Wednesday 21 October 2009

Thursday 15 October 2009

Breakfast Scones

I made scones for breakfast again...this time I didn't forget the baking powder ;)

I tweak the same basic scones recipe a little, and added in some bacon and rosemary to turn them into savoury scones. I took home some rosemary sprigs from the States last summer, and one of the sprigs has rooted and has since call this place home. Although I wouldn't say it is growing extremely well, I am just as pleased that I can have a constant supply of this fresh herb all year round :)

Instead of cutting the dough into rounds, this time I made them into wedges. Simply because, with my limited knowledge and for being a culinary idiot, I have long since developed this 'mental block'. I like to associate those rounded ones with biscuits...and I feel more comfortable to call them scones if they are shaped into triangular wedges.

The scones were really really good when eaten warm and fresh out of the oven...soft, fluffy and flaky. On the next day, I warm them in the oven before serving...the texture was a little dry. I don't remember having this problem the first time I made the basic scones. It was only while writing up this post, I learned that since scones contain little fat, they dry out pretty fast and are best eaten on the same day. Another finding...apparently triangle wedges will yield crunchy edges but tend to dry out more quickly then rounds.

So how can one have freshly baked scones in pajamas without sacrificing the extra hour of sleep just to get up to prepare them? Here's a useful tip I have learned, the dough can actually be made ahead, cut into rounds or triangles and refrigerate overnight, then bake them the next morning. The shaped doughs can even be freeze ahead.

What a great way to get your scones and your sleep ;)

The recipe I have posted here may look very long, complicated and even intimidating to some, but these scones are really not hard to make. I have had a couple of failed attempts trying to make biscuits/scones, so I added in as many tips as possible in this recipe so that anyone who are keen to give it a try will get it right the first time.

Happy home baking!

Rosemary and Bacon Scones

(makes 6)
250g cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
50g cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 egg plus enough fresh milk to make up 140ml
3 strips of bacon, chopped into small chunks
1 sprig fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
*egg wash (mix 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon fresh milk)

  1. Pan-fry bacon chunks over low heat, until brown and crisp. Drain off any excess oil and set aside to cool. Remove leaves from the rosemary sprig and roughly chop them.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and add enough fresh milk to make up 140ml of liquid. Leave to chill in fridge.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add in salt and sugar and whisk the dry ingredients together. 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. Due to our hot weather and my warm hands, I use a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. If the butter starts to melt away during this process, stop and place the mixing bowl (with the mixture) in the freezer for 10-15mins to prevent the butter from melting further. Continue the process when the mixture is well chilled.)
  4. On hot days, you may want to chill the mixing bowl (with the mixture) in the fridge for 30mins before you proceed to the next step. On cooler days, you may skip this step, if you are as impatient as I am.
  5. Mix in the bacon and rosemary. Add the egg & milk mixture all at once and stir with a fork 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. Mix only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.)
  6. Place dough in a plastic bag or cover it with cling wrap. Keep dough in fridge for about 30mins. (The objective here is to keep the dough 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 scones will be hard and flat.)
  7. Remove dough from fridge and set it in the centre of a baking tray (lined with parchment paper). Dust hands with some flour and pat out into a round disc about 1 inch thickness (avoid using too much flour or pat the dough too flat). Dip a dough scraper in flour and cut the dough into 6 wedge-shaped pieces, press down firmly without twisting or sawing. This will help to shear the dough cleanly allowing the scones to rise higher. Do not pat the cut edges of the scones, otherwise it will not rise nicely. Dip scraper in flour after each cut.
  8. For soft-sided scones, move the wedges slightly apart leaving just a small gap in between so that the sides are almost touching. For crisp-sided ones, place them 1 inch apart, these will not rise as high as those that are baked close together. Brush the tops with the egg wash.
  9. Bake at preheated oven at 200degC for about 13 - 15 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the scones comes out clean. The texture of the interior should be light and soft (Note: over baking will cause the scones to become dry). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Serve warm, with butter if you like.

    Recipe source:adapted from 爱上做面包, 德永久美子

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Wordless Wednesday: My Kitchen Mishap

Rosemary and Bacon Stones...I have meant to make Scones and they became rocks...I totally forgot about the baking powder!

Visit here for more Wordless Wednesday information and posts.

Saturday 3 October 2009

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

I have never thought that I would venture into making baked mooncakes. I chickened out after going through the ingredient list for making traditional baked mooncakes ^_^"

I was glad that I managed to get hold of this "Y3K cookbook, Mooncakes". Besides the snowskin mooncakes, I was happy to learn that I could actually try my hand at making mooncakes with flaky pastry! I nailed down this 'Apple Allure' flaky pastry mooncake recipe since I had all the ingredients on hand. Making the doughs was a breeze, but I had a hard time trying to figure out the correct way of wrapping/rolling the water dough with the coloured oil dough. Even though there are several photos to illustrate the steps, certain parts of the instructions is quite vague. In the end, I went about making it with my gut feel. I am not sure whether I did it right as the finished mooncakes appeared slightly different from those illustrated in the cookbook.

These tiny morsels are no bigger than 2", my tween is able to pop one into his mouth without getting choked. I used ready-made pandan lotus paste but I think it would taste better with yam paste. Since this is my maiden attempt, I am rather satisfied with the taste and texture. On the other hand, I think I could have done better. I probably didn't roll out the dough thin enough so the skin is not as flaky and definitely not comparable to those store-bought Teochew style mooncakes. Nevertheless, I felt a great sense of achievements when I left them to cool on the rack.



Flaky Pastry Mooncakes

Ingredients (makes 16 pieces)

400g pandan lotus paste
80g melon seeds

water dough:
70g plain flour
5g icing sugar
25g shortening
35ml water

oil dough:
75g plain flour
40g shortening

  1. Filling: Mix pandan lotus paste with melon seeds. Divide into 30g portions, shape into rounds and set aside.
  2. Water Dough: sieve together flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub in shortening with fingertips until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add in the water and mix to form a soft dough. Cover with cling wrap and set aside.
  3. Oil Dough: Sieve plain flour into a mixing bowl. Add shortening and mix with hand to form a soft dough.
  4. Divide oil dough into 3 portions. Add food colourings to each dough and knead to form pink, yellow and green doughs. Roll each dough into a square, about 5" by 5".
  5. Roll the water dough into a square about 10" by 10". Place the oil doughs in the centre of the water dough. Start with pink, then place yellow dough over the pink dough, overlapping end bit of pink dough. Place green dough over the yellow dough, overlapping end bit of yellow dough. Refer photo no. 1 below.
  6. Fold both sides of the water dough over the oil doughs. Cover and let rest for 20mins. Refer photo no. 2 and 3.
  7. Flatten all sides and roll out the dough. Turn over and roll flat. Starting with the pink side of the dough(refer photo no. 4 above), roll up Swiss roll style to form a cylindrical log. Cut off excess parts from both ends and keep aside. Cut the dough into 16 equal portions.
  8. For each portion, flatten to form a round disc. Roll to about 5cm in diameter.Wrap the filling with the dough, seal the seams and place it downwards on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  9. Add some green food colouring to the excess dough in step 7 and use it to make leaves. With the pointed end of a chopstick, press the top of the dough to create a slight dent that resembles the surface of an apple. Place the leaves over the dents. Bake at 180degC for 15-20 mins until baked through but not golden. As the finished mooncake will be very soft, let cool on the baking tray for about 5 ~ 10mins before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Recipe source: adapted from Y3K cookbook - Mooncake.

Friday 2 October 2009

Mid-Autumn Treats

It's the time of the year again to indulge in a tempting array of delicious mooncakes that are bursting to the brim with dense, cloyingly sweet fillings.

Weeks ago, my elder son kept asking me whether I would be making any mooncakes this year. With his constant nudging, I started gathering the necessary ingredients once I returned to my usual "baking -mode'.

This is the second year that I am making these 'ping peh' or snowskin mooncakes...made with cooked glutinous rice flour which does not require any baking. Having struggled with makeshift moulds last year, I made it a point to order a proper mooncake mould from Elyn. The mould is very easy to use and the mooncake doesn't really stick to it, I only had to dust it once before using or whenever I need to change the template. Most importantly, the mould is able to create very clear and deep imprints of the pretty designs of the templates.

From the experience last year, I managed to come up with my own snowskin dough recipe. I adjusted the amount of sugar to make it less sweet, and the proportion of liquid is just right as the dough is soft and yet not too wet or sticky. It is very easy to work with as I didn't have to dust it with any extra flour, it doesn't even stick to my wooden rolling pin.

I am getting better at wrapping the filling with the dough. Last year, I made the mistake of rolling out the dough too thin...since the amount of fillings is so huge compared to the dough, I thought I had to roll the dough big enough to cover the fillings. This year, I finally got the hang of the correct way of wrapping, a skill I learned through wrapping pineapple tarts ;) I am not able to describe the process in words, but I managed to find a relevant video clip here.

I made an assortments of mooncakes...strawberry, mango, pandan and matcha. I experimented again with strawberry flavoured milk and mango juices to make the snowskin. Sad to say, the flavours are not as prominent, so I had to rely on some artificial mango flavours to bring out the flavour. I filled the mooncakes with ready-made white lotus paste, pandan paste and red-bean ones. To give the fillings some texture, I added in some melon seeds. My kids love the mooncakes, especially my elder child, who could wolf down two at a go. I guess at their age, they can truly enjoy these sweet treats without having to worry about the calories.

Mini Snowskin Mooncakes

(makes 12 mini mooncakes)

75g cooked glutinous rice flour
50g icing sugar
25g shortening,
90ml cold water

300g white lotus paste
60g melon seeds

  1. Mix white lotus paste with melon seeds. Divide the paste into 30g portions and shape into balls. Set aside. (Note: I used a ratio of 40% dough to 60% filling)
  2. Sieve together cooked glutinous rice flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl.
  3. Rub the shortening into the flour mixture with fingertips until a crumbly mixture forms.
  4. Add cold water to the mixture and knead for a couple of minutes to form a soft dough. Do not over work the dough.
  5. Leave dough in the fridge for about 15 mins. (I skip this step and the dough works just as fine.)
  6. Divide dough into 20g pieces. Shape each dough into a ball. For each dough, flatten to form a small disc and roll it out into 3mm-thick circle or about 5cm in diameter.
  7. Wrap the dough skin around the filling and shape it into a ball. Seal the seams.
  8. Dust mooncake moulds (diameter 4cm, for 50g mooncake) with cooked glutinous rice flour. Place the wrapped dough into the mould and press the mooncake out. Make sure the surface of the dough in contact with the patterned-face of the mould is smooth.
  9. Store mooncakes in fridge.

    * Strawberry flavour - replace cold water with same amount of strawberry flavoured milk, add 1~2 drops of red food colouring (as desired).
    ** Mango flavour - replace cold water with same amount of mango juice, add 1 teaspoon of mango flavour (as desired).
    *** Matcha flavour - replace cold water with: mix 1 teaspoon of matcha powder with 90ml of hot water. Leave to cool and then chill in fridge for at least 30mins before using.
    ****Pandan flavour - add 1 teaspoon of pandan flavoured paste to the cold water.