Baking Frenzy for CNY

Oh, what a week!!! Following the epic battle with bee cake, it’s major cookie baking for CNY, followed by cupcakes…

With no clear winner from the cornflake cookie contest (a margin of 1 vote is quite insignificant…), I decided to do a big batch of the recipe I prefer… which is version B. Beside cornflake cookies, I also have my eyes set on melt-in-the-mouth butter cookies from Cook.Bake.Love. for a while, and a version of almond cookies on her bog as well. Alas, not enough time for the almond cookies during the week. Well, have to do it post CNY.

The recipe for cornflake cookies has already been posted on here

For Melt-in-the-mouth Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
125g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
40g icing sugar
125g potato starch
80g superfine flour (I used cake flour)
1/2 tsp salt
Method:
1) Beat butter and icing sugar till fluffy and lighter in colour, sift in potato starch and flour, mix to form a soft dough.
2) Roll into small ball, arrange on lined baking pan and press lightly with a fork. Bake in preheated oven at 150C for 20 mins, upper rack (need not bake till cookies turn brown).

These butter cookies have a interesting texture, indeed melt-in-your-mouth for lack of better description. They are a bit bland though since they are no flavourings. Some dried fruits like cranberries or rasins will give it a punch.

Bee Cake

My MOST ambitious project to date: Three-tier beehive cake for my colleague’s girl
Ambitious because
1. My 1st real tier cake.
2. It’s a relative big and heavy cake – 5inch, 8inch and 10inch respectively.
3. I need to carve the cake – I don’t have round cake pans and I’m not going to buy more pans.
4. I hoped the bees will taste good.

Like with any project, planning is key. Weeks ahead, I baked all the cake layers (chocolate), wrapped them up tightly and put them into the freezer. Then I purchased all required edible and inedilbe materials and kept them away. I also came up with a list of steps for decorating.

The birthday celebration was on Sunday, 15 Jan. I started my preparation on Friday night.

Bees:
Initial idea is to make them in “cake pop” style. you know, with the candy melts and sticks. That did not work out for me. Maybe I thinned the melts too much or there was moisture on the cake balls after taking them out from the freezer. The coating was not smooth and patchy all over. It was not looking good and I decided to try out a different plan B.
With the cake balls, I wrapped the yellow fondant over it and decorated them with eyes, strips and wings. Looking cute at this point.
The nightmare came when it’s time to attach the bees to the cake. The cake bees were way too soft and they kept sliding off the cake. Their fondant skin started tearing and the bees got distorted by too many pokes and jabs I made at them to get them stay. I only managed to keep one cake bee on the top of the cake. In the end, I re-made the bees with good old fondant. A bit too sweet to be eaten whole but at least they remained adorable and they stayed on the cake.

Cake:
It’s fun to carve cakes. 😀
This was the part I feared most initially. I had sleepness nights as I stressed over how to make the edges smooth and arc. It turned out to be fun actually! *maybe it’s me…* Get a knife and a turntable and start cutting down. Oh, I filled the cake layers with nutella swiss buttercream, fridged them, carved them, covered all over with cream and into the fridge again. Then covered them with fondant, stacked them up and start attaching the decorations all over. That’s the procedure in less than 2 secs but took me forever to actually finish it…

Cake Drum:
I cut out a 14 inch circle from a big piece of styrofrom. Covered it with alumnium foil. Then lay green fondant over it and finally attaching a nice ribbon around the edges. The cake is transferred the drum before the rest of the decorations goes on.

I had many heart-stopping moments… when the fondant didn’t go on nicely on the cake and there were cake showing around the edges, when the cake bees had to be taken off the cake and they left black marks on the cake to be somehow covered, when chocolate cake crumbs got onto the fondant *urgh*, when the humidity raised and fondant won’t co-operate….

Somehow I managed to finish it after 2 sleepless nights and a day. I’m totally exhausted at the end of it and gotten somehow a couple of brusies and cuts and blisters… don’t ask… but I’m happy with the results. Really happy…

Some pictures my colleague took at his place. He’s a good photographer. 20120116-094934.jpg

Noticed the slight crumpled green fondant near the name. That’s caused by him, and I’m not around to fix it 😛

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one last fancy shot, this time taken by me 🙂 20120116-145613.jpg

CNY Cornflakes Cookies

Chinese New Year is just around the corner and festive spirit is in the air. Yippy!
For years, CNY preparation is a furry of activities at my in-laws’ place. They will make pineapple jam from scratch and baked pineapple tarts. They will cook and steam Nian-gao and chinese carrot cake. The main role in the “decorating” department belongs to me. I will roll, by-hand, the short thin strips of dough to be placed in a cris-cross pattern on the tarts. Seemingly simple, but a task that seems to be best executed by only me 😀 This year, in-laws decided to take a break from pineapple tarts so no more dough rolling. I decided to invest some time into making one of my favourtie CNY staple, cornflakes cookies.

So off to google for recipes… And I found a couple of interesting ones, that I tested last night.

Version A adapted from here
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My adapted recipe as follows
Ingredients:
100g butter
75g sugar
1 egg
150g all-purpose flour
30g bran or any cereal (coarsely crushed) – actually I didn’t measure this at all, just pour a bunch into ziplock bag and start crushing
1/2 tsp vanilla essense
1/2 tsp lemon essence
15g corn flour/corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
Method:
1. Beat butter and sugar till pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add vanilla essence. Stir in the lightly beaten egg.
3. Fold in the flour mixture including corn flour. (Mixture must not stick to our hands when touched.)
4. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out about 1 teaspoon of the cookie dough and roll it into the crushed cornflakes.
5. Transfer them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes at 175 degree C or till golden brown

Version B adapted from here
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My adapted recipe as follows
Ingredients:
75g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp lemon essence
150g cake flour
1/4 tsp table salt
80g Kellogg’s Cornflakes (coarsely crushed) – again didn’t measure
Method:
1. Beat the butter and icing sugar on low speed for about 10 seconds (to prevent your icing sugar from flying all over your kitchen) before increasing the speed to medium and beating for another 20 seconds or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Sift the cake flour into the mixing bowl, add the salt, and beat for another 30 seconds.
3. Pre-heat your oven to 175 degC.
4. Use a teaspoon to scoop up half a teaspoon of batter, and use another teaspoon to release the batter into the bowl of cornflakes. Use your fingertips to roll the ball of batter around till it is covered in cornflakes. Place the coated batter onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and repeat with the remaining batter.
5. Bake cookies for 22-24 min.

Verdit

The cookies were sampled and voted by office folks today…. and…. it’s a very close fight, with the victor winning by only a single vote. 

The winner is *drum-roll* version B !!

Kenny

Meet Kenny, my new best friend. He came into my house sometimes in early Dec, but officially broke out of the box only on 31 Dec. Since then, he has been a most wonderfully assistant. He helped to churn out a double batch of chocolate cakes (the cakes have been frozen for use in mid Jan) and two loaves of brioche. I love the brioche. love. love. love.

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