Homemade mandarin orange marmalade crostata (crostata di marmellata)

marmalade crostata 4

I have never tried a crostata di marmellata (jam tart) until I travelled to Italy. I did not even have that in a restaurant because it is not a restaurant dessert but the kind of cake that you find in the homes of nonnas or regular Italians.  I was fortunate to be in a home of Angela, and her homemade jams and crostatas.

While I was staying in this beautiful bed and breakfast in the Umbrian countryside, we were treated to a homemade breakfast feast daily.

For me, her homemade jams were the best and they came in a range of flavours – range, raspberries to marmalades. But it was the crostata di marmellata that made a stronger impression. I was in heaven the moment I tasted her homemade jam crostata – if memory did not serve me wrong,  it was a strawberry one and it just wasn’t like anything I’ve tried before. It is certainly not some fancy pastry, and it’s never so with Italian sweets, but it was simply delicious.

marmalade crostata 2

A crostata is not quite a tart yet not quite a cake – its texture kind of falls in between the two. The Italians seem to have discovered something in this in-between, for it is so good.

Since I had leftover Italian tipo “00” flour from my pasta making foray, I put that into good use in this crostata.

I think the best crostatas are usually made with homemade jam. I may be bias so do go on to use a good store-bought variety if you need to.

I used the mandarin orange marmalade that I made over the Chinese New Year period for this. I loved it in the crostata.

I always love looking at a lattice-top tart. While it may take a teeny bit of patience to do the interlace pattern, the results are always the most pleasing to the eye. I do admit that on lazy days (that occur quite frequently), I simply make a criss-cross pattern or use a cookie cutter to place some shapes on the tart instead.

I filled the two smaller tartlets with nutella for a nutella crostata but I found that the nutella becomes rather dry after baking – I would probably add a little more neutral oil like grapeseed oil to the nutella before baking the next time. Any ideas how to combat that problem is much-welcomed.


nutella crostata


Recipe: Homemade marmalade crostata
Makes a 24cm fluted tart, plus two 8cm fluted tarts
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller Australia

180g “00” Tipo flour (otherwise, substitute with bread flour)
60g icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar, sifted
50g almond meal/ground almond
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1 egg and 1 yolk, room temperature (may not need all)

Mandarin orange marmalade – refer to recipe in this post (homemade jam/marmalade would be best in the crostata. If you are using store-bought ones, you might want to whisk the juice of half a lemon so it wouldn’t be too sweet)
you need about 350-400g marmalade/jam


1. Whisk together flour, icing sugar, almond meal and orange zest. Add in cubed butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you get coarse breadcrumb-like texture.

2. Add in the egg and vanilla extract (add about 3/4 first) and bring the mixture together until just combined. Add in more egg as needed and stop adding once the mixture comes together. Then shape the dough into a flat disc and cover it with cling wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

3. When the dough is chilled and well=rested, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll the dough out to about 4mm thick and line the tart tins. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into 1 cm thick stripes and use it to form a lattice on the top of the tart.

4. Fill the tart with the marmalade, just spread a thin layer of it – you don’t need a thick layer of it as jam/marmalade is sweet.Place the lattice pattern on top and refrigerate the tarts while you preheat the oven.

5. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celcius and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown. The small tartlets would take about 20 – 25 minutes.

6. Allow the crostatas to cool on a cooling rack for about 10 -15 minutes before turning it out from the tins and cooling further. Serve the crostata with a dusting of icing sugar and some chantilly cream on the side.


marmalade crostata marmalade crostata 3

















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The perfect soy marinated molten egg (Ajitsuke Tamago )

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*This is a scheduled post as I’ll be on my way to France as you read this.

I’m about to share with you a dish that appears on my kitchen table too frequently – soy marinated molten eggs or Ajisuke Tamgo.

The only thing that is holding me back from having these is the dreaded cholesterol from egg yolks and that is my favourite part of the egg.

I wouldn’t actually call it a recipe because it’s dead easy and it involves just a main ingredient with a few pantry staples and pretty much anyone can make this.

I love adding a soy marinated egg to my salads – it makes me look forward to the salads even more so when there is this egg involved.

I love serving this egg as an appetiser because it is quick to make, to multiply and is always a crowd-pleaser – everyone from my niece who is three years old to even those who claim “not to be an egg person” love this.

Since it involves so few ingredients, the key to having a good marinated molten egg is the time of cooking the egg. I’ve read so many articles on how to cook the perfect molten egg – I’m sure that there are many ways to do it. I use this method just because it works for me every single time (aside frm that one time when I forgot to set the timer for my eggs).

I’m pretty much known as the queen of eggs because of this – can’t say I’m most pleased with this epithet.

I like my egg yolks in this state – molten, set but not quite set, not runny and definitely not too cooked. What I detest most is overcooked egg yolks where the edges of the egg go grey, where the egg whites turn rubbery, and when the egg begins to give off a sulfurous smell.  I learnt of it from reading Hérve This’, a French chemist, “Kitchen mysteries” – a very good read for those who want to understand the science behind cooking in an accessible manner.

Before I start to get too technical (honestly, science isn’t at all my forte), I shall leave you as promised with probably one of the easiest recipe.

Have an egg-citing weekend and happy Easter  to all of you.


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Recipe: Soy marinated molten egg (Ajitsuke Tamago )

Feel free to multiply the recipe for the no. of eggs that you have. If you have larger/smaller eggs, you would have to adjust your cooking time. Once you find that sweet spot, you can do it every single time. The timing for cooking the egg yields a molten texture – set but not firm, almost like a custard like texture.

4-5 eggs (about 71 -75g, in shell), use right out of the fridge
3 tbsp light soy sauce like Kikkomun (for gluten-free folks, use tamari sauce instead)
2 tbsp mirin
a knob of ginger, skin removed and sliced(optional)
to serve: bonito flakes and nori stripes

1. Place cold eggs (right out of the refrigerator) into a pot of tap water with the water just slightly above the eggs. Add a big pinch of salt.

2. Place the pot on medium heat and bring it to a boil. Once the water start boiling (rolling boil, turn off the heat but leave the pot with the eggs and water on the stove for 5 minutes – use a timer.

3. After 5 minutes, plunge the eggs into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This is important, otherwise, the eggs will continue to cook through. Only start to peel the egg shells off once the eggs are completely cooled. It is easier to do that when the eggs are completely cooled.

4. Place the eggs into a zip bloc bag/plastic bag. Add in the ginger and soy sauce. Place the eggs in the soy sauce marinade in the fridge for about 3 hrs (turning the eggs around once or twice so that the marinade will be even). I find that there is enough flavour after 3 hrs. Do not leave it for too long or the soy will permeate the yolks and cause a change in texture.

5. Slice the eggs into half before serving. You can top with toasted sesame seeds, bonito flakes or thinly cut nori (just a few serving suggestions).

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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)

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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


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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


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