Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kek lapis sarawak and swiss roll

i fell in love with kek lapis sarawak more than 9 years ago, when a friend of the family gave some during raya. it was the moistest and sweetest cake i've ever tasted, besides the colourful layers of the cake, which makes it uniquely malaysian, unlike the kek lapis betawi (i dont like the spices in it). one of my sisters used to order benji roll every single raya, with colourful checks nestled in the heart of the roll. all of these recipes are featured in rabiah amit's book, kek lapis sarawak. yes, the number of eggs used in the recipe will make the eyes of the weight conscious bulge, nevertheless, because of its richness, the cake should be eaten in smaller slices (as it is damn expensive if you buy them, and if you make them, it's because it's time consuming so u'd better make it last as long as you can), so those who're watching their weight need not fear.

2 days ago, i had this craving for swiss roll. when i was a little girl, my mother always bought a simple but delicious strawberry jam filled swiss roll from a bakery. nowadays, it's difficult to get an ordinary swiss roll as every cake house or bakery will sell the cream version. full of ovalette, and god knows, using the ERT book, i made swiss roll. yeah, it broke 3/4 of the length, but who cares...nigella always says homecooking is supposed to be as it is, and it's not about perfection. perfection is so pretentious, dont you think?
swiss roll
3 eggs
3 oz castor sugar
3 oz sifted flour
beat the eggs until light and double in volume (or triple). add in sugar, then fold in flour lightly. pour into a rectangle baking sheet (lined with grease paper) and bake for 7-10 mins at 220 C (the cooking time will vary for different ovens). take the sponge cake out frm the oven, and invert it onto a tea towel lined with a grease paper which has been sprinkled with some castor sugar. spread with some jam, and roll it up.

Monday, April 10, 2006

a dialogue session with a chef

one of my nieces specialises in pastry making, and right now she's in London for a few more months before her course is complete. before that she studied in KDU majoring in culinary arts. the rose decoration on the cake is her creation - in 20 minutes, when she entered a competition in paris. she grew up in an environment where entertaining and food blend together - especially since my family loves to eat. her mother, my sis in law, would do a lot of cooking, so we would have rich curry or big chunks of meat in our soup, or creamy lasagne or shepherd's pie...or her sinful durian mousse cake.

i often told my sis in law that i wished i could ask my intan a lot of questions, mostly relating to pastry and cake making, which i think i havent really mastered (thus, the adage the more you know, the more you dont know, is really true). so, last saturday, when intan was back for a week long holiday, i took the opportunity to fire questions as we had limited time... (as i was hogging on my kuey teow and she on her penang laksa). it's interesting to note that my italian country bread was hard as a rock not because i failed to knead well, but because the technique i used wasnt correct. she kept telling me about the steam oven, which all professional kitchens have, creating that crust on the outside and soft on the inside....and despite the malaysians' tendency to favour soft sponges (which means stabiliser is added), she said the chefs over there DO NOT use stabilisers and make fresh batches of sponges daily...i should think the malaysians too, like the british kids in jamie's school dinners should be re-trained to appreciate the basic ingredient foods instead of overly processed foods...

in the end, 1 hour isnt enough to berguru with intan.... i shall have to wait until she returns for good in july.

Kuey Teow fever

eversince i was a girl, i have loved char kuey teow. back then the kuey teow i ate wasnt that nice, it's mostly pale red, too much chili boh and vinegar. so usually it's very spicy. the ones that i like are cooked by my bro in law who likes cooking (and his dishes are usually very very spicy as he puts in bird's eye chili).

but now that i'm older, i began to note the different tastes, and i began to become a connoisseur. and there goes my quest to search for the best penang char kuey teow. a few years ago when i was in KL, i would dine at little penang cafe in midvalley, because for me they make the best char kuey teow. only that a plate of char kuey teow costs RM8...or may be now they've raised the price...last year, i went to penang, and shahul took me to this 1 stall which he claims to be one of the best in penang. the taste of the char kuey teow is similar to that of little penang cafe, and a lot cheaper.

last weekend, when my sis in law invited me to join for breakfast, we went to a restaurant next to FAM - it's done in hawkers style, so there are a lot of stalls there. and i sampled the char kuey teow. up till now i'm still thinking about's the best char kuey teow i've ever tasted. still hot, a bit soggy and not dry, which is what i like the best...and it has that ummph taste...i could taste the spicyness, the sesame oil...

i'm trying to recreate the taste last night, but the fire's too big so my onions were burnt. today i hope to make a second attempt...and hopefully i can recreate the symphony of taste