Pierre Hermé-inspired Ispahan loaf cake (Almond loaf cake with rose, raspberry and lychee)

Ispahan loaf cake (rose, raspberry, lychee) glazed

I’m a fan of Pierre Hermé‘s range of  Ispahan desserts. There’s just something magical about the flavour of rose, lychee, and raspberry. As much as I like, I can’t eat a macaron for breakfast, so I have to find a way to incorporate these flavour into a more breakfast-y loaf cake.  So this is it – my version of Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan loaf cake.

The Ispahan macaron is proabably Pierre Hermé’s best selling flavour amongst the macarons. When I was in Paris last year, the boutique has a entire range dedicated to the Ispahan flavour. Clearly, I’m not the only one enamoured  of the Ispahan flavour.


Pierre Herme Ispahan desserts



I thought it’s fitting that I would make this cake and blog about it right before my Paris trip. I’m so psyched that I’ll be there again soon.

I’ve been testing and tweaking this recipe for a while now, hopefully this would make Monsieur Hermé proud.

The flavour of rose comes through in the most delicate manner and you get a burst of tartness from the raspberry and the unique sweetness of the lychee. Ispahan in a single bite.

I’ve incorporated almond meal (ground almonds) in the cake because I love the flavour and the moistness it gives to the cake. This cake needs quite a bit of baking because of all the moist contents so don’t be afraid to bake it for a longer time if it is not done – best way to test it is to see if it springs back upon touch.

I made a simple raspberry royal icing glaze, it stains the icing a perfect shade of pink, in my opinion. It seems like the right way to usher in spring. You can most certainly do without the glaze/icing. The cake is still pretty and perfect without it.

With that, I shall leave you with my recipe that I foresee will end up as one of my favourites – you know the kind that you will bake over and over again.



Ingredients for Ispahan loaf cake

Ispahan loaf cake (rose, raspberry, lychee) 2


Recipe: Ispahan loaf cake (Almond loaf cake with rose, raspberry and lychee)
Makes one 8″ x 4″ loaf tin

135g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g granulated sugar
2 tsp rosewater
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
145g eggs, room temperature (approximately 2 -2.5 large eggs)
150g plain flour
50g ground almonds (almond meal)
1 heap tsp/ 5g double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120ml buttermilk
6 + additional 2 tbsp dried rose petals
70g lychee (some of you may know of it as litchi), drain off excess liquid (I used those from a can)
80g raspberry (fresh/frozen is fine)
extra softened unsalted butter for piping

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line your loaf tin with baking parchment and butter the sides of the tin.

2. Infuse the buttermilk: heat the buttermilk gently until just slightly above body temperature (feels warm to touch). Place the 6 tbsp rose petals into the buttermilk to allow flavours to infuse for about 30 minutes.

3. Prepare the lychee, drain it and pat dry of excess liquid then roughly chop them up.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt. Then add the ground almonds and additional 2 tbsp rose petals (if using, for a more pronounced rose flavour) then set aside. Cream butter until pale, light. Add in the sugar and cream until pale and fluffy and well-incorporated.

5. Add in eggs, one at a time and mix until well-incorporated. Add in the rosewater and vanilla extract.

6. Start by adding 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients. Alternate between the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk (with the rose petals) in 2 additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients on low speed until just combined. Fold in the raspberry and lychee.

7. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the cake batter into your lined loaf tin. Knock the tin against the kitchen counter top to remove any large air bubbles in the batter.

7. Creamed the softened butter and transfer it into a piping bag. Pipe a thin line across the center of the loaf. This helps the loaf cake crack very nicely. But you can omit this step if you wish.

8. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for about 60 – 65 minutes. When the cake is done, it should also shrink away from the sides of the pan. A cake tester should come out clean and it should also spring back immediately upon touch. If the cake starts to brown to much, you can cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil in the last 10- 15 minutes of baking.

9. Allow cake to cool in tin for about 15 minutes before using a palette knife to run along the sides of the tin and removing the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before storing.

Raspberry royal icing (optional):

200g icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar
juice from half a lemon
a few tsp of water
2 raspberries


1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add in the juice of half a lemon and use a spatula to combine. Add in as much water as you need to bring the mixture to a thick enough consistency yet still pourable.
2. Add in the raspberries and mix it in. You can pass this through a sieve to remove the seeds so you only get the juice and colour in the icing. As you can tell, I was too lazy to do this so you still can see some of the seeds in the icing. The raspberries will give the icing a nice and natural colour. You wouldn’t have to add any pink colouring.

To assemble:

1. When the cake is cooled completely, place it on a wire rack with a tray beneath it. Pour the icing over the top of the cake and allow it to flow naturally. Collect the excess glaze from the tray and pour it along the sides of the cake if you wish.

2. Sprinkle some dried rose petals over it.

Ispahan loaf cake (rose, raspberry, lychee) 1

Ispahan loaf cake (rose, raspberry, lychee)

Posted in Baking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Matcha and azuki bean swiss roll (green tea and red bean swiss roll)

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I’m on a roll here (literally).

I’ve been making so much of this particular matcha (green tea) swiss roll in the past month. While I’ve been trying to bake different things, this is the one thing that I keep going back to. It doesn’t help that it is usually gone in a day or two after I make it.

So far, no one has been complaining, so I may just do it again before I run out of matcha powder.

On another note, I’ve stumbled upon a buzzfeed post on green stuff (I said stuff, not food) that people dye (luminous green) for St Patrick’s day feasting. Green milk? Green peanut butter?  I’ll pass! I don’t need hulk green in my food for the sake of it being green.

Matcha swiss roll



Alright, enough of the weird green food..

Swiss rolls need no introduction.I’ve blogged two others prior to this one: Raspberry and white chcocolate swiss roll and  passion fruit and blackberry swiss roll. I think I found my new favourite with this Japanese inspired matcha and azuki bean one.

After taking the above photo, I ate the two slices of cake at once! I hope you aren’t judging me. In my defense, the swiss roll is very light and it doesn’t fill you up at all. It’s also not overly sweet…

You do need quite a bit of matcha powder for the flavour to achieve a nice colour and prominent flavour.

The slight bitterness of the matcha sponge is well-balanced by the sweet azuki (also referred to as adzuki or aduki. they are the same) beans I use those from a can that are already cooked and sweetened. I used the canned version for this because of convenience but if you are particular, you could most certainly cook your own red beans.

This cake takes me to 5000 km away to a happy place called Japan where I have the fondest memory having cake in a quaint tea house sipping on hot genmaicha (玄米茶).

I do need more of this (and that cake too).

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folding of matcha sponge

matcha sponge

Matcha (green tea) and azuki bean souffle swiss roll 
Recipe adapted from Okashi by Keiko Ishida
Makes 1 souffle swiss roll

You can refer to my previous posts on raspberry and white chocolate swiss roll  for tips on making swiss rolls in general. I reduced the sugar in the chantilly cream for this particular swiss roll because I find that the azuki beans make it sweet enough.

Group A:
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Group B:
35g unsalted butter
50g plain flour, sifted twice
10g matcha/green tea powder (not the same as green tea leaves)
60ml whole milk

Group C:
3 egg whites
85g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees celcius. Line a 11″ square cake pan (28cm x 28cm) with baking parchment. If you do not have a pan this size, use a larger tray,and place some oven safe loaf pans to block out the area you do not want to use. Use an aluminium foil to keep to the two parts separated. It is important to bake the sponge cake in the correct size pan.

2. Whisk together group A ingredients and set aside.

3. Group b ingredients: Place unsalted butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted. Then add sifted flour to melted butter and use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir it until it is cooked through (just like a roux). It should come away from the sides of the pot and form a ‘dough’. Transfer the flour and butter mixture into a mixing bowl. Then add group A ingredients gradually, whisking to combine until you get smooth batter.

4. Next, add the milk, a little at a time, stir to incorporate.

5. Using a sieve, strain the above batter to remove any lumps, and set aside.

6. Prepare a meringue with Group C ingredients: Whisk egg whites in a grease-free bowl until soft peaks.Gradually add in the sugar and whisk at high speed until stiff peaks.

7. Add in a scoop of the meringue into the already strained batter and whisk. Then add in the remaining meringue in 2-3 additions and fold gently with a spatula until mixture is just incorporated.

8. Pour batter gently onto the prepared pan and spread evenly with a small palette knife. Bake for about 20 minutes until it springs back to touch. The top should be golden brown.

9. When the souffle sponge is out of the oven, cover the pan with cling wrap immediately. You want to cover it when it is still hot so the steam will keep the cake moist and pliable, making it easy to roll without cracking.

10. Allow the sponge to cool down entirely before assembling it.

Creme chantilly

160ml cream, at least 35% fat
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Whisk the cream in a grease-free bowl at high speed and add in the sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract when it is starting to achieve soft peaks. Whisk at high speed until firm peaks.

To assemble:

85g azuki beans (cooked and sweetened ones from a can)

creme chantilly


1. Turn out the cooled sponge (it should be cooled completely, so it doesn’t crack) onto a new piece of baking parchment. Trim the sides with a small serrate knife to neaten it. Alternatively, you can trim this after.
2. Spread the whipped cream onto the sponge using a palette knife, leaving a small margin along all four sides.

3. Top with azuki beans. Gently roll the sponge up but try to do it quite tightly so there won’t be gaps in between the sponge and creme chantilly. The sponge is pliable and soft so it should be pretty easy to do so. You can use the parchment paper to help you. Trim (and eat! baker’s snacks!) the two ends of the swiss roll.

*Storage tip: Keep the swiss roll in the fridge.  Slice them just before serving. You should try to finish this in a few days.

matcha swiss roll sheet

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matcha swiss roll slice


Posted in Cakes, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dark chocolate orange tart

Dark chocolate orange tart cover


I think little introduction is needed for a dark chocolate and orange combination. There’s just something about the two that brings out the goodness in each other. The delicate orange flavour against the dark and rich dark chocolate is a sheer delight to all senses.

I made a dark chocolate orange tart awhile back. It was extremely delicious and it was quickly devoured the moment I brought it out – with people returning for seconds.

Dark chocolate orange tart 3


I used a chocolate shortcrust pastry for the tart base. While a pâte sucrée would work as well, I think a double chocolate combination would make the tart doubly good. Does anyone disagree?

The best way to infuse the chocolate with orange flavour is to use its zest. The orange oils from the zest is strong enough to perfume the ganache when the zest is infused in the cream.

I don’t believe that zest should be grated into cream/ganache. While I would readily do that for a citrus cake, there are places where grated zest should not go. Mousses, creams, and ganaches are a few places that I can think of that grated zest has no place in. I find it puzzling when people grate a whole orange into a chocolate ganache. Maybe I’m being particularly  precise here; I strongly feel that while you would want the flavour of the zest, you wouldn’t want to comprise on its smooth, velvety mouth-feel.

Lastly, I know some people love a milk chocolate and orange combination. My personal preference swings in favour of the dark variety. Nonetheless, you can most definitely make this tart with either variety of chocolate. Either way, you would end up with a really delicious tart.

Dark chocolate orange tart 2


 Recipe:Dark Chocolate Orange tart
Makes a 9 inch fluted tart with a few extra small individual tarts

Chocolate shortcrust pastry
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe

This is a very basic recipe for a chocolate short pastry. It uses icing sugar which makes the dough a little softer and harder to handle but it will reward you with a extremely crumbly tart.

140g Plain flour, sifted
25g Dutch-processed cocoa power, sifted
60g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), sifted
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, cubed
30g egg yolks, room temperature
1 tbsp whole milk (add more if needed)

Method: (I use the Rub-in method)

1. Place sifted dry ingredients into a bowl and use a whisk to ensure it’s uniform.

2. Using your fingers, rub in the chopped butter into the dry ingredients until you have a breadcrumb-like mixture.

3. Add in egg yolk and milk and incorporate into mixture. The pastry dough should come together into a ball. Do not overwork the mixture. If the dough still feels slightly dry, you can add in a little more milk.

4. Flatten the dough into a disc and cling wrap it. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and rest for at least 1/2 hour.

5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until 3mm thick on a floured baking parchment so that it doesn’t stick. Transfer the rolled out pastry dough into your fluted tart tin gently and push the dough against the sides of the tin. The dough is quite soft so do work fast especially if you are doing this in a warm environment.

6. Chill the tart in the refrigerator until firm for about 15 – 20 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Line the unbaked tart with baking parchment and fill it with uncooked rice, beans or baking weights. Blind-bake the tart until it is dry for about 20 -25 minutes.

Dark chocolate orange ganache

375ml double cream
orange zest from about 1.5 oranges
1 tbsp glucose (optional)
1.5 tbsp Grand Marnier (or use any other orange liqueur)
375g dark chocolate, chopped ( I use Valrhona 55%)
candied citrus peel for garnish (optional)


1. Remove the peel from the orange in thick strips. Use a paring knife to remove the pith (white parts) from the peel, leaving the zest.

2. Place the cream into a pot and heat it until about 50 degrees celcius. Place the orange zest in and allow it to infuse for about 30 -45 minutes. This can be done ahead of time.

3. Place the pot back on the stove and add in the glucose before bringing the cream to a boil.

4. Add in Grand Marnier liqueur then pour the cream (straining the orange zest) over the chopped chocolate. Stir with a spatula until well-incorporated.

5. Fill tart shells and refrigerate until set.

6. Top your dark chocolate orange tarts with candied citrus peel before serving.

Dark chocolate orange tart 4 Dark chocolate orange tart


Posted in Baking, Tarts & Pies | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Summer salad with shallot white wine vinaigrette

healthy salad with homemade vinaigrette

After a heavy bout of feasting, I usually crave for healthier foods. On these days, I like turning to salads for a light but delicious meal.

Most people think it is easy to put together a salad – it’s probably the easiest thing for a person who doesn’t cook to prepare. While that is true, I find that we tend to over-complicate our salads – by adding too much ingredients (that may or may not work) that we have in our pantry or fridge.

I really do not believe that a salad is the best place for random leftovers in your fridge. Fried rice or a frittata would probably be a better idea.


I often find the best salads to be uncomplicated – made of a few key ingredients that compliment each other, in terms of textures and flavours.

You don’t need a recipe to make a salad but what I like to do is to consider a few things when building my salad:

the base of the salad

Will you be using leaves to bulk up your salad. And if you are using leaves, what leaves romaine lettuce? baby spinach?

the dressing of the salad
Think about the flavour of the dressing – it can’t be too strong for delicate ingredients. Secondly, think about whether the dressing will be able to coat the ingredients well enough. For eg, a vinaigrette won’t coat romaine lettuce well.

the textures  in the salad

I find that it helps to add different texture element to the salad. It helps make it more interesting. For eg. Crunch can be added by using toasted nuts/seeds or homemade croutons

the colours of the salad
We feast with our eyes first so it’s important to have varied colours in your salad.


This summer salad I made is perfect especially on a warm and humid day. I shredded some leftover roast chicken that I had, throwing together some mesclun leaves, with walnuts, sundried tomatoes and sweet cherry tomatoes. I put it together with a shallot and white wine vinaigrette.  It is definitely simple.

But in this case simple is good.
summer salad
Some tips of making a salad:

1. Ensure your salad leaves are very dry
I find that it is best if your salad leaves are very very dry. I like to wash them, spin them dry in a salad spinner (a few times) before leaving the leaves in the crisp drawer of the fridge to dry a little more before using. If they still have moisture, I’ll dry them with kitchen towels. It’s not nice using soggy leaves so it is vital that you don’t skip this step.

2. Season every component of the salad
I find it best if you season with salt (and/or pepper) for every component of the salad before tossing them together so every ingredient is well-seasoned.

3. Dress your salad only when you are ready to eat it
A lot of people would already know this but I can’t emphasize how important it is not to dress your leaves way ahead of your dinner. They will go all limpy, soggy and you wouldn’t want that.

4. Use only as much dressing as you need
You do not have to pour all the dressing you made on the leaves. There should only be enough dressing to coat all the ingredients but it shouldn’t leave a pool of dressing at the bottom of your salad bowl.

5. Pour the dressing on the side of the bowl instead of directly on the leaves

I’ve picked up this tip from Chef Thomas Keller’s book. This would allow you to coat the leaves and salad ingredients more evenly.

shallot white wine vinaigrette




Recipe: Summer salad with shallots white wine vinaigrette

I didn’t want to put down this recipe initially because there isn’t much of a recipe. Instead I’ve written about how I typically build my salad. 

Here’s just a simple list of ingredients that I’ve used for this particular salad – as you can see, is not much. I’ve also included the recipe for the vinaigrette which was great for this particular one.  Hopefully, this would be an inspiration for your salad making f

Mesclun salad, washed and thoroughly dried
leftover roast chicken, shredded
sundried tomatoes, sliced
cherry tomatoes, halved
walnuts, toasted

1. Season the different components of the salad.

2. Place ingredients into a salad bowl. When ready to serve, toss the salad thorougly with the shallot white wine vinaigrette.

Shallot white wine vinaigrette:

1 part white wine vinegar
2 parts extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced finely
1 tsp Dijon mustard
herb de Provence (or any dried herbs)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Pour the white wine vinegar into a bowl. Add in the shallots, Dijon mustard, herb de Provence, salt and pepper and whisk well to combine.
2. Slowly whisk in the wine until the mixture is well-emulsified and smooth. Taste and season if needed.


salad vinaigrette

Posted in Salads, Savoury | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Pineapple tarts (version 2.0)

Homemade pineapple tarts cover

Hi there,

If you have been following my instagram account (Do say hi!), you would know that I’ve been busy  making pineapple jam and pineapple tarts for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

It has been two weekends of making the pineapple jam (see this post for recipe) and the making and rolling of the tarts. I’m all done and ready for Chinese New Year now with these addictive mini domes of deliciousness.

I’ve decided that I should share this revised recipe, an updated version from my previous recipe.  This is everything the first version is but better – more buttery, more crumbly, a little richer.

The tops may look a little cracked but that is only because the pastry is so crumbly and so short that it crumbles in your mouth the moment you tip that pastry in. And yes, it is definitely better to eat this in a single mouth or you will have to be prepared to sweep up crumbs off your floor.

Homemade pineapple tarts 4

The pastry dough is easy to make. I make it like how I do with a tart – using my hands and working the dough as little as possible.

The dough is easy to handle and roll once it is chilled well. This rolling activity can be one that involves your family (or kids!) as it is not a difficult task (although it can be terribly tedious to do all alone).

I didn’t make that much tarts this year – just enough to feed the family and more. I used 7 large pineapples to make 2.4kg of jam. I didn’t keep track how many tarts I ended up with because I’ve been very guilty of eating as I make them.

Happy baking and eating these tarts!

Happy year of the Goat to all my readers! Hope you and your family would have a prosperous and joyous Lunar New Year.


homemade Pineapple jam


Homemade pineapple tarts 1

Homemade pineapple tarts 2

Recipe: Pineapple tart pastry ver 2.0
Enough to make 65-75 pineapple tarts

I’ve updated my pastry recipe from my previous post. This one is slightly richer and more buttery. Now, let’s make some tarts!
Feel free to double the recipe to make more tarts! You can always make the pastry beforehand, keep it chilled in the fridge for up to a week before rolling them out. Alternatively, you can freeze the pastry for up to a month.

If you are brave enough to make your own pineapple jam, please head to my homemade pineapple jam post.

340g plain flour
5 tbsp/30g cornflour
6 tbsp/45g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
260g unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into cubes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
approximately 2-3 tbsp of iced water

For the egg wash:

1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt (for flavour)
a dash of milk (will help darken the colour of the crust)

1. Sift the dry ingredients, whisk them together to distribute them evenly and then put it in the freezer to chill for about 5 minutes. You can do this while you prepare your other ingredients.

2. Add the cut butter to the dry ingredients. Using the rub in method: Use your fingertips to rub in the butter and dry ingredients together until it resembles breadcrumb texture. Shake the bowl every now and then to bring the larger lumps of butter to the surface. You can also use a pastry cutter or a food processor. It will still look a little dry at this point.

3. Add in the lightly beaten egg yolks and vanilla extract and combine it with your hands or pastry cutter. Add in about 2-3 tbsp of iced water at this point. – but only as much water as you need until the pastry comes together and forms a smooth dough. Try to work the dough as little as possible as you do not want to overwork the gluten in the flour.

4. Divide the dough into two flat discs and cling-wrap it. Leave it in the fridge to chill and rest for at least an hour.

To assemble pineapple tarts:

about 700g pineapple paste or homemade pineapple jam

egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp full-cream milk
pinch salt

1. Portion dough out into 11g portions. Portion out pineapple jam/paste into 8g portions – you can choose to use a melon scoop if it helps speed things up then use your hands to  roll them into balls. You can do this in advance and chill in the fridge for them to firm up so they will be easier to work with.

2. Dust your work surface with some flour. Roll out dough with a rolling pin under cling wrap (so it doesn’t stick easily). Place pineapple ball in the middle of the dough. Use palms to make a ball and shape it into a dome shape.

3. Space the rolled tarts about 1/2 inch apart (it doesn’t spread). Chill the tray of unbaked tarts for about 15-20 minutes for them to firm up and to relax the gluten. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

4. Whisk together the egg wash until well-combined. Brush the tops of the tarts with egg wash. Be careful not to drip excess egg wash onto the baking paper or it will burn.

6. Bake your pineapple tarts on the center rack of your pre-heated oven (180 degrees celcius) for about 22 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. For the last 5 minutes of baking, shift the tray of tarts to the top rack so that the top continues browning but the bottom does not burn.

*Tips for making pineapple tart pastry:

1. Like working with any form of pastry dough, you should work the dough as little as possible. You don’t want to develop the gluten if not the pastry will be very tough.

2. Always give your pastry dough time to rest in the fridge. Again, we are resting the gluten and keeping the dough chilled would mean that the butter in the dough would not be melting.

Homemade pineapple tarts 3


Posted in Baking, Chinese New Year, Pastry, Tarts & Pies | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments