Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Orange Cake II

I was tempted to leave this post wordless but knowing me, I am a woman of "not-so-few" words so if you are just here to check out the orange cake I baked (that everyone on my twitter list probably knows about by now), you can click the X button on the top right hand corner of the browser like right now. Oh. If you are wondering why the photos are a bit different than the other posts, that is because I took them. My brother finally declared he was not going to take anymore photos for me unpaid and I am too broke to pay him. Nah. Of course not. It was a matter of timing and if you are really interested in the real reason, you know what to do!

So. Orange cake.
The second orange cake.
I have been reading this blog for awhile now and her Sicilian Orange Cake has been on my to-do-list ever since she posted it up. I did not have Sicilian oranges on hand so I used the normal variety. Like the last time, I did not have all the required ingredients so it was a trip down to the supermarket at 12.45am to grab a packet of self-raising flour. Luckily this time, it did not involve any cooling (no fans) and it used relatively few bowls and things so that means less clean up. Yay! It was a pretty straightforward and uncomplicated recipe which did not require much time which was perfect for a very lazy student who needs the last hours to try to finish up her readings. It turned out quite superbly beautiful as you can see and I absolutely adored the color of it. Being the Amy that I am, I baked this cake
the night on the day in which I have a 9am class and so it was rushrushrush to make the icing and take photos of the cake before I rushrushrush to school. I did not have a lot of time to do everything so I am pretty pleased the photos turned out alright.

I was of course late for school. By the time I sat down, I was ravenous and proceeded to take out a slice of the orange cake which my mother lovingly packed for me while I was rushing to stuff my books into my bag and started eating, oblivious to the fact that the lecturer was having a round of "Let me see if I remember your names". It was not till the person next to me nudged me that I looked up from my cake, holding my fork in mid-air and realized that he had reached me and
obviously could not remember my name, my chinese name. I stupidly told him my name with my fork still in mid-air and I swear I could see him making a big cross on the name sheet he was holding. Ah well. I think I am going to fail that class. Haha.

I gave the other slice I brought to my lunch buddy for that day and shared my half-eaten piece with my good friend who obviously did not mind it being half-eaten and both of them declared it REALLY GOOD. I have to disagree though. I thought that the orange flavour was not pronounced enough perhaps due to the kind of oranges I used and that the cake was so so so sweet that I could only taste the sugar. I felt like I was eating a sugar cake. Although I have to say in all fairness, it was still a pretty good cake and it will definitely taste awesome for someone who has a sweet tooth. I might try this again maybe with less sugar next time but you should try making it and tell me what you think eh?

Making this orange cake unlike the other made me realize that maybe that is what we all want in life, to be simple, uncomplicated and amazingly sweet. Of course, we do not always get what we want and sometimes we do not even know whether that is what we want. Life is full of confusion, doubts and probably a large dose of sorrow but someday, we will get an orange cake day and maybe everything will be alright again.

Meet me, will you on an orange cake day?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Orange Cake I

Orange Cake.
How did I embark on the journey to make it?
It is quite a simple reason really. I asked my BFF1 what her favourite cake was and she replied "Orange Cake" and so Orange cake it is. She however did not get the cake that I baked for her. What happened?

Before I get to that, I have to tell you about the whole process of baking the Orange cake 1. Nic was set to go back to Auckland and I obviously waited till the last minute to bake her favourite cake having just texted her the day night before she was set to leave. I did not even have to do much digging for the recipe because I already know which one I was going to make. This one. The recipe I agree is a tad bit tedious and maybe a wee bit complicated but I was determined to make it anyway. One problem was I had only 2 eggs in the pantry. Not a big problem although it was nearing 12am because I had a 24 hour supermarket just 10 steps (ok, 100++ steps) away. So ingredient problem solved, I proceeded to boil the oranges and boy it took a looooong time! It was not too bad though because I was working on her card in the meantime.

The oranges were finally done but I had to wait for it to cool and smart me decided I shall leave them on the table near the fan so it would cool faster right? WRONG. Technically if you did it that way, it would be correct but for me, things went so wrong and I think I may have actually died. A bit melodramatic but you judge for yourself and no, sorry, I do not have a video of what happened. It would definitely be one of the top few videos on #I should have died I should think. SO, I placed the plate with the boiled oranges on the table and reached out to switch on the switch for the fan and as soon as the switch went “click”, there was immediately a very loud “BANG” and a lot of crazy whirring sounds and for a moment, I was in shock before I quickly reached for the switch. My mother suddenly appeared from my room and stared at me and then stared at all the things and the floor and she did that repeatedly for like five times and finally asked me what had happened. What happened? What happened?!?! I actually do not know and I was pretty much in shock myself. However, judging from the debris on the ground in which the blasted metal casing of the fan lay halfway across the room and the blades of fan, cracked and splintered, decorated my living room floor in all sizes and shape, I gathered that the screws that held the casing of my fan was probably loose or something and it flew out when I switched it on. My mother finally asked me if I was OK and I apparently was because if I was bleeding or lying in my own pool of blood, my mother would have probably screamed/shrieked when she came out of my room instead of alternating her views between the floor and myself, let alone asking me if I was OK. IF I was actually switching on the switch while standing in front of the fan, I probably would be typing this (or not) in the hospital (or not) and so I really thank my lucky stars that I was standing behind the fan when I switched it on.

Death averted and debris swept, I proceeded to finish baking the cake in which my near death experience (luckily) did not leave me paralysed with fear and I got it done quite successfully, out of the oven and cooling on the racks. It was 5 am then and I had to go get ready to go to the airport. You would think that there would be no more drama after that no? Oh, I was sooo wrong. The cake was still pretty hot when I needed to leave but I was pretty adamant about cutting a slice to bring it with me, after all the whole point of baking the cake was for Nic! In all of her goodness, my mother tried to help but uh the cake was destroyed because of that. It just fell apart and stuff and it was quite a heart wrenching scene which I could not really remember for that exact same reason. That was what happened to Orange cake 1. I guess the only good part out of this was that I manage to finish the card for my BFF1 so she did not exactly get zero things from me and that I ate some of the broken up pieces and it tasted pretty good so I am definitely making this cake again. This time I know, it will not involve any fans.

Making this orange cake made me realize that sometimes even if you escape the worst of things, you cannot escape the bad things that ARE going to happen sooner or later and to be honest, I really do not know how to handle them. Not one single bit.

P.S Sorry for sounding so :( but that is just what I have been feeling these few days. Not that I am not dark and twisty all the time but just more so these days. I hope life is treating all of you good though.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


First bake/s of the year!

Brownies were my first bake of the year!!
If I seem excited, it is only because never in all my baking life did i come across the terms "first bake" till recently and I got to know of it just in time to use it, so pardon my excitement over oh-so-trivial things. So, excitement aside, no, not really, I was very excited to make brownies for my first bake. Many of my friends were all "uhhhhh.okkkk.Tell me why are you excited again?" when I told them I was making brownies. They pointed out (some more dramatically then others) that my homemade list had at least 2 or 3 posts on brownies so it was nothing very revolutionARY so what is the BFD?

I told them in the voice you use when you are about to reveal a big secret that I was going to make THE BAKED BROWNIE from my spanking new BAKED recipe book. After standing there after revealing my news with a very super wide grin on my face as though I was going to gloat to my brothers about seeing Santa eating cookies and milk on Christmas Eve for about 10 seconds, I realized they had the same faces they had before I told them anything. There was one particular friend who laughed at me on Facebook saying "Haha! baked brownies". For those of you who are a bit slow, yeah, brownies are baked, I do not think their birthing place was anywhere else besides the oven. I finally realized that there are not many people that know what THE BAKED BROWNIE is unless you are in the U.S, you watch Oprah or you love baking and like me stalk a million and one (not that many) baking blogs and tastespot, foodgawk, etc every day so for those who know it, you know what I am talking about!! Awesomeness.

Of course, I would need to taste the real BAKED BROWNIE to know how mine fared but without eating the real one, like always, I always seem to have some missing ingredients and not do something right so I cannot really call it THE BAKED BROWNIE. Not yet. Until the day I can declare I did it perfect from step 1-10 using all the correct measurement pans and ingredients can I actually proclaim whether that something is THE something. I know it sounds just a tad bit extreme or I am making excuses for my poor baking skills but yes, there it is, really.

What did I miss out this time? White granulated sugar. I had a bout less than 1/4 cup left and so I used that 1/4 cup and added 1 +1/2 cups of light brown sugar when the recipe called for 1+1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar. I also put in a bit less of the dark chocolate because I am damn broke (IKR, it is the starting of the year and I am broke already?!) and that I had no time to go to the specific places which sold Valrhona here so I only bought 3 bars of 100g Lindt 70% Chocolate when they asked for 11 ounces. I also thought the Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder was the dark unsweetened kind but I am thinking maybe not? If any cocoa powder expert is reading, please comment to enlighten me on this? I am also confused as to the instant espresso powder that I bought is actually instant espresso powder. So ingredients confusion+problems aside, I did not have a 9-by-13 inch so I used a 9-by-9 inch and I do not know if I overmixed, overbeated the batter at any point of time. So after all that...

So yes. That is my BAKED brownie. I "googled" THE BAKED BROWNIE on tastespotting and I realized they all looked different and I think none of them looked like the one in the book. If you have the book, you can compare mine with the book but mine is probably higher because I used a 9-by-9 inch instead of a 9-by-13 inch. Before I talk about the taste, I also on the same night/morning (it was after 12am) baked my go-to-brownies in which I used the Alice Medrich recipe using no chocolate and just cocoa powder.

The Alice Medrich recipe is my go-to recipe because it is very simple and you cant go wrong with it much and that it requires the least amount of equipment and that means less washing up to do. I absolutely detest washing dishes. Bleargh. I added nuts into my brownies this time which I normally try not to because my brothers both detest eating nuts almost as much as my dislike for washing dishes because I was bringing some to a party and some of my friends <3

Then it was brownie-off time!

I did a little survey while my friends and family were happily munching on these brownies and almost all of them preferred my go-to brownies to the BAKED one. However, this is as they say not a very fair experiment and there will definitely be a "re-match" once I master the art of baking THE BAKED BROWNIE and make sure there are no nuts in the Medrich one. Looking forward to it!

I know this entry is already super long and if you are tired reading, feel free to click the "X" at the top right hand corner. For those who like me love long letters and blog posts. Here is a rather long P.S. I used to when I started baking hate brownies because I never seem to get it right. It always turned out a flop or too cakey. Then one day, I found my go-to recipe for brownies and I decided to give brownies a second chance and the rest is history as they say as I never looked back. I am not really going to espouse any grand theory or morals here but sometimes, all it takes is some faith and luck!:)

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Truffles and I go a long way back.

I remember the first time I made truffles without knowing what they are, how they looked like or taste like. I thumbed through a recipe book of luscious chocolate dessert and decided I wanted to make those lovely sounding things. Besides, the author of the book made them sound so darn easy, the ingredients did not look intimidating and I did not even have to bake it. At that time, I was only just starting to know the oven, scales, eggs and flour so I had just about the same amount of courage as an ostrich. My family had the same amount of courage as I did. However, the truffles turned out to be one of the most delicious tasting things I have ever made ever then.

Well, most delicious, really? I guess I am pretty biased but it was not just towards my own culinary skills definitely. I remain forevermore a chocolate lover. So anything chocolate is probably yummy although they have to pass through the selection process. I am a strictly no white chocolate, partial to milk and love only the darkest chocolate kind of person. I do not use the language of chocolate connoisseurs to explain why I love the chocolate and I do not want to pretend that I know what good chocolate is. However, what I do know is if it makes me go "OMG" in my head or if I make sounds which remotely sounds like horse grunts or if I keep saying" This is sooooo good" when I savor it, it is to me, good chocolate. I love a plain dark piece, I love rochers (dark chocolate nut clusters), I love chocolate in desserts and I definitely love a good dark chocolate truffle.

Chocolates are probably the most well-known comfort food maybe second to ice cream and the rest of the lot and they deserve their #1 place. Chocolates fix my bad days, celebrate my good days, excite my drab and boring days and the list goes on. It is like having an imaginary friend just that the friend is not imaginary and it probably will never bitch behind your back, abandon you, steal your boyfriend and probably will only disappoint you if they do not taste good. Of course for me, I will still have my Lemon BFF, so all is good.

I used the traditional way of course through the stomach to capture hearts and le bf's heart (and stomach) stood no chance against my truffles. After I gave a box of truffles to him (which he lost, leaving it behind together with my first Christmas present to him on a taxi) on our first Christmas date, he fell in love with me. No, it does not happen that way but hey, do you really want to the know the real story? After using so much truffle-bait, it somehow became somewhat of tradition to give the bf a box of truffles at Christmas. This year (or rather last year, because it is 2nd of Jan 2010 now) due to my laziness, I bought a box (late and ate one out of the box) and it is yummmms. I know because I ate one.

There is a cute little story (pardon me for using cute, I have limited vocabulary) which led me to this box of truffles. It all began with Lingyi's suggestion of eating a cheapish lunch at Maxwell and shopping at Ann Siang Hill which ended with visiting this lovely chocolate atelier before we headed home. We were walking to the train station when I spotted a sign that said Chocolate atelier and up those wooden steps we went. Pushing open the glass door, I was somewhat transported back into time for a few seconds (only because I worked at a cafe which sells amazing chocolate and things) and then I found myself looking into the face of my friend from school. I have to be honest, I was shocked. I mean how often do you pick a shop randomly and find your friend working in that shop?! Well, at least for me, it does not happen that much because I always seem to have some cafe or shop I want to check out because it is supposedly 'good' and would not be that surprised to see my friends working there (just because I have awesomely cool friends). After overcoming my initial "shock", I proceeded to try one of their truffles and being a dark chocolate "fanatic", I chose the darkest they had and after the last trace of it has been melted and incorporated into my soul, I wondered how (on earth) could I stand not eating truffles every day? Of course, I would be the size of earth if I ate truffles every day and not mentioning the fact that I am not exactly my canoeist brother or my salad-eating aunt would probably mean it would take no time for that to happen at all.

Of course, good things are meant to be shared and I spread the word about the yummms truffs. I told my truffle loving friend about these truffs and he immediately asked me, "Are they better than Royce's Nama?" I told him to try these and decide for himself! Oh and you should too! Especially for those who are looking to capture hearts, do consider truffle-bait! If you are a Susan, please buy, a Bree, please make.


Oh! Almost forgot. Happy 2010 everyone!

I guess my truffle journey is a bit like a mirror of pretty much everything that matter to me. Baking, food, chocolate, pretty things, family, bf, bffs, friends, surprises. Nevertheless, it is not complete, no, not without lemon. And books. and TV and ... So anyway, yay to having a new year to make all those mistakes you made last year and more yay to the new year being a good year this year filled with all sorts of things that makes you bright and shiny.