Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Addicted To Kneading

For the longest time I remember I had a breadmaker in my wishlist. Then I got kneading. And kneading more. And I got stuck. For a while the mojo got lost somewhere. And then again I reignited the fire, and started wanting breadmaker again. And kneading just got me busy, yet again.

Some time last week I spoke to a very old friend who told me she preferred to knead instead of her breadmaker, and that got me thinking. All the while, I too got distracted and busy that I forgot that I wanted one. Maybe I could live without one after all. Maybe it was so therapeutic that it helped me to take me somewhere far far away that I could be myself. It does not matter that I have my house elves around me while I bake. Instead it works to their advantage that they get to 'help'.

They do a good job brushing, sprinkling, or even licking utensils clean. And during the time I knead, they get to play with the dough. They roll, shape, and stuff it into their toys. And by the time the buns are done, they throw it away and get ready to eat!

From my last baking's leftover dough, I decided to make more Hokaiddo milk loaf inspired cheese and cinnamon loaf. And then the balance tangzhong found me making cheese stuffed rosemary foccacia

The cinnamon loaf turned to be just as heavenly as my favourite cinnamon rolls, just a lighter version. And the cheese stuffed focaccia was just oh-la-la! Best eaten with pesto sauce or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All these made perfect tea time for my parents who arrived from a long journey.

The next day one of my house elves was found posing at the Harley Davidson boutique in KLCC. Thanks to my dad who always gets them posing in their best.

And also in the washroom, I was seeing double of the boys who were already a handful!

I will be sharing the recipe for the tangzhong focaccia, till then, stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oh My Bread! Hokkaido Milk Loaf!

I am totally on cloud nine. I successfully made Hokkaido Milk Loaf using the tangzhong method for the first ever time. Without screwing up. A round of applause for me, pardon the lack of humility but this is just the moment I want to savour, for being able to bake a soft and fluffy loaf!

The recipe yields two loafs of 20cmx10x9cm, so I kept half in the freezer for the next day. I decided to give one of the dough a special treatment with cheese and Japanese Mayo finish.

I rushed out to get the bread knife from Daiso just the night before!
This is how the cheese-filled ones lok in the inside. Notice the bread texture so fine, and super yummy.

You can read about the tangzhong method here. Just one extra step, get it cooled down and you are ready to use it. It helps to make in larger batches and store in the fridge for days for subsequent use. The method I used to make the tangzhong is from Christine's Recipes. And here is the Hokkaido Milk Loaf recipe from the same blog.

I found the dough to be a little dry and hard, added some extra butter and milk to make it smoother. I knead like for almost half an hour to achieve best results, and my biceps have got a very good workout while I was at it. Thank God I am ambidextrous so I could alternate between hands kneading and kneading.

And my moment of glory has to be my boys requesting for the bread for supper session with their milk, and the biggest boy (hubby) bringing it to work next day for breakkie (not in picture), priceless!

On day two the bread continued to be soft and fluffy. The miracles of tangzhong method! No wonder they say once you go tangzhong you will never turn back! Its impossible to think bread baking life without it *drama mode*. Bon apetit!

Happy Days With BurgerLand

I have been meaning to post some pictures of the kids' new little (literally) groove. They are so into these imitation Lego figurines that we got them recently. It was not easy allowing the kids to play with little parts because they tend to throw it around and later expect to Google it up with me. We had strict strategy that we only introduced one new figurine a kid at every given time. And after a week another new figurine, provided the previous ones were intact. It was not an easy exercise, very often search teams were sent out all over the house to find so and so's helmet, body or even hands.

The bright side of these little figurines is that since they are made the size and built, most parts are interchangeable, and this is how the boys get into playing dress-up or slumber party with well known super heroes.

Let me warn you that following pictures might be too graphic for those die-hard fans who might not find this amusing. For the others, its a laughter party. An innocent one, of course!

The best buddies, Tony Stark exchange suit with Clark Kent. Don't you love the Clark Kent's evergreen hairstyle?

Hulk and Ironman. Standing behind is a jealous Raphael.

 Captain America, Ironman and random while shirt dude.

As the list goes on, the figurines mix up tops and bottoms so its hard to 'identify' them.

Other happy days are when the boys get to sweat and max it out at the indoor playground. Instead of climbing up and sliding down, they climb the slide, and jump down. Being a kid totally rocks!

At least that was a rather short in height slide, look at what happens at the taller ones.

Sometimes I just sigh and say 'Shanjeev, Shanjeev', and he goes 'Amma, amma'. They always have the last say.

This boy has been down viral infection, gave me a solemn pose after gulping down his milk. This picture is perfect for the Got Milk? campaign. Casting agents anyone?

Just yesterday he showed a great improvement in his appetite, and so it was time to max out happy day! Being surrounded by burgers here, hubby's wildest dream, and the boys got to live it.

Happy just got happier having the super duper humongous burger at BurgerLand at Bandar Botanic Klang. Their specialties are their homemade charcoal buns, mysteriously delicious patty, special BurgerLand mayo and the great service! Do check it out if you are in the area. 

For someone who can never get enough of good and large burgers, I think hubby's search just stopped here. In the background is the satisfying shot of my baby gaining his appetite back. Priceless!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rosemary Focaccia Stuffed With Bacon And Cheese - Recipe

I have got my baking groove back on, and how! Its is so therapeutic, especially once the whole kitchen and house starts to smell heavenly with those baking goodness, and the icing on top of this cake is eating it, the buns, I mean!

After making several sweet buns in the past, I decided I should try something savoury instead. I have always been intrigued with the idea of flat oven baked type of bun with the herbs as topping. After gathering some guts, and perfecting the recipe from various research, I have finally successfully baked what seems like a perfect focaccia to us! Perfect because it also contains our favourite comfort ingredients, bacon and cheese!

I had looked up for recipes over Dailydelicious and Happy Home Baking and finally got the right amount or rather size of focaccia I want to make for the 4 of us (including two little ones).

Below is my perfected recipe for the rosemary focaccia stuffed with comfor goodness (aka bacon and cheese). 

You Need

300g bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant or fast acting dried yeast
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp of dried rosemary
1 tsp olive oil
200ml warm water
5 strips of bacon, cut small
2 slices of cheddar cheese
some Japanese Mayonnaise

for topping:
1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp of dried rosemary


1) Mix the yeast into the warm water, stir in the sugar, and leave it for 10 minutes till you see the yeast foaming.

2) Put the bread flour, salt, chopped garlic and dried rosemary into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the olive oil and water, and stir with a wooden spoon till it all comes together.

3) Get your hand into the mixing bowl and knead the dough till smooth. You can also knead it on a floured surface, but I prefer to do it in the bowl itself. I added more olive oil to improve the texture. Coat it with some olive oil and cover the bowl with a towel. Let it rest for 1 hour.

4) Lightly fry the bacon in a pan, and transfer on a dish to let it cool.

5) Once it doubles in size, punch it down, and divide the dough into two.

6) Grease a 30cmx30cm baking tray with olive oil. Take one half of the dough and spread it over the baking tray. Firmly push the dough to the sides and corners to ensure it spreads evenly.

7) Spread the fried bacon on. Cut the cheese in longish shape, and arrange evenly on the dough. Spread some Japanese mayo.

8) Take the second half of the dough and roll it on a floured surface. Gently pick it and place it on top of the first flattened dough. Seal the sides. Let the dough rest for 45 minutes.

9) Prick the dough evenly with a fork, and brush with olive oil, and also sprinkle some more dried rosemary.

10) Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, till it is golden.

Clearly I did not seal the sides good enough, but I am glad to report that no cheese or bacon escaped. It made an excellent lunch for a lazy Sunday that we had already ate a heavy breakfast. Pardon the shoddy job at cutting my focaccia, I really ought to get that bread knife! Disclaimer: Taste is not affected whatever knife we use.

This time I put my instant yeast that were placed in the freezer to test. I gave it 10 minutes to thaw before doing the activation test, and voila, it worked! After yeast mishaps, I find this method of activation in warm liquid very helpful to ensure the yeast is working, rather than finding out when the dough never rises after hours. Therefore you may find my order of mixing the dough is rather different from the other recipes online.

It is ideal to use fresh herbs, but I only had the dried ones, which worked just as perfect. You can also omit the chopped garlic, but I liked having it for the flavour it gives to the savoury taste. The recipe is also the same as a plain focaccia with just one or more herbs, but it felt to me that if I am going all the way hand kneading and proofing time waiting, I might as well produce more reasons to be excited and savour it for. After all, hubby bugs me every ten minutes after I put the dough for first proofing.

For a change, the baking aroma this time was of heavenly rosemary and olive oil. Its just such mood up-lifting fragrance!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Honey Buns - Baking Again!

I was having a really really tough day with my active and mischievous kids. Its always something they do or mess up that gets my temper up. Well of course it is always the tiny regret after the huge temper flare up, and it that got me thinking I am not doing much of what I enjoyed and that excited me. Baking.

And since we had ample supply of water (yea yea, water ration still affecting my area), I decided to give it a go, like immediately, pronto, on the spot!

I was going to be kneading and baking after like almost a year, so I gave myself a simple yet special recipe. I found the sound of honey buns really tempting here at the Happy Home Baking blog. I love the aroma and the subtle taste of honey, and I was sure the kids would enjoy it too!

Thankfully I had all the ingredients, however, I was a little worried about the instant yeast. I have a love-hate relationship with my yeast in the past, we have had trouble understanding each others needs, pun intended, yeast are live microorganisms, after all. At one occasion the yeast failed to understand that I needed it to rise the dough, and I failed to understand it needed to be activated. So at this occasion I had to make sure the yeast is activated before I plunge it into any kind of baking, unless I want to end up with a flat non rising dough.

Firstly, it was good to know that the instant yeast was well within the expiry date. Next I did the quick yeast activation, which will also show if the yeast is at all usable. I dilute some yeast into a glass of warm (not hot) water with some sugar. Stir it well and leave it aside. It is important to remember like any other culture, high temperature would kill the yeasts and they would never ever activate. Within 5 to 10 minutes you will see foam at the top of the mixture. If you leave it long enough it might just look like you are brewing your own beer.

Also another trick to tackling your yeast woes is to make sure every ingredient it at least room temperature and not chilled. With the yeast giving it a go, I was all set for the recipe below!

You Need

300g bread flour
4g (about 2/3 tsp) salt
4g (1 tsp) instant yeast
1 egg lightly beaten plus enough milk to make 200g
50g honey
30g unsalted butter


1) Put the bread flour into a mixing bowl, mix with salt. Make a well in the middle with your fingers.
2) Mix the wet ingredients (activated) yeast, honey, milk and egg. Pour it into the well and use a spatula to stir the mixture till incorporated together.
3) Knead the dough, add some flour if too sticky. Finally add the butter and knead some more.
4) Once done, leave the dough in the mixing bowl, covered with a wet towel and let it proof for 60 to 90 minutes.
5) After first proofing, you can take the dough and shape it as you like, and leave it to proof for another 30 minutes, again with damp cloth covering it.
6) Give the buns a milk wash before putting it into a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes.

The final product:

I was worried that the plain buns might be less appealing to my toddler audience, so I took the liberty to fill 3 of them with butter and brown sugar, and gave it a roll.

In case you are wondering, this is how the inside looks like:


These buns also mark a milestone in my bun making venture. For the first time my dough was able to pass the windowpane test, and it just feels awesome that I have still got it and more in me. Stay tuned for more bakings!

Cucumber Raita Recipe

It has been extremely hot these days. So hot that I can feel my sweat drying up as I perspire. No drama, true story. And no thanks to Selangor water ration situation, cooking in the real sense is pretty challenging on dry days.

I have found making salad a rather convenient arrangement for a side dish especially during water cuts. Also it works fine keeping leftovers overnight for my snack for that night or even (really) light lunch the next day.

One of my favourite salad is of the Indian origin, the cucumber raita. Raita is a mixture of yogurt, vegetables, and some fresh herbs served together with curries in India. It is the perfect cooling taste that neutralizes the spiciness from the curries. It's also great to eat it chilled on its own like a quick savoury treat. Raita is the perfect thing to have in the fridge if you want to snack on yogurt goodness. 

Instead of the standard cucumber, I also like to include any kinds of vegetable that is suitable to be eaten raw. Although it is very subjective, not everyone would find onion and garlic to be eaten raw. Hence, feel free to omit it as you want.

You need:

1 cucumber
1 carrot
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
some salad leaves
some cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
a pinch of toasted ground cumin
a pinch of garam masala
1 cup of fresh yogurt (I use homemade)
1) Grate cucumber (minus the seeds/core), carrot, onion and garlic. I do it manually. You can also use the food processor.
2) Chop salad leaves medium fine. Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters.
3) Mix all the above together. Pour in the yogurt, salt/pepper, cumin and garam masala and mix well.

Doesn't it look like a healthier version of the coleslaw? This raita is indeed full of natural goodness, apart from the yogurt, cucumber boosts a lot of health benefits.

I prefer to let it chill before serving. Some recipes require to squeeze the water out of the cucumber. However I like to have it dilute the thick yogurt texture. It makes a very nice afternoon snack on hot hot days. 

Happy trying!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chicken Meatballs Recipe

My little picky eater Jeev has recently showed greater interest into rice with soup and gravy. At 2.5 year old, he still does not like fish, chicken or anything similar. He, however, had recently developed liking or rather 'being OK' with having occasional egg in his food. There has been numerous ways that I tricked him into eating things that he did not like. The newest method, is chicken meatballs.

What is good about this is that you can pack practically anything into the meatballs, and as they eat it will still look and taste appealing to the kids. And my secret be told, this is also how I packed vegetables in every other dish for the kids, and also the hubby. Grated carrot, finely chopped red peppers and celery, you just name it!

Let me warn you that you need not fret so much about the ingredient portions, as long as you have one portion of minced chicken (or any other meat), you can add a quarter (or even less or more) of that amount of vegetables.

You Need:

Minced meat (can be chicken, pork or beef)
finely chopped celery, red pepper, coriander leaves (and those stems too), garlic
1 tsp tomato puree
1 egg
1 tbsp instant oats
some worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper


1) Mix all of the above ingredients together and chill or an hour or so. Shape into balls and place on a greased tray.

2) Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30-40mins, or till you get the nice brown colour.

TIP: Wet your hands with water before making each meatballs, it helps to avoid the mixture from sticking to your fingers.
This is the final product. While you can serve it with pasta sauce, you can also let the kids eat them just on its own. Even the 'big' kids will enjoy it... my hubby did as wel!

For a crunchy outer layer you can coat the meatballs with egg and then some breadcrumbs. You can also add some boiled and mashed potatoes for extra ingredient. Perfectly fine to leave it out as well.

In essence, the recipe is similar to the meatloaf I did ages ago. One differs with the seasonings and extra bacon layers I had last time.I suppose this recipe too can be tweaked using different seasoning or sauces like BBQ sauce. Doesn't that sound like a tempting idea?

I served the meatballs with pasta and some salsa salad. Enjoy!


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