If you have been an avid reader of Christopher Tan's work, be it his webpage at www.foodfella.com or the fortnightly food column in The Strait Times, you would have already heard of his latest, greatest creation. His new cookbook, the "NerdBaker", published by EPIGRAM Books. So you must be wondering why am I writing about him? Well, firstly, I happened to be invited to attend his book launch last week...yes, felt so privileged! Of course I got to meet Christopher himself. Nerd or not, he was definitely a walking encyclopedia on food. You can sense his passion, not just in baking, but to share his knowledge on how to bake better and more delicious food. And that book, "NerdBaker" also showcased what he has researched, tested (tasted of course) and presented to you in the most detailed manner on how to replicate his wonderful recipes.
The other main reason why I love about his book is that he incorporates local flairs or flavors into his bakes. Like Pulut Hitam (Black glutinous rice), lemongrass and even miso, into cakes and pastries. Some recipes are just plain exciting, like the Bacon Kouignou-Amann, Chocolate Matcha Macaron Tart and Intelligent Black Rice Cake! I am literally planning which day I can try these recipes out! Be still my heart, haha!
I really wanted to try his recipes even though it has been a crazy busy weekend...I opted for an easier recipe in the book; Black Velvet cupcakes. Why black, what makes it black? Bamboo charcoal? Super Black Chocolate? Neh...it is Black glutinous rice flour, aka Tepung Pulut Hitam.
Kind of black I know. But they are Black Velvet cupcakes right haha! Some how mine didn't turn out as pretty purplish-looking as Chris's version in the book, which I think he uses grains from different country maybe? But I am pretty sure the taste is almost as awesome as his...because these babies are delish!
Due to Copyrights reasons, I won't be able to share Christopher's original recipes here. But I bake a varied version which I made several changes to the original recipe. Changes which I felt will not alter the "integrity" of this wonderful recipe. ;) But bare in mind this is my own creation and has in no way trying to replace Chris's recipe. And that is why I named mine Black Glutinous Rice Cupcakes instead of Black Velvet Cupcakes. So ya...try at your own risk heehee...
Recipe for Black Glutinous Rice Cupcakes (Makes 10-12 3-ounces cupcakes)
125g Black Glutinous Flour (See *Note)
125g cake flour
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
120g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp of wild flower honey
150ml coconut milk (I used Ayam Brand canned coconut milk, really good!)
50 ml fresh white milk (I will try buttermilk next time!)
80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
40 ml cold pressed coconut oil (I bought mine from California during my last trip back "home")
*Note : The last time I "encountered"black glutinous rice flour was actually from a nice blogger friend whom bought a pack of the flour for me when she return from Batam. I have tried searching for it here but couldn't find any. :P So I took up Chris's advice in the book; that is to buy raw black glutinous rice grains, freeze them hard and blend them with a high wattage blender till powdery form.
To ensure the flour is fine enough, sieve it through a fine sieve. Repeat the blending on those bigger grains till all is finely ground till flour form. Store in air tight containers for use later. Should stay fresh for a good 2-3 weeks.
- Combine the coconut milk and milk together in a heatproof bowl. Microwave it for 2 minutes on high. Or you can put in a pot over medium fire and cook till small tiny bubbles appear on the side. immediately remove from fire. DO NOT boil it.
- Add the black glutinous rice flour and salt into the heated milk. Give it a good stir till well combined. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. (This step will allow the rice to absorb the milk and thus soften the grains more easily)
- In the meantime, prepare pan with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 180C. Have a cup of kopi and chill till the alarm calls for you. ;)
- Next you sift in the cake flour and baking powder in. Add in the 2 eggs, coconut oil, melted butter and caster sugar.
- Mix well with a whisk till well incorporated.
- Lastly, add in 1 tbsp of that wild flower honey. Hmmm...why honey in pulut hitam...why not gula melaka? I'll ask Chris next time haha!
- Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake liners. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 14-16 minutes or till the cake tester comes out clean.
Not hard to make isn't it? I think even my kids can do this! Perhaps the most tedious part was blending the black glutinous rice to flour.
The taste is like eating "Orh-Bee-Ber" (Bubur Pulut Hitam) in cake form. If you are already a fan of this Black Glutinous Rice dessert, then you are gonna love this cake. Moist, fine crumbs and all so fragrant! It has this unique texture of slight chewiness...a true replica of a local flavor into a whole new form. A "form" even the younger generation will love, like my kids!
I hope this recipe inspire you to try it out. It seriously taste better then it looks haha! Hopefully I will be able to try out more recipes from Chris's book...soon. ;)
If you are interested to get "NerdBaker" cookbook, head on to any major bookstores like Kinokuniya or Popular. Alternatively, Shermay's Cooking School in Holland Village also carries signed copies with an additional 10% off! Hurry! In case you wonder...No, I'm not paid to say any of the above, all view and opinions are mine.
Okay, signing off now, before the clock strikes 12am!
Till next time, happy baking guys!