Monday, February 26, 2007

Patchy Blotchy

Hey friends, how how you been? For those who celebrates Chinese New Year, there's still a weekend for 'house visiting' and festivities to go. Hope you are enjoying the gatherings and feastings :p

After all that cookie baking sessions for the past weekends, it's about time I break away from the cookie trays and get back to kneading some breads.

Do you find the above picture interesting? That's the top crust of the bread. This is baked using the Vienna Bread recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and the top is brushed with a paste made from rice flour and water. During baking, this topping will develope into a patchy coating. This type of breads is also known as Dutch Crunch or Mottled Bread.

Unfortunately, my topping didn't turn out as the way it should be, which should be much more 'dramatic' than in mine. If you have the book you will know what I mean. But a not-so-successful crust aside, this bread is a lovely loaf. The interior is softer, and the crust less chewy than most rustic breads. I love it that it is not as sweet as the usual sweet breads, just a tinge of sweetness, so I spread on some sweet-tangy cloudberry jam. It went well with brie cheese too, I had them just this morning :)

The final piece of crust and crumb.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Annual Baking Event

Chinese New Year (CNY) falls on this coming Sunday, which is just 3 days away! I just realized that I have not posted my CNY baking this year, even though I've been baking away ferociously for the past 2 weekends. This year I'm not too 'productive', mainly because I don't have the time to bake on weekedays. Almost everything was baked on half of Saturdays and the entire Sundays. Anyway, to cut the long story short, here are this year's CNY cookies:

Hazelnut cookies

Pineapple tarts, I only made the pastry. The jam is store-bought, I only 'processed' it a little - too much work for me to prepare from scratch.

Totally addictive Peanut Cookies, recipe modified from Florence's

Since CNY holiday in Singapore this year stretches from Saturday to next Tuesday, I hope all of you out there enjoy this long break. I will be away for the holiday and back next week. Till then, here's wishing all who celebrates CNY:

恭喜發財, 新年進步

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Green with Envy?

Screwpine leaves, or more commonly known as pandan leaves, is a widely used plant in Asian cooking, especially in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. A plant with a floral fragrance, it can be used in savoury dishes such as in curries or nasi lemak (coconut-flavoured rice). Of course, when blended with water, pandan leaves can be used as a natural food colouring, imparting a lovely green hue to cakes, puddings, sweets and jellies.

Pandan leaves are readily available here, and are sold in bunches of about 8 to 10 blades. Some families even grow their own pandan plant!

I always like to use pandan leaves to make chiffon cakes, because pandan chiffon cake is something which I grew up with. So when I learnt to make chiffon cakes, this is the first flavour I attempted. This time I made something different - Pandan Butter Cake.

Pandan Butter Cake

225g cake flour (or Top Flour)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
180g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup(240ml) nonfat unsweetened yogurt
30ml pandan juice*
¼ tsp pandan essence**

Some chopped nuts(optional)

1) Preheat oven to 180C and grease 8”x4” loaf tin (I'm using a bundt pan this time)
2) Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3) Mix together yogurt, pandan juice and pandan essence.
4) Cream the butter for about 1 min to soften. Gradually sugar and beat until light and creamy. Dribble in eggs slowly, about 1 tbsp at a time, beating constantly for about 2 mins.
5) On LOW speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in ½ of the yogurt. Then beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining yogurt. Finally beat in the remaining flour mixture. Fold in the nuts if using .
6) Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
7) Bake for about 35- 45 mins till skewer inserted comes out clean.
8) Cool in pan for 5 mins. Unmold and cool completely.

* Blend about 5 to 6 blades of pandan leaves with some water. Strain using a sieve to obtain juice.
** I used pandan essence as well to impart a deeper green colour to the cake. You can omit it, but the cake will have a very light green hue.

This is a moist and light butter cake, with a distinctive, but not overpowering, pandan flavour. A refreshing change from the usual chiffon cake.

This is my post for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging (though I'm not sure if I can submit in time). Nevertheless, this week WHB returns home to Kalyn's Kitchen, who is the founder of this blog event, which is into it's second year running. Please check out her kitchen for the re-cap of the posts on herbs, fruits, flowers etc submitted by food bloggers around the world!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Add Some Colors to Your Life

Okay, I admit it. I have been thinking about lychees since reading Gattina's absolutely delicious post on Baked Lychee Risotto Pudding. In Singapore, it's easy to get canned lychees, which are available in any supermarket. When the season comes, we can have fresh ones too!

'Stomping' into my neighbourhood supermarket, I was determined to get a can of lychees. I could just open and eat straight from the can (Gattina, see what you've done? :p). But wait, I have a pomengranate sitting in the fridge too. Hmm.... how about a simple fruit salad?

Drain the lychees, throw in some Murcot segments, sprinkle on some red rubies(pomengranate), add a dash of lychee syrup and viola! A refreshingly fruity dessert:

Seeing such a colorful combination really does whet one's appetite. I especially love the red pomengranate dotted all over the bowl.