Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flower Butter Cookies For Teacher's Day

So this is pretty much a last minute decision. Always happens. :P Kids come home and reminded me that Teacher's Day is just around the corner. Yeah I rely on them nowadays for these dates because MOE decided that it is best to held these occasions on a Friday, be it Children's Day or Teacher's Day. :P It's all good because it means having a long weekend, woohoo! So back to the kids reminding me about Teacher's day coming soon. Nope, mummy ain't the kind to splurge on presents and what not. I usually just bake. Cookies, cakes and even mooncakes (last year) since it is so close to mooncake festival as well haha. Anyway, I decided to bake a batch of butter cookies in flower shapes...something I did perhaps 3 years back. The idea came when FB did that memory flash back thing a couple days ago. I did not get a chance to post that time though. So here it is!
The formula for the cookies are relatively easy to make, just needs a little patience because of the steps involved in handling the cookie dough and assembling them. But nice right? I bet anyone, not just the teachers will enjoy these. #SureWin

Ingredients for Flower Butter Cookies (makes about 16-20)
Vanilla Dough
200 g salted butter room temp
150 g caster sugar ( I grind it till powdery, easier to melt)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
410 g all purpose flour

Chocolate dough
10g sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
Chill 20-30 minutes

6 cm diameter Flower and 1.5 cm round cutter
1 egg white

Popsicle / Ice cream sticks
Colourful ribbons

  • In a large mixing bowl, add in the butter and sugar. Beat the mixture till light in colour and fluffy. Making sure the sugar is all melted in. Do a little taste test to make sure (I love this part heehee)
  • Next add in the vanilla extract, egg and egg yolk. Continue beating till smooth. 
  • Lastly, sift in all of the flour. Remember to start the mixer at a slowest speed. You don't want flour flying all over the kitchen. Use the spatular to scrap down the sides.
  • Note that the dough will be pull away from the side of the bowl and yet still soft and pliable.
  • Divide the dough in to two equal portions. I kinda eyeballed it, too lazy to weigh it out. But please do so if you need to ya. ;)
  • Sift in the 10 g of cocoa powder into one of the portion, while you wrap the other in plastic wraps.
  • Beat the cocoa powder into the dough for a good 2 to 3 minutes till it is well combined. Then wrap the chocolate dough in plastic wrap as well. Chill them for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

  • In the meantime, prepare a clean work surface, some flour to dust it, the cutters and also the ice cream sticks.
  • Take out one of the chilled dough from the fridge while leaving the other inside. Take half a portion and roll out the dough into 1/2 cm thickness. Remember you need to work fast as the dough tends to soften and it will be quite hard to handle.

  • Cut out as many flower shaped dough as possible with the rolled out dough. Gather the trimmings and roll out again, cut and repeat. Then use the other half of the dough and repeat the same process until all the dough is used. You then use the circle cutter and cut out the center of the flower dough. 
Note: If you choose not to make so many, you can always keep half of the dough portion in the freezer and use it when you feel like having some cookies.
  • Chill the cut out flower and circle dough in the fridge. Take out the chocolate cookie dough and do the same thing as before. Cut out the flower dough and then the circle ones. Chill the dough as well.
  • After chilling the cut out dough for about an hour, go preheat the oven to 175C. 
  • Remove the cut out dough from the fridge. Fit the chocolate circle doughs into the vanilla flower doughs. Then fit the vanilla circle doughs into the chocolate flower doughs.

  • Then brush the surface with egg white. Press an ice cream stick in the center as shown below.
  • Cover the top with the opposite coloured cookie as shown below. So for this reason, you should always make the same number of vanilla dough cut outs as the number of chocolate dough cut outs. To match up in exact number.
  • Repeat the same process until all the dough are assembled and used. Chill in the fridge for 30  minutes before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 175C. Remove the cookies from the fridge and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. You can rotate the tray at mid point around 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking tray before handling them.
  • Decorate with ribbons or mini messages written on the ice cream sticks. ;) Enjoy!
If you plan to make these, you can also omit the ice cream sticks. The flower dough itself is pretty nice. Alternatively, you can use both round cutters and thus making it look like a lollipop instead. Another modification is you may use the same flavour on both sides of the dough, but I kinda prefer the mix which I can get a taste of vanilla and chocolate together. :9 Best part about this? Is to eat a cookie from a stick! :D

Don't limit your creativity and have a blast. Hope the teachers will enjoy these of course. :)

Happy baking folks!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hokkaido Milk Loaf (北海道面包)

I often asked myself, why have I not attempt to bake one of the top favourite bread loafs around. If you are wondering which one I am referring to...well, it is none other then the Hokkaido Milk Loaf itself. Perhaps I have been waiting for the right Hokkaido milk to come by? ~Excuses Or maybe I needed to explore more in this dairy product. Or perhaps I just didn't quite come up with the right recipe as yet. 

I was perfectly happy with the usual brands on the dairy aisle. It just never occurred to me to try Hokkaido fresh milk. Well, until I got to taste Yotsuba's Hokkaido Fresh Milk. Yup, it was my maiden "encounter" with Hokkaido fresh milk. 

Yotsuba Milk Product Co., Ltd. has been in this dairy business for more then 5 decades which they were established in 1967. Yotsuba seeks safety and top quality milk for their consumer by pledging to value nature status, delivery safety and high-quality goodness. And in order to harvest top quality milk, the company raise their milk cows in a no-stress environment where the animals roam freely in the vast green pasture in Hokkaido. And with the care and attention from the dedicated farmers from Yotsuba, those happy cows produces quality milk. From raw fresh milk, to processing, to packaging and right to the consumers' door steps, every glass of creamy goodness is ensured at it's best quality.

I can understand why the pricing is fairly higher ($6.45 each liter) then the usual milk brands. It having a more superior taste and that unwavering dedication from the company to deliver the best to the consumer. And we all know Hokkaido's magnificent natural environment has always allowed the milk cows to produce one of the finest dairies around the world. Like the Chinese always say, "一分钱,一分货“.

My take after tasting the Hokkaido Milk? Creamier, slight tone of sweetness and still having that clean finishing taste that doesn't leave that sticky mouth feel. 
Yup, I do like it very much. And it goes without saying, I was so gonna to bake with this awesome ingredient.

And so, may I present to you, my very first Hokkaido Milk Loaf using Hokkaido Fresh Milk.

This was actually my 2nd experimental bake using the Hokkaido milk. The latter was a much more successful one and thus I shall be sharing the recipe with everyone. 

I was thrilled the moment I received the fresh milk. Who doesn't? 3 litres of fresh Hokkaido milk right at my doorstep haha!

Wanted to use the milk when they are still fresh, I got to work immediately to bake that Hokkaido bread loaf. And no, don't even think about it. You cannot substitute this recipe with normal milk. Totally defeats the purpose of baking this Hokkaido Milk Loaf recipe in my opinion. 

Did some read up online and found that almost all of the Hokkaido bread recipe uses the "TangZhong" (汤种)method. Never really liked the "TangZhong" method because somehow the bread does not stay soft the following day. So I went ahead and came up with a straight  forward, straight dough method. The result was perfect if I dare say so myself. Comparing the 2 attempts, the latter actually yielded a fluffier and tastier bread loaf.

Ingredients for Hokkaido Milk Loaf (Makes a 9"x5"x4" loaf)

350 g bread flour
40 g caster sugar
5 g instant active yeast
3 g salt
210 ml Hokkaido fresh milk from Yotsuba
30 ml heavy cream
30 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients except the butter.
  • Knead it well using the hook attachment, the dough will slowly come together.  
  • Knead everything together at medium low speed. Dough will be sticky at first but continue to knead for 5 minutes and break 3 minutes until the dough pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl.

  • Add in the butter and continue to knead till it is very elastic and reaches the window panel.

  • This is how you can check whether you have reached the window stage, stretch the dough really thin without breaking it and you can literally see through it. 
  • Leave the rolled dough in the greased bowl and let proof for 1.5hr or till it is doubled in size.
  • Once done proofing, stick a finger in and if the dough doesn't "bounce" back, it is ready. 

  • Divide the dough into 4 portions of 150 g. You will be left with about 40-45g of extra dough. You can fill it with Nutella or just wrap it around a hotdog. 
  • For the loaf, take one of the 150 g dough portion and roll it out flat into a square shape. 
  • Then fold in both the left and right side as shown below:
  • Then roll it up from one end (the shorter side) into a swiss roll, then seal up the edge by pinching the dough.

  • Repeat with the remaining 3 portions and place it in a greased loaf tin to proof.

  • Preheat the oven to 175C while waiting for the bread to rise. When ready, bake in the oven for 28-30 minutes till golden brown.

  • Remove from the oven and immediately remove the loaf from the baking tin. Else moisture will build up in the tin and the base of the loaf might get all soggy. Slice the loaf only when it has been completely cooled.

  • Well, I did not exactly slice the loaf this time. Wanted to show the fluffy and fine texture of the bread. And seems like tearing a chunk off does the trick....oops I did it again.

    The picture pretty much speaks for itself. In terms of taste, it is richer and milkier then the other plain milk loafs I have made. Since I did add 3 kinds of dairy into the recipe ( Hokkaido milk, unsalted butter and heavy cream), which really boost that milky rich flavour. And I do believe the Hokkaido milk from Yotsuba's Hokkaido Fresh Milk does makes a difference in this recipe verses using a normal milk. 
    Hope I have not only persuade you enough to try baking this Hokkaido bread, but also to give Yotsuba Hokkaido Fresh milk a try as well. As I strongly believe the quality speaks for itself. This Hokkaido fresh milk will be available in Fair Price Finest or Xtra at 1 Sept and soon in Cold Storage. I love the fact that it is available in NTUC and not in some Japanese grocer. So go grab yourself some! 

    In the meantime, do what you love and stay happy guys