Apple, Rosemary, and Honey Challah

Did you know that the plural for challah is challot/challos? Which means the time is ripe to make shallot challot.

But I digress.

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Apple and rosemary is just a winning combination for me. The aroma and savouriness from the rosemary perfectly complements the sweet tartness of the apples. You don’t really taste the honey but I’d like to think that it’s doing something to how good this bread tastes and smells.

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The most difficult part of this recipe was definitely trying to keep the apple pieces in the dough. I was too scared to reintegrate them into the dough but I’d say be brave in the future and do it because I was getting only one piece of apple in a slice of bread.

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And of course you could braid it in a round way, or more like a loaf.

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The secret to the DELECTABLE brown crust of the challah is the double egg wash which is absolutely necessary don’t skip it.

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And the best part about making challah? Making french toast with it the next day. An eggy enriched bread with MORE EGGS? DELICIOUS.

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Also, guess who just figured out how to make gifs using photoshop? Enjoy this video of me fingering my bread.

I got the recipe from here, I just added rosemary, used a different shaping technique, and made some minor changes.

Ingredients (makes 1 challah)

  • 7g instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup (158ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (79ml) plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup (79ml) olive oil, plus more for the bowl (although you could use other neutral oils like vegetable oil, I just like the flavour of olive oil in challah)
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk (+1 large egg for egg wash)
  • 8g (1 1/2tsp) salt
  • 578g bread flour
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut to 1/2-3/4 inch chunks (I used Granny Smith apples, see notes)
  • Lemon juice to keep the apples from browning (optional)
  • About 2tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, water, oil, honey, and 2 large eggs + 1 large yolk. Then add the flour, salt, and chopped rosemary. Knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Coat the dough ball with a little bit of oil, cover, and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).
  3. Turn the dough out onto an oiled surface and roll out (with a lightly oiled rolling pin) into a rectangular shape. Spread 2/3 of the apple chunks over 1/2 of the dough.
  4. Fold the other half of the dough over the apples and press the dough down around them. Spread the remaining apples over half of the folded dough, and fold the other half over the apples, pressing down again. (You should end up with a square-ish lump of dough).
  5. Fold the corners down under the dough ball and form it into a round shape.
  6. Cover and let rise until about doubled in size (about 45 mins).
  7. Divide the dough into 4 pieces (you can weigh the dough if want ~perfect balance~), and roll each piece out into a long log. Shape the challah like this onto baking paper-lined baking sheet.
  8. Beat a large egg until smooth and brush over the challah (egg wash). Let the challah rise for another hour until it looks about doubled and puffy.
  9. Before baking, egg wash the challah again. Bake in a preheated 190°C/375°F oven for 40-45 mins until very brown or when you tap the bottom of the loaf it sounds hollow. If it starts browning too quickly tent a piece of aluminium foil and place over the loaf.
  10. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Notes

  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature.
  • If you’re using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, you might have to activate the yeast first. Warm up the water that was supposed to go into the bread till it’s about body temperature, and then add the yeast into the water. When the mixture is foamy (about 5-10 mins later), the yeast-water is ready to be used. Be careful not to make the water too hot or you’ll kill the yeast.
  • I definitely used a lot less apples than the original recipe writer did (I think I ended up using just under 1 apple). The amount of apples that she had in her pictures looked more like 1 apple to me, and it felt like my dough could not handle any more apples as well. But then again I thought that there wasn’t enough apples in my loaf so I would encourage trying to squeeze as much of the 2 apples into this bread as humanly possible, and poking any apple pieces that fell out back into the dough.
  • The original recipe uses flour to make the dough easier to work with but I’ve always liked working with oil better to prevent drying out the dough.

 

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Everything Bagel Hokkaido Milk Bread

When you want an Everything Bagel but with the fluffiness of Hokkaido milk bread.

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A quick recipe this time! This is basically the same recipe as my previous Hokkaido Milk Bread with Cinnamon Swirl recipe, just scaled down and with the cinnamon swapped out for Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

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Sesame seeds? Good. Minced garlic? Good. Minced onion? GOOOOOD.

The original recipe is from here.

Ingredients (for 9x4x4 inch/23x10x10 cm) loaf pan

Tangzhong

  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 80g water

Bread

  • 224g full fat milk
  • 4g instant yeast
  • 12g honey
  • 16g sugar
  • 328g bread flour
  • 7g sweetened condensed milk
  • 8g salt
  • 32g softened unsalted butter, room temperature
  • About 6tbsp Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning (but add as much as you want lol)

Method

Tangzhong (starter, prepare the night before baking)

  1. Place the whole wheat flour in a large bowl.
  2. Boil some water, and pour 100g of the water into the bowl.
  3. Mix with a large spoon until well mixed. When cool enough to touch, knead the tangzhong well until all the flour is well incorporated and the dough ball is smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bread

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, yeast, honey, sugar, bread flour, sweetened condensed milk, and tangzhong. Knead well until smooth.
  2. Add the salt and about 3tbsp of the Everything Bagel Seasoning. Knead until the salt and seasoning is well incorporated.
  3. Add the softened butter and knead until the bread reaches windowpane stage.
  4. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, knock down the dough and reform it into a ball. Leave to rise again for about 30 mins, or until the dough has risen slightly in size.
  6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces (using a weighing scale could help). Form each piece into a ball, cover, and let rise for another 15-20 mins or until the balls have slightly increased in size.
  7. Roll each ball out into a rectangle about the width of your pan. Roll up the rectangle from the short end, and place the rolled-up dough into one side of an oiled pan.
  8. Repeat step 7 with the rest of the dough balls until the pan is filled with a single layer of rolled-up dough. Sprinkle the remaining 3tbsp of Everything Bagel Seasoning over the top.
  9. Cover the pan and let rise. If you’re planning on keeping the bread a square shape, let it rise until the dough is about 85% the height of the pan. If you’re planning on the bread to have a domed top, let the dough rise to about 90% the height of the pan.
  10. Bake in a preheated 390°F/200°C oven and bake for about 30 mins or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap on the top of the bread. 
  11. When the bread is done, remove immediately from bread pan and let cool on drying rack. Let the bread cool completely before cutting.

Notes

  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature.
  • If you’re using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, you might have to activate the yeast first. Warm up the milk that was supposed to go into the bread till it’s about body temperature, and then add the yeast into the milk. When the mixture is foamy (about 5-10 mins later), add the yeast-milk back into the bread at the step where the milk is supposed to be added.
  • Kneading the butter into the dough after it’s already been formed helps with the structure of the bread, since butter inhibits gluten formation (apparently).
  • Letting the tangzhong sit overnight is technically optional, but it gives a much better flavour if you allow the tangzhong to rest.
  • If you don’t have access to a nearby Trader Joe’s, you could try making the Everything Bagel seasoning blend

Choux au Craquelin with Matcha Namelaka (Green Tea Cream Puffs)

Or how to make something sound as pretentious as possible.

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So choux au craquelin is basically a cream puff with a crunchy, crumbly sweet biscuit layer baked on top of it.

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It’s kind of similar in concept to Japan’s melon pan, or Hong Kong’s bo lo bao.

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But to me the real star of this confection is the filling – namelaka.

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Japanese for “smooth”, it tastes like a cross between a ganache and pastry cream which combines the best elements of alternative fillings. It has the silkiness of chocolate, the lightness of whipped cream, the structural integrity of creme patissiere. It can be easily impregnated with a variety of flavours. If you adjust the gelatine amount, you can get it to a more pipeable consistency. And it can do all of the above without falling into the downfall of many desserts – being too sweet.

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I got the recipe for the choux from Dorie Greenspan, but changed the proportions because I definitely ended up with too little choux pastry for the amount of craquelin I had, and reworded some steps. The base for the namelaka is from here, although I adjusted it for white chocolate.

And of course, I made everything matcha flavoured.

Ingredients (makes about 18 puffs)

Matcha white chocolate namelaka

  • 300g whole milk
  • 15g corn syrup
  • 8g gelatine
  • 63g water
  • 578g white chocolate
  • 600g whipping cream
  • 2 heaped tsp matcha powder (to taste)

Choux pastry

  • 180g whole milk (3/4 cup)
  • 180g water (3/4 cup)
  • 170g butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 205g all purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 large egg whites (about 60g)

Matcha Craquelin

  • 64g cool unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (4 1/2 tbsp)
  • 100g brown sugar (1/2 cup lightly packed)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 82g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp matcha powder

Methods

Matcha white chocolate namelaka (the night before)

  1. Bloom the gelatine by adding the gelatine to 63g of water in a bowl and leaving it aside.
  2. Break the white chocolate into small pieces and melt in a microwave in 10s bursts, stirring well between each burst. When the white chocolate starts to melt, decrease the length of each burst (white chocolate seizes abruptly so err on the side of caution). Alternatively you could melt the white chocolate over a double boiler but I always found microwaving chocolate to be way easier.
  3. Add the corn syrup to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Stir in the matcha powder (it is fine if the matcha powder clumps at this point as we’ll be blending the whole mixture later).
  4. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Add in the bloomed gelatine and swirl the pan until the gelatine is fully incorporated.
  5. Pour the milk mixture over the melted chocolate in small additions, stirring to combine well after each addition. Combining the milk with the chocolate slowly and well is essential in making sure the texture is right.
  6. Heat up the whipping cream in a microwave until it is room temperature and add it into the mixture in two additions, stirring to fully incorporate after each addition.
  7. Using a stick blender, process the mixture until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate overnight to let set.

Craquelin

  1. In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients together until you get moist crumbs.
  2. Scrape the dough out onto your working surface and press into a ball.
  3. Roll out the dough between two pieces of baking paper until it is about 1/8-1/16 inch thick.
  4. Freeze the dough for about 30 mins or until it is easier to work with.
  5. Cut into 2 inch diameter rounds (using whatever you have in the house I used some measuring cups).
  6. Freeze the rounds until needed.

Choux pastry

  1. Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and then add all the flour at once.
  3. Beat the mixture very well with a wooden spoon until it leaves a film at the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking and stirring nonstop for another 3 minutes to dry but not colour it. At this point the ball should start picking up the dough from the bottom of the pan so there is less of the film.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat and continue to stir the mixture until it has cooled down enough that you can touch the saucepan with your hands/it’s not hot enough to scramble eggs.
  5. Beat the eggs and egg whites together in a bowl and add the egg mixture to the dough in 3 additions, beating the dough well between each addition. The mixture might look wrong at first but just keep beating until a smooth, satiny dough forms. You know the dough has hit the right hydration when you drop the dough from the spoon and it forms a triangle shape.
  6. Scoop the choux dough into a piping bag and pipe puffs just under 2 inches in diameter onto some baking paper, aiming for a tall puff. Leave 2 inches between each puff.
  7. When ready to bake, place a frozen disc of craquelin dough on top of each choux puff.
  8. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-35 mins, rotating the baking sheets after 20-25 mins if one side starts to brown faster than the other. The choux is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow, and it looks golden brown.
  9. Transfer the choux to cooling racks, and place back in the switched off oven with the oven door ajar to dry the choux out further. Cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  1. Take the namelaka out of the fridge and stir well to homogenise. If it seems chunky, place in a food processor and pulse briefly to soften up (I didn’t need to do this).
  2. Place the namelaka into a piping bag.
  3. Take a choux and make a small hole in the bottom of the choux with a chopstick.
  4. Place the tip of the piping bag into the hole and fill the choux well with namelaka, making sure to rotate the choux so you fill all sides of the choux.
  5. (Optional) Cut out a small piece of baking paper and place at the bottom of the choux, covering the hole you used to pipe the namelaka, so the cream doesn’t come back out/smear all over the place.

Notes

  • This is best served immediately for optimal crispness of the choux, but I refrigerated the choux and they still tasted good the next day.
  • If you’re planning on using milk chocolate (like the original recipe) or dark chocolate for the namelaka, you’re going to want to add less chocolate with higher cocoa solid content. So add less if you using dark chocolate, add more if using white chocolate. This was a table in the comments section for another namelaka recipe, but I can’t for the life of me figure out the number pattern to adjust it to the recipe I’m using, so use it as a general guide.

70% 250g
65% 265g
55% 285g
40% 350g
33% 390g

Korean Street Egg Bread (Gyeran-ppang)

Ideally eaten off the streets of Korea, but this is the next best thing.

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Street food vendors all over Korea sell these fluffy snacks. They’re especially enticing in the winter, with its delicately sweet aroma and the bread’s steam dancing in the air, before you scald your tongue stuffing the bread down your throat.

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Usually the egg bread comes in a very specific shape, but I wanted to use what was in my kitchen so I used a muffin tin, which is what a lot of people on the Internet seem to use as well. And yes, there is a whole egg in there, so I’d recommend using the smallest egg you can find so it’s still bread-with-egg and not egg-with-bread.

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I just really love this snack. It combines the mild sweetness of its pancake-like batter with the savouriness from the egg, and the bread itself is so fluffy. It also smells amazing, so I ate 3 of them in 3 minutes and felt really sick afterwards.

I got the recipe from Maangchi, my go-to for anything Korean.

Ingredients (makes 4 muffin-sized Egg Bread)

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (14g)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (37g)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all purpose flour (62g)
  • ½ cup milk (237g)
  • 1 large egg + 4 small eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil (to oil the muffin tin)
  • Mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla, flour, milk, and the large egg. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Using a pastry brush, oil the muffin tin.
  3. Fill each muffin tin until each cavity is just under half full.
  4. Add pieces of mozzarella cheese into each cavity (don’t go too crazy or your bread may lose its structural integrity/be too full. I used about 3 pieces 1cm cubed for each bread).
  5. Crack a small egg into each cavity.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 15 mins (or 13 mins if you want your yolk to be slightly underdone).
  7. Take out of the oven and run a knife around the edges of the bread to loosen it from the mould.
  8. Serve hot.

Notes

  • This batter does rise quite a bit so be careful not to overfill the tin.
  • You could use the pieces of mozzarella cheese to center the egg by placing the mozzarella cheese sort of near the edges and cracking the egg in the middle of the cavity so it’s surrounded by the cheese bits.
  • This bread really does taste best warm so if you are keeping it give it a quick blast in the microwave before eating. But it’s still the tastiest fresh out of the oven.
  • You could definitely spruce up the fillings! Some variations I’ve seen added bacon bits, scallions, more cheese, wilted spinach… GO WILD.

Warabi Mochi

I suck at buying presents, so usually I just make something edible (which means I get to eat the “present” as well). But when I asked my sister what she wanted for her birthday, she replied with warabi mochi, a traditional Japanese confectionery which required loads of specialty ingredients. Of course she did.

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I didn’t have a small enough container so I had to shove the mochi into a corner of my brownie tin and balance everything with a measuring jug. That’s lateral thinking.

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Warabi mochi is a soft, jelly-like dessert that’s quite different from normal mochi, in that it has more of a gelatinous texture rather than a chewy one. I personally prefer warabi mochi, especially the more traditional ones actually made out of bracken instead of the corn starch that I use.

Warabi mochi is usually served with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and kuromitsu (something like molasses?). And this trinity is a  w i n n i n g  combination, especially in the summertime. The warabi mochi itself doesn’t have much of a flavour, it just serves as a refreshing vehicle to deliver the earthy flavour of the kinako and the sweetness of the kuromitsu.

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It’s best to eat the warabi mochi right after making as the texture deteriorates over time. I got the recipe from here and watched this to get a better idea of what to do.

Ingredients

Warabi mochi

  • 50g corn starch (or わらび餅粉 warabimochiko if you can get it)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 300ml water (see notes)
  • Kinako (きな粉, enough to coat the warabi mochi)

Kuromitsu

  • 50g unrefined brown sugar (黒糖, kokutou, looks like this)
  • 50g white sugar
  • 50ml water

Method

Warabi mochi

  1. Mix the starch and the sugar in a pot. Then add in the water and mix well.
  2. Heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly.
  3. When the mixture is translucent, remove from heat.
  4. Pour the mixture into a rectangle container of a suitable size, such that the mixture is 1 inch thick. Place the container in an ice bath for 10 minutes, or until the warabi mochi is about room temperature.
  5. Unmould the warabi mochi onto a wet surface and cut into cubes using a wet knife. Place the cubes into room temperature water after cutting for easier handling.

Kuromitsu

  1. Mix the sugars and water in a saucepan and heat until the mixture is boiling and all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  1. Sprinkle the warabi mochi pieces with kinako and drizzle with kuromitsu.
  2. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • If you’re using corn starch instead of warabimochiko, the warabi mochi is going to have a bit of a unpleasant aftertaste to it. You don’t really taste it with the kinako and the kuromitsu masking it, but it’s still best to use the warabimochiko. The recipe source suggests making the warabi mochi with green tea instead of water to mask this aftertaste, but I didn’t try that so I don’t know if that works.
  • I got all the ingredients from Daiso, basically a Japanese dollar store, so if you have one around your area yay.
  • For storage, store the warabi mochi separate from the kinako and the kuromitsu. Don’t store in the fridge or the warabi mochi will lose its soft texture.
  • Some people say that dark muscovado sugar can be substituted for kokutou, but they don’t look alike to me so I can’t vouch for this substitution.