Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chocolate Loaf

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For this week, I've made Tessa Kiros's Chocolate Loaf. This is not a cake, but a chocolate yeasted bread, a recipe from her cookbook, Apples For Jam, of which I did not have the pleasure of owning it yet! This recipe however can be found in another book of Tessa's, "Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection", which I bought almost a year ago. This book is a collection of selected recipes from five of her best-selling cookbooks ; Falling Cloudberries, Apples For Jam, Piri Piri Starfish, Venezia and Food From Many Greek Kitchens.

A basic straight forward bread to make. I use the stand mixer to knead the dough. I have used instant yeast to replace fresh yeast, using half the weight of fresh yeast. And since it is instant yeast, I whisk the yeast into the warm milk to dissolve and proceed with the recipe, without having to wait for the yeast to foam, if fresh yeast or active yeast is used. This bread is baked in a 12 x 4-1/2 inch loaf tin. I've used my pullman loaf pan of that size, and the baked bread turns out not really high. To get a taller loaf, I would use a smaller pan the next time.

The loaf turns out wonderful with moist and soft crumbs. Surprisingly, this bread has that bitterness of the cocoa powder, but in a very nice "cocoa-y" taste. You would want to eat slices of these bread , either plain or toasted, with some sweet jam. I had mine, spread with one of my favourite jam, Lemon and Lime Marmalade from Marks & Spencer. Makes a lovely breakfast with a morning cuppa.

Chocolate Loaf
(adapted from Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection)
Makes 1 loaf
15gm (1/2 oz) fresh yeast (I use 7gm instant yeast)
40gm (1-1/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
310ml (10-3/4 fl oz/1-1/4 cups) milk
400gm (14 oz) bread (strong) flour or plain (all purpose) flour
40gm (1-1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
40gm (1-1/2 oz) butter, melted

Crumble the yeast into a large bowl and add the sugar. Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until it feels just a bit hotter than your finger, then add it to the yeast. Stir through and leave for 10 minutes or so, until the surface starts to turn spongy. (I added the instant yeast to the milk, stir to dissolve and proceed to add the rest of the ingredients). Add the flour, cocoa powder, butter and a pinch of salt and mix it well. Knead with your hands for about 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic with no lumps. (I use the stand mixer with the dough hook to knead the dough for about 10 minutes). If your dough is very soft, leave it in the bowl and just punch it around and squeeze it with one hand, holding the bowl with the other. Cover the bowl with a heavy tea towel and leave it in a warm and draught-free place for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until it has puffed right up. Butter and flour a 30x11 cm (12x4-1/2 inch) loaf (bar) tin.

Knock the dough down to flatten it and shape it to the size of the tin. Drop it in, cover the tin with the tea towel and leave it again in a warm place for anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour, until the dough has puffed up over the rim of the tin. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4).

Remove the tea towel and bake the loaf for about 25 minutes, or until the top is firm and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Tip out onto a rack to cool. Once it has cooled down completely, this loaf can be frozen (even just a chunk of it) in a plastic bag and saved for another moment in time.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
February 2017 Potluck


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #14 hosted by 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

These Parmesan Chicken Nuggets are a much healthier version, since they are baked and not fried. Super easy to make, and delicious to eat. A green salad on the side, with your favourite dipping sauce for the nuggets, would make a wonderful after school meal or to enjoy with the family during the weekends. 

Chicken breast fillet, cubed and dipped into beaten egg, then rolled in the mixture of breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, salt and pepper.  Tip : I pan-fried one coated piece to check on the seasoning, adjust the seasoning if necessary. Arrange on well-oiled baking tray, (I have omitted the use of foil), and bake, turning halfway through, until cooked, about 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, the nuggets are cooked but still pale, so I have turn on the broiler to brown the crumbs for a couple of minutes on both sides. 

For the dipping sauce, I have used mayonnaise, mixed with some sriracha sauce, stir to combine.

These chicken nuggets are moist and very tasty. Delicious with the dipping sauce. We had this with some green salad on the side. 

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
(Williams-Sonoma : Chicken Nights by Kate McMillan)
1-1/2 cups (6oz/185gm) panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup (1 oz/30gm) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I use 1 heaped tablespoon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, about 2 lb (1kg) total, cut into 1-1/2-inch (4-cm) chunks

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, line with aluminium foil, and coat again.
On a large plate, whisk together the panko, Parmesan, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Beat the eggs in a large, shallow bowl.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece in the eggs, then dredge in the seasoned bread crumbs. Place the nuggets on the prepared pan as you work. Bake the nuggets, turning once about halfway through, until the coating is nicely browned and the chicken is opaque throughout, 15-20 minutes.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #14 hosted by 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Victoria Sponge

This month, at The Cake Slice Bakers, the four recipes selected from the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, which we are currently baking from are ;

Victoria Sponge
Red Velvet Cake
Almond Tart with Honey
Chocolate Cheesecake

Members can choose any of those cakes to bake, and my choice is Victoria Sponge Cake. A very easy and simple cake to make, baked in two pans, then sandwiched together with jam and cream. I've made half a recipe and used two 5" round cake pans to bake the cakes. Batter is easy and quick to prepare, uses self-raising flour and baking powder. I have reduced the sugar slightly to scant 1/3 cup for half a recipe, and the sweetness works out great. For the jam, I've used my own homemade strawberry jam.

The Creme Chantilly is made by whipping heavy cream, confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract. To make the Creme Chantilly, I've used about half a cup of heavy cream with one tablespoon confectioners' sugar with a small amount of vanilla extract. And I've used only half of  the Creme Chantilly to assemble the cake.

Assemble the cake by using one of the two cakes as the base (trim off the top of the cake to level it), spread some strawberry jam and then the Creme Chantilly. Top with the remaining cake and dust generously with confectioners' sugar. 

Cake is deliciously soft, buttery and spongy. I'm glad I've reduced the sugar slightly. The cake is not too sweet, with my not-too-sweet homemade strawberry jam, and the Creme Chantilly, this makes a lovely dessert.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Baked Eggs

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), it is about Food We Love. We are to select a recipe from Heidi Swanson to showcase our favourite ingredients. I've chosen to make Baked Eggs, which has all of our favourite ingredients ; eggs, cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices. 

Heidi's recipe uses pita bread which is cut into quarters and use to line muffin cups. I have some leftover tortilla wrap so that was what I've used instead. For the filling, Heidi has used spring onions, but she has given the option of using regular onions, so I've used red onions. To cook the filling, heat a little oil, saute chopped onions, chopped garlic, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes, and season with some salt. Go easy with the salt, I used one pinch of salt and it was enough (Heidi says to use two big pinches, and I've noticed that Heidi uses a lot of salt in most of her dishes). I cooked the onions about 4 to 5 minutes, and add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes until the tomatoes have softened. 

The tomato filling is delicious. I like the blend of the spices. It would be lovely made into mini tarts, topped with some cheese before baking. For meat lovers, some bacon or ham mixed into the filling would be delicious! This would be great on some toasted baguettes too! 

To make the Baked Eggs, line the muffin pan with torn pita bread, or with tortilla wrap, which I have used, then fill with some of the tomato filling. Crack an egg in the centre. You may find some of the whites could not fit into the cup if the egg used is large. I find it easier to crack an egg in a small bowl, scoop out the yolk with a spoon and place on the filling, then pour the egg whites over until it comes to the level of the muffin cup. The eggs I've used are large, so there are some egg whites leftover. Bake until the whites are set, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately while still hot, sprinkled with some chopped coriander and more chili flakes if desired. 

Baked Eggs
(adapted from : 101cookbooks, Heidi Swanson)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 big pinches ground cumin
2 big pinches chili flakes
2 big pinches smoked paprika
2 big pinches fine sea salt
1 cup spring (or regular) onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 pieces of pita breads, cut into quarters (I use wholemeal tortilla wrap)
6 large organic eggs
Garnish : finely chopped tomatoes, chili flakes, cilantro (optional)
Special equipment : standard 12 muffin tin

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the cumin, chili flakes, paprika, salt, onion and garlic. Cook until onions soften, just a minute or two. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes soften up a bit, another two to three minutes. Set aside.

Take six pieces (quarters) of the pita bread, gently open each of them and tuck them into the muffin tin - every other slot. If the the pita splits, no worries, just criss-cross the bread into a nest or tart shell of sorts so there is coverage across the bottom so the egg and filling won't run out.

Spoon a bit of the tomato filling into each pita cup, dividing it amongst the six cups. Now crack a single egg into each pita cup. You don't want the cups to overflow, hold back a bit of the egg white if you need to. Also, you don't want the egg yolk to jet up toward the sky, try to ensure it is level with the whites or the yolks can dry out while baking.

Carefully place in the oven (racks in the centre) and bake for another 15 minutes, until the whiles have set and become opaque. Serve hot garnished with a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes, chili flakes and/or a bit cilantro.

Makes six egg cups.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Food We Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sunday In Paris Chocolate Cake

Happy Valentine's Day!

The selected recipes from Baking Chez Moi at Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) for this week are, Sunday In Paris Chocolate Cake and Nun's Beignets. Since it is Valentine's Day, I've made Sunday In Paris Chocolate Cake. I like the name of this cake! I've baked the cake in two small heart-shaped pans. Time to put those pans to work, which I have never used before ever since I bought them years ago!

The batter is very easy and simple to prepare, does not take much time at all. There's a small amount of creamy peanut butter used. To prepare the melted chocolate to be used in the batter, I use the microwave oven to soften the chocolate and another bowl to boil the heavy cream, instead of using the stove. Once the batter is done and divided between the two pans, they are baked for 35 minutes. Leave to cool a little, unmould and leave until completely cool before pouring over the ganache.

I've reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup for the batter, and did not use the optional chopped peanuts for both the batter and topping, as some of us are not fond of peanuts.

The ganache sets almost instantly without any need to refrigerate. Since I did not use any chopped peanuts or chopped chocolate for the topping, I've made some wavy lines on top and decorate with rose wafers which I found in my baking pantry last week! No idea when I bought those!

Cake is not very moist, but it is not dry either, it is very nice. I like the soft crumb texture and thought that the creamy peanut butter adds a delicious taste to the chocolaty cake. A lovely cake, perfect for Valentine's Day, or any other day!

Stop by Tuesdays With Dorie to see what the other bakers thought of this cake.

I'm sharing this post with Cookbook Countdown #14 hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cinnamon Rolls

I'm back after a few weeks of blogging rest. It was an unplanned rest, came about when I hurt my back while cleaning my kitchen. I tried to lift the microwave oven. And hurt my back. Spend the first few days lying down (ouch!). If you have experienced with back pain before (this is not my first either!), you would know that it takes weeks for the pain to subside. So I have not been baking for the past few weeks or do anything much except to finish reading three novels. And no, I will not be lifting the microwave oven again (or any other heavy stuffs!) on my own anytime in the future! 

I made these Cinnamon Rolls as I was itching to bake some sweet bread. The original recipe is called Gooey Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese frosting. I did not have any cream cheese so I omitted the frosting. 

The dough is enriched with milk, butter and eggs, similar to a brioche, soft and smooth, and easy to work with. The recipe makes 16 rolls, all of which are supposed fit in a 13x9-inch pan. I could not fit all of the rolls in the pan, so 12 rolls goes into the 13x9-inch pan, and the balance  4 rolls are placed in a 6" round cake pan. 

I mixed the ingredients for the filling ; ground cinnamon, brown sugar, orange zest in a bowl. The dough is divided into two halves, and each half is rolled out to 9 by 14 inch rectangle. Spread the rolled dough with some softened butter and spread half the filling on each, roll up the dough, Swiss roll style. Slice into 8 even slices and place in the greased pan, cut side up. I have spread one dough half with some raisins over the filling, and leaving the other half only with the cinnamon filling.

The rolls smells wonderful while baking. 

Very nice when eaten while still warm. Soft moist crumbs with sweet cinnamony taste and the fragrant orange zest,  and fruity bite of the raisins. Lovely with a cup of tea. The rolls are not as soft on the next day, but can be reheated wrapped in foil, about ten minutes in the oven. 

Cinnamon Rolls
(Williams-Sonoma : Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw)
makes 16 buns
for the dough :
1 package (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
3/4 cup (6 fl oz/180ml) whole milk, warmed (110F/43C)
1/4 cup (4 oz/125gm) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4-1/2 cups (22-1/2 oz/705gm) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp (3 oz/90gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks

for the filling :
4 tbsp (2 oz/60gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
2/3 cup (5 oz/155gm) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp water

To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. (I used instant yeast, so I've skipped the foaming step, simply whisk together with the milk and continue on with the next step). Add the granulated sugar, eggs, 4-1/2 cups flour, and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, adding a little more flour if needed, until the ingredients come together. Toss in the butter and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles, 1-1/2 - 2 hours.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half.
Roll out 1 dough half into a rectangle about 9 by 14 inches (23 by 35cm). Spread with half of the butter, then sprinkle evenly with half of the brown sugar, half of the cinnamon, and half of the grated zest. (I mixed the ground cinnamon, brown sugar and orange zest in a bowl, divide into two portions) Starting at the long side closest to you, roll the rectangle away from you, forming a log. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in half of the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients, and arrange the slices in the other half of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before baking.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F (200C). Brush the buns lightly with the beaten egg. Bake until the rolls are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a roll comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Let the rolls cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack, then spread with the frosting while they are still warm. Pull the rolls apart and enjoy while they're warm.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #14 hosted by