CROISSANTS

Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms out there!!

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This Mothers' Day, I decided to bake croissants for my dear mommy who just flew back from the USA this morning! She's always flying there for business trips, which kind of sucks because I miss her quite a bit when she's gone, but I know that she does this so that she can provide for us. I'm just really thankful for her. I'm also very lucky in the sense that she's always been very supportive of my sisters and I, and she trusts us a lot and gives us a lot of freedom. She lets us grow and learn from our own mistakes, but will step in when things get too much for us to handle. She can also tell when something's wrong without us having to say anything, and she will always be there for us no matter how busy she is. Mother truly knows best; mother truly is the best. She also has this amazing habit of reading people and being able to tell the good eggs from the rotten ones. Which has led to her giving me tons of great (and 90% spot on) advice, about people and all the other little things in life. Ok I could go on and on about my mom but I'll stop before this post gets insanely long.

Okay so, croissants.

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Here as some lesser-known facts about croissant-making:

  1. You are going to use a hell lot of cling film.
  2. You will need to find something to do for four one-hour blocks, broken up by each turn of the dough.
  3.  One whole day spent on the dough itself, and another morning for the actual croissant-making. You will stop and reflect on what you are doing with your life and time.
  4. Exercise will take place in the form of constantly running to your fridge and back, and the constant dough-rolling.
  5. Flour and butter will go EVERYWHERE.

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The recipe I used is from topwithcinnamon, which I used primarily because of her amazingly helpful gifs! Her gif-making skills are terrific, and they were a good guide as to what to do at each step. They really made this seemingly-impossible task a lot more doable. Instead of making chocolate croissants, I decided to make Nutella ones as my mom is a fan of the chocolate hazelnut spread. I also halved the total recipe as I was afraid that it might turn out badly, and I wasn't very keen on wasting an entire bag of flour on a failed recipe.

BUT! In my application to Yale-NUS, I remember a question that went along the lines of "What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?", and I wrote that I would make croissants, or something to that effect. Well, I finally did and I wouldn't say that these are fantastic, but they are not a failure!

Bless. I'm definitely going to make these again, some time in the near future (before I start school!) and when I do I'll probably make a huge batch of dough to freeze and use when the croissantspiration strikes! You see, they weren't kidding when they said that croissants are a labour of love and in a few months, I'll have the love but not much time to labour...

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I'm not going to post the recipe here as I normally do due to the very minimal changes I made to it. In fact, the main difference between this and Izy's croissants is that instead of the 1 tbsp of chocolate chips, I used 1 tsp of Nutella instead. Anyway, I'm sure the gifs accompanying the recipe will be a lot more comprehensive than anything I could write, so here's the link to the recipe:

For the dough + basic croissants For the chocolate croissants

Artistry x SAM

What was meant to be a regular brunch turned into a rather artsy-fartsy day. We met at Artistry, one of our favourite cafes where I waited for about half an hour for his arrival (but it's ok because he brought a portable charger which had juice for me hehe). Had a nice chat with Sue and Gerard while waiting, though! The Artistry staff are really lovely people, and this is just one of the many reasons why I love this cafe so much.

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They had only just started doing this piece of art the day before I came, but it looks great already - I can't wait to see the finished product!

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And of course, I had their Peanut Butter & Jelly french toast! I had been craving it for ages, and it was an amazing feeling to be able to satisfy my cravings! This is definitely one of the best french toasts in Singapore, no doubt about that. The layer of peanut butter and jelly in the middle is simply divine, yet the toast itself retains its moist, eggy texture. The berry compote is a great accompaniment, as is the vanilla ice cream and the speculoos crumble. I just wish that ice cream didn't melt at such a rapid pace in our hot and humid country.

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Darryl had the baked eggs which were oh-so-spicy but also oh-so-creamy-and-good. I should have let it cool a bit before taking a bite though, for I could practically feel smoke coming out of my mouth because it was so hot.

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Raspberry-and-mint-infused water!!

Had a great chat over food and coffee, and we went to buy some dance stuff for Darryl before heading to the Singapore Art Museum (SAM)!

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We also visited the new exhibition at the Queen's Street branch of SAM, Imaginarium! It was mostly about children and their imagination, and it really made me miss my childhood quite a bit. Although I was never quite the imaginative kind, it was nice to look at these artworks and draw bits of inspiration from them.

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One thing about my childhood though - I never did learn how to ride a bike properly. Like, the two-wheeled ones. Ooooooop. I do wish I didn't have to rush off for an interview that day, but no matter! Darryl also told me about a few more art exhibitions around Singapore so I might take a day to go and visit all of them.

Soon, soon.

Coast and Company x FatCat

So today, Alex and I went all the way down to the East to strike off two places that have risen quite high on our to-go lists!! My transport luck was terrible this morning, though. First of all, I missed my bus - the only direct bus to that part of the East for me, and although SG NextBus said that the next one was coming in four minutes, it never came. SO. I decided to try out an alternative route, but I got off a few stops too early and had to re-route. On the way to my new bus stop, I saw the bus that I was supposed to take leave. So I hopped onto a random bus for a few stops before I decided to take a bus to an mrt station that I kind of knew my way around (Kembangan), and find my way from there. Well, I made it in the end - after a lot of walking from Kembangan. Sigh, the East. The journey is never well.

That being said! The food at both Coast and FatCat was worth it - although I was pretty sad to see that the sour cream toast had been taken off the menu, for Alex and I were both really looking forward to trying it. Instead, we had the smoked salmon brioche toast and almond peanut butter toast, both of which were pretty darn good.

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The coffee was ace as well. Which was a relief, because I was so afraid that the amount of walking I did would not be justified by a substandard cup of coffee. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

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After a good first brunch and chilling session, we made our way to FatCat Ice Cream bar - somewhere that had been on our to-go list ever since it opened because of all those darned Instagram photos of those charcoal waffles drizzled with salted egg yolk sauce and the myriad of ice cream flavours available ranging from the classic to the mysterious.

(Seriously though, there is a 'Mysterious' ice cream flavour - Alex tried it and it's truly a FatCat mystery, for she cannot tell you exactly what it is after tasting it)

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We were first in line. This was the queue as we were leaving, and we left at like 12:50 (the shop opened at 12). We got there at 11:30 due to our earlybirdiness (is this even a word) and by the time 12 rolled around, there was a really long line of people waiting (even more people than what you see in the photo above) and we were so proud of ourselves for being the first. We even took a selfie to celebrate.

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Anyway, the Gourmet Waffles - yes, they deserve that capitalisation. They're that fantabulous. We had ours with butterbeer and hay-and-honey ice cream.

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The wait - and the journey - is worth it. The fifteen-minute wait for our Waffles was probably one of the most agonising waits ever, as we were so excited to try this special thing and well, our expectations were surpassed. Isn't it lovely when you look forward all year to try something and it ends up being even better than you imagined?

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I think half-eaten shots are our signature photos.

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Everyone can do with a little bit of salted egg yolk sauce in their lives. The sauce was very grainy, much like those found in liu sha baos (which are truly some of the best things ever). I think my terrible pouring skills didn't manage to cover the whole Waffle in that sauce very sufficiently - thank goodness there was a generous amount of caramel surrounding the Waffle, with some of the most delicate bits of lavender. Truly Gourmet food.

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(Not gonna lie, we kind of went crazy with the photos.)

Cafe-hopping mornings with Alex are the best mornings :'))) The ambience at the two cafes we went to were actually quite different - pretty interesting. Coast and Company was incredibly chill and peaceful, while FatCat was bustling with people right from their opening - they've really become so popular in such a short span of time. The only gripe I have with FatCat is that there seems to be no 3G in there...? But it's not quite their fault! (Singtel please). I would love to go back to FatCat sometime soon - I actually thought it was a lot more accessible than Coast and Company, for the walk to the main road is a lot shorter, thus making it a lot more convenient.

Anyway, we've got our next Eastventure planned out already, and I can't wait.

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2. Peanut Butter Nutella Loaf Cake

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Ah, one of my favourite days of the year. World Nutella Day falls on the fifth of February, and is truly a cause for celebration. Started up by Sara from Miss Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso, World Nutella Day brings Nutella lovers worldwide together. Nutella is a symbol of my childhood. I grew up with Nutella, heck, you can practically say I grew up on Nutella. I remember watching Kids Central when I was five and the Nutella commercials would play, and I would most probably ask for a slice of Nutella toast after that. Simple Nutella toasts were my breakfasts for years, and as I grew up they morphed into Nutella Banana Toasts, Peanut Butter and Nutella, Nutella cakes...

You get the idea. I love Nutella.

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Nutella is incredibly versatile. For proof, just head over to the World Nutella Day website where you can stalk the array of recipes at your disposal... And for the record, they all involve Nutella. Nutella is powerful. Who knew that a simple Chocolate Hazelnut spread could have so much influence? Nutella bonds people. If you, dear reader, are a fellow Nutella lover, I can tell that we are going to be great friends. Thank you, Pietro Ferrero and son, for your contribution to the world. Thank you for Nutella.

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So, in honour of World Nutella Day 2015, the second instalment of Loafs of Love is a cake involving a healthy dose of Nutella! You see, Peanut Butter and Nutella is one of my favourite combinations, and I love to have either of them with sliced bananas on toast. So I thought, why not make this into a loaf cake?

Unfortunately, my first bake yesterday didn't quite turn out, for (I believe) I took the cake out too early, which resulted in a mooncake-like texture and taste. It wasn't the best. Also, I suspect it was a poor combination of too many things going on at once that led to disappointment. What a pity, for it was a beautiful cake.

So I tried again this morning, albeit with a different recipe. Yesterday, I was debating between which recipe to use and I went with the one that included bananas as none of my banana recipes have gone wrong so far but hey, I guess there's a first time for everything. This cake has no bananas, not because I was afraid to use them but because I conveniently ran out of them at home, which was just as well.

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What I like about this recipe is the inclusion of a .75 cup of buttermilk. It gives the cake a tangy flavour to it, and a nice tender crumb, thanks to its reaction with the leavening agents that produce carbon dioxide, aerating the cake.  Think (good) red velvet cake - the texture and moisture of a red velvet is partially attributed to the addition of buttermilk! I've learnt to keep an extra pack of buttermilk on hand, just because it's simply so versatile and beautifully enhances the flavours of a simple cake.

Also, instead of the usual butter, I used olive oil in the cake. Yes, olive oil. The original recipe called for coconut oil, but I didn't have coconut oil on hand and I was a little doubtful about the coconut. Personally, I'm not too big a fan of the taste of coconut anyway, although the recipe assured me that the taste of coconut would be completely masked in the cake. I used extra virgin olive oil, for it has the lightest flavour and it's even healthy! This also allowed the primary flavours of the cake to come forward and shine. The use of oil over butter also contributes to the moistness of the cake, something I greatly treasure in my baked goods.

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Anyway, back to the Nutella. It being World Nutella Day, it was important not to skimp on the amount of Nutella involve, hence I just dolloped tablespoons of Nutella on the cake. There's even a layer of Nutella inside the cake! This cake is best served with a glass of milk, and with that I highly, highly recommend that you have this cake with a glass of fresh milk on the side.

In fact, I insist that you do. For this cake is just ten times better with it. The milk elevates it to a whole new level, for it somewhat offsets the heaviness of the peanut butter. This is especially important if you're using crunchy peanut butter, because I suspect it was the use of crunchy peanut butter that contributed to the density of this cake. In fact, please try to use creamy peanut butter, if you can. It would probably make life a lot simpler. But have the milk either way. Please.

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Peanut Butter Nutella Loaf Cake Adapted from here

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 0.75 cup buttermilk
  • 35g light brown sugar
  • 25g white sugar
  • 85g peanut butter (crunchy or creamy, but i recommend creamy)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 0.25 cup olive oil (or any vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil, etc...)
  • 188g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of salt (optional!)
  • lots of Nutella

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and grease your loaf pan.
  2. Whisk the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl. (if you need me to spell it out for you: egg, buttermilk, brown & white sugar, peanut butter, vanilla extract and oil)
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to the large bowl and stir. Do not overmix!! The consistency will be reminiscent of your peanut butter. According to Averie, that's okay.
  4. Pour about half to two-thirds of your batter in the pan, and using a tablespoon, dollop Nutella atop that first layer. Eyeball it. When you think you've dolloped enough, spread it around so that it roughly covers the first layer of cake batter. Then, pour the remaining cake batter over the Nutella layer. With the tablespoon, dollop about three large spoonfuls of Nutella atop that. Using a chopstick (although I've heard that a toothpick would work fine as well), make swirls of Nutella.
  5. Bake in your preheated oven for about 45 minutes! Be careful when using the toothpick test here, for it came out clean for me at 30 minutes for my cake yesterday (which used roughly the same ingredients and method) even though the cake was not properly baked through yet.
  6. Cool in your pan for about 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling off.
  7. Serve with a glass of milk. Please do, or you might be missing out on some of the best things in life.

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