Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bake. Blog. Troubleshoot.



Today is another of our monthly baking-with-friends session. Although the turn-out was not well (MY has last-minute work and appointment; JX has a wedding to attend; SC is unwell; TT has an appoinment; AD is celebrating her fiance's birthday), we still went on with it with SM, XP and myself experimenting at XP's place.

This is the second time I visited XP's place and the first time we baked at her place. I love her apartment. It's clean, bright, simple and her main window faces the trees and grass. Upon opening the door, the sight of the living room just feels so welcoming. SM was definitely impressed and couldn't stop gushing.



But...today's bakes didn't turn out well. I've baked choux pastry 6 times before, with the last 2 times within this month, and all of them turned out satisfactory well. I used a different recipe this time round and well...it turned out badly. Firstly, this recipe uses half milk half water while I usually use all water. Secondly, I'm baking with XP's new oven, which I am not used to. I suspect this may have been the reason why the puffs didn't turn out well.

The batter looked normal when stirring it. While baking, we realized her oven was way too cool. Even though we turned it up to the maximum 260 deg C, the thermometer register ed180 deg C. But yet, the surface browned very quickly though the puffs were still flat. We took them out before the baking time indicated on the recipe was up because they looked like they would get burnt, and well, the puffs collapsed and the insides were wet. For the second batch, we left them in till baking time was up and the shells were very dark and tasted burnt although they did not collapse. I really find it very weird...was it because a) milk was used or b) it's a problem with the oven or c) it's a problem with the thermometer since XP told me she dropped it once or d) a problem with me.



We made some green tea pastry cream with the fabulous green tea MY bought for me. But...for once, I felt that the pastry cream was not sweet enough. And since the puffs collapsed, we had difficulty piping in the cream and had a lot of leftover.



So we decided, we shall use the remaining egg whites and pastry cream to make some macarons. And out of 3 trays of macs, 2 trays got burnt. Only one turned out good. I seriously am not used to her oven.



The saving grace of the day: the not-sweet green tea pastry cream does go well with the utterly-sweet shells. Since we did not have many successful shells, it was manageable to finish up within us and the rest of the girls whom we met up for dinner. All in all...it was a disastrous but yet quite fun baking session this month.

One thing to cheer me up is that I've received my very first award for this blog! Many thanks to Jasmine of The Sweetylicious for forwarding this award to me. I'm really honoured to receive this as my very first award.



Here are the rules to abide in order to accept this award and they are:
  1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
  3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs.
  4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.

Here goes the random things about me:
  1. Hate cheesecakes and anything cheesy.
  2. Allergic to shark's fin.
  3. Developed hives after eating Meiji Black and Ritter Sport Edelbitter chocolates.
  4. Grew up in a rather traditional Chinese family and seldom eat western-styled meals or desserts. Ever seen someone eat spaghetti with chopsticks? That would be me.
  5. Dislocated my right shoulder thrice from playing squash, badminton and volleyball on 3 separate occasions.
  6. Can do without my mobile phone, but not my laptop and internet.
  7. Blog hop quite a bit for inspiration, but seldom leave comments on blogs.

Can I break some rules here? I have actually selected some blogs to forward this award to, but realized many of these blogs have already been awarded! Lol. So instead, I will mention some of my favourite blogs which have greatly inspired me when I first started baking last year. I am particularly attracted to these blogs because they have great looking pictures, very informative and/or humourous writing and a good variety of bakes that makes me look forward to their next post. And I'm sure everyone is very familiar with the blogs mentioned below.
  • Happy Home Baking - HHB's blog is the first blog I chanced upon while looking for baking ideas. Her recipes are not too complicated and very informative. For a newbie like me, her tips are really useful and decrease chances of failure. I have tried a number of her recipes and most turned out well, although not as good-looking as hers. Also, she has been very helpful with queries. I'm glad to see her back with her new oven and definitely looking forward to her new posts.
  • Køkken69 - Shirley's blog attracted me at first sight because her pictures are so well-taken. Her posts are very informative, often giving background information relating to the food she made. And I love her explanations to the science behind baking. Well, she is a chemist by training and I can definitely relate to that very well.
  • The Little Teochew - Ju's blog has a great variety of both baking and non-baking recipes. She updates her blog very frequently with great looking pictures which capture her nicely "dressed up" food. I enjoy reading her honest and humourous writing.
  • Dailydelicious - Pook's blog features very delicious and sophisticated-looking desserts. But this is one blog which I can only look and wow over it without taking down any recipes because they all look very intimidating to me. I love her step-by-step pictures, but that still doesn't give me any confidence to try the recipes. Perhaps one day when I think I've gained enough experience will I try to bake some of those beautiful desserts.

Like many other bloggers, I started out this blog to record down my baking projects, each post being a milestone on this journey. Although I started this blog last year, it has been pretty low profile because I don't publish my blog address anywhere and seldom leave comments on other blogs. Even among my friends, only a couple know the existence of this blog. It was until I took part in the Aspiring Bakers event that I got to know more fellow bloggers and their lovely blogs. I want to thank Small Small Baker for initiating this event, as well as all the hosts of Aspiring Bakers event. I also want to thank Jess of J3ss Kitch3n for being the first fellow blogger to leave encouraging comments and tips on my blog. Same goes for Jasmine of The Sweetylicious, Cathy of Cathy's Joy and Janine of Not the Kitchen Sink! for all the tips and encouragement, and of course to everyone who has dropped by. I hope this little hobby of mine will last for quite some time. =D


8 comments:

  1. lovely bakes as always, congrats on the awards you deserve them! Your blog will definitely last long!

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  2. i love the gorgeous green on the green tea flling! Bet its really delish too!

    New ovens can be so difficult to tame and predict isn't it? I think it would be wise to give it a lower temperature run and in compensation, longer baking time during the "getting to know your oven" stage. And some ovens have "hotspots" which causes the heat distribution to be somewhat uneven. So do try to place the oven thermometer at different positions to test run a bit. And of course, macarons aint exactly the most forgiving things to make, especially in terms of temperature control. So definitely no problem with you! lol

    Do you develop hives with other brands of chocolates as well? It would such a shame to give chocolates a miss altogether!

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  3. Since you've baked the choux puffs so many times, I'm pretty sure it's the new oven! I had the same problem with my oven until I finally bought a new oven thermometer (which just cost $11!) and it solved many of my baking failures for me :D

    And glad to know that some of my comments have helped :D

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  4. LOVELY bakes you have there! you tried baking puffs for SIX times while i've baked NONE. now i know who to consult when i want to bake puffs (: oven that you are not used to it, it'll surely be unpredictable (: hi-5! i dont like cheesy stuffs too but my family love it!
    WE will last long blogging together (:

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  5. Thank you Jess for your encouragement!

    Alan, welcome back from Japan (your pictures made me miss Kyoto so much). Yeah...it's the first time I'm baking with my friend's oven and it sure is unpredictable. But then again, I can be quite inconsistent with the batter...LOL. So far, I only had problems with Meiji Black and Ritter Sport Edelbitter. No idea why though...perhaps some "special" ingredient in them? No problems with other brands so far. I love chocolates too much to give them a miss!

    Hi Janine, yeah, my oven thermometer is an essential for me now too! I'm so glad I bought it.

    Hi Jasmine, although I've baked it 6 times, I still failed in yesterday's attempt :(. I would definitely love to blame it on the oven though (haha...the oven is the scapegoat). Hi-5 back! I don't usually find people who hate cheese as much as I do.

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  6. Wow, so nice to have baking sessions with so many friends. You are lucky to have friends who share the same passion. Don't be discouraged, it's probably the oven that you are not familiar with.

    I also seldom leave comments. But you know I have reading your blog right? Glad that you have joined Aspiring Bakers too. :)

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  7. Hi SSB, yes it's great to bake with friends...double the fun! Haha...you have left a couple of comments here before, so I've guessed you do drop by sometimes =D. Keep blogging, SSB, I've always been looking forward to your new posts.

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