TWD: Leaf-Shaped Fougasse

holding fougasse

The Tuesdays With Dorie bakers baked leaf-shaped fougasses this week using a focaccia dough! To see how other bakers fared with this recipe, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie page here.

This is only my second time making artisan bread so I’ve a hell lot to learn still! Also my first time using my new KMix Stand Mixer aaaahhh ❤ ❤

I got the flour:water ratio a bit wrong when I was calculating to make 2/3 of the recipe though, so the dough wasn’t that ideal 😦 and mum said bread was much too hard for her so I always end up eating it myself haha! No amount of exercise is gonna save me in this life 😥

fougasse3
Made the dough for this on friday night while having a durian party with my family ^^ Then put it into the fridge to rest and develop its flavour for a day, baked it on sunday morning.

fougasse against door

Leaf looks kinda aged though hahaha! It shall be a autumn leaf la.

fougasse2Bread making always seemed so daunting and I always thought that you have to go for professional classes to learn it cause there are a 101 terms that come along with it. But practice really makes perfect so even though I’m a poor student I still can afford to experiment in the kitchen with breads. Just that I feel compelled to eat everything even if it’s not that good haha!

And its ingredients are relatively cheap also – just flour, yeast and water – unless you use more complex types of flour like rye etc which is more expensive in Singapore. Much cheaper than the ingredients for cupcakes/cakes/cookies because butter is deceptively expensive!!

Gonna get a bread belly from this hehehe.

 

February ’14 Bakes: Mini White Chocolate Cheesecakes and Vday Homemade Pretzels

Wow, I’ve had no time to update at all in February, been so bogged down by school and life. Despite that, still managed to drop everything to bake twice and here are the photos!

I had my biggest baking adventure in the beginning of February, and also my first baking ‘job’! Kelly asked me to bake my mini white chocolate cheesecakes for her 21st birthday party and I was very excited about it :> My first commissioned baking!!

Preparing the biscuit bases!

All stacked up!

I really wanted to make them look more professional – first job after all! -still celebrating- *\o/*
Here’s me drying the raspberries and blueberries after washing them, with a fan directed at them and all hehe. And it was also my first time piping chocolate! Getting the temperature of the chocolate right was a little tricky – too hot and it’ll be too liquid and impossible to pipe. Too cold and it’d have hardened into a unyielding lump. The 2s turned out fine but I had a little more trouble with the 1s as I had to reheat the chocolate after being done with the 2s, and that’s when the temperature calibration went a little haywire! Thank goodness it all turned out fine in the end 🙂

 In total I made about 58, and decided to freehand the letters K-E-L-L-Y for my dear birthday girl 🙂 The many compliments about the cheesecakes made me a very happy girl; really love it when I see people enjoying the food I make !

Happy birthday again, Kelly! ❤

The second time this month I baked was for Valentine’s day with Dino ^^
Pretzels are naturally heart-shaped and in love ~


Portioning the dough. I don’t have a bread mat so I stuck clingwrap all over the dining table (#student-budget baking)

Shaping the pretzels! Tried to make them as heart-shaped as possible ❤ This is after shaping, before dunking them in boiling baking soda water bath, which gives them their distinct pretzel taste!

I took note to submerge each side for only 15 seconds instead of 30s, after Dino and my first attempt at making homemade pretzels. So this time it wasn’t too overpowering \o/

The end product  ^^ They turned out fatter than intended but, who’s to fault a heart bursting with love? #cheesy #toomuch. Actually for normal eating purposes, should make them slightly skinnier so they’re not too doughy in the centre. Improvement to note for the future: Roll the dough out skinnier, and dunk them into the bath soon after so the dough doesn’t rise anymore!

Forming a giant heart. If you noticed some of them have slightly diseased uneven skin, it’s cause I tried putting some coarse salt on them before baking. Looks slightly strange but tastes pretty good! Next time, I should probably sprinkle the salt after they’ve been baked instead of before they go into the oven.

Happy Valentine’s day to my Dino! :> 
Featuring half eaten pretzel, cause I just had to try some. This is why cooks get fat!
Hope everyone had a very good February and let us March on~

January ’14 Bakes – Pretzels, Pineapple Tarts and Kueh Lapis!

Hello!

Week 3 of school just ended and it has been mad busy – I’ve hardly had time to keep up with work and sleep, let alone bake! Didn’t manage to participate in this month’s Tuesdays With Dorie challenges, which was a pity because everyone’s Vanilla Chiffon Rolls look so good, yum! To take a look at the creations of all the talented bakers, head over to Tuesdays With Dorie.

The slivers of time I’ve stolen to bake though, have seen more failures than successes, but I’m so blessed still to be learning so much each time.

These are the pretzels I baked with Dino, for our picnic!
I think we added too much baking soda though, and we used a quick recipe which didn’t call for a rise. The pretzels turned out very chewy and a tad too tough!

Lesson learnt:  Don’t try and save time, and compromise on quality instead! Good things come to those who wait (flavour and texture really does develop when the dough is rising). This seems like a lesson that can be applied to all the areas of our life as well.

We also made some very delish sandwiches but we had no time to take photos because we really had to chase the sun ~ In the end it was a night picnic but miraculously the sky stayed a haunting purple the entire night :>

I also decided to take up some baking classes at a community centre! Unfortunately it’s only a demo class meaning we usually watch; if we were graded for class part for this class, this would definitely be an A+ for me though ! Feel a little silly asking so many questions sometimes when I’m surrounded by mostly housewives and retirees, but they all seem to find this little uni girl quite fascinating hehe.

During the latest class, we got a recipe for pineapple tarts since Chinese New Year was just around the corner and we even got to get our hands all sticky and oily during class by helping to roll them! Alas, disaster struck, and accident-prone me managed to trip and drop the small box of tarts each of us got to bring home -just- as I stepped on the bus, strewing pineapple explosions all over the front entrance 😥 Sorry bus uncle, he looked really annoyed then. Thank goodness some kind souls came forward to offer me tissues and helped me pick the bigger pieces off the floor as I was really paralysed in shock and embarrassment :((

 Hence, on my free Friday, Lin, Benz and I decided to embark on a quest to make more pineapple tarts! (185 to be exact – it filled up about 9 containers!!)

Did some research online from Dino’s assessment of my teacher’s recipe (had a measly 5 pieces after the accident) and modified the recipe slightly. Here are some pictures from that very ambitious day – so glad everything turned out super well!

Wasn’t as ambitious as to make our own pineapple jam though, this pineapple jam from the brand Bake King. Maybe I shall try making my own next year, but the store-bought ones have already set a high benchmark!

Fresh from the oven – it made the house smell sooooo amazing, the aroma of the butter was just intoxicating :’>

Cooling on the racks – Lin’s OCDness meant they must be in straight lines before I could take a photo. I must admit that does make the photo look so much better!

 
 We had some leftover tart crust dough, so we had a lot of fun shaping them cutely, and they’re even more fun to eat!! Pop one of those squares into your mouth for a burst of buttery goodness!

Also managed to extend my local baked good repertoire during one of the classes with Kueh Lapis!
It does take patience to add each layer on one by one, and I can’t wait to try it at home.

Truly homemade when you can see the uneven layers (#tryingtocoveruptheinconsistencies hehe)

It’s CNY Day 2 today, hope everyone’s been having a very Happy Chinese New Year! It’s my favourite festival of all, the time to celebrate familial love and warmth. Looking forward to seeing my cousins again later. And of course, the festivities are so centered around awesome food!! CNY’s truly a time where you forget what it’s like to feel hungry because everyone around you is plying you with food all the time; better get down to exercising real soon~ Have a good feasting week ahead, ^^

TWD: Challah!

Exams for this semester are finally over! Even though the days leading up to Property and Company Law seemed so arduously long, this sem did seem to fly by; this has really been the best semester of university so far 🙂

I’ve been raring to bake for Tuesdays with Dorie ever since I read about it quite a few weeks back and it was a real exercise of self-restraint that I managed not to touch my oven till after exams. (Admittedly, did whip up brownies for the food party during the last prop tutorial, but that was for class and hence, it was homework? Excuses.)

So, I finally made good use of my free Sunday to bake this week’s tuesdayswithdorie challenge, Challah.
It was fun reading up about the Jewish traditions and significance that come with this tradtional Jewish bread. For example, that a small portion of the dough is supposed to be separated from the rest, in memory of the portion of dough set aside for the Jewish priests as a tithe in biblical times. Also, during Rosh Hashanah, challah is braided into spiral rounds (symbolising the continuity of creation) and other shapes! I love how food is such an insight into another culture.

This was my first time really doing some heavy duty hand kneading and working with yeast dough that needed 2 rises. It was very satisfying giving the dough a good solid punch in between the rises.

I had some difficulty trying to figure out whether the dough was ready to be proofed and decided to err on the side of caution and kneaded for longer. However, caution was present in abundance, and I might have over-kneaded the dough ):

I do think, though, that the challah is one of the most beautiful breads. This is just a normal 3 strand braid, but they do more elaborate 4, 5, even 6 strand braids that turn out so elegant but homely.

Another aspect I could have improved on was reading my oven better. Unfortunately the oven I have isn’t that great, very prone to losing heat, has a hot spot on the left. I also did not recognise that my oven is too small to position the racks dividing the oven into thirds, and hence the top third challah browned (and almost burnt) really really fast! (hence sadly, the slightly burnt tops)

It is true that every oven has a character of its own, and it’s up to you to develop a relationship with it, work with and around it’s flaws and celebrate its beauties. I first got mine approx. 7 years ago (has it been that long?), although I only really started using it regularly 1.5 years ago. Perhaps it’s hard to force a relationship out of 2 fundamentally incompatible people; My oven (jokingly referred to as Orion, son of fire)  prefers spontaneity and unpredictability while those unsettle me.

So although Orion has been faithful albeit with its fair share of problems, perhaps it’s time to consider an Olivander or an Ophelia soon?

/edit
so I made french toast this morning from leftover challah for the brother and myself, and it was really yums. Challah, as well as brioche, make really good bread bases for french toast 🙂