Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sunny Oranges: Orange Tarts



I was really keen to make another batch of custard tarts after last week's not-so-successful custard. I had been thinking of which fruit to use, and finally I settled on oranges as it's one of my favourite fruit.



I bought 2 new tart pans with scalloped edges. This time round, I used cake flour instead of plain flour and I rolled the dough using a rolling pin instead of pressing it into the pan directly. The dough was thinner this time round and I hope the crust will not be as hard as last week's.



Since I ran out of milk, I cooked the custard with orange juice, as indicated in a recipe book. The best part about this: it cuts calories from not using milk and butter! I used only half of the leftover egg, as I realised I may have added too much egg last week, which caused it to be lumpy. With less egg and more whisking, my custard was lump-free!



Next up was the challenging part: supreme the oranges. I am terrible with the knife because I have a phobia ever since I sliced my finger while cutting an apple 10 years ago. But surprising, supreming the oranges was quite fun! Although I wasted quite a bit of the orange flesh in my first attempt. The oranges were so juicy, I had to dry them with paper towel before topping it onto the tart. Even so, the icing sugar dissolved straight away when dusted.

I couldn't wait to try it as I was hungry without breakfast this morning. Without chilling in the fridge, the custard was quite runny. But the crust was crispy, yet not hard and I definitely liked this better than last week's.

Ingredients (makes 4 small tart shells):
Tart shells:
20 g unsalted butter , soften at room temperature
15 g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp lightly beaten egg
10 g wholemeal flour
40 g cake flour

Filling:
100 ml orange juice (pulp removed by straining)
15 g caster sugar
1/2 egg
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cake flour, sifted
2 oranges, supremed (Video on how to supreme an orange)

Method:

Tart shells:
  1. Sieve flour and set aside.
  2. With a spoon, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg gradually, stirring the batter till well mixed each time the egg is added.
  4. With a spatula, fold in the wholemeal flour.
  5. Sieve over the flour in 2 to 3 additions into the batter. Fold the mixture gently with the spatula. Gather and form the pastry into a round ball.
  6. Divide dough into 4. Roll dough into disc bigger than tart pan.
  7. Place the disc over the prepared tart pan. Mould the pastry into the tart pan, smoothing the edges and the rim carefully. If the pastry is too soft to handle, chill it in the fridge for 10~15 mins before rolling.
  8. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 20mins. (This is to prevent the pastry from shrinking upon baking.)
  9. Use a fork to poke holes on the pastry. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 10 ~12mins until the edges are slightly browned. Let cool completely.
Filling:
  1. Whisk egg with sugar thoroughly. Add in flour and whisk thoroughly.
  2. Heat orange juice in a pot until boiling.
  3. Pour the hot orange juice gradually into egg mixture while whisking.
  4. Strain the mixture back into the pot.
  5. On medium heat, whisk the mixture quickly until the mixture becomes thick.
  6. Pour the cream into a clean bowl and place cling wrap on the cream to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.
  7. Chill in the fridge.
To assemble:
  1. Spoon custard into cooled tart shells and smooth top with spoon.
  2. Dry the orange slices slightly with paper towels and place on top of the custard.
  3. Chill in fridge.
Adpated from HHB's Wholemeal Banana Tart (tart shells) and 低热量点心DIY, by 大越鄉子 (custard filling).



And the leftover egg went into making these black sesame biscuits. I didn't want to bake butter cookies as they are high in butter content, so I decided to make these instead.

Ingredients:
75 g cake flour
15 g butter, softened at room temperature.
1/2 egg
10 ml milk
10 g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
10 g black sesame seeds, toasted

Method:
  1. Sift cake flour,baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and softened butter. Rub butter into dry ingredients with fingers until it resembles cornmeal.
  2. Add in egg and milk. (Milk can be added slowly until the right consistency is reached. You may add less than stated in the recipe if the dough is too wet or you may add more if dough is too dry.)
  3. Gather into a dough with hands. Knead into a smooth dough, but do not overknead.
  4. Add in sesame seeds and knead for 1 min to evely distribute the seeds.
  5. Cover in cling wrap and leave for 30 mins.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 2 mm thickness. (2 mm is ideal for the right crispiness. Try not to make thicker biscuits.)
  7. Trim into a large rectangle. Cut into 3.5 cm squares.
  8. Leaving small gaps between each dough, bake for 15 mins at 180 deg C until golden brown.
Recipe adapted and translated from JunZhi's 黑芝麻咸香饼干.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fruity Treats: Strawberry Tarts



I only decided to make these tarts just this morning. I was browsing through the web last night and the image of a berry fruit tart kept floating in my mind. I bought a punnet of strawberries 2 days ago and I thought it's just right to make a strawberry tart.



I had all the ingredients on hand, including leftover milk from yesterday's lunch (I cooked oatmeal porridge with 1/4 cup of milk), wholemeal flour and strawberries. As usual, I halved the recipe and I made small tarts instead. But I realise how difficult it was to work with such a small quantity of ingredients.



As usual, I'm a wreck with the stove. My custard wasn't cooked properly. It was lumpy and a bit too runny. I can only blame myself for not following the instructions closely. Instead of using egg yolks as indicated in the recipe, I used the leftover egg from the tart shells, because 1) I did not want to waste the leftover egg, 2) I did not have enough eggs in the fridge. But I'm not entirely sure that was the main reason why my custard did not turn out very well.



Nevertheless, I completed the tarts and I thought they look rather good! But I can't say the same for the taste as I haven't tried it. Luckily, I only made 2, as I suppose I have to eat all of it on my own.

Ingredients (makes 3 small tart shells):
20 g unsalted butter , soften at room temperature
15 g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp lightly beaten egg
10 g wholemeal flour
40 g plain flour

Method:
  1. Sieve flour and set aside.
  2. With a spoon, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg gradually, stirring the batter till well mixed each time the egg is added.
  4. With a spatula, fold in the wholemeal flour.
  5. Sieve over the flour in 2 to 3 additions into the batter. Fold the mixture gently with the spatula. Gather and form the pastry into a round ball.
  6. Divide the dough into 3. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc.
  7. Place the disc over the prepared tart pan. Mould the pastry into the tart pan, smoothing the edges and the rim carefully. If the pastry is too soft to handle, chill it in the fridge for 10~15 mins before rolling.
  8. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 20mins. (This is to prevent the pastry from shrinking upon baking.)
  9. Use a fork to poke holes on the pastry. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 10 ~12mins until the edges are slightly browned. Let cool completely.
Adpated from HHB's Wholemeal Banana Tart.




I was working from home yesterday and I couldn't resist the temptation to make another 2 batches of Konnyaku jelly. I experimented with 2 more flavours: Mango with Nata de Coco and Red Tea Longan. I wanted the replicate the Mango pudding that my sister and I bought from Taipei. We both would lug packets of jelly home everytime we make a trip to Taipei, but the jelly never lasts our family for anything more than 2 weeks.

The mango jelly I made is tasty although it is nowhere near the ones we bought from Taipei. The red tea one is so-so. I personally thought the red tea smell is too subtle, but my mum likes it.

Ingredients (Mango Nata de Coco Jelly, makes 3 trays of 8 jelly each):
15 g Konnyaku jelly powder (1 pack Red Man brand)
950 ml mango juice (I used Fruit Tree Tropical Mango Juice)
1 pack Nata de Coco

Method:
  1. Distribute Nata de Coco into jelly moulds.
  2. Heat mango juice in a pot.
  3. Add Konnyaku powder very slowly while stirring. (I used my fingers to sprinkle the powder in to minimize formation of lumps, then I strained the mixture to remove the lumps.)
  4. Turn off the heat when the mixture boils. Stir for another 5 mins to get rid of bubbles.
  5. Let mixture cool for a few minutes before spooning into moulds.
  6. Let the jelly cool before putting into the fridge.

Ingredients
(Red Tea Longan Jelly, makes 3 trays of 8 jelly each):
15 g Konnyaku jelly powder (1 pack Red Man brand)
200 g caster sugar
4 tea bags (use more for stringer taste of tea)
900 ml water
1 can longan, drained of syrup

Method:
  1. Mix Konnyaku powder and sugar together.
  2. Heat water in a pot till boiling. Add tea bags in and let it sit for 10 mins.
  3. Distribute longan into jelly moulds.
  4. Remove tea bags from water and on the heat again. Add Konnyaku powder and sugar mixture gradually while stirring.
  5. Turn off the heat when the mixture is boiling. Stir for another 5 mins to get rid of bubbles.
  6. Let mixture cool for a few minutes before spooning into moulds.
  7. Let the jelly cool before putting into the fridge.



And speaking of Taipei, Allswell has a new flavoured drink: White Bitter Gourd Juice with Honey. I heard from my labmate about this and went to get it immediately. I first tried this in Taipei's night market and I like it, so I was really glad that I can finally find this in Singapore. Although it's taste is quite subtle as compared to those in Taipei, it's good enough for me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Citrus Sunday: Lemon Yogurt Cake



I still have a partially-zested lemon lying in the fridge from last week's fruit pastry cake, thus I decided to bake a lemon yogurt cake since I have all the ingredients on hand. I changed HHB's orange yogurt cake to a lemon-flavoured one instead. I halved the recipe and decreased the sugar to 70g and used Meiji aloe vera yogurt since that was what I have in the fridge. Although the cake is low-fat, it is definitely not low-calorie.



To add some variety to the taste, I added chopped walnuts on top. Since I do not have a suitable pan to bake this, I used my new large souffle cups to bake them. I will be having it for breakfast tomorrow, so right now I can only pray that it tastes good.

Ingredients (makes 4 large cupcakes):
125g cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
35g butter, soften at room temperature
zest of 1/2 lemon
70g sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (I used Meiji Aloe Vera)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 pieces chopped walnut

Method:
  1. Preheat oven at 180 degC.
  2. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix together yogurt, vanilla essence and lemon juice.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat butter and lemon zest for 1 min. Add in sugar and beat on high speed for about 3 mins.
  5. Add in eggs gradually, beat constantly for about 2 mins. (My batter curdled at this point.)
  6. On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. On medium-high speed, beat in 1/2 of the yogurt mixture. On low speed, beat in half of the remaining flour mixture. On high speed, beat in the remaining yogurt mixture. On low speed, beat in the rest of the flour mixture.
  7. Spoon into paper cups and sprinkle chopped walnuts on top. Bake for 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Adapted from HHB's Low-Fat Orange Yogurt Cake.



I bought a pack of konnyaku jelly powder some time back but haven't got down to making my long-awaited yujacha jelly. This marks my third try in making these. I used gelatin powder in my first two tries and they failed: the jelly was too soft. This time round, I'm very sure the jelly will not be too soft. My only worry is that it will be too hard instead.

Update: The jelly was indeed too hard and not sweet enough. I modified my recipe and made another batch 2 days later and it was much better.

Ingredients (makes 3 trays of 8 jelly each):
15 g Konnyaku powder (I used Red Man)
100g caster sugar
900 ml water
2 heaping tablespoons Yujacha marmalade

Method:
  1. Mix Konnyaku powder and caster sugar together.
  2. Place water in a pot and heat. Gradually add the sugar mixture and stir while the water is hot, but not boiling.
  3. Turn off the heat when the mixture is boiling.
  4. Keep stirring the mixture for a further 5 mins to get rid of bubbles.
  5. Stir in the Yujacha marmalade.
  6. Let a mixture cool for a few minutes before spooning into the molds.
  7. Let the jelly cool before putting into the fridge. Serve cold.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blueberry Season: Blueberry Yogurt Muffins



Earlier this year was the strawberry season, where punnets of beautiful Korean strawberries were sold cheaply in all supermarkets. But now, the strawberries have made way for blueberries and raspberries, fruits of the summer season.



I have half a punnet of blueberries left after yesterday's fruit pastry cake, so I decided to try making some classic blueberry muffins, which is alien to me as I always associate them with western culture. I can't say I'm a fan of blueberries, and I honestly find the burst blueberries an eyesore, with all the purplish juices oozing out. But these are still refreshing alternatives from the usual chocolate chip muffins.

Ingredients (makes 6 small muffins):
75 g cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
10 g quick cooking oats ( I used Quaker)
50g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg
55 g low-fat yogurt (I used Bulla)
30 ml vegetable oil (I used Canola oil)
60 g fresh blueberries

Method:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 deg C.
  2. Sift cake flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar, salt and oats.
  3. Mix egg, yogurt and oil together.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Add in blueberries.
  5. Mix with spatula until just combined.
  6. Spoon batter into paper cups.
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins. Until golden brown. Serve warm.
Adapted from HHB's Berry Oatmeal Muffins.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Berry Pastry Cake, Very Tasty Cake



I have wanted to try out this fruit pastry cake since a long time ago, after seeing so many beautiful pictures and rave reviews on this cake. I made 2/3 portion of the cake to fit into my 7 inch pan, and I reduced the sugar.



I've been thinking about what fruits to top the cake. I had initially wanted to copy the decoration on HHB's blog, with peaches, strawberries and blueberries, because I'm horrible with cake decorations. But I would have lots of leftover fruit in that case, so I decided to settle for just strawberries and blueberries as I'm not a big fan of peaches. I bought a punnet of strawberries and a punnet of blueberries yesterday, marking the first time I'm baking with blueberries. As for the cake decoration, I have lots of room for improvement.



The freshly baked cake didn't look too good. I thought the blueberries were an eyesore! The icing sugar did help a little though. I didn't wait for the cake to cool before I tried a piece. It was pretty good. Not oily and not too sweet, thanks to the tangy strawberries.



I will definitely make this again, perhaps with different fruits.

Ingredients (7 inch cake):
65g butter, soften at room temperature
100g caster sugar
20ml low fat yogurt (I used Bulla)
2 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
2/3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (estimated)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
140g plain flour
2/3 teaspoon baking powder (estimated)
6 strawberries (washed and halved)
Half a punnet of blueberries, about 60 g (washed)

Method:
  1. Line base and sides of a 7" cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and yogurt till light and fluffy.
  3. Dribble in the eggs gradually and beat till incorporated in the batter. (My batter curdled.)
  4. Add vanilla extract and zest. Beat to combine.
  5. Sieve over flour and baking powder and beat till smooth.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  7. Arrange fruits on top, don’t press the fruits down into the batter. Decorate the fruits as desired.
  8. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180degC for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Tent the cake with aluminium foil if surface of cake is over-browned.
  9. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 5~10 mins. Unmold and transfer to wire rack to let cool completely. Dust the cake with some icing sugar if desired.
Adapted from HHB's Fruit Pastry Cake.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Quick Bakes: Egg Tarts + Biscotti



Saturdays are usually hectic for me. Guitar lessons in the morning, lunch, then about 2 hours of free time before I head for the gym. To bake something within the 2 hours will need careful planning. Bread is out of the question. Cookies will have to be made in small batches as baking time is too long. Looking through my recipes, I decided to try out a biscotti and egg tart recipe as they seem less time consuming.


Some biscotti do not contain butter, thus it's sort of a low fat biscuit, which is ideal for me as a snack, after all the cookie binge. This vanilla almond biscotti dough is very easy to make. Just mix egg and vanilla with the dry ingredients. The challenging part is to shape it into a log and slicing the biscotti after the first bake. I think I have underbaked it as the biscuits are chewy instead of rock hard and crispy. It's still pretty good nonetheless. I will definitely make another batch again.

Ingredients:
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g sugar
1/4 cup whole almonds
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degC.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and almonds in a bowl and mix together.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla. With a spatula, mix and fold to form a soft sticky dough.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using the spatula, scoop the dough onto the baking sheet. Spread and shape with spatula to form a log.
  5. Bake for 35mins and remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Slice the logs into 1 cm thick slices.
  7. Place the slices on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 mins or until the biscotti are crisp. (Supposed to bake 10 mins on each side to get crispy biscotti.)
  8. Let cool and store in air-tight container.
Adapted from HHB's Vanilla Almond Biscotti.



While waiting for the biscotti to bake, I started with the egg tarts. To save me the agony of having to devour all of my products, I made a small batch, which is supposed to yield me 3 tarts. However, I realised my tart tins are taller than normal egg tart tins. And trying to line the tins with the dough was frustrating as the dough crumbled easily. So in the end, I just made 2, and I would expect the tart pastry to be rather thick. For the pastry, I used the creaming method instead of the rubbing in method.



It's my first time working will egg custard and I have no idea what to expect. When I saw the custard puffed up, I thought I have overbaked it. But it turns out that it will deflate upon cooling. There are bubbles on the surface though. The large holes are due to my poking to see if the custard had been cooked.


The tarts actually look pretty decent but I'm not putting up high hopes for its taste.

I made some modifications to the custard recipe as I did not have evaporated milk, so I used more of he normal milk inplace of water. Here's what I did:

Ingredients (makes 2 tall tarts):
Pastry:
55g plain flour
30g butter, softened at room temperature
1 tbsp icing sugar
Small dash of vanilla extract
1/2 egg yolk

Filling:
The rest of the leftover egg (1/2 yolk + 1 white)
1 1/2 tbsp castor sugar
45 ml boiling hot water
40 ml milk ( I would decrease the amount of water and milk slightly the next time I make this as the custard was too soft)

Method:
Pastry:
  1. Cream the butter and sugar with a spoon (since the amount of ingredients is so little) until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Add in whisked egg, half at a time and mix well. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. Sift in flour in two batches and mix well after each batch. Make sure all ingredients combine well. Knead into dough.
  4. Divide dough into 2 (or 3 if tart pan is smaller) and flatten into a disc. Line tart pan with dough.
Filling:
  1. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water and cool it until just warm to touch.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk lightly, thoroughly combined but not foamy.
  3. Strain it twice into a spouted jug.
To assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Position rack in lower third of oven. Bake tarts for 10 to 15 minutes until the edges are lightly brown.
  2. Lower the heat to 180C. Once you see the custard puffing up , pull the oven door open about 2 to 3 inches. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the custard is cooked through. Just insert a toothpick into the custard. If it stands on its own, it’s done.
Adapted from Quinn's Baking Diary's and Christine's Cantonese Egg Tarts.