Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

Haven't been baking a chiffon cake successfully recently, don't know if it's due to the oven temperature. Maybe the oven is getting old and temperamental. Finally I baked a tall chiffon cake that did not lose height upon cooling. The trick is to use a lower baking temperature (for my oven).

The satisfaction of a beautiful chiffon cake!

Pumpkin gives the cake a bright yellow colour. I always prefer cakes with natural colouring with no additives. I never use baking powder or cream of tartar for my chiffon cakes. It is not necesssary to ensure a successful bake! Do give it a try!

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

Ingredients: (17cm chiffon tin)

100g pumpkin, steamed and mashed and mixed with
1-2 tbsp milk (optional, I omitted)

3 egg yolks
20g caster sugar
50ml vegetable oil (I use 40g)
40ml water
80g cake flour
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon powder (I omitted)

4 egg whites
50g caster sugar (I used 40g)


1. Steam pumpkin until soft (about 10min), mashed with 1-2 tbsp of milk (adjust or omit depending on the consistency)
2. Whisk in egg yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
3. Gradually add in vegetable oil, followed by water.
4. Add sifted cake flour and cinnamon powder and mix until just combined. Set aside.
5. In another bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add in sugar gradually and continue whisking until stiff peak form.
6. Gently fold in the egg white into the egg yolk batter (in step 4) in 3 batches.
7. Pour the batter into an ungreased chiffon tin. Give the tin a few slight knocks on the tabletop to remove air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven at 160 deg C for 40 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and invert the tin immediately onto a cooling rack.
9. Unmould the cake only when it is completely cool.

Adapted from: 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手

Saturday, October 17, 2015

No knead breads: Sugar Rolls and Rotiboy Coffee Buns

I don't know if you feel the same as me. I find that the taste of breads/buns from neighbourhood bakeries are getting worse. I wonder if it is because they are using low quality or unhealthy type of oil or butter/margarine that makes me feel yucky after eating. The upmarket bakeries are slightly better but the price of one bun is close to eating a meal in hawker centre and the bun is so small not enough to fill the stomach.

I really long having a nice home-baked bread. But without a mixer and bread machine, it is really very troublesome, tiring and time consuming to make breads at home.

While going through my old photos, I found these no-knead breads that I baked in 2011 which I totally forgotten to post and hardly remember I baked them before! I added apples and omitted the cinnamon because I don't like cinnamon taste.

I decided to revisit this recipe again. It is from Happy Home Baking's Magical Rolls recipe.

I stick to the recipe and made the Sugar Rolls (cinnamon omitted again).

Making the no-knead bread dough:

1. Mix 250ml milk, 50g sugar and 62.5ml vegetable oil in a pan.
Heat the mixture until just before boiling (I off heat when start to see steam). Leave to cool for 45min to 1 hour.

2. Place 250g plain flour and 1 tsp instant yeast in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the above mixture. Stir with a spatula until the mixture comes together to form a thick batter. Cover and let the batter sit for at least 1 hour.

3. Add in 30g plain flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp (scant) baking soda and 3/4 tsp salt. Stir until the mixture comes together. Cover and leave to chill in fridge overnight. (Note: dough will be more firm and easier to work with if left to chill in fridge).

For Sugar Rolls:

50g sugar + 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (mix well)
50g unsalted butter (melted)

1. Dust the work surface freely with flour. Dust the top and bottom of dough with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape. Then roll out as thin as possible. Dust the dough and work surface with flour when necessary.

2. Brush the rolled out dough with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over the surface.

3. Start from the opposite end of the dough, roll the dough neatly in a line towards you. Roll as tightly as possible. Dust fingers with flour if the dough feels sticky. Pinch the seams to seal.

4. Cut into 1 inch thick slices and arrange on baking pan lined with parchment paper (or greased with butter). Place the rolls close together so that they are almost touching. (sorry the buns I made are a bit smaller)

5. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until the rolls double in size. (Note: the rolls can be left to chill in the fridge over night and bake them the next morning. If rolls have doubled in size, bake them right away. Otherwise leave to sit on counter until double in size before baking.)

6. Bake in preheated oven at 180 degC for 20mins until golden brown.

Looks better than I expected!

I become so excited that I tried the second time, making them into buns. But remind you that the dough is very soft and sticky to actually shape them properly, so my buns are not very well-shaped.

For Rotiboy Coffee Buns:

Topping ingredients:
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar (I reduced to 20g)
50g egg, lightly beaten
50g cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon warm water

1. Dissolve instant coffee powder with the warm water, mix in vanilla extract. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter with caster sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg one teaspoon at a time, beat well after each addition (add in egg gradually to prevent the mixture from curdling). Add in the coffee mixture gradually, beat well after each addition. Sieve over the cake flour. Mix with a spatula until just combined. Transfer topping into piping bag fixed with pipping nozzle (round tip). Let the topping chill in the fridge until needed. Remove from fridge about 5~10mins earlier before use to allow the topping to soften a little.


1. Follow the steps of making the no-knead bread dough. After chilling overnight, dust the work surface and dough freely with flour. Divide the dough into 30g each (feel free to make bigger buns). Roll each dough into smooth rounds and place on a lined tray. Space doughs two inches apart to allow them to expand. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until the rolls double in size.

2. Pipe topping onto each dough. Make sure to cover the entire surface with the topping.

3. Bake in preheated oven at 180 degC for 15-20 mins until golden brown.

Smelling great!

The fluffy interior.

Let me sum up my experience.

The advantages of this recipe is, first it is a no-knead bread, so no more tiring hands. Second, there's less waiting time, I just throw into the fridge overnight and shape and bake the bread next morning. Third, it uses plain flour which I use commonly and do not have to get bread flour as I seldom make breads. And last, they do taste like soft buns, reasonably close to the bread method. Quite amazing!

But I do not like that baking powder and baking soda have to be added, probably to make it rise better, as I try to avoid too many chemicals in homebakes. I tried to omit them for the rotiboy buns and results in flatter buns but stay good. Also the dough is extremely soft and sticky so will have a bit of problem if you intend to shape into little buns.

Adapted from original recipe: Magical Rolls and Coffee Buns from Happy Home Baking

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Orchid Garden

Finally, here I am at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Had wanted to visit it during the Golden Jubilee Weekend but couldn't due to the rain. It's ok, I just missed out on the concert and the fringe activities that's all. It's better now as less crowded too.

The reason we are here is because there is free Admission into National Orchid Garden (until 31 Aug). And also as you know, Singapore Botanic Gardens has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 4 2015. It is Singapore's first World Heritage site and the third Botanic Gardens to be listed as a World Heritage Site, after Kew Gardens in England and the Padua Gardens in Italy.

We went in from the Tanglin Gate.

Went past the Swan Lake.

Unfortunately it started to rain and we had to hide in this shelter, near Ginger Garden.

Stop by Ginger Garden when the rain reduced to a drizzle.

Luckily the rain stopped and we entered the National Orchid Garden.

National Orchid Garden with over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids.

Map of recommended path (download)

Crane Fountain

Prettier after the rain

Golde Shower Arches

Golden Cage Display

More orchids

Tiger Orchid Fountain

So many preschool children on that day.

Burkill Hall where we saw Aranda Lee Kuan Yew on display.

VIP Orchid Garden

Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana

Vanda William Catherine

More orchids

Tan Hoon Siang Misthouse is a must visit! The orchid varieties are amazing!

Walkway to the Coolhouse 

This feels a bit like the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay.

Celebrity Orchid Garden

Dendrobium Stefanie Sun

Clock Tower outside the Orchid Garden

We missed out some areas like the Vanda Miss Joaquim display, Heritage Orchid Display and Yuen-Peng McNeice Bromeliad Collection. Really amazed, I have never seen so many orchid varieties! It is my first time here. How can I only find interest in the Botanic Gardens after so many years? How can I as a Singaporean!!

On the way back to the Tanglin Gate. We spotted the iconic Tembusu tree, the tree that is depicted at the back of Singapore's $5 notes. It is estimated to be about 170 years old. The area around the tree had to be fenced up in recent years due to damage to its roots and the low-hanging branch had to be supported.

Enjoyable time. Hope to be back more often to explore other areas in the Botanic Gardens. Btw, I think SBG should consider permanent daily shuttle bus services within the gardens and the main gates. It's quite tiring especially for elderly and without own transport to walk so far distance, especially the main attractions are in the Central Core. Hope to see this service soon.