Mrs. Chan

Archive for the ‘Apprentice Chef’ Category

Banana Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake

In Apprentice Chef, Cakes, Hakkamui Cooks on May 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Momsie’s banana is a hit.

2 combs were brought back on Sunday and before we knew it, Margaux has consumed a comb. It wouldn’t be sitting at Agnes’s kitchen for too long either as we both are pretty confident to start our baking adventure with a dish that calls for banana.

Agnes quickly scoured David Lebovitz, her favorite food blogger stationed in Paris and we found this Banana Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake. We would suggest you follow his recipe to the T and the outcome will be tremendous. Absolutely a fun dish to bake.

For the topping:

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water or butter; cubed, at room temperature
3-4 ripe medium bananas
a few drops of lemon juice

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup (250 g) banana puree (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, regular or low-fat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (80 g) chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1. To make the topping, place the brown sugar and water or butter in an 8-inch (20 cm) square cake pan. Warm the pan directly on the stovetop over low heat, stirring until the sugar is thoroughly moistened.

If using water, simmer the mixture for about 45 seconds. If using butter, stir just until the sugar is moist and bubbling, then remove from heat. (It won’t melt completely smooth, and there may be a few bare spots, which is normal.) Let cool to room temperature.

2. Peel and slice the bananas in 1/4-inch (1 cm) slices. Arrange them in slightly overlapping rows over the melted brown sugar. Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Mix in the granulated sugar.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, egg, egg white, banana puree, sour cream, and vanilla.

6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until almost combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate pieces.

7. Scrape the batter into the pan over the bananas, then use a spatula to carefully spread the batter over the sliced fruit.

8. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake feels just set in the center when you touch it.

9. Cool the cake for about 20 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the cake to help it release from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Agnes and I had a few false start though. Although we visited a nearby cake ingredients supply shop, Blue Sea, we did not obviously had a proper shopping list. Had we visited David’s website prior to our shopping trip, our cake would have turned out as it actually should.

Anyway, this is truly a very interesting episode for Agnes and I, both amateur but enthusiastic bakers. We didn’t realise that we ran out of normal wheat flour, the most important basic ingredient for any baker. As the banana cake is named, an up-side-down cake; we had our total process a little choppy and turbulent as well. Thank god, it did not dampen our mood at all.

For one, we had no choice but to use wholemeal flour which made the texture of the cake a bit stiff. I can imagined if we had used normal flour, the cake would have been moist and tender. I don’t find it offensive and I think some may like the hearty feeling of this bite.

Our greatest anxiety had little to do with the flour, we did not have sour cream. So could our baking project turn sour? There was small glitch in communication and we had to improvise. Thankfully, Mr. Google has all the answers to your query and soon we were making buttermilk as substitute by adding lemon juice into milk. I just had to keep my fingers crossed as it did not look or taste anything like sour cream.

Searched we did the entire kitchen but we found no 8 inch square tray but a 9 inch round one. Agnes’s stuffs are still packed in boxes and all over the place, hopefully in a couple weeks her kitchen will be well equipped for our future baking adventure.

It was a long 40 minutes wait and our banana cake turned out fantastic; both in appearance and taste.

a pound that wasn’t

In Apprentice Chef, Cakes on March 24, 2011 at 9:24 am

In my case, NO.

I baked a pound cake that wasn’t worth its weight but do not let this somewhat deformed cake puts you off. This is a Quasimodo, ugly on the outside but golden on the inside. Truly aromatic, with generous use of real, rich condensed milk and flavoursome.

Most food blogs would boast a successfully cooked dish. Yours truly decided to be honest to show you what can really go wrong for a apprentice baker like me. I have butter fingers, nothing bakes well through this pair of hands. Either floppy, gooey or burnt.

Isn’t it despairing? You get so excited, motivated to cook a pound cake after watching hundreds of beautifully published recipes. I am a sucker for be well photographed pics, the centre piece and depth of field to emphasized the dish. Jun Belen, the one in particular won over the others. He is a professional photographer and an avid food blog. And his pound cake calls for condensed milk.

I need to consume some before they get expired this coming June.


Right. What could go wrong Joanne? A simple basic cake like this is just too easy for anyone, even amateurs.

I thought I thawed the butter that just came out of the refrigerator. It would be impossible to go into the mixer. I didn’t want to wait for it to thaw naturally. Instead, I happily thought I was a genius to melt that chunk of butter over the stove. Clever me, right?

There is no short cut. Got my little brother to get me some butter to replace from a grocery store nearby.

Castor sugar and fine sugar. Fine, I didn’t read properly and hastily used the sugar I joyfully grabbed the one nearest on hand. They are the sugar for my hubby’s kopi, coarse and took me a long time to beat them down with the butter.

Lastly, I could read temperatures!

I could not tell the knob on the baby oven, is readings in Celsius. So, imagine when Jun Belen asked for a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven, I rapped it to 325 degree Celsius.

I was liked brewing an atomic bomb.

The cake cooked quickly . Burning at the sides and top too fast. Luckily, I realised it “soon enough” and lowered it down. By then, the pound cake has gone through enough abuse. Look at the cake bursting in the middle because the sides are too hard for it to beat through when it rises.

Anyway, I am not easily disheartened. I am a mother, and mothers always try salvage situations.

It would be a disappointment if I told everybody, there is not gonna be any servings of this much awaited orange flavoured pound cake with condensed milk. They are so looking forward as the aroma of this milk has conquered the entire house. What an enticement? To end up with nothing?

I decided to cheat a little. Trimmed off all the slightly burnt and rubbery sides.

All is not lost.

In no time, the cake was consumed and I got a thumbs up for a pound that almost wasn’t 16 ounces. Imperfect in every way, but so great it tasted. I bet my family members are biased.

sunday brunch

In Apprentice Chef, family festivities, Snack Food on March 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Gatherings are a common thing in this family.

Of the 6 siblings; 4 often meet because of their proximity. 2 in Kuala Lumpur and 2 in Sungai Long. Coco, Agnes and Stevie frequently get together for dinners during the weekdays; Chris mostly on Sundays, either in Malacca, perhaps visit each others’ places, a picnics or outings somewhere nearby.

While writing this, the same gang and a few personal friends are over at Hakkamui or Agnes’s place for a BBQ.

My head says, go grab your camera or lots of beautiful moments won’t be captured. The conscience reminds me that my blog on last week’s brunch is going stale.

agnes getting a bite

It is difficult, not to fall in love with her new house. We openly declare it, our weekend holiday retreat. It would spare us the long hours driving out of the city, paying unnecessary money for crabby food just to enjoy a holiday away from home.

Mind you, Agnes home is no ordinary home.

Tucked in an obscure corner, in one of the busiest part of the city, this home is a home away from home.

Once inside, you are transported into another world. The outside, doesn’t matter any more. High ceiling and open interior, old terrazzo, antiques bring you back to the 70s.

chris and mitch gelber

This Sunday brunch, everyone was excited. You see, Agnes wants to overcome her fear of the oven and decided to roast us a chicken. There was already a big village chicken sitting frozen too comfortably in the freezer. Our numbers made it viable to roast and consume. Since the chicken would take a good hour to roast, a simple family snack, Tauhu & Fishball was set aside by the pool. An afternoon by the pool, wading or swimming, can make many hungry Chans.

skinny dip

favorite snack food

Tauhu and Fishball Recipe


Tauhu,/Taukua         4 pieces, cut to bite size, square or triangular

Fishballs                   60 small pieces

Cucumber                  1 or 2

For DIP:-

Choose all your faourite ingredients, buy the fried tauhu that is bitey yet soft to the palate. A walk round the wet market on a busy Sunday can be fun. I love going round to my favourite butcher, he gives me his best cut. Do not be shy to ask around, many aunties and uncles would be eager to offer to give you tips on the best tauhu and fishball stalls in your area.

A small bowl of soya sauce with a tablespoon of black vinegar. Cut chilies are optional. If you are not into soya sauce, a great chili sauce can be used.

hakkamui or agnes chan

The Dai Ka Che of the Chan Clan. Agnes is very hospitable when having guests but totally very private in person. Born 2nd in the family and eldest girl, she always take charge when it comes to the Chan family matters.

Occasionally blogs under her pen name Hakkamui, Agnes is a daughter, sister, mother, aunty and lawyer.

Although younger than I, being Stevie’s wife, a junior …. I am so happy to have her as my Che Che。

the gelbers - coco, sol and mitch

the gelbers are chans too

happy sol

margaux & angie sunning their buns

swimming ala kampong style

chris giving angie - both his hands

stevie and his mac

While everyone is having fun, my poor hubby has got a deadline to meet.

The hour has passed, the aroma of spices are already teasing our noses and I wonder if the roast is ready?

the roast

moist chocolate cake

In Apprentice Chef, Cakes, Dessert on March 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm

i so want to celebrate. i have butter fingers and never, never, ever baked anything successfully in my life. i dreaded the oven and squealed at any recipes that has to do with baking.

silently, i resorted to recipes that say “steam” and i have many a success with white radish steamed cake and yam cake.

but i want an easy cake that is almost like a baked cake but one that i could steam. i scoured the internet and found this “steam” moist chocolate cake.

Steamed Chocolate Moist Cake


180g          butter

150g          caster sugar

200ml       evaporated mil

2                 eggs

120g          plain flour ( i decided to add some flour)

50g            cocoa powder

1/2 tsp      baking powder

1/2 tsp     baking soda

1/2 tsp     vanilla essense ( i substituted with orange flavoured essence)


  1. Combine caster sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla essense and butter in a saucepan.
  2. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, turn off the fire and keep warm.
  3. Add the beaten eggs into the slightly cold evaporated milk mixture and stir till well mix.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda into a large mixing bowl, then pour the eggs mixture over the flour and stir till well mix (cake batter should be runny)
  5. Heat up the steamer.
  6. Lined or greased a rectangular pan or a 8 inch round baking pan.
  7. Pour the batter into the lined pan and place the pan into the steamer and cover the top of the pan loosely with a piece of aluminium foil.
  8. Cover the steamer and steam over medium heat for 45 mins.
  9. Cool the cake and spread the chocolate fudge toppings.

Chocolate Fudge Topping


1/2 can       condensed milk
1/2 tsp        vanilla essence ( again i substituted with orange flavoured essence)
1/4 cup       corn oil ( there was only peanut oil so i used extra virgin olive oil)
1/6 cup       cocoa powder,sifted
a pinch of salt


1. Combine the sifted cocoa powder,condense milk and oil.

2. Stir over low heat till thicken (stirring all the time).

3. Add in salt and vanilla extract or essence.

4. Cool the chocolate topping a little before spreading on the cake.

5. Quickly put it into the refrigerator to set, at room temperature the fudge will melt.

i found 2 recipes, san’s blessed moments and thelazychef , combined, adapted to this simply easy to make chocolate cake. i tried the first night and it was not completely successful. the middle of the cake just would not cook and runny with gooey chocolate. reason i think was i overlook the instruction to likely foil the top. i was so kiasu, i wrapped the foil tightly and there was over steaming and heating. my second guess is, 100 gm flour was too little and i topped them up to 120 gm.

joey, a sweet friend plies singapore and shah alam almost weekly. a dear friend i made through tweeter. hubby enlightened me that malaysian distributed condensed milk is palm and not dairy based. fortunately across the causeway, we can get the forgotten, natural and real milk. i am delighted that this recipe calls for its use and i can run them down and make my next order through joey. thanks.