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Monday, May 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Croissant - not as indulgent, is it?


At last, I bought Advance Bread and Pastry book by Michel Suas after seeing many good reviews about it from online baking community. This is a very comprehensive book on bread and pastry gearing towards professional bakers, which is also highly beneficial for serious home bakers.

Flipping through the book made me feel like reading a university textbook. In fact, it is a textbook for bread and pastry students. The book is gigantic  (over 4 kg in weight) and covers aspects of bread and pastry extremely well. It is like combining all the books that I have in one. 

The first chapter I had a look was Viennoiserie (sweet enriched bread and pastry).  I was excited to see many varieties of croissant recipes. There are ones made with poolish, with preferment, with sourdough starter, and whole wheat croissants made with straight dough and preferment.

I have been practicing making croissants/laminated doughs for the past weeks and was intrigued by whole wheat croissants idea. Wouldn’t it be nice to include wholegrain into buttery croissant? At least, I won’t feel too guilty having them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lemon Madeleines - a yummy snack in a flash!


Madeleine is mini sponge cake baked in shell-shaped pan. It is one of the classic French cakes. It is very easy and quick to make yet so nice and attractive, almost effortless to make.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tartine's Morning Buns - best eaten in the morning, every morning


I came across the famous Tartine Morning Buns when I was searching for croissant images of Tartine Bakery (as I was on my mission to perfect the croissant making, I figured I should look up to the bestJ).

Note:
Tartine Bakery is a famous bakery in San Francisco located in the Mission District. I don’t live in San Francisco, neither USA.Tartine is famous among artisan bread-making community for its holey grail Country Loaves. That’s why I came to know Tartine and bought two of their cookbooks.
The buns received rave reviews on the blogosphere and I was curious to find out myself how good they are. I just bought Tartine cookbook (the pastry version) recently and look forwards to Morning Bun recipe. However, the recipe wasn’t included in the book.  I managed to locate the recipe online on 7x7 website. The bun is an indulgence version of cinnamon rolls and made with laminated (croissant) dough. That’s perfect, another recipe I can try to keep practicing on croissants.  The rolls are filled with the mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for success, buttery flaky pastry filled with orange cinnamon sugar? Indeed, it was the success. It tasted soooo good, pure heaven. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pain au Levain with wheat germ - shaped into 3Bs, boule, batard and baguette



I discovered toasted wheat germs in bread through a wonderful post by David Snyder (Dmsnyder)’on The Fresh Loaf. After having the first toasted wheat germ sourdough, I was hooked and have been trying different recipes with it since.

I made another wheat germ sourdough weeks ago and loved it. This time, I wanted to increase the amount of water (hydration) and included rye flour in the dough.

Instead of calling them wheat germ sourdough, I’d like to call it Pain au Levain with wheat germs (pain au levain is literally sourdough bread, only with fancier name). Taking the idea from Susan at Wild Yeast Blog, I shaped the dough into 3 Bs, three basic shapes; boule (round), batard (oval) and baguette.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pistachio Macarons with buttercream filling - très classique et en français



I have a relatively long list of macaron flavours I want to make. Pistachio is one of them, though not really on the top. However, I moved it up the list as S’boss (a French-Australian) requested for some.

Pistachio (Pistache) Macaron  is one of the classic French flavour. I remember seeing macaron packs at CostCo (imported from France) with presumably four classic flavours and pistache is one of the four. The rest of the flavours are vanilla, chocolate and raspberry.

I followed the pistachio butter cream recipe from Jose Marechal’s Secrets to Macarons. The filling was made of ground pistachio mixed with butter and sugar, which produced relatively dry filling. I also substituted part of almond meal with ground pistachio in the macaron shell.

The creamy, sweet and nutty aroma of ground pistachio was wonderful. It was even more so when the macarons were being baked. It filled my house with fantastic aroma.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cranberry and Walnut Celebration Bread - fit for any festive occasions


I have a 1.2-kg bag of Craisins (dried cranberries) from CostCo that I am trying to use it up. Apart from enjoying them as a snack (they are tart, sweet and juicy and just nice as is), I also wanted to make bread from them.

I made cranberry and walnut sourdough some weeks ago, which I enjoyed the flavour and texture. This time, I wanted to make enriched bread with cranberry and, again, walnut, one of the classic pairing.

The cranberry and walnut celebration bread from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread caught my attention with its attractive double braided shape. Though, there wasn’t anything to celebrate, well, it’s not Christmas, it’s Easter, it’s none of those festive seasons, I decided to make the bread anyway. Any day can be a special day. Any day can be celebrated, nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Soy and Linseed Sourdough - full of goodness and texture


Soy and linseed bread is supposedly good for heart health, at least it’s what the bread manufacturer is trying to tell us which I believe it has some merits. The bread is a healthy choice as it contains soy beans, soy flour and linseeds which  high protein, high fibre and omega-3.

I made this same bread before some months ago combining Jeffrey Hamelman’s method and Bourke Street Bakery recipe (not entirely). This time I followed Bourke Street Bakery’s recipe closely. Umm, closely, I actually increased the amount of both soy beans and linseeds substantially (double the amount for both soys and linseeds), upped the amount of water a little (hydration percentage) and replaced 10% of bread flour with whole wheat flour.

The recipe called for soy flour, which I didn’t use in my previous bakes. I didn’t think that I was able to find the flour and I was not a fan of buying a big bag of ingredient specifically for one recipe. However, I also like to experiment with new things/new flours and I came across soy flour at Asian grocery store. The flour has very interesting texture. It was moist, creamy and mushy. It felt almost like the blended soy beans, only drier.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lemon Tart - simple, classic, delicious


Getting into winter, there are abundant of lemons around. This is the time of the year when I have more lemons than I can chew. S mom has a very productive lemon tree and she gave them to us whenever we saw her.

There are a number of lemon recipes we love. Our most favourite lemon recipe is lemon tart. Lemon tart can be made in few different ways, bake or no-bake, butter or cream to emulsify and set the tart. All produce good results. Well, hardly anything can go wrong with lemon tart.

I made the tart using the recipe from Michel Roux’s fabulous Eggs cookbook. I never thought that a cookbook with egg theme could contain such wide variety of recipes, from pastry, ice cream, dessert, to pasta. It is a humble and simple ingredient with endless possibilities. 

Sourdough Pancake with Poached Pear




I’ve been wanted to try making sourdough pancake for quite sometimes. It was regularly suggested by sourdough bakers as a good way to use the starter discard from the feedings.
I make pancake rather often. And I was curious to find out how well sourdough starter would leaven the pancake batter and the taste it would give.
I used the recipe from King Arthur website. The recipe is for sourdough waffle and also good for pancake. Looking at the photo on the site, I was tempted to get the waffle iron. Well, pancake will have to do for now. Unfortunately, I don’t have space in the kitchen for more gadgets.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pain au Raisins, Snail, Escagot – a pastry with many names


One of the most loved pastry items with multiple identities, Pain au Raisin. Though it is widely known as Pain au Raisins (or Pain aux Raisins), it is also called escagot and snail. Many Aussies know this item as snails due to its shape.

It has everything that ticks, slightly spiced juicy sultana (golden raisin), pastry cream wrapped in buttery and flaky croissant dough. Some are also glazed with apricot jam, and finished off with icing sugar.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Passionfruit Macaron - when the love affair with macaron began...


Passionfruit macaron has a special place in my heart. It was the first macaron I tasted and fell in love at first bite and I still recall that moment vividly. It was from a French patisserie at The Rock, Sydney that I stumbled upon during my trip to Sydney couple of years ago. It was one of those magical experiences. The pretty little morsel that was so light and crisp. It melted in my mouth and release amazing flavour. It was like “wow, what is this stuff? Why haven’t I had them before? Where have I been?”.  It was also fortunate that the first macaron I had was a great macaron. Generally, I find commercial macaron in Australia to be average (to put it politely… as in many instances, they are simply mediocre).

In my opinion, passionfruit makes a fabulous dessert. It is good in cake, slice, mousse, panna cotta, to name a few. And Pavlova won’t be complete without passion fruit. And yes, it makes great macaron.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pane Siciliano - made into sandwich loaf and focaccia


I was still obsessed with semolina/durum flour and I came across another recipe using semolina flour in Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker Apprentice cookbook, Pane Siciliano.

I’ve run out of the (elusive) durum flour I bought over a month ago but I still had about 1 kg of fine semolina, which I would love to use it up. I think the fine semolina that I had wasn’t really the semolina flour but they worked well in the semolina bread recipe that I made (I wouldn’t call it “well”, actually. It was more of “alright”).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Apple and Oat Sourdough - fresh fruit toast for a change


I still had some leftover apples from S’ dad’s home-grown. They were delicious, juicy and slightly tart. I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of apples they were. My guess would be ‘Golden Delicious’ because of its golden colour and sweet yet tart flavour. I was pleasantly surprised that the apples were still lovely after being sitting at room temperature for over a month.

We quite enjoyed the apple bread I made couple of weeks ago, from Dan Lepard’s Exceptional Bread. This time I wanted to try different recipe and my heart was set at apple and oat sourdough from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. The apples that we had would be just enough for the bread.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge - Maple Mousse Tart


The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

As you might have guessed, Evelyne came from Canada, the land of maple syrup and my favourite breakfast dish, pancake with maple syrup and crispy bacon (what a great way to start the day, sweet and savoury at the same time). Her proposed dish was maple mousse served in crispy bacon, very interesting. Though, I would love to know how the mouse would taste like with the crispy bacon. I didn't follow the idea.

Inspired by my new book, “Chocolat: The Chocolate Bible by Le Cordon Bleu”, I intended to make chocolate cup from tempered chocolate to fill the mousse in. It was my first time making the chocolate container and tempering chocolate. Umm, it wasn’t easy. Tempering chocolate wasn’t too bad. But I had trouble taking the chocolate cup out of the mould in one piece. They were broken into pieces.