failed lemon cake

not a recipe today, but a lament: sometimes cakes rise pretty and bake up golden, but they taste insipid and of nothing, really. this was supposed to be a lemony, buttery cake, and all it was was a soft, fluffy block of insipidness.

and to add insult to injury, the cake didn’t even last two days – stored in a container, as I always do – before it started to smell a little sour – in a bad spoiling sort of way, so I couldn’t even throw it into a trifle or some sort of mask-the-blahness confection.

have you any idea why some cakes spoil faster than others? I haven’t switched kitchens, and this was a standard butter-flour-lemon-egg recipes – I couldn’t really figure it out.

but onwards, and upwards! I’ve recently come back from a bali getaway – and I promise the photo-posts are coming soon.

tau sar piah, the making

this is such a long post – and so many photos! – but see those tau sar piah up in the first photo? they might be gorgeous to look at and perfectly-sized for rapid consumption – but they take a crazy amount of preparation and time, so much so that you start to wonder in between if it’s worth it. I’m really happy I went through with it though – it taught me new techniques, came out really much prettier than I’d expected, and was just the thing for a relaxing (entire) day’s project.

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andersen’s of denmark ice cream, town

ice cream and more at this open air outlet of the dutch ice cream chain at marina square. another quick dessert post while I prepare the recipe for the tau sar piah: this is one of my partner’s favourite ice cream places – he particularly likes their rum and raisin flavour – and we came here with the family for a spot of sweet after dinner. it’s not the coolest place to be eating ice cream – those hipster places with their fancy liquid nitrogen and exotic flavours – but it is an old standby, and still pretty good for it.

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tau sar piah (flaky pastry and a mung bean filling)

tau sar piah are traditional chinese bean pastries, with a cooked split mung bean filling surrounded by a layer of flaky pastry. these pastries are sold in those old neighborhood bakeries, or brought back in boxes from malaysia – the malaysian ones are supposedly tastier because they they still do things the old way and aren’t shy about using lard. I never thought I’d want to make these for myself since I don’t much eat them anymore now, though that sweet-savoury bean filling is rather addictive once you start.

these were my first attempt, and I made them slightly different with a filling that used the entire green mung bean – as opposed to just the skinless yellow split mung bean – and though there is room for improvement, I was pretty stoked with how they turned out. asian recipes are really difficult to master actually – and very tedious to complete. I have complete admiration for cooks that churn these pastries out regularly, but it also reminds you that it’s the very same reason our old cornerstone bakeries are starting to close.

recipe and steps in the next post! that last photo is a sort of fantasy of mine – I’m not sure I’ll want to be selling these particular pastries, but there is a sense of satisfaction in even just printing out that first box.

nam nam noodle bar, town

utterly fantastic vietnamese food at the basement of the wheelock place shopping mall. this place is such a gem, and really, it’s the best food I’ve had for quite a while since coming back to singapore. great, tasty, savoury, and wholly satisfying food at great low prices – made even more reasonable within context of its location – this is one place worthy of fandom.

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lime meringue layer cake

a truly nigella cake – which for me means that it both tastes and looks impressive, but is so simple it feels almost like a cheat. full disclosure means I have to tell you I made this twice – but it’s not through any fault of hers: I was a little too anxious and took it out of the oven too early ): but I thankfully had enough ingredients and time to make it again.

this is a simple, rustic-looking layer cake, with sponge and meringue baked together and a smattering of curd between. it’s the first time I’ve made a cake like this, but it almost definitely won’t be the last time – it opens up a world of delightful permutations: chocolate sponge and mint meringue, a pistachio sponge and chocolate meringue and chocolate ganache (sort of like a cake I made a long time ago with a dense chocolate base and a nutty meringue).

the recipe is fancy-looking without needing fancy techniques or equipment, which really is what I love about nigella’s recipes. it went down very well at the lunch-party I brought it too, the tangy curd providing intensity to the textured layers, and was spectacular with a mug of hot tea.

p.s. you’ll see that my peaks didn’t hold up, but that didn’t bother me much – the cake was lovely all the same!

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lime curd

an easy lime curd recipe using the fruit harvested from a tiny pot in our garden – my dad’s pride and joy. we haven’t had the need to buy lime for a long time now, and these are the local calamansi variant, which go very well on fried fish, seafood, and with chilli as a dip-with-a-kick.

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ministry of food, bugis

decent japanese-style desserts at this chain of cafe-restaurants – this one at bugis. I love all that sort of textural jellies and pastes and starchy components you get in asian desserts – which is what I think western desserts sometime miss out on – and japanese desserts in particular incorporate many of these. I don’t know of many options in singapore where you can get really good versions of these desserts (unless you’re willing to pay quite a pretty penny), and so the mainstream japanese chains do a good enough job to sate my cravings.

the dessert menu here ranges from traditional items like sweet red bean soup with mochi (rice cakes), to slightly more western variations with soft serve ice cream and cocktail fruit, to modern items like green tea frappucinos. most of the things we’ve tried have been between the meh-to-good range.

what I really like here though, are these baked mochi puffs – essentially pieces of rice cake that you heat over a grill or in a hot oven that puff up like mad and create a crunchy crust and a chewy interior. served with kinako – soy bean powder, red bean paste and kuromitsu – a dark brown sugar syrup – this is one very good dessert. it’s also very good with a bit of matcha ice cream on the side.

yi dian xin hong kong dim sum, kovan

better than standard coffee-shop offerings, but not worth the hype dimsum at the kovan area – good if you live here, but don’t bother if you don’t. it’s almost certain that anything with liushabao (or, salted egg custard bun – you must know this by now) will catch the attention of my rather overattentive stomach – and so I was pretty intrigued by this place when I read a blog post on it. the food is pretty alright, but I highly doubt I’ll be returning on purpose for the dimsum.

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