FAQ: How to Make A Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake with a Pressure Cooker

This is a follow-up post about my earlier write-up on how to bake a Japanese Cheesecake that jiggles with a pressure cooker. I wanted to keep that post complete instructional. This post, on the other hand, is to help with troubleshooting or for any questions that come from attempting the recipe.

I have baked this cotton cheesecake so, so many times, my body goes into auto mode while making it. But to get to this degree of comfort, I’ve had to fail so, so many times. So if you do not get it the first try and you have not figured out why, don’t give up, just drop me a comment and we’ll figure it out together.

I’m splitting this into several sections: to do with ingredients, to do with method and to do with diversification of flavours.

(A) About Ingredients

1) Must I use full cream milk?
Full cream milk provides a fuller texture. I don’t know what that means either but the taste is different from when you use fresh milk. If you want to have chocolate cheesecake, use full cream chocolate milk + two tablespoons of cocoa powder.

2) Can I use cake flour instead?
I have tried using cake flour instead of all-purpose (AP) flour and plain flour. The cheesecake came out unbelievable soft but does not jiggle. It also doesn’t look nice for pictures. At times I would use 50% cake flour and 50% AP flour. You can experiment with this if you like but for your first time, go with 100% AP flour.

3) I don’t have corn flour, can I use corn starch?
Many recipes out there say that the two are the same. So far, all my cheesecake attempts use corn starch. They have not failed me yet.

4) Do I need to use that much fine sugar?
Unfortunately yes, because this is used together with the egg whites to produce the meringue. The cake itself is not sweet in particular. I have tried it with 80 g of fine sugar instead of the full 100 g. The difference is not pronounced but the cake with 100 g finishes faster for some reason.

5) I do not have cream of tartar, what can I use instead?
You can use lemon juice. Just squeeze one lemon juice worth of it. Many cheesecake recipes include lemon as flavour but for the meringue, the acidity ensures that the whipping of the egg whites produces a stable foam. During my first try, my egg whites broke apart, because I kept stopping since I had no idea how long to whip, and I did not add lemon juice or cream of tartar to stabilize it. Trust me, it’s not worth losing 5 eggs’ worth of egg whites. Just add the cream of tartar/lemon juice.

6) I do not have large eggs, can I substitute it with other sized eggs?
Of course you can, as long as the weight of the egg yolks and egg whites tally with what is mentioned in the recipe, there is no reason why this recipe can’t work. It is of course, easier, to just get the same sized eggs. But in any case, get fresh eggs. This is very important.

If you do not have enough, you need to google how to scale down your ingredients based on the number of eggs you do have. Your problem isn’t unique. Someone else probably faced the same problem and so there is probably an answer or two addressing that issue out there.

7) Do I need to use vanilla extract?
Yes, otherwise the cake will taste of egg whites and egg whites only. No matter what other flavourings you put in, add the vanilla extract.

8) Your recipe requires a lot of sifting. Are you sure it is necessary?
Truthfully, it isn’t but the taste is different if you sift diligently. And the ingredients also mix more easily if you sift.

(B) ABOUT Method

1) Does the parchment paper have to be 1 cm taller than the rim?

Well, this is what happens when you make it too tall. Here’s one of my earlier attempts.

This is a good 2.5 inches taller than the rim.

This is the outcome.

What a sorry sight. Still tastes awesome.

And this is what happens when the parchment paper just covers the exact size of the baking tin. The cake rises above the parchment’s edges and them when it shrinks back down, it becomes a delicious mess.

2) What’s with the shrinking when it is time to take the cake out of the pressure cooker?

Cotton cheesecakes shrink.

To be fair, it isn’t the pressure cooker’s fault. When baked in the oven, the cotton cheesecake is baked with a water bath (or bain-marie) so that the temperature is not as high and is more conducive to the cake developing its structure. The waterbath also ensures a beautiful golden colour and that signature dome shape you see in those cotton-cheesecake-making videos.

Hence, you will find many oven recipes that ask you to tweak the baking temperature and the timing a number of times throughout the process.

One does not have this luxury when baking with a pressure cooker. It’s either Bake or no Bake. You can’t choose the temperature you want to bake with.

So the next best thing to do is to ensure a gradual decrease in temperature before taking it out of the cooker.

Once the baking is complete, opening the lid releases the hot air inside the cooker but once you close it back up and as it is still in Keep Warm mode, there is still residual warmth inside the cooker.

The temperature difference isn’t as great if you do it this way, as compared to if you had immediately taken the cheesecake out of the cooker once baking is complete.

A shrinking cheesecake is not pretty.

3) Folding is terrifying. Can I just whip it all in?

I can’t really stop you from doing that but do get back to us and share your outcome so we know if this is possible.

Any recipe that calls for whipping egg whites require you to fold your batter in slowly but firmly. You do not want to break up the mixture and if the volume is still there, then you are in the right direction.

Don’t be too gentle and under-whip though. Then it becomes a different type of mess. You will see white streaks which is just the egg whites that aren’t folded in enough. And because the volume isn’t there, well, this is what you get.

Early days, ok? Let it go.

(A) Diversifying the Flavours

There are many other flavours that you can try with with a few tweaks to the recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

  • 80 g Full Cream Milk (Good Day)
  • 140 g Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)
  • 40 g Butter (Emborg)
  • 60 g Plain Flour / All Purpose Flour (storebrand)
  • 20 g Corn Flour / Corn Starch (storebrand)
  • 5 large fresh eggs (weighs 58-60 gr. each with shell)
  • 100 g Fine Sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Chocolate Cheesecake

For Chocolate Cheesecake, add 2 tbsp of cocoa powder to the flour and corn starch mix. Mix well and sift. Also, switch the full cream milk to chocolate milk, same amount.

If you do not have chocolate milk, you can melt 100g of chocolate chips or baking chocolate and add that to the cream cheese and butter then follow the recipe as normal.

Marble CHEESECAKE

For Marble Cheesecake, once you have completed the folding stage, separate the outcome into two bowls. Sift 1.5 tbsp of cocoa powder into one bowl, and fold it in.

Next, using two ladles or spoons put one spoonful of each of the batter into the middle of the pot/pan, alternating between the two, so you get concentric circles of white and chocolate rings. Repeat this until you have used up both batters.

Alternatively you can put the batters into two separate piping bags, then pipe them in, in an alternating manner. This will give you better control of the circles.

Or if you aren’t into circles, just google “marbling technique” to find out how others do it.

Orange CHEESECAKE

Add 3 tsp orange flavouring together with the vanilla extract. Follow the recipe as normal. For this one you need to keep the cheesecake in the fridge for 24 hours for the flavour to develop. Trust me on this one. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more flavourful it gets.

coffee CHEESECAKE

Sift 1-2 tbsp coffee powder together with the flour. That’s it. Follow the rest of the recipe as normal. Adjust the coffee powder you put in according to your taste and the strength of your coffee.

Decorations

Yeah, this is not my area of expertise but I have seen cotton cheesecakes with icing on top, icing done with special stencil designs, a logo burned into the top of the cheesecake, glazed at the top with apricot jam, topped with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries on top with a layer of scattered icing, topped with mango slices etc. It is up to you to decide what you want on top of your cheesecake.

And thats it. I will be updating this post with new materials as they come. I hope you will give this Japanese Cheesecake recipe a try or share the recipe with someone who might like to give it a go. Good luck!

How to Make A Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake (with a Pressure Cooker)

Today we are making jiggly Japanese cheesecake aka a cotton cheesecake. With a pressure cooker. Because I do not have an oven and it is actually easier to bake a jiggly Japanese cheesecake with the pressure cooker than in the oven (no water bath needed). This is different from a New York cheesecake which uses a lot more cheesecake and is a denser, more flavourful and heavy cake.

When baking with a pressure cooker you can pour it into the inner pot, or put it in a baking tin. With this recipe you can do it with either. With the baking tin, you get a more cake-like structure but you need to do the extra work of prepping the baking paper. Both outcomes are similarly delicious and addictive.

Check Out: Burning Questions You May Have About Making The Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

Ingredients List

Here are the ingredients for a 7-inch cheesecake. I’m including the brands I used for each ingredient. You can follow or replace them with your favourite brands:

  • 80 g Full Cream Milk (Good Day)
  • 140 g Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)
  • 40 g Butter (Emborg)
  • 60 g Plain Flour / All Purpose Flour (storebrand)
  • 20 g Corn Flour / Corn Starch (storebrand)
  • 5 large fresh eggs (weighs 58-60 gr. each with shell)
  • 100 g Fine Sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preparation

(1) In order to retrieve your cake in its entirety you need to grease and line your 7 inch cake tin with baking/parchment paper at the bottom and on the sides. If you are baking with the inner pot, grease the pot with butter, at the bottom and 3 inches up the sides. You do not need to preheat the pressure cooker.

(2) For the sides, make sure your side baking parchments extend 1 cm (no more) above the height of your pan. For some reason if the baking paper is too “tall”, the side of the cake will collapse as it shrinks. Too short and the cake sort of “overflows” over the rim and again, you end up with a not so pretty cake.

(3) You need an exit plan for how to remove the baking tin. The clippers I have could not fit into the small space between my baking tin and the inner pot. You could build like a carrier or lift thing out of aluminium foil like what I did here, except that the foil would probably tear before you could get your cake out, which happened to me.

But look at the beautiful colour and mix of this one

The way I eventually get the baking tin out may get your fingers burned. I lift one side of the baking tin with a fork, then pull it out with a mittened hand. It gets the job done, and there is a slight dent to one corner of all my cakes but you won’t notice it if you aren’t paying attention. So there.

(4) Bake time is around 59 minutes. I usually need 30 to 40 minutes to prepare the ingredients so you will need to block out 2 hours (or less) for this cake.

(5) Look up “how to fold whipped egg whites into batter” before you start. This is very important. Watch videos on how the experts do it. Watch a lot of videos.

For me, folding is quite painful to learn. I don’t know how many failed cheesecakes I had made because I failed at folding. Look up how to fold whipped up egg whites into batter on Youtube or baking sites if this is your first time. It takes some practice. Okay, it takes a lot of practice on my part.

(6) Before you start baking, add your corn starch to the flour and mix them well. Sift three times if time permits, sift at least once if it doesn’t.

Batter

1. Let the cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature (this needs 3 hours or 10 seconds in the microwave).

2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. If this is your first time, be sure to:
– Use a clean bowl for the egg whites. There shouldn’t be a drop of water in the bowl for whipping the egg whites.
– Not have any of the egg yolks in the egg whites. Otherwise, the whipping of the egg whites will fail spectacularly. I learned this the hard way. It is okay to have egg whites in the egg yolk.
– Add cream of tartar to the egg whites before whipping, especially if you are new to this.

3. Mix together the melted cream cheese and butter first. Be sure to mix well and don’t leave any lumps in. Add some of the milk if the mixture is too thick.

Once the mixture is no longer warm, add the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Don’t throw all the ingredients in in one go, doing bit by bit makes the mixing a lot easier albeit slower. Think of the end result.

4. To this batter, sift the flour and corn starch bit by bit, in 3-4 different batches. Mix well after every addition.

5. Sift this combined mixture into another bowl.

Whipping the Egg Whites

1. Whip up the 5 egg whites with 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. Whip and low speed for 1 full minute.

2. Add the 100 g of sugar in multiple batches as you whip the egg whites. The first one-third of sugar should go into the egg whites only after you have beaten the egg whites for a minute. Gradually add the rest and stop after you have obtained stiff peaks AND a condensed milk consistency (it takes around 5 to 7 minutes, depending on what speed you use).

Fresh and white

Combining The Two

1. Take a quarter of the whipped egg whites which at this point is more like foam than something solid or liquid, and add it to the batter (from the previous section). Mix it any way you like. Go crazy. This is just to dilute the batter so that it is easier to fold.

2. Next, fold the whipped up egg whites into your batter, this time in one-third portions at a time. My favourite technique that I learned online is to turn the bowl a quarter of the way every time I fold. So my bowl makes a full 360 degrees every four times I fold. For every one-third I put in, I fold 20 times (yes, I count it). This is an easy-to-follow foolproof plan that only works if you know how to fold (take from the bottom, drop it back to the top, your wrist will be making full circles).

3. Once you are satisfied with the folding, pour the concoction into your already-greased inner pot or into your already-lined-with-baking-paper baking tin. With the baking tin, just put it straight into the inner pot. You do not need to raise it on anything else, you do not need to put any water in. The baking tin is in direct contact with the inner pot.

4. Remember to lift and drop the pan (or bang the side of the pot gently with a wooden spoon) a few times to get rid of bubbles inside before you put it into your PPC to bake. You can stop when the surface is as smooth as it can possibly be. Don’t take too long with this.

5. Select BAKE mode, set the timer for 59 minutes. Keep the regulator at SEAL. Once the timer has started, when it counts down to around the 20-minute mark, turn the regulator to BAKE. Sometimes it depressurises a bit (you hear a hiss), sometimes nothing happens.

This was baked entirely with the regulator at BAKE. It appears drier.

Getting the Cake Out

If you are baking with the tin, once it is done, open the lid to snap your picture then close it back up. Leave it in Keep Warm mode for 2 minutes.

Then, open the lid and remove the cake from the pressure cooker. This open-and-shut step is important to prevent too much shrinkage of the cake. (I explain why this is in my follow-up post.)

Remove the parchment, turn it over and remove the bottom parchment, take some pictures and jiggle with it (because this recipe is for a JIGGLY cake, so it MUST JIGGLE). You can look at the before and after pics to see how much shrinkage is involved.

The shrinking is pronounced at the sides of the cake (see shape and lines)

If you are baking directly in the inner pot, once it is done, open the lid, take a pic and watch it shrink. Keep it in Keep Warm mode. Once the shrinking has stabilised or has stopped, remove it from the pressure cooker and turn it outside down to take the cake out.

The End Result

Here’s what inner pot baking looks like once the baking time is over. As you can see, the cake rises up to Level 9 (Rice).

It always rises this high once you open the lid but then shrinks fairly quickly

Here’s what it shrinks to once it cools down. Yes, it shrinks all the way down to Level 4.

And this is when it is out of the pot and on the way into my stomach. (Don’t mind the line on the surface, I had an “accident” trying to get it out of the pot. It was during the early days of baking.)

I have since stopped baking directly in the inner pot not because it doesn’t taste good (it tastes heavenly) but because after putting all that hard work in, you want to see a beautiful cake, not a flat tyre in front of you. Or maybe that’s just me.

When baking with a tin, you get results like this. Hey, it’s looking back at you. I haven’t figured out how to ensure a smooth surface although to be honest, I do not think it is possible since the condensate from the batter drips from the inner lid back into the batter while it is baking.

The moment of truth, right when the lid comes off

Note that when baking with a PPC, it is the side that touches the bottom of the baking tin that is “burned”, while the top side remains a beautiful burn-free yellow (below).

In the pictures below, you can see the side of the cake “wrinkle” and be all groovy with us (I do not apologise for bad puns, deal with it).

Two sides of the same shrinking cake

When the shrinkage is great, you will get cakes that look like they are in the middle of deflating (like above). Keep trying.

And sometimes you get a cake that actually stands up proper, like it is proud to be a cake. Still, keep trying.

I cannot fathom how many times I have tried this recipe over and over again to perfect it to the point where I feel like I can finally let go and retire from all this baking nonsense.

I kid, I still love baking (it isn’t nonsense, it is Science!) but once I’ve gotten the recipe and the method the way I want it, the obsession is no longer there to keep trying. And this was the last original flavour Japanese Cheesecake I baked. So far.

I will be writing a follow-up post on what other Japanese Cheesecake flavours you can try with pretty much the same recipe as the above, and some troubleshooting (FAQ) that can help you produce a better end result.

Subscribe or come back for another visit soon!

HDIM Reviews Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum (FAQ)

[Jan 29, 2019] This post has been updated with additional info under entry #8.
[Jan 19, 2019] This post has been updated with a new entry, #8.

Over the past 24 hours, I have been looking forward to finding dust bunnies and hair on the floor because that means I can start up the robot again even if it is just for a spot of cleaning (get it?).

Anyways, I was fielded questions about the device, and so I did some experiments. Here is the Q&A to do with the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum.

#1 Does it play well with mats?

Yes, if you have mats with no loose strands. If you have a mat with loose strands like what you can see in the pictures below, and that strand gets sucked in, then you’re going to have a problem.

I took several screenshots out of a 1 minute plus video of the robot trying to wrestle with the play mat. Obviously, it couldn’t eat up the whole mat but it doesn’t seem to be succeeding in the escape-the-mat department either. It was painful to watch.

When I stopped the camera and the robot to release it from this dance of death, it turns out that one loose strand from the mat was sucked way too deep into the dustbin. There was no way the robot was going to escape. I believe that if you have a more rigid type of floor mat, you won’t have problems with the robot.

#2 How is it with stairs?

It’s clever enough to detect the edge of the stairs and I can confirm that it won’t dive off the edge. It will however give you mini-heart attacks every time it comes close to the edge. You’ll get used to it, eventually.

Note to self: I don’t really need a virtual wall or to block the edges off with laundry baskets.

#3 What’s the noise level like?

Loud. Take my word for it.

There are four different settings and the Quiet setting is perhaps tolerable at best. You can’t really hear yourself think (and so you can’t blog) when it comes to the other settings: Balanced, Turbo and Full Speed. That said, with the doors closed, this no longer poses a problem.

I would have loved to make a video of this but unfortunately, my phone can’t really do justice to the voice level. It keeps coming out sounding a lot softer than it actually is. You can check out videos of the robot on YouTube but it would be best to get a live demo to really gauge the noise level.

#4 How fast does it vacuum? How’s the Battery life like?

The Mi Robot did my top floor (two bedrooms and one hallway) with a total area of 25 m2 within 31 minutes. This was on Balanced mode. I didn’t keep track of the battery life for this particular cleaning session because it didn’t cross my mind.

So I did a more controlled experiment involving a cleaning session of my ground floor. It involves the kitchen, dining room, a small area under my staircase, and the living room.

As you can see from the screenshot above, over a total cleaning area of 30 m2, the robot used up 31% of the battery life (from 100%) and completed cleaning in 42 minutes under Full Speed mode.

It will return to the dock by itself and start recharging until it reaches 100% again.

#5 Should I get this one or the 2nd Gen which also mops?

The Mi Robot is a first gen robot. The second gen robot is the Roborock. I don’t own a Roborock but research is not hard to do these days. Here’s what I found.

The Roborock has a mopping feature which involves a mopping attachment you need to put on it yourself. It’s not for heavy-duty mopping so for moms who are particular about hygiene, they may not be impressed with this feature.

Furthermore, there isn’t a separate mopping mode that you can enable on the Mi Home app. What this means is the robot doesn’t know when it is mopping and when it is vacuuming. Keep that in mind while you read the next section.

Other than that, the second gen robot is more efficient in the vacuuming department, and even does the same cleanup in less time compared with 1st gen. And it does better with carpets (see #5.5).

For those with budget considerations, there is a RM400-RM500 difference (depending on the vendor) between the 1st gen and the 2nd gen robots. Note: When choosing the vendor, take note of how long their warranty coverage is and whether you need an adaptor for the power cord (some sellers give you one for free, others don’t).

If you want to know more, best to check out the Roborock official website.

#5.5 How is it with carpets?

Yeah, the Mi Robot doesn’t do well on carpet. Heck, it almost choked to death on a cloth floor mat.

I did find out that this is no longer a problem with Roborock because of a change in design which allows it to climb onto thicker carpets and rugs. It will also increase its suction power automatically when on carpet territory.

Sounds like a godsend until you find out that it can’t differentiate between vacuuming mode and mopping mode. So the Roborock will mop your carpet if you let it roam free.

Still, it does mop. The 1st gen Mi Robot doesn’t.

#6 Does it have problems with sucking up hair?

If it does, then it is a crummy robot vacuum. And luckily, it’s pretty good when it comes to sucking up dirt, hair, bits of paper and even sweet wrappers.

You know what it’s also good at? Letting me know subtly just how bad I am with housecleaning.

Yikes!

The robot had a problem with thread though. A piece of thread that was lying around twirled itself around and then got stuck near the brush-propeller section. It tangled that part up so much that it made a pretty bad sound.

Nothing a quick pause and some untangling can’t fix though and it is back on the road again.

#7 How is it with furniture?

As long as it can get through between the legs of your chair, it will clean whatever area it can get into. Under sofas, under the coffee table, under your children’s study tables, kitchen racks; if it can get in there, it will clean out the place.

You might hit a snag with low-hanging curtains, the kind that extend all the way to the floor. Even in the scans, you can see that it can’t get to the edges of the room because the curtains are in the way (circled in orange). Best to keep those curtains wide open and then spot clean the corners when you have the time.

Unlike walls, curtains produce squiggly lines on the scan

Next up, something a bit more unorthodox. The sofa I have is a detachable one and while I can take out the sofa covers to wash, the other more permanent parts of the sofa requires vacuuming by hand. So… guess what I did?

Yup. I let the robot take care of that for me. Because the surface isn’t as flat and smooth as an actual floor, I made it go twice on the sofa to really get the job done.

The Mi Robot vacuums my sofa.

[NEW] #8 Are there any hiccups I should be worried about?

Well, there’s a 2nd generation bot so I think the answer to this question is a yes, there are hiccups with the Xiaomi Mi Robot. #nothingisperfect

If you carry it there, you need to carry it back.

I had a Roomba around ten years ago. That bot can find its way back to his charging base (dock) no matter where it is in the house. The Mi Robot can’t. If I carry it to any area of the house instead of using the app to ask it to go to that spot, it will not be able to find its way home.

When it goes home, it needs to charge.

I don’t have a dedicated power outlet for the charging base. I unplugged the charging base to power up my steam iron, then forgot to plug the Mi Robot charging base back on. I totally forgot about this when I let the robot do a run. Thirty-five minutes later it has done its job and it tried to get home.

Well, it got home but it kept on pushing against the charging base, and would not stop because it hasn’t started charging. It’s like a zombie that couldn’t climb walls but can’t stop walking headlong either. Once I plugged the charging base back on, it settled down, started charging, and went to sleep.

What this means is that if you forgot to keep the charging base switched on, the Mi Robot will probably push against the charging base until it runs out of battery life.

Squeakitty-squeak

Today, I did my first manual cleaning of the bristles and the filter, which is something you should do weekly to keep the vacuum in optimum condition. I pulled out maybe 2 strands of hair that was in between the bristles. They weren’t even tangled or anything. In other words, I could have skipped this.

The problem came after I put everything back in place. My Mi Robot started squeaking while on a cleaning mode, like how rubber soles on a sport shoe would squeak against a gym floor.

After trying a few things, I figured out that it was the safety frame that kept the bristles in place that was causing the squeaks.

The grey thingie that’s holding up the orange and black thingie.

I’m still searching for a way to fix this. It is an under-reported (but still reported) issue that only some users face. Maybe we didn’t put the frame back correctly? (Although it’s essentially just a putting the right pegs in the right hole kind of setup.) Maybe we unknowingly dislodged a safety mechanism that kept the frame from brushing against the floor it’s cleaning.

I’ll be back with answers. [29/01/2019 update:] So I tried taping the bottom of the frame so that the frame doesn’t drop that much, thereby minimising friction with the mosaic floor — but this save is temporary at best. The squeaks didn’t totally go away because of this attempted taping even though it eventually did go away because … aliens? I don’t know what happened. It disappeared just as mysteriously as it appeared.

The Dive

[29/01/2019 update:] Remember how I mentioned that the robot is smart enough to detect the edge of the stairs and thus will not try to jump off it?

Well, while it won’t jump off the top of your staircase, if you leave a bathroom door open, it will enter your bathroom and dive over that 1-2 inch height difference then continue(!) vacuuming the bottom of your bathroom floor.

I was lucky that we had put in an anti-slip rubber mat to prevent the children from slipping in the bathroom. So while it had a three-second lead, I was quick enough to rescue it before it got onto the actual slightly wet, bathroom floor. Phew!

Keep your bathroom doors closed, people!

Weak Notifications / Lack of Sleep Mode

I had my Mi Robot die on me twice. And I’m talking 0% battery power left. Lights out. Zip. Nadda. Zilch. The first time was when it had one of its cleaning runs interrupted by a floor mat. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it but it choked on the mat, again.

This time though, I didn’t hear its cry for help or notice its notification on my phone. So by the time I found it later that evening, it was literally dead.

The second time was when I let it do a cleaning run on the second floor while I ran out for errands. I totally forgot about it until it was near bed time. Again, it died while waiting for me to send it back “home”.

If anyone from Xiaomi’s research team is reading this, you need to give your robots a Sleep Mode to help them conserve their battery power. That, and tune up the aggressiveness when it comes to app notifications. Maybe send a notification in 10-15 minute intervals until the user returns an acknowledgement of sorts. Anything to help prevent the robot from dying on us.

What Remote Control?

The Mi Robot has a Remote Controls feature which looks like it could be fun. Based on the interface, I’m guessing that you can control the robot using buttons or a joystick but I never really got to try out the feature because the app refuses to let me play with it.

When I tap on the Remote Controls feature, I get this message: “Testing Network and Checking Firmware Version”.

Then I get this message: “Make sure both the vacuum and the phone are connected to the same network”, which it always is.

I tap on Got it every single time, and every single time, I get booted out to the menu page. So, I got no comments about this particular section. At least until I can get in to try it.

And that’s all the answers I have for you. If you have more questions, let me know and I will add them to this FAQ.

HDIM Reviews the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum

[New!] I’ve updated the review to include new observations, hiccups and surprises in my follow up post:HDIM Reviews Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum (FAQ)

I had a robot vacuum about ten years ago. It saved me so much time I didn’t mind the weekly surgery I had to perform on it to keep its internals clean. When I moved away, it didn’t come with. And that’s how we grew apart.

Fast forward to today, after a particularly busy period where I could barely find time to sleep, I did some research (aka asked other moms on Facebook) to enquire about the latest and worthiest of robot vacuum brands. Little did I know that Xiaomi had been making waves in the robot vacuum industry.

After a mom suggested I check Xiaomi out, I googled it and decided that this is worth looking into. A while later, I submitted my funding request via WhatsApp and voila, the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum became my first impulse buy of 2019. #theresmorewherethatcamefrom

Where To Buy The XiaoMi Mi Robot

The Internet.

I bought it on Lazada from the Official Xiao Mi store. It arrived via Lazada Express within 47 hours of my purchase. Yes, that’s a good delivery timeline judging how I don’t even live in the same city.

The device comes with a 1-year warranty, and will set you back a good RM1199. It’s also WiFi-enabled and you can control it with an app called Mi Home. We’ll look more into how this app makes this device quite interesting a little later on because first, we need to look at what a beauty this thing is.

Once you unbox it, you are greeted with this protective styrofoam and the user manual (in English!) in a card envelope that fits onto the styrofoam itself. Nice. The same instructions are also available from the app, some in video form. Double nice.

Fleeting but nice unboxing of the Xiaomi Mi Robot

The robot is encased in a thin strip of plastic and is accompanied by a power cable, a cleaning comb and a charging base. I can’t help but notice that they put some effort into giving you an unboxing experience, much like when you unbox a phone. I got over it pretty quickly. #whohasthetime

My Xiaomi Mi Robot has arrived!

Here it is at its charging base for its first charge. My unit comes pre-charged at 65% so I was making it work for my money within half an hour of receiving it.

Xiaomi Mi Robot charging at home base

Lift the lid and you will see an instruction leaflet atop the internal dustbin. The bin is easy enough to open and clear that I have entrusted this job to my 9 year old. (As for the manual cleaning, I’ll update this part after the first “service”.)

Busting the lid wide open on this little robot

Booting Up The Xiaomi Mi Robot

You’ll need to register an account with the Mi Home app in order to punch in the password for the robot to connect to your WiFi.

It took a while for it to connect to my home WiFi and I had to reset not only the robot vacuum two times (long press both the power and the home buttons for three seconds), but also my router once.

Connecting the robot to my WiFi router

Once it is connected however, a lot of the management comes from the app itself. This for me is a huge leap from that robot vacuum I got ten years ago (yeah, it deserves another post).

Scanning and Cleaning With the App

As you can see in the pictures above, it has like a little dome that protrudes from the top. That’s the scanner for the robot. And what it scans, it reproduces in the Mi Home app for you.

The yellow dot you see in the image is the robot vacuum, making its way around the perimeter of my kitchen. The white line is the path it took up to the point this screenshot was taken.

The Xiaomi Mi Robot scans and vacuums

Also shown above is the cleaning area it has worked on, how much battery life it still has, and how much time it has spent cleaning. From the app you can also choose for it to GO, DOCK, CLEAN (paused) and do ZONED CLEANUP.

The good thing about the app tracing the robot’s path is that you can see how many times it has vacuumed over the floor, which areas have been cleaned and which areas have not.

Cleanup Pathways of the Xiaomi Mi Robot

The “spray patterns” that you see indicate the edges of the walls in the other rooms within its view. The scans will flesh out better once the robot enters that particular room and can do a much proper scan.

So How Did It Do?

Con: It’s Loud

During the start up, it literally sounds like a jet engine. During cleanup, the sound is still pretty loud. Noise is an influential factor when it comes to regular, daily house cleaning. Ask your mom.

The good news is you can adjust the suction mode on this robot via the CLEAN UP MODE setting. There are four settings: QUIET, BALANCED (default), TURBO and FULL SPEED.

But I’m sorry to report that even with the QUIET setting, this is pretty loud in my book. If you have pets at home, this is going to freak them out a bit.

Con: Still Needs a Virtual Wall

You need to purchase a virtual wall separately for this model. A virtual wall is something you “put up” to prevent the robot from going places you don’t want it to go, say, off the top of a flight of stairs.

Alternatively, you can put up a few laundry baskets or toy storage boxes to block off paths during a cleanup.

Second alternative, you set up the robot to do zoned cleaning. It’s where you find a squarish spot on the map and send the robot to do targeted cleaning in that area.

There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the size of the area you choose. The only drawback is the robot doesn’t work as hard on targeted areas. It spends less time and does fewer rounds on it.

Zoned Cleaning

Pro: It’s A Really Good Vacuum

I only realised after I’ve made my purchase that this model doesn’t come with the mopping function (it’s an impulse buy, leave me alone). The good news is it does such a wonderful vacuuming job that I’d be happy to do manual mopping myself. #squeakycleanfloors

The problem with vacuuming by hand is that sometimes you miss certain spots and it is while you mop that you notice what’s left behind. It’s a simple annoyance that now can be absolutely removed. #miniyay

And it does a good job under the sofa or with furniture your hand vacuum can’t normally go into without you crawling on the floor like Smeagol.

PRO: It Has A Soft Touch And Good Sensors

This robot is aggressive with cleaning but not aggressive with your
furniture. If your bedroom door is half open when you let the robot go in to the cleanup, when you are back, the door is still going to be half opened at the same angle.

I’m impressed with this because it shows just how sensitive the robot’s sensor is. It does well cleaning around the legs of tables, and tall curtains that go all the way to the floor. I thought the robot would snag on the feet of the curtains but you’re a clever little robot, aren’t you? #yesyouare

Con: The App Needs Improvements

The app is powerful but not very intuitive. For instance, the app allows me to log in a type of room. I thought that this meant it could “remember” the layout of a room so next time if I choose for it to clean the living room, all I got to do is click on the living room?

No. Wishful thinking. Either that or I haven’t figured how to work that part out yet.

That said, the app gives me a higher level of control over what this little robot can do. And that is a post for another day.

Leave me questions on what you want to find out about the robot vacuum, and I’ll feature your question and the answer in my next post.

Why Mothers Cook

Before I got married, I only know how to make a couple of egg dishes, stir fry vegetables and tasteless, bland soup.

I love food but I don’t really like making it. You take forever to shop for ingredients, then another forever to prepare the ingredients. Sometimes the recipe works, sometimes it doesn’t. Everyone is a critic and the wash up afterwards is just so darn tiring. Can you blame me for preferring takeout?

Six months ago, my significant other got me a pressure cooker. The purchase opened up half a world of possibilities for me. I have the tool, but I still need the skills (pretty much how to properly use the darn thing). So I joined a Facebook Group there. That’s where I found a full world of possibilities waiting for me.

roasted-pork-belly
HDIM Makes Char Siu

Since Sliced Bread

It’s the best invention ever. The pressure cooker. Throw all your ingredients in and push a few buttons, and let it cut down the cooking time to about a third of the usual time. There is minimal clean up afterwards, results are almost always the same, flavourful, calming and fulfilling – pretty much the last three adjectives I would use to describe my cooking.

But everyone is happy with what I make. And that makes me happy.

I’ve even started baking. If you told me exactly a year ago that I would be making Japanese cheesecakes (yeah, the jiggly type) like a pro (ok, semi-pro), I’d call you crazy, and perhaps a few other names just to drive the point home.

marble-cheesecakes
HDIM Bakes Marble Cheesecake
zebra-cheesecakes
HDIM Bakes Marble Cheesecake

My mother and late grandmothers don’t bake. It’s just not something people in my bloodline do. We buy cakes. We don’t make them. And yet, here I am making jiggly cheesecakes and chocolate cheesecakes with baking paper and a baking tin.

cheesecake-in-pressure-cooker
HDIM Bakes Cheesecakes in the Pressure Cooker

Other times, I bake chicken instead. A good friend of mine told me that I would love baking. And she was right. Baked chicken is a different kind of goodness, and should be savoured by all.

yummy-baked-chicken-drumstick-recipe
HDIM Bakes Chicken Drumsticks

Apart from baking, I also use my pressure cooker to make delicious, nutritious soups, curries and even steamed seafood. And I don’t have to stand over the hot stove for hours to get them done. I just throw them in, and an hour later, take them all out and prep for dinner.

what-an-asian-Chinese-dinner-looks-like
HDIM Pressure Cooked Dinners
what-a-second-asian-Chinese-dinner-looks-like
HDIM Pressure Cooked Dinners

I’ve always known the feeling of coming home to a hot dinner. It is one of the ways I know I am loved – be it by my mom or my mom-in-law. And now I pour all of that effort back into the food I make for my kids, my significant other, my extended family and my guests.

My biggest fan is my daughter, who takes two bowls of rice whenever I cook. She spoils me with praises (which I ignore) and almost always takes a second helping of rice and the soups I make (which I appreciate).

I get it now. I get why moms cook. And I get why moms get upset when you don’t come home for dinner when you said you would. But I digress.

By controlling what I make for her (no fried foods, not too oily, minimising artificial seasoning, opting for healthier alternatives), I don’t have to worry whether she is eating right or if she lacks certain nutrients. I’ve got the minimum covered.

I let her indulge in junk food if her father is the one who bought it for her. She knows to not take soft drinks after any school or sports activities that make her sweat (only water) and when it comes to ice cream, it’s a weekly family activity. Children need childhood memories, after all.

So yeah, get a pressure cooker if you haven’t got one. It will change your life in the kitchen and at home.

Personal thoughts: I need to take better-looking photographs.