Monday, November 2, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Had 2 of my secondary school friends & their families who came over for a visit on Saturday late afternoon. So I decided to take the opportunity to try out some new recipes. I was really ambitious & planned for the following to be on the 'Hi-Tea" menu - chocolate cake, baked cheesecake, macarons, egg tarts & durian puffs. Other than cheesecake, all the rest are new recipes to be tried out. I've learned 1 great lesson here - don't try so many new recipes together, espacially when you're expecting guests.

On Friday afternoon, I went to Phoon Huat to replenish my baking supplies. Friday evening, after dinner, I wanted to bake the cheesecake. When I took out the block of cheese, I realised that the cheese had turned mouldy where it was cut the last time I used it. So I had to throw it away... What a waste!

No cheesecake, so I decided to bake muffins instead. Afraid that it could be too sweet, I cut down the sugar from the original recipe. When Jerome tried one, he said that it's not sweet enough. Okay, so it means I better cover the muffins with something sweet. like chocolate ganache. So I went on to do just that...

As the muffins were baking in the oven, I already started on my macarons. I've not eaten macarons before but surfing through other food blogs, it seems like a lot of people are crazy over them. So I thought I could try making them. Armed with whatever knowledge I found on the net, I started on my 1st macaron attempt...
There was really a lot of uncertainty every step of the way. The recipe had called for 'almond flour' but when I went to Phoon Huat, the salesperson said they do not have almond flour, only ground almond. When I returned home & did another quick search on the net, I found out that almond flour = finely ground almond. So I've got the right ingredient afterall :) After a lot of mess & uncertainty, the macarons came out of the oven, looking quite okay... I tried to remove them from the perchment paper & only managed to remove the cap with the base sticking onto the paper. After taking great care, I finally got 1 to come out fully & nicely. When I popped it into my mouth, I was disappointed. The texture was kind of grainy & it tasted much too sweet! I would probably need to further process the ground almond till they're much finer. So it went without saying I can't serve them. So the whole batch went straight into the bin.. What a waste! I better get some macarons & eat them before making my next batch.

So Friday night before going to bed, I just managed to bake some not too fantastic muffins to be served to my friends whom I've not met for a long time...

Saturday morning, I woke up earlier so that I can baked! I still need chocolate cake, egg tarts & durian puffs!

Started off with  the chocolate cake. I have found the recipe from with a lot of positive reviews. I cut down the ingredients as I was baking a small cake. I poured the cake batter into a small rectangular cake tin & put int into the oven to do its magic. Halfway through baking, there was a very strong burning smell coming from the oven. I realised that the batter was already overflowing from the tin, landing on the heating elements in the oven, burning away! I had to quickly put another tray to catch all the falling batter... I knew I was going to have an impossible task of clearing up the charred batter at the bottom of the oven later on.

The recipe calls for baking for 30 minutes, but the batter was still very wobbly when the 30 minutes was up. So every 5 minutes or so, I had to look into the oven, take the cake out, do a skewer test to check whether it was done. In the end, I think the cake took an hour to be done! The cake came out with a crack on the top. So it means I can't just dust some icing sugar & serve it. I better cover it with some fresh cream & strawberries.

Messy Chocolate Cake with Fresh cream & Strawberries

After the cake cooled, I cut the cake in half & sandwiched it with freshcream & chopped strawberries. I then painstakingly spread the freshcream nicely over the cake, decorated it with fresh strawberries & put the cake into the fridge for it to be chilled. You probably can't tell from the picture above as it's already in a mess. I did not know what happened but the top half of the cake slided off the bottom half & I had to build the cake again... Fortunately, think I managed to save it from the earthquake to a certain extent.

The bottom slice of the cake seemed to have shrunk...

I guess the reason for the top half of the cake to topple must be the shrinked bottom. I'm pretty sure when I cut the cake, it was almost 2 equal halves. But the bottom seemed to have shrunk... Hmm.... I wonder why.

Now, back to the baking... As the chocolate cake was baking, I started making the dough for my egg tart mould. I started with a wrong step. The original recipes calls for mixing sugar & butter together first, then egg followed by flour.  I was so used to making shortcrust pastry using the 'cutting in' method for the chicken pies that I always make that I started rubbing in the butter into the flour & the sugar! Fortnately, despite the mistake, it still worked. Remembering the muffins that were not sweet enough, I decided to stick to the recipe. I also had to extend the baking time for the tarts. Fortunately, the egg tarts tasted quite alright. The crust was crispy & the egg custard was soft & nice. But I think it's a little on the sweeter side. I can cut down the sugar next time and mould them more nicely into the mould.

Baked Egg Tart

With some time left & some success with the egg tarts, I thought I could go ahead with the durian puffs. I've used the choux pastry recipe that I used for the chocolate cream puffs. After trying to pipe some of the pastry onto the baking tray, I realised that they're far too soft. So another batch of batter went into the bin...

So, minus the macarons & the durian cream puffs, I only managed to serve the muffins, chocolate cake & egg tarts. Hence, begin the first 'hi-tea' session @ Cookiss Place... Despite the series of unfortunate events in the kitchen, I'm glad for the company. And I think the food's not too bad afterall...

So who's coming for the next hi-tea session?


  1. Anonymous14 June, 2010

    i tried your egg tart recipe my dad said it was okay but the crust was too thick
    when i filled the custard in i could only put one tablespoon of it could you give us the exact thickness or estimated one thanks !!

  2. Hi,

    It certainly sounds like your crust was really thick as it only allows 1 tbsp of egg custard. I can only give a rough estimate for the thickness of the dough here - should be around 0.5cm/5mm. Hope that this is helpful :)


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