Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Afternoon Tea with Lychee Panna Cotta

Last weekend my cousins and I enjoyed high tea together, each bought a homemade dish which I vouched for sweet over savoury. All week I couldn't decided what to bake and I had so much I wanted to make but it had to be done all on Friday night, straight after work from 7pm to 11pm. So I decided three quick easy to recipes, mars bar brownie, strawberry & cream cupcakes and lychee panna cotta. The panna cotta is so far the easiest and quickest thing I have ever made and I highly recommend it for lazy people who just want something yummy but don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen or use an oven.


Lychee Panna Cotta
Recipe from

What worked? This recipe was easy peasy and took me no more than 30mins to make however waiting time is around 2 hours setting time before putting the jelly top and an overnight in the refridge before serving.
What didn't? Being impatient, I tried to add the jelly after half an hour of setting the panna cotta but obviously the jelly mixed into the panna cotta, looking fugly.

1 can (14 oz) lychees in syrup
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet of instant raspberry jelly (or any other flavoured jelly)
  1. Optional - Take out 6 lychee pieces and put each into a cup
  2. Using a food processor or blender, process the rest of the lychees including the syrup until the mixture is smooth. Strain into a measuring cup until you get 1 cup of liquid.
  3. Mix 3 tablespoons of cold water and gelatin in a small bowl then put aside. 
  4. In a medium heat and saucepan, combine the 1 cup of lychee liquid, cream, milk, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and it just come to a boil.
  5. Remove lychee mixture from heat and add gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is fully melted and combined.
  6. Divide mixture among 6 glasses and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.
  7. Follow the instructions of the instant jelly packet and fill an inch of the jelly to the set panna cotta. 
  8. Keep in the fridge over night and garnish with fruits before serving.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Iterally Salted Butter Caramel Macarons

When it comes to baking, I get asked a lot about my macarons. I bake it so often, I've lost counted however I still feel I have not yet perfected the master of baking macarons by technique which is my goal before I venture out on wild flavours. So here is my basic macaron recipe for all to practice. Filled with my three favourite ingredients together.. sugar + butter + cream = CARAMEL. I found a fine salted caramel recipe online however since I can't find any 'Fleur de sel' (French) sea salt, I've opted the fully sick generic salted butter.

What worked?  I think the trick in making macarons is follow strictly to the recipe instructions (by the grams) and know your oven. If the oven seems hotter than normal reduce the temperature to 120 degrees, personally with my oven I slightly open the oven door for the first 2mins of baking (or else it starts to over heat and crack the shells). I also think letting the macaron sit for at least half an hour before baking is important, it helps develop the shinny top shell. Over all practice makes perfect.
What didn't? Not letting the caramel completely cool before adding the final butter which melted the butter and made the caramel runny.

Vanilla Macaron
110g almond meal
200g pure icing sugar
110 egg whites (left outside at room temperature for 24hours)
30g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Sift the almond meal and icing sugar as fine as possible (it would be easy if you had food processor). 
  2. Whisk egg whites until it reaches soft peak slowly incorporate the caster sugar and pinch of cream of tartar. Keep whisking until it becomes stiff peak.
  3. Add 1/3 of the egg white and vanilla into the dry mix (almond meal & icing sugar) bowl, this is your opportunity to vigorously combine the ingredients together.
  4. Add the remaining 2/3 of egg whites however only mix enough when it's well combine. 
  5. Line the baking try with paper and pipe the mixture into round 3cms (an inch) leaving 3cms space in between.
  6. Allow the macarons to sit for 30mins until the top layer dries out (in the meantime complete the caramel recipe)
  7. In a preheated oven of 140 degrees, bake for approx 10-15mins.

Salt Caramel Butter Cream
140ml thicken cream   
125g salted butter (room temperature)    
170g caster sugar
  1. Melt the sugar in a pan (without stirring) until it is brown.
  2. Then add and mix 65g of salted butter and double cream then set aside to cool.
  3. Whip the rest of the 60g salted butter until it is soft and then blend in to the cold caramel until it becomes a smooth creamy texture.
  4. Fill half the macarons with the caramel and then top with a second shell.

Oh and I like to thank Sbuchanan for the photography tips. Notice a difference in my pics?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


It’s been over a year since my last post and my only real excuse is ‘I’ve been too busy’ that I have neglected this blog. Honestly quality blogging takes time and I don’t want to upload phone grade photos and post unedited random recipes with no comments which will not add value to my baking learning experience or to my readers.

However fear not, I haven’t stopped baking! Since last year I’ve made a macaroon tower, lemon curd cake, green tea chiffon cake, mini pavlovas, profiteroles, deep fried sesame balls, lemon meringue slice, assorted macaroons, Thai custard sticky rice (Kao Niao Sung Khaya) and just yesterday carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

What I will try to commit?
  • At least 1 post per fortnight
  • Practice photography skills
  • Keeping baking
*** Please watch this space ***

Friday, 4 June 2010

Not quite the custard tart

So what do you do with the left over egg yolks? I usually make custard, pastry cream or what the french call it crème patisseri. From that you can fill it into profiteroles (cream puffs) éclairs or napoleons.

Anyways for this post we won't be doing any of that, too much work for a busy week night but rather i will make something easy and quick, custard tarts. What I like about eggs/custard tarts is that nice eggy sweet smooth custard blend in a warm buttery flaky pastry.

Portuguese Custard Tarts
What worked? The main component, the custard! simple and delicious of course.
What didn't? The pre-made puff pastry wasn't that puffy at all. Perhaps it was the temperature of the oven which quickly cooked the custard and not enough on the pastry. I probably make it from scratch next time when I get the time.

3 to 4 egg yolks (depends how eggy you like it)
100g (1/2 cup) Sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
400ml full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 sheet pre-made puff pastry, slightly thawed

In a saucepan in low heat, whisk in egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and milk together until there's no more lumps. Put the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a clean bowl, cling wrap the surface to stop a skin from forming and let it cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Lightly butter grease a 12-hole muffin pan. Cut the puff pastry in half and place on piece over the other, roll and then cut the pastry into 6 pieces per pastry sheet. Use a rolling pin to flatten each cut piece of pastry into a circle about 10cm in diameter and place into the muffin pan.

Spoon the cooled custard into each pastry case approx 3/4 of muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden. If you do want some dark bits, turn up the oven to 210°C for the last 5 minutes of baking. Remove from the oven and allow the tarts to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before taking them out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Hello world - Opéra Gateau

So where do I start?
How about 'Welcome to my baking blog!'

After so much encouragement from my friends and family, I finally got the motivation to start this blog, sharing my baking journey from an occasional weekend noob baker to hopefully one day a patisserie.

It started when my cousin Kim asked if I could bake her favourite coffee glazed banana cake for her birthday party. As her best cousin, I wanted to do something better than the usual banana cake and being a serial blog reader I was inspired from great food bloggers to bake something more challenging.. the OPERA CAKE! (ha beat that banana cake)

It was a total success! Everyone at the party was raving how nice this coffee buttercream almond cake turned out. Kim was so impressed, she encouraged me to start a blog and not to mention teach her how to bake this Sunday for her husband's birthday.

Opera Cake
Recipe adapted from A La Cuisine! and Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan.

What worked? With patience, overall the cake looked and tasted great! however the bottom layer wasn't as moist as I liked it to be, so be generous with the syrup.
What didn't? I had too much left over buttercream and chocolate ganache. In the original recipe I also made coffee crème anglaise which failed but luckily that's optional for the cake.

Joconde - Almond Sponge Cake
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsps (30g) caster (granulated) sugar
  • 2 cups (225g) almond flour (meal) or finely ground almonds
  • 2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Line two 12½ x 15½-inch biscuit pans with baking paper (make it stick to the pan with melted butter).
In a clean bowl, whip egg whites gradually from low speed until the whites become foamy, then medium-high speed until the whites reach soft peaks. Slowly add caster sugar and whip on high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy.
In a separate bowl, beat almond flour, icing sugar, and eggs on medium speed for 3 minutes until it becomes voluminous. Add flour and beat at low speed until it disappears. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold meringue (white egg mix) into the almond mixture until combined. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly.
Bake cake layers for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from their pans, and let them cool to room temperature. Then cut each joconde layer in half (which makes 4 pieces)

Coffee Syrup
  • ½ cup (125g) boiled water
  • 1/3 cup (65g) sugar
  • 1½ tbsps (7g) instant coffee powder
In a small bowl combine boiled water, sugar and coffee powder making sure it dissolve ingredients then allow syrup to cool. For a more professional way you can do this in a saucepan.

Coffee Buttercream
  • 2 tbsps (10g) instant coffee powder
  • 2 tbsps (15g) boiling water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup (100g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60g) water
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 14 tbsps (200g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
In another small bowl, combine coffee powder and boiling water and stir until dissolved.
In another bowl, using a mixer beat the egg and egg yolk on high speed until pale and foamy.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and vanilla extract, and bring to a boil, while stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook without stirring until it reaches 124C (255F) I just check when it starts to thickens. From the egg mix on low speed, slowly pour in the syrup. Raise speed to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick, satiny, and at room temperature.
Separately beat the butter with a whisk until it is soft and creamy. Back to the mix in medium speed add the butter in 2 tablespoon chunks. Raise mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is thickened and sanity. Add the coffee syrup, and beat until combined. Store the buttercream in container and refrigerate (this can be done the night before)

  • 8oz (240g) dark chocolate (70% +), finely chopped
  • ½ cup (125g) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
  • 4 tbsps (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In another saucepan, bring milk and cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Gently stir the chocolate until smooth and fully combined. Then beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Let it cool before spread.

Chocolate Glaze

I used the same ganache which i had too much of. Reheat the mixture over a double boiler and added another 100g of dark chocolate. While it's warm quickly spread it on the last top layer.

Assembly from the bottom

Bottom layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
2nd layer - Spread coffee buttercream then put the cake in the freezer for 10mins
3rd layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
4th layer - Spread chocolate ganache then put the cake in the freezer for 10mins
5th layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
6th layer - Spread coffee buttercream then put the cake in the freezer for 10mins
7th layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
Top layer - Spread warm chocolate graze (avoid spreading when it hardens)

Once the top layer set, use a clean warm knife (rinse in hot water) and cut the edges for a finish clean look.

Anyways, I ended up baking her two being the banana cake.