Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Carious: Yule Log Cake

Oops. I'm late. But there's 12 days of Christmas right? So..

Merry Christmas! =D May the coming year be filled with joy and love. And plenty of wealth and cake!

So I was wondering what to make for Christmas and was pretty much bombarded with suggestions - Kueh Lapis, Nine-Layer Kueh, Ondeh Ondeh, Gingerbread, Puddings and Souffle. Then, I chanced upon THIS GOLD MINE. Now with that beautiful step by step tutorial and an enticing picture, who can resist? I love JoePastry. Reads that website every other day for inspiration and of course, tutorials. Do check it out guys!

Since the trivia for yule log cake is up on JoePastry's site, I'm gonna talk something more Dental. Oh well you know what I'm studying, right? ;)

Apparently, chocolate can help protect your teeth from tooth decay. *throws confetti and ignites fireworks* The cocoa oil coats the teeth and forms a sort of protective layer on the teeth, thus conferring some protection against bacterial attack. Of course chocolate bars contain sugar and all so it will still encourage some bacterial growth and other health related ailments such as obesity so it's good to eat in moderation. Or go really dark as dark chocolate has less sugar. Then again of course that is no reason to stuff yourself with chocolate and avoid cleaning your teeth altogether.

All the things you need to know about each component is on his website, including clarified butter. Omg clarified butter. I can't get enough of that stuff. No really, its right up THERE in my list of loves.

I didn't get a picture of the inside though cause my lovely camera decided to go on strike. Urgh. The lens couldn't retract! URGH!

Anyway, I've filled my cake with salted caramel cream cheese filling. I had extra salted caramel cream cheese filling from my macaron adventure e other time so those came in handy. The recipe is from HERE!.

For the chocolate ganache, I didn't go the 1 - 1 cream-chocolate ratio because I didn't have a weighing scale. I just used my whole 300g bag of chocolate with 200ml of cream. Better to have more chocolate than less! And woah, was the decision good. The chocolate ganache was the talk of everyone who tasted it. Yums.

I haven't got a mixer then so I whisked the eggs and sugar with my bare hands for a good half an hour. OMG. Changed locations and positions and grips and hands so many times just to relieve the ache. Gah. But the product was worth it. OH SO WORTH IT.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D

1) Check the measurements of your pan. I had a smaller 12 x 15 pan so I shrunk the recipe to a 4 egg one. Joe's recipe makes for a pretty long log.

2) Clarifying butter - don't pour the hot butter through a nylon sieve. Gah. Melted a big hole in mine. Yikes. I didn't have the stuff that he recommended to sieve the hot oil so I just skimmed the top for the browned butter than I needed.

3) Remember to check out his jelly roll tutorial to see how to prepare the sponge. It really helps with the shape of the cake.

4) I poured the ganache all over the chilled cake and then chilled the entire cake again for 5mins. I then scraped the chocolate from the plate and swiped it all over the cake. It worked pretty well for me. Alternatively, I guess we could chill the ganache and then spread it like nutella but I'd prefer pouring it all over cause the sponge is pretty delicate and breaks easily.

Other than that, I think imma gonna make a log cake every year now. =D

Merry Christmas guys! Love u all! =) Stay safe!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hypertension: Coronary Cinnamon Rolls

Oh. My. Goodness.

I never really loved butter because it's so bad for you. But after baking this batch of babies, I think I reached Nirvana. Or rather, a state of reckless and injudicious consumption of butter because it was That Darn Good.

I actually ate 75% of what I made. Usually, 75% goes to giving the people around me but this golden recipe, got me so hooked I was downing them one at a time, and pretty quickly too at that.

These are the Best Cinnamon Rolls by Pioneer Woman. Honestly, I prefer coronary but hey, I didn't come up with this recipe. And man was she right that this IS the best. The dough is amazingly fluffy, chewy and had the perfect bite.

I woke up especially early that day to bake this cinnamon rolls for my family for breakfast and gosh, the amount of butter was SO MUCH that the cleanup was a total nightmare. I was so grumpy but the first bite of the cinnamon roll calmed me down instantly. The second took me right out of this galaxy.

PW posted a perfect step by step tutorial and pictures and shared her notes and tips on making this beauty piece of art. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D

1) I went ahead with a whole cup of butter as per her recipe and found that it WAS way too much. I am planning on making them again but with olive oil this time cause my house has simply too many bottles of EVOO. Shall see how it goes. The amount of melted butter is directly proportional to the mess that was made. I was also considering whipping the butter with cinnamon and sugar and then spreading it unto the dough so that it'll be cleaner to handle than melted butter. Shall try THAT method out too.

2) Give them ample room. I grabbed the nearest tray and it was simply too small but I squeezed them in like sardines. In the end, they expanded out of the tray and I had butter EVERYWHERE. Like, EVERYWHERE. Also, the shapes didn't look that good after it has risen UPWARDS instead of proofing sideways.

3)Refrigerate the dough. Really. Makes rolling it out seem like child's play.

As what I'd always say - share the love, share the calories. I'm definitely making you babies again soon...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Carious: Durian Strudel

Durian oh durian. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

With a butter knife

With a fork.

With a standard measuring tablespoon, whilst measuring the number of tablespoons the bowl contain.

mm. six tablespoon of durian in bowl.
mmm. one for me..
mmm. seven tablespoon of durian in bowl.
mm. one for me.....

With a pair of chopsticks..

With the good ol' finger of course.

Or sandwiched between 2 totally awesome homemade puff pastry and mixed with a simple yet divine crème pâtissière.

There's something funky about this strudel. From my limited knowledge, this version of strudel (between 2 puff pastry and served cold) came from Perth and hence, is an "Australian" Strudel (usually apple filling. The durian is kinda local). The German strudel is served hot. It basically looks like a cinnamon roll, except that it's a flour pastry rolled thinly and then rolled around the filling (usually apple).

A totally awesome Desheng gave me 2 packets of these gold nuggets. Desheng's Dad has a shop at 231 East Coast Road. He is hell famous too and is probably considered as the authority on Mao Shan Wang durian. Personally, this is my favorite stall to get durians because Mr Wong is knowledgeable, supplies only the quality ones, and at an affordable price too! Ok lah he also gives me a discount. Muahahaha.

Terrible. I only got 2 packets and I've already finished one while eating andmaking the durian strudel. JIALAT. I. Need. To. Ration.

Durian is rich in sugar, potassium and estrogen. Also high in fats and protein. The durian flower is pollinated almost exclusively by bats. And some dude in Thailand has crossbred durians to produce a fruit that doesn't emit a pungent smell.
From Wikipedia of course!

And not to forget that durian is awesome and that fragrance is totally Hugo Boss standards.

Caries warning!
Caries is a dental disease that affects the tooth and results in cavitation (needing fillings and operation). It is encouraged by foods with sugar as it provides a source of nutrition. Drink frequent sips of water between meals to wash the food debris away!

Recipe for the puff pastry and the Crème Pâtissière

The technique of laminating dough is explained here beautifully, with step by step pictures.

Crème Pâtissière!

I just love copy-pasting typing Crème Pâtissière. Makes me feel French. Crème Pâtissière. Crème Pâtissière. Crème Pâtissière. pfft.

I doubled the recipe this time cause I was pinching making a lot of stuff with the cream. Wheeee.

2 cup milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tbsp cornflour
1 good pinch salt (only if not adding butter, or using unsalted butter)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, for additional shine and firmness

Throw the eggs, sugar, 25% of the milk and vanilla and whisk it up!

Sieve in the cornstarch while whisking so that the starch is incorporated into the egg mixture nicely. I've made this recipe thrice and the first 2 times, I ended up with lumpy creme because I threw all the corn starch in together.

Scald the rest of the milk (heating the milk till it's JUST about to boil but not bubbling boiling like mad) and then pour it into the mixture slowly while rapidly stirring the egg mixture to temper it (raise the temperature and semi cook it). Then chuck the mixture unto the stove and cook it at MEDIUM HIGH. Don't be afraid to turn up the temperature to medium high. Just keep stirring and stirring and stirring. It'll thicken when it's almost boiling and the thickening process happens in like literally 10 seconds. So it'll be a watery mixture and suddenly, it'll start thickening and within 10 seconds, you'll get the custard! Then take it off the heat and cool it (or you can keep it on the stove until the custard cools down).

Throw in 2 tablespoons of butter (30g) for extra calories firmness and shine and TADAH. Pot of yummy finger dipping awesome crème pâtissière.

I didn't take pictures of the dough though cause my hands were all doughy but just read both sites and watch this guy do it.

So the puff pastry is supposed to be baked at 210 deg celsius (in a thoroughly preheated oven) for 20 minutes or until golden brown. I usually brush the top with melted butter and sugar mixture for it to crisp up and look shiny.

For durian strudel, mix 2 parts of durian to 1 part crème pâtissière (my personal preference although I suspect shops only have 1 part durian to 3 part crème pâtissière. Well, let's just say I arrived at this conclusion after much experimentation. *licks the spoon*

For assembly, start with the puff pastry.

Plonk the durian custard unto the pastry, and lick the utensils clean.

Put the top layer on while pinching some custard..

And of course, a healthy amount of icing sugar.

The strawberry strudel variation. Just put strawberries and custard cream instead..

The apple version. The apples gotta be cooked with a little olive oil first until it is softened, but still firm. Then, sugar is added until desired sweetness. You know it's overcooked if it's mushy and gets smashed easily by a spoon. ;)

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) The puff pastry. That has to be the number 1 pressure point. If your pastry fail, you can only serve your custard in a cup. What I've learnt from making this pastry is that the whole process must be cold. The dough must be refrigerated and worked on when it's cold. The butter must be cold. The folding of the dough must be quick and cold hence, only 1 fold is done every 30minutes. It's extremely time consuming, so make a HUGE batch to last you for a while because the satisfaction of scoffing at a pack of frozen instant puff pastry is indescribable. If it ain't cold, the butter will not be layered properly and your resultant pastry will not rise as beautifully, as is what happened in my first attempt. That's why I prepared the pastry at night too. Give it the rest and temperature that it needs, and you'll be rewarded with puff pastry that makes you grin from ear to ear.

2) Roll the puff pastry out (I rolled it out to like 1mm thickness) and then pinch the sides of the pastry. I found that it helped with the rising of puff pastry because puff pastry depends on the steam created when the butter is cooked at 200 deg to rise (and that's why you NEED the thoroughly preheated oven).

3) Refrigerate the strudel after assembly so that the custard can firm up. It helps with the cutting of the strudel so that it would not end up in a thorough mess.

4) Brush off the excess flour from the pastry when you dust the table as the flour will affect the rising of the pastry.

5) Do not apply too much pressure while rolling the pastry because it'll break up the layers. Imagine about 700 layers in about 1mm of pastry. Now that is delicate stuff. Apply pressure evenly also so that the layers would not break up.

Now please, go make some awesomeness that is Australian strudel and give yourself a psychological orgasm.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Carious: Kelly's Brownies

I've made brownies about 5 times so far. At my 4th, I just give up in despair because seriously, Betty Crocker is so much better and I just can't figure out where I was going wrong.

how to get that perfect fudgey-cakey balance with a rich chocolatey taste?! arrrrghhhhhhhhh

Then, Kelly came.


It's THAT good.

Brownies also mean a division within girl guides that organizes birthdays and stuff. They even have Brownie pledges! o.O
From Wikipedia of course!

I could imagine my brownie pledge already.

I, Distracted-Student
Pledge to make these brownies once a month
and never to forget to fold in my crushed walnuts into the batter.

Yes... I crushed a handful of walnuts and totally left them out of the batter. Sigh.. Too busy licking the spoon I reckon..

Caries warning!
Drink plenty of water after having sweet foods to reduce the help alleviate the lowering of the pH in the mouth.

Recipe from Kelly!

As usual, I shrunk my recipe to a smaller one, 1 egg recipe. I like my brownies thin and slightly crisp too, like a softer-than-soft cookie. What am I talking about?! Blahh.

80g dark chocolate (+ extra handful to scatter in the batter)
40g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (I used coarse cane sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
handful of roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180deg Celsius.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over boiling water, stirring occasionally until it has completely melted. I chucked it into a steamer though cause I was steaming some dumplings at the same time. Worked out fine too..

Beat the sugar, butter and vanilla together until thick and creamy. I used coarse sugar and it was an interesting experimental result! Not all of the sugar dissolved because it's really coarse. I ended up with hits of sugar crystals that made it just a tad crunchy. Yums...

Beat in the egg until incorporated.

Chuck in all the dry ingredients and the melted chocolate and stir! Now after the batter is formed, FOLD in whatever else you want to be in your brownie.. M'ms, peanut butter, chocolate buttons, WALNUTS, dried fruits.. Whatever that floats your boat! For me, the best complement to chocolate is, MORE chocolate. I'd have chuck in more chocolate pieces if I had any at hand. SIGH!

Accidentally get some batter unto your fingers! Oh the batter is thick THICK, like, spreadable thick. It won't flow around so don't expect it to..! =)

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the brownie comes away from the side of the tin. For the poking stick test, it should still have some small bits of batter clinging on to it i.e. it shouldn't come out CLEAN.

I used a 20cm by 5cm tin so my brownie was thin, the way I love it to be for my waistline too but alas..

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) Well, use the best chocolate bar and chocolate powder you've got/can afford. Seriously the difference is insane. I've actually bought a few good quality chocolate bars (Green and Black, Valrhona) JUST for my private brownie perusal those I won't share.. because the taste of the brownie is really just the quality of the melted chocolate. So, pick a good one!

2) Lick the batter before you put it into the oven.

3) Don't overbake brownies. It's amazing how a few minutes can change a moist brownie to a dry crumbly one. Been there twice, I'm ashamed to say.

4) There's nothing much about brownies, really, except just remember to share the love, and share the calories!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hypertension: Cauliflower Puree

So I woke up at 12noon with a growling stomach. Truth be told, this is one of my earlier days.

noon only?! geez people WHAT are you all doing awake?!

I rocked up to the fridge and found bits and pieces of food stuff here and there, including this tiny portion of cauliflower. Might as well, I suppose. Some trial and error cooking for 1 won't hurt anyone! =D

1 bowl of cauliflower
1 cup of milk
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small brown onion
25g of butter
pinch of salt
pinch of ground bay leaves
pinch of pepper

The ham and cheese toast was just, well, you know... =D

Hypertension warning
Hypertension is the medical condition whereby there is increased blood pressure in the individual. It could be caused by too much salt, cholesterol, alcohol and stuff like that. Just remember to have those stuff in moderation and maintain a healthy lifestyle i.e. exercise regularly! =D

There are actually other colors for cauliflowers! There's orange, green and even purple cauliflowers. Like woah. And Orange cauliflowers are supposed to contain 25 times more Vitamin A than the white ones, which is good for the eye. Cauliflowers themselves are packed with truckloads of fibre, folate and anti-cancer stuff (indole-3-carbinol). But apparently boiling quickly destroys such compounds whilst other cooking methods have not much impact on the anti-cancer compounds. Oops? Now we know!

Smash the garlic with the blade of the knife and roughly cut the onions into smaller pieces. This is to release the flavor of these beautiful little things into the milk more easily.

Cut up the cauliflower into little pieces to speed up the cooking process. Com'on I'm really hungry man.

Pour the cuppa milk, onion and garlic, and cauliflower and bring them to a boil until the cauliflower softens. It'll soften in about 5 minutes? I just pressed the cauliflower against the side of the pot with the ladle and I figured that it's done when the cauliflower gets smooshed.

When it's done, stir in a comfortable amount of butter which doesn't induce too much guilt. For me, that was about 25g..

Throw in a good pinch of salt and ground bay leaves. Omg. Omg. Ground bay leaves are so awesome. It's so fragrant and goes so well with milk and cream based food. Yum.

THIS BABY, is something that all houses should have. Heck, I think the government should issue this to every single family. Seriously, it improves lives by like miles. MILES. Or if not, use a food processor and mash the whole thingum up.

Noms. I didn't strain it so there was still grainy bits, which was the texture I was going for.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) Season it well, seriously. No really, you have to put salt and pepper for it to be remotely tasty. I experimented with a index finger of salt and honestly, there was nothing. Then I just threw in a good pinch of say half a teaspoon and there was magic. However I do suppose there are alternatives, such as half a cup of parmesan cheese, which I am CERTAIN, would give it the salty kick AND the heavenly cheese-cauliflower complement.

2)I didn't strain the puree and thus ended up with a soupy texture with bits of cauliflower in it. For those we are looking for a thicker texture closer to mash potato, just strain the puree and use the filtrand.

3) I do suppose other herbs such as cloves would bring more kick to the recipe but you MUST. NOT. FORGET. BAY. LEAVES.

4) I think bacon, ham and cheese are cauliflowers' best friends. Just gotta think of ways to marry them all. Hmmmmmm.... Maybe maybe fried bacon bits on sprinkled on top of the puree, after it has been folded with cheese? Till next time I suppose! =D

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Carious: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Cranberries and Pistachio

OMG YUM. Seriously, that was all I can think about when I'm eating my first slice. And the next slice. And the next. Speaking of which, I'm having another slice right now. URGH.

The cake is moist, the toasted nuts a treat, the overt amount of frosting a real sin (which frosting isn't?) and the cranberries and pistachio a visual stimulation.

Caries warning
Having sweet treats too often encourages bacteria growth and destruction of tooth enamel. Hence, it's recommended to have your sweet treats during your meal times to reduce the number of times the tooth enamel undergoes destruction.
Remember to brush and floss your teeth daily! =)

There's something really sexy about red and green that complements so well.. Case in point.


The idea of having pistachio and cranberries came from Siena, this amazing 9 year old lass from Australia's Masterchef Junior. She's the most beautiful little girl with an air of confidence that puts me to shame. Sigh, got a lot more to learn! Her dish was pheasant stuffed with cranberries and pistachio.

oo! goes well with pheasant? must go well with everything then!

Carrots were used in sweet cakes because sugar and sweeteners were expensive and not easily available and that carrots contain high levels of sugar. Besides, carrots are high in beta carotene (for retina and hence, eyesight) and Vitamin A. All good stuff.
From Wikipedia of course!
whee! *goes for another slice*

Original recipe from here.

Once again, I shrunk the recipe to 2-egg because my baking pan is small, 9 inch diameter by 2 inch height. In retrospect, it should have been 3-egg recipe for the pan AND a better cake to frosting ratio.

1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans or walnuts
1 large raw carrot, about 1 1/2 cups finely grated
1 cups (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chuck the nuts into the oven and toast them for 5 minutes. I set the heat at 180 deg C so as to preheat the oven anyway.

Finely grate the carrot and complain about the humidity in Singapore.


Throw in the cuppa flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt and sieve them into a separate bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the egg till slightly frothy/foamy and throw in the sugar. Then, take out the anger of the humidity and beat the egg till its thick and light colored (as above)

Slowly pour in the cuppa oil while whisking it. Canola oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fat so don't feel so guilty! Peanut oil on the other hand...
I've made this recipe 3 times. The first time, I cut 50% of the oil and it turned out crumbly and dry. The second time I cut away 30% of the oil and 20% of the sugar and it was still crumbly and dry because sugar is hydrophilic (water-loving) and helps in maintaining the moisture of the cake. This time, I threw in all the sugar and oil and it's nicely moist and the perfect hit on the sweet-ometer. So if you're looking for a cake lower in calories but still as good, I guess you just gotta have a smaller slice?

Then, pour in the dry ingredients and gently stir the mixture until the dry ingredients have JUST been moistened and incorporated. Don't overmix it cause the leavening (rising agents) will work too quickly and the cake will end up slightly dense and flat.

Then, toss in the nuts and grated large carrot in stir gently. And of course, the customary finger poke taste test. For best results, repeat the poke test at least 3 times. =)

Some recipes suggest putting apple sauce/apple puree/crushed pineapples to help keep the cake moist. I've put crushed pineapples into the cake before. The pineapples tasted good but I thought that there was too much going on in the cake. Nuts, carrots, pineapples, frosting. Hurhhhhh????

Bake the batter in the oiled baking pan/pan lined with baking paper at 180deg for 20 minutes or until brown and the poke of a stick comes out clean.

And now, my favorite part of every cake. THE FROSTING! Admittedly this recipe made twice as much frosting as required but I used it all on the cake anyway cause I was too lazy to find a box to store the excess. Well, if some is good, more must be better!

250g of cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups of icing sugar (I used 1/2 a cup cause I just couldn't bring myself to do 2 cups.)
1/4 cup (57grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
juice of 1/2 an orange

For a smoother frosting, whisk the butter and cream cheese together first and slowly sift in the icing sugar. But really, just chuck them all into bowl and whisk the life outta em. It'll still turn out good.

Once again, the finger poke test. For frosting, repeat it at least 5 times. =D

Green and red is ♥


Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D
1) Don't overmix the batter or else the cake will not rise. Gently fold in the carrots and nuts and quickly pour them into the pan.

2)Don't cut the oil and sugar. Instead, share the calories with your friends and make em happy. Com'on, trust Distracted Student on this.

3)Refrigerate the frosting a little if it is too runny to be spread. 10minutes will harden it up sufficiently to be spreadable. Singapore is SO HOT that my cheese and butter softened while I walked home from the supermarket 10mins away. Oh well, makes for easier whisking!

4)Don't use up all the frosting on that 2-egg recipe if you aren't a frosting junkie like me.

5) FINELY grate the carrots. There are several sizes on the grater. Choose the SMALLEST sized for grating. I used to use the larger ones and the carrot taste wasn't as strong. Not to mention, it makes the cake almost uncuttable without ruining the texture on the sides.

Now go share some love and calories! =D

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