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!