Thursday, July 26, 2007

Questions from readers regarding the recipes in my book

Hi Oi Lin

I recently bought your books. I've tried the Sugee Cake ( baked treats twice and both times the side and base turned very brown and crusty (not burnt though). What I had done is I multiply the receipe by 1 and a half times to fit into a 9" tin. I used 53 g eggs as I could not find those that weight 56g. I also found that the center of the cake took a along time to cook and was still sticky at the end of baking time.I had baked the cakes at 170 deg for 1 and a quarter hours. Please advise what I had done wrong. Thank you.

It is best to stick to 180 degrees Celsius because there needs to be enough heat to cook the centre of the cake.
To solve the 'sticky middle' situation, this is what you can do:
- bake the cake in a tube pan (the kind with a hole in the middle, usually used to bake chiffon cakes. The hole in the middle helps bake the middle portion of the cake evenly,
- Use a smaller or shallower cake pan.
- increase the amount of plain flour used so that the cake has more structure and less moisture,
- Don't overmix the ingredients of the cake batter. Leave it slightly lumpy. When cake batter is overmixed till smooth and lump-free, it tends to get heavy and sink when baked (because there is no 'solids' to hold up the batter).

Oi Lin

Hi Oilin,
I had tried the kueh bangkit this morning and it was unsuccessful!! The kueh bangkit was very hard (can bounce back if thrown against the wall ah! Ah!). What is wrong with the cookies? During the mixture, the dough was very dried. So I added another egg yolk and a little bit of water. The dough is still dry so I just cont’d making. Could it be because of additional egg yolk N water that made the kueh bangkit so hard? How should the dough be ? And the color of the kueh bangkit is bit brown not white. Is it during the frying of tapioca flour with pandan leaves is too long (30 mins) which made the cookies brown even before baking? Can you please advise? Thanks and regards!


Wow, you've been baking!! Yes, I agree that kueh bangkit can be quite tricky to make. It took me several tries to get it right. But it is still a very 'temperamental' cookie to make.
If the cookie dough is very hard, add more coconut milk. If it is too wet, add more tapioca flour. Keep doing this till you get the texture that you want. The dough should not be too wet or too dry. It should be moist enough to roll yet firm enough to keep its shape after you cut it with a cookie cutter.
Don't add water to the dough. Water is considered a 'strengthener' and will toughen up any cookie dough.
Slightly brown bangkit usually tastes better than the white ones. When baked to slightly brown, the coconut fragrance becomes more intense, which makes the cookies really delicious! The browning of the cookies is due to the baking process.
However, if the flour was fried at a very high heat or fried for too long, it will have a burnt taste and turn brown too. The cookies should look brown AFTER baking. If it is brown before baking, that means the tapioca flour is burnt. Use low heat to fry the flour or use the oven to bake at low heat. Take care not to burn the tapioca flour. The flour should still look white after stir-frying. Tapioca flour MUST be baked or fried long enough before using in kueh bangkit so that the cookie will smell nice and have a light, melt-in-the-mouth sensation.

Don't give up. It takes experience to make great kueh bangkit and you are definitely on the way there.

Oi Lin

Hi Oilin,
I would like to know the pineapple tarts (tangerine type) and the vegetarian pineapple tarts in your recipe, why is it that the ingredients used are different? Eg. Qty of plain flour,butter n sugar are different for both type of pineapple tarts. Can the ingredients (incl the qty) for the tangerine type be used for the vegetarian tarts and vice verse. Will the end result ( taste n aroma) be the same? In your pineappletarts website, there is another version of recipe pineapple tarts with crunch. What is the difference? Does it taste the same?

The recipes are different because in the tangerine style tart, the dough must be firm enough to wrap the filling and it must also keep its shape after baking. If both recipes are interchanged, for example if you use the open-style tart dough to make the closed-style type, the dough will not keep its round shape after baking, so the tarts will look quite 'ugly'. But it'll still taste the same.
The pineapple tarts with crunch taste about the same as the open-style tart in my book but this one has a bit of crunch. Because not all people like the melt-in-the-mouth type, so I decided to make a crunch version.

Oi Lin

Hi Oi Lin
I tried your mini egg sponge cakes with my Kueh Baulu Maker instead of the conventional oven today. I wonder why the 1st few batches turned out to be soft and spongy but with lots of holes underneath and the last batch turned out to be heavy and dense. I was very careful when mixing in the flour as stated in your notes. Is it because of the sugar which sank below therefore the last batch was harder. Would appreciate if you could advise me as I wish to try baking it again
Thank you.

Thank you for your mail.
When I was experimenting with the kueh baulu recipe, I used the convectional oven to bake because I had a feeling that most readers may not own a kueh baulu maker or mould (the traditional one made from heavy aluminium. Hence I did not try out the recipe on a kueh baulu maker. But it's very interesting that you did, and I'm so glad to hear from you!

I think the reason why the first few batches had lots of holes was because during the beating of the eggs (with sugar), lots of air bubbles were introduced into the mixture. But by the time the last few batches were cooked, the bubbles had 'deflated', which resulted in dense and heavy cakes.

To solve this problem,
1. Cut down the beating of the eggs to one and a half minutes (instead of three) - this introduces less air into the mixture which will result in less holes in the cakes.
2. Divide the egg mixture into 2 equal portions. Divide the flour into 2 equal portions as well. Mix one portion of egg mixture with one portion of flour, then cook in the baulu maker. When that first batch is done, beat the remaining portion of egg mixture AGAIN. Then add the remaining portion of flour. Mix, and cook in baulu maker.

I think the trick is, after adding in the flour, the mixture should be cooked quickly, because the longer the mixture is allowed to rest, the more bubbles deflate, which leads to poor rising and there heavy and dense cakes.

If the cakes still contain too many holes, you can add a bit more flour.

To help the cakes rise, you can add a little baking powder (about half teaspoon will do) but the cakes may have a very slight metallic taste. Adding more sugar or more vanilla essence should help to mask that taste.

I am in the midst of producing my series of instructional DVDs, which are based on the recipes in both my books. When they are out, emails will be sent out to inform readers. Do look out for them!

Do tell me how your kueh baulu turns out. I always feel very inspired by readers who enjoy baking because baking is often done with family and friends in mind. When we bake, we do so to let them savour and enjoy the cakes and cookies we've baked. In a way, it's an act of love and giving.

I am also in the midst of collecting feedback on my books to be put on the website. If you like my books (or don't like them), do tell me about it. Thank you and happy baking!!

Best wishes,
Oi Lin

Hi Oilin,
I have tried cooking the pineapple filling but it is too soft. Is it not dried enough. I cooked for about an hour plus and I used 1 sarawak pineapple to cook. Is there any diff.?
And for your Kueh Bangkit recipe, what is the coconut cream (packaged or canned)? Can coconut milk be used? Pls reply?
Thanks and have a nice day!


Thank you for your mail.

I used coconut cream in the Kueh Bangkit recipe because it is thicker. And after heating it, it thickens further and thus can hold the bangkit dough together, making the dough easier to handle. It also makes the coconut taste more concentrated.

There is probably no difference if you were to use the Sarawak pineapple. If the pineapple filling is too soft, cooking it longer will definitely firm it up. If you want to shorten the cooking time, drain the pineapple juice away before cooking. But you will need to add more sugar to the filling. This is because the juice contains natural sugar. If it is drained away, you need to make up for the sweetness.

Another way is to use medium heat to cook the filling at the start of the cooking process. Then when the filling is nearly ready (that is, starting to look like a paste and is no longer liquid), turn the heat to low, so that it doesn't burn. Stir it occasionally. Stop cooking when the filling is thick and its texture is such that it can be rolled into balls. Chill the filling to furthen firm it up.

Hope the above helps. Making great-tasting pineapple tarts is not difficult at all, but experience is needed to make them well. Keep working at it and you will DEFINITELY succeed. I'm sure your family and friends will love eating the pineapple tarts you bake!

Email me again if you have any more problems.
I'm coming up with a set of instructional DVDs based on the recipes in the books. Do look out for them!

Warm regards,
Oi Lin


Little Vivienne said...

Hi Oi Lin,
I was wondering about the instructions on baking the pineapple tarts.The instruction said :- Bake for 6 minutes. Brush the edges of cookie shapes with the egg glaze. Roll pineapple filling into small balls and flatten slightly. Place on the cookie shapes. Decorate with a criss-cross dough pattern on the filling. Brush egg glaze on the criss-cross pattern.
- Bake for another 15 minutes. Allow tarts to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Does it mean that I bake for 6 minutes and let it cool down first and then baked it for another 15 minutes?

Oi Lin said...

Dear Vivienne,
You have brought up a very good point. Let me explain the rationale behind the instructions.
When the tarts are first baked for 6 minutes, they expand and spread a little. After that, remove the tarts from the oven and brush with egg glaze. There is no need to wait for the tarts to cool down. Some readers may wonder why can't the tarts be brushed with egg glaze first, then bake in the oven? The reason is very simple - it is to make the tarts look gorgeous and fully glazed all the way to the edges. Imagine this - if the tarts were to be glazed first, then baked, the tarts would expand during baking but the glaze does not expand. So in the end, the tarts turn out looking half-glazed. Fully glazed tarts look prettier. So bake the tarts first, let them expand, then glaze the 'expanded' tarts. Then the tarts will look fully glazed all the way to the edges. After glazing, put the pineapple filling on top of the tarts, do crisscross pattern, glaze the crisscrosses, then bake for another 15 minutes (to cook the tarts thoroughly).

Have lots of fun baking and sharing your pineapple tarts with friends and family. I'm sure they'll love the tarts you make!

Oi Lin