Jun 30, 2008

Classic Brownie

I am still on the search for the perfect brownie. So far, I think there are three that I like.
  • Brownies from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies
  • Best ever Brownies from Baking with Julia
  • this one...Classic Brownie from Cook's illustrated

If I had to choose a favorite of the three, I think I will definitely choose Alice Medrich's brownies. But what I learned from the brownies from Cook's illustrated is that having the nuts on top instead of incorporating it in the batter makes the nuts taste much better. The nuts tend to get soggy when it's inside the batter. Having the nuts on top makes the brownies much better. What I will do next time is make the Alice Medrich's brownies with the nuts on top...we'll see how that works. Here's the recipe in the mean time:

Classic Brownie
from Cook's illustrated March and April 2004

1 cup (4oz) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium
1 1/4 cup (5oz) cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into six 1 inch piece
2 1/4 (15.75 oz) cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325°. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8 inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 x 9 inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edge. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick baking cooking spray.

2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk to combine flour, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Set aside.

4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn. When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using them) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes. Cool pan on wire rack at room temperature about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Jun 29, 2008

Danish Braid-Daring bakers

The hosts of this month's challenge are Kelly from Sass and Veracity and Ben from What's cooking. I just have to say thank you thank you thank you, Kelly and Ben for this wonderful challenge. I have always wanted to make some sort of laminated dough, but always too intimidated by it. A danish dough is great for a first timer, because it doesn't require nearly as many turns and folds as a puff pastry dough, but the result is still quite delicious.

I wanted to do a savory braid, but in keeping with the true spirit of daring bakers, I didn't want to change the dough recipe. So I decided to keep the orange zest, cardamom and orange juice in the dough, and made a sort of omelet as my filling. My filling included broccoli, onions, ham, and of course eggs.

The pastry was really delicious, I think it would have complemented a sweet filling much better, but was still very good with my omelet. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks to Kelly and Ben, I think I just might tackle puff pastry next. waaaah ha ha!! Here's the recipe, in half portions (as usual).

Danish Dough
from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup whole milk
1/6 cup sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange, finely grated
less than 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 large eggs, chilled
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/8 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.


1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for 1 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.

2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Jun 26, 2008

Coffee milk bun

I am currently obsessed with bread. I love baking bread, I love kneading bread, I love the smell of bread baking, and what I love most about bread is of course, eating it. I saw this post for coffee milk buns on Angie's My kitchen my laboratory, and I knew I had to try it.

The texture of these buns are really soft and the best part is they stayed soft for almost a week. The only complaint I have is the coffee flavor is not very strong. My testers knew they were flavored, but they couldn't tell what flavor it was. I think next time, I would leave the coffee out all together. Here's the recipe:

Coffee milk bun
from My kitchen my laboratory

240g bread flour
60g TopFlour/Cake flour
7g milk powder
60g sugar
3g salt
7g dry yeast – dissolve in 30g warm water
2 tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 10g water
80g cold milk
80g cold water
20g melted butter or canola oil
Extra melted butter for glazing

1. Dissolve yeast in 30g warm water and wait for 5 mins to become frothy. Stir well.

2. Mix the bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar and salt. Dissolve the coffee in 10g of water. Mix the coffee with the cold milk and the cold water. Mix the flour with the liquid to form a dough. Then add butter/oil and knead into a smooth and elastic dough.

3. Round the dough, cover and ferment until double in size, about 45 mins to 1 hour.

4. Punch down the dough to release some air. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Place the pieces in a greased 9" round pan.

5. Cover with greased plastic wrap and prove for another 45 mins to 1 hour.

6. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 mins or until cooked. Brush the top immediately with melted butter. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  • The original recipe calls for 5g of bread improver, I don't know what that is and I have not seen it anywhere in Hawaii.
  • The original recipe says that the dough should not be sticky. My dough was actually quite sticky. I added another 1/4 cup of flour to the dough.

Jun 16, 2008

Mango cake

YIPEE!! Mangoes are finally in season!! yipee!!! I love mangoes, last year wasn't a very good mango season in Hawaii, but this year, there are tons and tons of mangoes!! With the mangoes we bought, I made a special cake for my dad for father's day. I used the cake from the Lychee mousse cake, and filled it with whipped cream and mango filling. I also topped it off with more mangoes. I will definitely make this again, it's delicious and doesn't take too long to make! Here's the recipe:

Mango cake
cake adapted from Rabbit sims

For the chiffon cake:
sugar 10g
egg yolks 2
cakeflour 42g, sifted
oil 35g
milk 35g
sugar 30g
egg whites 2

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Using a hand whisk, beat 10 g of sugar and egg yolks together until it’s pale yellow and texture is light.
3. Add milk and oil into the egg yolk mixture until it's corporated. Gently fold in cake flour until all the flour is incorporated.
4. Beat egg whites and 30 g of sugar until stiff peak forms. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
6. Pour batter into a 7 inch cake tin and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Mango filling and frosting

1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 mangoes

1. Mix the cream, sugar and vanilla together. Whip the cream with a mixer until it reaches soft peak stage.
2. Cut one mango in small cubes for the filling. For the second mango, cut it anyway you like to decorate the top of the cake.

1. After the cake has cooled, cut the cake in half. Spread some of the cream on the cake. Put the small mango cubes on top of the cream. Spread some more cream on top of the mangoes. Lay the cake on top and frost the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream.

Jun 14, 2008

Spicy Chile fried edamame

In Hawaii, a lot of restaurants serve edamame as appetizers. Roy's restaurant serve a spicy version of edamame that I absolutely love!! I have always wanted to duplicate it, and was so happy when I came across this recipe in Cook's illustrated's Restaurant favorites at home. Unlike most of cook's illustrated's recipes, this is so easy to make and it's delicious!!! Healthy and delicious, what more could you want?!

Spicy chile fried edamame
from Restaurant favorites at home

1 lb frozen edamame
1 tbsp salt
4 tbsp peanut oil
2 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tbsp)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster flavored sauce
½ tsp toasted sesame oil

1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the edamame and salt, and return to a boil, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the beans inside the pods are tender. Drain and refresh with cold water to stop the cooking.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of peanut oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the edamame and cook, stirring constantly, until the beans are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Push the beans to one side of the pan. Add the remaining 2 tbsps of peanut oil and chiles and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporated, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Roasted tomato salsa

I bought these beautiful tomatoes from the farmers' market and wanted to make something special with them. I was in the mood for salsa, but didn't want to make my usual salsa. I came upon two recipes online that sparked my interest, one was from Heidi at 101 cookbook, and the other was from A veggie venture. Although the one from veggie venture looked amazing, it was going to take at least 10 hours to roast the tomatoes...I didn't want to wait that long. So I decided to make Heidi's recipe. I made some adjustments from her recipe to suit the ingredients I had on hand. The salsa came out really nice. It's very different from the plain salsa that I normally make. Plain salsa is more refreshing, this salsa has more depth. You can really taste the roasted tomatoes and the onions. I bet this would go nicely with grilled chicken as well. Here's the recipe:

Roasted tomato salsa
adapted from 101 cookbook

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 medium white onion, cut into six wedges
2 large garlic clove, halved
a couple pinches of finely ground sea salt
2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 jalepeno
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1. Heat oven to 400F degrees. Now gently tossed the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and salt with the olive oil in a large bowl. After they are nicely coated arrange in a single layer, tomatoes cut-side facing up, across a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes start to collapse and the onions begin to caramelize a bit. Remove from the oven.

2. Puree jalapeno with the roasted garlic and two roasted tomato halves. Chop the remaining tomatoes by hand (once they've cooled a bit). Chop and add the onions as well. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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