I like Black Forest cake very much. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a good one in the local bakeries. Most places do not use enough alcohol, if they even use any in the first place, so it feels as though I am eating a dry chocolate sponge cake stuffed with cherries and cream. A cake cannot be called a Black Forest cake if it does not contain kirsch, can it? At least in Germany, I suppose.
I enjoyed the class a little more this time, compared to my previous experience. This time, the teacher, Mayumi-san, taught two items (instead of three), so the pace was slower and there was more hands-on time. She taught us how to bake, assemble and decorate a heart-shaped (you can’t really tell from the photograph) Black Forest cake using chocolate sponge cake, chocolate cream, fresh cream, kirsch, black cherries soaked in syrup and alcohol, and chocolate shavings.
The cake was good. The kirsh-soaked sponge cake was moist and not too sweet. The alcohol-soaked black cherries were tinged with bitterness (luvre!). Mmmmm, I am eating a slice of the cake as I type out this post.
Mayumi-san also showed us how to bake creme caramel. So easy to make! Her recipe is very good but having said that, creme caramel is not a dessert that I am ordinarily fond of eating. Too sweet for my tastebuds.
The very pretty sensei. She is teaching Japanese Strawberry Shortcake and lamingtons in February.
I found a new thing to do, and that is making yoghurt. I love eating yoghurt, especially Greek yoghurt with honey and granola. But eating store-bought yoghurt regularly costs quite a bit of money, so I thought about making it.
I bought two sachets of freeze-dried Caspian Sea yoghurt culture from Medi-ya and followed the given instructions for making yoghurt carefully.
I sterilised a half-quart glass jar (including the cap, spoons and measuring cup), poured 500ml of whole milk into the jar, added yoghurt culture from one sachet to the milk, mixed thoroughly, covered the jar and left it in my study room for approximately 24 hours. And I got yoghurt!
The texture of Caspian Sea yoghurt is thick (but not as thick as Greek yoghurt), creamy and a little tart, with a viscosity similar to honey. Actually, the texture that is closest to the yoghurt that I can think of is yamaimo or nagaimo (grated Japanese mountain yam), which I love too. It took me several days to get used to the texture of this yoghurt, ‘cos it is so different from what I am used to in a Greek yoghurt.
I drizzled the Caspian Sea yoghurt with a little honey and topped it with homemade granola and blueberry compote. Yummy. I have already used the first batch of yoghurt to grow two more batches of yoghurt. And I may never have to pay money for yoghurt at the supermarket again. 🙂
I am very fond of fruit tarts. My earliest memories of fruit tarts are the ones sold in Delifrance. I ate these tarts very often when I was in junior college, at a time when a tart costs $1.80. I used to hang out with my classmates at the Delifrance in Parkway Parade, when we had time in between classes or after classes, socialising over croissants, tarts and sodas. The tarts were not too expensive then and I could still afford the indulgence with my allowance.
Last week, I came across a frangipane tart recipe on a blog known asJo The Tart Queen. She topped some of her frangipane tarts with macerated strawberries and others with orange and grapefruit slices. Since I had a packet of ground almond sitting in my kitchen, I decided to try baking a frangipane tart topped with macerated strawberries using the instructions here.
The tart turned out quite well. The smells of the sweet tart dough coming out of the oven were wonderful. I wish I was less clumsy with the sifting of snow sugar over the tart.
I am going to try making the tart with grapefruit and orange slices next, in a rectangular 14-inch pan.
At the urging of a good friend, I signed up for a baking class at Dulcet & Studio, Tampopo’s new restaurant-cum-studio at Liang Court, one of my favourite malls because it houses Mediya, Nirai Kanai and Shin Yeh. I love the Okinawan food at Nirai Kanai and the Taiwanese cuisine at the Shin Yeh. Oh, and I cannot leave out the ramen at Tampopo. I love to eat Tampopo Deli’s light and soft cheese chiffon cakes and it is great that they now have a spacious sit-down place where you can have coffee, eat cake or lunch and linger.
Back to the baking class. My friend has been attending baking classes run by Dulcet & Studio for a while and keeps asking me to give their classes a try. The classes are taught by Mayumi-san who, in a simple tee-shirt and jeans, looks like she has just floated out of the cover of Oggi. Tall, slim, elegant and well-groomed. I am so envious of how most Japanese women manage to always look so effortlessly chic, stylish and cool.
I signed up for the January class which taught participants how to make three types of sweets – a Mont Blanc, rum and raisin ice cream and caramel chocolate. I don’t usually sign up for baking classes but when I do, I prefer hands-on classes, where I make at least 80% of the desserts from scratch. I don’t like standing around or sitting on a chair watching demonstrations performed by the teacher. I learn best by doing, not by watching or listening.
From what I know, the classes at Dulcet & Studio are 80% demonstration and 20% ‘get-your-hands-dirty’, and you get to eat the desserts at the end of class. Not the instruction format that I enjoy but the mouth-watering Japanese-style desserts looked so enticing in the promotion flyers, I decided to sign up.
There are only four participants in each class, and even then, the studio is too small to set up individual work-stations for each participants. We watched the instructor put together the items, with a number of steps having been prepared in advance.To make three desserts from scratch within a 3-hour timeframe, especially with the Mont Blanc being a more complicated item to make, was just not possible.I felt that she was going through the demonstration at break-neck speed, with the rest of us trying our best to digest her explanations and scribbling away furiously on our instruction sheets.
Although the class was scheduled for 3 hours, the instructor completed all three desserts in slightly less than 2 hours. I have no idea why she was in such a hurry. All the hands-on work that we were required to do was pipe three meringues and the chestnut cream for the Mont Blancs.
The instructor showed us two types of piping for the Mont Blancs. The one in the foreground is the ‘cross’ piping and the one in the background is the ‘spiral’ piping. My hands ached from piping three Mont Blancs ‘cos the chestnut cream was quite stiff. I shall not complain about how much it costs to buy a Mont Blanc.
Rum and raisin ice cream
At the end of the class, we sat down at a table and the instructor served us the desserts and a hot cup of tea. In one sitting, I ate a Mont Blanc, a huge serving of rum and raisin ice cream and tasted a piece of chocolate. I was stuffed! I thought all the food tasted very good, with the ice cream being the most outstanding. I also brought home three Mont Blancs in a beautifully boxed-up carrier and several pieces of chocolate.
Having seen the studio’s monthly promotion flyers for baking classes, I like the desserts that they teach. The instructor speaks good English and is clear in articulating her thoughts and methods. However, the class would have been more enjoyable and beneficial to me if the studio focuses on teaching only one or two items at a slower pace and includes more hands-on opportunities. Unless the format of their baking classes changes, I suppose I will just stick with buying chiffon cakes at Dulcet & Studio.
I was totally mad for Lao Ban beancurd when the beancurd fad descended on Singapore two years ago. I would join the long queues that formed at various times of the day just to eat the cold pudding-like beancurd, made popular by this stall known as Lao Ban. The cold, light and smooth texture of the beancurd was wonderful in our hot, tropical weather. Lao Ban produced several flavours of the beancurd pudding – original, almond and durian. My favorite was the almond-flavoured one and the original came in as a close second.
Making the beancurd pudding is a breeze once you get hold of all the ingredients from the supermarket and specialty baking shops. I have to figure out how to make the almond-flavoured version.
Lao Ban-style Beancurd
60g Polleney Soybean Powder (from NTUC)
30g Unisoy Soya Milk Powder (from NTUC)
30g Nestle Coffeemate (from NTUC)
13g REDMAN Instant Jelly Powder (from Phoon Huat)
1 vanilla bean pod (optional)
Place the Polleney Soybean Powder, Unisoy Soya Milk Powder and water in a saucepan.
Heat the mixture over low fire and use a whisk to combine thoroughly. There will be plenty of bubbles forming on the surface of the mixture once it is heated but do not let it boil. Add the vanilla bean pod.
Add sugar and Nestle Coffeemate to the saucepan and whisk to combine. The bubbles would have disappeared. Again, do not let the mixture boil.
Once the soybean mixture is very hot (when steam appears from the mixture), add Instant Jelly Powder and whisk quickly to dissolve the jelly powder.
Pour the mixture through a sieve (to remove bubbles and any bits of powder floating in the mixture) into a measuring cup.
Pour the sieved mixture slowly from a low height into serving bowls. This is to prevent bubbles from forming in the serving bowls.
Chill in the refrigerator for several hours.
The above-mentioned ingredients were doubled to make the quantities shown in the photographs.[br][br]Recipe is adapted from www.dejiki.com.
I love pandan chiffon cakes and the Bengawan Solo version is my favorite. Their pandan cakes are so soft, moist and flavourful. I can eat one whole pandan cake on my own.
I have tried baking chiffon cakes several times, including a goma version and a kinako version from the Okashi recipe book, but my cakes just would not rise properly. So I signed up for a class at Maple & Market to learn how to do it properly.
During the 2-hour class, we made two types of chiffon cakes – a pandan cake and three smaller sized Earl Grey cakes.
Both cakes turned out quite well. I felt that the pandan chiffon cake would have tasted much better if we had used fresh juice extracted from pandan leaves, instead of pandan paste from a bottle. I will try using fresh pandan juice the next time using the Hurom, and crossing my fingers that the machine will not let me down.
I learnt how to make a crepe cake at baking class today!
We were taught a Japanese pastry cream, crepe batter, how to cook crepes, and finally, assembling a crepe cake with pastry cream and sliced fruits such as strawberries, kiwi and banana. It should look flat, but mine was a dome-shaped cake (‘cos I didn’t place the sliced fruits at the end of the crepes).
Yaaaay, I can make crepes now. Thin, golden crepes that do not end up looking like pancakes or roti prata.
From today’s baking class with Maple & Market: strawberry mousse cake in a jar. Two hours of fun and I get to bring back 5 jars containing genoise, strawberry mousse (strawberry puree + gelatin + whipped cream) and little jelly hearts (made using rose-flavoured agar agar).
The combination tastes really good and I would definitely try to make it on my own someday. Except that I would put in an additional layer of genoise to balance the sweetness of the strawberry mousse.
I attended another baking class with Sarah of Sarah’s Loft today. We made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. It was super fun.
I like her classes because the class size is small with plenty of interaction between the attendees and Sarah. Her instructions are always clearly explained and easy to understand. Because it is a home setting, there is a ‘personalised touch’ to the class, and it makes one feel like you are learning from a friend (as opposed to a more formal studio setting).
We left after 2 hours with a box of 12 cupcakes wrapped in a sweet pink ribbon and two recipes – the red velvet one and a vanilla cupcake one. I have eaten 2 cupcakes so far and I like how it tastes. Light, moist and most importantly, not too sweet.
I love the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake – it is a popular Christmas and birthday cake in Japan. It is my favourite cake. A confectionary of sponge cake, whipped cream and strawberries. It is so pretty to look at. And because the flavours are quite light, I can eat one entire cake by myself. I am not fond of strawberries but I adore sponge cake and whipped cream.
Initially, I couldn’t understand why the cake was called a “shortcake” when it is primarily made with sponge cake. But what the heck, it tastes good, looks good, and that’s good enough for me.
When I read that Sarah of Sarah’s Loftwas teaching classes on the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake, I jumped at the chance to sign up. I have been reading her blog for a while and I love her photos, her cakes, pastries and cookies. The presentation of her baked goods is always so pretty, whimsical and tasteful. I also thought making the cake at a class was a foolproof way of getting the husband a wedding anniversary cake, which I could sneakily present as something that I had made on my own. Not entirely false there.
The baking class was conducted at Sarah’s home, on a Sunday afternoon, and lasted approximately 2.5 hours. There were 3 students per class and it was a hands-on, relaxed, easy-to-follow lesson. I had a bit of difficulty with icing the cake; I just couldn’t get the icing to be even because my wrist was just not moving in the right way and my cake was “balding”. Well, nothing that more practice cannot fix! 🙂
Don’t you love her instruction sheet? ‘Cos I do. She made sketches of each step of the method and coloured them! There is so much heart in her work. ♥♥♥