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Natural Leaven

Monday, March 17, 2008

Leavened bread is bread that has risen, puffed with gasses that creates a cellular network of pockets throughout the dough. These gasses are produced by fermentation, a process whereby an organism, in this case one of the Saccharomyces strain of fungi we know as "yeast", releases carbon dioxides as it assimilates and uses the sugars present in the dough. Bacteria can also ferment sugars, and are often present together with yeast when fermentation occurs.

Yeast might be found on the surfaces of grains such as wheat, or on the skin of fruits rich in sugars, or in a spoonful of an already fermenting mixture. When these are mixed with fresh water and flour, the yeasts will slowly multiple and ferment. Some bacteria will give the leaven its distinctive sour aroma and taste - as with the bacterium Lactobacillus Sanfrancisco, which has been isolated by scientists, and to which the remarkable bright flavour of the San Francisco sourdough is attributed.

Adapted from Dan Lepard: The Handmade Loaf (Mitchell Beazley Food)

#Day 1:

Mix all the ingredients in a 500 ml jar or similar container. Cover and leave at room temperature (approx. 20C/68F) for 24 hours.

#Day 2:

When you open the jar, you'll see that there is a glossy, watery film on the surface, with silt at the bottom of the jar as some separation has occurred. If you smell the contents you may perceive a hint of fermentation. Add the water to the jar and then stir in the flour. Cover and leave again at room temperature (approx. 20C/68F) for 24 hours.

#Day 3:

When you open the jar, you'll notice tiny bubbles like those that form on the inside of a Champagne glass on the surface. These show that the fermentation, caused by the yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (lactobacilli), is well under way. Add the water to the jar, stir well to combine, then add flour and stir again. Cover and leave again at room temperature (approx. 20C/68F) for 24 hours.

#Day 4: Replace the rye flour with 125 grams of strong white flour if you need a white leaven.

By this time the froth of fermentation should be beginning, though the hint of acidity in the aroma is rather vague. Discard three-quarters of the mixture. Add the water and stir well. Remove the raisins by pouring the mixture through a strainer (I kept the raisins), then put the liquid back to the jar. Add the flour and stir again. Cover and leave again at room temperature (approx. 20C/68F) for 24 hours.

#Day 5: Replace the rye flour with 125 grams of strong white flour if you need a white leaven.

The fermentation should be clearly evident, and the aroma starting to become acid. Discard three-quarters of the mixture. Mix in the water, and then stir in the flour. You should have a thick paste now. Cover and leave again at room temperature (approx. 20C/68F) for 24 hours.

#Day 6 Onwards:

The mixture is bubbling and fully activated. Each day as you remove some leaven for baking, replacing it with an equivalent amount of flour and water, the aroma of the leaven will become stronger and more sharply acidic.

To keep the starter activate, alive and healthy, you will have to feed them with flour and water after discarding three-quarters of the mixture. (or using them to bake bread). Dan Lepard suggests to keep the refreshment slightly heavier on flour than water, as this slows the fermentation and stops the leaven rising and falling too quickly. It's a good idea to continue feeding and refreshing it for at least one more week before you start making bread with it.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rich, buttery, sweet or savory brioche is a French bread and often served for the breakfast. A classic brioche has a fluted bottom and an upper protruding knob, and is made in a special flute-shaped brioche pan. The bread can also be baked like a regular loaf, or braided (same as we do the Challah) or made in muffin cups. Sweet brioche is filled with chocolate or candied fruit while cheese, vegetables or meat are very often found in the savory version.

  • 360 g All-purpose flour
  • 50 g Sugar
  • 6 g Instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 100 g Butter, unsalted
  • 1 tbsp Milk to brush
  • Chocolate
  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the eggs. Mix in, then work together with a fork to make a soft dough.

  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a shiny and smooth dough, about 10 minutes. Pound the butter with the side of a rolling pin until it's pliable. Add the butter to the dough and knead until it's fully incorporated. Cover with a plastic wrap, then a towel. Place the bowl in an oven (DO NOT HAVE THE OVEN TURNED ON ) with the oven light turned on and allow to rise for 1 hour.

  3. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press down the risen dough to release air. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions. Fill each with some chocolates and wrap up. Place them in prepared muffin cups.

  4. Cover them with a few layers of plastic wraps and refrigerate the dough overnight. The volume should be doubled and it crowned well over the top of the pan. Preheat the oven to 210C/410F. Brush the brioches tops with the milk and bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the preheated oven until golden brown.

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Red Bean Cacao Pastries

Friday, March 07, 2008

Red bean paste, also known as adzuki bean paste, is a mildly sweetened paste made of red beans. You can use it either for the soup or as a filling for steamed buns, dumplings, and pastries or enjoy it on its own.

Water DoughOil DoughFilling
  • 150 g All-purpose flour
  • 15 g Icing sugar
  • 60 g Shortening
  • 60 ml Water
  • 70 g Cake flour
  • 50 g Cacao drink powder(Nestle Nesquik Kakaopulver)
  • 60 g Shortening
  • Red bean paste (or poppy seed paste)
  1. To prepare water dough: Mix well all ingredients and lightly knead for about 2 minutes until a non-sticky dough is formed. Leave the dough aside 15 minutes and go on to prepare oil dough.
  2. To prepare oil dough: Mix both ingredients together. Do not knead this dough. Divide water and oil dough each into 12 portions.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a water dough. Wrap an oil dough with this water dough to form a ball. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an oval shape. Roll the dough out and turn the dough by 90 degree to get a vertical position. Lightly flatten the dough and roll out to an oval shape again. Roll up and repeat this step for one more time. Work gently to avoid rolling the oil dough inside out or the pastry won't be flaky and layered.
  4. Gently pressing two ends of the dough to shorten it, and divide it into 2 portions. Place the cut side down, and flatten with palm of hand and roll out with rolling pin into a 3-inch round.
  5. Place one teaspoon of filling in the middle of the dough and then wrap up. Place them on the baking tray. Repeat with the rest of dough. Bake at preheated oven 180C/350F for 18-20 minutes.

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Spicy Toothpick Beef 牙签牛肉

Sunday, February 24, 2008

  • 350 g Beef (ribeye or rumpsteak)
  • Some frying oil
  • 20 g Dry chillies
  • 1/2 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Shredded ginger
  • 2-3 stalk Scallions
  • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, ground
  • 1 tbsp Roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 200 ml Water
  • 1-2 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 tbsp Jiafan rice wine
  • 1 tsp Caster sugar
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp Dark soya sauce
  • 3/4 tbsp Light soya sauce
  1. Slice the beef into 4cm pieces and pound them into rectangular strips, about 3 mm thick. Chop the scallion and cut the dry chillies into smaller sections. Place water and Szechuan peppercorns into a pot. Cook for 10 minutes over medium fire. Remove and let cool.
  2. Set the beef strips in a large bowl and add in Szechuan peppercorn water and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Mix them until well combined. Place them in the refrigerator and let marinate overnight. Skewer the beef strips with toothpicks. Heat up a frying pan with oil until very hot and fry the beef until they are just cooked. Drain.
  3. Stir-fry chillies, gingers, scallions and garlic until fragrant. Return the beef to the pan, then sprinkle ground Szechuan peppercorn and roasted sesame seeds over. Stir-fry until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

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Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A small portion of fine DARK chocolate(at least 70% cocoa) everyday keeps the doctor away. Cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants including the epicatechin and catechin. Flavonoids help relax blood pressure through the production of NO(Nitric Oxide)to reduce the blood pressure.
Well, besides the health benefits, dark chocolate tastes good and serve not only as anti-depressant, but also a stimulant. But heh, avoid eating those sugary nougat or milk chocolate and just go for the REAL DARK Chocolate! Find How To Taste Dark Chocolate here and A Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away by Daniel J. DeNoon

  • 250 g 74% Dark chocolate, chopped
  • 170 g Butter, unsalted
  • 10 g Espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp Cachaca liquor (brandy or rum)
  • 60 g Castor sugar
  • 120 g Almond, ground
  • 5 Eggs, large
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 tsp Lemon juice
  • 100 g Icing sugar, sifted
  1. Grease a 24-or 26-cm springform pan with 20 grams of butter and line with baking paper. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180C/350F.
  2. Beat the whites slowly with salt until they are frothy, then add in lemon juice to the foam. Salt and acid will help stabilize the foam. Gradually add in sifted icing sugar and continue beating the whites until firm peaks form.
  3. Gently heat the chocolate and 150 grams of butter in a bowl over boiling water, stirring constantly, until melted. Whisk in espresso powder, ground almond and liquor. Beat egg yolks together with caster sugar and add into the chocolate mixture.

  4. Fold egg whites into chocolate batter in three additions until completely incorporated. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a thin crust has formed on the surface. Remove from springform, cool completely on a wire rack. To serve, sieve the cake lightly with icing sugar and drizzle with vanilla sauce if desired.

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Sliced Beef In Cumin Sauce

Friday, February 08, 2008

  • 200 g Beef rump steak
  • 1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • A few of dried chillies
  • Some salad oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cooked sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Jiafan rice wine
  • 1 stalk Spring onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp Ginger paste
  • 1/2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp Five-spiced powder
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Water
  • 2 tsp Chilli powder
  • 3 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Chilli oil
  • 1/3 tsp Chicken powder
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil
  1. Wash and pat dry beef. Thinly slice the beef and mix in the marinade. Let stand for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat up a wok or skillet with enough oil over the medium heat. Add in the marinated beef and blanch until cooked. Dish off and drain.
  3. Leave a little of oil in the wok and add in pepper corns and chillies. Stir until fragrant and return the beef slices to the wok. Add in the seasoning and continue stirring until the sauce has dried. Dish off and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Candied Banana Fritters

Thursday, February 07, 2008 | © 2014 | | © 2014 |

  • 500 g Banana (not too ripe)
  • Frying oil
  • 30 g All-purpose flour
  • 20 g Cornstarch
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Water
  • 150 g Granulated sugar
  • 5 g Corn oil
  1. In a bowl combine the egg, AP-flour, 10 grams cornstarch and water to form a smooth batter. Heat a frying pan half filled with oil till 180C/350F. Prepare a serving plate lightly greased with oil or butter.
  2. Peel bananas, cut into 3 to 4 diagonal chunks and roll in 10 grams of cornstarch to coat. Dip into the batter, making sure each piece is evenly coated. Low the coated banana pieces into the heated oil and deep fry them until golden in color. Remove and drain.

  3. Heat 5 grams of oil in another clean skillet, add sugar and stir fry over low heat until the sugar dissolves and turns into a syrup. Turn off the heat and return the fried bananas into the syrup. Quickly and carefully mix them and plunge into the prepared serving plate. | © 2014 |

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Shrove Tuesday Honey Okara Pancakes

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent(in 40 days is the Easter) on Ash Wednesday. The traditional thin and flat English pancake is made of batter and then pan-fried in a pan. It is slightly thicker than a French crêpe, and thinner than American flapjack, which is leavened with baking powder and served with syrup.
Okara, or soya pulp is the leftover soya bean pulp from making soya milk and tofu.

  • 70 g All-purpose flour
  • 20 g Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 package / 8 g Vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs (small)
  • 120 g Okara, cooked
  • 150 g Evaporated milk
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Corn oil
  1. Sift together AP flour, starch, baking powder, vanilla sugar and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, blend eggs, okara, soya drink and unsweetened condensed milk until well combined.
  2. Sift the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk them till just incorporated. Add in honey, corn oil and mix until they are thoroughly combined.
  3. Grease a non-stick frying pan lightly with salad oil, heat it until hot. Pour 2-3 spoonfuls of the pancake batter onto the hot surface. When bubbles rise on face of pancake, flip it and cook until golden brown. Drizzle honey over and enjoy them while still hot. Stack the pancakes on a plate set over a pot of simmering water, to keep them warm while you are still making the rest.

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Chocolate Chiffon Layer Cake

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The chiffon cake has the richness of the butter cake, and the fluffiness of the sponge. It is prepared with oil(corn or sunflower), eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings. Chiffon is traditionally baked in a tube pan, but any spring-form pans work good too.

Yolk BatterMeringue
  • 120 g All-purpose flour
  • 80 g Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 140 ml Grape juice
  • 100 g Semisweet chocolate
  • 30 g Castor sugar
  • 100 ml Mazola corn oil
  • 6 Egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp Cold water
  • 7 Egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
  • 200 g Powdered sugar

  1. In a small pot stir together half tablespoon of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water until smooth. Heat the mixture over the low fire while stirring until the starch thickens. Set aside to cool. Prepare a deep baking tray half-filled with warm water and place a wire rack atop. Set it on the second lower shelf in the oven. Start preheating to 175C/350F.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Whisk together AP flour, remaining cornstarch, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Combine chocolate and grape juice into a sauce pan. Melt chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally. Place melted chocolate mixture, vanilla extract, egg yolks and vegetable oil in a larger bowl. Whip until completely blended. Gradually sift flour mixture into chocolate mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined.

  3. Beat the whites slowly with a pinch of salt until they are frothy, then add in lemon juice to the foam. Salt and acid will help stabilize the foam. Continue beating the whites and gradually add in sifted powdered sugar when they have almost reached the soft peak. After powdered sugar has been beaten into the meringue and it forms soft peaks, add in cornstarch mixture, beating to firm peaks. Cornstarch helps to keep the meringue firm.

  4. With a rubber spatula fold 1/3 of meringue into the yolk batter to lighten it (unnecessary too thoroughly blended) . Quickly but gently fold the remaining meringue into chocolate batter in two additions, folding after each addition just until no white streaks remain. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 or 11-inch round pan and place it on the top of prepared tray. (This resembles to a bain marie, ensuring that chiffon cake bakes gently and evenly, without risking water trapping through springform to the cake during the baking) . Bake for 65-75 minutes, until wood pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Turn on a wire rack to cool. You can enjoy the cake as it is, or with desired sauces or toppings, or slice it horizontally into 3-6 layers to make a cream layer cake.

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Stabilizing Whipped Cream

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Creamy whipped cream with a hint of sweetness, it’s perfect for piping and decorating layered cakes, or making mousses or just as an accompaniment to tarts and many other desserts. To create whipped cream, dairy whipping cream is usually sweetened with sugar during beating.
Cream are categorized and sold according to the amount of milkfat or butterfat they contain. Light whipping cream has between 30% and 36% butterfat and heavy whipping cream contains 36%-40% fat, or even 42%. If a cup of cream in the supermarket labeled whipping cream, then most likely means light whipping cream. Both creams can be turned into whipped cream by beating them with air. The fat grobules in the cream then trap the air bubbles, resulting the foam, which is roughly the size of the original cream.

"Whipping Cream" with varied butterfat content
#30% Butterfat#32% Butterfat
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#33% Butterfat#35% Butterfat
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In Germany whipping cream (Schlagsahne) usually contains 30%-33% fat, if cream has 35% fat content, then it is probably labeled as “Schlagsahne Extra” (33% fat content from Eifel NRW ) or “Teesahne” with maximal 40% butterfat and “Crème Double or Doppelrahm” between 43% and 45% butterfat content. Cream has slightly lower butterfat content, between 25% and 29% are labeled and simply sold as “Sahne”. “Coffee cream or Kaffeesahne” here contains 10-15% fat. In UK, a cream labeled as “Double Cream”, must contain 48% butter fat, and 35% for a whipping cream. “Half Cream” with 12% fat content used only for coffee in UK is correspondent with German “Kaffeesahne”, while a 18% “Single or Light Cream” correspond to American “Half And Half. Ok, enough confusion. All you have to remember is that whipping cream with a fat content of 30% to 36% works best when making whipped cream. The higher the butterfat, the more flavourful and stable cream will be.

  • 400 g Dairy whipping cream
  • 15 g Icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 Plain gelatin sheets
  • OR 1 tsp granulated gelatin
  • Some cold water
#Leaf Gelatin #Soaked In Water
  1. Cream is easier to whip up when cold. So start by chilling a large, clean mixing bowl (preferably stainless steel bowl which helps keeping cream colder), a beater or whisk, and the cream in the refrigerator overnight or until thoroughly chilled. To make sure they are VERY cold, I put the mixing bowl and beater in the freezer 15 minutes again before start whisking the cream. In summer time, place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water and whip the cream in the coolest place of the room. Turn on the air conditioner if you have one. While the bowl and beater are still in the freeze, prepare the stabilizer.
  2. Submerge the gelatin sheets in a small bowl filled with cold water until softened, 3-5 minutes, then gently squeeze out excess water. If using granulated gelatin, add 2 tablespoons or just enough of cold water to the gelatin so that the liquid is thoroughly absorbed. Temper the bowl of softened gelatin inside another pan of very hot water, or heat it in a microwave on high for about 20 seconds. Stir the heated mixture until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool it to about the body temperature. Do not let the gelatin set.
  3. Besides gelatin, the starch-based stabilizers, like RUF, Dr. Oetker, or Kuechle, can also be used to help stabilize the whipped cream. They are usually to be found in every supermarkets in Germany.
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  4. Whip cream either by mixer(handheld or stand) or by hand (not recommended though, especially when whipping a lot of cream; if you do, use a balloon whisk). To make life easier, I use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment to whip cream. Fill the well-chilled mixing bowl at least 1/5 full fitted with the well-chilled whisk with nice cold whipping cream, so that air can be incorporated quickly and efficiently with the cream.
  5. To avoid cream splashing, start it off slowly until the mixture becomes soft and thicker. The cream drops from the whisk when it is lifted. Now it is the right time to add in extract and icing sugar (icing sugar contains cornstarch which helps stabilize the whipped cream) along the sides of the bowl, and continue to beat at medium speed. Slowly add in the dissolved gelatin all at once and beat until the cream holds soft peaks. The volume of well-whipped cream is about doubled. Overbeating will cause it to curdle and become butter.
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