Sunday, August 31, 2014

Traditional mooncakes

Ever since I started my baking journey six years ago, I did my first snowskin mooncakes then as it was the easiest mooncakes to come up with. Though I always wanted to try out the traditional mooncakes, it somehow looks quite daunting for me. I've been procrastinating for a good six years. I just didn't have the courage to do it. This year would have been the same or no mooncakes at all.

Until last month, my aunt was inviting us to participate in the mid-autumn celebration at the old folks home that we have doing some volunteer work. Unfortunately I had pre-arrangement on the day of event and were not able to attend. Somehow the conversation led to doing my bits by contributing homemade mooncakes.

With my limited experience, I could only offer to make snowskin mooncakes and we even did trials for that. However, we were then told that the old folks would prefer the traditional type and also for logistical reasons, the snowskin mooncakes may not keep well in room temperature especially if the old folks did not consume them within the day. And so I told my aunt I was not able to contribute any homemade traditional mooncakes as I had never did them before, and we may have to buy the traditional mooncakes from the store for the event.

Feeling unsettled, I started to look out for easy traditional mooncakes recipes and read up a few. I thought maybe I should give it a try this time, and went ahead to do a trial bake. It was a long 3-days wait for the mooncakes to 回油, tasted it and ohmy, it's a success!

It took me a total of 2 days rolling the lotus paste, another 1 over day to mould and bake with my aunt, and another day for packing them. Hehe... I almost forgotten that my lil boy helped me with measuring the dough for wrapping as well! 180 pieces of presentable mini mooncakes, couple of QA-failed mooncakes, another 10+ ok pieces to be given away to family, and some piggies purely for me to play with the dough!

I'm glad that I could do my little bit for the old folks, and without them, I would not have the push factor to have my hands on traditional mooncakes. To those who are still procrastinating, please give it a try, it's not that daunting afterall!

Traditional mooncakes
(Recipe adapted from Happy Home Baking)

Ingredients/ Method
(makes 10 mini mooncakes)

100g plain flour
70g golden syrup
2ml alkaline water
25ml peanut oil or canola oil

300g low sugar white lotus paste
30g melon seeds, toasted

Egg wash
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

  1. Mix lotus paste with toasted melon seeds. Divide the fillings into 30g portions and shape into balls. Set aside. 
  2. Place golden syrup in a bowl. Add in alkaline water, stir to combine. Add in oil, mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, put in plain flour and create a well in the centre. Add in golden syrup mixture and mix with a spatula to form a soft dough. 
  4. Gently knead the dough till smooth (takes about 1 - 2 mins). Shape it into a smooth round dough.
  5. Wrap dough with cling wrap and leave in fridge to rest for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  6. Dust work surface with some flour and give the dough a few light kneading to smooth it. 
  7. Divide dough into 20g and shape each dough into a ball. 
  8. Dust hand and rolling pin with flour and flatten each dough into a small disc. Wrap it around the filling and shape it into a ball. 
  9. Lightly dust the mooncake mould with some flour and place the wrapped dough into it. Using the mooncake plunger/ mould, press and gently remove the mooncake. Place the mooncakes on lined baking tray. 
  10. Spray some water on the mooncakes to prevent them from cracking during baking. 
  11. Bake at pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 10 mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15 mins. 
  12. Egg wash the mooncake top. Return to oven and continue to bake for another 12 - 15 mins or until golden brown. 
  13. Leave mooncakes to cool completely and store in air-tight container. Wait for 3 - 4 days for mooncake to 回油 (for skin to soften) before serving. 

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (August 2014 Event: Flour) - organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

Wishing Everyone ... Happy Mid-Autumn, and Happy Reunion! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baked farfalle with tuna

"What's for lunch tomorrow?"

The last we had a baked pasta was when we were holidaying in States, and it was a home-cooked baked meat spaghetti by my dear sis. It was really good, especially the meatballs with lots of herbs, and even until now, I'm still thinking of it at times.

Somehow, I'm not ready to make the seems-so-tedious meatballs. So when I saw mui mui's Tuna Pasta Bake, I was all ready to prepare it. However, I did not follow her recipe to a T, except for the delicious cheesy/mushroom sauce.

This was actually baked last week but it took me a while to complete jotting down the recipe and method. With the cheesy/ mushroom sauce, this baked farfalle is very delicious!

Baked Farfalle
(serve 6-8 persons)

 (A) about 200g farfalle (or any pasta) (I didn't measure it, just grab 6 handfuls of pasta)
1 tsp salt

(B) yellow onions
olive oil
1 can of tuna in chunks
baby carrots
fresh tomatoes, diced
shiitake mushrooms
some dried mixed herbs
2 cups ready pasta sauce (I used Prego's fresh mushroom italian sauce)

(C) grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle  (optional)
grated cheddar cheese, to sprinkle (optional)

  1. Boil farfalle in a pot of boiling water and salt as per instructions. Drained and set aside.
  2. Boil carrots and broccoli in a separate pot for about 3- 5 mins. Drained and set aside.
  3. In a pan, fry yellow onions in olive oil till slightly brown. Add in mushrooms, followed by prawns and fry for about 3 mins.
  4. Add in carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, tuna and dried mixed herbs and continue frying for about 1-2 mins.
  5. Add in pasta sauce and cook till mixture boils. Remove from heat.
  6. Stir in farfalle.
  7. In a oven-proof dish, pour in farfalle with sauce. Set aside.
  8. Top farfalle with cheesy/ mushroom sauce.
  9. Sprinkle with some grated parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese.
  10. Bake in pre-heated oven 180 deg C for about 10 mins, or when the top is slightly golden brown.

Cheesy (mushroom) sauce
(recipe adapted from My little favourite DIY)
yellow onion
40g butter
100g brown cap mushroom (I omit)
2 tbsp plain flour
300ml milk
60g grated cheddar cheese

  1. To make cheesy/ mushroom sauce, fry the onion in the butter till soft.
  2. Then add in flour and continue stirring for a minutes.
  3. When it's well mixed, gradually add in milk, continue stirring to prevents lumps.
  4. When the mixture is slightly thickened and smooth, remove from heat.
  5. Stir in cheese.
  6. Season to taste. I added slightly less than 1 tsp of salt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Purple plum torte

I had 5 purple plums and some other fruits sitting in the kitchen last week, and I knew that I'm going to bake something with the more perishable plums first. By the time I'm into my baking mode, there were only 3 purple plums left. And I'd to bake it into a much smaller cake for our small family of 3, instead of our usual extended family of 10ish folks.

We had it for our breakfast, and once again my little supporter gave a thumbs up!
Bb: How did you make the cake?
Me: It's very easy to make this...
Bb: Why is it that it's so easy to make but it taste so delicious!
Me: Maybe 'cos it's a good recipe...

Purple plum torte
(recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, below is half the original recipe with minor adjustments)

Ingredients/ Method:
63g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
75g caster sugar (reduced from 100g)
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
3 purple plums, halved and pitted

Streusel topping 
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (I omitted this)
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. With a electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and light in colour.
  3. Add egg and continue mixing, scraping down the bowl. 
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix till combined. Do not overmix. 
  5. Pour batter into lined 6" round cake tin and smooth the top. (SK used ungreased 9" springfoam pan.) Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter. 
  6. Mix caster sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the plums and batter. (SK sprinkled the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon and then remaining sugar.) 
  7. Bake in pre-heated oven 180 deg C for 35 mins, or until the skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  8. Cool on rack and remove from pan when completely cool. 
  9. Chill the cake in fridge overnight, or leave it covered at room temperature overnight as the cake is even better on second day when the plum juice further releases into the cake. 

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (August 2014 Event: Flour) - organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bak Chor Mee/ Minced pork noodles (soup)

Everyday I like to ask my lil boy "what do you want for lunch tomorrow?", this makes my life easier as I don't have to think of what's for lunch the next day. However, the food he asks for sometimes can be a challenge for me, especially that I've not been cooking for years when I was working, and/or I've not cooked before! Just this week, he requested for bak chor mee! and I was scratching my head with no answer (never cooked before) and mr. google only showed up dry bak chor mee, and not the soupy type - the popular one at 85 bedok north.

Regardless, I was all up to come out with my own version trying to recall the taste and what should go into the broth. Ordinarily, it seems crazy to spend so much time and effort just to cook for 2 persons - my lil boy and myself, but I would like to believe they are definitely healthier and of course, lots of luv! But again, not every lunch is so elaborated, our usual ones are easy one pot porridge or noodles *wink*.

Thankfully, my only audience is usually very supportive and appreciative, this time he gave me a 90 marks! Taste-wise, it not exactly like the 85 bedok north version, but it's on the right track and a good one. Our tummies are happy for now!

Bak Chor Mee/ Minced pork noodles (Soup)
(Served 3 portions)

Ingredients/ Method:

1 big pork bone
3-4 big bowls of water
3 big anchovies/ dried bream/ 蝙鱼, toasted and pound into powder form
1 tbsp preserved vegetables/ tung choy/ 冬菜, chopped

Minced meat
50g minced meat
1 1/2 tbsp corn flour
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce/ fish sauce
dash of pepper
1/4 tsp sesame oil

4 cloves garlic, diced and fried
pork lard, diced and fried (optional)

1 pkt meat balls
2 balls of mee kia/ thin egg noodles/ 幼面
  1. Toast the big anchovies in a toaster until fragrant and slightly charred. Alternatively, you can 'toast' it using the cooking pan. Using mortar, pound till powder form. Set aside.
  2. Blanch the pork bone in boiling water for about 10 mins. Discard the water.
  3. Fried pork lard, drained and reserved the oil. Set aside.
  4. Fried garlic till golden brown using the pork lard oil, drained and set aside.
  5. Marinate minced meat and set aside. I like to give the minced meat 'massages' and a few throws to make it more elastic and tender.
  6. Boil 3-4 big bowls of water in a pot together with the pork bone. When boiling, add in anchovies powder and preserved vegetables, and continue boiling on low heat for at least an hour. Add in salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Add in meat balls in boiling soup.
  8. To cook the minced meat, take a few scoops of boiling soup into the bowl of minced meat. Using the spatula or spoon, stir to 'separate' the minced meat so that they do not form into big chunks of meat. The minced meat should be semi-cooked by now. Add in few more scoops of boiling soup to fully cook them.
  9. When done, add in the bowl of minced meat into the boiling soup. Let it boil for 1 minute.
  10. At the same time, cook the noodles in a separate pot of boiling water. When done, drained and let it run under the tap water so that it does not stick together.
  11. Prepare noodles for 1 person serving in a bowl, and add boiling soup to it.
  12. Garnish with fried garlic and fried pork lard.
  13. Ready to enjoy!

So... what's for lunch tomorrow?

Gula melaka & pandan huat kueh

Gula melaka huat kueh
(Recipe adapted from Guai Shu Shu, yields 24 minis kuehs)

250g self raising flour
150g gula melaka, chopped coarsely
1 tsp baking powder
200ml coconut milk
50g plain water
2 tbsp oil
  1. Prepare steamer. 
  2. Boil coconut milk, water and gula melaka in a pot on medium-low heat. Stir until all gula melaka dissolved. 
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder to the coconut milk/gula melaka mixture. Add in oil and stir till well combined. 
  4. Pour batter to lined mini cups up to 95% full.
  5. Steam in steamer for 15 mins on high heat.

Pandan huat kueh
(Recipe adapted from Guai Shu Shu, yields 24 mini kuehs)

250g self raising flour
150g castor sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
50g melted butter
6 pieces of pandan leaves
200g plain water (I used my pandan juice made earlier and mix with water to get 200g pandan water)
  1. Prepare steamer. 
  2. Blend pandan leave with water. Sieve the pandan juice to a pot and add in sugar. 
  3. Boil the pandan juice until all sugar dissolved. (Do not need to reach boiling point)
  4. In a separate bowl, add eggs to (cool) melted butter and stir lightly till combined. Set aside. 
  5. In another big mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Make a well in the centre and add in pandan juice, followed by egg/ butter mixture. 
  6. Use a hand mixer and whisk till combined.
  7. Pour batter to lined mini cups up to 95% full.
  8. Steam in steamer for 15 mins on high heat. 
I love how the pictures look like they had a colour-change!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crispy roast pork belly (v.2)

For the past 3 weeks, we have been eating roast pork belly once a week. Terribly unhealthy isn't it?

1st was when my friends came over to my place for a sleepover, 2nd was when I wanted to try grilling the roast pork in the oven using the previous recipe I did, and 3rd was when I made it for prayer to my late mum.

I remembered my mum making a mean roast pork belly when I was young, and I occasionally help in 'poking' the skin. Every food or desserts she prepared was always the best!! I guess I will be very plump if she's still around, which I don't mind.

Anyway back to the roast pork belly recipe which I adapted mainly from Christine's Recipes, it was good but not the taste I remembered in my younger days. My the other half liked it, but he likes roast pork belly anytime...hahah

Crispy roast pork belly
Ingredients/ Method
600g pork belly
1/4 tbsp shaoxing wine, optional (I used rose chinese wine)
rock salt, to taste

3/4 tsp salt (can increase slightly as the original calls for 3 1/2 tsp for 1.2kg pork belly)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
1/8 tsp white pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp ginger powder (optional)

  1. Combine seasoning and set aside.
  2. Rinse the pork belly and blanch in boiling water for about 15 mins, or until the 60% to 70% doneness. 
  3. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towels. 
  4. Use needles to poke the rind as many hole as possible. 
  5. Turn over to other side, cut a few slits on the meat to help absorb seasoning better. (I omit this step)
  6. Rub wine evenly on entire pork. Let rest for a while.
  7. Coat the meat with seasoning evening. Make sure there's no seasoning on the rind.
  8. Wrap the pork meat with foil and leave the rind unwrapped. Place in fridge, let air dry overnight in fridge. 
  9. Pre-heat oven to 200 deg C. (I pre-heat  mine at 210 deg C)
  10. Remove pork from fridge and remove foil. Let it rest at room temperature for a while.
  11. Poke the rind with needles evenly once again. Wipe dry. 
  12. Season the rind with rock salt. (I omit this step)
  13. Bake in pre-heated oven, at middle-upper rack, for about 20 mins, and another 15 mins at 230 deg C, or until you get enough cracklings on the skin. (Baking time depends on the size of pork belly used, mine was 2 slabs of 300g which I think is too small to handle.)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Craftholic swiss roll

I've finally succeeded in drawing on the swiss roll!!!

That's after my previous attempts, and also another failed attempt on a Fri morning! Everything was so wrong with the 1st swiss roll - the batter was barely enough to fill the cake tray, the cake was stuck to the parchment paper after bake, the prints got stuck on the paper, the cake felt slightly wet.... etc. You can imagine how demoralised I was! I guessed it wasn't a baking Friday and wanted to give up trying, but I so wanted to present this cake to my dear cousin on her birthday.

Feeling determined, and using the last 4 eggs left in the fridge, I tried another recipe on making patterned swiss roll. This was done in the late Fri afternoon, and I was crossing my fingers! We were supposed to have a birthday dinner in the evening, and I just hoped I can complete everything within that few golden hours!

Lady Luck shone on me again, and viola, I got the Craftholic swiss roll just in time for the lovely birthday girl! I'm so glad that I found Cathy's recipe and it was a swift following it and be able to churn out my 1st ever patterned swiss roll. I would highly recommend using this recipe!

Craftholic swiss roll
(recipe adapted from Cathy's Joy)
Ingredients/ Method

Egg yolk batter
4 egg yolks
15g castor sugar
40g vegetable oil
60g milk
80g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla paste

Picture batter
2 tbsp egg yolk batter
1 tsp plain flour
2 tsp sugar
20g egg white

Egg white batter
4 egg white
50g castor sugar

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla paste until combined. Sift in flour and mix until smooth and well combined.
  2. Scoop 2 tbsp yolk batter in a bowl and add in 1 tsp flour.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg white and sugar till soft peaks. Add into picture batter and mix till combined.
  4. Tint picture batter to desired colours. Pipe patterns onto lined 11 x 14" baking tray.
  5. Bake in oven at 180 deg C for 1 min.
  6. In another bowl, whisk egg white and sugar till soft peaks. Add into remaining yolk batter and fold gently to obtain smooth batter, or slowly pour yolk batter to meringue and whisk on low speed (KA speed 2).
  7. Pour batter into the tray and bake at 180 deg C for 10 mins (I bake for about 12 mins).

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (August 2014 Event: Flour) - organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cute buns

I've been baking lots of cakes recently and neglected on the bread. As much as I would like to bake bread more often, it usually requires more time to make the bread because of the proofings. Whereas a cake or cupcakes are so much easier and straight-forward.

Being lazy, I used the usual tangzhong method, which I'm most comfortable with so far. What started out as a simple round bun with pork floss, ends up as cute buns with tuna-mayo fillings. Half-way through baking, something struck me, and I started making fun shapes for the buns! And there's no way to hide these pretty (ugly) bears and totoros with pork floss...hehe. Being my 1st time making these cute buns, I can't help but keep smiling whenever I see these buns.

Cute buns
(makes 14 buns)

Ingredients/ Method
Water roux (Tangzhong) 
125g water
25g bread flour

  1. Cook water and bread flour in a small pot at medium low heat, keep stirring until thickens and no lumps left. 
  2. Cook until 65 deg C, or if you do not have a thermometer, cook until mixture resembles baby porridge.
  3. Transfer to clean bowl and cover with cling wrap to prevent skin forming.

210g bread flour
56g plain flour
20g milk powder
42g caster sugar
1/2tsp salt
6g yeast
30g egg, beaten
85g water
84g water roux
22g unsalted butter

Optional (filling)
1 can of tuna
1 1/2tbsp mayonnaise

  1. Put all ingredients in the mixer and using dough hook knead until smooth and elastic. 
  2. Let it proof in a clean bowl covered with cling wrap for 40 mins or until double in size.
  3. Weigh dough at 35g each and shape it into smooth ball shape. Let it rest for 10 mins.
  4. Flatten each dough with your hand and wrap the filling into the dough. Seal it tightly. 
  5. Let it proof for 40 mins or until double in size, covered with cling wrap. 
  6. Egg wash (using remaining egg and 1 tsp of water) the buns before baking. 
  7. Bake at pre-heated oven at 200 deg C for 15 mins. (The totoros and bears look so sun-tanned, maybe next time I should lower the temperature to 185-190 deg C.) 

Decorating the buns

  • Cut out aluminium foil in desired shapes for totoro tummy and bearbear mouth, and place on buns before egg wash and baking.  
  • The eyes are made of chocolate chips.
  • The markings on totoros and smiles on the bears are done after baking. I mixed 1 tbsp cocoa powder with some hot water, and using cake tester or any pointed utensils to doodle on the buns. 

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (August 2014 Event: Flour) - organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pandan rice flour mini sponge cake

With some left-over pandan coconut milk from the earlier baking of chiffon cake, I wanted to bake something simple and easy. These will be for our tea-time and tomorrow's breakfast.

 Pandan rice flour mini sponge cake
Ingredients/ Method

3 eggs
75g sugar
65g cake flour, sifted
35g rice flour, sifted
40ml Pandan coconut milk
20g corn oil
1/8 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  2. Boil pandan coconut milk, oil and salt in a small pot over low fire, till few bubbles start to appear on the surface. Set aside to cool. 
  3. In a cake mixer, beat eggs and sugar until pale and thick.
  4. Add in flour and mix till combined, either using mixer on low speed or using spatula. Do not over mix. 
  5. Add in pandan coconut milk into batter and mix well. Do not over mix. 
  6. Using ice-cream scoop, fill up lined mini cupcake holders with batter upto 90%. 
  7. Bake for 15 mins at 170 deg C. Remove and let cool on wire rack. 

I did some doodlings using 2 tbsp of batter and 1 tsp of cocoa powder, mix well. I used the cake tester to draw on the mini sponge cakes. These are specially reserved for my lil boy! 

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (August 2014 Event: Flour) - organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pandan rice flour chiffon cake

After seeing Bakericious using rice flour for her orange chiffon cake, I was hyped to try out using rice flour for, what else, but pandan chiffon cake! I modified the recipe using my previous water roux pandan chiffon cake. I'm not too sure whether is it the addition of rice flour, but the chiffon cake turns out very moist and fluffy. The pandan and coconut flavours are very distinct too! This would be perfect with nice brown skin all over.

Pandan rice flour chiffon cake 

Ingredients/ Method: 
5 egg yolk
100ml pandan coconut milk (see below) 
50ml coconut oil 
1/8 tsp salt
60g cake flour sifted
30g rice flour, sifted 

Egg whites:
5 egg white
75g caster sugar
1 tsp corn flour 

  1. Preheat oven to 175C.
  2. Boil pandan coconut milk, oil and salt in a small pot over low fire, till few bubbles start to appear on the surface. Set aside to cool. 
  3. Slowly add in pandan coconut milk mixture to egg yolk and mix well.
  4. Add in flour and whisk till smooth batter and set aside. 
  5. Use a cake mixer, whisk egg white till foamy and add in sugar gradually. Add in corn flour. 
  6. Whisk egg white till stiff peak. 
  7. Turn cake mixer to low (KA 2) and slowly pour in egg yolk mixture to egg white. Continue whisking till well combined. 
  8. Pour batter into a 23cm tube pan, smooth the surface. Bang the tube pan on the table top for a few times. 
  9. Place pan into a preheated oven and bake for 30 mins. Bake another 5-10 mins on fan-oven 150 deg C. (I baked at 5 mins only and the skin is not brown enough.) 
  10. Remove from oven, invert cake onto table top and leave it cool.

To make pandan coconut milk: 
70ml coconut milk
10-12 blades of pandan leaves
30ml water  

  1. Blend 10-12 blades of pandan leaves with coconut milk and water, till puree.
  2. Squeeze out the liquid using muslin cloth. 
  3. Ready to use. If not used immediately, pour the pandan coconut milk into a bottle and chill in fridge. 

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (August 2014 Event: Flour) - organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe.