Saturday, July 30, 2011

Closure of a Chapter in Malaysian Railway History

On 1 July 2011, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was officially closed after being in operations for 79 years. This was a historical chapter in so far as Malaysian/Singapore railway operations was concerned.

The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, located along Keppel Road, used to be the main passenger station for trains operated by the Malaysian rail operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Berhad travelling between Singapore and Malaysia. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was previously known as the Keppel Road Railway Station. Built between 1929 to 1932 by a French construction company, the Station sits on reclaimed land and was officially opened on 2 May 1932.

Over the last few weeks prior to the official closure of the Station and with so much publicity in the media, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station drew a lot of public interest. Enthusiasts took pictures to preserve the memory of the station, while other visitors purchased KTM souvenirs or sought autographs from station staff. Train rides were also fully booked as many tried to get a seat on board the last few journeys out of the station.






From 1 July to 17 July, the entire track line was opened to the public to explore. After that from 18 July to 31 July, only a 3km stretch remained accessible. During these weeks thousands of people took the opportunity to explore the tracks and there was even organized guided tours. I too joined the thousands to walk the tracks and managed to take some photographs as momentos of a by-gone era. As I write this post, parts of the tracks are already being dismantalled but there is hope that some sections of the tracks especially where the bridges are would be preserved as historical monuments. It would certainly be a shame to loose all of its history to development.










Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tiramisu Cake ... now that's Indulgence!

A friend of mine recently ordered a Tiramisu Cake from me and as I didn't have enough time to take pictures of it, I decided to make another one! I have made Tiramisu desserts before in the past but had used sponge fingers in the recipe. A cake version was totally new to me.

Come to think of it I had actually made the cake for an order without even tasting it for quality control checks. Wow! Anyway I did hear from my friend that the cake was scrumptious and everyone had second helpings ... in fact the 9" cake was not enough for the 8 persons it had been catered for.

tiramisu cake 2

tiramisu cake 3

Tiramisu Cake
Recipe from "My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan"

Ingredients for the Cake:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the Espresso Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, grated
Cocoa powder, for dusting


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the Cake:

1) Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2) Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

3) Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

To make the extract:

Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.

To make the syrup:

Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.

To make the Filling and Frosting:

1) Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.

2) Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

To assemble the Cake:

1) If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the grated chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

2) For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.

3) With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.

4) Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.

5) Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.

tiramisu cake 1

tiramisu cake 4

tiramisu cake 5

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zebra Cake - The Cake Slice Bakers Cake of the Month!

It has been close to almost 10 months now since I last baked with The Cake Slice Bakers group. When the winning recipe this month chosen by it's members (more than half picked this one) was announced, I was extremely keen to join in again. Why so? It was a Zebra Cake! I have seen what this cake looks like in photos, absolutely gorgeous it's design, but have never tried making it or even tasted one before.

The original recipe had only two colours i.e. vanilla and chocolate. Well, me being me, decided to try something different ... be a bit bolder by adding stronger colours. So I darken the chocolate batter with black food colour and added an additional stripe of colour, a bright red. I was extremely intrigued as to how the stripes were achieved so I did everything slowly to make sure that I did not read the instructions wrongly. As I started pouring the coloured batter on top of each other, I could not for the life of me figured out how the stripes could be formed. But as more batter was poured into the cake pan, the circular stripes started to appear. I loved doing this part and oohhed and ahhhed every time a circle was formed. I think my pet shitzu Milo must have thought his "mummy" had gone totally bonkers.

zebra 1

I must say that this cake is really a piece of art, truly lovely to look at. However taste-wise I thought it was alright! Much like a butter cake but somehow not quite as flavourful. However I don't mind making this again just to get a "kick" in watching the stripes come together.

zebra 5

Zebra Cake
Recipe Adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman
Makes one 9" round cake


2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole or 2% milk
113g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp black food colouring
1 tsp red food colouring


1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 inch pan, line with a circle of parchment paper, grease the parchment and dust with flour. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

2) Combine the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the milk, butter, oil and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Stir in the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.

3) Divide the batter into 3 bowls - one larger bowl containing half of the batter and 2 smaller bowls containing 1/4 each of the batter.

4) In the larger bowl, add in 1 tsp of orange zest and mix into the batter.

5) In one of the smaller bowls, add in the remaining orange zest and red food colouring. Mix well.

6) In the second smaller bowl, sift in the cocoa powder and mix well into the batter. Then add in the black food colouring and stir until the batter is a uniform colour.

7) Place 3 tablespoons of vanilla batter into the centre of the pan and let it stand for a few seconds so it spreads out slightly. Then add in 1 1/2 tablespoon of the red batter in the middle of the pan and wait another few seconds until it spreads. After that add in 1 1/2 tablespoon of the cocoa batter in the middle of the pan and wait for a few seconds to allow it to spread.

8) Continue alternating the vanilla, red and cocoa batter until you have used up all the batter and it has spread to the edges of the pan.

9) Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a cutting board. Peel away the parchment paper. Re-invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slice and serve.

10) Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 3 days.

zebra 3

zebra 4

zebra 6

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tarte Aux Pommes (French Apple Tart)

apple tart 1

The best thing about making desserts from apples is that we get the fruit all year round. The apple fruit is believed to have originated from Asia and did you know that there are more than 7,000 varieties of apples which are available worldwide. The fruit is grouped mainly into three categories - cider, cooking and dessert varieties. They are a rich source of vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber and carbohydrates.

Now how can you tell if an apple is good or not? Check by looking at the exterior of the apple - it should be smooth, and free of bruises or cuts. The firmness of the apple is proof of its sweetness. Storage of the apples in an important aspect and care should be taken to store them in a cool and dry place, wrapped in a poly bag. I usually keep my apples in the vegetable compartment of my refrigerator.

The top five most popular apples which you would usually find in your neighbourhood supermarkets are the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith. Each type of apple has it's own unique sweetness, texture, shelf life and flavour in a cooked or baked dish. And all of these are equally good eaten on it's own.

applet tart 3

I made this apple tart from a book I had borrowed which centered solely on tarts, both savoury and sweet. The recipe was easy enough and the picture enticed me further. I've very much driven by pictures and presentation whenever I try out a recipe. This tart recipe works extremely well with Golden Delicious as this particular apple can withstand long baking times and is great when made into applesauce. (You could substitute with another flavoured apple but if using Granny Smith, the entire taste would be altered) It is a subtle fragrance which can be smelled when the tart is being baked in the oven. The apple slices did not dry out at all in the oven and the end result was a very moist, delicious apple tart.

apple tart 5

Tarte Aux Pommes (French Apple Tart)
Recipe Adapted from Tarts – Sweet & Savoury by Maxine Clark
Serves 6 – 8


1 recipe Pate brisee

Apple Filling:

4-5 Golden Delicious (or good well flavoured apples), peeled and cored
3 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon powder
50g cold unsalted butter, cubed
4 – 6 Tbsp apricot jam


1) Bring pastry to room temperature. Preheat oven to 200C and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.

2) Roll pastry thinly on a lightly floured work surface and line a 25cm loose based tart tin. Chill tart shell for about 30 minutes.

3) Slice apples thinly and coarsely chop up the uneven smaller pieces. Arrange the smaller pieces in the base of the tart shell. Cover the one third of the slices in a circular pattern. Arrange the remaining in a concentric rings over the chopped apples. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon powder all over the sliced apples. Then dot with the cubed butter.

4) Set the tart tin on the baking sheet and bake for about 45 mins to an hour until the apples are very well browned and the pastry golden in colour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tart tin.

5) Brush the top of the tart with apricot jam which had been warmed in a microwave oven. Serve the tart at room temperature.


200g plan flour
½ tsp of salt
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
2 – 3 Tbsp iced water


1) Sift flour and salt in a bowl, set aside.

2) Put the butter and egg yolk in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the water and blend again.

3) Add the flour and salt, and pulse until mixed.

4) Transfer mixture to a light work surface and knead gently until smooth. Form into a ball, flatten slightly and wrap in clingwrap.

5) Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. Return to room temperature before rolling out.

apple tart 2

apple tart 4

applet tart 6

Monday, July 4, 2011

Passion Fruit Chiffon Cake

A colleague of mine was back home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (same home town as myself) a few weeks back and she brought back some local passion fruit for me. I hardly ever buy passion fruit at all and have only used it once in my entire baking/cooking history.

passionfruit 2

As I was not too partial of consuming the fruit on its own, I decided to use it in making a dessert. You cannot imagine the number of dessert recipes and concoctions that swirled around one head. Talk about indecisiveness! It took me close to a week before I finally got to using the fruit. I ended up with something simple which was a chiffon cake. I have made chiffons before but this time round I used a chiffon pan and imagined my cake to be a deliciously soft, fluffy and high cake. Something majestic would probably be the best word to describe it. I followed the recipe pretty much to the teeth (made a few minor tweaks only). The cake batter looked exactly as it should have looked …. velvety and voluminous! I baked it at the correct temperature and timing.

Unfortunately the cake did not rise as much as I had anticipated it to. I would say that it looked like a very high cake, not a chiffon. I even used a chiffon pan with three legs to try to accomplish this task. I also turned the pan upside down to rest on its legs, as with most chiffons, until the cake was entirely cooled (I left it in this state for 2 hours). What on earth went wrong, I do not know. Having not achieved the height I had hoped, the cake did deliver on taste and texture. It was extremely soft. The chiffon had a bit of tart in it from the passion fruit as well as the lime zest and juice I had added. In addition the passion fruit seeds which I had included gave it some crunch texture. Extremely delicious I must say! I guess all was not lost after all.

passionfruit 3

passionfruit 4

Passion Fruit Chiffon Cake Recipe
Makes a 9" chiffon tube pan


4 yolks
40g sugar
45g canola oil
65g passion fruit pulp (including the seeds - about 2 to 3 fruits)
20g water
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp lime juice

100g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

4 whites
40g sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar


1) In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

2) Whisk together egg yolks and 50g sugar until pale in colour.

3) Gradually add in oil, passion fruit pulp, lime zest and juice and water whisking them all until combined.

4) Add all the sifted flour and baking powder. Whisk until the mixture becomes a thick batter. (This should take no more than a minute)

5) Place the egg whites into a clean metal bow. Using a mixer, beat the whites until frothy. Add in the cream of tartar until whisk for a minute before gradually adding in the 40g of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed.

6) Gently fold in egg white mixture into egg yolk batter in 3 seperate additions until well combined.

7) Pour batter into a 9"/22cm chiffon tube pan. Bake in preheated oven at 175C for 40-45mins.

8) Invert pan immediately to cool completely before unmold.

Note: Cake flour is substituted by 90g plain flour and 10g corn flour

passionfruit 1

passionfruit 5
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