Homesick Buns? Yes, I am homesick of Sarawak Style Butter Buns..

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UPDATED POST ON 11-10-2014

Craving for the buns that I can get hold in Singapore, and I have decided to prepare these buns to surprise my wife. We usually bought back from Sarawak if we visited our home town. There is no change in the recipe but I have decided to use the BASIC BREAD DOUGH RECIPE instead of the tangzhong dough recipe here.  Please refer here for the BASIC BREAD DOUGH RECIPE. I find that the basic dough is much faster without compromise quality of the buns.

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INTRODUCTION

This is a rather simple basic bun of which I am yet to trace the history. The uniqueness of this bun is its filling. The filling is made of butter, sugar and flour. Throughout my years overseas, I have yet to find buns that have this filling. The nearest that I have came across is butter milk buns where milk powder is used used instead of pure butter.

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I came from Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak is located in the island of Borneo. Since young, I have been eating these buns for breakfasts and snacks.

I missed the buns. The fillings are aromatic. It is sweet and buttery in flavour. When I made the first batch 2 days ago, I posted my pictures in the Google plus certain baking communities and my Facebook timeline, I was surprised that there are a number of readers and my friends are requesting for the recipe. What shocked me is that most of them in Google plus communities have never seen or eaten the buns before. Apparently, they are either curious about the fillings based on my descriptions.

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As for the first batch, I did not take any measurements, I have decided to do the second batch so as to share the recipe with the readers.

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SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

Sarawak style butter buns shall not be confused with the butter soft buns that are mentioned in other recipe books. The so called butter buns in recipe books are mostly refer to buns with no filling. It shall also not to be confused with the Hong Kong cocktail buns where the fillings are shredded coconuts and butters. In addition, they are also different from the so called “butter buns” whereby a butter cube is wrapped by the dough and when baked, the butter melts into the bread. Since there are possibilities of misunderstanding, I shall call these special buns as “Sarawak Style Butter Buns”.

Butter Buns – Normal buttery buns with no filling. (pic courtesy:  http://en.christinesrecipes.com)

Hong Kong Cocktail Buns – Fillings are shredded coconut and butter http://cornercafe.wordpress.com

Buttery Buns – Butter in the centre of the bun and melted when baked. This is also the type of buns commonly found in the famous Malaysian chain store called “Rotiboy” .http://thenewartofbaking.blogspot.sg

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Sarawak Style Butter Buns – Butter fillings. Found in Sarawak only.

   


THE PROCESS OF MAKING SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

This illustration will use the Tangzhong method of bread making and it involved 5 stages in the following orders:

Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux) ..– Best to prepare the night before

Part 2 – Preparing the Dough for the 1st Proofing

Part 3 – Preparing the Butter Fillings

Part 4 – Preparing the Dough – Wrapping the Fillings and 2nd Proofing

Part 5 – The Baking Process

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TANZHONG METHOD OF BREAD MAKING

Tangzhong (汤种)is a relatively new method of bread making and the main advantages of it is because bread made using tangzhong were usually soft and fluffy and  able to keep longer. Previously, bread improver were used to make the bread softer for a longer period of time. However, this method have used all natural ingredients without any chemicals  to get the same effect.

According to Cookipedia:

“Tang zhong (also known as a ‘water roux‘) is a method used in bread making to create soft and fluffy bread which was originated by the Japanese. However, it was popularised throughout south-east Asia in the 1990s by a Chinese woman called Yvonne Chen who wrote a book called The 65° Bread Doctor. Using this method also allows bread to stay fresh for longer without needing to use artificial preservatives.

To make the tang zhong, you mix together one part flour with five parts liquid (by weight) to make a smooth paste. This is usually water, but can be milk or a mixture of both. The mixture is then heated in a saucepan until it reaches exactly 65°C (149°F), removed from the hob, covered and left to cool until it is down to room temperature, when it will be ready to use. It would be useful have a digital thermometer with a probe when making this as other types of thermometer tend to be too large. If you are not making your bread immediately, the tang zhong will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but will need to be brought up to room temperature before use. The tang zhong is added to the main flour with the liquid and mixed in and kneaded as normal.

The amount of tang zhong used should be about 35% of the weight of the main flour. It is best to make a little extra, because the liquid will evaporate slightly during heating. To make a loaf weighing about 1kg, I would suggest using 480g flour, 200g liquid and 170g tang zhong (made with 30g flour and 150g liquid), which will give a hydration of about 68%. You can of course adjust the amount of liquid either side of the 200g, but the tang zhong proportions should not be adjusted. “

(http://www.cookipedia.co.uk/recipes_wiki/Tang_zhong)

You will note that my recipe for Tang zhong (that are detailed below) are different from what is mentioned above. You can either use my recipe or the recipe as mentioned above.

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PROCESS OF MAKING THE SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

PART 1 – MAKING THE TANG ZHONG (WATER ROUX) …..

What is required

  • 50g bread flour
  • 50g boiling water (water should be boiling hot, otherwise you have to put it over the stove to cook it)

Steps of preparation

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  • Get ready the bread flour in a mixing bowl. Pour the boiling hot water into the flour, mixed well and shaped into a ball.
  • Let the ball cooled down at room temperature. Once cooled, covered bowl with a cling wrap and keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • This recipe will make about 90 g of tanzhong. If you cannot finish tanzhong, you can put it in a container and keep it in the fridge for future use.

Update:

The picture below is from my second batch whereby I have used the method specified in the Cookipedia above and is append here for your reference.

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What is required

  • 25 g of bread flour
  • 125 g of cold water

Steps of preparation

  • In a metal mixing bowl, mixed the water with the cold water. Stirred until well mixed.
  • Place the flour mixture under medium to low heat until the mixture boils.
  • Continue to stir until it resembles some types of glue or when the mixtures start to dissociate itself from the wall of the bowl. Cool and keep it in the refrigerator for the portion that was not used.

PART 2 – PREPARING THE DOUGH – 1st Proofing

What is required

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  • 180 g of bread flour (you can substitute 5 g of bread flour with milk powder, in that case you need only 175 g of bread flour)
  • 30 g of sugar
  • 4 g of instant dry yeast
  • Pinches of Salt
  • 35 g of beaten egg (the above picture is for illustration. 35 g of eggs is equivalent to about 1 egg)

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  • 55 ml of fresh milk
  • 20 g of butter – soften
  • 45 g of tangzhong, refer to recipe above (about half of the tangzhong made above)

 


Steps of preparation (dough)

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  • Mix all ingredients except softened butter and beat at slow speed for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter and continue kneading at medium high-speed for about 20-30 minutes or when the dough did not stick to the wall of your mixing bowl and do not break when you pull the dough.
  • In the flat surface dusted with normal or bread flour, take out the dough from the mixing bowl and slightly knead it using hand for 1-2 minutes and shape it into a ball.
  • lightly oil you mixing bowl and place the ball in the bowl. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap (to prevent moisture loss).

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  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s temperature.
  • If you are using a metal mixing bowl which are slightly cold when touched, put it in your oven at temperature of about 30 degree Celsius for about 10 minutes or when your bowl feel warm when touched.

 


PART 3 – PREPARING THE BUTTER FILLINGS

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What is required

  • 150 g of butter
  • 150 g of sugar
  • 180 g of flour

Steps of preparation

  • Melt the butter in the microwavable bowl (1 minute). Alternatively, you can also melt it over the smallest heat directly under the fire.
  • Add the sugar to the hot melted butter, stirred until dissolved.
  • Add in the sifted flour gradually and used a spoon to stir until well mixed.
  • Let the flour mixture cooled down and let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes (note that the flour need sometime to absorb the liquid and don’t worry if it is too watery. After 5 minutes, the flour will also expand and you can see a slight increase in volume.
  • Once cool, shaped it into 10 small balls of about 40 g each. Set aside for later use.

 


PART 4 – PREPARING THE DOUGH – Wrapping the fillings and 2nd Proofing

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  • Take the dough out, punch into the dough to let any trapped air escaped. Knead for one minute and divide into 10 equal size round ball.

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  • Wrap the dough around the butter filling ball as even as possible. Put it in a baking tray and cover with the same damp cloth.
  • Let it proof for another 30 minutes or when balls were almost double in size.

 


PART 5 – THE BAKING PROCESS

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  • Set the oven to temperature 190 degree Celsius.
  • Put  in the oven and bake at 10-15 minutes. After 10 minutes of baking, egg wash (please see below) the buns quickly and continue baking for about 5 minutes or when the top start to turn slightly golden brown. Alternatively, you can egg wash first before you send into the oven. I prefer to egg wash at the latter stage as I can control the colour better.
  • Egg wash – Crack one egg and mixed with 3 teaspoons of water and 2 drops of oil, slightly beat and sift into a small box, use the brush to brush on top of the surface. The purpose is to let the buns looks shinny and golden brown. 

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  • Take out from the oven and transfer to a rack for cooling.

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MODIFICATIONS AND VARIATIONS

  • For the butter fillings, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk powder to the flour. Personally, I do not prefer to have milk powder added since it will negate the butter aroma. However, commercially, they do add milk powder to this and in fact, my kids loved the fillings that have milk powder.
  • For the dough, you can add 1 teaspoon of milk powder as well. However, both this modification are not traditional methods of preparation.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a traditional bun that is very popular among the Sarawakians.  The history has yet to be traced. However, this bun is usually prepared by Hainanese “kopitiam” (coffee shops) and most of the good bakers are Hainanese. Hainanese are the descendants of immigrants from the Island of Hainan in People’s Republic of China. It is also a Chinese dialect group and they are very good chefs and pastry chiefs. This is because they arrived South East Asia later than other Chinese dialect groups (like Cantonese, Hokkien, Foochow) and they were employed as chefs in the then British families and well to do local and nonya families. They were trained by the British in baking and when the colonial era ceased, they started to set up coffee shops cater for the Chinese immigrants in from China. The consumption and usage of butter in pastry were mostly influenced by the British administration. Though unconfirmed, however , it appeared to be logical because Chinese traditional cooking did not use its butter in its delicacies.
  • The Sarawak Style butter buns have a nice buttery fragrance and taken a bit resembles taking a teaspoon of butter and sugar in the mouth….It is divine especially eaten with a cup of tea or coffee. It is ideal as a breakfast item or afternoon snacks.
  • The use of tanzhong in this recipe made the bread softer even after a day or two. This newly developed baking method is widely used by bakers in the Asian region and that is one of the reasons that sweet buns and soft buns were popular in Asian region. The texture will definitely different from the traditional method of bread baking.

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Hope you take a move in trying out this new recipe. For my readers who are in other countries and never tasted this bun, just take a bowl, add equal amounts of melted butter, sugar and flours, stirred and put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Have a small scoop of filling and tell me if this is your cup of teas.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day. Cheers. 

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Eating “Rat’s Shit”? You AreTotally Gross! –Vegetarian Fried “Beethyemak” Rice Noodles

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INTRODUCTION

Beethyemak (“米大目”) is the name stated in the package of rice noodles that I bought from the supermarket. It is also called “Loh Su Fun” (“老鼠粉”) in Cantonese literally translated as  “Rats flour” …In my Chawan dialects group, it was called “ngiao chu sia” (”老鼠屎“) literally translated as “Rat’s shit”. My mother in law who is a Teochew, called it “ngiao chi ni” (“老鼠奶“) literally translated as “Rat’s milk”..

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If you ask me what is the English translation? I will just translated it into a type of rice noodles taken in different form of the shape of disgusting “worms”. Apparently, it was shaped liked a “rat” .. Does it? I don’t know! I looked for some write up for this noodle dish and I managed to get a Chinese description in http://www.baike.com , the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia. What is written is:

“米苔目是闽南语,又叫米筛目,漳州龙海特色小吃,是用米和番薯粉做成的。制作米苔目的工序颇为复杂:先要将米浸泡磨成米浆,然后放进布袋加压脱水成“饭脆”,将“饭脆”加入番薯粉,揉搓成饭团,再把饭团做成细条状,放到锅里煮熟捞起后用冷水冲洗,使之滑嫩。米苔目加入糖水、刨冰,可以做成冰凉可口的甜品,咸吃则可以用乌醋拌食或放入柴鱼熬煮成汤,再加入爆香的作料;像河粉一般热炒的米苔目很有嚼劲。 米苔目现在是闽南地区以及台湾著名的美食。” (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/68002.htm)

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I have used Google Translation to translate and this is what I got:

“Mitai Mu is the Taiwanese language, called m mesh , Zhangzhou Longhai snacks, with rice and sweet potato flour made. Making process is quite complex Mitai Mu: Soak the rice milled rice milk first and then put into a pressure dewatering bag “rice crispy”, the “rice crispy” adding sweet potato powder , rub into balls , then made ​​into balls thin strips, into the pot boiled picked up after the rinse with cold water to make it smooth and delicate. Mi Taimu added sugar , ice, can be made ​​into delicious cold desserts , salty food, you can use the black vinegar mixed with food or put dried fish boiled into soup, then add the spices until fragrant; like rice noodles stir-fried rice general moss mesh very chewy. Mitai Mu is now southern region as well as Taiwan ‘s famous cuisine.”

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Well, if readers can understand, it is best. However, if you can’t, I think that is unfair to you and I will try my best to translate for you.

“ Beethyemak is the name in Mingnan (Fujian or Hokkien) and the “thye” can also be translated or treated as “sift” in Hokkien. It is a famous snack in Longhai County, Zhangzhou (People’s Republic of China) and it is made of rice and sweet potatoes flour. The manufacturing process is rather complicated. Firstly, the rice grain have to be soaked and ground into rice batter, These are then put in a bag made from cloth. A heavy object is then placed on top of the rice batter to exert pressure and squeeze out the water making it to become a drier batter. Sweet potatoes flour are then added and mixed well. It is then made into long stripes by pouring the batter into the hot water. When cooked , the noodles are immediately dip in cold water such that the texture will be smooth and springy. To serve as a dessert, syrups and crushed ices were added to beethyemak . For savoury dishes, beethyemak can be stir mixed with black vinegar。 It can also be cooked with Bonito broth, and garnished with aromatic deep fried garlics or shallots. It can also be stir fried like Horfun (Kway Tiao) and both noodles have almost similar textures. Beethyemak is now a famous cuisine in the Mingnan (Fujian) area and Taiwan.”

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I have been eating this noodle dish since I was young. Because of the name “Rat’s shit”, psychologically, I do not really like it. In addition, when I was young in Kuching, Sarawak, the Beethyemak is mostly made from pure rice flour. The texture is rather coarse and tasteless. It is not until when I came to Singapore that I started to like Beethyemak. The Beethyemak in Singapore is more springy and if properly cooked, it taste better than rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao (another flat type of rice noodles). 

This noodle is not easy to prepare as compare to rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao. You can either cook it in soupy version or stir fry it.

For stir frying, if you want to maintain the shape, the oil for frying will have to be quite a lot. Otherwise it will stick to your frying pan making it hard to fry. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how to stir fry this noodle dish, the ingredients can be anything from prawns to meat to the vegetables of your choice.

Again, as I am still on my vegetarian diet, this dish will be a vegetarian version. But remember, you can always add meats, prawns, fish cakes etc. of your choice. In addition, you can always used the same method to fry rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao or Horfun.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

There will be no quantity stated here and you have full flexibility to change the ingredients. This illustration is the vegetarian version and please add in any other ingredients that you like.

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  • Some cabbage cut in slices

  • Some black fungus – soaked and cut into small slices

  • Some tofu puff – cut into small square cubes

  • 1 package of Beethyemak rice noodles (about 500 grams – servings of 4-5 adults)

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  • Some eggs, lightly beaten

  • Some celery – cut into small cubes

  • Some mock meat – cut into strips

  • Some dried mushrooms – soaked and cut into strips

  • Some shredded gingers and/or shallots and/or garlics

  • Condiments of your choices – light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, flavour enhancer like mushroom concentrate, white pepper, salt)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put one to two tablespoons of cooking oil in the frying pan. Add in shredded gingers and mushrooms (non vegetarian version can put in shredded shallots and garlics) and stir fried under high heat until the fragrance starts to spread.

  • Add in cabbage, stir fry for one minute and follow by celery, mock meat, tofu puffs, black fungus, stir fry until well mixed. Add in half a cup of water (estimate) and let it cooked for one – two minutes.

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The above garnishes of spring onion for picture taking purposes, Religion vegetarian cannot have spring onion in the dish.

Note

  • The purpose of adding the water is to soften and cook the vegetables. Remember, unlike stir frying rice vermicelli, the water has to be minimal as the noodles are rather wet and will not be able to absorb any more water.

  • If your are frying with meat, meat will be the first item to be stir fried followed by hard vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery etc.), leafy vegetables and tomatoes in this order.

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  • Add in the noodles and stir fry until well mixed. Add in dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, pepper, salt and flavour enhancer. Stir fry until well mixed. Add in beaten eggs and fry until all the noodles were coated with the eggs.

Note:

  • In this illustration, I have purposely used this method of adding the eggs to the noodles. The purpose is to let the eggs coating the noodles. If you do not like the moist soft egg coated noodles, you can prepare the omelette and cut it into strips. You can refer to Vegetarian Tom Yam Bee Hoon for making of omelette strips. The difference is this way of frying noodles will result in moister noodles.

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  • Add in tomatoes and and stir fry for another minutes before scoop out to the plate for serving. Best serve hot with your preferences of garnishes such as coriander leaves, freshly cut chilli or Chinese celery leaves.


CONCLUSION

This noodle dish looks easy to prepare but in fact, it need some practise. The challenges is to ensure the noodles are well coated with eggs and not stick to each other or soggy. To get this texture, the following points have to be taken into considerations:

  • The heat has to be high heat throughout the stir frying. Therefore action have to be fast. If you can’t handle, this, you have to use at least medium heat. High heat is required to ensure that all the fragrances of gingers/shallots/garlics mix well with the noodles and any moisture or water contents dries up quickly. With this, there is less chance for the noodles to get soggy.

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  • There is always a trade off between the look of your final cooked noodles and the amount of cooking oil used. You have to chose whether you want to have a healthier dish (using less oil) but an uglier dish (may be a bit out of shape as some of the noodles may stick to your frying pan). If you want to have an impressive non stick noodles, you will have to use quite a lot of oil to achieve that effect.

  • Unlike fried rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao, the water used for simmering the vegetables or side ingredients cannot be too much, otherwise, your noodles will be soggy and stick to the frying pan. If you have accidentally added too much water, you would rather let the water dry up first (meaning cook a bit longer) rather than having some soggy noodles.

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  • If you do not like moist egg coated noodles, you can use egg omelette strips.

  • All side ingredients in this illustrations are optional and substitutable. Please use what you like to fry the noodles. I have raid my fridge to come out with this and is a vegetarian version. Otherwise, I would have added pork belly meat, prawns and even some dry shrimps. So, use whatever that your family likes to cook the noodle dish.

  • Though all ingredients appeared to be optional, however, the selections will usually based on the colour of the side ingredients and a good combination of colour will make the dish looks appetizing. I usually used tomatoes or carrots for orange, chillies for red colour, choy shym or leafy vegetable for green, dried mushrooms or black fungus for black,  and corns or eggs for yellow colour. This minute detail of colour combination will make this simple dish becoming a presentable dish.

  • Remember that this method of cooking is equally applicable to fried yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, Kway Tiao, Pad Thai and etc..

Hope you like the post today and have a nice day ahead. Cheers.

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How Do You Do? I Missed You, My Dear Friend! – Traditional Coconut Tarts (椰子塔)

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INTRODUCTION

Coconut tart, a childhood snack that I really missed. Since I started blogging, I have never prepared this tropical coconut tart.. In fact, I have not eaten these tarts for years even though Singapore traditional bakery shops still have this pastry item in their shelf.

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I like the tarts for its aromatic shredded coconuts and the crispy tart shell. When I baked the tarts, the house was full of coconut aroma and I definitely wouldn’t regret making these tarts. In fact, I have finished the tarts and do not have any extra to give it to my neighbours.. Which is rather unusual.

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I do not think I need to explain more, it is just a tart with nice aromatic shredded coconut in it. The tart shell is crispy and yet the coconut filling is moist and I have to thank Aunty Yochana for sharing her recipe in one of her 2006 posts. 

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WHAT IS NEEDED

Recipe Adapted from : Aunty Yochana’s Coconut Tarts

Dough (Make about 6 big tarts)

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  • 25 grams egg (lightly beaten)

  • 100 grams plain flour (sifted)

  • 20 grams of icing sugar (sifted)

  • 50 grams of chilled butter cut into cubes

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

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Coconut Fillings 

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  • 200 grams shredded coconuts

  • 75 grams butter (melted)

  • 100 grams castor sugar

  • 2 eggs 

  • 1 tablespoon of condensed milk

  • 3 tablespoons of water

  • Yellow colouring (optional). This illustration does not use yellow colouring.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing The Tart Shells

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put butter cubes and sifted plain flour together. Use the finger tips to rub the butter cubes and flours together until it become crumby. Add in sifted icing sugars and continue to rub until well mix.

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  • Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla essence, mix slowly until it become a dough.

  • Put it in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes. Note that if you are able to handle soft dough, you can by pass this step.

  • Take the dough from the fridge and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat sheet with about 0.5 cm thickness.

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  • Use a round cutter to cut about the size of the mould.  Note that this step is optional and will help you to roughly gauge the amount of dough required and you still need to adjust the quantity of dough as you progress.  Use your hand to press the dough against the sides and make it as even as possible.

  • Use a knife or anything sharp to cut off the sides. Use a fork to make some holes to let any trapped air to escape. Set aside for later use.

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If you have extra dough, you can just use this dough to prepare additional tarts shell, bake and keep it for other tarts such as egg tarts or quiche.

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Preparing the coconut fillings

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  • In a big mixing bowl, mix all ingredients using a spoon or spatula until well mixed.


Assembling the tarts and baking the tarts

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.

  • Scope the fillings into the tarts and bake in the oven’s lower shelf. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tart shells become golden brown.

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CONCLUSION

Personally, I like these tarts very much. It is really a sweet indulgence and can be addictive when I take the first bite. This is the traditional version without any alteration.

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As my tart moulds are slightly higher than the commercially sold coconuts tarts, I managed to make 6 big tarts. However, they are very moist in the middle but the tart shells are extremely crispy. Handling the tart shells’ dough have to be as light and as fast as possible such that the pastries will melt in your mouth.

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Hope that readers can try to make these tropical tarts.. I said in my Facebook timeline that I am just like a pregnant woman who constantly craved for childhood and traditional foods… Shall these foods be marginalized by the influx of foreign cuisines?

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Have a nice day and cheers.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Agar Agar is not the same as Agak Agak… Agar Agar is Red Algae !!

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INTRODUCTION

Agar Agar is a Malay word for red algae, apparently it has been accepted as an English word. It is hard for a lay man like me to explain agar agar, so  as usual, I will quote Wikipedia’s explanation of agar agar for reader’s understanding.

Per Wikipedia:

“The word “agar” comes from agar-agar, the Malay name for red algae (Gigartina, Gracilaria) from which the jelly is produced. It is also known as kanten, China grass, Japanese isinglass, Ceylon moss or Jaffna moss. 

Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart. White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or in powdered form. It can be used to make jellies, puddings, and custards. For making jelly, it is boiled in water until the solids dissolve. Sweetener, flavouring, colouring, fruit or vegetables are then added and the liquid is poured into moulds to be served as desserts and vegetable aspics, or incorporated with other desserts, such as a jelly layer in a cake. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar)

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Agar agar is one type of traditional dessert commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia. It is easy to prepare and is a common item being served during Chinese New Year and other festivals. To make it requires no complicated kitchen utensils, just need to boil and mould. Traditionally, households used dried agar agar as shown in this illustration as the raw ingredient. However, in recent years, most households have started to use agar agar powder instead of dried agar agar.

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Traditionally, due to the lack of weighing scales, sophisticated kitchen utensils and written recipes, housewives usually prepare agar agar based on words of mouth using common kitchen items such as cups as the unit of measurement.

I was told that previously, the recipe is 1 cup of soaked agar agar will requires 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. I liked this type of simple ratio recipe, however, when I tried out, it just turned out to be extremely sweet and tough.

Well, that type of recipe may not be acceptable nowadays since we have so many resources available. In olden days, the challenge to make a good agar agar is to get hold of the correct ratio of water to agar agar. The end product shall be slightly chewy and not to soft like the current jelly. In order to achieve such texture, housewives some times dried their agar agar under the sun. They believed that the less water content in the agar agar, the better it is. In fact, some house hold cut it into one bite size, dried it under the sun until it is very chewy, store in a container and eat it as a snacks or sweets!

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In recent years. preparation of agar agar is not entirely based on texture since all ingredients can be measure rather accurately. It is rather easy but the challenge had shifted to the colour combination and moulding. If you have the relevant mould, you can create your own design based on your creativities. One of the most trendy agar agar moulding will be agar agar moon cake where the agar agar were mould into a moon cake shape. Inside the agar agar moon cake, there is a yellow colour balls resembling the egg yolk.

Again that is deal with planning, making and moulding. It can be rather stressful if there are no prior planning on the colour selection and mould selection. Of course, it can be as simple as just a single colour one flat piece of agar agar. The taste will definitely be the same but of course it is less impressive to your guest.

This illustration will only provide you with the simplest layered agar agar procedures. You can chose your own colour and shape of your mould. I have use some heart shape mould and the colour is purely selected for this illustration only. At home, we will not go until this extent and usually have one to two colours plus 2-3 layers of agar agars.

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NATURAL COLOUR SELECTION

There are a lot of natural colour available and you can totally throw away the artificial colouring, if you wish. Suggested colours are:

  • White and milky – condense milk, coconut milk, fresh milk
  • Chocolate – instant coffee paste, chocolate  paste or powder
  • Red colour – red colour dragon fruits paste
  • Yellow – mango paste
  • Green – pandanus paste
  • Violet or blue – pea flowers
  • Purple –black currant drink
  • Red – strawberry paste
  • Dots in the agar agar –  dragon fruits

Besides the above colours, many varieties of cut fruits can also be included. For example, yam cubes with coconut milk is a good combination. Coffee with milk is another welcoming combination to make into agar agar. Canned Longan or lychee with black currant flavoured agar agar is also a presentable dessert. All this is very much depend on reader’s creativities to prepare one that is acceptable to the guest or family members.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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I have intentionally left out the quantities as it is best that you follow the instruction on the the package of agar agar that you bought. Be it dried agar agar strips as shown above or agar agar powders, they will have detail instructions on the quantity of water required. It is best that you follow these instruction as every brands of agar agar will requires different liquid to reach the desired textures.

  • 1 package of agar agar strip (about 38g)
  • Some water (refer package)

  • Some sugar (refer package)

  • Some permitted food colouring of your choice or the type of natural colouring ingredients as mentioned above.

  • Some moulds of your preference

  • Few leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the dried agar agar by soaking in clean water for 1-2 minutes.

  • In a pot, put in the water as stated in the package and add dried agar agar. Use medium heat to bring the water to boil. Continue stirring until all the agar agar are dissolved.

  • Add in the required sugar into the agar agar solution and stirred until dissolve. Turn the heat to the minimal. You just need the heat to prevent the agar agar from solidifying while you do the layering. Alternatively, you can put your agar agar in a big basin of hot water.

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  • Take out some container of your choice, add in your preferred colouring and  pour into the mould.

  • Once done, put it in the freezer or chiller or under the fan and once it is set on the top, you can pour the second layer. How long will it take will depends on your room temperature, the concentration of your agar agar and the types of you container. For my today’s illustration, it is rather fast because the container is very small and my agar agar is quite concentrated.

  • Repeat the same for different layers until all the agar agar were used up.

  • Put in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from the mould, cut into your desired size and shape and put in your preferred serving plate.
  • Best served cold as a dessert.

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CONCLUSIONS

This is extremely simple. It is best that you based on what is stated in the package label to prepare the agar agar. Different brands will have different instructions.

Though this illustration is using traditional dried agar agar, you can use agar agar powder instead. The price for both dried agar agar and agar agar powder is rather economical and in my humble opinion, it is still a good choice of snacks or desserts. Variations are many and you have full flexibility to choose your desired flavour, colour and moulding. You guest will surely be impressed by your creativities.

Try this traditional Asian dessert and I am sure you wouldn’t regret preparing it. Hope you like the post today. Have a nice day and cheers.

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Can I Have A Moon Cake That Is Not Round? Hmmm.. Try Short Crust Pastry Moon Cake

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Chinese Mooncake Festival or Mid Autumn Festival is arriving soon on 19-9-2013 (or Chinese Lunar Calendar August 15) and I think most bloggers will blog about moon cakes. There are many many moon cake recipes in the internet and there is no way for me to blog something that I am rather unfamiliar due to my poor shaping skills of moon cakes .

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This year I have a few attempts to shape the moon cake but not really successful. It cracked terribly and I have told members in my Facebook Group“Food Bloggers and Foodies United” that I am not going to issue a post on moon cake I totally do not have any confidence to share with readers about the making of moon cakes.

The next day after I issued the post, one of my relatives gave us a pack of moon cake from Kluang, Johor Malaysia. In the box, it was written clearly Shanghai Moon Cake, and what shocked me is that the shape is elongated and some called it a mouse shape.

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Sorry for my limited knowledge, I never seen Shanghai moon cake in this shape. I posted in my timeline and asked my friends what is that. Surprisingly a number of friends from Southern Peninsular Malaysia knew about this shop and ever tasted this special moon cake before.

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The next day, I cut it and ate a slice, I felt that the taste was very familiar. It resembles the short crust biscuits with the normal moon cake fillings. Therefore, I told my friends that I wanted to pursue another baking adventure based on what I tasted and I wanted to try to “reproduce” the moon cake that I received.

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That morning, there is no body in my house except myself. I just simply pick a short crust pastry recipe and start my adventures. Actually, the short crust pastry resembles the pineapples tart pastry. However, in this illustration, I made a mistake by including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the dough. I shouldn’t need to include this as the fillings will expand when heated and the baking soda make the crack bigger that I do not want to see.

Putting that aside,  I would say that this pastry, or pardon me formally called it “SHORT CRUST PASTRY MOONCAKE” , is definitely worth trying. The soft filling blends extremely well with the melt in the mouth pastry wrapping it. Unlike other moon cake,  it is buttery in flavour and that make me wanted to share with readers this “funny” pastry aims at those who are adventurous to try out new ideas.

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But I have to highlight that, it is just like any pastry, it can’t keep for long. It is best to consume it within two to three days of making it. The wet fillings will make the short crust slightly soggy if you do not consume on time. Well, that is my frankest opinion and I do hope that readers have some confidences on me by baking this short crust pastry moon cake and share with me if it is up to your expectations.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 80 grams of salted butter, cut into cubes and keep in fridge waiting for later use.

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

  • 400 grams of self raising flour (sifted)

  • 80 grams of sugar powder

  • 600 grams of moon cake fillings of your choice (in this illustration, I have used both the green tea paste and red bean paste).

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Pre Preparation

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree.

  • Get ready a baking tray with a piece of baking sheet.

  • Divide the moon cake fillings into 3 portions and roll it into an cylindrical shape of about 6 inches long.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put in your sifted self raising flour, sugar powder. Add the butter cubes from the fridge. Use finger tips to lightly rub the butter until butter and flour are well mixed resembling crumbs. Rubbing should be light and fast. This resembles the preparation of scones and your can refer HERE.

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  • Make a whole in the centre put in the beaten eggs.

  • Use a fork or a knife to slightly mix the batter. Once the eggs and the flour have form a dough, transfer the dough to a table and knead for 1-2 minutes to ensure it is well mixed.

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  • Divide the dough into 3 portions. In my illustration, my dough weighed about 220 grams per portion.

  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough in a floured surface into rectangular shape of about 10 inches x 5 inches.

  • Place your moon cake filling on top of the pastry, close the longer ends and roll follow the shape of the fillings.

  • Close the other two ends and ensure the edges are closed.

  • You can reshape to any shape that you want. However, I have opted to use the shape as shown above. Alternative shape is round shape. However, round shape is difficult for serving. So I opted for the oblong shape.

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  • Place the dough in the baking tray. Use a sharp knife to lightly cut lines on top of the dough.

  • Have the first egg wash and send to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

  • After 15 minutes, take out and have a second egg wash. Baked for another minutes 10 and the moon cake is done.

  • For egg wash, hand beaten 1 egg yolks and add 2 big table spoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift and put in a container. Use a brush to lightly brush the dough.

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CONCLUSION

This is another way of serving the moon cake though traditionally, moon cake must be round resemble the moon. Whether this can be called moon cake or other name is up the discretion of the readers.

This moon cake was prepared using short crust pastries and the buttery taste of the pastry is totally different from traditional moon cake but it blends well with the traditional moon cake fillings. It is good to be served as a tea time snack item.

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I hope you enjoy my baking adventures for making this special shape moon cake inspired from the famous Kluang moon cake shop in Malaysia.

This recipe was included in Page 15-17 of the “Easy Mooncake Recipes E-book”. For more mooncake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy mooncake recipes  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 20 recipes, 45 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD4.00. The recipes covered various recipes from durian mooncake, traditional baked mooncake and also the less common Teochew mooncake . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Hope you like the post today and do join me in the baking adventures. Bake one for yourself and tell me if it suits your taste buds. Have a nice day and cheers


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Vege Vege Vegetable Fritters–Indonesian’s Bakwan Sayuran

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INTRODUCTION

Vegetable fritter is  rather international. Almost all international cuisines will have some form of vegetable fritters. It is a  very common food item in South East Asian countries. Be it called bakwan sayuran (Indonesia), vegetable tempura (Japan), parkosa (India) or just vegetable fritters. Packed with vegetables, it can be as healthy as you want it. You can oven baked, pan fried or deep fried. Depending on which cuisine’s vegetable fritters, the dips can also be significantly different.

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WHY THIS DISH

I am having my yearly vegetarian 1-1.5 months and I am looking for some vegetarian dishes. In addition, I am preparing this dish in response to the monthly challenge organized by a Google plus food community.

This recipe is not my household recipe but an Indonesian vegetable fritter recipe obtained from Ms Karin’s blog on bakwan sayuran However, I have modified to suit my family’s taste buds.

I concurred with Ms Karin that vegetable fritter recipe has lots of flexibility especially the choice of vegetables. Ms Karin had written in Google communities that “We can make fritters out of everything. Sometimes with something as lame as cabbage and a bunch of leftover vegetables (just avoid wet ones like tomatoes)”.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipes adopted from  Ms. Karin’s blog on bakwan sayuran.

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  • 150 g of jicama (shredded)
  • 150 g of French beans (cut into small pieces)
  • 100 g of bean sprouts
  • 50 g of red carrots (shredded)
  • 50 g of peanuts

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  • 2 tablespoons of coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons of white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of salts
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 125 g of rice flour
  • 125 g of wheat flour
  • 200 ml of plain water
  • 5 cups of cooking oil for frying


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big bowl, assemble all ingredients together;
  • Add in coriander powder, sugar, salt, white pepper. Stir until well mixed.
  • Add in flour (rice flour and wheat flour) and water. Stir until all the ingredients are coated with the batter.

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  • In a big pan, heat the cooking oil. The oil is considered as ready when you insert a chopstick or other wooden object into the hot oil, bubbles started to emit.
  • Put few tablespoons of batter at a time and deep fried until golden brown. You will have to keep a close eye during your frying process to ensure that your batter is not too big (otherwise it will be difficult to get cooked) and your oil temperature should not be overly hot (meaning exterior to start to get burnt and inside may not be cooked). In that case, you have to turn the heat to medium or small, it make take a bit longer but once you note that the colour start to turn golden, switched to high heat for high heat and immediately take it out. This will prevent the oil from going back to the batter!
  • Drain the fritters in oil absorbing paper.

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  • Let it cool and serve with your preferred dips.

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VARIATIONS

There are many variations to this dish. You can add in any vegetables of your choice such as Entoki mushrooms, cauliflowers and the list is endless.

Method of cooking, beside deep frying, can also be pan fried or oven baked. Though oven baked and pan fried version will not be that crispy, it is healthier and equally delicious.

Spices used can also change to include cardamom, cumin seeds, turmeric powder if you preferred.

Dips and garnishes have lots of flexibility. For my kids, I have some mayonnaise and tomato sauces which become thousand island dressings. For adults we have like to home made chilli sauce. Original Indonesian fried fritters like to go with fresh chilli or cabit as they called it. You can also garnish with cucumber or tomato slices to negate the slight greasiness of the dish!

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CONCLUSIONS

  • A simple and easy to do dish that is packed with vegetables and can be as healthy as you want it to be . It is a vegetarian dish suitable for all age groups.
  • A full flexibility dish that can be tailored to meet your family taste buds including types of vegetables, spices used, method of cooking dips and garnishes.

Hope you like the post today. Cheers.



I am submitting this post to the Monthly Challenge organized by Google Plus Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia – Cuisine Communities in response of Ms. Karin’s Bakwan Sayuran (Vegetable Fritters)  post in her Karin’s Recipe blog. 

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTERESTor visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1000 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.

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CCC – Cheesy Cassava Cake–A Modified Version of The Traditional Nonya Kuih Bengka Ubi

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INTRODUCTION

Tapioca or cassava is a staple root widely consumed in regions like Africa, Asia, Oceania and etc. It is easily propagated and commonly found in South East Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are the top three exporter of tapioca in the world.

Tapioca or cassava cake is a very common household cake of any races (be in Chinese, Malay, Indian or other races) in Singapore and Malaysia. However, in the Peranakan cooking, Kueh Bengka Ubi is one the most famous items in its cuisines.

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There are generally two methods of making cassava cake, by steaming or baking. Chinese preferred to have its cassava cake steamed, as soft as possible and served with shredded coconut (at times this is needed as the cake are so soft and smooth that it is shapeless). On the other hand, the Nonya preferred to bake the cake using charcoal stoves or ovens. Usually, the baked cassava cake have a slightly burnt crusty top and the body is yellowish in colour and texture is rather “elastic”. It is very aromatic with a mixture of fragrances from pandanus leaves, coconut milks and eggs.

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CHEESEY CASSAVA CAKE

This recipe is my own without making reference to any recipes in the internet. As usual, I have prepared based on what I think is workable, memories on the cake that I have tasted before and one or two attempts a few months back.

This cake is different in its texture and its taste. Besides the normal fragrance of the traditional cassava cake, the  cake have a rich and cheesy fragrance. In addition, as you can infer from the pictures above, the texture is moist but not soggy or sticky. In fact, you can cut it into any shape that you want.

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The incorporation of cream cheese had made the cassava cake smoother and creamier. It helps to heighten the flavour of the eggs, coconut milk, butter and the cassava original flavour.

I have used small sago balls to enhance the texture. Grated cassava, under high heat can turn very sticky and subsequently become very chewy. The additions of sago balls somehow will help to sooth the texture making it even smoother.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 g of sago balls – soaked in water (Volume of water should be about 2 times of the sago ball and note that the balls will expand)
  • 150 g of butter
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 250 g of granulated sugar

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  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml of thick coconut milks
  • 1 kg of finely grated tapioca or cassava. You can buy in the market and grate it yourself. If you want to grate it yourself, you will have to use the food processor to chop it as finely as possible, and then you can proceed to use  a blender (instead of an cake mixer) to perform the following steps. You will need to put in your chopped cassavas, eggs, coconut milks and blend it to as smooth as possible).
  • Red and green (pandanus) colouring (optional) – I have resorted to the use of red and green colouring this illustration as I find that the traditional cake are rather dull in colour and I want my cake to look more colourful and appetizing.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  • Get ready a 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin. Slightly grease the tin with either butter or cooking oil. Dust some wheat flour if necessary.
  • In the mixing bowl, beat your butter, cream cheese and sugar using medium speed until evenly mixed. Note that the purpose of this step is not to let you have a fluffy cake like other cake recipes. The beating here is mainly a mixing step, a step to ensure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.

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  • Once well mixed, add in your eggs one at a time and followed by the coconut milk. You should only use low speed for this simple mixing purpose. Scrap out the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that there are not cheeses sticking to the bowl.
  • At this stage, you will notice that the mixture become more and more watery which is normal and hence SPEED SHOULD BE LOW as long as mixing can be performed.

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  • Add in the grated cassava and soaked sago balls. “Beat” at the lowest speed possible. You will see that after 1-2 minutes of slow mixing, the liquid start to disappear as it was further absorbed by the sago balls.
  • Separate into approximately 4 equal portions. One portion with red colouring, one portion with green colouring and the other two portions maintain the original colour.

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  • Pour the uncoloured portion of the batter to the tin, followed by green and red portion. It is entirely up to readers as to what design you want your cake to cook like. For me , I have opted to have some simple big stripes design. As the batter is not very watery, it is rather easy for you to design your pattern.
  • Baked using 190 degree Celsius for about 30-45 minutes or until set. Until set means when you push the baking tin, the centre of the cake does not “vibrate”. Another test is that you insert a skewer in the centre of the cake, the skewer come out clean. However, as this is a cassava cake, cassava when hot can be slightly slimy and as long as you taste it is not raw, the cake is consider as cooked.
  • Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cutting of cake is  best done 3-4 hours after baking to ensure that centre of the cake is completely cool. As long as when you cut the cake, there are some cake stick to the knife, your cake is considered as not cool completely.

  • Serving suggestions – you can serve with shredded coconut with white sugar and hot tea or coffee.
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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a modified recipe by incorporating cream cheese and sago balls to the traditional cassava cake. The main aim is to smoothen the cake texture and make the cake creamier along with the fragrance of eggs, coconut milk and cassava.
  • Resulting from the modification, this will be totally different from the traditional cassava cake that you may have tried. It is soft, slightly springy and with cheesy coconut fragrance.  The shredded sugar coconut with heighten the palate and reach another higher dimensions.
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  • It is easy to cut into your desired sizes and looks presentable in tea party as a snack items.
  • If you think that you are a professional Nonya cake baker, you should try and tell me what is your opinion. If you are new to pastry making, this is one item that will not ruin your confidence.

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day. Cheers

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For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

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If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 400 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOAR