On the 22nd and 23rd of September, I attended my second baking class. This weekend’s topic was viennoiserie:
Baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough in a manner similar to bread
To put it simply, it was a class learning to make the pastry/bread that we usually see at a hotel buffet during breakfast such as croissant, donuts, cinnamon rolls, apple turnover etc.
It was a class of 12 people with the curriculum stating 11 things to learn.
When we received the week’s recipe booklet I saw that there were only 5 recipes where only one was not for a kind of dough.
The chef explained that the four main dough type: Danishes/Croissants, Brioche, Doughnut/Beliner and Puff Pastry were often used to create many varieties, hence the four recipes for 11 items.
I will be honest and tell you that after few hours I was very confused on which dough was for which item.
And I wasn’t the only one.
You see, for puff pastry and the whatnot there are certain ways of folding it so the butter will get into the layers which will result into puffy heaven. Double and single. And most of the time you have to do it multiple times.
So it could be like:
Single, double, single.
Double, double, double, single.
Or any combination depending on the type.
The goods had to be proofed aka rolled into shape and waiting game of it to puff up before being baked. The croissants were all rolled the day before it got baked.
It started with a colleague who has been craving for the current in-thing in the Malaysia’s food scene.
As you can imagine it now, the cheesecake has a burnt top which I initially thought required a blow torch and some self control. But upon looking up a recipe, I saw it was merely putting the oven on high heat, no water bath and a baking time of around an hour.
I suggested to said colleague that if we share the cost of the cream cheese and whipping cream, I’ll bake the cake for them.
3 days later I found myself buying 1KG of cream cheese using 4 shareholders’ money.
I also had to dig out my springform pan and see how it measures before heading out to buy the box for it.
For a moment I felt like a proper part time baker with an Instagram account promoting my baked goods.
Armed with the ingredients and this recipe I started the somewhat simple process.
It took me 30 minutes of preparation, while I had the oven on preheat. The only snag was the little lumps in the batter which I realised was caused by the cold cream cheese but it was nothing that ruined the taste.
The recipe stated 60 minutes of baking time but with my oven it took about 50 minutes to get to the:
“Dark brown top and a jiggly cake”
After cooling it down, I packed the cake into a box and kept it in the fridge till I had to bring it to the office the next day.
Several recipes suggested to let the cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before eating. It gave the cake a creamier quality compare to eating it cold right out of the fridge.
The taste testers simply adored the cake and found it very delicious. The burnt top gave it a little caramel quality and the cheesecake was quite decadent without being sickly.
Now let me go set up my Instagram so you can go order this from me…
Salad Atelier is this salad bar that had a promotion going on in the month of August whereby any order made via its website gets 31% discount, which in turn makes the yummy salads more affordable for me.
As in August (they changed the menu in September to more options) for DIY salad they had three sizes: Baby, Adult and Monster. The difference between the latter two was a prime protein and about RM5 difference.
But with the discount going on, of course the Monster salad was more worth it because a girl gotta have some of the premium protein, right?
Which is how in the span of a month, I ordered salad for lunch four times. It took some trial and error on my behalf to come up with the combination I like.
Base: Green crisp
Mains: Broccoli, corn, onion, carrot, potato and runny egg
Supplementary: Poached chicken and roasted eggplant
Prime: Smoked duck
Dressing: Asian sesame seed dressing
Verdict: I honestly thought the dressing would be similar to Kewpie’s Roasted Sesame Seed dressing which is honestly the best dressing in the whole world. But this one was oil- based so I ended up eating the salad with the Kewpie dressing in the fridge.
The runny egg is an amazing dish, but put in the salad .. it seems out of place. A hard/soft boiled egg would be more compatible with the rest of the ingredients. I also learned that the onion used was very pungent and I ended up pushing them aside.
The smoked duck was delicious, a good combo with the poached chicken. Overall, a good salad.
Verdict: Obviously, I got my Base and Mains pretty much determined as a great combination. I decided to try mango, for the sweet factor and it was kinda okay .. but didn’t go well with chicken in my opinion.
I also learned that when you have two kinds of chicken cooked in a healthy manner .. it gets a bit dry. And you get a bit tired of chomping on chicken. Which I assure you, rarely happen with me.
The dressing is perhaps the best I have ever tasted. Its really yummy and it went onto my “Recipes to try” list.
Base: Green crisp
Mains: Broccoli, potato, corn, tofu.
Supplementary: Poached chicken.
Prime: Smoked duck.
This is when the menu changed up a bit. For about the same price of the Adult sale(non-discounted price), we get to have a Prime in our salad and cut down on some of the Mains and Supplementary.
Verdict: My experimental factor in here is the tofu, which I have seen two of my colleagues ordered multiple times. I thought it was more of the tofu skin/curd type whereby it was normal tofu that I don’t fancy much.
But the rest of the items were amazing, especially the double dressing.
We were on our way to lunch at SS15’s Courtyard when I saw a cafe called Harujucubewhich looked promising. As it was just two doors away from our lunch spot, we decided to drop by for dessert.
The place seemed to feature toasts as their main attraction alongside other savoury items such as sandwiches and pasta.
But as we were there for dessert, we skipped through the menu until we got to the sweet stuffs.
If any of you have been to a Japanese inspired dessert place, you probably have seen the type of toast they serve.
Think thick fluffy toasts with pieces of cake, fruits and sauce on top of a scoop of ice cream.
God, I can taste it now.
After contemplating over the choices, we settled for one of the simpler ones. A banana caramel combination.
How to describe this?
The outer layer is crunchy, reminding me of the hard biscuits slathered in sugar that you can buy in the grocery stores here. Some will say it is a bit too hard but for me, it was nice.
The inside layer are pieces of what I call cake-bread. A hybrid of flavors and textures. It taste like a cake but not as fluffy.
The whipped cream was surprisingly sweet, the vanilla ice-cream was divine on my tongue and amazing eaten with the hard outer layer of the toast. The caramel was surprisingly not burnt-tasting as most caramel do.
It came with a bottle of honey but the dish was sweet enough without it for both of us.
Verdict: For me, a perfect score would be one just like this but with no bananas. I would totally recommend this toast to my friends.
The latte was pretty small for its price-tag. The same price would have gotten me double the amount at Starbucks, at around the same taste. My friend said her matcha was kinda sweet and didn’t match the toast because in the end the sweetness was cloying.
My friend and I decided that we should go out for a meal. As in a meal to treat ourselves and torture our wallets.
Deciding on a venue was a long process of looking up places and staring at the menus available online while gasping inwardly on the price range.
We eventually decided on Jibby & Co when I asked her the most important question:
“Do you want to dress up slightly and take nice pictures?”
The choice was obvious when she said yes.
Side story: This particular friend is also the friend who when I go out to eat with, we will get very greedy. One time we went to a chicken rice place and our table that could seat four was full of food. Another time we went to a Thai place and yes, the table was full as well.
We eventually decided on three items. Casablanca eggs, Uncle Chow’s Dip and Big Daddy pizza. Thinking about it later, we should have taken something with more vegetables like a salad or something.
The Casablanca eggs was something I have seen in various menus before but never wanted to try because I have bad memories and experiences of the food in Morocco during my trip in 2017.
Two eggs, cooked in a spiced tomato sauce with sausages and feta cheese crumbled on top. The taste was decent but the spices did bring me back to Morocco for a while because for me it is quite distinct. The feta cheese added a nice saltiness to the dish which honestly tasted like a standard red sauce in a bottle. The Turkish bread that came with it was the type of bread I like. The bland taste like dough type. Haha, some people call it boring but for me that kind of flavor is good in a bread.
Would I order again? No.
The thing that attracted me to the Big Daddy pizza was the onion jam, and all the meat on it. The base of the pizza was good. Thin crust, though I prefer a thicker crust myself. The ( I am assuming this) arugula on top gives a nice contrasting taste to the whole flavor profile of the pizza. The meat(minced, pepperoni and sausage) tasted good and was perhaps the star of the dish.
The snag? There’s two kind of sauce on top. One is onion jam and the other seemed to taste like BBQ sauce. When it comes to pizza sauce I am quite a traditionalist. I like the tomato sauce. Not cream sauce. Or the sambal sauce that you can find in Domino’s here.
Verdict: Maybe omit the BBQ sauce out and I will gladly eat it again.
I was most looking forward to Uncle Chow’s dip and it ended up to be the most disappointing of the lot. It was overly sweet with a spicy kick for the after taste.
The mantou buns were kinda on the small side but it was decent.
Verdict: Never again.
I think I would visit the place again, this is my second time. The first time I went there I had fried rice and it was pretty good.
Last weekend(4th & 5th August), I joined my first baking class at Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia.
Verdict? It was tiring.
The class is from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. So my weekend was devoted just for the class.
As per stated in the brochure, I knew we were going to learn 5 types of plated desserts. Before that, the definition of plated desserts is basically a dessert that is made up of several components.
The first day was spent preparing the different components for the five dishes:
Citrus Pineapple (there was a mistake in the recipe stating its Citrus Souffle)
Raspberry Chocolate Sea Salt
First step was preparing all the ingredients according to the recipes. We had to measure/weigh and put them in small plastic containers and label them accordingly. And only then did we start.
Apparently since this topic involved lots of components, it was less hands-on compare to the other topics. Based on the conversations I had with the other students, who unlike me is already on their 6th or 8th class, the other topics were done in groups of two and you would do every single recipe.
I thought every topic would be like that and was starting to regret signing up for this costly course.
By the end of the first day, I was really really tired from being on my feet for hours. And just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep right away.
Sunday came, and I was excited because well, who wouldn’t want to see the desserts come to reality?
At the bottom is a layer of rice pudding made from risotto rice cooked in cream, and set in the fridge. Above it is a thin crunchy layer of caramelized almonds that were baked, blended into dust and then baked in thin circles.
Around it are small chunks of pineapple that were slowly cooked in a mixture of orange juice, star anise and sugar. And on top of it all, vanilla ice cream with a garnish of edible flowers.
Taste: The rice pudding was so good that I was sad when it was all gone. The pineapple was a bit orange-y tasting but was something I think my mother would enjoy. But the ice-cream, oh the ice-cream was such a brilliant vanilla milk-y flavor. I could have gobbled it all up.
The pavlova is set in the middle, with a dollop of balsamic vinegar sauce that has been cooked down to a thick consistency. At the sides is the Chantilly cream with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries on it. Inside of each raspberry is a small amount of the balsamic vinegar sauce.
On top of the pavlova is a refreshing raspberry sorbet that really ties all the different flavor profile on the plate.
Taste: Surprisingly I like this one considering I am not a fan of fruits that end with “erry”. The cream was good, and it really helped with the fruits and the pavlova.
A chocolate ring, with pieces of pistachio sponge cake, chocolate crumble and raspberry. On top of it, chocolate ganache and raspberry sorbet. On the sides is raspberry jelly made by combining gelatin in the mix and freezing it in a thin layer. This dish has a dusting of lime zest, which makes it refreshing.
Taste: I love chocolate. And this was so good. I guess if someone adore raspberry and chocolate, this would be a great dish to make for them.
The bottom layer is an almond short crust cookie, a good crispy base. The bananas are sliced and cooked in caramel before being set in a mold with a layer of chocolate at the bottom. Once properly frozen in the mold, it is taken out and thawed for a while before dipping in a chocolate and nuts mixture that freezes into a hard shell.
On top, milk chocolate chantilly and caramel piped in a haphazard manner (I need to work on my piping skills). As a decoration, some gold dust and gold leaves.
Taste: My ultimate favorite. I think the almond short crust would be something I will make personally at home for my own enjoyment. The chocolate shell tasted amazing with the banana.
A layer of puff pastry underneath a layer of caramelized apple slices with vanilla ice-cream.
Taste: Honestly, the caramel tasted burnt to me. The apple tasted bitter to me, and the puff pastry too. But thankfully the ice-cream was there.
So, I got 10 more topics to go and finish in about 9 months in order to qualify for the assessment and certificate. This coming weekend is Cookies but I’ll be out of town so I would take that another time. The weekend after that is Ice Cream… maybe. Or I’ll just take the Bread class in September.
Its the preparation year before I hit the big 3-0.
Dang. It is slowly sinking in right now. But no panic attack, so far.
Recently, I tweeted that I would be spending 29 with blogging, learning how to bake and saving for my Italy trip, as well as admiring my collection of glitter rose gold merchandise that I bought from Typo.
Here is the lengthy breakdown:
To those who came over from my old blog, you already know that I used to blog on a regular basis from 2010 to mid 2013. I had up to 147 followers and also had a group of regular readers. But when I started working, life got busy and I got lazy. And … I had no personal laptop to type and blog on.
So there goes blogging, NaNoWriMo and short stories galore. There were some false starts to the blog, and another blog that had like 2 posts before I forgot all about it.
Few days before I turned 29, someone messaged me on Instagram to tell me they would be resuming blogging and asked if I would ever do that again.
And bam, here I am.
I hope that like before, with writing my thoughts and emotions out, my head will be clear. My mind would not be entangled in words unsaid which in turn would just drag me down.
Learning to Bake
For about a year now I have been eyeing a part time baking course available at a place 20 minutes away from home. But then I was told that pursuing a Masters part time would be very beneficial for me. I believed that, until I realized that I don’t even know if I want to be in that particular industry until I retire in 31 years.
So I decided that instead of pursuing a MBA or something that “would boost my salary”, I should go for something I am genuinely interested in. Something I would not regret.
Hence, I signed up for a Part Time Certificate Program in Baking.
My first class would be Plated Desserts on the 4th and 5th August and I don’t remember the last time I was this excited. As you can see from the schedule above, I have 11 topics + assessment to complete in 9 months (since I can skip and choose whichever topics I want to to do).
You definitely can expect posts on my journey for this.
At 16, I knew Rome would be my honeymoon destination. At 18 I decided that if by 30 I am not married/close to getting married I will go to Rome myself.
I am turning 30 next year. So #Italytrip2019 people.
I have to start saving, and stop taking these mini vacays. And start planning the trip, which is something I really like doing.
I am thinking 2 weeks would be a decent amount of time to be there.
If anyone reading this has been to Italy, do drop me some suggestions.
With all of these things to do, it feels like 29 would be a good year. Until the heavy reality of turning 30 hits me.
Its less dramatic than I thought it would be, but I guess that drama would probably happen when I hit the big thirty next year.
Being 28 was an interesting year.
I went through a minor heartbreak.
Sometime around October last year I took two days off from work, bought a tub of expensive ice cream(Häagen-Dazs’ Royal Thai Milk Tea flavour) and spent most of the time locked up in my room while making a Spotify playlist full of sad songs.
The sadness quickly turned to anger and I remember vowing that if I ever see the cause of the heartbreak, I will run them over with a car. I didn’t. But I did got back in contact with them recently in May and realized I got over them already.
I also found out that ending a friendship, hurts even more than the heartbreak. It was something I had to do as I felt that the friendship was suffering from the resentment I felt every time I talk to friend. I remember nights spent crying because I felt as if I was cast aside because I was not interesting enough.
I hated how I felt at that point so I bit the bullet. I told the friend “Hey, I am being very toxic when I talk to you. I think I should back away for awhile”.
So I did.
And boy did those months made me realize so many things about me. But that is probably for another time.
Apart from all the crying and the heartbreak, I had an interesting year. Traveled a bit. Went to Indonesia twice. Enjoyed lush hotels in Penang. All future stories to be shared on here.