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Well I am sure is all in our heads, but won’t you all agree that this year has gone extremely fast? It’s already the last month of the year and Christmas is only 21 sleeps away! I always thought, “Gee, I hardly achieved anything this year and it has already come to an end!” Well, can’t help it, I am a pessimist by nature. I always worried that I haven’t done enough and wasted a whole year and then a new year comes which means I have to start all over again! I know I am just being silly because if I really sit down and recuperate all the past events in this whole year, I actually did quite a lot!

Here is a lo-down:

– hosted a 4-day food photography masterclass in Daylesford

– running regular food photography workshops in Syd, Melb and Perth

– went to Kangaroo Island for the first time

– joined Servved

– photoshoot Ben O’donohue’s cookbook

– photoshoot Gelato Messina’s cookbook

– went to Victoria High Country for the first time

– Spent a weekend with instagrammers at Hamilton Island [video here]

Spent a whole month in USA with my parents

– went to Bali for the first time and surprisingly I enjoyed it

– created recipes for Home & Decor Malaysia magazine for 6 issues

– catered a private dinner function for 12 people just last week

– worked on interesting projects with The Galeries, Nespresso, Ocean Spray

– ambassador for Malaysia Kitchen and Givva Fork

– running Have You Eaten? Baking Club with monthly baking challenge

And one last event before the year ends…

I have just said yes to my editor to write my second cookbook.

I am very excited about the second book actually. It will be a totally different book compare to the first one, with less but closely curated recipes, different creative direction. And the only thing that stays the same is my involvement; I will still be running the whole show from the beginning to the end, from cooking to photographing. Call me a “Cookbook Nazi”,  this time I will also dip my fingers into the book design. So it will be 100% my vision and I can’t wait to kickstart on this project in 2014!

Once again, I do have to thank you all for your support throughout the year, buying my cookbook, coming to my photography workshops, or simply visiting my blog. I hope you all enjoyed an eventful year as much as I did, and looking forward to an even more exciting new year ahead!

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Baking Club December Challenge

Here, I would like to celebrate Christmas and the end of year with something a little different than your normal Christmas pudding, pavlova or trifle. I present you our final Baking Club monthly challenge, a red velvet bundt cake.

Before you are ready to tackle this challenge, yes you do need to go get yourself a bundt tin. I actually have a funny story about the bundt tin. I also didn’t have a bundt tin and had to go buy one myself for this challenge, so there I went with The Pom to the shopping mall to look for one. The whole time The Pom couldn’t understand what I want and kept asking me what I was looking for. Somehow there was some lost in translation with my Asian accent, he thought I was looking for “bunting” and wondering why I need the flags for baking. Now it becomes a joke and he thinks is funny every time I mention bundt tin. Anyhow, go and get a bundt tin, it is not that expensive as I found mine at the bargain shop for only $5.

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I had my first red velvet bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes in San Francisco and fell in love with it. I chose the red velvet cake simply because of the festive vibrant red colour. It is a simple recipe similar to the red velvet cupcakes, but in cake form and iced with cream cheese frosting. Then let your creativity shine and decorate the cake however you like, with flowers, sprinkles, couchous, all totally up to you.

For this challenge, I actually ended up baking two bundt cakes. The first one I baked it at 180C which gives the cake a darker brown outer layer, hence I have revised the recipe and baked the second one at 175C which gives me a better reddish brown exterior. But don’t count me on this one, it all depending on how hot your oven is. Just make sure to extend the cooking time if you are going to turn the temperature lower, and also the cake may not rise as high. I actually don’t mind that much on the brown layer on the outside as it gives a pleasant surprise when cut open revealing the vibrant red velvet cake inside.

So give this recipe a try and put a festive twist this Christmas.

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Red Velvet Bundt Cake

(recipe inspired from Nigella’s Red Velvet Cake)

Red Velvet Cake
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
a pinch of salt
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 ½ cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste/essence
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon of red food colouring paste

Cream cheese frosting
250g cream cheese, room temperature
115g butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste/essence

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C, grease a bundt tin with butter. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa into a bowl and set aside.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl of a food mixer on high speed until light and pale. Turn the speed down to low and add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla paste and beat well.

3. Alternate between flour and buttermilk, add them into the mixture a little bit at a time until all used. Add food colouring and beat well.

4. Pour mixture into bundt tin, jiggle and tap on bench top to get rid of air bubbles and level the mixture, bake in oven for 40-45mins, or until a skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake and comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes then tip the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Trim the base of the cake to make sure is levelled.

5. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a bowl of a food mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy. Turn the speed down to low, and add icing sugar one tablespoon at a time until all used.

6. To decorate, pipe the frosting from the side of the cake upward to the centre of the cake. Repeat until the whole cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting. Decorate the top with flowers of your choice.