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The BloggerAid Cookbook

No Knead Brioche (with M&M Peanuts)

Woohoo! It's about time! I'm back online again with my spanking new hand-me down laptop (Pierre's new toy finally arrived). I was slowly withering away in withdrawal syndrome of not being able to write new entry on my blog and keeping in touch with my readers and friends for a month. However something good did come out of this, like Little One getting 110% of mommy's attention and the house too (yes, the dreaded housework got done faster). Being without a computer for a month taught me quite a few things but I'm not going to bore you with this right now (later, I promise). Ah... lots of news and recipes to share with all of you.

Before we dive into my new recipe, I want to draw your attention to some NEW features on the Blog (courtesy of Pierre's programming talents):

  • Print button (bottom right) - to print your recipe easily
  • Translate button (bottom right) - different languages like French or Italian etc. I have checked the French translation and it was pretty good, even the measurement units get translated.
  • Picture of each dish when you do a search by main ingredient or cuisine

And the following recipes to look forward to:

Now just before my infamous laptop failed me, I joined a food blogger book club This Book Makes Me Cook - besides reading the nominated book of the month (of course), we also make a book inspired dish as the club is aptly named. I'm very late at this but hey, better late than never! Anyway, April book review was Can you keep a secret by Sophie Kinsella - a light hearted and humorous chick book with kind of predictable scenarios (sometimes a bit over-the-top) but a good read all the same. I enjoyed it thoroughly, even laughed out loud many times at some hilarious situations. The story begins with the heroine, Emma Corrigan, who is aviophobia (fear of flying) babbling out all her secrets to a total stranger seated next to her on flight during a very bad air turbulence, thinking the plane was going to crash. Unfortunately for her, that stranger unexpectedly become a permanent fixture in her life.

There was a company family picnic day scene in this book that inspired me to make this no-knead brioche. I figured that if it works on bread, no reason why I can't make a brioche the same way? Et voilà! It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. From now on, I don't have to knead my brioche anymore - makes my life a lot simpler (pssst... because I suck at kneading big time). Just stir everything in, let it rise, punch it down and let it rise over-night covered in the fridge or a very cool place. Bake it the next morning and you have a lovely delicious breakfast.

No Knead Brioche (with M&M Peanuts)
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 11 g dried yeast
  • 60 ml milk or buttermilk (lukewarm)
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 45 g sugar
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 125 g salted butter (melted, cooled)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a few handful of peanut M&M's
No Knead Brioche
Directions
  1. In a big bowl, mix 1 tbsp plain flour with dried yeast and stir in lukewarm milk making sure it is well mixed. Leave it for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix the rest of plain flour and sugar together. Pour it on top of the yeast mixture.
  3. Make a well in the centre, pour in lightly beaten eggs, cooled melted butter and vanilla essence.
  4. Stir until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Let it rise on the table for about 2 hours or until it doubles in volume.
  6. Lightly punch it down and pull/fold the outer edge of the dough to centre.
  7. Cover it with a plastic film and let it proof in the refrigerator or a very cool place overnight.
  8. Lightly flour your work surface, turn the dough out and lightly dust it with flour. Roll it out into a big rectangle.
  9. Sprinkle M&Ms all over the surface.
  10. Roll in from the longest side like a swiss roll. Cut it into 6 or 8 even slices and arrange them loosely in the prepared round baking pan lined with baking paper.
  11. Melt butter and sugar together in a small bowl. Brush this mixture on top of the brioche and let it rise for 1 hour.
  12. Bake it in preheated oven at 160°C (325°F - gas mark 3) for 40 minutes.
  13. Coat the top with some melted buttery sugary mixture again and let it cool.
  14. Serve it with a cup of tea or coffee. Savour it.
No Knead Brioche
The Verdict

It really tastes as good as the kneaded brioche. Pierre suggested using M&M's instead of the traditional pralines: OK, so it looks like a clown that has been thrown into a carwash, but it actually taste great and the peanuts still give the same crunchy sensation as the pralines

Notes

If you are living in cool climate country like me, I let my dough rise overnight outside on my window sill in spring or autumn but the coolest part of the house during winter.

I'm sending this No Knead Brioche recipe to YeastSpotting!.

You might like this too:

23 comments on this post.

Cream Cheese Filled Buns (Steamed)

Pierre & I are so proud of Little One: she got accepted for Taekwondo class. I know it's nothing special but she is only 3½ years old and the minimum age for this class is 5 years old with a few 4 years old accepted on a case to case basis. Last week, my friend, Sharon checked with the teacher if Little One could join his class together with her son. He was a bit hesitant about her ability to follow instructions, discipline etc. but he decided to give her the benefit of the doubt after Sharon sang praises about Little One. Needless to say, she was all excited and looking forward to this day, talking non-stop about it and practicing her karate chop-chop since last week. So at the tryout on Wednesday, wooed and impressed the teacher she did. When I went to pick her up after her class, he kept praising her and giving me his thumbs up, telling me that she is good as those 5-6 years old in his class. Woohoo! Way to go, Little One! Bullies, watch out! This one will kick your ass if you dare to mess with her. LOL!

To celebrate this occassion, I decided to experiment with the left over dough from my Chinese Steamed Buns. I was curious to see how the buns would turned out if I incorporated some beetroot juice into the dough. The dough was a beautiful pinkish red but after steaming, it lost all the red tone, leaving a dull blotchy looking bun. But with a few strokes of brush of beetroot juice over the hot steaming buns, we got ourselves that beautiful red bun again.

This time around, I tried it out with cheese fillings using Laughing Cow (La Vache Qui Rit). I would recommend to try these cheese: cream cheese, blue cheese (if you like blue cheese), Saint Nectaire, Mont d'Or or any cheese that could melt easily.

The Verdict

It is so surprisingly delicious. The Laughing Cow cheese which is normally very mildly flavoured tasted as strong as some of those strong cheese. Even my father-in-law was surprised. Be careful when eating it because the melted cheese is still hot and it simply oozes out of the bun when you take a bite of it. I'm not a very cheesy person but I love the taste of this creamy cheese filled buns so much that I'm going to make more of it for breakfast. It's so yummy.

Cream Cheese Filled Buns

I also would like to thank lovely Renee of Flamingo Musings and Asha of Fork-Spoon-Knife for these 2 lovely awards: Happy 101 & Honest Scrap. For being the proud owner of these awards, I have to share some honest things about myself. So here they go in no particular order:

  1. A self-confessed internet addict just like my significant other.
  2. Housework is definitely not my cup of tea as much as I try to like it.
  3. Spiders are my worst nightmare even tiny ones are enough to freak me out.
  4. Flowers makes me smile and lift up my spirit.
  5. Babies and children simply brings out the mother hen in me and make me go ga ga over them.
  6. Book stores are my favourite place. I could spent hours there just browsing through the books.
  7. Jigsaw puzzles relax me.
  8. Making jewelry is my other secret passion.
  9. I have a bit of wanderlust in me.
  10. History is my all time favourite subject in school. Even today, I still love history.

I'm forwarding these awards to some of my favourite bloggers whom I got to know when I first started blogging:

blog awards
27 comments on this post.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Chinese Steamed Buns are called baozi or popularly known as bao, bau, pow, pau. They are plain or filled buns (bread-like/brioche made of flour) that comes in various forms, with a variety of fillings (meat or vegetarian). In its bun like form, it is quite similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. In the Chinese culture, we eat this for breakfast or as snacks in between meals or during a meal.

One of my childhood favourite bao is Birthday Buns made in the shape of a peach with a lotus-seed paste fillings. Why in the form of peach? Peach is a symbol of long life in the Chinese culture. When I was a little girl growing up back in my village, we used to live in a typical big Chinese household of 3 generations under 1 roof - grandparents, uncles & aunties, cousins. That was back in the 70s before all of us were relocated to our new spanking multi-storey like pigeon holes home HDB flat (Housing Development Board) in the city. But before that happened, my grandparents used to host grand birthday celebrations with about 10 tables or more at home on their birthdays each year. My cousins & I used to sneak into the kitchen during the celebration to help ourselves with another one of those delicious and beautiful looking birthday buns. Sometimes the cooks caught us and kick us out of the kitchen but sometimes, he would kindly give one to each of us before sending us back to our parents.

When Jamie of Life's a feast who is hosting this months Bread Baking Day throws a « Baking Bread for a Birthday Party! » theme, I thought this is a wonderful occasion for me to try my hands at making Chinese Birthday Buns to honour her birthday in January.

Eager to bring some peach bao to Jamie's birthday bash, I plunged into this task with zealous energy and concentration. Little did I know forming bao in a shape of a peach would be this hard. I tried several times to shape it the best I could but failed miserably; it always turned out like a round bun after steaming. Then I thought every party needs some party animals, so I decided to make some party animals for her instead.

Some recipes calls for bao flour or Hongkong flour (gives your bao a whiter colour than normal flour but Hongkong flour is very expensive if you live overseas), while others uses a traditional method which takes 3 days but gives a fluffy outcome. I opted for a simpler recipe that is very suitable for making home-made bao using plain flour (easily available) and the result is pretty good. And since I live in France now, I decided to give these bun a little twist in East meets West version. And please don't spit out your coffee or fall off your chair upon seeing my artistic work!

I'm also sending my some of party animals to YeastSpotting! team as well as to celebrate World Nutella Day (5 Feb 2010) created by Ms Adventures in Italy & Bleeding Espresso.

Chinese Steamed Buns
Ingredients
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 5 g instant yeast or normal dry yeast
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 160 ml water (approx)
  • 3 g butter
  • some beetroot juice for colouring

Filling

  • nutella
  • caramel
  • jams (or whatever sweet fillings you like)
Directions
  1. In a big bowl, mix the yeast with some lukewarm water and let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and the rest of the water in the bowl. Stir the mixture until it comes together like a wet dough.
  3. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. To see if it is elastic, pinch a small portion of dough and stretch it with your fingers to see if it is stretchable. If it breaks up easily, continue to knead until you are able to stretch it sans problem.
  4. Divide dough into small portions (any size you want). Shape it into a ball, flatten it and roll it out in round shape.
  5. Drop a bit of caramel or nutella in the middle of the bun and wrap it up. Pinch the edges to seal the dough together. Make sure it is sealed properly
  6. Shape it into a peach shape. For a rabbit, shape it into oval and make a snip on the dough on top with scissors to make the ears.
  7. Put a piece of paper underneath the shaped bun and leave it aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Steam over high heat for 6 - 12 minutes (depending on how small or big is your bun). Remove and spray with beetroot colouring on top. For rabbits, dot the eyes with flat tip of a toothpick.
  9. It is best eaten warm or lukewarm.
Chinese Steamed BunsChinese Steamed Buns
The Verdict

My little animal friends are so cute, aren't they. Guess what are they?

Mmm...these are so good. The caramel just simply oozes out and so did the nutella version. They are even better than the traditional version with red bean paste or lotus seed paste. But be careful when eating it, the caramel and nutella filling can be pretty hot!

And no, it's not a hamster or a mouse. I know it looks really like one but it supposed to be a rabbit. LOL! I personally think I've done quite a good job - not bad for a first try at creating an animal form bun. It could have turned out looking worse. LOL!

Notes

If you couldn't make the buns immediately after making the dough, you can let it rise in the bowl with a damp cloth drape over the bowl. And if you have any leftover dough, leave it in the bowl with a plastic film or in covered box in the fridge.

These buns can be kept covered in the fridge, or frozen. You just need to steam it again when you want to eat it.

Chinese Steamed BunsChinese Steamed Buns
37 comments on this post.

Brioche Aux Pralines

This is one of my hubby's favourite desserts. When we used to live in Nantes, my mother-in-law would always bring one of these home whenever she returned from Auvergne. For those who haven't read my earlier posts, this brioche is a specialty of the French region of Auvergne. What makes it so special is not only the taste of the brioche but those lovely eye-catching bright red pralines in the brioche that captivate our attention, entice us and make us drool... and awfully sinful too - rich in butter and sugar - an ultimate comfort food.

I was immediately taken by it at the very first bite of this brioche, I was fascinated and interested to know how to make this awesome dessert. Then I was told that brioche is not easy to master... my enthusiasm got dampened. It wasn't until we moved to the Auvergne region that my fascination with this brioche renewed. Finding the red pralines on the supermarket shelf by chance was sort of a calling... Still, I hesitated, doubted about my baking skills... Could I do it? Hubby was confident that I could do it and told me 'What have you got to lose? If you don't try, you will never know.' With that in mind, one evening, I decided to just take the plunge, with hubby sitting opposite the dinning table surfing with his laptop while Little One did her colouring at the other end.:-) My two favourite people in the same room to cheer me on. Every now and then while kneading the dough, doubts floated through my mind and I would ask hubby absently 'Do you think the consistency is correct? I think so, what do you think? Do you think it needs more flour? etc. Hubby naturally doesn't really know the answer to those questions but all the same, he tries to give me reassuring answers 'yes, dear, I think it's looking correct.' or 'yeah, perhaps a little bit more flour, what to do you think?'.

Thank you hubby for your confidence in me and your encouragement.

Brioche Aux Pralines
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 40 ml warm milk
  • a packet of yeast (instant or normal)
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 45 g sugar
  • vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 125 g salted butter (cut into cubes)
  • 22 pralines (roughly break them with a hammer in a plastic bag)
  • some melted butter mixed with some sugar (for coating)
Brioche aux PralinesBrioche aux PralinesBrioche aux Pralines
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 160°C (325°F - gas mark 3). Line a 20 cm (dia) round baking pan, bottom and side with baking paper.
  2. In a big bowl, combine warm milk, 1 tbsp flour and yeast together making sure it is well mixed. Leave it for 15 minutes.
  3. Add in the rest of the flour, sugar, 1 egg and vanilla essence. Knead it with the dough hooks that comes with your electric beater. Mix till everything is combined.
  4. Add in the rest of the eggs and continue kneading it. Continue kneading until the dough gives smooth, silky texture and slightly pale yellow. The dough will look a bit wet and glossy when you stop kneading it. It will also be slightly sticky to touch.
  5. Knead in the butter until it is well worked into the dough - no butter lumps. The dough is done when it is smooth and elastic. It will still feels slightly sticky but it doesn't stick to your finger.
  6. Cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise for an hour or until it doubles in size.
  7. Stir it down and knead it a bit (with the dough hook), then cover it and leave the dough in a cool place to rise for 5 hours.
  8. After 5 hours of rising, mix in the broken pralines. Knead it until it is well distributed in the dough.
  9. Lightly flour your work surface, turn the dough out and lightly dust it with flour. Roll it out into a big rectangle.
  10. Roll in from the longest side like a swiss roll. Cut it into 6 or 8 even slices and arrange them loosely in the prepared round baking pan.
  11. Melt butter and sugar together in a small bowl. Brush this mixture on top of the brioche and let it rise for 1 hour.
  12. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Coat the top with some melted buttery sugary mixture again and let it cool.
  14. Serve it with a cup of tea. Savour it.
Brioche aux PralinesBrioche aux PralinesBrioche aux Pralines
The Verdict

You know how we all have some "signature" dishes - things that we do so well people keep asking for us to make some more ? Well this is one of them. If you let me brag a little: it actually does taste better than the best ones I ever bought in a bakery:-). It's buttery, soft, sweet... Unlike some other brioches I've tried this one isn't dry and you don't need to drink anything with it to "get it down". It's also generously stuffed with pralines and they are well spread out everywhere. And the salted butter gives an extra kick to this brioche that isn't found in those sold in the bakeries. This brioche rocks!

Brioche aux PralinesBrioche aux Pralines
Notes

Note that during winter period, I can make the dough at night and leave it to rise overnight at the coolest part of our house and bake it the next morning. However as the weather is warming up to summer, I would suggest not to leave it overnight or let it rise overly long as there is a risk of over fermentation, thus giving your brioche a funny taste and smell.

This recipe can also be done by hand but it will be a very sticky affair.:-) At the beginning, it will feel like a lump of sticky mess but never mind that, continue kneading (dip your hand with a bit of flour now and then in between kneads). After a while, you will noticed that the dough is slowly coming together and stick less to your hands and bowl. The dough will be pale yellow, soft and elastic and slightly sticky. Knead in the butter, flour your hand a bit now and then a few times (but not too many) if it is too sticky. Dough will be become elastic and very gluey feeling and the dough should be able to stick off any sticky dough on your fingers cleaning. Continue to knead until dough becomes very smooth, elastic, pulls away from the bowl cleanly and you can lift it off with your hand. Once you got that, cover and leave it to rise and follow the rest of the instructions above.

Brioche aux Pralines
20 comments on this post.