Saturday, November 27, 2010

The First Roll: Orange Custard Swiss Roll

A swiss roll has always been one of the items on my to-do list, but usually I chickened out at the thought of rolling the sponge cake. After missing out on a few baking sessions for the past month due to my holiday trips, I decided to make something "exciting" this week: my first swiss roll!

I bought a digital weighing scale some weeks back after seeing Meiyi's picture on FB. She got it for $23 at the Isetan atrium scale. Of course, I wouldn't miss this chance to get one for myself too. Yes, a digital scale is always worth it because it makes weighing of ingredients such a breeze, and less washing as well, because I can just weight everything into the same bowl.

Since my oven is so tiny, the original recipe which calls for a 23 x 30 cm tray will not be able to fit in. As usual, I halved the recipe and used a makeshift "baking tray" to hold the batter. I first saw a self-made tray on Junzhi's blog, where he showed the procedures to make a tray from aluminium based on any dimensions you want. I thought it's a brillant idea since I wouldn't want to buy trays of different sizes everytime I bake something new. But this tray is so flimsy that it is only suitable for holding light batter, eg. batter for sponge cakes or chiffon cakes. In addition to the aluminium foiil layer, I lined the "tray" with parchment paper, which makes the "tray" more rigid.

Once again, I suspect I have over-beaten the eggs. The batter was a little too thick and stiff, and there were many large bubbles. I poured the batter into a 18 x 23cm tray and it seems a little too shallow. After 10 minutes of baking, the surface was not browned, but the cake seems cooked. To prevent overbaking, which can cause the cake to crack when rolled, I decided to remove it from the oven, remove the cake layer and placed on a clean sheet of parchment paper and roll it up to cool.

In the meantime, I supremed an orange and checked on my custard, which was cooked prior to preparing the cake batter.

And here comes the most daunting task: rolling the cake with the filling. When I unrolled the cake, I realized the cake was pretty sticky and wet, and I had some problem getting it out from the parchment. While I was struggling with it, I realized part of it has some slight cracks. I should have mixed the oranges in the custard before spreading, instead of putting the oranges onto the custard layer, because this resulted in many holes in the filling layer. Anyway, rolling the cake was the most difficult part because the custard was too soft, the cake layer was too soft, and the filling was uneven due to the orange bits. The final outcome shows some cracks on the surface, but at least, it still stayed in the shape of the swiss roll. Perhaps I should be less adventurous and use the conventional cream or jam as the filling.

Ingredients (makes one 15 x 23 cm sponge layer):

Sponge layer:
75 g egg (1 1/2 eggs)
30 g caster sugar
40 g cake flour
10 g butter, melted
Dash of vanilla

Custard Filling:
125 ml orange juice
25 g egg (1/2 an egg)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cake flour
Some orange cubes

  1. Cook the custard prior to preparing cake batter so that the custard has time to cool: Heat up orange juice until small bubbles appear
  2. Whisk 1/2 egg with 1 tbsp sugar. Sift in cake flour and whish until smooth.
  3. Pour in hot orange juice slowly, while whisking vigourously.
  4. Strain mixture back into the pot and cook on medium heat, stirring continously.
  5. Continue to cook and stir until mixture becomes thick and bubbles appear.
  6. Transfer custard to a bowl and cover with cling wrap, with the wrap touching the surface of the custard. Chill in fridge. Prepare the cake while the custard is chilling in the fridge,
  7. Sift flour and set aside.
  8. With an electric mixer, beat eggs with sugar until ribbon stage (about 5 mins on high speed). Beat at low speed for 1-2 mins to stabilize the bubbles.
  9. Sift in flour in thirds and fold gently.
  10. Pour 1/3 of batter to the melted butter and vanilla and fold. Pour butter mixture back into the remaining batter and fold gently.
  11. Pour into baking tray and level out surface with spatula.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for about 10 mins or until fully cooked. Do not overbake the cake or it will crack during rolling.
  13. Remove the tray and peel off parchment paper. Place cake on a clean sheet of parchment paper and roll up. Leave to cool.
  14. Unroll the sponge layer, add in fillings and roll up carefully. Slice off the ends of the swiss roll.
Sponge cake recipe adapted from HHB's Nutella Swiss Roll.
Custard recipe adapted from 低热量点心DIY, by 大越鄉子

Before ending off this post, I would like to pay tribute to a friend of mine who left us this week, on the 23rd Nov. Even though I wasn't particularly close to her, I have known her personally as classmates and we have attended many gatherings together. I've noticed her during my first 3 years of undergraduate studies even though I have never spoken to her then, because she was always cheerful and bubbly and speaking excitedly to her friends. The first time I spoke to her was during our honours year's sports day, where a big group of us went to Munchie Monkey to have dinner. She was sitting opposite me and XP. The comments she made were always so hilarious, XP and I kept telling her she's cute. And her reply was: "Nooo, I don't wanna be cute! I wanna be sexy!" That really cracked us up.
Subsequently, we occasionally met at the red tables, where they are always having "bridge gatherings". Another memorable occasion was a KTV session where she came to join us even though she was not feeling too well. It was then that I know she's actually quite a good singer! Another occasion was a pre-CNY gathering at Chinatown. I remembered vividly that she was so excited when she saw the HK-styled Yu Dan being sold at one of the stalls, she scurried across to get it and shared her buy with us. It was then that I know that such a snack is very popular in HK. So much so that during my recent trip to Taipei, I saw the Yu Dan at a stall in Ximending, and I was reminded of her telling us it's popular in HK.
But just 3 days after I came back from Taipei, I received news that she passed away in her sleep. Nobody can accept this sudden loss. At a young age of 26, with no known health problems, she went to bed and never woke up again. It was after I went to her wake, and sending her off on her last journey that I accepted that she has gone.
So to our dearest Fifi, rest in peace. May you be happy in the other world and watching over your loved ones. You will be greatly missed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Going Green: Matcha Sablé Cookies

And I'm back, after 12 days in South Korea, followed by a weekend fishing at a kelong in Batam. After a 3-week hiatus from the kitchen, I realized I have lost touch with baking and cooking, so I decided to start from something simple: cookies.

It's scary how time flies. It's been almost one year since I went to Japan with my friends, which means that my matcha powder will be expiring soon! There is no better time than this to bake a batch of matcha sablé cookies.

The procedure is relatively simple, almost foolproof, except that I was too impatient with chilling the dough. The cookie dough went out of shape while slicing, so I had to pop it back into the fridge again. Other than that, everything went smoothly, considering that I was multi-tasking, trying to steam a batch of chai tow kuay at the same time.

This recipe is a sure-keep. The cookies are refreshing and fragrant. I simply love these! But can't have too much as the fat content is rather high.

Ingredients (makes 20)
120 g plain flour
2 tsp green tea powder
75 g butter, softened at room temperature
50 g icing sugar
Small pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
Granulated sugar (I used raw sugar)
A little egg white (optional)
A little green tea leaves (optional)

  1. Sift flour and green tea powder together. Set aside.
  2. Cream butter, icing sugar and salt together until creamy.
  3. Add in egg yolk and mix well.
  4. Sift in flour and green tea powder and fold with spatula.
  5. Over dough with cling wrap and chill in fridge for 15 mins.
  6. Place dough on parchment paper and shape in to 3.5 cm log. Wrap log with parchment paper and chill in fridge until firm.
  7. Preheat oven to 150 deg C. Slice log into 7 mm thickness. Dip edges in granulated sugar.
  8. Place dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  9. If desired, brush a little egg white over the cookies and sprinkle with green tea leaves.
  10. Bake for about 25 mins. Remove and leave to cool on wire rack.
  11. Store in air-tight container for up to 10 days.
Recipe adapted from e's joie's Matcha Sablé Cookies.

Towards the Horizon

Samyang Ranch, South Korea, 2010

I'm especially fond of places like this: big areas of greenery, few people, no high-rise buildings. It's practically impossible to find such places in Singapore, so whenever I go overseas, I would try to visit places like this, even if it means long hours of travelling.

What is so special about such places? To me, it's the horizon. The place where the sky and the green grassland meets, without the obstruction of buildings. Whenever I see such a scenery, I feel a urge to keep running towards the horizon, even though I know I will never reach the point where the sky and the ground meets. I guess that's the way I feel about life too. Running towards somewhere, but knowing that no matter how far you run, you will never see what you expect to see.