Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Julie/Julia... FINALLY

Before i start on the subject matter, i just wanted to tell you readers a story of a strawberry tart which i made a couple of months ago. I think i have put off making tarts and pies for as long as i can and i finally plucked up the courage to try making one. As predicted, the mess created just trying to roll the dough at this humidity and heat was infuriating! Especially when i have an OCD for neatness and an unrealistic aim to get things right the 1st time... i cant help it!

Anyway, I tried rolling the dough in between parchment paper but couldn't get it into the pie pan in 1 unbroken piece so i was patching up holes and getting angrier by the minute. Finally, i popped it into the oven to blind bake it before pouring the delicious vanilla anglais which i made earlier into the tart shell, topping it off with red strawberries. I was SO PROUD of myself. I had to fight back temptation with every ounce of my being to chill the tart for about 2 hours in the chill chest. After 2 painful hours, i took the tart out with trembling hands, admired it for another 10 secs before slicing into it. Suddenly, i began seeing scenes from The Blob unfolding in front of my eyes... the custard became so runny, it could not support the strawberries after leaving the tart pan. It was sloshing all over the counter top and i had to scoop custard, crust and strawberry like mud from a swamp! SO ANGRY!!!! WHAT DID I DO WRONG?! I followed every stinking step didn't i?! Must be the freaking WEATHER!!! After this, i dumped the entire tart into the refrigerator and did not want to see it again. My mum threw it out a few days later, in the dead of the night, for fear i might accidentally see it again. So that's that... I'm pretty sure i'll try tart/pie making again but the wounds are still healing, perhaps in a decade or so.

Ok, back to the subject matter, Julie/Julia... i finally watched the movie and it has inspired me to try something similar but with baking instead so i am in the midst of deciding on a book and the challenge so watch this space!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My New Pets

I can't believe it's been more than a year since i last blogged! A lot has happened over the past year, some good, some bad but mostly it has given me a direction which i am ready to pursue and hopefully will come to fruition in the near future.

In any case, as the title suggests, I am here to introduce a very exciting project which i am embarking on and it has to do with new pets i've been growing, to be exact, millions of them! This project is definitely not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the factory-processed, generic and tasteless white sliced bread munching generation. I am attempting to make the king of all breads... the SOURDOUGH. It is a bread which has started and ended wars and one can clearly understand why with just a taste. But i must warn you, given its reputation, the process of creating it is by no means a simple task. Nurture, care and dedication must be shown and in return, the rewards are great and bountiful!

In the next few days, weeks, months and hopefully years, i will carefully document the process of growing a seed culture into a mother starter. I will also hopefully be able to have a mother starter that will continue to grow and refresh for many many years. This is the pride of all artisan bakers which i strive to become one day.

Ok enough of chatter, here goes a couple of pictures of the seed culture i've been cultivating for the past 2 days. I'm so excited, they are like my babies! I love all 2 million of these yeast-y smelling, bubbling & frothy bacteria. I can't wait for them to all grow up... sniff sniff. I'm proud of them already...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Strawberry Poke Cake & Chocolate Fudge Bundt

I know I was meant to publish my new menu for orders last month but due to unforeseen circumstances, this will need to be put on hold until i find another avenue to launch it officially so do bear with me for a little bit. Also, with the current economic situation, one has to be prudent with spending. Keeping up with baking each week is not a problem but to do this professionally and at the quality which i am comfortable with, cost is a big consideration.

Anyway, enough with the boring stuff, suffice to say, i am determined to make this work!

Ok, so what have i been up to for the last few weeks? Firstly, i finally spent the vouchers which my colleagues gave me for my birthday last year. I spent it on 3 baking books (surprise surprise) of which the 2 cakes which i have baked last week and this week have been taken from.

The Strawberry Poke Cake was a recipe originally found on the Jell'O boxes but has since become an American classic. The interior is 2 layers of vanilla sponge cake separated by a thick filling of strawberry puree, slathered with chill whipped cream, topped with slices of red, juicy strawberries and silver baubles for that bit of bling :-)

The next cake is a Chocolate Fudge Bundt. For those who have followed by posts, I did swear off baking another bundt cake but everyone deserves a 2nd chance. Learning from the previous mistake, i buttered and floured the bundt mold like there was no tomorrow, before pouring the chocolatey mixture in and it turned out PERFECT! Don't take my word for it, check out the pictures below.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


It's been quite a while since I last posted anything on the site. The family home is being renovated for 3 months so baking has been kept at a minimum but good news, I am moving back in a couple of days and I'll be able to start with more delicious posts again.

Just an update on what has been happening on the baking front; I have decided that it is time I took concrete steps, albeit very tiny ones, towards my dream of owning my own bakery one day. Thus, the official 'The Vanille Bean' menu for home orders will be out within the month! I would say the menu is a list of comfort food packed with big flavours and wholesome ingredients. All are made to order and by hand, from scratch. so quality and freshness is assured.

Another big plan which I have will be revealed when the time is right. All the planets need to align on this one for it to come true :-)

Ok, enough said, check back the week after with pictures of the new kitchen and delicious bakes!

P.S. 'The Vanille Bean' menu will be posted on the website temporarily until I find out how to get an official site up and running.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

No more bun(dt)s for now...

A couple of months ago, i went to my favourite place, Pantry Magic, at HV, with a sole purpose; to purchase a beautiful deep blue silicone bundt mold which i have had my eye on for the past year. The reason why i haven't bought it earlier is because of a previous attempt which left a deep gashing wound in my side. Ok ok i exaggerate but felt similar to that. 

Take a walk with me down memory lane to 2 years ago, i had an urge to bake a chiffon cake which is essentially a bundt cake except it is much lighter but still has its trademark hole in the middle. Anyway, i decided to make a lemon chiffon cake with a conventional chiffon tin. It was a total wipe out, catastrophic, thermonuclear FAILURE! Firstly, when i inverted the cake, the middle portion got stuck on the tube of the tin, thus causing only 3/4 of the cake to detach from the tin. One thing you need to know about me is that i am a perfectionist. I demand the look and the taste to be perfect. When this does not happen, i get extremely angry with myself, it doesn't matter if that was my first attempt. So, obviously at this point in time, this is not looking good. Fortunately, nobody was near me when this happened because i was emitting copious amount of 'steam' from my ears! Secondly, the glaze that i made to be drizzled over the cake was so sour, it ruined the entire cake!

Fast forward to the present, i finally decided to attempt to make a bundt cake, thinking that the same thing would not be repeated since it has been said NOTHING sticks to silicone. Fine, i thought, this is going to turn out great! I decided to bake a walnut and chocolate bundt cake, drizzled with a chocolate glaze. Sounds yummy doesn't it? I followed the recipe to a T. As i took the bundt mold out of the oven, due to the flexibility of the silicone mold, the cake started to look like it was going to split. I quickly place it on the table, hoping it would get structurally stronger when it cools down.

15 minutes later, placing a cooling rack over the bundt mold and inverting it, i carefully tried to get the cake out of the mold. I thought the entire cake came out fine since nothing sticks to silicone right?? WRONG!! 1/4 of the cake was stuck onto the mold thus ruining the entire shape of the cake!!

So, here i am, posting pictures of the beautiful blue silicone bundt mold instead of the bundt cake because it is absolutely too embarrassing to be seen. Please use your imagination when eating the bundt cake tomorrow and picture what it would have looked like perfect. I think i would retire my bundt mold till another time, when i feel strong enough again to attempt this. In the meantime, it will always be my Achilles heel.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spinach, Feta & Dried Tomato Bread

You might be asking yourself why this week's bread looks exactly like the cheddar bread i baked 2 weeks ago. No, i did not bake it again this week although i am sure nobody will be complaining if i did :-) This week's bread has got lots more ingredients in it than just cheddar cheese.

I was actually doing some research online and found a recipe for spinach and feta bread. However, i wasn't too comfortable with recipe as it was a non-kneading recipe. Being a purist, i find the notion of not kneading bread rather offensive. However i did like the combination of feta and spinach so i kept these 2 main ingredients and formulated my own recipe. I had a couple of bottles of dried tomatoes knocking about in the refrigerator so i thought perhaps i'd include these as well (a special treat for those of you who have been asking me to bake my sun-dried tomato bread again). The result is a soft savoury bread jam-packed full with ingredients. I couldn't find the feta cheese anywhere tho... wonder where it went...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cheddar Cheese Bread

Finally got down to making bread again, i know i have been slacking off for the past few weeks :-) This bread originally contained sesame seeds as well but i don't like sesame seeds so i excluded it. This cheddar cheese bread is different from the ones you can purchase outside because it comes in a loaf and there is a marbling effect in the bread so every bite you take would definitely have a bit of cheddar cheese in it!