Monday, 30 August 2010

Simple Food

Even though I don't go to the office, I woke up this morning feeling the Monday blues.

On one side of the coin, every day is a weekend for me, and yet on the flipped side, it's a working day everyday! I am feeling the blues probably because I seldom cook on weekends. To me, cooking is a chore, it is a need not a want. I don't mind the actual cooking, but I dreaded the cleaning and washing before and after a meal. After staying away from the stove for 2 days, come Monday mornings, I usually find myself in a state of loss...totally clueless what to lay on our dining table for the day. Sometimes, I will brainstorm with my kids over breakfast. Occasionally, they do give brilliant ideas and suggestions, but there were also times when I turn down their requests, flatly, especially if they ask for dishes such as tofu burger(?), laksa or char kway teow. They are either unheard of, or way beyond whatever basic cooking skills I have.

By mid-morning, I finally settled on the menu for the day: Korean pancakes for lunch and meat sauce pasta for dinner. After a quick snoop around my pantry cupboard, I realised I ran out of pasta sauce. Pasta is out, and so what can I do with the ground beef? In the end, I went back to our common staple...fried rice! I can't think of a better meal which can be whipped up by throwing whatever ingredients I have into the wok.

Fried rice is something I do pretty well, I learned how to cook it since I was a teenager. Back then, it was the simplest form of food I had...a bowl of steaming hot white rice stir fried in a huge cast iron wok with just soya sauce and an egg. By comparison, what I had for dinner tonight is 'gourmet food'...a mixture of brown and white rice stir fried with ground beef, some cabbage and wolfberries, plus my must-have in all my fried rice egg.

I don't have the habit to use overnight or leftover rice. I use freshly cooked rice every time. Since just-cooked rice has got more moisture in it, it will be difficult to stir fry still every single grain is separated. The trick is to stir fry the rice over very high heat, the wok has to be very very hot before the rice is added. This way, every grain is cooked through and they will start to dance off the wok in no time. Alternatively, cook the rice an hour earlier so that it is cooled off and dried up a little, or cook the rice with slightly less water than usual.

My cooking skills are so basic that I always serve fried rice as a complete meal on its own. It is truly a blessing that my children never seem to get tired with a bowl of fried rice :)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

for the love of scones

Although it is something very simple to throw together a batch of scones, if you over look some details, you may end up with a tray of hard, flat, bread-like buns instead. That happened to me on my maiden attempt (^^")

I have made enough mistakes (at least 3 failed attempts) before my oven could churn out a decent batch of scones.

The main mistake I made was...kneading the dough for too long ('long' as in a couple of minutes). We are not making bread here, we do not need gluten to form, so, the less fiddling with the dough, the softer scones you are going to get.

Mistake number 2: using ingredients that were left to room temperature. To make soft, fluffy scones, you need COLD ingredients. Cold eggs, cold milk, cold butter and a cold, well chilled mixing bowl will also help in our hot and warm weather here. You would also need cold fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture. Since I don't have a pastry cutter or a food processor, I use a fork. The main aim is to prevent the butter from melting as you cut it into the dry ingredients. The dough has to be kept cold so that it will have little bits of dispersed butter in it. During baking, the heat will cause these tiny bits of butter to melt into the dough and leaves pockets and layers in the scones for them to rise nicely.

Besides the above two important keys to making soft tender scones, I had to pay attention to a few very minor details.

*In order for the scones to rise evenly, the pressure you applied while cutting out the scones actually matters. To avoid lopsided scones, press the cutter directly down and lift it straight up without twisting to release the dough.

* Arrange scones side by side on the baking tray, so that they are just touching each other. This will help keep the sides straight and even as the scones cook. They will also rise higher than scones that are baked spaced apart.

* Do not smooth out the edges/sides of a cut-out scone. Leave it alone. Otherwise it will be impossible to get those crackly 'smiles' on the sides.

* Use a sharp cutter. This is something I have yet to overcome. I am still using a drinking glass to cut out the dough (^^'). The problem with this improvised tool is, even though I rolled out the dough to an inch thick, after pressing the glass into the dough, because of the extra pressure required to cut through it, the cut out scones became much thinner :(

These wholemeal scones are a great breakfast treat. The crumbs are soft, although do not expect them to taste as light and fluffy as muffins. We prefer to eat them plain since they are already very delicious without any jam or butter :)

Wholemeal Breakfast Scones

Ingredients:(makes 7 ~ 8 scones)

150g cake flour
50g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
a pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 egg (about 50g without shell), cold, lightly beaten
80g plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour and baking powder. Mix in wholemeal flour, sugar and salt. With finger tips rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (It is important that the butter be cold so when it is cut into the flour mixture it becomes small, flour-coated crumbs. I use a fork to work the butter into the dry ingredients. If the butter starts to melt away during this process, stop and place the mixture in the freezer for 10-15 mins to prevent the butter from melting further. Continue the process when the mixture is well chilled.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add in egg and yoghurt and vanilla extract if using. Stir with a spatula until just combined. The mixture will be sticky, moist and lumpy. Gather up the mixture and place it on a lightly floured surface and give it a few light kneading (not more than 10 seconds) so that it comes together to form a dough. Do Not over work the dough. (Only mix the dough until it comes together. Too much kneading will cause gluten to develop, and the resulting scones will turn hard and chewy. Knead only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.)
  3. Pat the dough into a round disc, place in a plastic bag or cover with cling wrap and leave it to chill in the fridge for about 30mins. (The objective here is to let the dough rest and keep it cold to prevent the butter from melting so that there will be little bits of dispersed butter in the dough. During baking, the heat will cause these tiny bits of butter to melt into the dough and leaves pockets and layers in the scones for them to rise nicely. If the butter melts or softens before baking, the resulting scone will be hard and flat.)
  4. On a lightly floured surface, dust your hands and the dough with some flour and roll out into 1 inch thick (avoid using too much flour). Cut out the dough with a lightly floured 2.5-inch biscuit cutter. Press the cutter directly down and lift it straight up without twisting. Dip the cutter into some flour after each cut. Gather scraps together and repeat until all the dough is used. (For easy cleaning, I roll out the dough between two plastic sheets, and it is easier to lift up the scones after cutting.)
  5. Place scones on baking tray (lined with parchment paper). For soft-sided scones, arrange them close together on the baking sheet so that the sides are touching, this will also keep the sides straight and even as the scones cook. For crisp-sided ones, place them 1 inch apart, these will not rise as high as scones that are baked close together. Brush the tops with some milk.
  6. Bake at preheated oven at 200 degC for about 12~15 mins or until they are well risen and the tops are golden brown. Do not over bake. The texture of the interior should be light and soft. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm. (These scones are best served freshly baked, any leftovers can be kept in airtight container. Brush or spray some water over the scones and warm them in the oven before serving.)

Monday, 23 August 2010

Matcha Swirl Bread

The first thing I wanted to bake with my fresh tin of matcha, green tea powder, is none other than a loaf of bread. Having tried both tangzhong or water-roux (汤种法) and scalded-dough (烫种法) methods to make bread, this time I returned to my usual straight-dough method (直接法).

The straight dough method is as straight forward as it is. There is no preparation required one day before, great on days when you just feel like baking on impulse :)

This happens to be the busiest month for me. I have two kids who are sitting for their exams one after another. Even though I do feel anxious for them, I still leave them to revise their work on their own. I am pretty hands-off this time, not sure what's the reason, but I guess maybe I am so used to them having one exam after another, I am less uptight about it as compared to the previous years. I even go to the extent to delegate my 'job' to them...the two brothers will revise with each other. The younger fellow, who is more vocal and expressive, will help his brother practise for his oral exams; while the elder one will go through Maths and Science with his brother. It is a win-win situation, as both of them enjoyed each others company, way better than having me around to breath down their necks.

To make myself feel less guilty, I sat down with the little one to go through his studies after I left the dough to proof in the bread tin. I was so engrossed with the revision that I almost forgot about the dough. By then, the dough had already reached the rim of the pan and it expanded further upon baking. Since my oven was so small, I had to cover the top with foil to prevent it from getting burnt.

As a result of over-proofing (close to 2 hrs), the holes in the bread crumb appeared to be larger than usual.

I sliced the loaf only the next morning, just before breakfast. The crust was very thin and the bread is very soft and light. It tasted delicious even though I couldn't taste the matcha (^^')

I used a bread slicer which I have asked my DH to get it for me when he was in Tokyo. Finally, I am able to get nice even slices :)

I stored the bread in an air-tight container. After two nights, the bread felt a little dry (by touch)...just like the two end pieces you get from commercial store bought loaf bread. However, they still taste as soft and good and won't stick on to the roof of you mouth. I plan to make another loaf bread using the tangzhong method, just to make a comparison and to convince myself that bread made with tangzhong would indeed fare better.

Matcha Swirl Bread

(makes one 20x10x10cm loaf)

250g bread flour
25g caster sugar
3g (half teaspoon) salt
4g (1 teaspoon) Instant yeast
145g fresh milk (I used low-fat fresh milk)
35g egg
38g butter (unsalted), cut into cubes

5g matcha powder
2 teaspoons hot water

  1. Mix matcha powder with hot water to form paste, set aside.
  2. Stir bread flour, caster sugar, salt, and instant yeast in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, add in egg. Reserve about 30ml of milk and add the rest into the mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients with hand and slowly form into a rough dough. Add in a little of the reserved milk if the mixture is too dry.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough till smooth. Add in the reserved milk a little at a time, knead well after each addition. (This way, the dough will not be too wet and sticky). Use up all the reserved milk. The whole process should take about 10mins.
  4. When the dough is smooth, knead in the butter. Continue to knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your hand, becomes smooth and elastic. This should take about another 15 to 20 mins. Do the window pane test: pinch a piece of the dough, pull and stretch it. It should be elastic, and can be pulled away into a thin membrane without tearing/breaking apart easily.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Knead the matcha paste into one of the doughs. Knead till dough becomes smooth and the matcha paste is fully incorporates into the dough, takes about 5 mins.
  6. Place each dough (separately) in lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowls, cover with cling wrap and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about one hour, or until double in bulk.
  7. Remove the doughs from the bowls and give a few light kneading to press out the gas in each dough. Roll into rounds. Cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let the doughs rest for 15mins.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each dough and roll out into a rectangular shape, about 20cm x 40cm. Place the matcha dough over the plain dough. Starting from the shorter side, roll up the dough tightly, make as many rolls you can. The resulting roll/log should be around 20cm in length. Pinch and seal the seams.
  9. Place dough seam-side down in lightly greased bread tin/pan. Cover with cling wrap. Let the dough proof for the second time, until it fills up 80% of the tin/pan. Brush with egg wash.
  10. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 ~ 190 deg C for 30 to 35mins. Unmould the bread immediately when removed from the oven. Let cool completely before slicing. Once cooled, store immediately in air-tight container.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Breakfast Chiffon

For the past week, I have been reading up every night, on how to make chiffon cakes without using any leavening agent. In the past, all my chiffon cakes were made with either baking powder or self-raising flour. I have copied several recipes from this chiffon cookbook '戚风蛋糕秘法传授' which I borrowed from a close one some time back. The recipes from this book do not use any baking powder. I wonder how it is possible to create the volume as the ingredients are similar to most chiffon recipes. Even the number of egg whites used is not that many. Some recipes will call for 4 whites and 3 yolks even though baking powder is used. For a 17cm tube pan, the recipes from this book call for 110g whites (about 3 whites for eggs that weigh 65g with shells on) and 40g yolks (about 2 and a half yolks). For my usual chiffon recipes, I use 3 egg whites and 3 yolks, not much difference isn't it?

The only unique thing is, corn flour is added when beating the egg whites. I don't know the chemistry behind, but I guess corn flour helps to stabilise the egg whites so that upon folding with the yolk mixture, it won't deflate too much? and also probably helps the whites to stablise and expand during baking? Pardon the 'jargon' used here, unless you are familiar with making a chiffon cake, all these may sound alien to you ;)

Many Chinese bloggers (from Taiwan, China) have baked beautiful chiffon cakes without baking powder, reading their tips and step by step illustrations posted on their blogs gave me the very much need assurance that I shouldn't fare too badly. I went ahead to give it a go even though I have never been good at baking chiffon cakes (^^")

I picked up this chocolate and nut chiffon recipe as I find that it is quite unusual to bake a chiffon with toppings. Wouldn't the weight of the toppings prevent the cake from rising? Wouldn't the toppings sink into the batter during baking?

I didn't use the exact toppings since besides walnuts, I do not have apricots, cashew nuts or pistachios. So, I used my granola combo...walnuts, dried cranberries and rolled oats.

Reading up tips and do's and dont's is one thing, putting everything into practise is another. Alas, I didn't do a good job while folding the whites to the yolk batter :_(

I deflated most of the egg whites (which was whisked to a nice, glossy texture! yeah!!) while trying to break up the lumps of whites trapped in the batter, maybe the whites were too stiff?? The cake rose well above the rim half way into baking. But, it was a short-lived glory. The cake started shrinking even before the baking time was up. It only managed to hover around the rim of the pan, ***sigh***

The texture of the cake was pretty good though. The crumb was tender, moist and springy :):)

Despite the long baking time, the walnuts did not get burnt. In fact it was very nicely roasted.  This cake, which I shall name it as Granola Chiffon, is an excellent choice for breakfast. What better way to have some oats in your diet without forcing yourself to swallow a bowl of oat porridge? Besides the nutty toppings, chopped dark chocolates was added in the batter. It makes the cake taste even better!

One downside of making chiffon cakes with toppings is, upon inverting the pan to cool the cake, some toppings (those that did not come into direct contact with the batter) dropped all over the table. Anyway, it is a small matter, I picked up the pieces and put them in my mouth ;)

I will try another recipe, I hope I will get the folding right the next time. Wish me luck!

Granola Chiffon Cake

(for 17cm or 7" tube pan)
(measurements in brackets are for 20cm or 8" tube pan)

110g (180g)  egg whites* (cold from fridge)
55g    (90g)  caster sugar
5g     (10g)   corn flour

40g  (70g)    egg yolks*
36g  (60g)    water
36g  (60g)    vegetable oil
9g    (15g)    cocoa powder
42g  (70g)    cake flour
10g  (20g)    sugar

60g (100g)   dark chocolate**, chopped into cubes

15g  (25g)   walnuts, coarsely chopped
15g  (25g)   dried cranberries
15g  (25g)   rolled oats

(* use fresh eggs, and cold egg whites. Remove eggs from fridge and separate them just before using.
** cut the chocolates into small cubes, around 0.5~1 cm, so that they won't sink too much in the batter, and yet they shouldn't be too small till they melt away during baking.)

  1. Sieve cake flour, set aside. Sieve corn flour, set aside. 
  2. Place egg yolks, water, vegetable oil and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer (I used a manual hand whisk), whisk the mixture till well combined. Sieve over the cake flour and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated into the batter. Add in sugar, whisk to combine.
  3. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Turn to high speed and gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until soft peaks forms. Add in the corn flour together with the last tablespoon of sugar. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter. The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly.)
  4. With a spatula, gently fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture until just blended. Repeat with 1/2 of the remaining egg white. Finally, pour the resulting batter to the remaining egg white. Fold in to combine. Next, fold in the chopped chocolates.
  5. Pour batter into a 17cm tube pan (do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter. Sprinkle walnuts, dried cranberries and rolled oats over the surface.
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven at 160 degC for 35 mins, (for 20cm pan bake for 50 mins) or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (When lightly pressed the cake will spring back). Remove from the oven and drop the pan at a height of 20~30cm onto a table top. This action helps to keep the springy texture of the cake when it is left to cool.
  7. Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.
Recipe source: 戚风蛋糕秘法传授 by Noriko Ozawa

Sunday, 15 August 2010


I got down to made a batch of Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal cookies yesterday morning after I heard the evening before, that my DG will be able to meet up with my DH overseas today. These cookies were adapted from the chocolate oatmeal cookies in my previous post. Instead of chocolate chips, I replaced it with dried cranberries and omitted the chocolate called for in the original recipe.

With the walnuts, rolled oats and dried cranberries, the end product is just like breakfast granola in a cookie form :)

You may think that these healthy, wholesome ingredients would probably produce cookies that taste like bland muesli or have a texture similar to cardboards. On the contrary, these cookies taste fabulous! Nice, crunchy exterior and a slightly soft, chewy interior. The cookies smell awesome too, thanks to the vanilla extract (Nelson-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract) I used. The dried cranberries provide just the right sweetness, as the sugar used is probably just enough for creaming the butter. The walnuts give the added nutty texture while the rolled oats provided a delightful chew.

This recipe is a keeper. It is very versatile as you can always use raisins or dried blueberries in place of dried cranberries; or substitute walnuts with almonds since both have almost similar nutritious  values. This is one good way to introduce some oats in our diet...especially for DH who has got high LDL but low HDL cholesterol levels!  I hope these cookies were in good condition when he receives it. On the other hand, I guess he wouldn’t mind even if they shattered into million pieces ;)

Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

(makes about 25~28 cookies, slightly less than 2" each)

90g butter, softened at room temperature
25g caster sugar
25g brown sugar
1 egg (weights about 60g with shell), lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g cake flour (or plain flour)
100g rolled oats
50g walnuts, coarsely chopped
60g dried cranberries, cut into smaller chunks

  1. Preheat oven to 190degC. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. With manual whisk, cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until the mixture turns pale and fluffy (alternatively use an electric mixer if desired).
  3. Dribble in the egg gradually. Mix well after each addition. Add in salt and vanilla extract, mix to incorporate into the batter.
  4. Sift the flour over the batter, fold in with a spatula.
  5. Add rolled oats, walnuts and dried cranberries. Mix well with the spatula.
  6. Drop tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking tray. Leave some space between the cookies to allow for spreading (actually, they don't spread too much). Flatten each cookie dough slightly with the back of a fork, keeping the shape as even as possible.
  7. Bake for 8~10 mins or until golden (my oven took 12~15mins). If necessary, rotate the baking tray halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in air-tight containers.

    Recipe source: adapted from 好想为你亲手做出美味的甜点! 检见崎聡美

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Simple Food, Easy Recipe

Since I am a lousy cook, I have to constantly search for real simple recipes which I can follow.

I have not attended any cooking classes and I have no one to teach me even the basic skills of identifying the different types of vegetables, different cuts of meat and till now I am still very confused over the names and types of the fishes available at the market (^^') With the lack of skills, I could only manage very very very simple recipes. I have long given up on asian cookbooks because of the long ingredient lists and vague instructions. I prefer to follow cookbooks such as those under the Australian Women's Weekly series as they are simple enough for me and most importantly, majority of the recipes are one-dish meals :D

One classic example is this Chilli Prawn Linguine which I saw on the Australian Women's Weekly website a couple of weeks ago. I bookmarked the recipe right away and attempted to replicate this dish just last night. I didn't have the exact ingredients, eg flat leaf parsley and baby rocket leaves, so I replaced them with dried parsley flakes and some lettuce. I hope the taste would not be too far off from the original version.

It is indeed an easy recipe...our dinner was ready in 30mins! What a wonderful only need to put in minimum effort to achieve excellent results. The pasta tasted delicious despite the minimum ingredients used. From the photo, the surface of the pasta may appear plain and dry (I reduced the amount of oil used), but trust me, it is full of flavour and there was just enough sauce to coat the linguine. I was surprised that the garlic, chilli and fresh, juicy prawns could add so much flavour to a dish. I would prefer to use chilli padi instead of long chilli, if only my younger child has attained that level of spiciness.

It was a joy watching my kids slurping away, and best of all, cleaning up after the meal was a breeze :)

Chilli Prawn Linguine
recipe source

(serves 3)

500g uncooked medium to large sized prawns
250g linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh long red chillies, sliced thinly
some lettuce, coarsely chopped
some dried parsley flakes

  • Shell and devein prawns, leave the tails intact.
  • Cook linguine in large saucepan of salted boiling water (2 litres of water plus 2 teaspoons of salt),  until al dente or just tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat, cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant. Add in prawns and cook until just changed in colour. Drain pasta and reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  • Transfer pasta to frying pan with the reserved cooking liquid and lettuce; toss to combine. Sprinkle with dried parsley flakes and ground pepper if desired. Serve immediately.
(Note: this recipe serves as a rough guide only. Adjust the ingredient amounts according to individual preference.)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Rolls and Buns

I made these bread rolls based on the sweet bread recipe shared by Edith. Her blueberry and cheese bread buns look so soft and fluffy that I bookmarked the recipe right away.

I was planning to make some char siew buns, but decided against it since I still have a pack of ready-made red bean paste.

To make these buns, you need to plan a day ahead. The 烫种 or 'scalded-dough' has to be made and leave to chill for at least 12 hours in the fridge. The 烫种 is made by scalding flour with hot boiling water so as to increase the water-binding capacity of the dough. A dough with higher water-binding capacity will suffer less moisture loss during baking, and it will not dry out or age too quickly after baking.

As expected, this dough is less  wet and sticky than the one made using 汤种 or water roux method (see post on Cinnamon Rolls), since the water content is lesser. The dough is also much easier to work with, as it doesn't stick to the work surface at all. In fact the dough was very stiff before the butter was added. I was quite worried that I would end up with a tray of rock buns. It took me about 30mins to get to the window pane stage. Pardon the lousy image as I was trying to do the window pane test with one hand, and the other holding a camera! The dough is easily stretched to a thin membrane, and the holes come with smooth edges.

I made some into red bean rolls and some into buns.

The buns were indeed very soft and fluffy, freshly baked! The texture was comparable to those you get from bakery shops. Take a look at the image on the left, base on the exterior of the buns,  I am not sure whether you could tell how soft and tender they were?  The buns felt 'puffy' as the crust was very thin.

However, even though I stored them right away in an air-tight container, the buns were less soft the next morning :( In fact, they don't taste very different from those I made using the straight dough method. Personally, I think the 汤种 or water roux method is actually better as the buns remained as soft when left over night. But, if you do not have a standing mixer or a bread machine like me, this 烫种 or 'scalded-dough' method is easier on your arms if you were to knead by hand. I have bookmarked another 烫种 recipe, will give it a go and hope it will give a better easy to knead by hand and  yet will not age that fast.

Red Bean Rolls

(makes 8 rolls)

50g bread flour
35g boiling water

150g bread flour
50g plain flour
40g caster sugar
3g salt
10g milk powder
4g instant yeast

88g water
30g egg (about half an egg, reserve the leftover as egg wash)

30g butter (cut into cubes)

240g red bean paste, roll into 8 equal balls
some white sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Add the boiling water in (A) into the flour, stir and mix to form a rough dough. Cover dough and set aside to cool. Leave to chill in fridge for at least 12 hrs.
  2. Place ingredients in (B) in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Make a well in the centre, and add in ingredients in (C). Knead to form a rough dough. Knead in scalded-dough in Step 1.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough till smooth. This should take about 10mins. This dough is quite easy to knead as it does not stick to the surface.
  4. Knead in the butter in (D). Continue to knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your hand, becomes smooth and elastic. This should take about another  15~20 mins. Do the window pane test: pinch a piece of the dough, pull and stretch it. It should be elastic, and can be pulled away into a thin membrane without tearing/breaking apart easily.
  5. Place dough in a lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about one hour, or until double in bulk.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and give a few light kneading to press out the gas in the dough. Divide the dough into 8 portions (about 60g each). Roll each dough into smooth rounds, leave to rest for 10-15mins.
  7. Flatten dough into a round disc. Wrap each dough with one portion of the red bean paste in (E). Pinch and seal the seam tightly. Flatten the dough into a round disc and roll out into a longish oval shape (about 15cm in length). Use a knife or dough scraper to make a few slits(see photo below, do not cut through the edges). Roll up swiss-roll style, seal and pinch the edges.
  8. Place the rolls, seam side down on a greased (or lined with parchment paper) baking tray. Leave some space in between the rolls to allow them to expand. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap and leave doughs to proof for the second time for about 45mins, or until double in size.
  9. Brush top with egg wash (mix leftover egg with 1 tbs water) and sprinkle with some white sesame seeds. Bake in pre-heated oven at 190 deg C for 15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and once cool store immediately in an airtight container.
Recipe Source: adapted from Magic Bread by Alex Goh