Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sweet Chilli Sauce


Sweet chilli sauce is somewhat a staple in take away Asian restaurants or even dining in especially with prawn crackers. I wanted to explore making it on my own and found it actually really easy. Using the basic ingredients I know should go in, I concocted my version of sweet chilli sauce and this was the product, a tangy, sweet chilli sauce with a slight kick to the end of it. Here's the recipe:

10 red chillies
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 to 3 stalks of lemon grass
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 palm size ginger
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce / tamari soy sauce

  1. Put red chillies, lemon grass, garlic and ginger into a mini chopper or blender and whiz til it becomes pulp like. 
  2. Next boil the sugar and water til melted and continue boiling till it browns or starts to caramelise. Then pour in the chilli pulp mixture and stir, bring to a boil again and then add the rice vinegar and soy sauce and stir. 
  3. Take off the heat and pour into a container or a sterilised jam jar large enough. It should make at least a large amount equivalent to a large soup bowl. Serve when necessary. Or use it to coat your meat before roasting / grilling.
Serve it along with fried wantons, fish cakes or anything in between. My flatmate tosses it over her salad and sometimes her fried noodles too. 


The Innovative Baker

Goat's cheese and pomegranate parcels

I was inspired by a recipe featured in the Stylist magazine that we get for free on the streets of London when I came up with this version. The original recipe called for vol-au-vents (see pic below) 

but that would mean, more puff pastry, more money and of course more time. Though my version is not exactly the quickest but certainly a cheaper option. I opted to use pancake batter at its runniest (most fluid if you'd like to be more visual), and mould it in the oven using muffin moulds to create a cup-like mould and then voila, it gave birth to my version of Goat's cheese and pomegranate parcels:


Pancake batter:

1 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 packets pomegranate seeds or around 4 to 5 whole pomegranates
250gms goat's cheese

Greek Basil leaves

  1. First, prepare your pancake batter. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Runny consistency means it literally runs of the whisk or spoon you are using to mix. If it is still sticky and thick, add more water.
  2. Then heat up a pancake griddle or a flat frying pan (preferably non-stick). The oil in the pancake batter will help it not stick to the pan in any case. Spoon a small portion of the batter on to the hot griddle and use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture till medium sized. As a rough guide, use a medium soup bowl as your guide or the muffin mould depth to gauge how big your pancake mould should look like. The pancake should also be quite thin to make it easier to press into the muffin mould. Heat up the oven to 220 Degrees Celcius whilst making your pancakes.
  3. The pancake batter should yield around 36 pancakes. 
  4. Place pancakes onto the muffin mould and press down to make it look like a muffin case. Place into heated oven for up to 3 minutes or so or until brown and hard. Remove and repeat the same process for all 36 pancakes. Let the pancake moulds rest once completed.
  5. Then mix the goat's cheese and pomegranates together. If you only have whole pomegranates, slice the pomegranates in half, and use the rolling pin and knock the seeds out. The easiest way to get the seeds. When the mixture is done, set aside.
  6. When ready to assemble, place a spoonful of the goat's cheese and pomegranate mixture into the pancake mould and add a few Greek Basil leaves for added touch and flavour.
There you go! It certainly tasted yummy and was a hit. It definitely adds colour and variety to a party table too. Next one up, curried pork and potato parcels.

The Innovative Baker 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Business Cards have arrived!

Thanks to a great friend, my business cards have arrived! Quirky aren't they? Well now that they're here, my business side of things will be taking off! I'm in the midst of finalising the menu and the prices and hopefully it'll be an easy reference should anyone fancy a cake or cupcake batches to order :)

Watch out!

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 6 June 2011

Elderflower Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Infused Elderflower Frosting and Pink Piping

For my great friend and flatmate Marta, I wanted to create something special. So while reading up on my recipes and flipping through magazines, I spotted elderflower:

Of course...I didn't have to actually use the flower though it would have added a nice tough to the frosting but I was able to get hold of elderflower syrup. So that gave birth to this recipe:

For the cupcakes
175g unsalted butter - very soft 
175g demarara sugar
3 medium eggs - beaten
1tsp elderflower syrup
175g self-raising flour - sifted
1/2tsp baking power
2tbsp milk

For the cream cheese frosting
300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
1tsp elderflower syrup

For the pink cream:
100ml double cream
50g icing sugar
2 squirts of pink coloring

  1. Firstly, crank up the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius and then line your muffin trays.
  2. Next, beat sugar and butter till light and fluffy before beaten eggs into mixture. Add in the elderflower syrup, then a portion of the sifted flour and baking powder before finally adding in the milk.
  3. Once fully combined, spoon into muffin trays and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While waiting, make the cream cheese icing by combining all the ingredients and whip into frosting. Place in fridge and proceed the same with the cream. Place in the fridge too.
  5. Once cupcakes are baked, take out to completely cool down before frosting and piping.
It was perfect for a party, and the host loved it (or so I gather). 

Next up, carrot cake...

The Innovative Baker

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Blue Cream Piping

I've finally found time!!!! Yay!!!! Ok...jubilation over... now to write...

So the inspiration for this came when I asked the birthday boy what he fancied for his birthday cake. He was toying with chocolate, coffee, and the sort before settling with Lemon Drizzle Cake. Well It is normally in a form of a cake but to make it more festive, I changed it up and made cupcakes instead. Mind you, it is for the sweet tooth as it does involve a load of sugar and in different forms: caster sugar and icing sugar. Anyway, so what went into it?

The cupcake
200gm unsalted butter - softened or partially melted in the microwave
250gm caster sugar (you can use light brown sugar too)
3 medium eggs at room temperature and beaten
finely grated zest of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
250gm self-raising flour - sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml milk - cold or room temperature doesn't matter

The Drizzle:
Juice from 2 medium lemons
100gm caster sugar

The Cream Cheese Frosting:
300gm cream / soft cheese
400gm icing sugar
1tsp vanilla essence

The Blue Cream Piping:
1 cup double cream
1/2 icing sugar
2 squirts of blue coloring
1tsp vanilla essence

  1. Firstly crank up the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Prepare the muffin trays with cupcake cups.
  2. In your mixer, beat sugar, lemon zest and butter till light and fluffy before adding the eggs slowly. Then add in a portion of flour and the baking powder and a portion of milk and beat again before adding in the rest of the flour and milk. Once fully combined, spoon into lined muffin trays and bake for 15 minutes. Take out and leave to cool thoroughly.
  3. While waiting for the cupcakes, squeeze the lemons for the juice and mix it with the sugar. The lemon juice will slightly melt the sugar. Set aside.
  4. Beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla essence until slightly runny in consistency. To have a thicker consistency, reduce icing sugar measurement by at least half. Leave in fridge.
  5. Beat double cream, icing sugar and vanilla essence until it thickens up. Then add in the blue coloring and fold it in to combine. Leave in fridge as well.
  6. The cupcakes should still be warm when drizzling the lemon sugar syrup. Firstly poke holes into the cupcakes by either using a fork or a toothpick. I used toothpicks. Then using a brush, brush the drizzle onto the cupcakes enough to leave a shin on it. Then let it rest before continuing to cream.
  7. Next pipe the cream cheese frosting to cover the tops and then pipe blue cream accordingly to what you'd like to have. Serve up! Or pack it in a nice box for a nice birthday treat :)
Here's what I did:

Evidently my piping needs work but steady hands goes a long way... This weekend I'll be making Elderflower inspired cakes...and a catering gig too! Watch out for mini quiche lorraines :)

The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sambal Belacan (Malaysian Chilli Paste)

I know I promised recipes for the cupcakes but my catering weekend is coming up so I figured sambal belacan or Malaysian Chilli Paste would save me for now :) A staple condiment that most Malaysians and possibly other Asians too would have to accompany their dishes (either as a dip or as the grounds for a sauce in a stir-fry), I would say one cannot live without it. Unless of course, you don't fancy foul smelling foods or chill in general. There are many variations to this dipping sauce, watery to thick. I have made the thicker version that only has lime juice as its sole fluid aside from the fresh chillies of course. So what goes into it?

15 stalks of red chillies
1 tbsp of belacan granules (toasted and pounded)
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Cut the chillies into smaller portions and place in mini chopper or blender or mortar. If in mini chopper, add in the belacan granules, the lime juice and salt altogether before zapping it to make the paste. The same goes with the blender.
  2. In a mortar, firstly pound the chillies first in bits and not the entire portion of the 15 stalks you have. When pounding and getting it to almost pulp like form, add in the belacan granules bit by bit with the lime juice and salt in moderation. Continue pounding until all ingredients have been firmly incorporated together. This normally take up to 20 to 30 minutes depending on the coarseness of your mortar. 
  3. Spoon into sterilised bottles and keep refrigerated or frozen.
Many prefer the second version as you can really taste the chilli and belacan together. For sake of convenience and time, the first version is quicker. The taste is not much different from the pounded version.

What exactly is belacan some of you might ask? Here's some photos:

These are normally raw and not toasted as yet. When toasting, it'll release a rather foul-smelling fragrance / aroma (that of course us Malaysians find delectable but horrifying to gwailos) that can stink the house. So be sure to cover all holes leading outwards of the kitchen should you decide to toaste your belacan. I however use Maggi Belacan Granules (can't seem to find a picture for this) as it is already toasted and in granule form...again convenience and puts off the toasting part as well.

For variations should you want to use sambal belacan as a sauce, then blend / pound it with pre-soaked dried shrimp and shallots. 

(Dried Shrimp)

Following that, heat up a pan / wok with some vegetable oil and pour in the paste before adding your vegetables or meat.

Simple as 1, 2, 3... delicious as ever!

The promised lemon drizzle cupcakes coming up tonight!

The Innovative Baker

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