Cheesecake Galore Part 1

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two months ago, I attended a workshop organised by At 19 Culinary Studio in conjunction with their series of Open Day demos to attract new students to sign up for the various classes available. Being eager to improve my baking skills, I registered for Cheesecake Galore Part 1 which was conducted by Sandy who is a cake decorator. The class focused on 2 recipes - Baked Japanese Cheesecake & Chilled Blueberry Cheesecake.

There were 6 of us in the class, naturally we were divided into 2 groups of 3 each. We started of learning how to prepare the Japanese version of the baked cheesecake. This cake is known for its soft, fluffy texture & less cheesy compared to other cheesecakes. It is technically challenging to bake this cake because every step is crucial to achieve the softness & fluffiness of the cake. One mistake made will spoil the texture & the mouth feel becomes less satisfactory. According to Sandy, we will not have problems with making other cheesecakes or baking other cakes if we're able to master the techniques required.

True as it is, one of my group members made a mistake by pouring the melted butter into the sponge cake mix before combining it in a mixer. The right step would be to pour the melted butter partially while mixing the sponge cake mix in the mixer. With that mistake, as a result, the sponge cake layer was tougher than it should be & less spongy than we hoped for. A lesson well learnt as it allows us to understand better each & every step & to differentiate what's the right or wrong cake texture.

After baking the sponge cake layer which serves as the base, the cream cheese mixture was poured over the sponge cake layer in a cake tin foil. We put the cake tin into the oven to bake for about 30 mins at 160 Celsius. The cake was baking beautifully inside the oven while we moved on to the next recipe.

The Chilled Blueberry Cheesecake, like all other chilled cheesecakes, is a fairly simple recipe for amateurs like us to master. There is no need to bake the cake & it's all about making sure the ingredients are combined well or risk having lumpy texture. All cheesecakes require a biscuit base in order to hold the cream cheese layer in place & this one is no exception. As soon as the ingredients were combined, we poured it into the prepared cake tin foil. Then we spread blueberry jam evenly over the cream cheese layer & immediately store the cakes in the chiller. Meanwhile, our Japanese cheesecakes were ready & left to cool on the rack.

Due to time constraint, we had to remove the blueberry cheesecakes from the chiller only after half an hour. By practice, chilled cheesecake needs to chilled overnight to allow the cake to set in before serving. It still can be consumed, the only thing is it will taste more like a cream dessert rather than a proper cheesecake. Each of us get to bring home our masterpiece. =D

Although my Japanese cheesecake turned out to be stiff & heavy, it still tasted good in the mouth. Yesh! Whereas the blueberry one tasted heavenly...more than enough to satisfy my midnight craving. XD

Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

Monday, November 19, 2012

The most anticipated event of the year (among fans) is none other than Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy. For the first time, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) has decided to perform selected soundtracks from our all-time favourite video game saga - Final Fantasy.

WL wanted to purchase the CD but too bad it was sold out quicker than expected. The only thing I managed to grab is a copy of the performance set list. No words can describe how we felt (me, my sis & WL) the minute we entered the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) to see young men & women in their late 20-30s. This is indeed a gathering of fans who once grew up playing the Final Fantasy series, be it on the earlier Nintendo platform to the most advanced PS3 or Xbox platforms.

Among all the MPO performances I attended previously, this show was different because it contained visual display projected on a large screen. I think this is a plus point - not only preventing boredom among first timers watching orchestral performances (I bet 60%-70% of them in the hall are "orchestra virgins") but also doing us a fan service to remind us of all those classic moments in each series.

The show lasted for almost 2 hours with a 20 mins interval break. Good for the audiences to stretch their legs while the musicians take a breather before preparing for the next performance. Towards the end, we were treated with a surprise encore performance as a token of gratitude for our never ending support. What was the most unforgettable performance yesterday? I'd have to admit there were more than one song, actually. My favourites are definitely the ones listed below:
  1. Memoro de la Stono by Stephanie Van Driesen & Dithyrambic Singers
  2. Opera: Maria and Darco by Ho Chi Mei, James Long Cai Hunt & Mak Chi Hoe
  3. Suteki Dane by Stephanie Van Driesen - encore performance
  4. Fallen Angel - encore performance
Kudos to the conductor, Arnie Roth for being so passionate & enthusiastic in bringing the sounds of Final Fantasy come to life. For your info, Arnie Roth has worked with the legendary Nobuo Uematsu & Square Enix as Music Director & Conductor for many Final Fantasy related orchestral performances. I couldn't help but shed tears of joy for such a heartwarming experience. It was definitely an afternoon to remember...

Pic courtesy of Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) Facebook

Dumb & dumber

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ever since I took up a new job at this company, I've realised that a lot of work processes are not in place. Not only getting a certain task done can be a rocket science, seems like I have to downgrade my English proficiency just so people would not misunderstand me another word.

Most of the time, the culture is like this - people do not "listen", they "hear". In other words, they do not take your words seriously. Most of them take things for granted too & assumed that they will not be held responsible if things go awry. That's just because nobody reprimands them anyway.

And then there's the GM whom behaves like your father who gets too worked up & personal over work matters. The non-stop nagging will follow suit which could last until an hour or so. The next thing you'll know is that you'll never get a piece of advice out of it. His words are a mumbo-jumbo of words from none other than a typical old man venting his frustration.

I supposed that I can tolerate as you can never choose your boss unless you work for yourself. But to actually downgrade my working style to get accustomed to most people here (who are barely qualified for their job role) is totally unacceptable. *sighs* I wonder how long I go on like this without getting a heart attack. =(