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First Week of LCB, Sydney (ft. Sun dried tomato, olive, caper pasta)




SO, I’ve officially embarked on my baking journey and I just had my the first week of studying at LCB, Sydney as a patisserie student. How exciting! Honestly, I hadn’t experienced such a hectic schedule since I graduated from uni. It was quite an overwhelming week during which I was poured with tons of new information that I literally walked home like a zombie every day (especially with all the tools I had to carry). The long school hours was out of my expectations too – 7:30 or 8:30am to 6pm – but luckily I can feel that my biological clock is slowly adjusting to this new lifestyle, because I start to wake up by 9am no matter what.

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On the plus side, I feel blessed that now I get to be surrounded with amazing, knowledgeable chefs and classmates of common interests the moment I enter the campus. This week, we were taught to make several basic French desserts, namely scones, friand, pound cake, victoria sponge cake. I must confess that I also struggled a bit with making these “relatively easy” cakes because I predictably got nervous and disorientated working in a new kitchen. The photos I took of them don’t look nice enough (without my proper camera), so please pardon me that I don’t show my works here yet haha. But I promise that I will show you guys my bakes made in LCB kitchen later.

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Funny enough, for the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking more savory than sweet at home as I have to feed my own tummy. So I decided to share with you my favourite pasta recipe – it’s so easy, nutritious, and bursting with flavours that I’d make it every time I crave pasta for a quick dinner. I am in love with this pasta dish for its flexibility, for I consider it the base that I can feel free to twist around based on the ingredients available at home. For examples, sometimes I’d also add mushroom or tuna to the dish when I feel like it. Therefore, be as creative with this simple recipe as you can, and surprise yourself with the result!

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Ingredients (serve 2):

  • 200g spaghetti (or other pasta)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomato, sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp dried italian herbs
  • a handful of olives , each cut in half
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Toasted Pine nut, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 4-5 mins. Add garlic and cook for another 1 minute (be careful not to burn the garlics). Add tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar, and dried herbs. Reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked pasta, olives, capers and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Yum




3 comments
Chinkiang Vinegar Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs (鎮江糖醋排)




TIME FOR SAVORY! I know, I know, I’ve been sharing dessert recipes to the point that my life appeared to consist of nothing but sugar and butter (aka a standard baker’s life). Well, I do cook as well. So if you’re looking for an easy Chinese dinner recipe for a family feast, you found the right place.

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The reason why I finally decided to post a savory dish on my blog is that it means something more than just one of my favourite chinese dishes. It is a dish that represents the start of my true cooking journey. This dish was among the very first dishes I made on my own for a purpose: international dinner, a “tradition” that everyone had to follow in our shared student apartment to showcase our own home cuisines way back during my exchange. I had panicked so much due to my lack of cooking experiences at the time (I tried to look up as many Chinese/HK recipes as I could online and I felt as f lots of my brains cells died in the process haha). But, phew, I did a pretty good job in the end and my friends were all impressed! Many had asked me why I became so passionate about cooking, and now you know why.

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Back to the actual food. To me, hands down, the thing that I like the most about Chinese cooking is its extensive use of “Sweet & Sour” – I know you feel it too, it is truly addictive. The proof is its popularity in the Chinese take-outs in foreign countries. Honestly, as someone who was born and raised in Hong Kong, I still can’t resist ordering sweet and sour pork every single time I dine in a Chinese restaurant.

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Regarding the dish, please don’t worry about the sauce being overly sour, because the sourness of the Chinkiang (or Zhenjiang) vinegar will be nicely balanced by the sweetness of sugar to become the yummiest sauce ever. Just prepare yourself a bowl of rice to have with it and you’re so good to go. I made this for my family and fingers crossed that they’ll like it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork ribs, each cut into 3 pieces
    • Marinade:
      • 2 tbsp corn flour
      • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
      • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 small ginger piece, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
  • 2 shallots, cut into thin slices
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small onions), cut into small chunks
  • 1 1/2  tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) Chinkiang  vinegar  
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 1 rock sugar (but if you don’t have it, use 4 tbsp raw sugar instead)
  • some roasted white sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Wash the spare ribs under running water, drain and dry well with kitchen towel.
  2. Cut each spare rib into 3 sections
  3. Marinade the spare ribs with corn flour, light soy sauce and white pepper for at least an hour.  
  4. Heat your pan with medium high heat. Add in spare ribs, cook each side for 2 mins until golden brown.
  5. Add in gingers, garlic, and shallots, stir well and sauté until they become fragrant.
  6. Add Shaoxing cooking wine, dark soy sauce, and sugar, stir well.
  7. Add Chinkiang vinegar, water, and sugar, stir well.
  8. Bring to boil, braise over low heat for 30-45 mins until ribs become tender and sauce thickens.
  9. When served, sprinkle roasted white sesame seeds on top.
2 comments
Because Why Not – Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting




This joyful looking cake came into existence for two reasons. First, apparently I loved making chocolate desserts too much and I must stay away from it (right?). Second, it doesn’t hurt to go for some classic sometimes. By classic, I mean the marriage of salty and sweet – Peanut Butter & Jelly – made famous by Americans. Of course, this combination shouldn’t be limited to a breakfast/snack sandwich; think about it, if it works brilliantly between two slices of bread, it surely can make a great cake too.

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I originally designed this layer cake for my friend’s birthday, and this is a new recipe modified mainly to improve the cake’s texture. My first PB&J cake was bit on the dry and tough side. Therefore, in my second attempt, I put in more eggs and oil, and I also decided to fold meringue into the cake batter at last instead of incorporating whole eggs. Such changes increased the volume of the cake with richer taste and finer structure.

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One indispensable component of this cake is the jam. The slightly tart strawberry jam with a citrus touch perfectly undercuts the richness of the buttercream. People who have been in my baking life would know that I always prefer making things from scratch, for I want to have great control of my baked goods (here comes the even greater satisfaction afterwards!). I couldn’t resist making my own strawberry jam for the cake (see note for instructions), but again, you can by all means purchase your favourite jam :). Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

(make one 6-inch cake)

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cup (188g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup (58g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crunchy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup (75g) granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites + 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting:

  • ¾ cup (150g) white granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tar tar
  • 1 ½ ( (345g) cups unsalted butter, softened  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) creamy peanut butter

For the homemade strawberry jam (or ½ cup store bought jam)

  • 250g  strawberries
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest of

Toppings:

  • Fresh strawberry slices
  • Extra peanut butter swiss buttercream

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line one 6 inch cake with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites, icing sugar and cream of tar tar. Using an electric beater, beat on high speed until soft peak forms. Transfer the meringue into another bowl; set aside.  
  5. Using the same mixing bowl you used to make the meringue, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  6. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, peanut butter and vanilla. Continue to beat at medium speed until well combined.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Mix on low speed until no flour can be seen.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared meringue into the cake batter with a spatula. Mix gently with folding motion until just incorporated.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 50 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the peanut butter swiss buttercream.

For the Peanut butter Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with a round tip for later use.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface.
  2. Cut the cake into three even layers.
  3. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  4. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  5. Pipe a generous amount of frosting evenly on the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it a thin layer of strawberry jam.
  6. Top it with the second cake layer and repeat step 5, and top it with the third cake layer.
  7. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  8. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  9. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, put thin strawberry slices and spinkle cocoa powder as garnish if desired.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.

Note:
Instructions for the homemade strawberry jam: 

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing them and drying them with a kitchen towel. Remove their stems. Crush strawberries in batches or cut them into small cubes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C, then turn off the heat.
  3. Let the jam cool to room temperature. Put the jam into jars and refrigerate until ready for use.

Yum




8 comments
Mint Chocolate Cupcake

Same as every other post, this starts with a declaration of love, and today it’s about my favourite dessert flavour combo – Mint Chocolate. I believe everyone has his/her own weakness in food choice; and no matter how hard I try to resist it, mint chocolate is beyond doubt mine. This is especially true when it comes to ice-cream flavour. Why? It is equal parts cool and sweet, and the best ones are so refreshing that they’d brighten up my day and clear my mind.

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Despite how mouthwatering and delicate they look, cupcakes are not something I’d usually order outside. Yet, as it’s one of my goals to try out as many kinds of desserts as possible on this blog of mine, I might as well give it a go, right? 

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From the base to the top of each cupcake, this recipe delivers great textural fun and flavour layering that I always strive for in baking. First, there’s an oreo biscuit added at the bottom as a nice, crunchy surprise. Thanks to the melted mint chocolate and coffee, the cupcake base is moist and rich, with just enough mint hit coming through. Finally, together with the mint-flavoured buttercream as well as the finishing touch of a cheeky little Andes mint chocolate chip, what you have here is a daydream literally packed with minty goodness. Hmm, too cool to be true. (:

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Ingredients (make 18 cupcakes):

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2  cup (188g) plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 18 Oreo biscuits
  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter,  softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil ( I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 cup (113g) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) coffee, room temperature (2 tsp instant coffee powder melted in 1/4 cup (60ml) of water)
  • 50g Andes chocolate mint, melted
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla

For the buttercream frosting: 

  • 2 cups (250g) icing  sugar
  • 1 1/2 stick (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp (30m1) whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) peppermint extract
  • green food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 18  Andes chocolate mints

Instructions:

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt. Set aside.  
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min. Add coffee, milk and melted mint chocolate, and continue beating for 30 secs.
  5. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until just incorporated. Do NOT overmix.
  6. Fill cupcake liners to nearly full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean.

For the buttercream frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Finally, add milk, vanilla, mint extract, food coloring, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 30 mins before piping.
  5. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with your favourite piping tip, and put an Andes chocolate mint on top as decoration if desired.

Yum




4 comments
Hopeless Romantic – Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting




Red Velvet Cake – always alluring by how romantic and gorgeous it looks. This is a recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; her method of separating the eggs into yorks and whites in the process rendered the cake extra light and fluffy. Also, given that it’s my second time making it, I’m proud to say that I’ve adjusted the recipe to get the texture, flavour, and sweetness just right to my taste. My apologies, but how can I miss this chance to declare, that it’s indeed a BLOODY good cake :p?

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You are the one who’s in control of how red the cake should appear: rose, crimson, or even blood red. Start with a few drops of coloring and eyeball it as you go. Just be extra careful when handling with food coloring; otherwise, you may create a domestic crime scene and end up spending a day trying to clean your kitchen (which i may or may not have done it myself).

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In fact , I had difficulties trying to pinpoint what a red velvet cake tasted like. In the most basic terms, its sponge cake’s flavour profile contains three major components, namely vanilla, chocolate, and buttermilk, working with and complementing one another. Essentially, together with the rich cream cheese frosting, a red velvet cake is a light chocolate cake with a little citrus kick. Still a bit confused? Well, I guess the only way to find that out is to try it out yourself, and win the heart of your special someone.

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Ingredients:

Cake

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2  tbsp (30ml) vanilla extract
  • liquid or gel red food coloring
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature/ or 1 cup (240ml) whole milk + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 500g full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature5
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt (i.e. everything listed under dry ingredients).
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  5. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, and beat at medium speed until well combined. Meanwhile, use a hand whisk to vigorous beat egg whites until floamy and thick; set aside.
  6. Add buttermilk (or milk + lemon juice) and vanilla extract to thin out the mixture.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Stir gently with a spatula to combine everything until no flour can be seen. Avoid over-mixing.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared egg whites into the cake batter with a spatula.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared cake tins. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter (at room temperature) at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 1 hour to get firm so as to hold its shape while you work on it later.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface (reserve and crumble the unwanted cake parts into small pieces for decoration).
  2. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  3. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  4. Put a generous amount of frosting on the middle of the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it with the second cake layer. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  5. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  6. Transfer the remaining cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag tipped with a tip that you prefer. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, sprinkle cake crumbles, stick thin strawberry slices to the side as garnish if desired.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy!




8 comments
Tiramisu Crepe Cake cross section
Presenting, a romantic twist on a classic dessert –  tiramisu crepe cake. It’s a work of patience, patience, and more patience. Making this cake was a huge pleasure for me though; by flipping over layer after layer of crepes, I had lots of alone time in the kitchen to ponder on life (lol, jk, or not).  Take this as a chance to think about all the little things and perhaps your own dessert dreams. Maybe you won’t believe it, but I wasn’t always a big fan of desserts. Yet, Tiramisu gets me nostalgic in the best ways, because it was one of my fav childhood treats when dining out with family. Slice of Tiramisu Crepe CakeThis recipe is inspired by a recipe from Tatyana’s Everyday Food, but a lot of changes have been made to ensure the crepe cake fits my own baking style. Tatyana, again, is a beloved Youtuber whose desserts never fail to amaze me. I’m so thankful that she actually was the one who pushed me to try making multi-layer cake in the first place. Tiramisu Crepe Cake cross section

Instead of ladyfingers soaked in coffee in the traditional Italian Tiramisu, there are now coffee-flavoured crepes wonderfully layered with a rich, sweet mascarpone cheese cream filling. If you don’t readily have coffee liqueur at home, feel free to substitute another liquor, such as dark rum, amaretto or the most conventionally used Marsala. Honestly, whatever alcohol you use, it’s going to elevate the flavours and bring your crepe cake to another level. What can I say, it’s the two most iconically romantic western cultures working together to melt hearts. 😉

close up of Tiramisu Crepe Cake

flat lay of Tiramisu Crepe Cake

Ingredients:

For the crepes:

  • 150g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 25g white granulated sugar
  • 480ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder melted in 60ml water
  • 60ml melted butter
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur
  • 1 tsp  vanilla

For the filling:

  • 400ml heavy cream, chilled
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur

Instructions:

Components

  1. Prepare the filling before creating any crepes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add mascarpone cheese and icing sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat them on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream, salt, vanilla, and coffee liqueur. Continue mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy. Don’t overmix, otherwise the over-whipped cream will be grainy and stiff. Refrigerate for later use.
  3. In a second large mixing bowl prepare the crepe batter. Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour until smooth. Add coffee mixture (make sure it has already cooled down to room temperature), milk, butter, sugar, coffee liqueur, and vanilla. Combine well until no lumps can be seen.
  4. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into center of the pan; swirl pan to evenly coat the entire base with batter. Cook for about 1 minute or until the edge can be easily lifted with a spatula. Flip crepe; cook for another 20 seconds. Transfer to a large plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. The batter should be enough to make 18-20 crepes. Remember to cool the crepes completely before assembling the cake.

When both the filling and crepes are completely cooled, prepare components for assembly.

Assembly

  1. Place a crepe onto a flat surface as your crepe cake base. Drop 1/4 cup filling onto this base and spread the filling evenly to almost the edges. Continue this process with remaining crepes and filling, leaving the last crepe with no filling.
  2. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top of the cake. Cover the crepe cake with plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight to let the cake set nicely. Enjoy! 




6 comments
Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll side view
There are zillions (emphasis on the z) of desserts that I haven’t tried making yet. But I am proud to say I unlocked another achievement today – a soft, fluffy cake roll. And this is a special one. The old saying goes there is light without dark, this dessert embraces this very notion – with its dark outer layers contrasted by its sweet, white whipped cream centre.Charcoal Black Sesame Cake RollHow is it so black though? A blend of two intriguing Asian staples – charcoal and sesame powder. Each of them adds a level of shade to the colour, while the sesame acts as a major source of that nutty, roasted flavour. Also, as I want my cake to be delicately sweet, I simply used whipped cream as my filling. Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll side viewNote that a cake roll can be a bit tricky to handle for the first time; but once you got the techniques right, it’s not that hard at all to make. Anna Olson’s tutorial of Jelly Roll Cakes on Youtube was a big help for this. Although I didn’t exactly follow her instructions in preparing the cake batter, I highly recommend that you closely watch how she handles the cake roll when out of the oven, creates the cake roll memories, and then roll it back with fillings. However, please mind that instead of dusting icing sugar onto the towel, I used charcoal powder as I wanted to retain the black exterior of the cake roll. Slice of Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll If you want to learn all the basic techniques of baking, do check out her channel. Trust me, Anna is no doubt the best baking teacher. She clearly explains how and why she does what she does in each video. Every time I learn so much from her.Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll slice top view Hope you’ll have a great weekend ahead!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 40ml milk
  • 40ml vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 50g cake flour 
  • 8g charcoal powder
  • 8g sesame powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 50g icing sugar, sifted

Filling:

  • 180ml (¾ cup) heavy cream

For dusting:

  • 2-3 tbsp extra charcoal powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Line a rectangular cake tin (25cm x 30cm x 1.5cm) with parchment paper. Slight grease the parchment paper with oil to avoid sticking.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add egg yolks, milk and oil. Mix well – this is your wet ingredients.
  4. In a second mixing bowl, sift in and combine well flour, charcoal powder, sesame powder, baking powder and salt. This mix is your dry ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 3 in three stages while mixing. Combine well but don’t overmix.
  6. In a third bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until soft peak forms. This will take about 5 mins. Gently fold the meringue into the cake batter in 3 additions.
    (For the parts below, instructions are copied from the Food Network’s Classic Raspberry Jelly Roll recipe with some changes.) 
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin.
  8. Bake the cake for 11-12 minutes, until the cake springs back when gently pressed in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 2 minutes on a cooling rack before loosening sides with a spatula.
  9. Sift a layer of charcoal powder over the surface of the cake and cover with a clean tea towel. Place a second cake pan over the towel and quickly invert the cake, removing the pan it was baked in. Peel off the parchment paper and dust this surface with icing sugar. Roll the cake up from the 10-inch side with the towel and let it cool completely for about 45 mins (cooling it rolled sets its “memory” so the cake won’t crack once filled). 
  10. 5 mins before the cake is completely cool, prepare the whipped cream. Pour chilled heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on slow speed for about 2 mins, then increase the speed gradually until it reaches a soft, creamy texture.
  11. Unroll the cake carefully and spread an even layer of cream over the cake. Gently roll the cake back up again before dusting the top with charcoal powder. Refrigerate for 30 mins to let the cream set. Enjoy!
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Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache
I’m not gonna lie; a fluffy chiffon cake had been on my to-make list for ages, so I’m so thrilled that I finally made it happen! I think some of you might be able to relate – when you’re truly into something, you simply want to do it however you feel that day. Take myself as an example, I think about food almost every waking moment and would use baking as an excuse for EVERYTHING. Like today, feeling beaten up physically after a rough night, I decided to bake off some of the tiredness with this superb recipe👌🏻. Side view of Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey GanacheSo, for this chiffon cake, I went against the normally lighter approach to chiffon cake, and used a combination of Hojicha (aka roasted green tea), dark chocolate and whiskey. They’re three flavours that are equally bitter and complex, instantly invoking a feeling of maturity. What’s more, I only realised later that they’re all elements deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. From the cold tip of Hokkaido down to the summery bays of Okinawa, the core of such tastes is tied to the purity of nature. Doesn’t that sound amazing? 😉

Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

As this is my first attempt of making a chiffon cake, I adapted the recipe of Green Tea Chiffon Cake by Just One CookBook. I am a big fan of the author, as she explains everything slowly and clearly, and I LOVE authentic home-style Japanese food. Feel free to pair the cake with fresh cream or fruits; but I wouldn’t mind having it on its own. Make this delicious treat for yourself and let me know how it goes!!

Close detail of Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp (40ml) canola oil
  • 4 tbsp (60ml) milk
  • 75 g (⅔ cup) cake flour
  • 1 tbsp (10g) hojicha powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 60g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g heavy cream
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp whiskey

For the toppings:

  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 340F (170C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and caster sugar (30g) until light and pale. Add canola oil, milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.
  3. Sift in cake flour, hojicha powder, and baking powder to the egg yolk mixture. Mix until totally incorporated.
  4. In another bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually add the caster sugar (60g) using a tablespoon, and beat until all sugar dissolves and soft peak forms. This will take about 5 mins. Gently fold the meringue into the cake mixture in 3 additions.
  5. Pour the mixture into the ungreased 17cm chiffon cake pan (please do NOT grease your pan or otherwise your chiffon cake won’t stick to the pan and therefore collapse while baking). Tap the pan a few times to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. The cake must be cooled upside down; balance the chiffon pan on a tall heavy bottle using the pan indent. Leave until the cake is completely cool before removing it.
  8. To remove cleanly, keeping the pan upside down and use a thin sharp knife or thin offset spatula, running it gently around the cake.
  9. Place the serving plate on top of the cake (which will now become the base of the cake) and flip over. The cake should pop out easily.

For the ganache:

  1. Add the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, add cream, butter, and salt. Bring it just to boil over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat.
  3. Pour the cream mixture over chocolate. Let stand for 10 mins and don’t stir to prevent it from going grainy.
  4. Stir the mixture with a whisk until smooth and shiny. Add whiskey and mix well.
  5. Pour over the chiffon cake and top it with chopped hazelnuts.
6 comments
Pumpkin ginger soup with pumpkin slice
Creamy Pumpkin Ginger Soup in Le Creuset PotI love pumpkin, it’s sweet, bright in colour, and appetising too. Its inherent sweetness and creaminess make the perfect centre point for any take of a heart-warming soup. With many kinds of veggies blended together, this particular pumpkin soup recipe is naturally nourishing for your body, and soothing for the soul. Best of all, even if you dig into it you won’t feel that you’re eating anything heavy at all.  

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Drunken Morning –  Coffee Liqueur Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin
When my boyfriend gave me a bottle of coffee liqueur bought this year’s Regional Flavours festival, I felt that I had to do something amazing to do it justice. But what? What could do it? That’s when it hit me.

Muffins were among the first things that I made when I started to bake. Although my very first batch of muffins (banana walnut muffins) was an absolute disaster (shhhhhh), these hearty little treats shall forever hold a special place in my heart. So yeah, muffins it is. Moist, light and fluffy ones at that–is there any better way to kick off the day?

tray of muffins with bottle of ohana winery cold drip coffee liqueurThis recipe is inspired by the “Chocolate Espresso Muffin” by Christiann Koepke; her recipe had me so pumped when I saw it, as it smartly includes a few interesting twists on the standard ingredients. The combination of the sweetness from white and brown sugar balances well with dark chocolate; the moistness is given by the olive oil and yogurt, with the added richness of the coconut milk; and last but not least, the subtle fragrance coming from the coffee liqueur, it’s perfect. Altogether, this is going to make mind-blowing muffins with a smooth, seductive coffee hit.

Not satisfied yet? Throw in some chopped hazelnuts – the best nut to pair with chocolate flavour in my opinion – and dark chocolate to give the muffins the needed crunch and gooeyness. I promise, with these gorgeous homemade muffins, your friends are going to love you, forevermore.
sprinkling white sugar on coffee hazelnut chocolate muffinsIngredients:
Make 12 muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped  
  • 1/4 cup coffee liquor
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp white sugar (for sprinkling)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil or line it with muffin liners.
  2. Prepare a double boiler. Carefully melt 100g dark chocolate with the double boiler the chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, sift in and combine well flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk olive oil, sugar, eggs, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, and the melted chocolate until smooth.
  5. Pour the dry flour mixture into the wet ingredients in three batches. Stir the batter gently with a spatula until everything is just incorporated. Stir in the remaining 150g dark chocolate and hazelnuts.
  6. Fill the muffin tin ¾ full and sprinkle white sugar on each muffin cup.
  7. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin’s centre comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, before carefully removing them from the pan to cool completely on a rack.
5 comments