February 14, 2015

Coconut (Meringue) Macaroons


It's that time of year - the time when I see a lot of pink, hearts and chocolate all over food blogs and food link sites.  Let's do something completely different, shall we?

The recipe I have to share with you today is for coconut macaroons; delicious melt-in-your-mouth meringues that are easy to make and even easier to eat.  This is a recipe from 1999 that my Mum has written down in her recipe book and it's an absolute classic in my house!

Ingredients
3 egg whites
167g caster sugar
60g desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp corn flour



Method

1. Preheat your oven to 110 degrees C (230 F).

2. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

3. Bit by bit, add the caster sugar, beating well in between.  Once all the sugar is added, beat the eggs until they form firm peaks.

4. Beat the vanilla essence and corn flour into the eggs.

5. Gently fold the desiccated coconut into the mixture.




6. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe swirls onto a baking tray covered with baking paper or a silicone mat.  You can make these whatever size you like (just make sure that you adjust the baking time) - I like to make mine so that you can eat it in one to two bites.


7. Bake the macaroons for about 50 minutes to 1 hour or until they are lightly golden, dry and firm on the outside.  You really want to dry these out so they're good and crunchy and don't stick to the baking paper/silicone.

Usually at my house we bake them then turn the oven off and open the door and let them sit in there (as we steadily snack on them) to dry out completely.



8. Let the macaroons cool and enjoy!


When straight out of the oven, the macaroons will be chewy in the middle but once cooled, they are crunchy all the way through.  You can eat them by themselves or sandwich them with ganache or Nutella or something of the sort.  I like them plain because you can just pop them in your mouth and munch.



February 9, 2015

Hokkaido Milk Bread


I'm having a bit of an obsession with yeast.  When I saw this recipe, I just had to make it, because I also have a bit of an obsession with soft, sweet bread.  This recipe is pretty simple (just time consuming as you have to wait for the dough to rise) and it makes a beautifully soft bread.  It's supremely satisfying to have the smell of yeast spread through the house and pull the loaf apart once it's out of the oven.  I highly recommend baking this bread the next time you have a free day!

Recipe adapted from: Two Red Bowls
Ingredients - 11 x 21 cm (4 x 8 inch) loaf
Tangzhong:
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp bread flour

63mL (1/4 cup) milk
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
350g bread flour
1 tsp salt
63g (1/4 cup) white sugar
63mL (1/4 cup) cream
1 egg
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)

Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

Method
1. First, make the tangzhong, which is a cooked mixture of flour and water.  Whisk the 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp bread flour in a little saucepan until smooth, then heat over medium heat while whisking constantly.  The mixture should thicken up; take it off the heat as soon as lines appear while you're stirring.

2. Transfer the tangzhong to a small bowl and set it aside to cool. 



3. Microwave the milk until it's just above room temperature (not too hot, or you'll kill the yeast!) then sprinkle the yeast onto the milk and set it aside for 10 minutes.  The mixture should start to foam and smell yeasty.

4. Once the tangzhong has cooled, whisk the cream and egg into it.

5. Pour the milk and yeast mixture into the tangzhong mixture and stir briefly, then tip the wet mixture over the dry ingredients (bread flour, salt and white sugar).

You can use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together but I just gave it a blast in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.

6. Knead the dough (or mix in your stand mixer) until the dough forms a ball.  It will be very sticky at this point but there's no need to add more flour, unless you're kneading by hand, in which case just flour the surface of the table and your hands.

7. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, kneading in between.  Ensure that the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.

Keep kneading/mixing for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

8. Butter a bowl (I just used the mixing bowl), and place the dough into it.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 - 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.  You could leave the dough in the fridge overnight, but I wanted to get to the end bread product ASAP.




9. Punch the dough down and divide it into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece out into a rectangle-like shape.



Fold the rolled out piece of dough into three, and roll that out again.



10. Roll each flat rectangle up...


11. And place each roll into your loaf tin lined with baking paper.  The rolls don't have to be perfect, don't worry, the dough will rise even more and any spaces will be filled in.

12. Cover the baking tin with a tea towel and let it rise for another hour until doubled in size.  While that's going on, preheat your oven to 175 C (350 F).



13. Mix the egg and milk for your egg wash, then brush it over the top of your risen bread.

14. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes.  The top should be shiny and browned, and when you tap the bread it should sound hollow.



15. Let your bread cool a bit, then there are many ways you can enjoy it!


As the loaf is made in sections, you can pull each quarter apart beautifully; or you can always cut the bread up with a knife.



I love to eat this bread by itself, it tastes amazing, but it's also delicious when toasted and slathered with honey or condensed milk.