Monday, March 28, 2011

No Knead Rosemary Focaccia

I was at the Library and found this Sept - Oct 2008, Cook's Illustrated and it featured a "Better Foccacia".  How better is it?  i would have to bake one to find out.  The best part in the process of making this Foccacia is - no need to knead.  It has been quite awhile since Alexander made The No-knead Bread, and i ask if he would like to help make bread again.  He was only 3 when he helped with The No Knead Bread and now that he is coming to be 6, has other more interesting activities than helping me in the kitchen.  He does not need to help ,  i would be the happiest, if he will eat my cooking or baking.  When i bake bread, Renee is my biggest fan, she can smell bread baking in the oven a mile away and would always ask when can she have a piece.  She likes everything that is doughy, she is a carb person. 

To achieve a focaccia that has a crunchy, oily, almost orange colored crust with a chewy, airy and flavorful open crumb, these few tips have to be followed - 1. HOLD THE SALT - TEMPORARILY - The result for briefly omitting the salt hastened gluten development by an hour.  After 15 minutes, the unsalted dough was already pliant and smooth.  THE EXPLANATION - Salt inhibits both the ability of flour to absorb water and the activity of the enzymes that break down proteins to begin the process of forming gluten.  If allowed to rest without salt, the flour is able to get a jump on gluten development by absorbing as much water as it can and letting its enzymes work sooner to develop gluten networks.  2.  Bake bread on a BAKING STONE  - baking stones simulate a brick oven in your home oven, absorbing and radiating intense, consistent heat to produce crisp, golden brown crusts on pizza, calzones, and bread.  If you don't have a baking stone, bake the bread on an overturned, preheated rimmed baking sheet set on the upper middle oven rack. 3. FOR BIG FLAVOR - A long rest is best - Creating a small batch of starter dough(also known as a preferment, or a biga in Italian) boosts the flavor in our bread dramatically.A starter is made by combining small amounts of flour and water with a little yeast and allowing it to ferment overnight.  With a lengthy rest, long carbohydrate chains that have little taste break down into a multitude of sugars and alcohol with lots of flavor.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Renee's 9th Birthday Cake

Renee will be turning NINE on March 23rd and celebrated with a birthday party for her classmates last Saturday.  What a lovely day it was, the sun was shinning but unfornately the kids were not able to play outside as it was too windy.  I hope the kids enjoyed the party and i am sure they did have fun, dancing, doing the Limbo and high jump.  Can't imagine that a blow-up stick can provide such good entertaining..  My proudest moment was when i saw the expressions on the children's faces when they saw the birthday cake, i think i have achieved my tasks, they recognized all the Pokeman characters on the cake. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yellow Butter Cake

I have so often used potato starch as a thickener for sauces, soups, and stews but for adding it to my flour for baking, this is my first.  Potato starch is not potato flour.  Potato flour is dehydrated potatoes ground into powder and is much heavier and denser.  Potato starch is the result of an extraction process removing the starch only from the potato.  Think of the white foam that floats to the top when you boil potatoes, that's potato starch.   Potato starch has no gluten.  It is used in recipes for those who are gluten intolerant. 

Potato starch tolerates higher temperatures than cornstarch when used as a thickener, but for baked good, it's a natural way to add moistness, therefore  a fine crumb and soft textured cake..
You can find potato starch on the baking aisle at most of your local supermarket and and health-food stores.  I get mine from the asian stores here, they are very much cheaper and a variety of brands to choose from. 

This Yellow Butter Cake recipe has  1/3 of the wheat flour replaced with potato starch which is 1/2 cup/2 ozs by weight.  This replacement made the crumb fine, soft and moist, in fact, the cake tasted better the next day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brioche Bread

Brioche is a light but rich French bread  made with a yeast dough enriched with eggs, milk, and butter. This recipe i am sharing is one which is made with oil and in a bread machine.  A brioche dough is quite difficult to handle but with the bread machine, it is effortless.  The hardest part is in shaping the dough.  The first time i made these brioche following the instructions from a cookbook which i thought were practical enough, not knowing that bread dough had an atitiude of it's own when baked.    The instruction on how to shape the brioche was to make 2 round balls, one smaller than the other, then make a dent on the bigger dough and place the smaller one onto the dent.  The shaping and proofing of the brioche were easy but?????  when the brioche had it's spring in the hot oven,  the smaller balls of dough which sat so prettily on top popped out, dislodged onto the baking tray.  The ones which were not disloged, hung on for dear life at the side of the brioche mold.  Looking into the oven, I just don't know whether i should cry or laugh.  The small balls on the baking tray reminded me of the guillotine of the French Revolution, no wonder brioche is a french bread.   Brioche  is traditionally baked in a fluted tin and since i do not have any brioche fluted tins , i used these fluted tart molds which  are available online from

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chicken In A Jiffy For Hainanese Chicken Rice

Although this chicken might be cooked In A Jiffy, it is just as 'wat' and tender and is not second to the mccoy way of cooking the 'Chicken' for Hainanese Chicken Rice.  To get the 'wat' texture for the chicken, I used the microwave to cook the chicken and to acquire this task, you would have to use 1/2 the power of your microwave oven's wattage.  You would have to know your microwave oven's wattage and most microwave ovens come in various wattage, as high as 1500 to as low as 600.  I am having a 900 watts microwave oven and there is a selection of power levels from 1 - 10.  I used 1/2 the power which is power level 5, therefore it would be 450 wattage.  If your microwave have no selection of power level, i would suppose that there are only 2 levels, high and defrost.  So, in this case, use defrost but you might have to cook the chicken longer to get it totally cooked.  Do not attempt to use HIGH. 

As microwave will be attracted to liquid, the liquid that has oozed out has to be removed so that the microwave will cook the meat and not be attracted to the liquid, thus cooking the chicken faster.

A saucer is used to raise the chicken so that the chicken will not be cooking in the liquid that has been oozed out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Longevity Peach Buns

Showing respect and esteem for the elderly is a tradition that remains today. Nowadays, when grandparents or parents reach the ages of 70, 80 or 90, their children and grandchildren organize ceremonies for longevity. Such celebrations, either large or small, are occasions to show devotion and respect to grandparents and parents. Celebrations for longevity, manifest the family’s joy in having a relative who has been able to lead a long life.

The Chinese God of Longevity, known as Sau, is a symbol of easy life, smooth living, and victory over the strife that life can sometimes cause. A gourd is attached to the end of his staff which is said to hold the elixir of life or immortality. Sau is usually depicted holding a peach, which is the divine fruit of the gods, allowing them to live forever, therefore making Sau Tou/Peach Buns is a must for longevity celebration. Besides having a banquet of which long and thin noodles are served, everyone will be blessed with presents,

a red envelope/lei si, - Good blessings.

a longetivity rice bowl together with a pair of chopsticks - wishing steady income in the future


a pair of wooden CLOGS - wishing a successful career ~~ "po po ko sing" which means to rise to the top, step by step.

Read about the story of the Longevity Peach bun HERE

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homemade Strudel - Viennese Apple Strudel

According to Wiki - "traditional Austrian Strudel pastry is different from strudels served in other parts of the world that are often made from filo or puff pastry. The traditional Strudel pastry dough is very elastic. It is made from flour with a high gluten content, egg, water, and butter with no sugar added. The dough is worked vigorously, rested, and then rolled out and stretched by hand very thinly. Pertaining to anecdotes, purists say, it should be so thin that a newspaper can be read through it. A legend has it that the Austrian Emperor's perfectionist cook decreed that it should be possible to read a love letter through it. The thin dough is laid out on a tea towel, and the filling is spread on it. The dough with the filling on top is rolled up carefully with the help of the towel and baked in the oven." 

I was told that i was crazy to make the strudel pastry from scratch but it's me, crazy Lily, always wanting to bake from scratch.  It was not that difficult and i am glad i gave this recipe a go,   I was especially interested to know if by keeping the dough warm would enable to stretch it better and it did, the difficult part for me was that it was winter and the kitchen was colder, so, the warm cloth used to keep the bowl warm was not very efficient.  The next time around, i would use the heat pad which i use for my back pain.  Can anyone give me an idea of how to keep the boil warm for 45 minutes besides using the hot towel or the heat pad, much appreciated.  Now that i know that keeping the dough warm while it rested enabled it to stretch better, I can apply this way to other recipes like making roti canai or mein fun koh. etc..

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