Homemade naan

Homemade naan

My first try and making homemade naan!

I had another recipe which called for slightly more ingredients – yogurt and butter – but I didn’t want to drive out just for these two items so I settled for something simpler. While the preparation time took a while (total 2.5 hours minimum), I reckon it was well-worth the wait! (It is simple to prepare and most of the prep time is more of you waiting for the dough to rise.)

The result was very lovely, fragrant and soft yet crispy crusted naan! We had this with baked BBQ chicken breasts and Nyonya achar. I know, weird combination but I was trying to clear out the fridge. The kids had this with either BBQ chicken or stuffed with back bacon and mozzarella. It was easy to make “stuffed” naan – simply place the ingredients in the middle of the flattened out balls and foll over. Noah kept asking for second and third helpings!

We had extras which is great because these can be chuck into the freezer to be kept for one of those days when I don’t feel like cooking up a storm in the kitchen! Tehehehe.

Cheesy naan

Homemade naan
From Periplus Mini Cookbooks’ Malaysian Hawker Favourites

Ingredients
(Makes 8 naan)

450 g plain flour
200 ml water
50ml milk
1.5 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside until the mixture curdles and thickens. In a separate bowl, dissolve the sugar in 100ml of the water and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside until the mixture turns frothy.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and the soured milk into the flour and mix with your hands. Add the remaining water gradually to get a fairly soft dough. Add more flour/water if necessary.
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (takes about 10-15 mins of arm muscle!).
  4. When ready, set aside and cover with a damp cloth to rise until it doubles in size (minimum 1 hour).
  5. Divide the dough evenly into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and set aside on a lightly floured surface until it rises and feels soft to the touch (about 30 minutes).
  6. Dust the working surface lightly with flour and using your fingers, flatten the balls into an oval/round shape. They should be approximately 1 cm thick. Lay them out on a well-floured surface (IMPORTANT!) and cover with a clean, dry cloth to rise until the dough feels spongy and light to the touch (about 30-45 mins).
  7. To cook, use a non-stick frying pan and place one naan in the center of your ungreased pan to cook on high heat and covered for two minutes. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately with any dish of your choice.
  8. To store extras, cool the naan on a wire tray and store them in a container. They can keep for 2 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer. To heat up, sprinkle each naan lightly with water and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side in a frying pan. Frozen naans should be left to thaw to room temperature before reheating.
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Sourdough Bread – Part II: Savoury sourdough slice

Savoury Sourdough Slice

Now that my sourdough has been sitting in the fridge for over a week, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t really have any recipes at hand; just wanted to make a bread or slice or pizza-like meal with it. So I went out to get some beef salami-styled sausages (I know it sounds weird), fresh rosemary and mozzarella. Initially I wanted to add sundried tomato pesto to the whole mix but I decided against it at the last minute.

The kids found it amusing to nosy around the table as I worked on the dough – it was very soft and ultra sticky. I didn’t really use any measurements – only estimates – so that could be the reason. Still, it turned out to be a pretty flavourful slice of some sorts. The tang that you would normally expect from a sourdough isn’t quite there (it’s very subtle) but the smell is!

I might attempt this again but this time with the unrefined organic plain flour I purchased earlier. Wholemeal – while extremely filling – can be a little bit dry and “too much” for the kids.

Savoury sourdough slice

Ingredients

Slightly under 1 cup sourdough starter
1.5 to 2 cups flour (wholewheat mixed with plain flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
Toppings of your choice (sausage, bacon, onions, olives, etc)
Fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc)
Cheese (mozzarella, Gouda, Gruyere, Edam, etc)

Method

  1. A few hours before your meal, mix the flour, sourdough starter, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add water if necessary to form of pliable dough. Set aside to proof for at least 4-6 hours (the longer you proof your dough, the more flavour it develops).
  2. When ready, preheat your oven to 220°C and prepare a pan of your choice.
  3. Roll your dough out on a lightly floured surface and place it on the pan. This is meant to be a slice so your dough should be about .5 to 1 cm thick.
  4. Brush the extra virgin olive oil all over the surface of the bread before sprinkling it with a good amount of fresh herbs. Add the toppings of your choice (I used beef sausages, bacon and some garlic) before adding in rough chunks of cheese (I used mozzarella but feel free to add cheddar, parmesan and Gruyere for that extra kick).
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the surface and crust is golden brown. Serve fresh from the oven as it is or with a few splashes of hot sauce.
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Sourdough Bread – Part I

Sourdough starter!

I didn’t know what sourdough breads were or what it tasted like until I came back to Malaysia. Weird when you consider that some of the yummiest breads I’ve ever tasted came from France. O’well…

Someone suggested this bakery in Balik Pulau that churns out really yummy sourdough bread and after taking a look at their inventory, I gave it a try since they had dark German styled rye bread – my hubby’s favourite. During my last purchase, I fell in love with their classic sourdough bread and that got me to thinking…

Why not try to make my own sourdough bread? It looks like fun…

Of course when I thought of the idea, I wasn’t aware that it would take a while to get some stable sourdough starter! But hey, I have time. LOL.

All I did to kick start things was mix together 1 small cup of flour with 1 small cup of water. I stirred that in my large plastic container, covered the opening with a paper towel that is held in place with a rubber band and set it up on top of my fridge.

Now all I had to do was wait.

Took about 1.5 days for some sign of life – bubbles and all. Once that got going, I added in another cup of flour and another cup of water to feed it. Today is the third day and as you can see in the pics, it looks pretty bubbly. I forgot to remove half of the starter before feeding it earlier today – I read that you have to remove half otherwise, you’ll have to double up on the amounts for each feed. I’ll do that tomorrow morning – hopefully it’s be still as good then.

In the meantime, it’s back to knitting…I ought to add more oil to my knitting since I’m almost at the end but soaping (and working on a new range of stuff) is keeping me really busy!

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Baked banana doughnuts

Baked banana doughnuts

Eva had been hounding me for the last few days about baking up something with bananas, honey, eggs and all that. So as I was driving the kids to school, we discussed this and decided on doughnuts (she discovered the mould). Okay, I set about on searching for a recipe, came up with one and waited for the kids to finish their nap.

On cue, at 4pm, both wake up and demand to be in the kitchen – yes, Noah included. The little man sat in his IKEA high chair, wondering what was going on. He got all excited when I sent Eva to get the bananas. After downing two, he realized that we were doing something with the darn bananas and started asking for a piece of the action. He wasn’t satisfied with just staring. So I gave him a butter knife. Nope, that didn’t make him happy. In fact, he didn’t stop screaming until I set the mixing bowl right in front of him! Then Eva got upset because she wanted to see what was going on too. I gave her the task of mixing the eggs into the batter. That made Noah angry. So okay, I gave him the butter knife and got him to crack the egg. Nope, that wasn’t enough. He wanted to molest the broken egg. Aiks.

The two finally calmed down but that was only because they were each busy licking off batter from the butter knife and spatula.

Heh.

Anyway, the resulting doughnut doesn’t really have the crunchy exterior that you get from deep frying but that’s okay. It is more of a cake-muffin in the shape of a doughnut but it still went down well with everyone including the hubby who came home and promptly ate three doughnuts at one go. Heh. As always, it’s best to use ultra ultra ripe bananas for any baked goodies. I didn’t have that were about to die so I settled for “just ripe” bananas. The taste is still good and quite delish but I think it would have been better had the bananas been riper. I might even add some chocolate chips or chopped dried fruit or chopped almonds to the batter the next time I attempt this. Yums!

Baked banana doughnuts
Adapted from Janie’s Kitchen’s recipe here

Ingredients

3-4 small ripe bananas
Slightly less than 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour/plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat your oven at 180 C.
  2. Mix the mashed banana, sugar and greek yogurt together until incorporated.
  3. Add in the melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. Fold in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Do not overmix!
  5. Scoop the batter into a zip lock bag/food grade plastic bag or a pipping bag and seal shut. Using scissors, snip the bottom corner of one side of the ziplock bag to create your homemade piping bag.
  6. Pipe the batter into the doughnut mould until it’s 3/4 full. You can sprinkle brown sugar & cinnamon powder on the top if you like (I sprinkled some brown sugar on a few of the doughnuts).
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the doughnuts are golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool before eating/storage. These can be kept in an airtight container for 1-2 days before storing them in the fridge. To reheat, simply warm them up in a microwave (covered) or steam (covered) for a few minutes.
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Mooncake galore! (Part II)

Mooncake Galore: The finished cakes in a few different flavours

The final tally stands at nearly 27 mooncakes – 12 made with pure lotus paste, 10 with mixed nuts & lotus paste surrounded by pandan flavoured lotus paste and 5 made with pandan lotus paste. The mixed nuts mooncake was a play on the traditional salted egg yolk centre mooncakes. I just mixed a handful of walnuts, chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds with the remaining lotus paste and shaped them into balls weight 25 gms. To mimic the outer filling (traditionally lotus paste), I used pandan lotus paste instead and utilised about 50-55 gms of the stuff.

As you can see, the nut-centred mooncake looks pretty decent except for the tiny pockets of air. That portion – the kneading and enveloping of the outer filling requires more work. I haven’t tried this but my hubby and his colleague have tried the lotus paste mooncake and find the filling to be just nice, skin isn’t too thick but because it hasn’t matured (mooncakes need at least 24-48 hours to soften and mature), the skin is a bit tad on the hard side. I’ll have to wait and see if that is the case even after maturing as I encountered some issues with the recipe (I found it to be a bit tad too fluid and tacky so I added in about another 50 gms of flour or so). Hm.

Mixed nuts & pandan mooncake

Traditional mooncakes

Ingredients
Makes about 30 small-medium mooncakes (approx 50-70 gms in weight)

(A) Skin
350 gms cake flour
250 ml golden syrup
100 ml vegetable oil
7 ml lye water

(B) Filling
Approx 1 to 1.5kg filling of your choice (lotus paste, mung bean paste, pandan flavoured paste, etc)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix the golden syrup, alkaline water and oil well before adding in the flour. Use a spatula to combine all ingredients before kneading into a dough. Do not overknead or over-stir. Cover and set aside to rest for at least 45 minutes or overnight if possible.
  2. Roll and divide your filling into 65-70 gm balls (remember to oil your hands) and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven at 180 C for at least 30 minutes. This is crucial in ensuring a nicely baked crust.
  4. Divide the dough into 20 gm balls (remember to keep your hands and fingers dusted with flour). Depending on your filling and how it’s structured (just filling & skin or two different fillings & skin), wrap the skin around the filling. If you have two fillings (egg yolk/nuts/filling surrounded by another filling), wrap the center portion with the filling before you wrap it with the dough. Roll the finished product into a nice ball.
  5. Dust the ball lightly with flour and placed the stuffed mooncake into the mould. Lightly press down onto the pan and gently remove the mould. Repeat until all the filling & dough is finished.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Remove and allow the mooncakes to cool for 15 minutes before brushing them with egg wash. Continue to bake until the pastry turns golden brown (about 10-12 minutes). Remove and cool on a wire rack before storing in an air tight container.
  7. Allow the mooncake to sit and mature for at least 24-48 hours before serving. To store, keep these in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Mooncake galore!

Mooncake Galore: The final product

Mooncake fever has landed here in Malaysia with bakeries and commercial stores carrying a wide range of traditional (baked) and snowskin (non-baked) mooncakes. I have never really been a true fan of mooncakes – we just eat one and give the rest away to friends or family. This coupled with the fact that I have no love for mooncakes with salted egg or any of those funky flavours like mango or durian. (Perhaps in that sense, I’m a traditionalist.) My mum likes her mooncakes with plenty of mixed nuts and my dad? He stays away from mooncakes – too sweet for his tastebuds!

So yes, whenever mooncake festival hits, we end up buying one or two cakes to satisfy the craving. Looking at the prices a few days back, I was shocked at how pricey mooncakes are, especially snowskin mooncakes. The cheapest was RM14 for a baked mooncake (lotus filling, no salted egg yoke centre) while the contemporary mooncakes (different filling like chocolate, tiramisu, etc, or with egg yolks) retail for anywhere from RM22-25.

I decided there and then to try baking mooncakes instead of buying them. This is a challenge for me because somehow, I have always had the impression that they were tough to make. So I cheated and bought ready-made filling first to get a hang of making the skin and to search around for a good filling recipe. After the kids went to bed, I set about to making the mooncakes. The first batch is still cooling in the kitchen as I’m writing this out but several notes to make:

  • Definitely need more practice getting the ratio of skin to filling right. I used 60gms of pure lotus paste with 30 gms of skin but I reckon I can cut that down to 20 gms since my cakes came out with fat bottoms.
  • I need to get myself an accurate measuring cup for liquids – I think I used too much golden syrup/oil which resulted in a rather wet dough…or maybe it’s supposed to be that wet. Hm.
  • When rolling out the filling into balls, one must oil one’s hands but do not do this with the skin. In fact, flour is the way to go for the skin. Saves you some misery. No rolling pin either – pointless and creates a lot of mess. The skin is soft so it’s very pliable and easy to work with.
  • I let the dough for the skin rest for 45 mins for the first batch. The second batch – which I’ll make tomorrow – will use dough that has rested for an entire night. Lets see if there is a difference in the taste and texture.

As for the taste, I’ll have to comment on that later – freshly baked mooncakes don’t taste as good as ones that have been resting for at least 24-48 hours. Tehehehe.

Mooncake Galore: First attempt in the oven

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Oh tempeh!

Tempeh

I have a newfound love and it’s called tempeh. Somewhat like cheese, tempeh is soybeans that have been fermented with a fungus to give it that white cake-like structure. It is often used as a meat substitute and is quite versatile. You can stir fry it, bake it, deep fry it and serve it on its own or as part of a meal. Some people even use it as a veggie burger patty!

While this was hard to find in Europe – I was tempted to buy a tempeh kit and make my own – and only Malay sellers stock these (forget about trying to find them at a Chinese veg stall) in Singapore, wet markets here in Penang sell plenty of these 100 gm cakes…yes, even at the Chinese veggie stall. You can also find them at hypermarkets like Giant and Tesco. They don’t cost much…in fact, a cake goes for about RM1.50 to RM2.

Prepwork is easy with tempeh. There is no need to wash the cake; just remove from the packaging, cut the cake into whatever size you want it to be in and fry it with anything – onions, diced garlic, sambal, chilli…it’s up to you, really. Some people like theirs hard and crunchy (you’ll probably have to shallow fry or deep fry it) but that’s too much work and too much oil so I just stir fry mine with some spicy sambal and four angle beans (also known as winged beans) – another favourite veggie that is common in Malay cuisine but not so much in Chinese cuisine.

Taste-wise, tempeh is a little bit nutty and earthy – somewhat like eating mushrooms with peanuts! If you fry yours like mine and with similar vegetables, you’ll find that the soft texture of the tempeh goes well with an added crunch from the four angle beans. Oh, if your kids are not adverse to this, you can make it kid-friendly and fry up some with some minced garlic and hey presto, a quick and easy side dish!

Sambal tempeh & four angle beans

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Citrus crunch cream cheese pound cake

Citrus crunch cream cheese pound cake

This was a last minute bake in an attempt to clear out the fridge and I did this prior to the move back to Malaysia. Due to all the hoohah and craziness of moving itself, finding an apartment here in M’sia and what-not, the entry never made the light of day till now. Between then till now, I have forgotten many things except that the kids (and hubby) enjoyed this and that it was just right.

Citrus crunch cream cheese pound cake

Citrus crunch cream cheese pound cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker’s recipe here

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest & juice from 1 orange
Approx 300 gms cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped almonds
Slightly under 1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/2 tbsps poppyseed

Method

  1. Preheat your oven at 160 C and prepare a loaf or square pan of your choice.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder before setting aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the zest to the sugar and rub in before setting aside. Beat the butter and cream cheese until they are evenly mixed before adding in the sugar and zest mix. Beat until creamy and smooth.
  4. Add in the egg, one at a time, before adding in the vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. Once ready, add in the flour, poppyseed, chopped almonds and dessicated coconut before folding in until the flour is just incorporated (it’s okay if the mixture is lumpy or looks floury)
  6. When ready, pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 60 mins. Test with a skewer for doneness – a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean, or with just a few crumbs.
  7. Remove from the oven to cool in the pan and enjoy as is or with a cup of tea. Great for kids too!
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