My Singapore Pie 我的新加坡派 - A retro-fusion style chicken curry pie

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When I learnt that I was selected for the SCS Star Baker Challenge 4-Star Level, I was both elated and surprised because there were so many good entries and I seriously thought I had no chance. Then came the theme for the 4-Star Challenge, "Pie". I was at a loss of what to do because I'm not very familiar with pie, it's kind of America/British? I grew up in a typical chinese family and the only pies I knew were Chicken Pie and Apple Pie. Now that I bake, I slowly learn more about different types of pastry but I'm not really a pie person so didn't bake or ate much pie.

Well, I could in fact take this opportunity to bake sweet pies like lemon meringue pie, key lime pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate banana pie etc etc. But deep down in my heart I wanted something retro and infused with some modernity, which is in line with what I had done for my 2-Star and 3-Star Challenges.

After pondering for 2 days, this concept hit me. I was listening to some Xinyao 新谣 songs and 梁文福 《新加坡派》 came up. I like this song very much, feels so nostalgic. Since Singapore's National Day is approaching, how about creating a retro-fusion style pie that I can call "My Singapore Pie 我的新加坡派"?

Decided to make chicken curry pie because most Singaporeans so lovingly embraced chicken curry and since we are celebrating National Day, I could shape the pie into something like the traditional chinese pastry that we used to gift/receive during festivals and celebrations like birthdays and weddings.



I thought this concept was a pretty wild idea and I was actually doubting whether I could pull this off :p

I'm glad I pushed myself for this personal challenge. I thought the pies looked quite cool :p Haha, so paiseh to self-praise. They may not looked perfect but I did my best.

Seriously, it's not about the SCS Star Challenge anymore, it's about having a dream, this idea that lingered in my mind and seeing the concept came to fruition.

I cooked the chicken curry from scratch and made the pie using rough puff pastry (instead of short crust pastry) to make the pie flaky and crispy. It was a tough and tedious job and during the process I was wondering what I had gotten myself into :p

I planned the work process like this:
1) Weigh and cut the butter into cubes then chill for at least 30 mins. Weigh and sift the flour then chill for at least 30 mins.
2) Start making the rough puff pastry first. Make the first 2 turns and chill for 30 mins. *method illustrated below.
3) While waiting, prepare the chicken curry ingredients and set aside.
4) Make the next 2 turns for the rough puff pastry and chill for 30 mins.
5) While waiting, cook the chicken curry.
6) By the time the chicken curry is cooked, it's time for the last 2 turns of the rough puff pastry.
7) Chill the pastry for at least 1hr. Let the chicken curry cool down for 1hr.
8) Ready to assemble.


I cooked the curry with thicker and less gravy instead of the usual soupy type, so that it's easier to wrap in the pie. I think there was too much potato, could cut down the quantity.

Chicken Curry
(recipe with reference from Christoper Tan - Shiok!)

Ingredients
  • Spice paste:
  • 8 tbsp Chicken curry powder
  • 10 tbsp Water
  • 3 Purple onion, finely chopped
  • 10 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp Ginger, grated
  • 40 Curry leaves
  •  3 stalk Lemongrass, bottom white portion only, bruised
  • 140g Unsalted butter
  • 260g Chicken fillet, cut into bite size pieces
  • 250g Chicken thigh, cut into bite size pieces
  • 5pc Holland potato, cut into cubes
  • 1 pc Carrot, cut into cubes
  • 300g Coconut cream
  • 200g Water
  • 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
Steps
  1. Mix the chicken curry powder with water and stir into a thick paste.
  2. In a large pot on medium heat, add the butter and cook till very hot. Add the onion and stir fry for a few mins until they are slightly browned.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, curry leaves and lemongrass, and stir fry for a few mins.
  4. Add the chicken pieces, stir fry for 1 min, then add the potato and carrot cubes. 
  5. Add the coconut cream and water, stir and bring the ingredients to boil.
  6. Turn heat to low and cook the curry for 20-25 mins, stirring often to prevent burnt ingredients at bottom of pot.
  7. Once potato are tender, season with salt and off heat. Divide the curry into 2 portions, 1 for the big pie and remaining for mini pies. Let curry cool completely before use.
For the rough puff pastry:
First, add salt to the chilled flour and mix well. Then add the cubed butter into the flour, and press/mix them lightly into the flour. Add lemon juice and water, little by little and stir the dough gently. They will look crumbly. Turn the rough dough onto a well-floured pastry mat.

Bring the dough together using a scrapper to shape the dough. Dust the rolling pin and roll the dough into rectangle shape about 30cm by 20cm. Fold the bottom 1/3 of the dough up towards the centre. Fold the top 1/3 of the dough down towards the centre. This is turn 1. Rotate the dough 90 degree. And repeat the rolling and folding to complete turn 2. If the dough feels sticky at any point, dust with some flour. Clingwrap the dough and chill in fridge for at least 30 mins. To me, turn 1 and 2 is the toughest because the butter melts really quickly while bringing in the dough together and rolling/folding, as my kitchen is very warm.

After 30 mins, bring the dough out and once again roll the dough to about 30cm by 20cm. Fold 1/3 up and 1/3 down. This is turn 3. Repeat for turn 4. Clingwrap and chill for another 30 mins.

After 30 mins, once again repeat the steps for turn 5 and 6. Now chill the dough for least 1 hr.

After 1 hr, dough is ready to use. Divide the dough into 2 portions (625g for the big pie and remaining for the mini pies). While working on the big pie, leave the remaining dough in the fridge. Further divide the 625g into 2 portions, roll one portion of dough to about 2-3mm thickness and cut a circle slightly larger than the pie pan. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unwrap on top of the pie pan. Mould and shape the dough into the pan.

Scoop the chicken curry into the pie crust. Next, roll the other piece of dough into 2-3mm thickness, cut into circle slightly larger than pie pan. Wrap dough around rolling pan and unwrap dough on top of pan. Cover and wrap the top pie crust over the bottom pie crust, and tuck in the edges. Cut a vent in the middle of the large pie, brush with egg wash and bake the pie at 190 degree celsius (top and bottom heat) for 25-30 mins.

Similarly repeat the steps for the mini pies. I did 2 mini sizes, 5cm and 6cm. Cut small portions (about 100g) for working each time, leaving the remaining dough in the fridge. Use 8cm and 9cm cookie cutters to cut pie dough for both sizes of mini pies respectively. Mould the pie dough into the cases, scoop a heap tablespoon of chicken curry into the dough, fold in the edges of the dough, then cover with another piece of dough and tuck down and inwards. Repeat until no more pie dough or chicken curry. Brush the top of pie with some egg wash. Bake the mini pies at 190 degree celsius for 20 mins.

And tadah, the baked pies! The pies are ready to be eaten, painting characters on the pies is optional.

Prepare some red food colouring (diluting red food powder with some water to make a thick paste) and use a paintbrush to draw the chinese characters onto the pies.

Rough Puff Pastry
(recipe yields 1163g of dough - 625g for big pie and 538g for mini pies, reference from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
  • 454g Unsalted butter (2 blocks of SCS Butter)
  • 450g Plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 180g Ice cold water
  • 1 Egg (for egg wash)
Steps
  1. Cut the butter into cubes and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  2. Sift the flour and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  3. After 30 mins, add salt to the chilled flour and mix well.
  4. Add the cubed butter into the flour, and press/mix them lightly into the flour.
  5. Add lemon juice and water, little by little and stir the dough gently. They will look crumbly.
  6. Turn the rough dough onto a well-floured pastry mat. Bring the dough together, using a scrapper to fold and shape the dough.
  7. Dust the rolling pin and roll the dough into rectangle shape about 30cm by 20cm.
  8. Fold the bottom 1/3 of the dough up towards the centre.
  9. Fold the top 1/3 of the dough down towards the centre. This is turn 1.
  10. Rotate the dough 90 degree. Repeat Steps 7-9 to complete turn 2. If the dough feels sticky at any point, dust with some flour.
  11. Clingwrap the dough and chill in fridge for at least 30 mins.
  12. After 30 mins, bring the dough out and repeat Steps 7-9 two times to complete turn 3 and 4. Clingwrap and chill for another 30 mins.
  13. After 30 mins, bring the dough out and repeat Steps 7-9 two times to complete turn 5 and 6. This is the end. Clingwrap and chill for another 1hr.
  14. After 1hr, dough is ready to use.
Chicken Curry Pie
(Yields one 18cm large pie, seven 5cm mini pies, seven 6cm mini pies)

Ingredients
  • 1 recipe Rough Puff Pastry (625g for large pie, 538g for mini pies)
  • 1 recipe Chicken Curry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
  • Red food color powder & water *optional
  1. Divide the dough into 2 portions (625g for the big pie and remaining for the mini pies). While working on the big pie, leave the remaining dough in the fridge.
  2. Further divide the 625g into 2 portions, roll one portion of dough to about 2-3mm thickness and cut a circle slightly larger than the pie pan.
  3. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unwrap on top of the pie pan. Mould and shape the dough into the pan.
  4. Scoop the chicken curry onto the pie crust.
  5. Next, roll another piece of dough into 2-3mm thickness, cut into circle slightly larger than pie pan.
  6. Wrap dough around rolling pan and unwrap dough on top of pan. Cover and wrap the top pie crust over the bottom pie crust, and tuck in the edges.
  7. Cut a vent in the middle of the large pie, brush with egg wash and bake the pie at 190 degree celsius (top and bottom heat) for 25-30 mins. Once ready, remove from oven and cool on rack.
  8. Similarly repeat the steps for the mini pies. Cut small portions (about 100g) for working each time, leaving the remaining dough in the fridge.
  9. Use 8cm cutter for the 5cm pie and 9cm cutter for the 6cm pie.
  10. Mould the pie dough into the mini cases, scoop a heap tablespoon of chicken curry into the dough, fold in the edges of the dough, then cover with another piece of dough and tuck down and inwards. Repeat until no more pie dough or chicken curry. Brush the pies with egg wash.
  11. Bake the mini pies at 190 degree celsius for 20 mins. Once ready, remove from oven and cool on rack.
  12. To decorate the pies, dilute some red food colour powder with water into a thick paste and paint the characters onto the pies using a fine paintbrush. *optional step
  13. The pies are best eaten warm.

Love this big pie, so rustic looking.

The mini pies were quite cute as well :p

The pies were delicious, the crust was flaky, crispy and full of buttery fragrance and the chicken curry filling was aromatic with the coconut cream and spices. The chicken curry filling in the mini pies were slightly dry, probably coz of the size. But the large pie was ok, filling was creamy and thick.


I'm submitting this entry for the SCS Star Baker Challenge 4-star level. It doesn't matter whether I get into the final round or not, because I know I did my best here already. It was a tiring but enjoyable and fun process, I completed what I set out to do and that's what matters to me :)

Here, I'm dedicating "My Singapore Pie 我的新加坡派" to Singapore's 49th Birthday, and wishing everyone good fortune, HUAT ah! 恭贺新加坡建国49之喜, 祝愿大家福气满满, 發發發!

Boracay Calamansi Muffin - AFF Philippines Jul 2014

When reading the introduction by Swee San (The Sweet Spot) who is the host for this month's Asian Food Fest, she mentioned this Calamansi Muffin which is very famous in Boracay, Philippines.

I have not been to Boracay but it's definitely on my to-go vacation places list. I'm intrigued by this muffin, wondering how it would taste like, whether similar to lemon cake? Couldn't be flying all the way to Boracay eh? The best is to bake it myself to find out :)


Since I wasn't sure if I would like it, I halved the recipe and also reduced the amount of sugar. The method was pretty straightforward, creaming butter with sugar, followed by egg, then flour and milk/calamansi juice mixture alternately.


Boracay Calamansi Muffin
(makes 9 pieces small size muffins, recipe from pepper.ph)

Ingredients
  • 95g Plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh milk
  • 2 Tbsp Calamansi juice
  • 55g Unsalted butter, softened
  • 80g Caster sugar
  • 1 Egg (60g egg with shell)
Steps
  1. Preheat oven (top/bottom heat) at 175 degree celsius. Line muffin pan with paper cases. Set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Mix milk and calamansi juice together. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, about 2-3 mins.
  5. Add egg and mix till incorporated.
  6. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk/calamansi mixture.
  7. Fold to incorporate, do not overmix.
  8. Scoop batter into paper cases about 2/3 filled.
  9. Bake at 175 degree celsius for about 20 mins.
  10. Best serve warm

The muffin turned out pretty tender and yes I could taste a mild citrusy taste as I bit into it. Just as I was thinking, nothing spectacular, a sudden strong zing hit my taste bud. Oh hey, this was interesting, the zing came only after I swallowed the cake and not when I was chomping. I offered half a muffin to the kiddo and he had this weird expression after eating it and rejected my offer for more cake. But I must say, it was pretty addictive, this sudden zing. Well, if you are curious about this muffin, give it a try since it's so easy to bake and ingredients are very simple.



I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest – Philippines hosted by The Sweet Spot.

Meg's Pastry Studio - new namecards & 2nd Q orders

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Before I realised it, it's also July, the second quarter of the year has gone by in a flash once again! So, it's timely to share some of my cake orders in the 2Q (April to June). Didn't take as many orders as I could and had to turn down a few requests as I was busy and travelling a fair bit in June.

Anyways, before I begin, here are my new name cards that I made in May and only started giving out during the more recent orders. Initially I thought of doing a simple design and mass print the name cards but on second thoughts, I wanted something more personalised. Therefore, each and every piece is handmade :)

Basically there are 3 components to the name card. I made crochet hearts and flowers so that the name card could be used as a bookmark. I have some yarn left over from my crochet projects, this is a good way to use them up.

On one side of the card is a photo of one of my bakes.

And on the other side is a hand-drawn logo with my website and email. So hopefully those who receive my name cards cum bookmark will keep and use it.

On to my bakes. Yes, mostly sponge, ombre or rainbow cakes :)

This was an order from a dear friend, C, who has been ever so supportive of my cakes. Looked simple and elegant on the outside, but inside were 5-layers of rainbow :)

This was an order from a friend I got to know from my yoga class. The cake was celebrating her daughter's birthday.

This was an order from hubby's former classmate. She wanted something simple for her son's birthday. So I made a 3-layer sponge cake and helped her get a batman topper which his son likes.


Made this for my yoga teacher's birthday. A slightly different design with 2 orange-pink ombre sponge layers and sandwiched with chantilly cream and strawberries, decorated with blueberries.

This was quite a large cake for a lady's 21st birthday. The theme for her birthday was blue so she requested for blue ombre shades for the cake. I also made a cake bunting for her. Usually I'm very reluctant to do blue shades because the cake batter doesn't take blue colouring very well. In fact, I re-did 2 layers because the colours didn't come out well.

Another lychee ombre cake order. I like the top view of this cake, the piped frosting looked like lace scallop here.

This was an order for a lady celebrating her son's birthday. I made a cake bunting for her as well. As the Korea strawberry season was long over, I could only get USA strawberries which were big and not so pretty. These few were the nicer of the lot. I should have gotten Japanese strawberries or raspberries instead.

A big thank you to all my friends and customers who placed their orders with me and trusted me :)

Retro-style Butter Cake 复古风牛油蛋糕

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I wasn't a big fan of butter cakes, probably coz the ones I had before were dry with rough textures and tasted rather stale. This bad impression of butter cakes stuck with me for the longest time until I saw many of my blogger friends raved about a "Mrs Ng SK Butter Cake" that's moist with a finer texture. The method used in this recipe is important and good butter is also key to the success (of course, since it's a BUTTER cake). I was curious and baked it once and indeed it tasted rich and fragrant yet tender, changing my perception of butter cakes. That said, I seldom bake it coz it's a very sinful cake loaded with lots of butter, sugar and eggs! If I were to bake it often, I wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to eat more than I should :p

Anyways, I mentioned previously that I'm currently participating in the SCS Dairy Singapore Star Baker Challenge, and I'm pleased to announce that I'm selected for the 3-Star Challenge! Yeah =D The theme is "Cakes" and I have one week to submit my photo and recipe.


I couldn't decide on which cake to bake, should I go for my favourites, Strawberry Ombre Cake, Rainbow Fruit Shortcake or Lychee Ombre Cake? Then my FB friends Wendy and Lynette suggested that I could perhaps try something with an emphasis on butter and "Mrs Ng SK Butter Cake" came to my mind. And since I like to play with ombre shades, I could try adapting this butter cake as well! So far, I've been using white cake base and genoise sponge base for my rainbow and ombre cakes, using butter cake base would be a new challenge!


And instead of decorating the usual whole cake, I decided to slice them into rectangle pieces and decorate each slice with butter cream, something like those old-school wedding cakes that we used to eat in the 70s and 80s. The cake turned out how I envisioned it to be, sort of retro-style with a modern touch and I like it very much, in terms of both look and taste :)

This particular cake recipe adopts the "chiffon method" of separating the egg yolks and whites; first creaming the butter with sugar, follow by addition of egg yolk, then alternating with flour and milk, and finally folding the batter with egg white meringue. This method gives the butter cake a more tender texture than the usual method.

The challenges here are (1) dividing the main batter into 3 portions and colour 2 of them orange and pink - had to do it quick because didn't want the butter batter to turn too soft (2) dividing the egg white meringue into 3 portions and folding them into the coloured batters respectively - it's tough to fold the egg white meringue into the very thick and luscious butter batter, doing it swiftly yet not deflating the meringue too much. 

Luckily the cake layers turned out quite ok, except that the pink layer was slightly flatter than the other 2.

For the butter cream, I just went for the straightforward classic American butter cream (by Magnolia Bakery) instead of Swiss Meringue or French. But realised that the amount of icing sugar used was alarming, had to reduce by half and still I found it saccharine sweet! Wendy advised me to add some lemon juice to level the sweetness but by that time it was already done :( Oh well, next time!

Used some of the butter cream for the cake layers and top and the remaining tinted to green, pink and dark pink.
Tadah, the cake slices! I know, they were not uniform and I even smeared a few :(
By then I was sweating profusely and rushing for time. #excuses

Anyways, both hubby and kiddo gave thumbs up for the cake and they didn't think it was too sweet?! Probably coz I take very little sugar these days and no longer sweet tooth? After a long day in the kitchen working on this, I was just glad that I managed to pull this off.


Retro-style Butter Cake
(makes one 6" cake, or 10 slices)

Butter cake ingredients
  • 250g Salted butter (1 block SCS Salted Butter), cubed and slightly softened
  • 200g Eggs (about 3-4)
  • 150g + 50g Caster sugar
  • 200g Plain flour
  • 2 tsp + 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 62g Fresh milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Wilton icing gel, orange and pink
Steps
  1. Preheat oven at 170 degree celsius, conventional mode. Prepare 3 x 7" square pan. Grease and line the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together, making sure they are well mixed.
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and 150g sugar using paddle attachment on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks one by one, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add vanilla extract until incorporated.
  7. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, until just incorporated.
  8. The main batter weighs about 712g, divide into 3 portions, each about 237g. Using toothpicks to pick up the icing gel colours, tint 2 portions of batter to desired colour tones. (The remaining portion is yellow and not necessary to tint). Set aside.
  9. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites using whisk attachment on high speed until foamy. Add 50g sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks.
  10. The meringue weighs about 199g, divide into 3 portions, each about 66g.
  11. FOLD each portion of meringue into each portion of main batter, GENTLY and SWIFTLY, until incorporated.
  12. Pour the 3 portions of batter into the prepared baking pans and level.
  13. Bake for 20 mins at 170 degree celsius, then another 15 mins at 150 degree celsius. Transfer the cake layers to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Butter cream ingredients
(reference: http://www.marthastewart.com/255817/magnolia-bakery-vanilla-buttercream)

  • 227g Unsalted butter (1 block SCS Unsalted butter), cubed and slightly softened
  • 300g Icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp Fresh milk
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Wilton icing gel, pink and green
Steps
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, half of the icing sugar, fresh milk and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed at first (to prevent icing sugar from splattering), then medium speed using paddle attachment until smooth and creamy.
  2. Gradually add remaining sugar (switch to low speed), and continue beating on medium speed until icing reaches desired consistency.
  3. Reserve half of the butter cream for frosting the cake. Divide the remaining into 3 portions and tint to desired colours.
  4. Spread the butter cream on the cake layers and top. Transfer to fridge to let the cake set for 15-20 mins.
  5. Trim the 4 sides of the cake. Then cut the cake into10 slices.
  6. Decorate the slices using the tinted butter cream.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Ok, will be sending this photo and recipe to the SCS Dairy Singapore Star Baker 3-Star Challenge! Only 25 participants will be selected for the 4-Star Challenge, and frankly I don't have much confidence lah. It doesn't matter to me anyway coz I join just for fun only :p Nevertheless crossing my fingers and wish me luck =D And also, big thanks to all my friends who encouraged me and gave me lots of ideas and tips!

Chicken Adobo - AFF Philippines Jul 2014

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For the month of July, Asian Food Fest (AFF) has moved on to Philippines. Although there are quite a number of Filipino migrants in SG now working in different fields such as healthcare, F&B, retail, IT, banking and domestic helpers etc etc, I hardly know any folks close enough to try the cuisine; moreover I grew up without domestic helper and didn't engage one now either.

So I'm totally unfamiliar with Filipino cuisine! Could only rely on internet resources for introductions and recipes. After reading through the introduction by Swee San (The Sweet Spot) who is the host for this month's AFF, I decided to try one of the easiest recipe, Chicken Adobo, supposedly a very traditional Filipino dish. 

Ingredients are really simple with chicken, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, peppercorn and vinegar. Steps are quick and easy as well and I found some resemblance to chinese and western cuisine, sort of like a fusion. The addition of vinegar towards the end is a surprise but it is this touch of vinegar that makes this dish so unique and addictive. I added a bit of dark soy sauce for some colour when I realised the original somehow looked much darker.


Chicken Adobo
(serves 2-3 pax, recipe adapted from Panlasang Pinoy)

Ingredients
  • 3 chicken thigh (about 700g), chop into small pieces
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3 pcs bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
Steps
  1. Marinate chicken with soy sauce and crushed garlic for at least 3hrs or overnight. Before cooking, take out the chicken from chiller for about 30 mins.
  2. In a pot, heat up the cooking oil on medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and fry all sides till they are slightly browned.
  3. Add the remaining marinate sauce and water into the pot and bring the mixture to boil.
  4. Add bay leaves, sugar, peppercorn and dark soy sauce. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 20-30 mins.
  5. Add vinegar and cook for another 5-10 mins, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add salt to taste (I didn't) and off heat.
  7. Best serve hot with rice.

I really enjoyed this dish, especially the sauce which is savory with nuances of vinegar. Couldn't help eating more rice because of the sauce! Even the kiddo likes the sauce and asked for more in his rice. This recipe is a keeper and I'll definitely cook it again from time to time.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest – Philippines hosted by The Sweet Spot.

Iced Gems II 糖霜饼干 II

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Following the success of the Iced Gems that I made last week, I decided to make another batch using a different recipe from Cherry on a Cake. I have some royal icing left anyway, and I had promised my kiddo to let him try on it.


I found this biscuit recipe much easier to handle than the one I used earlier. The dough is pliable but not sticky, making it so much easier to stamp the biscuits and best of all, I didn't even need to chill the dough. However, the biscuit would rise and lose its shape a little during baking because baking powder is used.

This biscuit is more rustic, dry and plain, and pretty tasteless since no sugar is added. So in fact, it matched the sugary icing really well. Now I couldn't decide which recipe I prefer, the other is more buttery and fragrant, whereas this is more rustic. I guess this recipe would be easier for beginners who are keen to make iced gems.


Ingredients used were slightly different. Plain flour, baking powder, salt, butter and milk (previous recipe used plain flour, butter, sugar, egg and golden syrup).

Method is pretty much the same as previous recipe, except that the dough could be used immediately without chilling at all. Stamping the biscuit dough was so much easier and faster. But baking time was slightly longer in order to fully cook the dough.

Iced Gems 糖霜饼干
(yields about 98-100 biscuits, recipe adapted from Cherry on a Cake)

Biscuit recipe
  •  115g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 40g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 45g milk (up to 70g if needed)
  1. Sift plain flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  2. Add cold cubed unsalted butter into the flour mixture, use the fingers to press the butter cubes into the flour until it resembles coarse sand.
  3. Add milk little by little and mix the dough using spatula till smooth. Add more milk if dough is too dry.
  4. Roll the dough into 3mm thickness and stamp the dough into desired shapes.
  5. Place the biscuit dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper/silpat mat. Bake at 180 degree celsius (fan mode) for 15 minutes till golden brown. Let the biscuits cool down completely before piping the icing.
*Please refer to my previous post on royal icing recipe.

I let the kiddo try stamping the dough and piping the icing and he had fun especially the icing part. And he couldn't stop licking the icing and munching on the biscuits!

Vietnamese Sugarcane Shrimp (Chao Tom) - AFF IndoChina Jun 2014

At the start of AFF IndoChina beginning June, I had bookmarked this particular Vietnamese Sugarcane Shrimp recipe because it looks so yummy and I love shrimps and sugarcane. So throughout the month, I was looking out for sugarcane. The vegetable stores at the wet market do sell them in a bundle of half a dozen, but I only needed one. I guess many people buy the sugarcane to brew herbal drink, but I didn't want to brew any. I could probably go to a sugarcane drink stall to buy a stick of sugarcane, but hesitated coz I wasn't sure if the store owners would sell it me :p Or I could use lemongrass as replacement as suggested by the recipe.

I just kept procrastinating and sort of gave up on the idea. Until yesterday. Was at Bollywood Veggies at Kranji Countryside for lunch and they had a makeshift stall selling farm produce. Sugarcane was on sale at 2 for $1. Initially I wanted to buy, then once again hesitated coz I didn't know if I could split the sugarcane into small sticks required for the dish. Anyways, I bought some vegetables and when paying, the kind store owner gave me a stick of sugarcane! So sweet and nice of her :)

And so, I managed to make this Vietnamese Sugarcane Shrimp after all. Since I only wanted to make this for the fun of it and to find out about the taste, decided to make just 6 sticks using about 12 shrimp. Basically, chop up the shrimp, blend with marinate ingredients, chill for 30 mins, shape onto the sugarcane, steam for a few minutes and finally pan-fry (or air-fry). Sounds simple enough :)


Started off with preparing the sugarcane sticks. It wasn't that difficult after all. First hold the sugarcane vertically, use a sharp knife to cut into the top part of the skin then chop downward, the skin would just split by itself. Likewise for the sugarcane flesh, simply cut into the top part, chop downwards and the flesh would split by itself. Lengthwise, it's quite easy to cut through once each stick is slim. In no time, I had more than a dozen sugarcane sticks.

Next, proceeded to make the shrimp paste. Just deshell and devein the shrimp, and combine them with salt, cornstarch, palm sugar, black pepper, fish sauce, egg, garlic, shallot and olive oil. Blend into a coarse paste and chill the paste for about 30 mins. Then shape the paste onto the sugarcane sticks and steam on high heat for about 3-4 mins. And finally grill or pan-fry the sugarcane shrimp.

 I made 2 versions after steaming the sugarcane shrimp, 3 sticks were pan-fried in a frying pan.

And the remaining 3 sticks into the Airfryer. Could see that both yielded slightly different results in terms of appearance.

The sugarcane shrimps that were pan-fried were slightly more fragrant but the texture was softer. Whereas the ones that were air-fried were dryer with firmer texture. I enjoyed both versions, could taste the sweetness of the succulent shrimp. The fun part was chewing on the sugarcane and sucking the juice after eating the shrimp ball. Was too lazy to make the traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce to go along, instead I just ate the sugarcane shrimp on its own (it was flavourful enough) as well as with some thai sweet chilli sauce. I believe this traditional Vietnamese appetiser would be very popular as finger food if served at parties. Probably could add some water chestnut or coriander roots/leaves to make it even more crunchy and flavourful. Next time, if I couldn't get any sugarcane, I would give lemongrass sticks a try!

Vietnamese Sugarcane Shrimp (Chao Tom)
(recipe from Vietworld Kitchen, makes 6 sticks)
  • 12 pc medium size shrimp (about 230g), deshell and devein
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cloves shallot
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Place the shrimp and the rest of the ingredients into an electric chopper and blend into a coarse shrimp paste. Chill the shrimp paste for at least 30 mins.
  2. To make the sugarcane shrimp, first wet the hands. Take a ball of shrimp paste and place onto the palm. place a sugarcane stick in the middle and wrap the shrimp paste around the sugarcane stick.
  3. Steam the sugarcane shrimp on high heat for about 3-4 mins. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. To pan-fry, heat a tsp of olive oil on medium low fire, place 3 sticks of sugarcane shrimp onto the pan and pan-fry till golden brown.
  5. To air-fry, place sugarcane shrimp into the air-fryer, air-fry for 8 mins at 180 degree celsius.
  6. Serve warm with Vietnamese dipping sauce or thai sweet chilli sauce.



I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest – IndoChina hosted by Kelly Siew Cooks