Saturday, 17 October 2009

kek batik...

so this is batik...indonesia's famous fabric designs that they are very proud of...

and this...

is kek batik or batik cake...which i am very proud of...

and no, it wasn't baked in my antique oven...i seem to be having a bit of a blockage with the oven for the moment and found out about this delightful cake when i was in Singapore recently. a friend had it at their house for Hari Raya and when i tasted it i fell instantly in love with the taste, flavour, the whole deal...the cake was very chocolately, with a fudgey-cake like consistency and yet the sweetness of the biscuits mixed in there too. a perfect combination! so when i got back to Bali i had a search on the internet and found a few recipes and decided to just take my chances, pick one and hope for the best. making the cake was easy. it's all done on the stove top - eggs, butter, sugar, milo, cocoa, condensed milk and vanilla extract. then when you reach the right consistency you mix in the broken up biscuits, put it in a baking tin and stick it in the fridge overnight. i was worried that it wouldn't set and firm up properly. but it set wonderfully and was easy to slice too. i made this for a get-together at a friend's place and it went down a treat. seconds all round and lots of lip licking and tongue smacking! oh, the joy to be able to add another no-bake to my repertoire!

an absolute MUST to make and try yourself!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

italians do it better...with italian brownie muffins

i came across this recipe on a blog called italialicious and it just kinda caught my eye in that it had a whole cup of olive oil in it! i mean first of all, i have NEVER used olive oil when baking muffins so i was curious to see what the effect was. the blog itself is a delightful array of italian recipes from pasta to tiramisu. i have thoroughly enjoyed reading through the many recipes.

so anyway, i got everything together and was surprised at the texture of the batter. i mean it was pretty dense and kinda had a gelatinous quality to it...i had a moment of...'oh no' but pushed on because one of the many joys of baking (thank god) is that don't always be fooled by the batter.
i deviated from the original recipe a bit in that i don't trust essences here in indonesia. mostly because, most of them look like substances you might have used in chemistry lab experiments when you were at school...bright orange, yellow...thick, scary, get the idea...(i'll take a picture next time i'm in the supermarket just in case you don't!) so i didn't add any orange essence or zest. but everything else i kept to.

popped them in the oven and they rose really well. still need some fiddling with the oven though, because a couple were a tad too well done on top for my liking - someone mentioned i should go to the beach and get some sand and spread it on a tray and leave it at the bottom of the oven to distribute the heat more evenly, it could be time to do this as the muffins on the sides of the tray are baking faster than the ones in the middle.
anyway out they came (i'd also sprinkled some chocolate chips on top) and cooled off.
then came the taste test...these were very cake-like, as opposed to fudgey (which some more american brownies can be, but often i find fudgey textures to be very heavy) and had a very good strong chocolate flavour (which probably had a lot to do with the one cup of ghirardelli cocoa that went in - carried with love from singapore as not available in indonesia!) i really enjoyed them and found them to be rich, without being heavy and moist without being fudgey. a nice combination both of flavour and texture.

in this case...i might just have to agree that italians definitely do it better :)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

experimenting with jam doughnut muffins...

ok, so experimentations continue...i baked some lemon drizzle muffins two days ago and decided not to bore you with the photos as i believe i baked them before and they are lurking somewhere in the depths of the archives. however, jam doughnut muffins, now there is something that i haven't tried before and completely fell in love with the idea when i found them on Nigella Lawson's website. after a little more web research, i located two different recipes that both said they were nigella's and not being 100% sure about either one i decided to try both...

Jam Doughnut Muffin Recipe #1

125ml milk
85ml vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
12 t. jam

you know the drill for muffins, right? dry ingredients + wet ingredients = muffin batter. don't over mix or you're gonna be in trouble. bake until it looks done and a sharp implement comes out clean...i can't give baking times right now...if you see my oven post you'll understand why, ok!

well, when i started spooning this batter into the muffin was really runny. so naturally as i plopped a teaspoon of jam on instantly sank to the know this cannot be a good thing because jam is sticky and this means your muffin is probably going to stick to the bottom of the muffin case. so as i was going along i was adding more flour to the mixture to thicken it up. i stopped when the jam wasn't sinking anymore. so when they baked, the ones with more flour in them rose more (not sure why i found this so interesting...but hey!)

the recipe called for to brush with butter and roll in granulated sugar but i'm not so sure about that...i kinda like the idea of dusting them with icing sugar (maybe in some very distant memory i ate a doughnut like that?) it seems more delicate and less sugary.

ok so after the all important taste test, disappointingly, the jam sank to the bottom in all the muffins (no i didn't eat them all myself to check!!!!! - i tasted the first and the last) the first muffin with the runniest batter, the jam had seeped through and was all over the bottom and on the muffin case...for the last muffin, with the thickest batter, the jam hadn't seeped through but had sunk to the bottom of the muffin with just a thin layer of cake separating it from the case.

taste-wise the muffin was good...slightly reminiscent of jam doughnuts but definitely not the best likeness i've ever had...and so on to...

Jam Doughnut Muffin Recipe #2

2 c. self-raising flour
1/3 c. caster sugar
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
175ml buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
8 t. jam
pinch of salt

dry + wet = muffin batter
don't overmix

i started spooning the batter in and putting in the jam...and lo and behold it sank again (this bloody jam thing is going down faster than the titanic, for goodness sake!) and then i realised that in the recipe it said make an indentation in the batter once you have spooned into cup...oops...i think i added too much milk cos mine definitely wasn't indentation-able!

anyway...onwards onwards...i kept going...not adding more flour...just wanted to get the darn things in the oven.

and of course when they came out...the jam had sunk faster than the titanic all the way to the bottom...and taste-wise...not much different than the first one.

maybe jam doughnuts just aren't for me (honestly i currently am in love with the black forest doughnut from J.Co here...but that's for another day)

Monday, 13 July 2009

bakin' it old skool style...

ok, so today the emphasis REALLY isn't on what i baked it's the fact that i BAKED...this was an experiment in going back to basics and baking old skool and seeing if i could really pull it off...and wow! i did. i mean that crazy contraption i bought actually works...and for nostalgias sake i decided to bake the very first recipe i kick-started my blog with...chocolate chip muffins. and i mean let's face it, muffins are quite hardy...i can just imagine them in there in the contraption, muscling each other out the way, vying for the heat and then doing their utmost to rise (unlike the delicate cupcake which might not be very impressed at being baked in such a contraption and stay stubbornly flat) - what? food doesn't talk to you? really? you've never walked down the aisle in the supermarket and had the chocolate call out to you tempting promises, the chilli whisper spicy secrets...maybe it's just me?

so the long and short of it is, that you don't need fancy contraptions...ok, i hid under the table for most of the cooking time (for fear of explosions), the oven got freaking hot on the outside (well it is made of aluminium) and i narrowly avoided some third degree burns and heat control could be a potential issue...but this is a huge step up from no oven and no baking which let's face it equals up to a big fat NO LIFE for me!

so i reckon a few more experiments with the muscly, hardy muffins before i take the plunge and try some delicate little angelic cupcakes. but seriously, i'm beaming from ear to ear...onward fellow bakers...onward...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

and then there was an oven...or was there?

ok so basically 'mission accomplished'...i mean i set out to buy a traditional oven and buy a traditional oven i did. however, i must admit i was not quite expecting it to be THAT traditional and THAT back to all you bakers out there, with your fabulous ovens, that you take for granted...think of me fondly every time you open yours as i return to what can only be a time before the caveman...when one was expected to bake in an overgrown coca-cola can with a window cut in it (wait a minute...the cavemen did drink coca-cola, right?) and actually STOP...i'm not being fair here...this contraption called an oven is far more advanced than the meagre coca-cola can...let us take a closer look...

we have the super advanced heat indicator

the up-to-date safety locking system

and let's not forget...the hole in the bottom for us to pop it on the gas stove to blast the heat in
yes that's right my friends...this modern invention needs no plug, socket, just turn on the gas, pop it on the stove and off you go! and all for the bargain price of Rp. 325,000 that's $32.50 for all you peeps who chose to deal in hard currency!
ok ok, i'm being totally unfair's not like i paid a fortune for it, right. it's not like i haven't been dying to get back to baking. it's not like i can actually afford right now to buy a swanky-wanky top of the range this is the way i have chosen to go and go i must. the (mis)adventures will begin shortly and are sure to be entertaining...meanwhile i might just need to re-think the name of my blog...i mean how does airy fairy can-cakes or airy fairy tin-cakes sound? any other suggestions gratefully received...

Saturday, 11 July 2009

on a mission...

right...this is it...i'm suffering SERIOUS baking withdrawal symptoms as it has been over how many months since i last baked something (as opposed to cooked!) due to lack of access to an oven...ovens are expensive here in Indonesia...well at least when you are earning a salary comparable to what minimum wagers might earn back home and while i have waited and waited for one to miraculously drop from the sky via a stork or grow on my tree, it appears neither are going to happen anytime soon. so i have heard through the grapevine of a 'traditional' oven that is available here. that looks like a portable microwave and you put it on top of the stove and you can bake in it. ok, so i'm thinking it sounds either completely ingenious or a serious experiment in disaster...either way it is sure to be entertaining and provide the possibility for untold blog posts. so today, i am taking matters into my own hands and i am off on that very find myself a traditional idea where to look but will ask some friendly people by the roadside to point me in the right direction (after a correct explanation of what it is i'm actually looking for!) fingers crossed and if it all goes the way of peaches and cream...i'll be happily back in the land of baking all over again...and even prouder for doing it the 'back to basics' method...wish me luck...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

es dawet...da what?

so on a recent trip to Yogyajakarta in Central Java, i simply had to try a local traditional drink...and here it's called es dawet. it was absolutely delicious...a mixture of coconut milk (santen), palm sugar syrup (gula melaka or gula jawa) and rice flour. when it arrived it was all in it's you could see the dark brown of the palm sugar syrup, the white, creaminess of the coconut milk and the little bits of rice flour floating give it a good stir and with a good serving of ice, this must be one of the most refreshing drinks i have had in a long time...slurp! very easy to make but with those delicious asian flavours...yummy!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

home-made vanilla extract

what to do, when you live in a country, where the only vanilla extract you can buy in the supermarket is red and smells like banana? (really it does!) well, you go to Google, do a bit of research and find out how to make your own...and the best part? it's easy-peasy!

take one small glass bottle with a cork. wash thoroughly. leave to dry.
take 3 vanilla pods and cut lengthways leaving a little bit still intact at the bottom.
take one cup of any alcohol you, rum, grappa, or in my case the local brew, arak and pour into little glass bottle.
stuff in the 3 vanilla pods.
store in a cool, dark place for 2 months to allow flavour to infuse.
use generously in baking...when levels deplete, top up and re-store.

could anything be simpler? who needs rocket science after all!

Monday, 16 March 2009

thai pineapple curry banana bread...devilishly divine!

so what do you do when you read on another blog, in this case the fabulous Not Quite Nigella, about a recipe that seems sure to tantalise the taste buds in a variety of ways? why you get out your mixing bowl and start making it, that's what! i mean how could i resist this recipe...curry pineapple banana bread??? the name itself conjures up a mixture of reactions ranging from the thoughts in your can there be curry in a cake? to the impending taste on your tongue...hmmm, curry and banana...ok, ok...there's a possibility it could i jsut had to find out for myself. the recipe originally came from an entry by Catherine from Clever Monkey Studio in a competition that was held on the blog...a banana bread bake-off, where everyone submitted entries based on their favourite banana breads. i entered it but don't remember seeing this recipe until it popped up last week on Not Quite Nigella's blog and my curiosity was piqued...i knew i had to give it a go.

and what a treat...i mean really, this has to be one of the nicest banana breads i have tasted in a long time. from the moment i started making it, there was surprise after surprise. i mean, the way you mix the ingredients for starters seems to be all back-to-front...start with the wet ingredients, end with the dry? but i have faith so i followed and the final batter was lovely and thick, with that beautiful orange tinge that can only come from the addition of the curry powder. and then 3 tablespoons of curry powder, i mean it seemed so excessive? could it really need that much? but in it per instructions...

well, the smell of it baking in the oven was really enough to produce enough saliva to...umm, not sure where i can go with that...but you know what i mean. it was heavenly. rich and spicy and aromatic. and then when it came out...all golden and cracking open...oh, did i really have to wait for it to cool. i mean where was my brother when i needed him?...the one who always demands instant cutting of cakes...

and once i had a peek inside...oh it was better than opening the cover of a brand new book...those pieces of pineapple had become little blobs of soft, jammy, gooey stuff and the bread was rich and dark, and the smell...the bananas came through so wonderfully but then there was that faint hint of the curry. and that first mouthful...oh, divine upon divine...i loved it. not too sweet, but oh-so-flavourful...this is definitely to be made again...and if you know what's good for'll get those mixing bowls out and be inspired to make one too!

Thai Pineapple Curry Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp coconut milk powder (or unsweetened coconut)
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray Mix with spoon in a large bowl, melted butter, mashed bananas and coconut milk powder. Mix in sugars, egg, lime juice and curry powder. Add pineapple and mix. Mix in baking soda. Add the flour and mix. Pour into greased 4x8 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on rack before removing from pan.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

a very Happy (un)Birthday to Me!'s my birthday...and for my party i just HAD to make my own cupcakes...cos let's face it...i'm such a freaking cake snob that i am so fussy about eating something i haven't made myself. i mean it has to be really to avoid disappointment...i D-I-Y it! Being such an Alice in Winderland fan, i decided to throw a MadHatter's Tea Party and what better cupcakes than these...colourful vanilla cupcakes...decorated with those all important words 'eat me'. the very words that get Alice into all that trouble in the first place!
Happy Birthday to Me!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

tutu cakes...the singapore answer to cupcakes??

so, i spent a lot of my childhood growing up in Singapore and one of my most favourite things to eat as a child, were tutu cakes or kueh tutu. i guess whilst most other children were growing up having cupcakes or fairy cakes (depending on what part of the world they were in) i grew up eating these. tutu cakes are basically little steamed cakes made from rice flour and with a filling of either sweetened coconut or chopped peanuts. often it's the simplicity of things that most appeals to me and these little cakes couldn't get much simpler. they are prepared on the spot and steamed in a couple of minutes and can be eaten while they're soft and warm straight from the steamer. so today while i was out, i found a counter selling them and just couldn't resist a trip down memory lane and a chance to experience a childhood favourite snack. i think generally it was being able to watch the whole process that fascinated me most and of course the fact that they could be eaten straight away. see for yourself...

the process of making the cakes - rice flour put first into the mold, the coconut is put on top

the cake is then covered up with more rice flour - you can see the chopped peanuts and the sweetened coconut...i've always been a coconut kinda gal!

the cakes are popped in the steamer

steamed for mere minutes in the very serious looking steamer...

then taken out and placed on a small square of banana leaf to stop them sticking together

you get 5 for $2.00 - in a plastic bag, no less!

and most importantly they must be instantly enjoyed, while still warm...a perfect little light fluffy cake...soft and delicate just like a tutu!

and inside...moist, sweet coconut...5 of these little guys are never enough!

you can find these little cakes in most food courts and hawker centres in Singapore...a local delight...made on the spot and not to be missed!

Friday, 2 January 2009

the cheesecake cafe, singapore

so, i went for coffee with a friend and we ended up at the cheesecake cafe at Siglap. and wow, what a surprise when i walked in the door. the decor of the inside was very baroque...but kinda overdone for me. i love concept cafes...don't get me wrong but this was a little too much. all that gold, all those statues...more like a renaissance brothel, perhaps, than a cheesecake cafe. anyway, then to my surprise we were handed a menu...which was a DVD cover! it was like huh? you decide on a concept cafe...but then you don't follow make the menu a DVD cover which just doesn't blend with your theme...have a scroll, have something velvet-y...
ok so, after peering in the glass case i decided on a peanut butter cheesecake and my friend on a strawberry oreo cheesecake. the selection was a tad disappointing - i was expecting more...more cakes, more experimental flavours, more temptation. you're a cheesecake cafe, pretty much only selling cheesecake, so surprise me! tempt me! shake things up a bit!

the cheesecakes came and presentation was simple...the cake on the plate with not too much decoration on top, nothing additional on the plate...but then i shouldn't complain...i mean it's a cheesecake cafe so you serve it straight up because it's all about the cheesecake, right.

the strawberry oreo cheesecake was good - very light and i liked the oreo in the middle of it. the strawberry wasn't too overpowering and was more like a mousse and the plain cheesecake below was just nice, also light...the flavours blended together well and it was a good combination, even though personally i'm not a big fan of strawberry-flavoured things. i liked also that there was an oreo biscuit base...i've made one of those before and they're yummy!

then i had the peanut butter cheesecake...oh was a little too much. i thought the combination would be interesting but it the peanut butter combined with the cheesecake which seemed very thick and heavy, left a very pasty sensation in your that you kinda felt like your mouth was sticking together and you needed to follow each mouthful with a gulp of water. for me, cheesecake needs to be light and even more so when you pair it with peanut butter - which is ntaurally quite heavy and gooey. i was obviously a little disappointed with this. i think i might have swirled the peanut butter through the cheesecake...rather than a layer on top and definitely lightened up the cheesecake itself.
finally, i must add, that as i attempted to take photos of both the cakes and the decor, i was swiftly informed by a staff member that photography of the cafe was only allowed if a member of the party were in it! huh? but by then i'd taken the shots i'd needed...but that's a first time for me to receive a warning like that...interesting...

the cheesecake cafe
685 East Coast Road Singapore 459054 (Near Siglap Centre)

Thursday, 1 January 2009

lovely champagne cupcakes for New Year's Eve!

so what is the perfect kind of cupcake for New Year's Eve? obviously something with sparkly bubbly in it...because that is the festive drink of the evening. everyone raises their glasses full of fabulous champagne and wishes for a year ahead full of health, wealth, happiness and prosperity. so how about taking said fabulous champagne and using it to make some cupcakes...i mean it has to be possible, right? people put all kinds of alcohol into cakes so why not champagne...surely all those bubbles would make any batter light, airy and ever-so-fairy!
so i set to searching the internet for recipes and found a few that interested i did a bit of a mish-mash by combining a couple of recipes into was so fun working with pink champagne...i just loved the way it bubbled up as it was poured into the batter. and the result...absolute fascination by all when they heard my reply as to what i had baked for the evenings festivities...'pink champagne cupcakes...really?' 'can you put champagne in cupcakes?' the answer is most definitely a resounding Y-E-S to both questions. the champagne seemed to add this whole other-worldliness element to the cupcakes. they were so light and fluffy but with this delicate aroma and taste of the rosy perfect! i topped them with cream cheese champagne icing and some delightful chocolate squares that had those ever so important words printed on them. everyone was very taken with them and most, i noticed, had two all to themselves. and that for me is truly the sign that they taste good. i mean it's polite to eat one...but two...that's pure enjoyment! i just love when things go exactly according to plan...when you have an see it through to fruition and it is shamelessly devoured down to the last crumb...
may i take a moment to wish all my fantastic readers and fans a very very Happy New Year. may all your dreams come true in 2009 and may i continue to bake, create and please...don't break those resolutions now with too many cupcakes...unless they're mine, of course!