Saturday, April 21, 2012

面煎糕/ Traditional chinese pancake

It was raining so heavily this morning that it's such a luxury to be staying at home and sleeping in. My lil boy and I actually planned to visit my brother's baby early in the morning and have our breakfast around there, but alas the rain kept us indoor. Zak was so happily playing his 3 sets of Thomas & Friends' train tracks that he doesn't want to get out of the house for breakfast too. A good opportunity for me to try out this 面煎糕 which I chanced upon at Gigi in the House blog. It is really a simple recipe and taste close to the real stuff - sprinkled with store-bought coarsely ground peanuts generously and added with lots of sugar! That's our breakfast plus 2 half-boiled eggs each, what a heavy meal to start the day!

面煎糕/ Traditional chinese pancake(yield 3 pieces of 6" pancake)

Ingredients/ Method
165g all purpose flour
2 eggs
30g caster sugar
1/2tsp yeast
210ml water

Peanut fillings
Coarsely ground peanut

1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside for 30 mins.
2) Heat up a non-stick pan using low heat and pour 1/3 of the batter into it.
3) Cook for about 1 minute or so on low heat. The surface will appear to be "holey".
4) I use a sharp knife to remove the pancake from the pan, and transfer onto a plate.
5) Sprinkle any fillings you like and ready to serve.

I did a thick pancake and 2 thinner pancakes which I rolled them up. Still prefer the thick one, which taste and look so nostalgia, the way it was done when I was a little kid. Now that I don't need to spend 70cents for a small slice of 面煎糕, and can easily churned out fresh ones from my own kitchen! A keeper recipe o(^^)o

I love this picture, "peanut picking", hand model - who else but my lil Zak :D

Monday, April 16, 2012

Full month celebration

One month seems to have passed so fast and we were celebrating my younger niece's full month yesterday. From a tiny baby at slightly more than 2 kg at birth, she has put on healthy pounds with so much tlc from her mommy, daddy, grandma & "auntie" (the confinement lady). If my beloved late mom is around, she would be very very happy to see that all her children have settled down and started our own family. But I believe that she can see us from above and continue to give us her blessings from wherever she is now. Most importantly, wishing bb YL healthy, cheerful and happy always!

For the full month celebration, I have again* offered my brother & sis-in-law that I can prepare cupcakes for the party. (*again = the last was during their wedding dinner!) Thankfully they agree and I had another opportunity to play with fondant modelling. I did a simple chocolate cupcakes using valrhona cocoa powder and top with nursery themed fondant.

Valrhona chocolate cupcakes
(I doubled the below recipe to yield 55 mini cupcakes)
Ingredients/ Method:
185g butter
250g fine sugar
200ml evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
125g all-purpose flour (plain flour)
70g valrhona cocoa powder
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp vanilla essence

1. Sift flour, cocoa power, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla essences and butter in a saucepan.
3. Stir over low heat until sugar dissoclved and butter melted. Remove from heat.
4. Add the beaten eggs into the slightly cooled mixture and stir till well mixed.
5. Add egg mixture over the flour and stir till well mixed.
6. Spoon batter into baking cups using ice-cream scoop till slightly more than 1/2 cup full. (The cake rises a fair bit, so if you want a nice dome cupcake, fill up about slightly less than 3/4 cup)
7. Baked at pre-heated oven of 180 deg C for 18 to 20 mins or till the skewer inserted into cupcake comes out clean.
8. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Orange butter cake

The Easter long weekends gave me enough time to unwind and time to bake. Other than the Vanilla Beans Macarons, I also baked some orange butter (cup)cakes. It was meant to be a test bake for my niece's full month celebration this coming Sunday, and I'm now torn to bake this or my favourite chocolate cake.

Actually just this year, our family is blessed with 2 "小龙女" (baby girl born in the year of dragon per chinese zodiac), first from my elder sister who's residing in States, and second from my youngest brother. Because of the distance, we are not able to fly over to States to hug the lil one now but I'm already planning to go by next year or earlier if possible. With my brother's newborn baby, it gave my boy more excuses to take the train to visit them during the weekends. I can't forget my boy's first expression when he saw my brother's baby in the hospital - anticipating, exciting, happy and bewildered! He must be imaging how the baby was in my sis-in-law's bump on a Saturday and came out as such a beautiful baby 2 days later! It still bewildered me and keep me constantly amazed with such miracle and beautiful creations!

Anyway back to baking the cake, I love how the orange zest were rubbed with the sugar - smell, taste and sight, love how each addition of ingredients were incorporated into the batter. The mixture didn't get too wet even with fluids being added and it just turned out so beautifully! Taste-wise, the cake turned out like an old-fashioned butter cake, moist and fluffy. The orange zest give you a slight twist and it feels good knowing that only 100% fresh orange juice is used!

Orange butter cake
(Recipe adapted from Baking Library;
yield 12 standard size cupcakes, 2 mini loaves)

Ingredients/ Method:
250g self raising flour, sifted
250g good quality unsalted butter, softened
185g castor sugar (I reduced it to 170g)
170g whole eggs, at room temperature (about 3 eggs)
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
finely grated zests of 2 oranges

1) Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Prepare baking tins or lined cupcake moulds and set aside.
2) Grate the orange zest over sugar and rub them together. You will get orange-infused sugar, super nice!
3) In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and orange-infused sugar on medium high speed for about 5 mins until pale and fluffy.
4) Add beaten eggs to butter mixture in 6 additions, ensuring that each addition is well incorporated before adding the next addition.
5) Add 1/3rd of flour to the egg-butter mixture on low speed till well incorporated. Next add in half of orange juice to batter till well incorporated.
6) Add another 1/3rd of flour to the batter till well incorporated. Add the remaining orange juice and mix till well incorporated. Lastly add the remaining flour into the batter and mix till well incorporated.
7) Scrape the side and bottom with a spatula for any loose ingredients.
8) Using an ice-cream scoop, fill up 2/3rd of the lined cupcake mould and bake at 180 deg C for 25-30 mins.
9) For mini loaves, I bake for about 40-45 min at 180 deg C.
10) Check doneness when skewer come out clean after inserted into cake.
11) Allow cake to cool completely on wire rack.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Vanilla beans macarons with lemon curd

After many fail-carons, I'm finally able to close the chapter with this happy feet-Macarons! It's rather frustrating and annoying whenever the bakes fail, but usually I would try & try until they turn out right. Just like these little macarons, really put my preserverance to test! Urgggh....

With each macaron that failed, I would go in search for other 'easy' recipes. And I'm lucky to find one recipe in Brave Tart that I can manage, though I made a few modifications on the steps. I find her 10 myths and 10 commandments on macaron very useful, and pretty easy to understand.

French Macarons
(Slight modifications, and I did a quarter of the original recipe)
115g almond meals
230g powdered sugar
144g egg whites, temperature and age not important! (I used 5-days aged egg white, room temp)
72g sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) salt
1 ) Preheat oven to 150 deg C.
2) Sift almond meals and icing sugar, or blitz them in food processor and sift. Set aside.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar and beans (not the extract) and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on KA) for 3 mins. Increase speed to medium-high (7 on KA) and whip another 3 mins, and speed 8 for another 3 mins.
4) Turn mixer off and add in any extracts or colour and whip for a final min on highest speed, till well mixed.
5) The egg mixture will be a very stiff and dry meringue, where there will be a big clump of meringue in the centre of whisk.
6) Put all dry ingredients into the meringue and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both folding motion to incorporate the dry ingredients and a pressing motion to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.
7) Transfer the batter into piping bag and pipe onto non-stick baking sheet.
8) After piping, hold the sheet pan and hit it hard against the counter to dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause the macarons to crack.
**The original recipe does not require drying the shells before baking. But I did dry them in the oven which was pre-heated at 130 deg C for about 8 mins (oven is off during drying the shells), a tip I learnt from Honey Bee Sweet.
9) Bake for about 18 mins or until the macarons can be easily peel off from the baking sheet. If it still sticks, continue to bake for a min and constantly check when it's done.
10) Cool the macaron on the baking pan before peeling the cooled macarons from the baking sheet.
11) Sandwich the macaron with your favourite filling, eg lemon curd, and leave in fridge overnight in air-tight container for flavour to infuse and for biscuit to soften.


Since there are still some aged egg whites in the fridge (though aged egg white is not necessary in this recipe), I'm likely to make the last round of chocolate macarons. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Vanilla beans lemon curd

For the past weeks, I've been trying my hands on macarons and sadly I've got more fail-carons than those delicate beauties. Gone were at least a dozen of egg whites, almond meals, icing sugar... Some fail-carons were still edible even though they were feetless, some were over-baked, some were under-baked, some were coyingly sweet, some were as flat as the airplane runway, some were undermixed and looked rough and tough, etc. The last I did was a vanilla beans macaron with a sunset yellow hue, with pretty feets that I thought I was lucky but it failed on me again! It doesn't help that I only realised it after I started preparing a nice vanilla beans lemon curd filling for what was supposed to be a pretty orangey-yellow macaron. I can't sleep and function well without successfully baking an attractive looking and yummy macarons, literally. I've just separated the eggs to age this morning, and let's see what happen next?

Meanwhile, the only consolation out of so many failures was the real tangy lemon curd, which I had modified using Frozen wings' passionfruit curd. Simply easy and delicious on its own!

Vanilla beans lemon curd
(Yields about 235gm curd)

Ingredients/ Method:
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
lemon juice from 2 lemons (rind and freshly squeezed)
zest from 2 lemons
2 tbsp caster sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
50gm unsalted butter

1) Put all ingredients except butter in a bowl over simmering water, at low heat.
2) Using a hand whisk, stir the mixture continuously until thicken (looks like baby porridge). It should take around 7-8 minutes. (According to Frozen wings, the mixture is ready when it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.)
3) Remove from fire and put in the butter and continue to stir until the butter has melted.
4) Let the mixture cool and store in a sterilised jar and refrigerate.