Fruitcake

One thing I like about fruitcakes is the history behind it that goes back to ancient Rome.  But I wouldn’t use their methods in my baking, it’s only the story that I am fascinated.  

At one point in the past, it even was a traditional wedding cake of the British people.  I am not sure at present time if they’re still practicing it.

Unchopped Dried Fruits Soaked in Brandy for One Month Prior to Baking

Milomania's Photography

According to many, fruitcakes is not everyone’s favourite during holiday treat, perhaps because of its heaviness in the belly.  So, oftentimes it ends up in the gift-giving rituals and then re-gift it again to someone else.  How silly that may sound but it is true.

Sifting Flour  |  Creaming Butter, Sugar, Eggs  |  Folding Mixture

Milomania's Photography

For me, it’s a different thing, we adored fruitcakes no matter what.  I don’t really know the real reason why I got attracted to but one thing for sure is I just love baking them months before the big event arrive – such as gatherings of loved ones.   I carefully preserve them with brandy, wrapped tightly and put it in the refrigerator.  So, this particular cake is one that we in the family are always longing for during holiday season, afternoon snacks or dinner dessert.

Garnished with Fruits  |  Glossed with Jam

Milomania's Photography


Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 and 1/2 cups golden raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 7 eggs, large
  • 2 and 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 tbsp. salt, coarse
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. ginger and cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp. cloves, ground
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 and 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brandy or cognac
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

For decoration:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups  apricot jam
  • Nuts and dried fruits to garnish

Procedures: –  from Martha Stewart

  1. Macerate dried fruits with honey and brandy overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven 275º F / 135º C  Gas #1.
  3. Generously butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, tap out excess flour, set aside.
  4. Sift the flour, salt, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon.  Set aside.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time beating each addition to incorporate, scrape the sides of the bowl.
  7. Fold in the flour mixture and fruits, drained.
  8. Stir to evenly distribute fruits and nuts.
  9. Divide the batter between the prepared pans.
  10. Bake until a cake tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  (If you are situated in colder climate, this could go for 2 hours).
  11. Let it cool.  Invert cakes onto rack to remove from pans.  Reinvert, top sides up.
  12. To decorate, combine the apricot jam with 1/2 cup of water into small saucepan.
  13. Stir until melted and combined.
  14. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.
  15. While jam is still hot, brush it liberally over cakes.
  16. Garnish cakes with dried fruits and nuts.
  17. And top with a final coat of hot jam.
 
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Yule Bread

In my childhood days, I’ve always been wondering how magical the feeling is come December month, the early morning cold gentle wind, ohh it’s just enormously gorgeous. Watching old folks preparing wonderful-looking bread similar to the above photo, constantly got me very excited that is because of the different varieties and colours of raisin in there.  I loved picking them one by one from a sliced bread.  Ahh, such happiness, what a simple pleasure!  This childish wonderment went on year after year after year and that routine became a somewhat traditional.

So today, as the twelve-month period comes to an end once again, I am now the one who is tasked with baking this sweet and colourful bread for the upcoming year-end celebration.  Am hoping my kids will move along the course of this endeavour, perhaps pass it to their own children the skill I have learnt from those grannies of distant past.  Happy to put this on the blog so they may be reminded of my astonishing experience about this delectable bread.

The following images underneath are my best effort of documenting – with the help of an assistant – while my hands are busy tossing things.  Not precisely complete but you have the recipe down below to help you go through with it. 

Yule bread is delicious on the day of baking but can be kept tightly wrapped in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.  Now, get a thrill!

Essential Ingredients

Yule Bread

Sifting Flour and Forming a Soft Dough

Yule Bread

The Messy Part – Kneading  |  Folding  |  Proofing

Yule Bread

Straight Out From The Oven

Yule Fresh Baked 800px


Ingredients’ Shopping List:

  • 375 ml. water
  • 1 breakfast tea bag 
  • 90 gms. sultanas
  • 90 gms. currants
  • 40 gms. candied orange peel
  • 12.5 ml. dried yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 530 gms. unbleached strong white flour more if needed
  • 2.5 ml. cinnamon, ground
  • 2.5 ml. cloves, ground
  • 45 ml. granulated sugar
  • 5 ml. salt
  • 125 gms. butter more for bowl and pan
  • 30 ml. sugar crystals for glaze

Procedures: –  from Anne Willan

  1. Boil 300 ml. water.  Take out from the heat, soaked the tea bag for 5 minutes.
  2. Put the sultanas and currants in a bowl.  Discard the tea bag.  Pour over the fruit, soak until plump for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Strain the fruit reserving the liquid, chop the candied orange peel.  Set all aside.
  4. Crumble the yeast over 60 ml. lukewarm water.  Stir once about 5 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with fork just until mixed.
  6. Sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  7. Make a well in the center, add reserved liquid, eggs and dissolved yeast.
  8. Work the ingredients in the well until thoroughly mixed.
  9. Gradually draw in the flour, work it into other ingredients with the hands to form a smooth dough.  It should be slightly sticky.
  10. Floured work surface, begin to knead the dough by holding the dough with one hand and pushing it away from you with the other.
  11. Continue to knead until it is very elastic and forms a ball 5-7 minutes.
  12. If the dough sticks while kneading, flour the work surface.
  13. Brush the bowl with melted butter, put the dough in the bowl, flip it so that the surface buttered.
  14. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk for 1 and 1/2 hour.
  15. Brush the loaf tin with melted butter.
  16. Knock out the air 15-20 seconds, cover the dough and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
  17. Knead in the softened butter, pinching and squeezing the dough with both hands.
  18. Knead the dough on the floured work surface until smooth again 3-5 minutes.
  19. Cover, let it rest, about 5 minutes longer.
  20. With the palms of hands, roll the cylinder stretching it until 18 inches long.
  21. Fold the ends over to meet the length of the loaf tin.
  22. Put the dough, seam – side down, into the tin
  23. Cover the tin with a towel and let it rise for about 45 minutes.
  24. Heat the oven 200º C / 400º F  Gas #6.
  25. Brush the loaf with water, sprinkle the loaf with sugar evenly.
  26. Bake the loaf in the heated oven until it puffs and begins to brown about 15 minutes.
  27. Lower the heat to 180º C / 350º F  Gas #4.
  28. Continue baking for about 40-45 minutes.
  29. Remove the bread from the tin, sides should feel crisp when pressed.
  30. Transfer to the wire rack, let it cool completely.

Choux Puff Pastry

I come to fully know this just recently while doing a project that was assigned to me.  Yeah I know, this may not be the perfect choux puff but I am proud of myself for having learnt something about making puff pastry.  Really fun and exciting, I cannot wait to do it again soon.

The process is very simple and yet a bit confusing at the same time when you’re just starting.  Well, we all have experiences of those inaccuracy every now and then, okay, here it goes.

So, I will just post series of images below to share with you how it came along during one of my kitchen trainings.  I’m so sorry if the step-by-step photos were incomplete, I missed to shoot some steps but you can easily figure it out through the recipe located at the bottom, happy reading and baking!

Shopping list

Ingredients 800px

Good-looking Yolks

Puff Eggs 0067 800px

Beating Them to the Fullest

Beating Eggs 0069 800px

Mixing and Straining of Custard

Mixing-Sifting 0072 800px

Before and After

Prep-Baked Puff 0090 800px

Filling-up of Custard

Custard Filling 0111 800px

Topped with Melted Chocolate 

Three Baked Puff 0068 800px


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup bread flour

Custard Filling:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup fresh milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup butter

For Caramel Glaze:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

For Chocolate Glaze:

  • 150 gms. semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Procedures:

  1. Line two cookie sheets with baking paper.  Set aside.
  2. Combine water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  3. Place over medium heat and allow boiling.
  4. Add the flour all at once and stir the mixture until it leaves the sides of the saucepan.
  5. Turn off the heat and allow cooling for 15 minutes.
  6. Then, add eggs one at a time, beat-well using wire whisk after each addition.
  7. Transfer the mixture to piping bag.  Pipe out the mixture ìnto a small ball approximately an inch diameter, leaving 2 inches allowance for expansion between balls.
  8. Using the wet back of the spoon, smoothen the tops to ensure a round pastry.
  9. Bake immediately for 10 minutes 450º F / 232º C  Gas #8.  Then lower the temperature to 350º F / 176º C  Gas #4.
  10. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Transfer to the wire rack to cool.
  11. For custard; combine milk, sugar, flour and egg yolks then strain.
  12. Put double boiler and cook, stirring constantly from time to time until quite thick, add butter.  Chill well before using.
  13. To assemble; filled the baked cream puff with the custard filling using a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip.
  14. Arrange several pieces on a dessert platter.  Top with an adequate amount of melted chocolate or caramel glaze.  Serve immediately.

Date-Nut Bread

When eaten alone, dates are a good source of various vitamins and minerals, the source of energy, sugar, and fiber.  Also contains calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and other known vitamins that our body needs.

According to researchers, its massive health benefits is one of the best ingredients in muscle development for both young and adults.  Dates are the best sweet fruit for the digestive system.  Helps prevent abdominal cancer, cure the intestinal disorder, boost nervous system, reduces night blindness and many more.   Almost certainly, is the reason why many people call it the miracle fruit.

Date Bread 174 800px

One day, I was reading a recipe from the Middle East about baking bread with dates and nut, hmm, why don’t I try it myself.  Without any hesitation, I did the experimentation in the kitchen.  The process was not that laborious to follow, the only challenging one is finding dates in the supermarket.  They are not popular to where I live, so I have to go from one place to another until I did find one.

Okay so, here’s the outcome of my peppery flavour, filled with coarsely chopped walnuts just perfect for those who love spicy food, but can be likable as well to anyone because of its delightful taste and aroma.  Try baking one for yourself, the recipe is just below.

Date-Nut Bread


Ingredients:

  • 7 oz. dried dates
  • 1 tbs. active dried yeast
  • 3 oz. wholemeal flour
  • 13-15 oz. strong flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 oz. butter, room temperature
  • 6 fluid oz. buttermilk
  • 2 oz. walnuts, chopped
  • milk for glazing

Procedures: –  from Martha Day

  1. Simmer the dates to soften.  Drain, reserving 65 ml. of soaking liquid.  Stone chop the dates.
  2. Combine the yeast and the reserve dates liquid, stir to dissolve until bubbly.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Make a well in a center.
  4. Add the the prunes, butter, and buttermilk.  Pour in the yeast mixture.
  5. With the wooden spoon, stir in the center, incorporating more flour with each turn, until the dough is rough.
  6. Floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  Put in the bowl, cover with cling plastic wrap leave to rise until double in volume in a warm place about 1 and 1/2 hour.
  7. Grease a baking sheet.
  8. Punch down the dough, then knead in the walnuts.
  9. Shape the dough into cylindrical loaf.
  10. Place on the baking sheet, cover loosely and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  11. With a sharp knife, score the top deeply.
  12. Preheat the oven 425º F / 220º C  Gas #7.
  13. Brush with milk and bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Then, lower the temperature to 375º F / 190º C  Gas #5.
  15. Bake until the bottom sounds hallow when tapped, about 30 minutes more.
  16. Transfer to a wire rack, let it cool.
  17. Enjoy!!

Brioche In Several Forms

So happy to share the results of my bread-making feat.  Go get some tea and experience its sweet-looking goodness.  Go on, try it!

Brioche à tête (above) is perhaps the most classically recognized form.  Brioche à tête rolls are panned in fluted tins with a small spherical piece of dough placed on top.

A highly enriched French bread, whose high egg and butter content give it what is seen as a rich and tender crumb.  It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust from an egg wash applied before and after proofing.

Brioche Vertical 800px

I enjoyed observing the outcome of my Braided Brioche.  Its golden-brown colour helped accentuate further over a crimson cloth underneath it.  With a three interlaced strands decorative braid, I find it challeging at first but as work progresses it was fun at all.

Brioche Nipples 800px

Brioche Cracked 800px

Brioche Nanterre is a loaf of brioche panned in a standard loaf pan.  Instead of shaping one piece of dough and baking it, two rows of small pieces of dough are placed in the pan.  Loaves are then proofed in the pan, fusing the pieces together.  During the baking process the balls of dough rise further and form an attractive pattern.

Core ingredients for the dough are bread flour, eggs, butter, sugar, milk, yeast and salt.

A bit of history:
First appeared in print in 1404, and this bread is believed to have sprung from a traditional Norman recipe.  Probably of a Roman origin, since a very similar sort of sweet holiday bread is made in Romania.  The cooking method and tradition of using it during big holidays resembles the culture surrounding the brioche so much that it is difficult to doubt same origin of both foods.

It is often served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert with many local variations in added ingredients, fillings and toppings.  It is also used with savory preparations, particularly with foie gras, and is used in some meat dishes.

The word comes from Old French, from broyer, brier, to knead, of Germanic origin (bhreg).  Source: Wikipedia


Ingredients to make small brioches:

  • 2 1/2 tsp. dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
  • 5 eggs
  • 375 gms. unbleached strong white flour, more if needed
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 170 gms. unsalted butter, softened, more for brioche moulds

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Procedures:  –  from Anne Willan

  1. Crumble the yeast over the water, let it stand for about 5 minutes.
  2. Beat the egg with a fork until mixed.
  3. Sift the flour unto the work surface with the sugar and salt, make a well in the center.
  4. Add the eggs and dissolved yeast with the fingertips, work the ingredients in the well until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Gradually scrape and work into the other ingredients with the hand to form a smooth dough.
  6. It should be soft and sticky.
  7. Sprinkle the dough with flour and knead, lifting the dough up and throwing it down until it is very elastic and resembles chamois leather for about 8-10 minutes.
  8. Work in more flour as necessary so that the end of kneading the dough is slightly sticky but peels easily from the work surface.
  9. It will become less sticky and more elastic while kneading, add flour sparingly.
  10. Brush bowl with melted butter, rolling it against the side of the bowl, so the side is lightly buttered.
  11. Brush the brioche à tête moulds with melted butter.
  12. Set the moulds on baking sheet.
  13. Punch down the dough and knead for about 15 seconds, cover and rest for 5 minutes.
  14. Knead in the softened butter, pinching and squeezing the dough with both hands.
  15. Knead the dough on floured surface until smooth again for about 3-5 minutes.
  16. Cover the dough, let it rest, for 5 minutes more.
  17. Cut the dough in half, roll 1 piece into a cylinder about two inches in diameter.
  18. Cut cylinder into 5 pieces, repeat to shape and divide the remaining dough.
  19. Cut each piece of dough under the palm and roll the dough in a circular motion to form a smooth ball.
  20. Pinch one-quarter of each ball between your thumb and forefinger, almost dividing it from the remaining dough, to form head.
  21. Holding the head, lower each ball into mould twisting and pressing the head onto the base of brioche.
  22. Press down around the head to seal the brioche.
  23. Cover the moulds with towel, and let the dough rise in warm place until the dough is puffed for about 30 minutes.
  24. Heat the oven to 220º C / 425º F  Gas #7.
  25. For the glaze – Beat the egg with salt, brush the brioches with egg glaze.
  26. Bake the brioche in the heated oven until puff and brown, for about 15-20 minutes.
  27. Unmould 1 of the brioches, turn it over and tap with the knuckles.  It should sound hollow.
  28. Let them cool slightly, unmould, transfer to the wire rack.
  29. Savour!

Apricot Nut Loaf

Here’s an eye-catching sweet and colorful bread, combined altogether in one loaf starting with apricots, raisins, walnuts, orange juice, and orange zest. The tantalizing aroma of its freshly baked straight from the oven is kind of like you’re in to the Elysian fields.  

Apricot Nut Loaf Sliced II

I think for me, this is the ideal lighter version of any holiday cake.  Very nutritious, without doubt this is excellent for an afternoon snack complemented with favorite tea or coffee on the side.  Slather it with butter and your day is complete!


Ingredients:

  • 115 gms. dried apricot
  • 1 large orange
  • orange rind / zest
  • 85 gms. raisins
  • 140 gms. caster sugar
  • 85 ml. oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 gms. plain flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 55 gms. walnuts, chopped

Procedures:

  1. Heat the oven 180º C / 350º F  Gas #4
  2. Line loaf tin with parchment paper.
  3. In a bowl cover apricots with lukewarm water.
  4. prepare the orange rind, chopped.
  5. Drain apricots and chop coarsely, mix with raisins and orange zest.  Set aside.
  6. Squeeze the orange juice, add enough hot water to obtaìn 175 ml. liquid.
  7. Pour the juice over the apricot mixture.
  8. Stir in the sugar, oil and eggs.  Set aside.
  9. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  10. Fold into apricot mixture, add walnuts.
  11. Spoon mixture into the pan, bake for about 45-50 minutes.
  12. Let it cool, transfer to the rack.

Bubble Bread

Hello World!

For the first time in my life, finally I was able to forced myself creating this blog of mine here in wordpress.com. I just thought it’s worth sharing to other people what I loved most, bread baking, preparing unique dishes and then photographing them for keeps.

Half Bubble Bread

Bubble Bread 800px

Okay, so this is my very first post, the classic bubble bread also known as American Monkey Bread.  Bubble I think because of the “bubbles of dough”.  Pieces of dough are tossed in a heavenly coating of butter, nuts, cinnamon and rum-soaked fruit before it goes into the oven.

Take a good look and please feel free to put your comments below, thanks!


Ingredients:

  • 10 gms. easy-blend dried yeast
  • 450 gms. unbleached white bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 120 ml. lukewarm milk  
  • 120 ml. lukewarm water
  • 1 egg lightly beaten

For the Coating:

  • 75 gms. sultanas
  • 45 ml. brandy or rum
  • 100 gms. walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 115 gms. soft light brown sugar
  • 50 gms. melted butter

Procedures:

  1. Grease 9 inches bundt pan cake tin.
  2. Mix the yeast, flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
  3. Add the milk, water and egg in the center of the flour and mix together to a soft dough.
  4. Floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Oil the bowl, place the dough cover with oiled clear film and leave to rise for 45-60 minutes until doubled in bulk.
  6. In a separate round bowl, place the sultanas, pour the rum or brandy, heat for 1-2 minutes until warm, do not overheat.
  7.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. Mix the walnuts, cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
  9. Turn out the dough on to a floured surface and knead gently.  Divide into 30 equal pieces, shape into small balls.
  10. Dip the balls one at a time into the melted butter, then roll into walnuts mixture. Place half in a prepared bundt pan cake tin, space slightly apart.
  11. Sprinkle over all the soaked sultanas.
  12. Repeat with the remaining dough, sprinkle over any remaining walnuts mixture and melted butter.
  13. Cover with clear film, leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes until the dough reaches the top of the tin.
  14. Preheat oven to 190º C / 375º F  Gas #5.
  15. Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and golden.  Cool on a wire rack.
  16. Enjoy!