Let Try Something New–Red Dragon Fruits Pie Bar And Blueberry Pie Bar

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UPDATED POST ON 5-12-2014

Saw some blueberry in the supermarket and I have decided to update this post with some new pictures. Decided to prepare blueberry pie pars.. I have always loved pie bars especially its crumbly top.. Unlike normal pie, pie bars have more short crust pastry than its fillings. If you like short crust pastry of any sort, you shall try this..No major changes in the recipe, just torn down the sugar content to suit Asian taste buds..Changes are highlighted in red.

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INTRODUCTION

I have been challenged that most of my recipes that I have written are very “colourful”. If you think that I like permitted food colouring, that is not entirely true. You may have seen a few post that uses food colouring, but that essentially was because I am doing it more for illustration and picture taking purposes. If you read my post on Rainbow Loaf, you will understand how I justified the usage of permitted food colouring and struggling whether such a post should be issued. While I don’t encourage the use of food colouring, but we have to be realistic in our daily lives. I strongly believed the usage of permitted food colouring are all over the food outlets. What about Angkukueh? Do you think all mango puddings are consistently as yellow as what you saw every time your bought it? How about various type of tapioca pearls, milk teas, pasta sauces or even moon cakes? Well that is up to individual and I tend to choose to believe that NOT all the green colour in the Pandan Kaya or Kueh Srimuka/Salat that are sold in eating outlets  are all from the Pandanus leaves….

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This post is  using a natural colour. A colour that I am very hesitant to touch. I even hate it when it stained my cloth! It is one of the very strong natural colour – Purplish Red dragon fruits. There is an influx of purplish red dragon fruits in Singapore supermarkets in current year. Though I do not really like to touch the colour by itself, but I do believed it will help to create a visual effect in pastry’s presentation.

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In last week’s marketing, these dragon fruits were on sale and I managed to get 2 big red dragon fruits for S$2.50.. I think that it is a deal and I think I should made use of its natural colour to make some pastries. Then it reminded me of some blueberries pie bar that I read while browsing the internet. therefore, I have decided to use these dragon fruits to prepare some dragon fruits pie bars..

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Pie bar is a type of short crust pastry usually loaded with seasonal fruits and served as desserts. Fruits that are usually used include strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

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Pie Pastry for crust and toppings

  • 400 grams of plain flour

  • 330 grams of butter (cold and cut into cubes)

  • 300200) grams of sugar

  • Pinches of salt

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Dragon Fruit Fillings

  • 4 eggs (about 200 grams)

  • 400 (250 ) grams of sugar

  • 100 grams of plain flour

  • 150 grams of sour cream or whipped cream

  • Pinches of salt

  • 200 grams of dragon fruit (meshed) or mashed blueberries

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Meshing Of Dragon Fruits

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  • Use some kitchen utensils or sharp objects such as forks or knifes or potatoes mashers to mesh the dragon fruits.

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Preparing the short crust pastry

  • Get ready a baking tray of 12” x 15” baking tray.

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius

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  • In the big mixing bowl, put cold cut butter, flour and sugar. Use finger tips to rub the butter and flours mixtures together until resemble some crumbs.

  • Divide the crumbs into two portion, one for the bottom layer and another portion for the toppings.

  • Press half of the pastry against the bottoms of the baking tray. Use a fork to make a few holes in the pastry and set aside for later use. 

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Preparing the fillings

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  • In another mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and cream together. Add flour and followed by mesh dragon fruits and mixed well.


Assembling And Baking The Pastry

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  • Pour the dragon fruits fillings on top of the pastry. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the fillings.

  • Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.

  • Cool at least one hour before cutting your desired sizes.

  • Best served with some whipped creams, ice creams, additional fresh fruits or on its own.

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CONCLUSION

  • It is a dessert that is not that tough to prepare. I believed it is still relatively uncommon in Singapore and Malaysia. For a person with sweet tooth like me, I definitely wouldn’t object such a treat. The crispy and crunchy toppings resembles a bit of the biscuits with some mild fruity flavour of the red dragon fruits.

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  • I have hold up this post for one day as I am unsure about the colour combination and the acceptability of this desserts in this area of the world. When I posted up to one international communities in Google Plus, I was being encourage to proceed with the post as the pie bars looks appetizing.. Thanks to those members who have encouraged me to have this post.

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  • I have quite a number of posts in the past one month, this is due to the assistance from my mother in law who is visiting me and able to help me to “nag” my kids performs some household chores. In addition, Singapore was having a school holiday last week.  In the next few days, as my mother in law will be back to her home town, I will have to slow down my posting as I need my energies to nag and cooked for normal household meals. She has been a great helper in the house and I really appreciate and thankful for her presence and I know I am going to miss her like her grandsons and grand daughters…

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

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 26 November 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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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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One Number Baking Ratio Adventure (6)– Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Muffins

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UPDATED POST ON OCTOBER 1 2014

As I have some peanut butter sitting in my fridge for ages, I have decided to prepare some Peanut Butter muffins . There are no changes to recipe except :

  • Use peanut butter weight as a starting point which is about 156 grams and all my ingredients used to be about 156 grams for eggs, flour, sugar .
  • Did not add the caramelized chocolate chips

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ORIGINAL POSTS


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My kids made these muffins with my help. I just helped them to get some ingredients that they did not where it was stored.

I did not even look at the measurements that they took as I was busy of taking pictures of their participation. Why this was possible of course was because of the easy recipe. The recipe that followed the one number baking ratios now extending to muffins. There were many post that uses one number baking ratios in my baking and in the post “ dates fruit cakes , you can see all my references of cakes made using one number baking ratio in that post.

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After my kids revised their home work today, they were bored and I thought I might as well asked them to make the muffins since it was really easy to  prepare. In fact they were so happy when I told them that I need their participation after revising their home work. My girl who liked to procrastinate suddenly finished her homework very quickly. Initially, it was not my plan to get the boy involved, however, when the boy saw her sister enjoyed herself measuring the ingredients, he insisted that he wanted to join in ‘the game” also. I therefore concurred to let him joined in the “game”

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I did not look at any recipe for this muffin. The principle of using one number baking ratio is that it should be applicable for all cakes.  As I want it to be a bit dense, I have opted not to cream the butter and egg separation method (using these two methods will definitely end up to be a cup cake). In addition, as I have been quite tiring of washing all the utensils these few days, I chose not to use an mechanical egg beater. At the end, I have used a mixed and baked method to prepare the muffins.

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In addition, I have substituted butter with peanut butter and most important of all, I have used eggs as the starting weight of making these muffins. This will save sometime for the calculation of milk.

These muffins started with 2 eggs that weighed 117 g, therefore, that follows will be peanut butter 117g, sugar 117g, flour 117g and milk 117 g. With these measurements, I am sure any body without much baking experience will be able to prepare this. Easy to remember ratio with easy preparation methods.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 2 whole eggs

  • Peanut Butter – same weight as eggs – melted and set aside

  • Sugar – Same weight as eggs

  • Milk – same weight as eggs

  • Self raising flours – same weight as eggs

  • Caramelized  chocolate chips – half the weight of eggs

  • Mozzarella cheeses – half the weight of eggs  (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Pre heat oven to 180 degree Celsius

  • Get ready5-6 muffin cups.

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  • Melt the peanut butter in a microwave oven for 1 minute.
  • Transfer to a big mixing bowl, add eggs and sugar and use a hand whisk to whisk until combined.

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  • Add in sifted flour and milks (alternately) until all flours and milk are added.
  • Add in caramelized chocolate chips and mozzarella cheeses.

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  • Mix well and transfer to the muffin cups.

  • Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 20-25 minutes or when a skewer inserted comes out clean.

You may have noted that I have sprinkled additional cheeses and caramelized chocolate chips. However, that was not advisable because this batter is rather wet, the additional weighs will push down the muffins causing it to drip sideway. Therefore, I will advise readers to by pass this step. Just to let you have a look, this is the “elephant muffins” made by my kids. All the 5 muffins we made have these “elephant trunks” due to the addition of chocolate chips and mozzarella cheeses. Ha-ha.

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CONCLUSION

Is it not this muffin is so easy to prepare especially with one number baking ratio. If my kids can made this, who else could possibly not able to prepare this?

Hope you try it and have a nice day! 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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Microwaved Mug Cakes, Another Quick Alternative to Baked and Steamed Cakes…

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Updated Post on 16-10-2014

Last night, wife was asking what is for breakfast today? I told her I do not know and worst came to the worst, some biscuits.. Ha-ha. This morning, while I was cracking  my head what to prepare  muffins and scones that are fast and easy… It suddenly come across my mind to prepare some microwave butter cakes. It is very easy and moist and it took me about 15 minutes to prepare a 2 eggs cake- 10 minutes preparation and 5 minutes microwaving… I save my electricity, dishing, energy and time…

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The texture of microwave cake is always very moist and like the preparation of muffins, I gather the wet ingredients and dry ingredients, stir until well mixed and microwave…Happy trying.

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INTRODUCTION

This is another post in my simple pastry making series, a cup cake or mug, a cake baked in a cup. It is baked in a cup or a mug cake in the microwave oven. It is fast, utilizing about 5 minutes. No electrical beaters, just mix using your choice of utensils and you will be able to get a cake like above. Scale down all the ingredients, putting in a microwavable cup, you can even prepare one for your kids breakfast. This post will share with you a one man breakfast chocolate cake, a coffee log cake and a cheesy buttery log cake.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

Chocolate Cake
(1 man serving)
Coffee Log Cake
(6 inches log)
Cheesy Butter Cake
(6 inches log)
Container 1 microwavable cup of about 250 ml 1 microwavable cup of 600 ml 1 microwavable cup of 600 ml
Sugar 2 tbsp 80 g 80 g
Butter (melted) 2 tbsp 80 g 80 g
Cream cheese (room temperature) 80 g
Fresh milk 2-3 tbsp 80 g 120 g
Coffee liquid 80 g
Eggs 1 egg 80 g 80 g
Self raising flours 2 tbsp 160 g 160 g
Cocoa powder 2 tbsp
Sodium Bicarbonate (optional) 1/2 tsp 1/2 tsp
Microwavable time 3 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes

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STEPS OF PREPARTION

The steps of preparation is the same be it for a small cup or a 3 inches diameter cup. The illustration below is for a small cup one man personal chocolate cake.

Chocolate cake (serving for one)

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  • In a 250ml microwavable cup (one normal coffee cup), put sugar, self raising flour and slightly stir it until well mixed.
  • Add fresh milk, melted butters and eggs and use a spoon stir it until well mixed or when colour is even and there are no lumps.
  • This step is rather important and make sure any flour stick in the bottom will be scraped up and mixed and there are no air in the mixture. Lightly tap your cup in the table to see if there is any air trapped in the mixture.

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  • Place your cup in the microwave oven and heat it for 3 minutes under high power.
  • You will start to see the cake start to rise after 1 1/2 minutes and by the sides will start to contract. If your cup is smaller, you may see the batter started to rise even higher and possibly 1-2 cm above the cup level. That is ok since the cooked batter (now becoming cakes) are able to withstand the weight any uncooked batter that subsequently rise to the top.
  • Wait for 1-2 minutes before you take it out from the cup. Theoretically, it should not stick to  the sides or bottom of the cup if your batter are mixed thoroughly with no lumps of unmixed flour.
  • Be careful when you handle the cakes as it can be quite hot especially the inside of the cake.
  • If you can’t finish your cake and on your next serving, just heat up your cakes for 10-15 seconds and your cake will become soft again.

For the coffee log cake and cheesy butter cake, the steps of preparation is the same except the measurements as mentioned above and the incorporation of cheese in the above batter. The follow steps will apply for both cakes.

Coffee Log Cakes and Cheesy Butter Cakes

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  • In a 600ml microwavable cup, put sugar, sifted self raising flour, sodium bicarbonate and slightly stir it until well mixed. You can also melt the butter in the microwave using the same cup for about 1 minute.
  • For coffee log cake, have 80 g of hot water and add 2-3 table spoons of instant coffee powder until it is fully dissolved. You can also use hot milk instead. Add melted butters, coffee liquids, butters and eggs and use a spoon to sir it until well mixed or when colour is even and there are no more lumps. This is the batter of coffee log cake.
  • For cheesy butter cake, after you melted the butter, put the cream cheese into the hot melted butter and stir until almost well mixed. Add fresh milks and eggs and use a spoon to stir it until well mixed or when colour is even and there are no more lumps. This the batter mixture of the cheesy butter cake.
  • Again, this step is rather important and make sure to scrap any flours on the sides and bottom of the microwavable cup, mixed and ensure that there are no air in the mixture. Lightly tap your cup on the table to see if there is any air trapped in the mixture.

 

  • Place your cup in the microwave oven and heat it for 5 minutes under high power.
  • You will start to see the cake start to rise after 3 minutes and by the sides will start to contract. If your cup is smaller, you may see the batter started to rise even higher and possibly a few cm above the cup level (as in the picture). That is ok since the cooked batter (now becoming cakes) are able to withstand the weight of any uncooked batter that subsequently rise to the top.
  • Wait for 1-2 minutes before you take it out from the cup. Theoretically, it should not stick to  the sides or bottom of the cup if your batter are mixed thoroughly with no lumps of unmixed flour.

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IMG_0400  Cheesy Butter Cake

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Serving suggestions

  • Best served when hot with glass of tea or coffee.
  • Reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds if necessary.
  • Add some cream cheese or fresh cream if desired.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This post introduced the use of microwave to prepare a cake, if you do not want be your cake in the cup or mug size, you can used other microwavable kitchen utensils of your liking.  Most microwaves nowadays have a detail function for each cooking methods, select baking functions if available. Otherwise, use the high power function.
  • The use of microwave in the “baking” of a cake have cut short its preparation time considerably. Making a cake within 5 minutes were unthinkable in the olden times. It is obviously a good alternative to the traditional baking and steaming of preparing a cake,
  • The texture of the cake is unique as it is soft and moist. That make the cake easy to cut into any sizes desired.
  • It is an good alternative as a traditional tea cake but offer advantages of quick and fast preparation as compared to traditional tea cakes.
  • There are many possibility of using this simple preparation methods to “invent” cakes that you want.. Try to explore, may be banana cakes, carrot cakes, blueberry muffins…… and the list is never ending. The point to note is that you can use the traditional recipes but the batter must be well mixed and make sure no air is trapped in your batter!

 

Lastly, take a cup and a spoon, walk towards the kitchen, put in 2 tbsp of flours, chocolate powder (milo/horlicks), sugar, melted butter (cooking oil acceptable), fresh milks and 1 egg, Stir well, put it in the microwave and tell me what it look like.

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day.

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

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