Monday, August 31, 2009

Pulut Tai Tai

Pulut Tai Tai (Blue Glutinous Rice Cakes) is one of the more popular kuihs in Malaysia. It's pretty greasy and sticky, and it goes very well with kaya.

I adapted a recipe from Kuali.

- 350g glutinous rice, washed and soak for 4 hours
- 2 tsp salt
- 45 pieces bunga telang or clitoria flowers (I only used 20 pieces and the blue colouring was not enough)
- 2-3 pandan leaves
- Banana leaves

Extract from one coconut:
- 1 cup thin coconut milk
- 2 cups thick coconut milk

You will need to extract blue colouring from the flowers. To do this, wash and pound the flowers to extract a few drops of blue colouring.

Place a piece of muslin cloth at the bottom of a porous steaming pan. Put the rice, pandan leaves and add half the general santan to the rice. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the general santan and continue to steam for 10 more minutes.

Remove the pan from the steamer and add the pati santan and salt. Mix well with a pair of chopsticks. Colour about a quarter of the rice blue and return to the steamer to cook it for 10 minutes.

Line a square tin with greased banana leaves. Spoon in the cooked rice, alternating the blue portion with the white rice. Mix well. Press down the rice with a banana leaf.

Cover the top of the rice with a banana leaf and weigh it down with a heavy object. Leave to cool. Cut into pieces and serve with kaya.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This is my first challenge with The Daring Kitchen gang and ho boy! was it tough. I always wanted to make a layered cake with buttercream, so when they revealed the August challenge to be this torte, I rubbed my hands together with glee and immediately set out to purchase the ingredients.

This torte took me 2 days to complete. On the first day, I made the sponge layers and buttercream and assembled them. I then refrigerated the half-finished torte. The next day, I made the caramel topping. As mentioned by several Daring Bakers, this part was the toughest. I am quite sure I didn't get it right as well. It was still chewy when it's supposed to be crackly.

The best part was the resultant torte. I wished and hoped that it would at least turn out edible as I put so much energy into it...and it was! The torte was very tasty. I'm not crazy about the caramel and (if there is a) next time, I will use dark semi-sweet chocolate instead of the sweet chocolate for the buttercream.

Sponge cake layers
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g
cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
pinch of salt
Chocolate Buttercream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
Caramel topping
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)
Finishing touches
a 7” cardboard round
12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:
NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)

3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan
bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.
1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.

3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.

4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.

5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:
1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.

2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee
strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos
1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.

3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

4. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

I (Angela) am quite happy to store this cake at room temperature under a glass dome, but your mileage may vary. If you do decide to chill it, then I would advise also using a glass dome if you have done. I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.

Shape: The traditional shape of a Dobos Torta is a circular cake, but you can vary the shape and size if you want. Sherry Yard in Desserts By The Yard makes a skyscraper Dobos by cutting a full-size cake into four wedges and stacking them to create a tall, sail-shaped cake. Mini Dobos would be very cute, and you could perch a little disc of caramel on top.

Flavor: While we both love the dark chocolate buttercream and this is traditional, we think it would be fun to see what fun buttercreams you all come up with! So, go wild! Or, you could rush each layer with a flavored syrup if you just want a hint of a second flavor. Cointreau syrup would be divine!

Nuts: These are optional for decoration, so no worries if you're allergic to them. If you don't like hazelnuts, then substitute for another variety that you like.

Egg concerns
The cooking process for the buttercream will produce lightly cooked eggs. If you fall into a vulnerable health group then you may wish to use an egg-less buttercream.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kaya (Coconut Custard)

One of my favourite breakfast food is toasted bread spread with a thick layer of butter and a thinner layer of kaya. Have that with a good cup of coffee and I will stay happy for the rest of the day.

Kaya means rich in Bahasa Malaysia. Kaya is definitely rich. It has a smooth and creamy texture that tastes of slightly caramelised sugar with an intense coconut kick. It's very easy to make as well which is a plus for me.

My dad insisted that kaya which is steamed tastes better. So I decided to adapt this recipe from Kuali.

- 10 eggs
- 420ml thick coconut milk, extracted from 2 grated coconuts
- 500g sugar
- 3 pandan leaves, knotted

Beat eggs and sugar well with a hand whisk. Put beaten eggs and pandan leaves in a saucepan over a very gentle heat to dissolve the sugar.

When sugar has dissolved, remove the pan away from the heat and stir in thick coconut milk, mix well, then strain the mixture into a double boiler pot. Put the pandan leaves back into the mixture.

Cook over rapidly boiling water. Keep stirring the mixture with a long wooden spoon until it thickens (about 15 - 20 minutes); top up the boiling water in the lower pot whenever necessary.

Then wrap the lid with a big enough tea-towel (to prevent water dripping into the custard), replace it on the pot and steam the custard for two to three hours. (Do not stir the custard during this time.)

When kaya is ready, discard the pandan leaves. Scoop up some of the liquid which has formed and reserve. Stir the rest of the liquid back into the kaya with a wooden chopstick. Leave to cool. You can leave the kaya at this stage. It will be lumpy and some people prefer it. However if you prefer the smooth type, move on to the next stage.

Put the kaya into a blender. Blend till creamy. If you find that the kaya is too thick, trickle back the reserved liquid till it reaches preferred consistency. Do note that kaya will thicken up in the refrigerator.

Will store at room temperature for 2 days. Will keep in refrigerator for about a week or so.

I am submitting this recipe for Merdeka Open House 2009 - My Sweet Malaysia hosted by Babe in the City - KL. Check out the Babe in the City - KL blog on 31st August 2009 for the round up.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Char Siu Bao (Chinese Barbequed Pork Buns)

Dim Sum is famous all over the world. One of its most popular dishes is the Baos or Chinese Steamed Buns, typically with some filling. They're great for breakfast or brunch, taken with Chinese Tea.

The following recipe makes very fluffy, soft baos. Remember to eat them while they're still warm. If you prefer baos without filling, I'd suggest you increase the amount of sugar to about 7 teaspoons for a sweeter dough. I adapted a recipe I found on allrecipes for barbequed pork filling.

- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 227g char siu (barbequed pork), cubed
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water


1) Mix together yeast, flour, salt, sugar, and vegetable oil. Add in water until you form a dough. Knead until dough surface is smooth and elastic; about 5-8 minutes. Roll over in a greased bowl, and let stand until triple in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

2) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add green onions and garlic, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add pork, and fry for a minute, then stir in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, then stir the mixture into the pork. Cook, stirring constantly until the pork is coated with a thickened glaze. Remove to a bowl, and allow to cool.

3) Punch down dough, and spread out on a floured board. Sprinkle baking powder evenly on surface, and knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 12 parts. Flatten each piece into a 3 inch circle using the palm of your hand or a rolling pin. Place 2 tablespoons of the pork filling onto the center of each circle, and gather up the edges around the filling and pinch together to close the bun. Place each bun seam side down onto a square of parchment paper or aluminium foil. Cover with a towel, and let rise for about 30 minutes.

4) Bring water to a boil in steamer pot, and reduce heat to medium. Transfer as many buns as will comfortably fit onto the perforated pot of the steamer, leaving 1 to 2 inches between the buns. Cover steamer pot with lid (wrap towel around lid to avoid water from dripping onto buns). Steam buns over boiling water for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining buns.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Egg Tarts

I remember, as a kid, my parents used to buy egg tarts for me from a (now closed) bakery shop. These egg tarts were huge. They were shallower than the ones we get nowadays but double in diameter. I'm more of a crust girl, so custard aside, I loved how the crust was crunchy on the outside with a soft inner wall; soft enough for me to scoop up the custard together with the crust.

This recipe from Aunty Yochana was very good. I would suggest baking the egg tarts a day before, as the tarts were even more yummy the second day after baking.

I do not have tart moulds so I used muffin pans. I also adapted the recipe to suit our tastes.

Pate Sucree:
125 gm. Butter - softened
45 gm. icing sugar
1/2 egg white
1 egg yolk
230 gm. plain flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence

Egg Custard:
280 gm. fresh milk
130 gm. sugar
3 nos. eggs
1 tsp. rum
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence


(1) For pate sucree: beat butter and icing sugar till well-mixed.
(2) Add in white and yolk and mix.
(3) Add in vanilla essence and then the flour and mix into a soft dough. Rest for 15 mins in refrigerator.
(4) Press dough into small tart moulds or muffin pans.
(5) For egg custard, heat sugar and milk together. Once sugar dissolves, turn off heat. Cool to room temperature.
(6) Whisk eggs and pour into the milk mixture. Do not whisk till frothy.
(7) Add in rum and vanilla essence.
(8) Sift the egg custard and pour into tart moulds and bake on lower shelf at 175C for 20 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for another 10 minutes till egg custard sets.

You will know that your custard has set when it does not wobble when you shake the pan. If you see that the custard is about to puff up into a ball, take it out from the oven immediately. Once it puffs up, the egg tart will wrinkle when it's cooled.

The egg tarts can be left at room temperature for about 1-2 days. Once refrigerated, the crust will turn harder.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bokok Fish Soup

This soup has a lot of variations. It seems as if different households in Penang have their own recipe for it. Some like their Bokok Fish Soup sweet, others with tons of chilli. In our house, we like the soup simple; just the fish in assam soup. It's quite similar to the Assam Laksa soup but stripped down to only 5 main ingredients. It's great served hot with rice.

A word of caution: do not serve the soup in plastic bowls. The turmeric in the soup will leave a stain.

- 2 slices of belacan (unroasted) (1.5-inch square, about 1/2 inch thick)
- 450g tamarind pulp
- 550g Bokok fish or kembung fish, cleaned and gutted
- 1 bundle lemongrass (about 3-4 stalks, use the inner white bulbs only) (smashed)
- 3 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Chili powder or red chillies to taste (optional)

1) Break up the belacan and add into the pot, together with 2 cups of water.

2) In a bowl, add 1 cup of water to the tamarind pulp. Squeeze tamarind in the water and pour the tamarind juice into a large pot of water. Keep repeating until the water is clear; about 7-8 times.

3) Add fish.

4) Add lemongrass and turmeric powder. Stir.

5) Bring to boil. Then simmer for at least an hour.

6) Add salt and chili powder to taste.

Serve hot.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

It's flu season again. That means if you're down with it, you would have no appetite for anything that might be too rough on your throat. Second only to a nice soothing bowl of chok (congee), chicken noodle soup is packed with nutrients and flavour.

This recipe yields 5-6 bowls.

- Vegetable oil
- 1 turnip, cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- 2 skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and pat dry
- 4-6 whole peppercorns
- 4-6 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme, marjoram, or tarragon
- 1 large bay leaf
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 7-8 cups chicken broth
- 1 carrot, cut into chunks
- 1 celery, cut into chunks
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup corn kernels
- Pasta, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought

1) Heat vegetable oil in a large pot. Add turnip, carrots and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, being careful to avoid burnt spots. Transfer them to a bowl or dish and set aside.
2) Add in more vegetable oil and heat on medium-­high heat. Add chicken and saute, turning often, until lightly browned. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook about 10 minutes.
3) Return vegetables to the pot. Add peppercorns, cloves, herbs, garlic, salt and enough broth to cover contents about two inches. Bring mixture to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. While the soup is simmering, occasionally skim off the foam that accumulates on top of the broth.
Add more broth if the liquid no longer covers the chicken and vegetables. Simmer until chicken is tender and almost falling off the bone, about 2
4) Transfer cooked chicken to a large dish. Strain broth into a large pot. Transfer any pieces of chicken in the strainer to the pot. Discard vegetables, garlic, spices and herbs.
5) Add carrot, celery, onion and corn kernels to the chicken broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove from the bones, cut into bite-sized pieces and add, along with any juices, to soup. Bring to boil and simmer until vegetables are cooked. Lastly, add in the cooked pasta.

Serve hot.

Homemade Pasta
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- some olive oil

1) Place flour in a bowl. Make a well and crack the egg into the well.

2) Using your fingers, break the egg and slowly incorporate the flour into the egg until everything is combined. If the dough feels tough, trickle in some olive oil.
3) Knead for about 8-10 minutes until dough becomes smooth and silky.

4) Cover the bowl and leave the dough for at least 30 minutes.
5) Using a pasta machine, roll it out to your desired thickness and cut it into the shape your want. I used the fettuccine setting for mine. I then cut it into shorter strips so that I can just scoop up the noodles with a spoon instead of using chopsticks.
6) Boil them in water for about 3-4 minutes.

Set aside.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Indian Mee Goreng

The other day my dad bought a packet of Indian Mee Goreng (Indian Fried Noodles) from the morning market. Quite typical of food sold in markets, there was more of the noodles than of the other ingredients. We were just consuming a bowl of orange noodles (don't ask me why they're orange) with 2 pieces of beancurd and 10 pieces of taugeh (beansprouts). This triggered a search on the internet for a recipe for Indian Mee Goreng just so I can prepare it with tons of ingredients.

The following recipe is adapted from Rasa Malaysia. It also reflects further changes I will make to the Indian Mee Goreng the next time I prepare it.

This recipe serves 6.

- Cooking Oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chilli paste or to taste (recipe below)
- 3 pieces of tau kua (fried beancurd), cut into pieces
- 1 potato, boiled, peeled and sliced
- 4 big squids, cleaned and cut into rings
- 450g yellow noodles, rinsed
- 2 eggs
- A handful of beansprouts
- 5 pieces lettuce, washed and cut into strips
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- Sugar and salt to taste

1) Heat cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Add garlic, 2 tablespoons of chilli paste, fried beancurds, potato and squids. Stir fry until fragrant.
2) Add yellow noodles and sauce and stir until everything is coated with the sauce. Push the noodles to the side of the wok or pan.
3) Add some cooking oil and crack in the eggs. Scramble the eggs and mix with the noodles. Once they are partially cooked, add in the beansprouts and stir. Lastly, add lettuce and quick stir for a few seconds.

Serve hot with a wedge of lime. Squeeze lime juice over noodles before eating.

Chili Paste
- 10 dried red chillies
- Water
- Vegetable oil

Pound dried red chillies using a mortar and pestle, adding water and oil as you go along until a paste forms. Heat some oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir fry the chilli paste until the oil separates from the paste. Set aside.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spicy Balsamic Vinegar Dip

No matter how hard I tried, there was just no way I could capture a nice picture of this dip. My poor photography skill does it no justice. I was gunning for the type of dip usually served in Italian restaurants with their complimentary bread. This is it! The garlic gives another depth to the dip. If you like garlic, chop it roughly but if you'd rather not bite into chunks of garlic, just mince it well.

My sister mentioned that the dips she tried in restaurants are usually a combination of just olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So if you do not have the herbs on hand, just mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together and dip away. This dip goes terrifically well with french bread or any warm crusty bread.

This recipe serves 6.

- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 clove garlic, chopped or minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bottle. Seal bottle and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Shake well before storing.

Will keep in refrigerator for weeks.