Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Barney the Dinosaur Brown Sugar Cookies

The Barney theme song was an earworm for me as I iced this purple dinosaur for someone who requested for these as door gifts!

I am not a fan of Barney but kids seem to love him. You may wonder how to make cookies with non-standard shapes without suitable cutters. I made my own template by cutting out stiff plastic sheet in the shape of the cookie, and traced the outline on the dough using a small fruit knife. You may refer to my Peppa pig cookies post to have a look at how this is done. It is definitely more time consuming than using cutters but it's a versatile and cheap method. The same cookie dough handling tips apply:

- Work with chilled dough
-Place a reusable freezer pack under the dough to keep it chilled for a longer time as you cut out the shapes
-Divide the dough into 2 batches such that you will always have chilled, firm dough to work with as the other batch is being chilled in the fridge/freezer

I used my all-time favourite brown sugar cookie recipe for these Barney cookies. They are fragrant, soft and chewy, and have always received rave reviews from kids. Another wonderful thing about these cookies is they can keep for up to a month in an airtight container so I can make them way ahead of time. I iced the cookies with royal icing made from icing sugar and meringue powder, instead of a royal icing premix.

Here's a picture tutorial of how to ice Barney. I made 12 of these. It takes a bit of artistic skill as you have to do quite a bit of freehand drawing. Keep a damp paper towel handy to wipe off any mistakes before the icing starts crusting. I had to use a toothpick to paint Barney's facial features as they were too fine to pipe. This is despite making the cookies quite big (about 3.5").

I was afraid that my freehand piping was not good as Barney looked really awful halfway through piping!

*Phew* At least Barney is recognisable!

Barney with birthday message stuck on!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

'Police Gun' Navy Stripes Chiffon Cake (using Blue Pea Flowers)

This is a police gun chiffon cake with navy stripes that I made for a dear friend’s hubby who is a policeman. I think the police is a very noble profession! The gun is cut out purely from charcoal chiffon cake (baked in a 6-inch tray) and it's my first time trying something so different. I certainly hope it looks like one! The top of the cake is designed to resemble a target board for the gun, but I added in 5 stars later inspired by the 5 stars of the police crest.

The navy stripe layers were requested by my friend, but I remember someone from one of the food groups had asked me before whether I could share recipe for a chiffon cake with only 2 colours in the layers, instead of a full out rainbow chiffon cake that was more difficult for beginners. So for this cake, I had the opportunity to bake it and share.

I used blue pea flowers here for the layers to reduce the amount of blue colouring used. I used a total of 35 flowers for the blue layers and used charcoal powder to turn the blue into navy blue, but I still had to use a toothpick dip of wilton blue gel to get a darker shade.

Navy Stripes Chiffon Cake (using Blue pea flowers + charcoal for navy blue)
Blue pea flower extract: Infuse 35 dried blue pea flowers in 10 ml hot water. Press the flowers with a spoon to ensure they are fully submerged. Allow to soak for 15-30 min, then use a sieve to remove the flowers, using a teaspoon to press out all the liquid.
4 egg yolks
27g sugar
52g vegetable oil
51ml water
7ml vanilla extract
8ml blue pea flower extract
80g cake flour

5 egg whites
60g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (I used steambaking but it is optional).
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar with whisk till pale yellow before stirring in oil and water.
3. Next add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour found.
4. Divide the batter into 2 (approximately 24 tsp). Add blue pea flower extract to one portion and vanilla extract to the other. Add a dip of charcoal powder and wilton blue gel to the blue portion.
5. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till stiff peak, mixing in caster sugar in 2 additions.
6. Divide the meringue into 2 and gently fold in the meringue into each batter ½ at a time.
7. Scoop the plain vanilla batter into the chiffon tin, gently level the batter. Then alternate with blue.
8. Gently tap the tin on the counter top to remove air bubbles.
9. Bake the cake for 15 min at 160°C, then 32 min at 140°C.
10. Invert once removed from oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
11. Unmould the chiffon cake by hand. Gently pull the cake from the sides of the tin at each angle and push the removable base up to unmould the sides. To unmould the cake from the base, gently lift up the cake from the base using hands, repeating this at each angle before turning the base over.
*I put the leftover blue batter into a 9-inch tray with baking paper lined at the base to cut out circles for the top of the cake.

Here's the side profile of the navy stripes chiffon cake!

May we start our coming year with a bang!

And happy belated birthday to Fu Sin!!

With love,

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Friday, 26 December 2014

'Frozen' Snowflake Shortbread Cookies (icing-free!)

I have a request for snowflake cookies as door gifts for a Frozen themed birthday party. Here's my simple but fragrant shortbread snowflakes!

The recipe I use is essentially the same as the one I usually use, with the simple ratio of 1:2:3 for sugar:butter:flour. The dough is still fairly easy to work with when chilled while retaining a strong butter flavour. I love the fact that these cookies are simple yet pretty and are not covered in icing sugar for decorations, something that is unavoidable for more detailed and intricately designed cookies.

Recipe for Snowflake shortbread cookies (makes 18-20 6cm round cookies)
White dough
35g icing sugar
70g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (use high grade, fresh butter for the best taste)
105g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
White gel food colouring (optional)

Blue dough
65g icing sugar
130g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
20g corn flour (you may replace with plain flour. I added this for a more melt-in-your-mouth texture. )
175g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blue gel food colouring

1. Sift sugar, salt and flour(s) into a large bowl for each coloured dough. Add butter and start off by rubbing in with finger tips and then form a ball of dough by gently kneading.

2. Add vanilla extract and gel food colouring until desired shade of dough is achieved. Knead until just combined to prevent over-working the dough.

3. Place the dough between baking sheets and roll to thickness of 3-4mm for snowflake and 5-6mm for a circle that is slightly bigger than the snowflake. You may wish to divide the white dough into 2 or 3 portions such that the rest of the portions remain chilled as you work with one. Soft dough is harder to work with for complex shapes.

4. Refrigerate or freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes or up to a few days.

5. Use the round cutter to cut out circles and place the cut-outs on baking tray lined with baking sheet. Dip the snowflake cutter in some plain flour and knock off the excess flour. Cut out the snowflake using the cutter and eject the cut-out directly on the circle cut-out. You don't want to handle the snowflake dough directly as it is quite delicate. In the event that the dough becomes too soft to handle, freeze the dough or refrigerate it again. I find it helpful to place the dough on reusable freezer packs to keep the dough chilled for a longer time. If the dough is too crumbly and hard to handle, leave it out at room temperature for a couple of minutes before working on it. Use a toothpick to clean out any dough stuck in the crevices.

6. Chill the tray of dough in the fridge for 15-30 minutes until firm. Preheat the oven as the dough is being chilled. Bake at 160°C for 12-14 minutes or until base of cookie is browned but tops and upper part of the sides are not. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.

Freshly baked!

7. Store in airtight container or pack in sealed party bags like I did!

Freshly wrapped!

As these cookies contain salt, they can keep for up to a month and taste better after maturing for a while.

These simple cookies are good as door gifts for Frozen fans and are pretty and simple gifts for Christmas too!

I am submitting this to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Princess Castle Chiffon Cake

I finally got to try out my dream castle! This Princess Castle Chiffon Cake is made wholly from chiffon cake from the cones to the towers and all the trimmings! The main cake is made from a 7-inch vanilla chiffon cake surrounded by 5 swissrolls made from vanilla chiffon cake with lemon-infused swiss meringue buttercream (smbc) fillings. These are capped by strawberry chiffon cake cones. In addition the bricks and trimmings are cut out from vanilla chiffon cake baked as layer cakes (thick for bricks and thin for trimmings). I’ve never been a cream person, but this smbc is delicious to me! I’m a convert :). Be prepared for 3 days for this crazy dream cake! :p

Vanilla chiffon cake (7-inch chiffon tin)
1 egg yolk
20g sugar
39g corn/vegetable oil
36 ml water
5 ml vanilla extract
60g cake flour

4 egg whites
45g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Prepare a tray of water at the bottom of the oven (I used the lowest rack to bake the cake). *You may omit steam baking; I like to use it to control my oven temperature rise.
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar with whisk till pale yellow before stirring in oil, water and vanilla extract.
3. Add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour found.
4. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till stiff peak, mixing in caster sugar in 2 additions.
5. Fold in the meringue gently into the batter 1/3 at a time.
6. Pour the batter into the chiffon tin from a height.
7. Gently tap the tin on table 3x to remove air bubbles
8. Bake the chiffon cake for 15 min at 160°C and then at 140°C for 32 min.
9. Invert immediately once out of the oven to cool
10. Unmould by hand after the cake is cool. Gently pull the cake from the sides of the tin at each angle and push the removable base up to unmould the sides. To unmould the cake from the base, gently lift up the cake from the base using hands, repeating this at each angle before turning the base over.

The lemon in the smbc balances the butter flavour very well. The 5 swissrolls are cut from 3 10-inch swissrolls.

Lemon swiss meringue buttercream (for 3 10-inch swissrolls, adapted from baking library)
112g sugar
120g egg whites
250g unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened but still cold
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extact

Making the buttercream:
Dissolve sugar in egg whites - Place egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl sitting over a pan of slightly simmering water without the base of the bowl in contact with the water (double-boiler). Whisk the mixture constantly until the sugar dissolves completely. Rub the egg white mixture with your fingers to check if it is still gritty to test if the sugar has fully dissolved. Egg white mixture should be warm to the touch. Remove bowl from the heat. Do not allow egg whites to scramble/coagulate.

Beating egg whites - Beat egg whites with an electric beater on medium high speed until whites are very stiff and glossy. Egg whites should form stiff upright peaks and will not budge when bowl is overturned. Egg whites should be cool to the touch at this point.

Incorporating butter - Add in butter to beaten egg whites in 3 additions and beat on medium speed. The mixture may become watery as butter is being incorporated. Just continue beating. After the third addition, beat the mixture until it becomes fluffy and firm, like creamed butter.

Flavouring the buttercream - Add lemon juice and vanilla extract to buttercream and beat well to mix.

I did not use a special recipe for the swissrolls but used the same recipe for the vanilla chiffon cake which is very bendy for the swissrolls, scaled to 2 egg yolks. Gently spread the smbc over leaving an inch from the sides.

Roll up again and cling wrap them to set in the refrigerator for a few hours so that it is easier to handle them, as they are still soft even with the smbc.

The cones were baked in paper cups as vanilla chocolate ice cream chiffon cake. Here, I used strawberry chiffon cake recipe to use more natural coloring.

The assembly was the difficult part. I had to insert 3 dowels into the 3 tallest towers to prevent the towers from slanting over, and bring the cakes in and out of the fridge as they are difficult to work with when softened (not easy as the towers are tall!). These were attached to the main castle using more smbc. I had slight difficulty with the left tower which was taller, so had to add a brush of melted marshmallows to reinforce. The cones were attached to the top of the swissrolls also using smbc. The cake needed to be refrigerated for another few hours to set properly before the final adjustments and decorations were added.

Phew! Finally done!

Thank God my friend shared her daughter loved the cake! Made me feel the efforts paid off! =)

With lots of love,

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Monday, 22 December 2014

'Hidden Hearts' Azuki Bean Matcha Logcake with Whipped Azuki White Chocolate Ganache

 I have a request for Azuki bean Matcha log cake with Azuki cream from my ex-neighbour who missed this cake of mine! I made a small, totally kid friendly log for Susanne's family without Matcha added.

I adapted the recipe from one that my ex-neighbour loved, but changed the cream from fresh cream to whipped white chocolate ganache to make the whole cake withstand Singapore's hot weather a little better. I reduced the amount of sugar in the sponge cake to accomodate the sweeter cream. I also upped the amount of Azuki beans to make it really full of red bean goodness :). She requested for less Matcha cake as kids are eating so I thought why not make it special with striped patterns and "hidden hearts" inside the log!

Bake an Azuki bean layer cake. Use heart shape cookie cutter to cut out enough hearts to line the length of your log cake when stacked together.

Striped layer cakes
Base egg yolk batter
3 egg yolks
15g caster sugar
43g canola/vegetable oil

Azuki egg yolk batter
23g Azuki bean paste
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
20g cake flour
Pinch of salt
Red liquid food colouring

Matcha egg yolk batter
12g water
2g (1 tsp) Matcha powder (go for high grade if possible)
11g cake flour
Pinch of salt

Vanilla egg yolk batter
12g water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
13g cake flour
Pinch of salt

5 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
50g caster sugar

 Makes one 9x12" and one 7x7" cake. Alternatively, you can make a single 10x12" cake or not use up all the batter to fit your pan size.

1. Line the pans with baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Prepare 3 piping bags with piping tip adapters (without tips attached). Alternatively,  you may just prepare a ziplock bag with a hole cut. You can still create the stripes but it will be less neat.

2. Prepare the base egg yolk batter. Whisk sugar and egg yolks until pale and thick. Gradually add oil and whisk intil thick and well combined. Divide the batter into 2:1:1 for Azuki: Matcha: Vanilla. You actually need more matcha than vanilla if you used different sized pans like me but it's a pain to divide the batter into weird ratios.

3. Continue preparing the respective egg yolk batters following the steps in the above section.

Fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in the same way and portion according to the weight ratio above.

4. Transfer the batter into the piping bags and pipe the batter in alternating stripes onto the pans.

I was rushing a bit so the lines are not so even.

Drop the pan onto the table a few times to release trapped air. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

5. Immediately remove from pan, gently peel off baking sheet and cool in a rolled up position.

Azuki bean white chocolate ganache
120g white chocolate, chopped
370g whipping cream
1/16 tsp salt
190g Azuki bean paste (Tsubuan. Use more or less according to your preference. My portion is considered very generous, so it's pretty sweet but full of Azuki bean flavour.)

1. Place white chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream to boil (just when bubbles start to appear) and pour over white chocolate. Stir with spatula until white chocolate has melted. Add salt and stir until it has dissolved.

2. Place in an ice bath and stir until cooled. Place in fridge overnight until chilled.

3. When ready to assemble, whip ganache to stiff peaks by placing bowl in ice bath. Be careful not to over whip.

4. Portion out 150g of Azuki paste and mix well with 50g of whipped ganache. Set aside this Azuki paste thinned with whipped ganache. This will be part of the filling.

Portion out 160g of whipped ganache and 40g of Azuki paste and mix well. Set aside. This will be the outer frosting.

Note that you may change the proportions to suit your taste.

1. Unroll cooled cakes and brush surface with simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar:water). Apply a layer of Azuki paste thinned with some cream. Apply a layer of whipped ganache. Place the row of hearts upside down in the middle of the cake. Roll up the cake and refrigerate or freeze (1-2 hours) until cream is set. Make sure you shape the roll with the help of baking sheet to squeeze the cream into the crevices of the heart shape in the roll before chilling. Refrigerate any remaining cream.

2. Use a serrated knife to cut of the ends, cleaning it after each cut. Reserve the ends for decoration if you wish.

3. Place the cake on cakeboard with a bit of cream below to secure it to the board. Cover the cake with Azuki white chocolate ganache.

Add on branches if you wish, like I did for the Matcha Azuki roll. Use a fork to draw log patterns.

And you are done :). This log cake is pretty enough to do without decorations, especially if you have one or two branches extending out from the log.

I am submitting this to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Update: Both log cakes were well received :). Do go for the version without Matcha if kids are consuming as they would prefer a non-tea flavoured cake.

Blessed Christmas!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

'Dora the Explorer' Cocoa-Pandan Chiffon Cake

This is a 'Dora the Explorer' chiffon cake for my friend’s daughter who loves Dora! My daughter also likes Dora and loves carrying the talking backpack (we have a toy bag) around. As I had mentioned in Super Mario, faces are actually among the most difficult cakes and require the most attention to detail because even a slight shift in a feature may result in a different-looking person. I personally felt it was more difficult than Super Mario as the features were more subtle.

Since Dora is a Latina, her face was made from chocolate chiffon cake to get the brown shade like the Rilakkuma face. For the hair, instead of piping in like in Little Twin Stars or cutting and joining like in Super Mario, here I tried something different which was to wrap the charcoal chiffon cake around the face like our human face. Definitely more tricky to handle (I accidentally broke the first piece) but works better to get the shape for the Dora hair.

The facial features and flowers were cut out from chiffon cake baked in layers divided into brown for eyes (cocoa + charcoal), cream for whites (original), red and pink, and then glued on with melted marshmallows. The base cake was pandan chiffon cake coloured naturally with pandan juice and paste requested by my friend. Thank God cake was well-received and her daughter liked it lots!

Here's a picture of the cake under a different lighting! Dora is ready to go exploring!

With lots of love,

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

'Doraemon on Dorayaki' 3D Figurine Chiffon Cake

My elder kid requested for a Doraemon birthday bake so I made a mini 3D Doraemon chiffon figure standing on his favourite food -- dorayaki!

Mmmm...This red bean pancake is bigger than me!

A look at Doraemon from different angles!

I wanted to add a red tail behind but felt that it was too much work already with all the facial details, pocket, bell, collar, arms and feet! And since the figurine is quite small, working with the small parts is quite a challenge. Anyway he looks good enough from the front and 45°angles :p

I don't have a customized mould so I created the figurine from layer cakes baked in 6" and 7" square pans (for the body, arms and small features), jumbo egg shells (more than 70g and with inner membrane removed, for the head, the bigger the better) and round silicone ice cube tray (for the feet).

Many thanks to Susanne's generosity, I have some blue pea flowers as natural blue colouring this time :). Although some artificial colouring has to be added, less is necessary.

As Doraemon has quite a bit of white features, I adapted the recipe from one that uses only one egg yolk but four egg whites as the base batter to minimize the use of white coloring. Only a few drops were needed.

Ingredients (makes about 4 figurines):
Egg yolk batter
1 egg yolk
10g caster sugar
43g canola oil (or any vegetable oil)
30g water
30g blue pea flower infused water (I soaked about 10 dried flowers in 33g water. Use more if you have. I didn't have that many)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract, divided into 2 portions
74g cake flour, divided into 2 portions
Pinches of salt
1/8 tsp (heaped) charcoal powder
Red, yellow white and blue gel food coloring

4 egg whites
45g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Tools for shaping
Regular and jumbo straws
Round cutters
Small sharp fruit knife
Cutting board

1. Line the trays with baking sheet, preheat the oven to 160°C. Position the rack to second lowest position.

2. Make the egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolk and sugar until pale and all sugar has dissolved (first photo).

3. Gradually add oil and whisk until thick like mayonnaise (second photo).

4. Divide the batter into two. Gradually add 30g of water into each of the divided batter, one blue and one plain, and whisk until well combined. Add vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually whisk in sifted flour into each batter (third photo).

5. Portion out 1/2 tsp of plain egg yolk batter for each of the colors, yellow and black, and 1 tsp for red. Add food coloring and charcoal to the respective batters.

6. Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites until foamy in a clean metal bowl using an electric mixer. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the bowl can be overturned without the meringue falling out.

7. Fold the meringue into the various egg yolk batter in three additions. Portion about 1.5 tbs of meringue for yellow and black batters, and 3 tbs for red batter (fourth picture).

8. Pour blue batter into 4-5 XL egg shells to about 2/3 full and into the 6" tray. Spoon white batter into the ice cube tray and part of 7" tray. Spoon the rest of the coloured batter, side by side, into the 7" tray as well, making sure that red batter forms a rectangle. We need a long strip for the red collar. Bake the following at the respective time and temperature*:
- layer cakes: 160°C for 9-11 minutes
- ice cube tray/ cakepop mould: 160°C for 10 minutes, followed by 4-8 minutes at 150°C
- egg shells: 160°C for 10 minutes, followed by 150°C for 5 minutes. If still not baked through, extend baking time for another 5-7 minutes at 140°C.

* Each oven is different so your temperature and time required may be different. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.

Immediately remove layer cakes from pan, peel of the baking sheet and cool with a fresh baking sheet covering it. Roll up the blue layer cake as soon as you can to cool it in rolled up position.

Immediately invert the ice cube tray to cool. Carefully unmould by hand when completely cooled.

Carefully crack the eggshell by tapping it with the back of a metal spoon and gently peeling off the shells.

9. Here's the fun and tedious part of assembly.

Tips: Keep a small bowl of simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar:water) to brush on the small parts of cake to prevent them from drying out. Keep unused parts in airtight container. Have a small bowl of water to wet the knife a bit before carving (thanks Susanne for this last tip!).

i) Cut the eggshell baked cake to about roundish in shape. Use round cutters/ straws to cut out the facial features. Use the knife to carve out the various shapes. Carefully carve out the centreline, mouth and line on the tongue. Use marshmallows melted with a bit of water as glue to glue the parts on (first picture).

ii) Cut a rectangular strip from blue layer cake with width slightly less than size of head. Roll both ends as shown in the second picture. Glue the rolled up cake with melted marshmellow.

iii) Cut two ice cube tray baked cakes to form the feet and an oval for the belly. Glue them together as shown in the third picture.

iv) Secure the head, body, feet and dorayaki (I used store bought dorayaki) together using two toothpicks, one down each leg (fourth picture).

v) I apologise for the lack of photos from this point as I was rushing. Cut a white semi circle for the belly pouch and stick it on. Cut a red strip for the collar and small yellow circle with a strip in the middle for the bell. Glue those around the neck, hiding the joining between head and body a bit.

vi) Finally, make the arms. Cut two small blue pieces from layer cake and roll it up to form a Swiss roll. If it is too thick, try slicing the cake thinner before rolling again. Cut out a small semicircle from ice cube tray baked cake and roll it up a bit to shape into the hands. Glue the hands onto the arm and glue the whole arm onto the body.

When it was time to eat Doraemon, I did feel a bit reluctant to :p. But the kids had so much fun eating it and it was so nice to see their joy when they saw my creation and ate it!

Just to share a less flattering view of Doraemon from the side and back...

Do add on a tail if you have the time and energy!

Farewell Doraemon!

Blessed birthday to my firstborn! May you grow up to love God and people around you!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

'Christmas Mistletoe Ring' Rainbow Chiffon Cake (and Cupcakes)

This is another fun pretty variant of the rainbow chiffon cake with green colour at the top, inspired by the Christmas mistletoe rings (or Christmas wreaths) that adorn houses during Christmas time to celebrate the birth of Christ. The donut shape of the chiffon cake is really ideal for making the Christmas ring. It was something that I had wanted to try last year for the school Christmas party but was ditched last minute in favour of the Christmas trees Pandan-Strawberry Chiffon Pops which the kids loved as well.

The same recipe for the Pastel Rainbow Chiffon Cake (in 'Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes' now) is used here, except that the order for scooping in the batter is changed as follows: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple and blue, so that green would be on top once the cake is inverted.

The mistletoe and leaves were cut from strawberry and pandan chiffon cakes baked in 9-inch trays. The red mistletoe is cut using a bubble tea straw. I used some charcoal powder in addition to pandan paste to colour the leaves darker green than the chiffon cake. As I didn’t have a leaf cutter for the green leaves, the jagged leaves were cut by using the straw to make 6 inverted cuts around the shape of the leaf.

Here’s a more top view of the Christmas Mistletoe Ring!

A newer version of Christmas Mistletoe Ring with picture tutorial is now in 'Deco Chiffon Cakes' book.

I also made some more Christmas cupcakes along with the cake. You can refer to Snowman Tiered Chiffon Cake and Christmas cupcakes (at the bottom) for their recipe. I took the chance to experiment with more Christmas designs: mistletoe and stars in addition to snowflakes.

Packing them into boxes two by two as gifts!

Blessed Christmas to all!

With lots of love,

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dove and Poinsettia Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies (high butter content)

I have a request for extra buttery Christmas themed butter cookies as gifts so I did a search and found a simple recipe from Nasi Lemak Lover for Chinese New Year cookies that is simple and requires few ingredients. Although the recipe calls for piping the soft dough into simple swirls or simply dropping a scoop of dough on baking sheet to bake, I took up the challenge of shaping the dough into poinsettias and doves!

This recipe is really simple but shaping it using cookie cutters requires some speed, working with small batches of frozen dough and constantly wetting/washing the cookie cutter. Due to the high butter content (1:1 ratio for butter:flour, as compared to 2:3 for shortbread) of the cookie dough, it tends so spread a little during baking even though I freeze/ chill the piped/cut-out cookies prior to baking. So something simple became a challenging bake :p.

I tweaked the original recipe a bit to accomodate the different way of handling the dough (lower corn flour content). I lowered the oven temperature to prevent the coloured cookies from turning brown. You may choose to bake at 180°C instead as the original recipe suggests if your cookies are not coloured.

Ingredients (makes about 50 doves OR 30-35 poinsettas, depending on size of flowers):
225g butter (I just used one block of SCS unsalted butter)
60g icing sugar
200 plain flour
25g corn flour
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional but I added)

Red yeast powder
Gel food colouring
Cocoa powder
Chocolate sprinkles

1. Beat butter, sugar and salt until creamy.

2. Sift in the flours. Mix well to form a soft dough.

3. If you are making cookie cutter cut-out cookies, divide the dough into small batches and roll between two baking sheets until about 5-6mm thick. The dough should be about the size of your hand when rolled out. Freeze the dough until firm.

If you are making piped cookies, transfer the batter into piping bag fitted with a star tip or any tip you like.  If you don't have special tips for piping, check out this link for how to pipe flowers/ leaves using ziplock bag cut into specific shapes with scissors, which I did :). Divide the dough and colour with red yeast powder and/or gel food colouring if you are making the poinsettias. Ratio of red:green:yellow is approximately 6:3:1.

4. Cut out frozen dough with cookie cutter that is wet with iced water. Place the cut-outs on baking tray lined with baking sheet. Once the dough becomes soft and sticky, it is time to stop working on it and roll it out again and freeze. Add chocolate sprinkle for the eye of the dove.

Nice well-defined outlines!

5. Freeze the tray of cookies before baking in pre-heated oven at 160°C for 11-15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Keep an eye on them as every oven is different and your baking time may vary. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.

Freshly baked. Not so well-defined outlines. 

If your cookies seem a bit less well-defined as you would like them to be, you can pipe the outline or draw in some features to rectify this. I piped chocolate paste made from cocoa powder dissolved in some water.

Looking slightly better!

6. If you are making poinsettias, you may wish to prepare a template to place under the baking sheet to help you with the piping but that is optional. Use a leaf tip to pipe out the leaves, followed by the six petals. Finally, pipe yellow dots in the center. Try not to make the flowers too big as they will tend to break more easily. About 3-3.5cm would be good.

Piped poinsettias! Looking pretty!

7. Freeze the tray of piped flowers while preheating the oven. Bake at 160°C for 13-17minutes. These are harder to tell if they are done due to the colouring. Safer to underbake first then send them back into the oven again to bake for another 3-4 minutes before checking again.

Not so well defined after baking! The super-big flower broke while being handled.

After the cookies have cooled, pack them in airtight containers. I packed them in glass jars decorated with glitzy christmasy tape.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Super Mario Chiffon Cake!

This is a Super Mario cake made purely out of vanilla and pandan chiffon cake for my dear Kaai Zenn who turned 5! Time really flies.. when I first met him he was just 2 and he has grown so much and so well! I missed those playdates very much. I really wasn't confident doing the Super Mario face so it was supposed to the Super Mario Mushroom cake until the Elmo chiffon cake came along when she asked again whether possible, and after having tried Elmo which also involves baking the nose in an egg, I finally thought to give it a try.

Faces are actually among the most difficult cakes and require the most work and attention to detail because even a slight shift in a feature may result in a different-looking person. The Super Mario face was carved and cut out from a vanilla chiffon cake baked in an oval glass bowl. Instead of piping the hat in like My Melody Chiffon Cake, this time round I tried cutting the Mario hat out from a separate cake (also baked in oval glass bowl) and then joining both together using melted marshmallows. The nose and ears were made from vanilla chiffon cake baked in two eggs: one for the nose, and two halves for each ear. His hair was cut from chiffon cake colored lightly with cocoa powder baked as a layer in a baking tray. His moustache and eye brows were colored with a combination of charcoal and cocoa powder similarly. The recipes for vanilla and cocoa chiffon cake can be found in my Super Mario Mushroom cake post (vanilla scale to 2 egg recipe and chocolate, 1 egg recipe). It may appear simple but is actually quite complicated to assemble. It took some trial and error to get the proportions right especially because it was 3D and I couldn't use a direct template to pipe.

The base is pandan chiffon cake colored naturally with pandan juice and pandan paste, and this is also a pinata cake in which I hid some surprises under the face!

Here's a side profile of the cake.. hope it can pass!

Happy birthday to dear KZ!!

With lots of love,

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