Monday, June 29, 2009

Savory Steam Yam Cake

Hey, have you catch the Transformer squeal, Revenge of the Fallen yet? Well, I did. Went last Saturday with my husband for a late night show. Overall a great movie, action packed and not a dull moment. This time there is also more comedy involved, so be prepared to laugh your head off. But I am sure you know this is really a guy's show, giant transforming robots, gorgeous leading actress, war scenes and lots of actions. But for me, it's still nice to catch a movie with my husband even it has more entertaining value for him. ;) Okay besides that, I love Optimus Prime...he's really cool, haha! So verdict is, it's a pretty entertaining movie, go watch it!

Back to my post today. Went to the grocery store this morning and saw some really fresh yam (taro) there. Simply cannot resist the temptation of buying it, so vow to make some delicious steam yam kueh today! Well, this is not the first time I made this recipe, which is adapted from my friend ReeseKitchen.

I did make minor changes to the recipe but mainly because the weight of the yam I bought was not the same as stated in the recipe. So interested bakers can proceed to the above link to check it out. ;)

Notice my kueh is like a 10" cake, haha. Yeah, I used my cake pan to steam it, figured it will be really nice in that shape also. So now u know why my post title says cake and not kueh, haha!Look carefully at the above picture, you will be able to see the fine chunks of yam. Yes, I used a whole lot of yam...super yammy & yummy, heehee. I love yam, whether sweet or savory dishes, it's has always been one of my favorite. ;D But this yam kueh is best eaten with your favorite chili sauce and sweet dark soy sauce. All these talking about the kueh is making me hungry again! Good thing I made quite a bit this time. Try it, I'm sure you'll like it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dark Brown Sugar Whole Wheat Raisin Loaf

Haha, the name of my post is really a mouthful. I guess the title says it all what kind of bread I made today. ;) Have been looking around for different variation of health bread recipes. And again falling back to whole wheat this time, since it's easier. And this recipe is indeed very easy to make, no egg, no starter dough and it is much easier to knead too.

In my precious whole wheat loaf recipe, it calls for honey as the sweetener. This time round, I have opt to try out this Natural Dark Muscovado unrefined dark brown sugar.
And you know, choosing unrefined sugar is also a much healthier choice too, since unrefined raw sugar is made from the sugar cane plant juice and still contains traces of minerals and nutrients. Whereas refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients.
The following is my recipe:
Ingredients for Dark Brown Sugar Whole Wheat Raisin Loaf:
250g bread flour
125g whole wheat flour
60g Natural Dark Muscovado unrefined dark brown sugar (or any dark brown sugar)
4g instant active yeast
5g salt
100ml fresh whipping cream
140ml water
20g unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup organic black seedless raisins (optional)

Method:
  • Mix all ingredients except butter & raisins in a large mixing bowl to form a soft dough. Knead the dough till it is not sticky, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the unsalted butter in and continue to knead till the dough is shiny and elastic. To test if the dough is ready, pull a small piece off and stretching it with your fingers. If dough is very elastic and pulls to almost see through without breaking, then it's done.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for at least 90 minutes to 2hrs.
  • Punch out the air in the dough and divide it into 3 equal portions.
  • Roll out each portion into a long flat oval shape and sprinkle the raisins on the surface.if using. Then roll up one end to make it into a swiss roll form.
  • Placed the dough into a greased loaf tin and repeat with the rest of the 2 portions.
  • Cover and let proof for another 1hr or till the loaf fills 90% of the tin.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the top of loaf with egg wash.
  • Bake loaf in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. If top browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil till baking time is up.
  • When done, take out from oven and unmold immediately and let cool on rack before slicing.
This special dark brown sugar contributes an extra depth to the flavor and a rich natural taste combining with the wheat. And it also gave the loaf a beautiful golden brown shade, superb! If you think 60g of the dark brown sugar is way too sweet, well think again. It's not at all too sweet but just right. You are even welcome to add more if you like sweet bread. ;)I love the smell of whole wheat loaf, it's nutty and earthy, not forgetting the taste is really good too. ;) Even though it's whole wheat bread, the texture of this loaf is very soft and flavorful, and adding the raisins make it good enough to eat on it's own, yummy! ;)
Note that this time round, the ratio of whole wheat flour vs bread flour is higher. So if you prefer, you can reduce the whole wheat flour and increase the bread flour. But do keep the original ratio if you want the healthier version. Try it and let me know how you all like it. ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Caramel Cream Cheese Banana Cake

Do you feel the heat? Haha, you must be wondering what heat am I saying?! To be specific, I mean the heat from the newly released movie Transformer squeal, "Revenge of the Fallen". Went to watch the first Transformer movie last year with my husband. So we decided to go for the squeal as well this time. But goodness me! I cannot even log into the online ticket purchase for the past 2 days?! Yes, it is that HOT here in KL...I bet it's the same all over the world. Well, I still managed to get my tickets for this coming weekend...so will let you know was it worth going down to the cinema to get the tickets personally! Haha!

Anyway, back to today's post. Just baked this really yummy cake. If you have a to-bake-list, please, I mean it, please try this. ;) I actually found this recipe from another fellow blogger, PiggysCookingJournal's Not Your Usual Banana Cake. It's yum-a-licious! However in the process of making this batter, I find it slightly thick and hard to stir the egg whites in, so I added some sour cream and milk to it to lighten the cake. The result is still excellent!
Since I did made changes to the recipe, I shall post my version here for easier reference in future.
Ingredients for Caramel Cream Cheese Banana Cake :
For the caramel
80g caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon water
1 1/2 tablespoon hot water
3 tablespoons fresh cream

For the cake
240g self-raising flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120g cream cheese, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp sour cream
100ml fresh milk
4 eggs, separated
2 bananas, cut into thickness of 0.5cm
40g cream cheese, cut into small cubes


Method:
  • To make the caramel sauce, add sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook mixture till sugar melted and changes to amber color. Remove from heat and add hot water, follow by heavy cream. Stir well and set aside.
  • To make the cake batter, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and half of the sugar till light and fluffy.
  • Add the 4 egg yolks, one at a time till everything is mixed in. Sift in flour and baking powder into egg mixture, stir till incorporated.
  • Add sour cream and milk and mix well.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line with parchment a 8" by 5" loaf tin. I made extra to be put in muffin tins.
  • In another large mixing bowl, beat egg white till foamy. Add remaining half of the sugar and beat till stiff peaks.
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time till all is blended.
  • Add the caramel, banana chunks and cubed cream cheese and stir gently in. Then pour batter into prepared cake pan.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes in loaf tin and 20 minutes for muffins till golden brown.
Adding the caramel sauce to the cake was a genius idea! Caramel and banana is a superb combination...if you have tasted banana flambe before, you will know what I mean. It's basically banana slices cooked in caramelized sugar & rum, served with cold vanilla ice cream, yummy! And eating this cake really reminds me of that! The texture is light and creamy, makes you crave for seconds!
One trick to mixing the cake is when you add the caramel sauce in, try not to over stir it. Meaning you can still see the evident swirls of the caramel in the batter, that will make really nice patterns and making the caramel taste more distinct. The creamy cream cheese chunks in the cake really blends well with the sweet caramel and banana, balancing the overall taste and sweetness. Overall, I really enjoy this cake, definitely a keeper for me! Now I know what to do when I have those ripe bananas hanging in my kitchen! ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chocolate Pot de Crème

Ever had an elegant desert finishing off a delicious meal? I bet you have. But, here is my good suggestion to you, Chocolate Pot de Crème. This is to me, a no fuss, ever so easy and yet all so delicious French desert which is basically a chocolate custard. I have been making this desert for the longest time because it requires some of the most basic ingredients and it's really very easy to prepare! The most important thing to this desert is to get the best chocolate you can find, which will ultimately give you the best result and taste. :) I happen to have some Valrhona chocolate bar left and so Vola!
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 oz quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Valrhona)

75g caster sugar
4 beaten egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish
:
1/4 chocolate shavings
fresh strawberries

Method:
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, chocolate and sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil and thickens.
  • Gradually stir all of the hot mixture into the egg yolks; stir in vanilla extract. Divide chocolate mixture evenly into 8 cups.
  • Cover and chill for at least 4 to 24 hours before serving.
  • When mixture is firm, if desired, garnish with chocolate curls and fresh strawberries on top. Enjoy!
Let me try my best to describe to you how this decadent desert taste like; its a thick, rich chocolaty custard that easily melts in your mouth. Your mouth will be bursting with chocolate heaven and with the combination of juicy fresh strawberry will be perfection! This will definitely be the next best thing to have if you have yet to get your ice cream machine, haha! Mine is thousand of miles away, stuck in California, in a storage place. *sigh*
If you like a healthier version, you can always substitute half of the heavy cream with full cream milk and perhaps add 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin to the mixture to firm the mixture if you do not wish to have a watery consistency.

So looking forward to desert tonight. Okay...just say "Arrr...."!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Instant Oats Loaf

My husband has been asking me when am I going to make him a bread loaf with oats. The thing is he likes to eat oatmeal in the morning for breakfast, and using quick oats as a main ingredient to make a bread loaf is really an excellent idea! Oats are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oats are also a good source of protein and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber's cancer-fighting properties are due to the fact that it attacks certain bile acids, reducing their toxicity. Soluble fiber may reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) without lowering HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). So for your own health benefits, there is really no reason NOT to eat oats! ;) Why did I wait so long to make this....haha, beats me!

So I did my usual research and again found a few good recipes from some Taiwan blogs. I made slight changes to the recipe so as to suit my taste and fit my bread tin nicely. ;)

Ingredients for Roll Oats Loaf:
Set A:
37g instant oats
75ml fresh milk


Set B:
375g bread flour
40g instant roll oats
50g caster sugar
7g instant active yeast
5g salt
65g of whole egg
180 - 185ml fresh milk
40g unsalted butter, room temperature


Method:
  • In a small pot, cook the instant oats with the milk in Set A with low fire till the mixture is thick and lumpy. Remove from fire and set aside to cool. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour before use.
  • Mix all ingredients in Set B except for butter together with the mixture in Set A in a large mixing bowl to form a soft dough. Knead the dough till it is not sticky, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the unsalted butter in and continue to knead till the dough is shiny and elastic. To test if the dough is ready, pull a small piece off and stretching it with your fingers. If dough is very elastic and pulls to almost see through without breaking, then it's done.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for at least 90 minutes to 2hrs.
  • Punch out the air in the dough and divide it into 3 equal portions.
  • Roll out each portion into a long flat oval shape and roll up one end to make it into a swiss roll form.
  • Placed the dough into a greased loaf tin and repeat with the rest of the 2 portions.
  • Cover and let proof for another 2hrs or till the loaf fills 90% of the tin.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the top of loaf with egg wash.
  • Bake loaf in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. If top browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil till baking time is up.
  • When done, take out from oven and unmold immediately and let cool on rack before slicing.
This loaf is special somehow, it rises very fast! Usually my other bread loaf takes about 2 hrs to rise properly, but this loaf took about 45 minutes to an hour to reach the 90% rise in the 2nd proofing! But again, it might just be the hot and humid weather lately, haha!
I have to say I am very please with the soft and fluffy texture of this oat loaf. I guess the above picture says it all. It was actually so soft that it's kind of hard to slice the bread even when it was cooled. ;) And the best part is, you enjoy eating it so much that you did not even realize it's really good for you!
Again taste tested with my daughter and she down it easily with some butter and strawberry jam. Yippee! It feels good to be able to provide a healthful breakfast for the family that they can enjoy. ;) Try it, it's good for you and yet taste delicious.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Labor of Love (Part 2)

As mentioned in my previous post, I will be baking a birthday cake for my elder daughter's 6th birthday for home celebration with family and friends. Started working on this cake for the past 3 days, spacing out the workload as and when I am free to work on it. Personally, I think for a child's birthday cake, fondant decorations really attracts them. And since my girl has asked for Powerpuff Girl's theme, I had to come up with a design that is nice and yet simple and fool proof enough for me to get it done! And based on my previous experience, I decided to go with part icing and part fondant, meaning not covering the whole cake with fondant and yet able to create a nice, "clean' looking cake with out having to sacrifice the taste.

If you are wondering why I decided not to cover the whole cake with fondant, well reason is I realize most people don't eat it, and it's kind of wasteful. Furthermore, it's difficult to keep the fondant nice without melting or even harden and cracked after a period of time (maybe I'm not good enough?!) So, with the advice of some friends that loves to bake too, I decided to make it this way.
The cake recipe I used here is the same as the Rich chocolate cake I used previously. This time I used chocolate butter cream to cover the cake. And if you see carefully, there is a present in the middle, behind the Powerpuff girls. The present is also made of the same chocolate cake but covered with fondant. ;) It took me quite awhile to mold the powerpuff girls figuring, and was really glad their BIG heads did not roll off when my girl blow the candles or before the birthday celebration was over, haha!
A close look at the inside of the cake. It's moist, rich chocolate butter cake with sweet chocolate buttercream and banana slices in between. ;) I invited some friends cum neighbors over for the celebration. Everyone enjoyed the cake, and I was overjoyed when some the kids had seconds & thirds too! Delicious and satisfying! My friends kind of marveled how did I make that cake, haha! Perhaps they are more surprise where did I find the patience and time to make the cake for my girl rather then just spend some $$ to buy one, haha! Well, all I can say is it's not about the $$ or the time spent, but the amount of love and care you put in to make this cake for your love ones that really matters. ;)
Overall, another satisfactory project for me. I was glad that I managed to get it done in time and most importantly my daughter loves it very much. ;) Now I just hope she give me an easy theme next year, haha. ;) Anyway, I kind of predict I need to make a cake that has lots of pink color and a princess in it in October for my younger daughter!! Wish me loads of luck, I need it!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Labor of Love (Part 1)

Time really flies and my elder daughter is almost 6 years old now. I remember she was still a little baby learning how to crawl, to speak her first word and even learn how to wear her own shoes. Now she's half way through her kindergarten and soon she'll be starting her busy school life in lower primary. But I guess through my eyes, she'll still be my little baby girl...no matter how old she grows into. ;)

As like every year, I will make her a birthday cake of her choice. This year she has requested for Powerpuff girls theme. I was not surprise because she has been watching that cartoon during her free time lately and she likes the characters a lot. I figured it's not a bad idea too since these Powerpuff girls have pretty simple features, easy enough for me to bake up something for her cake, heehee. ;)

Ever since she started schooling, I have always prepare 2 separate birthday cakes for her, one for school and one for home celebration. This year I decided to make things easier for her classmates and teachers by making cupcakes. I was actually inspired by my friend Susan whom just started her home bakery business. She makes cupcakes by the order and she makes these delicious butter cupcakes (recipe from another dear friend of ours) with icing that are quite irresistible!. ;) So I decided to put my thinking cap on and got to work and finally after a full day of "labor", these are my results:
Besides the Powerpuff Girls' theme, I also made some extra cupcakes with assorted decorations just for the fun of it, or in case some of her classmates do not like Powerpuff. ;)
These cupcakes may look simple but they sure take up plenty of time to make! That includes the baking of the cake, preparing the butter cream, mixing the color, frosting and lastly piping and deco. But seeing my girl's glee and her classmates happy faces already pays off everything!
Overall, I was really pleased with the result and I hope all the little children and teachers enjoyed the cupcakes as well. Since I send all the cakes to the school, I did not have any left to take an inside of the cupcake...perhaps next time. Unfortunately I will not be posting the recipes online since I am using the same recipe as my friend's cupcakes. Interested to order from her? Leave a comment, I can always pass the word. ;)

If you are wondering why my post title has a part 1 to it, well you guessed it. The 2nd part will be the birthday cake for home celebration and I'm still in the midst of making it! Wish me luck and stay tune to my next post! ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baos Galore!

Since I was young, I love to eat baos. Whether it's big baos, small baos, char siew baos, chicken baos, pork baos(with egg, yummy!) or even red bean ones....I will devour them all, haha! I remember my mom would always buy big pork baos for my family on Sunday night which will be steamed for breakfast the next day. But usually I would chow down one right away when she brought them home...you can imagine what a plump little girl I was, haha! It's always daunting to me to make baos myself....to achieve that super soft skin texture and the delicious and flavorful filling..how? You tell me?! But finally today, I decided to curb that "fear" and went for it! Coincidentally, my friend Reese made some red bean baos as well, and it was really Baos Galore in the house! I have so many baos that I can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, haha!
I did some research on the skin recipe but decided to twig it a little since I want to make more, including Char Siew Baos and plain buns for the roast pork stew. ;) BIG appetite, haha! Yup, I tried this delicious and simple recipe from my friend, ReeseKitchen; Rose Wine Pork Stew. What better ways to enjoy the plain buns?

My mouth was watering when I was taking this photo! The combination was really good if I do say so myself, heehee. :) Although I do wish I have not over-knead my dough (too used to making bread!) and thus creating a slight elastic texture, else overall the taste was really great, right amount of sweetness and flavor! ;)
Next up is Char Siew Baos. Okay, I have to say this, when I gave some to my neighbors, she said it's better then those Dim Sum places she ate! I almost cried.....haha! Another friend told me her daughter only ate my char siew baos for dinner and asking for 2nds! Success! Well, not exactly...still need to improve on the bao skin (MUST remember not to over knead the dough). Need to achieve that fluffy soft skin and the bao is suppose to be "smiling" (crack) at you after lift the steam cover.....I guess only more practice can get it right. So until then, I will not be posting any of the recipe out. ;)A close look at the inside of the char siew bao. My friend Reese commented that the filling was really good. Interested? You can get the recipe from My Home Kitchen.

Overall I had loads of fun making the baos and you can be sure this aren't the last of it. ;) Will try to make more baos, perhaps those big baos with meat and egg next time! Okay, enough chit chat, I'm going to eat some more bao now, see you next time. ;D