Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steamed Pumpkin Cake

This savoury dish is a typical Chinese snack usually taken during breakfast or afternoon tea.  I made this over the weekend as I was ordered by the 'home minister' in my house to clear the two pumpkins that had been lying idle in the kitchen for almost three weeks.  

I was cracking my head hard thinking of what to cook the pumpkins with.  Of course, I was trying to be creative (oh, please!) and thinking of something different and pumpkin juice, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkins buns, pumpkin breads or even pumpkin ice-cream.   Well, none of them seemed appealing to me.  Not wanting to take the risk, I finally decided to go back to the usual savoury steamed pumpkin cake, a popular breakfast or party snack among the Chinese community.

Well, preparing the dish is surprisingly easy, nothing very complicated.  The ingredients used are rather standard and easily available.  The 3 most basic ingredients are rice flour, water, and of course pumpkin (mashed, grated, or cubed).......that's it!  To make it savoury and flavourful, minced meat (either chicken or pork), mushrooms, chinese sausages, dried shrimps and fried shallots are added.  Then, comes salt and pepper for taste AND spring onions and sliced chilies for garnish.

Now, the most important part is the texture of the cake.  This is where personal preference comes in. Some like it hard and springy AND some like it slightly softer.  It all depends on the water used.  The standard flour-water ratio is 1:3.  For example, for 100g of rice flour, we may need 300g of water.  From here, you work your way up or down.  If you prefer a slightly softer texture, then add a little bit more water (about 50ml) and vice versa. 

The Recipe:
(adapted from Fong's Kitchen, with slight modification)

700g of pumpkin
250g of rice flour
1 tbsp of corn flour (to make the texture smooth)
750ml of water (this amount of water yields a rather soft texture.  I suggest that you reduce to 650ml)

100g of chicken/pork meat
70g of dried prawn (I find it a little too much, maybe should reduce it to 50g)
1 tsp chicken stock, powered form
3 dried mushroom (optional)
1 chinese sausage (optional)

2 tsp of oil
2 cloves garlic

1 tsp Salt
1 tsp pepper

10 shallots
1 red chilli
1 stalk of spring onions

Preparation :
  1. Soak the dried prawns, mushrooms and chinese sausage for half an hour or until they are soft. (As there's flavour in the water, I did not throw it, instead I used it to make up to the 750ml of water required)
  2. Skin and cut the chicken meat into cubes.  You may also mince the meat.
  3. Mince the garlic.
  4. Skin the pumpkin and cut it into small cubes.
  1. Steam pumpkin until soft and fork tender.  Lightly mashed half of it.  Set aside.
  2. Add water and chicken stock to the sifted rice flour and corn flour.  Stir well until flour is completely dissolved.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry garlic and dried prawns until crisp and fragrant.
  4. Add in chicken meat, mushrooms and chinese sausage and stir-fry until it is cooked.
  5. Add in pumpkin and continue stir-frying, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper. 
  7. Pour in the rice flour mixture, and stir it till it turns sticky.
  8. Pour mixture into a 21cm round cake tin and level the surface with a spatula.  (You may drizzle some oil on the spatula to ease leveling the surface)
  9. Steam it over boiling water at medium fire for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. Prepare toppings while steaming the cake. Cut shallot into slices and fry it till light brown. Slice the red chillies and spring onions.
  11. Remove the cake from the steamer and sprinkle topping ingredients immediately on the hot cake. 
  12. Wait for the cake to cool down before cutting into slices and serve.
  1. If you want your pumpkin cake to look slightly yellowish, mash the pumpkin a little.  
  2. The cake can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week. Before serving, heat it up in the microwave oven or steamer. Alternatively, it can be cut into rectangle and pan-fry until light brown. The pan-fried crisped pumpkin cake is utterly delicious. 
Updates - 23/4/15
* Made with one whole pumpkin (weighs about 1600g).
* Double up the rice flour to 500g with 1300ml of water.
* The texture of the cake turned out perfect, just the way I wanted it (neither too soft nor too hard)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fluffy Pancake

If you are looking for a light, soft and fluffy pancake, then this recipe will win you over.  Though I am not a fan of pancakes, I do crave for it once in a blue moon.   I have tried making it once but wasn't really satisfied with the outcome.  They turned out a little rubbery and compact.  But this recipe gives you a really soft and light texture that it easily absorbs anything that is spread and drizzled on be it butter, honey or syrup.

One thing that I like about this recipe is that it uses the egg separation method.  Egg whites and egg yolks are beaten separately and this eventually makes the pancake light and fluffy.  A drizzle of any kind of syrup (for me I like maple syrup best) or even honey is just what you need to complete everything and to brighten your day.      

Well, just a little bit of sharing....I have learnt the following tips in order to make a good pancake : 

  1. Never over-flip your pancake so that you can get a fluffy pancake.  Over-flipping will just deflate the pancake.
  2. To know when exactly you need to flip the pancake is to wait for the bubbles to form in the centre and then burst.
  3. Always apply oil to the pan with wadded paper towels.  This is necessary to avoid  uneven cooking.  If you pour oil directly into the pan, in may pool in some areas while leaving other parts of the pan dry.  The uneven cooking will cause the flapjacks to burn in some areas and undercook in others.  
  4. Once the pancake is cooking on the pan, give it some space. Do your best not to shake the pan or move the batter -- this will hinder the pancake from rising properly.

If you wanna try making your own pancakes, here's the recipe, adapted from Edith of Rumbling Tummy.  Till then, have a great day ahead!


280g plain flour
8g baking powder
78g castor sugar
½ tsp salt
3 egg, separated
1.5 cup milk
85g melted unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Sift flour and baking powder. Add sugar and salt together into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk yolks, milk, melted butter and vanilla together.
  3. Whisk wet mixture into the dry mixture. Should be slightly lumpy.
  4. Whip the egg white until medium peak. Not stiff. Do not over whip the egg whites.
  5. Gently fold in half of the egg white into the egg batter with a large spatula. Then gently fold in the remaining egg white.
  6. The batter should be slightly lumpy and have large parts of the egg whites not fully incorporated.
  7. Heat pan and add 1 tsp butter. With a fat ladle, scoop the batter and pour into the hot pan.
  8. Flip over once brown to cook the other side.
Serve warm.

Happy trying!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Soft Fluffy Orange Cake

I have been making orange cakes several times and this recipe is by far the best and the most satisfying one.

I whipped this cake when we had our sibling get-together session on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.  We have not been meeting each other for almost three months. Since the meet up was arranged during tea time at mom's house, I was thinking that perhaps a simple homemade cake would just go perfect with a cup of hot coffee.

Coincidentally, I stumbled upon this amazing recipe on Google+ while waiting for my sister's call.  I could not exactly recall what attracted me to this recipe but all I knew, this could be THE  recipe I was looking for and before I could say anything further, I was already in the kitchen whipping my magic.

Thankfully, everything turned out well and I was absolutely pleased with the results.  The cake rose and baked beautifully in the oven.  For the first time ever, in my baking history - No domed shape!  No cracked top!  No over-burned top!  What came out was - a soft, moist and fluffy little sweet treat, all ready to wow me and the entire family.

True enough, the cake was a winner that afternoon.  In fact, it's always a bliss to eat a cake while it's still warm, soft and fluffy.  That could be the reason everyone was going around ooh and ahh and subsequently complementing me and my wife.  Wait a minute, my WIFE?  What has she got to do with the cake?  Actually, what they meant was....."you are damn lucky to have such an amazing husband."  LOL!  Well, to me it was THE RECIPE that made me so-called AMAZING, okay!  I - JUST - FOLLOW! 

So, my dear friends, if you wanna be as AMAZING as I am, then FOLLOW the recipe below....(hehehe!)

The Recipe:
(adapted from Monica of  Lick The Bowl Good)

Note : For this recipe, I have reduced the amount of sugar both in the cake and in the orange glaze.  I find the sugar used in the orange glaze was a little crazy.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks/about 230g) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (I reduced to 3/4 cup)
  • 4 eggs, room temp.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 7 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (I reduced to 1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
The Method:
  1. Heat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. 
  2. Then butter the paper and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar well, until it is very pale and thick - this will take quite a while.
  4. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition, then add the zest. Add the flour, baking powder and salt all at once, and beat well, then slowly add the orange juice until it is incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 35-40 minutes - or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (slow is best, so don' t be afraid to cook it longer. If it starts to brown too much on the top, cover loosely with a sheet of buttered foil.)
  6. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15-20 minutes on a wire rack. Then invert onto a plate, remove the parchment paper and allow to cool completely before glazing.
  7. To make the icing, stir the orange juice into the icing sugar until you have the right spreading consistency. 
  8. Pour the icing onto the cake and spread with a spatula or butter knife, allowing the icing to drip down the sides of the cake.
  9. Leave the icing to set before cutting the cake into wedges or storing in an airtight container.

NOTE (from Monica) : I thought the glaze was rather sweet and needed more orange flavor so I suggest adding some grated orange zest to the glaze for more intense flavor.