Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Kids steam cakeII

I simply love the pastel shades of this little cakes. They are really sweet. This recipe is adapted from the recipe "Sweet Potato Buns" in the book "Cooking for Kids", by Seashore Publishing.


1/2      tablespoon salt
1         egg
100g   cake flour
3         tablespoon fresh milk
1/2      tablespoon double action baking powder
100g   superfine castor sugar


1. Add cake flour and double action baking powder and mix together and sift.
2. Beat the egg with a whisk, and add milk, salt and sugar until combined.
3. Add flour to the egg mixture until combined.
4. Spoon into cups and add a little colouring if desired.

I love the gentle well-rounded curve the cupcake tops are. I have used double action baking powder instead of the normal baking powder stated in the original recipe. I have adapted it to make it rise faster and better.

This was my little girl's idea of adding colouring. It apparently amused her very much as I know how much she enjoys her art lessons. This is yet another opportunity for her to play with colour.

There are many types of food colours available in the market. I have a collection of these simply because my girl likes colours in her cakes very much. They come in liquid or gel form. A small toothpick can be used to pick up a small amount of colouring. I would say that gel form comes in many precise shades and are slightly easier to control the amount of colouring and result you see in your final product. My girl had fun adding a different colour to each cupcake. A little goes a long way and its much easier to add a bit more of the colouring then try to remove it when its too dark!

I happen to have both baking powder and double action baking powder. The difference between the two, is that double action baking powder has twice the rising effect then the double action baking powder.

Having different sizes of muffin cups presents a happy problem to think over. For this recipe, the bigger soufflé size yielded only 2 muffins, while the smaller cupcake size yielded 5 cupcakes. I managed to get a nice rounded cupcake by filling up to 80% of the cupcake. Using the smaller cupcakes papers as they tend to cook faster in the steamer and there is less likely to be uncooked bits at the bottom. The soufflé cups that I tried to make the other time just simply opened up in the steamer and looked very out of shape. 

At first, the word "cake flour" seemed quite innocuous. However having picked up different type of flour than the one in the recipe, I have since developed an awareness to the different types of flour and what types of baked goods are can be made from them. 

Then there is yet another type of flour called the "cake mix". Using a cake mix, we can get a cake with finer texture.

This is another example of premix, which will get a very fine texture cake.

Let me know if you enjoy the cupcakes! Will do some frosting on it next time, maybe in the form of a cute animal!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Rainbow treats

This is an original idea that I have just dreamed up of.

My kids simply love the idea of decorating these with the colourful rainbow rice.

I love the idea of making these. The sweetness of the coconut sugar was a surprise ingredient.

Glutinous rice flour
Mashed baby yam
Coconut sugar
Rainbow rice

The ingredient list is very simple. The kids found the technique of making the dough interesting. Lots of action like mashing of yam, rolling the dough. Rather like the previous post on Tang Yuan for kids.

The decorating work reminded me of Bakerella Cake Pops, which is very interesting to make for kids, which I will be making soon. The younger kids love sprinkling rainbow rice.

Let me know if you enjoyed these as much as I did!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Kids Fondue

A welcome home treat for happy kids. Just melt chocolate and cut the fruits and we are ready to serve.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Chinese Steam cakes for kids II

This is a very similar steam cake, the only difference is the recipe:

Palm Sugar            125g
Self-raising flour   200g
Milk                      150g
Water                      50ml

My child love the process of chopping up palm sugar, which came in a small cylindrical block.
What I have decided to do, was to do a fine chop, add the water and melt it slowly. The amount
of water was right and the texture of the batter came out OK.

As shown, the blossom worked for some of the cakes, only two of them were well rounded, not a hint of any smile, they are green and red. Due to the amount of milk used, it was quite heavy and moist, not the typical of what my girl likes!

This recipe, using the self-raising flour, the blossoming effect was more pronounced, however, the
cake was heavier. No action like drawing an X was used.

My child is a little like me, love to play with unusual new types of ingredients, but finicky with food
and won't eat anything she doesn't fancy. I realized that baking together really gives us something to
make and bond over, usually me agreeing to her riot of colors and her photography ideas. Well, as a team we must get used to listening and accepting inputs that we do not necessarily agree to. Accepting other view points is part of getting along and understanding each other.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Chinese Steam cakes for Kids


Water                   300ml
Brown Sugar       150g
Rice flour             250g
Eno fruits Salts    2 tbsp

The children simply enjoyed spooning the batter into their assorted cupcake cases. They love to paint the batter into bright rainbow hues. Like making a magic potion, adding a small tea spoon of Eno salts into each cupcake, the bubbling starts to act. Put these into the steam, and in 15-20 minutes, its done!

The blooming like a flower effect is dependent on a number of factors:
  • The amount of Eno added
  • The height/width ratio of the cupcake, the higher, the better
This has been an interesting series of experiments for me.

I have been reading about a couple of theories regarding how to make this particular cake smile. For the Chinese, its called Fa Gao or Huat Kueh. It must blossom up like a flower to get the meaning of prosperity. However a cake that does not blossom, is edible too! Apparently there are so many versions of it, some are made with Pandan leaves extract, which can be very natural green colour. The Malays love to make this cake too, however they are not too concerned with the blooming effect.

There are some theories on how to make it bloom:
  • amount of raising agent
  • height of container must be taller than the width
  • cutting action of a knife aids the blooming
  • amount of batter must be filled to the brim of the container 
To conduct this experiment, we are using the same batter. We are varying the type of containers used, using three types of containers: aluminium cups, 2 different sizes of paper cups. We are using varying amounts of batter and varying amounts of  raising agent. No cutting action was used in this experiment.

Observation of the experiments leads to the following discoveries:
The container shape, cutting action is not a critical factor for blooming.
The blooming will still happen even if the batter did not reach the brim of the container.

The factors affecting the blooming are more likely to be:
the amount of raising agent used and the pressure on the batter.
The green cake has an unusual shape on the smile, as the cake is squashed between other cakes.
When the cake raises to the top of the container, when there is uniform pressure on the cake, it blooms beautifully like the yellow cake and the orange one next to it.

We have to get the proportion of raising and timing of putting the raising agent right. if the duration of starting to steam the cake after putting the raising agent too long, the cake might be dense as the bubbling action is over before the cake is steamed. This results in a flat cake. To get a rounded cake, the raising agent must be doing its work while in the steamer.

Good luck to anyone trying to make this cake. Leave me some comments and pictures if yours turned out well!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Flower bouquet

This is an original creation that looks more like a something you will find on top of a fruit cake. These are typical of the fruits that my kids love.

Three Little Friends

I have been reading a lot about food art mainly from this wonderful site by Samantha Lee http://instagram.com/leesamantha# I liked it for its simple materials that could be found in the fridge.

I am so inspired by the artwork and the amount of details that goes into these little creations.
What I have done here is to cut out the outlines of the animals using a cutter and filled in the eyes with chocolate and mouth with red icing.

Piggy in the Sun

My children love a little artwork, it keeps their creativity juices flowing and motivates them up eat up their cute ideas. For this activity we used the following ingredients:

Orange, strawberries, blueberries, cheese, cherry tomatoes, pancake, sliced cheese red icing.

My daughter has some great ideas how to add a little detailing like put little pig nostrils using red icing, sticking the blue berries on using a little icing.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Do you know the Muffin Man

This is what Ying Yue come up with when I left her alone with some melted chocolate, pink icing, blueberries, and premix muffins.

The light brown chocolate comes from mixing dark chocolate with white chocolate.
I have never made white chocolate curls, she learnt it from youtube.

What great ideas kids can learn from watching youtube!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Fruity Oatmeal

We were given  a packet of oatmeal by grandmother. Ying Yue was so enthusiastic about having some oatmeal that we decided to try making it. There is an art in making oatmeal. Not well cooked, it is very hard and tasteless. Watery oatmeal is also not very appetizing. After some experimentation, we have come up with something that we like very much.


Bring the oatmeal to a boil. Ying Yue had fun stirring it with a whisk, which helps in the cooking process. This process reminds me of breaking rice grains for Cantonese style porridge. This helps to create a thick creamy texture. The thickness of the oatmeal is also dependent on the amount of water added. I never enjoyed my oatmeal breakfast as a child and wonder why she wanted to make this particular dish. While we were busy with this mother and child bonding session, she mentioned that she had this for breakfast in the childcare. I suppose adding some sugar helps to make it more palatable.

Ying Yue came up with something that really reminded me of the little Chang Jing in the very popular Korean drama series. As we were thinking about how to add some fruits, I was thinking her favorite strawberries which was not available at the moment. We found some raisins, orange and blackberries. She came up with different combinations of the fruits for each member of the family.

For Me Chen with extra raisins
For Ying Yue with orange segments

For Daddy with extra blackberries
For Mummy with orange segments

This breakfast worked out for Ying Yue as she loves hands on activities. Ying Yue loves setting up the table for each family, getting everyone spoons. She enjoys partaking in any food she has thoughtfully made and gets to understand why I tell her that making a meal is creating a gift for someone. Sometimes we wonder why the kids didn't like or are lukewarm about the meal we have prepared. However if she has taken part in the making of it, she was so eager having every bit of the food.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Princess Cake

Ying Yue loves to be on the YouTube searching for baking videos. In school we just learn about filling up worksheets, which is just training us for exam smartness.

Learning to cook and bake is like learning to read. Start with the letters first, string them together to form words.

We learn to measure, read recipes, smell taste and learn lot about using the oven, egg beater. Ideas work best if it comes from kids. There is a grain of truth about intrinsic motivation. Ying Yue is always excited by her own ideas.

I brought her to Tangs to get some quality bakeware. There were lots of interesting new things there, but she set her heart on this pretty doll from Wilton.

That's what you get from the box and the picture shows the cake mould. We were so excited about it.

Since Yin Yue wanted a strawberry cake, we found this mix at NTUC finest.


We need more work on the icing, or fondant will try this again! She learnt a lot about beating the eggs, sifting flour, adding water. Concept about how long it would take for this cake to be made, 1 hour. Then she worked on inverting the mould, lifting the cake out of the mould.

So excited about her progress. There was plenty of interaction and she learn best with hands on activity. This is an important life skill I am imparting to her. I also learnt so much from this little cook school for kids. When I think of interesting recipe to try, I'm also learning with her.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ducky Hotcake

"I want another ducky pancake!" "A teddy bear pancake!" "Quack! Quack!"
Remember the Korean series "Da Chang Jin"? Chang Jin brought water everyday to her mentor, and she doesn't know why her mentor doesn't want the water? She keep on trying different types of water, like spring water, warm water, cold water but that doesn't seem to work? One day, she finally got the idea that her mentor had a sore throat and she figured out what type of water should be given to the mentor. Again its the concern and how she made the mentor feel that actually works. The cooking competition was not just a display of skill, but rather why the judge would like the food.
Food are gifts to my children. Novelty works for kids. Listening to their feedback and tweaking and tailoring their preferences really work.
After being baffled my children not taking well to eggs, or vomiting out the food. I found that oil that we adults fry our eggs with are not really work for little toddlers. I had the idea that butter makes everything taste better. This myth is debunked by my kids who request no butter taste.
Little gourmet food appeal to kids, when it is well presented and tailored to their palate and taste. Just like chefs who need to test the market and respond to the market, we need to be nimble, open to communication.
Its the authentic Japanese taste that appeals to kids.
I remember breakfast parties in the hostel for housemates where we made French crepes, we came dressed in pajamas. A pajamas party! I honed my cooking skills and love for entertaining at home from the friends I made. No prizes for guessing that the house parties are opportunities for showcasing our unique culture. Imagine I progressed from making instant noodles everyday for myself to hosting house parties. The Japanese demonstrating how to make the Fried Ebi that we eat in Japanese restaurants. French making chocolate mousse, country style apple pie. Singaporean making Fried Kway Tiao with spaghetti. Chinese from Taiwan and China making Jiao Zhi. Wow, the competition can be stiff. I was once sent out of the kitchen because I cannot compete with the Taiwanese and Chinese. No worries, I learnt with other housemates and started to contribute. I cannot forget the friends who taught me stuffed pepper with rice, Kazakhstan style. Each friend brought out the best in me. I progressed to reading recipe, sourcing unique ingredients. Till this day, my husband has no idea why I must spend 2 hours in the kitchen when boiling everything together is acceptable to him. 
 Another idea for the next post.
Japanese pancake mix. This is the top Japanese brand only available at Isetan.
Add eggs and water/milk.
Each pack comes in 4 packets, which can make  about 6 hotcakes, just nice for 2 kids.
Good non-stick pan
Silicon Duck Shaped tool
 I love Japanese instructions, I'm sure they have kidsin mind when they made the instructions. This is uniquely Japanese culture. The point of using a mix, is that they have tested the recipe well, and if the instructions are followed exactly, the fluffy hotcake, is achievable.
Still not OK and need more help? How about a video from Morinago site, in Japanese if course, but the video really shows how easy it is to make it.
Love the demo by this sweet Japanese girl, English speaking to have a better idea of what to do.
Ying Yue, love video demonstrations, her love for baking comes from youtube. I have requests for baking sessions for what she saw from youtube. Another idea for  the next post.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Little Duck Sunny Side Up

A bright and cheery way for kids to wake up to a breakfast surprise! Children love novelty. Just by changing the shape of an egg into a little ducky, like the rubber ducky they play with, we can transform a plain egg to something with an interesting story.



Silicon duck outline
Non stick frying pan

Also a little hands on activity is something that will make the kids eager to get out of bed.

Ying Yue is a budding little chef always game for some hands on activity. Nutella bread with some fruit topping, is an age appropriate activity.

With just one sample creation, the imagination of a grouchy child will to be ignited, the child will jump out of bed,  get changed and start the day making a nutritious breakfast for herself! Something to entice children to eat a healthy breakfast, with vitamin C and B, fibre, protein and carbohydrates to kick start your day!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Sweet Potato Tang Yuan

Glutinous Rice Flour
Pandan Leaves
Sweet Potatoes
Red Bean Paste

My daughter loves making these lovely natural food. There is something about enjoying and eating something you've made for yourself that is very rewarding. The old adage about enjoying the fruits of your labor is very true for kids.

At Dong Zhi, a Chinese Festival, my mother used to get glutinous rice flour from the market and all the children will enjoy the process of rolling your own dough and boiling them. Its a fun activity and we used to make special shapes and we can identify the ones we made. There are many ways of making Tang Yuen, the supermarket sells ready made ones. But nothing beats the yummy texture of handmade Tang Yuan, and the satisfaction of mastering new techniques, new ideas.

I have found that my kids absolutely love colors. To dye the glutinous rice flour, the easy way out is to use food coloring, which are available in supermarkets. However, after watching the very popular drama series in Singapore, called Little Nyonya, I became interested in Nyonya food. The traditional  Nyonyas do not use dyes in their kuehs, they extract natural colors from vegetables or flowers.

So to make this brilliantly colored Tang Yuan, we used purple and orange sweet potatoes. The best sweet potatoes come from Japan, Okinawa. The color is absolutely bright and nothing beats the soft velvety texture of these beauties. Bake this by itself and try it! Its natural sweetness and goodness simply speaks for itself!

After steaming it, skin on, simply mash it up with a fork and add glutinous rice flour like so:

After that we used ready made red bean paste and roll them into round balls.
Wrapping the red bean with the sweet potato dough is an art itself. My daughter and I laugh at ourselves for creating bigger and bigger ones, just to cover the red bean without the skin breaking. Experimentation with the texture of the dough is an interesting process. My daughter has a feel of the dough. And now she advises me whether the dough is too soft or needs more glutinous rice flour.
A variation of it is to use the mashed up natural sweet potato as a substitute for the red bean paste.
Using Pandan leaves to boil the syrup with the Tang Yuan is the last step. Although Pandan essence can be found easily in many supermarkets, nothing beats the real thing. Once the little colorful balls are floating, they are cooked. The fragrance of the Pandan leaves is the secret to the making of many desserts.
My daughter ate as many as 15 of those she made. Usually she is not a big eater. It goes to show that for picker eaters, participation in making of the food itself is a good tactic for whetting children's appetites!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

TeddyBear Pancakes



Teddy Bear Pancakes are fun to make! The kids love the cuddly little bears there are so many ideas on how to make cute food that kids would be amused to eat. Have you been to Disneyland and try out the Mickey Mouse shaped food? See this website for an example.


Aren't we all so excited to see this pretty and interesting food? I have tried to make a Mickey Mouse pancake without any special tools, just by creating 3 circles of pancake joined together. Now that's really difficult to achieve and repeat.

Here's the fun and yet easy stuff that my six year old love to make!

I love using the premixes as the children get to read the instructions, measure out what they need and it comes out just right. Also this is easily available in Cold Storage. Kids get to follow instructions and understand words written in the instructions. The kids learn to judge when the pancakes are done and OK to flip to the other side to brown it. Also it gives them some sense of independence that they can judge how thick they want the batter to be.



Here's the secret to make the teddy bears. Very good silicon Teddy Bear shaped outlines. The creativity of the designers of the kitchen tools really makes the this an easy task that a 6 year old can manage.

Some fun memories for kids to think of fondly when they grow up, of the happy days they bonded as a family. I remember how patient my mother was and how fun it was to make Tang Yuen when we were kids. Another idea for the next post!