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October 30, 2013
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Like cake but often find there’s too much cake? Kuchen is nice as it is a single layer cake. You will need a spring-form cake tin.

I baked this on August 30, 2013; it was taste-tested and approved by my coworkers.

This is a great late summer/fall recipe. The only thing I would change about this recipe is squeezing a bit more lemon juice and not slicing my apples too thin. (The recipe didn’t specify, but generally the fruit on top of the cake would be moist)

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies

October 29, 2013

About a month ago, I had troubles sleeping. Can you turn cake into cookies?

There must be a way. I adapted this recipe from !

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made a double batch and ended up with more cookies since I made the test batch cookies smaller. (Smaller cookies cook relatively fast at 7 minutes)
I’ve made red green velvet cupcakes before and found that by adding coffee, it brings out the chocolate flavour a lot more.

My oven bakes quite fast since it’s convection; 8.5 minutes worked well for me. I wouldn’t go longer than 9 minutes at 375F. Please let me know if you have difficulties reading my handwriting!

And I wrote a recipe card out as I plan to surprise my neighbours with cookies & this recipe card:

Red Velvet Cookie Recipe Card -- right-click, save to your device. Print!

Red Velvet Cookie Recipe Card — right-click, save to your device. Print!

My neighbours’ son answered the door. He tried the recipe three times. It was a hit in his foods class! As his way of thanking me for the recipe, he brought us cookies! How heart-warming, don’t you think? :) It looks and smell delicious. It is delicious and chewy. So, if he can bake these, so can you!

Neighbour's kid used my Red Velvet Cookies recipe a few times and brought these!

My neighbour’s kid used my Red Velvet Cookies recipe a few times and brought these!

Notes: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can get a close enough substitution by using white vinegar + milk mixture. Non-dairy milk works too. The magic proportion: For every tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, use a cup of milk. (So, roughly 4 tsp of milk + 1/4 tsp of white vinegar)

Spread the love of baking!! You’d never know who could be smiling from trying successful recipes.


First Attempt at (Successful) Artisan Bread Making

October 29, 2013

Did you miss me? :P I missed my third anniversary of being a WordPress blogger in August! This is a belated post to celebrate how far my journey with food has been. I understand I did ‘promise’ to work on noodle dough for Post #55 — how about, I will work on a dough series throughout the remaining in 2013, with no particular self-imposed order?

Long story short, I’m finally getting used to cooking for just myself while juggling work, accounting studies and fitness. Sometimes, I find that taking a “blog-cation” helps me focus on adapting and testing recipes. It also allowed me to share my passion with friends and neighbours; I organized an “Iron-Chef” cooking event, where I rented a community hall for a Thanksgiving themed potluck. I roasted a goose! You can connect with me on my Recipe Box community on Facebook or Instagram (@Cynderbug), where you get to see live posts of my food experiments for the CJ Kitchen. Stay tuned for more posts (and recipes)!

I have finally conquered my temperamental nemesis: bread. This is a no-knead technique I learnt from Laura Rogerson, who has been baking bread for over 40 years! This was the first time this class has been offered through the City of Edmonton. I must warn you that you might want to take the next day off; I had to wake up at 4 am in the wee hours of the morning to work on this slow baby bump. Well, the French calls it boule, which means ball, literally.

A rustic boule

A rustic boule, being cooled after it sits in the stoneware for 5 minutes

What kind of Equipment Do I Need?
– Pardon the puns, but it will help you remember: you don’t ‘knead’ to use any warm water. This is a long and slow fermentation process. The quality of your flour, yeast and the water content determines your success rate for a bread dough. You can shape the bread in a metal pan inside a cast iron Dutch-oven, with the lid closed — if you so wish to cut your bread into a rectangular loaf. Your bake-ware should be able to withstand 500F. Use unbleached bread flour if you can find it.  Laura recommended Red Star yeast instead of Fleischmann.
– A lint-free tea-towel; from the book Dough – Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet suggests that you ought to designate a tea towel for bread-making. Also, just wash it off with hot water in the sink, with no detergent.

After the first 12 hours, you may want to check your dough. Remove the plastic wrap. You should see strand development (TOP RIGHT). Dust tea-towel. Wrap and let rest.

After the first 12 hours, you may want to check your dough. Remove the plastic wrap. You should see strand development (TOP RIGHT). Dust tea-towel. Wrap and let rest.

Here is the BASIC BREAD DOUGH. (printable PDF)

(can also be made without salt)

3 cups bread flour                            (400 g)
1 ¼ tsp sea salt or Kosher salt     (8 g)
¼ tsp yeast                                         (1 g)
1 1/3 cups water, filtered             (300 g) @ Cool Temperature 55 – 65 °F

Optional: use cornmeal for dusting


  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add water and mix with your hand or use a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds or so to incorporate all the flour.
    Dough should be sticky and wet. (Refrain from adding extra flour)
  2. If you live in drier climates, you might need to add 1 tbsp more water or so. Hydration should be around 75%.
  3. Wrap the mixing bowl with a cling wrap; avoid covering with tea-towel as air would escape through the tea-towel.
  4. Let it rise for 12 to 18 hours. It should double in size; look for dots on surface. Texture is very sticky. If you were to leave your dough for longer than 18 hours, your dough will have no life.
  5. You will know if your dough is ready for second proofing when there are long strands developing as you lift the dough ball.
  6. Flour your work surface. Dust tea towel with flour. Cover the tea towel over the dough and let it rise for an hour (to two hours) on the counter. Let it again double. When you poke the dough, the imprint should just stay. If it springs back, check back in 15 minutes.
  7. Position oven racks 1/3 from bottom. Preheat the oven at 500F and subsequently preheat your stoneware or cast iron casserole pot while you wait for the second proofing.
  8. Flip upside down in Dutch oven. The closed pot creates the environment of a steamed oven.
  9. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes.

    You should be able to hear the bread ‘sing’ on the outside. Cook until internal temperature reaches 205°F.
    Leave the bread in the pan for 5 minutes.
    (At sea level: 200 to 202° F)
  10. Cool for an hour before cutting on a rack.

To freeze:
Once the bread is cooled, wrap in tin foil to maintain moisture. Wrap in cling wrap and keep in a zipped bag.

For steps 9 and 10, this is a summary of what I did:
For the first 30 minutes, your dough should look a golden yellow. I didn’t get to taste it until I got home from work. It is delicious when served with spinach dip:

A close up of how the boule evolved from steps 9 to 10 to everyone's bellies!

A close up of how the boule evolved from steps 9 to 10, right into everyone’s bellies!

If you want an easy way to serve, dip it with 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar — add 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Enjoy! (Try red wine vinegar and tell me if you like that too!)


June 25, 2013

54th post: Korean dish. Difficulty level: beginner.

I truly have always believed this: one of the best ways to learn about other cultures  is by learning to cook their dishes. That was how I started cooking German dishes.

There are culinary benefits to exposing ourselves beyond what we know, when it comes to cooking. My background in cooking any Korean dishes is very minimal. Stir-frying frozen Bulgogi Beef from the local Korean grocer store and cooking noodles in black bean sauce from a package were my furthest extent with Korean cuisine. Here is my challenge: a lot of the ingredients are written in Korean only. I can read Chinese, but Korean is a different story. So, I joined this Korean potluck group. Little did I know that it is mandatory for Korean men to join the military.

To my pleasant surprise, I was able to find a Korean recipe that is pantry-friendly and budget-friendly. I credit the hobakjeon recipe to

butternut squash

Wash, Peel, Scoop/De-seed. Then, slice width-wise, then slice vertically against the fallen slices to create a match-stick or julienne cut.

Boy, I have never had so many squashes and zucchini cut julienne. I couldn’t quite manage the flip like Ms Maangchi, but some day I’ll uncover the elusive secret of flipping without a spatula.

I would say that the zucchini version is the easiest to make, but the butternut squash version is much tastier. Typically, you would prep the butter-nut squash version first if you are doing both.

Zucchini version:

1 1/2 cups julienne-cut zucchini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Drizzle of Sesame Oil, just before flipping

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. In a medium-high heat non-stick pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil. When the pan is ready and warm, spoon all the batter onto the pan and push down with the back of a spoon. Let it sizzle until the bottom is golden-brown. During this sizzling process, add Sesame Oil on top. When the sizzle gets louder and you see bubbles, it is almost time to flip! (I use spatula and it’s okay if it gets broken apart. The pancake is for sharing anyway)

Dipping Sauce

Soy sauce, vinegar, chili, garlic and onion

Soy sauce, vinegar, chili, garlic and onion

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 de-seeded green chilli (the only ones I could find are baby green chilies; these are hot, hot, hot!)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp purple onion or shallots
1 tbsp vinegar

Butter-nut Squash Hobakjeon:
About 2 cups of julienne-cut squash
Add 1/4 tsp salt and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The squash will become moist, so no water is needed.
Add 3 to 4 tablespoons flour. This will hold the pancake together.. (unless you were wanting butternut-squash julienne fries!) I added about a total of 4 as 3 didn’t seem to hold the squash together.

I used olive oil to fry the butter-nut squash pancake, pressing down with the back of the spatula to create a shape. Flip when bottom is sizzling golden brown.

Was my first-try good? Well, there was no polite “Mm, this is good!” It was nearly gone at the end of potluck, so it is passable. I definitely would make more of these for easy snacks and appetizers.

Presentation was definitely not a winner, but it tastes okay:



Next up: 55th-post is slurp fest as I will be making noodle dough from scratch using a birthday gift (pastry board) and my pasta-machine.

Sweet & Sour Spareribs

June 6, 2013

Okay, I am definitely going to learn to make more Asian dishes. This dish is simple to make. I just had a bite into a piece. It tastes pretty close to what I remember tasting it at a hometown restaurant in Brunei as a kid. Serve this dish with rice and some stir-fried vegetables to have a great lunch or supper!

The most basic things to have in an Asian kitchen, other than spices, are sesame oil, tapioca flour and rice flour. I had originally bought tapioca flour since a noodle dough recipe called for tapioca flour. Don’t worry, if you don’t have either and if you are craving for this dish, corn starch will do in the mean time. Also, anytime you see “Tomato Sauce”, it’s how they describe Ketchup in Southeast Asia. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to juice the tomatoes)

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca Flour

The Recipe:

Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs Recipe from ISBN-13: 978-9679691399

Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs Recipe from ISBN-13: 978-9679691399

Ha, ha, I just realized I skipped step 7, after uploading a snapshot of the recipe. I guess I’ll cut up some tomatoes to go with my lunch tomorrow!

So, I cut, seasoned and marinated the pork first with garlic, sweet soy sauce, white vinegar, salt & pepper. (I haven’t got any rice wine vinegar around at the present.) Then, I made the sauce (easiest step) :

Worcestershire sauce, sugar, ketchup, sesame oil and water

Worcestershire sauce, sugar, ketchup, sesame oil and water

Then, proceeded to coat the ribs and fry them:

Frying ribs that are cut into pieces

Frying ribs that are cut into pieces

I actually got a bit lazy somewhere between Step 3 and Step 4.  After frying/browning the coated ribs, I dumped the grease into a re-used tin can and returned the ribs to the pan. (I quite liked the fried coating gathered on the ribs itself)

Consequently, the sauce that was previously mixed was added and mixed briefly with the ribs. Then, you get this….

Sweet & Sour Spareribs

Sweet & Sour Spareribs


Dough, a dear!

June 3, 2013

Dough, a dear, a female dear…
Ray, a drop of golden bun!
Mee, a noodle to string along
Far… a long, long way to run…
Sou, a yummy Chinese pastry
-Lah, a slang that goes like “so”
Tea, a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to dough…

I know I have got outstanding food projects from my list last year that I am planning to tackle this year (from the About page). Meanwhile, I have signed up for a Korean potluck group. I just realized my food blog is lacking something: more Asian dishes. So, I will be searching and testing recipes for:

  • Chap Jae (vegetarian dish)
  • Be-beem-bap

As far as dough goes, with a new induction range and a stand-up mixer, I should have no problem giving my pasta machine, along with the other two equipment test runs. So, I will try make/re-create the following specific dishes:

  • Char Kway Teow (Fried Rice Noodles)
  • Kolo-mein or kolo-mee (Braised noodles)

Where a recipe calls for MSG, it will be omitted. When it calls for lard, well.. I would use vegetable oil.

And if butter is on sale, or if I can find ghee (clarified butter), I will give my roti recipe from one of my Malaysian cookbooks a try. It will require A LOT of butter (or cooking oil). I gained so much weight after visiting home this past winter, eating murtabak and curry every day!

Dessert doughs:
I just received a wonderful gift from a coworker! It’s got 30 cupcake recipes; there are at least two I want to try: Black Forest Cupcakes and Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes.

Cupcake Book

Cupcake Book, with many thanks to my co-worker K for this awesome gift!

If this summer goes without any climactic hitch, I will try make my own jellies/jam. We’ve had a brutal 7-month long winter in Edmonton. 7 months!

This Christmas, I get to learn to bake Lebkuchen (Traditional German Gingerbread Cookies), the dough of which would take at least two weeks to prepare, in big batches. Unfortunately, since it is a great honour to be asked to help continue my SO’s Christmas family tradition, I cannot share the family’s lebkuchen recipe with my blog readers. However, my Bonniface Parish cookbook has plenty of lebkuchen recipes that I might test, a month or two before Christmas. (Perhaps, Lebkuchen trial for Halloween cookies?)

I am not making any promises though! I will try my best to stick to this food project plan; it is really challenging to maintain food blogging on top of studying and full-time work. Thank you for reading A Cynful Journey!

Low Fat Banana Chocolate Chip Bombs

June 2, 2013

It is my birthday today; I can’t think of any better ways to celebrate other than baking at home and play house with the new oven.
I have very ripe bananas begging to be used. So, I looked up Big Oven (an iPhone app) since I was curious about banana cookies!


Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bombs

Or view in app: bigoven://recipe/161031

The recipe provides 20 servings.

These low-fat chocolate chip cookies are made with bananas.


1 1/2 cups Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Light Brown sugar packed
1/4 cup Granulated sugar
2 tablespoon Unsalted butter room temperature (I used olive oil margarine instead)
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 Egg
1 large Bananas peeled and mashed
Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips (I used just a bit over 1/4 cup)

1) Preheat Oven to 350 F
2) Coat two 12×18 inch cookie sheets either with parchment paper or cooking spray
3) In a small bowl – stir Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt.
4) Cream Brown Sugar, Granulated Sugar, and Butter with a mixer until smooth.
5) Beat in Vanilla, Egg, and Banana.
6) Stir in Flour mixture. When doughy, stir in Chocolate Chips.
7) Drop teasponsfuls onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
8) Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Mm, took a bite of the cookie and made myself a cup of coffee. Chewy and delicious without being too sweet!


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