Cakes and Cookies, Desserts

Carrot Cake Muffins

So I was channel surfing and caught a small segment of a food show featuring Donna Hay and some very adorable kids. They were making a carrot cake. Totally inspired, I made some for this morning’s breakfast and to bring some over for teatime later at the parents.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find the exact recipe of hers which she featured on the show. Maybe because I’ve no idea what the title of the show was! But I did find her recipes for carrot cake and carrot cake muffin. And so I used it but added some things which she did on the show – like mixed spice and ground cinnamon!

The outcome was quite delicious. It’s moist, definitely moist, but also moorish? It’s thick. Ok by Asian standards perhaps this is huge! One piece of this muffin and I’m full! But it is delicious.

I also copied her maple syrup cream cheese frosting. In the show, she added ricotta but as you know ricotta is not easily available here and Super expensive so I added one tablespoon of clotted cream instead.

I even used Australian olive oil. It’s very simple to make. The only difficult part is grating those carrots. And the recipe called for 3! I used 2 and still it was too much. I used big fat Australian carrots here. Beautiful. We love the fresh produce from Australia (I’m getting some Australian eggs later! 🤭).
I followed her recipe strictly but it was way to thick. I knew it can’t be right so I added a splash of olive oil and a splash of whole milk to make it wetter.
I overfilled some of them. This batter calls for exactly 12 muffins.
Make sure you don’t frost all of them. Well, for us we don’t really like frosting so I only frosted three to try. The rest will be on the side for those who would like some frosting. Even my kids don’t like sweet things.
Sprinkled some Chia seeds on top. A delicious teatime treat!

For the recipe which I used as a base:

Recipe Carrot Cake

Desserts

Kunafa : Ricotta cheese version

I’ve always wanted to make kunafa or kunafe. The first time I baked this it was a disaster because sometimes it’s not just about following a recipe, but about using the right tools to make it a success.

I discovered this Egyptian food blogger who has beautiful, absolute beautiful, pictures posted of her baking. Definitely a professional set up but besides being a pretty blogface, her recipes look very doable and simple, especially for Asians who cannot get the right kind of ingredients to make Middle Eastern fare.

Her ricotta cheese recipe is simple to do. And the substitute that I used in place of eshta or Arabic cream works – good old English clotted cream, readily available in our supermarkets though only one brand  of it makes it way to our shores. No matter.

However, I still made a mistake. The mistake which I made when I first made kunafe two years ago was to bake it in a glass dish. No no no. Never again. What happened was the bottom layer did not get browned and the insides pastry were not crispy. So this time round, I used a baking pan. This time round, my mistake was not raising the kataifi pastry up to the sides of the pan. The result? An ugly cheese line all around the pie. Sigh.

Cosmetics aside, the end product was fantastic and I’ll definitely be making this when guests come. If we can ever have guests this year… 😞

You can find the recipe and the blog site which I’m in love with Here

Ingredients for the filling: ricotta cheese, clotted cream, sugar and vanilla essence
Spreading the filling on to the kataifi pastry. This pastry has to be covered in ghee first. Make sure to raise it to the sides of the pan!
Ready for the oven. I got exactly two round pans and a ramekin dish to bring to work.
Remove only after the pastry is golden brown and shrinks from the sides of the pan. Pour the sugar syrup all over and let it sit for 10 minutes. After that, take a knife and go around the edges to loosen the pie.
See what I mean by the ring of cheese that is exposed? 😅

Decorate with rose petals and crushed pistachios. See what I mean by the ring of cheese? 😅

Top view of the kunafa that I brought over to mom’s.
Inside view of this delicious Middle Eastern dessert that we can’t get enough of.
Best eaten warm straight out of the oven. 💓
Cakes and Cookies, Desserts

Egg Tarts

I grew up eating egg tarts. Not the Portuguese or Macau egg tarts – those only became popular when I was an adult. The kind that kids loved then in the 80s and before were the soft sweet crusted Hong Kong style egg tarts that are always sold in our local bakeries.

Recently because of the lockdowns everywhere, my friends who are also all over the world now have been baking this piece of nostalgia. And even though I can easily get my egg tarts here, I decided to make my own and boy was I glad I tried making my own! Nothing beats freshly baked egg tarts straight out of the oven.

There are many recipes out there on the Internet. But this one that I eventually decided to follow is simple. The only downside to this is that it is a tad too sweet but luckily for me I didn’t allow the sugar to melt completely into the water so the sweetness was just right. What I liked about this recipe is that the dough is really flaky and buttery.

I made the entire dough using a mixer. The
recipe was extremely easy to follow.
I must say, I really like the sweet dough and would make it again for different kinds of dessert tarts next time. After making this dough, I wrapped it in cling film and rested it in the fridge for 20 minutes. And while it was resting, I made the filling.
The important step in making the custard filling is to make sure you run it through the sieve first so that it’ll be silky.
When the dough is chilled, take it out and divide into portions. I have 20 of these aluminium tart casings so I divided into 20 small balls. Fill each casing with the dough.
They don’t need to be baked before the filling. After this step then carefully pour the egg filling into the dough casings.
Before going into the oven.
And it is here at this stage that I would like to share that while the tarts were baking, I saw them balloon up and panicked. However, this apparently is meant to happen. I over-baked the tarts and that’s why the custard looked all wrinkly. So what you should do is after you notice the time of the tarts turning brown and cooked, switch off the oven BUT let it sit in the oven for another 10 minutes. While my tarts were indeed slightly overbaked, they still tasted good and were not dry at all. It affected only the look of the tarts.
See? Still soft and crumbly. They were good!
The egg tarts were devoured quickly, with only a pathetic two pieces left for Grandma the next day. 😁

You may get the recipe below :

Egg Tart Recipe

Cakes and Cookies, Desserts

Pineapple Tarts

Every Chinese New Year or Hari Raya (Eid ul Fitr) will never be complete without families making and eating these delicious buttery sweet and sour pineapple tarts. And being in a beautiful multi-racial country, I get to enjoy everyone’s festivities many times over. ☺️

Earlier in the year before COVID-19 interrupted our lives, I already received a bottle of pineapple tarts from the office management for Chinese New Year. Now, with the Circuit Breaker in place and Hari Raya round the corner, I decided to finally conquer my fears and make my mother’s pineapple tart recipe.

It’s a daunting task. You definitely need helpers at hand. However, you can halve the recipe or even quarter it and make a small batch. Here is the original recipe:

For the tart pastry:

1. 500g butter (use the best you have. I used French butter and I think that made all the difference)

2. 3 whole eggs (some people use 2 yolks and 1egg but that will result in a delicious but crumbly pastry. Delicious I know but difficult to handle)

3. 900g plain all-purpose flour

4. 1/4 tsp of yellow colouring. You can omit this.

For the pineapple filling: I cheated. I used a store bought ready made filling but added one pineapple of my own. To make your filling from scratch, you need to grate 2-3 fresh pineapples, and then cook it down on a Low flame till it becomes jelly like. Add sugar. You’ll know when it’s ready when all the liquid has evaporated and you can form balls from the pineapple.

And then the rest is easy. Laborious work but easy.

First step is to make the dough. Using a mixer is easiest but you can certainly make this using just a wooden spoon, and a lot of muscle power.

Prep your ingredients. The butter needs to be very soft so that you can cream it with the eggs.
Cream butter and eggs. Add flour slowly till you can form a soft dough.
Break the dough into four for easier handling and let it rest, covered, for at least two hours.

Once the dough is rested, it’ll be easy to roll. If you can’t roll it, just use your cleaned palms and pat down as much as you can’t and then, using a tart cookie mould, cut the shape.


This is my tart cutter. You can find other types. All you need is a cutter with an indentation hole in the centre for you to place your filling in.
Press hard and clean the edges. This cutter is not so good that’s why it’s hard to achieve a clean line. The more modern plastic ones will produce better results.
With your thumb, gently peel off the dough.
Tada!
Fill a tray of the dough first.
These pineapple jelly balls are too big but they will make an easier task later. From that pan of jelly, take a small scoop to form into balls. Then eyeball how much you need to fill the dough casing.
Once the pineapple jelly is in the dough, you can choose to do a topper with some dough. Roll out some dough till very thin and cut into shapes. Diamonds, flowers, or you can just omit this step.
Put a ready filled tray in the oven at 170 Celsius for 10- 15min or until the bottom is done. Don’t over bake or you’ll end up with a hard filling and pastry.
The first tart here, you can see where the edges of the pastry was not neatly cut. But many turned out OK so I was pleased.
Persevere and carry on. 500g of butter will make about 180-200 of this size tarts. That’s a lot! So if you’re just making for yourself, half the recipe.
But I like to give away some to close family and friends so that everyone can enjoy this decadent treat! 😍

Bread and Batter, Cakes and Cookies, Desserts

Strawberry Shortcake

I think many many years ago I posted a recipe for strawberry shortcake which The Girl did when she was young.

Time flies and now she’s a full blown teen who is working so hard for her exams. OK, comparatively harder than her younger days. So as a reward, I decided to bake for her strawberry shortcake.

I used this website to bake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/easy-homemade-strawberry-shortcake/

Except that since we’re on lockdown (Circuit Breaker) here, I didn’t have buttermilk. So I substituted with milk plus lemon juice and let the mixture sit. It worked! And I didn’t want to waste the only packet of whipping cream I have in the freezer (I intend to save that for tiramisu) so I served these scones (they are scones essentially ya) with clotted cream and Korean strawberries that had been macerated in 1tbsp of sugar.

I followed the proportions for the dry ingredients to the T. That’s 3 cups of plain flour, 2 tbsp of baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1tsp salt.
Then add in the wet ingredients and pat pat pat the dough. I didn’t use all of the buttermilk mixture because I didn’t need to. I suspect the humidity level here is Super high so it really depends on where you’re at.
Using a round pastry cutter, form circles. I got exactly ten for this batter! Perfect!
Before putting in the oven, brush the tops with buttermilk and bake till golden.
Cut in half and spread clotted cream and the macerated strawberries. For real strawberry shortcakes, use whipped cream.
A Tea Time Treat!