oink

to eat to drink to bake to cook to live

Category: Bread and Pastry (page 1 of 3)

Maneesh

I am a bread snob. It all started when I made my first loaf of bread. I realised that making bread can be really easy or really tough. Whatever techniques that I choose to use, the result is (almost) the same–I got myself a beautifully baked, chewy and delicious loaf of bread.

Bread, when made without preservative, goes stale really fast–the next day to be exact. And this also means how much preservatives are added to our supermarket’s bread to extend its shelf life. I do admit that to make a good loaf of bread takes time, effort and perhaps techniques. However once you have tasted your fruit of labour, you will not go back (I think, I hope).

Maneesh is currently my favourite bread to make. You do not have to knead for a long time and it uses one of my favourite condiments–za’atar. Za’atar is a type of herb that is related to the oregano and thyme family. It is also the name for a blend of herb and spice which made up of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and so on. In my case, I am using the latter. Maneesh is a great accompaniment to dips such as baba ganoush, labneh, and hummus. Of course, it is delicious on its own.

Maneesh
(Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake)
If you are not making maneesh for a big group, you can easily half the recipe. Like most bread, this is best eaten on the day it is made.

Ingredients
1)       500g strong white bread flour
2)       10g salt
3)       25g caster sugar
4)       10g instant yeast
5)       320ml tepid water (room temperature)
6)       3 tablespoons za’atar
7)       Olive oil

Methods
-            In a large-sized bowl or stand mixer bowl, add in the flour. Place salt and sugar at one end of the bowl and the yeast at the other end. If the yeast comes in contact with the salt, it will lose its ability to be “activated”.
-            Add in ¾ of the water, and using either your hands or stand mixer (dough hook, medium speed) and start mixing. What you want to achieve is a soft dough. Hence you may or may not need to use all the water. The side of the bowl should be clean and the dough should be soft and not shaggy.
-            If you are using a stand mixer, lightly coat the side of the bowl with olive oil. On medium speed (dough hook), work the dough for about 10 minutes until you get a soft and smooth skin. If you are using your hands, oil your work surface and knead the dough for around 10-15 minutes until you get a soft and smooth skin. Once you achieve the right texture, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover and let it proof for at least 1 hour.
-            Line 3-4 baking trays with parchment paper or silicone pat.
-            Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly oiled work surface. Knead the dough for a minute to knock all the air. Once done, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, and roll each into a large circle around 30cm in diameter. You can also divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a circle. If you are not good at dividing the dough, use a scale (I do! Oh I also standby a calculator too.).
-            Place the rolled flat dough onto the baking trays, and cover them with cling wrap and proof for about 20 minutes. While the dough is proofing, preheat you oven to 230oC and make the topping for the bread. In a small bowl, mix the za’atar with enough olive oil to make a thick paste.
-            Once the dough is proofed, lightly brush each piece with olive oil. Using your hands, lightly spread the za’atar topping on each piece. Bake for 20-25 minutes minutes (For smaller pieces, bake for 15 minutes) or until golden brown.
-            Cool on a wire rack.

Chicken empanada with chorizo

I made ‘ang moh” curry puff! Once again I succumbed to greediness and made empanadas. As you know how much I love making pastries, thanks to Clara who posted a picture of a huge box of empanadas. This caused me to have an equally huge craving for them.

oink’s lunch – a sandwich

Working in the Central Business District (CBD) area can be quite scary for someone who don’t like crowd (read: ME). I am not used to the sheer number of people that can be compact in one place. Though there are some great eats around CBD, I am unwilling to queue or be squashed in one place. There is a few solutions to this problem. I can do takeaways or have my lunch at odd times. Of course, I choose to torture myself by bringing my own lunch to work.

By preparing my own food, I eliminate the problem of deciding what to eat for lunch. The other benefits also include saving money and feeding my tummy with healthy food. I do not bring my own lunch every day – I try to do it at least twice a week (if possible). In addition, I do my best not to bring leftovers – chances are there is not much nutrients and flavours in them.

Depending on what I am preparing, I would wake up half an hour to an hour earlier and start cooking my lunch. If I am on a time crunch, a sandwich is definitely the way to go.

I am not a fan of just slapping ham and lettuce in two slices of bread. I like my sandwich to have some “body” – I want it to be packed with flavour, and it must be fresh too. I like my bread to be more substantial – partly to fill my stomach and partly to prevent the sandwich from getting soggy. Ciabatta or baguette is often my choice of bread.

Besides choosing the right bread, there is a few ways to ensure you don’t get yourself a “wet” sandwich. One way is to spread butter or condiments such as mustard on the bread. This will become a protective layer, preventing any watery filling from penetrating into the bread. Next is the way you prep and layer the fillings. If tomato is involved, you might want to deseed it so it doesn’t get watery and mushy. And they should be placed in the middle to avoid any contact with the bread. Fillings like ham, lettuce, cheese can be placed on top or bottom of the sandwich as they have low water content.

This particular sandwich I made comprised of cured meat (that I bought from Perth), Gouda cheese, tomato, alfalfa sprouts and mustard. The sharpness from the mustard and sprouts went very well with the smoky cured meat. The cheese and tomato bring that bit of creaminess to the sandwich. When I was preparing the sandwich, I thought it look pretty small. But it was very filling. It kept me full throughout the day and I didn’t reach out for a snack.

King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart

I hate pies and tarts. Rather I hate making them. I do love the process of getting the crust done – the rubbing of butter into the flour (oh and it’s good for your skin too), getting the dough together. However I drag when it is time to roll the dough. Firstly, I don’t have a huge workspace to roll out the dough (size of a chopping board). And the weather in Singapore is not helping – the kitchen tends to be humid which is nightmare when rolling out high fat content dough. The final process of placing the rolled out dough into the pan is nerve wrecking. I always make sure I have some leftover dough so I can do some patchwork.

When my food stylist friend B gave me punnets of fresh berries, I needed to figure out what to do with them. The berries were juicy and sweet – I could just pop them in my mouth non-stop. But she has given me so much and I need to use them fast (raspberries and blackberries really don’t last long in the fridge). I don’t want to make jam. So my only solution – a tart.

I flipped through a couple of cookbooks – some of the recipes just scared me. And finally, I settled on King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart. I am a huge fan of KAF – the day I found out that Singapore is selling KAF’s flour could be the happiest day of my life. King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion is also my best friend. This is one cookbook I can rely on for easy to follow recipes – savoury or sweet.

I am not going to kid you that making this tart was easy. I was glad it didn’t give me a heart attack. There were moments where I thought this tart was not going to make it. After I blind baked the tart, part of the parchment paper was stuck on it (I might have gone overzealous with my pie weight), and I needed to do some “emergency” patchwork (note: always keep the leftover dough). And when I remove the tart tin, and my crust was intact, I almost cry (the trick is be brave and be swift in removing the tin). This was one scary tart.

However as I started to assemble the tart – spreading the pastry cream, putting the berries on top and seeing how pretty the tart is – my risen blood pressure just went down. When I brought the tart to my friends’ office, everyone was going “wow” and everything was demolished. No crumbs no cream was left.

King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion)
There are two major component to this tart – pâte sucrée (which is a sweet pastry that falls between a piecrust and a cookie) and pastry cream. I would suggest that you make pâte sucrée first as the dough needs some time to rest. While it is resting, you can work on the pastry cream. I believed the key to making a good pie or tart is courage. It is not about whether you have the skills to roll out the dough in that perfect round shape. It is about taking that first step to make everything from scratch, and brave enough to attempt.

Make one 9”-10” tart

Pâte Sucrée
Ingredients
1)      150g pastry or all-purpose flour (I like to use half and half – pastry flour helps to achieve that crumbly texture)
2)      1 teaspoon malt milk powder (Horlicks) (optional)
3)      40g caster sugar
4)      ¼ teaspoon salt
5)      115g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
6)      1 large egg yolk
7)      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8)      1 tablespoon of (iced) water

Methods
-        In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, malt milk powder, sugar and salt together. Rub in the cubed butter till you almost achieve a sandy texture.  At this stage, I don’t want my mixture to be too sandy – I actually quite like it if there are some lumps of butter.
-        In a measuring cup or a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and water together.
-        Add in the vanilla extract into the flour mixture – you can either mix it with your hand or with a fork.
-        Slowly pour in the water and egg mixture into the flour mixture. Do not add everything into the mixture. You might not need that much liquid. The dough should be crumbly yet hold together when squeezed tightly.
-        Wrap the finished dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour before you roll the dough out.
-        Once rested, remove the dough from fridge and let it set to the room temperature for a few minutes before you roll it out.
-        Preheat the oven to 190oC.
-        Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough ensuring that it is able to cover the tart pan. Once the pan is covered with the dough, roll out or cut off the excess dough. Do not throw away the excess dough, you might need to cover up any patches.
-        Prick the pie crust all over with a fork.
-        To prepare a blind-baked, ready to fill crust, weigh down the pie crust by lining it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights.
-        Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is set.
-        Gently remove the weights and parchment paper, and return to the oven to bake for another 6-8 minutes, until golden brown. If you are as careless as me (yay), and some of the pie crust is stuck to the parchment, use some of the excess dough, flatten it as thin as possible and patch up any holes.
-        Remove the tart from the oven and cool before releasing the tin and filling it with cream.

Berry cream tart
Ingredients
Pastry cream filling
1)      40g granulated sugar
2)      1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3)      2 teaspoon cornstarch
4)      ¼ teaspoon salt
5)      1 large egg
6)      1 cup milk
7)      42g unsalted butter, softened
8)      ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
1)      570g of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (you can also use sliced strawberries)

Glaze
1)      ½ cup apricot jam, melted and strained

Methods
Pastry cream
-        In a heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and egg together.
-        In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking continually to make everything smooth.
-        Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, return to heat and bring back to a boil.
-        Stir constantly with your whisk – the mixture will thicken quickly and whisking will help to prevent it from getting lumpy.
-        Once the pastry cream boil in the centre or what I like to call burp in the middle of the saucepan, remove it from the heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
-        Pour the pastry cream in a bowl and place a plastic wrap on the surface to prevent skin from forming, refrigerate and use when needed. If you like, before you pour the cream into the bowl, you can pass it through a sieve. This will help to ensure a smoother pastry cream (and get rid any “scrambled egg”).
-        Once the tart is ready, pour the pastry cream into the tart shell. Using an offset spatula or a knife, gently smooth the surface of the tart.
-        Place the berries neatly on the tart. I did a few rows of blueberries, then a row of raspberries and a row of blackberries. Though I love a rustic tart, this is the one time I feel the need to be orderly and neat.
-        If you are not going to serve the tart immediately, add the glaze to keep the berries looking their best.

Glaze
-        Melt the apricot jam, thinning it with a little water if necessary. Strain or scoop out any solids.
-        Brush the glaze over the berries to seal the top of the tart.

St John’s afternoon buns

A couple of days ago, my friend Betti asked me if I could share with her my favourite bread recipe. Of course I said yes.

Hello dough!

Over the years, my favourite bread recipe kind of changes according to my mood and the time I have. There was a period of time I was madly in love with this recipe. And then another recipe came along – started well but the more I made, the worse it became (don’t ask me why. I have zero clues). If I wanted something more decadent (read: arteries clogging), I would opt for a brioche. However this year, St John’s afternoon buns just stole my heart.

These afternoon buns are served at the famed St John’s Hotel, London during tea time. They have three different flavoured buns – anchovies, prune and chocolate. However I made them plain and discovered they were absolutely delicious.

St John’s afternoon bun

The plain buns also became my “multi-purpose” buns. I served them with oeuf en cocotte. I stuffed them with tuna, anchovies, olives and capers. I even used them as hamburger buns. So I think it is safe to say these babies are my favourites for the year.

St John’s Afternoon Buns
(Barely adapted from Jamie, Issue 27, March/ April 2012)

Makes 24 buns

Ingredients
1)      600g strong white flour or bread flour
2)      2 teaspoon salt
3)      40g caster sugar
4)      330ml water (I like to use lukewarm water, temperature around 46oC)
5)      10g dried yeast or instant yeast
6)      1 large egg
7)      50g butter, cubed and softened
8)      Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with milk) for brushing

Chocolate Filling
1)      8 squares of 70% cocoa chocolate
2)      Cocoa Powder for dusting

Prune Filling
1)      8 prunes

Anchovy Filling
1)      3 garlic cloves
2)      25g tinned anchovies in oil, drained
3)      1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4)      1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Methods
-        Combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and egg (excluding the egg wash’s egg) in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on a medium speed. Slowly add in the water and continue mixing for about 6-8 minutes, or until the dough is coming away from the sides. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
-        Start the mixer up again on a medium speed and slowly add in the cubed butter bit by bit to the dough. You might need to scrap the side to ensure all the butter is incorporated into the dough.
-        Once incorporated, increase the speed to high and mix for another minute. At the end, you should be able to get a smooth and shiny dough. I like to “pull and fold” my dough before I let it rest. I think it looks pretty (like a baby butt) and helps to make the rise smoother.
-        Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave the mix to relax for 10 minutes. At this stage, you can leave the dough to relax for up to an hour. There are times I do forget to check on my dough.
-        Line a baking sheet with parchment (or using a non-stick baking tray). Turn the dough out on a work surface, and divide into 24 pieces. What I would usually do is weigh the dough and divide the weight accordingly. In this way, I am guaranteed to have equal size buns.
-        You can roll the dough into balls. Or I prefer the “pull and fold” method. I pull the sides of the dough and fold it in.
-        For the chocolate and prune buns, push a piece of the chocolate/ prune into the centre of each ball, pulling the dough around it so that it is completely enclosed, and reshape the dough into a ball.
-        Move all the buns to the baking tray, leaving room for them to spread and ensuring you know which is which.
-        Using a spray bottle (or pastry brush), lightly spray a thin layer of water and leave them in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size*. What I like to is I would warm up the oven at 100oC for 15 minutes and switched it off and I will leave the tray of dough inside. And 10 minutes before baking time, I will remove them from the oven.
-        Meanwhile, you can start on the anchovy filling. Blend the garlic and a pinch of black pepper to a fine puree in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Add the anchovies and blend/ bash until they break down. Gradually add enough oil to make a thick paste, then stir in the vinegar. Check seasoning and set aside.
-        10 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 200oC. Because this is a bread recipe, it is very important to make sure the oven is hot enough. This is why I always stick an oven thermometer to check on the temperature.
-        Brush the egg wash over the buns. Dust the chocolate buns with cocoa powder as well. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
-        Slice the anchovy (or plain) buns in half while warm, spread with the filling and sandwich together. Eat warm.
-        These buns will keep for 2 days in an airtight container.

*The original recipe actually suggested covering the dough with a damp tea towel. When I did that, the dough raised and stuck onto the towel. Hence I decided to use a spray bottle so that the dough will not dry out.

Lara Ferroni’s baked cinnamon sugar doughnuts

When I was a kid, it was always a rare treat when my parents brought me to the confectionary – there were so many things to see and smell. Cakes were decorated with Doraemon, Hello Kitty, freshly baked buns from the oven and like any kids, my favourite was doughnuts on a stick.

I do not know who came up with this way of eating doughnut. Sugary cake bread on a stick means parents don’t have to worry the doughnut would fall onto the ground and the kids won’t get their hands dirty. It is genius.

Now as an adult, I will still go to Four Leaves and sneak in a pack of their sugary doughnuts and start munching on them. It just takes a few minutes and the whole packet is empty.

I have always wanted to make doughnuts. But I don’t want to fry them. I don’t want to mess up my kitchen and seeing all that oil goes to waste is such a shame. So I was very happy when my friend, Biona showed me a recipe on baked doughnuts by Lara Ferroni.

It is not difficult to make the dough as most of the work will be done by the stand mixer. The only thing you need to have is patience – waiting for the dough to rise can be quite torturing.

If you do not have a cookie cutter, you can use the rim of a jar and a shot glass or simply use a small glass (you don’t really need the hole in the middle). Do eat the doughnuts while they are warm – they are so light and fluffy, you need to have some self control and stop yourself from popping all of them into your mouth.

Baked cinnamon sugar doughnuts

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts
(Adapted from Lara Ferroni’s Doughnuts)

Makes about 24 doughnuts

Ingredients
1)      1 small egg
2)      25g caster sugar
3)      ½ cup (120ml) whole milk, heated to 46oC
4)      1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
5)      ½ teaspoon salt
6)      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7)      250g – 300g all-purpose flour
8)      60g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

Toppings
1)      60g unsalted butter, melted
2)      100g caster sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Methods
-        In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar on medium speed until blended. This will take about 1 minute. Add in the warm milk, yeast, salt and vanilla extract and blend.
-        Reduce the speed of the stand mixer, slowly add in about 120g of flour and beat until the dough is thick and pulls away from the side. If the dough looks wet and sticky, add in more flour till thickened. This process will take awhile.
-        Switch the mixer to the dough hook. On medium speed, add in the cubed butter one at a time, and beat until no large chunks of butter are left at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry if you see bits of melted butter at the side of the bowl. Once we add in the remaining flour, everything will be incorporated.
-        Reduce the speed of the stand mixer and add in the rest of the flour bit by bit until the dough gathers around the hook and clean the side of the bowl. You might need less or more of the flour stated. Hence it will be good to standby some flour at a side.
-        The dough should be soft and moist but not overly sticky.
-        Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.
-        Lightly grease a mixing bowl.
-        Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size or about an hour.
-        Punch down the risen dough and roll out to ½” thick. With a doughnut cutter, cut out 3” diameter with 1” diameter hole (I used 3” and 1” cookie cutters).
-        Preheat the oven to 200oC and line the baking sheets with parchment.
-        Place the doughnuts 1” apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, let it sit in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size or about 20 minutes.
-        Bake until the doughnuts turned light golden brown – around 5-8 minutes. Be very careful not to over-bake the doughnuts. Over-bake doughnuts are hard and chewy.
-        Once the doughnuts are out from the oven, lightly dipped it in the melted butter and coat it with the cinnamon sugar. I like to use chopsticks for this. If you don’t have chopsticks, you can use a tongs.

Joy the Baker’s pretzel dogs

Some of you might know that I have recently discovered Joy the Baker (which by the way is a treasure). I was reading some of her older entries and one that I was extremely drawn to was pretzel dogs.

All dough up

Egg washed, salt and pepper

So here’s the thing – I love hotdogs. There is something magical about this simple fare. So what if it’s mystery meat, it’s delicious meat. And I can never leave Ikea without chowing down one of those S$1 hotdogs.

When I saw Joy’s recipe for pretzel dogs, I knew I hit the jackpot. I love chewy, soft pretzels and to pair with my favourite mystery meat – it was freaking match made in heaven.

The finished product

Don’t be fooled by the lengthy instruction – making pretzel dogs is not that difficult and Joy even has pictures for each major step. The only mistake (which is not major) I made was I overcrowded my baking tray. I didn’t expect the pretzel to expand that much hence some of the dogs were sticking to each other and didn’t get browned on the side.

I passed some of the pretzel dogs to my friend Biona who loved them so much, that she went to make her own a few days later. So the only thing I can tell you is get along and start making pretzel dogs (yes, yes, once you have the first bite, rainbow and unicorns will appear).

Smitten Kitchen’s cheddar, beer and mustard bread

The moment Deb posted the recipe for Cheddar, Beer and Mustard bread, I knew I have to bake it. How not to? This bread has everything I love.

Yes, the aftermath

Finally managed to stuff everything in the pan

While reading through her instructions, I knew this was going to be a tough one. Well, I didn’t exactly expect a war to happen in my kitchen (this was especially not good considering Mdm Tan mopped the kitchen in the morning). While mixing the dough, I noticed it was wetter than the usual bread dough, still I did not follow my instinct, and let the dough rest and rise. When it was time to assemble all the ingredients, the dough was so soft, I could not even roll it out with my pin.

In the end, I spread the dough with my bare hands (don’t worry, I washed my hands). And here came mistake number two. I decided to sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the ENTIRE piece of dough (as per instructed, I should cut and pile). As the dough was really soft, it was impossible for me to pile the dough without spilling the grated cheese. So I gave up trying to pile the dough (bye bye pull-apart bread). I just tried my best and piled all the pieces of dough together and ensuring equal distribution of cheddar cheese.

See the crack? Courtesy of the spatula

And you think everything ends here right? NO. Once the bread was baked, I struggled to get it out of the pan. Despite I have oiled the pan thoroughly, the cheese melted and stuck to the pan. Armed with my spatula, I managed to get the bread out without major damage.

The finished product

Cheezzzz-ball

Though the journey was tough, the end result was delicious. My friend, Lynda, described the bread as cheez-ball (which sadly Planters has discontinued) bread. I just love how rich and cheesy it was, and you also get the sudden hit of mustard which was savoury and pungent.

That said, it’s safe to say I won’t try to reprise this recipe soon. I think I want to my kitchen clean for awhile.

When I am sick, I eat toast

Since Saturday, I fell sick – it was not flu, cough or fever. It was some sort of weird gastric reflux. My stomach was churning, and I kept wanting to puke (but there was nothing for me to puke). The only things I could eat and drink was toast and Calpis water.

Ricotta

Soda bread

Edamame beans

Recently I discovered Joy the Baker – the first entry I read was her simple edamame toast. Despite the nauseating feeling I had, I managed to bake the ridiculously quick and easy soda bread, make a small ball of ricotta* and prepared a “fancy looking” toast in less than an hour.

My lunch

Ricotta edamame toast

Sliced the soda bread, spread some crumbled ricotta, topped it with some edamame beans (I did not manage to get fresh one, so I used the frozen sold in NTUC which were pretty good except they were a tad too salty) – to finish, sprinkled some sea salt (I used Maldon salt flake) and black pepper, drizzled a bit of olive oil and balasamic vinegar . There is no rules – if you like more ricotta, drown your bread in it – if you like edamame beans, fill it to the brim.

Next day’s breakfast

What was awesome was I had some leftover bread for next day’s breakfast. This time round, I used some of my homemade red sauce, ricotta, freshly grated parmesan cheese and top it with homegrown basil. I also sprinkled some black pepper (no salt this time round as the red sauce and cheese provided enough seasoning) and drizzled a bit olive oil and breakfast never looked so good.

As for my tummy, I managed to keep the nausea down and I think I am on the road to recovery.

 

*Heidi Swanson’s recipe will yield 4 cups of ricotta. As ricotta is best eaten fresh and cannot be kept in the fridge for more than 3 days, I cut down her recipe by 8 times. I used 500ml of (full fat) milk with 125ml buttermilk, and got half a cup of ricotta.

Slow soup and quick bread

Nothing speaks comfort than a bowl of hot soup and freshly baked bread (and butter). Even though here in Singapore, it is warm all year round, there are days where the rain comes and giving us that bit of “winter feel”.

I have been a fan of Smitten Kitchen for quite a while. I love how Deb just rustled up and made everything she created so effortless and gorgeous, and in between she was more than happy to share some of her missteps.

Carrot Soup

The thing I love about Deb’s carrot soup was it has a bit of Asian twist to it – miso and sesame oil were used – and guess who just bought some tip top 3-years fermentated miso (from Isetan)? Though it took about an hour for the soup to be done, the finished product was just incredible. The soup was rich and savoury, and what’s amazing was that there was no cream added. As the miso I bought was really salty, I cut down the portion. In addition, I also poured in more vegetable broth as I found the soup to be too thick and almost like puree (aka baby food). Still I have to say, the drizzle of sesame seed oil was a surprise factor – and the soup needed that.

Soda bread dough

When you have soup, you got to have bread. When I ain’t going to wait 3 hours for my bread to proof and bake. So I opted for an easier way – soda bread. Soda bread is a quick bread that made use of a rising agent (baking powder or baking soda) and buttermilk to help give the bread the rise. And the Fabulous Baker Brothers’ version is fast and any 4 year-old can make it. All you need is four ingredients – spelt flour, sea salt, baking powder and buttermilk.

Finished product

Must have butter

Spelt is a type of whole wheat flour that is highly nutritious and very suitable for soda bread as the gluten in spelt breaks down fairly easily. However spelt has very little fibre. So to boost the fibre level, I substituted half the portion of spelt flour with whole wheat flour.

The soda bread was every bit delicious and quick – it took me less than 20 minutes to get the bread roll done. Once they were out from the oven, rest for 1-2 minutes, break bread and spread some butter, they were good to roll with the soup. Happy camper!

Soda Bread
(Adapted from the Fabulous Baker Brothers)

Ingredients
1)      150g whole wheat flour
2)      150g spelt flour (The original recipe calls for 300g spelt flour – if you only want to buy one type flour, just stick with spelt)
3)    5g sea salt (I used Morton’s kosher salt instead)
4)      10g baking powder
5)      230ml homemade buttermilk (store bought buttermilk is fine – however when I was kneading the dough, I realised I needed more buttermilk – so do standby extra)

Methods
-        Preheat the oven to 230oC.
-        Blend all dry ingredients
-        Add buttermilk and using a metal spoon, mix all the ingredients together for about 2 minutes – do not over mix or over knead the dough – this is one bread dough that required very little work. During mixing, check and make sure there are no dry bits at the bottom (I added the buttermilk bit by bit to ensure I do not end up with a super wet dough).
-        The moment all the ingredients have mixed together and you have a sticky dough, flour your work surface (I used my wooden chopping board) and tip the dough onto it by using your scraper.
-        Cup the dough between your floury hand, shape it into a round place directly onto the baking stone (I don’t have a baking stone, so I placed my baking tray in the oven to get it warm up).
-        Using your scraper, cut a cross deeply into the dough and bake for 15-20 minutes until your soda bread has a golden crust and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
-        You can also use the same recipe to make dinner rolls. Weight the finished dough (it should be around 320g), divide them equally into 8 rolls, shaped to a round and cut a cross on each roll. Place them on a baking tray with space in between, and baked for 8-10  minutes.

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