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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How Do You Do? I Missed You, My Dear Friend! – Traditional Coconut Tarts (椰子塔)

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INTRODUCTION

Coconut tart, a childhood snack that I really missed. Since I started blogging, I have never prepared this tropical coconut tart.. In fact, I have not eaten these tarts for years even though Singapore traditional bakery shops still have this pastry item in their shelf.

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I like the tarts for its aromatic shredded coconuts and the crispy tart shell. When I baked the tarts, the house was full of coconut aroma and I definitely wouldn’t regret making these tarts. In fact, I have finished the tarts and do not have any extra to give it to my neighbours.. Which is rather unusual.

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I do not think I need to explain more, it is just a tart with nice aromatic shredded coconut in it. The tart shell is crispy and yet the coconut filling is moist and I have to thank Aunty Yochana for sharing her recipe in one of her 2006 posts. 

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WHAT IS NEEDED

Recipe Adapted from : Aunty Yochana’s Coconut Tarts

Dough (Make about 6 big tarts)

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  • 25 grams egg (lightly beaten)

  • 100 grams plain flour (sifted)

  • 20 grams of icing sugar (sifted)

  • 50 grams of chilled butter cut into cubes

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

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Coconut Fillings 

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  • 200 grams shredded coconuts

  • 75 grams butter (melted)

  • 100 grams castor sugar

  • 2 eggs 

  • 1 tablespoon of condensed milk

  • 3 tablespoons of water

  • Yellow colouring (optional). This illustration does not use yellow colouring.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing The Tart Shells

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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.

  • Take the dough from the fridge and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat sheet with about 0.5 cm thickness.

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  • Use a round cutter to cut about the size of the mould.  Note that this step is optional and will help you to roughly gauge the amount of dough required and you still need to adjust the quantity of dough as you progress.  Use your hand to press the dough against the sides and make it as even as possible.

  • Use a knife or anything sharp to cut off the sides. Use a fork to make some holes to let any trapped air to escape. Set aside for later use.

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If you have extra dough, you can just use this dough to prepare additional tarts shell, bake and keep it for other tarts such as egg tarts or quiche.

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Preparing the coconut fillings

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  • In a big mixing bowl, mix all ingredients using a spoon or spatula until well mixed.


Assembling the tarts and baking the tarts

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.

  • Scope the fillings into the tarts and bake in the oven’s lower shelf. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tart shells become golden brown.

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CONCLUSION

Personally, I like these tarts very much. It is really a sweet indulgence and can be addictive when I take the first bite. This is the traditional version without any alteration.

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As my tart moulds are slightly higher than the commercially sold coconuts tarts, I managed to make 6 big tarts. However, they are very moist in the middle but the tart shells are extremely crispy. Handling the tart shells’ dough have to be as light and as fast as possible such that the pastries will melt in your mouth.

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Hope that readers can try to make these tropical tarts.. I said in my Facebook timeline that I am just like a pregnant woman who constantly craved for childhood and traditional foods… Shall these foods be marginalized by the influx of foreign cuisines?

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Have a nice day and 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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Traditional Batik Cake or Hedgehog Cake

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Updated post on 10-10-2014

Have not prepare this cake for one year. A sudden craving made me wanted to prepare this rich and sinful cake to curb the sugar cravings. However, I have added 3 eggs to the recipe and using the boiling method.

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The simplified method are:

  • Melt the butter, add in condensed milk, beaten eggs and milo, cooked under medium heat until it starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin lined with Marie biscuits. Cover the base layer of Marie biscuits with the mixture. Put another layer of Marie biscuit on top and follow by another year of mixture. 

The shape is better and it wouldn’t melt in the hot weather. Of course, it will not be that creamy like the chilled version since it had been cooked. Happy trying.

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INTRODUCTION

Don’t bombard me this controversial version of batik cake or “hedgehog” cake. It is simplified by Guaishushu as he had omitted the cooking steps.

Guaishushu like traditional cakes for its simple to follow ratio. Due to lack of precise measuring equipment in the early days, most household cakes recipes are simple such as pound cakes.

Today, Guaishushu is not promoting the one number baking ratio. Instead, he is making a cake that truly reflects the lifestyles of the people living in Malaysia in the early 70’s to 80’s. This cake is a simple cake that Guaishushu’s have made a long long time ago, may be 30 years back. Then, there was no oven in the house and his family just have a very simple fridge.

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This was one of the easiest cake that he can make because it required no oven, no mixer and just need a fork and a spoon. In addition, the ingredients were household common breakfast items such as Milo beverage drink and Marie biscuits. There was no internet then and most recipes were by words of mouth. He can’t recall which relative gave him the recipe, what he could remember very clearly was the nice pattern in the cake.

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In Malaysia, the cake was called BATIK CAKE. Batik is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. It is a beautiful cloth and usually wore by Malay in the Malay Peninsular.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batik)

Guaishushu had long wanted to make the cake but he did not have the recipe. He had in fact bought the Marie biscuits but did not have the time to search for a recipe. Coincidentally, one of the members in a Google Plus communities disclosed that her week end adventure was preparing a batik cake, Guaishushu immediately felt extremely happy and asked her for the recipe. The member was very kind to share her recipe and uploaded a picture. Guaishushu showed his wife the picture and his wife concurred that she have missed the cake too as she had not eaten this for ages.. With her recipe, Guaishushu started his preparation and within one hour, everything was done and send to the fridge for chilling.

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This recipe is a bit different from the original recipe in that Guaishushu do not cook the mixture. No cooking is actually required because all the ingredients are cooked ingredients. He opted just to mix and chilled to simplify the preparation. Of course, without cooking, the texture will be much softer and it can be treated as a type of chocolate sauce.

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The cooked version will have  a better shape but the texture is slightly chewy . Non cooked version will have a totally different texture, soft and smooth and rich in chocolate flavour.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 can of condensed milk (385 grams)
  • 385 grams of milo (breakfast beverage drink)
  • 385 grams of melted butter
  • 1 packet of Marie biscuits (about 250 grams) – a bit more or less is okay.
  • 3 eggs (optional) – If eggs are added, you will have to use the cooked version.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

There are two methods of preparation. Either you melt the butter, milo, eggs  and condensed milk in a sauce pan and cooked under low heat until it thickens. In this case, you cake will be chewy and more shapely (Please refer to the update post for procedures)  For better presentation, it is advised that you follow this method such that it had a nicely cut cake. But for taste wise, it is advise that you follow the second method below.

The second method is as in this illustration where no cooking is required, therefore, you final products will become very creamy, soft as if you are having some rich chocolate sauce with biscuits.

Chilled Version

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place melted butter and condensed milk together, use hand or machine whisk until texture is consistent.

  • Add in milo powder and mix until it is well mix.

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  • Arrange your Marie biscuits in the tin and pour some chocolate sauce over the biscuits. Add another layer and repeat the same procedures until all biscuits and batter are used up.

  • Freeze it in the freezer for 1 hour or until temporary set. Cut into the desired size and served immediately out from the fridge. The sauce will gradually melt in the room temperature and therefore you shouldn’t put in the serving plate too early especially in hot weather like Malaysia and Singapore.

  • Best serve cold as a form of dessert.

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Cooked Version

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  • Melt the butter, add in condensed milk, beaten eggs and milo, cooked under medium heat until it starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin lined with Marie biscuits. Cover the base layer of Marie biscuits with the mixture. Put another layer of Marie biscuit on top and follow by another year of mixture. 

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CONCLUSIONS

This is a twist of the traditional Batik Cake. I have purposely not to cook the batter since all ingredients are cooked ingredients. The texture and the level of enjoyment is totally different. While the traditional method of cooking the batter will provide you with better shaping but to me, its texture is compromised. I would prefer something soft, silky, rich and creamy full of chocolaty flavour to go with this simple plain biscuit. Whether or not this can still called a batik cake is irrelevant to me. The texture and taste will definitely a better alternative for me.

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The cake is made with simple ingredients, no complicating beating using expensive equipment, why not making one today and try. You can add nuts if you want to, can add some Nescafé if you prefer, change to some other types of biscuits if this suit your taste buds.  Remember, boiling method can give you a better shape but the texture is slightly harder. Chilling method is very creamy but a bit messy. If you asked me which do I prefer? For small gathering at home, chilling method. As gift or buffet style, boiling method…. Last but not least, I forgot to say that this taste like Asian Kit Kat.. Ha-ha.

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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 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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Vegetarian Pizza Is Just As Tasty ! Simple And Basic Vegetarian Pizza Preparation

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INTRODUCTION

I loved pizza. Pizza is one of the most common food that I ordered when I have meals in Western Restaurants. I love pizza for its dough and cheese. It is a comfort food that I can easily eat an 6 inches diameter pizza. However. I have never really ever prepare pizza since I start my baking 15 years ago. I am thinking that since I have made bread, cakes, muffins cupcakes etc., why don’t I make my own pizza?

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In my Facebook group : Food Bloggers and Foodies United, one of the bloggers Ms Ainy Wajahat from Pakistan have posted some pizza recipes and I promised here that I will bake some pizza. Therefore, I have based on her recipes to make the dough. For the toppings, since I am still on the vegetarian diet, I have used mostly vegetables found in my fridge.

Initially, I intended to make my own pasta sauce. Somehow, as I am too tired that afternoon, I rushed to a provision store nearby and bought a can of ready made pasta sauce. You can read the making of Pasta Sauce from fresh tomatoes HERE.

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Instead of preparing it  in the traditional round shape pizza, I have opted to make a rectangular shape pizza which is easier for me to bake and cut for later serving. I made the dough in the morning and intended to have the pizza for lunch, somehow, the family members decided to go out for lunch, therefore, I froze my dough in the fridge and only made the pizza during dinner time.

Making pizza is really simple and at times, I just wonder why shall I pay so much for pizzas that were sold in the eating outlets.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Dough – Recipe adapted from Ainy Cooks

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  • 500 grams plain flour

  • 30 grams butter (at room temperature) or olive oil or ghee or normal cooking oil

  • 300 ml of water

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of instant yeast

Toppings

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  • Some Enoki mushrooms (cut into half)

  • Some fresh mutton mushrooms (shredded)

  • Some fresh sweet corns

  • Some green capsicums (shredded)

  • Some sausages (for my kids portion)

  • 1 tin of pasta sauce about –about 500 grams

  • Abundant of mozzarella cheeses or cheddar cheeses or goat cheese or other cheeses of your choice. 

The ingredients here are for reference only. You can add a whole range of your preferred vegetable such as tomatoes, pineapples, preserved olives, celeries and etc..

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place all materials except butter/ghee/cooking oil/olive oil and use a dough hook to mix until well mix. Add in butter and continue to beat until the dough is smooth. Let it proof for at least 1 hour or until the dough size double. Use a cling wrap or a wet towel to cover the top.

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  • Lightly grease a baking tin and pre-heat your oven to 200 degree Celsius.

  • Punch your dough in the centre to let the air escape. Lightly knead and use a roller pin to roll into  a flat piece resembling the shape of the baking tin. It will be about 0.5-1 cm thick for the dough to cover all the tin area. Make it as even as possible.

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  • Use a fork to lightly make some holes on top of the dough. As this is a big piece of pizza, this is to let the air to have some holes to escape.

  • Spread some pasta sauce on top of the dough

  • Fill the top with your choice of vegetables  and meats, if desired. sprinkle some Italian herbs mix such as basil, oregano etc..

  • Sprinkle sparingly with mozzarella cheese or other cheeses with your choice.

I have make half of the pizza as vegetarian and another half into ham and sausage pizzas for my kids.

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  • Bake your pizza in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the bases are cooked and cheeses have melt.

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  • Cur into your desired size and shape and best serve hot with your choice of additional sauces such as Tabasco sauces, mayonnaise or just plain.

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CONCLUSION

This was one of my very first basic vegetarian pizza that I have made  with great success. The post was very short because it deals with basic pizza preparation. More variations will come and Guaishushu will tailor the taste to the very Asian taste such as curry and etc.. However, that shall have to wait after Guaishushu finishes his vegetarian diet.

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

newmarvelousmondays-button

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Is Pavlova Originated From Australia, Russia or New Zealand?–Strawberry and Blueberry Pavlova

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INTRODUCTION

Yesterday is really a busy day for me. I have been making mayonnaise, baking pizza and this Pavlova. By the time  I have to take picture of this Pavlova, I was feeling extremely tired and after I ate one slice and kept 3 slices for other families members, I gave away the rest to my neighbour who were having some sort of house gathering. I hoped I have adequate pictures to share with readers.

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Pavlova actually sounds familiar to me. Just like Vladimir, Sergei, Liana and Nathasia, the name sounds so Russian. I have spent some times in Russian before and one of my ex-colleagues do carry the name Pavlova. In fact, I do not know it is the name of one of the famous desserts until very recently when I did a read up on meringue, macaroons and other egg whites based pastry items.

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WHAT IS PAVLOVA?

Per Wikipedia:

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside.

The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the source.

The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals. It is a dessert most identified with the summer time, but is eaten all year round in many Australian and New Zealand homes.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlova_(food))

Meringue based dessert will mean this dessert only utilizes egg whites and some sugar. It is not really a common dessert in Singapore and Malaysia. The challenge is to prepare a Pavlova that had a crispy outside of soft cotton liked inside. Preparation is not really that tough but patience is needed in the baking of this simple meringue.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

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  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature)

  • 1 1/4 cups of icing sugar or castor sugar

  • 2 teaspoon of potatoes starch/corn starch

  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • Fresh fruits of your choice. In this illustration, I have used fresh strawberry and blueberry.

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Note:

  • The egg whites have to be at room temperature. Colder egg whites are more difficult to beat to peak condition.

  • I have substituted the castor sugar with icing sugar as it will be easier for it to dissolve in the egg whites. If it is difficult for you to get icing sugar, just blend the castor sugar using a food processor.

  • Usually, corn starch is used. However, as I did not have corn starch with me, I have used potatoes starch. By the same logic, sweet potatoes starch and tapioca starch can also be used. What is needed is a small quantity of flour that is light and smooth to help holding the Pavlova structure.


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a baking tray. have a piece of baking/parchment paper. Use a 8” round baking tin and draw a big circle on the baking sheet. Set aside for later use.

  • In a mixing bowl, Add egg white and beat until soft peak form. Add in icing sugar spoon by spoon and continue to beat until the egg white is thick and glossy.

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  • To check if all sugars have been dissolved, rub a bit of the beaten egg whites (meringues) between the thumb and index fingers. If it is smooth, it means that the sugars have been dissolved. If it feels sandy, it means that the sugar has yet to be dissolved. Continue beating for another 1-2 minutes and test again.

  • Add in vanilla essence and continue beating until it is well mixed.

  • Off the machine if the meringue is glossy and in its stiff peak form. Stiff peak form means when you hold up the beater, the meringue can point upwards as shown in picture number 4.

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  • Take out the mixing bowl. Add/sprinkled the lemon juices. Sift in the potatoes/corn flours.

  • Use a spatula to fold in the flour and lemon juice quickly. Handle lightly until all the lemon juice and flour are well mixed.

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  • Place the meringue on top of the baking paper within the circle drawn. Smoothing the edges.

  • Baked in the oven at low temperature of 130 degree Celsius for about 60-90 minutes or until the outer crust are dry and pale cream colour.

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  • IMPORTANT: Leave the Pavlova inside the oven with the door ajar and let it cool inside the oven until it is completely cool. It is generally okay if the middle part of the Pavlova collapsed as we will be decorating with whipped cream.

  • PRIOR TO SERVING, beat about 200 ml of whipping cream until top peak and placed on top of the Pavlova. Place your fresh fruits on top of the Pavlova.

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CONCLUSION

Pavlova is good to be served as a dessert. It’s sweet crusty tops and sides goes well with most fruits. One can also consider using fruits such as Kiwi and mangos. The Pavlova can be prepared in advance and keep for 3-4 days in an air tight container. Of course, the size of Pavlova have to be reduced accordingly for it to store in the container. It can also be made into a one bite size.

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If you are health conscious, you can substitute the whipped cream to low fat whipped cream and slightly reduce the amount of icing sugar used. Remember whipped cream and fruit toppings shall only be used prior to serving as the whipped cream and fruit juices will make the meringue soggy if not consume on time.

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

newmarvelousmondays-button 9VwhltV

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Agar Agar is not the same as Agak Agak… Agar Agar is Red Algae !!

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INTRODUCTION

Agar Agar is a Malay word for red algae, apparently it has been accepted as an English word. It is hard for a lay man like me to explain agar agar, so  as usual, I will quote Wikipedia’s explanation of agar agar for reader’s understanding.

Per Wikipedia:

“The word “agar” comes from agar-agar, the Malay name for red algae (Gigartina, Gracilaria) from which the jelly is produced. It is also known as kanten, China grass, Japanese isinglass, Ceylon moss or Jaffna moss. 

Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart. White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or in powdered form. It can be used to make jellies, puddings, and custards. For making jelly, it is boiled in water until the solids dissolve. Sweetener, flavouring, colouring, fruit or vegetables are then added and the liquid is poured into moulds to be served as desserts and vegetable aspics, or incorporated with other desserts, such as a jelly layer in a cake. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar)

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Agar agar is one type of traditional dessert commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia. It is easy to prepare and is a common item being served during Chinese New Year and other festivals. To make it requires no complicated kitchen utensils, just need to boil and mould. Traditionally, households used dried agar agar as shown in this illustration as the raw ingredient. However, in recent years, most households have started to use agar agar powder instead of dried agar agar.

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Traditionally, due to the lack of weighing scales, sophisticated kitchen utensils and written recipes, housewives usually prepare agar agar based on words of mouth using common kitchen items such as cups as the unit of measurement.

I was told that previously, the recipe is 1 cup of soaked agar agar will requires 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. I liked this type of simple ratio recipe, however, when I tried out, it just turned out to be extremely sweet and tough.

Well, that type of recipe may not be acceptable nowadays since we have so many resources available. In olden days, the challenge to make a good agar agar is to get hold of the correct ratio of water to agar agar. The end product shall be slightly chewy and not to soft like the current jelly. In order to achieve such texture, housewives some times dried their agar agar under the sun. They believed that the less water content in the agar agar, the better it is. In fact, some house hold cut it into one bite size, dried it under the sun until it is very chewy, store in a container and eat it as a snacks or sweets!

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In recent years. preparation of agar agar is not entirely based on texture since all ingredients can be measure rather accurately. It is rather easy but the challenge had shifted to the colour combination and moulding. If you have the relevant mould, you can create your own design based on your creativities. One of the most trendy agar agar moulding will be agar agar moon cake where the agar agar were mould into a moon cake shape. Inside the agar agar moon cake, there is a yellow colour balls resembling the egg yolk.

Again that is deal with planning, making and moulding. It can be rather stressful if there are no prior planning on the colour selection and mould selection. Of course, it can be as simple as just a single colour one flat piece of agar agar. The taste will definitely be the same but of course it is less impressive to your guest.

This illustration will only provide you with the simplest layered agar agar procedures. You can chose your own colour and shape of your mould. I have use some heart shape mould and the colour is purely selected for this illustration only. At home, we will not go until this extent and usually have one to two colours plus 2-3 layers of agar agars.

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NATURAL COLOUR SELECTION

There are a lot of natural colour available and you can totally throw away the artificial colouring, if you wish. Suggested colours are:

  • White and milky – condense milk, coconut milk, fresh milk
  • Chocolate – instant coffee paste, chocolate  paste or powder
  • Red colour – red colour dragon fruits paste
  • Yellow – mango paste
  • Green – pandanus paste
  • Violet or blue – pea flowers
  • Purple –black currant drink
  • Red – strawberry paste
  • Dots in the agar agar –  dragon fruits

Besides the above colours, many varieties of cut fruits can also be included. For example, yam cubes with coconut milk is a good combination. Coffee with milk is another welcoming combination to make into agar agar. Canned Longan or lychee with black currant flavoured agar agar is also a presentable dessert. All this is very much depend on reader’s creativities to prepare one that is acceptable to the guest or family members.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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I have intentionally left out the quantities as it is best that you follow the instruction on the the package of agar agar that you bought. Be it dried agar agar strips as shown above or agar agar powders, they will have detail instructions on the quantity of water required. It is best that you follow these instruction as every brands of agar agar will requires different liquid to reach the desired textures.

  • 1 package of agar agar strip (about 38g)
  • Some water (refer package)

  • Some sugar (refer package)

  • Some permitted food colouring of your choice or the type of natural colouring ingredients as mentioned above.

  • Some moulds of your preference

  • Few leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the dried agar agar by soaking in clean water for 1-2 minutes.

  • In a pot, put in the water as stated in the package and add dried agar agar. Use medium heat to bring the water to boil. Continue stirring until all the agar agar are dissolved.

  • Add in the required sugar into the agar agar solution and stirred until dissolve. Turn the heat to the minimal. You just need the heat to prevent the agar agar from solidifying while you do the layering. Alternatively, you can put your agar agar in a big basin of hot water.

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  • Take out some container of your choice, add in your preferred colouring and  pour into the mould.

  • Once done, put it in the freezer or chiller or under the fan and once it is set on the top, you can pour the second layer. How long will it take will depends on your room temperature, the concentration of your agar agar and the types of you container. For my today’s illustration, it is rather fast because the container is very small and my agar agar is quite concentrated.

  • Repeat the same for different layers until all the agar agar were used up.

  • Put in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from the mould, cut into your desired size and shape and put in your preferred serving plate.
  • Best served cold as a dessert.

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CONCLUSIONS

This is extremely simple. It is best that you based on what is stated in the package label to prepare the agar agar. Different brands will have different instructions.

Though this illustration is using traditional dried agar agar, you can use agar agar powder instead. The price for both dried agar agar and agar agar powder is rather economical and in my humble opinion, it is still a good choice of snacks or desserts. Variations are many and you have full flexibility to choose your desired flavour, colour and moulding. You guest will surely be impressed by your creativities.

Try this traditional Asian dessert and I am sure you wouldn’t regret preparing it. Hope you like the post today. Have a nice day and cheers.

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You Stingy Old Man, You Ruined My Mexican Coffee Buns–Polo Buns and Mexican Coffee Buns

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INTRODUCTION

Please scroll down for the updated posts

Guaishushu is seriously regretting for his “creativities” and “stinginess”. He made a batch of Polo buns and Mexican Coffee Buns. However, as the final proofing of his bun is less than his desired diameter, he was left with some coffee pastry dough. Instead of throwing it away, half way when he baked the buns, he just took out the buns and pumped in the left over coffee pastry dough thinking it will melt and become a coffee buns with double dose of crusty coffee toppings… And the end, he found that instead of making it more beautiful, he made a bunch of ugly buns… Well, he still decided to share the recipe here as readers can just follow the recipe and get some good quality buns…… Don’t be misled by Guaishushu’s pictures.

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POLO BUNS AND MEXICAN COFFEE BUNS

Polo bun or pineapple bun is a type of soft, sweet bun commonly found in Asia. The word “Polo” in Mandarin literally translated to pineapple. In another word, it is supposed to be a soft bun that have skin that resembles the skin of pineapples. Usually what is being sold in the market is with fillings such as barbecue pork. However, as I am on a vegetarian diet, I have opted to make it into a plain bun for breakfast. The buns were wrapped with a soft cookie liked dough on top of the buns, when it proved for the second time, the plain dough will start to make the soft cookie liked dough to break and those resembling the skin of a pineapple. Some have used a knife to cut into a pattern of a pineapple skin.

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Mexican coffee buns is popularized by Rotiboy in Malaysia and it is a type of sweet bun with coffee flavoured crusty toppings. Usually, inside the buns, there is  a slice of butter which will melt when the buns are baked. Therefore the buns is full of buttery flavour.

THIS IS DEFINTELY A WORKABLE RECIPE AND IF YOU LOOK AT MY WORK IN PROGRESS PICTURES, YOU WILL SEE THE IT IS OKAY UNTIL THE VERY LAST MOMENT WHEN GUAISHUSHU IS GREEDY TO ADD ADDITIONAL COFFEE TOPPINGS.

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This post is a rather long post and have the following sections

Section A: Preparing the Buns

Section B: Preparing the Polo Buns Crusty Toppings

Section C: Preparing the Mexico Buns Crusty Toppings

Section D: Preparing Polo Buns for Baking

Section E: Preparing the Mexico Buns for Baking


SECTION A: PREPARING OF BUNS

What is required

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  • 500 g bread flour

  • 100 g castor sugar

  • Yeast one packet (about 11 grams)

  • 30 grams of butter (at room temperature)

  • Pinches of salt

  • 50 grams eggs (about 1 egg)

  • 240 grams of water


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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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).

  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s temperature.

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SECTION B: PREPARING THE POLO BUNS CRUSTY TOPPINGS

What is required

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  • 75 grams butter, melted

  • 110 grams of bread flour self raising flour, sifted

  • 50 grams of icing sugar, sifted

  • 25  40 grams of eggs, lightly beaten

  • 30 grams of milk powder
  • One egg yolk for egg washing
  • Some sugar for sprinkling


Steps of preparation

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  • Melt the butter in an microwave oven for 1 minute.

  • Add in beaten eggs, sifted icing sugar, milk powder and sifted bread flours self raising flour. Mixed well until it form a soft dough.

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  • Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

  • Shape in round shape and set aside for later use.


Section C: Preparing the Mexico Buns Crusty Toppings

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What is required

  • 100 grams of butter, melted

  • 100 grams of flour, sifted

  • 80 grams of icing sugar, sifted

  • 50 grams of eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water.

  • 8 pieces of 1 cm x 3cm x 0.2 cm cold cut butter (sizes is just for reference and you can just cut the butter in a small piece) – for usage in Section E. Store the butter in the fridge.


Steps of preparation

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  • Melt the butter in an microwave oven for 1 minute.

  • Add in beaten eggs, sifted icing sugar, instant coffee paste and sifted bread flours. Mixed well until it form a soft sticky dough and set aside.

Note that in the above illustration pictures, I only add in the instant coffee paste at a later stage.


SECTION D: PREPARING POLO BUNS FOR BAKING

* For newer detail instruction of preparing it from frozen dough, please scroll towards the end for the updated post

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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 2 portions. Set aside one portion for Mexico Coffee Buns in Section E.

  • Divide the dough equally into 8 portions and shape it into a round ball.

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  • Use a roller to flatten the “cookie liked dough” as prepared in Section B.

  • Use a brush to lightly brush some water on the plain dough so that it is easier for the cookie dough to cling on the plain dough.

  • Wrap around the plain dough and let it prove until double in size.

  • As the dough proves, you will see the cookies dough started to break. If you find you cookies dough have the tendency to drop from plain dough, spray or brush with additional water to let them stick together.

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  • When double in size, baked in the oven at 190 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

* For newer detail instruction of preparing it from frozen dough, please scroll towards the end for the updated post

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SECTION E: PREPARING MEXICO COFFEE BUNS FOR BAKING

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  • Lightly knead the other half of the dough as mentioned in Section D.

  • Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape into a sound ball.

  • Use a roller to roll the ball into a flat dough, place a piece of cold butter on top of the dough. Use the dough to wrap a butter and make it into a round ball.

  • Put it in the baking tray and proved until double in size.

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  • Put the coffee soft dough into a piping bag. Cut a small hole in the bottom.

  • Pipe the coffee soft dough on top of the proved buns in the pattern as in the above images.

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  • After finished piping, bake in the oven for 190 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

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CONCLUSIONS

In this post, I have shared two types of common sweet buns. If you have some baking basics, it is definitely not a difficult bun to prepare. The crispy toppings of both buns are rather similar except the proportion of each ingredient is different. These toppings can actually be prepared in advance to shorten the preparation time. Remember that you can always wrapped barbecue pork in the Polo buns and you can refer Guaishushu’s Facebook Page post P1 – Roast Meat Bun (烧肉餐包).

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Sincerely, honestly, faithfully hope you like the post today and don’t get discourage by the ugly pictures today. Guaishushu’s promise to be less stingy (at least for photo taking purposes, ha-ha) in my coming illustrations..

Have a nice day and cheers….

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UPDATED ON 2 AUGUST 2014


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I have prepared some Mexican Buns on today and I have decided to take some picture and update the post.

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As the above dough recipes uses tangzhong is rather time consuming, I have decided to use another faster dough as in my Blueberry Sweet Bread. It is definitely a faster and easier straight dough method that yields a fluffier bread.. As for the toppings, it is the same as the recipe above.

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UPDATED POST ON 12 SEPTEMBER 2014

With the frozen dough that I have in the fridge, I have decided to prepare some polo buns for the breakfast.

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There are some changes to the recipe as indicated in “red” as above as I found that this recipe for the topping is better. In addition, I have used another way of preparing the buns.

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degree Celsius.

  • Weigh the  topping and divide into 10 equal balls. Take one topping, shape it like a ball, place a dough ball on top of the crust ball, wrap the topping around the dough ball. Use a knife to cut some lines on on top of the toppings.

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  • Let the dough proof until double in size, egg wash with the egg yolk followed by sprinkling some sugar on top of the crust. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or when the breads turn golden brown.

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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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One, Two, Three…….Let’s Start Making Traditional Short Bread Biscuits (英式传统牛油饼干)

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INTRODUCTION

I have mentioned before that my family members like buttery biscuits or cakes. Butter cake without any flavour will definitely top my list of cakes whereas short bread will be my preferred choice of biscuits. Short bread is crumbly in textures and full of buttery aroma and it is addictive as long as I started the first bite.

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When I was searching for short crust pastry for my “short crust pastry moon cake” post, I remember wrongly and instead I searched for short bread. When I read the definition of Wikipedia, it immediately caught my attention.

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Per Wikipedia, it was written that

Shortbread is a type of biscuit (“cookie” in American English) which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour (by weight). The use of plain white (wheat) flour is common today, and other ingredients like ground rice or corn flour are sometimes added to alter the texture. Also, modern recipes often deviate from the pure three ingredients by splitting the sugar portion into equal parts granulated sugar and powdered sugar and many further add a portion of salt. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortbread)

I was amazed by the simple ratio of one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts of flour. I did not look around for any further recipe and based on these three figures, I prepared my traditional style short bread.

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This is my first attempt and I am generally happy with the results though the shaping still needs improvement. I may try out other recipes in the net and compared the actual differences and what other special ingredients that were added to alter the texture.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 50 g of icing sugar

  • 100 g of butter

  • 150 g of plain flour

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

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STEPS OF PREAPRATION

Preparation

  • Preheat your oven to 180  165 degree Celsius.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place cut butters, vanilla essence, icing sugar, plain flours. Mix and knead until it form a dough.

  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a flat sheet of about 1 cm thick.

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  • Shape it into a rectangular shape and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 1 cm x 4 cm sizes

  • Transfer to the baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. Place the short breads with adequate space to expand.

  • Use a fork or something sharp to make some holes on top of the short breads.

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  • Baked in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the colour start to turn golden yellow.

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Additional notes

You can chill the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes before your baking starts. This will help to fix the shape of short bread! This illustration did not include the chilling. Due to the hot temperature in Singapore, The butter melts rather easily therefore chilling will hep to keep the biscuit in shape when you send for baking.

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CONCLUSION

A very short and straight forward post. I like this for its simple easy to remember recipe. This recipe is simply based on the traditional ratio of 1 sugar, 2 butter and 3 flour without additions of texture altering ingredients. The taste and texture is awesome except the shape is not as regular as what we bought from the stores.  It will be an ideal gift for your friends during festive occasions such as Christmas.

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Overall, I am still very pleased with this adventure. It is so simple yet we pay so much for these biscuits in the supermarkets.

Try and you will know how easy it is. Hope you like the post today and have a nice day ahead. Cheers.


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Second batch of short bread made for the celebration of Teacher’s day 2013.

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Updated on 8 – January 2014

Baking this special batch of rose decorated shortbread biscuits. Recipe is the same except I cut it in difference shape and dust it with dried rose petals.

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This recipe was included in Page 18 and Page 19 of the following E-book. 

For more Chinese New Year related cookies, snack and steamed cake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy Chinese New Year Recipes – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD3.50. The recipes covered various recipes from auspicious radish cake to nian gao to traditional kuih bangkit to trendy London almond cookies. Of course not forgetting both type of pineapple tarts. You can purchase by clicking the link above. You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Can I Have A Moon Cake That Is Not Round? Hmmm.. Try Short Crust Pastry Moon Cake

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Chinese Mooncake Festival or Mid Autumn Festival is arriving soon on 19-9-2013 (or Chinese Lunar Calendar August 15) and I think most bloggers will blog about moon cakes. There are many many moon cake recipes in the internet and there is no way for me to blog something that I am rather unfamiliar due to my poor shaping skills of moon cakes .

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This year I have a few attempts to shape the moon cake but not really successful. It cracked terribly and I have told members in my Facebook Group“Food Bloggers and Foodies United” that I am not going to issue a post on moon cake I totally do not have any confidence to share with readers about the making of moon cakes.

The next day after I issued the post, one of my relatives gave us a pack of moon cake from Kluang, Johor Malaysia. In the box, it was written clearly Shanghai Moon Cake, and what shocked me is that the shape is elongated and some called it a mouse shape.

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Sorry for my limited knowledge, I never seen Shanghai moon cake in this shape. I posted in my timeline and asked my friends what is that. Surprisingly a number of friends from Southern Peninsular Malaysia knew about this shop and ever tasted this special moon cake before.

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The next day, I cut it and ate a slice, I felt that the taste was very familiar. It resembles the short crust biscuits with the normal moon cake fillings. Therefore, I told my friends that I wanted to pursue another baking adventure based on what I tasted and I wanted to try to “reproduce” the moon cake that I received.

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That morning, there is no body in my house except myself. I just simply pick a short crust pastry recipe and start my adventures. Actually, the short crust pastry resembles the pineapples tart pastry. However, in this illustration, I made a mistake by including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the dough. I shouldn’t need to include this as the fillings will expand when heated and the baking soda make the crack bigger that I do not want to see.

Putting that aside,  I would say that this pastry, or pardon me formally called it “SHORT CRUST PASTRY MOONCAKE” , is definitely worth trying. The soft filling blends extremely well with the melt in the mouth pastry wrapping it. Unlike other moon cake,  it is buttery in flavour and that make me wanted to share with readers this “funny” pastry aims at those who are adventurous to try out new ideas.

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But I have to highlight that, it is just like any pastry, it can’t keep for long. It is best to consume it within two to three days of making it. The wet fillings will make the short crust slightly soggy if you do not consume on time. Well, that is my frankest opinion and I do hope that readers have some confidences on me by baking this short crust pastry moon cake and share with me if it is up to your expectations.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 80 grams of salted butter, cut into cubes and keep in fridge waiting for later use.

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

  • 400 grams of self raising flour (sifted)

  • 80 grams of sugar powder

  • 600 grams of moon cake fillings of your choice (in this illustration, I have used both the green tea paste and red bean paste).

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Pre Preparation

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree.

  • Get ready a baking tray with a piece of baking sheet.

  • Divide the moon cake fillings into 3 portions and roll it into an cylindrical shape of about 6 inches long.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put in your sifted self raising flour, sugar powder. Add the butter cubes from the fridge. Use finger tips to lightly rub the butter until butter and flour are well mixed resembling crumbs. Rubbing should be light and fast. This resembles the preparation of scones and your can refer HERE.

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  • Make a whole in the centre put in the beaten eggs.

  • Use a fork or a knife to slightly mix the batter. Once the eggs and the flour have form a dough, transfer the dough to a table and knead for 1-2 minutes to ensure it is well mixed.

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  • Divide the dough into 3 portions. In my illustration, my dough weighed about 220 grams per portion.

  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough in a floured surface into rectangular shape of about 10 inches x 5 inches.

  • Place your moon cake filling on top of the pastry, close the longer ends and roll follow the shape of the fillings.

  • Close the other two ends and ensure the edges are closed.

  • You can reshape to any shape that you want. However, I have opted to use the shape as shown above. Alternative shape is round shape. However, round shape is difficult for serving. So I opted for the oblong shape.

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  • Place the dough in the baking tray. Use a sharp knife to lightly cut lines on top of the dough.

  • Have the first egg wash and send to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

  • After 15 minutes, take out and have a second egg wash. Baked for another minutes 10 and the moon cake is done.

  • For egg wash, hand beaten 1 egg yolks and add 2 big table spoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift and put in a container. Use a brush to lightly brush the dough.

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CONCLUSION

This is another way of serving the moon cake though traditionally, moon cake must be round resemble the moon. Whether this can be called moon cake or other name is up the discretion of the readers.

This moon cake was prepared using short crust pastries and the buttery taste of the pastry is totally different from traditional moon cake but it blends well with the traditional moon cake fillings. It is good to be served as a tea time snack item.

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I hope you enjoy my baking adventures for making this special shape moon cake inspired from the famous Kluang moon cake shop in Malaysia.

This recipe was included in Page 15-17 of the “Easy Mooncake Recipes E-book”. For more mooncake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy mooncake recipes  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 20 recipes, 45 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD4.00. The recipes covered various recipes from durian mooncake, traditional baked mooncake and also the less common Teochew mooncake . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Hope you like the post today and do join me in the baking adventures. Bake one for yourself and tell me if it suits your taste buds. Have a nice day and cheers


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