Monday, December 22, 2014

TBB: Coffee Almond Crisp

Not sure if my cookies turned out right or not cos they looked a bit strange...  They tasted crips and full of coffee flavor but somehow they didn't turned out like what i thought they would. Mine end up being quite flat round!

My ground almonds... i toasted half of the ground almonds..just to add some color. lol!  

I made my dough in food processor and it felt a bit wet, so I had to turn on airconditioning. 

I used a mini cookie scoop to scoop the dough.. exactly 10g each.  So cool!

Then I indent the centre of the dough with my finger (knuckle?). But I really don't understand why I need to do that when the cookies turned out flat after baking?  Maybe i read something wrong here again?  Or maybe something went wrong with mine?! So strange! I was expecting a thumbprint cookie actually so I could dust the powder in the centre. 

 Here are the baked cookies.. some have holes in them.. BUT i really made sure that all the butter are incorporated and there are no butter pieces!  However, that said, i like the ones with holes better cos they are crunchier.. LOL!   The photo below looked upside down?  *shrugs*

Here are my cookies under daylight. 

Verdict:  Taste just like the name for these cookies!  Very yummy and addictive. But I am really not sure if I got them right or not? Some has holes but they taste crunchier & caramalized and I like them better with holes! When baking, my cookies puffed up and then down when I open the oven door and no chance for me to press on the cookies to see if ready. Also the coffee powder doesn't stick to the cookies. Maybe I over-baked them?   I have to wait for our fellow bakers to post their photos to see if I got mine all wrong.  :p  

Monday, December 15, 2014

TBB: The Ischler

I like making cookies and eating cookies.  Except when it comes to rolled cookies, I tend to procrastinate a lot because of the waiting time. And because I have to wait for the dough to harden up in the fridge, I always forget about the dough...and usually the dough would end up resting in my fridge for a long time.

I know I'm not supposed to grind whole raw almonds mentioned in the book. But... I did it anyway!  I put the whole raw almonds (because I can't find sliced raw almonds..usually blanched ones here) into my mini-grinder and blitz them away.. and they turned out very fine and I added a bit of icing sugar to absorb the oil in case it turns oily...

The almonds all processed till fine.  Looked good to me! :D  

Then I transferred the ground almonds into my huge food processor and continued with the instructions on the recipe.  Add butter, flour etc. 

Dough is formed and feeling a bit wet. 
Cut the huge dough into quarters and wrapped in cling wrapped into the fridge. 

I was supposed to finished up the recipe that day..but as usual, while waiting for the dough to firm up in the fridge, I completely forgotten about it..till a week later..LOL!  

So after the dough rested 1 week in my fridge.. I finally took it out to roll them out and bake them.

You like my chinese frying ladle?  It is very versatile, can also be used as a cookie! 

Making ganache.  Ok..i went the lazy way. I just put the cream into the chocolate and microwave together. It's very hard to heat up 56g of cream in one more item to wash later. So i put them together and microwave.  :) worked..! As long as it works, I guess no harm right? LOL!  

See how smooth my ganache turned out?  Oh ya..the left over Lekvar in bottle from way back when I first made them during HCB bake-through (1 or 2 years ago?.. don't judge me.. it can keep indefinitely!) 

Finally!!!   I sandwich most of the cookies with chocolate ganache and 6 of them with the apricot lekvar. That's because I thought the cookies will absorb the moisture from the lekvar making it soft. Over here where it is always humid, cookies/crackers/toast/etc turn soft easily if not kept in airtight containers. Thus we like our cookies crisp and crunchy and often associate soft cookies as stale. 

However, over the years, I have also learned to like soft cookies too.  :)  Changed my mindset that soft cookies = stale cookies. 

Because I was running out of time, I brought some cookies to office to take photos.  Day light makes the photos very pretty. Usually, I take my photos at night so always end up dull and full of shadow. 

Oh ya, I just found out that I was supposed to fill the cookies with half ganache and half lekvar??! Really? I did not remember reading that part! That's why I filled them up separately! LOL!  Oh well, nevermind.  Next time.  

Verdict: As I have predicted the cookies sandwiched with chocolate ganache stayed crisp and the ones with lekvar turned really soft.  I like the ones with chocolate ganache better. I also like that these cookies are not-too-sweet.. (see i said it again!! not too sweet!..LOL!).  The sweetness level is just right!  Loving the almond speckle on the cookies, I think the speckles make the cookies look very pretty on its own. 

I got my office colleagues to try and they liked the ones with chocolate ganache better too.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

TBB: English Dried Fruit Cake

I love fruitcakes! I adore Rose's fruit cake recipe in HCB and bake them every Christmas without fail..and I will bake enough that will last till Chinese New Year. :D

This is equally amazing! I love the fresh apple crunchy texture...

I used a mixture of dried apricot, mango, pineapple and papaya.  I used more local dried fruits because they are cheaper.. LOL!   The combination worked extremely well with the apples. 

Did you notice the zester? It's Rose's ZestN'est Zester!  It's so easy to use and I love how neat it is, i.e., all the zest collected together. And it's very ergonomic designed..I can hold it easily and zest the entire orange/lemon easily! One of my kitchen must have.  :)   

Cooking the sugar and butter first. 

Then add the chopped up apples..I used Pink Lady apples.  I think this is my first time trying out Pink Lady apples. Normally I buy Fuji apples. (Actually I've never really bother what the names of the apples are as long as they are crispy and hard! I hate soft, powdery apples...they are only for babies when you need to scrape the apples with spoon to feed them...hmmm..ok...this statement applies till one day I get old and no longer can eat crunchy!)  

Anyway, my point is, next time I'll use Pink Lady apples for baking, I like how it is firm and has a slight tartness to it..yet not as tart as Green apples.  

So easy to make! And add the flour & pecan nuts into the apple mixture and it's all done! 

I've never liked pecan nuts because I thought they tasted rancid. But I was totally WRONG!  What I had been buying are lousy pecans..or spoilt ones..maybe due to the heat! Just recently I purchased a pack of organic Pecan nuts that cos $11+ per 150g ( expensive!!)...but the nuts were so GOOD and tasted Fresh!..No rancid taste at all!  

And this cake is a rum absorber. I doubled up the rum and still the cake didn't taste too rummy.  
I think can add more rum next time when I make it again.  When I was drowning my cake with rum, I remembered Rose said in her book that her dad likes to pour a lot of rum onto the cake too! 

This is amazing cake!! It's a really refreshing take on traditional fruit cake. I love the fresh apple texture - which the nuts and dried fruits compliment the apple flavor and the rum takes it one notch further.   SOO GOOD!  We all couldn't get enough of it.  I gave half of the cake to a friend and he also said it was moist, great flavor and not too sweet

This phrase "Not too sweet" is a huge compliment here!  Means your dessert is good and has right sweetness level!  Often you'll get to hear these comments:- "not too sweet" as compliment and "too sweet" as a disapproval..  

We, Singaporeans known for being health conscious..... examples:-

1)  food coloring, is a no-no (rainbow'll get comments like " much artificial food colouring will get cancer or not?" ... ) 
2)  too sweet - is also a no-no (you'll get comments like "too sweet will get diabetes"..and for children.."bad for teeth"...), 
3) savoury food too salty..(you'll get comments like "so salty, later get high blood pressure"...) 
4) too buttery/too many eggs - you might get comments like "so rich, will get high cholesterol"...)    LOL!

So now, when I give desserts away, I have to be sure that I give to my friends who really like & enjoy desserts,  that way, I don't put unnecessary pressure on those who doesn't want dessert.....!  :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

TBB: Kouigns Amann

I avoided making this recipe during the beta testing cos I was simply afraid of making laminated pastry..esp. in our hot weather here in Singapore.  But this had to be the first recipe scheduled for our new baking group, Rose's Alpha Bakers. So I guess this is the push factor for me try making it at least once right? 
When I finally had the courage to make it, I found out my hi-protein bread flour had expired..and the entire bag had to throw it away. But I had a package of Japanese bread flour (which makes the softest bread ever)..and I figured no harm using it since on the packaging it has a drawing of a!

- I followed instructions to the tee. Everything seemed ok until the step where I poured the superfine sugar onto countertop and rolled my dough and after place in the freezer/fridge

- to my dismay, after an hour later, my dough turned into a syrupy mess..the sugar melted and there was syrupy liquid leaking from the dough...probably due to the moisture it absorbed from condensation...

Even so, I carried on with final step, rolled the dough on the countertop with sugar..and baked as instructed.  During the last step, as I was rolling the dough, it was clear that my butter wasn't rolled properly..and must have had breakage or something I didn't do right cos there was uneven bits and pieces of butter all over the dough. You can see the butter pieces on the photo above..quite obvious. 

 Nonetheless, I proceeded with cutting, shaping and baking.

While the Kouigns Amanns were baking, there were lots of oil seepage...A LOT.. so much so my tray had a puddle of oil/butter (I forgot to take picture!).  The baked Amanns looked ok and tasted extremely sweet and oily, and I really didn't like it at all. But everyone else in my family thought it tasted great.

I wasn't happy with earlier result..because it didn't look or taste like the usual Kouigns Amanns should look like..but wasn't sure I would try making again. It didn't look dark and caramelised totally, neither had very flaky top that you would expect in laminated pastry. Interior was super soft..maybe too soft..? I think the Japanese bread flour probably better for making Asian breads...(cos we prefer our bread loaves/buns very very soft and

(If you fail, try again, you won't die from it! ..that's what my hubby always say...!)

Yup, that's what I did.  2-days later, I happened to be in another supermarket and saw King Arthur's bread flour and I thought, maybe I should give it a go again. I bought the recommended Kerry Gold Irish butter (I wanted to use Lurpark actually..about same price..)..and this time I bought salted butter instead!  

Also, I made the following changes:-

1)   put the dough in the fridge after proofing for 1 hour.  Cold dough is easier to roll with butter (that's what I think..may not be true..!)

2)   pound the salted butter with about 1/4 cup of flour

3)  added the fine (not superfine) sugar in the dough while turning, thus I made an extra turn. (So much easier to handle and no syrupy mess!)  only towards the last step, I had some sugar on the counter top when I rolled my was less messy also.. 

4)  rolled the dough into 24" x 8" long and cut the dough into 12 x 4" pcs.  I baked them in 3.2" pastry rings.  I like them smaller..cos more crunchy surface area imho.  Perhaps next time (if my backside itchy and want to make again...hahaha), I'll try 24" x 6" / 12" x 12" and cut them into 3" square each, yielding 16pcs.  

My hands look quite nice here isn't it? hahaha..

Above photos: All finished shaping and left to proof for an hour.  
I like how I can see so many layers of dough.. 

This time, the dough baked and caramelised beautifully.  I liked how the pastry puffed up really tall during baking.  There wasn't much butter leakage either. Not as oily as my earlier batch and somehow also tasted less sweet even though I used same amount of sugar or maybe more since I sprinkled extra for the counter top...(still very sweet for our Asian tastebuds, but just not as sweet as before).

Above photos: I couldn't wait for it to cool down and cut them into 2.

The top was so flakey and crispy..and bottom hardened with caramelised sugar.  Inside was full of layers, soft, butter and sugary.   This time my family could tell the difference and everyone gave the thumbs up.  And I'm happy cos now they looked like those sold at the bakeries..:)  

P/S: I turned on the air-conditioner to 20c for entire day! I had to work quickly too cos it was too cold to be in the kitchen. LOL! Now I realised why the pastry kitchen where I work is always super cold..the air-condition in our office is cold but no where compared to the pastry kitchen!    

I still have 2 more in the freezer for the souffle version, but I have not made it yet. Will update later when I do...  The reason why I'm delaying here is because I think these alone are very fattening..and to make it with heavy cream and all, I need to take a break first and exercise off the calories before I proceed to the souffle variation. LOL!   :)


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