Friday, January 28, 2011

Poppy Seeds Grapefruit Torte

It's F's big 40 birthday today.  Last year on this same day was the first time I really baked a cake.  One of my major strength and later turns out to be also my weakness is that I certainly do like to think big.  "How hard can it be?" I tend to believe I can achieve it all as long as I try, and things will eventually come together.  Well, not so true in baking, I found.  So of course, the cake I baked for F's birthday last year was a disaster.  

Then I took the Baking Arts course at GB and it absolutely changed my life.  It turned me into one-who-would-give-up-the-lunch-break-and-go-home-to-bake-as-long-as-there-is-45-minutes kind of person.  It also turned me into a cake-stand and baking pan collector.  I say "collector" because, to me, the thrill is to go out and buy these things... not so much to use them. I have also become a smart coupon-clipping grocery shopper because I have to stock up on butter, sugar and whipping cream and all those wonderful things from time to time.  

I chose this recipe because well, I have all the ingredients at home.  I think the white chocolate mousse would go very well with the tanginess of the grapefruits.  My first time making chocolate mousse, I found it a bit hard to handle in terms of frosting the cake and pipping the rosettes.  I tried piping waves on top of the cake but the mousse just didn't spread that well.  The mousse tastes really good, though.  It's rich and creamy but not too sweet.  The cake layer is light and spongy, topped with the refreshing grapefruit segments and white chocolate mousse.  

Everyone agrees that this is a much better cake than the one we had last year! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chinese Almond Cookies

A little guy really pissed me off today.  It may sound silly that I was mad at a kid.  Perhaps I should say that I was just disappointed.  Pissed at him, disappointed in myself.  I literally felt the pain when I could not help this little someone I care so much about.  To put myself in his shoes, to really see things from his perspective, it is much easier said than done.  I guess that's why people say that they keep learning from their kids.  

I was pretty much speechless tonight and decided to bake at 1 am.  Baking calms me down.  This recipe is supposed to yield 42 cookies.  I made them bigger and came up with 24.  I also used half butter and half shortening.  Unfortunately I forgot about not having almond extract at home, so I found the cookies lack of almond flavour.  Other than that, these cookies are absolutely easy to make and very tasty.  They are perfect for celebrating Chinese New Year.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tang Zhong Toast

I just bought this WS Traditional Finish Pullman Loaf Pan the other day and used it to bake the Tang Zhong toast.  This recipe called for baking time of 30 minutes, however, the instruction that comes with the loaf pan indicated to bake for 40 minutes.  I did it for 35.  The centre was soft but it has air bubbles, I probably didn't knead the dough enough.  I keep thinking of all the different varieties of bread I can bake using this loaf pan.  I can't wait to let my sister in-law try the pan out.  She is a much better baker than I.  


A) Dough starter
Bread flour         20g
Water                80ml
Unsalted butter  10g
Salt                   ¼ tsp

B) Milk              130ml

C) Dough
Bread flour         300g
Milk powder       15g
Sugar                 25g
Instant yeast      1½ tsp
Salt                   ¼ tsp
Water               20 – 30ml
Unsalted butter 20g (room temperature)

  1. Cook ingredients (A) in pot on low heat, whisk until a paste formed. Scrape it to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add ingredient (B) to cool the temperature.
  3. Add ingredients (C) excluding water and butter to the bowl.  Start mixing.  It will be very sticky.
  4. After everything well mixed, add water.  Keep kneading until the water is evenly mixed in.
  5. Add butter. After kneading in the bowl for about 30 times, all moisture should be absorbed and the dough should be smooth.
  6. Take it to a floured surface and keep kneading for 10 more minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into a ball, put it in a slightly greased bowl, seam side down.  Cover with plastic and leave it in a warm place.
  8. After 50-60 mins, size of the dough should be about doubled.  Punch it down and knead a few times on a lightly floured surface again to remove bubbles.
  9. Put the dough in a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan.  Press it down.  Wait for second proof rising up to about the height of the loaf pan.
  10. Put it in preheated 390F oven, middle rack for approx. 30 mins.