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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Turkey ham-mozzarella pizza pull-apart bread


I'm taking advantage of the wonderful weather we're having by baking bread . Hopefully next month , it'll still be cool enough to manually knead some since I got this mile-long list of bread that I've been wanting to bake.

Pull-apart bread especially savory ones is always a favorite and best eaten warm , with cup of coffee or an Ice-cold Coke . When I make it , I usually filled it with processed meat ( ha ! ) like ham or sausages or bacon or salami and coupled with glorious shredded mozzarella , it always reminds me of pizza which I only eat once in a blue moon . Trust me , I'm always tempted to buy it as there are 2 pizza joint within few minutes walk from our flat and don't forget the bakeries *sigh*


I used the basic dough recipe that I found at The America's Test Kitchen baking book . This is , I think , one of the easiest recipe that I used so far and if you have a sturdy food processor it'll take you roughly 4 minutes to make it . But kneading it by hand is a breeze as well and no machine to clean afterwards ! The dough is very easy to handle and can be easily stretch without tearing . The recipe below is half and will make one 14-inch pizza .

Instead of using pasta sauce ( I haven't seen pizza sauce here yet ) I used the pesto that I found at the farthest corner of the fridge , that pesto by the way , is already expired , but don't worry , I'm still alive lol  The top of this pizza bread is delightfully crisp and full of melted cheese with slices of ham here and there but bottom half won't brown that much .

If you're looking for an easy recipe for your weekend baking , this is a must-try !


Basic pizza dough , recipe adapted from The Americas Test Kitchen Family-Baking Book , page 137

308 grams bread flour
1 1/8 teaspoons instant yeast 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

* In a mixing bowl , combine the flour , yeast and salt , whisk until incorporated . Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the oil and water . Use a wooden spoon / sturdy spatula or your hand to mix everything together to form a shaggy dough . Tip dough into a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth , form into a round ball and transfer into a lightly-oiled bowl , cover tightly with plastic wrap . Let proof in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size .

For the filling :  

140 grams ( Butterball ) smoked turkey ham , cut into wide strips
120 grams shredded mozzarella
4 tablespoon store-bought ( Barilla ) pesto 

To make the pull-apart bread :

* Preheat oven to 200°C . Lightly butter ( standard size ) 8 pieces muffin tins , set aside .

* Sprinkle the work surface with flour and tip in the dough , using a rolling pin , dusted with flour , roll out dough into a roughly 16 by 12-inch rectangle . Spread pesto evenly on top , sprinkle with mozzarella and top with slices of ham . On the short side of the filled dough , using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife , cut it into 6 equal pieces then stack each piece on top of each other , you'll have 6 layers of rectangles . Cut these layers , crosswise , into 8 pieces and place these layered strips on a prepared pan .

* Bake pizza bread for 25 minutes . Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before serving . Serve either warm or at room temperature .


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Baked pulled chicken sliders ( with homemade brioche slider buns )


Let's take a break from baking cupcakes , shall we ?!

I've made these sliders few days ago and everytime the recipe works really well , okay , with some tweaks , I ask myself , why didn't I make this before ?!

The recipe is quiet straightforward except for a long list of spices , which if you like to cook , can be found lurking in your pantry . I never had this kind of spice rub before and the flavor and smell of the grilled chicken reminds me of some Indian-style dishes , it's the cumin , I think . Or nearly like a simple Mexican-style spice rub . For the sauce , I didn't go overboard with chillies as one of my test tasters doesn't like too spicy food . Though the grilled chicken was a bit spicy , the spiciness is muted when you add it to the sauce . 


The grilled chicken on its own tastes so delicious that I've eaten nearly a whole piece of it before adding the rest into the sauce ! If only I had some leftover rice at that time ! If you don't like to shred the chicken , you just can cut it into 4 slices ( depending on the size ) and toss it with the sauce or brush the sauce all over the chicken . 

For the slider buns , you can use hamburger buns as stated at Cooking Light magazine but I opted to make a brioche . Initially , I was keen to try Bouchon's Bakery's Nanterre brioche but I returned the book at the library few days ago without copying the recipe *sigh* So , I used Rachel Khoo's brioche ( really , really good ! ) recipe which is a slider buns . I kneaded the very sticky dough manually because as of now , I still don't have a standmixer . Paging donors , anyone ?! lol 

Don't forget to make the simple cabbage slaw as it adds a delightful crunch to these pretty awesome sliders ! 


Recipe adapted from Cooking light Magazine , October 2013 , page 92 or check original recipe here

Chicken :

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
925 grams / 4 pieces skinless , boneless whole chicken legs

Sweet-and not-so spicy sauce :

2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 clove garlic , minced
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon allspice powder
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

* To prepare chicken  : Combine the first 6 ingredients and rub evenly over chicken , set aside .

* Line the roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil ( to catch the chicken drippings ) and preheat oven to 400°C . Place chicken on the highest wire rack ( I'm using a tabletop oven ) and grill chicken for 20 minutes , 10 minutes on each side . Let stand for 5 minutes then shred with 2 forks .

* While chicken is grilling , prepare the sauce . Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat , add onion , cook for 5 minutes , stirring from time to time . Stir in the sugar , garlic , mustard , chilli flakes and allspice powder , cook for 30 seconds . Stir in ketchup and vinegar , bring to a boil . Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened , stirring occasionally . Stir in the shredded chicken and cook for another 2 minutes , take pan off heat .

* This pulled chicken is more than enough for the brioche recipe below .

Brioche , recipe adapted from Rachel Khoo , with minor tweaks

Makes 9 ( 2-inch slider buns ) and 2 (  3-inch ) buns

260 grams bread flour
25 grams caster sugar
5 grams salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
70 ml UHT whole milk , warm
3 medium eggs
100 grams unsalted butter , cubed , at room temperature

Egg wash :  Beat 1 egg then add in 2 tablespoon milk , stir well , set aside  

Mix together 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon black sesame for topping

* In a mixing bowl , whisk together the flour , sugar and salt then add in the yeast and give it a good stir . Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture , pour in the milk and the eggs . Mix together using a wooden spatula until it forms a very wet dough . Transfer to a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes , the dough will be very wet . Add in the butter and continue to knead or slap ( onto the surface ) the dough for 20 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic or do a window pane test . The dough is still tacky so , sprinkle some cake flour onto the work surface and on top of the dough and form into a ball . Transfer dough into a lightly-oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap and proof for an hour at room temperature . Put dough into the fridge and let it rise overnight . You can still proceed to divide the dough after it doubled in size and bake it on the same day but it is easier to handle a well-chilled brioche dough especially if the weather is warm . 

* Take out brioche dough from the fridge , dust work surface and your hands with cake flour and weigh dough ( my final dough is 582 grams )  , 9 pieces at 50 grams and 2 pieces at 66 grams and form into small balls . Lay each dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment . Cover dough and let proof for about an hour , depending on the warmth of your kitchen , or until doubled in size . 

* Meanwhile , preheat oven to 180°C . 

* Brush top of the buns with egg wash and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds . Bake for 20 minutes , take out buns and let cool on the wire rack . 

Simple cabbage slaw : 

* Whisk together 3 tablespoons mayo , 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar , 1 teaspoon sugar , 1 teaspoon light brown sugar , a dash of ground white pepper and a generous pinch of salt . Pour dressing into 2 cups of shredded cabbage ( green and purple ) and carrot , toss to coat , chill in the fridge before using . 

To assemble the pulled chicken sliders : 

* Cut several pieces of brioche buns into half , toast , cut side down , into a heated pan until it turns lightly brown . 

* Place some pulled chicken on the bottom half of the buns , add in the slaw then close the sliders . Serve with chips or fries and juice or soda . 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pistachio cupcake with pistachio-lime cream cheese frosting


You would have thought that after I ingested most of the banana cupcakes that I baked few days ago , I don't have a hankering for yet another unwholesome goodies ?! Yeah , you shouldn't have made that frosting ..... Oops !!!

I bought pistachios few months ago and been meaning to bake these cupcakes for quiet sometime . I want to make another go at the same recipe that I made eons ago , go on , click the link , just don't mind those old unappetizing photos hee hee ! 


I love dense cake , I'm partial to pound cake but I like cupcakes with spongy/fluffy crumbs . The texture of this cupcake is dense as no leavening agent is used . I was thinking that it can be made a bit lighter by substituting some ingredients . So , I made some tweaks , crossing my fingers that my substitutions will work since pistachios are not that cheap ha ! In my tweaks , I used self-raising flour instead of all-purpose , used some oil instead of all butter since nuts are naturally-oily ( but I'll use less butter next time , I think 80 grams will be good ) . I also used less sugar though I haven't reduced it ruthlessly .  

Surprisingly , the texture is really fluffy which I wasn't expecting ! But wait , I don't have a consistent results , do check out images of the un-frosted cupcakes ( last photo below ) *sigh* I'm using a tabletop oven and I can only bake 1 pan at a time , I baked these cupcakes in 3 batches ugh ! The first batch turned out to be the most fluffy ( I forgot to take photo of it ) but since I filled each liners to nearly full , the top of the cakes look like a mushroom , good thing the batter didn't overflow during baking tsk tsk ! I should have filled the liners at about two-thirds . The texture of the last batch is slightly dense ( see last photo ) , maybe because it has been seating at room temperature for nearly an hour before I baked them ?!

Inconsistent results aside , there's no denying that these cakes tastes divine , okay , according to my unsophisticated palate ! It's moist , fluffy ( well , except for the last batch ) it smells sinful and just delicious ! Oh , the frosting ! You need it , trust me ! Surreptitiously looking at my ever expanding girth shhhhhh lol 


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes or check full recipe here

Makes 17 cupcakes 

100 grams ground pistachios
100 grams unsalted butter , at room temperature
40 grams canola oil
90 grams cream cheese
180 grams sugar 
3 large eggs , at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

* Preheat oven to 160°C . Line standard size muffin pan with 17 paper liners .

* Beat butter , oil , cream cheese and ground pistachios over medium speed until light and fluffy , 3 minutes . Add sugar , in 3 additions , until smooth , about 3 minutes , scrape the sides of the bowl as needed . On low speed , add eggs , one at a time beating just until incorporated , beat in vanilla . By hand , using a spatula , mix in flour and salt , stir until well combined , the mixture will be thick . Divide batter evenly among liners , about two-thirds full .

* Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean . Cool completely before frosting . Or you can serve it warm or at room temperature without frosting .

Pistachio-lime cream cheese frosting :

100 grams cream cheese , cut into cubes , softened
100 butter , half salted and half unsalted , cut into cubes , softened
100 grams icing sugar , sifted
25 grams ground pistachios
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest

* Beat half of the cream cheese and the rest of the ingredients until smooth . Add in the remaining cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy . Transfer frosting into a piping bag , chill for about 15 minutes before using ( if it is below 20°C in your side of the world , you can use it right away )