Father’s day is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am scrambling to figure out how to celebrate with my dad. My parents hate celebrating mother’s day/father’s day on the actual weekend because restaurants are always super busy and service is generally not as good as normal due to the additional patrons the restaurant has to attend to.
So instead of fighting the crowd, I always have to end up celebrating with them a week in advance. Since I’m busy next weekend, I have to celebrate 2 weeks early. My dad loves it whenever I make him anything from scratch – I guess he appreciates the extra effort and care I put into the dish other than just giving him something material…. Which works for me because this gives me an opportunity to practice my cooking and baking skills.
As part of the full course meal which I planned for him, one of the starting dishes was of course, warm bread 🙂
Since the weather has been getting warmer, we bought a lot of starter plants to build our herb garden. As they continue to grow, I needed an excuse to use them so I can trim them back to increase their yield. I immediately thought of making this Rosemary Garlic Focaccia because I had it in the past and it was delish.
The great thing about focaccia is that it is very versatile – you can add whatever toppings you like.
Prior to allowing the dough go through a second proof, use both hands and dimple the dough with your fingers to evenly spread the dough out and give it its signature dimple appearance. Then, generously season the dough with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I thinly sliced up some garlic and sprinkled it all over the dough, along with some freshly chopped rosemary. Finally, I generously drizzled the dough with some olive oil. The bread cooks best when the herbs are coated in olive oil.
I remember the first time I saw melon pan on cookingwithdog (a japanese cooking channel on youtube), I thought this bread was melon flavoured. Surprisingly, it did not contain any melon at all. I believe it got its name based on the way it looks, similar to how chinese pineapple buns got its name.
I’ve always been curious to try them but was too lazy to make it. I got to try it when I went J-town (Japan town) but instead, I had the matcha version of it in the form of a turtle bread. I thought it looked so adorable that I wanted to try making it myself. A few years later, after a few online tutorials, I finally got around to making this turtle bread.
I actually had to make this recipe twice because I messed up the first time round. I also realized things I could’ve done better.
The first time I made this, I followed the instructions from cookingwithdog to a T. The problem was they used instant yeast in that recipe whereas I had active yeast. I soon learned that you have to activate the active yeast in water first before I could use it whereas with instant yeast, you could just mix it in with your dry ingredients right away. I also failed to dissolve the dry milk powder in warm liquid leaving my dough with a strange grainy texture.
When I made this the second time round, I activated the yeast in warm water. I also dissolved the dry milk powder in there as well to get rid of that grainy texture. The dough was much better the second time round.
After the dough has completed its first proof, I put on the turtle backs. I simply added some matcha powder to the cookie dough recipe to help give its signature green color. Though the original recipe said that I should keep it in the fridge so that it’s easier to handle, I found it easier for them to be a bit warm so that it’s more malleable.
I wrapped the cookie dough around the proofed dough and dipped the turtle shell in sugar.
After coating it with sugar, I scored the turtle shell with its signature diamond pattern using a pastry cutter.
A lot of my baking stems from cravings that I suddenly get or they’re inspired by food I stumble across on the internet. Recently I had a strong urge to make soft pretzels as it didn’t seem difficult to make and I already had all the ingredients. The initial batch of soft pretzels that I made were a hit but I personally found them a bit salty. I also found the dough lacked the softness and flavour needed to take it to the next level. I continued looking for a better soft pretzel recipe and I think I may have found the winner! I combined some of the techniques used in the other pretzel recipes with this one and the result was a golden, soft, and savoury pretzel..
Oh man and these smell AMAZING! I came home after grocery shopping and I could still smell them before entering our apartment. Needless to say, this recipe has been bf approved 🙂
Let’s talk about how to make them:
First, prepare the dough. I think the secret to this soft and flavourful dough is the use of milk instead of water, and the use of brown sugar instead of white. This made a huge difference for me in my opinion. Knead the dough into a smooth ball and allow to rise for an hour until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and allow to rest for 10 minutes so that it’s easier to work with. Divide the dough into even pieces. I divided mine into an assortment of sizes as I was experimenting with the different sizes.
Once done, roll out each piece of dough into a long skinny strand and form them into a pretzel shape as shown below
Thanks to the power of reddit, we discovered a Japanese Condensed Milk Bread recipe. Being the baker in the relationship, I took a look at the ingredients and it looked fairly simple so I decided to give it a go since I already have everything (minus the almonds which I can do without). The overall process was quite simple though as with all bread recipes, it’s time consuming. However, the time it took for the dough to proof allowed me to make other things like my fudgey, cakey brownies 🙂 More on that later.
This bread was soft and had a nice sweetness to it from the condensed milk.
Best of all, the presentation looked great! The original recipe asked for this to be baked in an angel cake pan but seeing as I didn’t have one, I improvised with a loaf pan instead.
Want to know how it’s made? Here’s how:
Prepare your bread dough. Knead it into a smooth ball and allow it to rise for 30 mins or until it doubles in size.
While the dough is proofing, prepare your condensed milk filling. This is just a simple combination of softened butter and condensed milk. Mix together until it forms a paste.