Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pullman Loaf

I have a new kitchen mixer, a Kenwood KM636. It's way better than my wimpy Phillips HR1565. It costs a lot more but it's by no means a rolls royce in the kitchen appliance world. More like a entry level straight forward kind of appliance. It's also very heavy. When I first used it, I tilted the head to remove the bowl and I almost sent the whole machine crashing to the floor!

My first bake using the mixer was of course bread. I was dying to try out the dough hook and it was not bad at all.

This was after mixing in the machine for 4 min at the slowest speed. See how clean the side of the bowl is?

And this was after adding butter and mixing for 5 min at medium speed. I only had to coax the butter into the dough using a spatula twice.

The machine is super noisy and my dining table vibrated crazily. Because the machine is heavy, I don't like the idea of putting it away in the box and taking it out whenever I want to use it. So I left it on the dining table. Permanently. Unfortunately it's in the way.

The recipe I used is similar to this one. There's another version for a smaller scale. Next time I want to try the whole wheat version here.

So what I baked is called Pain de Mie which is a sandwich loaf.

And here's my mise en place.

My dough waiting to be transported to the baking pan.

The magic happens when you bake in a pullman loaf tin. See all that corrugated metal?

lt translates to this. I'm so fascinated by how perfect the shape is.

I did not watch the proofing too carefully and it reached the top of the lid. That's why you see some ugliness.

Before I used the pullman loaf tin, I googled for a way to calculate how much dough my tin could bake but came up empty. Does anyone know? I wonder if I should just pour water into the tin until 3/4 and weigh that amount of water. Does that sound logical?

The bread was a tiny bit dense but tastes ok.

We made luncheon meat sandwich and I want to declare it's as good as any bread from a bakery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One North Run

On Sunday, we dragged our ass out of bed at 5:30 am to go for One North Run. It's a run which raises money for charity. It's a road run mostly around the buildings at one north.

We called for a taxi and at first I was very happy because we got a Mercedes. But I got pissed off real fast because the driver was smoking while waiting for us. After we got into the taxi, he continued standing outside trying to squeeze out the remaining puffs. Since I have a super sensitive nose, I get annoyed being around 2nd hand smoke. After the driver started driving, he said he needed to pump air into his car tyre because they weren't balanced. So he drove to a nearby petrol station to do it. I think ensuring your taxi is in good condition before you take any phone booking is the decent thing to do. Still hubs was pretty zen about it and let me tell you, he can get ragey sometimes. Finally, we were on our way. It was raining quite heavily by the way but we decided to go anyway. Then the driver took us to the wrong location. In the end we had to google map for him so he could make his way there. It cost us $25! It was actually $26.xx but he gave us a discount. Amazingly, we did not get super angry about it. Maybe we were still in sleep mode. Meanwhile, the rain had become a light drizzle.

The start point was at Mediapolis which is where the local broadcasting station is located.

Although it was just a light drizzle, on and off, the organizer couldn't make up its mind whether to cancel the 10km run which hubs had signed up for. Mine was 5km.

So we waited and waited. Around 7:45am, it was finally cancelled. But my 5km run was on. Around 8:15am, the first wave was flagged off. I was in the second wave, at the back of the pack. Many 10km runners joined the 5km runners. So did hubs. Half a route is better than none, right?

We saw a few interesting buildings along the way. The photo above - I noticed 3 buildings were joined by bridges. I wonder why that's necessary. The event organizer didn't bother to put up any signs indicating remaining distance to run. It was a run until you see the finish line kind of run.

Hubs finished way faster and came back to take photos of my dash to the finish line except he missed it. (because I ran too fast)

Officially my timing based on the chip I wore on my shoe was 42 min 43 secs.

Despite the wet ground and lack of practice runs, I did very well.  By the way, for once, I wore the t-shirt provided. It was cold and I needed sleeves.

Another medal to throw in my "medal cabinet".  I have 2 more runs to go for 2016!

Friday, November 18, 2016

I tried to fly before I could walk

After my last bread, I became impatient to make another one. This time I wanted something fancier. I used this recipe, sort of, scaled down a bit. This recipe uses some butter and milk unlike the previous bread which is very plain, no fats at all. I watched a few youtube videos and these from King Arthur flour: mixing & folding, dividing and shaping and shaping.

My intention was to bake a loaf of buns and some fancy braided bread. I think my loaf of buns is recognizable but the braided bread? You probably think they are some mutant species.

The ingredients. p.s. I stuck to my old way of baking on a messy table. Don't worry, I didn't forget anything.

I noticed my mixer had hooks so this time, I decided to use the machine to mix my dough. Wow. What a mistake. The Philips HR1565 is in no way equipped to mix any dough. Sure I tried. I only used low speed. Any higher, the hooks would have been flung out. Even at a low speed, I could smell metal burning and the machine rattled like it was gonna blow apart.

 When I felt the machine needed a break, I did some of the work by hand.

After adding the butter, I used the machine again because you know, gooey. Then it was back to hand kneading because I was scared the mixer would catch fire or something.

Here I was just pretending to look for a window pane. I really had no idea what I was doing.

I'm always amazed at dough that has risen. This one took around 1.5 hours.

I made these into balls for the bun loaf. The shaping was harder than I expected. Was I doing it right? When do I stop? I placed one ball seam side up by mistake. Also I should have used a larger pan because I literally pushed all the balls in to fit.

The braids (similar tute here) was a fail. As I was shaping the strands, they got puffier and puffier.

Finally I managed to get this mummy. It looked horrible but I stopped caring.

It looked even worse after the final proof and had egg wash applied. Like the dough was in a car accident.

I baked the bun loaf first at 190 deg C for 25 min. This was what it looked like fresh out of the oven. The really ugly bun was the one I placed seam side up.

I couldn't wait to try the bun and only waited 30 min before I tore one off. It was nice and fluffy and tasted good.

The loaf doesn't look pretty and I think there might be some issue going on with the top hanging out so much.

But inside it's good.

I baked the braided bread at the same 190 deg C for 25min as well. I wasn't looking forward to it because I was expecting it to look hideous. And it was. This photo was taken around 30 min after coming out of the oven.

The back looks ugly too.

The inside didn't look or taste too bad though. The loaf bun is definitely fluffier.

This morning I cut a slice for myself and it doesn't look so bad after you sliced it up.

Clearly I need to go back to baking school for my bread course. There's nothing like someone yelling at you to make you learn. Meanwhile I should continue with my self learning. The only problem? My family is not a fan of bread. I wonder who's going to eat all the bread I just made? This morning I ran 5km and that was to make up for eating that one chocolate muffin. If I eat all the bread, I'm afraid I will have to run every day and I'm not that crazy about running.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Confirmed. A muffin is not a cupcake.

Remember a recent blog post where I made such a big deal about how a muffin is not a cupcake? Well I felt I needed to make a actual muffin just to prove my point. I dug around for a muffin recipe and finally picked Joy of Cooking's (JOC) chocolate muffin recipe. JOC has lots of videos/recipes but I've mostly watched the bread ones to pick up techniques. The chocolate muffin recipe is the first JOC recipe I'm trying out.

It's a simple recipe. Cocoa powder to get the chocolate colour, chocolate chips for the surprise. This recipe uses buttermilk which ordinarily I would avoid if I were baking for myself. But I made the muffins for my kids. Unlike cupcakes, muffins usually use oil. This recipe used butter but it is melted. That counts as oil rite? I cut the amount of sugar and chocolate chips. Everything else, I followed. As always, I used unbleached plain flour. I also used Hershey's semi sweet chocolate chips.

The muffin batter is done completely by hand. It's so much easier than cupcakes. Just mix all the liquid and dry ingredients separately. Next mix them together.

You will get a gooey batter. Most recipes and this recipe is no different will tell you not to over mix. Honestly, I have no parameter in my brain that can tell me at which point I should stop before I crossed the line of over mixing. I just fold until I stop seeing any dry ingredient. At baking school, I learnt this term "incorporate". It means to blend everything together evenly and to stop once that's accomplished. In our language, it means to mix but don't over mix.

I used a muffin pan that could fit 12 muffins. The recipe yielded 16 muffins. So I ended up having to bake two times and the second time I only have 4 muffins to bake. I thought that was a waste of electricity so the next time I make these muffins again, I will scale the recipe down by 75%. (this just means multiply every ingredient by 0.75)

I baked at 190 deg C for exactly 15 min and the muffins were done. In my first batch I have one domed muffin and the rest were flatter. I wonder why.

I couldn't wait to try the muffin and allowed myself one. It was soft and nice. Not too heavy but not light like a cupcake. Sort of in between.

The chocolate chips were a nice surprise and some melted inside - an added bonus. The chocolate chips did not sink to the bottom, a fact which is important only to the baker.

I'm really happy with how the chocolate muffins turned out. It's too bad I'm too afraid of getting fatter and only ate one. My son ate 4 last night and would have eaten all if I hadn't stopped him. I gave him 2 more this morning so no, I'm not starving him. My girl said it was nice but better with milk. Would you believe she dunked the muffin in milk? Hubs liked it too. It's quite hard to bake something everyone liked. It made me very happy.
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