Sunday, August 30, 2009

Salmon En Croute

Another favourite food program which I had recently discovered on cable is "French Food at Home" hosted by Laura Calder . I try not to skip her half hour program which is aired weekly and if I do, I try to catch the re-runs. Laura Calder grew up in rural Canada and won her first cooking prize for a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing at a county fair when she was only six years of age. Can you image that ... I don't think I even knew how to hold a fork and spoon properly at that age! Laura injects quite a bit of wit into her shows and her recipes all seem oh so delicious. To me her shows have made French cooking seem more down to earth and manageable. I was watching one of her programs a few weeks ago which covered puff pastry. Rather than making her own pastry from scratch, she used store bought ones and to me it's something that I can associate with.

I've made rough puff pastry from scratch before which is simpler as compared with classic puff but not something I'd bother about if I really don't have the time. So store bought puff would be what I would reach for whilst doing my grocery shopping. I decided to try out one the recipes which uses salmon enwrapped in puff. I put this together for our Sunday dinner with a side of mixed salad in balsamic vinegar. We thoroughly enjoyed it and it's definitely going on my entertainment menu. But next time round, I'd probably make this into individual servings as it will be much easier to serve, no cutting and will look more elegant.

Salmon En Croute
Recipe from Laura Calder "French Food at Home"
Yield: 6


1 x salmon filet, about 1-1/2 pounds/750 g
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup crème fraîche
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Zest of 1 lemon
1 lb. sheet puff pastry (2 sheets)
Salt and pepper
Glaze: 1 egg, lightly beaten


1) Skin and bone the salmon and set aside. Heat the oven to 450°F\230°C.

2) Cut the tips off the asparagus, and poach in boiling salted water until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well, refresh in ice-cold water, then drain again, leaving to sit so that all the water comes off. Purée and stir through the cream, dill, and lemon zest, to blend. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3) Lay the puff on a damp baking sheet with the long edge facing you. Lay the salmon on the pastry, like a picture in its frame. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the raw stems of asparagus on top of the salmon, like pencils. Spread the purée mixture over top.

4) Brush the margins with the egg wash. Lay the top pastry over the salmon and press the edges to seal, like a giant ravioli. Trim the edges, leaving a 1-inch/2.5 cm border. Press with the tines of a fork, then, with the dull edge of a knife, scallop the edges. Make two or three slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Brush all over with the egg-wash glaze and bake until puffed up and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

5) Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes before slicing to serve. This dish is also good at room temperature.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes

I haven't been making cupcakes for quite a while now. Cupcakes are such a novelty these days and everywhere you go people seem to be raving about them. You would have thought it would be just another "fad" that would dwindle away after a while but I think they are here to stay. There are even bakeries that just specialize in nothing else but cupcakes! Who would have thought about that! In fact I was just watching an old re-run of Martha Stewart this morning and she had a segment on cupcakes as well. She did a round up of the best cupcakes in the United States. And guess who was in the audience with a special mention, none other than the famous trio from Cupcakes Take the Cake . If you want to find out what is new in the cupcake scene, head over to their blog which is an eye-opener.

Anyway I've always had this craving for citrus types of cupcakes or cakes So in line with my long absence from baking cupcakes I decided to come up with a batch of lemon cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Butter Icing
Makes 12 cupcakes


125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
1/2 large Lemons, finely grated zest only
1 tsp full finely chopped lemon peel
2 eggs, beaten
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder

For the lemon butter icing

75g Butter, softened
175g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 large Lemon, finely grated zest only
1-2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


1) Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a 12-hole fairy cake tin with paper cases.

2) Cream the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add the sugar and grated lemon zest and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Alternatively, whiz all the ingredients together in an electric food mixer.

3) Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for 12–15 minutes, until risen and golden. When cooked, the centre of each cake should be slightly springy to the touch. Remove the cakes from the tin and put on a wire rack to cool before you ice them.

4) For the lemon butter icing, cream the butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric beater until very soft. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat into the butter, along with the lemon zest and enough lemon juice to soften the icing to a spreadable consistency.

5) When the cupcakes are cool, spread a generous heaped teaspoon of lemon butter icing over the top of each one or using a star tip to pipe the cream on top of the cupcakes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Loh Mai Kai (Chicken in Glutinous Rice)

Since young we have always associated eating Loh Mai Kai with a dim sum breakfast. I believe this dish first originated as part of southern Chinese cuisine. It consist of glutinous rice filled with chicken, Chinese mushrooms, Chinese sausage, scallions and sometimes dried shrimp. The rice with it's flavouful content would then be wrapped in a dried lotus leaf and then steamed. Some restaurants would serve it the old fashion method with the lotus leaf. Because of difficulties in obtaining lotus leaves, some restaurants would just steam the rice in metal or procelain bowls and then serve it as it is. Sometimes Loh Mai Kai is divided into smaller wraps, which are known as chun chu gai (珍珠雞) literally meaning "pearly chicken" in Chinese.

Nowadays with modern technology you can even get ready made frozen Loh Mai Kai. You just need to take it out from the freezer, steam it according to the instrucitoions printed on the packing and in no time at all it's ready to be eaten. I've always loved ordering this dish whenever we are out for a dim sum (or yum cha as some of you may call it) meal. There is nothing better than a freshly steamed, piping hot Loh Mai Kai to fill your belly but you really have to eat this hot otherwise the glutinous rice tends to harden and dry out a bit.

This particular recipe comes from a Malaysian cookbook which has been with me for more than 15 years now. I've made this numerous times and have always gone back to using this recipe.

Loh Mai Kai (Chicken in Glutinous Rice)


450g glutinous rice
6 Chinese dried mushrooms
1/2 whole chicken
2 Tbsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp thick soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
7 Tbsp oil
170g roast pork (if you can't find roast pork, omit it but add a bit more chicken to your dish)
3 pieces dried chinese sausage
1 Tbsp cornflour
salt to taste
1 stalk coriander leave - chopped


1) Soak the glutinous rice overnight. Rinse and drain well.

2) Soak the mushroom for about 20 minutes and then cut in half

3) Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Season with 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil and 1 tsp sugar.

4) Slice the roast pork into 1 cm cubes and season with 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp thick soy sauce, 1 Tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, the remaining sugar and pepper.

5) Slice the sausages thinly, lightly fry for about 2 minutes and set aside.

6) Heat 2 Tbsp oil and fry chicken until cook and all the gravy absorbed. Remove and set aside.

7) Heat another 2 Tbsp oil, add in roast pork and stir fry for about a minute.

8) Add mushrooms and 1/4 cup water cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Blend cornflour with 1/4 cup of water and thicken the gray. Set aside.

9) Mix the glutinous rice with 3 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

10) Divide chicken, roast pork, sausages and mushrooms into 10 equal portions. Place each portion in a bowl.

11) Divide the rice into 10 portions also and cover the ingredients of each bowl with 1 portion of rice. The bowls should only be half full.

12) Steam the bowls of rice in a steamer for 30 minutes or until the rice is well cooked.

13) Turn each bowl of rice onto a serving plate and serve garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pistachio Petit Four Cake

How time has flown this year and I can't believe that it's now almost the end of August! In just about four months from now, we would be celebrating Christmas again. My sister and her family had migrated to Melbourne, Australia in November last year will coming back home or "balik kampung" as Malaysians would call it. My niece had specifically asked her mother to make sure that they drop by and visit me in Singapore. She misses my two dogs. She's not allowed to have a dog right now as their current house which is a 2 bedroom one is simply too small to have another living body invading the space. So I guess the nearest thing she has to the "real" deal, other than her virtual pet dog Nintendo (or is it 3 now ... I forgot) are my two mutts. I'm looking forward to their visit for sure.

Anyway back to the matter at hand. For this particular month, our Cake Slice Bakers group had selected a Pistachio Petit Four Cake. Marzipan, jam preserves and a dark chocolate glaze turn a pistachio butter cake into an irresistible dessert reminiscent of European petit fours glaces. I baked the layers on Friday after a late dinner and did the assembling on Saturday afternoon. The cake is decorated with chopped roasted pistachios and gumpaste roses which had been made much earlier on. This cake is absolutely delicious as I had used a bitter chocolate to make the ganache. I'm definitely going to keep this recipe for a much larger version the next time round.

Pistachio Petit Four Cake
Makes an 8" triple layer cake - serves 12 to 16
Recipe from Sky High Irresistible Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne


3/4 cup skinned pistachio nuts
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
226g (8 ounces)unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup apricot preserves
Marzipan (below)
Dark chocolate glaze (below)


1) Preheat the oven to 180C (350F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2) Spread out the pistachios in a baking tray and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly coloured. Transfer to a dish and let cool completely. Finely chop the pistachios and set 1/4 cup aside for decoration.

3) Put the remaining 1/2 cup pistachios in a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Blend with the mixer on low for 30 seconds.

4) Add the butter, milk and vanilla and wit the mixer on low, beat until completely incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only long enough to blend after each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

5) Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.


8 ounces almond paste
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Crumble the almond paste into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to soften the almond paste. Add the confectioners sugar and corn syrup and beat until smooth. Wrap well in plastic so it doesn’t fry out and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before rolling.

Dark Ganache Glaze

1 pound extra bittersweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Chop the chocolate coarsely and out it in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Pour immediately over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making before it starts to set. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before use.

To Assemble:

1) Roll out a third of the marzipan on a work surface dusted with a little confectioners sugar to about 1/8th inch thick. Set one of the cake pans upside down on the marzipan and trim around it with a small knife to make an 8 inch round. Repeat twice more with the remaining marzipan. Save your scraps to make roses for decoration if desired.

2) Place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up. Spread 1/4 cup of the apricot preserves evenly over the top, leaving a 1/4 inch margin all round to allow for spreading. Place one marzipan round on top of the preserves and spread 1/3 cup ganache glaze over the top of the marzipan so that it is completely covered. Repeat with the second cake layer, adding more preserves, marzipan and glaze.

3) Add the final cake layer and top with preserves and marzipan as before. Place the whole cake on a wire rack set over a baking pan. Pour the remaining dark ganache glaze over the cake, spreading it as evenly as possible over the top and sides of the cake. Allow the ganache to set before transferring to a plate. It should be smooth and glossy.

Garnish the top with the reserves chopped pistachios.

Optional: Make some marzipan roses with any leftover marzipan scraps if desired.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I have recently discovered a new baking show which is aired on my local cable network. The show is produced by BBC and is called "Bake" by Rachel Allen. Although it's only a half an hour show, I find her program to be extremely interesting. In the first part of the show, she would whip up a baked recipe and it could be either sweet or savoury. In the mid section of the program, she would cover a short feature. The last one was visiting a local chocolatier and having a quick insight as to how chocolate truffles are made. In the last piece of the program, which is an instructional piece, she would take a group of students through the intricacies of a baked recipe.

This particular recipe which I'm posting now comes from one of Rachel Allen's programs. If you are lazy you have the option of purchasing frozen puff pastry which will save you a bit of time. However if you do have time, it's always better to make your own. My other half who is not a "sweet toothed" person, thoroughly enjoyed this. It's amazing how the carmerlized onions blended so well with the saltiness of the anchovies and black olives. One piece of advice would be to make sure you cut each anchovy in half before latticing your pastry, otherwise it may be way too salty! Also make sure you eat this fresh from the oven. Serve with a side salad or just have it for an afternoon treat.

Recipe adapted from Rachel Allen's "Bake"

Ingredients for the shortcrust pastry:

200g plain flour, sifted
100g Butter, chilled and cubed
1 medium egg, beaten (for brushing the pastry)

Ingredients for the topping:

900g Onions, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs
30-60g tinned anchovy fillets, drained (liquid saved for shortcrust pastry) and halved lengthways
10 black olives, pitted and sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves (thinly sliced for decoration)

Method for the pastry:

1) Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process briefly.

2) Add half the beaten egg and continue to process. (You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.) If making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then, using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together.

3) With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm thick, then wrap it in cling film or place it in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or, if you are pushed for time, in the freezer for 10–15 minutes, before using.

Method for the topping:

1) Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed frying pan, then add the onions. Stir the onions and cook over a low heat, covered, for at least 20 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the pan every few minutes.

2) Add the garlic, herbs and salt, pepper and sugar, and continue cooking for ten minutes, or until the onions begin to melt and turn golden. Remove from the heat.

To Assemble:

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

2) Remove the pastry from the fridge, uncover and, with a floured rolling pin, roll out on a floured work surface into a rectangle to fit a 23 x 33cm swiss roll tin. Lift it onto the tin and prick the whole base with a fork. Bake in the oven for ten minutes, then remove.

3) Cover the pre-baked base with an even layer of onions. Arrange the anchovy fillets in a lattice pattern over the onions, placing a whole or halved olive within each diamond.

4) Return to the oven and bake for a further 25 minutes to allow the flavours to blend, and the pastry is golden brown and crisp around the edges. Serve hot or slightly warm.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Molasses Cookies

I had spare time on my hands a few weeks back and decided that I'll to try out a cookie recipe I had chanced upon whilst browsing through one of my favourite food blogs, Jen of Use Real Butter . If you have not checked out her blog, I would encourage you to do so. I particularly admire Jen for her great recipes and beautifully taken nature photographs. In addition, I find her to be an amazing person, witty and funny, strong in character but at the same time having such a sensitive nature.

Anyway it was mid week, after work and the telly was showing some really crappy movies. So to while away the spare time, I decided to try out her cookie recipe. It also gives me the opportunity to use up the 2 bottles of molasses I have sitting in my cupboard. I particularly love ginger cookies and when I was young, I would dunk them into a cup of Nescafe and gobble up the soggy bits with such tenacity. Hmmm come to think of it I haven't done that in ages! Since my first batch, I've made three other batches todate and have slightly adjusted the original recipe. All I can say is these cookies are damn, damn good and I'll be making some more pretty soon.

Molasses Cookies
Recipe Adapted from Use Real Butter


3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (190g) dark brown sugar, packed (I reduced the sugar to 175g)
1 cup (225g) fine castor sugar (I reduced the sugar to 180g)
2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 cup (200g) molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 cup (130g) crystallized ginger, minced
2 tsps (5g) vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla
3 3/4 cups (530g) flour
1 1/2 tsps (7g) baking soda
6 tsps (12g) ground ginger (I added 8 tsps of ground ginger as I do like my cookies with a bit more ginger "kick" to it)
2 tsps (5g) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (1g) ground cloves
1/4 tsp (2g) salt


2 cups powdered sugar
about 1/4 cup milk (add a bit at a time)


1) Cream together the butter and the sugars. Stir in the eggs, molasses, ginger, vinegar, and vanilla.

2) In a separate bowl, combine the remaining (dry) ingredients and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and beat until just combined.

3) Preheat oven to 325°F (160C). Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet or Silpat with 1.5 inches of space between each (they spread a bit but if you want a much flatter cooker, just flatten the ball slightly with the back of your palm). I found it easier to chill the dough for a while before shaping it. And in between trays I returned the dough into the fridge to chill.

4) Bake about 12 minutes. Cookies should be still soft when removed from oven. Cool on a wire rack.

To Make the Icing:

Place powdered sugar in bowl and add a little milk, stirring to incorporate. Continue to add milk if required until the glaze has a good thick pouring consistency (but not runny). Fill a squeeze bottle with the glaze and stripe the cookies. Let the glaze set.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

I love muffins that are soft and more cake like and often than not it's difficult to find such recipes. So when I came across this one which swears that it's soft and moist, I simply had to try it out. Furthermore it's a blueberry muffin and I have heaps of it in my freezer. Blueberries are now amazingly cheap. Just two weekends ago we were at a local hypermart and they were going for (Singapore Dollars)S$3.90 for 250g. A week later another local supermarket had theirs on sale for S$2.90 for 250g. So I decided to stock up my freezer and I do believe I have at least a kilo and half in there! Crazy or what!

Anyway I read from another fellow food blogger who had tried out the same recipe and she recommended reducing the sugar. I thus decided to follow suite and was surprised that her advice was true. After tasting a slightly warm muffin from the oven, I must concur that this indeed is a very moist and soft muffin recipe. I am already thinking of the variations to the batter by adding different fresh and dried fruits, as well as nuts.

Blueberry Muffins
Receipt Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 12 muffins


113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup fine granulated white sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups which would have been way too sweet in my opinion)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk *
220g fresh blueberries — rinsed, drained, and dried (if using frozen berries, do not thaw)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

* I didn't have buttermilk so I used slightly warmed low fat milk (you can use regular milk), add 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar and leave standing for 10 minutes before using. Left over should be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for 2 days.


1) Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin or cupcake pan with baking cups.

2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter, 1 cup sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add in the lemon zest. Then beat in the eggs one at a time.

3) Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Take out 2 tablespoon of the flour and put aside,

4) With the remaining flour add to the batter in 3 portions alternating with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.

5) Crush 1/4 of the blueberries, and stir into the batter. Mix the rest of the whole blueberries with the 2 tablespoon of flour, and fold into the batter. (The flour helps to prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom whilst baking) Scoop into muffin cups. I find an ice-cream scoop to be most useful when doing this.

6) Bake in preheated oven of 180C for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown, and tops spring back when lightly tapped.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kuih Dadar (Coconut Pancakes)

My hubby voluntered to go to the nearby shops to buy me some groceries which I had required and this included 2 small packs of coconut cream and 1 pack of pre-packed coconut milk. What he came back with was 2 big packs of coconut cream and 1 pack of pre-packed grated fresh coconut. I guess this is what you get when you send a man to do a woman's job ... (I seriously hope he is not reading this!).

Anyway with an "unplanned" ingredient at hand I decided to try my hand at making kuih dadar for the first time ("kuih" means cake or dessert in Malay). In plain English, it's a pancake with grated coconut filing. Okey to be exact it's a pandan-flavoured pancake with a filing of grated coconut and palm sugar. This pancake is a very popular Malay dessert and as with almost all Malay kuihs, the most common flavouring ingredients are coconut cream or milk, grated coconut, pandan (screwpines) leaves and palm sugar. This kuih is very delicious and quite addictive, and nothing beats eating it fresh and warm, hot from the gridle.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested to try out another popular local Malaysian kuih which is Onde-onde .

Kuih Dadar (Coconut Pancakes)
Makes about 25 pancakes


150g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 small eggs, beaten
150ml (2/3 cup) thin coconut milk (you can substitute with plain milk)
100ml (1/2 cup less 5 tsp) pandan juice (refer below)
65ml (1/4 cup) water
1 Tbsp light vegetable oil (such as sunflower or soya)
1 1/2 portions coconut filing (refer below)
oil for greasing small frying pan


1) Sift flour and salt into a medium sized mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and into this, pour in the eggs, coconut milk and pandan juice. Using a whisk, gradually incorporate the flour into the liquid, making a smooth batter free from lumps. (If you should have lumps, just strain the batter using a sieve)

2) Thin the batter down with the additonal 65ml of water and stir in the oil. Mix well. Cover bowl and allow batter to stand for 20 - 30 minutes.

3) Make the coconut filing and set aside to cool.

4) To make the pancakes, heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Using a heat-proof brush, lightly brush you pan with some oil. Ensure your pan is sufficient hot (a drop of water should sizzle instantly) before starting on the pancakes.

5) Stir batter, pour about 2 Tbsp of batter into the pan and immediately rotate the pan so that the batter covers the base in a thin layer. (You want to achieve a pancake size of about 5" circle) Allow batter to set and just begin to brown. Flip pancake over and allow the other side to cook, just for a few seconds.

6) Turn the pancake out onto a plate. Continue making the pancakes, stacking the finished ones on top of each other as you go along. As the batter tends to thicken as you cook the pancakes, you might need to thin it down with a tablespoon or 2 f water.

To Assemble:

Place 1 Tbsp of filing about 1/3 bottom of the pancake.
Fold both sides towards the middle and roll the pancake away from you, neatly enclosing the filing and creaing a little parcel.

To make the pandan juice:
(makes 1/2 cup)

6-8 large pandan leaves
150ml (2/3 cup) water

1) Rinse pandan leaves and cut into 2 cm lengths

2) Place leaves and water in a blender or chopper and process until pulverized. Pour through a fine strainer. Measure out required juice for recipe.

* If you cannot find pandan leaves, you can use the same equivalent of water and add about 2 tsp pandan paste (or essence). Add a bit of green colouring if essence is clear. Pandan essence can be bought at an Asian grocery shop

To make the coconut filing:
(makes 1 cup)

100g (2/3 cup) plam sugar, roughly chopped (can be bought at an Asian grocery shop)
75ml (1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) water
1 pandan leaf, knotted (can be omitted if you cannot find this)
100g (1 cup) freshly grated coconut

1) Place plam sugar and water in a pan and cook until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 10 minutes until liquid starts to thicken and become syrupy.

2) Add the pandan leaf and grated coconut and continue cooking over low heat for 10 -15 minutes until the filing is thick and glossy. Most of the liquid should have evaporated. Cool and use as desired. Keeps well if stored in a covered container in the fridge for about 3 - 4 days.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Would you believe me if I told you that I have always wondered what a brioche tasted like? It's true ... okey. And I told myself that I am going to find out this weekend as my game plan was to make me a batch of brioches.

I have been trying out a few different yeasted recipes lately and I must admit that my confidence level for making bread has gone up a notch. Previously it was rock bottom! Hmmm come to think of it that was pretty much how I would have described what my bread was like too! I'm pleased to say of the recipes I have tried todate, non have failed me yet and the end result were tasty loafs. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the brioches will turn out as they should. If you have not made bread before, bear in mind that you really have to put aside at least 4 hours of "hanging around" time simply because yeasted recipes will require either one or 2 proofings.

I made the full recipe as below but used only half of it which worked out to about 8 brioches. The remaining dough is sitting in the freezer right now and I hope to thaw it out this weekend. Maybe I'll turn them into savoury buns instead. The amount of butter in the ingredients made the brioches extremely moist, soft and buttery .... a little bit difficult to handle if you don't have a sturdy mixer. For the end result .... I must report that they are extremely, extremely delicious - on it's own, slightly warm or served with your favourite jam - yum! I took some to the office (they were left in an airtight container over night) and surprisingly the brioches retained it's fluffiness.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested to try out another yeast recipe, Celebration Bread .

Makes about 14 to 15 brioches


2/3 cup (150ml) whole milk (I used low fat milk as that was what I had in the fridge)
2 1/4 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 packet (7gr) dry active yeast
1 egg
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
5 tablespoons (70g) butter, at room temperature
egg wash: 1 egg whisked
1/3 cup apricot jam (you can use any other jam you favour)
pearl sugar to decorate (you can use candied fruit as well)


1) In a microwave safe bowl, warm up the milk for about 25 seconds in the microwave until lukewarm (no higher than 110-112F) and stir in the yeast with a wooden spoon to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2) Put yeast mixture into a stand mixer bowl, add the egg, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.

3) Put on low speed (speed 1) and using a dough hook, slowly add in the flour and orange extract. As the flour gets incorporated start adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Let the machine run for another 8 minutes to knead. You can do this by hand but the dough is extremely wet and a stand mixer makes it easier to handle.

4) Place the dough in a lightly oil bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

5) Then transfer the dough to the refrigerator to rest for an hour. At this point you can leave the dough in the fridge for a day or overnight or proceed with the recipe. (Alternatively you can also freeze the dough for another day)

6)Preheat oven to 180C. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a ball and divide it into half. Keep one part refrigerated as you work on the first one.

7) Divide the dough into 7 balls. Pinch a small piece from each ball, the size of a small grape. Shape the remaining into a round ball. Place the large ball onto a brioche mould and the smaller one on top of it. Repeat with the remaining 6 balls. Remove the other half dough from the fridge and repeat the shaping process. Place the brioche moulds on a baking sheet and let rise for 30-40 minutes.

8) Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

9) Let cool. In the meantime, spoon some apricot jam into a bowl and microwave it for about 15 seconds. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted jam on the brioche. Then stick on the pearl sugar on each brioche for decoration. Serve brioche with apricot jam.

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