Recent Bakes

Sharing with you my recent bakes….

1) Japanese Cheesecake: recipe from here

The only modifications I made was to replace the cream in sect A with milk and use 5 egg yolks and 5 egg whites.

It’s also important to beat the egg whites properly: see here.

I’m so glad to find out that my mini oven can brown the top nicely…Also, the sides are smooth…I didn’t use a springform pan to bake it, just an ordinary metal pan.

2) Junior’s New York Cheesecake: recipe from Junior’s Cheesecake Book

This is different from the Japanese Cheesecake, which is light and fluffy, and does not have a “heavy” cheese taste. It is also different from the Lime & Passionfruit cheesecake I baked earlier, which is light and yet creamy. This New York Cheesecake is the dense and creamy type.

One thing that I wished I had done better was to brown the top more evenly….

I made some modifications to the recipe:

  • Made a biscuit base instead of baking a sponge cake base
  • Used 750g cream cheese instead of 24oz
  • Reduced sugar to 170g instead of 1 1/3 cup (but brother commented that it tastes a little a savoury.…perhaps to try increasing to 200g)
  • Used 200ml whipping cream instead of 2/3 cup

3) Lime & Passionfruit Cheesecake

Although this has been mentioned in a previous post, I thought it would be good to put a pic here to show the contrasting textures of the cheesecake, resulting from the different proportions of cream cheese to whipping cream and the different methods of including eggs (Japanese Cheesecake requires an egg white meringue, while the other 2 just require eggs to be beaten in).

4) Cupcakes: from the Primrose Bakery Cookbook

Earl Grey Cupcakes

Cranberry & Orange cupcakes

These were baked in a silicon tray, but they were not cooked at the specified baking times…resulting in crusty tops and a dry crumb….:( need to experiment again….

5) Chocolate Chip Cookies: based on the New York Times recipe which was widely blogged about previously

I think these are the BEST I’ve tried to date although the choc chunks are a little too sweet for my liking….But these still become crunchy after 2 days although I kept them in an air-tight container (the lock & lock one)….Wonder whether is it because of the humid weather in Singapore.

I now honestly appreciate the quality of chocolate that goes into the cookie….No more Hershey’s or Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks….I’m going to look for better alternatives!

By the way, I replaced the cake flour and bread flour with all-purpose flour…wonder does that affect the retention of the chewiness. I’ve seen recipes that use bread flour only…perhaps I will buy some bread flour and use all bread flour….

Lime and Passionfruit Cheesecake

My Da Jie was very kind in providing me with 8 passionfruits to bring back home when I visited her 😀 Paid homage to the passionfruit by baking a lime & passionfruit cheesecake. Da Jie, here’s a slice of the cheesecake dedicated to you 🙂

Used my new 9″ springform pan and was horrified to find out, after doing the crust etc. and just before filling the pan with the batter, that my usual roasting pan could not accommodate the springfoam pan! Luckily, I found another bigger round cake tin to hold springform pan, otherwise….sigh!

Anyway, I learned some new stuff while baking this cheesecake:

  • By greasing the sides of the pan, the chance of getting smooth sides is higher.
  • When adding cream into the mixture, make sure that the cream is lump-free too….otherwise the cheesecake mixture will have lumps – horrors of horrors!!

I fancy that using 500g cream cheese achieves a cheesecake that is too low for my liking…I prefer a much higher cheesecake :). But that’s a personal preference.

As for the verdict: it’s smooth and creamy. The tangy passionfruit complemented the richness of the cream cheese, making the confection not too rich. Glad that Hubby liked it, even though he’s not a fan of sweet stuff.

It seems like the texture of the cheesecake (light vs dense) is also dependent on the proportion of whipping cream to cream cheese: this recipe uses 200ml whipping cream to 500g cream cheese; I did another cheesecake which uses 200ml whipping cream to 750g cream cheese, and this cheesecake is more dense.

Here’s the recipe I used, which was adapted by combining the recipes from “In the Kitchen” and “Cheesecakes, Pavlovas and Luscious Desserts”:

Cake

150g digestive biscuits

60g melted butter

500g cream cheese

110g caster sugar

juice of 1 lime

zest of 1 lime

2 eggs

3 egg yolks

200ml whipping cream

100ml strained passionfruit juice (from abt 8 passionfruits)

Topping

1tbsp caster sugar

3tsp cornflour

passionfruit pulp (strained for juice earlier)

Method

1) Grease sides of pan with butter.

2) Place biscuits in a food processor and whiz to form small crumbs; add melted butter and process briefly. Press biscuits into the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Wrap the outside base with foil, using 2 pieces to cover the base. This prevents water seeping into the cake during baking. Place in fridge to set, for at least 20 min.

3) Preheat oven to 170 deg C

4) Beat cream cheese until smooth, add sugar and beat. Add cream, lime juice, passionfruit juice and lime zest, stir till combined. Then whisk in eggs and yolks, one at a time.

4) Place cake tin in a deep baking tray. Pour in cheesecake filling over biscuit base. Pour boiling water into baking dish to come halfway up the cake tin. Place carefully in oven. Cook for 1hr or until the cake is just set, still with some hint of wobble. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before refrigerating, preferably overnight.

5) To make the topping: Combine the sugar, cornflour and 2 tbsp water in a small pan over low heat. Stir until smooth, add 2 more tbsp water and passionfruit pulp and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Pour hot topping over the cheesecake, spread evenly and then leave to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.

Another Brownie Recipe

Since my brother is back for holidays, I took the opportunity to try another brownie recipe. This time, I used James Peterson’s recipe (from this book), which holds great promise for the features I look out for in a brownie: an in-between brownie (i.e. cakey and fudgy at the same time) which is not too sweet.

By the way, I like James Peterson’s book: Baking. His instructions are clear and concise and there are accompanying pictures to guide you along. Great for a novice baker who wishes to expand his/her repertoire, imho.

Now, back to the brownie….The brownie is indeed not too sweet, but it is more fudgy than cakey, even though I baked it till the there’s-no-crumbs-when-toothpick-is-inserted stage. Wonder is it because I swapped ¼ of the flour for cocoa powder and added 1 tsp of Tia Maria….

Anyway, I think it’s still a great brownie! 😀 To all fudgy brownie lovers, here’s sharing with you a slice of brownie heaven….

The next brownie recipe that I will try: Dorie Greenspan’s classic brownies…One day, I shall do a taste test to find out my favourite brownie recipe!

Chocolate & Banana Cupcakes

I’ve been wanting to try new cupcake recipes, as I felt that the one I’ve been using is a tad too oily….So, this week’s de-stress project is baking chocolate and banana cupcakes, using a recipe from London’s Primrose Bakery (Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery).

I used 136g butter (didn’t want to have leftover butter), 507g bananas (the recipe says use 4 bananas) and increased the plain flour to 275g. The first few batches, while were cooked, were a little too moist and did not have a golden hue. Subsequent batches were baked slightly longer to achieve more firmness (but still very moist) and a golden hue.

I’m happy with the results: it’s not too oily (unlike my previous cupcakes), not too sweet. While baking, the homely fragrance of baked bananas wafted through the air. Now, all I need to improve is the amount of batter to fill into the patty tins in order to achieve fuller cupcakes and tweak the amount of bananas so that it’s not like a sticky banana cake (I wonder how heavy is 4 bananas in England??). This recipe is really a keeper and I can’t wait to try out the other recipes in the book.

Calla’s notes:

  • Although the toothpick test reveals that the cake is cooked and the top is springy to touch, if the cake doesn’t look golden brown, bake it longer till it’s golden brown, otherwise the cake may be a little too soft (sides do not feel firm). Do monitor carefully, as it’s often a matter of seconds that burning occurs.
  • I used 507g bananas, but I think there’s too much banana, such that it makes the cake like a sticky banana cake (although to me, the pictures don’t seem to be so). I would experiment with lesser bananas to create a less sticky cake.

  • Although recipe calls for 70% chocolate, I used 53% with no adverse results. The cake wasn’t too sweet. Overall the sweetness is alright.

My Latest Favourite Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – Finally!

I was really into the groove of baking today: after baking the coffee & walnut sponge, I proceeded to bake chocolate chip cookies. After watching Michael Smith’s Chef at Home (S6), Hubby was fascinated about adding corn syrup into chocolate chip cookies to create chewy ones and urged me to try.

I was initially lazy to do it…but I’m really glad that I made it. I think these are the best chewy chocolate chip cookies I’ve made to-date. The dough is easy to handle – it doesn’t go too soft. Not sure whether it is due to using cold butter, as opposed to soft butter, to cream with the sugar. Although it’s a little too sweet, I still like it and it’s great with milk! I realise that American recipes tend to be sweeter and I should have listened to my inner instincts to increase the level of salt or reduce the sugar. I usually decrease the sugar to reduce the sweetness. But I found that decreasing the sugar tends to alter the texture and taste (other than the sweetness) of the cookie slightly. Next time, I shall double the salt in the recipe instead, following Dorie Greenspan’s advice….

The recipe can be found here.

Notes:

  • Plain flour was used
  • Salted butter was used
  • Hershey’s mini chips were used. I used the entire 12oz pack…
  • Corn syrup was replaced with golden syrup. If corn syrup is not available, you can make your own corn syrup at home. I haven’t tried this out though.
  • The yield is about 72 cookies. I used a 1/2tbsp measuring spoon as a mould. I scooped out rounded spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet.
  • My dear oven’s thermostat has gone bonkers. The oven dial is at 160 deg C and the cookies were baked for about 10 – 12min with upper and lower heat turned on. I think I overbaked it in the later batches: though it’s still chewy, but I think the texture was nicer when it wasn’t that brown….

The earlier batches: not so brown but a better chewy texture (imho)….

The later batches: lovely golden brown, but not so good chewy texture (imho)….

Coffee and Walnut Sponge with Coffee Cream

Hubby was inspired by the Coffee & Walnut Sponge made by Delia Smith in her latest show “Delia through the Decades“. It seemed easy enough to be a suitable project for de-stressing myself after a busy week at work. Poor Hubby was also stressed at work, and that further encouraged me to make this cake which has his favourite flavours: coffee and walnuts.

I multiplied the cake ingredients by 1.5 times so that I can bake an 8” cake; the filling ingredients was doubled (except for the sugar, which I added more to suit my personal preferences). The cake resonated with too much ammonia smell when it was fresh from the oven and I was worried. Luckily, I couldn’t really taste the ammonia – perhaps it was masked by the strong coffee taste. The cream is not too rich – it’s made of mascarpone cheese, flavoured with instant coffee. On the whole, it was a breeze to make and most importantly, Hubby loves it.

Some notes:

  • Don’t worry if the batter appears too little. Have faith and the cakes will rise and with all the cream, it won’t be a flat cake.
  • Bake the cakes in a normal aluminium cake tin (not black, not non-stick, not spring-foam). I bake one half in the normal aluminium tin; and another in a non-stick springfoam tin. The cake in the aluminium tin rose beautifully and did not burn, while the cake in the springfoam tin rose only a little and worse still, the bottoms were slightly burnt (luckily the burnt bits can be scrapped off and did not affect the overall taste of the cake)
  • Chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours before serving to allow the cream to set.

Sharing with you the cross-section….

Thanks, Hubby, for helping to ice and frost the cake J.

P/S: I’m looking forward to the next episode of “Delia through the Decades“. Delia’s going to make Squidgy Chocolate Log, which is one of my favourite chocolate cakes. I must see how she does it and why her logs look so beautiful and do not crack, unlike my attempts….

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

The first bake of 2010! I adapted from the white chocolate chip and cranberry cookies to make these chewy chocolate chip cookies. I also reduced the brown sugar and caster sugar by ¼. It’s now not so sweet, but there’s a more pronounced eggy aftertaste which I don’t really like. So I’m back on the drawing board again – to find my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Update: the cookies have improved in flavour and texture after keeping for a day: no more eggy aftertaste (not sure whether anything’s wrong with my taste-buds :() and it’s become more chewy and less cakey :)….

The cookies are the puffy, cakey and chewy type. Anyway, here are some pics to share:

Fruit Brownies: A Chocolatey Alternative to Traditional Fruitcakes

Well I was lazy in making traditional fruitcakes a few months ago. Actually, that’s not the only reason for not making traditional fruitcakes: the recipe I’m familiar with uses treacle which comes in huge cans, but I’m only using 2tsp for the recipe!? Somehow, I can’t find other uses for treacle. So in the end, I put off making traditional fruitcakes, although it is not difficult to make and that recipe produces delicious fruitcakes.

A few days ago, as I was flipping my newspaper cuttings of recipes, I came across a recipe for fruit brownies, which touted itself as an alternative to Christmas fruitcakes. Since I already regretted not doing traditional fruitcakes and I had all the ingredients on hand, plus I had to fulfil a pot-luck dish, I made the fruit brownies….

I was quite worried as the mixture turned out quite watery. So I added more flour. The verdict: luckily the brownie didn’t turn out dry; instead it was cakey and fudgy at the same time. The brownies also didn’t turn out to be too sweet…. Thank goodness…. I also think it’s a good alternative to traditional fruitcakes…I thought of some improvements and am keen in trying them out!

Black Forest Log

As mentioned previously, I made a Black Forest Log for Christmas. I adapted Delia’s recipe, but made my own brandied cherries using Rose’s recipe. As usual, the rolling was messy, but at least it didn’t really look like “wuthering heights”. Hubby’s rolling skills have improved!

Some felt that the cocoa powder topping was too bitter – hence need to reduce. Perhaps the key is to lightly dust, as what Delia says. Otherwise, I could try dusting with drinking chocolate powder, or even Milo powder (hee!). The brandied cherries were delicious. I plan to buy more fresh cherries and use the remaining Kirsch….

Thankfully it was well-received: Hubby requests this to be made for his bday cake next year; and surprisingly, Mummy likes the cream more than the cherries itself….

Calla’s notes:

  • To lightly dust with cocoa powder. Otherwise, can try drinking chocolate powder or Milo powder
  • If the chocolate mousse filling hardens, heat it up in a bain marie till it melts – be careful not to overcook it. Otherwise, heat up over bain marie till it barely melts, then add milk, bit by bit, to reconstitute to spreadable consistency.
  • Try to make this the day before. After doing the filling, put in the freezer overnight to firm up the filling and cake. Bring to refrigerator a few hours before serving to soften the cake slightly.

Curry Puffs and Pies

This weekend’s project is curry puffs. Hubby prepared 2 fillings: curry chicken and sardines.

Curry chicken

Sardines.

Both are yummy on its own. If I make my own buns, I believe they would make delicious fillings.

To prepare, I read up about crimping (see side bar for links), but found it harder than it looks. Lack of a suitable sized cutter for the curry puff, as well as the hot weather (makes it tough to roll out the dough), I decide to make pies and rolls instead.

Unbaked sardine puff. The only one with a nicer crimping.

A baked sardine puff. Need to improve on the glazing.

Mixture of sardine puffs, sardine pies and sardine rolls. The rolls and pies are glazed with milk and produced a matt finish. The puffs are glazed with egg yolk, which produces a shinier finish, but was cracked. Maybe the oven was too hot…

The curry chicken pie. For such a rustic pie, need to bake on a baking sheet, rather than a pie dish. Baked a little too long and therefore burnt the lattice tops 😦

Some notes:

  • The temperature dial was between 160 and 190 deg C mark. I baked the puffs, rolls and mini pies for 20 min and the big pie for 30 min.
  • The lattice covering for the curry chicken pie prevented the eggs from being too rubbery. To consider putting the eggs in the middle of the filling if not covering the filling.

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