Monday, June 27, 2011

Brioche Breakfast Plait (Dean Brettschneider)

Here's a recipe for a buttery brioche shaped into a plait from Dean Brettschneider's Global Baker cookbook. I have substituted cranberries for the dried apricots originally called for, and instead of kneading by hand following Dean's instructions, I've turned to my trusty Kenwood to do all the kneading. The texture of  the bread was amazingly soft & tender but somehow felt a tad dry on the palate - this baffled me considering a lot of butter went into this bread. I may have overbaked my bread a little, I'm not too sure. Anyway, I like to eat this bread toasted with a spread of jam ... and cream cheese!  The leftovers were just perfect made into french toasts and I think would be good for bread & butter pudding as well.  If you intend to make this bread, you need to have patience and start preparing the dough a day earlier as this recipe requires overnight refrigeration of the bread dough before baking.

Cranberry Brioche Breakfast Plait
(Recipe adapted from Global Baker by Dean Brettsneider)
Makes 1 plait.

250 grams strong bread flour
5 grams salt
25 grams sugar
5 grams/1 teaspoon dried yeast
4 small eggs, lightly beaten
125 grams softened butter, cut into small dice
150 grams dried cranberries
50 grams flaked almonds, for topping

Egg wash
1 egg
2 tablespoons water

Sift the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl - make a well in the centre and stir in three-quarters of the egg to form a soft dough.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes resting for 30 seconds every 2 - 3 minutes until smooth and elastic. This is to develop the protein structure of the flour.

Next, knead in the remaining egg slowly. The dough will move from being sticky & slimy to smooth, elastic and shiny over time.

Once this is done, slowly add in the butter bit by bit while kneading until the dough is elastic and silky.

Finally, knead cranberries into the dough.

Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let it rest in a warm place until doubled in size (may take about 1 hour).

Lightly flour your worktop, tip the risen dough onto it  and very gently fold the dough back onto itself  3 to 4 times. Return it to the lightly oiled bowl to rest, covered, overnight in the fridge (for 12 - 15 hours).
The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, cut it into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope. Then plait these ropes to form your loaf.

Place it onto a baking paper lined tray, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size (may take 2-3 hours).

Once risen, brush with the eggwash and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Look how much it grew!

Bake in a preheated 200°C/350°F oven for about 20-25 minute or until golden and cooked through. (Cover the top of the plait with foil if it gets too brown).

Once baked, remove the plait from oven and place it on a wire rack to cool.


I am submitting this entry to 'Aspiring Bakers #8 - Bread Seduction' hosted by Jasmine of  'The Sweetylicious' (Details here).  Have any bread recipe you'd like to share? Do join in the fun too!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Steamed Pumpkin Buns

I had seen these bright orangey steamed buns from Wendy of Table of 2 and bookmarked the recipe sometime ago. I had actually forgotten about it until I saw this recipe again shared by  Lena  in her blog Frozen Wings. I knew then that I had to try out the recipe at last, lest I forget again.  Just like how Lena decribed them, they were indeed soft & fluffy and sweet, wonderful eaten just plain without any fillings. Somehow mine were not as bright orange as Wendy's or Lena's but it didn't really matter, they were really good and I just couldn't have enough of these.  As with all steamed buns, they were best eaten warm. A keeper recipe, this.

I am submitting this entry to 'Aspiring Bakers #8 - Bread Seduction' hosted by sweet Jasmine of  'The Sweetylicious' (Details here).

Steamed Pumpkin Buns
60gm sugar
90gm pumpkin puree
1tsp instant dry yeast
150gm pau flour (or use superfine flour)
1tsp double action baking powder
10gm butter

1. Combine sugar, pumpkin puree and yeast.
2. Combine pau flour, double action baking powder and butter and mix to form crumbs.
3. Pour (1) into (2) and mix to form dough.
4. Knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky.
5. Cover and let dough proof in a warm place until double in size.
6. After proofing, punch down the dough and knead for 2 mins and divide dough into 8 pieces.
7. Take a piece of dough, mould it round then flaten into an oblong. Slowly roll up like swiss roll and put it on a piece of parchment paper. Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough.
8. Cover and let buns proof for 2nd time for another 45 mins.
9. Steam on high heat for 12 mins.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

About UFOs and Cow Pies

UFO's, anyone?

Here's  my recreation of a popular tart known as UFO, and  among the Chinese speaking community Cow Pie Tart! Call whichever way you like, but Cow Pie seems more endearing to me. Haha, I'm crude!
This delicious tart is a specialty originating from Sandakan, an east coast town in Sabah. It is basically a thin sponge cake with a creamy custard  topping surrounded by soft billowy meringue. This tart or rather cake is usually sold in old style Chinese coffee shops. One tart is never enough, and growing up, I remember this cow pie tart is bought by the carton. In those days, as styrofoam boxes were unheard of  and  take away boxes were not common, empty cigarette cartons were used to pack the cow pies! I still remember the smell of  eggy deliciousness intermingling with tobacco. Ah, nostalgia. 

How about some Cow Pies?

Sponge Sheet Cake
(recipe adapted from Essential Pastries & Cakes by Jimmy Chang)

5 large eggs
100g icing sugar
30ml water
30ml vegetable oil
100gm superfine flour
1tsp vanilla essence

1) Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until thick fluffy and pale.
2) Sift in flour and vanilla essence. Fold gently until well combined.
3) In another bowl, mix water and oil together. Add in 1/3 of the batter and mix well. Then combine with the rest of the remaining batter.
4) Pour into a baking paper lined swiss roll pan. Bake at 170C for 9 minutes  or until skewer comes out clean when tested.

Pastry Cream
(recipe adapted from Corner Cafe here)

500ml milk
4 egg yolks
110g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
4 tbsp cornflour
1 pinch salt (only if not adding butter, or using unsalted butter)
50g unsalted butter, for additional shine and firmness

1. Whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk (60ml), sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in cornflour and salt (if using).
2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk to just below boiling point. Slowly pour the hot milk in small stream into the egg mixture while stirring constantly with a whisk (very important). Once incorporated, pour everything back into the saucepan.
3. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and firms up. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
4. Pour the hot custard into a bowl and plunge the bottom of the bowl into another larger bowl of iced-water to cool, give it a whisk. (Or you could transfer the hot custard into a wide bowl, then cover with  clingfilm  pressed against it  and leave aside to cool completely.) Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

4 egg whites
6 tablespoons caster sugar

Beat egg whites and caster sugar until fluffy, shiny and stiff. Do not overbeat. The meringue  should be smooth when piped out.(I had overbeaten mine a little. Hence, the lumpy appearence.)

With a 3 inch round cookie cutter, stamp out individual cake bases from the sponge sheet. Then, using a piping bag, pipe meringue  on top of cake base along the cicumference to make a wall to contain the pastry cream. Once that's done, pipe the pastry cream to fill the middle. Turn on the grill function of your oven (upper heat element) and  bake until the meringue is lightly browned. You can also do this with a blowtorch if you own one. Done!
Note: There will be a lot of leftover pastry cream and meringue. I'd suggest cutting the respective recipes in half.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Swiss Roll with Stawberry Jam Filling

Out of the blue my Daughter, G requested for a swiss roll cake. Peculiarly she dislikes cream filling in swiss rolls and insisted that the swiss roll I make is filled with strawberry jam. And mind you not any strawberry jam will do. It has to be ARTIFICIAL strawberry jam; you know, those cheapo bright red coloured jams with zero fruit content. Yes, my G is quirky sometimes. But I can see why she preferred the artificial strawberry jam. The cheapo jam does not contain any fruit pieces and hence, no seeds will get in the way, so to speak. The jam is just basically a  strawberry flavoured jelly and it is also what I suspect most bakeries are using in their filled donuts and cakes. I've to admit I quite like it myself, reminds me of the donuts I used to eat by the bagful during my student days  :P

Here it is, simple swiss roll recipe (adapted from Baking Library here) with artificial strawberry jam.


80g egg yolks, room temperature
25g castor sugar
2tbs + 1 tsp corn oil
2tbs + 1 tsp water or milk
75g cake flour
160g egg whites
60g castor sugar

strawberry jam, or any jam or filling of your choice


1) Preheat oven to 180 °C and line a 12 x 12 inch tin or 10 x 14 inch swiss roll tin with baking/parchment paper.

2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 25g castor sugar, vegetable oil and water until combined. Sift in cake flour and mix until smooth.

3) In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs whites starting with low speed. When the egg whites turn frothy, slowly increase the speed to high and wisk until egg whites reach soft peaks stage. Gradually add the 60g sugar and continue whisking until egg whites are stiff but still not dry. The egg whites should stay intact when the bowl is overturned.

4) Fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten the mixture. Then incorporate the rest of the egg whites one third at a time.  Fold in gently and scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula until batter is well combined and uniformly coloured. Becareful not to deflate.

5) Pour batter into the prepared swiss roll tin. Level the batter and bake for 8 - 11 minutes. Cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow sheet cake to cool.

6) Carefully turn the baked sheet cake onto a piece of baking/parchment paper. Slowly peel off the attached baking/parchment paper from the cake. Place a new piece of baking/parchment paper over the sponge. Invert the sponge again, carefully. Now, peel of the top piece of baking/parchment paper. The skin would be stuck to the baking/parchment paper and would be removed.

7) With the shorter side/breadth facing you (if using 10 x 14 inch pan), make a shallow slit across the breadth of the cake with a knife, one inch from the edge. Spread on the strawberry jam. Roll the cake up tightly and trim off the ugly ends. Serve.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baked Doughnuts

You'd be surprised how soft & moist these are! 

Baked doughnuts, anyone? Personally I prefer the deep fried ones, heck anything deep fried is yummy in my books, but if you're looking to save on cooking oil and you loathe cleaning up greasy mess, these baked doughnuts are for you! One thing though, if  you're watching your calories, these may not be as low fat as you may think and in my opinion certainly not that much healthier. For sure you'll feel less guilty but don't be fooled just because these doughnuts are baked instead of fried. They are really in fact not much lower in fat if you look at the butter content in the recipe and  furthermore, these doughnuts need to be brushed with additional melted butter once baked to keep the crust tender. If you're watching your weight and every little calorie counts, you shouldn't be eating a doughnut in the first place anyway! But who's counting? Certainly not me, not now ... later maybe. Haha!

I am submitting this entry to 'Aspiring Bakers #8 - Bread Seduction' hosted by sweet Jasmine of  'The Sweetylicious' (Details here).
Baked any bread this month? Do join in the fun too!

Baked Doughnuts
(Recipe adapted from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni)

Makes  10 to 14 doughnuts


1 egg
¼ cup (60gm) granulated sugar
1 cup milk, heated to 115 °F (46 °C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ to 3½ cups (300gm to 420gm) all purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
1 stick butter (4 ounces or 115gm), cut into 1″ cubes


In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add in the milk, yeast, salt, and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and then add in 2 cups of the flour. Attach the dough hook and then on medium speed, add the butter one piece at a time until smooth. Reduce the speed to low, and then add the rest of the flour until the dough sticks to the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should be soft and moist, but not sticky.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a mixing bowl coated with cooking spray and cover with a damp towel. Let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and roll it out to about ½” thickness. With doughnut or cookie cutter, cut out 3″ circles with 1″ holes.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C). On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the doughnuts 1″ apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Bake until light golden in color, 5-8 minutes. Brush with melted butter and then coat with icing sugar or glaze of your choice. Serve immediately. Doughnuts are best eaten while still warm.

I let my stand mixer do the kneading using  the dough hook on medium speed. I used  a mixture of bread flour and all purpose flour just because I didn't have enough of all purpose flour on hand. I used a total  of 3 1/2  cups flour. I also needed a longer baking time for my doughnuts to turn light golden brown about 12 minutes (but that's just my oven).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chinese Roast Pork (Siew Yuk)

Ready to be devoured!

Woohoo, my first ever Chinese roast pork! I've been wanting to make this for ages. Crispy crackling skin and juicy moist meat,  can you see I'm in porky heaven?! What's more, this coming from my own humble little cheapo oven. :)

There are so many versions of this Chinese style roast pork. Some use vinegar to glaze on the skin and some use fermented red beancurd (nam yue) in the marinade. Some even call to fry the pork skin side down  prior to roasting while some advise on blanching the pork in boiling water. Naturally, being a lazy shortcut cook I chose the simplest recipe which involves the least steps & handling, from Ancoo Journal here.  Who would have thought, Chinese roast pork can be this easy! 

Chinese Roast Pork


1 kg pork belly
1/2 Tbsp coarse salt
1/2 Tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine or Shao Xing wine
additional salt to rub on skin


1. In a bowl, mix marinade together. Rub marinade on the pork belly (which has been scored lightly) EXCEPT THE SKIN. Place the marinated side down on a container so it can sit and absorb the flavors.  Pat dry the skin with kitchen paper, then with the sharp point of a knife prick holes all over the skin. Generously rub and pat salt on the skin.

2. Place pork in the fridge over night, SKIN SIDE UP, uncovered to allow skin to dry up as much as possible.

3. The next day, preheat oven at 180C. Remove pork from the fridge and pat dry if there is any moisture left. Place the pork on a grilling rack with an aluminium sheet lined pan underneath to catch drippings. Roast pork for 45 mins then switch temperature to 200C for another 20 mins or until the skin is a little burnt and charred ( this is how you know the skin is crisp all the way through and not chewy on the bottom). Remove pork from oven, scrape off any blackened burnt parts with a serrated knife and leave to rest for 10 mins before chopping. If you find the pork skin is still not crispy, you can  turn on the grill (top heat only) and grill further until you get crispy crackling skin. Or do what I did, place the pork near the top heating element during roasting to speed up the crackling process. 

Note:  To ensure the skin will not come apart from the meat during slicing/chopping., turn the pork over upside down (skin side down).
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