Easy Law Pak Ko

Hubby and myself tried a new Law Pak Ko recipe that we came across in the Sept 2010 Food & Travel magazine. Our previous attempts were unsatisfactory. So we were game to try a new recipe.

This version is much easier to handle as there’s no need to fry the mixture in the pan. Instead the flour is dissolved in tepid and boiling water. The results of the pan-fried version: crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy in the inside…basically, hubby and myself think that it’s a real success 🙂 – much better than the previous attempt.

Here are some pictures to share with you….

Before pan-frying….

After pan-frying….

Here’s the recipe (source: Sept 2010 Food & Travel magazine, recipe from Chef Hiew of Mandarin Oriental’s Cherry Garden Restaurant). I’ve also modified the steps slightly and inserted some notes:

Law Pak Ko

Ingredients

60g dried shrimps, soaked and drained

Oil for cooking

60g chinese sausage, dried (I used 90g)

60g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and dried

750g white radish, coarsely grated

350g rice flour

4tbsp potato starch

750ml tepid water

750ml boiling water

4tsp salt

2tbsp sugar

ground white pepper (i used 1 tsp)

few drops sesame oil

Method

1) Heat about 1 tbsp oil in wok. When oil is hot, add dried shrimps and fry for 1 min, then add chinese sausage and mushrooms and saute until fragrant. Set aside.

2) Lightly poach the grated white radish in boiling water for 3 min to remove the strong earthy smell. Squeeze out most of the water and set aside. Don’t squeeze until the radish is dry; radish should still retain a little bit of water.

3) Combine rice flour and potato starch in a large bowl. Add tepid water and stir till the flour is dissolved. Then stir in fried ingredients and poached radish and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine boiling water, pepper, salt and sugar. Add the boiling water mixture to the radish mixture and mix well. Finally, add sesame oil (to taste, but not too much) and mix well.

4) Pour batter into a lightly oiled square tray (20cm x 20cm) or round tray (25cm – I used 27cm and steamed for 45 min) and spread evenly.

5) Steam for 45 min to 1 hr. Leave to cool to room temperature, then keep refrigerated until ready to use.

6) Before serving, cut into desired shape and size (ideally bite-size pieces), then steam or pan-fry according to preference. Serve with XO sauce – but I like to eat it plain 🙂.

Update: I made some edits to the recipe based on recent experiences….

Law Pak Ko

After our success with the Chinese Carrot Cake, my hubby and myself were encouraged to make Law Pak Ko. We followed So Sze Wong’s recipe (host of TVB’s So Good cookery shows). Her recipe is as follows:

Steamed Carrot Cake – HK style: from So Good So Ox ep 2
(makes 4 8″ round tins)

Ingredients:

4.2kg radish

600g Chinese sausage (lup cheong), cubed

14pcs chinese mushrooms, cubed

12pcs dried scallops, soaked, steamed, shredded; keep the water

4tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

Oyster sauce

pepper

600g rice flour, less 1 cup    )    Mix

1 cup 澄麵 [wheat starch]      )

Spring onions, chopped

White sesame seeds

Red date

Method:

  1. Shred radish coarsely. Cook shredded radish in a wok over high fire.
  2. In another wok, add oil and fry Chinese sausage. Then add mushroom and scallop and fry. Dish up in a plate.
  3. Add some of the water kept from the scallop into the radish. Don’t cook the radish. When water is released from the radish, turn off fire
  4. Add in salt and sugar. Add oyster sauce and pepper to taste.
  5. Add Chinese sausage mixture, and chopped spring onion (stem portion) and mix.
  6. Sieve flour mixture in 3 portions over the radish mixture. Mix quickly and well after each sieving to prevent flour becoming lumps.
  7. Pour mixture into tins. Steam over high heat for 30 – 35 min
  8. When cooked, sprinkle white sesame seeds and chopped spring onion (leaf portion). Place a red date in the centre for decoration.

We quartered the recipe. While frying, the mixture looks like this (after flour is added)

Immediately after steaming….

After overnight refrigeration….

Pan-fried….

We found the cake too firm…suspect that it was because we added more flour than the recipe called for….haha should have stick to the recipe…

Anyway, we felt that it was still delicious 🙂 We will probably make it for CNY!

Mount Cocoa

Doesn’t this look like a mountain spewing chocolate lava…?

Chocolate lava cake is my favourite dessert – simply because I can get the maximum chocolaty effect. That’s why I was determined to learn how to bake this favourite dessert of mine.

Through research on the internet, I found out that there are 2 methods of baking this cake:

  1. cook the batter till the outsides are cooked while the interior is still molten.
  2. place a chocolate truffle in the middle of the batter. The chocolate truffle will melt, producing molten chocolate.

My favourite cookbook writer – Delia Smith – has a recipe for this type of chocolate cake. My first attempt did not produce a lava flow as I had forgotten to take into account that my pudding basins were smaller than Delia’s and did not adjust the cooking time accordingly.

My next attempt was more successful:

  • I omitted the brandy – it doesn’t appear to affect the taste of the cake.My pudding basins had a capacity of 125ml. I baked the cakes at 200 deg C (oven dial at 200 deg C) for about 6 minutes, using both top and bottom heat elements.
  • The basins should be filled nearly to the top as the cakes only rise a little during baking.
  • It’s done when the top looks cooked – when you shake the mould, the mixture does not quiver. The cake also shrinks from the side of the mould.
  • The tops should also look firm to touch (please don’t press to hard, or else the thin crust will be punctured!). The toothpick test won’t work because the centre of the cake is molten chocolate.

I had also varied the recipe by including Marks and Spencers’ Brandied Cherries (those chocolates with brandied cherry in the centre) into the batter: spoon batter till basin is about ¼ full, place chocolate on batter – do not push down, as we want the lava to be concentrated in the centre of the cake, pour more batter till the basin is almost full, the batter should cover the chocolate, bake as per normal. This variation tastes great – like a black forest cake!

This is a great dessert to serve at small dinner parties: can be prepared in advance (batter can be refrigerated and it takes a minute or 2 longer to bake), fast to cook, no fancy deco required (maybe a vanilla ice-cream) and chocolate is usually a crowd-pleaser! Well, at least the puddings pleased my hubby, mother-in-law and eldest sister-in-law… 🙂

Wuthering Heights…

I first did this for 2007 xmas and brought it to a xmas party. The log was well-received, despite the obvious lack of looks – it really looked like a pool of mud. I also did it for a family xmas dinner and my brother christened it “Wuthering Heights”, as if a log which had crashed during a thunderstorm….haha…so you can imagine, how terrible it looks.

The recipe is from Delia Smith. Ingredients and method are pretty straight forward, but the result….the cake always seemed too soft to roll! As a result, part of the mousse was used to cover the whole log and to patch the chipped away pieces….and as a result, “Wuthering Heights” emerged….

I am determined to get this recipe right and this time, I think I took a big step forward. The log looks kind of presentable, huh… (see picture at the beginning of the post)

This is really a delicious and wicked chocolate sponge – there’s no flour, no oil, just eggs, sugar and cocoa – filled with lots of thick cream and chocolate mouse, topped with icing sugar….yum! It may sound rich, but the cake is surprisingly light. Oohhh… I can’t wait for its debut later this evening at my family’s reunion dinner.

A cross-section of the log…

Calla’s notes:

  • I bake at 160 deg C for about 25 – 30 min.
  • When the cake is cool, put it into the refrigerator to firm up.
  • Perhaps next time, I will leave it to cool in the oven, as the top becomes sticky as it cools….wonder why…. Then when it is completely cold, to put in the refrigerator.
  • Best to do one day in advance so that the finished cake can firm up in the refrigerator.

Where’s the itsy bitsy spider?

(My project to document my observations of past bakes)

Here’s the web, but where’s the spider?

Well, I was trying to display my artistic talents in decorating the cheesecake lol… This was achieved by pouring alternate layers of batter into the centre of the pan and then using a toothpick drawing lines from the centre to the sides to create a spider-web effect.

This is a cranberry swirl cheesecake that I baked for my mother-in-law who requested for a citrusy cheesecake. As I had Crabtree & Evelyn cranberry sauce, I decided to make use of that. I adapted a recipe on the Epicurious website which had good reviews.

Well cheesecakes are really capricious….One time it baked nicely without any cracks…another time, it cracked despite having the same temperature etc. Wonder whether I had overbeaten the mixture 😦

The above picture was my first attempt…smooth top and crack-free…but I wasn’t so fortunate for the second attempt…

The cross-section… pardon the untidiness….

This was also the first attempt…I didn’t manage to take pics of the cross-section of the spider-web cake…

Looks aside, the taste was great: smooth, creamy….yummy! Hubby, mother-in-law and sister-in-law liked it…I think I will use this recipe as my base for future cheesecakes…

Here’s the recipe I used, which is adapted from the Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote recipe on the Epicurious website:

Base

200g Chocolate biscuits, without the crème (I used Oreo brand)

50g melted butter

Line the base of an 8″ springfoam pan with aluminium foil. Wrap the outside of the pan with another layer of aluminium foil.

Crush the chocolate biscuits finely. Mix melted butter with crushed chocolate biscuits. Press biscuit mixture onto the pan. Place pan in the fridge.

Filling

750g cream cheese, at room temp

170g caster sugar

4 eggs, each weighing about 60g – including the shell, at room temp

230g sour cream (I used “light” with no adverse results)

60g whipping cream

1tbsp vanilla essence

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

16 oz ready-made cranberry sauce ( I used Crabtree and Evelyn brand)

Cube the cream cheese. Beat it using a mixer at low to medium speed till the cheese flicks easily off the spatula. Scrape down the sides and bottom of mixing bowl frequently.Add in caster sugar and beat at low to medium speed. Make sure that there are no lumps.

Add in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla essence. Mix till just combined at low to medium speed and ensure that there are no lumps.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix till just combined at low speed.

Transfer 1/3 of batter into another bowl. Add cranberry sauce and mix till just combined. Add orange zest to the remaining 2/3 batter and mix till just combined.

Remove pan from fridge. To create the concentric effect shown in the first picture, pour in alternate layers of the cranberry and vanilla batters into the centre of the pan. When all the batter is poured into the pan, hit the pan on the kitchen counter-top to remove air bubbles. Prick any visible air bubble that rise to the top of the cake with a toothpick and smoothen surface.

Boil water. Place pan into a roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan till it covers half the height of the cake pan. Remember to top up the roasting pan with boiling water during the baking.

Bake at 150 deg C for about 2 hours. To test whether the cake is done, shake the pan gently, the sides should be firm while the centre is still wobbly. Switch off oven and leave the cake in the oven for at least an hour (You may remove the water bath, or you can leave it in the oven). Remove the cake from the oven – the centre should no longer be wobbly – and complete cooling on the cooling rack and thereafter keep it the fridge overnight. Remove the cake from the pan the next day.

Bon appétit!

Note: The cooking time and temperature actually depends on individual oven. For my oven, although the dial is at 150 deg C, the oven thermometer indicates about 100 deg C – perhaps it’s due to the steam from the water bath. It took about 2 hrs of baking time for the cake to be done.

 

As Fluffy as a Cloud…

(My project to document my observations of past bakes)

As my grandparents-in-law require soft foods, I was racking my brains what baked goodies were suitable for them. As I was surfing the internet for ideas, I thought, “Why not cupcakes – they are likely to be soft and being small makes it easier for the grandparents to eat?”

With that thought in mind, I looked for cupcake recipes to try. This lemon cream cheese cupcake was not my first choice. I tried another one, but it turned dry and dense after a day. I needed something that could keep soft and fluffy for at least a day when I bring the cupcakes to Malaysia. More about that cupcake in another post.

The lemon cream cheese cupake is from Betty Saw’s book “Tempt Cupcakes to Excite” and is posted on the net by various bloggers. I’m glad that the texture remained soft and fluffy even after a day! Also, I think the taste is good – full of lemony and creamy goodness. However, the sides and bottoms browned too fast – looks burnt, but doesn’t taste burnt (phew!). Think that’s because my mini muffin tin was the non-stick, black version. I will bake at a reduced temperature of 160 deg C to overcome this. Also, I will fill the muffin tins to about ½ to 2/3, so that the cupcakes will not rise over the paper cases and become too brown….

On another occasion, I varied with orange, but I think lemon is the best!

I present to you lemony goodness on a cloud…

Going Nuts

(My project to document my observation of past bakes)

In addition to chocolate chip cookies, I also baked peanut cookies as gifts. I was inspired to bake a cookie that I think my dad will like – at least he likes peanuts… The recipe was obtained from Karlskrona who posted on the Imperial Kitchen (thanks, Karlskrona!). The recipe was certainly quite simple, really a 1-bowl cookie. It certainly didn’t take long to churn out the following:

Here’s a close-up….

Looks pretty, but hubby and dad thought that there could be more peanut flavour for the initial attempt. Also, the cookie was too crunchy for my liking – I like this type of cookie to be melt-in-the-mouth.

For the second attempt, peanuts were roasted (thanks, hubby!), peanut butter was added, balls were smaller and cooking time reduced. The results: more peanutty flavour and a melt-in-the mouth texture. However, I think I did a lousy job in glazing the cookies… Somehow, it didn’t have the lovely golden brown sheen…

It took me three attempts to recreate the flavour I like…

Calla’s notes on the recipe (I quartered the measurements):

  • I used deshelled peanuts in this recipe. I roasted them in the pan, leave it to cool, then grind.
  • I added approximately 3 tbsp peanut butter to enhance the peanutty flavour (re: ¼ recipe). Skippy peanut butter produces excellent results. Peter Pan peanut butter was not bad either.
  • I used 85ml ground peanut oil to bind the dough together (re: ¼ recipe). This has to be monitored. I started off with 50ml, then add bit by bit till mixture binds into a dough that wipes the sides of the bowl clean.
  • I baked at about 160 deg C for 10 min, rotating the tray approximately after 5 min. I didn’t use the top heating element this time, as I felt the oven was too hot. Perhaps that’s why the tops did not have the sheen.

     

Quest for my Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie

(My project to document my observation of past bakes…)

I’ve been on the quest for my favourite chocolate chip cookie for the longest possible time. Preferences for chocolate chip cookie can be varied: some like it crunchy, others like it chewy; some like it thick, others like it thin; some like it big, others like it small….. Also chocolate chips can be milk, dark, white… Chocolate chip cookies could be paired with cocoa batter, other with dried fruits such as cranberries and raisins, or with oats, or with nuts…. The combinations are endless!

My aim is to master 2 types of basic chocolate chip cookie: crunchy and chewy. Also the winning recipes should be easily varied to add nuts, fruits, etc. I have about 16 chocolate chip recipes of different combinations (and the collection will definitely grow!) – all of which I will eventually test in my quest to find my favourite chocolate chip cookie. I have previously tested 5 recipes, and I wasn’t entirely satisfied L.

While working in my Chinese New Year Test Kitchen, I found a winning recipe for the crunchy chocolate chip cookie. I came across it in a blog by Didally and the recipe was posted by Connie in the Kitchen Capers Forum – thanks to Connie and Didally for sharing the recipe. Some pics for your viewing pleasure…

Don’t they make you wish to grab them? 😛

Some notes about the recipe:

  • This recipe can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. I personally prefer this way so that the butter wouldn’t melt too much.
  • I also usually leave the dough in the fridge prior to baking.
  • I used a 5ml measuring spoon to shape my dough to get even round shapes. Some may find it too small, but they turn out bite-size, much like the size of Famous Amos cookies.
  • I bake these cookies for about 12 min…. Bake at lower heat only for the 1st half or until the cookies appear dry (as opposed to wet, then turn pans around and bake at lower and upper heat, till edges are golden brown. The cookies may turn out soft, but will turn crunchy as they cool down. If they still remain soft, bake them again.
  • The cookies will lose its crunch after being left in the open for too long. Hence, it’s imperative to keep these cookies in air-tight containers. Otherwise, you could put the cookies in the oven to crisp them up again.
  • One batch makes about 90 bite-sized cookies.

I made 10 bottles of these for family and friends….phew! Will try to make the presentation more professional next year….

Will be trying out a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe next…

Chinese New Year Bakes

After changing jobs late last year, I had more time to bake CNY goodies this year. This year, I baked the following:

Peanut cookies

Chocolate chip cookies

Lemon/Orange cream cheese cupcakes

Cranberry swirl cheesecake

Squidgy chocolate log

Chocolate lava cake

The cookies were given to family and friends. The cranberry swirl cheesecake and cream cheese cupcakes were given to my mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law respectively. The squidgy chocolate log and chocolate lava cakes were desserts on the reunion dinners I had in Singapore.

It was certainly a tiring, but satisfying experience in baking for CNY. I gave away a total of 7 bottles of peanut cookies, 10 bottles of chocolate chip cookies, baked 1 cranberry swirl cheesecake, a batch of cream cheese cupcakes and chocolate lava cakes.

Sharing these bakes with you, my dear brother. May you have a happy and prosperous lunar new year!

2008 Chinese New Year Kitchen – Sugee Cookies Part II

Last weekend, I tried another version of Sugee Cookies. During the week, I was inspired to adapt the Peanut Cookie recipe: omit the peanuts and maybe add almonds and/or semolina. I searched the internet to check whether other adjustments were required. Lo and behold, I saw a recipe on the net (oops, forgot to check that website!) that posted a Sugee Cookie recipe that was close to the Peanut Cookie recipe. So, it can be done….hmmm….

For this batch of Sugee Cookies, I used sunflower oil, added salt and omitted the peanuts. Hubby and myself didn’t like the taste when the cookies fresh from the oven. However, after letting them rest for a day or two, the taste was much better. Hubby liked them so much that he ate at least 10 at a go! Well, I still have my reservations, but I will do a batch specially for my Hubby for cny….

Perhaps, I will try using a mixture of corn oil and butter the next time. Somehow, I feel that sunflower oil isn’t suitable….Maybe that’s a personal preference.

Update

Here’s the recipe I used – based on my memory as I didn’t exactly like the results and didn’t keep the recipe.  Feel free to play around 🙂

150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
56g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
85ml (approx) cooking oil  – i used sunflower oil
1 egg yolk mixed with a little water

1. Sieve flour with baking powder & baking soda into a roomy mixing bowl.

2. Add icing sugar and salt.  Mix well.

3. Create a well in the centre.  Pour oil into the well – start with 50 ml.  Add more oil gradually till a soft and pliable dough forms.  You may need more than the stated amount of oil.

4. Divide dough into small balls.  I used a 1/2 tbsp measuring spoon; alternatively, you could use a small cookie scoop.  Place balls on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Glaze the tops with the egg yolk mixture.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 deg C for about 10 – 15 min, or till golden brown.

Ideas to play around: use melted unsalted butter, especially browned butter….

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