Thursday, 27 September 2012

Home Style Bread Pudding

Home Style Bread Pudding just out of the oven
Here is an incredibly easy one. Bread pudding is a good way to use old bread which is around the house. Prep time is about 15 minutes and baking depends on the size of the pan you use, but should be no more than 30 minutes.

In this photo, my pan is deep rather than wide so I had to cut the bread into squares. Try to fit square bread into a round pan :)

I've never seen bread pudding served in Japan but I shared this dish with many of my Japanese friends and they really enjoyed it.

Here is an easy recipe for a quick breakfast dish.



Recipe

6 slices day old bread
2 tablespoons butter (cold)
1/2 cup raisins
4 eggs mixed
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Mix the milk and eggs in a bowl. Add in the sugar, cinnamon & vanilla.
2. Add a little of this mix to the bottom of the baking pan. Dip the bread into the egg mixture and a layer to the baking pan. Sprinkle the raisins on top and small pieces of butter. Continue this process of bread layers, raisins and butter until the pan is full.
3.  Sprinkle some sugar on top before baking. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for about 20 - 30 minutes depending on your pan size.
4. You can easily adjust this recipe based on how much you need to make -- it is quite flexible. Don't be shy to experiment.

Egg, bread & baking dish are ready


Monday, 17 September 2012

Spicy Cinnamon Applesauce Cake

Applesauce cake with baked apple slices on top
I am always looking for new apple recipes. I found this one in the German magazine Baking Heaven  but I added a few extra touches to suit my taste.

This cake is quite easy to put together and you can use your own creativity to change the basic recipe by adding raisins, nuts, spices, etc.

Japan has a large apple growing area in the north called Aomori which translates into blue forest. Apple juice is popular here, but apple cider isn't and I really miss the  taste of a hearty apple cider.

Most of the Aomori economy is based on apple growing and I've seen some creative ways to use apples -- more on that another time.

Apple cake with a dusting of cinnamon
on top

Recipe:
120 grams softened butter
140 grams brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
300 grams apple sauce
260 grams flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate soda)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Add a dash of powdered ginger or cloves as you like

1. Sift together in a bowl the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda & spices.

2. Whisk the butter so it is soft and then add the eggs in portions to mix well.  Add in the applesauce and mix. Add in the flour mixture in portions.

3.  If you want to add extra apples inside the cake, peel and slice half an apple and fry lightly with some sugar until just softened. Slices should be about bite size (use about half an apple)

4. Peel & slice other half of the apple to make the decoration for the top

5. Add the slices from #3 above into the mixture and pour into a baking pan at least 18 - 20 cm in width. This cake will rise while it bakes so only fill the pan about 85% full. Make either one large cake or two smaller ones. Arrange the apple slices on top in a circle and cut a piece for the center.

6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes. Depending on the size of your pan, the time may be more or less.

Cake and coffee is a great combination

Arrange apples on top before baking
to create a nice decoration

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Lemon Honey Muffins


Easy honey muffins
This is basically a brioche recipe but when you don't have the right pans, you just have to improvise.

The honey in this recipe gives the bread extra moisture and the hint of lemon is just enough.

Recipe
300 grams bread flour
15 grams sugar
50 grams honey
6 grams salt
5 grams instant dry yeast
150 grams milk
1 egg
50 grams butter
zest of 1 lemon





 
Bench time

  1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast. Mix the egg. milk and honey  in another bowl.


 2. Add the milk mixture to the flour.  Use a bench scraper to mix and coat the flour. Put on a flat surface and knead for about 10  minutes. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Let rest under a bowl for about 10 minutes.


3. Lightly warm the butter in hands and then put on top of the dough and use a bench scraper to incorporate the butter. Knead again so that the bread is soft & supple. If tough, add a tablespoon of milk or so and knead again. Add in the lemon zest. Put in a bowl and cover with wrap. Let rise in warm place for 50 minutes.

 4. Divide the dough into 45 gram pieces. Roll each piece into a nice ball. Place on the kneading board and cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes (bench time).

5. Flatten each ball to remove the air and roll again into a ball. Place in the container you will use for baking. Butter the inside of the container first. Brush with egg. Place in a warm place. Should rise again for about 60 minutes.

6. Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Brush again with egg and bake for about 20 minutes until browned
  

Brush with egg again before baking

Brush with egg before rising

Muffins out of the oven


Red Pepper Mushroom Risotto




Red Pepper Mushroom  Risotto with fried chicken
We have a long 3 day weekend in Japan. Sept 17th is Respect for the Aged Day. How about a holiday for the tired & weary??

So what do I do on a long weekend - bake and cook. It is still hot in Tokyo but not as oppressive as August.  Finally getting my energy back.

Mushrooms are now in all of the supermarkets which is a reason for me to get back into the kitchen. Mushrooms are another of my favorite foods.

Don't be put off by risotto, it is really quite easy. Here is a simple lunch or dinner recipe. Enjoy!!


                      
Use mushrooms popular in your area
Recipe
400 grams rice
1 liter chicken bouillon
1 small onion (chopped)
1 red pepper
lots of mushrooms
50 grams white wine

  1. Slice mushrooms. Peel the red pepper to remove the skin and slice.

2. In a large pan, add olive oil to fry the onions until they become transparent. Add the mushrooms & red pepper and fry until they start to soften. Add the white wine.

3. Wash the rice and drain the water. Pour the rice into the pan with the vegetables and mix. As the water reduces, add chicken bouillon in portions. Add just enough each time to  cover the rice. Use a lid to cook faster.
 

  
Fry chopped onions, add mushrooms & red pepper
then add rice & bouillon
  Continue to add bouillon and reduce the liquid until the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Add salt & pepper for seasoning.

If the rice is cooked before using all of the bouillon, don't add it.

Reduce or increase the ingredients depending how many people you need to serve.

 









Sunday, 2 September 2012

Divine Apple Pie

I used a cookie cutter for the leaves
I love apple desserts! Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. Walking into the supermarket in the fall and seeing many types of apples, sweet potatoes and mushrooms makes me excited - makes me want to bake and cook.

Apple pie is not so popular in Japan. When you do find it in a bakery it is usually the standard recipe - raisins or nuts are not usually added.

My favorite apple pie recipe includes plenty of raisins, nuts & spices. 

Let's get started!




Recipe fits an 18 cm tart pan
Pie Crust:
150 grams flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 egg
50 grams butter
15 grams powdered sugar
pinch of salt
6 teaspoons milk 

1. Put  flour in a bowl and lightly whisk to add air. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Use a pastry cutter to mix in the butter. Can also use fingers to mix in the butter - should be blended well.

2. Sift in the powdered sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix using a pastry card. Add in the egg & milk and mix.

3. Put on a board and use the heal of your hand to mix everything to ensure it is a smooth texture.  Add extra milk if the dough is not soft enough.

4. Shape into a ball and flatten. Cover with plastic and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or so before rolling out.  Neatly roll out to fit a 18 cm tart pan.

This recipe fits an 18 cm tart pan.

Pie Filling:
2 apples
50 grams diced almonds
50 grams raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons almond powder
cinnamon 

1. Peel & cut the apples. Lightly fry in a pan for about 10 minutes with about a tablespoon sugar until they just begin to soften. Drain so that extra water is removed.

2. Mix the apples with the almonds & raisins. Add in the brown sugar then sift in the flour & almond powder. Mix well with a spatula. Add cinnamon and other spices as you like.

3. Fill the pie crust and use a fork to pack down the apples. Use a pastry wheel to cut extra dough for decoration. Brush with egg on the top before baking. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 - 30 minutes. Be careful that the top of the pie does not become too browned.

Use a pastry wheel to cut dough for decorating on the top
if you want a traditional look as below

Brush with egg before baking
The finished pie!
Use your favorite cookie cutter to make decorations

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Autumn Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin cheese cake topped with crumble
 It is September 1st and still very hot outside. I took a break from baking for most of August since it was too hot, but today I was back in the kitchen.

I love the taste of pumpkin in anything, especially ice cream!  Today I tested a new recipe for pumpkin cheesecake.

I use frozen pumpkin puree since I think the canned puree has too much water and not enough taste. Please use whatever is available in your neighborhood.



Pie Crust
50 grams unsalted butter (cold)
I used an 18 cm ring for baking
35 grams powdered sugar
15 grams almond powder
15 grams egg
100 grams flour
1 gram baking powder

1. Put  flour in a bowl and lightly whisk it to add air. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Use a pastry cutter to mix in the butter. Can also use fingers to mix in the butter - should be blended well.

2. Sift in the powdered sugar, almond powder and baking powder. Mix using spatula or pastry card. Add in the egg and mix.

3. Put on a board and use the heal of your hand to mix everything to ensure it is a smooth texture. Do no not handle dough too much since it will get soft very quickly

4. Shape into a ball and flatten. Cover with plastic and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so before rolling out. 

Cheesecake Filling
160 grams pumpkin puree
100 grams fresh cream (about 36%)
250 grams softened cream cheese
1 egg
3 egg yolks
80 grams sugar
10 grams corn starch
26 grams flour
Cinnamon, ground cloves & nutmeg to taste

1. In a bowl, mix the egg & egg yolks together.
2. Soften the cream cheese in bowl then add the sugar and mix well so that the cream cheese is not lumpy.
3. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and add to above - mix well using  a spatula
4. Add the egg to the cream cheese mixture - add in portions and mix well. Use a spatula or small whisk. The batter should begin to become more liquid-like.  Add the cream gradually while mixing. Add the pumpkin puree and spices.
5. Use a bar mix for a few minutes to remove any remaining lumps.


Crumble:
The crumble adds a tasty addition 
32 grams flour
32 grams almond powder
45 grams brown sugar
34 grams butter

1. Mix all dry ingredients and then use your fingers to mix in the butter. 


Putting Together:
1. Roll out the pie dough on a baking sheet and place the baking ring on top of it. Cut off the excess dough on the outside. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes and then pour in the cheesecake filling. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes and then remove from the oven and sprinkle the crumble on top. Put back in the oven and bake for 35 minutes (use a toothpick to check if done).

3. Cool for about 20 minutes before removing the ring. Use a knife to loosen the inside area of the cheesecake before pulling off the ring.


This is the pumpkin puree I used for baking