Spreading the love for baking

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Do you remember the first time you fell in love? That fleeting moment when your heart sings, while your mind tells you that this is the best thing ever. And that this love that feels quite like magic, will last and you will live happily ever after.

The euphoria that ensues. That high that lifts you up. That certainly makes every moment so special. You know when you’ve fallen in love when it is all you can think about and you plan your future with him/her in your head and not having him/her in your life will make life as dull and sad as an empty Nutella jar in the fridge.

I’ve fallen in love only a few times in my life and the most rewarding love that I’ve invested in is one that feeds my soul. This love keeps me going when I feel down and out.

This love is ‘baking’. I do not exaggerate when I proclaim that falling in love with baking is the best thing to ever happen to me. In times of distress, anger, sadness, I turn to baking and the process uplifts me (I’m tempted to compare it to Valium but I’ve never had it so I am not able to make an accurate comparison!) and by the time my cake/cookie/pie/tart/(insert other yummy baked good) turns golden brown and emits the most glorious of smells, my mood is elevated. My frown turns to a smile, quite literally.

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*Photo by Lessonsgowhere

I started baking prolifically in 2005 when I started this blog on 12 April that year. My first post began with a quote from Anthony Bourdain, my foodie idol (i love him and hope to meet and dine with him one day!). He said that “at the end of the day, it’s all about what’s on the plate”. To me, however hard the day might have been, if I had a good meal, I know I will be fine and dandy. That also got me thinking about what was on my plate. Do I want to be always eating out and limiting myself to what’s served out there? Definitely not.

I wanted my own culinary experiences. I wanted to evoke emotions through food, made by me. From that moment, my main goal was to share this joy I feel when baking, in the best way I can – by encouraging others to bake (or cook), to feed others with my creations so they too can be inspired.

Today I stand before you, ecstatic to announce a new project of mine – teaching. Yes, I am no professional baker. I do not claim to be the best there is. Amateur at best, I am always learning. But a few months back, Lessonsgowhere, an online portal that fashions itself as a lesson market place of sorts for individuals to pursue new hobbies/skills (painting, yoga, acting, baking etc) approached me and mooted the idea of me teaching my signature bakes to others.

My first thought was, hell no. Who am I to teach when I am still learning. With no culinary/pastry school credentials, who would come to my class?

Then I stopped to think. I realised that I should give myself some credit. Some of these recipes that I would be teaching, I can bake with my eyes closed. As a home baker, my ‘training’ is self-taught, through trial and error. Isn’t that how we all learn? From mistakes? I’ve baked (and cooked) for fun these past 9 years. I’ve even sold my own bakes! So why can’t I use what I have learnt and simply SHARE.

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*Photo by Lessonsgowhere

So you know where this is going. I said yes, Lessonsgowhere said great. I picked two of my favourite recipes: Crostata di mele (apple tart) & Choc Chunk Cookies. My two best sellers (and hot favourites among family and friends). A date was picked (15 June, Sunday, 2 to 4pm) and the venue selected. Now I need 10 people to sign up.

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These photos here were taken at the test bake. Within 1.5 hours, I prepared my rustic Crostata di mele. The place smelled like Saturday brunch, soon after. Cinnamon honey apple – someone should bottle that scent. I would buy it!

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In this class, I will cover basic lattice work (like what you see above), short crust pastry, delicious apple filling and of course, how to make the awesomest chocolate chunk cookies.

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Many of you (those who have stuck with me, reading this little blog) have asked me questions about baking, and some, about these recipes. I invite you to come join me at this cosy space (#05-169, SOHO2@Central, Clarke Quay) and allow me to share some baking joy with you. There is no age limit! And I promise, I really don’t bite.

More than anything else, what I want from this class is to meet you. You who have supported me in some way by leaving a comment, or sharing this humble blog with your friends or even bought my bakes some time ago. It is you that keeps me going. Whoever you are, come sign up and have a relaxing Sunday with me. I promise you will have a lovely time.

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*Photo by Lessonsgowhere

Sign up for the class at Lessonsgowhere HERE.
Here are the details:
15 June, Sunday, 2 to 4pm @ #05-169, SOHO2@Central, Clarke Quay, Singapore 059819

Do sign up by 11 June, Wednesday.
FYI – if there are less than 5 sign-ups on 11 June, the class will be canceled (I hope I won’t have to do that though!) so help spread the word my lovelies 🙂

Love,
Cheryl

Posted on 6th Jun 2014 in apple, apples, pies, tart  |  7 comments

Tangy, Crusty, Smokin’ Gems of the Nonya Kind

Array of Pineapple Tarts - Baked

So my darling brother has hopped onto the baking bandwagon and boy am I ever so happy. You know the why 🙂

Tall, strapping, with more muscle than flab, he is not your typical baker, in all sense of the word. Not only is he super stringent but very dedicated when it comes to baking. Last Christmas, he baked hundreds of gingerbread men while experimenting various recipes & ingredients. When a stroke of genius strikes him, I’ll get a call, with interesting questions like “should I put tabasco in my gingerbread men”, or “should I put curry powder to get a zing in my cookies? or black pepper?”

His recent endeavour makes me very happy. Only because it concerns Nonya pineapple tarts. He toyed with the idea of baking them in January so we could have some for Chinese New Year. Since then, he has been baking them at least twice a week.

I have no complaints.  My brother is still tweaking and perfecting his recipe so I won’t be able to share with you just as yet. But what I will do, is to share my insights and sights, so enjoy!

Mise En Place

The mise en place – a beautiful thing. Especially since we got a gorgeous die-cast pineapple tart mould from our aunt. Apparently it is hard to find. It will be our Chia family’s heirloom I told him. Dad’s beeen really encouraging, sharing his fair share of opinions when it comes to true authentic Nonya methods. He says Planta margarine is de rigeur for Nonya tarts. I disagree. I much prefer SCS butter, with some milk powder added to the dough.

Pastry Dough

Pastry

Cutting out the pineapple tart shells

Making of the Nonya Pineapple Tart crust

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Diecast Mould - Removing Tart

Diecast Mould - Chia Heirloom

The steel mould makes for some very precise, and pretty tart shells. Amazing. You can also adjust the depth of the hollow area where the jam goes in.

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Nonya Pineapple Tart Shells

And there you have it. Another peek into the Chia family’s kitchen.

More to come, real soon!

Posted on 17th Apr 2012 in Peranakan Food, pineapple, tart  |  9 comments

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