A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
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):
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.
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
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!.
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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.
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.
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:
I'm forwarding these awards to some of my favourite bloggers whom I got to know when I first started blogging:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.