14 Days to Christmas, 7 Days of Isolation…(?)

Itโ€™s been over a month since I last posted… and needless to say work and lockdown has completely took over my life in the past month… ๐Ÿ˜… (I was still required to go to work, so not that my routine changed dramatically at all, but the hours have been intense at times. ๐Ÿ˜›) However, one more week of work left before my official holiday, and I am determined to finish on a good note ๐Ÿ’ช and canโ€™t for Christmas to finally come! ๐ŸŽ…๐ŸŽ„โ„๏ธ

Unfortunately, a close colleague of mine has been tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago, so I am currently sitting out for self-isolation at home for another week. (Although a little birdie told me that self-isolation period is going to be shortened, so I may be returning to work sooner than I thought…) Meanwhile, itโ€™s good that I finally have some free time for myself to do some baking. Today, I have decided to make some flower sausage breads using a technique I learnt from making a sausage roll wreath last Christmas (after I saw that on Bake Off!) Bringing a little sunshine โ˜€๏ธ and a feel of spring ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒผ into this gloomy weather! ๐Ÿ˜Š I was so happy that the dough still managed to rise very well despite the freezing temperature haha! ๐Ÿฅถโ„๏ธโ„๏ธ

I have no idea what I will expect in my upcoming holiday (since I am nervous about booking anything in advance due to fears of change in restrictions), but hopefully some exciting fun will be on the horizon. ๐Ÿ˜ What are your plans for Christmas? ๐ŸŽ„

My Self-Isolation Diary

So from today, I am officially working from home. ๐Ÿ  In the past weekend, my daily routine has been reduced to meals, sleeping and binge watching TV (Not that itโ€™s hugely different from the usual haha! ๐Ÿ˜‚) I also set an aim for myself to update the blog as often as I could now that my schedule has freed up more. Hope you all are also doing well! Remember to keep on staying positive and look after each other! ๐Ÿ˜Š

With more than enough time now to spare, this calls for time for some bread making! ๐Ÿž๐Ÿฅ–๐Ÿฅฏ Usually, I can be a bit impatient with the dough, but this morning, I was telling myself to wait patiently for it to rise ๐Ÿ˜Œ (whist answering emails in between! ๐Ÿ˜) The bread rolls came out rather well (maybe just a tad under-proved) and the smells of fresh bread from the oven really did lift my appetite up as I got slightly lost track of time on the computer. (Thank god, I didnโ€™t burnt them lol!)

I misread the quantity of the recipe, and only ended up making two rolls instead of four lol! ๐Ÿ˜… But it was enough for myself! ๐Ÿ˜†
Mmmm! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

The recipe I used is inspired by the bread rolls recipe in ‘How To Make Bread’ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. (For those of you who have followed me from before, you may know I absolutely love this book! It’s quite a perfect gift for some self-isolation bread making haha! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Bread Rolls

Quantity: 4 Bread Rolls

Ingredients:

200g / 1ยฝ cups strong white/bread flour

4g / ยพ tsp salt

3g / 1 tsp dried/active dry yeast

130g / ยฝ cup warm water

Method:

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and stir until the yeast has dissolved.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix until you form a dough.
  4. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  5. After the 10 minutes, knead the bread by pulling a portion of the dough up from the side and press it into the middle. Repeat this process with another portion of the dough and repeat another eight times.
  6. Cover the dough again and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for two more times.
  8. Knead the bread one last time (In total, you should have kneaded four times.)
  9. Cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  10. After the rising, punch it down gently with your fist to release air.
  11. On a lightly floured surface, flatten and divide the dough into four equal portions.
  12. Roll between your hand until you get perfectly smooth, round balls.
  13. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover and let them rise until slightly less than double in size – about 15-20 minutes.
  14. While waiting for them to finish rising, preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 9, or as high as your oven would go.
  15. Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and the rolls make a hollow sound when tap at the bottom.
  16. Once the bread rolls are ready, set them on a wire rack to cool.

Bread on its own is definitely kind of bland though, right? ๐Ÿค” So I cooked up a delicious brunch by serving the rolls with some delicious corned beef scrambled eggs (a childhood classic of mine whilst growing up visiting cafรฉs in Hong Kong) and butter of course! ๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค

Freshly baked bread rolls with corned beef scrambled eggs and butter! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

This leaves me with only one egg ๐Ÿฅš left in the house though.๐Ÿ˜• Hopefully I can find some in shops tomorrow…๐Ÿ˜ Want to bet on it? ๐Ÿ˜‚

The Last Weekend

Time really does fly when youโ€™re having fun! Before long, my holiday is soon coming to an end and busy life will once again take over. Itโ€™s funny though that for my last weekend, I donโ€™t feel as proactive in going outside as much as I thought I would, and rather I seem to prefer spending more time chilling at home. (Though it was great last night drinking with some old uni friends in Soho and then wandered into a late-night restaurant in Chinatown whilst tipsy. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚)

With work looming around the corner, I have been trying my best to put the stress at the back of my mind by doing what I love mostโ€“ and thatโ€™s baking of course! If you had somehow read my posts earlier this month, you would see that I went on a bread-making spree. Continuing this, I decided to make ciabatta for the first time yesterday. I find that there is something very unique about bread that is very stress-relieving. Unlike cake and pastry, bread needs time to be good. Whilst the impatient side of me may sometimes find that unbearable, I also found that oddly relaxing. Sitting around and lying down whilst waiting for the bread to slowly prove and rise… itโ€™s like telling me, โ€˜Whatโ€™s the point of rushing in life? Letโ€™s just take the time to savour every moment that comes along…โ€™ And thatโ€™s what I am going to do now, itโ€™s sit and relax, and enjoy the now. ๐Ÿ™‚

This recipe is found in โ€˜How To Make Breadโ€™ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. (I also added some dried herbs in it to spice things up! ๐Ÿ˜‰)

Ciabatta

Quantity: 2 ciabatta

Ingredients:

200g / 1ยฝ cups white strong/bread flour

4g / ยพ tsp salt

1g / ยผ tsp dried/active dry yeast

150g / โ…” cup warm water

50g / 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:

1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add to the flour mixture.

3. Mix the mixtures together with a wooden spoon to form a fairly sticky dough.

4. Place about one third of the olive oil in a separate mixing bowl. Transfer the dough over.

5. Cover and let the dough rest for 1 hour. After the 1 hour, gently fold the dough twice and cover again.

6. Repeat step 5 for three more times. Add a little olive oil before resting each time so that the dough does not stick too much to the bottom of the bowl. By the end, the dough should be well-risen and bubbly.

7. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Be gentle to avoid damaging the air bubbles. Divide it into two equal portions.

8. Shape the dough into a rough, slipper shape. Roll in flour and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

9. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 9.

10. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and it makes a hollow sound when tapped at the bottom. (You do not need a cupful of water to create steam in the oven as the ciabatta dough is moist enough to create steam on its own.) When ready, set on a wire rack to cool.

As Quick As It Comes, As Quick As It Goes

To cap off the theme of bread week today, I decided to make soda bread, a variety of ‘quick bread’ that does not require yeast or the time-consuming rising process. For this Parma ham, mozzarella and cheddar soda bread, I also served it with my homemade tomato and basil sauce. (This sauce is one of a few things that my mum never criticised whenever I make it lol!๐Ÿ˜‚) Indulging, rich, and almost tastes just like a giant pizza, this is one that would be enjoyed by any cheese-lovers out there!๐Ÿ˜‹

The recipe was adapted from the plain soda bread recipe from ‘How To Make Bread’ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.

Parma Ham, Mozzarella and Cheddar Soda Bread with Tomato and Basil Sauce

Quantity: 1 Bread

Ingredients:

For the bread:

250g strong white/bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125g mozzarella, diced

50g Parma ham, torn

60g cheddar, shaved

260g whole milk/buttermilk

For the sauce:

4 tomatoes, diced

2 tbsp ketchup

2 tsp dried/fresh chopped basil

A pinch of salt

1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together.
  3. Add the mozzarella, ham and cheddar to the flour mixture, saving a small portion of the ham and cheddar for decoration on top.
  4. Pour the milk into the mixture and mix until it just comes together.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Transfer the dough over to the baking tray, shape the dough into a ball and flatten slightly.
  6. Slash a deep cross over the bread using a sharp knife. Place the remaining Parma ham and cheddar cheese over the cross.
  7. Bake for 50-60 mins, or until golden and baked through completely. To check, tap the bottom of the bread, it should sound hollow. If you notice the top of the bread is browning too quickly during baking, place a piece of foil over it.
  8. While waiting for the bread to finish baking, preparing the sauce by cooking the tomatoes in a pan. Add the ketchup and basil, and season with salt accordingly. Put the sauce through a blender to create the smooth sauce. Finish with olive oil.
  9. Once the bread is ready, set on a wire rack to cool briefly. Serve the bread with the sauce while they are still warm.

Another Day of Loafing About

As I continued to browse through ‘How To Make Bread’ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou (which had since become my bible of bread making lol), I stumbled across a recipe for some deliciously looking Armenian flatbreads and decided to give it a try today. ๐Ÿ˜‹ Now, I will be honest in telling you that I had absolutely no idea what this bread was, nor had I heard of it until now. Upon a brief Google search, it seemed to be that this bread is also called Ormiaล„skie podpล‚omyk. (Feel free to correct me lol! I would love to learn more about it haha!)

The flatbreads themselves were very thin and crispy, and felt quite like filo pastry. According to the book and what I managed to find online, it appeared that these flatbreads were usually (and I guessed traditionally) topped with only red onions and seeds, but I decided to go a bit more creative about it and give it more colours!๐Ÿ˜ (Think Armenia might not be happy with me now lol…) The crispness of the bread paired extremely well with the crunchiness of the toppings. I personally couldn’t stop eating it! ๐Ÿคค I think these are perfect as party treats or as light, healthy snacks. ๐Ÿ‘ Also, this bread does not need any yeast and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, so let’s all give it a try!

This recipe is adapted from the Armenian flatbreads recipe found in ‘How To Make Bread’ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.

Tango’s Armenian Flatbreads

Quantity: About 24 flatbreads, 4 trays

Ingredients:

For the dough:

160g / 1ยผ cups strong white/bread flour

5g / 1 tsp salt

50g / 3 tbsp olive oil

75g / โ…“ cup water

Garlic-infused olive oil, for brushing

For the toppings:

Red onion, sliced thinly

Spring onion, chopped finely

Sesame seeds

Dried basil

Method:

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil and water together, then add it to the flour mixture. Mix until it comes together.
  3. Cover the dough and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  4. After the 5 minutes, knead the dough by pulling a portion of it up from the side and press it into the middle. Repeat another 8 times and the dough should start to resist. Cover the dough again and let it stand for another 5 minutes.
  5. Repeat step 4 twice.
  6. Knead the dough for one last time. It should be smooth and elastic. Then, cover the dough and let rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Place one portion of the dough onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
  8. Using your hand or a rolling pin, flatten the dough and stretch it out from each corner until you get a very thin. rough rectangle. Repeat with the remaining portions of the dough.
  9. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  10. Once the dough has rested, brush the garlic-infused olive oil all over the flatbreads.
  11. Cut each flatbread into 6 using a sharp knife.
  12. Sprinkle the toppings evenly over the flatbreads.
  13. Bake the flatbreads for 5-10 minutes, or golden-brown and crispy. When ready, cool on a wire rack.

Who Doesnโ€™t Like A Good Olโ€™ Brioche?

For someone who is not hugely big on bread, I love brioche! โค๏ธโค๏ธ Its fluffy and soft texture makes it my favourite bread to eat, and I am sure that it is also one of many people’s favourites. Whether as a classic burger bun or as a glorious ice cream sandwich, there would certainly be something that tickles your fancy.

Brioche is an enriched dough with eggs and butter, so it does take more time than normal white bread as it takes longer to rise as a result. But trust me when I say that it is definitely worth the effort! ๐Ÿ˜‹ This recipe that I used is very straightforward and remember just a bit of patience is key! ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Psssst I actually think I might have been too patient this time and over-proofed mine… ๐Ÿ˜…)

This recipe is inspired by the brioche recipe found in ‘How to Make Bread‘ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.

Brioche Loaf

Quantity: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

10g / 1 tbsp fried/active yeast

60g / ยผ cup whole milk, slightly warmed

250g / 2 cups strong white/bread flour

30g / 2ยฝ tbsp caster sugar

4g / ยพ tsp salt

2 medium eggs

100g / 6ยฝ tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl, add the yeast to the warm milk and stir until it is fully dissolved.

2. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a separate bowl.

3. Beat the eggs together and add it to the yeast solution. Mix and then add the yeast solution to the flour mixture.

4. Using your hands, mix the mixtures together until they come together to form a wet, sticky dough.

5. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

6. After the 10 minutes, knead the dough by pulling a portion of it up from the side and pressing it into the middle. Repeat another eight times, and the dough should start to resist. (This kneading process should not take longer than around 10 seconds.) Cover the dough and let it rise for another 10 minutes.

7. Repeat step 6 one more time.

8. Cut the butter up into small species and push it into the dough.

9. Knead the dough to start incorporating the butter. Cover and let it rise for another 10 minutes.

10. Knead the dough again for the last time, ensuring all the butter is fully incorporated.

11. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.

12. While waiting, prepare the loaf tin by greasing it with butter.

13. Knock the air out of the dough and transfer it onto a floured work surface.

14. Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll them between your hands to form perfectly round, smooth balls.

15. Place the dough balls across the prepared loaf tin. Cover and let it rise to double in size, which will take around 30-45 minutes.

16. While waiting for the dough to finish proofing, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

17. Beat an egg with a pinch of salt. Once the dough has finished rising, brush the egg wash all over it. Snip the top of each bump with scissors.

18. Place a cupful of water at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake the dough for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and the loaf makes a hollow sound when tap at the bottom. Cool on a wire rack when ready.