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BLUE MARBLE BUTTER CAKE

Blue Birthday Marble Cake

 

I have done many birthday cakes as well as cakes to befit different occasions so far.

Previously when I started to make cakes on a regular basis, I did not write down or took pictures of my cakes. In the last 3 years I have started to write and take pictures at the same time for the sake of my family, friends and readers of my blog.

When I was a teenager, one of the best cakes that I have eaten was from a hotel at Orchard Road. It was for my nephew’s first birthday which was shaped as a Concord plane. It looked so real that my father wanted to pick it up and give it to my nephew to play. When the cake was being cut, my father’s finger prints were at the sides of the cake which was the body of the plane. A cake that I would have loved to replicate of course but which I never did.

I have never spent alot for my childrens’ birthdays because I always thought it was a waste of effort and money as very very young children may not know what the fuss is about.

But I agree that any occasion to bring the family and extended family and even friends is reason enough to celebrate an occasion.

I remember doing simple birthday parties for my 2 daughters when they were in kindergarten and primary schools. Yes there will be cake and food and games in my house. And because they are a little older than babies or toddlers, they are able to see the cakes and enjoy them as well. One of my favourite cake was the Humpty Dumpty Cake. I used an empty eggshell for the face of Humpty and drew his face and let him sit on a brick wall cake. These are just memories because as I said earlier no photos were taken.

But now I take pictures and write down everything about the cake so as to improve or to bake the cake again when it turns out so delicious.

One such cake is this Blue Birthday Marble Cake made specially for a senior friend of mine who loves the colour, Blue! She does not like sponge cakes or chocolate cakes and definitely not too much frosting!  So I did a marble butter cake frosted  with fresh blue whipped cream icing and blue m&m chocolate buttons.

 

 

The cake was so tasty that it finished even though we had taken a full sumptious dinner earlier!

Anyone can make this cake – I have made this cake umpteen times just for the deliciousness and each time I had received many accolades. Simple and tasty and can be decorated elegantly to suit any occasion.

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PINEAPPLE TARTS TASTES DIVINE

 

Pineapple tarts have been a firm favourite since I had helped my mum making it as a little girl. I remember rolling the pineapple jam into small marble sizes and placing them on a tray.

My mum is the person who had made such great tarts that many of her friends would come over just to get a tin. My mother never sold any food to anyone, she always gives them.   And which I do follow till today. The satisfaction of seeing someone’s joy is just immense.

And I love pineapple tarts so much that I must share this incident that may leave you dumbfounded.  It is  a true incident.

You should know if you read about me  in my home page, that my mum passed away when I was barely 18 years old.

I got married at age 23.   I was in the family way at age 27.

And guess what, I craved for my mum’s pineapple tarts, but how?

I had a dream that night, my mum who was dressed so regally knocked on my door and was holding a huge tin of pineapple tarts. I remember the tin so well – it was a 2 kg EveryDay milk powder tin.

She told me this “this is just for you, enjoy it”.

I took the tin and started eating and devouring the pineapple tarts one by one. I was so satisfied. And thanked her profusely. She smiled and went away.

When I woke up that morning, I could sense the taste of pineapple tarts in my mouth and throat.   You will understand this when you eat one too many.   I was so shocked and do you know, it was the best and till today I don’t crave it that much even though it is my favourite festive treat.

 

 

Now to the main tart itself, I have done many variations of this tart but yet to perfect the one that my mum made. She didn’t leave a recipe. So it has always been a trial and each time doing the tarts slightly differently. Yes I did have many successes along the way, and as always never wrote the recipe down. One day, my younger daughter who also loves these tarts told me that she is going to tape me while I am doing it. Which she did. That is the recipe that I have been using to make tarts for her.

As she lives in London, whenever she comes to visit me or when someone goes to London, I will pass 2 jars of pineapple tarts, one for her and another for my best friend’s daughter, Mary Laura who loves these tarts too. Mary Laura has told that my tarts are the best.

Me being always on the look out for a pineapple tart recipe, came to read about pineapple tarts in the Straits Times quite  recently and so decided to have a go with this recipe. I found the dough  very difficult to handle as it had too much butter to flour ratio. But the taste was good.

 

Today’s recipe is the adaptation from the article in the Straits times  with some modifications and  it turned out so well. You will not be disappointed with this recipe of course. So those friends of mine who have requested for the recipe, here it is. Enjoy making it and eating it too.

Both the jam and the pastry are important elements.

But to save time, you may buy the jam from reputed stores. There are some good ones, for today’s recipe I bought the premium jam and I did some modifications to suit my taste.

For the pastry, it depends on your preference, some like it crumbly, some like it crisp and soft, and some like it meltingly smooth.

The pastry that I have in this recipe is slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the inside. If you bake it a little longer maybe another 5 minutes more, it will be crisp crumbly.

My personal preference is a pastry which is crisp on the outside and soft inside, which melts in your mouth but at the same time very flavourful.

 

Pineapple tarts

INGREDIENTS

210 gm plain flour

20 gm cornflour

30 gm icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

140 gm unsalted butter – must be direct from fridge and cubed

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

I to 2 tbsp ice water if necessary.

Pineapple jam as required

METHOD for Dough

In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the ice water.

Pulse it or use low speed to get the dough together. If it does not form a ball of dough, add 1 tbsp of ice cold water. Repeat if necessary to form a nice soft dough.

Keep aside in the fridge for 15 mins to 30 mins.

Or you may roll the dough to about 0.6 cm if it is not too soft to handle and proceed to use the tart mold to cut into shapes and fill with the jam.

Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 15 mins or to your preferred pastry texture. Not more than 20 mins or your jam will become too hard.  This happens if you use store bought jam.

Remove the baked tarts to a rack to cool.

Once cooled, store in an airight jar.

This recipe makes about 40 tarts.

INGREDIENTS for Pineapple Jam

300 gm store bought premium jam

1 tsp of cinnamon powder or less

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1/2 cup to ¾ cup hot water

5 cloves

METHOD

Put all ingredients except the water in a pan to heat through till well combined. Add the water if it is too thick and  combine until you have the right ball forming consistency. If you like the taste, remove to cool and roll into 6 gm balls. Place in a tray and keep aside to be placed in each tart shell before baking.

 

Notes:

If the jam is too tangy, add soft brown sugar, a pinch of salt to counterbalance the taste.   This is only necessary if you are using store bought pineapple jam.

Alternatively you can prepare the jam by using fresh ripe pineapples. OR you can use canned pineapples.   Reduce the sugar as the canned pineapples are already very sweet, Coarsely pulse the pineapples ,add lime juice and salt , 1 tbsp of butter, cinnamon stick and cloves, cook it till it is jammy and cool to use it. Do it a few days earlier.

 

For this recipe, I took 8 gm of dough each which I rolled into a ball. Pressed my thumb into the centre and while holding, pinched it with the pinch maker all around  with my other hand.

I finished the whole process and placed them in a baking tray.

Then I placed 1 ball of pineapple jam, 6 gm each. Slowly patted the jam onto the tart base.

To make it pretty, I crinkle cut strips of thin dough or just roll strips and put a cross on each.

And some I used a mini star mould to cut the shape of a star to decorate each tart.

You may leave it out if it is too much work but then I love to do them.

For the dough, you may reduce the icing sugar or leave it out completely  if your jam is sweet enough.

It is very important to have everything cold, including the flour, butter, eggs etc.

The pastry is a short one, so it has to be cold.

SHORTBREAD BARS

 

These are english shortbread, a type of rich cookie or biscuit as it is called in asian countries.  In my early days as a child, I remember eating these cookies but it is also called butter biscuits because of the vast amount of butter used.  My mum used to do beautiful biscuits just for us kids which were  very yummy and which melted in the mouth.

Of course it was very expensive then to buy them which comes in colored round and oblong tins.  I used to reuse the tins for keeping knick knacks. These are very good too.  It is still available at very good shops.  I do buy them as gifts if I don’t have time  to prepare them myself.  But most of the time, I will prepare these shortbread bars and beautify them by putting them in beautiful art tins which becomes my signature!  And of course you know that mine is free of any chemicals or preservatives and  definitely more tasty!

So today I would like to share my recipe which I have altered a little to include flavouring and zest.  I have baked many different types of shortbread but this is one of my favorite.  It is a little finicky to do as the dough can become very soft in our hot climate.   But the hard work pays off as you will bite into a crunchy yet soft cookie when baked.  The flavor in this shortbread is just too awesome as I have used orange zest and orange extract.    You may substitute with grapefruit, lemon or just leave it out.

INGREDIENTS

 250 g plain flour

1 tbsp rice flour

220 g butter

80 g fine sugar

1 orange – zest only.

1 tsp orange extract or more if you like the flavor.

coarse sugar for sprinkiling.

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180C

Beat butter till smooth and creamy. Add sugar and continue to beat till fluffy.

Add the orange extract and the orange zest and blend well.

Slowly add in the flours and gently form a dough.

Wrap with cling wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Roll dough onto a floured surface to ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick, cut into 8cm by 2 cm or 3 inch by half inch bars.

Place the shortbread onto a baking sheet.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Keep the shortbread in the baking sheet in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill. Poke a few holes  on the top of the shortbread with a cake tester or a skewer stick if desired.

Take out and bake in a preheated oven  for 10 minutes or till shortbread is very lightly brown.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. Keeps well.

 NOTES

These shortbread keeps very well if stored in an airtight container.

Its a very good gift to bring along for children.

If you can’t find the orange extract, substitute with 2 tsp orange juice.

Handle the dough lightly as it may become soft, or chill well before cutting into bars.

 

ROAST TURKEY – TANTALISING DINNER FEAST

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Christmas and the  New Year  comes once a year and turkey is also allowed once a year into my house!

Usually we will have a formal sit down dinner. When my daughters were younger I used to put up a Christmas tree and they will decorate it with ornaments and wrap up the presents. Now my girls assist me with some of their favourite dishes. My elder daughter loves pate and makes it excellently. So it will be part of the first course.

Many friends have told me they don’t like turkey because it is dry and tasteless.

So I have decided to give a Christmas/New year  feast menu  and to roast a turkey which is moist and full of flavour.

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FRESH GRAPE CAKE – SO FRUITY & LIGHT

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When we were young we ate fruits as it is.  Now with the import of every kind of fruit to Singapore, we are so lucky to have and eat many different kinds of fruits all year round.

Sometimes there are just plenty of fruits in the house that I came up with recipes using fruits.

This time I experimented with fresh grapes and came up with this moist and delicious cake instead of using dried fruits which was normally done. I converted it to  cupcakes as I had some leftover champagne grapes.  It became one  elegant dessert for an afternoon tea.

Because of its taste and elegance I taught this in my baking class.  Some members tried it at their homes and sent me their pictures.  What more can you ask when your students are successful and so happy with their bakes.  So here is the recipe – do try my simple yet elegant cup cakes and you wont be disappointed of course! (more…)

Hi-protein and nutritious dessert just for you!

VIETNAMESE BEAN DESSERT

 

I am lucky to have travelled extensively and I have been to Vietnam twice.  I enjoyed Vietnamese food served there and I still do.  Infact their cooking is very easy to adapt and their use of multiple fresh herbs really made me  happy. Well I like herbs a lot in my cooking too.

There are just so many savoury  dishes that I enjoyed but I would like to share a simple dessert which is easy and very tasty just like  kueh (generic term for Malaysian dessert)

This dessert cake is unlike western buttery cake. Instead it is more of a pudding than a cake. It is  so easy to make and it is delicious if you like beans. And when  it is made of beans, it becomes very nutritious – how often can we find protein rich desserts!  Surprisingly this dessert is not found in most Vietnamese restaurants.

This is one of the desserts that I taught in my community centre recently  and my participants enjoyed it so much.

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Gula Melaka Agar Agar With Coconut Cream

gula melaka jelly 3

 

Every year a jelly or agar agar is a must during festive seasons. But this year I had a request from my daughter to make it with palm sugar (gula Melaka) and coconut as she wanted to have the 2 layers in the agar agar.

An old Chinese colleague taught me this when my daughter was just 1 year old. But she adds an egg to get the separation of 2 layers. When my children were young, I used to do this agar agar with the egg very regularly as they loved it.

But this time, I wanted to do away with the egg. And I wanted to use agar agar strips instead of jelly powder.

 

gula melaka jelly 2

 

This recipe is a sure winner. I have measured everything so it will be easy for you to follow.

And best of all it is so delicious. It tastes so velvety and you can keep putting a piece of it into your mouth continuously without realising you are actually eating loads of it. A guest who came to my place finished a 14 x 20 cm tray just by himself. Well I had lots of it and such incidences is never a problem in my home as I always make extra and more than enough for everyone. I even had enough to ask some of my guests to bring it home!

 

gula melaka jelly 1

 

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Cornflake Cookies

deepavali cookies 1

 

Deepavali!

The word alone brings back memories for me. Suddenly I can visualise myself throughout my childhood – most of it centering around food, of course!

And recently when I had a request for a cookie bake to pass on to needy families, I agreed immediately. Each volunteer baker had to bake a certain number of jars of cookies, namely, chocolate chip cookies and cornflake cookies. The best part, all the bakers were not known to each other, but we introduced to each other in a “Whatsapp” group. So many messages and the person who brought us together is Sonia. She coordinated the bake, and gave us the recipes and instructions on how each cookie should look.

I am sharing the recipes here as they were very good. I did a sample bake of each cookie and passed them to about 30 people to taste test. I listened to their comments and did some very minor changes to make them the best tasting cookies.

I did a total of 70 jars of cookies. Even if it was for needy families whom I did not know, my intention was, and is always, very clear. When you give anything to anyone – it must of the best quality! So I did take the trouble to source for good ingredients as I wanted the end result to be the best!

 

deepavali cookies 3

 

As they turned out very well, I decided to do more of these cookies for my dinner party this week as a party favour for my guests, so that they could also enjoy these cookies with tea in the comfort of their own home.

Here’s the recipe for the cornflake cookies. Don’t forget to check out the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies!

 

deepavali cookies 2

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Quick Cream Scones (No Butter!)

cream scones 2 (1)

 

Scones – a lovely tea time snack! I used to go for high tea many years ago, just to taste scones, as this is one of my favourites. Afternoon tea conjures many happy memories for me. Whenever I go to London, it has become a ritual to have afternoon tea with my daughter. Another beautiful surprise was when my elder daughter made cream cookies with apple confit, each as big as 3 inches in diameter, which she served to the rest of my family in our garden. Sweet memories – I loved the effort she put in as she was quite young then.

Recently, I visited a Welsh friend who had made the effort to put on a beautiful spread of goodies at her home for afternoon tea. I was fascinated by the cakes, and her scones (complete with Devonshire cream and jam) were lovely – just the type that I like.

During one of my earlier visits to the UK many years ago, the best scones I tasted was at Harrod’s (not anymore!). The last afternoon tea was at the Balmoral Edinburgh (touted as the best in Scotland). Afternoon tea at the bigger hotels is a ritual in itself and you get a pianist or a harp musician entertaining you with music. And the best part – you also get a personal butler!

I made many kinds of scones for my children while they were growing up as they also love afternoon tea, even though they were not allowed to drink tea when they were young.

Afternoon tea is a ritual still practised in my home, with a different assortment of cakes, both local and international. But I always want to do something fast and easy! This cream scone fits the bill exactly.

This recipe was born out of necessity to finish up a carton of whipping cream that I had used for another recipe. I didn’t have the heart to throw it away, so I experimented using the cream to make this simple scone. And I used only 3 ingredients to make wonderful tasting scones! I was very surprised that it turned out so well, crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. In fact I had 8 scones from this recipe, but I think I ate half of it myself (greedy me)!

I always share my bakes with my friends, but these scones – so sorry my friends – didn’t have enough to share! So this recipe is for you – it’s so easy and quick to prepare, bake and enjoy – all done in less than 30 minutes.

 

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