Saturday, 24 April 2010

Marble cake

Last 2 weeks had been really busy. Busy at work, busy in the garden, busy going out. Well indeed it's good that I'm busy, felt like I'm just out of hibernation. Been to London for West End musical show - Thriller. Not what I expected a West End show could be, it involves great participation from audiences, clapping hand, dancing, cheering, more like a concert tome. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the music.
Instead of April shower, this April has been really dry and weather is splendid. We almost had 2 weeks of sunny days and each days are getting warmer. What could be more rewarding than relaxing in one own garden with a cup of afternoon tea with cake. After all this is very core to the tradition of British people. Therefore I baked a marble cake to go with a cuppa.

Marble cake
  • 125 gm butter
  • 125 gm caster sugar
  • 125 gm self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp of milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 gm chocolate (70% cocoa bar)
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a rectangular cake tin.
  2. Melt chocolate with double cream using steaming or use microwave. Let it to cool down.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs
  4. Cream the butter and sugar using food processor/mixer
  5. Add the egg a little at the time into (3) until done.
  6. Then add in the flour, , milk , vanilla essence and mixed well. The cake mixture should look smooth.
  7. Scoop 1/3 of the mixture and mix with the chocolate.
  8. Pour the original mixture into the cake tin then follow by the chocolate mixture from (7)
  9. Bake for 30-35minutes.

Jerry is having a Siesta

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Victoria Sponge Cake

Many of you have heard of the Icelandic volcanic ash has cause chaos in the air travel across Europe. UK air space has been shut down since Thursday. The latest news indicate it will still shut till tomorrow evening 7pm. Yes, few of my friends from Taiwan are stranded in London at the moment. I really hope they can get home soon.
Having baked lemon tart last week, I have spare tub of lite double cream which need to be consumed before used date. Well having my friend over to view my little spring garden, baking a Victoria Sponge Cake sounds ideal with a cuppa.
This is rather classic cake in Britain. As the name suggested, it was named after Queen Victoria, as she favored a slice of sponge cake with her afternoon tea. This is rather easy cake to make.

Victoria Sponge Cake
  • 200g butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of milk
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 100 g strawberry/raspberry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Grease and line 2 x 18cm/7in cake tins with baking paper.
3. Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
4. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract.
5. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consitency.
6. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
8. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack. Let it cool for half an hour.
9. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Whip the cream with vanilla extract till soft peak forms. Leave aside.
10.Sandwich the cakes together with raspberry/strawberry jam and whipped cream. Enjoy with a cup of tea.

We have been granted excellent weather since the early spring, it's really beautiful and weather is warm enough to enjoy the best of outdoor . Attached some pictures from my garden.

Early spring bloom, the show will only gets better

Good sign, my strawberry plant is flowering now....... dreaming of the juicy sweet fruit comes summer
First bloom of my lovely Dutch iris
Lovely tulips
My fruit tree (green gage - a type of sweet plum) is flowering too. I planted the tree last autumn

magnolia bloom-spectacular

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Lemon tart

Today it felt like summer, one could easily fire up a BBQ. It's a wonderful feeling when sun is up, weather is warm, spring flowers in bloom, birds chirping away making their own melody and bumblebees buzzing happily searching for nectar. All this happening in April, the extreme cold we had back in December and January felt so distance and all could only hope for many basking in the sun summer days.
Today I make lemon tart, a nice dessert for a warm day. This recipes I learnt from watching Rachel Allen Bake over at UKTV Good Food Channel. I must say she is a talented cook and I like her down to earth attitude. Am also liking her lemon tart recipes.

Lemon Tart
Ingredients (adapted from UKTV Good Food)

For the sweet shortcrust pastry

  • 200g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g butter , chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lemon, grated zest
  • 125g caster sugar (I use 100gm)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 3 lemons, juice only
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • icing sugar, for dusting
1. For the pastry: Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process briefly.

2. Add half the beaten egg and continue to process. (You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.) If making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then, using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together.

3. With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm thick, then wrap it in cling film or place it in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or, if you are pushed for time, in the freezer for 10–15 minutes, before using.

4. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

5. Line a 23cm tart tin with the shortcrust pastry and cover the base with baking parchment. Fill the tin with baking beans and bake blind for 10-15 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment for the last five minutes of baking for a golden crust.

5. For the filling: Place the eggs, lemon zest and sugar in a bowl and whisk for a couple of minutes until the egg is all broken up.

6. Add the cream, orange and lemon juice. Mix well, skimming off any froth from the top of the mixture. Carefully pour the filling into the cooked pastry case.

7. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/gas 3 and bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until the filling has just set in the centre – it should only wobble very slightly when you take it out of the oven.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing the tart from the tin and transferring to a plate or cake stand. When it is cool, dredge a little icing sugar over the top and cut into slices to serve.

Cook's tip: Rachel suggests rolling out the pastry between two sheets of clingfilm to help keep it together, then removing the top layer of film and flipping it into the tin. She also keeps the top layer of clingfilm in whilst the pastry shell is baking blind.

Enjoy the tart.

I also did make some photo shoots from garden this afternoon..... to my readers, enjoy the bloom

Friday, 2 April 2010

Tau Yu Bak (Braised pork in soya sauce)

For this authentic dish, I must insist one can't go wrong with pork belly. If you're health conscious, slot in extra time on treadmill to burn off that extra calories :-) . After all if you like braised meat like myself, it's well worth the extra day of cycling for 10miles.

Tau Yu Bak (Braised pork in soya sauce)
Ingredients (serve 4)
  • 500 gm pork belly marinade with
    1 tbsp light soy sauce
    1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
    1 tbs oyster sauce
    1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tbs sugar or to taste
  • Other ingredients:
    • 4 whole garlic pods with skin on
    • 1 star anise
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 4 cloves
    • 1 tbsp dark caramel sauce (I use Cheong Chan brand)
    • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sugar or to taste
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tsp of cooking oil

  • 1. Marinate pork for several hours or overnight.
    2. Heat a heavy based cast iron pot on medium heat, add in vegetable oil, I use Le Cruset pot to good use again.
    3. Put in marinated pork to brown.
    4. Add garlic pods, cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves.
    5. Pour in half cup of water and cook covered and bring to boil.
    6. Add in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar and salt to taste.
    7. Turn to low heat. Add half cup of water and simmer till gravy is thick and meat is tender. This roughly takes about 1.5hrs-2hrs.
    8. If gravy is drying out, just add more water. Likewise if meat is not tender enough, just add water and simmer for a longer time.
    9. To serve, cut pork into slices and add gravy to the dish. Garnish with spring onion. Served hot with rice.
Enjoy and remember to excercise thereafter.

Here's the cheery daffodils in my garden.