Monday, 29 October 2007

Bostini Cream Pie



It's Daring Bakers time again! Yeap, this months challenge was hosted by the wonderful Mary of Alpineberry and the challenge she chose was a Bostini Cream Pie.

Just like Mary said, there was no typo error. This wasn't a Boston Cream Pie but rather a variation of the same. Now I've heard of a Boston Cream Pie but I've never ever seen one much less tasted one. So telling me that this months challenge was a variation of something I had never seen didn't do me much good. It's like me telling you how wonderful a Durian tastes even though it has a funny smell and looks funny too. If you've never seen a Durian much less tasted one, you would have no clue what I was talking about.

I really must try and stop digressing so much.....

Anyway, I'm the sort of guy that likes to know things. I like to do research and get background information on anything and everything. Other than increasing my general knowledge, I can nod my head knowledgeably whenever someone talks about something. Most importantly, it enables me to filter out the 'pretenders' (read Bullsh*t Artists) from those that actually know something. One thing I dislike is people who pretend to know something when they actually dont.

And so... I turned to the web to research both the Boston Cream Pie as well as the Bostini Cream Pie. This is what I learned:

Firstly, the Boston Cream Pie is more a cake rather than a pie. Basically, it's a sponge cake that is split in half and filled with cream and then covered in chocolate. The lights began to glow in the brain - so this is why donuts with cream filling and covered in chocolate are called Boston Creams!!

So that begat the next question. If it's a cake, why is it called a pie? Apparently, in days of yore, pies and cakes were baked in the same tins. There were no separated cake tins and since pies were baked more frequently than cakes, the baking tins were called pie tins.

So then what has Boston got to do with it?? According to the Joy of Baking

the story began when a New York newspaper in 1855 published a recipe for a 'Pudding Pie Cake'. This recipe was similar to the Boston Cream Pie recipe of today except that it had a powdered sugar topping. From there we go to Boston where a man named Harvey D. Parker opened a restaurant called the Parker House Restaurant. On the menu was a 'Parker House Chocolate Pie', the recipe to which was similar to the New York newspaper recipe except a chocolate glaze had replaced the powdered sugar topping. We are not sure how it was renamed to 'Boston Cream Pie', but Bo Friberg in his book 'The Professional Pastry Chef' thinks "the name stems from the original title (in the New York paper) combined with the reference to Boston."


Now that I was armed with sufficient knowledge of the Boston Cream Pie, I turned my 'research' to the Bostini Cream Pie. This is what I learned:

The dessert is a layer of custard with an orange chiffon cake on top that is then covered with chocolate glaze. Sounds yummy indeed!

The dessert was created by Donna Scala and Kurtis L. Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni

This dessert was voted by the Food and Wine staff of the Los Angeles Chronicle as the hands-down winning recipe for 1996.

So now, I could nod my head knowledgeably and proceed to make the dessert!

I decided to make the challenge on Saturday 13 October as we were having some friends over for a dinner party. Now would be a good time to mention that my son wakes up extremely early on Saturday mornings. On weekdays, when he has to go to Kindy, there is some grumbling, groaning and general malaise. But on Saturdays, he is up and cheery and often wakes me up as well!

However, on this Saturday I was up bright and early and managed to whisk up the chiffon cake and bake it. I made 8 small cakes in my muffin pan



and the remaining batter went into a log pan.




The cakes turned out lovely - and the smell of orange was strong and filled the kitchen. I had just taken finished removing the cakes out of the oven when my son and daughter came bounding down the stairs into the kitchen.

"Can I help you, Dads?" They both asked almost simultaneously. I'm never one to turn down my kids offer to help and on the contrary, always encourage it. I explained that I had already made the cake and that they could help with the custard. So my son and daughter plonked themselves at the work table and Michael started studying the recipe and reading out what needed to go in.



Next, we measured in the milk and corn flour and Mike blended them all together. He was really serious about it!



Next both kids helped to whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. You can see how much fun Sarah is having with this.




I then sent them packing out of the kitchen as I started to make the custard. I had to use a large cooking pot for the custard since there was quiet a bit of liquid - no surprise really seeing how many eggs were used. The custard cooked up quite easily although a little began to stick on the large pan. In hindsight, I should have cooked the custard in my usual smaller pan, but in two batches. I half filled 6 cocktail glasses with the custard and then let them cool before placing them in the fridge. Interestingly enough, I had never used these cocktail glasses before!



There was a lot of leftover custard so I filled another 2 ramekins as well as a larger bowl and put those in the fridge to chill.

So with the cake done and the custard completed, I took a break before preparing the rest of the dishes for our Dinner Party that night. Part of taking a break included cutting the log and tasting the Orange Chiffon Cake. It was light, it was spongy and it was full of orange goodness. Yummy!

Dinner went off very well and while the guests were enjoying my wife's Pomegranate Shots ala Jamie Oliver, I was busy in the kitchen melting the chocolate and butter.
My son insisted on helping too and he helped stir the chocolate and butter. It was now time to assemble the dessert and serve it.

I placed the cake on top of the custard and it held up. I was afraid that the custard would be too runny but although soft, it still held the cake up. I then poured the chocolate all over the top and carried the dessert out to the awaiting guests.


My wife did the honour of telling the guests what the dessert was called and at the same time doing a plug for the Daring Bakers. Everyone commented how wonderful the dessert looked. As they each took a mouthful, there was nothing but silence....

Then suddenly, there were oohs and ahhs! The combination of flavours was fasciniating and each flavour complemented the other. My daughter was thrilled with the dessert and gave it her seal of approval!


My wife really liked the soft custard and one of our dinner guests requested for a second serving of the custard. I loved the dessert as did everyone else. I mean, really, whats not to like? Chocolate - Good. Orange Cake - Good. Custard - Good! Just put it all together and Aaahhh! What a truly wonderfuly dessert!



The next afternoon, my parents came over for lunch and they had some of the leftover Bostini Cream Pie for dessert. They loved it too. Later that evening, on the way home from dinner, my kids asked if there was any more Bostini. I was actually quite amazed that they remembered the name of the dessert (albeit the abridged name). There was only one bowl of custard left so Michael ate it....


but not without sharing some with his sister...
Brother and Sister enjoying the dessert together

There was still some cake and chocolate glaze leftover and so I pigged out. The chocolate with orange cake reminded me of the Jaffa Cakes (actually more of a biscuit) that I used to enjoy in my student days in Melbourne.


This was a truly satisfying challenge and a lovely dessert to enjoy. Thanks Mary!

If you'd like to see how the rest of the Daring Baker's fared, or if you'd like information on the Daring Bakers, please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll


This is the recipe

Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Makes 8 generous servings

INGREDIENTS:
Custard
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED: vanilla extract is okay)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter

INSTRUCTIONS
To prepare the custard:

Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:

Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Yee Mee - Cantonese Style Noodles




One of the great things about Malaysian food is its multicultural-ity (yeah, I know there's probably no such word but who cares - you get what I mean). You get so many different kinds of food that you sometimes dont know where to start - or where to stop for that matter!
One thing that the kids love are noodles. Oodles of Noodles! And that is one thing that we have an abundance of in this country. Lots and lots and lots of different kinds of noodles. One of our favourites is the Cantonese Style Yee Mee. Mee (or Min) is the chinese word for Noodles and Yee Mee is a particular kind of noodle that is fried to make it crispy before covering or smothering it in sauce - but the noodles are still sort of crispy-ish . You can get the prepacked, prefried variety
at supermarkets.


Last Saturday, my wife made her own version of Cantonese Yee Mee. We normally just go down to the local hawker or chinese shop and order this as its cheap and yummy but we all know there is nothing better than home cooked food don't we. Especially since it wont be laden with MSG!

The version you normally get in the shops uses pork, prawns and squid but my wife uses loads and loads of fishballs, taufoo (beancurd) and chicken strips. Cantonese Yee Mee has an egg sauce as its base and is slightly soupy before the noodles soak up all the lovely sauce.

There's no real recipe to this as its all just a matter of taste really. Also you can add in as much ingredients as you like. Use Prawns, Chicken, Pork, whatever you like basically. This is the general idea

Ingredients:

1 packet Yee Mee (usually makes 5 servings)
4 cloves garlic - chopped
300g Chicken Fillet - cut into strips
200g fishballs
100g Dried Taufoo
1 bunch Mustard Leaves (Daun Sawi) - cut into large pieces
Corn Flour for thickening
Light Soya Sauce
Water
2 Eggs - beaten

Method:
Fry the garlic. Add the chicken and fry till cooked. Add in fishballs, taufoo and mix well till cooked. Add in mustard leaves and stir till wilted. Add in Soya Sauce and about 2 cups water to form a sauce to taste. Add some corn flour mixed with a little water to thicken. Ensure there is enough sauce to cover and soak the noodles. Bring to a boil.


Add in beaten eggs and stir quickly. Add in the noodles and spoon the sauce over it to cover the noodles completely and soften it.


Its delicious. Especially eaten with some Chilli Padi (Birds Eye Chillis).


This is a closeup of the birds eye chilli


My son loves his noodles as you can well see!


This is also my entry for Presto Pasta Nights hosted by my friend Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. She did say it didn't have to be Italian Pasta and any kind of Pasta/Noodles will do!! Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Pomegranate Shots

Of all the celebrity chefs and cooking shows out there, I think I like Jamie Oliver the best. I like his cooking style and I also like his easy going attitude. The lovely wife likes him too and she loves his cookbooks.

There has been one recipe that she has been dying to try out and it's not something you cook. It's a beverage - and an alcoholic beverage at that. Now normally, I prefer to take charge of the drinks myself but she was so bent on serving this that I decided to humour her. Actually, I was pretty intrigued with it myself but was just too macho to admit it!

Jamie (yeah, both my wife and I are on first name basis with Mr Oliver!) had mentioned in his book that this beverage was supposed to be a palate cleanser so the lovely wife decided she would serve it as exactly that at our dinner party. Right before I served dessert.

It's actually rather easy to make. Place a bottle of Gin in the freezer to chill. The gin wont freeze due to the alcohol content.


Place 6 shot glasses (or one for each guest) in the freezer as well.


Peel some pomegranates and remove the purple-reddish seeds or capsules from inside. Fill the shot glass with pomegranate seeds,


pour in the ice cold gin and shoot the cocktail back. Keep the liquid in your mouth and dont swallow until you've chewed up the pomegranate seeds. You'll get a burst of flavour and then swallow the lot down.



Very nice actually although I think my wife overdid it with the gin. I'd have preferred half a shot of gin rather than the full shot. Our guests enjoyed it though and some had seconds.

Could that perhaps be a reason why they enjoyed dessert so much after??!!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Meatballs ala Dharm - Not Swedish Meatballs!



My son loves meatballs. Specifically, he likes the Swedish Meatballs served at Ikea. However, he's not too fond of the sauce, the lingonberry jelly nor the
potatoes. He just wants his meatballs.

I've often made meatballs in Bolognese sauce to go with a Spaghetti Bolognese and have also made meatballs in a spicy tomato based sauce. I've also made meatloaf but
to my son's rather advanced palate, sometimes he just wants plain old meatballs.

Who am I to refuse? I also had to prove that my meatballs were just as good, if not better, than those blasted Ikea Swedish Meatballs didn't I?? After all, meatballs don't have to come from Sweden!!

And so I seasoned the meat, I left it to marinate a while and then I pinched and rolled lovely little meatballs. I placed them on a tray and baked them so that they held their shape and then I lightly fried them with very, very little oil and a little tomato sauce - just to give the meatballs a little extra bite and crunch.

This is the recipe:

500g Minced Beef
1 large Onion - finely chopped
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
2 tbsp Tomato Sauce
Salt
Black Pepper

Method
Mix all the ingredients together and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Roll the mixture into tight balls and place on baking tray.
Bake for about 30 mins or till lightly browned. Pour the juices together with the meatballs into a pan and stir fry the balls until nicely browned.





That's it. Very easy, very quick and really quite, quite delicious. Both my son and daughter enjoyed the meatballs immensely.

Just to make sure, the next day as we were on the way out, I decided to 'test' out the success of my meatballs.

Me:"Mike, would you like to go to Ikea?"
Michael: "Errm. No thanks Daddy."
Me: "We can have lunch there if you like....you can have their Meatballs"
Michael: "No need Daddy! You're meatballs are much nicer!"

Personally, I thought they were a lot nicer too - not to mention cheaper!!


Sunday, 14 October 2007

Tri-Mushroom Masala with Screwpine Leaf Rice



The Royal Foodie Joust is a monthly competition run by Jenn, The Leftover Queen. I took part in the first two jousts but missed out on the next two due to the inavailability of the ingredients chosen.

The rules are fairly simple. 3 ingredients will be chosen by the previous month's winner. All 3 ingredients must be used in your recipe but you can add as many other ingredients as you choose. The recipes and pics must then be posted on your blog as well as a link at the leftoverqueen's blog.

For the November joust, the ingredients were selected by the previous month's winner Brittany, The Pie Lady and are as follows:

Mushrooms,
Herbs,
Cheese.

I love Mushrooms! Initially I thought about making stuffed mushrooms but then the lovely wife suggested that I go back to my roots and make something with an Indian/Malaysian influence.

I had to agree with her as I have been predisposed to making western dishes. So...... I decided on a Spicy Mushroom dish with Rice and since I use 3 different types of mushrooms, as well as lots of spices, I decided to call this original creation Tri-Mushroom Masala with Screwpine Leaf Rice.

To satisfy the ingredient requirement this is what I used:

Mushrooms:
White Button Mushrooms
Portobello Mushrooms
Enoki Mushrooms

Herbs
Curry Leaves
Coriander
Screwpine Leaves

Cheese
Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese)


Therefore, with the requirement for all three ingredients satisfied and out of the way, this is my recipe for Tri-Mushroom Masala with Screwpine Leaf Rice:

Ingredients
300 gm white Buttom mushrooms
250 gm Portobello Mushrooms
100 gm Enoki Mushrooms
2 tbs Ghee (Clarified butter)
1 large onion
3 gloves garlic
4 cloves
pinch of fenugreek
pinch of mustard seeds
pinch of cumin
pinch of fennel
4 Dried Chillis
3 stalks curry leaves (about 15 leaves)
1 1/2 tsps curry powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 large tomato
250g Panner (Indian Cottage Cheese)
1 green capsicum
1 red capsicum
Salt
Black Pepper
2 sprigs chopped fresh coriander

Method
Quarter the button mushrooms. Halve the Portobellos and then cut into thick slices. Cut the ends of the enoki mushrooms from the cluster at the botoom and set aside. Cut the dried chillis and remove the curry leaves from the stem.
Heat the Ghee. Fry the Onion, garlic, cloves, fenugreek, mustard seeds, cumin and fennel together until fragrant. Add in the curry leaves and chilli.




Add in the curry powder and chilli powder and cook well. Add in the sliced tomatoes and fry till juices come out and you get a nice smooth paste.
Add in the button and portobello mushrooms and cook well.
Meanwhile, cube the panner and lightly fry till outside of cheese is browned. Add into the Mushroom mixture and mix well to coat with the spices. Keep cooking till most of the moisture has dried up.



Add in the enoki mushrooms and give it a quick stir. Enoki mushrooms shouldn't be cooked for long or they will become rubbery. Cut the capsicum into large cubes and mix into the mixture too. If you prefer the capsicum softer, then add it in before the enoki. Season with Salt and Black Pepper.
Sprinkle with with Coriander

For Screwpine Leaf Rice.

8 Screwpine Leaves (Pandan Leaves)
4 cups Basmati rice
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
4 cloves
Olive Oil
Salt

Method
Wash screwpine leaves and break into half. Place in food processor or blender with about 1 cup water. Blend to get juices out. Strain and set aside. Liquid will be dark green.
Wash the rice and set aside. Sautee the onion, garlic and cloves in a little olive oil until onion is transparent. Add in uncooked rice and lightly fry about 2 minutes. Cook the rice (either in a rice cooker or a saucepan) with the screwpine juice and extra water. (Normal rice cooker ratio is 1 cup rice to 1.5 cups liquid).
Add in a little salt.
Rice will be tinged green but not too dark and will have a lovely fragrance and slight taste.


I served this at a dinner party with 4 friends and they all polished it off. I myself was very pleased with how it turned out and this recipe is definitely going down as one of my favourite creations.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Baked Pizza Rice





6 hungry mouths to feed. Limited time. Limited ingredients.

This was the dilemna that I was faced with last Saturday (6 Oct). We had all woken up early and my lovely wife had made Waffles for breakfast. It was such a lovely day to just laze around that we didn't even go to the market to do our usual weekly grocery shopping.

I was chilling, waiting for the Focaccia dough to proof while the kids and the wife went out to play at the nearby park. The kids were extra hungry after their run around in the park and then my wife's niece and nephew came over as well for us to 'babysit' them for a while.

"What are we doing for lunch?" I asked my lovely wife.

"Can you whip up some pasta? There's some sausages and chicken breast. And you still have some cream."

"There's some bacon too." I reminded her.

"Or why don't you make a casserole."

Rummaging around in the fridge, I realised there were no vegetables either except for two carrots and some tomatoes (tomatoes qualify as a fruit and not a vegetable but I shan't go into that now....!). Peering into the pantry, I found a can of stewed tomatoes and a light bulb went off in my head.

Chicken, sausages, bacon, carrots, tomatoes, cheese. Sounds like the ingredients for Pizza! Add in some rice, treat it like a casserole and I've got Baked Pizza Rice. And that's exactly what I did! I contemplated going out for mushrooms but I was just too darned lazy.....

Ingredients:
2 cups rice
2 chicken breasts
4-5 sausages
8 slices back bacon
2 large carrots
4 cloves garlic
4 large tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 onions
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
Black Pepper
Salt
3 slices cheddar cheese


Method
Wash and cook the rice. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the sausages into rounds, cut bacon into small pieces and dice carrots. Chop garlic and slice onions. Heat some olive oil and sautee the garlic and onion with some black pepper, oregano and basil (about a tsp each or according to taste). Add in the sausages and cook well then add in bacon and chicken. Mix well until cooked. Add in sliced tomatoes and continue to cook until tomatoes are tender. Add in stewed tomatoes and let simmer until mixture thickens. Season with Salt. Add in rice a little at a time and mix well. You can reduce the amount of rice depending on how much liquid is in your mixture.
Spoon rice mix into a casserole dish and press down until firm. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill. Cover with cheddar cheese strips or grated cheese and bake in a preheated 190C oven for about 20 mins.




The kids really loved this dish and I must admit it turned out rather delicious.

In my house, I know that I've hit on a winner when my son rubs his tummy and goes "Mmmmmm". This time he went one step further and did an impersonation of a Television advert. Dont ask me where he learnt it but it went something like this (said in a muffled, gruff voice)

"Look at this picture. New! Pizza Rice. Very yummy and good for your health"

That's my son - a riot all by himself! But I can't complain or say anything coz we all know where he gets his craziness from - his Daddy......

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Macro shots, Diopter Filters and Flowers in my Garden



I'm having so much fun with my new camera! I'm able to take shots like never before and sure, I'm still learning how to get the most out of the camera, but I think my photos have improved tremendously.



I was brought up to believe the old proverb - "A poor workman blames his tools". But it must be said that having the proper equipment greatly improves things! Then again, I don't want to or rather can't run down my trusty Powershot that gave me great pictures for the last 6 years. However, one thing the Powershot couldn't do very well is take close up or macro pictures. More often than not, I had to stand far away and zoom in - sometimes even resorting to digital zoom and thus sacrificing resolution.




My 400D takes amazing close up shots - even with a flash. The flash adjusts itself by using TTL (Through the Lens) metering and adjusting the amount of flash required. This means that I don't get glary shots or flares.



I was contemplating getting a macro lens to improve my closeup picture taking. Unfortunately, after spending a bomb on my 400D, I can't quite afford the macro lens yet. What I did decide to do was to spend a 100 bucks (that's in Ringgit) on a diopter filter. A whatopter? A Diopter.



Basically, this is a magnifying glass type of filter that greatly magnifies the object. (That's why it's called a magnifying filter!)These filters are measured in diopters, and funnily enough are the reason they are called dipoter filters. (Okay, okay, I'll stop trying to be funny)

Diopter Filters come in +1, +2, +3, +4 and +10 and the diopter indicates the refractive capacity of the lens. What this means, quite simply, is that the higher the diopter, the greater the magnification. You also have negative diopters - for reduction obviously.




Magnification and diopters are related through this simple formula

magnification = dipoters/4 + 1

This means that a +2 diopter filter will give a magnification of 1.5 based on this calculation

magnification = 2/4 + 1
= .5 + 1
= 1.5

I bought a +4 Diopter filter so using the same formula above, I get a x2 magnification.

Bear in mind that a diopter filter only magnifies at a close distance, unlike a zoom lens. Just like a magnifying glass only works at a close distance and if you looked at an object a distance away, it would be all blurry.





As a result, using Diopter filters means that your depth of field is severely restricted and becomes very, very shallow. You may also find that your autofocus doesn't quite work as well. Neither does the flash metering, so the best is to use good light for diopter shots - and macro shots in general. Increasing the aperture number (i.e a narrow aperture) can also give you slightly more Depth of Field.



All the pictures you see here have been taken with a +4 Diopter Filter at Close-Up mode on my Canon 400D. I love it!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Waffles



The lovely wife had been promising the kids waffles for a while and so last saturday, she borrowed her mom's electric waffle iron and prepared waffles for breakfast!

They turned out rather well and the kids enjoyed them. They especially liked the heart shape. There's nothing quite so nice as eating hot, fershly made waffles with loads of butter, marmalade, blackberry jam and even just plain!

Next time, I think we should have the waffles with a scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce....


Monday, 8 October 2007

Focaccia and the history of my bread baking


I love bread. All kinds of bread. Baguettes, Sourdough, flatbreads, crusty breads, soft breads, you name it. I'm still pretty much a novice when it comes to baking bread. I can still count my bread making endeavours on one hand and I can still tell you about each of them.....

The first time I ever, ever made bread was when I made a Corn Bread. That turned out really, really well as no yeast was used.

So 1-0 to me!

The second time, I got a little more adventurous and tried out a Focaccia recipe I found of the web. This required kneading and proofing but of course, being the novice I was, I didn't quite know how to proof much less knead. The bread turned out rather tough although it was still edible - just about. So there was the equaliser for the bread. The score now 1-1.

Not to be disheartened, I flipped through some recipe books and learnt about baking bread without using yeast. Yay! That sounds like fun. There was this recipe for Beer Bread which claimed to give it a sort of sourdough like taste. No kneading, no proofing. Just mixing and baking.

Bad doesnt quite describe it. The bread turned out hard and tasteless. Even the beer in it didn't lend it much taste. One goal down now. Dharm 1 - 2 Bread.

I perservered. I tried a Coke bread. I really don't know why I expected drastically different results from the Beer bread attempt, but I did. The Coke Bread turned out pretty much the same. Bad, bad, bad. Dharm 1 - 3 Bread.

So to try and get back in the game, I went back to the Focaccia recipe. This time I talked to a few people and read up a bit more. I learnt that with making bread, texture and consistency was all important. You needed to add flour or water and knead till it was the right consistency. That was all a matter of experience I was told. Clearly I didn't have enough experience as the Focaccia, although clearly an improvement, was still a little tough and dry.

Dharm 1 - 4 Bread. It was beginning to look like the start of a mauling.

Then came the Daring Baker's Cinnamon Roll challenge. I knew that consistency was the key and I also learnt to trust my gut feeling...

And from 30 meters out, a stunning strike into the top left corner of the goal. The crowd erupts.

The cinnamon rolls were soft and tasty - just like the ones sold in the shops! Success!

Dharm 2-4 Bread

I was invigorated. Yeast no longer worried me. Although still a bit wary about consistency, I was so much more confident. And so I decided to try this new Focaccia recipe that my friend KJ at A Cracking Good Egg posted about. She based her recipe on this post over at Delicious Days but adapted it somewhat. I think her adaptations suited me as well! This is the recipe:

Focaccia
Recipe source: adapted from Chefkoch-Forum (German)
Prep time: 5min., rising time: overnight (if possible); baking: 15-20 min.

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) tepid water
20g fresh or 1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp ground sea salt
2 cups flour
olive oil

toppings: coarse sea salt, rosemary, olives...really anything you fancy

In a large bowl, dissolve the 1 tsp of instant yeast in 1 cup of tepid water. Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tspn of salt. Stir for a few minutes.
Add another cup of flour and mix. To get the right consistency, as it is supposed to be soft, sticky and almost liquid, I added another 1/4 cup of water. This is the same issue that KJ had. Stir for another 2-3 minutes.

Set aside in a warm spot to proof. The dough will rise niceley. Pour dough into a cake pan well coated with olive oil. I used a round pan and had to pull the dough a little to shape it. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with preferred topping. I just used some oregano, basil and salt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a preheated 230C oven.


The Focaccia turned out lovely! Cripsy on the outside and soft on the inside.



Dharm 3-4 Bread. read the scoreline!! The crowd cheers and applauds wildy!



My bread baking is reaching new heights now. Bread may still have the better scoreline but I'm fast catching up.


My daughter loved the bread and in fact ate three pieces in one sitting. And that was before lunch!


This is a picture of her stuffing her face while watching cartoons. Now is there really anything better than making your little princess happy??!!

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin