Auspicious Day With Auspicious Porridge–Eight Treasure Porridge (八宝粥)

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INTRODUCTION

It is such an auspicious day that I am writing this post. I swear it is not pre-planned. Today is Mid Autumn Festival aka Moon Cake Festival, it is a festival that is celebrated by all Chinese worldwide. As request by one of the Google communities, I have written a brief write up on Mid Autumn Festivals HERE which you may want to have some casual reading.

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The cuisine that I am going to post today is a vegetarian dish called 8 treasure porridge (八宝粥). There are so many versions of this one pot dish in the internet but the recipe that I am going to share is from my kind neighbour. She liked to cook this porridge and after I tried it for the very first time, immediately I fell in love with it. Since then, I had liked to cook this dish in important festivals such as Chinese New Year Day where the whole family were supposed to be on vegetarian diet for one day.

I have cooked this yesterday not because of the festival, but because I craved for the porridge since I am still on my vegetarian diet. I gave two boxes of the porridge to my daughter’s schoolmates mother, she immediately asked for the recipe when she reached home. She commented that the taste of the porridge was totally different from what she had tasted in the vegetarian stalls.

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I did not know where my neighbour get the recipe but I found that there are certain ingredients that we used were not found in other 8 treasure porridges sold by the vegetarian stores. Both the ingredients were mock meat acceptable to all vegetarians and without these two ingredients, the taste will definitely be different.

As this was our dinner last night, I did not have much chances to take pictures and the poor lighting make the picture a bit disappointed. But trust me, this is a very different 8 treasure porridge and it is definitely good for casual dining or a presentable dish in important Buddhist religious occasions.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Though the name is 8 treasure porridge, however, we tend to have more than 8 ingredients and I do not think all my ingredients are in the picture.  I should have used 11-12 ingredients here. Most of the ingredients are nuts and a few ingredients and some mock meat.

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  • 1 cup of uncooked rice – not in picture (白米)

  • 1 cup of jujube (红枣)

  • 1 cup of peanuts (花生)- soaked

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts (腰豆)

  • 1 cup of lotus seeds (莲子)- soaked

  • 1 cup of gingko nuts  (白果)- soaked

  • 1 cup of red carrots (cut into cubes) (红萝卜)

  • 1 cup of dried mushrooms (soaked and cut into cubes) – not in picture (冬菇)

  • 1 cup of mock duck (must have) – (素鸭)

  • 1 small packet of “fat Choy” or “black moss” (发菜)

  • 1 packet of about 2 sheets of mock goose (素鹅)(must have)

  • 6-8 cups of plain water (if not adequate, you can add in water later)

IMG_6543 Mock Duck

IMG_6556 Mock Goose

Please do not ask me why they were called mock duck or mock goose, frankly, I do not know. While the shape is difference, the taste is nothing like duck of goose. Both are made of wheat gluten, oil, soya sauce, sugar, salt and packed with proteins. They do have their distinct flavour but I can’t describe exactly what is the flavour. They can generally found in Chinese grocery stores that sell vegetarian supplies. These two items are the two most important ingredients in this porridge and without it, the taste will be different.

 IMG_6561 “Fat Choy” or “ Black Moss”

This a type of moss now commercially cultivated in the Gobi dessert and Chinese Government do place a restriction in harvesting the moss. The meaning of having these mosses signifies prosperous since the syllables in Chinese name is the same of both “Fat Choy” and “Black Moss”. I hereby quote what Wikipedia had explained about this moss.

“Fat Choy (Nostoc flagelliforme), also known as faat Choy, fa cai, black moss, hair moss or hair weed is a terrestrial cyanobacterium (a type of photosyntheticbacteria) that is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine. When dried, the product has the appearance of black hair. For that reason, its name in Chinese means “hair vegetable.” When soaked, this vegetable has a very soft texture which is like very fine vermicelli.” (Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_choy)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing all other ingredients

  • Clean all ingredients (except mock duck and mock goose) and you may want to soak the peanuts and lotus seeds (if you buy the dry type). Cut into almost the same size as the peanuts and set aside for the later use.


Frying the mock goose

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  • In a frying pan, have some cooking oil under high heat, fry the mock goose until crispy. When cooled, cut into thumb size pieces and set aside for the later use. (Note: While it is good to have minimum oil in the cooking, however, without performing this step, the fragrance will not be there. However, you can try using “air fryer” but I am unsure whether the taste will be the same.)

  • Depending on your preference, you can use the same oil to stir fry the mock duck, gingko, lotus seeds, mushrooms, carrots etc. for a few minutes such that the mock goose and mushroom aromas blends with the other ingredients. Set aside for later use. This illustration bypassed this step to minimize the usage of cooking oil in the porridge and the taste will not be compromised much.

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  • Clean your rice and place in the rice cooker. Add in all other ingredients except “fat Choy”. Select porridge function for cooking the porridge.

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  • Just a few minutes before the porridge function was done, add in fat Choy and seasonings. Suggested seasonings are light soya sauce, salt, sugar or other flavour enhancers. Note that some of the ingredients already have some seasonings, please take some porridge out for tasting before you put the condiments.

Note that you can also use pressure cooker but remember to select the porridge function if it have. Alternatively, I have ever cooked the porridge over the stove and in this way it is easier for you to monitor the desire texture of your porridge though the cooking time may be longer. As long as all ingredients are soft, the porridge is considered as done.

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  • Best served hot with “you tiao” – a type of Chinese plain dough fritters or additional crispy “mock goose”. Both these are optional.

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CONCLUSION

As I have said earlier, I fell in love with this special porridge when I have my first bowl years back. I  am confident you will like it too. Bookmark this page for your future usage. You may want to cook it during Chinese New Year like me!

Hope you like the post today. Cheers

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If you are looking for more CHINESE NEW YEAR COOKIES,  you may want to visit this post summarizing all relevant Chinese New Year Cuisines.

Chinese New Year Cookies21


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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Traditional Batik Cake or Hedgehog Cake

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Updated post on 10-10-2014

Have not prepare this cake for one year. A sudden craving made me wanted to prepare this rich and sinful cake to curb the sugar cravings. However, I have added 3 eggs to the recipe and using the boiling method.

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The simplified method are:

  • Melt the butter, add in condensed milk, beaten eggs and milo, cooked under medium heat until it starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin lined with Marie biscuits. Cover the base layer of Marie biscuits with the mixture. Put another layer of Marie biscuit on top and follow by another year of mixture. 

The shape is better and it wouldn’t melt in the hot weather. Of course, it will not be that creamy like the chilled version since it had been cooked. Happy trying.

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INTRODUCTION

Don’t bombard me this controversial version of batik cake or “hedgehog” cake. It is simplified by Guaishushu as he had omitted the cooking steps.

Guaishushu like traditional cakes for its simple to follow ratio. Due to lack of precise measuring equipment in the early days, most household cakes recipes are simple such as pound cakes.

Today, Guaishushu is not promoting the one number baking ratio. Instead, he is making a cake that truly reflects the lifestyles of the people living in Malaysia in the early 70’s to 80’s. This cake is a simple cake that Guaishushu’s have made a long long time ago, may be 30 years back. Then, there was no oven in the house and his family just have a very simple fridge.

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This was one of the easiest cake that he can make because it required no oven, no mixer and just need a fork and a spoon. In addition, the ingredients were household common breakfast items such as Milo beverage drink and Marie biscuits. There was no internet then and most recipes were by words of mouth. He can’t recall which relative gave him the recipe, what he could remember very clearly was the nice pattern in the cake.

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In Malaysia, the cake was called BATIK CAKE. Batik is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. It is a beautiful cloth and usually wore by Malay in the Malay Peninsular.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batik)

Guaishushu had long wanted to make the cake but he did not have the recipe. He had in fact bought the Marie biscuits but did not have the time to search for a recipe. Coincidentally, one of the members in a Google Plus communities disclosed that her week end adventure was preparing a batik cake, Guaishushu immediately felt extremely happy and asked her for the recipe. The member was very kind to share her recipe and uploaded a picture. Guaishushu showed his wife the picture and his wife concurred that she have missed the cake too as she had not eaten this for ages.. With her recipe, Guaishushu started his preparation and within one hour, everything was done and send to the fridge for chilling.

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This recipe is a bit different from the original recipe in that Guaishushu do not cook the mixture. No cooking is actually required because all the ingredients are cooked ingredients. He opted just to mix and chilled to simplify the preparation. Of course, without cooking, the texture will be much softer and it can be treated as a type of chocolate sauce.

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The cooked version will have  a better shape but the texture is slightly chewy . Non cooked version will have a totally different texture, soft and smooth and rich in chocolate flavour.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 can of condensed milk (385 grams)
  • 385 grams of milo (breakfast beverage drink)
  • 385 grams of melted butter
  • 1 packet of Marie biscuits (about 250 grams) – a bit more or less is okay.
  • 3 eggs (optional) – If eggs are added, you will have to use the cooked version.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

There are two methods of preparation. Either you melt the butter, milo, eggs  and condensed milk in a sauce pan and cooked under low heat until it thickens. In this case, you cake will be chewy and more shapely (Please refer to the update post for procedures)  For better presentation, it is advised that you follow this method such that it had a nicely cut cake. But for taste wise, it is advise that you follow the second method below.

The second method is as in this illustration where no cooking is required, therefore, you final products will become very creamy, soft as if you are having some rich chocolate sauce with biscuits.

Chilled Version

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place melted butter and condensed milk together, use hand or machine whisk until texture is consistent.

  • Add in milo powder and mix until it is well mix.

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  • Arrange your Marie biscuits in the tin and pour some chocolate sauce over the biscuits. Add another layer and repeat the same procedures until all biscuits and batter are used up.

  • Freeze it in the freezer for 1 hour or until temporary set. Cut into the desired size and served immediately out from the fridge. The sauce will gradually melt in the room temperature and therefore you shouldn’t put in the serving plate too early especially in hot weather like Malaysia and Singapore.

  • Best serve cold as a form of dessert.

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Cooked Version

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  • Melt the butter, add in condensed milk, beaten eggs and milo, cooked under medium heat until it starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin lined with Marie biscuits. Cover the base layer of Marie biscuits with the mixture. Put another layer of Marie biscuit on top and follow by another year of mixture. 

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CONCLUSIONS

This is a twist of the traditional Batik Cake. I have purposely not to cook the batter since all ingredients are cooked ingredients. The texture and the level of enjoyment is totally different. While the traditional method of cooking the batter will provide you with better shaping but to me, its texture is compromised. I would prefer something soft, silky, rich and creamy full of chocolaty flavour to go with this simple plain biscuit. Whether or not this can still called a batik cake is irrelevant to me. The texture and taste will definitely a better alternative for me.

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The cake is made with simple ingredients, no complicating beating using expensive equipment, why not making one today and try. You can add nuts if you want to, can add some Nescafé if you prefer, change to some other types of biscuits if this suit your taste buds.  Remember, boiling method can give you a better shape but the texture is slightly harder. Chilling method is very creamy but a bit messy. If you asked me which do I prefer? For small gathering at home, chilling method. As gift or buffet style, boiling method…. Last but not least, I forgot to say that this taste like Asian Kit Kat.. Ha-ha.

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Cheers and have a nice day.

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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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You Stingy Old Man, You Ruined My Mexican Coffee Buns–Polo Buns and Mexican Coffee Buns

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INTRODUCTION

Please scroll down for the updated posts

Guaishushu is seriously regretting for his “creativities” and “stinginess”. He made a batch of Polo buns and Mexican Coffee Buns. However, as the final proofing of his bun is less than his desired diameter, he was left with some coffee pastry dough. Instead of throwing it away, half way when he baked the buns, he just took out the buns and pumped in the left over coffee pastry dough thinking it will melt and become a coffee buns with double dose of crusty coffee toppings… And the end, he found that instead of making it more beautiful, he made a bunch of ugly buns… Well, he still decided to share the recipe here as readers can just follow the recipe and get some good quality buns…… Don’t be misled by Guaishushu’s pictures.

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POLO BUNS AND MEXICAN COFFEE BUNS

Polo bun or pineapple bun is a type of soft, sweet bun commonly found in Asia. The word “Polo” in Mandarin literally translated to pineapple. In another word, it is supposed to be a soft bun that have skin that resembles the skin of pineapples. Usually what is being sold in the market is with fillings such as barbecue pork. However, as I am on a vegetarian diet, I have opted to make it into a plain bun for breakfast. The buns were wrapped with a soft cookie liked dough on top of the buns, when it proved for the second time, the plain dough will start to make the soft cookie liked dough to break and those resembling the skin of a pineapple. Some have used a knife to cut into a pattern of a pineapple skin.

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Mexican coffee buns is popularized by Rotiboy in Malaysia and it is a type of sweet bun with coffee flavoured crusty toppings. Usually, inside the buns, there is  a slice of butter which will melt when the buns are baked. Therefore the buns is full of buttery flavour.

THIS IS DEFINTELY A WORKABLE RECIPE AND IF YOU LOOK AT MY WORK IN PROGRESS PICTURES, YOU WILL SEE THE IT IS OKAY UNTIL THE VERY LAST MOMENT WHEN GUAISHUSHU IS GREEDY TO ADD ADDITIONAL COFFEE TOPPINGS.

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This post is a rather long post and have the following sections

Section A: Preparing the Buns

Section B: Preparing the Polo Buns Crusty Toppings

Section C: Preparing the Mexico Buns Crusty Toppings

Section D: Preparing Polo Buns for Baking

Section E: Preparing the Mexico Buns for Baking


SECTION A: PREPARING OF BUNS

What is required

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  • 500 g bread flour

  • 100 g castor sugar

  • Yeast one packet (about 11 grams)

  • 30 grams of butter (at room temperature)

  • Pinches of salt

  • 50 grams eggs (about 1 egg)

  • 240 grams of water


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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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).

  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s temperature.

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SECTION B: PREPARING THE POLO BUNS CRUSTY TOPPINGS

What is required

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  • 75 grams butter, melted

  • 110 grams of bread flour self raising flour, sifted

  • 50 grams of icing sugar, sifted

  • 25  40 grams of eggs, lightly beaten

  • 30 grams of milk powder
  • One egg yolk for egg washing
  • Some sugar for sprinkling


Steps of preparation

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  • Melt the butter in an microwave oven for 1 minute.

  • Add in beaten eggs, sifted icing sugar, milk powder and sifted bread flours self raising flour. Mixed well until it form a soft dough.

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  • Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

  • Shape in round shape and set aside for later use.


Section C: Preparing the Mexico Buns Crusty Toppings

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What is required

  • 100 grams of butter, melted

  • 100 grams of flour, sifted

  • 80 grams of icing sugar, sifted

  • 50 grams of eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water.

  • 8 pieces of 1 cm x 3cm x 0.2 cm cold cut butter (sizes is just for reference and you can just cut the butter in a small piece) – for usage in Section E. Store the butter in the fridge.


Steps of preparation

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  • Melt the butter in an microwave oven for 1 minute.

  • Add in beaten eggs, sifted icing sugar, instant coffee paste and sifted bread flours. Mixed well until it form a soft sticky dough and set aside.

Note that in the above illustration pictures, I only add in the instant coffee paste at a later stage.


SECTION D: PREPARING POLO BUNS FOR BAKING

* For newer detail instruction of preparing it from frozen dough, please scroll towards the end for the updated post

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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 2 portions. Set aside one portion for Mexico Coffee Buns in Section E.

  • Divide the dough equally into 8 portions and shape it into a round ball.

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  • Use a roller to flatten the “cookie liked dough” as prepared in Section B.

  • Use a brush to lightly brush some water on the plain dough so that it is easier for the cookie dough to cling on the plain dough.

  • Wrap around the plain dough and let it prove until double in size.

  • As the dough proves, you will see the cookies dough started to break. If you find you cookies dough have the tendency to drop from plain dough, spray or brush with additional water to let them stick together.

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  • When double in size, baked in the oven at 190 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

* For newer detail instruction of preparing it from frozen dough, please scroll towards the end for the updated post

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SECTION E: PREPARING MEXICO COFFEE BUNS FOR BAKING

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  • Lightly knead the other half of the dough as mentioned in Section D.

  • Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape into a sound ball.

  • Use a roller to roll the ball into a flat dough, place a piece of cold butter on top of the dough. Use the dough to wrap a butter and make it into a round ball.

  • Put it in the baking tray and proved until double in size.

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  • Put the coffee soft dough into a piping bag. Cut a small hole in the bottom.

  • Pipe the coffee soft dough on top of the proved buns in the pattern as in the above images.

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  • After finished piping, bake in the oven for 190 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.

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CONCLUSIONS

In this post, I have shared two types of common sweet buns. If you have some baking basics, it is definitely not a difficult bun to prepare. The crispy toppings of both buns are rather similar except the proportion of each ingredient is different. These toppings can actually be prepared in advance to shorten the preparation time. Remember that you can always wrapped barbecue pork in the Polo buns and you can refer Guaishushu’s Facebook Page post P1 – Roast Meat Bun (烧肉餐包).

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Sincerely, honestly, faithfully hope you like the post today and don’t get discourage by the ugly pictures today. Guaishushu’s promise to be less stingy (at least for photo taking purposes, ha-ha) in my coming illustrations..

Have a nice day and cheers….

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UPDATED ON 2 AUGUST 2014


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I have prepared some Mexican Buns on today and I have decided to take some picture and update the post.

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As the above dough recipes uses tangzhong is rather time consuming, I have decided to use another faster dough as in my Blueberry Sweet Bread. It is definitely a faster and easier straight dough method that yields a fluffier bread.. As for the toppings, it is the same as the recipe above.

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UPDATED POST ON 12 SEPTEMBER 2014

With the frozen dough that I have in the fridge, I have decided to prepare some polo buns for the breakfast.

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There are some changes to the recipe as indicated in “red” as above as I found that this recipe for the topping is better. In addition, I have used another way of preparing the buns.

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degree Celsius.

  • Weigh the  topping and divide into 10 equal balls. Take one topping, shape it like a ball, place a dough ball on top of the crust ball, wrap the topping around the dough ball. Use a knife to cut some lines on on top of the toppings.

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  • Let the dough proof until double in size, egg wash with the egg yolk followed by sprinkling some sugar on top of the crust. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or when the breads turn golden brown.

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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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Easy Peasy Barley Bean Curd Sheets Sweet Soup (腐竹薏米甜汤)

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INTRODUCTION

This will be a straight forward short post.

A light, sweet and smooth desserts that will made me hard to resist whenever this dessert was served. It is a flexible dessert and if you wish, you can add in additional ingredients such as gingko nuts or lotus seeds. However, I have opt to use peanuts as I have never like the taste of gingko nuts. The peanuts blends equally well in the soup and in fact, in my humble opinion is a much better combination. The use of pressure cooker had reduce the time of preparation considerably.


 

WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 6 pandanus leaves tied in a bunch
  • 1 packet (rather standard size) of dried bean curd sheets specially for desserts purposes.
  • 1 cup of rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 8 cups of water

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the pandanus leaves and tie into a bundle. Set aside for later use.
  • Wash the peanuts and barley thoroughly and put in a pressure cooker and boiled for 25 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and put in the bean curd sheets, rock sugar and candied winter melons and boiled for another 10 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and preferably served hot or chilled.

Variations

Variations can include addition of gingko nuts, lotus seeds and jujubes.  Beaten eggs can also be added to thicken the sweet soup.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a traditional Chinese desserts that I can never resists. It is easy to cook especially with the pressure cooker. It is a very light dessert, smooth, sweet and suitable for almost all occasion. Barley is researched to have the  capabilities of reducing lower cholesterol levels. Chinese believed that the sweet soup will be good and nutritional to the complexion and skin conditions. It is also believed that pregnant women who have taken this dessert regularly will give birth to a fair and chubby baby.
  • Try to make this simple desserts for your family. Remember that you can always tailor this to suit your taste buds and if you like Gingko nuts, go ahead as gingko nuts is beneficial to you brain and improved your memory.

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

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