27 Aug 2013

trying new things

Every week I find myself rearranging the books on the bookshelf to fit in more than it can. A very recent addition is the Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink. I was originally drawn in by the simple design and photography, but after baking from it twice, with plans for more, it's becoming a new favourite. Someday, I'd like to sit in the Scandinavian-style cafe with a cinnamon bun looking out at the streets of London.

I wanted to make the parsnip and sesame flatbreads but quark isn't readily available here. Miisa Mink suggests to substitute it with thick Greek yogurt but I wanted to try make my own version by straining some natural yogurt in muslin overnight. I'm not sure if the texture and taste compares, but it gave me a really thick, less tart yogurt with some parts near the edges resembling cream cheese. The flatbreads were just as delicious (and addictive). 

I haven't decided what to do with the whey yet, but I'll probably make Calpis or bake bread with it.
With bread, needs soup. I tried a new pumpkin soup recipe out of Jason Atherton's Gourmet Food on a Budget. The method is very different to the usual one I make. The pumpkin is roasted in a foil parcel, pureed, then cooked over a low heat until almost dry before mixing it in with stock, grated parmesan cheese and cream. It resulted in a velvety soup with a cheesy tang. I didn't make the lime chantilly but I think it would be pretty amazing and innovative.

Last thing I did today was deep fry some choux pastry to make chouxros (please ignore my crappy pun). The chouxros weren't crispy as I anticipated but was light and fluffy. It doesn't tastes like much on its own, but with the accompanying salted caramel and dark chocolate ganache...it tasted SO UNHEALTHY I probably won't make/eat it again. It also becomes quite oily when cooled, so I ended up dumping half the batch after dinner... At least I can enjoy the salted caramel with something else...!

I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #34: Choux Party (August 2013) hosted by Jasline of Foodie Baker(Thank you for taking the time to host!)

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chouxros     makes around 20 x 4-5cm long pieces

Just a note, these taste very unhealthy...

1 batch of choux pastry made with bread flour instead of plain flour
oil, for deep frying
salted caramel (see below) and dark chocolate ganache, to serve

Once you have made the choux pastry, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 9mm star piping tip and leave to rest for 30 minutes or more. 

When ready to fry, heat a small saucepan, half-filled with oil. When the oil is hot, pipe 2-3 pieces of 4-5cm choux pastry into the oil. You may need to use a scissors to cut/separate the dough. Deep fry, turning frequently until golden brown. Drain off excess oil.

Serve immediately with salted caramel and warm chocolate ganache.

Note: You may want to flavour your choux pastry with vanilla bean paste/extract, orange blosson water etc. before frying and roll the chouxros in cinnamon sugar or caster sugar after draining the excess oil. Up to you! 

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salted caramel     makes around 150-200ml

Add the salt according to your taste. I gifted Mrs Roddick a bottle of fleur de sel recently and she has told me salted caramel tastes better with it. But she said to add a little at a time as it is saltier than sea salt.

50g caster sugar
150ml thickened cream
sea salt, to taste

Put the caster sugar in a shallow frying pan and shake it gently so the sugar is distributed evenly. Dissolve over a low heat, shaking the pan frequently. Gently stir the sugar into the dissolved parts and continue to stir until it becomes a golden amber/whisky colour. Add the cream (be careful of splatter). Stir until the hardened caramel dissolves into the cream*. Turn off the heat, add salt, stirring to taste. Leave to cool before storing in a glass jar. The sauce with thicken slightly upon cooling.

*I like to reduce/thicken the sauce by simmering it for a few minutes. It will become like a spreadable paste.