Monday, 17 July 2017

Cookies n Cream Macaron Ferris Wheel (complete with moving parts!)

This is a bake that's not requested by anyone but I had the idea since a year ago. I took my time to mull over it and finally worked out how to make it work. Presenting possibly the world's first ferris wheel made entirely out of macarons!

Pardon the poor quality of photo as I was in a hurry when I took this.

Checkout the ferris wheel in motion!

I kept the design simple as I wasn't sure it would work. Future ferris wheels could have cute animals or characters sitting in the cabins and other customizations for birthday boy/girl.

I took the chance to practice Swiss meringue method of making macarons too. You have seen both Italian and French methods on this blog but not Swiss method. Let me take the chance to share it with you here. I was a little ambitious and did a reduced sugar version which you need not follow if you prefer to keep the recipe simple. I also used some natural food colouring to reduce the use of artificial colouring.

My recipe is adapted from Broma bakery method which uses an extremely easy to remember ratio of all ingredients, which is egg whites : caster sugar : icing sugar : almond meal is 1:1:1:1 by weight.

This is my second attempt at Swiss method and I regretted attempting something that was suggested by some people sharing in a macaron group, not to whip the Swiss meringue to stiff peaks but firm peaks only. My shells took really long to dry and I was losing patience so some of them turned out with no feet (the pink cabins). My first attempt dried much faster but I was using a different recipe. Having said that, the shells have no hollows at all and the meringue is more stable than French method as it is partially cooked. The texture if the shells were delicate to bite too. Both French and Swiss method are great if you are making a smaller quantity of macarons and/or working with one, two or three colours. Italian method is still my favourite when working with multicoloured large batches.

Recipe for Swiss method macaron shells
100g almond meal (preferably superfine)
90g icing sugar
2g cornflour*
8g rice flour*
100g egg whites
95g caster sugar (use 100g if following Broma bakery's recipe)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
1/4 tsp white powder food colouring (optional)
1/4 tsp cherry blossom powder (optional)
1/4 tsp purple sweet potato powder (optional)
Tiny drop of pink and purple gel food colouring

* Replace with icing sugar if you wish.

1. Sift almond, icing sugar, rice flour, corn flour and white powder together. Divide the powder mixture into ratio of 6:1:1 for white:pink:purple. Add sifted cherry blossom and purple sweet potato. Mix well and set aside.

2. Place egg whites, caster sugar, salt and cream of tartar in a metal bowl that can be placed over the mouth of a saucepan without the base of the bowl touching the water in the pan. Whisk the egg whites over simmering water in the saucepan until all the sugar has dissolved and temperature is 45-50℃. Remove from heat. Use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be smooth and not lumpy but the peaks should be really stiff. Divide the meringue into ratio of 6:1:1 for white:pink:purple. Add gel colouring to the meringue and mix well gently with a spatula.

3. Scatter the dry ingredients over the meringue. Use a spatula to fold until batter flows off the spatula in an almost continuous manner and not in blobs. Please refer to this video tutorial for the consistency you should get.

4. Transfer the batter into piping bags fitted with Wilton #10 for white colour and #7 for pink and purple. Pipe on baking trays lined with baking paper and template under it. I apologise for not being able to share the templates at this point in time. Please refer to this for video tutorials on how to pipe complex shapes. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a more systematic description of the techniques too.

Piping the main frame of the ferris wheel. This is the most challenging part as it requires really steady hands and patience.

Piping the supporting structures

Piping small round stoppers

Piping the cabins and center circles of supports. I decided to use one unfilled macaron shell for cabins as I wasn't sure if the structure would support filled macarons which are a lot heavier. The pink and purple shells have mild flavour of their own so it's great to eat as a cookie on its own.

5. Bang the trays on the table to release trapped air bubbles. Use a toothpick to pop any stubborn bubbles. Dry the shells in aircon room or under a fan until dry to touch. Some suggest that no drying time is required but I prefer to do so. If the meringue is stiff enough, the drying time shouldn't take too long.

6. While waiting for shells to dry, you may preheat the oven to 160℃ and set the rack to lowest position. When shells are put into oven to bake, immediately turn the temperature down to 140℃. Bake for 10 min. Reduce temperature to 110℃ and bake until the feet no longer appear wet. Note that the small round stoppers are baked for only 10 minutes. Bigger pieces take anywhere from 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before carefully peeling the baking sheet away from the shells.

Freshly baked shells!

I decorated the shells with some royal icing.

As the structure has to be displayed at warm Singapore room temperature, the filling has to be firm enough at 27-28℃. I have come up with a recipe for non-refrigerated cookies n cream that's yummy. It can be used for macaron carousels and macaron pops too.

Recipe for non-refrigerated cookies n cream filling
120g white chocolate, chopped (I used vanilla bean white chocolate)
25g vegetable shortening
30g Oreo cookie, without cream and finely chopped
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

1. Place shortening and chocolate in microwave safe bowl. Melt at medium power for bursts of 10 seconds, stirring in between each heating cycle until mixture is smooth. Do not overheat.

2. Add salt and vanilla and mix well.

3. Fold in chopped cookies.

4. Transfer to piping bag and carefully pipe onto the main ferris wheel frame and supporting structures.

I have given this baby much thought so I am unable to share too much details at this point in time. Perhaps after a few ferris wheels later. What I can reveal is, just like the macaron carousels, the weight bearing structures need to be given time for the royal icing (glue for all the parts) to fully set before doing the full assembly so some patience is needed.

As macarons are delicate in nature, some reinforcements are needed. I have done so with a few concealed reinforcement supports (easily available from baking supply stores).

Perhaps the tricky or “ingenious” part about this whole thing is how the hinges are created. I used materials that can be easily found in baking supply shops so it's not as difficult as you think :).

And just when you think "Woohoo! The ferris wheel works! It spins so beautifully!" You may wonder, "How am I going to transport the whole thing without the structure collapsing when we encounter a hump on the road??" I figured out a simple edible solution to lock the ferris wheel such that it doesn't rotate until you remove the locking mechanism.

My friend said this is such a timely creation as she was about to attend a friend's baby shower. I did the simplest customization I could since it was quite last minute, by writing the baby's name on the ferris wheel with edible marker.

All ready to go to the party!

The ferris wheel survived the trip to the party without anything collapsing. The kids had fun spinning the wheel (and it didn't collapse too!) and were shocked that this toy is actually edible!

You can't imagine how excited and happy I was to hear that as this whole thing was experimental! Thank God for providing the inspiration right down to the nitty gritty mechanics! I think this experiment also opens up an avenue for different macaron structures with moving parts that work. Hopefully I will rise up to the challenge for future requests. Are you game enough to let me make a customized ferris wheel for you ;) ?

With love and lots of inspiration from God,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

'Shopkins Soda Pop!'-inspired Chiffon Cake (Strawberry yoghurt-Vanilla Chiffon)

Haven't posted Shopkins for a while since my last Shopkins Ice-cream Chiffon Cake! This is inspired by the cute "Soda Pop!" from Shopkins, from my friend's girl =).

I had fun making the cute "Pop!" from chiffon cake! The chiffon cake is a two-tone Strawberry yoghurt-Vanilla Chiffon Cake using the same recipe as here. I kind of made it sloping by tilting the pan a bit haha. Thank God it worked out well =).

Have a blessed week ahead!

With lots of love,

*New updates in Deco Chiffon Cakes page
*Creative baking cookbooks now available at Naiise in Malaysia! 

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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Mango Chiffon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream & Mango Jelly

Simple bakes like this one is a joy to bake :). You have seen many fancier items from me but I like making simple things too! My friend requested for mango chiffon cupcakes with vanilla cream for her son's birthday celebration in school. I took the liberty of adding a simple mango jelly deco and chocolate rice sprinkles.

Mango chiffon cupcakes with vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream and mango jelly!

Recipe for mango chiffon cupcakes
Ingredients (makes about twenty-four 35x44mm cupcakes):
5 egg yolks
70g canola/vegetable oil
86g mango puree
100g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp mango flavouring (optional)

7 egg whites
1/3 tsp cream of tartar
105g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160℃. Prepare a tray of water at base of oven (optional). Set oven rack to second lowest position.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks until pale and thick. Add oil ane whisk until combined. Add puree, extract and flavouring. Mix well. Gradually sift in flour and salt and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Prepare meringue. In a clean metal bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks form, gradually adding in caster sugar along the way.

Just a note: notice that all the caster sugar is in the meringue and none in egg yolk batter. This is to help stabilize the meringue more and lend it a finer texture with smaller air bubbles.

4. Quickly but gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in three additions. Carefully spoon the batter into cupcake cases until about 80% full. Tap the case on the table and place on baking tray.

5. Put the cupcakes in the oven and turn the temperature down to 135℃. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Note that baking time is shorter if no water is placed at the bottom of oven. Cool completely before storing or decorating.

You may find the recipe for reduced-sugar vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream over here. You may prepare in advance and freeze it in ziplock bag. Simply thaw at room temperature and rewhip before using.

Recipe for mango jelly
100g Mango puree
120g Water
40g Milk
40g Sugar (add more or less according to sweetness of mangoes and to taste)
2 tsp Agar powder

1. Place all ingredients except puree in saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil, until agar powder dissolves.

2. Add puree and continue to stir until mixture boils again.

3. Pour into mould or tray until about 7-8mm thick layer of jelly. Refrigerate for 1h or until firm. You may prepare this the day before if you wish.

4. Carefully unmould the jelly onto baking sheet. Use a small heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the hearts.

Use a open star times nozzle to pipe buttercream swirls onto the cupcake. Sprinkle some chocolate rice.

Top it up with the mango heart jelly and you are done :). The cakes can store in the fridge for a few days. Let it come to room temperature before serving as the cream will be hard.

All packed for party!

Here's a peek at the moist, soft and sponge interior.

My friend decorated the cupcakes with cute Pokemon themed flags. And kindly shared the photo with me.

Thank God it was very well received. I made extra to let my neighbour and my kids try. They all loved it too!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 10 July 2017

PJ Masks Strawberry Cream Cheese Macarons (new filling recipe!)

Besides requesting for PJ Mask themed macarons, I was asked to fill the macarons with something that is kiddy, not too sweet and not dark chocolate based. Here's my version of strawberry cream cheese macarons with a small dollop of homemade strawberry jam!

I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.

Just to share some photos of making the shells...

Piping shells

Freshly baked shells!

I decorated the shells with edible marker and royal icing.

Strawberry jam and cream cheese recipe
Ingredients (fills about 40 macarons):
Strawberry jam
30g strawberry puree
1 tsp lemon juice
15g caster sugar
A pinch of salt

Strawberry cream cheese
60g cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
30g unsalted butter (room temperature)
30g vanilla bean white chocolate*
1/2 tsp strawberry emulco/paste/emulsion
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

*You may use any brand of your favourite white chocolate for eating. I have discovered this a couple of months ago. Really yummy and easy to work with compared to couverture.

1. Prepare strawberry puree by blending and sieving fresh strawberries.

2. Combine all ingredients for the jam in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.

3. Beat softened butter and cream cheese together until pale and fluffy.

4. Melt white chocolate over double boiler or in microwave oven. Be careful not to overheat. Let the melted chocolate cool a little while stirring it to prevent it from solidifying.

5. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and mix well with electric mixer. Add salt and mix well. Don't panic if your mixture appears to separate. Chill the whole bowl in the freezer for a couple of minutes and beat again with the mixer. Repeat this until you get a nice homogeneous texture.

Cream cheese white chocolate base.

6. Add strawberry puree a tbs at a time beat with electric mixer.

7. Add strawberry emulsion and vanilla extract. Mix well again

Transfer cream cheese filling into piping bag and pipe onto the bottom shells. Add a bit of strawberry jam in the middle and sandwich with top shell. Store assembled shells in fridge for at least 24h before serving.

Filling the shells!

This filling is not too sweet, rich yet fluffy and slightly tart.

I am happy to find another less sweet macaron filling base other than my usual white chocolate ganache or Swiss meringue buttercream. You may pair the cream cheese base with other fruity, tea, caramel or chocolate flavours too!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Sunday, 9 July 2017

‘Sushi’ Wood-style Chiffon Cake

Oh such a fun request! I was really happy to try making a Chiffon Cake Sushi Platter on a Wood-style Chiffon Cake!! As you know by now, I love new projects! She wanted it in the style of my previous Nyonya Kueh-themed Chiffon Cake that was well-loved =).

The Wood-style Chiffon Cake is made from Orange-Chocolate Chiffon Cake. The colour scheme of the flavour is just nice for making pine-colored wood. I patterned the brown batter into “wood grains” or wood-like pattern. As you know, I’m a very neat person, so I was quite nervous about making irregular wood grains. Thank God it panned out ok!

My Wood-style Chiffon Cake!

Wood-style Chiffon Cake (9-inch tube pan)
8 egg yolks
43g castor sugar
106g vegetable/corn oil
132g orange juice, freshly squeezed
160g Prima cake flour, sifted
1/2 tsp cocoa powder, sifted (alkalized)
Zest from 2.5 oranges

11 egg whites
120g castor 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 eggs with sugar with whisk till pale and light before stirring in oil and juice.

3. Next add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour lumps are found.

4. Spoon out 10 tsp and add ½ tsp cocoa powder, mix well. To the rest of the batter, whisk in orange zest.

5. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till firm peaks, mixing in caster sugar gradually in a few additions.

6. Spoon out 20 tbsp meringue for cocoa batter, leaving the rest for orange batter. Gently but quickly fold in the meringue into the respective egg yolk batter.

7. Transfer the cocoa batter into a piping bag. Pipe thin "wood grains" onto the base of the pan. Spoon the orange batter gently into the spaces between the "wood grains". Cover the "wood grains" gently with more orange batter. When the base is fully covered with orange batter, repeat the above process 3x until batter is 2-cm from the brim. *Try to work quickly to prevent the cocoa batter from becoming "holey" as batter breaks down much faster in the piping bag.

8. Bake the chiffon cake for 15 min at 160°C and then at 150°C for 10 mins and 140°C for 30-31 min, or until skewer comes out clean. *This is just a guide as each oven’s internal heat is different, do optimize for your own oven.

9. Invert the chiffon cake once removed from oven.

10. Unmould the chiffon cake by hand after cake is completely cool (watch Video tutorial 'Hand Unmoulding Chiffon Cakes for a Clean Finishing'). 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.


Sushi rolls: I have previously shared the recipe for making the sushi roll chiffon cake pops here. The only difference is that I used more charcoal powder to get a darker shade for the charcoal/pandan chiffon sheet cake used to roll around the “rice” from vanilla chiffon cake.

My previous Sushi Chiffon Cake pops

Salmon sushi: The salmon is from patterned orange-vanilla chiffon sheet cake (vanilla for thin lines, orange in between). I used PME red to darken the shade of orange chiffon batter to get reddish colour. I cut blocks from vanilla chiffon cake for the rice. Top two and bottom left picture in collage below.

Some pictures of the process of assembly. Top: "Salmon" sheet cake; Bottom: Rice and Tamago

Tamago: Cut rectangles from yellow vanilla sheet cake (vanilla with added natural yellow food colour). Bottom right in collage above.

Prawn sushi: I baked the same orange-vanilla chiffon cake as "salmon" in 5-cm cake pop molds and sliced into strips.

Roe: That was the challenging one. I cut many small ‘balls’ using a straw from leftover “salmon” batter and stuck them together =).

Hope you will like this cute creation too! I will upload a video of the cake onto my Instagram soon. Sorry I missed posting last week as I was busy with family.

With lots of love,

On a side note, I’m really thankful to have my Deco Chiffon Cakes featured in media websites all over the world from Straits Times to Daily Mail Online from UK, Mashable from US and even in other languages like in China, Japan, Portugese and Italy! It’s been an amazing journey. Thank you for being with me!! Article links here. Straits Times video here.

Creative baking: Deco Chiffon Cakes (now available at Naiise in Malaysia!)
Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes

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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Tiger and Bear Pull-Apart Buns with Cream Cheese Filling (Naturally coloured!)

I love new challenges and bakes that break away from the routine of what I am familiar with. Although that means trial bakes may be necessary, I welcome the challenge if it is not out of my reach. And that was why I accepted the request for making my first cute pull-apart buns for sale! The cute bee on top is made from shortbread cookie.

Bee on tiger and bear buns!

Shortbread bees! Requested as part of the deco. Refer to this post for the recipe.

I am very much in favour of making cute buns for birthday celebrations as they are healthier than cakes or macarons. I use absolutely no artificial colouring at all for the buns. Although using cocoa powder would have been the easiest to create brown colour, I was told not to use it due to allergy. I experimented with dark brown sugar with a little Earl Grey powder, vanilla bean paste and a pinch of charcoal. It worked perfectly :). The deep orange colour was created using pumpkin powder and a pinch of paprika. I adapted the recipe from Victoria Bakes' killer toast recipe which stays soft for 5 days (I tested it myself). I bought both pumpkin powder and Earl Grey tea powder from Kitchen Capers.

It would also be easier to knead one large batch of dough, divide it into two and colour it separately when the dough almost passes the windowpane test. But because the brown colour is primarily coloured using dark brown sugar, the orange and brown dough have to be prepared separately as sugar has to be added at the beginning of making the dough. I did a few trial bakes before finally coming up with a satisfactory version. Here is one of my earlier trial bake.

How do I knead two separate batches of dough at the same time? I spend about 5-8 minutes kneading each colour at a time. This also allows the dough to relax in between 3 kneading cycles for each coloured dough. Those of you who have followed my blog posts will know that I prefer to knead dough by hand as I can feel the change of structure through my fingers. You may save yourself the trouble and use cocoa powder instead to colour the dough brown. That way you can just knead one dough and divide it later. Having said that, the brown sugar vanilla bread tastes awesome on its own!

Recipe for pumpkin and dark brown sugar cream cheese bun
Ingredients (makes 9 pull-apart buns in 7" tin):
Dark brown sugar dough
130g bread flour
25g dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/8 tsp Earl Grey powder (optional)
1/16 tsp charcoal powder (optional)
1g (or 1/2 tsp)  sea salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
85g half an egg and top up the rest with milk
15g unsalted butter

Pumpkin dough
110g bread flour
10g caster sugar
1/2 tsp instant yeast
20g pumpkin powder
1/8 tsp paprika powder (optional)
1g (or 1/2 tsp) sea salt
90g half an egg and top up the rest with milk
15g unsalted butter

9 pieces of Laughing Cow cream cheese (about 16g each piece)

White compound chocolate
Charcoal powder
Edible markers

Notes: You may use any pumpkin bread recipe that uses fresh pumpkin but I find it more convenient to use the powder form here. You may also use any brand of cream cheese or any filling of your choice.

1. Shape each piece of cream cheese into a ball and freeze it. Add vanilla bean paste into the egg and milk mixture for brown dough. Line a 7x7" tray with baking sheet.

2. Combine all ingredients for the dough together except butter. Cover the mixing bowl with cling wrap and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. This is to help the flour absorb more moisture but it is optional. Knead until the dough is smooth. About 5-8 minutes. Add butter and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test (another 15 minutes or so). Place the resting dough in a bowl loosely covered with cling wrap to prevent it from drying out if you are kneading two separate balls of dough at the same time like me.

3. Place the kneaded dough in a bowl loosely covered with cling wrap. Let the dough proof for about 25 minutes at room temperature (27-28℃ in hot Singapore).

4. Punch down the dough to release trapped air bubbles. Divide the dough into 44-45g portions for the head and 3g for a pair of ears. You will end up having extra dough for one colour.

5. Lightly flour the work surface with bread flour. Flatten a ball of dough for the head and wrap a ball of cream cheese filling. Pinch seal the dough and place in baking tray seam side down. Repeat for all the heads.

6. Divide the 3g dough into two for the ears. Stick the dough on the head and use a toothpick to press down the edge of the ears as shown in the picture below. This is to prevent the ears from falling out during proofing and baking.

7. Cover baking tray loosely with cling wrap and proof until the buns double in size. This can take anywhere from 45min to 1.5h depending on proofing conditions.

Assembled buns before proofing

After doubling in size

8. Towards end of proofing time, preheat oven to 180℃ (fan off) and set the rack to lowest position. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully tent a foil over the tray and bake for another 20 minutes at 150℃ or until done.

9. Let the buns cool in the tray for 10 minutes before letting them cool completely on a cooling rack.

10. Prepare some melted compound white chocolate to decorate the snout and ears. Colour the white chocolate with charcoal powder for the eyes and nose. Use edible marker to add the markings on the tiger and rosy cheeks.

All packed and ready to go!

Thank God these were very well received! The birthday boy gobbled up the bun before mummy could take a picture :p.

With love,
Phay Shing
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