Christmas Baking - Log Cakes

Merry Christmas!

This christmas was spent doing log cakes and even though it has been fun, I wish I had more time to do my other christmas cookies and other christmas goodies. I miss making cupcakes/muffins/brownies and all things else other than cakes!

But this year's log cakes showed a major jump in improvement and were pretty well-received at parties. I sold log cakes for the first time - a grand total of 4! Then I made another 4 to give away at parties and for the family.

This was for the family (I made 2, the other went to my aunt):

The log cakes that I sold:

The cakes that went to parties:

The hard work of 23/12/10:

The log cakes that are black, i.e. covered in ganache, are different from the normal buttercream ones. They're ice-cream log cakes! Which tastes pretty good, and could be better if the ice cream stayed in the cake and not get squeezed out when I roll it. I'll work on that, but I must say that after all this rolling, I'm really pretty good at rolling swiss rolls now! An achievement really...
Of course, I must say a big THANK YOU to my volleyball coach, Jerry, as well as Limei and Mingzhe for the orders. Thank you for having faith in my cakes and I'm eagerly waiting for feedback to further improve! Also, thank you to everyone who ate my cake and gave me their encouragement and opinion!
I'll end this year's christmas baking with an interesting picture that is obviously not taken by me. It's all about perspective isn't it? This year's christmas feels the same as last, except a little more real. I can't wait for 2011!


Christmas workshop

Christmas is here again and before the start of my annual christmas baking, I was lucky enough to have a chance to go for a complimentary POSH workshop conducted in orchard central. Courtesy of kenwood!

So they made this really cute white and dark chocolate mousse cake which I felt tasted like ice cream on brownies. I had a fruitful chat with the lady next to me and when we shared ideas, we came to the conclusion that the mousse can be used as ice cream and the cake replaced with brownies. That would make it more versatile and tasty.

The other recipe taught was a traditional log cake which I personally find... could have been better. The cake was hard, and sponge cake should be soft! Furthermore, the buttercream was thick and looked like it'll go straight to your legs, such that the new pair of jeans you bought specially for christmas would no longer fit. Also, the rolling of the sponge wasn't well done. Possibly cause the sponge was so hard. So there wasn't a nice log shape.

Ah so much to complain. But again, I did learn some things, and also realised that many things i picked up on the way unknowingly. That made me a little proud of myself. Whatever the case, the cakes do look pretty and cute, but looks aren't everything. I expect my cakes to be good on the inside and outside, before and after!

Sadly, due to my very strong pride, I was a little upset at the start. As I was queuing for registration, I told the person that I registered under my own name and the name on the complimentary letter was my mum's. The 2 ladies next to me then said quite loudly:
"Oh, she's just replacing her mum."
Yea, I know I'm the youngest there (a fact that never fails to intimidate me whichever baking class I go to). But that doesn't mean I can't bake as well as the rest. I didn't know that Age was an essential ingredient next to flour/sugar/butter. I would like to think I can hold a very decent baking conversation and bake a very decent cake.

Whatever the case, the nice lady next to me taught me some little tricks. And I learnt how to tell if my sugar syrup is in "softball" stage, one very crucial step. Tiramisu log cake was also a new input I got today from my friendly neighbour.

I have 4 log cakes to settle now. With my own created recipes, we shall see how things go. Excitement and nerves are the same feelings and hence I'll take whatever is stirring inside to be excitement!

4 Flavoured Chiffon Cake


Finally, the dreary times are over and the happy times are here! My baking drought ends with an explosive idea that I paid the price with a sleepless night. So here comes my multi-flavoured chiffon cake, with green tea, chocolate, coffee and pandan all in one cake. Like I said, you can never have too much of a good cake!

With 4 different batters, derived from a single recipe, and using secret techniques that I shall not share... ;) I came up with 2 types of chiffon cakes!

My personal favourite was chocolate, cause I used real chocolate instead of only cocoa powder. But I think green tea was not bad too. And it drew great response cause the cake is now gone after only a day!
I hope I really did change his mind about chiffon cake. It's not so much about the cake itself, but more of the experience when eating the cake. Many times, even when the food is not to our taste, we still adore it because it evokes certain memories. Food, like music and places reminds us of certain experiences and feelings. It's a secret storage compartment which we unlock when we crave nostalgia. I hope chiffon cake will create happy thoughts next time.
Fionainthekitchen is back in business!


Fruit Tarts

Halfway through the prelims, I got hit by a brainwave! Hence, even though I know I shouldn't, I can't help but make some fruit tarts!

It all started because the fruit tarts in my school became more expensive. And I was confident that I could do better, and hence, here's green tea and chocolate and the normal fruit tarts.

Green tea goes really well with kiwi, and I think I added too much cocoa powder for the chocolate tarts, but other than that, everything's pretty awesome! I separated the recipe for a normal tart paste, divided it into 3 and made green tea and chocolate paste. Did the same for the pastry cream so as to get different flavours. And for a thicker crust, as per requested, I had 10g of pastry dough for each tart.

Arrangement of the fruit seemed brainless, but I had to try a couple of variations before deciding that slices was still the best way to go for fruits.

The colours are addictive, they're like my ecstasy. And I didn't realise how much I missed seeing the smiles that my food can bring. My friends are very supportive, they tell me it's good enough to be sold. But they are the reason why the food comes out well, baking with someone in mind makes things a whole lot easier and much more exciting!

Alevels is a rite of passage for everyone, but that doesn't make it any easier. Running on autopilot is tiring, I'm getting really tired. 2 months seem so short, but everyday's becoming dreary and dry. I have taken to writing my short bursts of ideas on paper and keeping it in a box. 2 months later, they'll see the light of day, and together with my mixer, we'll begin a whole new life!

I think I'll just live in my kitchen.


Just a thought

Diary of a 7 year old in the 21st century

Dear Diary,

Today, I felt something weird around my tummy. I never had this kind of feeling before. It makes my heart beat a bit faster and when I think about it, my head hurts. I felt sad and scared and nervous and not comfortable. Mummy said I was stressed. She said I was too young to be stressed. I wonder why stress had an age limit.

I saw the newspaper today. Mummy said it's good to start reading newspaper. I think the corals are stressed too. I wonder if they are too young to be stressed. They are stressed and they are going to turn white and die. I wonder if I will turn white and die too.

Jenny was telling me today it was not fair that her brother has a handphone and she doesn't. And it's her birthday. I got superman for my birthday, but I don't think it's not fair. Because some boy in Pakistan got a funeral for his birthday. I'm sure he would rather have anything else. Even a card that said "Happy Birthday" would've been nice.

I hate saying byebye to mummy and daddy everyday when I go to school. I wonder how he can say byebye forever. And ever.

My eraser got lost today. I lost my pencil yesterday too. I don't want to lose everything. Like some people in China who lost everything they owned. And everyone they loved. I don't think I can be happy again.

I feel quite hungry now. Daddy tells me some people in Africa are so hungry their stomach becomes really big. Like they are having a baby. But my stomach becomes really small when I'm hungry. I wonder how hungry they must be.

And today, Big Bully Ben took my pocket money again. I was so sad I cried, because he took all of it, so now I have no money. Then Ms Nadia said in class that a lot of people live on less than $1.25 a day. Do they cry everyday?

I think the world is not fair. I hope God can help people. I hope he makes the world round again.

- Inspired by Kimya Dawson's 12/26 -
230910 © fionalee

And the rattlesnake said,"I wish I had hands soI could hug you like a man."
And then the cactus said,"Don't you understand,
My skin is covered with sharp spikes
That'll stab you like a thousand knives.
A hug would be nice,
But hug my flower with your eyes."



I haven't done this for a while, and it's really sweet...

Nope, not the cake, just my friend's efforts in baking a cake for her boyfriend's birthday.

She said, "I have no talent in baking..." My dear, as long as it's from the heart, you don't need any talent.

Perhaps after an eventful journey to school, the cocoa powder got wet and the cheese melted. But still, I'm sure it's the best cake Gen's ever tasted.

I used the excess and made small little tiramisu cups, so that I could try what it tasted like! It's a different recipe from my previous one and I used a sponge cake instead of sponge fingers. In any case, it tasted GOOD! So I'm really glad for that. And tiramisu must be refrigerated, once it's out of the fridge, the taste, texture and appearance will see an exponential fall.

A guy said this to me when I said I had to rush home to bake because my friend's boyfriend was having his birthday, "Just go and buy... In the end guys just eat everything. Don't waste your efforts."
True, maybe it really doesn't matter to them. But I just wanted to see my friend smile.


Teresa's 18th Birthday Surprise Party

There's a quote from Inception - "What's the most resilient parasite? An Idea."

I got some ideas from researching for my natday cake sometime back and these ideas never did leave my head. So because I was going to plan a birthday party, I thought of trying these new ideas out. One involved the creation of a pattern as below, which is essentially just one long squiggly line. I have a lot to work on my horrible piping skills!

Then I thought I could merge Croquembouche with a cake. But I didn't have enough time to make enough choux pastry and I also couldn't use caramel due to lack of time and skills. So it was ganache and chocolate mousse choux puffs. Which tasted so awesome, I think I've found the best chocolate mousse recipe EVER.

Ah but I'm so disappointed in my cake, it really wasn't up to standard. I think I need a break, exhuastion does show in my cakes. But the day turned out so unexpected, as we screwed up our sushi rice and I ended up cooking sushi rice on the stove, which turned out great. Then there were leftover rice so I ended up cooking fried rice for Olivia's family. My fried rice skills just upped level, even though my arm muscles are really aching now.

But whatever the case, I had an amazing national day night with these wonderful people. The birthday surprise worked really well! I'm so proud of everyone. I'm so glad to see those smiles, it makes all the fatigue go away and I know my dear sasa will remember how she turned 18, albeit earlier than the supposed date. It's like a dysfunctional family which I'm so lucky to be a part of.

I guess it has to do with trying to do too many things in too short a time, but I'm really so tired now. Maybe it's time to retreat back into my hidey hole, after all the excitement of past weeks. After all, I'm the type to disappear right after the song!


Post BIY Competition

It has been almost a month since the competition and things have been a little crazy since then. In any case, I would like to start this off by thanking everyone for their tremendous support all this while.

To all my friends who helped to bring me a large step closer to my dream,
To my family who seemed even more stressed out, but who are also extremely proud of me,
To schoolmates and old acquaintances I never thought I'd talk to again but whom yet sent me their heartfelt congratulations,
To BIY for organising this, and finally,
To all who clicked on that like button, regardless you knew me or not,


To sum up, what happened after winning the competition was a call the next day from the shop's founder. Turned out she was an alumni from my school! We had a chat, I told her the meaning behind the cake, the process and the thought and eventually she told me to take up a PME diploma course after my exams. Hence, you see, from that call onwards, I figured that the first "diploma" I'd take in my life is that of a path to being a pastry artist. Which frightened me a little, because taking up that course would not only mean busting $1000, but also skipping all the basic courses. And once again, being the youngest and most inexperienced one around.

Then a couple of days later, there was a prize presentation ceremony where I was awarded a very big trophy! It was intimidating to stand in front of a pastry chef (who practically built the entire Singapore on the cake), but I held a very nice conversation with him. Found out he went to Le Cordon Bleu, and that the fees there are really very steep... I have to make money if I'm going to make it there! He is a very talented individual, someone I look up to and hope that in future, be able to build up business relations with!

Then another couple of days later, I'm featured on the Lianhe Zaobao! Initially, I thought it was just going to be a small coverage, but who knew it would reach almost a page! I was interviewed a little by the reporter, and he really did a good job in translating my English into such fluent Mandarin, at the same time still maintaining what I wanted to say. That generated a lot of excitement and I got some smses that really brightened up my day.

Finally, today, I got another call. Apparently, Channel Newsasia wants to do a coverage on this competition, so I'm going to have to go down again and redecorate my cake, along with the other 2, in front of the camera. They will then give it an airtime of approximately 10 minutes, from what I've heard so far. Luckily, I managed to get sponsorship for the fondant and I'm using a dummy styrofoam cake instead of the real one. But I'm really taken aback because I'm not sure I can replicate it again, especially while next to the professional guy who built the entire Singapore on the cake.

When that would be, I'm not sure, but school will probably have to be skipped. What an experience this is going to be! But juggling school and baking is proving to be a challenge...

What's still pending is my mixer which can only arrive in end August, as well as a promised feature in some UK cakecraft magazine.

My cake is definitely not the best, but the beauty and excitement lies in how much more I can improve and how much further I can go. So my life took a whirlwind, and all this is only possible with everyone's support. I can't promise anything, except that I'll continue this passion, because you all believed that I can. And one day, I hope to bake your wedding cake!

On a side note, this whole experience was really fulfilling. Not just on baking, but also to be able to see the love and support I have from my friends and family. I made many new friends, and gained back some old friends whom I haven't talked to in years. My friends found their old friends, in the bid to garner votes and people rebuilt connections all over again, through our wireless world.

Though extremely enriching, there was a point in time, when I was a little jaded. Business conversations at 18 just felt too mature. I missed being a kid, to be able to live life as it is. But I have too much pride! It is difficult for me to accept being treated as a kid. So maybe I grew up too fast, but as long as the heart stays young, the sky's the limit.

I think... my dreams are bursting at its seams.


National Day Cake - B.I.Y. Competition

It's been a crazy load of fun doing this cake, and I just cannot believe I did it. Even though now, after looking at all the entries that are simply outofthiscrazyandinsaneworld, I am still proud of my cake. Honestly, I entered this competition with not much expectations of winning anything, because I knew that I was pitting myself against artists with years of experience and people who have taken cake decorating classes for perhaps years. And me? I'm just an 18 year old girl studying for her exams and armed with 3 very heavy library books who attempts to teach her how to decorate a cake like a professional. Plus there's the world cup!

But whatever the case, I really learnt a lot from this, immensely. Not just about cake decorating, not just realising that this is a path I would like to continue, but also about how lucky I am to have people who give me their support just because they believe in me.

It has not been a bed of roses making this cake, in fact, I faced so much difficulties seeing it through. But you know what, it's worth every drop of sweat, every frown, every minute of lost sleep. I made the most amazing cake I've ever made so far, and now I realised that I am going to make even more amazing cakes in future.

My mum said she really admires my courage and my perserverance, for so many a times she told me to just give it up. But I hung on, because I made this cake for everyone who believed in me more than I believe in myself. This cake is for you.

Please vote for me at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=656623177#!/album.php?aid=198208&id=144329989025&ref=mf, you have to like the facebook page of BIY first then the like button will appear under my photo.

Happy Birthday Singapore!


Fondant Carrot Cake - Shooting Star

A practice cake for the upcoming competition! It's my first time working with fondant and it really is such a whole new experience... The range of wonders that can be done, to just have a feel of it is already so intimidating. But it got me thinking, a lot.

It was meant as just a little practice for the real deal, but seeing that my classmate was having her birthday, I figured I'll dedicate this cake to her. Oh boy, I really prayed it will work. I thought it could be much much better, but hey, my awesome classmates liked it! So, thank you all for the smiles! In any case though, I'm completely changing my idea now... Let's hope it works!

Due to limited artistic ability, my shooting star didn't really look like one. I've been thinking about shooting stars and wishes. Cake decorating got me thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life. And I think, I'm going to set up my own business in future, a specialty cake shop. Selling designer cakes. But the future feels like rain on a sunny day, confusing, conflicting and impossibly difficult to predict.
It's not an impulsive thought, I have been thinking about what brings me joy, what makes the heart sing. And the answer has always been so evident, so certain. How can I deviate from my calling? Which brings me to shooting stars.
I saw a shooting star couple of weeks back. It felt like magic, like how fondant feels like magic. I'll always remember how I made a wish, a wish that was for someone else. Maybe someday you'll understand too, that everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes we fall, but each fall gives us a chance to stand up. Sometimes we cry, but just so that we know how to smile. Sometimes our hearts break, but each time it heals, it becomes stronger. So, I don't need a wish, not because I have everything I want, but simply because I want to taste the sweet and sour of life. I'll continue the fight, the fight for a dream. We are all stronger than we think we are, so don't ever regret, just move along.

One life, live it. Here's the song that started it all.
B.o.b ft Hayley Williams - Airplanes
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)
I could use a dream or a genie or a wish
To go back to a place much simpler than this
Cause after all the partyin' and smashin' and crashin'
And all the glitz and the glam and the fashion
And all the pandemonium and all the madness
There comes a time where you fade to the blackness
And when you're staring at that phone in your lap
And you hoping but them people never call you back
But that's just how the story unfolds
You get another hand soon after you fold
And when your plans unravel
And they sayin' what would you wish for
If you had one chance
So airplane airplane sorry I'm late
I'm on my way so don't close that gate
If I don't make that then I'll switch my flight
And I'll be right back at it by the end of the night
Can we pretend that airplanesIn the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)
Can we pretend that airplanesIn the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)
Somebody take me back to the days
Before this was a job, before I got paid
Before it ever mattered what I had in my bank
Yeah back when I was tryin' to get into the subway
And back when I was rappin' for the hell of it
But now a days we rappin' to stay relevant
I'm guessin that if we can make some wishes outta airplanes
Then maybe yo maybe I'll go back to the days
Before the politics that we call the rap game
And back when ain't nobody listened to my mix tape
And back before I tried to cover up my slang
But this is for the Cada, what's up Bobby Ray
So can I get a wish to end the politics
And get back to the music that started this sh-t
So here I stand and then again I say
I'm hopin' we can make some wishes outta airplanes
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)


Pandan Chiffon Cake

Remember last week's Sunday Times Lifestyle? It's main cover was on Pandan Chiffon Cake! I got so excited, it was such a nice present to wake up to.

I tried the recipe and hey, lo and behold, it's GREAT. The texture of the cake is springy and there's a lot of bite to it. There is a very alluring fragrance to the cake since real pandan leaves were used. The only improvement I would make to the recipe would be to cut down the sugar. A little too sweet...

The article compared pandan chiffon cakes of all bakeries. But you know what, I think the best pandan chiffon cake is homemade!

Mango Cake

This was really last minute. Who would expect that I'll need to bake a birthday cake in the midst of intense mugging? Then again, who would expect North Korea to let in 7 goals for Portugal? Sadly, supplies are running low in the fridge, hence this was the best I could come up with in an hour.

It is really untidy. But it tasted pretty good. I made my own custard! However, I ran out of sugar and basic ingredients, so there was not enough custard. Which probably explained its sloppy appearance.

Sorry it's such a messy cake perry! But still, happy birthday, and I'm so happy to see everyone finish it up in 10 minutes. It really makes the stress worth it. What would I be without my dear primary school friends?

Like Teresa said,
"All of you have a special place in my heart. I'll reserve a table for you all at my wedding. I swear."
Here's to a decade of friendship!


Peanut Butter Cookies

Recently, someone posed a question to me. Why are some cookies as hard as a rock?

I was a little taken aback, because I didn't think that cookies could go so wrong. Cookies have very simple steps, but are yet the most versatile. Everywhere you'll find thousands of recipes for a single type of cookie. It is the best stepping stone for any beginner, or for last minute presents (especially to impress your other half!) So in any case, I thought about what could go wrong and decided to start:

Fionainthekitchen Lesson #01

Recipe: Peanut butter cookies

170g butter

105g brown sugar

100g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

185g peanut butter

280g plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

80g raw peanut (chopped)

1) Whisk sugars and butters together.

2) Pour in beaten egg and vanilla essence and whisk.

3) Fold in sifted flour and then peanut.

4) Preheat oven at 180C and bake for till golden brown.

So firstly, prepare all your ingredients and make sure your work table is clean and tidy.

Whisk until the colour changes to a lighter brown. This is a very important step for incorporating air into the mixture. Whisk in a clockwise/ anticlockwise direction and the colour will fade because butter becomes lighter when creamed with sugar. In this case, due to the brown sugar and peanut butter, it is a little less obvious.

After the addition of the egg and vanilla essence, this is another significant step which will ensure that the cookies retain air holes, bringing about cookies that the teeth can handle! Folding in is a method that involves the use of a spatula which cuts and 'folds' the dough. It is done in a clockwise direction, and turning the bowl constantly helps to speed things up. To mix the flour in i.e. in a stirring motion, would be a big mistake. Remember to sift the flour as it incorporates air.

When done, roll into balls. Here's a tip, the smaller your cookies, the more addictive they are. Be careful, they're so addictive it can be lethal for those with a sweet tooth!

Use a fork and press down the balls.

How then do you know it's cooked? When you flip the cookie over, it must be golden brown. Don't worry if it feels a bit soft, it will harden once it's cooled.

Finally, fill the crunch when you bite into one of them!

Hopefully this helps in the creation of many delicious cookies. Remember, cookies like cake also require air to be incorporated inside. So folding in and whisking of the butter is very important. Lastly, bake with confidence and you can't go too wrong!