31 May 2016

Japanese Cotton Cheesecake (A record on my attempts)

4th attempt, a tall cheesecake but the top peeled when I tried to flip the cake

I'm challenging myself to bake a perfect Japanese Cotton Cheesecake with that soft, light and cottony cream cheese texture, perfect smooth top and side of the cake... however, this challenge seems not easy to take on. This post is to record and share my attempts on baking the Japanese Cotton Cheesecake, hopefully when you take on this challenge it will be a bit easier for you, of course you have to test your own oven to get the prefect result. 

Most of the recipes on the Internet seems similar, however, some people spelled out differently how they prepared the baking tin, what type of baking tin they used and the various oven temperature they set for their cheesecake...all these are important. I personally had tried many ways too, total of five attempts so far, and I find the perfect smooth cake top is the one very hard to achieve. Overall, the cheesecake texture from all my attempts were good except the 3rd attempt.

My first attempt:
I used 8 inch black round springform cake pan, oven temperature set as 160C, greased and lined the side and bottom as the recipe didn't tell me not to use black baking tin and the recipe said baked at 200C then lower temperature to 160C. So even I baked at 160C, I ended with my cake cracked on the top, of course the side of the cake is not the perfect smooth too. 

second attempt:
I used black oval one piece baking tin, oven temperature set as 160C, greased and floured the side and bottom of the baking tin. My cake ended with ugly wrinkle on the side, the cake shrank and created wrinkle on the top too.

3rd attempt:
I used 8" aluminium springform cake pan as shown in a video recipe, I wrapped the baking tin with double layers of aluminium foil, oven temperature set as 150C, lined the bottom of baking tin, greased and coated the side with sugar. It was a big mistake to buy that special springform cake pan, it leak! The cake batter created folds in the middle of the cake, and the side ended with sticky look because of the sugar! This cake texture was not good as the bottom layer was too dense. 

4th attempt:
I used 7" aluminium square tin, wrapped the baking tin with aluminium foil, the egg whites was beat until soft peak just before stiff peak, as the recipe has spelled out clearly to beat to soft peak or just about stiff peak (not stiff peak), Don't under beat the egg whites as this is crucial for a soft, light and cottony cheesecake texture. Or else your cheesecake will end with a dense texture. I baked with top and bottom heat, without fan mode. 

I baked this cake with oven temperature set as 140C. Baking time 1 hour 25 mins. The cake sit in the oven with oven door ajar for 45 mins after baking. It was a perfect cake with no crack and no fold or wrinkle on the cake top. After baking it shrank about 1 inch, still a pretty high cake with smooth top. However, the problem happened when I need to flip the cake out from the tin. The cake top stick on my flat plate, it peeled the beautiful top. 

5th attempt:
I used 8" aluminium square tin, wrapped the baking tin with aluminium foil, the egg whites was beat until soft peak just before the stiff peak, oven temperature set as 140C, baked with top and bottom heat, without fan mode, baking time 1 hour 30 mins. The cake sit in the oven with oven door ajar for 45 mins after baking. 

This cake ended with a bit folds in the middle of the cake top, I noticed there were bubbles coming out from the tin to the water bath during baking, not sure what really happened. The cake looks a bit over baked before cutting, but the cake texture is soft, light and cottony. 

So what have I learnt here for my future attempt?

1. An oven thermometer is a must for baking Japanese Cotton Cheesecake, you need to adjust the oven temperature if the oven is too hot. 140C is the oven temperature for me for this baking. If cracks happen on cake, you need to lower the temperature. However, bear in mind that if the oven temperature is too low, it will not be able to bake the cake probably, you will end up with very dense cake texture instead of the soft, light and cottony cream cheese texture.

2. Bake with top and bottom heat, without fan mode.

3. Use 7" tin if you prefer a tall cake.

4. One piece cake tin is good. As the tin needs to sit in the water bath. 

5. Egg whites has to beat until soft peak and just about to turn stiff peak. 

6. Water bath is using hot water.

7. Over bake a bit is ok and good for this cheesecake. Never under bake the cake, it will cause the cake to collapse and shrink very fast once you switch off the heat. 

8. last and most importantly....stick with the perfect cake pan!! oh my...I'm the mischievous one, always try out new baking tin! 

So after used up 1250g cream cheesecake, do I dare to take up this challenge again? The answer is a sure yes. 

4th attempt shrank a bit after cooling down, using 7 inch square pan

5th attempt, no crack on the top. However, I don't like the height of this cake, using 8 inch square pan. 

5th attempt

5th attempt

photos on 1st to 4th attempts

egg yolks batter
250g cream cheese
6 egg yolks 
70g sugar
60g butter
100ml full cream milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
60g cake flour
20g corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

egg whites batter
6 egg whites
70g sugar

1. Prepare the baking tin: Grease the 8 inch aluminium square baking tin (7 inch if you prefer a taller cake), line the bottom of the tin with parchment paper. 

2. In a big bowl, melt the cream cheese, butter and sugar on a double boiler. Whip the mixture using a hand whisk until it is creamy and smooth. Remove from the double boiler, add egg yolks, continue to whisk the mixture. Add milk, vanilla extract, lemon juice. Gently add the sifted flour mixture (cake flour, corn flour and salt) Sieve the egg yolks mixture and set aside.

3. In a clean mixing bowl, using electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until it is foamy, add in the sugar in three batches. Beat the egg whites until soft peak just before the stiff peak. 

4. Take 1/3 of the egg whites mixture, mix it to the egg yolks mixture. Then fold in remaining egg whites mixture to the egg yolks mixture in two batches. Pour the batter into the baking tin, knock the baking tin on the worktop once to release air bubbles. 

5. Pour hot water on a bigger baking tray and let the 8 inch baking tin sit in the hot water. Bake the cake in a preheated oven (top and bottom heat, without fan mode) at 140C for 1 hour 30 mins, in the lower rack of the oven. Remember to place an oven thermometer in the oven to check the actual oven temperature, adjust the heat accordingly. 

6. After the cake is done, switch off the oven heat and let the cake sit in the oven with oven door ajar for 45 mins. Take out the cake from the oven and flip the cake out using a silicon mat to prevent the cake top stick and peel. (Thanks to a friend for the tip!) 

7. Cool down the cake completely before slicing. 

27 May 2016

Putu Ayu

Putu Ayu is a kind of Southeast Asia steamed cake with grated coconut on the top layer and coconut milk Screwpine  leaves flavour batter at the bottom layer. It is fast and easy to make, the trick for a successful steamed cake is you have to beat the eggs and sugar until it double its volume. 

Yield 15 pieces  


3 eggs
150g sugar
200g plain flour
200ml thick coconut milk
150g freshly grated coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pandan paste (Screwpine leaves paste)

1. Grease the plastic mould with cooking oil. Heat up the steamer.
2. Mix the grated coconut with salt and place it into steamer, steam for 5 mins.
3. Place the steamed grated coconut into the base of the plastic mould, press the grated coconut down using your fingers. 
4. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer, beat it until creamy and fluffy, or double its volume, about 5-7 mins. Then slowly sieve in the plain flour in batches. Add the thick coconut milk and pandan paste. Continue to mix for another 2 mins. 
5. Bring the water in the steamer to a boil. Scope the batter into individual plastic moulds and place the moulds into the steamer, steam for 15 mins.
6. Dislodge the cake gently by flipping the steamed cake on your palm. 

21 May 2016

Sesame Balls (Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Balls / Jian Dui)

One of the popular Dim Sum my family loves to eat is Jian Dui or commonly known as Sesame Balls. It is a deep fried glutinous rice balls coated with sesame seeds and filled with some sweet paste. The paste can be red bean paste, peanut paste or black sesame seeds paste.  

This Dim Sum has been in my "to do" list for more than two years! Eventually I laid my hands to make one, thanks to some friends who always raise the bar in their kitchen creations and inspired me to do my best. You know who you are ^^

The perfect sesame balls to me has to be with a perfect round shape while it is out from the hot oil and I like my sesame balls to have the chewy texture. I'm using China Sichuan Food's Sesame Balls recipe.

Yield: 18 pieces

1.5 cups glutinous rice flour
80g sugar
100ml water (10ml more for adjusting, include water for starter dough)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup roasted white sesame seeds
60g red bean paste
water for dipping
some glutinous rice flour for dusting
oil enough to do deep frying

1. Prepare starter dough. Take 2 tbsp glutinous rice flour and mix with 10ml water, knead to smooth. (Add a few drops of water if the dough is too dry)

In a small saucepan, bring some water to boil, cook the starter dough for 2 to 3 mins. Prepare a bowl of ice water, when the starter dough is ready, transfer the dough and soak in the ice water. Set aside for later use.

2. Prepare main dough. In a large mixing bowl, mix the left over glutinous rice flour with sugar and baking powder. Break the starter dough into small pieces, add into the mixing bowl. Gradually add water, knead the dough to smooth.

Shape the dough into a long log, divide into 18 portions, shape into small balls. Shape the balls into small bowl, wrap in 1/2 tsp red bean paste, seal up.

Prepare two bowls, one with some water and the other with white sesame seeds. Dip a dough ball into the water and let it roll over the sesame seeds, use the hand to press on the dough ball several times so the sesame seeds is able to stick firmly on the dough. 

3. Prepare to deep fry. Heat up oil (at least 2 inch height) in a saucepan, when you dip a pair of bamboo chopstick into the oil, you can see small bubbles appear around the bamboo chopstick means the oil is ready for frying. Lower a few pieces of dough balls into the hot oil, keep turning and pressing the dough balls, until it expands and double its size or until the sesame balls turned lightly golden brown. Transfer the sesame balls on a kitchen paper to drain the excess oil, let it cool down a bit before consume.   

19 May 2016

Kuih Kosui (Asian Rice Cakes with Screwpine Leaves Flavour)

Today I'm thinking of clearing the left over grated coconut I had for making Ondeh Ondeh. My family members and I love Asian snack very much. What I can think of is making these Kuih Kosui or Asian Rice Cakes to go with the grated coconut! 

As usual, my Kuih Kosui is without alkaline water. This round I'm using pandan paste (Screwpine leaves paste) If you like chewy Asian kuehs, this is one of it that you will enjoy too. 

Reference to Table for 2...or more with changes

Yield: 8 pieces
67g rice flour
33g tapioca starch
100g sugar
300ml water
1/2 tsp pandan paste
some freshly grated coconut with salt

1. In a small saucepan, add rice flour, tapioca starch, sugar, water and the pandan paste. Stir the mixture well with a whisk, place the saucepan on medium heat, keep stirring using a spatula until the liquid start thickening. (You can see there is translucent paste stick on the spatula) remove the saucepan from heat.

2. Heat up the steamer with 8 empty teacups sitting in the steamer, when the water start boiling, reduce the heat to medium. Using a ladle scoop some mixture into the 8 teacups. Cover the steamer and let it cook for 10-15 mins. 

3. Let the Kuih Kosui cool down completely before dislodge it from the teacups. Serve it together with grated coconut. 

18 May 2016

Chocolate Macarons with Azuki Cream Cheese

These batch of chocolate macarons was baked last year, the same day with the Green Tea Macarons

In the top left photo shown how I dry out my macarons.

Yield: 8 pairs of macarons

37g ground almond 
5g unsweetened cocoa powder
40g icing sugar
30g egg white (~1 egg)
40g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
a few drops of brown colouring (Wilton icing colour as I don't have AmeriColor in brown)

100g Philadelphia cream cheese 
150g homemade azuki paste

1. Prepare the filling: Cream the azuki paste together with cream cheese. Mix it well, place in the fridge for later use.
2. Heat up the oven at 150C. 
3. Sieve the ground almond, cocoa powder and icing sugar, twice. Set aside.
4. Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt using KitchenAid speed 2, when it is foamy, add half of the caster sugar (20g), change the KitchenAid speed to 6, whisk for 3 mins. Add brown food colouring and the remaining half of the caster sugar (20g), change the KitchenAid to speed 10, whisk until stiff peak form. 
5. Sieve in the dry ingredients to the egg white mixture, all in one-go. Fold the mixture with rubber spatula, deflate the meringue as you fold. Stop when the meringue able to drop down and ooze a bit when you lift it with the spatula. This is lava stage.
6. Add the batter into pipping bag with a plain nozzle. then pipe out small circles on the baking tray lined with non stick parchment paper. 
7. Rap the baking tray on the worktop a few times, smooth the top of the macaron tip with moist finger. Use the toothpick to prick any stray bubbles trap on the macarons.
8. Let the macarons dry out beside the hot oven. When the macaron shells are dry to touch, then is time to place the baking tray inside the preheat oven at 150C for 10 mins. (The feet should appear in 5 mins time) Then lower the oven temperature to 140C and continue to bake for another 8 mins. 
9. When the macarons are done. Remove the baking tray from the oven, lift the parchment paper at one edge and slide the whole parchment paper with macarons on to the cold surface or worktop. (As my worktop is marble) The baked through macarons should be able to remove from parchment paper without sticking on it. 

17 May 2016

Ondeh Ondeh (Glutinous Rice Balls with Palm Sugar) 红薯耶丝糥米球

Today I'm making one of my son favourite Asian snack again, Ondeh Ondeh or glutinous rice balls with palm sugar coated with grated coconut. I added mashed golden sweet potato to the dough to achieve the bouncy chewy texture. The texture remain soft bouncy after it turned cold too. 

The tricky part for this snack is to estimate how much water to add into the dough, as there is water content in the mashed golden sweet potato too. 

For Purple Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh please refer here

160g glutinous rice flour
10g tapioca flour
120g golden sweet potato, steam and mash
80-100ml pandan water (boil 200ml water with some pandan leaves)
150g palm sugar, diced
200g freshly grated coconut
1/2 tsp of pandan paste 

1. Steam the grated coconut with 1/4 tsp salt for 10 mins. set aside.
2. Mix glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour and mashed golden sweet potato together, add pandan paste, gradually add pandan water (pour half, add slowly if requires), knead into a smooth dough. If dough too dry add a little more pandan water or add a little more flour if it is too wet. (This depends on the water content of the sweet potato)
3. Divide dough into small balls, slightly press the dough ball into bowl shape and fill in a small piece of palm sugar in the middle. Seal the dough ball. Repeat for the remaining dough.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil, turn the heat to medium and drop the little dough balls in it. When they float to the surface, let it boil for another 2-3 mins.
5. Remove them with a slotted spoon and shake off excess water.
6. Roll the cooked glutinous balls over the grated coconut. Serve warm.