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Friday, April 30, 2010

Steamed Pumpkin Buns 南瓜包子

I made my first batch of these using the same recipe from the same food magazine of those not so tender steamed banana cakes. I want to give the author a 2nd chance. Oh-no, I was so wrong. The buns from the original recipe turned out like leather!!!! Nothing like what was in the picture. How I hate these local publications.

And if you see a pumpkin bun recipe calling for
150gm cake flour
1/2 tsp B.P.
30gm egg white
60gm sugar
90gm pumpkin puree
Run away from it!!!!!!

These taste Urrrgghhh!!!

But…… the filling is really good (Lydia ate all the leather buns… err.. all the filling from the leather buns).
Well, part of the recipe works. The filling, they look like salted egg yolks. Look only… but taste absolutely pumpkinny.

Let me try to tweak the recipe of the bun dough.
I did by changing the flour, adding in some DABP, butter , and yeast, took out the egg white And now.. voila, a total change!!!! Absolutely yummy.
My MIL are always believe that some recipe book authors never tell you the whole story… and maybe she’s right this time.

Making pumpkin puree
Steam pumpkins until easily penetrable with a chopstick. Puree until fine.
For the filling
300gm pumpkin puree
30gm sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
Cook until thickens and use 2 teaspoons to form into little balls and place on a lined tray. Chill until time of use.

For the bun (retained the amount of sugar, pumpkin and flour from the ori recipe that you can see above, but tweaked the type of flour, additional yeast, DABP and butter)
60gm sugar
90gm pumpkin puree
1 tsp instant yeast (Mauripan doesn't work well with this recipe)
150gm pau flour
1 tsp double acting baking powder (or just use regular baking powder)
10gm butter

1. Combine sugar, pumpkin puree and yeast.
2. Combine pau flour, D.A. B.P and butter. Mix to form crumbs.
3. Pour (1) into (2) and mix to form a dough.
4. Knead dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.
5. Let dough proof in a warm place until double in size. Remember to cover it.

1. Punch down dough after it has doubled. Knead it for 2 minutes and divide dough into 12 pieces.
2. Remove pumpkin filling from the fridge.
3. With lightly floured hands, take one piece of dough and flatten it, making it thinner at the sides.
4. Place one piece of filling, round side down onto flattened dough.
5. Wrap and seal bun.
6. Seam side down, make marks that resemble a pumpkin using a dinner knife.
7. Let buns proof (covered) for 45 minutes and steam on high heat for 12 minutes.

And now that they are done, please eat with your eyes

Well, I did this at night when Mike was around to take pics of me wrapping the buns. The next morning, when I tried to take pictures of them in the morning sun, because I was so dissatisfied with the pictures I took that night... this happened

Luckily I did take some pictures before Lyanne snatched the buns from the plate

How can Lyanne resist this bun, right???

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My loot from US

Everytime my Mother in Law or someone comes back, I'll definately buy some stuff from the internet, get it sent there and they'll bring it back for me.

I think I've inherited one very bad trait from my mom.... She loves to buy pots.. and  I love to buy tableware. It's something that we never feel.. "there's too  much at home". hahaha!! And I always tell my mom to stop buying pots last time, now.. someone's got to tell me stop buying tableware. Maybe it's due to me blogging that I am buying a lot of stuff now..but those fancy stuff are never expensive, RM2 shops, or Daiso stuff. These Corelles are really for dinner time. When you have kids at home, durable tableware is the choice. But don't think Corelle is really unbreakable.. not it is not, and I have a post to prove to you. (Mike's aunt's domestic helper broke lots of it) Just that it's more durable and lightweight. I got them from US at a fraction of what is sold here, which explains the online shopping frenzy.

6 pcs of pasta plate, 6 pcs of soup plate, 3 Pyrex mixing bowls, one corelle serving platter, one cereal bowl to make up for the one that broke and one corningware stovetop that my niece Joanna broke. Mom asked to get one to replace that. And most of all, a Candy and Frying Thermometer!!!!! I can't get it here, maybe not at the baking shops that I frequent!!! The thermometer will come in handy.. very soon, you'll see. No no, I'm not making candy, not yet.

Besides that, my sis in law also got me a COACH bag. Genuine one la.... You can buy from her if you want, She's selling them (from Houston, TX), all authentic. Her link is always on the bottom right of my blog, next to my hit counter :)

And I have this weakness for cooking books, especially when they are introduced by blogger that I love and adore. This The Whimsical Bakehouse is mentioned in Patricia's site, in her DDL Cake post. Darn!!! I've just got to get the book. And well, buying at Amazon and getting them sent to Houston, and waiting for the next trip back is definately worth getting 60%-70% off Malaysia's bookstore prices.

The colours of the cakes are a bit scary for me... but I do learn something from the book, especially doing white chocolate paintings :)

I've have some more loot end of the year... My elder sis in law coming back again :)
Kitchenaid??? Maybe, it's less than USD300 there. 30% of what is sold here!!! Imagine that. But it's 10kg.. heavy hoh?

Now, Independance day sale.. I'm waiting for you :) I don't think I can make it for Thanksgiving, but that's is even crazier.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Osmanthus Cake

Been watching Virtue’s of Harmony (皆大歡喜) in 2002.. and Kwai Fah Gou, Osmanthus Cake is always mentioned for tea or snack. I was very curious, what is that Kwai Fah??? I tried asking any herbal shops and tea shops that I come across with, and they all gave me a blank look, some even asked me how to write it in Chinese. Even Herbs and Food’s employees didn’t know about this ingredient back then (I don't know about now)

But my beloved late Sam Shuk (3rd Uncle, If you are familiar with the YMCA scene, you might know him) bought me some dried osmanthus flowers from Hong Kong. He even got me osmanthus tea by Lipton. I was delighted, but I was busy with my Teacher’s Training Program in JB, that I had no time for it. By the time I was back into the kitchen, my mom has already threw them away.

Lastly these 2 years,  osmanthus has arrived to our shores finally. And even the internet has more recipes for it, especially in English :)
In 2002 and 2003, I was searching high and low on the internet for 桂花糕, there weren’t a recipe to be seen, but now there are loads and loads of it.

There are 2 major versions of Osmanthus Cake/Jelly. First is a glutinous sticky version, the other a gelatin version. I’m not interested in both. Then I saw this, and I’ll do it, without the chestnuts.
The texture was great, bouncy and fragrant with osmanthus.

If you have never seen or tried anything made from osmanthus, let me share with you that the fragrance resembles peach or apricots.

115gm chestnut powder
250ml water
120gm sugar
500ml water
1 Tbsp osmanthus

1. Mix water chestnut powder with 250ml water until no lumps are seen. Set aside.
2. Bring 500ml water and sugar to a boil. Turn off the heat and put in osmanthus flowers to infuse for 2 minutes.
3. Pour osmanthus infusion into (1). Return flour mixture to saucepan/pot and cook until it thickens.
4. Pour into a lightly oiled 7 inch pan. Steam over high heat for 10 minutes and medium heat for another 10 minutes.
5. Cool down totally before slicing

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bario Rice

There is one thing that I always think about when I think of Sarawak besides my experience of eating Sago worms, their indigenous rice, Bario rice. I lugged 25kg of this back to the West during my last trip in 2000.

Bario is an area is located in the centre of the Kelabit Highlands in the north east of Sarawak, East Malaysia, very close to the international border with Indonesian Kalimantan, and 3280 feet above sea level. It is the main settlement in the Kelabit Highlands. With an average temperature of 20C, they can plant crops different than of the lowlands where temperature are more than 32C-39C during the day time. Even their rice is different. It can only be found and planted here.

The rice is not cheap. It is airflown from the highlands to the lowlands. Bario is only accesible by air, unless you want to trek for days. And having sacks of rice with you while jungle trekking is no joke. It is cheaper to buy at Niah, Miri (not the cave, it's the name of the vilage where the cave is located, so ,the huge cave was named Niah cave. Even if it's cheaper at Niah, it's still cost 50% more than regular Thai fragrant rice. In Kuching, it's almost double. In the West, it's triple. If I didn't remember wrongly, there used to be 1.8kg packs sold in Major supermarkets at about RM20. I don't see them around now, maybe it's too expensive. If not I'll take a picture for you to see. So far I've only heard of one friend consuming this rice (West Msia $), CTZM, if you reading this, I'm talking about you.  :)
 (Prices are of year 2000)

Ok, back to why I took all the trouble to bring so much of this rice back... it's the best rice ever.
Really, seriously!!! Provided you cook it correctly. 1 cup rice, washed, drained properly and cooked with 1 cup water.

Small, smaller than a regular rice grain by half
White, when raw, looks white like glutinous rice. It doesn't look opaque like regular rice grains.
Soft and fluffy, like good quality Thai fragrant rice, but actually even better
Slightly bouncy, really, when you chew it, u can feel its bounciness
Sticky but not sticky, Like Stick-it Notes. The rice clumps together enough for you to pick it up with chopsticks, but easily separated... It's not like Thai fragrant rice when it's sticky, it's easily mushy. This is not. Bario rice is firm, soft with a nice stick. In my own opinion, even Calrose (Jap short grain) is not as good as this.
And if you can't finish the rice, and keep in the the fridge. When you reheat the rice later, the grains will fall apart like Basmathi.

I don't know how to describe this any further. Rice lovers will easily find this to be so so nice with the first mouthful.

It's not only found as white grains, but red or black grains too. All in the same small size.
So, if any of you are going to Sarawak, especially around Miri area, don't forget to buy some of this back, provided it's not prohibited by the law of your country to bring in rice. Any of you who wants to visit me from Sarawak, this will be the best thing to bring for me. I'll pay you back, don't worry. 10kg, all sapu* !!!
*sapu is a Malay word that means sweep or cleared, and in this scenario, it means cleared and taken

This rice is given by my cousin's wife, Jasmine.
She brought it back from Marudi, Sarawak during her last trip back to her hometown.

Love ya, Jasmine. Please bring me more :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Steamed Banana Cake

Don’t say I didn’t warn u. If u think that this is a tender soft cake, nope it is not. Not even when it's fresh from the steamer.

This doesn’t contain any oil (no yolks, no oil, no butter, what so ever)
It’s bouncy with a bite to it. I won’t say it’s dense.. not til that stage. Just that, not soft like a sponge, not dense like a brownie 

I ate another piece hours later, and still the texture was the same, same meant, no hardening, which is good for steamed cakes.
I adapted this recipe from a magazine, Happy Kitchen that my mom bought.
She buys it, I make it, as always

100gm bananas
60gm sugar
70gm egg white (from 2 eggs)
1 Tbsp water
80gm cake flour
20gm corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp sodium bicarbonate

1. Prepare ur steamer/wok, put water in and bring to a boil.
2. Sift flours with baking powder and sodium bicarb, set aside.
3. Put bananas and sugar into bowl and beat with a mixer until mashed and creamy.
4. With a hand whisk, whisk in egg whites and water .
5. Put in sifted flours and whisk until just smooth.
6. Put batter into lined steaming cups until 90% full.
7. Steam on medium heat for 6 minutes. (As per the recipe. But I steamed my 2nd batch on high heat, and the texture was slightly softer than the 1st batch on medium heat)

The original recipe called for liquid glucose, and I omitted it, scared that it’ll make the batter too sweet. But the main reason was that, I don’t have it at home that time. Well, I could always substitute it with golden syrup that I still have lots, but nah… let’s try it without. U can add in 30gm of liquid glucose into the batter.

Maybe next time I should put in some oil or melted butter… A Tablespoon or 2, just to make it softer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aeroplane Crackers 飞机饼

When I was a kid, the grocery stores have these large rectangular tins of biscuits where u can buy as little as u prefer, even 10 sen biscuits also can. So, being kids, we will always buy 10 or 20sen, eat up and that’s it. Now I don’t think they’d even sell 50sen worth of biscuits.

My favourite biscuit was the red aeroplane crackers. They were really spicy then, but as I grew up, the spiciness seemed to have gone.. Hey, it’s not me growing up and having my “Heat tolerance level” gone upscale, but really the “ummph” somehow was lost. The glaze on the biscuit was also not as tasty, not as sweet, not as salty… basically, cut short of everything except the price. Miss them.. don’t ya?

On my last trip to KL, I saw these cookie cutters in Daiso, The Curve and wow!!! First thing that came to my mind!! Aeroplane crackers!! So, this time I tried making it.

Frankly, the cracker base tasted great, little bit like Jacob Cream Cracker, just that it has some cookie feel to it, and more buttery. Overall, good. The glaze is somewhat less pronounced, taste and looks. I’m wondering how much food colouring the biscuit factories put in, mine is no where near red. And Life brand chili sauce is oh so so mild, no ummph here. If u like it to breathe fire with the cracker, maybe u can try using a hotter chili sauce or add in chili powder. But the chili sauce thing is correct. Gives a bit of sweetness and very slight sense of stickiness.

I adapted the cracker base from this site and this site. Mix mix a bit.

The dough is easy to work with, doesn’t seep oil, doesn’t crack, easy to cut and easy to make.

Cracker recipe
150gm cake/superfine flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
25gm cold butter
1/3 cup cream (I used whipping cream)

Sift flour and baking powder together. Put in salt. Put in cold butter and rub onto flour until the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Put in half the cream, and moisten the flour crumbs. Add more cream gradually into the crumbs until a dough can be formed. That’s it, stop. Do not knead too hard or too long.
Roll out dough as thin as u can, and cut with cookie cutter or a pizza cutter. Use a fork to make holes on crackers. Apply glaze and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 10 mins.
(I rolled my dough about 2-3mm thickness, and since my oven is a convection oven, I only used 180C)

Chili Glaze
2 Tbsp Chili sauce
1/5 chicken stock cube, or u may substitute with ½ tsp chicken stock powder

Combine both ingredients and use it to glaze raw crackers before baking.

Oh yes Shirley, this is not the cracker that I mentioned in your cheese biscuit post :) That will be posted later
I still have a long queue of posts :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Japanese Curry Chicken from scratch

Buying those curry cubes is pricey. So, I searched on the internet to see how Japanese curry is made from scratch. So, I found out that there should be lots of onions, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and of course curry powder.

I've got a few confessions to make here.

1. I made too much gravy, or is it that I used too little chicken.....
2. I made it too sour, by being greedy and putting in more tomato paste than I should.
3. I didn't have enough carrots

There are actually lots of made from scratch Japanese curry recipes, and I forgot where I got this from.
It's still nice, altho not exactly like the real thing, but acceptable.
Do try it out if u want to save some pennies :)
Japanese Curry Chicken recipe

2 Whole chicken legs, boneless, cut into chunks
Black pepper and a little sprinkle of salt.
Butter for frying chicken

4Tbsp Curry powder (I used Waugh’s Curry powder, Double Rifle Brand)
2 Tbsp tomato paste (I used 3, and I regretted)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 heaped Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 chicken cube/ or 2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 large onion, chopped (I recommend putting in more)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped.
3 Tbsp oil
2 cups water (Or omit the chicken cube or stock powder and just use chicken stock in place of water)
2 large carrots, cut into chunks

You can make the curry in advance.

1. Boil carrots with 2 cups of water/stock until cooked, but not too soft.
2. Heat wok/ saucepan on medium heat and put in oil. Saute garlic and onion until onion softens. Turn to low heat
3. Put in curry powder, and fry until fragrant. Pour in cooked carrots together with the liquid.
4. Put in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chicken cube and let it simmer until desired thickness. Season with salt and sugar.

Final assembly

Marinate chicken with black pepper and light sprinkle of salt. Pan fry chicken in some butter until golden brown. Combine chicken and curry and let it come to a simmer. Serve hot with rice.

Oh yes, please put in more chicken with the amount of ingredients mentioned for the gravy or just half the recipe.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Palm Sugar Chiffon Cake

I know I may not have invented this palm sugar chiffon cake, but this is my own version, adapted from Alex Goh’s chiffon cakes. Palm sugar or Gula Melaka Chiffon Cake.

This cake is rather sturdy, I’d say. I was away when this cake finished baking. I forgot about time.
When I came back, the oven was off, and luckily the chiffon cake stood still in its pan. I quickly inverted it. That’s why I have that dense line in the middle of the cake. If I did invert it immediately, it will have a perfect texture.

The gula Melaka smell isn’t that strong, coconut milk smell also seem sublime. If I don’t tell u that this is made with palm sugar and coconut milk, I don’t think u’d be able to guess. But Mike's relatives loved this and found this to me very aromatic. Different noses.. maybe I sniffed this cake to much while handling it, I was numbed by it. But whatever aroma it exudes, it has overpowered whatever eggy smell that high egg content cakes have. So, it’s still ok.

I will make this again.

Palm Sugar Chiffon Cake Recipe
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
80gm sugar

4 egg yolks
2 Tbsp corn oil
200ml coconut milk
100gm palm sugar, cooked on low heat with 50ml water until dissolved.
150gm cake flour
1/3 tsp sodium bicarbonate

1. Preheat oven at 180/170(fan)C.
2. Combine cooked palm sugar with coconut milk. Set aside
3. Combine egg yolks with oil and half of (2).
4. Sift half of cake flour and sodium bicarb over (3). Mix well with a wire whisk.
5. Sift remaining cake flour and sodium bicarb over batter and mix. Whem mixture is all smooth, put in remaining (2).
6. In another clean bowl, beat egg whites with sugar until frothy. Add in Cream of tartar and beat until stiff. Add in sugar gradually and beat until really stiff.
7. Fold ¼ of beaten egg whites into (5), fold.
8. Repeat step 7.
9. Pour the whole batter into remaining egg whites and fold to combine.
10. Pour batter into a tube pan and bake for 40mins.
11. Invert immediately after removal from oven. Leave to cool overturned completely before removing from mould

Malaysian Palm Sugar or Gula Melaka, dark and aromatic.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homemade Pizza

I haven't been making pizza for almost 2 years... and recently when I saw it on a this blog, I felt like making pizza again. And Chinese New Year hampers always come with canned mushrooms, so this is a good chance to use it. I just smothered the pizza base with pasta sauce, dumped some "dunno since when" mushroom sausages, sliced onions, pineapples, sliced tomatoes, canned mushrooms.... and finally lots of grated MOZZARELLA!!!! yum yum...

I used the same pizza recipe from here. This is no Pizza Hut, Shakeys or Domino's tastealike or even similiar or even a bit near there.  It feels very italian... just like the type where you get at italian restaurants, because I got the recipe from a Italian website. They have changed the recipe. The one that I used years ago weren't like the current recipe. Even the temperature given to bake was changed, cos I followed the recipe to a T last time. Well, I was still new, new to serious baking :) Anyway, it should be as good.

I baked my pizza this time at 220C, 12 minutes before the cheese, another 8 after the cheese. And I used an Aluminium steaming rack to bake my pizza, just like those perforated pizza pans :) Just want to try out :)
It was crispier indeed at the base. The next time I do it, I think I want to do it on my convection oven's ceramic turning table. Maybe it'll work like a pizza stone.

Getting the pizza to be round was not easy, and I was in rush of time, I made the dough too late, at 3pm, so had to rush for dinner and bake some for my in laws to bring home after work, and 5.30pm was getting really near. Anyway, I got it all done by 5.30 and I left our own dinner baked at 1st stage, but unbaked for 2nd until the time to eat, because if I don't bake it first, the yeast will proof and proof.

These were made to be taken home by my in laws.

I wonder will I make the next pizza in 2 years time? Hahaha!!!

And now, the kids want their pizza and eat it too.. They loved it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chinese White Honeycomb Cake / Bak Tong Gou- version 1 白糖糕

Ohhh... I've seen so many people making this. I want to try it myself too.

Actually, I never liked this bak tong gou because it tasted sour, but the honeycomby texture is nice to chew on. My friend Leighanne, loved this cake. And she always like to buy this from a kuih maker that lived 400m away from my house in Kampar. His version looked like this.  But then, I think he didn't use the express method to make. His is the days and days of fermentation method, cos the texture indeed is different.

There are many many versions on the internet, and I googled using Chinese (I've got limited Chinese knowledge) to find more versions of it. And I found this, a version using wheat starch. All the english blogs that I came across with all the googling with any romanization of the cantonese name (Pak Thong Koh, Pak Tong Go, Bak Thong Koh, or whatever) never made this cake using this recipe. So, let me try this.

The result, not sour at all. It has a very nice sweet yeasty smell. When the cake has cooled, I overturned it to cut. I saw the revealed backside of the cake to be like in the pic on your right. Wow, honeycomb :) But when I cut through the cake, no, not honeycomb like,  it's like a  termite mound's interior. Not my fault, the site that I got this from also looked like this. Plus other Chinese sites that made using this recipe also looked like this and this. I thought it's due to them not stirring the final transfer of batter to steam tray that caused the termite mound effect. But no..the recipe really yields results like this even when I stirred it when I transfered the batter. But no matter how it looked, the texture is nice to eat. Soft and not hard, even after many hours after being steamed. And the amount of sugar used is very little, it's sweet enough not to be bland.

I halved the original recipe since it was an experiment. I was scared that I won't like to eat it, so dared not do a bigger portion. Experiments need to be eaten too, unless it's really awful or uncooked. But I regretted, I could finish up the whole thing myself.  The amount below is what I did, and it gave me a 7 inch diameter, 1.5cm tall square cake. Feel free to do the full amount.

50gm sugar
200ml water
25gm wheat starch
75gm rice flour
1/2 tsp yeast mix with 1 tsp water

1. Combine everything except yeast mixture.
2. Cook over low heat until mixture thickens, stirring all the time. (*note below)
3. Remove from heat and sieve mixture into a bowl that is 3 times bigger than the amount of batter. (pls refer below for intructions to achieve a nice honeycomb look. New instructions for Step 1-3)
4. Let it cool down until warm to the touch, means u can put your hand under the bowl for a long long time feeling just warm, not hot.
5. Mix in yeast mixture and let it sit and proof for one and a half hours. (I like to proof my stuff either in a covered pot or a closed oven)
6. Stir batter and pour into an oiled 7inch square pan.
7. Steam on high heat for 20 mins (25 if full amount)
8. Let cake cool down completely before cutting, if not the surface will be sticky.

*Well, I'm rather impatient. I do medium heat for 20 seconds (if full batch I'd go 30 sec) to heat it up, turn to low for 20 seconds, back to medium for another 3, then back to low for 20 and medium 3 up until u can feel the base start to thicken. Then I went low all the way until I could feel about half of it is thickened. Then I removed it from the heat and continued to stir, and let it continue to thicken with the residual heat)

I'm going to do 3 more versions...1 is another express version, the other 2 will be long winded versions. Just for comparison. I'm curious, very curious. How can I get the ultimate honeycomb structure like the hawker near my house in Kampar???? Or should I just climb and peek into his kitchen???

Update 29/4/10: I've found the solution for the termite's mound look. Don't cook the flour mixture.
Here is my revised Step 1, 2 and 3.

1. Boil 120ml water with sugar. Mix 80ml water with both flours and mix well.
2.When sugar syrup has boiled, pour into flour mixture and stir well.
3. Sieve batter and leave it to cool.
Continue with step 4 above.


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