20 Apr 2014

carrefour potato buns

I came across this old blog post by Jane the other night and I remember how popular these potato buns were in Malaysia. When they were in the oven, a distinctive aroma filled the store and once they were out, people started to huddle around the bakery with their supermarket trolleys. Steamed filled the bags whilst the staff packed and handed them out. It was tempting not to eat them then and there. 

Back then, my grandma was a big fan of these fluffy, soft textured buns and we were tasked with buying a dozen pack if we went down to the supermarket. We didn't even buy them when we went back last year, but I felt like making some since the cross on top makes them look like hot cross buns. But, I didn't quite like how the cross came out so I will just make and pipe some real custard on next time.

I read how adding mashed potato in bread dough can make it too moist, so I changed the method a little. Instead of boiling/steaming the potato, I nuked it resulting in a drier texture. Perhaps adding 10g of custard powder into the bread dough also helped absorb some liquid? To nuke potatoes, use a fork and poke multiple holes on both sides. Nuke on both sides for 1 minute (1000W) and 30 seconds more thereafter until it is soft enough to cut through with a fork. Allow to cool before peeling and leave the potatoes in small chunks as it will be fully incorporated when it is kneaded in. Whilst nuking, the potato will make funny sounds, but don't worry (too much) about it exploding.

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potato buns     approx. 1.2kg dough; makes 30 small buns
adapted from Vivian Pang's Kitchen 

I don't know why they are called 'potato buns' when potato doesn't even make up the majority of the ingredients. Maybe it is because when they are shaped, they resemble little washed baby potatoes?

600g bread flour
70g caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
4 tsp dry yeast
1 large egg + enough milk to make up 300ml
10g custard powder (optional - if adding dissolve in some milk first)
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
80g cooked potato (see above for instructions)
60g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

custard cross
50g custard powder
15g bread flour
10g milk powder

Place above ingredients into the bread machine bowl according to manufacturer instructions. Set to 'dough function'.

When dough is ready, lightly dust the bench with bread flour and divide dough into 3 equal strands. Gently stretch them out and further divide into 30 x 40g dough pieces. Shape them into small balls and transfer to a lined baking tray. Cover and leave to prove until dough doubles in size*. 

Meanwhile make the custard mixture for the cross. Mix custard powder, bread flour and milk powder with enough water to form a pipe-able paste that is not too runny. If you accidentally added too much water, add in some bread flour. Transfer to a piping bag with a small tip.

When dough is ready, brush tops with beaten egg and pipe the cross pattern on top. Bake at 175 degrees for 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

*It was quite chilly when I made them so I proved them in an oven heated at around 30 degrees for 1 hour. Every 20 minutes I brush the tops of the dough with beaten egg.

23 Mar 2014

eating clouds

When I went back to Malaysia last winter, my grandma taught me how to bake a chiffon cake and we ended up making at least three consecutively. With a gleam in her eyes, she told me baking chiffon cakes makes her very happy because they smell great and they used to rise to the top of the oven! At one point in her life, she baked more than a dozen everyday for my uncle's kopitiam or simply to give away to her friends and family. When I asked for the recipe, she could tell me from the top of her head!

Returning to Melbourne, I have used her original recipe a handful of times and they have all come out light and fluffy. This time I decided to tweak it slightly and the texture still comes out cloud like - this is what makes me happy. 

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banana chiffon cake     makes 1 x 22(d) x 11(h)cm chiffon cake
adapted from my grandma's recipe

On a quick note, I have noticed that my grandma's chiffon cake recipe contains more sugar compared to others, but we find the sweetness just right for our liking.  

5 large egg whites
90g caster sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar, sifted
pinch of sea salt

5 large egg yolks
90g caster sugar
25ml rum
70g cooking oil
100ml coconut milk or milk
180g rice flour or plain flour, sifted
1 tsp (double action) baking powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
2 bananas (approx. 170g), finely mashed

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.

Whisk egg whites with one portion of sugar, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until very stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Whisk egg yolks and the remaining sugar to combine. Add rum, cooking oil and (coconut) milk. Stir to combine. Fold in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and stir to combine. Fold in mashed bananas.

Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to loosen up the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour batter into a chiffon cake tin.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes and check cake with a skewer before taking it out. Cool upside down for about 10-15 minutes before unmoulding it from the tin to cool further. 

5 Feb 2014

a good sandwich

School season is upon us and I'm starting to think the good ol' chicken and cheese sandwich needs a little upgrade. 

Armed with a freshly baked loaf of italian herb and garlic focaccia, I proceeded to slather it with unsalted butter and whole grain mustard and filled it with some iceberg lettuce, cheese and deli roast chicken slices. Like many other savoury sandwiches I make, a crack of freshly ground black pepper is a must.

Today there was a new last minute addition to the sandwich; a chunky cranberry and orange sauce. Something sweet to offset the salinity of the processed chicken, which I think will go well with sliced turkey or shredded roast chicken. The flavour combination is comparable to IKEA meatballs served with lingonberry sauce.

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chunky cranberry and orange sauce     makes enough for 1-2 sandwiches

a small handful of dried cranberries
hot water, as required
rind/zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 an orange

Put the cranberries in a small bowl and pour in enough hot water to just cover it. Leave for 5 minutes (alternatively nuke it for 30 seconds in a microwave). Transfer to small saucepan and add in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer until mixture has thickened. Allow to cool slightly before adding it into your sandwich!