For the last six months I have been travelling between Sydney and Singapore, visiting my Lil’ Bro who has undergone quite a dramatic life-change; moving to Singapore (post-HSC) for National Service. Although there was initial worry for him, in terms of adapting to such change, Lil’ Bro took the challenge with a determined and positive attitude and recently graduated from his Basic Military Training.
The final challenge of this component of his service was a 24km route march from the Training Centre to the majestic location of the Floating Platform at Marina Bay, which is surrounded by the beautiful icons of the city. Following this gruelling but what Lil’ Bro describes as an emotional and breathtaking march, symbolic of their 10 week intensive training, the ‘recruits’ take part in their ‘Passing Out Parade’ (shortened to POP) where they are met by their family and friends.
This event was highly anticipated by my family, however my suspicions are that I was the most eager of all. The night before the POP, I set numerous alarms to ensure that we would be able to secure front row seats for the best photo opportunities – I was out of my bed at 4.00am. My parents and aunt were amused by my eagerness, especially when we ended up being the first to arrive at Marina Bay although I insisted that we were already arriving very late!
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’!