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Zoe’s Birthday – Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

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It’s Zoe’s birthday again! Ok, it was. I’m so thankful I got to celebrate one more year with Zoe and make her another cake. I am truly blessed to call her friend and roomie!

This year, Zoe’s birthday happened right in the middle of Olympics. To add to our Olympic fever, the men’s singles badminton final was scheduled on her birthday, which absolutely did nothing to distract us from the birthday girl. Not true. The final was a rematch of Beijing 2008 and Malaysia’s only hope for a gold medal was playing against China’s number one. Our waitress found it hilarious that we were sitting at the table hunched over our iPhones streaming the finals. Hey! If the birthday girl can do it, so can the rest of us! I wish Lee Chong Wei would have given Zoe added birthday cheer but alas, his valiant efforts came to naught once again. Maybe next time?

Once the game was over and we were done sighing, we brought out the cupcakes, sang to Zoe, and dug right in!

Recipe for the lemon poppy seed cupcake can be found here.

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Ham Chim Peng – Chinese Fried Bread with Five Spice Powder

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Ham Chim Peng is a very popular street food sold in Malaysia and Singapore. Along with other varieties of pastries, HCP is sold by hawkers or road side vendors. I’ve always preferred You Char Kway (chinese cruller) and Mah Kiok (butterfly buns) when I am home, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the five spice powder was not too overwhelming when I tried this.

Munching on the HCP brought back memories of home. Cue Ratatouille. Most of all, the HCPs were a hit with both my roomates and that makes me the happiest!

Ham Chim Peng
Adapted from here
 
60g water
70g sugar
5g dry yeast, activated in 100g water and 5g sugar
5g bicarbonate soda
7g salt
250g all purpose flour, low gluten
1 tbsp five spice powder
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Oil for deep-frying
 
Combine activated yeast with water, sugar, bicarbonate soda and salt. Lightly fold the flour in to get an evenly distributed dough. Lightly knead the dough. The flour will still be sticky/wet but don’t worry about the texture.
 
Sprinkle some flour on top of sticky dough and try to form it into a ball. Leave to rise for 30-60 minutes, covered.
 
Roll dough into a rectangle, about 1.5cm in thickness. Sprinkle the five spice powder on top, making sure it is well covered. Roll dough into a log and let stand for 10 minutes.
 
Using a dough scraper, cut dough into 2 cm pieces. Lightly shape each piece into a round disc and brush a bit of water on one side. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Sprinkle some flour on top of sesame seeds. Leave on for 30 minutes, uncovered.
 
Heat cooking oil in a deep wok. Flatten bread dough to 1 cm thickness and drop into medium hot oil. Do this one at a time. The dough will drop to the bottom of the wok. When it floats right back up, flip over. Continue flipping three or four more times to get even golden color. Remove from wok and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

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And the (Giveaway) Winner is…

The winner of Slimkicker’s challenge is Brianna, with her challenge:

“Some of my favorite workout challenges are the movie workouts. Lots of people have made movie drinking games into workouts, substituting drinks with exercises for famous lines or recurring events in movies and t.v. shows. Good ones keep you moving for over an hour almost non-stop.”

Congratulations Brianna! Thank you all for participating!

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A Cake for A Symphony

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My super amazing, super talented, super gorgeous, super wacky baby sister was in England to play in the Aldeburgh World Orchestra last month. Her month long tour took her to the gorgeous seaside town of Aldeburgh (where we visited her and contributed to the decline of lobster population), Germany (where we boosted the Euro and German dairy farmers), Amsterdam (I’m trusting she was being sensible there!), and last but not least, London, where she played in the BBC Proms.

I am SO proud of my sister for playing in the Proms, being able to do what she loves and getting the opportunity to travel and meet new people. The concert was a major success – they played beautifully and successfully kept me from falling asleep during Britten, Mahler and Stravinsky. =D

Before jetting back to Japan, my sister stayed over and requested that I make her cake. I couldn’t have been more honored to make cake for my sister! What ensued after that was pure madness. Needless to say, I had big ambitions to make a cake and cover it with a chocolate collar and write or pipe out chocolate notes around the collar. Obviously, I have never made a chocolate collar and fretted about making one. Do I pipe/write out notes on a greaseproof paper and then pour chocolate on it? Do I wrap the cake in the chocolate and then pipe on the notes? None of that mattered as my plans came crumbling down. I decided to be smart and made mini cakes but what I didn’t take into account was that small cakes do not have the weight and stability to hold down frosting. I ended up with three small cakes…and only one looked barely acceptable. When my sister opened the fridge, she went straight for the ugly one! Bless her!

I made madeleines as well and added mini chocolate chips in the batter. I’m so thankful that I got to make cake for my sister and spend some time with her. Next time there will be a cake piped with a full music score waiting for her!

Recipes for the chocolate cake and madeleines can be found here and here.

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Lemon Cupcakes – Plus a Giveaway!

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Ever since Amanda got me started on this whole healthy baking business, I’ve found myself gravitating towards lemons a lot. I really love a fresh lemonade, or a hot honey lemon drink when I’m under the weather, but to bake with lemon? This is actually new to me!

This cake is so healthy that if you want anything healthier, you would have to bite into the lemon itself. :p

Speaking of healthy, the very nice people over at SlimKicker are sponsoring a giveaway right here! They are giving away an Ozeri Touch Professional Digital Kitchen Scale to the lucky winner.

I’ve started many fitness regimes only to lose focus and give up soon after. SlimKicker is a program that keeps you focused and motivated in fun ways such as games and challenges. You rack up points by tracking healthy calories, and completing challenges such as quitting soda for a week. Upload a picture of a reward such as a cheat food, or iPod, and the program will remind you to reward yourself with that reward once you reach your target points. Slimkicker also has a calorie counter app as well. So handy!

**Update – The giveaway has ended. Thank you for participating!**

A few rules for entering the giveaway:
  1. Simply leave a comment with a suggestion of a fun, creative fitness or diet challenge in 1 or 2 sentences. A challenge can be something simple like “not eating processed meat for a week” to something more difficult like “exercise before watching tv”.
  2. The winner will be chosen by SlimKicker and I will announce the winner on my next post and by email.
  3. This giveaway will expire on 31 July 2012
  4. This giveaway is limited to those in USA due to shipping constraints. Sorry!!

Good luck!! Now, back to the lemon cake…

Lemon Cake
 
125g butter, softened
3 eggs
1¼ cups caster sugar
1½ cups self raising flour
½ cup milk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
 
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of a deep 20cm cake pan with greaseproof paper. If making cupcakes, line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
 
Cream butter, rind and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift flour over the egg mixture. Add juice and beat for a few seconds. Add milk and beat until well combined.Pour into prepared tin. Tap the tin on the worktop to settle the batter.
 
Bake in preheated oven for approximately 50-60 minutes until golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer. If making cupcakes, check that they are done after 15 minutes.
 
Stand cake for 5 minutes, then turn onto a cake plate or wire rack and cool completely.