Tuesday, August 30, 2011

mixed fruits soda bread

After the 1st trial at making soda bread, I find myself making it again last weekend. This time, other than almond bits I added half cup of cranberries and raisins (pre-soaked in rum). Since there was leftover rum from the soaking process, I decided to add a tablespoon of it into the recipe as well.

Instead of making 2 smaller loaves as what I did in the 1st trial, I put all the dough into a bigger loaf.

The bread has a slight hint of alcohol presence, which is very pleasant, and because of the sweetness from fruits, I find this version to be nice on it's own or with milder tasting spread, like butter. By the way, I am still pregnant (full term, very heavily pregnant actually) and not supposed to consume alcohol but I guess after the baking process, not much alcohol content is left in the bread, :p.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

baking recipe books

For a long while, I had been resisting the temptation to buy baking recipe book... the reason is simple, because there are simply just too many wonderful baking related blogs and websites with countless recipes for me to surf online. Plus... I am slightly running out of bookshelf space at home :)

2 weeks ago, I finally succumbed to the temptation and ordered a few recipe books on amazon.com.cn when I found out that one of my colleagues stationed in Beijing will be making a trip back Singapore soon. For those who are not aware, amazon.com.cn offers great selection of Chinese books at a good discount & really a lot of other stuff online, but too bad their free delivery is limited to within China. I went on a book shopping spree and bought 10 books online, 3 of them are baking books, while the rest are baby related titles and some leisurely reads for myself.

Last week, I got my books, thanks to Agnes who helped to collect and pay for the books and Meishih who carried them all the way back to Singapore.

The 3 books on baking that I bought are 西式糕点制作大全by川上文代(Fumiyo Kawakami), 从零开始学烘培by文怡and轻松学烘培by贝太厨房.

西式糕点制作大全is the most detailed of all 3, there are standard steps for each category of dessert (cakes, biscuits, tarts etc), including some Japanese and South East Asian desserts. For each category, Kawakami illustrated in detail the step-by-step process involved and at the end of it she added elaboration on how to avoid failure. I find that it is useful she also put in variations that can be achieved using the standard steps.

从零开始学烘培is the most fun to read, with the author adding some tips accompanying each recipe. Some of the tips are related to steps in the recipe, some are just additional knowledge about a particular ingredient used. I find it less comprehensive compared to Kawakami's but it suits my personality more. I like easy read and Kawakami's is too textbook like. I earmarked quite a number of recipes on this book that I would like to try out in near future.

轻松学烘培is the most simple and straightforward of all 3. Though there are tips at the end of most recipes as well, they are written in point form and are of no nonsense style. One minor flaw that I found out while trying out one of the recipe inside is that the publisher didn't include in how much the recipe will yield.

While online info comes really easy these days, I always think that having a physical book to hold, to flip and to read, remains one of life's simple pleasure. Recipe book may not make a typical read but I will not be surprised if I find myself keep returning to these recipe books, looking for inspiration.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

wholemeal almond soda bread

Hubby and I went for dinner at Osia at Resort World Sentosa last Friday. The bread there was .. oh.. so yummy. And so was the pistachio cream cheese spread that came with the bread, nicely presented in a tube. When we asked to bring home the leftover cream cheese in the tube, we were told that it has to be kept refrigerated and must be consumed within a day.

So immediately the next day, I took out the soda bread recipe that I kept away all these while, intending to try my hands at making bread for the first time to go with the pistachio cream cheese spread.

Wholemeal Almond Soda Bread

cake flour 150 g
wholemeal flour 100 g
baking powder 1//2 tbs
baking soda 1/2 tsp
salt 1/4 tsp
sugar 1 tbsp
almond bits 1/2 cup
milk 100 ml
plain yogurt 100 ml

1. Toast the almond bits in toaster for approx 5 mins or til almonds are slightly brown and emit a nice aroma.
2. Mix milk and yogurt.
3. Put all dry ingredients in a big bowl, mix with hand, pour in all the wet ingredients. Using chopsticks, mix til all ingredients form a dough batter. Do not over mix else bread will turn out hard.
4. Use hand to form a round dough and put on baking tray lined with parchment paper.
5. Sift some flour on the dough, mark a cross using knife dipped thru water.
6. Bake at 170 degree C in preheated oven for 30 mins or until toothpick inserted came out clean.

recipe adapted from樱的烘培日志.

I divided the dough into 2 portions, making 2 smaller round breads instead of a bigger one. I tested with toothpick at 25 mins and the breads were done. Though I read that soda bread does not rise much, I didn't expect the breads to retain almost the same size as the raw dough. Oh, and since I didn't flour or oil the parchment paper, certain parts of the breads sticked to the paper. I shall remember to do that the next time.

The bread turned out to be slightly crunchy on the outside and full of nutty flavour. The texture was dense and surprisingly quite moist (though not as moist as cake texture since there were no butter or oil used). It went very well with the leftover pistachio cream cheese and needless to say, the whole tube of cream cheese disappeared down our tummies before the breads even had a chance to turn cold.

The next day, we put cheese and 'bakwa' (Chinese BBQ meat) on the soda bread and toasted them together in the toaster for breakfast. The bread tasted equally delicious, especially with the slightly melted cheese. I will certainly be experimenting more with this recipe in the future.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

cranberry butter cookies

Butter cookie has always been one of my personal favourite since childhood. The fragrant, the melt-in-your-mouth texture, the rich taste of butter... all of that coupled by the fact that butter cookie was hard to come by during those days, made butter cookie one of the highlight of festive seasons like CNY or occasions for celebration like birthdays.

Nowadays, with cookies getting more sophisticated with new tastes and concepts, the good old simple butter cookie still has a special place on my cookie list. Though now, I am much more conscious of its butter and sugar content.

Maybe because of the high expectation I have for butter cookie or the fear of disappointment, I had never tried making butter cookie at home. When I came across this cranberry butter cookie recipe that doesn't look too difficult to make, I decided that I should have a go at it.

Cranberry Butter Cookie

115g cake flour
1 tbsp egg (beaten)
75g butter
60g sugar (I cut down to 50g)
35g cranberry

1. Mix sugar with melted butter until combine. No need to beat.
2. Add in the beaten egg. Mix until combine.
3. Fold in the cranberry. Mix until combine.
4. Fold in the flour and mix until combine. Use hand to mold the batter into the shape of a rectangular block (approx 4 cm x 6 cm). Cover with parchment paper and refrigerate in the fridge for at least an hour for batter to harden (remember, not the freezer).
5. When the batter block has hardened, cut the block into pieces of approx 0.7 cm thick.
6. Bake in oven preheated at 180 degree C for approx. 20 mins.

The cookies turned out absolutely as tasty as any butter cookies should be, with cranberries adding some chewy texture. Phew.. at least I can say I did not do any injustice to my old time favourite.

Recipe adapted from 君之's blog.

Monday, August 8, 2011

peach yogurt muffin

Hubby and I went for dinner at an Italian restaurant near Tanjong Pagar MRT a couple of weeks ago and the restaurant manager there had been so kind to give us a jar of Italian preserved peach after the dinner to bring home. That jar of preserved peach is softer than the standard off-the-shelf preserved peach in a tin and they go really well with plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

Last weekend, I was contemplating what to bake for snacks when I saw the jar with half finished peaches in the fridge. I immediately thought that the peaches would be lovely if used in place of the blueberry in the blueberry yogurt muffin 1 recipe.

Again, the muffin came out moist, soft and tasty. And oh, I like the slightly caramelised look of the peach on top of the muffin, makes them look extra attractive, I think.

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