Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Death by pancakes

I don't know what the worst pancakes ever are, but I might have ventured close to that field today.

Remember the time I tried making pancakes without a recipe at Adel's house? Those were made of milk and flour. I tried that again today by getting a big bowl, pouring in the remaining milk we have at home, spooning in an unknown amount of whole wheat flour, cracking in an egg, putting in some sugar, and two tablespoons of baking powder, in hope that they'd fluff up in the pan.

Oh, and I put in three crushed Oreos as well.

I swear, I buttered the frying pan, but the first pancake – I don't even know what that was, other  than something like a grey and squishy heap of scrambled eggs.

There are no pictures in this post. I couldn't bring myself to digitally record today's pancake "adventure".

I swapped to a non-stick pan, and the pancakes turned out as one flat piece...

... of grey rubber.

That was literally what it felt and looked like. The oreo biscuits 'dissolved' into the batter, turning it grey, plus the whole wheat flour made everything brown, so we have the two least vibrant colours in the world plus a bad texture, in a circular shape – that's nothing too far from a rubber disk.

To make myself feel better about the pancakes, I sprinkled chocolate chips on top of each pancake while it was in the pan, so that I can say, "these pancakes are bad but hey look there are chocolate chips in them," which I did, to my mum and brother.

They were edible, but I think I'm going to stick to recipe the next time I try to make pancakes.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

More baking ensues

... and this time I have another go at the Maple and Pecan Pie, as well as a Greek Honey Pie, or Melópita.

I did the pecan pie again because my brother who comes home on weekends wanted to have a slice, but there was no way I could have kept it for a whole week without finishing it.

This time, my mum told me that the pure maple syrup was out of bounds, (it's expensive) so I had to resort to the cheap old maple-flavoured syrup. It didn't taste as good and maple-y, but it's a maple and pecan pie, which still tastes good no matter what happens to it, so hey.

My my, that is one ugly pie

In this round, disaster happened. Trying to improve my pie, I went ahead and toasted the pecans prior to baking, placing them on the topmost rack in the roaster oven. They quickly burnt and I ended up scraping the blackness off each nut! That made the nuts edible, but there was still a burnt taste. It was a moment of despair, as pecan nuts are expensive in Singapore, and my mum never hesitates to remind me of the fact. Either way, I finished the last bit of pecan which has become part of the pie. And that pie was good.

You're welcome for the foodporn

The texture was less runny, maybe because the syrup used was thicker, and I had it in the oven for a long time. The shortcrust pastry was crumbly and annoying, so I'm going to intensely study this video of Gordon Ramsay bouncing on his toes like he's on crack while demonstrating the correct way to make a shortcrust pastry pie shell.

I put the pecan pie aside and worked on the 'honey pie' recipe I found on foodgawker, which looked relatively simple and interesting, so I tried it.

Adapted from cookmegreek.


4 medium-sized ramekins

250g soft ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese if you're on a budget)
65g honey
2 eggs
~ ⅓ tbsp corn flour
Tiny pinch of salt
Drop of vanilla

more honey and cinnamon to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a bowl mix all ingredients with a whisk wire or just a fork, until completely incorporated.
Butter the insides of the ramekins, and pour mixture evenly into each one.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
Serve Melópita warm or at room temperature drizzled with honey and dusted with cinnamon.

To be honest the outcome tasted just like mini regular baked cheesecakes to me. I might experiment more with this recipe... maybe it needs a little more honey or something, to have it actually taste like a honey pie rather than just plain old cheesecake. The cinnamon and honey toppings do switch it up a bit, so I recommend having those on top. Even if you don't like cinnamon. Put it on, so that it tastes exotic and different, at the very least.

That's it for the amateur baking disaster report and just remember: do not toast nuts on the topmost rack of the toaster oven. Do not toast anything on the topmost rack of the toaster oven. Do not even put the rack on the topmost shelf of the toaster oven. But yes you can still use the toaster oven.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Maple and pecan pie

Ironically, it's been raining at least once a day since I landed in Singapore. Today was one of those days, where the rain poured angrily and I felt like staying on my bed all Sunday, but no, Faye, you need to get your butt off the mattress and do something useful.

Because I'm doing so much baking, I'm making my portions smaller, so instead of the usual 9-inch wide pies, I did a 6-inch maple and pecan pie. There are variations of this with corn syrup, but I had maple syrup at home, so I went for it. Here are the ingredients, as well as the things you should and shouldn't do, which I probably did.

This recipe is for those of you who do not happen to own a 9-inch pie dish / has a parent who is concerned about the amount of space it would take up in a refrigerator or pantry / are afraid to screw it up and end up wasting those pecans and maple syrup.


Pie shell:
  • 2 oz softened butter
  • 10 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cold water (i just put a cup of water into the freezer for 15-30 minutes)
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 eggs (I'm sorry. For the second egg, break it into a separate bowl and gently mix it, then use half of it)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted/softened butter (If you're in Singapore, just cube the butter and it should be soft in no time)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 oz pecan pieces, roughly chopped (or you could keep them intact, and place them on the top, because they'll float up eventually anyway)
Like this. It's taken off wikipedia, so stop comparing.


Preheat oven to 175°C and place rack at lowest position.
For the shortcrust pastry shell, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, then add the butter. Using either a fork or your hands, mix the ingredients well. Do it for a really long time, some sort of dough should be forming. If it doesn't, add a tablespoon of cold water, and not more. Once there is a well-mixed dough, flatten it out on a 6-inch pie dish, making sure there are no thin parts, especially on the bottom, or else the filling will leak. Also be sure to bring the pastry up on the sides, to the level of the dish. Put this into the freezer for 30 minutes, (after that, remove and let it thaw for 5 minutes before filling it) whilst you make the filling.
In a large bowl (or one with an attached mixer), beat the eggs. Add maple syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix well and stir in pecans. (or not, if you are planning to place them on top) Pour into prepared pie shell. (Now, if you want, you can perform your fancy pecan-decorating by carefully placing the pecan nuts on top of the filling) Carefully put it in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and the filling is set.

If you peer inside the oven towards the end, and you see your filling puffing up like a raging balloon, and this is your first time baking this sort of thing, do not have a mini heart-attack, it will settle once you take it out of the oven. If you want to remove the pie from the dish, let it cool for about 20 minutes on a rack before attempting to remove.

Guys, bear in mind that this is a recipe of what I did in the kitchen this afternoon. There are some other recipes for the same dish out there with a lower risk factor, which I recommend you look up as well. Those are usually for 9-inch pie dishes, though. There are several tips such as blind-baking (baking the pie shell alone without filling) the pie shell for a while, and some recipes suggest cooking the filling first.

Look at how runny and gooey mine became. The taste was absolutely delightful, though. I don't think you can mess anything up when it comes to a maple and pecan combination!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

I bake at last

What is that?

Is that my oven?

Is that something in the oven?

Is that something I made, in the oven?


I'm so happy to be back. On the first day, I slept for seven hours, so I woke up just in time for dinner, (dinner, no longer 'supper' like they say in Britain) so the only pocket of time I could find to bake was at half-past nine at night, but I took it anyway.

I made butterscotch muffins from a recipe written on a slip of paper by my mum, with mainly the ingredient list and minimal instructions copied from god-knows-where. The muffin was a regular vanilla butter muffin, and the rest was simply butterscotch sauce spread over the top. I made a mistake by using brown sugar instead of muscovado sugar, for the muffin bit. I think muscovado sugar gives a stronger, molasses-ey taste, but brown sugar works too. Still tasted great!

And then the butterscotch decided to throw me in a corner and tell me what a wannabe baker I am.

The last time I tried cooking sugar, I was making creme caramel (a.k.a flan) and, although I got the caramel without burning it, majority of it hardened in the ramekins and the pan. Why? I still have no clue.

I made butterscotch by mixing and heating golden syrup, butter and sugar. Then I left it on the stove while waiting for the muffins in the oven. Then the butterscotch became all weird when I stirred it. It turned into what looked like toffee worms swimming in a pool of oil. I have no idea what happened, could someone please enlighten me.

Anyway, I salvaged what I could, and managed to yank some of the hardened butterscotch onto my muffins.

Overall, the muffins tasted great, with or without butterscotch sauce, (as you can see I didn't have enough sauce for the last four muffins) and I'm happy.

Then we had some great cake from Jane's Cake Station to celebrate my brother's 19th birthday. It was a basic single-layered chocolate cake, and the texture of everything was perfect. Chocolate cream not too runny and not too firm, while the cake was moist and almost jello-like, meaning that it didn't fall into crumbs very easily. It is a cake that you can't fail to like.

Today, I baked this baby, and as my friend Chaice would say, "I feel like a proud mama duck."

It is a Finnish apple cake with cinnamon, found on my trusty recipe source, Foodgawker. It was a rainy day and I woke up at noontime, plus I didn't seem to have plans for most of the day, so why not more baking?

Here's some of the action (Apples being mixed with sugar and cinnamon)

I'm never a fan of spice, such as cinnamon, but I decided to give it a go anyway, and now I actually find the taste and smell of cinnamon quite appealing! While in the oven, the aroma filled my entire house, and I couldn't wait for the hour of baking time to be over so I could try some of that cake!

We got some beautiful cake batter here... and some kick-ass apple-arranging over there...

And some more top-quality springform pan removal... and some apple-arrangement disappointment!

The cake poofed up and rose above the apples, so the apples look like they are disappearing under a patch of quicksand. But it's fine because it tastes amazing.

Well of course it does, because if you take a look at the recipe, the amount of butter and sugar in that cake will give anyone a clogged digestive system if taken all at one go.

Here's a fossil of a quicksand victim.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Oh no, I've just discovered the new Cadbury Milk Chocolate with Oreo

This thought spilled into my head immediately when I bit into that bar of chocolate for the first time. My heart felt as heavy as a rock, and I knew that I was going to have trouble regarding self-control.

I had to go back to the newsstand a second time, because I bought the chocolate with the intention of bringing it back to Singapore for my brothers, but that didn't work out because I 'tried a little bit of it' which naturally ended up going out of hand. Anyway, the guy at the newsstand recognized me, and told me not to eat the second one, if not I'd only have the wrapper to give to my brothers.

So basically, this baby consists of chunks of Oreo cookie in some sort of white cream/chocolate covered by the classic Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate. When I first saw it, I thought, "What are they doing?" I was skeptical about it. Oreo is my life, they'd better not mess with it. 

No one has to worry because this chocolate bar is so good. There's a generous amount of Oreo in it, and the chocolatey and crunchy multi-texture is simply delightful.

Hey, nobody is going to need this function because you'll finish it all in one go. Even if you're not me.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Oreos in stuff

For the first time since coming to London, I am actually feeling sick of food. At the rate I was going at all the cookies and cakes, I didn't think it was possible for this day to finally arrive.

This sudden crisis is also due to the fact that I had an all-snack-and-no-meal Saturday. Yesterday's diet consisted of a crumpet and several chocolate digestive biscuits for breakfast, cereal bars and more biscuits for lunch, and oreo-chocolate pancakes for dinner at midnight. I didn't have anything savoury, and after the pancakes, my stomach felt extremely uncomfortable, and I really felt the need for something proper like chicken or pasta.


That was yesterday, Sunday the 2nd of December. I'm feeling fine now, after having some proper food, and I'm back to normal (i.e eating 6 10 cookies and a cup of rice pudding before dinner). Anyway, enough with making myself feel guilty. Here is what I got up to during the weekend:

My friend Adel lives with a middle-to-old-aged (let me know if anyone finds a better term for this age group, thanks) Singaporean lady who lives in a house full of high-tech gadgets and complicated kitchenware. The trashcan opens automatically when you pass your hand over it.

One of these fancy gadgets is a £500 blender. The container is made out of plastic, surprisingly, and not Swarovski crystals. Anyway, Adel has the privilege of using this blender, and likes making smoothies with it. In her world, smoothies consist of a large variety of fruits such as berries, bananas, oranges, apples and the like, blended with milk, and ice. In my world, smoothies  have to consist of crushed oreos, and, unless readily available, with harsh weather or no grocery stores in close proximity, ice cream.

So after Adel blended her gazillion species of fruits, we washed out the blender and put in 3 or 4 oreo cookies, some crushed ice, milk, whipped cream, and the secret ingredient – peanut butter. It was just a knifeful (I am creating some revolutionary, essential vocabulary over here.) but it added such a lovely touch to the drink. To top it all off, I sprayed a generous amount of whipped cream on the top, and Adel threw on a pineapple cube to turn it into a piña colada wannabe.

I do like that cup.

The oreos came in a long packet, so when we decided to make pancakes in the middle of the night, I simply couldn't waste those extra oreos, could I?

FIgure 1.1

What you can observe in Figure 1.1 is three pancakes containing chopped oreos topped with melted chocolate topped with whipped cream topped with more crushed oreos. If the topping is bothering you, here's how the pancake looks like on it own:

It looks diseased but who cares, it was a great idea.

The batter mix

I'm usually a wuss who follows recipes word-for word, as I am afraid of screwing up the outcome and wasting the ingredients to create something barely edible. This time, Adel said that she usually made pancakes without a recipe, and I decided to go with it as well. I'd made pancakes before, so I knew how the batter should look and how the frying should go.

We added milk to flour until it was liquidy and creamy, and I put in chopped oreos while Adel added cinnamon powder to hers. Then all we added was sugar and vanilla extract, and that was it. I guess this pancake is the most basic pancake ever, if you're lacking eggs and it is 12am in the mornight.

The pancakes turned out slightly moist, dense and squidgy on the insides, but they tasted fine. Adel's turned out better because her mix had more milk, so the pancake spread more, and came out of the pan thinner, so the denseness of the inside wasn't too obvious. I think eggs were the major missing factor, and the fluffiness would have been there if we had used some self raising flour or bicarbonate of soda.

But if you are low on ingredients and are looking for a quick fix to your pancake craving, then just throw some flour and milk together and whatever else gets the taste in, and you have a basic pancake good to go.

Oh, don't be impatient and turn up the heat on the stove, I did that out of impatience and it killed my last pancake. Be sure to cook pancakes on low heat and flip them over when you see a number  of popped bubbles forming on the top.


On a side note, I can't wait until this Sunday, when I will be taking a flight home on my own for the first time, back to Singapore and back to my mum's supply of ingredients and a kitchen for me to bake in!
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