Happy Lunar New Year! I hope you had a fabulous time visiting family and friends and feasting on all the delicious food and snacks.
I spent two days visiting my relatives and I had a good time catching up with them. We had a fun time sharing stories, giving out hongbaos and trying out each other’s bakes. I brought the pineapple tarts that I made to my in-laws and grandmother’s house because they love pineapple tarts but can no longer make them. I remember that when I was a child I would go to my grandmother’s house to help make pineapple tarts. Those good old days will always be remembered dearly. We made tray after tray of pineapple tarts to give to our relatives. Now that Grandma is almost 90, it is time for me to make them for her each Chinese New Year. I’m glad she likes my tarts. She is a good cook and hearing her say she likes them is like receiving a pat on the back.
Coming from a small family, my visiting for Chinese New Year is finished. If you have a big family with many relatives to visit and you are thinking of bringing a gift over to their house, I have a recommendation for you. You can make an almond cake that everyone will love. Whenever I bake this for someone I get good reviews for it. It is really delicious and moist. The butter and ground almonds make this cake a winner. The best part is everything can be mixed in one bowl. It saves time in getting the mixer out and washing multiple dishes and utensils. I use just a bowl and a hand whisk.
I bought ground almond to make almond cookies but never got around to it because I was making pineapple tarts (due to hot demand from the husband and daughter). I doubt I will be baking almond cookies because my MIL has kindly bought us a box of almond cookies. So today, I decided to make an almond cake using the ground almond meant for almond cookies. I will be having this for tea later. I hope you try this recipe and and get a thumbs-up for this cake.
Ingredients (one loaf cake or 8″ cake):
- 100g unsalted butter, bring to room temperature
- 100g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 90g ground almonds (almond powder)
- 40g cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon flaked or chopped almonds for garnishing
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper at the bottom and lightly grease the sides of the pan.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a hand whisk until it is light and fluffy.
- Add eggs and continue whisking. Then add vanilla and fresh milk, whisking after each addition of ingredient.
- Sift over cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl. Fold to incorporate the flour and butter mixture.
- Add ground almonds and fold to incorporate everything.
- Pour batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle flaked or chopped almonds.
- Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.
Lunar New Year is approaching soon. It will fall on 16 and 17 February this year. Lunar New Year is also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. In the midst of all the preparations for Lunar New Year, I wanted to share my favourite New Year goodie with you.
Pineapple tarts are my favourite of all the delicacies during this festive time. They are buttery cookies wrapped with pineapple paste. They taste fantastic because the buttery flavour goes wonderfully well with the sweetness and slight tartness of the pineapple paste. Pineapple tarts don’t last long in my home. Everyone loves them. I’ll be making more for myself and my relatives. Other than pineapple tarts, some of the typical goodies you can find at each house during Lunar New Year visiting are cashew cookies, almond cookies, love letters, kuih bangkit, green pea cookies, bak kwa, and yu sheng, just to name a few.
This year, we are welcoming the Year of the Dog. There are twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac. During Lunar New Year, people visit their family and friends, bringing festive greetings to them. It is customary to exchange two mandarin oranges with the relative or friend you are visiting as a gesture of exchanging well-wishes for the new year. It is also a tradition for parents and married couples to give hong bao (red packets with money) to their children and family or friends’ children. Adult children show their filial piety and appreciation to their parents by giving them hong bao along with mandarin oranges and other gifts they may wish to lavish on their parents. One of the biggest highlights in the Lunar New Year celebration is the reunion dinner. Every family member gathers together to have dinner on the eve of Lunar New Year. Schools and offices end the day in the afternoon so that everyone has time to prepare for this important meal.
Lunar New Year is a tradition for all Chinese families. There are a lot of preparations leading up to the New Year. Families spring clean their homes, shop for decorations, stock up the fridge for the reunion dinner, bake cookies and shop for new clothes. Before I get back to spring cleaning and making more pineapple tarts, here’s wishing all a Blessed Lunar New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai!
- 227g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50g icing/confectioners sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 450g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 500g pineapple paste, rolled into balls**
- small amount of beaten egg for egg wash
** I used pre-made pineapple paste bought from the supermarket. You could also make it from scratch. There are many online recipes on making pineapple paste from scratch. Here is a picture of a pack of pineapple paste.
- Sift icing sugar over unsalted butter. With an electric mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffly, about 5 minutes.
- Dribble eggs into the mixture and continue mixing until everything comes together.
- Add salt and vanilla and continue mixing for about 1 minute.
- Sift flour into the mixture. Combine flour and butter mixture until a dough is formed. Form dough into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees celcius.
- Remove dough from the fridge. Form dough into a flat disc and place pineapple ball in the centre of the dough. Seal the dough and roll into balls.
- Use a scissors to make incisions to resemble pineapple skin (optional).
- Apply egg wash on pineapple tarts and bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
- Allow pineapple tarts to cool completely before storing them in air-tight containers.