Tanjong Pagar Railway Station aka Kereta Api Tanah Melayu

The Malayan Railway started it’s services in Singapore from 1903. Previously known as The Keppel Road Railway Station the building was opened in 1932 to serve as a West Coast Line of the KTM Railway. It was contructed by a French company Brossard and Mopin Ltd. The station was officially opened by Governor Sir Cecil Clementi on 2nd May 1932. The location was directly opposite Tanjong Pagar’s docks which made easy transfer of cargo between steamships and railway trains. In the 1918 agreement, the British colonial government, had handed over the ownership of some 200ha railway land in Singapore, including the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Federated Malay States Railway (FMSR) on a 999 year leasehold term. After independence of Malaysia the ownership went to KTM Berhad a successor company to FMSR owned by the Malaysian government. As part of the separation agreement that Singapore signed with Malaysia in 1965, KTM Berhad was allowed to retain control of the railway land, meaning that Tanjong Pagar Railway Station had become a part of the Malaysian sovereign territory. It was because of this arrangement was why travellers had to clear Malaysian customs even when boarding the train from Singapore.

the lobby was like stepping back in time

the lobby was like stepping back in time

old man taking care of the toilets and two guard cats.

old man taking care of the toilets and two guard cats.

On 8th of April 2011 the Preservations of Monument Board gazetted the building as a national monument. The impending closure of the station aroused unprecendented public interest towards the building. There were guided tours, people taking train rides just to preserve the memory of ever departing by train from Singapore! I have always loved the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Whenever I step into it, I do not feel I am in Singapore, I feel that I am time warped into Malaysia. The food court there also serves very good food, epok-epok (curry puffs) nasi lemak, chappati, pratha, Malay kuihs (cakes) etc, ask the taxi drivers they will tell you where the good food are. I have taken the train from Singapore to Malaysia a couple of times. Somehow I love taking the train. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it is about the scenes that you see as the train chugs along, green forests, kampung houses, the different train stations and the local scene. Then when you transfer in Kuala Lumpur to connect the night train, it is the beautiful scenes of the paddy fields, mountains, lakes, sunrise, such is the beauty.  When we were living in Singapore at Everton Road it was just walking distance to the train station. Many a time I would take a walk to get morning breakfast or just some fried bananas and kuih for afternoon tea, how convenient!

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We did a trek along the railway tracks after the train services ceased to leave from Tanjong Pagar Station. It was surreal being able to walk on that very same tracks that tooks us from Singapore to Malaysia once upon a time. We also got to see nature surroundings along the way. Then there was Bukit Timah Station, at one time the train picked up passengers from there, but not anymore.IMG_3336

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As we walked along we came across Wessex Road. That area also have some old black and white colonial houses and flats, built during the British colonization. Huge balconies, huge space and loads of greenery. Mr K and I almost wanted to move there, because it was so peaceful and tranquil with plenty of greenery and birds singing, it was like not being in Singapore. We came across a very old coffee shop that has a very old fashioned weighing scale from the days of yore. They were also doomed to move but the people in that area wrote in a petition that they should let something so nostalgic remain as it is. So it did, the place is called Colbar. They serve some western meals and local food of course, but it’s so old school that Singapore should retain some of these old time grocery stores or coffee shops for the youngsters nowadays who know not much about them but only fancy cafes and fast foods!

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one of the apartments at Wessex Road

one of the apartments at Wessex Road

Such was the lush greenery at Wessex Road area Mr K and I wished we lived there. We made an enquiry anyway, but they gave priority to the people who work at Biopolis an IT, bio engineering tower office and the nearest mrt station is Buona Vista. Oh well, we can only admire and envy the people living there. :)

one of the last few days at Tanjong Pagar Railway

one of the last few days at Tanjong Pagar Railway

Now there are only memories. Of the days when taking the train into Malaysia was exciting, well at least for me it was. There is something about train rides that perhaps for me, it adds some kind of adventure, feeling like the “Indiana Jones” kind of movie, or a beautiful seductress spy on the Oriental Express, or just watch the changing scenes as the train moves from destination to destination, unlike the boring airplane where one only sees the sky, clouds and the droning of engines. Perhaps it is just me who loves the old fashioned way of travelling, yes maybe so. Or have been watching too much movies that involves romance, adventures and spies on board train journies. Well, am just plain old fashioned me. :)

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Singapore and Leaving : Black & White Houses

That was it. The time had come. Mr K had worked in Singapore for seven years now, and then it was time to leave. From the first time he relocated here and that was how we met, until the time we got married and moved from the Peranakan house we first lived in at Everton Road to a 1920s black and white house in Towner Road. Singapore being colonized by the British back in late 1800s since the time Sir Stamford Raffles stepped foot on our soil, had an English element in it. Until today only some of those houses exist. Very much of the conservation houses are rented out only to embassies housing their ambassadors or if one had been so lucky may have been able to own one. The majority of the black and white houses built from 1900-1930s regrettably are no longer in existence. They are now privately owned or demolished to make way for urban redevelopment.

Our home at Towner Road a 1920s "black & white" colonial house

Our home at Towner Road a 1920s “black & white” colonial house

IMG_6203The very first houses built for the British colonial administration and the last ones erected for the military have survived until today. They were handed over to the administration of independent Singapore in 1963. So now it is more for high end government housing pool or restaurants and businesses. history comes with a price of course. Today fewer than 500 black and white houses are left in Singapore and they all belong to the government. Since 2007, the Singapore Land Authourity (SLA) has been leasing the black and white houses on two year terms via an open bidding system, which leaves up to property demand to fairly determine the price. Bids start from as low as $6,000 per month.  A happy marriage of Western and Eastern influences they offer lessons in tropical design that continue to be relevant today and remain in demand among the expatriates wishing to live in a home rich in history. As architectural legacies of the past, black and whites basic lighting and ceiling fans instead of air-conditioning must remain intact. The high ceilings makes the home airy and well ventilated. However these are homes with so much character and history.

the houses at Towner Road stretch

Across our street another stretch of houses

We had been lucky to have been able to live in such a home. Especially in the suburbs of the city centre. We were just five minutes away from the mrt station (Singapore’s tube station), shops and also a supermarket. Not only that, but Little India is just two mrt stops away. We lived 4 years in that home, with that brings so many memories, of friends and family dropping by for special festivals, or for lunch, tea or dinner. Many times friends tell me that they do not feel like leaving because of the ambience just like one of those English cottages. Yes, me more like the wicked witch of the East Mr K says, hahahah! Then again from that also came many cooking and baking lessons for friends, baking orders from home, recipes that are concocted, and cooking for Hari Raya. When I think about it, I miss it. I miss the convenience of getting around easily and transportation is cheap, food if one is lazy to cook just step out of the house and into a food court or hawker centre and easily get local food for as low as $2.00 or at the most $3.00. Life though, is after all about adventures isn’t it? Be it with food, travel, or way of life. It is the discovery of all things new when one moves or travel somewhere.

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the skies at sunset

Nappy looking at the boxes

Nappy looking at the boxes

 

 

 

 

Here are some photos am sharing of the place that brings me alot of memories, and the sunset that I will be looking at from Singapore for the last time. The next transition will be Bali and so the adventure continues. :)

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Pasta ala Thai Fused With Three Herbs In Spicy Tomato Sauce.

Hi folks, I am back after a long disappearance. Had been really busy with other issues. Relocating, packing moving, new adventure in the future. After my previous post, I thought let’s write about something savoury after all the sweets! I believe that in every kitchen pantry there must be a pack of pasta, be it fusilli, spaghetti, angel hair or vermicelli, linguine, macaroni, orecchiette, or what have you, plenty of varieties! Who does not love pasta? It is comfort food for sure, next, it is easy to prepare, and of course easy to please children, with it, they love it. The ever loving mac ‘n cheese is an all time favourite of mine. You can absolutely toss pasta with almost anything your heart desires. Let the mind wander with the various ways of how pasta can be prepared. The pasta can be categorized as Italian style or Oriental. Italian style pasta is primarily wheat based whilst the Oriental pastas are prepared from a variety of flours and starches and form long strands or strips called noodles. Durum wheat is grown in Italy, the Mediterranean, the Middles East, Russia and North and South America. It is a hard wheat high in gluten which is ground into semolina. British semolina  is a coarse variety that is not suitable for making pasta. The ingredients for pasta are simple just semolina flour, with water, adding other various ingredients such as eggs, flavouring or vegetable purees, and then shaping it. There are fresh and dried pasta. The fresh ones are to be consumed within afew days. Pastas can be baked, filled, stir fried, in soups, or even in desserts. Different pastas cook at various timings, as it depends on the quality of pasta and hardness of water. Even if the cooking time is indicated on the packet it is advisable to test the pasta to avoid overcooking. Oriental style pasta or noodles, are the predominant type but similar types of dough are filled to make bite sized dumplings served as dim sum. They can be simmered in a soup or even deep fried. I am so sure everyone is an expert in preparing pasta, well there is a proper way, but to each his/her own style the hard core true blue Italian chef would probably just roll their eyes and throw up their aprons at how we make fusion recipes from it! I know an Italian friend of mine would, hahaha! This is a favourite recipe of mine which I had fused with various herbs to call my own. I had actually wanted to make  just pasta with seafood and creamy tomato sauce but instead I decided to add these aromatic herbs to have that ala Thai feel. Plus after returning from our holiday in Phuket I am still in a “Thai” mode. As with the usual cooking of pasta goes it is usually stated as “al dente” well I do not like mine very “al dente” it still feels like I am eating rubber bands.

I love herbs and spices, somehow that makes a dish more interesting in terms of flavour and smell. Especially in Asia, where one can get hold of these aromatic herbs in abundance. It makes absolute sense to incorporate them into the day to day dishes that we cook and create them into something extraordinary. My cooking style does not use exact measurements in terms of cups, ounces or grams. It’s with the touch, feel, and taste. I use my instincts to cook, and as someone from the Culinary Institute of America had said to me, she uses the cookbook more as a guide, the rest is up to you to create your dish, your bakes. I love Thai food, and a good friend of mine is Mary, a brilliant interior designer and a fantastic cook. She cooks fabulous southern style Thai food as she is a native of Phuket. I was glad to receive some tips and even jot down recipes on how to make some of the lovely dishes taught to her by her grandmother and mother. I did try and replicate them, and they turned out really good in fact, and my dinner guests loved them. This was a dish I thought of making one evening a slipshot work of mine actually. I use Thai basil, coriander and kaffir lime leaves, some lemongrass and Thai chilli paste, abit of a fiery dish yes, but its played down abit by the tomato puree and cream making it into creamy, spicy tomato sauce.  So thank you, dear Mary for the tips and with this pasta dish, I dedicate this page to you. :)

Recipe for Pasta ala Thai fused with Three Herbs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
300g prawns (washed and skinned leaving tails in tact)
8 mussels (washed and cleaned)
10 pc shitake mushrooms
1 stalk lemongrass bruised
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
2 dried chillies cut thinly (if one can take the heat)
1 small bunch of Thai basil leaves
1 small bunch coriander (cilantro) leaves
4-5 kaffir lime leaves (makrut, or limau purut)
1 tsp Thai chilli paste – I used Mae Pranom Thai chilli paste
2 tbsp char siew sauce for that thick sweet malt flavour – I used Lee Kum Kee brand
1 small punnet cherry tomatoes halved
2 -3 tbsp tomato puree (gauge)
200ml cooking cream – I used Emborg/Arla/President
Spaghetti for cooked for 2
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Extra chilli flakes for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat about 3 tbsp oil in a large pan.
  2. Fry the onions, garlic, and some dried chillies (optional) until fragrant. Add the halved tomatoes, chilli paste and the char siew sauce. Then the mushrooms. Stir well. Add the prawns and incorporate with the stir fried spices.
  3. Crush the kaffir lime leaves, tear up some coriander and Thai basil leaves and mix well with the prawns. Add the tomato puree and mix well. Pour the cream bit by bit. Add the mussels last.
  4. At this time taste and see if you need to add any salt or a tad of brown sugar. The heat of the spices should blend in well by now.
    Boil some water for the spaghetti, sprinkle some salt. Cook to your preference. Drain. Toss into the sauce. Serve hot with extra herbs.
  5. Note : The sauces I used can be found at local supermarkets or those abroad,  Asian grocery stores. If you lessen the chilli paste add a dash of fish sauce. Happy trying!

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Banana Maple Upside Down Cake

I told myself to be more diligent in updating my blog and so I am trying my best, but sometimes there are just too many plans to keep up with. What’s more it is the holiday season! I know I am being abit ambitious with some of my forthcoming plans but c’est la vie. Now going bananas, am sure everyone love this fruit, I know I do, so do the errrrmm…. monkeys, hey after all we homosapiens are quite alike just different way of thinking and may I say a different “breed”? No offence!! B-) Though there are some that do like “monkeying” around if you know what I mean >*wink*>. Bananas are full of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytonutrients, bananas are the perfect power food, providing a long-lasting burst of energy to fuel your busy, active life. Pack a banana wherever you go and you’ll always have a quick, convenient source of nutrition to pick you up and keep you going. I love it for breakfast or as a snack when we go hiking. There are various ways to eat a banana, you can cook or bake it. Even when you think you have too much bananas leftover in the pantry, you can make them into cakes, muffins, Asian desserts, breads, I can go on! The thing about making bananas into desserts make sure they are really ripe. Its ok if they have some black spots, all the more when baking, the aroma of ripe bananas just wafts through the air! If making Asian desserts just make sure they are ripe but not overripe, if they need to be steamed, baked or simmered in a sauce. Else you will end up with mushy bananas! Another tip is when it starts to ripe and the black spots are present, keep it in the refrigerator this slows the process of ripening too fast, especially when you live in the tropics like me.

Ever bought banana cakes or bread outside and sometimes it smells strangely of banana essence? You do not need any essence except vanilla extract, as the fragrant smell of ripe bananas just simply fuses together with the mixture and heat during baking. Plus most of the time the store bought banana cakes do not have the moist feel or taste of bananas in it, after all bananas are not costly cannot fathom why they stinge with it. This lovely recipe is adapted from Bill Granger’s Open Kitchen. The recipe is simple, and the use of maple syrup blended together with butter and brown sugar is just perfect. The scent of maple syrup always seems very homely to me. Its a warm cosy feeling no?

Anyway I love recipes by Bill Granger he makes it seem so simple even when it seems difficult. His style is no fuss and yet delicious. “I learned to cook in a domestic kitchen which makes my food simple and  instinctual.”- Bill Granger. He is a self taught cook (always inspired by self taught cooks who succeed!) whose joyful approach to cooking is an essential element in his enduring popularity. There are many self taught cooks and bakers out there who have exceptional hidden talents yet to be exposed, I am one of those  self taught ones as well, heheheh! Am sure any of you out there would agree that everyone have their own style of cooking and baking, like my chef instructor said, 3 recipes in class, 30 students, but every turnout is different. I could not agree more.

Banana Maple Upside Down Cake – adapted by Bill Granger’s Open Kitchen

Ingredients:
50g (1 3/4 oz) unsalted butter plus 100g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened, extra
55g (1 1/4 cup) brown sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
3-4 bananas sliced lengthways
230g (1 cup) caster sugar(superfine)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
155g (1 1/4 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). To make the maple syrup topping, place butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until the sugar melts and the syrup is rich and golden.
Pour the syrup into a 23cm (9inch) greased or non-stick springform cake tin and arrange the sliced bananas, cut side down, over the base of the tin.
To make the cake, place the 100g butter, and caster sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at the time, beating after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, gently fold through the mixture. Spoon the batter evenly over the bananas and caramel and smooth the top with a spatula.
Place the cake in the oven on a baking tray to catch any escaping caramel and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave in the tin 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly. (I let mine cool completely)
Transfer to a large serving plate. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

FoodNote: Every oven is different when baking, there are different hot spots in every individual oven, so you know your ovens well ladies, bake according to the time your oven knows best.
I am sure this will be a family favourite because I did not bake mine just once, the family love it, and B, he is just contented being a husband who gets to eat all my desserts!

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Maple Toffee Pecan Tart @Rachel Allen’s Cooking Demo

Hello my pretties, how have y’all been? I know I have been away for abit, but that is because my laptop was giving me problems and had to eventually send it for repair. Although I have my husband’s laptop and pc somehow it is not the same as using your very own. Another thing was my husband and I celebrated our birthdays in the same month of June and 2 days apart, so off to Bali our usual getaway, but that will be in another post. Anyway, I was very happy, excited, elated and ecstatic, when I was invited to watch Rachel Allen do a cooking demo at the Irish ambassador’s home, Deirdre and Joe Hayes who are a lovely couple. That was not the only thing I did, to be able to help out in the kitchen, with some other fellow Irish friends of the couple doing pre-preparations before the demo for Rachel Allen, was fab. I love the hustle and bustle in a kitchen and that is just so in my element!  All of us had our assigned duties, the weighing stations and I had to make the pastry dough for the tart. The BBC Life food team were also at hand to check that everything were prepared and done accordingly while we wait for the arrival of Rachel Allen.

Finally, she arrived and I was over the moon, she was all smiles even though she had a pretty long day and was flying off that night itself! There was no airs about her, she is all warm friendly and so approachable. I had a gift for her and did not know if she would like it I got her 3 blocks of coconut palm sugar and a linen apron from the Raffles Hotel gift shop. I thought a print from the colonial era would be nice. Of course I brought along her  cookbook with me for her autograph, what else??!! She wrote a lovely note in my book, I was all smiles because she was so delighted by the gift and  loves palm sugar!! I guess cooks and bakers tend to be abit a of psychic they usually have an insight, what one or the other  love to have as ingredients available in the kitchen that can be used in a dish or dessert. Anyway having heard so much about Ballymaloe Cooking School I told dear hubby if we can make a visit there in the near future heheheheh!!! I have never been to Ireland and hubby had been there before, so it would be nice for him to revisit again with me, now that is a great idea. 8-)

I decided to make the maple toffee pecan tart as per her recipe and I will do it again because it is delicious and so moreish, plus that heavenly scent of maple syrup smell sooooo good, really heavenly. Gee, I wish she was reading this am sure she will be delighted. Anyway I dedicate this page to Rachel Allen for having such lovely recipes in her book and making instructions clear and straightforward. Besides this I have done afew more from her book. Thank you Rachel, it was a real pleasure to have met you that day. Happy  trying peeps!

Maple Toffee Pecan Tart ala Rachel Allen

Ingredients
(for the sweet pastry)
200g plain sifted flour
100g chilled butter, cubed
1 tbsp. icing sugar, sifted
½ to 1 egg, beaten
For the filling
275g shelled pecans, coarsely chopped saving 3 whole nuts for decorating (pecans must be toasted)
250 ml maple syrup
75g light soft brown sugar
150g butter
75ml double or regular cream
Method
For the sweet short crust pastry, cut the butter into little cubes making sure it is cold. (If you live in the tropics like me, I freeze it for abit)
Weigh out the flour, sugar and have the beaten egg ready. Place the flour, sugar and butter in the food processor  and blitz until it forms into breadcrumbs texture. Add the egg a little at the time until you get a nice pliable dough, it should not be too wet nor too dry. ( I did not use all I have a little bit left can be used to seal the holes when baking blind)
Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile make the pecan filling.
When dough is chilled enough, sprinkle abit of flour on the pastry mat or board, roll out the dough in between 2 cling wraps to fit the 23cm loose bottom tart tin. The cling wraps makes it easier to lift the dough onto the tin. (nobody’s perfect not even me!)
Set oven at 175C (every oven is different, mine works at 175C). Prick some holes with a fork on the tart shell this will cook through the pastry evenly. Place a parchment or baking paper on the tart shell filled with dry beans or baking weights weights to hold the pastry down, this prevents it from rising up. (I used any dry beans all the time they can be reused)
Take the beans and baking paper off and brush the pricked holes with eggwash that has been diluted with some water place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so. Once it is lightly browned take it out and set aside while you make the filling.
For the maple toffee filling:
Place the cream, butter, maple syrup and soft light brown sugar in a saucepan. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves and bring it to the boil for about 5 minutes, it will be abit bubbly.
Put the pecans in and mix well. Pour the mixture  into the pre-baked tart shell. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, it will be all bubbly and brown.
Once done, take it out from the oven and set aside to cool before refrigeration or serve it with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
Its chewy caramelized texture is very addictive.  Its as simple as that!
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The Pavlova: pretty, sexy frills of meringue

When I want to make something simple and pretty but makes a beautiful centrepiece to gawk at, I make the pavlova. See those leftover eggwhites, perhaps after baking tons of lapis cakes (layer cakes) or pastry cream, such a waste to throw, make little mini pavs or a large one, eggwhite omelette or steamed eggwhite cakes, etc..etc…plenty options! The pavlova itself to me, is a beautiful, sexy, enticing dessert. Why? I would say watching the frills of the whipped egg whites transforming  into a gorgeous meringue and making little peaks at the side before baking  makes me smile. That is enticing enough for me, what’s more when it has a topping! Then when it is ready and cooled, you cut, displaying the inside that is this soft, luscious, marshmallowy texture. When you close your eyes and bite into it, it’s like this airy, light sugary heaven! The origins of this pavlova is of course simply inspired by the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. I guess it is because of those pretty  frilly tutu ballerina skirts that look like a fluffy meringue that made this dessert popular.

The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the probable source.[2]The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals.

Who would think you’d have a dessert named after you, I would be so greatly honoured. Making pavlova is tricky as well, testing your patience at times. You cannot afford to overbeat the eggwhites as it will produce a soapy foamy- like texture and that’s bust! Believe me its like making macarons. You have to beat the sugar right until you do not feel any grainy texture left, then with a light hand, fold in the vinegar and cornstarch. When it goes into the oven, I like licking off the spatula, like a sugary orgasmic feeling of  eating marshmallow already! There are two recipes that I follow there is one by Donna Hay and one from Joy of Baking. I want to share the one by Donna Hay. Both have been tried and tested and worked really well. Have a great “meringuey” day!

Recipe for Pavlova as follows:

150ml eggwhites (approx 4 eggwhites)
220g (1 cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) sifted
2 tsps white vinegar

For topping there various ways:
250ml single pouring cream ( I did not put pouring cream just pulps from four passionfruits scattered)
250g strawberries hulled ( I used 1 punnet of raspberries) hulled and halved.

Method:
Preheat oven to 150C (300F), place eggwhites in a bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisk until stiff and glossy and that there are no sugary grainy texture. (test by feeling abit between your fingers)
Add the flour and vinegar and whisk until just combined. Alternately you may also fold in whit a spatula but be very light handed please, you do not want to take the air out of the whisked meringue.
Shape the meringue mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper and shape into an 18-20cm round (this will rise believe me!) Reduce the oven to 120C (250F) bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. When done, turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
To make the topping, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form, do note the cream must be very cold. Spread over the pavlova, then top with passionfruit and strawberries. Serves 8.

FoodNote: I did not use cream, therefore only fresh fruit, you can top pavlova according to your fancy. Every oven is different so adjust accordingly. For those who have fan in their ovens please do not use fan when baking pavlova. Just for info I baked mine at 130C-150C.
* You’ll know when the meringue is stiff and glossy because the mixture will have tripled in volume and stands up when the beaters are lifted.

  * The low heat puffs up the meringue while the long cooking time dries it out to give you a lovely crisp shell.

* Store your pavlova, undressed, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. (all adapted from Donna Hay.com.au)

Posted in Desserts | 4 Comments

Crepe Cake Anyone?

There was a time when I was crepe-mad or layer cake mad. Literally wanted to try this mille crepe cake from a website I saw. So many recipes but which one? I saw the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, plus a whole bunch of people were talking about it at one gathering I attended.  Apparently you can get it at a bakery in Malacca too. The name of that shop is Nadeje Patisserie just in case anyone is making a stop in Malacca. Every little bakes and recipes are a challenge to me, when I want to try something new, I will think about it so hard I cannot sleep! B, knows he married a stressed crazy food fanatic.  I admit that I thought that it was difficult to put together but it actual fact it was not too bad. I love crepes all the time. B, loves his crepes with powdered sugar like the Dutch would say pannakoeken met basterd suiker (caster sugar). Heel lekker! Ok so the more websites I surfed and staring at those fluffy,  light crepes layered with pastry cream, ganache or syrup or what have you, just make me gawk and drooled more. So it was abit like making the spice lapis cake just that these are pre-prepared and spread those gorgeous flavours day after. I survived making 10 lapis cakes(layer cakes) for the festive season so this should be a cinch!

Actually I should thank the people who were discussing it  for giving me the inspiration to make and they should watch me eat this rich chocolatey dessert without them having a slice at all! The mille crepe cake originates from Lady M Confections in NYC. That later brought about other confectioneries to start making it as well. It reminds me of the baumkuchen or the Tree Cake, reminding me of the layered cake or “lapis cake” as its popular here in Singapore, just that the baumkuchen is on baked on a spit that goes round and round. There are outlets in Takashimaya and a little bakery in Toa Payoh above the mrt station that sells them and yes baked with that rotating spit! Pretty smaller sized ones I found out at this website: soshiok.com check it out! I remembered when this mille crepe cake was made, our friends from The Netherlands  and Germany , C and H were in town, a lovely couple. They had this for dessert and she made a scrap book page of me with that cake. She gave it to me when we met up in February. My dear you know who you are! It was really special that she took the trouble to put up the photos nicely for me. Thank you, it was much appreciated. Hope we get to meet up again.

My version of this recipe may not be the same as Lady M’s but its Pierre Herme’s chocolate crepe version and I  just omit the chocolate from it and made plain ones. I made 3 batches of it and for me its a challenge to see how many layers I can do ! The thing is the crepes have to be made a day ahead at least and then cool and refrigerated. Another thing is that you have to line every crepe with a piece of greaseproof paper or parchment paper so that they do not stick while cooling. The fun part I like is layering them with chocolate ganache and when you look at it, you feel much pride in yourself. The beautiful part is when you slice it. The thin layers of crepe shows up so beautifully through the chocolate ganache  that it’s a sin to even eat it, I don’t even want to eat it just to admire the result of the painstaking process of making those crepes one at a time and then this! Eating process, divine! If you are a chocolate lover then it is definitely the painstaking but heavenly dessert for you.      

Recipe as follows: Crepe Cake with Chocolate Ganache

For the crepes: adapted from Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Desserts
2/3 cup (95g) all purpose flour
31/2 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder ( I used Valrhona or Cacao Barry but I omitted to make the plain ones)
11/2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature.
1 cup (250g) whole milk preferably at room temperature
3 tbsp beer (I used plain club soda water) room temperature
2 tbsp butter (30g) melted

Method:
1. In a large bowl place flour, and whisk in sugar
2. In another bowl whisk the eggs and milk together just to blend and then the melted butter.
3. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, whisk and blend well until you have a thin batter.
4. When you are ready to cook the crepes, whisk the batter gently just to blend the ingredients if you find the batter too thick add a little milk a tablespoon at a time until you have the right consistency.
5. Heat a crepe pan with a thin layer of oil, I use kitchen paper towel crumpled and spread evenly, place over medium high heat. (Crepe pan measuring 71/2 inch or 8inch)
6.Pour about 3 tbsp of batter ( I used a 1/3 size measuring cup) and swirl so that the batter spreads across evenly. It cooks in a matter of seconds you will see some bubbles and the top turning dull and the bottom should be lightly browned. Use a spatula to lift it up place it on a greaseproof paper, repeat until batter is finished, but for each layer place a greaseproof paper so that they do not stick to each other. Cool until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe – adapted from Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Desserts
8ounces (230g) bittersweet chocolate preferably Valrhona Guanaja finely chopped
1 cup (250g) heavy cream
2 ounces or 60g unsalted butter at room temperature

Method:
1. Place chocolate in a bowl large enough to hild the other ingredients.
2. Bring the cream to a full boil in a saucepan.
3. While the cream is coming to the boil, work the butter with a rubber spatula until its soft and very creamy.
4. When cream is boiling remove from heat and pour slowly into the bowl with chopped chocolate. Start stirring in the center and work your way out in widening concentric circles.
5. Stir until all the chocolate has melted. Cool the mixture down a little, before adding the butter. starting in the centre the same way as you did for the chocolate. Depending on what you are making with the ganache, its ready for use now or you can leave it on counter to a spreadable or pipeable consistency.

To assemble crepe layers, place the crepe in a cake ring or a springform cake pan on a greaseproof paper at the bottom. Spread chocolate ganache evenly and continue with second layer until the crepes are used up. If there are alot of ganache left you may cover the whole crepe cake or u can choose to lighten or make a chocolate sauce to drizzle before serving.

FoodNote: Try and use chocolate with 55%-70% cocoa intensity to have that rich intense chocolate flavour. I used three times the amount as I was making the crepe cake abit high. So I leave that to you as to how much you want to make. Cheers peeps!

                                      

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