April 2008


A new developing trend in my life is to bake some kind of bread every week. I have the ingredients, an oven, and an over-sized bowl… so why not? After opera on Friday night I began the no-knead bread process but made the fatal error of letting the 12-18 hour rising period take place in my oven. Before you say anything, no, I didn’t turn and leave my oven on overnight. But when its door is closed, the oven is always at at least 80 or 90 degrees–maybe more? So the dough just became a sloppy mess the next day.

To meet my quota I set out to make another challah: this time, the apple honey challah from Baking and Books.

apple honey challah

Two words: SO GOOD. I halved the recipe because I didn’t have enough milk and grated up some nearly overripe apples (and squeezed out the juice for later consumption) instead of using dried ones. The extra moisture led to needing more flour; I probably ended up using maybe a half cup to a cup more (?) than what the recipe called for.

Extra note: The tutorial for weaving a round challah linked in the recipe is a really good one, especially for those of us who have trouble dividing things into thirds.

Oh, and here’s what the inside looks like:

apple honey challah detail

The crumb is fairly dense but very, very soft. This thing smelled absolutely delicious all night and still has a good cinnamon aroma to it the next morning. The “grain” (is this the right word?) follows the contours of the braiding more so than my other (somewhat bloated) challah; not sure of this is because of density differences or because I only let this one rise 20 minutes (second rising; first was still two hours) before throwing it in the oven. I think I also prefer the egg + olive oil glaze over a plain egg one… crackly is good, in my book.

Basically, I am very much in love with this loaf of bread right now. And it’s already half gone :D

Next up in the bread queue, in no particular order: this focaccia, something with some combination of herbs, meat, and cheese in it, no-knead bread (I MUST get this right), bagels, beer bread (to practice for the summer! I have one bottle of Asahi. Any recipe recommendations?), sourdough (this seems difficult), and maybe some biscuits and scones.

Ahh, the sound of a flan falling to its messy demise on a dinner plate:

the failed flan that tasted like success

This uses the same recipe as the last flan I made, only this time we added some lemon zest and cinnamon into the egg mixture. Also, David managed to cook the caramel perfectly and have a good spread, only I was an idiot and used springform pans for both the flan and the bain-marie. (Hardened caramel SHOULD make the pan leak-proof, right? Right?) So there was some drippage going on. Plus the flan took over an hour to cook. Still, the aroma was promising so we let the flan cool and proceeded to flip… everything came apart. Maybe water seeped into the flan? Maybe we didn’t let the flan cool sufficiently? (I am impatient about these kinds of things.)

Still, the lemon zest and cinnamon? Excellent additions.

chocolate cake with abricotage

I have so much love for and faith in the Chocolate and Zucchini blog that when Alice requested “something with chocolate” I immediately found what I was looking for in C&Z: this recipe for a chocolate cake (baked in a bain marie!) with an extra bit of deliciousness at the top.

I have not officially tasted this cake, but I did sneak a chunk of chocolaty goodness when I prematurely transferred the cake onto a plate and large bits stuck to the pan. Results? Soft, really moist, and so good.

Had to fudge a few minor details: ran out of granulated sugar so used some brown; ran out of dark chocolate so threw about 2 oz of white in there, and my baking time was something like 45 minutes to an hour (this seems to happen when I use bain maries; the flan I made before also took forever, though that was in a different oven.) Also threw in some instant espresso powder for good luck and possibly general flavor enhancement (?).

So since this cake was made at Alice’s request I’ll wait a little longer before tasting; stay tuned for a report!

PS. What is the best way to transport and small and fairly fragile cake?

strawberry quick bread

A quick and non-committal bake for a Monday evening; or, how I put off analyzing Webern until the last minute. Recipe from Baking and Books. If I had planned well I would have thawed the strawberries and also used more, but other than a slight imbalance between almond and strawberry flavors my needs are satisfied.

a flat loaf

bread detail

Recipe from I have to say….

Note for future reference: as David suggested this would be good with soup. Are you thinking bread bowl? I am.

Three of the most gloriously delicious foods I remember from Taiwan are 油條, 小籠包, and 饅頭. The first isn’t even really worth eating unless you can find a good breakfast vendor. The second–plenty of decent frozen steamed meat buns can be found in Asian grocery stores, but this specific type (with meat AND soup inside) might be trickier to find. 饅頭 might seem like a very basic food (a dinner roll equivalent?) but my love for plain and simple foods plus nostalgia brings me to try to make and steam some myself.

I tried this recipe for a start. It’s really just bread but steamed instead of baked (and I guess kneaded once more?) but the results weren’t bad.

mantou

Kind of rough-looking, but the feel isn’t too far off.

mantou detail

There is, however, something missing from the flavor. I’ll have to get my hands on some store-bought ones to compare. Until then, however…

mantou filled

… just add some 肉鬆 and all is well with the world.

chocobos

A pair of good-luck (and/or early birthday) chocobos for Emily! Yarn is KP shine sport. Modified from the Mauritius Dodo pattern on Crochet Me and inspired by kinoko’s chocobo, seen here.

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