Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mille Crepe Cake

I have to say Mille Crepe Cake is my kids' top favourite cake.  I can't exactly remember when I started making this desert but it was somewhere in 2009 after I purchased my first ever Flavours Magazine where the recipe was hidden inside.  I have totally lost count as to how many times I have made this cake, but all I can remember is whenever I announce that I am going to make one, my son will be prancing and jumping around in glee.  

Well, Mille Crepe Cake is made famous in Malacca by Nadeje Cake House  which specializes in (of course) crepe cakes.  Established in 2006, this cake house has been flourishing steadily and has indeed been an iconic desert house in Malacca, so much so crepe cake is already synonymous to the name of its restaurant.  Local tourists when visit Malacca will very likely put Nadeje and Crepe Cake  as their must-visit place and must-eat food on their itinerary.  Some even go on to say that no trip to Malacca will be complete if one does not visit Nadeje or eat crepe cake, just as no trip to Malacca is complete if one does not visit the Stadhuys or eat the Melaka Satay Celup or the Chicken Rice Ball.  So, there it is, the influence of crepe cake in Malacca.

By the way, I made this cake last Sunday when my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law together with their children gathered at my house to celebrate Mid Autumn Festival or some called it Mooncake Festival.  Ironically, there was no mooncake served but crepe cake.  I know that the children love eating crepe cake, so I thought it would be a good idea to pamper them with this indulgence while they fiddle with their paper lanterns.  Anyway, everyone was engrossed enjoying the cake that none of them including the adults noticed the absence of the mooncake.  So, this proves to say that my crepe cake ruled the night! Ha ha!


Well, joke aside, making crepe cake is another laborious work.  For the first timers, the task can be really time-consuming and daunting although there's no baking involved.  It can easily eat half of your day away.  The steps include:

1. Making the crepe batter
2. Making the pastry cream
3. Making the crepe sheets.  This is really tough.  It usually takes me 1 1/4 hours to make 20pcs
4. Assembling all the above

Generally, I am acceptably happy with the taste of the cake.  It's rich in flavour.  To some who don't take milk, the taste of milk can be a little overpowering.  The cake also gives out a very nice pleasing milky scent.  But two things that I am still struggling to achieve are:

1. The thickness of crepe sheets.  All I want is the paper-thin type, just like what Nadeje produces.
2. The pastry cream.  Mine does not look sturdy in that it does not hold and support the crepe sheets
    well.  It will just melt, collapse and become runny.  I hope somebody can shed some light here!
    Is there anything that I should add or any other cream I should substitute it with? 

So, here's the recipe I have been using:

The Recipe:
(I adapted it from Cream Puffs In Venice)

A) The Crepe Batter (makes 20 pcs of crepes)
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tbsp. sugar
Pinch salt
vegetable oil

The day before serving the cake, make the crepe batter and the pastry cream. For the batter, cook the butter in a small pan until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the crepes, bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crepes.

B)The Vanilla Cream Pastry:
2 cups milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tbsp. butter

Bring the milk to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract then set aside for 10 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

C) To assemble:

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Kirsch
icing sugar (optional)

Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar and the Kirsch. It won’t hold stiff peaks but that’s okay. Fold it into the pastry cream.

Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice like a cake.

Must try yah!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

KL Chilli Pan Mee

Our palate can sometimes be unreasonably picky and weird.  For the past three weeks (just imagine, 3 WEEKS!) I have had a dire crave for Chilli Pan Mee.  It just happens for NO REASON!  Weird!  Almost twice a week I would have to please my palate with pan mee.  Well, yesterday I finally drew the curtain on.  I walloped two bowls of pan mee in a day - one at lunch and one at dinner.  That somehow cloyed my appetite and it was the last straw - it's time I call it quit!  No more pan mee for 1 month...or 2 weeks...or perhaps 5 days?? see!  Weird!

I first had my chilli pan mee about three years back in this restaurant here, called Restoran Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee in Taipan, USJ, thanks to my eldest sister, Iris for bringing me there.  I would say it wasn't a love-at-first-sight kind of encounter.  It took me quite a while, after about 2-3 visits to this restaurant before I acquired the taste and eventually lurved this KL-born treat.  It was entirely different for my son where the taste almost instantly hit him and bingo, loved it!  

In Malacca, pan mee is not really that popular, well I can say not popular AT ALL!  It's normally called mee hoon kueh or in my Baba-nyonya language, kueh cubit-cubit (sorry if I'm wrong but my family has been calling it by that name ever since).  The shape is different in that the noodle is torn apart (from the dough), flatten and stretched to the desired thickness with the fingers. That's the reason some call it hand-torn noodles.  As a matter of fact, KL pan mee is seriously gaining its following here in Malacca.  Stalls selling pan mee are mushrooming steadily in food courts.  Whatever it is, KL's pan mee still fares better in taste.  But one thing the both have in common and I believe many would agree with me - eating pan mee can really be addictive! 

Well, let's come back to my experience in making my own pan mee.  To put it simply, the experience was frighteningly laborious!  The next time, I would rather buy it outside!  I spent the whole morning making just three bowls.  Making the chilli paste took me about 1 hour.  Making the dough including letting it set in the fridge was another 45 mins.  Making the minced meat ingredient stole another 45 mins.  Making the soup and poaching the eggs took another 30 mins.  And the worst part was making the noodles (I manually handmade them, strand by strand), 1 more hour.  Luckily, assembling everything was just a miniscule 5 mins.  And luckily also, it was for my wife and children.  Had it for other people, I would have cursed and sworn! 

Generally, I am quite satisfied with what came out.  Although the work was painstakingly time-consuming, the satisfaction eating what you have laboured for hours made all the efforts paid off.  What excites me when eating pan mee is when I puncture the egg yolk and mix everything together.  Looking at how the runny egg yolk oozes out and blends with the other condiments and eventually makes up the sauce just fires the taste buds and salivates the mouth.  Aarhh, heavenly! 

Now, here's the recipe:

The Recipe:
(Serves 4)
(I adapted from Swee San from The Sweet Spot)

A) Dry Chilli Paste
      2 handful of Dried Chillies, soaked
      2 Fresh red chillies
      2 Fresh Chilli Padies (or more if you want even more
         kick) - I omitted this
      1 palm of Dried Shrimp
      5 Shallots or 2 Medium Onions
      4 tablespoons of Oil

      Blend the ingredients, you might need to add a little
      bit of oil to help the blender

      Then transfer into a pan on low heat, fry slowly until
      dry and golden brown. 

      Make sure you keep a close watch over it and stir it
      quite often so it doesn’t burn. This takes about
      30 mins. 

      Once completed, set aside to cool.

B) The Noodles
     500g bread flour
     480ml water
     Pinch of salt

     Mix flour, salt and water together in a mixer with 
     a dough attachment and knead for 5 minutes. 
     Cover in cling film and let it rest for 30 minutes.  
     I kneaded it manually by hand. 

     Cut into 4 portions. Roll out on pasta machine. 
     You can use the thin or thick setting, or cut by hand.

C) The Minced Pork
  • 300g of minced pork
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp light soya sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ¼ cup water
  1. Marinate minced pork with all the sauce.
  2. On a pan, fry garlic in oil. Add in the minced pork and cook. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add water or stock and let it cook till the sauce simmers down
D) The Soup
  • 1L water
  • 1 handful of anchovies
  • Salt & pepper
  • Manicai or baby spinach
  1. Boil water and anchovies in a pot. You can add in stock cubes if you want. Season.
  2. As for manicai (pucuk manis) or spinach, you can blanch it before serving.
E) Assembly
  • Poached Egg
  • Fried Anchovies
  • Coriander leaves
  1. Wash anchovies, dry it well, then fry it. This can be made in advance.
  2. Poach egg, scoop out and set aside.
  3. Cook noodles in the same pot of water till its springy and floats on top.
  4. So first, add noodles. Add 1 tbsp chili (or more), minced meat, fried anchovies, poached eggs and sprinkle some coriander leaves on top.

Happy trying!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Orange Swiss Roll

I was sitting on the couch last night, all alone enjoying my dinner while watching my favourite channel, Asian Food Channel.  Immediately after that, I decided to have a piece of the cake I baked the day before for dessert.  Yes, pretty obvious it was a swiss roll.  The moment I opened the container, the sugary and citrusy scent of the orange flavour almost instantly wafted into the air making me all perked up.  I took a small bite and....'hey, it is not that bad after all!'

In fact, I was very disappointed with the outcome.  The bake did not turn out to be what I had expected.  Everything just seemed not right!  That night, I was doing some office work and at the same time I was baking.  Yes, very clever of me trying to kill two birds with one stone.  At the end of baking, I opened my oven door and was rather shocked to see my cake rose unusually high.  Panicked, I just increased the baking time to another 10 minutes.  Please do not ask me why I did so.  As soon as the cake was taken out, it just collapsed, so as my heart!  So, as expected, the cake was dry and flat.  Then, towards the end of the assembling process, the cream filling suddenly melted and was runny.  I thought of dumping the whole thing into the bin.  Finally, I chucked it into the refrigerator, angry and disappointed. 

The following morning, I was caught by surprise to see the cake, standing proudly and smiling at me and said 'Hi, I'm Miss Swiss, so how do I look like?'  It was rather magical to see her tranformation overnight.  It was as though Miss Swiss knew that I was pissed off with her, so she seek help from Mr. Refrigerator and the latter eventually helped her with the makeover. Ha ha, so dramatic!

Anyway, nonsense aside, I would say the taste of the roll is fairly good.  Not too sweet.  The orange flavour is apparent.  Indeed, orange always goes perfectly well with cream.  In a nutshell, as far as the taste is concerned, everything just blends well.  Though the cake is visibly on the dry side (because I have overbaked it), thank God the cream filling  (I used 100% whipping cream) sort of saves the day in that it moistens the whole thing.  So, it is acceptably delightful once it is in the mouth.  Texture wise, it is rather soft and smooth, just that it is not fluffy.

So, here you go, the recipe.......

The Ingredient:
(I adapted from Hippomama's Kitchen)

A) The Cake 
     4  egg yolks
     70g  orange juice
     1 tbsp orange rind
     40g  vegetable oil
     70g  cake flour, sifted

     4  egg whites
     60g castor sugar

B) Cream Filling
     200g  whipping cream
     1 tbsp superfine sugar

1.  Preheat oven 180c.  Line the cake tray with parchment paper.
2.  In a bowl, whisk in egg yolk, orange juice, orange rind and vegetable oil
     till well combine.  Add in flour, mix well.
3.  In another bowl, beat egg whites till foamy, add sugar in 3 additions.
     Beat till stiff. 
4.  Fold in 1/3 of the meringue into egg yolk mixture, then pour this mixture into
     the balance of the egg white and fold till well incorporated.
5.  Pour  the mixture into the cake tray and spread evenly.  Knock a few times
     on the tabletop to get rid of big bubbles in the batter.
6.  Bake in preheated  oven for 12-15mins or till golden.
7.  Remove the cake from the oven and let it rest to cool.
8.  Remove the cake from the tray and invert it.  Tear out the baking paper.
9.  Spread the top of the cake evenly with cream filling.
10.Gently roll the cake and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour before serving.

 Bon Appetite!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Super Soft Fluffy Bread

If you are overly crazy for soft cottony bread (well, not everybody loves soft bread, some just like it chewy), this recipe could be a keeper and worth bookmarking, thanks to Wendy of Table for 2....or more. 

I was raking my brain last weekend thinking of what to do or rather what to cook to fill my glorious Sunday when suddenly out of nowhere the idea of bread making struck me. Hey, why not? After all, I have been yearning and dying to make one my own. I have never personally experienced playing around with yeast and witness (well at close range) how this microorganism affects the dough. I have always admired with envy how bakeries make such soft fluffy breads.  To me, only bakeries would be able to make that, definitely not amateur like me until I read somewhere that any Tom Dick and Harry can make good bread, of course if given a good recipe.

All excited, I hunted for the recipes through the net.  Among the lot, I finally chose Wendy's, simply for the fact that she presented it in such a straightforward easy-to-follow manner.  Also, her recipe called for coffee creamer.  That sounded unique to me. The last thing was she boldly described her breads as 'wonderfully soft'. Oh, how on earth could I resist that??

So, after breakfast that Sunday, off I went driving around Malacca town, 'chaperoned' by my wife, son and daughter hunting for the ingredients.  Sad to say, not all supermarkets in Malacca sell bread flour.  Seemed that I might have to get it from a cake ingredient shop.  Again, not all shops are open on a Sunday.  Grrrr!  Frustration set in.  At last, I managed to get it from Yami Bake House. When I asked for bread flour, the lady boss was kind enough to recommend me Japanese high protein bread flour.  When I asked her for the differences (between this and the normal bread flour), she was again kind enough to share her knowledge, at great length.  She went on and on so willingly until I was lost and could not make head or tail of what she was rattling about.  Reason?  It was all in Mandarin!!  But one thing I could make out for sure, the flour is presumably much better!!

At home, I checked all the ingredients needed and I soon realized, hey where's the coffee creamer??  I don't store creamer at home.  Cleverly, I scavenged the kitchen drawers and to my delight, I saw quite a few plastic bags containing sachets of sugar, coffee, tea, cereal including creamer.  There were loads of them, all in different colours and logos.  Wow!  What a great collection!  Ahh, to all you ladies out there, especially Asian Chinese, stop pretending!  I'm sure you know what I mean here, in particular where those things might have come from!  I took many sachets with all of them bearing a big yellow 'M' on it.  Whatever it is, thanks to my wife for saving the day!

So, the remaining process of the bread making experience was pretty easy and smooth sailing especially with the dough proofing very beautifully.  The end result was satisfying too. The bread was really fluffy and as what Wendy had described it - wonderfully soft!  

However, one setback was the dough gave out quite a strong unpleasant 'yeasty' smell that freaked my son out.  As expected, he just stayed away from the kitchen for a while and dared not taste the bread.  $#%$@#!!!  The whole house smelled like unwashed shoes and stinky socks.  Then, I checked out in the net and discovered that I could have overproofed the dough.  Eerrm, is it true?  Well, it could be because apparently I had left it sit for more than 4 hours while I went out shopping.  The second setback, I had overbaked the bread just a little too long causing some to be slightly burnt.  However I tried to edit the 'burnt' photos with my photo editor application, the effort was just futile. 

Sigh!!  Never mind-lah, first time!  So, here goes the recipe.....

The Ingredients:

310 bread flour (I used high protein bread flour)
60g  cake flour
40g coffee creamer (coffeemate)
70g sugar
2 tsp instant yeast

115g  milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks

1/3 tsp salt
40g butter

1/2 egg mixed with 1 tsp water

1. Combine (A) together.  Mix it around to combine. 
2. Combine (B), pour into (A) and knead to form a dough.
3. Put (C) into the dough and knead until a smooth dough is formed 
    (I gave this a 15 min knead by hand)
4. Cover the dough and let it proof until it doubles in size
5. Punch down and knead for another 1 minute.
6. Divide dough into 50 or 60g pieces each. 
7. Wrap each piece of dough with preferred fillings
8 Let dough proof until double again and brush (D).  Bake in a preheated oven at 170/190C for 15 
   minutes or until golden brain.