Ja-pan literally translated from Japanese to mean Japanese or Japan bread or could also relate to the absolutely hilarious, punny (funny), and genius show called Yakitate!! Japan.

I am absolutely in love with this anime show about a tensai-pan or bread genius boy whom is passionate about bread making and tells of his story in wanting to create Japan's own bread to call of their own.

It's just too funny at times that I can almost die several times over from laughing at their over-the-top reactions, elaborate antics, crazy expressions and outrageous situations. What more could one expect from an anime that explores the world of competitive bread making and celebrating the lives of ludicrously but extravagantly portrayed bread artisans.

I'm almost a third way through with the show but I believe that it can only get better from here on till the end. Stay tuned for an update on this review.

Well I finished watching the whole 69 episodes show of Yakitate!! Japan and overall I was satisfied and amusedly entertained throughout its entirety. Absolutely fun show to watch as the play on the Japanese words and phrases was used a lot resulting in many a crazy situations. There was not much suspense in the show as what other animes usually have but the multitude of pop culture references, parodies of other animes and even themselves, and continuously breaking the fourth wall with comedic and pitch perfect effect was what kept the show alive and different from other food-related anime shows.

I was just a bit disappointed with how the show ended as the last 3-4 episodes is actually not based on the manga and so it didn't feel like a proper ending to the series. The final episode was actually a bit of an anticlimax and I think the producers of the anime could have done a better job of wrapping up the series if they had worked a bit harder at tying up some loose ends. Even though the 69th episode was the last one, I felt that they actually left quite a wide opening for a continuation of the show if they wanted to.

The manga continued on from after the third last battle of the breads so there is a lot more to go and explore for the Japan team. I'll be looking forward to more madness from Kuroyanagi aka Kuro-yan, hilarity from Kappachi Kawachi, and geniusity from Azuma-kun!

I feel quite inspired to throw myself back into bread making but that horrible first time that I tried handling yeast was enough to set me back a few. But maybe with this show I'd be able to rekindle my love for bread and try it again. Hopefully I will soon enough and I'd be sure to blog about it. Just thinking of those yummy looking breads in the show like the many-layer-croissant, butter margarine roll, melon-pan, naan-pan, and lots of other different types of bread that you couldn't even possibly imagine.

cuppy cakes

In light of graduation week at University of Melbourne this week I decided to be indulgent and extravagant and made death-by-chocolate cupcakes for two of my lovely friends who graduated today and the other to be graduating tomorrow.

The recipe comes from Su Yin once again and took literally minutes to come together and popped into the oven and came out smelling awesome and looked delicious. The dome cracked a little perfectly and the texture was light and fluffy without
being too sweet or dense like some cupcakes can be, which resemble more of a cake type texture.

After letting the cupcakes to cool down I melted down some Nestle Dark Chocolate Melts in the microwave and slathered them on top of the cupcakes and some I even created a shallow cavity in the cupcake and filled them up with the chocolate. Once cooled, the chocolate actually hardened up and when bitten into, it feels like the cupcake has a hidden chocolate piece filling.

The finishing touches after the frosting and slathering was some liberal sprinkling oficing sugar to give it that fancy look and for a bit of colour even though it is white.

I'm not really much for absolute chocolate cupcakes or muffins but they do look pretty I have to admit. I will be trying out more new cupcake recipes and making my own frostings and ganaches in due time.

fruit cake cookie

I'm not sure if one would call these tiny munchies fruit cake cookies but they do taste like a piece of fruit cake but in a more compact, crunchier, and denser like form. The recipe came from this site, much thanks to Su Yin and her lovely recipes, which I modified a bit with taking some liberties in the additions of mixed fruits and slivered almonds and the non-addition of chocolate chips simply because I didn't have any. Embarrassing I know.

Well I have been on the ball with the cookie baking frenzy taking over me again and this was what I came up with. But it's also due in part to needing to finish up my baking supplies before I return to KL for a break and I really can't buy any more baking products so that is why for the lack of chocolate chips which is a shame really.

Anyway, back to the cookie. I decided to make them smaller than the average cookie because of the many ingredients in it. Also I actually expected the cookie to spread a lot more once they were done but it didn't. Nevertheless the taste test proved that it was still good and fit for consumption and surprisingly turned out to be somewhat festive too in its appearance and taste-wise.

Fruit Cake Cookie

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened margarine
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds (slivered or chopped roughly)
1/2 cup dried fruits (diced if they are not chopped up already)

1. Cream sugar and margarine till fluffy.
2. Combine egg and vanilla with mixture till just come together and same consistency. Don't overmix.
3. Combine the rest of the ingredients into the batter.
4. Shape the dough into rounded balls and place them apart about 1 inch on grease proof paper.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 180 C for 10-15 minutes till lightly golden brown on top.

Makes about 4 dozen small bite sized cookies.

I quite like these ones but I can't help thinking how much a difference it would have made if I had included those yummy melty chocolate chips in them if I actually did have them. Sigh. I might try them again but will use chocolate chips and maybe roast the almonds as well to give the cookies a nuttier flavour.

anzac biccies

Here's a very simple and quick ANZAC biscuit recipe I used today but altered slightly.

The finished product came out a bit chewier than usual ANZAC cookies are supposed to be I think but that's only probably because I couldn't wait to try one of them babies. I think I actually prefer them chewy than their usual crunchiness that you get from store bought ones. But they'll likely to firm up when they cool down later.

ANZAC Biscuit (altered version from this site)

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup melted margarine
1 tbs honey
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbs boiling water

1. Combine the rolled oats, flour, sugar with the melted margarine in a big mixing bowl till they just come together.
2. Combine the honey, baking powder and boiled water in a small bowl or mug till they are dissolved.
3. Combine the dry and wet mixture.
4. Roll the dough into round shaped and of equal thickness balls and flattened lightly and place them about an inch apart from each other onto greased baking paper.
5. Bake them in a preheated oven at 180 C for 20 minutes till they are brown on top.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies depending on the size and shape.

Crunchy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, filled with oaty goodness, with just enough sweetness to not overpower the honey taste. These yummy morsels of oaty honey-ness are a keeper.

quiche for a cloudy day

With almost nothing much to occupy my time with except for books and movies, sometimes you just need to liven things up a bit with some haberdashing of ingredients and throwing them together to see what you can get out of them.

Thinking of what I should eat for lunch I scrounged my refridgerator and the pantry and procured these items:

Last two sheets of puff pastry
Soy milk
Half a package of shredded tasty cheese


Then just for sheer fun and the heck of it, I decided to try my hand at a quiche dish with these few ingredients. I have never even looked a quiche recipe before but I think just at that time I figured out not too hard that a quiche was basically just beaten eggs combined with whatever other items you liked in it.

Mini Me Quiche

5-6 eggs

2 tbs milk (soy or light will work fine)
Finely diced 2 cloves of garlic and a small onion
1/2 cup shredded cheese (tasty, parmesan, mozarella will likely work fine)
2 rolled out and thawed puff pastry sheets

1. Cut the sheets into shapes that will fit into a 12 muffin case tray. Ensure that the sheets cover the base and around the sides of the holes so that the pastry dough reaches the lip of the hole.
2. Crack the eggs into a medium sized mixing bowl and beat together with the garlic and onion.

3. Add the cheese and milk and continue beating the mixture till it looks a shade lighter than when you started. Don't overmix till it becomes pale or fluffy.
4. Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 holes trying not to overfill them.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C for 20 minutes turning the tray halfway through to ensure the heat is distributed evenly.
6. Let cool for few minutes as it will deflate a little when cooling down.

I had mine accompanied by some warmed up baked beans sprinkled with paprika and pepper and barbecue sauce goes well with this as well.

I'm still contemplating on my next foray back into the world of sweet pastries and confections. But with my ever expanding waistline that could be put on hold for a while.

muffin tops

Whee! Hooray for muffin season! Well at least for me that is. It's more like exam season but yeah whatever. I've been on a muffin streak this past week even though it's been quite a stressful and trying time for myself because of the exams and all. However, baking is the only thing I know to de-stress myself from the hectic week of holing myself in the library and coming out for light and food every now and then in five minute breaks.

The first batch of muffins for the week, which I made last Tuesday was adapted from Culinary in the Desert's Doughnut Muffin recipe. They came out pretty good and smelled awesome and my friends liked them but I think I sort of grew out of chocolate chip muffins and thought it was rather plain and lacked something more substantial to spice it up. I should have added some sort of roasted almonds or walnuts for that nutty flavour to round the muffin up. The texture was good and rather like a scone slash bread. I think I prefer more complex flavours which combined citrus, nutty, salty and something sweet in my muffins.

The following is my altered version from the original:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil (I used vegetable oil.)
1 egg
3/4 cup skim milk

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, mix sugar, oil, egg, and milk.
Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened or stop when there's no traces of flour left. Be careful not to over-mix.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin tin to about 3/4 full.
Bake at 180
°C for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Today's freshly baked batch is my take on Elise's banana nut muffin, which I tweaked a little by substituting the walnuts with some leftover milk chocolate chips. These gave out the most sensuous and delicious aroma or bananas and chocolate chips I've ever had the pleasure of smelling and tasted even better! Love the texture of the muffin and the flavourful taste with every mouthful of it. I always love the combination of bananas and chocolate chip as previously I had made also with a banana and chocolate chip "Monkey" bar. I'm definitely keeping this recipe in mind for any special occasions coming up.

This is my slightly altered version:

3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (I reduced it from 3/4 to compensate for the chocolate chips.)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda (I used baking powder. Maybe that's why my muffins didn't expand and crown as much.)
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Mix melted butter with the mashed bananas in a large bowl.
Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Transfer the banana mixture and combine them together until no traces of flour is seen.
Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over-mix.
Divide mixture into prepared muffin tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done.

Both recipes for today yield a dozen muffins each.

test drives

It's been quite a busy, busy week for me but I managed to squeeze some baking moments into my schedule thus far.

The first is a chocolate pudding cake which has not failed me thus far and has been immensely successful wherever I bring them to. The photo doesn't do justice to this single bowl of mix and bake and then eat from it cake, but it looks rather like some moon craters or something rather than an intense piece of chocolate goodness with gooey chocolate topping. Mmm.

Following that, I learned a new recipe from a friend for a bread/scone like pastry which has only three basic ingredients as its base. I don't know what they're really called but I think I'm going to dub them Mayo Bread. They're actually quite good plain but to spice things up a bit you can do what I did as follows.

1 cup self-raising flour + 1/2 cup milk (low-fat or no fat is fine) + 2 tbs mayonnaise

After combining the above three ingredients, you can add whatever you like into the mix. I used dried fruits and sultanas in the first one and the other one has cocoa powder mixed into it and I topped the dollops of dough with a huge marshmallow on each of them.

Since they don't have any sugar at all, the dried fruits + sultanas one turned out the better batch while the chocolate + marshmallow one didn't really have much taste to them unless you liked marshmallow. The next day the marshmallow one sort of turned quite sticky and looked quite mushy to me. I don't think I'll try that one again. Perhaps chocolate chips next time.

I just baked this little beauty today and the smell is still wafting in the apartment. Absolutely lovely and I am just in love with bananas this season. They're just too cheap to miss out at my local fresh produce market and I've been stocking up on them.

These are called Monkey Bars because they're denser than the usual banana bread or cake. A bit more like a brownie like cake but with banana and chocolate chips instead. I'm pretty pleased with this, not because of the fantastic aroma and taste though they are really good, but because these don't require too much butter as well. I substituted the butter for margarine and they came out great and also the baking soda for baking powder because I didn't have any soda. I don't think the changes I made affected the bars because they taste wonderful.

Hopefully when I bring some to tomorrow's service, my friends will think that way too about the Monkey Bars. Again, my gratitude to the lovely Baking Bites for the two recipes featured today and here's to more great recipes in future!


This is going to be more like a two in one blog posts where there's food and actual people involved in this post for once.

Last Sunday night that had come to pass was our dear Selena Tsay belated surprise 21st birthday celebration. We all received invitations to actually dress in our best clothes even though we were only going to be having the shindig in darling Pammie's place who so kindly offered her place for us to crash, dine, and basically mess up. But we love you, Pammie dear so no hard feelings for those carpet food and drink stains.

Anyway, a few of us had already been delegated the elegant duty of preparing the food for the night and everything actually turned out really well and delish. I made an apple and strawberries lattice pie and mini blondies in muffin cases for dessert. Thankfully everyone liked it and I was just glad that most of the food was polished off by the end of the night.

About a total of 15 odd people turned up including the special guest of the night whom actually turned up the last and made a grand entrance full on with snapping cameras flashing away blindly at her while she tried to hide from us.

It was just a really good and fun gathering for this little group of ours and just take a short break for the week from all our daily stresses.

Pray that we can do something like this in the future if not just for the fun and heck of it.

Time to get on with life now and hopefully more baking and culinary discoveries soonish.


Sometimes you just get into certain moods to try different things once in a while. So this was when I decided to make porridge using arborio rice, which is usually used for risotto and baking brownies in a muffin pan.

Both came out equally delicious and comforting. The porridge/risotto combo was cooked in the initial stage alike to browning the rice first and then adding the stock till the rice became a thick and lovely consistency. I just upped the liquid contents by about a cup more and simmered for an additional ten to twenty minutes according to how you like your rice "mushiness" to be. I used chunks of fish fillets and diced vegetables for this Chinese styled porridge using an Italian ingredient as its base.

The other hybrid isn't really a hybrid per se but just looks like one. It's a blondies or brownies recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it was the easiest and simplest recipe you could ever want and try. Mixed in one big bowl and spoon the batter onto a cake pan or if you're like me, you can use a muffin pan which will yield the same brownie goodness either way. The aroma emanating from the oven midway through was too torturous for me to not want to try one of these babies.

I only decided to use the muffin tray instead of a baking dish because I just recently got it and needed to break into it and also for the occasion that it's a friend's birthday today and I wanted to bake her something chocolatey and sinfully good instead of the traditional cake. I hope she likes the additions of roasted slivered almonds and luscious Cadbury dark chocolate chips which I used in this recipe.

There's a barbecue coming up so I might double the recipe and use chipped Lindt chocolate and roasted chopped walnuts. Everyone loves a good brownie including myself!

sunny days

This is going to be a relatively short post because I've been swamped with tests and assignments of late.

SO, for tonight's pot luck dinner gathering with some friends I decided to try my hand at an apple squares recipe which actually sort of resemble to that of an apple pie/tart thing. I have to give credits to the lovely Canadian Baker again for the beautifully simple recipe. I have always been a bit intimidated by pies and tarts or squares and basically anything that required me to make a dough and shape them to resemble anything at all. So, when this pot luck gathering came around and I heard that most of the people there really liked apple pie a lot I thought of maybe I should try it for once and for all. I came across this recipe and seemed relatively simple enough for even a novice baker like me and decided to give it a go.

The filling made of sliced apples mixed with sugar and cinnamon was easy enough to do and I added some sliced peaches as well into the mix for some variety. The dough came together quite easily and nicely enough but when it came to shaping them into long strips to make the lattice topping my worst fears came through. First I tried to roll them out onto a flat surface so that I could score them into even shapes and lay them gently onto the filling. The dough just wouldn't want to stick with me when it was flat and kept falling apart. So I had to end up following the rolling technique and made snake-like dough thingys to form the lattice shape. It's so far the fanciest looking dish I've made. If I had a choice I'd rather make a crumb topping and sprinkle them all over haphazardly instead of the lattice pattern.

When it was finally done, I was just glad that the dough actually expanded a bit and sort of covered up my mistakes and the ugliness of some of the dough. I'm only wishing now that it'll be evening and I get to try a piece of it. It's torturous to see the dish sitting on the counter waiting to be eaten and I can't even touch it.

Just last week as well I baked another batch of my favourite scones but this time with an addition of tinned peaches. I made this specially for my friend who was leaving good old Melby for good ole UK and been bugging me for something I either baked or cooked. I didn't realise that the scones was just about British as you could get when I gave it to him at the party and only then I got the neo-irony of it. It was just a cute coincidence that I decided to make scones and not anything else only because it was the easiest thing I knew to make then when I was pressed for time.

The odd looking shaped tin foil basket thing you see there was something I decided to scrounge out in the last minute when I was thinking of how I could bring the scones to the party place. Then I recalled this handy looking thing I watched on Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef once and thought I'd give it a go and see if it looked as odd as I had remembered it.

Well it certainly does look odd but it does the job of keeping them safely tucked away so who am I to complain.

That last week as well, I decided to get all tarty for lunch and try out the ready made puff pastry sheets I recently bought. I used the tinned peaches again and mixed it in brown sugar, butter and flour to bring them together in a kind of crumbly mix. The puff certainly did puff and tasted lovely but I think I should have probably left them in the oven a bit longer to allow for the crumb mixture to attain the golden and crispy texture I love so much.

It's been incredibly sunny and hot but still slightly chilly here in Melbourne as we are transitioning into spring. I'm on the lookout for some spring inspired pastries, tarts, pies or anything springy this time around. But then you never know with Melbourne when the cold might bite back again despite the awesome weather we've been having recently after the frosty winter.