Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Karmel Cake

Today has been dramatic with all the hoohas for Nomination Day. Pretty excited about what's going to come for the nation.

Today is also the day I decided to move on. Boyfriend and I - our relationship has been rocky for the past few months. It was stressful and depressing hanging onto a relationship like that. It must been so for him as well. The breakup is for the better. Everything happens for a reason. We learn a lot and will emerge stronger and better.

Bookmarked this in my book for a while now. Been procrastinating enough, so there you go. I was half expecting the cake to turn stale the next day, but nope. Rose Beranbaum's cakes never fail to impress. The cake remains soft and fresh the next day, and the caramel developed further to delight our tastebuds.

Karmel Cake
(adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes)


217g light brown sugar, preferably Muscovado
302g milk, divided
28g unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
200g cake flour or bleached all-purpose flour, sifted into measuring cup
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
85g unsalted butter

1. Set oven rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 175°C.
2. Butter and flour the inside of a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan. You also could line the bottom with parchment paper that also has been coated with baking spray and flour.
3. To make the caramel, have ready a 2-cup or larger heatproof glass measure, coated with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium heavy saucepan, with a silicone spatula, stir together the brown sugar, 181g of milk and the butter. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Stop stirring and boil until an instant-read thermometer registers 114°C, the soft ball stage. Tilt the pan to get enough depth for an accurate reading. It will take about 10 mins or more to reach this stage, and the mixture will look slightly curdled. (To make burnt caramel, continue past this stage, till mixture looks dark brown. When dropped into a glass of cold water, the caramel should become a hard bead). When the sugar reaches temperature, immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a prepared glass measure to stop the cooking. You should have 1 cup. If less, add hot cream or boiling water to equal 1 cup.
4. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and gently whisk in the remaining milk. Don't worry if some of the liquid crystalizes on the bottom, it will dissolve during baking. Place the bowl on a wire rack and allow the mixture to cool until is is no longer warm to the touch. It will take about an hour, but to speed cooling, it's fine to set the glass measure in a bowl of ice water. If desired, stir the mixture a few times while cooling in order to equalize the temperature.
5. To make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla until just lightly combined.
6. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and cooled caramel. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
7. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth surface evenly with a small offset spatula.
8. Bake for 25 to 35 mins or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
9. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 mins. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake so the top side is up. Cool completely.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Magnolia Vanilla Cupcakes

Honestly if you ask me to compare the results of various cupcake recipes from the famous bakeries, Magnolia, HummingBird and Primrose. The difference between its cupcakes is marginal. Magnolia is significantly sweeter. HummingBird is softer and lighter probably due to the higher amount of milk. Only made chocolate cupcakes from Primrose before, so would be fair if I compare apples to apples.

But nevertheless I love making cupcakes! They're like the vanity princesses of bakery world. Totally pretty and screams girlie. It's convenient for distribution. No one has to fight for who gets the bigger slice and everyone is happy.

Top it with my favorite usual swiss meringue buttercream with an oddball blue color.

Choosing the piping tip was fun.

Even more fun was giving everyone in the office a blue moustache.

Magnolia Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Allysa Torey & Jennifer Appel's The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)
the recipe below shows half the original recipe, makes 16 cupcakes for me

105g self raising flour
87g all purpose flour
113g unsalted butter, softened
200g sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
120ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Line one 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.
3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, abt 3 mins.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
7. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them abt three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25mins, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
8. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15mins. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
9. Ice the cupcake with your favorite frosting.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mango Cheesecake

Hey mango, be proud! You're my official first dense cheesecake in baked water bath.

I know I'm slow in this Mango frenzy, but better late than never. Added an impromptu self invented mango gelee layer to cover up the not-so-pretty cheesecake surface.

Think the cheesecake looks pretty hohoho. Mom was really impressed by it. The mango fragrance could be stronger from the cheesecake probably because my mangoes ain't exactly of the best quality. But refreshing and fruity enough, dense, rich and creamy, totally thrilled eating it. I suggest chilling it over a day because the flavors infused better and the texture becomes creamier as well. Still reminiscing my cheesecake experience at Cheesecake Factory when I was in States. Hopefully I'll reach the standards one day :)

Am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011).

Mango Cheesecake (adapted from Alex Goh's Fantastic Cheesecakes)


Cake Base:
200g digestive biscuit crumbs
100g unsalted butter, melted

500g cream cheese, room temperature
120g sugar
30g cornflour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon zest, grated
150g mango
3 eggs
150g whipping cream

1. Press digestive biscuit base onto the bottom of a greased 20-cm springform tin. Refrigerate for 15 mins.
2. Cream cream cheese, sugar and cornflour until light and smooth.
3. Place lemon juice, zest and mango in the blender and blend until smooth. Add puree mixture into cream cheese mixture and mix until well blended.
4. Add eggs one at a time and cream until smooth.
5. Add whipping cream & cream until well combined. Pour the cheese filling over the prepare biscuit base.
6. Bake in water bath at 160°C for 60-70mins or until firm.
7. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool. Refrigerate cake for 5h.
8. Decorate as desired.

Gelee Layer:
200g mango
1 tsp gelatin powder
20ml water

1. Puree mango until smooth.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let it sit for 5 mins. Warm the mixture over simmering water until gelatin powder melts thoroughly.
3. Stir warm gelatin mixture into pureed mango and pour over cheesecake. Chill for >2h.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Black Pepper Bread

This bread is a MURDERER.

It killed my dough hooker while I was kneading the dough! Captain Hook snapped into half. Rest in peace left hooker. Right hooker shall proceed to continue its mission to make bellies happy.

For sweet revenge, I'll tear them apart and swallow them alive.

Pepper-ish and tasty! You can swap the pork fillings for spicy tuna or any of your preference. Pulling out the bun from its conjoint siblings is pretty fun as well. Need more fillings though.

Black Pepper Bread (adapted from孟老师的 100道面包)

250g bread flour
25g fine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10g milk powder
3g (1/2 tsp +1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
15 g whole egg
140 g plain water

20 g unsalted butter
1 tsp black pepper

minced pork, 40 g
chopped onion 30 g (sub with 1 clove of garlic due to malfunction grocery shopping list -_-)
salt, black pepper 1/8 teaspoon each (1/4 tsp for me, also added 1 tsp of soya sauce & a dash of sesame oil)

Egg for egg wash
1 tbsp black sesame seed (skipped this)

1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, milk powder, instant dry yeast, egg and water and beat at low speed with a dough hooker mixer, then turn to medium and knead until you have a smooth dough.
2. Add butter and knead with low speed until well combined, then increase to medium speed and knead till dough is smooth and elastic.
3. Add in black pepper and beat at low speed.
4. Place the dough into a big bowl, cover with clingwrap and let it proof for 80mins.
5. Filling: Using low heat, stir fry minced pork, then add onion and stir fry until cooked. Remove from heat, add in salt and pepper. Leave aside to cool.
6. Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Roll into balls, and leave to rest for 5 mins, then wrap the filling in, and place them into a greased 8" round cake tin. Cover with clingwrap and let it prove for 50 mins.
7. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 28 mins.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Panna Cotta

Sorry that I've not been visiting your blogs this week or taking ages to respond to your Aspiring Bakers submissions. Been mad ass busy with work. Sigh. I'll respond to you guys asap when this peak is over :)

Made these babies last weekend while I was still a free being. They're awesome. Insanely creamy and pudding-ish, almost like ice cream. Not too happy that the vanilla beans end up sinking to the bottom, but the taste and texture makes up for it. And lots of improvement needed for the unmolding. hurhur.
Recipe is from here, where David Lebovitz in turn took it from Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mini Lemon Meringue Cheesecakes

Before going to my bakes. A little cat adventure. Promised to share a bit more on my cat loving. So Boyfriend and I went round on a cat hunt around my neighborhood and here are some of the adorable kitties.

Mixed feelings there from a combination of abused cats and the well fed chubby ones. Pictures credit to I'll Snap That!. That's Boyfriend's photo blog haha. He's into animal and scenary (?) photography. Do show him your support ya.

Now attention back to me ya. HAHAH. Honestly these bite sized cakes can pass off as egg tarts if you don't warn your guests that it's actually a cheesecake. Full of zesty lemon but I'm not too crazy about the relatively dry cheesecake. Consequence of not having a water bath recipe. The slightly charred meringue looks uber cool in the recipe book but mine look like dollops of burnt poop. Urmmmmmm.

Am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011).

Mini Lemon Meringue Cheesecakes (adapted from Anna Olson's Fresh with Anna Olson)
Recipe below is the full recipe, I halved mine.


150g graham cracker crumbs (this is like non existent in local supermarkets, replaced with digestive biscuits)
56g unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tbsp sugar

450g cream cheese, room temperature
133g sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature

2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line four 12-cup mini muffin tins (48 cups) with paper liners.
2. For the crust, combine all the ingredients until evenly blended and crumbly. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the mini muffins cups. Bake for 8 mins, then cool.
3. For the cheesecake, reduce oven to 160°C.
4. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, then gradually add sugar while still beating, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Beat in the cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, scraping well after each addition.
5. Spoon or pipe cheesecake filling into the cooled mini muffin tins and bake for about 18 mins, until cheesecake still moves a little when pan is shaken gently.
6. Let cheesecakes cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.
7. For the meringue, preheat oven to190°C.
8. With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the lemon juice until foamy. While whipping, gradually pour in sugar and whip on one speed less than highest until the whites hold a stiff peak (the meringue stands upright when whisk is lifted). Whisk in the cornstarch. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star or plain tip and pipe on top of each cheesecake.
9. Bake for about 6 mins, just until meringue browns lightly. Allow the cheesecakes to chill for at least an hour and up to a day before serving.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bread Pudding

Would like to say a big thank you to Alice from I Love. I Cook. I Bake. for presenting this award to me. Is a pleasant surprise! Love how our cosy baking community has been sharing the appreciation between one another. It's encouragement like these which keep us motivated in coming up with more creative ideas for our bakes.

Sister has been bugging me to make bread pudding for ages. Never had time to research for a good recipe, so I randomly came up with this. Not the best in my opinion. I thought it tasted a little too "eggy" for my liking. But bread-pudding loving Sister was thrilled about it though. One man's meat is another's poison I guess.

Bread Pudding

3 slices of stale white bread, cut into squares
Sprinkle of raisins
240ml whole milk
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large whole egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Arrange the bread and raisins in 3 ramekins. Be sure to tuck the raisins underneath the bread unless you like charred raisins.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla until it is well mixed.
4. Pour the milk mixture into the prepared ramekins, ensuring that the bread is well soaked. Leave the bread to soak in the milk bath for 20 mins.
5. Bake the ramekins for 40mins until the custard is set. Leave bread pudding to cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've indulged in 3 out of from the batch I've made...they are that good.

These cupcakes are not sinfully rich on chocolate, but carry the right amount of cocoa goodness. The extra dash of Valrhona cocoa powder balances the sweet tangy cream cheese frosting and it might just be able to pass off the cupcakes as coffee-less Tiramisu.

On a side note, I need to break out of this cupcake-chiffon-cupcake streak and bake something else.

Am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011).

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)


Cream Cheese Frosting:
300g icing sugar (Used 115g)
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

1. Beat the icing sugar and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
2. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mins. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

100g all purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
140g caster sugar (I use 130g)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Line a 12-tin cupcake tray with paper cases. Preheat the oven to 170°C.2. Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
3. Whisk milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a bowl, then slowly pour about half into the flour mixture (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more mins until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins, or until light golden and the cake come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and decorate as desired.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

The last time I did my swiss meringue buttercream, I got impatient and did not beat enough. I just had to redo to get a hang of it. And I'm a satisfied girl now.

And duh, I'm not too fond of my available piping tip options. This calls for a good reason to shop for new tips :)

Light on the chocolate, pronounced citrus-y orange flavor. Let them sit overnight and interesting things happen. The flavors seem to develop overtime and it screams orange the next day. If you like chocolate cupcakes but do not wish to be overwhelmed by its richness and depth, these cupcakes are for you. And if you are on the other side of the fence, frost it with chocolate buttercream or ganache instead and we'll have a happy ending.

Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes (adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery)
(makes 12 regular sized cupcakes, 24 smaller ones for me)

115g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
90g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar, preferably golden (I use 150g)
1 orange's zest (1 tsp for me)
2 large eggs, free range or organic
185g plain flour, sifted (125g top flour, 60g plain flour - no rocket science here, I ran out of top flour)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
75ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature (I use whole)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12 hole muffin tray with the appropriate size cupcake cases.
2. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt on a medium setting in 30-seconds bursts until completely melted. Stir well between each session. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Set the bowl aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter, sugar and orange zest until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 mins using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs and beat again briefly.
4. Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix the milk and orange juice in a jug.
5. Add the chocolate to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until the mixture is just combined. The batter will still be streaky. Add 1/3 of the flour and beat until it all just comes together. Add half of the juice/milk mix and beat again until the mixture just comes together. Repeat these steps until all the ingredients have been incorporated.
6. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about 2/3 full. Bake in the oven for abt 28-30mins (17mins for me). To check they are cooked, insert a skewer into the centre of one of the cakes - it should come out clean.
7. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for abt 10 mins before carefully placing on the wire rack to cool. Once they are completely cool, ice the cupcakes with buttercream.

Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

1 large egg white, room temperature
50g granulated sugar
90g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp orange zest
few drops of food coloring (optional)

1. Set egg whites and sugar in a bowl over gently simmering water and whisk until all sugar has dissolved and eggs are hot to touch, for abt 3mins. You can test if it's done by rubbing mixture in between fingers to see if there are still any gritty bits of sugar left.
2. Remove bowl from water and beat egg mixture on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, for abt 10mins.
3. Add butter one tbsp at a time, and beat until incorporated before adding in the next tbsp.
4. Add orange zest and beat until just combined.
5. Add food coloring if you have and mix till it's well blended.
6. Pipe as you like.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011)

April is a month for cheese lovers, or at least over here in Aspiring Bakers community hehe. For the lactose intolerant, apologies!

The theme for the month is Say Cheese!.

Who can join? Everyone!(if you do not have a blog, just send me a photo and recipe of your bake)

How to join?

Step 1: Make any cheese related bakes/frozen desserts in the month of April 2011. You can submit more than 1 post.

Step 2: Post it on your blog between 01 April 2011 to 30 April 2011. All entries will be compiled and post by 01 May 2011. Your post must include the recipe or link to the original recipe. If you are using a recipe from a book, please include the title of the book too. Any entries that are posted outside the date range will not be accepted. Any entries that do not include a recipe or link to the original recipe will not be accepted too.

Step 3: Please mention in your blog that you are submitting your post to Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011) and provide a link to the announcement of the theme by the host of the month HERE. Entries will not be accepted if the above is not included.

Step 4: Email to in the following format:

Your name or nickname:
Your blog name:
Name of your bake:
URL of your post:
Attachment of your photo in your email (one photo for each entry, preferably less than 500kb) by 30 April 2011.

Please email for each and every entry. Put "Aspiring Bakers" as your email subject. You can submit more than 1 post.