Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jack's Roast Duck



When my niece Jo Ann and her friend came for a visit, i took them to the asian market and what caught our eyes was the sale sign - 98 cents/lb and it was for frozen ducks. Wow, 98 cents???, so cheap?? and while trying to get one, we realised that these words were printed on the packaging - missing parts - ha! no wonder so cheap!!. We were pondering as to which or what parts will be missing from the ducks, so, i bought 2 ducks and we had a guessing game to see who will have the right answers - one of ducks had a whole wing missing and the other the whole leg. We not only had fun guessing, we enjoyed the ducks too. This sale price never happened again and i have not bought duck since, but, I had an opportunity to cook a duck when Jack, Nellie's better half, gave me a whole duck, this duck is really whole, complete with head and feet, even the tongue is still intact. Jack told me that i should not have a problem roasting it and it really was, no problem. The biggest problem was to get the feathers or down removed. I can understand now how difficult it must be to shave or try to remove whiskers and i am glad that i am a female and chinese - no hair problem. Now, coming back to the duck, there were so much to remove and i kept removing and turning the duck around without realising that the poor duck is hanging by a short string. The twisting made the string so taut that i killed the poor duck a second time. Anyway, i managed to get as much out as possible and proceeded with the recipe. All in all, i think i did a good roasting job.
I will end this poor duck story with another one which is on a lighter note - smile!!
The Dead Duck

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgery. As she lay her pet on the table, the Vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I'm so sorry, Cuddles has passed away." The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure? "Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead," he replied. "How can you be so sure," she protested. "I mean, you haven't done ny testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something." The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room, and returned a few moments later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked at the Vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog and took it out, and returned a few moments later with a beautiful cat. The cat jumped up on the table and also sniffed delicately at the bird. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room. The Vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck." Then the vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill which he handed to the woman. The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!", she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead?!!" The vet shrugged. "I'm sorry. If you'd taken my word for it, the bill would have been only $20, but what with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan ...."

1 large duck - 4 to 5 pounds
1 liter water
3 tbsp maltose/honey
3 tbsp dark soya sauce
5 fl ozs rice wine
1 lemon - cut into slices

Wash and clean duck. Remove as much feathers or down as possible and wipe dry.
In a large saucepan, cook the glaze ingredients until maltose/honey has dissolved. Keep the glaze boiling while holding the duck by it's neck or with a sturdy 'S' hook over a wok, bath the duck with the glaze - the glaze has to boiling hot. Continue to bath the duck - all over until all the glaze is done.
Hang duck to drip dry, then place duck on a rack over a roasting/cake pan and place in the fridge to dry for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven, the highest temperature available - i have a convection roasting function.
Place duck on a 'V' roasting rack which is sitting on a roasting pan, pour a full cup of water onto the roasting pan.
Put duck to roast for 15 minutes, breast side up, until the breast is beautifully browned. Turn duck over and roast the back.
Turn duck over with breast side up and lower the oven to 350f and roast duck for another 15 - 20 minutes. Check for doneness.
Cut duck up the chinese way and serve with a pomegrante molasses dipping sauce.
Pomegranate Molasses Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup mild flavored honey
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thick and syrup. Adjust taste with sugar if you do not like the tartness.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Soft Boiled Cassava

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.“~ Confucius

Think Simple - There are so many simple pleasures that we don’t always take time to enjoy. Take some time to really focus on something simple - focus on your breathing, focus on drinking down a cold glass of water, focus on enjoying the simple things you do every day. We can find so much happiness in the small everyday things. They are there if we seek them, and when we seek, we shall find and i have great pleasure eating something as simple as a piece of cooked cassava. I eat them as is or with sugar and grated coconut or however as this soft-boiled root has a delicate flavor and goes well with most 'sambals' or sauces.
Cassava can be cooked in various ways and there are endless recipes but a word of caution - it has to be cooked and not to be eaten raw because they contain two cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin. These are decomposed by linamarase, a naturally occurring enzyme in cassava, liberating hydrogen cyanide


Raw Cassava




Cut the woody ends of the cassava and then cut into 2 inches pieces. Remove the skin and soak the peeled roots in water for at least 1 hour.

Drain and put into saucepan with enough water to cover the roots.

Add salt and turn on the heat. Bring to the boil and stir to prevent roots sticking to the bottom of saucepan.

Check for doneness, roots should be fork tender.

Drain and place roots back to the warm saucepan to dry-out.

Cooked cassava is ready for consumption. Eat with whatever fancy your palate. The pictures above are with 'sambal shrimp' and 'xo sauce'.

Cassava Fritters is a spin-off from these boiled cassava.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cassava Fritters/Ketuk Ubi

I love everything cassava/tapioca/yucca/ubi kayu and have not had these fritters for quite awhile. I have refrained from buying the fresh cassava as they have become moldy and shrivered and that is the sign of a dead root. In Malaysia, the root has to be consumed as soon as it has been harvested so, it is a strange sight for me, seeing them for sale in the asian store's shelf. I am enlightened by the fact that these roots are treated with wax to prevent them from getting moldy and save to eat. Thanks Chan, for letting me know and allowing me to enjoy and making all the goodies that can be dished out from them.

2 cups cooked cassava
1 cup grated coconut - white only
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
Oil for frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornflour/cornstarch
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp double action baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cooking oil
3/4 cup/6 fl oz/180 ml water


Prepare the batter by mixing all the batter ingredients and leave aside.
Heat oil until 350f. While oil is getting hot, prepare the cassava balls by mixing all the ingredients together and making into golf size balls.
When oil has reached 350f, dip balls into batter and put into hot oil to deep fry. Do not crowd the wok and crank up the heat and removing some hot oil from the wok, at the last stage of frying. Removing some oil will allow the temp. of oil to rise higher and faster and this way, the balls will be not be soggy. When balls are golden brown, remove and drain on an overturn cake rack which is sitting on kitchen towels - the excess oil will drip down and since the balls are not touching the kitchen towels, they will not soak back the oil while cooling.
Pour back the removed oil and finished frying the rest of the balls.
Noticed the long one? I have left some cooked cassava unmashed and dipped them in batter to fry. Try it this way, it is just as delicious.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Lychee And Longan Konnyaku Jelly

Belinda came by one day and brought a bag of red fresh lychees and i was all excited that such ripe lychees are available here but was dissappointed when i tasted one, they were sweet but not as juicy. I have to make something with them as i know that i will the only one in the house who will eat them. So, i removed the seeds and passed the flesh through a food-mill to extract the juice. I had a tiny glass of fresh lychee juice which brought me back to the 60's where i used to order lychee drink which was so good and refreshing. I knew it came from a blue can and wonder if this blue can of lychee juice is still available. Must look for it the next time i visit the asian store. The rest of the juice was made into jelly with dried longan for added texture and constrast of colors.

10 gm Konnyaku powder
180 gm sugar
1 cup fresh lychee juice
750 ml water
1/4 tsp Citric Acid
Dried longan - soaked.
Mix the konnyaku powder and sugar together and mix them well.
Pour the mixture into the liquid gradually and stir till it comes to the boil and turn off the fire.
Keep stirring for 5 minutes till the bubbles disappear.
Add citric acid and coloring and stir well.
Put pieces of longan in the moulds and fill the moulds with jelly.
Chill the jelly in the refrigerator before serving


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Steamed Pork Ribs

I have all sorts of sauces in my fridge, some are store-bought like oyster sauce and hoisin sauce as they are not worth making them at home. I did attempt making oyster sauce from fresh oysters and they turned out to be too stinky/fishy. But i like to homemake other sauces like sambal , xo sauce and black bean sauce. These sauces come in very handy and any dish can be prepared with them in a very short period of time. I ran out of black bean sauce yesterday and had to make it from scratch but i will make a batch soon and take some pictures to share.

Steamed Pork Ribs is a favorite to many who go for 'yum cha' - Dim Sum but, i do not like to order this dish cos most of the time, the ribs are too boney and fatty but homemade is so much better cos you can choose the best, meaty soft bones available - bones with cartilage is preferred to ribs with hard bones. For additional or variations - Goji berries(kei ji), Chinese black olives(lam gok), chillies , salty plums or tomatoes can be used.


1/2 lb soft bone pork ribs - cut into bite-size
1 tbsp black bean - wash and lightly smashed
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
A pinch of cornstarch/tapioca starch

1 tbsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp sesame oil


Marinate pork ribs with salted black beans, garlic, ginger and seasonings. Leave for at least 10 minutes.
Add in cornstarch/tapioca starch to bind lightly.(A pinch will do cos pork ribs should be fairly moist with sauce after steaming and too much cornstarch/tapioca tends to dry up the dish)
Leave this aside while you cook rice in the rice cooker. Watch out for the rice to loose the big bubbles and just before it finishes cooking and turn to 'warm' function, put in the prepared pork ribs to steam. Alternatively steam prepared pork ribs over rapidly boiling water for 7 - 8 minutes.
Sprinkle with sesame oil before serving hot.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grape Clafoutis

Coleen and Jerry, Jeremie's mom and dad celebrated their 40th anniversary and these fruits were our contribution for the reception. We had 3 of these but the guests did not eat these perhaps they thought it was a display - should have left a note - they only ate the loose grapes that were served in the bowl. So, after distributing some, we still have plenty and i had to scratch for recipes and found this very interesting one - Grape Clafoutis from Dessert Circus by JACQUES TORRES.

The classic Clafoutis is made with cherries. Jaques Torres thought that it would be fun to make with grapes and what a lovely idea, cos this version which makes a 10 inch Clafoutis, contains less flour and the custard is more intense than the traditional Clafoutis recipe. Do not be intimidated by the lengthy method, it is forth the typing and reading cos it is very informative.

Sugar Dough:
(12 ozs(342 gm) enough to make one 10-inch tart shell)
6 tbsp/3 ozs/83 gm cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
1/3 cup/1.5 oz/42 gm powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups/6 ozs/166 gm pastry flour(i use 6 ozs/166 gm bleached all-purpose minus 1 tbsp and replace with 1 tbsp cornstarch)
1 1/2 tsp/0.3 oz/8 gm baking powder
For the Custard:
1/2 cup/4 ozs/120 gm whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup/2.4 ozs/70 gm granulated sugar
1 tbsp/0.3 oz/8 gm pastry flour
1 tbsp/0.4 oz/14 gm sour cream(Jaques uses Creme fraiche of course)
For the Filling:
Large Seedless grapes - about 2 cups
To finish the Clafoutis
Powdered sugar for dusting
To make sugar dough:
Place flour, baking powder, powdered sugar in the food processor and pulse a few pulses to mix the ingredients.
Add in the cold cubed butter and pulse 2 - 3 times to chop the butter into small pea size.
Add in the egg and pulse until combined - dough will be still loose but when a small lump is pressed together, it should be able to clump.
Remove from bowl into a large ziploc bag and squeeze dough into a round disk and use immediately or store it in thee refrigerator.
Prepare the tart shell:
Preheat the oven to 350f(175c).
Lightly butter the bottom of a 10-inch fluted tart pan, or you may have trouble unmolding the baked Clafoutis. (i used a removable bottom tart pan although Jaques said that he tries not to use one just in case the tart shell cracks and spills the custard onto the baking sheet - well he is the master)
Prepare the sugar dough (if you are using refrigerated dough, you will need to give the cold dough four or five quick raps with a rolling pin to break up the cold butter). Flour each side and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. After each roll with the rolling pin, rotate the dough a quarter turn. This will keep it from sticking to the work surface as well as maintain the shape of the circle. Dust the work surface with more flour if needed, but be careful not to overflour, as this will make the dough tough. When you roll the dough, don't press too hard on the rolling pin, or you will cut the dough in half. Work quickly to keep the butter from melting and the dough from becoming too soft; if this happens, place the dough in the refrigerator until it is firm once again, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the dough to the pan by rolling i up around the rolling pin. Hold the rolling pin over the pan and unroll the dough into the pan. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Make sure you press into the edge where the side of the pan meets the bottom. Remove the excess dough by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the pan to make a nice clean cut. Dock the bottom of the tart shell lightly with a fork to allow the steam to escape during baking to keep the shell flat.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. The tart dough takes longer to bake than the custard, and for that reason, the dough is partially baked before the custard is added. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Keep the tart pan on the baking sheet, as this will make it easier to transfer the tart shell back into the oven once it is filled.
Prepare the Custard:
Place the milk in a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Use a sharp knife to slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Separate the seeds from the skin by scraping the blade of the knife along the inside of the bean. Place the seeds and skin in the heating milk. Adding the vanilla to the heating milk will allow the full flavor of the vanilla to infuse the milk and give the Clafoutis a stronger vanilla flavor. When bubbles begin to form at the edge of the pan, remove from the heat.
Place the whole eggs and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well mixed. Whisk in the sugar, flour, and sour cream. When smooth, whisk in the heated milk mixture until well combined. Strained the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup with a spout. Straining the mixture removed the vanilla bean as well as any pieces of cooked egg or lumps of flour. Set the custard aside.
To assemble the Clafoutis:
Place the grapes in the bottom of the prebaked tart shell.
Completely fill the bottom of the tart. Pour the custard into the tart shell to fill the pan. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the custard sets, about 20 minutes. You can tell if the custard is set by gently shaking the tart pan, if the custard trembles slight, it is ready. If it is too loose, it needs to be baked longer. In that case, check it every 5 minutes until it is ready. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the Clafoutis to cool.
To unmold the cooled Clafoutis, place tart over an overturned glass and remove sides of tart pan but if you are not using a removable pan do what Jaques does - center a flat plate face down over the tart pan. If you use a plate with raised edges, the tart will break. Flip over the plate and pan at the same time so the tart pan is on top of the plate. Gently lift off the tart pan. Center a second flat plate face down over the unmolded tart. Flip over both plates at the same time so that the Clafoutis is now right side up. Remove the top plate.
Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar (i always forget) before serving.
The baked Clafoutis will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to two days.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blueberry Muffin Tops

Muffin tops are, as everyone knows, truly the upper crust of those jumbo-sized, coffee-shop muffins. Why is the top so much better and how do we go about baking the tops without the bottom? Offer the bottoms to the Culinary God? That's effective but wastefull and the best solution so far has been muffin pans that are extremely shallow—only about 1/2 inch (1.25cm) deep. This recipe turned out some very delicious bottomless enjoyment, Renee ate 3 as soon as they were out of the oven. I had one and now i can understand why these kind of tops are beloved by 'Seinfeld'' partisans.


For batter

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 whole large egg
1 large yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)

For topping

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
Special equipment:

2 muffin-top pans, each with 6 (4- by 1/2-inch)

Muffin-top cups (1/2-cup capacity);

or regular muffin pans


Make batter:

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 375°F.

Generously grease muffin pans.

Microwave butter in a big microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute.

Whisk in milk, then whisk in whole egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined well.

Sieve together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add milk mixture and stir until just combined.

Fold in blueberries gently but thoroughly and do not overmix.

Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, spreading evenly.

Rub topping ingredients together with your fingertips until crumbly, then sprinkle evenly over batter in cups.

Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick or skewer inserted diagonally into center of a muffin comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

Cool in pans on a rack 15 minutes, then run a knife around edge of each muffin top and carefully remove from cups.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Yellow Squash Soup

I was away and when i came home, the yellow squash had grown big and over matured. I harvested it and used it as a decor on the kitchen counter. It was pretty to look at as the yellow was so pleasing next to the tomatoes. One day, i wanted to cook soup and there was nothing fresh and i do not want to make herbal soup in the summer. The only fresh vegetables i had were tomatoes and that matured squash, so squash and tomatoes soup it was. I was very surprised that the soup turned out so delicious and the squash tasted very much like 'the old cucumber' soup which i yearned for. For all the years here, i have not found 'matured/old cucumber' in the asian stores and i am not looking anymore, i am leaving my squash to mature.

1 large over matured yellow squash
1 cup grape tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes
1/4 cup dried scallops - soak in hot water
1 lb pork spareribs/pork butt

Put pork and cover it with enough water. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until scum has subsided. Remove pork and discard the water - scum and all. Wash the pork under cold water.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and using a metal spoon, remove the seeds. Then cut squash into large pieces.
Put pork, squash, tomatoes (cut into quarters if using the bigger tomatoes) and dried scallops into the pressure cooker. Put enough water to cover all ingredients and make sure it does not come up to half way up the pressure cooker. Close the lid and cook on high. As soon as the pressure is build-up - 15 lbs, reduce heat and maintain pressure, cook for 15 minutes.
Turn off heat and let the pressure release by itself with time. Remove lid only when there is no more pressure.
Adjust taste with salt and pepper.
Serve hot.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Green Tea Kasutera/Castella Cake

This was a gift and what a welcome one as i have yearned to taste one since it has so many good reviews of how good it is. I was inspired to try to bake one.

This is my green tea kasutera wannabe, at least this time it did not go to the Culinary God and in fact, tasted better than the gift. I don't know if i had used the wrong type of Green Tea Powder, which is slightly brownest than green and the Honey was brown too, thus making my cake more like a caramel cake. The most important thing that i managed to bake this sponge without it sinking and creating a huge crater and i was glad that i borrowed BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher from the Library. The first chapter - Priceless Knowledge is all what home bakers need to know before we start baking.
For this cake, i went through Genoise in this book and applied what she has to suggest with her technical knowledge - the recipe has to balance - the weight of flour and sugar are close to equal and the amount of sugar should not exceed the ratio of 1 - 1.25 to the weight of eggs.
Adding more egg yolks to the whole eggs improves their aerating ability and the stability of the foam.
Temperature of the eggs and sugar is important and the desirable temp. of 86 - 90F and to achieve a thick egg foam with very fine bubbles, patience is required. Beat on medium and since beating time on medium speed is extended, the stability of the foam increases.
Adding 1 tablespoon of sugar to the flour aids in blending the flour into the batter and prevents white clumps of flour in the baked cake.
Add the flour before you add the fat. The fat must be added at the final mixing stage to minimize the loss in volume.
Folding anything into the foam can be tricky, so i love the technique of blending a cup of the batter with the melted butter/oil, and then folding this mixture into the rest of the batter.
A good kasutera is moist, with a very fine texture, and is very light. It should have a dark brown and sugary top and bottom. It is sweet yet not cloyingly sweet. It should not have any oil but i added in 2 tablespoons besides adding in 2 yolks cos according to E,J. Pyler in Baking Science and Technology, modern eggs may be deficient in yolk solids. The next time around, i would use 2 tablespoon of whipped cream instead of oil and milk.
Although most sponge is baked with cake flour, bread flour is used in this recipe to give more structure to the mixture.
A long long time ago when i came here to visit and i wanted to bake the Kuih Lapis Batavia but there was no square cake pan available in the house. So, i covered a square cardboard box with heavy duty aluminium and voila the cake baked in it was so moist and wonderful. i used the same approach and it did not failed me this time too. The cardboard is thick and not as hot so it allowed the cake to finish baking and remained moist. My dear friend, Nellie, gave me a very good answer to my question of why the green tea turned brown - it is HEAT which caused oxidation.


4 large eggs
2 yolks
4 1/2 tbsp fine granulated sugar
3/4 cup bread flour,
1 tbsp fine granulated sugar,
1 tbsp green tea powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp oil
Sugar for sprinkling
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp hot water

Line a cardboard box with heavy duty aluminium foil and grease the inside, then line with grease proof/parchment paper, bottom and sides - make the sides 1 1/2 inches higher than the sides. Sprinkle sugar on to the base of box.
Arrange oven rack to the middle of oven and preheat oven @ 350f.
Sieve flour, green tea powder, salt and sugar together.
In a saucepan, one which your mixer bowl will sit and the bottom does not touch the water, heat about 1 inch of water to 110f.
Rince mixer howl with tap water as hot as possible to warm, then dry well.
Whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the warm bowl sitting over the simmering water.
Check the temperature of the mixture, you want to get the mixture between 86 - 90f. Keep whisking and checking the temperature.
Put honey and milk in a bowl and place it over the warm water, stir to melt the honey. Remove and leave aside.
Place the bowl of warm egg mixture on the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes only. Turn the speed down to medium(4 in kitchenaid) or just below medium and beat for 10 minutes until the foam is completely cool, thick and shiny.
Sift part of the flour mixture on top, avoiding the edges of the bowl and 1 tbsp of honey and milk mixture. Very carefully fold once only by dipping a large spatula into the foam at the 12 o'clock position, dragging it across the bottom. At the 6 o'clock position, lift up some foam and spread it across the top. Sift more of the flour mixture and honey mixture, fold again. Try to incorporate all the flour and honey mixture in about three to five batches and fold carefully to blend.
Place oil in a medium mixing bowl and spoon in 1 cup of the batter and fold together. When this is well blended, fold this mixture into the main batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 300f and bake further for 40 minutes. Check for doneness.
As soon as the cake is out of the oven, brush the top with the honey-water mixture.
When it's cool enough to handle but still warm, lift it out of the pan, paper and all, and put into a plastic bag. Seal the bag and put into the refrigerator, for several hours preferably overnight as this will ensure a moist texture.
To serve, use a very sharp serrated knife to make clean cuts. Cut off the sides and make small, neat slices.

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