My first two recipes using my new tiny doughnut pan

My godmother sent me my first doughnut pan all the way from Taiwan last month. It’s been pretty darn near impossible to find the thing locally so you can probably imagine how I felt the moment I opened the package and saw it. I was over the moon! Even though a moment later I realized the pan was way smaller than the normal size, I was more than happy to receive it. It’s so much better than not having a pan at all! (She also sent over a doughnut cutter for yeasted doughnuts but we can talk about that later on.) 

I’m not such an avid doughnut-eater but I have wanted for the longest time to make some at home. I have some fascination over trying to figure out why the little suckers seem to draw so much attention. If any of you have ever seen the lines in any JCo branch all over Metro Manila you might understand what I mean. What is it about doughnuts that make people wait for the longest time and exit the store with boxes upon boxes piled up in their arms? Is it a phenomenon seen only in the Philippines? (I don’t recall any lines at all in JCo stores in other Asian countries I visited.) At some point I thought to myself, will making it help me understand this intense love for doughnuts?

There is some strange circular reasoning coming into play here. Bear with me please!

Funny story about my long search for doughnut pans. After months of leaving store after store with head bowed down in failure, I resorted to asking acquaintances living abroad for help. But after my pan arrived, by some ironic twist of chance, I actually chanced upon a Wilton doughnut pan as I was browsing through the Living Well Store in the SM Mall of Asia. This happened several weeks ago but I remember the scene like it was yesterday.

There were exactly two Wilton pans sitting quietly on a shelf and it was my brother Jason who saw them first. Bells of hallelujah started ringing in my head. Deep inside I did a little happy dance. It seems a bit weird and overly dramatic, but do you know that pleasant feeling of overwhelming surprise you get when you have given up the search for something and suddenly it appears quite unexpected before your eyes?

Yep, that’s the one! Life is full of awesome surprises sometimes! :D

One thing I regret is not buying both pans. As of this writing I have not tried the Wilton pan yet because I actually made these doughnuts way before that fateful visit. However the difference in size of the pans was made more jarring when I got to compare them side by side. 

As you can see, the pan from Taiwan is nearly just as tall as an iPhone 5. The doughnuts it produces is somewhere in the middle of a regular-sized one and a mini. I didn’t mind but it does mess a bit with the stated yields in the recipe. Also, having only this small one meant I had to pop out the first batch of doughnuts and quickly clean the pan, then I have to grease it again and refill it just to get the remaining batter into the oven. It does require quite a bit more work! Nonetheless, I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful ingrate. This doughnut pan is special because it came from someone I adore to bits. I was extremely excited about my first doughnut pan that I had to try it out immediately.

Interestingly enough there seems to be more to it than just baking them doughnuts in the pan. Overmixing the batter for cake doughnuts is a sin. There is also a proper way of piping the batter and a proper quantity when filling each empty slot in the pan to attain that perfect plump doughnut shape. I didn’t really think of any of these since… I mean, doughnuts. And cake doughnuts at that! How complicated could they be? Luckily I had the foresight to start out with two of my personal favourite flavours– you know, flavours I would probably still eat in case I mess the recipe up somehow. More luckily still, in this house anything green tea and lemon is usually a safe bet.
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My first Teppanyaki-All-You-Can Experience at Yurakuen Diamond Hotel

As a general rule, I never go to any form of buffet or all-you-can eat affair unless it’s lunch time. I don’t have the appetite one might expect from someone with an athletic build standing 5 feet 9-1/2 inches, but when I’m sitting in a buffet I always tend to push myself to the limit. As we are all aware buffets typically charge a steep price tag, so I find it hard not to eat more than usual to justify what I just paid for.

Sometimes you don’t tend to realize exactly how much you’ve devoured until you’re walking out of the restaurant– barely walking that is, because you’re too full you can hardly move properly! So imagine my surprise when I walk out of this pig-out session at Diamond Hotel’s Yurakuen not feeling like I stuffed myself silly for the first time ever in the history of my all-you-can-eat forays!

When we arrived at the restaurant, my eyes were immediately drawn to the door at the end of the hallway leading to Yurakuen’s main dining hall. I am definitely impressed by the Japanese vibe this lovely glass room emits. There is a bonsai-like glass tree in the center which I presume gets lighted in the evening. This place is where they serve the ala carte dishes, which was not what we were here for at the time unfortunately.

My Dad had the idea of trying this place out to celebrate the birthday of my youngest brother, but he specifically wanted to go for the Teppanyaki All-You-Can-Eat. And with the help of membership cards we got 50% off for two persons per card. At Php 2,800 per person, a half-off discount is a pretty big deal. I know, it’s pretty darn expensive! But with the 50% off you can convince yourself that you’re getting a buy-one-get-one deal. Right?

However in truth, I do think Diamond Hotel tries very hard to match up to your money’s worth. They’ve got a slew of fresh seafood and meats available for teppanyaki, as well as fresh vegetables and options for stir-fried noodles and rice. An added value is of course the live performance by their trained teppanyaki chefs, where your food is cooked right before your eyes with great pizzazz.

You can request the chef to do this as many times as you’d like!
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A farewell to summer, but never to ice cream

The weather has been crazy lately; changing from a sweltering summer heat to gloomy and rainy in a span of mere hours, and then back again. After an angry bout of rain, a blinding sort of sunlight beams itself down and soon enough the ground is dry and all signs of storm in the previous hour disappears. Until it rains again, that is. It’s the sort of indecisive weather that can make people catch colds. It’s the sort of indecisive weather that ruins plans.

However there are certain things that aren’t dependent on the weather, and easily plenty of them involve food. There are comfort food and spicy food best for cold weather, there are refreshing food best for hot days, but off the top of my head, something that fits regardless of the temperatures is ice cream. I looove it in the summertime but I also can’t keep away from it when it’s cold, not even when I’m sitting through winter weather. Something about fighting the cold with more cold.

Luckily since the Philippines is mostly a hot country, ice cream is always such a huge hit all year round. July is supposed to be the start of the rainy season here, but it is also [Inter?]National Ice Cream Month. And you all know I love ice cream too much to let that food holiday pass! The proof is in the number of homemade ice cream I’ve created already.

I find that making ice cream at home gives one the best opportunities in conjuring flavours normally not seen in many commercial settings. I mean, I’ve never seen any banana-flavoured ice cream in the supermarket before. Most especially not a Caramelized Banana Ice Cream flavour like the one I’m sharing today.
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In search of happy inducers at the moment

It’s been a while since I’ve felt as stressed as I have been in the last few days. I wish I could just chill out and detach myself from work like most normal people do, but one of my greatest flaws has always been being too absorbed in all the things I do. Regardless of whether I like it or not, I always feel that if I’m already spending my time doing something I might as well do it well. Even in the things I am not so enthusiastic about, some of my passion floods over. On the opposite end, when I am actually enthusiastic about something and it fails, my heart crumbles to pieces painfully. Either way, I think we can agree that being too much of a “perfectionist” can be the source of a lot of stress. 

In my need for things to be perfect I think I expect too much out of other people too. I always expect them to work at the same level as I do; expect them to give as much effort and time and sweat as I do. Usually this sort of trust ends in misery and disappointment, as I seem to never fully learn even if I’ve been burned countless times before. In my lifetime I have come across maybe only four or five people I can say do have my back for real (and I thank the Lord everyday for these people), but I guess having too much hope and faith in others can be a weakness too.

Anything that exists in the real world feels ten times more frustrating than anything I ever experienced in the world of academe. Back then all I had to work for was myself. Any triumph and failures would directly affect only my grades and whether or not I reach my goal of graduating with honours (which I did thankfully). But when you’re out in the real world it’s no longer just about you. There is an overwhelming amount of factors seemingly welded together in a chain– a lot of people are counting on you to deliver, a lot of events depend on whether you execute well or not. And if you think about how you’re going to make sure absolutely everything in the chain gets what it wants, then it will drive you crazy. So sometimes, it helps to step back. Ironically this is easier said than done in my case.

Usually I just get mad when things don’t go smoothly as planned. I get really pissed off when people mess up simple tasks and instructions. And you know what comes next: Stresssssss. I hate stress. I didn’t use to experience it so much before but it has admittedly become a mainstay in my life as of late. There have been a lot of moments in these last two weeks when I’ve had to hold my anger very very tightly in the palm of my hands, and it’s a good thing that I know myself well enough to know how to make my anger and stress flow out of me:

1. I’ve sat in a corner and forced myself to breathe in and out, all the while thinking I’m too young to let myself get this worked up.

2. I’ve blasted Charli XCX and Boom Clapped my head off in my room after coming home from work. (I am currently insanely addicted to that song though I haven’t watched the film it is attached to.)

3. And of course I have baked. But I didn’t just bake any regular thing. It had to be something that I would look at and feel relaxed with, and nothing does that like the green-tinged pastries produced by some great-quality matcha.

In my world, nothing much else says zen like the colour green. I can sit by myself in a breezy park and stare at the gentle swaying of the trees on the leaves and instantly it would pick me up. I can stare at the horizon while sitting on a grassy field and the meeting of greens and blues would lift up my spirits. And on the days the outdoors are ruled out because of the arrival of the rainy season, now I can stay home and bake something green.

I know it’s tough to buy real matcha powder in the Philippines, but because of the influx of online shops it seems like a lot of things are more accessible these days. Previously I spent so much time looking for a seller that imports Japanese brands, but finally I came across Cebu-based online store Matcha King. I got myself a pack of 87 grams of their self-packaged Organic Matcha for Php 400 (for Manila residents please remember to pay an extra Php 50 service fee when paying for your orders!) but Claire from Matcha King was kind enough to throw in a 34 gram packet for me. :)

To say I am very pleased with the quality of the products is an understatement. Right from the smell I can tell it is of good quality. The colour is also a lovely natural green that is not the pale kind found in sweetened instant mixes. Green tea has long been known to be healthful and full of antioxidants, so stocking up on matcha was a no-brainer for me. Yet I’ve no plans in drinking this, and this bundt cake is the first among many I am planning to bake with this beautiful ingredient. 
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