Tuesday 29 September 2015

Red Velvet Cupcakes 红色天鹅绒杯形蛋糕

When I first chanced upon a red velvet cake, I did not like what I saw. The dramatic red freaked me out a little, what more when I found out it was all food colouring. I kept telling people it was just another chocolate cake that was added with red colouring for commercial purposes. Apparently, there is a difference. A chocolate cake is more rich, luscious and dense with more chocolaty flavour. Whereas, a red velvet, well, is velvety soft and very moist with just a hint of chocolate. It uses lesser butter, which I totally approve of. The star of the ingredients, buttermilk, gives the cake the moistness that is almost synonymous with a red velvet.

This cupcake recipe is an adaptation from my red velvet cake recipe. I am not into cupcakes. However, I do admit this is a convenient party munchie. As such, I bake cupcakes instead of the whole cake to gatherings. Just last Friday, I baked some red velvet cupcakes for my cell group meeting. I was, however, not very satisfied with the appearance as it has a nice beautiful dome to it. Nothing wrong with it really but I like my cupcakes flatter so that I could add on my delicious cream cheese frosting. I have since cut a little of the dome (the usual method) and apply my cream cheese frosting. But I am thirsty to find out how these people get that wonderfully raised, almost flat top.

My research came back with a few suggestions which I have since tried and tested on my red velvet cupcake recipe. There are a few suggestions here that are not uncommon so bear with me if you have already known:

1. Lower temperature
2. Reduce leavening agent
3. Bain marie method
4. Wrap a wet towel around the strip
5. Store bought cake strip

As I am perfectly satisfied with the moist, soft and fluffy texture of my cake, options 1 and 2 are out. Options 4 and 5 are meant for cakes therefore leaving me with just option 3, which is basically a water bath. And the result? Those lovely red velvet cupcakes rose to perfection! Now my red velvet cupcake recipe is complete and I could finally share this recipe with all of you.

This is just me being picky on the appearance. You could ignore the bain marie method and just apply your choice of frosting like I did the first time but it is always good to learn some new tricks that can be applied when the occasion arises. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes 红色天鹅绒杯形蛋糕
Makes 12 cupcakes


200 g flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dutch processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
85 g butter, softened
110 g castor sugar
180 ml (3/4 cup) buttermilk (or add 3/4 tsp of vinegar to 3/4 cup of whole milk and rest for 10 mins)
1/2 tsp vinegar.
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp red colouring (I also added two drops of yellow colouring)
1 1/2 large eggs ( A grade)

Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe here

Cooking Instruction

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl.

3. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs in two batches and then vanilla, buttermilk and vinegar. Mix until all are combined.

4. Add sifted dry ingredients in two batches into the wet mixture. Using the whisk, mix gently until well combined. Then use spatula to scrape the sides and bottom to thoroughly combine the batter.

5. Scoop batter into individual cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners. At this point, you could use a water bath like the above picture. Bake for 17 - 20 mins until skewer comes out clean when tested. Remove from oven and let cool. Pipe in cream cheese frosting.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Chilli Anchovies Bun/Sambal Ikan bilis bun 参巴江鱼仔餐包

If you have ever bought those round buns from Gardenia with chilli anchovies or sambal ikan bilis inside, then you know what I am talking about. Although modest in looks, these filled buns are quite celebrated here. You could see bakeries selling this type of buns with all sorts of fillings. It is suitable as a quick snack, or even a light meal for many on the go. This chilli anchovies bun has worked wonders for me whenever I am too busy to have a proper meal. You see, although I like buns with sweet fillings (which is what you normally get), I do get bored with the monotony of sweetness sometimes. I find the sambal filling much more satisfying as not only has it sweetness but saltiness and spiciness as well. And the sambal itself is just so aromatic and tasty, it complemented the whole bun so well.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Ginger and Scallion Fish Slices 姜葱鱼片

Some call it scallion, some call it spring onion, some call it green onion. It is all the same. The Chinese call it "chung"(葱) and when it is paired with ginger (姜), it makes a pretty decent dish. The combination of both ginger and scallion is aptly use to add flavour and smell to the otherwise mildly flavoured fish. The ginger is also use to stave off the fishy smell of the protein.

This is a common Chinese household dish. Well, maybe not so common now since the price of fish has gone up many folds compared the olden days. If you are looking at more quality sea fish such as a fresh grouper, the price could be as high as RM35 per kilo. However, this method of cooking is actually more flexible as the fish is first fried and later combined with other flavours (unlike steamed fish dishes whereby only certain types of fish is suitable).  Therefore, you could even use dory if you fancy.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Chinese Steamed Cake/Ma Lai Go 马来糕

Don't be fooled by the name. It didn't originate from 马来 or Malaysia (Ma Lai Go basically means Malay cake in Chinese). This is not one traditional Malay kuih but a Chinese invention made popular in dim sum restaurants. I am not sure why it is called Ma Lai Gou or Malay cake, but hearsay, it is because of its colour that resembles the skin of the Malays which is brownish in nature. 

There are generally two versions of Ma Lai Go - the easier non-yeasted version and the yeasted darkish version. I am sharing with you the yeasted version, which is also the dim sum restaurants' version. 

Monday 14 September 2015

Mini Corn Dog on a Stick 玉米热狗

For those exposed to the American culture, you would most probably know what a corn dog is. It is a popular carnival food in America. This corn dog is uniquely served on a stick which makes it super easy for people to savour this delicious batter-wrapped sausage even without a proper seating. There is no doubt it is a hit there. Why? Let's face it. The food is an indulgence, fill with fats and flavour and ever so convenient. What is more sinful than that?

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Honey Sesame Chicken 蜜糖芝麻鸡

Does my honey sesame chicken look 'hot'? If you agree, most probably I had you fooled. The sauce itself is one simple combination of four readily available everyday sauces and a dash of honey. Yes, it is that easy. But most likely people wouldn't know about this when they look at those glazy chicken. No, not even when they bite into those tender juicy chicken laden with sticky sauce. Therefore, I credit this glorious yummy dish to....erm, instant sauces.

Although said to be a Chinese dish, this dish is more popular in western countries. If you do a quick google on Honey Sesame Chicken, you would find most of the contributors for this recipe are non-Chinese. The Chinese are more into roast sesame chicken (another yummy recipe!). Maybe this dish is a spin-off from there but it really doesn't matter. All I know is Honey Sesame Chicken is insanely popular and absolutely delicious.

Monday 7 September 2015

Homemade Chocolate Cookies 自制巧克力饼干

Today I had my first mother and son baking session. What you see here are the fruits of his labour. Notice those slightly-flawed homemade chocolate cookies? I am loving it. My two and a half year old truly enjoyed cutting out the cookies. He was so impatient that he ate the cut out cookies even before it goes into the oven. While the cookies was baking, he was running here and there using all his restraint not to touch the cookies. It was really a memorable experience both for him and myself. If you mummies out there have not tried doing such thing, I highly recommend this. It was a wonderful bonding experience.

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