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Ma Lai Goh (Steamed “Malay” Cake)

6 Feb

For some reason, this old school Chinese bakery goodie is called “Malay cake”, even though it has nothing to do with Malaysia. The light cake was always my favorite dessert after dim sum (Chinese small plates eaten at lunch time). Unfortunately, traditional style Malay cake is disappearing from menus, and I can’t find them at bakeries either. So I decided to make my own. It turns out that this cake requires only a few basic ingredients.

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Malay cake is a steamed cake, not a baked cake. I used a 9″ steamer basket, lined with parchment paper. 

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 120 ml corn oil
  • 130 ml milk
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until the sugar is well dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
    Ingredients for Mah Lai Goh
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  2. Whisk in oil and milk until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Mix well.DSC05230
  5. Add vanilla. Mix until bubbly.
  6. Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
  7. Pour mixer into parchment lined steaming tray.
  8. Bring water in steamer to a boil. DSC05235
  9. Place steaming tray in the steamer and steam until cake is done and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

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I added some chopped walnuts on top, just to make it look a little prettier.

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Slice and enjoy! This cake is best devoured while fresh and warm!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

13 Dec

I‘ve tried many chocolate chip cookie recipes, including the one from Joy of Cooking… but this one is definitely the best one. I’ve found very similar recipes across the internet, but I made a couple of changes, to get the slightly soft, chocolatey cookies my husband and I both love.  As in any recipe, good quality ingredients are key – I like to use Nestle or Guittard chocolate chips here. I used a total of 2½ cups of chocolate chips in this recipe – a little more than most other recipes I’ve seen – and actually, it could probably use even more. If you think it’s not possible to stir this many chocolate chips into the batter, you’re wrong. While the batter might appear to be a large helping of chocolate with a side of dough, once these cookies are baked, they’ll have the right amount of chocolate.

Forget your diet, these cookies are worth the splurge. Plan ahead though – it’s best to make the dough and chill overnight for better results. I made two batches of these cookies, one with dough chilled for 5 hours, and a second batch with the dough chilled 29 hours. The second batch had a richer flavour – they were worth the wait! Use lighter coloured baking sheets to avoid cookie bottoms that are too brown.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 ½ vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

 

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Pour melted butter into a a mixer’s work bowl. Add white and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed.
  4. Add egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
  5. Slowly incorporate flour mixture until thoroughly combined. 
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Chill dough for up to 36 hours.

    dough chilled 29 hours

    Dough chilled 29 hours

  8. Preheat oven to 350 ºF (for crispier cookies, preheat to 375 ºF)
  9. Form balls of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten slightly.slightly flattened the dough
  10. Bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 6 minutes (rotate baking sheet for even browning).
  11. Cool for a few minutes, then enjoy a cookie or two while they’re still warm!
  12. Cool completely; store in airtight container.

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Baklava in Istanbul

8 Nov

You can’t stumble more than a couple blocks in Istanbul without running into a baklava shop, the same way you’d run into a Starbucks in America. But baklava is so much tastier than Starbucks coffee. I ate baklava daily – if not multiple times a day – during my trip to Istanbul, and my favorite was at Hafiz Moustafa. I’m pretty sure there are multiple locations, but I frequented the one on the main avenue, İstiklal Caddesi, near Taksim Square.

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Large windows show off Turkish delight on one side of the shop, and baklava on the other, with customers surrounding all sides of the U-shaped counter.

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Fresh baklava in Istanbul is generally cheaper than in the United States… except at Hafiz Moustafa, where it’s just about on par. Totally worth it though, for the selection alone!

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My husband’s favorite is the chocolate baklava with pistachios inside (top row, square piece). Chocolate baklava was not something we were able to find at most baklava shops  – stock up at Hafiz Moustafa!

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Not all baklava is created equal, either. Avoid the very drippy kind (below) – it’s older baklava with added sugar poured over it to keep it looking “fresh”. (This was at a different shop on İstiklal Caddesi).

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Some tourist guidebooks chose Develi for the best baklava in the city, so we went on the hunt. It’s a small, nondescript shop near the Spice Bazaar. My husband liked the baklava from Develi best (guess the guidebooks are on to something). I liked its texture – it was flakier than the baklava at Hafiz Moustafa, but I didn’t like the flavour as much – a bit doughy to me. 

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Unfortunately, fresh baklava isn’t something you can keep around for a while and bring home with you in a suitcase. Day-old baklava is alright, but two-day old baklava? Fuggetaboutit (it’s no longer as flaky, and it’s dried out too much). So go to Istanbul, and stuff your face with baklava! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Fresh fried donuts in Istanbul

17 Oct

A thing to do in Istanbul, Turkey (as suggested by a couple tourist guides), is to enjoy fish sandwiches on the quay near the Galata Bridge. Small sandwich shops with bright coloured lights line the water. The fish is grilled on the boats directly behind the shop. However, I spotted quite a bit of garbage floating in the water by these boats, where fishing lines were being thrown. So I didn’t eat a fish sandwich.

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I did however, order some freshly fried donuts! About one euro gets you five light and airy pillows tossed in honey. Yum!! Pretty sure these are my favourite donuts ever – so simple, unpretentious, delicious.

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Small crowds gather to watch the chefs turn handfuls of bubbling batter into small donuts that take shape immediately after being thrown into the hot oil. These donuts really sell like hotcakes, so you’re guaranteed to get a fresh batch!

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Wish we could get some of this awesome street food here in America!

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