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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.