In search of the perfect Vanilla cupcakes.

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I get a tad defensive when someone starts referring to a person as ‘Vanilla’. Meaning to say, that she or he is boring, plain, yawn, nothing out of the ordinary. I just don’t see how ‘Vanilla’ is related to the description.

Vanilla is ANYTHING but boring. It is delicious – (dare i say) even better than chocolate (oo, i’m so daring lol) . It is even used to perfume chocolate, which in itself is already regarded as the CREME DE LA CREME of desserts. Adding vanilla to chocolate simply elevates it to a heavenly level. Vanilla is not boring.It’s Angelic! Vanilla is like the spice girl the spice girls never had. Pour moi, Vanilla is EVERYTHING in the baking world.

Anyway, i haven’t made any new friends since i last posted. The few that i had went away for summer holidays and i’ve been filling up my time with gym, food , random Snapchat updates and ofcourse, netflix. Out of my boredom i have also managed to “come up” with a vanilla cupcake recipe that i can be happy with for now.

Vanilla cupcakes

Despite being one of my most fav things in this whole wide world, Cupcakes are still my nemesis. I’ve never been able to master the technique of making them. My first go at them was 6 years ago and i had used Magnolia’s recipe for Vanilla cupcakes. They had turned out hard and inedible. I may as well have been frosting Baulu. Fast forward to 2015, I had a craving for Red Velvet a few weeks back and attempted baking them – also failing miserably. Following this, i concluded that one should never to follow a cupcake recipe that calls for OIL. Even if it claims to produce the most-dense-moist-rich-cupcake- in the universe DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR IT and don’t say i didn’t warn you. I really have no fucking idea what magical cupcake world these bakers live in, but it certainly NEVER works in the real world. Tried, tested and failed.

Anyway, even after all the trouble, I still haven’t given up hope in finding and making the perfect Vanilla cupcake recipe. Desperate, I decided to follow this video to a T.

No. the lady is not ‘Joy’ from Joy of Baking. lol. I’ve always thought ‘Joy of Baking’ was a book named after a person named ‘Joy’..but it’s really not. It is what it is.

It seemed easy enough, it uses simple ingredients and instructions weren’t as complicated as some that i have seen which requires ‘egg whites’ to be ‘folded in meticulously’ in to the batter. So complicated and unnecessary, that the recipe may as well have read ‘masukkan tia puteh talor atu dalam ani, menggaul tah kau mcm gila bayi, inda jua mau jadi’.

Kapskex

The cupcakes were almost a success. The frosting recipe is full proof, but the cupcakes came out dry at 177 degrees Celsius with cracked tops that looked like my chapped ‘transition weather’ lips. I then decided to test bake them at three different temperatures: 160 , 165 and 170 degrees and as i had expected, 160 is the optimum heat for MY oven. I guess it depends from kitchen to kitchen, oven to oven, a recipe can be the same but the results may vary. In the second time around, I substituted the milk with butter milk, decreased amount of flour,and added more butter to the batter, overall increasing the fat content to achieve a denser, richer, moister cupcake.And voila! my perseverance paid off.

The tweaking produced a cupcake that i can be finally happy with: sort of fluffy, sort of dense, sort of moist. But it could also have been: less sweet (the icing), more vanilla-ey…….i think that’s it. There’s definitely still room for improvement but i was just happy at the fact that they actually looked like cupcakes! for the first time in my life! i made cupcakes! lol. I don’t know if i’m in the position to give tips, but based on my experience, i think i will anyway:

So far, the secret to Vanilla cupcakes are:
1. Dont over mix the batter. Once the flour is in, treat it like you’re pulling out strands of hair tangled to a hairbrush. Untangling it too quickly might just hurt.
2. No OVEN is the same. Play around with oven temp.
3. SIFT THE ICING SUGAR to yield frosting that would be smooth as freshly powdered baby’s bottom.
4. Make sure you know what ROOM TEMPERATURE BUTTER looks like. Youtube this. (tres important!)

I’m exhausted just writing this entry! If only baking was a piece of cake. It’s not, and you will only get better with time and a lot of patience. Much like life itself. Alternatively, to save you the trouble, you can just buy a cupcake. Money is the solution to everything.

Anyway, i’m going to go and have a bagel for lunch now. bcos im a hey fatty bom bom, sweet sugar vanilla cupcake.

kiss me.

Entering title

Geneve

A house with a view, that isn’t mine. The landscape reminded me of Luang Prabang. Only I’m in Europe, where the air isn’t as heavy, roads aren’t as manic and the food slightly more palatable.

There’s not much to complain but i do miss the company of good friends, family and friendlier faces.

It’s wedding season and three of my good friends are getting hitched this month. It’s really unfortunate that i can’t be home to celebrate with them, feeling extremely left out of the festivities I wonder how many more of these things will i miss?

blah.

Uber Uban

I googled “Brunei Melbourne” and several of my old blog posts showed up on the results page. Clicked randomly, and i was redirected to a blog post dating back to 2/8/2008. It’s like the universe is plotting to remind me that i would be turning 30 in a few days time. I don’t really like reading my old posts as most of them are cringe-worthy. Typically, I would usually just eye ball the page until i get to a picture or and old youtube video that i really like. Anyway, what caught my eye in this particular post is how i began the post by writing that “i have turned 17 and that i have another year before i can drive.”

The numbers just didnt add up. I’m pretty sure i was older than 17 in 2008 AND if it was ANYTHING that i can do, it was DRIVE. Also,if i was 17, in 2008..shouldn’t i be less than 30 in 2015? As i scrolled down the pages, it finally made sense; I’ve always celebrated every year of my birthday by turning 16..and 2008 wasn’t an exception. lol.

I was simply staying true to my age-defying skills. Anyhow, what really struck me is the fact that i have been lying about my age online for more than a decade. I remember the first time I started turning 16 every year…. i was only 18…and now…

i’m 30.

THIRTY…pretty trippy.

where did the time go??????
where have i been???
what have i achieved??????
what’s going to happen next???
WHY AM I NOT A MILLIONAIRE YET?????

I woke up today to the realization that the white streak in my hair is aged-induced..and not the delayed results from the use of cheap shampoo and rebonding procedures in my teens.

*gulp*.

sakkueyyyy…sakkueyyy…

Ok. let me just take some time to reflect (and listen to Back Street Boys) on this and i will revert with a more calm and collected post.

What i listen to these days.

In the car, i like to tune in to “Fun radio, le son dance floor”. i think it means, Fun radio, the dance floor. or something like that. there are two versions of the radio station. One plays alot of pop and the one i listen to plays mostly dance songs or pop songs that have been remixed to death. i like to call it: ‘fun radio, le son euro dangdut’. europeans like dancey tracks. and now, i kinda like it too. in moderation. some tracks that come on are just tres cringey. macam lagu ani:

ok. i admit, if i knew how to find the other channels on my ‘abang abang radio’ , i think i’d be listening to other stations that plays real music. but for now. in the name of convenience, let me le son dance floor! wooo *shakes hips left right* *fist pump* *fist pump*.

It’s an abang abang radio, because its one of those radios that you would find in car.. like a suzuki swift that has been modified to look like a mini cooper. lol. it has blue back lighting with words in digital font. the kind of font you’d see in a ticking bomb. hahaha. and i love it. i love my kereta buruk. it has everything and it gets me everywhere.

turning 30 in a week.

LE SON DANCE FLOOR!!

not……

edit: i google translated ‘le son’ and it actually means ‘the sound’.

Fitnah

What do we call a person who loves to spread Fitnah?

Cross-FITNAHter. hwahwahwa.

Unfortunately, someone closest to me became a victim of fitnah and i realised that this is something you wouldn’t even wish upon your worst enemies. Thank god, to date, i have been lucky that i’ve never been on the receiving end (or the one spreading it), but from what i’ve observed it can be pretty intense. mcm how the fuck do you bounce back from a fitnah? how do you prove to people that you’re not in the wrong? so you’ve decided to become the bigger person and choose to say nothing.. how do you sleep at night knowing that somebody out there is spreading fitnah about you and not Nutella?

mental ku eh. barat mata memandang barat lagi bahu memikul. org yang memfitnah atu siok plang eh..kikik kikik ya meliatkan giginya, puas atinya sudah ia MANANG…turunkannya sudah sleeve bajunya, ani kan sambung tidui ia takutnya nda sampat bangun sahur.

haha. but eventually, it will pass. let’s just hope it passes as quickly as it came.

folks, this is something that you shouldnt play around with. defaming others with baseless accusations. making up stories from thin air. a wise woman told me a long time ago.. something along the lines of never to deprive others from their fortune or rezeki. this probably falls into the same story line. it’s one of those things that you should really really stay away from. Why put people’s lives in jeopardy like that?

the way i’d approach it, if i have a problem with that person, its either i ignore their existence completely unless ia mengacau aku OR if it’s something no longer tolerable, ku bawa tia kali duduk bisai bisai menganyam bakul. but hey. that’s just me. i’m confrontational like that. not confrontational in the way that i seek to crush and destroy but more of trying to understand why this person is acting the way that they are. this would be better than going ape shit and spreading lies.

[mun ia nda kan paham paham jua..bah maritah..BETATAK tah tani…aku pasang kuda kuda ni sudah. kek tapak kuda, 5 roll. semua bekacang. buruk tah gigimu ni…]

baik plang betikam ni daripada main fitnah fitnah ani. so yes. beumpama tah ku kan cerita ani, i now seek protection from fitnah in my daily doas. not just for me, but for my family, friends.. and you, reader of this post.

Selamat Hari Raya in advance everyone. Maaf Zahir dan batin.

ok. i will see you in court.

(squash court)

abientot.

Topik hari ani adalah Kurma.

Assalamualaikum selamat berpuasa *lirik lirik mata perasahan cute*

Topic hari ani adalah mengenai kurma, dan saya akan mulakan blog post ini dengan bertanya kepada kamu semua; APAKAH JENIS KURMA KEGEMARAN KAMU?

Kurma kegemaran saya adalah Kurma Mejdool kerna texture nya yang lembut seperti memakan dodol. Mungkin namanya sebenar adalah MejDODOL.

Selamat berpuasa semuanya.

(i have ran out of things to say in Malay)

My friends: Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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I’ve been craving for Chocolate chip cookies since i got here. Sure, gourmet chocolates are in abundance, pastries and breads but American desserts or at least the generic stuff that we’re used to like brownies, cookies, cupcakes are really hard to come by here. Particularly good ones. I think it was only quite recent that American inspired cafes started popping up in the city, and it seems that the bagel and cupcake wave is here to stay. I guess, I’m just going to have to wait a while until they’ve matured to the quality that i’m accustomed to 😛

I came from work exhausted, napped and woke up to the sun setting at 10pm. Because it was a Friday night, i decided to have a delicious conversation with my new housemate, Kitchen Aid. I got out my leftover salted European butter from the fridge (well here it’s just called butter) an egg , some flour and a bar of Varlhona from the pantry and browsed the web for a chocolate chip cookie recipe that uses salted butter.

I love salted butter, i grew up eating kueh-mueh made with Golden Churn..even after the controversy, it stays in the family like an adopted sibling. Unfortunately, i have not been able to bake with it as much as i want to. My enjoyment for baking with salted butter can only be fulfilled in certain baked goods like banana cakes and pastry dough for my portuguese eggtarts. I tried using them in my brownies but it failed to rise to the occasion. Read somewhere that the salt content may not work well in some recipes. Still, i like to keep some in the house, for those days when i crave for salted butter + Kaya on toast or salted butter on white rice + soy!!!!!!!!!!!

The way they’re sold here in grocery stores is interesting. In Brunei the unsalted butter are always labelled clearly on their packaging, here, it’s the other way around.. although i’m not quite sure since the labels are in French or Dutch or BOTH (like having them labelled in both French and Dutch would make it any easier for a foreigner kan?), but i have an inkling that unsalted butter is just ‘butter’ whilst the salted ones are clearly labelled. I need to get back to you guys on this. I’ve just bought a block without a label.. will let you know if my speculation is on point.

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Another thing that confuses me is the fact that i have not once seen Belgian baking chocolate at my local Carrefour. I found some Valrhona ones the other day, but they’re French, not that i’m complaining but i just think it’s a little bit odd.. its either they really dont carry them in normal grocery stores..or it’s my deficiency in the French language.. for all you know they’ve probably been staring at me from a section of the grocery aisles calling out to me in French, “Mademoiselle siti, cest moi!!!! le chocolat pour baking!!! ” and i’ll be like “Ai….kacang”.

Come Alive from Syazwana on Vimeo.

I love me some quality baking chocolates and i personally think that the best way to enjoy them are in chunks..be it in brownies or chocolate chip cookie and ice cream. You can’t really appreciate its quality when you’re incorporating them into cake batters. I also prefer using them in all-chocolate baked goods, the ones that are meant to be chocolatey in texture macam mousse kah.. pudding kah..those molten lava cake things kah ganache kah… So anyway, that’s exactly what i did. i chopped them up and folded them into my cookie dough mixture, chucked them in the oven and 7 minutes later i made myself a new group of salty-sweet-chocolatey friends, took pictures of them, tagged them on instagram and happily devoured them with a tall glass of milk.

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I adapted his recipe, changed the ratio of caster to brown sugar ever so slightly and they came out wonderful. I didn’t include any nuts in the recipe but it could’ve benefit from a sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon. The recipe’s also a good base for other flavoured salted chocolate chip cookies.. an image of matcha cookies with white chocolate chunks just popped up in my head as i’m typing this.

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I had left over dough and decided to make some more this morning in two batches using different cooking times – because i don’t have a life.

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The one with longer cooking time yielded a crisp textured cookie whilst the ones cooked slightly under stayed soft and gooey. I loved both. ok. i’m going to go talk to myself and follow the political developments of the #LGBT Movement in the Republic of the Kardashians.

Oh Bruce!

Happy weekend.

I’m a Century Gothic.

I’ve changed fonts. I’m reaffirming my commitment to blogging. Soon you’ll be seeing pictures, 6 second videos, double rainbows and flying pigs! Holla if you see me in Century Gothic. I’m a fan. Although, some people would take me for a Comic sans Script. I understand its essence, but the presentation is the tackiest of all fonts.

Century Gothic is probably a font that resembles my handwriting the closest. It also gives the impression of a neat and organised author, who comes across as serious tapi sebenarnya, inda. Like a shift dress, its versatility can take your look from day to night #banaitahtew lol. I like to think I’m every inch of a Century Gothic, but unfortunately, I’m only half neat, never organized and half the fun that I used to be, which really would make me HALF A CENTURY GOAT CHICK.

Since moving to Brussels, I’ve only started getting into a routine again. The last three months were a challenge, everyone talks about how wonderful it is to get posted but no one ever mentions the harshness of trying to adapt to a new environment, especially in the first few months – which I have now coined “posting blues”. I left Brunei on a high only to be dragged down by the European winter. I think I’ve touched on the challenges of transportation in my last post. Aside from weather, mobility, the language barrier, loneliness has a way of creeping in.

Fortunately with time, things have gotten a little better around here. I’ve started Bikram again and have been dragging myself to go every day after work. I’m in my fifth day and I’m already feeling alot better about myself. Between hot yoga and running, honestly I’d stick to running, but this tropical gal is not used to running against chilly winds.

Then I’ll drive home, make myself dinner, shower and fall asleep with whatever random Netflix movie playing in the background. Thank god for Netflix. I love Netflix. I love it. Love it love it. I think I’d die without it.

I’m looking forward to June just so that I’d have a new selection of things to watch. I’ve been staying home to watch TV so much that I’ve covered most of Netflix from A-to-Z including the Kids section. I finally saw the Prince of Egypt the other night. Following this, I’ve seen all the documentaries related to the book of exodus, bible, Egyptian Pharaohs the works of Aristotle and alexander the great (don’t worry, aku masih Islam, Alhamdulillah). Haha. But yeah that’s what happens when you put me in front of streaming media, once I start, I cannot stop. It’s like a sickness. It’s the same on YouTube, I know when I’ve reached the dark side when I can tell you the story of how Ayah Pin (the cult leader) was brought down by the Malaysian government. Hahahaha. I should really channel this obsessive compulsive behaviour to something that is more meaningful..macam…. macam…..*garu garu kepala*.. If I knew I won’t be spending so much time on YouTube and Netflix.

Oh. ya ah. Aside from that I’ve also been keeping myself busy in the kitchen. A craving for a Zinger was ultra-strong today. Belgium does not have KFC by the way, but they do have something similar called Hector and it’s just as delicious. Hector has been my psychiatrist since I arrived, prescribing me with daily painkillers of crusted fried chicken with a side of fries and drink. Comfort eating has never been this easy. Though it has been almost a week since I ditched him for a new therapist by the name of Bikram.

Anyway, going back on a diet isn’t as easy when you’ve spent three months of drowning your sorrows in fried chicken. So naturally today, I was craving for it. But I turned to my trusty air-fryer instead and made a healthier version of a fried chicken sandwich.

Airfried chicken sandwich

Didn’t really have an exact recipe for it. but I sourced inspiration from here.

One thing I love about living in Europe is the abundance of good butter and the wide variety of fresh bread. For this recipe, I used golden brioche buns, chicken was rested on a bed of spinach and cherry tomatoes topped with a dollop of peppered Kewpie. One thing I’ll do differently next time is to brush the battered chicken lightly with olive oil instead of coconut oil before popping it into the fryer.

I also took the liberty of brining the chicken breasts first. I’m always careful when frying chicken breasts in the air fryer as the end-product could come out dry, tasteless and FOWL.

Hahahaahahah this is why I’m COMIC SANS SCRIPT. Urghh.

Anyway, goodnight.

I’m going to start something.

I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet. But it’s going to be something. My thoughts have been bugging me to write frequently. But I’m not sure how appropriate that would be given my circumstances. Unlike a teenager or a university student, I don’t exactly have the same freedom to write whatever I want without being given shit for it. But I’m sure there’s a way out of it. I’m sure it would be ok if I was to just stick to non-work related stuff. Inda kan atu jua inda dapat kan? Is there anyone out there who would criticize me for writing about how the other day I was honked for taking up too much lane space kah or how the other day the butchers sent me home with free sprigs of coriander sama mint? Maybe I think too much. Maybe I care too much about what people say to the point that it stops me from doing the things I love to do. I’ve been documenting my life ever since I was introduced to the concept of journal keeping. I think it was in 1995. I was in primary 5 then. Mom bought me a diary with a nice lock on it…on a second thought perhaps.. I should keep this thing locked? haha. I think too much.

So ok.. how have I been settling in? I’ve started cooking again and gaining weight (again). I think I’ve gained a total of 10kgs since I arrived Bruxelles. Apart from forcing myself to go to Bikram Yoga I’ve also been trying to avoid sugar at all costs (and miserably failing) mcm rasanya kan ku putung ni tangan ah. Just this morning I had a Portuguese egg tart and 2 pcs of ‘biskut london’ …i only had two pieces pasal the rest i had all to myself a week ago. antah bagas raya tahun lapas kali ampai2 di opis. nyaman jua. di makan jua. ampai ampai tia pebaik lapas raya tahun 1991…ku makan jua tu.

Sunyi disini ani. I don’t have that many friends. I know I should be out making new friends but it’s not as easy as you would think. I’ve never had problems making friends before but it has proved to be a challenge when you live half an hour outside the city centre and you need a car to get you everywhere. Unlike New York, Melbourne, Singapore…all other great cities of the world, a car is a necessity here. Pebaik tah kan membali barus gigi ataupun barus dawai arah kadai runcit sebalah. beguna jua masih kereta. Yep. Macam di Brunei, but on un-subsidized fuel hehe.

I’m still getting used to driving on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD and in MY lane. Don’t get me started on how small the lanes are in this country. It’s so small… you wonder how they are allowed to DRIVE CARS in the first place. and then you have the hook turns. hook freaking turns. I’m familiar with the concept. it was a ‘thing’ in Melbourne too. It’s where you drive slowly to the middle of the road (remembering to stay in your innie minnie teeny weeny lane) and turn in to the simpang of your dreams when there’s no more oncoming traffic. Between focusing to stay in my own lane and anticipating the right time to turn.. honestly, I’d rather be donating blood. Same level of anxiety. Tapi at least di hospital, aku inda kana HON.

Such a paloi practice. but I guess if it saves up the government’s money by sticking to the 3-coloured traffic light saja… I GUESS IT’S OK. I GUESS LAH. GUESS. I’m not sure, but I’m just GUESSING………………………*takan hon kuat kuat* …mahal bah indicator arrow kekanan atu.. arrow kekanan sudah $1…arrow kekiri sudah $1 bagi lampong lagi $0.50 #banaitahtew tau tau yang menghon ani bebayar jua.

I’ve had my car for almost a month now. I can drive to Carrefour and Bikram. Carrefour is this world’s version of Huaho. It’s not pronounced as CARREY FOUR (like how ive been pronouncing it in the last 5 years of my life)..but KAR-FU. French tah jua banar. I’m just sick of being corrected all the time. like the English language, the same arrogance is applied to French.

Take the word BOBOI for example. No, it isn’t BO-BOY. It’s BO BWAAAAAA.. *magic fingers* . And just when you think you’ve got the hang of reading French. Guess what. No, madame. You don’t. The other day in the car, I saw a sign that read ROCHE BOBOI.. thanks to Ferrero Rocher, I thought I had in the bag. My mistake was to have read it out loud. Hehe.. ROSHEY..BOBOY.. driver turned to me and went..’its Bo BOA huh!’. And then there’s the french and their HUHs …they sound like they’re asking questions all the time. Mcm “huh?”, ” Huh?” ” Kau nda tau? Aku lagi inda tau”.

But yeah this whole french pronunciation dilemma, it can be a tad patronizing. Haha. So sometimes, just to fuck them up balik, I like to respond in my most poshest English accent. Even if ITS MEANS I’M TALKS LIKE THIS, JUST MAKES SURE YOU ACCENT IS ENGLISH TO THE POWER OF 10000 HORSE POWER.

Easy.

I hope to write again soon.

Ok. A bientot (the T is silent in this one cause there’s no vowel at the end, mana saja lah pak yoU).