Friday, May 31, 2013

Orange Ogura Cake






I would have prefer to call this the Orange Cotton Cake, cos the texture of this cake is really soft like cotton (almost fragile .... so scared that I will accidentally flatten it).  The cake is very light, airy and moist.  It is almost similar to chiffon.

First attempt on this cake, so I did my reading up on ogura cakes, from various bloggers to see if there are any important tips on making this cake.  A quick summary on this cake:

1) Many eggs used - 6 eggs (AA grade), for a mere 7" square cake. 
2) Similar method as making a chiffon cake, i.e. egg yolk batter and egg white prepared separately and combine using folding method.
3) Egg white should be whisked till peak, but not stiff peak (this really put your judgement skill to a test).
4) Steam bake in hot oven at 190C for 10 to 15 minutes, then reduce to a lower range of 140C to 160C for approximately 50 minutes.

Thanks to all the bloggers who have shared their valuable experience on making this cake!  


Recipe:
(makes one 7" or 8" square cake)

(A) 
5 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
45g corn oil
80g orange juice
2 tsp grated orange zest
Pinch of salt

(B): 75g superlite flour, top flour or plain flour, sifted

(C)
200g egg white (about 5 egg whites)
70g  fine sugar + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar


Method:
1) Whisk (A) together till frothy (except for the orange zest).  Add in (B) sifted flour, a little at a time and mix well into the batter.  If there are still lumps of flour in the batter, sieve to obtain a smooth batter.  Add in the orange zest and mix well.
[Note: At this stage, some bloggers advised to keep the prepared batter away from wind.  Not sure why this is important.  In any case, the weather is so hot now that there's hardly any breeze, so I just leave it aside while I whisk the egg whites]

2) Whisk (C) till peak.  Take 1/4 of egg white and fold into step 1.  Then fold in the rest of the egg white till well combined.  

3) Pour the batter into 7" square pan and gently tap the pan to level the batter and to remove large air bubbles trapped in the batter.
[Note:  Bottom of the pan must be lined (no need to grease).  But the sides?  Some bloggers lined the sides of the pan - obviously for easy removal of cake after baking.  Some did not line or grease the sides (not sure if they used loose-bottomed pan or ordinary pan).  I used a ordinary pan and only line the bottom (sides no line no grease).  After baking, the cake stick onto the sides and I need to run the blade of a knife along the sides to loosen the cake.  Next time, I shall line the sides to see if it works better for me]

4) Steam bake the cake at the lowest rack in preheated oven of 190C for 10 minutes, lower to 160C for another 10 minutes.  Finally, lower the temperature to 140C and bake for another 45 to 50 minutes.
[Note: Oven temperature is an area where you need to do a little trial & error adjustment, since each oven works differently]

5) Remove cake from oven and invert the cake onto rack to cool completely before cutting.


[Recipe mainly from 茄子]





Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Marshmallow Chocolate Brownies







When my girl was still in preschool, her birthday was celebrated in school with a homemade cake and goodies gift bags for her friends.  They have the luxury of time to celebrate and to enjoy the cake.  Now that she is in primary school, celebrating birthday in school is not so feasible with the short recess break.  I tried that last year and regretted!  The children had only 30 minutes to gather, sing a birthday song, gobble down the cake, grab a goodie bag just before the bell rings!  There is only one word to describe the scene - CHAOS.  I was so sad to see my painstakingly-created little house cake being "torn-apart" within minutes!  Having learnt my lesson, this year I make it much... much easier :) 






A simple, easy to bake chocolate brownie for the goodie bags.  These chocolate brownies are really easy to handle and they taste really good - moist and gooey!!  Since they are for little children, I thought the brownies look a little plain on its own, so I spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache on the brownies, before topping it with colourful mini marshmallows.  Gosh .... I thought this marshmallow brownie looks like Candy Crush too!





Ingredients:
(makes 25 squares, approximately 4cm x 4cm each)

200g dark chocolate
150g butter
4 medium-sized eggs (55g each) + a pinch of salt
150g fine sugar
100g plain flour + 40g cocoa powder (sift together)
2 to 3 cups of mini marshmallows
Chocolate gananche*

*I did not measure the specific amount.  Just need to stir some dark chocolate with a little hot cream till you have a thick spreading chocolatey consistency.


Method:

1) First, combine the dark chocolate and butter in a bowl.  Place the bowl over a pot of hot simmering water.  Stir the chocolate mixture till all the chocolate and butter have melted.  Leave the mixture to cool as you prepare the other steps.

2) Lightly grease and line a square pan (I used a 25cm x 25 cm pan).

3) Whisk the eggs, salt and sugar together till creamy and pale (about double its original volume).  Fold in the cool chocolate mixture to combine the eggs and the chocolate together.  Next, gently fold the combined sifted flour into the batter.

4) Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half the mini marshmallows (the other half reserved as toppings) over the batter.  Pour the remaining batter to cover the marshmallows.  You may need to use a spatula to spread the brownie batter to ensure even thickness.

5) Bake the brownie in a preheated oven of 180C for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool the brownie in the baking pan (do not remove immediately from pan or the brownie will break or crack).  Remove the brownie by lifting it up together with the lined baking paper.  

6) Spread the chocolate ganache on the brownie and sprinkle with the reserved mini marshmallows.  Lightly press the marshmallow onto the ganache and leave it to set for another hour at room temperature.  

7) Cut the brownies into 16 or 25 square pieces.


[Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food]






Within a short while, we have these delicious marshmallow and chocolate treats wrapped up in small goodie bags.











Monday, May 27, 2013

Birthday Party






We had a birthday party at home over the weekend.  As usual, planning and preparation started a few days back.  This year, I planned for an Asian-themed menu:


Main dish:  
Braised Pork Knuckle with Chinese leaf buns (kong bak pau)
Stir Fry Korean Sweet Potato Noodle
Malay Lontong (Mixed vegetable curry with rice cakes)

*********************

Side dish:
Kueh Pie Tee (Vegetable stew served in mini biscuit cups)
Prawn Toast
Nyonya Acar

*********************

Dessert:
Cheng Teng
Coconut Corn Pudding (not shown in pics)

*********************

Birthday cake - 2- tier Yam Mousse Cake








My favorite dish for the day is the braised pork knuckle.  The meat is tender, moist and juicy.  I cooked this with a slow cooker.  Very easy and almost fuss free.  Will share the recipe of this juicy braised pork knuckle in later posts.






My second favorite dish is the cheng teng.  A sweet dessert soup and the main ingredients used are:  dried longan, lotus seeds and snow fungus.  I love to add some dried orange peel (吉饼) and a teaspoon of osmanthus flower to this soup.





I prepared the Nyonya Acar a few days back to ensure the flavour is well developed.  The lontong was bought from a Malay foodstall.  






Along with the Asian food theme, the birthday cake is a 2-tier Yam Mousse Cake.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the decoration.  The vertical stripes on the cake were not well-piped.  I made a few mistakes.  First, I whisked in too many tiny air bubbles while mixing the colouring into the cream.  The cream is a little thick and could be better if I had added a little more milk to it.  





Looks aside, taste-wise, the cake is very soft and the yam mousse filling is really good.  







Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nyonya Acar







I'm in the midst of preparing an Asian-themed party this weekend.  As I was deciding which salad dish to add as a side-menu item, Acar came to my mind.  Acar is a spicy mixed vegetable pickle, very common in Malay and Peranakan cuisine.

This is my first attempt in making acar and I adapted the recipe from Kuali:

Ingredients:

    • 500g cucumber (I used one medium-sized cucumber),  removed seeds, cut into 4cm strips
    • 150g cabbage leaves, cut into 2.5cm squares
    • 150g carrots, cut into 4cm strips
    • 150g long beans, cut into 4cm strips
    • 200g cauliflower, cut into small pieces
    • 50g dried prawns, soaked and pounded
    • Added: Pineapple - cut into small chunks
    • (I did not measure exact weight, just eyeball to make sure that each portion of vegetables is about the same amount as the cucumber.  Taste is subjective, if you do not like long beans or cabbage, just replace it with more carrot strips or other suitable vegetables)
    Halved and cut into 4cm strips:
    • 3 red chillies
    • 3 green chillies
    Slice thinly:
    • 50g young ginger
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 3 shallots
    Grind together:
    • 10 fresh chillies (I used 6 only)
    • 5 dried chillies
    • 10 shallots
    • 5 cloves garlic
    • 2cm fresh turmeric root
    • 1 tbsp sliced galingale (lengkuas(That's blue ginger, one small piece)
    • 3 candlenuts (buah keras)
    • 2cm cube toasted belacan or 1 tsp belacan powder
    • 1 stalk lemon grass, sliced finely
    Vinegar mixture:
    • 100ml vinegar
    • 200ml water (I used 250ml and I find the marinade is not enough to cover all the pickle vegetables, next time increase to 400ml)
    • 5 to 6 tbsp sugar (I used 3 tbsp fine sugar and 1 tbsp brown sugar)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 100g roasted peanuts, skinned and pounded
    • 4 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
    For scalding vegetables:
    • 600ml water (I used 400ml water + 200ml vinegar.  Enough to scald the vegetables)
    • 400ml vinegar
    • 2 tbsp salt (I used 1.5 tbsp)
    • 2 tbsp sugar (I used 1.5 tbsp)



Unless you are making acar for many to share, this recipe yields quite a big portion (enough for a pot-luck party of 15 to 20 people, where it is taken as a small side-dish).  




Method:

1) Rub cucumber strips with 1 tbsp salt and leave aside for 30 minutes. Rinse with water and squeeze out excess liquid.

2) Rub pineapple chunks with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar.  Leave aside for 30 minutes and squeeze out excess liquid (next time I will omit this step, so that the marinade contains the natural pineapple juice from the pineapple).

3) Scalding vegetables:  Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to boil.  Blanch carrot, long beans, cabbage (one type at a time) for about 15 seconds, then drain away water.  Squeeze out excess water.

4) Place cucumber, carrot, long beans, cabbage (after above steps) in a large baking tray.  Sun for a few hours or I bake them in the oven at 80C (with fans on) for about 25 minutes [Note:  Not sure whether sunning or baking the vegetables is necessary (This is to remove excess water and makes the pickles crunchy).  But at Kuali, the vegetables were sun first, then blanched.   It seems a little strange for me, why sun the vegetables first (to dry up), and then get the vegetables wet again??(when blanched)].

5) Fry the grind chilli paste:  Heat about 4 tbsp oil in wok and fry the paste till fragrant and colour darkens.  Stir in vinegar and water.  Add sugar and salt and bring the mixture to a boil, then leave to cool completely.

6) Stir in the prepared vegetables and most of the crushed roasted peanuts/ sesame seeds (reserved some for garnish at serving) till well combined.  Store in porcelain jar/container (I keep in the fridge).  Allow time for the marinade, vegetables and flavours to combine together.  Serve the next day.


After marinating the acar for about 24 hours, I did a taste test.  The vegetables have fully absorbed the marinates, yet they retain the crunchiness.  I wish I had added more pineapples!  This recipe is not too spicy, certainly at "one chilli" level of spiciness.  Not too sour for me, but can increase the sugar to another tablespoon more next time and with  (after a few days, the acar is not as sour as on the first day of testing) more pineapples, I think it will taste even better!  


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Steamed Digestive Biscuit Coffee Cake







What is so special about this cake?  First, this cake is steamed, not baked.  And instead of using plain flour or cake flour, digestive biscuits is used for making this cake.  Huh?? Digestive biscuits for making cake??? Yes, you heard me right.

I first saw pictures of steamed biscuit cake over at my Facebook, where cream crackers is used instead of digestive biscuits.  Method of preparation is similar to making a butter cake, where you first need to cream the butter and sugar till fluffy, followed with the addition of whole eggs.  Finally, mix in the finely ground biscuits and the cake batter is ready for steaming (instead of baking).

For this steamed cake, I modified the recipe from my earlier Light and Spongy Chocolate Butter Cake.  This method uses the egg separation method for butter cake, i.e. eggs are first separated into yolks and whites.  The yolks are added to the butter mixture, while the egg whites are whisked till peak before folding into the final batter.  To create the layering effect, the cake batter is divided into 3 portions.  Add milo or cocoa powder (mixed with a little water to form a paste) to one portion to give a darker tone batter.  Then, the batter is steamed layer by layer, and alternate with the light and darker tone layers.

If you are like me, who have not heard of steamed biscuit cake before, you would probably want to know how's the texture and taste of this cake.  Thumbs up!  This cake is very fragrant and the texture is light and soft.  You will not taste any biscuit crumbs at all! (well.... unless you purposely leave big biscuit chunks in the batter).  If you love the flavour of digestive biscuits, this cake has it all!  I usually have my digestive biscuits with a cup of coffee, so I added a packet of 3-in-1 coffee mix into the cake batter.  How I love the coffee aroma in this cake!





Recipe
(7" or 8" square pan)

200g unsalted butter
70g fine sugar
5 yolks
50g plain yoghurt
250g digestive biscuits (finely grounded) - place in a clear plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 packet 3-in-1 coffee mix (20g)
4 whites + 30g fine sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp milo powder + 2 tbsp water (mix into a paste)


Method:
1) Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Finally, add in the plain yoghurt and mix in the grounded digestive biscuits, baking powder and coffee powder.

2) In another clean bowl, whisk the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar till peak.  Fold the whites into the cake batter till well combined.

3) Divide the batter into 3 equal portions.  Mix the milo paste (or you can use cocoa powder) into one portion to give a darker tone batter.

4) Pour one lighter tone batter into a greased and line cake pan.  Steam on high for about 12 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to ensure the first layer is done, before pouring in the second layer (the darker tone layer).  Steam for another 12 minutes and finally the third layer. 

5) Remove the cake from the steamer.  Flip over, remove greased paper and let the cake cool completely on  rack.

[This cake is inspired by the lovely photography at 鲸鱼]


I shall try this steamed cake again!  But, I would like to reduce the amount of butter used, and probably replaced it with more yoghurt.  While the digestive biscuit crumbs really add to the lovely aroma of this cake, I am thinking of using part flour and part biscuit crumbs.  Just my afterthoughts.  















Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Special: Mango Raspberry Tofu Cheesecake







Make this mango raspberry tofu cheesecake to celebrate Mother's Day.  This is a simple non-bake cheesecake.  The texture is very light, probably cos I have added silken tofu to it.  Nobody actually knew that there was tofu in this cheesecake till I told them.  They were surprised cos they could not taste any traces of tofu in it.  Instead, all they can taste is the nice combination of sweet and sourness, from the mango and raspberries.  Very refreshing, try it!





Serving size: 7" round cake

Base:  
7 piece digestive biscuits, crushed
50g melted butter

Filling:
150g cream cheese, bring to room temperature
150g silken tofu, lightly mashed
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp fine sugar
80ml canned longan syrup (or replace with milk and add 1 more tbsp sugar)
3.5 tsp gelatin powder + 4 tbsp water (dissolved)
1/2 cup raspberry compote *
1/2 cup mango puree #

Toppings:
1 to 2 Thai honey mango, peeled and cut into thin slices
Instant Jelly solution: 100ml water + 1 tsp sugar (optional) + 3/4 tsp instant jelly powder
[Note: Amount of instant jelly powder to use may vary with different brand.  To test whether the jelly powder used is sufficient, place a small stainless steel plate or bowl in the freezer for 5 mins.  Pour a teaspoon of prepared jelly solution onto the cold plate or bowl.  If the jelly firms up, it is ready to use.  If it is still watery, then add a little more jelly powder]


* About 100g frozen raspberries + 1 tbsp water + 2 tbsp sugar
[Cook together till raspberries soften and break down.  Cool completely before use]

# Blend fresh mango fruit and obtain 1/2 cup from it.





Method:
1) Combine crushed biscuits and melted butter.  Press the biscuit crumbs onto the base of a lined 7" loose-bottom round pan or 7" cake ring.  Freeze till hardened.

2) Combine cream cheese, lemon juice, fine sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat with a handheld mixer till you have a smooth batter.  Add in silken tofu and longan syrup.  Mix well.  Finally, add in the melted gelatin mixture.

3) Divide the cream cheese mixture into 2 equal portions.  Add raspberry compote and mango puree respectively to each portion.

4) Pour the raspberry cream cheese mixture onto the hardened biscuit base.  Place in freezer for about 15 minutes to set the layer.

5) Pour the mango cream cheese mixture over the raspberry layer.  Place in freezer for about 3 hours or till hardened.

6) Remove cheesecake from cake pan or ring.  Decorate the cake with mango slices.  Over here, I arranged the mango slices into a rose.  Start from the centre of the cake with the smallest slice of mango.  Carefully place mango slices (from small to big), slightly overlapping each other, to form the rose shape.  Place the cake back into fridge to keep the cake cold.

7) Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for instant jelly solution.  Bring to gentle boil or microwave it to dissolve the sugar and powder.  Cool the jelly solution slightly before brushing onto the mango rose.  The instant jelly should set immediately upon brushing onto the cold mango slices. Keep chill in fridge till ready to serve.

8) To serve, dip knife into hot water to cut the cheesecake into slices.  






Happy Mother's Day to all wonderful mothers!





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