Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak 包好吃 (May 2013)

Looking for the best chinese steamed bun recipe? Here is the Roundup for Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak 包好吃 (May 2013).

And if you are into steaming cakes, don't forget to browse through the Roundup for Aspiring Bakers #25 - Steaming Hot Cakes (Oct 2012).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

[Rice Cooker Cake Challenge][RCC #12] - Chocolate Chiffon Cake (电饭锅巧克力戚风蛋糕)

Baking in the oven is too mainstream, isn't it?

And who says chiffon cakes can only be baked in the oven?

This is the chocolate chiffon cake I "baked" in my Toshiba rice cooker 2 weeks ago, originally intended to schedule it for next month's RCC Challenge, but when I saw Mimi Bakery House's cocoa chiffon cake submitted to my RCC Challenge #1, I couldn't resist anymore. I want to show my chiffon cake too!

I am very delighted to find a fellow blogger who shares my joy in making cakes in the rice cooker. After all, not everybody is interested in rice cooker baking especially if you have an oven at home. But I find baking in the rice cooker very intriguing and very interesting, and every time I try out a new cake recipe in my rice cooker, there is always something new to be learnt. :)

I have never liked making chiffon cakes in the oven, no thanks to the up and down tandrums of my oven and the cold room temperature in Belgium (18 - 20 degrees) which often causes my chiffon cake to deflate when it comes straight out from the oven (Okay, maybe it's my skills, I shouldn't blame it on my oven all the time). Being an amateur baker, I have only 2 successes with baking chiffon cakes in the oven (see here and here), but I find this chocolate chiffon cake recipe very reliable and always yielding successful results.

So I tried out this recipe from Florence and poured the batter into my rice cooker pot and waited with bated breath. Tick tock tick tock...No peeping ok! If you peep before the cake is done, it will shrink and all your efforts will go down the drain. 

This is how the top of the cake looked like. See how different it is from the usual RCC moon-crater look, it is very flat and smooth.

This is the bottom of the cake (see picture below). The 2 blemishes at the top were due to the blemishes on the surface of my rice cooker pot. Notice also that the cake is dented on the bottom left. That was because I was careless in inverting the cake. You should use a rice cooker steaming rack (special rack that comes with the rice cooker), insert it into the rice cooker pot so that when you invert the pot, the cake would be inverted neatly onto the steaming rack instead of falling from a height onto a plate. 

To be very frank, unmoulding a chiffon cake from the rice cooker pot is not exactly an easy task, it is a little more difficult as compared to unmoulding other types of cakes. Don't get me wrong, the chiffon cake does come out easily from the pot even without having to loosen the sides, but because it has such soft cottony texture that when you hold a plate over the rice cooker pot and when you invert both the pot and the plate, if the plate is not held in the right position and the cake doesn't land exactly in the centre of the plate and instead lands on the side of the plate, you will get a cake dented or squashed on one side. You know what I mean? Just check out the bottom of this cake, see the left side is not symmetrical with the right side? Well, this is something that I still have to practise. 

Also the cake tends to shrink a little and pull away from the sides when I open the rice cooker. You have to act fast and immediately invert it just like when you bake a chiffon cake in the oven. The only thing is I am not sure if the shrinkage is due to greasing of the pot, I know I should not grease chiffon cake pans but it seems that the rice cooker pot has to be greased. Well actually the rice cooker pot has a non-stick surface and generally chiffon cakes don't like non-stick surfaces. Okay, Let me try out a few more chiffon cakes without greasing the pot and I will update you on the outcome.

Talk talk talk and still haven't shown you the recipe, so here it is, a very nice and rich chocolate chiffon cake suitable for using as a base for black forest cake. :)

Recipe adapted from Florence of Do What I Like 

Ingredients (A) 
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp rum or kirsch
40g castor sugar

Ingredients (B)
25g cocoa powder
85ml warm corn oil

Ingredients (C) 
135ml warm water

Ingredients (D) 
125g cake flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Ingredients (E)
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
50g castor sugar

Method :
1. Mix ingredients (A) well with a hand whisk.
2. Stir cocoa powder in warmed oil until dissolved and pour into yolk mixture.
3. Stir (C) into yolk mixture.
4. Sieve ingredient (D) and stir it into yolk mixture.
5. Whip egg whites in a clean mixing bowl until big bubbles are formed. Add in the cream of tartar and whip until white and frothy. Add in sugar over 3 times and whip until stiff peaks. 
6. Pour 1/2 of egg white into yolk mixture and fold gently with spatula.
7. Pour the combined mixture back into the remaining egg white mixture and fold gently with spatula.
8. Pour batter into lightly greased rice cooker pot and press "Cook" for about 50 min. 

- I am using Toshiba RC10L-MI with 5.5 cup capacity and no baking function.

I am submitting this post to Rice Cooker Cake Challenge #1 - Are You Game for It? hosted by me, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

My RCC Challenge #1 is slowly but steadily gathering some steam! If you have never heard of rice cooker baking, this is your chance to try your hands at it. Do read up the FAQ first and join in the fun of baking in your rice cooker!

Friday, April 11, 2014

[Rice Cooker Cake Challenge] [RCC #11] - Steamed Carrot Orange Cake (电饭锅蒸萝卜香橙蛋糕)



This is my 11th rice cooker cake to date. I just "baked" a rice cooker caramel banana cake a few days ago and now I am presenting something quite different! If this is the first time you come to my blog, be warned! Because I am crazy about rice cooker cakes, and I am holding a rice cooker cake challenge this month on my blog. :)

I made this carrot-orange cake upon special request from my hubby, who was nagging me all the time about carrot cakes. I thought he was referring to the savoury type of fried carrot cakes from Singapore, but no, he meant the American carrot cake. Call me "suaku" or "mountain turtle" if you will, but I have never tasted one, let alone baked one before. So when I saw this rice cooker carrot-orange cake, I was over the moon, because I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone!

This rice cooker carrot-orange cake was surprisingly moist. When I took it out from my rice cooker after 1 hour, I was a little disappointed because the cake sank slightly in the middle and looked dense at the bottom (I think I must have underbeaten the egg whites to avoid them attaining stiff peaks) but I didn't expect it to taste so good! It was quite refreshing in taste, just imagine grated carrots paired with grated orange zest and a little orange juice, topped with crunchy walnuts...The cake was wiped out within an hour, need I say more?

Ingredients for Rice Cooker Carrot-Orange Cake
Recipe adapted from Shinshine

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
100g sugar (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
70g vegetable oil (1/3 cup) 
1 tbsp orange zest (from 1 orange)
1 cup carrot, peeled and grated (about 2 small carrots or 100g)
1/3 cup or 30g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped (I used a mixture of nuts)
3 tbsp orange juice
125g plain flour (1 cup)
2 tsp baking powder

1. Sift together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

2. Whisk egg whites using a cake-mixer.  When egg whites turn white and foamy, add 1/2 of the sugar and continue to whisk until the egg white meringue starts turning glossy. Then add remaining 1/2 of the sugar and continue to whisk till the meringue is firm and silky-glossy (soft-medium peak), meaning when you lift the whisk, the tip should gently fall.

3. Add egg yolks into a mixing bowl, followed by salt, vanilla extract and mix well with a manual whisk. Add oil and mix well. Then add grated orange zest, shredded carrots and chopped nuts and mix well.

4. Take 1/2 of the egg white and fold into the egg yolk mixture using a spatula. Then add the resultant mixture back into the remaining 1/2 of the egg white and fold in gently.
5. Using a spatula, gently fold in 1/2 of the flour, then add the remaining 1/2 and fold in gently until it is no longer lumpy. Do not overmix.

6. Grease the rice cooker pot and pour in the batter, then place the pot in the rice cooker and let it cook for 1 hour. (I pressed "Cook" 3 times, 29 min + 18 min + 17 min = 64 min in total.)

7. Check with a toothpick to see if the cake is cooked. When it's done, flip gently onto a plate. Let it cool to room temperature. (Be very careful when you overturn the cake, this cake is very soft and fragile!)

- I am using Toshiba RC10L-MI with 5.5 cup capacity and no baking function.
- I pressed the "Cook" button 3 times and took a total of 64 min (29 + 18 + 17).
- I am using the full recipe from the original source, but I added 3 additinal tablespoons of orange juice for a refreshing taste and I changed slightly the method of mixing.
- This cake is pretty flat and dense even in a 5.5 cup cooker due to the grated carrots and nuts. Suggestion for the future: instead of using 2 tsp of baking powder, use 1 tsp baking powder + 1 tsp baking soda. The baking soda can only work in the presence of acidic ingredients, so make sure there is a little orange juice or lemon juice to activate it in the batter. 

I am submitting this post to Rice Cooker Cake Challenge #1 - Are You Game for It? hosted by me, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

I am also linking this post to Little Thumbs Up (April-Orange) organized by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Anncoo Journal at this link.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Orange Marmalade Loaf Bread (17 Hour Preferment Dough)

This Orange Marmalade Loaf Bread was baked over the weekend before I baked my Rice Cooker Caramel Banana Cake, but I was so excited about the banana cake that I almost forgot to upload this.

It has been a while since I last baked bread again. This is the first time I use my bread machine this year. I should attempt to re-start my "engine" for bread-making as I think I bake far too many cakes than breads, and my hubby complains all the time. Just a quick intro on how this bread came about, this bread was baked way back in Oct 2010 when I first started out on bread-baking, I did "tandem baking" with PlumLeaf on 1 or 2 occasions back then and we had lots of fun testing each other's recipe. Then recently when I was browsing through my old postings, I came across this bread recipe again, and I started thinking about Plumleaf and wondered how she was doing. It's been a while since she last updated her blog in Mar 2013. I wish she can return to baking soon! :)

Strange enough, as if she could read my mind, she suddenly appeared on my facebook page and said she recently attempted a rice cooker cake in Hong Kong! Maybe her eyelids were twitching when I was thinking about her? ;p

What is unique about this bread is that the preferment dough takes 17 hours, and is much bigger than the main dough in terms of weight. Usually the dough starter is just a small percentage of the main dough. 

If you pop over to my previous post, you can see the difference in crust. That was because I didn't own any pullman loaf tin back then, so it was baked in a 30x15x10 loaf tin without lid. This time round, I baked the bread in a small pullman loaf tin for 35 min @ 180 degrees celsius, then I removed the lid and baked an additional 3 min on the upper shelf to brown the crust.

I had some problems with instant yeast last time and I encountered exactly the same problem this time. Turned out that if you use instant yeast, the amount of the instant yeast (after doing a weight conversion from fresh yeast to instant yeast) will take a long time for the bread to rise. Hence I suggest increasing the instant yeast from 0.35 tsp to 1 tsp for the main dough to make it rise faster and taller.

Recipe adapted from my previous post, reproduced here for easy reference.

Step 1 : Prepare the preferment dough half a day or one day in advance, preferably 17 hours ahead. Dissolve the yeast in water. Add bread flour, sea salt, skim milk powder and knead until soft. Cover the dough in cling wrap. Refrigerate to let it prove for 17 hours. (I used the bread machine to knead for 40 min and I let it prove overnight for 15 hours)

Preferment Dough
bread flour  (70%)  231g, 
water  (40%)  132g, 
fresh yeast  (2%)  7g, or instant yeast 2.5g (0.82 tsp)
sea salt  (1%)  3g or 0.75 tsp 
skim milk powder  (2%)  7g

Step 2 : Prepare the ingredients for the orange marmalade loaf.
Dough for Orange Marmalade Loaf
bread flour  (30%)  100g, 
skim milk powder  (3%)  10g, 
sea salt  (1%)  3g, 
sugar  (10%)  33g, 
water  (2%)  6g or 1 tbsp, 
egg  (6%)  20g, 
orange marmalade  (24%)  80g, 
fresh yeast  (1%)  3g, or instant yeast 1g (0.35 tsp) (**should increase to 1 tsp instant yeast for better rise**)
unsalted butter  (8%)  26g, 
grated zest of 1 orange, about 10g

Step 3 : Cut the preferment dough into small pieces.

Step 4 : Knead all ingredients of dough together, including the orange marmalade and grated zest (but except the butter). Add preferment dough piece by piece.  Knead after each addition until soft and smooth. Add butter.  Knead until stretchable consistency. Put the dough into a big bowl. Cover with cling wrap and let it prove for about 25-30 minutes. 

Step 5 : Divide the dough into six small equal portions. Flatten each portion with your hands to drive the air out. Flatten the dough into a rectangle shape with the heel of your hand, and then starting at the top, roll the short end up tightly on itself like a swiss-roll, then cover with cling wrap. Set aside to rest for about 20 minutes, or until doubled in volume. 
Step 6 : Flatten each piece of dough with your hands to drive the air out. Roll each out into a rectangular sheet with a rolling pin. Fold about 2cm from both sides towards the centre and roll it out again.  Roll the dough up (the width should be the same as the loaf tin) and put them into the mould.  Cover with cling wrap.

Step 7 : Let it prove for about 40-45 minutes or until the dough has risen to 80% of the depth of the loaf tin. Close the lid. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170-180 deg C for about 30-35 minutes. (I let it prove for >1 hour and I baked it in the lower half of the oven at 180C for 35 minutes. The loaf measured about 685g just before popping into the oven and was baked in a pullman loaf tin. After 35 min, I removed the lid of the pullman loaf tin and moved it to the upper shelf to brown the crust for extra 3 min.)

Verdict : So what is the verdict? I find this bread very soft and moist, in fact too soft, moist and sweet for my liking. My palate is now used to the belgian bread which is harder in nature, but my 2 year old little daughter loved this bread and she had it one piece after another. :)

I am linking this post to Little Thumbs Up (April-Orange) organized by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, hosted by Anncoo Journal at this link.

Also sharing this post with #TwelveLoaves, a monthly bread-baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.

And submitting this post to International Yeasted Recipe hosted by Kristy of My Little Space.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[Rice Cooker Cake Challenge] [RCC #10] - Steamed Caramel Banana Cake (Apam Pisang Gula Hangus 电饭锅蒸焦糖香蕉蛋糕)

The banana is such a versatile fruit, our family never gets tired of it. In fact the first food that all my babies set their first tooth on is mashed bananas, so it is no wonder that I have a hard time hiding my ripe bananas for making this special Rice Cooker Caramel Banana Cake (or Apam Pisang Gula Hangus in Malay). If I don't hide it, it will be gone from the table top in no time, and sometimes when there is just one lonely banana left, poor mummy has to play the mediator between 2 wailing kids.

Back to this special cake I bookmarked for trying out in my little Toshiba. I have bookmarked it for a long time ever since I saw it at Roz@Homekreation, and again at NasiLemakLover, so I decided to combine the 2 recipes, reduce the amount of ingredients to 3/4 to make it suitable for my 5.5 cup rice cooker. :)

This will be my 10th rice cooker cake to date and my 1st one for the Rice Cooker Cake Challenge event starting this month. If you are tired of me going gaga over rice cooker baking, then feel free to browse through my other bakes then. :)

This cake is much more complicated than my easy "no cake-mixer, stir and mix" RCC #4 Rice Cooker Banana Cake. It requires making the caramel sugar syrup (which I had failed once and had to redo second time) and beating eggs with sugar in a bain marie until you achieve the ribbon stage. Tastewise, although I could taste the caramel flavour, I feel that it is less moist than my RCC #4. But it is very spongy and the texture is very similar to my RCC #7 Japanese Castella Cake, which also requires beating eggs with sugar until ribbon stage. Perhaps I should use large instead of medium eggs and increase the mashed bananas from 150g to 180g or even 200g for that extra punch of moist banana flavour. This cake was very well-received by my 2 guests yesterday evening, and there was only 1 piece left this morning. :)

Recipe adapted from HomeKreation and NasiLemakLover

75g castor sugar
2 tbsp butter, about 28g
150g evaporated milk

2 medium eggs
80g castor sugar (reduced sugar wrt original recipe)

150g mashed bananas
170g sifted plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

1. Melt sugar in a saucepan over low/medium heat until the sugar melts and turns brown or caramelized. (This takes quite some time so pls be patient. On hindsight, I think I should add a little butter with the sugar at this stage so that they can turn brown faster. Then once the sugar has melted, add the remaining butter and evaporated milk as per step 2.)

2. Add in butter and stir until it melts, then add in evaporated milk very slowly and mix well. Remove from heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.

3. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in mixing bowl over a pot of hot water at medium heat until thick and pale (ribbon stage). This would take 5 to 7 min. You can beat for 5 min at medium speed and turn down to low speed for next 2 min. Ribbon stage is achieved when the batter continuously drips back into the bowl like a ribbon when you scoop it up.

4. Add mashed bananas and caramelized sugar mixture from step 2 and mix briefly using manual whisk.

5. Add sifted flour mixture (flour + BP + baking soda + salt) and use manual whisk to mix briefly until it is no longer lumpy. 

6. Pour the batter into greased rice cooker pot and press "cook". Let it cook for +/- 1 hour. This recipe is also steamer-friendly, you can pour into a greased 8-inch round cake tin and steam in a steamer over medium heat for +/- 45 min. Note that I haven't tested the timing for steamer yet.

- I am using Toshiba RC10L-MI with 5.5 cup capacity. 
- I pressed the "Cook" button 3 times and took a total of 1 hour 3 min. (29 min + 18 min + 16 min).
- The adapted recipe is 3/4 the original recipe and the amount of sugar was reduced to make it less sweet. 

I am submitting this cake to Rice Cooker Cake Challenge #1 - Are You Game for It? hosted by myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders. 

Lessons learnt:
Making this cake was not exactly smooth-sailing, in fact I encountered some problems in making the caramel sugar syrup. The first time I was too impatient and I increased the heat to medium-high as it was taking far too long for the sugar to turn brownish. Finally when the sugar had turned brownish and liquid was oozing out, I added butter, and after the butter had melted, I quickly poured the evaporated milk at one go into the pot. Big mistake! It made a sizzling sound and the whole pot of caramel sugar syrup crackled and curdled quickly and turned into rock-hard caramel bits. It was so fast that it really caught me by surprise. (I will upload the step-by-step pictures of making the sugar syrup later.)

I was disappointed but undeterred, and decided to try again since I had already come so far. Luckily i still had half a can of leftover evaporated milk. The second time round, I made sure I stuck to medium heat and watched the heat throughout, and as I poured the evaporated milk, I did it very slowly while stirring the pot of "gold" constantly. The second attempt was much better than the first, however there were still a few small lumps of hardened caramel bits. So I filtered them out of the brown liquid and weighed them on my scale, so that I could increase the amount of sugar accordingly with the egg yolks.

I wonder why I failed in making the caramel sugar syrup because I succeeded in making peanut candy just a few months ago. Then I realise that with my peanut candy, I added 1 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp of white vinegar together with 50g sugar, maybe that explains why, because the vinegar was supposed to prevent the sugar syrup from crystallizing during heating. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Orange Remedy for Cough and Sore Throat

I felt very much under the weather starting yesterday afternoon, it was beautiful sunny weather outside yet I was alternating between hot and cold shivers and my head was spinning like a top. I realise I may have contracted the flu virus from my baby who probably got it from her 2-year-old sister who likes to kiss the baby, leaving plenty of saliva and mucus on my poor baby's face. You can't possibly scold her for showering sisterly love on her baby sister, right?

Although I try to abstain from taking panadol or paracetamol at all times, it was too much for me to bear and I had to pop a "dalfagan forte". Yet my throat was still scorching. Then I remember an orange cough remedy I read from facebook recently, just happens that I have plenty of oranges at home. Great, let's do it!

Steps are very simple, as illustrated in the pictures. 

Just take an orange, slice off the top part, sprinkle 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of coarse sea salt on the orange flesh, then use a fork to prick holes into it so that the salt can seep through the orange flesh. Secure the lid of the orange with 1 or 2 toothpicks. Then put the orange in a ceramic or heat-resistant bowl (I should have done it but I didn't) and steam it in a pot of water for 10 to 15 min. Finally scoop up the orange flesh and drink the salty orange juice.

This is apparently a very good cough remedy. Let's hope my sore throat will get better tomorrow. =)

I am linking this post to Little Thumbs Up (April - Orange) organized by Bake for Happy Kids, and My Little Favourite DIY, hosted by Anncoo Journal at this link.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Can Chiffon Cakes Be Made in Rice Cooker?

Put up your hands if you say No.

Let's prove the naysayers wrong!

It's been a while since I last posted any cakes. Beside just launching a Rice Cooker Cake Challenge, I was kept busy at home with my 7-week-old newborn. As an "experienced" mother, boredom sets in after a while and my hands are really itching to bake. People who know me know that I am irresistably attracted to baking in the rice cooker. So every time I see a cake recipe, my mind would automatically try to convert that recipe to a RCC recipe. It is madness, it is like OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I try to correct this habit by baking more cakes in the oven, but my oven is subject to fluctuating temperament temperature. The temperature in my oven is not what it purports to be, even with an oven thermometer placed inside. How I wish I could wreck my oven and get a new one. I really do. 

I only have mediocre success with baking chiffon cakes in the oven due to the love-hate-relationship I have with my current oven (see here, here and here), so I try to avoid baking chiffon cakes at all cost, until I came across baking chiffon cakes in the rice cooker. I saw quite a few pictures of tall and beautiful chiffon cakes made in the rice cooker, I was so tempted to try them out.

Rice Cooker Chocolate Chiffon Cake 

Now what happens when shit the cake hits the ceiling (of the rice cooker)? I didn't realise my 5.5 cup Toshiba rice cooker was that tiny until that fateful moment when I had to open my rice cooker. Jammed. Oh no! 

Actually I already had a hunch something was not quite right because I didn't smell anything when it was past 50 minutes, normally there would be an apparent whiff of cake aroma. Luckily there was no serious damage, just some cleaning up to do. Nonetheless, it was a good experiment, at least I know what to watch out for and I will make sure I remove some batter if it exceeds a certain marking on my rice cooker pot in future. 

Here are some pictures of my 2 recent experiments with baking chiffon cakes in the rice cooker. I used 2 trusted chiffon cake recipes from Florence of Do What I like. The first one (chocolate chiffon cake shown above) was a big success, and the second one (mango chiffon cake shown below) could have been a success too, in fact it was too "successful", the egg white meringue rose so high that it hit the ceiling, haha.  

After my 1st successful attempt, I come to realise that baking chiffon cakes in the rice cooker has the unrivalled advantage of achieving a high-rising cake that does not shrink much or collapse upon removal, unlike baking in the oven ( provided you use a good chiffon cake recipe and the right technique of beating egg whites of course). I think this is true as long as your cake doesn't hit the ceiling. Because once it does, the whole cake structure becomes stunted and everything collapses like a pack of cards as you can see from my pictures. See how much the cake shrunk upon removal from the rice cooker? That was because the cake was not given enough space to rise and as a result, the whole cake structure became unstable. Nonetheless, the texture of the mango chiffon cake was still fine, soft and cottony. I can imagine how much better it would have been if I had the foresight to remove some batter before pressing cook. I think this cake would rise perfectly for a 8-cup or 10-cup cooker. One word of caution, you would have to grease the rice cooker pot slightly for chiffon cakes but pls don't do it for chiffon cake tin in the oven. (I am still testing whether chiffon cakes can be made in a rice cooker without greasing the pot). In fact I was really amazed that my chocolate chiffon cake didn't shrink or collapse much after removal, and the cake was still quite tall and yet so soft and spongy. But I had to be extremely careful when I inverted the cake on a plate as the cake was so soft that I nearly dented the cake on one side. :)

Now are you tempted to make chiffon cakes in the rice cooker? :p

I am gonna make more in the months to come, but for this month, I will be attempting simpler cakes for the rice cooker cake challenge I organize for this month. I do hope more people can join in the fun and explore the mystique world of rice cooker baking. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rice Cooker Cake Challenge #1 - Are You Game for It ?

Hi Hi, 

I am finally back after 2 months, omg, there is so much dust gathered on my blog! On 25th March, I finally squeezed in some time, in between feeding and changing pampers for my 6-week-old baby girl, to come up with a rice cooker chocolate chiffon cake! Hehe, reminds me of my 1st orange chiffon cake also whipped up in record time 2 months after the birth of my 2nd baby way back in 2012.

During my absence, I have been thinking of how I wanna carry on with this blog. Moving forward, I would have to cut down on the frequency of postings due to family commitments. But there are still so many things that are on my to-do-list, especially rice cooker cakes. However my blog is not just about rice cooker cakes, I also have an avid interest in baking breads, chinese and western pastries, cookies and other interesting bakes. As much as I would like to continue experimenting with my rice cooker, I can't dedicate all my time and effort to baking/cooking cakes in rice cooker.

It is with this thought in mind that I decided to launch a "Rice Cooker Cake Challenge" for those who are interested in baking/cooking rice cooker cakes. This will be a platform to share and learn the "art" of how to bake cakes in a rice cooker. The number of comments and positive feedback for my most popular rice cooker banana cake is an attest to the popularity of rice cooker baking, especially for people who do not own an oven at home. There are so few recipes out there on the internet (whenever I google, somehow I always end up finding my own recipes), but yet there is so much potential in the humble rice cooker. I hope that with the help of the blogging community, we can unleash the full potential of making cakes in the rice cooker. It may not be easy in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, I assure you that you will be addicted to it, because it is so easy and fuss-free, and the end result is almost always consistent, provided that you use a good recipe of course. 

This Rice Cooker Cake Challenge (RCC Challenge in short) will be a monthly series of "tried-and-tested" cakes submitted by fellow bloggers and non-bloggers alike. We will learn how to make a rice cooker cake once a month based on a specific theme or a specific recipe and the results will be submitted and collated at the start of the next month. I really hope this event will be well-received and we will be able to continue for at least a few months, until we run out of brain juices of course. There will be no rewards for this challenge, the reward will be the recipe(s) itself, how about that for a reward? :)

From left to right, top to bottom: 

1) What to bake?
For the 1st challenge, you are encouraged to bake/cook a rice cooker cake based on my RCC recipes and share your experience online with everybody. For starters, you are advised to first read the FAQ - How to Make Cakes in a Rice Cooker before you start. For those who are experienced, it's not necessary to follow my recipes, you can adapt and improvise, or even submit your own creation wherever possible. Starting from the 2nd challenge onwards, we will attempt new recipes such as chiffon cakes, sponge cakes and even breads.

2) Who can join?
Anybody, whether you have a blog or not, as long as you fulfill the requirements:
- If you have a blog, just blog it and link it to my blog. 
- If you don't have a blog, you can email the photo and recipe to me.
- If you don't have a blog but you have facebook, you can email the photo and recipe to me, and at the same time share it on your facebook and link it to my facebook and my blog. I would appreciate if you can press the "like" button to like my facebook page.

Just email your recipe with the title "RCC Challenge #1" and send to everybodyeatswell[at]gmail[dot]com in the following format:
- Your name or nickname: 
- Your blog name (omit this if you do not have a blog):
- Name of your RCC:
- URL of your post (pls do not give your homepage url):
- URL or attachment of your photo (one photo for each entry):
(If you are attaching a photo in your email, pls limit the photo size to 500kb).

3) How to join?
Step 1 : 
Bake/cook a rice cooker cake between now and 30 April 2014. You may submit more than 1 entry.

Step 2 :
Post it in your blog between now and 30 April 2014
Your post must include the recipe or link to the original recipe. If you are using a recipe from a book, pls include the title and author of the book. 
(Any entries that are posted outside the date range will not be accepted.
Any entries that do not include a recipe or link to the original recipe will not be accepted.)

Step 3 :
Pls share your experience by indicating
- the brand and model of your rice cooker, and the capacity (3 cups, 5.5 cups, 8 cups or 10 cups);
- how long you took and which function you used, "Cook" or "Bake" function;
- did you make any other changes to the recipe (for eg. reduce sugar, add chocolate chips, use oil instead of butter, doubled the recipe)
(Any entries that do not include the sharing of experience will not be accepted.)

Step 4 : Please mention that you are submitting your post to 
"Rice Cooker Cake Challenge #1 - Are You Game for It?" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and provide a link back to this post HERE.
(Any entries that do not include the above link will not be accepted.)

If this is the first time you hear about rice cooker cakes, why not take this as a challenge to try out your first rice cooker cake? I look forward to all participating entries! :)

For those who are interested in co-hosting future RCC Challenge events, do feel free to email me! :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014







all photo credits : internet screen grab

想生的马上生。。。我也快按捺不住了,包包都已经准备好了,5天 staycation 正等着我。。。

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lao Por Bing / Taiwan Sun Biscuit / Phong Piah (老婆饼 / 太阳饼 / 碰饼)

最近倒霉的事一箩筐。我本来想清除掉上次从新加坡带回来的冬瓜糖,是特地买来做老婆饼用的。为了省时间,明明食谱说明得先准备好全部馅料才做饼皮的,我却没有按部就班,结果出了乱子。我先用镬炒好糕粉,再炒香白芝麻,然后做了水皮和油皮放进冰箱,接着再回来继续做馅料。正当我打开冬瓜糖准备和白芝麻一起拿去绞碎的那刹那,晴天霹雳,赫然发现冬瓜糖竟然发霉,我的天啊,有没有搞错,怎么这么倒霉? 水皮和油皮都做好了,感觉质地很好很容易包馅料,扔掉了很可惜。伤心之余, 马上振作,刚好我印的食谱的另一面是太阳饼的做法,事不宜迟,马上换做太阳饼的馅料。这就是我的老婆饼怎么会变成太阳饼整件事情的由来,听起来有一点不可思议,但确实如此。从大概去年九月开始,我就已经在部落格上碎碎念,不管是做蛋糕还是做面包很多都差点拿去喂鸡。希望来临的马年做什么事都能够顺顺利利,不要再出乱子了,不然我就要洗手不干了。:)

For those who do not understand Chinese, basically I had the intention to make Lao Por Bing or Wife Biscuit in order to get rid of my winter melon candies brought from Singapore, but I ended up making Tai Yang Bing or Taiwanese Sun Biscuit instead. All because I did not check the freshness of all my ingredients beforehand. I was a smart-aleck who did not follow the recipe instructions which stated clearly that the fillings should be first prepared before making the 2 doughs. If I had done so, I would surely have noticed the deplorable state of one of my key ingredients. I first started by frying the glutinous rice flour to make koh fun (糕粉) and toasting the white sesame seeds, then I proceeded to make my water dough and oil dough so that they could chill in the fridge in the mean while. Just as I was about to open the pack of winter melon candies and throw them into the food processor together with the sesame seeds for grinding, I realised to my utmost horror that my winter melon candies have all gone bad. OMG, I saw greenish spots, they have all turned mouldy!!! 

Alamak, what to do? Throwing the water dough and oil dough away would be such a waste as the texture of both doughs were pretty good and looked easy enough to wrap up the filling. What's more, all my efforts would have gone down the drain and I would have to buy a new can of Crisco shortening the next time. Luckily the recipe for the Tai Yang Bing / Sun Biscuit was printed at the back of the Lao Por Bing / Wife Biscuit recipe, so I decided to keep both doughs and make a new filling instead. That way, I wouldn't have to start all over again. That was how my Lao Por Ping ended up becoming Tai Yang Bing. A pretty bizarre story. :)

As time was running late again, and I had to pick up my 2 energizer bunnies, I covered the 2 doughs and the filling individually with clingwrap and chilled them in the fridge. It was only 6 hours later at 9pm (after cooking, bathing, feeding my 2yo and 4yo and putting them to sleep), that I could return to what I had done half way. By the time my pastries came out from the oven, it was nearly 11pm! What a long, tiring but fruitful day, just for 10 pastries! 

Despite the hiccups along the way, the effort was well worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making these traditional chinese pastries. Actually, this is nothing new to me, I have already tried my hands once at making baked siew bao which also involved using water dough, oil dough and layered flaky pastry. But it was good to refresh my pastry techniques again. :)

Filling recipe adapted from Florence of Do What I Like

Taiwanese Sun Pastry Filling 台湾太阳饼馅料
80g icing sugar, sifted
20g maltose, about 2 rounded tsp
0.5 tsp boiling water
20g butter at room temp, diced into small cubes
30g cake flour, sifted

A) Method for Filling
- Dilute maltose with 0.5 tsp boiling water. Add the maltose to icing sugar in a big mixing bowl and mix well. Add in the diced butter and sifted flour and knead briefly until a smooth dough is formed. Do not over-knead (I found the dough dry initially as I must have added not enough maltose, so I added a few more drops of boiling water. The addition of a little boiling water will make the maltose softer so that it is easier to knead using your hands and make the dough come together into a ball. Note that it is not required to wrap and chill the filling in the fridge but I chose to do so as I was away for 6 hours. This filling became very hard after chilling due to the presence of maltose and icing sugar and had to be thawed at room temp slightly longer than the other 2.) 

- Divide the filling into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 10 portions of 15g each but my filling was only 117g so I divided into 10 portions of 11g each.) 

Chinese Flaky Pastry recipe adapted from Corner Cafe

Water Dough (水皮)
70g bread flour, sifted
70g plain flour, sifted
25g caster sugar
55g lard or shortening, diced into small cubes (I used Crisco shortening)
70ml water, adjust if necessary 

Oil Dough (油皮)
70g cake flour
35g lard or shortening, diced into small cubes (I used Crisco shortening)

Egg Wash
1 egg + 1 tsp water, lightly beaten

Method for Chinese Flaky Pastry
B) Water Dough (水皮) 
- Put bread flour, plain flour, sugar and shortening in a big mixing bowl and mix briefly. Slowly add water to form a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead until smooth, form into a ball, wrap it in plastic clingwrap and chill in the fridge for at least 20 min. (I first used spatula to cut the shortening into the flour mixture before using my hands to do the rubbing-in method, the texture should resemble bread crumbs before adding in water. I added exactly 70 ml water. After adding water, briefly knead using your hands and made the dough come together to form a smooth ball. Do not over-knead. This water dough was a little sticky so you should definitely chill it in the fridge for it to harden.)

- Divide the water dough into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 14 equal portions, but I divided the 288g water dough into 10 portions of 28g each.)

C) Oil Dough (油皮)
In a big mixing bowl, rub the shortening into the cake flour briefly and knead into a smooth soft dough. It is important that the malleability of the oil dough is about the same as the water dough in order to make chinese flaky pastry, according to Corner Cafe. (Again, I first used spatula to cut the shortening into the cake flour before using my hands to do the rubbing-in method so that it resembled bread crumbs, then I briefly kneaded using my hands and made the dough come together to form a smooth ball. Do not over-knead. I found the oil dough not sticky at all and quite pliable. It was definitely less sticky than the water dough. On hindsight, I found it was not really necessary to chill the oil dough in the fridge, but since I was away for 6 hours, I didn't want to take chances.)

- Divide the oil dough into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 14 equal portions, but I divided the 102g water dough into 10 portions of 10g each.)

Pls refer to my step-by-step picture collages for the method of Huai Yang Pastry (Visible Layering - Spiral Shaping 圆酥). This is a technique which I learnt from Corner Cafe's blog. Sorry for the mind-boggling background of my 2-dollar daiso rolling mat, I did these late at night and the lighting was pretty bad in the kitchen. If you prefer a clearer image, you can refer to this collage from my baked siew bao recipe for steps 1 to 9.
  • Step 1 - On a slightly floured work surface (floured with plain flour), flatten the water dough into a circle and put the oil dough on top. 
  • Step 2 - Wrap the water dough around the oil dough, pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball.
  • Step 3 - Using a slightly floured rolling pin, roll out the ball of dough into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 4 - Roll it up like a swiss roll.
  • Step 5 - Turn it 90 degrees.
  • Step 6 - Again, using the rolling pin, flatten and roll it out into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 7 - Roll it up like a swiss roll again.
  • Step 8 - Turn the rolled dough so that it is now standing with the rolled side facing up.
  • Step 9 - Flatten it with your palm so that it now looks like the shell of a snail. 

  • Step 10 - Using the rolling pin, roll it out into a circle big enough to encase the filling.
  • Step 11 - Place the filling in the centre.
  • Step 12 - Wrap the dough around the filling.
  • Step 13 - Pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball. Turn it upside down so that the sealed edges are facing down
  • Step 14 - Using the rolling pin or using your palm, flatten and roll out into a circular disc of about 7 cm. (original recipe stated 9 to 10 cm)
  • Step 15 - Use a fork to prick some holes on the pastry, to avoid the filling from oozing out during baking. Be careful not to poke right through the bottom layer of pastry.
  • Step 16 - Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, apply a layer of egg wash and put in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 25 min or till golden brown.

Note: If you follow Corner Cafe's method of making Lao Por Bing/Wife Biscuit, you will notice that he did not turn the dough with the rolled side facing up unlike what I did at step 8. Instead he went straight from step 7 to step 10, which is the approach for hidden layering (暗酥) required for making Lao Por Bing. But since I was using Tai Yang Bing/Sun Biscuit filling, I had to follow Florence's recipe which used the visible spiral shaping. The spiral shaping (圆酥) is what you commonly see in the making of shanghainese mooncakes or spiral curry puffs. But the effect of my spiral pastry was not 3D and not so obvious, I thought.

Doesn't it look like Phong Piah (碰饼) with the puffed up shape and hollow middle layer? One of my friends said it was a Wife Biscuit disguised as a Phong Piah. Actually to be honest, they do taste like Phong Piah! I hardly get to eat Taiwanese Sun Biscuit, only once in a blue moon when my sis brings some back from business trip in TW, so I can't really remember how they taste like. 

These chinese traditional pastries do keep well for at least a week (or even longer) if you keep them in an airtight container. They were not oily at all, not like some of the tar sar piah pastries we buy from shops where you have to finish within a day or two. I made them on Wednesday and the last piece was finished the following Tuesday. When you eat one piping hot from the oven, you can taste the molten-lava-like filling oozing out from the flaky pastry. But once they are cooled down, the layered flaky pastry managed to maintain its hard shape and crunchiness even after a few days. They are flaky, and yet hard and crunchy. All I can say is, this is a keeper recipe, try it and you will know !


PS: I am looking for a good recipe for the filling for the Singapore type of Tau Sar Piah (sweet or salty version), not the Malaysian type. I am also looking for a black sesame filling for black sesame biscuit. If anybody knows of such a recipe and is willing to share, pls pm me. Thank you!


I am linking this post to Bake-Along: Chinese New Year Cookies, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.

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