Honey Mustard Ice Cream with Mini Pretzels

Hear me out here.

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It’s weirdly good. It’s like a creamy honey mustard dressing…but solid.

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And it goes so well with mini pretzels! That crunch. And it goes with the general savouriness of the ice cream.

I got the original idea while watching an episode of Good Mythical Morning and they loved mustard ice cream. Next time I want to actually get some sausages and eat them with the ice cream. Gotta go all out.

Mustard Ice Cream Honey Pretzel

And the finishing touch is a light sprinkling of salt to contrast with the mild sweetness of the ice cream.

I got the recipe from here but converted everything to grams and converted half-and-half to cream and milk since it’s kind of hard to find half-and-half in the UK.

Ingredients

  • 25g sugar (1/8 cup)
  • 43g honey (1/8 cup)
  • Pinch of turmeric (optional, for colour)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 90g double cream
  • 268g whole milk (or you can substitute the cream and milk for 358g/1.5 cups half-and-half)
  • 1-2 tbsp whole grain mustard (depending on strength of mustard and your preferences)
  • About 150g salted mini pretzels, toasted
  • Some flaky sea salt

Method

  1. Mix the sugar, honey, turmeric, and egg yolks together in a saucepan.
  2. Add the cream and milk into the saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture is thickened and coats the back of your spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  3. Transfer to a container and chill overnight.
  4. Meanwhile, chop 3/4 of the pretzels into pieces (halves to quarters). Freeze the pretzel pieces.
  5. The next morning, before churning the ice cream, mix in the mustard to the ice cream mixture.
  6. Churn the ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine until desired consistency.
  7. When the ice cream is ready, scoop the ice cream into a container and scatter in some chopped frozen pretzel pieces.
  8. Top with the remaining toasted pretzels and sea salt.

Notes

  • The turmeric’s just for colour. Don’t actually add enough such that you’ll be able to taste the turmeric. I wanted the ice cream to actually be yellow, there’s no need for subtlety when it comes to mustard ice cream.
  • Freezing the pretzel pieces will help in stopping the pieces from getting soggy (hopefully).
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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.

Roasted Pork Belly Bao

I impulse-bought a steamer and it’s finally time to use it.

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The bao (buns) here are more like sliders rather than the enclosed packages you’ll see more often in dim sum restaurants. In this recipe roasted pork belly is used, rather than the fattier, softer braised pork belly which I usually get in Singapore (kong bak bao/扣肉包). Still tasty! Just in a different way.

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I thought this was a really good recipe for bao and will definitely use it again for future attempts. So soft! So tender! So fluffy!

I think this was because of the almost scary amounts of animal fat that went into the buns. Sorry, vegetarians. I’m sure you all can use shortening or something instead.

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My balls of dough with the marginalised runt of the litter.

pork belly bao process

And here’s a picture of a lonely bao getting shaped.

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And then after you steam the buns any small imperfections you make disappear as they poof up to steamy, fluffy goodness.

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I guess bao are kind of like Asian burgers? In that they’re both carbohydrate vehicles of fillings which common destination is your mouth. Except bao’s steamed.

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Garnish with some slightly crunchy cucumber pickles to lighten up the flavour (and provide some greens for your diet you unhealthy pig). Usually I eat these types of buns with some Chinese cabbage (生菜) or pickled vegetables (梅菜) but cucumbers are a lot easier to come by in London. The sweetness of the hoisin sauce and the savouriness of the scallions also complements the salty-sweet umami of the pork belly to deliver one heck of a fat-filled bite-sized package to your mouth.

Pork Belly Buns Bao (2)

Pork Belly Buns Bao (1)

I got the recipe from from here, which adapted the recipe from the Momofuku cookbook, which y’know, is famous for their pork bao. The recipe was a little lacking though – should definitely have read the comments before starting. For one thing the pork belly turned out wayyy too salty. Turns out you’re supposed to wash the brine off the meat first before you roast it.

Also, David Chang (of Momofuku) later posted the pork belly recipe on lucky peach with DIFFERENT TIMINGS. WHO DO I TRUST. Ended up listing temperatures and timings somewhere in the middle below, but go with your gut man.

In the recipe below I also changed when to add the fat into the bao (see notes), and made the cucumber pickle more sweet because again, I thought it was too salty. I also converted some of the ingredients to grams.

Ingredients

Pork belly (makes 12 portions, each portion being a palm sized bao)

  • 6 pieces sliced skinless pork belly, about 600g in total
  • 1/8 cup salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Some freshly ground black pepper

Steamed buns (makes about 22, halve if you want to have the exact(ish) number of buns but they freeze easily and it’s difficult to halve this recipe due to the tiny amounts of some ingredients so I made the full 22)

  • 6g yeast (about 1/2 tbsp)
  • 270g bread flour (about 2 cups)
  • 38g sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp skimmed dry milk powder
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 rounded tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 177g water (about 3/4 cups)
  • 40g rendered pork fat/shortening/oil in the liquid state, room/body temperature (see notes)
  • Vegetable oil to oil surfaces

To assemble

  • Hoisin sauce (you use about 2 tsp per bao so 24 tsp I guess?)
  • About 6 stalks scallions, cut diagonally for a e s t h e t i c s
  • 1 long cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices (yes, I know that the cucumber in my pictures are a lot thicker than that but I don’t have a mandolin give me a break)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp salt

Method

Pork belly

  1. Place the pork belly in a roasting pan that holds it snugly, fat side up.
  2. In a bowl, combine the salt and sugar. Rub the mixture all over the pork. Grind some black pepper all over the pork and rub that in too.
  3. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (no longer than 24h).
  4. The next morning (or whatever), preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  5. Discard any liquid that has accumulated in the pan. Give the meat a wash to get rid of the excess salt.
  6. Place the meat back in the pan, making sure the meat fits snugly. It’s important that it’s snug so it stays moist (I think)! Use a ramekin or some other oven-safe thing to crowd the pork belly if your pan is too big.
  7. Put the pork belly in the oven for about 40 mins, basting it with the rendered fat halfway through, until the meat is golden brown.
  8. Turn the oven temperature down to 120°C (250°F) and cook until pork is tender, about an hour more.
  9. Let the pork belly cool to room temperature before wrapping it tightly in cling film and refrigerating it, so it’s easier to cut to size.
  10. To reheat the pork belly, brown it again in oil or warm it up in a little water in a covered pan.

Steamed buns

  1. Stir together the yeast, flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add in 177g of water and knead until soft and elastic.
  2. Add in the fat and knead the fat into the dough. It might seem like too much fat at first but woah let me tell you dough can really tolerate a lot of fat. Makes you think about how much fat is in the bread you usually eat. Fat.
  3. Knead until the dough is super soft and elastic. Then cover with clingfilm and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour 15 mins.
  4. When the dough is doubled in size, punch the dough down. Weigh out 25g portions of dough and shape each portion into a ball. Set each portion down on an oiled baking sheet.
  5. Cover the balls with oiled cling film and let them rise for 30 mins. While they are rising, cut out 22 pieces (or however many dough balls you got) of 10x10cm (or 4″) squares of baking paper.
  6. After 30 mins, use an oiled rolling pin to roll each ball into a 10cm long oval (or 4″, you don’t have to be too exact).
  7. Brush the top lightly with some vegetable oil, and place an oiled chopstick horizontally across the centre of the oval. Fold the oval over itself to form a bun. Gently pull out the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and transfer the bun to a square of baking paper (see notes about giving your buns an overbite).
  8. Cover the buns with oiled clingfilm and let them rest for 45 mins.
  9. Set a steamer on top of a saucepan of water at a rolling boil. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 mins.
  10. To freeze the buns, allow them to cool to room temperature and freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat them in a steamer for 2-3 mins until warmed all the way through.

To assemble

  1. To make a quick cucumber pickle, combine the sliced cucumbers with 3 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Let it sit for 5-10 mins. Before use, dab the cucumber slices on some paper towels to get rid of some excess fluid.
  2. Open a warm bun and spread about 2 tsp of hoisin sauce on the inside (see notes).
  3. Add a piece of pork belly, a couple of slices of cucumber pickle, and some sliced scallions.

Notes

  • I kneaded the fat into the dough after kneading the flour and water together (as compared to the original recipe which just kneads everything together in one step) because I found that doing it this way usually results in softer, fluffier bread (or in this case bao).
  • I definitely did not get enough rendered fat out of the pork belly to put in the bao as some iterations of this recipe claimed to be able to achieve, so I’d suggest buying some lard or shortening to top up. I got about 10g of rendered fat, and topped up with some tallow and rendered lamb fat that my housemate had lying around in the fridge, as well as some vegetable oil. Make sure to melt your fat down to liquid first, and cool to body temperature before using in your bao.
  • I found that when shaping the bao it might be better to give the bao a bit of an overbite (ie the top half hanging over the bottom like this) just so it can stretch over your fillings better at the end.
  • If, like me, you have a bit of a sweet tooth (or if your pork belly turns out too salty) mix some honey into your hoisin sauce to spread on the bun.
  • I think my pork belly turned out a little too black so I’ve reduced the timings listed in the recipe above (probably because I’m using less meat and my pork belly was already sliced).
  • Overall though I still prefer steamed baos with braised pork belly rather than roasted pork belly. I subsequently made a batch of braised pork belly with this recipe and was really pleased with how it tasted with the bao. Here’s a pic (I ate it with some shiitake mushrooms that were stewing together with the pork).

Braised Pork Bun Bao

Gum Mastic, Cardamom, Rosewater, and Pistachio Ice Cream

The recipe that required the most amount of specialised ingredients.

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Gum mastic is used in Eastern Mediterranean cooking. Honestly I have no idea how I even came across it. I opened up my folder of bookmarked ice cream flavours and there it was. My Greek friend got really excited about this, he said that there’s an old wives’ tale about mastica being the cure to everything (cue long-suffering eye-roll from said friend).

And sorry I can’t really describe its taste either. It brings more of an aromatic component to me rather than a taste. Some say that it smells like pine trees, but I’ve never smelt a pine tree before…

And cardamom also smells really good. Like a really classy scented candle. That you want to eat. Basically I kept smelling this ice cream throughout.

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The ice cream is based off an eggless custard – my first recipe without eggs! This meant that I could be less careful about watching the temperature of the custard, since overheating an egg-based custard can result in a bit of a sulfurous smell and taste (ie like eating farts, yummy).

And I thought this ice cream froze pretty well! Didn’t get as icy as some of my previous ice cream attempts.

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Unfortunately you do need an ice cream maker for this recipe, although I’m sure you can use one of the many ways out there to adapt the recipe.

Gum Mastic, Cardamom, Rosewater, and Pistachio Ice Cream

I don’t know why one of the scoops looks more yellow than the other, but it’s okay I accept you for who you are.

I got the recipe from here and used ground cinnamon instead of a cinnamon stick.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole green cardamoms
  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 100ml rose water
  • 1 teaspoon gum mastic crystals, crushed with 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 200ml evaporated milk
  • Handful of toasted pistachios to top, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Crush the whole cardamoms in a pestle and mortar (or get your housemate to crush it in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin, because you’re lazy like that). Take out the pods leaving the seeds then pound the seeds to a fine powder.
  2. Place the milk and double cream in a saucepan, and add the ground cardamom and cinnamon. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter to a rich creamy colour (it takes about half an hour).
  3. Place the sugar and rose water in another saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a low heat until it becomes a thin syrup. Remove from the heat and cool.
  4. When the milk and cream are ready, remove from the heat and stir in the crushed gum mastic. Cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Sieve the liquid. Add the evaporated milk to the sieved liquid and combine with the rose water syrup. Cool and chill.
  6. Churn in an ice-cream machine until desired consistency.
  7. If you want a scoopable consistency rather than a soft-serve consistency, chill the ice cream down in the freezer overnight.
  8. Top with toasted pistachios.

Notes

  • I’d suggest going light on the gum mastic especially if you’re not used to the flavour because it can be quite strong.
  • To me the pistachio was really crucial in bringing this recipe together. Brought some textural variation, and its nuttiness also complemented the sort of organic(?) taste of the mastic.

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.