Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tangyuan - Traditional chinese rice balls in Soup

We celebrated the Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice festival yesterday. Traditionally, this festival is to celebrate the change of the season; it marks the end of the extreme of Winter (in the northern hemisphere) and from this point onwards, the days will be increasingly longer. However, here in the Southern Hemisphere we will find the days getting shorter and shorter.

On the Dōngzhì Festival, we make the traditional Tangyuan, literally translated it means 'ball in soup'. Though ready-made ones are easily available, we prefer to make them from scratch. It lends to the festive spirit and it is simple to make.

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 4 ounces water
  • Fresh ginger, small piece about 3 cm, crushed
  • Sugar
  1. Place flour in the large mixing bowl
  2. Gradually mix in the water until the mixture gains a dough-consistency; you may not need all the water
  3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes
  4. Pinch off small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls, traditionally it is preferred to have some small and some big ones
  5. Put a pot of water to boil
  6. Drop the balls into the boiling water
  7. When the balls float up, scoop them out and set aside in a bowl with water at room temperature.
  8. Prepare the syrup soup by boiling the sugar and ginger in a pot.
  9. Serve the glutinous rice balls with the syrup soup.
Things can get a bit more complicated when you start adding colours or putting fillings in the rice balls. It reminds me very much of the commercialization of our traditional food. You can find technicolor balls with myriad option of fillings in the Asian grocery store.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chocolate Cake Supreme

This chocolate cake is simple to make. It has a nice texture with soft crunch of the fresh walnuts. I pay particular attention to the choice of the main ingredients, going to great lengths to look for the freshest walnuts and good tasting chocolate.


  • 1/4 cup Thickened cream
  • 200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped ( Try Whittaker's Dark Block over standard Cadbury or Nestle cooking chocolate)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 150g Castor sugar
  • 80g Unsalted butter
  • 60g plain flour, sifted
  • 60g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 100g walnut halves, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
  • a pinch of cream of tartar
  • 60g Sultanas
  • 1/4 cup of Drambuie or other liqueur

  • You need a buttered 22cm (81/2 inch) cake tine
  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F
  • Mix sultanas and Drambuie in a bowl
  • Bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan and then on a very low heat add the chocolate to melt
  • Beat egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and white
  • Whisk butter into chocolate preparation then gently mix in the egg yolk preparation, the two types of flour, the walnuts and the macerated sultanas
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, fold the beater whites into the chocolate prepartaion and pour the mixture into your cake tine. 
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Cool for  15 minutes before carefully unmoulding onto a cooling rack.
  • Before serving, dust the top with icing sugar or ice with the a chocolate ganache.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Orange Almond Cake

We have a few friends over for tea and decided to bake a cake. Looking through my collection of recipes, I decided on either the Orange Almond and Chocolate Supreme cake from Gabriel Gate's recipes. Undecided on the cake to make for the afternoon, I bought ingredients for two cakes and ended up making them both.

I started the day putting the oranges to simmer and preparing the blanched almonds. This flourless Orange Almond cake is basically based on the traditional Sephardic Jews recipe. The Sephardi are originally from the Iberian peninsular (where Spain and Portugal is) where oranges are plenty.

This is truly a slow-food - having to prepare the blanched almond from scratch and simmering the orange for two hours. 
Put on my favourite CD and work on the almond til the last song on the CD.This is the best way to chillout. Alternatively, you can buy ready blanched almond or ground almond meal.

After putting in the Orange cake to bake for an hour, the girls left to go for a walk in the park to work out an appetite, when it is time for to start working on the next cake.

"This flourless Orange cake is moist and had the truly awesome orange flavour. As the almonds are not finely ground, it has a nice texture."


2 Unblemished oranges
1 1/2 cups Blanched Almonds
1 cup Castor Sugar
5 eggs (size 61 gm)
1 tsp Baking Powder
Icing sugar for dusting


  1. Buttered or lined a 20cm (8 in) cake tin.
  2. Place the washed oranges in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for two hours. Drain oranges and allow to cool.
  3. Blend almonds and sugar in a food processor until almonds are in quite small pieces. Transfer to plate.
  4. In the same food processor, blend the whle oranges to a puree. Add almond and sugar mixture and blend briefly before gradually adding the eggs and baking powder, blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour Cool for 10 mins before unmoulding to a cake rack.
  6. Dust with icing sugar before serving.