Monday, September 26, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've never had a Red Velvet cake until I started blogging. In fact I don't even believe it is that popular here in Singapore as I don't see it being sold at the bakeries I frequent (maybe the better cake shops do sell it). Despite the dozens of recipes I found, there were many variations among them. Curiously enough I also found the below "dos" about Red Velvet Cakes from the internet:

** The cake must have some cocoa, but not too much because it is not a chocolate cake.

** The cake must have red food coloring; beet juice does not add the right kind of red.

** The cake must have cream cheese frosting.

** There should be pecans. (Really!)

** You must use high-quality ingredients, including White Lily flour, a Southern specialty flour. (I've never heard of White Lily flour - have you?)

** Precise measurements and meticulous attention to detail are key for this cake; therefore, it must be made in small, easy-to handle, family-sized batches. (Oh wow! And here I am posting a recipe that uses cup measurement.)

** You must use a hand-held electric mixer, not a stand mixer: Larger machines can over-mix the batter, which sometimes prevents the cake from rising properly.

** Red velvet cake batter needs vegetable oil, not butter or shortening. Oil yields a very moist cake. (Hmm ... my recipe below uses butter)

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Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 12 medium sized cupcakes
Recipe adapted from "Joy of Baking"


1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup ranulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring (I used Wilton)
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method for the Cupcakes:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

2) In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

3) In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

4) In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

5) In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

6) Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 - 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

7) Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. Either spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula, or use a large 1M Wilton open star decorating tip to pipe the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 2 cups


8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Gradually add in the icing sugar and continue beating until smooth. Finally add in the lemon juice and beat to combine. If icing is too soft to pipe, place in refrigerator for about 20 mins.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stout and Chocolate Snacking Cake with Chocolate Stout Glaze

We have a free hand this particular month with Cake Slice Bakers September challenge as it is the last cake we would be baking from "Cake Keepers Cake by Laura Chattman". Save to say that there will definitely be a variety of recipes being blogged. Next month the Group will be revealing a new book, our third todate, to bake from for the next coming twelve months.

Unfortunately I don't have a copy of "Cake Keepers Cakes" book and had to search the internet for whatever recipes that have been published from this book. I came across a few and decided to bake a chocolate cake which uses stout. Actually using stout in a cake is not new to me as I had made Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes when I first started blogging. The stout really enhances the cocoa in this particular recipe and it gave the cake an intense chocolate colour. The glaze is simply to die for and I can only say that this is definitely a keepsake recipe and also no creaming is involved. What more could I ask for!


Stout and Chocolate Snacking Cake with Chocolate-Stout Glaze
Recipe Adapted from "Cake Keeper Cakes" by Lauren Chattman

Ingredients for the Cake

1/2 cup stout, such as Guinness
112g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup light sour cream

Ingredients for the Chocolate Stout Glaze:

1/4 cup stout
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Method for the Cake:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and dust it with flour, knocking out any extra.

2) Combine the stout and butter in a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside to cool.

3) Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon or electric mixer, stir in the stout mixture, egg, and sour cream until just combined. It's okay if there are still a few lumps in the batter.

4) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan.

To Make the Glaze:

1) Combine the stout and corn syrup in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until shiny and smooth. Let cool to warm room temperature and spread the sauce over the top of the cake. Let stand until the sauce is set, about 1 hour. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

2) Store uneaten squares in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.



Friday, September 16, 2011

Kerabu Beehoon (Rice Vermicelli Salad)

Throughout this blog I have featured a few Nyonya or Peranakan recipes. Nyonya or Peranakan Recipes is a combination of dishes that incoporates sour, sweet, salty, hot and spicy. The best of Nyonya recipes are their curries (spicy or mild), soups, vegetable dishes, salads and pickles. Besides this, they are also known for their all-time favorite nyonya desserts recipes and nyonya kuih recipes which are easy and simple to cook or prepare.

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Nyonya food is influenced by the combination of many cultures. Nyonya cuisine is now acknowledged as one of the earliest examples of Asian exotic and fusion food. The secrets to Nyonya method of cooking is by the infamous "agak-agak", translated means rough estimates method as most of these recipes have been passed down through generations, from great grandmother, to grandmother, to mother and then to daughter. Most of the time these recipes are not properly documented and as a result of this a number of nyonya recipes have been lost.

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Kerabu Beehoon (Rice Vermicelli Salad)
Recipe Adapted from "Chef Wan"
Serves 5 - 6


8 fresh red chillies, deseeded, finely pounded (add more chillies if you want a spicier dish)
1" roasted shrimp paste or 2 tsp shrimp paste granules
8 Tbsp Palm Sugar (Gula Melaka), grated
7 Tbsp Fish Sauce
10 Calamansi Lime Juice (you can substitute with about 5 - 6 limes)
250g dried Shrimps (Hebi, Udang Kering), stir-fry crisp and finely pounded
500g fresh prawns, shelled, blanched in boiling water, deveined and kept whole
300g Rice Vermicelli (Bee Hoon), cooked and drained
3 tomatoes, remove seeds and cut roughly into cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely pounded
1 inch Ginger, peeled and finely pounded
250g roasted peanuts, pounded lightly so that you still the crunch
150 g / 9 oz crisp-fried Shallots (Bawang Goreng)
4 Kaffir Lime Leaves (daun limau purut), sliced into thin narrow strips
6 pieces of beancurd puffs, toasted and then cut into small cubes
4 Lemongrass (Serai), thinly sliced
10 Shallots (Red Onion), peeled and finely sliced (can replace with other onion though wont be so fragrant)
170g Chinese Parsley, finely chopped (use the stem as well)
125g Laksa Leaves or Vietnamese Mint (Daun Kesum), finely chopped. Can substitute with normal mint but taste of the dish will be different


1) In a small bowl, place garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar and half the lime juice and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.

2) In a large salad bowl, place all the other ingredients with the exception of the dressing. Mix well.

3) Then pour in the dressing and toss well. Slowly add in the rest of the lime juice, adjust taste accordingly to how sour you wish the salad to be. Also adjust seasoning and add more fish sauce if required.

4) Leave salad to stand for about 15 - 20 minutes before serving. Left overs should be kept in the refrigerator to be consumed within 24 hours.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Mooncakes - A Celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), also known as the Moon Festival or Zhongqiu Festival is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people, dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty. It was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally "Mid-Autumn Festival") in the Zhou Dynasty.[1] In Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.

It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar. In the Gregorian calendar this translate to September or early October. This year Mid-Autumn Festival will fall on 12 September. This is the time when the moon is at its fullest and roundest. To celebrate the festival, mooncakes symbolizing the moon, is eaten and enjoyed by many Chinese around the world. Other than eating mooncakes, carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on tower or floating sky lanterns is also practised.

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As a child, I remembered enjoying this period as we get to pester our parents to buy us paper lanterns. The lanterns would come in various shapes and myriad of colours representing animals such as rabbits, birds, butterflies and dragons. The lantern will have a wire to hold a lighted candle and we would parade with our lanterns around the neighbourhood after dinner. All the kids would congregate together playing and the adults would be sitting on the front porch munching on mooncakes and sipping tea. Such delightful times!

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Lotus Seed Paste Mooncake with Yolk

Ingredients for the Mooncake Pastry:

200g Lyle's golden syrup
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tbsp alkaline ater
50g peanut oil
270g all purpose flour

Ingredients for Lotus Seed Paste:

300g lotus seed
1 Tbsp alkaline water
250g sugar
1 Tbsp maltose
200g oil
1 Tbsp potato starch
A few salted egg yolk (cooked in oven at 100C for 8 mins)


1) Lotus Seed Paste: Rinse lotus seeds and drain. Mix it with alkaline water. Pour adequate hote water over lotus seeds and cover it for 15 mins. Remove hot water and rub off the skin and rinse. Cook the seeds with enough water to cover the seeds until soft. Once soft, cool slightly and blend until smooth. Cook 30g sugar and 1 Tbsp oil in a pot until golden brown over low flame. Add blended lotus seeds, remaining sugar, maltose and oil and mix gradually until incorporated. Then add potato starch and mix well. Remove from heat to cool and leave outside overnight.

2) Mooncake Pastry: Mix golden syrup, baking soda and alkaline water with oil. Stir until well blended. Sift flour and add in 2 batches to the liquid. Mix well after each addition of flour. Set aside for half hour.

3) To Assemble: Weigh lotus paste into 140g each. Flatten into a round and place the egg yolk in the center. Wrap the lotus paste around the yolk and shape into a ball. Weigh mooncake dough into 40g each. Flatten into a round and place the lotus paste in the center. Shape into a ball. Dust the ball lightly with some flour to prevent it from sticking to the mold. Then press into the mooncake mold. Tape lightly to de-mold.

4) Arrange mooncakes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in pre-heated oven of 180C for 15 mins. Remove from oven and brush all over with egg wash. Leave aside for 15 mins and then continue baking for another 8 - 10 mins until golden brown. Remove and set to cool.

5) Once cooled completed, place mooncakes in a container and leave for three days before consuming. The oil from the mooncake will slowly seep out resulting in a softer and shiny pastry.

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Strawberry Mini Snowskin Mooncake
Snowskin Recipe Adapted from Man Fu Yuen, Inter-Continental Hotel
Makes 4 Minis

Snowskin Ingredients:

37.5g dry fried rice flour (or glutinous rice flour), sifted
75g sifted icing sugar
30g strawberry puree (puree has been sieved through a fine siever)
30g warm water
10g olive oil

Red bean paste, store bought
4 whole strawberries, stem removed


1) Add the flour and icing sugar into a clean bowl. Stir to mix.

2) Combine the puree, water and oil in another bowl.

3) Pour the liquids into the flour and mix well in one direction only. Do this quickly otherwise the snowskin will not be smooth enough. Knead for 20 seconds and form into a ball. Roll into a sausage shape.

4) Divide the snowskin into four equal pieces and set aside.

5) Divide the red bean paste into 45g each. Flatten each ball and place a strawberry in the center. Wrap the red bean paste around the strawberry and shape into a tight ball.

6) Flatten the snowskin and then place the red bean ball in the center. Wrap the snowskin around the red bean ball and roll into a smooth ball.

7) Dust the snowskin with a bit of the rice flour before placing into the mould. Press into mould. Tap lightly to remove. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Snowskin can be kept in the fridge for about 3 - 4 days. You can freeze for up to 2 weeks. Remove from freezer a day before serving and place in the fridge to defrost.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sencha Flavoured Macarons with White Chocolate

I had extra egg whites remaining from another baking session but honestly I cannot remember what that was. So I decided to make some macarons which I have not done so for a long while now. As I went about measuring my ingredients, I had this phobia at the back of my mind. What happens if the macarons "bomb" out? It has happened in the past before! For such an uncomplicated recipe it really does test one's patience. Luckily this time round it was a success .. yeehah! I made Sencha flavoured macarons. Sencha is actually the other fancy name for Green Tea.

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Sencha tea is a popular green tea from Japan made from the top parts of the tea leaf and tea buds. The tea leaves and buds are processed whole.
Japanese plantations produce the sencha leaves, with each region producing a distinct flavor of tea leaves. The leaves are harvested during April and May, and the first new tea leaves are especially sweet.

The leaves are steamed for less than a minute to stop oxidation. The whole leaves are then rolled into long cylinders and dried. The last step is to fire the leaves to preserve them and ensure that its flavour is locked in. Steaming makes Japanese teas quite distinct from Chinese green teas, and it gives the Japanese teas a grassier, vegetable flavor. (Guess you either love it or hate it!) Steamed tea leaves make a greener tea than leaves that are roasted, as with teas. The steaming process also helps to prevent oxidation and gives the tea a longer shelf life. Sencha tea accounts for about 80% of the tea consumed in Japan. It is usually served hot in the winter and chilled in warmer weather.

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Sencha Flavoured Macarons with White Chocolate
Makes about 15 macarons
Recipe adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz

Ingredients for Macaron Batter:

110g icing sugar
1/2 cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
1 tsp sencha dried tea leaves (you can use any other tea leaves)
2 large egg whites (about 60g), aged for 24 hours at room temperature
4 Tbsp granulated sugar


1) Preheat oven to 160C.

2) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

3) Grind together the icing sugar with the almond powder and sench tea leaves in a food processor for about 10 - 15 seconds. Remove and sieve through a fine siever and set aside.

4) Place egg whites into a clean dry mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites until almost soft peaks, about 2 minutes or so. Then slowly add in the granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks. Do not overbeat.

5) Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

6) Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

7) Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons. Leave the macarons aside for about 40 minutes. After that bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

White Chocolate Buttercream
(Makes about 6 cups)


10oz good quality white Chocolate
4 Egg whites
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 lb Butter, at room temperature


1) Place the chocolate and into a bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Be careful not to let any water get into the chocolate or it will bind up. You may also place the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 seconds at a time in order not to burn the chocolate. Removing it after each 10 seconds and stir.

2) Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Now start to gradually add the sugar a little at a time. When all the sugar has been incorporated beat on high till stiff peaks form.

3) Add the butter a little at a time.

4) Now add the melted white chocolate while beating slowly and then beat till smooth. The buttercream can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. To use, let it thaw and then rewhip it again to smooth consistency. Left over buttercream can be frozen for up to a month.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Bacon and Cheese Bread

Ever so often I would have an urge to bake bread. However as there is only myself at home, I would usually make a small loaf or at most two loaves and distribute one amongst my office colleagues. Some of my friends would say that I was mad to go through so much effort when one could easily get similar in a bakery, sometimes even cheaper. But then again it is the pure enjoyment of having to make it yourself and having first whiffs of loaves of bread baking in the oven. If you have ever made bread, you would probably agree with me that the first cut and taste of a fresh loaf is so, so good. Nothing beats this!

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Ham and Cheese Bread


1 cup scalded milk
3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 - 2 1/2 cups bread flour
150g streaky bacon, diced
1 1/4 cup mixed cheddar cheese
1 small onion, diced finely
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil,
1/4 loosely packed, cup grated parmesan cheese (for topping)


1) Heat up a frying pan, add a little oil and fry the bacon until brown. Add in the diced onion and fry for another minute. Remove, set aside to cool. Once cooled, mix in the fresh herbs, set aside.

2) To start your dough, pour your milk into a heavy saucepan and scald. Do not allow the milk to come to a boil. Once it starts to simmer (small bubbles), you can take it off the fire.

3) Pour scalded milk into a large bowl and allow to cool to 105F. Add in 1 cup of bread flour and mix till smooth. Now, add in your instant yeast and another cup of bread flour. Mix with a wooden spoon. The dough will be firm. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour in a warm place.

4) Just before the dough is ready, mix your butter and sugar together in a bowl. Using your mixer beat on high speed the sugar and butter together till fluffy.

5) Add in your eggs and continue to mix till for another few minutes. Be sure to scrap the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the butter mixture to the dough and mix till smooth. Add in another cup of bread flour and mix.

6) Add a little flour to a flat surface and continue to add in the rest of the flour. Knead for 8 minutes. You may or may not need all the flour. You want to dough to be a little on the sticky side. But, not sticking to the table.

7) After kneading for 8 minutes, roll the dough into a small rectangle (like a swiss roll) to fit your loaf pan. Sprinkle the bacon mixture all over the dough leaving a 1/2" side. Then sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top. Taking the longer end start rolling the dough away from you as tightly as possible. Seal the seams and tuck in the ends underneath the roll.

8) Place the roll into the loaf pan in a zigg zagg fashion. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour or till double in bulk.

9) Preheat oven to 180C.

10) Using an egg white or milk wash, brush the top and then sprinkle with grated parmesan. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. If your pan is small, the baking time should be shorten accordingly. The loaf should sound hollow when taped on the bottom. Place onto a wire rack and cool.

Note: You can use a mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough instead of doing it by hand. You can also shape the bread into rolls or smaller loaves.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Year Has Passed ......

A year ago, exactly today, my world was turned upside down! My dearest LT was taken away from me and I had to pick up my life and try to move on. At that time, it had seemed so difficult. Every day flashes of what could have been would come to my mind, even as I was driving. Every love song that was played on the radio would bring tears streaming down my face. At night alone in bed in an empty apartment I would stuff my face in my pillow and the tears would come again.

Time passed and I have somewhat picked up my life again. Gone back to doing some of the things I love such as baking and even started taking up oil painting. But once in a while I would swing back to my little world and be sad again.

Time does heal but it is surely a long and cobbled road! Memories of my dearest LT will always be in my heart.

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