Saturday, 20 April 2013


Finally. I have finally come to bake this cake. For those who have watched the last series of the Great British Bake Off you should be more than familiar with this as it was one of the technical challenges. Fraisier is basically a classic French strawberry cake with a distinctive pattern on the sides created using halved strawberries.

Unfortunately in this attempt I miscalculated the amount gelatine needed to set the cream so it didn't turn out very well. Still tasted good though.

The filling is a white chocolate mousse flavoured with almond extract. I avoided using marzipan as I don't like fondant/marzipan in general. Plus it sort of saves some work as well.

As you can tell it's a birthday cake for a friend of mine from Marseille. She wanted something with strawberries and I couldn't think of anything more strawberry-y than this cake.

It really would've looked a lot nicer had I used more gelatine in the mousse and let it have more time to set (the fact that I woke up at 12 noon today really didn't help).

Would I make it again? Absolutely. Did I mention I should use more gelatine next time?

Ad Kong

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lunch Party

This week is the much needed Easter break for me. The last term had been so hectic to the point that I literally couldn't find time to bake. Not surprisingly I was badly hit by my rebound baking tendency when term finally ended. I spent the first two days last weekend baking macarons, about 50 of them, that's 100 macaron shells. I did however manage to squeeze in a teeny bit of revision which I was extremely proud of. Anyway the short Easter break has culminated in the lunch party that I've just hosted today. I invited two of my friends and their parents. The menu was:

Starter: Salmon and Dill Quiche Lorraine
Main: Beef Rendang Curry served with home made crusty bread
Dessert: Double Chocolate Mousse with Bergamot

Overall, great company and food went down well. I was particularly happy with how my mousse turned out.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The (perfect) white sandwich loaf

I consider myself a modest person, having grown up in a traditional Asian family where humility is a virtue and arrogance a vice. But you may have noticed that this self-acclaimed character of mine doesn't sit well with the title of this blog entry.

Let's just say I don't use the word 'perfect' a lot but the Hokkaido milk bread that I've made today was quite literally the best sandwich bread I've ever had. Soft, velvety and milky with a hint of cream. I cannot think of a better sandwich loaf.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Updated to-bake list


Fraisier Cake
Entremet with Joconde Imprint
Strawberry entremet
Whipped Cream Cake with a soufflé base
Mille Crêpes - (failed) - Tried this once but the cream was too sloppy and the crêpes too thick, making it impossible to slice through the layers. We ended up eating it layer by layer, which tasted great. That said it was a failure as it wasn't how it should be.
Mille Feuilles
Vanilla Tart
Triple Chocolate Mousse slices
Macaron Cake 
Mango Cheesecake
Strawberry Charlotte
Mont Blanc
Plaisir Sucré
Éclairs (I've made this before but forgot to take pictures!)
Fruit Tarts
Strawberry and Pistachio tart
Pear and Frangipane Tart - (New) Found this recipe on an amazing blog called 'use real butter'. Do head there and have a look but bewarned, you could easily spend a whole day in front of your computer.
Flapjacks - (New) Well I do live in the UK after all.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Salted Caramel Velvet Cake

My first ever original invention. It's a variant of the red velvet cake, except there's no red food coloring (thank goodness!) and there is salted caramel in the frosting. I've also added meringue to the sponge to make it lighter. Personally this is one of my favourite cakes, not just because it's my own recipe. I've always liked the combination of chocolate and salted caramel but sadly it's normally too sweet for my palate. In this recipe I've added the salted caramel to the mascarpone/cream cheese in place of icing sugar to dilute the sweetness but still retain a noticeable hint of salted caramel. I have baked this cake numerous times before as I was trying to perfect it. It's almost there I'd say but I'll have to bake it at least once more to make sure it wasn't down to luck. Plus I certainly don't mind eating a slice of it. Anytime.

It was a tad frustrating when I made this cake as I didn't know how to decorate it. In the end I settled for some hazelnuts dipped in caramel and a few leftover chocolate squares I made before. For some reason it just didn't work for me. I think it could be down to the fact that my caramel decorations were too small compared to the size of the cake and thus lacked the wow factor. Perhaps I should have made a nest of caramel instead. That said, I've learned something important about caramel decorations. I made the cake a day in advance and decorated it with those caramel hazelnuts. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the moisture of the mascarpone frosting, the caramel bits on the hazelnuts had melted by the next day and so the best part of the decoration, i.e; the spikes were practically gone by the time I brought it to the event. Anyway.. the cake was well received and I'm sure it tasted alright (I just learned a trick - to bake an extra cupcake using the same batter and frosting to do a taste test without slicing into a whole cake that you want to present).

I wish I had taken a picture of a slice of the cake but it was literally gone in 5 minutes (after all it was the ONLY cake at the event of 100 people). I just hope I didn't misunderstand what the organiser told me (though I was definitely under the impression that I was meant to bake ONE cake and not cater for the whole event). Oh well, good things come in small packages as they say.

White loaf with a twist

It's been a while and the last few weekends had been incredibly busy for me. I finally took the plunge and bought the rye sourdough starter that I had been eyeing for months from a dutch bakery. It has since grown very well and is now called Francis, and it lives in my fridge most of the time. :) The idea to name my sourdough starter was from my friend but the exact choice of name was my own decision.

This weekend I've made a pain rustique. Basically a rustic white bread but the recipe I used also includes rye sourdough starter and some whole wheat flour for extra flavour. I must say this has been my best attempt at bread making to date. The oven spring was also the most impressive compared to my previous attempts. The crust was a lot better this time having left it in the oven a bit longer after baking.

Overall, very pleased indeed. I will be making mille crêpes cake next weekend and I CANNOT wait. It's been sitting on my to-bake list for WAY too long and it's about time for it to be ticked off. :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

White bread

Lately I have been experimenting with white bread and personally I enjoy a good loaf of crusty bread. 

Whilst the process of bread making is absolutely enjoyable it is an art that I have yet to fully understand let alone master it. It seems the key to bread making is the ability to judge the degree of gluten development and also the degree of final proofing achieved prior to baking. Anyway despite all that I still enjoyed eating my bread especially when it's lightly toasted in the oven for a few minutes. I can't wait to eat my hickory BBQ turkey sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. :)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Baking Disaster

It seems that it's human nature to want to showcase positive results in whatever they do. For example the research articles published in renowned journals almost always show a positive finding in their experiment. That is something called the publisher's bias, or in other words, human's innate desire to show their best and hide the ugly. But much is to be learned about the occasions when things don't turn out the way we expected. I've decided to share with you the baking disaster that I just had last evening.

It was a cake meant to be for my friend's valentine surprise. For some reason I decided to bake the sponge in a tray instead of cake pans with the vision of making a modern looking square cake. It was only until I've popped it in the oven when I realised the tray was a tad too big and it ended up slanted to one side. Lopsided sponge aside, the mascarpone frosting turned out tasting great but was very much on the sloppy side. I blame it on the fact that my friend didn't want me to add more cream to it which probably would have made it stiffer for frosting the cake.

In an attempt to salvage the disastrous cake we ended up with this:

A coffin cake. For my friend's Valentine Surprise.

Perhaps not the most appropriate design for the occasion.

It looked so ridiculously ugly that I had such a good laugh just looking at it. I've never seen anything as badly 'decorated' as this and whilst embarassing it was still worth it purely for the laugh factor, at the expense of my friend's valentines gift of course. But it tasted great. And it's the taste that matters isn't it? This, coming from a person who normally thinks presentation is as important if not more so than taste.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Coffee and Walnut Cake

I was invited to a dinner party last weekend and instead of a usual bottle of wine I decided to bake this age-old classic as a gift. I used a recipe from Brendan Lynch's website but instead of a coffee cream cheese frosting I opted for a swiss meringue coffee and cinnamon buttercream.

The cake had a nice flavour to it but can probably do with a touch more coffee and cinnamon. Unfortunately the sponge was a little on the hard side and I think it could be due to the fact that I didn't have the patience to bring butter to room temperature prior to creaming it with the sugar. I enjoyed eating it nevertheless and I'd like to think my friends did too.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Post Exam Baking - Homemade Baguette and Croissants

Just had my exam two days ago and I've been dying to bake. I decided to go with the more time consuming bakes such as baguettes and croissants because trust me we hardly get so many days off in a row in medical school. I chose to make baguettes because I've been experimenting with it a few times over the last few months but I just couldn't quite get it right. They all tasted very nice but I wanted to get the ideal airy crumb texture with a crust that isn't too chewy. I decided to go with a lower hydration recipe by Hamelman this time. I think I've been way too ambitious to tackle the highest hydration dough recipe previously considering I'm a total novice to baking bread. As usual I picked the notoriously difficult one to start with, i.e; baguettes, but that's because it's my favourite bread of all.

They turned out well this time and the crumb texture in my opinion was the best I could achieve given I have no access to professional ovens.

The oven spring was moderate. I did everything I could, I sprayed the baguette prior to baking, I had a pizza stone that I heated in the oven for an hour and I poured a jug of boiling water into a preheated baking tin. All to create the all so important steam for a good oven spring and a good crust. Unfortunately my student flat oven could only reach a certain maximum temperature unlike professional ovens and it loses heat in an instant whenever the door is opened. (plus all those steam creating measures took time to perform..)

What about the crumb.

Monday, 7 January 2013

My to-bake list

Having come across a handful of baking blog owners shameless yet proudly exhibiting their to-bake list. I thought it's time for me to follow suit and proclaim to the world the things I wish to bake in the months to come as soon as I find the time to do so!

Here goes:

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Baguettes - The highs and lows

I've never been a big fan of bread. As a child growing up eating supermarket bread loaves I found them rather bland and I couldn't comprehend how 'some' people actually claimed they liked the crust which, to me tastes dry and unappealing. It was only until recently when I had a bite of the sourdough baguette at a restaurant that my opinion of bread was changed. I became an admirer of baguettes.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


It's Christmas. I was invited to a potluck Christmas lunch and it took me no time to come up with the idea of baking a yule log, or Bûche de Noël, as the French would call it. I've never made a yule log before seeing as I only started baking in February this year so this was my very first opportunity to bake for Christmas!

Friday, 21 December 2012


 Puff pastry. Yet another thing I've wanted to make for ages. I've made croissants before and I know both require the same technique of laminating a dough. I've been curious as to how one could possibly do 6 single folds without tearing the layers. This is because my experience with making croissants has taught me that three turns is about the most the dough can take without starting to get too elastic and stiff to role out (even with appropriate resting).

Anyway I went ahead and guess what it was so much easier to roll out than the croissant dough! And I did all six turns in one day without any tearing (OK, maybe just two tiny tears at one stage). Could it be due to the absence of yeast as compared to the croissant dough? Or maybe the hydration ratio? Or the fat to flour ratio? Who knows. It turned out great and I was happy.

I divided the dough into three portions and used one for my vol-au-vents. The scene of my home-made puff pastry puffing up like a balloon was a joy to watch.

I filled the baked shells with a goats cheese/Camembert mousse and topped it with a piece of oak-smoked salmon and a sprig of dill for decoration.

I chose to make them square instead of the traditional round shape simply because I prefer the neater look of square vol-au-vents. It was a bit of a pain to cut the squares out with a pizza cutter though as I didn't have any square cutters.

And just so you know, there was no soggy bottom. :)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chocolate Entremet

I first came across this cake on Youtube (one of the few sources that I gain my baking inspirations from). It's quintessentially French and is composed of many different layers of mousse, cream (Cremeux, or Crème Fondante), Croustillant/Feuilleté and sponge. The idea is to produce contrarsting textures from the creaminess of the mousse to the crispiness of the feuilleté, silkiness of the cremeux and finishing off with a  tender sponge base. All these enclosed in a rich and velvety chocolate ganache and coated with a shiny glaze.

The making of an entremet requires a methodical approach. All the layers have to be made individually prior to assembly and frozen before masking with the ganache and the final glazing with the glaçage.

The end result is this:

I have to confess that I did spend HOURS making this. The exact amount of time involved was in the range of 10 hours. Yes, 10 whole hours. Here's the rant: I only had three mixing bowls, work surface the size of an exam desk, fridge space big enough for a packet of crisps and a freezer compartment with a shape that doesn't fit my baking tray. On the other hand, I had to make the seven components of the cake separately and froze them as I went along. That meant I had to wash my mixing bowls seven times and dry them in between washes. Also the... OK I won't bore you further with my endless rant. Essentially it would have only taken me half the time had I had enough mixing bowls to make all the layers in one go and do the washing up at the very end instead of an interrupted work pattern. Extra fridge and freezer space would've helped too. The joys of being student baker who shares one tiny fridge and freeer with three other fellow students.

Surprisingly it turned out pretty close to what I had in mind:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Good old no-bake lemon cheesecake

I know I know, two entries in a row, i.e; two bakes in one weekend. A bit too much don't you think? Well it couldn't be helped since I had wanted to make the chocolate tartlets for ages and it just happened that my flatmate's birthday is on the coming Monday and he requested for a no-bake lemon cheesecake. I have a bad habit of going for the more technically challenging bakes and ignoring the simpler stuff. It was almost like a perfect excuse for me go back to the basics.

The recipe couldn't have been simpler. As always I wanted to make mine look slightly different from the ones I normally see so I decided to go with an oblong shaped lemon cheesecake instead of a round one. That was partly because I've previously bought a terrine mould that had so far been sitting there collecting dust. In simple terms, I just wanted to make myself feel less guilty for buying something that I don't even use. :)

Here's the cheesecake:

Chocolate and Raspberry Tartlets

There is something about working with pastry that always makes me feel relaxed and calm. Could it be the gentle process of rubbing butter into the flour until it resembles fine sand? Or perhaps it's the noble thought of myself making my own pastry instead of taking the shortcut by going shop-bought? Whatever it is I decided a week ago that I was going make some tartlets. I have been telling everyone in the hospital about my plan for the weekend and I simply couldn't decide between chocolate and raspberry tartlets or go with the strawberry ones.

I ended up choosing the former simply because chocolate and winter, sorry, I mean the Great British Autumn, always seem to be the perfect combination. Although strawberries are strictly speaking not in season it amazes me how the supermarkets never fail to put them up on the shelves even in the coldest months of the year.

Enough background, here are the tartlets I made last weekend:

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Retrospective entry:

Scotland - Inverness  (July 2012, Summer)

Having rested for a few days after our trip to London, my mum and I were off traveling again. This time, it's the highlands. First stop, Inverness.

The weather in Inverness was gloomy and drizzling when we arrived at the airport. Not the best start one might think. That said there's something about the Scottish accent that always cheers me up and the local people were just so friendly!

We took the bus as advised by our B&B owner and it didn't take long for us to find our B&B. It was that evening when we had the best meal throughout our journey in Scotland, in an Irish pub. I am aware of the inappropriateness of dining in an Irish pub while in Scotland but I guess the food speaks louder than anything and even after trying a few other restaurants we ended up going back to the same pub on the last day.

                                                        Roast Pork Loin

Flowers in a Basket

The last weekend was manic. First of all my placement in Somerset has come to an end and as with any placement, it meant I had deadlines to meet. The presentation went well in my opinion, and I don’t think I could’ve done anything differently. I was glad that I went with a Sexual Health topic since no one could ever get bored of it. Presentation sorted, I still had to finish off my portfolio which was due on the coming Monday. If that wasn’t enough I was also hosting a tea party for my belated birthday since I wasn’t in Bristol to celebrate with my mates two weeks back.

I came across the whipped cream cake during my usual aimless procrastination search for baking inspirations while revising for Obs and Gynae. I’m sure you’d agree me that the cake itself sounds so absolutely delicious. Strangely I had never heard of it prior to that and its recipe wasn’t particularly popular on the internet either. Being adventurous as always I decided to give it go and this is what I ended up with:

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Retrospective entry:

London: July 2012, Summer

It’s finally summer, the only time when students are truly allowed to relax and not have exams to worry about. I was extremely pleased to have my mum come ever to me and we went on to travel for a bit in the UK. Our first stop was London. It was a trip to re-ignite the nostalgic memories for my mum as she used to be a Londoner. Other than a few trips down memory lane I insisted to bring my mum to Cote Brasserie, where I have had impressive baguettes before, although that was at a different branch. Lunch turned out fairly good but the baguette wasn’t as good as the ones I remember, with bits of tough crusts. That said, at the price of about 15 quid for a two course meal it was well worth it in our opinion.

Calamari Rings

Some sort of paté but I can't remember it anymore

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Croissants, yet again

I believe there are things that one can never quite get fed up with. One of which is a good croissant. Here I am, stranded in a small town that I'm currently placed in. Feeling sorry for myself I decided to bake something, although I practically had nothing to work with, not even a baking tray! That meant I needed to forget about anything to do with cakes and patisseries. It wasn't long before I thought of making a laminated dough, and croissants sprang to mind. Partly due to the fact that my mum has been churning batches after batches of croissants lately back home. Secondly bread/viennoiserie making in general don't require fancy equipments. I just had to get my hands on a baking tray, a rolling pin, parchment paper and cling film. Plus the ingredients are simple enough: flour, yeast, butter, sugar, salt and milk. And it just happened that my flatmate's got a weighing scale too.

The rolling and folding process was extremely therapeutic, it's been more than 2 months since I last made croissants after all. Unfortunately I did have to experiment a few times with the tiniest oven I've ever seen before I got it about right.

Things I've done differently this time:

1. I made these croissants in two days instead of 3. In fact I could have done it in one full day. I prepared the dough, chilled for 4 hours, did the first and second turn, chilled it for an hour and did the third turn. On the second day I simply rolled it out, shaped the croissants and proofed them.
2. I simply left the croissants to proof on the kitchen surface loosely covered with a carrier bag and they proved very well after 2 hours. There was no need to proof it at warmer temperature and the dry air didn't seem to affect it at all.
3. Tried proofing my croissants slowly overnight. Don't even try! It doesn't work, I ended up with saggy over-proofed croissants. 

While I was asking the supermarket assistant for instant yeast he unexpectedly brought with him a staff who works in the bakery and offered me fresh yeast! I have no idea for whatever reason it was so unexpected that I actually said no to that. Silly me. I could have just asked for some and do the conversion of instant yeast to fresh yeast later. But I'm never good at thinking on my feet so I turned down the offer and told him I wasn't familiar with fresh yeast so I'd rather go for the dried version.  Did I mention he offered the fresh yeast to me for free as well?

Anyway I've got over that. At least now that I know where to get hold of fresh yeast I can always go back to ask for some. Not sure what difference it'd make with the use of fresh yeast though?


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Red Velvet #2

So the medics society has organised a bake off to amass enough cakes to feed the first years. In return the medic bakers are in for a chance to win a top prize of 50 pounds. Frankly I have always wanted to take part in a baking competition of some sort and I have been shamefully spending hours thinking of how I was going to decorate my cake. I knew I wanted to bake a red velvet cake since that's the best cake I've ever made and is a family favourite. The issue was to decorate it in a way that's pleasing to the eye as well as to the taste buds.

In the end I decided to pipe some rose swirls using the cream cheese frosting on the sides and decorate the top with some macarons.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

An update

It's been a while since I posted anything after my red velvet cake. The last week has been absolutely manic. A journey back to the UK took me almost 24 hours. I had a cold throughout that journey. My term started the day after I arrived with lectures from 8 to 5. On top of that I just found out that my results this year will contribute the most to my degree's final classification. Did I mention the pressure? If that's not enough I was greeted by a broken oven door on the first day back in my flat.

But I do believe there's a silver lining to every cloud. At least I'm now back on my proper degree and I'm currently learning about some very interesting subjects (hint: women and babies). On top of that my landlord has allowed me to use her oven (which is a million times better than the other standard student flat oven) while she tries to either fix the oven or get a new one. The temptation now is for me to bake some of the croissants that I've made and frozen much earlier in June before I left the country. Should be interesting since my landlord's got a fan oven which should theoretically allow my croissants to bake more evenly. I will, however be on placement somewhere 2 hours away from where I currently live and so it'll be a while before I do any serious baking.

While I was at home during summer I managed to bake a chocolate and caramel cake, which I (at that time) thought was too ugly to be taken picture of, which in hindsight I regret. I also made more croissants few days before I left home and they were very well received, which is always a good ego boost. :D

Anyway here are the pictures:

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Red Velvet Cake

It's been ages since I last updated. Come to think of it my last update was more than a month ago! I have been traveling quite extensively in the UK with my mum followed by visits to my friend and grandma in my home country before I came home. Being on term break and at home has allowed me to venture into my very long to-bake list and get one ticked. I suppose anyone who has seen a red velvet cake would never forget its strikingly red appearance. I'm no exception.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Gateau Opéra

I can't quite remember when was the first time I heard of this French classic. What I do remember is the first time I saw it on a TV show (MKR Australia) where it was so beautifully presented and just blew me away. And that's also when I finally decided to re-create those beautiful slices of gateau that I saw on TV. But this is no ordinary gateau, it has quite a few elements to it which have to be prepared separately and assembled towards the end.

Gateau opera, in a nutshell, is a chocolate and coffee cake. It consists of three main components: A joconde sponge, or almond sponge, layers of coffee buttercream and a rich and velvety chocolate ganache. I do find myself to be quite particular about how the things I bake look on the plate these days and what I always do is a quick google image search to find some inspiration. Sadly 90% of what I saw (or more) simply did not fascinate me. And having spent some time researching the recipes, I decided to change the recipe slightly in an attempt to produce a better looking cake. Normally, the recipe would require a coffee syrup to be brushed onto the sponge layers but I find that doing this would produce a sort of dirty looking sponge due to the colour from the coffee powder. I substituted the coffee powder with rum instead, which in my opinion never goes wrong with chocolate anyway, and best of all it's colourless so I could preserve the natural golden colour of the sponge. The second thing that I changed was the flavour of the chocolate ganache, if you've read my previous entries you'd have known that I am now a big fan of earl grey and chocolate, and so I decided to add some depth of flavour to my ganache by infusing the cream with some earl grey. Lastly, most recipes call for the use of chocolate ganache (same thing used in the layering of the cake) for the top. Being particular about presentation as always, I decided to go with a more glossy chocolate glacage instead. That way I would get a better finish and produce a shiny surface at the top, like this:

This was also my first time piping words and drawing treble clefts on a cake. Some turned out better than the other.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Croissant Recipe

Be warned: This is a very long recipe. Recipe by Hamelman.

Makes 24 croissants

A)     Detrempe:

12 g dried/instant yeast
140ml cold whole milk
140ml cold water
42g melted unsalted butter, cooled to room temperature
504g plain/ all purpose flour
12g salt
80g caster sugar

B)      Butter block  - 280g

C)      Egg wash – One large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

Sunday, 17 June 2012


I don't know if it's pure chance or a hidden character of mine to pick on the difficult options when I start doing something for the very first time. I picked macarons when I first started baking seriously back in February and now I have chosen croissants as my first challenge for 'bread' making, or viennoiseries , specifically. In this occasion, though, a big driving factor was the fact that a loved one of mine loves to eat croissants.

The whole process of making laminated dough like croissant dough appeared daunting to me when I first looked into the recipe. I had never made bread before in my life and I had absolutely no idea how proofing works or how to roll a bread dough. My only experience of rolling a pastry was with the shortcrust pastry that I made for the lemon tartlettes.

The results: Failed two times and got third time lucky. :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Macarons, take three.

Did I say I'm just a teeny bit obsessed with making macarons? Macarons and I have come a long way. I have baked these sandwiched french almond cookies for more times than anything else. Having said that majority of my previous attempts employed the french meringue method, which I now find inferior to the italian meringue method. I tried out the italian meringue method once before (see my other entry) and have since become a convert. A friend of mine invited me over for dinner tonight and there I thought 'Here comes the opportunity to put my macaron baking obsession to good use'. I personally think that macarons make a great gift for any occasion and look fairly impressive as well. I also wanted to seize this opportunity to re-create the flavours of the macarons that I had at Pierre Herme's london outlet that totally blew me away; the milk chocolate and earl grey ganache and rose-jasmine white chocolate ganache. I didn't have any rose essence lying around so I turned it into a pure jasmine white chocolate ganache instead.

As always, I could not resist snapping pictures of my baked products:

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lemon Tartlettes

It's been about a week since I last baked. I made a trip to London to visit a friend earlier this week and gained lots of baking inspiration. My friends and I made trips to Laduree and Pierre Herme's london outlets and even visited Le Cordon Bleu's London campus. The quiche lorraine that I had at their cafe was excellent! I was also fortunate enough to have tried Pierre Herme's Rose and Jasmine macaron and I liked the earl grey infused chocolate macaron too! It's just a matter of time before I try to re-create those flavours myself. I also bought a book by Michel Roux on pastry from Harrods at a tenner. There's simply so much I want to bake and fortunately I've got the next few weeks all to myself so the oven will be my best mate for a while.

I've wanted to make lemon tartlettes even before I finished my exam in May. I like the fragrance of lemons but what I like even more was to use a blowtorch to make burn marks on meringues. :) Being a beginner in baking I had practically none of the equipments required, no tart tins, no blowtorch. I suppose baking can be a very expensive hobby especially at this early stage, but I see this as an investment provided I take good care of all my baking utensils.

The result:

Monday, 28 May 2012

Macarons, Italian Meringue Method

I must say that having made macarons quite a few times before I am now more keen to bake something new, something I've never made before. However the thought of having more than 100g of egg whites sitting in my fridge from the making of creme patissiere and creme caramel just doesn't sit well with me. The fact that they're 'aged', i.e; left in the fridge for a few days, worries me even more as it's a fine line between aged egg whites and their rotten cousin. And so I decided to make some macarons, since aged egg whites are perfect for the recipe. In an attempt to learn something new, I (finally) decided to have a crack at the Italian meringue method, which most professional pastry chefs use and widely acclaimed to be superior to the French meringue method, which I had been using all this while. The reason I avoided the Italian meringue was because it requires a syrup to be made and brought to 118C and pouring it into the half whipped meringue to produce a cooked meringue prior to incorporation into the dry ingredients. This method is ideal for someone who owns a stand mixer as it means you could multi-task more easily, since the meringue has to be whipped to soft peaks while the syrup is cooking (for which you have the measure the temperature). Anyway with God's grace I somehow pulled it off. And I must say I'm now an Italian meringue convert. :)