Honey Apple Pie

Honey apple pie

There is just something about the smell of warm apples + hot butter during a cold, very windy and extremely wet wintery day. It’s my first try – this lattice apple pie with a twist – and as it bakes, I can just fall in love with the smells permeating my little studio apartment.

Again, all ingredients listed here are in estimated quantities – my kitchen equipment have yet to leave Malaysia. O’well…

Honey Apple Pie

Ingredients
(A) Filling
5 medium sized apples (in this case, I used Pinova Apples)
Some salt water to prevent the apples from browning
Two heaped tablespoons of honey

(B) Pastry (all measurements stated are approximates)
200gms flour
150gms butter
Ice cold water + 1 heaped teaspoon of honey (mix well)

Method

  1. Wrap the butter in aluminum foil and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Prepare the flour in a separate mixing bowl. Using a grater, coarsely grate the butter (the aluminum foil will help keep the butter from melting) into the flour mix.
  3. Using a spoon or spatula, gently coat scraped butter with the flour. Do ensure that all the butter is coated before adding the honey water.
  4. Mix the ingredients using the spoon/spatula well – the dough is ready when there is no more excess flour or butter sticking to the bowl. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit more honey water. If it is too wet, toss in a bit more flour.
  5. Wrap the dough in cling foil and place in a fridge for 10 to 30 minutes.
  6. Prepare filling by peeling, then thinly slicing the apples. Soak the slices in salt water for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Drain apples and then toss in the honey; mix well and put aside.
  8. Once the dough hardens, using a rolling pin, flatten and roll out the dough into a large circle. Place on top of pastry dish and cut away the excess dough.
  9. Arrange the apples accordingly (it’s really up to you) and then layer off some excess dough in a lattice form.
  10. Once done, brush the lattice surface briefly with honey and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 170 C and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
  11. Serve fresh from the oven with ice cream or on its own.
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Tuna pastries

Tuna pastry

Nil had been hankering for some baked stuff that he could bring to work and I thought it would be nice to have him munch on some pastries – a switch from the fried rice, wraps and other stuff I’ve made for him for lunch these past few days.

These were done with the most basic of items and on pure estimation – a lot of my measurement tools are still being shipped over; yes, no measuring cups and weighing scale! So the pastry bit is kind of iffy…actually the whole recipe is iffy!!!

😆

Tuna with mushroom & onion in flaky pastry

Ingredients
(A) Filling
One can of white tuna flakes in oil
A medium sized onion (large if you like onions; smaller if you don’t fancy them) – diced
A good handful of white mushrooms* – sliced

(B) Pastry (all measurements stated are approximates)
200gms flour
150gms butter
1 tsp salt
Ice cold water
1 egg (for glazing and sealing)

* You can use button mushrooms from the can if you can’t find fresh white/button mushrooms.

Method

  1. Wrap the butter in aluminum foil and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Prepare filling by draining tuna oil into a frying pan and saute onions on a medium heat until soft.
  3. Toss in mushrooms and stir fry for approximately three minutes. Add some water if you prefer the filling to be slightly wet (I added about three tablespoons of water).
  4. Toss in tuna flakes and stir fry for about two to three minutes. Turn off fire and put aside.
  5. Mix the flour and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Using a grater, coarsely grate the butter (the aluminum foil will help keep the butter from melting) into the flour mix.
  6. Using a spoon or spatula, gently coat scraped butter with the flour. Do ensure that all the butter is coated before adding the water.
  7. Mix the ingredients using the spoon/spatula well – the dough is ready when there is no more excess flour or butter sticking to the bowl. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit more water. If it is too wet, toss in a bit more flour.
  8. Wrap the dough in cling foil and place in a fridge for 10 to 30 minutes. Beat one egg in another separate bowl.
  9. Once the dough hardens, using a rolling pin, flatten and roll out the dough into desired shapes.
  10. Place some of the filling onto the dough and brush the edges with egg to seal the pastry.
  11. Once done, brush the surfaces with beaten egg and using a pair of scissors, cut some “slashes” on the surface to allow air to escape (and for decoration).
  12. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Serve hot!
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The wedding cake – Part III

A slice of tangy traditional fruitcake goodness!

Sometimes I have a love-hate relationship with baking. You see, I can never stick to a recipe and follow it to the T. I make modifications here and there, choosing to add a bit of this and a bit of that…it all depends on my mood really. Sometimes it turns out great, other times it’s just so-so.

This time, it turned out just fine…fine enough to become a wedding cake. The recipe is as per below:

Fruitcake

Ingredients
750gms mixed fruits
100gms green glaced cherries – quartered
70gms dried apricots – chopped
300gms mixed nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, macadamias) – chopped coarsely
30gms mixed peel – chopped

150gms strawberry jam
2 tbsp honey
1 cup brandy

50gms plain flour, sifted
250gms butter
125gms soft brown sugar
1/2 tbsp dark treacle
2 tsp vanilla essense
5 egg yolks

Combine and sift:
175gms plain flour
75gms self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

5 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
50gms castor sugar

Method

  1. Combine fruits and nuts in a container. Add jam, honey and brandy, and mix well.
  2. Cover and allow to sit for at least 7 days. Stir the mixture with a clean & dry wooden spoon every day.
  3. Before use, add 50gms plain flour to prevent the fruits & nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
  4. Grease a deep 10″ round cake tin with butter and line the bottom of the pan with 3 layers of baking paper.
  5. Wrap the outside of the tine with brown paper and secure well. This is to prevent 1) the edges from cooking too quickly, and 2) the top to curve over (dome shaped).
  6. Mix the butter and sugar until well-combined. Then cream the mixture with essence and treacle until pale and light.
  7. Add the egg yolks one at a time and ensure that they are mixed well after each addition.
  8. Add creamed mixture into the fruit & nut mixture by hand and mix well.
  9. Fold in the sifted flour and mix evenly.
  10. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form and gradually add sugar (1 tbsp at a time). Continue beating until it forms a meringue. All utensils must be free of fat (butter, shortening, oil, etc) otherwise the meringue will not form. You’ll know when it’s a meringue if you turn the bowl over and it doesn’t dribble out. The key is to look out for stiff peaks!
  11. Fold the meringue into your batter and mix thoroughly. Remember to be gentle as meringue is fluffy (due to all that incorporated air) so you don’t want to “deflate” it.
  12. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, level evenly and bake in a preheated oven at 150 C for 1 hour. Do place a pan of water at the bottom of the oven to keep the cake moist.
  13. Lower temperature to 140 C and continue to bake for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. In the last hour, remove the pan of water.
  14. Once removed from the oven, brush the top evenly with either brandy or apricot glaze, and wrap up the entire cake with a clean tea-towel.
  15. Leave to cool for approximately 1 hour. Remove, turn out cake, remove lining paper and wrap with foil.
  16. Store the cake in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 months.
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Marinated pan-fried mackerel in spicy sauce

Marinated pan-fried mackerel in spicy sauce

I don’t really know what made me decide to cook today’s main lunch dish. The packing had tired me out, my parents are great cooks and well, I’m always insecure when it comes to cooking for them. But surprisingly, they liked this…and so did I.

Marinated pan-fried mackerel in spicy sauce
Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients
6 medium to small whole mackerel fish
Some oil (for pan frying)
Ground nut brittle for garnishing

(A) Marinate
Kaffir lime leaves + stem
Thai basil leaves + stem
Mint leaves + stem
Coarse black pepper
Salt

B) Sauce
Shrimp sambal*
Sambal belacan*
Approx 2 to 4 tablespoons of water

* These were premade and stored in the freezer/fridge.

Method

  1. Clean each fish, leaving the head and tail intact. Marinate with pepper and salt.
  2. Crush and stuff the leaves into the belly of the fish. Crush and tear some kaffir lime leaves, and rub it all over the fish.
  3. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or preferably overnight to several days (in the freezer).
  4. When preparing this dish, take the fish out to thaw (if it has been sitting in the freezer) and/or dry with a paper towel (if it’s straight from the refrigerator).
  5. Heat the work with a medium to high fire and drizzle some oil to prevent the fish from sticking. When the wok begins to smoke, place the pieces of fish on its side and cover the wok.
  6. Turn down the wok to a medium fire and allow the fish to cook (wok remains covered) for approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Gently flip the fish onto its other side and cover the wok again for 5 minutes.
  8. When the fish is done*, remove and put aside in a shallow dish.
  9. To prepare the sauce, dump all of ingredients (B) and fry on a medium-low fire until fragrant.
  10. Turn off the flame and spread over the fish.
  11. Sprinkle the ground nut brittle over and serve.

* To see if a fish is fully cooked, take a fork and pierce the thickest part of the flesh. Twist the fork gently. If the meat flakes, the fish is cook.

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Cranberry poppy seed cake

Cranberry poppy seed goodies!

The cranberry is my new craze after oranges and lemon. If you’ve been following my blog, I have this love affair with these citrus babies and strawberries but after discovering dried cranberries at Chang Tung in Taman Megah, you could say that the cranberry is like how pink is the new black. I simply love the sour-sweet taste of these pink goodies!

Do note that the poppy seed used is of the blue poppy seed variety which is nonaddictive and not the same as the opium strain.

Recipe was obtained from BBC’s 101 Cakes and Cookies and adjusted to accomodate 1) cranberries; 2) a generous sprinkle of finely chopped almonds; and 3) the use of milk instead of yoghurt.

Cranberry poppy seed cake
9 oz self-raising flour
6 1/2 oz unsalted butter
5 3/4 oz caster sugar
5 1/2 tablespoon full cream milk
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon orange juice
1 cup dried cranberries – roughly chopped
1 oz blue poppy seed
Rind from 2 oranges
Generous sprinkle of finely chopped almonds

What to do:

  1. Prebake oven at 150 C and grease an 8″ deep round tin.
  2. Sift flour and mix in finely chopped almonds, poppyseed and orange rind.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and smooth. Add in eggs one at a time and orange juice.
  4. Mix in the combination of flour, almonds, poppyseed and orange rind into creamed butter mix until just blended.
  5. Fold in chopped cranberries and pour into greased pan.
  6. Bake at 150 C for 45 to 50 minutes until surface is golden brown and cake tester/stick comes out clean.

I’m actually quite pleased with the outcome. The cake turned out looking exactly like it was supposed to in the photos and the subsitutions worked to perfection! It was just right – orangey, moist and not too sweet. Wonderful when warm (works great with vanilla ice cream if you ask me!) and just as nice when cold!

Now onto the frosting bit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Strawberry shortbread

Lovey strawberries, anyone?

It has always been either orange or lemon shortbread. Since I was toying with the idea of sending some sweet hearts over to France for Valentine’s Day, I decided to try my hand at using some strawberries instead for that sweet, nearly pink touch.

I changed the recipe to accomodate 1) the extra fluids from the finely diced and mashed strawberries; 2) the use of a different type of flour and finally 3) the absence of regular granulated sugar. I suppose you could say that this shortbread come about with the use of whatever I had at hand.

Strawberry shortbread
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 cup of superfine flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup corn flour
pinch of salt
5 small strawberries (half mashed, half finely diced)
Flour for sprinkling

What to do:

  1. Sift flours and salt.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and smooth. Add in mashed and finely diced strawberries together with sifted flour. Mix all until just blended.
  3. Refrigerate until firm (about half an hour).
  4. Cut and roll dough into desired shapes. Bake at 180 C until edges are very light gold (approximately 15 to 20 mins).

The outcome was pretty fine – nothing overpowering and tinged with some sprinkle of red here and there. The dough was hardly pink and it is good to keep it that way. Too pink and you lose the added touch that comes from the diced strawberries peaking out from the surface. Taste-wise, it was very buttery, crumbly and chewy – it has to be the strawberries!

Now the question is this: do I still want to decorate them with thin slivers of pinkish icing?

Starry starry strawberries...

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(Nutmeg) Ginger cookies snaps

(Nutmeg) Ginger goodness!

Initially I was thinking of making ginger snaps for Chinese New Year but somewhere, somehow along the way, I ended up with dough that was too soft to be rolled out and cut into shapes. After analyzing the recipe, I realised that I was making ginger cookies with a somewhat gingerbread-like recipe/consistency instead. Oh woe to me for failing to decide on the “right” recipe before starting it.

Ginger snaps are somewhat harder when cool and are to be rolled out and cut whereas the recipe I used called for rolling the dough into balls and then flattening them out on the pan – molded cookies, if you will.

(Nutmeg) Ginger cookies snaps
Makes 36 (actually more!)

2 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose flour will do)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup margarine, room temp
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup molasses (or dark treacle)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 – 1/3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do:

  1. Cream 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter and margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg and continue beating until blended well. Add molasses.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients three times and stir in butter mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat over to 160-180 C. Line pans with wax paper/baking paper.
  4. Place the remaining sugar in a shallow dish. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and roll balls in the sugar to coat.
  5. Place the balls two inches apart on the prepared sheets and flatten slightly.
  6. Bake till golden around the edges but soft in the middle, 12-15 minutes. Let cookies stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a rake to cool.

Adding dark sticky treacle! Treacle + butter swirls

I totally botched the last step, choosing instead to bake cookies for 15 minutes and NOT letting them stand – just took them out to cool.

Since it has been ages since I last made anything from scratch, I fumbled around and made a few errors changes, namely added 1 to 1/3 teaspoons of nutmeg instead of 1/2 teaspoon as called for in the recipe (hence the weird title) AND dumping in 1 cup of sugar instead of 1/2 cup first (I did scoop up the additional 1/2 cup before creaming it with the butter). Well, I should get used to this since I’ll be making orange-strawberry shortbread checks as well.

Frankly, I was a little nervous. It’s my first time making cookies with anything else but fruit and flavouring. All sorts of things ran through my mind – would it have enough of that gingery taste? Would the overkill of nutmeg totally ruin my dough? Will it be too sweet? Would the treacle make it taste awfully weird?

It turned out to be just fine; a little chewy when warm but oh-so-snappish when cool. The additional nutmeg added a unique touch to an otherwise gingery snap so no complaints there. Thank goodness my experimentations (mistake or otherwise) never fail me! While the aroma is fantastic for the house, I found the cookies a little too sweet for my liking because of the amount of sugar required for rolling those sticky little balls around even though I nearly replaced all white sugar with light brown sugar which is less sweeter. So will definitely have to make a note somewhere to cut out that bit that says “roll balls in sugar”.

I’m still wondering if I should ship off some to Nil – need to find a sturdy-enough yet airtight container that won’t break. We’ll see how it goes. Now it’s off to finish off some knitting!

Oh so snappish!

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Orange Cheesecake

Butter and digestive biscuits for the base Crushing the biscuits Butter well of biscuits Mixing them all

Orange Cheesecake

250 g digestive biscuits (actually you can use 200 g of biscuits and 50 g of cornflakes)
140 g butter (salted or otherwise)
500 g cream cheese (cubed first before mixing)
300 ml whipped cream or regular cream
Orange rind from 1 Valencia Sunkist orange
Orange juice from 1 navel orange and half of a Valencia Sunkist orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 water
1 tablespoon gelatin (unflavoured)
2 teaspoon brandy/cooking wine/orange liqueur

What to do:

  1. Finely crushed biscuits, add melted butter and press into a 8 inch pan (or any pan of your choice). I used a shallow pan because I don’t like to have too much cheese in my cheesecakes and thus, ended up with two pans of cakes.
  2. Refrigerate until base becomes hard.
  3. Beat whipped cream until soft peaks form. I’d suggest this AFTER you are done with your cream cheese and such. I did it first and my whipped cream started bleeding (I got a bit of water coming out of my cream – normal if you let it sit after beating).
  4. Beat cream cheese, rind, juice, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the batter looks smooth and creamy. I added a bit (maybe a quater) of the orange pulp while squeezing out the juice. I think it gives the filling a little bit of colour and texture.
  5. Fold in cream until it’s well mixed.
  6. Add gelatin to the water (make sure that the water is boiled) and stir until it dissolves. Leave aside to cool. This can be done while you are busy making the cream cheese mix.
  7. Spoon in brandy/cooking wine/liqueur and add gelatin. Mix well.
  8. Pour into the pan and refrigerate for at least six hours. Overnight is best.
  9. When serving, use anything you wish as a garnish. I plan to use sliced oranges.

The biscuity base Whipping the cream The filling, all done and ready Assembled and in the fridge

The original recipe called for less orange juice and more liqueur but I sort of felt that it could be a bit tad over-powering. Parents had a go tasting the filling and found it orangey enough to be passed off as an orange cheesecake.

The gelatine bit worries me. My previous attempts at making cheesecake involved baking so I’m rather unfamiliar with this product. Hopefully, it’ll turn out just fine – am planning to check on it tonight.

It was a little chaotic in the kitchen while I was beating the cream and making the filling. Hence the lack of pictures during that process. So, unless you’re a pro, have everything prepared before you start mixing stuff except for the orange juice which has to be squeezed out fresh (like with all fruit juices that you intend to use in cake-making recipes). Same thing with the rind.

[EDIT: On a side note, I ought to get a springform pan – just took a look at the cake and while it looks kinda cute, the cake when removed from baking paper has this “homemade” look to it. Gah.]

Ah…baking…now if only Nil was here to finish off the leftover filling. ^.^

The finished cake An orange slice

ps: This recipe is a combination of this and this. 😀

pps: Oh, the rating above is given after considerations on difficulty level, availability of ingredients and overall fun.

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