My journey to making my own Sourdough Bread from scratch was a painful one. It took me 7 days just to prepare my Sourdough starter and another 2 days just to make the bread but it was all worth it to see the end result 🙂 (be prepared to dedicate a whole day to making this…)
The first time I attempted this, my dough didn’t rise at all during the proofing period and the result was a super dense bread with barely any air pockets. I think the problem was that I over hydrated the dough (against my instinct) and the levain wasn’t fully ready yet.
Here’s what I did differently this time round. First, I made sure to feed my starter at least twice a day for 2 days prior to baking to make sure my starter was nice and strong. Then, I prepared my Levain (another term used for sourdough starter):
8am – Prepare the Levain:
45g unbleached all purpose flour
45g bread flour
90g warm water (90F)
I followed Joshua Weissman‘s recipe on Youtube for this recipe. Mix everything together in a jar with a loosely fitted lid and allow to ferment for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size. I kept my Levain in my oven with the light turned on which simulated an ideal proofing environment of ~75F. Meanwhile, prepare your Autolyse. This is a stage in bread making where where you hydrate the flour with water and allow to rest to help with gluten development which will ultimately lend to a better rise in the bread.
11am – Autolyse
273g bread flour
500g unbleached all purpose flour
175g whole wheat bread flour
660g warm water (90F)
Once my Levain doubled in size or has tons of bubbles (see photo below), this indicates that it is ready because my starter culture is producing lots of gas.
As a continuation from our Valentine’s Day dinner post, one of the dishes I made for our appetizers was Bacon Parmesan Gougere. The easiest way to describe a Gougere is a cheese puff. The more technical way of explaining a Gougere is a choux pastry (used to make eclairs, cream puffs etc) made with cheese. They’re typically served as an hors d’oeuvres or it can be served along side soup like a biscuit or a bread.
While I was looking at different French cookbooks to come up with other dishes to accompany our French meal, this recipe came up a few time and it’s hard to turn down a recipe with bacon in it.
This recipe was fairly easy to make. First, I had to make the choux pastry dough by heating up the milk and butter in a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bringing it to a simmer. Then, I added the flour and pinch of salt to the mixture and mixed vigourously until it formed a smooth dough and the mixture no longer sticks to the side of the pan. When done, transfer the dough into a mixing bowl and press it out to the sides of the bowl to help the dough cool down faster. Allow to chill for a few minutes until it is warm to the touch (approximately 5 mins).
Several years ago, I stumbled upon and mastered the Apple Crisp recipe which has been my go to dessert. Most people I’ve made this for actually prefer this over Apple Pie and best of all, I feel that there’s less prep work with Apple Crisp as I don’t need to make the pie crust ahead of time.
I’ve since adapted that recipe with other fillings. We bought a bunch of blueberries the other week and since we couldn’t finish them all in time, we decided to make a Blueberry Crisp before they go bad.
To start, combine your pint of blueberries with 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Add the zest of half a lemon and 1 tbsp of flour. Toss to coat the blueberries evenly.
Meanwhile – make the crumble topping. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, rolled oats, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cold butter and with a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the dry mixture until the mixture looks like cornmeal and the butter is cut into really fine pieces and fully integrated with the dry mixture.
Almost 3 hours later.. I finally finished making this Apple Tart recipe from Cedric Grolet.
About a year ago, the hubs got me a cookbook from Cedric Grolet. I’ve never heard of him until I got his cookbook but upon looking at some of his recipes, it appears he is a French pastry chef specializing in fruits.
Sadly, this was he easiest recipe I could find in the book that I dared attempt and the preparation process still took forever 🙁 Luckily I cleared my schedule today to do this!
Nothing says Fall is here than Pumpkins! It’s that time of year again and pumpkins are everywhere – whether it be for Halloween or in the form of Pumpkin Spiced flavored food and drinks. My favourite pumpkin dish would have to be Pumpkin Pie. It’s kind of sad because a lot of people I know don’t actually like Pumpkin pie and as a result, I rarely get to eat any of it 🙁
So what I like to do is make mini pumpkin pies (or tarts) so that it’s bite size to allow for portion control.
I like to make a batch of pre-made pie crust and pumpkin pie filling and just freeze them (already portioned) so that whenever I’m craving pies, I can just easily assemble them. In this case, I can easily assemble these pumpkin tarts! The filling is very easy to make and I like to re-use my pie tart recipe that I’ve used in other recipes like my Apple Hand Pies.
For the filling, all you need is a can of pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, and a can of sweetened condensed milk.
For the pumpkin puree, I cooked it over the stove for a bit along with the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt) to help the flavors meld a bit better and to get rid of the “canned” taste.
I set it aside and let it cool. Once cooled, I combine it with the condensed milk and eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined.
I have not made macarons in YEARS!! So much so that the almond flour that I bought in bulk a year ago when it was on sale at bulk barn has gone stale and started smelling weird 🙁
I have been inspired to make macarons again this past weekend given I had spare time since I had no access to a car and was essentially house bound. I knew one of the items I’ve been struggling to succeed with is making macarons. They just never turn out right! They either look super flat because they spread too much, or they brown on top, or they stick to the tray and falls apart when I try to take them off. I made 3 batches this past weekend and only the last one was mildly successful. I decided to make matcha macarons since I had lots of matcha powder lying around and saves me from using food coloring
The results were meh. During my last batch, my shells did not spread so they kept their shape (thank goodness) but upon baking, I had a few burst on me and some were even lopsided.
Based on the several trials that I did, here’s what I learned based on the mistakes I made:
It’s better to slightly undermix than overmix because once the batter is overmixed, it gets really runny and you can’t control it from flowing out of your piping bag and spreading everywhere.
Stop folding the meringue into the mixture once you can start forming short ribbons with the batter that slowly sinks back in over time. It should look like thick goop and not have the consistency of runny cake batter.
Pipe macarons perpendicular to the cookie sheet (90 degrees). In other words, the piping bag should be straight and not at an angle. This will ensure a more even shape when it rises.
It’s better to bake the macarons at a lower temperature than at a higher temperature. Unless you really know your oven, try it on a slightly lower temperature setting. The recipe asks for 300F but realistically I should’ve done 275F because some of my macarons ended up bursting.
To this point, I have yet to master the macaron recipe but I feel like I’m getting closer. Mind you ingredients for macaron is not cheap – I bought a bunch of almond flour that’s probably only good for 2-3 batches and it ran me $15!! Luckily, although I did not achieve the perfect “Macaron shape”, at least the texture and taste was still good. It was slightly chewy and the shells weren’t hollow, yay!
So until next time… I have a bunch of macarons to give away now haha. See the recipe I used below – this is the Italian meringue method opposed to the French. Supposedly the Italian method tends to yield more consistent results so I may continue this route going forward.
60 grams egg whites (about 2 large eggs), room temperature
1 teaspoon matcha powder
180 grams white granulated sugar
45 grams water
60 grams egg whites (about 2 large eggs), room temperature
White Chocolate Ganache
1 cup white chocolate wafers/chips
5 tbsp whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300F. Make the almond flour paste by sifting together almond flour, icing sugar, and matcha powder. This ensures a smooth paste so the shells won't appear lumpy. Then, mix in the egg white until it is thoroughly combined. It will form a thick paste - kind of like dough like consistency. Cover with plastic wrap so it doesn't get dry.
Then, add water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Do not stir! Allow it to come up to a boil and with a digital or candy thermometer, wait until it comes to 220F.
In the meantime, put the remaining egg whites in a clean, stainless steel bowl and prep it in the stand mixer. Once the sugar syrup reaches 220F, start whisking the egg whites until it is very foamy. When the syrup reaches 240F, turn the stand mixer to a slower speed and immediately take the sugar syrup off the heat and pour it into your egg whites. Once the syrup starts to hit the egg whites, you can crank the stand mixer to high speed and continue whisking until the sides of the bowl cools and the meringue reaches stiff peak. It should be smooth and glossy, kind of like shaving cream.
Take 1/3 of the meringue mixture and whisk it into the almond paste. Then, add in the remaining meringue mixture and fold to combine. Continue folding until there are no more dry lumps. When you life the spatula and you can form small ribbons with the batter and you see it sink right back in, it's ready. Do not overmix! Batter should not be runny but more like thick goop.
Put batter into a large piping bag with large round piping tip and pipe onto a parchment paper at 90 degrees from the baking sheet. In other words, pipe straight down and when you achieve the desired size, doing a quick flick to minimize the pointy tip of the cookie.
Once fully piped, allow to dry until a "skin" is formed. When the shells look matte, gently touch the shells and if they don't stick to your finger, it's ready to go in the oven.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the shells look hardened and firm to the touch. Allow to cool.
In the meantime, prepare the white chocolate ganache. Bring whipping cream and vanilla extra to a simmer and pour over the white chocolate wafers/chips. Stir continuously until all chocolate has been melted. Allow to cool so that it thickens to a piping consistency. You may put this in the fridge to speed up the process but don't forget about it or it will harden all the way!
Once ganache is ready, put it into a piping bag and pipe onto the macaron cookies. Squish and repeat until done. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to maximize freshness 🙂
It has been a while since our last blog post. A lot has happened since then – we got engaged, we went on vacation for 2 weeks to Italy and Greece, and I got a new job!
I think that’s a good reason as to why we’ve been MIA, right?
Anyways, we are back and this time, with a classic Chinese pastry dish – egg tart! This is a very popular item that can typically be ordered at dim sum restaurants or bought at local chinese bakeries. They usually come in two types of crust – puff pastry or cookie crust. I personally prefer the cookie crust but my SO prefers the puff pastry kind.
Given I’m pretty lazy and making puff pastry from scratch is a lot of work (and requires A LOT of butter), I decided to cheat and buy the pre-made stuff (I know – blasphemy!) These frozen tart shells make making egg tarts so much easier. The custard itself is super easy and you can probably make this within 5 minutes. If you’re unsure what treat to bring to your friend’s dinner or potluck and you’re short on time, you can easily gravitate toward this recipe.
To make these egg tarts, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, water, and salt into a bowl until thoroughly combined. You may have some residual egg whites not fully integrated into your custard mixture – to ensure a smooth batter, be sure to strain the custard mixture into a separate bowl to ensure a smoother custard texture. I like to strain my mixture into a measuring cup because it makes pouring into the tart shells much easier.
Fill them up to the brim and bake them at 365F for approximately 20 minutes.
This has got to be the easiest dish to make. Every time I see someone make rose anything, I worry that it’ll be super intricate and difficult. If you’ve ever tried to learn how to make rose origami, you’d understand. Luckily, this was really easy – I’m pretty sure a 6 year old can do it.
I saw this recipe on Youtube by Chef John. I love this guy – he’s hilarious and his recipes are usually pretty spot on. The great thing about this is that you can easily WOW people with this because they will probably be thinking “Wow you made that? It looks impressive!” when really you’re thinking to yourself “I made that in 5 minutes”. So if you’re bored of your traditional apple pastries, try this!
All you need is some puff pastry (I bought mine pre-made) and some red apples (I used Fuji apples). That’s more or less it!