In the mood for…

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Once in a while, I get the desire to want to whip up a good meal for the family. Today is one of 20140309-220439.jpgthose days.

For a while, I had wanted to do some sliders using charcoal buns after seeing pictures of those burgers from a certain restaurant ( I can’t remember which one now!). It is not difficult if you know how to bake bread. It just takes time. Since I still have some water roux/ Tang zhong in the refrigerator, I thought I should just bake a batch of buns lest it goes to waste. And instead of baking only one type of flavour, I decided to bake different types using charcoal powder, matcha powder and cocoa powder with cranberries and mixed fruits.

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Using estimation, I divided up the dough into various portions and added about 1/2 tbsp each of the powder to the individual portion and continued kneading until the powder is more or less blended with the dough before giving them time for the first rise. After about 40 minutes, the air was punched out and I divided the dough into rounds of about 50g – 60g each, depending on the combination that I want.

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So, once again, the kitchen is well-stocked with good old bread. Once that is done, I decided to cook honey-baked mustard chicken thighs again. It’s an easy dish (anything roasted is good!) and yummy too. While the chicken was being baked, I parboiled the asparagus and spinach, sauteed some shittake mushrooms and added in cream and wine. Heavenly.

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The sauce from the roasted chicken cannot be wasted. It can be drizzled on the salad which adds a nice flavour to the meal. Oh, for the sliders, I just cut up the meat from the chicken thighs into smaller pieces and add the mushrooms, spinach and a cube of cheese.

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This is really a dish that can be prepared in a short while once you have the buns ready. Da man was happy, little Faith kept eating and I was satisfied.

Honey baked chicken thigh – Marinate with honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes or until done.

Ham and cheese bread (Tangzhong method)

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On the last day of 2013, I had the privilege of sharing how to bake yogurt bread with my friends of many years. It always gives me a very warm feeling when people are willing to learn from one another and when the product is being consumed. That is simply contentment, to me.

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Since I was making bread, I went on to make Ham and Cheese bread for Faith. Of all the kinds of bread that I have made, I still prefer those made with Tangzhong and brioche because the end-result is soft which makes chewing easier for Faith.

The following recipe is taken from Christine’s recipe and she has a wide and useful variety of recipes. Love her site. I’m going to record it here for future references.

For Tangzhong:
50gm bread flour
125ml water
125ml milk

To make tangzhong:

1. Mix flour in water & milk well without any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.

2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done. You get the tangzhong. Remove from heat.

3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature.  Just measure out the amount you need. The leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge up to a few days as long as it doesn’t turn grey. (Note: The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients. )

For the Ham and cheese bread:
Ingredients of bread:

350gm bread flour
55gm caster sugar
5gm/1tsp salt
56gm egg (equals to 1 large egg)
7gm milk powder (to increase fragrance, optional)
125ml milk
120gm tangzhong (use half of the tangzhong you make from above)
5 to 6gm/2 tsp instant yeast
30gm unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

Fillings:
Ham, to taste
cheese, to taste
( I do think the types of cheese and ham (and even milk) that are used will result in different taste in the bread).
1. Using a standmixer with dough hook, combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in the mixer bowl. Mix for about 10 seconds. Add in the wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong and knead until a dough is formed. At this stage, add the butter and continue to knead until the dough passes the window-pane test – stretch the dough. If it forms a thin “membrane”, it’s done.
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2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel or cling wrap. Let it proof till it’s doubled in size, about 40 – 60 minutes.
3. Transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into four equal portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Sprinkle slices of ham and cheese evenly as much as you like. Roll from the upper, shorter end down to the bottom and seal the bottom well.
5. Arrange the rolled-up dough in a greased or non-stick loaf tin. Leave it for the 2nd round of proofing, about 40 minutes.
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6. Brush whisked egg on surface. I sprinkled some dried parsley flakes on the surface too. Bake in a pre-heated 180C oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and tin. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Yogurt bread

All thanks to the little one, I have found another bread recipe that is both suitable and easy to bake. It’s also a bonus that they are really, really very soft!!!

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The other day, I was mentioning how Faith does not want to drink milk anymore to my Church’s cell group members and one of them, an early childhood educator, shared a recipe with me. It’s from her coursemate who always feeds them with bread and other goodies. So I popped over to the link and love the ingredients used – yogurt and milk! They are what Faith needs now!

To make the bread more substantial in terms of taste and nutrients, I have added 1/2 tablespoon of Chia seeds and 1/4 cup of raisins.

This is my version:

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250g bread flour
15g castor sugar
3g salt
3g yeast

(B)
100g flavoured yogurt ( I used Yoplait’s yogurt @ room temperature)
60g fresh milk (at room temperature)
25g egg (about half an egg)

(C)
30g butter at room temperature

(D)
1/2 tbsp Chia seeds
1/4 cup raisins

1. Place ingredients in (A) into the standmixer and using a dough hook, mix them for about 10 seconds.

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2. Add in ingredients in (B) and mix, on medium speed, until a dough is formed.

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3. While continuing to mix, add in (C) and mix on high for about 5 minutes. Towards the end of the mixing, add (D). When the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl anymore and has passed the window pane test, it is ready.

4. Turn out the dough and give it a final few kneads, shape it into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or cling-wrap and leave it to proof in a warm place till double its size (about 1 hour).

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5. When proofing is completed, punch down the bread dough to release the air.

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6. Divide the dough into small portions of about 70g. Shape each portion into a smooth ball and placed them into a loaf pan.

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7. Cover the loaf pan with a cling wrap and allow the dough to go for second proofing until double its size again.

8. Egg wash the top of the buns.

9. Bake in preheated oven at 170-180C for 20 minutes until the top turns golden brown.
10. Remove bread from loaf pan to cool completely.

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I suspect I will be using this basic dough for other flavours! Yay!

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And this is Faith, enjoying {shredding} the yogurt bread.

‘Watermelon’ raisin bread

This week, the hubs and I finally decided that enough is enough and sleep-training has to be administered to little Faith. For months, we did not have quality sleep because Faith woke up a few times in the night and needed us to soothe her back to sleep. Initially, we thought we had it easy since she could sleep through the night when she was about 3 months old but that changed when she experienced teething.

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So, our sleep-training started on Monday. It proved easier for me when the hubs took over. I was simply too soft-hearted and felt terrible having to hear her cry so badly. It’s heart-wrenching. Yesterday, the crying was bad and to distract myself by surfing the Internet for baking recipes. It was then that I stumbled upon the video on Watermelon lookalike raisin bread and logged it into my mind that I would bake the following day. Faith loves bread and I thought this should turn out all right as compared to my previous failed panda bread attempt.

I didn’t really follow how it was done in the video. I guess in bread making, there are some fundamentals that we will all adhere to but there are certainly different ways to doing it. Here’s mine (I’m using the Tang Zhong/ water roux since I want a very light version for my bread. You can also use the standard bread dough for this):

Recipe for the water dough “water roux”:
Cook 250g water with 50g bread flour at medium low heat. Keep stirring until it becomes thickened and there’re no lumps left. If you’ve a candy thermometer, measure it until the temperature turn to 65C then turn off the heat. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a cling wrap to avoid skin forming. The amount of water dough here would be more than what a recipe requires. You could store it in the fridge for about 2 days.
Recipe for the bread (approximately 550g for the dough):
(A) 195g bread flour20131129-060341.jpg
90g plain flour
12g milk powder
30g caster sugar
6g salt
6g yeast
60g beaten eggs
65g room temperature water
75g water roux (cooled & at room temperature)
(B) 45g unsalted butter
(C) 3/4 cup raisins
(D) Red and green food colouring (I used Wilton’s) or use Matcha powder for green
1. Put ingredients (A) and knead using the dough hook until it becomes dough-like and then add in the unsalted butter (B). Continue kneading for about 15 minutes at medium speed until the dough becomes elastic and does not stick to the side of the mixing bowl. You should hear the ‘flap, flap’ sound. 🙂
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2. Divide the  dough into 3 portions in this proportions – 150g (neutral colour), 150g (green) and the remaining for red. Add in the food colours and knead till it has reached the desired colours. Add in the raisins for the red dough and mix till they are evenly incorporated. Let them proof for 40 minutes in clean bowls covered with cling wrap.
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3. Punch down the dough to release the air. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
4. For the red dough, roll it into a log the length of your baking tin. Flatten the neutral-coloured dough and make sure it is big enough to wrap the red dough. You can use a rolling pin to do so. For me, I just use my palm and flatten like the roti prata man. Do the same for the green dough and wrap. Do make sure you seal the seams well, if not, they will open when they go into the oven. The following are the steps.
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5. Place the completed dough in the baking tin (9″ x 5″) [mine is slightly smaller] and proof for 40 minutes. 15 minutes before it is due for baking, switch on the oven to a temperature of 180C.
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6. Egg wash the top of the dough for 15 – 20 minutes. The loaf of bread is done when you hear a hollow sound as you tap the top of the bread. Unmould the loaf and let cool completely on a cooling rack before you cut it into slices.
Note: I would use more matcha powder the next time for green. I suspect it will make a nice combination with raisins. 😉 There’s so much room for improvement. Try it and let me know how it turns out!
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Panda Bread: A failed attempt

Just yesterday, Ruth from the mommy cafe posted a picture of the panda bread on FB and asked if anyone could bake it. It got me excited because I have the recipe bookmarked but never got to baking it. So, I thought I should get down to doing it and perhaps bless her kid with it. A search on the internet resulted in a Japanese website but thankfully there are bloggers who have translated it into English.

pandabread[source]

I have consolidated the recipe via two sources: one from here and the other one from a blogger who has baked bread as a project. How cool!

I must warn you that this is a failed attempt, a result of poor technique. The next time I attempt this again, I will not be using the normal loaf pan but the pullman loaf tin.

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Adapted from Taro Taro
Ingredients: Makes a 9 x 5 inch bread

230g bread flour
70g cake flour
30g sugar
90g milk + 1 yolk (30g) = 210g
4.5g salt
20g unsalted butter
4g yeast
8g green tea powder dissolved in 10g boiling hot water
8g cocoa powder dissolved in 8g boiling water

Method:
1. Heat up milk and yolk to temperature of 38C or warm to the touch.20130704-133628.jpg

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the milk and egg. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until a rough dough forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter. Increase the speed to medium-low, and knead for 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, and should be smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little extra flour or water during the kneading process, if necessary to achieve the proper consistency. Do the window-pane test.

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3. Divide dough (about 560g) into 3 parts: 75g for the chocolate, 210g plain and the rest of the dough which is less than 280g for the green tea.

4. Add chocolate to the 75g dough and knead till the colour is even. Add green tea mixture to the 280g dough and knead till colour is even. (I did this step manually).

5. Proof all 3 pieces of doughs on separate greased plates covered loosely with oiled cling wrap for 30 – 40 minutes.

6. Punch air out of dough and proof for another 20 – 30 minutes.

7. Use 90g plain dough for the face and 2 pieces of 27g chocolate dough for the eyes.

8. Fill the hollow of the eyes with 30g plain dough.

9. Roll remaining plain dough over the patterned dough.

10. Divide the remaining chocolate dough into 2 pieces (17.5g each) for the ears.

11. Use 70g of the green tea dough to fill up the hollow between the ears.

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12. Wrap the rest of the green tea dough all around the patterned dough.

13. Place dough into a well-greased loaf pan and cover it with a lid and proof for 50 – 60 minutes.

14. Bake at 200C for 25 – 30 minutes.

Out from the oven and you know it has failed.

Out from the oven and you know it has failed.

Mine looks more like a monster.

Mine looks more like a monster.

Reflective Friday

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‘Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.’

It’s Good Friday and I thought it is apt to reflect on the love of the Lord that drove Him to the cross. In our busyness too, we tend to take Him for granted and complain about our lives.

Allow me to list five things/people that I am thankful for:
#1. The fact that I am forgiven and could enter into a relationship with God.
#2. My parents for bringing us up and helping us in every way that they can.
#3. My husband for loving me the way I am.
#4. A happy and healthy girl.
#5. Living in a country that is safe and peaceful.

Baking the hot cross buns today. These sweet buns are nicely spiced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, and are filled with currants (raisins) and candied fruit. What makes them instantly recognizable is that the tops of the buns are marked with a ‘cross’ which symbolically represents the Cross of Christ and the Crucifixion.

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Recipe after the jump.

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Green tea bread with cranberries

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I love everything about green tea. The colour and smell give a calming effect and it is healthy too! Over the week, I had green tea soba for two meals and green tea drink to complement the meal. And I reckon it doesn’t hurt to have green tea bread for breakfast too!

This recipe yields about 10 buns. I believe it is possible to halve the recipe if you want to have fewer portions. The original recipe uses wolfberries but I have substitute with cranberries instead.

[Adapted from Bread Code by Wendy Kor]

Ingredient A
550g bread flour
50g cake flour
8g instant yeast
20g milk powder
30g sugar
10g salt
1 egg (about 50g)
290g warm-to-the-touch water

Ingredient B
40g unsalted butter

Ingredient C
10g green tea powder
30g cranberries

1. Mix ingredients A and blend (using dough hook) at slow speed for 1 minute, then blend at medium speed for 5 minutes until bread dough is course. Add in ingredient B and continue blending until smooth and shiny. Perform window pane test to check.

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Do not place salt and yeast together. 
There will be bubbles with yeast interacts with warm water. 

IMG_2831Window pane test. It does not tear easily. 

2. Divide bread dough into 2 portions. I yield about 1018g in all. Retain original taste for 1 portion. For the other portion, add green tea powder and knead evenly, then add cranberries and knead evenly.

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3. Place in oiled container and cover with cling wrap. Leaven for 40 minutes until bread dough size doubles. Divide bread dough of both flavours into portions of 50g each. Roll into balls and wrap green tea flavour with original flavour. Place in baking tray and leaven for 20 minutes, then make horizontal cuts (scores) on surface with a knife. Continue to leaven for 20 minutes.

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4. Place in a pre-heated oven and bake at 200C for 15 minutes.

11.30am onwards…

I have been baking and cooking. And then realised I still have not enough time to prepare food for the small group.

Green tea financiers

 Burger buns which look so much like pong pia.

Preparing Brioche dough for the next day

Mantra for the day: Bake/cook, wash and then dry.

Fried radish cake for small group. Radish cake didn’t turn out well; it needs more time in the steamer and the portion is not enough! Nonetheless, have improved.

Not enough time! The hubs to help! Green Pea Fritters to add to the inadequate amount of fried radish cake. But, it’s not really a popular dish. =(

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Curry and roll

Time flies. August celebrates our one-year of being in Boston. That also means that I have been working in the kitchen for the same period of time. No longer am I frustrated with certain outcomes of my culinary adventures but am embracing the uncertainties and amazing discoveries along the way.

But, to be honest, there is perhaps one cuisine that I’m still doubtful of even though it is commonly found in where I live. It is the Indian cuisine, one which is unimaginable without spices. And it is precisely the spices that deter me from attempting the recipes since the complex, multilayered flavours associated with the best Indian food are achieved through careful cooking and the artful combination of usually small amounts of several different spices.

Thankfully, though the spices are varied, you can be sure that the same basic ones are used. In the Indian pantry, the following spices can more often be found and it is advisable to buy whole spices since they can keep longer.

Whole spices:
Dried red Kashmiri chillies | Black (or brown) mustard seeds | Cumin seeds| Fenugreek seeds | Coriander seeds | Cinnamon sticks | Green cardamoms | Cloves | Black peppercorns | Whole nutmeg | Fennel seeds | White poppy seeds | Saffron strands

Ground spices:
Asafortida | Chilli powder | Tumeric

Of the above, how many are you familiar with? I don’t usually buy whole spices, preferring ground ones and I’m thankful to have found this recipe – Kari Ayam (Malaysian Curry Chicken) which uses ground spices! Obviously, you can try to replace whole spices with ground ones but I’m just too lazy to do the conversion. =p

To complete this dish, I’ve decided to bake some old-fashioned dinner rolls (Source: The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet)

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Joanne Chang’s Sticky Sticky Buns

Ta da! Another Brioche today! And it’s the famous Joanne Chang’s Sticky Sticky Buns! You may ask, “What about yesterday’s loaf of bread?” I’m pleased to inform you that by noon, we were down by one slice.

Yes, we are really bread lovers. I used to worship bread many years ago until I realised too much of it makes me accumulate fats (at least in my case) and since then I had tried to watch my bread intake. However, in recent times, I found myself falling in love with it again, fueled by the ability to bake my own.

Anyway, the freezer had the other 1/2 batch of brioche and after gym, went down to buy a packet of brown sugar before I headed home to bake them. I love the gym – Bodyscrapes Fitness – which cost me $25 for 25 passes. Not bad a deal, isn’t it? I like it that it was not overcrowded, that the machines are new and clean.

Anyway, I was excited to come back to bake my inaugural Sticky Sticky Buns. I hope it to be a success and read the recipes a few times. It was relatively easy. So here goes:

Firstly, prepare the goo. 
170g unsalted butter
330g packed light brown sugar
115g honey
80g heavy cream
80g water
1/4 tsp kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.

This should make about 2 cups of goo (sticky stuff) but I used half the portion and save the other half in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 2 weeks. Well, if you feel lavish about this sweet stuff, you could use it all. I, would rather halve it for the sake of the waistline. =p

You will also need:
1/2 batch of basic Brioche dough
55g packed light brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
100g pecan halves, toasted and chopped

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and half of the pecans.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle 16 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch think. It’s rather easy to work with as it has been chilled. Position the rectangle so that the short side is facing you. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough.

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Starting from the short side furthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. And you need to do so bravely and confidently so that the roll will be tight and you will end up with a nice round spiral. Even off the ends by trimming about 1/4 inch from either side.

Use a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide.

Pour the goo (I used half the amount) into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Place the buns , cut side down, and evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about about 2 hours or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft and the buns are touching.

Meanwhile, go for a run and they should look like this when you are back.

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Use your sense of smell too! Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter and spoon any extra goo ( I don’t have) and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. It’s true; it’s warm and soft and really delicious. They can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 325F oven for 6 to 8 minutes before serving. Which also explains why we need to finish the buns by tomorrow!

Brioche Loaf

Dear Brioche
I truly do love you.  From the moment I place you inside the oven, you give me nothing but pleasure. Minutes into the furnace, you exude an aroma that only a good loaf of bread can give and so fills my whole apartment. I’m not surprised that the neighbours wonder where it comes from but I’m sure if they follow their sense of smell, they would find the source.

I must admit that in the beginning I find you a little troublesome and difficult to fathom. You consume so much butter and eggs and you caused my beloved standmixer to heat up. The many minutes of kneading also means the same amount of time I stood to watch you transform from a shaggy lump to a smooth and shiny dough. Holding you in my palms is a great delight though. Knowing that you are ready to rest in the air-con is a great comfort for me.

And I couldn’t resist sinking my teeth into you. I couldn’t wait for you to cool in the rack. I’m sorry. Just that the hubs and I had a run prior to your sweating it out in the oven and both of us were hungry as ravenous wolves. I had to slice you. While doing so, it gave me great delight to know that your crust is crispy and yet you are incredibly soft inside. You are awesome, do you know that?

The best part is, you are easy to bake once you came out from the refrigerator. I just need to press you into a 9-inch square and roll you from the edge further from me. Once that was done, all you need is to be placed seam-side down into a well-buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and rest for another 2-3 hours or until you nearly doubled in size.

To make you more shiny, all you need is a gentle brush of a beaten egg on the top and in you go into the preheated 350F oven. And you are good and obedient. You stay in the oven for about 35 minutes before you tell me you are ready! Good o’ loaf. I’m sorry though that I turned you out so soon into the cooling rack. I should have let you cool in the pan  on the wire rack for 30 minutes before turning you out of the pan and continue to cool. My fault, really. But I had a great meal because of you. Thank you so much. I love you.

Pain Aux Raisins

Using the other half batch of brioche dough, I went on to bake Pain Aux Raisins for breakfast tomorrow. It’s really convenient to have Brioche dough in the fridge as standby but the problem is, as with all other types of bread dough, you need to let it proof for the second time which takes time. I would much prefer to have freshly-baked bread/pastries for breakfast but it’s a bit impossible unless I have brekky at 11am?

Nonetheless, the smell of bread in the oven is the most inviting and satisfying moment for me; it just makes me happy! Oh! By the way, the pastries taste real good just by heating it up in a 300F oven for 5 minutes. I think I’ve nailed this!

 

Before and after baking

Recipe from Joanne Chang’s Flour
1/2 recipe Basic Brioche dough
1 recipe Pastry Cream (same link as above)
1 cup (160g) raisins (or golden raisins)

Glaze
1  cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle 16 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Position the rectangle so that the long side is facing you. Spread the pastry cream evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the raisins evenly over the cream. Starting from the long side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll it tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Even off the ends by trimming about 1/4 inch from either side.

3. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 to 10 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inch wide.

4. Space the pieces, cut-side down, evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Cover the pastries lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft.

5. Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 F.

6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastries are golden brown on the edges of the spiral and pale brown in the centre. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes.

7. To make the glaze: While the pastries are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, 2 tbsp of the water and vanilla until smooth. Add more water as needed to thin the glaze enough to make it spreadable. The glaze can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

8. Generously brush the tops of the still-warm pastries with the glaze.

9. The pastries are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 300F oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Brioche Au Chocolat

The brioche dough was so much easier to work with after proofing it in the refrigerator. As I rolled it out, I couldn’t help but be marveled and relieved at the same time at how smooth-going it was as compared to the initial dough I removed from the stand mixer bowl yesterday.

1/2 recipe of Basic Brioche dough
1 recipe Pastry Cream
114g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 egg

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 20 by 10 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Position the rectangle so that the long side is facing you. Spread the pastry cream evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the bottom half (a 20-by-5-inch section) of the rectangle. Fold the top half of the rectangle completely over the bottom half, then press down gently so the halves are smooshed together.

  

3. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the filled dough into 10 pieces, each about 2 inches wide; each piece will be about 2 by 5 inches.

4. Carefully transfer the brioche to the prepared baking sheet. Cover the pastries lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft.

5. Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 350F.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the egg until blended. Gently brush the tops of the pastries with the beaten egg.

7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. The pastries are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 300F oven for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Brioche (at last)

I decided to wait no more but to start working on my tutorial or notes rather, on Brioche (bree-OHSH). I had my virgin attempt using Francois Payard‘s recipe from his book Chocolate Epiphany and loved the loaf of rich, tender bread. It was decided then that I should bake Brioche again and create different baked goods using the master recipe.

Brioche is made from a rich dough and it’s so called because of its high fat content which comprises a generous amount of eggs and butter. This high ratio of fat makes this dough difficult to work with, but the flavour is well worth the effort. Like all yeast breads, it begins with water, yeast, flour and salt.

The general procedure for mixing brioche dough:

1. Have all ingredients at room temperature.

2. Hydrate the yeast, then combine it with the flour, salt, sugar and eggs. Mix until a soft dough or sponge is formed. This step gives the fermentation a head start. which in turn gives the finished bread a more pronounced flavour.

3. Knead the dough on medium speed for 15 to 20 minutes until it is smooth and shiny.

4. Add the butter in small increments, kneading until the butter is incorporated before adding more. Continue this process until all of the butter has been absorbed into the dough, approximately 8 to 15 minutes.

5. Cover the dough and ferment at room temperature until doubled. This second fermentation is usually referred to as rising or doubling. The longer this process takes, the more flavour develops in the dough.

6. Punch down the dough, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Punching, which is actually a brief knead (not literally punch!) or fold, deflate the dough, expelling carbon dioxide that has built up and letting fresh oxygen in to feed the yeast, prolonging the fermentation. The dough then doubles again, usually in the refrigerator.

7. Divide and mold the chilled brioche dough into desired shapes. Brush with egg wash or cover lightly and proof until doubled in volume. Do not proof brioche in a very warm place; the butter may melt out of the dough before proofing is complete. Professional bakers use a proof box, in which the heat and humidity can be controlled. At home, we can create a similar environment by simply covering the loaf with oiled plastic wrap.

8. Bake in a moderate oven until the crust is deep golden brown. Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes to prevent the loaves from collapsing, then remove the bread from the pans and finish cooling on racks.

Source: The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard & On Baking: A textbook of baking and pastry fundamentals by Sarah R. Labensky, Priscilla Martel and Eddy Van Damme.

For this basic brioche, I’m using Chef Joanne Chang’s recipe from Flour since I’ll be baking other brioche treats from the same cookbook. =)

Basic Brioche (Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook)

315g unbleached all-purpose flour
340g bread flour
3 1/ 4 tsp active dry yeast
82g sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
120g cold water
5 eggs
310g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

2. On low speed (2), add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

3. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium, and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft and somewhat shiny. Then turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute (the mixer’s motor gets hot!). You should hear the sough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl.

4. Place the sough on a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

At the same time, I prepared the pastry cream too so that the next day, I could proceed to making Brioche Au Chocolat. Using the recipe from her cookbook again…

Pastry cream

300g milk
100g sugar
30g cake flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

What do you do with the egg whites then? Guess what? Macarons!

1. In a saucepan, scald the milk over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the milk is not boiling). While the milk is heating, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and salt. (Mixing the flour with the sugar will prevent the flour from clumping when you add it to the egg yolks). In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. The mixture will be thick and pasty.

2. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add it to the egg-flour mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.

3. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small heat-proof bowl. Stir in the vanilla, then cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold, or up to 3 days.

Let’s continue with it tomorrow!

Burger KING

This burger was christened Burger King (I know it’s hardly original) after the hubs took a glance at the scale of the burger buns that came out of the oven. It’s larger than the normal-sized ones and he suggested that I can compete with those at Eagles Deli & Restaurant.

Obviously, I’m in no desire and capacity to compete but am ever eager to create my own burger. Summer calls for all sorts of burgers since it’s the season to grill and barbecue (are they the same?) and so, let me attempt my very first (almost) home-made burger!

Thankfully, ‘The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: A year in the life of a restaurant‘ was ready to be loaned and the following recipes came in handy!

House-made buns (Makes about 7 big buns/ 20 small ones)

1 cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for coating the bowl
3 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, + extra for dusting
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Put the milk in a small suacepan and warm it over very low heat until lukewarm.  Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, stir, and set it aside for 5 minutes to activate (yeast is most active btw 90-100F).

Meanwhile, butter a large bowl and set it aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the yeast mixture with half the flour on low speed. Then, over a 1-minute period, add the remaining flour along with the sugar, salt, egg and butter. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Then turn the speed to high and mix for 2 minutes more. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, and set it aside in a warm area for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide it into 7 equal pieces (use weighing scale!) and arrange them in a row on the surface. Keeping the other portions covered with a kitchen towel so they won’t dry out, roll each piece into a ball. Leave them, covered on the surface for another 10 minutes to relax the gluten. Then, using a rolling pin, flatten the balls into rounds that are 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. Place the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, put the baking sheet inside a large plastic bag, and tie the open end closed. Place the pan in a warm area of the kitchen and let the buns rise until they have doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.

( I would divide the dough into 18-20 pieces because the recipe yields really BIG buns).

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

Remove the sheet pan from the bag, brush each bun with water and then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Slice in half and serve.

  

Next is the homemade mayonnaise. The following recipe yields 1 cup and will keep up to 3 days under refrigeration.

2 egg yolks
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the egg yolks with a few drops of lemon juice and the mustard in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Start to form a stable emulsion by adding a little of the oil, a few drops at a time, while whisking vigorously. Continue adding the oil in a thin stream-you want to do this slowly to ensure that the oil is fully emulsified into the yolks from the get-go. Once you’ve incorporated about 1 cup of the oil (the mixture should be very thick at this point), add 1 tbsp water and a few more drops of lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper, and then continue to slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup oil while whisking vigorously.  Transfer the mayonnaise to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Top the bun with cheese, lettuce and tomato slices & cilantro and you are good to go!

Bread

 Salt: The mineral that slows down the multiplication of yeast cells, regulates the fermentation process, and adds flavour to the loaf.

Wheat: The only cereal containing gluten, an elastic complex of starch and proteins that can retain carbon dioxide gas and stretch under pressure to form a structured loaf.

Water: The vital liquid that transforms starchy, powdery wheat into a glutinous framework that stretches during fermentation and coagulates during baking to form a loaf.

Yeast: A fungus that consumes sugars in flour and produces the carbon dioxide gas that makes bread rise: the agent of fermentation for a loaf.

Basic white bread

Another happy moment for a successful attempt at baking bread. This simple white is soft and flavourful. My kitchen still smells of the bread although the activity had stopped last night. Nice!

Recipe
(A) 220g bread flour
3g yeast
130g water (preferably a little warm to the touch)
(B) 60g bread flour
15g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10g milk powder
40g water
(C) 15g unsalted butter

1. Knead ingredients (A) together until it’s well combine and become a dough ball. Let it proof in a clean bowl cover with cling wrap for 90 minutes at room temperature.
2. Mix in the ingredients (B) to (A) and knead until a smooth dough then add butter.
3. Continue to knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. Proof for 60 minutes.
4. Punch down the dough and roll out the dough into a longish shape and roll up like a swiss roll. Place the dough in a grease standard loaf pan and cover with a (damp) cloth. Proof for 50 – 60 minutes until the dough fill up 90% of the loaf pan. 
5. Bake at 200’C/ 395F for 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and cool on a wire rack. Let it cool completely before slicing. 

Coffee buns

With what I have left with the water roux yesterday, I made coffee buns. Just a little problem – the dough refused to rise in the 40 minutes given in the recipe. Sigh, I just let it take its own sweet time while we went out for lunch and grocery. Even after we came back, the dough has not doubled in size. =(

But they turned out fine still. =)

Breakfast for tomorrow.

Cheese Bread

This is another bread item from the many selections in http://gracekitchencorner.blogspot.com/. This is made with Tang Zhong and this time, I made sure it is cooled and at room temperature before I start the baking process. There is a slight variation to the one in the blog; I added a slice of kraft cheese to each ball of dough and top it up with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese and dried parsley flakes on top.

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Chocolate Marble Bread

New England’s weather is so unpredictable. One moment, it’s searingly hot and the other, it’s pouring buckets. And when we thought it a rainy day this first day of the week, the clouds gradually disappeared.

We took no chance at all. It’s jogging time! Before that, today’s bake is Chocolate Marble Bread from gracekitchencorner.blogspot.com. I started with the cheese mixture by melting a slice of cheese kraft with 70g of milk in a pan at low heat. When the cheese has completely melted, add 20g of bread flour and keep stirring until it become a dough. Let the dough cool down on a plate and cling wrap it then tuck it into the fridge for about one hour.

So meanwhile, da man and I went for a short jog around the reservoir and I came back hungry! The cheese mixture was almost ready and it’s also time to prepare lunch!

To continue with the bread, knead 260g bread flour, 40g sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 4g yeast and 130g water with the cheese mixture until the dough is smooth. Let the standmixer do the kneading and prepare lunch in the meantime! When the dough is ready, add 20g of unsalted butter (cut into small sizes) and then continue kneading.

Once ready, weigh 200g of out of the dough for the plain dough and the rest for cocoa dough. For the first 200g of the dough, mix in 25g of chocolate chips and knead until it is smooth. I didn’t have chocolate chips and replaced with dark chocolate chunks.

Next, mix 2 tbsp of cocoa powder with 2 tbsp of water and then knead the rest of the dough with it until it becomes a chocolate dough. Shape it into a smooth dough and let both doughs proof for 80 minutes.

I took more than 80 minutes because I decided that the dough can proof for a longer time while we go to the library for some books. More proofing time means more flavour!

Roll out the cocoa dough into 20cm square in shape and 16cm for the plain dough. Place the plain dough on top of the cocoa dough. Roll it up and place it into a greased loaf pan. Let it proof for about 60 minutes till the dough fill up to 90% of the loaf pan.

Bake in a 190’C/ 375F preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

Matcha Red Bean Buns

Something healthy and Japanese? Why not try matcha red bean buns? My buns came out real soft after cooling! Love it! They have very strong taste of matcha but the overall taste is not sweet. I did my own red bean paste and was careful not to add too much sugar during the process. I wonder if I should add more sugar to the dough so as to achieve a sweeter version of the buns. Room for improvement.
Anyway, ohayo gozaimasu!

Hot Cross Buns

21 April, 8pm | It’s quite coincidental. I had just finished reading a rather reflective book and wanted to take a break from that type of genre. Glancing at my book shelf, I have about 10 more books to read and decided that I could do a romance novel. Once I started reading the first few pages, I was hooked and found myself slumped into the armchair in front of the mini library.

Pages upon pages, the true life story of this wonderful lady, Ree Drummond unfolded before my eyes. It’s so fairytale-like and oh, a cowboy, a saviour always there for her, to shield her from all harm. He’s always there, giving his assuring smile and a gentleman in all aspects. How we ladies long for such a man!

Between my eye-breaks, I scrambled to the laptop and casually went to her website. Hey, she has baked Hot Cross Buns! How apt! It’s Holy Week after all and I wanted to bake them!

22 April, 6am | The following day, Good Friday morning, I was halfway through her story and in between breaks, began my baking. I love how she showed the steps through the beautiful photos and her write-up. My recent purchase of a bigger saucepan has made life easier for me and I breezed through the whole process, yearning to go back to the book once the initial part of the baking was done. By the time, the dough was ready to be placed in the oven, I had completed the story.

Ah! It makes me think of the hubs! Well, my hubs’ no cowboy, ain’t any muscleman, rides no horses, drives no car but he’s a gentleman through and through. Highly intellectual, yet humble in all his ways and always there for me when I need him. He is a gift from my truest Saviour. He, I mean my Lord, knows best and granted my heart’s desire.

These Hot Cross Buns meant something to me actually. There is cinnamon sugar and raisins in it. I am like the bun filled with dirt. Some of them are big while others in specks but nonetheless still blemishes in a perfect body of a dough. But I’m accepted because God sees the Christ in me, symbolised by the cross on my body. And it is done. I’m a complete being, cherished and loved by God Almighty. I’m pure and blameless because of the Christ in me.

Thank You for dying on the cross for me us.

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Wet Tuesday

My diary read ‘to run 3.21km today’ in a bid to kick start a training programme under Nikeplus. And then it rained. Not only did it rain, I had my monthly ordeal this very day.

So, I stayed home on this gray, cloudy, foggy day. Looking at the bright side of things, to be able to stay at home and concentrate on my hobby is a luxury. So let’s do all things French. I’m baking Broiche and having Almond basa meuniere, an adaptation from Dorie Greenspan’s Almond flounder meuniere.

It’s not my first time baking Broiche. The first time I baked that was last week and the turnout was a pleasant surprise. It’s incredibly soft and flavourful. I made them into buns with chocolate chunks in each of them and today, I decided to go for the loaf version, using the same recipe by Francois Payard from his book Chocolate Epiphany.

I must say that it is not an easy dough to deal with. It is unlike the other bread dough which I’ve encountered. It failed the windowpane test and after mixing it with butter, it was soft and sticky, just like some cake batter. It’s at this stage when I doubt the dough. Would it work? Am I doing things correctly?

If you’re not in a rush, you could allow the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. For me, I did the bare minimal. =p The dough was still sticky after it has proofed twice. I guess I persisted because I wanted to see the turnout.

The bread turns out well, I guess. I can’t wait for breakfast!

Go on and try baking broiche. =)

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Twisted Cheese Bread

For two mornings, I have been saved by Sarah who has just returned from her trip to Italy and presented us with a loaf of bread from a popular bakery. The queue was long so she said and it was a random thought to buy a loaf for us. How sweet of her to remember us!
Okay, I should have taken a picture of it when it was still intact but I was too tempted to have it and finished half of the loaf before remembering to do so! Argh! The sweet bread was soft with a cake-like texture and filled with some fruits and topped with halved almonds and white rice chocolate (me think). It’s good on its own!
And so today, I had to bake something. It’s this cheese bread that I go for since I just bought a box of cream cheese. How timely!

Sweet Buns

Bread is running low again! Or should I say…no more bread!

I came home after a wonderful meeting up with 3 other wonderful ladies, to the realisation that the hubs had finished the Focaccia Sandwich and that we had nothing for breakfast the next day. Of course, the same website came to the rescue!

The next type of bread to bake is Sweet Buns!

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