Earl Grey Tea Cake (using tea-infused butter)

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I am a big tea lover, you'll find all sorts of tea and hardly any coffee in my cabinet. Probably just a few sachets of instant coffee that I took from hotels during vacations (in case I need coffee powder for baking).

Of all the different flavours of tea, Earl Grey is my absolute favourite =D
Besides drinking it as a beverage whether hot or iced, I also like to incorporate the flavour into my bakes. So far, have tried chiffon and cookies. For earl grey chiffon, the tea leaves are infused through milk to extract the flavour; while I love the texture of chiffon, the earl grey is a little subdued by the milky taste of the cake. As for cookies, I'm not really a big fan, I just eat a few pieces and then will get sick of it easily. This time, I'm looking for a slightly dense cake which is still very tender and moist with full bodied earl grey fragrance and taste.



Recently came across a blog which talks about baking with tea and using butter to infuse the tea flavour into baked goods and it's really interesting. So after checking out various cook books and websites for a suitable cake recipe, decided to adapt the Earl Grey Cake by Honey Bee Sweets with this tea-infused butter method.


The batter of this cake is not too thick, quite runny in fact. So if using cupcake cases, it's advisable to place the cases in muffin pans before filling the batter, or use hard cupcake cases. Initially I intended to bake only one loaf cake but because my loaf pan is slightly smaller than the regular size, I had extra batter to fill three more cupcake cases. Instead of the usual round cases, I chose these sweet flora square ones :)


Earl Grey Tea Cake (using tea-infused butter)
(makes 1 no. 24cm x 7cm loaf pan and 3 nos. cupcakes)

Ingredients

(A) Concentrated Earl Grey Tea
  • 2 sachets earl grey tea (any tea leaves of your choice, I used BOH Seri Songket Collection - Earl Grey with Tangerine)
  • 150g water
  1. Boil 150g of water and sip the 2 sachets of tea bags in the water. Turn off heat and infuse for 10-15 mins.
  2. Strain and measure 100g of earl grey tea. Set aside to cool down.
(B) Tea-infused Butter
  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 2 sachets earl grey tea
  1.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter until just turned liquid.
  2. Add the tea leaves to the melted butter and continue heating on low heat until the mixture starts to foam.
  3. Remove from heat and infuse for 10-15 mins.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the tea leaves to get as much liquid butter as possible. ** Quantity of butter will be lesser than 180g as some will be stuck to the tea leaves. Should be able to get 150g for use. Set aside to cool down. Discard the strained tea leaves.
(C) Earl Grey Cake
  • 150g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 150g tea-infused butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g earl grey tea
  • 2 egg whites
  • 20g caster sugar
  1. Preheat oven (top and bottom heat) at 175 degree celsius.
  2. Line loaf pan with baking parchment and set aside.
  3. Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl of a stand-mixer, add tea-infused butter and 80g caster sugar, mix on medium speed using k-beater till well-blended.
  5. Add the egg yolks and mix till well-blended.
  6. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the earl grey tea. Mix till batter is thick and smooth, stop to scrap the batter from sides of bowl where necessary.
  7. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites (I use hand-mixer) till foamy and add the 20g caster sugar gradually. Continue beating till stiff peak.
  8. FOLD 1/3 of the egg white meringue into the main batter gently. After egg white is almost incorporated, FOLD another 1/3 of the meringue into the main batter gently. Finally, pour all the main batter into the bowl containing the remaining 1/3 meringue and FOLD gently.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and cupcake cases.
  10. Bake the cupcakes for 20 mins and loaf cake for 45 mins, or cake tester comes out clean.
  11. Cool the cakes on a wire rack.
  12. Enjoy the cake on its own or top with frosting
* Weight of the batter is about 600g. As my loaf pan is slightly smaller than the standard size, after filling the mould with about 450g of batter, there's extra batter to fill another 3 cupcake cases (about 45-50g of batter each). If using only cupcake cases, should be able to yield 12-13 regular size cupcake cases.


I find the cake tasty enough to eat on its own but even better with a touch of frosting or icing :) Here, I'm using cream cheese frosting because I had some cream cheese left from a previous bake. The amount is just enough to frost the quantity of cake I baked (sparingly coz I don't like too much frosting).

Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 45g cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 30g unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp grounded earl grey leaves (I use direct from the BOH tea sachet as the leaves are very fine already) *optional
  1. In a mixing bowl of a stand-mixer, add all the ingredients and mix on medium-high speed using k-beater till smooth and creamy.
* the grounded earl grey leaves won't add much fragrance or taste to the frosting because it's not infused and hence flavour can't really be extracted. I just added them to make the frosting look nice :p

I really love how the cake turned out, rich with earl grey fragrance and taste, texture was very tender and moist with tight crumbs. Best way to eat it? With some cream cheese frosting and nice cuppa earl grey tea without sugar or milk :)

This recipe is definitely a keeper for me. Gonna try other flavours of tea-infused butter next time!

Legoland Hotel Malaysia - May 2014

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We bought the Legoland Premium Passes this year and have been going to Legoland every other month in order to maximise the value :p. Anyways, it's faster to go Legoland from my place (if there's no jam at the customs) than say East Coast Park or Changi.

As for Legoland Hotel, I guess we had to try at least once right? The rooms are not cheap, in fact they are expensive! We opted to stay at the Premium Pirate Room which was close to RM1000! So a one-time experience was enough.


I love how the hotel facade looks like, so bright and cheery :) It always gets us excited about visiting the theme park, the moment we were about to reach.


The reception area.


Check out the cute postbox and express checkout box made from lego bricks, but of course.


This wall of lego figurines behind the reception desk is so cool! And check out the bicycle, the wheel part actually magnifies the figurines. The bicycle is motorised to move along the entire length of the reception desk. Woooooo, I couldn't help but swoon over this cute and cool gadgetry.


The check-in process was smooth, we tried our luck to check-in at 2pm and was very lucky to get a room because official check-in time is 4pm (which I don't understand why so late!).

There are a pirate ship and a castle at the lobby area with lots of lego bricks to keep the little ones occupied.


Another area at the lobby with lego bricks for young ones, certainly a family friendly hotel.

Check out this painting made of lego bricks, featuring the famous landmarks and symbols of Malaysia. Beautiful!


I must rave about the lifts, the moment someone steps into the lift, disco music and lights will be automatically turned on. My kiddo never failed to start dancing to the music in excitement each time :)


Our Premium Pirate Room was on level 5.




Upon entering the room, there's huge closet for our luggage and belongings. A box of Duplo playset is also available for kids to play.

Opposite the closet is the bathroom, quite spacious. What's interesting is there are two wash basins, one for the adults and a lower one for the kids. Now I really appreciate this thoughtfulness because when we stay at hotels, we always had to move a chair into the bathroom for the kiddo to wash up, which was cumbersome especially if the chair was big and bulky.


Basic bathroom amenities were provided.

Next is the dedicated kids' area with double-bunk beds and a pull-out bed.

TV just for the kids.

At one of the corner stands a treasure chest! I think this must be one of the excitement for kids (and probably adults alike). There's clue sheet with four questions, simply solve the puzzles and unlock the treasure chest for prizes.


The master bedroom (separated by a partition sliding door) with comfortable king-size bed.

The entire room was nicely furnished according to pirate-theme which was really cool.

There was complimentary drinking water, coffee, tea and a packet of chocolate chip cookies.


The view of Legoland both day and night time.


Bricks Family Restaurant where we had our breakfast (included in the room rate).

I totally love how the entire restaurant was decked with food-themed lego bricks and instead of eating, I concentrated on snapping photos!


That said, the entire restaurant was packed to the brim and quite chaotic as well. Credits to the staff who tried their best to clear the tables and top up food as fast as they could.


Adorable food-themed lego bricks everywhere.




I love this set of baker trying to blend some batter.


Breakfast was not bad, typically breakfast fare like bread and pastries, salad and fruits, cereal and juices, hot food like pancakes, eggs, sausages, baked beans etc and local favourites like fried noodles, nasi lemak, porridge etc.

Like I said, I couldn't focus on enjoying the food coz I was overwhelmed by all the lego, the restaurant was too crowded and noisy for peaceful meal and satisfying the kiddo's needs sapped all my remaining energy.


Popped by the swimming pool to take a look as well. Didn't get to swim there since we already went to the water park.


All in all, it was an enjoyable stay at the Legoland Hotel. Could see the staff really tried their best to provide a good and memorable experience for all the guests with friendly gestures and wide smiles. But like I said, once is enough because the price is kind of steep.

Rainbow Jello

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Grrrrr!! The weather is so hot and humid that I've been craving for cold drinks and desserts all the time!!

There's no special recipe for this Rainbow Jello, except patience :( I could have made life easier for myself by simply making the jelly in its own flavour but itchy hands want to try the rainbow effect :p So all in all it took me 5-6 hours to complete the layers and another couple of hours to let the jelly properly.


Tortally is the most common brand of jelly found in our supermarkets; managed to find 5 flavours, Pineapple, Orange, Raspberry, Lime and Blackcurrant. I think Cold Storage or Jasons sell another brand Jell-O.

The package instructions say to mix 250ml of hot water to the jelly crystals, mix well then mix another 250ml of cold water. I wanted the jelly to be firmer so I used 200ml of hot water and 200ml of cold water. In between layers, I let the jelly chill in the fridge for about an hour before pouring another layer. Just need to be gentle when pouring the next layer to prevent creating air bubbles.


It's quite interesting to eat through the different layers to taste the different flavours of jello. I liked the raspberry taste best and hated the lime; I think the lime tasted quite yucky, like my dishwashing soap :(

Anyways, I will stick to single flavour next time. Too much work just for jello.

Potato & Meat Croquette

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The potato croquette is not difficult to make at home, so I wonder why it took me this long to cook it :p Personally I like it a lot especially with lots of tonkatsu sauce. But hubby didn't seem to like it when I order this item at Japanese restaurants. Anyways, the kiddo started to order this item himself at Japanese restaurants so I took it as a sign to start preparing it as a home dish.

I like to use russet potato or Australian potato for mashed potato as the texture is finer. Added some minced beef to enhance the taste and also sneaked in some yellow onion, carrot and portobello mushroom since the kiddo doesn't like these usually. Actually the onion, carrot and mushroom were scraps leftover from some dishes a few days ago, just perfect to use them up. Didn't add any spices like black pepper or herbs as the kiddo doesn't like it (he's quite picky with sensitive tastebud).


Needless to say, the kiddo loved it and ate two and a half pieces (along with rice and another dish of fish & tofu soup). Surprisingly hubby liked it as well. When I asked him, he said he didn't like the taste of those sold at restaurants. So yeah to home-cook version =D

I cooked half a batch and froze the rest, and I guess this dish will appear from time to time on my dining table from now onwards (may even sneak in more veg next time!).




Potato & Meat Croquette
(reference: Just one cookbook; makes 15 pieces)

Ingredients
  • 3 russet or Australian potato
  • 170g minced beef
  • 4 baby portobello mushroom, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 carrot, grated
  • Cooking oil, sea salt, small knob of butter
  • 1 egg, corn starch, breadcrumbs (I use Korean brand)
Steps
  1. Peel and slice the potato, steam over medium high heat for 10-15 mins till fork tender. (Alternatively boil the potato slices in water.). Drain and set aside.
  2. In a frying pan, heat about 1-2 tsp of cooking oil and saute onion till translucent and fragrant. Add minced beef, grated carrot and mushroom, cook till the beef just cooked (turned from red to brownish).
  3. Add a small knob of butter and 1/4 tsp of sea salt to the cooked potato, mash and mix well.
  4. Drain any juice from the cooked mixture in (2) and add to the mashed potato. Mix well.
  5. Wet the palms and take some mashed potato about the size of a golf ball, shape into a ball, then press gently to flatten slightly. *At this point, the croquette patties can be chilled or frozen till ready to use. Use baking/cooking sheets to separate each layer of patties and store in air-tight container.
  6. Coat each croquette patty with corn starch, beaten egg and finally breadcrumbs.
  7. Shallow-fry or deep fry the croquette till golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel.
  8. Best serve warm with tonkatsu sauce.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun

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My kiddo loves the "Ah Bian" aka Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun from Bread Talk very much, so this bread has been on my to-bake list for a long time. Just that I have been busy baking cakes for orders and obsessing over k-dramas :p.

Finally got down to baking it! Many of my blogger friends (Passionate about Baking, Peng's Kitchen, AtKokken) have already tried it, and there are also many recipes available on the internet; I'm indeed a slow coach :p.

Since this is a last minute decision, decided to use the 65°C Tang zhong (湯種) method (instead of water roux/yukone method which requires the starter dough to be pre-cooked and chilled for at least 1 day); have tried this Tang Zhong method before and the bread texture was not bad.

I made 2 batches (separately) because for the first batch I didn't dare to fill too much cream cheese filling and the proportion didn't turn out well, too much bread, too little filling. Taste-wise still ok, but not satisfying, so I had to make a second batch.


There are 4 parts to making this bread - (1) Tang Zhong (2) Cream cheese Filling (3) Cranberry (4) Bread dough - kneading, wrapping, proofing and baking. Several points to take note for each part which I will share.


First I started with the Tang Zhong because I needed to let it cool to room temperature before use. Basically 500g of water to 100g of bread flour, stir till well-mixed and cook over low heat until 65°C. I have a thermometer which helps a lot, otherwise cook till lines appear and the tang zhong looks like slightly thickened glue (not too thick else the bread will turn out too dry). Take off heat, cover with clingwrap and let it cool down. The tang zhong will yield more than enough to make at least 4 batches of bread; unused portions can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days or till it turns greyish. Avoid cutting down the proportion coz if cooked using lesser water, the water loss through evaporation might result in dryer tang zhong and affects the overall bread texture.

Next I prepared the cream cheese filling. Pretty straightforward, just blend cream cheese with icing sugar and milk till smooth. Transfer to a piping bag with round nozzle (actually can do without nozzle) and chill it. It's important to chill the filling so that it's easier to wrap later on.

Don't forget the dried cranberries. Rinse and soak them in water for at least 15 mins, then drain and squeeze dry.


The dough part. 3 sets of ingredients required. (A) Dry ingredients - bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and dry yeast. (B) Wet ingredients - Tang Zhong, water and egg. (C) Unsalted butter.

Mix all the dry and wet ingredients together and knead till gluten forms. I use my trusty KW mixer with dough hook. Then add slightly softened unsalted butter and knead till dough leaves the sides and bottom of mixer bowl. Finally, add the cranberries and knead for 1 min more. Shape the dough into a ball and place inside a slightly oiled large bowl, cover with clingwrap and proof for 40 mins/double in size.

I got about 600g of dough and divided them into 35g each (yield is 17 pieces of bread). Shape each piece into a ball, cover with clingwrap and then them rest for 10 mins.


The wrapping part. Take a piece of dough, flatten using rolling pin (if too sticky, dust with a bit of bread flour), pipe a generous dollop of cream cheese in the centre of the dough. Wrap and pitch tight to close the dough, make sure no cream cheese is leaking. Finally use the palm to flatten the dough (not too hard else the cream cheese will leak).


Final proofing. Use dark-coloured baking trays if possible so that the bread could be browned sufficiently during baking. I use my oven trays. Place a silpat mat or baking parchment on the baking tray and place the buns on top. Try to space them at least 2 cm apart as the buns will expand. I was too greedy here so my bread didn't turn out perfect with smooth round edges.

Place another silpat mat or baking parchment over the buns, and finally cover with another dark-coloured tray. Let the buns proof for about 40 mins. And finally bake them (yes with the buns sandwiched between the trays) at 210 degree celsius (top and bottom heat) for 12 mins.


Tadah! As a result of being too greedy and squeezing everything in just one tray, the bread didn't turn out perfect with smooth edges, they were joined at the sides.

Nonetheless, they were still ok to eat, just not too pretty to look at. Next time next time. Anyways, both hubby and kiddo gave thumbs up! The bread texture was still soft the next day.


Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun
(dough recipe from 65°C汤种面包 by Yvonne C. Cream cheese filling adapted from various internet sources.)

Ingredients

(A) Tangzhong

  • 100g bread flour
  • 500g water
  1. In a heavy bottom pot, combine bread flour with water until well-mixed.
  2. Heat the mixture over low fire, stirring continuously.
  3. Cook the mixture till 65°C (mixture will become thicker and gluey and visible lines will appear).
  4. Remove pot from heat, cover the top of the tangzhong mixture with clingwrap (to prevent drying out) and let the mixture cool completely before use.
 (B) Cream Cheese Filling
  • 250g cream cheese (I use 1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese), slighty softened
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 25g fresh milk
  1. Blend the cream cheese with icing sugar and fresh milk till smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to a piping bag and chill in fridge till ready to use.
(C) Cranberries
  • 60g dried cranberries
  1. Rinse and soak the dried cranberries in water for 15 mins.
  2. Drain and squeeze dry. Set aside.
 (D) Dough
  • 210g bread flour
  • 56 cake flour
  • 20g milk powder
  • 42 caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6g instant dry yeast
  • 84g tangzhong
  • 85g water
  • 30g whole egg
  • 22g unsalted butter
  1. Combine all the dry ingredients into a mixer bread. Avoid putting the yeast together with the salt.
  2. Add the wet ingredients (except butter) to the dry ingredients. Start mixing the ingredients on low speed using the dough hook.
  3. Once ingredients are combined, increase mixer speed to medium high.
  4. Once gluten forms, add the butter.
  5. Knead the dough at medium high speed until dough is elastic and smooth. Dough will leave the sides and bottom of bowl. To test if dough is ready, take a small piece of dough, stretch outwards into a rectangle. Dough will be elastic and translucent. When the dough breaks, the hole will be jagged.
  6. Add the cranberries and knead for 1 min.
  7. Tuck the dough neatly into a ball and place the dough into a large well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and leave to proof at room temperature for 40  mins or till dough doubles in size (in Singapore, room temperature is about 28 to 30 degree celsius with 70-80% humidity).
  8. To check if dough is proofed, coat forefinger with flour and stick into middle of dough and remove, if the hole remains, the dough is sufficiently proofed.
  9. Cut and weigh dough into desired sizes and tuck each dough into a ball (Dough weight is about 600g. I made 17 buns about 35g each). Let dough rest for 10 mins.
  10. Flatten each dough using a rolling pin (dust with a little bit of bread flour if needed, not too much), pipe a generous dollop of cream cheese in the centre of the dough. Wrap and pitch the dough to close, make sure cream cheese filling is well-covered. Gently flatten bun with palm.
  11. Place a silpat mat or baking parchment on top of a dark-coloured baking tray. Place the buns on top of the mat about 2cm apart from each other. Cover the buns with another silpat mat or baking parchment, then finally place another dark-coloured baking tray on top. Let proof for 40 mins.
  12. Preheat oven at 210 degree celsius (top and bottom heat).
  13. Bake the buns (as sandwiched between baking trays during proofing) for 12 mins at 210 degree celsius.
  14. Once baked, remove the trays from the oven and cool the buns on a wire rack.
  15. Once cooled, the buns should be kept in air-tight container to prevent drying.