Summer Fruit Galette
Yes everyone, i'm back from my long winter hibernation break from TWD! not that i've been intentionally hiding or anything, but my trip to Australia has prevented me from revisiting my dearest book for the last 6 weeks. Now its time to return to weekly bakings with Dorie!
so first up, the summer fruit galette (pages 366-367) as chosen by Michelle from Michelle in Colorado Springs. With the liberty to throw in any fruits depending on the season, i decided to go with whatever i could most easily get my hands on.
and ta-da a sweet creation was born under the wraps of the cutest doughnut peaches I found from my local mart as well as mangosteens (queen of fruit) that i had purchased earlier from the wet market. It was a rather strange combination and did not appear to succeed in the colors department as well. But still, they were good, the peaches providing a subtle soft texture to the freshly baked pie and the mangosteens an explosion of sweetness hidden beneath the huge cuts of peaches.
I especially loved the pie pastry which to me was all buttery goodness. I swore i could have eaten it plain if the lovely fruit weren't there. In fact, while doing the mandatory taste test, I was digging out all the fruit first, praying that the crust hadn't softened from the juices exuding out of the stewed fruits, leaving the crisp pie pastry to the last to savor. Absolutely delicious..
The Black and White Banana Loaf on page 232.
For August 12, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity chose:
Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream on page 434.*
this is an add on to the last TWD posting. Apparently, it has come to my attention that many do not know what mangosteens are! my gosh.. hence here is a simple introduction to the 'queen of fruits'
mangosteens with purplish rind and white pulp.
An ultra-tropical tree, the mangosteen must be grown in consistently warm conditions, as exposure to temperatures below 40°F (4°C) will generally kill a mature plant.
Due to ongoing restrictions on imports, mangosteen is not commonly available to the public. Following export from its natural growing regions in Southeast Asia, the fresh fruit is available seasonally in some local markets like those of Chinatowns and rarely in produce sections of grocery stores in North America and Europe. Mangosteen and its related products, such as juices and nutritional supplements, are legally imported into the United States which had an import ban until 2007.
Mangosteen is typically advertised and marketed as part of an emerging category of novel functional foods sometimes called "superfruits" presumed to have a combination of 1) appealing subjective characteristics, such as taste, fragrance and visual qualities, 2) nutrient richness, 3) antioxidant strength and 4) potential impact for lowering risk against human diseases.
so there you go.. some brain juice amd facts about the humble fruit. If you reside in a western country then it would be rather hard to get your hands on one of this exotic fruits. But do pls try if you see one. You won't regret it!
dear blog readers,
I've finally reached the end of the road with my line of photographs showcasing the beautiful and glorious lands of Australia. I've been procrastinating, wanting to push back the last post till a later date; only because the task of reviewing the photos and writing the posts have been a chance for me to re-live the experience that I had down under. To tell the truth, though my heart longed to be back here in Singapore whilst i was away, I knew deep down inside that a part of me will always be in the foreign land. Not to sound melodramatic or anything, but I guess my 5 week trip had paid a huge contribution to the upheaval of my dreadfully heavy spirits. It was a place where i could put my frantic heart at ease, a place where i could slow down my pace to one where i could genuinely bask in the task of being comfortable in my own skin. I miss Australia, and wish that someday, somehow, my footsteps would lead there once more.
So to the land of smiles, I bid a final farewell. Lead my heart and turn my head towards the remaining journey that I have yet to complete here in Singapore. Focus.. no more will i sit amongst the dark clouds of my self loathing.
and here i present to you my final post.
The 2nd last week of my stay in Australia (spent the last week in church camp set in the blue mountains - merroo christian campsite- with the sydney bp members) took me and Cheryl to the ever so popular blue mountains. Being ever so reluctant to embark on the trip because of the mediocre remarks about the national park, I was motivated by the comments that a visit to the blue mountains as is crucial as a visit to Sentosa if you were to come to Singapore. oh well...
so there it is, in all its majestic glory. Speaking of which, have u ever wonder why the blue mountains are 'blue'? The name derives from the bluish tinge the range takes on when viewed at a distance, which is caused by a process known as Mie Scattering. Mie Scattering occurs when incoming uv radiation is scattered by particles within the atmosphere. When Mie Scattering occurs incoming radiation lengths mix as no wave length is predominant over another (unlike Rayleigh Scattering where shortwave length radiation is predominant during the day and long at sunset, hence blue skies and red sunsets) creating a blue-greyish colour to any distant objects (such as mountain ranges or even clouds). It is widely believed that the blue colouring of the mountains is created by light reflecting of eucalypt leaves and although this is a romantic idea, unfortunately it is just folklore [explanation taken from wikipedia]
so now you know!
frankly, i was bored to the core by the blue mountains. Sure it did offer spectacular views, but in my life, I've seen better. and seriously, the blueish tinge was seeping into my brains, it was just everywhere. Made me doubt that my eyes were actually functioning properly.
With that said, we took our mandatory breaks and tourist stops to snap some pictures and off we went to Jenolan Caves which was a 1 and 1/2 hour drive from Katoomba. One of the most insane drives i ever embarked on as the roads were windy and driving on them was such a strenous thing considering that we were both exhausted from the previous days travel (southern coastal drive).
Finally we reached, just in time to join in the final cave tour to the Temple of Baal.
Apparently, I had visited the caves when i was much younger and in my faint memory, i remember seeing the skull of this poor unknown creature that had lost its way in the caves only to claim its fate there as well. Guess what? Upon my visit to the caves this time round, I saw the same thing, only that the skeleton was excavated out from the floor and put in a glass case. How cool is that?!
Despite the tortorous drive back to the city after sunset, i must say that the Jenolan caves are a MUST visit for any travellers going to the blue mountains.
After reaching the city, Cheryl and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner before calling it a day. The next 2 days we had planned to rot around in the city just visiting a few spots around town.
First stop, the Sydney FIsh market! to sample some of the freshest seafood and raw oysters!!!
Then we took a walk around the Bondi Beach market and got our hands on a few fabulous buys before heading for an early dinner and soon it was time to pack up for church camp!
a pre-warning just in case you guys have any pre-conceptions of biscotti after this post. THIS BISCOTTI IS ONE HELL OF AN UGLY VERSION! remember what they say, never judge a book by its cover. In this instant, this book has a cover that says medieval history: knights and dragons (no offence to people out there who are interested in this kinda stuff) but then inside, it offers a wonderful read.
I have never tried my hands at baking biscotti before though i've savoured some in the past. Inspired by several images that i came across on my frequent reads, i decided to stick to the plan of trial and error before the holidays ended. Hence, i got down and dirtyyyy...
Once the son of a gun came out of the oven, my ego was deflated. Despite its less than pleasant looks, but it still does taste good and scored full marks in the smell department. the smell of baked chocolate and fresh nuts wafting thru the halls. hehe. double chocolate and my favourite pistachio nuts.. doubly whammy combo! the crisp texture of the cookie satisfied my afternoon munchies to the max! so do try this recipe out, its worth it..though i reckon u'll have to do a much better job at slicing the cookies if you want to improve in the looks department.
Chocolate and Pistachio Biscotti
adapted from Martha Stewert's 'Cookies'
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup pistachios
1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated.
- Add flour mixture gradually and mix until combined.
- Add the pistachios and chocolate and mix with a wooden spoon.
- Wet your hands (the dough is quite sticky) and turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- Place them onto the baking trays and flatten them slightly.
- Bake the logs, rotating trays half way through for 25 minutes. Transfer the logs onto a cutting board and let cool for 20-30 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees celsius. Cut the logs crosswise to half an inch thick slices. Place on a wire rack cut side down and bake for 10 minutes.
To satisfy our sweet tooths, we took a leisurely stroll down to darling harbor to get our hands on some premier chocolate! finally! the Lindt Chocolate Cafe! I had to have their Dark Hot chocolate! The girls had their ice-creams and Kor asked for an Opera Cake. We took the liberty to get candles from the staff (pretty gold and silver candles!!!) and pulled a surprise on him. hehe. After a quick birthday song and some wishes, we were soon chomping away happily on our chocolate goodies.
The Opera cake was gorgeous. With each and every layer expertly flavored and pulling so much character. It was presumably the best opera i've ever eaten. So much for two best... foods i've eaten today. My stomach had no complaints.
The dark hot chocolate was delicious! but i reckon the milk could have been a bit warmer. Perhaps the cold temperatures around just made the drinking experience deprove a little since it made the chocolate and milk cool at such rapid temperatures that one couldn't sip at it appreciatively. *sigh*
Still, it was a good day... following a sucession of good days with many more to come.
A Color theme for Cupcake Hero. I expected it to be a little easier as it would only mean having to gather ingredients of the different colors and putting them together. Right?
But upon careful inspection i noticed that BLUE was listed as one of the compulsory colors. We're talking about independence day over here guys. Arghs... If only i could omit that one, then we could shift to patriotism for my country instead ( f.y.i i come from Singapore). So that got me thinking.. blue..what in the world is blue?!?! blueberries (which technically are purple), blue cheese? argh..tt would taste terrible in a cupcake. haha. well, lets just say in the end i cheated a little. *sniggers*
my final product uses this...as my base ingredient.
and tada.. presenting you my glorious concoction of tomato soup cupcake blah blah blah (you can read the description from the picture below)
So that's red for the tomato soup cake, white for the white chocolate centre, sprinkle of sea salt flakes and milk pocky sticks and finally blue for the blue tinted pandan coconut tainted cream cheese frosting! Done deal!
the tomato soup cupcake surprisingly didn't taste much of the condensed tomato soup yet it held the smell of the sour base rather well. Aside from that the cakes produced were ridicously moist, probably due to the tomatos added. A recipe worth trying out if you're feeling adventorous. (recipe follows)
Tomato Soup Cupcakes
makes 10 regular cupcakes
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- half a can of Campbell Condensed Tomato Soup (155g)
- 60g softened butter (unsalted)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 1/8 cup water
- A bar of white chocolate ( i use Cadbury's Dream)
- Preheat the Oven to 180 degrees celsius
- Mix the butter and sugar together till fluffy and light
- sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and add it into the butter mixture
- Add the egg, water and tomato soup to the mixture.
- Blend till smooth
- Divide batter into cupcake holders and push in a cube of white chocolate into the middle of every cupcake.
- Bake for 22 mins or till cakes are golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool on rack for 5 mins.
Hope that the others have just as much fun playing around this time round! looking forward to next month's theme!!!
Okay..so i do exaggerate a little, but seriously, I haven't had much luck with the doughs. First the failed attempt at pecan honey sticky buns. And now, a seemingly dead end to project Brioche. Well, as the saying goes, in order to win a battle, one has to first proceed to knowing the enemy. Hence my investigation on the mysterious ways of this little demon.
So is Yeast actually a living organism?
you must be leaving in a cave to not know the answer to this question. YES of course yeast is a living organism. In fact Yeast are a growth form of eukaryotic microorganisms classified in the kingdom fungi. It reproduces aseuxually by budding. In baking, the yeast species Saccharomyces Cerevisiae is used.
How does yeast cause the bread dough to poof up?
well, i reckon I must have sleeping my Junior College Biology classes away as apparently, we have already learnt this back then. But returning back to the main point, Yeast convert fermentable sugars present in the dough into carbon dioxide thru aerobic cellular respiration. This causes dough to expand or rise as pockets of air are formed. When baked, this pockets are set leading to a soft and spongy texture. The use of potatoes, eggs or sugar in a bread dough accelerates the growth of yeasts. Salt, fats and butter slow down yeast growth. And as yeast will grow over a temperature range of 10-37 degrees celsius with optimal activity at about 30 degrees. the Bread dough is often left to rise in warm conditions during the first stage.
to be sure that my yeast wasn't expired... i even tested the yeast in a warm mixture of water and sugar. *tick tock tick tock*... FOAMING! hmph..so that eliminates the possibility that the yeast i'm using is long dead. So what the heck could be the problem?
my patience is wearing thin...
Still the investigation of the bread dough continues...stay tuned.
a major thanks going out to Cafe Fernando for the photos. it literally makes me hot-headed just staring at the perfect results. *sobz*
after my long trip to Aussie Land, seems as though I've acquired a taste for laziness and just walking over to the nearest cafe to satisfy my cravings. In my bid to get in the swing of things, I decided that I had to start baking again. and first up on the list, Brioche! *ching ching*.. my foul enemy, we meet again...
the end result is sweet though i still reckon the dough to be of a cake like consistency after freezing overnight. But oh well, at least it managed its best to poof up to double the volume after a mere 1 hour at 80 degree farenheit. *cheers*.. now if only i could make it actually look like a brioche. you know, snowman structure with a little round head on top? *bah*.. (chomping on the brioche scone style with butter and strawberry jam)...
Next baking expedition: Cupcake Hero: Red, Blue and White