Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Strawberry Tart

Do you love strawberries?

I never did at first. i always thought that they are sour as I never got to eat the sweet ones before when I was young. But I was greatly influence by muy husband who likes anything strawberry. Strawberry cakes, strawberry milk and even cookies. I myself began to love strawberries.

And so I was at NTUC that day, our local supermarket and saw a pack of fresh strawberrys for only $3+. So I thought let's make a strawberry dessert. As I was a fan of tarts and pies, I made Strawberry Tarts. And I also had a leftover ripe mango to spare.

As I have already given the recipe for the pastry cream filling, here is just the sweet shortcrust pastry recipe for crust. Making the tart dough was so easy that I didn't feel the need to take pictures of the dough-making process.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry - by Rachel Allen

This basic pastry is used in many popular recipes, it's also one of the easiest pastries to start with. the uncooked dough can be frozen or be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

200 grams ( 7oz ) Plain flour , sifted
1 tablespoon of icing sugar
100 grams ( 31/2 oz ) chilled butter, cubed
1/2 or 1 medium egg, beaten

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly. Add half the beaten egg and continue to whiz. You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.
 If making by hand ( which I did ), rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse bread crumbs then, using your hans, add just enough egg to bring it together.

Again with your hands, flatten ut the ball of dough untilit is about 2cm ( 3/4 inches ) thick.

Then wrap in cling film or place it in a plastic bag and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or , if you are pushed for time, in the freezer for 10-15mins.

Many people incling myself was nervous at first making my own pastry but it isn't as tricky as you might think. It is just about following the right steps. Always try to measure the ingredients accurately and go easy on the liquid. Kepp everything as cool as you can. be sure to chill the pastry before baking to stop it becoming sticky or shrinking too much during cooking. 

Egg was used instead of water as the water will evaporate while baking and tends to make the pastry dry.

This is not a bread so never knead the dough or apply too much pressure on it. Be gentle.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and bake for 10 mins, bring them out from the oven and brush the leftover eggs in and bake for another 5 -8 mins till golden.

Here are how my tarts pastries look like.

I place another layer to prevent it from bubbling for the first 10 mins of baking.

and the Voila!

makes about 20 tarts..

Right after that easy peasy.. Cut your strawberries in cubes and spoon the pastry cream in the cooled tart and furnish it with your fresh fruits.

Serve immediately or you may chill it for 1 day.. 

The end results.

Do I think fruity?
yes i do..

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pastry Cream or we call it Custard

I was in search for the perfect custard. The creamy texture which was suitable for any kind of fillings; custard puffs, fruits custards or tarts.

And so I did my google-ing .  I came across 3 different recipes and it all failed. All the custards texture was either too hard or floury. I hated it and it went straight to my bin without hesitations.

And then came along Paris Pastry with the perfect pastry cream. It was the correct texture, creamy and so tasty. I was so happy to succeed the 4th time. As if I earned myself a Pastry Cream certificate.

Thanks to Paris Pastry. Here is the recipe.

 Pastry Cream recipe: makes 2 ½ cups, this can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.


2 cups whole milk ( I used Marigold full cream )
½ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped ( if you do not have this add 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence )
pinch of salt
 4 large egg yolks ( Refrigerate the whites and you can make meringes the next day or 2 )
 ¼ cup cornstarch
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla bean with seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, ½ cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth.

This was my after effect. I ended up licking the left overs.

And with all this I made fruit tarts which I will post in my later days.

Here is a sneak peek.

So have I found my perfect recipe?

yes i did..

Pizza Dough

I love Pizza.

I wished I was born in Naples and get to eat Pizza every day. And no, I would never get sick of it as I get to eat different toppings anytime I decide too. The most important thing to me though would be the dough. I like my dough to have that sweetness and saltiness altogether. Thick or thin, it's up to how I roll it right. And I can never avoid stuffed crust pizza. Oooohh.. Yummy-ness!

And so I was in search for the best pizza dough and I found this at BigOven. A pizza dough recipe which has been used by this family for the pass 30 years and I thought it was perfect.

Try it this weekend! It's easier than you think.

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

1 package of dry yeast (12g) - I could find this in a pack of 3 at Cold Storage only.
3 tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 1/10 table spoon sugar
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Add sugar and dry yeast to the cup of warm water. Let stand 10 minutes.

Add the butter, salt and flour. Stir well, turn out and knead until dough is smooth.

Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Punch down and allow to rise again.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness to fit pizza pan. Leave to rise again while you prepare the filling.

It's that easy.

This recipe yields 2 big pizzas while I was able to make 4 smalls ones and 1 stuffed string cheese crust pizza. The flexibility of a pizza is you can choose any type of base sauce and toppings that you want.

I personally would be very generous on the cheese and you can never get that when you dine out. Choose variations of cheese like my favourite 4 cheese pizza of Mozarella, Cheddar, Parmesan and Gruyere.

It's awesome!

I had a pizza party and everyone gets to design their own pizza. the guys especially was so excited. Their designs.

  This was how fat I stuffed my crust!

This recipe is definitely a keeper.

 yes i do..

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nutella Fudgy Mini Cupcakes

Have you ever feel like you have not much time but you have guest coming or even craving to have that chocolatey taste suddenly?

You just need to bake something fast,with the easiest ingredients in your kitchen and eat it while its hot. Your guest will definitely be impressed with the amount of time you have took to pull out this dessert.
I bought The best of Fine Cooking magazine and found this awesome recipe. With just 4 basic ingredients, any kid would know how to make this too. 

I love to bake this in the morning and bring it to office for breakfast. My colleagues loved it.

Again, it's hard to believe that just four ingredients bake up into these tasty bites.

Nutella Fudge Cupcakes
(Yields 12 brownies or 24 minis )

1/2 cup Nutella Spread
1 large egg
5 tbs. All purpose flour
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Positon a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the Nutella and egg until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffn tins ( about 3/4 full ) and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts. I use chocolate rice or chocolate chips for kids.

Bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11 to 12 mins. Set on a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for upto 3 days. 

Available in many supermarkets, Nutella is a brand of creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread whose flavor is similar to that of gianduia, the hazelnut-flavored chocolate from Peidmont region of Italy. Italian children enjoy Nutella spread on a slice of crusty bread. But it's also great when you need a chocolate filling in a pinch.

So am I in love with Nutella already?
yes i do..

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cream Scones

Sweet scones are one of my favourites especially for breakfast. And since I do have some left overs of frozen chantily cream left from the last eclairs, I decided to enjoy Cream Scones for breakfast today. It's a long weekend for me as it was Deepavali yesterday and while I'm just at home practicing with my whisk, why not treat breakfast to everyone before they start their day.

The perfect Cream Scone has a crisp exterior with an interior that is light and fluffy with a rich buttery flavor. Cream Scones are lovely with clotted / whipped cream and jam. In short - Divine.

Cream Scone Recipe (from Joyofbaking.com) :

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (75 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
  1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk or heavy cream (contains 35-40% butterfat) - I just use full cream UHT milk by Magnolia

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. If making by hand, rub the butter lightly into the flour.The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. 

In a small measuring cup combine the whipping cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix.

I added some dried cranberry and sliced almonds just for variations. You could have your own too.
Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18 cm) round. Then, using a 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Place the rounds on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing a few inches apart. 

Brush the tops of the scones with a little eggwash. This helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking.

Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve with  softly whipped cream and your favorite jam.

Makes about 10 - 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round scones.

 Love it with a dash of butter.

So do I think it's fool proof?

yes i do..

The Charm "Hi"

Welcome to Charm Bakes, my web journal all about my baking and cooking experiences.

How i was charmed..
Baking has always been my greatest joy. I have such fond memories when I was little waiting for the festive season to come so that my aunt allows me to mix the flour and get the first bite of her bakings. Its never fails to give me a sense of contentment. Even today, the wonderful, warm aromas of cakes and cookies always never fail to make my day.

My journey to the oven and back..
Having this passion for baking since young has not made me realise of such potential. I ignored this hobby for years and partied like any other young hearts. Even that it has never stop me from baking during the joyful seasons.

2 years ago, after my wedding, I took baking to the next level, trying out new recipes and techniques. Having a supportive husband who loves desserts has encourage me so much more.
Baking makes me stop and really enjoy my time in the kitchen even after my 9-5 job. Of course, there is a lot more to baking than just cakes and cookies, it's a versatile and very homely method of cooking. It's warm, comforting and nurturing, and fills the house with such welcoming smells.
Here I am after 2 year realising that I want to share this baking journey and learn along the way.

Culinary Skills..
I have ZERO culinary education except that I attended a one day 1-1 cupcake class, a one-day swiss roll class and others.So far I learn from any fellow bloggers i have stumble upon and recipes tried from all over the world - All thanks to the world wide web. Having limited finance, baking school was out of the question. I work my way through for a year, had a baby and still love baking!

Where are my recipes from..
Most of the recipes I'll be posting here were my first attempts. All these recipes have been analyse and  filtered out by me according to ingredients availability in my country. Many of them turn out quite well. I attribute this to following recipes that are easy and simple, using very basic ingredients, nothing too complicated that would confuse a novice baker. I also follow recipes as closely as possible, sticking to the ingredients called for and use the recommended pan size. Everytime I try something new, I will make sure my mind is very clear with the instructions given. Failure is however inevitable but I will try my best to warn you of any thumbs up or down.

But for the professional bakers out there, please do give me a guide.
Most of the recipes are from books I purchase online or in the book store. I'm also a magazine fan, so I have a lot of different issues of recipes.

I'm a very random person and ever since I broke my Canon, my pictures will be snapped either by my Olympus Digital camera or my Iphone. I don't know much about photography and so my photos are all point-and-shoot shots. Whenever I need to take photos of my food I simply set my camera to the Auto-mode, turn on the Macro function, turn off the flash lights and click away. I depend very much on natural lighting, so please bear with me if some of the photo images appear dull and grainy when the lighting conditions was not favourable.

Note to self and all:
There is no mystery to baking; baking is a simple science which is precisely why it is so satisfying. Your friends may think you are a genius if you present them with a beautiful cake, but it's really just the right ingredients in the right quatities ~ Rachel Allen