November 25, 2014

Mantou \\ Chinese Steamed Buns


I've always loved Chinese steamed buns in all their varieties - particularly char siu bao (barbecue pork), lotus seed paste bao and simple, plain bao (mantou).  It's been a long desire of mine to make my own bao at home, and with this recipe, I finally can!

Plain mantou are great as a snack; I usually eat them paired with some steamed dumplings, which makes for a delicious lunch.  In some restaurants they serve deep fried mantou with condensed milk, which is another great (if less healthy) option for eating these!

Recipe adapted from: Yi Reservation
Ingredients
1 tsp dry instant yeast
400g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
40g white sugar
1 tsp salt
30mL lukewarm water
200mL room temperature water
1 tbsp oil

Method
1. Combine the yeast, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl.  We used our KitchenAid with the dough hook attachment.

2. Add the lukewarm water and mix, then slowly add the room temperature water while mixing.  Using dry instant yeast (we use Tandaco) and this method works without having to proof the yeast.

3. Finally add the oil.

4. Let the mixer run and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball.  If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour; if it's too dry, add a little more water.

5. Cover the dough with a tea towel and set it aside for 45 - 60 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.

6. Punch the dough down and knead for a few more minutes.

7. Cut the dough into sections - halves if you would like larger bao or quarters for smaller bao.

8. Flour your table or work surface so the dough doesn't stick, then roll the sections of dough into rectangles.



9. Brush the dough with water.



10. Roll the dough lengthways into a log.



11. Cut the log into bao-sized pieces - they can be whatever size you like.




12. Place the dough into a steamer basket lined with baking paper.  Make sure that you leave space between the bao so they have some more room to grow - let them sit under a tea towel for another 30 minutes.  It's best to do this directly in the steamer basket because if you have to transfer them from place to place after they've risen, the dough can easily become misshapen.





13. Steam the dough in the steamer baskets over boiling water for 12 - 15 minutes, depending on the size of your mantou.  Leave them covered in the steamer baskets for 5 minutes after they've finished steaming.


The finished buns should be nice and fluffy, and are amazing to eat while they're warm!  I enjoyed mine dipped in some hoisin sauce and sweet plum sauce.


This post is part of the link-up party, Our Growing Edge, inspiring food bloggers to try new things and connect with each other.  This month is hosted by Linda of The Orange Bee.

November 17, 2014

Caramel Cookie-Cake


You can play with the baking time of this cookie-cake for a doughier creation or something more solid.  My favourite parts of this dessert were the chocolate chips and the caramel that had bubbled up to the top layer and gone all crunchy and delicious.  Mmmm.

Recipe adapted from: Italicana Kitchen
Ingredients - cake (22cm round tin)
170g butter
238g brown sugar
100g white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
280g flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
180g dark chocolate chips

Ingredients and method for caramel - use my caramel recipe here.  If you don't want any leftover caramel, you could probably make half a batch.
It's best to make the caramel in advance, even make it a day or two beforehand.  If you like, you can go ahead and add a few teaspoons of salt to make it into salted caramel.

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C (325 F).  Prepare a 22cm round tin with baking paper lining the bottom and butter on the sides.  I used a springform tin.

2. Melt the butter.

3. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar.

4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

5. Add the flour and bicarb soda and mix until just combined.

6. Stir the chocolate chips into the batter, making sure that they are evenly distributed.

7. Pour half the cookie dough batter into the prepared tin.

8. Tip a layer of caramel over the top.  This works best if the caramel is more of a spreadable consistency rather than liquid!  My caramel layer was about 1/2 - 1cm thick.

9. Spread the remaining batter over the top of the caramel.

10. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes.  Test its done-ness by poking a toothpick into the top as horizontally as you can, that way you are testing the cookie layer without dipping through the caramel.  I baked my cake for closer to 1 hour, until it was completely cooked through, but I think it would have been nicer if it was more doughy and soft.



11. Let the cake cool in its tin before serving.  It's best eaten warm, so all the chocolate chips are still melty, but it's delicious when cool as well!


November 9, 2014

Cake Batter Ice Cream


Ever since my mother requested that I make cake batter ice cream, I'd been on the lookout for a perfect recipe.  Every one I came across either used boxed cake mix, milk powder or some other ingredient that wasn't readily available to me.  Then I came across a recipe that didn't need any out-of-the-ordinary ingredients and was super simple to make!

Let me tell you, it is perfect.  It tastes just like cake batter, and has an amazing creamy texture.  Just be aware that this dessert features raw eggs, so if that's something you want to avoid, unfortunately this recipe is not the one for you.  I figured that with the amount of cake batter and cookie dough I've eaten in my lifetime (a lot), some more raw eggs would not do any more damage (thankfully, they didn't)!

Recipe adapted from: Foods of Our Lives
Ingredients
375mL thickened cream
250mL milk
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
115g flour
185g white sugar

Method
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Sifting the flour may help with lumps, but the few small lumps I found in the blended mixture were not noticeable in my finished ice cream.

2. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to your maker's instructions.  I did mine for about 30 minutes.  (I have a Cuisinart 2L ice cream maker of the freezer-bowl variety).

3. Once the ice cream is done churning and you are happy with the consistency, transfer it to a receptacle of your choice and put it in the freezer.  Alternatively, serve it straight away.



Enjoy!  I hope you love this as much as I did!




Next mission: gingerbread ice cream...

November 2, 2014

Orange Cake with Pastel Gradient Buttercream


I have a great orange cake recipe to share with you today, using a method that's very different from cakes I've done before but isn't too much of a hassle; and it makes a great, moist cake!  I topped mine off with orange flavoured buttercream for a coworker's birthday.

Recipe adapted from: Sweetapolita
Ingredients - cake (22cm round cake)
345g flour
400g white sugar
19g baking powder (1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
240mL milk
60mL orange juice
170g cold butter
Zest from 2 oranges

Ingredients - orange buttercream
454g butter (room temperature is best)
565g icing sugar
60mL strained orange juice

Method - cake
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).  I did this in a two layer cake, so I buttered and lined two 22cm round tins, but you can use three for a three layer cake if you like!

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.

3. Chop the butter into rough cubes.  With the mixer on a slow speed, add the cubes one at a time, waiting a few seconds in between.



4. Once all the butter is added, keep mixing until the mixture is crumbly and all the butter is combined.



5. Mix the milk and orange juice together, then gradually add it to the flour mixture and mix until combined.

6. Mix the whole eggs and the egg yolks with a fork, then add them gradually to the batter and beat until combined.

7. Finally, add the orange zest and mix gently.



8. Portion the batter evenly between your cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes (if you're using two cake tins), or until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

9. Let the cakes cool in the tin then turn them out onto wire racks.

Method - orange buttercream
1. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy.  I use the paddle attachment on my mixer.

2. Add the icing sugar and orange juice, and beat until the icing is light and fluffy.  This will take a few minutes.

3. If desired, tint the icing with food colouring.  For this cake, I left some buttercream un-coloured and tinted some a pale peachy orange.

Assemble the cake by sandwiching the cake layers with buttercream, then fully icing the outside of the finished cake.

I made an attempt at Sweetapolita's beautiful swirly gradient decoration (video tutorial here) with my peach coloured and white buttercream, and I feel pretty good about how it turned out!  I gave the top of the cake an extra bit of colour by swiping some of the peach coloured buttercream around the outside in a circle, then finishing off with some orange sprinkles.



October 29, 2014

The Perfect Chocolate Mud Cake - dense, moist and delicious


After attending the Melbourne Cake Bake and Sweets Show and sampling some truly life-changing chocolate mud cake, I was determined to find the perfect recipe I could make myself.  I'm glad to say that I think I've found it!

This cake is beautifully chocolatey, dense and decadent, is moist all the way throughout and keeps very well.  Topped off with some ganache, it is even more delicious.

Recipe adapted from: Family Circle via Through My Kitchen Window
Ingredients (large 23cm round cake or brownie-tin-sized sheet cake)
2 tbsp instant coffee granules
185mL hot water
250g butter
250g dark chocolate
550g caster sugar
300g flour
2 tsp baking powder
60g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
4 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
125mL milk

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 140 - 150C (280 - 300F).  Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper, ensuring that the baking paper extends above the top of the tin.  Alternatively, you can use multiple cake tins if you're making a layer cake, or brownie tins if you're making a sheet cake.  I have used the full amount of this recipe in two square brownie tins which worked really well!

Greasing the tin before lining it will make the baking paper stick to the tin and cooperate for you
2. Dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water.

3. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave until all parts are melted.  Add the sugar and coffee, stir until combined.  Set aside to cool.

4. In your mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and bicarb soda.  Make sure to sift the cocoa for a lump-free batter!

5. Add the eggs, oil and milk to the flour mixture and mix until combined.  I used the paddle on my Kitchenaid for this part.  You should end up with a pretty thick batter after this step.


6. Add half the chocolate mixture to the batter and mix until smooth and combined.

7. Add the remaining chocolate mixture to the batter and mix until completely smooth.  The batter should be of a pouring consistency.


8. Pour the batter into the lined baking tin/s you are using, and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 3/4 hours.  Depending on the thickness of your cake, this can be a shorter time - but will most likely be over 1 hour.  Make sure that you check using a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake.  It should come out with some crumbs on it - you want this mud cake to be very moist inside!

9. Let the cake cool in the tin.  Once cool, take it out of the tin and remove all the baking paper lining.


10. Using a serrated knife, level the cake to your satisfaction.
The first time I made this cake, I made half a batch of the recipe and baked it in a 20cm round tin for about 1 1/4 hours - it turned out beautifully but a bit sunken in the middle, so there were lots of off-cuts.  (I'm not complaining!)


11. Serve the cake as desired.  I recommend using a healthy amount of ganache (2:1 chocolate to cream ratio by weight).


Here are some snaps of the sheet cake version I made, again topped with ganache - kind of like brownies but more cakey and a little more, dare I say, sophisticated.  Props for the strawberry stacking arrangement go to my Mum!




Enjoy!


October 21, 2014

Fluffy Nectarine Cake


My Mum made a cake using this recipe with its original key ingredient, strawberries.  It was a good cake but the strawberry taste wasn't amazing - so we tried it again with another fruit we had lying around.  Nectarines!  
The resulting cake was very fluffy and quite delicious, especially paired with salted caramel.

Recipe adapted from: Allrecipes

Ingredients - one 20 x 30cm cake
115g butter
245g raw sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp bicarb soda
190g flour
1 cup mashed nectarines

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).

2. Cream the butter and sugar.


3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.  Stir in the vanilla and salt.


4. Mix the sour cream and bicarb soda in a small bowl until the bicarb has dissolved, then stir it into the egg mixture along with the flour.


5. Once that is combined, beat in the mashed nectarines until combined.  It was difficult to fully mash the nectarines, but just squoosh them up as well as you can.


6. Line your 20 x 30cm baking pan with baking paper, then pour the batter in and spread it out so it's flat.




7. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and springy when touched.




8. Let the cake cool a little and serve dusted with icing sugar or drizzled with caramel.