And it has come to this point of the year to reflect on how 2014 has treated me.
I was reflecting on this year the other night and I could only think of 1 word to describe 2014. Crazy. As in insane, mental. Why you might say… Let me take you through the crazy happenings…
I was a slave towards my national examinations. I conquered it. It was so surreal to be doing my last paper a few months. I have been working extremely hard for the examinations and now, it’s over.
This blog. Who on earth would ever think Pei Gee would start a blog? Not me, but look at me now! Over 50 posts and I am still enjoying writing to you.
I have challenged myself to things I have never done before. For example, going on a 5 km marathon. I doubt there would be more of such thing… Going on a personal trip to a foreign country without my family. I will talk more this trip in 2015. So look forward for it! 😀
Lastly, it was all the energy and strength my family and friends gave that was insane. My family, whom I did not spend much time with when I was busy due to my examinations, took time off from their very cramped schedule for vacations and trips.
And from Friends! The unproductive study days… But we did have some fun times as well… The absolute fun.
I guess 2014 have been pretty awesome to me! I hope 2015 will tune it up a little because I am turning 18! I do not know what 2015 would bring me but I hope it would bring everyone good health and happiness. Thank you to all those who have stayed by my side and cheered me on when times are tough. To me to you, Have a blessed 2015, Be Positive, Stay Healthy and Happy. Happy New Year.
So I would love to share with you, my lovely viewers, my top 10 moments of 2014!
Please note that these events are not by orders of the best moments. These are just moments that have developed great meanings to me.
Selling about a dozen or 2 red-velvet cupcakes. With cream cheese frosting! Winks*
Making tiramisu with my darling sister…
Trying out brand new recipes! Especially the chocolate crinkle cookies!
Jumping on the hotel bed! Hehehehehe!!!!
Meeting Gordon Ramsay…
Getting a handmade painting from my lovely sister as a birthday gift.
Watching Mama Mia live! It was an incredible show, just like how I expected it to be, but better!
Watching dolphins swim and jump in their very own habitat amazes me. I was really lucky to be able to experience such sight.
To be able to gain my parents trust and to have them approve of my trip to Cambodia without them. It was a very huge step for them and for me.
Last but not least, baking a log cake is no longer foreign to me. I have broken the spell of not having homemade log cake for Christmas!
Well, I hope you have enjoyed my sharing on the best moments of 2014. There would be a conclusion post of 2014 tomorrow, New Year’s Eve. It’s been such a wonderful year and I can’t wait for 2015 to be fruitful and productive. Till the next time, Ciao~
Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! It is finally Christmas! Did everyone got what they wished for? I hope you did. Oh! And for my final gift to you is the Yule log cake. What’s Christmas without a good old-fashioned log cake? So, let’s get to it!
It is my very first time at attempting a log cake. I am afraid yet excited because on my previous attempts of whipping cream, I split it and it was undesirable. So for this year, I took a huge courageous step and agreed to bake a log cake.
The very first basic item in a log cake is the sponge! I baked chocolate sponge as the cream would be fresh cream. I was questioning myself whether to sift the flour and cocoa powder as the recipe did not mention about sifting. I just went ahead with sifting and while I mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, there were bits and pieces of flour incorporated. I was pretty troubled by that fact. But, I still pour the batter into my baking tray laid with baking paper and pop it into the oven.
After the sponge was done, moving onto the whipped cream. So my anxiety started working up. While my mixer was whipping the cream, I kept calming myself and told myself that there’s another bottle of cream in the fridge if this failed. I eyed the cream like a hawk till it was fluffy and had stiff peaks. Phew… Thank God I attained it! I spreaded onto the sponge and roll them up and place them into the fridge while I do the chocolate ganache.
I was probably too generous with the whipped cream as it overflowed when I was rolling them… 😀
Next! My sweet sweet chocolate ganache! I was very thrilled to be getting to this step because I always watch people on television do it and now, I finally got a chance to try it. Making chocolate ganache requires hot boiling cream over chopped chocolate. One thing I was terrified was overcooking the cream. If I overcooked the cream, it would split and again, it would be undesirable. So I kept my eyes on the cream till I notice it bubble a little at the sides and I immediately took the pot off the stove and pour it onto the chocolates.
I whisked them to mix, then I let it cool a little before pouring onto the cake.
I really had an amazing time baking this cake! It was simple, fun and pretty overwhelming! But it’s all good!
And let me put you out of your agony and present to you the recipe!
“Buche De Noel” – Yule Log (Serves 12)
Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Butter, for the pan
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)
Heat oven to 350. Butter a 9×13 jelly roll pan and line with parchment; butter the parchment. I used a silicone mat.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat the egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until light yellow, 3-4 minutes.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (with clean beaters) on medium-high until foamy, 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, 2-3 minutes or more.
Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Gradually fold in the dry ingredients. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the surface. Bake until the cake springs back lightly when pressed, 8-10 minutes (mine actually took about 12). Cool.
Whip the heavy cream, sour cream, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until stiff peaks form, 1-2 minutes.
Spread the whipped cream on the cake, leaving a 2-inch border along one of the short ends. Starting at the other short end, roll up the cake toward the uncovered border (letting the parchment fall away as you roll…I actually took off the silicone mat prior to this moment). Place the cake seam-side down on a serving platter. Drizzle with chocolate ganache over the top (recipe to follow). Let set for 5 minutes. Run the tines of afork through the ganache to create “bark.” (“Buche de Noel” is French for “Yule log”).
Hands on time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes 1/2 cup
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Bring the cream to a boil in a small pot. Do not over-cook. Remove from heat, add the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk to combine. Cool slightly before using.
(I used the recipe from Meaningful Mama, Buche De Noel Yule Log Recipe from Real Simple. http://meaningfulmama.com/2013/11/buche-de-noel-yule-log-recipe-real-simple.html)
Alright! There you have it! My very last recipe of this Christmas series. I sincerely wish that you have enjoyed them all because it was such a great pleasure to be baking for this holiday season.
Have a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Wishing you all the best in the year ahead. Till the next time, Ciao~ Ho Ho Ho… 😀
Anndddd… It’s Christmas Eve!!!! One more day to Christmas! I have been waiting all year for this season! As you can see, Christmas is my favourite season. I get to eat really yummy food, receive and give presents to love ones and this year, I contributed a little in the food department. And so, it brings me to my forth recipe for my Christmas series! Apple Pie!
I actually do not have a valid reason for doing apple pie for this festive season. I just felt like it’s right to eat apple pie this season! I am a random thinker!
Like my previous Christmas recipes, this includes spices as well! It includes cinnamon and nutmeg. Both ingredients I believe is vital for the apple filling.
I was a little worried with this recipe because of the crust. It needs to be worked quickly as I could not get my fats melted. Unfortunately, the butter did melted a little while I was mixing it with the dry ingredients. I was pretty bummed by that, however, I continued despite the probability of having a less flaky crust. Overall, I have to say I managed to acquire a rather flaky crust and sweet and sour apple filling!
I first made the dough for the crust as they needed resting. I used my own hands for the dough as I did not have a blender.
After I pop the dough into the fridge, I moved onto the apple filling! I realised that I should not slice the apples too thinly because you would not have that fulfilling crunch after your pie is baked.
Then! It’s time to assemble the pie! A note to all- Do not be tempted to pour the juices from the apple fillings onto the assembled pies as during baking, the apples are going to extract juices out as well. So it is not wise to pour the juices from the apple fillings mixture.
I brushed the top with egg wash to give it a golden colour after baking!
And after 50 minutes! Viola!
My crust recipe and apple filling recipe are not from the same source. I thought that I could be a bit more curious and search more for different recipes!
Apple Pie recipe!
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or replace with all-purpose flour or a combo)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick frozen butter
4-5 tablespoons ice water
Pulse together the flour, sugar and salt in the basin of a food processor. Pulse just a few times to get it nice and mixed up. Don’t have a food processor? That’s cool, just whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Using a sharp knife, cut your frozen butter into small pieces. It takes a little bit of elbow grease to cut through solid-frozen butter, but keeping the butter cold is what makes the crust nice and flaky. If you prefer, you can cut unfrozen butter into chunks and then freeze those chunks.
Add the cut-up frozen butter to the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles the texture of small pebbles. Don’t worry about getting all the butter chopped up evenly. It’s more important for your butter to stay frozen than it is for the butter to be perfectly distributed. If you are doing this by hand, you’ll need to go at the butter/flour mixture with a pastry blender or two butter knives, cutting in the butter until it’s the size of small pebbles. Work quickly (and in a cool space if you can) you don’t want that butter to warm up.
Working a tablespoon at a time, add in the ice water and pulse the food processor until combined. After each addition, grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze it together. When it stays together without crumbling (it usually takes about four tablespoons for me) you are done. If you are doing this by hand, follow the same method, except whisk vigorously between each tablespoon of water.
Yay! Your pie crust dough is done. Woohoo! Now dump the crumbly meal onto a clean work surface and, using your hands, form into a solid lump, then into a disc. Work as quickly as possible because the heat in your hands will melt the butter (which, as we’ve established, is a no-no). The disc doesn’t have to be perfect.
Wrap up the disc in plastic wrap and stash in the fridge. It’ll need to rest in there for about an hour before you roll it out. If you’re in a rush, you can stick it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
6 medium apples (I used granny smith apples)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Peel the skins off the apples and slice apples into small bite-size pieces
Add to the apples one cup dark brown sugar, two tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Mix well.
After mixing, your apple pie filling will look like this. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator while you make your pie dough.
I baked my apple pies at 200 degree celsius for 50 minutes.
There you go! My forth recipe for this Christmas series. I am getting this bittersweet feeling that I have one recipe left for this series. I wish that you would highly anticipate the final recipe for this Christmas series. And I hope that you have enjoyed my previous three recipes for this Christmas series. Till the next time, Ciao~
Firstly I would like apologize for not blogging for a week as I was in Cambodia, therefore it made it rather difficult to blog. But anyway ever since I am back in Singapore, I have been baking for my third recipe for the Christmas series! And this time, it’s bread!
Whenever I think of Christmas, it’s the spices that always reminds me of this festive season! Did you notice that my previous Christmas recipes are spice related? You somehow could see my love for spice this season! So for today, we are using cinnamon!
Many of my friends dislike the smell and taste of cinnamon. Maybe that’s why I am different. 😀 I love the aroma of cinnamon and the taste! I would drool buckets when I encounter a bakery which sells cinnamon buns! Unfortunately it is very tough to find a bakery in Singapore which sells cinnamon buns… Therefore, I baked my own!
I wanted something different and festive related. So I took advantage of Mr. Google and Pinterest. I found many recipe that have wreath bread roll. They consist mainly the savory types, which was not my ideal choice. Then I scrolled along and found this cinnamon wreath bread. It seems rather simple and less complicated. And so, I decided to bake that.
First and foremost, I prepared my dry active yeast first, because if things got wrong, I could do this step again. I poured 3 and a half teaspoon of yeast into lukewarm milk. It really has to be lukewarm as it might not activate the yeast if the milk is too hot or too cold. I let it sit for a few minutes and let the magic happens. It was such a fascinating sight, looking how the yeast bubbled and prove.
Okay! Next, I mixed my dry ingredients with my wet.
Then, I kneaded. This is the tough process. I think I might have gotten a little muscles on my arm.
The ball of dough needs to be covered and rested in a warm area for about an hour. Then, after an hour, it was time to roll.
After the rolling, I spreaded soften butter on the dough.
The next few steps happened so quickly that I did not have time to capture the moments. The following steps are to sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture onto the dough. Then roll it into a log. Then I cut the roll into 2, without cutting the top. Therefore you would get an attached dough with 2 tentacles.
After, I have cut the dough, I twisted each side and made a cris-cross interwinding them and then, brought 2 ends together to make a wreath! I heavily greased my baking tray before I place the wreath roll onto it.
Then pop it into the oven to do its thing!
The sweet taste of sugar and cinnamon filled my kitchen and yes, I started drooling!
And, before looking at the end product, I do have something to confess. I have baked the bread for a little too long, resulting some burnt bits on the bread. I was pretty upset and I will make sure I will never make such a mistake again.
So a note to all! Keep an eye on your bread constantly and do not let it burn…
Without further ado, Here’s the Cinnamon wreath bread roll recipe!
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
1 envelope active dry yeast or 0.6 Oz
1/8 cup melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
4-5 tbsp sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
Mix the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm milk and let it sit a few minutes while the yeast bubbles and foams up.
Add the egg yolk, the melted butter, the flour and the salt, then knead the dough and shape into a ball.
Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, then cover and place in a warm space and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Preheat oven to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm.
Spread the melted butter across all of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Roll up the dough, and using a knife, cut the log in half length-wise.
Twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed as described in the photo tutorial. Give a round shape, then transfer to a baking tray (buttered or covered with cookie sheet).
Top the remaining butter and sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit after 5-10 minutes to stop it burning. Top with icing sugar mixed with water if you want, just sprinkle some sugar, or eat it like this.
(I found this recipe through Pinterest, from a blog which includes many party ideas. http://ideas-am.blogspot.sg/2013/05/braided-cinnamon-wreath.html)
I realised that I need a lot of practice with bread making and I am certainly willing to give bread making more time and effort to craft out a simple, yet perfect bread.
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this post, because even though I burnt part of my bread, I did enjoy my time while making this bread. There are 2 more recipes left to this Christmas series and I wish that you have enjoyed the previous ones and anticipate the last few. Till the next time, Ciao~
Welcome back to my second recipe for this festive season! I am very excited to share with you this recipe because it is easy, fun and simple. So let’s get started!
I was pretty excited for this recipe because my Dad always talks about how delicious my Aunt’s fruitcake was. Therefore I decided to do fruit cake as it is a festive cake and filled with dried fruits soaked in rich brandy!
This recipe took me about 3 to 4 days as there are a few ingredients that needed that extra attention. So lets begin with the items that needed more attention.
The original recipe did not add this following ingredient, however I went through other fruit cake recipes to see the ingredients they added, and I came to a conclusion that I want to be more adventurous and changed the original recipe. The extra ingredient I added was mixed peel.
I believe mixed peel could be bought, however I could not find any in my local supermarket, so I made my own. I made my mixed peel 2 days before baking the fruit cake as it requires time to dry and cook the peels.
Firstly, I shredded the skin of 8 orange and 8 green and yellow lemons. This may seem a lot, but after I finished shredding all of the fruits, the skin only weigh 200 grams. While shredding the peels, be careful of your fingers as cuts are bound to happen.
After all fruits are stripped, I cut them into smaller pieces.
Then, I transfer all my peels into a pot, ready to boil. Water must be filled to cover the peel. After the peels are left to simmer for about 10 minutes, I poured the water away. By then, the aroma of the oranges and lemon were heavenly. I then, repeated the step of boiling the peels again, for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I poured half the liquid away and added another half cup of fresh water into the pot and about 1 cup sugar. Then I left to simmer. After the sugar is dissolved and boiled, I covered the pot and let it sit for the night. After a night’s rest, the following afternoon, I again poured another half cup of sugar into the pot and let the sugar to be dissolved. When my sugar is dissolved and the liquid is simmering, I drained the peels and scattered them on a baking tray and let them naturally dry for about a day.
(I gathered the instructions for my mixed peels from Wonderland Kitchen, Just Like Candy: #DIY Mixed Peel. http://wonderlandkitchen.com/2013/11/just-like-candy-diy-mixed-peel/ ) Note that I did not use her measurements, I only followed her instructions and went with my gut with the measurements!
Next ingredient that require attention are the brandy soaked mixed fruits! It is very very very simple. Just 2 easy steps! However, it takes days for the brandy to be soaked into the mixed fruits.
And finally…. Here comes the time to bake! There is actually not much to say because the cake batter is a basic butter cake recipe, whereby you cream the butter and sugar, adding the eggs one at a time and the vanilla essence. After all the wet ingredients are incorporated, I sifted the flour and baking powder into the wet. Folding them into the wet ingredients gently. Then I added the spices. Okay, I have to admit I did cheat a little for the spice mix. I did not have mace powder, dry ginger powder and clove powder, so I used half teaspoon of five spice powder, together with cinnamon and nutmeg powder. Yes, guilty as charged!
After my spices are added, I took huge ladlefuls of soaked mixed fruits and pour it in the cake batter. I threw my mixed peel in as well. I took about 5 to 6 ladleful of mixed fruits and mixed it in my batter first. I could add more after if I see there is a need to increase the amount. In the end, I added about 8 to 9 ladleful of mixed fruits into the cake batter.
Looking at my batter and seeing that all fruits are properly coated with batter, I poured them into loaf tins that I greased and covered with baking paper, I also cover the loaf tin with aluminium foil to prevent the top of the cake to burn. Then I popped them into the oven for about 2 hours at 160 degree celsius, rotating them every 30 minutes.
Then…. All good things come to those who wait. After 2 gruesome hours, I took out the fruit cake and uncover the aluminium foil to check if the cake has been cooked throughout with a wooden skewer. The skewer came out clean! I quickly took out the loaf tins and poked a few holes into the cake and pour little teaspoon of brandy onto the cake, to allow the cake to absorb the alcohol. The fruit cake smelt heavenly and tasted chewy and spongy! I loved the texture of the cake, however the colour of the cake was not as brown as I expected it to be.
Recipe for the Fruit Cake!
(My fruit cake recipe is from Scratching Canvas, A Tale of Taste Test; Old Fashioned Rich and Moist Christmas Fruit Cake. http://www.scratchingcanvas.com/2013/12/Old-Fashioned-Rich-Moist-Christmas-Fruitcake.html)
I truly enjoyed making this fruitcake, even though it took 2 more days more than other cakes, however I had fun and it made me realise a couple of things.
Good things do come to those who wait. The hours peeling the fruits and the waiting time for the cake. Well, baking is all about the patience.
I cannot use shortcuts. I had to give my all in every component of the cake and then, I would be rewarded.
And… I have come to the end of the second recipe for my Christmas series! I hope you have enjoyed reading and it would be lovely if you tried it too. It was an exciting and fulfilling process while baking this fruit cake. Till the next time for the third recipe, Ciao~
On my previous post, “Hello November!”, I mentioned that I would be doing a series of Christmas recipes, however these recipes are based on my preference of taste and flavour for Christmas.
So I am very excited to be sharing my very first Christmas recipe with you and I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I do! So without further ado, my very first recipe to the Christmas series are Lemon-Rosemary cookies.
I associated this recipe to Christmas because of the herb. Rosemary. They are one of my favourite herb to use in cooking. And now, I am able to use them in my baking! And herbs remind me so much of Christmas, especially rosemary, cinnamon and nutmeg. Another reason why I chose this recipe is because it’s a cookie recipe. During this season, cookies such as gingerbread cookies are so popular. And I thought ‘why not do a cookie but not gingerbread flavoured…’ So without hesitation, I searched for cookies recipe and decided to use this one.
It is a fairly simple recipe and a kid-friendly one as well. The children could help you cut out the shapes of the cookies and you could bond with them at the same time.
The very basic rule to my bakings is that I lay out all the ingredients I need.
Next I would measure them. I left about 4 big tablespoon of extra flour aside in a bowl to dust my cookies later. Oh! And leave about 3 big teaspoon of extra sugar to coat the cookies before placing them into the oven.
I firstly cream the butter and sugar. As the recipe asked for melted butter, I believe if you have room temperature butter, it would do perfectly fine as well. As long as the butter is soft. I added my egg yolks,milk and lemon juice after the butter mixture was well mixed. Noted that it is fine if you want to add more lemon juice to make the cookies more lemony as the end product of my cookies did not have a very distinct lemon taste. Secondly, I added my flour and minced rosemary into the mixture. I also believed you could add more rosemary if you would like to have a distinct rosemary flavour. They were fragrant and at that point of time, I started getting excited for this cookies.
After I added my flour and rosemary, I mixed them using a fork. You could use your hands if you prefer! Then I covered the dough after they have come together, and let it rest in the fridge. If you feel that the dough is still wet and soft, do not worry as the dough would harden after the rest in the refrigerator.
I then prepared my worktop to roll the dough when the dough is resting. And I took out my cookie cutter to get it ready to cut the dough into shapes. I bought the cookie cutter in Ikea. It is cute and cheap and the shapes are all in festive, so it attracted me.
When the dough is ready, I took it out and roll it flat for cutting.
Then I brushed them with egg wash on the surface and sprinkle caster sugar before popping them into the oven. TADA! The end product!
There were minor issues with this recipes as I did not expect the texture of the cookies to be like shortcrust pastry texture. It did not give a very pleasant mouth-feel however I did taste rosemary but not much of the lemon. It is highly possible I might have messed up a step, so therefore I would try again next time to improve this recipe.
Interested in the recipe? Read below!
Rosemary Lemon Cookies
50g unsalted butter (melted)
70g granulated sugar
4 tsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 180C (350 F)
In a mixing bowl, beat 50g melted butter and 70g of granulated sugar with a hand mixer or whisk until creamy.
Add 4 tsp lemon juice, 1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp of milk into the butter mixture then beat again until well mixed.
Add 2 tsp of minced rosemary and 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour, then mix together using hands or wooden spoon or fork, but eventually your hands, shape into a ball. Wrap the cookie dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
On lightly floured cloth-covered surface, roll each 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutter to your desired shapes.
Slightly whisk egg white and brush onto cookie dough, then sprinkle sugar on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until bottom is light brown.
I found this recipe on a app called ‘Sweet Baking’.
I hope you have enjoyed this recipe because I had fun making them. Do look out for the next Christmas recipe coming out next week! Stay tune… Till the next time, Ciao~