Gateau au Yaourt


Life as a mother has settled down a bit, as we approach the second month anniversary of Pon Pon’s arrival. I still cry and pull my hair out once in a while (okay, every other day), but things have definitely gotten much, much better. For one thing, I stopped taking things too seriously. I now let mistakes happen and not punish myself for them. Now that I’m learning to balance my life, I made time during the blissful hour I have before Pon Pon wakes up in the morning to bake Gateau au Yaourt, or Yogurt Cake, courtesy of the book, Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman.

Speaking of the book, it’s a lifesaver. I still have a few more chapters to go, but it’s been wonderful so far, providing me with sound advice about raising a bebe.

Thanks to the book, I learned to “pause,” and started to give Pon Pon the opportunity to self-sooth first, before running to her the moment she cries. I also started speaking to her more frequently, especially when I need to explain her something. The other day, I politely asked Pon Pon to please stay calm and quite in a swing for 30 minutes because mommy needed to eat lunch … and she complied! Now, I speak to her every night before she goes to bed, recapping the things we did together, and thank her for another wonderful and adventurous day.  And of course, let her know how much I love her.

yogurt cake 2

Gateau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake)
Adapted from the book, Bringing Up Bebe, but modified slightly

The book introduced this recipe because this is a cake that even a three-year-old can make. All the measurements are done in the 6 oz yogurt container. Since I didn’t have the small container, I used the regular measuring cup.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used the low fat kind)
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup corn oil


① Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Prepare the 9-inch loaf pan by layering the bottom with a wax paper.

② Combine the yogurt, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and mix well (wet). In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together (dry).

③ Add the dry ingredient with the wet one, and mix to combine. Be careful not to over mix the batter.

④ Pour the combined mixture into a 9-inch loaf pan and bake it in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.

⑤ Let the cake cool at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

yogurt cake 3

Oh my … this is a delicious cake! I love the combination of subtle sweet and slight tang that is present in this lovely cake. I used the generic, low fat yogurt that I purchased from Fresh and Easy for this. I was worried at first because the yogurt was a little on the watery side but I think that helped make this cake extra soft and moist!

I definitely recommend that you give this recipe a try! It’ll be even better if you go crazy and have fun making this with your little one in the kitchen. I can’t wait to make this cake with Pon Pon soon!

Little Bun in the Oven


Pregnancy can bring many surprises to expecting mothers, but this one definitely caught me by surprise — I’ve been told on several occasions that I’m tiny! Okay, when people say this, they don’t mean that I’m tiny but that my stomach is smaller than that of an ordinary 20-plus-week pregnant woman. The former would have been a fabulous compliment, but being told that my stomach seems underdeveloped definitely brings a concern, especially when it comes from your own baby doctor!

From the time I discovered that I’m pregnant, at around 14 weeks, to now, I’m down about 12 pounds from my normal weight. Most of the poundage came off during the first trimester but I haven’t been able to add much more, even as my appetite returned to almost normal. This was definitely a source of my worry and insecurity for the last few weeks.

Luckily, during my last prenatal appointment, I had my belly measured and learned that Pon Pon is growing right on schedule. She’s at around two pounds and 14 inches, spot on with the average 27-week bun in the oven!razz

A lesson learned here – everyone is different and there is no reason to be worried just because you might think you’re a little different from the mom-to-be next door. Instead of feeling insecure, I’m now considering myself truly, truly lucky that I’m still able to feel comfortable with no back pain, no swelling, and no cramps – symptoms that usually come with an expanding belly. I know that my stomach will expand rapidly as I enter the third trimester, so I’m going to enjoy this “tininess” while it lasts!


On the topic of food … I made some steamed bread for snack this afternoon. I was craving something sweet but not in the form of cookies or anything buttery, so I went to my go-to recipe for the Japanese mushi (steamed) pan (bread).

This is a wonderful recipe! The bread comes out fluffy and nicely chewy, stay moist even the next day. All the ingredients are things that most of us have sitting around in a pantry, and there’s no milk or eggs so it’s health friendly (if you don’t put in chocolate chips, of course). It’s still high in carbs but it is a much better alternative to a calorie-laden cupcakes. You can add matcha green tea powder and azuki (sweet red beans) for Japanese-inspired flavors!

Steamed Bread (Mushi Pan)
Inspired by a recipe from


150 g flour
40 g sugar (I used brown sugar)
4 g baking powder
150 ml water
Sprinkle of salt
Handful of chocolate chips


Measure and mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water and mix some more (but not too much). Divide and pour the mixture into 5 cupcake linings (I used my trusted silicon liners) and sprinkle a little bit of chocolate chips on top. Steam for 15-30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Icing on the Cake: Cream Cheese Frosting (oh, and the cake)

cupcake-007Cream cheese frosting, hands down, is the best frosting that exist in the confectionery world today. It’s the granddaddy of all cake sidekicks. Move over, whipped cream, your airy texture has nothing on the luscious, tangy goodness of this cream cheese delight. Although I’m not a big fan of its artery-clotting cousins (buttercream in particular), I’m convinced that I eat cupcakes just for the heavenly Philly spread that sits pretty on top 🙂

I was particularly craving the lovely, fro-yo like tanginess of cream cheese frosting one weekend. I almost ran out the door to drive 20-plus miles to my favorite cupcake place (aka my dealer) but I headed over to a local grocery store instead to pick up couple blocks of cream cheese (reduced fat kind, I mind you) so I can make some at home. It was my mother’s birthday celebration weekend so I decided to bake strawberry shortcake with the refreshing frosting for the special occasion.

I knew that the regular chiffon cake used in the Japanese version of strawberry shortcakes wouldn’t stand up to the thick, powerful flavor of cream cheese icing, so I decided to bake a more dense cake for the base. I knew that the finished product will taste more like a giant cupcake than strawberry shortcake but I was excited to give it a try.

Cake Recipe (Makes 2 x 9-inch cakes)
(The recipe is a variation of the Green Tea Cupcakes recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop. I have baked the green tea cake several times with great results so I decided to stick with this recipe (sans matcha green tea powder) because of the dense consistency. I added a tablespoon of vanilla extract which was not included in the recipe).

2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk

Cream Cheese Icing (this is my own recipe but loosely inspired by More from Magnolia cookbook, enough for 2 layer 9-inch cake)

1 pound (2 x 8 oz package) of reduced fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoon butter


More strawberries the better!


Do you think we got enough frosting on the cake?

The cake was certainly not the traditional “strawberry shortcake” but it was still delicious. I put the cake in the fridge for about 6 hours after decorating to set the cream cheese icing and although the corner of the cake had dried out a bit when we were ready to eat it, the interior was still surprisingly moist and sponge-y. Even after a day or two, the cake remained delicious.


A Sweet Culinary Playground: Green Tea Cake

One thing I regret to this day is not visiting Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki when I was in Paris a few years ago, to experience his famous Matcha Opera Cake, or any of his world-renowned green-tea inspired desserts for that matter. Ever since I read about him about five years ago in a Japanese fashion magazine, I’ve been smitten by his creativity and the ability to incorporate traditional Japanese ingredients such as matcha (green tea) and yuzu (citrus fruit) into authentic French pastries, and I’ve been inspired to include something similar to my own baking repertoire.

The thing that kept me from making any matcha desserts until now, however, was my inability to locate green tea powder, which is the key component of these desserts. I had tried several Japanese grocery stores in the past but all I could find were “green ice tea mix,” which already included sugar. And when I finally did find them, they were too expensive for me to afford. Then, when I was making my regular rounds to Teavana the other day, I ran into one that was reasonably priced at $16 an once so I snatched up a couple for my pantry. Now fully equipped, I was eagerly ready to enter the Franco-Japanese culinary melting pot.

While visiting Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit a few months back, I encountered this amazing recipe for Green Tea, Lavender, and Honey Cupcake Bombe. I had since filed it away in my baking “to do” folder hoping to someday bring it to life, and I was able to finally wipe off the dust and put this recipe to work! I thought about making the full-blown version of the bombe at first, but after contemplating I decided to just try the green tea cake recipe for more simple dessert.


Would you like a cake to go with my butter?

I recommend this recipe to anyone who is interested in making a dense, moist, oh-so-heavenly matcha cupcake or a sheet cake as I did here. I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of butter and sugar that went into this beautiful pistachio-colored batter but you will realize when you take a first bite that all the fat and calories are worth it.  And because it is rich, a small slice will satisfy your sweet tooth. One mistake I made was mixing the matcha power with the dry ingredients when the recipe called to dissolve the powder with milk and incorporate it into the wet ingredients.  Oops (but the end result still came out perfect, thank goodness).


Look how beautiful the batter looks!

My initial plan was to sandwich the sweet red bean (azuki) paste between two heart-shaped cake, but the cake was already pretty thick so I settled on placing azuki on the side, and finished off by sprinkling powered sugar on top. I matched the cake with steaming Japanese green tea, of course!


I really like the simplicity of this dessert. Keeping everything beautiful yet clean and simple allow the flavors to take center stage, which is what makes Japanese and French desserts truly timeless.