Monday, August 13, 2012

Bad News And Good News

My Technogas Built-in Oven for 15 years
I came home one day and was surprised to see Mum waiting for me at the door. "I have bad news and good news for you!' she said.

'WHAT?' I asked with my eyes wide opened.

'Your Technogas oven finally stopped working..that's the bad news. Good news is you can now buy your DREAM oven !!' my mum said.

My niece was trying to bake some Velvet Cupcakes while I was not at home and what 'luck', the first time she atempted to use my oven, it decided to 'end its life'!

I went to the kitchen immediately to check my oven. After a few attempts to 'revive' it, including opening up the plug to check the wires, I pronounced it 'DEAD'! It had a few 'minor self-treatment illnesses' and one major 'operation' at the service centre. I promised myself that the next time it stopped functioning, I would buy a new and better oven. I would not say it is a very good oven because the distribution of heat is not that even , but anyway, it had been with me for more than 15 years. It is worth the money already.

So, it's time to look for my new oven ....FINALLY!! YEAH !!!

Initially, I had wanted to buy my DREAM oven , Baby Bellings... that's because from young, I have heard how good it is. But strangely, it is no longer available in all shops, only from the sole distributor, Amtek Marketing. I called the company and they say the new model will not be available till after August and there will be NO GLASS DOOR . Ugh!! I was so eager to get this model with glass door and now I may have to change my plan. Furthermore, my mum advised me to get another brand because Baby Belllings has a rather small capacity.

Perhaps a dream may just be a dream.. you THINK it's good, it may not actually be. Okay... listen to advice and be more ready to accept new ideas.

Meanwhile, fortunately, my Mum has an old but still reasonably good oven for me to bake my son's GFCF cakes. Take a closer look at the second knob.... it's GONE !

Mum's 'Antique'

After looking through and asking around for brands like Tefal, Bosch, Brandt, Rowenta ( mainly European brands... I DON'T want those made in China  or Malaysia!), I decided to consider Rowenta as my first choice. I was quite lucky that there was a cooking demonstration class conducted by a baker at Mega Courts. The baker was helpful enough to explain to me how to choose a good oven and why Rowenta is a good choice.

So, final decision..... I got Rowenta 7868 for $680. (FYI, not at Mega Courts which sells the same oven at a higher price)

My New Love--Rowenta 7868
I was so eager to try out the oven when it was delivered to my house. I baked a loaf of Banana Bread with a packet of GF Banana Bread Mix given by my friend who bought it at Australia. It was easy and quick, just have to add eggs, oil and milk.

A Slice Of Banana Bread--quite oily though

Not too bad ... considering that I had used to WRONG mode for baking cake ! Ha Ha... So excited to try out the oven that I did not read the instructions carefully!

I'm going to love baking EVEN MORE now :)

ps : And what happened to my old oven....

it has become a storage space 

because it is built-in and cannot be removed.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's Durian Season!

Durian Cake
During the last June school holidays, my family went to Muar, together with my friend whose hometown is Muar. She cordially invited us to stay in her BIG house and took us around for sightseeing and, of course, to eat famous Muar food like Otah and Assam Fish.

Let's Visit Muar
My friend's mother, who stays in Muar, had also a whole big basket of DURIANS, from their relative's trees, waiting for us! I don't really fancy durians but I had a great time just watching the rest, especially my husband, sitting around the durians and popping one durian after another into their mouths.

What Am I Gonna Do With This??!!

She insisted that we should take some durians home and so I am left with a whole tub of durian flesh in my freezer.

To thank my friend for her hospitality,  I decided to make a Durian Cake for my friend's daughter's birthday.
The little girl was SO happy and I was SO glad to see the beaming smile on her face :)

Recipe for 
Durian Cake

Ingredients (for the sponge cake)

egg yolk 3
sugar 30g
salt a pinch
vegetable oil 30g
milk 40g
vanilla essence 1/4 tsp

cake flour              75g
baking powder 1/2 tsp

egg white                 3
cream of tartar1/4 tsp

Ingredients (for the durian mousse)

durian puree200g
gelatin powder3 tbsp
water6 tbsp
whipped cream200g


  1. Line a 18-cm round cake mould with grease-proof paper.
  2. Sift Ingredients (B) together.
  3. Use a whisk and mix Ingredients (A) well.
  4. Pour egg yolk mixture slowly into flour mixture. Fold gently till the mixture is well combined.
  5. Whisk Ingredients (C) until soft peaks form.
  6. Take 1/3 of beaten egg white and fold into mixture in step 5.
  7. Pour mixture in step 6 into remaining beaten egg white and fold until well combined. ( You have to do this step fast and do not over-mix)
  8. Pour batter into mould. 
  9. Bake in oven (preheated at 170 degrees C for 10 min) for 25-30min.
  10. Immediately invert the cake after taking it out of the oven and let it cool before removing it from the mould.
  11. For the mousse, sprinkle gelatin powder on water and let it rest for a few minutes. Then dissolve it over double boiler. 
  12. Cook durian puree with milk then add the gelatin mixture. Let it cool before adding the whipped cream. Reserve some cream for top decoration.
  13. To assemble, cut the cake into three layers. Using a mousse ring, sandwich layers with durian mousse and leave in the fridge to set.
  14. Finally, decorate the top as desired.

I have used only a small portion of the durian. What's next... durian puff, durian pancake, durian...........

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Is Muffin = Cupcake?

    Blueberry Yogurt Muffin
    I don't think muffin = cupcake for several reasons :

    • muffins look bigger , of course :)
    • cupcakes usually come with icing, frosting and now lots of 'cute and creative' toppings. Muffins, however only come with some simple icing sugar dust, drizzle or sometimes streusel.
    • muffins use less eggs, oil/butter and more liquid and more flour while cupcakes usually are vice versa.
    • muffins use 'stirring method' while cupcakes use 'creaming method'

    In another words,
    muffins = a loaf of quick bread divided into smaller servings
    cupcakes = a butter cake divided into smaller servings

    You may come across many muffin recipes which require 'creaming-butter method', which I would consider them NOT traditional muffins. Because there is no beating of butter or eggs involved in muffin making, the leavening of muffins depends largely on baking powder and soda. Using buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt also helps to make muffins moist and soft.

    So, in my muffin recipes, they will be quick and easy ones, no beating involved. You simply use a  spatula/whisk to do the mixing. You can divide the batter into muffin moulds or pour it into a loaf tin.

    Recipe for 
    Blueberry Yogurt Muffin
    (makes 10 or 1 loaf)


    egg 2
    butter, melted50g
    sour cream100ml
    plain yogurt100ml


    plain flour, sifted200g
    baking powder2 tsp
    brown sugar80g

    chocolate chips (optional)

    dusting sugar(optional)

    1. Stir wet ingredients (A) well.
    2. Combine dry ingredients (B), excluding the blueberry,  together.
    3. Pour (A) slowly into (B). Fold and combine the ingredients together. (TIPS: Do not overmix)
    4. Add in the blueberry and chocolate chips.
    5. Pour batter into papercup-lined muffin moulds/pan (or a loaf tin)
    6. Bake in oven, preheated 10min, at 170 degrees C for about 20 min.
    7. Sprinkle top with dusting sugar when served. (optional)

    You can try using the same recipe with different fruits or nuts instead of blueberry. BUT DON'T try with STRAWBERRIES! I did that when I could not find blueberries in the supermarket... I used diced strawberries and it was a DIASTER :( !! I think the strawberries are too heavy for the cake to rise up. HA HA :D

    HAPPY EXPERIMENTING... that's what baking's all about !

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Make Your Own GF All Purpose Flour

    My Own GF All Purpose Flour Mix

    So far, I have found two brands of GF flour in Singapore, Orgran and Bob's Red Mill. Orgran GF products can be found in NTUC Xtra and finest ( but I'm not quite sure if they are available in all outlets) and also Cold Storage. Bob's Red Mill products can be found in Cold Storage and Market Place. Brown Rice Paradise at Tanglin Mall has the widest range of GFCF products. Sometimes, I go to Johor Bahru where I can find some GF products (usually in Organic shops), and they are usually also cheaper than Singapore.

    I like to use Bob's Red Mill (BRM) flour. I usually keep one packet of GF All Purpose Flour at home and other types of GF flour -- Brown Rice Flour, Garbanzo Bean Flour, Sorghum Flour, Millet... So can you imagine how many packets of flour my pamtry is filled up with? !

    BRM all purpose flour is a mixture of Garbanzo flour, fava flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and potato starch. For my own all purpose flour mix, I like to use Brown Rice flour, Garbanzo flour, Sorghum, usually in equal proportion. These are the types of flour which I think have less strong taste and smell  than others like quinoa and buckwheat. I'll also add a smaller portion of other types of flour like Millet, yellow cornflour.... (whatever I have in my pantry). Sounds COMPLICATED? Or FUN? I have been 'experimenting' and 'playing' with all these different types of flour for about six months before coming up with something I find -- satisfactory :)

    All GF flour mix contains 2 parts -- Bean/Grain flour + Starchy flour (e.g. potato starch, tapioca/corn flour)
    In simple formula : 
    For All Purpose Flour--> Bean/Grain flour : Starchy flour = 2 : 1
    For a lighter flour to make sponge/light cake, the ratio is 1 : 1 ( that's what I use. But I think some uses 1:2. I don't use that because personally I feel that starchy flour is not that nutritious as compared to others)

    Why use many types of flour? troublesome! From my findings, some types of flour are heavy, some are light. Some have 'weirder' taste and smell. So a good mixture, will yield something closer to wheat flour and thus better cakes and desserts. Also, a combination of different types of flour, also means we get to enjoy different types of nutrition.

    Different Types of GF Flour

    My GF All Purpose Flour Mix

    Brown Rice Flour : 1 part
    Sorghum Flour : 1 part
    Garbanzo Flour : 1 part
    Quinoa/Millet/Soy/Buckwheat : 1 part (depending on what I have, I just mix them till I get 1 part)
    Potato Starch : 1 part
    Corn/Tapioca Flour : 1 part ( I use less Tapioca Flour as Chinese believe tapioca is not so nutritious)

    I keep my Flour mix in the fridge after blending it well. In this way, I can use them conveniently, as and when I need to use it.

    Due to lack of gluten, don't forget to add xanthan/guar gum in GF flour to prevent the cake from crumbling.
    Here's a guideline :
    For every cup of flour, add
    1/4 tsp for biscuits
    1/2 tsp for cakes
    1tsp for muffins/quick bread

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Simple, Easy & Yummy

    Almond Apple Cake
    This is a cake that my whole family likes, even my daughter, who cannot accept the taste of gluten-free flour. Well, that's because the whole cake is made from ground almond, no flour at all! Just substitute milk to coconut, rice or soy milk and the cake is gfcf!

    This is also the cake that I like to bake when I have not much time and too many apples at home. As the saying goes : An apple a day, keeps the doctor away , but nobody in the family seems to like apples and they always get 'abandoned' in the fridge, waiting to be turned rotten!

    Recipe for 
    Almond Apple Cake


    egg 4
    brown sugar1/2 cup
    salta pinch
    apple3 small or 1 big
    milk1/4 cup
    apple cider vinegar1 tsp
    cinnamon powder1 tbsp
    ground almond2 cups
    baking soda1/2 tsp
    baking powder1 tsp


    fig 1. Beaten up eggs

    1. Diced the apples and mix in the salt ( to prevent it from turning brown).
    2. Mix vinegar and milk ( or any milk substitute for a dairy-free cake) and let it rest till curd is formed.
    3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed till light and fluffy (see fig 1 ).
    4. Fold the ground almond, baking soda and baking powder into the egg mixture.
    5. Add in the apples, milk and cinnamon powder.
    6. Pour batter into a grease-lined cake mould.
    7. Bake in oven, preheated 10min, at 170 degrees C for about 20 min.

    Almond Apple Cake

    And that's it! Done! Simple, quick and easy!

    Notice that there is no oil in the recipe but the cake turns out to be quite oily. I made a mistake once by being 'smart' and added oil to the recipe myself and the cake turned out too oily. Then it dawned upon me  that almond itself contains oil!

    So in fact this is also a very healthy cake for the whole family. Another thing to take note is , do keep ground almond/hazelnut in the fridge to keep it fresh. When taken out for use, it may be lumpy and remember to use any utensil to 'unlump'  it before adding it to the wet ingredients.

    A Slice of Cake A Day, Keeps Unhappiness Away

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Going on a GFCF Diet -- Can He Still Enjoy Life ?!

    Simple Plain Pancakes

    When my son was advised to follow a gluten free and casein free diet, I was faced with a BIG challenge! I love baking for my loved ones. Looking at them enjoying homemade cakes and many more is the greatest joy of my life.

    So now what!? No wheat, no dairy product... how am I going to continue baking?

    Luckily, my son isn't a picky eater. First, I switched dairy milk to rice milk and soya milk. Thank goodness he was fine with those :). Then comes the headache.. no bread , no cakes.... so what's for breakfast? GFCF(gluten free and casein  free) products are not easily available here in Singapore and they are definitely VERY much more expensive as compared to western countries. A loaf of GFCF frozen bread costs about $10 compared to a mere $1-$2 normal bread.

    I started off with using Orgran Pancake Mix and Bread Mix. At the same time I surfed the net and read many books to learn how to bake GFCF, which isn't as easy as normal baking. Sometimes I wish I have somebody around me who can bake GFCF so I could pick up the skill faster. It took me a few months to come up with something 'edible and reasonably good' and up till now I am still 'experimenting and learning'.

    five in a stack

    The most important thing to learn about GFCF baking is the different types of flour substitutes. The brand that I am using is Bob's Red Mill. Having a packet of All Purpose GF flour at home is useful but I have also learnt to mix my own so that my son can have the goodness of all types of GF flour, which mainly are made from nutritious grains and beans. 

    steam or toast?

    Usually I will make a batch of 5-7 pancakes and keep them in the fridge on the second day. If they are not consumed within 3 days, I will keep them in the freezer for freshness. I heat it in the toaster if my son wants a more crispy pancake or steam it if he wants something moist and soft.

    jam, peanut butter, kaya or honey?

    Pancakes are served with jam, peanut butter or kaya. No butter... because butter is dairy product. Instead of syrup, I give my son honey.

    Son's Recess Snack

    Pancake is also a bread substitute because after experimenting baking yeast free bread for umpteen times, I still prefer pancakes. There is no way ( may be there is but I have not found it) a slice of yeast free bread  can taste like a normal one.

    Recipe for 
    Simple Plain Pancakes
    (makes 5)
    GF all purpose flour 1 cup
    sugar 1 tbsp
    salt a pinch
    guar gum 1/4 tsp
    GF baking soda 1/2 tsp
    GF baking powder 1/2 tsp

    egg 1
    oil 1 tbsp
    milk substitute 1/2 cup
    apple cider vinegar 1 tsp


    1. Combine Ingredients (A) well.
    2. Use a hand whisk and mix well Ingredients (B).
    3. Slowly add wet mixture (B) to dry mixture (A) and stir until they are well combined.
    4. Prepare a non-stick pan on the stove.
    5. Pour some batter on the pan when it is medium hot. Cover pan with a lid.
    6. Cook for about 3 min or when the top surface almost sets and the bottom slightly brown.
    7. Flip the pancake and cook for another (about) 10 sec.
    8. Continue until all batter is used up.

    Looks easy, right? So let's try it soon!