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Thursday, December 25, 2014

christmas tree cake.

dessert - christmas tree cake (swiss roll tower)

Merry Christmas everyone! I don't know about you guys, but Christmas is definitely my favorite time of the year. The joyful jingles, the trees adorned with baubles and tinsel and pretty lights, the presents... it's such a magical season! Brings tears to my eyes and all (really) (well sometimes).

So in honour of my favorite day, I baked a Christmas-themed cake. Usually log cakes would come to mind but you know, I'm not a very conventional person so I decided to do a christmas tree version of the swiss roll tower. I didn't use the recipe in that post though; frankly I had to bake in the morning and I knew that if I attempted something too complicated in my half-awoken state I might mess it up. Thus I chose a simpler swiss roll recipe that utilizes only four ingredients, which is pretty much idiot proof. Unfortunately it wasn't the best recipe for my christmas tree cake because the bottom of the cake, which would be the side facing outwards, developed a brown skin that was undesirable because I needed the green to be prominent. I tried to brush off as much of the skin as I could but there were patches of it that I could not get rid off without ripping off a considerable chunk of cake as well. I should have stuck to the recipe I used for the swiss roll tower because the bottom doesn't turn brown at all. Oh well.

The swiss roll is filled with a matcha cream cheese filling as I added a bit of matcha powder into the batter to give the cake it's green colour. I attempted to recreate christmas lights by piping royal icing around the cake and sticking M&Ms onto random parts of the icing. The icing isn't really obvious because I made it a tad too thin. For the ornaments I baked sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles.

I'm a little bummed that the cake didn't turn out as well as I envisioned it although it was kinda fun trying to piece it all together. I hope that you guys are enjoying your Christmas baking as well!  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

best cocoa brownies (with sautéed bananas).

Hey all! Just casually popping by to breathe some life back into this dusty space before it turns into a tangle of cobwebs. My creative juices have not really been churning lately so I've been revisiting a couple of old favorites, like these cocoa brownies like Alice Medrich. I blogged about them a few times before but did not quite give them the full attention they deserve so today I shall finally do them justice.

These brownies are probably still one of the best brownies I've ever tasted - intensely chocolaty (although I would cut down on the sugar a bit) and fudgy (try them when they're cold through!). Plus they are a breeze to whip up; this recipe requires really the most basic of brownie ingredients. If the crackly top is a major deal breaker in your book, this recipe does yield brownies of that nature if you whisk the batter a bit longer (I forgot to this time). I imagine it must be air bubbles in the batter that contributes to the crinkly magic.

Aaaand I had to saute some bananas to have with the brownies. Lip-smacking.

dessert - best cocoa brownies with sauteed bananas

Best Cocoa Brownies
recipe by Alice Medrich
makes an 8 x 8 inch pan's worth

10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.

Combine the butter, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter has melted and mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating the first fully before adding the second, until the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended. Add the flour and stir until all traces of it disappear.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely before slicing. Placing them in the fridge until they're completely cold would make slicing easier.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

banana cake with peanut butter frosting.

Why hello there! It's been a while. Somehow I feel that's the tone I've been adopting for all recent blog entries. It pains me to admit it but my interest in baking has been waning somewhat. But I'm sure I'll get my motivation back when I get to sample some of the finest pastries ever created during my upcoming holiday trip (Japan I'm coming for you!).

The inspiration for this cake stems from pictures of flower-adorned cakes I found on Instagram. I'm actually not really a fan of using non-edible decorations because I feel that there are many other options that can both make a cake look good and complement the flavours of the cake. Flowers and figurines are eye-catching of course but using them feels like cheating (although I make an exception for the miniature reindeers and santa clauses on log cakes). Out of curiosity though, I felt like trying to embellish a cake with flowers just for once.

dessert - banana cake with peanut butter frosting

I decided to get fake flowers so that I could reuse them if I thought them to be acceptable decorations for cake after all. My original plan was to bake a regular round cake (i.e. not using a tube pan) and have the flowers, with their stems removed and all, arranged on the surface and sides in some artsy fartsy manner but I had a change of heart in the midst of brutally twist-snapping the stems off and decided to make use of the cavity of a cake baked in a tube pan. I would position the flowers in the cavity like I would flowers in a vase. To finish I would pipe a basket weave pattern on the sides of the cake because y'know, flowers, basket. Yeah. (I swear that sometimes even I can't keep up with myself.) I'm pleased with the way the cake turned out to be honest. I quite like the combination of colours of the flowers. But when you slice the cake you have to remove the flowers in the centre and poof just like that the magic noticeably disappears.

Well, I wasn't planning to bake a cake solely for experimenting with flower decoration; I wanted an excuse to bake my favorite banana bread again as well. This is my go-to recipe for banana bread - it practically screams banana and is extremely extremely moist. Even if you eat it straight from the fridge when it's supposed to be so cold flavours can't come through very prominently you can definitely tell that it's banana bread with your eyes closed. And I love how the top of the cake gets a little gummy when I wrap it while it's still warm and leave it like that to cool.

Even if you have no interest in adorning your next cake with flowers I sincerely urge you to try this recipe. Peanut butter frosting mandatory.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
cake recipe adapted from Flour Bakery

I scaled down the recipe by half and baked it in a 6 inch tube pan but the quantities reflected below are the original recipe's. You will need a loaf pan about the size of a 9 x 5 inch.

For the cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

For the frosting:
refer to this post

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat the sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in the oil. Add the mashed bananas, creme fraiche and vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients and nuts.

Pour into the lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Cool cake completely before frosting.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

classic french croissants.

It's strange that I would attempt making croissants when I can't even roll out cookie dough decently. The power of boredom is amazing. But you know what? I think I've always made croissants out to be more difficult to make than they actually are. Sure they're a little more difficult to master (I think), but they're not exactly something that home bakers cannot and must not attempt for they'll flop for sure. In fact I think I'll give this recipe another go because I accidentally made these smaller than I wanted them to be. And forgot the egg wash.

The step of wrapping the butter in the dough and rolling it out was pretty nerve wracking because the butter was stone-hard as it was stone-cold and certain parts of the dough were thinner than the rest so bits of butter would occasionally poke through the dough. I had to constantly patch those holes up with dough from the thicker portions. The rolling and folding gradually got easier as the dough spent more time in the fridge so discounting the start, I actually thought that the process was pretty fun. I was tempted to create more layers because it was so easy to do so but more layers actually hamper the rise of your croissants so don't get carried away!

pastries / breakfast - classic french croissants

Before I embarked on making the croissants I did some research. Tips, basically, on how to avoid a croissant calamity. One particularly useful one I found on a thread was to trim the ends of the folded dough such that dough containing no butter is removed. I think this helps to prevent your croissants from baking up misshapen by keeping the layers of butter and dough even. I ended up with a lot of unwanted dough and I didn't want to waste them so I gathered them all up, braided the pieces and baked them separately.

To be honest, I don't eat a lot of croissants so while I can more or less judge that one is better than the other, I'm not sure what really makes one superior. I felt that these were passable texture wise - quite flaky, not too dense - but there is just something that these are lacking. I'm still trying to figure it out. I have a feeling that the problem may lie in my rolling technique more than the recipe itself. So I don't know if this recipe is the best out there but for record's sake I shall just post it here. If you have any tips on making croissants please share. Similarly if you have a great recipe to recommend I'll be eternally grateful!  

Classic French Croissants
makes 15 regular sized croissants

500g plain flour
140g water
140g milk (can be taken straight from the fridge)
55g sugar
40g soft unsalted butter
11g instant yeast
12g salt

280g cold unsalted butter for laminating
1 egg + 1 tsp water for the egg wash

Refer to this link for instructions with a pictorial guide.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

cheesecake choux puffs.

So I've been in a choux puff craze lately, although strictly speaking I've always loved this pastry. I've actually made another batch using this choux recipe before but didn't post it on the blog as the filling wasn't really up to expectations. The choux pastry was so good though that I found myself churning out flavour ideas just so that I could make the puffs again.

This recipe makes 12 largish puffs so I decided to split the batch into two flavours - matcha and cream cheese. For the latter I would top the dough with streusel before baking to give the puff a crunch that alludes to the texture of the base of a cheesecake. Although if I were to make this again, I would bake the streusel separately and fold it into the mousse instead of using it to top the puffs because it burns rather easily. If you're curious about the matcha ones, the mousse is made from instant matcha pudding with whipped cream folded into it, which is why I'm afraid I can't provide a recipe for them. It tasted good though because the pudding mix is from a renowned Japanese brand!

As for the cream cheese mousse, it's more on the tart than the sweet side which I felt complemented the streusel nicely and quite liked even though I'm not a huge fan of non-sweet cream cheese anything. If you like yours sweeter just increase the amount of sugar. Also note that the mousse has a rather loose consistency so you should try to make it in advance and refrigerate it so that it has time to firm up and is easier to pipe.

The choux pastry is probably the best I've ever tried in terms of its sturdiness when baked. Before encountering this recipe I used Pierre Herme's which calls for an equal amount of milk and water for the liquid component. The milk makes the choux more flavourful but also less crisp. The pastry tastes great but I've always wanted the puffs to be taller just because they look more appealing that way and also because you can pipe more filling into them. This recipe here uses only water so the pastry bakes up more firm and they still taste pretty darn good (read: deliciously buttery) despite the lack of milk. I can't say for sure if this batch tastes better than those made using Pierre Herme's recipe but I think it's sufficiently tasty and any flavour compromised for height is well worth it. I think I might give Pierre Herme's choux recipe another go soon before I make any conclusions.

Oh and this recipe is capable of yielding choux puffs taller than these you see here. I reduced the baking time because I was worried that the streusel would be reduced to charcoal if I were to give them a few extra minutes. The streusel may also have weighed the puffs down a bit. I promise that their maximum possible height is actually very impressive.

I can't even imagine how good these would taste in churro form *lightbulb moment*.

dessert - cheesecake (and matcha) choux puffs

Cheesecake Choux Puffs
choux pastry recipe adapted from here
makes 12 large ones

For the pate a choux:
125g water
2.5g salt
2.5g sugar
62g butter
75g flour, sifted
110g egg (about 2 eggs)

For the cheesecake mousse:
6 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the streusel (you won't use all of it):
22g sugar
23g brown sugar
pinch of salt
37g butter, melted
60g cake flour

Make the mousse: Beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup cream together until combined. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Whip the 1/3 cup cream to soft peaks and fold into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside in the fridge.

Make the streusel: Whisk the sugars, salt and butter together. Add the flour and stir until mixture becomes a thick cohesive dough. Set aside.

Make the pate a choux: Preheat oven to 210C. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.

Combine the water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the sifted flour. Mix vigorously until the mixture becomes a smooth dough. Stir it around for another minute before transferring to a bowl of a stand mixer.

Using a paddle attachment, beat the ball of dough until it has cooled down slightly then beat in the eggs one by one, mixing well between each addition. The resulting dough should be smooth and supple. You may not need to use all the eggs.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a round plain tip. Pipe large mounds of dough (2 tbsp worth) onto the prepared baking sheets. Take the streusel dough, pinch off small lumps of it and scatter the pieces on top of the piped mounds of dough.

Bake until the puffs have risen to their maximum size (around 12 minutes) then lower the temperature down to 160C and bake until the puffs are brown, hollow and crisp (around another 12 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Fill puffs and refrigerate until cold.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

milo nutella cream cheese swiss roll cakes.

dessert - milo nutella cream cheese swiss roll cakes

Hi all! Have you noticed the new christmas themed blog title that's smaller than it should be because I don't know how to adjust it? You have? Yay! (I really tried my best with the background image but codes are just not my thing.) I even tried adding a widget that would make snowflakes fall but they stopped a third of the way down and that didn't seem quite right so I erased it. I also considered inserting a christmas jingle but I was limited by my non-existent computer skills. You would think that after 5 years of blogging I should have picked up a trick or two but nope. nada. zilch. Oh wait but hey I managed to insert the pinterest function - gigantic achievement there.

In case you're wondering why it sounds like christmas came early for me it's because my exams have finally ended! *fireworks* Having to endure constant studying over a duration of 2 months is absolutely no fun at all. And I wouldn't have to take another test for another 9 months or so so that's pretty awesome.

Now that I've all the time in the world to bake, I made something that's a bit more elaborate than the quick cookies and scones I had to content myself with until recently. Basically what we have here is a milo sponge encasing a nutella and cream cheese filling (I added a few walnuts in the middle to fatten up the roll). I then decorated the slices with soil made up of finely crushed oreo pieces and a tree stump shaped biscuit before finishing with a dusting of icing sugar to mimic freshly fallen snow. There's also a mushroom version of the biscuit which I initially wanted to use but the it was out of stock at the supermarket. This cake is one of my many christmas themed bakes I have lined up for the next few weeks, or at least I think it is - it doesn't really scream christmas, does it? My original idea was to have the cake as a tree stump and little mushroom biscuits grow out of it but since I couldn't find the mushroom ones and used little tree stumps instead... I don't think it worked out quite well. (Well in the first place having fungi grow out of tree stumps wasn't that fantastic an idea either.) Anyhoo, it was fun decorating it all the same!

As much as I like the appearance, I don't find the sponge particularly fantastic I'm afraid. The milo taste was weak and the outermost layer of the sponge itself (the part with a darker shade of brown) was slightly chewy probably because I didn't mix the milo powder in properly, although I must admit I quite like the colour of it because it mildly resembles the bark of a tree. I was initially planning on mimicking a tree stump by covering the outsides of the cake with ganache but what the cake turned out conveniently not needing any extra chocolate make up. If you would like to attempt this creation, I suggest you use a chocolate sponge recipe of your own or if you insist on giving this a shot anyway, I referred to the recipe here sans the decoration bit. The nutella cream cheese filling was great albeit minimalist - it's just a 50-50 ratio of nutella to cream cheese.

I guess that's it from me today since the only thing that needs a recipe is the cake which I don't feel quite comfortable recommending. I hope the next one would be a better success!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

sweet banana and chocolate chip scones.

Mmm I think I'll just let the pictures do the talking today. All I want to say is that these scones are definitely not dense but are in fact delightfully light and fluffy, in case you're worried about the banana puree weighing them down. The taste of banana is indubitably detectable without being too overpowering nor mild, although if you use bittersweet chocolate chips your tastebuds may not be so attuned to the banana flavour and may consequently seem quite faint. Thus I'll advise that you use semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet. Also, these exude the most heavenly aroma once they're baked. I made the dough the night before and popped them in the oven for breakfast - the best kind of wake-up call.

tea time / dessert - sweet banana and chocolate chip scones

Sweet Banana and Chocolate Chip Scones
makes 8 (large) scones
slightly modified from Baking by Flavour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 large eggs
6 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Whisk the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and confectioners' sugar together. Add the chunks of butter and rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles sand.

Whisk the eggs, heavy cream and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Blend in the mashed bananas.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, add the chocolate chips and stir to form a dough.

Knead the dough lightly on a well-floured work surface for 10 seconds until it is slightly less sticky. Pat into an 81/2 to 9 inch round disk. Cut into eight wedges and transfer the scones to a lined baking sheet, placing them about 3 inches apart. (I actually skipped the kneading and slicing of the dough and just scooped large spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet directly.) Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Bake the scones for 17 to 20 minutes.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

double chocolate double peanut butter cookies.

snack / dessert - double chocolate double peanut butter cookies

I really shouldn't be doing this.

I really shouldn't be baking but I've got the dreaded mid-afternoon slump and nothing from my notes is registering very well nor is it more than a fleeting presence in my cloudy consciousness. At least baking is more useful than taking an undeserved afternoon shut-eye right?

Today I'm going with cookies because I found some Reese's peanut butter chips in the fridge and I have a recipe that I had bookmarked a long time ago that utilises them. This is my first time laying my hands on these peanut butter chips - a historical moment y'all!

So the cookies in question combine the flavours of chocolate and peanut butter, a pairing which in my opinion, is only natural when you think of peanut butter. I could not have thought of a more justifiable way to use these peanut butter chips because these cookies are 101% gold. They are a perfect balance of peanut butter and chocolate and have a texture reminiscent of a warm brownie when just out of the oven. And just like a good brownie, these are fudgy goodness when chilled.

P.S. The cookie dough is delicious. Be warned.

Double Chocolate Double Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from here with slight modifications

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until well-combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating to fully incorporate the first before adding the second. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and stir until almost all traces of flour have disappeared. Stir in the chocolate and peanut butter chips until they're distributed evenly throughout the dough and no streaks of flour remain. Chill the dough overnight or for at least 4 hours.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. For each cookie, measure out a rounded tablespoon, roll it into a ball and place onto a lined baking sheet. Space each ball of dough at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges look just set.

Cool cookies on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Friday, November 7, 2014

favorite belgian waffles.

dessert - favorite belgian waffles

Hey everyone! I managed to find a small pocket of time amidst the hectic studying to make breakfast today so since such occasions are rare these days, I decided to go all out and make waffles! I think it must have been at least a year since I used my waffle maker and I had to spend at least 15 minutes restoring it to a sparkly clean condition. I'll spare you the details.

This is my favorite recipe for waffles to date because they're fluffy but not overly so (waffles that are too airy aren't very satisfying in my opinion) and they have a great buttery flavour. They also aren't too eggy, which I think we all agree is a very important point, so there's no need to pour in buckets of vanilla extract.

And as always, I topped my waffle off with a scoop of ice cream! Yes, ice cream for breakfast. Because there's never an inappropriate time for ice cream in my books. 

Favorite Belgian Waffles

adapted from here with slight modifications
makes 8 waffles

2 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
3/4 stick butter, melted and cooled (or use a 50-50 ratio of butter to oil if you don't like your waffles too buttery and rich)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Whisk the wet ingredients together and pour into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined and set aside while you preheat the waffle iron.

Pour about 1/2 cup of batter into the waffle iron once it's ready and bake according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

pocky cake.

dessert - pocky cake

Today I came across a quote that spoke to me on many different levels:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you com alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

And then I found another quote:

"In quoting others, we cite ourselves." - Julio Cortázar

In the words of Bernie Kropp of The Incredibles, "Coincidence? I think not." (Or perhaps it could be - after all, I was looking at a compilation of at least 50 quotes.)

I told myself a few days ago that after the last cake I made, the oven mittens have to be put away, the spatula kept securely in its drawer. No I may not touch the butter, cookies are for eating and not for making tart crusts. Chocolate should be kept cold, not thrown into a warm bowl to be reduced to a delicious puddle.

Just 3 more weeks, a petrifying thought, yet in equal measure exciting. Just 3 more weeks and life will go back to normal. To the normalcy of 8 hour sleeps, indulging in fiction and not research papers, to step out of the front door into the embrace of fun activity without every step taken being leaden with bricks of guilt.

Just 3 more weeks. Time is ticking away. The countdown is starting to hit a desperate note. A pile of notes beckons yet here I am still typing. Forgive me for from this point I shall hurry.

Decoration: Pocky sticks of strawberry and chocolate in their respective shades of bright pink and dark brown to be arranged side by side around the borders of a freshly frosted cake. Focus of the cake. Ribbon optional.

Cake: A mixed berries yoghurt cake. Fluffy, fruity, pocky-cake-worthy. This echoes the strawberry pocky.

Filling: Chocolate cake that has been reduced to crumbs, mixed with a generous amount condensed milk and a spoonful or two of milk. Tastes like fudge but with texture; a great way to use up leftover cake apart from making cake balls. I confess that I made cut-out chocolate cake hearts to be baked with the yoghurt cake batter but I totally forgot about their existence. Baking when I'm barely awake always results in a mishap or two - yet I never learn.

So here's the recipe, have fun!

Pocky Cake
makes a 5 inch cake

For the cake:
2 eggs
2/3 cup mixed berries yoghurt (feel free to use plain though)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

For the filling:
leftover chocolate cake, crumbed
condensed milk

For the frosting:
3/4 stick butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
pinch of salt

For decoration:
4 boxes of pocky

Bake the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare three 5 inch round cake pans.

Combine the eggs, 1/4 of the yoghurt and vanilla.

Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix on low speed until combined. Add the butter and remaining buttermilk and continue to mix until everything is moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gradually add the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 minutes after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

Divide cake batter evenly amongst cake pans and bake for around 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool cakes completely.

Make the filling: Mix the chocolate cake crumbs and enough condensed milk to form a paste. Add a splash of milk to loosen if too stiff.

Make the frosting: Beat the butter until smooth. Add the icing sugar and salt and beat until light and fluffy.

Assemble the cake: Trim the tops of the cakes if necessary to make them flat. Take the first layer of cake, spread half the filling on top, place the second layer on top of the filling, spread the remaining filling on top and finish with the last layer of cake.

Frost the outsides of the cake with the frosting. It will just be a thin layer but that's sufficient for getting the pocky to stick to the sides. Arrange the pocky sticks around the sides of the cake. Refrigerate cake until frosting has firmed up before serving.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

vegan chocolate kit kat cake.

Two days ago on the 16th of October, I finally graduated from junior college. (And then returned to school the next day for some mandatory briefing which was totally anti-climatic.) I have never known a more grueling time than these two years. All the late nights rushing out homework which resulted in precious breaks spent in a state of comatose, all the math quizzes and essays handed back with single digits scrawled in angry red ink, all the trudging up and down flights of stairs that seem strangely steeper on days I clocked in only a grand total of four hours of shut-eye; I'm so glad that I won't have to go through this experience again for at least a good few months but there remains the one final hurdle separating me and 12-hours-of-sleep-a-day paradise - an exam known affectionally and ironically as "As".

For the last official day of school, I baked this cake sorta as a parting gift for my friends and classmates because of the symbolic meaning of kit kats in Japan. Kit kats are pronounced as kitto katto in Japanese, which loosely translates to good luck. The vegan chocolate cake wasn't my original intention; I wanted to bake a sour cream cake instead but the fridge was out of eggs. My mum neglected to mention that she used up all of the remaining 8 for her cake after I'd madly rushed to the supermarket after my graduation ceremony with only 15 minutes to spare before closing time. Best mum award.

dessert - vegan chocolate kit kat cake

I was worried that the cake might not well-received but it turned out okay. The cake wasn't as chocolaty as the chocolate cakes I usually make but other than that slight drawback, it's pretty good for a vegan recipe. The amount of flour that goes into this is pretty shocking but if you take care not to overbake it the cake won't turn out anywhere near dry.

*Ending abruptly because my linguistic creativity is momentarily stumped*

Vegan Chocolate Kit Kat Cake
makes an 8 inch cake
adapted from the Flour Bakery cookbook

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp molasses (I left out)

kit kats, for decorating

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8 inch round or square cake pan.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.

Whisk the water, oil, vanilla and molasses together in a separate bowl.

Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth and homogenous. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean, about 20 minutes.

Cool in the pan until the cake is slightly warm, decorate with the kit kats and refrigerate. The heat from the cake will cause the chocolate to melt slightly so when you refrigerate the cake and the chocolate firms up again, the kit kats will stick to the cake.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

i'm in a book!

Hey guys! I have a very exciting piece of news for y'all today - I'm in Ramin Ganeshram's new book, FutureChefs!

Sometime late last year I was asked if I was interested to be featured in a compilation of talented young chefs (age 18 and under) and immensely flattered, I readily agreed.

p.s. there's a printing error in this page - my surname is "Koh" and not "Yi" due to Chinese naming practices

Yesterday, I received my copy of FutureChefs and it was pretty much like a dream come true seeing my name in print (on page 231!). But having my name in the same book with 149 other extremely extremely brilliant bakers and cooks is an even greater honor. Honestly, as I was reading their stories and accomplishments, I was wondering what I was even doing in that book; some kids have even been on TV, participating in cooking competitions and winning! In comparison to them, I just have this blog. But I love this blog, and 5 years worth of dedication has gone into it, and for that, I'm extremely elated and thankful that the effort is recognised ☺

I submitted the recipe for my lemon, white chocolate and strawberry cake to be published in the book (the same one that I submitted to Foodie Crush's summer magazine last year). I don't really remember how it tastes like now because it's been two years since I made it but it remains the most memorable recipe to me for the fact that it's one that I cobbled together instead of completely following a recipe, and which has soared to the number one spot on the popular post ranking on this blog (see sidebar on your right).

The pictures in that post aren't that great, the writing isn't that impressive. I would like to think that I've improved slightly in both aspects but I'm still light-years away from perfect. Being featured in FutureChefs has spurred me on even more to be a better baker in the future. Thank you all for your support thus far - I wouldn't be able to come so far without you guys!