Chickpea Blondies (GF)

food, healthy

It is so crazy that food and health geeks have discovered that the use of legumes in desserts is a tasty and healthy replacement for flour and oils. While all-purpose flour has little nutrition value, beans pack protein, Vitamin B-6, and potassium, perfect for all types of people, especially. If you shop smart, chickpeas are actually ridiculously cheap. At my local grocery store, the chickpeas are $1 for a 15 oz. can or $1 for a 16 oz. bag of dried chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are much cheaper for the amount you are getting so I do opt for the dried type. The recipe I made is not vegan, but I have included a substitution to where it can be made vegan.

The cons about dried chickpeas are that you must soak them and boil them, but with planning ahead, dried chickpeas have worked fine for me.

So how do I soak chickpeas? I have a water boiler that boils water in a mi. ute so I first wash the dried chickpeas under running water, then pour boiling water over the chickpeas and allow it to soak for at least 4 hours. The chickpeas are then good to go, so very little preparation is required. The longer you soak, the better, but do not soak past 24 hours otherwise the chickpeas will sprout.

chickpea-bars2.jpg


Chickpea Blondies

yield: 14-16 bars squares (baked in a 9 x 12 pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 c. almond butter
  • 1 large egg OR 1 flax egg for vegan option (flax egg= 1 tbsp. ground flax/chia + 3 tbsp. water)
  • 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. liquid sweetener
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Grease pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using paper towels or a clean dishcloth, dry the chickpeas and place into a food processor along with all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  3. Pulse the mixture until it is creamy and fully incorporated.
  4. Pour in the chocolate chips and pulse for 5 seconds until combined.
  5. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes before cutting in and enjoying the goodness!

Bars are best when fresh out of the oven and served with a glass of cold milk. Store in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Please feel free to make the vegan option. I personally like the non-vegan version better because it was a bit fluffier, but the vegan one is delicious as well. It is more dense and more fudgy.

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Vegan Banana Bread Bars (GF + Oil-Free)

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As I continue with my journey to lower my gluten intake to ease GI discomfort, I find that my favorite carb alternative is oats. Many health gurus or bloggers utilize almond and coconut flour, but as a college student, I prefer to ball on a budget and almond and coconut flour do not come cheap! Oats on the other hand are extremely cheap whether you buy in bulk or pre-packaged, I can purchase rolled oats for about 80 cents to 1 dollar per pound.

I’ve baked several desserts and snacks using oat flour, but still struggle to process the oats into a fine flour, which is fine with me because I do enjoy the texture of the bigger oat granules in the desserts. However, I would like to make really fine oat flour so that I can experiment making yeast breads or other savory recipes. If anyone has tips on processing fine oat flour please let me know! It seems that no matter how long I process the oats, they do not turn into a fine flour.

Nonetheless, I am here today to introduce one of my new favorite recipes, Banana Bread Bars!! So healthy and delicious, and I could go on forever about how great these gems are. The best part is that these were made entirely in a food processor, but if you don’t have a food processor, feel free to do it by hand or use a blender. I did make them into bite size bars but feel free to bake it in a loaf pan… I just wanted to reduce the bake time from 55 minutes to 30.

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Vegan Banana Bread Bars

yield: 12 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium bananas
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar (any sugar will work: granulated white sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc.)
  • 2 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter and could not taste the peanut flavor at all)
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax/chia seeds + 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice or other acidic
  • 1/3 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
  2. Combine flax/chia and water to make a vegan egg. Set aside for at least 2 min.
  3. Place 2 c. of rolled oats in the food process and process for 45 seconds, until the oat flour forms. It does not need to be finely ground. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Set aside the other 1/2 c. of oats for later use.
  4. Place the ripe bananas in the food processor and process until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nut butter, chia/flax mix, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Process mix until fully combined. Add in chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and 1/2 c. rolled oats and pulse for 5-10 seconds until mix is combined.
  5. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Once removed from oven, cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I do not have a huge sweet tooth and prefer that my desserts are on the less sugary side. In the recipe, I use 1/4 c. sugar and felt that the chocolate chips would make up for the rest of the sugar. I tested this recipe using 1/3 c. of sugar and felt it was too sugary for me but please feel free to adjust your own sugar levels based on your liking! For reference, using 1/3 c. of sugar felt like eating a store-bought vanilla cupcake. There is so much sweetness from the bananas and chocolate chips that I felt 1/4 c. would suffice.

These bars are ideal for breakfast or as a snack! It is basically a banana oatmeal baked into a square and contains ingredients that help lower cholesterol, blood levels, and saturated fat intake. Bars can last up to 2 weeks in an air tight container in the fridge.

Savory Hotteok (Korean Stuffed Pancake)

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Hotteok is pretty much what dreams are made of: yeast dough stuffed with sweet or savory filling. It is very similar to pastries of other cuisines such as xian bing’s in Chinese cooking or paratha in Indian cooking, and the list goes on. The traditional filling is brown sugar and walnuts, but I wanted to do something different and stuff it with ingredients that I have not seen anyone try before. In my version of hotteok, I stuffed them with a combination of chicken, corn, and mozzarella cheese. Corn and cheese are very common in Asian baking, so I wanted to incorporate that into the hotteok.

Tips for making hotteok:

  • Stuff as much stuffing into the center without breaking the dough. 2-3 tbsp. of filling is best for the hotteok, but can be difficult to do without breaking the dough. To prevent this, roll the dough so that the edges are thinner than the center. Because the dough is stretchy, you can stretch the brim of the hotteok dough to the middle.
  • Hotteok seal becoming undone when cooking. When making the dough, seal the dough tightly and let the formed hotteok set for 20 min. before cooking
  • Burnt outside, raw dough inside. The flame of cooking must be in between low/middle with a lid on the pan. Flip the hotteok whenever a side has been browned. Do not walk away from pan!

Savory Hotteok (Korean Stuffed Pancake)

yield: 9 pancakes

Ingredients:

Dough (from Houseofnasheats.com):

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1  c. frozen corn
  • 1 c. chopped cooked chicken meat (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese or mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. sticky soy sauce

Directions:

  1.  In a large bowl, stir together yeast, sugar, lukewarm water, and oil. Let the mixture sit for 8 min until yeast activates.
  2. Sift in the flour and salt and combine and mix. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until fully incorporated and cover the dough with a damp towel. Set the dough in a warm area around 75-80 degrees to let the dough double in size.
  3. In the meantime, lightly oil a pan with oil spray or vegetable oil and saute the frozen corn until thawed, add chicken and sticky soy sauce. Saute on medium heat for about 5 min. Set aside to cool in a bowl.
  4. Punch the risen dough, and then cover and let sit for another 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for about 30 seconds and cut into 9 even pieces. Into the cooled corn and chicken mix, add mozzarella cheese and combine.
  6. Using hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out until about 3-4 in. in diameter with the outer edges thinner than the middle. Add in 3 tbsp. of filling (make sure to pack it in there otherwise pancakes will turn out to be mainly dough). This may be difficult without breaking the dough, but becomes easier with practice. Pull in the edges into the center and seal tightly. Flatten the dough into a pancake and set aside on a floured surface to allow to rise while you make the other pancakes.
  7. After all pancakes have been formed, let them sit for 10 min. for a last rising.
  8. On low-medium heat, lightly grease a pan and wait until pan is completely hot. Add in the pancakes (about 3 at a time) and cover with a lid. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side or until golden brown, and then flip over to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove pancakes and repeat for all others.
  9. Eat hotteok fresh out the pan when cheese is nice and gooey.

Note: the Pancakes freeze extremely well. I recommend cooking them and then freezing some if you cannot finish them within the next 5 days. You can microwave, pan fry, toast, or bake them out of the freezer.

This is an easy recipe that requires a bit more time from dough making. I highly recommend making them on a weekend as a stress reliever!

Low-Fat Mandarin Orange Yogurt Cake

food, Uncategorized

A light and fluffy cake so tangy and zesty that you’ll want to eat all the time. The great thing about this recipe is that you can utilize all parts of the orange: juice, zest, and pulp, although I barely used any of the pulp. However, after I extracted some of the mandarin juice, I ended up eating the remains of the orange since food waste is not an option!

I used mandarin oranges for this recipe but feel free to use any other oranges such as navel, cara cara oranges, etc.

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Low-Fat Mandarin Orange Yogurt Cake

yield: 1 (9 x 5) loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c.  whole milk yogurt + 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp. mandarin orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. mandarin orange juice
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/3 c. chopped walnuts

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. mandarin orange juice

Directions:

  1. Grease loaf pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg. Add in sugar and poppy seeds and combine well. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the dry mixture into the wet in 3 batches and combine well. Add in the chopped walnuts and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until brown on top and toothpick comes out of the batter clean.DSC01496DSC01500
  5. Let loaf cool on a cooling rack for approx. 30 min before putting the glaze on + top with additional zest. Or you can be like me- I skipped the glaze because I could not wait and I went ahead and ate the loaf fresh out of the oven.

The bread lasts in the fridge up to 2 weeks and freezes extremely well. Feel free to make smaller servings such as muffins. I haven’t tried it yet but am certain they will turn out delicious as well.

 

 

Two-Tone Swiss Roll

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It was a Saturday morning and thick cumulus clouds rolled above the city. Don’t typically do too much on a Saturday. Mostly consists of journaling, listening to music, studying, walking around, peeping into the fridge several times, and thinking I should hit the gym without ever going. Wanted to challenge myself in the kitchen and knew that whether it was a fail or success, I’d eat it anyways because I eat just about anything. Been wanting to make a roll cake but never actually had the drive since it seemed so damn complicated but it had begun to pour outside so rather than laying in bed and letting R&B music give me the feels, I took out flour, sugar, chocolate, and eggs and got to mixing.

Crap.

I was missing ingredients, but whatever, my ingenuity will pave the way through this dessert. Also, I had already begun so there is no turning back. I knew that I wanted to work with chocolate and vanilla, and that the cake had to be sponge-like, so a meringue was a must. Didn’t have heavy cream to make a chocolate ganache so I ended up making a wannabe ganache using cream cheese and it somehow tasted… better than a ganache? (inserts side look emojis), if you know you know… So how did I cluelessly make a successful roll cake? Here are some important tips to know:

Tips:

  1. Let the cake cool completely before rolling to prevent cracking.
  2. Set the roll cake in fridge for at least an hour before serving.
  3. Meringue must reach stiff peaks.
  4. A piping bag helps with smooth texture.

Seems like you’re ready to bake so let’s get to the recipe

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Two-Tone Swiss Roll

yield: 10 inch roll

ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. 2% or whole milk
  • 2/3 c. cake flour (make your own HERE)
  • 1/4 c.  granulated sugar

Chocolate mix:

  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk

For ganache:

  • 1/3 stick of 8 oz. cream cheese (approximately) (softened)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Tools needed:

  • piping bag OR sandwich bag
  • rectangular cake pan or cookie sheet (I used 9 x 9 x 2 inches)
  • parchment paper
  • sifter

Directions:

  1. Line cake pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 345F.
  2. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks, 4 tbsp. sugar, and vanilla extract together.
  3. Add in vegetable oil and milk and whisk until combined. Then sift in all the cake flour and quickly whisk together.
  4. In a medium glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and gradually add in sugar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Using a spatula, transfer the egg whites into the yolk mixture in 4 batches and fold in until evenly incorporated. Do not deflate the egg white, be very careful.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and milk until a viscous chocolate paste forms.
  7. Transfer half of the batter into the medium bowl and fold in the chocolate paste.
  8. Pour the white mixture into the cake pan and pour the chocolate mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the chocolate mixture on top of the white mixture. I like to pipe in strips and making sure the chocolate mixture completely covers the white mixture.
  9. Bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes.
  10. Microwave the cream cheese and butter for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate chips. The butter and cream should be hot enough to melt all the chocolate. If not, microwave the mixture for about 10 seconds.
  11. Once the cake has finished baking, let it cool at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.
  12. To assemble the cake, make sure the chocolate side is facing the bottom and spread the ganache on the white portion of the cake. Use the parchment paper to roll the cake tightly. Once rolled, seal the sides of the parchment paper up like a tootsie roll and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  13. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate shavings, or other sweet delicacies.

And that was my Saturday summed up in this recipe post.

Enjoy!

Transforming Box Mix Brownies: A Quick Guide to Elevating Low Cost Desserts

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There are a few things that people love to see when they eat food. First of all, presentation is key. They are willing to pay for the looks of it so they can seem up scale when the photo lands on their foodstagram or snapchat. How many times have you heard words among these lines: “Eh.. it wasn’t that great but I bought it for the aesthetics” ,”buy it for the insta”, “overpriced but aesthetic”…. sigh, it’s very telling. Food nowadays is all about show, especially in this generation where with the click of a button, the world of social media can see what you are currently eating right now.

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With that being said, aesthetic does not need to be expensive. I wanted to gift a nice dessert to a colleague but did not know what to make. I made a japanese fluffy cheesecake but didn’t love how it turned out, I made cream puffs and was annoyed that they weren’t the same size, I made a roll cake which I had accidentally overbaked… so my last resort was boxed brownies. I felt so defeated because I had really stooped this low, but I knew brownies, let alone boxed ones, were impossible to mess up. I had planned to make an extravagant dessert and ended up with my box of $2 Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie mix. At least I knew it’d be decadent and taste good. But then… I gathered up a few ingredients in my pantry while the brownies were in the oven and realized I could make these brownies look from $2 to $15. No JOKE. With sugar, butter, flour, chocolate chips, cream, and chocolate chip cookies, I elevated these brownies to the next level. “I’m on a new level” as A$AP Ferg may say.

Here are the simple tips that can elevate any dish:

  • A simple pattern or design: elegant, and shows an extra step of skill in baking.
  • Contrasting colors:  a light on dark or vice versa makes the food pop. Looks more 3D and is more enticing to the human eye.
  • Monochromatic colors: shades of a single color is very desirable as well. People love monochrome and explains why ombre is so pleasing to look at.
  • Texture: In terms of appearance and taste, people love texture. People love crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside, or smooth with a crunch. Ice cream with crushed cookies or gummies are appealing because it adds texture.
  • Layers of texture: This is a difficult one because too much can be overwhelming, but the right amount is perfect. I’m talking smooth on top of crunchy, on top of sharp on top of…. you know, the list could go on.
  • Packaging: This is key because it’s the first thing that is seen. Before opening a box, packaging gives the first impression. Of course they sayings goes “paying for packaging”..
  • Mini or bite size: Ever seen a bundt cake and thought you didn’t want it? Well what about bite size bundt cake… all of a sudden you do want it. It’s because it has become finger food and no plates or utensils are required, and it’s so adorable that it’s irresistible. This is exactly why cupcakes cost so much more than cakes and why donut holes are more desirable than donuts.

And with that being said, transformation of boxed desserts is rather simple once you know how to apply the rules.

With the supplies I had, I did the following:

  1. Made the cookie crumb topping from my Full-proof puffs recipe and let it set at room temperature to form a swirl for pattern and contrasting colors. [white on black]. Cookie crumb topping was reduced to about 1/4 since I didn’t need that much.
  2. Pour 3 tbsp hot heavy cream over 4 tbsp chocolate chips to form a ganache for layers of texture. Ganache was drizzled on brownies.
  3. Crush 1 chocolate chip cookie into coarse crumbs (large and small crumbs included for texture and monochromatic colors. Cookie crumbs will partially stick onto the ganache.
  4. Cut the brownies into small 1″ x 1″ squares and fit them into a box that already had squares in them for packaging and bite size. It’s difficult to find a box with square placements in them so this definitely isn’t required.
  5. Lastly, tie a bow on the box if it is a gift and leave a cute note.

Hopefully after reading the guide, you can elevate your next box or cake, dessert, or cookies. Wow your guests when in reality you probably only spent $2 and used whatever you had at home :’) Tricky huh?

 

Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)

food, healthy

Honestly, I’m just drooling over here because I made brownies that ARE HEALTHY and GLUTEN FREE??? How is that even possible? I mean fats and eggs make a brownie good; they give it texture. A plant based one honestly sounds unappealing. I honestly am very impressed with my experimentation because I have failed numerous times attempting to make healthy dessert. Somehow, this turned out to be a miracle and it somehow worked. My mind is blown and I want you all to try these brownies some time!!! I love chewy brownies, so I used my knowledge of food science to make the brownies quite chewy. The chewiness comes from the maple syrup used, and gives the brownies amazing texture.

 

The only downside to these brownies was that I did used granulated sugar. If I attempt making these with a non-refined sugar, I will post an updated recipe. I was hoping maybe dates could be use instead, but I have yet to test that out.


Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)

yield: 8 x 8 pan brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. oat flour (I used homemade; flour must be very fine)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tbsp warm water mixed together
  • 2 tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp water mixed together
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp chopped nuts (almonds OR walnuts) OPTIONAL
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips OPTIONAL
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk until combined, and then add the coffee powder. Whisk to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, add the granulated sugar, syrup and water mixture, flax and water mixture, and vanilla. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
  4. Pour the dry mixture into the wet bowl in 2 or 3 batches. Whisk gently but do not overmix the batter. Toss in the nuts and chocolate chips, if applicable, and stir in. _DSC0275
  5. Pour batter into a 8 x 8 baking pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until baked completely.
  6. Take the brownies out and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with some espresso powder, sugar, or ganache and enjoy!

Fluffy Chinese Bakery Bread (Sweet & Savory Fillings)

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Bread is my rock. I can survive with bread and some butter (maybe cheese), and the beautiful thing about bread is that it comes in all shapes and sizes and is a staple in every single country. I believe in the it is said that bread brings people together, because people sit down, break bread, and just talk to create bonds and meaningful relationships.

As a result of my love for bread, it is also my favorite thing to make. The texture of dough is fun to work with and the science behind bread making is stunning. Every single bread I’ve made up to this date has been homemade because I have not yet invested in a stand mixer. It certainly cuts production time by about half, but whenever I consider buying one, I just know that I can do it all by hand, and why let a machine do something that I can do? Plus, kneading dough is a FANTASTIC workout, so why not burn a few calories while at it?

As I move on to discussing Asian bakery bread, in particular, from Taiwan or China, I just want to state that Asian bread rocks. It’s unique in that it much softer, butterier, and fluffier, and often filled with combinations of unique flavors such as 1.) mayo, corn, pork sung, and green onions 2.) pudding and sugar crust 3.) ham, onions, and garlic sauce 4.) Red bean and sesame paste…. The combinations are infinite and as bizarre as some sound, they all end up working well together. Asian bread is famous for using a tangzhong method, but I found that it’s not necessary to making fluffy bread. Simple ingredients and the proper technique can result in a successful bread.

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Ham, pesto, and cheddar loaf

I’ve failed in making bread a plethora of times before I fully understood the science behind bread. My failures were tough, but I want to post my tips below to ensure the proper bread is made.

My mistakes:

  • Must use lukewarm water: about 105 F. I always had my water too hot, and the yeast died, resulting in flat bread.
  • Always add sugar to yeast to activate yeast efficiently. A 1/2 tsp of yeast is sufficient.
  • Do not add flour to yeast mixture until there are plenty of bubbles. Takes about 15-20 min. This will help rising and ensure the bread is nice and soft.
  • Room temperature for rising is sufficient (around 80-85 F). BTW 83 F is room temperature for my family 🙂  I always killed my yeast by placing it in a warmed oven. Unnecessary waste of energy and resulted in failure.
  • Adding excess flour when the dough initially seems wet is a NO NO. I’ve dried out my dough several times because I was impatient to knead the dough more, and I added flour which dried the dough. If the dough is sticky, continue to knead and add 1/2 tsp flour slowly at a time until the dough is smooth. If the recipe is followed correctly, not much extra flour will need to be added. TRUST ME ON THIS! I’ve made bad breads too many times due to this mistake.
  • Hand kneading can take up to 30 minutes. Dough must bounce back, feel springy, and pass the windowpane test, otherwise bread will not be as fluffy! I cannot stress HOW important this tip is. It’s a must.
  • Patience is KEY. Most of my failures arose because I was impatient. I didn’t let the bread rise for 1-2 hours, I couldn’t wait for my yeast to activate, and I didn’t want to knead until the windowpane test was passed. My first successful bread took me 45 min to knead, but now that I have become more skilled, it takes me about 10-15 min, which is not bad at all. Just listen to music or watch a show, and time will pass by quickly.

Fluffy Chinese Bakery Bread (Sweet & Savory Fillings)

yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. bread flour (loosely packed)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 c warm milk (2% or whole milk works)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • egg wash: 1/2 beaten egg

For sweet taro filling:

  • 1 c. mashed taro
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar or honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp water
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds for the top

For savory filling:

  • 4 slices ham OR turkey
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella OR cheddar
  • 4 tbsp pesto sauce or tomato sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp garlic bread seasoning for the top

NOTE: the filling recipes EACH make 2 loaves. Because I wanted variety, I did one sweet and one savory but typically most people would just make both loaves the same flavor. I’m just going for variety here.

Directions:

  1.  Grease two loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yeast, and warm milk until completely dissolved. Let the yeast activate for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour in the bread flour, salt, and egg, and mix until sticky and combined. On a floured surface, pour out the dough and knead for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add in the softened butter and knead for an additional 10 minutes OR more until the dough passes the windowpane test and springs back when pressed. The dough will temporarily separate due to the butter and seem like it won’t come together, but keep kneading and the dough will slowly incorporate.
  4. Lightly grease the bowl, place the dough (shaped into a ball) in the bowl, cover it with a larger pot or plate, and place in a warm area to rise for 1-2 hours. I placed my dough outside which was the perfect mix of heat and humidity.

    _DSC0096

    dough has tripled in size

  5. Meanwhile, to make the taro filling, heat a small pot on low and pour in the water, sugar or honey, and cornstarch in and whisk until simmering. Pour in the mashed taro and whisk until combined (about 3 minutes). Turn the heat off and set aside to let the mixture cool. Add purple food coloring if desired.
  6. Once dough has risen, pour onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 8 even pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll one dough piece into a long oval shape. The dough should be about 1/8th of an inch thick. Spoon the taro onto the oval dough and spread from top to bottom, but do not get too close to the edges. Roll the dough like you would a cinnamon roll and lightly seal the edges. The edges do not need to be completely sealed._DSC0098
  7. If doing savory, lay half a slice of deli meat, spread 1/2 tsp pesto or tomato sauce, and sprinkle some cheese and roll dough like you would a cinnamon roll.
  8. Repeat the process and place 4 rolled dough into each greased loaf pan._DSC0106
  9. Beat an egg well and use a pastry brush to brush the 2 loaves of bread with egg wash. Sprinkle white sesame seeds onto the taro bread and sprinkle garlic bread seasoning onto the savory bread. Cover the 2 loaves with plastic wrap and foil and let the dough rise for an additional 20 min.
  10. Preheat the oven to 340 F.
  11. After the second rising, place the dough into the oven and bake for 22 minutes, OR until the tops are golden brown due to the Maillard reaction. The bread is delicious right out the oven but will get softer once it has set for about 15 minutes covered.

As I have concluded that this is my best bread dough up to date, I’d like to experiment with different shapes and fillings. This was a simple loaf recipe but Chinese bread is known for its beautiful shapes, so until next time, Stay tuned :’)

My Foolproof Cream Puff Recipe (Red Bean and Sesame Flavor)

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These light, eggy, and airy puffs of joy can often lead to a kitchen conundrum, but I have one simple-to-follow recipe that results in the perfect crowdpleasing desserts at any dinner party! OR just a dessert that you can devour on your own :’). Typically a vanilla or custard cream is used to fill puffs, but I highly recommend taking an extra step to make a flavored cream such as oreo, chocolate, or strawberry. I followed a more Asian flavor and made red bean and black sesame cream.


Foolproof Cream Puffs

yield: 20 large puffs OR 60 small puffs

Ingredients:

For the sugar crumb topping:

  • 2/3 c. cake flour (I made my own cake flour; ratio= 1 c. All-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 c, granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter (softened)

For the puff:

  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 4 eggs

For the red bean cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 3/4 c. canned red bean paste

For the sesame cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 1/4 c. black sesame paste (store bought or homemade)

Directions:

  1. To make the sugar crumb topping, combine all ingredients thoroughly with a spatula and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper into any a square or circle (the shape doesn’t matter) until it is about 1/4 cm thick. Place in the fridge so the dough hardens. puff 5
  2. In a saucepan, melt water and butter until simmering. Then add the salt and flour and stir with a spatula until the dough comes together. Cook the dough for an additional 2 min. and then remove from the heat.puff 1
  3. Spread the dough out with a spatula in the pan so that it can cool faster. After about 10 minutes of cooling, crack in the eggs one by one, mixing them in completely with a spatula before adding another egg. puff 2
  4. Once the dough is smooth, completely incorporated, and a thick, viscous consistency, place in a piping bag or sandwich bag with the corner trimmed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  6. Pipe the dough onto a lined baking tray with parchment paper of a silicon mat. For large puffs, pipe a circle 2 in. in diameter and for small puffs, pipe a circle 1 in. in diameter. Remove the sugar crumb from the fridge and cut out either a 2 in. or 1 in. circle from the dough (depending on what size puff you are making) with a cookie cutter or a shot glass, or any circular device. Place the sugar crumb dough on top of the puff dough a gently press down. Repeat for all puffs and then place in the oven.
  7. Bake puffs for 25-30 min or until lightly golden brown.puff 8
  8. Once the puffs are done baking, cool for 10 min. Take the whipped cream and manually whip the red bean or sesame paste into the cream. Place back in the fridge.
  9. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corned tip cut, place the cream in. For each puff, cut a small half circle with a small knife and pipe in enough cream to fill the entire puff and then cover back the small half circle up. Repeat for all puffs and enjoy immediately or place in the fridge until ready to enjoy.

The puffs can last up to 5-6 days in the refrigerator. They taste best fresh out the oven with cream so I advise snacking on some after immediately baking! I’ve made these for a few parties and have received compliments from many many people so I guarantee that this foolproof recipe will be one for the books.