Friday, June 20, 2008

Butter Pound Cake

Baking a butter cake is really not that easy to be completely honest. Usually the simpler the cake is, the harder it is to make. Just like cooking, stir frying an excellent dish of vegies is probably harder than stewing some meat. Some things look simple because the steps and ingredients are minimal. However the challenge lies in the execution & in finding the right balance between the ingredients.

Pound cake is basically an American sponge butter cake, which was done at a time when the methods of measuring were not so good. So the cake was done with one pound of flour, butter, egg and sugar each. But to achieve a good balance between moistness, texture and taste is really not so easy. It should be soft & moist, not dry and coarse. In terms of texture, the crust should be fine and airholes should be even and small, which makes it look dense. Taste wise, light and buttery. I tried to make it a couple of times and I think it is ready.

Here is the recipe, Aunty Terri. Don't know if this is exactly what you wanted but do try and see if it is close to the Sara Lee ones that you were talking about. Even if it is not, I think this recipe is still quite nice on its own but if you do make it better and let me know. Good luck!

Make an 8-inch square cake

300 gm of butter like Farmcows
250 gm of flour
250 gm of castor sugar
4 large eggs (about 200 over grams)
1/2 to 3/4 teasp of ovalette or cake emulsifiers
2/3 teasp of baking powder
2 tbsp of milk
100 gm of apricot or dried fruits soaked with 1 tbsp of alcohol like cointreu or rum (optional)

1) Semi soften the chilled butter. If you use farmcows or the like (which is a little like spread), press your finger into the butter. It should not be melting soft or cold hard. A good softness is when it can slowly dent it. Beat butter with k-beater till puffy and pale in colour approximately 8-10 min. Set aside.

2) In another clean bowl, beat eggs with sugar on high. As it starts to increase in volume, add ovalette and continue beating till thick. It is almost ready when strong defined lines start appearing as the whisk moves in the mixture. Do not let mixture get higher than the whisk. This is a very critical step. If you overbeat it, the cake will turn out coarse with big airholes. If you underbeat it, the cake will turn out hard.

3) Turn to slow and slowly add in butter. Continue slow mixing. Add sifted flour and baking powder. Continue slow mixing and add milk. Mix till mixture is even.

4) With a clean hand and fingers shaped into a claw like how you hold a computer mouse, stir the mixture till you can feel the tightness in the batter. This is the secret to make butter cake tight yet light.

5) Preheat oven to 165 deg non fan forced and bake for 35 minutes till golden brown or when toothpick poke into cake turns out clean. Do not overbake as doing so causes dryness. One very obvious sign of overbaking is when the cake start pulling away from the tin during baking.

I wrote this based on my own experience, which may not be entirely correct. Hopefully, it will help. Do share if you have any better way.


I like adding dried apricots or dried mixed fruits to my cake because Greg likes the crunch. Apricot is our favourite. Soak apricots with 3 tbsp of hot water and cut into small cubes. Soak further with a tbsp of cointreu or grand marnier. With dried fruits, soak with dark rum. Add before step 4. But adding fruits will make cutting a little more difficult but if the cake is tight, it should not have fruits falling all over during cutting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fish Ball Tang Hoon

Fish Ball Vermicelli is an excellent 'clearing' dish. It is something that Greg and I would eat should we want a light meal at home. And there is nothing tastier than homemade fish balls. It may not be as super smooth as commercial ones but the taste is really pure fish sweetness. So I strongly recommend making your own for this recipe.

Homemade fish balls can also play a part in Fish Mee Hoon and Hakka Yong Tou Fu dishes or just throw some of them into clear vegetable soups for additional bites.

Serve 4-5
The Fish Balls
350 to 400gm of mackarel fish meat
2 teasp of salt
1 teasp of pepper
3 1/2 tbsp of cold water
3 tbsp of egg white
1 1/2 teasp of MSG

1) Choose a nice fresh medium sized, flat mackarel fish. Do a three part filleting on the fish. Scrap the fish meat with a spoon.

2) Place fish meat in chopper/mincer machine and mincing for a minute or so. Stop to add seasoning and continue mincing. Add egg white and water and mince till fish glutten can be seen at the side of the mincing bowl.
3)Dish out the minced fish paste. Prepare a bowl of icy water with ice in it. Wet your hands a little or if you have warm hands like mine, dip your hands in the cold water and with the same hand, start beating the fish meat against a flat surface. Scoop up and continue beating till the paste looks smooth and feels springy. Wet or dip your hands as you go along.

4) Once ready, hold some paste in your hand and do the fist motion. Paste will be squeezed out from your thumb and forefinger. With a wet metal spoon, scoop the paste right into the cold bowl of water. Continue till paste finishes.

5) Soak balls for 20 min or so in the icy water. Prepare a pot of water and boil fish balls till they float to the surface. Dish out and set aside. You can freeze balls for future usage.

The Tang Hoon Soup

3-4 bundles of vermicelli (tang hoon), soaked till soften
1/2 tbsp of minced garlic
1/2 tbsp of minced shallots
3 tbsp of cooking 4
1.5 - 1.8 litre of superior chicken soup
2 tbsp of light soya
vegies like Q chai, blanched in hot water
Perserved Dong chai, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat pot with oil, stir fry garlic and shallots till fragrant. Add superior chicken soup and light soya. Simmer for 10 min or so. Add fish balls and bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2) Cook tanghoon in boiling water and rinse with cold water. Divide into 4-5 bowls. Divide vegies and place a little bit of dong chai into bowls, and dish out fish ball soup and fish balls to each bowl. Serve with cut chillis and soya.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Honeydew Sago Cream

Mi Gua Xi Mi Lu is a very popular chinese dessert, which appears in many wedding banquets, dinners, dessert shops overseas and yum cha places. I have always wanted to try making it at home because I personally love it. And when I tried it out, Greg was so happy digging away, nodding his head and mumbling "top notch, top notch". So I think it is bloggable. My version was a little thick after refridgeration. So here, I double the water portion to thin it out a little.

Serve 8-10
125-150 gm of sago
1.5 litre of water

1) Wash sago and boil with 1.5 litre of water till sago is almost all cooked (becomes clear and see through). Stir all the time to prevent burning or sticking to pot.

2) Pour cooked sago through a strainer and wash/rinse with cold water to wash off the sago powder and any stickiness. Set aside.

800 ml of water
600 ml of coconut milk, use first santan from 1/2 kg of coconut squeezed with 1 cup of water
220 to 250 gm of castor sugar or 200 gm of granulated sugar
1/2 teasp of salt
1/2 no of medium honeydew, diced to small cubes or dig out as little balls approx 400-500gm

3) Cook sugar with water till sugar melts. Return the cooked sago to the sugar water and let it boil for a few minutes. Slowly add in coconut milk and salt and bring the mixture to a light boil. Turn off fire and add honeydew cubes or balls. Serve hot or set aside to cool and keep in fridge for at least 6 hours. Best taken fully really cold.

4) If you still think mixture is too thick for your taste, cook some mild sugar water and set aside. Add to honeydew mixture to make it thinner, if you wish, before serving.


You can use rockmelon to replace honeydew.

If you don't like the strong cooked coconut taste, you can cook half the coconut milk and once cooled a little, add the other half.

You can also cook sugar, water and coconut milk and set aside to chill in fridge. And only combine with refridgerated sago and honeydew before serving. This way the sago will absorb less liquid and hence a thinner mix but honeydew fragrance may not come out well and there is no soaking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

St. Paul's Cathedral is Ruined!!!

Heheh. That was just little attention grabbing headline...

Ok, so we're guilty of doing the super touristy spots. If you're in Macau, you'll probably end up at this place. This is called the Menado Square, where the people gather, events are held, & things are happening.

The square is part of the Historic Centre of Macau, which is a World Heritage Site. Don't play play.

It is fundamentlly a long stretch of sometimes winding streets, narrow alleys & squares, which include "the world's oldest western architectural heritage on Chinese soil today".

We had a tourist guide map with us that day, but did not make the effort to seriously map out what we wanted to see along the way, partly because we had already found food.

And because we had too much food, we had to detour somewhere else instead as our immediate destination...

Yes. You got it right. McD. It had the least dirtiest, & most accessible toilets that we could find.

Don't laugh, I had a bad time there holding it in. The Steamed Milk Custard which we had a while ago was screaming to get out, but I needed a calm environment for this activity. Only people who bake can understand this. You need the most optimum condition to make good cakes.

After the ordeal, I became more calm & more aware of my surroundings. It quickly became apparent that Macau is just like any other cities in Malaysia with a strange mix of colonial & Chinese architecture.

There are many famous buildings along the Historic Centre route. We did not get to see everything but this is one of them - St. Joseph's Seminary & Church, established in 1728.

I wonder if they had clean toilets in there.

If you do not have enough time to see everything like us, then you could do the shorter trail from Menado Square & ending up at The Ruins of St. Paul.

You'd know you're getting close to the Ruins when the shops on both left & right start selling BBQ pork.

Now, I don't think there is any historical correlation between BBQ pork & St. Paul. I think it's just one of those things that's just there.

For us both, the combination of food & sight seeing always makes the perfect holiday. We brought some home for the Chinese New Year. So folks who came over to our house during CNY actually had imported Macau BBQ pork. YEAH.

Oh, we bought some Macau biscuits too, but the photos could not be found.

This is what you can see along the wide steps that lead up to the Ruins.

Macau, like Hong Kong, is such a dense place. People are just living next to historical monuments.

I don't know if St. Paul's evangelical effort ever paid off, cos there's this little temple right below it.

I don't think this was a statue of St. Paul. It looks like something that symbolises the assimilation between Portugese & Chinese cultures - sort of like the Admiral Cheng Ho Friendship Park in Kuching. We have a huge Cheng Ho statue there, & the funny thing is that he never even set his foot in Kuching.

Behold! The Ruins of St. Paul.

What's left of the Ruins was only this facade structure. The rest was engulfed in flames.

Endless enovation work is still being carried out.

Oh, Nee got her must-have tourist fridge magnet souvenir.

Nuffnang Ad