65C Tangzhong (汤种) Bread

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I’ve been very intrigued by Asian baking techniques lately. After reading about and eyeing homemade Tangzhong bread from bloggers, I decided to give it a try this weekend.

The Tangzhong method is a water roux that produces soft and fluffy bread. I had made two type of bread to use up the roux I had made.

The first bread was an oatmeal whole wheat bread which I had adapted from Do What I Like. The results were indeed was soft and crumbly bread as fellow bloggers had described but perhaps could be softer and fluffier if I had kneaded the dough twice. Image

The second type of bread was a chocolate sweet bread also adapted from Do What I Like. I ran out of time when making this bread so I cheated a bit by not letting the bread proof to its full capacity before baking. The chocolate portion was fluffy but the sweet bread in the middle came out denser than it should. I will definitely be trying the Tangzhong method again, following the steps with more care and precision

Here is the basic recipe I had used for both breads:

Tangzhong:

250ml water

50g all-purpose flour

Ingredients:
250 g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp skim milk powder (optional)
80 g TangZhong
105 ml temperate water
1tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1tsp dry yeast
2 tbsp oil

Please check out Do What I LikeChristine’s Recipes, or Tastespotting for more information and instructions about baking using the Tangzhong method.

 

Growing Up

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For my birthday,

I don’t need presents,

and please, no fancy parties.

ImageI DO want a cake, preferably homemade,

preferably with love by my mom,

and I DO want acknowledgment from my family that it’s my birthday.

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This year,

I had expected my grandmother to call me on THE day, asking to come over to celebrate my birthday with me.

The morning of THE day, the phone stayed silent.

By late afternoon of THE day, the phone remained silent.

My heart sunk.

My grandmother had forgotten my birthday.

I used to not care if she had forgotten.

But this year it DID matter because our relationship had improved significantly.

She meant more to me than I had realized.

I was hoping she shared that same feeling. I was hoping she would call me to wish me happy birthday.

I tried to brush aside my disappointment but the feeling lingered inside me.

After a few days, I finally got the courage to call her.

We chatted a bit. Then came the moment of truth.

I asked my grandmother if she remembered when was my birthday.

She responded with the correct date.

She said that she had waited all day on THE day for us to call her, to invite her over. She had my present all ready to go.

We never called.

I told her I was waiting for HER to call US.

She never called.

This is an example of how misunderstandings arise.

ImageCheers to growing up. Cheers to being another year older, another year wiser.

Foodbuzz 24×24: Yeasted

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Today was an all-day feast thanks to Foodbuzz 24×24.

Let’s start with breakfast.

Yeasted Vanilla Meringue Cake.

I dreamt up the concept in my head.

Luckily, when Foodbuzz accepted my 24×24 proposal, I didn’t have to completely dream up the recipe either.Image

THANK YOU Daring Bakers!

MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter. I had adapted and halved the recipe below.
 
Ingredients
  • For the yeast coffee cake dough:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dried yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For the filling:

  • 1 cup nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg

Instructions
Prepare the dough:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add the wet ingredients.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
Prepare your filling:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the  filling. 

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

  1. In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
  1. Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).
  3. Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal
  4. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
  5. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
  6. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  8. Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
  9. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
  10. Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

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Heck. Yes.

This brioche like cake was soft, lightly sweetened and loved by not only my family but also our spontaneous visitors.

And after we stuffed ourselves silly with cake, we played around while waiting for lunch.

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Clearly Ikea is the place for play.

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But after all the fun and games with the furniture, we got hungry.

Time for lunch!

Using Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana Pizza Dough recipe, I had made two pizzas. One with white whole wheat flour topped with broccoli, sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions.

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The other is made with all-purpose flour topped with Chinese Cha Siu (BBQ pork), corn, caramelized onions, and avocados.

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I didn’t try the one made with all-purpose flour because it had meat in it but my family told me that after trying both kinds, they actually preferred the one with the BBQ pork. They liked that the dough was a bit thinner on the second pizza, and not so much taste like thick bread.

Finally–as if we were not already all carbed out for the day, we made scallion and brown sugar Chinese pancakes for dinner.

My aunt is the pro when it comes to thin, crispy, flaky pancakes, so I let her take the lead on this.

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Scallion Pancakes.
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Brown Sugar Pancakes.

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All in all, this has been a great day and a great start to a Memorial Day weekend. I must admit that all this yeasting and carb loading has drained the energy out of me and I’ve never been more ready to head straight for bed as I am right now.

Thank you so much Foodbuzz for letting my imagination run wild and helping me turn my imagination into reality. Foodbuzz, you’ve made a lot of people happy and disgustingly full today :)

Talk to Me

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I’m the type of person who needs her alone time everyday.

My alone time usually involves some type of physical activity, whether that means running, yoga, or hiking.

However, this weekend, I rediscovered the wonders of family and friendship.

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Friends.

I forget I don’t always have to keep my problems to myself.

I don’t have to always be the adult.

Thank you, Friends, for relieving some of my stress.

Thank you for making me smile.

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Family.

I’ve always been family-oriented.

Recently, though, I’ve had my iPhone attached to my hip and forgot what quality family time meant.

This past Mother’s Day weekend, I dedicated my time to all the mothers in my family: my mother, grandmother, and two aunts.

I stowed my phone away in my room.

It felt great.

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Face-to-face contact,

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Intimate conversations,

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A spontaneous, silly Yoga session with my aunts,

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and making and enjoying food together.

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Love it.

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Love them.

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Banana Muffins

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Saturday morning.

Today was our monthly community produce exchange. I  scouted around our yard to see what I can bring to the exchange. Everything in our garden was pollenating but no fruits or vegetables appeared yet.

To the side of our yard laid a bunch of lonely lemongrass. A friend had given us a stalk to plant a while back, saying that it was good for sautéing or seeping into teas. That one stalk has bloomed into several stalks now.

Our meals rarely incorporate lemongrass so we tend to ignore it. But also haven’t taken it out of our garden either. I wonder why. Maybe it does so well on its own that we just let it be.

I took the pair of garden scissor and snipped some off some of the stalks. If our family rarely makes use  of it, perhaps someone at the community exchange will.

Maybe then the stalks will feel more loved and valued.

As I went back into the kitchen, I noticed some ripened macho bananas sitting in a fruit basket. My hands twitched. My mind suddenly flashed a picture of freshly baked banana muffins.

So that’s just what I baked. Banana muffins.

So that’s just what I brought to our community exchange. Lemongrass and banana muffins.

BANANA MUFFINS

adapted from Baking Bites

Bake 350 degrees for 18-20 mins.

Muffin

2 Cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 macho bananas, mashed

3 tbsp oil

1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

Mix dry ingredients together. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Fold until well incorporated

Strudel topping

Equal parts brown sugar and flour. Incorporate enough oil to form clumps. Sprinkle onto muffin.

I haven’t seen much daylight for the past two and a half months.

I get up before the sun rises and come home way after the sun sets.

I’ve barricaded myself midst four white walls–no windows (except for the satirical photo of the sunset someone had posted on the wall in front of me)–my eyes glued to the computer screen for more than 10 hours a day.

This new lifestyle is called work. Workaholic? Burnt out work? Feel-like-burnt-toast-right-now work?

You may think I dread work but for the first time, I’m actually enjoy what I do.

At the same time, today was the first time in a while I’ve had the opportunity to stay home and rest.

I went out to look at our garden, and suddenly realized what I’ve missed.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten to look beyond the four white walls. Life is about balance. Where have I been?