My Top 3 cakes of 2014

So uh… happy new year?

I can’t believe how fast the year was gone. I intended to blog more, but seems this is going to be an annual occurrence!

But I’m still baking when I can, and for special occasions.

First up, and I still can’t believe I did that was this:

YingWedCake2 Yup, it was a humungous cake… for Sugamama’s garden wedding. It was a chocolate cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream icing, decorated with some of the flowers that were for displays at the wedding table hahaha!

YingWedCakeHere’s the piece on the final display. Sugamama’s husband just took up a chainsaw and cut a piece of log to go with the rustic back garden wedding look!

Thanks to a bunch of people who lent a help in making this cake in less than 24 hours (yeah last minute decision to make a wedding cake), especially Serena who stayed up till 3am with me to make this cake. I’d say a pretty crazy but good job given that we didn’t have much tools to use and we started at about 4 pm eve of the wedding.

The wedding was awesome. On a lovely Canada summer’s day… but bad for the cake as it started to melt a little by the time it was served hehe.

Second cake I loved was this birthday cake I made for Papa Salvatore:
PaCakeA red wine chocolate cake with mascarpone cream and greek yoghurt icing, topped with sour cherries… almost a (boozy) take of a black forest, someone said.

I love the taste and I think Papa Salvatore does too.

Third cake that really made my 2014:

ShaCakeA birthday cake for a very close friend. This was my first chocolate and orange (and heck a lot of grand marnier) cake. I used cadbury’s chocolate fingers as part of the deco too and upped the chocolate dose haha! Icing a a lovely orange swiss meringue buttercream.

That’s all for now. Hope 2015 I’ll have more cakes to come. For now, I’m all caked out especially after that 3 tier wedding cake.

-M

A Belated Holiday Greeting

Hi!

A little late, but December 2013 was a busy month!

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We celebrated two birthdays… I made this cake for the two lovely ladies, Pinkydoodles and S.

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Then it was Winter Solstice Festival. We made tang yuan for with K and her family. I think her 3 year old had a good time making this 🙂

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Then it was Christmas! Our tree this time includes chocolates, candy canes and home made gingerbread men.

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Saw Borobudur for the first time on Boxing Day in Indonesia…

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Cream puffs for New Year’s Celebration by EggTart. Recipe soon!

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All and all, a good year for us! We hope this year will be better and full of fun with our love ones!

A happy new year to all!

-M.

Entomophagy

Will you consider eating this?

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In my life up to now, I have tried two types of insect larvae. One is this stir-fried grub in the above pic. It is a larvae of a hornet. It is a real delicacy from where I’m from. When I tried it, I hated the taste. I can’t even describe that sensation other than it was like a membrane capsule with smoky tasting pus inside. Bleh.

This second one, back when I visited Sarawak earlier this year, I like.

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Sago worm (the larvae of a type of palm weevil). Roasted, then mixed with stir-fried onions and chilli. These were like bean curd with roasted sago flavour. Nice.

To be honest, both dishes took me ages to try out because of the yuck factor that comes with creepy crawlies. But it is definitely worth a taste.

My main concern about eating insects though is the source. I hope when harvesting these insects they were very low or free of pesticides.

What do you think? Can this be your alternative protein source?

-M.

Recipe: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

When life gives you lemons… make lemon curd and then use that to make lemon meringue pie. Or cupcakes.

It has been a while that I wanted to try making this cupcake, since I saw Eric Lanlard on TV baking these.

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It was rather easy. Just a standard cupcake batter. Nothing fancy.

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Add a dollop of lemon curd. Then cover with a bit more batter.

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Baked!

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Pipe lovely meringue on top. Eric Lanlard’s recipe used Italian meringue. My candy thermometer is broken, so I made Swiss meringue. It is less of a hassle for me too.

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The tricky bit is to then brown the meringue nicely. I used a grill, then decided to blowtorch it… oops.

Here’s the recipe.

Lemon meringue cupcakes (from Eric Lanlard’s recipe)

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out using a sharp knife (or you can just use a bit of vanilla extract)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 75g caster sugar

For the lemon curd and how to make it click on the link here.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. For the cupcakes, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together in a large mixing bowl until pale, fluffy and well combined. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until both are fully incorporated into the mixture.
  3. Place a couple of teaspoons of batter in the bottom of each case, add a teaspoonful of lemon curd then cover with a little more mixture.
  4. Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the centre.
  5. For the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a clean bowl over gently heated water until sugar has dissolved and mixture is foamy. Check that the egg mixture is warm to the touch and take the bowl off the heated water. Whisk vigorously until the meringue mixture is thick and glossy and has cooled down.
  6. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe some meringue on the top of each cake. Using a blowtorch, lightly brown the top of each cake to toast the meringue. If you have a crappy blowtorch like mine, just use the oven grill.

Happy weekend.

-M.

Martini Pau Nge-nge

A nice Martini over the weekend is always a good thing.

My version of a martini: A good quality gin with a tiny bit of vermouth. No olive/onion, but a pickled young mango. Our dear Mumakil pickled the mangoes from the garden back home in Kelantan. We call the pickled mango “pau nge-nge”. It’s a lovely refreshing aperitif.

Try it. Have a good weekend ;).

-M

MartiniNge

Mocha macarons

Oh how difficult was it to get macarons right? Very! Especially if you live in a humid, hot, tropical country.

But somehow, the more you try, you will eventually get it. Oh and what a happy sight indeed when my macarons look somewhat like macarons. Crispy thin shells, yet chewy…

mocha macarons
The thing about macarons that one seems to complain to me is that it is way too sweet. Well, I always try to reduce the sugar in my confectionary, and sometimes with disastrous results. But these macarons seemed OK to me.
Recipe? (adapted from http://macaron-fetish.blogspot.com/)
For the macaron shells:
1 or 2 egg whites (about 40 g)
20 g of castor sugar
45 g icing sugar
30 g ground almonds
5 g cocoa powder plus a pinch of instant coffee powder
Method:
1. Sift icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder/coffee powder together.
2. In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.
3. Add the castor sugar and continue to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks (seriously stiff!)
4. Add about 1/3 of the icing sugar/almond mix over the top of the egg whites and fold with a spatula until combined. Continue to fold in more almond mix until all the mix is used up. DON’T OVERDO THE FOLDING PART. Once you incorporate the almond mix, and the batter is glossy and smooth, but not watery, you are ready to pipe.
5. Put batter into a piping bag with a large round nozzle. Pipe rounds onto a try lined with parchment paper. Rap the tray to get rid of any large air bubbles in piped rounds.
6. leave mac shells to dry. The surface will be a little matte and if you lightly touch it will not stick to your fingers.
7. Heat the oven to 150 – 160 celcius. Put in the macarons to bake for about 20 minutes. Rotate pan when the macarons have puffed up with the “feet” and continue to bake until macarons cannot be moved from the “feet”.
8. let macarons cool and gently peel shells off the parchment paper. If it doesn’t peel off, then it is not baked enough.
For the filling:
100 g mascarpone cheese
20 g icing sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder
25 ml of coffee liquor
method:
1. whisk mascarpone cheese, icing sugar, coffee liquor and cocoa powder until smooth.
2. put filling into a piping bag and pipe about a thumb size of filling onto the macaron shells (about half of the numbers).
3. sandwich the filling with the remaining macaron shells.
4. chill and keep in fridge. Best eaten the day after making them!
That’s all from me. I’ve been so busy with work that this blog is being neglected. Sorry, but RL comes first.
-M.

Inderasabah

“Stay safe, Sabah.”

That was actually what one of my colleagues said, as the news of the skirmishes reached us at the office in KL. A lot of us travel to Tawau for work, so naturally we were worried for those posted in the East of Malaysia. Troops were deployed, fatalities reported.

I’ve been having such a hard time to write a blog post lately, partly due to work schedule, but I can’t help but to show these pictures now in light of what is happening.

This was taken last year while I was visiting Sabah. Before then, I’ve never been to Borneo.

A Sabahan colleague took me and some others to a village near Tawau called Inderasabah: a small fishing village on silts occupied primarily by the Bugis people.

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They said that the best salted fish are from Inderasabah. Many foreigners and locals come here to get the best dried fish (especially “ikan bilis”).

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Somewhat fragile looking houses, yet the whole community lives up here in a seemingly peaceful seaside.

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With the current situation, all fishing along this region would have been grounded to a stop I would imagine.

Phonecalls from those we know near Lahad Datu and Tawau reported that fishing ports and many shops were closed and advised us those from the Peninsula to not travel here for the time being.

ImageFresh catch would be hand picked and processed.

ImageThese nets were laid out in the “courtyards” between houses. Below in the water, I could see other fishes waiting for the dried bits to fall through the netting and into the water for them to eat.Image

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The sun-dried and salted fish were packed up in plastic bags according to the weight you want. The background here is the said “courtyard” for fish sun-drying. Brought back a kilo for my mum and she said it was one of the best dried fish she ever got.

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Inderasabah village kids just hanging out at the doorstep of their home.

I just can’t stop wondering how a village like this would be right now.

Stay safe, Sabah.

-M.

A Belated Xmas and A Happy New 2013!

I hope you had a good year end holiday. I had a lovely but short one.

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We made our own Christmas tree. I mean, we all went to buy the tree, but Pinkydoodles and I made the decorations of cinnamon sticks and orange slices. Got some candy to put it up too so the tree is quite edible :D.

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Oh yeah, made gingerbread people and gave them away as Christmas gifts.Image

 

For Christmas, we drank this marvellous wine. Galatrona 2008 Petrolo. Lovely. That’s my cousin happily posing with this wine (and she said she didn’t mind being in the picture).Image

 

I made this white looking cake for New Year.

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It’s a cherry chipped cake! I know it’s not perfect…

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We celebrated the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 on our balcony overlooking KLCC and spectacular fireworks… with lots of wine!

Happy New Year, everyone. May the year bring lots of happiness!

 

-M.

Sarawakian fruits

I was back in Sibu again recently. Though it is end of the year, I’ve learnt that the fruiting season is almost the opposite from that on the Peninsula.

SibumarketGone to Sibu market in the early morning to see what I can find. I found that the local durian was in season. My, some of the kampung varieties are so small and looked like a green sea urchin!

Duriansibu

Oh yes, when there is durian, there is also duku/langsat/dokong. The tangy and sweet flesh of that small round yellow-skinned fruit is just so contrasting to the creamy durian. Perfect, right?

Oh, there is of course the all year round banana, but take a look at the price.

pisang

During my trip, I’ve been introduced to a very particular fruit seasonal around November/December.

dabais

Apparently this fruit ripens at the same time on one tree. Dabai, as it is called, is also known as “Black Olive” here.

DabaicookedDabai doesn’t keep well so you will need to eat it within a few days of purchasing. I am told not to buy any wrinkly ones. I’m not sure if you can have it raw, as I was also instructed to “cook” it – buy exposing them to hot sun for a while or soaking them in warm (not boiling) water for about 30 mins or until soften. Then, douse the dabai with soya sauce and sprinkle some sugar to taste.

DabaiSeed

I really don’t know how to describe the taste… a little bit sweet, and… oily? Anyway, it is definitely an acquired taste. The large seed in the centre is like an American football. How odd.

Matakuching

I’ve also spotted some Sarawakian variant of the mata kuching (longan). It’s got green skin with sharp bumps, something like a lychee but tougher. The inside is very much like a longan, though the seed is a paler brown and the flesh more clear. The flavour was intense and so sweet. Much better than any of the commercial longan I have tried.

-M.

Recipe: Orange and Carrot Cupcakes

I always buy carrots in half kilos ready-packaged in the supermarket. Sometimes, we couldn’t finish the pack. This time, to use up all the carrots, I baked this lovely orange and carrot cupcake with yoghurt icing. So good, and best of all, something we can have for breakfast (Well, “we” here may just refer to us Teambudu… but if you can have a muffin for breakfast, why not this cupcake, right?

Looking good fresh out of the oven!

Lovely fluffy orange yoghurt icing on top with a fondant carrot. I’m not good at using fondants, but gimme some credit for effort here, okay?

The cake was moist with a lovely crumb. I’m happy with the outcome.

Now, for the recipe!

 

For the cake:

2 eggs

75g white sugar/ vanilla sugar

75g brown sugar (my brown sugar was very dark, that is why I mixed with white sugar to make it lighter)

100g cake flour

100g all purpose flour

150g carrots, grated

1 – 1 1/2 orange zest

3 tbsp orange juice

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 baking soda

150ml vegetable oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 celcius. Beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together.

3. Add the flour mix into the egg mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the vegetable oil. Mix well after each addition (but don’t beat the heck out of it).

4. add the cinnamon, carrot, orange zest and juice. Mix with a spatula to combine.

5. Divide the batter into 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Test to doneness by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake. It is done with the skewer comes out clean.

 

For the orange yoghurt icing:

100 ml of greek strained yoghurt

100 g of unsalted butter, slightly soften

100 g of icing sugar

Zest of half or 1 orange

method:

Beat unsalted butter with the icing sugar until smooth. Add in the yoghurt in three batches, blending the yoghurt into the mixture well each time. Blend in the orange zest. Chill slightly to firm up the icing and there you have it.

Enjoy!

– M.