Daring Baker October Challenge

Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
This time the Daring Bakers tried their hands on one of the pinnacles of backing, namely french macarons. It was one of those occasions where being a Daring Baker gives you the opportunity to try something you would never have thought of doing on your own. (well, "thought of" maybe yes, but "actually done" absolutely not ;) ) I made run-of-the-mill almond macarons filled with a chocolate ganache. Unfortunately, I didn't get any feet at all, but I still liked the crunchy, moist and chocolaty macarons. Thanks Ami for this great choice.


One year.. ...older? ...wiser? ...well fed!

Apple Yoghurt Cake

One year ago I posted on this blog for the first time as a kind of practice run for my first Daring Bakers Challenge (Caramel cake. Oh, the (slightly over-hyped ;) ) horrors of making caramel at home and living to tell the tale.). So, after a whole year of bread baking, the odd scoop of ice cream, 10 Daring Bakers Challenges (I skipped once), joining the Washoku Warriors and quite a number of pasta recipes I thought I had deserved some cake. I made a apple yoghurt cake based on the recipe for apple and maple yoghurt cake by Chocolate&Zuchini, just substituting molasses for the maple syrup because mine had gone bad. It's a nicely moist cake,but next time I would also mix some apple slices into the dough.
Of course everyone reading or commenting on this blog deserves a piece of cake too. So, dig in. ;)


World Bread Day 09

Baguette / French Bread

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17)Zorra from 1x umrühren bitte has invited all bread bakers and breadophiles out there to World Bread Day-Yes we bake. The fourth installment of its kind to celebrate the joy of bread in the food blogosphere.
Because some of my latest adventures in bread making were uhm.. interesting but not as tasty as I'd hoped, I decided to go back to the classics and made a French bread following the recipe given in The Bread Bakers Apprentice. (a detailed walkthrough of the recipe can be found at apple pie, patis & paté)
The recipe was easy to follow and it resulted in great (well, for my standards) bread. It's just a pitty it doesn't keep very well, or rather at all but gets stale very quickly. And I need to get a new blade for the carpet cutter which I used for slashing the loaves. ;)


Washoku Warriors - Vinegar

Tangy Seared Chicken

In their latest attempt at mastering Japanese cooking, the Washoku Warriors turned to vinegar as a key ingredient. No need to get your sushi matts out of the closet, yet. Sushi will get its own challenge sooner or later. The main dish was a tangy, seared chicken which is braised in rice vinegar, sugar and sake with some soy sauce added at the end. Not bad, but leeks (which were optional here) with soy sauce and rice are a frequent dish during winter in my kitchen.
Next there was an assortment of different sauces, relishes and the pickled red and white radishes on the picture below to choose from. The radishes are red on the outside and white on the inside at the start, but the red colour will leech into the vinegar and the whole radishes as time progresses.
I remember my grandparents having buttered bread with salted radishes and cucumbers as dinner during summer, so this was a new twist on an old favourite.

Red & White Radishes


Past‘ e Patate

Past‘ e Patate
(Pasta and Potatoes)

It's been a bit quiet here this week, but that's only because I've been cooking for blog events due later this month. I wanted to publish this post some days ago, but then Photoshop let me know in no uncertain, non-verbial terms that it doesn't like me anymore and I had to fool around with some other programs for brushing up pictures.

The recipe for pasta with potatoes comes from the highly eloquent blog Anonyme Köche (Anonymous Cooks) by Claudio del Principe, which has recently been turned into a book. As has been noted in the comments of the original post, this dish is "Brutally good." And brutally simple to make.

Past‘ e Patate

Source: Past‘ e Patate by Anonyme Köche


3 cloves garlic
slice of celery
4 medium potatoes, diced (1.5 cm per side)
100 g diced tomatoes
250 g dried pasta (Gnocchi shape, if possible)
olive oil
nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste


Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium heat, add the garlic and celery. Add the potatoes and fry briefly. Add the tomatoes and freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Cover everything with water and simmer for an hour on low heat with the lid on. Simmer for a further quarter of an hour without the lid, stirring gently.
Boil the pasta until al dente and drain well. Stir in the pasta and let stand for one minute, so the pasta can soak up the sauce. Serve wih some freshly grated parmesan.


Chinese Flower Steam Buns

Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao (Chinese flower steam buns)

At the end of summer, the Bread Baking Babes have turned to far-away asia for this month's recipe. Baking Soda of Bake My Day! figured that the Babes have mastered the art of baking so well, they can now turn to baking without actually baking (a bit like in that koan about the sound of one hand clapping).

The recipe for this month are Chinese flower steam buns. They are easy to make, if a bit time consuming and they provided the perfect excuse to buy one of those (inexpensive) bamboo steaming containers at the Asian food store. The buns are very tasty and their appeal as streed food becomes immediately apparent. The one thing I couldn't do were the double knots because when I made a noose and tried to pull it tight, the strands of dough would not slide along another but tend to stick to each other. So I made just single knots and tucked the ends under to pretend the other knot was hidden underneath.

I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.

Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao
(Chinese flower steam buns)

Source: Global Baker by Dean Brettschneider

makes 10 buns

"Everywhere you go in China you see people eating steam buns, also known as mantong. Typically Chinese, a sweet bread is combined with a savoury filling, such as red bean paste and barbecued pork, but take care and avoid using too much filling or the bun will fall apart during the rising and steaming stage. The baking powder helps to open up the texture and gives a little tenderness to the eating quality of the buns. If you can, use imported Chinese flour from a specialist Asian food market or store".

300 g chinese flour (use low gluten flour such as cake flour)
15 g sugar
15 g butter
good pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
150 ml chilled water, placed in the refrigerator overnight

rice bran oil, for brushing on dough
40 g finely chopped spring onions or chives
25 g finely chopped red chillies
salt to taste

To make the dough, place all the ingredienst into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, combine to form a very, very firm dough mass. Dont'be tempted to add any water or the steam buns will be flat after steaming.

Place the dough on a work surface and, using your rolling pin, roll out to a thin strip, fold this in half and roll again. Repeat this 10-15 times with a 30 second rest in between each time. This is a way of mixing a very firm dough, the dough will start to become smooth and elastic as a result of the rolling process.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warmish place (23-25C) for 15 minutes. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 25cm square.
Brush the dough surface lightly with oil and sprinkle the chopped chives and chillies evenly over the dough. Season with salt.
Fold the dough in half and then cut into 2.5cm strips so that you end up with 10 folded strips. Stretch each strip and, starting at the folding edge, twist the two pieces of each strip over each other to form a rope.
Take the twisted rope and tie into a double knot, tucking the loose ends underneath. Place each bun with ends facing down on a 5cm square of non-stick baking paper and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Prove for approximately 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

Bring a wok or saucepan of water to the boil with a bamboo steamer sitting on top. Remove the bamboo steamer lid and place the buns on the paper in the steamer 3-4 cm apart to allow for expansion during steaming. Replace the steamer lid and steam for 20 minutes. Repeat until all the buns have been steamed and are firm to the touch.


Tai Bai Chicken

Tai Bai Chicken

Another recipe from the bookmarked-for-ages pile. I've read Fuchsia Dunlop's food memoire during last year's Christmas break. Tai bai chicken is mentioned several times in the book and now I finally got around to try making it myself. I didn't bother to divide the scallions in white and green but just added them at the beginning. This recipe is well suited for the colder months because it fills the kitchen with the savoury aroma of soy sauce during the reduction step. The meat was succulent and overall this recipe is surely a keeper.

Tai Bai Chicken - Tai Bai Ji

Source: Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop


about 1 pound chicken leg or thigh meat, on or off the bone
1/2 cup peanut oil
a small handful of dried red chiles, preferably Sichuanese, snipped in half (seeds discarded)
4 Sichuanese pickled chiles, cut into 2 1/2-inch sections or
6 Thai pickled chiles with 1 tsp pickled chili paste
5 scallions cut into 2 1/2-inch sections, white and green parts separated
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry
1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1 1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 pinches ground white pepper to taste
1-2 tsp sesame oil


- Chop the chicken into 1 1/2-inch chunks (2-inch chunks if cutting on the bone). Season the wok,then add 1/2 cup of oiland heat over a high flame until just smoking. Add half the chicken and stir-fry for one minute, until it is white but not crisp or cooked through. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

- Drain off all but about 3 Tbsp of oil. Return the wok to medium heat, and when the oil is hot but not smoking add the dried chiles and stir-fry until you can smell their fragrance, taking care not to let them burn. Then add the pickled chiles and paste (if using) and stir-fry untilthe oil is reddish and they smell good too. Add the scallion whites and stir-fry for another 10-20 seconds until you can smell their fragrance. (All this frying should be done over medium heat so the spices don't burn.)

- Add the stock and the chicken and season with the Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, Sichuan pepper, sugar, salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer over gentle heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. As the stock dries out, remove the dried chiles and scallions with a pair of chopsticks and discard them.

- When the stock has almost all evaporated, leaving just the spicy oil, add the scallion greens and stir-fry for another 30 seconds or so, until they are just cooked. Remove the wok from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and spoon onto a serving dish.