Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year Steamed Water Chestnut Cake- Recipe

It's the new year in approximately five hours! I feel woefully under-prepared for 2015. Also, why has my fancy font changed the 'N' in the title of this post to a lower case 'n'?

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Braided Stollen- Recipe

Homemade marzipan rocks. I'm never, ever, ever, EVER buying store-bought marzipan ever again. Ever.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Sapin-Sapin- Recipe

It's no secret that I love glutinous rice desserts of all shape and form- probably partially because my mum is Chinese-Malaysian, and kueh was an extra-special treat (in fact I've made a few types of kueh on this blog already).

Monday, 15 December 2014

Carnation Cupcakes

My friend Amy left crazy busy London for a life beside the sea in Portsmouth a few months ago. I must say I was a little envious of her apartment when I went to visit for her Christmas party this weekend- a view of the sea, the Isle of Wight in the near distance and prime position for watching the (awesome) hovercrafts ferry people to and fro (to be honest a lot of it was hovercraft envy. Did I mention they have hovercrafts? They have hovercrafts!)

I made these gluten-free and dairy-free vanilla cupcakes to contribute to the party spread since Amy can't eat either. The sponge was a regular sponge cake recipe with Stork instead of butter and a gluten-free self-raising flour mix, and the 'buttercream' was made with vegetable shortening and coconut cream instead of actual butter. At first I was a bit worried about the texture of the mock buttercream as vegetable fat can leave an unpleasant film in the mouth, but the coconut cream seemed to balance this out, so it was all good.

Now that I'm back in London, I need to try to find a way to make hovercrafts common public transport here...

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Matcha Red Bean Macarons

I made green tea macarons again, this time with a red bean buttercream filling (I just bought some red bean paste from a Chinese supermarket and whisked it into some plain homemade buttercream in about a 1:1 ratio).

These particular macarons are destined for my Chinese class, since it's the final lesson of the term this Tuesday. I'm taking a bit of a chance with the filling as I know not everyone likes red beans as a sweet here in the West (with the common reaction being 'HOMG BEANZ IN DESSERTZ THATZ CRAZY!1!')- however I wanted to make something with classic East Asian flavours. Because, you know, we're learning Chinese and stuff.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Peanut Cake- Literally

When I suggested making a peanut-shaped cake for my friend Angelina's boyfriend Robin's birthday, I panicked a little internally. How the hell was I going to make a cake look like a peanut?

Apparently, this is how.

Voilà, peanut-shaped cake.

This ia actually a chocolate peanut butter cake, with three layers of chocolate sponge cake and a slightly salted peanut butter frosting.

Happy birthday, Robin!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Matcha Strawberry Chocolate Cake

For a friend's birthday, I was given free creative reign over her birthday cake, resulting in this matcha strawberry chocolate cake (also featuring my matcha macarons).

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Matcha Macarons- Recipe

The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one, right? Well, I think I have a macaron- making problem. I just can't stop making them.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Lemon Lingonberry Macarons- Recipe

I think I'm getting the hang of this macaron business.

I decided to try filling these macarons with some lingonberry jam I bought from Scandinavian Kitchen since I was also making skyr cake this weekend (recipe coming soon) and was in a Nordic kind of mood. Since lingonberries are on the tart and slightly bitter side, the jam was a perfect foil for the sweetness of the macaron, along with the zingy lemon buttercream I used to keep the jam filling in a neat little parcel inside.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Ube Cheesecake- Recipe

See? I put all that time practising making ube macarons to good use.

An Adventure in Macarons

After stocking up on very illusive purple sweet potatoes recently, I had it in my head to make ube cheesecake and decorate it with ube macarons. The only problem was I have only made macarons once before, years ago, and I hadn't exactly succeeded. "Well, how hard can it be?" I thought to myself.

Actually,  pretty damn hard as it turns out.

Within the space of three days I churned out five batches of macarons in the quest for perfection. While I still need more practice with mixing consistency and my temperamental oven (as you'll find out mixing and the way your oven behaves are crucial elements), I came pretty close to a decent macaron, complete with shiny shell and frilly foot.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Matcha White Chocolate and Strawberry Charlotte- Test/ SemiFail

I had no idea what was going to happen when I made this recipe. All I knew was that I wanted green tea mousse, white chocolate mousse, strawberries somewhere and a stripy sponge exterior. This is what happened.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Gingerbread Blondie Bites- Recipe

These gingerbread blondies are dense and lovely and so full of flavour.

I made these in the small hours of the morning during a bout of insomnia. There are two things you can do when you have insomnia: lie awake in bed, thinking and slowly going mad, or just get up and do something with the time that you're definitely not going to be spending sleeping. I'm in the latter camp.

Monday, 13 October 2014

This Year's Birthday Cake: Pandan Kaya Cake- Recipe

This year I decided to challenge myself to make pandan kaya cake- a layer cake flavoured with pandan (screwpine leaves- the South East Asian's wonderfully fragrant answer to vanilla), layered with a kaya-like custard.

This cake is super refreshing and not too sweet, with it's feather-light ogura sponge cake (think chiffon but gently steamed in a bain marie) and soft, creamy custardy pandan 'kaya' layers.

Kaya is coconut jam- or I guess it'd be more accurate to call it a coconut curd, because a bit like lemon curd, it's made with eggs, making it very rich and creamy. If you like coconut and you like sweet spreads like Nutella, you'll love kaya.

Although this cake is called kaya layer cake, it doesn't actually have any actual kaya in it- instead, the filling is coconut milk thickened with agar (seaweed jelly) and hoen kwe (green pea/ mung bean) flour. You could use cornflour or another starch instead if you can't find hoen kwe, which is usually found in little 120g paper cylinders at Chinese supermarkets. However, I really do recommend hunting hoen kwe flour down, as it has a subtly sweet smell and taste that's perfect for this dessert and often used in kuih (and don't worry, it doesn't taste like beans). You wouldn't get that extra oomph with cornflour, only texture.

I only used one teaspoon from this pack, and re-sealed it for another day

I think I may have used a bit too much hoen kwe flour as the kaya was a bit on the thick side, and instead of smoothing out flat on top it just kind of dolloped on. The final texture was still lovely and soft though, so even though the finish was just short of perfect, the rest received top marks.

Not sure why my camera turned the green a bit blue-ish. In real life the cake and kaya layers are more organically grass-green (although still satisfyingly bright!) Here's what the pandan paste I use looks like in action:


This recipe has quite a few stages, to read through them a few times first so you get the gist of things before starting.

Ingredients for Sponge (A):

-2 egg yolks
-1 whole egg
-50ml milk
-50g Hong Kong (or plain) flour
-2tbsp vegetable oil
-1tsp pandan paste (or essence)

Ingredients for Sponge (B):

-3 egg whites (so there'd be one egg yolk left over)
-60g caster sugar
-2tsp cornflour

Ingredients for Kaya Filling (A):

-400ml coconut milk
-300ml water
-140g caster sugar
-pinch of salt
-2tsp pandan paste
-1tsp agar powder (not flakes)

Ingredients for Kaya Filling (B):

-200ml coconut milk
-100ml water
-85g hoen kwe flour


1) Begin by making the sponge. Preheat the oven to 160 degreesC and cut some greaseproof paper to line a 7" springform cake tin (but don't grease the tin or line it just yet)

2) Make a meringue by whisking all the (B) sponge ingredients until it forms stiff peaks. Use a teaspoonful to swipe around the insides of the cake tin, and use this little bit to stick the baking parchment lining to the sides (you use this instead of oil as extra oil may deflate this cake as it bakes)

3) Finish preparing the pan by wrapping the outside in tin foil and placing it in a bigger baking tray- this will become a water bath to steam the cake to perfection in the oven

4) Whisk the egg and yolks from the (A) sponge ingredients in a separate bowl until light and foamy, and when lifting up the whisk makes a defined trail. Now whisk in the rest of the (A) sponge ingredients

5) Gently fold in the meringue mixture into the (A) sponge mixture until just incorporated

6) Pour the cake batter into the tin and tap a few times on the counter to knock out large air bubbles. Boil some water and pour it into the outer baking tray to create the water bath, and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until the cake is springy and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean

7) Take out of the oven and tap again to help stop the cake from shrinking as it cools, and leave to cool completely. Once it's cool, slice a tiny bit around the edges to make it a slightly smaller circle, and split into three layers

8) Clean your 7" springform pan, lightly grease the sides with vegetable oil and line the bottom with some cardboard covered in foil

9) Now make the kaya: sprinkle the agar powder into the water from the kaya (A) ingredients and leave for 20 minutes. Now add everything from (A) into a pan and bring to the boil

10) Mix the kaya (B) ingredients together in a separate bowl until no lumps remain, and add to (A) in the saucepan, stirring all the while. Keep the heat on medium until the kaya thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon

11) Layer everything up in the tin, using the top slice of the cake as the bottom piece so the browned top is hidden, and alternately spooning in kaya. It should go: sponge, kaya, sponge, kaya, sponge, and a final layer of kaya at the top (after each layer of kaya is spooned in, give the tin a few taps on the counter to get rid of those pesky air bubbles)

12) Leave to cool completely, and pop in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight.

13) Unmould, decorate, slice and enjoy!

Yum. <3

Friday, 10 October 2014

Alice in Wonderland Eat Me Biscuits

It's my friend's birthday party this weekend. The theme is book characters: each person is to come as a character from a book and bring a related dish. Since I'm travelling up from London to Birmingham, I figured the easiest things to transport are biscuits. What better excuse is there to become the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland?

If course I made Eat Me biscuits in two sizes: after all, you don't stay the same size when you eat them.

(And that was from just licking it.)

I used a pretty standard butter cut-out cookie recipe, but mixed things up a little by flavouring the royal icing I used with rose, violet and lemon extracts. I particularly like the violet icing, it tasted just like Parma Violet sweets.

I'm by no means a royal icing expert- it's one of my least-used methods of decorating (in fact, this is only the third time I've ever used it, and the first time I've used it properly). I slowly got used to how different consistencies work for piping though, and I quite enjoyed the learning experience.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Chinese Steamed Custard Buns- Recipe

Steamed custard buns are one of my favourite dim sum staples. You can keep your dumplings, char siu bao and chicken feet- just give me 奶黄包 lai wong bao custard buns (or, I guess, 'nǎi huáng bāo' in Mandarin, although dim sum has Cantonese origins).

I used actual bao (pau) flour rather than the regular plain flour that I used for my chicken baozi recipe because I wanted the pure white look- after all, the white bun and the yellow custard inside is meant to emulate an egg. Pretty nifty, huh? This is also why I didn't shape them with pleats like the savoury buns, and just kept them smooth and round as they traditionally look.

The custard is made first, and it's a firm custard so you can roll it into a ball for the filling and wrap a flat disc of bao dough around it to parcel it up,. The custard looks kind of lumpy and solid, but actually it's really creamy and soft, especially when these buns are served warm and fresh from the steamer. I was really happy with how there turned out- they even had the delicate bread 'skin' that's so much fun to peel: another thing that makes it egg-like!

Again, like the dough for the chicken bao, if you don't have a machine with dough hooks to do the work for you, you'll have to knead by hand for 15 minutes-no cheating! It's a really good workout for your arms, if it's any consolation.

Note: you'll have four 'naked' custard balls left over as the dough recipe makes eight, while the custard makes 12 balls for filling. You can do one of either two things: 1) freeze them or refrigerate them for future use, or 2) blink and find them all mysteriously disappeared once the rest of the family find out that there are spares.

Let's get bao-zy! (See what I did there?)

Ingredients for Custard Filling:

-1 whole egg
-4 egg yolks
-100g custard powder
-85g caster sugar
-1 can full fat coconut milk
-55g melted unsalted butter
-A good pinch of salt
-6tbsp Sweet Freedom/ agave nectar/ brown rice syrup/ simple syrup
Ingredients for Bao Dough:

-500g bao flour
-100g caster sugar
-1tsp instant (fast action) yeast
-1tsp baking powder
-240ml warm water (you may or may not need to add an extra 10ml if your dough is too dry)
-1tbsp shortening (like Trex or Crisco- or even lard, if you like), melted


1) To make the custard filling, whisk all ingredients except for the 6tbsp of your chosen syrup together in a bowl with a balloon whisk until well incorporated. Pour the mixture into a greased pan and steam in your steamer for 20 minutes until the custard is set.

2) Scoop the set custard into a large bowl, add the syrup and mix thoroughly until smooth

3) Shape the custard into 12 large balls with your hands when cool enough to handle (after about 5 minutes), cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to cool to room temperature

4) To make the bao dough, mix all the ingredients together in the bowl (I didn't bother dissolving the yeast in the water this time), mix until the dough comes together and is smooth, and turn out onto a clean work surface to knead for 15 minutes

5) Pop your kneaded dough back into the bowl, grease the top with a little flavourless vegetable oil to stop it from drying out, and cover with clingfilm. Leave for about 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size

6) Split your dough into 8, roll each piece into a rough ball, and cover loosely with clingfilm to rest for ten minutes

7) Roll each dough piece into a circle and pop a cooled custard ball into the centre, like this:

8) Gather the edges together up into the centre and pinch to seal the edges, flip the ball over and shape into a smoother structure

9) Pop each ball onto a square (or circle) of baking parchment, making sure that the parchment is large enough to allow for expanding dough

10) Heat the steamer (in my case I brought the water in the wok to a simmer and then switched it off), pop the buns in and leave them to proof for a final 5 minutes

11) Turn the heat on and steam your custard buns for 20 minutes. If like me you need to do this in a couple of batches, pop the raw baozi in the fridge while they wait to help stop them from over proofing.

12) Serve fresh from the steamer, break open with your bare hands to admire the golden centre, and enjoy!