Monday, September 30, 2013

Homemade Pizza #2 - Salami and Smoked Ham Pizza


As promised, this was the 2nd pizza which I made yesterday (Sunday), the salami and smoked ham pizza. I learnt from making my 1st pizza that I had to roll out the dough as thin as possible, at least 30 cm in diameter. So this time round, the crust was thinner than the haiwaiian pizza but it was still quite thick!

Nevertheless, it was yummy with very simple ingredients, 4 round pieces salami and 3 strips of german black forest smoked ham (zwarte woud ham) and some shredded cheese.



You can find the dough recipe in my previous post. As for the fillings, here it is:

Ingredients
some olive oil
some grated cheese 
1 can (70g) of concentrated tomato puree (Benito brand from Colruyt)
4 pieces of salami
4 strips of smoked ham

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 230C or 450F.

2. Place the dough on a cornmeal-dusted pizza stone, pizza pan or cookie sheet. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin to a diameter of at least 30 cm. Roll up the edge slightly to create a ridge around the pizza. (I don't have a pizza stone nor a pizza pan, so I placed the dough on a piece of greased baking paper which I later shoved it onto the metal grill which was then placed into the oven. )

3. Now add the desired fillings. First coat a baking brush with olive oil and brush a thin layer of olive oil on the rollout dough. 

4. Then using the back of a spoon, coat it with a 2nd layer of tomato puree. 

5. Place the slices of salami  and smoked ham on top, then sprinkle a layer of graed cheese on top.

6. Bake in the oven at 230C or 450 F for 15 to 18 min until the crust turns brown. (I baked mine for 15 min.)


I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #35 - A Palate for Pizza (Sept 2013) hosted by Joey of Little Accidents in the Kitchen. 


Small Small Baker/Aspiring Bakers

Homemade Pizza #1 - Hawaiian Pizza

Sunday was my first time making pizza dough from scratch, and of course also the first time making my own pizza. I have made a lot of breads but I have never tried making pizza dough in my entire life. I actually made 2 pizzas yesterday, one being my son's favourite, hawaiian pizza, and the other being my hubby's favourite, salami and smoked ham pizza. 

It was quite a fun, challenging and yet enlightening experience. I did most of the work, right from kneading and rolling out the dough and adding the pizza fillings, but my hubby being the pizza expert (pizza-eating, not pizza-making) also helped to dish out some pretty useful advice which he learnt from his years of experience in warming up frozen pizzas in the oven. He later claimed that he was the chef behind the 2nd pizza, the salami pizza, upon which my dear little son, immediately jumped to my defence and said, "No, mama made everything herself! " :)



The first pizza, the hawaiian pizza with pineapples and ham, was my first guinea pig, and it turned out to be too thick! I then realised that I had to roll the dough thinner because the pizza dough actually puffed up quite a lot while in the oven. My hubby said "wow, that's pizza hut's pizza, fat and thick!" Haha, no offence to pizza hut. :)

So for the 2nd salami and smoked ham pizza (will be shown in my next post), I rolled it out as thin as I could, and it turned out much better. But still, I think there is still lots of room for improvement. For instance, according to hubby the pizza expert, I should place the pizza directly on the metal grill in the oven, and not on the baking tray which I lined with baking paper. This will allow the hot air to reach the base of the pizza so that the pizza crust will be crispy, otherwise it will be unbaked or soggy. But the problem was, if I were to place the pizza on the metal grill right from the beginning, how am I supposed to roll out the pizza dough? And if I were to roll out the pizza dough on baking paper on the baking tray, how am I supposed to transfer the whole pizza (without baking paper) to the metal grill without breaking the whole pizza. I don't have a long "spade" (I dunno what you call it) like those used by professional pizza chefs, which they use to shove the pizza from the table to the oven. In the end, I did a small workaround, instead of using a whole big piece of baking paper, I cut out the baking paper so that it was just slightly bigger than the pizza itself, and then I pulled it via the edge of the baking paper and shove it to the metal grill which I asked hubby to hold right beside the table. Being a pizza newbie, this was one of the technical difficulties which I faced while making these 2 pizzas. Wonder if anybody can advice me on the solution?



Recipe adapted from Food Network (Paula Deen's recipe)

Ingredients
1.75 cup warm water
2.25 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
4.5 to 5 cups bread flour (I used 4.5 cups) and extra for flouring
3 tbsp olive oil, and extra for greasing bowl
cornmeal for pan (omitted)

Method
1. Measure 1.75 cup warm water and sprinke yeast on top, allow to activate for about 10 min.

2. Put salt and 2 cups flour into bread machine or big mixing bowl if you are kneading by hand, and mix well. 

3. Add yeast and water, mix well and start kneading. Add olive oil. Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time. Continue to knead and scrap the sides of the bowl until well-blended.

4. As soon as mixture is combined, dump out onto a well-floured board and knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. (I used the dough mode of my bread machine to knead for about 8 min. You can knead by hand too.)

5. Place dough in a greased bowl. Coat with plastic wrap or tea towel and allow to rise in warm place for about 45 min, or until doubled in size. Then punch down the dough and divide equally into 2, each piece will make a 12-inch or 30 cm diameter pizza. (The total weight of the dough was about 1050 grams, if you divide into 4 pieces, you can make 4 thin-crust pizza. If you divide into 2, make sure you roll out the dough as thin as possible to a diameter of at least 30 cm, otherwise the crust will be too thick. My first pizza was about 27cm diameter and look how thick the crust was! ).


After kneading for 8 min and before proofing.
After proofing for 45 min.
Fillings (as you wish)

Ingredients
some olive oil
some grated cheese 
1 can (70g) of concentrated tomato puree (Benito brand from Colruyt)
100g of ham cubes
1 can of pineapples

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 230C or 450F.

2. Place the dough on a cornmeal-dusted pizza stone, pizza pan or cookie sheet. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin to a diameter of at least 30 cm. Roll up the edge slightly to create a ridge around the pizza. (I don't have a pizza stone nor a pizza pan, so I placed the dough on a piece of greased baking paper which I later shoved it onto the metal grill which was then placed into the oven. )

3. Now add the desired fillings. First coat a baking brush with olive oil and brush a thin layer of olive oil on the rollout dough. 

4. Then using the back of a spoon, coat it with a 2nd layer of tomato puree. 

5. Sprinkle a layer of grated cheese, followed by pineapple cubes and ham cubes. Then sprinkle another thin layer of grated cheese on top.

6. Bake in the oven at 230C or 450 F for 15 to 18 min until the crust turns brown. (I baked mine for 15 min.)


I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #35 - A Palate for Pizza (Sept 2013) hosted by Joey of Little Accidents in the Kitchen. 


Small Small Baker/Aspiring Bakers

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Garden Updates (Pumpkins) - August 2013

I wanted to post some updates on my pumpkins in August but due to some unforeseen reasons, this post has been delayed until now. Well better late than never, isn't it? Here are some pictures of pumpkin flowers taken in mid August, those of you who are subscribed to my FB page, will probably have already seen this set of pictures.

This is a male flower, the thing sticking out there is called a stamen.
This is a female flower about to bloom the next morning. 
See the stigma insde the female flower?
Now how do you differentiate between a male and female pumpkin flower? It's very easy, just see if there is a small pumpkin fruit below the flower, if there is, it is a female flower. The stigma of a female flower needs to be pollinated by the pollen from the stamen of a male flower. This is generally the job of bees. But I don't trust that the bees will do a good job, neither do I trust the wild rabbits or whatever wild creatures lurking in my garden. So what I did was, I forced open the female flower, then I used a cotton bud (cotton swap/Q-tip) to rub against the stamen of the male flower, so as to collect the pollen, which was then rubbed against the stigma of the female flower. In short, I "raped" the pumpkin flowers. And I did it for a series of them, so that made me a "serial pumpkin rapist". :p

  
Well, this is a job which I take very seriously, no joke! You may ask, why do you go against the forces of nature, why don't you let nature take its course? Well, simply because I started very late in sowing and germinating the pumpkin seedlings this year. In fact, I was more than a month late in planting my pumpkins. What's more, I discovered that "somebody" (I dunno who yet, either rabbits or slugs) has been munching on my pumpkin flowers, both female and male. In order to protect the "virginity" of my flowers and in order to secure the future of my pumpkins, I had to take up the job of hand-pollinating the flowers, otherwise there will be no chance of seeing any pumpkins at all in October, seriously. In addition to hand-pollinating, I also covered the female flowers with plastic bags to protect them from being "harassed" by "unsavoury characters" lurking in my garden, and that worked pretty well. 


A female flower in full bloom.
Hand-pollination in process. Can you see that the female flower has already been ravaged by some unknown creature?


See, this was what happened the next morning, that "god-knows-what" creature has already eaten off almost the whole of the female flower. Luckily I have already hand-pollinated it the day before!

Well, that's about all for my pumpkins, I still have some pictures of my homegrown chillis and paprikas which I will share very soon. :)


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Friday, September 20, 2013

Pandan Chiffon Cake - My Search for the Ultimate Pandan Chiffon Cake

I have always been quite apprehensive about baking chiffon cakes, especially pandan chiffon cakes. I don't really like baking pandan chiffon cakes because first of all, pandan leaves are very expensive and hard to come by and once I buy them, they come in 250 grams or 500 grams and I have to use them all, so you can imagine my face turning green if I have to bake and eat pandan cakes everyday (well, I only started freezing them recently and I am surprised that they keep quite well in the freezer.) Secondly, I am the only person who appreciates pandan chiffon cakes, my little son refuses to eat anything that is green cos he associates green with broccoli which he absolutely hates, and my hubby doesn't think very highly of cakes that look radioactive green. Thirdly, I have an irrational fear of unmoulding chiffon cakes, it stems from the time when I owned a savarin cake tin which I thought was a proper chiffon cake tin, and I failed countless times unmoulding the chiffon cakes from that stupid savarin cake tin. 

Anyway, long story cut short. I looked up the most detailed and sought-after pandan chiffon cake recipe on the web, which is this recipe posted by Dr Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost, and tried to apply some mathematics to it to adapt his recipe to fit a 8-inch (21 cm) cake tin, his recipe was for a 10-inch (25cm) by the way. I then realised that the area of 8-inch should be about 64 percent of a 10-inch. (Go work it out, it's just simple PI x r squared. ) Then I came across another recipe that was also adapted from the same original recipe (KiamnengWong), but suited for a 21 cm chiffon pan. Strange, but that recipe seemed to have halved the amount of ingredients for a 10-inch to arrive at the recipe for a 8-inch. 

So I picked the 2nd recipe and started preparing the cake. Alas, I made the same mistake as 2 days ago for my panda bread, I started too late due to too much dilly-dallying, and I had to rush through the whole baking process in order to be on time to fetch my son from the kindergarden. In fact, I had to leave home at 3.25pm instead of the usual 3.15pm when my son was supposed to be fetched at 3.30pm. The cake was still in the oven when I left home and there was still 5 min to go before completion, so I thought I could switch off the oven heat and let the cake continue baking in the enclosed oven. Luckily the cake was not burnt although it did suffer a little shrinkage because it was not removed and inverted immediately since I only arrived home 15 min later.

Just before I left to fetch my son, 5 min before completion.
Sigh, this was an absolutely delicious pandan chiffon cake, the best I had ever done, but unfortunately I had to rush through the final baking moment, which resulted in a regrettable moment of folly.


I opened the oven 15 min later, and my heart sank! :S

So here is my recipe, adapted from here and here.


(Each of my eggs were about 65g with shell, 60g without, and contained 20g egg yolk and 40g egg white)

Ingredients
180g egg whites (4.5 x 40g)
0.5 tsp cream of tartar
50g fine sugar (I grinded normal caster sugar in food processor)

60g egg yolks (3 x 20g)
50g fine sugar
70g coconut milk plus 1 tbsp water, blend with 20-25 pandan leaves
60g vegetable oil (no olive oil or peanut oil pls!)
0.5 tsp pandan paste/essence (I used koepoe koepoe brand)

1/8 tsp salt
100g cake flour, sifted with 1 tsp baking powder

Still, the taste is something to die for!

Method
1. Wash the pandan leaves and cut them each into 1cm strips. Prepare the pandan-coconut milk mixture by blending in a food processor: pandan leaves (100g or 25 pieces) with coconut milk (70g) and water (1 tbsp). Then strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing hard to extract as much juice as possible. Remove the pulp, and retain the green coconut milk, which should weigh about 95g. If you fail to get 95g, top it up with extra coconut milk to 95g.

2. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and sugar at high speed till thick and creamy, until the ribbon stage is achieved, i.e. the mixture should form a slowly disappearing ribbon on the surface when it is lifted with the whisk. Add green coconut milk, followed by vegetable oil, pandan paste/extract (if using any), and continue whisking until evenly mixed.

3. Gradually add sifted flour mixture (cake flour, baking powder , salt) and whisk gently in the same direction, either with electric mixer at lowest speed or with manual whisk, until the flour is all incorporated. 

4. In a separate mixing bowl (note: must be dry, clean and grease-free), using an electric mixer at high speed, whisk egg whites until it is frothy, then add cream of tartar and whisk briefly, and finally add sugar in 3 additions and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

5. Scoop 1/3 of the egg-white mixture and mix it with the green mixture, folding with a rubber spatula. Then add the remaining egg-white mixture and fold in gently and swiftly.

6. Bang the mixing bowl on the table-top a few times to get rid of air bubbles trapped in the batter. Then pour the batter slowly into a ungreased, unlined chiffon cake tin of 8 inch or 21 cm (preferably made of aluminium and non-stick and with a removable base), then use a chopstick to gently run through the batter, to get rid of air bubbles. Finally use a spatula to smooth and level out the surface of the batter. 

7a. Preheat the oven (with top and bottom heat) to 180 degrees celsius and place the cake on the bottom shelf for about 15 min, until the cake has risen to almost level with the top of the cake tin, the cake should be slightly brown but not cracked. 

7b. Place a baking tray on the top shelf to block out the heat from the top and continue baking for another 20 min or so, cake should have risen above the top of the cake tin, and should be slightly cracked now. If you don't have a baking tray, use aluminium foil to loosely cover the cake.

7c. Remove the tray from the top and continue baking until the top of the cake is dry and medium brown, about 5 to 10 min. Total time should be maximum 45 min at 180C for a 21-cm cake.  

8. Remove the chiffon cake from the oven, immediately invert it onto a bottle and leave it to cool for at least 1 hour. When completely cooled, unmould the cake by using a sharp serrated knife to first loosen the edges of the cake from the sides of the cake tin, and then the bottom of the cake from the base. 


So what was the verdict? Just take a look at this picture. I found a new "convert" in my 1.5 year old daughter, and that explains the sloppy photograpy for today, I couldn't take any proper pictures because she was eyeing the cake all the time. Anyway, both of us finished 3/4 of the cake within 30 min! :)




I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up (September ) - Pandan hosted by Josceline of Butter, Flour & Me, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Panda Bread or Pandan Bread or Both ? 斑兰熊猫面包

Hello, knock knock, is anybody there?

Yes, yes, I am back, with a vengeance! 

I haven't really baked anything this 2 weeks except for a tiger bread (of which the written notes was somehow misplaced and hence not published yet) and this cute little panda bread. My dear son calls it "kuku panda", actually he meant "kungfu panda", just that he couldn't pronounced the "kungfu". So it seems that I am into baking animal breads lately, haha! 



This is actually a pandan panda bread or a panda pandan bread, or you can call it a "kuku panda bread" just like what my son did. The original recipe used green tea powder, but I decided to give it a pandan flavour by using the indonesian koepoe koepoe pandan paste. 



You know, I nearly threw this panda bread into the bin, cos I was not good at eyeballing and I underestimated the size of the dough when I rolled it out and couldn't get the plain dough to wrap completely around the eyes. The perfectionist in me then decided to peel the doughs apart even though it was a painfully messy and sticky affair, and while struggling with the entangled mess of a dough, at the heat of the moment, I was so pissed off I nearly threw the whole thing into the bin. Luckily the patient side of me was suddenly awakened, and I thought about how much time I had already spent kneading and proofing the dough, it would be a waste for me to throw away a fruit of labour which I had already spent so much time and effort on. 

As I said, I stumbled while putting the coloured doughs together, and as a result, I was nearly late in fetching my son back from kindergarden (yah, murphy's law at work again). Luckily for me, the end product, though not very satisfactory, turned out to be not too bad either. I think it look like a "cock-eyed panda", haha! What do you think? :p

Recipe adapted from Florence of Do What I Like 

Ingredients (makes a loaf of about 555g, 206x108x100)
230g bread flour 
70g cake flour
30g sugar
milk + 1 yolk = 210g (I used full cream milk)
4.5g salt (1 tsp) 
4g instant yeast (2 tsp) 
20g unsalted butter

Mixture for chocolate dough
8g cocoa powder dissolved in 8g boiling water

Mixture for green dough
8g green tea powder dissolved in 10g boiling water
1 tsp pandan paste/essence + 2 to 3 drops water


Method
1. Mix milk and 1 egg yolk together and warm it up to about 38 degrees celsius. (I used the microwave on High for 30 sec.)

2. Add everything (except the cocoa mixture and pandan mixture) into bread machine and set to "dough" mode. Let it knead for 20 min, stop and restart the "dough" mode and let it knead for another 15 min. 

3. Divide the dough into 3 portions: 75g for the chocolate dough, 210g for the plain dough and the rest (270g) for the green dough. (My dough was about 555g.)

4a. To make chocolate dough, add the cocoa mixture to the 75g dough and knead until the colour is even. Likewise to make the green dough, add the pandan mixture to the 270g dough  and knead it until the colour is even. (I did the kneading by hand for the chocolate dough but I used the bread machine for 3 min for the green dough as the pandan mixture was too sticky.)

5. Place all 3 doughs separately into a greased plate covered with clingwrap and let it proof for 30 to 40 min. (I placed them each into a greased bowl covered with clingwrap and let them proof for 60 min in the oven set to lowest temp at 40-50 degrees celsius.)


After 1st proofing of 60 min.

6. Punch air out of each dough and proof for another 20-30 min. (Again covered with clingwrap and placed in oven for 30 min to proof.)
After punch-down.
After 2nd proofing of 30 min.

7. Take 90g of the plain dough for the face, 2 x 27g of the chocolate dough for the eyes, and 30g of plain dough for the space between the eyes. Mould the face according to the picture shown.

8. Take the remaining plain dough, roll it flat using a rolling pin and use it to wrap around the dough from step 7.

9. Divide the remaining chocolate dough into 2 pieces for the ears (2 x 10g), and stick them onto the finished dough from step 8.

10. Take 70g of the green dough to fill up the space between the ears. 


11. Take the remaining green dough, roll it flat using a rolling pin and use it to wrap around the dough from step 10. 

12. Place the dough into a greased loaf pan with a lid and let it proof for 50 to 60 min in a enclosed area. (I placed the dough in a pullman loaf pan, covered it with the lid and I let it proof for 60 min in the oven set to lowest temp at 40-50 degrees celsius).

13. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsius for 25 to 30 min. (I took out the bread after proofing for 1 hour, increased the temp to 200 degrees celsius for 10 min, before I finally put in the bread for baking. I placed my pullman loaf pan at the lowest shelf in the oven just slightly above the bottom for 25 min. And for the next 5 min, I removed the lid of my pullman loaf pan and moved it to the highest shelf so as to brown the crust.) 




I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up (September ) - Pandan hosted by Josceline of Butter, Flour & Me, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY.


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