My son celebrated his 16th year old birthday on 20 October this year. This year seems just so normal. I usually plan way ahead what kind of cakes that I'd make, design it on my little note book, and usually its by layers. I asked him what cake do you want. He said cheese cake. Ok, he didn't specify what cheese cake. So, I was planning a black forest for the base, no bake cheese cake 2nd layer, chocolate mousse 3rd layer. So, its sounds delicious. This cake will probably take me 3 days to get it done.
On the weekend just before his birthday, I asked him again, just to make sure, that I'm baking something that he wants - what kind of cheese cake. He said New York Cheesecake and I almost fainted. I researched and found this recipe - http://lifemadesimplebakes.com/2014/08/perfect-new-york-cheesecake/. Seems pretty good. The ingredients that I bought, the way its to be done, totally way off from what I planned. So, I went to buy a few things:
1 pack of Graham biscuits (can't find graham, decided to use digestive biscuits)
4 packs of Philadelphia cheese
1 box of sour cream
Luckily I had vanilla essence, butter, sugar.
So, following the methodology I started the bake on Monday to complete everything on Tuesday. The base, then the cheesecake. Baking in the bath with low temperature was the key to an almost perfect cheesecake. Mine broke, but I let it cool slowly in the oven as per advised in the blog, and it all came together. I was going to cover up the cracks with whipped cream anyway.
After the 2nd day, it was assembly time. Whipped up cream, put on the top only, as I wanted the layers to be seen from the side. The day before, I also had words written out from chocolate, and cooled in the fridge. I have bad handwriting, so thought I'd just print out what I need to put on the cake, and use it as a stencil.
Finally, putting the cake together. To at least make it look a little more presentable, added cherries that was soaked in kirsch, boiled in cornflour to thicken the sauce.
This cake is very soft, creamy, not too heavy, not too sweet because I reduced the sugar, added lemon.
As there were some extra cream cheese and the graham biscuit, made into smaller ones, top it with some extra chocolates that I had, put into paper cups to be easily distributed.
My son said that this cake is not sweet enough, but his friend love it. Usually cake takes about more than a week to finish, this time, 2 days, and its gone. I'm totally satisfied with this bake, worth the time.
I tried this recipe last week and it was a total failure. I threw the whole bunch away after spending a whole day working on it.
I've decided that last week what went wrong was:
1. Instant Yeast was not working well.
2. Dough was too hard
3. I didn't let the dough rise properly
4. I added flour when shaping
5. Because it didn't rise properly, I had to boil for a long time, the whole thing was too hard
So, this week, I just had to try again. I cannot believe I can't get it right.
Here's the recipe.
1. Mix flour, yeast, salt and butter - using a mixer.
2. Mix water and starter, pour into dry ingredients. Knead well.
3. Let the dough rise. As its winter here, I had to let is rise for about 8 hours. It should rise nicely into a dome shape.
4. Pour out and divide. I didn't want my pretzel too big, cut into 16 pieces. About 78-90g each.
5. Do not add flour at this stage. Shape it round first, let rest for 5 mins.
6. Roll it length wise, like a pencil. Shaping it takes a bit of practice. Mine is still not perfect, but at least it took shape.
7. Put onto a tray with baking paper. Let it refrigerate over night. Winter here, I just left it at my yard, how convenient, and my fridge is not messed up.
8. After 9 hours, boil water, add baking soda 1 teaspoon at a time.
9. Drop the dough 1 at a time. It will sink to the bottom and get a little stuck. I used a scoop to shake it off. The dough will float after about 10 sec. If it doesn't float, something is wrong. Drop the 2nd one in and pick up the 1st one out. It will look a little yellowish, bubble on the surface, expand a little.
10. After all boiled, oven ready at 175C, not too high, and bake for 30-35 mins till reddish brown. You will see it slowly bloom, and you know you got it right!
Couple of things that I had to adjust:
1. I added starter. Because my starter is so active and bubbly I just had to use it. And I had more confident that the dough will rise nicely.
2. The original recipe called for only 300g of water. Somehow, it was so hard after the 1st mix. I just had to soften it by adding water.
3. It called for 80g of soda, I used a small pot, and I just just about 4 teaspoonful of baking soda. The last time, it smell quite bad with so much soda.
And here's my Pretzel Bun and Pretzel, I'm so happy that it turned out so well.
It was crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy inside. This is best when hot!
I have been busy baking, just not updating this site.
I have been baking several favorite recipes over and over again, and tweaking the recipes a little here and there.
One of them is using the Pizza recipe, and turning it into a roll. Brushing the top with a mix of olive oil, paprika, cayenne, dried herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary. This is one of the favorites for the kids! In no time, it's gobbled up.
Another variation using the Pizza dough is Focaccia. I learnt this from an Italian mama, its so easy and can be done within 4 hours, its done. Great as a party food. Using a rectangular pan, pour some olive oil, pan the dough using fingertips till it is all spread out. Brush with olive oil, throw some herbs such as rosemary or thyme, shake some salt over.
Another one that I like is the simple white loaf that I got the recipe from a Japanese web site, using Google translate, figured out what the recipe says. And, why must white loaf be in the shape of a loaf?
Another favorite is the Deli Rye Bread, love that it's soft, open crumb. So, why not mix a little with whole wheat, add herbs or nuts?
Why not turn it into a burger roll to make a burger? This burger is healthier, and certainly taste better!
I simply love experimenting, and try out new things. Perhaps it's time to focus on this.
I finally made Kueh Bangkit that tasted like how my mom made it. The strong taste of coconut melts in your mouth, not too sweet, but sweet enough from the coconut.
I've experimented before and those turned out to be hard, and you literally have to chew, and there's just not enough coconut taste. It's been difficult to find fresh coconut milk, and I've just resorted to using packet ones. Checked the ingredients, the highest % of coconut milk is 90%, and 10% water. And this cookie just don't like water at all.
I finally called mom, and her 2 advices were:
1. Stir fry tapioca flour till fluffy
2. If use coconut milk from packet, boil with pandan leave.
Alright, mom's advice are usually good, but it does requires some common sense to really fully appreciate what she is saying. Fluffy, what does that mean? Boil the coconut milk - for how long? Following these advice, looking at what other bakers did on the internet, and working through my own sense, feel, smell, whatever senses that I can use, here's what I did:
500g Tapioca Starch
2 Egg Yolks
1 Egg White
85ml Thick Coconut milk (and a little more) - used Kara Coconut Milk - Classic
10 pieces Pandan leave
1. Heat up pan in small fire, put 5 pieces of pandan leave (tied in knot)) and let fry for a few minutes till the fragrant of pandan is in the pan. I fry the pandan leave till dry. Add Tapioca Flour and fry. This took about 45 - 60 minutes. The Tapioca flour became much lighter, and easily fly out of the pan. So, be careful when stirring. Leave to cool. Book advised to leave cool up to 2-3 days. Mom said at least 1 day. I left it to cool for about 10 hours (it was cold in Shanghai, 5 degrees celsius in kitchen)
2. Next, heat up coconut milk (I used the full packet of 400 ml) with 5 pieces of pandan leave (tied in knot), and let boil. Boil for 30 minutes in slow fire. The milk should thicken. Stir well to prevent from sticking. Once you see that it is thick, trickles down slowly, that will do. It will become half about 200 ml. The smell of the coconut milk will also be strong, floods the kitchen. leave to cool. Discard the pandan leave after cooled.
3. Beat eggs together first till it turns whiter and lighter, add sugar and whip till foamy. It will also thicken. Using an electric whip, it took me about 20 minutes to get it foamy and thick.
4, Add 85 ml coconut milk to the eggs & sugar, whip till well mixed.
5. Sift the cooled tapioca starch to the mixture (keep a portion of the tapioca starch aside to cloud the biscuit cutter). Sieve the flour properly as there will be pandan leaves that might have broken off. Slowly stir and fold the mixture. Bring out and knead the dough.
6. The dough seems a little hard at first, add some coconut milk, 1 tsp at a time. and knead. what I did was to knead portion by portion of the dough, add coconut milk when needed if the dough is too dry.
7. Roll the dough at 0.3cm, use a biscuit cutter. ensure that you flour well before using. The dough easily breaks, so, handle with care, gently.
8. Place on lined baking tray, bake at 160 degrees celsius for 15 minutes. Put on the middle tray of oven.
9. Leave completely cool before removing from baking tray and store in air tight containers.
The learnings here is patience, let the tapioca flour cool completely. spend time to stir fry the tapioca flour.