Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dulcet & Studio

Does the above explain my constant running yet expanding waistline?? The Japanese really knows their sweet tooth. I wish I could bake a mean chiffon cake like them. But guess.. that's why they are in business and I'm not. *dream dream dream*

Dulcet & Studio is under the Tampopo family, famous for their cream puffs and strawberry shortcakes. Not a fan of these 2 cakes, my choice was the C-cube!

I thought it was going to be a dense, cakey chocolate decadence kind of cake. Wow! I was pleasantly and thoroughly thrown off. It was the complete opposite, a light yet moist chiffon-style cake covered with a thin layer of chocolate glace. It was perfect as a afternoon delight.

Was wondering why the cake was leaning to the side initially but upon the first bite, we knew. The cake structure is very delicate due to the softness of the texture, check out the holey interior. I really could not stop digging into this creation.

Mont Blanc
Unwittingly, I've posted the cakes in the order of my favourites. This is another must-eat if I go back to this place. The chestnut strips are thick and so fragrant, the tart crust crisp and there's a layer of chestnut cream in the middle, 3 flavors all welding together in a complementary manner. Not overly sweet as well, this is one very satisfying dessert. 
Cheese Chiffon

This is another version of their chiffon cake, layers of cake flavored with cheese and sandwiched/covered with a cheesy whipped creamy frosting. Again, its texture is light as cotton and the cheese lends a creaminess to the cake. Nice but just.. nice. Not something for which I'll make a special trip. 

Situated at Liang Court, it is pretty empty whenever I passed by so it could be a good place to go for a quiet coffee. Decor is pretty simple, none of the cosy ambience nor random but interesting knick knacks signature of cafes these days. It may not be a fancy, girly place but the peace and easily availability of seats may warrant a afternoon trip if you want to avoid talking above the din of usual weekend tea-time noise. and. of course, the cakes are totally worth the visit!

Dulcet & Studio
117 River Valley Road
#01-41/42 Liang Court

Monday, September 17, 2012

Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah

I think I'm an oldie at heart.. I love all things nostalgic. To date, I'm still looking for a childhood favourite of mine.. The Hiro Cake.

Anyone remember this? I always remember the school canteen selling this, a sweet yellow crumbly cake coated in a light layer of chocolate. It's not a very yummy cake and I'm sure Apollo cakes would be a slightly better rendition of this kind of cakes. But.. its just so nostalgic and nowhere to be found, that it's always on my mind.
And... remember the Doraemon chocolate balls that comes with a little toy? That was waaaaay before the days of Kinder Surprise! A little rectangular box with some 8-10 little choc balls but every kid wants it just for the toy!

Ha! There's really no link between a Hiro Cake, a Doreamon chocolate and Tau Sar Piah. These little bits of nostalgia was brought to mind only because Mr and Mrs Tan (that's me!) visited a really old-school shop on a hot Sunday afternoon - Loong Fatt Eating House & Confectionery!

oh man, the queue was long. Since I'm a big fan of tau sar piah, with a particular fondness for the salty ones from Malaysia and if a long queue usually means a good piah, there's really nothing much else to think about but just join in the queue.  This is indeed one traditional piah shop.

There's only 2 flavors for the tau sar piah, sweet or salty, unlike the plentiful other such shops in the same street with a myriad of flavors. I supposed it's good to focus as indeed their piah was as good as piah can be. There need not be many flavors as you can easily devour 2-3 of the these at 1 go.

The pastry was buttery and crispy; combined with the slight saltiness of the filling, there's a very satisfying sweet saltiness to the biscuit. It's kind of like the asian version of a salted caramel pastry. Go for the salty ones, which has more dimensions to the taste than the sweet ones. By the way, the filling is not the sand-like granules type of filling, it's a paste form, even for the salty ones. I was a little surprised at first but guess this is considered a point of differentiation from others!

At only 60cents per piece, everyone in the queue was ordering 30 or 50 pieces at one go. We bought 32 pieces and easily finished them amongst the family in 2 days. They also sell banana cake, butter cake, egg tarts etc..
Check out their boxes. Love the traditional yet elegant look!

PS: I had the tau sar piah hot from the oven on day 1 and microwaved slightly on day 2. Oooh la la, day 1 was uber I-wanna-lick-up all the bits and day 2 was just as good, around 90%, though I think toasting in the oven would achieve just the same yum factor as day 1.

Loong Fatt Eating House and Confectionery
639 Balestier Road
(It's very near Singapore Pools, turn in right when coming from Novena. There's a public car park just behind this stretch of shops)
Closed on Sundays
6253 4584
Tip: You can call ahead to order and skip the queue!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tiong Bahru Bakery Raffles City

Finally! I made my way to Tiong Bahru Bakery. So glad for their new outlet at Raffles City, which is rather large, bigger than a usual cafe would be. Despite the size, we still joined the long queue, thankfully it moved fast and we were allocated a table around 20 minutes later. The system is quite efficient - you get a table number, go to the counter, order and collect your food, pay and be seated. Drinks will be served to the table. Iced/Hot water, jam/butter, cutlery and serviettes are self-serviced, on a corner counter.

The croissant was yummy! It's not uber buttery and has a rather crisp top but I love the doughy interior, which is fluffy yet very substantial, satiating the bready queen that I am.
The lemon tart was pretty normal though. I like the candied citrus peel and I think it was sandwiched with a layer of almond paste though I couldn't be sure as the fragrance did not stand out. Neither was there a very lemony taste to it. The tart base was good though, crisp and sturdy. Not something I would repeat..

The Apple Crumble is recommended! The crumble on top added a buttery touch to the layers of thinly sliced apples over a flat biscuit base. Overall, a very delightful afternoon sweet treat however, it's a touch too sweet, would be better to share rather than devour one alone as it could wear out the palate.

Ordered by a friend, it's a salted caramel pastry according to the service staff. Didn't try this but it sure looks good!
Sigh... my purpose in visiting TBB was actually to try the much-acclaimed Squid Ink Burger! It was sold out when we arrived and only re-appeared when we were already stuffed. Well, this just means I've to revisit them soon again, which is not such a bad idea.

My only gripe is that the food is not served warmed. I asked for my croissant to be warmed though and the service staff happily obliged.

The crowd thins around 5-6pm, guess most people go for dinner or are waiting for dinner then so this is a good time to go to avoid the queue. Get your dinner fix from the fanciful range of burgers available. Totally worth a visit!

Tiong Bahru Bakery
Raffles City Shopping Centre
(next to Soup Spoon & Ben&Jerry's)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ramen Santouka at The Central

So goes the famous line "A picture paints a thousand words". Are the above pictures sufficient evidence of a delicious, satisfying and totally soupily sinful dinner? At 9pm on Sunday at Central, there was no queue at this ramen shop anymore but neither were there much choices in the menu. The dinner crowd probably wiped out all the dinner sets!

So we all order the Shio Ramen with mine being the spicy soy base. The noodles were springy and has a nice bite to it. Soup was very very good, thick and luscious, with a kick of spice. The egg was a separate order; my favourite part of any ramen meal is to dunk that soft-centered gooey egg into the soup and slurp it up when warmed! yum!

The portions are huge, especially after drinking all that yummy soup before the noodles are done. The char siew pieces were also arge but being a non-pork fan, it didnt call out to me too much. Wish there were beansprouts just like at Keisuke!

Overall, a good place to visit for ramen.
Thumbs- up!

Ramen Santouka
The Central
6 Eu Tong Sen Street

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apple Frangipane Tart

It's been a while since I last made tarts. Was trying to search for a passionfruit tart recipe for a friend's birthday but googling around did not turn up many exciting passionfruit tarts. Most recipes call for alot of butter or cream to make it a curd-like filling whilst I'm trying to find a tangy sweetish light version. Anyone has any good passionfruit recipe to share please??

Anyway, the inspiration stuck and I ended up repeating within my currently limited repertoire of tart recipes. Lots of ground almond + a seldom-used Laduree recipe book = a sweet shortcrust pastry + a sweet almond filling + fruits of choice.

Shortcrust pastry recipe (from Laduree recipe book)
Makes 2 8-inch tarts or 1 8-in covered pie
120g very cold butter, cubed
70g confectionery sugar, sifted
25g ground almond
1 pinch fleur de sel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
200g cake flour

1. Place butter in mixer; use paddle attachment and mix to homogenize
2. Add in the following order, one at a time until just incorporated:
- Sifted sugar
- ground almond
- salt
- vanilla extract
- egg
- flour
3. Combine until everything just comes together. Divide into 2 portions and wrap each other individually in clingfilm.
4. Leave in fridge to rest for at least 2 hours (I tend to do this the night before)
5. After rest, roll the dough into tart tray and rest in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Poke holes with fork all over the dough before baking.

Almond Frangipane (adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
Sufficient filling for 2 8-inch tarts
200g butter
150g sugar
2 eggs
60g all purpose flour
200g ground almond

1. Cream butter and sugar together
2. Add eggs and mix well
3. Mix flour and ground almond together
4. Add flour mixture into egg-butter mixture, mix until well incorporated.

Baked Apples
5 small-mid sized apples (I used red fuji)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
30g unsalted butter

1. Peel, core & cut the apples. I like to leave them in thick chunks so they retain some bite though the outer layer is baked to a slightly soft and moist stage.
2. Mix apples with sugar, lemon, cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Drain the apples and cook the drained juice over low heat. Add butter and reduce the juice to a thick mixture.
4. Pour the hot, thickened juice back over the apples.

1. Pre-heat oven to 190C. Bake the empty tart, with weights for 20 minutes.
2. Remove weights from tarts, spoon almond filling into the tarts and smoothen it slightly. Bake for another 10 minutes. 
3. Layer apples onto the tarts, press it down into the filling slightly, bake for another 15 minutes.

- Cover the tarts loosely with parchment paper to avoid over-browning. Check out my too-browned tart edges!
- If using fruits that do not require baking, bake the empty tarts for 30 minutes, spoon the filling in and bake for another 15 minutes. Brush the top with a light fruit jam and layer the fruits (strawberries in my case) on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Caffeine Sunday! Toby's Estate.

Toby's Estate is situated in a very scenic part of Singapore. With the clear blue sky on a lazy Sunday morning, large leafy trees framing the walkway and the (slightly dull yellow) river alongside, Toby's Estate has the perfect laid-back feel for a weekend breakfast.

My Cap (Cappuccino) was pretty strong, with the bold coffee aroma coming through quite nicely. I like. Both Toby and CSHH's coffee are commendable. Toby's a tad stronger than CSHH's version of espresso+milk though the latter is overall more fragrant.

The brioche was kind of forgettable, without the buttery sweetness that is signature of this bread. The ciabatta was crisp and good. However, the accompaniment to the toasts was disappointing. Jam taste like any other normal that you can buy off the shelves, marmalade was very watery, hardly even spoonable and maybe the vegemite is authentic but not to my taste.

The croissant (not pictured here) was good though. Even more layered than the one from Poulet, there were large holes in it, making it very flaky.

The eggs benedict and cinnamon rolls from neighbouring tables look good though. I might try that out next time!

Anyhow, go there for the coffee and the environment. It was a happy Sunday morning. =)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Caffeine Saturday! Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar

Seems like cafes are sprouting up all round the sunny island in the last few months. I returned from Malaysia, pleasantly surprised at the many new bakeries and cafes. Maison Kayser, Pauls, DonQ, Tiong Bahru Bakery, Bread Project, Kith, Forty Hands, Loysel's Toy, Wimbly Lu, Strangers' Reunion etc etc.. This is just off the top of my mind. I'm building up a list to try, try and try already!

With these in mind, I visited 2 cafes over the weekend, Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar and Toby's Estate. It's thoroughly enjoyable to go to new cafes, explore their concepts of lifestyle, attempts at differentiating their coffee, assortment of pastries, sandwiches and brunch menu. Cool. I could do this everyday. or so I hope!

Situated in an obscure part of Jalan Besar, you would not expect the place to be packed as it is! This is evidence of the growing cafe culture (and potentially start of the milk tea decline?). Other than the slight difficulty in getting there (Driving or in my case, cabbing, is most ideal), I must admit the name also posed some difficulties to my usually forgetful memory. Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar is quite a mouthful though very unique and therefore sticks in the mind. Btw me and my friends, we address is as the "Ah Huat cafe". There! now, its much easier to remember but when I tried to google for the address, it posed yet another challenge. Ha! Ha!

On the HOT Saturday afternoon that I went with the hubby (all photo credits to him and his new lens), the cafe was packed to the brim. It's basically so busy that we didn't try to take any indoor photos as we gathered it will be packed with heads popping all over. So.. all we have are the food photos!
Pistachio Cranberry Tea Cake $3
A layer of sweet crumble covered the top of the cake which made it subtly buttery. Pretty soft and crumbly, tasting lightly of pistachio, it was not bad. Suitable for a light snacky item though nothing much to shout about. Wish there were more cranberries and large pieces of pistachio for additional bite. Ask for it to be warmed if you are going to try this. 

Salami Sandwich with Taleggio Cheese, Olive Paste & Rockets $10
We totally enjoyed this sandwich. Love the savory combination of the tart olive, thick creamy cheese and slightly bitter rocket. The salami added the final oomph to the chewy foccacia. Check out the large pockets in the bread...I could eat the bread just on its own easily, infinitely! Also a rather large portion, do order for sharing so that you can enjoy other orders. Recommended dish from the staff is the meat patties and I see many patrons enjoying a heart slice of their brownies.

Milk with Espresso $5.50

The highlight of any cafe must lie within it's coffee! Since "Ah Huat Cafe" is under the wings of Papa Palheta, its key differentiation lies in it's quality of coffee. A large coffee bar is sprawled across the center of the room and interested cafe-goers can sit around the bar, watch the various baristas in their action and ask all the questions they want. The cafe prides itself in it's quality and beauty. I think my 2nd drink was pushed aside and made afresh as the barista is not happy with his latte art. I love the "pride in your work" concept. Kudos to the culture! My espresso with milk is indeed very fragrant and you can smell & taste the aroma of the coffee. One of the best coffees I had so far. If only I have easy access to this place, I would be in caffeine heaven.

It is overall a pleasant food and coffee trip; however with the crowd and hustle/bustle super-busy feel of the place, we were not inclined to linger. This is apparent across the customers as the in and outflow of customers are pretty fast! For a rather difficult to reach destination, it was slightly disappointing that we left so soon but there were already people standing right next to us (ala hawker center style) waiting for us to vacate. Probably a better time to go is in the early morning or late in the evening where you can indulge in the coffee experience and linger over their yummy sandwiches.

150 Tyrwhitt Road