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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Coconut Tea Cake - Bundt Pan Giveaway

Coconut Tea 1

Coconut Tea 3

Coconut Tea 2

Coconut Tea Collage

I believe most of us in Singapore are not exactly familiar with the Bundt cake. I myself, have only recently started to become a little familiar with it. Believed to have originated from Germany, the Bundt is usually based on pound cake or coffee/tea cake recipes baked in a special chimney mold known as the Bundt Pan. Good Bundt pans are not readily available in Singapore and the price of heavy cast aluminum pans by Nordic Ware starts from S$99.(US$70) I just couldn't bear to part with a hundred dollars for a baking pan.  Thanks to on-line shopping - I now own 3 bundt pans all bought from on-line shops based in the US. I bought my first pan 3-4 years ago just before my business trip to US. I had it delivered to my colleague and picked it up when I was there(most stores would not deliver outside US). Nowadays, thanks to facilities like vPost Singapore, we can take advantage of the strong Singapore dollar and shop to our heart's content on-line! (very dangerous!)

For avid bakers/cooks, baking/cooking utensils which are either unavailable or ridiculously expensive here are now within reach at good quality on-line stores such as the CSN stores where you can find everything from barstools to cookware.
Back to the Bundt pans. The Bundt pan is characterised by the chimney in the centre of the pan, not unlike the chiffon cake mold. However, unlike the plain chiffon molds, Bundt pans are available in a wide selection of whimsical styles and designs - I am especially partial to designs that allude to Scandinavian or Bavarian motifs e.g. castles, beautiful folds and pleats. With a good quality, beautiful bundt pan, your cake needs no further adornment - my breath is always taken away when I demould my cakes. I made the mistake of buying a silicone mold once and am now packing it away to be donated to The Salvation Army. Though cheaper than the cast aluminum version, the silicone molds just do not brown as beautifully and the motifs often become blurry. As such, I would strongly recommend that one invest in a good heavy cast aluminum pan by Nordic Ware. They are possibly the best Bundt pan specialist, offering the widest range of designs and material. See here to be impressed by the beautiful designs.

Bundt pan

My favourite Bundt pan is a set of mini garland bundt pans. I love the folds and the medieval motifs. Placed directly on the oven rack when baking, the fluted hole allows for good heat circulation to ensure the cake to be evenly baked. I had no problem demoulding the cakes after greasing the molds with Crisco Spray with Pilbury flour. The details of the design was so sharp and prominent on the cake that it looked like a professionally baked gourmet cake... and with this particular pan, I get all my favourite designs with just one bake.

For readers residing in the US or Canada, this beautiful bundt pan can be yours for free, courtesy of CSN. Just leave a comment and I will randomly pick a winner. The giveaway will be opened for a week and will be closed on 1st May 2010 4th May 2010. I will publish the winner on 2nd  5th May.

The recipe I have used today is Dorie Greenspan's Coconut Tea Cake recipe - possibly the most published bundt cake recipe in the blogosphere. Made with grated coconut and coconut milk, this is a soft and moist cake that bakes well and tastes great.

Bundt pan (100)

Recipe : (for more bundt cake inspiration for the Bundt pan, check out Carmen's site)

220g     all-purpose flour
1 tsp     baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup    unsweetened coconut milk (stir well before measuring)
113g     unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4           large eggs, preferably at room temperature
400g     sugar
1 tsp     vanilla extract
2 tsp     dark rum (optional, but so good)
3/4 cup grated coconut (unsweetened or sweetened).

Method :

Preheat oven to 165C  Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the inner tube.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan, add the butter and heat until the milk is hot and the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, but keep warm.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until pale, thick and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the rum, if you’re using it. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and stopping just when the flour disappears.

Keeping the mixer on low, add the coconut, mixing only until it is blended, then steadily add the hot milk and butter. When the mixture is smooth, stop mixing and give the batter a couple of turns with a rubber spatula, just to make certain that any dry ingredients that might have fallen to the bottom of the bowl are incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan and give the pan a few back-and-forth shakes to even the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature.

The above portion will yield roughly 2 trays of bundt cake using this garland bundt mold.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strawberry Cream Jelly ストロベリ クリーム ジェリー


Strawberries 4


Strawberry Jelly 6

Strawberry Jelly5

Strawberry Jelly 4

My photos don't do justice to these berries but when you have strawberries this beautiful, it is almost a sacrilege to cook or bake with them - unless you have loads of them sitting around. Plenty of these, I have not. I bought my 2 precious punnets in Japan 2 days ago for a fraction of the price I would need to pay for similar superior grades here in Singapore. Each perfect heart-shaped fruit beckons with its jewel-like ruby red colour. These fruits are totally in a league of their own - far from the sickly, dull coloured and odd-shaped versions we get at our neighbourhood supermarkets. The only place one can find beautiful strawberries here in Singapore would be at the Japanese supermarkets which air-lift these precious fruits every year and sell them at a hefty price.
I have always associated the 'sweet bubble gum' strawberry flavour you get in strawberry candies, milk, juice etc with 'fake' articifical flavourings created by food chemists in the lab - that is until today, when I tasted these wonderful Japanese strawberries that I realised that such sweet candy like flavour does exist in the real strawberry fruit.

It is hard not to yield to the temptation to make something with these fruits. Hence in order to stay true to the original flavour of the strawberry fuits, I decided to make a cold dessert and aside from good champagne, I guess the next best pairing for strawberries would be cream. In Japan, where you find strawberries, you would almost always find tubes of condensed milk placed beside them. Hence, I decided to make a soft pudding like Strawberry Cream Jelly.

Strawberry Jelly 2

I had used a little more gelatine because I had wanted to get a firmer pudding so that it would demould and photograph better, otherwise, the gelatine quantity can be reduced (1gram less) to get more smoother and creamy texture. How was the taste? Delicious with a capital 'D' - and I humbly attribute the beautiful taste to the strawberries - I cannot take any credit for these.

Strawberry Jelly (100)


Pink Layer
Strawberry Puree         100g
Sugar                           25g
Lemon Juice                 1 tsp
Gelatine powder           3.5g (for more creamy texture, use 2.5g)
Warm Water                1 tbsp
Milk                             80ml

White Layer
Milk                              200ml
Condensed Milk            2 tbsp
Sugar                            1 tbsp
Gelatine powder            6g (for more creamy texture, use 5g)
Hot water                      2 tbsp
Vanilla extract                1/2 tsp

Pink Layer
1.  Mix gelatine with hot water until transparent. Set aside.
2. Add strawberry puree,sugar, lemon juice into a saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Add milk and heat into just before boiling.
3. Add (1)
4. Pour into mold and set until firm.

White Layer
1. Mix gelatine with hot water until transparent. Set aside.
2. Add milk, condensed milk and sugar into a saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Add vanilla extract. Heat until just before boiling.
3. Add (1)
4. Cool mixture down to 40C before pouring over set pink layer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Macrobiotic Experience In Korea

Green Bean Porridge

Bronze Utentils


Dish 2

Dish 6

Dish 5


One of the problems of traveling for business is the tendency to over eat and to eat unhealthily. I have tried my best to eat in small portions throughout this trip in Korea and I am still nursing my disappointment over my colleague's choice of a family seafood buffet dinner the night before. It was a place where one goes for quantity than quality. Food was at best mediocre and I watched in resignation as my colleague happily devoured plates after plates of cold crabs.

Hence, when my ex-colleague,who is now my customer, told me he was going to take me to an impressive restaurant, I couldn't contain my curiosity. Perched on a steep little hill in the outskirts of Daegu, the restaurant has a little farming patch behind the main building where it grows its own vegetables. To the side of the restaurant laid huge urns of preserved kimchi.

The restaurant exudes an air of raw simplicity which was extremely calming. I must say I was a little apprehensive about the type of food they were going to serve, worrying that I would be eating tasteless bark-like food.

The first dish was a green bean porridge with a mild comforting taste. The next dish was a colourful plate of various roots and stem cut to the finest shreds. Eaten with the colourful pancakes pigmented with natural vegetable colour and flavoured with the Yuzu dressing in the center of the plate, this dish is refreshingly uplifting - instantly instilling in a sense of general well being.

The next dish is  bamboo shoot tossed in a flavourful sweet spicy sauce. Do not be fooled by the intense colour of sauce, it actually tastes quite mild. Nothing on the table tastes over-powering. Tastes are mild but the elegant subtle flavours will not escape you.

I especially like the next dish which is a salad dish dressed with a fruity vinaigette. Accompanied with crisp  nashi pears and topped with dried persimmons, I never dreamt that salad can taste so good.

The cabbage did not leave a deep impression with me but in-line with the rest of the dishes, it was subtlely flavoured allowing the natural sweetness of the cabbage to manifest.

What I have shown above are only the starters and the portion in the photos were meant for 2 person. I did not take pictures of the main dish as I was busy eating. The main dish was a very beautifully charcoal grilled fish, seasoned just right with Chinese herb infused sea salt and served with fluffy brown rice. (yes, brown rice can be fluffy)

I am in awe at the way they have managed to accentuate the natural flavours of the vegetables with equally natural and healthy seasoning. Without fuss, without gimmick, this meal is totally unforgetable. It has made me curious about Macrobiotic food and I will definitely find out more about this interesting lifestyle.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cheese Biscuit Sticks

Cheese Sticks 1

Cheese sticks 1

Cheese Sticks 3

Cheese Sticks 7
There are not many baking specialty stores in Singapore where we can go for our baking supplies. Most stock very mundane and uninteresting merchandise that fails to fulfill and excite avid bakers. As a result of which, shops like Shermay's which manage to move in to fill the gap in this need, quickly become popular. However, the lack of competition also means that we often have to pay hefty prices for e.g. that bottle of Nielsen Massey Vanilla extract or the covetable Microplane grater/graters (honestly the Ferrari of all graters) . Phoon Huat and Sun Lik are 2 shops which have served avid Singapore home bakers quite faithfully for a long time. They stock some of the less fancy merchandises and ingredients but have also started to offer some more interesting quality products  e.g. Sun Lik actually stocks the basic range of Valrohna chocolates and french butter.

It was while I was browsing at Sun Lik last weekend that I came across some old fashioned kitchen tools for traditional treats. I loved the rickety Aluminum pancake press used to make Love Letters and I was strangely moved when I played with it... thinking to myself that surely I would have to get one of these before the art dies off.... I found myself  picking up little knick knacks from the shelf and asking the lady at the counter, "what is this for?" ...   This multiple joint cookie cutter was one of the gadgets I picked up for enquiry.
"Cheese Biscuits"  - she said. Then, memory came flooding back - oh yes, I remember those short cheese crackers I used to eat.  At that point, I was hooked and obsessed - I must try to make cheese biscuits with these. Ideally, I would like to make a Ritz cracker like biscuit with these cutter but I just couldn't find a recipe for Ritz Cracker - well if there is anyone out there who knows, please do share.

What I did find on Tastespotting is this equally tempting snack published by One Perfect Bite. Known as the Australian Buster, it is really a cheesy, buttery and flavourful cheese biscuit snack eaten e.g. with a salad.
I like it that you can play with it by using different types of cheese, herbs and spices. The combo is unlimited and I can attest that this will be a great crowd pleaser as a party snack.

Cheese Sticks 5

Cheese Sticks 7(100)

Recipe From One Perfect Bite (Please see here for the original scrumptious snack)
8 tablespoons/ 113g  butter, cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 cups/220g  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, loosely packed (I used 2 cups of shredded Parmesan)
6 to 7 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I added some dried chives instead)


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set a side.
2) Place the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter. Rub butter into flour with tips of fingers until particles are very small. Still using your fingers, mix in the cheese. Stir in water and cayenne pepper with a fork. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch rounds and place on baking sheet. (I cut using my new cheese biscuit cutter) Collect and re-roll scraps as required. Prick each biscuit 10 times with times of a sharp fork. (As my sticks are small, I did not prick)
3) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Yield: 16 biscuits.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tender Shortbread

Shortbread 7

Shortbread 8

Shortbread 3

Shortbread 1

When I saw the headlines -The Last Shortbread Recipe You'll Ever Need by The Cookbook Chronicles popping up in my follow list, I knew I had to check it out. When I saw the photos, I was sold!
Shortbread has always been one of my favourite English Tea items. I had my first shortbread finger that came in one of those scottish plaid packing many many years ago. I remember getting hooked to the buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture of this cookie. It was not a common item then, it was available, I believe only in fine supermarkets and priced more expensive than the usual biscuits and cookies. As the years go by, these became more accessible and Marks & Spencer has since been the place where I stop by when I crave for shortbread.

True to Lorna's promise, this is a super tender and crumbly recipe that simply melts in your mouth. The original recipe, published in Chicago Time Out calls out to start with butter softened to the consistency of whipped cream - rather unsual for a shortbread recipe - most of which starts out with cubed, firm butter. As a result , the dough was rather pasty (especially in the warm Singapore weather and could not be rolled.) I could have stuck it in the chiller to firm it up a little before laying it out in the pan but I did not. There was no way to cut or shape the dough prior to baking. Hence, I just followed the instructions and cut it after it was baked. Unfortunately, my shortbread didn't turn out pretty like Lorna's but it sure tasted out of this world. I can easily believe that this possibly the last shortbread recipe you will ever need. What I would do a little differently the next time, I would try to use cubed butter and see if I would have a better chance of shaping it more nicely.

Shortbread 4

Recipe ( replicated from Chicago Time Out)

510 g (about 39 tbsp, or 4¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened to the consistency of whipped cream
1 tsp sea salt
140 g (about ¾ cup) granulated sugar, plus about ½ cup more for tops of cookies
510 g (about 4½ cups) all-purpose flour
150 g (about 1 cup, plus 1 tbsp) cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 175C. Generously butter a 15-by-10-inch sheet pan.
2. Combine the butter, salt and sugar in an electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until the butter is very creamy, has lightened in color and increased in volume (four to six minutes). Stop the mixer.
3. Sift together the flour and cornstarch and add to the butter mixture. Mix just until a dough forms, about 30 seconds. (If any dry ingredients are still visible, mix by hand until just incorporated.)
4. Press the dough evenly into the sheet pan with your fingertips (it should fill the pan but not rise above the rim). Bake until medium golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool the cookies on a cooling rack until just warm to the touch. Sprinkle the top with a generous and even layer of granulated sugar. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for one hour.
5. When cookies are thoroughly chilled, cut into small rectangles. Let cookies return to room temperature before serving

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lemon Custard & Short Bread Slice

Lemon Slice 4

Lemone Slice 9

Lemon Slice 11

When you spend money to go for classes, you want to make sure you get the full value out of it - otherwise, you may as well just laze in your couch and watch the Food Channels on TV. Joycelyn's recent class on Fabulous Fruit Desserts, came with a generous pack of 11 recipes out of which she demonstrated 4 of them in class. I must say that I have been extremely good this time - for out of the 4 demonstrated recipes, I have tried to do 3 - including today's Lemon Custard Short Bread slice.

Joycelyn had made hers into bars and you can see her lovely photos here. I had chosen to work with a smaller portion, keeping the lemon custard layer less generous than hers - for a couple of reasons :

1. This is a lemon custard recipe with a mega acidity jolt. It's acidity is not for the lemon faint hearted.
2. I was working with a shallower pie pan.

A few more words on the tartness of this dessert.... I have a really high tolerance for tartness and acidity. I usually prefer my citrus fruits to be a little sour. Having said that, this Lemon slice really manages to deliver a fulfilling kick for me. For those who are less tolerant to sourness, you will be squinting your eyes when you bite into this. The tasting sample handed out in class tasted a little bit too eggy, in my opinion so when I worked on this recipe, I reduced the amount of egg yolk and am really happy with the taste. Though colour looks a little paler compared to Joycelyn's sunny yellow bars...
The base used is not the usual sweet tart pastry but a buttery short bread crust which offers an interesting soft crumbly contrast to the lemon custard.

This, would be another recipe for keeps.

Since I have modified the Lemon Custard, I will publish the recipe for the custard only.

Lemon Slice 4 (100)

Recipe for Lemon Custard

23g               Plain Flour
150g             Castor Sugar
95g               Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2                   Large eggs
Salt               Pinch


1. In a mixing bowl, sift flour and add sugar. Whisk lightly to combine.
2. Add Lemon zest and Lemon juice while whisking lightly to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and salt to combine. Do not beat until frothy.
4. Add beaten egg to (2).  Whisk lightly to combine.
5. Pour onto hot base crust and bake at 150C for 15mins.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dorayaki 銅鑼焼き - Doraemon's Favourite Japanese Snack

Dorayaki 5

Dorayaki Collage


I grew up with Doraemon Manga (Japanese comics). I would scour the library for those flimsy copies of Chinese publications. They cost about 50 cents per copy when I was in primary school. Doraemon (ドラえもん) is one of my favourite Japanese cartoon character - possibly a close second to Chibi Maruko (樱桃小丸子).  For those who are not familiar, Doraemon is a Japanese manga series written by Hiroshi Fujimoto. The key character of the same name is a futuristic robotic cat entrusted to chaperone the lazy 'protagonist' of the series,Nobita.

I remember waiting eagerly for every new instalment of the series, curious to see what new futuristic gadgets the ear-less blue cat will pull out of his little front pocket. The series is still running today and I hope it will never end!
Doraemon fans out there will know that Doraemon's favourite snack is a Japanese Bean Paste Pancake sandwich known as, what else but Dorayaki!
The pancake takes the form of a Dora, (铜锣) which is a gong-like(cymbal like) instrument. Seemingly simple to make, it is, but a nightmare for a perfectionist. You would want your pancakes to turn out evenly and beautifully browned to just the right shade of brown - not too black and not too light. Then, you want them to be all of the same size. The former entails super precise heat control. Too hot and you get a blackish brown, too low, it ends up with a pale brown blush. What you really want to achieve, is a almost rich chocolately brown. With the professional steel hot plate and professional recipe, you get an almost deep mahogany shade. See how they do it here :


To be quite honest, I don't even really like to eat Dorayaki but it seems like a fun thing to experiment in the kitchen.I followed Keiko Ishida's recipe published in her Japanese Kitchen. Results are decent enough but I had to do quite a few pancakes to get a few relatively 'photogenic' ones. Given that I am not that crazy over the treat, I don't suppose I will make this again. This one's for Doraemon!

Dorayaki 4


Plain flour                100g
Baking powder        1/2 tsp
Eggs                        2
Castor sugar            90g
Honey                     1tbsp
Mirin                       1tbsp
Water                      2tbsp


1. Sift flour and baking together twice.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with sugar with a whisk until egg mixture turns pale and thickens.
3. Add Honey, Mirin and water to the foamed egg.
4. Fold  (1) carefully into the egg.
5. Set batter aside for 30mins.
6. In an oiled griddle/ non-stick frying pan, add 3 tbsp of batter and swirl pan to get a round 8cm circle.
7. Control heat carefully to just brown the underside of the pan cake.
8. Turn pancake over and pan-fry other side for a few seconds until brown.
9. Remove pancake and repeat until all batter is used up. Makes about 16 pancakes.
10. Top half the pancakes , with a portion of red bean paste. (I made this myself but this can be bought easily from Japanese supermarkets.) Sandwich with remaining pancakes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Coconut Mango Jelly - Wun Mamuang

Jelly 5


Mango Collage


Sometimes, we forget how good we've had it. When you are surrounded by abundance, you start to take things for granted. It's the Mango season now and the fruits are getting cheaper by the day! We are lucky that lucsious fruits like these are accessible to and affordable for most of us here in Singapore. Indeed, we should be thankful that  a very significant portion of the population in Singapore gets to live a dignified life and enjoy quality living that many others can only look on with envy.

Mangoes and Water Melon - fruits we take so much for granted - always remind me of my colleagues in Korea. I remember how suprised I was when they first told me, how having fruits as an after meal snack is a luxury which only the rich can afford. A watermelon, during summer season in Korea costs about US$10, it gets to a whopping US$40 per water melon during the winter season. Hence, whenever I travel with my Korean colleague in SE Asia, they would always slurp up  water melon juice and fruits during breakfast and meals. I still recall how a kind Indonesian customer once took pity and bought 2 huge watermelons for $0,.50 and presented them to my colleague. It was a hilarious moment, we had to express our profuse thanks but inwardly, we were groaning with dread at the prospect of lugging the 2 huge watermelons with us. In the end, my colleague left the watermelons in his hotel room with a note telling the room service maid to help herself to them.
I had also taken to 'smuggle' fresh mangoes into Korea when I go there for business. I wrap them up in newspaper and load up my check-in luggage with them. Of course, if I get caught at the customs, they would become a treat for the customs officers ... though I have never wondered if I would be fined or detained.... I am pretty gungho in that sense.

Yesterday, I was at the market and saw these fat juicy Thai Mangoes going at S$2 (~USD1.4) for 3. I bought a whole bunch of them and am having a blast slurping them up for snacks. It is only natural that I would make something out of them for my blog and I have chosen to make this simple jelly from a little cookbook I have on Thai Cakes and Desserts. A double layer jelly solidified with Agar powder, the lower layer is fragrant with mango puree and coconut cream. A layer of sliced mangoes is then sandwiched between a top layer of mango puree jelly and the coconut jelly.


A quick note on my little blunder. I had cooled down the coconut jelly too much before mixing in the mango puree. As a result of which little white specks of the coconut jelly becomes visible. Otherwise, this should be a homogenous yellow layer.


Bottom Layer
1 tbsp               Unflavoured agar-agar powder
375ml               Water
50g                   sugar
250ml               Thick coconut milk
250ml               Mango puree

Top Layer
1/2 tbsp             Unflavoured agar-agar powder
375ml                Water
2 tbsp                 Pandan essence
60ml                  Mango Puree
Pinch                 Salt


1. Make bottom layer first by bringing agar agar powder, water, sugar and coconut milk slowly to boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Remove and set aside to cool. When it has cooled halfway, stir in the mango puree. Pour the mixture into a cake pan so that it is no more than 3/4 full. Chill in the fridge for 20mins until set.

2. While the bottom layer is chilling, make the Top Layer by bringing the agar gar powder, sugar, water and pandan essence to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Add the pinch of sale, and mix well. Stir in the mango puree.

3. Arrange mango slices on top of the Bottom layer and pour the Top layer over. (note : avoid the 2 layers to delaminate after set by pouring hot Top layer over the cool bottom layer.) Chill to set in the fridge for 40mins.

4. Slice jelly into serving portions and serve chilled.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Banana Cupcake and My New Astier de Villatte

Banana Cupcake 8

Banana cupcake9Cup5


Banana Muffin

Banana Cupcake3

I think I have good taste.. and expensive ones too. I have an irrational weakness for beautiful things. The only thing that keeps me in check is the limited space I have in my apartment for them. I have to be very careful not to over clutter my space otherwise, all beauty would just become part of a garage dump. Sometimes, when I still have not lost all ability to rationalise, I would pep talk myself : there are so many beautiful things in the world, do you really think you can buy and own all of them?

Rational, I was not when I saw the collection of Astier de Villatte ceramics at the uber cool Strangelets. Blame it on my business appointment at Telok Ayer Street, which led me to the discovery of this lovely shop. They have a covetable selection of curio collectables for home styling- all gorgeous and almost all expensive...sigh. I knew I was in trouble when my eyes fell on the Ceramics. A Parisian brand ,their hand made white glazed terracotta tableware has a strong cult following. I like the way the simple white glaze lends a rustic romantic balance to the what could otherwise be a fussy and opulent baroque design. I left the shop with a side plate and a little coffee cup. I fear, I fear that I will go back again and again for more...

Eager to show off my new tableware, I decided to bake the Banana cupcake from Joycelyn's class last weekend. Possibly the best Banana cake I have ever tasted - richly soft , explosively fragrant with the sweet aroma of very ripe bananas - you have to be around when it is baking in the oven. I guarantee you will have your neighbour sniffing their way to your kitchen.

It will not be right for me to publish the recipe here - but I can share that there is a load of bananas in this recipe. When you have more (and I mean a lot more) bananas than flour and butter, you can imagine how soft and sweet the cake would turn out to be. And what better way to dress up the humble banana cup cake than little bundt molds - so old world and so compatible with my new prized acquisition.

I will have no problem baking this over and over again - just need to watch my waistline and those treacherous things known as cellulite!


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