Le Cordon Bleu Paris – Day 21: Finals

I tried my best to concentrate on “studying” for the final practical exam. How do you actually study for a practical? We wouldn’t know the recipe until the day itself. But as I mentioned before, there are only a handful of recipes that could actually come out for the exam. We guessed a gâteau, because that would require the most technique and finesse. I narrowed it down to the following recipes: Moka, Fraisier, Paris-Brest, DacquoiseCharlotte and Alhambra. I had a sneaky suspicion that the Moka would be the recipe, because firstly, we had to make a genoise, which is the most basic of sponges. If under-beaten, the genoise would not rise enough to make three layers for the cake. The texture and crumb is also very important and telling of the technique used. Secondly, the buttercream. This was the component that most of the students had a problem with. Once again, if under-beaten, you simply would not get enough volume to allow you to fill and frost your cake. Lastly, the presentation. The Moka requires a steady hand for piping the borders and patterns.

Part two of the exam is the technical one which requires us to line a tart ring with pâte sucrée. I wasn’t so confident with this because I’d only managed to crimp decently just once in over ten attempts.

Needless to say, the Moka was the exam recipe! We all joked that the Fraisier wasn’t the recipe because it was too expensive of a recipe for the school to afford again.

I was pretty confident with the Moka. I set about with my genoise, which turned out beautifully tall and aerated. Next, the coffee syrup for soaking, the caramelised almonds, and finally, the buttercream. I made sure to whip the hell out of it so that I would have sufficient for my cake. I think some people did run out of buttercream and had to use chef’s prepared one.

While waiting for my cake to cool, I started on my pâte sucrée. I chilled it and started assembling my cake.

This was when I made my first big mistake. I did not line my cake ring with the acetate, so I couldn’t remove the ring after blast freezing it! I had to ask for the chef’s permission to use the blowtorch to warm the sides. Even then, it stubbornly refused to budge and chef had to help me with it. The heat melted some of my patterned markings on the cake which I had made with the serrated knife, but thankfully only on the sides, which meant I was able to hide them with my shell border.

By this time, some of my classmates had already finished both their cake and their tart shell, which made me panic. But I reminded myself again that it wasn’t a race, and I had 3 hours allocated. I had about an hour left to decorate and line my tart shell.

After I had completed my cake, I got my pastry dough out of the fridge to start lining the tart ring. It was probably my fault (and also the air conditioner’s) so mistake number two – I over-handled my dough. It became way too soft. There was a big complaint about the kitchen being the hottest it had ever been on the day it mattered the most. I had to return my dough into the fridge for about another 5 minutes to chill again. I made a second decent attempt at it, and though not completely satisfied, I gave up. The thickness of the dough was not completely even, so some of the crimps looked nice whereas others looked pretty crappy. However, I knew that trying to redo it wouldn’t work because the dough was already starting to crack. I finished crimping the edges and then raised my hand to inform the chef that I was done with the exam.

And that was it. I walked out of the kitchen like a boss knowing I had done my best, and with no regrets. I had worked hard over the past month. I lived, breathed (and ate) pastry EVERYDAY. I was glad it was over. That feeling of accomplishment – priceless.

IMG_1626.JPGphoto credits to Nadia Shurygina

Le Cordon Bleu Paris – Day 21: Finals

Paula Deen’s Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are a perpetual craving of mine. There’s just something about the sweet smell of cinnamon. Of course, there are many uses for this spice, from blood sugar control to digestive aid. However, I’m sure most would agree that its marriage with sugar, all rolled up in a yeasty dough, is its greatest gift to humanity.

This was my very first attempt at baking yeast bread, so there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. I loved watching the dough rise; there was just so much joy in the anticipation!

I used Paula Deen’s recipe for these wonderful cinnamon rolls. Recipe can be found here. Thank you, Paula Deen!

I cut the recipe in half because lousy planning = insufficient flour and butter.






Give baking bread a try. It ain’t as tough as it seems! 🙂

Paula Deen’s Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe: Banana Brownie Muffins

Last night, as I attempted to make my first ever overnight oats in a jar, I peeled the skin off the overripe banana, only to find that it was way too brown and mushy to be palatable. The perfect reason for baking with bananas.Image

Plain ol’ banana muffins are great for any occasion, but chocolate + banana? Heaven! It’s one of the yummiest flavour combinations, just like peanut butter and chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, maple syrup and bacon… Have you tried a Nutella + peanut butter + banana grilled sandwich before? It used to be my treat back when I didn’t give a hoot about my weight!

 I made a chocolate banana brownie years ago, and I got lots of praise for it when I brought it to the office. This time, I thought a chocolate banana brownie muffin would be perfect!

Banana Brownie Muffins

Adapted from: Food Equals Happy Me


180g salted butter (unsalted is fine)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

2 overripe bananas, mashed

1 1/3 cup plain flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Firstly, add butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until creamy and no more lumps of butter remain.

ImageNext, add eggs one at a time, and continue beating after each addition. Once the mixture is smooth, add the mashed bananas. ImageFold the banana into the batter until well combined.ImageThen add sifted flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold until well combined.ImageSpoon the batter into cupcake holders, or simply use a baking pan that you’d use for a brownie. Pop into preheated  oven.ImageImageRemove muffins/brownies from the oven, about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins come out clean. Alternatively, if you want them fudgier, 15 minutes might do the trick!

IMG_2611_1ImageLook at how moist these muffins are! The bananas make them really moist.ImageImageImageImageA really easy, one bowl recipe that’s quick to whip up. Sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings! I’m really satisfied with this recipe 🙂

ImageThe disaster that happened when folding in the cocoa powder.

P.S. Remember to lick the bowl clean. It’s one of the yummiest batters I’ve ever tasted.

Recipe: Banana Brownie Muffins

Recipe: Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies

I was invited for a potluck yesterday and was deciding what to bring. I’d already decided on baked chicken, and I almost made cornbread muffins to go, thinking I could go all Kenny Rogers-style. To my horror, I found insects in my cornmeal! So I decided to make dessert instead. And to be safe, something chocolatey. You can’t go wrong with chocolate.

I have been using Martha Stewart’s brownie recipe for a long time and decided to try something new instead. I chanced upon Alice Medrich’s brownie recipe a while back and it has been on my to-bake list. Here’s my own adaptation of the recipe:

Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies



10 tablespoons salted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/4 chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

In a large glass or metal bowl, combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder.ImagePlace the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until butter melts and combines with the sugar and cocoa.ImageHere’s when I panicked. Usually, when I make brownies, the mixture is ganache-like, but this time it was a paste! I tasted the paste and it was grainy because the sugar crystals did not melt. But it tasted soooo good! So don’t panic! When it looks like this, remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool until warm to touch.ImageNext, stir in the vanilla extract, followed by the eggs. You don’t want the eggs to cook so stir quickly with a whisk or a wooden spatula. After the addition of the eggs, the mixture should look shiny, like a ganache frosting.ImageWhen well combined, add the sifted flour and mix until no streaks of flour remain. Here’s the interesting bit: the instructions ask to beat the batter for 40 strokes.

I added the chocolate chips and chopped nuts as an afterthought and stirred until just combined. ImageSpread the batter evenly in a prepared baking pan. The batter was thick and hard to spread, but be patient. A spatula should do the job. I used a 8″ x 8″ baking pan and I didn’t oil/flour-dust or use any parchment paper or baking foil because I forgot. But please do. It’s much easier to remove and to slice afterwards. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Alternatively, if you like your brownies fudgier or a little under-cooked, 18 minutes should be good.

The result: A perfectly crackly top brownie.ImageImageAs you can see, I used a fork to remove the brownies out of the pan, making sure not to scratch my baking pan. So please, use parchment paper or foil. The sides are especially pesky because they tend to be more harder and stick to the pan.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageDense. Fudgy. Nutty. Moist. Chocolatey. I’m sold. If you’re a chocolate lover, then this is the recipe for you. Reminiscent of my Tunnel of Fudge Cake, it’s like the fudge centre of the cake (the best part)!

Best eaten warm, we heated the brownies up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and had them with ice cream from Island Creamery. Sinful, but totally worth it!

Recipe: Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Recipe: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

The infamous Tunnel of Fudge Cake is a family favourite. My mum loves this cake so much so that she declared it her favourite cake. Although I must prefer my mum’s carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – which as of today, I have never found one that beats hers – I’d say that this is my second favourite cake!

Best eaten fresh out of the oven, or warmed, with a dollop of ice cream. This cake is sheer heaven for chocolate lovers like me!




The recipe is from Pillsbury. You can get it here: http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/tunnel-of-fudge-cake/8d3b4927-2f71-41a3-9dab-7750f045f252

The only difference is that we make an almond glaze as well.

I topped my warm slice of cake with Häagen-Dazs Macadamia Nut ice cream, but I think this cake would go great with coffee, vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel… Ok, who are we kidding. It probably goes well with everything.

Two words. Molten goodness.


Recipe: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I think I just found the perfect banana bread recipe. I’ve baked banana bread many times before, but I’ve never been satisfied with them. This is my criteria for the perfect banana bread:

1) Taste

2) Moist

3) Able to see the oh-so elusive brown flecks of banana

4) Not too dense

This recipe pretty much satisfies all of my must-haves. I had 2 right away. I don’t think I need dinner anymore!

I initially planned to bake banana blueberry muffins but I realised that I only had a measly handful of blueberries left after breakfast. So I threw in some chocolate chips that I had in the fridge at the very last minute. Without further ado, here’s the recipe for my chocolate chip banana muffins.


1 2/3 all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)

3 ripe bananas

2 tbsp Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Start by sifting flour, baking soda and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Add salt.


In a separate bowl, add sugar and eggs and whisky until light and smooth. The colour of the mixture should be a pale yellow.Image


Mash bananas with a potato masher or a fork. The mash goes into the wet mixture, together with the yogurt, oil and vanilla extract. I used Greek style natural yogurt.ImageImageImageImageImage

Stir wet mixture until combined. Fold in wet mixture with the dry ingredients.


Finally, fold in chocolate chips.


Fill cupcake liner to 3/4 full. I usually fill a little more if baking muffins because I like my muffins big and beautiful 😀

Now here’s the problem, I didn’t time how long it took to bake them. Keep an eye on them. I’d say about 15 minutes or so would be about right. They should be golden brown. You smell them first, so once you do, be ready in a few minutes to get them out.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageI hope you love these muffins as much as I do. Feel free to bake a loaf instead of muffins. I’m planning to give them out, so it’s much easier to do with muffins, and a whole lot less messy too.

Till next time! Ciao.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Orange-cranberry scones… And a new camera!

Seems like a school cafe may be happening in the new future. I’m really excited! Can’t wait to develop the menu and get creative. I know it’s hard for the more health-conscious students in SMU to find nutritious, clean meals, so we will definitely incorporate that into the menu. But of course, THERE WILL BE DESSERT. My favourite.

Had some time on my hands, so I decided to try out something new. I have never made scones before, so here’s my maiden attempt. All photos taken on my spanking new Canon EOS 700D!

Orange Cranberry Scones – Makes 6


1 cup self-raising flour (or do as I did: 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/4 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp salt), plus more for dusting

50g butter, cold (I used salted)

1 tbsp white sugar or caster sugar

1 tsp orange zest

Dried/fresh cranberries or any other berries

1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

1/8 cup fresh milk

Jam, clotted cream, kaya, Nutella, or anything you wish, to serve

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Start by sifting flour – baking powder and salt if making your own self-raising flour, into a bowl. Cut chilled butter into cubes and rub in with fingers until the resulting mixture looks like fine crumbs.



 Add sugar and orange zest and combine. I only decided to make these with cranberries at the last minute. You should probably add the cranberries in now!


Make a well in the middle of the combined mixture, and add in the orange juice and milk. Use a spoon to combine, until you get a dough. My dough was too sticky, so keep some additional flour nearby and add until you get the right texture.




Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. My tip here is to flour your hands before kneading, just in case the dough is too sticky and sticks to your hands too. What a mess!


With a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 2cm thick and use a cookie cutter or, like me, a glass, to shape the scones. Image

In the oven they go! (If you want shiny tops, use an egg wash!)

Bake for 20 minutes, or until scones are golden on top.ImageImage

ImageImageImageImageI made my scones mini, but feel free to cut them bigger or thicker. Not the most kick ass scones in the world, but I like the texture of it. Not too cakey, a little dry and more like a biscuit with its crusty exterior. I ate mine with bitter marmalade, but my mum always insists on clotted cream with jam. An easy-peasy recipe. Go ahead, give it a go!

Orange-cranberry scones… And a new camera!