Friday, 14 December 2012

Oreo Cheesecake


If you don't have an oven and still want to make a cake, this is one recipe I would recommend.  This cheesecake is almost like the Bakerzin's Oreo Cheesecake.  I love the Bakerzin Oreo Cheesecake and used to have it regularly.  However, since they increased it to about $7 per slice, I kind of feel that it is not worth the money anymore.  The Bakerzin Oreo Cheesecake is creamy more than it is cheesy.  I got a feeling that this recipe is just like Bakerzin's when I saw it.  It is from a recipe book called "In Love with Cakes" by Alan Ooi, published by Seashore.  The original recipe was very concise and could do with some tips so I'm re-writing it with my suggestions.

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base

200g Oreo Biscuits (finely crushed)
120g butter (melted)
1 tbsp brown sugar

Cheese Filling

2 egg yolks (small ones will do)
150ml fresh milk
150g caster sugar
250g cream cheese
2tbsp gelatin powder
70ml water (room temperature)
1tbsp lemon juice
300g UHT whipping cream
40g Oreo biscuits (coursely crushed)
100g Oreo biscuits (finely crushed)

Method
1. Biscuit Base: Mix the biscuit base ingredients and press firmly into a 9 inch round spring form tin and set aside.
2. Cheese Filling: Simmer the egg yolks, fresh milk, cream cheese and caster sugar in a small pot till sugar dissolves.
3. Stir the gelatin powder in the water, then warm it up, stirring constantly till gelatin dissolves.  Add it into the cream cheese batter.
4. Add the lemon juice into the cream cheese batter and mix well.
5. Whip the UHT whipping cream till peaks form.  Fold in cream cheese batter. When well mixed, fold in coursely crushed Oreo biscuits.
6. Pour it over the biscuit base in the spring form tin, chill in the refrigerator till set.
7. Sprinkle the finely crushed Oreo Biscuits over the cake evenly.
8. Set for at least 4 hours before cutting.

Joan's notes:
  • I used only about 150g of biscuits for the base and reduced the butter accordingly as I didn't buy enough Oreos.  Good enough if you don't like too much base.
  • In step 2, I just cut up the cream cheese and put it in with the rest of the ingredients, thinking it will melt when heated.  It didn't and I had to use a hand beater to break up the cream cheese.  It did not fully dissolve.  There were still specks of cheese which can be seen but the overall result was still fine.  I think it would have been better to first cream the cheese till creamy, then add in the milk a little at a time while still hand beating it to get them all into a smooth paste.  I will try this next time.
  • The final taste was good! Almost like Bakerzin except for a stronger milk taste.  I think it would do better to use low fat fresh milk if you prefer a lighter cake.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Banana Nut Cake



I make this cake on a regular basis.  It is super easy to make and my family and I love it.  It is also one of the earliest cakes I perfected.  The texture is soft and moist as long as you do not overbake.  I adapted it from a recipe I found on another blog but I really couldn't remember where so I've to apologise to the original publisher.  I don't use any artificial flavouring and I've cut down the sugar and replaced with golden castor sugar.  Well, cakes are quite sinful and doing this makes me feel a little less guilty, especially when I'm feeding it to my kids and my old folks.

Ingredients:

The original quantities bake about a 7 inch square tin or one large loaf.  The quantities in brackets is 1/2 times more.  This is the amount I usually bake to get 1 large and 1 smaller loaf.

170g (255g) butter
170g (255g) castor sugar
2 (3) eggs, large
3 (4.5) tbsp milk
3 (5) large, over ripe bananas
80g (100g)  walnuts, chopped (optional)
225g (338g) plain flour
1 (1.5) tsp baking powder
1 (1.5) tsp bicarbonate soda

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well.
  3. Add milk and beat well.
  4. Add banana and mix well.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder and bicarbonate soda.  Fold into batter.  Add walnuts and fold in with the last batch of flour.
  6. Bake at 180 degrees Celcius for 45-50 mins or until skewer comes out clean.  For a small loaf, reduce to 30 mins.

Tip: As with all cakes, do not overbake or you will end up with a dry cake.


Enjoy!


Truffle Filled Mooncakes

I made this just before the Mid Autumn Festival but had no time to post until now.  The recipe is as before in my post on "Finally My Perfect Snow Skin Mooncakes".  Instead of salted egg yolks, I replaced with chocolate truffles.

The white lotus paste from Phoon Huat was out of stock (probably in every outlet) when I went to buy them the Friday before the festival.  (I went to Toa Payoh outlet and called up the main branch at Geylang.)  I must stock up enough early next year.  I ended up buying from Kwong Cheong Thye.  KCT had many varieties of white lotus paste which they said were from different suppliers.  The one I bought was mid range (based on price) and I thought it was a bit too sweet and too sticky.  They also had many other types of pastes.  The good thing was you could taste them before buying.  I just stuck to white lotus paste.


I filled with several varieties of chocolate truffles and wrapped in different coloured skins.  The truffles in the picture above were a little hard and so it didn't look nice when cut.  Sorry for the dark picture.  It was night time and I was in a hurry so didn't get the lighting right.


Anyway, enough of mooncakes for this year.  Until I find really good pralines, I will be sticking with my traditional salted egg yolks.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Finally My Perfect Snowskin Mooncakes

After the first attempt with premix snowskin mooncake flour, I attempted another recipe before I tried this one which was from a magazine I had for a while.  It was from a Sep-Oct 2010 edition of the magazine "Xin Flavours".  The current September 2012 issue also features a snowskin recipe by the same chef.  The original recipe was for Orange flavoured mooncakes.  I replaced the orange juice with my own flavouring.  Here is the traditional pandan / banana version.  I would say that it is as good as store bought ones!

Snowskin Ingredients:

125g  cooked glutinous flour (gao fen)
50g cooked Hong Kong "Shui Xian" brand flour
175g icing sugar, sifted (I used only 120g)
50g shortening (I used Crisco)
180ml cold pandan water (boil a few pandan leaves in water and chill in the fridge for at least a few hours before using)
A few drops of banana essence

Filling:
600g lotus paste (I used white lotus paste from Phoon Huat mixed with some melon seeds)
Salted Egg Yolks (optional)

If you are using Salted Egg Yolks, separate the yolks from the white and rinse with water then steam for about 10 mins.  Each yolk weighs about 15g.

Method:

  • To cook the Hong Kong Flour, fry it in a pan for about 10-15 mins without any oil. Leave to cool then sift and measure out the amount required.
  • Put both types of flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the shortening untill mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the center and pour in the pandan water and banana essence.  Mix and knead to form a soft dough.  If you would like colouring, I would advise mixing with the water before pouring into the flour.  The dough is very soft and quickly becomes very sticky to knead.
  • Set the dough aside for about 30 mins.
  • Weigh the required dough and fillings.  The dough is soft and not easy to knead at this point.  Just dust with Gao Fen and roll it out, then wrap the filling in.  The filling should be shaped into the same shape as the mould (but smaller of course) before wrapping with the skin.
  • Press into a mould dusted with Gao Fen and press firmly.
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Tip:
  • I was using a 125g mould.  I used 70g filling, added in 1 egg yolk (15g) and 40g of dough.  Snowskin mooncakes usually have thicker skin so you can use about 1/3 skin to 2/3 fillings (including egg yolk).  For larger mooncakes, reduce to 1/4 skin and for smaller (50-60g) mould, you can use 1/2 each.
  • Be very precise when measuring the ingredients and pour all the liquid ingredients into the flour at one go.  If the dough is already formed and you try to add in more liquid or flour, you will end up overkneading the dough which will become rubbery. I learned this the hardway in my 2nd attempt as the recipe did not give a precise amount of water required!!




Traditional Baked Mooncakes


This recipe for Traditional Baked Mooncakes is from Kwong Cheong Thye with tips I gathered from experience.  Before using this recipe, I had saw from another blog that you should leave the dough for a few hours and better still, overnight.  I tried that and it turned out disastrous.  The 2 recipes were very similar except for more mooncake syrup and a little more oil in the latter so I really don't know what went wrong.  The dough was crumbly even though I added more syrup and oil.  It was impossible to roll out, not to mention wrapping the mooncake in.  After a while, I gave up and returned to this recipe.

Ingredients:

Dough
300g Hong Kong Flour
180gm Mooncake Syrup (I think 180ml will be more accurate)
60gm Peanut Oil (again I advise using 60ml)
1tbs Alkaline water

Filling
1.5kg Lotus paste (I used white lotus paste from Phoon Huat, premium quality which is not too sweet)
50g Melon seeds
Salted Egg Yolks (optional)

  • Mix the mooncake syrup, peanut oil and alkaline water in a bowl. 
  • Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the liquid ingredients in. 
  • Using hands, mix together and knead to form a dough.  The result is a firm pliable dough, almost like gumpaste.  If you find the mixture crumbly (or dough becoming dry as you work on wrapping the mooncakes), you can drizzle a little more oil and syrup and knead again.
  • Divide the dough and fillings into portions as required.  For a small 50-60g mooncake, use about 1/2 dough and 1/2 filling.  For larger mooncakes, use about 1/4 skin to 3/4 filling.  If you are adding salted egg yolks, reduce the filling by a further 10g per yolk.  Weigh the dough and filling so that you get even size mooncakes.  I was using a 125g mould.  I used 80g filling before adding 1 egg yolk.  For the skin, I used 40g of skin but I rolled the dough quite thin (as you can see from the picture) and trimmed away the excess dough at the corners during wrapping.
  • Wrap the salted egg yolks in the filling and roll into a ball or square depending on the shape of the mould you are using.  Wrap the skin over the fillings.
  • Dust the mould with some hong kong flour and put the wrapped ingredients in, and press firmly.  I would advise using the side with more skin for the patterns.  This will result in a nice print without the filling showing.
  • Bake for 5 mins at 180-200 degree celcius.  Take out and brush with egg wash then put in to bake for another 8 mins at the same temperature.
  • For egg wash, use 1 egg yolk with 1 tsp of water and 1 tsp of mooncake syrup.
  • If you are using salted egg yolks, separate them from the whites, rinsing off the whites thoroughly with running tap water.  Steam for 10 mins and leave to cool before wrapping.


For the extra skin, I made some piggies filled with red bean paste.  The kids simply loved them!




Saturday, 15 September 2012

Japanese Steam Lavender Cake

This recipe was from a baking cookbook by a Malaysian chef Alex Goh.  I bought the book for only S$3.90 from NTUC Fairprice.  It's really a steal because the book had pretty good recipes for sponge cakes, chiffon cakes and butter cakes.  I was quite eager to try this recipe for Japanese Steam Lavender Cake as it was one of the chef's favourite but it was a while after I bought the book that I tried it.  I couldn't find Lavender for cooking in Singapore and it was after a trip to Melbourne that I managed to get the Lavender.  I recently found Lavender at Hock Hua dried goods store which is not expensive.  Its from China though.

This cake is soft, spongy and very fine.  My family likes it very much.

I also tried a matcha/green tea variation which turned out pretty nicely too.  I'm rephrasing the recipe here to make it easier to follow as well as included some tips which I had picked up the hard way.

Ingredients:

110g plain flour, sifted
110g milk (separated to 80 and 30 ml)
80g butter
6 eggs, separated
130g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tbsp dried lavender (I usually rinse with some hot water before use)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius and prepare a water bath (fill a tray larger than the cake tin with about 2 cm of hot water.
  • Grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 inch square tin.
  • Bring 80ml of milk to boil, add Lavender and simmer for a minute or two.  Strain off the lavender and put the milk back into the pot.  (The recipe leaves the lavender in but I don't find it nice to eat so I prefer to remove them.)  With heat still turned on, add butter to the milk and turn off heat when butter has melted.  Leave the mixture to cool until not hot to the touch.  (If the mixture is too hot, it cooks the eggs and flour when added into it, and batter curdles.  It will be impossible to mix in with the egg whites if you did that.)
  • Add the flour, egg yolks and milk, mixing well after each addition.  Mixing by hand will do.  I use a hand whisk.  The result will be a smooth, creamy batter.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and cream of tartar till foamy and add the sugar gradually.  Whisk till stiff peaks form.  Fold this into the other batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated water bath for about 40 mins.  (I usually need to cover the top of the cake with aluminium foil halfway through baking to avoid the top turning too brown.)  The cake rises a lot and will sink by at least a quarter when cooled.


For a green tea variation, use 2 tbsp of green tea powder mixed with 2tbsp of hot water.  Mix in with the 30ml of milk before adding to the warm batter.  I did a marble green tea version, shown below.



Tip:
The tip in the book actually said "Throughout the mixing process, there is no need to let the batter cool down."  I'm really not sure why the chef said this.  Fortunately, the first time I made this, I prepared the other ingredients after melting the butter so the milk and butter mixture had cooled a little.  The second time, literally taking the chef's tip, I added the rest of the ingredients into the hot butter and milk.  The egg yolks and flour got cooked and the batter curdled.  It was impossible to mix in the whisked egg whites after that.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Matcha Katsutera (Green Tea Castella Marble Cake)

What a week!  I was given short notice to fly to Bangkok for a business trip on Tuesday returning on Friday.  I caught the flu bug just before my trip which lingered until now, even when I'm back.  Despite the moodiness caused by my flu, I was quite eager to make the Matcha Katsutera from Ann's Blog.

This is the first time I come across a cake which uses bread flour.  This is pretty similar to the first sponge cake I made without any oil or butter.  Its texture is spongy like a sponge but slightly courser and it also inherits some characteristics of the bread.  Quite a light cake which is not too sweet and ideal for the health conscious.  I followed the recipe exactly so I will not replicate it here.  However I used a 7x7 inch cake tin instead of the wooden mould.  It took only about 40-45 mins to bake it instead of 55 mins using the wooden mould.

The top of my cake wrinkled a little although I did drop it from 1 foot height.  Nevertheless, I'm still quite pleased with the results.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Snowskin Mooncakes

I first made mooncakes about 10 years or so ago.  Both snowskin and traditional baked ones.  Only once and I didn't attempt again.  Not that they were no good.  Both types were commendable for a first try.  If I remember correctly, the reason I didn't attempt again was because I couldn't get hold of a good filling.  Mooncake fillings did not have as many variaties and good quality white lotus paste was not commercially available to the home baker at that time.  ( It could have been more than 10 years ago when blogging was non existence yet.)

My full time job is usually less hectic this time of the year.  And with my kids' birthday celebrations over for the year, I thought of volunteering my services at my child's school again i.e. to teach the kids baking.  The idea of making mooncakes came naturally as I recall they were quite easy to make and of course, because the Mid Autumn Festival was just round the corner.  So that is why I'm attempting to make mooncakes again.

I had thrown away or misplaced my old recipe since I wasn't expecting to make them again.  I even threw away the wooden mould.  So, I set about looking for a new recipe on the internet and chanced upon Ann's (of Anncoo Journal) green tea mooncake recipe.  Ann says that Kwong Cheong Thye's premix snowskin flour gives a soft texture that keeps for a week.  The perfectionistic me who only uses the best ingredients thus made my way to KCT and bought 4 packs of the flour at one go.  (I needed a pack for testing, 2 packs for the kids' lessons and another pack to make some for the family, that's how I estimated.)  Geylang was one of my least favourite places to drive to, not so much for its sleaze but the traffic and parking are a driver's nightmare.  So to avoid having to go th Geylang again anytime soon, I bought all I needed for the festival and today, I attempted Green Tea Snowskin Mooncakes.  I used the recipe from the premix packaging but substitued the syrup with icing sugar like Ann. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Hello Kitty 2

In addition to my daughter's cupcakes, I very quickly decorated this small Hello Kitty cake for a colleague's daughter who was returning to Taiwan after a 5 year stay.  I have wanted to bake something for her for quite some time but never got round to doing it until now when I only have a few days left.  This is the second time I'm doing Hello Kitty. 

Pardon my hastily taken pictures today.  Was really in such a mad rush trying to do so many things in one day.  But again, don't I always try to do too much?

Here it is.


Compare to my first one which was a much larger one for my daughter's birthday last year.

Cream Chantilly

I attempted to bake another set of cupcakes for my daughter's celebration in school.  Since I don't have much time from the celebration on Saturday, I did a very simple one.  Just my usual cupcakes filled with fresh strawberries and topped with cream chantilly, fresh berries and Kungfu Panda and Strawberry Shortcake cupcake toppers.

Unfortunately, the cakes were not up to my expectation.  I think it must be the cups.  I have used this recipe dozens of times without failure.  It was probably because I placed the square cups too close together resulting in insufficient circulation.  Many of them did not rise sufficiently, resulting in a very dense cake.

The chantilly cream was so so.  My last attempt was too watery.  This time, I managed to get quite a stiff consistency which allowed for piping.  It also set quite nicely.  Unfortunately, I placed the portion of chantilly cream with gelatine in an iced bath and some of the geletine solidified.  You could taste some bits of the gelatine in the cream chantilly.  Must remember not to do this next time.  I think it should turn out quite nicely otherwise.

Here is the recipe for the cream chantilly.

Ingredients:

500 ml UHT Whipping Cream
50g icing sugar
20g gelatine crystals/powder

1. Put small amount of cream in a bowl over a hot water bath, add gelatin, stir to dissolve.
2. Whip the rest of cream and icing sugar till mixed.
3. Pour gelating mixture into whipped cream and continue beating till soft peaks form.

Here are the cakes.



Monday, 27 August 2012

My First Post

This blog is my baking diary.

I cannot remember the first time I baked.  It could be Home Economics Class in Secondary One, Rock Cakes.  But I do remember that I enjoyed Home Economics lessons very much.  I enjoyed the cooking, the gadgets and also the craft work.  Unfortunately, I never had a proper oven until about 3 years ago.  I still did bake occasionally with my family's convectional microwave oven.  I churned out pretty decent brownies, cookies and pineapple tarts.  I wasn't very successful with cakes at that time because I didn't have a powerful mixer either.  The Panasonic one which my mum had couldn't get egg whites to peak.  After a few failed attempts, I stopped making cakes.

It was in November 2010 when I decided to get a Kenwood Chef.  I had always wanted to have a Kenwood but never dared to "invest" in it because I was afraid it will become a white elephant after a few months.  Oh, and it was the interest in fondant cakes that had me made up my mind that I wanted to bake seriously.  I had always loved craft work and the beautifully decorated fondant cakes that have become ever so popular just made me itch like crazy.  But before that, I needed a base to work on, so I needed to bake a decent cake.  That was how my real baking journey started.

Totally no regrets on getting KC.  It has been used almost every week since it was bought.  And baking (together with gardening) is now my favourite past time.  They fit in well with my current status of "full time working mother with 2 young children".  I can no longer hit the greens, pubs and clubs like before.  With baking, I can manage whilst my 2 kiddos are napping on the weekends.  I can bake healthy, wholesome stuff for my babies, and to satisfy my own sweet tooth as well.  Plus it is an avenue for me to express my creative streak.

For this first post, I am going to share a set of fondant cupcakes which I made for my daughter's 3rd birthday which we celebrated last Saturday.  It was based on a Garden theme.