Monday, January 30, 2012

Cherry-Vanilla Tea Cake with Vanilla Sugar

I love cherry and vanilla and was deeply attracted to this cake when I saw this recipe in the book, Bon Appetit by Barbara Fairchild. Thus, I've suggested baking this cake with my two baking buddies, Lena, from Frozen wings and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours for our 17th bake-along.

Apart from just baking according to this recipe, I've also tried baking this cake in a form of cherry vanilla cupcakes with a slight twist. I've created a glossy version of cherry vanilla cupcakes using this similar cake mix but without adding any cherries inside. Instead, I've made a cherry sauce with the fresh cherries and used the sauce to create a glossy topping on these cupcakes. I reckon that both cake and cupcakes are fantastic, the basic cake mix is very moist and they are all very delicious to eat. 

For our next bake-along, we are baking red velvet cupcakes which is to be posted on 13 Feb 2012. Please join us... just bake your favourite red velvet cupcakes and link your post with ours on 3 Feb 2012 or within the next 5 days.

cherry vanilla tea cake vanilla sugar
Watching vanilla sugar melting on both my cherry cake and cupcakes...
cherry vanilla cupcake
A closer look of the glossy cherry sauce...
cherry vanilla tea cake
Look how moist this cake! All are so yummy!
Here's the recipe from Bon Appetit website or the book, Bon Appetit by Barbara Fairchild
(with my modifications and notes in blue)


Photobucket

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (replaced by baking powder)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (I didn't add this)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 cup canned pitted sweet cherries, halved, drained

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 
2 tbsp powdered sugar
(replaced by 2 tbsp store-bought vanilla sugar from a Lygon spice shop plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour 10-inch springform pan. 

Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla extract. Transfer 2 tbsp dry ingredients to small bowl. On low speed, beat half of remaining dry ingredients into butter mixture, then mix in sour cream and lemon peel. Beat in remaining half of dry ingredients. Mix cherries into reserved 2 tbsp dry ingredients; fold cherries into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan; smooth top with spoon. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into small bowl. Mix in 1 tbsp sugar, rubbing with fingertips to distribute seeds. Add powdered sugar and rub again.

Sift vanilla sugar over hot cake and cool. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake; remove pan sides. Do ahead can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.


Note: Using half of the recipe, I've baked a 14cm round cake at 160°C fan forced for 30 min and use the excess batter to bake 4 extra cupcakes.

This is how I bake my cherry cupcakes:

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My cherry sauce (for 4 cupcakes):

8-10 pitted medium sized fresh cherries
1/2 tsp cornflour, well-mixed in 1/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Combine all except lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook in low-medium heat until the sauce is slightly thickened. Use the sauce when it is completely cooled.

Distribute the excess cake batter evenly into the cupcakes cases. Bake the cupcakes at 160°C fan forced for the initial 10-15 min to semi-bake the batter. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Distribute the cherry sauce evenly over the cupcakes and return the cupcakes to bake for another 8-10 min until the surface is slightly glossy.

Sift vanilla sugar over hot cake and cool.Transfer cupcakes to rack and allow to cool completely.

Last but not least, I would like to thank a little helper for this bake...that's my cherry chomper. Thanks for chomping and pitting the cherries. LOL.

My Cherry Chomper
Happy Baking.

Here are our baking friends that have joined us for this bake-along. Please visit their blogs for their Cherry-Vanilla Tea Cake with Vanilla Sugar.

Please submit your details if you wish to link your post with this bake-along. This linking tool is open from 30th Jan 2012 to 3rd Feb 2012. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vegemite Cheesy Scrolls for Australia Day

Happy Australia Day!

Tomorrow, we are celebrating Australia Day and it's time again to fire up our Barbie to enjoy lots of sausages.

Last year for this day, I made a classic trifle with an Aussie iconic Aeroplane jelly. And this year, we are eating Vegemite!

As what Wikipedia describes, Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract. It has a great salty taste and is usually eaten with a toast, sandwich or cracker biscuit. I think Vegemite is a great vegetarian food and love eating Vegemite with cheese. Best of all, I enjoy eating Vegemite in the form of cheesy scrolls especially when they are freshly baked from any local bakeries. For this post, I am making my own freshly baked Vegemite cheesy scroll, all from scratch using a brioche recipe from the book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.

The brioche recipe that I am using is the poor man's brioche which contains lesser butter than the other two recipes. This brioche bread is surprising quite light and spongy and does compliment the both tasty cheese and Vegemite very well.

vegemite cheese bread scrolls
The Vegemite that I'm using is for babies! LOL! It's very mild in taste and has 50% less sodium. Even my husband who doesn't like Vegemite, didn't mind eating these scrolls.
A mini plain brioche from the other half of the dough
vegemite cheese bread scrolls
I took a closer look of the scrolls... A spongy bread with buttery plus cheesy Vegemite taste...Nice!
Here's the recipe from the book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.
(with my modifications and notes in blue)

Sponge
1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup milk, lukewarm

Dough
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg, whisked until frothy for egg wash (replaced by milk)

To make the sponge:
Stir together the flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Stir in the milk until all flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 30 to 45 min, or until the sponge rises and then falls when you tap the bowl. (Note: This sponge has quite a high amount of liquid and it is runny, not solid.)

To make the dough:
Add the eggs to the sponge and whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add this mixture to the sponge and eggs and stir until all ingredients are hydrated and evenly distributed. Let this mixture rest for 5 min so that the gluten can begin to develop. Then, while mixing with a large spoon, gradually work in the butter, about one quarter at a time, waiting until each addition of butter assimilates before adding more.

Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for 10 min, adding small amounts of flour as needed, until the dough is very smooth and soft, but not too sticky to handle.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Ferment for about 90 min, or until the dough doubles in size.

Proceed with shaping. Allow proofing for 1 hr. Bake at 180°C for 15 or up to 50 min depending on the size of bread.

Note:

I have made a bread dough using 1/2 of the recipe. I divided the dough into half.

For the first half, I've shaped it into a mini loaf (250g).
For the other dough, I've rolled it into a 20 x 20 cm square flat dough. I spread 2 to 3 tbsp of Vegemite on the rolled dough surface, sprinkled 1/4 cup of grated cheese on the Vegemite, rolled the dough like a Swiss roll and cut each with 3 cm thickness. With this quantity, I can make 7 Vegemite scrolls.

Both breads were baked at 160°C fan forced. The scrolls were baked for 15 min and the mini loaf was baked for 20 min.


Extra! extra! Why am I baking the mini brioche loaf?

To transform it to nice buttery and crunchy salad croutons! The plain brioche bread is cut into 0.5 cm cubes, sprayed briefly with rice bran oil spray and baked for 10-15 min at 180°C fan forced with 2-3 tossing when baking in order to get even distribution of golden brown in each crouton. Yum!

Happy Australia Day and Happy Baking

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sticky Asian Pork Ribs

This is what we ate for our Chinese New Year reunion dinner. This pork ribs dish doesn't have a special auspicious or symbolic meaning to eat for Chinese New Year, but I must say it is a nice and luxurious delicacy to enjoy for this special occasion. 

Surprise! Surprise! This Asian pork ribs recipe actually originates from Donna Hay magazine! This Aussie-Asian fusion recipe originally uses beef ribs but I have replaced them with pork ribs instead. This recipe is super easy to cook. All I need is the ingredients, a oven-safe dish and an oven and all I did was to mix everything together and bake it! Essentially, I don't think that there is special skill required to cook this dish and all you need is time and patience. I've baked this dish for a total of 3 hrs and this dish is definitely worth the long wait.

The meat fell off the bones of the pork ribs as we scoped them off the baking dish and they are so tender and well-infused with all the Asian spices and sauces. My family enjoy this dish very much for our reunion dinner. My son didn't like the look of the dish initially but wouldn't resist his second bite after trying it.

I'm submitting this post the Aspiring Baker #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (Jan 2012) host by Wen's Delight.

sticky pork ribs Donna Hay 
 

Here's recipe from Donna Hay Magazine, Jun/July 2011 issue
(with my modification and notes in blue)

Serve 4-6

2kg beef short ribs (replaced with 1kg smaller sized pork ribs)
6 sticks cinnamon (reduced to 4)
6 whole star anise (reduced to 2)
5 cm piece (25g) ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled (I used 3)
1/4 cup (45g) brown sugar 
(I used half light muscovado sugar and half dark muscovado sugar for extra colour and flavours)
3/4 cup (180ml) oyster sauce 
(I used Lee Kum Kee and its most premium grade one and would highly recommend this instead of using the lower graded ones)
3/4 cup (180ml) black Chinese vinegar
1 cup (250ml) water

Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan forced). Place the beef (pork), cinnamon, star anise, ginger, garlic, sugar, oyster sauce, vinegar and water in a baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 2 hr. Remove foil and roast for a further 30 min or until tender and sticky.

Note: I used a cast iron casserole pot to bake these ribs. For this reason, I've extended my roasting time to 2 1/2 hr with cover, flipping the ribs in every 45 min and roasted a further 45 min without cover.

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Baking.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Getting ready for Chinese New Year - Pineapple Tarts (Part two)

This is the sequential part of my pineapple tart baking...

In my previous post, I've made my own pineapple jam and baked two jars of cream-cheese-melt-in-mouth pineapple tarts using both recipes provided by Wendy, Table for 2 or more. Wendy's cream cheese pineapple tarts recipe is really good but I would wish to seek further for an ultimate melting kind of pineapple tarts and wouldn't mind trying out different pineapple tarts recipes to satisfy my curiosity. Since young, I've been extremely good being a pineapple tart critic. LOL! My husband and son loves pineapple tarts too and I think that we all can be "critical" enough to test lots of pineapple tart from different recipes.

There are two recipes that I have tried and tested in this post:

My first recipe is from Jun, Indochine Kitchen. Her nastar (enclosed kind) pineapple tarts are all very uniformly shaped and they look so beaming with their golden glaze! I can't stop admiring the way she shaped and baked the tarts with her detailed step-by-step instructions and thought that I can do that too...or maybe not. Using her recipe, my pastry has turned out to be too crumbly for me to handle. My rolled pastry broke into pieces whenever I tried to roll them to enclose the pineapple filling. Eventually, I thought I can salvage the pastry by adding an additional egg yolk and can only shape the pastry into the open kind of pineapple tarts.

My second recipe is from Ju, The Little Teochew. As I was browsing through most bloggers' pineapple posts, there were a few that mentioned that this recipe by The Little Teochew is really really really good! And it is true! Out of all the recipes that I have tired so far, I would say that this is the best.

For this Chinese New Year, I'm happy and satisfied with the pineapple tarts that I made using the The Little Teochew recipe but wouldn't think that this is the end of my search for the most ideal pineapple tart yet. At this moment, I would love to sit back, relax and enjoy these pineapple tarts first, and will continue my quest probably after this celebration.

best pineapple tarts open face
Melt-in-your-mouth pineapple tarts (Recipe from The Little Teochew)
A closer look of the yummy tart...
best pineapple tarts open face
Another jar of goodies for our Chinese New Year celebration.
Here are the pineapple tart recipes that I've baked:
(with my slight modification and notes in blue)  

Recipe from Indochine Kitchen

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200g butter
50g confectioners' sugar
40g powdered milk
280g flour, low gluten or all purpose
20g cornflour
2 egg yolks (plus 1 egg yolk)

500-600g pineapple jam

For egg wash
3 egg yolks
1/4 tsp condensed milk
(Mine is 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp condensed milk + 1 tsp milk)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 150°C (or 150°C fan forced)

Sift flour, powdered milk and corn flour twice.

In a mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar. Cream till light and fluffy, about 4-5 min, over high speed.

Add egg yolk, one at a time. Beating well.

Add flour mixture into the bowl and beat over low speed using paddle attachment. Do this for 4-5min, until everything is mixed well.

Work with 50 g of dough one at a time. Roll dough between plastic sheet to 0.2cm thickness.

Pipe pineapple jam on top of the dough. Roll the dough to cover up the jam completely.

Use a pair of scissors to cut them up into 4cm log and arrange on greased pan.

Brush with egg wash mixture twice using small pastry brush.

Bake in preheated oven till golden, 15-20min.

Let cool and store in airtight container.

Recipe from The Little Teochew
   
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yields about 96 tarts

400g plain flour
50g corn flour
1/4 (heaped) tsp salt
280g cold, unsalted butter (do not allow it to soften)
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tbsp cold water (or iced water) (I didn't add that)
6 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For glaze, mix 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water (replace with 1 tsp condensed milk and 1 tsp milk for extra colour)

Directions:

Sift the flours, icing sugar and salt. Mix well to combine.

Using the pointed ends of a fork, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine bread crumbs. If necessary, use fingertips to continue rubbing lightly the bigger pieces into finer pieces. Using forks prevents the cold butter from melting with minimal contact with heat. If you want to rub the butter into the flour using your hands, make sure you use only your fingertips.

Beat together egg yolks, cold water (I didn't use this) and vanilla extract. Add it into the butter-flour mixture. Using your finger tips, gently coax all the crumbs into one large dough ball. Do not knead. As long as all the crumbs come together, stop. Chill in the fridge for about 10 min, covered. (I chilled the pastry overnight)

Roll out to desired thickness (about 8mm thick). Cut out dough using cutter. Arrange neatly onto baking tray, with at least 1.5cm apart. Since this is a very buttery, oily pastry, it would be good to use a small portion at a time and keep the rest covered in the fridge.

Once you have arranged the tart shells on your tray, glaze them on the entire surface (not just the rims).

Place the pre-rolled pineapple jam balls onto the centre of each tart shell.

Bake at 160°C (or 150°C fan forced) for 20 min, turning the tray halfway through baking. According to the original recipe, when placing jam onto the pastry, take caution not to smear jam onto the sides as this will easily “burn” and render the sides of the pastry.

More useful notes from The Little Teochew:
  • Instead of vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp of cognac can be added into this pastry.
  • Egg wash can help to make the pastry "studier" during baking and gives the tarts a better glaze and a nice golden colour.
  • Always pre-roll your pineapple jam before making the pastry.
  • Always keep pastry chilled.
Note: Using half the amount of pineapple jam leftover from my previous pineapple tart bake and 2/3 recipe from The Little Teochew, I've baked 65 pineapple tarts. I had a little left-over jam after all my bakes and can salvage the pastry from Indochine Kitchen to bake at least 15 decent-looking pineapple tarts.

Happy Baking

Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting Ready for Chinese New Year - Pineapple Tarts (Part one)

I can't imagine celebrating a Chinese New Year without eating any pineapple tarts...

Last year, I've used an express method to bake pineapple tarts for our Chinese New Year 2011. The advantages of using this method are: 
  • It is really fast and easy. 
  • The pineapple tarts are delicious.
  • Everything including the pineapple jam is all homemade!
The only disadvantage is that I can only make 15 tarts which are just not enough to satisfy our family's consumption.

This year, I am baking more pineapple tarts for my family. At the same time, I would love to try and test different pineapple tart recipes to seek for an ideal one for my future bakes.

As I was reading and exploring every recommended recipes, I came across about a few concerns that I need to embrace making a large batch of pineapple tarts...

Wendy, Table for 2 or more has highlighted the danger from splattering of hot pineapple juice while cooking the pineapple jam.

Ju, The Little Teochew has mentioned that melt-in-mouth pastry can be difficult to handle as the buttery pastry may melt down in our hot summer days.

For the sake of continuing the culture of eating GOOD QUALITY pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year, I'm writing down the following checklist to gear up for my series of pineapple tart bakes:

Pineapple - We are lucky that Australian pineapples are in season now.
(checked)

Butter -  I have stocked up the best quality butter to bake these Chinese New Year delicacies (checked)

"Heat-proof" hands to endure splattering of pineapple jam
(I think that I'm tough enough to do this - checked)

Being BRAVE enough to handle melting pastry and explore different pineapple recipes (CHECKED! LOL) 

Since last year, I remember reading a detailed pineapple jam post and a cream-cheese-melt-in-mouth pineapple tarts post, both by Wendy, Table for or more. Both her posts have very precise step-by-step instructions and she has shared lots of tips and techniques with her pineapple jam cooking and so I've decided to use both her recipes to make my first batch of pineapple tarts this year.

Both Wendy's recipes are really good. Unlike the commercial made pineapple jam, my homemade one is mild in sweetness and deliciously soft with adequate amount of moisture and fibers in every single bite of this jam. The cream-cheese-melt-in-mouth pastry is delicious too but I was seeking an ultimate melting kind of texture and so my quest for more pineapple tarts recipes continues...
 
Cream-cheese-melt-in-mouth pineapple tarts
homemade pineapple tart jam
This is how I made my pineapple jam...
A closer look of the tarts....
Inside the tart...Yum!
This jar of pineapple tarts is ready for our Chinese New Year celebration...
Here's the detailed recipe from Table for 2 or more
(with my modification in blue)

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2 Morris pineapples
(about 1.6kg each before peeling, after peeling it’s about 900g each)
(Mine is about 2.3kg each before peeling, after peeling is about 1.3kg)
2 cups sugar (400g) (Increase to 500g for 2.6kg of peeled pineapples)
1 cinnamon stick (I didn't add this)

Method:
1. Peel the pineapples.
2. Cut pineapples into chunks. Do not discard the core which contains most of the precious fiber.

3. Put half the pineapple chunks into a blender, add 1/3 cup of water and blitz away. Pour 80% of the blended stuff into a pan or wok. (Tip: Wendy recommends pan or wok with large evaporation surface)

4. With some remaining blended pineapple in the blender, repeat blending process with the rest of the pineapples, always leaving some blended stuff in the blender if you need to blend more chunks and you won't need more water.
(I didn't add any water while blending the pineapples. I blended the pineapples in 5 batches and didn't need any water to blend the smaller batches of pineapples)

5. Cook pineapple paste with cinnamon stick (I didn't add this) on medium heat until it's very pasty, like thick oatmeal. Do not stir it all the time.

6. Add in sugar and the jam will turn "watery" again. Turn to lower medium heat, and cook until it is very pasty. Stir once a while only, but keep an eye on it.
7. Increase the heat to high. Do not stir to allow the base jam to develop its caramelized colour. Stir once a while to check on the colour. Stop when it almost reaches your preferred colour. Take note that some pans will continue to caramelize even when the heat is off.

Wendy's important tips:
  • Add sugar after the pineapple paste has lost more than 80% of its water. It reduces the risk of burnt jam and the most importantly, it splatters horribly when there is a lot of water with the large amount of sugar.
  • Do not stir often when you reduce the pineapple paste. Once you stir, it starts splattering again, even with no sugar.
  • Use a heavy based pan, if possible. It reduces the risk of burning the jam.
  • Wear kitchen mittens to protect lower arms and hands from hot splattering jam.
    It's better to under-cook the jam rather than to overcook it. The jam will thicken further when it is cooled. If the jam is too wet after cooling, the jam can be cooked it again to reduce the moisture further. If it's too dry, diluting the jam with water may ruin its texture.
  • If need to cook more than 2 pineapples, do not cook all at once. Pour in paste from one fruit into the pan/wok and let it reduce. While it reduces, prepare the next fruit and pour in when it is drying.
  • Turn on exhaust hood to aid the evaporation of moisture. 
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Makes 125 pieces of tart

250g butter (salted)
(I used unsalted ones)
75g caster sugar (replaced by icing sugar)
170g cream
50g cream cheese
3 egg yolks
400g cake flour
30g corn starch

One more yolk for glazing
(plus 1 tsp condensed milk and 1 tsp milk)

Pineapple jam from 2 large pineapples

Method:
1. Cream butter, sugar and cream cheese together.

2. When it comes together, pour in cream and whip on medium speed for 10 min. Scrape the sides from time to time. Batter may look lumpy, but will turn creamy.
3. Beat in egg yolks for 1 min.

4. Sift both flours and pour half of it into buttery mixture. Mix on low speed until it comes together and pour in the remaining flour and beat until it comes together. Do not over mix.

5. Let dough sit for 10 min minimum before you start wrapping your jam with it.

6. Roll teaspoonfuls of pineapple jam in tiny balls. Keep them chilled while preparing the pastry.

7. Divide the pastry into 3/4 tablespoonful sizes. Wrap the pineapple jam into a slightly flattened pastry and roll into a round or rod shapes.

8. Preheat oven at 160°C (fan forced) or 180°C. Brush the pastry with egg wash and
baked them for 20 min. Transfer the baked tarts to a wire rack after 10 min of cooling and allow them to cool completely on wire rack.

Note: Using 2/3 of the pastry recipe, I've baked 60 pineapple tarts and have half the amount of pineapple jam left for more pineapple tarts baking...see you at part two.

Happy Baking

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"QQ" Cornflour Bread and Korean Buckwheat Noodles - Gifts from Lena

About two weeks back, Lena from Frozen Wings and I finally met!

Lena is my one of our bake-along buddies. We have never meet each other before and only know each other through blogging. A year back, Lena and I were follower of each other blogs and we were corresponding a lot, leaving our comments at our blog posts. In the midst of last year and my early bread baking days, I started writing to Lena to seek her advices in bread baking. Then, she invited me to be part of our bake-along team, all together with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and now Joyce, Lena and I are great friends.

This is my first time face to face seeing Lena and I was very excited to see her. As I was waiting at the Flinders train station at Melbourne city, I was busy scanning around for any potential Lena-looking ladies. I kept asking myself "is this Lena?" or maybe not. When she arrived, I knew that this is her! I think this is funny because I sound like I was dating an online friend...LOL!

I was very comfortable chatting with Lena. I brought her to the well-equipped spice shop at Lygon and we had a nice lunch at a cafe, Brunetti. Lena has been very thoughtful to me and my family and gave me lots of gifts. Amongst all are these two cookbooks which I would like to cook and bake one recipe from each book to express my gratitude to Lena's generosity.

The meaning of "QQ" in Chinese term means chewy food with bouncy texture. This recipe, "QQ" cornflour bread is from the book, The Second book of Baking for Beginner by Carol. The recipes in this book are all written in Chinese and when Lena knew that my husband can translate these Chinese recipes for me, she decided to give me this book.

The addition of cornflour in this bread dough is meant to give the bread a little bouncy "QQ" texture but can cause the dough to have insufficient gluten strength to rise to a higher height. This recipe recommends 10 cm high Pullman tin but mine is 11 cm high and unfortunately, the bread dough just can't rise slightly higher to form a perfect square shape in my higher Pullman tin. Nevertheless, the bread is actually quite "QQ" with a nice buttery "brioche-like" taste.

At the same time, I've also cooked a nice and easy Korean spicy chilled buckwheat noodles for our family's dinner based on a recipe from the other book, Seoul Kitchen by Debbie Lee. I must admit that the sauce of this noodle dish is little too spicy for my son but my husband and I were happily enjoying it. Eventually, I had to prepare a non-spicy sauce but his non-spicy sauce is just not Korean enough.

"QQ" Cornflour Bread
delicious slices of "QQ" bread...
Notice that the bread in this book has a more compact texture with smaller pores than mine? I think my bread has reached its maximum height, resulting a fluffier bread with larger pores size.
My Korean Spicy Chilled Buckwheat Noodles
Cooking the noodles...

Here are the recipes of "QQ" Cornflour Bread and Korean Buckwheat noodles.
(with my slight modification in blue) 

"QQ" Cornflour Bread from The Second book of Baking for Beginner by Carol
(original in Chinese language, now translated to English)
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This recipe make one 20 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm square toast bread.

250g Bread flout
50g Corn flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1 egg
20g sugar
1/4 tsp salt
30g butter, cut into small pieces
150ml milk

1. Place all ingredients (reserving 30ml of liquid and except butter) into a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the reserving liquid slowly and mix well when adding until a dough has formed.

2. Add butter into the dough and mix until well-combined.

3. Knead the dough until it can be stretched to form a "window panel".

4. Shape the dough into a round shape and place it into a lightly oiled bowl.

5. Spray water onto dough surface and cover it with moist cloth. Prove in a warm place with high humidity for 60 min or until double in size.

6. De-gas dough on a lightly floured surface.

7. Divide dough into 2 (or 3), shape them into round shape and cover them with moist cloth and allow them to rest for 10 min.

8. Roll each divided dough into a flat oval shape and roll them up to form a log shape. Allow it to rest for 15 min.

9. Roll each divided dough to 35cm long and roll them loosely towards front. Place them with seam side down into lightly oiled baking tin.

10. Flatten the doughs slightly to ensure rising to same height of all doughs.

11. Spray water onto dough surface and prove for another 50-60 min or until the baking tin is 80% full.

12. Preheat oven to 210°C (or 190°C fan forced).

13. Place the cover of the tin when the baking tin is 90% full and bake for 38-40min.

14. Remove the bread immediately from baking tin when it was baked and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

Spicy Chilled Buckwheat Noodles from the other book, Seoul Kitchen by Debbie Lee

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Serve 6
225 buckwheat noodles (naeng myun), dried or frozen
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 red onion, julienned (I didn't add this - we don't like to eat raw onions)
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I didn't add this)
1 tbsp granulated sugar (I didn't add this)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cucumber, julienned
1 Fuji apple, julienned
2 carrots, julienned

For Gochujang Vinaigrette:
4 tbsp chilli bean paste (gochujang)
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar (replaced with normal white vinegar)
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sesame oil (reduced to 1 tbsp)

3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and halved
4 tbsp chopped spring onions for garnish (I didn't do that, instead I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds.)

Half-fill a large stockpot with water and bring it to boil with a pinch of salt. Add the noodles, stirring occasionally with tongs to make sure the noodles don't clump and cook for 6 to 8 min if using dried noodles and 4 to 5 min if using frozen. As soon as the noodles are cooked, immediately run under cold water, stirring with the tings again to keep the noodles from clumping. Once the noodles are cool, drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the sesame oil and toss so the noodles keep their elasticity.

In a small mixing bowl, combine red onion, rice wine vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Toss well set aside. (I skipped this step.)

In a food processor, combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette except for sesame oil, and puree (I combined the ingredients with a hand whisk). Drizzle in the sesame oil, binding well to emulsify the vinaigrette. Return to the small mixing bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the noodles, half of the cucumber, the apples and carrots and half the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and toss well, making sure to evenly distribute the ingredients. Arrange in the middle of a large serving bowl or divide into 6 bowls. Drizzle with additional dressing and top with this remaining cucumber and boiled eggs.

Sprinkle with spring onions (or toasted sesame seeds) and serve immediately.

Note: I've used half amount of the recipe and 250g noodles to serve three.

Thanks Lena! Nice to know you through blogging...
Happy Blogging, Happy Baking and Happy Cooking!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Brownies

I thought that I am supposed to be happy... baking my happy brownies. I was happy baking these brownies but I am not sure now that I am as happy as I should be.

These brownies are originally made with lots of happy reasons...

First of all, these brownies are surprisingly low in fat, sugar and calories, and yet they are very moist and delicious! This makes me happy knowing that I'm feeding my family these guilt-free treats.

Second, I love baking and so I thought that I will be simply happy baking these cute little brownies.

Last and most importantly, I was supposed to bake these brownies for our 16th bake-along with my two baking buddies, Lena, from Frozen wings and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours. Due to family reasons, Joyce was unable to join us for this bake-along and I feel bad and feel that these brownies should not be as happy as they are intended to be. Nevertheless, I hope that everything will be fine for Joyce and sincerely wish that my happy brownies post can give everybody lots of "happiness" and lots of smiles on your face.

For our next bake-along, we are baking cherry-vanilla tea cake with vanilla sugar which is to be posted on 30 Jan 2012. The recipe of this cake is from Bon Appetit or the book, Bon Appetit by Barbara Fairchild. Please join us and link your post with us on 30 Jan 2012 or within the next 5 days.

Hi! I'm plain-happy brownies made by Zoe, a happy baker.
...and these are my happy friends. From top left to right, plain-happy, just-happy, simply-happy and LOL-happy
More "happy" brownies... From top left to right, happy-in-love, no-happy-face, happy-stars and not-so-happy

Here's the Chocolate Fudge Brownies Cake recipe from the book, Enlightened Cakes by Camilla V Saulsbury.
(with my modification in blue)

2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose flour) (I used all purpose flour)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch process)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp espresso powder (I didn't add this)
1 tsp powdered sugar (I didn't use this)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non stick baking spray with flour.

Stir the chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water until melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and slat. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, egg whites, applesauce, canola oil, vanilla, espresso powder, and melted chocolate until blended. Sift flour mixture over. Gently fold flour into batter (do not over-stir). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 33-35 min or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer cake to a cooling rack and cool completely. Release the pan sides from the cake and sift powdered sugar over the cake.

Make 12 servings

Nutrition per serve:
Calories 247
Fat 12.9g
Protein 4.2g
Cholesterol 35.3mg
Carbohydrate 32.3g

This is how I made this cake into my mini happy brownies:

Using half of the recipe, I baked a thinner cake with a 15 cm x 26 cm loaf tin at 160°C fan forced for 20 min . 

For the ingredients, I used 120g of apple puree to replace half amount of 3/4 cup of applesauce.

I've cut 12 pieces of brownies with 4.5 cm star-shaped and 3.5 cm round cookies cutter. Thus, each brownies worked out to be about 70 calories per brownie.

The faces of the brownies were drawn with melted white chocolate and the filled "mouth" area was filled with thin icing sugar (made with water) frosting.

To minimise food wastage, the bits and pieces of excess brownies were salvaged after cutting the brownies into shapes. I've made 9 truffles by mixing the excess brownies with 40g of light cream cheese and coated them with 100-120g of melted dark chocolate.



Here are our baking friends that have joined us for this bake-along. Please visit their blogs for more of their brownies baking.

Please submit your details if you wish to link your post with this bake-along. This linking tool is open from 9th Jan to 13th Jan 2012.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pizza made of harvest from my garden

I'm amazed whenever I eat a cherry tomato from our tomato plants; thinking of the day which was more than 4 months back that my son planted these tomatoes seeds into the potting mix. Then, without fail, my husband and son water the plants everyday. When I'm busy cooking, both father and son would spend their time catching the bugs and caterpillars that attack our plants and nurture their allies spiders for their bugs catching assistance. Now, we are all happy that we are reaping our reward from our hard work and patience .

This is a nice and easy pizza base recipe with which does any pre-baking. This recipe is so easy that I actually knead the pizza dough by hand. No kneading machine required! However, you would need lots of extra flour to dust because the dough contains no added fat and can be quite sticky to handle. I can use fresh tomatoes and juicy pineapple as my pizza toppings and yet the pizza crust turns out to be a great texture and not soggy.

Pizza made from our hard work...tomatoes and oregano from our garden
Our tomatoes...from our garden to our dining table.
Here two other pizza that I've made:
Ham and Pineapple Pizza
Salami Pizza

Here's the recipe from an advertising feature (Perfect Italiano) in Donna Hay Magazine, Issue Dec 2011 / Jan 2012 (with my modification in blue)

Basic Pizza Dough

Make 2 x 26 cm large pizza or up to 8 mini pizza
1 tsp dried yeast
1/4 tsp caster sugar
3/4 cup (180ml) lukewarm water
1 1/2 cup (225g) plain flour
(replace with a combination of Italian OO flour and bread flour in the ratio of 1:4)
1/2 tsp salt

Place yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside in a warm place for 10 min or until bubbles appear on the surface. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre.

Add the yeast mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minor until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with a clean, damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 25-30min or until the dough has doubled in size.

Note: Using 3/4 of the above recipe, I can make 4 x 15-17 cm mini pizza

Preheat oven to 220°C or 200°C fan forced. Divide the dough into its portion size and roll out on a lightly floured surface into its required size. Place them on lightly greased baking trays.

My pizza toppings for each mini pizza are:

Tomatoes and Pesto Pizza
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Spread base with 1 tsp basil or tomato pesto leaving a 0.5cm border. Add 4-5 cherry tomatoes (halved), sprinkle salt and pepper.

Ham and Pineapple Pizza
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Spread base with 1 tsp tomato pesto leaving a 0.5cm border. Add 40g thinly sliced ham and 2 slices of pineapple.

Salami Pizza
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Spread base with 1 tsp tomato pesto leaving a 0.5cm border. Add 30g salami.

For each pizza, sprinkle1/4 cup of mozzarella and tasty cheese blend and bake for 12-15 min or until topping is golden and the base is crisp. Top with 4-5 oregano or basil leaves (except for pineapple and ham pizza) and serve.

Happy Baking

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Knowing my family with lots of cookies baking...

Welcome 2012! Looking back, year 2011 has been a bakerholic year for me.

Even since I've started this blog, I've been exploring lots of recipes and wouldn't miss out trying out any good recipes. Through blogging, I have tried understanding my family's likes and dislikes and encourage my family to explore new taste and different food culture.

I always thought my family likes the classic plain chewy chocolate chip cookies, made with brown sugar for buttery soft cookies texture. For my blog and curiosity, I've stepped out of my assumptions and discovered lots of different cookies recipes which create a wide variety of textures and flavours.

Here are some great cookies recipes that I've baked last year but didn't have a chance to post them before 2011 ends.

For the first two recipes, I was comparing the difference in amount of butter and sugar composition that affect the taste and texture of both crispy and chewy cookies. Everything in the recipe is the same except for the proportion of butter, sugar and milk. I'm amazed with the results. My husband and son were pacing behind me when I was baking these cookies and got really excited when they were asked to do the taste test...and the winner is not surprisingly the CRISPY cookies! Clearly, the higher butter and sugar content in the crispy cookies give them a better crunch and taste! I should have know! LOL.

Another of our family's favourite is these very-chocolatey soft cookies. These cookies are named Better-than-Brownie-Cookies but I prefer to name them as my husband's favourite cookies. These cookies are so easy to make and I've baked these more than a couple of times. Every now and then, I receive requests from him and his colleagues for these cookies.

 
 
My husband's fav chocolate cookies
With soft chocolatey inside...
Here's the recipes of a few of our favourite cookies. 
(with my modifications in blue)

Crispy vs chewy chocolate chip cookies from the supplement issue of Better Home and gardens, Better Basic with Fast Ed (2010)


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Ingredients
Crispy
Chewy
Unsalted butter, softened
375g
350g
Caster sugar
275g
110g
Brown sugar
150g
180g
Vanilla extract
1 tsp
1 tsp
Eggs
2
2
Milk
1/4 cup
-
Plain flour
325g (I use 350g)
350g
Bicarbonate of soda
(I use baking powder)
1 tsp
1 tsp
Milk chocolate
(I use chocolate chips)
200g
200g
Nuts, finely chopped
(I use macadamia in half to preserve its crunch)
120g (I use 140g)
150g (I use 140g)
make
36 (I made 85!)
36 (I made 72!)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease oven trays and line with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high for 3-4 min or until light and creamy. Add vanilla, eggs and milk and beat until smooth.
3. Sift flour and bicarb into the mixture. Do not over-mix. Fold in chocolate and nuts.
4. Drop tablespoonful (I use teaspoonful) of dough onto the prepared tray, allowing for spreading. Bake for 20-25 min (Crispy) (teaspoonful takes about 10-15 min) or 12-14 min (Chewy) (teaspoonful takes about 8-10 min) or firm to touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

My husband's fav chocolate cookies from Technicolorkitchen and she called these cookies Better-than-Brownie-Cookies.

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1 1/3 cups (233g) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids or more, chopped (I use 200g)
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter, room temperature 
(It's such a small amount that I've used low fat margarine and it works all the time!)
2 eggs (I use just 1 egg)
2/3 cup (134g) sugar (I use 100g brown sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup (35g) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup (175g) dark chocolate chunks or chips (I use only 120g of chocolate chip)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a small saucepan over low heat – stir constantly until smooth. (I use microwave to melt the chocolate and butter)

Set aside to cool for 5 min. Mix eggs, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl. Combine thoroughly. Set aside.

Sift flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.

Add melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and slowly add your dry ingredients. When stirred, add chocolate chunks/chips and stir.

Scoop 1 1/2 tbsp of dough onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 min or until they are firm on the outside (dough loses its sheen). Leave to cool completely on sheets.

Makes about 18

Happy Baking.