24 December 2015

Meg's Pastry Studio - 4th Q Orders

Oh wow, Year 2015 is almost coming to an end soon! And Meg's Pastry Studio is officially closed for the holidays :) No Christmas bakes at all this year as I'm setting off for a vacation, yippeeeeeeee!

For the last quarter of the year, once again I'm blessed with a comfortable number of cake orders. Most of the orders were from referrals and existing customers who have ordered my cakes before, as well as a couple of new customers. And once again, they are all rainbow and ombre cakes, considered my niche now? LOL!

Really appreciate their trust in me, an amateur homebaker :) Apologies to a number of customers whom I had to turn away because of my travels :p

While I enjoy baking cakes, making sure each and every order turns out nicely, there are times when I doubt myself whether I should continue doing it, especially when the cakes didn't turn out well, accidents occurred or I'm dissatisfied in general and I simply had to re-work the cake or part of the cake.

Then again, all these are part of a learning experience and even though I have baked so many of these cakes, every time I still learn something new. Every cake still excites me. I'm always more relieved than happy when customers tell me they enjoyed my cakes. So I guess the stress during baking, decorating and delivery is worth it? Oh well, we shall see how things go next year, perhaps rainbow/ombre cakes will go out of fashion, probably I will get sick of it?

Anyways, here's a summary of my orders for the 4th Q :)

This was an order by a lady celebrating her friend's Bachelorette Party. She specifically requested for green ombre colours for the cake layers as well as buttercream rosette decoration. Same design as a previous order that was in pink and very well-received. I think green shades turned out just as lovely as pink!

Ordered by a friend for her daughter's 2th birthday, and last year I did the 1st birthday cake too! Really appreciate her continual support.

This must be my craziest and largest cake ever! Customer had specifically requested for bright rainbow cake, 2 tiers of 7 layers each, that's 14 layers in total, as well as rosette buttercream piping! Thinking back, couldn't imagine how I did it. It was really challenging, glad that the cake didn't topple and turned out decent enough, visually appealing albeit the cake layers didn't taste as nice (because this was white cake, not sponge cake). Not sure if I will ever do it again, though it was a good learning experience.

Repeat order from a customer. Her family preferred cakes that are less sweet with less cream, and enjoyed the cake done previously. So this time, we went for minimal rosette buttercream (less sweet) decoration.

This is a small size cake suitable for small family of 4-6. Smallest cake available is 4.5", good for 3-5 pax. I love petite size cakes, but actually the effort to bake and decorate is not much difference from larger cakes. Haha.

These 2 cakes were ordered by a mum with twin girls (she was referred by my friend who ordered 2 cakes before) and she requested for 2 different designs and flavours. Good thing that the Korean strawberries are finally in season and readily available. The punnets I bought looked plump and fresh and of good uniform size.

Rainbow/ombre cakes that are "exposed" showing the layers is quite popular, but they do require much more effort than the regular frosted ones. First of all, the cakes must be baked larger size and after frosting has set, the sides are then trimmed off to expose the visually appealing cake layers. Therefore, there is actually some "wastage" of cake (well, they were not wasted per se, they went into my family's tummy :p). To protect the sides of cake from drying/damage, a thin transparent film is used to cover the cakes.

More customers are requesting for this design/look and I may considering increasing the price due to additional ingredients and effort involved.

Last but not least, this cake was ordered by a friend's sister who had tried my cake previously and enjoyed it. She requested for this marshmallow decoration as her son liked the texture of the marshmallow. I like this marshmallow too, it's sold at Phoon Huat :)


Goodbye 2015!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy 2016!

P.S. I will be busy/travelling a lot in the 1st quarter of 2016, please note the closure dates and send enquiry to megtan@singnet.com.sg as soon as possible! 

09 December 2015

Mini Egg Tarts 一口蛋挞

Few days ago, I had this huge craving for egg tarts. While it's easy to just hit the stores and buy them off the shelf, I know I should make them on my own so as to customise to my taste and size.

Since I'm feeling lazy busy, I wanted something quick and easy, so decided to stick to my tried and tasted recipes (tart pastry from Hokkaido Bake Cheese Tart and fresh milk egg filling from Hong Kong Flaky Egg Tart) which I'm very familiar by now.

Using the exact recipes, managed to yield 13 mini egg tarts, with a little bit of egg filling left. Probably coz my tart pastry was a little thicker, could probably make 14 or even 15 tarts.

Borrowed the below pictures of making tart pastry from my Hokkaido Bake Cheese Tart page coz I was rushing and didn't have time to take photos.

 (A) Tart Pastry

  • 100g plain/cake flour
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 50g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp fresh milk
1. Sift flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add cold salted butter cubes.
2. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
3. Add an egg yolk to the mixture.
4. Use a scrapper to mix the egg yolk.
5. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use the hands to form the mixture into a dough.
6. Add fresh milk, the dough will become very soft and pliable.
7. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place on a piece of clingwrap.
8. Wrap the dough and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.

 (B) Egg tart filling
  • 100g Fresh Milk
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 drop Vanilla Extract
While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare the egg tart filling. Mix all the ingredients together till the sugar is melted. Sieve the mixture.

Now for the making of the egg tarts. Roll the dough to desired thickness, mine was about 3mm. Stamp a piece of dough using a fluted cutter (7cm). Repeat till all the dough is used up.

Place a piece of cut dough onto a tart case (5cm). Push it downwards and using finger tips to mould the dough into the tart case. It's not necessary to brush the tart case as the dough itself is quite buttery so no problem in removing the egg tart from the case once baked.

Use a small fork to prick some holes at the base (not too hard else filling will leak) of the dough. Fill with the egg tart filling almost to the brim.

 Before and after.

From the pictures, can see that during baking, the egg tart filling will have a nice dome shape, unfortunately, the filling will sink a bit after it cools down. To prevent the tart filling from sinking too much (due to difference in temperature), I left the tarts to cool down slightly in the oven before removing them. If anyone knows how to retain the nice dome shape of the tart filling, please let me know!

Place the tray of egg tarts at the bottom most rack of the oven. Bake at 200C (top and bottom heat) for 15 mins. After 15 mins, bake at 180C for 10 mins. At this point, can see that the egg tarts will have a dome shape. After 10 mins, slightly open the oven door, slip a cloth or oven mitt by the door and let egg tart bake in residual heat for another 10 mins. This is to prevent the filling from sinking too much. After 10 mins, remove the tray from the oven and let egg tarts cool slightly before removing the tarts from the casing.

I adore these cute little pop-in-the-mouth egg tarts! Although it's small enough to pop in the mouth, I still take it in two bites, more ladylike :p. To satisfy my craving, I ate three at one go. My kiddo loves it as well and ate two at one go after dinner!

These are best served warm. The tart pastry is the "short" and slightly crisp type and not the cookie crunchy type, I like it this way. The filling is fragrant and not too sweet. The tarts will turn slightly soft the next day, I just pop them into the oven for a few minutes and they are good to eat again.

Mini Egg Tarts
(yield 13-15 mini egg tarts)
    (A) Tart Pastry

    • 100g plain/cake flour
    • 20g icing sugar
    • 50g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/2 tsp fresh milk
    1. Sift flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add cold salted butter cubes.
    2. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
    3. Add an egg yolk to the mixture.
    4. Use a scrapper to mix the egg yolk.
    5. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use the hands to form the mixture into a dough.
    6. Add fresh milk, the dough will become very soft and pliable.
    7. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place on a piece of clingwrap.
    8. Wrap the dough and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.
     (B) Egg tart filling
    • 100g Fresh Milk
    • 50g Caster Sugar
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 drop Vanilla Extract
    1. While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare the egg tart filling.
    2.  Mix all the ingredients together till the sugar is melted. Sieve the mixture.
     (C) Assembly
    1. Preheat oven to 220C, top and bottom heat.
    2. Remove dough from the fridge, roll to desired thickness, about 2-3mm.
    3. Stamp the dough using a fluted cutter (7cm). Repeat till all dough is used up.
    4. Place a piece of cut dough onto a tart case (5cm). Push it downwards and using finger tips to mould the dough into the tart case.
    5. Use a small fork to prick some holes at the base of the dough. Fill the tart with the egg tart filling almost to the brim.
    6. Place the tray of egg tarts at the bottom most rack of the oven.
    7. Bake at 200C for 15 mins.
    8. After 15 mins, bake at 180C for 10 mins.
    9. After 10 mins, slightly open the oven door, slip a cloth or oven mitt by the door and let egg tart bake in residual heat for another 10 mins.
    10. After 10 mins, remove the tray from the oven and let egg tarts cool slightly before removing the tarts from the casing.
    11. Best served warm.

    07 December 2015

    Chicken & Veggies Wrap and Cabbage & Seafood Chowder

    The weather is certainly turning chilly as we approached the end of the year with frequent thunder storms. At times like this, I would crave for a hot bowl of hearty soup that's creamy yet not too heavy.

    I'm a big fan of Soup Stock Tokyo and it's a must to dine at least one meal there when in I'm in Tokyo. This time, I even bought the soup bowl and spoon :p Unfortunately there are only 2 shops in SG and both are far from where I stay and frequent :(

    Anyways, this particular soup is inspired by the one I had in Tokyo last year, the Scallop and Napa Cabbage Yuzu Kosho Chowder. It was creamy and sweetness came from the napa cabbage and scallop, yet light and refreshing because of the cabbage and Yuzu Kosho flavouring.

    Key ingredients are napa cabbage, scallop and Yuzu Kosho. I didn't have Yuzu Kosho and had to omit that. Came up with my own version with clam, dried scallop, streaky bacon, baby cabbage, carrot, onion, chicken stock and clam stock. To replace the Yuzu Kosho, I added a tiny splash of lemon juice and a few shreds of lemon peel just before serving. I must remember to get hold of Yuzu Kosho the next trip to a Japanese supermarket or Japan.

    Cabbage and Seafood Chowder
    (serves 3-4)

    • 450ml clam broth (made using 1L water and 500g clam)
    • 250ml chicken broth (made using chicken carcass, chicken feet, scraps of vegetables like onion, spring onion, celery, white radish, carrot etc)
    • 1 small onion or 1/2 big onion, finely chopped
    • 80g streaky bacon, diced
    • 30g dried scallop, soaked in hot water for at least 30 mins, then shredded
    • 40g clam meat, precooked (from the clam broth)
    • 2 tbsp plain flour
    • 100g baby napa cabbage (wa wa cai), cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1/2 pc small carrot, thinly sliced
    • 100ml cooking cream
    • Lemon juice, lemon peel 
    1.  Heat up a pot with 1 tbsp olive oil, add the chopped onion and fry till translucent.
    2. Add the bacon and fry till fragrant.
    3. Next add the shredded scallop and clam meat, stir fry to mix.
    4. Add the plain flour and stir till mixed with the ingredients.
    5. Add the chicken stock and clam broth, let the soup come to a boil.
    6. Add the cabbage and carrot. Boil on low heat till tender, remove any scums on the surface of the soup.
    7. Stir in cooking cream slowly. 
    8. Just before serving, add a splash of lemon juice and a few shreds of lemon peel.
    9. Best served warm.

    Hmmmmm, this is like a comfort soup to me. Surprisingly adding the lemon juice and lemon peel enhanced the overall taste of the soup, I like! Of course I believe yuzu will be better, next time when I get hold of some fresh yuzu. I added lesser amount of cream than the usual chowder soups because I wanted to keep the soup lighter. Feel free to add more cream.

    To pair with the chowder, I made a simple chicken and veggies wrap. At Soup Stock Tokyo, soups are typically paired with bun or barley rice. But since I have some ready ingredients, decided to go luxe and have a wrap.

    Ingredients are 6 grains tortilla wrap from Missions Food (won in a lucky draw), coral lettuce, carrot, cucumber, small pieces of chicken thigh and some Japanese mayonnaise. The chicken thighs are lightly marinated with sea salt and black pepper and grilled with some olive oil. The wrap is also grilled before wrapping the ingredients.

    Yums! Wraps make a wholesome and hearty meal as well!

    いただきます Itadakimasu!

    03 December 2015

    Portobello Mushroom & Cherry Tomato with Yogurt Avocado Open-faced Sandwich

    Continuing with my sandwich/panini craze, this time a different version, open-faced sandwich!

    I had some baby portobello mushroom and cherry tomatoes leftover in the fridge and this idea of making open-faced sandwich just came up. Thought it would be virtually appealing, although quite cumbersome to eat (bits and pieces dropping all over).

    Mushroom, tomato and bread on their own would be a bit too dry, so I got some avocado to add a creamy texture to the sandwich. The avocado cream could also help hold the toppings together.

    Actually making the mushroom and tomato toppings as well as the avocado cream is really simple. For the bread, too lazy to make so I bought some wholemeal walnut bread. Actually any bread is fine, whether rustic country loaf or sourdough.

    The baby portobello mushroom is sliced and mixed with minced garlic, olive oil, sea salt, balsamic vinegar and some fresh thyme. Then I simply used the air-fryer to cook them for about 6-7 mins.

    Same goes for the cherry tomato toppings.

    The avocado cream is even simpler, just blend ripened avocado with Greek Yogurt.

    Do they look like cafe-style food? I always thought food that looks good, help the food itself taste good. LOL. Actually cafe-style food can be easily made at home.

    Portobello Mushroom & Cherry Tomato with Yogurt Avocado Open-faced Sandwich

    • 2 slices of wholemeal walnut bread (rustic, sourdough)
    Portobello Mushroom topping
    • 3 baby portobello mushroom, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, remove leaves from stem and tear into tiny pieces
    Cherry Tomato topping
    • 8-10 cherry tomato
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, remove leaves from stem and tear into tiny pieces
    Avocado cream
    • 1/2 avocado
    • 1 tbsp greek yogurt (I use Farmer's Union)
    1. Mix all ingredients for mushroom topping and air-fry for 6-7 mins at 180C. Set aside.
    2. Mix all ingredients for tomato topping and air-fry for 5-6 mins at 180C. Set aside.
    3. Blend avocado with greek yogurt till creamy. Set aside.
    4. Heat grill pan at low heat and place a slice of bread in it. Cover with glass top for 30s. Off heat, remove cover.
    5. Spread avocado cream, followed by the mushroom topping.
    6. Repeat with tomato topping.
    7. Best served warm.

    I must say the open-faced sandwich taste really really yummy!

    Really love the mushroom one!! Thought the toppings would drop all over the place with each bite, but didn't! The avocado cream helped hold everything together and really enhanced the overall taste of the sandwich. The portobello mushroom was meaty, sweet and juicy, spiced with bits of garlic and aromatic with the tiny bits of thyme. The balsamic vinegar was a little more subtle, probably more could be added for an enhanced flavour.

    The tomato was more tangy and very juicy, equally delicious. Personal preference is the mushroom but visually the tomato one looks more cheery and appetising.

    Another wholesome and hearty meal, yet quick and easy to make at home :)

    27 November 2015

    Chicken Salad Panini

    Another panini sandwich! This time, it's much straight-forward, the chicken salad can be prepped easily (and eaten on its own without carbs) and the panini sandwich assembled with little effort.

    I admit that our household buys white/wholemeal bread sometimes (coz I'm lazy to bake bread or muffins for breakfast :p). The odd thing is, we usually cannot finish the last few slices of bread and they turn a bit hard (or rather not as soft and fluffy). That's when the bread is best to be used as panini sandwich!

    I first grill some chicken fillet that's been lighted marinated with sea salt and black pepper. After the chicken fillet is cooled, just tear them into bite-size pieces and mix with chopped celery, purple onion, spring onion etc with dressing of choice. I use Japanese mayo and yuzu sesame dressing as I have these in my fridge.

    To assemble, place a slice of bread on a heated grill pan, top with a few leaves of romaine lettuce, slices of cucumber, chicken salad and finally another slice of bread. Flip the entire sandwich over, cover with glass top and viola, chicken salad panini is ready.

    Chicken Salad Panini

    • 70g Chicken fillet
    • Salt, black pepper, mixed herbs (optional)
    • 1 stalk of celery, diced
    • 1/4 red onion, diced
    • 1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
    • 2 leaves romaine lettuce
    • 1/4 Japanese cucumber, sliced thinly lengthwise
    • 2 tsp Japanese mayonnaise
    • 1 tsp Yuzu sesame dressing
    • 2 slices of bread
    1. Marinate chicken fillet with pinch of salt, black pepper and mixed herbs (optional).
    2. Heat up a grill pan on medium low heat and grill the chicken fillet till cooked. Let it cool down slightly.
    3. Tear or chop the chicken fillet into a bowl, add celery, onion, spring onion and dressing. Toss to mix well.
    4. Heat up grill pan on low heat. Place a slice of bread on the pan, place glass top on the bread and grill for 30s.
    5. Place lettuce, cucumber and chicken salad on top of the bread.
    6. Place the other slice of bread and flip the whole sandwich over.
    7. Place glass cover on top of the sandwich to press for 30s.
    8. Best served warm.

     Another easy yet hearty lunch :)

    Yums! Chicken, salad, bread, will not go wrong!

    25 November 2015

    Grilled Vegetables and Pesto Panini

    I've been eating a lot of panini sandwiches since returning from Tokyo with my Meyer Perfect Grill Pan. Well, since I lugged it all the way back, must make use of it right?

    One of the first recipes that caught my attention on the Panini recipe book is the Grilled Veggie Panini with pesto sauce. The pictures look so good that I simply have to try it even though this particular panini consists of 2 separate components and require preparation at least one day in advance.

    Here's my Meyer brand Perfect Grill Pan bought from Tokyo. Actually the grill pan is pretty common, it's the glass top that is difficult to find.

    The recipe book was first published in Japan and subsequently translated and published in Taiwan. My copy was bought from Taiwan, courtesy of my brother.

    Vegetables like eggplant, bell peppers and zucchini were grilled and then marinated in herbs (thyme and rosemary) and extra virgin olive oil at least one day in advance.

    The pesto sauce is made by blending sweet basil, pine nuts, garlic, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, it can be made on the same day as the grilled veggie for flavours to develop overnight.

    Pesto sauce

    • 45g sweet basil
    • 40g pinenuts
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 60ml (4tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
    1. Place everything into a blender and grind till fine paste.
    2. Store in sterilised glass jar in fridge for use within 3 days.
    3. Freeze the portions not used in freezer, for up to 1 month.

    Grilled veggies and pesto sauce, ready for use.

    Grilled & Marinated Vegetables

    • 2 small egg plant
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 1 yellow bell pepper
    • 1/3 zucchini
    • 5 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
    • 3 sprigs thyme
    • 2 sprigs rosemary
    • extra virgin olive oil 
    1. Slice the egg plant and zucchini into 5mm slices, bell peppers into 2-3 strips.
    2. Grill the vegetables using a grill pan on medium heat till both sides are slightly browned.
    3. Place the grilled vegetables into a shallow container, add the garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, and enough evoo to cover the vegetables.
    4. Place container in chiller for a night and ready to use.

    Once the preparation work is completed, assembling the panini sandwich is extremely easy. First, place a slice of bread of your choice on the grill pan, top with the marinated veggies, cubed avocado, pesto sauce, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Then place another slice of bread on top, flip the entire sandwich over, press/cover with the glass top and done.

    It's not necessary to grill the sandwiches but I like my bread to be slightly crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. And if you don't have the glass top, can just press the bread using a spatula. Or if no grill pan, just use oven, toaster or even air-fryer.

    Grilled vegetables & Pesto Panini

    • 2 slices of bread
    • Assorted marinated vegetables, tossed in drizzle of balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 avocado, cubed
    • 2-3 tsp pesto sauce
    1. Heat up grill pan on low heat. Place a slice of bread and cover with glass top for 30s.
    2. Place vegetables, avocado and pesto sauce on the bread.
    3. Cover with the remaining slice of bread and flip the whole sandwich over.
    4. Press with glass top for 30s.
    5. Best served warm.

    This grilled vegetable & pesto panini is really wholesome and fulfilling, makes a simple, satisfying lunch.

    Love the combination of the different tastes and textures which blend well with each other; sweetness of the vegetables, the nutty fragrance and strong aroma of the pesto sauce, the creaminess of avocado, the crisp of the bread.

    In fact, love it so much that I ate it 3 days in a roll! Well, actually coz I wanted to use up all the marinated vegetables :p

    Gonna make this sandwich again one of these days!

    20 November 2015

    Meg's Pastry Studio - white cake or sponge cake

    My most popular or rather, main cake order is the rainbow cake or ombre cake.

    Usually when customers send an inquiry, I would offer 2 choices for the cake base, either white cake or sponge cake.

    A lot of my customers are repeat customers or referred through word-of-mouth, because they like it that my cakes are less sweet, very tender and light, suitable for the elderly as well as young children; and even folks who don't usually like cakes and cream enjoyed my cakes.

    Most of the time, customers preferred the sponge cake, but sometimes I do get requests for the white cake due to specifications like vibrant colours, able to stand at room temperature/outdoors, very tall cakes, full buttercream rosette piping.

    That said, I must highlight that the white cake is not exactly very delicious, or should I say, not as delicious as the sponge cake. So it's kind of difficult to explain to customers who made requests for the white cake (due to the specifications).

    Another point that I would like to emphasize, my cakes are freshly baked (one day in advance only - reason in disclaimer below), no preservatives or chemicals like ovalette, sponge gel which are used in commercially-sold cakes to make the cakes more tender and last longer (only agents used where necessary are baking powder, baking soda or cream of tartar).

    Here are the differences between white cake and sponge cake, their pros and cons.

    White cake

    This is baked using a white cake recipe. Cake texture is firmer (as seen from the tight and neat crumbs), ombre colours quite distinct.
    • I have shared recipes before here and here. Ingredients used are cake flour (Prima), baking powder, salt, unsalted butter (usually President or SCS, sometimes Elle & Vire or Lurbak), caster sugar (SIS), egg whites, fresh milk (Meiji brand) and flavoring of choice like vanilla, lychee, mango). Cake batter is made at one go, coloured then baked in individual baking pans. Coloring used is Wilton gel paste.
    • Cake texture is more dense, firm and heavy.
    • Cake tastes sweeter, somewhat flat.
    • Able to take in colours better (batter is whitish as only egg whites are used), i.e. achieve the very vibrant rainbow colours or more distinct ombre shades
    • Preferably paired with a more heavy textured frosting such as buttercream or cream cheese.
    • Able to stand in room temperature for prolonged period. Must thaw in room temperature for at least 30 mins if stored in fridge otherwise cake and cream will be very hard.

    Sponge cake

    This is baked using a sponge cake recipe. Cake texture is more fluffy (as seen from the more airy crumbs), ombre colours not as distinct.
    •  I HAVE NOT shared the recipe before because the method used is quite tedious, and difficult to explain. Basically I use the genoise sponge method, batter for each cake layer is prepared and baked individually i.e. finish one cake layer, wash up, then do another layer, repeat for all layers. Very time consuming and tedious. And I use a percentage table for different sizes of cake. Ingredients used are, Japanese Nissen brand cake flour, Japanese jyohakuto sugar, fresh milk (I will use Hokkaido milk if possible, else Meiji brand), eggs, unsalted butter (usually President or SCS, sometimes Elle & Vire or Lurbak) and flavorings of choice. Coloring used is Wilton gel paste.
    • Cake texture is very tender, fluffy and light.
    • Cake tastes less sweet, more refined.
    • Unable to take in colours very well (batter is yellowish as full eggs are used), i.e. achieve more pastel shades of colour and less distinct ombre shades. In addition, colours like blue usually turns out turquoise with tinge of green (yellow + blue = green).
    • Preferably paired with lighter frosting such as chantilly cream (whipping cream + mascarpone cheese) or pure whipping cream.
    • Unable to stand in room temperature as the cake is very tender and cream very light, cake will melt/collapse easily.
    Buttercream or Chantilly Cream
    • For basic buttercream frosting, I usually go for Swiss Meringue Buttercream because it's more stable at room temperature and yet I could adjust sugar level to make it less sweet. Ingredients used are egg whites, caster sugar and unsalted butter. It can stand at room temperature for an hour without collapsing. Buttercream can be used to pipe more defined designs like rosette and hold the shape well.
    • For Chantilly Cream frosting, it's whipping cream (dairy) and mascarpone cheese, with or without icing sugar. I find that adding mascarpone cheese makes the frosting slightly more stable and creamy. That said, this frosting needs to be chilled at all times, maybe at most 15 mins at room temperature. Chantilly cream frosting cannot hope shape very well, can only pipe simple designs. This frosting pairs with sponge cake very well.

    • Each and every cake is handcrafted specially, no orders are exactly the same.
    • Colours/shades may not be the same as requested, because every batch of ingredients differ, for example, colour of butter, colour of egg yolk.
    • Cakes are usually baked one day ahead, in order for the cream to set overnight which is essential (tried baking on same day before and cream couldn't set in time and cake layers actually shifted a little!). And also to buffer for any mishap or unsatisfactory result (yes, have re-baked cake layers before or scrap off frosting to re-do).
    Anyways, I know I'm catering to a niche market and would like to remain status quo for now, i.e. continue this baking business as a hobby and on availability basis because family priorities come first.

    If you are still keen to order cakes from me, please drop me an email at megtan@singnet.com.sg
    Thank you!

    18 November 2015

    Tokyo September 2015 - Part VI Shopping Haul

    Continued from
    Part I - Century Southern Tower, some Shinjuku area
    Part II - Food in Tokyo
    Part III - Jiyugaoka, Musashi-Kosugi 
    Part IV - Aoyama Flower Market, Kappabashi, Harajuku 
    Part V - Kichijoji

    We have come to the final part of my Tokyo trip report. Here's some of my shopping haul :)

    Before that, I'm going to share about the WiFi router that I loaned from Changi Recommends. This is not an advertorial, I used the service, found it good and reliable, that's why I'm sharing.

    Usually when I go to Tokyo, I rely on maps, past memory or simply common sense to get around. Sometimes I would search online using the hotel WiFi first before heading out. But nowadays I find internet connection on-the-go increasingly essential, be it searching for a new place/restaurant or simply accessing FB to post photos. Last year, I registered and paid a nominal fee (I think 1000 yen) for accessing WiFi hotspots (through NTT DoCoMo) around Tokyo, but the connection is patchy.

    So this time, I decided to loan a pocket WiFi router set from Changi Recommends. It's hassle free, just pick up and return from the selected departure/arrival terminal (24hrs service). To use, simply pair with the mobile phone, key in one-time password and automatically connect. Throughout my trip, I used the pocket WiFi  with no issues, very fast speed and battery lasted a day with even 1-2 bars left. The fee was $8 a day, I thought very reasonable for round the clock internet access. I'm definitely gonna loan it for my future trips to Japan, and even other countries.

    Son's clothing from Uniqlo and Muji. I love their kids' range of clothing, especially Muji's stripe tees and cotton easy pants. Although selected SG shops do carry kids clothing, it's slightly cheaper to buy in Japan, and sometimes, there are off-season discounts. Somehow every time I go to Japan, I will still buy a few sets of clothing, usually a size larger.

    Muji is certainly one of my favourite Japanese brands, I like their sleepwear, casual wear, kitchenware :p
    This time, hubby spotted these winter boots on sale, only 2500 yen a pair. Too great a temptation to resist :p
    And even though I have quite a few scarves, I couldn't resist this wine red muffler, it's super comfy!

    Medium size tote bag from Afternoon Tea, another of my favourite zakka brand. I owned a few tote bags from AT, but not this size and this one comes with a zipper! Ok, excuse to buy :p

    I love this multi-purpose handphone pouch bought from TokyuHands. The main compartment is big enough to hold iPhone 6+, and there are 2 more compartments, one at the front and one at the back (with zipper). There are 2 detactable slings, one short for handcarry and one long for slingcarry. It's most useful when I need to pop-by the supermarket nearby my place for some quick grocery shopping. All I need is my phone, a card, some notes and keys.

    The above is a sunshades pouch from Laura Ashley (Jiyugaoka), I've been looking for a semi-hard case for my sunshades for the longest time. The original case is an awkward triangular shape which I dislike, so this pretty looking one is perfect!

    The clip cum keyring is from one's terrace, also bought at Jiyugaoka. At that point, I thought I would use it to hold my keys, and the clip part comes in handy because I could clip the whole bunch at a side pocket of my handbags for easy access. But till now, I haven't use it as I'm used to carrying my keys inside a key pouch. Hmmm, maybe I should sell it?

    The lightest umbrella ever, only 100g! I forgot to bring an umbrella for this trip and when I was at Jiyugaoka, the sky was overcast and gloomy and forecast to rain. So decided to buy one. But it didn't rain eventually :( It's ok though, I really like it since it's feather light and very convenient to carry around.

    Gem of a find at Francfranc (Shibuya). I find that whenever I'm overseas, my mobile phone battery drains very fast, probably coz I'm usually out the whole day and accessing the phone very often. Been looking for a small and lightweight power bank and found this at Francfranc! It's camouflaged as a lipstick and very small and light, and not to mention uber cute. It takes about 2-3 hrs to fully charge up the power bank, and it charges the mobile phone by about 50% which is enough for me to use as emergency power. Maybe not very high power for some, but it serves my needs and looks just too cool. (There are already people complimenting it when I use it outside :p)

    These are steam heat pads and eye masks that I bought from drug stores/personal care stores. The eye mask come with orange and lavender aroma, temperature is just right and feels really relaxing. I think Watsons carry it now. The Good-Night steam heat pad has lavender aroma and the others non-fragrant. All 3 are very soothing and I apply them for sleep whenever my shoulders feel tight. Definitely going to stock up the next time I go Japan!

    Bought these beauty products from TokyuHands and Ainz @ Tulpe.

    Back row, from left (products that I have started using):

    Love the maNara hot cleansing gel! Upon applying the gel on the face, it really feels hot and after massaging the face for about a minute, it really removes all the make-up.

    The loretta is a light hair-serum which smells really good, I quite like it.

    I seldom use mascara but like to keep one for the occasional dinner event. The Lash Sensational mascara is from Maybelline, I would say not bad since the bristles can even cover the very fine and short lashes. The grip of the eyelash curler is quite good.

    * yet to try the facial cleanser and eye make-up remover.

    Front row, from left:

    Yuzu lip balm from Yojiya. My favourite lip balm finally comes in stick form, previously it's always in a tub and I don't really like it as it's cumbersome to use.

    Lip essence from ettusais. This is fragrance free and has a slight tinge of pink. I don't really like to apply lipstick, so usually I apply lip balm and this gives a little colour without feeling overwhelming.

    Eye drop that's supposed to sooth tired eyes. This was highly recommended by sales staff at Ainz @ Tulpe. The thing is, it's so strong and minty that my eyes couldn't open after applying the drops! Ermmm, it feels comfortable only after the minty effect wears off. Hmmm, not sure if I would dare to apply it too often.

    Hello Kitty loose powder and face masks for my sis-in-law, as she's a kitty lover. These are available at most personal care stores.

    My very first chef knives from Global (Cromova 18 stainless steel)! I've been using normal knives and recently after attending a hands-on cooking class and tried using one, I'm totally sold. The knife feels light weight and very comfortable to hold, plus it's razor sharp, making cutting a breeze (in fact, I've sliced a piece of skin off my thumb). Although TokyuHands carry the brand, as well as the knife shops at Kappabashi, I went specially to the main store at Roppongi to buy because the staff there could better recommend suitable ones for me. There are hundreds of knives, different shapes and sizes and finally after holding and trying a few recommended ones, I settled on this particular 3-piece set, 1 long knife, 1 short and a knife sharpener. I could even get a direct tax rebate. Yes, the knives are not cheap, in fact quite expensive but no regrets at all.

    This is currently one of my favourite cookware :)

    Actually I got the book first (saw it on eslite online and asked my brother who was there to help me buy) and found out about this Meyer Perfect Grill Pan. I love panini and sandwiches; although I already have a multi-use pancake/waffle/grill pan machine, the effect created is slightly different (the grill pan will make the panini really flat). Couldn't find this grill pan in SG so decided to hunt for it when in Tokyo.

    Visited a few department stores but all of them don't carry Meyer products anymore. Finally found the Meyer range of products at 212 Kitchen Store (Jiyugaoka) but this particular pan was sold out! The sales staff very kindly helped me check stock at other stores and managed to locate 2 stores (Yokohama and Musashi-Kosugi) that still carry the stock. That's why I headed to Musashi-Kosugi (Part III).

    When I reached 212 Kitchen Store at Musashi-Kosugi, I hesitated because I already owned a grill pan, all I wanted was the glass cover. But both were sold as a set. They are really heavy and not cheap either. Finally conceited because I knew I would regret if I didn't buy it. So yep, I've been making panini sandwiches, will share some of the recipes soon.

    One of my favourite eatery in Japan, Soup Stock Tokyo! Love the soups, barley rice and rustic buns there! There's a big store just outside the east entrance of JR Shinjuku and I was delighted that the store carries mechandise too. Couldn't resist getting a soup bowl and a spoon :p Almost wanted to get the 2 recipes books of their soups but I really lazy to do translation.

    I'm into wood crockery these days. Bought the wooden bowl for salad from Muji and the hb wanted the wooden tongs for grilling meat. The wooden plate is from 3 coins, totally love the design!

    Some bakeware from TokyuHands and Kappabashi.

    I already owned 5 mini spatulas but bought more because they are really handy, especially if I have several small bowls of batter for colour mixing. Bought an extra large metal scrapper for leveling cream on cakes, so far didn't work well, too heavy :(

    I'm loving the Joseph Joseph spatula, the sides of the blade is flexible and thin, able to scrape batter very cleanly. I owned one Cuisipro first generation spatula that could do the same but it's no longer in production, so have been looking for a replacement product. Glad to finally find one.

    And the thin metal rod? It's a stamp for pastries/bread that I bought just for fun. I always see the rods sold at Kappabashi, the Japanese use it to stamp steam buns and breads? But they are super expensive! This time, I found a few designs that are quite affordable, so decided to get one to play. Yet to use it though :p

    Kitchen items from Daiso and TokyoHands.

    The draining net is an essential kitchen sundry for me! It's really useful to catch all the little bits of waste in the sink so that they do not flow into the drainage pipes and cause any blockage.

    I realised I didn't have a skimmer all this while? So grab a cheap cheap one from Daiso.

    Mini silicone tongs are so useful, for deep frying or picking up food from the air-fryer etc! I already have one and needed another.

    Ok, a timer. A pretty looking timer. In fact I already have 2 timers, but one was spoilt because I dropped it a few times. Bought a cheap one to replace but it's those that you have to press second by second and it's cumbersome when I needed to time, say 60-70 mins. This one has keys just like a calculator so I just have to press the specific timing needed. Easy. And pretty :p

    Pastry flour and earl grey oil from cuoca. Yuzu oil from Flavourland.

    I have hundreds of cupcake cases actually but couldn't resist buying these lovely ones from cuoca :p

    Ok, don't judge me. I buy my dish detergent from Japan. Yes, crazy. But this is the best brand I've used ever. I bought 2 bottles from a previous trip and feel in love with it. First of all, it's highly concentrated so with just a small amount I could do a whole batch of dish washing. The bottles are soooo cute (200ml) and cheery looking, and most importantly they smell damn nice, almost like shower gel and there are so many different flavours!

    I've been using mama lemon for most part of my life and frankly, the fragrance is super boring, like orange, lemon? Tried other brands and they smell horrible. There's also a brand called Joy in local supermarkets and I thought it's the same, but oh no, it smells totally revolting. Sorry, but I'm really particular about smells. I once bought a Korean brand (strangely, at Bangkok Siam Paragon supermarket) with apple smell but unfortunately couldn't find it here. Seriously, detergents in SG are boring. Period. So yep, I'm going to top up on detergents whenever I go Japan (and also the Korean one if I go BKK).

    And now onto food stuff. Well, once again I couldn't resist buying some vegetables back because the mark-up in SG is crazy such that I rarely buy them.

    So every time I will buy some root vegetables which are more hardy for luggage transport. I also bring along a cooler bag for those foodstuff that needs chiller.

    Pickled vegetables like daikon, burdock and cucumber.

    KitKat of different flavours from Yokohama, Okinawa/Kyushu, Tokyo, and a Halloween special.

    I love to eat financiers! Saw this Henri Charpentier ones at Takashimaya basement food hall. They were made from newly harvested almonds apparently, and available for a limited period only. Haha, that sold me. The financiers tasted very delicate and moist, slightly buttery and nutty. One of the better financiers I've tasted.

    Must share these 2 drinks I bought from the combini (convenience store) that I like a lot. The one on the left is a sparkling mineral water in lemon flavour. It's not as fizzy as San Pellegrino or Perrier, quite subtle! I think it's like the newly launched Ice Mountain lemon sparkling drink. On the right is a yogurt tasting mineral water, good to get some prebiotics into the body system right, plus it's yummy!

    Ok, this is random. Got this sweet looking storage box from 3 coins. Daiso SG sells some similar looking storage boxes/containers as well, but they are much smaller. This is double the size and comes with a lid.

    These are some prizes we got from the UFO catchers :p Or rather the hb caught them. He's quite into these machines and caught several boxes of candy/chocolates as well.

    The thermal mugs retain heat quite well, I use them for hot beverages. As for the glass mug, it's very in these days. But I already got one at home, probably will give it away.

    That's the end of my entire Tokyo trip! Ciao, till my next holiday!