Baguette ( Banh mi ) – Bánh mì bột chua

IMG_6745

Tell me that I’m not the only one who likes freshly baked bread and don’t tell me that I’m the only amateur bread baker. Everyone can make bread himself, given he has a perfect recipe. I tried making bread a couple of years ago and had no success. I’m wondering why my bread is crunchy only when it’s out from the oven. To be honest with you, I don’t like the guidance of bread baking books in that they rarely tell you how to adapt the water to your bread flour. It’s really worth learning how much water is needed because water can make your bread go to your dinner table or is directly thrown into trash.

I’ve figured out that the age of flour decides how much water that flour needs. Thus, the experience here is that you shouldn’t follow the recipe exactly. Just remember that add around 3/4 water to the flour if you don’t know your bread flour is as old as the recipe’s flour, then adjust the remaining water slowly  to the dough just until your dough is roughly incorporated but does not stick to the bowl. The required quality of the bread is that the bread has to be crunchy on the outside but fluffy like pillow on the inside.

IMG_6741

IMG_6744

IMG_6749

Ingredients (for 3 baguettes)

Starter

– 1 cup bread flour

– 1/2 cup warm water

– 1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Sprinkle yeast in the water and let the yeast sits for 5 minutes. Then add in the flour and mix until you have a sticky dough. Cover and let the starter sit at room temperature for 10 hours. The maximum time for this process is 12 hours. After 12 hours, your yeast needs to be fed so that you have to work with the starter.

Baguette

– All the starter

– 3 1/2 cup bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour can substitute

– 2 tsp active dry yeast

– 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 cups water, depending on the flour or the temperature

– 1.5 tsp salt

– 1 tbsp oil

– 1/2 tsp sugar

Method

– Mix sugar with 1 1/8 cups water and yeast. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until you see the bubbles on the surface of water.

– Mix all the yeast mixture, starter, salt and bread flour in a bowl (you can safe time by using a stand mixer). Using a fork, stir well until flour absorbs all the liquid ingredients.

– Knead by hand (or stand mixer) until a non-sticky dough is formed. During the kneading time, you can add more water slowly, 1 tbsp a time, to make sure the dough is not dry but no sticky to the bowl.

– Add the oil to a clean bowl and keep the dough cover for the fermenting process.

Fermentation

– Let the dough sit for 3 hours first, then deflate the dough, turn it over and let it sit for 2 hours.

– Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Fold and roll each dough into a log that fits your baking pan.

– Let the dough sit for another 1 hour or until your dough is double in size.

Baking

– Preheat the oven to 500 F for 15 – 30 minutes or until the oven reaches 500 F

– Slash the puffed baguette with a very sharp knife. This technique can help the bread evaporate the steam from the inside, thus stimulating the puffing process in the high hot oven.

– Spray water onto the surface of the breads. Bake at 10 – 15 minutes until the breads are golden.

Healthy French Apple tart – Bánh táo kiểu Pháp

IMG_6546

IMG_6556

Traditional French apple tart is so elegant that I sometimes don’t wanna break its beautiful shape by my greedy stomach.

This time I made French tart with all of apples, which are apple compote and rose shaped thinly sliced apple. Eventhough we change the original recipe, I believe the scrumptious taste of this tart still retains as we want our stomach does not upset too much. Provided that it’s apple, the tart is still delicious. The fun thing behind this tart is that I had lots of help from my hubby. It’s March 8th today. He helped me slice the apples, dice those fruits and made the shortcrust. I only had to shape the sliced apples.

Ingredients

Shortcrust (fit for 9 inch round pan) – Slightly adapted from SimplyRecipes.com

– 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

– 1 stick butter

– 3 tbsp cold water

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/2 tsp sugar

Apple filing

– 6 medium sized Granny Smith apples or any crunchy apples you have

– 1/4 freshly grated nutmeg

– 1 tbsp rum

– 1/2 cup water

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1 tsp corn starch or potato starch

Glaze

– 2 tsp sugar

– 1/4 cup apricot jam

Method

Shortcrust

– Cut the butter into cubes

– Combine everything but the water in a food processor. Pulse for 8 – 10 times or until you have a coarse meal.

– Add 3 tbsp water a little a time with a pulse. In total, you should pulse for around 14 – 16 times. Don’t over pulse the dough or add more water than 3 tbsp, otherwise your dough would be tough

– Form the dough into a wrapping plastic and keep it refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Make apple tart

– Peel and core the apples

– Use 3 apples to chop them into small cubes.

– In a small sauce pan, combine cubed apples + 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 tsp nutmeg and bring to a boil uncovered. Keep the pan for 18 minutes uncovered at medium heat.

– Dilute the corn starch with 1-2 tsp water and add it to the apple compote. Remove the apple from the heat and stir in the rum

– Slice very thinly 3 apples.

– Roll out the crust until it reach 1/8 inch ( around 1/4 cm). Use your rolling pin to roll over the dough, add it to the pan and gently push the dough against the edge of the pan. Remove any extra dough ( My pan fit all the dough)

– Use a fork to make holes in the bottom of the crust.

– Add the apple compote and press it to the bottom of the pan evenly.

– Arrange the thinly sliced apples in your favorite shape ( I believe you would do much better than I did).

– Bake at 400 F (200 C) in the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 F and bake for another 15 minutes.

– Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the tart and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove the tart from the oven

– Warm the apricot jam and spread it over the tart to help it keep the shiny face.

Ratatouille

IMG_6285

I’m  sure that you know the famous cartoon mouse Remy with his unlimited passion for cooking. In case you have no idea about that movie, you should know this aromatic and elegant French dish. I love to inhale the fragrant flavor on the air from the baked vegetables each time Ratatouille runs out from the oven.

The only thing to succeed in this simple but delicious dish is that you should prepare a sharp knife to make sure you have the homogeneously sized sliced vegetables. Well prepared veggie would help the baking more evenly, and of course, yield a better eye catch to someone who thinks meat is the only one that can give us a good dish.

IMG_6282

IMG_6299

Ingredients: (fit 9 inch round shallow pan)

– 1/2 smallish eggplant

– 2/3 smallish yellow squash

– 2 Roma tomatoes

– 1/2 zucchini

– 1 cup tomato puree

– 1/2 cup red onion, chopped

– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

– 1/4 tsp oregano

– 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt

Method

– Use a mandolin, or a superb sharp knife (as I used here) to slice the vegetables very thinly.

– Mix the tomato puree with chopped red onion and garlic. Sprinkle salt over the sauce.

– Arrange the thinly sliced vegetables on top of the tomato sauce into a way that each can overlap each other and you still can see the color from each’s edge of the veggie. Start arrange from the outside edge of the shallow round pan and continuously toward the center.

– Sprinkle 1/4  tsp salt + oregano over the well arranged vegetables.

– Cover the veggie by a parchment paper.

– Bake at 375 F for 45 – 50 minutes. The veggie should be well cooked but still keep its shape.

Serve

  You can serve itself or top a dollop of goat cheese or swiss cheese if you feel your Ratatouille is so lonesome. My hubby suggests that Ratatouille be served with swiss cheese works best.

Marzipan Roses – Làm hoa hồng bằng bột hạnh nhân

IMG_5932

Marzipan is a combination of almond meal, powder sugar and egg white. The ratio of each almond and sugar should be 1:1 and the egg whites needed based on how soft of marzipan you like it. Marzipan can be used as fondant, such as for rolling or molding into your favorite shapes. Here are my roses made by marzipan. Just simply color the marzipan by food color paste.

Vanilla bean Charlotte cake

IMG_5754

IMG_5749

Charlotte cake is a perfect combination of rolled sponge cake and custard cream. You can make any variation if you do not like the traditional style.

I don’t underestimate this cake when saying that anyone can make it, given you give it a little patient. Well, tradition always makes every baked things completely excellent. As Rose Levy Beranbaum said “A beautiful cake usually gives you a good feeling”. I absolutely consent her saying. This Charlotte is adapted from “Cake Bible” of her.

Ingredients

For sponge cake (fit 17 x 12 inch jelly roll pan)

– 2 eggs, seperate egg yolks and egg whites

– 2 eggs + 1 yolk

– 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar (113g)

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1/3 cup + 3 tbsp (56g) cake flour

– 1/2 strawberry jam

– 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For syrup

– 3 tbsp sugar

– 1/8 cup hot water

– 1 tbsp brandy, or your favorite liqueur

For custard cream

– 1  cup heavy cream

– 1 1/3 cup whole milk

– 1 vanilla bean

– 5 egg yolks

– 1/3 cup sugar

– 1 tbsp brandy (or your favorite liqueur)

Method

Sponge cake

– Beat whole eggs and egg yolks, except 2 egg whites until very fluffy. It takes around 10 minutes

– Sift the flour and gently fold in the beaten egg in 3 times

– Beat the egg whites until they’re frothy then add cream of tartar. Beat at low speed. Gradually add 1 tbsp sugar and beat until stiff peak but not dry

– Fold 2 cups of egg mixture into the beaten egg whites until it’s smooth. Fold the egg white mixture back into the eggs and flour mixture again until two mixtures are smooth

– Grease the bottom of jelly roll pan. Add the mixture to the pan and spread it evenly.

– Bake at 400 F for 5-6 minutes.

– Cool the cake for 10 minutes then roll it gently. Let the cake cool down for 20 minutes then unroll. Spread 1/2 cup strawberry jam evenly. Roll the cake again and refrigerate the cake while making the custard cream

Custard cream

–  Combine gelatin, whole milk, egg yolks, sugar, liqueur and let it sit for 5 minutes.

– In small sauce pan, stir the custard mixture at low heat frequently until the custard is slightly thick and coat the flat spoon. Don’t bring it to a boil or you’ll get the lumps. The stirring can take 10-15 minutes.

– In an ice cold water bowl, stir the hot custard until it’s cool down at room temperature.

– Beat the heavy cream until it’s fluffy at medium speed. Stir in the custard until the heavy cream and the custard are smooth.

Assemble

– Place a wrapping plastic paper at the bottom of the 2 quart bowl.

– Cut the roll into 1/4 inch thick. Arrange them in the bowl. Making the syrup by combining 3 tbsp sugar + 1/8 cup water + 1 tbsp liqueur. Drizzle the syrup over the cake.

– Pour the custard cream in to the bowl and refrigerate the Charlotte for at least 6 hour before invert the cake.

Here’s the link guiding you to make this cake:

Cream cheese Mousse

IMG_5632

I know that mousse has lots of fat, but a portion of it is not so bad. Mousse is the one that costs me time most in eating among other cake, albeit making this is pretty simple. I like mousse with a base of genoise, though this indulgence costs me more time in the kitchen. It reduces the overwhelming of fat in your mouth after several spoons of mousse  if you eat the traditional mousse.

IMG_5644Ingredients ( 9 inch springform pan)

For the chocolate genoise

(adapted from Cake Bible)

– 4 eggs, separated

– 124 g sugar

– 32 g cake flour

– 5 oz bittersweet chocolate

For the cream cheese mousse

(adapted from Chocolately chocolate)

– 1 1/3 cup heavy cream

– 1/3 cup sugar

– 2 tbsp water

– 3 egg yolks

– 1 3/4 tsp gelatin

– 1 8 oz package cream cheese

Decorating

– Chocolate shavings

Method

Chocolate genoise

– Melt the chocolate by using a double boiler or microwave (20 seconds a time, stir and microwave again for 3 times)

– Beat the egg yolk with 2 tbsp sugar until it’s fluffy then add the melting chocolate. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

– In a clear bowl, beat the egg white with sugar until it’s glossy and soft peak. Note: start beating the egg white slowly with the medium speed until it’s frothy then increase the speed to the highest. Gradually add 1 tbsp sugar a time. Beat until the egg white reach triple its original volume and very glossy.

– Add 1/3 egg white into the chocolate mixture to light it. Then sift 1/3 flour and gently fold the mixture. Continue this step for 2 times more.

– Spray the baking oil onto the bottom of the springform pan, except its side. Pour the mixture into the pan.

– Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

– Wait 10 minutes after the cake is out from the oven. Remove it from the pan and let it cool completely before assembling with the cream cheese mousse.

Cream cheese mousse

– Microwave the cream cheese for 30 seconds until it’s warm (not cold).

– Sprinkle the gelatin into 2 tbsp water. Let it sit for 10 minutes then microwave 15 seconds.

– Stir the cream cheese with gelatin. Note: the cream cheese has to be warm enough for adding the gelatin liquid, otherwise, the gelatin couldn’t be dissolved and return to its crystal.

– Heat the sugar with 2 tbsp water until it reaches 234 F. Beat the egg yolks while gradually pouring into a thin stream of hot sugar syrup. Beat the egg mixture until it’s yellow pale and fluffy.

– Stir well the egg yolk mixture with the cream cheese mixture. Let it cool for 30 minutes.

– Beat the heavy cream with 1 tbsp sugar until it reaches the soft peak. Don’t over beat the heavy cream, otherwise it would be separated into butter and buttermilk.

– Pour in the cream cheese mixture with heavy cream. Gently fold until the mousse is smooth.

– Pour the cream cheese mousse onto the chocolate genoise. Keep refrigerate for at least 6 hours then serving with shaved chocolate.

Brioche

sarah's kitchen

French has a significant impact on Vietnamese bakery. This airy bread would require a have to be very patient baker. Baked things like brioche contain lots of butter, which is the cause of making yeast “freezed”. Well, that hassle really gives you the lightest airy bread ever. Enjoy brioche simply with a cup of cold milk. Even the leftover of brioche can yield a perfectly tasty bread pudding!

IMG_1506

Ingredients (for 2 loaves)

For the starter

– 1/3 cup half and half milk

– 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)

– 1 egg

– 1/2 cup bread flour + 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

For the dough

– 1/3 cup granulated sugar

– 4 eggs

– 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

– 1 stick + 4 tbsp of butter ( 12 tbsp)

– 1/2 tsp salt

Egg wash: 1 egg

Method

– Warm the milk + cream + 1 tsp sugar just until you can touch your finger in. Add the yeast and let it rest to foam for 15 minutes. If you can see the bubbles, your yeast is still working well.

– Add 1 cup of flour into the yeast liquid. Use one of your finger to mix. At this step, you just want the flour incorporate with the liquid roughly so it’s unnecessary to overmix it. Add the remaining half a cup of flour onto the starter and let it rest for 30-40 minutes.

– When you see your starter rising to triple its original size, add all the dough ingredients to the starter, except the butter. Be cautious, butter would “freeze” your yeast so always reminisce to add the fat ingredient to any bread recipe when all the dry ingredients are incorporated with the liquid ingredients.

– Mix the dough at the low speed of your stand mixer. Add slowly the room temperature butter, 2 tbsp at a time until all the butter incorporate with the dough.

– Let the shiny dough rest in your kitchen for 1 hour, then put it in the refrigerator overnight. This action would expand the sour flavor of the brioche

– Next morning, shape the dough into 2 bread pan and wait until they rise to double or even triple. It may need 2 – 3 hours to rise to perfect size before baking.

– Brush the brioche with egg wash. Don’t brush too much egg wash so that the bread can’t rise well in the oven.

– Bake in 15 minute preheated oven at 375 F for 25-30 minutes or until the brioche reaches the golden brown.