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Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

Pão de Queijo

In baking, bread on January 29, 2013 at 12:51 am

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I love bringing back a little something from my travels, and this includes food. Pão de queijo (cheese bread) is a popular Brazilian snack sold in bakeries. It’s crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Along with pinhão and the local flavours of Maggi instant noodles and Knorr seasonings, I brought home a premix of the pão de queijo from my 2011 trip to Brazil. The bread was incredibly tasty and I was very sad when I finished the pack.

I had downloaded a recipe for the bread but forgot about it until recently. We were having a potluck party in the office and I needed a plan C.

Plan A was crème caramel. I made it over the weekend and brought it to the office a day before the party. It did not survive the bus and train journey. I made them in little stainless steel bowls which I placed in Tupperwares. All that rattling around from the bumpy bus ride caused an ugly mess.

There was already a plan B, which I executed at the same time as plan A. It was supposed to be a bonus contribution, and also my first try of a new recipe – almond squares. That too tanked.

The baking powder was flat, so the mix did not rise. By the time it cooled down, it was hard and had to be scraped off the pan. Plus, the nuts I scattered on top burned. Note to self: mix nuts into batter, never sprinkle on top even if the recipe calls for it as nuts burn easily in the oven.

The double disasters called for a plan C. I wanted to make cinnamon and walnut buns  which I had attempted before (they tasted great!) but couldn’t get bread flour.

Then I considered slut’s spaghetti (will post about this later) but there was already too much carbs (rice and noodles) on the menu. I went through my recipe collection, wreaking my brains over what is doable in the morning before I leave for work and new to my colleagues but yet not too strange (I brought couscous to a house party once and had to take home most of it).

I stumbled upon this forgotten recipe and it made perfect sense to choose this because my new boss is a Brazilian. And the recipe looked simple enough. The ingredients are also minimal.

I woke up an hour earlier on potluck day and set out to work. The dough was sticky (from the tapioca starch) and a challenge to handle, but I had help from the electric mixer. And although I kicked myself for getting grated Parmesan cheese instead of a block (cheaper per gramme), it turned out to be a blessing because I did not have to slave over the grater.

The smell coming from the oven was the kind that makes you wish you had a home above a bakery. The bread is best eaten when it’s still warm. Oohh… it’ll make you go mmm... The bread was well received at the party. Even the Brazilian approved.

Shopping list: milk, tapioca starch, grated Parmesan cheese

From the pantry: eggs, oil, salt 

Hardware: mixer (optional), oven, baking paper

Can I do it?: Yes. Easy but messy because of the sticky dough and having to coat your hands in oil to shape the balls.

Tip: To store the bread, let it cool down completely before putting it into an airtight container. Do it before and the bread will deflate because of the trapped moisture.

Credit: Unavailable. Recipe sourced online.

Pitta-Bread Pizzas

In bread, vege on August 16, 2011 at 12:18 am

Pizza on a pitta! Voilà!

Since I started cooking with a mission, I find myself eating more dishes without meat. I’m discovering a whole new world of vegetables, where it isn’t a dish on its own, like stir-fried kailan or boiled cabbage (yuck!).

I’ve always loved vege, but never knew that it could make a meal interesting despite the absence of meat. Every meal had to have some sort of meat, seafood or egg.

This is a recipe so simple I couldn’t believe how good it tasted the first time I made it. In fact, I’ve even cooked it fresh (except for the potato which I boiled the night before) in the morning before I left for work. Just pop it into an airtight Tupperware and it’ll stay good for lunch.

The most interesting part of this recipe is the pizza on a pitta concept. Just cut the pitta into half, horizontally. Brush with olive oil on both sides, pop into the oven at 180 degrees celsius until golden brown and crispy (less than 10 minutes).

For the topping, stir-fry sliced peppers, cooked potato and rosemary. Then place everything onto the baked pitta, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and heat up on a grill pan. That’s all.

Shopping list: pitta bread, red pepper, yellow pepper (frankly, any colour you fancy – they all taste almost the same), red potato (russet if you want something cheaper)

From the pantry: olive oil, salt, pepper, dried rosemary (if you don’t have fresh), Parmesan cheese

Hardware: oven, grill pan, pastry brush

Can I do it?: Oh yeah!

Tip: Experiment with other toppings. I want to try sundried tomatoes.

Credit: Cook’s Kitchen Handbook and 500 Basic Recipes edited by Carole Clements

Cinnamon and Walnut Buns

In baking, bread on October 21, 2010 at 2:25 am

Bad picture but nice taste! It was dark when I finished this and I didn't want to use the flash...

This was my first attempt at making bread from scratch. The first time I baked one was using a pre-mix. It was nothing to rave about. The process was more exciting than the taste. I’ve never seen yeast develop before, so it was a big thrill to see the dough take on that coral-like texture as it balloons up in size. And with all the kneading and punching, you really get physical with your food.

For this recipe, the dough looks normal, but the taste is phenomenal. Walnut on its own is not very nice (because of the slight bitter taste) but with bread, it adds bite and flavour. Cinnamon, well, it’s one of my favourite spices. Then there’s the grated orange zest (I used lemon too) that gives the bun a nice zing when you bite into it. There’s also orange juice in the icing.

The bun is rolled together with sugar. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I substituted the caster sugar with soft brown sugar for a mellow sweetness. The combination of cinnamon, brown sugar and walnuts is a nice balance of spice, sweet and nutty texture.

My buns came out a bit on the hard side. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to. Maybe it’s because I didn’t use a mixer to knead the dough, add enough of the melted butter, or use bread/high protein flour. But I prefer it like that because, airy buns are like airheads to me – all fluff and no substance. And I was happy to have it for breakfast every day for over a week.

Shopping list: walnuts and orange

From the pantry: strong flour, yeast, caster sugar, icing sugar, warm milk, butter, eggs, ground cinnamon

Hardware: oven, baking tins, rolling pin

Can I do it?: Easy but time-consuming because you need to let the dough rise – twice!. And if you can’t shape the dough into a perfect rectangle, you’ll get rolls of different sizes when you cut it up.

Credit: Cook’s Kitchen Handbook & 500 Basic Recipes

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