Wednesday, 22 November 2017

My TOP 10 Favourite Baking Tools ALL TIME

Over and over again, people have asked me what are some of the baking or culinary tools I use for my desserts so I decided to write a post on it! Here’s some of my Top favorite baking tools to work with. Since I work a lot with cakes, cupcakes and customised designer cakes, most of the tools mentioned below come in really really handy and I will show you why. I work with these tools on a daily basis so I will probably die without them.


1) Cupcake Corer



Naked Cupcakes with swirled frostings are pleasing to the eye but what if you bite into a surprise interior. Sometimes I like to surprise my guests with piñata cupcakes or cupcakes filled with a variety of fillings, jams, curds and frosting. These Cupcake Corers are a life saver. They save me the time and trouble of using a knife to dig out a portion of the cupcakes. You just have to press this corner in the center of the cupcake, twist and remove. The middle of the cupcake will come out easily..

2) Turntable




This is another item that is useful for decorating cake with frosting. You’ll need a turntable that is easy to turn while you frost the cake to achieve a smooth side. It also works best for piping swirls, flowers or designs on the cake. This Ombre Wave Cake was easily frosted thanks to my handy turntable.


3) Candy Thermometer




Bakers who make Macarons by the Italian Meringue method , make their own caramel, sugar syrup will find this super handy. The right temperature to remove the sugar syrup is critical. I find these kind of thermometers that clip well to the side of the pan easier to handle as they don’t need to be held with one hand. Imagine holding a thermometer after they reach a certain Fahrenheit! The heat…. Good Gracious! Please look after your hands, Dear Bakers!


4) Joseph Joseph Elevate Spatula



I’ve used many brands of spatula but this brand Joseph Joseph Elevate Flexible Spatula is one of the best. It’s funny because during Christmas gift exchange or what you call “Secret Santa”, I will always request for my Secret Santa to buy me this. This request has been repeated for 3-4 consecutive years! It’s so flexible and can clean every nook and corner of the bowl. You won’t have to worry about wasting frosting or batter anymore. I call this the magic Spatula. Because it cleans off food without a trace! AMAZING. See the Video below for a demonstration!



5) Half Hemisphere Baking Pan


Many of you have asked me if there is a mold for this Brain cake. I think there should be but I use a Half hemisphere Baking pan to make a round cake and then slowly carved it to an oval. It makes more sense to buy a half round one as you can also make a Soccer ball theme cake with it. Check out my Fifa World Cup Soccer Ball Cake and Soccermania Cakes baked in these half tins. If you want a brain,  you can always carve it to the shape you want. Multifunctional.


6) Mini Silicon Hemisphere Molds



Have you seen those petit cakes selling in stores with shiny glazes. Don’t they entice you so much?? I eat with my eyes first. Not a bad thing I supposed. Yummy things should taste nice right? I use this mold quite frequently but one of my popular cakes that received so many raved reviews over the years is my Rainbow no bake cheesecake. Check out these Silicon Hemisphere Molds. I made use of this same mini hemisphere mold to make the cake.

7) Fondant and Gumpaste Tool Set


How do you get those nicely moulded fondant figurines, cutouts, ribbons, flowers etc. They are achieved using these "Magical Tools". I Bought the entire Wilton Set and it has been well used. You can see some yellow stains on them already :(

8) Wilton Cake Leveller






Almost 80% of the cakes I bake do not have an entirely flat top. There is always bound to be a dome. But dome cakes are hard to frost and stack. In order to increase the stability of the layers, we need them to be even. So here comes my handy Wilton cake leveler which I use  99.9% of the time. It’s sharp and slices well.


9) Fondant PrecisionKnife with safety cap



This Precision knife is so sharp, it can cut fondant shapes so precisely! I love love love it. It works wonders when trimming off the excess fondant dangling down from your cake and a lot more other things! Just be careful when handling it as it is really sharp. It comes with a safety cap if you're worried.

10) Wilton Piping Set





I can't live without my Piping tips. I use them to pipe flowers on cupcakes, swirls on cakes, spiral, waves, leaves etc. Most of the time when it comes to cake decorating, I let my imagination go wild. A variety of piping tools lets me decide there and then what design i would like on my cake. Anyway my top 3 favourite piping tools for cupcakes are shown in the above picture.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

DIY- Christmas Cookie Bags as Gifts

How many times were you lured into a shop because of their pretty packaged goods. 
How many times were you tempted to buy something because they were packaged so nicely, you knew you had to get it for someone or yourself. This is what I call the [ Buy it first and think what to do with it later on ] mentality. 

Consumer behaviour is so predictable. Everyone wants to buy at least something decent looking this festive season unless you're pranking someone. So if you're trying to target this massive group of shoppers, work on your packaging first. Tempt them, Entice them, Sell them your story. 

I have a confession to make with regards to edibles- I buy them more for their packaging ( first degree) than taste ( of course this is of importance to me as well if you're trying to get me back as a repeated customer) but honestly for new goods: Packaging before taste. 

With that, it's time to spread some love around this Christmas. I started Christmas planning early as I always do so I don't get orders + personal baking clump in one day. It will only spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. I wanted to bake cookies for friends but I couldn't find any nice bags this Christmas so I decided to DIY. What's Christmas without a little personal touch right? Many have asked me where I bought these bags, so you have your answer right here. They are DIY and here's a little tutorial for those who want to recreate your own ;) 



These bags are actually pretty simple to maket. Infact, I find the process rather therapeutic. It takes your mind off things that don't just revolve around an excel sheet or computer screen. So are you readyy??


1) First you'll need some basics- nice papers ( Check out the variety of Christmas Craft Related Papers here. There's plenty of choices!!)  to form the top part of your cookie bag. I usually buy my papers online or from PaperMarket or Spotlight.  They usually have the Christmas sale at this time of the year so grab them now and save them for future use. Hahaa 

2) You'll need a ruler, pencil and scissors 

3) Double Sided Tape

4) Measure the width of the cookie bag you will be using and cut out the paper size accordingly. 



5) For clear plastic bags, I usually get my stocks from SKPThey sell bags in 50 or 100s at a pretty low cost. For cookies, you can bake them yourself or buy them. For me, I always bake my usual Chocolate Chip Cookie because everyone loves them.  I have other cookie types as well like dark chocolate, red velvet, speculoos over here.  Bottom line- Just bake from your heart and everything will turn out well :) 

6) After you place the cookies in the bag, seal the plastic so air would not enter and make your cookies soft

7) Use a double sided tape and tape both sides of the paper. Remove the white layer of tape. Place the sealed cookie bag over one side of the paper. Seal the top part of the paper down. 

And there you have it!! Your very own Christmas Cookie Bags. A little variety goes a long way. Don't be afraid to mix and match.  

Do comment in the post below or tag me on Instagram: @sherbakes if you attempt your very own. And if you're still scouting for Christmas recipes or DIY-ers, head down to my TOP FAVOURITE RECIPES for this Season!! 

Link:



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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mini Tea Cakes with Passionfruit Curd Filling




How many of you are fans of petit cakes or mini cakes? I received a resounding number of votes for YES on instagram a few days ago. I guess everyone's theory is the same. Mini bites allow space for you to try a variety of cakes and desserts. After all, we only have one stomach. 



These mini or tea cakes are unique in the sense that it is my first time making cakes that came with an indent when taken out of the oven. I bought this awesome tea cake pan a few weeks ago and I'm amazed at how easy the cakes could be taken out of the pan due to its non stick nature.. It unmoulds perfectly and retains its shape well. 

So there was a little hole in the middle for me to fill my favourite Vanilla Bean Cakes with refreshing Passionfruit curd filling. SUPER YUMS! You can fill these babies up with Vanilla Custard, Chocolate Mousse, Praline, Whipped Frosting etc. So many ideass to surprise your guests! Don't you think these mini cakes will make a good Thanksgiving or Christmas treat :) It's bite size so you dont have to worry about not having space to enjoy more of other desserts or turkey, baked ham, cheesey casseroles!
I know most of you have been requesting for my passionfruit curd recipe so without further delay, here's the recipe! It's so good, you can really enjoy it with a spoon. My favourite way to enjoy it is to add some on top of my greek yogurt, overnight oats or my recent chia pudding craze!  Hope you like it as much as I do! 


Mini Tea Cakes with Passionfruit Filling and Berries


Ingredients for the Vanilla Bean cake ( or any kind of cake you fancy):


3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/8 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract


1) Preheat oven to 175deg C . Spray tea cake pan with non stick cooking oil. 
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add sugar and mix well
3) In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
4) Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5) Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
6) Remove pan from oven and place on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Unmold the tea cakes and let cool completely. 

Passion fruit curd


1/2 cup passion fruit ( Flesh from about 3 fruits)
1 eggs
1.5 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
50g butter, cubed


1) Combine all the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl and set it over a bowl of simmering water.
2) Stirring continuously, allow the butter to melt and the mixture to come together. At first the mixture is going to look strange and curdled but just continue stirring and when the butter is melted, switch to a whisk and whisk until the curd is thick and glossy.
3) Taste to ensure the curd is smooth and cooked through then remove from the heat. Refrigerate until cool and set. 

Assembling the Cake


1) When the cakes have cooled and the passionfruit curd has set and is a little thicker, fill cakes up with the curd
2) Top with your favourite berries or fruits
3) You can enjoy it immediately or put it back in the fridge to set until your guests arrive. 


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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Classic Beef Stew




Hello Hello! Sorry for the hiatus! Been pretty long since I wrote a blog post but don't worry I didn't abandon you guys. It's just things have changed the past few weeks. Firstly, I'm getting used to my new married status Woohoooo. Things have been great so far except for the past few days where I was down with fever and supposedly gastric probs :( 


Secondly, my hubs and I were just back from our honeymoon. 2.5 weeks of pure bliss, relaxation, fun and activities. Shall get around writing a post of our excellent Trip to Hawaii but for now cooking something up seems more urgent now then ever! hahaa 


This long weekend provides ample time to whip something delicious up for the family. Mum commented that she hasnt seen me around the kitchen lately. (Which is a rather disturbing comment I must say). Hhaha so here am I with the classic beef stew ( Non alcoholic version though becoz the hubs is allergic to wine).  But still as good I must say. The taste is better the second day when all the flavours have sipped through. 


This Recipe is an adaption of the one by Angela Hartnett ( Came highly recommended by Ell- THANK YOU BABE!!) I used beef shin - "Beef shin contains some gristle and connective tissue and when cooked for a long period of time, the gristle will turn into jelly which melts into the stew and adds a nice wonderful flavour. 


Classic Beef Stew (Serves about 6-8 pax) 


Ingredients

1.2kg of beef shin
3 tbsp of olive oil
5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 bulb of garlic, sliced
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
4 sprigs thyme
12 black peppercorn
2 tbsp tomato paste ( I used Hunts brand)
1 litres beef stock
1 splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 pkt (250g) white button mushrooms 


Steps


1) Cut the beef shin into 6-8 portions and season well with salt and pepper

2) Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan ( I used Le Creuset Cast Iron 26cm Pot)

3) When oil is hot, sear the beef shin on all sides to get that brown color. Remove and set aside

4) With the remaining oil in pan, add leeks, celery, garlic and onions and stir until well mixed. Add thyme and peppercorns and mix.

5) Add tomato paste and mix well.

6) Pour in the beef stock and stir and scrap the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Add in the beef shin. Bring to a boil and skim the surface scum. 

7) Turn fire down to low and simmer for 1 hr 15 mins. 

8) Add carrots and mushrooms ( I added it at a later stage so they wont be too mushy at the end of cooking). 

9) Cook for another 1.5 - 2 hrs or until meat is soft. 

10) Once the stew is ready, add a splash of Worcestershire sauce. 

11) Serve stew hot with crusty bread or over mashed potatoes or rice :) 

12) Stew is excellent the next day as flavors start to develop. 


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Monday, 13 November 2017

Hippo Cake for Baby Oli


I don’t have a kid YET but I sure enjoy the perks of having “One”. A few days ago was my nephew Oliver's FIRST BIRTHDAY Celebration! HAPPY BIRTHDAY FURBALL 😆😆😆 We had a smashing good time at the indoor playground. The days leading to the party were spent baking for his party! 


His favourite soft toy is the Hippo I gave him since the first day he came to this World. That explains the Hippo theme! The cake is a lychee cream cheese and chocolate Oreo fudge cake!


Cupcakes were Vanilla bean flavor with Blue and Yellow cream cheese swirls. 


I also designed a Milestone board specially for him! Pretty proud of how the final product turned out!! 


and FINALLY. My favourite picture of the Birthday Boy!! My Beloved Furball!


Have a Blessed Birthday Baby Oli. May the Good Lord Bless you always as you grow up to be a fine young chap. I'll reserve this post on my blog for you to read in 10 years time! Love your fav ee sher. 


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Thursday, 9 November 2017

Healthy Veggie Sriracha Balls


Howdy everyone! Remember those AWESOME Juicy Portobello Bean Mushrooms I made a couple weeks ago? It was such a hit so I improvised to make a newer version. This time round there are no beans involved. Just purely vegetables!


Broccoli and Red Bell pepper lovers, this one is specially for you! It is perfect as a snack, as an addition to salads or wraps or can be well eaten plain! I have been craving falafels since the first time I had them in Abu Dhabi.


Our friend gave us a tour round the country and introduced us to his favourite Falafel shop. You can customize your falafel fillings in the wrap. One I remembered was filled with oozing cheese! From then on, whenever I see falafels, it brought back many good memories.


This Seriously Veggie balls are a little different from falafels in that they only contain veggies. Great for people who are looking for a light snack during the day or afternoon! It carries a little spice ( Sriracha + Paprika)- you can omit this if you want it to be kid friendly. Just a simple mixing of these 2 ingredients with a little Worcestershire sauce, your favourite spices ( I use Texas Steakhouse rub, a little Sriracha and paprika), ½ cup Panko crumbs and an egg ( or you can use an egg white). Mix Mix Mix and bake for 20 mins.

The balls are extremely moist and yummy. I love them with a little heat!

Broccoli Veggie Balls ( Makes about 15  2" Balls)


- 1 egg ( or egg white)
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 whole red bell pepper
- 250g broccoli, chopped coarsely
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp texas steakhouse rub
- 1 tbsp Sriracha + Paprika ( Can add more if you like the patty spicy)

Instructions


1) Preheat oven to 175deg Celsius. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper and spray a little cooking oil over. 

2) In a food processor, pulse red bell pepper, broccoli until small pieces. If you like a little bite in your veggie balls, don't pulse until too fine. 

3) Add in the Worcestershire sauce, Steakhouse rub, Sriracha sauce, Paprika, egg and Panko crumbs and mix well. 

4) If mixture is too sticky to roll into a ball with your hands, add somemore panko.

5) Roll into balls and place on baking tray and bake for 20 mins until light golden brown. 

6) Optional: Mix Japanese Mayo/ Greek yogurt ( for healthier alternative) with Sriracha for the dip. ENJOY!! 



Other Healthy Treats you might like: 

Mushroom Bean Patty


Succulent Moist Juicy SO DELICIOUS Portobello Mushroom Broccoli and Bean Patties! I swear i could eat 10 of this at one go!!




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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

MASSIVE SALES during 11.11 Singles Day and Black Friday



Guess What Time of the Year it is? It’s definitely Shopping time! Of all the months in the year, I look forward to December the most because it marks the start of the festive season where everyone is either out there in the malls doing their last minute shopping, grabbing groceries, gifts, cards, clothes or even chilling out. It’s the time of the year where you let your hair down and indulge in pampering yourself or pampering others (that includes your family, relatives, colleagues and close friends).

We all know that Christmas is a season of giving! But buying something for a special someone can be quite a headache. Not because of the lack of stuff to buy but the unlimited choices there are! Offline and Online Retailers are getting more and more aggressive in their sales and marketing techniques. They can offer you huge discounts and promotions that are simply too irresistible for you to turn down. It’s a win-win situation. They get the profits and you get the good end of the bargain.

It’s never too early to start planning what to buy. In fact November is THE MONTH to start because of the 2 special days 11.11 and Black Friday that offer HUGE sales. I am not kidding. You will be amazed at how much prices can be slashed during these 2 occasions.

The 11th of November (aka 11.11) is widely known as Singles Day because of the number 1 that marks an individual. But over the years, it has evolved to include celebrating friendship day – many “1” individuals coming together to celebrate their years of friendship or it could even mean “ you’re the only one in my heart” where couples pronounce their love to one another. For whatever reason you are celebrating, there are bound to be MASSIVE savings from deals and offers from a lot of e-commerce stores from Taobao, Lazada, Qoo10, Fave to maybe even the Apple Store. (Maybe a good way to say I love you to that special someone is by buying them the latest iPhone X). A better camera function allows you to take more selfies together? Yes? No?


And my favorite Day that I will so willingly sacrifice my “limited time” for is Black Friday!! Do not date me out on Black Friday because I’m usually at home surfing the net for good bargains. Ok some might ask what is Black Friday? It is a day of MASSIVE SALES where prices are slashed by half or even more than that. It is held on the 4th Friday of November and usually after Thanksgiving in the US. I first knew of this DAY when my roommate told me horrifying stories about how people started queuing at physical stores even the night before. She said it’s the time of the year where people buy big ticket items such as Televisions, Computers, Washing Machines etcc.. It signifies the beginning of the Holiday Shopping. Although for me, shopping actually starts NOW! Over the years, this day has been gaining popularity across countries as more and more people get to know about this occasion.

Are you getting all excited already for this shopping season? Want to know where to start? My favorite site to go to is Shopback. They offer a comprehensive list of merchants where I can click through and start my shopping expedition. See How Convenient! During this Black Friday sales and Singles Day sales period, they are offering HUGE discounts that you won’t want to miss.


Close friends of mine will know that I love my food as much as I love travelling. They go hand in hand really. To go somewhere and experience the beauty, history and food unique to each Country and City is certainly something worth dying for! Foodie travelers can relate well to this! Because we all love a good bargain (Who doesn’t!!), we will try to wait till there’s a big promotion on air tickets, accommodations overseas etcc! Expedia is one of my favorite portals to get me out of here! One reason is during these “Special days” or Festive seasons, they offer really good deals!! Trust me Singles Day and Black Friday is the time you wanna sit at your desk and move those fingers of yours!

Amazon is also another of my favorite go to for online purchases of books, home related stuff, cooking/ bakeware. Most of the time when I see something pretty on pin interest, I know I can always count on Amazon to get me what I’m looking for.

Recently they have started their Holiday Season with the opening of its “ Black Friday Store” on 1st November. It has a centralized location that features holiday deals across all categories. To make it easier for customers to make purchases, Amazon has launched their new service called AR view, a feature within the Amazon App that allows customers to visualize their merchandises within their own house. I think this is such a brilliant idea!

Enough Said! I think it’s time to let your fingers do the talking! Go all out and be a blessing to others. Remember it’s always better to give than to receive.
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