Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bread Roll with Butter on the side

Strawberry Banana Muffins

There are cupcakes and there are muffins. They are totally different creatures. Not exchangeable or replaceable. But there have been a lot of cupcakes masquerading as muffins in bakeries and shops! You can tell the difference between them from the texture. Muffin is a type of quick bread, with a texture somewhat of a cross between a cake and bread. The way I would describe it would be light, fluffy, and full of flavour, and a wonderful aroma. A muffin would be suitable for a light breakfast or afternoon tea and accompanied by a pick-me-up skinny Flat White.

I was on a muffin making spree recently having picked up the correct technique of making muffins. (They are now light and fluffy, vs. heavy and dense…yay!). I made orange muffins, banana muffins, banana and strawberry muffins and banana and white chocolate chip muffins. Here is the recipe for the banana and strawberry muffin. I believe in the goodness of home-made foods and hope you enjoy the process of making it, and the result of your muffin. Take heart, even if it turns out dense at your first try, the taste of the muffin will still be delicious! Don’t give up; you can always drop me a note if you need help.

Strawberry Banana Muffin (Adapted from Joy of Baking)
Makes 12 regular muffins

113g unsalted butter, melted
160g light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
240 ml fresh or frozen strawberries (cut into small pieces)
315g plain flour
1.5tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1tsp (4 grams) ground cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt

Preheat oven to 175°C.
In a small saucepan melt the butter. Set aside to cool.
Whisk manually together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.
In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries, making sure they are coated with flour. This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking. Do not over mix.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.
Fill each muffin cup about two thirds full of batter.
Bake at 175°C for 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sandwich Bread (Water Roux Method)

Statement: The smell of freshly baked bread is homely and utterly delicious. (True)
This thought was extrapolated when I was standing in a bakery and enjoying the different whiffs of various breads, both sweet and savoury. This led me down the slippery path of purchasing an additional kitchen appliance....a Bread Machine. I stress the word "additional" because I already have a lovely kitchenaid which comes with a dough hook, and can knead bread. But I reasoned to myself, on a day when I want to make both cake and bread, I don't have to overwork my lovely KitchenAid. In addition, the Bread Machine has another unique feature. I can program it using the overnight function and wake up to freshly made bread. Both scenarios never happened!!!
I never baked cakes nor made bread at the same time. And the bread recipes I use mostly require cream / milk and I cannot imagine them sitting though the night at room temperature.

Nevertheless, I have been good, and making good use of this new appliance. I have churned out some pretty decent loaves. Through trial and error, I've learnt that a bread machine, while able to bake bread, cannot come up with bread of the same quality as the ones which are baked in an oven. Now I use my bread machine for kneading and raising the dough but bake it later in my trusted oven.

Here is a successful bread recipe for Sandwich Bread, using the widely popular Water Roux method. Water Roux is made by using a proportion of 1:5, 1 part Bread Flour, and 5 parts water. Constantly stirred over a low flame till it reaches a paste like consistency. This method allows the bread flour to absorb more water, and when added to the recipe, produces a better hydrated loaf of bread. The temperature which the mixture reaches this paste-like texture is 65°C.

Recipe adapted from Florence's Blog.

Water Roux
50g Bread Flour
250g Water

Mix the Bread Flour and Water together in a saucepan, and simmer over medium heat. Once it changes from a mixture to a paste-like texture, and streaks can be seem at the top. Remove from heat and cool.
Transfer into a bowl.
Place a piece of glad wrap touching the surface of the Water Roux so that a "skin" will not form.

Sandwich Loaf Recipe (Using a Bread Machine)

250g Bread Flour
1 Tbsp Milk Powder
80g Water Roux
105ml Warm Water
4g Salt
25g Sugar
5g Yeast
25g butter
1 Egg

1. Place all ingredients (except Butter) into the bread machine and start the dough cycle. (Sequence should be wet ingredients, followed by dry, and topped off with Yeast. The yeast cannot be in direct contact with salt. If it does, it might kill the yeast.)
2. After 10-15mins, or when the ingredients have come together to form a ball, stop the dough cycle, add the butter and start the dough cycle again.
3. Once the dough cycle is completed which is 75 minutes, remove dough and press out the air from it. Rest the dough for 15 minutes.
4. Shape into a flat rectangular shape and roll it like a swiss-roll.
5. Place dough pieces into loaf pan / pullman tin and let it prove till about 90% full. Place in a enclosed space, i.e. a microwave oven which is not switched on, this is to prevent the bread from drying.
6. Cover the loaf pan with its lid and bake at 175°C for about 25 - 30 minutes. (Internal Temperature should be about 88-98°C.)
Enjoy the freshly baked home-made bread!