Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Strawberry Muffins and Steamed Moist Banana cake

Lately things are going way faster then I can handle. And seems like there is never a resting or idle moment for me and my husband. Nevertheless, we have finally made another major decision...which is the purchase of our house here in Singapore. Although it's not some dream house on a hill with a lovely backyard nor with an amazing view from an enormous balcony....but it would be a place we will call our home for many years to come. After viewing for several houses in that area, this particular one gave me the right vibe....a nice warm feeling. ;) Furthermore the condition of the house was still pretty good, so we were quite contented with that. Although we can't say this is an excellent buy, especially since the prices are soaring like rockets, but we are still please to finally settle on this one. I am really looking forward to moving in! Hopefully by then I will be able to bake up more of my usual breads and mould up some fondant cupcakes that I so miss now. :P

This week I have again managed to bake up yet another 2 cakes. First up is Strawberry Muffins. Since my elder daughter just entered Primary one...me as a mother still worries things like whether she'll be okay to buy food on her own during recess time. Even though my daughter has purchase food herself several times now...I still favor the idea of letting her bring home cook food. :) So nowadays I make an effort to bake something she likes to let her bring to school. The recipe was actually inspired by Baking Mum, which I find the muffins absolutely yummy! Thanks so much for sharing! The following is the recipe for better reference in the future:

Ingredients for Strawberry Muffins (makes 12 standard size muffins)
125g butter at room temperature
80g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
2 small eggs
300g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh milk
140g (1 cup) strawberry yogurt
8 to 10 Fresh strawberries cut up into chunks

  • Cream the butter and both sugars till light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time and cream together till mixed in well. Repeat with 2nd egg.Add in vanilla extract and stir well.
  • Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into another bowl. Mix the strawberry yogurt and milk together and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Add 1/4 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir well. Then add 1/3 of the yogurt milk mixture in. Repeat this steps until the ending addition is flour and stir till just blended.
  • Stir in the fresh strawberries and stir in. Then pour the batter into the paper cups or the paper lined muffin tins.
  • Bake for 25 to 27 minutes till top is golden brown or the tester comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and leave on rack to cool.
The result was a moist delicious cake and evident strawberry flavor in it....I like! My daughter also enjoyed it very much when she had hers in school today and has already requested to bring another one to school tomorrow. ;) This is definitely a very versatile recipe, which can be easily replaced with blueberries or raspberries. :)
A look at the inside of the muffin....yummy chunks of sweet strawberries in it. :) Do try it out! A lovely afternoon snack with a cup of tea.

Next bake...uhm, I mean steam is; Steam Moist Double Layer banana cake. ;) Actually baked in last week, but didn't get the chance to post it up. This recipe is also from Yochana's blog, which if you compared hers and mine...mine's really flat! I guess I made the mistake to bake the cake in 2 separate tins, because I worried that the cake will be too dense and can't rise as high. Anyhow....the taste is still great!
Recipe for Steam Moist Banana Double layer cake:
Set A:
200g mashed banana

1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Set B:
3 eggs
100g brown sugar
100g pao flour / superfine cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
65g vegetable cooking oil

Basic Sponge Cake Layer:
2 eggs
60g sugar
25g milk
65g pao flour

  • In a mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients in Set A and make sure everything is well combined.
  • In another mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and both sugars together till thick and light in colour. To check if ready, see the evident ribbons formed when it drips down on to the surface of the batter. Add in flour and baking powder and stir well. Lastly, add in the mashed bananas mixture and vegetable cooking oil and stir in gently.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared and parchment lined greased tins. Steam for the cakes for 15 to 20 minutes till cooked and tester comes out clean. Remove from steamer and set aside.
  • Now prepare the top sponge layer. Whisk the eggs and sugar till thick and doubled in volume and forms thick ribbons. Add in milk and flour and stir in gently.
  • Pour the cake batter over steamed banana cake layer and steam again for another 15 minutes till done at medium high fire till done.
The next time I make this, which I think I will, will definitely make everything in 1 baking tin only. The cake is moist, soft, fine and a nice banana flavor, not overpowering. The family enjoyed it a lot. I used pao flour this time, so maybe next time I'll used superfine cake flour and see which one taste better. Okay all, will end today's post here...have a good week ahead. Have fun baking!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Steam Pumpkin Huat Koh & Banana Walnut Cake

Do you find it hard to buy a nice outfit? I do, most of the time...it can take me several shopping sessions to find one nice dinner dress. Call me picky, but that's me. But nowadays I have even BIGGER "items" that need me to purchase! So you can imagine the amount of time and energy involved. For the past month, my better half and I have been hunting for a car & house. We've seen so many and when we finally settle on the car, I kind of have the feeling that we settled for less. :-P And as for the roof over our head....it's another BIG headache. And since I do not want it to be a regret, I want to seriously think through and thoroughly consider the choices we have. But with the ever rising prices now for property , we are really at a disadvantage. :-( I guess we just have to suck it up and go with what we can settle with. But to think that we will be investing vast amount of our saving into it and also living there for many years to come made us think thrice into which one we should go for. So far, we've seen quite a number of resale houses, and are slowly narrowing it down to a couple units. Hopefully soon enough, we can decide and have a place we can call our home soon. There's no place like home isn't it? Wish me luck...I need so much of it now!!

Today I am posting up 2 of the bakes I did in the past week, one of it is Steamed Pumpkin Huat Koh. Huat Koh is a common steam cake that Chinese use for praying. I remember that when I was young, my mum would whip up this cake in a short matter of time and soon enough I will be chowing down some of this deliciously sweet, steamy & soft cake. ;) It's generally has a slight egg taste to it, and the usual version will be "鸡蛋糕“. The version I attempted is using pumpkin and also containing coconut milk.
I got this recipe from Yochana's blog. She actually have several Huat Koh recipes, but I like the golden color of the pumpkin, so decided to go with it. I doubled her recipe since I wanted to share with more people. Below is for easy reference in future:

Ingredients for Steamed Pumpkin Huat Koh (makes 16 of 4 oz cups):
200g golden pumpkin, steamed and mashed
400g plain flour
225g caster sugar (reduced from original)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
200ml thick coconut milk
2 eggs
60ml corn oil
  • While the steamed and mashed pumpkin is still warm, mix in the sugar so that most of it is melted.
  • Then add flour, salt, baking powder into the pumpkin mixture and stir well, it will be lumpy.
  • In another bowl, beat the 2 eggs and stir in the coconut milk. Then add this mixture into the flour mixture and combine well till everything comes together.
  • Get ready the steamer with water simmering at medium high fire.
  • Pour the batter (75% full) into small paperline cupcake moulds and steam for 15 minutes.
  • Use a tooth pick to test and remove to cool on rack before serving.
Although the taste of pumpkin is not that evident, it still has a nice fragrant scent from the coconut milk. It is indeed quite a delectable treat to have with a cup of hot tea or coffee in the afternoon. The family enjoyed it and furthermore it was pretty easy to whip up.
Next bake was upon request by my MIL. She likes banana cake, and has asked me a couple of times about baking it. MY FIL has even brought back a big bunch from the temple the other day...so I grabbed the opportunity yesterday and baked up a batch. Turned out the cake was moist and yummy...but not too much banana flavor though...should have added more bananas!!Ingredients for Banana Walnut Cake/Muffins:
2 large / 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs 90g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g unsalted butter, room temp

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

60g walnut, crushed and leave some whole for deco (optional)

1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

  • Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy and creamy. Then add egg 1 at a time and mix in till all blended in. Repeat till all eggs are added.
  • Add vanilla and mashed bananas and stir well.
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix till just combined.
  • If using walnuts or chocolate chips, stir in till just mixed.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line with parchment paper a loaf tin (I used 6" mini loaf tin) and/or line a muffin tray with paper cups.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tins and place some of the whole walnuts or chocolate chips on top for decoration.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till tester comes out clean.
I have made both chocolate chip and walnut version to please both palalets. My little ones love the chocolate chip version, and so I divide the batter to mix in the chocolates.
The loaf version was moist and soft, and not too sweet. By the end of the day, most of the cake was gone....that's should means it's good. ;) Another note is I did toast the walnuts for 10 minutes at 180°C to bring out the flavor and crunch.

Actually besides this recipe, I am preparing to bake a couple more recipes with banana before that big bunch goes to waste. :) Furthermore, banana seems to be a well liked and versatile fruit to be in any bake goods. ;) So stay tune for the following posts. ;) Gonna sign off now, have a great day all!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Persimmon Fruit Cake & S'more Cookies

Heard a really sad news today. A University hostel friend of mine just passed away. I was so shock when I hear the news from another good friend. The decreased was staying next door to me in the hostel for a year. We are not that close, but we are still friends. Although we have not been in touch for a good few years now, but I still hear things about her now and then. She was a real popular girl and well liked by everyone around her. Somehow hearing the sound of her bubbly laughter seems to be so recent...so close, just next door. Knowing her departure at such a tender age was a little overwhelming to me. However, I pray hard, I pray with all my heart that she will find peace and joy in heaven and will always be remembered in fond memories. We'll all miss you KT.

I apologies to start off the post with such a sad news. But I feel much better letting out my feelings. Thanks for staying and listening to me my friend. :) Let's get back to food. As the title stated, I made Persimmon cake and S'more cookies this time. Actually these two bakes were made on separate occasions a couple days back, but only able to put up the post today. Persimmon cake, pretty unusual I must say, probably no one has done it before, hahaha. It so happened that my MIL had some persimmon fruits in the fridge which were almost a week old and I thought... why not?Generally speaking, persimmons are a delicious fruit on it's own. So putting it on the cake is really not that common. My MIL had generously spared me 3 persimmons to make this special cake. And the persimmons are on the medium to small side, so that is why I used 3. Interested how I make it? Read on:

Ingredients for Persimmon Fruit Cake (5cm X5cmX10cm loaf tin):
80g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
95g plain flour
3g baking powder
7 tbsp fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 to 3 persimmon fruits, peeled and cut into wedges (seeds removed)

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line with parchment paper a loaf tin.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and confectioner's sugar together till creamy and fluffy. Add vanilla , salt and continue to mix till well combined.
  • Stir in the eggs, drizzling a little at a time. Making sure it is well mixed before adding a little more each time.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder into the egg mixture and stir well.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Then gently place the persimmon wedges on the top of the batter.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or when the tester comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven, let cool in tin for 5 minutes. Remove from tin and let cool completely before slicing the cake.
Overall, the cake was moist and the right sweetness. In fact the persimmons were sweeter then the cake itself! Even though I like it, I probably will modified it to bake with other fruits...perhaps with apples. :) Somehow the cake is lacking a bit of "kick" to it, that slight acidity to make it a well balance taste. But I still find it a good try...

Next up is S'more cookies. Okay, you must be thinking that I am totally "obsessed" with S'mores! This is probably my 3rd kind of S'more's bake! First was the S'more cupcakes, then is this S'more brownies. And now S'more cookies, hahaha! Okay, if you are new to S'more, please Google it...it's this chocolaty, gooey with a crunch comfort food that you won't want to miss out! The S'more cookie recipe was obtained from Cookie Madness, which after reading her recipe, I find it way too irresistable not to bake them! Look at the photo below and tell me you how will you not agree to that?!
These cookies are really yummy! Crunch at the edges and chewy on the inside....my absolute favorite! :P Plus the chocolate chunks and gooey marshmallows are really added bonuses to the already delicious cookies. Furthermore, the graham cracker crumbs added extra texture and flavor, superb! But perhaps the next time I make these, I will reduce the sugar by 10g so as to suit my taste....
Hold up...you asking me where's the marshmallows? It's there...totally melted down into the cookie. :-P And since I am not too big a fan of marshmallows in the first place, I have reduced the amount to only 1/2 a cup instead of 1. Another change I made to the recipe was using 70% cocoa Lindt bar chocolate instead of Hershey's bar (which I think will be sweeter).
Interested to bake up a batch? Don't hesitate...it's really worth the trouble...in fact it's not too hard to make! Try them.

Final thought: Learning about the sad news today again reminded me on the fragility of human life. We are constantly reminded by medias and other influences to cherish our life and things/people around us. But are we really doing it? I believe so long as we live life with an open heart, give with a generous mind and striving for the best, I bet bliss and happiness is within reach. I truly wish everyone will cherish what you have and live life to the fullest with no regrets. :) Have a good day and a great week. Cheers!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The unconventional bake

I did it! My first bake here in Singapore. :) I finally plucked the courage to use my MIL's Halogen conventional oven to bake a cake, an Oreo butter cake specifically. :) Not being able to bake is making my life a little dull lately. :P And it's almost like an itch that I must scratch it off to satisfy myself, hahaha! So tonight while my in-laws were out for a charity concert, I decided to get a little adventurous in the kitchen (which is not even mine!). To attempt a new recipe, using a "new" oven, heehee. :D "New" oven here refers to me being fresh to using this Halogen conventional oven to bake cakes or cookies. The only time I used it was for roasting pork...pretty different I must say! But I was so glad I did...to be able to get myself whipping, measuring and stirring, and of course finally smelling freshly baked cake in the kitchen again...priceless!This Oreo butter cake recipe is actually quite popular among the food bloggers out there. I googled and found at least a good 8 to 10 bloggers that has attempted this recipe which is originated from My Kitchen:My Laboratory. Thanks Angie! :) And frankly speaking I have been wanting to attempt it for a long time. And since my girls got back to Singapore, they suddenly went "Oreo craze" which they kept asking for it! So I figured what better recipe then this to satisfy their craving!

I have modified the recipe due to some limitations I was facing at that point, so here is my version:

Ingredients for Oreo Butter Cake:
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

95g salted butter, room temperature

155g sugar

2 eggs, beaten

220ml nonfat unsweetened yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

80g Oreo cookies without the cream, crushed

Oreo cookies for decorating ( I too removed the cream for these)

  • In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.
  • In another mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Then add the beaten eggs slowly, about 1 tbsp at a time till everything is combined.
  • Add in 1/2 of the sifted flour mixture into the butter mixture, stir well. Then add in 1/2 of the yoghurt and stir well. Add in vanilla extract and mix well. Then add in remaning 1/2 pf the flour mixture and stir to combine, follow by the remaining yoghurt, stir to incorporate well.
  • Add in the crushed cookies and stir till well mixed in. Pour into a 10" tub pan which has been greased.
  • Since I was using a Halogen conventional oven, preheating only takes like 1 to 2 minutes and I set it to 170°C. But the usual will be preheating the oven to 180°C.
  • Bake for a good 40 minutes until toothpick test comes out clean. As for my Halogen oven, it only took me 20 minutes! How efficient is that!
  • Let cool on rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan and slice to serve.
As you can see from the photo, the cake was still nicely baked with a golden brown crust on the outside. I was really surprised that the Halogen conventional oven took only half the time to bake! And the result was as good as any normal oven. :) It was a good thing I went to check 10 minutes into the baking....because it looks almost done by then!
Wondering if the cake is even cooked inside? Let me show you a the inside...
Convinced? Yeah, I know I am...:) And I am so happy that I can bake with this conventional oven from now on and not having to buy another one. But I have to be careful with the temperature setting plus the size limitations...yup, no square pans! :D But you know what, it's a small hurdle and I don't mind a bit. So you probably will see some bakes from me in months to come...yippee! BTW, if you have noticed, I am using a different camera this time. Yes, my dear husband bought me the latest IXUS200 Cannon Powershot! It is much better in focus and the pictures turned out much sharper too. ;) Yeah...I know, got to remove the time stamp next time, hahaha!

Overall, I was pretty happy with the taste of the cake, slight crust on the outside and soft moist cake on the inside. Not too sweet because I did reduce the sugar and the buttery taste was great! The Oreo cookie bits was a pleasant bonus to the buttery cake. :) A keeper I must say. :) If you are an Oreo lover like my girls and I, why not give this popular recipe a try, I bet you'll love it. Good luck and have fun!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dual Layer Cheesecake

Happy New Year All! Sorry for not posting up anything interesting lately. :-P I have been busy sorting out things and trying to settle down in the new environment. Not to mention getting my girls ready for their new schools. However we are happy that we have finally come to this decision even though coming to this point was a long and tedious process. Friends that are close to us would understand what I meant. We are really grateful for all the help that our friends and family that has been so helpful to us along the way which makes things much easier to handle. I am just hoping that everything will eventually fall in the right place and we will never look back with regrets.

Today, I would like to post up yet another one of those bakes that I did not get to put up last month; Dual Layer Cheesecake. Part of the reason why I decided to bake cheesecake at that time was because I had a whole chunk of cream cheese in the fridge and I need to finish it up before we move. I actually did this recipe base on whatever I have left in my fridge, remaining eggs, remaining butter, remaining sugar & enough flour, hahaha! Good thing it still taste good enough to me. ;)Ingredients
For the cookie crust below:
6 pieces graham crackers, crushed

80g butter, melted

For the Cheese later:
420g cream cheese, room temperature

125ml fresh milk
65g cake flour
40g cornflour
4 eggs yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract
75ml heavy cream

50g Valrhona Chocolate (66% cocoa), chopped
40g unsweetened coca powder

150g caster sugar
4 egg whites

  • Melt the butter and mix together to the crushed graham crackers. Press the mixture into the 9" cake pan base which has been greased and lined with parchment paper. Set aside till needed.
  • In a saucepan, heat up the cream cheese and milk till the cheese melted. Stir in both flours using whisk till no lumps. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time till well combined. Last stir in the vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Using the mixer, beat the egg whites and caster sugar at high speed till stiff peaks. Gently fold in the whites into the yolk mixture till everything is combined.
  • Using double boiler method, heat up the heavy cream and chopped chocolate together till all the chocolate is melted. Sift in the cocoa powder till well combined and no lumps.
  • Preheat oven to 160°C. Pour some water to the base of the baking tray to create a water-bath. Wrap the base of the cake pan with aluminum foil to protect the water from sipping in.
  • Divide the vanilla cheese mixture into 2 portions. Then stir in the chocolate mixture into the one half of the vanilla cheese portion.
  • Pour the chocolate cheese mixture onto graham cracker base. Then pour the other half of the vanilla cheese mixture over the chocolate cheese mixture. Be care not to pour too fast so that the vanilla portion won't sink all the way to the base.
  • Bake the cheesecake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes till just baked. Over baked cheesecake will taste dry. A way to test is using a toothpick which it will come out with some moist crumbs, not wet or clean.
  • Let the cake cool on the rack completely before removing the from the pan. Preferably chill the cheesecake before serving it.

Again I apologies for the poor quality of my photos. There seems to be something wrong with my 4 year+ camera after a drop recently. :-P Somehow the flash would not work when needed. :-P I had to take like 8 to 10 shots for one angle to get a decent one. ;-P Somehow the cake just looks dull...*sigh*

Good thing the cheesecake still taste smooth and moist. :) The vanilla and chocolate cheese layers compliment each others' taste well. Perhaps next time I would add some real vanilla bean seeds into the vanilla layer to accentuate the taste. :) You might have noticed that the vanilla cheese layer was not evenly layered over the chocolate one. It was my mistake for pouring the vanilla mixture too "hastily" over...so it's not as neat as I hope it would be. ;-P Call it abstract or rustic...it's sure looks homey to me! ;)
I was really glad that the cheesecake was a success and my friends and family still manage to taste my last bake before we moved. ;) When we finished the last slice of this cheesecake...I was asking myself when will I bake another one again? :( No worries, good things comes to those who are patient and waits. :) So lately I have been looking around for steam recipes, to "replace" my baking "urge". Hahaha, sound like some addict! Anyway, hopefully soon, I will be able to bake / steam up something good enough to post up. :) If you all have any good ideas, do drop me a note. :) Have a great day!