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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Homesick Buns? Yes, I am homesick of Sarawak Style Butter Buns..

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UPDATED POST ON 11-10-2014

Craving for the buns that I can get hold in Singapore, and I have decided to prepare these buns to surprise my wife. We usually bought back from Sarawak if we visited our home town. There is no change in the recipe but I have decided to use the BASIC BREAD DOUGH RECIPE instead of the tangzhong dough recipe here.  Please refer here for the BASIC BREAD DOUGH RECIPE. I find that the basic dough is much faster without compromise quality of the buns.

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INTRODUCTION

This is a rather simple basic bun of which I am yet to trace the history. The uniqueness of this bun is its filling. The filling is made of butter, sugar and flour. Throughout my years overseas, I have yet to find buns that have this filling. The nearest that I have came across is butter milk buns where milk powder is used used instead of pure butter.

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I came from Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak is located in the island of Borneo. Since young, I have been eating these buns for breakfasts and snacks.

I missed the buns. The fillings are aromatic. It is sweet and buttery in flavour. When I made the first batch 2 days ago, I posted my pictures in the Google plus certain baking communities and my Facebook timeline, I was surprised that there are a number of readers and my friends are requesting for the recipe. What shocked me is that most of them in Google plus communities have never seen or eaten the buns before. Apparently, they are either curious about the fillings based on my descriptions.

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As for the first batch, I did not take any measurements, I have decided to do the second batch so as to share the recipe with the readers.

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SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

Sarawak style butter buns shall not be confused with the butter soft buns that are mentioned in other recipe books. The so called butter buns in recipe books are mostly refer to buns with no filling. It shall also not to be confused with the Hong Kong cocktail buns where the fillings are shredded coconuts and butters. In addition, they are also different from the so called “butter buns” whereby a butter cube is wrapped by the dough and when baked, the butter melts into the bread. Since there are possibilities of misunderstanding, I shall call these special buns as “Sarawak Style Butter Buns”.

Butter Buns – Normal buttery buns with no filling. (pic courtesy:  http://en.christinesrecipes.com)

Hong Kong Cocktail Buns – Fillings are shredded coconut and butter http://cornercafe.wordpress.com

Buttery Buns – Butter in the centre of the bun and melted when baked. This is also the type of buns commonly found in the famous Malaysian chain store called “Rotiboy” .http://thenewartofbaking.blogspot.sg

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Sarawak Style Butter Buns – Butter fillings. Found in Sarawak only.

   



THE PROCESS OF MAKING SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

This illustration will use the Tangzhong method of bread making and it involved 5 stages in the following orders:

Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux) ..– Best to prepare the night before

Part 2 – Preparing the Dough for the 1st Proofing

Part 3 – Preparing the Butter Fillings

Part 4 – Preparing the Dough – Wrapping the Fillings and 2nd Proofing

Part 5 – The Baking Process

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TANZHONG METHOD OF BREAD MAKING

Tangzhong (汤种)is a relatively new method of bread making and the main advantages of it is because bread made using tangzhong were usually soft and fluffy and  able to keep longer. Previously, bread improver were used to make the bread softer for a longer period of time. However, this method have used all natural ingredients without any chemicals  to get the same effect.

According to Cookipedia:

“Tang zhong (also known as a ‘water roux‘) is a method used in bread making to create soft and fluffy bread which was originated by the Japanese. However, it was popularised throughout south-east Asia in the 1990s by a Chinese woman called Yvonne Chen who wrote a book called The 65° Bread Doctor. Using this method also allows bread to stay fresh for longer without needing to use artificial preservatives.

To make the tang zhong, you mix together one part flour with five parts liquid (by weight) to make a smooth paste. This is usually water, but can be milk or a mixture of both. The mixture is then heated in a saucepan until it reaches exactly 65°C (149°F), removed from the hob, covered and left to cool until it is down to room temperature, when it will be ready to use. It would be useful have a digital thermometer with a probe when making this as other types of thermometer tend to be too large. If you are not making your bread immediately, the tang zhong will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but will need to be brought up to room temperature before use. The tang zhong is added to the main flour with the liquid and mixed in and kneaded as normal.

The amount of tang zhong used should be about 35% of the weight of the main flour. It is best to make a little extra, because the liquid will evaporate slightly during heating. To make a loaf weighing about 1kg, I would suggest using 480g flour, 200g liquid and 170g tang zhong (made with 30g flour and 150g liquid), which will give a hydration of about 68%. You can of course adjust the amount of liquid either side of the 200g, but the tang zhong proportions should not be adjusted. “

(http://www.cookipedia.co.uk/recipes_wiki/Tang_zhong)

You will note that my recipe for Tang zhong (that are detailed below) are different from what is mentioned above. You can either use my recipe or the recipe as mentioned above.

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PROCESS OF MAKING THE SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

PART 1 – MAKING THE TANG ZHONG (WATER ROUX) …..

What is required

  • 50g bread flour
  • 50g boiling water (water should be boiling hot, otherwise you have to put it over the stove to cook it)

Steps of preparation

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  • Get ready the bread flour in a mixing bowl. Pour the boiling hot water into the flour, mixed well and shaped into a ball.
  • Let the ball cooled down at room temperature. Once cooled, covered bowl with a cling wrap and keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • This recipe will make about 90 g of tanzhong. If you cannot finish tanzhong, you can put it in a container and keep it in the fridge for future use.

Update:

The picture below is from my second batch whereby I have used the method specified in the Cookipedia above and is append here for your reference.

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What is required

  • 25 g of bread flour
  • 125 g of cold water

Steps of preparation

  • In a metal mixing bowl, mixed the water with the cold water. Stirred until well mixed.
  • Place the flour mixture under medium to low heat until the mixture boils.
  • Continue to stir until it resembles some types of glue or when the mixtures start to dissociate itself from the wall of the bowl. Cool and keep it in the refrigerator for the portion that was not used.

PART 2 – PREPARING THE DOUGH – 1st Proofing

What is required

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  • 180 g of bread flour (you can substitute 5 g of bread flour with milk powder, in that case you need only 175 g of bread flour)
  • 30 g of sugar
  • 4 g of instant dry yeast
  • Pinches of Salt
  • 35 g of beaten egg (the above picture is for illustration. 35 g of eggs is equivalent to about 1 egg)

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  • 55 ml of fresh milk
  • 20 g of butter – soften
  • 45 g of tangzhong, refer to recipe above (about half of the tangzhong made above)

 


Steps of preparation (dough)

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  • Mix all ingredients except softened butter and beat at slow speed for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter and continue kneading at medium high-speed for about 20-30 minutes or when the dough did not stick to the wall of your mixing bowl and do not break when you pull the dough.
  • In the flat surface dusted with normal or bread flour, take out the dough from the mixing bowl and slightly knead it using hand for 1-2 minutes and shape it into a ball.
  • lightly oil you mixing bowl and place the ball in the bowl. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap (to prevent moisture loss).

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  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s temperature.
  • If you are using a metal mixing bowl which are slightly cold when touched, put it in your oven at temperature of about 30 degree Celsius for about 10 minutes or when your bowl feel warm when touched.

 


PART 3 – PREPARING THE BUTTER FILLINGS

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What is required

  • 150 g of butter
  • 150 g of sugar
  • 180 g of flour

Steps of preparation

  • Melt the butter in the microwavable bowl (1 minute). Alternatively, you can also melt it over the smallest heat directly under the fire.
  • Add the sugar to the hot melted butter, stirred until dissolved.
  • Add in the sifted flour gradually and used a spoon to stir until well mixed.
  • Let the flour mixture cooled down and let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes (note that the flour need sometime to absorb the liquid and don’t worry if it is too watery. After 5 minutes, the flour will also expand and you can see a slight increase in volume.
  • Once cool, shaped it into 10 small balls of about 40 g each. Set aside for later use.

 


PART 4 – PREPARING THE DOUGH – Wrapping the fillings and 2nd Proofing

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  • Take the dough out, punch into the dough to let any trapped air escaped. Knead for one minute and divide into 10 equal size round ball.

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  • Wrap the dough around the butter filling ball as even as possible. Put it in a baking tray and cover with the same damp cloth.
  • Let it proof for another 30 minutes or when balls were almost double in size.

 


PART 5 – THE BAKING PROCESS

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  • Set the oven to temperature 190 degree Celsius.
  • Put  in the oven and bake at 10-15 minutes. After 10 minutes of baking, egg wash (please see below) the buns quickly and continue baking for about 5 minutes or when the top start to turn slightly golden brown. Alternatively, you can egg wash first before you send into the oven. I prefer to egg wash at the latter stage as I can control the colour better.
  • Egg wash – Crack one egg and mixed with 3 teaspoons of water and 2 drops of oil, slightly beat and sift into a small box, use the brush to brush on top of the surface. The purpose is to let the buns looks shinny and golden brown. 

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  • Take out from the oven and transfer to a rack for cooling.

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MODIFICATIONS AND VARIATIONS

  • For the butter fillings, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk powder to the flour. Personally, I do not prefer to have milk powder added since it will negate the butter aroma. However, commercially, they do add milk powder to this and in fact, my kids loved the fillings that have milk powder.
  • For the dough, you can add 1 teaspoon of milk powder as well. However, both this modification are not traditional methods of preparation.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a traditional bun that is very popular among the Sarawakians.  The history has yet to be traced. However, this bun is usually prepared by Hainanese “kopitiam” (coffee shops) and most of the good bakers are Hainanese. Hainanese are the descendants of immigrants from the Island of Hainan in People’s Republic of China. It is also a Chinese dialect group and they are very good chefs and pastry chiefs. This is because they arrived South East Asia later than other Chinese dialect groups (like Cantonese, Hokkien, Foochow) and they were employed as chefs in the then British families and well to do local and nonya families. They were trained by the British in baking and when the colonial era ceased, they started to set up coffee shops cater for the Chinese immigrants in from China. The consumption and usage of butter in pastry were mostly influenced by the British administration. Though unconfirmed, however , it appeared to be logical because Chinese traditional cooking did not use its butter in its delicacies.
  • The Sarawak Style butter buns have a nice buttery fragrance and taken a bit resembles taking a teaspoon of butter and sugar in the mouth….It is divine especially eaten with a cup of tea or coffee. It is ideal as a breakfast item or afternoon snacks.
  • The use of tanzhong in this recipe made the bread softer even after a day or two. This newly developed baking method is widely used by bakers in the Asian region and that is one of the reasons that sweet buns and soft buns were popular in Asian region. The texture will definitely different from the traditional method of bread baking.

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Hope you take a move in trying out this new recipe. For my readers who are in other countries and never tasted this bun, just take a bowl, add equal amounts of melted butter, sugar and flours, stirred and put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Have a small scoop of filling and tell me if this is your cup of teas.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day. Cheers. 

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 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 Thought It Was A Chinese Fritter..–Vietnamese Hollow Donut or Hollow Bread (Bánh Tiêu)

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INTRODUCTION

When I first saw the picture in a Vietnam recipe site, I didn’t realize that Chinese do not have this fried fitter. In fact, I thought it was some sort of fritters that was commonly sold together with You Tiao and Butterfly You Tiao (a type of Chinese deep fried dough fritters). However, after I prepared this, I asked my friends about this fritter, apparently most have not been able to give a name. However, they are kind enough to provide me the names of a few Chinese fritters that were very close to the one I have prepared.

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My friends was asking if there was any fillings inside. I said none, it is just hollow. They told me the one with red bean fillings is called Red Bean Fritters (“豆沙油饼“)。Another want is asking if there was any 5 spice powder, I told them no and this I know, the type with 5 spice powder is called Salty Fritters (“咸简饼“)。 At the end, I have decided to give up researching any further and follow the Vietnamese name of Hollow Donuts (Bánh Tiêu).

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Though the name is Vietnamese, however, the taste is exactly like the the other Chinese fried dough fritters as the ingredients are basically the same. I do not have a lot of picture for these fritters as it is our snack and it had been “snatched” away before I have time to take my picture.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adopted from: http://www.vietnamesefood.com.vn

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  • 400 grams of plain flour (or bread flour which I believed will produce better results)

  • 80 grams of sugar

  • 200 ml of water

  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil or vegetable shortenings

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon of instant yeasts

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • Adequate sesame seeds for coating

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Mix the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in the lukewarm water. Set aside for 10 minutes and see if there are some bubbles (froths) formation. If there are no froth formation, it means the yeast is death and you have to change the yeast.

  • In a machine mixing bowl, place plain flour, remaining sugar and baking powder. Slightly stir and make a well in the centre. Add in the yeast solution and use the spoon to slightly stir it.

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  • Use a the machine’s dough hook and use slow speed to mix the the dough for the first 2-3 minutes and continue to use medium speed to beat for 5 minutes. Add in vegetable shortening or cooking oil. Use high speed to beat until the dough is smooth which will take approximately 15 minutes.   (note that you can use hand to knead the dough also if you prefer not to use the machine)

  • Take out and knead it for 1-2 minutes and shape it like a ball and let it proof for at least 45 minutes or when the size doubled.

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  • Take out the proofed dough, punch to let the air escape. Lightly knead for 1-2 minutes and divide into 10-20 equal balls. Coat with sesame seeds and let the balls proof for about 20-30 minutes. (Note that in this illustration, I have opt to make it into 10 balls which is slightly bigger than the one sold in the stalls, therefore, I would suggest to divide it into 15-20 balls).

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  • Heat up about 5 cm high of oil in a frying pan. Take a small piece of dough and drop to the hot oil and see if the dough starts to expand and float. If yes, the oil is ready.

  • Use your hand to flatten the dough to about 0.5 cm thick and put it into the hot oil.  Use a chopstick to flip it continuously and you should start to see the dough puffing up. Continuing doing so until the fritters are golden brown in colour. Place on a rack and let the fritters cool down.

  • Best serve immediately after it is cool.

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Note that the puff may become flat after it cooled. This is common as the dough do not have anything such as eggs to support its structure. Depending on your shaping, you should have a hole in the fried fritters. If your shaping is not perfect or do not have adequate time to proof, they may be no hole but the taste is equally fabulous like the sweet “butterfly fritters” you purchase in the stores.

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CONCLUSION

Vietnam is the neighbouring country of People’s of China. Obviously, Vietnamese cuisines will be influenced by Chinese cuisines and vice versa. This hollow donuts or hollow breads (as some Vietnamese called it) are definitely worth a try. In my humble opinion, it had no difference with the Chinese salted fritters “ham chim peng” except it is sweeter and do not have 5 spice powders. Do try to prepare and let me know if this suits your family’s taste buds.

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Lastly, I have pleased to share with readers the new “RECIPE INDEX” which have more than 150 over cuisines since I started the blog on 30 April 2013. This index have incorporated all the recipes that are either in this blog or in Guaishushu’s Facebook Page. You may want to take a look. It will be constantly upgraded and bookmark it for your future reference. Thanks for your kind support.  Cheers and have a nice day.

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Small Appetite Foodie’s Apple Pie

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INTRODUCTION

Being a business analyst before I become a food blogger, I like to do research if times permit. Therefore, readers who read my blog may be wondering why I like to quote Wikipedia’s definition. Seriously, I like Wikipedia’s concise definition on the food that I blogged about and at times I will use it as a benchmark against the food that I made. The same applies for today’s pastry, apple pie.

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Per Wikipedia’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_pie,

“An apple pie is a fruit pie (or tart) in which the principal filling ingredient is apples. It is sometimes served with whipped cream or ice cream on top, or alongside cheddar cheese. Pastry is generally used top-and-bottom, making it a double-crust pie, the upper crust of which may be a circular shaped crust or a pastry lattice woven of strips; exceptions are deep-dish apple pie with a top crust only, and open-face Tarte Tatin.”

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I have made an apple pie yesterday. When I was chatting with a friend in Google plus about my red dragon fruit cheesecake, he was asking me if I know how to make an apple pie. I told him that I have not prepared before as apples are rather expensive. Unlike Western countries, most apples were imported from temperate countries. However, I have tasted apple pies before and it should not be a big problem for me to replicate the apple pie that I have eaten before.

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Actually, the apple pie that I am most familiar with are those sold in McDonalds. However, those pies were deep fried and what I am going to share in this post is the modified version of baked apple pie to suit Asian Foodies’ smaller appetite for sweet desserts… Pardon me if I am wrong..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Dough – make one 8 inch pie without  top pastry

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  • 35 grams egg (lightly beaten)

  • 150 grams plain flour (sifted)

  • 30 grams of icing sugar (sifted)

  • 75 grams of chilled butter cut into cubes

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Note: If you want to cover the entire pie with top pastry, you will have to multiply by 1.5 times the above volume. The above volume did not intend to have a upper pie crust like American style apple pie.

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Apple Fillings

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  • 4 large apples (de-skin, pitted and cut into 0.5 cm slices)

  • half cup of brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg powder

Note:

  • Selection of apples – Apples selected shall be those that are crunchy in texture such as Fuji Apple or Granny’s green apple.

  • Quantity of apples – The apples stated here are for the preparation of a flat thin pie of about 1.5 cm height. If you like the American version of apple pie, you may want to consider to increase your apples to at least 6 large apples (or even 8 depending on how deep your baking glass dish can take)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put butter cubes and sifted plain flour together. Use the finger tips to rub the butter cubes and flours together until it become crumby. Add in sifted icing sugars and continue to rub until well mix.

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  • Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla essence, mix slowly until it become a dough. Put it in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes. Note that if you are able to handle soft dough, you can by pass this step.

  • Have a clinging wrap on the table, take the dough from the fridge and place on top of it. Put another clinging wrap on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat sheet with about 0.5 cm thickness. Transfer the dough to the pie tin and use you hand to press the dough against the sides and make it as even as possible. Use a fork to make some holes in the dough (optional). Set aside for later use. If you have some left over dough, just keep it to put on top of the apple fillings.

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  • In another big mixing bowl, add the sugar and spices to the apple slices. Mix well and pour on top of the pie pastry.  Level it. If you have additional pastry left from the making of bottom pastry, your can put on top of the apple fillings.

Note: If you have opt to cover the apple pie with top pastry, cover the pastry on top the apple and make some hole to the let the water vapour escape when the apple is cooked.

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  • Bake in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for about 25-30 minutes or when the pie crust turn golden yellow. (Note that this is a thin pie therefore, cooking time is relatively short). Egg wash the top pastry if desired.

  • Can be served either hot or cold with sour cream, ice cream or even custards.

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CONCLUSIONS

There are many variations of apple pies. Some have top pastry like the American style version. It were usually prepared using a deep glass dish. Some are without top pastry but substituted with bread crumbles and rolled oats as in the Swedish version of apple pies. The French have another version called Tarte Tatin.

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Knowing Asian’s small appetite for Western desserts, I have prepared this pie in a form of thin slice. Both pastry and apple filling are rather thin as compared to the Western version. And if the diner is of big appetite, he can just opt to have 2 slices at the same time……

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GUAI SHU SHU | Guai Shu Shu is a “shu shu” that is “guai”….


  • 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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Light Yet Sophisticated And Delicious Mango Puddings

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INTRODUCTION

I remembered I first have my mango pudding when I stayed in Hong Kong in 1995. It was rather popular be it in the hotel restaurants or in the fast food chains. For commercially packed mango puddings, it can be easily bought in the supermarkets. The dessert is light and can be served with a variety of regional fresh fruits. It is especially soothing and comforting after a heavy meal of oily or spicy foods. I loved its rich and creamy texture.

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MANGO PUDDINGS DEFINED

As per Wikipedia:

“Mango pudding is a Chinese dessert usually served cold. It is very popular in Hong Kong, where pudding is eaten as a traditional British food. Mango pudding originated in India and the recipe was introduced from the British in the 19th century. There is very little variation between the regional mango pudding’s preparation. The dessert is also found in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau and is often served as dim sum in Chinese restaurants.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mango_pudding)

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Make 6 desserts cups

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  • 200 ml of coconut milks

  • 200 ml of full cream evaporated milks

  • 250 ml of fresh milks

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 150 grams of sugar

  • 1 large mango (pitted and pureed)

  • 9 gelatine sheets (about 1.5 tablespoon gelatine powder)

As for the liquids, you can change between coconut milks, evaporated milks and fresh milks  but ensure that the total volumes add up to 750 ml. This means that you can use 750 ml of fresh coconut milks if you prefer. I usually like to dilute my coconut milk as I do not want the dessert to be overly creamy and for health conscious reasons.

Note that the colour of the final mango puddings will vary depends on the types of mango that you have. If evaporated milk were added, the colour will be creamy colour.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the mango purees

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  • De-skin and pitted (stoned) one large mango. Put the mango flesh in a food processor, blend it until puree form and set aside for later use.

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Preparing the puddings

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  • In a sauce pan, place all the liquids and sugar and heat it under medium heat until it boils. Once boiled, turn to lowest heat available.

  • Soak your gelatine sheets for 1 minutes and place the sheets into the sauce pan. Keep stirring until all the gelatine are dissolved. Off the heat but put on top of the stove to minimize the heat loss.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, use a whisk to whisk you egg yolk until light. Add the mango puree and whisk until well mixed. Sift the hot milk onto the mango puree and stir until well mixed.

  • Spoon the mixture into lightly oil pudding moulds or dessert cups and leave to cool. Chill the mango puddings in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (or until set), preferably overnight.

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CONCLUSION

Easy to do and tasty desserts. Classic yet sophisticated. You can serve with fresh fruits or on its own. Additions of extra evaporated milks will make it creamier. Best to present to your guest after a heavy, oily and spicy meal.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers.

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Eating “Rat’s Shit”? You AreTotally Gross! –Vegetarian Fried “Beethyemak” Rice Noodles

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INTRODUCTION

Beethyemak (“米大目”) is the name stated in the package of rice noodles that I bought from the supermarket. It is also called “Loh Su Fun” (“老鼠粉”) in Cantonese literally translated as  “Rats flour” …In my Chawan dialects group, it was called “ngiao chu sia” (”老鼠屎“) literally translated as “Rat’s shit”. My mother in law who is a Teochew, called it “ngiao chi ni” (“老鼠奶“) literally translated as “Rat’s milk”..

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If you ask me what is the English translation? I will just translated it into a type of rice noodles taken in different form of the shape of disgusting “worms”. Apparently, it was shaped liked a “rat” .. Does it? I don’t know! I looked for some write up for this noodle dish and I managed to get a Chinese description in http://www.baike.com , the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia. What is written is:

“米苔目是闽南语,又叫米筛目,漳州龙海特色小吃,是用米和番薯粉做成的。制作米苔目的工序颇为复杂:先要将米浸泡磨成米浆,然后放进布袋加压脱水成“饭脆”,将“饭脆”加入番薯粉,揉搓成饭团,再把饭团做成细条状,放到锅里煮熟捞起后用冷水冲洗,使之滑嫩。米苔目加入糖水、刨冰,可以做成冰凉可口的甜品,咸吃则可以用乌醋拌食或放入柴鱼熬煮成汤,再加入爆香的作料;像河粉一般热炒的米苔目很有嚼劲。 米苔目现在是闽南地区以及台湾著名的美食。” (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/68002.htm)

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I have used Google Translation to translate and this is what I got:

“Mitai Mu is the Taiwanese language, called m mesh , Zhangzhou Longhai snacks, with rice and sweet potato flour made. Making process is quite complex Mitai Mu: Soak the rice milled rice milk first and then put into a pressure dewatering bag “rice crispy”, the “rice crispy” adding sweet potato powder , rub into balls , then made ​​into balls thin strips, into the pot boiled picked up after the rinse with cold water to make it smooth and delicate. Mi Taimu added sugar , ice, can be made ​​into delicious cold desserts , salty food, you can use the black vinegar mixed with food or put dried fish boiled into soup, then add the spices until fragrant; like rice noodles stir-fried rice general moss mesh very chewy. Mitai Mu is now southern region as well as Taiwan ‘s famous cuisine.”

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Well, if readers can understand, it is best. However, if you can’t, I think that is unfair to you and I will try my best to translate for you.

“ Beethyemak is the name in Mingnan (Fujian or Hokkien) and the “thye” can also be translated or treated as “sift” in Hokkien. It is a famous snack in Longhai County, Zhangzhou (People’s Republic of China) and it is made of rice and sweet potatoes flour. The manufacturing process is rather complicated. Firstly, the rice grain have to be soaked and ground into rice batter, These are then put in a bag made from cloth. A heavy object is then placed on top of the rice batter to exert pressure and squeeze out the water making it to become a drier batter. Sweet potatoes flour are then added and mixed well. It is then made into long stripes by pouring the batter into the hot water. When cooked , the noodles are immediately dip in cold water such that the texture will be smooth and springy. To serve as a dessert, syrups and crushed ices were added to beethyemak . For savoury dishes, beethyemak can be stir mixed with black vinegar。 It can also be cooked with Bonito broth, and garnished with aromatic deep fried garlics or shallots. It can also be stir fried like Horfun (Kway Tiao) and both noodles have almost similar textures. Beethyemak is now a famous cuisine in the Mingnan (Fujian) area and Taiwan.”

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I have been eating this noodle dish since I was young. Because of the name “Rat’s shit”, psychologically, I do not really like it. In addition, when I was young in Kuching, Sarawak, the Beethyemak is mostly made from pure rice flour. The texture is rather coarse and tasteless. It is not until when I came to Singapore that I started to like Beethyemak. The Beethyemak in Singapore is more springy and if properly cooked, it taste better than rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao (another flat type of rice noodles). 

This noodle is not easy to prepare as compare to rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao. You can either cook it in soupy version or stir fry it.

For stir frying, if you want to maintain the shape, the oil for frying will have to be quite a lot. Otherwise it will stick to your frying pan making it hard to fry. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how to stir fry this noodle dish, the ingredients can be anything from prawns to meat to the vegetables of your choice.

Again, as I am still on my vegetarian diet, this dish will be a vegetarian version. But remember, you can always add meats, prawns, fish cakes etc. of your choice. In addition, you can always used the same method to fry rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao or Horfun.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

There will be no quantity stated here and you have full flexibility to change the ingredients. This illustration is the vegetarian version and please add in any other ingredients that you like.

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  • Some cabbage cut in slices

  • Some black fungus – soaked and cut into small slices

  • Some tofu puff – cut into small square cubes

  • 1 package of Beethyemak rice noodles (about 500 grams – servings of 4-5 adults)

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  • Some eggs, lightly beaten

  • Some celery – cut into small cubes

  • Some mock meat – cut into strips

  • Some dried mushrooms – soaked and cut into strips

  • Some shredded gingers and/or shallots and/or garlics

  • Condiments of your choices – light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, flavour enhancer like mushroom concentrate, white pepper, salt)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put one to two tablespoons of cooking oil in the frying pan. Add in shredded gingers and mushrooms (non vegetarian version can put in shredded shallots and garlics) and stir fried under high heat until the fragrance starts to spread.

  • Add in cabbage, stir fry for one minute and follow by celery, mock meat, tofu puffs, black fungus, stir fry until well mixed. Add in half a cup of water (estimate) and let it cooked for one – two minutes.

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The above garnishes of spring onion for picture taking purposes, Religion vegetarian cannot have spring onion in the dish.

Note

  • The purpose of adding the water is to soften and cook the vegetables. Remember, unlike stir frying rice vermicelli, the water has to be minimal as the noodles are rather wet and will not be able to absorb any more water.

  • If your are frying with meat, meat will be the first item to be stir fried followed by hard vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery etc.), leafy vegetables and tomatoes in this order.

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  • Add in the noodles and stir fry until well mixed. Add in dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, pepper, salt and flavour enhancer. Stir fry until well mixed. Add in beaten eggs and fry until all the noodles were coated with the eggs.

Note:

  • In this illustration, I have purposely used this method of adding the eggs to the noodles. The purpose is to let the eggs coating the noodles. If you do not like the moist soft egg coated noodles, you can prepare the omelette and cut it into strips. You can refer to Vegetarian Tom Yam Bee Hoon for making of omelette strips. The difference is this way of frying noodles will result in moister noodles.

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  • Add in tomatoes and and stir fry for another minutes before scoop out to the plate for serving. Best serve hot with your preferences of garnishes such as coriander leaves, freshly cut chilli or Chinese celery leaves.


CONCLUSION

This noodle dish looks easy to prepare but in fact, it need some practise. The challenges is to ensure the noodles are well coated with eggs and not stick to each other or soggy. To get this texture, the following points have to be taken into considerations:

  • The heat has to be high heat throughout the stir frying. Therefore action have to be fast. If you can’t handle, this, you have to use at least medium heat. High heat is required to ensure that all the fragrances of gingers/shallots/garlics mix well with the noodles and any moisture or water contents dries up quickly. With this, there is less chance for the noodles to get soggy.

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  • There is always a trade off between the look of your final cooked noodles and the amount of cooking oil used. You have to chose whether you want to have a healthier dish (using less oil) but an uglier dish (may be a bit out of shape as some of the noodles may stick to your frying pan). If you want to have an impressive non stick noodles, you will have to use quite a lot of oil to achieve that effect.

  • Unlike fried rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao, the water used for simmering the vegetables or side ingredients cannot be too much, otherwise, your noodles will be soggy and stick to the frying pan. If you have accidentally added too much water, you would rather let the water dry up first (meaning cook a bit longer) rather than having some soggy noodles.

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  • If you do not like moist egg coated noodles, you can use egg omelette strips.

  • All side ingredients in this illustrations are optional and substitutable. Please use what you like to fry the noodles. I have raid my fridge to come out with this and is a vegetarian version. Otherwise, I would have added pork belly meat, prawns and even some dry shrimps. So, use whatever that your family likes to cook the noodle dish.

  • Though all ingredients appeared to be optional, however, the selections will usually based on the colour of the side ingredients and a good combination of colour will make the dish looks appetizing. I usually used tomatoes or carrots for orange, chillies for red colour, choy shym or leafy vegetable for green, dried mushrooms or black fungus for black,  and corns or eggs for yellow colour. This minute detail of colour combination will make this simple dish becoming a presentable dish.

  • Remember that this method of cooking is equally applicable to fried yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, Kway Tiao, Pad Thai and etc..

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

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Soft Chewy or Crispy,You Choose Yourself! – Baby Cereal Oatmeal Cranberry Biscuits (麦片饼干)

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UPDATED POST ON 2-10-2014

A biscuit that I like very much but went unnoticed because I did not like the initial pictures taken.. Since I have some cereal at home, I decided to prepare this for my relatives as a hand gift. Nothing change except that I substitute the oats portion with instant cereal since I do not have it at home. In addition, instead of cranberry, I have used raisin instead. It is crispy outside and chewy in the middle. You can make it totally crispy if you make it a smaller size and extend the baking time at a lower temperature. A rather addictive cookie and I really love the cereal flavouring.

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INTRODUCTION

One number baking ratio now extends it to biscuit and of course it had to be slightly amended. In this recipe, one portion of milk was being substituted by a portion of flour to make it a cookie liked structure.  This biscuits can be a soft chewy type of biscuit that is crispy on the outside but slightly soft in the middle. It can also be a crispy type of biscuits it you prefer it to be crunchy.

This is not the first time I prepared these biscuits. I prepared these biscuits a few months back. I loved it for its chewy texture and the baby cereal fragrance.

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WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN INSTANT OATS “MEET” QUAKER OATS

I like to blend my instant Quaker Oats with the Nestum Baby Cereals and make it into a breakfast cereal drink. I usually put 50% of instant oats and 50% of baby cereals and use a food processor to blend these two items. The breakfast cereal drinks will have instant oats “stickiness” but with baby cereals fragrance. I usually sweetened it by some condensed milk and if it was too “sticky”, I will add in some fresh milk. Bananas and nuts were added when I craved for it. May be I shall have another post on this wonderful breakfast drinks and you wouldn’t be disappointed with this cereal drink..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 grams of butter

  • 100 grams of plain flour

  • 50 grams of instant oat

  • 50 grams of instant baby cereals

  • 100 grams of sugar

  • 100 grams of eggs

  • 50 grams of cranberry (optional and substitutable with raisins or other dry fruits)

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 0.5 teaspoon of baking soda

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the instant oat baby cereal mixture

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  • Blend 50 grams of instant oats and instant baby cereal each using a food processor until your desired textures.


Preparation

  • Get ready 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper or baking paper.

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

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Preparation the batter and baking

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  • Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and followed by the mixture of oats/baby cereals. Stir and mix well.

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  • Add in the sifted flour, baking powder and baking soda, mix until just combined. Stir in cranberries or raisins and mix well.

  • Place one teaspoon/tablespoon full of soft dough (depending on the size you want) on the parchment or baking paper.  Give adequate space for the dough to expand when cooked.

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  • Bake in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 15-20 minutes or until the colour starts to turn golden brown on the edges but still soft in the centre.

  • Cooled completely in a rack before store in an air tight container.

  • Best served with hot tea and coffee and as a snack.

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VARIATIONS

  • If you preferred the crunchy version, after the 20 minutes baking at 180 degree Celsius, reduce your temperature to 150 degree Celsius and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Note that the cookies will not be hardened until you take it out from the oven. Let it cool and see if that is your desired texture. In the event you prefer to be even crispier, put back to the oven and baked for another 5 minutes. The longer you baked, the more moisture will be lost making it to be crispier. However, do watch out for the colour of cookies. If it is too brown, you can turn off the top heat and use the bottom heat to continue the baking.


CONCLUSION

From preparing the biscuits until I finished this posting, it took me about 2 hours. Therefore, readers should comprehend how easy this biscuit was. If you like baby cereal like I do, you will like it. If you like soft chewy type of biscuits where the edges are crispy and soft in the inside, you will like it. Take a step to make this, tailor to your family taste buds, it definitely wouldn’t disappoint yourself and your family members.

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Join me to have some of these cookies as breakfast and of course, not forgetting a cup of hot Earl Grey tea.

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Cheers and have a nice day!

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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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