Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Japanese curry buns

With the weather getting warmer , I need to bake as much as I can before our very tiny kitchen turns into a hell's kitchen ! Baking can be therapeutic but not if the kitchen's temperature can go as high as mid-30's in the morning *sigh*

I never had this kind of bread before so when I saw Sonia's post about Japanese curry buns , I was delighted to see another savoury buns to  try . Of course , she posted the recipe way back in 2013 but as the saying goes , Too many breads to bake , so little time ha !

Japanese curry bun is made by wrapping a prepared curry filling inside a small portion of dough . It is then covered in breadcrumbs or panko and traditionally , deep fried but baking it is a good , healthy choice .  

Recipe is pretty much straightforward , make the curry filling first and you can do it the day before . If you love Japanese curry with rice , double the recipe , trust me , the filling on its own tastes really good ! If you tried Izumi's curry , this recipe is a copycat or maybe it's the other way around lol

The dough is very easy to handle but I added some water as the dough is a bit dry while I was kneading it . When you wrap in the filling , be sure to seal the edge well and roll the dough until it is smooth and tight , you want the filling to be in the middle , so that after it is baked , the filling should be evenly distributed , not in the other half of the bun and the other part has no filling at all . I used a very coarse breadcrumbs and I'm not so happy with how the bread look , I should have crushed some of the more coarser crumbs .

Remember to let the buns cool down for about 10 minutes before consuming . The filling is piping hot and it nearly burned my greedy mouth ....

Recipe adapted from Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover

Makes 14 curry buns and 4 ( no filling ) buns

Japanese curry buns filling : 

90 grams ( peeled weight ) onion , finely sliced
115 grams ( peeled weight ) carrot , cut into small cubes 
300 grams boneless , skinless whole chicken legs , thinly sliced 
75 grams Japanese curry roux
420 grams water 

42 grams butter , cut into small cubes 
42 grams flour 

* Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok over medium heat , stir-fry onion and carrot until fragrant , 3 minutes , add in water . 

* In a nonstick pan , pan fry chicken slices over high heat until it changes color , 2 minutes . Add chicken into the  wok , let mixture boil , then turn down heat to medium-low , cover and simmer for 13 minutes . Add in the curry roux , stir well until dissolved and continue to cook for another 2 minutes . 

* Meanwhile , in a clean nonstick pan , melt butter over low heat , when melted add in the flour , stir until flour is incorporated and mixture is smooth and thickened . Add it to the curry mixture , stir well until thick . Transfer to a bowl , let cool completely before using , you can refrigerate the mixture overnight .

* Divide mixture into 14 pieces at 45 grams each and form into a small balls , place into a baking sheet and chill in the fridge until needed  . 

For the curry buns dough : 

500 grams bread flour 
60 grams caster sugar 
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast 
1 large egg , lightly beaten , at room temperature 
235 grams water ( plus 15 grams )
50 grams unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch cubes , at room temperature 

1 egg , lightly beaten and strain 
panko or breadcrumbs 

* Mix all ingredients for the dough except the butter . Knead for 10 minutes , add water if the dough is a bit dry , then add in the butter in 3 additions until dough is smooth and elastic , another 15 minutes . Transfer dough into a lightly-oiled bowl , cover tightly with plastic wrap and let proof until doubled in size , about 1 hour or depending on the warmth of your place . 

* Final dough is 895 grams . Weigh dough into 14 pieces at 50 grams each ( 4 at 48 grams each ) . Form into balls , cover and let rest for 15 minutes . 

* Working 1 dough/portion at a time , using your fingers , flatten one dough into about 3 1/2-inch diameter . Place one curry filling on top , wrap dough around it and seal , rolling between your hands so that dough will be smooth . 

* Brush bun with egg wash , place onto the plate with bread crumbs and cover the glazed dough well . Place in a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet , cover with plastic wrap or tea towel and continue with the rest of the dough and filling . 

* Proof filled dough for 35 to 45 minutes .

* Preheat oven to 200°C . Bake curry buns , in the middle of the oven , for 16 to 18 minutes or until tops are lightly-golden . The filling will be very hot so be cautious when consuming  after few minutes of taking buns out of the oven . 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pasar malam / Hawker-style fried chicken wings

I saw Doreen's pasar malam ( hawker stall/street market in Malay ) fried wings and boy , those wings certainly made my mouth water ! The recipe was given to her by a friend who works in a canteen and according to her these hawker-style wings sell like hot cakes ! I only followed the batter recipe and used some aromatics and chicken powder to marinate the wings as I don't have Ajinamoto ( one of the company which produces MSG ) . MSG is a flavor enhancer with umami taste , which intensifies the flavor of meat . I grew up eating foods with MSG , my Mom added it in some dishes like meat stew , fish soup , for marinating meat ,  I think she even uses it until now .  If you're leery of using MSG or chicken powder , just use coarse sea salt with any aromatics that you prefer in marinating the wings . 

The recipe is pretty straightforward as most fried chicken recipe , turmeric powder is added to the batter so it gives a beautiful yellow color to the batter . Note that the batter is bland , it has only a subtle turmeric taste so you need the chicken to be flavorful and marinating it for several hours or overnight is a must especially if you won't use MSG .

The wings were delightfully crunchy in every bite and it'll stay that way until it's cold . But then if you're looking at a plateful of beautifully-cooked chicken wings , how long does it take you to finish scarfing it all ?!

Please check original recipe @ Doreen of My Favourite DIY

850 grams chicken wings , 5 whole wings and 6 mid-joint wings 
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoons finely chopped ginger 
1 stalk lemongrass , white part only , finely chopped
1 1/2  teaspoons chicken powder

Batter : 

10 tablespoons / 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
4 tablespoons rice flour
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder 
generous pinch of salt 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
150 ml water 

* Combine the wings , garlic , ginger , lemongrass , and chicken powder , mix well and marinate for at least 1 hour , preferably overnight . If you marinate it overnight , take out from the fridge 30 minutes before using .

* In a small mixing bowl , combine the 2 flours , turmeric powder , salt and pepper , whisk until well combined . Pour in water gradually , whisking as you pour until batter is smooth , set aside . 

* Heat oil in a wok , 1 inch in depth (  about 1 liter )  over medium heat . You'll know that the oil is hot if you dip a wooden chopstick into the oil and bubbles will appear around it .

* Drain any liquid from the marinated wings , discard any aromatics and pat dry with paper towel . Dip each wings into the batter , let excess batter drip off back into the bowl . Gently place each wings into the hot oil and fry in batches for 5 to 7 minutes in each sides  or until wings are golden brown . Transfer wings into the paper towel-lined plate , continue with the rest of the wings , heating the oil between batches . 

* Serve hot or at room temperature .

This post is linked to the Little Thumbs Up event , a baking and cooking blog organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Favourite DIY . This month host is Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabee and the theme is Chicken .


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Steamed sweet potato buns with chicken filling

I finally had the courage to make these buns after  making it 4 times last January lol The first time was laughable , the dough is so wet that I can't barely hold it , how should I know that I need to consider the water content of the pumpkin before adding in more liquid especially if you're kneading it by hand ?! I even asked Doreen re the amount of cake flour , maybe it just a typo ? lol I wised up the second time though for the life of me , I can't pleat the top properly ugh ! How come I can pleat the darn potstickers beautifully heh but had a hard time doing it in this kind of dumpling ? The third attempt , I mistakenly used self-rising flour , hey , I thought it was the cake flour *sigh* 

Unlike most steamed buns recipes , this one uses cake flour which has a low protein content . The dough is soft that I wasn't so stingy when it comes to adding some flour when rolling each portion .

This time instead of using pumpkin , I used sweet potato , though the water content is not as great compare to that of a pumpkin , you still need to consider it when adding more liquid in this recipe . It's better to add water gradually  if the dough is a bit stiff to knead than adding more flour to the already wet dough .

Now , who wants some fluffy and deliciously soft buns ?!

Guys , I'm on Yummly and if you want to save this recipe to your personal recipe box , do click in the YUM button at the upper left side of this post . 

Please check original recipe @ Doreen of My Favourite DIY

Makes 12 buns ( 3 x about 1 1/2-inch ) 

100-120 grams lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
280 grams cake flour 
60 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
20 grams lard 
160 grams steamed ( orange ) sweet potato , mashed 

* In a small bowl , whisk together water and yeast , let sit for 1 minute . 

* Place the flour , sugar , and baking powder in a large mixing bowl , whisk to combine . Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add in the yeast mixture , lard and mashed sweet potato . Use a wooden spoon or your hand to mix everything together until it forms a shaggy dough . Tip dough onto a clean work surface , knead until dough is smooth and elastic , 12 minutes , the dough is a bit sticky but manageable . Form dough into a ball  and transfer into a lightly-oiled bowl , refrigerate overnight . Or you can proof dough until doubled in size , for 1 hour or depending on the warmth of your place . 

* Divide dough into 12 pieces at 52 grams each , form each portions into a small ball , cover with tea towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes . 

* In a lightly-floured work surface , sprinkle some flour on top of a dough , flatten it with the heel of your hand and using a floured rolling pin , roll the dough to about 4-inch diameter . Place a tablespoonful of the chicken filling on top of the dough and pleat it , sealing the top firmly , transfer filled dough to the bamboo steamer , cover with tea towel and continue with the remaining dough . 

* Let filled dough rest for 30-40 minutes or depending on the warmth of your place , it'll expand but won't double in size . 

* Steam for 10 minutes over medium heat . Serve hot or at room temperature . 

For the chicken filling : 

300 grams boneless , skinless whole chicken legs , cut into small cubes 
6 pieces water chestnuts , peeled and cut into small dices , optional 
3/4 cup chopped finely onion 
2 teaspoon minced ginger 
1/2 teaspoon chicken powder
generous dash of ground white pepper

4 tablespoons chopped spring onion , green and light green part only 

Sauce : 

5 tablespoons water 
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil 

* Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside . 

* Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil into the heated pan , add in the chopped onion , cook over low heat for 10 minutes . Transfer to a plate , set aside .

* Turn heat to high, add oil if necessary , add in the ginger , stir-fry for 20 seconds then add in the chicken . Cook chicken for 2 minutes , stirring constantly , add in the chicken powder and white pepper , stir well to combine . Add in the cooked chopped onion and chopped water chestnuts , stir thoroughly . Pour in the sauce , stir well to combine , adjust taste , stir until sauce thickens , about 1 minute . Transfer immediately to the bowl and  let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes then put in the fridge to cool completely , stir in spring onion before using .  You can make the filling the day before . 

This post is linked to the Little Thumbs Up , a baking and cooking event organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Favourite DIY . This month's theme is CHICKEN and is hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe .

                                                          photo littlethumbups1-1.jpg

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nutella-chocolate cupcake with Nutella frosting

The weather here is getting warmer and it's time to cull out some of my winter stash of bread spreads . I bought this big jar of Nutella last year because it was on sale , yeah , I just can't resist a good bargain !

I tinkered with one of my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe , this is my to-go recipe whenever somebody here wants me to bake a cake . What I love about this fool-proof recipe from Cooks' Illustrated is how easy it is to make , no creaming and no heavy mixing and you only use a whisk to mix everything , so less things to wash afterwards . 

I need to use up some of the Nutella so instead of bittersweet chocolate in the original recipe , in goes the chocolate-hazelnut spread . Initially , I was planning to use the same amount of chocolate , which is 84 grams but I tasted the mixture before chilling it and it tastes well , really chocolaty . That is well and good but I want more Nutella taste so I whisk in some more . Of course , I crossed my fingers that my substitutions will work and I won't list the tweaked recipe as " another failed experiment " . Surprisingly , it turned out pretty well with wonderful moist texture and the beautiful dome top ! 

Taste wise it was sinfully chocolaty but with only subtle Nutella taste , which is a big letdown , I think the taste is muted by the strong coffee that I used . Or maybe it needs more Nutella , perhaps 250 grams will be much better ?! Oh well ! The frosting tastes delightful though and will definitely use it again next time ! I'll update this post the next time I have the urge to bake cupcakes ......  

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes via Pink Parsley , with some tweaks 

150 grams Nutella 
28 grams ( Valrhona ) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot coffee 
117 grams bread flour 
130 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons canola oil 
2 eggs , at room temperature
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

* Preheat oven to 350°F . Line 12 cup ( 2 3/4 x 1-inch ) standard muffin pan with liners , set aside .

* Place Nutella and cocoa powder in a bowl and pour hot coffee over the mixture , whisk until smooth . Refrigerate for 20 minutes . 

* Meanwhile , mix the flour , sugar , salt and baking soda , set aside . 

* Whisk oil , eggs , vinegar and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture . Add in the flour mixture and whisk until smooth , the batter will be thin/runny .

* Divide batter evenly between muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean . 

* Place pan on the wire rack and let cupcakes cool in the pan for 20 minutes . Transfer cupcakes into the wire rack and let them cool completely before frosting . 

For the frosting : Please check original recipe @ Sweetapolita 

80 grams salted butter
70 grams icing sugar 
95 grams Nutella 
45 grams bittersweet chocolate , melted and slightly cooled ( 15-20 minutes ) 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

* Place butter into the bowl and sift in the icing sugar . Beat together , starting on low speed first for few seconds then turn to medium speed until mixture is smooth , 2 minutes . Add in the Nutella , chocolate and vanilla , beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes . This frosting is enough for a dozen cupcake . Pipe or spread frosting onto the cooled cupcakes . 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bouchon Bakery's mini hot cross buns

To tell you the truth I haven't had hot cross buns before I baked these . I've seen this kind of bread sold in some bakeries here during Easter but I don't have the urge to try it as it looks like a raisin roll or the cranberry loaf that I usually buy well , except for the cross icing on top .

Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten during Good Friday in some parts of the world . It is a spiced sweet buns made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on top , which is made of icing .  

Unlike some hot cross buns recipes , this one doesn't have any spice in the dough only in the icing . I used blueberry-flavored cranberries ( yup , there is such a thing ! ) and some dried wild blueberries instead of currants and raisins . I only used cinnamon as I can't find ground cardamom . Nothing special about these buns except for the wonderful contrast between the buttery texture of the bun and the slight tanginess of dried fruits . The icing that I made was a bit runny that the cross looks more like an airplane lol

The procedure in making the dough below is by using a stand mixer but I made the brioche dough by hand . If you want to try making it manually , check this brioche post . It's not that hard to knead this brioche dough by hand , all you need is a room with an aircon and think that your arms seriously need a good workout , hey , it's almost summer here hee hee !

Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery , pages 313 and 193

Makes 12 buns or 24 ( 2-inch ) minis

For the brioche dough :

372 grams all-purpose flour
8 grams instant yeast
44 grams granulated sugar
9 grams fine sea salt
186 grams eggs
63 grams whole milk
167 grams unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch cubes , at room temperature

* Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and mix for few seconds to distribute the yeast evenly . Add all ingredients , except the butter , and mix on low speed for 4 minutes . Continue to mix on low speed for another 30 minutes , at this point there will be some dough sticking at the sides of the bowl . Add butter , few pieces at a time , incorporating each addition before adding the next . Stopping to scrape down the bowl and hook as needed . Continue to mix for 10 minutes .

For the buns :

122 grams / 3/4 cup dried currants
61 grams / 1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 grams 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
Brioche dough , recipe above

Egg wash : Beat 1 egg and strain through a fine-mesh strainer

Icing :

258 grams icing sugar
1 gram / 3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 gram / 3/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
40 grams whole milk

* Combine the dried fruits in a medium bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling water , let sit for 5 minutes to plump the fruits . Drain and pat dry with paper towels , transfer to a clean bowl and  toss with vanilla paste , set aside .

* Lightly-oil / butter a large mixing bowl , set aside .

* Tip in brioche dough into a lightly-floured work surface , gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape . Pour the dried fruits mixture on top of the dough and knead together to distribute it evenly . Pat dough into rectangle again .

* Stretch the left side of the dough out and fold it over two-thirds of the dough , then stretch and fold it from the right side to the opposite side , as if you're folding a letter . Repeat the process , this time from bottom and then from top . Turn dough over and use a plastic scraper to transfer the dough , seam side down into the prepared bowl , cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel . Let dough sit for 45 minutes at room temperature .

* Repeat the stretching and folding process above , then return the dough to the bowl , seam side down , cover , and let sit for another 45 minutes .

* Lightly butter a quarter-sheet pan ( 13 x 9 x 1-inch ) I used a standard 13 x 9 pan . Line the bottom with parchment paper then butter the paper .

* Tip in dough into a lightly floured work surface , cut the dough into 12 equal portions at 78 grams each . My final dough is 1012 grams and each mini weighs 42 grams each ( 4 pieces are 43 grams each ) . Roll each portions into a ball until it is smooth , set balls onto the prepared pan . Brush the tops with egg wash , cover the pan and let proof for 1 to 1 1/2 hours , or until doubled in size .

* Preheat over to  325°C ( convection ) or 350°C ( standard ) . Brush tops of the buns with egg wash again .

* Bake for 17-22 minutes ( convection ) and 25 to 30 minutes ( standard ) , until tops are rich golden brown . Transfer pan on a wire rack and let cool completely .

For the icing :

* Sift sugar and the spices into the bowl , mix on low speed to distribute the spices evenly . Slowly add the milk , scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl , and beat until mixture is smooth , about 1 minute .

* Transfer icing into a piping bag , snip the tip and pipe a continuous strip of icing to create a cross of frosting in each buns . Cut into individual buns and serve .