Saturday, October 29, 2011

Teochew Png Kueh 潮州饭桃

Teochew Png Kueh 潮州饭桃 (peach shaped rice dumpling) is one of my favourite chinese kuehs. It usually comes in either pink or white and is always shaped as a peach. Do you know why? Legend has it that the Monkey God Sun Wu Kong (Journey to the West) stole and ate the peaches of immortality during the royal banquet held by the Jade Emperor in heaven. And he attained immortality after eating them. Hence it is a custom for chinese people to always offer peach buns or peach dumplings, both symbols of longevity or immortality, as offerings to the gods during religious ceremonies. The pink ones are offered to the gods who dwell in heaven, whereas the white ones are offered to the ancestors who dwell in hell. :)

I was busy the whole friday afternoon making png kueh and steamed tapioca kueh. One was successful and the other was a complete disaster! :( As this was the 2nd time I failed in making tapioca kueh this month (the first was baked kueh bingka ubi), I swear to myself not to make anything with frozen grated tapioca again, unless I can somehow find fresh grated tapioca in Belgium. Somehow all my experiments with frozen grated tapioca failed miserably. But I am glad that my first attempt at making png kuehs turned out to be great, at least they saved my day, otherwise I would be sulking for the whole night!!! I guess I would probably stop at making any kuehs for this month, it is simply too much work and nobody appreciates them except myself!!!

The recipe for my png kuehs is adapted from Violet Fenying's old blog (which has ceased to exist). I halved the recipe and managed to make 6 pieces out of 320g of dough. But the glutinous rice filling, even though already halved in portion, was far too much for the dough. My png kuehs were actually meant for dinner. However they were still not ready for steaming by the time hubby and toddler came home, so the 2 boys ate the remaining big pot of glutinous rice instead for dinner, while I continued labouring in the kitchen. :S

Ingredients for Glutinous Rice Fillings
Ingredients A
250g glutinous rice (soak 1 hour, drained)

Ingredients B
2 pieces of shallots (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
a handful of dried shrimps, about 25g (washed)

Ingredients C
3 pieces of chinese mushrooms (shredded)
100g pork (washed, cut into thin strips)
100g chinese sausages (chopped into small pieces)

Ingredients D
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 piece of chicken stock granules (crushed)
1/2 tbsp light soya sauce

Method for Glutinous Rice Fillings
1. Heat up 2 tbsp of oil, add Ingredients B and stir-fry at medium heat till fragrant.

2. Toss in mushrooms and pork, stir-fry till fragrant.

3. Add glutinous rice, fry till fragrant. Add Ingredients D and fry till well combined.

4. Dish the rice into a 20cm steaming tray, add water to level with the rice and mix well.

5. Transfer to steamer, steam over high heat for about half an hour until cooked.

Ingredients for Skin
110g rice flour
10g glutinous rice flour
7g tapioca flour
500g water
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red colouring

a handful of tapioca flour for kneading

Method for Skin
1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well, strain into a non-stick pot.

2. Using medium heat, stir and cook to form a dough. Turn off heat and remove from pot when dough is formed.

3. Add some tapioca flour and knead into smooth and non-sticky dough.

4. Divide dough into equal portions and roll each into a round ball (I made about 320g of dough which I divided into 6 portions of 45-50g each). Flatten each ball of dough slightly with your palm and wrap up 1 heaped tablespoon of glutinous rice filling.

5. Using a brush dipped with some oil, grease the inside of the peach-shaped mould each time before pressing in the dough. Knock the mould lightly to dislodge the kueh and then place it on a small piece of banana leaf.

6. Transfer the kuehs to the steamer, steam over medium heat for 10 to 15 min till cooked.

7. (Optional) Dish up, brush with fried shallot oil and serve.

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ang Ku Kueh Sio Sio, Jiak Liao Tio Beh Pio !!!

Orh Ni Gu, Kok Ka Nah.
Chup Jee Hueh,  Cho Ah Mah.
Ah Mah Terng, Ah Mah Teh,
Ah Mah Tao Jiak Ang Ku Kueh.
Ang Ku Kueh Sio Sio, Jiak Liao Tio Beh Pio.
Tio Jip Bah, Hor Lang Pah.
Tio Jip Cheng, Hor Lang Jeng.
Ah Mah Kah Chng Ang Ang...

Have you ever heard of this hokkien childhood rhyme about Ang Ku Kueh?

I certainly wish that after eating my own ang ku kueh, I can also strike lottery just like Ah Mah (granny), and I dun mind getting punched and having red buttocks for that. :)

Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Kueh 红龟粿) has always been my all-time favourite chinese kueh. When I was still working in Singapore, I used to go to Alexandra Village at Bukit Merah Lane 1 for the famous hawker treats there - they have not just one, but two very famous AKK shops there, one is called Poh Cheu (寳洲), while the other one is called Kuehs and Snacks (Lao Shen Ah Mah Teochew Kueh 老婶阿嬷潮州粿). They both sell all kinds of traditional handmade kuehs such as ang ku kuehs, soon kuehs, ku chai kuehs and png kuehs. I would never leave the AV area without buying a box of ang ku kuehs or soon kuehs home. Besides AKK, the AV area is also famous for the HK Street San Lou Hor Fun, Liu Jia Ji Nasi Lemak, Depot Road Zhen Shan Mei Laksa,  and the famous avocado milk shake. It was no wonder that I grew very fat while working in that area.....

Anyway, back to the topic for today. I finally ordered my wooden ang ku kueh mould and png kueh mould and got them shipped from Malaysia!!! Yippee!!! Let's make good use of the moulds and see if I can churn out some traditional kuehs out of them...

Sorry for the poor lighting, as my fotos were hastily taken tonight using my small fuji camera. My hands were full, busy steaming AKK & baking roast chicken at the same time. :)

I browsed through quite a few AKK recipes and finally decided on one that looked simple and easy for my maiden attempt. So here is the recipe I adapted (I halved the recipe and made some adjustments) from Rose Kitchenette.

Ingredients for Skin (makes 11 pieces)
150g glutinous rice flour
75g sweet potatoes
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp corn oil
125-150ml warm water (I only used about 100ml)
less than 1/8 tsp orange or red colouring
Banana leaves cut to small squares or circles

Ingredients for Peanut Fillings:
150g ground, roasted peanuts*
60g castor sugar (reduced from 75g)
some water (I used about 30 ml)

*Method for Peanut Fillings:
Prepare 150g peanuts (without shells but with skin) on a baking sheet and place it in a preheated oven at 160 degrees celsius for 10 min. After 10 min, shake the peanuts a little and continue for another 10-15 min until nicely roasted. When they are nicely roasted, you would be able to peel off the peanut skin easily. Place the peeled peanuts with sugar and water in a food blender and pulse a few times until it becomes a smooth ground peanut paste. Note that the consistency of the peanut paste will depend on how much water you add and how long you grind. You may also add a little peanut oil during blending to give it a fragrant peanut taste.

Method for Skin
1. Cut the sweet potatoes into small pieces and steam for 10-15 minutes till cooked and soft. Mash through a sieve and set aside.

2. Sieve the glutinous rice flour into a mixing bowl. Make a hole in the  centre of flour and add the sugar, mashed sweet potatoes and corn oil. Add the coloured water (warm water + red or orange colouring) a little at a time and  mix and knead well until the colouring is even and dough is pliable. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water. Knead till the dough does not stick to your hands, adding more oil if necessary. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into equal portions and roll each into a round ball.  (I made about 330g of dough which I divided into 11 portions of 30g each). Flatten each ball of dough slightly with your palm and add about 1 heaped teaspoon of filling (I used homemade peanut paste and red bean paste fillings). Pinch and seal the edges to enclose the filling.

4. Using a baking brush, brush a little oil to lubricate the inside of the ang ku kueh mould each time before pressing the dough into the mould. Knock the mould lightly to dislodge the kueh and then place it on a piece of banana leaf.

5. Place all the ang ku kuehs in a preheated steamer and steam on high heat for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid from steamer to let out excess steam after 5 min. Cover and continue steaming for another 5 min. Total 10 min.

6. Remove the ang ku kuehs from steamer and brush lightly with corn oil to prevent sticking. Cover with banana leaves to keep them soft.

Note: This dough was very easy to handle and I had no problem sealing the fillings or moulding and unmoulding the kuehs. However, I noticed that my AKK had very beautiful and distinct prints before steaming, but after steaming, the prints seemed to fade a little bit. Is this normal? As this was my first time making AKK, I couldn't explain the reason why. I think it could either be due to steaming for too long or the heat was too high. Other than that, this is a very good recipe that I would recommend to AKK beginners. 

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Indonesian Kueh Lapis Legit~Kek Lapis~Spekkoek ~千层糕

这是我的处女作,还不错吧? 猜猜看有几层? :p

This cake or kueh/kuih has so many names, that I can't really decide what to put as the title of this post. This is officially a cake, because it has to be baked in the oven just like western cakes, but it also qualifies as a kueh/kuih, and its origins can be traced to colonial times in the Dutch East Indies. It is a special layered cake often baked during Hari Raya or Chinese New Year. It is known as Lapis Legit in Indonesia and Spekkoek or Spekuk in Netherlands. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is often known as Lapis Legit, Kuih Lapis, Kuih Lapis Batavia, Kek Lapis or simply Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake. In Sarawak, there is even a variation called Kek Lapis Sarawak which is a beautifully layered cake with intricate designs painstakingly crafted in the middle.

I personally prefer to call it Thousand Layer Cake (千层糕) or Kek Lapis (kek = cake in malay) instead of Kueh Lapis, in order not to be confused with the other Kueh Lapis (also known as 9 layer kueh or 九层糕) which is a steamed kueh that is made from tapioca flour, coconut milk, and flavoured with pandan and consists of multiple coloured layers which are individually steamed.

Anyway, when I was searching for a recipe to make this indonesian layered cake, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a number of recipes in Dutch, and that was when I realised that this cake is in fact quite popular in Netherlands too, at least among the indonesian community who introduced the recipe to Netherlands. The name 'spekkoek' (spek=pork belly, koek=cake) seems to suggest that whoever invented the name, thought that the cake looked like layers of pork belly or bacon? You can find spekkoek in indonesian shops and Tokos, but not in dutch bakeries though. The spice used in dutch recipes is often speculaas spice which is slightly different than the usual lapis legit mixed spice.

Ok, to cut it short, in case you are already curious about the recipe, here is a 'healthy' recipe that uses ONLY 10 egg yolks and 4 egg whites and 150g sugar. Note that I stressed on the word ONLY because I have seen recipes which make use of 15, 20, 25 or even 30 egg yolks! Out of the 4 recipes I have shortlisted, I decided to use this recipe as it seemed to be lowest in egg yolks and cholestorol! Now a word of warning, this cake is not suitable for the health-conscious and those who are on a strict diet!!!

Thanks to this recipe from Florence, my maiden attempt was a success, so I can say that this recipe is indeed a fool-proof recipe, at least for me. There are some tips which I have read and followed and which I would like to share here:

1. Use the size of baking tin specified in the recipe in order to achieve the optimal height for the cake. This recipe called for a 7x7 inch (18x18 cm) square tin, but I used a 26x16cm rectangular tin. As a result the layers were a bit thinner and my cake was not as tall as expected. If you choose to use a round tin bcos you dun have a square one, just make sure it is 1 inch bigger than the square tin, for eg. an 8x8 inch round tin will have the same surface area as a 7x7 inch square pan, just do your mathematical calculation.

2. Use a baking paper to line ONLY the bottom of the baking tin and grease it generously. Make sure the lined paper fits the bottom exactly without the edges standing up by the sides. DO NOT line or grease the sides of the tin. In fact the layers do come off the sides easily during baking.

3. Be consistent and always use the same amount of batter for each layer by using the same spoon or ladle, and do not use too much batter per layer. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread and even out the batter across the baking tin. You can also tilt the baking tin from side to side to allow the batter to spread evenly across.

4. For the first layer, you need to warm up the empty baking tin by placing in the oven for few min. For subsequent layers, you need to use a toothpick or cake tester to prick holes all over the cake, deep down all the way to the bottom most layer, before pouring in the batter. It is normal for the batter to melt when it comes in contact with the previous layer which is still hot from the oven.

5. For an obvious layered effect, the cake has to be grilled quite brown but not burnt.

6. You need to know your oven pretty well. This cake has to be grilled at the top instead of baked with top and bottom heat. I have never used the grill function at 180 degree celsius and have never known that a grill function exists apart from the maximum grill temperature (220 deg) which was indicated on my oven. As I was using the top grill function at 180 deg, I realised that it took longer (8-10 min per layer) than stated in the recipe (5 min per layer). Then I used an oven thermometer to check and realised that my actual oven temperature was only 150-160 deg despite being on grill mode!!! I played around with the temperature, adjusted it to 200 deg and it cut the time per layer to 6 min or so. So in this case, only grill+fan mode at 200 deg worked for my Ariston oven. So my conclusion is you have to adjust the oven temperature and the time per layer according to your oven, do not follow blindly. It is best to use an oven with separate top and bottom heat, so that you can turn on the top heat (grill) without the bottom heat, otherwise the bottom of the cake will be burnt.

7. Be prepared to spend at least 2.5 hours from start to finish, this includes 2 hours sitting right next to your oven while the cake is being grilled layer by layer. I spent 30 min preparing the cake and my cake was in the oven for 1 hour 45 min. Besides taking the cake out every 5 min to spoon out the batter, you may also need to turn the cake clockwise or anticlockwise every now and then to make sure the batter is evenly grilled as every oven has its own cold and hot spots. I nearly burnt the first layer and one of the middle layers even though I was keeping a close eye all the time. You would notice in my fotos that one particular layer in the middle is browner than the rest. :)

8. If you do not have mixed spice, you can make 1 tsp of your own lapis legit spice with the following proportion of ingredients : 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1 tsp ground anise or cardamom + 1/2 tsp ground cloves.

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kuih Talam Pisang

I made Kuih Talam yesterday. Again, it was my first time making this kuih, although previously I had a little success making Kuih Seri Muka which is similar in nature.

According to wikipedia, Kuih Talam (tray cake) is a kuih/kueh consisting of two layers. The top white layer is made from rice flour and coconut milk, while the bottom green layer is made from green pea flour and extract of pandan leaf.

Now, what I made yesterday was actually a variation of Kuih Talam. I wanted to try something different than the usual Kuih Talam, and since I had some bananas which were so ripe that I was on the verge of throwing them away, I decided to make Kuih Talam Pisang, a variation of the traditional Kuih Talam, with a top white layer and a bottom banana layer. I found this recipe via a Malay blog, so I got it translated via Google Translation.

Alas, the finished product especially the top white layer did not come out as nicely as my Kuih Seri Muka, so I was a little bit disappointed. Tastewise, I actually prefer Kuih Seri Muka which has a sweet upper layer of pandan custard and a savoury lower layer of glutinous rice. I don't really quite like the bottom white layer of the Kuih Talam which is a bit salty, I would prefer it to be sweet like the top layer, but that it is just my personal preference. I must have forgotten how the traditional Kuih Talam tastes like. :)

Maybe next time I would try to make Kuih Seri Muka Pisang instead, if I have the time :)

Recipe is adapted from here.

Ingredients for Bottom Layer (Yellow)
3 bananas, mashed, about 250g
1/2 cup sugar, 100g
1 cup rice flour, 120g
2 tbsp custard powder
2 cups thin coconut milk, 200ml
pinch of salt

Method (Bottom Layer)
1. Heat the steamer and prepare a 8-inch round baking tin, line the bottom with banana leaf or baking paper, or grease it with oil.

2. Combine all the ingredients for the bottom layer, and mix well til smooth, then pour it into the tin.

3. Steam at med-high heat for 30 min.

4. Scratch the surface of the bottom layer with a fork before pouring in the top layer.

Ingredients for Top Layer (White)
1 cup rice flour, 120g
3 cups thick coconut milk, 300g
1 tsp salt

Method (Top Layer) 
1. Combine all the ingredients for the top layer, and mix well til smooth.

2. Strain it into a non-stick pot using a sieve and keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove quickly from heat and pour it on top of the bottom layer.

3. Steam for another 20 min at medium heat. Poke a few holes in a piece of aluminium foil and place it loosely over the tin to prevent steam from dripping.

4. Cool it completely before cutting with a sharp knife.

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Steamed Mini Pumpkin Kuehs with Red Bean Paste Fillings (迷你金瓜红豆糕)

Chinese New Year is still a long way to go, but don't you think these look like mandarin oranges? :)

I still had 1 small piece of frozen pumpkin left after making my pumpkin huat kuehs 2 days ago. I saw this interesting recipe on another blog and decided to try it, since the ingredients looked simple and didn't require too much sugar. I have been trying to cut down the amount of sugar intake recently, after realising that the 1 kg of crystal sugar which I just bought 2 weeks ago disappeared in no time. It seems like I have been making too much sweet desserts recently. :S

This recipe is fairly simple and straight forward. I reduced the recipe by half, and managed to make 6 miniature pumpkins out of it. The only thing I noticed was that I had to add a little bit more glutinous rice flour than required in the recipe (in fact 20g more) as the dough was still quite wet and sticky after adding 80g of flour.

So here is my recipe, adapted from Florence (Do What I Like).

Ingredients (makes 6 pieces)
150g pumpkin, peeled, cut, steamed and mashed
80g glutinous rice flour (I added 20g extra)
20g sugar
some red bean paste, about 60g (I used my frozen home-made red bean paste)


1. Steam the pumpkin till cooked, about 10-15 min.
2. Mash the hot pumpkin with sugar till well blended.

3. Knead in glutinous rice flour til the dough becomes pliable and does not stick to your hands.

4. Divide the dough into pieces of 30-35 gram , flatten each piece of dough into a small circle, wrap in 1 heaped teaspoon of red bean paste, seal it properly and roll it round.

5. Shape it like a pumpkin by using the back of a small knife to draw out the grooves of a pumpkin. Take a clove each and stick it on top of each pumpkin to let it appear as a stalk.

6. Place each shaped pumpkin onto a square piece of greased baking paper or banana leaf and place them into a hot steamer to steam for 10 minutes.  

Note: After seeing the finished product, I think my steamed pumpkins are a little wrinkled, I wonder if it is because of steaming at high heat? So maybe next time I would try steaming at medium heat for 10 min, or reduce the steaming time, if ever I were to try it again.

This is not a traditional chinese/malay/nonya kueh, as I have only seen it on 2 blogs and I have never seen it sold anywhere in Singapore, but I like the thought and creativity that went behind the invention of such a simple and yet lovely dessert. So I am still going to submit this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dag van de Landbouw - 25 Sep 2011

This is a very belated post about Dag van de Landbouw (Day of the Farmer) which took place in our village during the weekend of 24-25 Sep 2011, that was nearly 3 weeks ago. This event was held by the association of farmers in our village, and not just our village but many other villages in Belgium also held their own farmers' day during the 3rd week of September to showcase and exhibit the typical life of a farmer, which I would say is a pretty good life in Belgium (as compared to farmers in Asia).

Farmers' Day proved to be a very exciting and enjoyable day for my boy, he was fascinated by the free rides on a real tractor (of cos under the guidance of a farmer or his son), as well as the small toy tractors which he got to ride by himself on the kids' racing track. There were also food tents selling belgian beers, belgian fries, belgian pancakes, curryworst sausages, freshly made ice-cream and tents selling all kinds of domesticated animals. We were really lucky with the weather, it was a very sunny day with temperatures soaring to 25 degrees celsius and above, the sunniest we ever had in the whole of August and September this year. A friend of ours from Holland came to visit us with her hubby and son, and her son was also very fascinated with the free tractor rides, and he kept asking for more. :)

Here are some pictures which we took on that day :)

Farmer showing off his skills with his tractor - positioning a tennis ball on a pole

Another farmer showing off that he could milk a (fake) cow with the help of his tractor.

These were all miniature tractors, modelled by students.

Live ducks, anyone?

What about small rabbits?
Climbing a straw-stacked mountain was fun...
Kids having lots of fun on a tractor racing track.
The 2 boys learning attentively how to drive a tractor from the expert.

Pumpkin Huat Kueh/Fa Gao/Fatt Koh (金瓜发糕)

In a bid to clear off the pumpkins in my freezer (I regret not buying a bigger fridge earlier), I decided to make some pumpkin huat kueh today.

Huat kueh (otherwise also known as huat kuih, fatt koh, fa gao or 发糕 in chinese) actually means prosperity cake or leavened cake since the word "fa" (发) means either to prosper or to raise/leaven. It is a steamed cake often offered to the gods (and also to humans) during chinese new year as a symbol of prosperity. 

This is a really easy recipe but you need to have a certain amount of luck or divine intervention from the gods in order to get the steamed cakes to split on the top and break into a smile, so that prosperity and good luck will come your way. But it didn't happen today. :( I remember when I made the Sweet Potato Huat Kuehs exactly one year ago, I also didn't have much luck with the cakes splitting on top. Note that the key ingredients for the splitting of the cakes are actually yeast and double action baking powder. 

Nevertheless, this is really a very good recipe, as the steamed huat kuehs taste really rich and delicious. What is more, I am almost done with clearing my frozen pumpkin, just one little piece left. Yippee!!!

Here is the recipe, courtesy of my cousin. I think she got it from one of Alex Goh's books.

Recipe for Pumpkin Huat Kueh/Fa Gao/Fatt Koh (金瓜发糕)

Dough Starter
50g sifted plain flour
50g water
1 tsp dry yeast

320g sifted plain flour
2 tsp double action baking powder
200g pumpkin, peeled, cut, steamed and mashed with fork
100ml coconut milk
50ml water
120g brown sugar/gula melaka (reduced from 140g)
1 egg


1. Dough Starter : Mix all starter ingredients in a bowl and set aside to proof for 30 min.

2. Batter

a) Sift the dry ingredients (plain flour and double action baking powder) in a bowl. 

b) Put mashed pumpkin, coconut milk, water, brown sugar, and eggs in mixer and mix well. 

c) Remove from mixer, fold in the dry ingredients (flour and B.P.) and dough starter using a spatula until well-blended. Do not over-mix else the huat kueh will become dense.

3. Line the aluminium cups with paper liners and pour batter into cups til 90% full and set aside for 15 min to proof. (I used porcelain teacups and I omitted the paper liners as they were not big enough. I greased my teacups and filled them till 80% full, around 4 tbsp batter per cup, and made 5 teacups of batter with this recipe. My teacup has a 8cm diameter on top, 4cm diameter at the bottom and a 7cm height. It is recommended to use a tall and wide teacup to increase the chances of splitting on top. If you really want the Fa Gao to split and smile without relying on luck, you can use a greased knife to make the sign of a cross on top of the batter. I tried it this time round but it didn't work for me!)

4. Meanwhile, prepare a steamer and let the water come to boil over high heat. When the steamer is ready, put the cups into the steamer and steam over high heat for 15 min. (Note that the steamer must be really hot in order for the huat kueh to split and smile on top. If you use bigger cups like me, you have to steam longer, for eg. 25-30 min instead of 15 min. Do not peep before the time is up and do not put any cup right in the centre of the steamer where the steaming hole is the biggest. That is also the place where usually water will drip down when you open the steamer.)

Note: If you are interested in making huat kuehs, I have another recipe for Sweet Potato Huat Kuehs that you can refer to.

This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting

I am also submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ma Lai Gao = Malay Steamed Cake / 马来糕???

I thought of steaming a cake this afternoon, I have a whole stack of at least 20 cake recipes sitting in my laptop which I have bookmarked for trying. This is one of them. The result is very good, it is soft, fluffy and spongy, a little bit crumbly, just like how a steamed cake would taste like. Anybody who is well-acquainted with chinese steamed sponge cakes would know what I mean. :)

Btw, I am really puzzled about the origins of this cake. Though I have eaten this many times in Singapore, but just like many of the traditional cakes or kuehs that I have eaten throughout my life, I just don't know their exact names and their origins. Is this supposed to be Ma Lai Gao (as in malay cake), or is it supposed to be a chinese steamed sponge cake? Some people call it Ma Lai Koh or Ma Lai Go, whatever it is. I am curious if there is an actual malay name for this cake. And how does this compare to Ji Dan Gao/Kueh Neng Koh (chinese steamed egg cake)? Hmm, guess that will be my next baking assignment. :)

I baked, oops sorry, I mean I steamed this cake in a deep pyrex glass bowl although it was originally intended for my 8-inch springform pan, but as I had underestimated the amount of batter (it was practically overflowing after I beat it with my handheld Philips Mixer for 8 minutes), I had to let it remain in the pyrex bowl which I used for the batter. Since the batter was already inside, naturally I couldn't grease the pyrex bowl. Luckily I had no difficulty whatsoever in unmoulding the cake, thank goodness! It must be due to the corn oil inside the cake that made it come out of the bowl so easily.

Here is the recipe I adapted from My Kitchen Snippets, she has some very good recipes in her blog.

Ingredients A
200g sugar (I reduced it to 185g but I think 200g is just alright in sweetness)
5 eggs

Ingredients B
100 ml corn oil/vegetable oil
130 ml milk

Ingredients C(sifted)
280g flour - I used cake flour instead of plain flour
4 tbsp custard powder - I used LION brand
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Whisk ingredients A until light and creamy, this means beating the eggs and sugar with a electric mixer for about 7-8 minutes at high speed, until the ribbon stage is achieved, i.e. the mixture should form a slowly disappearing ribbon on the surface when some of it is lifted with a utensil and is allowed to fall back into the bowl. (I was using a Philips electrical handheld mixer and it took me about 8 min to achieve the ribbon stage, in fact I had to rest my mixer for a while after 4 min to prevent it from becoming overheated. )

2. Using a spatula, fold in ingredients B and then ingredients C until well combined. (You really have to fold it lightly, quickly and yet thoroughly, in order not to overmix and deflate the bubbles formed in the batter. I would advise to sift the flour a second time before adding, and add it to the batter in a few portions instead of adding it at one go.)

3. Pour the batter into a well greased baking pan and steam on HIGH heat for 30 min or until skewer comes out clean when tested. (Make sure your steamer is already steaming hot by the time the batter is ready for steaming. As the volume of batter was more than what my 8-inch springform pan could contain, I used an ungreased 8-inch glass pyrex dish that is 3.5 inches in height).

4. Allow it to cool a little before cutting. This cake is best eaten warm when straight out from the oven. 

Can you see the height of the pyrex dish and how high my cake rose?

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Giraffe Swiss Roll 长颈鹿也疯狂

When I told my hubby that I was going to make a giraffe swiss roll, the first thing he asked was "Do you have live giraffe extract?"

Huh? What do you mean?

"Then you need to go to the zoo to collect urine and faeces..."

Oh come on, use your imagination!

Hubby was only convinced that I wasn't joking when I proudly showed him my completed masterpiece - my very first swiss roll and very first giraffe cake!

Recently there were a lot of swiss rolls floating around in the blogosphere and I decided to join in the fun. The inspiration of most bakers seemed to originate from 2 baking books, it appeared that 孟老師的美味蛋糕卷 and Junko's 彩绘蛋糕 were the "culprits" at work, making aspiring bakers go gaga over swiss rolls. I have neither of these 2 much treasured baking books on swiss rolls but luckily there is such a thing called Google. :)

The first time I tried this recipe, I was overwhelmed by the instructions (in chinese) and didn't read them carefully enough, hence there was one step which was wrongly executed. The pattern batter was too runny for piping and I didn't grease the baking paper well enough hence the giraffe pattern stuck to the baking paper! I was sad but undeterred, so I re-read the recipe a second time and tried it again the next day and finally got it right! It was quite challenging for me especially since I have never even attempted making a plain swiss roll before. :)

I adapted the recipe from here (written in Chinese) and I have written out my own detailed instructions in English below. You can also refer to here for a pictorial illustration but be warned about the japanese style of english written on this site :p

Note on 3 April 2012 - I noticed that quite a few blogs have lifted the text literally word for word for this recipe even inheriting my grammatical mistakes (I shall not name your blog but you know who you are), without even seeking permission or at least leaving me a comment on my blog. No doubt the original recipe was not from me, but it was either in Japanese or Chinese and I have taken great pains to test out the recipe, adapt it and translate it step by step in English. If you have adapted the recipe from mine, fine, please write down your own step by step instructions. But if you have used the recipe without adaptation, then kindly link back to this page and do not just copy without thinking! Thank you.

Egg Yolk Batter
3 egg yolks
15g sugar
60ml water
40ml corn oil/vegetable oil
72g plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
8g cocoa powder (I used Van Houten)

Pattern Batter
1 egg white
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp plain flour
2 tbsp of egg yolk batter

Egg White Batter
3 egg whites
50g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Prepare a rectangular swiss roll tin. Outline the giraffe pattern on a piece of baking paper and place it in the baking tin (You can google for the giraffe skin, copy and paste it in powerpoint, print it out and outline it on baking paper). Then place another fresh piece of baking paper on top. Use a baking brush dipped with a small teaspoonful of oil to grease the second layer of baking paper which is on top of the giraffe pattern. The baking paper must be well-greased if not the giraffe pattern will stick to the baking paper upon removal.

2. Steps for Egg Yolk Batter - Using a cake mixer, beat the egg yolks, then add in the sugar followed by vanilla extract, water and oil and beat well. Finally add in sifted flour (do not add cocoa powder yet) and mix well til creamy. Set aside 2 tbsp of the batter for use in step (3).

3. Steps for Pattern Batter - Using a cake mixer, whisk 1 egg white til foamy, then add in 2 tsp sugar slowly and whisk til stiff peaks. Add in 2 tbsp egg yolk batter taken from step (2),  followed by 1 tsp plain flour and mix well.  Pour the pattern batter into a piping bag and pipe out the creamy-white lines/ silhouettes of the giraffe pattern. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degree celsius for about 1 min and remove from oven.

4. Steps for Egg White Batter - Using a cake mixer, whisk 3 egg whites and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar til foamy then add in 50g sugar slowly and whisk til stiff peaks.  

5. Add 8g sifted cocoa powder to the remaining egg yolk batter from step (2) and mix evenly using a spatula. This becomes the cocoa mixture.

6. Add the egg white batter from step (4) to the cocoa mixture from step (5) in three portions and mix lightly each time using a spatula til it is well-combined. Do not overmix otherwise the bubbles will be deflated.

7. Pour the final batter into a swiss roll tin and use a spatula to level and even out the surface of the batter. Gently bang the cake tin on the table a few times to remove any bubbles trapped in the batter. Bake at 190C for about 14 min.

8. When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and quickly invert it onto a cooling rack such that the giraffe pattern is facing up. Peel off the baking paper on top carefully, making sure that the pattern remains intact.

9. Trim the 4 sides of the cake using a sharp serrated knife. Prepare a fresh sheet of baking paper, turn the cake over such that the giraffe pattern is facing down on the baking paper. Spread a layer of filling on top and gently roll it up into a swiss roll. Secure the swiss roll with the baking paper around it and leave it in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.

Note: I used apricot jam as the filling but you can use any filling you like as long as it goes well with the swiss roll. The orginal filling for this recipe is 160g whipped cream + 15g fine sugar + some canned cherries.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kuih Seri Muka / Kuih Salat

It was my first time making traditional malay/nonya kuih so I was pretty excited about it. I made this kuih 1 week ago, before my not-so-successful attempt at making onde onde. I love eating kuihs, there are so many different kinds, you have chinese kuihs, malay kuihs, peranakan or nonya kuihs. I tried to explain the meaning of kuihs to my belgian friends but it is really difficult to explain what it is; it is not a cake nor cookie, neither is it baked in the oven, it is usually made of glutinous rice, rice flour/glutinous rice flour and usually steamed in a steamer. 

Luckily we have good old wiki to the rescue! According to wikipedia, kuih (also kueh, kue, or kway; from Hokkien: 粿 koé) are bite-sized snack or dessert foods found in the Malay Archipelago as well as the Southern China provinces of Fujian and Canton. Kuih is a fairly broad term which may include items that would be called cakes, cookies, dumplings, puddings, biscuits, or pastries in English and are usually made from rice or glutinous rice. For more info, please look up the wiki definition.

Of all the kuihs, my absolute favourite is the kuih seri muka. Frankly speaking, I didn't know the actual name for kuih seri muka (otherwise known as kuih salat) until I have to search for the recipe. And it's only until I learn how to make it, that I realise that it is not rocket science, everybody can make it easily in the comfort of his or her own kitchen.

So here is my recipe, ingredients are adapted from here, but the method is through my own self-improvisation. 

Glutinous Rice Layer
300g glutinous rice
180ml coconut milk
1 tsp salt

Custard Layer
3 large eggs
4 tbsp plain flour (60g)
4 tbsp rice flour (60g)
350ml coconut milk
150g fine sugar
0.5 tsp pandan paste *
0.5 tsp pandan flavouring (optional)
0.25 tsp salt

* I used pandan paste bcos pandan leaves are not readily available in Belgium.

Method for Glutinous Rice Layer
1. Soak glutinous rice in a big bowl of water for at least 3 hours.

2. Prepare a steamer and a 22 cm square cake tin. Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper or banana leaf. (I didnt use a square tin, just used a 9 inch heart-shaped cake tin small enough to fit into my steamer, but the cake tin must be at least 3 inches in height)

3. Drain the glutinous rice of water, mix it with coconut milk and salt, and spread the rice out evenly in the cake tin.

4. Steam over HIGH heat for 15 min. After 15 min, fluff the rice with a fork, then level it and press it down with a fork til firm. Steam again for another 15 min.

Method for Custard Layer
1. Stir coconut milk, sugar, beaten eggs, and pandan paste in a small non-stick pot over low fire til the sugar has dissolved.

2. Sieve the flour, rice flour and salt together and mix well. Add the flour mixture into the pot little by little, while using a wooden spoon to stir constantly until the mixture has thickened.

3. Sieve the custard mixture to remove any lumps, then pour it over the steamed glutinous rice and steam over MEDIUM heat for 20-30 min. Do not use high heat otherwise the custard layer will not be smooth. Place an aluminium foil loosely over the cake tin in the steamer to prevent steam from dripping onto the top layer.

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.

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