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Cheese Sugar Pai Pau 乳酪白糖排包

I haven’t made 排包 ‘pai pau’ (bread rows) for a very long time. I miss that buttery soft pai pau from Kee Wah Bakery… Hmm, with only two tiny slices of whole wheat bread left on the counter, it’s time to make some more bread!~ Pai pau it is! Little did I realize that my previous pai pau recipes require dough starter which I didn’t have extra time to make… So I used a couple recipes as guideline and create this pai pau recipe that doesn’t use dough starter. Oh, and I always love Parmesan/Asiago cheese and sugar topping, so why not use it here to clean up my leftover cheese.

The taste: Well, bread made with or without a dough starter does make a difference, at least with this pai pau. Since I didn’t use any dough starter this time, my pai pau was a little dry the second day (I didn’t try it fresh on the baking day). I warmed it up a bit in microwave then the bread was soft again, but when it cools it gets drier and a little more dense. Oh well… as long as I have the crusty sugar cheesy topping, it’s fine with me 😉

Cheese Sugar Pai Pau 乳酪白糖排包 Recipe (makes 10 rows)

Ingredients:
7/8 cup (210ml) milk– see note below
1 egg– beaten
3 1/3 cups bread flour– see note below
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
5 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp milk powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter– cut into pieces

1 beaten egg for egg wash

Topping:
grated fresh Parmesan cheese (about 1 tbsp for each bread row)
sugar (about 1/2 tbsp for each bread row)

Method (using Zojirushi bread maker):

  1. Add milk and beaten egg to the bottom of bread maker loaf pan, followed by bread flour, ensuring covering all the liquid. Make a indentation in the center and add dry yeast to the indentation. Place sugar, cheese, milk powder, salt and butter in different corners (salt and sugar at opposite side). Select “Dough” course and press “Start”. When the machine starts kneading, check on the dough by touching– if it looks a bit dry and crumbly, add 1 tbsp of milk. If it’s too wet add 1 tbsp bread flour.
  2. When the course finishes, remove dough from loaf pan and place in a large bowl, covered with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place until double in size.
  3. Punch out the air and kneed to a log shape. Cut into 10 pieces, roll each piece of dough into a oblong shape, sprinkle some sugar (optional) and roll up lengthwise likes jelly roll. Pinch to seal the end. Place bread dough in a greased deep dish rectangle baking pan, slight apart from each other. Cover with plastic wrap and rest until they are double in height.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Apply egg wash on top of the bread, then sprinkle some Parmesan cheese, followed by sugar (sugar helps preventing the cheese from getting burnt).
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove pai pau from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Milk: Weather and different batch of bread flour affect the amount of liquid used. When the machine starts kneading, check the dough by touching: if it’s a bit dry/dense/crumbly, add 1 more tbsp milk. It it’s too wet/sticky, add 1 more tbsp bread flour.
  • Measuring bread flour: the best and most accurate way is to measure by weight. If you measure by volume, be sure to scoop loosen flour into measurement cup (make a heap), then scrap off the extras with the back of a knife.
  • Cheese sugar topping: I baked 25 minutes but tips of pai pau are still pale so I baked for another 2 minutes, but the cheese sprinkles become too brown. So it’s better to stick with 25-26 minutes, or apply egg wash and the toppings half way through baking?…

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Challah Bread– 6-Strand Braids

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Challah Bread– 6-Strand Braids

Challah is a braided Jewish bread eaten on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. There are different braid patterns depending on number of strands used in braiding the bread. Because of Jewish dietary restriction, Challah is usually parve (containing neither dairy nor meat, important in the laws of Kashrut). Also, Challah for Jewish New Year is coiled instead of braided, sometimes referred as  ‘Turban Challah’.

How did my first challah turn out? The look was… weird, actually kinda ugly. I think I braided my challah too tight, didn’t giving each strand space to breath and expand to form the nice round curves. Also, the oven temperature was too high. I had to trim off the burnt bottom of the bread. The crumbs? It’s soft, but not as soft as I would like. Oh well, at least the family didn’t mind and finished the loaf. I sure had fun braiding the bread though.

Challah Bread (makes 1 large loaf)

Ingredients:

for the sponge:
7/8 cup water
2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast

for the dough:
all of the sponge
2 eggs– beaten
2 cups unbleached bread flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp vegetable oil

Egg wash (mix well):
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

Method (kneaded by Zojirushi bread maker):

To make the sponge:

  1. Add water to the bottom of bread maker loaf pan. Then sprinkle in flour ensuring covering all the liquid. Make an indent in the middle and add in yeast. Add sugar and salt in separate corners.
  2. Select “Dough” course and press “Start”. Check the dough when it is kneading: scrap down any dry flour, add 1 tbsp water if it’s too dry. When the dough course completes, unplug the cord and let it sit inside the loaf pan for 8-10 hours. Do not open the lid. The sponge will eventually collapse and look bubbly and sticky after 8-10 hours.

To make the dough:

  1. Add all other dough ingredients to the sponge in the loaf pan. Select “Dough” course and press “Start”. When the course completes, remove dough from loaf pan and place in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and rest in a warm place until the dough is almost double in size.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead gently to push out the air, then divide into 6 portions. Roll each portion to a 16-inch thin log and start braiding. Please check out this wonderful 3-4-5-6-7-8-9 strand braiding video from The Bread Kitchen.
  3. Place braided challah on a baking pan lined with parchment. Loosely cover the bread and place in a warm place until it almost double in size. Apply egg wash and bake in preheated 375°F oven for 40 minutes (if the top browns too quickly, tent the top with a piece of aluminum foil after 30 minutes). Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Braiding the bread: I  braided my challah too tight, so the pattern was not as obvious and kinda ugly. Next time I will braid a little loose so the curves will pop up after baking.
  • Oven temperature: I find 40 minutes/375°F is too high and too long for my challah. the top is very brown and the bottom is burnt ( I had to slice off the burnt bottom). So maybe 40 minutes/350°F on next trial will work out better?

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Pullman Loaf

I have always wanted to make a pullman loaf and finally I did it! This recipe is actually from my Zojirushi Sweet Bread recipe that comes with the bread machine; I just make a little changes. I found the texture of the bread a bit dense around the edge, but the enter is soft. Maybe I have too much dough for the loaf pan?… Hmm, next time I will cut down dough amount and we’ll see what happens…

Pullman Loaf 方形麵包 Recipe (makes 1 large 13″ x 4″ loaf)

Ingredients:
1 1/8 cup milk
1 large egg– beaten
4 cup bread flour
4 tbsp dry milk powder
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Method (use Zojirushi bread maker for dough kneading):

  1. Add milk and beaten egg to the bottom of bread machine loaf pan. Then add in flour, ensuring covering the liquid. Make a indentation in the middle and add in yeast to the indentation. Then add in milk powder, sugar, salt and butter around on the top (be sure salt and sugar are at opposite side). Select “Dough” course and press “Start”.
  2. When the course finishes, take the dough out of bread machine and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest the dough in a warm place until double in size ( I sit the bowl on top of a pot filled with 2 inches warm water).
  3. Remove dough from bowl, punch down slightly, then roll out to a rectangle shape, to the length of Pullman loaf pan. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll. Place bread dough inside a greased Pullman loaf, cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest until it’s 1/2 inch to the rim. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Carefully place the cover on the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, positioned in the middle of the oven. Carefully remove the loaf pan cover, and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on the rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • The bread looks great, but some parts of the crumb is denser than others. My theory is that maybe the bread has no where to expand during baking because the lid was on the pan. Maybe cutting down bread flour by 1/2 cup next trial so hopefully the bread will have more room to expand during baking and yields a fluffier crumb.
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Pullman Loaf 方形麵包

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Italian Herb Focaccia

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Italian Herb Focaccia

I haven’t made focaccia for a very long time. This delicious flat bread can be baked in a shallow pan, which will yield a little more height, more interior crumb for dipping in EVOO. It can also be baked free form, directly on baking stone– it may not be as tall as ones baked in a pan, but more crusty for sure. Well, how to have the best of both worlds?

The magic is baking in a pan, AND in a high temperature oven (425°F–450°F, preheated at least 20 minutes), use baking stone (for even heat distributing) and water sprays (to create a baking environment similar to brick oven, producing crunchy crust). My focaccia this time turned out awesome. I think it was the best focaccia I’ve ever had (including store bought and restaurants)~ crusty with every bite, yet the interior crumb is very soft and fluffy for dipping in extra virgin olive oil, not to mention the wonderful aroma from the herbs.

I used Zojirushi bread maker to knead the dough as my KitchenAid stand mixer was dying on me. This is a relatively easy recipe because the ingredients are simple and the machine does all the hard work. It’s so easy that I think I will have my kids made the bread next time.

Italian Herb Focaccia Recipe (makes 1 large 9″ x 13″ loaf)

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tsp dried Italian seasoning mix

Method (using Zojirushi bread maker for dough kneading):

  1. Add water and olive oil at the bottom of breadmaker loaf pan. Then add bread flour, covering the liquid. Make a indentation in the center and add yeast to the ndentation. Put salt and Italian seasoning mix at different corner. Select “DOUGH” course and press “START”.
  2. When the course finishes all cycles, remove dough to a greased large bowl. Cover bowl and rest in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Meanwhile grease a 9″x13″ shallow pan with 1 tbsp olive oil.
  3. Remove dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface. Punch down the dough and stretch out slightly. Transfer to greased baking pan, stretch out the dough with fingers to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap, rest in a warm place until the dough doubles the height.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F (at least 20 minutes) with baking stone positioned on upper 1/3 rack. Fill a spray bottle with some water.
  5. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil on top of the bread, then make dimples, 2 inches apart, with your finger. Sprinkle some ground black pepper and kosher salt on top.
  6. Quickly spray water to oven walls, about 2-3 spray per side. Do it quick before the oven loses its heat. Place baking pan and dough on baking stone. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the top is golden and crusty. Remove focaccia from the pan and cool on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Dough rise: after Zojirushi finishes its dough course (including rise cycles), I took the dough out and rest dough in a bowl until it doubles in size. 2nd rest in greased baking pan is double in height– it takes a longer time but I think it makes very soft fluffy interior crumb.
  • Leftover focaccia can be frozen. Just wrap up tightly and placed inside an air-tight ziplock bag. When ready to serve, thaw in fridge slowly then fresh it up in the oven.

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Zojirushi BM: Hot Dog Buns

As my KitchenAid stand mixer recently dying on me on bread dough kneading, my hubby got me this bread machine for me this past Christmas. Oh how very sweet of him!!

Back then when I decided to buy a stand mixer instead of a bread machine because I thought stand mixer is more versatile– it can handle mixing, whipping and dough kneading. Bread machine is only for making bread (not to mention its big bulky size)… well, now I change my thinking– bread machine is called “bread machine” for a reason~ I have tried bread from a bread machine vs. stand mixer. And let me tell you that bread from bread machine has a softer texture. The other thing is, at least I don’t have to worry about the weird sound coming from the stand mixer while kneading the dough, nor do I have to worry the burning smell (and little smoke coming out of the accessory attachment hole!) from the overheated motor. Yes, it’s bulky, but it’s much much lighter my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and much much quieter! I am now worry free when I make breads~ I can do other chores without checking on it every now and then, take long showers, go shopping… okay, enough talking here. Time to get to work!

Zojirushi Bread Machine: Hot Dog Buns Recipe (makes 16 buns)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup luke warm water
1 egg– beaten
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tbsp dry milk powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry yeast
3 tbsp unsalted butter– cut into pieces

8 bun-length hot dogs

egg wash

Method (using Zojirushi bread maker for kneading):

  1. Combine bread flour, milk powder, sugar and salt. Add water and beaten egg to the bottom of bread machine loaf pan. Carefully add in flour mixture (to cover the liquid in the loaf pan).
  2. Make a small well/ indentation on top of flour mixture, add dry yeast to the indentation. Scatter butter pieces around the yeast. Select course to “REGULAR/DOUGH” and press “START”.
  3. Meanwhile, blanch hot dogs in boiling water for a few minutes to wash down the salt. Drain and pat dry. Cut hot dogs in half across the length to make 16 pieces. Cool completely.
  4. When machine finishes kneading the dough, remove dough from machine loaf pan and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest on a warm surface (I used double-boiler method– place bowl on top of a slightly small pot filled with hot water at the bottom, rest the pot on a kitchen towel on the table) for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Divide dough into 16 portions, pull each portion to 12 inches long sticks (like making bread sticks). Wrap the dough around 1 hot dog pieces, pinching both ends to seal tightly. Place on baking pan with sealed side facing down. Repeat with remaining dough and hot dogs.
  6. Cover the hot dog buns with plastic wrap. Let hot dog buns rest in a warm place until it doubles in size. Alternatively, you can also let the buns rise slowly in the fridge overnight, bring to room temperature the next day before baking. Apply egg wash and bake at preheated 350°F oven for 15-18 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

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Never have I had a chocolate babka before until one of the parents in MERC Chinese School gave me one to try– and man, that was GOOD! I searched online about this bread, and found out it is a Jewish Easter bread filled mostly with bittersweet chocolate. Well, I am not a Jewish, but I made this bread for Easter Sunday’s breakfast. A lot of butter was used making babka, to a point that when I remove the bread from loaf pan/muffin pans I see there’s lots oil at the bottom of the pans (I used non-stick pans and I didn’t spray!) Luckily we don’t eat babka on a regular basis. Despite that, the bread is very rich and chocolatey. Chocolate babka is best when enjoyed fresh hot from the oven– as the streusel topping is crunchy while the bread is buttery soft, moist and chocolatey. Since only bittersweet chocolate is used, the babka doesn’t taste awfully sweet at all, just the way I like it. It’s not that difficult to make. Try it, my friend; your Easter baking will never be the same… 🙂

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka Recipe (makes 1 loaf and 12 muffin size pieces– adapted from Epicurious.com)

Ingredients:
For dough:
3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tsp yeast
3 1/4 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

For egg wash (mix well):
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp heavy cream or whole milk

For chocolate filling (mix together):
5 tbsp unsalted butter, very well softened
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped– see note below
4 tbsp almond meals– toast in dry frying pan on low heat until pale golden, cool
1 tbsp candied orange peel– finely chopped

unsweetened cocoa powder

For streusel topping (combine flour and sugar, then cut in butter using a fork or butter knife until it resembles crumbs):
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (4oz, 1 stick) unsealed butter (room temperature)– cut into small pieces

Method:

  1. To make dough: Stir together warm milk and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of mixer. Stir in yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5-8 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
  2. Add 1/2 cup flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl (the dough will be very soft and sticky).
  3. Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (I sit my bowl on top of a big pot filled with hot tap water at the bottom of the pot– just be sure the water doesn’t touch the dough bowl).
  4. Line loaf pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper (1 lengthwise and 1 crosswise), and liner for muffin pans.
  5. Punch down dough with a lightly oiled rubber spatula, then divide the dough into 1/3 (for loaf pan) and 2/3 (for 12 muffin molds) portion.
  6. For loaf pan: Roll out 1/3 of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13×10 inch rectangle, with the long side in front of you. Brush egg wash on the long side farthest from you.
  7. Dust cocoa powder evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch space all around. Spread remaining 1/3 of the chocolate filling evenly on top of cocoa powder. Starting from the long side nearest to you, roll up the dough tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch firmly along egg-wash side to seal.
  8. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure 8 and fit into lined loaf pan.
  9. For muffin pans: Roll remaining 2/3 of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 15×10 inch rectangle, with the long side in front of you. Brush egg wash on the long side farthest from you.
  10. Dust cocoa powder evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch space all around. Spread remaining 2/3 of the chocolate filling evenly on top of cocoa powder. Starting from the long side nearest to you, roll up the dough tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch firmly along egg-wash side to seal. Divide dough log into 12 even pieces.
  11. Take a piece of dough, hold it with one hand and twist the dough with the other hand (so it looks like a cinnamon twist). Carefully place the dough into lined muffin mold. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  12. Loosely cover pans with greased plastic wrap (buttered side down) and let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in pans in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours; bring to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours, before baking.)
  13. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, prepare streusel.
  14. Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Scoop some streusel topping on the top. Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped (when loaves are removed from pans), about 35-40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature (please note muffin pans take a little less time to bake).

Regina’s Note:

  • Bittersweet chocolate: it’s better to use good quality chocolate for this recipe. Also, use a food processor for the chopping– just be sure to freeze the chocolate and blade before chopping.
  • Babka tastes best when warm, reheat in toaster or toaster oven when it is cold.
  • According to Martha Stewart, unbaked babka can be frozen for up to 1 month. After 2nd rise in the pan, wrap the pan with plastic wrap, followed by foil. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.
  • Alternatively, this recipe yields 2 loaf pans– I don’t have second loaf pan so I used muffin pans.
Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

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This is one of my favorite baked buns in Malaysia. Otak-otak is a steamed spicy fish paste and is a very popular food in Malaysia. In my hometown Muar, Malaysia, there’s is a bakery that sells very good otak-otak buns. You have to be there early to buy these delicious buns as they sold out fast. I am glad that I finally know how to make otak-otak, so I can have these spicy buns fresh out from my oven any time. 🙂

Otak-Otak Buns 乌打面包

Otak-Otak Buns 乌打面包

Otak-Otak Buns 乌打面包

Otak-Otak Buns 乌打面包

Otak-Otak Buns Recipe 乌达面包 (makes 18 small buns)

Ingredients:
Dough:
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tbsp dry whole milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
125 ml water
1 egg
2 1/2 tbsp butter

Filling:
18 pieces of otak-otak (2 inch x 1 inch each piece, 1/4 inch thickness)– see picture below

1 beaten egg for egg wash

Method:

  1. In the mixing bowl mix well the first 5 ingredients then add in egg. With dough hook attached and starts kneading, slowing add water to form a dough. Add a little more water if necessary. Drop in butter and continue to knead the dough until it doesn’t stick to the bowl and pass the “membrane” test. (pull a small piece of the dough, use two hand to stretch the dough to a very thin layer– if the layer doesn’t tear then the dough is ready to proof. Otherwise, continue kneading until it passes the test).
  2. Transfer the dough to a big bowl. Wrap the bowl and leave it on a warm spot to rest/proof until double in size.  (To speed up the resting time a little you can sit the bowl on a moist hot towel, or sit the bowl on top of a pot of hot water).
  3. Lightly knead the dough a few times to punch out big air pockets trapped inside. Divide into 18 portions. Roll out each dough and put a piece of otak-otak in the middle. Bring the dough on two opposite ends towards the center, pinch to seal.Place the buns, sealed side down, on greased/nonstick baking sheet, cover and rest for 45 minutes — 1 hour.
  4. Apply egg wash on top of the buns, bake at preheated 350°F oven for 15-17 minutes. Cool on the rack.
Home made otak-otak

Home made otak-otak

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