Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Royal Icing Butter Biscuits

I came to know Grace for awhile now and I believe most of you known her from Kitchen Corner. She's a warm person with great baking talents. As we all know she had a baby boy a year back and Grace has been busy with him ever since. Recently she held a birthday party for her dear son and I had the honors to be part of this joyous occasion. She had requested me to bake some cookies for her guests. I thought long and hard and finally decided to make some butter biscuits with royal icing. Although I have done it a couple times before (for fun), but never on a large scale or for a special occasion. So I knew I had to do a good job and deliver. ;P
I confess, I love love love cookie cutters! I bought so many shapes and sizes while I was in States and have yet got a chance to use most of them. I even got the book "Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits" by Nigella Lawson because I love iced cookies, they're so pretty! Seriously.
I have been browsing admiringly at the beautiful designs on that book for a year now and have yet had the opportunity (or time) to do it until now, lol! So thanks Grace!
Making the cookie dough, cutting them out and baking them was not at all difficult. The more tedious part was actually making the royal icing to the correct consistency and applying it on the cookie. BTW, check out my nice cake pan which a dear friend gave me last Xmas, heehee. ;D
Took me a whole day to get everything done...from morning to midnight! But don't get me wrong, I had fun making these cookies. I learn a lot too, and am confident that next time I will know how to get a better iced biscuit done.
I have opted to use meringue powder for the royal icing recipe even though the taste might be compromised. However to prevent any food issues, meringue powder seems a better choice.

I did made some slight changes to the recipe to make sure its not overly sweet. Here is the recipe in case any one you are interested to try this out:

Ingredients for Simple Butter Biscuits: (Makes about 30 to 40, depending on your biscuit size)
500g plain flour
180g caster sugar (I used 180g confectioner's sugar instead)
250g salted butter, diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
splash of milk, if required (I omitted this)
  • Sift flour and sugar together into a mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Add the butter. Using just your finger tips, rub together the ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • When all the butter is evenly mixed in, mixed, make a well in the center and add the eggs and a splash of milk if required, to bring it all together into a smooth dough.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, wrap with cling wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before use.
  • Once chilled, remove from fridge, and roll the dough flat to about about 5mm thick over all between two sheets of plastic wrap. Then transfer the whole sheet of rolled dough still sandwiched between the plastic wrap to the fridge to chill for another 20 minutes before cutting.
  • Repeat the same process for the other half of the dough.
  • Preheat oven to 170C.
  • Remove dough sheet from fridge, then start to cut. Lift each biscuit carefully and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat till all the dough been used up.
  • Bake the cookies for 14 to 18 minutes and rotate tray at mid point of the baking time if needed.
  • Let biscuits cool completely on a rack and get working on the royal icing.
Ingredients for Basic Royal icing (meringue recipe)
60ml water
350g confectioner's sugar
10g meringue powder
  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, starting with the liquid first.
  • Add the dry ingredients and whisk or beat for about 5 minutes. Whisk until the ingredients forma thick, smooth paste that is bright white in colour and has the consistency of s toothpaste.
  • If you are not using the icing immediately, cover the surface with cling wrap to prevent it from drying up and refrigerate.
Since there is so much technique involve in the icing step, namely coloring, lining and flooding, I shan't go into detail today. You can try searching for videos in YouTube, they will show you all the basic techniques. :)
I was pretty contented with how the biscuits had turned out. The butter biscuits were sturdy enough and the taste was very buttery too! The biscuits itself wasn't sweet at all, so eating it with the royal icing was just nice. Plus I had made the cookies to the right thickness so that each bite will be well balanced. (^o^) *phew* Anyway, hope the guests like the biscuits like I did. :P

If you are trying this out, be sure to share your experience with me, I would love to hear from them!
Okay all, got to run, have a good one! Cheers

Monday, February 20, 2012

Soft Pumpkin Milk Loaf (超軟南瓜鮮奶吐司)

I love breads made with root vegetables. It always yields really soft breads with good textures. Plus the breads tends to stay soft even on the 3rd day. I guess it helps retains the moisture in some way. Readers that know that I'm a bread making "addict" will know I love using root vegetables. (^_^) Pumpkin has got to be one of my top favorites. So today I want to share with you all this wonderful pumpkin bread recipe that I a week++ ago, heehee. Yeah...those backlogs are piling up. :P Nonetheless, I will post those recipes that I think it's worth cooking!
I got this great recipe from 孟老師烘焙園地, which is one of my favorite blogs to check out for good recipes. :) Although the recipe calls for "cooking" the pre-dough and chilling it up to 8 hours, these steps did yield a very rewarding end result. I did it a day ahead and almost forgotten about my pre dough, so it was chilled up to almost 24 hours. No harm done of course, so long as it not more then 2 days old, and stored properly in the fridge, you're good.
Haha, please pardon my bad shaping skill! I was only using my rough gauge instead using the weighing machine when portioning the dough. :P So this time I won't blog the shaping part, heehee. Okay, here is the recipe for this yummy bread: (note that my portion is 1.5 X of the original, so feel free to use the original protion)

Ingredients for Soft Pumpkin Milk Loaf (makes 1 standard 12" loaf and 4 buns)
Pumpkin pre dough:
150g pumpkin, peeled, steamed and pureed
30g bread flour
105ml water

In a heatproof sauce pan, add in all the above ingredients, mix well until all is combined. Then start the fire and cook the mixture till it thickens, about a couple minutes. Let cool completely then store in container and chill in fridge for up to 8 hours before use.

Main Dough:
All of the above pre dough
450g bread flour
60g caster sugar
3/4 tsp salt
6g active dry yeast (1.5tsp)
170ml fresh milk (you can start with 150ml and add as per needed)
35g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • In a heavy duty mixer, add in all the above ingredient except the butter and knead everything together to form a soft pilable dough. Continue to knead/mix till the dough is not sticky, then add in the butter. Knead well till it reaches elastic and window panel stage. It took me about 20 to 25 minutes on my KA mixer at medium speed with 2 times of 2 minutes break in between.
  • Let the dough proof in a well greased bowl for about 1.5hr to 2hrs or until it has doubled its size.
  • Punch out the air and divide the dough in 600g and 4x70g or approximation to the weight you have with the dough. Shape the 600g portion for a loaf while the 4x70g portions for buns.
  • Shape as desired, top with desired filling for buns and let proof for another 45mins. Preheat the oven to 180C while proofing.
  • Glaze the dough tops with egg wash and bake in the oven for 28-30 minutes for loaf while 14 minutes for buns.
  • Once done, remove from oven. Remove the loaf from the pan after 3 minutes and let cool completely before slicing.

I love how the bread turned out and so did my family. Here's a sneak peek at the soft texture of the bread:
I also made some egg mayonnaise buns for my kids to bring to school the next day. They enjoyed it very much. :))
If you are thinking about baking pumpkin bread, I urge you to try this out. I'm sure you family will love this bread as much as mine.

Have a good week ahead all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Easy Valentine's Day Desert : Baked Chocolate Custard

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone! Hope you have a day full of love and joy today. Whether you spent the day at a fine dinning restaurant or just a quiet dinner at home with your love one, I'm sure it's a wonderful one. For people like me that is married with kids, probably have lesser chance or time to appreciate this day. But just think of it this way, so long as you and your love one enjoy the time spend together, any day can be Valentine's Day! Most importantly is to cherish one another. (^o^)

Today I would like to introduce a lovely and delicious desert that is sure to melt your love ones' heart when they get a taste of it; Baked Chocolate Custard.
I got this wonderful recipe from a cookbook from Donna Hay. Its been ages since I used it and am glad I did this time! All thanks to Zoe who has this "Cook like a Star" blog hop thing that got me digging through my cookbooks. However the event will only starts in March so I guess my post is too early for it. :P Nevertheless, I am sure this recipe will be an excellent treat to have whether its Valentine's Day or just any day! Plus it is so so easy to whip up too! Check out the recipe:

Ingredients for Baked Chocolate Custard (makes 6 x 4oz ramekins)
1 cup whole milk (I used 1/2 cup chocolate, 1/2 white)
1 cup (single or pouring) fresh cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Valrohna 70% cocoa)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
100g caster sugar (you can reduce if using milk chocolate)
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 150C. Place chopped chocolate, milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat and stir well till all the chocolate has melted and mixed in. Continue to heat till hot but not boiling. Remove from fire and set aside for use later.
  • Place the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla in another mixing bowl and mix well till combined. Slowly whisk in the cream and milk mixture in to the egg mixture until all is combined.
  • Grease 6 x 4 oz ramekins. Pour the hot custard into the ramekins through a fine sieve / strainer. Place the filled ramekins into a baking tray and pour in enough hot water to fill about halfway up the side of the ramekins.
  • Bake for about 35 minutes or until just set. Serve warm or cold.
I think I took at most a little over an hour to get this done. Really so easy to whip up, I think even my 7 year old can do it, lol! I much preferred it chilled since it taste like thicken chocolate pudding / cream that is so smooth and chocolaty...heaven! Be sure to use the best quality dark chocolate you can find, it makes all the difference. (^_^)
My whole family loved it! Top with ice cream or whipped cream? You don't need any of those, because it is already so good on its own. Try it out and you will soon be scooping and scraping to the bottom of the ramekins to get to the very last bits of it. ;)

Okay everyone, that's all I have for you all today. Hope your Valentine's Day celebration was a lovely and memorable one! Cheers all!

Monday, February 6, 2012

元宵节快乐!Red Date Chiffon Cake (红枣戚风蛋糕)

Time sure past real fast! Lunar New Year has finally come to an end. I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful 元宵节 or also known as "Chap Goh Meh" (15th night). A nice ending to a wonderful NY celebration to all. ;)

Want to share with you all a nice chiffon recipe that I tried out recently. Its Red Date Chiffon, 红枣戚风蛋糕. I first saw it at 孟老師烘焙園地, and I knew I had to try this. ^_^ With similar idea, I modified the recipe so that I have a stronger red date scent in the cake without having to do a prolong soaking process. I made the cake twice and finally settled on a recipe that will work well and with a evident red date taste.
Notice the red date pieces on top kind of make the cake sunk down a little. But those pieces plays a big part in enhancing the red date taste. :) In my first attempt, I didn't place any sweetened red date chunks over the top and I added less red date puree, so the chiffon tasted a little more like plain vanilla. Anyway, here is the improved recipe:

Ingredients for Red Date Chiffon Cake (红枣戚风蛋糕) (fills a 20-21cm tube pan)
60g dried red dates (mine were not pitted, but if yours is, that will be great)
4 large egg yolks (~80g)
26g caster sugar
70ml vegetable oil
40g honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
40ml fresh milk
100g superfine cake flour (cake flour is ok too)

5 large egg whites (~180g)
40g caster sugar
10g cornflour

  1. To prepare the red dates, score each of the date with a sharp knife. Then place the red dates along with some water just enough to cover in a heat proof saucepan. Place over the fire and let boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Let the dates simmer for at least 15 mins and keeping an eye over making sure its not dried up or burnt out.
  2. When the dates are soft and water has reduced to a thick syrup. Remove and let cool.
  3. When cooled, pit the dates if needed. Take about 3 tbsp worth and slices them into big chunks and place in the honey. Heat the honey mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds and let stand till needed.
  4. For the rest of the red dates, blend them till puree and set aside for use later.
  5. In a large mixing bow, add egg yolks 26g caster sugar, vegetable oil, honey and combine well. Then mix in the the red date puree, milk and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  6. Gently spoon out those date chunks in the honey and place them evenly at the base of the tube cake pan.
  7. Finally sift in the cake flour and stir till well mixed in. Preheat the oven to 175C.
  8. In a separate mixer bowl, beat the egg white till foamy. Then gradually add in the caster sugar and beat till soft peaks. Add in the cornflour and continue to beat till stiff peaks.
  9. In 3 separate portions, add the white to the yolk mixture and stir in gently. Then pour the batter into the prepared tube pan and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes till tester comes out clean.
What I like about this cake is its healthy and the mildly sweet taste, totally not sinful to munch up two slices or more, heehee. Plus I received pretty good reviews from my family, so I guess it's a pretty successful attempt. :)
The cake was soft and fluffy with bits and chunks of red date in it. A wonderful treat after a meal along side with some tea. Hope you will try this out. Maybe consider serving it during CNY...well next year. :) Well red dates does feels like an auspicious ingredient right, I think. :))

I am happy to submit this recipe to Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (January 2012) which is hosted by Wen's Delight.
Okay all, have a good week ahead!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Oreo Surprise Chocolate Cupcakes

After baking batches and batches of New Year cookies for the past weeks, it seems all "refreshing" to bake up some cupcakes for a change. Plus my girls have been asking for some cupcakes with buttercream lately. I guess they had enough of fatt goh and kueh lapis for now, lol! So I decided to bake some moist dark chocolate cupcakes (with an Oreo surprise) and top them off with delicious Oreo cookie Swiss Meringue buttercream. Sounds good? It is. ;)
Ehh...where's the cake? Oopsie...guess I filled the batter a bit too short, and probably worried about all that overflowing of chocolaty goodness. :P So if you does attempt this recipe, remember to be a little more generous and fill to 75% to 80% full.
Nevertheless, the taste of the cupcakes didn't disappoint, it was chocolaty and very "Oreoy", just what I was hoping for. ;) If you are wondering what and where is that "Oreo surprise" I was referring on.

recipe inspired by Bakegirl plus some modifications
Ingredients for Oreo Surprise Chocolate Cupcake with Oreo SMB (Makes about 12 cupcakes)
90g dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used Valrohna)
40g unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrohna cocoa powder)
3/4 cup hot coffee, preferably brewed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g all purpose flour
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
12-15 Oreo halves with cream filling attached

Making the cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 175C. Prepare about 12 to 15 cupcake liners. The place the Oreo halves with cream at the bottom of the liners with the cream facing up. (That's the hidden Oreo surprise!)
  • Place the chopped chocolates and sifted cocoa powder a heat proof bowl. Then heat up the coffee till very hot. Pour the coffee over the chocolate and cocoa powder and then gently mix it up till all combined and smooth. Let cool before use.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk in eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and vinegar till combined. Then add in the cooled chocolate mixture and stir in well.
  • Sift the plain flour, baking powder, salt and baking powder in. Then gently stir well and do not over mix. Divide the batter equally into the cupcake liners and fill up to 80% full.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or till the tester comes out clean or with soft crumbs. Let cool completely before topping with cream.
  • For the cream topping, I have chose to use Swiss meringue Buttercream mixed with the reserved halves of the Oreo cookies blended till crumbs. You can use sweetened whipping cream if desired too. For the SMB recipe, please refer to here.
My kids love anything with this is such a treat for them ...and me too! ;)
I hope these little Oreo cupcakes will be part of your sweet deserts served over this weekend (last CNY weekend!). I had fun making them, hope it will be for you too!

Have a super duper nice weekend all! Cheers!