icing. You may find the recipe for cookie and royal icing over here.

Piped macaron batter. I used a French method recipe over here due to the small quantity requested.

Decorated macaron shells using black edible marker and peach coloured lustre dust

Please feel free to upsize the filling recipe below. Fans of lychee will love it!

Lychee whipped ganache with diced lychee (fills 6 macarons)
40g white chocolate, chopped or use chips
10g whipping cream
10g unsalted butter
10g vegetable shortening (may replace with butter)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp freeze-dried lychee powder*
Canned lychees, woody part removed, diced and pat dry with paper towels

*If you are unable to get freeze-dried lychee, gradually fold in 20g finely chopped lychee or lychee puree into the whipped ganache.

1. Place white chocolate, whipping cream, butter and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at medium power for 10 seconds. Mix thoroughly. Repeat heating and mixing until fully melted. Be careful not to overheat.

2. Add salt and mix well. Chill in freezer for 2 minutes. Whip or stir with spatula until smooth again. Repeat freezing and whipping as necessary until you get a light, smooth and fluffy buttercream-like mixture.

3. Add freeze-dried lychee powder a teaspoon at a time and mix well. If you are using puree, gently fold in a teaspoon at a time. Do note that freeze-dried powder version will produce a more intense flavour than using puree. Transfer into piping bag fitted with an open star tip.

Canned lychees have high water content so make sure you pat dry with paper towels before using as filling. Even then, I recommend adding a barrier between the chopped pieces of fruit and macaron shell. Effective barriers include high fat content fillings such as buttercreams and ganache.

To do this, pipe a small dollop of whipped ganache (or buttercream) in the middle of the macaron shell. Use a teaspoon or small spatula to smear it, coating the surface of the macaron shell. Pipe a ring of whipped ganache along the outline of the shell.

Remember to apply a smear of ganache on the upper shell too!

Fill the middle of the ring with pieces of fruit (or jam or curd).

A closer look at the juicy filling!

Refrigerate overnight to a few days before consuming. Always let the macarons rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before consuming  when taken out of the fridge.

I hope you find this helpful!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday 11 March 2019

Kirby Durian Choux Pastry

The end of preparing for Deco Choux Pastries photoshoot is finally in sight! Just one more week of prep work to do! In the midst of preparing, I have bits and pieces of extra (less than perfect) choux pastry cases so I couldn't help but put some of these pieces together, spare a bit more white chocolate for coating the pastries, and then fill them with Mao Shan Wang durian whipped cream since I need to take photo of that for the book too!

Kirby durian Choux pastry!

Hubby is a fan of Kirby and durian so I thought of taking a bit of time to make this. The little Kirby figurine at the bottom of the picture belongs to him.

The arms and feet of Kirby are bits of choux pastry covered in melted chocolate too! Thank God I had extra red coloured chocolate at the end of the day so I just used it for coating Kirby's footwear.

In the middle of assembling

To be honest I also had an ulterior motive of making this to feed hubby and elder kid (who happens to love durian too) as soon as I bought the durian, pureed and filled the pastries with it. I didn't want to store durian at home for too long 😆. I love the taste but can't eat too much as I get heaty easily from it. Younger kid can't stand the taste and smell of it so it gives me a reason to try and clear it out of the house as soon as possible.

I won't be sharing the recipe for the pastry, white chocolate coating and durian filling as they are all in the upcoming book. But you may refer to my previous blog post for video tutorials on some basic techniques involved, and this blog post with full recipes included.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday 10 March 2019

Little Twin Stars on a Star Chiffon Cake

Little Twin Stars! Who grew up with it? <3

It's been so many years since I revisited Little Twin Stars! Still such a joy to make, and still so much work haha! Unlike my previous two versions which involved piping of their hair and faces, I decided to try a different technique of using sheet cake to make their hair, like my Powerpuff girls. It's really a lot more work than the piping technique, though it looks nicer.

I also had the chance to try out my new Wilton aluminium stars pan. I used the chiffon recipe from here, also using the natural coloring and with steam baking. Texture is ogura-like, soft and cottony. All of cookbooks have at least one chiffon cake using a wide metal pan, to show that chiffon cakes can be baked like ogura and sponge cakes. The texture you get is slightly different, less airy, and more cottony with steam baking. The most popular has been the Airplane chiffon cake. You do not need to grease the pan, else the chiffon cake will have difficulty rising. You may like to grease just the bottom of the pan (at the middle only) if you are afraid you may have difficulty hand unmoulding it. If you have baked your chiffon cake just right (not underbaked, or overbaked), it should be a breeze to unmould it without greasing your metal tin. If you underbake the cake, the middle of the cake may tear when you try to unmould it as the cake is thick. If you overbake it, the brown skin layer tears the cake when you try to hand unmould it too. Always check with a bamboo skewer at the middle to make sure it is totally dry before you stop baking the cake.

I also had two versions of the cake, one with Chiffon Cake Rainbows, and one without. Recipe for chiffon cake rainbows has been shared in the first book Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes.

Hope this sweet creation brings a smile to your faces!

With lots of love,

Book covers:

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Tuesday 5 March 2019

Video Tutorials for Choux Pastry Basics

Wondering how to make cream puffs or Éclairs? I have made some video tutorials to show you how!

I am still in the midst of preparing for the photoshoot of Deco Choux Pastries with Marshall Cavendish but I thought I better take some time to get some video tutorials in order. There will be a total of three video tutorials in the book, two of which are featured in this blog post.

I am sharing the method of making the Choux pastry batter and how to pipe basic round choux buns or profiteroles in this first video:

This second video tutorial is for piping Éclairs:

I must admit that it takes some practice to get the piping of Éclairs down pat but the good news is, you can always scrape off the batter from the baking tray and start over if your piping is all wonky 😆.

I strongly recommend using an open star tip for Éclairs although you can use either round or open star tips for Choux buns because the parallel line markings made by the teeth of the star tip will help with more even expansion of the pastry case in the oven.

I used parchment paper for illustration purposes but if you have a perforated mat, do use it instead as it helps to retain the shape of the piped batter much better, especially for Eclairs.

I hope the videos and tips are helpful! As you can see, you don't need sophisticated equipment to make choux pastry. Does this motivate you to give it a try 😉 ? You can fill the baked cases with all sorts of sweet and savoury filling to enjoy!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday 4 March 2019

Birthday Pooh Ufufy Chiffon Cake

Good night, sweet dreams! <3

As you can tell by now, I am a big fan of Winnie the Pooh and piglet! This is a big version of my previous Pooh Ufufy Chiffon Cake. The hat was baked from a paper cone =).

It is also naturally colored using the range from Magic colours.

Giving you a big hugs! xoxo

With love,

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