Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ginger cookies

I started to get anxious closer and closer to my due date.... the date came and gone and I was still having my little one inside. Well, in fact, I AM still having him inside me today...

So, I did a bit of searching online and came across a few recommendation on natural ways to induce labour. Some of them are really 'out' for me e.g. drinking castor oil. But one of them that seems promising is this recipe - Jump Start Your Labor Cookies. If it doesn't work, at least I still get something nice to eat. So here goes:

Labour Inducing Ginger Cookies

2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves (I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cayenne pepper (I replaced with red paprika)
8 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (I cut down to half)
1/3 cup molases (I used black molases)
1/4 cup egg whites (equal to 2 egg whites)

1. Preheat oven at 165 degree C
2. Combine flour, soda, spices and set aside.
3. Cream butter & sugar. Add molasses, then egg whites to creamed butter, mix until combined.
4. Add dry ingredients slowly.
5. Once incorporated, roll dough into 1 inch ball and place onto baking tray.
5. Bake for 8-10 mins.

I also grated a small amount of fresh ginger (about 2 tsp) and added that with its juices (another 2 tsp) into the recipe. Maybe because of the juices, the dough was a bit runny, so I used a spoon to scoop the dough onto the tray instead. I also baked the cookies slightly longer than stated, approx 15 mins.

The cookies were delicious, though slightly on the sweet side even though I already halved the brown sugar. They were crunchy on the edges but slightly on the chewy side in the middle. They turned slightly soft the next day but a toast in the toaster is all it takes to 'perk' the edges back to crunchy state.

I finished the last 3 cookies from the batch this morning and... surprise, surprise... I did start to experience some mild lower abdominal tightening since afternoon, but they are not of very regular intervals and being my 1st pregnancy, I am really not so sure whether it is early labour contraction that I am experiencing or otherwise. I am keeping my fingers crossed...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

pumpkin paste 'mooncake'

I am not even sure whether my finished product can be considered as 'mooncake' but I did try to follow as close to the recipe as possible in the process. I think I definitely took on more that my meagre baking skill can handle when I decided to try at making mooncake :p. Nonetheless, I decided to still post it here, since this was my first try and it definitely marked a milestone for me to take up something more daring to bake.

Mooncake has never been on my 'my favourite' list because I really find it too sweet though I always like Mooncake Festival. I always think Mid-Autumn Festival中秋节is one of the most romantic Chinese Festival. So, when I came across the Aspiring Bakers #11 Mid-Autumn Treats, I decided to surf for some alternative recipes that do not need all the special equipment e.g. the mooncake mold or special ingredient.

Interestingly, I came across 简单快乐's小花月饼 and 薄灰's pumpkin paste traditional mooncake. I thought to myself: brilliant, now I can combine both recipes and make mooncakes without mooncake mold and make the filling from an ingredient I really like!

Pumpkin Paste

Pumpkin 500 g (will yield approx 320g filling)
Sugar 30g
Vegetable oil (suitable amount)
Wheat starch 25g (I replaced with potato starch)
Condensed milk (optional)

1. Cut the pumpkin into cubes. Steam pumpkin for approx 10 mins until it turns soft.
2. Smash and stir fry the pumpkin to get rid of water, add sugar (can be adjusted according to personal preference)
3. Add oil and stir fry until fully absorded. Add condensed milk (optional)
4. Add starch and continue to stir fry until thickened to paste form.

'Flower Mooncake' (as stated in the original recipe)

Cake flour 250g
Baking powder 3g
Salt 3g
Honey 12g
Sugar 60g
Egg 80g
Oil 25g
for decoration - 1 egg yolk, 2 tbsp water & some white sesame seeds

1. Mix all ingredients evenly to make the dough, wrap with cling film and store in fridge for 30 mins.
2. While waiting for dough to rest, divide filling and form into small balls.
3. Take out the dough and divide into approx 20 even portions. Keep the dough covered in film to avoid losing moisture.
4. Dough is sticky. Rub palms with oil before handling. Take a small dough, flatten, put the filling paste in the middle.
5. Starting from the bottom, slowly wrap the dough over the filling.
6. Close off the dough and place the closure facing down. Use a small spoon or your thumb to press a small indent in the middle.
7. Use a spatula to crave out 6 slits on the dough to form flower shape.
8. Brush the surface with egg yolk water, sprinkle with sesame seeds and put in oven, preheated at 180 degree C, for approx 15 mins.

Yes, I had been pre-warned that the dough will be sticky BUT it was sooo sticky that I could not handle the flower shaping at all! Starting from step 4, everything turned chaotic for me. I only managed to flatten the dough, put in the filling, close off as fast as I can, put on the baking tray (more like speed throwing it on the tray) and no more touching the dough after that. Any extra touching would end up with the dough sticking to my fingers or palm or any part of my skin that came into contact with it.

I tried 2 batches, since the pumpkin paste was more than enough to go around. With the 1st batch (picture above & below), I didn't even manage to shape the dough smoothly nor wrap the skin evenly. I thought I might have done something wrong with the dough. So I tried out a 2nd batch, yielding the same result with the stickiness of the dough. But having learnt from 1st batch, the 2nd batch (1st picture of this post) turned out slightly nicer looking because I kept sending the dough back to the fridge since the dough was easier to handle immediately out of the fridge.

I must say, my version was a far cry from the 简单快乐‘s version. But the 'mooncakes' turned out to be quite tasty, to my surprise. The skin was supple and slightly chewy, almost having the same texture as those piggy biscuits sold in colourful plastic nettings during my childhood days (maybe some of you share the same Mooncake Festival memory as me?). The pumpkin filling was definitely to my taste since pumpkin is one of my favourite food.

Well, will I try making mooncake again? Maybe... but not this soon. We shall see next year.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and joyous Mooncake Festival. My not so secret wish: that my little baby (EDD 10 Sept) will be born before or on the day of the Mooncake Festival... that will be the best Mid-Autumn gift to us.

Btw, I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #11 Mid-Autumn Treats (September 2011) hosted by Happy Home Baking. I hope it qualifies :).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

light lemon cheese cake

Determined to start trying recipes from the recipe books I bought, I picked one of the cake type that I had been trying to stay away from all these while - cheese cake. Though I like the idea of eating a small slice of cheese cake once in a while, the thought of having to work off all the calories from finishing a whole cheese cake is definitely not encouraging.

So when I came across this light lemon cheese cake 柠檬芝士(轻奶酪)蛋糕recipe in 贝太厨房, which definitely packs less calories compared to a conventional cheese cake, I decided to give it a try.

Light Lemon Cheese Cake (for a 6-inch cake pan)

Cream Cheese 200 g
Eggs 2
Yogurt 75 g
Cake flour 35 g
Sugar 50 g
Lemon juice 20 ml

1. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks and put into 2 different containers
2. Put cream cheese in a bowl, place the bowl in a pot filled with water over small fire. Whisk the cream cheese until forming a smooth paste.
3. Pour the lightly beaten egg yolks in 3 separate portions into the cream cheese, each time mixing evenly before adding the next.
4. Repeat the same for 30 g sugar then the flour. Add in lemon juice and yogurt and mix well.
5. In the separate containers, beat the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar in 3 separate portions, until the whites reach soft peak form.
7. Pour 1/3 of the egg whites into the cream cheese paste, mix evenly with spatula before adding another 1/3, mix well. Pour the cream cheese paste into the remaining egg whites, mix by folding from down up. Avoid over mixing.
8. Pour the cheese cake paste into pan. Put the pan onto a baking tray filled with water.
9. Put the baking tray into preheated oven at 160 degree C for 60 mins.
10. Leave the baked cake to cool down completely before removing from mold.

I used only 1/2 of the above portion to make a small loaf of cheese cake and it took me only 30 mins instead of 60 mins of stated baking time. The book also mentioned that once the surface of the cheese cake has hardened when lightly touch on the surface, the cake is almost ready.

The cheese cake turned out really soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth type, and has texture similar to Japanese cheese cake. It was tasty but slightly on the sourish side because of the yogurt and lemon. The yogurt I used was really sour. I like the tartness in the cake but hubby thinks it was slightly overboard for him.

The only problem I have with my finished product is the look, the cheese cake looked fluffy and nice just out of the oven but shrunk after cooling off, giving it a 'wrinkled' look on the surface. Also, I realised that there were some moisture trapped between the butter paper, that I used to line the mold, and the mold itself. I am not sure whether the cooling off process caused the condensation, hence causing the cake to 'deform' slightly. In any case, the next time I make this recipe again, I will sure to try it without the butter paper, to see whether it helps with preserving the look. Anyone out there who is aware what was the root of the problem, please enlighten me.

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