Friday, September 21, 2007
Wow! When I saw that video on YouTube, I saved it to my playlist straightaway. I love watching creative cake decorating. It's just fascinating!
Whipping cream: I enjoy doing cake decorating - simple stuff, nothing too complicated. Chiffon cakes can be a little challenging to decorate because of the hole in the middle. But it can be filled easily with whipping cream or even fruits. I buy my whipping cream from Phoon Huat because I can't find it at any local supermarkets. The only gripe I have is that the cream comes in 1 litre packs. And I don't need that much! Usually a cake requires about 250ml of whipping cream. And since whipping cream does not keep well, I've had to throw the rest of it after a few days. What a waste. If only whipping cream comes in smaller packs.
Chiffon cakes: I have this thing for chiffon cakes - I've been trying to master it for the longest, longest time. Chiffon cake recipes usually ask for the baked cake to be overturned immediately upon removal from the oven. The reason is so the cake retains its height and not sink due to gravity. And when the cake has completely cooled after a few hours, the cake is turned right side up and then removed from its tin. Now, the problem with the chiffon cakes I make is this: after overturning the cake, within minutes, I hear this 'plop' sound - the cake (or part of it) drops out from the tin!! How in the world did other bakers get their cakes to stay in the tin for a few hours??
An overturned chiffon cake tin (also known as a tube pan)
I've tried various methods, changed the proportions of ingredients, used different cake tins, experimented with baking temperatures and times, even whipped the egg whites by hand (very tiring, but it really tones up the arm muscles). But NOTHING works. I still hear that 'plop' sound every time I make a chiffon cake. But I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep working on it. One day, my chiffon cakes will stay overturned for many hours till they completely cool. And when I succeed, I'm going to publish it in my next book.
Why I prefer homemade peanut butter: Ever since traces of salmonella were found in a certain brand of peanut butter, I've stopped buying peanut butter altogether and tried making it myself. And it's actually very easy and incredibly tasty too! And of course, since it's homemade, I know it'll be salmonella-free. Homemade peanut butter is also transfat free. I use cooking oil instead of shortening (a very unhealthy fat). What's more, I can control the amount of sugar I add to the peanut butter.
Raw peanuts: I bought the above raw peanuts from Cold Storage at the Dried Foods section. Sometimes, I get them from Fairprice or Carrefour. They all taste the same and do not differ in quality. I usually grab about 4 to 5 packs at one go, because sometimes, they run out of stock. When I reach home, I store them in the freezer. Peanuts have a high fat content and they become rancid quickly in our warm climate. But when frozen, they last several months.
Homemade crunchy peanut butter
How to make peanut butter: Simply bake the peanuts in a preheated 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10 to 15 minutes till brown. Remove the skin of the peanuts. If using blanched peanuts, skip this step since the skin has already been removed for you. Grind the nuts in a blender/grinder. Then stir in a few spoonfuls of icing sugar. (You can use granulated sugar but you'll end up with a gritty texture. Which is why I prefer icing sugar because of its smooth powdered texture.) The next ingredient to add is a few spoonfuls of mild-flavoured cooking oil such as canola or sunflower oil. (I don't use peanut oil here because somehow it doesn't go well. I know it's kind of strange - I mean, peanuts should go well with peanut oil, right?) Then mix everything till well combined. Taste the peanut mixture. Then add more sugar or oil according to your taste. Store the peanut butter in a clean, airtight jar in the fridge. It will keep for about 10 days.
Peanut butter on toasted bread
Enjoy: You can spread it on bread and have it for breakfast. When spreading the peanut butter, press it down hard on the bread so that the peanut butter stays on the bread and not fall all over the plate. This homemade peanut butter also goes well with pancakes, waffles, Gardenia hot dog buns and mian jian kueh. It's so yummy you can even eat it on its own.
Lose weight: I've read somewhere that eating a small amount of nuts every day can help a person maintain or even lose weight! Because of its fat (the good kind of fat) and protein content, it helps one to feel full and so the hunger pangs do not strike that often.