When You Wish Upon a Star โญ๏ธ

Despite the fact we are approaching Christmas๐ŸŽ„, I know for many of us in the UK, there will be no moods for celebration. The chaos that has happened in the past few days had most certainly angered and frustrated me (and it’s much more than just having my holiday plan tossed right out of the window). I do believe tier 4/lockdown is the right thing to do, but I sighed at the incompetence, disorganisation and seemingly lack of care shown by the British government that has allowed the situation to be escalated to this stage… It’s such a sad way to end a truly unusual year (and who knows what’s in hold for the new year). Meanwhile, however, I am just happy to stay in my tiny flat and keep myself occupied for this festive period. I am not unused to celebrating the holiday alone, but I know many will be disappointed of being unable to celebrate with their families. I do hope everyone out there get to enjoy the holiday in some way despite the circumstances. โค๏ธ

Taking my mind off everything going on, I decided to go ahead with some festive baking in the upcoming days. Today marks the winter solstice and apparently the ‘Christmas star’ โญ๏ธ is set to align for the first time in 800 years tonight from a social media account I have read. What a coincidence today that I decided to bake a ‘star bread’ (and it is REALLY a coincidence I promise!๐Ÿ˜‚ Was wanting to make it when I saw it on Instagram a while ago!๐Ÿ˜„)

I used a simple white bread dough recipe (Itโ€™s the same dough recipe I used here ๐Ÿ‘‰https://tangosbaking.home.blog/2020/07/07/rise-and-shine/), and decided to go with a savoury filling of spring onions, ginger, garlic and coriander. I also added hot olive oil into the spring onion filling (apparently it helps to make the aroma of the spring onions to come out better??) The bread is actually easier to shape than I thought – you can see the steps below. Why not give it a try? ๐Ÿ˜‰

1. Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll into discs. Spread the filling over one of the discs.
2. Cover with the other dough disc. Put a cup over the centre to lightly stamp out a circle. Use a sharp knife to divide the edges into 16 equals portions.
3. Twist each of the edges and join two edges together to form the shape as shown in the image above. Allow for a second prove until doubled in size. Brush with olive oil before baking in the oven at 190C for about 15-20 minutes.
Smells amazing! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‹

Wishing everyone a good week ahead of them!

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„

Happy Halloween!

A late โ€˜Happy Halloweenโ€™ from the UK! ๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸŽƒItโ€™s been quite an eventful night as a second lockdown has been announced tonight… However, I shall remain positive for the upcoming month and take it a day as it goes. ๐Ÿ˜Š I hope all of you will be enjoying a fun Saturday night whatever you will be doing and wherever you are! ๐Ÿ‘Œ

And I did get around to doing some small things to celebrate this Halloween by making some little โ€˜devilโ€™ steamed pork buns! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ They werenโ€™t absolutely perfect but were great fun to do (and hilarious too – I keep changing the design as I was making them before finally settling on one! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Have a good weekend!

Bao

Have any of you guys seen the Pixar short film Bao? Obviously though, I am here to do my usual talk about food not movies! ๐Ÿ˜‚ โ€˜Baoโ€™ is the Chinese word for โ€˜bunโ€™ as in bread. I grew up eating bao regularly whilst living in Hong Kong, though mostly outside when we are eating dim sum during our weekly family Saturday brunch.

Growing in an Asian household, baking wasnโ€™t something that came naturally to me as steaming was the more prominent cooking method my family used. Likewise, bao is a steamed bun rather than those being baked in the oven. Yesterday, I decided to use my mumโ€™s giant wok to do some steaming.

The bao I made is officially known as โ€˜Gua baoโ€™ – a popular Taiwanese street food, though more well known simply as โ€˜baoโ€™ in the Western world in the recent years. The recipe I used for the buns is from BBC Good Food (Link๐Ÿ‘‰ https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/steamed-bao-buns) I adapted the recipe with a fairly traditional stewed pork belly and cucumber filling. Itโ€™s a very straight recipe to use, so give it a try! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rise and Shine

Despite some heavy rains/clouds in the past week, the warm, summery weather really makes it an ideal time for some bread making. I realise it has been a while since I last posted a recipe, so I thought I would pick up some recipe works again today before going back to work full time next week.

I love making filled buns. Whether savoury or sweet, you are only limited by your own imagination. Perhaps I went for a less adventurous (or less controversial) route today when I chose to make these potato curry buns. ๐Ÿ˜… (Though I always love a bit of spices! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐ŸŒถ) You can see the recipe below, but I really would like to hear about the different kind of fillings you may enjoy or do at home! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‰

Potato Curry Buns

Quantity: 4 buns

Ingredients:

For the bread:

250g strong white/bread flour

1 tsp salt

100ml cold milk

60ml hot water

10g sugar

7g sachet of fast-action, dried yeast

15g melted unsalted butter or oil

For the filling:

250g potatoes, diced

1 shallot, diced

Curry powder

Turmeric

Fresh herbs (optional)

Method:

  1. Mix the flour with the salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix the cold milk and hot water together to form a lukewarm mixture. Add the yeast and sugar into the milk mixture, and stir until they have dissolved.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour, along with the melted butter or oil. Mix until you form a smooth dough.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes inside the bowl, or until you have achieved the ‘window-pane effect.’
  5. Leave the dough inside the mixing bowl. Cover and let it rise for 25-35 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
  6. While the dough is rising, boil and cook the potatoes in a pot. Drain the water afterwards.
  7. Fry the shallots in a hot pan, and then add in the potatoes. Season with the spices and salt. Let the filling cool down before folding it into the dough.
  8. Once the dough has finished rising, knock the air out and divide it into four equal portions.
  9. Roll the dough into balls. Flatten and stretch the dough into flat discs (see picture above.)
  10. Add about a tablespoon of the filling onto the dough. (Be careful not to overfill.) Fold and pinch the dough to seal the filling inside.
  11. Cover and let the filled buns rise for another 25-35 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.
  12. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  13. Bake the buns for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the buns make a hollow sound when tap at the bottom.
  14. Once the buns are ready, set them on a wire rack to cool.

Dรฉjร  Vu

Sometimes, itโ€™s a bit odd finding yourself somehow doing the same thing again without meaning to, right? ๐Ÿ˜‚

In the past months of lockdown, a lot of people have been baking/ cooking up a storm on social media! ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿณ And one thing that frequently keeps popping up was focaccia. (Yum!๐Ÿ˜‹) Honestly, the focaccia Iโ€™ve been seeing all look so amazing, I was so inspired to make my own! One of my fellow bakers on Instagram has decided to have a bake-along with focaccia this week, and I took the opportunity to also make my own! ๐Ÿ’ช Coincidentally, I also happened to be making focaccia this time last year! ๐Ÿ˜‚ (I used the same dough recipe too so you can check it out here ๐Ÿ‘‰ https://tangosbaking.home.blog/2019/05/31/red-orange-yellow-green-and/)

I went with a garden-theme, having really been inspired by the sunny weather these past days. โ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒฟ Such a shame I will be avoiding parks and beaches for the time being though, but I am really looking forward to things being back to normal soon again. Beside life in pandemic, it seems the world is very much the same, so letโ€™s look after it. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŒŽโค๏ธ

It’s Bagel Time! ๐Ÿฅฏ๐Ÿฅฏ

How is everyone doing this midweek? This afternoon, while having a brief Skype meeting with my colleagues, I decided to make bagels for the first time! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹ (Bagel is an occasional late night guilty pleasure of mine since I live a short walk away from a bagel bakery that runs well past midnight.) I found the recipe itself as straightforward as any other bread recipes, though just with the additional step of cooking the dough in boiling water before baking. It was a little hot baking indoor at this weather, but the sunny weather today definitely helps with the rising of my dough. โ˜€๏ธโ˜€๏ธ

My dough rises beautifully under this glorious weather โ˜€๏ธโค๏ธ
A bit rough looking but they will do for now… ๐Ÿ˜‚
First time cooking dough in boiling water ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
I donโ€™t know why I am a little anxious flipping them over ๐Ÿ˜‚
I didnโ€™t have anything like sesames or poppy seeds at home, so I went with salt, black pepper and lemon zest. Because why not? ๐Ÿ˜›
All ready! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹
Canโ€™t eat bagels without some cream cheese and Serrano ham! ๐Ÿ˜š๐Ÿ˜š๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค

The recipe I used is adapted from the bagels recipe in ‘How To Make Bread’ by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.

Bagels

Quantity: 4 Bagels

Ingredients:

250g / 2 cups strong white/bread flour

5g / 1 tsp salt

10g / 2 tsp sugar

13g / 1tbsp softened salted or unsalted butter

3g / 1 tsp dried/active dry yeast

120g / ยฝ cup warm water

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

Toppings (optional e.g. sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, pepper, lemon zests etc)

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and butter 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 about half of the beaten egg to the yeast mixture and mix, saving some for egg wash later.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix until you form a dough.
  5. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. Cover the dough again and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  8. Repeat steps 5-6 for two more times.
  9. Knead the bread one last time (In total, you should have kneaded four times.)
  10. Cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  11. After the rising, punch it down with your fist to release air.
  12. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large log and divide the dough into four equal portions.
  13. Roll between your hand until you get perfectly smooth, round balls.
  14. Take each ball of dough and push your finger through the middle. Keep working to form a neat hole.
  15. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  16. Just before the dough finish resting, fill a saucepan with water. Add 5g / 1 tsp salt to the water and bring to boil.
  17. Cook the bagels in batched in the boiling water until they rise up.
  18. Turn the bagels over and boil for a further 5 minutes.
  19. Transfer the boiled bagels to the baking sheet again and let them cool slightly before baking.
  20. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 9 and place a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven. Fill a cup with water and set aside.
  21. Brush the bagels with egg wash and add any toppings.
  22. Place the bagels in the oven. Pour the cup of water onto the preheated roasting pan.
  23. Bake the rolls for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and the rolls make a hollow sound when tap at the bottom.
  24. Once the bread rolls are ready, set them on a wire rack to cool.

Hope you will give the recipe a try and enjoy these delicious bagels too! ๐Ÿ˜‹

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.