Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MTR #4 - Christmas Fruit Tree

This christmas fruit tree has been very popularly in the blogosphere lately. When I first came across this idea, I was so attracted to it that I told myself I have to do it with my children, not all of them but the 2 older ones at least. Instead of using carrot and apple as the "pillar", I decided to make good use of a homegrown courgette given by a neighbour which has been sitting in our garage for 2 months! Instead of throwing it away or eating it, why don't I use it as the "pillar"? It was easy for me to poke holes into the courgette but the courgette was so fat that I kind of under-estimated the surface I had to cover and I actually ran out of toothpicks! Next time I must remember to choose a skinny courgette! :)

I asked my 5 year old boy to help me in attaching the fruits and veggies to this christmas tree. He was pretty enthousiastic about this activity since he could eat the fruits at the same time. Those that fell off the tree by accident were immediately picked up by him and off they went into his mouth! It was really a fun bonding activity for both me and my boy, and after snapping photos of the christmas fruit tree, the 2 girls woke up and all three of them got a chance to pluck the fruits and eat them. :)

By the way, the fruits and veggies I chose were: courgette, broccoli, tomatoes, kum quat, mandarin oranges, grapes and kiwi. 

I am submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

This post is also linked to "Cook and Celebrate Christmas 2014" organized by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

Monday, December 22, 2014

MTR #4 - Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I made a batch of cranberry pistachio biscotti last Saturday. I wasn't very happy with the baking process since the cookie dough crumbled easily during slicing, so I was hesitating whether I should post the recipe. Nevertheless they were very delicious!

Few days later I thought that since I have already spent time and effort on making the biscotti, I might as well blog about it, whether it's ugly or not, that"s a separate matter! As usual, I will put up the photo first and then the recipe later. Hopefully I can still submit to the biscotti bake-along which is about to close in a few hours' time!

Recipe adapted from Aunty Yochana. Instead of dried apricots, I used dried cranberries. For those who wish to try this recipe, I would advise you to slice it in long slices like what Yochana did. I divided the dough into 2 and tried to slice each in small 1-inch pieces and it didn't work very well for me, as the dough crumbled easily. Maybe my gongfu was not good enough. :)

I am submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

This post is also linked to "Cook and Celebrate Christmas 2014" organized by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MTR #4 - Braided Nutella Christmas Tree Bread

Do you like this Braided Nutella Christmas Tree Bread? Isn't it pretty? I think it looks pretty and I like it very much, although I did not do a good job in plaiting the braids. The braids were a little messy, but the bread was good, especially the nutella filling! It was sweet and crunchy, and it tasted very much like a brioche. 

This bread tasted much better than the santa bread I did last week which had no filling and as a result was quite bland. Instead of nutella filling, you can put in kaya filling, red bean paste filling, or cinnamon filling, so that your braided christmas tree bread can be green or red too! :)

My son was so smitten with this bread. At first he didn't want to touch it bcos he didn't know what kind of bread that was. But after seeing his little sister munching the bread non-stop, he asked for a small piece, and voila, he was convinced that it was so good that he wanted to bring the whole bread to school the next day. As for my daughter, anything with nutella or choco paste is good for her, you don't have to ask her, she was busy stuffing her mouth with the bread! :)

Recipe adapted from Steve's Kitchen 

450g bread flour
70g sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast (6g)
250ml warm milk (I left 1 tbsp behind)
2 egg yolks (keep the whites as egg-wash)
30g salted butter (I used unsalted)
1 cup nutella, warmed up slightly to spreadable consistency (I didn't warm it up in microwave 
as my hazelnut spread was quite runny)

1. Put the wet ingredients first, followed by the dry ingredients on top in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and sugar at separate corners, then dig a hole in the centre and add in the yeast. Mix everything together and knead the dough until it becomes a smooth, pliable and non-stick dough.  (I used the dough hook of my Bosch MUM5 stand-mixer to knead for about 12 min at speed 3. You can also use your hands to knead for about 10 to 12 min. Note that my dough was elastic and stretchable but yet to achieve windowpane stage. The dough was easy to handle, and was not sticky at all. I did not use up the full amount of milk, and there was still 1 tbsp left.)

2. After kneading, shape the dough into a big ball. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil or olive oil to grease the bowl, then turn the dough around to make sure it is well-greased. Cover with greased clingwrap and proof in a warm place for 1 to 1.5 hours or until doubled.

3. Punch down the dough and divide it into 4 equal portions. (My dough was 810g and each portion was 202g.)

4. Flour the work surface with bread flour. Use your palm to flatten one dough and shape it roughly into a triangle. Then flour the rolling-pin and roll the dough out into a tall triangle with a height of 30 cm. Transfer the triangular dough onto a sheet of baking paper and use a butter knife or offset spatula to spread the nutella filling very thinly onto the triangular dough. The nutella filling should cover the dough entirely except for the base where you should leave a fringe of about 1 inch and just spread the area of the tree trunk.

5. Roll out the 2nd piece of the dough into a similar sized triangle. Place it on top of the 1st piece and spread the nutella filling. Do the same for the 3rd piece. For the 4th piece, just place it on top of the 3rd piece without spreading the nutella.

6. Now trim the edges of the nutella christmas tree with a sharp serrated knife.

7. With the help of a ruler, make an indentation from the top to the base of the tree, just above where the tree trunk is. Do the same for the other side and you will have 2 indented lines that joins together at the top.  

8. Cut the branches into 1 inch thick on each side of the tree, then twist each branch accordingly.

9. Cover with a big piece of greased aluminium foil. Proof in a warm place for about 30 min. Then apply egg wash (egg whites mixed with a little milk) with a soft pastry brush. (Do not over-proof otherwise the bread will puff up too much or the nutella will start droozing out as what happened to me.)

10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 15 min or until golden brown. (I made a mistake, I mis-read the recipe and baked for 30 min in total, but I tented the bread with foil after 15 min, luckily it turned out alright even after 30 min!)

11. Once the bread is baked, remove it from oven and let it cool on a cooling rack. After it has cooled down for a while, dissolve a little sugar in warm water (I used 3 tsp in 3/4 cup), and use a pastry brush to glaze it over the bread. Then sprinkle white sesame seeds along the sides and the centre of the bread.

I am submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

This post is also linked to "Cook and Celebrate Christmas 2014" organized by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

This post is also linked to YeastSpotting.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bread Machine Fish Floss Using Canned Mackerel Fillet

I made this batch of fish floss using canned mackerel fillet in my Primo bread machine on 4 Dec 2014. This was already posted on my facebook page on the day itself, but I was just too lazy and too busy to put this in my blog.

Anyway, I will just post the pictures here quickly. The seasoning I used for this fish floss was similar to my bread machine chicken floss recipe but I have cut down on the amount of fish sauce and dark soya sauce since the canned mackerel fillet was already salty by itself. I used 3 cans in total, weighing 300g.

I will follow up with a brief description of the steps later if time permits but the exact amount of seasoning will not be provided

Fish floss straight from the can

Fish floss after marinade was added, before starting the bread machine.

Fish Floss after 1.5 cycles of JAM function, lasting 1 hour 50 min.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

MTR #4 - Santa Bread for Christmas?

I remember seeing a santa bread last year during one of the Christmas blog-hops which I joined, so this year I decide that I definitely have to give that recipe a try just to see whether my art & craft skills has improved or went down hill since my school days. 

I originally intended to use my belgian brioche recipe without the raisins, but I soon realised that it contained custard powder which may not be available for many people, so I decided to stick to this original recipe which I think is also a brioche recipe. I just converted the US cup measurements to metric measurements for my own convenience, since I am not used to baking with cups of flour and sticks of butter.

I am not a very art-inclined person, so I was quite happy that this santa claus bread turned out well for me, although my sister in Singapore commented that it looked like an octopus when I whatsapped her a foto of the finished bread. Actually, the beard of the santa really looked like an octopus, and his moustache looked like a crab, LOL! OMG, my santa claus has turned into a marine creature. =)

This recipe is adapted from Taste of Home with modifications. I have listed the ingredients in terms of metrics, as I am not comfortable with using US cup measurements.


4 to 4.5 cups bread flour (I used 4 cups or 508grams)
112g fine sugar
4.5 tsp or 13.5g instant yeast
1 tsp salt (reduced from the original 1.5 tsp)
125g milk
62g water
57g unsalted butter, diced
2 eggs at room temp

2 raisins
2 egg yolks
a few drops of red colouring (I used Wilton food colouring)

1. In a large bowl, combine (2 cups or 254g of) bread flour, salt and sugar together.

2. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to about 49 to 54C  (120-130F), the mixture must not be too hot since yeast is killed at a temperature of 55-60C or 130-140F. Rule of thumb is that the mixture must be warm but not too hot and still ok to touch with your finger. 

3. Add yeast to the liquid mixture and stir well and let it sit for 5 min until foamy. This is to check if your yeast is alive. (If you are confident, you can skip the waiting and straight away add the liquid to the dry ingredients. I am using instant yeast / rapid-rise yeast, which actually doesn't require dissolving in water, but I am just following the recipe.)

4. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients (bread flour, salt and sugar), beat until just moistened and formed into a dough. Then add in beaten eggs. Add in enough flour (the remaining 2 cups or 254g) until a stiff dough is formed, then knead until it becomes smooth, non-stick and pliable and the texture feels like plasticine. (I used my BOSCH MUM5 stand-mixer and I used the kneading hook to knead at speed 3 for 10 min, until the dough became elastic and stretchable but yet to achieve windowpane stage. You can knead by hand if you like.)

5. Place the dough into a big bowl greased with a little vegetable oil, turning the dough once to grease the top of the dough as well. Cover with greased clingwrap and let it proof in a warm place for 1 hour or so, or until doubled in volume. 

6. Preheat oven to 175C or 350F. 

7. Shaping of the bread : Punch down the dough to de-gas, and divide the dough into 2 portions, one slightly bigger than the other. The weight of the dough was about 900g, so I divided it into 500g and 400g each. 

  • Roll out the bigger 500g dough (using a slightly floured rolling pin on a slightly floured work surface) into an elongated triangle with rounded corners, this will serve as the Santa's hat and face. Transfer it onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or a greased cooking sheet. Make sure there is enough room for expansion at the top, bottom and sides.
  • For the 400g dough, divide further into 2 pieces of 200g each. Shape and flatten 1 piece into a big semi-circle, then using a pair of scissors or knife, cut into very thin strips until 1 inch from the top. Position the beard onto the lower half of Santa's face, then twist and curl the strips.

  • For the remaining 200g dough, divide into 4 (not necessarily equal) portions for the moustache, nose, pom-pom of the hat, and brim of the hat.
  • For the moustache, just roll the dough out into an small rectangle, make a twist in the middle and cut the ends into small strips, then place it above the beard.

  • For the nose, just roll the dough into a small ball and place it above the moustache.
  • For the pom-pom, just roll the dough into a small ball, fold the tip of the hat over and place the pom-pom at the end of the folded tip.
  • For the hat brim, just flatten the dough into a rectangle and place it where the hat is.
  • For the eyes, I just made 2 small indents with the tip of my finger and inserted a raisin into each indent.

8. In 2 separate small bowls, beat 1 egg yolk in each bowl. Add a few drops of red food colouring to one bowl and mix well. Brush the non-coloured egg yolk over the moustache, beard, face and pom-pom, then brush the red egg yolk over the hat, brim, nose and cheeks. You are advised to do the glazing first for the non-coloured yolk as the red colour may run, and especially if you only have 1 pastry brush, you don't want the brush to be tainted. Keep the 2 bowls of egg yolks for later and don't throw them away as you may need to touch up during baking.

9. Prepare a piece of aluminium foil big enough to cover the santa. Grease the shiny part of the foil and cover the bread loosely with the shiny part facing down. Make sure the foil don't stick to the bread.

10. Bake in preheated oven at 180C for 15 min, then remove the foil and bake further for 10 to 12 min or until golden brown.  When you are removing the foil, you can take the opportunity to touch up the bread and glaze with red-coloured egg yolk, since the dough will expand and there will be parts of the dough which are not covered by the egg wash.

- I used 1 tsp salt instead of 1.5 tsp, and 4 cups of flour (508 grams) when the original recipe suggested 4 to 4.5 cups

- The original recipe said to combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt, but I think this may cause the instant yeast to be killed by the salt if you don't start the kneading process immediately. So I changed the steps such that you only combine bread flour with sugar and salt. 

- There was a little hiccup along the way. While washing up the utensils right after putting the bread into the oven, I threw away the 2 bowls of egg-wash. But half-way through, after removing the foil, I realised I needed to touch up the bread since it has expanded and there were parts that were not glazed. Hence my advice is to retain the 2 bowls or egg-wash in case you need to touch up during half-time.

I am submitting this post to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

This post is also linked to "Cook and Celebrate Christmas 2014" organized by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

This post is also linked to YeastSpotting.

Monday, December 1, 2014

MTR #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas Time !!!

Time flies, before I even know it, MTR #3 is already finished. And 1st Dec has arrived, which means to say, here is the start of another blog-hop event. 

First of all, I would take to take this opportunity to thank all the bloggers who have participated in MTR #3 - Taste of Autumn, and my sincere apologies to all of you if I have not left any comments of late. It has been a very busy month for me in November. I think it's gonna be even more hectic for me come December and January, OMG!

Xmas Log Cake 2013

So what are your (cooking and baking) plans for December? Have you thought of what to do, what to eat, what to bake or cook? It's time to start thinking, if not, start preparing for Christmas. As I look back on what I have done for the past 2 years, I realise what little I have done. I have done a Christmas Yule Log Cake (bûche de Noël) and a Rice Cooker Xmas Fruit Cake in 2013 and a Christmas Log Cake with Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet in 2012.

2013 -  Rice Cooker Xmas Fruit Cake

So this year, my goal is to bake or cook something more interesting for Christmas. I 've already had something in mind, let me keep it secret for the moment....sshhh....I will post it when the time comes. :)

2012 - Xmas Log Cake with Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet 

Are you keen to join me? Just bake or cook something for this month related to Christmas.

Here are some of the rules and conditions for this blog-hop:
1) This blog hop shall last for 1 month from 1 Dec 2014 to 31 Dec 2014. Your post must be a current post within the specified date range. You may submit more than 1 entry.

2) Pls indicate that you are submitting your post to "My Treasured Recipes #4 - Ho Ho Ho It's Christmas (Dec 2014)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery HousePls remember to link back, otherwise the entry will not be accepted. 

3) Your recipe has to involve a cooked or baked dish related to the Christmas festive season. It can be something traditional, or something that you usually serve during your Christmas party, or even something non-traditional which you think is ideal for the Christmas season. Participation is very simple, just click on the "Add Your Link" button and submit through the InLinkz tool.

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