Saturday, September 15, 2012

THINK OUT OF THE SHELL - Join the Pastry Challenge

Do you know that the egg is one of the most versatile super ingredients for both cooking and baking? Eggs have been a staple of diets all over the world, and likely are as old as history itself. Their popularity can be explained by being a readily renewable source of protein. They were easy to produce, readily available in most climates, not to mention they came in their own nice packaging design. Two years ago when I was not this preoccupied with cooking or baking, I used to cook a lot of egg dishes, especially when my mum and my Quay Lo were not at home. I knew the basic techniques of scrambling, poaching, frying, boiling and making omelettes and I am able to rustle up a meal in minutes! Of all the techniques, I find that poaching a perfect egg is still the most challenging. I have eaten a lot of not perfectly poached eggs. More infuriating, I still fail to get a perfectly poached egg in all attempts but I am getting better. A perfectly cooked egg on a plate with almost anything is still a joy to look at and to enjoy.

Eggs, along with flour, are almost always present in most baking recipes. Patisserri chefs come to know all there is to know about eggs as they are so important to their finished product. We home "chefs" need to know at least the basics. You will probably have to know how to differentiate old eggs and fresh ones as that can affect the outcome in baking. (Hint: fresh eggs are not always the best as some recipes call for slight older eggs.) It is also important to know the techniques of separating eggs as many recipes call for one, or the other, or both in differing quantity and used differentlly in the same recipe. I gathered the following tips from various articles I’ve read about eggs and I would like to share them with you.
To know an approximate age of an egg, you need a bowl of cold water. This is what you have to do. Gently drop the egg into the bowl of water. It
is about three to six days old when it sinks to the bottom and stays there. If...
it sinks, but floats at an angle, it's more than a week old. If..
it sinks, but then stands on end, it is about two weeks old.
Finally, if it floats, it's too old and should be discarded.
For a test just to see if the eggs are all right to use, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 cups cold water, then put the egg in the water. If it sinks, it's good; if it floats, it's too old.
It is also good to know various methods of separating eggs if you love to bake because lots of recipes call for this:
1. Crack the eggs on a flat surface so that it will break more evenly and no small pieces of egg shell will get into the eggs when you open the egg shell.
2. Use cold eggs because the yolk and the white separates more easily. If the recipe calls for room temperature egg, separate it first and let it come to room temperature.
3. Use the 3 bowls method. Crack egg in the first bowl and pour the egg yolk onto our fingers and let the white run through them into the bowl. The yolk goes into the second bowl. Pour the white collected in the first bowl into the third bowl. Continue this process till all required eggs are separated. In that way, if any egg yolk should break on you, you will not spoil the whole batch of egg whites you have collected before it.
4. Place a dessert plate and 2 bowls next to each other. Crack the egg into the dessert plate. Use a well washed and rinsed empty plastic bottle (such as a mineral water bottle). Squeeze the bottle, pushing most of the air out of it, and still squeezing, place the mouth of the bottle near the egg yolk. Release your hand and the egg yolk will be sucked into the bottle while the egg white remains. Pour the egg yolk into the first bowl and empty the white on the plate into the second bowl. (it is almost magic how this works).
Since I am on the subject of eggs, I would like to share with you the launch of the cookbook “Thinking Out Of The Shell – Volume II”  in conjunction with the Nutriplus Pastry Challenge. How about joining in the fun? Participants will get to meet featured professional bakers in the cookbook and learn some tips from them, as well as each other.

I am excited about this event as I am with the chef that heads up the group that is responsible for organizing it for the sponsor Nutriplus. I am helping them to get the word out for a very fun event that I am looking forward to. I hope all of you will join me.

If you are one of the shortlisted contestants, you will get a chance to show off your baking skill and your delicious bake. On top of that, you will stand a chance to win attractive prizes.

It is so simple to submit your entry. Click on the picture to go to get the online application form and submit your entry. 

Terms & Conditions

The competition is open to all Malaysians aged 18 and above.

Eight entries shall be selected from all submissions for participation in the contest. 

Submissions shall be judged based on originality and creativity. To enter, contestants must complete this Registration Form.

There is no entry fee. Only one entry may be submitted per person.

The competition will take place at AEON One Utama (formerly known as JUSCO) from October 27th to October 31st, 2012.

The contest is intended for amateur and home bakers only. Professional bakers or those who earn a portion of their livelihood from baking or cooking may not participate. Employees of Lay Hong Berhad, AEON, and any or all organising parties may not participate in this contest.
Each contestant must submit a recipe with an attached picture as registration material. All entries must be submitted with any AEON receipt for the purchase of any NutriPlus product, as proof of purchase. This is only valid for purchases made after September 2012 and before the 21st of October 2012.

All recipes must include the use of NutriPlus Eggs. Creators of entries that are selected to advance to the competition shall be notified of the schedule one week before the 27th of October.

Each baked product must be made from scratch. Baking equipment will be provided by the organiser. Pre-made store-bought ingredients are prohibited, though home-made ingredients are acceptable. All ingredients required for recipes must be classified and confirmed for acceptance prior to the competition.

NutriPlus reserves the right to improve, enhanced, recreate and distribute submitted recipes as part of promotional programs. Due credit shall be given to the creators of all recipes used for this purpose.

The winner and runner up of the contest is entitled to one prize each only.

The decision of the judges are final and cannot be disputed. All rights for judgement go to NutriPlus.

The organisers and NutriPlus reserve the right to alter the conditions of the competition without prior notice.

If you are shortlisted, you will be featured in “Think Out Of The Shell” Facebook Page. Imagine the exposure you will get. This will definitely bring traffic to your blog if you have one.  

Not sure what kind of recipe to submit for the challenge?

Here is an example. For this challenge, Nutriplus eggs must be one of the ingredients.

Savory galette

This recipe was featured on Asian Food Channel (Official) 
facebook page on 17 September 2012

Crust ingredients:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Dash of salt
6 tbs chilled butter
1 Nutriplus jumbo egg
1 -2  tbs cold water

Ingredients for fillings:
40 g Parmesan, grated
40 g Gorgonzola, sliced
350 g spinach, drained
1/2 cup celery
1 medium onion, sliced
200 g Parmesan roasted mushrooms
1 roasted red capsicum, cut
1 head roasted garlic, sliced
1/2  Nutriplus egg, lightly beaten for glaze

Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in the cold butter and mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle ice water into the bowl and continue to mix ingredients with your fingertips. Turn out the dough onto your work surface and gather the dough into a ball. Wrap the ball with a plastic film and flatten the dough into a thick round. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to form a 15-inch circle. Sprinkle half of Parmesan and Gorgonzola in the center, leaving 2-3 inches border all around. Then mound the spinach, roasted mushrooms, roasted capsicum and roasted garlic, onions and celery on top of the cheeses.

Fold the border up and over the filling to form a rim, pleating as necessary. Now sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Gorgonzola over the vegetables. Brush egg glaze over the rim.

Bake the galette until the crust is nicely golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Slide onto a serving platter and serve hot or at room temperature.


  1. Nice event! Your savory galette sound yummy.

    1. Sonia, I would love to see your entry. Come lah, have some fun.

  2. Sounds like a fun even to WATCH only lol! Not for the faint hearted!

  3. Jeannie Tay, you can do lah. Come on, let's have some fun together a chance to meet in person.

  4. Sounds like fun. Why do the fun things always happen on Fridays!? Arrgghh!!
    Think I'll console myself by drooling at your galette.

    1. It does not need to be Friday for you if selected, I can fix you on another day for the cook off. Send in your entry lah.

  5. This Savoury Galette looks really yummy because this is the kind of food I am craving at all times.

    1. Mel, wish you are in KL, then I will try my best to persuade you to join in the fun.

  6. I'll try and think of something to put in.

  7. Very interesting information on eggs! The competition sounds like fun but I'll leave it to the pros and watch in the sidelines.

    1. Phong Hong, why watch at the side line. You bake well, come, send in your entry.

  8. Good luck, but I'm sure you do not need it. No need to compete, sure will win hands down one. Wink! Wink!

  9. I find the method to participate rather ambiguous,
    #6: submit a recipe.
    A pastry recipe? Or cakes are also accepted?

    1. Store bought ingredients not allowed--- peanut butter, mayonnaise? Or does it encompass things like frozen shortcrust pastry crust, frozen puff pastry, frozen filo (OMG, can we make our own filo?). I do understand things like apple pie filling or, bluberry pie fillings are no no, but hmmm.. filo?
      I wish the organizers will be more specific.

      According to Wikipedia, small cakes are also considered pastry. How ah?

    2. Thanks Wendy, I have spoken to the organiser and they will clarify the rules soon. I told him to come here to answer clear your doubts. :D

    3. Wendy, here is the reply to your questions from the Organiser.

      Dear Wendy,

      Thank you very much for pointing out the ambiguity regarding the rules of ingredients to be used in our earlier post, there are few reasons we need contestants to clarify their recipes and ingredients before the competition. One of it is the need to make sure that products served to judges are at its best hygiene and of course, we need to comply to the standards of Halal food.

      These are the additional information which are very useful to those who are interested to participate.

      Basic recipes can be brought in pre-weight or measured out, but no further processing is allowed.
      Pastry sponges, biscuit, and meringue can be brought in but NOT in the“cut form”
      Whole fruits and purees may be brought in but not as a finished sauce or previously enhanced with sugar and other ingredients.
      All garnishes and decor elements such as chocolate and sugar work must be made in the kitchen.
      No pre- cooking or pre-mixed of ingredients is allowed.
      No readymade products such as store bought pastries are allowed.
      Unless otherwise stated, no pre-prepared dough or batters may be brought in. With the exception of Filo dough, but one must also consider that judges do look at technical intricacies as one of their scoring measures.
       Competitors are requested to refrain from incorporating ice creams ,sorbets or other frozen ingredients into their pastries and cakes
      Non-Halal ingredients are prohibited.
       I really look forward to your participation as you have been displaying some great technical skills of a pastry chef:) Thank you

    4. Need some clarification:
      If the submission enters the cook-off, one has to replicate the submission in situ? Which is why ice cream is not encouraged to be used?

    5. If the submission will be the cook off recipe, then how much time is given? Can't be submitting an overnight recipe then later, be told to cook that for the finals, right?

    6. Wendy, you have to cook a new recipe in situ. You are given 3 hours to cook the recipe. Ice Cream not encouraged because of its holding time. The organizer asked me to tell you that they would really love to see your entry. The prize may not be a big one but then, come lah, show off your skill.

  10. Looking forward to the event. And now to figure out a recipe:D

  11. wow, Singapore should have this too so I can join in :)
    thks for the info about eggs, Quay Po :)

    1. Ya, I think it is quite fun to join a competition to get a chance to show off or bakes. No win No worries, I think the experience will be awesome.

  12. I always see sweet galettes, but never savoury ones. It sounds great, Quay Po! I've never heard of that bottle method for separating yolks/ interesting! Thanks for sharing =) Have a great weekend!

  13. Great post on eggs. Love the idea of a savoury galette!

  14. D'oh! This looks like such a tasty challenge, but I'm trying to cut out butter in my diet as much as possible (at least until the holidays!)

    1. Well, it is good to keep check on our diet to stay healthy.

  15. It's such a great opportunity to take part, pity they don't do it here in the UK!
    Your Galette looks so delicious, ideal for an Autumn afternoon.

  16. Good luck for the participants! So you must be joining, right? Saw you did the "pole dancing" but only saw your back, no front shot, hahaha!

    1. Jessie, I am part of the organising team lah. Cannot participate. Oh you saw the photo at Sonia's? Very disappointed right. hehe

  17. This savory galette looks so appetizing! I'm drooling just by looking at it! Perfectly baked & soo mouthwatering!

  18. hanks you for all the helpful tips knowing a good and bad eggs! not taking part in this challenge tho but very eager to see what the rest are going to come up that is if they are going post in on their blog. have fun!

    1. I am so disappointed you are not taking part lah. I was hoping you will and give me a chance to reciprocate to accomodate you when you come to KL for the cook off. Very confident your entry will be selected. You have so many beautiful and yummy bakes up your sleeves.


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