Homemade Plain Bagels

Homemade Plain Bagels

 

One of the things I miss most about San Jose is my beloved little bagel spot.

It was a cozy little family-owned bagel shop that was a gem of the community. The staff were some of the nicest people around and even when I would fumble in at 6am, they would always greet me with warm hellos—-and of course my cheese bagel with jalepeno spread. AH-MAY-ZING!

I’ve really been missing those delicious bagels lately so when I saw the post on Tasty Kitchen for homemade bagels, I knew I had to give them a try. Meredith’s take on them were straight forward and easy to follow. I especially appreciated the short proofing time—which is always a plus in my book!

I really liked the texture of the bagels as it yielded the lovely chewiness that I am so fond of. However, after my bagels cooled down, they began to flatten out. She had commented to another reader that this may happen when you let the dough rest too long but I only had mine out for about 20 minutes.  I was a bit Sad Panda but I would love to try it again and substitute some of AP flour for wheat.

Nonetheless it was a fun recipe to make!

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Homemade Plain Bagels
From An Epic Change
Makes 1/2 Dozen

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoon yeast
½ tablespoon sugar
⅔ cup warm water + extra
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour

In the bottom of your mixer bowl, combine 2/3 cup water, sugar, and yeast and let the yeast develop for about 5 minutes. Add in flour, vegetable oil, and salt and mix with a dough hook (or by hand) until the dough is elastic and tough. You may need to add in a bit of extra water, but do it little by little. Let the dough sit and rise in a warm place for  20-30 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead. Cut into 6 equal pieces. Roll each individual piece into a “snake” long enough to wrap around your palm. Dip each end of the dough in water and press together in your palm, forming a circle. Place the formed bagels on a floured board and allow to rise another 20-30 minutes.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. When the water is gently boiling, place 2-3 bagels into the water for 1 minute and then flip to boil on the other side for another minute. Remove the bagels, place them on paper towels to take off excess moisture, then place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels. Bake in the oven on 425 degrees for 18 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks and enjoy!

Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)

Pain d'Epi

 

Stick a fork in me….I’m done.

And by “done”, I mean that I am DONE searching for a reliable bread recipe that is relatively easy, fuss-free, and above all—tasty. Because I found the recipe of my dreams from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François—authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes.

 


Pain d'Epi

 

Their objective was wonderful really…..to create amazing home baked bread with only 5 minutes of “active preparation”. 5 Minutes and NO Kneading! The dough can also sit in your fridge for up to 2 weeks which means fresh baked bread whenever your heart desires :)

 

Pain d'Epi

 

Their master recipe dough can be formed into any shape that you like. I usually lean towards a boule or baguette as it’s the quickest to shape. But when I want the maximum amount of “crunch” and “crust”, I shape a Pain d’Epi—or “wheat stalk” bread. I love how you can just tear off a section of the Pain d’Epi and essentially have your own little mini baguette. Wonderfully crunchy texture on the outside and soft-spongy interior. DEEEEE-luxe.

My Bread Baking Life will never be the same :)

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Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Master Dough Ingredients:

6½ Cups All Purpose Flour
1½ Tablespoons Active Yeast
1½ Tablespoons Kosher Salt
3¼ Cups Warm Water
Olive Oil
Additional Flour (for dusting)
1 Cup Hot Water (for baking)

Add the yeast to the water. Allow it to activate and get foamy—about 10 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt together. Add the yeast/water mixture and stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough. The dough will be really shaggy and rough. You can also do this step in a stand mixer but be sure to only “mix” until the ingredients have combined. You are not looking to knead the dough.

Transfer dough to a large container (at least a 5 quart) that has been greased with olive oil. Put the lid on the container but do not seal it completely as you need to allow some of the gases to escape during the proofing process. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise.  At this point, the dough should be really bubbly and would have filled the majority of your container. Do not punch down the dough—it will deflate the air bubbles. Seal the lid completely and refrigerate. The dough can be used after a few hours or can be stored for up to two weeks.

When you are ready to make your bread, uncover your container and dust the surface of the dough with a little flour. Pull out desired loaf amount and cut off with floured kitchen shears. Lightly flour the dough and form a ball by folding the dough over on itself several times. Cover the dough and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

If using a baking stone, place it in the middle rack of the oven and place an empty broiler pan on the rack directly below it. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Once rested, take the dough and gently shape it into an oval. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter) and bring in one side and gently press it into the center. Bring up the other side and pinch the seem closed. Stretch the dough very gently into a log. You don’t want to compress the air out of the dough. If it resists your pulling on it then let it rest for just a moment to relax the glutens. Continue to work the dough until you have a nice thin baguette. It is okay if you let the dough rest a few minutes and then come back to it to give it a gently stretch.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle corn meal in a low row and place your baguette on top of it. With your kitchen scissors cut the dough from one end at a 45 degree angle until you are about a 1/4″ from the cutting board. Being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Lay the piece you’ve cut over to one side. Continue to cut in this fashion until you’ve reached the other end.

Once completed, slide the formed Pan d’Epi onto the baking stone in the preheated oven. If you’re not using one, place the entire baking sheet on the middle rack. Put a cup of hot water into the broiler tray below the baking stone/baking sheet and quickly shut the door. Bake for about 30 or until it is nicely browned. Allow to cool completely on racks. If you cut into it too early, you may get a tough crust and a gummy interior.

**You can find step-by-step photos on how to form a Pain d’Epi here.

Focaccia with Caramelized Onion, Sundried Tomato & Rosemary

Focaccia with Caramelized Onion, Sundried Tomato & Rosemary

 

Remember that bread-baking kick I was on a few weeks ago?

Yup……still on it.

Told you I needed an intervention. :)

But in my defense, I think Focaccia could be considered almost “pizza-like”.

 

Focaccia with Caramelized Onion, Sundried Tomato & Rosemary

 

I stumbled upon this recipe from Cookin’ Canuck awhile back and was happy to give it a spin. Dara’s site is fabulous and chock-full of delish recipes! And this focaccia is no exception.

It came together quite easy and the flavors were well balanced.  I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes on hand and decided to substitute them with sundried tomatoes—a tasty alternative! Just be sure to allow the focaccia to bake for 2/3 of the cooking time before adding the sundried tomatoes—or else they’ll burn! And that is definitely No Bueno.

As for my bread-baking obsession, I assure you that it’s currently under control.

Well….temporarily at least. I am ALL out of yeasts. :)

 

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Focaccia with Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Rosemary
From Cookin’ Canuck

Ingredients:

1 Package Dry Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Honey
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
1 Large Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Cup Sundried Tomatoes, sliced
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, needles removed from stem
1/3 Cup (packed) Parmesan Cheese, finely grated

In a medium bowl, stir together yeast, warm water, and honey. Let rest until yeast blooms and bubbles form on top, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth, 5 to 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove dough from bowl and press it into a lightly oiled 9- by 13-inch baking sheet until it touches the edges. Using your finger, poke holes all over the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Let rest until the dough becomes puffy, about 20 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add onion slices, cover and cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Top the dough with caramelized onions, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes and add sundried tomatoes. Return to the oven and continue baking until the focaccia is golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Cut into pieces and serve.

Whole Wheat Garlic Naan…..Where it all started.

Whole Wheat Garlic Naan

 

I blame it ALL on this Garlic Naan.

I had seen a photo of it on Tasty Kitchen awhile back and I’ve been obsessed with it every since. And when I finally got the chance to try it, I went nuts–I was out of control! I went from making just one dish to creating a full blown Indian dinner! I guess I figured if I was going to take the effort to make Naan, I better go the extra mile to make some dishes to enjoy with it. :)

But perhaps now would be a good time to mention the fact that I’ve never really cooked Indian food before—so it was going to be quite a FoodVenture! The next few posts will be recounting the dishes I created and how it all came together.

But let’s turn our focus back to the Naan.

 

Whole Wheat Garlic Naan

 

Jessica from How Sweet It Is did a really great job covering Homemade Naan from Indian Simmer. The only thing I did different was that I used a stove top grill to cook the first side of the Naan before cooking the other side on an open flame. I would have definitely preferred to use a cast iron skillet per the instructions but have yet to replace my skillet that had rusted—-REALLY rusted. Eeew. And if you’re wondering, using an enamel-coated cast iron skillet won’t work either. Yup, I tried it.

But when everything was finished, I had really mixed feelings about the Naan. They did puff up pretty well when cooked over the open flame and were ok when I tasted them right away. But once they cooled, I found that the dough became really tough and loss some flavor. I’m not sure if it was due to my use of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour or if I overworked the dough prior to cooking it. When we warmed them up later on, they became pretty hard and crunchy—-in fact, it was more cracker-like than puffy Naan.

Still, I’m glad I gave it a go. I will DEFINITELY try this recipe again when I finally get my hands on a cast iron skillet because I think it would definitely improve the texture. I’ll also try it with AP Flour in hopes of getting a lighter product.

So even though this Garlic Naan didn’t work out so well for me this time, it did give me the motivation to create an entire Indian feast!

**Next Post:  Chicken Tikka Masala!

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Whole Wheat Garlic Naan
From Indian Simmer

Ingredients:

2 cups Wheat Flour (or AP Flour)
¾ teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
½ cups Warm Milk
½ cups Yogurt
½ Tablespoons Oil, As Needed
Additional Optional Herbs And Seasonings To Flavor The Naan (See Note Below)

Note: The ingredient list includes the ingredients for the dough. You can flavor your naan with all kinds of herbs. I made cumin naan, garlic naan, butter naan, and some topped with cilantro.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well of flour.

Mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together.

I don’t think there’s an exact amount of liquid that should be added to the exact amount of flour to make a perfect dough. So what I do is continue adding liquid slowly and combining it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to your hand too much, then use little bit of oil on your hands and then punch into the dough.

Cover with a damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls (in this case you should get about 8 balls to make naans).

Dust the board again and flatten the balls to make bread that is a little thick and elongated.

Now sprinkle one side of the bread with your desired flavor. I made cumin, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and some simple butter naans.

Brush the other side with water.

Heat a thick-bottomed skillet or a wok or any heavy-bottomed pan with a lid. Once it is nicely hot, place the naan wet side down (it will stick) and cover it with a lid.

Let it cook for about 30 seconds or until you see bubbles on it. Now cook the other side of the naan over a direct flame on the burner with the help of tongs. When you see some charred brown spots then you know that the naan is done.

Smother a good amount of butter on your naans and when you taste them, you’ll know what a peaceful life means!

“Bloomin’ Herb Bread” and a Bread Baking Binge Confession

Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread

 

I’ve really been trying to keep up with my goal of baking more bread.

But I may have gone a little over board last week. Over the course of 7 days, I had made the Simple Bread, Focaccia, Pizza Dough, Garlic Naan, and this Bloomin’ Herb Bread. I was on a Bread Baking Binge! Yeah, say that three times fast.

 

Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread

 

But the moment I saw this Bloomin’ Herb Bread on The Pioneer Woman’s site, I just HAD to make it. It looked so gorgeous with it’s golden bloom–I couldn’t resist!

 

Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread

 

And when I finally cut into it and took a bite—-it was H-E-A-V-E-N! I can’t even justly describe the flavor and texture of it. Crunchy, buttery-like crust with a soft but structured interior. SOOOOO GOOOD! I chose rosemary to flavor this bread but I think thyme or chives would be lovely as well!

I had intended to have it alongside with the Corn Chowder but the next thing I knew it, I had pulled out the Balsamic Vinegar and Premium EVOO and inhaled a good portion of it! I couldn’t stop myself! I’m a sick….sick, bread-lovin’ woman.

But in my gluttonous defense, I did share with Bella. That puggle loves bread as much as her Mama does.

 

Bella Loves Bread

 

I did, however, enjoy some the next day with the Corn Chowder and later on that week, grilled the last pieces to make a delicious Chicken Sandwich.

I’m not ashamed to say it….it was a DARN GOOD Sammy!

 

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

 

If I keep on going on like this, I may need a Bread Baking Intervention…

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Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread
From The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

20 ounces, weight Bread Flour (all Purpose Is Okay, Too) – About 4 Cups
8 ounces, fluid Water
4 ounces, fluid Melted Butter With Chopped Herbs Of Choice. We Like Chives, Rosemary Or Thyme.
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Active Or Instant Yeast (if Active, It Would Be Best To Sprinkle Yeast Over The Water To Let It Start To Work Before Mixing It In)

Combine all ingredients together in the KitchenAid stand mixer with the dough hook (it can be done by hand…it just takes longer).

I mixed them together for about 10 minutes or so until I could successfully achieve a windowpane with the dough. This is where you can pull off a small chunk of the dough you’re kneading and stretch it gently to see if it is somewhat translucent. If you can do this without it tearing, it’s ready. Once this elasticity has been achieved, the dough can sit out with plastic wrap over it for 1-4 hours to double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

After the dough starts rising, it should be kneaded for a minute or two so that the yeast can redistribute. Form it into a dome and place in a covered cast iron pan after coating it with olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Cut a large ‘X’ into the surface of the bread dough so it can bloom!

Bake on the center rack of your over for 30 minutes with the lid on, them remove the lid to finish it off for another 15 to 30 minutes.

Simple Gal….Simple Bread

Simple Bread

 

I love the smell of the Ocean, Clean Laundry, and Garlic cooking. I love the scent of Gardenias and Jasmines in bloom.

And I absolutely love the smell of Cookies and Fresh Bread baking.

I am a Simple Gal really.

That’s why this recipe stopped me in my tracks with only two words…..SIMPLE BREAD.



Simple Bread

 

And it truly is. There are only a few ingredients, has a short “proofing time”, and is not the least bit complicated. Just for a little special touch, I added some fresh thyme to the dough and a little sprinkle of sea salt before placing it in the oven. Delicious.



Simple Bread

 

Crusty, Warm Bread + No Fuss = Simply Happy Gal


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Simple Bread
Slightly adapted from Marcia Passos Duffy

Ingredients:

5-6 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Dry Yeast
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme (optional)
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Sea Salt (optional)
2 Cups Hot Water (120-130 degrees F.)
A cake pan of hot water

Mix 3 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar, thyme and salt.  Pour in the hot water and beat 100 strokes (or 3 minutes with a mixer).

Stir in the remaining flour until the dough loses its stickiness.  Turn onto a floured surface. Knead for 8 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth.  Let rise for 15 minutes in a warm spot (away from drafts).

Punch down and divide the dough into two pieces.  Shape into round loaves and place on a greased baking sheet.  Cut an “X” one-half inch deep in each of the loaves with a wet sharp knife. Sprinkle the tops with sea salt.

Place baking sheet with loaves in the middle of a COLD oven.   Place a pan of hot water on the lowest shelf. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake 40-50 minutes until golden brown.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza–a Super Bowl Party Must!

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

 

It’s Super Bowl Weekend. And if you’re like many Americans, your local pizza joint will be making some deliveries to your house this Sunday.

Sure, it’s convenient and some are quite tasty. But why not make your own??

This Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza is super easy to make and ridiculously delicious. I’ve made my own pizza dough (courtesy of my tried and true Epicurious recipe) but if you’re short on time, you can definitely pick up some pre-made dough from your local pizzeria or grocery store. Trader Joe’s has a great one for under $2.

 

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

 

 

If you have a pizza stone, this is definitely the time to use it. The stone will add a crispier texture to your crust. But I found that I had pretty nice results using a baking sheet—just be sure to use corn meal on the bottom.

And if you’re a garlic lover, you will be smitten with the SUPER GARLICKY flavor from the roasted garlic. But let’s not forget how deliciously cheesy this pizza is–three types of cheeses will do that for you :)

This will definitely be a WIN for your Super Bowl Party.

 

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

 

I, myself, am boycotting the Super Bowl. As a lifelong Vikings fan, I just cannot watch the Packers!

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Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza
Serves 4

Pizza Dough (Adapted From Epicurious):
1½ Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Warm Water
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Toppings:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ Cup Roasted Garlic
1 Tablespoon Yellow Cornmeal
1 Cup Cooked Chicken Breast, diced
1 Cup Roma Tomatoes, diced
¼ Cup Sundried Tomatoes
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
¼ Cup Feta Cheese
2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Scallions, diced
¼ Cup Fresh Italian Parsley, finely diced
Kosher Salt and Pepper
Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese and Red Chili Flakes

Prepare Dough. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water. Let stand 2-3 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups flour and the salt. Add the yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Flatten the dough with your fist. Cut the dough into 2 pieces and shape the pieces into balls. Flatten the dough slightly. Dust the tops with flour. Place the balls of dough on a floured surface and cover each with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let rise 60 minutes, or until doubled.

Place pizza stone or large baking sheet in the middle rack and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly dust your surface area with flour. Roll/toss/stretch the dough into your desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and brush with olive oil over top. Spread the roasted garlic all over the crust and add chicken, sundried tomatoes, and Roma tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the entire pizza with the cheeses and scallions. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Sprinkle the pizza with Italian parsley and serve with additional parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.

*Loosely inspired by Cooking Light


Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

They’ll Fry Anything in Texas….

Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn

 

I think many folks are familiar with the steamed buns originating from Northern China. Depending on where you’re from, they are known as Baozi, Xiaolongbao, Mantou, Manapua—or Bánh Bao if you’re Vietnamese.

Growing up, I have very vivid memories of my mom making Bánh Bao. In fact, she had each of my siblings in an assembly line for her own little Bánh Bao Factory—each of us being responsible for a certain component of the Bánh Bao. Cutting up the boiled eggs, creating little meatballs of the pork mixture, slicing the Lap Xuong (Chinese sausage), rolling out the Bánh Bao dough, and my very tough job—cutting little squares of paper to place the Bánh Bao on. Hey, without me, the Bánh Bao would stick to the steamer! :)

Needless to say, I am quite familiar with Bánh Bao. That is, until a recent trip to Houston, Texas.

While hanging out with family in Bellaire (Houston’s version of Little Saigon), my cousin Bi wanted to pick up some Bánh Bao from T.P. Banh Bao in the Hong Kong City Mall. But not only did he want the traditional steamed buns, he wanted to try out T.P. Banh Bao’s specialty buns— Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn. Translation: Deep Fried Bánh Bao

EXCUSE ME?! Deep Fried Bánh Bao?! I was both grossed out and intrigued at the same time—and I love all things fried!

That was it, we needed to try them—despite being utterly stuffed from the Dim Sum we just inhaled.

 

Photo from Flavor Boulevard

 

Bi placed his order and a few minutes later, we had our little hands on a box of Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn that were fresh out of the fryer. After a few minutes of obligatory cooling down time, we cracked open a Bánh Bao and took a bite.

 

Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn

 

And you know what? They were really tasty! I was concerned that the dough would soak up all of the oil but it appeared that they used a different type of Bao dough that was both thinner and less dense. The dough had a nice crunch and was slightly sweet—like traditional Bao dough. The filling was quite flavorful and there was a lot of it.

I’m a convert now. Sure, this isn’t something you can eat all of the time but its uniqueness and taste is definitely worth eating again! And at $11 for a box of 9, it’s not too steep for a quick treat.

Those Texans…..What won’t they fry? :)

T.P. Banh Bao
11209 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77072
(281) 988-7667


Why Hello, Sopapillas….

Sopapillas with Honey

Hello Dear Friends! My sincere apologies with being MIA but I was out of town for several days. A part of my adventures included a quick road trip with my big brother from Houston to Orange County—that’s 1,600+ driving miles we clocked in! And although the drive was done in 2 quick days, we did stop for some great eats on the road back to California.

One such memorable pit stop occurred in Las Cruces, Mexico. Nopalito Restaurant is a family owned establishment that features New Mexican cuisine at its greatest. I, of course, inhaled my delicious lunch that included a cheese enchilada, crispy taco, and a flauta—all smothered with their yummy chile verde. It was DARN GOOD! But as tasty as our entrees were, it was our dessert that had me.

My brother had insisted that wherever we ate for lunch while in New Mexico, we needed to order Sopapillas. I had never heard of Sopapillas, let alone try them before. But when he said it was a flat bread that was fried, I was ALL over it. Our awesome server brought over a basket of our freshly fried Sopapillas with a bottle of honey. It was SOOOOO good! The bread was crispy but not greasy and the dough was slightly sweet and further enhanced by the floral notes of the honey. And I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I had polished off my entire Sopapilla before my brother even had his second bite. Heheheh…. it was good.

Headed to Las Cruces anytime soon? You must stop by Nopalito Restaurant. Delicious food, friendly service, great prices…and of course, Sopapillas.

Nopalito Restaurant
310 South Mesquite Street
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001
(505) 524-0003

Cocktail Buns….Take 1

Cocktail Buns

 

For the past few years, I’ve been pretty obsessed with Cocktail Buns– a Chinese bread/pastry filled with a sweet and sugary coconut filling. I really blame it all on TC Pastry located in Daly City, California. Hands down, they have the BEST Cocktail Buns–EVER! Somehow, their rendition is always extra fluffy, extra buttery, and just extra GOOD. And at 60 cents a pop, you just can’t beat it!

Sadly, now that I’m no longer in the Bay Area, I miss my regular fix of Cocktail Buns and needed to take matters into my own hands. My sister recommended trying out the Corner Cafe’s version which used a good amount of milk powder in the recipe. What further intrigued me was the use of a “water roux” in the bread dough.

Like most yeast products, this recipe did take some time to come together and required a few proofings. The end results produced an OK product for me. Right out of the oven, the bread was pretty flavorful and had a nice texture. However, I found the filling to be too dry and not sweet enough. Perhaps next time I’ll add a tablespoon of condensed milk to assist with the moisture.

Sadly, my Cocktails Buns paled in comparison to TC Pastry…..they are after all, “dee best”. But until I can make a visit to the Bay again, I’ll just need to go back to the drawing board. :)

 

Cocktail Buns

 

So, if you’re in the area, you MUST go to TC Pastry and pick up a dozen or so Cocktail Buns. They also have some delicious and affordable Dim Sum. Ugh…I’ll be so jealous. :)

TC Pastry
67 Saint Francis Square
Daly City, California 94015
(650) 755-8612
Hours: Mon, Wed-Sun 8:30 am – 7:00 pm

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Cocktail Buns
From Corner Cafe

Ingredients:

Cocktail Buns:
1/2 portion Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough
1/2 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
White sesame seeds

Cocktail Bun Filling:
100g softened butter
45g plain flour, sifted
50g milk powder, sifted
45g caster sugar, sifted
20g desiccated coconut

Mexican Topping:
30g softened butter
10g caster sugar, sifted
20g plain flour, sifted

Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough:
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g butter, cubed

Water-Roux Paste:
25g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water

Prepare the Water Roux. Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling film over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook as before until it starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.) This water roux can be kept in an airtight container after cooling in the refrigerator for 1 day if not used immediately. However DO NOT USE if it turns grey in colour, that means it has gone bad.

For the Bun Dough: Sift bread flour, plain flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)

Knead in butter until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading. I usually stop kneading when the dough sticks to the work surface and stretches like chewing gum when pulled!) Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.

Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 16 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Form each into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.

Prepare the Cocktail Bun Filling: Mix everything together. Divide into 8 equal portions.

Prepare the Mexican Topping: Cream softened butter and sugar until pale. Fold in flour. Transfer into a small freezer/snack bag with a tiny cut at one corner for piping (or use a piping bag fixed with a 1/2cm or smaller round nozzle).

Assemble. Take one of the 8 small divided balls and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle. Place one portion of the Cocktail Bun Filling in the centre of dough circle. Gather the outer edges of the dough circle and wrap up the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. Roll the sealed dough with your palm on the work surface lightly up and down to shape the dough into a cylindrical shape. Repeat with the other 7 dough balls. Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size on a lightly greased tray. When ready, brush with eggwash. Then sprinkle a little sesame seeds onto the buns and pipe 2 lines of the Mexican Topping on top of each bun. Bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.