baking fiends unite!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cream cheese loaf

The 1st bread I baked using my newly-acquired breadmaker was a cream cheese loaf. I wanted a fresh loaf of bread that the family can consume early in the morning, so I set the machine on a delayed-time mode. However, the sight that greeted me the next morning was a shock. The bread had collapsed after baked and it was such an ugly sight! I tried to problemshoot to find out what went wrong and came to a conclusion that maybe it's the delayed mode that caused it. After that attempt using the breadmaker, I did not have the time to try it out again till today.

I decided to try the cream cheese loaf again, but this time, using the basic mode. I was home the whole afternoon, which left enuf time for the machine to do its thing. I was worried that history would repeat itself, as a collapsed bread could mean many things, such as too much yeast activity, too much liquid or even the flour! So I ended up peeping into the machine thru'out the whole process.... so I could immediately spot what had gone wrong if the bread should collapse again.

After a goood 3 hours, the bread was finally ready. This time it did not collapse as badly as the previous try, only a slight indentation on the top. When I did a cross section of the bread, it did rise, with pretty large holes too. So, MAYBE it's really the delayed mode that contributed to the collapse.
Anyway.... here's how the bread looks. After 2 tries wif the bread machine, I can say that I'm really not impressed by it. I'm even contemplating selling the machine away... will see how it goes.

A very close-up shot of the bread.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Char Siew Baos

CS baos of all shapes and sizes.... LOL

I'm a lover of char siew baos.... of course given the chance, I'll love to try making some myself. However, somehow or rather, the to-do list kept getting longer and char siew baos were pushed right to the bottom. It doesn't help that baos are readily available, esp at my fav stalls! I remembered picking up a pack of Hong Kong flour on impulse (no surprise here) and it's been kept in the pantry for the longest time. While clearing my pantry that day, I came across the pack of flour and decided I've had enuf of procrastinating.... as I did not have any char siew on hand, I decided to try making mantous instead. It turned out a disaster! ( so folks, no pics of the failed mantous here)

With my confidence taken a beating on the failed attempt of mantous, I had to do more research abt making char siew baos. I bought a strip of char siew from a stall that sells roast duck 2 days ago. (i know very well that if i intend to make my own char siew, the baos will definately not see daylight at all! LOL). Then I looked thru some forums and online for recipes. Finally settled on a recipe that required alot of patience! It involved a dough starter and all the work for the dough alone will take 3 days. I decided on this recipe 'coz of the good reviews and also I was thinking, the resulting baos shd be really good if the dough needed 3 days of poofing! Furthermore, the 1st 2 days of the dough preparation involved very little work. I could do it at nite b4 I hit the bed, which suited me perfectly fine!

However, I realised that my char siew filling was not sufficient for the amt of dough I made. So I bought some more char siew at the wet market for more filling for the remaining dough.

So here I present my char siew baos... of all shapes and sizes! LOL.....

I'm rewarded with decent enuf baos, nice texture but my shaping skills are lousy and the baos were rather hard after left to cool off completely. hm.... I guess I've to move on to another recipe for my next try or simply buy them off the shelves next time a craving hits!One of the more nicely shaped baos...

The interior of the bao... I love the sauce tho', albeit abit salty.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Party ideas

Besides the barbie doll cake, I also prepared other foods to share with my family.
Stuffed squid. Got the recipe from a parenting magazine sometime back. It's done based on my estimation as it's a very simple recipe and one has to adjust the amount of ingredients needed based on the size of the squids available.

Pork floss rolls. Another simple finger food. Besides these rolls, there's also some store-bought sushi and sashimi.Baked macaroni with cheese.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Another year older!!

Not Barbie... she never ages *sulk* and not me either! LOL... i want to be another year YOUNGER!

My dear Cherilynn turns 6 today.

Since last year, she had requested for a barbie doll cake, when one of her classmates celebrated her b'day in school one day. So without hesitation, I agreed. 'coz I was thinking that her b'day is at least 6mths away and maybe by then, she would've forgotten abt it or would want something else. Who knows, I still got the same answer abt the cake when I asked her a couple of weeks back. So I had to recall what I came across months back on the net when I chanced upon a site where they featured nothing else but barbie doll cakes! I've lost the link to that site. But well, then it only means I've to rely on my creative cells to decorate it.
I decided to be lazy and used a metal mixing bowl to bake the sponge cake. This is the 1st time I actually tried baking a cake in such a deep recepticle. As the bowl is really curvy, I would not be able to line it with greaseproof paper, so I ended up greasing and flouring it. And I'm pleased to report that it worked well! Besides that, due to the depth of the bowl, I had to extend the baking time for another 15 mins as the middle portion was still unbaked at 30mins.

I "broke" the barbie doll legs as they're too long! LOL... so I decided to dissect the doll and leave only the upper torso for the cake. ( I hope I will be able to attach the legs back when the cake is eaten!). In between the layers, I used blueberry fillings. And then I decorated the "skirt" with fresh cream and in the sweetest white, purple and pink! (you can go wrong with these colours, can u?)A peep down her cleavage *LOL*Views of her skirt....

Well, my piping skills has not improved much.... how to, when i dun practise?!?! LOL.... i'll try to take a pic of the cake when it's cut and upload it here...


Sunday, March 16, 2008


Panettones are not easily available unless it's near the x'mas season. Not only that, it's rather expensive.

As usual, this bread had been on my to-do list for sometime and I've never got around to try it. I've mentioned before that I've not been a fan of dried fruits, such as raisins and cherries, but the rest of the family loves it. Before cny, I soaked some fruits in rum and since then it's still sitting in the container waiting to be used. I was planning to bake another light fruit cake as it was well-received by the family. But then I suddenly recalled that the fruits can also be used in panettones! So I looked thru' my stash of recipe books and Elyn alerted me to a panettone recipe in Alex Goh's Bread book. Sweet Elyn even offered to type out the recipe and send it to me... and blur me, upon reaching home that nite, then realised that I do have that book at home! I had planned to look thru' the internet for a panettone recipe, and I did that, only to realise that most of the recipes called for a number of eggs. However, Alex's Goh's panettone recipe only required 1 egg... so of course I opted for the "healthier" version.

The recipe used the sponge method, which I had attempted before. The dough was rather difficult to handle as it was really soft and sticky. And true to it's description in the book, the finished bread is really light and soft. However, it can only yield 9 pcs of muffin-sized panettones. I decided to use rectangular paper liners which DH bought for me on his recent trip to China. It's bigger than the regular muffin cups so I had to estimate the amt of dough to fit the liner. Well, it turned out too little. The bread only raised up to 3/4 of the liner, and I only got 7 pcs of panettones. Also, I did not place the muffins liners in a tin, so I ended up with odd-shaped liners after the poofing!

If I were to make this bread using the same recipe next time, I'll probably double it. Also, now I understand why it's so at such a high price.... there's rum-soaked fruits and rum in it. However, commercially sold panettones tasted so dry and there's preservatives in it. And well, who knows if they used the sponge method of bread making?
PS : For those who are looking to buy a breadmaker, Carrefour had launched a new model of their in-house brand, Bluesky. It's retailing at $69.90. I just went to buy myself one! *happy dance*


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Luscious lychee muffins!

Made some muffins out of the leftover canned lychees... these are really really really GOOD. seriously.
Recipe from here... thanks to Jestina for generously sharing the recipe. I couldn't resist and took one before it cooled down. so... dammed... good! (yes, i repeated myself... guess it only shows how i love these muffins)

I managed to get only 10 small muffins out of it. Will definately be making more of these very soon.


Food review 2008 #02 - The Halia

For DH's b'day dinner, I chose to go to a restaurant with a very beautiful setting. It's the Halia at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The restaurant is so called the Halia 'coz it's set next to the Ginger Garden there. They have a signature drink which ginger (or halia) was used. I had read good reviews for this restaurant... and situated at the fringe of the busiest part of the city (Orchard rd) and yet a secluded corner with beautiful surroundings, all the more I was game to give this restaurant a try.

It was located very near the entrance to the ginger gardens (at Tyserall Road) and parking is really convenient.

I reserved a table at the outdoors dining area as I dun see the point of sitting in the air-con area when we've been experiencing such cool(er) weather recently. Furthermore, I love to be seated right next to greenery and taking in all the fresh air! We even spotted some squirrels playing at the branches right next to us!

Looking at the menu, actually I found that the variety isn't tat great. While researching thru' the net, I saw that they have a few signature dishes. So we decided to go for that.... we can't go wrong with those choices!

For starters, we went for the fried soft shell crabs accompanied by mayo-wasabi sauce. It was really delicious! DH who does not take wasabi in any form did not mind the sauce! maybe the wasabi added was too little, or maybe the crabs were too yummy! LOL... the crabs were deep fried to perfection! It was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside! and the crabs were rather huge, not like those small miserable looking crabs we often have at Japanese restaurants. This was easily DH's most satisfied dish for the dinner.Next, we had cream of mushroom soup. This was shitake mushroom. Initially I had my reservations abt this soup. Usually, one would not use shitake mushroom for a western cream base soup... the aroma/taste of shitake mushroom is usu too overpowering for it. But since the other soup that's available is a clear-based one (chef's choice, or, in other words, soup of the day - ginger soup with veg) and DH wanted to have a creamy soup, we decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, it was pretty well cooked. There's not strong shitake mushroom taste and yet there's even slices of shitake mushrooms in the soup. DH loved the soup too, but for me, well, it's still not that impressive. :PFor the main course, I ordered the rack of lamb. It was FANTASTIC! the lamb was really tender and juicy on the inside! I would say it's cooked to perfection! It was seasoned with Asian spices and I even tasted a tinge of satay in it.DH had the hokkaido scallops and sea-prawns linguine. There's asparagus and it was topped with some Salmon roe. I chose this dish 'coz DH loves seafood. But well, in the end we found that this dish is not as good as the others we tried. DH even remarked that the scallops were too big?!?!? *rolls eyes*
To end off the meal, we had a chocolate torte with molten chocolate. It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream at the side and some slices of strawberry. While the cake really tasted very good, I was lamenting abt the amt of chocolate in the cake. They could've added MORE! LOL... but overall it was a really satisfying end to the meal.
Pardon the poorly taken pics of the cake. By the time we had our dessert, it was pretty late and the lighting where I'm seated din help.Overall, I love the ambiance of the restaurant. The food's fantastic! however, i'll prefer a wider variety of dishes on the menu. Also the service could've been better. The waitress in charge of our table seems miles away most of the time. And maybe she's an overseas student working part-time, I was having a hard time trying to understand what she was saying! That said, I hope to see improvements in the service 'coz I'm oredi planning to return for a lunch!
Halia restaurant is located next to the National Orchid gardens, Singapore Botanic Gardens. Besides lunch and dinner, they also provide Traditional English Tea from 3-5pm, from Monday-Saturday.

For reservations, please call 64766711.


Friday, March 07, 2008

A month of b'days!

Today is my DH's birthday. He's 40 this year! WOOHOO! Every time March comes ard, we're sure to put on an extra kg or 2.... reason being it's amonth of celebrations for us! Within the 4 of us in the family, 3 are march babies! and dear DS is a x'mas bb! LOL...

Well, unfortunately, my oven brokedown a couple of weeks ago, but wad's a b'day without a cake? so I did a chilled non-bake cheesecake for him instead.

I used canned lychees and blueberries for the cake. I hope this combo will be nice as I've not tried this b4! Canned lychees 'coz this is the only canned fruit I have in my pantry now. I'm now working at a new office, which made groceries shopping abit of a chore 'coz of the distance. So i had to make do with wadeva I have at home. But my guess is that it'll be nice... 'coz I was bz chomping down the extra lychees while making this cake! LOL. The blueberries are frozen ones which I always have a stash in my fridge. I stock up on blueberries whenever it's on sale at the local supermarts.

Now to the finished cake. I used a heart-shaped cake tin for the cake. The smart-aleck I am, I went to line the tin with a clingwrap as it'll make removing the cake a breeze. I was planning to line the side of the cake after it's set with the plastic liners to "beautify" it more... but then it occured to me that since the cake is heart-shaped, it'll be quite diffuclt to "bend" the liners to make it stick to the side... ok... maybe i worry too much, but in the end I decided to forgo the whole plastic liner thingy altogether.... well, this morning, I was thinking it thru and then had to slap myself for being so silly! I could've done the lining after I placed the clingwrap! that way, the sides will definately stick and I have a nicely finished cheesecake! Anyway, to cut the long story short, u can see from the pic that the cake has a very jagged and "folded" sides. *sob sob*

I'll leave u with the pics of the cake.... I love the red swills on the cake tho'... it's actually the 1st time i attempt to decorate the cake this way... just try it out after seeing how it was done on tv, and it turned out pretty well, except that the heart is kinda loop-sided!