Fig Maple & Thyme Scones

Fig Maple & Thyme Scones

Figs. I just can’t get enough of them. Whether it’s the fresh or dried version, I love them all! I could have them everyday to be honest! Sometimes, I wish they weren’t seasonal. Thankfully, I’ve got two fig trees in my backyard that gives are beautiful juicy figs in Summer! Hooray! But since it’s Autumn now, I have to say, the dried figs are just as satisfying (:

Herb garden bed

I’ve always considered myself blessed. Even more so when I look at our bark yard, in particular our herb garden bed! The Mr has a green thumb! Wheeee! (: Everytime I look at how much it has grown and flourished, I will be filled with joy! hehe Basil, mint, coriander, rosemary and lemon thyme are some of the herbs we’ve grown. And since this recipe calls for some fresh thyme, I just went to the garden bed to pick some! Easy peasy! (:

fig, maple & thyme scones - before baking

Okie, back to the scones! (: My love for scones come from my mum, we would make scones whenever we have time on our hands and have it immediately for tea. Instant gratification! haha One of our favourite places to have scones is at Ms Marples Tea Room up at Mount Dandenong! Although some might say theirs is more like a dense cake, mum must have it every time she comes to Melbourne! hehe I was going through Tastespotting and chanced upon a recipe that instantly caught my attention. I made a variation of the recipe with the things I have in my pantry. These were SO GOOD. They were light and fluffy in the middle and just went so well with butter. I could have it for breakfast, tea and dessert! Definitely something I would make frequently now, plus it didn’t take much time at all!

scones with butter and homemade fig jam

I know there are many different ways to enjoy a scone, but my favourite way is with butter and jam. As I made fig jam a while back (recipe in the next post, so stay tuned cause it’s addictive!), I had my warm scone with some unsalted butter and homemade fig jam! YUMMO! As a dessert, I topped the scones with a quenel of macadamia ice cream and it was delicious too!

Scones- baked

Fig, Maple & Thyme Scones (adapted from Le Pirate Life)

3 cups self-raising flour, sifted

80g unsalted butter, cold & cubed

1 cup of milk (might need a couple of tsp if dough looks too dry)

2 heap tbs of pure maple syrup

250g dried figs, chopped into quarters

A handful of thyme (leaves removed from stalks, a few sprigs for garnishing)

Ingredients for the scones

Ingredients

Steps :

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius and lined a baking tray with baking paper.

2) In a large bowl, place the self-raising flour and butter. Using your fingers, gently rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the milk and maple syrup into the well. Gently mix the dough till it all comes together. Add more milk (a tsp at a time) if the dough feels and looks a bit too dry. The dough should feel soft and a little sticky.

Flour, butter, milk & maple syrup

3) Fold in the figs and thyme leaves into the dough. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and knead it slightly, careful not to overwork the dough. Using a rolling pin (or just your palms), flatten it out till it is about 3 cm thick.

the dough

4) Using a scone cutter, cut out the scones and place them on the baking tray. Garnish the scones with more thyme leaves or sprigs of thyme if you’ve some.

All ready to be baked

5) Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes. You can either leave it to cool and store in a air-tight container, or enjoy it hot with some butter, cream and jam.

Scone with butter and homemade fig jam

ENJOY! (:

So dear readers, what is your favourite way of having your scones? Please share as I would love to hear from you! (: Have a great weekend and remember to always cook and bake with love! 

Turning 27 (Part 3) : Merchants Guild

Brunch at Merchants Guild

Yes, my birthday celebration continues! (: This time with my favourite mother and daughter team : Peggy & Paige! hehe While researching for where to dine at, we decided to head to somewhere close to both our homes, so I went through my list and decided on Merchants Guild! The weather was beautiful, so we took a nice stroll there to have brunch.

Merchants Guild

Address : 680 Centre Road, Bentleigh East

Website : http://themerchantsguild.com/

my lunch date

If you follow me on instagram (@lianneelow) you would see alot of photos of Paige just cause she is so gorgeous! (: Doesn’t she just melt your heart? I was so so lucky to be able to have brunch with her and her beautiful mum on my actual day. As the Mr had work that day, Peggy was so sweet to spend the day with me. Thank you again!

Chai latte

We started our brunch with chai lattes. I love it when cafes serve their chai lattes in a pot! It was richly spiced and something just so comforting about it. I’m not sure how many times I’ve said it, but I do love my chai lattes! hehe Especially if there it is served with a side of honey. Mmmm (: I could drink it all day I reckon!

Eggs benedict

There were many attractive things on the menu, but I decided to stick to the all-time favourite of mine – eggs benedict! At Merchants Guild, they actually change the flavour of their hollandaise and that day, it was a herb hollandaise that was thick and delicious, but not overly rich.

Roasted potato bubble & squeak

Peggy ordered the roast potato bubble & squeak with smoked trout with a side of horseradish cream, cornichons and poached eggs. It was so delicious and when I tried it, I knew that the Mr would definitely love this! He’s a huge bubble & squeak fan, so much so that he requested I made it for him for brunch. The smoked trout pieces were mixed into the bubble & squeak and the horseradish cream had a subtle spiciness! Yummilicious!

Buckwheat pancakes

Both of us were drawn to the buckwheat pancakes on the menu, so we had to order a serve to share. They were so good! Thin pancakes topped with grilled pears that were so soft. The chocolate fudge was so rich and decadent, tasted like nutella! So so good! It was drizzled with a whiskey maple sauce that really had a kick to it. We couldn’t stop saying “so good!” haha The roasted hazelnuts added a crunch that gave the dish more textures. Absolutely loved this!

Cutie pie

Thank you again for the company and for the treat (: Definitely had a great time and you both made my day! Great food, awesome company, happy bellies and endless smiles! 27 is gonna be a great year I’m sure! hehe Definitely gonna bring the mr here to try the food, and no prizes on guessing what he will have! hehe

Remember to always cook and bake with love! (:

Merchants Guild on Urbanspoon

Weekend Baking : Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Raspberries

chocolate olive oil cake with fresh raspberries

It’s been a while since I’ve baked something and I was really craving for some olive oil cake. Since it’s the weekend, and it’s been pouring, I decided to stay in and bake! (: Which was a perfect idea, if I can’t say so myself. hehe I was searching around for a recipe, and thankfully, Miss D  shared with me Nigella Lawson’s chocolate olive oil cake. The best of my two worlds : olive oil & chocolate. Who wouldn’t like chocolate yes? Plus, it is actually good for you!

chocolate olive oil cake with fresh raspberries

I was a little worried about making it as I haven’t really made any cake with completely no flour. But it came out beautifully and was rich but surprisingly not too dense! It was still crumbly and actually pretty light. Was a hit with the mr from the first bite! (I sounded like I was rhyming there haha) Love the intensely deep colour of the cake in contrast with the white icing sugar. For some reason, icing sugar reminds me of snow. And it’s really magical, it makes every cake prettier! (:

Chocolate olive oil cake sliced and topped with freshly whipped vanilla bean cream

The original recipe of the cake is really quite healthy; no flour, no butter and not quite as much sugar as well. Just olive oil which is good for you and the chocolate component only consist of cocoa powder and water! How good is that? To make it a little healthier, I added fresh raspberries which added a little zing to the cake! And not to mention how pretty it looks with the specks on red when cut! (: Plus it’s gluten free! Wheeee!

chocolate olive oil cake with raspberries

Do note though that if you do put fresh raspberries in, you might have to finish it in a day or two if you leave it out. Probably can only be kept for up to a week in the fridge. But it probably won’t last longer than that anyways! hehe

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Raspberries (adapted from Nigella Lawson)

150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)

50 grams cocoa powder (good quality, sifted)

125 ml boiling water

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

150 grams ground almond

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

170 grams caster sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1 small punnet of fresh raspberries

freshly whipped vanilla bean cream, to garnish (or ice cream)

Steps :

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Grease your springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

2. In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.

3. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond mixture.

4. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula,and add the fresh raspberries. Give it a gentle stir until the raspberries are well mixed in. Pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

5. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some freshly whipped vanilla bean cream or some ice cream.

pacman

Couldn’t help myself but had to take a shot of the cake when it looks like pacman! hehe (: Have a good week ahead everyone!

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Bring It On : Pizza Fight At The Grosvenor Hotel

The Grosvenor Hotel

Don’t worry dear readers, this was not a physical fight! hehe It was more of a challenge. One that involves creating the best pizza and be crowned the champ! (: Thanks to the Grosvenor Hotel and Tink PR, some food bloggers and I had the chance to get flour all over our fingers and learn the art of making a good pizza dough. I was definitely looking forward to creating my very own pizza! To be honest, I didn’t realise how serious the competition was until everyone was tweeting about bringing their own secret ingredient! And when I went empty handed, only one thing was on my mind ” uh-oh, I’m in big trouble ” haha. It made me super duper nervous! In addition to that, it was my first time meeting most of the people invited for this challenge – Iron Chef Shellie, I Eat Therefore I Am, I’m So Hungree, Brunch Addict, Sweet Cherrie Pie & Ms D (Never Too Sweet For Me). But I have to say, I really didn’t need to be nervous, cause everyone was so friendly (with their game face on hehe) and we had so much fun from the start to the end! Definitely a night to remember! (:

Passionfruit, lime and basil cocktail

When everyone arrived, we were brought to our table by the gorgeous Julia (From Tink PR) and introduced Chef Emile to us! In the midst of all the introductions, the table was filled with a spread of chicken liver parfait & hot bread, antipasto and some arancini balls.

Chicken liver parfait & antipasto

The chicken liver parfait was my favourite! It was so smooth and just perfect when spread on the bread. YUMS!

Arancini balls

The arancini balls were the perfect bite size, and had bits of chicken in them! After filling out tummies, we headed towards the kitchen to learn about making the dough.

Ingredients for the pizza dough

We each had our own dough to work on, and boy was it a work out to just get the dough right! I was standing next to Thanh and we just couldn’t stop laughing as we went along! We were lucky enough to have Chef Emile and Stefano there to give us a hand and to make sure we are on the right track!

Chef Emile & Stefano giving us a hand or two!

My own pizza dough

After what felt like hours, our dough was finally ready to be cling wrapped and proofed!

Stefano distributing the dough

While our doughs were proofing, Stefano took out a whole tray of perfect looking doughs so that we could learn how to stretch them by hand! The right hand stretches while the left hand rotates the dough! Definitely easier said than done, but I had so much fun! It was like playing with playdough haha

The pizza base is formed by hand

All stretched out!

It was even an art to place them on the wooden boards before putting the ingredients on!  And at this point, everyone had their game face on and were all ready for the challenge! 

Thanh and I with our

(Photo credits : Thanh from Instagram)

I stole this photo from Thanh cause it shows exactly how prepared we were with our “ping pong” bats! From the grin on our faces, you know how much fun we’re having! hehe

All getting ready to create our pizzas in groups

We all gathered around the table and Julia starts explaining how the challenge will be carried out. We were split into three groups so that the wood oven pizza won’t be over crowded. So off went the first group of savouries!

Bakkwamon by Ashley of I'm So Hungree

The first was Bakkwamon by Ashley of I’m So Hungree and it was inspired by her dad! Her secret ingredient was homemade bak kwa! Plus her pizza base was the gluten free one! hehe It was so delicious! I could just eat the bak kwa all night long! (:

Banhmigeddon by Shellie of Iron Chef Shellie

This was one of my favourites of the savouries for the night! It was Shellie’s (Iron Chef Shellie) banhmigeddon! The lemongrass chicken was SO GOOD! I was super tempted to go for seconds but had to control myself cause I had alot more to taste through the night hehe

The Karaage Kid by Thanh of I Eat Therefore I Am

Thanh (I Eat Therefore I Am) made the karaage kid – He brought in pieces of crispy karaage (fried chicken) and drizzled yummy roasted sesame sauce! That’s pure magic and was also one that I really enjoyed for the night! (:

Second round includes :

Fiddle to the Fennel By Scott of Brunch Addict

Fiddle to the Fennel was created by Scott of Brunch Addict! How cute is the name? I’m not a but fan of fennel but this was so good and the sweetness of the caramelised onions just stood out with every bite! Noms!

Baa Baa's Delight by Sabrina of Brunch Addict

Sabrina of Brunch Addict made Baa Baa’s Delight and how pretty are the beets on the pizza? With the classic combination of lamb and minted yogurt, this was also really good! In fact everyone’s pizza were awesome creations and it was so difficult to rate them!

After all the savouries, of course up comes the sweets! Even though we were all quite full by then, there is always room for dessert yes? YES! Cause I decided to walk on the sweet side that evening, together with Miss D (of course!) and Cherrie! We were spoilt for choice for the ingredients and ended up using almost similar things with slight variations of each! So it was definitely a close fight!

Bananas about Dulce de leche and bacon by Cherrie Moore

Cherrie made hers with a dulce de leche base, mashed banans, almond flakes and her secret ingredient, bacon! The combination of sweet and savoury was just brilliant! Almost reminded me of the Elvis sandwich which I LOVE! hehe

Sweet Attack by Daisy of Never Too Sweet For Me

Our dearest queen of sweets, Daisy (Never Too Sweet For Me) of course created a dessert pizza for the night! hehe Her was called ‘Sweet Attack’ and it had dulce de leche as the base, with almond flakes, almond crumble, honeycomb and nutella! It was deliciously sweet! hehe Everyone loved it! Noms!

Banana Nut Cracker by Me!

Last but not least, it’s my creation : Banana nut cracker ! I was thinking about breakfast cereals for some reason, so I decided to do a breakfast inspired one with butterscotch sauce, bananas,  almond crumble, flaked almonds, walnuts and sprinkled with some cinnamon sugar. Of course, I’m biased and I did like mine! haha I think just cause it’s everything I love on a plate! Especially the subtle hit of cinnamon with every bite. Reminds me of cinnamon sugar churros! NOMS! hehe

Once everyone had scored their peers (including our own creations), Julia and Chef Emile went into another area to add up the scores and after 20 minutes, the winners were announced! There was a tie in the first place and it was none other than the Banhmigeddon (by Shellie) and Sweet Attack (by Daisy)! Congrats girls!! And to my surprise, I came in second! WHEEEEE! (: And our pizzas went on as their specials the following day and will be on their specials for the next week for everyone to try!

Specials menu at Grosvenor Hotel

So I need your help dear readers! Please head to the Grosvenor Hotel’s Facebook page and vote for my pizza! Every single vote counts! Plus if you are around the area, or feel like a pizza for dessert, do head down to Grosvenor Hotel to get some. You can either dine in or takeaway and for just $17 (and $12 on Tuesdays!). Every pizza you order is considered a vote too!

Vote for me please! (:

So do click on the link above or just head to https://www.facebook.com/grosvenorhotelstkilda and search for the picture of my pizza and “like” ! Your help and support is greatly appreciated! (:

Facebook page

Thank you all once again and especially those who have already voted! One more week and the winner will be announced! hehe Fingers and toes crossed! (: Thank you Grosvenor Hotel, Chef Emile and Julia for organising such an awesome event!

Disclaimer : I was invited to this pizza making event as a guest of Grovenor Hotel and Tink PR.

{SG} Tea, Coffee & Sweets

The Coffee Daily

Having afternoon tea has become one of the traditions of my family. Around 3 in the afternoon, the tummy craves for a cuppa and something sweet, just to keep the day going! So even when I was back in Singapore, I went around searching for a good coffee and places that offered a little something to satisfy my sweet tooth! hehe

The Coffee Daily

Address : 75 Brighton Crescent, Serangoon Garden Estate

Tel: 62848894

One of the first places we went to was The Coffee Daily. It’s a quaint little cafe that offered coffee closest to the ones we could get back in Melbourne plus a little something from our childhood.

The Coffee Daily - Drinks and Gem Biscuits

My dearest brother brought us there and we each ordered a cuppa and it was accompanied by a piece of speculoos cookie and a small plate of gem biscuits! That was the first time I ever had speculoos and it was DELISH! I’m so gonna make some soon cause just writing about them is making me crave for some.

I’m not sure if you’ve had gem biscuits before, but these are my childhood favourite. I use to eat the icing part of it first and then have the biscuit bottom! Been a long time since I’ve had these, so I couldn’t be happier having them with my coffee! hehe

The Coffee Daily

So if you’re ever around the Serangoon Gardens area, do drop by and have a cuppa! Having these gems would most definitely bring you back to your childhood days! (: It sure did for me.

P.S. Cafe

P.S Cafe

Address : 28B Harding Road

Tel : 64793343

P.S. Cafe

P.S. Cafe on the other hand is a totally different cafe for your afternoon tea. Tim brought us to the one at Harding Road (Dempsey) and it’s a converted warehouse that just looks amazing! Surrounded by beautiful nature, it felt so relaxing just sitting (indoors and outdoors) and having a hot cuppa and one of their amazing desserts they have to offer!

Dessert Menu

Of course, I wanted to do Miss D proud and order everything that was on the board, but having only three of us and cause we had a super full yumcha lunch just before, our tummies only allowed us to order 2! (:

Banoffee Pie

When the banoffee pie arrived, my jaw dropped! hah I couldn’t believe how much cream was on it! A little too much, in my opinion. But the filling was great! A crumbly and delicious base, with caramel and fresh sliced bananas. Even without the cream, it would be delicious!

Carrot Cake

I also chose the carrot cake and so glad I did. It was moist and dense and had the right amount of cream cheese frosting to go with! I love a good carrot cake and this is definitely it!

Cappuccino

How beautiful is the flower on the cappuccino? Love it! (:

Assam tea

I ordered a cup of assam tea to go with the sweets. The flavour was bold but was still quite delicate and it paired well with the richness of the pie and cake. Made me feel less guilty after drinking it, though I know it’s just me trying to feel better after all those sinful cream and sugar. haha But I know that I would definitely wanna head back to have the other desserts and even give their food a try! (:

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Address : 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70

Tel: 62203430

The next place is one that I have been anticipating to try for over half a year! I have been seeing everyone enjoying their flaky croissants and pastries on Instagram and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into some! As the trip back was considerably short, we had to squeeze as many places as we can in a day, so the trip to the bakery happened after a very full breakfast at Tiong Bahru Market! But by hook or by crook, I told the Mr that we had to try this place!

Pastries galore!

The choice wasn’t easy when I saw what was on display! I was SO tempted to just order one of each but decided to be good and try one of the them that instantly caught my eye.

kouign aman

This lovely pastry had layers of puff with butter and sugar in between each layer and every mouthful was just divine! I happily tore layer by layer and it starts with a crispy outer layer. As you peel your way through, it gets so soft and it just melts in your mouth. Heavenly! Absolutely amazing.

Coffee board

How cute is the drinks board? hehe I would want one just to put it in my kitchen! or near the coffee machine hehe Love it!

coffee and pastry

And as a digestive, the mr ordered his espresso (he is starting to love his shot of coffee now a days) and I had the cappuccino. Everything looked so pretty on the plate hehe (: Sadly, I didn’t get the time to head back and try the other yummies, but I will definitely be back at the end of the year to try more!

Arteastiq

Arteastiq

Address : Mandarin Gallery, 333 Orchard Road, #04-14/15 

Website : http://www.arteastiq.com

The last place I had a chance to have afternoon tea at during my trip back was Arteastiq! It’s located at Mandarin Gallery and I adore the concept they have! It’s a tea house next to the an art studio, where people could sign up for painting classes. It’s an open concept and you could see the beautiful art pieces that people are painting! Sometimes, I wish I was more artistic! haha Anwyays, back to what I had hehe I met Felicia for tea that afternoon and when I browsed the menu, I knew exactly what I was going to have.

Lychee ice tea

Sorry about the quality of the photo, the sun was shining too brightly on my drink! But I ordered the lychee ice tea, and if you don’t already know, I LOVE lychees! hehe Lychee anything to be more specific. This tea was so refreshing and it came with an almond biscotti and a peanut mochi. Mmmmm (:

Longan, red date and goji tea

Felicia ordered something a little different : a hot longan, red date and goji berry tea. It was delicious and even without adding the sugar, it had a subtle sweetness to it. Hers came with an almond biscotti and a sesame mochi. The seats were really comfy and it’s just a really nice place for girls, especially, to hang out with their friends and catch up (: That was exactly what we did! hehe

Thank you for being so patient as I share my coffee, tea and sweets experiences in Singapore. hehe I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully if you’re heading to Singapore anytime soon, you would be able to try some places out! Hope you all had a good weekend and are all recharged to tackle the new week ahead!

Till the next post, remember to always cook and bake with love! x

A Season of Giving

Sour cream, pear & raspberry cake

Time really flies! It’s December already and this month only means one thing – Christmas is near! Christmas is no doubt my favourite festive season (and Chinese New Year of course) and I’m already counting down to the 25th! As school has ended for me a couple of days back, I decided to make something for some of my colleagues as a thank you + christmas gift. Nothing is more meaningful than a homemade present yes? hehe

As I was searching through what I wanted to make, I thought of making the ricotta pound cake I made a couple of weeks ago, and just add mixed berries into the batter to make it look a bit more festive. But I’ve ben hearing lots about the Bourke Street Bakery sour cream pear cake from the food blogger community who were lucky enough to try some that was made by Mich, The Bakeanista, at the blogger’s picnic recently. Miss D also made it recently and said that I should definitely give it a go cause it was really delicious! With so many raving reviews, I couldn’t not give it a try (: So glad I did though, cause it was so good! Super moist and Mich suggested adding fresh raspberries, which I did, and it made the cake look really pretty! So thank you! (:

Cut rounds out of the cake

And instead of slicing it up into the normal wedge, I decided to use a scone cutter to cut them into rounds instead before placing them into the plastic wrappers. Although I made a mess, it was all worth it, and might I add, fun! haha

Sour cream pound cake in a jar

And what did I do with the left over pieces and crumbs? What I love to do : put them into jars and layer them with freshly whipped vanilla bean cream and added more fresh raspberries! A combination I could easily (and happily) have every night if my waistline permits me to. 😛 Oh well! hehe Thank you again Mich for sharing the recipe! All my colleagues enjoyed the cake very much! YAY!

BSB Sour Cream Pear & Raspberry Cake (Adapted from The Bakeanista)

250g unsalted butter

250g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

4 eggs, room temperature

200g sour cream

300g self-raising flour, sifted

1 3/4 pears (about 400g, tinned), sliced into quarters

18-20 fresh raspberries

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line baking paper at the base of a 28cm baking tin, and spray the sides with olive oil evenly.

2) In a mixer, cream the butter and caster sugar till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix till well combined.

3) Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are well incorporated before each addition.

4) Alternate the flour and sour cream and mix it on low speed till well combined. Use a spatula to scoop the batter into the tin, and spread it out until the top is smooth. Arrange the pear quarters evenly around the tin, and place the raspberries in the spaces between them.

5) Bake for 40 mins, then cover the baking tin with foil and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

All baked and being cooled on the rack

6) Remove from the oven and allow it to cool in the baking tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. If you intend to cut rounds out of the cake, do make sure the cake is completely cooled before doing so, or it would crumble! Sprinkle icing sugar on top before serving! Enjoy!

All wrapped up!

Remember to always cook and bake with love ! (:

Ricotta Pound Cake

Have you ever craved for something and you just had to get down and messy in the kitchen and make it? This was exactly what happened to me this weekend! I have been craving for some pound cake for the longest time and even though I could easily buy one from Woolies or Coles, there is nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch and indulging after! When I was a kid, mum use to get those Sara Lee pound cakes from the chilled section of the supermarket as a treat for us in the weekend! That was exactly what I was craving for last week.

Traditionally, pound cakes are made with a pound of each ingredient : eggs, flour, butter and sugar. But of late, people adjust according to their preference and come up with some really yummy (and slightly healthier) versions. One recipe which I was drawn to was one that used ricotta in replace of some of the butter content.  Perfect with a dollop of freshly whipped vanilla bean cream, some fresh fruit (mangos are perfect especially cause they are in season) and a hot cuppa for afternoon tea! (: My cravings were satisfied with my first bite! I love love love how the cake looks really dense but is actually not that heavy.

You never really know how the cake has turned out till you cut a slice out and see the inside of it. I was pleasantly surprised with how fine-textured the cake was. The crumbs were really fine and as Ju from Little Teochew calls it – microcrumbs! hehe I remember  reading one of the post from Ju (and she is AMAZING!) on her honey castella cake and was in awe! They look so perfect, fluffy and I just wanted to sink my teeth into them! She generously shared her tips of having microcrumbs in cakes – beating your eggs on low speed for a longer period of time, as compared to high speed. I tried it this time, and it worked! WOOO! (: Couldn’t be happier!

The recipe uses cake flour instead of plain flour and for some reason I couldn’t find cake flour in the local supermarkets. But Joy the Baker has a simple way of making your own cake flour! And trust me, it’s worth the extra steps! I think it makes the cake less dense as well, so do give it a shot if you can’t get any.

Steps to Making Cake Flour (from Joy the Baker, makes 2 1/2 cups)

 1. Measure out 2 1/2 cups of plain flour into a bowl.

2. Scoop out 5 tbs of the plain flour and place it back into the flour container.

3. Add 5 tbs of corn flour to the rest of the plain flour and sift the mixture 3 times.

{ The rule of the thumb is, for every cup of flour, you replace 2 tbs of flour with corn flour. }

Ricotta Pound Cake (adapted from Cakeb00k)

2 1/4 cups of cake flour (recipe above)

1 tbs + 3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

250g unsalted butter, room temperature

500g ricotta (you could use light ricotta)

1 3/4 cup caster sugar

5 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Icing sugar and lemon zest (to garnish, optional)

Steps :

1) Spray a bundt cake pan with olive oil making sure it is well coated and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2) In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, salt and baking powder.

3) Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta and mix on medium speed until well incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

4) Turn the speed down to low and add the eggs one at the time. Make sure to scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Once the eggs are well combined, add the vanilla bean paste.

5) Add the dry ingredients 1/4 cup at a time and mix until the mixture is just combined. Make sure this is done on a low speed as well.

6) Place the mixture into the bundt pan and smoothen the top out using a spatula. Tap it gently on the work surface to release any air bubbles.

7) Bake the cake for 15 minutes, before turning the oven down to 160 degrees celcius and continue cooking for a further 40 minutes. It is done with the sides are starting to come away from the pan; the cake springs back when pressed and the skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it onto a cooling rack.

8) Sprinkle some icing sugar and grate some lemon zest over it for additional flavour! To serve, make sure the cake has completely cooled, then top with freshly whipped vanilla bean cream and fresh fruits!

Remember to always cook and bake with love ! 

Jelly Hearts

Ever since I started being more active in the blogging world, I’ve been really blessed with meeting new friends! Recently, I was invited to attend Peach-water’s birthday dinner but cause I was down with really bad hayfever, I told her that we’ll rearrange dinner and I would make her something special. (: I couldn’t think of anything better but some strawberry jelly hearts!

If you feel that these pretty cakes look familiar, I did make them ages ago and did a post on it. But I went back to look at it and the photos were so small! So here I am, re-doing the post and sharing the recipe again. It’s really interesting to see the difference a few years on! (:

I have to say, these are not difficult to make, just time consuming as you have to make sure each layer is set properly before starting on the next! The most important layer is the jelly layer, as you have to allow the jelly mixture to cool before pouring onto the cream cheese layer, to get a clear jelly layer! (: Patience, is the key when making this!

I used to only use vanilla essence when making the cream cheese filling, but I decided to use vanilla bean paste this time round. There is just something magical when you see the little black dots! And the flavour it gives the cream cheese is not comparable to just using the essence. If you do have vanilla beans, please give it a try!

These little rectangular cheesecakes with a heart in the middle make beautiful gifts for your loved ones and your friends. So the next time you are thinking of what to get for them, why not give these a try? Nothing can compared to things made with love!

Jelly Hearts 

Base : 

320g digestive biscuits

160g melted unsalted butter

Cheese Filling :

250g cream cheese

2 1/4 tsp gelatine powder

70g caster sugar

150ml hot water

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

8 medium sized strawberries

Jelly Topping : 

2 packets of strawberry flavoured jello (170g)

1 1/2 cups hot water

1 1/2 cups room temp water

Steps :

1) For the base : Place the biscuits in a ziplock bag, and crush them till they are fine, making sure there are no big chunks. Pour them into a large bowl, and mix in the melted butter.

2) Pour them into the base of a 9×9 square baking tray. Press onto the base and make sure it’s really compressed and make it as flat as you can. Prick the base with a fork and chill for at least 15 minutes.

3) For the cheese filling : Cut the strawberries into half. Using a small heart shape cutter, cut hearts out of the strawberry halves and place them on a plate lined with paper towel.

4) Place gelatine and sugar in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

5) In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and vanilla bean paste together and slowly add the gelatine syrup gradually until smooth. Pour it over  the base. Place it in the fridge for 10 minutes then place the strawberry hearts, partially submerged in the cheese filling. Place it back into the fridge and refrigerate for 2 hours.

6) For the jelly topping : Dissolve the jello in hot water and stir well. Add the room temperature water and allow it to cool completely before pouring over the cheese filling. (Use a ladle and slowly pour the mixture over the strawberries instead of the cheese to keep the jello clear!)

7) Chill it in the fridge for another 2 hours or overnight for the best results.

Enjoy! (: And Happy Hatchday once again my dearest friend!

*Note : When slicing, make sure you clean the knife after every cut. It might seem difficult to get them out without it being messy, but start with the corner and use a spetula to help you. Once you have the first piece out, the rest would be a breeze! 

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

A Sweet Affair

Remember my last visit at Mr Hive’s Kitchne & Bar? Yes. I went back for more. This time I brought my mr and his family for a very special occasion: My in-law’s 29th wedding anniversary! I was so glad I decided to bring them there cause we were pampered from the very moment we were shown to our tables!

As I did let Mr Hive know, when I was booking the table, that we were celebrating a wedding anniversary, we were given a glass of champagne each to start the dinner off! I knew instantly that it was going to be a spectacular night! I couldn’t stop smiling and my in-laws were definitely really happy! (:

Mr Hive’s Kitchen & Bar

Address : 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank Vic 

Phone : 03 9292 8300

Though the service was exemplary for the whole night, the highlight of the evening was definitely when we adjourned to the dessert bar to fix our sweet tooth! I don’t usually have second posts for food reviews, but our experience that night is definitely worthy of my double post! Please do not get me wrong, the food was delicious, but we pretty much had the same dishes as my first visit, so I thought I would just focus on the desserts. Besides, who doesn’t like desserts? hehe Miss D would be with me on this! haha

We were lucky to dine at Mr Hive’s on a week night, so it was quite quiet and there was an empty dessert bar waiting for us! Having never seen a pastry chef plate desserts before, it was a great first experience for the mr and his family as well!

The moment we sat down, we were greeted by the friendly pastry chef – Chef Mario! We looked through the menu and ordered instantly. Then he started plating desserts. It was like watching a cook show right infront of our eyes! Although it was my second time, I still enjoyed it. You could tell he took pride in every single dessert he was plating.

He started plating individual portions of the yoghurt mousse with rhubarb compote and szechuan ice cream. We thought it was for another table, as we didn’t order actually this. Little did we know, it was a complimentary dessert for us as a gift for my in-law’s wedding anniversary again! Are they amazing or what? Not one but two gifts! The flavours just complimented each other. There was the lightness of the mousse with the slight hint of spiciness from the ice cream and crunch of the white chocolate crumble. NOMS!

Then came the apple tart tatin which had another surprise for my in-laws. They not only wrote happy anniversary on the board, but   also came with candles! That really made all of us smile! The tart tatin was perfect. The apples were so well caramelised and the tart was crispy and buttery. It was made to order, so it was still piping hot when served! Together with brandy cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Match-made in heaven!

Chef Mario portioned it and even gave each of us a scoop of ice cream to go with our slice! It was so good, I could continue eating it the whole night! There’s just something about a dessert that had both cold and hot elements. Makes my taste buds tingle (:

Of course, I couldn’t not order the Mr Hive’s chocolate bar when I dine at Mr Hive’s. It’s rich and decadent and the base is crunchy! If you know me, you know I love desserts with different textures. This definitely tick all the boxes! hehe And you know what’s even better?

This.

Chef Mario took the plate before I could, and split it into 5 portions and re-platted them individually with a beautifully quenelled peanut ice cream! In fact, the one that was served with the whole chocolate bar melted slightly, and he threw that away and quenelled 5 more for us! That’s how much pride he takes in his desserts! We were so impressed! hehe

The last dessert we ordered was of course the ricotta cheesecake because my mr’s dad loves cheesecake! Plus it was one of the prettiest desserts I’ve ever seen!

Of course, Chef Mario presented the dessert and then took it and replated it into individual portions again! What’s more amazing is that there were only 4 pieces of cheesecake but he just added another cause there were 5 of us!

How pretty is the individual portions? Every single plate looked like that. How could you not be touched? I couldn’t stop saying “wow!” both verbally and in my head. haha

And just you think there can’t be more. He picks up 5 glass bottles and starts preparing the grand finale! He started squeezing some chocolate milk with milo powder and tops the glass bottles with a salted caramel truffle! Trust me. That’s like the best truffle you will ever have. You bite into it and there’s an explosion of salted caramel in your mouth. LOVE.

I absolutely adore the straws they give to slurp the delicious, thick chocolate milk. I really need to go get some from Wheel & Barrow! hehe (:

So I can definitely say it was a night we will definitely remember! And we left Mr Hive’s with happy bellies!

Happy Wedding Anniversary to my dearest in-laws! It was great to celebrate this special day with the whole family! (: Our compliments to the chef and staff of Mr Hive’s! Thank you so much for making this day even more special than it already is!

Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Salted Caramel Chocolate Lava Cake

So it was my mr’s birthday yesterday and I really wanted to make him a cake especially since it’s his birthday I’m celebrating with him as his wife! (: So I have been thinking and thinking what would he like as his cake. As he loves salted caramel, I was inspired by Ms D’s cake  (the queen of desserts hehe) that she made for her mr’s birthday! So after much research, I found a perfect cake that the mr would love!

I was really nervous with how it would turn out cause I havent baked a lava cake for the longest time. And I was quite stressed when making it cause there was no turning back. I had no back up cake plan at all. haha You could definitely see the relief in my face when the cake came out cleanly from the ramekins and I found out there was a gooey molten middle! SUCCESS!

And it was definitely a hit with the mr! He has requested that I make him this cake every year on his birthday! hehe I have to say, nothing is sexier than having the luscious salted caramel oozing out of the cake the moment you cut your fork through! It just puts a really big smile on my face! And I could just see how happy and satisfied the mr was. To me, that was the most important part of the day – that he enjoyed what I made him. hehe

Salted Caramel Chocolate Lava Cake (adapted from The Endless Meal)

For the chocolate salted caramel : 

142 g dark chocolate

1 cup caster sugar

28 g unsalted butter

1 tsp fleur de sel, plus a bit more when layering dessert

2 tbs water

1/2 cup thickened cream

For the lava cake :

284g dark chocolate

113 g unsalted butter

3 large eggs

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 cup icing sugar, and more for dusting

2 tbs cocoa powder

extra butter and cocoa powder for ramekins

Steps :

1) For chocolate salted caramel : Melt chocolate in a double boiler, over a small pot of boiling water.

2) In a large pot, add the sugar and water and heat over medium heat until sugar melts and turn dark amber. If you have a candy thermometer, it should reach 176 degrees celcius. Take it off the heat, and carefully add the thicken cream. (Do note that it will bubble vigorously, so do not stand too close.) Whisk the mixture until smooth, then add the melted chocolate. Once it’s mixed well, stir in the butter. Set aside.

3) For the cake : Prepare 6-8 ramekins (depending on the size), and butter them well before coating them with cocoa powder, turning them upside down to make sure there is no excess. Set aside.

4) Melt butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl, over a mall pot of boiling water. Once melted, set aside allowing it to cool a little.

5) In a mixer, whisk the eggs and egg yolks until well combined. Add the cooled melted chocolate and butter mixture, and stir well. Combine the flour and icing sugar, making sure there are no lumps, then slowly add to the mixture. Mix until smooth.

6) Fill each ramekin half way. Then place a big teaspoon of chocolate salted caramel in the middle and sprinkle a little bit more fleur de sel, before covering with more cake batter until it’s 3/4 filled. (At this stage, you can either bake it straight away or keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.)

7) Preheat oven to 210 degrees celcius for 10 minutes. Place the ramekins in the middle rack of the oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes. If your ramekins are smaller, please reduce the baking time to ensure the gooey middle! Remove the ramekin from the oven, and run a palette knife through the sides to loosen the cake.

8) Carefully place a plate over the top of the ramekin and invert it. Carefully lift the ramekin up. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped vanilla bean cream if desired.

ENJOY! (:

So happy birthday my dearest hubs! So so glad you enjoyed the dinner after a 12 hours day at work! Thank you for working so so hard just to make sure we live comfortably. I couldn’t ask for more really. I love you! And I promise to make this for you every year on your birthday! hehe