Monday, March 30, 2009

First time cupcake! (aka Little Chocolate Volcanoe)

All the time when I was making the list of what to learn to bake, cupcake is actually almost at the bottom line. For some reason, cupcakes just don't intrigued me as much as other baked sweet heaven goodness. However last week due to an alarming craving to eat a chocolate cake, I browsed for a new recipes online, but instead I found a simple cupcake recipe (chocolate of course) followed by myself salivating all over the laptop screen. The over dramatic reaction could also be blamed on the fact that I haven't had any dinner yet at that time.

I mentally scanned through my cabinets and fortunate enough to have all the ingredients ready and jumping to be used. Obviously I'm kidding about the jumping part. It is rather scary to imagine the flour jumping around and squealing with delight and screaming, "Use me, use me!"

Anyways, take into consideration that this is my first time ever to bake cupcake and I, in general do not have any clue whatsoever about baking secrets or something along the line. The cupcakes, though looked like a volcanoe were actually edible. But I think I need to meditate and find out why they were not fluffy. So, below are few pictures from my recent experiment!

Ready to be baked!
You can't see it from this picture, but I ended up licking the spoon clean.
My little chocolate volcanoes. No frosting this time. I definitely will learn next time around!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mom's most popular cookie: Dahlia cookie

Here's the problem with liking to bake: Liking to eat what you bake. A short while before new year, I promised myself to lose some pounds that I begrudgingly gained since the 'Great Depression' period. I actually managed to lose a few pounds by taking off certain foods from my diet, mainly chocolates, chocolate cookies, chocolate milks and fast foods. It worked. I almost had a flat tummy for once...until I bought the oven. As much as I love my oven, it is guilty without contest the catalyst of my downfall from the good diet I practiced before. But to my defense, where's the fun if you don't get to eat what you bake, right? Right.

I've been refraining myself from baking too much. I mean I practically live alone. My housemates are seldom around. They don't mind about eating my baking experiment's end product. But I don't think they like eating as much as I do. Come to think of it, I hardly seen them eat at home. I'm the one always munching something in front of the TV. Hmm...

I don't have my family here with me to eat my baking goods either (or not really good baking goods). Just the other day, when the in-house clinic assistant asked me to update my emergency contact, I faltered. In the end, I used my work friend I'm close with as one. It is sort of a new experience for me because I've never used anyone other than my family members as an emergency contact.

Anyway, since I have a 3-days-weekend, I went for grocery shopping at Tesco on Thursday after work. I bought mostly baking ingredients and fruits and vegetabless, all the while avoiding the meat section. I figured since I'm going to eat what I bake, I might want to try to cut other things like red meat and chicken. My mind is definitely trying to make me betray myself. Even the chicken feet looked delicious! Well, I managed to stick to my plan and came home with giddy feeling. I'm always like that whenever I managed to not do what my mind asks me to do. Which is not often by the way.

So, after giving my oven a rest for one week, I baked again. This time I tried one of our family's favourite cookie recipes, Dahlia cookie. No, there's no dahlia needed in the recipe. It is called Dahlia cookie simply because of the shape is similar to the flower. But because I don't quite know how to use the thing to make the shape (what you called that cookie shaper thing anyway?), I ended up using a different shape. It tasted not bad. Almost like my mom's. Only next time, perhaps less wheat flour.

The cookies out of the oven. I didn't burn them! Well, burnt a few actually.

I wanna be skinny, but I can't keep my hands out the cookie jar.

Non-cookie related dinner. Note to self: Lay off the oily food next time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Pavlova. Heard of this dessert before? Not me. I was clueless as what pavlova is. When I asked for recipes from my friends and one of them suggested pavlova, I thought it was a type of dance. Some sort of Russian dance. Turned out, I was right about the Russian part. But only that.

For those who don't know (though I think I was the only one clueless here), pavlova is a meringue cake with a light, delicate, crisp crust and a soft sweet marshmallow centre originated from God knows where. The Australians and New Zealanders are still fighting over who was responsible for this culinary invention. For all I know, it could be created by a couple, the husband being an Australian and the wife a New Zealander. It's possible, isn't it?

Anyway, the reason I'm writing about pavlova is because 2 days ago I bought lots of eggs and try my hands at baking it. Since I didn't know how it's supposed to taste like (still don't know) and judging from my ability to ruin even a simple recipe, also taken into consideration that it is almost customary for me to burn things I bake, I tried one recipe where I can prepare it in individual serving. I made 4 very cute individual pavlovas instead of a big one. Of course being a kitchen dimwit, I burnt them a little. Sure looked a bit like poop (I'm sorry), but it actually tasted quite good. Like marshmallow. And pretty addictive too. I ate that 4 very cute individual pavlovas by myself. On the same night. Impressed? Wait till you see me finishing a whole batch of cookies while watching TV.

Anyhow, below are some photos from the pavlova experiment.

Behold. The burnt pavs.

Burnt, close and personal.
I'm clueless at decorating too. Don't judge me.

And because I'm a chocoholic, I did this.

Clueless Baker: The Real Deal

It's amazing how age can change you. When I was growing up with a mom who worked as a cook in a small restaurant in our small hometown, and a sister whom I swear learnt how to cook since she was in our mom's womb and the youngest brother who loved to eat, thus loved to cook (he still does), I couldn't care less about kitchen business. Everyone in my family knows that I am hopeless in the kitchen. To them, I'm the brain in the family. Or so they think. My other 2 siblings (yes, I have big family...2 sisters and 2 brothers) can cook pretty well too. In fact, my older brother worked at a restaurant while waiting for his exam's result. Me? I'm the kitchen joker.

It all changed when I went to Japan for a language and culture exchange program during my 2nd year of university. I was forced to find my way to the kitchen. But I was lucky because I was surrounded by friends who were good at cooking and willing to feed me, especially during weekend when I had to fend for myself. During these time, I learnt that while cooking held little appeal to me (what's with accidentally cutting and burning my hands in the process), I was beginning to like baking things using the small toaster oven in the dorm I was staying in. I would baked cookies and cakes for friends just for fun and delighted that they enjoyed eating it, even when it wasn't that good. And for once, the idea of spending time in the kitchen besides searching for foods didn't annoy me. Mom must be proud of me.

During the time in Japan, I baked cookies for Valentine's Day and forced my friends to eat them. I also baked a birthday cake for one of my classmates and another for a very dear friend of mine who's more like a mother to me. I think I baked a cake for his son and wife too. Those were wonderful times of my life, surrounded by dear friends from all around the world. When I came back to my country however, I completed my first degree and back to my normal-before-Japan life. No more baking, except when I helped mom to bake chocolate cakes for the family, especially my niece and nephews. Did I mention yet that I have big family? I did? Good.

Then work happened. 5 years passed and I hardly jeopardized my safety in the kitchen. I still made chocolate steamed cake once in a while when I craved for sweet things. But that was it. That was the only thing I could make anyway since I didn't have an oven up until 20 days ago. Yep, I finally bought an oven! On 20th February this year at 5.42pm, I got myself an oven. I knew the exact time because I have the receipt in my hand now. The oven is nothing fancy at all. It was on discount so I bought it on impulse. Scraped my knuckles when I took it out of the car and later had to struggle to bring it back home. This is the time when I thought about having a boyfriend just so he could help me carry heavy stuffs.

Anyway, I managed to bring it home safely and ever since then, I've been warming up to the baking world again. It isn't easy. I've been baking about 5 times so far and each time I managed to either ruin the recipe or burn the end-products. Or both. But it's been so long since I have this much fun! And so this blog will be the witness of my (mis)adventures in the kitchen. I hope along the way I'll be less clueless and be better at baking and of course avoid any accident in the kitchen. Wish me luck!