Bakery/Pastry

STICKY TOFFEE PANCAKES

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A BUBBLY SYMPHONY OF BUTTER AND CREAM, SUGAR AND HONEY, A PINCH OF SEA SALT AND BRANDY HERE AND THERE, AND THAT LAST TOUCH OF VANILLA

I’m quickly leaving you the last post before we take a short trip to Hong Kong and Seoul next week.  It’s been… well… 2 years since the last time me and Jason traveled together.  What used to be frequent occurrences and a huge part of of our lives, now feels a bit unfamiliar and exciting again, well, tinted with a bit of sadness at the same time.

So with all the packing, cleaning out the fridge, packing again and feeling a bit empty now that we have minus-two dogs to say good-bye to, I’m gonna leave you alone with these pancakes that I’ve lately, grown quite fond with.  As I previously declared, I’m not a pancake person.  Still not actually.  But what I like about these pancakes, aside from the fact that they taste, preferably, like the lighter version of the often-times unbearably sweet sticky toffee puddings, is their relatively loftier heights that bring more tasty contrast to the fluffy interiors and the crispy edges.  The pancakes use, more or less, the chiffon cake-technique by folding beaten egg white into the the batter to pump up its airiness.  Then I cook them with a lid on, which speeds up the cooking time, and from what I felt, retains the height of the pancakes better.  You could add chopped dates to the party as the tradition, but I kept them lazy, only mimicking the flavours by adding molasses, grated ginger, ground cinnamon and allspice.  After all, the highlight of sweetness should only come from the thick and glistening syrup, a bubbly symphony of butter and cream, dark brown sugar and honey, a pinch of sea salt and brandy here and there, and that last touch of vanilla.

So here we go, to mark to the end, and the beginning, and then the repeating of it all that is change and life.  I’ll see you again, on the other side.

Gold brass spoon made by the amazing Ann Ladson.  Yellow mixing bowl from Dishes Only.

  
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PROSCIUTTO AND DATES SU-STYLE MOONCAKE

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DECEIVINGLY EASY…

IT WILL SHATTER YOUR DOUBT-SYSTEM AS THE LAYERS CRACK LIKE THE WINGS OF BUTTERFLIES AND FALL ON YOUR JAW-DROPPED COUNTERTOP

– XOXO

OK, I know that mooncakes are generally sweet and not savoury (like the ones on https://www.emicakes.com.sg/mooncake-delivery-singapore for example, which look amazing) but I have decided to mix things up a bit here and BOY am I glad that I did. I don’t have much time today to elaborate much, in fact, not even enough time to say what I’m about to say but I gotta say it anyways because it’s just too damn important which is – PLEASE, don’t let the intimidating display of these lacy, delicate, flakey pastry filled mooncakes with salty prosciutto and sweet dates and honey… fool you. They are deceivingly easy, forgiving even, and I got them down with smashing success right at the first try (I’ve had more tears shed on making pancakes, let me just tell you that). This waffer-thin layered dough actually DOES NOT require any chilling (even though I still gave them a 30-min nap in the fridge just because I was insecure), believe it or not, and it will shatter your doubt-system as the layers crack like the wings of butterflies and falls on your jaw-dropped countertop. And then the filling… oh my god I don’t even have time to talk about this filling but I gotta say it anyways because it’s just too damn good! Part-crispy and part-fresh prosciuttos, mashed with finely minced dates and honey with a dash of black rum. It is the most fruitful reward you can expect out of the eternal conflict between salty and sweet. And then, these two things together… these two buttery, lacy, porky, salty, sweet things together! I don’t have time for this! Do you get me?! Just go do it and believe.

– XOXO.


I copied/pasted the instructions below to correspond with the photos so it’s easier to understand, but serious, you’ll probably have something great at the first try, then nail it at the second, tops. There’s also another su-style mooncake variation by Betty on Food52. Check it out.

 

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Combine cake flour, water, unsalted butter and sugar in a large bowl, and mix it with your hands until it comes into a dough.

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Transfer to a working surface and knead for a couple min until the dough is smooth and soft. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, then set aside to rest.

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Meanwhile, combine cake flour and unsalted butter in the same bowl for the oil-dough.

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HONEY WHIPPED RICOTTA-STUFFED SCONES

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THE THICKENED AND EMBRACIVE RICOTTA-MASCARPONE MOISTENS THE CRUMBS LIKE A SCONE CARRYING ITS OWN CLOTTED-CREAM

  
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Sometimes, we wait for the perfect recipe-publishing moment to present itself.  Iced dairies to fend off the heat in August… festivities to baste in the spirit of October… chocolates to sweeten the tones of February, and austerities to bring in those bikini-lines in May.  Recipes, like romance, like good stories.  I get it.  But sometimes, most times actually, the birth of a certain recipe comes as forcefully and inevitably as the bad news it carries.  Sometimes, we just have to make something, quite simply, because it’s Monday.

I hate Mondays.  And please note, that coming from someone who is technically unemployed, that is saying a lot.  Because Monday feels like standing at the bottom of an endless stairwell, and a monkey is holding a $20-bill at the top.  Monday feels like watching the prelude of a documentary on counting alphabets in a foreign language without subtitles.  Monday feels like powering through the infuriating hunger on the last day of a juice-cleanse, but only that it is still the first day.  Monday feels like a brand new sandbag.  Monday makes my coffee tired.  So even though I’ve came up with this buttery scone stuffed with honey-whipped ricotta a while back, and have been waiting for the perfect timing to tell you all about it, it dawned on me that today, which is a Monday, is actually when your joy-deprived souls will need it the most.

This time-tested, my go-to scone-dough (or biscuit dough, whatever, who knows the difference really) is crispy and flakey on the surface, but its moist and crumbly interior houses a good dollop of creamy, slightly salty, zesty whole milk ricotta whipped with mascarpone and floral honey.  Eaten hot out of the oven, the oozy filling bursts enthusiastically to lift your most stagnant Monday-blues.  Eaten cooled with rewarded patience, and the thickened and embracive ricotta-mascarpone will moisten the crumbs like a scone carrying its own clotted cream.  I don’t know about you, but my Monday is nearing its end, and I haven’t yet raised the first thought to smash my computer on the pale wall.  And I say no human should go another Monday without it.

  
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DOGGY MEATLOAF BIRTHDAY “CAKE” FOR BIG 15TH

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HIS FICTIONAL TWIN, THE GRINCH, WHO IS THE SOLE CLINICAL CASE TO HAVE BENEFITED FROM THIS MEDICAL ILLNESS

This past week, August 26th to be exact, my dog-son Dumpling turned 15 years old, almost 100 years old in human-years.

For small breeds such as the Maltese that he is, this may not be the most ground-shaking news, probably not even rare, but for my Dumpling, it is nothing less than a medical miracle. About a year and a half ago, shortly after the departure of our Frenchie Bado (here’s a short bio on the family, so far), Dumpling was rushed to the hospital after fainting in my arms with a screeching cry, where we were told that he was developing a severe case of congestive heart failure. It was ironic… really, for a borderline sociopathic dog loathed by almost everyone outside of his immediate families, to end up with a condition where his tiny angry heart, unstoppable and irreversibly, grew larger and larger by the day. But unlike his fictional twin, the Grinch, who is the sole clinical case to have benefited from this medical illness, for my Dumpling, what this actually meant was that… Christmas was going to be difficult.

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CRISPY YEASTED AND EXTRA “MALTY” WAFFLES

WITHOUT GOING ALL “DIASTATIC” ON MYSELF, I CAN SIMPLY TURN TO AN ASIAN HOME-ESSENTIAL THAT COULD ADD THE EXTRA “MALTINESS” TO ALL BAKED GOODS

The brass spoon is made by the amazing Ann Ladson.

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In between the various degrees of educations throughout my life, formal or social, if you asked me, I’d probably say that I expected the least practical return from my continuous study in all of Disney’s animated movies around the 90’s. More specifically, the cartoons, the classics, starting somewhere with The Little Mermaid and ending abruptly with Tarzan. All the magic produced at the height of Disney’s prime according to my verdict, before digital animations barged in and all of a sudden, for no reason at all, everybody and so did the magic, literally or figuratively, all just stopped singing. Call me nostalgic, or even outdated, I rekindle with those movies from time to time, almost needfully, like talking to a childhood friend who never grew old. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t make shit like that anymore. But anyhow, my point is, as much as I treasure the purity and endurance of this relationship that has regretfully outlasted many, little did I think, that it was gonna bring me the bacon. In fact, more than bacon, a couple weeks ago, it brought me a hunk of 30-days dry-aged wagyu bone-in rib eye.

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MEET “THE WALTER WHITE” – THE KINGPIN OF MEAT BUNS

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PACKED WITH A WALLOP OF SCALLION GROUND PORK, A PIECE OF BRAISED PORK BELLY, ONE BRAISED SHITAKE MUSHROOM, ONE SALTED DUCK YOLK AND CHILI CONFIT, EACH BUN MEASURES 5 1/2″ (14 CM) IN DIAMETER AND ALMOST  1 LB (450 GRAMS) IN WEIGHT

IF THIS ISN’T CRIMINAL, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS


There’s something about me unknown to most.  I have a sickly obsession for Chinese steamed pork buns.  Sickly, I said.  I think it was a childhood trauma that I developed in my earliest memory, over one afternoon by a hungry swimming pool when it was given to me as a snack, but I never suspect it would follow me ghostly into adulthood like an unsociable kink.  Ask my husband who never understood any of it, that whether it is placed on the table of a proper restaurant or abandoned in the metal cage of an electric warmer inside any 7-11’s in Asia, or even just a carcass of it laying on the asphalt being picked by a mob of pigeons… you put a steamed pork bun within my perimeter of sight?  And you’re likely to achieve a deer-in-headlights reaction from me.  Yeah.  Throw a steamed pork bun in front of me while I’m crossing the street?  And you can watch the progression of a human-roadkill unfold with captions, NatGeo-style.  I wish I could say that this is where the embarrassment stops, but no.  Thing is, size matters, too.  Even though we all know that size does not imply superiority or function, but as far as steamed bun goes, it is fair to say that I like’em as unapologetically as how men like their boobs.  Maximumly enormous for no good reasons.  I know, it’s completely shallow, illogical, utterly fantasy-based.  In fact, overly large steamed buns usually mean overly thick doughs and little fillings, and for the past 35-some years in the ever-pursuit for “the one”, big or small, I hardly found a steamed pork bun that I actually like.  I just believe that it’s out there.  It is an obsession supported only by faith, that as long as I bite into every single steamed pork bun that comes across my path, that if I just do that, then someday somewhere, I would find the one.  And that day came.

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CHURROFFLE AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

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YES, CHURRO WAFFLES

Gotta run today!  Leaving you quickly with yet another inbred waffle abomination.  Churros + waffles = churroffles.  Yes, apparently, churro waffles, too.  A clear proof that I spotted on Instagram, from Monochrome Bistro in Singapore, where they serve it with what looks like a huge scoop of cookies’n cream ice cream.  But you know, call me romantic.  I’d like to think that even after being barbarically deformed in between the burning metal teeth of a waffle griddle, that even when its own mother couldn’t recognise him anymore, that even when his previously tall and slender physique now seem like the mirage from another life… that deep down, churro still wants chocolate.  And chocolate still wants churro too, stubby and crooked as he is.  It’s true love.

So here it is.  Churroffles tumbled in light brown sugar spiced with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, then go on to hug his soulmate, deep dark chocolate ice cream in a summer reunion.  Love is in the air.  Can you feel it?

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CHURROFFLE AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

Yield: 4 small sandwiches

The churro dough is adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

    CHURRO DOUGH:
  • 1 cup (235 grams) water
  • 5 tbsp (70 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp (45 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • SPICED SUGAR:
  • 1/4 cup (44 grams) light brown sugar, or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • TO FINISH:
  • 1~2 tbsp melted unsalted butter for brushing
  • Good chocolate ice cream

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Split 1/3 of vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and pods into a pot, along with water, unsalted butter, dark brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon, and bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean pods and discard, then add the all-purpose flour all at once. Keep on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture has come into a thick paste/dough. Keep cooking and stirring for another min, until a thin film of dough starts to form on the sides and bottom of the pot. Now turn off the heat and continue to stir for another 30 sec to release excess moisture/steam. Set aside for at least 5 min until cool (so it doesn't cook the egg, or activate the baking soda prematurely before cooking).
  2. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients under "SPICED SUGAR" until even, and set aside. Preheat your Belgian-style waffle griddle on medium-high heat according to instructions. Now, beat the egg into the cooled dough with a whisk until very smooth (or with a handheld mixer with whisk attachment), then sprinkle the baking soda on top, and whisk again until even. Add about 2 tbsp of dough in the centre of the griddle, close the lid, and cook for 6~7 min until browned and crispy. The churroffles take slightly longer than other types of waffles, so if you don't mind them not being "round-ish", you can cook 2 at once on each side of the griddle (this dough won't expand much during cooking). Repeat until you're done with all the doughs, which should give you about 8 small churroffles.
  3. Let the churroffles cool on a cooling rack for 5~8 min, then brush very thinly with a bit of melted butter, then drench in the spiced sugar (spoon the sugar over the top so it gets into the folds). IT'S IMPORTANT to let them cool for at least 10~15 min before eating. The centre of the churroffles will appear gummy while hot, then once they cool down, will become light and airy. Sandwich a big scoop of good chocolate ice cream in between and dig in.

Notes

Because of the cooking method, the extra baking soda will help lift the dough and give the churroffles more air-bubbles in the centre.

https://ladyandpups.com/2015/07/08/churroffle-and-chocolate-ice-cream-sandwich/
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BRIOCHE WAFFLE STUFFED W/ GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

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THEY MELTED… THEY BUBBLED… THEN THEY GOT ABSORBED IN THE SWELLING CUSHIONS OF THE CRISPY EDGED, SOFT HEARTED, BUTTERY AND CHEWY BRIOCHE WAFFLES

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You know how like in the movies, when they really want to make you feel sorry for a certain character, let it be the sweetest human being or the most hated villain, doesn’t matter, that all they have to do is to show you a scene where he/she comes home to a dimly lit kitchen, where his/her inner loneliness get stripped naked in front of an even emptier fridge?  Yes, empty fridge.  What is it about an empty fridge that so tenderly strokes our sympathy?  I mean that trick works every time.  I mean, even the most stone-hearted audiences would feel something, must feel something, if they see… I don’t know, Darth Vader, after slaughtering a whole village of Ewoks, comes back to his space-chamber behind closed doors, and starts eating a half-empty jar of mustard with stale crackers (with that labored breathing oh god I’m gonna cry…).  I mean, that shit is just sad.

But lately, I’m starting to feel the opposite about my fridge.

I think, no, I believe, that if I were to take a photo from the inside of my fridge at any given moment in the past several months, it would probably strike a close resemblance of a jacuzzi pool, inside the Playboy’s Mansion, on a New Year’s Eve in the 80’s, right before countdown.  Or at the very least, the kind of chaotic and repulsive glut that I would imagine it to be…  There had been clearly some management issues, I admit.  It had gotten to a point where I actually cracked an egg with just my index finger, in the failed effort to rest it in between a head of cabbage and a jar of peanut butter, which sat on top a pot of stew next to 3 bags of kimchi.  I mean, it’s not the same kind of sadness, but this shit is just as bad.

So yesterday, I had to do something.  I committed what I would call, an inventory genocide, where I killed half of the population inside my fridge, ruthlessly, purely based on the justification of… well, illogical madness.  Anything that I couldn’t remember who or what or when or how it got here, or simply because it looked at me the wrong way, must go.  Just 5 minutes in, I could already see a ray of the fridge-light breaking through a cloud of blackened asparagus.  But just when I was red-eyed amidst my efficient bloodbath, I reached deep down to a corner of the fridge, and something stopped me dead on my track.

A box of forgotten but pristinely delicious, ground peanut brittle from the making of this.  I couldn’t… I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It looked so innocent, so sinless, in fact, completely filled with scrumptious roasted peanut flavours and practically, did I mention, ground salted caramels!  What kind soulless human being would I be if I put ground salted caramel to sleep!?  I must figure out a way to do them justice… and in a way, looking back now, I think that I have always known what it would be, the most buttery brioche waffle I have been wanting to sink my fingers in for quite some time now.  They call it, the liège waffles, the Belgian waffles, the yeasted dough practically drowned in butter then strangled with pearl sugar, browned and melted in between the searing teeth of a hot waffle-griddle, and it sounded just like the beautiful, alternative death for my well deserved victim.  I mean, what is a pile of ground roasted peanuts and crushed salted caramel, but the perfect brioche stuffing?

They melted… they bubbled… then they got absorbed into the swelling cushions of the crispy edged, soft hearted, buttery and chewy brioche waffles, while the rest of the undeserving fridge-scraps watched, howling in jealousy.  Not a bad way to go… not a bad way to go at all.

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BRIOCHE WAFFLE STUFFED W/ GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

Yield: 8 small waffles

Brioche/liege waffle dough is halved and slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

    BRIOCHE/LIEGE WAFFLE DOUGH:
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) whole mik
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp (12 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • FOR STUFFING:
  • Ground peanut brittle as instructed here, or you can ground any type of store-bought brittles the same way
  • Honey to drizzle

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Combine whole milk and water in a glass, then microwave on high for approx 50 seconds. It should feel very warm but doesn't burn, around 110F/43C (this will help the dough start faster). Transfer into a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hooks, or large bowl with hand-held mixer with dough-hooks, along with all-purpose flour, egg, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast, vanilla extract and salt. Knead on low until all ingredients are evenly incorporated, then on medium speed for 3 min until smooth and elastic. The dough should be slightly sticky at this point. Start kneading in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Only add the next when the previous addition has been fully incorporated, about 2 min for each tbsp. Once all the butter's been added, knead on high speed for 3~4 min, until very shiny, smooth and elastic.
  2. Cover with plastic-wrap and let proof for 1:30 ~ 2 hours, until fully doubled, then punch out the air and transfer to a working surface (the dough is so buttered up, you won't need to flour), and divide into 8 equal portions. Flatten 1 portion out into a flat disk about 1/4" thick (7 mm), then set on top of a small bowl (the natural dent will make the stuffing easier). Place 2 tbsp of ground peanut brittle in the center, then bring the edges of the dough together over the top and pinch tightly to seal. Try to make sure there's no holes or tears. Set aside and repeat with the rest (if there seems to be butter oozing out of the dough, it's totally fine).
  3. You can now either let the stuffed brioche proof again at room-temperature for 40 min, or space them over a sheet-pan covered with plastic-wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. I did this at room-temperature, but the overnight-method will result in better flavours. The brioche will expand and almost doubled again.
  4. TO COOK: Preheat your Belgian-style waffle-griddle on medium-high heat. There's no need to oil the griddle. Place 1 brioche in the center and cook according to the manufacture's instruction, for about 5~6 min until golden browned on both sides. If any peanut brittle oozed out of the waffle during cooking, just wipe them away before cooking the next. Place the cooked brioche on a cooling rack and repeat with the rest. Serve immediately with drizzled honey.
https://ladyandpups.com/2015/06/26/brioche-waffle-stuffed-w-ground-peanut-brittle/

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