Straight from the heart

My mirror-glazed choco-coffee mousse cake


Straight from the heart

​Mirror-glazed strawberry mousse cake – The journey of my Japanese-inspired gluten-free sponge cake Part 3


Straight from the heart

Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream

I must say I prefer the Swiss meringue buttercream over the American buttercream, because of its silky smooth and fluffy texture.


  • 400 grams granulated sugar
  • 450 grams softened butter
  • 9 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla beans

1. Use a bain marie to heat the egg whites and sugar.
2. When the mixture becomes frothy and hot (you can see the steam), remove from heat and whisk with an electric mixer at low-medium to medium-high speed until it becomes thick, shiny, white, and stiff.
3. Once the eggs whites are room temperature and stiff, add the cool-but-soft butter a tablespoon at a time, while the mixer runs on low-medium speed.
4. Keep whisking until the buttercream becomes fluffy and silky smooth.
5. Add in the vanilla beans and the vanilla extract.


Straight from the heart

Mirror-glazed strawberry mousse cake – The journey of my Japanese-inspired gluten-free sponge cake Part 2

So, I have been busy creating my mom’s perfect birthday cake, and I’m getting there! There’s still room for improvement as I aim for perfection, however, this is a huge milestone! Although my final goal is to create a gluten-free and lactose-free cake, I decided to begin with the traditional ingredients, before making adjustments.

Mirror-glazed strawberry mousse cake


Topped with strawberry glaze


Just the right proportion


Ingredients for the sponge cake:

  • 55 grams low protein flour
  • 35 grams butter
  • 33 grams soy milk or lactose-free milk
  • 40 grams caster sugar
  • 40 grams graulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • Âź teaspoon baking powder (2:1 cream of tartar: baking soda)
  • ⅛ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven at 160Âş C
2. Put butter in a sauce pan and melt in low heat.
3. Add in the granulated sugar. Stir.
4. Add in one egg yolk one at a time, while continuing stirring until smooth and creamy.
5. Mix the baking powder and the flour together. Sift.
6. Add the flour mixture into the slightly cooled butter & egg mixture. Stir gently until it is totally incorporated.
7. Add cream of tartar and lemon juice to the egg whites and beat. Gradually add small amounts of caster sugar. Continue whisking the egg whites to stiff peaks.
8. Take ⅓ of the beaten egg whites and mix it into the butter & egg batter. Take another ⅓ and fold. Repeat. The consistency of the batter at this stage should be airy and bouncy NOT fluid! It should drop instead of flow.
9. Pour the batter into two 16 cm baking tin or silicone mould – about an inch thick. Alternatively, you can just pour all the batter in one 16 cm baking tin.
10. Fill a deep baking tray with about 500 ml water, and place the baking tin in it.
11. Bake for 2 hours.
12. Remove and allow to cool.


Ingredients for the strawberry mousse:

  • 600 grams frozen strawberries
  • 100 grams sugar
  • Âź teaspoon agar agar
  • 125 milliliter water
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • Lemon juice

1. Warm the frozen strawberries and add the sugar.
2. Bring to boil. Remove from heat after 3 minutes.
3. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Allow to cool.
4. Set aside 400 ml strawberry sirup. This will be used for the glaze.
5. Strain to remove the seeds. Set aside.
6. Sprinkle Âź teaspoon agar agar in 125 ml of water.
7. Keep whisking while bringing it to boil.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
9. Slowly pour half the agar agar into the strawberry mash. Keep stirring while doing this.
10. Whisk the cream o soft peaks.
11. Take ⅓ of the strawberry mash and blend with ⅓ of the whipped cream. Repeat gently until the cream and the mash are totally incorporated.

Ingredients for the strawberry glaze:

  • 400 millilitres strawberry sirup
  • 125 milliliters of water
  • Âź teaspoon agar agar

1. Using an immersiona blender, blend the sirup. Don’t move the blender up and down as we do not want to create bubbles.
2. Prepare the agar agar gelatine. (Steps 6-8 above) Allow to cool only slightly.
3. Slowly pour half the agar agar gelatine into the strawberry sirup. Keep stirring while doing this.
4. The temperature of the mixture should be around 29Âş C before pouring over a frozen cake!

Assembling the cake:
1. Cut the edge of the cake – about 1.5 cm from the edge.
2. Pour the mousse into a tin form that is bigger than the cake.
3. Position the cake in the center and gently press down until it is even with the mousse.
4. Freeze overnight or for at least 4 -5 hours.
5. While waiting for the glaze to reach 29Âş C, take out the cake and place it on top of a glass or something that supports its center. Gently remove the top tin.
6. Glaze the cake.
7. Gently remove any excess drippings.
8. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate.


1.Remember to grease your tins before using them!

Straight from the heart

The journey of my Japanese-inspired gluten-free sponge cake Part 1

I haven’t seen my family for 3 years, and I’m so excited that they’re visiting me in exactly 2 months!!! Just can’t wait!!! They will arrive a week after my mom’s birthday. In connection to this, my sisters and I thought we’d surprise her with a birthday cake. Now, my mom loves the spongy texture of a cake. I, however, have never made a sponge cake! Too much sugar in it, and you can’t really substitute it unless you want a less favorable result!

Feeling a bit gutted, I dropped my plan of making her a strawberry and cream cake when I accidentally came across these beautiful, Japanese fluffly pancakes on the net! Hmm… Perhaps I could use their recipe to make a sponge cake?! Of course it will involve a number of trial and errors, but I’m hopeful that by the 13th May 2018, I will update this blog with my envisioned strawberry and cream birthday cake for my beloved mom! ♡

Trial #1: Fluffly Japanese pancake

Fluffy Japanese pancake.jpg

Fluffly Japanese pancake


Thick, light, fluffly and litterally spongy


Trial #2: Tall and fluffly Japanese pancake


Day 2, Trial #2: All the ingredients and the measurements are the same, but I cooked it in the pan with a lid on. Pour the batter in a greased or non-stick mould, and fill it ž full. Allow one side to cook for 10 minutes on low-medium heat. Turn and cook the other side for about 5 minutes on low heat.

Let the pancake cool before taking it out of the mould to ensure fine edges. I think lining it with a parchment paper will help maintain a smooth edge.


Trial #3: Steamed sponge cake


Trial #3: All the ingredients and the measurements are the same, but I lined the tin and steamed the batter. The texture didn’t turn out as spongy as the previous one. To be honest, it looks more like a puto – a Filipino rice cake. 😀


Trial #4: Raspberry and cream sponge cake



Needs a more even cut


Beautiful texture and layering

Trial #4: All the ingredients and the measurements are the same, except for the following:

  • Normal flour with 9.5% protein
  • Ordinary sugar (20 g for the batter and 50 g for the egg whites)
  • Method
  • Lactose-free pastry cream*
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Powdered icing sugar for dusting

I was going to give the cake to my local pet shop, so I stuck to the more traditional ingredients and methods. I whisked the softened butter with the sugar until it’s pale. I then added one egg yolk at a time while whisking. Next came in the flour with the baking powder, and lastly the beaten egg whites. Baked in a bain marie or water bath for about 1 ½ hours at 150 ÂşC.

It seems that the texture is more sponge-like as shown above!

*Lactose-free pastry cream
2 egg yolks
40 g sugar
40g potato starch
240 ml soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Warm the soy milk on low heat. In a bowl mix the egg yolks and the sugar together. Add the potato starch and blend until smooth. Turn off the heat when small bubbles begin to appear. Slowly pour the soy milk – small portions at a time – in the egg yolk mixture and whisk quickly. Repeat until everything is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and the lemon zest. Warm the pastry cream on low heat and whisk until it thickens. Allow to cool before using it.


Servings: 2 (7-inch pancakes)


  • 55 grams buckwheat flour
  • 35 grams butter
  • 33 grams soy milk
  • 20 grams palm sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • Âź teasppon baking powder (2:1 cream of tartar: baking soda)
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar


1. Insert a tray half-filled with water in the oven. Preheat at 150Âş C
2. Melt the butter in low heat.
3. Add the soy milk and the sugar. Stir.
4. Mix the baking powder and the flour together.
5. Add the flour mixture into the slightly cooled butter. Whisk gently until creamy.
6. Add in the egg yolks. Blend until smooth and creamy.
7. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the batter Âź at a time until everything is incorporated.
8. Pour the batter into two 18 cm baking tin or silicone mould – about an inch thick.
9. Place the tins on the tray in the oven, and bake for about 12 minutes.

1. The baking time depends on the size of the tin and the amount of the batter. If using a smaller but deeper mould, 15 minutes of baking time is more suitable.
2. Remember to grease your tins before using them!

Straight from the heart

Sweet Pillow Talk

Who doesn’t love these miniature pasta that ressemble small fluffy pillows?! When the texture is right – light and soft – gnocchi are one of the best pasta to eat with any good sauce – sweet or savoury. Below is my take on sweet potato gnocchi.


Gluten & grain-free sweet potato gnocchi in butter, cinnamon, and chili maple syrup. 


Gluten & grain-free gnocchi in butter, cinnamon, and chili maple syrup


The flour (with the psyllium husk powder) is beautifully incorporated, and the gnocchi are pale orange in color. They stand firm yet soft inside.

Servings: 55 pieces gnocchi


  • 150 g quinoa flour + extra for dusting and rolling
  • 420 g baked & peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp psyllium husk powder
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Chili flakes
  • Maple syrup


  1. Put the baked and peeled sweet potatoes in a ricer and squeeze them out on a rolling mat.
  2. Mix flour and psyllium husk powder. Sprinkle the flour mixture generously on top of the mashed sweet potatoes.
  3. Use a dough slicer or a spoon to mix and blend the ingredients.
  4. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the dough has come together. You most probably need to add extra gluten-free flour as you go along. (I use buckwheat, too.) It’s all about the feel – soft inside, a bit sticky yet firm on the overall. The color should be a shade lighter than the original. Shape into a ball.
  5. Divide the dough into 4, and roll each smaller portion into a long cylindrical shape about 1.5 cm in diameter.
  6. Cut the elongated dough into small pieces about 2 cm each. Cover well in flour.
  7. Boil some water.
  8. Put in the gnocchi when it boils.
  9. Continue to let the water boil for a few minutes when the gnocchi surfaces, and take them out shortly.
  10. Heat the butter in a frying pan.
  11. Add the gnocchi. Toss.
  12. Sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon and add some chili flakes. Toss.
  13. Pour about 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Toss.
  14. Shave some orange zest. (Optional) Serve warm.


1. Excess cut and shaped gnocchi dough should be stored in the freezer!
2. You stop adding flour when the dough is soft but firm when you lift it up. It is a
tad sticky but workable.
3. Sweet potatoes have more liquid than potatoes, it’s a good idea to add 1 tsp psyllium husk poweder to the flour.
4. For this recipe I used a total of about 175 g of quinoa flour including dusting.


Straight from the heart

Gluten & grain-free profiteroles

I’m finally happy with and proud of my profiteroles! They are crispy on the outside, light, hollow in the center and well-risen. These profiteroles are all screaming, “Fill me up with crème pât!!!”

You can store the shells in dry place, and fill them up the next day.  I put them in a cool oven overnight with the door ajar.

Grain & gluten-free profiteroles

Servings: 15 profiteroles

Ingredients for the choux pastry:

  • 55 g butter
  • 65 g buckwheat flour
  • 3 small beaten eggs
  • 120 ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp stevia


1. Preheat oven to 200 C (Gas mark 4)
2. Add together all the dry ingredients – flour, salt and stevia.
3. Heat the water and add in the butter.
4. As the mixture begins to simmer, add in the pre-mixed dry ingredients.
5. Remove from heat and whisk vigorously until sticky and creamy.
6. When it comes together, put it back on medium heat and continue whisking for about
2 – 3 minutes.
7. Beat the eggs.
8. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs into the slightly cooled choux mixture.
9. Whisk vigorously until sticky and creamy.
10. Repeat Steps 9 and 10, until the texture is very sticky and when it drops, it holds its
form. When you lift up the batter with a spoon, it
should stick to it, but at the same time, the batter should readily drop. Leave a teeny
bit of egg wash.
11. Pipe 15 equal sized choux buns on a silicone baking sheet on a baking tray.
12. Dip your fingertip in remaining beaten eggs, and gently press down the tips of the profiteroles. Also carefully wipe some egg wash around them.
13. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes.
14. Turn the heat down to 180 C (Gas mark 3), and bake for another 30 – 35 minutes or until the profiteroles are golden brown.
15. Turn off the oven and take them out. Using a chopstick, prick a hole at the bottom of each of the profiterole.
16. Put them back invertedly in the oven to dry out.


You can use the same recipe for eclairs.

Ingredients for crème pât:

  • 300 ml lactose-free milk
  • ½ vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20 g buckwheat flour
  • 20 g potato starch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 12 pitted dates
  • 1 tsp stevia


I substituted refined sugar with dates. The result of the filling will be light brown, but the taste will still be beautiful.


Straight from the heart

A date with raspberry brownies

Not only are these brownies grain & gluten-free, but they also contain no refined sugar – only that from the chocolate bar! The secret ingredient: DATES! They contain natural sugars and insoluble fiber, which help in the digestion process and the regulation of blood sugar levels as the sugar they provide is slowly absorbed into the body.

Grain & gluten-free raspberry brownies


  • 185 g butter
  • 185 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp baking powder (1:2 baking soda : cream of tartar)
  • 13 pitted dates
  • 3 eggs
  • 85 g almond flour
  • 40 g raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½  tbsp cider vinegar
  • 200 g fresh raspberries


1. Preheat oven to 170 C (Between Gas mark 2 and 3)
2. Mix the eggs and the dates with a blender until the mixture turns creamy.
3. Soften the butter and the chocolate in a bain-marie. Whisk until smoothly blended.
Remove from heat to cool.
4. Shift the flour, the baking powder and the cacao powder.
5. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Blend well.
6. Shift the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Blend well.
7. Spread half the batter into a baking tin/pan.
8. Add the raspberries into the other half of the batter. Mix gently. Spread it on top
of the first layer.
9. Into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until done (do the toothpick test).

Notes: The salted caramel sauce is optional. I used this recipe and substituted double cream with lactose-free cream, and brown sugar with palm sugar. (Tastes more like butter toffee sauce :))



Straight from the heart

Grain-free & lactose-free carrot muffins

I woke up this morning and felt like having some carrot muffins, so I just whipped up a recipe. They turned out to be surprisingly good. 🙂

Carrot muffins

carrot muffin

Servings: 9 small muffins (70 g each)


  • 70 g softened butter
  • 125 g buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp psyllium husk powder
  • 200 g shredded carrots
  • 12 pitted dates
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp cinammon powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder (1:2 baking soda : cream of tartar)
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • a bit of liquid like whey from kefir milk


1. Preheat oven to 170 C (Between Gas mark 2 and 3)
2. Mix the eggs and the dates with a blender until the mixture turns creamy.
3. Add the softened butter and whisk until the butter is fully blended.
4. Add the carrots, the vanilla extract and the vinegar and mix.
5. Whisk together the flour, the baking powder, the cinammon powder, and the psyllium husk powder.
6. Add # 4 to the carrot mixture and mix.
7. Add a bit of soya milk until the mixture reaches the right batter consistency – thick but not stiff.
8. Fill up ž of the muffin tins.
9. Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes. Use the toothpick method to check if they are done.

You can double the portion of carrots if you want more carrots.
45 g per muffin tin.
Serve with creamed milk kefir with a bit of lemon zest. 


Straight from the heart

Homemade soda

A ginger bug is a lactic acid culture started from shredded raw ginger root and sugar (or honey) mixed together in dechlorinated water. When the ginger bug has matured to a slightly fizzy state, the strained liquid will contain lactobacillus which is used to ferment sugar in the beverage you add it to. The ratio is, generally, 250 ml of ginger bug to 1 liter of sweet beverage for a 250 ml flip top bottle.

Lemon & ginger soda


I mixed 50 ml of ginger bug to 200 ml of lemonade ( juice of half a lemon, water and honey). I placed the bottled mixture in a dark and warm area of my kitchen and allowed it to ferment for 3 days. The result is shown in this video. Of course, like any other carbonated drinks, you don’t want to shake before opening them!  I guess I just wanted to present the outcome in a more dramatic way! Haha… 😀

Inspired by Wellness Mama’s recipe, I added my own twist.


  • 2 tbsp grated organic ginger (with skin)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 480 ml dechlorinated water

1. Add all the ingredients into a flip top mason jar and stir.
2. Add 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp honey and 2 tbsp water each day for the next 5 days.
3. The culture is active when bubbles form around the top of the mixture, fizzes when stirred and smells a bit yeasty.

Feed the culture with ginger, honey and water every now and then to keep it alive.
Replace the same amount of liquid with water every time you use some of the ginger bug. 


Root beer soda


I’m now in the process of making a root beer. I’m inspired by Nourished Kitchen’s recipe, and I altered it a bit. Instead of adding sugar, I added honey. I also skipped a few ingredients, thinking it might not make a significant difference to the final taste.


  • 50 g sassafras root bark
  • 50 g winter green leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sarsaparilla root
  • 1 stick licorice root
  • 1 tablespoon dandelion root
  • 1 tablespoon birch bark
  • 1 tablespoon wild cherry tree bark
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 250 ml honey
  • 140 ml ginger bug

1. Boil 2 liters of water.
2. Add all ingredients except the honey and the ginger bug.
3. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.
4. Let the mixture cool down and allow it to infuse overnight.
5. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove herbs and barks.
6. Add honey to the strained liquid, and stir until it is dissolved.
7. Add the ginger bug. Stir.
8. Pour the mixture into swing top glass bottles.
9. Store the bottles in a dark and warm place for 3- 4 days to allow secondary fermentation. (Mine was ready after 2 days)
10. Allow the beer to mature in the refrigerator for 2 days.

I can’t wait to taste this homemade root beer!!! I’ll post a vid when I open one of the bottles! 🙂

More information on the history and the benefits of drinking homemade root beer are described on Nourished Kitchen and The Healthy Home Economist websites.

Update: It worked just after 1 day of second fermentation! Now I just need to figure out how to make it into a soda rather than a champagne! 😁 I want to drink it all!





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