Dough-splosions

This is another classic case of recipe-in-progress that gets posted, so that I don’t forget what I did and what I want to try next time. Don’t ask what possessed me to attempt making bread, I don’t know. No less, bread that I can actually buy from down the road (since I’m still based in KL).

Perhaps stubbornness because I wanted to see if I could do it myself?


Not membrane-like at all. Think I didn't knead enough

I also had a bit of an explosion because I forgot that I was making bread and went off to do something else. Note to self: don’t leave dough alone to proof for 4 hours, it will try to escape the bowl.

Boom!

I made two types of bread, one was cinnamon sugar and the other was cheese sugar. I’ve provided the recipes for both. It wasn’t quite as fluffy as I would have liked, but I think that’s because I kinda don’t know what I’m doing. Suggestions welcome, and I’ll try again soon 🙂

Cinnamon LoafCheese Sugar LoafNot quite fluffy enough - but I think that's my fault

TangZhong (湯種) Bread

Adapted from Do What I Like, though I also looked at Bush Gourmand. I made a bigger loaf and scaled the Tang Zhong for one loaf of bread.

Tang Zhong – apparently this fluffs the bread

130g water
3 1/3 teasp unsifted flour

  1. Mix everything together, and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously.
  2. Keep going until the mixture starts to thicken, and you see streaks across the surface when you drag a spoon across the top (I’ll add a picture next time).
  3. Cool to room temperature.

Bread

500g flour
200g water
10g milk or some skim milk powder – make up the liquid in water instead
2 tsp salt
2 tablesp / 30g sugar – the typical amount in Hong Kong style bread is about double this, pump it up if you’re making a sweet bread
2 tsp yeast
50g melted cooled butter – I just melted mine in the microwave and let it cool to room temperature

2 teasp vanilla essence
2 teasp cinnamon
2 teasp brown sugar
OR
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 teasp brown sugar

Oven temperature: there are options…either 220 degrees C or 180 degrees C (I tried the 220 degrees C here)

  1. Mix flour, water, milk, salt, sugar (30g for cheese loaf, 60g for cinnamon loaf), yeast, melted butter, and tangzhong together in a bowl. Also add the cinnamon and vanilla if you’re making the cinnamon loaf.
  2. Knead until it gets stretchy, the “membrane stage”. I didn’t get there, so pics next time if I do. It also works in a bread machine for 2 cycles, about 10 to 15 minutes if I’m not wrong.
  3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely to allow it to rise. Leave it there until it doubles in size. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half in a warm room.
  4. Punch the air out, and dump it into the baking tin. Let it rest there for 15 minutes or so. It should pop out above the baking tin.
  5. Now add your toppings:
    1. Sprinkle on the brown sugar for the cinnamon loaf, or
    2. Sprinkle on the cheese and brown sugar for the cheese loaf. I added too much cheese so I had to “rescue” it, hence the crown shaped top. Don’t over-do it so that it gets too heavy or the top of the loaf will slip out the sides of the tin when it bakes.
  6. Bake at:
    1. 220 degrees C for 25 minutes. Then remove the tin, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes so the outside gets crispy. Note that the cheese burnt a little on this setting, so a little tweaking may be required.
    2. 180 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, with the lid of a pullman baking tin closed. I haven’t tried this yet, but the time seems a little short to me – to be updated!
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On Computers, Shady Deals, and Pizza

I think I may have been forced into a corner. My brother, a tech whiz, has just demanded freshly baked pizza in return for fixing my computer. My computer won’t connect to the internet, which means he pretty much has me at his mercy. When one’s computer won’t connect to the internet, that’s basically like the armageddon occurring in your lap.

He says: “I’ll fix it for you, if you make me something nice.”

Of course, I suggested chocolate cake, because I wanted to have another go at the chocolate cake recipe from a few weeks back. I like chocolate cake, I could eat chocolate cake everyday. I’m quite eager to have another go at that to try and lighten it up. But it was not to be.

“I want something savoury and nice. I heard you make pizza. Make me pepperoni pizza!”

Despite feeling slightly smug, as this is the first time someone has asked for food as payment, I sag slightly. I know that pizza takes a bit of effort because you have to make the crust (well not really, it’s actually pretty fast, but it depends what time I get home from work and takes a bit of forward planning), and also he requested that the pizza to be delivered tomorrow (which is now today).

My typical method of working myself up to cooking something even mildly difficult is to plant the idea, then dream about it for about a week, then finally get so excited/hungry that I decide I MUST HAVE IT and then spend a few hours in the kitchen, salivating over the food-in-progress. I don’t drool in my food, don’t worry, but I do eat quite a lot of raw ingredients. By this point, anticipation is hanging in the air like thick black smoke, and when the food is finally done it tastes all the more awesome, likely because I’m so overexcited about it rather than due to any real cooking skill. But, as you may have noticed by now, my unwritten weeknight dinner criteria is “lazy”, i.e., that any food produced should take less than an hour from chopping board to table. Preferably less than 20 minutes. Using fresh ingredients, if at all possible. Though frozen spinach and peas are still some of my best friends.

After clarifying that I will, in fact, not be willing to make my own pepperoni, I go back to my (borrowed) computer and look for my old pizza recipe. I wonder if, alone, I can actually pull off pizza again – I previously made it only once, when Bigfoot was with me in Singapore. Despite my obvious obsession with eating food, he’s actually better in the kitchen than I am. Difference between someone who grew up cooking, and someone who stumbled blindly into it due to greediness, I suppose. I bragged loads to my brother about said pizza last time, because he was somewhere far away and didn’t get to try any. I suspect this is payback time.

No, in all seriousness. There isn’t an excuse for bad pizza crust really. It isn’t rocket science by any means. Most people are more diligent about following recipe instructions than me, and should be able to do it. Especially if using normal flour 🙂

I always used to think that pizza was like the holy grail of kitchens, the one thing that only people who can actually cook can make. Really good pizza is like a beautiful phoenix rising from the ashes of a smouldering oven. Well, I suppose I only think of it that way because I’ve burnt quite a few freezer pizzas. But it’s different with real pizza! You get so excited that there is actually going to be fresh, crispy pizza that you sit on the floor in front of the oven door while it cooks. Well, of course I don’t do that, that would just be silly. I definitely just use the timer. Definitely, certainly.

Pizza notes: GF flour in this recipe doesn’t work that well. But if you really have to use it (I had to, in this instance, because my mum’s GF), it still makes a much better GF pizza than the commercially available pizza bases, which are rock hard.

Check out my previous attempt with normal flour for crust comparison:

In the same incompetent hands, you get that nice, crisp, puffy pizza crust. No excuses.

Also, my computer isn’t fixed yet. This doesn’t seem like a deal! Hmm.

Easy Pizza that even Lea can’t mess up

Pizza base is copied exactly from Smitten Kitchen. I’m too scared to mess with bread doughs. Use your own toppings.

Pizza

Makes 2 regular sized, thin crust pizzas. I like mine quite thin and crispy though so you might get less.

1.5 cups flour
1 teasp salt
3/4 teasp active dry yeast
1/2 cup room temperature water (add 1 or 2 tablesp more if needed to bring it together)
1 tablesp olive oil, and more to grease the bowl
Cornflour + baking paper
Pizza toppings!

  1. Mix together flour, salt and yeast together.
  2. Pour in water and olive oil, stirring til it clumps into a ball. Use your hands if you have to, or add up to a couple more tablespoons of water.
  3. Flour a flat clean surface, and knead the dough on that until it looks like a nice smooth ball. This should be pretty quick, a minute or two. If it doesn’t work so well, cover the dough with the bowl, and go off and eat some chocolate for a couple of  minutes. When you get back, you and the dough will feel much better about yourselves.
  4. Oil the inside of the big bowl you used, and dump the dough back in. Spin the dough around until all sides are covered with oil (stops it sticking), and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit somewhere warm for a one or two hours. It should double in size.
  5. Put the dough back on the floured surface, and gently squish the air out. Fold into a ball (or balls, depending on how many pizzas you want), and let them sit under the upturned bowl for 20 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle cornflour on a sheet of baking paper, and flatten out the pizza.
  7. Add your toppings and sauces, don’t put too many or the inside of the pizza doesn’t cook nicely!
  8. Bake for 10 minutes until the crust is a bit blistered, at the highest oven setting. I put the grill on at the top of the oven to finish it 🙂