Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cheese Rolls

Long time no see tang-zhong! The last time I used the water-roux method to make bread was back in April. I can't believe it is already autumn. Ever since my last post on chocolate layered bread, I've made bagel, pretzel, brioche, and Chinese bun (man-tou). What a nice little crumb path....

This weekend I am sharing cheese rolls, adapted from Rasa Malaysia's Cheese Breadsticks. I omitted milk powder and used a combination of grated parmesan cheese and Swiss cheese.

Cheese Rolls
Adapted from Rasa Malaysi'a Cheese Breadsticks

65g lukewarm water
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 egg
75g tang-zhong
30g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
195g whole wheat flour
90g all purpose flour
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
grated or sliced cheese of your choice

Sprinkle yeast in water and let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. In another bowl, mix together the egg and tang-zhong. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. When yeast is activated, pour yeast into egg mixture. Pour all the wet ingredients into the large bowl. Use a spatula to incorporate the wet and dry ingredient together.

Sprinkle some hand flour on the work station and take rough dough out of the bowl. Flatten the dough and add butter. Knead butter into dough, add a little flour at a time to draw in the butter. Continue kneading the dough with the heel of your hand till the dough feels smooth and stretchy under your hand. Snap a small piece of dough off, flatten with your palms, and stretch it out to see if you can form a thin membrane without tearing the dough. If dough isn't stretchy or it tears into uneven circle, knead the tiny dough back into the larger dough and knead for another five minute. Check the dough again to see if you've reached the desired consistency.

In an oiled bowl, roll the dough around the oil and let sit in room temperature covered with plastic wrap for 40 minutes or until double the size. Alternatively, place dough in the fridge and let proof for 4 hours.

Sprinkle flour on the work station and remove the dough from the bowl. Gently press on the dough to release air bubbles. Let sit on the station for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 60g pieces. Pat each dough into a rough circle and tuck the sides back in to make a ball. Continue with the rest of the doughs. Roll each ball into a 6 inch long roll. Place rolls 2 inch apart on a baking sheet. Place plastic wrap over the baking sheet and let the rolls proof for second time until they double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350F right after you cover the baking sheets in plastic wrap. Right before baking, break an egg yolk and add 2 teaspoon water and a little salt. Brush egg wash over the rolls, be careful not to let the egg wash drip down to the bottom of the roll. Egg wash can glue the bread down, preventing it from rising properly in the oven. Sprinkle cheese over the egg wash. Bake for 14 minutes. Let cool on a rack before storing it in an airtight container.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sharing is Caring--Nami's Green Tea Cookies

One of my favorite blogs is Nami's Just One Cookbook. Nami shares simple Japanese recipes from a simple yet essential dashi stock to unagi don. Every recipe has easy to follow pictures to guide even an amateur in the kitchen. My ungai don was one of Nami's recipes. It literally takes 5 minutes to prepare the unagi sauce, and if you buy pre-charred eel from a Japanese supermarket, dinner can be dinner in no time!

This week I made green tea cookies--one of Nami's desserts. She rarely bakes, but all her baked goods look like they're made from a professional pastry's hands. These cookies were delicious according to my colleagues. They gobbled up every bit and pieces before noon! I love the compliments and bringing back an empty container home. My worst fear is going to a pot-luck and have no one touch the food I bring.

Anyways, Nami's cookie is a fancy version of butter biscuits. It's slightly on the crunchy side, but the cookies melts on your tongue. In the hindsight, you get a faint matcha flavor that balances the rich butter. This is definitely a decadent dessert, meant to be served during high tea or reserved for a special guest.

Nami's Green Tea Cookies

150g/ 2/3cup unsalted butter, room temperature
100g/ 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
2 egg yolks
240g/ 2 1/8 cup all purpose flour
15g/ 2 + 1/4 tablespoon matcha powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar till butter turns pale. Add egg yolks and mix till well incorporated. Shift flour and matcha powder into butter mixture, mix well. Add chocolate chips and distribute evenly into cookie batter.

Divide batter in half and roll each half into a ball. On a plastic wrap, shape each ball into a log, 2 inch in diameter and 5 inch long. Refrigerate overnight. 15 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350F and let cookie logs stand in room temperature. Slice cookies into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick or the width of your pinky. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven. Let cool on the baking sheet for another 15 minutes before placing the cookies on a cooling rack.

I used black chocolate chips while Nami used white chocolate chips. I am a dark chocolate person, but white chocolate looks more graceful in this cookie.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Macaron Tip: Make Buttercream from Egg Yolks

Yes, I am still obsessed over macarons. Today I tried to make teddy bear and flower shaped macarons--big failures. My five pedal flowers came out with various sizes and shapes, and teddy bears all cracked in the middle. Can you imagine a split face teddy bear? It is every kid's worst nightmare, literally.

Among all the shapes I experienced today...I also tried flavoring my macaron shells for the first time! The result was not bad. At first I could barely taste the matcha, but the flavor develops after a couple of hours in the fridge.

I used the French meringue method described in my previous post. Instead of food coloring, I added matcha paste. The paste is made from 1 tablespoon of matcha powder and 1 tablespoon of boiling water. When egg white reaches semi-stiff peak, add the matcha powder in place of food coloring. Then finish whipping the egg white till you reach stiff peak. Or another silly test is turn the bowl upside down. The egg white should not fall. If you end up with a head full of green egg white...well remember to whip your egg white pass whichever state you were on.

To enhance the matcha flavor, I made matcha buttercream to complement the almond shells. This is an easy recipe from I <3 Macarons by Hisako Ogita. Buttercream recipe #2 on this book uses egg yolks instead of egg whites to make the buttercream. What a brilliant idea to use leftover egg yolks! I used to freeze my egg yolks in the fridge, but the temperature seems to cook the yolks in a way that a skin forms around the running egg yolk. Then I give up and just throw my egg yolks away--what a waste!

I normally just use two egg whites in my macarons and they make about two trays of cookies. Two yolks yield just the right amount to fill them up.


100 grams/ 7 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
50ml/ 50g/ 3 1/2 tablespoons milk
2 egg yolks
40g/ 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon matcha powder
2 teaspoon boiled water

In a bowl, whip egg yolks and sugar till the yolks become pale. Heat milk in a saucepan till the side bubbles, remove from heat. While one hand is whipping the egg yolks, pour the hot milk into the eggs with the other hand. Pour everything back into the pot, don't stop whipping to prevent the milk from overheating the eggs. On medium heat, simmer mixture until you can leave a finger trail on the wooden spoon. Remove pot from heat and pour into a bowl. Whip the mixture till you get a custard-like consistency. Leave the mixer on and add 1/3 of butter. Add some more butter when the first batch of butter is incorporated. Mix in all the butter and whip the buttercream till smooth and shiny. Don't worry if the mixture looks grainy after you added in the butter.

Make matcha powder by mixing water and matcha powder together. Add paste into buttercream and whip together till all matcha paste is incorporated.

Buttercream can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Before using, leave out at room temperature till it softens. Or use right away on cupcakes, macarons, cakes...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm dreaming of curry...

I stumbled across this panda bread a while ago. It was cute when I first looked at it. Notice--it was cute.
The whole bread sounds delicious--green tea flavored background surround chocolate eyes and ears. All you have to do is mix a small amount of green tea and chocolate sauce to two doughs  then roll each eye, ear, and face up individually. Any gap in between the eyes is filled with a plain white dough. Everyone more or less uses the same recipe and method on the Internet, but no one panda turned out to look like a panda. can tell it's a panda because the caption say so. It is hard to control how individual doughs raise with each other. You might missed a tiny gap when you're filling in the eyes and the face, then your panda turn out to have smeared eyeshadow.

Instead of dwelling on the bread, I looked up kawaii foods on the Internet. Most results turn out to be Japanese bento boxes. One of the most popular lunch box trend is rilakkuma. A chubby lazy brown bear that has a simple face--two round eyes and one large nose. Come to think of it...rilakkuma is probably Hello Kitty's second cousin. Hello Kitty has no mouth remember?

This is how rilakkuma looks like. He is sleeping on some spicy coconut chicken curry...shhhh....don't wake him up.

Now let's talk business

Coconut Chicken Curry
Serves 2
1/2 onion, diced
1 medium carrot, cubed
1 medium potato, cubed
1/2 chicken breast, small pieces
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup water or chicken stock
3 curry cubes*

Serve on rice, pita, linguine, or oo-don.

In a sautee pan on medium heat, add oil, sautee onion when oil is hot (you should hear a sizzling sound when you put in the onion). When onion is translucent, add carrot and potato. Mix the vegetables well and add the rest of the ingredients. When the water is bubbling, use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients and dissolve the curry cubes. Stir frequently from bottom to top so the curry doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Cook until potato and carrot are soft.

*Curry cubes come in a rectangular package. You can find it in the ethnic section in all large grocery stores or a Japanese market.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How was your weekend?

I had a not so good weekend, nothing too unfortunate happened though. Two parking citations for parking during street cleaning. Then made a semi-successful macaron this morning. The first tray came out cute and chubby with a thick skirt underneath--the best batch I have made so far. The second tray was a disaster. Only four cookies survived. The rest looked like volcanoes...pointy on the top with cracks running down the cookies and hollow on the inside. Later I made a great mistake filling macaron cookies with creme anglaise. The custard was too runny for the cookies to hold, so many tops slid off from the bottom half. Even so they made a sweet mess, and I got a sugar rush munching on ugly macarons.

Maybe it was the sugar crush. Something was wrong after the macarons. I was moody. I was irritated. I was anxious. I don't know why, but I felt blue. Then it all passed, just like the instant when macarons decide to develop little feet. Yup that fast before you even know it happened.

Creme Anglaise dripping off

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why are you Swedish? A question that relates to frosting a cupcake.

I just came back from The Tallest Man on Earth--Kristian Matsson's concert. While his music is still hot and steamy in my mind, I need to write down a memorable quote from him. In between songs, he said, people ask him what his favorite color, when he started playing, why he is Swedish (really?), but no one ever ask him how much he practice.

That sentence hit me, hard. No one ask me how much I practice chez ma cuisine. Often times people look up the sky to admire a shooting star, but they don't think about how much time it took the comet to form.

I don't like to blog about failures, even though my very first post was on how I failed to make tang zhong bread. Even though that post captured a series of failed attempt before finally succeeding, they were all written under one post, which eventually showed beautiful white sandwich bread. The macaron post was a similar scenario. Notice how I only post one photo of cracked macaron? There were countless uglier batches that I was too embarrassed to share.

Right now I'm practicing my pipping skills. I have some moist, some crumbly, some velvety cupcake recipes, but my ugly frosting ruin the dessert at the end. Sure it tastes good, but presentation is as important as flavor.

I'm not there yet. Of the twelve cupcakes I made, this is has the most satisfying look from the side. From the top, it looks like a pile of poop on a black cake. Brown on black are not appealing when the frosting is piled up in layers like poop.

Later that day I made more frosting to practice. I wasn't paying too much attention on the recipe, so the frosting was watery. Despite that, I still can't overcome my poop-like shape. I think I am pipping the second layer too much on the inner rim of the first layer. If the second layer is more on top of the first layer and move slightly inward on the third layer, perhaps it would lose the poopie shape.

I will report back when I practice a little more tomorrow. I also bought a closed star tip because part of me blame the French pastry tip! Until then...