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
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

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 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
375mL thickened cream
250mL milk
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
115g flour
185g white sugar

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 (20cm (8 inch) 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.