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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Murasaki Imo Chiffon

I had originally wanted to do a new posting on Chwee Kuey when I chanced upon Happy Home Baker’s blog the other day and decided to put that on hold. What distracted me was her prolific collection of chiffon cake posts. For I, too at one time, was fixated with chiffon cake, the fluffy, cottony and moist cake that is difficult not to like.

Despite its ethereal quality, I do find that friends around me are painfully naive about the chiffon cake. There are many who still think that chiffon cake is the pandan chiffon cake at Bengawan Solo. They are not aware that chiffon is a genre by itself in the bakery world. The most hilarious response I’ve had was when I brought an orange chiffon cake to the office and my colleague asked me with a confused expression why the cake was not green. Similarly,when I brought my chiffon cake recipe with me on a holiday trip to the US last year, my colleague’s wife, who is an avid baker, was in awe, for she had never tasted a cake of such lightness. To a certain extent, I can understand the lesser awareness for the cake. Indeed, when compared to the uber versatile sponge, the rich, hearty butter cake or the decadent cheese cake, we do get fewer variations with the chiffon cake. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that, it almost always has to be baked in a chimney baking pan.

The best documentation on Chiffon cake I have seen is done by the Japanese. It was also in Japan many many years ago that I had my first meaningful slice of chiffon cake. It was in a quaint little coffee shop in Shibuya area. The baristar would prepare the cuppucinno with whipped cream topped with orange peel instead of the usual foamed milk. The only cake they served with the amazing coffee was chiffon cake. The flavours included, Kuromitsu (black sugar syrup), matcha and coffee. Their chiffon cake, kept in individual cake holders in the fridge were, tall ,regal and frosted with white whipped cream. They looked so different from our Pandan Chiffon cake which are often short, wide and squashed when sliced. It was a simple cake with a totally subtle and refined taste. This was a far cry from the heavy, rich and overly sweet cakes that we usually get from the west. Till this day, whenever I am back in Tokyo, I would still make a sentimental pilgrimage to the coffee shop in Shibuya.

I was delighted to find in Happy Home Baker, another Chiffon Cake lover. I myself, only started baking chiffon cake less than a year ago. My reference at that time, was a Chinese Translated Japanese cookbook wholly dedicated to Chiffon Cake (you only get this degree of focus with the Japanese). The book, 超Q润戚风by 赤崛博美 was full of step by step details and theories. I would bake a chiffon cake everyday until I became so used to the routine that I could whip up a cake in 15mins.(baking time excluded). I played with the recipes, intent to achieve the right texture and moistness. So, by the time, when I saw Keiko Ishida’s Chiffon Cake recipe at her baking class, I was able to pick out the subtle differences and tricks she used in her recipe.

So, here I am, feeling lured again to take out my chiffon cake pan from my cupboard. Here is a new flavour which I have not tried before, Murasaki Imo (purple sweet potato). However, I also made the regrettable decision to try my hand at frosting, which turned out to be a disaster. I totally destroyed the cake and now I am too ashamed to serve it. I am not one of meticulous disposition and am now grappling with myself if I should give up frosting for good and just stick with basic fare or I should keep trying…

Frosting... a disaster....
Recipe :Murasaki Imo Chiffon

Egg White 110g
Castor Sugar 55g

Egg Yolk Base
Egg Yolk 40g
Water 50g
Canola Oil 40g
Lemon Juice 7g
Imo 54g (steamed and mashed)
Flour 50g
Castor Sugar 10g
Imo 70g (steamed and cut into small cubes)

Cream For Decoration
Fresh Cream 110g
Sugar 10g

Method :

1. Whisk egg till foamy and add sugar in 3 additions.
2. Whisk until egg white stiff but not hard.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolk with mashed Imo. Add in water, Lemon juice and oil. Whisk well to emulsify the oil.
4. Fold in sifted flour. Fold until flour is well incorporated into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in sugar.
5. Fold in Meringue carefully. Fold in Imo cubes.
6. Pour batter into 17cm chiffon cake tin.
7. Bake the cake at 160C for 35mins.
8. Remove cake from oven and invert the pan to cool.
9. The cake should be demoulded only when it is completely cool. I leave it for at least half a day.
10. Demould cake and frost with whipped cream. (whip fresh cream with sugar)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blog Debut: Steamed Tapioca Cake (Ubi Kayu)

I didn’t get to know the wonderful world of food blogging until almost 2 years ago when I signed up for a Christmas Cupcake class at Shermay’s Cooking School. The chef instructor was none other than Kuidaore’s Joycelyn Shu and I am sure all avid bakers and blog regulars would attest to the sheer indulgence and awe-inspiring experience of lingering over her postings, the amazing photography and the equally amazing sweet concoctions. Two years and many hours of pottering around in my kitchen later, I finally decided that it would be fun to start writing and sharing the moments I spend in the kitchen. I am not sure if I would be disciplined and passionate enough to update this regularly but I do know, I always couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen even when I am still on my return flight from my business trips.

I also felt that this would probably be a good moment to start because lately, I have been absolutely obsessed with Kuehs, those definitive bite sized snacks so unique to the Malay Archipelago…and a little beyond.

It was while poring over Forest Leong’s cookbook, “Cooking Classics, Thailand” that I came across the recipe for steamed Tapioca Cake. This is a rather common Kueh in SE Asia. It is the familiar steamed Ubi Kayu to the Malays, the comforting Chiu Zi Kueh to the Chinese. It was simple enough and I just wanted to make sure that I could get the texture right – tender and light.

Forest’s cookbook is comprehensive and easy to replicate in the kitchen. I’ve had good success with her Pineapple Fried Rice and her Lemon Grass Roasted Chicken. Her instructions are very clear but I had to do some guessing when I came to her Steamed Tapioca Cake recipe. All ingredients quantity were well documented except for the Tapioca (Cassava root) itself. The recipe called for 1 medium Tapioca. Until then, I had never bought a Tapioca before and had trouble with the definition of a medium sized Tapioca. I took my chance and picked out what I thought was a mid sized root among the pitiful Tapioca collection at the wet market. (Didn’t know Tapioca can be so scarce nowadays, out of the 3 vegetable stalls at the market, only one would sell Tapioca) Needless to say, my first attempt did not turn out well. It was too soft and mushy. Apparently my medium sized Tapioca was too small. However, being the good chemist I used to be, I had the sense to take note of the weight of the grated Tapioca. I cross-referenced another similar recipe which specified the weight of the grated tapioca to be used but it didn’t call for any water in the recipe. It turned out a little tough for my liking but not unlike what we sometimes get from the market. Edible but I still decided to throw out the batch. The final batch was the result of tweaking the parameters from the first 2 trials. What turned out was soft and light, with a hint of Jasmine as recommended in Forest’s recipe.

Feedback from tasters in my neighbourhood
- Soft and light;
- Fine, non-fibrous;
- Subtle fragrance of Jasmine refines the experience further.

I will be giving out the recipes to the aunties in the neighbourhood so here goes:

Ingredients :

Tapioca 200g (weight of grated and squeeze dried tapioca)
Sugar 50g
Water 60ml
Red colouring 2 drops
Jasmine Essence 2 drops

Fresh Grated coconut 150g (can be bought freshly grated from wet market or get it from NTUC, Heng Guan Brand)
Pinch of salt
A few blades of Pandan Leave

1. Grate tapioca with a fine grater. Wash grated tapioca under running water to remove excess starch. Scoop up the grated tapioca,squeeze dry and place in a mixing bowl.The weight of the squeeze dried grated tapioca should be 200g.

2. Mix sugar, water, colouring and jasmine essence with the grated tapioca. Mix well and pour mixture into a deep tray for steaming.

3. Steam over boiling water for 30-35mins. Cool down completely.

4. Steam grated coconut with salt and pandan leaf for 5-10mins. Cool down completely.

5. Cut the steamed Tapioca cake into bite size pieces. Roll the bite size pieces in cooled grated coconut to evenly coat it with grated coconut.

So there, my first posting.... possibly more Kuehs to come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

About Kokken69

My Kitchen

Køkken : Kitchen (Danish)

Hello, I am Shirley and welcome to Køkken69 where I document what I do in my kitchen. I enjoy baking and cooking. A chemist by training, I tend to draw upon my lab experiences and apply them to my cooking adventures. I have a strong weakness for every covetable kitchen gadget and colourful recipe books. My next driver to move would be a bigger kitchen- I can already picture it vividly in my mind.It is interesting how one's priority tends to shift as one moves on in life. When I was about to move into my first home 5 years ago, the focus of my excitement was on my bathroom. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look. This time round, my kitchen will take center stage and it is a wretched thing for it will make a typically expensive room within a house even more expensive to set up.

As expensive as it may get to be, I am not willing to compromise as I know it will be put to many good use. So till I find my next dream home, I will continue to play masak masak in my current kitchen... (above)

Features :

Bamboo Charcoal Swiss Roll - Featured in The Kitchn

Blueberry Chiffon Cake - Featured in NYTimes


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