Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Thank god the thyme and the Italian parsely I had bought in 2 little packets 5 days ago have not wilted to a day over useless. To quote (with a twist) season 10  Idol judge ST.

Finally I got down to making this fantastic looking cheese bread that I spotted at the lovely Sugar and Everything Nice by Jo. It looked incredibly irresistible I had to make it. It was one of the most savoury quick 'breads' I have ever eaten. The pepper, the saltiness, the slightly chewy sun dried tomatoes and the parmesan cheese added soo much flavour. I loved it. So good for breakfast as I am simply not into sweet breakfasts. 

I thought the flavour of the spring onions was quite Asian and it instantly reminded me of cucur udang or prawn fritters. Moist pink minced prawns played havoc on my mind. I imagined a shrimped, hot peppery, herb-y, cheesy quick bread. Wow. No? Wow yes.

The recipe..........

Very much like a muffin in method and texture. I omitted the olives though because olives are not a staple in this house.

Cheese, Olive and Buttermilk Herb BreadRecipe Adapted from "Mix & Bake" by Belinda Jeffrey


2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustart powder
60g freshly grated parmesan
60g grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
8 pieces sundried tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup mixture of spring onion and Italian parsley
2 tsp thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thye
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or use 1 1/4 cup less 1 Tbsp fresh milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes before using)
Egg wash (optional) made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tsp water
Extra thyme springs and sea salt, for topping


1) Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. Generously butter a large loaf tin (23 x 13 x 6cm) and either line it with butter parchment paper or dust with flour. Set tin aside.

2) Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, pepper and mustard powder into a large bowl. Whisk with a whisk to incorporate the dry ingredients. Add both cheeses, olives, sundried tomatoes, spring onion, parsley and thyme and stir them thoroughly together.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the oil and buttermilk until they are well combined.

4) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir together to form a thick, sticky batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly.

5) Brush the top of the batter with the egg wash and then sprinkle some thyme leaves and sea salt onto the loaf.

6) Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If the top starts to burn, place a piece of foil to cover the top of the loaf and continue baking. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before turning ot onto a wire rack.

7) This loaf is best served on the same day. Wrap left overs tightly and store in refrigerator. Gently reheat in oven if serving left overs.

Gloomy skies are such a nightmare....

Monday, March 21, 2011


There are bananas and then there are bananas. Anyone who lives in a tropical country will know that there are at least four kinds of bananas commonly sold in fruit shops this side of the globe. And anything in the shape and form of a banana is a banana.

So plantain has always been one of the most puzzling words in my vocabulary. Until I googled it and came to know that they were bananas after all.  No? The only difference being that you cook them rather than eat them raw. But they are bananas just as cooking apples are apples....yes? I rest my case.

My favourite eating banana is the miniature golden banana or Pisang Emas. It is sweet, it is mini, it is cute and it deserves its name. My least favourite banana is the Rastali. Its skin is spotty, its texture kelat....a taste impossible to describe in English and I won't even try. It simply doesn't dance on my tastebuds. But there are many who love it. The banana I often buy though is the Pisang Berangan (Dreamy Banana). Because that is the compromise that we, as family members, have come to.

Then, as if things could not get more agreeable, I had found here that there is such a thing as a 110 per cent delicious and creamy healthy ice cream that is cream free. As in cows. It seemed to good too be true! I so wanted to believe. 

So I made some. Once from some Pisang Berangan (Dreamy Banana) and another time from Pisang Montel (Chubby Banana).  And........ I believed.

I also believe the Chubby Banana (Pisang Montel) is the banana that is widely sold in the west. Unfortunately, for my tastebuds, it just doesnt work very well as ice cream. It was too fluffy and airy and lacked the creaminess that the Dreamy Banana (Pisang Berangan) gives. Dreamy Banana ice cream was so creamy it tasted just like an ice cream should taste albeit a shade yellower. But rich and creamy. And dreamy. If you don't mind the flavour of banana that is. 

I wonder what it would taste like if I had added some vanilla bean paste? Or chocolate chunks? Or peanut butter? Or mars bars? Or twix? Or......and made it unhealthy?

Anyway I now have a frozen dream in my freezer 24/7 at my disposal. Heavenly banana ice cream for my wannabe healthy body.

Recipe ........... 

Simply slice some bananas, keep them in a ziplock bag and freeze them. After a few hours take them out of the freezer and process them in a food processor until smooth and creamy. It will look just like vanilla ice cream. Add honey of you like it sweeter. You could eat it straight away while still chilled and freeze the rest. Unbelievable. But true.

Top with any sauce you like. I would have preferred a thick glossy chocolate sauce but I only had some dulce de leche and for crunch I sprinkled some crushed pistachios. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Colours make the world go round. In my world. 

Two days before the cake was to be picked up was a period of intense focusing, ups and downs, debating, changing of plans and finally, the night before, a feeling of relieved exhilaration. 

I made a brocade design over the fondant covered delicate yet rich velvet butter cake and topped them with  three romantic hues of pink roses.

However the colours did come at a cost. There was plenty of gum paste kneading and mixing of food colours until I was satisfied with each hue. But it will always be my favourite part....creating colours.

I was so relieved the bride loved it. Although she had requested for a replica of the wedding cake that I had made before I couldn't concede to her request. On the last day I had to make a drastic change of plans because I realized that the cake was too large and the roses not large enough. I had also made the roses all of the same size which meant that I did not have the variation of sizes that I did before to enable me to give the arrangement a pleasing natural garden look. Lack of experience made me overlook the fact earlier.

Where once the roses I made would be inconsistent in size due to my inconsistent and unconventional methods this time around each rose was of an almost equal size ever since I had attended the gum paste roses class. I will have to learn to make bigger roses in future. The class was a boon because I can now make very beautiful roses but a bane in my attempt at replicating my last wedding cake. Ignorance was a kind of bliss then.

But when you're at your wits end it helps having loving family rallying around you. Full of helpful suggestions and support I managed not to lose it all. Finally we decided to give the cake a simple topping of roses. I must say, and I say again, colours make all the difference. It brings an otherwise plain and simple cake to a totally different level. I almost didn't want to give the cake away. Perhaps that's how the father of the bride feels when the time comes to give the bride away.

But all is done and over and I now appreciate my pre-wedding cake life more than ever. Yay. 

This time I had dusted the edges of all my roses with two shades of pink petal dust. Particularly Coral Pink. Then I did what my gum paste teacher told me I should not do to gum paste roses. I steamed them. That set and sealed the colour in and the pink did not fade as pinks and purples always tend to even after a mere 24 hours. I was jump-for-joy pleased. Otherwise the pink roses would have been a pale almost pinkish shade of white by the time the bride came to pick the cake up. Lesson learnt. Defy your teacher for a good cause. :)

And I will never again make sugar flowers without brushing on petal dust. It brings the flowers to life. They glow and look so very beautiful. Like a blissful bride on her wedding day.

The leaves I had made the same way and of the same colour when I had made this cake. I resisted buying a rose leaf veiner because it was quite expensive so I used the Wilton veiner that came with an old set I had bought ages ago.

I had also made some tendrils of simply twirled craft wire around a pencil. I loved doing that. And the results were cute. The white filler buds I had made this time around instead of buying them as I usually do. They were so easy and adorable to do.

The only item I did not make this time around were the white with yellow centre filler flowers because I did not anticipate using them. It was a good thing I had some spare from the  last wedding cake.

I love wedding cakes of colours that take my breath away. Don't you? My best wishes to the lovely bride and groom.

My fondant rolling for a ten inch cake was made so much easier with a lovely inky blue silicone mat that Sarah-Jane of siliconemoulds.com had included in the squishy parcel she sent me with the financier and jumbo cupcake moulds amoung other fun things some weeks ago.  Thank you Sarah. It was such a great help otherwise I would probably have had almost a foot of extra fondant hanging over the base of the cake :P All I had to do was to swipe a teeny bit of vegetable shortening over it for a smooth and effortless job. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011


No I haven't vanished. Again. I've been busying myself making sugar paste roses, hydrangeas and leaves for a small wedding cake that I had agreed to make. I have to say I've lost a little bit of the passion I had had once....a few years ago. I wonder why, myself. But I think it has a lot to do with cleaning up after. Sleepless nights. And stress. I guess.

So it was very timely that I visited Cake Connection a few days ago to get some supplies. Cake Connection is located at Jaya One and has a beautiful supply of gum paste flowers and cake decorating ingredients and tools. As I was paying for my electric and apple green food colours  I was introduced to A World of Roses sugar paste class. I felt a flutter of excitement. So I enrolled almost immediately. My first sugar paste class ever! 

With the class coming up I had a feeling that all I had taught myself was going going going down the drain. I know that I had probably picked up some wrong techniques, some weird habits and have made wrong conclusions from the various sugar paste books and instructions that I have collected over the years. Now it's time for a total sugar paste roses make over. I was totally ready.

This class taught us to make 4 kinds of roses. Intricate wired roses, un-wired roses, ribbon roses and miniature roses. Oh the miniatures were so adorable! And the wired ones were gorgeous. It also taught us how to use petal dust, how to make rose leaves and to colour them. . Lynette was our talented instructor throughout the four hour class. Thank you Lynette. It was very enjoyable and enlightening.

I was glad it was a small class because I was quite the klutz. Stress was written all over some of our faces because we were told to hurry otherwise we would be short of time to make the other roses. 

First off we were taught to make wired petals so that it had time to dry and harden by the time we finished with other roses. We used spoons to cradle them and to give them shape. Why didn't I ever think of that!

This was how it started out. Rolling out the gum paste with wire inserted and cutting out the shape.

After some thinning of the edges and some cupping of the petal and curling of the edges we then had a finished petal ready to be rested on a spoon and air-dried..... 

We made 5 of them and air dried them while we proceeded to make the bud and inner petals of the rose.

The half rose ready and standing. Mine in the forefront.

Then we attached the 5 wired rose petals that we had made earlier to make a full blown rose. We then made and attached the calyx and ovaries (yes.. Lynette said ovaries and we all had a good long giggle) at the base of the rose. And finally we dusted them with pink petal dust.......

The finished rose. Gorgeous no? 

We made and coloured some rose leaves.....steamed them over a kettle to deepen the colour......

 And we made  gorgeous ribbon roses.....so easy and fluffy....YUM..

The cool and cozy Cake Connection kitchen....I'd love another class...Inspiration has found me again...

Lynette the instructor in striped blouse. Me, behind the camera.


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