Thursday 29 July 2021

National Day Cookie Kit Creation

I am honoured to be invited to share what you can do with the National Day cookie kit by Phoon Huat! Phoon Huat is collaborating with Families For Life (FFL) for the second year running to encourage family bonding activities via baking. FFL is hosting a Red and White creation contest for families to participate for a chance to win e-vouchers. Click here to visit FFL's website for more details. 

 In this blog post, I will share the detailed steps and template for making Merlion cookies that are modelled after my Merlion macarons in 2019, as well as some ideas for what you can do with the cookie kit because the possibilities are endless! Much more than the sample cookie creations printed on their cookie kit! Look at the range of things you can do in this picture below! 

You are not limited to making rolled cookies decorated with flooding consistency royal icing like the Merlions and the sample pictures in the cookie kit. You may also colour the dough red and make some red cookies or lollipop cookies that are icing-free, use stiff royal icing to make iced gems, or make cookie construction items like the sweet box containing the iced gems and lollipops, "I❤️SG" signage and the Merlions on a stand in the picture. I would have undertaken more ambitious construction projects like iconic landmarks in Singapore but I didn't have the time. Perhaps you can give it a try as a fun project with your family 😉. 

The cookie kit from Phoon Huat contains a recipe card, biscuit premix, royal icing premix, small disposable piping bags and red food colouring. You will need to buy your own butter and any other additional items that you would like to add on. I highly recommend buying high quality butter for the best taste. Redman's housebrand butter is pretty affordable and tastes good. It is one of the 2 default brands of butter I use for baking. The other brand I like is Lurpak. Any French butter is great too! 

National Day Cookie kit from Phoon Huat

Making the biscuit base is really simple! You only need butter and the biscuit premix in the ratio of 1:2 by weight. The key to making the texture awesome is not to overwork your dough and you will be rewarded by cookies that taste pretty darn close to the famous Kjeldsens butter cookies! 

The cookie kit mentions use softened butter and mix the flour in to form a dough. I use a slightly different technique to achieve the awesome texture. 

Steps for preparing cookie dough 

1. I start with cold unsalted butter and pour the flour in, no sifting required. Use 2 butter knives or a pastry blender to cut the flour into the butter until it resembles fine bread crumbs. 

2. Use your hand to knead it into a ball of dough, working it as little as possible so stop once a ball of dough forms. 

3. Divide the dough into at least 2 portions so you always have at least one portion chilling in the freezer while you work. Roll a ball of dough between parchment paper. I roll to thickness of 4mm (except for iced gems which is 6mm) instead of the 2mm suggested on the recipe card as it is easier to handle a thicker dough cutout. 

4. Stack the rolled portions of dough on something flat like a tray or cakeboard and freeze it until firm. At least 2h or overnight. Recipe card suggests refrigerating but the typical Singapore kitchen has temperatures hovering around 30C. The dough will not remain workable for long if not chilled to as cold as possible. 

Cutting out shapes from cookie dough

You may use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out the frozen dough like what my younger kid did here. 

Lay out the cutouts on baking tray lined with parchment paper, leaving at least 2cm spacing between cookies. They don't expand much sideways. 

Elder kid was feeling ill from side effects of the covid jab so he didn't join in cookie making. 

If you would like customized shapes, you will have to use a template like what I did for the Merlions. You may use the template I provide but please credit me. This is the template I used for Merlion macarons but it works for cookies too. Resize the image below to fit A4 paper and print it out. You will only need one Merlion template but I put 8 here for proper sizing. 

Make the template by tracing a Merlion onto clear plastic folder like the one below, and cut out the outline and face of the Merlion. 

You may cut another template to mark out the mane around the chin on the cookie if you wish but I didn't. 

Use the template and a small knife (I bought from Daiso) to trace out the Merlion. This is an important tip: I use reusable freezer packs as my work surface to keep the dough firm longer in hot Singapore. You may freeze thick metal trays as your work surface if you don't have freezer packs. I divide the dough into more but smaller portions to work with if the shape cutout is tricky like the Merlion so at any point in time, I have enough dough that is chilled firm to work with. Place the cutouts on baking tray lined with parchment paper or perforated mat. I prefer perforated mats for bakes where good shape retention is needed. When cutting out the Merlion, don't bother with including the detailed spiky mane. Just cut a smooth curved line instead of jagged line. 

Bake in preheated oven at 170C (top and bottom heat, fan off) until golden brown. Please adjust baking time and temperature according to your oven as each oven is different. I lowered the temperature at the 10 min mark to 150C to prevent excessive browning and bake for another 5 min. 

Freshly baked cookies! Seriously yums! 

Baking time will vary depending on size and thickness of cookies too so please watch your cookies while they bake. You want to aim for nice golden brown colour. Let the cookies cool completely before decorating or storing in airtight container. 

Decorating the cookies

You may decorate by freehand but if you want something more precise, use an edible marker and the plastic template to outline the parts. 

Prepare the royal icing to the consistency that you would like. For the Merlion, we will be using flooding consistency royal icing, which is made from stiff royal icing so I will share how to make both types.

Stiff consistency royal icing
1. Add drinking water to royal icing premix in the ratio of 1:5 by weight. 

2. Use a hand whisk or electric mixer on low speed to whip up the icing until stiff peaks form. 

Stiff peaks on royal icing. 

3. Add red colouring if you want red colour. Add some icing sugar and mix well if your icing is still not stiff enough. Transfer into piping bags as needed. 

Flooding consistency royal icing
1. Take portion of stiff consistency royal icing needed for your flooding consistency icing. Keep the remaining unused icing cling wrapped to prevent the icing from drying out. 

2. Add red colouring if making red. Add in a little at a time until desired shade is reached. 

3. Add drinking water about 1/8-1/4 tsp at a time and stir to mix well. Check the consistency after each addition. Make some streaks in the icing and check that they completely disappear within 15 seconds after tapping your mixing bowl. 

4. Transfer into piping bag for each colour and cut a small hole at the end. 

Begin piping the icing for the face, body and tail. Use a toothpick the nudge the icing into place if necessary. Let it dry in the open for 20 min under a fan or in a 60C oven for 5-10 min. Add on the red mane and hands. Continue drying in the open until completely dry or dry in warm oven to speed up the process. 

Using flooding consistency icing to decorate the base layer of the Merlion. 

When the base layer is dry, make a small amount of blue and black icing by using gel food colouring or for the case of black, I used charcoal powder. Pipe the lines in blue on the tail and body. You may paint on the facial features in black icing with a toothpick. Alternatively, you may use edible marker to fill in these details but make sure the icing has dried completely for at least 12 hours before drawing. Otherwise the ink will smudge. Dry the cookies completely in the open or in a warm oven before storing in airtight container. 

Ta-dah! Cheerful Merlions! 

Other cookie creations 

Red dough 
You can make red dough by adding red colouring to softened butter, or use the same method as what I suggested above but with red colouring added to the mix. 
Cutting flour into butter and red colouring before kneading to form balls of dough. 

A tip for cutting out tricky alphabet shapes is to dip the cutter in some flour, knock of excess before cutting out. Use a chopstick to push the dough cutout gently to prevent it from breaking. Iced gems circle cutouts are rolled to 6mm thick and diameter is about 1.5cm. Adjust baking time and temperature accordingly for such small cookies or cookies with thin segments like the alphabets to prevent burning. 

If you don't have cookie cutters, you can still make the lollipop. Prepare equal amounts of red and white dough. Shape each coloured dough into oblong shape and stack them. Roll the stacked dough to thickness of about 6mm. Don't roll it too thin or the swirl lines wont be clear. Roll it up like a swiss roll below. Freeze the roll of dough until fairly firm (doesn't need to be rock hard). Cut out pieces of equal thickness (about 6mm) and place it on lined baking tray. Carefully insert a toothpick into each lollipop before baking. 

Useful tip: I used the letter "I" cookie cutter to mark out where to cut the lollipop pieces. This ensures they are equal in thickness. 

Iced gems
Iced gems are decorated by filling a piping bag fitted with an open star tip with stiff royal icing. Pipe dollops of icing on the small round cookie base. Dry completely before storing. 

Lollipops, alphabets and iced gems! 

Cookie construction
This type of creation requires some planning and you need to be able to visualize what you want. For complex structures, you may need to make your own templates for the various parts. 

Here is a works-in-progress picture. 

Useful tip: use a fine zester to file meshing cookie surfaces so that they are flat. This makes it easier to join them with stiff royal icing like the box. Gently stick a toothpick into the base cookie and reinforce with royal icing if your parts are gravity-defying and require reinforcements, like the Merlions on a stand and the heart shape on a stand. Otherwise you can glue the parts directly using stiff icing like all the alphabets

I decorated the sweet box with basket weave white icing and a red cookie heart. 

Looking really sweet! 

I couldn't resist taking this photo as well! 

Overall the cookie kit is great but I am not used to the royal icing premix consistency as I always make my royal icing using meringue powder and icing sugar. Remember rule of thumb is to add water a little at a time to thin it, and add icing sugar to thicken it. 

I hope what I have shared gets you all fired up to work on your National Day red and white creation with this cookie kit! Have fun and don't forget to take part in the contest! 

With love,

Phay Shing

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Monday 19 July 2021

3D Corgi Hojicha Macaron Class

After making 3D macaron cats, of course I have to make some 3D macaron doggos! My favourite breed has to be the corgi because I love their smiley faces, short stubby legs and of course their irresistible butts! 

For this class, I will cover the basics of French method, this corgi design and the yummy but easy hojicha chocolate ganache filling that is firm enough for such 3D construction. The macaron shells are mildly Hojicha flavoured too! 

This class will be with Artz Baking and Culinary studio. We have not decided when to have this class as we have already lined up the classes for this year. Please let Sharon (whatsapp +65 96882777) know your interest for this class and she can reserve a slot for you first. 

With love,

Phay Shing 

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Sunday 18 July 2021

Arching Rainbow Chiffon Cake


A soaring rainbow on the side of the chiffon cake, topped by another chiffon cake rainbow (from first Chiffon cake cookbook). This creation was made a few months back, inspired by God's promises for us, and also was for Creme de la Creme, our Singapore baking show where I was very honored and thankful to appear as a guest judge on Episode 4. Even though the world changes due to COVID, I hope that we can remember the promise and hope from the Rainbow. 

I am thinking of sharing and teaching this cake as an item on Howtocakeit in the coming months. Apologies for the less blogging and other activity too. I have been feeling a little tired with family commitments and also busy with teaching. 

Meanwhile, you can check out my Rainbow chiffon cake online class (also a white cake recipe) and cookbooks here on Rainbow here first.

Everyone do take care and pace yourself! *hugs*

With lots of love,

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Thursday 15 July 2021

Sleepy Cat Deco Swiss Roll

I have tried various deco swiss roll recipes on and off eversince I made my first one in late 2013. But after seeing Keem's ( Instagram account: keempossible_2) amazing intricate patterned/painted chiffon cake work and seeing Melly (Instagram account : mellyeatsworld) replicate the technique flawlessly on her first try using Keem's recipe and technique, I was intrigued enough to purchase her video tutorial and give it a try myself. Verdict? It is the best so far! Previous attempts I often encountered the pattern being stuck to the parchment/Teflon sheet or the pattern not stuck to the base sponge as the texture differences is too great, or simply struggling to work fast enough on the patterns before the meringue breaks down. 

Here's my first attempt using Keem's recipe and technique that is different from what I tried previously! 

Sleepy cat swiss roll with coconut diplomat cream and pulut hitam jelly! I tried to make the cat head silhouette but the jelly was too soft to hold the shape well during rolling🤣. Here's the top view of the roll! 

Although it was a failed attempt at the pulut hitam jelly in cat head shape, I will record it here for reference. You can make a firm plain agar instead and it will work better. 

I created my own homemade cat head cutter using the disposable aluminium trays sold at supermarkets. 

You may refer to this post for the pulut hitam recipe and this post for the coconut diplomat cream recipe. I added 5g monkfruit sugar, 1g pandan powder (from Scoop wholefoods) and 16g unsalted butter to the diplomat cream and used 110g of non-dairy whipping cream. 

I made the pulut hitam agar by dissolving 1 packet (12g) of agar powder in 400g water with 40g sugar. I brought the liquid to a boil and kept stirring until agar powder and sugar is dissolved. I mixed in the pulut hitam (300g) with the agar base, pour it into a lined tray and chill until firm. I cut the jelly using the homemade cutter and chilled the cut pieces until assembly time. 

The diplomat cream can be made in advance too and kept in a piping bag. Keem shared a cream cheese based filling for her swiss roll. I decided to use my own filling as I didn't have cream cheese on hand. As the roll needs to stay at room temperature for some time while the painting is going on, the filling needs to be stable at room temperature so dairy whipped cream would not be suitable in Singapore's weather. I chose diplomat cream as it is light and stable at room temperature. 

I decided not to be too ambitious on my first try so the pattern only involved 4 colours, excluding the base. 

Piping on teflon sheet! I used a 10x12 inch tray instead of 9x11 inch as mentioned in the tutorial and it works fine too. 

Freshly baked patterned chiffon sponge! 

Preparing to roll the sponge with the filling! Note to self, the row of jelly should be placed about an inch towards the center of the roll. After this picture was taken, I piped more cream to cover the jelly before rolling. 

Rolled up swiss roll before chilling! 

I used a mixture of painting with diluted gel colouring and edible marker to add in the fine details and outlines. 

I couldn't resist taking photos with my sleepy cat macarons! The source of my inspiration for this swiss roll design! 

With love,

Phay Shing

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Tuesday 6 July 2021

How to Consistently Make the Perfect Choux au Craquelin

Who doesn't love a perfectly puffy, crunchy and fully hollow choux au craquelin?!  You can fill it up with lots of filling and you get that very satisfying crunch when you sink you teeth into it! 

See this video of how it should look and sound like. Turn up the sound! 

I created a series of videos to cover the basics of making choux pastry that is made with a cookie crust on top that gives it the characteristic crunch and "woolly" look. Most people struggle with getting consistent results because although choux pastry is relatively easy, there are many factors that can make or break it. Certain steps traditionally taught is also a little ambiguous so newbies may struggle to tell if the dough or batter is ready at intermediate steps. I hope to remove the ambiguities through these videos. 

First video covers making of craquelin or the cookie dough disc you place on top of piped batter. 

Second video covers the making of choux pastry batter. 

The final video covers batter piping and baking. 

I hope you find these videos helpful! 

With love,

Phay Shing

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Monday 5 July 2021

Bubble Tea Chiffon Roll Cake


Presenting the Bubble Tea Chiffon Roll Cake! =)

Want to learn how to make these yummy, patterned Bubble Tea chiffon roll cakes with me ?🥰

Join me on Aug 13th 8pm EST (8am GMT+8), where I will be teaching live on howtocakeit! These delicious Earl Grey tea cakes are filled with Brown sugar tea cream!😋  

You will also get lifetime access to the video tutorial, workbook and private group! Bundle up with my Sushi Cake class and get 25% off for 2 classes! 

It's going to be a super cute and delicious one! Link to sign up here! =)💖

With love,

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