Sweet Potato Sourdough

When you think to yourself that normal bread just isn’t orange enough.

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This bread was a journey to bake. It starts off with baking off some sweet potatoes in the oven. Or rather baking it for 20 mins, then realising it’d cook faster in the microwave.

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This was the first sourdough I made after a 2 month break and woah was I out of touch.

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I didn’t flour the banneton well enough so the dough collapsed when I tried turning it out.

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So I tried saving it by placing it in my ratchet-ass “Dutch oven”… or basically my only oven-safe saucepan.

It worked quite well! It managed to rise despite the initial deflation. Like my spirits during the last examination. Unlike me after the examination however, the bread did not develop a crusty exterior. Probably because I forgot to heat up my “Dutch oven” first before putting the bread in it, and the lid was not tight at all so it couldn’t trap steam.

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There’s the crumb shot, don’t mind my hacking job with the knife. This dough was quite high hydration (although I have no idea how to calculate the percentages with sweet potato. Is sweet potato dry or wet?) so there’s quite large air bubbles. You could actually taste the sweet potato in the bread! Thought it made it a bit tastier.

I loosely based the recipe off this, but I used my own timings, and added some wholemeal flour. And mine was a sourdough. And I used orange sweet potato not purple sweet potato. The person who wrote the original recipe said her addition of purple sweet potato added a “faint and almost floral fragrance in the back-note” which is taking too much of an artistic liberty if you ask me. It just tastes like sweet potato, mate.

Ingredients

  • 135g sourdough starter (mine was at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 80g wholemeal flour
  • 452g strong white flour
  • 400g water
  • 225g cooked sweet potato flesh (just microwave it it’s faster)
  • 13g salt

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix the sourdough starter, flours, and water. Cover with plastic wrap and let it autolyse (see notes) for 30 mins.
  2. After 30 mins, add the sweet potato flesh and salt. Mix using the pincer method.
  3. Stretch and fold your dough for about 5 mins or until the dough starts to develop some elasticity. Then stretch and fold 4 times over the next hour (every 15 mins).
  4. Cover the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight.
  5. In the morning, place the dough into your banneton (flour very well before use, this dough is quite sticky). Shape your dough by basically pulling the dough from the sides of the ball towards the center.
  6. Cover and let rise for about 2 hours or until slightly increased in size.
  7. If not using a Dutch oven (as I’d planned),
    • 15 mins before baking, preheat your oven to 260°C with a baking tray half-filled with water at the bottom of the oven to create a steam oven.
      Tip out your dough onto a lined baking tray.
    • Score your bread if you want with either a bread lame or the sharpest knife in your kitchen.
    • Place the bread in the steam oven. Mist the oven generously with a spray bottle to generate more steam.
    • Bake at 260°C for 30 mins. Then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for 20 mins or until done. Bread is done when it is well browned and when you tap it it sounds hollow
  8. If using a Dutch oven (as I sort of did),
    • 30 mins before baking, preheat your oven to 260°C and place a Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats.
    • When the dough is ready, tip out onto some baking paper. Use the baking paper to help carefully lower your dough into the Dutch oven. Score the bread if you want.
    • Cover and bake for 30 mins, then remove the lid and bake for about 15 mins.
  9. Let bread cool about 15 mins before cutting into it.

Notes

  • My starter was at 100% hydration. Basically means equal weight of flour and water. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • Autolysing just means letting your flour sit with the water before you add any salt or yeast. This is supposed to make the bread easier to handle and have better structure and taste since the flour absorbs the water or something. More here.
  • Turning and folding means you don’t knead the dough. It’s just an alternative method to build structure in the dough usually used for higher hydration sourdoughs, but it can be used for any bread really. Up to your personal preference.
  • Scoring helps direct the shape your bread will rise when baked. And it looks pretty. But my sourdough was so collapsed from my banneton mishap that I didn’t want to score it.
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Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Brown Butter Crumbs

My housemates and I celebrated Thanksgiving last week!

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It was a very British thanksgiving with chicken instead of turkey, and we had brussels sprouts and yorkshire pudding. Don’t judge.

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We went all the way and made a special Snapchat geofilter for the event as well urgh.

We had some pie themed desserts, so along with this pumpkin pie ice cream there were also pecan pie cheesecake and apple pie layer cake. Yeah I gained about a kilo that week.

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I don’t think I actually like the flavour of pumpkin spice that much. But the combination with the slightly salty pie crumb made the whole thing a sweet, salty, spicy treat.

I got the recipe for the ice cream from here and the recipe for the pie crumb from Christina Tosi’s momofuku milk bar. I used brown butter instead of butter for the pie crumb though, just to add that extra bit of nutty, caramelised flavour.

Ingredients (makes about 700ml ice cream)

Pumpkin Ice Cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp dark rum (optional)

Pie Crust

  • 240g plain flour
  • 18g sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 115g butter, melted
  • 20g water

Method

Pumpkin Ice Cream

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar together. Then mix with the milk and cream.
  2. Heat over medium heat until the mixture thinly coats the back of your spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  3. Take the mixture off the heat and allow to cool.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin with the cinnamon, vanilla, and rum.
  5. Mix the pumpkin puree with the custard.
  6. Chill the mixture overnight.
  7. Churn the mixture in an ice cream machine.

Brown Butter Pie Crust

  1. Brown the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl and a heavy microwave-safe lid. I microwaved my butter for about 4 mins, gave the butter a quick swirl, and then microwaved it in 1 min intervals (swirling in between) until the butter was brown and there were some residues at the bottom of the bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt together.
  3. Add the brown butter and water until the mixture comes together.
  4. Spread the mixture over a lined baking tray and bake for 180°C for about 30-40 mins, breaking them up occasionally. Bake until golden brown but still slightly moist to the touch. The crumbs will dry and harden as they cool.
  5. Let crumbs cool and store in an airtight container in a freezer.
  6. Sprinkle on top of the ice cream to serve.

Notes

  • I didn’t like the texture of this ice cream as much as my previous ice cream attempts. I would probably attempt the proportions used here next time.
  • If you want to mix some of the crust into the ice cream, I would try mixing the larger crumbs (or the texture of the ice cream might turn sandy), and making sure the crumbs are frozen so they don’t get soggy.
  • Your ice cream will reduce faster if you use a pot with a large surface area. So for example I used my wok. Very asian.
  • If you’re microwaving your butter to make it brown butter, your butter’s going to sputter and make a lot of noise. Don’t panic and keep zen. The butter will be fine. Use a heavy lid though so your butter doesn’t splutter everywhere.
  • To be honest though I didn’t really taste much of a difference using brown butter or not so if you want to skip the brown butter step that’s fine.

Pumpkin Buns with Pumpkin Filling

Too spooky for me.

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Pumpkin-shaped bread has been really popular lately and I thought I’d try them too.

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In case it wasn’t obvious from its appearance, the bread contains pumpkin. For extra adherence to theme, pumpkin’s in both the bread and the filling.

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And yeah…I don’t know how the pinterest people did it but I couldn’t get the string off the bread in the end. Just get your friends to nibble round the string. Can’t do them too much harm. Extra fibre.

(Ok so after googling a bit turns out I was supposed to remove the string after the second proof. Oops.)

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The pumpkin’s not super obvious in the dough, but the bread itself’s still really tasty. Can’t go wrong with enriched bread.

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Crumb shot.

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Garnish with some decorations stolen from a cupcake shop. This recipe’s loosely based off this youtube video. I say loosely because I didn’t follow her bread technique and left out the milk in the filling.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 400g pureed pumpkin (about 1 can). Split into two portions, 100g for the dough and 300g for the filling.

Bread

  • 300g bread flour
  • 160ml milk
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 7g dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 40g sugar
  • 6g salt
  • Some string
  • Pecans to decorate

Filling

  • 40g butter
  • 40g sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt together. Then add the milk and 100g pureed pumpkin. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  2. Knead in the butter until the bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Let the dough rise in a covered bowl until doubled in size (about 1.5 hours for me, see notes).
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix 300g pureed pumpkin with the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Refrigerate until firm.
  5. When the dough is doubled in size, knockback and split the dough into 12 equal pieces.
  6. Flour a surface and your rolling pin and flatten each piece of dough. Add about 1/12 of the filling into the centre of the dough circle (about 1 tbsp). Close the dough around the filling well and shape until it’s round.
  7. Use string to tie the dough ball, dividing it into 8 segments. Place each shaped bun onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  8. Cover with some floured clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).
  9. After the buns have doubled in size, remove the string (which I clearly didn’t). Decorate each bun with a pecan piece to make the “stalk”. Brush each bun with some milk to give it a bit of colour.
  10. Bake at 180°C for about 20 mins or until well coloured.
  11. Let cool on cooling rack.

Notes

  • Make sure to seal the filling well with the dough or it will leak out.
  • Don’t tie the buns too tightly with the string or it’ll squeeze the filling out.
  • The timings for the proving are a rough guide. It’s pretty cold where I am right now so proving might be longer for me than it is for you.
  • Make sure to remove the string before baking lol.
  • If you’re going to puree your own pumpkin you might have to adjust the liquid levels. I feel like canned pureed pumpkin’s a little wetter.

Chinese-Bavarian Apple Cream Cheese Tart

The Bavarian Apple Cream Cheese Tart gets a Chinese twist with the use of Five Spice, perfectly complementing this autumnal treat.

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This tart starts off with what’s perhaps the easiest sweet tart case I’ve ever made. You literally just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then press them into the tart pan. No refrigeration needed, no baking beans necessary. And you still get a crumbly, buttery case.

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So about that five spice. I tend to just use it as a substitute to cinnamon, like I did in my Banana Crumble Bars. Five spice does contain cinnamon, but it’s typically mixed with star anise, cloves, Szechuan pepper (don’t worry you don’t taste it), and fennel seeds. So it gives the dessert a bit of an exotic edge, not enough to make it taste off-putting, but sufficient to give a little sense of excitement.

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A word of caution though. If any of the people you’re feeding the tart to is Chinese (or have eaten five spice in non-dessert contexts, as is normal), maybe tell them you used five spice after they’ve actually eaten and praised you and stuff. Those who knew the big secret ingredient in this tart just could not get past that mental block of eating five spice in a dessert.

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The toasted almonds on top add a little extra texture and visual interest.

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The sweet cream cheese filling also paired well with the tart apples which it lovingly envelopes.

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This tart has a really generous amount of apples in it, so you can almost tell yourself it’s healthy.

I got the recipe from here and tweaked it a bit.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (125g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (113g)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (67g)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Filling

  • 75g sugar
  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened (about 453g in total)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Method

Crust

  1. Combine all the crust ingredients into bowl until just combined. Press into bottom of oiled tart pan. It doesn’t have to look pretty you’re gonna cover it anyway.
  2. Prick all over with a fork, and then bake at 190°C (375°F) for 10 mins.

Filling

  1. Combine 75g sugar, cream cheese, eggs, pinch of salt, and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until smooth. Spread mixture over the half-baked crust.
  2. In another bowl, mix the cut apples with 50g sugar and five spice until apples are evenly coated.
  3. Arrange the apples over the filling in concentric circles, pressing the narrow end into the cream cheese mixture (I suppose for aesthetic purposes).
  4. Bake for 45 mins at 190°C.
  5. Sprinkle the tart with the almonds and continue baking 15-20 mins until almonds are toasted and centre is almost set.
  6. Let tart cool completely before serving. Store refrigerated.

Notes

  • Pricking the tart with the fork is called docking. It’s meant to prevent the crust from bubbling up. The recipe doesn’t tell you to do it, but I got paranoid.
  • Tart apples are better than sweet ones in this recipe since the cream cheese filling itself is quite sweet already.
  • I reduced the sugar levels from the original recipe and thought the sweetness level was just right.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I just love carrot cake! And I especially love carrot cake with looooooads of nuts so if you’re like me, this cake is perfect for you!

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This cake is so moist (my friend just hates that word so let me just say that again: moist). That is contributed to by the can of pineapple used in the recipe, and lots and lots of fat. This cake is not for those on a diet.

(Though of course you can try cutting down on the oil, I’m sure it’ll still taste good)

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This is also my favourite cream cheese frosting as it’s not too sweet, and retains enough tanginess to contrast with the rich flavours of the cake.

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Coming from Singapore, we have an altogether different type of carrot cake (which is in fact not made from carrot, it’s made from radishes and fried), so I sometimes have to clarify which one I made when talking to my Singaporean friends.

I adapted this recipe from foodwishes, and cut down on the fat and sugar (the original really seemed like too much, and I felt the cake I ended up with was perfect). I used my own cream cheese frosting recipe though.

Ingredients

Carrot Cake (makes a 2 thick-layered 8″ cake)

  • 246g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 400g sugar (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups raw grated carrots
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, drained (227g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (+ more to decorate if you want)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 380g unsalted butter, softened
  • 380g cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • About 125g icing sugar (see notes)

Method

Carrot Cake

  1. Dry mixture: Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger together.
  2. Wet mixture: In another bowl, beat sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Then add oil and mix. Then add the butter and mix.
  3. Stir in the carrots, pineapple, and nuts into the wet mixture. Then stir in the dry mixture in two additions.
  4. Butter and line your cake tin. Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for about 45-55 mins.
  5. Let your cake cool in the tin for about 10 mins before tipping it out to cool on a wire rack. This is especially since this cake is quite moist and is extra crumbly when hot. Running a knife around the sides of the cake when it’s out of the oven should make it easier to tip the cake out.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat the butter until creamy. Add the cream cheese and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly add in the icing sugar until you reach your desired sweetness/consistency. Refrigerate the icing to firm up.
  3. When taking your icing out of the fridge, give it a beating to loosen it up.

Assembly

  1. Crumb coat your cake. This basically entails covering your cake with a thin layer of frosting so that when you properly ice your cake later on you don’t see any crumbs.
  2. Refrigerate your cake and frosting for at least 30 mins to firm up.
  3. When your cake has firmed up, ice the cake. Press some chopped walnuts into the side of the cake to decorate.

Notes

  • I used a lot less icing sugar than you usually see in buttercream recipes. I’ve always thought buttercream was way too sweet, and would rather lose the stiffness given by extra icing sugar and compensate for it through refrigeration. So this frosting will be quite a loose one, and you won’t be able to pipe any fancy designs with it unless you add more icing sugar.
  • I didn’t have any ground ginger so I grated some fresh ginger root.
  • I cut out 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of oil from the original recipe. I thought the sweetness level I ended up with was perfect, but you could probably still reduce the oil if you wanted.