Category Archives: Recipes
With recent temperatures peaking at below 30 degrees, the blustery winds can only mean that autumn is heading our way. A mere few weeks ago, I was complaining incessantly about the heat and humidity of Shanghai summers, but now that it’s coming to an end, I find myself rather sorry to see it go. Soon, the summery days where we sat outside in short shorts and skirts, enjoying the rays of the sun and licking candy coloured popsicles and chocolate Cornettos will be gone. Instead, they’ll be replaced with cardigans and light autumn scarves, and a hope that perhaps this year, autumn will last longer than a week.
Whilst going to Australia for university does give me a relaxing extra six months of holiday, the pitfalls include having to watch my friends leave one by one. Some I may see again next year, while others, perhaps never. It’s impossible not to be affected by this, and already, I miss my friends so much that I feel like my heart might explode. Regardless, there is nothing left to do but hold onto the vestiges of summer and happy memories of the past five years.
One blistering summer week (in the perpetually summery Thailand) was spent on the party island of Koh Samui. Where…well, we didn’t quite party. Nevertheless, it was fantastic fun, patched together by consecutive sleepless nights of Italian Bridge and countless shots (after enough of them, you really do forget how to count). Many mornings, afternoons and evenings were spent in the cool presence of the infinity pool, where we were successfully lulled into a false security – that is, until we were tossed into the pool by nameless individuals (Luke and Francis). The highlight of which was when Francis finally got revenge on Luke by Sparta-kicking him into the pool. Ahh, sweet vengeance.
Then there was the joint birthday brunch between Gabriel and I. Between the hours of 12 and 6, we partied, feasted, drank and watched Winnie the Pooh. Stuffed full from the tableful of pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon, salad, cold platter and freshly home baked bread, we then continued to gorge ourselves upon the dessert end of the table. Laden with fifty odd chocolate banana and vanilla cupcakes, accompanied by whipped chocolate frosting and whipped cream and caramel banana bread, I don’t think my stomach has ever been so close to Winnie the Pooh’s. Luckily for him, the look is adorable on the bear. On me? Not so much. Lastly, we brought out a four layered tiramisu cake that we could barely eat after stuffing ourselves with so many goodies. But we did it anyway. What can I say? There’s always room for dessert.
On that day, I received not only a ridiculously comfortable, humongous leopard print beanbag (placed next to my laptop for size comparison), but also the best card I have ever seen and received.
The sangria that we served at this birthday brunch captures the very essence of summer – it’s the kind of drink that unmistakeably builds the vision of tropical fruits ripening on luscious green vines, and is downright delicious. Being a brunch party, it would hardly have been appropriate to serve alcoholic sangria when it had barely hit noon. Instead, I added more fruit juices to make up for the wine, which did make the sangria much sweeter than it would have been, but saved me the effort of boiling simple syrup.
The wonderful things about tiggers sangria are that it is deceivingly easy to make, and will taste wonderful no matter what combination of juices you use. While I started with the recipe below, it was all gone in neck breaking speed, so I had to whip up an extra two batches with whatever juices I had left (read: poured in random juices and grenadine syrup that I had lying around).
To keep the sangria cool, half fill a bundt pan with water and freeze. If you, like me, don’t have the freezer room for an entire bundt pan because your fridge is too full of frozen cakes and goodies, then don’t fret! Just fill up a lock&lock box with water, or even more juice and freeze. This will keep the sangria consistently cool without diluting it much.
As for the club soda or soda water, while Pellegrino and San Benedetto are more economical since you can buy them in 1.5L bottles, Schweppes’ club soda has twice the carbonated goodness. I used a mixture of both, since that’s what I had on hand.
When serving the sangria, pour it into a humongous, but pretty bowl (regretfully, I only had my metal mixing bowl. Sad, I know), and furnish with a stack of glasses and a ladle, so that you can sit back and let everyone serve themselves. Not everyone can hire cater waiters like Dan Humphrey. If you do serve some sangria, be sure to ladle a few slices of lemon or lime, or any other fruit into the glasses. It makes a simple drink look effortlessly tropical and classy.
Lastly, I would just like to raise a glass to my friends for being so utterly amazing.
Adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef
- 750ml grape juice
- 250ml apple juice
- 250ml orange juice
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, thinly sliced
- 1 large orange, thinly sliced
- 1 plum, thinly sliced
- 1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 500-750ml sparkling water or club soda (to taste)
- The night before, put sliced fruits and fruit juices into a jug and let them marinate overnight. Half fill a bundt pan or a lock&lock box with water and freeze.
- Just before serving, transfer sangria into a large punch bowl. Add ice and club soda to taste. Stir.
As you all well know, bananas are kind of my thing. I buy them in bulk and eat them when they’re perfectly ripe, then freeze the spotty, brown ones for later.
After throwing an entire, unpeeled banana into the freezer, I learned a very important rule in banana freezing: never throw an unpeeled banana into the fridge. The skin turns black, and when frozen, is logically horrendous to peel. I had to shave the skin off. Shave! Learning from my stupid, but delicious mistake, I now peel and slice the bananas into 16 pieces (so that I can easily measure bananas by counting) on a plate. Then I just slip all the bananas into an oversized Ziploc bag (less banana-sessed people can use a smaller one) and freeze!
Unlike smoothies with only bananas, milk and yoghurt, but I’ve found that adding a couple more ingredients adds not only a greater depth in flavour, but also tons of health benefits.
I’m the kind of girl who loves a thick, almost frozen smoothie. Unfortunately, most commercial smoothies attain this texture by adding scoop-upon-scoop of ice cream. Instead, I’ve found that oatmeal is a reasonable substitute. It makes the smoothie thick, prevents the smoothie from being overly sweet, and adds a lovely natural base that complements the banana taste. Health wise, oatmeal is uber rich in fibre, keeping you full for longer, and cleaning our your digestive tract (hint: and saving you calories).
However, you would be right to think that plain, dry oatmeal would negatively affect the texture of your smoothie. Instead of using the cardboardy stuff, I soak equal amounts of quick cook oatmeal and water, letting it absorb for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. This oatmeal is then pulverised with some skim milk, so that you don’t get any gritty textures.
Cinnamon is probably my favourite spice to use on sweets. Akin to blueberries, it’s high in antioxidants and aids digestion. Something cool? It also fights type 2 diabetes!
In short, this is probably one of the easiest and yummiest recipes I can ever give you. Just make sure that you have a strong, willing blender; for mine is minuscule and poots acrid smells of burning acrylic when I try to blend ice.
Oh, and of course. What kind of person would I be if I forgot to tell you the following: to make a healthy chocolate banana smoothie, add 2 tbsp of cocoa powder.
All in all, this delightfully slurpable smoothie clocks in at just under 200 calories, while delivering a large dosage of your daily fibre and very little cholesterol. But a smoothie is nowhere near as good without someone to share it with!
Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
Makes 600ml, or two servings
- 1 large banana, frozen
- 1/2 cup oatmeal, soaked
- 150ml skim milk
- 100g plain or vanilla yoghurt
- A dash of cinnamon
For strong blenders:
- Pulverise oatmeal and half of the skim milk, until oatmeal is shredded into tiny pieces. If adding cocoa powder, add here.
- Add everything else, and blend until smooth.
For weak blenders:
- Pulverise oatmeal and half of the skim milk, until oatmeal is shredded into tiny pieces. If adding cocoa powder, add here.
- Add frozen banana and remaining skim milk. Blend until smooth.
- Add dash of cinnamon and yoghurt. Blend until smooth.
Honestly, summer is no time for baking. With the already scorching temperatures outside, the most we can do is lie on the floor, trying to forget the blaze of the sun. Only a masochist would want to open an oven to 180 degrees and undo the fruits of our air conditioner’s labour.
It’s rather a shame, actually, because besides loving to bake cakes, I am one serious tropaholic. Pineapple, mangoes, bananas…I love them all! Right down to each little passionfruit and mangosteen. There’s something so blatantly summery, and happy about tropical fruits, which is why we shouldn’t let the heat get us down. Instead of baking them into delicious carbolicious snacks, we should embrace desserts (and foods) that use other methods to obtain our tastebud’s delight.
So, how about some mousse? Mango mousse, to be specific. It’s deliciously creamy, and easy to make – at the most requiring a quick stir on the stove, which heats up your kitchen considerably less than an oven.
This recipe is actually more of a bavarian cream, but it’s still light and fluffy, while maintaining an explosive burst of mango flavour. This simplistic, but rich dessert can be served at both casual and formal tables, and the fact that it can be pre-made only makes it an easier choice when it comes to serving at events.
Also, I really like mangoes.
Back when I lived in Australia, we had a tree in our backyard. It seemed rather uninteresting, so when we moved in, we never paid it much mind. Then one day, our neighbour came over to see the new house and exclaimed how lucky we were to have a mango tree.
Before we knew it, my dad returned home with a bulging bag of fertiliser. Unfortunately, no one told him that adding too much fertiliser to a plant will burn its roots. Oops. However, the tree was hardy and survived the burned roots, living for many, many more years and bearing hundreds of mango for me to eat.
In some countries, you can buy canned mango puree, which makes this dessert even easier. Alas, Shanghai is lacking in the canned goods aisle, but using fresh mangoes is hardly a downside. I actually prefer to use fresh fruit, rather than their syruped counterparts. For this recipe, you will need 2 medium mangoes. Peel and cut the flesh off, then blend in a blender. Just remember to be careful of your fingers!
- 2 1/2 tsp gelatin
- 2 tbsp water
- 250g mango puree (approximately 2 large mangoes)
- 100g or 1/2 cup sugar
- 227g/8 oz whipping cream.
- Pour the water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water, and set aside until it the gelatine has swollen and sunk.
- Heat the sugar and half of the mango puree in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil. Stir in gelatine until completely dissolved, then stir in remaining mango puree.
- In a large, chilled bowl, whip cream to soft peaks. Gently fold in cooled mango puree mixture, then continue whipping until well incorporated.
- Pour mousse into moulds and refrigerate until set.
The dessert picture is actually a combination of lemon cheesecake and mango mousse that was served with an afternoon tea a while back. Whilst the mango mousse was perfect, I found the lemon cheesecake not lemony enough, and too cheesy by far. More on that once I improve the recipe (:
Wait, what did you say?! Father’s day was two weeks ago?!
I’m just kidding. I actually celebrated Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June and made dinner for my dad. And my family. I didn’t just feed my dad.
Being the sort of girl who has tons of ideas to put on a celebratory menu, but is seriously impaired at whittling them down into something feasible, I decided that I would stick to something simple.
Now, unlike my mom and grandpa, my dad doesn’t like sweet things. He doesn’t like cake. Or cookies. Or ice cream…which leaves my repertoire at…nothing.
So, I got out my handy dandy notebook, and jotted down a couple of things my dad might like. As a rule of thumb, I’ve figured out that guys really like meat, which meant that it had to be the feature of the meal. But as my dad is master of slab-of-meat cooking in the house, steak and salmon were surely out of the question, especially as my experience with cooking meat is thimble-sized.
Luckily for my tender and un-meaty hands, I came across a recipe for apple pie, which inspired me to make a beef meat pie studded with red bullet chillies (though my dad doesn’t like sweets, we are both absolutely coco for chilli).
Instead of the six course dinner that I imagined, I made a lovely Aussie Meat Pie, salad with dressing and taters. That’s po-tae-toes. You can boil ‘em, mash’em or stick ‘em in a stew. I mashed them good, Samwise Gamgee. I mashed them goo-od!
Blabbering aside, let’s make some pie!
First of all, I love my glass baking dishes. It means I never really have to make a pie crust, which not only saves me tons of time, but also makes the food way healthier, since there is usually truckloads of butter hidden in those crusts. Either way, some simple premade puff pastry will result in a deliciously flaky crust.
You’ll also notice that I use my glass baking dishes for brownies. This is because when you grease them, they’re wonderfully non-stick so that I never have to use greaseproof paper, which doesn’t really seem to available here. Also, they’re easy to clean, and look super pretty!
Anyways, you’ll want to dice some onions really small. Because this recipe uses beef mince, and not chunks of beef, you want the onions to be indistinguishable from the meat when you’re eating the pie. While you’re at it, finely chop three cloves of garlic and two or three red bullet peppers. They look a bit like this. They’re really small. Like…well, bullets.
Stir fry your finely chopped onions until they’re yummy and sort of translucent, then throw your beef mince, chilli and garlic in. Keep cooking until your beef is nicely browned. I actually precooked the beef and garlic so that I would have less to do on the day, and because the beef needed to be cooked while it was still fresh.
Combine 1 tbsp of cornstarch with an equal amount of beef stock. If you actually have real beef stock, that’s great. Your pie will taste amazing. If that sort of thing isn’t just laying around your house, a beef stock cube will also work, and your pie will still taste amazing. Cornstarch is usually used as a thickener, so that the sauce from the beef in your pie will be thick instead of watery. Now put that aside, or your beef will burn.
To your beef, add in the rest of the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Stir well to combine, then taste it. If it’s not salty enough, add some Vegemite. However, my beef was already salted, and I used a beef stock cube, so my filling was already plenty salty.
Add in the cornflour mixture, then stir well to combine again. Bring it to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about ten minutes, or until the sauce is thick and has a gravy-like consistency. While it’s simmering, preheat your oven to 220°C and take out your package of puff pastry to defrost. Using a sharp knife and the pan as a guideline, cut puff pastry about 1cm larger than the pan. Wait for it to soften before removing it from the plastic.
By this time, your filling should be about ready, so tip it into the pan and even out the filling with a spoon. Peel off the puff pastry and cover the filling, folding in any sides that are too large.
Beat an egg, then brush onto top of pie. All that’s left to do is bake for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your mashed potatoes.
By the way, this is the professional way to fish potatoes out of the pot.
I like lots of pepper in my mashed potatoes, especially freshly ground pink peppercorns. Extra cute!
Stop. Check out your awesome french manicure.
Start. Make salad, with dressing of your choice. I made a Greek Salad Dressing with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar (more on this next time!)
Pop open a bottle of red wine, and fill your plate with a scrumptious dinner!
P.S. I always find it helpful to make short, cooking notes.
Spicy Aussie Meat Pie
- 400g beef mince, defrosted
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3/4c beef stock or 1 beef stock cube
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Vegemite (optional)
- 2-3 red bullet chilies (optional)
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- Heat oil in saucepan at medium-high heat. Add in garlic and onions. Stir fry onions until soft and translucent (approx 3-4 minutes).
- Add beef mince to the pan, and cook until brown.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1 tbsp beef stock. Stir well.
- To the saucepan, add remaining beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Vegemite (to taste). Stir well to combine.
- Add cornflour mixture and stir well. Bring filling to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until thick. Remove puff pastry from freezer.
- Preheat oven to 220ºC. Using a sharp knife, cut puff pastry to the correct size.
- Fill the pan with the filling and even out with a spoon (as in, press it down, not eat all the uneven bits). Place the puff pastry on top of the filling, folding in any sides that are too big.
- Brush puff pastry with beaten egg.
- Bake approx 20 minutes, or until puff pastry has puffed up, and is browned at the top.
For once in my life, I am not talking about the most fantastic yellow pineapple. Today, I must impress upon you the magical powers of bananas.
Bananas are awesome. They’re delicious, healthy and can be used for almost everything.
Did you know that bananas are super high in potassium? For you non-biology HLers, potassium is really important for neurotransmission and water regulation. As a result, it reduces strokes and even blood pressure! They up your brain power, so they’re the ideal food for exams – not to mention they’re conveniently packaged into a squishable container.
You may also have noticed that bananas resemble a…umm, certain organ below the torso (hint: only half of us have one). Yup. Bananas are an aphrodisiac too.
Even though they don’t look anything we’ve got, bananas are awesome for us, girls – particularly during that time of month. The water regulating benefits prevent bloating and the plentiful iron wards off anaemia. Besides all of that, the fact that they’re packed full of vitamin B6 means that it regulates our glucose and keeps our spirits up (with some help from tryptophan, but more on that next time). This means that when you eat a banana, your mood suddenly perks up and your cramps hurt less! Hurrah!
Besides being calorie-free, the only thing that could make bananas better for us girls is if you could somehow, just possibly, combine bananas with chocolate.
Oh, wait. You totally can. All you need is some chocolate banana cake.
Chocolate, bananas and cake? That’s practically a 3-in-1. There isn’t no deal better than that.
First, you have to mix some cocoa powder with hot water and leave it aside, while you deal with the bananas. It’s alright, we’ll come back for His Royal Deliciousness (and now, we are not talking about Prince Will. The baldness is just so off-putting).
And look! Yoghurt! Lovely, plain yoghurt which is full of calcium. That’s also good for you, right? Just chuck your bananas and yoghurt into your blender and mix, mix, mix.
By the way, did you know that the stringy stuff between the peel and edible banana is the phloem?! Completely mad, I know. Put your hand up if you understood what I just said. Put on your nerd glasses if you’re amazed.
Thanks for making me feel better about my geekiness (:
Now you can throw in your cocoa mixture. Personally, this reminds me of Art Attack, no?
Now add in your softened butter. Erm. Yeah. For all of you who had a heart attack just looking at this picture, don’t worry! We only need to use, uh, two thirds of that. Hey. It’s a BIG cake, alright?
Don’t forget about the yummy banana-chocolate mixture we just made! You need to add that too. It’s the most important part!
Now it’s time to beat this pile of ingredients into a delicious cake batter! As a leader for all the lazy people out there, I used an electric mixer.
I took a quick taste test to check for deliciousness factor. Definitely there.
Once your batter is smoothity smooth, pour it into your pan and bake for waaay too long, while the mouthwatering smell of banana and chocolate wafts through your entire house.
When cooked, let it cool completely and decorate it however you like. I opted for a dark chocolate ganache (of course) to emphasise the chocolate flavour. There is no such thing as too much chocolate, people!
So, ladies and gentlemen, I really recommend, no – demand that you make this cake.
Make it for the suffering girls. Make it for your friends, your family and even your dog.
Or maybe, you can make it for someone you really care about. For a special occasion.
Chocolate Banana Cake
Adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (3 fl oz) boiling water
- 1 large banana, peeled and lightly mashed
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp full fat, plain yoghurt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (100g) cake flour
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 10 tbsp (142g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Whisk cocoa and boiling water together in a bowl until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap (to prevent evaporation) and cool to room temp for 30 min (or put in fridge to quicken the process).
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (375°F). Grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan.
- Using a food processor, blend the banana and yoghurt together until smooth. Add in eggs one-by-one, cocoa mixture and vanilla extract, pulsing inbetween each addition.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt with an electric beater for 30 seconds on low (or mix by hand).
- Cut butter into small cubes, and add to the flour mixture. Pour in half of the banana-cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until all dry ingredients are moistened, then raise speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On medium-low speed, gradually add the rest of the banana-cocoa mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition. The batter will be light and creamy.
- Scrape batter into pan and flatten top with a spatula or knife. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the middle. While cake is baking, make your ganache.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the wire rack and cool completely. If your cake is domed, re-invert your cake again to prevent splitting.
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- 227g dark chocolate (60%-62% cocoa)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp Kahlua or Baileys (or choose your own liqueur)
- Cut chocolate into tiny pieces or pulverize in food processor.
- Scald cream in a small saucepan – do not boil!
- If cutting chocolate: put chocolate in a large bowl, pour the scalded cream, vanilla and liqueur in and leave for 1 minute, then whisk (by hand) until smooth, avoiding incorporating too much air.
- If using food processor: pour scalded cream into the running food processor in a steady stream and process until smooth. Pulse in vanilla and liqueur.
- Cover with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature, until it is of frosting consistency.
- Decorate your cake!
Remember that delicious, fragrant orange yoghurt cake?
Yes, that one. Think of this as a sequel. But a good one. This isn’t High School Musical 2, here. This cake is totally like that one. But grapefruit. Like it’s supposed to be.
Speaking of things that are supposed to be, I think this zester and I are supposed to be. Sorry, Gabriel.
And it turns out that bald grapefruits are just as funny looking as bald oranges.
And just check out that pile of zest from one grapefruit. I’m loving grapefruits already.
Go on. I dare you.
Every baker knows that the number of eggs is directly proportional to the yumminess of a cake.
Now that’s math for you.
Which makes the deliciousness of this cake batter 8.16 x 10^3.
Express this as a chart? Percentage of cake that looks like Pac man…all of it.
Super easy and delicious. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee. And if you aren’t a fan of coffee? Then, enjoy it with a cup of coffee anyway.
Seriously. Coffee is amazing.
But in all seriousness, this cake is just fragrant and delicious as the other one, but more zesty, I would think. So it’s more bitter and face-scrunchy than if you used oranges.
So, go on. If you’re a sissy, make the other cake. Otherwise, here’s the recipe for this one.
Gâteau au yaourt et au pamplemousse
(Grapefruit Yoghurt Cake)
Adapted from Foodbeam
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 250g plain yoghurt (yaourt nature)
- 1 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 3/8 cups vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- zest & juice from 1 large grapefruit
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour an 8-inch springform pan.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in plain yoghurt.
- Pour in oil & eggs, beaten. Add in zest of grapefruit. Mix until combined and lump-free.
- Put mixture into prepared pan and bake 30-35 min or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool, then squeeze juice of remaining grapefruit over the cake.
The reason I baked a packet mix the other day, or joining “the dark side” as Alan affectionately called it, is because it was part of a bigger picture. Juggling the ridiculous mountain of Biology past papers and baking, it seemed like a good way to use up some brownies and time. So what is a brownie mosaic cheesecake?
A brownie mosaic cheesecake is…a toasty caramelly-digestive biscuit base, topped with a fluffy vanilla cheesecake with – hold your horses! – an abundance of fudgy, brownie chunks floating in it. The result? One pretty damn orgasmic cheesecake.
It’s time to get down to some serious business. Put on your apron, tie back your hair and roll up those sleeves. We are going to…take out your cream cheese and yoghurt from the fridge. You want to let them warm to room temperature before we do anything because cream cheese hardens really easily.
Now we begin. You want to get some digestive biscuit first. I’m sure an oreo or chocolate biscuit base would be equally blissful, but nothing carries a toffee-like flavour like digestive biscuits do. So there. I used about 175g of digestive biscuits for this crust. If you’re one of those people who absolutely love crust, like me, you can double the crust for a doubly delicious cheesecake. Damn. I should have done that.
Anyway, select your weapon of choice. I decided that the meat tenderising hammer was a good way to smash some biscuits to oblivion.
But then I felt that my gigantic mixing bowl’s life was in danger, so I settled on a much less threatening wooden rolling pin.
Of course, you could just chuck all of it into the food processor but I really cannot be bothered to wash that thing, so instead, I spent a good 10 minutes smashing biscuits into crumbs. Did that not make sense? Get used to it.
Once your biscuits are sufficiently crushed (chunks are cute too!), chuck in 3 tablespoons of fine brown sugar. Then melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of black treacle in the microwave. Do this in little increments of 5-10 seconds because if the treacle boils…well, good luck. Vaguely whisk this mixture together, even though it really doesn’t want to and pour it into your biscuit crumbs (Hulk! Smash!). Mash the mixture together with a pinch of salt until it’s nicely blended and there are no pebbles of brown sugar.
Tip this into your prepared pan. I used a 9 1/2 inch springform pan, but a 9 inch springform would also work. It might be a good idea to grease the sides of the pan. I didn’t, and it came out absolutely fine – just not as pretty as it could have been. Press the crumbs into the base of the pan until there are no gaps and it’s nicely compressed. Loose bases are not cool. Like how if I decided to chainsaw through the foundations of your house, causing a collapse, it would
also not be cool. (:
Chuck this into an oven preheated to 175 C for about 10-12 minutes, until it smells DELICIOUS! Take it out and let it cool completely before filling.
…Meanwhile, we’re going to make the cheesecake filling! To make this recipe all that much easier, I chose a really really easy cheesecake recipe. All you do is cream your…cream cheese until it’s nice and fluffy. Then add your sugar and salt and cream that in too.
Basically, cream your mixture after every addition of the following.
Eggs. Vanilla. Yoghurt.
I recommend using full-fat sugar-free yoghurt, by the way. The imported kind. Carrefoure carries it in several brands and they’re all okay for this recipe. The reason I use imported yoghurt is because the texture is more pudding-like, unlike the liquid, sugary Chinese yoghurt.
Can you believe it? You’re almost done already! Chop your brownies roughly to about 1cm cubes and scatter them evenly on your pre-baked crust. Then pour your cheesecake mixture over the top and wiggle the pan about to get the batter around all of the brownie chunks and up to the sides. Bake this for 25-30 minutes in an oven preheated to 175 C, then very quickly rotate the pan 180 degrees and turn off the oven. Without opening the oven door, let the cheesecake sit for about 40 minutes. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven and leave it outside for a while. Cheesecakes crack because of sudden temperature changes, but while it’s outside, it’s at risk. While the cheesecake is baking, you should take advantage of the time and prepare a fort and armed guards to protect your cheesecake. When your cheesecake is cool to the touch, you can move it to the fridge.
And that’s it! Now, you can all be jealous of my delicious cheesecake.
See you next time! (;
And that’s the end of my Biology mountain, too!
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Use your favourite brownie mix, or wait for my upcoming low-fat brownie recipe!
Digestive Biscuit Cheesecake Base
- 175g digestive biscuits
- 2 tbsp (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp black treacle
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 175 C.
- Using preferred weapon, crush biscuits into crumbs in a medium bowl.
- Add the brown sugar and salt to the crumbs and stir to combine.
- Melt butter and black treacle together in the microwave, whisk gently, then pour into crumbs.
- Stir until well combined, then press firmly into the bottom of a 9 or 9 1/2 inch springform pan.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely before using.
Vanilla Yoghurt Cheesecake
Adapted from Baking Bites
- 150g unsalted cream cheese, room temperature
- 350g plain yoghurt, room temperature
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese using a stand mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Approx 1 min.
- Add sugar and salt beating until well combined. Add eggs, vanilla and yoghurt, beating well after each addition.
- Blend mixture until extremely smooth, then pour into a 9 or 9 1/2 inch springform with pre-baked base.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, then very quickly, rotate the pan 180 degrees. Turn off the oven, and without opening the oven door, let cheesecake sit for about 40 minutes.
- Let cheesecake cool for at least 2 hours before moving to the fridge.
It seems that each time a big holiday rolls around, I get the urge to blog again. Unfortunately, China has not been the kindest and has blocked wordpress. Yet again. But it’s alright, guys, because here I am, blogging via proxy.
Now, I’m not really a resolution kind of person, but here’s a resolution for this year: blog. often!
Let me admit something now. I baked a package mix the other day. I’m not proud of it, and I still cannot stand the processed packages of dust, but I made one anyway. Why? My brother requested brownies, I felt lazy and there was a package of Betty Crocker brownie mix that would expire if no one ate it. And I would not eat it.
You see, the thing about package mixes is that yes – they’re horrendously easy and can be whipped up in under 10 minutes – but in terms of flavour, they fall flat. Literally. You see, in a packet brownie mix, you can taste the…sugar and chocolate flavouring, but mostly just the sugar which has been added with all the finesse of a tow truck. But when you taste real, baked-from-scratch brownies, you can taste all the levels of flavour: the chocolate, cocoa powder, butter, milk. It’s an amazing amalgamation of flavours and textures that makes you go to dessert heaven.
So I’m a package mix snob. It’s not a big deal. I just believe that some things shouldn’t come in packages. Mashed potatoes for instance. Just add water?! That’s insane. They’re not mashed potatoes if they’re not potatoes or mashed and potatoes are most definitely not powdered. Still, being this snob has made me the butt of jokes before. A certain someone has covered my eyes while in the supermarket, claiming to “save me from the packet mixes”.
Now that I think about it, packet mixes aren’t all that bad. I mean, it’s actually where I began (with the same mix, at that!). So if that package mix on the shelf will get you, my non-baking friend, into the kitchen and stirring up a bowl of love, then by all means, go for it!
These brownies were actually made for another reason – which will be made clear in part 二.
For now, just bear with me here (:
Of course, no post would be complete without some calorie-cutting!
The recipe card on the back of that oh-so-familiar box calls for 2/3 cups of oil. Psh. No way. I used a scant 1/2 cup and made up for it with two dashes of milk and some extra water.
Secondly, bake the brownies in a laaaarge rectangular tray. And I mean LARGE! I chose the biggest one that would fit in my oven, so that I could have a nice, thin brownie. You’ll see why later.
Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C as specified on box.
Line that tray with aluminium foil and grease it too if you want them to be easy to remove. I totally didn’t do this and kind of regretted it later but no worries – you can still get the foil off quite easily.
Pour that sugary madness of a mix into your large bowl and mash madly with a spatula at all of the lumps, cursing at how you cannot sift it because all the sugar would jam your pretty German sifter.
In another bowl, beat 2 eggs and 1/2 cup oil together. I always do this first, even when it’s not specified because the eggs emulsify the oil, making it easier to blend! Add in the water and two dashes of milk. Skim or whole, your choice!
Make a crater in your sugar mountain and pour the egg mixture in and stir like a madman with your spatula. This is a packet mix. Nothing can go wrong. Ever. Unless you are my brother and decide to stir in a packet of cream cheese. It just…makes rock solid brownies that can be used to bounce knives en pointe off of.
Pour it into your tray and bake! Mine took about 20 minutes, which is alright, I guess. I like fudgy brownies so I think I kind of overbaked it. Oh well.
Another day, another post.
P.S. for those package snobs (just like me!), I’ll be updating with a low-fat brownie recipe sometime soon. Remind me (;
Oh, I’m so far gone.
One of the things I love about being on holiday is the sudden abundance of great cereal. Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Honey Clusters? Coco Pops and Fruit Loops? I’m putty in their sugary hands.
But for some reason, when I reached the cereal aisle in the reasonably large Cold Storage, I ended up reaching for the only cereal (well, muesli) with no added sugar.
I think eating healthier has just been ingrained into my brain now (excluding cakes, of course). Or maybe I’m feeling bad for eating all that food in the UK… Either way, it’s a good thing. And it doesn’t even feel like I’m trying to be healthy. I actually really think the muesli tastes good! It’s awesome with some creamy strawberry yoghurt piled on top. Unlike some other cereals –cough cornflakes cough-, it stays all crunchy and has yummy sultanas and nuts in it (For all you nut haters: I don’t care. All the more for me!)
Another thing I love is when fruits suddenly go into season and it so happens that it’s currently cherry season. The US must have had one hell of a bountiful harvest this year because cherries are hitting the shelves at a REALLY low price, even here in Singapore where food is more expensive because they all have to be shipped in (too small to grow food! Haha!).
I had a lot of leftover buttermilk from a chocolate cake that I baked earlier. I was super excited about using buttermilk because they don’t have it in Shanghai, so I use a substitute of lemon juice and milk.
Let me sum this up for you in a simple equation.
Cherries + Buttermilk + Lots of Love
a very Berry Buttermilk Cake + More Love
I love this cake. Surprisingly enough, so does my dad, and he doesn’t even really like cake (the horror, I know). I guess it’s because it’s not one of those decadent triple layered chocolate cakes that you have to attack with a big glass of milk. Nope, it’s one of those light, everyday cakes (a great idea, no?). It’s perfect with something so simple as a latte or a cup of tea. This means that it’s totally justifiable to have for breakfast.
Besides, it’s really lovely and soft. The texture is really springy and it just tastes like summer.
Luckily for you, I am all about the simple this summer. Most likely because I’m stuck here with only a whisk and spoon to help me. This means that you have NO excuse not to make this cake! Get your chef hats on, people!
(As usual, recipe at bottom)
Step one. Find some cherries. It doesn’t matter if they’re Rainier cherries or your normal cherries. Heck, they don’t even have to be cherries! Go for any berry you like! Raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries (which don’t actually look like geese) or even a handful of each. Just make sure you wash them!
Step two. Start pitting and halving your cherries. There are cherry pitters out there that pop out your cherries nice and whole-like but I feel that it’s an unnecessary piece of equipment that most people will use about twice a decade. Instead, I use a small sharp knife and holding the cherry in my left hand, cut down the centre of cherry all the way around. Then use the knife to pry the halves apart which comes out pretty neat. Then use the point of the knife to dig out the pit. This kind of takes a while, so I wouldn’t start pre-heating your oven until you’re done.
If you’re using strawberries, make sure you hull and half them (quarter if they’re large). As pretty as the green and red would be in a cake, you won’t appreciate it nearly as much when you have a mouthful of strawberry leaves. You’re going to want about one cup of berries. I opted for a heaping cup because I’m all about over-the-top.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Centigrade (400 Fahrenheit). Then butter and flour a 9 inch round cake tin.
Measure and sift together one cup of flour, and half teaspoon each of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt and whisk them together with…well, a whisk.
Step four. Cream together 56g of butter and two thirds cup of caster sugar. You want to beat them together really well until it’s light and fluffy.
Tip: If you’re beating by hand and you’re getting really annoyed with the bowl shaking and the repetitive sound of it hitting the counter, tightly wrap a kitchen towel around the base. It solves all of your problems (except for the sore arm. Sorry!) 😀
This whole creaming thing is much much easier with a beater or stand mixer, but hey! It’s exercise. But if you’re at home and making this with an appliance, beat it for about 2 minutes.
Okay, this step is super duper important as this is one of the reasons your cake is going to be fluffy. The sugar punches holes into the butter which is why it pales in colour and makes your cake all airy. It pretty much sets up the structure. However, this is not as important in this cake as other cakes because there are other helpful factors.
Step five. Add in a half teaspoon (feel free to add more :D) of vanilla extract. None of that flavouring! PUT DOWN THAT BOTTLE! It’s bad for you! Plus, it doesn’t taste nearly as good.
If you’re adding lemon zest, add in a half teaspoon of the finely grated stuff now! I didn’t because I didn’t have a lemon…or a grater.
Anyway, mix it all up until it’s evenly blended.
Step six. Okay, this is the kind of scary part. It’s easy…but will probably scare you half to death and gross you out at the same time. So basically, just crack your egg into the butter and sugar mixture and beat well.
Why is it scary? Well…because when you start mixing it all up, it kind of ends up looking like…
Yes. It looks absolutely disgusting. I would not eat it, Sam I Am.
Well, don’t give up. Just keep beating it and beating it and beat it *cue Michael Jackson* some more. Until it looks like something more edible. Here, I’ll even hold your hand through the process. (:
See? That looks WAY better. Smells good too. Just like real vanilla.
Step seven. Now you’re going to add your flour mixture and buttermilk into the butter and sugar. You’re going to want to add the flour in three parts, alternating with buttermilk. Flour should be both the first and last in the order. So to make that simple, it goes flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour.
So first, add just one third of your flour mixture in. This is called tempering which tempers your mixture so that you don’t overload it with flour which can make it really lumpy…which as you know, I absolutely hate.
Stir the mixture until it’s just combined. That means no overbeating! It’s okay to stop when you still have a couple streaks of flour left.
The main reason you don’t want to overbeat the mixture is because it encourages the formation of gluten and too much of it will give your cakes the same texture as Hagrid’s (delicious, I’m sure) rock cakes.
Then add a quarter cup well-shaken buttermilk. I just measure out a half cup, then splash approximately half of it in. Mix until just combined again.
Now it’s time to add the second third of your flour in! Once again, not being accurate here. Just kind of slop what you think is about right in. Generally, my first addition is the smallest and last is the largest. Mix until well combined!
Add the remaining buttermilk. By the way, the buttermilk is the reason why you can be slack about creaming the sugar and butter together.
Warning! Simple chemistry up ahead!
Baking powder has an acid AND base, making it useful on it’s own, but baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda) is basic. Therefore you have a simple acid + base reaction, releasing carbon dioxide which creates the texture of your cake. Buttermilk is acidic, therefore you get double the boost in making a lovely fluffy cake!
For the last time…mix until just combined. Relieved? Me too.
See how yummy it looks now??
You’re almost almost there now! Just plop all of the batter into your prepared pan. It’s thicker than the usual batter, so use a knife or spatula to even it out.
Spread it right up to the edges because otherwise you might get a more domed cake. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like domes unless they’re on cupcakes. Then they’re just cute (:
All you have to do now is arrange your cherries or whatever berries you’re using on the batter. I put my cherries hole facing the ceiling because that way, they’re less likely to sink into the batter. I really want them to stay in their pretty formation. You can do whatever design you want, but I went for an encircled star (:
Maybe you can do a heart for Valentines day or a Christmas tree or just chuck them everywhere.
When you’re finished plonking cherries onto your batter, take 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and just sprinkle it evenly all over the surface of your cake. I have forgotten this step both times I’ve baked this cake and ended up risking my hand in 200 degree ovens attempting to sprinkle sugar 10 minutes after baking.
When you’re done designing, put it in your long pre-heated oven and bake! I love how it puffs up so much . It reminds me of clouds 😀 Yummy…cherry flavoured clouds…mmm…
It does look very puffy right now, but it’ll deflate a bit when you take it out of the oven. You’ll be able to see that there is no sugar sprinkled on my cake. This is because I forgot. Yet again. But I realised my pitiful mistake minutes after taking this photo and risked my limbs to correct my mistake. I really love the idea of sprinkling sugar on top though. It makes this yummy golden sugary crust that crunches when you bite into the cake. -sigh-. Heaven.
The recipe said bake for 20-25 minutes, but mine was ready at just 18, so start checking early when it begins to golden on the top.
Aaand, you’re done! Cool it for 10 minutes in the pan, tip it out onto a wire rack for another 10-15 min, then slice and eat!
P.S. This cake is totally waistline friendly!
Cherry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 stick (56g) butter, unsalted
- 2/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar, divided
- 1/2 tsp vanilla (feel free to add a bit more)
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated (optional)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup well shaken buttermilk (see tip)
- 1 cup cherries, halved and pitted
- Preheat oven to 200°C (400° F). Butter and flour one 9-inch round pan.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- Beat together butter and 2/3 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Approximately 2 minutes by appliance.
- Add vanilla and zest, mixing to combine.
- Crack in egg and beat well until smooth.
- At a low speed, add flour in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. (Flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour). Mix until just combined.
- Spoon batter into pan and spread evenly.
- Sprinkles cherries over the top, then sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp sugar all over the surface.
- Bake 16-20 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto rack and cool for 10-15 minutes more.
Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk, it can easily be replaced by 1 tbsp of lemon juice, then filling it with milk up to the 1 cup mark. Let the mixture curdle for 10 minutes, then give it a good stir before using.