Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pandan Gula Melaka Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Oh my, back to back cake posts!

If you're not a big fan of pandan chiffon cakes, fret not! Pandan Gula Melaka (PGM) cake is NOTHING like the pandan chiffon cakes sold in stores. Like you, I had my initial reservations too. Until I sunk my teeth into my first PGM slice. Ahhhhh, love at first bite! Fluffy and soft, complimented by the satiny buttery taste of Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB). Absolutely heaven in my mouth. I won't blame you, if you take second helpings!

Tips and tricks:
  • This recipe is originally for 24 cupcakes. Since I wanted to make a cake out of it, I doubled the recipe for two 8" cake tins.
  • If you want a whiter looking SMB, choose a 'white' butter such as SCS. Anchor and Tatura are more yellowish in colour. However for this recipe, since you'll be adding some gula melaka syrup, it won't really matter.
  • SMB is really quite forgiving. Mine turned into scrambled eggs but I quickly popped them into the fridge for 15 minutes and then whipped them again with my KitchenAid. After 5 minutes, those scrambled eggs magically turned into SMB. I recommend reading Sweetapolita's tips and tricks for SMB before your first attempt.

Okay, recipe time! So I mixed and matched a few recipes this time. The PGM cake recipe is adapted from BitterSweetSpicy, the SMB recipe is adapted from Azie Kitchen while the Gula Melaka caramel is from Azlita Masam Manis.

The naked cake, before flaked coconut garnish and gula Melaka caramel drizzle.

Pandan Gula Melaka
(makes 12 cupcakes, or double recipe for two 8" cakes)

200 gm superfine flour
1/2 teaspoon double acting baking powder
125 gm unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
160 gm (reduced from 200gm) caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
75 gm coconut milk (KARA) + 25 gm water
2 tablespoon pandan juice (blend 5 pieces of pandan leaves with 1 tablespoon of water, press through a fine sieve to extract the green juice, let it settle and the green extract will settle at the bottom)
Green colouring

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin pan with cupcake liner or, if using cupcake paper cups, place cups onto a baking pan. If making cake, grease and flour generously two 8 inch pans.
  • Combine flour & baking power. Sift and set aside. 
  • Combine coconut milk, water, pandan juice and green colouring. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, combine butter, vanilla & salt. Cream until smooth. 
  • Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  • Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk mixture. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to over beat.
  • Fill paper cups or muffin pan with batter, 3/4 full. If making cake, divide batter equally into the two pans.
  • Place pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.
  • Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before icing. 
Check out those layers of SMB.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Since I'm using Gula Melaka caramel to flavour the SMB, I've adapted the recipe slightly to reduce the sweetness)

50g gula Melaka, crushed
2 pandan leaves, torn lengthwise & tied a knot
1/8 cup water

4 large egg whites
110g granulated sugar (reduced from 200-220gm)
200g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature (reduced from 300-350gm)
1 tsp pure vanilla paste
1/4tsp salt
  • To prepare Gula Melaka caramel, combine water, gula Melaka & daun pandan in a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until all the sugar has melted. Then continue heating up the syrup & let it reduce slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, strain & leave aside to cool completely to room temperature. The caramel will thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin out with a little bit of water before using.
  • Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 70°C and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers - if it feels grainy, it hasn't dissolved). 
  • Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. 
  • Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until the mixture comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. 
  • With the mixer running, add in the gula Melaka caramel, one teaspoon at a time, beating until well combined between each addition. You need not use all the gula Melaka syrup. Just add enough.
A pool of gula Melaka caramel drizzle.

Gula Melaka Caramel
(To drizzle on the frosting)

50g gula Melaka
1 pandan leaf
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the gula Melaka has melted. If it doesn't thicken, add 1 tsp of cornflour that has been mixed with some water. Cook again until it thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool down before using. Garnish the cake with some lightly toasted flaked coconuts, and then drizzle the gula Melaka caramel.

Don't be overwhelmed with the number of steps needed to make this cake. I assure you, it is absolutely worth it. Happy baking!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Whip It!

After a series of cakes for my in-laws' kenduri last weekend, I had plenty of leftover dairy and non-dairy whipped cream in the fridge. I hated the idea of it going to waste, so I decided to make two of Hubby's favourite desserts - Pavlova and Cheesecake! Both needed some amount of whipped cream in them, but I guess it still wasn't enough because there's at least half a box of each variant still in the fridge. Must find more recipes with whipped cream... Perhaps a batch of creme brûlée or some cream puffs are in order!

I apologize for the series of baking posts. This is turning into a baking blog pulak instead of a parenting one. Well mummies need to feed their husbands and kids with yummy cakes and such kan kan kan? And it's so close to Ramadhan so bagi chan lah with the calorie count.

I digress. Back to the cakes. First up, pavlova! I've always used Joy of Baking's recipe for my pavlovas and they've always turned out beautifully. But this time around I decided to make a chocolate pavlova instead, using Joy of Baking's tried and tested recipe. The only difference between the chocolate pavlova and the conventional pavlova, is the used of cocoa powder and chopped chocolates.

No chopped chocolates, please. Just stick to cocoa powder.

If you're not a big fan of sweets, I strongly urge you not to add the chopped chocolates in the batter. If you're like me, then add more chocolates!! *giggles* No, seriously, I have a high tolerance for sugar. Being half Kelantanese, I chugged the air gula to check for diabetes during pregnancy macam takde hal lah. But I really hate the thought of anyone having to amputate their legs because of my pavlova, so yes seriously, leave out the chopped chocolates.

Tips and tricks:
  • When beating sugar and egg whites, test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your fingers. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth.
  • Do not take the pavlova out immediately after the timer rings. Crack your oven open just slightly, and let it cool down completely for a few hours.
  • If you're looking for a soft center in your meringue, bake it for 60 mins. If you prefer a slight crunch, do 75 mins. The longer you cook it and let it dry out (in the oven), the firmer it will be.
  • When constructing your pavlova, dip the center and keep the sides slightly higher so you can a slight well in the middle. This helps greatly when you're trying to fit the cream.
  • I tried using non-dairy whipped cream instead of the normal dairy one. Loveeee it! As the cream held well, it didn't make my pavlova 'wet'. Usually pavlovas break down pretty quickly due to the moisture of the cream and fruit. Definitely doing this again next time.
  • If you're looking for a cake to present to your future mother-in-law, this is NOT the cake to make. Takut nanti tak jadi kawin! This cake does not cut well, and is very messy to eat. You might as well spoon it into a bowl when serving.

Chocolate Pavlova
(recipe adapted from Joy of Baking)

120 grams egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice (I did not use this cos I didn't have any)
200 grams castor sugar
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon corn flour
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
30 grams semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (please omit this!)
240 ml cold whipping cream (I used non-dairy)
Fresh fruit  of your choice - I usually use, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwi fruit

  • Preheat your oven to 150 degC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the parchment paper. 
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until you have soft peaks. Then add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue is shiny and holds stiff peaks. 
  • Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and beat until combined. Using a small strainer, sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in. If you like you can then fold in the chopped chocolate.
  • Gently pile the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 120 degC. Bake the Pavlova for about 60 - 75 minute.
  • Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (about two hours).
  • Shortly before serving gently place the meringue on your serving plate. Whip the cold cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Mound the whipped cream into the center of the meringue and arrange the fruit on top of the cream. 
  • Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold well.
So messy... but so good!

Ok, next up! Mango Cheesecake. This is a simple, no-bake cake. All you need is a fridge! I usually stay away from cakes that do not need to go into the oven, but surprisingly this one was quite good. It is really easy to do too; the most difficult part of making it is waiting while it sets in the fridge! *chuckles*

Tips and tricks:
  • Do not make your mango purée nor cut your mangoes into cubes before the base crumb is done. The mangoes will sadly turn brown. If you really must, cover the puréed/cut mangoes with plastic wrap and store in fridge. Similarly, try to finish the cake in a day, or your cubed mangoes decorating the top of the cake will turn brown too.
  • You can substitute Marie biscuits with Digestive or even Oreos!
  • If you want to impress your future mother-in-law, try making this in small individual clear glasses or mousse jars, instead of a cake pan. Bonus points for presentation!

No Bake Chilled Mango Cheesecake
(recipe adapted from Dapur Tanpa Sempadan)

200 grams Marie biscuits
100 grams melted butter
250 grams cream cheese
60 grams castor sugar
2 mangoes, one puréed , the other diced
1 1/2 table spoon halal gelatine
125 ml warm water
200 ml cold heavy whipping cream

  • Pulse biscuits in a food processor or put biscuits into a ziplock bag and crush until it resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, combine crushed cookies and melted butter. 
  • Pour biscuit crumbs into a springform cake pan and press down with the bottom of a cup/glass to create the crust. Put in the freezer to let the crust set.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Fold in mango purée and beat until well combined. 
  • In a different bowl, whip the cream until thick and fold into the cream cheese mixture.. 
  • Whisk the gelatine and hot water in a small bowl until the gelatine dissolves. Stir into the cream cheese mixture then add half of the cubed mangoes. Mix well.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the refrigerated crust and flatten the top using a spatula. Keep in the refrigerator until set (about 3-4 hours).
  • Remove pan sides and transfer cake to platter. Just before serving, decorate with the remaining mango cubes.

As always, happy baking!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Hope You Have A Glass of Milk in Hand!

This year, I procrastinated my plans for Teachers' Day. I had such big plans; I wanted to make a 'First Aid Kit' for the teachers - a box filled with white board markers, colored pens, highlighters, glue sticks, correction tape, sticker labels, metal clips, and even some chocolates!

In the end, I didn't have time to do such a thing. I think it had something to do with the fact that the Teachers' Day celebration was squeezed in between a long week of exams. Where lah sempat nak study paper Piñata lagi, nak go shopping lagi, nak packing lagi. *chuckles* In the end, I decided to just wing it by baking yet another batch of Congo Bars. (Replicating last year's gift... OMG I've stopped to an all new low!) *giggles* Of course, in an attempt to make it slightly different from what I did last year, I enlisted Aiden's help in drizzling some homemade Salted Caramel sauce on top.

So why Congo Bars, you ask? Logically I needed a dessert that was sturdy enough to withstand curious hands. I've tried giving macarons previously and I actually had to hand carry them to school. With Congo Bars, I knew they would survive a trip on the school van plus some swinging in the paper bag courtesy of dear Aiden. These are some tough cookies! But... not really, as the texture is soft, chewy and decadent, especially when they are slightly warm. Who can resist a buttery chocolate chip cookie in a chunky square form? Dip them in warm milk... and *drool*

Some tips and tricks for Congo Bars:
  • Some people call it Blondies because it is the blonde version of Brownies.
  • Use brown sugar instead of white caster sugar as it makes the bars thick and rich. And good quality chocolate will go a longgggg way.
  • You can customize your bars by adding some butterscotch chips or M&Ms to the batter, or sprinkle some almond slices on the top. You can also save some of the chocolate chips from the recipe, and sprinkle them on the top before baking, for some visual impact.
  • Do not overbake! As soon as you get a clean skewer, take it out of the oven. It should look puffy, soft, and golden, while the center will still be soft.

Anyway, let's get to the recipe:

Congo Bars
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
150gm butter
180gm brown sugar (reduced from 240gm of original recipe)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
325gm chocolate chips (I did half chocolate, half butterscotch)

  • Pre-heat oven to 170degC. Grease and flour generously a 10 x10 pan (I made 12x12).
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar. 
  • Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture and stir well after each egg.
  • Add vanilla essence. Mix well.
  • Add dry flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  • Fold in chocolate (and butterscotch) chips.
  • Spread batter evenly into baking pan, using a spatula to even out the surface. Sprinkle almonds or chocolate chips, if desired.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Make sure you don’t over bake!
  • Cool bars completely. Cut into squares. Store leftovers in airtight container at room temp.

Individually packed for each teacher. Next time, must save some chocolate chips for the top!

Aiden hard at work.

Next up, the Salted Caramel sauce. So rich and creamy, it is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and more! And only 4 ingredients required... why would you even bother buying this from the stores?

Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction)

200g granulated sugar
90g salted butter, room temperature cut up into 6 pieces
120ml heavy cream (I used my favourite Anchor whipped cream)
1 teaspoon salt
  • Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  • Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  • Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes. A whisk helps if you find the butter is separating from the sugar.
  • Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  • Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.

Congo bars drizzled with salted caramel.

You can make this caramel in advance. Make sure it is covered tightly and store it for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe. This caramel can be left at room temperature for a day if you're traveling or gifting it.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


*Studying for his BM exams tomorrow*

Me: Aiden, what is ayat penyata?
Aiden: Erm.....
Me: Penyata!! What is penyata??
Aiden: Erm... The thing that you hit a lot of times with a stick?
Me: What???
Aiden: Piñata?

#Malayvocabfail *chuckles*
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