I don't often make fruit cakes. Somehow something always goes wrong - either the mixed fruit just sinks to the bottom or the cake crumbles easily. My husband, Anand, had requested me to make a fruit cake while he was in Beijing last week. It is often a challenge to make fruit cakes (or any cake) for him as he isn't fond of butter and whole egge.
Just the other day, he was commenting on how he had lost the taste for egg yolks after coming to Singapore. He finds the eggs here in Singapore have a very strong egg smell. It can be overpowering for someone who is very conscious of the smell. Even I who is someone who has grown up in Singapore find certain eggs very eggy. Fortunately, I have discovered a certain brand which doesn't seem to have that strong a smell.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand, I used to find it difficult to make eggs rise without any eggs and butter. Recently, Anand seemed to have bend the rules regarding eggs! So after a very long time, I baked a cake for Anand with eggs and butter in it. Anand found the butter flavor a tad too strong - my next try - to mix half the butter with sunflower oil. Let's see how that goes. But overall, I found the cake quite nice - not too sweet and light fruit cake flavor. Best part- it is so easy to put together. No soaking of the fruits overnight, no beating of butter and sugar...boil and mix everything, that's it!
Ingredients (makes one 20 cm square cake)
Egg & Coconut Milk Pudding or Vatlappam is a traditional sweet treat served during our Muslim festivals in my family. It is served with thin crepes of rice flour called Appams. It is a high protein dessert and it is quite delicious even on its own. This dessert is very popular among ethnic Sri Lankan. It is traditionally made with egg, coconut milk, jaggery (palm sugar),cashew nuts and then flavored with cardamoms and cloves.
Originating from Sri Lanka in the 1900s, it became quite popular among the Tamil Muslims of Tamil Nadu, India. It became a must have dessert in most religious festival days and during other celebrations.
Ingredients ( Makes a 5 inch round pudding)
4 eggs beaten and then sieved
3/4 cup sugar
1 and half tbsp roasted gram
15 -20 cashewnuts
100 ml coconut milk
1 tsp Vanilla essence
3/4 tsp salt
Raisins and Saffron strands for decoration
Prepare a 5 inch round baking tin or a metal container by applying a little butter on the bottom and the sides.
Soak the roasted gram, cashewnuts and cardamoms in hot water for 2-3 hrs.
Drain and then grind the cardamom seeds only (discard the pods), cashewnuts and roasted gram.
Mix the rest of the ingredients (except the saffron strands and raisins) with this ground mixture.
Beat well and pour into the prepared baking tin or metal container. Garnish with saffron strands and raisins.
Steam for 45 mins.
Practical cakes like marble cakes will never ever go out of fashion. Much like our good old banana cakes, they are easy to whip up and are perfect to cosy up with a good book and a cup of hot tea.
Markedly characterized by their streaked or mottled appearance, their effect is achieved by lightly blending the different colored batters. There are many types of marble cakes - using choc & vanilla swirls or multi colored swirls for a psychedelic finish etc.....But the best ways to get a nice swirl is to mix only 2 or 3 colors. Anything more I believe the batter will blend in to give an army brown appearance (Yikes!).
In this recipe, to give it a twist, I have substituted a quarter of the flour with Almond meal to give a nice but not overwhelming rich flavor. The choice of colors in this cake is totally up to you. Its your call. For this particular cake I made just yesterday over the long Chinese New Year weekend, my 11 year old Riya picked the colors. It is as vibrant and colorful as she is :))
Makes a round 8 inch cake
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
300 gm self raising flour
100gm almond meal
1 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp each of your favorite colorings (2 or 3 colors)
1/2 cup almond flakes for decoration
Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and prepare a a round 8 inch baking tin.
Cream the butter and sugar till pale in color and light in texture (5-10mins using electric hand mixer).
Add in the eggs one at a time and cream further.
Add in the vanilla essence and mix well.
Mix the self raising flour and almond meal in a separate bowl.
Fold in this flour and almond meal mixture alternating with the milk.
Once fully incorporated, separate the batter into 2 bowls and mix in your chosen colors.
Place heaps of the two batters in alternate fashion in the baking tin. Blend lightly with a wooden skewer.
Bake for 45-60mins or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
Cool for 10 mins and then what else-Enjoy!!
Who doesn't love Tiramisu - the popular coffee flavored Italian dessert? Tiramisu actually means lift me up or pick me up in the Italian language.This is one dessert which definitely perks me up anytime anywhere!!
It is such a heavenly dessert that no one can stop at one spoonful! I have made the alcoholic version many times - using coffee and orange liquer. But Ranya (my 13 year old) needed to bring a family favorite dish to school for her 7th Grade Graduation in June. So I attempted to make a non alcoholic version. Even though it didn't have the oomph of the alcoholic version, it turned out pretty good. Do keep a tab on your intake as mascarpone cheese is very high in fat.
I learnt first how to make Tiramisu from a close friend Kris Adipudi when we were neighbors in Pasir Ris in Singapore. She is a wonderful cook and I am glad she taught me and a few other close friends how to make Tiramisu in her own kitchen. I am indebted to her, otherwise, I would have never ventured to try this on my own at that time and I would have missed out on making this heavenly dessert!!
This dessert can be done in 45 minutes and the recipe below yields 2 layers of cream and 2 layers of sponge fingers in a 8 by 8 inch glass baking dish. If you like higher tiramisu with 4 layers, double the amounts.
Ingredients (serves 8 guests)
4 tsps. instant coffee
1 cup hot water
1 tbsp. coffee liquer (Tia Maria - only for the alcoholic version)
2 tbsp. orange liquer ( Grand Marinier - again only for the alcoholic version)
2ooml whipping cream
250 gm mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup confectioner's (powdered sugar)
2 egg whites
30 sponge fingers
1/3 cup cocoa powder for garnish
fresh strawberries for garnish
Dissolve the coffee in the hot water and set aside. (if you are using the liquers, mix these into the coffee mixture too.
In a mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream with an electric beater till thick and creamy.
In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites till soft peaks form.
Mix this into the whipped cream and beat again.
Add in the powdered sugar and beat well.
Yet in another bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese till smooth and mix this with the egg white whipped cream sugar mixture.
Take your 8inch by 8 inch glass baking dish and dip the sponge fingers in the coffee mixture lightly and place them in the tray row by row to cover the entire base. If you have uneven empty spaces, break the sponge fingers into half and fill them up.
Spread a layer of the cheese over this and sprinkle cocoa powder. Layer another layer of sponge fingers dipped in coffee mixture and then another layer of the cream.
Sprinkle cocoa powder generously over this layer.
Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cut into squares and serve cold with more cocoa powder sprinkled over and with strawberries on the side to garnish the plate.
A compote is a dessert originating from medieval Europe made of whole pieces of fruits in sugar syrup. The syrup can be seasoned with vanilla, lemon or orange peel, cinnamon sticks or powder, cloves, other spices, ground almonds, grated coconut, candied fruit or raisins. Compotes can be served warm or chilled and can be topped with whipped cream, cinnamon or vanilla sugar.
Compotes can be served on waffles, pancakes, French toast, crepes, cheesecake or whatever you fancy. I actually served it on my Shortbread Wedges.
1 box of fresh strawberries ( 16oz or 454gm)
1 lemon ( or if you prefer less sour, 1/2 lemon)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. corn starch
Wash the strawberries and husk the leaves out. if you have pretty big strawberries, cut them in half.
Zest and juice the lemon.
Take a small saucepan and over medium heat, combine sugar, water, cornstarch and mix well.
Add in the strawberries, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins. Leave to cool.
Your Strawberry Lemon Compote is now ready for your use.
It was a quiet Friday afternoon and my younger daughter Riya and I were waiting for a call so that she could be picked up for her sleepover. I got a text message from a close friend- let's call her Supermom for reason of anonymity ( She will dispute this as she claims she is more of a Blur mom!).
'Quick question Nilo, does your family like banana cake?' My first thought was who doesn't? I mean I don't know anyone who doesn't like banana cake. It is by far one of the most simplest way to use up any old overripe bananas and it usually turns out pretty well. So no one should have any good reason to hate banana cake!!
Two surprises followed suit - its always nice to have good friends turn up unexpectedly and what 's more, she brings us a teatime treat! Supermom popped by my place to offer us a homemade banana cake wrapped in foil. I love home made cakes - no preservatives and no artificial flavors to make it more sellable. I peeled away the foil and the first thing that caught my eye was its unique color... ( see photo above) it was of pale yellow and it stuck to the foil. Banana cakes usually appear medium brown on the exterior with a light brown interior. Did Supermom take the cake out too early while rushing out to pick up her kids or to run her other ever mounting errands? I checked with her and she said it is supposed to be that way and apparently it has a unique cooking method ( which I will mention later).
Before she rushed out ( yet again! ) I did ask her this :
'Is everyone fine at home after eating your banana cake? '
Her reply ? 'No one has tried it yet !!' My next thought- Better keep emergency numbers ready - just in case!! ;))
My verdict ? Surprisingly soft and moist and with lovely light banana aroma.. No overpowering egg or butter smell or taste. Nice texture and it melts in your mouth ( I can imagine my friend going ' Nilo - you are exaggerating!' ) Kudos to you Supermom - you have another feather to add to your hat! But I did find it a little sweet for my taste buds.
One important cooking tip - if you are watching your sugar intake for whatever reasons, you must remember to adjust sugar when baking banana cakes. There is enough sweetness in over ripe bananas - I usually add only 1/2 or 2/3 of the sugar quantity suggested.
Supermom was generous enough to share her unique recipe with us. This Banana Cake is unique on so many fronts - color, texture, cooking method and an unusual ingredient in Banana Cakes - lemon juice.
Ingredients ( yields 12 servings)
1 and 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsps baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 and 1/8 cups sugar (reduce to 1 and 1/2 cups if you prefer less sweet)
3 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla essence
1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 275 deg F or 140 deg C (or 120 deg C if you are using a fan oven) . Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
In a small mixing bowl, mix the mashed bananas with lemon juice and set aside.
In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time and then stir in the vanilla essence.
Beat in the flour mixture into the butter mix alternately with buttermilk. Stir in the banana mix.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
This part is the unique method of this recipe - once out of the oven, immediately place the banana cake into the freezer for 45 mins! Apparently, according to the recipe and Supermom, this is the magic step to make the cake moist and so melt in your mouth! I believe the sudden cold temperature halts the cooking process which then leaves the cake still in its moist form instead of further cooking and drying out in its pan even after removing from the oven.
Remove from freezer after 45 mins and enjoy an aromatic light banana cake...
Supermom had adapted this recipe from My Baking Addiction.
Note to Supermom:
We are fine after 3 days of having your delicious cake. Emergency numbers have been chucked aside for now :)) Thank you for sharing your recipe with us.
Who can ever resist a Chocolate fudge cake? With the ganache oozing down on the sides and as you take that first bite and slowly relishing the heavenly taste of chocolate...?? This is always a hit with my girls.
Yields one 18cm by 18cm Sq Cake
Ingredients for Butter Cake
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup dark choc/baking choc (at least 55% cocoa)
1/2 cup brown sugar
300ml skim milk (separated into 2 quantities, 150ml each)
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
Method for Butter Cake
Preheat oven to 180 deg C or 350 deg F
Grease a square 18cm by 18cm baking tin and lay grease proof paper.
Beat unsalted butter and castor sugar till light and fluffy. Add egg yolk one at a time and beat till combined.
Take a small pot and melt dark choc, brown sugar and 150 ml milk. Stir consistently till combined, then add another 150 ml milk. Stir well and then allow to cool for 5 mins.
Sieve flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
Pour the melted choc mixture and the sieved ingredients to the beaten sugar and butter bowl. Fold all the ingredients in.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites till soft peaks form. Fold this into the combined ingredients.
Pour this cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 40-45 mins. Allow to cool then cut into half sideways.
Ingredients for Ganache
200ml whipping cream
200gm dark choc (55.5% cocoa)
2/3 cup unsalted butter
Method for Ganache
Bring whipping cream to boil, then add the dark choc and butter. Stir till well combined.
Final Assembly for Chocolate Fudge Cake
Take the lower half the cut butter cake and spread a thick layer of ganache on the top.
Place the top portion over this. Coat the whole cake with a thick layer of ganache. Let it drip over the sides for that extra effect.
You can either serve this decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake warm immediately or set it in the fridge for an hour before serving. Garnish with sliced strawberries and dust with confectioner's sugar.
Enjoy but do watch out for calories. In moderation please!
I have meaning to try this crumb bars with a lighter butter to see if the results are truly worth sharing.
I am happy to say it did come out well ( picture speaks for itself) but it didn't taste as rich as it would hv if full fat butter had been used. And the original recipe had asked for an egg yolk which I wasn't keen on using since I am trying an eggless diet.
Nevertheless, it is worth giving it a shot if you would like something close to the original but a healthier version. Again, it is a very easy quick dish to prepare. It took me half an hour to prepare and another half hour to bake.
Ingredients ( 16 bars)
1.5 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold light butter ( see note)
1/2 tsp ice water
3/4 cup blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F ( 190 deg C) and get a square glass baking dish of size 9x9 inch ready to use.
Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Using your fingers, cut the frozen light butter into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs. Drizzle in the ice water and combine again. The dough should come together but not as much as a pizza dough.
Take 3/4 of this crumb mixture and put it into the baking dish. Level it with a back of a spoon till firmly packed and of even height.
Spread blueberries over this firm dough and top off with the remaining crumb mixture. Press down lightly.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 mins till edges are light brown.
Most important - let it cool completely ( like 2 hrs ) before you cut them into bars. If you do it while it is still warm, it will all crumble and you'll be not be left with bars.
To serve - warm up slightly in microwave ( 10 secs) with a cup of coffee or tea.
Make sure the butter is cold and just taken out from the freezer. This is important to get the crumbly texture.
Looking at the recipe again, I admit I could hv made it even healthier with brown sugar instead of white and could hv substituted half the flour with almond meal. I am going to give this another shot and will update soon.
As I have mentioned before, Singapore ( where I grew up) has 4 main races - Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. We are very familiar with the Chinese belief in food that cool your body (Yin) and food that heat your body (Yang).
These concepts are actually a part of our Singaporean culture and they are often used to explain our emotional or physical state.
Too much heat energy in your body and you'll end up feeling irritable, constipated and have rashes, nose bleed and symptoms of a cold or fever and sore throat. To counteract this you have to eat certain cooling foods like banana, yoghurt, cucumber and cooling soups among others
If you have too much cool energy, you will feel lethargic, weak, tired and restless. To combat this, you have to consume heaty food like dates, ginger, cinnamon, mangoes and blackberries among others.
Then there are neutral foods too like honey, apricot, carrot, celery, potatoes, papaya and beetroot among others. These foods are neither warm nor cool thus they are suitable for any type of body.
Green Mung Bean Dessert Soup is a cooling soup and helps in combating the heaty elements in your body. It also helps to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and clear acne. In ancient China, women drink loads of this soup ( with salt instead of sugar) to regulate their monthly period. It is very easy to prepare and you can either just drink the liquid or have both the liquid and the beans for extra potency and fibre.
Ingredients ( serves 4)
1.5 cups of whole green mung bean
1.5 litres water for cooking and some for soaking the beans overnight.
Sugar per preference
Wash and soak the beans overnight.
The next day, rinse off the soaking water and add the required fresh water.
Boil for 30 mins on medium fire. If the soup thickens, add more water. It is supposed to be a thin soup.
Remove from stove, add sugar per preference and scoop into bowls.
I have made this espresso cake couple of times and in those times, I had to reduce the coffee powder. My girls were young kids then and I didn't need them to get even more hyper then they already were. So when I gave my friends back in Spore to try this cake out, they would go ' Where is the coffee in this supposedly espresso cake?'!!
The orginal recipe asked for a whopping 160gm of sugar for the cake and another 160gm for the coffee syrup. Tch Tch....We could do with less sugar in our diet, can't we?
Ingredients for Cake ( for 6 servings)
3 eggs, beaten
100 gm granulated ( caster sugar)
150 gm light butter, melted
140gm self raising flour
1 tsp cocoa
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/4 cup slivered almonds for decoration
Ingredients for Coffee Syrup
100 gm granulated ( caster ) sugar
150 ml water
1 tbsp instant coffee
Method for Cake
Preheat oven to 180deg C ( 350 deg F)
Grease a ring cake tin and line with grease proof paper. Set aside.
Whisk eggs and sugar till thick and fluffy.
Sieve the flour with the cocoa. Add this to the egg mixture.
Add in the melted butter.
Dissolve the coffee in hot water and add it to the batter. Mix well until smooth.
Add slivered almonds for decoration.
Place the batter in prepared baking tin and bake for 40mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
In the meantime, prepare the coffee syrup
Method for Coffee Syrup
Put all the ingredients into a small pot and bring to boil till sugar dissolves. Cool.
When the cake is done, turn it out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Drizzle with coffee syrup while the cake is still warm.
Serve with a light tea or as a dessert cake.
1) I did half the quantity which explains why I didn't use a ring tin but a loaf one instead.
2) Substitute half of the 140 gm flour with ground almond or hazelnut. Yields a richer cake.
3) I used gm for measurements based on my original recipe. You can easily convert to cups in Google.