27 December 2011

Christmas Cupcakes 2011

merry christmas, everyone!!

Hope everyone had a jolly good time this holiday season!

This year, I baked, frosted and decorated close to 300 cupcakes. 
Here are some photos. Will post the recipes when I find more time. 
Meanwhile, hope these give some ideas and inspiration for your own cupcake creations. 

20 November 2011

November 2011 POP (Pig-out Party)

It's always nice meeting up with people who share the same passion as you.
With every gathering, we meet new people and catch up with 'old' friends.
What's even better about food blogger gatherings is that there's always an abundance of food. And it's not just quantity... it's QUALITY as well!

Thanks to Bakertan for organising this session.
It was a lovely afternoon and I look forward to more get-togethers in future :)

Enough words, let's look at the food pics  :)

<click on the pics to go to the blogger's page>

passionate about baking

passionate about baking

busy gran

baking library


baking on cloud 9

tested & tasted

tested & tasted

yummy bakes

honey bee sweets

honey bee sweets

busy gran

baking library

and this was my contribution to the party...

Thanks for the awesome food and lovely company, ladies and gent :)

lovely gifts from a lovely friend

It's always a nice feeling to receive gifts.
And when it's least expected from a dear friend, it makes it even more heart-warming.

I'm sure many of you have heard of Donna Hay and seen the lovely items from her store. If you're lucky enough, you may even have had the chance to visit the store down under. For me, for now, I can only lust over the pretty things from my laptop...

Knowing how crazy passionate I am about baking, my dear friend who was back briefly from Australia, got me some goodies from Donna Hay.

When she passed me the gift, I could not believe what I saw...
It was a Donna Hay gift bag!!!  The gorgeous deep brown bag with a perfectly matched pretty blue ribbon. 

What did she get for me?
Oh, anything from Donna Hay would make me smile :)

A pair of pretty blue pot holders that double up as mittens!
How cool!

And... and... that's not all...
She got me those signature DH cupcake papers as well!!

Oh, I can't wait to use them!  So very pretty!
Yet, at the same time, I can't bear to use them, cos they are just so gorgeous.
They'll be saved for special occasions :)

Thank you so so much for these lovely thoughtful gifts, Sandra :)
And congratulations to you!!  *wink*

11 November 2011

Nutella Cupcakes

For Nutella lovers, what could be better than a Nutella cupcake?

I've bookmarked this recipe from Tartelette's beautiful blog for a while.
The enticing deep brown chocolate cake, top with an equally decadent Nutella & cream cheese frosting...
Tell me you are not seduced.

So what happened to mine?
Although they turned out looking decent, it wasn't as deep brown as Tartelette's.
And she must have used a different type of rice flour from me, for mine turned out very very crumbly. And I mean VERY VERY crumbly. (I used 100g rice flour and 100g plain flour.)

I could only blame it on the rice flour I used.
Perhaps I'll try this again with all plain flour.
Or I might just stick with my trusty cupcake recipe and experiment with adding as much Nutella as possible.

For a Nutella lover, I also felt that there wasn't enough Nutella kick in this recipe.
So I'm gonna push the limit next round and add as much Nutella as the batter can handle.

So here it is... Nutella Cupcakes recipe found on Tartelette's blog.
If any of you give this a shot and succeed, do let me know. Maybe I missed an ingredient somewhere...

Makes 12 cupcakes.

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (110gr) honey or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground coffee
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup Nutella
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (100 gr) superfine sweet rice flour
1/4 cup (50 gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (50 gr) cornstarch (or use tapioca flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
Use 200gr all purpose flour to replace the sweet rice and millet flours and the corn starch if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place 12 muffin liners inside a muffin pan and lightly brush with melted butter (or cooking spray).
In an electric mixer, whip the butter and honey until fluffy at medium speed, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the coffee, milk and Nutella. Still on low, add the eggs, one at time and scraping the bowl after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and slowly fold this in with the butter - Nutella mixture until the mixture is smooth. Divide evenly among the muffin liners and bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting or enjoy warm without.

08 November 2011

Mini Tomato Bacon Quiche

How many of you follow Pioneer Woman's blog?

I like her nonchalent style and her detailed step-by-step photos, which are also gorgeous to look at.

Sometimes, when I'm lazy - which is most times - I just scroll down her post, glance at the pictures and I sorta get what she's doing. I'd like to do that for my blog, but I get lazy...

Why am I talking about Pioneer Woman?
Cos I used a crust recipe found on her blog for this quiche. 

"This is my go-to recipe for a flaky, beautiful two crust pie," says Pioneer Woman. 
Sounds good doesn't it?  
YYflaky, crumbly crusts. 
So I thought I'd use this recipe together with my new set of 4" mini tart pans. 

Makes four 4" (10cm) crusts.

120g plain flour
1/3 tsp salt
50g butter, very cold
17g shortening
10ml cold water

Measure the flour and salt into your food processor.
Pulse to evenly combine the ingredients.
Add the butter and shortening and pulse till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. 
Add the cold water and pulse till the mixture comes together slightly.
Pour onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times till a dough comes together.

If you are working in a cold kitchen (lucky you!) and the dough feels firm enough to roll, go ahead. 
Otherwise, if your kitchen is hot and humid like mine, pop the dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes or so till it firms up.

But, again, I got lazy (and hungry) and couldn't wait for more than 5 minutes, so I improvised and just pressed the dough into the tart pans.  This, I discovered, was much easier than trying to roll out the soft, floppy dough. 

Prick the dough with a fork (so they don't balloon in the oven).
Place pie weights into the pan (optional). 
Bake at 180*C for about 8-10 min, then carefully remove pie weights and bake the shells for another 5 min.  
While waiting for the shells to cool, prepare the filling.

Makes four 4" (10cm) quiches.

2 rashes bacon (or ham), chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup peas
some finely diced onions
60g of your favourite cheese, grated or finely diced (I used cheddar, but parmesan, swiss or even blue cheese will be fine)
some basil, sage and parsley (or any herb of your choice)

2 eggs
3/4 cup (180ml) milk
pinch of salt and pepper

Place the chopped bacon into a skillet and heat till the fat is rendered.
Add onions and cook till soft.
Add tomatoes and peas and cook till soft.
Season with herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon into quiche shells.
Sprinkle cheese on top.

In a measuring cup, stir the eggs, milk and salt/pepper to combine.
Pour into quiche shells till it reaches the brim.
Bake at 180*C for about 15 min.
Best served warm, with a side of rocket salad.

While I absolutely loved the flaky crumbly texture of the crust, I think a sturdier crust (perhaps one with egg) would have been more suitable for a quiche. However, for an egg tart or fruit tart, I think this crust recipe would have been perfect!

* * * * * * *

27 October 2011

Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

WARNING :: This is for serious chocoholics!!  

Hands up if you are a fan of lava cake!!

The first time I tried this, it was love at first bite. How could a chocoholic resist rich chocolate cake AND luscious velvety molten chocolate oozing out from the centre?

Absolute heaven!

It's good as it is on its own.
But even better with vanilla ice cream.
Although, my husband will say it's better with cookies 'n cream.

This decadent treat is the probably the easiest thing to bake!
Even easier than muffins.
No need to worry about batter deflating.
No need to worry if it's gonna rise or not.
Just mix everything up and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes!!

You can even make these in advance.
Or freeze it for future cravings.
I can't think of an easier and more versatile recipe, really.

Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
Makes 4 small cakes packed with intense chocolatey goodness.

140g dark chocolate (get the best quality you can find and afford)
80g butter
90g sugar
2 eggs
60g flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, butter and sugar.
When well combined, remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
Temper the eggs with a little of the chocolate mixture.
Then stir the eggs into the chocolate and mix well.
Add flour and mix well.

Divide the mixture among 4 greased ramekins.
Bake at 200*C for 10 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the mould for a few minutes before unmoulding.
(Best served warm.)

Now brace yourself for the full impact of C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E decadence!!

23 October 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes + Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Isn't that just a gorgeous photo?

Fortunately, the cupcake was made by me  :)
Unfortunately, the picture wasn't taken my me  :(

These first three gorgeous photos were taken by my talented friend - Chester Tan.
He's an artistic photographer. And an award-winning musician.

Check out his pictures, music and reviews of the latest gadgets from his blog.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12 small cupcakes.

180g flour
20g cocoa powder
140g sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
113g butter, softened
120ml milk
1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture till smooth and velvety.
Divide the batter equally among 12 cupcake cases.
Bake at 160*C for 12-15 min.
Remove cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes more than enough for 12 small cupcakes.

2 egg whites
90g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g butter, soft but still cold

Whisk egg whites and sugar bain marie (in a double boiler) till sugar is fully dissolved.
Remove from heat and whisk for about 10 min till peaks are stiff, thick and glossy.
At this point, the mixing bowl should be cool to the touch.

Change to the paddle attachment.
Add vanilla extract.
With the mixer at low to medium speed, add the butter by the tablespoon, ensuring that each addition is well incorporated before adding the next spoonful.
If the mixture curdles, don't panic. Continue adding the butter and beating the mixture on medium speed.
After a few minutes, the mixture will come together and become creamy and satiny.
Add colouring if desired and beat till evenly distributed.

Now you'll have soft, light, smooth and satiny frosting for your cupcakes!
And taste it... it's not as sweet as traditional buttercream. Tastes and feels more like a mousse - all thanks to the meringue.

For these cuppies, I used a 1M piping tip.

* * * * * * *

And now for my very amateur photos, taken in a hurry before dashing out of the house to pass these to my friend.  Chester, thank you for your friendship :)

15 October 2011

All Wrapped Up

3rd attempt at a fondant cake.

Settled on a simple design. Or so I thought.
It looks simple.
But sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do perfect, don't you agree.

First, I added too much water when microwaving the marshmallows. So I ended up with fondant that was too moist.

I made the bow and tail ends in advance, so it would have time to dry and set up. But when I was moving the bow, the tip of one of the tail ends broke.
Fortunately, I still have some leftover fondant in the same shade.

Now I have a profound appreciation of fondant cake decorators. Each element you see on the cake is made by the delicate hands of an artist.

Practice makes perfect.
And I'm determined to get those straight edges and sharp corners.

For the fun of it, since I had a little fondant left, I made a little flower.
My hubby calls it a purple chrysanthemum...

Till the next fondant project...

27 September 2011

Double Chocolate Macarons

A few days ago, my macs barely had any feet. They were so so tiny, you'd miss them if you didn't look hard enough. 

But this time, the feet were huge! 

Same recipe. 

That's macs for you. These fickle little addictive... things.  

Makes about 12 macarons (24 shells). 

30g almond powder
5g cocoa powder
55g icing sugar 
30g egg whites
15g caster sugar

Sift almond powder, cocoa powder and icing sugar to remove any clumps. 
In a mixing bowl, whisk egg whites till peaks are soft. 
Gradually add caster sugar and continue whisking till peaks are just stiff. 
Fold in dry ingredients in 2-3 batches till mixture is glossy and well combined. 

The mixture should be thick and sticky and flows slowly. When you run a knife through the mixture, the line should disappear in 10 seconds. If this happens, you have the right consistency. 
If the line doesn't disappear in 10 seconds, fold the mixture a few more times and test again.
If the line disappears too soon, it means the mixture is too thin or has been overmixed. Folding in more almond powder / icing sugar may help firm up the mixture.  

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a #11 tip.
Pipe 3cm circles onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. 
The peaks should fall into place and disappear in 10 seconds. 
If a little peak still shows, tap the bottom of the pan a few times. 
Now leave the piped shells to dry for about 30-60 min till a dull crust forms and is no longer tacky. (Touch the shells lightly with your finger. It should not stick to your finger. )

Bake at 140*C for 14-16 min. 
Remove from oven and cool completely on baking sheet before removing. 
If the bottom of the shell still seems wet and a lot of it sticks to the sheet, pop it back in the oven for another minute or so. 

When the shells have completely cooled, fill with melted dark chocolate or nutella. 
It will be hard to resist a bite, but if left to 'mature' in the fridge overnight, it will taste even better the next day. 

Good luck to those who are on the quest for the perfect mac!

There are many many different recipes out there. So which one is THE best?

My conclusion is that there isn't a fool-proof formula. 
Every baker is different and every oven is different. Even egg whites are different!

Your perfect recipe will be different from someone else's. 
This recipe may work for me today, and it may not on another day. 
It may work for me, but may not work for you. 
So if you are a mac fan, keep trying and don't give up. 
Practice makes perfect :)  
And don't forget... even the best bakers have off days. 

19 September 2011

French Baguette

The French Baguette must be the simplest bread recipe ever. 

Just 4 ingredients.

Flour. Yeast.  Salt.  Water.

It tastes great on its own. Or toasted with some butter. Or as bruschetta. Or with pâté. Or dipped in chicken curry. Or...

No wonder it's the most famous and most popular french bread.


260-280g bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
180ml warm water

Mix everything in a bowl till a dough forms.
Then, on a lightly floured silicone mat, knead the dough till smooth and elastic, about 20 min.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl to proof for at least 1 hour or till double in size.

Turn the dough out onto a silicone mat and roll it out to a rectangle.
Starting from one of the short ends, roll the dough like a swiss roll.
Pinch all edges to seal the dough then place it seam-side down.
With a sharp knife, slash a few diagonal lines across the top of the dough.

This is what the baguette looks like at this point:

Set aside for about 30-45 min till it doubles in size, and looks like this:

Bake at 220*C for 25-30 min till the crust is golden brown.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

For first-time baguette bakers, don't worry if the baguette is hard as a rock when it's first out of the oven. That's the way it should be. Once it has completely cooled, the crust will soften slightly to a crisp, crunchy crust, just like how a baguette should be.