Saturday, 20 April 2013


Finally. I have finally come to bake this cake. For those who have watched the last series of the Great British Bake Off you should be more than familiar with this as it was one of the technical challenges. Fraisier is basically a classic French strawberry cake with a distinctive pattern on the sides created using halved strawberries.

Unfortunately in this attempt I miscalculated the amount gelatine needed to set the cream so it didn't turn out very well. Still tasted good though.

The filling is a white chocolate mousse flavoured with almond extract. I avoided using marzipan as I don't like fondant/marzipan in general. Plus it sort of saves some work as well.

As you can tell it's a birthday cake for a friend of mine from Marseille. She wanted something with strawberries and I couldn't think of anything more strawberry-y than this cake.

It really would've looked a lot nicer had I used more gelatine in the mousse and let it have more time to set (the fact that I woke up at 12 noon today really didn't help).

Would I make it again? Absolutely. Did I mention I should use more gelatine next time?

Ad Kong

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lunch Party

This week is the much needed Easter break for me. The last term had been so hectic to the point that I literally couldn't find time to bake. Not surprisingly I was badly hit by my rebound baking tendency when term finally ended. I spent the first two days last weekend baking macarons, about 50 of them, that's 100 macaron shells. I did however manage to squeeze in a teeny bit of revision which I was extremely proud of. Anyway the short Easter break has culminated in the lunch party that I've just hosted today. I invited two of my friends and their parents. The menu was:

Starter: Salmon and Dill Quiche Lorraine
Main: Beef Rendang Curry served with home made crusty bread
Dessert: Double Chocolate Mousse with Bergamot

Overall, great company and food went down well. I was particularly happy with how my mousse turned out.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The (perfect) white sandwich loaf

I consider myself a modest person, having grown up in a traditional Asian family where humility is a virtue and arrogance a vice. But you may have noticed that this self-acclaimed character of mine doesn't sit well with the title of this blog entry.

Let's just say I don't use the word 'perfect' a lot but the Hokkaido milk bread that I've made today was quite literally the best sandwich bread I've ever had. Soft, velvety and milky with a hint of cream. I cannot think of a better sandwich loaf.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Updated to-bake list


Fraisier Cake
Entremet with Joconde Imprint
Strawberry entremet
Whipped Cream Cake with a soufflé base
Mille Crêpes - (failed) - Tried this once but the cream was too sloppy and the crêpes too thick, making it impossible to slice through the layers. We ended up eating it layer by layer, which tasted great. That said it was a failure as it wasn't how it should be.
Mille Feuilles
Vanilla Tart
Triple Chocolate Mousse slices
Macaron Cake 
Mango Cheesecake
Strawberry Charlotte
Mont Blanc
Plaisir Sucré
Éclairs (I've made this before but forgot to take pictures!)
Fruit Tarts
Strawberry and Pistachio tart
Pear and Frangipane Tart - (New) Found this recipe on an amazing blog called 'use real butter'. Do head there and have a look but bewarned, you could easily spend a whole day in front of your computer.
Flapjacks - (New) Well I do live in the UK after all.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Salted Caramel Velvet Cake

My first ever original invention. It's a variant of the red velvet cake, except there's no red food coloring (thank goodness!) and there is salted caramel in the frosting. I've also added meringue to the sponge to make it lighter. Personally this is one of my favourite cakes, not just because it's my own recipe. I've always liked the combination of chocolate and salted caramel but sadly it's normally too sweet for my palate. In this recipe I've added the salted caramel to the mascarpone/cream cheese in place of icing sugar to dilute the sweetness but still retain a noticeable hint of salted caramel. I have baked this cake numerous times before as I was trying to perfect it. It's almost there I'd say but I'll have to bake it at least once more to make sure it wasn't down to luck. Plus I certainly don't mind eating a slice of it. Anytime.

It was a tad frustrating when I made this cake as I didn't know how to decorate it. In the end I settled for some hazelnuts dipped in caramel and a few leftover chocolate squares I made before. For some reason it just didn't work for me. I think it could be down to the fact that my caramel decorations were too small compared to the size of the cake and thus lacked the wow factor. Perhaps I should have made a nest of caramel instead. That said, I've learned something important about caramel decorations. I made the cake a day in advance and decorated it with those caramel hazelnuts. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the moisture of the mascarpone frosting, the caramel bits on the hazelnuts had melted by the next day and so the best part of the decoration, i.e; the spikes were practically gone by the time I brought it to the event. Anyway.. the cake was well received and I'm sure it tasted alright (I just learned a trick - to bake an extra cupcake using the same batter and frosting to do a taste test without slicing into a whole cake that you want to present).

I wish I had taken a picture of a slice of the cake but it was literally gone in 5 minutes (after all it was the ONLY cake at the event of 100 people). I just hope I didn't misunderstand what the organiser told me (though I was definitely under the impression that I was meant to bake ONE cake and not cater for the whole event). Oh well, good things come in small packages as they say.

White loaf with a twist

It's been a while and the last few weekends had been incredibly busy for me. I finally took the plunge and bought the rye sourdough starter that I had been eyeing for months from a dutch bakery. It has since grown very well and is now called Francis, and it lives in my fridge most of the time. :) The idea to name my sourdough starter was from my friend but the exact choice of name was my own decision.

This weekend I've made a pain rustique. Basically a rustic white bread but the recipe I used also includes rye sourdough starter and some whole wheat flour for extra flavour. I must say this has been my best attempt at bread making to date. The oven spring was also the most impressive compared to my previous attempts. The crust was a lot better this time having left it in the oven a bit longer after baking.

Overall, very pleased indeed. I will be making mille crêpes cake next weekend and I CANNOT wait. It's been sitting on my to-bake list for WAY too long and it's about time for it to be ticked off. :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

White bread

Lately I have been experimenting with white bread and personally I enjoy a good loaf of crusty bread. 

Whilst the process of bread making is absolutely enjoyable it is an art that I have yet to fully understand let alone master it. It seems the key to bread making is the ability to judge the degree of gluten development and also the degree of final proofing achieved prior to baking. Anyway despite all that I still enjoyed eating my bread especially when it's lightly toasted in the oven for a few minutes. I can't wait to eat my hickory BBQ turkey sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. :)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Baking Disaster

It seems that it's human nature to want to showcase positive results in whatever they do. For example the research articles published in renowned journals almost always show a positive finding in their experiment. That is something called the publisher's bias, or in other words, human's innate desire to show their best and hide the ugly. But much is to be learned about the occasions when things don't turn out the way we expected. I've decided to share with you the baking disaster that I just had last evening.

It was a cake meant to be for my friend's valentine surprise. For some reason I decided to bake the sponge in a tray instead of cake pans with the vision of making a modern looking square cake. It was only until I've popped it in the oven when I realised the tray was a tad too big and it ended up slanted to one side. Lopsided sponge aside, the mascarpone frosting turned out tasting great but was very much on the sloppy side. I blame it on the fact that my friend didn't want me to add more cream to it which probably would have made it stiffer for frosting the cake.

In an attempt to salvage the disastrous cake we ended up with this:

A coffin cake. For my friend's Valentine Surprise.

Perhaps not the most appropriate design for the occasion.

It looked so ridiculously ugly that I had such a good laugh just looking at it. I've never seen anything as badly 'decorated' as this and whilst embarassing it was still worth it purely for the laugh factor, at the expense of my friend's valentines gift of course. But it tasted great. And it's the taste that matters isn't it? This, coming from a person who normally thinks presentation is as important if not more so than taste.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Coffee and Walnut Cake

I was invited to a dinner party last weekend and instead of a usual bottle of wine I decided to bake this age-old classic as a gift. I used a recipe from Brendan Lynch's website but instead of a coffee cream cheese frosting I opted for a swiss meringue coffee and cinnamon buttercream.

The cake had a nice flavour to it but can probably do with a touch more coffee and cinnamon. Unfortunately the sponge was a little on the hard side and I think it could be due to the fact that I didn't have the patience to bring butter to room temperature prior to creaming it with the sugar. I enjoyed eating it nevertheless and I'd like to think my friends did too.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Post Exam Baking - Homemade Baguette and Croissants

Just had my exam two days ago and I've been dying to bake. I decided to go with the more time consuming bakes such as baguettes and croissants because trust me we hardly get so many days off in a row in medical school. I chose to make baguettes because I've been experimenting with it a few times over the last few months but I just couldn't quite get it right. They all tasted very nice but I wanted to get the ideal airy crumb texture with a crust that isn't too chewy. I decided to go with a lower hydration recipe by Hamelman this time. I think I've been way too ambitious to tackle the highest hydration dough recipe previously considering I'm a total novice to baking bread. As usual I picked the notoriously difficult one to start with, i.e; baguettes, but that's because it's my favourite bread of all.

They turned out well this time and the crumb texture in my opinion was the best I could achieve given I have no access to professional ovens.

The oven spring was moderate. I did everything I could, I sprayed the baguette prior to baking, I had a pizza stone that I heated in the oven for an hour and I poured a jug of boiling water into a preheated baking tin. All to create the all so important steam for a good oven spring and a good crust. Unfortunately my student flat oven could only reach a certain maximum temperature unlike professional ovens and it loses heat in an instant whenever the door is opened. (plus all those steam creating measures took time to perform..)

What about the crumb.

Monday, 7 January 2013

My to-bake list

Having come across a handful of baking blog owners shameless yet proudly exhibiting their to-bake list. I thought it's time for me to follow suit and proclaim to the world the things I wish to bake in the months to come as soon as I find the time to do so!

Here goes:

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Baguettes - The highs and lows

I've never been a big fan of bread. As a child growing up eating supermarket bread loaves I found them rather bland and I couldn't comprehend how 'some' people actually claimed they liked the crust which, to me tastes dry and unappealing. It was only until recently when I had a bite of the sourdough baguette at a restaurant that my opinion of bread was changed. I became an admirer of baguettes.