Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Where to buy cheap baking ingredients

With Chinese New Year coming up in just half a month more, I get the feeling that many people are creaking out their old ovens and attempting to bake a cookie or two to celebrate the festivities. It’s definitely an excellent idea to bake your own CNY cookies because store bought cookies can never be as good as home made. For one, home made CNY cookies are made with love, and that’s an ingredient that money can’t buy!

I too, will be making some CNY cookies this year. (I hope it’s not another say only but never do type of thing again) I’m all set to make pineapple tarts, chocolate cookies and almond cookies this year. I’ve bought nearly all the ingredients already. Butter, check. Sugar, check. Flour, check. Only thing I still need is the pineapple. I’ve made the pineapple filling before a couple of years back. It’s not difficult, just a little time consuming. I heard that the Phoon Huat pineapple filling is just as good as making it yourself. I might have to resort to that if it comes to the crunch.

There are obviously many places to purchase those baking ingredients for your CNY goodies, such as Cold Storage, NTUC, Phoon Huat, Sun Lik etc. BUTTTT, if you have the time, you might want to hop to different stores for different ingredients! The savings can be substantial depending on whether you’re feeding your entire kampong / battalion, or just making some cookies for Instagram only.

This list is based on my memory and past experience, but it should be relatively accurate. Anyway these will be the places I will be going to for the following baking ingredients.


  • Prima Plain Flour $2.50 – This is the standard price that I always keep in mind, because most likely, you will never find flour cheaper than $2.50 at a supermarket. Even when they tell you the flour is on discount, it is still $2.50 or higher!

Sheng Siong Supermarket (I shop at the Bedok branch)

  • Hershey’s Cocoa Powder $4+ only! (Probably cheapest in whole of Singapore)
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Baking Bars
  • Plain Flour about $2 (This is not the Prima or the Bake King brand, I have not tried this flour before so I cannot attest to the brand) This is also the only place where I have seen 3 kg bags of flour. Normally you can only get 1kg bags of flour in most places.
  • Sugar – Can’t remember the cost but it’s cheap. And you can get kgs of it!

Phoon Huat ( I shop at the Sims Avenue branch)

  • Plain Flour / Cake Flour / Bread Flour RedMan brand – Less than $2.50 and therefore cheaper than any supermarket. Cheapest place to buy bread flour too, as Sheng Siong does not seem to have the cheap bread flour like they do for plain flour.
  • Other “exotic” flours like Pistacho flour, Almond flour, hazenut flour etc
  • Butter $2.60 – The Gold Tree brand costs $2.60 but actually there is an Argentinian brand that is even cheaper but I usually go for the GoldTree brand coz that’s what I used in my baking school
  • Cream $7 – One litre dairy cream for only $7!! Even though I can hardly ever finish 1 litre, it seems much better to buy this because 250 ml of cream in the supermarket already costs $4!

Geylang Lor 23, One Sims Lane, #01-10 Singapore 387355 (and various other locations)

Tel: 6846 7825

SunLik Trading Pte Ltd

  • All manner of Valrhona Chocolate, shaved, chips, blocks, bar, powder. 1kg block costs about $40+.

33 Seah Street, Singapore 188389

Tel: 6338 0980

Interesting Christmas Presents

Was at ToTT the other day, and I saw some interesting stuff which may make good presents aside from the usual Crabtree & Evelyn or BodyShop gifts?! Seriously, while I do know of a friend that loves the cookies and teas from Crabtree & Evelyn, I tend to have this impression that these 2 stores are the de facto places to go to where you have no idea what to buy and yet still want to buy something presentable. But the queues at Crabtree & Evelyn, have you seen them? The time spent queuing would be much better used by doing some research online to find out good gifts to give for Christmas!

Here are some gifts you can by from ToTT (Tools of the Trade by Siah Huat) for your baker wanna be friends!

ToTT (11)

How about an X-mas cupcake kit?

ToTT (12)

More cupcake kits… love the pretty cupcake cases! When I see pretty cupcake cases like these, I always have the urge to buy. After my wedding I guess, when I have more time to bake.

ToTT (2)

Cupcake cases for boys or the astronomy loving types…

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Kiwi Blueberry Pavlova

After receiving the truckload of Kiwifruit from Zespri Singapore, it became apparent that simply eating 1 Kiwifruit a day would not suffice. Did you know that you are supposed to eat at least 9 servings of fruit a day in order to maintain optimum health? 1 serving is about the size of a Kiwifruit!

Seriously, I can’t envision myself downing 9 kiwis or other fruits every single day, in addition to eating my main meals. After wracking my brain for a while, I realised that the answer might be to incorporate the fruits themselves into the main meals. This way, you get your 9 servings without feeling like you’re on a mega fruit diet.

I don’t cook all that often but with the Kiwifruits all saying Hi every time I walked into the kitchen, I managed to summon up this recipe for a Pavlova. For those of you who don’t know, the Pavlova was invented in New Zealand! Wouldn’t you agree that it would be the perfect dish to incorporate my New Zealand Zespri Kiwifruit?!?!?!?!

For the record, prior to this, I have never ever baked a Pavlova before. In fact, I was warned that it is very difficult! But the reality couldn’t be further from that! It was really EASY PEASY. I got my recipe off Joy of Baking, which is a really useful baking website if you ever want to know more about the ins and outs of baking.

Kiwi Blueberry Pavlova (9)

Here’s a picture of the final Kiwi Blueberry Pavlova. I didn’t have any whipped cream, nor did I want to add more cream to this already sugar laden dessert so I made an impromptu Blueberry jam thingy to replace the cream. The whole combination of meringue, blueberry and kiwifruit tasted great! The tartness of the blueberries and the tanginess of the kiwifruit really helped to reduce the sweetness of the Pavlova. Asians tend to abhor Pavlovas because they can be too sweet (especially with the whipped cream and if you use sweet fruits like strawberries), but I think I can safely say that Kiwifruit and Blueberry would make a great topping that Asians would like. Scroll down for pictures of the baking process.

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Focaccia Bread Loaf Style

Who would have known that I would enjoy bread baking so much? I know I might have once mentioned that Bread was not sexy. Well I’ll have to eat my words, haven’t I. Or can I substitute the words with bread?

It’s not that easy to make perfect bread at home. I know lots of people do it to great success. What I’m saying is that it is far easier to make bread in a commercial setting, where the ovens are huge and come with steam injection functions. Then there’s the stand up proofer or the large tables for you to knead to your heart’s content. Nevertheless, you make do and it’s definitely worth the effort.

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been baking loaves of baguettes. I don’t have a Pullman tin yet so I can’t make sandwich bread and actually, I much prefer the taste of a well-made baguette! Absolutely love the crispy crust and the soft insides. Smear a little salted butter and you’re instantly in heaven. I henceforth proclaim Bread as simple yet seductive!

A few months back, a colleague from work gave me this wonderful cookbook Dinner with The Baker. At that time, I marvelled at the pictures but privately lamented the difficulty in making the sweet treats. I’m glad to say that after 3 months of intensive baking classes, when I flipped the book a few days ago, I could say “yep, I know how to do this, and this as well, and that”. Perfecting them is another story, but at least they don’t seem so daunting!

In any case, the 1st recipe I tried out was the Focaccia Bread. Interestingly, we never did cover Focaccia Bread in Baking School. I wonder why, considering it’s so popular in Singapore! The dough was ultra sticky for me, thanks to the amount of oil used. I don’t know if it ought to be this sticky, but the Focaccia turned out fine.

Focaccia Bread Loaf Style

If this doesn’t look like Focaccia to you, that’s because it’s in a loaf shape and not flat and rectangular like it usually is. The recipe book calls for putting the dough in a flat pan, but it being 12 midnight the 1st time I did it, I absentmindedly put it into a loaf tin like how I usually do at school! Anyway nobody ever said that Focaccia cannot be loaf shape right????

Speaking of shape, I think there’s much to be improved. The edges are rounded, instead of the angular look of a sandwich bread. I guess it’s due to the amount of oil used. Also, the break and shred is totally uneven. Most importantly, and the bane of all my breads so far, are the idiotic tiny round spots on the crust! I think they’re tiny pockets of air but what can I do to get rid of them? They don’t seem to affect the taste though, and the crust is still crisp.

Anyway, if you want the recipe for the Focaccia loaf style, just scroll down….

Focaccia Bread Loaf Style Sliced Focaccia bread disguised as open-top bread. Tee hee hee….

Recipe (Adapted from Dinner with The Baker cookbook by Pino Locantro. OMG the book even has a Facebook page)

500g    Bread Flour

6g        Dry Yeast

Pinch Oregano (if desired)

10g      Salt

300g    Cold Water

50g      Olive Oil

1          Egg


Work Process :

1. Using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, yeast, oregano and salt.

2. Slowly add oil, egg and water and continue mixing until well combined. Increase speed of your mixer and mix the dough until it looks smooth. The book says to mix until shiny and smooth, but I never did mix it till the shiny stage.

3. The dough may be sticky so dust some flour on your hands and board to help you.

4. Rest the dough for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Keep it covered and in a cool area.

5. After 1 hour, heavily oil a baking tray. Deflate the dough to remove air bubbles and roll the dough to fit the tray. Or you could cut the dough into 4 pieces and make 4 small loaves of Focaccia, just like I did.

6. Proof in a warm area for about 1 hr or until it has doubled in size again.

7. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt if desired. I omitted this step totally.

8. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celcius for the flat Focaccia, and 30 minutes at 200 degrees celcius for the loaf Focaccia.

9. Remove from tray/tin immediately and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!!!

Cake Baking at Baking Industry Training Centre

Being an ardent fan of the cafe culture, I am often smitten by the pretty and delicious cakes and pastries on display at the various cafes in Singapore. When I see those mouth watering creations, not only do I want to eat them, I want to replicate them myself! Watching Nigella, Hugh Fearnley and Anna Olsen churning out sweet treat after sweet treat on the Food Network makes my heart pound with envy. Their cakes look so decadent yet my creations look fit for the dustbin.

They say baking is like Chemistry lessons. Follow the recipe accurately and you won’t go wrong. The problem is, the recipes often aren’t very clear. I mean like what the hell is cream until light and fluffy? How should I know exactly how light and exactly how fluffy? Would that be 5 minutes of creaming, or is it 8? One issue I used to have is that my cakes invariably turn out rather dense. Was it because I reduced the sugar and the butter, which resulted in the flour ratio being higher? Or was it due to the under-creaming? Or was it due to the curdled mess that I get every time I add eggs to the batter? No idea.

Push came to shove, I finally signed up for baking lessons this year. Which is the best place to learn baking in Singapore? After scouring the net for reputable baking classes to attend, I discovered the names of a few big players

  1. At Sunrice GlobalChef Academy
  2. Creative Culinaire
  3. Baking Industry Training Centre

There are others but they mostly focus on short courses. These 3 baking schools above provide in-depth basic to advanced levels of baking knowledge, ranging from cake making, to bread making to pastry making. And each of these 3 schools have their advantages and disadvantages.

At Sunrice is good because it is tied up with WDA and you can get up to 90% subsidy if you take the diploma classes. Of course, you must want to do a full fledged diploma in order to enjoy that huge discount.

Creative Culinaire is expensive, but I hear lessons are mostly taught by the owner of the school Judy Koh. I have also taken one of her baking workshops and I found her to be very good and detailed. She holds several diplomas, one of which is from the Culinary Institute of America.

Baking Industry Training Centre or BITC is the cheapest of the lot so guess what? I signed up with BITC. Okay another huge reason was because I wanted to get started ASAP, ride on the momentum you know, and they had something starting in January 2012, so I hopped on board.

BITC also has its pros and cons. As I mentioned, without a subsidy, BITC is the cheapest. However, BITC is also very “no-frills”, to the extent whereby you have to bring your own spoons, spatulas and knives. You will have those handy because you will be required to pay for a toolbox costing $150. BITC also happens to be a place where lots of people come here to learn how to become a baker. So classes are catered to teaching students how to operate in commercial kitchens and not the home kitchen. The pace is also pretty slow so as to cater to all skill levels. If you want a job as a baker, a BITC cert will allow you to do so.

Have you ever heard of sponge gel and emulsifiers? These are ingredients that will be used at BITC. These ingredients go into the cheap cakes you buy from the cheap bakeries as putting those ingredients into the cake actually makes the cake soft, fluffy and idiot proof to make. If you’re concerned about putting margarine or palm oil in your cake as compared to pure butter, it will be a shock to the system when you see yourself using them anyway because you obviously can’t just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. Oh and lastly, you can only bring home half of whatever you make.

Despite all my misgivings about BITC, I think I still had fun learning all about cake baking. I have never made so many cakes in my life in such a short span of time. And the best part is, everyone loves my cakes! Sure there are areas to improve on, but it has been such a vast improvement from what I used to churn out that I’m already very satisfied with the results. Hey my grandmother asks for my cakes everyday. That’s proof of the pudding isn’t it?

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (7)

Where else can you find a 365days2play brownie?

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (12)

These are the cakes we made for our mid term exams. Mine is the second column from the left, with the exception of the chiffon cake. I baked the chiffon on the right, but I unmoulded someone else’s cake by mistake. Darn, and the unmoulding was quite good if I say so myself. Look at the wreck on the right!

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (10)

My masterpieces…

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (18)

Pandan Chiffon on the left. Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting and marzipan carrots.

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (19)

Tiger skin. I have never heard of tiger skin before until the class, and whaddya know, I saw it at the shops a few days later.

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (8)

Gugelhoph. The best tasting cake I’ve made to date. Love the nutty flavours!

Baking Industry Training Centre Cake Baking Class (17)

There you go, the infamous sponge gel. Just the sight of that neon orange colour puts me off. Plus it’s so sticky and oily! Urgh! I don’t know who on earth invented this, but the bakers love it as it makes their job easy. You can buy sponge gel from Phoon Huat. Why you’d want to, I don’t know.

Baking Industry Training Centre Pte Ltd (BITC)
201 Keppel Road, Level 11 Annexe Block
Singapore 099419

Telephone:+65 6276 6337

Fax:+65 6276 6608

Operation Hours

Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm

Saturday 8:30am – 12:30pm

Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays

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