Archive for the ‘milk’ Category

This is a straightforward cake recipe using the creaming method. You might want to refer to the tips on creaming here and here.

Instead of butter, this recipe uses hydrogenated vegetable shortening, under the Spry brand name. I’ve commented on the history, use and health considerations of using Spry or its competitor brand, Crisco in an earlier posting. My personal choice would be to use butter, which would probably also give a better taste.

For the filling and icing, please see:
Chocolate/Coffee Filling
Chocolate Water Icing

Read Full Post »

This quick bread basically uses the muffin method of mixing: dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, mix together very quickly till just blended. The difference is that it is baked into a large cake, rather than small muffins. For me, I often do the opposite and bake cake recipes into muffin or cupcake sizes because they need less time in the oven and hence use less electricity.

Don’t let the ‘rub butter in flour’ bit fool you into thinking this uses the rubbing-in method (see Plain Scones). Here, it is just a way to incorporate solid butter. Other recipes melt the butter and combine it with the wet ingredients. Personally, I’m lazy to melt butter when I make muffins, and usually use oil instead :). A cooking oil with a neutral flavour is best, but coconut oil will give a strong tropical flavour if that’s the effect you intend to produce.

For more on oven temperatures, see grandma’s notes here.

Read Full Post »

The term ‘Drop Scones’ can be rather confusing because it’s used to refer to two distinctly different items. The first usage, which seems to be more common in America, is scones made by the rubbing-in method, just like that described in the Plain Scones recipe but roughly shaped by dropping spoonfuls of the dough onto a baking sheet (as illustrated here).

The second type of ‘Drop Scones’ is not made from dough, but a batter, and its alternative name, ‘Scotch Pancakes’ reveals what it’s most similar to. ‘Drop Scones’ are considered a traditional Scottish recipe, as you can read here.

The photos here show you what Scotch Pancake style Drop Scones look like, and the recipe also provides ideas for eating them with savoury toppings.

It’s this pancake variation that grandmother’s recipe below refers to. This is evident from the way the ingredients are combined (straight mixing, no rubbing-in) and the reference to a ‘batter’ that must be left to stand.

Without any clear instructions for the quantity of milk (and I’m not sure how much exactly ‘1 Breakfast cupful’ is!), it would certainly help if you were already familiar with working pancake batters to be able to judge the correct consistency by sight. Don’t forget to use self-raising flour or else add some baking powder.

You may wish to compare this recipe with grandma’s Pancake recipe as well as check out some buttermilk variations (buttermilk assists the rise of the batter and tenderises it) here and here. You’ll notice the second recipe substitutes milk+vinegar for buttermilk, you can also use lemon juice,citric acid or cream of tartar to create the same result; read about buttermilk substitutes here.

Read Full Post »

Here’s another ice cream recipe, and one that is quite different from the earlier recipe for Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream. This one has no cream or eggs but uses gelatine (read more about how it is produced from animal parts here) and custard powder (which I’ve commented on here).

It also calls for the use of an ice cream churner. I wonder how many Singaporean families in the 1950s had one of those? Unlike the modern electric ice cream makers, traditional ice cream churners would most likely have been like this one. As Wikipedia explains,

These machines usually comprise an outer bowl and a smaller inner bowl with a hand-cranked mechanism which turns a paddle, sometimes called a dasher, to stir the mixture. The outer bowl is filled with a freezing mixture of salt and ice: the addition of salt to the ice causes freezing-point depression; as the salt melts the ice, its heat of fusion allows it to absorb heat from the ice cream mixture, freezing the ice cream.

The churners available in Singapore were quite possibly very similar to the ones available in India. The Tribune from Chandigarh tells us that

In India, ice cream was initially made at home from pure buffalo milk. By the turn of the 18th Century, an ice cream machine was developed for home use. You can still buy the stuff. It’s a wooden bucket with a central aluminum jar and a churner. For preparing ice cream in the machine, you have to put milk, essence and sugar in the jar. This container is then placed in the bucket full of ice and a little salt. After churning for about 45 minutes, the ice cream is ready. Though not as smooth as the one available in the market, it is delicious.

Like the Indian news article, grandma’s recipe calls for the addition of ‘flavouring essence’. Indeed, a Google search of ‘flavouring essence’ throws up mostly manufacturers in India. The flavours could be lemon, strawberry, mango, almond etc. A visit to a specialist baking supplies store should provide you with these items.

Ice Cream

Read Full Post »


Doughnuts are a hard food to pin down. They come in fried or baked versions, and can be made by a huge variety of methods: some are like breads and use yeast as a leavening agent, while others rely on baking powder; they can be made by the muffin method or by the creaming technique. Grandmother’s recipe introduced me to yet another style of doughnuts.

The recipe here is for a choux pastry. Although grandma did not record the instructions for this, you then go on to fry the choux pastry, as the recipes here and here explain.

This style of doughnuts is closed connected with another kind of fried dough – crullers, which are fashioned into a long, twisted shape. Traditional French crullers are also made from choux pastry, while other kinds of crullers can be made from other kinds of leavened doughnut dough (either using yeast or baking powder). The term ‘Chinese crullers’ is sometimes used to refer to Chinese you tiao [Mandarin] / yao zhar kwai [Cantonese].

Speculation on the historical origins of the doughnut range from prehistoric Native Americans to ancient Rome to the medieval Middle East. However what most sources agree on is the better-documented story of how doughnuts became an American staple. Beginning in early modern Germany and Holland, oliekoecken (oil cakes or fried cakes) were brought to the New World by Dutch settlers, and had established themselves on the American dining table by the mid-19th century.

Well, if what makes a doughnut a doughnut is the hole in the middle, then what about the dough balls made from these holes? Aside from just seeing them as leftover ‘doughnut holes‘, one can simply shape the dough directly into balls and make more elegant-sounding beignet (recipe here).

Below are the two recipes grandmother copied into her notebook. The first is for choux pastry-style doughnuts, The second set of ingredients doesn’t include eggs and therefore can’t be for choux pastry. You’ll need to improvise your own cooking method there.
Doughnuts 2

Read Full Post »


The inclusion of baking powder indicates that these are American-style pancakes, which are thick and eaten in stacks, often topped with butter and maple syrup. In comparison, British pancakes and French crepes are much thinner and don’t use leavening agents (read more about the differences here).

Grandmother used to tell me about her encounters with American foods through Mrs Armstuz of the YWCA, and quite possibly, American-style pancakes were among those foods.

Unfortunately, this is another one of those recipes where there are no instructions and only very vague quantities (the ‘teacup’ is my grandmother’s own measurement based on our cups at home, and most of those from that old set have broken and been thrown away over the decades). So you might want to refer to other recipes for American pancakes, such as this, this or this.

Read Full Post »

Like the first Sponge Cake recipe, this is one that grandmother got from a friend, noted here as ‘Mrs Tsiang’.

This sponge cake recipe is quite different from the first Sponge Cake and the Banana Sponge Cake recipes I posted earlier. Those follow the classic Victoria Sponge Cake in having equal amounts of butter, sugar and flour.

Interestingly, this particular sponge cake recipe can be either baked or steamed. If baking, 375ºF/180ºC is probably a good temperature to use, as with the Banana Sponge Cake. If steaming, don’t forget to make sure the water is really boiling and on high heat before putting the cake in and make sure there is plenty of steam so that the cake will rise properly.

Sponge Cake Tsiang

Read Full Post »

We’ve already had a recipe for the cream puff choux pastry (where I wrote about my grandmother’s long-standing fondness for them) and another one for chocolate eclairs. Here’s a more detailed cream puff recipe, which also includes instructions for the custard filling.

The custard filling relies on the use of custard powder (or ‘custard flour’ as written below). Cornflour-based custard powder was invented in 1837 by Alfred Bird because his wife was allergic to eggs and couldn’t tolerate real custard. Till today, Bird’s brand is perhaps the most popular brand of custard powder in Britain. Besides cornflour, the ingredients in custard powder include salt, flavorings, and annatto or tartrazine coloring.

Do note that both annatto and tartrazine have been known to cause common food reactions. Tartrazine has been in the press recently as one of the substances identified in a recent British study on food additives that can cause hyperactivity in children, while annatto is the only natural food colouring “found to cause as many adverse intolerance reactions as artificial colours and to affect more consumers that artificial colour” (read here). But it’s only very recent scientific research that has revealed these problems.

In the recipe, grandmother specifically noted that Brown & Polson brand of custard powder should be used. This is still available today in India from Unilever Food Solutions Asia (who do Knorr, Lipton, Planta etc. in Singapore, but no Brown & Polson!).

Brown & Polson Custard Powder appears to have a very long history, going by this recipe for savoury custard in the The Cook’s Guide and Housekeeper’s & Butler’s Assistant (1861) by Charles Elme Francatelli. Do click on the links to see a digitised version of the original book.

An internet search shows many secondhand and antiquarian book dealers selling a cookbook produced by Brown & Polson entitled, Light Fare Recipes for Corn Flour and Custard Powder Cookery, circa 1930. As I noted earlier, food manufacturers often produced cookbooks as a way of advertising new products and educating consumers how to use them – do have a look at this fascinating digitised archive of Advertising Cookbooks, 1878-1929.

The instructions call for the custard filling to be flavoured with ‘essence’ – I believe this refers to vanilla essence.

Custard Cream Puffs A

Custard Cream Puffs B

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »