I adore the smell of freshly baked cakes and breads. Yes, I do! I REALLY, do! Don’t we all? But…. yes, BUT………if only I could bake!
Western cakes are light-years away from Asian (Chinese, in particular) cakes. “Asian” cakes are mostly steamed and not baked. This probably explained why I don’t bake 😉
Nope, I did NOT bake this. Sorry, folks!
Chinese carrot cake has no orange carrots, no eggs, no cinnamon powder, no sugar, no pecans or walnuts and definitely no cream cheese frosting!
And better still, listen to this, Chinese carrot cake is not sweet but savoury!! The ‘carrots’ in a Chinese carrot cake recipe are white carrots (grated turnip or radish or daikon) with key ingredients of chopped lapcheong (Chinese sausages), dried shrimps, shallots, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, rice flour, water, salt and white pepper.
I can make these anytime, but these weren’t mine, either…. 😦
But it was the metamorphosed version of the Chinese carrot cake which bewitched us kids since time immemorial. It’s called Chai tow kway Lo bak go or char kway (pan fried Turnip cake). My all-time favourite! Less boring than the initial version 😉
My mum baked but the types of “western” cakes she baked were quite limited with a few exceptions, of course ( remember the “Kek Pasir Rubuh” I mentioned on my post, Birthday Treat(s)….sequel?).
Without a doubt, the pound cake was THE most popular and THE most versatile of all cakes I remembered eating when I was a child.
The very same ingredients used in a pound cake were transformed into marble cake, chocolate cake, banana cake, fruit cake, lemon cake. You named it… At home, cakes were only baked on birthdays and Christmases.
I prefer cooking to baking because, baking, to me, is TOO rigid! You have to be really precise with the quantities of flour, sugar, butter, eggs and what not! Cooking gives me more freedom and flexibility. I can come up with something, anything, from what I have in my larder. A little bit of spices, a handful of fresh herbs, et voilà! Try doing that with baking and a big, fat flopped blop transpires before your eyes! No kidding!
That’s what happened to me!
I was toying with the idea of surprising my other half on his birthday. What better way to treat my DH than to surprise him with a birthday cake! Did you hear that? A cake!!
The only recipe book on desserts I found on our book shelf at the time was a Dutch edition, Bakken het hele jaar (All year-round Baking). I flipped through the pages, 478 in all. Beautiful, Gorgeous, Stunning, Delightful, Colourful (noticed the capital letters?) pictures. Yes, there were glossy pictures of the finished products after each recipe.
Darn! The cakes and desserts all looked scrumptious. And hey presto, right before my very eyes was a cake I wanted to make. Page 237 it was.
Easy peasy. I thought.
I followed the recipe to a tee. I was convinced that everything should turn out OKAY. In went the dough in the oven. My kitchen smelled heavenly, like it should be. Then my timer buzzed to signal the end of baking time. I took out the cake from the oven. Looked alright to me. I placed the cake on a cooling rack before spreading the strawberry jam.
YIKES! I could NOT roll the cake back up! It was really hard, but not brittle. The texture was leatherlike, and yet not pliable.
What did I do wrong? Beats me, really!
I cut a piece from the cake. It was chewy. Oh no!
There was simply no way that piece of leather shit could be redeemed.
It was my maiden journey to the world of baking and I failed. I did what I had to do at that moment. I freaked out and threw the cake in the bin! Yep, in the garbage can!
What would you have done if you were me?
Well, of course, I did tell my DH about my kitchen blunder. LOL! It is the thought that counts, he said. How sweet! 😀
From then on, I never attempted such a “feat” or did I?
This episode became part of my nightmare. Let’s say I was the butt of the joke, but, you know, in a tongue-in-cheek manner?
Here’s what happened.
I received a Christmas gift from a colleague in 2005, signed “Santa(rina) Anonymous”. Our Christmas tradition at work was that we exchanged gifts with another colleague by picking a name via drawing lots. That year, my Santa(rina) gave me a mould for making Speculaas cookies complete with a recipe.
Honestly speaking, I was not at all thrilled with the gift. Everyone else had tea light candle holders or a box of chocolates, or a bottle of wine and I got that bloody speculaas mould! The mould remained idle in my kitchen pantry for a good one year when I received yet another gift at our Christmas lunch in 2006. Guess what? I got a bag of the Speculaas mix!! Memang celaka sial. Soi kao mai soi. LOL!
Four months later (Apr 2007), I surprised my colleagues with the finished product as part of my birthday treat to them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the long awaited Speculaas cookies!!!! Damn it, I forgot to take a picture of the original cookies I made , but these ones looked almost exactly like the batches I made, except that I had made mine with griddled pattern on the cookies by using a fork. I did NOT use the speculaas mould. It was useless. It actually retarded my work pace, and making me less creative that way.
By the way, anyone can make these cookies. Believe you me, these ones were made by the then 9 year old Belgian girl. I happened to stumble upon her blog. Here goes…http://appelsenperen.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/speculaas-koekjes/
Slowly but surely, I unfolded the journey of making cakes, tarts and pastries, but more as a passive browser 😀
Until, one day, I craved for a cake that could only be found back home in Malaysia. We used to call this cake the Beehive cake.
I googled high and low on the net in search of the Beehive cake. There were loads of pictures and recipes on Beehive cake, but that’s not the cake I knew or wanted to bake.
Why of course, it was the Honeycomb Cake, or specifically, the Malaysian Honeycomb Cake I had been searching for all that time! Bingo! That’s it. That’s the cake I wanted to make and I DID!!!
You can find the recipe on Malaysian Honeycomb Cake recipe comes from Jo’s Deli Bakery
Or better still, watch the step-by-step instruction on video (http://www.houseofannie.com/malaysian-honeycomb-cake-recipe/). That’s how I made mine 😉
And by the way, happy trying! 😀