Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Yule Log Cake

Wishing all a Very Merry Christmas! Here's my first attempt at baking a Christmas Yule Log Cake! :) Baked the cake yesterday complete with the frosting and just added the decorations this morning. Going to bring the cake to Jerome's brother's home for dinner this evening. I had great fun making making the cake. I just hope it'll taste good too!

My first Christmas Yule Log Cake

Classic Chocolate Swiss roll with chocolate cream filling and chocolate butter cream frosting.
Cake board is covered by royal icing and a layer of icing powder to resemble snow.
Trees are made from melted white chocolate, tinted with apple green.
Snowman, snowflakes & mushrooms are made from gum paste.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Castella (Katsutera) Cake- Japanese Honey Sponge Cake

After baking 4 cheesecakes in 2 weeks, I've decided to surf around for something else to bake. Finally, stumbled into The Little Teochew and saw her incredible pictures of an velvety smooth Castella Cake that I knew I have to try baking.  I don't think I've eaten a Castella Cake before, so let's just do it!  The recipe was taken from Just Hungry

What was special about the recipe was that there was no butter or oil in the ingredients list. This is the first time I've baked a cake without them. Just eggs, sugar, honey, milk and flour. Little Teochew/ Jo used bread flour while Just Hungry provided an option to use all-purpose flour or bread flour. I have my own reserves about using bread flour for baking cake, worried that the end product may be very tough. Jo had to steam her cake to soften it. Hence, I've decided to use all-purpose flour, hoping to get a soft cake. 

A slice of Castella Cake
Not so smooth with lots of pores but at least it tastes much better than it looks.
The light was extremely light & spongy with the sweet fragrance of honey. Hmm....
Not very nicely cut too although I've used my sharpest knife :P
Wonder how some people manage to cut their cakes so professionally???
I imagine myself sitting in front of a cake, with my whole collection of knives, trying to perfect my cut...
I think I'm getting fixated at cutting cakes!

Whisking eggs and sugar over a pot of hot water.
This is another unique requirement for baking the Castella Cake.
I have halved the recipe, using only 4 eggs instead of 8.

The batter almost filled my loaf tin to the top.
 I was worried about the batter overflowing during baking but Just Hungry said fill it to the top. 
So keeping my fingers crossed... 

Looking not too bad after baking...
The holes were made from the skewer to test for 'doneness'
Although I've made a smaller cake, I still require the same amount of baking time.

After getting the cake out of the oven, I brushed some honey glaze (honey mixed with some hot water) over the top and the top of the cake started to sink in! I quickly placed the cake back into the oven, hoping to rescue it. After it cooled down a little in the oven, I used cling-wrap to cover up the cake and put the entire cake + tin into the fridge to cool it totally. This step was important according to Just Hungry as it helps to keep the cake moist. 

Well, I just had some slices of cake for breakfast and they're cool, soft & moist. I didn't have to steam it to make it any softer. But I still hope I can achieve the look of Jo's version of velvety cake with micro pores someday. But for now, I still get to enjoy my version of the cake. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Shokudo- Streets of Japan

We had just returned from our Bangkok trip and Jerome decided to take a day off trading in the forex market since the market was quite 'dead' anyway. So, we decided to take the MRT to Orchard instead of driving there. Jerome & I seldom visit Orchard as Jerome hates crowded places. We've yet to visit the 'new' Orchard Ion together. Think the last time we walked along the Orchard Road and did some shopping was in Dec 2006 when we stayed at Grand Hyatt for our wedding!

We alighted at Somerset Station and explored new Somerset 313 for a while before heading out. We're like 2 'mountain tortoises' :P, discovering a whole new Orchard Road. It has changed so much! New shopping malls seemed to have mushroomed all over the place. We tried to recall the buildings that stood in the same place. We were amazed by the rate of change.

We wondered around for a while looking for a place for lunch, eventually ending up at the basement of Heeren and found Shokudo-Streets of Japan where Marche once stood. It was our first visit. Just like Marche, we were each given a card where we need to record our purchases from the different stalls before paying at the cashier upon leaving. It's quite an interesting & nice place for gathering with friends, good to dine & enjoy a few hours catching up with friends. Jerome & I were there just to get a quick lunch. I like it that there are not that many people around.

Wilton's Cake Leveler

This is the Wilton's Cake Leveler that I bought ((below $10) from Phoon Huat. I used it mainly to help me cut the cakes horizontally before sandwiching them with cream. The stainless steel string is adjustable in height. There are markings on the 'legs' so that you can adjust the string accordingly. I find that cutting the cake is a breeze using this simple tool. Just place the cake on a leveled surface and place the leveler on the table and guide the tool and hence the string through the cake to get a straight & even cut. Minimal crumbs, especially if you allow the cake to chill in the fridge first. I've also discovered a new use for this- cutting up cheesecakes!

Wilton's Cake Leveler Tool

Markings on the legs to adjust the height of the string

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baked Cheesecake Recipe

This cheesecake reminds me of my all-time favourite Coffee Bean's Chicago Cheesecake that melt-in-the-mouth. without the base though. I actually like the crispy biscuit base but Jerome doesn't. Anyway, I'll be baking this cheesecake often :)

(adapted from Patsie Cheong's)

Makes 1  7-inch round cake


250g cream cheese, at room temperature
4 egg yolks
1 lemon rind
4 tbsp/ 60ml milk

(B) Sift
40g all purpose flour
40g cornflour

(C) Whisk 
4 egg whites
150g castor sugar
(Tip: Eggs are easier to be separated when it's fridge cold but are easier to whisk & beat when at room temperature. So separate the eggs first and allow to come to room's temperature.)

1) Beat the cream cheese till smooth & creamy with an electric mixer. Add egg yolk, 1 at a time and beat till well incorporated. Add the lemon rind and mix well. Slowly stir in the milk last. Mix well.
(Tip: If cheese is cold, the batter will be lumpy. So remove the cream cheese from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.)
2) Fold in the flour mixture (B) in 2 additions. Mix well and set aside.
3) In a grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites till frothy. Add in sugar gradually and continue whisking till white & glossy.
(Tip: For proper whisking of egg whites, make sure that the bowl & whisk is free from grease & egg yolks. 
4) Fold in the whipped egg white into the cream mixture, half at a time, till well mixed.
5) Pour batter into a lightly-greased 7-inch cake tin with a removeable base (eg springform tin) so that the cake can be easily removed when it's cooled. 
6) 'Waterproof' the tin with aluminium foil as the cheesecake requires baking in a water-bath. Wrap aluminium foil properly over the base and edge of the cake tin to prevent water from seeping through the removeable base. 
7) Place the cake tin into another bigger tray and pour water to 1-2 inches in height. This is baking in a water-bath, helping the cheesecake to bake evenly without cracking. 
8) Bake in a pre-heat oven of 140dc for 45 minutes and 180dc for another 15 mins (depending on your oven, you may need to adjust your temperature and baking time). The skewer that pass through the centre of the cake will be slightly moist with some crumbs. It's okay. The residual heat will continue to bake the cake and after refrigeration and firming up, it'll be just right.
9) Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool in the oven for an hour before removing it for further cooling on a cooling rack.
10) Remove the cake gently from the tin once it's completely cool. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
(Tip: I use an air-tight Lock & Lock plastic container to keep the cake so that it will not absorb other odors and the cake will stay moist and not dry out. ) 
Finally, enjoy your cheesecake :)

For more tips & trouble shooting on baking cheesecakes, you can refer to the following sources:
Baking Cheesecake Step By Step Step by step instructions.
Baking Perfect Cheesecakes Tips on baking that perfect cheesecake...
Slicing Cheesecakes After baking the nice cheesecake, you wouldn't want to destroy it by cutting it into a mess (which I did :P) So check this out. 

Baked Cheesecake II

Have been on a porridge diet since my surgery to remove my sinus traction infection. So decided to bake a mini cheesecake on Saturday since I'm stuck at home while Jerome was out fixing his boat at the clubhouse. It is the softest cake I can think of that melts in the mouth and there's no need for chewing. A cheesecake definitely sounds divine from the porridge that I think I'm getting sick of.

Then on Sunday, when my family (parents & sisters) came over to our place, I offered them some cheesecake. Only my youngest sis, Si Ling, wanted to try. In the end, she had all the 3 slices left, saying that it's very yummy :)

So today, I decided to bake 1 bigger 7-inch cake and got her to come & collect the cake after her school.

Cooled Cheesecake

After baking & cooling the cake, I decided that I should cut it up as well. I always have problems cutting cheesecakes.The cheesecake is so soft and moist and loves to stick to the knife and there's always a huge mess  and crumbs involved. I read from on tips about getting clean cuts for cheesecakes. It suggested soaking the knife in hot water before wiping it dry to cut the cake. This soaking in warm water and drying process is to be repeated for every cut. I tried this to cut the cake in half but it just didn't work for me. I've got a huge (yummy) cheesy knife in my hands.

It's always a mess cutting cheesecakes...

So I decided to try using my Wilton's Cake leveler, it's like cutting a cake with a steel wire. (There are people who use dental floss to cut their cheesecake.) Although it's still far from the perfect clean baker's cut, but the crumbs are minimised.

I think I spent about 10 minutes just figuring out how to cut this cake, trying to minimise the mess. I don't think I've managed to achieve much.

3 slices kept for us...

I've managed to keep 3 slices for Jerome & myself for tea tomorrow. How can I resist a slice of perfect cheesecake? Eating the crumbs from the knife, I'm reminded of Coffee Bean's Chicago Cheesecake that got me into loving cheesecakes in the first place :) It's still my favourite cheesecake after all these years.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eating in Bangkok, Thailand

Just returned from a 5 days trip to Bangkok with Jerome. It was my first visit there and there was so much to see, eat & shop!

Food stalls like these line the streets almost everywhere. Just buy and eat as you walk. I found that it was difficult to keep my head straight as we walked. There's the tendency to constantly look left & right to look at what the different stalls have to offer.

I tried this sweet & crispy pancakes. 10 pieces in a pack for 20Bht. Quite nice :)

There are also street stalls with tables and chairs.

Take the front seats and see how your food is prepared.

Grilled fish covered with salt with the mouth stuff with lemon grass & pandan leaf at a street stall.

Alfresco dining on the pavements...

Meat on Skewers for grilling at a street stall

'Half-hatched' Eggs?

Food on Wheels- rice & dishes at the back of a pick-up truck

A canteen hidden in one of the small lanes

Bee Hoon Soup, Thai Style
 the noodles are quite different (nice) and the soup was tasty.

Banana Leaf Restaurant in Silom serving nice authentic Thai food. (We also have the famous Banana Leaf Indian Restaurant at Little India in Singapore serving Curry Fish Head.) This restaurant was recommended by a local.

Thai Style Spring Rolls with lots of garlic, but yummy.

Was a little disappointed that the Pineapple Fried Rice was not served in a pineapple.

Tom Yum Goong, a spicy & sour seafood soup. Yummy! I can't get enough of this.

Thai Papaya Salad, most appetizing.

Crispy Deep-fried fish with Sweet Chilli Sauce...
The meal costs us about 800Bht. A great meal that doesn't cost a bomb!

A small stall at Chatuchak Weekend Market where we had our lunch.

Reminds me of the local 'zi char' stall...

Stir fry flat rice noodles in thick gravy, just like 'hor fan'.
 Jerome says the noodles tasted much better here. I think he's just hungry :P

I ordered Pad Thai, Thai's favourite stir-fry thin rice noodles. Yummy!

Thai Teh Tarik and the Prata man.
 'Tarik' is a Malay word meaning 'pull'.
We just looveee the Thai Ice-Tea there!

A stall selling coconuts?

Refreshing Coconut Ice-cream served in a coconut shell! Great for the warm weather!
The combination with the crunchy roasted peanuts on the top and fresh coconut flesh at the bottom is just perfect... I'm missing it now.

Grilled Squids at a street stall

Sausage balls

Toasted Bread with Sugar and Butter Spread & Thai Ice-Tea
reminds me of Ya Kun in Singapore :)

BBQ seafood on boat at a small floating market, Da Ling Chan

'Bee Pang' to be cooled before packing into bags (1 packet 20Bht)
These are great tasting snacks, crunchy, sweet & sour
 I can finish a pack easily on my own :P
Regretted not buying more

Frying Pad Thai on a boat
It must be very hot to be sitting so near to the heat...

Sitting on stools, dining at the low tables

Food Hall at Siam Paragon
We had to purchase a stored value card before buying food, remaining value is redeemable.
They even provide tissue & toothpicks. We should have these in Singapore too!

Thai Style Noodle Soup

Thai Style Wantan Mee
Noodle are very fine but Singapore's version taste better :P

Pad Thai Again :)

Yummy Fried Oysters with Eggs on Hotplate

A coffee-shop that's not so commonly found

Bee Hoon Soup

And finally before our flight back to Singapore, we just got to have Pad Thai again :P

But this time we tried having 'tang hoon' instead of the thin flat rice noodles...
Well, the original thin flat noodles still taste better!

And of course, we had the Thai Ice-Tea too! :)

Wonder when I'm returning for another trip to eat & shop...

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