Archive for February, 2010

Valentines’ macarons

My first attempt in making something pink, turned out brown. Used 12 drops of beetroot juice to colour the macarons instead of food colouring – failed.

The colouring test using beetroot juice also failed in the attempt to make pink forgotten cookies (refer to the post before). I guess I will stick to red colouring to make pink macarons.

Update 17 Feb 2010: I’ve made another batch of pink macarons which did stayed pink for the first half of baking before I turned the sheet upside down. By the tenth minute when I took it out of the oven @ 190 Celsius, they were all brown. Some were hollow on the underside. Apparently this is a sign of undercooked macaron while the brown skin was the oven being too hot.

Well, at least they all had a good shape.The beating of egg whites was done at medium speed for a longer time to ensure the stiff peaks wouldn’t collapse too fast. I did find my batter having a good consistency that dries up easily today, very much unlike the watery ones before. I dried the batter longer than recommended, for 30 mins compared to 10 mins said in recipe. They looked real stiff when I sent it into the oven.

So I finally found a recipe

http://www.channel4.com/food/recipes/baking/cakes/strawberry-macaroons-recipe_p_1.html

which I managed to get smooth tops n feet for all but hollow bottoms n browner tops. Shall try baking at 170• tomorrow with no turning of the paper. And modify from there. To each her own oven. >.<

Fillings arranged in order of preference: chocolate ganache, strawberry jam, peanut butter

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Forgotten Cookies

Sweet with bitter chocolate and crunchy almonds.. ooomph. I picked the easiest recipe I’ve found, and it really wasn’t hard.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Forgotten-Cookies-II/Detail.aspx

I have to highlight that I did not beat to stiff peaks. It was somewhere between soft and stiff. But the cookie did hold its shape through the night. Also, I attempted to colour my food with Beetroot juice. I probably added more than 12 drops and no, there is no change in shade. My current batch of forgotten cookies in the oven now turned pick with 2 drops of red colouring. So much for trying to minimize processed stuff in my food.

Only bit that could have helped was recommending a smaller cookie to be prepared. My cookies were more than 3 cm in diameter and the bottom didn’t dry out. A second preheating of the oven and popping the cookies back in helped to develop their base. A few of the tops cracked a little but that was no biggie. It wasn’t brown like what I saw from the recipe but still crispy. Am trying another batch of forgotten cookies, in pink, and smaller size. Hope this one turns out perfect. I’ll know at 12 midnight. Range time.

Update on pink cookies: Added two drops of red coloring for a pink tone. The base still did not dry up.  Another wave of heat in the oven once again.

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Coffee Angel Food Cake

It’s never a good idea to replace ingredients in the recipe.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/coffee-angel-food-cake-recipe/index.html

Which I did once again. My coffee angel food cake was so not light and airy at all. It was heavy, moist and sticky. I replaced cream of tartar with lemon juice and used coarse grain sugar instead of fine grain sugar. Replaced cake flour with the proportions mentioned on joyofbaking.com.  Sounds like the recipe for a disaster eh? Anyway, after half hour, the top was black and insides weren’t anywhere near closed to being cooked. Anyhow, I shall try it again for the batter with the coffee smell was simply alluring. I just need to get that same fragrance in an edible cake to enjoy it with my afternoon coffee drink. I want!

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Kueh Lapis

My favourite Chinese new year goodie, the kueh lapis from Bengawan solo. Those from the other bakeries ain’t heavy enough, ain’t eggy enough. I guess that also explains why it goes at $50 bucks thereabout for a cake that measures about 7″ by 7″. Now, I shall save myself some moolah by making it for myself! Lesson with Phoon Huat costs $36 and I get to bring some a 7″ by 7″ lapis at the end of the lesson, all in a timespan of 4 hours.

Main takeaway from the teacher that stayed in my head: The first 3 layers must be cooked, especially the centre, else all the layers above will be uncooked too! Well, that was indeed what I learnt from my next home baking experience. Cooked layers = bounce when pressed. He also repeatedly knocked the lapis tin against the oven, I think to get rid of the air pockets for those that didn’t rise evenly. Also, the lapis presser was not used unless really necessary.

Our end product, with the aid of our coach, who actually monitored the baking of all the layers for all of us 9 ovens or so, 8mins baking per round (excluding the baking of the first and the last layer). Our end products laying out to cool. Me and Hui were both worried the layers ain’t showing but these worries were unfounded, for it turned out pretty well!

And putting together my home lapis baking experience, I attempted another recipe from

http://www.madbaker.net/2008/02/mad-about-kueh-lapis/

due to the convenience of it being available online. The recipe I obtained from the class was missing in one of my bags and the one posted on their website wasn’t the same as the one taught (not that it couldn’t be followed but I didn’t have all of the ingredients). I replaced the rum with cointreau, for I am not a fan of the distinct rum / brandy flavour and prefer to have something more refreshing.

The cointreau lapis was definitely less oily, and I omitted alcohol for the prune and plain lapis (same batter with prunes place on one side of the square tin), with no replacement whatsoever. The latter two were definitely oilier and heavier though they did make a much higher cake than the one with alcohol. A google search told me alcohol neutralises oil. I will definitely try with cointreau again! 3 votes for the cointreau being the preferred choice of the three – mine, mum’s, sis’.

My oven was much hotter because of it being small and thus, distance from the top (i.e. grill) heat was nearer. I barely had time to put one layer on the round tin before the square one’s layer is cooked. So two baked tins is a good number to keep me occupied throughout.

As I was saying, one of the main takeaway from Phoon Huat’s class was that, once the centre of the first 3 layers of lapis isn’t cooked, the rest of the lapis’ centre will not be cooked. I saw that for myself when the sides of my square lapis wasn’t cooked. The 4 sides were all yellow (not brown) when i removed it from the tin. I was really crossing my fingers that the centre works out fine, because during the process I only noted the sides being lighter in colour. Thankfully, that was the case. We shaved off the sides, a fair bit, before the above was obtained. Still, we get to eat nonetheless! Hope to try more lapis with various kinda liquers / alcohol. Till then!

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Almond cookie

Chinese new year is round the corner and I’ve decided to try making some cookies. Almond is my favourite! Recipe is from http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/170/Chinese-Almond-Cookies with the modifications made as shared by Jacq (guest to the website) on February 07, 2007 at 06:54 AM. I used all butter as what Michael did. The cookie was really fragrant and crumbly.The recipe was easy to follow too.

Mini dough balls inflated and the last picture shows the average size of my cookies (to gauge relative to the whole almond). The recipe actually yielded 70+ cookies for me. O’well, I’m not complaining!

Update Feb 11 2010:

So I tried making another round of cookies, only this time, i used almond flour and not ground it myself. Also, I creamed my butter using Kitchenaid instead of doing it by hand, which means a softer smoother cream. The end result was not as crumbly, I think due to the almond flour. There were fewer cookies yielded, probably a mix of the better creamed butter and also the replacement of grounded almond with almond flour. It’s nice nonetheless, but you can’t get enough of the best.

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Yuba

This soy product is the local specialty of Nikko, as recommended by lonely planet, one that I’ve never tried till I was in the country. At its best, it has a soft and light texture, with a fresh soy taste that spells heaven when prepared with a bowl of udon in hot clear soup. Best I’ve tasted was at a Japanese shop with an attached bakery and gift shop, in front of the bus-stop at Shinkyo Bridge (in the direction of Yumoto). One average yuba ramen I’ve tried near the Kegon falls has a strong soy taste with the yuba not having enough curd texture.  I would love to try it again and I wonder if it taste any different when it’s not winter when I constantly crave for a piping hot dish.

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