Matcha Green Tea Babka with Black Sesame Swirl

Or the day that someone bought every single jar of tahini from the shops.

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I needed tahini for my Moutabbal dip and for this recipe and boy was it a struggle to find.

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Anyways, this recipe is one of the steps in my quest to use the giant bag of matcha powder I bought from Costco.

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It’s a pretty loaf with a swirl of aromatic black sesame through it. I would probably roll my dough out flatter so I can get more rolls in next time though, since I didn’t get as much filling in the bread as I wanted.

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Matcha and black sesame is a pretty classic flavour combination in East Asian bakeries.

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I got the recipe from here but needed more water and also changed the way the bread was kneaded. I also added tahini into the filling.

Ingredients (makes 1 babka, my loaf pan was about 9x4x4 inch/23x10x10 cm)

Matcha bread

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4g instant yeast
  • 344g all-purpose flour
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 1/2 large egg (85g)
  • 1/2 egg yolk (9g)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of water (if needed)
  • 64g unsalted softened butter, room temperature

Black sesame filling

  • 70g unsalted butter, softened (5 tbsp)
  • 50g cup granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 1/2 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp tahini

Syrup

  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 25g sugar (1/8 cup)

Method

Matcha bread

  1. Mix all the ingredients except the water and butter together into a large bowl. Gradually add the water, adding just enough until the dough comes together to form a soft dough (you might not need all the water). Knead well until the dough is smooth.
  2. Knead in the butter until the butter is well incorporated.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size (about 2 hours).

Black sesame filing

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until well combined and the black sesame seeds are well ground up.

Syrup

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  1. Knock back the matcha dough and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle which width is the length of your pan.
  2. Cover the rectangle with the sesame filling.
  3. Roll up the dough like a Swiss roll from the short end, ending with the seam at the bottom.
  4. Gently cup the dough into half lengthwise. Arrange each half cut-side up
  5. Twist the two halves together, with the cut-side still facing up.
  6. Place the twisted dough into the bread pan. Cover, and let rise until it nearly reaches the top of the container (about an hour).
  7. Give the bread an optional light egg wash, being careful not to mess up the swirl pattern.
  8. Bake in a preheated 160°C/325°F oven for about 75 mins, or until the internal temperature of the bread is about 93°C/200°F measured with a food thermometer. Or when you tap the bread it sounds hollow.
  9. While the bread is still warm, brush the sugar syrup onto the bread.
  10. Let cool in the pan for about 5-10 mins before turning them out of the pan and cooling them completely on a wire rack.

Notes

  • It’s really awkward to measure 1/2 an egg so if you have enough mouths to feed this recipe will be easier to make if doubled.
  • 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).
  • Don’t cut into the bread while it’s still too hot or the steam will escape and your bread will dry out.
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Sourdough Pita with Moutabbal Dip

I hope you like the look of long pitas.

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I wanted a lot of bread to dip into my dip okay. I breathed in a lot of smoke to really get that smoky eggplant taste.

Also, apparently this isn’t baba ghanoush? Baba ghanoush supposedly does not contain tahini and instead the eggplant is mixed with other vegetables like onions and tomatoes and has pomegranate molasses. This dip is actually moutabbal.

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And these pita are made out of sourdough as well, giving it a strong flavour.

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And of course, is it really pita if you don’t have a pocket in the middle?

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I got the pita recipe from here and here, and the moutabbal recipe from here and just adapted it for the oven instead of a grill.

Ingredients (makes 4 pita, and enough dip to generously dip the 4 pita in)

Sourdough Pita

  • 96g starter (mine was at 100%, see notes)
  • 6g salt
  • 38g whole wheat flour
  • 221g white flour
  • 173g water
  • 14g oil

Moutabbal

  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 juiced lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 leaf mint
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Method

Sourdough Pita

  1. Combine the starter, salt, and flours together into a large mixing bowl and stir well.
  2. Gradually add the water and the oil and knead well. The dough should be soft and not sticky, just keep kneading until it reaches this stage and forms a smooth all.
  3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until about doubled in size, about 6h. (Alternatively you could let rise for about 4h and then leave in the refrigerator overnight to finish the rise).
  4. Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F and place a clean baking tray into the oven.
  5. While the oven is heating up, knock back the dough and split the dough into 4 evenly sized pieces. Roll each ball into an oval 3-5mm thick.
  6. When the oven is preheated, remove the baking tray from the oven and lightly dust with flour. Place the shaped pita dough onto the tray. (Try to do this step quick so the tray doesn’t lose too much temperature).
  7. Bake for about 7-10 mins, or until the pita bread starts to colour and the underside of the pita has a good golden brown colour where the pita contacted the pan. Remove from the oven and cover with a cloth until they are cool.
  8. Best eaten on the same day, or they also freeze well. I like to cut mine, freeze the cut pieces, and just place them in the toaster to heat up.

Moutabbal

  1. Oil a cast iron skillet with vegetable oil (or any oil with a high smoking point) and heat until very hot, over high heat.
  2. Poke the eggplants a few times with a fork, and then char the skin of the eggplants all over on the skillet. Like, REALLY char, until the skins get all blackened, burnt, and wrinkled and you get really scared you’ll set off the fire alarm.
  3. Transfer the eggplants to a cutting board till cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
  4. Trim the stems off the eggplant and cut lengthwise.
  5. Place the eggplants cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 mins, or until the eggplants are very tender.
  6. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplants and transfer the flesh into a colander placed over a bowl. Drain for about 5-10 mins.
  7. Transfer the eggplant to a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients. Process until smooth but still a bit chunky (or up to personal preference).
  8. Refrigerate until cold.  Taste and adjust for seasoning (mostly salt and lemon juice).
  9. Garnish dip with olive oil, some parsley, and flaky salt.

Notes

  • My starter was at 100% hydration. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • The rising time listed is 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 the starter, or the surrounding temperature.
  • If you’re in a little bit of a rush, you could sprinkle in like 2-3g of yeast into the pita dough at the start to speed things up a little. But the sourdough flavour will not be as strong. And bread always taste better with a slower proof.

Mochi Donuts (Pon de Ring)

Hey it contains tofu that means it’s healthy right?

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Mochi donuts are not that uncommon in Asia (or at least in Singapore). This mochi donut in particular though was inspired by the mochi donuts from the Japanese donut store Mister Donut. In particular, the store’s signature Pon de Ring donut with its characteristic shape.

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The person who created this recipe, Buzzfeed Tasty’s Rie, added tofu to the mixture for body and moisture.  Which IS uncommon.

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She said you can’t taste the tofu at all but let me tell you: you can taste the tofu.

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I didn’t particularly mind it, but I’d say that the topping flavour has to be really strong in order to compensate, especially since the donut itself isn’t very sweet.

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I like mochi donuts since they tend to be less sweet than normal American-style donuts. And the donut is so bouncy I’m pretty sure I could throw it at someone and worry about it rebounding back to me.

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I got the recipe from here (which is a video). I was so proud that I could decipher the ingredient amounts with my piss-poor Japanese until I realised that Rie posted the ingredient amounts in English on her instagram as well.

By the way this donut is, fortuitously enough, vegan. Living my best life.

Ingredients (makes 4)

  • 250g medium-firm tofu (9 oz, no need to press the water out)
  • 100g shiratamako/glutinous rice flour (1/2 cup)
  • 100g cake flour (1/2 cup)
  • 50g sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil, to fry
  • Assembly:
    • Brûléed sugar: About 2 tbsp granulated sugar
    • Matcha: About 1 tbsp matcha powder and 1 tbsp powdered sugar
    • Cinnamon-sugar: About 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp granulated sugar, and 1 tbsp powdered sugar

Method

  1. Mix the tofu and flour together until there are no chunks of tofu remaining.
  2. Add the cake flour, potato starch, baking powder, sugar and salt, and mix until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  3. Split the dough into 4, and split each piece into 6 balls. Arrange the balls into a ring on some baking paper/parchment paper.
  4. Heat some oil to 160°C/320°F. Slide the baking paper (with the donut still on it) into the oil. The baking paper will detach from the donut as the donut fries. Remove the baking paper when it detaches itself (don’t remove the paper before it separates by itself or the donut may lose its shape and not stay in a ring).
  5. The donut is ready when it is a light golden colour. Let cool on some paper towels to blot off the extra oil.
  6. For assembly:
    • Brûléed sugar: Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar onto the donut, and brûlée the sugar with a blowtorch until the sugar is melted and brown. Then sprinkle another tbsp of sugar on top and brûlée again. This helps create a thick crunchy topping.
    • Matcha: In a bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and matcha powder. Dip the donut into the mixture.
    • Cinnamon-sugar: In a bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Dip the donut into the mixture.

Notes

  • Yeah I used 2 types of sugar in the cinnamon-sugar because I liked the texture of the granulated sugar and I thought the donut needed the sweetness from the powdered sugar.
  • The donuts taste best fresh. If kept till the next day it gets a bit ~moist~ and gross-looking, especially the donuts which used a sugar topping. So I’ll say use toppings like brûléed sugar or chocolate if you absolutely have to make them in advance.

Crème Brûlée Berry Custard Tart with Chocolate Crust

Loôk àt âll thôsé àccënts.

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It all starts with a tart berry base to the…tart. Which helped with balancing out the sweetness of the brûlée and the maple syrup used in the custard.

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And then the tart is topped off with a veritably THIQQ (the new thicc) brûlée layer, which just shatters upon impact due to the double brûlée method.

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Playing with fire (in a safe controlled manner) is always fun.

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A rich chocolate crust wraps this whole package up. One of my friends said the crust tasted like brownies, and who doesn’t like brownies. If you don’t your opinion is, respectfully, wrong.

And chocolate + berries is always a winning combination to me.

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I got the recipe for the filling from here, and the recipe for the crust from here. Just reworded some stuff and added berries.

Ingredients (I used an 11 inch tart pan)

Crust

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (37g, see notes)
  • 3½ tablespoons granulated sugar (43g)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups plus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (164g)
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces (85g)
  • 2 tbsp shortening, cut into pieces (26g)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup ice-cold water

Berries

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Custard

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light cream or half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 58g sugar (original recipe was 1/3 cup or 66g but I used less)
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks

Assembly

  • 1 egg for the blind bake
  • Sugar for the brulee, about 5 tbsp

Method

Crust

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and flour together.
  2. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles sand with a few pea-sized larger pieces. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk and ice-cold water together. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in 2 additions, mixing gently between each addition. The dough should just come together.
  4. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Roll out the disc of chilled dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper until it is about an inch larger than your tart pan.
  6. Transfer to your buttered and lined tart pan and press the dough down into the pan. Trim the edges.
  7. Chill in the fridge until needed, meanwhile prepare your berries and custard.

Berries

  1. In a saucepan, combine the berries and sugar together.
  2. Dissolve the cornstarch in room-temperature water before adding to the hot berries.
  3. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture is thickened. Set aside to cool.

Custard

  1. Combine the heavy cream, light cream, maple syrup, and sugar in a medium size saucepan.
  2. Heat the mixture, stirring over medium heat, until the mixture is steaming and the sugar has dissolved (do not let boil).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool for at 10 mins until the mixture has cooled down slightly.
  4. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, stir the egg yolks together. Then add the warm cream mixture to the egg yolks a bit at a time, stirring well between each addition. This is to ensure you don’t scramble the eggs.
  5. Pass the custard through a mesh strainer into a large bowl and set aside.

Assembly

  1. Line the tart with parchment paper and fill with some pie weights (I used some rice)
  2. Bake the tart crust in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 20 mins or until the crust is dry around the edge.
  3. Remove the paper and weights and place the pie back into the oven and bake until the surface of the crust looks dry (about 5-10 mins).
  4. Brush the crust with a beaten egg and return to the oven for about 3 mins or until crust is dry (the above 4 steps are blind-baking to prevent a soggy crust).
  5. Take the crust out of the oven and use a spoon to spread a thin layer of the thickened berry mixture across the bottom of the tart.
  6. Slowly pour the custard into the tart.
  7. Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 60-70 more minutes, or until the edges are puffed and the tart wobbles slightly in the middle when nudged. At this point I don’t care too much about it browning too quickly as I’m going to brulee the tart later.
  8. When the tart looks ready, switch off the oven and leave the oven door slightly, and let the tart cool down in the oven for about 15 mins (to prevent cracks from forming – although this step is kind of optional since you’re going to cover any defects with the brulee).
  9. If not serving immediately, cover the tart and chill.
  10. Just before serving, sprinkle the pie with a layer of sugar, and brulee using a kitchen torch until the sugar is melted and dark brown. When you’ve bruleed the first layer of sugar, add a second layer of sugar and repeat the brulee step. This helps with creating a thick brulee so you get that nice ASMR crunch when you stab the tart with a knife.

Notes

  • The original tart base recipe used Dutch process cocoa powder, which usually gives a richer chocolate flavour. But I didn’t want to go out to buy some so I just used the natural cocoa powder I had in my house. And since natural cocoa powder is more acidic than Dutch process cocoa powder I also omitted the apple cider vinegar used in the recipe. More on the differences here.
  • If you’re using clingfilm to cover the baked chart to chill, try not to adjust the clingfilm too much as it’ll rip the top layer off the cart (oops). Don’t worry though once the tart is cold the clingfilm peels off easily.
  • I didn’t actually get a clean layer of berries with a layer of custard on top, it was more of a mixed berry-custard situation.

Yule Log Cake with Digestive Biscuit Buttercream and Baileys Whipped Cream

The OG Christmas dessert, and I finally found a recipe that isn’t too sweet!

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AKA Bûche de Noël if you’re feeling ~extra fancy~. Apparently the Yule Log was an actual thing, with some special log specially chosen to be specially burnt for Christmas, to symbolise The Battle Between Good and Evil. Extra spooky.

I served this cake at a party and didn’t want people to judge me, so I couldn’t get a decent photo of the cut cake. The only photo I managed to get was the cake on a disposable plate and fork with a very BUSY background, which y’know isn’t very #instagram. So I photoshopped out the plate and made this infographic. Enjoy.

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I really liked the digestive biscuit frosting in this cake. It added a little buttery saltiness, which helped balance out the overall sweetness. And it also served as a kind of crumb coat before the ganache. Plus, you get a peep of the tan coloured frosting through the ganache at certain spots, which makes the cake look even more like a tree trunk.

Using dark chocolate also helps in the Fight Against Overly Sweet Desserts. And of course, Baileys will always complement chocolate.

Rounding off this overly-detailed section of descriptions, the whipped cream adds some lightness with its fluffiness. And if you serve the cake refrigerator-cold like I did, the ganache is also going to be on the hard side, which I actually enjoyed as it added a bit of textural contrast to just sponge.

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I used the sponge recipe from here. The biscuit frosting was inspired by Christina Tosi’s graham biscuit frosting, just that I substituted the graham biscuits with digestive biscuits. The technique for assembling the log cake was from the Queen herself, Mary Berry.

Ingredients

Dark chocolate sponge

  • 6 ounces semisweet bittersweet chocolate, chopped or 1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (170g)
  • 3 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar (150g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided into 2 portions

Baileys whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream (236ml)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (use more if you prefer a sweeter filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp Baileys, depending on preference

Digestive biscuit frosting

  • 80g crushed digestives
  • 10g milk powder
  • 15g white sugar
  • 115g butter
  • 30ml pouring cream
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Dark chocolate ganache

  • 300ml cream
  • 300g dark chocolate

Method

Dark Chocolate Sponge

  1. Melt chocolate with coffee in a microwave until 75% melted (in short bursts mixing well between each microwave session). Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
  2. Beat egg yolks until pale and creamy. Add sugar gradually until eggs are pale. Gently stir chocolate into yolk mixture.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into chocolate/yolk mixture.
  4. Butter a baking tray and line it with baking paper. Pour the cake batter into the tray and bake at 180°C for 15 mins.
  5. Transfer to cooling rack and cover with a light damp towel for 10 mins. Gently remove towel and run a knife around edges of cake. Sift one tbsp cocoa over the top and cover with a tea towel.
  6. Invert the cake such that the tea towel is on the bottom, and the baking paper that lined the pan is on top. Peel back the baking paper, and sift 1 tbsp cocoa powder on top. Using the towel underneath, roll the cake from long end with towel inside. Let cool encased in towel to room temperature.

Digestive biscuit frosting

  1. Toss biscuit crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt together.
  2. Melt 30g butter and whisk into cream.
  3. Add the butter/cream to the dry ingredients and toss until clusters form.
  4. Transfer to food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 85g butter, light brown sugar, icing sugar, cinnamon, and salt until fluffy. Scrape down, then with mixer on low speed, add the crumb mixture and beat until a pale tan colour.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to use, or until it is a spreadable consistency.

Dark chocolate ganache

  1. Heat the cream until bubbles just start to form, then take off heat.
  2. Dump in the dark chocolate, and wait a minute before stirring well. Cool the ganache to room temperature before using.

Baileys whipped cream

  1. When the chocolate sponge is room temperature, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar, vanilla, and Baileys until stiff peaks.

Assembly

  1. Unroll the chocolate sponge and spread the whipped cream over what will be the inner surface of the rolled cake.
  2. Gently use the towel to re-roll the cake. Roll the cake such that it is seam side down.
  3. Cut the log at a diagonal, such that the log is divided 2:1. Place the shorter log at an angle to the longer log, and stick the logs together using some frosting.
  4. Cover the log with the digestive biscuit frosting and refrigerate until frosting is stiff.
  5. Place the dark chocolate ganache in a star-shaped nozzle and pipe along the log. Alternatively you could just spread the ganache on the log and run a fork down the sides to create the bark effect. (I kind of used a combination of both)
  6. Pipe a spiral using a round nozzle along the cut ends of the log to imitate the rings of a tree trunk.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before serving, dust with a little bit of powdered sugar.

Notes

  • For the ganache and the buttercream, you’d want to keep it at the right temperature for piping, which might have to mean taking it in and out of the refrigerator if you stay in a hotter climate.
  • When cooling the sponge, make sure to unroll the cake at room temperature and not colder or the cake might be too stiff and crack. But of course, if the cake is too hot it’ll melt your filling so wait till the cake is room temperature.