Icing Room's DIY Yule Log : Decorate And Call It Yours!

Every festive season calls for its own unique festive foods, and that includes Christmas. When I think of Christmas, thoughts of big thanksgiving family feasts will be first to come to my mind and what feast, or even a meal, is complete without desserts? I love Christmas fruitcakes, gingerbread cookies and Yule log cakes. Essentially it might just be another swiss roll but being so intricately designed with love and effort, it never fails to makes one go 'wow'.

This Christmas, you're rushing to get the presents sorted out, the Christmas tree in the house lit up and the cookies out of the oven. Where's the time for a Yule log cake? Opps. Well, you no longer have to worry, for now you can have your very own Yule log cake, once you have decorated it! The Icing Room has recently launched their DIY Yule log cake offer this Christmas. At only $18.80 a set, you can choose either a chocolate or strawberry log cake base, fully frosted. You'll be provided with a couple of different coloured jellies and buttercream to pipe your designs and a few other decorative items such as the hearts in the photo above. 
I decided to walk the minimalist route and go for a simple and elegant design instead of flooding my log cake with an array of patterns and items. There's beauty in simplicity, right? And voila, now this is Nigel's Yule log cake.(: You can choose to decorate it on the spot or bring it home, just let the person at the counter know.

To pump up the festive spirit, The Icing Room has also created a 'BEST DIY Yule log' contest on their facebook page. Participants will stand to win attractive prizes such as an iPad mini and many more! So go down to any Icing Room outlets to get your own Yule log cakes and start decorating away now! You can find out more details at The Icing Room Facebook page. Do help vote for my creation if you fancy it, thank you!

Stand a chance to win $20 worth of The Icing Room vouchers when you “Like” The Icing Room Facebook Page and vote for my entry : Click Here

*Full Disclosure : All opinions, decorations and comments are solely mine only DIY Yule log set was sponsor by The Icing Room.

Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant : Hainanese Pork Chops and Chicken

Everybody longs for something hot and soupy on a cold and wet rainy day, it warms the soul. Just imagine it snowing outside and there you are by the fireplace, sipping away on a mug of hot chocolate. Ahhh... And when better to have a steamboat than on days turned cold and gloomy from the bitter rain outside? 

Go for a change from the fiery and spicy Thai food at 'Little Thailand' next door to a comforting pot of steamboat at ... However, one issue I must raise is the use of drastically watered down 'stock'. So much so that it tastes like plain water and only on cooking the ingredient will the 'stock' take on some flavor finally. This mustn't be one of the critique of a good steamboat isn't it? 
The steamboat comes in a set prepared beforehand and you get the option of a $39 set or a $49 I think. We chose the $39 set which I felt was a little bit on the high side considering the amount of ingredients given.
Besides their steamboat, they are famous for their Hainanese chicken rice and Hainanese pork chop too. Which we did order as well as satay. Their chicken was wonderfully tender and packed with flavour. We ended up dumping the chicken juices to flavour our steamboat stock, just a little tip here because it works haha.
I haven't tasted a lot of Hainanese pork chop but this one's very decent, maybe above average even. A pork cutlet, thick crust, deep fried to a crisp, and topped with thick tomato sauce with a few slices of onion and peas. Old school and traditional, checked. Very little has changed over time I must say and this is how I like my old school Hainanese pork chop.
The satay was alright, nothing to shout about but something for you to much on while waiting for your steamboat to get to a boil. 

This restaurant is crowded, and have almost taken over the entire floor. Be prepared to wait during meal times and don't expect AAA rating cleanliness but enjoy your old school dinner that seeks to warm your soul and stop the clock.
Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant
Golden Mile Tower
6001 Beach Road #B1-20
Tel:             +65 6298 5891      
Opening Hours
Weekdays 10am – 10pm

The Perfect Pound Cake : All You Need Is The Cake Bible

The secret to obtaining a great recipe? Knowing where to look for it. Personally, while selecting baking books to buy or borrow from the library, I look out for the James Beard award sign on the book or basically names that have a good rapport or raved about by many, ie. Doris Greenspan, Julia Child, Heston Blumenthal, etc.
This perfect pound cake comes from the highly recommended 'The Cake Bible' and it did not fail me indeed. It came out of the oven with a really nice split and smelling very buttery. Mmmm. 
I absolutely love the fine and tightly packed crumbs along with the most wonderful smell - butter. It reads in the description that its better than Sarah Lee's pound cake that we can get in the frozen section of our supermarkets and it's been a long time since I had a Sarah Lee's pound cake but I can tell you it really would be a worthy opponent!

Perfect Pound Cake
(Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
3 Tablespoons milk
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups sifted cake flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
13 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter an 8 inch by 4 by 2.5 inch loaf pan, or any six cup loaf or fluted tube pan.
Lightly whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl.
Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix on low speed for 30 seconds, until blended. Add the butter and half the egg mixture, and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. On medium speed, beat for one minute. This will aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down sides.
Add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds between each addition. Scrape down sides.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth surface with a spatula. Bake for 55-65 minutes (35-45 minutes if baking in a fluted tube pan), until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minuets before inverting onto a greased wire rack. If using a loaf pan, flip the cake over so the top is up.

Singapore Maps App : Find Your Direction

iPhone Screenshot 5
Feeling lost or want to know what's available nearby? Fear not, for now your worries are resolved with the newly launched street directory mobile app - Singapore Maps.
iPhone Screenshot 4
Almost everyone's holding on to a smart phone now and available in both iOS or android version, this app makes life very convenient for all of us indeed! I'm using the app personally and so I can vouch for its usefulness. You can find out about what's nearby you, whether us it petrol stations, food or more. And you can search for directions from a specific place to another specified locations too. Plus, you can now click on the bus stops on the map and it'll show you the bus arrival timings! Pretty cool multi-purpose app right? 
iPhone Screenshot 2
You can even download offline maps now! So try it now for yourself and life would be made easier. Download at : iPhone users or Android users 

Delicious Choux Pastry : Pipe Your Own Durian and Cream Fillings!

If you asked me what's the most exciting part about baking, I would most definitely tell you it's the transformation part that happens in the oven! You can't deny the fact that it's so cool to watch your batter taking shape - rising up, spreading out or in this case, puffing up - and slowly turning the light golden brown that tells us the final product is almost ready. So what was in my oven this time round? Cream puffs.
Choux pastry are pretty tiring to make if you're hand beating it but oh so satisfying once you finish mixing it, piping it and then watch it puff up like a giant marshmallow in the oven. Haha.

This recipe yielded a batch of crispy exterior and soft interior cream puffs that soften over time but the buttery fragrance lingered on. The best part about choux pastry? You can fill them with accordance to your preference. Pipe in some vanilla or chocolate cream if you would like to go down the traditional route or take a walk down the Asian lane and pamper yourself and whip up some Cat Mountain King durian pulp. Go 100% durian, if you're a durian aficionado like me but I never really understood the logic of mixing durian with cream to appeal to those who don't like durian. It only serves to deprive people of the full durian experience right?! 
These cream puffs truly are delicious with your favourite fillings piped in. I would test out pierre herme's recipe next time and the Japanese cream puff recipe that features a crispy cookie top.(:

Durian Puffs
(makes 12-15 puffs)
Choux Pastry
(Adapted from missus C's reverie who adapted from keiko ishida)
75g pastry flour or top flour (I used all purpose flour), sifted
75g water
50g fresh milk
50g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten, room temperature
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
drop of vanilla essence
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a saucepan, bring water, milk, butter, sugar and salt to boil on medium heat, then immediately remove from heat.
3. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour until combined and mixture comes together in a ball. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture leaves the side of the saucepan and a film forms at the bottom of the pan.
4. Cool it down a little. Add egg one at a time, stirring until the egg has fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next.
5. Test if the batter is ready by scooping it up with a wooden spoon. The batter should hang down and form a smooth triangular shape.
6. Pour batter into a pipping bag fitted with a 1 cm plain pipping tip. Pipe out 5 cm circles onto the line baking tray and gently smoothen out the peaks with a moistened finger. (A lazy way is to scoop it using a spoon instead of pipping)
7. Bake for about 20 mins at 200C, then reduce the heat to 180C and continue to bake for another 15-20 mins. To check if they puffs are ready, give it a tap. It should produce a hollow sound.
8. Once it’s ready, let it cool on a wire rack. Keep them in an air tight container to maintain freshness.

Chef Lin's All-Star Lemon Meringue Pie : Discover Your Love For Lemon Curd!

Sweet, tangy and creamy, there's something about lemon curd that gets to me. I love lemon curd, pour it into buttery tart shell and I'm yours. Okay, maybe not hahaha. I'm worth more than a lemon curd tart definitely but you get my point.

I never knew my love for lemon curd tarts and I would be swooning over it after tasting Chef Lin's at a baking lesson at ToTT, courtesy of ToTT. It's a pretty straightforward and simple recipe, and I ditto with Chef Lin that serving them in bite size portions, as seen in the photo, is indeed better because you get just the right amount of lemon curd. Good things does come in small packages eh?(: 
I tested out the recipe myself a couple of weeks later and the tart shell came out exactly the way I have tasted it - buttery and crumbly - just not as thin because I haven't got the hang of handling the pastry dough yet. I hope you would grow to love lemon curd tarts as much as I do after trying out the recipes! 

Chef Lin's All Star Lemon Meringue Pie
Tart Shell Dough
80g Icing Sugar
100g Cake Flour
100g Bread Flour             
80g Cold Butter, Diced
1 Whole Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Lemon Curd
100ml Lemon Juice
45g Sugar
200g Whole Egg
45g Sugar
7g Corn Flour
165g Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
Cream, as needed

100g Sugar
100g Egg White

1.       Prepare the workstation.
2.       Scale the ingredients.
3.       Prepare the Tart Shell Dough:
          - Mix icing sugar, cake flour, bread flour together.
          - Cut cold butter into the flour mixture.
          - Work the mixture between the palms to achieve a mealy texture.
          - Add egg and vanilla extract and mix until mixture becomes a ball.
4.       Cover with cling film and keep in chiller for minimum 20mins.
5.       Prepare lemon curd:
          - Mix together 45g sugar and corn flour before adding to eggs. Mix well.
          - Bring lemon juice and 45g sugar to boil.
          - Temper 1/3 of the lemon juice with the egg mixture.
          - Bring the mixture back to the pot and cook like a custard.
          - Mix in butter till fully combined.
          - Leave to cool down in chiller.
          - Add in cream just before assembling.
6.       Roll out the dough to desired thickness (2mm).
7.       Mould into tartlet mould.
8.       Bake in oven at 180⁰C until golden brown, about 20mins.
9.       Transfer to grill and cool completely.
10.     Fill with lemon curd and top with meringue.
11.     Serve immediately.

Thanks to ToTT for the opportunity to attend Chef Lin's class!

GlucosCare Tea (Giveaway) : Sugar Blocker Herbal Tea!

Not getting enough exercise yet finding it hard to resist carbohydrate laden meals? Now you can enjoy your meals minus the guilt with GlucosCare tea! 

This tea works efficiently to reduce sugar absorption, therefore your body doesn't get to store the excess sugar in your body, reducing weight gain. As most of us know, carbs is starch and our body converts it to simple sugars such as glucose to supply as with energy, simple and sound theory. Then comes the big question, because we have seen hundreds of advertisements on pills and products that promises weight loss yet don't deliver, does it truly work? Well this can be proven through a simple test. Simply take some sugar or a banana and taste some of it before consuming a few mouthful of the tea then return to taste the sugar and banana. You'll be amazed how much more bland it is to your tastebuds after consumption of the tea. So there's your proof.(: 
GlucosCare tea was initially designed for diabetic patients to help to regulate their blood sugar levels in addition to their medication but now health conscious citizens like you and me can make use of it too. So go on and try it today. 

To conclude this post, I have another giveaway for you all. Just email to marinex@wenken.com with the subject title "GlucosCare Tea~ Control your high sugar the natural way", stating your name and mailing address and you'll get a free sample! Only available for the 1st 100 responses; limited to 1 sample set per household. 

Thanks to GlucosCare for the sample received. *Product is sponsored but honest views and comments are mine.

America's Test Kitchen's Ultimate Banana Bread : I've found 'it'!

You're here for the ultimate banana bread recipe because you think I'm holding on to one. While I'm writing this post on the ultimate banana bread recipe because I found it. So let's get on with it, shall we? 

You might be skeptical when you first read the 'ULTIMATE' banana bread recipe and likewise I was to but after watching the video and trying out the recipe personally, I'm sold. Tasting the moist banana bread with the crunchy caramelized crust, I reassured you that this IS the perfect banana recipe. 
I have tried numerous banana bread recipe and somehow it doesn't compare to store bought one but this is the game changer. Be sure to use Malaysia bananas or local bananas instead of the Dole or Philippine bananas that seemingly tries to make up what they lack in flavour, in their looks; Don't judge a book by its cover. 

I strongly urge you to give this a try because this is a keeper for me and I know I'll be bake it again very soon!
America's Test Kitchen Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe
(Adapted From Food4Wibowo)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 8 1⁄2 by 4 1⁄2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1⁄4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth.

Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1 1⁄2-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes.

Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature.


Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe.

This recipe can be made using 5 thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they can bypass the microwaving in step 2 and go directly into the fine-mesh strainer.

Do not use a thawed frozen banana in step 4; it will be too soft to slice. Instead, simply sprinkle the top of the loaf with sugar.

The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8 1⁄2 by 4 1⁄2 inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.

The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but it can be stored (cool completely first), covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

Easy White Bread : Baking Your First Loaf!

It rises up and then is punched down and left to rise again; It was kill and then resurrected and yet killed again; It brings life through its death. Sounds torturous yet noble isn't it? Well, it is your humble  loaf of bread. 

Few things have gotten me so excited anymore. It was my first time baking with yeast because I'm always worried it will not come out well. Well, my loaf did rise, develop a little bit of flavour and came out of the oven looking so rustic and cool. I went gaga over it when it first came out. It was soooo cool, I must emphasis. Looking forward to more yeasty treats popping up on the dining table! This recipe is real simple and would be the perfect entry for beginners like me. But there isn't much flavour, I must admit, but it's a good start!

Easy White Bread
(Adapted from BBC GoodFood)

500g strong white flour , plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml water

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead. Once the dough is satin-smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Knock back the dough, then gently mould the dough into a ball. Place it on the baking parchment to prove for a further hour until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Dust the loaf with flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

OsteoSoy Tau Huay : Enriched Beancurd

Sorry to have kept you guys waiting so long for the next installment of my recipe on OsteoSoy and OsteoMilk! I'm back in action and today I bring to you, the Lao ban tau huay recipe! To be honest, now that I've tasted both Lao ban (after what seem like eternity) and 51 bean curd, I would go for the one with a short queue because they taste the same. At least to me, they do. 

This tau huay recipe yields tau huay very similar to what you would get form the original store so if you're in the mood to make some tau huay and surprise your family and friend, now you can! This is not only delicious but has added calcium from the OsteoSoy that I substituted with one of the soya bean powder in the original recipe, so you can have stronger bones from eating this tau huay.

Best Chilled Beancurd Pudding Recipe
(Adapted from MissTamChiak)

To make Soya Milk (6 regular bowls):
120g of 'Polleney' Soya Bean Milk Powder
60g of 'Unisoy' Soya Bean Milk Powder (Replace with 2 sachet of 26g OsteoSoy)
1400ml of water

Stir everything together.

To make beancurd pudding:
1400ml of soya milk
60g of 'Nestle' 'Coffeemate' coffee creamer
60g of sugar to taste(not required if using carton-ed Soya Bean Milk)
28g of Phoon Huat's instant jelly powder (note: if the pudding is still too watery, increase it to 30-32g)

1. Heat the soya milk in low heat till its hot. DO NOT BOIL.
2. Stir in coffee creamer till it is fully dissolved.
3. Stir in sugar till it is fully dissolved.
4. Stir in instant jelly powder till it is fully dissolved.
5. Sieve out the bubbles.
6. Allow to cool down for 5 minutes
7. Put in fridge for overnight. Enjoy!

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies

Life hasn't been the same ever since my promotional exams and A levels Chinese ended while project work is nearing completion. For one, I've been baking more. So much more that I'm surprised what I've baked so far - bread and numerous cookies. Just short of pastries, which, will soon to be ticked off my baking list. 

These were the first cookies that came out from my oven once I was done with my exams. They require an overnight chill in the refrigerator but they're well worth the wait. 

These dark, very chocolatey and very delicious cookies are the famous World Peace Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. They're fantastic indeed, but I was hoping for slightly more crunch in it. My churchmates polished them off effortlessly and demanded for more. 'World Peace Cookies' huh? Just a word of caution, I would suggest following the amount of chocolate chips stated in the recipe or even reduce it by a little. I know, I know, they alway say there's no harm in putting more chocolate. Anyway who's there to judge you? But sometimes less is more and more is less. 

World Peace Cookies

-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 stick plus 3 tbsp (11 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp fleur de sel (can sub 1/4 tsp fine sea salt)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips or a generous 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda.

2. In a stand mixer, or a hand mixer with a large bowl, beat butter on medium until creamy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour mixture, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer (to prevent a mess!), and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times (1 or 2 seconds each time). Pulse a few more times if there is lots of flour still on the surface of the dough. Work the dough as little as possible, it's okay if it's a little crumbly looking.

4. Stir in the chocolate pieces, mixing just until combined.

5. Place the dough on a work surface and divide in half. Work with one half at a time and shape the dough into logs (1 1/2 inches in diameter). Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (can refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. If baking from frozen, don't defrost, just add 1 minute to baking time).

6. To bake: preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

7. Using a sharp knife, slice logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds (they may crack a bit--just squeeze the pieces back together). Arrange the rounds on baking sheets with 1 inch between each.

8. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes (they won't look done). Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until just warm, before serving or letting them reach room temperature.

*Cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or be frozen for 2 months
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