Monday, March 29, 2010

Apple Cream cheese bread & All natural pandan butter cake

Okay, I said I was gonna wait, but I caved. Yeah, I meant to wait till I got my own kitchen to make fresh bread again, but somehow opportunity rose and I just grabbed it! Boy am I glad that I did. ;) It's been months since I last made fresh bread at home. It actually felt real good and relaxing to knead the dough again, even though I got some muscle ache around my wrist after that, lol! :) I have been wanting to try out this Apple cream cheese buns for ages. Eating it is like tasting a cinnamon bun, but with apples and raisins embedded inside. Once it was out of the oven, the smell was wonderful and biting into one was really comforting.:)
Ingredients for Apple Cream Cheese Bread
350g bread flour
100g top flour

40g caster sugar

5g salt

4g instant active yeast

20g skim powder milk

1 whole egg
180ml fresh milk


1 apple, peeled and cut into small chunks

50g brown sugar

10g unsalted butter, melted

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

125g cream cheese, room temp

4 tbsp confectioner's sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plum raisins (optional)


  • Mix all ingredients in main dough except for butter together in a large mixing bowl to form a soft dough. Place on work area to knead or mixer to do the kneading. Knead the dough till it is not sticky, about 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.
  • Meantime, make the filling: Cream the cream cheese, vanilla and confectioner's sugar together till light creamy. Set aside for later use.
  • Mix together the apple chunks, brown sugar, melted butter, lemon juice and cinnamon powder, let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Punch out the air and roll the dough round and let rest for 10 minutes before shaping. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangular shape about 40cm by 30 cm.
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on to the dough surface, leaving a 2 cm border. Then sprinkle the apples(without the juices) and raisins (if using) on top of the cream cheese.
  • Roll up the dough like a Swiss roll and pinch the edges to seal nicely.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the log into wedges, yielding about 8 to 10 pieces. Place cut side up on to a greased baking pan. Let proof for another 45 minutes before baking.
  • At this point you can choose to bake it after 45 minutes, or you can place in the fridge to let it proof overnight (which I did).
  • Preheat the oven at 180°C. Brush simple egg wash solution over the proved bread. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until done. If the top browns too fast, use aluminum foil to cover it and continue to bake till done.
  • Once done, remove from pan and let cool on rack till completely cooled before storing. Best eaten within 2 days.
I had let the dough to proof overnight in the fridge before baking it in the following morning, so the family has freshly baked bread waiting for them. ;) What's better then waking up to freshly baked soft bread! Since I added cream cheese as a filling, the inside was rather hard to cook, so I had to leave it in the oven for an extra 20 minutes after I turned the bread out from the tube pan. If you also have this problem, go ahead and bake the bread in the oven again till the inside is done.
The other item I baked a couple days back is so call all natural Pandan Butter cake. All natural because I did not use pandan essence to flavor the cake, instead I used only thick pandan juice extracted from pandan leaves which I got from my MIL's garden. :) I remember reading about it on Table for 2 or more blogspot on how to extract thick pandan juice after blending it.

I blended about 4 pinescrew leaves with about 200ml of water. I squeeze the mixture through a fine siever into this small container and let it stand for a couple days. Slowly the thick pandan "substance" decant to the bottom. From this 200ml bottle, I was only able to extract 50ml of the thick pandan juice. I know, it's like a lot of waiting and work for this small amount of juice, but through this process, it sort of satisfy the curiosity in me about using this all natural way to bake a pandan cake.

Result? The colour was not as what I expected. It was rather light in green which I presumed I had not added enough thick pandan juice for such a big cake.

So naturally the pandan taste was not too evident *disappointed*. I guess the next time round I should just double the amount of the thick pandan juice for this recipe. Luckily the texture of the cake was still real fine and soft, a nice tea break treat. :)

Ingredients for All Natural Pandan Butter Cake (makes an 8cm round cake)
250g unsalted butter, room temp

200g caster sugar

6 eggs
280 all purpose flour

180ml coconut milk (preferably freshly squeezed)
50ml thick pandan juice (should use 100ml if want more intense pandan flavor)
1/2 tsp salt


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 8cm round cake pan and line with parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time making sure each one is well mixed before adding the next one.
  • Next add in the pandan juice and coconut milk and stir well.
  • Lastly sift in the flour and mix till everything is incorporated.
  • Pour batter into the cake pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes or till tester comes out clean.
Hope you will try out one of the above recipes and let me know how it turns out for you all. Have a good day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Packing up the memories

I was away, away to a place I used to call home. A place which I made plans to stay on for many years to come and perhaps retire too. Where? California. :) My husband and I have so many memories there, mostly fine ones of course. We build our home, our lives and our family there. So when the decision came for us to choose, we were really sad, because we know we'll loose something close to our hearts. Ultimately we know family will always come first, so it all comes back to where we all started off, back home in Singapore. But we did not really bid farewell to California, since our house is still around, it acts like an anchor that pulls us back there...once in a while.

Although this trip was without my kids, we still did not find much time to walk down memory lane. Like visiting our favorite ice cream parlor or that favorite park with a lake where we used to cycle every weekend. I REALLY miss those places a lot. :( Perhaps the next trip...if time permits that is. This time, I wanna share with you all some of the pictures I took randomly while we were running our errands or dinning out during that week in CA. Some of these pictures are places are where I used to drive pass a distant memory. :P

First stop, Hong Kong International airport...the transit point for our long tedious flight. It was lunch time when we reached there, so we went around the food court looking for food.
My husband has been raving about this "食神叉烧饭“ from 皇府, after he first tasted it years back at Hong Kong International Airport. This dish was actually inspired by the movie "食神" by Stephen Chow or 周星馳. So it's no surprise I have to taste it myself.
Verdict: The roast pork are flavorful and tender and with the sunny side egg was real nice. But it's brought down by the plain & dry rice plus that big chunk of vegetable which is kind of hard to swallow. :P Think I would try their noodles next time. :P

After the long flight, we finally arrived at San Francisco Airport. We got our rental car and drove (on the left side) to the hotel to get ourselves checked in. :P

I was left to unpack in the hotel while my hubby went to grab us lunch at the nearby food complex. And he came back with 2 packs of the below lunch set. huge!

Well, I did tell him to get whatever he wants. Well, I could barely fi
nish even half of it! Guess I've been away too long, almost forgotten their usual "upsize" version. Basically it's from a Taiwanese eatery and so that explains that pearl milk tea that comes with this lunch set.

Just the day after we arrived, we happened to be driving past this junction. There I got a glimpse of the Milpitas City Hall, the community center and also where the library used to be behind it. My girls and I used to go there every week.

This is the main cross junction less than a quarter mile from my house. A place which we never fail to drive pass everyday.
California poppies! Yeah, those bright looking flowers are call California poppies...they "pop out" anywhere during Spring time. Such a delight to see them...always puts a smile on my face. ;) Good thing it's spring time over there now...nice weather and of course lovely flowers, what's not to like.

When driving down another major highway (237), I caught sight of something on the fields. See those tiny creatures on the field? Sheep! I am surprise they have a herd of sheep at the field opposite the building where my husband used to work at. When I took this shot, my husband went "You're taking that too?!" Lol!

That night, we managed to meet up an old & close friend of ours. They treat us to dinner! Thanks K & FF!. ;)
They brought us to this nice cosy Japanese Ramen restaurant call Orenchi. (We're BIG fan of Ramen btw) Oh boy it was sure worth the wait (super long queue)! The soup base was flavorful but not over powering. The noodles were "bouncy" and the pork slices were tender. I enjoyed every mouth of it. :P May I add this is one of the best Ramen I've tasted?
See the yolk is still runny? I wish i can achieve that at home. ;) Any tips anyone?
Not forgetting their crispy and flavorful chicken nuggets...really good on it's own. ;) Interested? Check it out when you're near here:
3540 Homestead Rd Santa Clara, CA 95051, USA

Another great snacking place near the place I stayed is this Vietnamese sandwich place call Huong Lan Sandwich IV. IV probably because they have other 3 stores elsewhere. They serve a mean grill pork sandwich.

The baguette was not tough at all, but crisp and a slight bite to it, very good. :) The grill pork plus the pickled vegetables was a really good combo. Would take this over any M's burger. :)

See the wide selection of sandwiches they offer....but I like the grill pork the best. :)

Another great place that I will miss dearly, sorry not shy, is Costco, lol! Costco is like a super huge warehouse that has it all! From fresh produce to electronic stuff, you name it. The difference, the food are normally sold in bulk; meaning 3 whole chickens in a pack, 20 packs of Oreos in box or 2 huge gallons of fresh milk. Call it time saving or cost efficient, my husband and I love to go there....because the things are all huge, lol! Although the prices are not always the best, but it's always fun to shop there. Guess Singapore can never accommodate Costco...such a small island ...probably takes up too much land by itself, lol!

Check out the rows and rows of goods on the racks...makes me all excited just looking at them, lol!

Okay, check out my latest purchase of bake wares and cookbooks. :) Want, need and must have! You said it! I actually pre-ordered these goodies online weeks ahead before I traveled there. Envy? worries I think you can buy them online too. ;)
Thanks to My Kitchen Snippets' help, I managed to snatch up a nice deal on the Nordicware baking pans. ;) Sweet! Love those cookie cutters...makes a nice gift for kids' parties.

I would be a fool if I miss out stuffing myself with a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream this trip. This ice cream brand is really pricey over here in Singapore / Malaysia....what? What diet?
Another interesting shot of a major highway (101). See how the fly-overs layers one over the other?! Confusing....nah, you'll get used to it once you get lost and find your way a couple times, lol!
Although we've been to several restaurants while we were there, I can only show you this much. Preferably the more interesting ones, and the ones with more American "flavor" in it. So I would like to show you this sandwich joint (again) call I.B.'s at Oakland downtown.
They sell a mean Philly Cheese stake sandwich. :) No, you don't have to go Philadelphia for a good cheese stake sandwich, this joint will curb your craving. ;)
This combo cost me USD$7.50 but it's worth every penny! The bun was soft and warm, encasing a stack of tender beef slices and mushrooms, layered with melting Swiss cheese and ranch dressing. Yum!
Don't you want a bite of this? We were in such a hurry at that time, we only devoured half of our sandwiches. An hour later, we got back to the 2nd half and it was still good!

Anyway, I was really glad we managed to finish up most of our relocation work and still got to meet up some of our good friends there. We had a really swell time catching up, and was glad everyone was doing well. Hopefully we will get to visit California again this year...with the kids this time. :) That would means Disneyland again! We'll see...I really hope the next time I go back, I will get to go to my favorite places and I can post it in my blog for remembrance. ;) Thanks for staying on and reading this super long post of are most patient and hope you have a good time reading it. I realize that I am at this for 6++ hours! *phew* ;) Have a good one my friends!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Belated Post - Birthdays & Dinning Out

I know, I know....I have been totally ignoring my blog for the past weeks...which has never happened before. I am really up to my neck right now with the things that I need to attend to and a little breathing space is all I get. :( FACT 1: Relocation is A LOT of work. FACT 2: Moving into and renovating a new house is no doubt also ALOT of work. FACT 3: So when you combine these 2 things together plus taking care of the kids and running your usual's', blood pressure rising and sleepless situations. :( Not good I know...but I figured just a couple more months and all these will smooth out and I can get my usual, not so "crazy" routine back. :) I actually left my 2 girls in Spore with my SIL for the past week while my husband and I went back to California to settle some urgent matters. We were real glad we managed to get that 101 things done as planned and came back just before the school starts. *sigh* Much thanks to my SIL for taking good care of my girls...can't imagine anything would be done as efficient if my little ones are there! :P

Enough you all can't make much sense out of most of the things I'm talking above, hahaha...*sorry*Let's get to our usual! :) To be frank, this post is really long overdue...8 days to be exact. Enough jabbering! Here it is: Just before we left for California, the whole family had a dinner gathering to celebrate my FIL and my eldest niece's birthday. Their birthdays are just a few days apart, so figured it's best to do it together. We went to Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant at One Fullerton that Saturday. We were nicely seated at the outdoor deck and the weather was nice and cooling. Although the Marina Bay Sands has yet completed their hotel, the view was still pleasant. The dinner was nice, some dishes are pretty outstanding while the rest are just pretty normal. Will show you all a few shots of the dishes we ordered.
Looks pretty normal but this Slivered fish fried rice was a big hit, my girls each ate 2 bowls each! These "drunken" prawns tasted really fresh and sweet, and the soup it's swimming in was delicious! Supposedly the highlight of the night, chili crab. However I find the crabs were not that fresh and the chili sauce wasn't that good either.
We cleaned off dinner and headed back home for desert...which is the birthday cake I managed to make with the small pockets of time I had. Not much but it still taste pretty good. ;) It's just a No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake. ;) It's funny when I saw Pei-Lin post it the week before I was pissed with myself...why am I so slow, hahaha! (nothing against you Pei-lin!) ;D So here it is ...finally!I did not have any extra time to put up nice decorations for the cake. So I just melted some semisweet and piped it over. The overall taste of this cake was pretty good. If you are a Oreo lover, this is an absolute treat for you. :) Since I knew my niece likes Oreo, making this was clear choice. :) Good thing my FIL is not very particular on his choice of birthday cake...*phew*! I got this lovely and easy recipe from Kraft Philly's Kitchen.

Ingredients for an 8" OREO Cheesecake
135g crushed OREO cookies (no cream)
65g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, room temperature
160g caster sugar plus the cream removed from the cookies used for the cake base
2.5 tsp of gelatin powder, melted in 4 tbsp of boiling water
2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
200ml dairy whipping cream, whipped
125g of OREO cookies, roughly chopped

  • Grease and line with parchment and plastic wrap an 8" spring form pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine the melted butter with the crushed OREO cookies and mix well. Then press the mixture on to the base of the 8" spring form cake pan. Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  • Beat the cream cheese and sugar till mixture is nice and smooth.
  • Add the gelatin mixture and lemon juice mix well. Then gently fold in the whipping cream, follow by the OREO cookie chunks.
  • Gently pour the cream cheese mixture into the cake pan and let chill for at least another hour before serve.
Do try out this cake when you have the time and craving for OREO and cheesecake. Leave it in the freezer and it will taste like OREO ice cream! ;) Enjoy!

Since I will be writing up my next post soon, I shall not make this any longer then it needs to be. Do stay tune and have a pleasant day all!