Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Custard Filling

It’s time for some oozy-gooey-flowy matcha.

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Ok so some people seem to get disgusted by the idea of a green sticky filling. Reminds them of snot or something. Well it’s time to open your mind and broaden your horizons because there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore. And some of that world consists of green custard, alright?

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The green custard is restrained by charcoal bread, which colour is more for dramatic effect rather than any health benefits, really. Charcoal powder is used quite commonly in Asian baking. I’ve used it before in my Charcoal Bread with Salted Egg Yolk Filling, but this time I’m going to be using a different recipe which I think yields a softer bun.

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Get some dramatic sunrise lighting on those buns.

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Filling

If your ability to wrap a filling is better than mine, you’ll probably end up with more custard in your buns. And for those that haven’t eaten matcha before it’s like ground-up green tea, also commonly used in Asian cooking. It kinda has a mildly bitter, earthy taste, but I think it complements sweet things really well.

I used my standard Asian-style bread recipe originally used here, and just adjusted for the charcoal powder. I got the recipe for the filling from here.

Ingredients (makes about 12 buns)

Green Tea Custard

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g flour
  • 10g matcha powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 300g bread flour (2 1/2 cup minus about a tbsp)
  • 14g charcoal powder
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)

Method

Matcha Custard

  1. In a pot, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, flour, and green tea powder.
  2. Add in the milk and set over medium-high heat. Heat until the custard thickens, stirring continuously.
  3. When the custard is thick enough that when you dribble a bit back in the dribble briefly retains its shape, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Divide up the custard into tbsp-sized portions and place on a lined baking sheet (making sure you have at least 12 portions, or however many buns you want to make). Freeze until solid.

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, charcoal powder, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and roll flat.
  5. Place a tbsp of the frozen matcha custard in the middle of the dough disc, and wrap the dough around the custard well, making sure to seal tightly.
  6. Let the buns rise until doubled in size, about 1.5h.
  7. After doubled in size, brush the tops of the buns with some oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
  8. Bake at 200ºC for 15-17 mins.

Notes

  • The frozen custard dough will retard the second rise of the dough, take that into consideration when planning the bake.
  • It can be difficult to judge when the bread is done since it is so dark, I just judged it by smell.
  • The times given for proofing the dough are a rough guide, since it is very dependent on temperature. Follow the visual cues (ie doubled in size) rather than the exact timing.
  • You have to use ground up matcha powder don’t use green tea leaves.
  • Make sure to seal the buns well!! The custard is super gooey and will seep out of any holes you’ve missed.
  • Use vanilla essence/extract whichever you prefer.

Chocolate Sourdough with Walnuts and Raisins

My first sweet sourdough!

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I think that this is a bread that will satisfy both those who have a sweet tooth and those who don’t really like sweet things.

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The dough itself is on the bitter side because of the cocoa powder, but this also gives it a rich chocolate flavour. And of course you get the little pools of melted chocolate within which are to die for.

Chocolate Sourdough with Walnuts and Raisins (2)

And then you get the classic chocolate complement of aromatic, crunchy walnuts and plump, sweet raisins just to add a bit of textural variety to the bread.

I also don’t know why my crust looks purple.

Chocolate Sourdough with Walnuts and Raisins (1)

The crumb itself was really soft and moist. The crust is a little on the chewy side though, which was described in the original recipe as well. If you like your crust a little bit more crispy, a good toasting is the solution to all of your life’s problems.

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And when you toast it and add cream cheese? NEXT LEVEL.

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I got the recipe from here, but used my own timings.

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 50g malted milk powder, optional (ie ovaltine, I just thought it’d taste good)
  • 50g sugar
  • 150g sourdough starter (mine was at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 400g water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8g salt
  • 65g chopped walnuts
  • 65g raisins, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 150g semi-sweet chocolate chips (see notes)

Method

  1. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar together. Then stir in the sourdough starter, water, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and autolyse for 1h (just let it sit).
  3. When the dough is done autolysing add the salt, chopped walnuts, raisins, and chocolate using the pinch and fold method.
  4. Stretch and fold your dough four times over the next 2 hours (so every 30 mins).
  5. Cover the dough and let rise in the fridge overnight.
  6. In the morning, turn your dough out into a well-floured banneton. Shape your dough by basically pulling the dough from the sides of the ball towards the center.
  7. Cover and let rise for about 2 hours.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Notes

  • My starter was at 100% hydration. This bread was about 70% hydration. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • I soak raisins beforehand so that they’d remain plump after baking.
  • Use chocolate chips not chopped chocolate. The original recipe source tried using chopped chocolate and it just melted into the dough, so you don’t get the pools of chocolate which is honestly the whole reason why you’re eating this bread in the first place.
  • 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.

Earl Grey Hot Cross Buns

Well I say earl grey but I couldn’t really taste the tea. Maybe my palate is unrefined, reflecting my appearance and general approach to life. Or maybe my super-generous jam distribution combined with the fruits in the bread overwhelmed the tea flavour.

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Well it’s a good idea in theory. Earl grey has a bit of a fruity note to it so I thought it’d go well with the bread. I just wanted to make my Easter baking this year a little bit more cultured okay.

Probably will try steeping the tea for longer next time, might even try an overnight infusion.

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Don’t get too excited and snip too big a hole to draw your cross, like I did for my first batch. This is the stage where a steady hand comes into play, so just do some deep yoga breathing, pop a beta-blocker, and enter your Sherlockian mind palace.

Earl Grey Hot Cross Buns

Also there is nothing more unappetising to look at (and eat) than an unglazed hot cross bun so just remove all inhibitions and slather on an uncomfortable amount of glaze. You are the Picasso of your kitchen. The van Gogh of jam. And the Bob Ross of your own heart (aww).

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If this bun doesn’t look like it was from the previous image, it’s because it was a different batch. Sorry for the deception.

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And of course, what’s hot cross buns without an unhealthy amount of butter. I like my butter cold, like my heart.

I used the same recipe as the Hot Cross Buns I made last year (Paul Hollywood’s recipe), and just steeped the milk in some earl grey first.

Ingredients (makes 12 medium-sized buns)

  • 330ml full-fat milk
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags, opened
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (for oiling the bowl)
  • 7g instant yeast (1 sachet)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 75g raisins, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 50g mixed peel
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 apple (peeled, cored, and finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75g plain flour (for making the cross)
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam

Method

  1. Simmer the milk and empty the contents of the teabags to the milk. Take the milk off the heat and steep for at least 30 mins.
  2. Sieve the milk to remove the bulkier leaves and warm the milk up slightly again. Add the butter to melt the butter. Leave to cool until it’s about body temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. When adding the ingredients to the bowl, add the yeast on the opposite side of the salt and sugar since the latter two could retard the yeast.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the warm milk and butter mixture. Then add the beaten egg. Mix well.
  5. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic. It might be sticky at first but just keep kneading until it comes together.
  6. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Mix the dough with the sultanas, mixed peel, lemon zest, apple, and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. Divide the dough into 100g portions to make 12 rolls. Shape each dough into a ball by pulling on the top surface to create a smooth top. Arrange the buns on a baking tray, leaving some space between them for expansion. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour more.
  9. To prepare the paste to make the cross, mix the 75g of plain flour with about 5 tbsp of water, adding the water 1 tbsp at a time so you just get a thick paste. Place the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross pattern onto the top of the bun once they are done with the final proof.
  10. Bake at 200°C for 20 mins until golden-brown.
  11. Gently heat the jam until it’s more runny, then sieve it to get rid of any chunks. When the bread and jam is still warm, brush the jam over the top of the buns with a pastry brush and leave to cool.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a piping bag you can just use a zip-lock bag with a corner cut off.
  • Try to use a piping bag with a smaller nozzle to get a neater looking cross.
  • I find that soaking raisins beforehand makes them a little more plump and less likely to burn when baking.
  • I like to mix in cinnamon with the jam for glazing, to get more cinnamon flavour.

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.

Fluffy Japanese-style Pancakes

It’s Pancake Day!!

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My exams are finally over which means it’s time to eat my (happy) feelings.

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Apparently the key ingredient here is Japanese mayonnaise. Some people seem repulsed by the idea of mayonnaise (they don’t know what they’re missing out on), but okay let’s break it down. Mayonnaise is just mainly oil and egg mixed up (and maybe a little MSG but hey that’s just more flavour), so adding mayonnaise is just making your life easier by mixing the oil and egg first.

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Gotta arrange that pancake stack to hide the fact that I can’t make pancakes of the same size.

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Making my housemate pour syrup #forthegram. Don’t mind her arm shadow.

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And here’s how the texture looks like inside. And also the recommended ratio of butter to pancake.

I got the recipe from here, just skipped the lemon juice. I really liked this recipe! Thought the pancakes did turn out fluffy, like it promised. Did not quite reach the volume reached in the original recipe, but I feel like that could be down to (my lack of) technique.

Ingredients (makes 4)

  • 2 eggs
  • 100g plain yoghurt
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 10g Japanese mayonnaise (I used Kewpie mayonnaise)
  • 70g self raising flour
  • 5g baking powder

Methods

  1. Separate the egg yolk and the egg whites into two different bowls.
  2. Mix the yogurt, icing sugar, mayonnaise, and egg yolk together.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the yolk mixture and mix well.
  4. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter (being careful not to over-mix).
  6. Drop a spatula spoonful of the batter into a non-stick frying pan (lightly oiled if you’re not feeling too confident about the non-stickiness) over medium-low heat and cook it until bubbles start forming in the center of the pancake.
  7. Flip them over and then cook for about 2 minutes or until both sides are browned.

Notes

  • My pancakes browned more evenly when I had less oil in the pan, not sure if it was because those pancakes were the later ones though (and the first few pancakes are always the ugliest).