Ultra Chocolate

Last weekend, my sister said they wanted to go East Coast Park for cycling, followed by Carl's Junior for dinner, and to celebrate my nephew's birthday. I asked if she wanted a cake for him, she said okay if it's not much trouble. I pondered for a while on what type of cake should I bake for him, taking into consideration that the cake cannot require refrigeration. Because I would assume that we would probably spend at least an hour under the late afternoon sun before adjuourning for our dinner, then followed by cutting the cake.

Finally, I decided on the Cake fondant ultra-chocolate. I used valrhona chocolate and ghirardeli cooca powder for the cake. I read on Honey Bee Sweets' post on this cake that it's worth to use good quality chocolates. Very fortunately, I took her advice! I had misread the instructions and tried to overturn the cake while it was warmed and ended up my cake broke into half! I quickly patched it back and decided to put it in the fridge to see if I can salvage it.

The next day, it was really easier to remove it, but the cake was really hard and crumbly, but the taste was heaven! It was very chocky and extremely rich. Even as I pinch off the sides for my children, they loved it too! As I do not have time to bake another cake to replace it, I decided to trimmed it smaller to fit the buttercream portrait I drew of my nephew earlier. As I've not done buttercream transfers before, I was rather clumsy in the transfer. The tracing on the portrait also wasn't well done. So I'd admit that this cake decoration failed totally this time! *tsk*tsk*

Luckily my sister and my nephew were very forgiving. They didn't complaint about the design, and were happy with the taste of the cake. In fact, all of them liked the cake very much. Boy, was I glad! I must say, this type of the cake belongs to "I am very ugly, but I taste very good!" Hahaha...

Sharing some pictures I captured in East Coast Park while my kids went cycling, I just r&r.

Green Tea Cupake

I wanted to prepare some simple cakes for my meeting on Tuesday. So I decided on using one of the cake recipe from "The Cake Bible". Instead of using cocoa powder, I replaced it with green tea powder. I just realised it's been a long long time since I used my green tea powder to bake. I sort of missed having green tea desserts. Initially, I thought I wanted to mix some red beans (as I don't have azuki beans) with green tea cake. Then I decided not to make it so troublesome (laziness set in), so I did away with the red beans. Finally, I bake Moist Green Tea Cupcakes, and did some simple decoration using chocolate ganache on the cupcake. The reviews from my colleagues – moist and yummy!

You can get the recipe from Rose Levy's website..

3 Chiffons and 1 Brownie

Have I mentioned that I've not been baking cakes for a long long time? The last was like...July? Goodness! Shows how lacking I've been! Anyway, my usual Saturdays were spent at my parents place. Last Saturday was an exception. My spouse was out for a seminar, I went BITC for my bread lesson, and decided to go home to do some baking since my children are home.

Not sure why I had so much egg whites in the fridge. Must be from my Cookie Art Workshops! Anyway, I wanted to do some sweet treats for my cousin, who had invited my family to her daughter's first year. So I decided on Egg White Brownies. As usual, I love this recipe. After baking, I just felt like having a piece, but I had to control myself from cutting it since it was going to be a gift!

Knowing I have enough time for the evening, I proceeded on to do Banana Sesame Seeds Chiffon cake. Most importantly because I saw the bananas hanging in the kitchen. I cannot, simply cannot resist bananas for baking...similarly for oranges! Hahaha... I just can't wait to convert them into something sweeter and nicer! So I made three different sizes of the chiffon cakes-7", 5" & 3", or termed as Do-Re-Mi.

I must have underestimated the timing for the bigger chiffons, they turned out to be slightly moist. However, the taste was really good. I added white and black sesame seeds to the cake. I like the look of black sesames on this chiffon. To me, it looked like ants on the cake...which I found it to be a little pretty! Hahaha...

Egg White Brownies, modified from Zu's Kitchen.

250g Semi-sweet chocolate
100g Unsalted butter
2tsp Vanilla extract
100g Cake flour
220g Egg white
120g Fine sugar
100g Walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted

1. Microwave butter and chocolate. Mix thoroughly until the chocolate melted and incorporated with the butter. Let it cool.
2. Sift flour into chocolate mixture and stir gently till well combined and add vanilla essence, put aside.
3. Beat egg whites till foamly and slowly add sugar bit by bit and whip till stiff peaks.
4. Take 1/3 of the egg white and fold it into the chocolate mixture.
5. Stir in mixture into the balance 2/3 egg white and gently mix till well combined.
6. Pour 1/4 of the mixture into a 8x8 pan lined and greased, and add half the walnuts on the batter.
7. Pour the remainig batter into the pan.
8. Top batter with the remaining walnuts and bake in a 180C preheated oven for about 35mins (depending on your oven) or till a pin inserted into it comes out clean.
9. Once baked, leave brownie in the pan for 5-10mins before removing and cooling it on the rack.

Continential Breads 2

For our breads this week, we made focaccias and ciabatta. Both use exactly the same recipe, same method, except that for focaccia, we add olive oil. That is considered "fats". Ciabatta is actually an Italian sandwich bread. According to Mr Low, it's actually a very cheap bread in Italy, but somehow, when it comes to Singapore, it became expensive! Now I know why it's a cheap bread in Italy, because there are very very few ingredients used, and it's very easy to make too!

I prefer focaccias as the addition of olive oil and rosemary herbs really made it very fragrant. The bread itself is not sweet, it taste really good! We sort of "mass produced" the focaccias!

Mixing the doughs until all leave the side of the bowl. Remember to do the membrane test!

We made so much focaccia dough that it has to be splitted into three containers for it to proof. Remember to grease the bottom with olive oil before putting in the dough to proof.

After proofing, we took out the dough and put it on a "floured" bed. Mr Low said, "floured bed, not your bed!" Hahaha... Who will put bread dough on the bed?? Not me!! Then we even out the dough, cut and put it on the baking tray for a second time proof.

Another two working table of focaccia doughs! After the 2nd proof, we created "dimples" on the dough, adding olive oil and rosemary herbs. Then we baked it in the oven. Look at how high it rose!!

Trays and trays of baked focaccias, awaiting distribution (to us!) The actual internal of the focaccia should contained big holes. That was what Mr Low told us. He said "Singapore" style is very compact, which is not right!

Finally, I brought home two big bags of focaccia and ciabatta. They looked so much alike, don't they? I think they are "cousins"... :p

When we were preparing our dough, Mr Low brought out "stollen bread" for us to eat. He wanted to let us try the bread so that we can sign up for this class if we are interested. I've never thought much of this "stollen" thingy, knowing that it's really sweet. But after trying this, I really like it. He said we have to cut it very very thinly and eat it chilled, which was exactly the way he served us! But I think about it, it's very similar to "hot cross buns"! Maybe I'll just do some internet surfing for "stollen", I should be able to find some very good recipes! Anyone tried baking "stollen" before?


The following day, I made a Ciabatta sandwich with cheese & ham as my lunch before my Cookie Art workshop. I bought kopi to go with it. It's so satisfying. I didn't want to pay a premium for gourmet coffee though I know it goes better! I'm happy just to have (cheap & good) kopi with it! ;)
[Not advertising for YK though...]

In Aid of A Friend - Update

I would like to thank all the generous friends and colleagues who were so fast to response to me when I first made my appeal. Some had told me that they cannot consume coconuts. I'm sorry to those of you whom I'm not able to vary my cookies. I just want to standardise them so it's easier for me to buy the ingredients and bake them. Many of you have also donated cash. I'm not rejecting cash by the way. Thanks to all of you, I'm still fulfilling my orders, and the orders so far, have managed to raise >$500. Thank you so much everyone!

This is the latest update from Cally's Facebook on 17 Aug at 10pm Singapore time:
"Today Alan had his tubes removed for draining the fluid out from the chest area. Done a few x-rays to make sure they are all cleared. Had a long discussion with the doctor. He said even if Alan can wake up, he will not be able to talk, feed himself or walk. The best situation, he will be wheelchair bound. Doctor is giving him 6 mths from 21 Jul to see how is his progress. This is really SAD when he is so young."

I really hope you'll all help to pray for Alan, and maybe God can give him another chance to live and be active again.

Continental Breads 1

After last Saturday's workshop for California Style Baking, I just didn't want to stop attending workshops. We discussed with the instructors, and came to an agreement that we wanted to do continental breads. So they customised a 4-weeks workshop for us, just doing continental breads only. Doris, Su, Zainah and myself signed up immediately after last Saturday's workshop. We were really interested in breads after trying so many different types of breads baked by the students in the NITEC bread classes! I also think part of the reason was because we just didn't want to stop seeing one another! Hahaha...so mushy! :p

I felt that attending workshops, like I've mentioned before, can really be addictive, especially hands-on. You get to learn and bring back what you have baked. I simply love those! As I spoke to my cookie art class participants, I realised I'm not alone! They also told me they loved to attend hands-on workshops, hence, the Cookie Art workshop! Phew! I'm so glad there are many people out there who has the same hobby as me too!

Anyway, back to the continental breads workshop. The first workshop was multi-grain and wholemeal.

1. Ingredients for multi-grain bread.
2. Kneading using dough hook.
3. Knead until all are combined into one dough.
4. Feel the elasticity of the ready dough.

After the first floor time doughs.

5. Mr Low showing us how to divide and shape the dough.
6. Ready for intermediate proofing.
7. Slitting the dough before baking.
8. Release the moisture from the steam oven during baking.

Finally, this is our wholemeal and multigrains breads. Half the class did the multigrain and the other did the wholemeal. So at the end of the class, we chose to bring back three breads of our choice. I brought back more multigrains as they were really good! I shall definitely attempt this at home, I just love how healthy this bread recipe is! No butter and no sugar! Yummy!

California Style Bakings 4

It was a backlog post. The last of my California Style Bakings was completed last Saturday, however, there was some other more priority post that superceded this. Finally, I managed to find some time to update this post.

The final workshop for this California style are breads-Cherry Caps and Walnut Plaited Breads.

Cherry Caps.

1. Mr. Teo showing us how to add the ingredients into the dough.
2. Knead in the ingredients.
3. Colourful dough.
4. 1st floor time in the proofer.

5. Mr. Teo demonstrating the method for the "cap" of the bun.
6. Use a cutter to cut out the shape.
7. Flower cut out shape.
8. Cover the dough with the flower cap.

9. Baking the cherry caps in the commercial oven.
10. Baked browned cherry caps.

Mr. Teo was very happy with the nice brown cherry caps that we baked. These were packed into my container. I usually bring my own container to store those bakes. I'm quite an environmental-friendly person.

Walnut Plaited Breads.

1. Folding the dough.
2. Rolled it gently.
3. Shaped it.
4. Plaited it.
5. A plaited bread dough.

Baked Walnut Plaited Bread.

After this workshop, we were given a "Certificate of Attainment in California Style Baking". For that week, I collected two certificates, but I would value the wedding cake certificate more! ;p

In Aid of A Friend

Dear friends,
One of my girlfriend's (Cally) spouse is suffering from stroke and is currently hospitalised in ICU. Being the sole breadwinner of the household, they have utilised their money. They have a young boy, who is currently attending childcare. She has to juggle between the hospital and her son. Below is the extract of updates from her facebook.

In aid of Cally's financial status, I am baking "Almond & Coconut Cookies" to sell at $15 per tub. All the sales proceeds will be given to Cally. She has agreed for me to help her in this. I will borne the cost of the ingredients, time and effort for the cookies.

I seek your generosity to buy the cookies and help her if you can. I am sure they will be very grateful to those that help them indirectly. There are two ways to pick up the cookies:

1) Pick up at Kitchen Capers at Kallang Bahru (strongly encouraged);
2) Meet up during weekdays lunch time at Bt Merah Central only.

Please send me an email @ aloyallyanders@gmail.com to make your orders now. Please note that orders and deliveries will complete by end August. This is solely based on my own initiative. Please note that this is not a coax, purchase is based on voluntarily basis only. Payment is to be made before collection.

I thank you in advance!

Special thanks to Gina for agreeing for me to put the cookies at KC for pickup. Thank you very much Gina!

*Lastest Updates (13 Aug 09)*
To make this worthwhile for any kind donors, Kitchen Capers (KC) aka Gina has decided to throw in some freebies too.

To all who purchase a tub of cookies from me and collect at KC Store, will be given 1 recipe card. If you buy 2 boxes, you will get 2 recipe cards of different recipes. If you buy 3 boxes or more, you will be given a S$10 Training Voucher which is redeemable when you sign up for any classes/courses conducted by Gina (Kitchen Capers).

Click here to visit Kitchen Capers Retail store. Here's how the recipe cards look like. Its printed on quality photo card (4x6 inches) by Ao Mori Silicone ware and copyrighted to Kitchen Capers.

"Thanks Jane for baking cookies for sale. Thanks to all supporters who bought the cookies from Jane. I am Cally whom Jane is helping to raise funds for my family."-Cally Leong, 12 Aug 09, 7.19pm

Grand Finale - Wedding Cake

This is the grand finale! After obtaining my certificate in cake decoration, I embarked on the wedding cake decoration course. Initially, I didn't want to continue with the wedding cake decoration course. However, my coursemates persuaded me to continue the course with them. After much consideration, I have decided to pursue it. One of the reason was because my coursemates were all very helpful and friendly. Over the weeks, we had formed some bonds and friendships. So I was quite reluctant to complete the course just like that. I didn't know what I was in for!!

From the beginning of this course, we were told that this was a project-based course, where you decide what designs you want for your dummy wedding cake. The final presentation will be the completed dummy wedding cake. Initial couple of lessons were quite relaxed. Subsequently, I was really stressed out in deciding what shape, what size, what colour and what design I wanted. I resorted to borrowing books from the library, and buying decoration books to get ideas and designs.

I took leave a couple of times, to buy my dummy styrofoams and to complete my sugar paste flowers. It was quite time consuming and very stressful. We did our dummy cakes over many lessons...covering each layer, moulding our flowers, piping the designs etc. I couldn't decide on my designs and I kept changing them even till the last minute.

My course buddy, Doris, and myself kept encouraging each other. We were really stressed out, but told each other to take it easy. I must say, she was the bravest and boldest among all of us to try something that was really really outstanding! I figured she has nothing to lose by trying something new as we're all here to learn and if possible, do something extraordinary and difficult so that we can gain more exposure!

The day has come. It was the final day of our work and time for assembling our dummy cakes. I was still pondering what and how to design for my cake topper. I tried air-brushing on my "ball dowels" and on my sugar paste roses. Air brushing is really so natural and nice. It saved the hassle of having to paint it, or add colour to the sugar paste. I used silver pearl dust for my "ball dowels" and sugar paste flowers and it shimmered in the light, very pretty.

Amy, as usual, fed us with her very "ang mo" style of three tomatoes salsa and oriental salad. The day before, we have guacomola salsa dip. She has never failed to bring us food at every lesson. She even cooked curry chicken for us one of the evenings. Doris bought curry fish heads, while Zainah cooked curry chicken for us as part of our graduation celebration. We do not have lack of food at each and every lessons. I doubt other workshops have such privilege. We shared to buy a wallet for Amy as a token of appreciation and friendship. After all, all of us had been "together" for four months now. At each and every lessons, we talked very openly about our private life. We shared with one another our thoughts, our experience and our life. It was really very fun. There were sure to have lots of laughters and jokes! Though it was stressful, the fun, the laughter sort of masked out our stressfulness!

Anyway, let me present the beautiful dummy wedding cakes, from this class of wedding cake decoration.

Zainah - the "tai tai" who has the most patience. Even when the whole world is ahead of her, she is calm & steady. A true homemaker who is very creative and produces quality work.

Su - the lady who has never decorated before she started cake decoration, is already taking orders and selling her decorated cakes to friends and relatives. She picks up fast, practice and applies it equally fast! A fast worker, in all aspects.

Doris - my dear buddy, who can afford all kinds of props which Amy shows! She has gone through so much in life, she is very optimstic, and very helpful in all aspects. I've always paired with her in all other BITC workshops that we signed up together. She is also very daring to try anything. Her top tier is actually a heart-shaped.

DiDi (brother)- I've forgotten his name! *oops* Can't blame me because we always call the two China boys - 弟弟. They are just in their early twenties. They sponsored their own course just to upgrade themselves, even though they don't earn much working here. He was totally lost with his designs, so Su and Doris choreographed his wedding cake designs for him. Doris also donated her wired roses to him.

FuRong - another 弟弟. He helped me to fulfill my dreams. I was his choreographer. Initally I wanted to do the brush emboidery, but I realised it didn't fit for square & round shapes. So I asked him to do it since he didn't know what to do. I also gave him my fondant roses to fill up the "gaps". Doris gave him the wedding couple topper that she had bought for herself. This is how kind she is!

This is my dummy cake design. My theme was ivory and silver. My topper is made of wired air brush silver sugar paste roses, green sugar paste leaves and silver ribbons arranged in a round styrofoam wrapped in blue tissue papers in a small glass placed on top of crushed blue tissue paper. All the tiers of the dummy cakes were piped with royal icing in hearts and pearls, with added silver dragees for some. They were wrapped with silver ribbons at the base. The ball dowels were covered with fondant and air brushed with silver pearl dust. The designs were simple mainly because I'm not creative and don't have the time to do something too fanciful!! Heehee... Special thanks to Zainah and Su for helping me with the floral arrangement for my topper while I happily munched on the breads! *greedy*

Our dummy cakes are presented together in a row to take pictures. We were all so happy and excited that our (nightmare) assignment has completed! I was pleasantly surprised that we could complete earlier than expected, cleaned up, packed up and gathered everybody to take pictures!

This is revealing all the creators behind each designs, including myself! All the dummy wedding cakes have their stories, I supposed. Even though some of our works were not perfect, nor breath taking, we were proud of what we have done and achieved.

Su and Zainah brought back their dummy cakes, while the rest of us left it in the school. I wanted to bring back my topper but Amy refused. I thought it was rather nice to have the topper back and recycle it! Kekeke... Managed to take a picture with my workshop buddy. Looking at it carefully, I thought both of us looked quite alike, don't you think so? Hahaha...

Last words, thank you to Amy for all her guidance. Sharing with us what she knew and more. Providing us with foods all the time, even though she can be quite fierce and stern. And to my coursemates whom have gone through the high stress level, fun and laughters, thank you for all your advice, help, suggestions and food too! I have enjoyed myself thoroughly during the seven weeks, 14 lessons, 50 hours. I shall miss all the fun, laughters and sharings that we have in class. I hope we can keep in touch and meet up often if time permits. All the best, dear friends!

Dedicating this certificate to my wonderful spouse who supported me in living my dreams, and picking me up from my workshops without fail. :)

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