Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good Intentions

Actually, today I had intended to visit fellow flogger's new bookshop and cafe, in Tmn Eng Ann, Klang. The plan was to meet at 12pm for lunch. Now, this fellow is notoriously busy, and is likely to cancel at the last minute. However, as a buah tangan and "shop" warming present, I was gonna bring him a mini tiramisu, made by me, of course. Call me cheap if you must. BUT AS expected, I get an sms saying he has to bail cos he's got a meeting.

As you can see, I am not just talking. There lies the 5" cake, placed in a larger 8" dia pan for you to get a sense of scale, and the tub of mascarporne, which now lies in the fridge awaiting its fate. The cake is the base cake (coffee chiffon) for the tiramisu torte.

Meanwhile, as I was itching to try out something new, and wanted to use up my cream cheese (once opened, best to use ASAP) so I simply whack this baked coffee cheese cake. Didn't follow any recipe, but just by trial and error, using the basic cheesecake recipes...

Base : Coffee sponge/ chiffon...but we all agreed biscuit base would be better. Also, wanted to use up my extra chiffon.

Qty for 2 cakes:

800gms cream cheese
1 cup sugar .... depending on taste....

Cream the above 2 ingredients first

2 tablespoons coffee in 200ml water
1 cup cornflour

Add into above ingredients

6 eggs beaten, mixed into above concoction

Fold in 300ml semi beaten whipped cream, and a tub of sour cream.

In retrospect, I would omit the sour cream, makes it heavier than Pavarotti. Replace with another 300ml whipped cream, so 600ml in total.

Bear in mind these are for TWO cakes, so dont forget to halve it, or you will have one gianormous cake.

Then the usual, bake in water bath, dont forget to seal your cake tin with alum foil, and bake at 160C for 1 hour, turn off oven, take out from water bath, leave in oven for another hour, then chuck in fridge.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Share Share La.

Hi [FBB]...***** here...just log into yr blog ...looks like u don't post yr recipes online secret...anyway don't keep it from me pls...yr fruit cake looks very good...need yr recipe for that as well as yr godma's butter and that banana walnut....can u email me at *******

I got the above message on msn today, by a friend.

Actually, just yesterday, some friends were saying that they were surprised that I do put up recipes at all, if I was doing this commercially. But hey, I am of the opinion, it's better to share than not to. Afterall, you can literally get recipes ANYWHERE anyway, and people who order cakes from you don't do so because they can't find recipes, but it's because they either can't be bothered to bake, or are intimidated to do so. If they want to bake, they are gonna bake regardless....all it takes is one google search and you'll have enough recipes for a lifetime.

I guess one reason why I DO want to put up recipes, apart from my ahem, gregarious sharing nature, is so that people can see what good stuff goes in. So really, tis more blessed to give than to receive, as the biblical quote goes.

I'll put up the fruitcake recipe soon enough. I'm still on the quest for Mrs Shan's recipe though, our ex neighbour who makes the most sublime fruitcake. As she is Catholic, I was hoping that the fruitcake in RC cookbook was similar, but it wasn't. And no point putting up the butter cake recipe until it was been perfected.

Meanwhile, I had the most wonderful homecooked peranakan food on Saturday night, at ELR's abode. Company was great, food was divine. Imbibed copious amounts of Moet with fresh strawberries, for starters. Princess D's vodka jelly was VERY potent...We started with a tantalisingly refreshing and tangy salad, with raisins that complemented the sour dressing exceedingly well. When the Newlywed Young Lawyer and Wife arrived, we had already started on the mains, which was Babi Assam, absolutely superb, ...a mix of pork with tamarind, lemongrass and other stuff that made it really appetising, curry Chicken, with drumsticks the size of turkey legs, made from special curry powder all the way from Malacca. There was a lovely beef rendang, which was in itself delicious, but eclipsed by the other two dishes, and a lovely aubergine dish. Problem with this kinda food, you really load up on the rice. Yummmmmmmmy.....!!!

Oh, on Friday night, we were at Isthmus for the KLUE Martell dinner. Met legendary food blogger Boolicious aka Masak Masak there, as well as prolific blogger Meiyen. For full account of the night, read in other blog, here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Christmas Catholic Fruit Cake

First, let me state that I am in no way Roman Catholic. I am Protestant as they come. However, I did stumble across a recipe for fruitcake that looked rather good in my RC mother's RC Cookbook. Hence the name I gave it, the Catholic Fruitcake. It is not referring to anyone in particular.

Anyway, my fruits have been macerating in half a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP Cognac since early December, in anticipation of Christmas. That came and went like Katrina, and up to the frist week of January, the raisins were still getting plumper by the day, enjoying their brandy spa. Any longer and they'd have turned back into grapes.

So, since last last week was quiet, viz a viz cake orders, I decided to end the raisin's holiday, and get them in the oven. I had picked up a tip while bantering with other tai tais (or see lais, not sure which were they) in Bake With Yen, to use brown paper to line the baking tray. Fruit cakes need thick paper lining, and rather than using layers of baking paper, apparently this was a better and cheaper alternative. Of course the innermost layer has to be baking paper.

As fruit cakes take forever to bake, I could put it in the oven, go 1 utama jalan jalan, come home to take it out just in time. Of all cakes, I think fruit cakes are the most painful to make. Takes forever to bake, cant be eaten immediately, needs constant follow up, by feeding it with brandy.... I honestly dont think its worth my while to offer these for sale. Half a bottle of brandy, already cost like RM50. What, am I to charge RM100 for a 4" x 4" block? Who'll buy???

Verdict : Well, after "maturing" (it's probably still a toddler by fruitcake standards) fro 1½ weeks, I couldn't wait any longer, and proceeded to cut a slice to sample. It was okay then. Yesterday, I proceeded to the second row, ie, no side crusts. I have to say that it was rather good. Easy to cut too, which is a good sign, ie, moist enough.

Oh well, whoever wants a sample, email me. I'll pass you a morsel. (size of those slices of wedding cake they give out at hotels).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sweet Is Subjective

As I was kinda handicapped over the weekend, as finger was in bandage, wife had to come to the rescue for High Tea we were supposed to go for, and bring scones. As scones require kneading, I obviously could not partake in the festivities, and even had to turn down a profiterole order, as I didn't want to risk botching up the job. I also discovered that those disposable gloves that butchers and deli fellas wear, are actually quite convenient, and quite cheap too.

This is a 2.5kg oreo cake, my first attempt at a 10" diameter oreo cake. It's really strange, coz I also made another normal sized one, and the reviews I got, respectively were:

8" diameter eater: ...just nice, not too sweet.
10" diameter eater: ...nice, a bit sweet.

Actually, for the oreo cake, there is no added sugar at all. The sweetness comes from the sponge mix, the oreos, and the chocolate. So I can't even reduce the sweetness, short of using bitter chocolate, which in this case, would mean price is inversely proportional to sweetness. ie, the less sweet, the more expensive. (since the only bitter chocolates are either hershey, lindt or valrhona).

These are the stuff that we brought to the tea party, hosted by KTT. Mini chicken pies, which I made, but wife had to seal the pastry together. Chicken pies are easy to make, and always quite popular. Just blitz a bit, one roughly shredded roast chicken, (I usually buy from TMC), add frozen veggies, (pea, carrot and corn combo), shred some cheddar cheese in, a cup of cream, a packet of powdered mushroom soup, (dissolved in a bit of hot water)...supposedly no MSG, the campbells one....toss all together, and put into store bought puff know, I can imagine doing a tv show ala nigella lawson, giving this running commentary.....except, unlike nigella, no one will watch.

Scones made by the bini. I measured out all the ingredients, all she had to do was knead. They were rather good, if I may say so myself. Pat on my head for the wonderful measuring job.

He finds solace with his mixing bowl....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Golden Churn, Golden Fern

Further to anonymous' comment that golden churn is the way to go, when baking, and further confirmation by others, I seeked out this giorgio armani brand of the butter world. It cost in TMC, RM8.99 per tin, and the label was in red, implying it was on offer. Gasp, how much would it cost NORMALLY then. One tin of golden churn is 340gm. I think it's unsalted. Actually, if you eat it like that, I finally understand what the chinese describe as "sou". Very strong, bovine smell, not in a bad way.

Then yesterday, I got a call from Mrs McGregor, who told me Bake With Yen was selling them at RM6.50 for 454 gms. (That's the magic figure for 1 lb, ie, 1 pound, for those of you too young to remember the imperial system of weights). I couldn't believe my ears. I called them up, and the conversation went pretty much like this:

Me: Bake with Yen?
BY: Ya
ME: Do you sell Golden Churn butter? The one in the can
BY: Hah? Golden mutt yer??
Me: Golden Churn ah, neeehhhh, korti kum seck koon. (there, those in the golden tins)
BY: [shouting to the other lady] - eh, got golden churn ah?
BY: [lady shouting back] - no lah, got golden fern
Me : No no, golden CHURNNN
BY: Mmm hai churn la, golden FERRRRNNN
Me: How much ah?
BY: Sick Pifty.
Me: Okayla
BY: Lei kor lei tai la. (come over and see la).

So I troop over to bake with yen after work, and sure enough, it's Golden Fern. Now, I suspect Golden Fern and Golden Churn are one and the same, coz it's from the same Road in New Zealand, same area, ....except GF has that HALAL logo on it. And, its in 454 gm. Anyway, both say pure creamery butter.

Now, why am I suddenly going on about golden churn?

Well, golden churn supposedly is THE golden standard for butter cakes. Singaporean friend of mine was telling me this lady in singapore sells 30 butter cakes a day, at S$35. No more, no less. You do the math. It's rather tidy pickings. I don't intend to be a lady who sells 30 butter cakes a day, but I would rather like to add to my repertoire, a reputable butter cake. I reckon it's the basic basic skill, like vocabulary, upon which your entire credibility lies. Can you imagine, someone saying, WHATTT LA YOU, BUTTER CAKE OSO DONNO HOW TO MAKE?

Truth be told, it's harder than I thought. My first few attempts were botched. The attempt using Buttercup, that butter impersonator, was a mega disaster. I didn't even bother tasting the cake, it was used for my Wilton level 1 cake deco base...gave it to the maids to dunk in their coffee. (my view, not to be snobbish, but if you have to ingest calories, it should be WORTHWHILE calories).

Godma, my baking mentor, gave me her recipe and asked me to try. When she saw the product this morning, she said, VERY NICE....only, to have my bubble deflated a few minutes later, when the verdict came, "AIYA, your texture not nice la". Okay, it could be one of a few things. I think it might be the flour. Those designer butter cakes probably use designer flour, like Pillsbury. So, that's what I'm gonna do next.

You can see my latest botched attempt above. The taste was fine, actually. The texture, a bit coarse, and those dark patches are apparently uneven sugar distribution. Useless kenwood. (a bad workman blames his tools).

Anyway, I'll keep you posted once (or if) I've achieved the desired texture. Actually, I reckon it's quite subjective. Some people like fluffy, light cakes, some like dense, millstone around the neck kinda cakes that can be used as a ship's anchor.

Meanwhile, I have to say my handwriting has improved. Can actually read legibly hor. In case you're thinking the above birthday cake looks plain, it is deliberately so, cos its meant to be a healthy cake. It's a banana walnut raisin, previously appearing as loafs. (loaves? loafs sound better)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Weird Measurements

Of all the weird US measurements, I find their measurements of butter to be the strangest. They usually refer to it as cups or sticks, or worse, tablespoons. How do you measure a table spoon of butter, and WHY on earth WOULD you do that?!!!

Most butter wrappers come with weight graduations, or if not its easy enough to guesstimate the weight by dividing a block evenly.

Anyway, I found out this information:

1 stick of butter = 1/4 pound
1 stick of butter = 1/2 cup
1 stick of butter = 8 tablespoons
1 stick of butter = 4 ounces
1 stick of butter = 113 grams

So, by extension, 1 cup of butter = 227 grams (the almost standard size of one block these anchor butter, is 227gm instead of 250gm), and 1 cup butter = 16 tablespoons.

While we're at it, those of you who don't have a digital scale, might wonder how to measure 7g of yeast. Aside from going to the post office and asking them to weigh for you, ....hmmm, I found out that 7g of yeast is 2 teaspoons. Although recently I have been given a digital scale, I haven't bothered to verify.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Coffee Chiffon Walnut Cream Cake

The good thing about being acquainted with Culinary Guru, Masak-Masak aka Boolicious, is it's like having a doctor on call. Now, I suspect this is why her contact is not for public consumption, or she'd be swamped with culinary emergency calls.

My recent baking "disaster" was last week. Actually, after the Christmas New Year period, orders have dropped to a grinding halt, giving me a much welcome break from the heatwave emanating from the oven. I swear I must have gotten a tan from opening the oven so regularly in December. Anyway, the good thing about having a break is, you're finally free to experiment a bit.

I had to bring a cake to a friend's house, a Tiramisu Cake, to be exact. But I thought it a waste just to bake ONE coffee chiffon cake, so I doubled the quantities. Everything was going really well until my dad started chatting with me. I had painfully separated 8 eggs, whites in a bowl, the yolks in another. While chatting, I measured the oil, and without thinking, started pouring some into the WHITE!!!!! Of course, Jamie Oliver, Joanne Fam (my instructress from Wilton) and whoever else, have always parroted the fact that EGG WHITE AND FAT ARE ENEMIES. or more precisely, Meringue and Fat are enemies. Gee, I must be meringue's worst enemy then.

Anyway, I made a mental shriek, and proceeded to scoop out whatever oil I could. Crossing my fingers, and toes, and sending an sms to Boolicious, I proceeded to whip the egg white ANYWAY. Now, I'm honestly beginning to wonder if this enmity between albumen and fats are as mythical as the enmity between Joan Collins and Linda Evans. (Alexis Carrington and Crystal Carrington). To my surprise, the meringue did whip up nicely, but as a precaution, I beat the rest of the cake mixture a bit more to incorporate some extra air into it. Now, surprise surprise, the cake turned out fine.

As can be seen from the picture above, everything was above board, and rose nicely. Chiffons have a tendency to collapse after taking out of oven, hence my tip to friend was to invert the tin, as most cookbook suggest.

Now, one cake went toward making the Tiramisu. I've always felt that I needed more coffee flavoured recipes, so proceeded to experiment on my own. Using a thick coffee mixture, with a little water added to dissolve the granules, (I think about 1-2 tablespoons coffee powder), mixed into 2½ cups of whipped cream, with about 3 tablespoons sugar, (or less), I used this coffee cream to intersperse the layers of chiffon. Oh, I also added a cup of roughly chopped walnuts into the cream mixture. To top it off, a layer of another cup of walnuts (which makes it quite an expensive cake, by virtue of the walnuts alone!), and chocolate rice on the sides.

Tah dah. I have to say I was VERY pleased with the results. Best when really chilled, it really tasted rather delectable, IF I MAY SAY SO MYSELF!!!! For a more economical version of the cake, I guess the best way is to reduce the walnuts. Two cups of walnuts, afterall, costs nearly RM10 IF you buy your walnuts from Carrefour or even more, if from Cold Storage. But who buys from there right!!!

You may all now slowly thank me.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Boundary of the Years

As the year drew to an end, there was a spate of parties, and quite a lot of baking. Remember my "graduation" cake from the Wilton decorating course? I found a good use for it, as it turns out, the next day was my parents' in law's wedding anniversary. And since that floral cake, complete with 2 love birds have this 50s/60s feel to it, I thought it would be apt, although I did point out several times it was for "decoration" and not so much for eating.

Turned out to be a good idea, coz the kids attacked the sugar flowers like bees would attack real ones.

Can see that the two birds are gone. Everytime I look at that cake, I shudder at the thought of all those flowers, and basket weaving. Why oh why!!!

In a small screen on the phone, this picture looked like something from a Martha Stewart setting. But after enlarging, the resolution seems bad. Anyway, it was taken at a friend's office party, whereby I had supplied the cheese cake and the brownie. In the background is the turkey.

This rum and raisin pie, extracted from Martha Stewart's baking handbook, seems to be the cake du jour, as I think I had the most number of orders for this in the last 2 weeks. However, my "duty free" rum has run out, and it's no longer viable to sell it commercially, unless the buyer provides me with their own rum. (if I were to incorporate the price of the rum in, it would sound absurdly expensive). The raisins have been swimming in the rum for as long as possible.

For New Year eve party, my contribution was a 2kg lemon/lime cheese cake, a choc oreo cake and a rum and raisin pie. The latter two were finished, whereas the cheesecake was not laku at all. I decided to tah pau half of it home, only to have my cousin drop the whole box on the way out.....

Ah well!!!! Anyway, Happy New Year all, may your cooking pots always overflow with abundant goodies, may good smells emanate from your ovens, and may all your kitchen appliances never konk out at the most inopportune moment.