Monday, March 30, 2009

A new challenge

I've been following Tuesdays with Dorie and Daring Bakers for some time now, and have stumbled upon Bread Baking Babes, Bake Your Own Bread (abbreviated to BYOB) and many other baking websites which bakes through a specified book or recipe.

The thing on my mind is, perhaps I should embark on a challenge. I have many books sitting in a cupboard in my room and I'll admit; I've never bothered to do at least 90% of the recipes in there!
There's prolly a treasure gem or two that I would never find unless I set hands on said recipe and do something.

So I figured, perhaps I should consider picking a baking book which I find easy enough to finish by this year. Whaddya think?

Recently I found a blog called breadbasketcase and the person who owned it, Marie, actually made that blog to document the breads that she made through Rose Beranbaum's The Bread Bible book. And boy did she finish that book in less than a year! Hooray for her :D
Imagine finishing 82 breads in one year. Now that's an achievement!

I've been thinking between 3 books, but all of them have their pros and cons. The first book, was prolly translated straight from chinese, and has insufficient directions for a beginner. I mean, there was some recipe that needs grated cheese but what cheese??? In fact, if you just read the ingredients, there is no mention of cheese whatsoever. And its a cheese bread for god's sake, too.

The other book is by Don Yong, who owns the Malaysian Institute of Baking school (which I had contemplated on going to sometime in the middle of last year, but an IT course eventually won over me). The book is awesome, and there are explanations on why this flour gives better texture than that flour, but after going through the book, I have to get a waffle pan and find where to get malt flour (what's this?). And no, malt flour isn't on "optional".

The third book, which I'll most likely choose if I decide to accept this challenge, is Breadmagic by Alan Ooi. Looking through the book, the recipes are pretty straight forward, although I won't know what to do with a French Hard Bread (dip in coffee? But I don't drink coffee in the morning) and a whole load of Danish pastries. But maybe my kind neighbours and friends might help out in the eating process.

While all these is going on, the new semester of my course starts today! It's the mark of the third semester already and I'm raring to go!

A chocolate cake, po longs, muffin pan and challenge please...

Oh my, its been ages (1 year to be exact) since this here blog was updated! Hold on let me just brush that speck of dust off....ookay!

Now, where was I...ah yes! I *have* to share this delectable cake! Since I read Aunty Yochana's blog almost on a daily basis (I tend to skip some days since having time to blog is a luxury ever since my laptop went ka-put) I happen to stumble upon the time when she steamed this wonderfully moist chocolate cake.

Last time i used to think steaming is for fish and buns but this cake is a must-make! It's healthier (I made it using oil but there is a variation that uses butter) and does not have as much fat as other baked chocolate cake. I can foresee that every chocolate birthday cake after this in my family will be this very cake. Do give it a try ;) No need any fancy pansy equipments, just a whisk or spatula, and measuring cups, steamer and also a pan to steam the cake in.

Another thing that I have been steaming also lately is "po long". This is somewhat like a sweet bun that is made with either sweet potato or pumpkin. My grandmother have been making these for quite a long time (i.e. family recipe) but since her hands have become rather numb she hardly makes them anymore.

Here's a tortoise...

Here's a banana...

Here's a pile of shit...

Here's a piggy...

Here's some random stuff...

And in between waiting for the po long to rise (its like bread) I managed to squeeze in time to make nestum cupcakes.

Which didn't turn out right because I substitute oil for butter. Verdict : Yech!!
NEVER ever substitute oil for butter in a recipe unless it states that such substitution is allowed.

Picture-wise they look fine...but was extremely moist at the bottom (due to oil and because the recipe actually states that the butter and sugar must be creamed) and I can't even taste the Nestum in there :(
But I'll definitely give this recipe another try once I get hold of some butter :D

A couple of days later I made some raisin buns, adapted from one of Agnes Chang's recipe books. The one she made was plaited, but mine's just round.

Verdict : Tasteless, but that's because I didn't have raisins, only blackcurrants (which are tiny!) and didn't brush the top with egg and sift icing sugar on them.
My sister, however, had a better idea, she added chocolate chips (imported, absolutely delicious!) and a small piece of cheese on top of each bun.

Creative eh?

Lastly, I finally received my free gift from One Houseware & Gift :D A book on steamed cakes which I gotten recently have this free gift if someone purchases the book. Among all 3, I chose the pastry wheel which I have been wanting for a long time.

I wanted it when I saw that one y3k magazine issue had a recipe on how to make mini apple pies with fluted lattice pastry on top and then remembered that Bake With Yen and Chang Tung sells pastry wheels because I saw them once (ow twice).
But when I went to both stores the pastry wheels weren't there :( and I've been checking for quite some time and STILL don't see no pastry wheel.
Well, glad that I finally have one now. Since I have a bunch of Granny Smith apples ripe for eating, do I hear calls for apple pies and apple strudels?