Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade Kaya ( Coconut Egg Jam )

My mother always tells me, ' go and take a rest instead of making this and that', kuihs especially. I remember very well the last time when i passed her some angkoo kuehs and loh mai chee , she said, 'just go and get it from outside, why take the trouble to make these?' That is also because she doesnt know how to make those and that it seems a lot of work to her, well, ..maybe a bit. But i also remember the time when i told her that i wanted to make Tau foo fah, she said' oh make them, it's very easy' .You see, she used to make those when she was young so she knew. Same as this kaya. She told me that if i can make my own kaya and if it's a good one, i will never regret doing it. Asked her how to make kaya, she said, 'oh, forgot already...but make the caramel and use duck eggs.

For the benefit of some overseas friends who are not familiar with kaya, it is a coconut egg jam or more commonly known to us as 'Kaya' (加央) over here in Malaysia and Singapore, is a type of jam or spread  made by using four main ingredients that are eggs, coconut milk, sugar and  pandan (screwpine ) leaves.
It is very sweet usually and comes in original flavour and pandan flavour and most common way to enjoy kaya is by spreading on bread or toasts, like a normal jam.

I then searched the internet for the recipe and came upon Gertrude's kaya ( My Kitchen Snippets ), read the recipe and Whoah.. got to stand in front of the stove and cook for an hour! Ok, ok ..can do cos i really wanted to make it.  Gertrude's recipe calls for 8 eggs, i dont know why i kept thinking 6 eggs so i ended up getting 6 duck eggs and when i came back, i realised i'm short of 2 more eggs so i grabbed 2 chicken eggs from the fridge. Feel free to use all chicken eggs if you want. I used double boiled method and it took me close to an hour to get this done. Keep stirring all the time.

this is how the mixture looks like after 10 minutes cooking in the pot. See the yellow bits ? those are the caramel that got a little harden before i cook them together.

this is after 40 minutes

after 50 minutes before blending. You can choose not to blend if you dont mind a lumpy texture like this.

after blending..smooth. Can still be smoother if i blend further. You can stop the blender several times to chk the smooth consistency that you want.

Recipe ( from My Kitchen Snippets , i used double boiled method, makes around 700gms of kaya)
8 large eggs ( i used 6 duck eggs and 2 chicken eggs)
400ml thick coconut milk
450gm sugar
6 Pandan/screwpine leaves

1.Whisk the eggs and sugar till well combined and strain through a sieve. Add in the coconut milk.
2.Pour the mixture into a thick pot. Get ready another larger pot with boiling water. Take 5 tbsp sugar from the total sugar amount and cook in another small pot till they become caramel and brown, remove from fire and  pour that into the coconut egg mixture. ( the caramel can get hard very fast or you can choose the cook the 5 tbsps of sugar with half of the coconut mixture first )
3.Put the thick pot ( with this coconut egg mixture and caramel) into the larger pot with boiling water( double boil way) and stir . Keep stirring continuously until the mixture becomes thick ( it took me about 50 minutes).
4.Remove it from pot , remove the pandan leaves and blend till smooth. Pour into a big bowl and let cool down before storing them in fridge.

spread it on toasts..

the coffee shop way...

Really nice and very fragrant! I find it slightly sweet for me but still nice. My mum said, 'if it's not sweet, then it's not kaya!' Yes, i would be making these again sometime, though it sounds a little tough standing there stirring continuously for an hour, i really dont mind, just cut down a little bit on the sugar perhaps the next round.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bake Along #21 - Fresh Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Chips

This is one lovely cake , a good snacking cake that i have enjoyed eating. Me, Joyce and Zoe have agreed to this choice for our bake along and i  like how the strawberries were sliced and mixed in through the cake. I'm also glad that the slices did not all sink to the bottom of the cake and that my cake did not turn out pink, the little tip is that to toss the strawberries with a little flour before folding them into the batter. Moist and not too rich, i would think many of you here would enjoy eating this too.

Recipe ( from Cake Keepers Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sour cream ( i used yogurt this time)
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest ( omitted )
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
187gm unbleached all purpose flour ( i used cake flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda ( i used 1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp salt
85gm unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar ( used 100gm)
8 oz strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks ( used 100gm)

1.Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 inch square baking poan and dust with flour, knocking out any extra. Combine the egg, egg yolk, sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla in a large glass and lightly beat. Combine 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until flufy, abt 3mins, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
3.With the mixer on low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the bowl.
4.Put the mixer on low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scarping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After the last addition, mix for 30seconds on medium speed.
5.Combine the strawberries and remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a med bowl and toss to coat. Fold the flour covered strawberries along with the white chocolate chips onto the batter.
6.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted in comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let the cake cool in pan for 5 mins, invert cake and turn right side up on a rack to cool completely. Cut into 9 squares and serve.

Have you try making creme brulee? I'm excited cos i havent made them before and i will be making them soon. If you also want to try making creme brulee,  join us for our next bake along on April 10, 2012.
The link will be opened for 7 days starting April10.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Passionfruit Curd

I was thrilled when Wendy from Table for 2 or more offered to teach me how to make macarons. I think she got fed up with me telling her "ah, i dont know how to make them", " my thermometer is awtar, dont want to make" etc. LOL!Though i've met wendy a few times, it was my first visit to her house. Although we stay in different towns, it's actually not that far, just about 40 mins drive from my place to hers. Time really passed so quickly when you're enjoying yourself, we she a chatterbox LOL!..we chatted and chatted and a look at the clock..oh gosh..better start doing, the conversation will never end! It was pretty fast getting all these macarons done, it was less than an hour i think . We made a small batch just with 2eggs recipe. I'm not going to write about the tips and how-to abt doing all these macarons cos i'm sure many of you here are far more better than me. I'm considered to be a very late born baby into the macaron world.

photo credit: wendy

I have chosen to make passionfruit curd as the filling for macarons and made that 2 days prior to the meeting. I've made lemon curds a few times so this time i thought i want to try passionfruit curd. I like the passionfruit curd very much, it's fragrant , not too sour and not too sweet and no regrets making this filling for the macarons. Here's the recipe:

Passionfruit curd ( sourced from so sweet i could hardly speak with slightly more butter)
( i forgot to count how many macarons we made , some were out of shape, some were burnt but this filling is enough to make around 15 macarons )
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup passionfruit pulp ( i used 4 passionfruits )
2 tbsp caster sugar
50gm butter

1.Put the egg yolks, whole egg , passionfruit pulp and caster sugar in a bowl over simmering water and stir to mix.
2.Continue to stir and cook them until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, takes around 7-8 minutes. Remove from fire and put in the butter and continue to stir until the butter has melted.
3.Let it cool and store in a sterilised jar and refrigerate.
the ground almond and the vanilla bean seeds

the almond mixture

cooking the sugar syrup

the UFO ones..piped by me!!
we also had some charred macarons ..suspected due to the tray that absorbs too much heat..

Wendy decided to make some vanilla scented macarons! It was a great learning experience for me, i was able to see the cooking of the syrup, the mixing of syrup into the egg whites , the folding of the almond mixture into the egg whites and all! I now have a much much better picture and better confidence to make macarons! Although i cant say that my next macarons would be successful but this surely helps very much! Thanks, Wendy! Apart from learning macarons, I also managed to bring home some sage and basil leaves from wendy's garden. Varieties of them..basil, sage, turmeric, fennel, thyme and many more. Dont ask me about gardening, i think i only know how to water the plants. Haha! Oh, where's the recipe for the vanilla macarons?
It's over at wendy's blog here chk it out!

photo credit: wendy

Am submitting this to the Aspiring Bakers Challenge #17 - March Macaron Madness (March 2012 ) hosted by Alan from Travelling Foodies

Thursday, March 22, 2012

English Muffins

I'm sure many of us here already know  that English muffins are not the little cakes but a type of bread leavened with yeast and cooked in griddle or frying pan. They are usually split, toasted , put some spread on it or as sandwiches and one interesting thing that i just knew about these English muffins is that they are better not to cut with a knife when serving but rather fork split it. Yes, fork split. The reason of doing so is likely to have that kind of rough and jagged surface like this /\/\/\/\/\/\. In Peter Reinhart's book, the 'Bread Baker's Apparentice', he said that we can do so by running the tines of the fork into and around the edge of the bread, fork split it and those high and low points of the surface , they call it 'nook and crannies '( i just know this term today) which are very much of a part of the english muffins characteristics will be created. Cute, eh?

'fork splitted 'muffins and its 'wanted' rough surface

Recipe ( from Bread Baker's Apparentice )
makes 6 English muffins
10 oz unbleached bread flour ( i used ordinary bread flour)
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar ( i used caster sugar)
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp (0.5 oz) shortening/unsalted butter, at room temp ( i used butter)
3/4 cup to 1 cup milk or buttermilk, at room temp ( 1 used milk )
cornmeal, for dusting

or sandwich..

1. Stir together flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir in the shortening or butter and 3/4 cup of milk   mix in low speed with paddle attachment until the ingredients form a ball. If there's still loose flour in the bowl, add in the remaining 1/4 cup of milk. The dough should be soft and pliable, not stiff.
2.Change to dough hook on medium speed and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, sprinkling in more flour if necessary. It should pass the windowpane stage. ( i did not get to the windowpane stage but beat for about 15 minutes on my machine) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it proof for 60-90 minutes or until double its size.
3.Divide the dough into 6 pieces of 3 oz each and shape the pieces into ball. Line a sheet pan or baking pan with parchment paper, mist the parchment with some oil and dust with cornmeal. Arrange the dough each spacing them 3 inches apart. Spray them lightly with oil and sprinkle them with cornmeal. Cover the pan loosely with a clean towel. Let it proof for another 60-90 minutes until nearly double its size.
4.Heat a skillet and also preheat the oven to 350F/177C with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
5.Gently transfer the muffins to the pan, 1 inch apart from one another. Cook them for 5-8 minutes minutes or until the bottom of the dough turns rich golden brown, they will brown quickly but will not burn for a while, so resist the temptation to turn them prematurely or they will fall when you flip them over. Flip them over and cook the other side for another 5-8 minutes. You can use your spatula to flatten them a little.
6. Transfer the pieces to a sheet pan and place it in the oven and bake for another 5-8 minutes to cook the inside. ( dont wait for the uncooked pieces or the ones just out from the pan will not respond to oven stage ( i did 3 at a time, fry them in pan and bake them in oven, then continue with the balance 3 )
7. Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and cool for at least 30 mins before slicing them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cripsy Bacon and Chives Hash Browns

To continue to Cook Like A Star, haha..i like this name , i've chosen this Crispy bacon and chives hash brown from Donna Hay's website. Hash browns, never made them before and the only hash brown i remember are the ones from MacDonalds. The McD ones are thick, crispy and quite fluffy and the ones here are thin type, though they are not as fluffy but they taste nice. The not so good thing about these hash browns is that i find that they dont stay crispy for long. it's good to eat once it's done ( if you dont mind burning your throat) but after maybe 5 - 10 minutes, they turned soft. I've made sure i've squeezed out excess moisture from the grated potatoes when i made them, so not really sure why..i failed ! i failed!  LOL!

Recipe ( from Donna Hay's website , with little changes )
2 US  potatoes, peeled and grated, squeezed out excess water
2 bacon rashers , thinly sliced
8 chives, roughly chopped
2 tbsps vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1 poached egg, to serve
some salad greens , to serve

    Place the potatoes, chives, bacon, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine.  Heat the oil in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat. Add cupfuls of potato mixture, flatten slightly and cook in batches for 3-4 minutes each side until golden and crispy. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with salad leaves and poached egg.

Do enjoy going through all these Donna Hay recipes done by the rest of the bloggers. These are all for the participation for Cook Like A Star organised by my buddy, Zoe.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chicken with Cashew Nuts

Chicken with cashew nuts is not something uncommon , i've cooked this several times at home, using a mixture of ketchup sauce and some oyster sauce. You may find that my version here is a little different, well..when i first cooked this, it was just a matter of trying out and seems that i liked it. It tasted a little bit like the chinese kung pao chicken but i dared not name it as kung pao chicken otherwise you may think the recipe is a little odd.

190 chicken breasts/fillet, cleaned and cut into cubes, marinate with a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of tapioca flour
50gm cashew nuts, toasted in wok
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium size onion, cut into wedges
3 baby corns ( optional )
1/2 piece of capsicum, cut into wedges
5 pieces of dried chillies , soaked for 15 minutes
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 tbsp of water
1/2 cup of cooking oil
coriander leaves ( optional)

1tbsp ketchup sauce
1tbsp oyster sauce
1tbsp water

1. Marinade the chicken with a little salt and tapioca flour for 15 minutes.
2. In another bowl, mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.
3.Pour the oil into the wok and cook the chicken till they are slightly brownish, takes around 8-10 minutes.
4.Remove the chicken and leave about 1 tbsp of oil in the wok. Put in the dried chillies, garlic, onion and saute for about 1-2 minutes, Throw in the capsicum and baby corns and return the chicken cubes into the wok. Pour in the seasoning and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add 2-3 tbsps of water if you find them a little dry. ( taste and see if you need to add salt)
5.Add in the cashew nuts and  coriander leaves, give them a quick toss and dish up.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Free and Easy Bake Along #20 - Ciabatta of the long awaited items that i've finally made. I purposely picked a ciabatta to bake for our bake along otherwise i dont know how long will i still take to really make this happen. Yeah, i got a whole long list of items that i want to bake..gosh, the list is getting longer and faster than i can eat! I had my first ciabatta bite many months ago , taken away from an outlet here and i was surprised that the ciabatta was as hard as rock, i think if i were to fling that at my dog, she will probably fainted...okay, okay maybe i exaggerated but really , that was real hard and when i got back to the outlet the next time, i told them that the ciabatta which i bought was really dry and hard but she told me that their ciabatta was meant to be that way and that we need to toast it before we eat. Really, does it meant to be that way? i dont know, i wonder why would someone wants to make a tough and dry ciabatta in the first place.

my 1st attempt

my first attempt

I already fell in love with the ciabatta that i saw in Sotong Cooks blog last year and she also included a video on that, that's a very helpful video to watch if you intend to use this can have an idea of how the dough looks like. Her ciabatta is beautiful with great crumbs and big holes. I made these ciabattas 3 times using the same one recipe, i love the ones that i made the 3rd time the most. My first attempt was also quite a nice one, full of holes but not as big as in my third attempt. Look the pictures above, you can see the difference.  These ciabattas were airy and the crust was great. My 2nd attempt was a failure, i added a little more water,  just a few tbsps more compared to my first loaf, it was a flop, the dough was just way too wet, runny and the ciabatta was only half cooked. There were probably some other things that i didnt do it right. So my 3rd loaf, i sticked back to 450gm water. To talk a little about the recipe, the dough was quite wet and was asked to proof till triple its size. For both of my 1st and 3rd attempts, I didnt manage to triple its size even after 4 hours of proofing, it could be partly due to the not so hot day..yes, i'm blaming the weather..haha and to me, the challenging part of making this ciabatta is actually transferring the dough after its second proof to the baking tin.. I followed exactly as what was shown in the video that is scoop the dough up with the scrapper and flip it outside down on to your prepared baking tin. At this point, i would think i hv deflated the whole dough but once it got into the oven, you will see a little magic there, it will puff up nicely.  You can choose to do the 2nd proofing straight in the baking tin , that way, you need not flip the dough over but according to the writer of the recipe, the purpose of flipping it over is to let the air bubbles distribute more evenly.

my 3rd attempt

Recipe ( adapted from Sotong Cooks, credit to Jenmenke video )
makes 2 loaves
500gm bread flour
15gm salt
2 tsps instant yeast
450-490gms water ( i used 450gm)

1. Mix all ingredients with a paddle till they are combined, let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 10 minutes.
2. After 10 minutes, change to medium high speed on your mixer ( i used speed 6 on my KA mixer) and beat for about 10 minutes. ( you wont see the shape of the dough at this point, it's actually a batter ). Change to the dough hook and continue beating on medium high speed till the batter leaves the sides and the bottom of the bowl. This will take probably another 7-10 minutes. ( i'm still on speed 6 on KA mixer).
3.Remove and pour the dough into a container that well sprayed with oil . ( i floured my container ) and let it proof till triple its size. ( I only managed to double its size, pls proof to triple its size if can, sotong did it )
4. Scrape the dough our from the bowl onto a well floured surface and divide the dough into 2 pieces using your scrapper , shape the dough and use your fingers to lightly pinch all over the dough and let it proof and cover for another 45 minutes.
5.After 45 minutes, using 2 scrappers, pick up the dough and flip them over to your prepared baking pan, shape them nicely a little and bake in a preheated oven at 260C for 15-20 minutes

JoyceZoe and myself will be baking a Fresh Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Chips taken from Cake Keeper Cakes page 21 for our next bake along on Mar 27, 2012. You can google for the recipe or any similar strawberry cake with white choc chips if you wish to join in. See ya!

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lemongrass Chicken Chapati Wraps

I have been thinking to make a lot of wraps lately. Instead of making tortilla this time, i use chapati as a wrap. Roti chapati is normally eaten with curry meat or vegetables but as long as it can be rolled, i thought why not make some wraps with it. I used Elin's homemade chapati recipe but instead of atta flour , which is the ideal flour for making chapatis, i used wholemeal flour and a little bit of plain flour as i did not have atta flour on hand and i also pan fried some lemongrass chicken and made a simple pineapple guacamole as fillings for the wrap. I really enjoyed eating these chapati wraps. Though these chapatis are not as soft as i get from outside, i'm still happy with these. Well elin, we are not professional chapati makers and we are also unsure how soft is soft the dough should be. Agree with what elin says, ' practice, practice' and experiment. Thanks ma'am!

Chapati recipe ( from Elinluv's Tidbits Corner, i made into 5 pieces)
1 cup atta flour ( i used 90gm wholemeal and 30gm plain flour)
2 tbsps of yogurt
2 tbsps of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of warm milk
a pinch of salt

1.Mix the flour and the salt together and warm the milk. Slowly pour in the milk, add the yogurt and oil to the flour mixture and mix well using hands to form a soft dough. Knead the dough for 5 mins till smooth and rest for 30 mins.
2. Divide the dough into 5 pieces, shape each piece into a round ball, flatten it and roll it out to form a disk.
3.Warm the non stick pan or a flat pan and cook the chapati till it blisters and puffs up. approximately 1 mins on each side. Remove from pan.

I made the fillings 2 hrs prior making the chapati
250gms chicken fillet/ breasts
60gm lemongrass ( 3 stalks of lemongrass, all white parts plus little green parts)
1 small piece turmeric , slightly better than a thumbsize
30gm small onions

Blend the lemongrass, turmeric and onions plus a little water in a blender and marinate the chicken meat with these lemongrass paste for an hour. Pan fry the chicken meat till cooked.

Simple Guacamole
1 medium size avocado, mashed
100gms cubed pineapple, roughly chopped
2 small onions, chopped
a little lemon juice

mix all the above ingredients together.

some salad leaves/lettuce

Assemble and wrap: Spread some guacamole on the chapati, put in the cooked lemongrass chicken, add some salad leaves and slowly roll up the chapati. Tuck the fillings in as it's being rolled. . Cut into pieces. 

I'm sharing this with the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday Event

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baked Italian Chicken

This is really a good opportunity for me to cook a little western, not that i'm totally ignorant about western cooking but apart from pasta which is simpler and easier to duplicate, i must admit that i'm kind of poor when it comes to combining flavours and ingredients. But today i'm going to cook like a star, i'm going to cook like Donna Hay..haha! I do not want to choose a recipe that requires long cooking time or ingredients that i'm not familiar with and i want something that it's easy for me to handle. So i picked this Baked Italian Chicken by Donna Hay. The recipe was followed through except that i did not put in pancetta and i marinated the chicken meat with some salt and added some pineapples. The tomatoes, pineapples, garlic and oregano were tossed with oil and sent for baking and after that, put the meat in and further baked till the chicken is cooked. Easy, right? When i tasted this, i thought it tasted like Chicken Napolitana which i had in aust but that comes with more gravy. I served this with couscous alongside with some salad leaves and baked italian chicken!

So do you want to cook like Donna hay? if so, find a recipe of hers , make it and submit to Cook Like A Star event  organised by Zoe. The event is going to run for a month. For more details, you can check here

Recipe ( from Donna Hay recipes here )
serves 2
250gm cherry tomatoes, halved
120gm piece flat pancetta ( omitted and added few pineapple cubes )
2 tbsp oregano leaves
8 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 X 200gm chicken breast fillets, trimmed
80gm black olives
cracked black pepper
basil leaves and grated parmesan, to serve

1.Preheat oven to 200C
2. Place the tomatoes, pineapples, oregano, garlic and oil in a baking dish and toss to combine. Bake for 25 minutes. Marinate the chicken with some salt at the meantime.
3.Add the chicken and olives to the dish and sprinkle with pepper.
4.Bake for 20 minutes until chicken is tender. ( i tossed the chicken once during the baking process)
5.Top with basil and sprinkle with grated parmesan and pepper again if desired.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Baked Eggs

I first came to know about baked eggs through Lyndsey's (The Tiny Skillet ) blog. I know steamed eggs, fried eggs, half boiled eggs but not baked eggs and reading the way how lyndsey did that was quite interesting using slices of bread as a base, topped with herbs, spinach and cheese over the eggs and baked. If you are an egg person and been taking fried eggs or omelette most of the days, then perhaps can have this for a change. Searching the internet gives me ideas what to put in..mushrooms, leeks, ham, sausages, onions, bacons, breadcrumbs, salmon, veggies, cheese..etc. I mean you dont have to put in all these, just a few ingredients, that will make quite a filling breakfast. I had here some bacon bits, a small piece of leftover capsicum and a few basil leaves taken from my plant.  It may take a little bit of your time to get the eggs cooked, depending how well you want the eggs to be. I want mine to be fully cooked so it took me about 25 minutes to get it done using a broiler function.  It would be nicer if you do not break the egg yolks and if you look at mine here, one of the egg yolks was carelessly broken up. We can also make smaller portions for individuals and bake them in ramekins.

Ingredients: ( inspired by The Tiny Skillet )
2 eggs
some bacon bits
2 cherry tomatoes, halved
few pieces of  capsicum cubes
fresh basil
some black pepper

here's what i did:  Fry the bacon bits till they turn brown and crispy like.  Throw in the tomatoes and capsicum, give them a quick toss. Remove from heat and sprinkle them on the baking dish . Carefully crack the eggs or you can crack them in a bowl earlier and slowly pour them onto the baking dish , put in some basil leaves and bake in a preheated oven at 195C until the eggs reached its desired donenss. Sprinkle with some black pepper. ( i used the broil function in my oven to cook this )