Where is my cake? I Can’t See!–Famous Sarawak Midnight Cake (Cake Seri kaya Sarawak, Kek Belachan, Kek Hati Parit) revisited.. (砂朥越深夜蛋糕)

 

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UPDATED POST ON 8-9-2014

I have decided to prepare this cake this afternoon as I craved for this cake… I don’t usually prepare this cake because it is addictive, rather costly and time consuming. Even in Sarawak, this cake was only available during festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfiltri..

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When I posted in the Facebook, most members of Facebook Group who have tasted the cake said that it is nice, rich and dense. For those that they purchased, it is also very expensive due to the cost of ingredients. Further discussion also revealed that this cake is also called Kek Hati Parit and Kek Belachan because its darkness resemble the shrimp paste.

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INTRODUCTION

Sarawak  is one of the states in Malaysia located in the island of Borneo. It has many unique cuisines and one of the rather unique pastries is the Sarawak Midnight Cake as mentioned in this post and another one more famous cake is the Sarawak layered cake or Kek Lapis Sarawak that looks below.

  Sarawak Layered cake: pic courtesy of http://senai.olx.com.my/

This post is concerned about Sarawak Midnight Cake or more well known locally as Seri kaya Sarawak Cake (hereinafter referred to as “Seri kaya Sarawak). Note that kaya is also known as coconut jam made using coconut milk, eggs and sugars.

Seri kaya Sarawak has lots of names. It is synonymous with “Black Cake” (Kek hitam), “Sarawak Black Forest Cake”, “Belachan Cake” ( a type of shrimp paste) or the more Americanized name of “Sarawak Midnight Cake!” 

So from the name Seri kaya, Midnight Cake, Belachan Cake what can we say about the cake? As can be inferred from its names, the cake has Kaya (coconut egg jam) with a belachan shape (and color) and it’s DARK in color. Recipes are calling to use various coloring agents to darken the cake be it artificial coloring, chocolate molasses, Sarawak black palm sugars, chocolate paste and even unconventional dark soya sauce. 

The uniqueness of this cake is that it is a moist, rich and dense steamed cake. 

 



WHY THIS CAKE

While I was writing some thing about Sarawak Cuisines in the Authentic Sarawak Food and History Page, Seri kaya Sarawak is one of the cakes that I have mentioned. After writing the post, I really felt the urge to make the cake since I have not tasted this cake for more than 15 years at least. 

When I was in Kuching,Sarawak, during Chinese New Year, one relative used to give us this cake and during Hari Raya time (a Muslim festival whereby we do house visit), whenever I visited my Malay friends, I will always look out for this cake. I usually can’t stop eating the cake because it is just so yummy.. Looking at the picture of the cakes made me drooling and therefore I have decided to bake my own cake.

Food bloggers some time called this cake “secretive cake” and most of them do not willing to provide a recipe to the cake, They just bake the cake and show to the readers. Even if you can get hold of some recipes, the recipes that you  have collected can be very different for each recipe. Be it the ratio, types of ingredients used, preparation method, everyone will claimed theirs  were the best.

For me, too many recipes is equivalent to no recipe. I have decided to create my own cake based on my memoirs on the texture of the cake and aroma of the cake. I have analyzed various recipes and come out with this recipe that I want to share with readers today.

This is a rather simple recipe by passing a number of traditional methods of baking and skipped some unimportant ingredients usually used by other recipes. The output is at least 90%-95% similar to the cakes that I have tasted many years ago. (Note: this cake has a very distinct taste and it should be a moist, dense cake with fragrance of Horlicks (chocolate malt) and Milo).



WHAT YOU NEED

Most of the ingredients that was used are the breakfast beverages items.

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  • 125 g of Milo
  • 125 g of Ovaltine Malt Drinks – Most recipe called for Horlicks but I have substituted this with Ovaltine Malt drinks as the price is at least 50% cheaper but the taste is quite indifferent;
  • 125g of  condensed milk or sweetened creamer
  • 250g of Kaya (coconut egg jam)

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  • 125 gram of brown sugar
  • 250 gram of eggs (about 4-5)
  • 250 gram of unsalted butter – melted
  • 2.5 table spoons of chocolate emulco
  • 250 gram of plain flour (not in the picture above)

 

Do you see any trend in the measurements of the above recipe? The recipe can be summarized again in the following ratio.

Brown sugar+Condensed milk : Milo + Ovaltine :Plain Flour : Coconut Jam = 250g : 250g : 250g : 250g = 1  :   1   :  1  :   1

The picture below summary all the ingredients

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

These steps of preparation are rather unconventional. Conventional method will advise the use of creaming method (meaning beating of sugar and butter). The creaming step is mainly used if you want a fluffier and lighter cake.

However, as this cake is supposed to be moist and DENSE, therefore, I do not use the creaming method. I have used the mixer purely for mixing purposes. In all the steps, just ensure that the mixer is at low speed and as long as the ingredients are well mixed, just put another ingredient in. Well mixed basically means that the color are consistent. This mixing method will saves you a lot of time as compared to the creaming method.

If you do not have a mixer, you can mix it manually and it shouldn’t be very difficult as most ingredients are liquid and has lot of moisture content.

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  • In a mixing bowl, put the brown sugar, condensed milk and melted butter together. Beat at low to medium speed;  It will take the most 1-2 minutes and look like the batter in pic 3.
  • Add in the cracked eggs and continue beating at the same speed until well mixed.

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  • Add in the coconut jam (kaya) and continue to beat at same speed for 1 minutes.
  • Note that I have used the Nonya Kaya which is greenish in color. However, you can also use other types of kaya such as gula melaka kaya (dark brownish) or Hainanese kaya (orange to light brownish).
  • Add in the Milo and Ovaltine (chocolate malt and can use Horlicks as well) and continue to beat for another 1 minutes or until color consistency is reached.

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  • After adding Ovaltine and Milo, you will note that the color start to turn brownish. As Ovaltine and Milo will coagulate and takes a while to dissolve, you just have to ensure that there are no more lumps in the mixture.
  • Sieve the plain flour into the mixture and continue to mix until color consistency is reached.
  • Plain flour shall be used and not the cake flour or self raising flour and no baking powder or baking soda is needed. THIS IS A DENSE CAKE and therefore, you do not want your cakes to be too fluffy.

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  • After it is ready, add in 2 table spoons of chocolate emulco (alternative chocolate paste, black palm sugar, brown color agent) and beat until the there is no more lumps and color is consistent. It takes another 1-2 minutes.
  • If you use black palm sugar, there is no need to use brown sugar. Volume will be 150g black palm sugar.

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  • Get ready a 6 inch square tin, grease the sides and bottom, dust with wheat flour.
  • Greasing can be done with any fats such as cooking oil etc. I have used the wrapper for the butter to grease the sides. Alternatively, you can just use the left over melted butter in your bowl to grease the side. This is something not usually presented in the recipe books but I have purposely put it here to share with readers since it is a good practice to “conserve” world resources, joking.

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  • Get ready a steamer and bring the water to boil. As this cake is very dense, therefore, it need a few hours of steaming. That steaming process can be rather long reaching 2-3 hours and if it an 8 inch tin, may need 4-5 hours.
  • Pour your batter into the baking tin and cover with aluminum foil. This is to avoid the condensation of water vapors dripping into the cake batter making it hard to get cooked.
  • When the water boiled, put in the cake tin and steaming over medium to high heat for 3-4 hours.
  • Note that how long it takes to cook will depend on lots of factors including the size of baking tins you used (a big baking tin with a shallower batter will be faster to get cooked than a smaller tin), the environment (in an enclosed environment it will be easier to get cooked than in a well ventilated area).
  • As a guideline, after 2 hours of steaming, you can slightly lift up the aluminum foil and see if the batter was set. Set means when you push, the batter wouldn’t move. Usually, the middle part is the part that takes longer to cook.
  • Whatever you do for this process, you have to be careful to minimize the heat loss, otherwise it will take time to get enough heat for the cake to rise again and some may not be able to rise as the cake structure had been destroyed.
  • If there is not enough water, just boil some hot water and pour inside the steamer carefully. You may need to replenish the water 2-3 times.

 

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  • The cake is cooked when it looks like the first picture. To counter ensure that it is cooked, use some stick to pierce down the batter and see if anything sticky in your stick. If none, the cake is ready.
  • Let it rest for say 30 minutes and transfer to your cake rake if you want. Note that when it is hot, the cake structure can be very fragile, cooling will gel backed the structure . So, any handling have to be done gently.
  • The 1st picture showed the cake just come out from the steamer. After about 1.5 hour of resting, I dusted with some Ovaltine and Milo (optional) powder. You can see from the cross section of the cake that it is very moist and dense.
  • Cutting the cakes into the desired size, serve with or without sauce.



Serving Suggestions

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  • Picture one is serving without any sauce.
  • Picture two to four is serving with evaporated milk and some dusted with Ovaltine and Milo powder. Fresh milk can also be used.
  • In picture four, I have decided to turn it into some form of wet dessert soaking in milk. As the texture is very soft, you can actually turn it into any shape with it. Trust me, it wouldn’t compromise the original taste. The original taste is very strong and this will smoothen out the strong cocoa and chocolate malt flavor.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a super rich and dense cake. You can treat it as another form of chocolate mud cake or American midnight fudge cake. Taking a bite is resembling like having a scope of butter, coconut jam, chocolate malt, condense milk all at once which is extremely smooth and with the nice aromatic smell of breakfast beverages.
  • The origin of this cake is still unknown but it is unique that all the main ingredients are related to the breakfast items such as Milo, Horlicks, condensed milks and coconut jams used for toast. Could this be influenced by the British during the British colonization of Sarawak before 1945’s? Only coconut jam and black palm sugar is quite local and all other ingredients are most imported or originated from European countries. 

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  • The Western version of fudge cake or midnight cake requires chocolates, using the creaming method and utilizing the oven for baking. As oven is a luxury in traditional Sarawak, steaming method was used instead. Imported chocolate will cost a bomb and therefore these were substituted by breakfast beverages. Does it sound logical? Otherwise, how can an isolated island with so much diverse culture can come out with such a rich and nice cake like the desserts in Western countries? Let me know your opinion.
  • Like Sarawak Laksa paste, too secretive a recipe and too many versions of a recipe will equivalent to no recipe. I have simplified the ratio and the preparation method with no compromise in the texture and taste of my cakes.

I hoped for those who never try this cake before, please try to make one and you will never regret it. Hope that you enjoy the  post and happy reading. Cheers

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  



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Lots Of Chinese New Year Goodies At Home And Don’t Know What To Do With It?–Cookies and Cakes Puddings

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Reproduced from my post dated 30-4-2013

For Malaysian and Singapore Chinese, it is a tradition that during Chinese New Year, cookies and other delicacies were being prepared for purposes of entertaining visitors. Families either bought ready made cookies, or as gifts from friends and relatives or prepare themselves. Usually, after the festival, lots of cookies were left untouched. For most family, it is practically impossible to finish all these cookies within a reasonable period of time and before the qualities were compromised. Most families resort to throwing away the cookies.

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Looking at the cookies that are sitting in my shelves and realizing it wouldn’t take long before it turns bad, I have decided to try baking the cookie pudding based on the principles of preparing the bread pudding.

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I started by layering my cookies (actually, everything that I found from marshmallow to titbits of my kids). I then prepare a liquid mixture of sugar, eggs, butter, and fresh milk . Pouring the liquid mixture over the biscuits or cookies layer by layer. I let it soaked for a while and used forks to press the mixtures until I am convinced that all the cookies were fully soaked. It should then be moist and soft. I then steamed baked the mixtures until set which took approximately 1 hour (Note: for this illustration, I did not use steam bake). Finally, I have my cookie puddings that resemble the bread puddings.

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There is no exact recipe, it is of full flexibility. Due to the high fats and high sugars content of the cookies and cakes being served, generally, I did not add additional sugar and only a small quantity of melted butter (about 50 grams but it is optional) for smoothening the puddings. The taste will very much depends on the cake and cookies that you used. Cookies and cakes may be staled but not turning bad yet. They may not be crispy anymore. Chinese New Year seasons is over and your family is tired of having the same cookies for the past few weeks… Either you throw away and you put a small investment and turned it into another bake.

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The small investment is some eggs. Even that, you can use some unused egg whites from making certain cakes before Chinese New Year and don’t know what to do with it… As long as there are eggs and milk (substitutable with plain water) and you can prepare this pudding. Eggs are necessary to make it a pudding like structure and act as a binding agent among the various materials. This is nothing new, it is just a simple concept applied to bread puddings. It is simpler than bread puddings as stale bread is tasteless but the cookies and cakes are already well flavoured. Remember, rubbish in rubbish out, quality  staled cakes and cookies used (which I am sure most of your cookies and cakes at home are still edible), a quality cookies pudding will be produced..

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This is what I did for 2014 Chinese new year cookies and cakes to make the puddings.

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I have lots of cookies and cakes left.. including some that were not included here such as my Steamed sponge cake and strawberry egg white cake.

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I started greasing the tin and layer the pudding. Usually the first layer is cakes or bread for shaping purposes.

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More variety of cakes and cookies were being added and filled the tin until full. (advisable to fill 90% full and I am too greedy in this illustration. It will expand when bake and shrink down after the eggs are set).

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I used some egg whites from the making of Kek Lapis before Chinese new year, another 2 additional eggs and add in a bit (about 50 grams) of melted butter and some milks.. I poured on to the cakes and let it fill the entire tin. You need to wait for a while for the cakes and cookies to absorb the milk. Please refer to this post for detail instructions of filling. Who Said Bread Puddings Must Be Prepared As Such…..Bread Puddings “Reinvented”

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I topped with additional red velvet cookies crumbles  and some yellow colour ghee cookies (kueh momo) crumble. I  then baked in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for about 30 minutes or until the puddings become set. Set means the egg mixture starts to solidify and no wavy pattern in the mixture when you pushed the tin.

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I served with some  fresh strawberry and strawberry sauce and I prefer to serve it cold. At times I served with milk or even ice creams.


CONCLUSION

I can tell you very frankly, I dare and I love to eat this cookies and cakes puddings. However, whether or not readers feel comfortable to eat such type of food combinations is up to individual. ….I do this with bread, cookies and cakes and it is a good way of get rid of these stale items at home. This is a simple post, but I would advise you to read this bread puddings for the concept and detail methods of making a bread pudding. Who Said Bread Puddings Must Be Prepared As Such…..Bread Puddings “Reinvented” . You can also read what I did to my 2003 Chinese New Year cookies. In fact, it was the first post of this blog posted on 30th April, 2013. –  Creative Food Series – Cookie Puddings 1  and Cookie Puddings – 2

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1000 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.

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Is It Not Time To Get Ready Your Christmas Fruit Cake ? – Boiled Fruits And Nuts Cake

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INTRODUCTION

This is the traditional fruit cake baked in a rather traditional way. It is one type of fruit cakes that can be served during Christmas.

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Am I crazy to bake fruit cake for Christmas now? My answer is no and in fact it is just the right time to bake this cake. You can keep this cake for at least three months in the refrigerator. You can take out your fruit cake and periodically (may be once in a month) add rums to your fruit cake, and by the time when Christmas arrives, the fruit cake will be aromatic enough to make you drunk.

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TRADITIONAL APPROACH IN MAKING THE FRUIT CAKE

I got this recipe from one of my favourite old cookbooks –  “The Essential Baking Cookbook” published by Murdoch Books in year 2000. The recipe is using the boiling method in the preparation of the cake batter and requires additional protection during the baking process.

Two days ago, when I am clearing my kitchen self, I found some mixed fruits in the self that I have purchased a few month’s ago. As it is occupying a space in my shelf, I thought I might as well prepare a traditional fruit cake for the coming Christmas.

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I have made minimal changes to the recipe except the substitution of some cherries with nuts and the addition of some rum. Therefore, I should say, this is a TRADITIONAL FRUITS AND NUTS CAKE.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adapted from : Boiled Fruit Cake from “The Essential Baking Cookbook” published by Murdoch Books in year 2000 page 80

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  • 250 grams of unsalted butter

  • 185 grams of soft brown sugar

  • 185 grams of self raising flour

  • 125 grams of plain flour

  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spices (can use those of Indonesia layered cake)

  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 175 grams of plain water (not in picture)

  • 1/8 cups of rum

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  • 750 grams of mixed fruits

  • 250 grams of mixed nuts (I have used cashew nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds)

  • 4 eggs lightly beaten

Others

  • Some old newspapers and some baking paper.

  • 9 inches round baking tin

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Special Lining of Cake Tin

Because of the long cooking time, fruit cakes requires extra protection.

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  • Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius. Place a few layers of newspaper on the oven rack just before the baking starts.

  • Line your 9 inches baking tray with DOUBLE LAYERS OF BAKING PAPERS for both bottom and side. For the side, it has to be higher, about 2 inches above the cake tin. Join 2 pieces of newspapers together using stapler. Overlap the newspapers (1/3 of the width of newspaper) and use a stapler to staple together. Wrap around the side. Cover with another piece of clean paper and staple the baking paper, newspaper and clean paper at the top of the collar. Note that you can used clean paper instead of newspapers. The main purpose of this step is to provide extra protection to the fruit cake due to its long baking process.

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Preparation of Batter

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  • In a big sauce pan, put together butter, water, sugar and mixed fruits. Stir over low heat until the butter has melted and sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Let it cool and set aside.

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  • Once cooled, add in beaten eggs, rums and stir well.

  • In another big mixing bowl, sift the flour together with the spices. Make a well in the centre. Pour the mixed fruits into the well and mix well. Add the nuts and pour the batter into the cake tin. Smooth the surface with the spatula. Lightly knock the bottom to ensure that there are no trapped air inside.

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Baking the Cakes

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  • Bake the cake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted come out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake. Leave the cake in the tin for at least one hour before taking out from the cake tin.

  • Flavours and textures start to improve after 3 days and it can keep for 2-3 months in the freezer section. If desired, add a few tablespoons of  rum periodically to the fruit cake (once in a month) to enhance the alcoholic fragrance.

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  • Keeping of fruit cake, consider the following method: 1st layer – clingy wrap, 2nd layer – kitchen towel, 3rd layer – aluminium foil, 4th layer – plastic bag. Store in freezer section. This will avoid the moisture lost. Defrost on room temperature, meaning take your cake from freezer and let it defrost at room temperature a few hours before consumption.

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CONCLUSION 

The cake is prepared using a traditional method but because of the extra protection given to the cake, the cake is very moist. Flavour will be enhanced after another few days. Don’t worry about the shelf life of the cake, as long as it is properly kept, it can keep for months and I have ever keep fruit cakes for a period of more than 6 months in a deep freezer. In addition, alcohol is another preservation agent.

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Bookmark this page and may be you can consider making the cake for your coming Christmas when you are free. It will never be too early.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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I Am Short Of Time And Craved For A Cookie.. So I Made..–Microwave Cookies

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INTRODUCTION

Previously, I have a post on Microwave Mug Cake and yesterday when I browsed through the internet, a recipe in this Facebook Page – I love showing my personality in my cooking, caught my attention. I have always loved this Facebook Page because of its simple, unusual and daring recipes. In his/her post FOR THOSE DAYS WHEN YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE ONE COOKIE!, the Page owner was using microwave to prepare some cookies. Analysing at the ingredients, I was amazed how simple were the ingredients. Looking at the number of Likes in the post, at that time, there were 110 Likes and 736 re-shares. I thought I might as well give it a try.

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This morning, I am toying with his/her recipes. I started to try the original recipe and followed by additional recipes modified by me including 2 eggless recipes. Prior to this, I do know there are some eggless cookies recipes and I thought I might as well try to make these eggless cookies using microwave. My previous post of Eggless, Butter Less and Milk Less Cup Cakes was quite well received and I believed there will be some readers who are interested in microwave eggless cookies too.

Altogether, I have prepared 5 cookies:

  1. Butter Cookies with Caramel Chocolate Chips – As per the original recipe except substitute chocolate chips with caramel chocolate chips;
  2. Chocolate Cookies with Almond Chunks
  3. Eggless Strawberry Cookies with Strawberry Slices
  4. Eggless Blueberry Cookies with Fresh blueberries
  5. Strawberry Cookies with Strawberry Slices

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For eggless cookies, the eggs were substituted with equivalent volumes of strawberry milks or fresh milks. For this post, I will only list out the recipe of the  first cookie and highlight the changes in ingredients for the other cookies.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adapted from: FOR THOSE DAYS WHEN YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE ONE COOKIE by I love showing my personality in my cooking

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  • 1/4 cup of plain flour

  • 1 tablespoon of butter (melted)

  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar

  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons of caramel chocolate chips (optional)

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence

  • Pinches of salt

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a bowl with melted butter, add in white and brown sugars, stir until well mixed. Add in egg yolks and followed by plain flour. Stir until combined and followed by addition of caramel chocolate chips.

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  • Place the cookie batter in the lightly greased  microwavable plate or bowl. Microwave 45-60 seconds or until the centre of the batter is set.

NOTE:

Just like ovens, every microwave oven will have some differences in terms of heat released. Like the microwave oven I have in my house, it is a very simple basic microwave oven with no function to adjust the heat. As such, you can start using medium heat (if there is any) and see how is the result. If at the end of 60 seconds, the cookie still does not look set, add additional 10-20 seconds to the cooking time. It is considered as cooked when the centre of the cookie is set or not runny.

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CHANGES IN OTHER COOKIES’ RECIPES

For other cookies, the changes are as follows:

  • Chocolate Cookies with Almond Chunks – Addition of 1 teaspoon of chocolate powder to the batter and replace chocolate chips with almond chunks; 
  • Eggless Strawberry Cookies with Strawberry Slices – Replacement of egg yolk with 20 grams of strawberry milks and substituting chocolate chips with one fresh strawberry (cut in slices)

  • Eggless Blueberry Cookies with Fresh blueberries – Replacement of egg yolk with 20 grams of  fresh milks and replacing chocolate chips with 10 fresh blueberries (mashed)

  • Strawberry Cookies with Strawberry Slices – Replacement of almond chunks with one fresh strawberries (cut in slices).


OUTCOME OF THE EXPERIMENTS

Butter Cookies with Caramel Chocolate Chips 

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The texture of the cookie is definitely satisfactory. It is rather light and a chewy type of cookie. It is quite fragile and if you view the original website, you will see that the Page Owner is using a fork to eat the cookie. However, given adequate time to cool, the cookie can be cut into neat pieces and definitely worth a try.

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Chocolate Cookies with Almond Chunks

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As expected, since it is a change of dry ingredients (from chocolate chips to almond chunks) and addition of chocolate powder, the texture is the same as the first cookie. Definitely recommendable even though it is not as crispy as the traditional cookie.

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Eggless Strawberry Cookies with Strawberry Slices

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Well, for this cookie, there was a rather major modification to the ingredients. So, what is the impact of the substitution of egg yolk with strawberry milks and the addition of freshly cut strawberry slices to the cookie? As expected, as there is no egg, it become a very dense “cookie” or “cake” if you  want to call it.

As I have explained earlier in my Eggless, Butter Less and Milk Less Cup Cakes post, eggs have the role to support the structure of any baked products. Without eggs, the rise of any baked products (cookies included) will have to be solely depend on the leavening agents (baking soda or baking powders).

Since we are using plain flour (without any baking soda or baking powders), will the cookies rise? The answer is quite certain, NO.

How about if we substitute the plain flour with self raising flours? It may or may not since the milk have much more moisture content than the eggs and it may not be able to support the flours.

Taste wise, it is acceptable. It is moist and full of strawberry flavour. Having one full cookie with some strawberry ice cream will definitely be welcomed by your guest…For Asian taste, this resembles a steamed dense cake..

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Eggless Blueberry Cookies with Fresh blueberries

 

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I then continued my adventure with the blueberry cookie by substituting the yolk with fresh milk and addition of blueberries. The outcome is the same as the eggless strawberry cookie, dense but chewy and edible.

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Strawberry Cookies with Strawberry Slices 

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Looking at the dense eggless “cookie” that I have made, I have decided to revert back to the usage of yolk in the cookies. For this cookie,  I have only substituted the chocolate chips with one strawberry fresh slices.

The texture is slightly better than the eggless cookies but it is too moist. The reason was simple, the juices from the fresh strawberry slices have negate part of the structure supporting effects of eggs  in the cookie.  If strawberry is to be added, I personally think that some baking powder and more flour will be needed to make it less dense.

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CONCLUSION

Depending on individual tastes, I would strongly recommended making the first two cookies (butter cookie with caramel chocolate chips and chocolate cookie with almond chunks). These two cookies are very delicious and light. However, if you do not mind to have dense “cookies”, you can try eggless strawberries and blueberries cookies. It was moist and very tasty.

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Hope you like my adventure today and do take a step out to prepare this one minute cookie for yourself or share with your family members. Is it not baking and cooking is fun with endless possibilities to try?

Have a nice day and cheers.

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My Daddy Made This Cake–Strawberry Mille Crepe Cake

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INTRODUCTION

Firstly, I have to tell readers that the appearance of this mille crepe is not really what I have expected. The mille crepe cake should have more creams in between the layers but somehow for health conscious reasons, I have reduced the usage of cream and to make it “worst”(?), I have substituted part of the cream with strawberry non fat yogurt. As yogurt is not cream, it is harder to even the layers, the yoghurt in between the layers can leak out making the crepe cake to slide and with thinner layers. However, if you like fresh cream, go ahead to use it and you will be able to get a nicer mille crepe cake…

Though less creamy, the taste of course will not be compromised and the mille crepe cake was full of strawberry fragrance.  The crepes were made from strawberry milk; in between the crepes there were strawberry yogurt and fresh slices of strawberries, the sauces used was ready made strawberries sauces. In addition, it was served with additional fresh strawberries.  

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Both mille and crepe are in fact French words. “Mille” basically means million and “crepe” is a type of thin pancakes originated from France. As usual, lets learn something about this cake from Wikipedia:

“A crêpe or crepe is a type of very thin pancake, usually made from wheat flour (crêpes de Froment) or buckwheat flour (galettes). The word is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning “curled”. While crêpes are often associated with Brittany, a region in the northwest of France, their consumption is widespread in France, Belgium and Quebec. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, from the most simple with only sugar to flambéed crêpes Suzette or elaborate savoury galettes.

Mille crêpe is a French cake made of many crêpe layers. The word mille means “a thousand”, implying the many layers of crêpe. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cr%C3%AApe)

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I have decided to make this mille crepe after I read another daddy blogger in Malaysia who make a mille crepe for his family. In my Google Plus timeline, I have written:

“There are not many daddy who cooks. This daddy prepared some fabulous crepe cake and I think I will be the copy cat. Thanks +Tan Kuan Yoon for sharing”

Inspired by this daddy, I have prepared my mille crepe cake yesterday. However, I have modified from a recipe from another Japanese blogger who lived in New York since when I Google mille crepe cake, his recipe tops the others. His post is very detail and offers a lot of tips and advises on the preparation of crepes including caramelizing the top layer of mille crepe cake that is popular in New York. However, this was not cover in my post here.

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My intention of the post is to prepare a STRAWBERRY MILLE CREPE CAKE. Therefore, most of the cake decorations and ingredients will have strawberries in it. But readers should be aware that mille crepe cake can easily be tailored to suit your family’s taste buds. The fillings can have full flexibility. If you like peanut butter, you can use it. You can even have chocolate cream or pandanus coconut jam (“kaya”) to replace cream in between the crepes.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe Adapted From: Marc Masumoto’s Mille Crepe Cake (Make about 20 six inches diameter crepes)

For crêpes

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  • 80 grams of unsalted butter, melted, cooled and set aside

  • 150 grams of plain flour

  • 250 grams of strawberry milk

  • 80 grams of honey or maple syrup

  • 250 grams of eggs

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

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For Creams

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  • 150 gram of strawberry yogurt (optional)

  • 10 large strawberries cut in slices (optional)

  • 1 cup of whipping cream (whipped and set aside)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the crepes

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  • In a machine mixing bowl, put melted butters and eggs together. Use the machine whisk to whisk the eggs and butter until the eggs and butter start to emulsify. Sifted in the flours, strawberry milk and honey (or maple syrup) and use the whisk to whisk until well mixed.  You can also use manual whisking if you prefer.

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  • Chilled in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours. If you do not have the time to chill, put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Some recipes will call for overnight chilling. However, I personally found that there is no such a need. The chilling is to make the batter slightly harder (stickier) so that when you put in your frying pan, it is easier to shape it evenly.

  • After chilling, take the batter out from the refrigerator.

  • Heat a 6” non stick frying pan using medium heat. Pour 1/8 cups of the batter into the pan. Try to spread it as even as possible by taking up the pan and swirling it one or two times. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the bottom of the batter is not runny.

  • You should be able to tell if the crepe is ready when you sight the edges start to curl up. Use a spoon to lift up the edge and take the crepe out quickly and put the other side back to the pan, Cooked for about 30 seconds – 1 minute. Continue to do the same for the rest of the batters. (I have managed to make 20 crepes from this recipe). Let the crepe cool and set aside.

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Preparing the cream and assembly of the cake,

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  • Beat the cream until firm peak. Fold in strawberries yoghurt and ensure that it is well mixed. If the cream is too watery, put the cream in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes before proceed to assemble the cake.

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  • In a serving plate, place a piece of crepe. Put 1-2 tablespoon of strawberry yoghurt cream, spread as evenly possible. Put in a few slices of sliced strawberry. Place another new piece of crepe on top. Repeat the same procedures until all the crepes are used up.

  • Chilled in the refrigerator for about half an hour before serving or cutting. This is because the cream may melt in Singapore hot environment and some chilling will help to keep the cake in shape.

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Notes

Note that you will not need to put slice strawberries for all the levels, otherwise, your mille crepe cake will be very high and difficult to balance. You can consider to have strawberries in say crepe 1, crepe 3, crepe 6, crepe 9…. In between the crepes, just fill in with the cream.

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  • Top with additional strawberries, strawberries sauces or whipped cream if desired.

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CONCLUSION

This mille crepe cake is not that difficult to prepare. This is a strawberry version that I have created. Similarly, readers can always create your very own version. How about chocolate mille crepe cake prepared using chocolate milk and with Ferraro Rocher chocolates bits? Or durian mille crepe cake with fresh durian flesh in between the crepes? The possibilities are endless and you should try to explore and come out with one unique mille crepe cake that will definitely impress your guest.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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What I Cooked Today Series (Special Post)- 2013 Mid Autumn Festival

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INTRODUCTION

I have not forgotten about this series –  “What I Cooked Today Series”! I have discontinued for a while because I am a vegetarian and the dishes were usually cooked by my mother in law who is visiting me. Therefore, I can’t claim the credit of the dishes cooked if I posted it.

Well this series will be starting soon in one two weeks time after end of my vegetarian diet. This year, I have calculated wrongly about the starting date of my diet, therefore, I am having slightly more than 2 months of vegetarian diet and it was pointed out by my neighbour when I keep on rejecting her meat dishes. She asked curiously why the diet is so long this year, she said it cannot be ! I asked my wife to recalculate again and yes, we are wrong as both of us are not that concern about anniversary dates.

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Yesterday is the Mid Autumn Festival, one of the very big festivals for the Chinese worldwide. Even People’s Republic of China’s government have declared this day as a holiday in recent years. Usually, in big festivals, family gathering and get together is very important.

I only confirmed to invite my nephew’s family for dinner yesterday morning and I told them that I would only cooked what I have at home. As they are my very close relatives, I need not really concerned about what I should cooked as he have been staying with me for the past few years. I did not have the time to plan for the meal as I have to take care of the kids and I have to rush out my report for Eight Treasure Porridge.

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I only started cooking at 4.00 pm in the afternoon. I looked at the fridge, I have some tofu, one pumpkin, one luffa, some chicken fillets, some asparaguses, minced meats, chicken thighs, drumsticks and fish fillets.

What influenced my dish menu last night was what I perceived what my family members like to have. I know anything soft and silky will be welcomed by them, so tofu and pumpkins would be good choices.

While the family always have bitter gourd with minced meat, but luffa with minced meat is something new to them. In addition, my kids loved luffa so luffa with minced meat was in the menu.

Preparing these two dishes had resulted some mesh pumpkins, minced meat and tofu left, therefore, I have decided to turn these 3 ingredients into  a dish.



PORK STUFFED LUFFA (丝瓜酿肉碎)

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This is a dish adapted from pork stuffed bitter gourd (苦瓜酿肉碎). The luffa was first de-skinned, and cut into 2 cm chunks. Make a hole in the centre and set aside. Minced pork were marinated for about 10 minutes with sesame oil, corn flour, light soya sauce, flavour enhancers, sugar, pepper, chopped coriander leaves and chopped winter vegetables. Stuff the minced pork into the hole of the luffa chunks, placed it in a serving plate nicely and put a goof berry on top of minced meat for garnishing. Before steaming, put some water in the plate of the meat stuffed luffa. (A bit of water is important as it will speed up the process of cooking the luffa. The luffa will be “water bathed” causing it easier to get cooked). Steamed for about 20 minutes or until your luffa is soft.  More juices will be secreted out and these gravy was very tasty as it was essentially a meat and vegetable broth.  You can put some corn starch to thicken this juices if desirable.

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TOFUS SAIL IN PUMPKIN SEA (豆腐金瓜海)

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I have to admit that I do not know how to name this dish. Since it looks like a seas of mashed pumpkins, I  named this as “tofu sail pumpkin seas”. Firstly, I cut opened a pumpkin, de-seeded and steamed the pumpkin until the pumpkin was soft. I then scratched out the pumpkin flesh, put some sesame oils, salt, mushroom concentrate, mixed well and let the mashed pumpkin to cool.

Two packets of tofu’s were cut into 8 pieces and arrange in a serving plate. I used a teaspoon to make a hole on the tofu, put some mashed pumpkins to cover the hole. Use the remaining pumpkin to put beside the tofu and steamed for about 10 minutes. Surprisingly, the tofu and pumpkins really blends well.

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MINCED PORK FRIED WITH MASHED PUMPKINS AND TOFUS (山寨蟹粉豆腐)

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From the above two dishes, I have some mashed pumpkin left , some tofu left (from making a hole in the tofu cubes), some minced meat left (as I have prepared one package of minced meat for the luffa dish, therefore, I still have about half of the minced meat left). With these 3 ingredients, I have decided to mash the tofu and fried these 3 ingredients together.

I first stir fried some spring onion (white part) in a frying pan of hot oil until aromatic, followed by the minced meat and once the meat was 50% cooked, add the mesh pumpkin and mesh tofu. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes, add white pepper, sugar, light soya sauce and salt and it become a rather presentable dish..like the famous Shanghai dish, “Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”. Therefore I have named this dish in Mandarin the “Fake Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”.

The dish was very tasty and smooth, it is well liked by the kids because of the aromatic spring onions.  I have placed the cooked dish in the empty shell of the pumpkin for serving.

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BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH CHICKEN FILLETS (芦笋鸡柳)

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This is really an easy dish.

Asparagus were de-skinned (depends on whether it is too mature or not) and cut into same length. Chicken fillet were first cut into the desired sizes, marinated with sesame oil, pepper and light soya sauce for about 10 minutes,

Have a pot of boiling hot water, drizzle a few drops of cooking oil and pinches of salt. Get ready a serving plate and put some oyster sauce on the plate.  Blanched the asparagus in the hot boiling water for 3 minutes and dip in icy cold cooked water.

Place these asparagus neatly in the serving plate on top of the oyster sauce. Coated the chicken fillet with some corn flours and blanched the chicken fillets in the hot boiling water for about 5 minutes. Scoop out and placed on top of the blanched asparagus. Sprinkled some fried shallots on top of the chicken and the dish was done.

This was definitely an easy and healthier dish as it involved no frying like the traditional method. Though I did not taste the asparagus but I can tell you that it was sweet as all the juices were being sealed inside the asparagus via blanching method of cooking.

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CENTURY EGGS WITH PICKLED GINGER (皮蛋酸姜)

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This dish was usually treated an appetizer in Chinese full course dinners and did not really need any preparation. As I have quite a lot of pickled ginger left from my demonstration in Guaishushu’s Page, therefore, I have decided to prepare this dish as an appetizer. You may want to learn about how to prepare the pickled gingers HERE.



POMELO (柚子/文旦)

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When I was young, we did not celebrate Moon Cake Festivals with pomelo.

However, in recent years, it seemed that it is very common that pomelo became one of the festival fruit  during the  Moon Cake Festivals. I checked the internet, pomelo have the syllables as “have kids” (有子)in Mandarin, therefore, having pomelo means that it will bring you luck in conceiving a kid. Well, definitely not for me.

It is my usual way to de-skin my pomelo like what is in the picture to make it easier for my kids to eat. Therefore, all my kids loves to eat pomelo as they do not need to peel the internal white membranes separating the lobes in the fruit. They have been pampered, Unlike me, I never like to eat pomelo when I was young because of the difficulty to peel of the internal white membranes.



GREEN DATES (甜枣)

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This is nothing to do with this festival. I just spotted in the supermarket a few days ago and I really love these green dates. I always called it mini apples. In my humble opinion, it taste like apples and is a one bite size. I am able to finish one box within a day. I don’t know but I do believe it is a very healthy snack, much healthy than any carbohydrates and sugar loaded snacks. Yesterday, it was served together with pomelo after dinner.



MOONCAKES (月饼)

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I have a few boxes of moon cakes and I have decided to  serve a durian moon cake that my nephew gave me from the international “Three” Seasons Hotel.  However, I am rather disappointed with the moon cakes. Put in bluntly, it is just pure durian flesh wrapped in snow skin. When you eat the moon cakes, it is very soft and just like when one is eating fresh durian (though it don’t taste that fresh any more after so many days).

It was definitely not cheap and my nephew told me even after discount, one small moon cake cost SGD 12. I honestly believed that should I received the moon cake earlier, I will be able to replicate the moon cake  .. and how much is one durian is this season? May be 3 durians for SGD 10?  Well the one below is equally disappointing as they have incorporate orange flavour in the lotus seeds fillings.

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Lastly, I hoped that you like my cooking adventures today and unlike previous festivals, I have cooked something very simple. In other festivals, majority were meat dishes and I managed to locate an old picture in my Facebook to share with you. This was taken by one of my nieces in 2012 to celebrate Chap Goh Me (元宵)during Chinese New Year.

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Have a nice day and cheers.

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Auspicious Day With Auspicious Porridge–Eight Treasure Porridge (八宝粥)

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INTRODUCTION

It is such an auspicious day that I am writing this post. I swear it is not pre-planned. Today is Mid Autumn Festival aka Moon Cake Festival, it is a festival that is celebrated by all Chinese worldwide. As request by one of the Google communities, I have written a brief write up on Mid Autumn Festivals HERE which you may want to have some casual reading.

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The cuisine that I am going to post today is a vegetarian dish called 8 treasure porridge (八宝粥). There are so many versions of this one pot dish in the internet but the recipe that I am going to share is from my kind neighbour. She liked to cook this porridge and after I tried it for the very first time, immediately I fell in love with it. Since then, I had liked to cook this dish in important festivals such as Chinese New Year Day where the whole family were supposed to be on vegetarian diet for one day.

I have cooked this yesterday not because of the festival, but because I craved for the porridge since I am still on my vegetarian diet. I gave two boxes of the porridge to my daughter’s schoolmates mother, she immediately asked for the recipe when she reached home. She commented that the taste of the porridge was totally different from what she had tasted in the vegetarian stalls.

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I did not know where my neighbour get the recipe but I found that there are certain ingredients that we used were not found in other 8 treasure porridges sold by the vegetarian stores. Both the ingredients were mock meat acceptable to all vegetarians and without these two ingredients, the taste will definitely be different.

As this was our dinner last night, I did not have much chances to take pictures and the poor lighting make the picture a bit disappointed. But trust me, this is a very different 8 treasure porridge and it is definitely good for casual dining or a presentable dish in important Buddhist religious occasions.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Though the name is 8 treasure porridge, however, we tend to have more than 8 ingredients and I do not think all my ingredients are in the picture.  I should have used 11-12 ingredients here. Most of the ingredients are nuts and a few ingredients and some mock meat.

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  • 1 cup of uncooked rice – not in picture (白米)

  • 1 cup of jujube (红枣)

  • 1 cup of peanuts (花生)- soaked

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts (腰豆)

  • 1 cup of lotus seeds (莲子)- soaked

  • 1 cup of gingko nuts  (白果)- soaked

  • 1 cup of red carrots (cut into cubes) (红萝卜)

  • 1 cup of dried mushrooms (soaked and cut into cubes) – not in picture (冬菇)

  • 1 cup of mock duck (must have) – (素鸭)

  • 1 small packet of “fat Choy” or “black moss” (发菜)

  • 1 packet of about 2 sheets of mock goose (素鹅)(must have)

  • 6-8 cups of plain water (if not adequate, you can add in water later)

IMG_6543 Mock Duck

IMG_6556 Mock Goose

Please do not ask me why they were called mock duck or mock goose, frankly, I do not know. While the shape is difference, the taste is nothing like duck of goose. Both are made of wheat gluten, oil, soya sauce, sugar, salt and packed with proteins. They do have their distinct flavour but I can’t describe exactly what is the flavour. They can generally found in Chinese grocery stores that sell vegetarian supplies. These two items are the two most important ingredients in this porridge and without it, the taste will be different.

 IMG_6561 “Fat Choy” or “ Black Moss”

This a type of moss now commercially cultivated in the Gobi dessert and Chinese Government do place a restriction in harvesting the moss. The meaning of having these mosses signifies prosperous since the syllables in Chinese name is the same of both “Fat Choy” and “Black Moss”. I hereby quote what Wikipedia had explained about this moss.

“Fat Choy (Nostoc flagelliforme), also known as faat Choy, fa cai, black moss, hair moss or hair weed is a terrestrial cyanobacterium (a type of photosyntheticbacteria) that is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine. When dried, the product has the appearance of black hair. For that reason, its name in Chinese means “hair vegetable.” When soaked, this vegetable has a very soft texture which is like very fine vermicelli.” (Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_choy)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing all other ingredients

  • Clean all ingredients (except mock duck and mock goose) and you may want to soak the peanuts and lotus seeds (if you buy the dry type). Cut into almost the same size as the peanuts and set aside for the later use.


Frying the mock goose

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  • In a frying pan, have some cooking oil under high heat, fry the mock goose until crispy. When cooled, cut into thumb size pieces and set aside for the later use. (Note: While it is good to have minimum oil in the cooking, however, without performing this step, the fragrance will not be there. However, you can try using “air fryer” but I am unsure whether the taste will be the same.)

  • Depending on your preference, you can use the same oil to stir fry the mock duck, gingko, lotus seeds, mushrooms, carrots etc. for a few minutes such that the mock goose and mushroom aromas blends with the other ingredients. Set aside for later use. This illustration bypassed this step to minimize the usage of cooking oil in the porridge and the taste will not be compromised much.

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  • Clean your rice and place in the rice cooker. Add in all other ingredients except “fat Choy”. Select porridge function for cooking the porridge.

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  • Just a few minutes before the porridge function was done, add in fat Choy and seasonings. Suggested seasonings are light soya sauce, salt, sugar or other flavour enhancers. Note that some of the ingredients already have some seasonings, please take some porridge out for tasting before you put the condiments.

Note that you can also use pressure cooker but remember to select the porridge function if it have. Alternatively, I have ever cooked the porridge over the stove and in this way it is easier for you to monitor the desire texture of your porridge though the cooking time may be longer. As long as all ingredients are soft, the porridge is considered as done.

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  • Best served hot with “you tiao” – a type of Chinese plain dough fritters or additional crispy “mock goose”. Both these are optional.

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CONCLUSION

As I have said earlier, I fell in love with this special porridge when I have my first bowl years back. I  am confident you will like it too. Bookmark this page for your future usage. You may want to cook it during Chinese New Year like me!

Hope you like the post today. Cheers

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If you are looking for more CHINESE NEW YEAR COOKIES,  you may want to visit this post summarizing all relevant Chinese New Year Cuisines.

Chinese New Year Cookies21


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

 

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