Wednesday, January 29, 2014

马上要过年了!

马年快到了,祝大家。。。


缺钱过年的

想买栋房子的

想买辆车子的

 还没找到对象的

想升职加薪的
all photo credits : internet screen grab


想生的马上生。。。我也快按捺不住了,包包都已经准备好了,5天 staycation 正等着我。。。

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lao Por Bing / Taiwan Sun Biscuit / Phong Piah (老婆饼 / 太阳饼 / 碰饼)

最近倒霉的事一箩筐。我本来想清除掉上次从新加坡带回来的冬瓜糖,是特地买来做老婆饼用的。为了省时间,明明食谱说明得先准备好全部馅料才做饼皮的,我却没有按部就班,结果出了乱子。我先用镬炒好糕粉,再炒香白芝麻,然后做了水皮和油皮放进冰箱,接着再回来继续做馅料。正当我打开冬瓜糖准备和白芝麻一起拿去绞碎的那刹那,晴天霹雳,赫然发现冬瓜糖竟然发霉,我的天啊,有没有搞错,怎么这么倒霉? 水皮和油皮都做好了,感觉质地很好很容易包馅料,扔掉了很可惜。伤心之余, 马上振作,刚好我印的食谱的另一面是太阳饼的做法,事不宜迟,马上换做太阳饼的馅料。这就是我的老婆饼怎么会变成太阳饼整件事情的由来,听起来有一点不可思议,但确实如此。从大概去年九月开始,我就已经在部落格上碎碎念,不管是做蛋糕还是做面包很多都差点拿去喂鸡。希望来临的马年做什么事都能够顺顺利利,不要再出乱子了,不然我就要洗手不干了。:)


For those who do not understand Chinese, basically I had the intention to make Lao Por Bing or Wife Biscuit in order to get rid of my winter melon candies brought from Singapore, but I ended up making Tai Yang Bing or Taiwanese Sun Biscuit instead. All because I did not check the freshness of all my ingredients beforehand. I was a smart-aleck who did not follow the recipe instructions which stated clearly that the fillings should be first prepared before making the 2 doughs. If I had done so, I would surely have noticed the deplorable state of one of my key ingredients. I first started by frying the glutinous rice flour to make koh fun (糕粉) and toasting the white sesame seeds, then I proceeded to make my water dough and oil dough so that they could chill in the fridge in the mean while. Just as I was about to open the pack of winter melon candies and throw them into the food processor together with the sesame seeds for grinding, I realised to my utmost horror that my winter melon candies have all gone bad. OMG, I saw greenish spots, they have all turned mouldy!!! 

Alamak, what to do? Throwing the water dough and oil dough away would be such a waste as the texture of both doughs were pretty good and looked easy enough to wrap up the filling. What's more, all my efforts would have gone down the drain and I would have to buy a new can of Crisco shortening the next time. Luckily the recipe for the Tai Yang Bing / Sun Biscuit was printed at the back of the Lao Por Bing / Wife Biscuit recipe, so I decided to keep both doughs and make a new filling instead. That way, I wouldn't have to start all over again. That was how my Lao Por Ping ended up becoming Tai Yang Bing. A pretty bizarre story. :)

As time was running late again, and I had to pick up my 2 energizer bunnies, I covered the 2 doughs and the filling individually with clingwrap and chilled them in the fridge. It was only 6 hours later at 9pm (after cooking, bathing, feeding my 2yo and 4yo and putting them to sleep), that I could return to what I had done half way. By the time my pastries came out from the oven, it was nearly 11pm! What a long, tiring but fruitful day, just for 10 pastries! 



Despite the hiccups along the way, the effort was well worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making these traditional chinese pastries. Actually, this is nothing new to me, I have already tried my hands once at making baked siew bao which also involved using water dough, oil dough and layered flaky pastry. But it was good to refresh my pastry techniques again. :)


Filling recipe adapted from Florence of Do What I Like

Taiwanese Sun Pastry Filling 台湾太阳饼馅料
80g icing sugar, sifted
20g maltose, about 2 rounded tsp
0.5 tsp boiling water
20g butter at room temp, diced into small cubes
30g cake flour, sifted

A) Method for Filling
- Dilute maltose with 0.5 tsp boiling water. Add the maltose to icing sugar in a big mixing bowl and mix well. Add in the diced butter and sifted flour and knead briefly until a smooth dough is formed. Do not over-knead (I found the dough dry initially as I must have added not enough maltose, so I added a few more drops of boiling water. The addition of a little boiling water will make the maltose softer so that it is easier to knead using your hands and make the dough come together into a ball. Note that it is not required to wrap and chill the filling in the fridge but I chose to do so as I was away for 6 hours. This filling became very hard after chilling due to the presence of maltose and icing sugar and had to be thawed at room temp slightly longer than the other 2.) 

- Divide the filling into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 10 portions of 15g each but my filling was only 117g so I divided into 10 portions of 11g each.) 



Chinese Flaky Pastry recipe adapted from Corner Cafe

Water Dough (水皮)
70g bread flour, sifted
70g plain flour, sifted
25g caster sugar
55g lard or shortening, diced into small cubes (I used Crisco shortening)
70ml water, adjust if necessary 

Oil Dough (油皮)
70g cake flour
35g lard or shortening, diced into small cubes (I used Crisco shortening)

Egg Wash
1 egg + 1 tsp water, lightly beaten


Method for Chinese Flaky Pastry
B) Water Dough (水皮) 
- Put bread flour, plain flour, sugar and shortening in a big mixing bowl and mix briefly. Slowly add water to form a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead until smooth, form into a ball, wrap it in plastic clingwrap and chill in the fridge for at least 20 min. (I first used spatula to cut the shortening into the flour mixture before using my hands to do the rubbing-in method, the texture should resemble bread crumbs before adding in water. I added exactly 70 ml water. After adding water, briefly knead using your hands and made the dough come together to form a smooth ball. Do not over-knead. This water dough was a little sticky so you should definitely chill it in the fridge for it to harden.)

- Divide the water dough into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 14 equal portions, but I divided the 288g water dough into 10 portions of 28g each.)


C) Oil Dough (油皮)
In a big mixing bowl, rub the shortening into the cake flour briefly and knead into a smooth soft dough. It is important that the malleability of the oil dough is about the same as the water dough in order to make chinese flaky pastry, according to Corner Cafe. (Again, I first used spatula to cut the shortening into the cake flour before using my hands to do the rubbing-in method so that it resembled bread crumbs, then I briefly kneaded using my hands and made the dough come together to form a smooth ball. Do not over-knead. I found the oil dough not sticky at all and quite pliable. It was definitely less sticky than the water dough. On hindsight, I found it was not really necessary to chill the oil dough in the fridge, but since I was away for 6 hours, I didn't want to take chances.)

- Divide the oil dough into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 14 equal portions, but I divided the 102g water dough into 10 portions of 10g each.)



Pls refer to my step-by-step picture collages for the method of Huai Yang Pastry (Visible Layering - Spiral Shaping 圆酥). This is a technique which I learnt from Corner Cafe's blog. Sorry for the mind-boggling background of my 2-dollar daiso rolling mat, I did these late at night and the lighting was pretty bad in the kitchen. If you prefer a clearer image, you can refer to this collage from my baked siew bao recipe for steps 1 to 9.
  • Step 1 - On a slightly floured work surface (floured with plain flour), flatten the water dough into a circle and put the oil dough on top. 
  • Step 2 - Wrap the water dough around the oil dough, pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball.
  • Step 3 - Using a slightly floured rolling pin, roll out the ball of dough into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 4 - Roll it up like a swiss roll.
  • Step 5 - Turn it 90 degrees.
  • Step 6 - Again, using the rolling pin, flatten and roll it out into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 7 - Roll it up like a swiss roll again.
  • Step 8 - Turn the rolled dough so that it is now standing with the rolled side facing up.
  • Step 9 - Flatten it with your palm so that it now looks like the shell of a snail. 

  • Step 10 - Using the rolling pin, roll it out into a circle big enough to encase the filling.
  • Step 11 - Place the filling in the centre.
  • Step 12 - Wrap the dough around the filling.
  • Step 13 - Pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball. Turn it upside down so that the sealed edges are facing down
  • Step 14 - Using the rolling pin or using your palm, flatten and roll out into a circular disc of about 7 cm. (original recipe stated 9 to 10 cm)
  • Step 15 - Use a fork to prick some holes on the pastry, to avoid the filling from oozing out during baking. Be careful not to poke right through the bottom layer of pastry.
  • Step 16 - Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, apply a layer of egg wash and put in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 25 min or till golden brown.



Note: If you follow Corner Cafe's method of making Lao Por Bing/Wife Biscuit, you will notice that he did not turn the dough with the rolled side facing up unlike what I did at step 8. Instead he went straight from step 7 to step 10, which is the approach for hidden layering (暗酥) required for making Lao Por Bing. But since I was using Tai Yang Bing/Sun Biscuit filling, I had to follow Florence's recipe which used the visible spiral shaping. The spiral shaping (圆酥) is what you commonly see in the making of shanghainese mooncakes or spiral curry puffs. But the effect of my spiral pastry was not 3D and not so obvious, I thought.





Doesn't it look like Phong Piah (碰饼) with the puffed up shape and hollow middle layer? One of my friends said it was a Wife Biscuit disguised as a Phong Piah. Actually to be honest, they do taste like Phong Piah! I hardly get to eat Taiwanese Sun Biscuit, only once in a blue moon when my sis brings some back from business trip in TW, so I can't really remember how they taste like. 


These chinese traditional pastries do keep well for at least a week (or even longer) if you keep them in an airtight container. They were not oily at all, not like some of the tar sar piah pastries we buy from shops where you have to finish within a day or two. I made them on Wednesday and the last piece was finished the following Tuesday. When you eat one piping hot from the oven, you can taste the molten-lava-like filling oozing out from the flaky pastry. But once they are cooled down, the layered flaky pastry managed to maintain its hard shape and crunchiness even after a few days. They are flaky, and yet hard and crunchy. All I can say is, this is a keeper recipe, try it and you will know !

虽然这次糊里糊涂,想做老婆饼却误打误撞做出了吃起来像碰饼的太阳饼,过程有一点啼笑皆非。但这确实是一个看起来繁琐其实做法并不难的好食谱,下次要做碰饼一定要用这个食谱!

PS: I am looking for a good recipe for the filling for the Singapore type of Tau Sar Piah (sweet or salty version), not the Malaysian type. I am also looking for a black sesame filling for black sesame biscuit. If anybody knows of such a recipe and is willing to share, pls pm me. Thank you!


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I am linking this post to Bake-Along: Chinese New Year Cookies, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Traditional Peanut Sesame Candy (传统芝麻花生糖)

I wonder how many people remember eating these when they were young? I think this type of chinese traditional peanut sesame candy (called Fah Sung Tong in Cantonese or Thor Tao Teng in Hokkien) is pretty difficult to find nowadays. Probably the only time I get a chance to taste it, is during the 7th lunar month ghost festival when my mum would participate in the praying session organized by the PAP Residents Committee, and she would get a goodie-bag in a plastic pail which sometimes contain a packet of such peanut candies. Another occasion I can think of, would be if somebody gets married and the family orders from Tai Thong Cake Shop or Gin Thye Cake Maker for the 过大礼 Guo-Da-Li or bethrothal ceremony, and if you are a close relative, then you would get a box of traditonal chinese wedding cakes which may contain traditional biscuits and candies such as tau sar piah (豆沙饼), gong tang (贡糖) and peanut candy (花生糖). I have never received such a box of chinese wedding cakes in my life, seems that not many people are sticking to traditions nowadays. :)




I always joke that this peanut sesame candy is for the Ti-Ki (iron teeth) people and not for the Boh-Gay (no teeth) folks, honestly this is for people with really good strong teeth. If you have rickety teeth, you better stay away from this candy, I am not joking. Although this maybe bad for your teeth, but this is absolutely delicious and crunchy and can be very addictive, you wouldn't stop at one piece if you are a big fan of such candies!

I think this peanut sesame candy would be ideal for CNY, since peanuts (fa sung) symbolize prosperity, definitely a must-have for chinese people who are doing business. Do people still serve this type of candies at CNY, I wonder? 



I tried making this candy on Wednesday afternoon. Since I couldn't find unsalted skinless roasted peanuts, I had to buy 2x250g of roasted peanuts with shells and had to spend 1 hour removing the shells and skins, and breaking the peanuts into halves. It was time-consuming and tedious work, and 500g of peanuts would only yield 300g after shelling and peeling. The method by itself however was quite straightforward, although there are a few important points to take note.


Recipe adapted from My Kitchen Snippets and Lily Ng
Ingredients 
1 cup castor sugar (50g)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp white vinegar (called alcohol-azijn in Dutch)
0.25 cups toasted white sesame seeds
2.25 cups unsalted, skinless roasted peanuts (300g)


Method
1. Toast the white sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat for a few min until fragrant and slightly toasted.

2. Line a 15 cm x 25 cm (6 inch x 10 inch) rectangular baking pan with aluminium foil and grease generously with vegetable oil or baking spray. (It is very important that you grease the aluminium foil lining the pan. I forgot to do so, thank goodness it was'nt too difficult to remove the peanut candy from the foil.)

3. Combine 50% of the sesame seeds and all of the peanuts together and spread them evenly in 1 single layer over the baking pan. 

4. Using a non-stick heavy-bottom pan, add sugar, white vinegar and water, mix well and cook over medium heat until it reaches 300F or 150C on a candy thermometer. (I actually used an oven thermometer to measure the temp and I realised that even after 15 min of cooking over medium heat, I could only achieve 105 - 110 degrees celsius and no further, but the sugar syrup has already turned dark brown. So I would suggest to stop once you see the syrup turning light brown, which would take any time from 10 to 15 min on medium heat. It doesn't matter if you don't use a candy thermometer. Just note that it would boil for quite some time without changing colour but once it hits 100C, it will start turning light brown. Be very careful though as as the boiling sugar syrup is very hot!)




5. Once the sugar syrup is ready, remove it from heat. Carefully pour it over the nuts, and smooth it with a spatula, then sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over it(As my sugar syrup was already dark brown, it was reduced in volume, very concentrated, sticky and viscous, and as I poured it over the nuts, it actually set very quickly and hardly flowed through the nuts due to its viscousity even as I tried tilting the pan from side to side. As it hardened, the texture reminded me of maltose. So my suggestion is to only boil the sugar syrup until light brown, and not dark brown.)



6. Allow the candy to cool a while, then remove the candy from the baking pan by lifting up the edges of the aluminium foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the candy into 2 inch by 1 inch pieces. Allow the candy bars to cool completely before storing them in airtight containers. Once the candy bars are cooled, it will become brittle and crunchy. (The peanut candy should be cut as soon as the sugar syrup has set and while it is still warm. You have to work fast. If you wait too long, it will be difficult to slice as it would turn even harder. I only waited 1 or 2 min before I started cutting the candy since my sugar syrup set almost immediately upon pouring.)


Notes:
- White vinegar is required as it prevents the sugar syrup from crystallizing during boiling.
- The hard-crack stage of making candy is at 150C or 300F, that is when there is almost no water left in the syrup. However I couldn't achieve that temp and I stopped at 105 to 110C which worked fine for me, not sure if my oven thermometer was faulty. :)




I am linking this post to Bake-Along: Chinese New Year Cookies, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.
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Saturday, January 11, 2014

CNY Almond Cookies (外脆内酥的杏仁酥饼)


I have made these almond cookies many many times since 2010, I usually bake them 2 or 3 times a year, and this must be the 10th time I am making them. :)

However when I made them this time round, I was a little smart-aleck and maybe a little over-confident and I didn't stick to the original recipe which used 50% butter and 50% margarine. I used just butter alone since I didn't have margarine in the fridge and I thought it wouldn't matter, big mistake. I didn't keep a close eye on my oven, and my 1st batch of cookies turned brown too quickly and were over-baked due to the higher fat content, luckily the 2nd batch was ok. So the moral of the story is, even if you have tried a recipe many times, don't anyhow change it if it works. :)

My hubby loves these cookies, since they are crunchy outside and crumbly inside. I love eating them too, once you get started on these cookies, it's really difficult to stop at one. They do keep quite well and taste good even after a few days, but usually they don't last that long in our household, my hubby and I can finish all 80 of them within 2 days. :)

这个杏仁饼干外脆内酥,真的满好吃的,一吃就会吃上瘾,特地向大家强力推荐。


Recipe adapted from my old recipe back in 2010, originally from Violet Fenying.


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I am linking this post to Bake-Along: Chinese New Year Cookies, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Easy Portuguese Egg Tarts (简易葡式蛋塔)

I had a roll of Marc Payot ready-made shortcrust pastry meant for making something else earlier this week but as usual the plan was shelfed and I had to look for some other recipes in order to consume the pastry before its expiry date. Then I happened to see a recipe for Portuguese Egg Tarts using ready-made puff pastry. It appeared so easy upfront. Bingo! Let's do it, let's make Portuguese Egg Tarts today! 


Making Portuguese Egg Tarts was really very easy according to this recipe, it took only 1 hour from start to end. After 1 hour, I was literally on cloud nine seeing how my egg tarts came out from the oven resembling those that I ate in Singapore. I thought it would be difficult and I never imagined it was so easy to make them. What's more, you don't need a cake-mixer, only a hand whisk and a sieve (plus an oven and some muffin cups of course).  


I made 9 Portuguese Egg Tarts in total and 7 of them were gobbled up between husband and wife as dessert after dinner, only 2 were left for the next day. Nevermind that the egg tarts should have been made using puff pastry (pâte feuilletée / bladerdeeg) instead of shortcrust pastry (pâte brisée / kruimeldeeg), they still tasted heavenly! Silly me, why did I make the stupid mistake of thinking that shortcrust pastry is puff pastry? :)

Recipe adapted from StoryOfBing

Ingredients
250g of ready-made puff pastry, thawed to room temp (I made the mistake of using shortcrust pastry hence the egg tarts did not puff up as much)
6 large egg yolks at room temp
1/4 cup castor sugar, about 50g
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I am using vanilla essence)
1/2 cup heavy cream, about 120ml (I am using whipping cream with 35% fat)
1/2 cup fresh full cream milk, about 120ml
some melted butter



Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. (As the temperature in my oven has always been very unstable, I specially used an oven thermometer to make sure I achieved the right temperature of 200C. The oven temperature has to be sufficiently hot in order for the pastry to puff up and the egg custard to caramelize.)

2. Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup sugar. Mix well using a hand whisk.

3. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, followed by 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup fresh milk, whisk well until it becomes frothy.

4. Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove lumps and bubbles, so as to achieve a smooth silky mixture. Set aside the egg custard mixture.

5. In the mean time, the puff pastry should have been thawed to room temperature. Cut it equally into 6 or 10 equal pieces depending on the number of tarts you want to make. (The puff pastry came in a pack rolled up with a protective sheet so I had to unroll it, remove the protective sheet and roll it up again like a swiss roll, before cutting into 6 or 10 equal pieces.)



6.  Prepare muffin pans or individual muffin tin cups. Grease them well with melted butter. 

7. Take a piece of pastry with the folded layers sitting stacked up (just like the picture of the cut pieces above), press it downwards into the muffin cup making sure that it is covered completely. (Note that you may choose to directly press down and shape the pastry on the muffin cup. Or you can do it my way, take a piece of pastry on one palm, wet it with some melted butter on top, press down with another palm and shape it such that it becomes a round disc big enough for the muffin cup. Then fit it into the muffin cup.)


8. Finally fill each muffin cup with the egg custard mixture until 80% full. 

9. Bake in a preheated oven on the lowest shelf at 200 degrees celsius. Bake for 20 to 25 min if you are making 10 tarts, or 25 to 30 min if you are making 6 tarts. Try not to open the oven while baking and do not cover the tarts with aluminium foil either. Check if the tarts are browned and caramelized on top and if the centre of the egg custard is set. If the egg custard still appears wobbly, let the tarts bake in the oven for longer. (It took me 30 min exactly for baking 9 small tarts which I placed on the middle shelf.)


10. Remove the egg tarts from the oven and allow to cool on a baking rack. To unmould, carefully use a toothpick to loosen the sides of each egg tart and remove it gently. Note that the egg tarts are very fragile. 




I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (HK + Macau - Jan & Feb 2013) hosted by Annie of Annielicious Food.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My 1st Bakes for 2014

I went on a super-crazy baking frenzy on the 2nd day of 2014. I was asked to bake some tea-time treats for a group of 60 kids. Instead of spreading the baking over 2 days, I did it in a single session from 9am to 2pm, 7 cakes baked/cooked/steamed in parallel over 5 hours. Thank god there are such things called a steamer and a rice cooker, otherwise my oven would have exploded! Helped me save loads of time too, not sure about the electricity costs though! 

Still, I was dead tired during and after baking, I had to sit on a chair while whisking the batter with my handheld cake-mixer, in fact I couldn't stand for more than 10 min due to my current body condition. How I wish I could get a KitchenAid or a Kenwood mixer!

Can you guess which cake was baked using which method? If you are interested in knowing the answer, check out the comment on my facebook page. :)

Btw, a new rice cooker cake (a lemon butter cake) was created out of this baking session. It is a old recipe found in my blog, it was a pretty small cake which you just have to cook in the rice cooker for 50 min to 1 hour. Stay tuned and I will upload the lemon butter cake (rice cooker version) soon!

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