I bake a lot of “Asian-inspired” cakes and bread at home, largely because these are the kind of confections I grew up eating from our local neighbourhood cake shops. Pandan Chiffon remains top on my list and I bake it ever so often for friends and neighbours. Then there are the “coconut” and “otak” buns, sweet dough breads filled with local flavours in both sweet and savory. And of course there is the good old banana cake, requiring few ingredients but so yummy and fragrant. I’d been using a banana cake recipe for over the last 3 years now and repeatedly use it whenever we have over ripened bananas at home which are beyond their prime to be eaten, or simply whenever I have a craving for banana cake. It remains on my “regular to bake” list as the cake is very soft and fluffy and everyone loves it. The results are so consistent and reproducible, given that one follows the recipe and observes the important details well. Otherwise, this banana cake recipe is definitely a keeper and I strongly encourage those who’d not tried it to have a go!
January and it is strawberry season. Specifically Korean and Japanese strawberries that is. This is practically the only time of the year that I eat strawberries. Apart from the erratic French gariguettes that come a couple of months later. IF they ever come that is. Fraises des bois and Mara des bois…I can only dream. Yes we do get strawberries on the supermarket shelves almost all year round. Call me picky but I don’t buy straws from Australia, New Zealand or the Americas, be it North or South. They just don’t dig as well as the Korean, Japanese or French fellas. Neither do I eat Driscoll’s
crappy strawberries. No offence guys but they just make you think that you are eating strawberries. So in reality and as snobbish I may sound, the “real” strawberry season is actually very short. For me at least. As seasonal as how these fruits had been in the past and should rightfully be so. Apart from buying and savoring them as it is, we often crack our heads to find ways to extend our days to enjoy them before the season closes. And what better way to lock in these flavours through making jams out of them, an age old method to “immortalise” the delicate sweetness the current season bequeaths upon us which alas, come so swiftly yet ends all too shortly.
Bakerzin launched four new tarts a couple of weeks ago but they most certainly beared resemblance to some of the familiar favorites we know. Utilising some Bakerzin dining vouchers we had, we’d got some for a sampling.
Valentine’s Day’s just round the corner and its a wonderfully tied in with the season of summer berries. I absolutely adore raspberries, both its rich colour and textures as well as its delicate tartness. While stocking up punnets of raspberries and blueberries which I could use throughout the off-season months, I remember chancing upon a recipe over Martha Steward’s website for “Heart-shaped Raspberry Napoleon” and I knew I have to make it for this month’s Aspiring Bakers’ theme “Love is in the Air” hosted by Ellena of Cuisine Paradise.
The recipe can be simple or difficult, depending on how much one decides to stretch oneself. I decided to go the hard way and give myself a challenge!