Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Long-Awaited Durian Puffs

I've wanted to make durian puffs since months ago, but I haven't got the time to make them as baking the shells is time-consuming and I will need a whole afternoon. Since I'm not having any outing this weekend, I get to make these long-awaited durian puffs! We haven't had durians in a long time, so my grandma bought 3 D24 durians: for me to make puffs, and for us to eat.

I used back the same recipe which I had much success with. But due to the small size of the eggs I have, I weighed out the eggs, assuming each large egg is 50 g. I used chopsticks to stir the egg in, which turns out to be much better than using the electric whisk or spatula. There is less wastage of batter and I have better control on the stirring.

I deseeded about 11 durian seeds, which yielded me about 350 g of flesh. Learning from previous attempt, I decided to use the whole 200 ml carton of whipping cream to make the filling more moist. Whipping the cream till stiff by hand doesn't seem too tough this time round. Either I'm getting used to hand-whipping, or my arms became stronger with the gym sessions.

Apparently, I have made too much filling. Even though I filled each puff with plenty of filling, there was still leftover, so in the end, I made another half-batch of choux pastry. But now I have 5 empty shells sitting in a container, because the leftover filling was not enough for all the shells.

To use up the leftover hotdog in my freezer and leftover egg from the choux pastry, I decided to make these savoury scones. The recipe from HHB is actually for bacon scones, but I just replaced bacon with hotdog. I actually quite like this. Like what my sister says: "You can never go wrong with hotdog.".

Ingredients (makes 4):
125 g cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
25g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 egg (1 1/2 tbsp) plus enough fresh milk to make up 70ml
3 hotdog chopped into small chunks
*egg wash (from leftover beaten egg)

  1. Lightly beat the egg and add enough fresh milk to make up 140ml of liquid. Leave to chill in fridge.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add in salt and sugar and whisk the dry ingredients together. Add in cold butter pieces. Using a dough scraper, cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Chill the mixture for about 15 mins in the fridge.
  4. Mix in the chopped hotdog. Add the egg & milk mixture all at once and stir with a fork until just combined. The mixture will be sticky, moist and lumpy. Gather up the mixture and give it a few light kneading (not more than 10 seconds) so that it comes together to form a dough. Do not over work the dough.
  5. Place dough in a plastic bag or cover it with cling wrap. Keep dough in fridge for about 30mins.
  6. Remove dough from fridge and set it in the centre of a baking tray (lined with parchment paper). Pat out into a round disc about 1 inch thickness. Cut the dough into 4 wedge-shaped pieces, press down firmly without twisting or sawing.
  7. Move the wedges slightly apart leaving just a small gap in between so that the sides are almost touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash.
  8. Bake at preheated oven at 200degC for about 13 - 15 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the scones comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Recipe adapted from HHB's Bacon Rosemary Scones.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Most Productive Session: Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies + Strawberry Crumble Pie

As usual, I had so many baking ideas, I can't decide what to bake. I had wanted to bake a strawberry cake for myself for my birthday. But I had eaten 2 slices of cake yesterday, courtesy of my lab mates, who remembered it's my birthday on Sunday. So I decided to bake a strawberry crumble pie instead. And to thank my lab mates, I planned to bake some cookies for them, and also treat it as a birthday gift to one of them, whose birthday is just a few days after mine.

So my baking session started at 11.30 am, right after I came home from guitar lessons. I started with preparing the chocolate cookie batter before lunch and started baking them after lunch while preparing the ingredients and crust for the pie. While the pie was in the oven, I prepared the batter for the oatmeal cookies. By the time the last batch of cookies was out from the oven, it was 4 pm, time to go for a swim.

I just decided on these yesterday. I was browsing my favourite Chinese Blog (『君之』的手工烘焙坊) and saw that the ingredients required 130 g of dark chocolate. I was keen to try this out as I'm a fan of dark chocolate and I have never baked a rich chocolate cookie. And a good chance to use up my dark chocolate too! The outcome is fantastic for a bitter-dark-chocolate-lover like me! As the amount of sugar used is very little, the cookie is not sweet but slightly bitter as I used dark chocolate. Perfect for me, but probably not for someone with a sweet tooth.

Ingredients (makes 30 bite sized cookies):
130 g dark chocolate (eating or baking chocolate is fine)
50 g bread flour
33g butter
15 g caster sugar
20 g egg
20 g almond, coarsely chopped
5 g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder

  1. Divide chocolates into 2 portions: 30 g of chocolates chopped to pea size, the remaining 100 g of chocolates and butter cut to fine pieces and placed in a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl into warm water (about 60 deg C) and stir till butter and chocolate has fully melted.
  3. Add sugar and mix well. Let mixture cool to body temperature.
  4. Add egg and mix well.
  5. Sift in flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Mix with spatula to for a cookie dough.
  6. Fold in chopped almonds and the 30 g chocolates.
  7. Using your fingers, pinch pieces of dough and place them on prepared baking pan, pressing the dough slightly to form uneven discs
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 12 mins.
  9. Let cool completely and store in air-tight containers.
Recipe translated from Junzhi's 超浓郁巧克力曲奇.

While the cookies were baking in the oven, I started on the pie. There are many steps in making this pie: the crust, the filling and the topping. I started with the topping as that needs to be frozen, but I guess it's "too" frozen as I had a hard time breaking it into crumbles later on. The crust recipe is easy and I like the outcome: crispy and not buttery. I'm not a fan of buttery crusts so this is for me and it's easy to handle as well, not wet and easy to roll and mold into the tart pan. The filling is easy to make except that I may have added in too much strawberries or the strawberries pieces were too large. The strawberries started oozing out juice during baking, making the pies reddish in colour. It certainly doesn't look very nice, and I thought it looks like a pizza! Taste wise, I would say it's not sweet enough and there is still room for improvements.

Ingredients (makes 4 mini pies):
50 g cake flour
20 g butter, softened at room temperature
5 g caster sugar
15 ml water (or less, depending on texture of dough)

75 g fresh strawberries
12 g egg
12 g caster sugar
20 g milk
10 g butter
5 g bread flour
Pinch of salt

15 g bread flour
10 g butter, softened at room temperature
12 g almonds, finely chopped
5 g caster sugar

  1. Add flour and sugar to softened butter. Rub butter into dry ingredients with fingers until mixture resembles cornmeal.
  2. Add in water gradually and gather into a dough. Let rest for 15 mins.
  3. Roll out dough into a thin layer. Place over tart pan and press dough against tart pan. Roll pin over tart pan to remove excess dough.
  4. Set prepared pan aside for later use.
  1. Mix sugar and softened butter together.
  2. Add in flour and chopped almonds. Gather into a dough.
  3. Place dough in the freezer till hard.
  4. Break the frozen dough into crumbles with hands.
  1. Wash and dice strawberries.
  2. Using a water bath, melt butter. Add in milk, sugar and salt and mix well. Add in flour and whisk well.
  3. Add in egg and whisk well.
  4. Mix in diced strawberries.
To assemble:
  1. Poke holes on base of tart dough.
  2. Spoon in strawberry filling till 90% full.
  3. Sprinkle a thick layer of almond crumble topping on top of filling.
  4. Bake at preheated oven at 180 deg C for 35 mins, until crumbles turn golden brown and filling solidifies.
Recipe adapted and translated from Junzhi's 香酥草莓派.

While the pies were in the oven, it was 2 pm, and I decided to start on these cookies. These are baked with HHB's trusted oatmeal cookies, which I have attempted a few times before. Only difference is I creamed the butter manually this time round, and it sure is tiring!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Madeleine Madness

The first time I ate madeleines was when my mum bought them from Delifrance for breakfast. I quite like them as they taste nicer than the normal kueh bolu. I never knew that it is a classic french cake. Even though I came across many recipes for madeleines, I've never thought of making them as they need specific shell shaped molds. But, after seeing MY's pictures of her madeleines, I decided to make them myself, especially after she told me she got her pan from Daiso for $2. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find the metal pan at the biggest Daiso here, at IMM building. But with my mind set n making madeleines, I bought silicon molds instead.

These silicon molds are more expensive as there are only 2 shells in each mold, as compared to 5 in the metal pan. Furthermore, I am not very comfortable with using silicon baking equipment. This is my first attempt with these and my verdict is: give me a metal pan anytime. These silicon moulds are not rigid enough. They bend with the weight of the batter, causing the batter to overflow the shells, and causing my madeleines to develop wings. I have to fold pieces of aluminium foil and place them under the corners of the mold for extra support.

While in the oven, I was anxiously looking at it to see if the distinct madeleine humps appeared. They did appear, although not as tall as I hoped it would be. Nevertheless, I was quite happy as they signified my success in my first attempt.

I followed the recipe given in a chinese blog. Strangely, this recipe does not require the beating of eggs to ribbon stage, which most recipes require. I made both vanilla and chocolate flavoured ones. I personally prefer the vanilla, surprisingly. This is largely due to the lemon zest, which made it very refreshing. Texture wise, it is light and airy, and the sides are crispy.

Ingredients (makes 10 vanilla madeleines):
50 g cake flour
50 g caster sugar
50 g butter, melted
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Dash of vanilla extract

  1. Mix lemon zest with sugar and leave for 1 hour.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together.
  3. Stir egg with sugar and lemon zest with a manual whisk. Do not beat the mixture.
  4. Add in vanilla and sift in flour mixture. Stir until a thick mixture forms.
  5. Add in melted butter and stir till smooth.
  6. Chill in fridge for 1 hour.
  7. Pipe or spoon mixture into mold till 90% full.
  8. Bake at 190 deg C for 13-15 mins.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.
Ingredients (makes 10 chocolate madeleines):
40 g cake flour
8 g cocoa powder
35 g caster sugar
8 g honey
45 g butter, melted
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg
Dash of vanilla extract

  1. Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together.
  2. Stir egg with sugar with a manual whisk. Do not beat the mixture.
  3. Add in honey and mix well.
  4. Add in vanilla and sift in flour mixture. Stir until a thick mixture forms.
  5. Add in melted butter and stir till smooth.
  6. Chill in fridge for 1 hour.
  7. Pipe or spoon mixture into mold till 90% full.
  8. Bake at 190 deg C for 13-15 mins.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe adapted and translated from Junzhi's 玛德琳蛋糕.

While waiting for the madeleine batter to chill in the fridge, I made these sesame crackers again. This is the third time I am making these and this time round I made a full batch with one egg. I bought come cookie cutters 2 days ago and decided to try them out.

The cookie cutters are very small, yielding bite size biscuits. The biscuits are still good nonetheless.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Star Buns

It's an off-day for everyone today because it's national day here in Singapore, which means I have a full day for baking today! I had wanted to make tang zhong buns today but I realised I ran out of milk, so I changed to using another recipe. This recipe is just like any normal bread recipe.

So far, I haven't had much success with bread making. My bread always turns out dry and hard, and I'm guessing it's because I've under knead it. Somehow, I can never get the dough to pass the window pane stage. This time round, I kneaded the dough for 1 hour, but I still can't get it to pass the membrane test. I let it to proof nonetheless. I left out the egg wash and I wondered if that was why the buns did not turn brown.

Overall, the buns are not good. Hard and dry, as usual. I guess I'm staying away from bread making for quite some time from now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cookies Galore: Piped Butter Cookies

I couldn't make up my mind whether to make checkered cookies or piped butter cookies. I only have 2 aims in deciding this week's bakes: 1) I need to use as much green tea powder as possible, 2) It must be something I can give to my friends during our annual class gathering. Checkered cookies was on my mind the whole week until yesterday, when I decided on butter cookies, because I wanted to try piping.

I made half batches in each flavour: vanilla, green tea and chocolate. Took me a good 5 hours to complete because my oven is too small! I sure had a lot of fun piping these "roses". The first batch of vanilla looks terrible because it was my first try in piping these. But subsequently it got better, but I still need more practise and more improvement.

And yes, to prevent myself from gaining anymore weight from my bakes, I decided to force people to help me eat, so I packed them into paper origami boxes I made and gave them away to some of my friends as gifts. I hope they don't mind eating them!

Ingredients (makes 30 small cookies):
100 g cake flour
65 g butter, softened at room temperature
15 g caster sugar
35 g icing sugar
1/2 egg
*1/8 tsp vanilla extract (for vanilla flavoured)
*replace 5 g of flour with 5 g green tea for green tea flavoured)
*replace 10 g of flour with 10 g cocoa powder (for chocolate flavour)

  1. Mix butter with caster sugar and icing sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in egg in thirds, beating thoroughing after each addition.
  3. Add vanilla extract (if using) and beat thoroughly.
  4. Sift in cake flour (and green tea powder/ cocoa powder if using) and fold with a rubber spatula.
  5. Pipe into desired shapes. (I chilled the dough in the fridge for 15 mins after piping.)
  6. Bake at 190 deg C for 10 mins until golden brown. (I baked mine at 180 deg C for 15 mins.)
  7. Store in air-tight containers after cooling.
Recipe adapted and translated from Junzhi's 多种口味曲奇.

I had half an egg left and I thought I will just try out these biscuit sticks. But it was a disaster. The recipe stated 25 mins baking time but it got burnt after 15 mins. I threw the whole batch away.