Wednesday, July 29, 2015

China taught me: The Old, New and Improved

It was only a matter of time before I had to admit how much being China has helped me to grow my food character. I am returning home a bachelor's degree in Food Science, a blog that not only documents all my food travels but one that helped me to open up my palette, pushed me to visit new places, allow myself beautiful dining experiences and spend more quality time in the kitchen. When it comes to the kitchen, I naturally leaned to baking. All the ladies in the family have a sweet tooth and sweet fingers. Finding out that I had to potential to follow in those foot steps was only possible by coming out here and finding that my cravings could not be satisfied at the local bakery. Pretty soon, I became that person on my floor, the one who never left the kitchen. Shushu would always frighten me at 3:00am when coming to check the lights as I waited for second and third batches to finish. Baking really brought home life to China and being able to share that with my friends was the ultimate blessing. But after one year and chabuduo 3 months, I will have to leave this baking life behind. I'm returning home and I probably will find everything I want to eat there but now I ask myself, 'What is the definition of everything?'.

First attempt at Red Velvet Cake
So to commemorate this parting with my oven, I did an old, new and improved version of my baking history and hopeful started a new baking tradition. I told people that I just wanted to finish my ingredients (to maintain my cold exterior) but the Lord knows and some how truly orchestrated this moment.

For the old, my first bun recipe from Ms. Wegman. The first recipe I ever baked in my new oven last year Easter.

I always liked making them into cookies because the outsides would get nice and crispy. Even though I didn't have dried fruits around, I did have a whole bag of grated coconut so, there was no stopping me.

For the new, I tried my hand at a green tea (matcha) chiffon cake and surprised myself. Previously, I made green tea frosting at a friend's request and that helped me get over the fear of adding green tea to cake. In fact, I even bought one at the bakery last week. Is it possible that I've been here too long?

It was also my first time to try a chiffon cake with real eggs (I'll explain later). Beating egg whites and yolks separately and recombining, the best trick in the book and apparently the basis of all Chinese baked goods. I may be late to the party but I'm not leaving any time soon.

This cake was so moist and sweet. I couldn't convince my country mates to join in the green tea but I'm sure my Indonesian sisters would be proud of me.

For the improved, Red Velvet and I had a bone to pick (Caribbean for unfinished business). Couple weeks ago, I read scores of comparisons of apparently America's most popular cake and was extremely daunted. When every one claims to have the best of something, you end up not even trusting yourself to make a decision. However,  I eventually went with version because the pictures and ingredients 真满足我的要求.

That vinegar and baking soda taste was too pungent and colouring, lackluster. Well, what are the odds that someone would give you a tin of beets in China.

I interpreted this as a sign that I should try again. By using a puree and 10ml of red dye I got an even softer cake than the previous cake which was made with cake flour and the cleanest, smoothest toothpick withdrawal evuuuur. 

The flavor was amazing. Not just a red chocolate cake, but actual velvety tasting cake. If only there was frosting.

This was really the perfect way to part. I could only dream of what next I will be a part of, whether it's more baking, some actual cooking, more blogging or all of the above. Because sometimes, you should get to have your cake and eat it too!

Till we see again at another location
Watermelon and Cheese

Find the recipes here

Coconut Bun Cookies:

Green Tea Match Chiffon Cake:

Red Velvet Cake: