Sunday, 29 March 2009

White Choc Cake with White Choc Frosting

I was flipping through my newly bought copy of the April 2009 Good Food magazine when I came across this recipe for hazelnut frosted white chocolate cake. I was immediately intrigued, because I've been looking for a good and easy recipe for white chocolate cake for ages.

Since I already had all the ingredients for the cake (not the hazelnut frosting) on hand, I decided to make the cake :D I used a different recipe for white chocolate frosting instead of the hazelnut frosting. (If you want the recipe for hazelnut frosting, leave a comment and I'll post it!)

White Chocolate Cake (pg 124 of Good Food UK April 2009, also the cover recipe)
  • 250g butter

  • 140g white chocolate, broken to pieces

  • 250ml milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 cups self raising flour

  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 300g or 1 1/3 cups sugar

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Heat oven to 160C. Grease and line a 23cm or 9" cake tin.

  2. Place butter, chocolate, milk and vanill in a small saucepan, then heat gently, stirring, until melted.

  3. Combine flour, bicarb and sugar in a large bowl, with a pinch of salt, then stir in melted ingredients and eggs until smooth.

  4. Pour batter into tin, bake for an hour or until cake is golden and skewer comes out clean. (This is very dependent on your oven. My cake took about 1 hour 15 minutes to cook well.)

  5. Cool in tin. Once cool, you can wrap the cake in clingfilm and foil and then frozen to up to one month.

I did change that last line a little - instead of cooling the cake in the tin, I left it to cool for 5 minutes, then took it out of the tin, wrapped it in clingfilm and cooled it on a wire rack.

Once it was cooled, I started making my frosting, using this recipe that I got from this website:

White Chocolate Frosting:

  • 100g white chocolate

  • 100g butter, softened

  • 225g icing sugar, sifted

  • 1 tbsp milk

Melt chocolate, then leave to cool slightly. Beat butter in another bowl till soft. Gradually beat in other ingredients.

Simple, isn't it?? :D It's really easy to make this cake. It barely requires any thinking at all!

Since I was lacking the chocolate, I had to use only 50g of chocolate for the frosting, but it didn't detract from the taste at all :D I did make a small mistake with the frosting - I'd used the chocolate when it was still too hot, so it melted the butter and made the frosting all wonky. I had to keep stirring the mixture for ages before it cooled down and turned into a far more useable state! Still, the frosting turned out pretty good, albeit a little difficult to use, and rather unattractive looking.

This amount of frosting just barely covered my cake, so I would suggest making more of it - maybe about 1.5 times the amount.

If you're going to make a double layered cake, simply double the recipe for the cake, and triple the recipe for the frosting. Well, I say triple the frosting recipe because I like alot of frosting!

Once the frosting has been cooled and set, you can finally cut into your treat and sample this white chocolate-y goodness!

The Verdict:
Ingredients: Much like the butter cake with buttercream frosting, this is very much a store-cupboard cake. Well, at least, it is to me! I usually keep a few bars of white and dark chocolate in my cupboard just in case I want to make double chocolate chunk cookies in the middle of the night.

Easiness: Like I said, you don't even have to think about it! Dump dry stuff in one bowl, dump all wet stuff except eggs in another bowl, melt wet stuff, pour that and eggs into dry stuff and mix, and there you have it! The frosting is a little more complicated than the plain buttercream frosting, but only because you have to melt chocolate, which is also really easy.

Texture: Very very good! It's soft and squidgy, incredibly moreish. Slightly crumbly, but then all of my cakes are always slightly crumbly. Why is that??? Anyway, it isn't dry at all. I'm not entirely sure it it's the recipe or because I did the take-out-of-tin-and-cool-it-wrapped-in-clingfilm thing. Actually, it's very moist - to the point where it's almost the sticks-in-your-teeth kind. Luckily, it isn't too bad. The crust is actually a little hard, but it's forgiveable, I guess.

Taste: Very good taste! It tastes creamy and milky, with that hint of white chocolatey richness. Despite the fact that I used less white chocolate in it, the frosting is very good! I think that the fact that there is less white chocolate means that the white chocolate taste doesn't overwhelm your mouth. (You know how too much white chocolate can get cloying sometimes ^^;) So really, it isn't too jelak! (Jelak = easy to get sick of)

I think I will be trying out this recipe again, just to see how it'll taste like if I make it double layered, or with more white chocolate in the frosting! :D

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Event Aftermath: Japanese Art Festival London

O_O I've just realised that I'd forgotten to post pictures of the Japanese Art Festival I went to nearly a month ago! Geez.....

Anywaaay! At the Tokyo City Promotion event that my friends and I went to on the 31st of January, we met Akemi Solloway, a very nice woman who is a Japanese language and culture teacher. She told us she was organising a Japanese Art Festival in Richmond and invited us to attend.

Originally, I hadn't planned on going at all, because I had scheduled myself to writing my dissertation that weekend. However, the girls on the forum were talking about it, and I was soooo tempted to go. I finally decided that I would go, when I saw on the website that they'd have takoyaki there :P

Here are pictures!!

This is what I wore:
Japanese Art Festival London 02

At the place, we helped a fellow IG-er get dressed in her absolutely gorgeous furisode:
Japanese Art Festival London 06

I was constantly fiddling around with her kitsuke :P It drove everyone nuts! By the way, in this picture, you can see my back, and also how well my zori matched my outfit :P
Japanese Art Festival London 13

I was quite proud of this! It was our first time tying a fukura suzume onto someone else, and I think it turned out quite good! :D Yaaaay! Uhh it's actually less lopsided than in these photos LOL!
Japanese Art Festival London 17

Later on in the day, Mel joined us! She was dressed gothic lolita style :D
Japanese Art Festival London 20

Our "trademark" maneki-neko pose :P
Japanese Art Festival London 21

"Do stupid poses! :D"
The result:
Japanese Art Festival London 26

Later on, our IG friend was in the kimono fashion show that Akemi Solloway hosted! She looked great :) There were many great kimono all around!
Japanese Art Festival London 41

Ahh, that was such a fun day! ^_^ Lol, we had alot of people staring, but there were also cosplayers about, so it wasn't so bad ;)

We did get to eat alot of things, like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, yakionigiri and tempura curry rice, with calpico to wash it all down. Yum, they were all delicious! Too bad we didn't take any pictures... We just wolfed it all down, cos we were so hungry! Hahaha XD

Ooooh one last picture! We got someone to draw caricatures of us! Can you guess who's who? :D (Click on the picture to go to my Flickr page.
Japanese Art Festival London 59

More pics here!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Rabbit stew

When I was in high school, I loved reading romance novels, particularly those set in medieval times. Most of those medieval romance novels would feature hunts and rabbits somewhere in the story. Thanks to those stories, I have always been curious about rabbit meat and how it tastes.

As of late, I have been reading many stories also set in medieval times, similarly featuring hunts and rabbit as food. After reading so many stories, I was hit with a sudden, intense craving for rabbit flesh.

Two days ago, I walked out to Waitrose for my weekly shopping. I was wandering through the meat section when I found that they had diced rabbit meat! Of course, I bought it.

Today, I had the opportunity to cook the rabbit meat. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, but I figured that since it was diced meat, not a jointed or whole rabbit, I may as well make a stew. So, I cooked a nice rabbit stew, using my favourite lamb stew recipe, but replacing the lamb for rabbit.

1) Coat rabbit in flour. Heat oil in a pot, and fry the rabbit till browned. Take rabbit out of pot, and set aside.
2) In the same pot, add a little more oil, then add roughly chopped onion. Fry till soft. I like a little hint of spiciness in my food, so I added three chopped chillies. Return rabbit to pot, along with carrots and potatoes (prepared the way you like it). Stir-fry it a little to coat everything in a bit of oil.
3) Add hot water till just covering everything. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 30mins. Stir at least once every 10 minutes, because the water will evaporate fast! Add more water, if need be. Simmer till the sauce consistency is to your liking. I highly doubt you'd need to add any flour to thicken it, but if you like it really thick, then go ahead, by all means!
4) Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

It turned out quite nice, I think. Of course, this is stew, so nothing much can ever go wrong with it! :D But surprisingly, rabbit flesh does taste quite good!

I've always heard that rabbit flesh is very similar to chicken in terms of taste and texture. You can throw that right out of the window. The flavour does have a slight hint of a chicken taste, but actually has a more game-y flavour. If I recall correctly, it tastes more like anteloupe than chicken. The texture, I feel, is a bit like a cross between duck breast and stewing beef (you know... beef that's too tough for anything but slow cooking), but slightly less tough. I will admit that the smell is a little odd, but you get used to it after a while. After frying the meat, it smells absolutely heavenly!

I know that some people would be horrified at the thought of eating bunnies, but honestly! Where's your sense of gastronomic adventure?? Besides, did you know that rabbit is higher in protein and lower in fat than other meats and poultry? Or that the cholesterol values are as low as or lower than other red meats and poultry? (I got that info from this site!) Delicious and healthy!

Precious few restaurants that I've been to serve rabbit, if any at all, but I think that if I ever have the chance to eat rabbit that has been professionally prepared, I will take it! After all, if it already tastes nice when I am the one cooking it, how delicious would it be if professionals cook it? Yum!

By the way, just a random note, but the pancakes I made yesterday? I had some leftovers that I kept in the fridge. For a quick brunch, I had them spread with butter and with smoked salmon. It was so delicious! The sweetness of the pancakes complemented the woody flavour of the smoked salmon. I only wish I had cream cheese to go with it, but I don't really eat cream cheese often enough to justify keeping a tub in my fridge all the time.

I think the next time I have leftover pancakes, I might try having it with mushroom pate and cold slices of roast beef or lamb! Yum~

Thursday, 26 March 2009


I was absolutely craving for pancakes today, for reasons I myself don't know. So, of course, I googled for pancake recipes, and picked the easiest one with the best reviews.

I'm never using pancake mix again. Seriously. Making them from scratch is so easy, and it tastes sooooo much better! Not to mention, my pancakes are far fluffier and softer than anything that would ever come out of a box! They came out a little too brown for my liking, mainly because I'd accidentally turned up the heat a little too high in the beginning. Still, it's good stuff!

I'll have to remember to make these for Patrick when he comes down to London. With honey, butter and fresh strawberries, and maybe some smoked goose too. Yummm~

Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar (I think I added a little more than that)
pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp veg oil
235ml milk

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the center, pour rest of ingredients into well, mix into batter. Cook pancakes as usual.

It didn't take me 5 minutes to finish making the batter, measuring, beating and all. Yum. I had them with butter and honey.

Speaking of honey, I decided to try a different type of honey. My favourite is usually Scottish heather honey, although chestnut honey comes in as a close second. This time, I decided to try New Zealand thyme honey. I'm still not quite sure if I like it or not. Sometimes, it tastes like wet shoes! It certainly smells like it, too. But the texture of the honey is very smooth... Maybe it's one of those kinds of honey that you use for cooking savoury dishes instead?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Outfit Snap: Casual yellow kimono

Casual yellow kimono, originally uploaded by shira.C.
Yesterday, I still felt like wearing kimono, so I took out a wool kimono I'd bought about 5 months ago.

I've always had trouble trying to match this kimono with anything, because I'm not the biggest fan of hanhaba obi with anything that isn't yukata, but this kimono is so casual that it looks odd with nagoya obi. I've spent months debating on what to match this kimono with, but as I took out this kimono yesterday, my eyes fell on this simple cotton hanhaba obi, and thought they'd look great together!

They do look quite good together, methinks. The yellow stripes on the obi match the kimono, while the orange stripes on the kimono match the obi. Not to mention the touches of green and purple on the obi to add a little colour to the outfit. It's still a little too low-contrast for my tastes, but it's good enough for a simple, everyday outfit! I can really picture wearing this in late autumn, because the oufit looks so warm ^^

I dressed really quickly, so my kitsuke is a little messy, but it was comfortable and not too warm, so I was happy! I did feel extra fat yesterday - I think it's because I've been eating sweet things constantly for the past week! Haha. I must've eaten two cups of sugar in total over the course of one week... *shudders*

Anyway, what do you think of yesterday's kimono ensemble? :) Any other suggestions for obi? I welcome all ideas! :D

Outfit Snap: Red, Black, White Challenge: Take 3

Yesterday, I decided to wear kimono simply because I haven't worn one in three weeks (three weeks!) and was absolutely dying to.

I had originally wanted to respond to the IG forums' "Yipes! Stripes!" Challenge, but I couldn't come up with a nice ensemble with the kimono I'd wanted to wear. Instead, I took out another old synthetic kimono, and wore that instead! It's vaguely stripe-ish, but not enough to enter the challenge.

The colour scheme was a no-brainer. I didn't even have to think about it! Red, black and white seems just so ordinary to put together now. The best thing about this ensemble is that, except for the fact that the kimono is awase, it's really season-neutral! Even the juban is season-neutral :D

Speaking of the juban, the one I wore is one of my new juban from a lot of 16 I'd bought ages ago. This one is an all-over print of false white kanako shibori on red. Isn't it cute??? :D :D :D

I'm thinking that the next time I wear this kimono, I'll wear a blue obi or something, to pick up on the very faint and pale colours of the kimono's pattern. What do you think?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Beautiful day~

Although the sky is not very blue, today is exactly the sort of day I'd described two posts ago, minus the buzzing insects :D I'm feeling very happy and at peace at the moment. I'm also feeling good about the fact that I've cleared up my room quite a bit.

I just had to take a picture of this flowering tree, that grows in the garden compound right outside my flat.

I don't actually know what tree it is, because I've never been anywhere near it to check, and even so, I highly doubt I'd be able to recognise it! :P My botany skills are zilch. Either way, I think it looks really pretty, and is a very welcoming beacon for when I'm walking home.

Since there still will be sunlight for another three hours or so, I think I might indulge myself a little bit and wear a kimono, which I haven't done in three weeks!

My Dream Kimono set!!

*gasps* Oh my word, I do believe I have found my absolute dream kimono!!! Ah, if only the kimono's base colour was cream!! Then it would truly be my no.1 wanted kimono of all time!

If I owned this, I would call it my Lord of the Rings kimono set. The mountain range and peaceful scenery motif of the kimono really makes me think of Lord of the Rings! I can't really say what scene it reminds me of at the moment, but the sleeve does make me think of the Valley of Imladris! The design along the hem makes me think of the Misty Mountains, perhaps being seen from afar along the Anduin, and Lothlorien, perhaps even Caras Galadhon in view at the side! *hearts*

The obi, with it ships and the sea, just reminds me of the Grey Havens, like when a new elf-ship leaves, and loved ones are left on the beach. Ahhhh <3

Sadly, I will never own this kimono set, because it's really really expensive! You know all those horror stories you hear about a kimono costing over a thousand dollars? This is one of them. Have a look here at the auction: CLICK!

Yeah... expensive. *sighs sadly* Ah well... I'll just have to be content with the scarce but beautiful pictures and maybe keep an eye out for a bolt of silk that may look similar to this, and test my sewing skills ;)

First Day of Spring!

Today is the first day of Spring! I must say, with the weather being as nice as it is (all sunny and warm, mmmm!) it really does feel like Spring has come :)

Whenever anyone asks what my favourit season is, it will always be Spring. Many of my favourite flowers bloom around this time of the year (sakura, wisteria, daffodils..) and best of all, it's the season for butterfly motifs on kimono! :D

But seriously, I do love Spring the most. What isn't there to love? It's that time of the year when everything comes out of hibernation! I love the feel of the air when everything is stirring and coming to life again. I love it when every week is a little warmer than the last. I love the smell of green and freshness in the slight breezes that pass by my window. I love the faint buzzing sound of insects in the background. I love the crisp, cool air and faint flowery perfume that wafts past my face as I walk along the paths in the park or garden. I love it when I open my windows to the bright, sunny afternoon, and let a slightly cool breeze into my room while I clear up and clean everything.

The one thing I love most about Spring is the peace that fills me whenever I take a break from whatever I'm doing to appreciate what I'd listed above. That pure sensation of peace that envelops me completely when I open my window wide and just sit by the windowsill, staring out into my backyard, enjoying the sun on my face and the homely sounds of insects buzzing and children playing in the background. *sighs happily* No other season ever makes me feel this way, except perhaps early and late summer.

If I could, I would live in England from March till July, and spend the rest of the year at home haha. Just so I will always be able to feel this peaceful!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


It's rather warm out today! It feels like forever since I've felt anything but biting cold everytime I open my window :) Now it really feels like spring! *happiness*

I'm still wondering what sort of kimono should be worn at around this time. Technically, it's still awase season, but it's feeling kinda warm... Although that may be attributed to the hot soup I've just had :P Perhaps awase would be good if the day were less sunny, and if I were out of the house all the time or something! :D

I have a piece of coursework due this Friday, another one on Tuesday, a presentation on the Monday after that, then my dissertation in three days after that. It's going to be a very hectic two (three?) weeks! I'm going to have to ignore kimono for a while, but I'll take heart in the fact that once my dissertation has been handed in, I'll be free to wear kimono as much as I want! :D Yay!

Okay, now back to work! Hehehehe.

Ling> Don't worry about my shopping. I haven't bought anything in ages, and I already have so much stuff I don't feel the need to shop! Besides, most of my energy has gone into cooking and baking recently. I've been baking cookies and that cinnamon-puff-pastry-stick thing like crazy. I'm going to be the size of a whale the next time you see me ;_; Already my face is breaking out over the sheer amount of sugar that's gone into my system!

Lots of 5 yukata on sale at YJA!

About a year ago, I'd bought two lots of 5 yukata on Yahoo Japan Auctions (see this post!)

I've just found out that the seller has once again put up a load of these lots of 5 for sale on Yahoo Japan Auctions! I'm very tempted to buy another lot, but I already know I have waaaay too many yukata, and that I'm not supposed to be spending money on kimono, so I'll restrain myself, somehow. Maybe by eating cake.... :P

These lots of 5 are cheap (about Y5000, although there are lots that cost about Y6800), and they do kinda look cheap too. From afar, they do look decent, but their low quality is quite obvious when it's upclose. For example, here are various pictures of my sister and I wearing yukata from my lots:

A nice striped blue one...

One of my favourites, a sky blue one with goldfish:

My sister is in another favourite, my only green yukata, while I'm in a nice red one:

See, they don't look that bad, do they? I feel as though some of them really do look cheap, but maybe it's just that I can't get the feel of the cheap material out of my mind!

Anyway, I just wanted to let people know that there are these lots up for sale, and to warn them that if they do buy one or ten of these lots, the yukata look and feel their price. I think that it would help alot if you were to wash them a few times, to get the stiffness out of the fabric. Once that's one, it'll look and feel alot more comfortable and less cheap :)

Just for anyone's information, you can see the sellers' pages here:
1) Link to adakinu_kyoto
2) Link to adakinu

^_^ If you buy a lot, please post a comment and let me see pictures when you get them and wear them! Hehehe.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Event Aftermath: Boxing Day Dinner 2008

Rather late (as usual), but I thought I'd post some pics of my Christmas holiday when I went home :D

On Boxing Day 2008, my dad decided to take us all out for a nice Japanese dinner where I can wear one of my kimono! :D I was so happy! It means that he's willing to accept that I will wear kimono out in public from time to time! ^_^ Although, I suppose it also means that he would feel better if I were to wear kimono in a setting he can control, but it's still one step forward from "You're wearing that out? Okaaay... Enjoy yourself!" ^_____^

Since it was Christmas-time, my sister and I decided that a green and red theme was to be a must. I only had one properly red yukata with me, so I once again wore the yukata I wore out to dinner last time (see post here). This time, I wanted to wear it a little dressier, so I added a ro juban, and wore a nagoya obi. For the green element of my outfit, I wore my dark green ro obiage and obijime set. I'm glad to see that set come into some use!

I also got to dress my sister in a yukata! She chose a green yukata, which I'd worn once on a "test drive". For her "red" element, we chose a red obi that's actually a little orangey. I rather like her outfit! It looks alot younger and more festive than mine ^^;; I look like an old obaachan, especially with my new glasses!

Both yukata are actually part of those two lots of 5 yukata that I bought. They were really cheap, and although they do look cheap as well, they're really comfortable and do look nice, don't you think? I'm glad I managed to get so much use out of them! :)

Here is a picture of the whole family at the restaurant :)

Left to right (upper row): Rommel aka Pot (sister's boyfriend), Petrina (big sister), Priscilla (me), Patrick (little brother)

Lower row is my mum and dad :)

Omg, when we first took that photo (the restaurant staff helped), the first thing I noticed is that my brother and I look so much alike it isn't even funny!! I mean.. We had the same dorky glasses, the same dorky smile... O____O This is the first time in like 10 years that we look anything remotely alike!! I think we can also see the family resemblance with my dad hehehehe :D

Next up is a picture of my sis and I standing outside the restaurant. In case you want to know, the restaurant is called "Iketeru" and is in KL Hilton.

Next is a picture of my sister and I outside the restaurant. This is a rocky sort of "tunnel" that separates the restaurant from the swimming pool on the 8th floor. It looks better than in the pictures, really!

This is how our backs look like. I think I tied our obi neater, but it somehow got messed up while we were eating haha.

I call this picture "Aquaphobic" :P Somewhere along the rock tunnels, there's this part that goes through a waterfall. We took this picture there :D I really like this one!

Later on, after dinner, we went to the cafe downstairs to have a drink.

That was an enjoyable Boxing Day dinner!

Before I go, I'll just leave you guys with a couple of pictures of some cupcakes my sister and I made for our church's Christmas Eve dinner! We made over 200 of these little cakes. I'm quite proud of how they turned out!

We baked alot over Christmas. I can't seem to find some of the pictures we took, but if I do, I'll be sure to post them! :D

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Butter Cake with Buttercream Frosting

It's taken me 7 hours from deciding to bake a cake to digesting my first slice and uplading photos. Since it's so fresh in my mind, and I doubt I'm going to sleep anytime soon thanks to a sugar rush, here is my post about the recipe.

I'd baked the cakes according to the recipe here. It took me about 45 minutes to bake each cake to perfection (i.e. not undercooked, brown on all sides, even rising, and not overcooked so that it's dry). It would've been faster if I'd baked 3 cakes instead of 2, but then I wouldn't have enough frosting. I suppose it also would've gone faster if I had more than just one cake pan :P

Here's a picture of the first cake cooling in its pan!

I took cake out of pan, washed pan, yadda yadda yadda, baked second cake. I did what was mentioned in the recipe: for each cake, I first cooled it in the pan for about 10 minutes, then I took it out and wrapped it tightly in clingfilm and left it to cool like that. I must say, the cake really stayed moist that way!! I must remember to employ that method more frequently.

I was desperate to finish making the whole cake in one night, rather than leaving it to cool then frosting it tomorrow, so I put the warm cakes into the fridge to cool *cringes* Yes yes, I'm a bad girl for doing it, but I was desperate!

Anyway, I followed the frosting recipe that was given in Bakerella.

Easy Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1b. 10X powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk, half and half or cream

Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth.
Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more.
If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture.
Then, just use icing colors to tint the frosting the color of your choice.

It's essentially the same frosting that we use for our cupcakes (see this picture) but this was easier to remember: one stick of butter with one teaspoon of vanilla, mixed, then one box of icing sugar. Easy! And absolutely delicious to boot :D

Here's a picture of the mostly-frosted cake:

Yeah, the frosting looks ugly, but I don't have a proper spatula to use, so I had to make-do with a knife, and I didn't actually have enough frosting to make prettier/deeper swirly patterns, so I'm stuck with this.

OH and the reason why the "plate" looks so weird is because it isn't actually a plate. I don't have any flat plates, and I didn't have any of those stiff cardboard cake-plate thingies, so I made my own. I cut a large circle out of a cardboard box (courtesy of my Il Bordello take-away dinner last night. The spaghetti carbonara was good, as always), then wrapped it in two layers of foil and one layer of clingfilm. I'm a little worried I might accidentally rip the clingfilm when I'm cutting the cake, but there isn't anything I can do about it now.

Once the frosting was done, I had to wait for it to set. In the meantime, I attempted to take "artistic" pictures :P

I love how this picture shows the texture!

In the background, you can't actually see it, but the laptop screen has the recipe on it :P

And finally, I decided it was time to cut the cake and reward myself with a not-so-little slice.

Aaaaaand more attempts at artistic photography! :D

I must admit, I do like that second-to-last picture. It really makes me think of home, for some odd reason! You know... A slice of cake on a plate, just waiting to be eaten. A laptop nearby, all set to be used. The rest of the cake sitting oh-so-temptingly in the background... All on a wooden table. All it needs is a mug or something! :D

Don't mind the weird colours of the photos.
Bad lighting + no flash = nearly sepia-like feel. I kinda like it! :P

Anyway, onto my review of the cake!

The Verdict:
Ingredients: Except for the butter flavouring, this recipe, being a very basic recipe, is something you can just whip up whenever you feel like it. If you are someone who bakes often enough, all the ingredients should already be in your store cupboard/fridge. :)

Easiness: It's really simple to make if you have a mixer. Even if you don't have a mixer, it doesn't take too much energy! It doesn't really affect the taste or texture, I think. The cake I made today was entirely by hand, and it was really good, anyway! :)

Texture: Very nice texture. It's a little crumbly, but not at all dry! That might change as the cake gets older, but I'll have to get back to you on that ;) Best thing about it is that although it's moist, it isn't so moist that the cake sticks everywhere in your mouth and on your teeth when you eat it. It's just perfect, in my opinion!

Taste: Excellent taste! Not too sweet, not too cloying, although the buttercream frosting can be a little overwhelming at times. Not as buttery as some (i.e. mum) might like it, but then again, I didn't add the butter flavouring. I'll add some next time, and we'll see how it tastes then :)

Will I use this recipe again? Most definitely! I will admit that this butter cake turned out nicer than the other butter cake my sister and I tried baking over the summer. Horribly dry with little butter taste, that one was. I think this recipe will now replace my old recipe as favourite basic recipe! ;)

Hey Ling, since you have the KitchenAid at home, why don't you try making this? I'm sure that Ma will loooooove it, especially if you add the butter flavouring! But bake it in a square tin, and don't put the frosting, otherwise the parents prolly wouldn't eat it ;)

If anyone else does try this recipe, please post a comment on how it turned out! <3

Butter Cake

I've been craving for a butter cake the whole day (having sadly forgotten the Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes Mel brought over yesterday), but I didn't have milk in the house, so I couldn't bake any nice, moist cake. Eventually, I got desperate enough that I asked James if I could take some milk from his carton.

Happily, I began to bake my cake, using a recipe I'd found from my newfound favourite baking blog: Bakerella!

Moist Yellow Cake

1 cup (about 225g) butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup whole milk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.
Grease and flour (3) 8 inch cake pans.
Using a mixer, cream butter until fluffy.
Add sugar and continue to cream for about 7 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added.
Add flour and milk in an alternating pattern, beginning and ending with flour. (I added them 4 tablespoonfuls by 4 tablespoonfuls)
Add vanilla and butter flavoring, until just mixed.
Divide batter equally into three cake pans.
Hold each layer about 3 inches above your counter and carefully drop the pans flat onto counter several times to ensure release of any air bubbles. This will help you have a more level cake.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (depending on your oven) until done.
Cool in pans for 5 - 10 minutes.
Remove and immediately wrap each layer in plastic wrap to seal in moisture. Cool completely on wire racks.
Once cooled, you are ready to assemble your cake.

I haven't actually finished baking it yet. I did make a few changes to the recipe: instead of whole milk, I used skimmed, simply because I didn't have whole milk on hand. I didn't have any butter flavouring on hand, so I didn't add it. I also didn't use store-bought self-raising flour, but instead made my own from plain flour, baking powder and salt, also because I didn't have any on hand.

The most obvious difference is that I used 2x 9 inch round pans, rather than 3x 8 inch pans. Obviously, the cooking time would be far longer - about double the stated length of time. Of course, I have only one cake pan, so I had to bake them in two batches. The second one is in the oven right now. I must say, the cake certainly smells heavenly! I can't wait for it to finish baking and cool down, so I can ice it and enjoy it :D I'll post again when the cake is done!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Cherry Pastries and Sugared Breadsticks

About 10 months ago, my sister posted pictures of some simple strawberry pastries she'd made at home at this post: clicky clicky! Later on, she posted the recipes here: CLICK!

Last night, my jar of morello cherries in syrup was about to expire, and I'd already eaten a bowlful of the cherries themselves and didn't want anymore. I just happened to have a roll of puff pastry that I was saving for sausage rolls, so I took it out and cut out squares, then put the cherries in the middle of one square, drizzled it with honey and sprinkled with sugar, and covered it with the other square to make a nice little pastry. I then baked it according to pack instructions (220C for 15mins) and it turned out really well!

It was definitely sweet enough, which I suppose is because the cherries were already in syrup. I think the sheer amount of sugar I put in helped alot too :P

Today, I had a craving for cinnamon breadsticks, so I went downstairs and made the next best thing: I cut strips of puff pastry, sprinkled them liberally with white sugar, then sprinkled mixed spice (my cinnamon powder had expired) and baked it for 10mins in a 220C oven. It turned out really well! The pastry rose high and became rather hard and almost biscuit-like, and it was sweet and lightly spiced and delicious. I have half a mind to keep a roll of puff pastry in my fridge all the time for this now!

.... So much for giving up sweet stuff. But in my defence, I haven't bought any sweet stuff since I made that promise!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Lord of the Rings

*sighs* I am afraid I have to confess that not only am I a Harry Potter freak (if you didn't know that already), I am also a Lord of the Rings, or rather, a Tolkien freak.

I'm not too keen on the books, because Tolkien's writing style seems a little too long and dreary for my tastes (but that was a few years ago, so I may have to revisit that thought!), but the world! The Tolkien world! My God, I had not known fantasy till now. If I thought Harry Potter was a world I can immerse myself into, the Tolkien world is so much better: I can absolutely lose myself into it!

I suppose the very pretty movies and their excellent soundtracks (*cough* and not to mention fanfiction) did help me alot in converting. :P Here's a little video of the Lord of the Rings trilogy movie bloopers which I've been watching. It's hilarious!

Hehehehehe XD

Arwen: *puts down sword* O_O ahhhhhhhh..!

Boromir: *opens mouth* ...... *chopper flies by*

*rofl* When I go out tomorrow, I'm SOOOOOOO buying the DVDs. I don't know where my copies have gone, but no matter! Always good to have more XD

*sighs* I'm such a fantasy dork... And I'm lovin' it! XD

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Event Aftermath: Tokyo City Promotion, London

On Saturday 31st January 2009, there was a Tokyo City Promotion fair in Westminster, London. Of course, we IG-ers had to go! :D

This is what I wore to the thingy:

It's my new blue yabane kofurisode! I absolutely LOVE my pink lily obi with it! I think it makes it look really bright, and the yellow accessories really make it "pop" :D

Hong and I put this outfit together with the Showa Kimono book in hand. We were hoping to have achieved that "Showa" look! Did we succeed?

Here are pictures of the 5 of us together :) Yeah, Mel came along, and we put her in a kimono too! What she's wearing is a wool kimono and haori set, with a yellow hanhaba that actually came with my UNIQLO red bunny yukata set. The kimono and haori ensemble used to be Hong's, but she didn't want it, so she traded it with me for the ensemble that she is wearing. I really like that kimono and obi set, but I could ee that Hong loved it so much more, so we just traded :)

Our trademark (:P) maneki-neko pose! XD

There was a kanzashi-maker there who was giving mini-demos and displaying his works. He actually allowed us to buy some kanzashi!! XD I didn't buy one, of course, because I don't use hair accessories often enough to justify getting one, although they're really pretty. This is the one that Mel got:

Yeah, Hong is actually the one wearing it, because it matched her outfit perfectly, while her kanzashi matched Mel's really well! :P

More pictures on my Flickr page XD And more pictures to come hehehe~~

Event Aftermath: London MCM Expo October 2008

I promised pictures of the London MCM Expo of October last year >.>""" Well, here they are! 4 months late, but they're here XP

First is the three of us (all in hakama!) and someone cosplaying Zetsubou-sensei from Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei ^^

One of the few photos we have of the three of us together!

This is me by the waters! I really like this photo - it really makes me think of the Meiji era! XD I was kind of aiming for the Meiji schoolgirl look, and this makes me think of a young girl overlooking a river in an era when Japan is modernizing! Oh, and you gotta love the parasol and the wind blowing through my hakama XD Some people on the IG forums said that it looks rather romantic, and I'm inclined to agree!

Haha, too bad it was so sunny! It was meant to be one of those "open the umbrella before the rain comes" kind of photos :P

This is Isla's kami-kanzashi (hair ornament) in the shape of a butterfly. Isn't it gorgeous?? She made it herself! Amazing, isn't it??

There are more pictures on my Flickr page, but I'm kinda lazy to upload them here :P So that's all for now for this post! Next up are some other kimono meet pictures hehehe...