I must sheepishly confess that this blog really has become an ‘inter-semester’ space. This semester was one of the most challenging and the thought of blogging was sadly displaced. Seeing that 2016 is drawing to a close (extremely quickly), it might be apt that writing be added to my the new year’s resolutions list.
As a peace-offering for neglecting this space, I propose a special recipe of sorts on the eve of beginning a three-week internship. Granola bakes are my go-to therapy when I find time in semester, but more so when the storm of law school has cleared and the holidays have arrived. There is something rewarding about the strengthening aroma and warmth as the timer ticks away on my beloved toaster oven and the droplets of granola crunch into gift boxes (if not a cereal bowl). Essentially, #granolaislife.
In an unassuming corner of an old-time ‘Kopitiam’ aka Singaporean Coffee Shop usually selling local fare, there is a glass counter, commercial oven and a young entrepreneur running the show. This is the physical extent of Nicher Bakery. The reason for the simplicity of the business is ingenious; the increasing amount of cafe/restaurant competition growing in Singapore but more crucially in Tiong Bahru. You can read about the story behind this business venture here.
What I found most interesting was how such a simple concept was still able to bring so much to the foodie community. I’m not entirely sure just how many Pound Cakes and Muffins are churned out everyday, but their freshness is maintained by glad-wrapping each loaf individually before boxing them.
We resisted the temptation of buying anything after our lunch at Flock Café and quick stop off for the sell-out Tau Suan dessert stall in the iconic market, but admired how successful and original a simple idea could involve into.
With a few upcoming Christmas parties, we thought that the Pound Cakes would make the perfect presents or contributions to pot-luck! Mumma rang up the bakery on December 23 hoping that they would be open for a pick up on Christmas Eve….alas they were and a large order was put in. One of the cakes we had wanted to order was originally unavailable, but Melvin, the brains and baker behind the venture very kindly offered to bake another batch for us which would be available at the end of his working day.
So Mumma may have been slightly enthusiastic in her Pound Cake ordering….
After each semester has come to an end, I instantly enter kitchen/baking mode while trying to organize numerous meetings with my dearest but ‘long-time-no-see’ friends. Believe it or not, I was an avid violin student for the twelve years which span from primary to the end of high school. Over this time I both Mumma and I formed a strong bond with my teacher. Each holiday I look forward to morning teas with her and her son, the cutest kiddie one will ever meet!
This meet up, Mumma and I were pondering upon the numerous morning tea options we could provide… Muffins from Cre Asion, Devon…. until…..through the gift of photo uploads Facebook, we decided to take the challenge and bake our own Pandan Chiffon Muffins. My Singaporean background means I have grown up with this distinctive and unique Asian flavor which I love so much.
A quick round up of ingredients, perhaps a secretive purchase of an electric whisk and an hour or two in the kitchen resulted in my first batch of Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes*. My heart was mildly fractured when I was unable to achieve the airy consistency of chiffon and troubleshooting led me to realize that I had made the rookie error of beating insufficient air into the egg whites. <face palm>
Nevertheless, due to the integration of fresh pandan leaves the flavor made up for this and the denser ‘kueh**-like” texture was rather enjoyed at our morning tea. It was a catch-up that we were all reluctant to end, however the challenge to create the perfect or rather ‘better’ chiffon still weighed heavily in my mind.
That afternoon Pandan Chiffon: Take 2 began. The final result was as I had hoped for but alas I am no chiffon expert. Visually it looked much better and the distinct Pandan aroma blanketed the kitchen. Might I say that ‘practice makes … almost perfect’!