Friday, May 27, 2011


These are what kept me busy the past 2 weeks. For a close friend. I'm glad it they turned out all right and that A was very happy with them. She wanted them pink with touches of brown.

I made the simplest of roses. One of the type of roses that I had learnt to make at the sugar craft class ...a few months ago. I am so glad I attended the class. But after a hiatus since the class it took time to get my mojo back and after a few trials I managed to make sense of the process required to make those "simple" roses. They were simple really but like everything else it takes consistent practice not to lose it. 

I wish I had been calm enough to take some photographs to show you how they were made but as usual I just wanted to get on with them and at the time nothing was more important than getting the roses completed satisfactorily. I will show the steps in a future post though. So keep a look out.

The cakes were simple and the ribbon was chosen by A to match the decor for the rest of the wedding gifts. 

The recipe for the fondant is here. I had made a white velvet butter cake by Rose Levy favourite cake master. She, who bakes like a chemist. 

I had coloured the sugar paste for the roses a pale pink and then dusted the edges with coral pink lustre powder. It came to life. Both the leaves and the roses were steamed to seal the lustre colours in. I love steaming them because it gives a sheen and a satiny finish.

The fondant for the cake was a slightly deeper but still light pink and then I piped the brocade design (again).

Decorating cakes is very much like painting for me. I have no clear idea of what I will be doing until I do it. The cake evolves rather than planned. I was pleased. And relieved. My friend A loved it. I hope you like them too :) This is an eye candy post.

A had decided to make six small cakes instead of one large one so that each set of family members could get one complete cake to take home after the ceremony. Instead of cut pieces of cake. How clever :)

Hantaran cakes in a Malay wedding are part of 5 or more trays of gifts exchanged between the bride's and bridegroom's families. Other gifts may include trays of fruits, chocolates, shoes, handbags, Malay dress. Or anything really. It seems that anything goes nowadays. 

The trays are elaborately arranged and decorated with flowers with months of planning and carried to the brides home in a procession, placed and arranged formally on a carpeted floor and the wedding vows are taken while the families watch and witness the occasion.

For more on weddings click here and here. The weddings of my nephews and their lovely brides few years ago. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Remember the Thai Sweet Chillie Sauce I made in my previous post? Remember? Remember? Remember when I said things could only get better from then on? Well it did. It did ~

Just like the first spring rolls 'recipe' these hardly needed a recipe 
Which was good because I was feeling kind of slap happy ~

So what you'll need are some ~ 

finicky carrots ~ julienned
see through glass noodles ~ softened in warm water, drained
pinky prawns ~ gently boiled, peeled
imposter crab sticks  ~ from a packet, unsealed
sprightly sprigs of cilantro ~ plucked
pretty basil leaves ~ whole
minty mint leaves ~ itsy bitsy bits
or anything else that strikes your fanciful highnesses ~
But don't you ever forget those slippery glass noodles ~
Because they add such a crunchy feely-ness, people ~

Then I crushed some strands of saffron thread 
And soaked them in warm water ~ 
Until it turned into a liquid sunset 
A minute later

So I slipped in a disc 
Of the fancy rice paper 
And waited. 

While I counted to eight? 
Or nine? or ten? twenty??
Errrrr..... whatever.

But when I lifted it out 
It was not as golden yellow 
As I hoped it would be, 
(Like what I watched on my tv) 
But, what the heck I thought, 
That was okay dokey by me. 

So I let the rice paper lay 
And piled the thingys into a bundle. 
And rolled them up
Into a tight little cuddle. 
Oops...I think I heard them squeak. 
" Too tight, too tight
Loosen up a little. ~

So this is the story of Thai Sweet Chillie Sauce, Vietnamese Spring rolls, my helly belly and slap happy me ~

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Thai sweet chillie sauce is syrupy, sweet and hot spicy. It takes under 10 minutes to make from start to finish. It's super quick. But I think the most satisfying part about making sauces, pickles, chutneys, jams or relishes, super quick or not,  is in the bottling.  Because you just know better things are about to come.

I really wanted a square bottle for this. So I went to Daiso. Got it. 

Daiso has everything. They have the littlest sauce bottles in the world too. Each slightly longer than an inch and perhaps skinnier than your little finger.  They are to bring along with you when you travel.  For when you're feeling homesick. Or perhaps to work. So quirky. Even silly me wouldn't buy them. They are just too little. :) 

But I did buy that cute spoon in the photo. I can't stop myself buying things from that store. Help.

And then I made sauce.

The recipe ~

This sauce was so easy. I got the recipe off Closet Cooking who got it off She Simmers. However, I added fish sauce and a couple more chillies for more heat. And for more Thai. Beautiful and delicious. I can't wait to dip some spring rolls in it. So Thai. So pretty. 

4 large red chillies
3 bird eye chillies
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup vinegar, I used apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 T fish sauce

1 T cornstarch mixed with
2 T water

Cut chillies up, de-seed if you prefer ( I did not). Put both kinds of chillies, garlic, water into a blender and blend until the chillies are medium fine or fine if you prefer. 

Pour the mixture into a pot. Add vinegar and sugar and bring to a gentle boil until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce and taste for salt. Add more if necessary. 

Add the cornstarch-water mixture and stir the sauce until the sauce thickens about a minute. Bring it off the heat and let it cool before bottling.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


She, who invented this "Burnt Cake" cake, would not have seen an oven. This cake was baked over a fire and under a fire once upon a time long, long ago. Probably in the wet kitchen of a remote kampung that was isolated into the backwaters by vast expanses of paddy fields. The batter would have been poured into a brass 'flower' mould, placed on a fire and covered with a brass lid. Red hot coals would be placed on top of the lid so that the cake was being baked in between the two sources of heat. And this cake is called, in today's namby-pamby world, the "Baked Cake".

Thank god for ovens. Proper ovens.


Brass moulds are beautiful. And it distributes heat evenly. However, it has become quite impossible to acquire these lovely brass moulds today. They have been replaced by aluminium ones which not only look flimsy and cheap, are insubstantial in weight but are also rather rough around the edges. And they have a very peculiar finish. With a look like they have been given a coat of paint ....aluminium paint. I harbour a fear that they may be toxic. I have fingered them and turned them over and over in my hands many a time..... each time I contemplate on buying them. Then I put them down again and I leave empty handed.

So I have never attempted to make the Kuih Bakar. Until I found these lovely bright red paper cake moulds at Daiso in the exact same pattern of a kuih bakar ~ a flower. I was so excited I felt my brain shudder and shrivel to a point inside of my head. 
And the rest they say is in the baking. 

The recipe ~

I so want to believe that recipes written for our local cakes are accurate, reliable and true. Or becoming so.  That we have learnt the importance of detail and accuracy in recipes. That instructions should be unambiguous. Before a cookbook is published and flaunted in glory. And sold for a price in bookshops around the country. 
I dream on.

So here is the recipe after much necessary adjustments ~ It turned out quite delicious. It is a fragrant cake, creamy smooth in texture with a nutty crust and has the bite that we do so covet.
Makes enough for two 6 1/2 inch moulds with 200 ml extra batter that I kept in the fridge for another bake. You might want to halve the recipe for one 7to 8  inch round pan.

Pre-heat oven to 180 C

500 ml coconut cream
200 ml water
8 fresh pandan leaves (each about 15 inches in length), snipped
100 ml water
250 gm granulated sugar
8 eggs
300gm All Purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp gound cumin, optional
1 tsp ground fennel, optional
2-3  T sesame seeds
2 T margarine

Combine coconut cream and 200 ml of room temperature water. Keep aside

Place 100 ml water in a blender, throw in the snipped pandan leaves and blend until the leaves are fine and the whole becomes a thick juice. Strain the liquid through a  strainer, squeezing the ground leaves. Discard the squeezed ground leaves. Pour the strained pandan juce into the coconut cream mix. Keep aside.
Sift flour and salt together and add spices if you use them. I did not. H would cringe.
Beat eggs and sugar together with a whisk until well combined but do not over beat so that it becomes too frothy. A little froth is ok. Add the coconut cream and pandan mixture and stir to combine. Add the sifted flour mix and using the whisk  fold in the flour mix into the mixture until there are no lumps left. To be sure strain the whole mixture through a sieve to completely remove any lumps.
I used two 6 1/2 inch moulds placed on a baking tray. I had about 200 ml left over which I kept in the refrigerator for baking in paper cups tomorrow.  

Put 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoon of magarine into each mould. Place the moulds in the oven and heat until the magarine melts completely and browns a little around the edges. Take the pans/moulds out and swirl so that the bottom of the mould is completely covered with the fat. 

Pour the batter into each mould up to the brim over the melted magarine. (Make sure the moulds (if you are using paper moulds) are placed on a baking tray for support.

Put into oven and after about 7 minutes check to see if the sides are beginning to firm up. If they are take them out from oven and sprinkle sesame seeds all over the tops generously. Place into oven again. 
Continue baking for a total of about 35 to 40 minutes or until the centre feels firm and is not wobbly when gently pressed and the edges are a light golden brown and crusty. Allow to cool completely before cutting into wedges and serving.

I am submitting this for Malaysian Monday hosted by Sharon of Test With Skewer. Find out more about Malaysian Monday here. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Again I have used a mould from Sarah-Jane and the cake turned out looking as beautiful as the savarin mould itself. Was I surprised? No. 

This time I made a burnt sugar cream cake. While the cake was still comfortingly warm I had brushed it with burnt sugar syrup. It took on a beautiful golden sheen immediately. And needed little adornment. I love cakes that speak for themselves without need for the slather of rich buttercream. It means less work for me and less calories all around for everyone. But they have to be beautiful. So Sarah-Jane's pretty siliconemoulds gave them the finishing touch perfectly. Every time I use the moulds unmoulding is effortless and sigh-ingly satisfying.

Do go here for more lovely moulds...

This cake had no butter in it. The 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream made up for the fat in the butter and the drizzle of burnt sugar syrup in the batter gave it a more golden shade inside and out.

It was very, very delicious, light yet moist with a subtle hint of caramel. It was even more moist and full of flavour two days later. I totally recommend it. Yes I do.....This is one of the best tasting cakes I've made in a long time. 

Now to the frosted grapes. I have always wanted to do this with fruits. But never have because of the humidity. Blogging gives me a perfect reason to. It's such an easy decoration with quite spectacular results. Festive and celebratory looking.  Perfect for a moulded cake that needs little help otherwise.

The recipe ~

Burnt sugar syrup ~

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water

Make the burnt sugar syrup first....

Heat sugar over a small flame until it melts and turns amber. Pour boiling water over it.It will froth up but keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Keep aside to cool.

2 cups All purporse flur
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter the silicone mould or pan that you are using.

Sift flour, baking powder and sugar together into a bowl. Keep aside..

Whip cream unitl it holds its shape. Keep in the refridgerator.
 Wash the beaters and and whisk egg, add vanilla. Beat at high speed until nthe mixture becomes pale and thick...about 5 minutes. Fold the beaten eggs into the whipped cream. Gradually drizzle 1/4 cup of the sugar syrup into the mixture. Mix gently until combined.

Gradually sift  the flour mixture over and fold it in until well combined, using a whisk or spatula.

Spread into prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the sides pull slightly awayy from the pan. 

When done let the cake cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Poke holes into the cake with a toothpick or skewer. Brush 2-3 tablespoons of sugar syrup while the cake is still warm. As the cake cools continue brushing a few tablespoons at a time. Let the cake cool completely. I did not use up all of the sugar syrup.

Frosted grapes ~

Wash and dry as much green grapes as you need.

Beat 1 egg white in a small bowl just to loosen it up.

In another bowl put about 1 cup of granulated ot castor sugar.

Dip the clean and dry grapes into the bowl of egg white a few at a time. Usinng a fork lift the grapes up letting the egg white drain as much as possible and roll the grapes in the sugar. Coat well and keep aside on a plate until ready to use.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I think this would make a lovely Mother's Day "gift"! A jelly presented with things inside. Namely fruit. It's sweet, it's pretty, it's a "gift". It's healthier than cake. It puts less calories on the hips and what nots.

Jelled orange juice packed with lychees and a few ruby red strawberries for accent. A golden glob of sunshine gift-wrapped.   

Here's Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. :) Trials and tribulations. Love and laughter. Gratefulness and gratification. What a life.

A Mother's's full of surprises! And then some ~

I used Sarah-Jane's unique silicone moulds from I have made HAPPY chocolate cake, carrot CAKE cake, Easter egg madeleines, plum financiers, brioche and some milk jellies using Sarah's moulds and each had turned out perfectly moulded every time. But 'gift' moulds are the first I've ever come across. 

The mould comes in a set of two in one. But if you wanted to use only one you could easily cut it in two. Which I didn't. Because it was too pretty in pink to be cut. 

The recipe ~

Agar agar makes an unwobble-ble jelly. I have never used agar agar in powder form before so I had no idea how much powder to put in. I scrutinized the packet and spied "10 gm .......800 ml water." I was only using about 1 1/4 -1 1/2 cups of juice. So I used about 5 1/2 teaspoons of agar agar. It turned out very firm. I would reduce a little next time.  I think I prefer slightly wobble-ble jellies. This jelly reminded me of a very firm mattress.

Gelatine makes a wobbly melt-in-the-mouth jelly. Agar agar would not melt in the warmth of your mouth. You'll have to bite it to get it down. We are texture obsessed..

I do prefer working with agar agar because it doesn't need refrigeration. I know for sure that it will set. And set very firm. So there is no need to be delicate or for your heart to stop when un-moulding it. 

I remember mak ciks (aunties) leaving trays of bright red agar agar on the kitchen table while they went around with their other kitchen chores. Almost immeidately the agar agar would start to set, get firm and solid. Then I would watch and hear them being cut with a scrunch using one of those copper zig-zag-gy knives and the jellies would be served in slabs. Very pretty!

Approximately ................

1  cups orange juice
1/2 cup apple juice
Sugar to taste (if juice isn't sweet enough)
about 5 tsp agar agar powder (or slightly less for a less firm jelly)

Some lychees and a few strawberries to fill

Warm juice, sugar and agar agar powder until sugar and agar agar powder dissolves completely. Pour a thin  1/4 inch layer of jelly into the mould and chill for few minutes, about 5 minutes until the jelly just firms up a little. Drop in the fruits gently. If the mould is small you can fill up with fruits to the top and pour in the rest of the jelly liquid. If the mould is larger do a layer of fruit at a time and chill in between for about 10 minutes each time. Take it out, scratch the surface with a fork a little to ensure that the next layer of jelly adheres. arrange another layer of fruit and pour on jelly liquid again and so on and so forth until you reach the top.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I craved these Hippo bites so badly that I had forgotten to measure the ingredients before making them. By the time I did I was halfway through.

These are literally called Hippo Bites. Because by Malay standards they are big. Cucur or bites of any kind, sweet or savoury, are usually made in dainty bite-sized pieces so that you could pop the whole thing into your mouth in one go ~ without looking like you have just bitten off a hunky chunk of a hippo. But these are made bigger. So relatively speaking these are hippo bites or cucur badak.

Those bright tumeric-yellow cake cups come from Sarah-Jane Gorgeous yellow no?

I LOVE these and I have an all time craving for them. Freshly grated coconut is sauteed in a mixture of pounded onions, chilly and dried shrimps, diced fresh prawns, sliced lemon grass and some tumeric. The dough is the exact same dough used for the kuih keria or sweet potato doughnuts. And also deep fried. A subtle sweet, chewy crust hiding a spicy coconut shrimp filling inside. Wooooooo...... I LOVE. 

Recipe ~

Sweet potato dough ~ same as sweet potato doughnuts without the sugar scabs. You might want to double the recipe..

I can't promise that the amount of dough will match the amount of coconut shrimp filling. You might end up with extra filling as I did. Freeze it for making more another time. 

1 1/2 cups of steamed, completely cooled and mashed sweet potatoes ( I used slightly more than 1 1/2)
About 3/4 cup of plain flour or less
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all above ingredients together until it becomes a firm dough.  

Filling ......approximate values ~
3-4 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 garlic
3 slices fresh ginger
2-3 red chillies
3 heaped tablespoons of dried shrimps, re-hydrated
1 tsp tumeric powder or 1/2 inch fresh tumeric 
6-7 prawns, shelled, de-veined and chopped finely
1 large or 2 skinny lemon grass, the white part sliced finely
2 T cooking oil, any vegetable oil
21/4 cups of freshly grated coconut

Pound the onions, garlic and dried shrimps and fresh tumeric if using, in a pestle and mortar, until it becomes a moderately fine mush. 

Heat a pan. Pour in the cooking oil. Saute the pounded ingredients, and powdered tumeric at this point if using, until fragrant and turning lightly brown around the edges.

Add the diced fresh prawns, sliced lemom grass  and stir to mix in and until the prawns just turn pink. Add the grated coconut and mix well over low heat. Add a touch of water if the mixture seems a little dry. The mixture should be moist but NOT wet. add salt and pepper to taste. Leave aside to cool.

Shape the dough into balls the size of ping pong balls or perhaps slightly larger. Make a spacious depression in the centre and fill with the coconut-shrimp filling. At least a heaped teaspoon of it. Cover up and seal. Shape into a ball and then flatten it so that it looks like a fat chubby disc.  Keep on a plate and finish off the rest of the dough and filling. Any extra filling can be frozen and then defrosted to be used when you make more next time.

Heat medium pan. Add cooking oil to about an inch deep. Heat the oil till hot. Fry the cucur badak until a deep golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper to rid of excess oil. Serve warm or at room temperature. I like it at room temperature.

I am submitting this to Malaysian Monday. Sharon from Test With Skewer is hosting the next Malaysian Monday. Find out more about Malaysian Monday here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


This jelly made the Top 9 on Foodbuzz 2nd May 2011. Thank you to the Foodbuzz community. Happy Buzzday!

Truth is....I was tentative about making jelly. I rarely make jelly. It's like eating air. Almost. It doesn't fill you up, it doesn't provide you with much nutrition, its not ice cream, it's not pudding, it's simply solidified sweet drink in wobbly form. Neither hunkily solid nor refreshingly liquid. Neither here nor there, neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.

So I rarely have never made jelly to the memory of my grown children (have I sinned?). Some of them didn't quite know what it was when I did make these pretty things. They asked. And I answered "Jelly".  Cynical faces. Gelatine was foreign to them too (because I never did speak gelatine to them). So I spoke jelly. Again. Never mind. I gave up.

But when I offered some to Z and R they finished it up and announced  "Sedap". R playfully repeated it several times to aggravate me :) Because he knew there wasn't any left. 

Indeed. It was sweet surrender when I yielded peacefully to the simple combination of fresh milk, sugar and of course gelatine. It proved quite delicious or 'sedaaaap'. It tasted............ pretty. As sweetly pretty as Kate Middleton.  And Jelly humoured me by wobbling all the way as I walked it from the refrigerator to the table. Unlike Kate Middleton.

And look at it.  It is indeed truly pretty after having been set and chilled in those pretty pink moulds. 

Thanks to Sarah-Jane of Sarah-Jane designs the most pretty moulds ever. The moulds and the jelly were truly and sweetly satisfying. Happy sigh.......and long live the Jelly!

And the silicone moulds too. I practically pushed the jelly out. So easy peasy. Check here if you'd like to see the lovely range of silicone moulds available.

The recipe ~

Yield : Four 170 ml moulds of jelly

2 1/2 cups fresh milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp powdered gelatine
3 small egg yolks

Sauce ~

grated peel of 1 lemon
juice if 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 orange
1/3 cup sugar or to taste

Put milk, sugar and gelatine in a small pot and place over low heat. Bring almost to boiling point and stir to dissolve gelatine.. Once gelatine has dissolved remoe from heat. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks in a medium bowl. Pour hot milk mixture over gradually stirring all the time to mix. Pour into small moulds or a 3 3/4 cup mould. leave aside to cool and place in refrigerator to set firmly for several hours or overnight.

Sauce ~

Place grated zest of lemon and juice of lemon and orange and sugar in a small pot. Place over low heat and stir until the sauce thickens into a light syrup. Leave to cool. Pour around jellies/jelly to serve.


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