24 May 2013

M&M Cookies - comparison of 2 recipes

Hosted a gathering for my Uni/Hall friends and their families today, with a baking session for the kids and it was a blast! This was the second time I hosted a kids baking session, the last one was a month ago for my Sec/JC friends. Really had a fun time baking with the kids, maybe this is my calling?? Well, sometime for me to ponder in the long run...

Anyways, when I started planning for this session, I couldn't decide which recipes to choose. The previous session I had blueberry yogurt muffins and Danish Butter Cookies, which were quite well received by the kids (about 5-6 kids). But this time round, there were 13-14 kids! Since there's equipment constraints due to the large number, I had to select something easy to manage and engaging for the kids.

Decided to stick to blueberry yogurt muffins as the recipe is easy to handle, without the need for electric mixer, and is quite a healthy recipe. As for the cookies, decide to go for M&M cookies! Well, all kids love M&M, don't they? Searched the internet for recipes and came across 2 recipes - one by Small Small Baker, and another by Joy of Baking. The 2 recipes use slightly different base ingredients; most noticeable is Small Small Baker uses Cake Flour and baking powder, whereas Joy of Baking uses Plain Flour (All Purpose Flour) and baking soda. I'm quite curious because usually plain flour is used for cookies instead of cake flour, same goes for baking powder vs baking soda.

Naturally I have to test bake both recipes to find out how the end product would turn out. In the end, I prefer the recipe by Joy of Baking even though the recipe by Small Small Baker is simpler with fewer ingredients. (No offence to both bakers for the comparison).

Comparison of ingredients:
Joy of Baking - more complex with more fat and sugar. Uses plain flour, baking soda, salt, unsalted butter, caster sugar and light brown sugar, 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, vanilla extract.
Small Small Baker - very simple, less fat and sugar. Uses cake flour, baking powder, unsalted butter, caster sugar, 2 full eggs.

Comparison of texture and taste:
Joy of Baking - Dough wetter, spreads when baking. More crispy and light/refine texture. Taste richer, more fragrant (due to light brown sugar).
Small Small Baker - dough dryer, doesn't spread much when baking. More crunchy and rough texture. Taste flatter, less fragrant.

M&M Cookies I
(recipe from Small Small Baker)

  • 200g cake flour
  • 4g baking powder
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg (about 60g with shell)
  • M&M chocolate
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  2. Sift cake flour and baking powder and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy (in an electric mixer or hand mixer).
  4. Add the egg and mix well.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder mixture gradually until just mixed.
  6. Fold the batter to form a dough. Transfer dough to fridge to chill for about 30 mins.
  7. Using a spoon, scoop a small ball of dough, roll into ball shape and place on parchment/baking paper.
  8. Flatten the ball slightly and press in the M&Ms.
  9. Bake at 180 degree celsius for 12-15 minutes (depending on size of dough).
  10. When ready, let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to airtight container.

M&M Cookies II
(recipe from Joy of Baking)

  • 260g plain flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar (original 130g)
  • 70g light brown sugar (original 140g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • M&M Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  2. Sift plain flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and both sugars till light and fluffy (in an electric mixer or hand mixer).
  4. Add the eggs and mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients gradually until just mixed.
  6. Fold the batter to form a dough. Transfer dough to fridge to chill for about 30 mins.
  7. Using a spoon, scoop a small ball of dough, roll into ball shape and place on parchment/baking paper.
  8. Flatten the ball slightly and press in the M&Ms.
  9. Bake at 180 degree celsius for 12-15 minutes (depending on size of dough).
  10. When ready, let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to airtight container.

19 May 2013

Sakura Matcha Chiffon

Finally I baked my Sakura Matcha Chiffon! Been wanting to bake this since last month, after my return from Nagoya, where I bought a packet of early spring green tea powder and pickled sakura flower.

The recipe is from Junko Fukuda's Chiffon Cake Book 福田淳子, 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手. Many home bakers seem to have this book and everyone raved about how good the chiffon recipes are, in their blogs, so I also bought a copy recently :)

The book has separate recipes for Sakura Chiffon and Matcha Chiffon. Since I didn't have Sakura leaf powder, I just use the Matcha Chiffon recipe top with some pickled sakura, like what Cuisine Paradise did.

The book also provides proportions of ingredients for both 17cm chiffon pan and 20 cm chiffon pan; I opted for the latter.

But I found the batter quantity too much for a 20cm pan. Usually I will fill the batter to about 2/3 full, otherwise the cake will rise too high and then have massive cracks (this situation happened to me a few times when I tried to fill the pan to 3/4). So for the remaining batter, I used a petite chiffon pan and 3 square paper cups.

Another intriguing thing is the recipe does not call for Cream of Tartar which is typically used to stabilise beaten egg whites. So I wonder if the chiffon would turn out as fluffy and tender as expected?

 This is the early spring green tea (first pick green tea) and pickled cherry blossom.

Strictly speaking, this is not really matcha since the green tea is not finely grinded into powder. This is just extra fine tea leaves? The taste is pretty raw, like grass actually, and I thought it might be interesting to use this for the chiffon instead of pure matcha.

Indeed, the chiffon didn't turn out to be deep homogenous green like the typical Matcha Chiffon. Mine is more like speckled greens all around. LOL. But the fragrance of the green tea is prominent and that is the key.

And even though there's no egg white stabilising agent, the chiffon still turned out very tender, moist and most importantly cottony soft! The pickled sakura added a tinge of saltiness to the otherwise sweet cake and I thought it was quite a nice touch.

 This is the petite matcha chiffon without the sakura.

The matcha chiffon cupcake.

All in all, Junko's recipe is indeed very good and I'm all for trying out the rest of her recipes!

Sakura Matcha Chiffon Cake
Recipe from  Junko Fukuda's Chiffon Cake Book 福田淳子, 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手
Makes 1 x 20cm chiffon pan, 1 x 10cm chiffon pan and 3 cupcakes

  • 130g cake flour (I use Japanese Nissen Violet flour)
  • 15g matcha powder (I use early spring green tea powder)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 80g oil (neutral tasting like canola or grapeseed, don't use olive oil)
  • 95g water
  • 130g caster sugar (I use Japanese sugar)
  • 7 egg whites
  • Some pickled sakura
  1. Preheat oven at 180 degree Celsius, conventional mode.
  2. Soak some pickled sakura in water for 30 mins. Pat dry and lay at bottom of chiffon pan. Set aside.
  3. Sift the cake flour and green tea powder twice, and set aside.
  4. Mix together egg yolks, oil, water and 1/3 caster sugar, until well-blended.
  5. Gradually stir in the sifted flour mixture and fold gently until blended. Set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites till foamy. Gradually add in the remaining sugar and beat on high speed till stiff peak.
  7. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter (3) until just blended. Next, fold in half of the remaining egg white mixture until just blended. Finally pour the batter back into the mixing bowl containing the remaining 1/3 of the egg white mixture. Fold gently till just blended.
  8. Pour the batter into the chiffon pan, and bake at 180 degree Celsius for 40 mins.
  9. After 40 mins, turn the pan upside down and let completely cool before removing the cake from the pan.
* For the 10-cm pan and cupcakes, bake for about 20-25 mins.


I made this green tea chiffon for a dear friend's birthday. To make it look prettier and more presentable as a birthday cake, I frost the chiffon with some pink tinted whipped cream and decorate with the pickled sakura on top of the frosting.

14 May 2013

2 more rainbow cakes!

Wow, it seems as if I've been baking lots of Rainbow Cake recently? Well, not a lot lah, just 2 orders. One for E's son's 2nd birthday and another for E's friend's daughter's 11th birthday. Ok, what a mouthful.

Anyway, practice makes perfect and making Rainbow Cake doesn't seem as intimidating and daunting as when I first made it early this year for dear son's birthday.

These 2 cakes are both 7" round with 7 layers of colour - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink. Decided to stick to Whisk Kid's recipe since my test bake produced very good results; managed to adjust the recipe and buttercream frosting to fit this 7" configuration nicely. Had also adjusted the amount of ingredients so that the cake is much more tender than before, and the buttercream frosting less sweet so as to balance the sweetness of the cake.

For deco, I tried using M&Ms. Although it looked very pretty initially, the M&M would fade after a while due to condensation (initial storage in fridge) and the humidity :( Still have not found a way to manage this problem. So I guess I won't suggest using M&Ms for decoration in future unless I find a solution.

For packaging, as the cake is slightly taller than most cake boxes (commercial cake box is 5" tall, and the cake is about 5.5-6"), I improvised and used 2 boxes to make a taller box. Carrier is not a problem, since I've some nice plastic bags for cakes from Tokyo previously.

The layers turned out quite pretty and I was really pleased how the colours turned out. But the M&Ms, *sigh*.

For those of you who are keen, please email me for order enquiry at dreamersloft@gmail.com :)

06 May 2013

"Sambuca" Kisses by Nigella Lawson

I watched an episode of Nigellissima on board an SQ flight recently and was immensely curious and attracted to this particular snack that Nigella made. It looked so easy, with only a few ingredients - egg, ricotta, plain flour, baking powder, sugar, orange zest and Sambuca. I couldn't really imagine how it would taste like, so I was determined to give it a try.

Apart from her very sexy voice, the way she lyrically described the snack was particularly intriguing, almost poetic-like. How could one not be intoxicated when she used phases like,

"... they are like doughnuts made not of batter, but of sweet air... it is like the lightest, most flattering caress in the mouth..."

" ... they are so light they make frying feel celestial..."

I must confess, while I know that she's a celebrity chef and all, I have never watched any of her programmes or read any of her recipe books. I think I'm a convert for now. It's somewhat comforting to hear her talk and watch her cook, and she made it look so effortless.

Anyways, back to the Sambuca Kisses. Immediately after I alighted from the plane, I googled for the recipe. Initially I had no idea what Sambuca was, I only know it's some kind of liquer. Thankfully for the internet, I managed to find the recipe, as well as the video. Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavoured liquer; not sure where I could get it here. After reading through the Q&As posted in her website, I learnt that the Sambuca could be replaced by vanilla extract. Although it's a pity not to have the intriguing taste of "anise-flavoured" liquer, I guess some good quality Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract could be a fine replacement.

So there, I'm prepared to make my very own "Sambuca" Kisses without the Sambuca. And like Nigella said, no challenges at all.

Sambuca KissesBy Nigella Lawson
From Nigellisima
  • 1 egg
  • 100g ricotta
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (original 2 tsp sambuca)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1-2 tsp icing sugar, to serve

  1. Put the egg and ricotta into a bowl and beat together until smooth.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, sambuca/vanilla extract, sugar and grated orange zest. Beat the mixture again to make a smooth batter.
  3. Pour about 2cm/1in oil into a frying pan, and heat until a small piece of bread sizzles when you drop it into the pan and browns in about 40 seconds (the temperature should be at about 180C/350F). And keep your eye on the pan at all times.
  4. Oil a teaspoon measure and gently drop rounded teaspoons of the ricotta batter into the pan, about four at a time is manageable.
  5. The little kisses will puff up slightly and turn golden underneath, so flip them over carefully with an implement, to colour the other side. Watch out that the oil doesn’t get too hot, turning the heat down if they are browning too quickly.
  6. Once they are golden all over, lift them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with one or two sheets of kitchen roll, to get rid of any excess oil.
  7. Carry on cooking until all the mixture is used up, then turn off the heat under the oil. Once the kisses have cooled a bit, push the icing sugar through a small sieve to dust them thickly.
  8. If you are not eating them straightaway, pop the pre-sugared cooked kisses on a rack over a tin in a 150C/Gas 2 oven, and keep them warm for up to one hour.
  9. Serve with an espresso, with one teaspoon of sambuca added, for each person.
The "Sambuca" Kisses were indeed a delightful snack, very light although it was fried. Very crisp on the outside yet very soft and tender inside. It looks like doughnut balls but not exactly. Taste-wise, very subtle hint of cheese only; icing sugar is definitely needed to accentuate the overall taste of these treats. Finally, I satisfied my curiosity.