Sweet & Savoury: Recipes From Foodie Public Officers

Food is a sure-fire way to build bonds. Have a shot at these tried-and-tested recipes from foodies whose creations are a hit with their colleagues. Get some tips and spread the joy (and calories) in your office.

A Colourful Character

Sweet Savoury

With their intricate decorations of flowers and cartoon characters such as Shaun the Sheep and Doraemon, Ms Flora Ow’s cakes might make you think she’s a professional baker. And they taste good too – just ask her friends and colleagues at the Ministry of Social and Family Development who say her creations are as good as store-bought ones. The Assistant Director started baking three years ago for her brother’s engagement party and has been hooked ever since. The self-taught baker often brings her “experiments” to the office and bakes for close colleagues. “I have good baking days and bad ones, but my colleagues are such a sport, they would still eat everything,” says Ms Ow.

Sweet Savoury

Rainbow Cake


  • 227g cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60g) icing sugar, sifted
  • ⅔ cup (160ml) cold heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

To make:

  1. Beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form, set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and beat until smooth. Gradually add the whipping cream.
  3. Chill in the fridge till ready to use.


  • 2½ cups plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1½ cup caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 gel food colours

Tip: For brighter hues, use gel colouring instead of liquid dye.

To bake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter till nice and fluffy, using your mixer’s paddle attachment. Add sugar and continue to cream for about four minutes till the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well.
  4. Add vanilla to milk.
  5. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk/vanilla, beating on low speed until combined.
  6. Prepare seven bowls. Weigh the batter and transfer approximately equal amounts into each bowl.
  7. Add one colour drop by drop into each bowl, mixing as you go. (Three to four drops recommended.)
  8. Transfer the batter into seven greased and lined 7-inch cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
  9. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the cake centre comes out clean. The cake should spring back slightly when touched.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, remove the layers from their containers and leave aside to cool completely. Then, wrap them in cling film and store in the fridge until ready to frost.

To prepare:

  1. Place a bit of frosting on the plate or cake stand for the bottom-most cake layer to stick on.

Tip: Use a revolving cake stand for easier frosting.

  1. On the first layer of the cake, spread some frosting evenly using an offset spatula. Repeat until all layers are stacked. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour for frosting to set.
  2. Do a crumb coat: Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin coat of frosting first to “seal in” the crumbs. Then do a generous coat of frosting, smoothening it out as much as possible.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Bring it to room temperature about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Bake like a Boss

Sweet Savoury

On Monday mornings at the Public Service Division (PSD) pantry, chances are you’ll be greeted by baked treats – red velvet cupcakes, tofu cheesecake or banana cake – all made by Chief Human Resources Officer Low Peck Kem. Ms Low bakes almost every Sunday. She finds it therapeutic to transform simple ingredients like flour and sugar into desserts that “bring smiles to people’s faces”. “Many colleagues have told me they look forward to coming to work on Monday as there will be yummy cakes. Some have also blamed me for their expanding waistlines,” she says with a laugh.

Sweet Savoury

Red Velvet Cupcakes

(Makes 24)


  • 250g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 375g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 250g confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

To make:

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
  2. Add sugar, one tbsp at a time, and then the vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Tip: The frosting can be refrigerated for up to three days. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat until smooth.


  • 2½ cups plain cake flour, sifted
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil (extra-virgin olive oil recommended)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp red gel food colour (or beetroot juice)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup regular black coffee

Tip: This secret ingredient adds a kick to the chocolate flavour.

  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp rum essence (optional)

To bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt.
  2. With a mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Mix in food colour, rum essence and vanilla.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of the buttermilk mixed with coffee, whisking well.
  4. In a bowl, stir together the baking soda and vinegar (it will foam). Add this mixture to the batter and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
  5. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each to three-quarter full. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester (or skewer) inserted in the cupcake centres comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing the cupcakes.

Tip: The cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen for up to two months in airtight containers.

To frost:

 Pipe frosting onto the cupcakes using a piping bag, or frost with a small offset spatula.

Spice and Everything Nice

Sweet Savoury

With Korean food rising in popularity in Singapore, kimchi can easily be found in neighbourhood supermarkets. But Ms Hazel Liew prefers to create the fermented vegetable dish from scratch, even though it takes three days to prepare. “It is cheaper… and I can modify it to my own taste,” says the Physical Education teacher at Assumption Pathway School, who also enjoys making her own Bolognese sauce and cream of mushroom soup. Ms Liew often packs her homemade kimchi into Ziploc bags for her colleagues, even snipping the cabbage into bite-sized chunks for easy munching. She found her passion for cooking at a young age when helping her mother in the kitchen, picking up traditional dishes such as lei cha (thunder tea rice), mee hoon kueh (handmade noodles) and zong zi (rice dumplings), which she cooks for her family and friends.

Sweet Savoury


(Makes about 2kg)

  • 3kg napa cabbage (around two heads of cabbage)
  • 5 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 radish (about 200g), cut into small strips
  • 2 stalks spring onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks leek, chopped
  • 4 tbsp Korean sand lance sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp smashed ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp kimchi paste (optional, for flavour)


  1. Wash the cabbage. Cut away the root end and separate the leaves.
  2. Fill a large pot two-thirds with water, and dissolve the sea salt in it. Add the cabbage. If necessary, add more water and place a heavy plate above the cabbage to keep them submerged in water. Leave for 24 hours.
  3. Drain the cabbage, wash under running water and squeeze dry.
  4. Mix the remaining ingredients well to form a paste. Using gloves, thoroughly coat each piece of cabbage with the paste.
  5. Pack the cabbage into a glass or ceramic jar, pushing down firmly. Close the jar tightly and leave it in a cool place to ferment for about 24 hours. (Optional: Tighten the lid by covering the mouth of the jar with a plastic bag before closing.)
  6. Transfer to a refrigerator to chill. Cut the kimchi into smaller pieces before serving.

Tip: Avoid fermenting kimchi in metal or plastic containers. The high salt content tends to corrode metal and cause plastic to leach chemicals.

Tip: The kimchi will sour further with time. If it becomes too sour to eat raw (usually after a few weeks), stir-fry it with meat or make a stew out of it.

Good Ol’ Comfort Food

Sweet Savoury

At the Housing & Development Board’s annual breakfast charity fundraiser, hungry staff can look forward to Mr Wilfred Aw-Yeong’s mouthwatering porridge. The Administrative Executive’s signature dried fish porridge has been a crowd favourite since 2000 but for this photoshoot, he has prepared a meatless version, keeping his vegetarian colleagues in mind. Porridge evokes childhood memories for the avid cook – his late mother used to make it for him and taught him the recipes. “I am very proud to do something for charity with a dish that I love,” he says. Last year, he raised over $400 for the Community Chest, selling out 100 bowls in 30 minutes. Mr Aw-Yeong also enjoys baking, and has shared his orange chiffon cake recipe with his colleagues.

Sweet Savoury

Vegetarian Porridge

(Serves 10)

  • 300g brown rice
  • 6g salt
  • 30ml cooking oil
  • 120g peanuts, with skin on
  • 60g dried straw mushrooms
  • 60g dried bok choy
  • 40g dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Salt, sesame oil, pepper

To prepare:

  1. One day before, soak the peanuts in water. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Wash rice and marinate with salt and oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight too.
  3. Wash mushrooms and vegetables, rinse.

To cook:

  1. In a large pot with 1.2 litres of water, boil the rice, softened peanuts, mushrooms and vegetables for about two hours. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add salt, pepper and sesame oil to taste before serving. Garnish with spring onion or coriander if desired.

Tip: Avoid adding soya sauce as it could make the porridge taste sour.

Dried Fish Porridge

(Serves 10)

  • 100g peanuts
  • 00g dried fish (chai yu) (available from dried good stalls at the Chinatown wet market)
  • 240g long grain rice
  • 20ml cooking oil
  • 6g salt
  • 1.6 litres water
  • Sesame oil and pepper as condiments
  • Coriander, spring onions and additional peanuts (Optional, for garnishing)

To prepare: (either a few hours or a day before cooking)

  1. Boil peanuts until tender.
  2. Toast dried fish in oven until slightly brown and crispy. Break into small chunks.
  3. Wash rice and marinate with oil and salt.

To cook:

  1. In a large pot with 1.6 litres of water, boil the rice, cooked peanuts and dried fish chunks for about two hours. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add salt, pepper and sesame oil to taste before serving. Garnish with spring onion, coriander or additional peanuts if desired.
    Sep 3, 2015
    Tay Qiao Wei
    Norman Ng
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