Friday, February 26, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Butter Cake

There are still tubs of unfinished new year goodies sitting around on the table. But why...why am I still thinking about baking? I tell myself, "Give yourself a break!" Or at least give your waistline a break! But I will be kidding myself if I say I am totally gonna go on diet. Perhaps I need something different besides those NY cookies, a cake maybe, an unusual sort of cake. :) My poor daughter has been bringing kueh lapis to school for the past 3 days for her recess snack. As much as I know it's one of her favorite, I also know that one cannot eat it continuously for so many days! Furthermore I have already had a long enough break (10 days) away from baking so why not just get busy now! But I ain't gonna toil away in the kitchen just I merely just whipped up a some sort unusual cake, simple yet delicious one though; Cheddar Cheese butter cake. :)I know, you must be wondering if I have a typo or something...nope, you see right, it's Cheddar Cheese alright. Those that you sandwich between your buns plus your BLT. Indeed an unusual ingredient to be in a cake. But I was really intrigued by the usage of a savory cheese and how the end product will it salty or sweet? Since the recipe was really an easy one to follow, I just went ahead with it.

Ingredients for Cheddar Cheese Butter Cake: (makes 2 medium loafs)
80g grated Cheddar Cheese ( I use Kraft brand)
250g all purpose flour
225g caster sugar
250g butter, room temp
4 eggs, room temp
1 tsp baking powder
100ml buttermilk (or 100ml fresh milk plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, let stand 5 mins)
50g shredded Cheddar Cheese for topping

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Greased and lined 2 medium loaf tins with parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together till it's light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
  • Sift in 1/4 portion of the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture, followed by 1/3 of the buttermilk. Repeat this until all flour and buttermilk has been used and blended in.
  • Stir in the shredded Cheddar and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared tins.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes or till the tester comes out clean or with just moist crumbs.
  • Cool the cakes on racks before slicing.
Well, you know what, it is just like what you would imagine...IT IS salty and sweet...all baked up in this golden loaf. The crusty, cheesy top is chewy and salty, a real nice savory contrast from the sweet, moist and buttery cake on the inside. :) In fact, I can still see shreds of cheese inside the cake, giving it extra texture and taste...yum-o! ;)
Okay I admit, the cheese top's color is a bit off...not as golden as I hoped it will turned out. Perhaps that Halogen oven is not that strong? Anyways this is still a lovely treat to have during afternoon tea break. And I bet my daughter will enjoy this tomorrow in school. She has already requested me to pack 2 slices for her after taste testing it just now. :P

Final Thoughts: Will be out of town this weekend to meet up all of my dear friends back in KL. Really looking forward to that. Furthermore, I will also be attending a blogger's gathering...thanks to Quinn. ;) An exciting event that I will definitely not miss! Wonder how and what "sparks" will be triggered during this gathering, hahaha! Will keep everyone posted....have a super duper great weekend all! ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tiger Butter Cookies & Apple Crumble Muffins

So exciting! The Chinese New Year is just around the corner and everyone is just busy cleaning, buying, baking, and decorating! The mood is really in the air. :) It's been so many years since I am home, really home to enjoy this festive holiday with my family in Singapore. I remember the years in California, the first day of CNY is still a working day! And eating reunion dinner would be just me and my husband plus my girls. Not that mood if you know what I mean. It's really good to be home again. :) And in view of the coming Tiger year, I have decided to make some Tiger shaped butter cookies. :) These cookies are very easy to make, only took me 3 hours to complete them. I have adapted the recipe from Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) butter cookie recipe. I did make a slight change to the recipe by adding extra 25g of cornflour into the batter to make it a wee bit more firm. I actually planned to make these for my younger daughter's school CNY celebration next week. But thought I made some in advance for the family to enjoy. Indeed these cookies are light and crisp...and literally melt-in-your mouth, superb! I simply just piped melted dark chocolate ganache over the cookies to draw out the tiger faces. My girls love the buttery light cookies and were even more amused after seeing the tiger faces and chocolate on top. I tasted it again the next day and it is still very good. :)Will definitely keep this recipe for next year. Yummy!

So far this year I only managed to bake Peanut Cookies, Pineapple tarts, 2 kinds of Butter cookies and cornflake cookies. I have to thank my MIL for being so patient and allowing me to bake up so many CNY cookies and cakes in her kitchen. Hopefully next year in my own kitchen I will be able to come up with more yummy bakes for all to share. :)
The next item I wanted to post is Apple Crumble Muffins. I made this mainly for my elder daughter to bring for snack during her recess time. She loves apples, whether it's fresh or made into apple pie, apple tarts etc. And lately she demands to eat apples least half or 1 apple. So I thought why not make her something that she likes so much.
Ingredients for Apple Crumble Muffins (makes 12 standard):
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
75g caster sugar

75g brown sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
240g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
130ml fresh milk

Apple filling:
2 medium to large apples, peeled and cored, cut into small chunks
50g brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon powder

Crumble topping:
60g cold butter, cubed
60g brown sugar
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon powder

  • Using a small heat proof sauce pot, cook the apples together with the rest of the filling ingredients till it's semi-soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool before use.
  • In another mixing bowl, mix everything in the crumble topping ingredients together. Using your finger tips to knead till it resembles bread crumbs. Set aside or refrigerate till needed.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and both the sugars together till light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time and beat till well mixed. Add vanilla extract and blend well.
  • Add 1/4 of the flour mixture into the butter & sugar mixture and mix well. Then add 1/3 of the milk in and again mix well. Repeat till all of the flour and milk has been added.
  • Stir in the apple fillings and pour the batter into the paper lined muffin tins to about 3/4 full. Then scoop about 1 tbsp of the crumble topping over the top, gently pressing a little to make sure it will stick.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes till tester comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest on cooling rack.
I love the moist texture of this cake and the crusty salty sweet crumble toppings. Although the apple scent and taste is not as evident as I hope it is, but it was still a delicious delicate cake to enjoy. My daughter loved it and so did I. :) In fact this muffin is a delicious choice over the usual bread and butter.
Perhaps the next time I tried this recipe again, I shall use Granny Smith rather then those China Fuji, which is less intense in apple taste. I would also reduce the cooking time for the apples so that it has more texture in the muffin. Interested? Do try it out...maybe after CNY.

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone out there:

虎年快乐! 身体健康! 财源广进! 国太平安!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finally... pineapple tarts

Yes, you can say that, I won't blame you. "Finally! That pineapple tart she's been talking about for the past 2 weeks!" Excuse : My motherly duties and other commitments had push this bake back till this very last weekend before CNY. But you know I am worried, since on readers have been telling me they are looking forward to this post ... because I probably will let them down. ;P Well, it's not like I am making the pineapple filling from scratch which I can rave about, nor I have this super great secret recipe which which I'm gonna reveal. It's just wanting so bad to bake these cookies since a month back. Furthermore I am just using the usual store bought fillings from the supermarket. And to think I am also experimenting on a new pastry recipe! But honestly speaking, it just doesn't feel right not having pineapple tarts during CNY...and for me, I have to bake them! It was still hard work, and so far I have already baked about 7 tubs of it...but I am still loving it! I was delighted when I found out that the packet of pineapple filling I bought has the right amount of fact it even has a tang to it! ;) It's great because the previous year's was kind of on the sweet side and the elder group were not keen on my tarts. :P They will say "Ai ya, so sweet!" However this time....they go "Hmmm...not bad." That's a big improvement! :)
I have made them relatively small enough to just conveniently pop one right into the mouth. Then slowly melting down the pastry and mixing the sweet and tangy flavors of the pineapple into it...a wonderful and delicious treat that you just can't stop with one. ;)

Ingredients for Pineapple tart pastry:
280g plain flour
60g corn flour

1/2 tsp baking powder
3 to 4 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1/2 salt 200g quality cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 to 4 tbsp ice water

  • Sift flour, cornflour, confectioner's sugar, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add cubed cold butter and use finger tips to knead the butter in till the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  • Mix the egg yolk with the vanilla extract, then add the ice water in. Add it to the flour & butter mixture. Stir and slowly stir mixture till it forms a soft dough. If dough is too dry and cannot form a dough, add another 1 tbsp ice water.
  • At this point you can choose to chill the dough to be use next time or you can start wrapping the pineapple filling. Shape / decorate as desired.
I am trying to shape my cookie to look like a pineapple if you haven't noticed. :}It sure took a lot of time to individually handle and shape the cookie ...but I am pretty happy with the look. Well at least my 2 little girls are able to tell me what it looks like. :D
Anyway, I still have another last batch to bake tomorrow and I'll be done...will probably try to bake another cake & cookie before I close shop to enjoy CNY. :) Have been seeing some really good butter cookies which I am really eager to try out...hopefully soon!! BTW, can you all believe it took me 2 days of 4 separate sessions (1 hr or 30 mins) to complete this post! Okay, enough jabbering...time to get some Zzzzz. Have a good day all!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Banana Chiffon + When you're happy & you know it

No, it's not pineapple tarts or some Chinese New year goodies. This time is another simple home bake cake for the family to enjoy. I figured I still have this weekend before the "Tiger" arrives, so why not! Okay, I made Banana chiffon, this is my 3rd banana bake in these few weeks. :P But seeing the banana going to waste just not my style, especially knowing that I can turn it into something delicious with a little work. But because I got a little carried away and added too much mashed banana...made my poor chiffon looks like The Colosseum!

I have to thank Happy HomeBaker for this recipe. The cake was moist and light, much to what a good chiffon cake should be. I guess the only thing I would amend next time I make this is to reduce the sugar. Actually I am not sure if it's the over ripe bananas contributing to the sweetness content. Anyway, a good reduction of 2 tbsps of sugar would have be perfect!I have doubled the recipe to make a bigger chiffon cake, plus a few small ones.

Ingredients for Banana Chiffon Cake (make one 20 cm cake & 6 small cupcakes)
6 egg yolks, rm temp
50g caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt
60ml cooking oil
4 medium ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

110g plain flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 egg whites, rm temp
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

100g caster sugar
(will reduce it to 85g next time)

  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside for later use. Preheat the oven to 165°C.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the 50g of sugar & salt till all the sugar & salt has melted. Gradually pour in the cooking oil and stir the egg yolk mixture consecutively till it's all incorporated.
  • Add in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract and stir will till well combined.
  • Finally sift in the flour mixture and making sure all flour is incorporated in and no lumps.
  • In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar till foamy. Then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat the mixture till it reaches stiff peaks.
  • Gently fold the egg whites mixture to the yolk mixture in 3 separate portions and making sure all is mix in well.
  • Pour into the ungreased tube pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or when the tester comes out clean.
I guess the "collapse" of one side of the cake is partly because I added fairly large chunks of bananas into the batter...making the cake rather hard to "rise to the occasion". :P
But overall I actually like the chunky bananas in it, very intense flavor but not over powering...definitely a treat for those banana lovers. :)My daughter had actually asked me where are the chocolate chips?! Hahaha...I told her next time. :P
You all must be wondering why my post title has that song name in it. No no...not that I want to sing to you...just that a couple days back I got a pleasant surprise from DG whom has nominated me to receive this Happy 101 award. Thanks DG! Isn't it just great to know that there is someone out there feels that you give them a little sunshine, a little happiness? The thought of it already makes me happy...very happy. :)

I think I will spare the other bloggers from the "pain" of having to come up with 10 happy things and 10 other blogs to be nominated. Furthermore, most of the blog I can think of has probably have receive this award! As much as I am honored to receive this, I kind of feel this is a "chain award" thingy...seems endless! Just make this a "Happy Ending" yeah?

Lastly...thanks for staying and reading again. Have a good weekend all!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lucky Me

My husband and I decided to go up to KL for a short get away last weekend. It was a really brief trip for me because I spent exactly 24hrs there and had to fly back to Singapore since my girls need to school today. But I have no complains because I still managed to see most of my good friends during this limited time frame and did most of the things I planned. What touched me the most is my friends had took the time out of their busy schedule to meet up with me with such short notice. Furthermore it was a rainy night! :P It was so good to see my dear friends again. Their warm smiles and bubbly laughter never fail to cheer me up. Seeing them made me realize how much I have missed them, just this 1 month period apart.

Besides their , they have showered me with Chinese New Year cookies and gifts that money can never buy. I was quite speechless with gratitude for their ever generous friendship, and a mere thank you for them seems so inadequate. :( I really wish I had done more for them...and whatever I say seems like an excuse for not doing so. All I can promise is I will do better next time and always remember they are really more then just friends. :) Thanks ladies!
5 tubs of CNY cookies from my friends! That is why I say lucky me! All these are homemade by my 3 good friends, and ReeseKitchen herself already gave me 3 tubs! You guys should head to her blog and check out her latest post on CNY cookies. The other 2 tubs were from another 2 good friends Ee Peng and Siew Hoong. There are 2 tubs of pineapple tarts, 1 tub cashew cookies, 1 tub peanut puff and 1 tub peanut cookies. Thanks so much ladies!!
Okay, if you have notice, the photo frame behind is not taken by is also a gift from my friend Ee Peng (taken by her husband TJ). This photo was "artistically" taken by her husband using those antic cameras can take B&W photos. He is really into photography and I was really please that he took a shot of us and actually frame it so nicely for us ladies! Again speechless with gratitude! :P Furthermore, I really love that picture...thanks Ee Peng & TJ.
As for the book on the side, is from my dear friend Susan. She actually took the trouble to search for this book for me, knowing that I wanted it. She is really busy with her own home baking business and taking care of her 2 young infants. But I am truly happy that her baking business is picking up especially since she really have a flair for cake design. Do head over to her blog if you guys are interested. Her blog is Just Celebrate Cakes.
Aren't these cookies just yummy looking? In fact they taste as good as they look. :) And upon receiving these cookies really made me think twice about baking anymore CNY cookies myself, hahaha! What can I say, I am truly satisfied with all these already. :) And since it's been crazy busy with the kids and the new it's seems like a leisure now to have time to bake. :P Even with the free time I have, I have to study for my highway code theory exam to take my driver's license exam!! Still holding the California driver's license now...and I need to convert it before I become an illegal driver on the road. :P But still...I will bake...minimal. Better then none I guess. :)

Thanks for staying with me to read on what I'm jabbering about. :) But I feel truly blessed to have such good friends and hopefully our friendship can stay strong.
Signing off now...have a good one all! ;)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Assorted Butter Cookies and Peanut Cookies

Okay I know, I am way behind on my CNY cookies this year. But there just too many things to attend to, so I have to keep pushing it behind. But fortunately, I managed to squeeze out some time to bake a couple of cookies a week back. One of them is Assorted Butter cookies . Assorted butter cookies because I used the same batter to top off with cashews, jam & sandwich with chocolate spread. The result was a buttery, slight crisp cookie.

Although I still find this cookie not as light and buttery as I expected it to be, it was still good enough to eat. :)

Ingredients for Cashew Butter Cookies (makes about 56):
260g unsalted butter, room temperature
160g confectioner's sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g milk powder
400g cake flour
Topping: Toasted Cashews, Jam, chocolate spread
  • Preheat the oven to 165°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Whip the butter and sugar together till light and creamy. Add egg one at a time and beat in till just combined. Add vanilla and mix well.
  • Sift in cake flour and milk powder and stir till just mixed.
  • Scoop the mixture into a piping bag with a big star tip.
  • Pipe the cookie in circular shape leaving about 2" apart from another.
  • Lightly press a toasted cashew nut on top and repeat till all batter are used.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or cookies becomes light golden brown. Cool on rack and serve or store in airtight containers up to a week or so.
The most popular one was the jam filled ones. But unfortunately those got soften after the next day *sigh*. Most likely the moisture from the jam made the cookies soft. :P But I enjoyed it anyhow. If you are interested to try this recipe out, maybe you can replace 40g of the cake flour with cornflour to make it more light and crisp. And replace the eggs with more butter or shortening. Let me know how it turns out. ;)The other cookie I managed to whip up was the traditional peanut cookies for CNY. I am a peanut person....give me a tub of peanut butter and you got my vote, hahaha. I can eat peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast everyday, anyway. So making this cookie seems like a no brainer for me. :) But to be able to obtain that all fragrant peanut flavor is no easy job. The recipe for this cookie might be simple enough, but preparing for the toasted peanuts aren't so. But guess what, it's all worth it. :)
Ingredients for Peanut Cookies:
550g raw small peanuts, skin on
380g caster sugar
450g all purpose flour
325ml ground peanut oil (add sparingly, if batter comes together, then stop adding)
1.5 to 2 tsp salt

1 egg yolk + 1 tsp milk for egg wash

  • Toast the peanuts in a preheated oven of 200°C, all evenly spread out on a baking tray for 15 minutes. Half way through the baking, toss the peanuts around to get even baking through out.
  • Then transfer those peanuts into a large frying wok. Stir fry for 10 to 12 minutes at medium high heat till the nuts are dark golden brown. If some parts of the skin are charred, it's okay.
  • Remove from work and spread on a cooling tray. When it's cool enough to handle, rub away the skins and shake to separate the nuts out. Save 1 cup of tasted peanuts for topping later.
  • Ground the nuts using the blender till it is fine. Repeat till all nuts are finely ground.
  • In a small sauce pot, heat up 300ml of the peanut oil. When it is warm enough, remove from heat. Add the caster sugar and salt, stir well till all is melted.
  • In another large mixing bowl, mix the ground peanuts and flour together till well blended. Pour the oil mixture in and stir well. If too dry, add the remaining 25ml or more peanut oil till it is enough for you to form a dough ball.
  • Knead the mixture well and start to form the peanut cookies. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  • Each cookie should be about 1.5 tsp amount and roll round. Place the cookie dough on the parchment lined baking tray and brush the surface with egg wash. Then gently top each cookie with toasted peanut.
  • Bake the peanut cookies in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown. Cool on rack before serving.
It's a pity I didn't have enough time to make more to give to my friends this year. Hope they understand. Else I know some of my friends would really enjoy these. :P Verdict? Crumbly, mildly sweet and almost melt in your mouth, bursting with tasty peanut fragrant. :D Yum-o! Do try this recipe out if you are a peanut love just like me. ;)

Hope I will be able to bake my pineapple tarts soon ( I sound like a broken record!) before it's too late! So stay tune....;P