Monday, December 21, 2009


It took me 2 attempts to get this one right. The first attempt, I carried out in great haste, shuffling between making the torrone and whipping up a potato salad for an office party. The potato salad turned out fine; the torrone, quite unsurprisingly on hindsight, failed miserably. Of course, it did not help that I did not have a candy thermometer and was left guessing after the needle on my meat thermometer burst its scale.

I went out to buy a candy thermometer the next day.

So round 2 was definitely more precise. I stirred patiently, waiting for the sugar/honey/water mixture to approach the appropriate temperature benchmarks, whipped the egg whites into stiff peaks and gently folded in the roasted nut mix. Not too difficult afterall. The torrone had set well.

Cleaning up though (removing the hardened candy mixture from my baking equipment) was quite a nightmare. I had intended to make several batches, but with all the hassle I gave up. So to those who would have received pistachio-almond torrone as a xmas gift, my apologies.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Meringue Snowman

You can feel it now, yuletide cheer fills the air. Christmas it nearing! We don't have snow here in sunny (well, not quite sunny these days given the flash floods) singapore, but who says we can't have some fun with snowmen.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Matcha Bread Rolls

I'm currently planning our vacay to Japan in april next year. Albeit early, its nonetheless mouth-watering. I can't wait to canvas the food streets and sample all the fare.

And it's delectfully queer how the Japanese are able to experiment with other cuisines, filter it through a local perspective and whip up Japanese versions to almost anything. From pizzas and pastas, to patisserie and even curry, japanized eats have left an indelible imprint on the world of gastronomy.

In the spirit of Nippon infusion, I attempt sesame-topped matcha bread rolls.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gruyère Gougère

The classic french cheese puff - Gougères.

Gougères are made from a thick paste called pate a choux (which translates to cabbage paste since its shape resembles small cabbage heads). The pastry for the pate a choux is one of the most simple and versatile; from this dough you can make cream puffs, eclairs and the french dessert, paris brest. With the addition of grated cheese, the dough transforms into savoury gougères. I used the swiss gruyère, but you can use any kind of hard, sharp cheese like mimolette or comté. Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, adding wonderful flavour to the gougère.

Now, all I need is a bowl of warm, hearty soup to eat with.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dobos Torte

For the longest time Jozsef C. Dobos, a well-known confectioner and the creator of this Hungarian delight, though traversing Europe and introducing this sponge and chocolate buttercream layered cake wherever he went, kept the recipe a secret. But come his retirement, Dobos gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, allowing everyone to use it freely. To date, there are countless variations of this recipe.

Baking this cake turned out easier than expected. Well, I cheated a little. Instead of baking the layers one at a time, I opted for a smaller sized cake, having only to bake 2 large sheets and subsequently dividing them into equal slices. The tedious bit though was having to spread all 12 layers with buttercream and finely chopped almonds.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tomato and Basil Ham on Oatmeal Raisin Bread

Baked this loaf of oatmeal & raisin bread 2 days ago with the last bit of rolled oats that's been sitting in my fridge. And since I've baked a similar one previously (see I wasn't planning to post an entry of this bread. But since Dennis took a pix of it, I might as well stick it here.

All set for a quick bite.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Swiss (Roll) Bliss

The swiss roll is no more swiss than an english muffin is english. In Austria, its called biskuitroulade. In France, the gâteau roulé and in Italy, biscotto arrotolato. In Spain, it bears the name brazo de gitano, meaning gypsy's arm, while closer to home in the Philippines, the pianono. In Switzerland, oddly enough, it isn't widely consumed.

The origins of the term swiss roll is unclear. But this much we know, the provenance of this light, fluffy cake hails from Central Europe and features as a traditional German, Hungarian and probably Austrian type of cake.

Most versions of the swiss roll are filled with either jam, buttercream or, as is most commonly found in asia, whipping cream. In Chile however, the swiss roll is slathered with a generous portion of manjar, a South American variant of dulce de leche.

I filled mine with homemade lemon curd.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do You Like Waffles?

Couple of months back I picked out for myself a kenwood multi-snacker. It comes with 3 different interchangeable plates - a sandwich toaster (one of those which seal the edges of your sandwich), a waffle iron and a raised-ribbed grill. It also opens flat, serving as a griddle. I must admit, it wasn't as much a purchase of necessity than one of indulgence. Insomuch as, it's been sitting in my store in passivity.

Today, roused by a waft of fresh waffles from the neighbour below, I finally decided to make my own. Boy, it could not have been any easier. All you need is flour, some salt and baking powder, butter, milk and eggs. Mix the dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ones, let the batter sit for a tad (while say you wash the dishes) and voila, the batter is ready.

Quite frankly, you don't need to a waffle iron, just use a frying pan and you'll get pancakes instead. Of course, the proponents will tell you that waffles have a much airier texture than pancakes as in waffle batter, the egg yolks are whipped separately from the whites. But seriously, does one need that much detail?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Chocolate Cake

It's Dennis' birthday in 2 days time and I've decided to bake him his all-time favourite chocolate cake. One thing he really dislikes is when I try to sneak in something fruity. Once it was mandarins, another time it was apricot, but most other times its whichever fruit is available in the fridge. The worst ones, or so Dennis claims, are those with tiny seeds like raspberry or passionfruit. He insists that they disrupt the consumption process and thus enjoyment of the cake.

Anyhow, this cake is meant for him, no raspberries, no strawberries, nor passionfruit, nor apricots, just chocolate and chocolate only. Well okay, its got a wee bit of coffee but I'm sure he'll fancy it more than the fruits.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spinach with Ricotta and Pecorino Cheese Bread

I usually find difficulty in sticking to recipes, but this time I went way off. What started off as an attempt to bake a loaf of raisin walnut wholemeal bread turned out to be spinach with ricotta and pecorino cheese instead.

It all began with me realising that I had run out of walnuts. Of all the nuts, I like walnuts the least, along with pecans of course, so I hardly keep stock of them. Raisins I have plenty. You can throw them into cakes, salads, bread or just have them as a snack.

Next, I realised that my packet of wholemeal flour was still unopened. I have too many half used bags of flour sitting in my cupboards. But it was the jar of leftover spinach with ricotta and pecorino cheese pasta sauce that did it. Not having a recipe for this bread though meant had to go blind, adding in the flour a handful at a time til the dough felt right.

I'm quite pleased with the result.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread

Yes, more bread. You see, ever since Dennis got me a KitchenAid, bread making no longer requires a colossal amount of work. Besides, I love eating bread, as does my dad, so the fresh loaves do disappear rather quickly I might say.

Next up, is a recipe adapted from an old edition of Delicious Days. The article also lists the numerous health benefits of eating oats, but I'm sure we're all aware or could google it up. Plus, I'm not in the mood to re-type it all.

The fun part about baking is that you can always improvise. I didn't have rolled oats, so I used muesli - thus the presence of raisins and sunflower seeds in my loaf. To which I think turned out for the better.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Zopf Backen

Zopf, or rather pronounced as "Tzopf" with the t, is a Swiss bread typically served on sundays for breakfast. It's also traditionally offered at New Year's and at meals marking the Emmentaler cheese harvest. Its form is its namesake - a braid. Zopf has a very slight tang due to the inclusion of sour cream, and since I had parma ham, air-flown (in my brother's suitcase) from Italy, I added some in too. I doubt the savoury addition is old-line, but what does it matter, I'm not Swiss.

There are many different ways to weave a zopf, but the more common methods are from either 2 or 4 pieces of dough. I took the easier route and went with 2 pieces.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I was wondering why the serving sizes on challah recipes had a minimum of 2. A number of convenience? Or perhaps its more economical to make 2 loaves at a go. Wrong.

According to Jewish tradition, Sabbath and holiday meals begin with a blessing over four loaves of bread (two Friday night and two Saturday afternoon). This "double loaf" commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40yrs after the Exodus from Egypt. Manna did not fall on the Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion fell before the Sabbath and holidays. Thus, the serving size of 2 is symbolic of this.

Unlike the brioche and other enriched european breads which contain butter or milk, challah is usually parve. Parve is a hebrew term that describes foods which do not contain dairy and/or meat. And if you do ask, yes, eggs go into making challah. But hey guess what, eggs are not dairy products - I just learnt that. So yeah, eggs are allowed in challah.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Petite Brioche a Tete

I set my internet homepage to, but really it's just a facade. I read all of one news article - currently its on the fiat/chrysler takeover, and my mind starts wandering. And as I wait for the online video on china's inflation data to load, I'm opening up another tab on the explorer window, googling for new recipes to try. This time a brioche recipe caught my eye.

Brioche is THE bread to which all rich breads are compared. At least 20% flour to butter ratio is used when making brioche, but normally 50% or higher is used making it decadent and devilishly delicious. According to Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, there are three versions of a basic brioche: rich man’s brioche, middle class brioche, and poor man’s brioche. Since butter is the most expensive ingredient in this bread, it stands to reason that the rich man’s brioche contains the most amount of butter.

There are several ways to make brioche but the cutest looking ones are petite brioche a tete, small fluted rolls with "heads". So excitedly, I run into the kitchen and pulled out my fluted moulds from the drawer. Some guy from Moody's had begun speaking on the inflation data, but by then my mind had entered a different world altogether.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bagelry Chronicles

I have a dream - To make the perfect bagel.
I plan to expend every bagel recipe, test ever possible variation there is til my bagels surpass satisfaction.

The last time I had these wonderful morsels of bread was during a work stint in NY 3 years ago. Since coming back to singapore, I've yet to find a bagel that comes anywhere near. I've received many well-meaning suggestions: various coffee and supermarket chains, bakeries in district 9,10, 11 etc. But none have matched up and so I somewhat forgot about them.

On my recent trip to US for my brother's graduation, I once again had the chance to eat them. Oh sweet bread! Okay, bagels aren't exactly sweet, just an expression. But I'll tell you what the perfect bagel is - Crispy on the outside, dense and chewy on the inside. The best bagels are so flavourful, you can eat them as is.

So here, I begin my quest for the perfect bagel. The recipe I used is adapted from I didn't have malt syrup, its not your average cold storage item and I wasn't about to add horlicks (yes, horlicks is a malted milk drink) into the flour mixture so honey had to do this time.

Verdict? dense and chewy. But the crisp isn't quite there yet. Think I really need to look for malt syrup too. could taste the honey on the outer layer. Was alright...but I think malt would have tasted better.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


"Strength is the ability of break a chocolate bar unto four pieces with your bare hands - and then just eat one piece." - Judith Viorst

If you asked me, I'd tell you that I'm not a fan of chocolate. Chocolate ice cream, chocolate bars, chocoate cakes, chocolate anything... I seldom have much trouble resisting them, save for the occasional moment when I'm craving something sweet and other saccharine delights are nowhere in sight. But I've been wanting to bake a chocolate cake of sorts for a while now, partly because Dennis is a huge fan and partly because, well...just because.

I found this recipe after pouring through pages and pages of cookbooks. Even scoured online for those with images, in hope that one would entice me but none seemed to call out... til I saw this one. Its appeal? Simple, no-frills, no over-the-top decorations. Just cake. I did sneak in some homemade apricot preserve between the two moist layers of chocolate cake though. It went well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ooo-ey Goo-ey Cinnamon Buns

I always wondered what would be the cleanest, tidiest, most courtly way to eat a cinnamon bun. Where do you start? How do you ensure you don't get the sticky, goo-ey glaze all over your fingers as you savour this sweet-tasting, ambrosial pastry? Should I attempt some form of orderliness? Perhaps, follow the twirl of the caramel-coated dough...?

But when it comes down to it, primeval triumphs polished. It doesn't matter, either way its lovely.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Macarons. Love 'em... or Hate 'em

The relationship I have with macarons is a love/hate one. Love them cos they're really oh so gorgeous to look at with their smooth dome tops and frilly "feet". But, they're also oh so annoying to make. Baking macarons is a task of acute detail and delayed gratification, definitely not a confection to try when in a lackadaisical mood. Yet, each time I feel an almost obligatory attraction towards baking the perfect macaron.

Well, this time it shall be lemon flavoured ones. I still have lemon curd left over from the earlier cheesecake session you see...why leave it to waste.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Carrot Cake... It's a Classic

Carrots are an old world food. If you ask a food historian, they'd tell you that sweet cakes such as this date back to the medival period, though it probably took the form of a pudding instead. You'd also find out that this was a cake that grew in popularity from its ability to fill a lack. Back then, sweetners were scarce and costly. Carrots which contain more sugar than any vegetable became the natural ingredient of choice.

I wonder who first decided to top it with cream cheese frosting though...Heavenly.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lemon Cheesecake

One of the joys of baking lemon cheesecake is in grating the lemon rind. I simply love the fresh, zesty fragrance it gives.
The more tedious part though is in making the lemon curd, having to stand over the stove, constantly whisking the mixture to ensure it doesn't curdle. But it even then, it lasts all but 10mins, and definitely worth every second of the effort once you've tasted homemade lemon curd. Traditionally, a old english spread for scones, lemon curd is used today to fill tarts, pies and triffles. And of course, to top cheesecakes. Its amazing how simple ingredients - eggs, sugar, lemons and butter, can bring about such a wonderful tart, yet sweet flavour.
For the base, I used ginger snaps. In most instances I would have gone for the usual McVities Digestives biscuits but a case of forgetfulness let me walk out of the supermarket without buying them. Well, good that it happened actually; I realised that I much prefer the added flavour from the snaps. Certainly adds dimension to the cheescake without being over-powering. I'm gonna be baking this version from now on.