Saturday, July 29, 2017

My first pizza

Since I started learning to bake last September, I had been thinking I want to make pizza for the kids. They order Pizza Hut takeaway now and then so I know they like pizza. Anyway, the thought lingered and lingered and finally on Friday, I declared to hubs I would make pizza for lunch for everyone on Saturday which is today. After the declaration, I had to um.. follow up with actually making the pizza.

I already knew which pizza dough I wanted to try - the Neapolitan pizza dough. It looked easy enough.

I had mangled my dough hook so I made everything by hand. On Friday before I went for my croissant baking class, I mixed the dough and put it in the fridge. Around 1am before I went to sleep, I took a look at the dough and it had risen so much it went above the brim of the container. I was quite worried that in the morning there would be dough all over the fridge. Still I was too lazy (it was 1am forgodssake) to do anything about it. I had clingwrapped the dough quite well so fingers crossed.

 I was lucky. The clingwrap did its job well. No mess.

I have a fairly small workstation to work the dough. It's a little tall table my brother had given me years ago. It is the perfect height to work with without getting backaches or neck pain. My oven has a small depth so I made 6 dough roughly 170 to 180g each.

I opted for a very safe sauce - tomato. I used 2 cans of whole/diced tomatoes, flavoured with parsley, pepper and small amount of salt. Then I blended the mixture. It wasn't thick enough. I wonder what I need to do to thicken the sauce other than cook it down.

I don't have a pizza peel so I fashioned one. I used a cheap metal thingy I have though I don't know what its purpose is. I placed parchment paper on it.

This was the first pizza I made. I had great difficulty shaping it. I topped it with yellow capsicum (with skin peeled), cheese, chicken ham and bacon.

My girl got to eat the first pizza. She liked it enough to ask me to make more in future. She asked for some tomato sauce and she ate her pizza after dipping into more sauce. Like eating roti prata!

I baked each pizza on parchment paper/baking stone at 250 deg C for 6 min. After removing the parchment paper, I baked for an additional 2 min.

Overall I'm quite happy with the outcome. The crust is not bad despite the poor shaping. I made one pizza without cheese for myself. Actually I don't like to eat pizza! But I liked the one I made. In terms of taste, I believe the sauce can be better. Needs some kick.

My son did not complain about the pizza. He said it was okay. I was quite afraid he would say: please don't make this again. He did request that I don't put capsicum on his pizza in future. And absolutely no pineapples. Good to know.

Hubs said I should make the pizza again but we should get a different kind of cheese. This round we got something that said "pizza topping" but it wasn't that good.

I'm happy my first attempt at pizza turned out not too bad. We had leftovers and the kids and hubs ate them for dinner!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Puff Pastry Ticked

I think I told you in my previous post that I was attending a Puff Pastry baking class. The only reason I took the Puff Pastry class is that it is a prerequisite for another class I want to take. It was very lonely attending the class because I didn't know anyone. When I attended BITC's cake, cookies and muffins class, I went with a friend and believe me, going with a friend is so much better than going not knowing anyone. What made it worse was the school was totally new to me and the school had this attitude that I will figure it out one way or another. Until today, I have no idea where the toilet is or where to put the rulers. Where do you keep the damn rulers?

It's possible that age is an issue here. I think I'm the oldest student in my class. I found it hard to absorb the lecture and the instructions often sound terribly incoherent to me. I had to keep asking and asking to make sure I was doing things right. I took a photo of the pink dough but what each dough represents escapes me. I'm guessing it's to show how the different number of folds will result in different results. In my mind I was thinking, who the hell cares! Ha ha. I really hate the theory part of baking.

Night 1 of class was spent sorting out my registration *&(#}! up, theory from power point(just picture the teacher reading line by line) and making the pastry dough. We used the fold in method. (For home bakers, Richard Bertinet explains it quite well in his video.) The first part was done by hand and the rest of the turns were done using a dough sheeter. We spent a lot of time waiting for our turn to use the machine. I felt so miserable the whole night. The class size was big - 15 of us. The kitchen was small. I didn't know where the hell anything was. And one of the chefs would yell at us from time to time. What is it with chefs who yell? At the end of the night, we went home without any baked goods because all we did was make the pastry dough. So disappointing. I wanted to cry.

Night 2 was the night we baked two items. It was a lot more enjoyable. But I made many mistakes. Sometimes it's my fault. Mostly it's the fault of the teachers. They give instructions to groups of people. Sometimes you are somewhere else.

This was my fruit band. I did not hear any instruction to dock the sides which was why the dough did not hold together. I was not the only one because there were a few that looked like mine. But it was edible.

The apple strudel turned out not too bad. My family and I ate everything. However, I am not a fan of apple strudel. Maybe it's the cinnamon... I paid attention to making the apple strudel because we had to make it again for the assessment.

The newbies were informed that we had to do kitchen duty. I really hate kitchen duty. It's disorganised and never ending. I started to feel less alone as I could talk to one or two persons.

For home bakers, this video by Gerald Burg explains how apple strudel and apple turnovers are shaped. The only thing we did differently is we docked the bottom piece of the apple strudel pastry.

Night 3 was another busy night. I think I blacked out for a few seconds towards the end. We baked Victoria's, palmiers and apple turnovers. These were not hard at all. As we won't be tested on them I took it easy!

Victoria's and palmiers
apple turnovers

Palmiers are really good to eat. I wonder how much weight I'm going to put on?

Night 4 we made pastry dough using the chop in Scotch method. It really means using the mixer to do the mixing of fats and dough! This is of course followed by sheeting using the dough sheeter. Another night of queuing.

This time though, our filling was tuna or cheese with spinach. The tuna was nice but cheese with spinach? Gross. Fortunately I only made 2 with cheese/spinach. The tuna puff was in the practical assessment but it's easy peasy.

Night 5 We learnt to use scrap dough to make eccles cakes and cream horn.
I didn't hear the instructions to put sugar on one side of the dough only so the bottom got a bit charred.

In the end, not too bad. Some of the students had theirs in bits and pieces.

These eccles cakes were delicious even though the filling was tinned apple which I swear I can no longer eat. I think if I were to make these again, I would put some other filling like ham, bacon, luncheon meat...

We were supposed to have revision on theory but it didn't happen. Thank god! I don't think I can go through theory again.  For home bakers, this video by Gerard Burg explains how Victoria's, eccles cakes and palmiers are shaped. Very close to how we did it in class.

Night 6 As our class was big, we were put in 2 groups for our assessment. Mine was on Friday night. I assumed the practical assessment would be conducted in a similar way to BITC but of course I was wrong to make any assumption! Despite the initial hiccups, I managed to make the required apple strudel and 8 tuna puffs. I did make one major mistake in my apple strudel. Can you tell? But I managed to creatively work around the mistake. As I was making the tuna puffs, I realised our teacher had taught us to make the tuna puff differently. Her method was to use round cutters whereas the assessment required us to cut squares. After the practical assessment, we sat for our theory test. After the tester had marked our papers, we were told our results. Yes, I passed. I was happy to be done with puff pastry.

My family finished the tuna puffs. It is rather tasty when warmed up using the oven. To be honest, I'm not sure if I will make puff pastry at home. Firstly I don't have a dough sheeter. Yes, who does? Secondly, Singapore is hot and humid. The butter will turn oily and it will be a disaster. The alternative is to buy pastry dough from the supermarket and put my own filling. Anyway, I don't have to think about it anytime soon because I don't think I can eat another puff pastry.

Having said that, next week I start another pastry class this one uses yeast. It is also a night class and will span a few weeks. I'm sick of it already. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Embroidered Shoulder Bag

The weather in Singapore changed this week. Know how I know? My body hurts. I get aches and pains when the weather changes. Some people have gaydar. Me? I have weardar. Thanks!

Bad news for the one or was it two persons waiting for my next bag pattern. Last week I suddenly remembered I had to attend a baking course one day before the start date. I quickly called up the school and was told to "show up". I had signed up for the course last year which in my world is a decade ago. These days I barely remember yesterday. This baking school is new to me but it's been around for a while.

Anyway, the baking course was a disaster in the beginning. It turned out my name wasn't registered at all. Let's just say some one quit and didn't do a proper handover. After the initial hiccup, I was accepted into the class. The inadequacy of the admin dept is a clue on how the baking class is conducted. If I can find a perfect word, it is chaotic. Perhaps I'm not the best person to give a review because I am biased having attended baking school at BITC, now defunct. You know, suddenly BITC is starting to look very good.

The class I'm in is very large - 15 of us. Odd number because of the &^%$# up. The kitchen is hilariously small. In the beginning my butt kept hitting this other student until I decided to move to the other side of the table.

There is no orientation of any kind. I thought that at the very least, the newbies should be given a tour of the kitchen, what goes where, how to operate the oven and the mixer. Nope. Zero. The teacher assumes you know or will figure it out somehow. You have to push someone to help you.

I don't think I'm dense. But when the teacher gives instructions, I barely understand what to do. After much consultation with the other students and watching out for their mistakes, I am able to do it right.

Despite everything, I did learn a bit and I may possibly be able to add "Puff Pastry" to my repertoire. The course is not over yet. It spans a few weeks because I'm doing it at night. I'm quite regretting doing it at night because it is so so exhausting. After my class I have to spend the next day lying down to recuperate. Sometimes it takes a day and a half. Which is why it will take a while for me to finish my next bag pattern.

Today is supposed to be my recuperation day but early this morning I went with hubs to watch the Spiderman movie, 3D, IMAX. My knees grew weak during some of the scenes. I really thought I might throw up. Oh if you do go see the movie, be sure to stay back for 2 clips during the credits. Don't leave after the first clip. There's one more. Make sure you stay and watch that one.

Oh, I suddenly remembered why I wrote this post. I didn't mean to rant. After I had written the Forever 19 Shoulder Bag pattern, I made this sample using some leftover Ikea fabric from a previous project.
There's something about Ikea fabric that makes me want to embroider on it. Or scribble a marker pen...
Even the top stitch around the bag opening is done by hand.
I showed this bag to hubs and he said it's nice but it's too quilty. In hubs' world, quilty and handmade are not desirable. What do you think of the bag?

The bag pattern is available for sale at my Etsy shop. If you prefer to buy it off my blog, you can click on the "Buy Now" button below (ecommerce by Payhip). Read my faq if it's your first time buying from my blog. p.s. the pattern does not contain any embroidery tips. (i think you know that!)

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