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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Little Diva (not me, it's Macaron) went to Bangkok!

I had an impromptu short trip to Bangkok last month. My sister had a promotional ticket through Royal Orchid Plus at a half price. I only bought ticket a month before the trip and stayed in Bangkok for few weeks (I also went to Macau and Hong Kong for five days during that time, which I’m hoping to write a post about it).

My family and friends in Bangkok regularly asked me to bring back me-made macarons. These little beauties are so tempting that they so want to try. Macaron fever is slowing catching on in Thailand. They are more likely to be found in luxury hotels’ and/or high-end bakeries/cafes.  I had some macarons from Plaza Athenee Hotel while I was there. Umm, let me say they were far, far from good.

Macarons from The Plaza Athenee

I had few weeks to make macarons before the trip. I made one batch (with one or two flavours) every week and freeze them (minus my and S’ consumption). So, I ended up with six flavours to take back to Bangkok; chocolate peanut butter, cumquat, green tea, cherry, lemon and raspberry macarons.

Macarons freeze well. There are little, if any, degradations provided that they are defrosted properly. Some macaron flavours/fillings also freeze better than others (chocolate ganache and almond/nut butter in particular).

Yes, in general, they freeze well. However, in this case, I was taking them across two continents, travelled over 7,000 kilometres to get from Melbourne to Bangkok. They went across two climate zones with temperature fluctuations in between; from –18c in the freezer to 11c ambient temperature in Melbourne and to 32C (with high humidity) in Bangkok. Those poor macarons had been through a lot before they were presented to my family and friends. Anyhow, they still tasted great (though some of them were a bit soft and too moist as a result of condensation). They received lots of praises from the eaters. It was also wonderful to share these heavenly morsels with others.  

Note to self:
If I am to take macarons to travel long distance again, I would make ones with chocolate ganache or butter-based fillings. It would be less prone to condensation.

After the long trip, the little diva (mon macarons) needs a good rest in the freezer to firm up before consumption. The hot and humid weather in Bangkok did some damages to the little beauties.

All in all, it works quite well. Not that macarons enjoyed the long distance travel but they coped relatively well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pear Danish - fruits for breakfast, check!

Pear has been in full season for few months and I have been having them in many different forms; fresh, poached and baked, in many different dishes; pancake, salad, cakes…and today, with Danish. I love cooking with seasonal produces. Not only that they taste better, they are also more economical and take less food miles to get to my plate.

These danishes were made using the croissant dough with natural starter. It can also be made with any croissant/laminated dough of your choice. The pastry was filled with crème patiserrie (pastry crème) and top with poached pears. I roughly followed the recipe from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. I changed the recipe slightly by using my own poached pear recipe and different croissant dough.

It was the first time I made Danish. At first, the shaping was a little challenge. They kept springing back and shrinking. I finally got the hang of it after few tries.

These Danishes were heavenly, seriously good. They were moist, buttery and flavoursome. Crème patisserie and poached pears added dimensions and flavours to the pastry. They were perfect for breakfast and/or afternoon tea.  It didn’t make us feel so bad to have buttery pastry for breakfast, given that there were some small pieces of fruits on them J. Well, at least, we had fruits for breakfast.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dan Leapard's Crusty Potato Bread

The recipe came from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf that I bought few months ago. I haven’t got around to bake anything from the book until now. Too many baked goods I want to try, so little time.

I made potato bread several times with mash potato and baked potato but never made one with grated potato which was used in this recipe. I was curious to find out. I was tempted to tweak the recipe a little by including rosemary, olive oil, nigella seeds and/or garlic as but I remembered the word of wisdom, “not to tweak the recipe when you make it the first time”. So, I struck with the recipe, well sort of. I replaced some of the bread flour (15%) with rye (5%) and whole wheat flour (10%). I also increased the hydration a little.

The dough was rather wet as grated potato continued to release its water into the dough which was somewhat a challenge to work with. I had to do stretch and fold in the bowl several times to achieve proper gluten development.  In hindsight, I should have struck with Lepard’s original hydration (50%) or may increase the hydration to 55% instead of 60% in this recipe. Umm, I just couldn’t help myself to tweak the recipe.

The bread was nice and moist. Grated potato was cooked and disappeared into the dough and gave the moisture to the crumbs. Honey (about 5% in term of Baker’s Percentage) gave slight hint of sweetness. The crust was browner than usual due to honey (I believe). The brown caramelised crust also added flavour to the bread.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Croissant with Natuaral Starter - the new PB

Another winning recipe from Suas’s Advance Bread and Pastry cookbook, Croissant made with Natural Starter (sourdough starter). So far, I have made croissants using four different formulas; one with preferment, one with poolish, whole wheat croissant and the latest into the repertoire, croissant made with natural starter.

I considered this batch my new PB (personal best) as it gave the most wonderful and flavoursome croissants, and the best looking ones tooJ. Contrary to what you might be thinking, that sourdough starter will produce sour taste croissants. This is not the case at all. The amount of starter was small enough not to give the acidic taste, but in the meantime, it was enough to enhance the flavour. If you have sourdough starter, I encourage you to give this recipe a go. Though there is a little extra step to prepare the starter dough (using natural starter), it is very well worth it.

Because Suas’ book gears towards professional, adjusting the recipe to a domestic batch size involved some math works. The recipe also didn’t include roll-in butter (for lamination). Converting the recipe to the homemade batch size resulted in tiny amount of egg used in preferment and half-egg in the final dough mixing. I omitted the egg in preferment altogether and used half of one egg in the final dough and the other half for egg wash.

The dough was a breeze to work with in the rolling and laminating departments. I'd like to believe that having sourdough starter and preferment contributed to the pallable and strong dough. Making croissants might sound daunting and involved but it is achievable and the results are truly rewarding. Fresh homemade croissants will beat any great commercial croissants. It made the perfect weekend for us and I'm sure it will make yours.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wheaty Sourdough with cracked wheat, wheat berries and wheat germ

I picked up a bag of bulgur and wheat berries from the grocer few weeks ago and plan to make multigrain bread from it.

Seeing wheat berries somehow made me feel connected to the food source. It was also interesting to see that most grain seeds looks almost identical, to name a few, wheat, rice, barley, etc.

I wanted to make bread with many forms of wheat in it. Wheat products I got in my pantry were wheat berries, wheat germs, bulgur, whole wheat flour, wheat brans (that I didn’t use in this bread). Most of them were included in this recipe. Yes, you’ve got that right, another baking week with toasted wheat germ!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Focaccia with Rosemary and Tarragon herb oil

There seem to be many similarities between pizza, focaccia and ciabatta. Apart from one obvious similarity which is ‘they’re all Italian bread, they have the same dough consistency with the same hydration (water to flour ratio). They are all rustic and somewhat lean bread (with or without olive oil in them). Some of the cookbook also used the same recipe to produce these three breads and shape them differently.

I bake pizza often but hardly make focaccia. This was only the second time I made them. I used Peter Reinhart’s recipe from American Pie. The dough is prepared a day before and baked the next day. The recipe and process is somewhat similar to his pizza recipe in Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It called for cold water and overnight retardation straight after the mixing. The dough was relatively easy to mix by hand (I did this in a bowl with wet hands). The dough came together and the gluten was developed quickly, which I believe resulted from high level of water in the dough. Kneading dough with olive oil by hand was enjoyable. My hands and the dough were so soft and supple as a result.

From time to time, I had trouble shaping pizzas to the desired shape, size and thinness. The trouble also extended to transferring the pizza from bench to the baking stone. Making focaccia eliminates these issues as the dough is shaped and baked in trays or pans. Focaccia and pizza are similar in more ways than one. You can use the same dough to make focaccia or pizza. Toppings also work interchangeably between the two.

 I also adjusted the recipe a little by including 200 g of sourdough starter and reduce the amount of yeast by half (from 1.5 % to 0.75% in term of Baker’s Percentage). I made pure sourdough pizza before. Though it tasted great, it wasn’t as light as I wanted. In my opinion, the sourdough starter didn’t have enough power to rise against the topping. I decided to include both starter and yeast in this recipe for both flavour and rising ability.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ciabatta with toasted wheat germ and olive oil – wheat germ obsession continues

I have an obsession with wheat germ. I love its aroma and taste, especially when it is toasted and used for bread. I’m so obsessed that whenever I saw the recipe with wheat germs, I would jump to it.

Flipping through Bread cookbook by Jeffrey Hamelman, I came across Ciabatta with wheat germ and olive oil. The recipe is in the pre-ferment dough section that deserves more attention than I gave to it (I generally bake more with sourdough starter, and less with yeast). The flavour profile sounded promising, wheat germ and olive oil with high hydration dough (high water percentage to flour).

This was the second time I made Ciabatta. The first time, I used recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice cookbook. Reinhart’s shaping method was rather different from others. He shaped the dough by folding it into three-fold, like a letter fold. From my understanding, one of the characteristics of Ciabatta is random large-holes, which requires gentle shaping to retain the air pockets. This would mean minimum shaping, if any. I did some more searches on the shaping and reconfirmed (from Susan@Wild Yeast’s video and Jeffrey Hamelman instruction) that ciabatta need no shaping at all. Instead, ciabatta dough is gently patted into big rectangular dough piece and cut into a long wide strip. The big strip is then placed onto heavy floured baker’s linen to proof. The purpose is to not deflate the dough and retain the air pocket produced during fermentation. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rosewater Buttercream Macaron - Dare I compare to Laduree?

Yes, I have a love affair with rosewater. I love it with dessert especially for meringue kind of dessert. It is also best with macarons. Rosewater flavour is one of S’ favourite. Delicate floral flavour goes well with delicate texture of macarons.

I made rosewater macaron before with rosewater flavoured white chocolate ganache which was aromatic and lovely. I had Rose Macaron from Laduree when I was in Tokyo last year and loved the flavor. Its filling was light and subtle, which, I think was made from egg white buttercream. I had never made buttercream using egg white before, the so called Italian buttercream, so I can only guess. The flavor of Laduree's was good and that was it. The shells were too dry, too chewy and there wasn't enough filling in there.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Croissant Bread Pudding

I never had bread and butter pudding before (until now). The idea never really appealed to me. Bread soaked in milky custard. It sounded soggy and rather unpleasant. How wrong was I? Though it wasn’t love at first bite, it was rather nice! It’s rich, moist and perfect for winter.

Bread and butter pudding is a great way to use up stale bread. Breads are soaked in custard and baked until they are set. It can be served with fruits, chocolate sauce, etc. It is a popular Australian dessert, especially for kids.  S said that it was something he loved and reminded him of his childhood (his mom made this often when he was a kid). I think it makes a great snack for kids. It got bread, milk and eggs (and of course, sugar). Doesn’t it resemble a breakfast recipe? Sure is, I made this in the morning and had them for breakfast dessert (after let the bread soak up the custard overnight).

This one was baked in square tin andserved with sesame ice cream

I used recipe from Tartine cookbook. Instead of white bread, I made this with stale me-made croissants. Isn’t it great to turn stale croissant to something absolutely delicious. S loved it so much and he was like, “now, we don’t have to give away croissants anymore ‘coz we can turn them into this”. Umm, don’t think so, I still like to share the buttery croissants with others. Though, we are both active persons, I don’t think we can keep up with eating 12 – 15 croissants every weekend. I say, let’s continue with the spirit of sharing croissants as usual.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mixed Flour Sourdough with Wheat Germ - made with 7 types of flour!

Follow up on my previous post; multigrain pan bread made with 6 different types of flour, I wanted to find out the true flavour profile of mixed flour alone without the distraction of seeds and grains. This week’s bake was the result of that curiosity. The multigrain pan bread was really flavoursome, which I think was a result of tasty grains and seed mixtures. I also like to think that the flour mixture contributed to the bread’s exceptional taste as well. So, I set out to bake with just the same flour combination to find out.

I also upped the flour mixture to seven, by adding corn meal into the mix, which was all the kinds of flour in my pantry. Actually, there was one type of flour that got missed out, Italian Tipo 00 flour! Never mind, next time.  Seven different flour types in the recipe were bread flour (64%), whole wheat flour (15%), rye flour (5%), durum flour (5%), corn meal (polenta flour) (5%), rice flour (3%) and soy flour (3%). I also included toasted wheat germs (can’t help myself with my favourite) at 2.5% in the recipe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sour Lemon Cake - Dangerously Delicious

It’s time to revisit our all-time favourite cake; sour lemon cake. This cake is so dangerously delicious. So much so that I rarely make it as we would finish the cake in no time, way too quickly. Now, I only make this cake once a year (my disgruntled partner is not liking th idea).

It is a simple cake made with loads of lemon and its zest, and sour cream (and very quick to make). The cake is moist, rich, tart and zesty. The recipe came from Donna Hay magazine when they did feature on Bundt cakes few years ago. The feature was so beautiful and mouth watering that I rushed out to buy Bundt tins (yes, more than one tin, I’m really hopeless like that).

Bundt tin is decorative tin with tube in the middle. The tin works well with denser cake as the tube helps baking the cake evenly. I love cake baked in Bundt tin as it is pretty with little effort. It is also easy to portion the cake for serving following the ridges on the pattern.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Croissants made with poolish - the best so far, taste-wise

Having freshly baked croissants from your own oven for breakfast is something special, very special.  It makes perfect treat for weekend (that’s when I usually make croissants/laminated pastries). Umm… warm croissant with wonderful buttery aroma, what a fantastic way to spend the weekend.  Not only it tastes like heavenly, it smells like one too.Like anything else homemade, you-made croissant will taste better or at least equally nice as store-bought. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Multigrain Pan Bread -the new favorite bread

After last week’s super crusty bread, we decided to give our jaw a break with pan bread this week. Don’t get me wrong. I love crusty artisan bread but from time to time, you can’t help craving softer pan bread.

I’ve got Michel Suas’s Advance Bread and Pastry cookbook for a while now but haven’t made many things from it. So far, I have only made wholewheat croissant. I think I’m addicted to buying cookbooks. I bought too many books and don’t have enough time to read or use them. And still, I keep on buying more.

Flipping through Suas’s book, I came across Multigrain Pan Bread. Instantly, I was attracted to it for two reasons, multigrain and pan bread. I love multigrain bread for its flavour and texture (and also the health benefits). The recipe has interesting technique and flour mixture.  It used both pre-ferment (with yeast) and stiff-sourdough starter in the recipe. Both are at the same hydration as the final dough, which was very practical and easier to work with. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toasted Coconut Pandan Macarons - tastes, smells and feels like home

Pandan is a prominent feature in Asian dessert, especially for Southeast Asia region where I came from. Its use is similar to vanilla to western cooking, to flavour dessert and cakes. It is also used with meat and rice dishes (the popular chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, and rice cooked with pandan as examples).

Pandan leaves (Bai-toey inThai) is an upright green plant with fan-shaped sprays of long, narrow, bladelike leaves (source: It has fragrant, sweet and mellow aroma and usually available frozen at Asian grocery stores (or fresh if you live in Southeast Asia).

Pandan and coconut are classic food pairing in Asian dessert (like vanilla and milk/cream in western cuisine). It is used in cake, pudding, jelly, and many more. I wanted to try making Asian inspired macaron. Umm, sort of east meets west. Pandan and coconut was the first flavour that came to my mind.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chocolate Croissant - what's not to love!

My croissant project is coming along nicely. I have been practicing on croissant/laminated dough for the past couple of months. The results are getting more consistent and predictable.

Though there were hits and misses, I am happy that I could produce patisserie-like croissant. They might not have looked perfect but they tasted wonderful and as good as the patisserie-bought ones (at least, I’d like to think so).

Before I embarked on the croissant-making journey, I always thought that it was too hard to tackle. It was one of the things that should be left with professional, not home cook. This was simply wrong. Croissant/laminated dough can be made successfully…at home! It is probably not the easiest thing but it is possible. With practices, baking tips, good recipe, and the will, you can definitely make it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain

Vermont sourdough is one of my favourite bread. It is a flavourful plain sourdough made with wheat and rye flour. It is one of the most loved bread by many, especially among the artisan bread making community. I heard about the bread and its rave reviews before I bought Bread cookbook by Jeffrey Hamelman. As soon as I got the book, it was the first recipe I jumped to make.

I made both Vermont Sourdough and Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat several times in the past year but this was the first time I attempted this recipe (Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain).

There were serious typos in the formula for home-bake. Mixing the dough by following the ingredient list, I ended up with a pancake batter. I have heard about the big errata sheet for the book, but this was the first time I came across the recipe error myself. Thank God that at least there was no typo in Baker’s Percentage and liquid levain built. At least, I prepared starter built correctly and I corrected the ingredient errors by using the Baker’s Percentage.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rosewater Meringue

I started to think I had some sort of love affair with meringue. I love its sweetness and delicate crisp texture that melts in the mouth.

Apart from my biggest love affair with Macaron (the almond meringue cookie), I also love Pavlova; Australian (or New Zealander?, the argument  is an ongoing one on who actually can claim the title) famous Summer dessert.

I have made macarons way too many times and Pavlova quite a number of times but strangely enough, I have never made meringue. I mean pure meringue, little kisses kind of meringue just on its own. I was thinking about it and looking for the recipe few times but never feel motivated enough to make it. I think some recipes also make it too complicated as well and it was kind of put me off. For example, one of the recipes I came across suggested baking the meringue at really low temperature (around 100C – 120C) for hours and leaving them to dry for hours after that for the perfect crisp smooth texture.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Soft White Sandwich Bread with soy flour

I know, I know, of all the breads, why white bread, right? It doesn’t sound appealing, rather bland, nothing exciting! However, white bread is simply a staple and probably something most consumed. But it is something I don’t think  much about. It is only usual that one like to try different and fancy recipes, I suppose.

Somehow I ended up here baking basic white bread with two main motivations. One was that I wanted to experiment with soy flour in bread and it would be better to do it with simple basic recipe. The other was that I wanted to experiment making super soft sandwich bread by implementing intensive kneading as per txfarmer’s blog on The Fresh Loaf.

I based the recipe roughly on white bread recipe from Peter Rienhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentices cookbook.  I tweaked the recipe a little by including sourdough starter, reducing amount of yeast slightly and replace 5% of bread flour with soy flour.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Krantz (yeast) Cake with peanut praline and chocolate filling

I found this recipe in Dan Lepard’s Exceptional Cake cookbook. Given that it was book about cake, I didn’t expect to see baked goods with yeast in there, especially not for the dish called Krantz Cake.

Apparently (quoting Dan Lepard) yeast cake is a feature of German baking. I was curious to find out how yeast leavened cake would be different from baking powder or soda.

I expected the cake to have texture of soft bread, like brioche, something soft but still feel like bread. It actually turned out to be quite cakey soft, which I think resulted from the mixture of butter, egg yolks, cream cheese and sour cream in the dough (lots of fat and sugar going in there, which, come to think about it, was typical for cake). However, it wasn’t as crumbly and fluffy as the usual cake. It still got some chewy texture in it, which was rather nice. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake Macarons

Winter is the time where we have more lemons than opportunities to use them. Our house is full with lemons collected from S’mom. She grew the juiciest lemon ever. We don’t know what kind of lemon it is. It has thin skin and full of juice, which makes them perfect for making lemon curd and baking.

I’m not complaining for having lots of lemons. You can never have too many, really. They are versatile in baking and cooking and we are fond of them. They are good with roasted chicken, pasta, custard flavouring, tarts, drinks and the list can go on and on. And if all else fails, we can always turn them into lemonade. 

Among our many favourite lemon dishes, lemon curd is on the very top. I love them as is, as tart filling, and of course, with macarons. It was one of the first macaron flavours I made and love. Not only its tartness and zing complement the sweet delicate macaron shell well, it is also a perfect way to use the leftover egg yolks.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bourke Street Bakery's Spiced Fruit Sourdough - love it, love it, love it

Generally, I don’t make fruit breads often. Not that I don’t like them. I just have the tendency to bake more seeds and grains breads. I have two big bags of golden raisins and dried cranberry (about 1.5 kg each) from CostCo sitting and taking room in the pantry that I so wanted to use them up. Hence, there have been and will be more fruit bread baking in the coming months.

Come to think of it, I think I should stop shopping at CostCo. We’re a family of only two moderate eaters. It would take us efforts to finish those big packs of food. Apart from two big bags of dried fruits, I also have 1.5 kg of baking chocolate chips, 250g of vanilla paste, 1 kg of cultured butter, these will take us weeks, if not months to finish them. By the way, I’m thinking about those 1-kg bags of dried blueberries. I’m wondering what it would be like in bread. Sighhhhhh…don’t’ think I will get over the CostCo addiction anytime soon.

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).

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”).