Vanilla Meringue

Vanilla meringueFrench meringue, one of the easiest meringue you could make in no time, this is my version of mini meringue that melts in your mouth. Only three ingredient, you could have a jar of this to keep in cupboard for a week. In my case, it won’t even last for a week, should be gone in third day. Meringue and macaroon is a very similar however macaroon involved many steps and preparation. Macaroon, always gave an impression that it was one of the recipe I called “failure of success” and the pâtissier recover the bake goods with filling the bottom with cream and sandwich another piece of macaroon. Somehow many French recipe had that kind of repertoire.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1.  Preheat the oven to 100ºC/ 212ºF. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg white until peak firm was formed.
  2. Shift the caster over the egg white, make sure there is no lumps of sugar, then add in the vanilla extract.
  3. Use a large metal spoon, careful fold over the sugar and vanilla into whisked egg white. Do not over work with it otherwise you may knock out the air you had created into the egg whites.
  4. Use your finger or a spoon and dip into the mixture and smear it onto the four corner of the baking sheet, then line the baking sheet with baking parchment or baking paper.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a large plain nozzle piping bag and pipe it on the baking paper.
  6. Pop them in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Once it is done remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before you store them in the clean jar.

There texture is smooth and melts in your mouth, however it has a bit of chewiness at the end, that is because of the sugar. I think in the batch I going to reduce the sugar, as I think is a bit too sweet to my tooth, however in some explanation saying sugar in the meringue is crucial because sugar is the structure of the meringue, since I’m architectural amateur that word “structure” is sounds seriously in construction industry; which is true because that is the only ingredient comes in a tinny little form or crystal, supporting the “cotton” above it. How wonderful is that?

Berry Barque

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Reminding me about the pâtisserie shops in Paris, the Parisian are so proud of their patisserie because of their passionate and love with their culinary. I must say if you have the easy access to good patisserie, I don’t see any reason you won’t fall in love with. The recipe was picked up on the TV show that Michel Roux and Marry Berry was preparing these little beautiful pastry.

This really make me feels like a French pâtissier, patisserie is the work of art for the pâtissier that created with a flawless not only the taste is good, and is really great to look at too. Eventually walking in streets of Paris whenever I saw a patisserie shop even at the opposite road I could traverse and just to have a look at it, because it is like my favorite masterpiece of Mona Lisa was stolen and hung in the shop for sell!

I have a recipe just for the occasion that you need for dinner party of tea time treat. I used my classic sweet pastry. (refer to my previous post of humble mince pie)

For the filling, I used crème pâtissière (pastry cream, the reason, it taste nicer and the fruit can sitting in creamlike soft sponge and it holds the fruits)

  • 120g egg yolks (approximately 6 medium egg yolks)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g corn flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla exact
  • 500ml whole milk
  1. For the crème pâtissière, whisk the egg yolks with sugar until pale and thick, then whisk in the corn flour.
  2. Add the vanilla into the milk and bring to boil then switch off the heat.
  3. Pour the milk in a slow stream onto the egg mixture, whisking vigorously all the time. (Pour slowly to avoid scrambling the egg)
  4. Return the mixture to a clean pot over a medium heat and whisk continuously. Make sure to scrape the sides and the bottom, otherwise it will burn.
  5. The cream will start to thicken. Once it release a bubble or two, take it off the heat.
  6. Pour into a shallow bowl. Cover with cling film (pat the cling film so it sticks directly on to the cream) letting it cool before put in the fridge. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

To give the fruit a better shine, warm a jar of apricot jam in saucepan in low heat, do keep your eye on it, no one like the burnt sugar taste, once the jam had warm through then use a pastry brush to brush the arranged fruit.

I like the size of this shape it is much easy as a bite size, usually fruit tattler is in round shape. It is not elegance as this one.

Tips: The jam will thicken as it cool down, you can add little bit of water and warm it through again, to mix the water and jam then continue to brush the fruit again.

 

 

Chinese Crisps – Wonton

IMG_2154A I haven’t though about using wonton skin to make a baked snack. I read it from a magazine years ago. So I though I give it a go for this snack, nothing is exact for the measurement. However, to make this crisps need a special tray instead using the baking sheet; you got to use rimmed baking sheet or Swiss roll tray, the reason is to stop the edge bend upward during baking. Here is the recipe: Usually wonton wrapper came in a packet with many sheet in it. Using 12 to 16 wonton wrapper about 3 inches square, about 1 tablespoon of olive oil or any flavour oil you prefer, I used basil infused oil, 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt (I used Maldon sea salt flake simply because it looks like a freshly fallen snow flakes), half teaspoon of ground pepper (if you fancy a bit spicy you could use black pepper or add some chili flake)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Arrange the wonton wrapper on a rimmed baking sheet, making space for space and make sure they don’t touch each other. Brush top with oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let it cool before serving.

This is a basic recipe, if you fancy other flavour, there are few opinion to feed your senses. Cheddar cheese to grate on top of the wonton, to replace salt you could use Parmesan cheese. For the sweet version instead of using oil brush the top of the wonton you could use melted unsalted butter to substituted then you can sprinkle sugar, chocolate chips. If you fancy festive season mood you can use ground cinnamon mix with caster sugar to sprinkle on top before baking. The smell of cinnamon will wafting your house and that is what I call the blessing scent of baking.

Chocolate chip cookies

IMG_1340AThis is the chocolate chips cookie, the eccentric chocolate chips cookie. I used several ingredient to enhance the chocolate flavour and will makes you want it more. How could anyone resist the lovely aroma of the chocolate and it is like felling in love again when you bite into it. Normally I called this biscuit but cookies is the much closer terms to use, because it reminds me most American Mother will have the secret recipe of their own of chocolate chips cookie and passing down to their children, I can imagine the children enjoyed it and fighting for the last piece of cookie in the jar.

I do believe chocolate has the mysterious power. It can make strong men and women weak of gratitude, also good to mopping up tears as well. This recipe combined two loves – chocolatey and chocolate madness. For all the chocoholic this would be your must try list.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Melt the 125g dark chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof dish over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars in another bowl. (I use my freestanding mixer, itself an odd source of comfort to me.) Add the melted chocolate and mix together.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate morsels or chips.
  5. Scoop out 12 equal-sized mounds – an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job – and place on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them.
  6. Cook for 18 minutes, testing with a cake tester to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
  7. Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

You might noticed I used two different sugar, the reason I used light brown sugar is for the extra trickiness, and it will not easily burn in the oven because brown sugar is less sweet compared to white sugar. I remembered the first time I made it, I nearly forgot the cold egg, and I added it last before I bake it in oven. The result is a soft cookie, just like it been leave on a table for several hour. Although it will still become one mixture no matter which way I mix it but in the baking terms you got to follow every step, every ingredient will react to each other before the next ingredient adding into it. That is a science of baking, how wonderful things can be. I hope you will enjoy baking this cookies and share the good thing.

Angel food cake with lemon curd

IMG_1130ALook at this cake, not having a smooth side, imperfection decoration, simply because I don’t have the patient to decorate the cake or making it smooth. It is just beyond me! I think the way this cake looks will tells you it is home made.

Most people will have an answer said this is chiffon cake base, eventually it is not chiffon but angel food cake base. There are three basic cake commonly use as base. Sponge cake, chiffon, angel food cake. Three of them content light airy interior.

Sponge cake, made with butter, sugar, flour, eggs. It contain whole eggs Their leavening comes only from beaten egg whites (no baking powder or soda), and they have little or no butter. Is very common with eggy,  yellowish, crumble texture, light as well. It is a versatile cake that you could add any flavour.

Chiffon cake, made with eggs, sugar, flour, water and vegetable oil but no butter. It is very light, slightly dry if you just eating the cake itself. Chiffon cakes are light like sponge cakes, but the egg whites are not beaten separately. Chiffon cakes also generally contain oil so they are more tender and moist than sponge cake.

Is an obsession throughout South-east Asia, in Japan there are whole bakeries devoted to it. Chinese schoolchildren eat it as a snack. In the Philippines the ability to turn out airy chiffon is the test of a good home cook. Yet few in Britain know about it, despite our collective love of cake. I remembered when I was a kids, I had green pandan (pandanus amaryllifolius or screwpine leave) chiffon cake, it is very soft, spongy, dry. Often it made me choke when I eating it too quickly, simply because it is tasty. Most housewife in Asia would perfecting this chiffon cake recipe and by making them as light as possible, adding flavouring in it.

Angel food cake, made with egg whites, sugar and flour. It is even lighter than chiffon cake, Angel food cakes have no fat or leavening (such as baking powder). They are leavened with beaten egg whites and they have a high proportion of egg white to flour.

The following recipe was adopted from Mary Berry that made it at Master class of the Great British Baked-Off. I think this cake make a good center piece on your dinner party. You will need a special mould for this cake 25cm angel food cake pan or chiffon pan

Cake ingredients

  • 125g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 10 large free-range egg whites
  • 2 large lemon, grated zest only
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt

Lemon curd ingredients (this makes more lemon curd than you need for this cake)

  • 10 large free-range egg yolks
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 4 large lemons, juice only (±200ml)
  • 2 large lemons, grated zest only
  • 175g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 passion fruit

Topping

  • 300ml whipping cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 (fan 160C) and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven. Sift the flour and 100g/3½oz of the caster sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed and add the remaining 200g/7oz of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks.
  3. Sprinkle over one-third of the flour mixture and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the flour mixture folding gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
  4. Transfer the batter to a 25cm/10in angel food cake pan. Gently run a knife through the centre of the batter to remove any pockets of air. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs, or place over the neck of a wine bottle. Leave to cool for at least one hour.
  6. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove it from the pan. Invert onto a plate. Carefully use a palette knife to separate the cake from the base of the pan. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  7. For the lemon curd, mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a large pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir the sides and base of the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Pass through a sieve into a large jug. Fill two 350g/12oz glass jars with the lemon curd and seal with lids. Cover the remaining curd with cling film and leave to cool.
  8. For the topping, whisk the cream and vanilla extract in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Spoon the topping over the angel food cake and, using a palette knife, coat the top and sides of the cake, smoothing as you go.
  9. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the seeds. Stir the passion fruit into the reserved, cooled lemon curd and drizzle over the angel food cake before serving. You may want to use just one of the jars of lemon curd to serve with the cake and save the other to eat separately.

Note: Do not be tempted to grease the tin – it will prevent the cake from rising properly. If you want to cut back on fat or have a dairy intolerance, this is a great cake to make. The cake itself doesn’t contain any butter and you can easily swap the toppings for a fruit syrup or jam if you want to make it completely dairy-free. The egg yolks are used up in a job lot of lemon curd, but you could always buy in a good jar lemon curd and save your yolks for another use.

 

 

 

 

Let it snow! Easy Holiday Cake

P1140326A This is one of the cake that impressed on the Christmas table of course not the look like this. I got this bundt tin purposely for this holiday cakes. You can get it online.

You could make it as spiced holiday cake too by half the vanilla and add 2 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon and ginger and half teaspoon of ground cloves.

Ingredient

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and put a baking sheet in at the same time.
  2. Butter or oil your large, regular or fir-tree shaped bundt tin. (I use oil-sodden kitchen paper to do this)
  3. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time into the sugar mixture, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.
  5. Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the yogurt and vanilla extract.
  6. Pour and spoon the mixture into your greased tin and spread  evenly.
  7. Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Let it sit out of the oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Gently pull away the edge of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake, hoping for the best!
  9. Once cool, dust with icing sugar pushed through a small sieve.

Thinking of fresh snowfall on the alps, then you will sing along Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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Maghrebi mint tea

P1160326AAA Moroccan friend taught me their classic tea as they practices daily. This Maghrebi mint tea is traditionally a man’s affair: prepared by the head of the family. It is served to guests, and it is impolite to refuse it. The traditional method of preparing this as:

  1. In a teapot, combine two teaspoons of tea-leaf with half a litre of boiling water. Allow it to steep for at least fifteen minutes.
  2. Without stirring, filter the mixture into a different stainless steel pot, so that the tea leaves and coarse powder are removed.
  3. Add sugar (about one teaspoon per 100 millilitres).
  4. Bring to boil over a medium heat. This important step in the preparation process allows the sugar to undergo hydrolysis, giving the tea its distinctive taste.
  5. If desired, add fresh mint leaves to the teapot or directly to the cup. Remember to remove the mint within two minutes, as it can give some people acid reflux.

Traditionally the tea is served three times, and the amount of time the tea has been steeping gives each of the three glasses of tea a unique flavor, described in this famous Algerian proverb

Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l’amour,
le troisième est aussi amer que la mort.

The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as bitter as death.

I obviously don’t have the Moroccan tea pot set, then I use the Japanese cast iron teapot so it can hold the heat well. I skip the traditional method and using my own way to do this.

  • Handful of peppermint leave (about 100g, I like it strong)
  • 2 tea bag of green tea or you could use English tea (because I had finish my green tea, then I use English tea about 10g)
  • 3 tsp of sugar (I like settle and mild sweetness,  I use 1 teaspoon instead)
  • Boiling water about 300ml
  1. Before you start making the tea, the basic of it as you should warm your cups and pot by rinsing with hot water, and to keep the teapot and cups warm all the time by fill it with boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Put your kettle on, once the boiling water is ready pour out the water from the pot, and put the tea bags, (loose tea leaf if using) and peppermint leaves then let it infuse about 4 minutes, remove the peppermint after 2 minutes. Finally you can add in the sugar. (if using) Served.
  3. If you like ice mint tea, after adding sugar and let it cool then you could add ice cube. (this is a modern version for hot climate in Tropical country)

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I find this is very interesting and very charming, The art of drinking tea in Moroccan. Every culture has its own said about tea. In England, there are as many way of making a cup of tea properly as there are british residents and all methods involve mysterious and magical warming and stirrings of the pot, exact timings and indivual blends. Up North, they tend to put the tea in first, then add milk; down South they do the reserve and both halves of the country swear blind that theirs is the only way to make tea.

Related article

Mint Tea – gluadys’ cookbooks

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Mini coffee & walnut layer cake

-19I love this little baby cake which I made for a special occasion of my friend’s new born baby to seduce my friend’s sweet tooth. The sparkling shine glazed walnut looks like fossil been wrap in a amber colour of lava. I posted on Nigella’s cookalong to share the new twist of her recipe here is the link http://www.nigella.com/cookalong/2013/09/entries/156

For the sponge cake

For the frosting

For the glazed caramel walnut

  • Approx. 6 to 8 walnut halves (to decorate)
  • 2 tbsps of water
  • 100 g of caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F.
  2. Put the halved walnut onto a baking tray bake lined with baking paper in 180°C for about 3 to 5 minutes or until turn lightly brown. Then remove it from the oven and let it cool complete.
  3. To make caramel sugar, in a saucepan put together sugar and water on a heat to completely dissolve the sugar, (neverever stir the sugar) until you have a light brown then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Using a thong or chopstick dip the walnut onto the warm caramel (be careful is a hot sugar syrup, don’t get it on your hand) and place the dipped walnut onto baking tray with lined baking paper. Set aside.
  5. Butter six 7cm / 3inch mini square tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.
  6. Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder.
  7. Add the 225g/2 sticks butter, flour, 2 teaspoons espresso powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and eggs and process to a smooth batter.
  8. Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel with the motor still running, or just pulsing, to loosen the cake mixture: it should be a soft, dropping consistency, so add more milk if you need to. (If you are making this by hand, bash the nuts to a rubbly powder with a rolling pin and mix with the dry ingredients; then cream the butter and sugar together, and beat in some dry ingredients and eggs alternately and, finally, the milk.)
  9. Divide the mixture between the 6 lined tins and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch or insert a skewer into the middle and it come out clean.
  10. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment.
  11. When the sponges are cool. Carefully half the mini cakes by using bread knife, you can make the buttercream.
  12. Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing.
  13. Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into the buttercream.
  14. If you are doing this by hand, sieve the icing sugar and beat it into the butter with a wooden spoon. Then beat in the hot coffee liquid.
  15. Place all the halved sponges upside down on your cake stand or serving plate.
  16. Spread with about half the icing; then place on it the second halved sponges, right side up (i.e. so the 2 flat sides of the sponges meet in the middle) and cover the top with the remaining icing in a ramshackle swirly pattern. (I used piping bag with some decorated pattern to piped the buttercream on the top)
  17. This cake is all about old-fashioned, rustic charm, so don’t worry unduly: however the frosting goes on is fine. similarly, don’t fret about some buttercream oozing out around the middle: that’s what makes it look so inviting.
  18. Gently press the walnut halves into the top of the icing all around the edge of the circle about 1cm apart.
  19. For the final touch, place the glazed walnut on top of the frosting.

A very easy cakes yet so inviting to eat and this is not exactly like you see in Parisian patisserie window, I enjoyed it by just looking at them.

Caramel Croissant Pudding

P1150246AI am been very lazy to move around after work, and I’m thinking to settle off the stale croissant that I got this morning and then turn it into pudding. I should be making bread and butter pudding, but I’m lazy right now since I got croissant. I had save little effort to butter the bread, obviously these thirsty croissant waiting for some hot liquid bath. Here is the recipe for you, when you are tired but still want some indulgence!

  • 2 stale croissants
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps of water
  • 125ml double cream
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 tbsps of rum or bourbon
  • 2 large egg (beaten)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Tear the croissant into pieces and put it into small gratin dish; you can use cast iron oval shape with capacity of about 500ml for this.
  3. Put the caster sugar and water into a pan (don’t use non-stick pan, the sugar will crystallize and won’t melt properly) and swirl it around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the pan onto hob over medium to high heat.
  4. Caramelized sugar and water mixture letting it bubble away, without stirring until it turn deep amber colour. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Don’t be too timid.
  5. Turn heat down to low and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – and, whisking away, the milk and bourbon. Any solid toffee that forms in the pan will dissolve easily if you keep whisking over low heat. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs.
  6. Pour the caramel bourbon custard over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes if the croissants are very stale.
  7. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.

I only take half of it to bed and keep some in kitchen. I was thinking to pour a little bit of cream on top, or eating as breakfast. Wonderful! I hope Tiggy doesn’t go up for supper too.

Actived Baking Soda

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I had done silly mistake yesterday while I was baking a lemon cake, I used equal quantity of plain flour, sugar, butter, lemon zest and 2 eggs to make a batter then I sort of wanted to ease the job by add the lemon juice into the batter after I had mixed everything together in the bowl. Then I can play with Tiggy (cat) while the cake is in the oven.

When the cake turn out, it sunk in the middle and it tasted like baking powder water. The reason is acid of the lemon making the raising agent work even quicker by the time I pour the batter and putting the cake into the oven, the raising agent had nearly disappear, that is why the cake only raising halfway and collapse in the middle. Then I have to offer a whole loaf cake to the bin. Now I learned a lesson of try not to ease the job when is not necessary.