04 March 2013


Finally, I am baking challah, which has been on my cooking list since the summer! Although I'm not a huge fan of it, my mum loves challah because it's so airy. 
I used this recipe but I only used 3 eggs in the dough (and added water to make up for the liquid volume of the 4th egg). Unfortunately, I only used up about 6 cups of flour (instead of the 8 specified in the recipe) before my dough got doughy. While kneading, though, the dough would get increasingly sticky, so I threw in approximately another half of a cup of flour before letting it rise. 

Instead of using plastic wrap, I just put the bowls of dough in previously-used (but clean) plastic bags. The dough never touches the plastic bags if you leave enough space, and once you remove the plastic bags and allow their to air dry, you can reuse these bags for this or other purposes. This is better for the environment. Yes, the bread was rising on the carpet of my bedroom upstairs because that's where there is the most sunlight/heat during the day.

The first 1-h rise resulted in beautifully doubled-in-size dough! The second 0.5-h rise also culminated in round poofy blobs, which I subsequently split into long noodles and braided. I used 6 noodles per loaf (braiding the outer-most noodle over 3 consecutive noodles, alternating between left and right) and although the lengths of the noodles weren't exactly the same, all I had to do was tuck the leftover noodles into/under the loaf. 

Then, I brushed the loaves with egg wash.

The third rise of the loaves took way longer than the recommended 1 h, because by this time, the afternoon sunlight had disappeared. Instead, I let them rise for about 1.75 h, brushed them with another coat of egg wash, and threw them into the half preheated oven for half an hour. I then let it sit in the (off) oven for about 10 minutes before pulling out a smashing crusty loaf! My mum tried to trick my dad into thinking it was store-bought, but that failed because the bread was still warm. However, everyone thought it looked pretty.

My sister was quite excited and decided to ruin my picture. On the other hand, the crust was a bit thick for conventional liking (though I enjoyed it), but the crumb was super soft and airy! Yes, it looks like bread! It pulls like bread! It is bread!

03 March 2013

Bird Nest Birthday Cake

It's quite bizarre being back after an unintentional 6-month hiatus. School got in the way and I almost feel as though food blogging is just a fragment of my past. Today, everyone (specifically my demographic, ugh), takes photos of food with their fancy phones. Blogging isn't that special anymore. People want TL;DR and pictures to glaze their eyes over.

Nevertheless, the food blogging continues because I still believe that I offer a unique personality to this blog.

I got home on Friday for Spring Break, at 11pm, and the first thing my sister requests is that I make her a cake for her birthday party. She wants fairy cakes, but as one cake rather than individual cupcakes. Despite the fact that my sister, at 9, can already make pancakes, cookies, cornbread, and cake, she still asked me to bake and decorate her birthday cake (with a candle bird and nest). It's nice to get requests.

Yesterday afternoon, I used the Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe to make the cake, but since my scale is at school, I'm sure that the measurements were a little off (especially as my cake ended up much shorter than I expected). I also made some buttercream icing for the "grass" which my mum ended up scraping off and throwing away after the party was over (because no one in the family likes buttercream icing).

To sandwich the two layers, I used melted peppermint marshmallows (microwave, 30-40s) and cookie pieces. I cut some strawberry flowers because apparently, it's plausible to have a bird's nest in a meadow. The nest itself was artfully constructed out of 4 pieces of Kit-Kat, and some crushed Oreo. I added 10 blue jelly beans as eggs because my sister is turning 10. I used a fork to make the buttercream icing textured. Finally, I sifted some powdered sugar over everything.

This may be one of the prettiest cakes I've made (I still think my Portal Cake is one of the most authentic-looking ones in the world though) and it tasted pretty good too (I got a compliment from my sister's friend!). I just hope that I can avoid using buttercream icing in the future.