Ombre Strawberry Shortcake - Sunday Times feature

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WOOHOO! I've been featured on The Sunday Times Life Section =D Really excited and blessed to be given this opportunity :)

I have been baking genoise sponge layer cakes for 3 years now and created colour variations such as rainbow and ombre as well as different flavours like vanilla, lychee, mango and rose, in varied number of layers and sizes. More pics can be found in Meg's Pastry Studio.

So far I've not shared the recipe as my method is slightly tedious and somewhat difficult to explain in words and steps (I only shared my roll cake recipe which uses the same sponge recently). Ok, I'm just being lazy and always procrastinating. There are just too many recipes to work on and share.

Anyways, this opportunity to finally write the recipe comes about when Kenneth Goh, Food Writer from The Straits Times emailed me and asked if I would like to feature any of my bakes in the weekly column of The Sunday Times Life Section. Actually there's a back story behind this. He emailed me back in Jan to feature my Bake Cheese Tart recipe, but I totally missed that email! I only replied some 2 weeks later but by then he has already approached another baker. Oh well. However, he was really nice and asked if I would like to share another bake. After some discussion, we settled on this Ombre Strawberry Shortcake since Korean strawberry's in season and the cake looks all pretty and pink :)


I shared before that my passion for rainbow and ombre cakes first started when my kiddo was 3 years old and he requested for a rainbow cake for his birthday. Back then I didn't bake layer cakes so I searched online and used a white-cake base recipe (basically 1 single batter, divide into portions, add colouring and bake). Although the cake looked pleasant aesthetically, I didn't like the taste and texture which was too sweet and dense.

Personally I love Japanese-style Strawberry Shortcake (I'm a big Japan fan) so I began exploring ways of improving my cake through many trial and error. Chanced upon a roll cake that used Japanese genoise sponge and decided to adapt it for my rainbow and ombre cakes.



This ombre (meaning gradual shares of colour) strawberry shortcake is thus a marriage of rainbow cake concept with Japanese-style Strawberry Shortcake.

The genoise sponge uses just 5 basic ingredients, flour, sugar, butter, eggs and milk without the use of any chemicals or additives. It's amazing how through the technique itself, these simple ingredients can create a cake with moist and tender texture.

For the filling and frosting, I use chantilly cream, which is whipping cream with mascarpone cheese and icing sugar (which can be adjusted for sweetness level). The cream is once again very light and slightly creamy and when paired with genoise sponge, makes the cake really delectable.

The cake received positive feedback from friends and family members who commented that it's tender, moist and not too sweet. Even young kids, elderly and folks who don't eat cream cakes enjoyed it :)

 

Baking this cake is not difficult, just tedious. Because each layer is prepared and baked individually i.e. prep ingredients for 1 layer, send into oven and bake, then the next layer and the next, depending on the number of colour layers desired. Basically, it's tedious because of the colour. If just a single colour, I can prepare 1 batter, divide into portions and bake or bake in a single big sheet and use cutter to stamp the desired size.

So now, the question many would ask, why must the different colour layers be baked individually? Why not divide 1 batter into portions and colour the portions? Because this is a genoise sponge which is very delicate, if I do that, I risk the batter deflating by the time I divide the portions and mix the colour and the cake would turn out dense and not as soft as it should be. 

Troublesome? Yes. Stupid? Maybe. But since this works for me so far, why not? Until I have time to trial and error again to improve the method further.

Recipe is right below, sorry no step-by-step photos because I need to work fast for this cake (otherwise affect the texture); I work alone so no extra hands or time to take work-in-progress photos.




Ombre Strawberry Shortcake
(6” round, 3 layers of pastel yellow, orange and pink, serves 6-8 slices)
    Ingredients
    A. Genoise Sponge Cake (for each layer i.e. 3 layers, prepare 3 times)
    • 10g unsalted butter, melted
    • 28g cake/top flour (I use Japanese Nissen Violet flour), sifted twice
    • 30g caster sugar (I use Japanese Jyohakuto sugar)
    • 1 ½ tsp fresh milk
    • 56g eggs without shell (1 large egg 64-65g with shell)
    • Few drops of vanilla extract (I use Nielsen Massey)
    • Gel paste, orange and pink (I use Wilton gel paste)
    B. Chantilly Cream filling, frosting and decoration (enough to fill and frost the cake, with a little extra)
    • 50g water + 1 tbsp sugar to make syrup
    • 500g dairy whipping cream
    • 150g mascarpone cheese
    • 20g icing sugar *adjusted to taste
    • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
    • 10-12 strawberries, sliced thinly (for filling)
    • 12-15 strawberries, some whole and some halved (for decor)
    • Mirror gel, for glazing
    • Mint leaves and blueberries, for décor
    Steps
    A. Genoise Sponge Cake

    1. Preheat oven at 180 degree celsius, top and bottom heat (conventional). Line a 6" baking pan with baking parchment. Set aside.
    2. Add sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl, whisk lightly and place bowl in simmering water (bain marie). Whisk until sugar has melted and the mixture is hot to touch.
    3. Remove bowl from hot water, transfer to eletric mixer and beat the mixture at high speed for 10 seconds. Stop mixer, pick up a drop of gel paste using a toothpick and add to the mixture. Continue to beat the mixture at high speed. Stop to add more gel paste if necessary (use a new toothpick each time to avoid contaminating the gel paste). *skip this step for the original pastel yellow colour
    4. Beat the mixture until slightly thicker than ribbon stage (batter flows slowly and rest on top).
    5. Turn the speed to lowest and add milk to the batter, mix for 30 seconds.
    6. Add vanilla extract to the batter, mix for 30 seconds.
    7. Add the flour in 2 additions, each time mixing for 15 seconds.
    8. Take out a scoop of batter, add it to the bowl of melted butter, fold until blended. Pour this butter mixture into the batter bowl. FOLD the batter gently until just incorporated.
    9. Pour batter into the centre of lined baking pan. Knock the tray a few times on kitchen counter to remove any trapped air bubble.
    10. Bake for 11-12 mins at 180 degree celsius.
    11. Remove pan from oven and let it cool for 5 mins.
    12. Remove cake from pan, place it on wire rack. Place another wire rack on top of the cake, then turn the cake over to remove parchment paper. Turn the cake over again, cover with the paper and let it cool down completely before frosting.
    13. Remove steps 2 to 15 for each layer of cake.

    **This is specifically created for individual colour layers of cake. For just 1 single colour, refer to my roll cake recipe and use cake ring/cutter to stamp the layers, or use 3 times quantity and divide into 3 baking pans.

    B. Chantilly Cream filling, frosting and decoration
    1. Chill mixing bowl and whisk in fridge for at least 30 mins.
    2. Add whipping cream and mascarpone cheese into chilled mixing bowl, whisk on high speed, add icing sugar gradually, then vanilla extract, beat till stiff peak.
    3. Place one layer of cake onto a 9” cake board. Brush top of the cake with syrup.
    4. Spread 1 scoop of Chantilly cream onto the cake, spreading it evenly.
    5. Lay sliced strawberries onto the cream. Spread another scoop of Chantilly cream and spreading it evenly to cover the strawberry slices.
    6. Repeat steps 4 to 7 for the next layer of cake.
    7. Place the last layer of cake on top, brush with syrup.
    8. Spread the Chantilly cream onto the sponge cake covering the top and sides of the cake.
    9. Fill a piping bag fitted with cake icer tip with Chantilly cream. Frost the sides and top of the cake evenly.
    10. Use a bench scrapper and angled spatula to smoothen the sides and top of the cake.
    11. Arrange whole and halved strawberries on top of the cake. Glaze the strawberries with glazing gel and decorate with mint leaves.
    12. Store cake in cake box and chill overnight to set the cake.
    13. Cake is best served slightly chilled.

    And here's The Sunday Times article (click to enlarge). The recipe in the newspaper differs slightly as the Editor included more details (with my input) and full quantity (x 3 layers) for the genoise sponge (whereas the recipe above is for per layer). The online edition of this article can be found here.


    Petite Hanjuku Cheesecake

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    I first bought the Hanjuku Cheesecake from Lavender Bakery in JB (Malaysia) a few years back; the cake is bite-size with a mild cheesy and creamy taste and melt-in-the-mouth texture, and my kiddo loved it very much! The thing is we go to Malaysia only once in a while so don't get to eat it as often as we like to.


    At the back of my mind, I was thinking of baking it at home but have been procrastinating for the longest time! Subsequently, I even chanced upon a mini cheesecake pan with removable bottom and bought it for this purpose (well, it can be used for quiche and other mini bakes too #excusetobuy) but still didn't get into action. Too many things on my to-bake and to-cook list lah :p

    Finally decided to research on recipes and customize one for my specific needs. And as I was browsing the internet, I realised there's a Pastry Snaffle's (from Hakodate) in Singapore (Plaza Singapura) which sells this cake, and Komugi Cafe in Malaysia as well. Note to self: must try the Snaffle's cheesecake one of these days.

    Back to recipe researching. Most of the recipes offer full-size cakes but I want bite-size petite cakes as it's easier to eat and store. So yep, I have to make adjustments and do test-bakes once again, reminds me of my Bake Cheese Tarts test-bakes -_-". In the process, I found this cake more challenging than the Bake Cheese Tarts :( (will explain why below).


    So basically I adjusted the recipe such that the steps are very similar to my Bake Cheese Tarts, melting and mixing the key ingredients of cream cheese, unsalted butter, yogurt, whipping cream, egg yolk, corn starch and lemon juice together. The difference is, the egg whites are whipped separately with sugar and then folded into the batter, this step is crucial to create the airiness in the cake, the melt-in-the-mouth texture. Next difference is, the cakes are baked using bain-marie method, i.e. hot water bath, in order to have this half-baked creamy texture inside the cake, at low temperature and much longer time.


    Baked 4 batches so far. The above was my very first batch which yielded 19 cakes and out of which, only these 6 passed the test in terms of looks. Taste-wise, they were what I'm looking for, mild cheesy and creamy. Texture-wise also good, moist and melt-in-the-mouth.

    But the thing is I have to adjust the recipe to 12 cakes to fit my baking pan, plus there was another issue why I will explain below.


    Test-bake batch 1
    • Recipe yielded 19 cakes, too much for my 12-hole baking pan, thus have to adjust recipe.
    • No choice have to bake 7 of them in cupcake cases like this and hence, the cake is dried-up with cracks. Thus, it's important that the cakes must be baked submerged in water.
    • Of the 12, I lined only 6 with baking paper to test if it's ok not to line pan (because it's supposed to be a non-stick pan). The cakes without lining stuck a bit to the sides and not very nice when removed.
    • I forgot to line the baking pan with aluminum foil and some water sipped in (the bottoms of each hole are removable), as a result, the cakes got a little wet. The ones lined with baking paper are surprisingly ok, overall moist and very nice shape (I used these for my feature photo). The ones without lining are quite wet though and plus clinging to the sides of the pan, so fail.
    Test-bake batch 2
    • Adjusted recipe to fit 12. Checked.
    • This time, lined the baking tray with aluminum foil. Checked.
    • Lined 8 cakes with baking paper and 4 without because I wanted to test again whether the cake can be removed easily (batch 1 was affected because of the water sipping in). 
    * The ones without baking paper cracked and cannot be removed properly, and hence it's a must to line each hole.
    * The 8 cakes turned out ok, but but some of them cracked on the surface and shrunk in the middle. Was it because of oven temperature or baking time, or the overwhipped egg whites?



    Test-bake batch 3
    • Lined baking pan with aluminum foil and all 12 holes with baking paper.
    • Shortened baking time at same temperature.
    • Still, some cakes cracked on the surface, and middle sections shrunk a bit. Overall a bit dry on the outside. Inside is ok.
    Test-bake batch 4
    • Lower oven temperature, and increased baking time. 
    • Whipped egg whites to just before soft-peak stage (meringue still flows a bit).
    • This time, all the cakes turned out nice with no cracking tops. Texture and taste also good.
    • But the middle section still shrunk a little bit (top looks ok)!
    * I still think that the best result was batch 1 where I didn't line the pan with aluminum foil and some water sipped in. The 6 cakes were in perfect shape. Or is it this baking pan problem that heat couldn't be conducted properly?
    *Next round, I want to try not lining with aluminum foil again to see the results.
    *Yet to test bake using muffin/cupcake pan (without removable bottom), so will want to test that as well! But the theory should be the same, line the muffin pan with cases, place the whole pan into a deep baking tray, fill with hot water and bake in hot-water bath.

    Sorry for the long-winded rant. Below I shall show the baking steps and ingredients proper.



    • 140g cream cheese
    • 20g unsalted butter
    • 28g Greek yogurt
    • 22g whipping cream
    • 21g egg yolk
    • 11g corn starch 
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    1. Combine cream cheese, unsalted butter, yogurt and whipping cream in a pot/heat-proof bowl over a bigger pot with barely simmering water. Stir till just melted and combined. Do not overcook.
    2. Add egg yolk and quickly stir to just combine. Do not overcook.
    3. Remove from heat and add sifted corn starch. Stir till combine. Add lemon juice. Stir till combine.

    4. Sift the batter to remove any clumps. Set aside.

    • 56g egg white
    • 35g caster sugar
    5. In an electric mixer, beat egg whites using whisk attachment on high speed till foamy and gradually add in sugar. Beat till just before soft-peak stage. The meringue lops when whisk is lifted but still flows back. If overwhipped, risk of cake cracking during baking.
    6. Fold the egg white meringue gently into the batter in 3 additions, till just combined. Do not overfold.
    7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan set inside another deep baking tray. If using pans with removable bottoms, line pan with aluminum foil. Line each hole of the pan with baking paper as well.
    8. Place the entire set of baking tray into preheated oven. Add hot water into the tray till 2/3 height of the baking tray. Bake at 140 degree celsuis top/bottom heat for 50-55 mins. After that, leave the tray inside the oven to cool down till warm to touch before removing from oven. Remove the cakes from the baking pan. The cakes can be eaten warm, at room temperature or best chilled.

    *The cakes will shrink a little because there's very little structure (corn starch) to support it. Leaving the cakes to cool down in the oven will help minimise the shrinkage (shock in difference in temperature).
    *Yet to test bake using muffin/cupcake pan (without removable bottom), but theory should be the same, line the muffin pan with cases, place the whole pan into a deep baking tray, fill with hot water and bake in hot-water bath. After baking, let the cakes cool inside the oven.

    Bought this cute little branding iron stamp from Kappabashi-dori in Tokyo few years ago. This is used traditionally by the Japanese for their confectionery and sweets. I was super tempted to buy this long ago but the traditional ones cost a lot like 8000 yen and up. Recent years they introduced cheaper versions (probably different material) for homebakers like 1500-2000 yen so I quickly grabbed!

    The cakes should be stamped after cool down for a nice imprint. Just heat up the iron stamp using stove fire then press gently, there will be a sizzling sound. (I baked my last batch of cakes late night and stamped this morning. Some bits of cake came off and the imprint isn't nice, probably due to moisture on the cake).

    This is the baking pan I used. Bought it at Kitchen Capers few years back during their sale. Each hole is 5cm in diameter, with removable bottom piece. Somehow the non-stick property doesn't work well with this cake. Got to test it with other bakes next time.


    Petite Hanjuku Cheesecake
    (makes 12 petite-size cakes, about 4cm diameter *some shrinkage)
     Ingredients
    • 140g cream cheese
    • 20g unsalted butter
    • 28g Greek yogurt
    • 22g whipping cream
    • 21g egg yolk
    • 11g corn starch
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • 56g egg white
    • 35g caster sugar
    Steps
    1. Combine cream cheese, unsalted butter, yogurt and whipping cream in a pot/heat-proof bowl over a bigger pot with barely simmering water. Stir till just melted and combined. Do not overcook.
    2. Add egg yolk and quickly stir to just combine. Do not overcook.
    3. Remove from heat and add sifted corn starch. Stir till combine. Add lemon juice. Stir till combine.
    4. Sift the batter to remove any clumps. Set aside.
    5. In an electric mixer, beat egg whites using whisk attachment on high speed till foamy and gradually add in sugar. Beat till just before soft-peak stage. The meringue lops when whisk is lifted but still flows back. If overwhipped, risk of cake cracking during baking.
    6. Fold the egg white meringue gently into the batter in 3 additions, till just combined. Do not overfold.
    7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan set inside another deep baking tray. If using pans with removable bottoms, line pan with aluminum foil. Line each hole of the pan with baking paper as well.
    8. Place the entire set of baking pan/tray into preheated oven. Add hot water into the tray till 2/3 height of the baking tray. Bake at 140 degree celsuis top/bottom heat for 50-55 mins. After that, leave the tray inside the oven to cool down till warm to touch before removing from oven. Remove the cakes from the baking pan. The cakes can be eaten warm, at room temperature or best chilled.
    *The cakes will shrink a little because there's very little structure (corn starch) to support it. Leaving the cakes to cool down in the oven will help minimise the shrinkage (shock in difference in temperature).
    *Yet to test bake using muffin/cupcake pan (without removable bottom), but theory should be the same, line the muffin pan with cases, place the whole pan into a deep baking tray, fill with hot water and bake in hot-water bath. After baking, let the cakes cool inside the oven.




    This is the last batch (batch 4) that I baked late last night. Stamped the imprint this morning but it didn't work well due to moisture. The cake looks nice on the surface but the sides have shrunk a little.

    Frankly still not happy with the result. While I have achieved my desired results in terms of taste (creamy mild cheesy) and texture (light moist melt-in-the-mouth), I'm not satisfied with the looks. I want it to look like the ones in batch 1.

    I guess it's back to the scribbling pad and more test bakes again! So upcoming, I will test another batch, and if time allows using a normal muffin/cupcake baking pan lined with muffin case to see how it will turn out.

    Well, the thing is I'm super busy next few days with a few projects and travelling next week. Hopefully can squeeze in sometime!  Till then!

    Kueh Dadar

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    I've always been keen to make traditional Nyonya/Malay kuehs like Kueh Kosui, Kueh Lapis Sagu, Kueh Sarlat etc because they look so colourful and yummy, but apart from Ondeh Ondeh, I kept procrastinating!

    One of the kuehs I wanted to make was Kueh Dadar and my excuse was I don't have a shallow pan or crepe pan to make the skin wrap. Well, I've been eyeing a crepe pan but once again kept procrastinating because I don't want to have another white elephant in my kitchen. But without a crepe pan, I cannot make crepes and such right? Ok fine, lame excuses.

    Finally got my hands on a crepe pan, thanks to a friend CT who got me an irresistible discount :) #nomoreexcuses


    My go-to recipe is definitely the one by Alan of Travelling-Foodies. He provided very comprehensive details on preparing the inti (filling) as well as videos of how to make and cook the skin wrap, which makes the process much easier to follow.


    But before I get started on making the kueh proper, I have to make pandan extract first as I don't feel like buying pandan paste off the shelf. There are many websites and videos showing how to do homemade pandan extract so I shall not go into details. Basically I used 3 stalks of pandan (with around 30+ leaves), blended with 200-250ml of water to get a pandan pulp. Squeeze the juice from the pulp and store the juice in glass bottle overnight in the fridge. The dark green part that sank to the bottom is the most concentrated extract.

     

    And with that, I finally got down to making my first Kueh Dadar! No step-by-step photos as I was trying to multi-task on another bake (Pandan Chiffon using cooked dough method), as well as planning for lunch and dinner and in between FB-ing and Instagram-ing :p

    With reference from Travelling-Foodies, I halved the recipe for the Inti (filling) and used about 65% for the skin wrap.

    Kueh Dadar
    (makes 7 rolls, slightly smaller than regular size)

    Ingredients
    Inti (filling)
    • 80g gula melaka, break into small pieces
    • 3 tbsp pandan juice
    • 150g grated coconut
    • pinch of salt
    Steps
    1. Place gula melaka and pandan juice into a small pot over medium low heat.
    2. Once the gula melala melts, add the grated coconut and stir till well-blended.
    3. Add pinch of salt and cook the mixture till no more excess moisture. The mixture should be moist but not wet.
    4. Remove the pot from heat and set aside to cool.
    Skin wrap
    • 130g plain flour
    • 130 fresh coconut milk
    • 50g concentrated pandan extract + 80g pandan juice
    • 35g egg
    • pinch of salt
    • cooking oil
    Steps
    1. Add flour, coconut milk, pandan extract/juice, egg and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix well into a thin batter. Add more flour or pandan juice as necessary.
    2. Strain the batter using a fine sieve to remove flour lumps and unbeaten egg white.
    3. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-low flame. Grease the pan lightly with cooking oil using a piece of kitchen paper.
    4. Lift the pan off the stove, pour a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan and quickly swirl the batter in circular motion to form a thin layer.
    5. Let the batter cook till the bottom side is able to slide around the pan. *This bottom side should have a pockmarked surface but not burnt.
    6. Flip the skin wrap and cook for 15-20 secs, then place the skin wrap onto a greased aluminum tin surface to cool. *This side should be smooth
    7. Repeat till all batter used up (stir the batter from time to time to prevent flour from settling at the bottom of the bowl).
    **My crepe pan is 22cm diameter and the skin wrap is about 14-15cm diameter. The rolls are slightly smaller than regular ones.

    Assemble
    1. Place a skin wrap on a cooking mat/board with the smooth surface facing upwards.
    2. Add about 1 heap tbsp of filling onto the skin wrap, about 1/3 of the wrap.
    3. Fold the left and right sides of the skin towards the centre covering most of the filling. Lift up the skin at the side nearer to you, and roll the skin over the filling in the direction away from you. Roll with a bit of pressure to make sure the filling is secured and roll is firm.
    4. Repeat till all the skin wrap and filling are used up.
    5. Ready to serve.

    All in all, I yielded 7 rolls of Kueh Dadar (with 2 extra skin wraps spoil). Frankly quite a lot of effort put in just for these few rolls of Kueh Dadar!

    That said, lots of improvement to be made! I think the filling was a tad too wet, I should have cooked it longer to remove more moisture. The filling was also too sweet for my liking, or maybe I filled too much into each skin wrap and it was too overwhelming. The skin wrap was also not soft enough, probably it was too thick?

    Nonetheless, it was a good attempt and I'm really happy with my first try! Hope I can find time and energy to make more Kuehs on my to-do list soon :)

    Bibimbap 비빔밥

    One of my favourite Korean food is Bibimbap 비빔밥 which is "Korean mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables" and served with a sauce mix of gochujang. But I seldom eat it outside because most of the time the rice portion is very big and after mixing the meat and vegetables, the entire serving is too much for me to finish. I eat very little rice and would prefer more ingredients than rice :p

    Last year when I went to Korea, I flew by Korean Air and for supper they served bibimbap in metal bowls!! I don't eat supper so skipped it. Most of the passengers took it and I could hear the entire plane went "tok tok tok tok" (sound of mixing rice and ingredients using the spoon) during meal service hour. It seriously sounded yummy and I regretted not eating it :(

    During the trip, I had wanted to try authentic Korean bibimbap at one restaurant in Myeongdong that's highly recommended by many, but the HB didn't like bibimbap so I couldn't eat it until the last day at the airport where I finally ordered it at a foodcourt with many food choices. And during the return flight, bibimbap was served again for dinner and this time, it was a must to eat it!


    Actually bibimbap is not difficult to cook, just that the ingredients are prepared/cooked individually and hence quite tedious especially if you use many ingredients. I usually stick to 5 or 6.

    Typical ingredients include meat (shredded or mixed), mushroom, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, soy bean sprout or mung bean sprout, carrot, egg etc. I also noticed this ingredient called gosari or fernbrake which is a type of mountain herb/vegetable? I tried to look for it at supermarkets but couldn't find it. Stupidly forgot to search for it at the traditional markets like Gwangjang market as I was too overwhelmed looking at all the food stalls.

    For Koreans, I understand that they sometimes use leftover banchan (side dishes) which is super easy coz it's a matter of mixing them up with rice :p

    Anyways, here's my version. Since I'm the only one eating it at home and cooking one serving is silly or rather difficult, I usually prepare double portion and eat it over 2 days.


    Bibimbap 비빔밥
    (makes 2 servings) (reference from Korean Bapsang, Maangchi, My Korean Kitchen)

    Ingredients
    • 100g cucumber, sliced into thin pieces
    • 40g carrot, shredded
    • 100g swiss brown mushroom, sliced
    • 120g soy bean sprout
    • 100g spinach, cut into small sections
    • 2 eggs
    • 120g cooked short grain rice
    • Cooking oil, sesame oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic (2-3 cloves), spring onion/chives
    • Sauce: 1 tbsp gochujang, 1 tbsp honey, 1/2-1 tbsp water, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, sesame seeds, spring onion/chives
    Steps
    1. Cucumber: Sprinkle generous amount of salt over sliced cucumbers and set aside for 15 mins. Squeeze out excess liquid. Toss with 1/4 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, pinch of salt and pepper.
    2. Carrot: Add some sesame oil to a frying pan, saute the carrot shreds for 1-2 mins, add pinch of salt and pepper. 
    3. Mushroom: In the same frying pan, add some sesame oil, saute the mushroom till soft, add pinch of salt and pepper.
    4. Soy bean sprout: Bring 2 cups of water to boil with 1/2 tsp salt. Add the bean sprouts and cook for 8-10 mins. Drain and squeeze out water. Toss with 1/4 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, pinch of salt and pepper.
    5. Spinach: Using the same pot of water, blanch the spinach till just cooked, about 30 seconds. Drain and squeeze out water. Toss with 1/4 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, pinch of salt and pepper.
    6. Eggs: Fry 2 eggs sunny side-up till egg whites just cooked and yolks still runny.
    7. Sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients, mix well and sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped spring onion/chives.
    8. Combine: Scoop 1/2 portion of rice into the middle of a bowl. Place the sunny side-up on top of the rice. Arrange 1/2 portions of the cucumber, carrot, mushroom, soybean sprout and spinach around and on top of the egg white. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped spring onion/chives. Drizzle desired amount of sauce, mix well and enjoy. Repeat for the remaining portion. If storing in fridge, keep in airtight box and steam for 5-6 mins before eating.

    Rose-flavour Swiss Roll

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    Happy Valentine's Day!

    After baking the Bandung Cupcakes with Rose Buttercream yesterday, I wasn't very satisfied with the overall taste and texture. My hb and kiddo had the same thoughts. Well, I guess my family still prefers more tender and moist cakes like Strawberry Shortcakes :p

    Well, I'm not really prepared to bake any of my signature rainbow or ombre cakes today so decided to make swiss roll instead. Since I'm so into rose syrup, decided to add it to my usual Japanese-style genoise sponge. I don't know why but my preferred sponge cake is always the genoise sponge; somehow it turns out very well and I'm very comfortable using it for my layer cakes or in this case, swiss roll.


    Adding rose syrup to the sponge cake creates a lovely pink hue which I adore :) Tender and moist cakes like swiss rolls are best paired with whipped cream or chantilly cream. I also added rose syrup to the chantilly cream and to further enhance the sweet look of the swiss roll, I used only strawberries (even though I bought kiwi and peach as well).


    And finally adding some heart-shaped strawberries as decor, this swiss roll certainly looks too cute to eat!


    Rose-flavour Swiss Roll
    (makes one 10" x 12" swiss roll)

    Ingredients

    Rose-flavour genoise sponge cake
    • 70g top or cake flour (I use Nissen Violet flour)
    • 25g unsalted butter (use butter in lighter shades, avoid yellowish ones, I use President or Elle & Vire)
    • 75g caster sugar (I use Japanese Jyohakuto sugar which is more moist and finer)
    • 140g eggs (about 3 small)
    • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp fresh milk
    • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp rose syrup
    1. Preheat oven at 180 degree celsius, top and bottom heat (conventional). Line a 10" x 12" baking tray with baking parchment. Set aside.
    2. Sift flour 2 times. Set aside.
    3. Melt unsalted butter in a small pot set in simmering water (bain marie). Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
    4. Add sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl, whisk lightly and place bowl in simmering water (bain marie). Whisk using sugar has melted and the mixture is hot to touch.
    5. Remove bowl from hot water, transfer to eletric mixer and beat the mixture at high speed until slightly thicker than ribbon stage (batter flows slowly and rest on top).
    6. Turn the speed to lowest and add milk to the batter, mix for 30 seconds.
    7. Add rose syrup to the batter, mix for 30 seconds.
    8. Add the flour in 2 additions, each time mixing for 15 seconds.
    9. Take out a scoop of batter, add it to the bowl of melted butter, mix until blended. Pour this butter mixture into the batter bowl. FOLD the batter gently until just incorporated.
    10. Pour batter into centre of lined baking tray, spread the batter using a scrapper to make sure it's even.
    11. Knock the tray a few times on kitchen counter and bake for 12 mins at 180 degree celsius.
    12. Remove tray from oven and let it cool for 5 mins.
    13. Remove cake from tray, place on wire rack. Place another wire rack on top of the cake, then turn the cake over to remove parchment paper. Turn the cake over again, cover with the paper and let it cool down completely before frosting.

    Rose-flavour chantilly cream
    • 300g whipping cream
    • 100g mascarpone cheese
    • 1 tbsp rose syrup
    1. Whip cream and mascarpone cheese in an electric mixer till stiff peak.
    2. Add rose syrup and mix till well-incorporated.
     Assembly
    • Place the sponge cake on a large piece of parchment paper.
    • Using a sharp serrated knife, trim a bevelled edge of 45 degree at one of the 12" sides of the sponge cake.
    • Spread the chantilly cream onto the sponge cake, leaving 1-2cm gaps from the edges of the longer sides.
    • Place whole strawberries at about 1/3 width of the sponge cake (from the non-bevelled side).
    • Holding the parchment paper, roll the sponge cake to the direction away. Use a ruler or long knife to help tighten the roll at the end by tucking the ruler and parchment paper inwards.
    • Place the bevelled edge downwards and chill the roll in the fridge for at least 1hr.
    • Trim both ends of the swiss roll thinly using a hot serrated knife (dip and dry using hot water for neater cut).
    • Decorate as desired and serve immediately or slightly chilled. Cake cannot stay in room temperature for more than 20-30 mins, must be stored in fridge.
    *I realised that I forgot to brush some syrup on the sponge before spreading the cream but it seems to be ok this time. Syrup - Mix 3 tbsp water with 1-2 tsp rose syrup.
    *This cake is best served slightly chilled. If chilled overnight, thaw for about 10 mins before eating to enjoy the soft and light texture of the cake. If eating directly from fridge, the cake texture will be slightly harder. 


    Didn't manage to take work-in-progress photos except for one, because I still had to prepare dinner and thus rushing through).

    Actually the cake wasn't perfect, some parts of it cracked a bit when I was rolling :( But the beauty of roll cake, I can try to hide the cracked parts at the bottom :p


    Anyways, I love this swiss roll! Texture-wise, definitely what my family likes, very tender and moist. Taste-wise it has a subtle hint of rose-syrup and not too sweet. The hb and kiddo approve!


    This recipe is a keeper for me, but I gonna practise the rolling part more to prevent cracks next time :)

    Overall, very pleased with how the cake turns out. This swiss roll certainly makes it a more lovely and romantic Valentine's Day :)