All you need is Cake

Thursday, 2 May 2013

When I see friends posting self-made cakes and breads on various social media platforms, I have been tempted so many times to try to bake as well, especially when they mention how easy it is. I find cooking fun – but baking, for me, poses a big challenge.

I think it all came about because when I first tried my hand at baking, I started off on the wrong foot. Now we are all aware that recipes can appear easy, but the little tips and tricks are only known thru trial and error. My cakes always sink, and no matter how hard I try, I never could make egg whites fluff up the way the instructions require them to.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to experience first hand how to bake a Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake from scratch, I jumped at the chance, because it was an opportunity for me to really learn how to bake. Organised by Munch Ministry as part of Singapore Mom Bloggers’ 1st anniversary celebrations, we headed down to the newly renovated kitchens at the Civil Service Club. I dragged my mum-in-law along, so that she will be able to guide me along when I decide to attempt the cakes on my own in the future!

Our instructors, Pauline and Louisa of Munch Ministry, made baking seem like a walk in the park. They also gave us a few helpful hints and tips, which comes naturally to the seasoned baker, but not to clueless novices like me. They were really patient with us, and literally gave us step by step instructions on how to prepare the mix.

"Whatever it is you do, ladies - please do not attempt to follow what Regina does while trying to bake her cakes."
I never knew, for example, that when the egg yolks are separated from the whites, we must make sure that they are well and truly separated. Even the tiniest drop of yolk will render the whites useless, especially when we are attempting to make a meringue which is the main foundation of a chiffon cake. They also taught us that when working with ingredients, they should always be at room temperature unless stated otherwise.

My mum-in-law, the seasoned baker, also told me that eggs should not be cracked on the side of a bowl, because it may not keep the yolk intact for separation. They should instead be tapped lightly against a flat surface and eased open.

We were supposed to pay attention, but in between the egg whisking and folding in, we couldn't resist a super hiao-poh shot...

See No DIET, Do No DIET, Hear No DIET. Just give us CAKE!!

When we should have been doing this:

See... this is a perfect example of what we should have done!!
Anyways... we then made our way to our respective stations to attempt to do the cakes on our own.

All that whisking will result in toned arms. Bye bye batwings!

Ok, I lied. My MIL and Adeline did most of the work, while I went around on the pretext of taking pictures of all the other ladies who were present.

The gorgeous ladies of SMB. Some prefer to remain anonymous.
...and because I purposely disturbed them while they were trying to concentrate on their work, I received a mummy's warning from Liza.

Hell hath no fury than a woman with broken egg yolks.
I also learnt that whisking the egg whites should only be done after the yolks are done, because otherwise, the meringue will sink. This is especially important in traditional chiffon cakes, so as to ensure that the whites retain their texture and fluffiness and the cakes would not 'sink' when baked. However, the beauty of the Hokkaido cupcake (which has nothing to do with Hokkaido, anyway - apart from the fact that the original recipe calls for Hokkaido milk to be used) is that it is supposed to have 'air holes' in the centre, so that they can be filled with the cream. 

So soft and fluffy! Like clouds on a gorgeous blue day. I had to resist licking off the bowl. Some decorum must be practised because the MIL was there.
They We managed to finish in good time, no doubt helped by the MIL's seasoned hands. No time was wasted in trying to decipher and make sense of the recipe. I was actually quite awed at how easy it is, and thought that I could manage to bake this on my own, after all!

After the cakes are baked, we placed them on the cooling rack and proceeded to learn how to make the whipped cream and custard filling. One thing to note is that the regular custard which comes in a can and can be bought at regular supermarkets - won't work for this recipe. The one we used is creamy white, and has just the right tinge of sweetness and a slightly 'coarser' texture. The resultant cream filling is rich and creamy, without it being cloyingly sweet nor heavy.

Fresh from the oven!
After that, it was *my* favourite part of the session! I was tasked to fill the cakes with the cream... and that, ladies and gentlemen - I could manage!

I literally stopped breathing the entire time I filled those things!
I was impressed with the results. Baking never seemed this easy - and the ladies from Munch Ministry certainly showed me that it can be done by just about everyone. I got over my 'fear' of baking, because nothing beats practical work as opposed to simply trying to have a Pinterest worthy cake just off a recipe.

I mean, come on - look at this. They taste as good as they look! 

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes, made with love!
My baking partners for the day. I partnered, they baked.
(photo credit: Rachel of Catch Forty Winks)
Here are the ladies of SMB - who baked up a storm on a Saturday morning!
Thanks once again to Munch Ministry for making this session possible. They have baking and cooking classes every now and then, so do check out their site for more details!



  1. wow! i never knew there was a difference between cracking eggs on a flat surface and side of the bowl. i always crack my eggs the side of the bowl. thanks for the extra tip!

    1. Ya I also din know! I would actually be able to learn so much if I hung around the kitchens at her home leh!

  2. Drool. I want some of those cakes too!!

    1. Irene! MAKE! I'm sure you can lah... :)

  3. I didn't know the tip about the egg too but for me the best is to crack against the side of the table..the egg yolk will not be intact only if the egg is not fresh.

    1. I think it's also the pressure you put la. I cracked the first egg like bashing it up :D

  4. Replies
    1. Ya my birdday coming! hehehehe

  5. Lovely pictures! Nice to meet Caden finally.. I can't get over his hair and rosy cheeks!

    - Anonymous E

    1. Hahahaha!! The trademark carlipok hair! :D



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