Raspberry Panna Cotta [覆盆子意式奶冻]

Friday, 25 November 2016

Panna cotta, at its most basic, is just milk and cream jelly. The jelly may be served as it is, but that'd be quite boring.

How to liven up plain panna cotta?

Make it heart-shaped. Make it in bright colours.

Chocolate Swiss Roll (巧克力瑞士蛋糕卷)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

If you've never made Swiss roll before, or never made one successfully, please don't try my chocolate Swiss roll recipe.

Making chocolate Swiss roll is a bit tricky. Why? Because cocoa powder complicates things. If you want a straightforward recipe, go for vanilla roll. That's almost idiot-proof (not that idiots are the lowest common denominator).

Cocoa powder makes the cake less stretchable, so you have to be careful not to overbake the cake. Even slight overbaking makes the cake crack when you roll it.

Vanilla Swiss Roll (香草瑞士蛋糕卷)

Monday, 1 September 2014

There're a few common problems with making Swiss rolls: (1) The cake is hard and dry. (2) The crust sticks to the paper the cake is wrapped in. (3) The crust cracks when you roll the cake.

Good Swiss roll starts with, of course, a sheet cake that's fluffy. You know what's wrong with a lot of Swiss roll recipes? They have way too much flour.

A cake that's 1-2 cm tall should have very little flour because it doesn't need much structural support. If it has as much flour as a cake that's 5-7 cm tall, it would be dense and hard.

Magic Custard Cake (魔术卡士垯蛋糕)

Thursday, 31 July 2014

What's magical about magic custard cake?

The cake's three layers, which are "self-made".

Banana Chiffon Cake (香蕉戚风蛋糕)

Friday, 9 May 2014


If you like your banana cake very fluffy and very "banana-y", you must try my version. Other recipes may be as fluffy but not as banana-y, or as banana-y but not as fluffy.

Orange Sponge Cupcakes (香橙海棉杯子蛋糕)

Thursday, 30 January 2014


Hark! Do you hear the sound of thundering hooves?

The Year of the Horse is coming!

Happy Chinese New Year! 祝大家大吉大利!

Cake Dos & Don'ts

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

This rather long post, for cake newbies, can be summarised in three words: Follow the recipe. Experienced bakers may change anything they like because they know what works or probably works. Beginners, OTOH, can't tell if a seemingly insignificant detail is actually a critical part of the recipe. If you're one of these, I hope this post shows you why you may want to do everything the recipe says, and not do everything the recipe doesn't say.

What to Do Before Your Cake Fails

a) Use an oven thermometer.  »
A lot of ovens aren't accurate. If the oven temperature is wrong, you have two problems. First, your cake may fail, or it may not as good as it could be. Second, if your cake fails, you have no idea what the problem is. It may be the oven temperature, or something else. If you know for a fact what the temperature is, you can at least eliminate the oven from your list of suspects.

Some recipes say "every oven is different". That may be true but one 180°C is the same as another 180°C. Whatever you're baking doesn't care what oven it's in. It only cares what the temperature (and humidity) is.

An oven thermometer measures the temperature in the oven; it can't tell where the heat is coming from. If the top heat is higher/lower than the bottom heat, your cake will fail. Fortunately, most ovens don't have this problem. If you think yours does, toast a slice of bread in the middle of the oven, on a rack at 220°C. If the top and bottom of the bread browns evenly, the oven is good.

b) Don't change the pan type.  »
Only round, square and rectangular "regular" pans made of the same material are interchangeable. The pan type goes with the recipe. It affects how quickly the batter heats up, how deep the batter is, and how much structural support the cake needs. These factors in turn affect how high the cake rises and whether it stays up there or comes back down after cooling down.

My recipes use aluminium pans. If you use dark coloured non-stick pans, your cakes will be different from mine.

c) Scale the recipe according to your pan size.  »
If your pan is bigger/smaller than the recipe's, you must scale the recipe proportionately. Of course, you could scale the recipe first, then find the proportionate pan size. How wide and long the pan is affects the depth of the batter. Deep batter rises more than shallow batter, all other things being equal.

If you don't know how to change the pan size or scale the recipe, please refer to question (i) and (j) in this post: Cake FAQ.

d) Don't replace any ingredient.  »
The only exception is flavourless oil, which may be swapped with any flavourless oil. Changing any other ingredient has an impact on the cake. Once you modify the recipe, it's yours. If you like the final product, congratulations. If you don't? It's your recipe, so you fix it.

Cake FAQ

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

a) Why didn't your cake rise?  »
Short answer: Because you did not follow the recipe.

Long answer:
  1. Egg whites were overwhisked and inextensible.
  2. Whisked egg whites, kept waiting too long, deteriorated and became inextensible.
  3. Eggs/yolks were underwhisked. Didn't have enough air bubbles.
  4. Whisked eggs deflated when mixed with oil/melted butter and dry ingredients.
  5. Not enough eggs/whites/yolks.
  6. Not enough non-fat liquids, so not enough steam to help the cake rise.
  7. Batter was too thick. Thick batter was too heavy to rise well.
  8. Batter was too thin. Thin batter allowed air bubbles to escape easily.
  9. Too little baking powder/soda.
  10. Baking powder was stale.
  11. Too little acid. Baking soda couldn't activate.
  12. Too much acid. Batter was set before it could rise.
  13. Wrong flour type.
  14. Batter was kept waiting too long before it was baked, allowing air bubbles to escape, and the baking powder and whisked egg whites to deteriorate.
  15. Oven wasn't hot enough. Without enough heat, air bubbles couldn't expand, water couldn't convert to steam, and double-acting baking powder couldn't activate.
  16. Oven was too hot. Batter was set before it could rise.
  17. Wrong pan type, which affected the heat transfer. 
  18. Pan was too wide. Shallow batter was set before it could rise.

b) Why did your cake crack?   »
Short answer: Because you did not follow the recipe.

Long answer:
  1. Egg whites were underwhisked and too extensible.
  2. Too much egg white. 
  3. Too little flour.
  4. Oven was too hot.
  5. Top of oven was too hot. The crust hardened too quickly, then ruptured when the batter underneath puffed up.
  6. Too much baking powder/soda.
  7. Too much non-fat liquid.
  8. Wrong pan type.
  9. Pan was too narrow.

c) Why did your cake collapse/sink/deflate?  »
Short answer: Because you did not follow the recipe.

Long answer:
  1. Egg whites were underwhisked and provided poor structural support.
  2. Oven was too hot. Cake rose higher than it should, so it came back down due to insufficient structural support.
  3. Too much baking soda/powder.
  4. Too much acid. Strictly speaking, the cake didn't sink. The sides rose but the centre didn't, so it looked like the centre sank.
  5. Uneven mixing.
  6. Too little flour.
  7. Underbaked.
  8. Cooling down method was wrong. Fragile cakes need to cool down inverted and stuck to the pan or they would sink.

d) Why was there a hard layer at the bottom of your cake?  »
Because the batter set too slowly, allowing starch to separate and sink to the bottom of the pan, where it hardened.

Why did the batter set too slowly?

Short answer: Because you did not follow the recipe.

Long answer:
  1. Oven wasn't hot enough.
  2. "Bathtub", if there was a water-bath, wasn't metallic.
  3. "Bath water" wasn't hot enough.
  4. Not enough acid.
  5. Not enough eggs.
  6. Not enough flour.
  7. Not enough starch.
  8. Not enough cream cheese.
  9. Wrong type of cream cheese, that didn't have enough starch.
  10. Too much liquid.

e) Why did your cake shrink after cooling down?  »
All cakes shrink as they cool down.

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
(草莓奶油蛋糕; Strawberry Cream Cake)

Monday, 9 December 2013

Japanese strawberry shortcake is a layered sponge cake filled and topped with whipped cream and strawberries. It is what I call a ménage à trois made in heaven, because each party brings out the best in the other two.

The red and white cake is very popular in Japan, especially for Christmas. I guess having the same colour scheme as Santa Claus wins a lot of votes during the Yuletide season.

Fluffy Chocolate Sponge Cake (巧克力海绵蛋糕)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet my seized chocolate cake:

Seized?

Don't worry, I haven't seized anything from anyone. It's cocoa powder that's doing the seizing, not me.

Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes (香草海绵杯子蛋糕)

Friday, 30 August 2013

The cake is fluffy, moist and not too holey. The buttercream is velvety smooth and not too rich or too sweet. The roses look reasonably like roses, and stayed that way without air-condition.

Yup, I'm happy with my vanilla cupcakes.

My sponge cupcakes are made with whole eggs, i.e. the eggs aren't separated. This method is a bit tricky because yolks and whites whisked together deflate easily when you add flour and butter/oil. Deflated batter makes cupcakes that are dense and hard.

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes (班兰戚风杯子蛋糕)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Pandan chiffon cake hot from the oven is way better than cold pandan chiffon cake.

That's a bit like saying Bill Gates is rich, or Angelina Jolie has thick lips. We all know that.

So when was the last time you had pandan chiffon cake that was still hot?

WHAT? You've always had PCC stone-cold?

Oh . . . my . . . God . . . . Oh dear, POOR YOU!

Portuguese Egg Tarts (葡式蛋挞)

Monday, 13 May 2013

 photo MOV_0892_00012portugueseeggtartsThey look more like curry puffs! That's what one reader says about Rasa Malaysia's Portuguese egg tarts.

Indeed, her tarts don't have any of the signature burn marks. To me, what's supposed to be the custard looks more like an omelette . . . or maybe quiche filling.

What's wrong with Rasa Malaysia's recipe?

Killer Sugee Cake

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Wanna make a sugee cake that's light and fluffy? That's right, the Eurasian classic doesn't have to be dense and heavy. Let me, a half-Eurasian, show you how. What? You didn't know I'm half-Eurasian? Hey, half of Eurasian is Asian and I'm 100% Asian. That makes me 50% Eurasian, right?

Butterscotch Popcorn

Monday, 17 December 2012

To make corn pop, the moisture in the kernel must be heated and turned into steam. When the steam builds up enough pressure, it bursts through the wall of the kernel, creating popcorn. The heat mustn't be too strong or the outside of the kernel would harden and stop the corn from exploding. It mustn't be too gentle either or the steam would leak out of the kernel and not explode.

Butter Cake

Monday, 12 November 2012


When I was looking at butter cake recipes online, I was surprised to find people moaning about cracks in their cakes. That seemed rather odd  to me because the butter cakes my mother bought when I was a kid all had a big crack on top. Isn't the ruptured top the signature of butter cakes?

Lemon Tarts

Sunday, 10 October 2010

When life gives you lemons, make lemon tarts. They're much better than lemonade.

If you don't have free lemons from life, go buy some. Lemon tarts are worth it.

My lemon tarts are very lemony and tart. There's about half a lemon in each small tart.

If you like lemon tarts that aren't tart, this isn't the recipe for you. My tarts aren't for lemon wimps.

Carrot Cake

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

PhotobucketCan a cake be moist yet light at the same time? Isn't that like asking a woman to be skinny and curvy? Yes, ideal women do exist, and so do ideal cakes.

I'm not that into cakes and neither is the rest of my extended clan. We find most cakes too rich and filling, especially after a heavy meal. And our meals are always heavy when we get together!

But there's one cake that has everyone's approval: Angela Nilsen's Carrot Cake, from The Ultimate Recipe Book. We love it 'cause it's really moist yet really light. No one needs any strong Chinese tea to wash down this yummy babe!