Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa's List

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all!!

Santa knows who's been good and who's been bad....

Here's cute little Rudolf, with his red nose. And my new letter stamp put into use..

Cake is chocolate fruit cake adapted from December 09 issue of 'Food and Travel - Kitchen Culture'. Original recipe is called ' Ebony and Ivory Christmas star cakes', containing a dark and light double layer fruit cake. I only made the dark layer. And here's the recipe.


1 cup cranberry
1 cup dates, seeded and sliced
1 cup currents
1/2 cup sultana
1 cup dried prunes
1/2 cup rum
60 gm butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, lighted beaten
1/2 cup chocolate chips or 2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate soda


1) Mix dried fruits and rum and leave overnight
2) Pre- heat oven 150 degrees
3) In a second bowl, sieve dry ingredients
4) In a third bowl, mix butter and sugar to combine well, mix in eggs slowly until well incorporated
5) Fold in dry ingredients
6) Stir in rum-soaked fruits
7) pour into a 7 or 8 inch square tin and bake for about 1 hour. Start the skewer test at 45 min. If skewer comes out clean, cake is done
8) Take cake out of oven, use skewer to poke holes and brush with rum.
9) Continue to feed rum if desired

This is my first fruit cake and I used too big a tin, resulting in a very shallow cake. I was also too busy to check the cake and let it bake for an hour straight and the cake turned out a little dry and crumbly. Feeding of rum helped. What I liked about the cake is that its not too sweet.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

BOSS cake

Did this quite some time ago. For my boss. I only did the sugar figurine only as the cake was already ordered from one of the hotels.

Here's wishing for better results in the next financial year.

Its a square piece of biscuit, brushed with a little sugar syrup and then wrapped in fondant. Then I used edible ink to draw on it.

Just wondering if anyone interested to attend a free fondant figurine class? Will be quite free end december, provided I don't go for a last minute holiday. If you are interested, please write me. It will be in Singapore, of course.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gabriel's mini golf cake

Whoa.. have not updated this blog for sometime. Had been busy whipping up homestyle pot roast, peking duck, pizzas, cheesecakes, steaks etc... virtually, that is. Had been faithfully playing the facebook game called 'Cafe World', checking-in everday to make sure my customers have food to eat.. haha.
Did not do much real baking during this time, but tried try my hands at cooking new dishes - steamed three-colour egg, 'wah tan hor fun', herbal chicken roll, etc. My hubby says I'm a cookbook cook so the results is highly dependent on the quality of recipes.

We celebrated my son, Gabriel's birthday at McDonalds again this year, with his K2 classmates. I got him to look through the latest Wilton's yearbook to choose a design that he liked. I had wanted him to pick the pirate cake on the cover, but he picked this mini golf cake.

I really must stop getting my children to pick their own designs. I told him 'I don't have that cake stand' and 'that's too much cake for 15 children'. He looked through the book again and concluded 'that's the only cake I like leh'.

So, here is my version of the mini-golf cake.

Yes.. it looked messy and amateurish. I had a big scare that day. The party was after church, so I left the cake at home, covered with shrink wrap as I had no cake box of the right size. The shrink wrap was a huge mistake! I think it trapped the heat inside and caused the fondant to melt! I did not realise it until the cake started to slide badly when my race-car driving hubby drove us to the birthday venue! It slided a good 8 cm, almost off the cake board. The car ride was the worst journey in my life. I tried to balance the cake the entire journey and at the same time. fomulating plan B in case the cake did not make it to the party.

Fortunately, it did. Look at the picture above and you'd see how hole 2 has slided to the side of the cake, the crack on the front and smeared chocolate at the front too. Thankfully, the worst damage was at the back which was not so important.

I had problems making the little golfers stand, so I put little cardboards behind them to prop them up and a skewer to hold them in place.

This little lady golfer right at the bottom had weird looking eyes because one of them fell off during the journey and I had to fix her urgently, without tools. Hahaha...

Anyway, the kids had a great time. And the adults were impressed with the cake.. still. I get too easily stressed up for my own good, signature of the Melancholic.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Nathalie!!

Actually her birthday is on 2 October, a Friday. But we had an early celebration yesterday with family members and friends. Nathalie was truly a bundle of joy, she was friendly with everyone and had loads of fun.

I invited a friend and her family to help me with the decorations, unfortunately they could make it. But look what they sent me - a complete decoration pack!!

1) Birthday Banner : 'HAPPY' done by the very creative son, 'BIRTHDAY' done by the artistic dad, 'NATALIE' done by the beautiful daughter, banner assembled by the very talented wife

2) Ribbons : beautiful pink, yellow, green ribbons. Loads of them. One set of them even linked up for the cake table.

3) Balloons : '1st birthday balloon', lots of cute little balloons and complete with balloon pump

4) Table cloth : pink and white table cloth for the cake table

5) Stationery : scissors, double-sided tape, extra heavy duty double sided tape, etc. How thoughtful!

Thanks Andrew, Kris, Wei Ian and Rae. I am so grateful!

As usual, I spent my whole morning and afternoon creating the birthday cake. The main cake is a 10 inch carrot cake. I omitted walnuts this time simply because I ran out of walnuts. I think it tasted better. :-) Nathalie has a favourite lion puppet which I tried to re-create here. Teddy is to fill some empty space. The yellow flowers adorning the side of the cake is marshmellow.

Here's my little princess in the same dress as the sugar figurine.

For our group pictures, she was always smilling and waving. She has this totally adorable 'Miss Universe' type wave. :-)

OK. Back to the cake. A 10 inch cake is definitely not enough for my 40 guests. So I made some chocolate cupcakes filled with M&Ms. The M&Ms were a mistake. The cupcakes were speckled with blots of blue, green, yellow, red.... I though the M&Ms won't melt as they were bakable ones, but they failed me. However, I did manage to dress all 18 cupcakes prettily, each one a different design - flowers, ribbons, animals and even a basket.

Each child had their own favourite and thankfully no clashes. My favourite is the little lion. Took me 1.5 hours to decorate them all. Unfortunately I did not have the time to take a picture of each cupcake.

Here's the cake and cupcake assembled.

Here's my prayer for my little princess.

Lord, we thank you for this little bundle of joy. You have given us the most perfect gift. We pray that you cover her with your mercy, wisdom and protection. Have mercy and heal her of her allergies and relief her from the itchiness and rashes that bothers her ever so often. Give her the wisdom that comes from knowing and fearing you. Cover her with your protection, that she may grow up healthy and strong. We ask for all these in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Fuss Flaky Apple Turnovers

A couple of months ago, I attended the Pastry making class at Creative Culinaire. I learned how to make danish pastries and criossants and finally knew the difference between criossants and puff pastry. I had once tried to use ready-made puff pastry to make croissants and wondered why it did not rise. Through the class, I learned how terribly tedious it is to roll, fold, chill, roll, fold, chill (multiply that like 3 times) the dough. I have not had the courage to attempt it at home yet.

So when I come across this recipe from King Arthur Flour, I was really glad its so simple. Its called blitz puff. It uses the blender to cut the cold butter quickly without melting it. King Arthur Flour website is great! It has all the pictures and details so you know if you are on the right track. I must remember to keep going back there for other recipes.

The smell in the kitchen was Sooooooo good when the puffs were baking in the oven that it in itself was worth the effort (also because the effort was so minimal).

You need to work the dough very quickly. Especially in hot and humid Singapore, or else the butter will melt and end product will not be flaky anymore. Further, the dough is really really soft. So soft that you'd think that its impossible to roll. So you need to be really generous with the dusting of flour. Keep picking the dough up and dust the bottom so that it does not stick to the table.

I made mine into apple turnovers, inspired by the very talented Lily Wai.

Mine did not look half as flaky as Lily's nor King Arthur's, nonetheless, it was DELICIOUS! My entire family loved it. The first batch I made was almost wiped out soon after it emerge from the oven and that was about 10pm at night. My son ate two. I made them again for my son and daughter's school picnic.

Replicating the recipe here for your easy reference and mine too.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold butter
1/2 cup sour cream

1) To make the crust: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
2) Cut the cold butter into large cubes, blitz it together with the flour using a blender till it's unevenly crumbly, with larger bits of butter remaining intact.
3) Stir in the sour cream. The dough will be craggy, but cohesive.
4) Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and bring it together, if necessary, with a few quick kneads.
5) Pat the dough into a rough square, then roll it into an 8" x 10" rectangle.
6) Dust both sides of the dough with flour. Starting with one of the shorter (8") ends, fold it in thirds like a business letter, flip it over (so the open flap is on the bottom), and turn it 90°.
7) Roll the dough into an 8" x 10" rectangle again. Fold it in thirds, wrap in plastic, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight) before using.

3 tablespoons Instant ClearJel® or cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen or apples - peeled and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to seal pastries (optional)

*If you use cornstarch, you'll want to dissolve it in a little cold water, rather than stir it into the sugar.

1) While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Mix the sugar and ClearJel till well combined. If you're using cornstarch, mix it with enough cold water to dissolve.
2) Add the sugar mixture to the raspberries, tossing to combine. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon (and the cornstarch/water mixture, if you're using cornstarch).
3) Heat the mixture in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring, till the berries soften and fall apart. The mixture will be thick and jam-like, even though it doesn't really warm up much; this will take under 5 minutes. If you use cornstarch, cook and stir till the mixture bubbles and thickens. You can prepare the filling up to several days before; cover and refrigerate till you're ready to use it.
4) You can also do this in a microwave; heat till the berries soften, then stir till they fall apart and the mixture thickens, like jam.

1) When you're ready to assemble the turnovers, preheat the oven to 400°F or 200 C. Roll the chilled dough into a 16" square. Cut sixteen 4" squares, for small, triangular turnovers. For round turnovers, use a turnover press to cut nine 4 1/2" rounds. Re-roll the dough scraps, and cut 4 or 5 additional rounds, as many as you can get out of the scraps.
2) If desired, for a tighter seal, brush two adjoining edges of each square (or half of each circle) with 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water.
3) Place about 2 teaspoons filling slightly off-center in each square. Or about 4 teaspoons slightly off-center of each round; a level tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.
4) Fold the turnovers in half. If you've cut the dough in squares, fold in half diagonally, to create triangular turnovers. Press the edges with a fork to seal.
5) Place the turnovers on a baking sheet, preferably one lined with parchment to catch any spills. Bake in the preheated 400°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're a deep, golden brown; you may see some of the filling beginning to ooze out.
6) Remove the turnovers from the oven, and cool on a rack.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

'To die for' Blueberry Muffins

Just came back from a short holiday in Malaysia's Genting Highlands and feeling more tired than before. It really was quite hard work to be on holiday with three young children. Thankfully we had two helpers with us and they were really great help.

Spent all three days at the theme park, both outdoor and indoor. Gabriel's favourite was the junior bumper car and Samantha loved all the sweets that she get to eat while Nathalie enjoyed the ferris wheel rides. When it was time to come back to Singapore, Samantha was the most reluctant. She asked if she could just go home for three days and be back again. :-)

We spent sometime with a cell member, Angeline and her family today. They have a girl aged six and she 'clicked' really well with Samantha. After lunch, Sam was invited to their home and she agreed! As we saw Samantha leave with them, we could not help but felt that our little girl had indeed grown up. Soon, she may be ready for sleepovers, how fun!

I baked some muffins for Angeline and her family. I had baked these previously for a school picnic and they were really good! I found the recipe in Allrecipes and it's called 'To die for blueberry muffins'. The muffin is really soft, with a crisp topping. I love it when it is slightly warm. I just put them into the toaster oven for a few minutes in the morning.

I baked them small for the kids and for some of the muffins, substituted blueberries with chocolate chips.

I baked my first batch in my new red silicon muffin cups.

For the mini ones, I baked them in a tray. Not sure what you call these tray, I don't think they are meant for muffins. But it has 12 shallow rounds, which is great for small muffins with lots of topping. :-)

Here's the recipe adapted from Allrecipe.

(Makes about 8 regular muffins)
190 g all-purpose flour
150 g white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
80 ml vegetable oil
1 egg
80 ml milk
145 g fresh blueberries
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the topping
100 g brown sugar (orginal is white sugar)
40 g all-purpose flour
55 g butter, cubed
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
3. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. I put it into the mixer with the k beater and mix for a little while.
4. Add vegetable oil, egg (lightly beaten) and milk and mix this with flour mixture.
5. Fold in blueberries.
6. Fill muffin cups right to the top (the second time, I fill it about 3/4 instead so that the toppings do not grop off the muffin when it rises), and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

To Make Crumb Topping:
Mix together sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon with fork until it resembles coarse crumbs.
(Note - its quite a lot of crumb topping for 8 muffins, so you may actually halve this recipe)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Relax ..

When I have to create a birthday cake for someone, I think about their profession, their hobbies, their favourite past time etc.. so that the cake can be meaningful to them. Which is also why I named my blog bake-a-story, as each cake can tell something about the receipient i.e. the baked goods can tell a story.

This cake tells of someone who needs to relax perhaps by having a nice long spa.

I had very little time to create this cake as it was needed on a weekday. I made the sponge cake and while it was in the oven, explored the cakecentral website for ideas. It had to be simple as I had barely 2 hours for the decoration.

This is the figurine I created for the cake.

Me and hubby had a debate about the chest hairs.. whether it should be straight or curly :-)

The ducky companion. My son say adults do not have rubber duckies.

The finished cake. I did not bring my camera.. so picture was taken using my mobile phone.

I added the little feet. You cannot see the tub. I used whipped cream to pipe like a wooden tub.

Cake is sponge cake with super yummylicious durian filling. My brother in law ate three pieces, what a compliment!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eh... Flower Bread..?

With the Panda Bread experience, I tried to make a Flower Bread last evening. The result ... eh.. not quite what I had in mind. But little Samantha was very excited and took one slice for supper. She loves anything pink and 'girly' and this bread suits her really well.

The 'petals' were too far apart. It looked like the sun, if only it were all yellow. If I do bake this again, I will make the following changes :

1) Choose a more prominant colour that yellow for the center

2) Increase the pink from 25g to 30 or 35g

3) Instead of alternating white and pink, I'll overlap them a little

4) My hubby suggested green background, I think that's a good idea.

This is how it looked like prior to baking.

And after baking.

This time, I took time to roll the dough to the length of the bread tin. But later, I lost patience and did not wait for it to rise to the top (it was getting late and we had not had dinner!) .

What should I try next?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Adorable Panda Bread

When a friend of mine sent me this link, I took a look and my heart skipped a beat. How adorable! The original creator of panda bread is Taro Taro from Japan. Who would have thought that a loaf of bread can hold some much creativity! I told myself I must make this bread and thankfully, Florence from Do What I Like has a translated recipe.
So here's mine.

Not nearly as perfect as Taro Taro's nor Florence's, but I was delighted. As I held the serrated knife, I told myself.. moment of truth.. and the next moment, two pairs of panda eyes were staring back at me! (OK.. maybe my standard is a little low...)

Here's the panda from the other side of the bread. A baby one... all squashed up. :-)

I liked the fact that every slice looked a little different.. surprises along every slice!

Try it! Its fun! Just follow Taro's detailed steps. Oh, by the way, if you look at Taro's site, it has pictures submitted by people who tried, some were ultra creative, others were hilarious.

I have replicated Florence's recipe here for your reference, with minor modifications. The dough is very easy to work with, not too tacky.

Ingredients: <600g loaf (206 x 108 x100h)

230g bread flour
70g cake flour
30g sugar
milk + 1 yolk = 210g (I used full cream milk)
4.5g salt
18g unsalted butter
4g yeast
8g green tea powder dissolved in 10g boiling hot water
8g cocoa powder dissolved in 8g boiling water

1. Heat up milk and yolk to temperature of 38℃. (I beat the yolk lightly with milk and send it to the microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds).
2. Put everything in bread machine and set to dough cycle. Let it knead for 20 minutes. Stop the cycle and restart the dough cycle and let it knead for another 15 minutes. (I did reset to restart the dough cycle and stop only when the dough is elastic.
3. Divide dough (about 560g) into 3 parts: 75g for the chocolate, 210g plain and the rest of the dough which is less than 280g for the green tea.
4. Add chocolate to the 75g dough and knead till the colour is even. Add green tea mixture to the 280g dough and knead till colour is even. (For the choc I did it manually, for green tea, I used the machine).
5. Round up the three pieces of dough separately and cover. (I usually use a big cake box or any other big container turned upside down and cover over it) Proof for about 40 minutes or double in size.
6. Punch air out of dough, round it and prove for another 20 - 30 minutes.
7. Use 90g plain dough for the face and 2 pieces of 27g chocolate dough for the eyes. (Refer to photo guide in Step (7) in TARO's site).
8. Fill the hollow of the eyes with 30g plain dough. (Refer to photo guide in Step (8) in TARO's site).
9. Roll remaining plain dough over the patterned dough. (Refer to photo guide in Step (9) in TARO's site).
10. Divide the remaining chocolate dough into 2 pieces (17.5g each) for the ears. (Refer to photo guide in Step (10) in TARO's site).
11. Use 70g of the green tea dough to fill up the hollow between the ears. (Refer to photo guide in Step (11) in TARO's site).
12. Wrap the rest of the green tea dough all around the patterned dough. (Refer to photo guide in Step (12) in TARO's site)
13. Place dough into a well-greased loaf pan and cover it with a lid and prove for 50 - 60 minutes in an enclosed area eg. microwave oven.
14. Bake at 200℃ for 25 – 30 minutes. (I baked at 180 degrees for 25 minutes)

More pictures.

Green tea paste from mixing green tea powder with hot water. Cocoa paste looks similar.

'Coloured' dough rounded and ready for proofing under a box.

The dough, all stacked up and ready to go into the loaf tin.

You can already see the panda staring at you with its lovely eyes...

Unfortunately, I did not roll the dough long enough, so its quite short lengthwise and was unable to fill the sides of the loaf pan. Or maybe I was too impatient towards the end and only proofed for about 35 minutes.

I was worried when I saw this... looks so lopsided.

This side looks much better.

It looks even better after slicing.

Right now, I have so many ideas of what other animals/pictures I want to create with this new learnt technique. Thanks to Taro! And also to SK who sent me the link.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nice and Easy Banana Cake

Took this recipe from Agnes Chiang's 'I can bake'. Made as a supper snack for cell group members after bible study.

The cake turned out very soft and moist. But unfortunately, the bunch of bananas I got from my MIL were not the right type of bananas, so its not as fragrant as it should be. Lesson learnt, do not use the 'kek leng gio' or translated 'Indian banana' for baking.

Recipe adapted from Agnes Chiang's "I Can Bake'.


180g butter/margarine (I used butter)
180g sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed coarsely
1/8 tsp banana essence, optional (I replaced with vanilla essense)
3 tbsp milk mixed with
1 tbsp lemon juice
240g flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

2 ripe bananas, sliced
1/2 lime

1. Shift flour with baking powder and baking soda, set aside
2. Cream butter and sugar till light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
3. Mix in mashed bananas, essence, sour milk and flour until well combined
4. Pour into greased pan or muffin cups
5. Sqeeze lime over bananna slices. Arrange banana slices over top of cake
6. Bake at 180 degree celcius for about 20-25 minutes until cooked and golden brown

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fondant Ribbon Roses

I'd like to show you two very simple ways of making fondant roses. These are called ribbon roses. I use them very often in my cake decorations as they are very easy to make and really enhances the aesthetics of a cake.

I've used them on the wheels of the carriage cake and the plaque on the present cake.

First, you tint some fondant with colour.

I use Wilton gel colours. Use a little toothpick to transfer the colour. Knead the fondant till the colour is uniform.

Take a small ball of fondant. Roll it into hotdog shape. Use a small rolling pin to roll it flat. Then trim the sides.

Roll it up. Make sure to slant it just slightly as you roll it. For the tiny rose that I made, I only need half of that length. Then use your finders to slightly open the folds.

Another method, my prefered method, involves folding the fondant strip prior to rolling. The resultant rose has more rounded edges. In my opinion, a softer, more gentle look.

So, which one do you prefer?