Thursday, November 18, 2010

ABC Bread


This bread is called American Butter Cheese Bread but I nicknamed it ABC bread, for the fun of it. I dun see anything american with this bread, actually I was very much tempted to call it BBC bread or Belgian Butter Cheese Bread. But since I didn't invent this, so it's better to stick to the shortform of its original name, ABC bread.

I baked this bread last week when I was not so sick and I only managed to upload it now, now that I am feeling a little bit better than before. I am still nursing my bronchitis so I won't be making bread this week until I am fully recovered, otherwise all the germs will be kneaded into the bread while I am coughing away. Sounds disgusting huh? Hehe.


I have no idea why my bread didn't turn out  the way it should. It should look like my golden crown raisin bread with distinct little humps, but it looked more like a cake than a bread. It must be the ugliest bread that I have ever baked. But nonetheless the taste was still good, though I would very much prefer a richer taste of cheese, maybe I should try to include cheddar cheese in addition to cream cheese.

Here is the recipe adapted from Alex Goh's Magic Bread

INGREDIENTS A
150g bread flour
105g boiling water

INGREDIENTS B
250g bread flour
100g plain flour
20g milk powder
65g sugar
6g salt
8g instant yeast

INGREDIENTS C
135g cold water
1 cold egg

INGREDIENTS D
60g butter
80g cream cheese (I used philadelphia cheese with mixed herbs)


METHOD
1. Add the boiling water from A into flour, mix until well-blended to form dough. Cover and set aside to cool. Keep in fridge for at least 12 hours.

2. Mix B until well-blended. Add in C and knead to form rough dough. Add in A and knead until well-blended.

3. Add in D and knead to form elastic dough. (Check out my sweet bread dough post to see how to achieve an elastic dough which satisfies the membrane test and poke-a-hole test)

4. Let it proof for 40 min.

5. Divide the dough into 18 pieces, 50g each and mould it round.

6. Place 9 pieces of dough into a greased 23 cm tube cake mould, let it proof for 50 min. Make 2 pans.

7. Egg wash the surface and bake at 175C for 30 min.


This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.

Sick of being sick!

I have been sick for the longest time ever in my life. That explains my absence from my blog since I am too sick to even lift a finger to cook an omelette, let alone roll up my sleeves to hand-knead my bread.

Since 28 October, I have been unofficially sick for 2 weeks, and officially sick for another 1 week. The 1st 2 weeks was just a slight cold or flu, then it was upgraded to a persistent cough, followed by a whopping cough with blood and after 2 weeks, bronchitis. During the visit to my housedoctor on 15 Nov (Mon), I thought the doctor would dismiss my sick claims as something frivolous, as what my hubby always did, so I was pleasantly surprised when he declared that I had acute bronchitis and finally prescribed me antibiotics. Yeah, at least now I have hard evidence to confront my hubby who assumed that I was feigning sickness and cooking up some excuses for not attending class for 3 days in a row. Well, bronchitis is contagious, isn't it? Even if I am well enough to attend class, I may spread it to my fellow classmates and they may be bed-ridden like me for at least a few days. The idea of having to stay in class without coughing for 3 hours, and later in a bus for another 1 hour, is really beyond me. I thought of putting on a face-mask, but then that will make people even more wary and speculate on what kind of contagious diseases I can possibly carry. This is not Japan, you know, where civic-minded citizens put on face-masks when they are nursing a cold or flu and nobody ever bats an eyelid.

Anyway, my bronchitis is still not getting any better after taking antibiotics for 3 days, I have a dose of antibiotics that will last for 10 days or so. In fact I feel more breathless, and I have to exert more effort than ever for every single cough and most of the time I just feel like a deflated balloon, losing air and not breathing in enough oxygen. My ribcage is hurting due to exertion, and every time I cough I feel as if somebody is punching my chest. And I can't manage sleep for more than 2 hours in a row, waking up frequently to clear my irritated throat. I imagine this must be what it feels like to have lung cancer and I told my hubby I feel as if I am in the last stage of lung cancer :p

Surprisingly, the men in my family are holding up well despite the onslaught of diseases in this house. His Majesty does have a little crackling cough like the mother, but he is running and playing like the healthiest baby in the world. His Majesty's servant, my hubby, is also doing well despite all the germs flying around in the house, he is not at all infected by me though I have been coughing for the past 3 weeks. So what's wrong with me then, I wonder? And to think that I had just taken a winter flu shot 1 week ago, maybe it is the doctor's clinic where I caught the bronchitis bacteria from? Or the crèche? I really wonder...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Worst Flooding in Belgium in 50 Years

I finally saw a ray of sunlight after a continuous downpour since last Thursday. Last Thursday (11 Nov) was a holiday here in Belgium. It was de Wapenstilstandsdag, which is meant to commemorate the end of the 1st World War. Hubby decided to take Friday off, so it was a long weekend for us, and we were contemplating to go to Bastogne to visit the war museum. Alas, it started to pour like nobody's business on Thursday, so we waited til Friday and Saturday but the rain didn't stop. Hence we were literally stuck at home for all 4 days with this horrid weather.

Although it kept raining for the past 4 days, it wasn't particularly heavy where I stay, so I was kind of shocked to hear over the news on Saturday that certain regions of Belgium such as Oost Vlaanderen and some parts of Wallonia have been severely affected by the flood. The extent of damage is so serious that the victims have to be evacuated from their houses and put up overnight elsewhere til the water subsides. The media declares this as the worst flood in Belgium for the past 50 years, or even 100 years.

So far there have been 4 casualties, mostly old folks who got trapped and drowned in the rising water. Hundreds of families across the country are affected, a few schools in the affected regions are closed as the classrooms are knee deep in water, and the fire brigades have been kept busy pumping out water and rescuing people trapped in their homes.

The weather is now very cold and wet, so I can imagine when your house is flooded and all your furnitures are soaked knee-deep in muddy water, and your car in the garage is also submerged in water and cannot be started, what a heartbreak it will be. It is not a good start for the cold bleak winter and definitely not something you would look forward to when you come home. Let's all pray that the water quickly subsides, and the victims can all return to their homes soonest possible. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home-made Lasagne Step by Step

I thought of posting some pictures on how to make lasagne step by step. It has been a regular dish for us during the past 2 years and I had actually posted the recipe when I first started my blog, without any photos of course.

Lasagne may appear daunting to someone who has never attempted it before, but actually it is not that difficult provided you have the right ingredients and follow the right steps. I don't profess to be an expert in any way on italian cuisine, and I hardly cook any italian dishes apart from this lasagne dish and the occasional self-concocted pasta dishes. This lasagne recipe was given to me by a belgian friend of my hubby. I had tasted the dish when we were invited to her house for dinner one night, and it was so 'marvellicious' that I absolutely had to ask for her recipe and try it out myself.

So here are some pictures to help you along, you should be able to get it right the first time if you follow the steps diligently.  :)

See the complete recipe here, courtesy of our belgian friend Inge.

STEP BY STEP METHOD

1. How to make ratatouille :
In a nonstick pot/pan, put some oil/butter, and fry the sliced onions until slightly brown. Add the courgette, followed by canned tomatoes. Flavour with provencaalse herbs. Close lid and simmer over small fire for 15-20min.

2. Preheat oven to 200C.

3. Mix philadelphia cheese with goat cheese and milk in a big bowl using a whisk or spatula. Add a dash of pepper while mixing it thoroughly. Make sure it is of liquid texture with no lumps.

4. In a big oven-proof dish, first place a layer of ratatouille (in step 1) at the bottom, followed by a layer of lasagne leaves (3-4 per layer). The lasagne leaves have to be broken into pieces and the edges must be slightly overlapped with each other. Then sprinkle a layer of ham, finally pour the cheese mixture (in step 3) on top of the ham. Lay the ovendish with the 3 layers in sequence. Just make sure that the uppermost layer is cheese mixture and ham








The ingredients should be able to make 9 layers. For simplicity I am only showing photos up to 6 layers. (Ratatouille => lasagne leaves => cheese mixture with ham => Ratatouille => lasagne leaves => cheese mixture with ham => Ratatouille => lasagne leaves => cheese mixture with ham.)

5. Bake for 45 min at 200C, until the top layer looks crispy and slightly brown, and the cheese sauce is sizzling. (You can see from my last photo that the top layer of lasagne leaves seemed a tad too dry and hard, that was because I ran out of philadelphia cheese and goat cheese for the cheese sauce, so make sure you have enough cheese sauce to cover the top layer completely, otherwise the lasagne leaves may not be fully cooked. Add some more milk to the cheese sauce if necessary. )




If you have another similar recipe which you would like to share, do drop me a note, or if you have tried out my lasagne recipe and would like to give me some feedback, feel free to do so! Smakelijk eten! 

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