Simple Butter Cookies

I have been baking and blogging for almost a year plus now and I can't believe that I've never attempted butter cookies. It is the simplest dessert to be made with just butter, sugar, flour and egg. So what is stopping me? Well, I don't really like baking stuff that requires me to roll, cut etc.. I have no confidence in that. Example of rolling fondant, I can't seem to master them. My fondant end up cracked, too thin, color run etc.. *pull hair moment*

The test came when I need to prepare party packs for Zach's birthday celebration in school. Being a mummy, I dislike giving junk food as party goodies, so what is better than homemade goodness? A good friend bought me a cookie press that I have been keeping for months. Finally I can open them up and use it. Whoop whoop..

It was jiffy using the cookie press and the pattern turned out great!

As usual I Google-d on which recipe I want to use. The one that I referred to is simple and pretty. It is slightly different because she piped icing on top of the cookies which made them prettier.

Image from
With lazy me, I opted out of piping icing - I do not know how to pack them without smudging the icing. Haha..excuses excuses.

Using her recipe (see blog URL above), I used Isigny butter that I bulk purchased from a lady. Cookies turned out fragrant with good buttery taste! Exactly how I love my butter cookies. It made me happier to know that the decision to bake butter cookies is the right one because both my boys loves them very much that Zach kept asking for more - that's rare.

These were before sent to the oven

Banana Chocolate Cake

Baked this Chocolate Banana Cake for my boss using Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do you do when you have an opened pack of brown sugar, chocolate chips and sea salt? Knowing that my boys love cookies, I tried out the ever famous New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe was first published in the New York Times in 2008 and since then it has took the internet by storm. Many food bloggers that I read have tried out this recipe.

I took this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. I frequent her blog very very frequently. She has really beautiful pictures and her recipes are always very simple.

Note that I tweaked the original recipe as the amount of sugar is too much! I reduced it drastically and the cookies still turned out fine and still sweet in my opinion. I shall wait for Zachary's comment tonight. I prepared the dough on Saturday afternoon and baked it on Sunday night - more than 24 hours of chilling in the fridge. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 72 hours and I've read that chilling it longer will yield crispier edge cookies.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
yield more than 48 pieces

- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 oz) cake flour
- 1 2/3 cups (8.5 oz) bread flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I used fleur del sel)
- 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) light brown sugar (I used Muscovado Brown Sugar)
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (8 oz) granulated sugar (I omitted this)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/3 cups (20 oz) dark chocolate chips, at least 60% cacao content (I used Hershey's semi-sweet, and that is part of the reason why I omitted the granulated sugar)
- sea salt, for sprinkling

- Sift together cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar at medium speed until light. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Add in vanilla extract.
- Reduce the mixer speed, gradually add in the sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, up to 72 hours.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat.
- Scoop 3 1/2 oz of dough, roughly a size of a golf ball. * I used my small ice-cream scoop instead.
- Ensure that each dough has enough space as it will expand during baking time.
- Sprinkle some sea salt and bake until golden brown, approximately 18 to 20 minutes. I baked for 20 minutes and it was crunchy.
- Let it cool at a cooling rack and store in air tight containers.

Finally a well-tested recipe!

I have stopped blogging for few weeks but not gone for sure. I definitely did not stop baking.. that will never happen. From my last post, I was very very eager to have a good bread recipe that I can constantly fall back on. I have a few recipe books on bread and unfortunately they are all in Chinese. Don't ask me why I bought them all in Chinese but I love flipping the pages just looking at the lovely buns.
I plucked up the courage to explore one of the recipe from Carol's Second Book for Beginners and following Gene's step by step tutorial on how to shape buns, I made the buns and it was good! So good that I encored the recipe twice with different shaping techniques.
Yay!!! I am a happy because my boy loves it and we get to eat healthy home-made bread every morning.
Next up is to attempt to succeed in TZ bread/buns and then yogurt buns. :)

Bread (recipe from Carol's Second Book for Beginners)

270g bread flour
30g cake flour (this is the secret to soft bread)
30g sugar
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg (50g without shell)
30g butter
150ml milk

- Put in all the wet ingredients first; milk, egg (lightly beaten).
- Add in bread flour and cake flour (covering the wet ingredients) followed by sugar.
- Make a small hole in the flour and put in the yeast. Cover it with flour.
- Press the 'Dough' function and let the machine do the work. It took my BM250 1hr 30 minutes to finish the dough (including proofing time).
- Remove the dough from the BM, give it a few punches to release the air.
- Divide the dough equally into 50g - 60g and roll them into smooth ball.
- Cover with clingwrap or clean towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Shape accordingly. I sprayed my shaped buns with some water and then let it proof (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 170C. Before placing the buns into the oven, brush egg wash over them. Bake the buns for 12 - 15 minutes.
- Cool before storing them in airtight container. Buns will remain soft for up to 2 days.

The last bread that I made, I used my loaf pan and cover the top with a baking sheet (like Pullman tin) to make it a loaf. Teehee..make do with what I have at home.

Breads, breads and more breads

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ― James Beard

Truth to be told, I have failed countless time in bread making BUT I WILL NOT GIVE UP! Sometimes the result is good, sometimes using the same recipe it will be really really bad. When I say bad, it means really bad. Hard and taste weird. Is it too much to ask for a bread recipe that can yield soft-textured bread that can last 2 days, max?!?
I've tried tangzhong method - the dough turn out to be too sticky to be handled by hand so only loaf bread can be produced. Recently I am using a new bread recipe that uses bread flour with some cake flour. Surprisingly, the result was good. However, there could be problem with proofing because the bread turns out soft but taste weird. I could still taste yeast in them. Is it normal?
2 days ago, I tried a recipe from Carol's Book 1. Pretty similar to what I have been using but as usual with me, I added 30g of wholemeal flour that could be one of the factor my bread was super hard! Another factor was that the bread was done baking at 12am and I was very tired that night. I decided not to wait for them to cool down so I popped them right back to the oven, which is still hot and not cooled down yet. You've guessed it right..the bread came out hard as rock next morning! Regretted big time..give myself a kick at the back. Psshh..
Nevertheless, I will be trying again tonight. Am determine to succeed shaping buns.

Psst.. I have also recently read up on making sourdough bread. The need to cultivate my own started prompted me to start one last night. I can't wait to go back tonight to see if it is alive!

Deeply Dark Devil's Food Cake

I bought this book off Amazon some time ago and been flipping the pages on a daily basis, making mental bookmark on what I wanted to bake from this book. I have heard rave reviews on all Tish's cake and saw a few recipes that call for sour creams! That will be later.

Decided to go with a simple and quick chocolate cake so I chose Deeply Dark Devil's Food Cake as my maiden cake from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book! No regrets..the cake was extremely soft due to the amount of liquid used.

However, I made a boo boo when I converted the temperature wrongly and before I realise it, the cake 'exploded' on top. My heart sank and broke. I used my bought-long-time-never-used heart shaped pan for this cake. Ahh.. I shall attempt this cake again next time.

Note that the recipe below is for half portion as  the full recipe will yield a pretty tall cake - family of 2 adults and 2 kids cannot finish such big cake. =)

Deeply Dark Devil's Food Cake by Tish Boyle
(half recipe)

- 106g all-purpose flour*
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp of salt
- 78g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 150g sugar (I reduced it to 120g)
- 31g cocoa powder (I used Valrhona cocoa powder)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 160ml warm water

* I do not have all-purpose flour, so I substituted it with self-raising flour and I omitted baking powder and salt.

- Grease the bottom and side of your cake pan generously and dust with flour.
- Preheat oven to 325F or 160C.
- Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda together and whisk till well blended. Set aside.
- In a clean bowl, beat butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
- Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed until the mixture is pale and we; blended, about 3 minutes.
- Add cocoa powder and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Beat in the egg followed by vanilla extract.
- Turn your mixer to low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with warm water in two additions. That is flour, water, flour, water and flour.
- Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix at low speed for 30 seconds.
- Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
- Remove the side of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Let it cool completely.

Bon appetit!

Chocolate Durian Swissroll

Durian season is back! I am always the happiest when it is in season. I love love love durians..words cannot explain how I love the smell of this fruit lingering around the house. Haha..
Dad used to buy like half a dozen of durians for all of us to eat and we will skipped dinner just to have this fruit.
Durian prices in Singapore is very high.. Mao Shan Wang can go up to S$22/kg! Crazy..if that happens, I will buy D24, which imo is just as good and more filling too. Heh..
I bought extra durian and decided to make something out of it.. Always wanted to try swissroll and a friend recommended me this blog, Fatmum Baking, giving me a thumbs up for her chocolate swissroll recipe. Why not? Durian with chocolate. Ok..the combi sounds weird but hey my colleagues said it was really good.

Chocolate Durian Swissroll (swissroll adapted from Fatmum Baking)
- 20g cocoa powder
- 40g warm water
- 3 egg yolks
- 50g sugar
- 50g corn oil/canola oil
- 30g chocolate milk
- 75g cake flour
- 3 egg whites
- 65g sugar

Durian puree
- Durian flesh from the whole fruit

- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. I don't recall what is the size of my pan but it should be about 16" x 16".
- Preheat your oven to 190C.
- Mix (A) together to form chocolate paste.
- Whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale and fluffy. Add milk and oil. Mix well.
- Add in (A) to the egg yolk batter. Mix well.
- Add in flour and fold gently. Do not overmix.
- In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until frothy.
- Gradually add in sugar and beat until just before stiff peak is reached.
- Take 1/3 of the egg whites and mix into the chocolate egg yolk batter. Repeat for the next 1/3 of egg white.
- Fold in the remaining egg whites gently, careful not to deflate them.
- Carefully pour the batter into your baking sheet. Give it a few taps to remove air bubble.
- Bake for 12 - 15 minutes.
- Remove cake from tray immediately once it is out from the oven. Let it cool completely.
- Spread generous amount of durian puree on the cake. Using the parchment paper to assist, roll it up tightly. Keep the swissroll refrigerated.

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #33 (July 2013) - Tropical Spiky Month hosted by Charmaine of MiMi Bakery House.

Yuzu Chiffon Cake

Many of my colleagues visited Seoul, Korea this year. Everytime one of them announced that she is going Korea, I will ask them to help look for Yuzu jam. You see, there was a Yuzu or Honey Citron craze for the past months. Alot of posts on Yuzu cakes on blogs etc. Well, they couldn't find it in Korea. So one day when I was at Tampines One, I bought myself a super huge jar of concentrated Yuzu jam. Heh..but but but I did not start my project immediately. I waited and procrastinated.
Finally..I got bored and decided to stop procrastinating. After all, chiffon cake is pretty fast and simple to bake. Recipe is adapted from Kevin Chai's book (you can choose any chiffon recipe and tweak them accordingly).

Yuzu / Honey Citron Tea Chiffon Cake

Egg Batter
- 5 egg yolks (65g each)
- 55g yuzu tea mixture
- 80ml corn oil
- 80ml yuzu juice (I use 2 tsp of yuzu mixture and top up water to 80ml)
- 130g cake flour

- 5 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 75g caster sugar

- Preheat oven at 160C
- Whisk egg yolk and yuzu tea mixture until well combined
- Add in corn oil and yuzu juice. Mix well.
- Sift in cake flour. Mix till all flour combined. Put aside.
- In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy.
- Add in sugar gradually.
- Continue to beat until just before stiff peak.
- Take 1/3 of egg whites and mix well with yuzu batter (use whisk).
- Repeat the above step with remaining egg whites. Fold gently.
- Pour into a 20cm tube pan. Give it a few knock.
- Bake for 50 - 60 mins or until inserted skewer comes out clean.


Can you see how fine and soft the chiffon texture is? Awesome!!

Homemade Granola

I am a fan of frozen yoghurt and thankful that Red Mango is within my work vicinity. I had it almost twice a week and sometimes more frequent. They recently increased their price of the muesli. It used to be S$5 and now its S$5.80!! To add on, the portion of sides were much less. Felt rip-off at times when I am at my poorest week. Haha..I digress, to go with my yoghurt I must have mixed nuts and granola. Healthy healthy healthy. It set me thinking, why pay so much when I can make my own?

All the ingredients that I need for a yummy in my tummy granola.

Homemade Granola

2 cup of rolled oats
Fruits/ nuts of your choice
1 egg white 
1/2 cup of honey
Pinch of salt

- In a clean bowl, whisk egg white with salt until frothy.
- Add in honey and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into combination of rolled oats and mixed fruits and nuts. * If I were to do it again, I will not bake the fruits and nuts together because it actually dries them up. 
- Spread it evenly on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake it at 170 degree for 35 minutes or until it turns brown.
- Let it cool before breaking them into clusters. Store in airtight container up to a week.

Love it with Greek yoghurt and fresh fruits..

Korean Sesame Tapioca Mochi Bread

The Korean mochi bread was a craze months ago. I can still remember when we were all part of the Munch Ministry Facebook group, everyone was rushing to the Korean minimart to get a box of the premix. Not sure if this is the cause of islandwide out of stock scene for this premix! Haha...

I bought myself 2 boxes of the bread mix a month ago when I was at Tampines One for dinner. Only when we reached home, I knew each box comes with 2 packet of bread mix which means I now have 4 packets = 4x to bake this. Zzzz.. luckily each packet only yield 10 mochi bread and we can easily finish them between me, the husband and my youngest son who eat everything mummy bake or cook. ;)

Korean Sesame Tapioca Mochi Bread (yield 10 mochi bread)

- 1 packet of bread mix (250g each packet)
- 1 egg
- 90ml milk or water

- In a bowl, lightly beat egg and add in milk.
- Put in a packet of premix.

- Mix well until dough is form and it no longer stick to your hand.
- Divide dough into portion of 40g each and shape into balls.
- Place them 2 inches apart on lined baking sheet.

- Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Before placing it into preheated oven, spray the top of the shaped dough with some water (the mochi will have a crispy top).
- Bake for 30 minutes.

This mochi bread is best eaten fresh from the oven. Heat it up lightly if you leave it to the following day.
My verdict of this: crispy on the outside, chewy inside.

You can add in filling of your choice; red bean paste or chocolate chips or even dried fruits like raisins or cranberries to give it a different twist.

Travelogue: Taiwan 2013

A belated entry on our holiday to Taiwan in April 2013. I make it a point to bring my parents for a holiday with the boys once a year. It's my way of making up to them for being so far away, depriving them of another daughter's love and their missed opportunities with their grandsons.
This year, we decided on Taiwan as my mom always wanted to visit this country but I am forever sceptical about it. I was in Taipei 2 years ago (2010) on business trip and I never enjoy the food nor the overall place. Maybe it was just me missing Zachary badly or I am not a fan of deep fried food. I put all the negative thoughts aside and made plans. It wasn't easy as most of the people in Taiwan speak and write in Chinese and me being a non-Chinese in the writing aspect manages all these single-handedly should get a pat on the back. Hehe..
We engaged a private driver and he is good..keeping to our itinerary, bringing us to some places for good food and good spots of photo-taking.
Places that we visited in Taiwan: Tai Chung > Alishan > CingJing > Taipei. We covered these areas within 8 days and it was very relaxing. Weather was crazily cold during the entire trip and I am glad the boys went prepared! :)

I shall let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!!