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Steamy Solution to Low-Fat Cake-Making

In Chinese, Recipes on May 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm

My recent interest in steaming has escalated into a full-blown obsession with steamed cakes.

Yes, steamed cakes! Soft fluffy and moist sponge cakes in 30min or less! …no more long lists of ingredients, nor lengthy energy-consuming pre-heating of oven, nor even a need for sticks of buttery unhealthiness to keep the cake moist… not even a messy cleaning aftermath. It saves time, it saves energy, it saves money — absolutely PERFECT for a busy and poor student who craves a sweet treat.

Steaming cake eradicates the problem of tough chewy textures that often plague low fat / fat-free baking. With a little help from baking powder and whisked eggs, cooking the cake in the moist heat of the steamer results in a quick rise and quick set of the sponge cake due to the more effective heat transfer via steam. At the same time, the steam keeps the cake from drying out as it would during oven-baking. This gives the cake a nice open texture with good moisture retention without having to add a whole lot of empty calories to prevent the flour proteins from forming tight gluten networks that result in a tough final product.

I hereby declare the end of my struggles with fat-replacement in baked muffins and cakes.

Just steam ’em!

Steamed Egg Cake Recipe adapted from HappyHomeMaker

  • 3 eggs
  • 150g sugar (I used half brown half white)
  • 100g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional: Raisins / Vanilla essence / Almond essence / Ground cinnamon
  1. Heat up the water in your steamer.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and whisk the whites adding sugar halfway until stiff peaks form. (Alternatively, beating the whole eggs till foamy will work too, but takes longer.)
  3. Mix in the yolks and fold in flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in 1 tsp of essence and a large handful of raisins at the end if you’d like.
  5. Pour batter into a dish and steam for ~20min in the heated steamer. (Mine: 20cm diameter cake, ~4cm height)

FAB – Chinese Custard Egg Tarts

In Baking, Chinese, Recipes on May 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Today’s FAB session was especially quick and hassle-free. From gathering the ingredients till washing up and giving away / gobbling up the tarts — all done within 1 hour! It happened so quick, I thought I might as well complete the entire cycle and make the post right away, while the 4 tummies in this house are still digesting happily.

Back in ’96-’98 when my family was living in Hongkong, I often delighted in the weekly dose of freshly baked custard egg tarts from the bakery nearby my piano school. Aaah… definitely the most lovely memories from those weekly lessons πŸ˜› Those fresh-baked dan tat with their flaky pastries and sweet wobbly eggy filling were absolutely heart- and tummy-warmingly heavenly ~*

Btw, flaky tart cases are now on sale (got sale got S’porean) at fakta / netto for 8kr (~1 euro / SGD$2) for 10 pieces of convenient goodies. What are you waiting for?

Chinese Custard Egg Tarts adapted from Chow Times

  • 1 egg
  • 160ml whole milk
  • 40g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 10 ready-made tart shells
  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  2. Warm the sugar with the milk in the microwave for about 30s until lukewarm (just to dissolve the sugar).
  3. Mix the egg and vanilla essence into the sweetened milk and strain to remove any lumps.
  4. Pour into tart shells (fill to the rim as it will decrease in height as water evaporates) and bake for 12-14min.
  5. Eat them straight from the oven for maximum enjoyment!

*Adjust the sugar for your desired level of sweetness. Mine were slightly less sweet than the one’s at the shop, but I love it this way! πŸ™‚

Look at that quivery custard!

滑月-Chinese Red Eggs

In Chinese, Recipes on April 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Today I celebrate my blog-baby’s 1st month anniversary by posting you some Chinese Red Eggs:

In Chinese tradition, the baby’s first full month (滑月 – man yue) is celebrated with a party where parents of the baby give out red-dyed eggs as a symbol of happiness and renewal of life. This is rooted in ancient Chinese culture where a baby’s survival of the vulnerable 1st month is a worthy cause of celebration.

The key to making red eggs is to hard-boil the eggs in a slightly acidified solution, in which the acid reacts with the calcium carbonate egg shell (you will see bubbles on the shell), increasing its porosity to the dye that you will use later. Rolling the hot egg in some red dye after cooking allows the dye to quickly stain the shell, while the heat dries the dye before it colours the egg red. You’d then have an egg that is no different from a hard-boiled egg, apart from its pretty red shell (or pink in my case)! πŸ™‚

Chinese Red Egg Recipe

  • Eggs
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Red dye (I used the red colouring solution instead of preparing from the concentrated powder, hence my pink eggs!
  1. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with water. Add a splash of vinegar.
  2. Cook on low heat for 30-40min.
  3. Spoon individual eggs into bowl containing the red dye and swirl around until you’re satisfied.
  4. Remove and leave aside to cool while you do other eggs!

One month ago, I created poorskinnychef on a whim, as an experimental venture to catalog both my earthly and outlandish food adventures and share the interesting bits of science I’ve learnt in school. I began with much hesitation, like a baby taking her first steps, even imploring a friend not to publicize it because I wasn’t sure of sustaining this effort. However, as the first comments came in, I started to feel an immense pleasure in writing about food, and sustaining this blog was no longer an ‘effort’ but something I look forward to. As a month-old anniversary gift to nourish this blogbaby, I’ve ordered Harold McGee’s encyclopedia ‘On Food and Cooking’ from Amazon.uk (due to arrive in a week)! πŸ™‚ Meanwhile, poorskinnychef will be off for six days on a little expedition out of Copenhagen and will be back soon with more yummy stories to tell!

Now in beautiful hard-cover! πŸ˜€ Can’t wait!!

Tamagoyaki β™₯ Sushi β™₯β™₯β™₯

In Japanese, Recipes on April 2, 2010 at 11:27 am

Eggs are my new best friend (hlyf, you’ve been displaced).

Another friend of mine once told me that nothing makes me happier than good food. Ha. Stubborn as I am, some things are just very hard to deny. Interestingly, this same friend has a love for tamagoyaki, a Japanese sweet-type omelette. I’ve always underrated this simple dish, opting for more ‘special options’ like unagi or jellyfish sushi on my visits to sushi restaurants while A happily tucks into one tamagoyaki sushi after another. Gee I’ve been missing out big time.

Since the start of my master’s course, I’ve learnt not to generalize food preferences. One man’s meat tamago is another man’s poison jellyfish. Too many factors contribute to the way we choose our food: culture, peer influence, family, gender, tasting abilities, personality, physiology, beliefs, individual life experiences, ambience, price, presentation… even our mother’s diet during pregnancy (amniotic fluid yumyum) can also play a part in how we choose our foods.

Anyway, the reason why I mention this is because I’d never have given tamagoyaki a chance, if I had not been faced with a task of preparing a sushi dinner for friends in an exorbitant land; if I had not a friend who has such a love for tamagoyaki; and if my impending food choice final exams had not made me especially aware that there could be good probability that something that is so liked by someone else might actually have certain intrinsic sensory characteristics that I have been blind to. Very blind.

Going back to ‘poor student’ theme, eggs are also a gem because they are cheaper than meat (18kr/SGD$4.60 for 15 eggs vs. 45kr / SGD$11.50 for 2 chicken breasts) and egg whites are also the best source of protein (besides breast milk) as its amino acid composition are in the exact proportions that our body needs. In addition, since becoming a flexitarian 2.5 years ago, I’ve been pretty much counting on eggs, milk and soya bean products (one of the few plant sources of complete protein) as my protein sources for my normal diet, whilst still indulging my food obsessions whenever I’m out on occasional food hunting trips with my foodie friends. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, since coming to Europe, I’ve been robbed of my soy options (definitely not a fan of tough meat-like western tofus) and eggs have suddenly risen my ingredient ranks. And with β™₯ tamagoyaki β™₯ in the picture now, eggs are so totally off the charts.

Tamagoyaki is simple, yet impressive. Depending on how authentic you want it to be, you can get really tasty tamagoyaki with simply egg, soya sauce / salt and sugar. (IMHO to a poor student, taste is more important than authenticity) But because I’ve bought mirin for preparing the sushi dinner, I’ve managed to make it complete, similar to the recipe of JustHungry except that I did not have the square pan — not that it mattered at all πŸ˜‰

Tamagoyaki β™₯ Recipe adapted from Just Hungry

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 dessertspoons (dsp) or 3 tbsp water (can be omitted if you like a firmer egg)
  • 1 tsp soya sauce
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1 heaped dsp or 1 flat tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  1. Use a kitchen paper towel to grease the frying pan
  2. Mix ingredients in a beaker / measuring cup / easy-to-pour device
  3. Heat frying pan to moderate-low heat (or if you raise the heat, you brown one side of each layer and get something that looks like kueh lapis)
  4. Pour a thin layer of egg and swivel pan to coat base
  5. Roll from the edge, just as surface of egg starts to coagulate (jelly-like appearance)
  6. Repeat with layers until all the egg is used up
  7. Cut and eat if you’re impatient, or shape on a sushi mat for a more pleasing appearance / for tamagoyaki sushi

Recipe alternatives: Adding 1 tsp sugar + 1 dsp water + 1/2 tsp soya sauce or sprinkle of salt to 1 egg makes a simpler and yummy tamagoyaki though it tastes slightly different from the japanese ones. Good enough for me, I’d say! But for friends and family, only the best is good enough. πŸ˜‰