Part Time Course at Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia

Life has so few surprises left that sometimes we need to venture out of our daily routines to learn something new and unexpected. In mid 2015, I decided to join a part-time course at Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia, which took up 12 hours per weekend for 12 weeks. Continue reading

Baking Corner: Cotton Cheese Cake

Cotton cheese cake  (also known as Japanese cheese cake) is my favourite cake! I would constantly go into the fridge to have one slice of it. It is the only cake that I would actually eat more than one eighth of the cake. As much as I enjoy baking, I don’t really have a sweet tooth. This cake is smooth, creamy and light, so it creates the perfect balance of satsifaction in my mouth. I baked this cake over the weekend and there’s only one third of the cake left in the fridge. Yummy!

Two techniques to note when baking this cheese cake is the the double boil method and the beating of egg white.

  1. I just realised recently there’s a difference between double boil and water bath (explained here). Although the recipe calls for double boil method (for cheese and milk mixture), I have been using the water bath method. Either way, this is to ensure that the mixture is not directly in contact with the pot.
  2. Beating egg whites is a critical step in recipes to trap air and create lightness. Under beating or over beating will result in a dense and flat cake. To know that the egg white is beaten adequately, use a spatula to scoop a small portion up. If it does not drip (like a viscous liquid), it is adequate and you can continue to the next step (adding sugar). A trick is to bring the egg white to room temperature first. You can get more volume with room temperature egg whites.

On my first few times of baking this cake, I realised the surface of the cheesecake always crack after baking, resulting in unpleasant looking cakes. The cake tastes just as well, but from a OCD point of view, it bothers me quite a bit. In my opinion, visual appeal is quite important in serving cakes. I found out that the best solution is to bake it at low temperature for a longer period of time. As all ovens are different, so if the cake rises too high too quickly, reduce the temperature accordingly. Keep an eye on the cake at all times to prevent cracking.

If the surface of the cheese cake breaks, don’t worry! Take the cake out from the oven when it is ready, remove the baking pan from the water bath. Set it aside and let the cake cool inside the baking pan for about ten minutes. The cake should shrink and the cracked surface  will close up a bit. After that, remove it from the baking pan to avoid moisture build up at the bottom of the baking pans.

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Cotton Cheese Cake

Cotton Cheese Cake
Cotton Cheese Cake

Ingredients (made on a 9-inch springform pan): 

For the filling

  • 250 g Philadelphia cheese
  • 250 g milk
  • 90 g butter
  • 140 g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 69 g Hong Kong flour
  • 20 g corn flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preliminary Method:

  1. Prepare all ingredients and placed them in separate bowls.
  2. Line the base and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 140’C.

Methods:

  1. Double boil cream cheese and milk over hot water.
  2. Stir occasionally until cream cheese melts completely, or until mixture turns smooth.
  3. Add diced butter into the mixture until it dissolves completely.Let it cool for a couple of minutes.
  4. Mix egg yolk and stir quickly to combine well.
  5. Combine the HK flour and corn flour. Sift the flour into the cream mixture in several additions.
  6. Mix well between every addition to avoid lumps.
  7. Stir in lemon peel and leave the mixture to cool.
  8. In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  9. Pour sugar in egg white mixture and beat until stiff peaks form.
  10. Fold in several tablespoons of egg white mixture into cream cheese mixture for about 10 seconds.
  11. Pour the mixture in Step 10 into the remaining egg white mixture. Fold until even.
  12. Poor the mixture into a baking pan. Place the pan into a larger baking tray. Add hot water into the tray.
  13. Bake for about 60 minutes at 140’C.
  14. Chill in the fridge for about 3 hours before serving.

Recipe adapte from Christine’s Recipe 

Chocolate Oreo Cheese Cake with Oreo Biscuit Base

I started baking with cheese cakes. The first few cheese cakes  I made was so terrible that it’s hardly even called a cake at all. But there’s something positive about hitting rock bottom – you can only climb upwards from there. I made a few basic cheese cakes before, but when I had a taste of oreo cheese cake a friend made for my 21st birthday, I knew it had to go into my ‘to bake’ list. The list is only getting longer and longer and… I need volunteers to eat my pastries!

One fateful Saturday, I decided to bake an Oreo cheese cake and I thought; why not have an Oreo biscuit base instead of a standard tea biscuit base. Then, I asked myself – what’s better than a cheese cake? I’ll tell you, a chocolate cheese cake with oreo! So that’s where the “Chocolate Oreo Cheese Cake with Oreo Biscuit Base” idea sprung to light.

Just kidding.

What really happened was that I improvised when I realised that I bought chocolate Oreo biscuits (with chocolate cream filling) instead of the original Oreo biscuits (with white cream filling).  The cream had to be removed for the base of the cake. Not wanting to waste it, I added it to the cheese cake mixture and it worked. As the cream is already sweet, no additional sugar is required.

I’ve always wondered how much cakes cost, so I estimated it with breakdown as follow:

  1. 2 packets of chocolate Oreo biscuits for RM 6 (£3). I wish that I had bought more, so that I can saturate my cheese cake with more Oreo biscuits. I had to sparingly arrange it such that every slice would have a bit of Oreos.
  2. 3 blocks of Philadelphia cheese for RM 30 (£6). I baked this on a 9 inch springform pan, and 3 blocks give a perfect ratio of 9:1 of filling and base.
  3. 45 g of Luprak slightly salted butter for RM 2.50 (£1). One block of butter is 200 g for RM10.
  4. 150 g of caster sugar for  RM 1.50 (£0.50).
  5. eggs for RM 1.50 (£0.50). Depending on type and range, a dozen of eggs cost about 5 ringgit.
  6. 1 tsp of vanilla essence.

So there you have it, it costs about RM42 or £11 on a 9-inch springform pan. The price is not a direct conversion from RM to £, but rather the estimated cost of ingredients in Malaysia and UK. When cut into 8 even slices, one slice is estimated at RM5 or £1.50.  And we paid for cheese cakes at bakeries at least triple the price. *cries*

Anyway, here’s the recipe: (Pssst: It tasted awesome!)

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Chocolate Oreo Cheese Cake with Oreo Biscuit Base

Chocolate Oreo Cheese Cake with Oreo biscuit base
Chocolate Oreo Cheese Cake with Oreo biscuit base

Ingredients (made on a 9-inch springform pan): 

For the base / crust

  • 16 chocolate Oreo cookies divided – crushed.
  • 45 g butter, melted.
  • 1 tsp sugar / honey

For the filling

  • 3 x 250 Philadelphia cheese
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2.5 g vanilla essence (1 teaspoon)
  • 8 oreo cookies, chopped.
  • 16 Oreo chocolate filling

Preliminary Method:

  1. Prepare all ingredients and placed them in separate bowls.
  2. Line the base and sides of the springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 140’C (base) and 180’C (filling)

Methods:

For the base

  1. Separate the chocolate cream from the Oreo biscuits. Leave the chocolate cream to the side.
  2. Put the Oreo biscuits in the bag and crush it till it’s fine.
  3. Melt butter in pan on low heat and coat the crushed biscuits until evenly moistened.
  4. Press firmly on springfoam pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.

For the filling

  1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla essence with electric mixer on medium speed until well-blended.
  2. Occasionally scrap down the side of the bowl for even mixing.
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat well after each addition.
  4. Add in chocolate filling and beat.
  5. Reminder: Do not overbeat. Batter should be smooth, light and airy.
  6. Remove springform pan from fridge. Pour filling into the springform pan in three addition.
  7. For every addition, mix in the quarter Oreo cookies to your preference.
  8. For the final addition, arrange the quarter Oreo cookies such that some of them will be above the filling (pic above).
  9. Bake for 45 minutes @ 160’C or until centre is almost set.
  10. Cook for 3 hours in fridge or overnight.