Monthly Archives: November 2009

igirisupan (english bread, イギリスパン)

igirisupan means english bread in japanese, but it’s a bread that can’t in fact be found in a traditional english bakery.  i’m told that english bread is so called because the shape resembles that of a bowler hat.  in terms of taste, the texture of the bread is similar to the double soft white bread i made a few months back, but a bit more rustic with a crunchier crust and  less sweet.  it’s a great bread for toast or making tea sandwiches.

(makes 1 loaf about 9 inches in length)

Bread Flour 160g
AP Flour 240g
Active Dry Yeast 4g
Sugar 20g
Salt 8g
Nonfat Dry Milk Powder 8g
Egg 1 large one
Shortening 20g
Fresh Milk 300g
  1. Microwave milk for about 1 minute until it is warm to the touch.
  2. Dissolve yeast into the milk and add 1 tbsp of sugar (you can take it from the 20g that you had measured out).  Let stand until foam forms on top. About 15 minutes.
  3. Mix together remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I use the dough hook on my stand mixer set to a low to medium speed.
  4. When the yeast mixture (from step 2) is ready, add it in with the other ingredients and mix on medium speed until the dough forms and begins to peel away from the sides of the bowl.  Depending on the humidity, you may not need all the water.  I had about 50ml left over that I did not use.  Around 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled.  About 1-2 hours.
  6. De-gas the dough. Then, divide it  into 3 portions.  Form each portion into a ball, then cover with a towel, set aside and let rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and form each piece into a ball. It helps to use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour. Place the 3 pieces of dough next to each other into a 5 x 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. (I didn’t have a 9 inch loaf pan and used a 12 inch pan.  The resulting bread has a lot less height than the traditional igirisupan should have.)
  8. Cover with a towel and let rise until the dough has puffed up to cover 2/3 of the loaf pan. Took me around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  9. (optional) Brush with egg wash.  I left mine unadorned.
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees

a visit to la pâtisserie des rêves

early on a sunday morning, my husband and i hopped onto the number 12 metro in the direction of mairie d’issy and emerged a few moments later out of the rue du bac stop.  starting at about 2 blocks proximity from the shop, we started to observe a hurried retinue of pastry devotees scuttling by us with bright pink bags in hand.  the parisian obsession with pastries never ceases to amaze me.  in a city where most stores (including supermarkets) remain staunchly closed on sunday as a matter of national culture, pastry shops of all sorts are almost always open.  perhaps parisians dream of pastries at night and must then hurry out to satiate those nocturnal cravings first thing in the morning.  not a bad life!  after making a few turns and ambling down mostly quiet residential streets, we too found ourselves in front of the source of all those pink bags:  philippe conticini’s la pâtisserie des rêves, or the pastry shop of dreams.

the center of the shop features immaculately constructed gâteaux displayed on a 6 foot round silver table with each creation covered in a glass dome.  surreal to say the least — almost as if one had stumbled upon an alien mother ship about to abduct the pastries for an intergalactic exploration.  after paying the gâteaux due respect, we moved onto the viennoiseries. we giddily picked three to taste: (1) a hazelnut financier, (2) a lemon madeleine, and a (3) chausson aux pommes. there were some others like the brioche feuilletée that looked quite amazing but prudence got the better of us.  the financier oozed with hazelnut flavour in every bite.  in terms of flavour, the madeleine was really quite pedestrian but the sheer size of the treat is remarkable.  i don’t know if you can tell from the pictures above, but the mutant madeleine was larger than my hand (probably had been exposed to gamma radiation on its way back to earth); if i had to gander, it probably measured 5 to 6 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide with a 3 inch hump on its back. the chausson aux pommes was our favorite.  it tasted like the flakiest croissant stuffed with the perfect apple compote.

we’ll have to go back on another trip to taste the other lovely desserts in the shop.  as a side note, we did not see any macarons at la pâtisserie des rêves.  maybe conticini hasn’t dreamed of them yet?

La Pâtisserie des Rêves
93 Rue Du Bac
75007 Paris
Sundays: 8am to 2pm
Tuesdays – Saturdays: 10am to 8.30pm
Closed Mondays

and we’re off!

to paris again.  that’s me driving the dump truck in the background.  i’m absconding with all the macarons of paris.
see ya next week!

red velvet roll cake

tested out flo’s red velvet roll cake recipe over the weekend.  i’ve never seen a red velvet cake made into a roll before.  am rather curious why roll cakes haven’t caught on in all those homey NYC bakeries.  they seem to be easier to make, slice and store than layer cakes. i guess roll cakes just haven’t hit the americana big leagues yet?

the cake turned out to be smooth and tender.  i tweaked the filling a bit, swapping out the white chocolate for a bit extra cream cheese.  the raspberries are a must; they are surprising and add a pleasant fruity note to the cake.

some baking notes for next time…would definitely recommend:

(1) letting the cream cheese come to room temperature before spreading it onto the cake, if you’re making the filling in advance.  if the cream cheese filling is too hard, it doesn’t spread easily and will tear into the surface layer of the cake and get mixed up with the white cream filling.

(2) using fresh raspberries rather than frozen.

jackfruit cream tart


my friend g is coming over to cook a malaysian smorgasbord of sambals and curries, and after playing around with making passion fruit curd, i thought i’d attempt to make a dessert that complemented those southeast asian flavours.  i settled on making a jackfruit curd tart. well, to be precise, it’s actually a jackfruit lemon cream tart.  i based the jackfruit lemon cream on pierre herme’s recipe for lemon cream from his book Desserts by Pierre Herme.  he explains in the preamble to the recipe that lemon cream is made with the same ingredients as lemon curd; however, the cream’s silky texture and true lemon flavour is achieved by cooling the cream before adding the butter, and “then giving the cream a high-speed finish in a blender.” and indeed, the resulting jackfruit lemon cream turns out to be quite thick and tangy without the richness of butter typically found in a curd.

i also whipped up a quick transparent glaze with which to top the lemon cream.  yes, it’s the transparent glaze that gives those tarts you see in french pastry stores that high gloss sheen. the glaze itself is easy to make and can be made ahead, but it does require one to mail order the key ingredient — oetker clear glaze, if you live in the US.  oetker’s clear glaze is a powder that comes in a small blue packet.  german in origins, it can be easily found in most german supermarkets.

The recipe for the jackfruit lemon cream and transparent glaze are below.  To assemble into the tart, blind bake a tart shell at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, using about 1/3 portion of the pate sucree recipe, and allow it to cool.  Pour about 2/3 of the the cooled jackfruit cream into the tart shell and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.  Then, pour the cooled transparent glaze on top of the jackfruit cream, spreading it carefully with the offset spatula.  Be sure not to mix the glaze and cream together.  The glaze should rest just on top of the cream, giving it a glossy finish. I made some heart shaped cookies out of the excess pate sucree dough that i had left over, and set the cookies on top of the glaze.

Jackfruit Lemon Cream
(makes enough to fill a 9-inch tart with a bit left over for toast, crepe filling, parfait layers or pairing with chocolate mousse)

Sugar 1 cup
Jackfruit 3 bulbs, pitted (I buy canned jackfruit.  There are about 7-8 bulbs per a can)
Lemon zest From 2 lemons
Eggs 4 large ones
Lemon juice From 2 lemons
Butter 2 ½ sticks, cubed
  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the jackfruit until it becomes a puree.
  2. Rub together the sugar, lemon zest and jackfruit puree in the bowl of your stand mixer until the sugar reaches the consistency of wet sand.
  3. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice until everything is well combined.
  4. Place the bowl above a saucepan with simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Stir continuously with a whisk until the cream thickens (it should reach 180°F at this stage if you’re using a thermometer). If you’re not using a thermometer, you will know the cream is ready when it leaves a coating on the back of a wooden spoon.   It could take up to 10 minutes, depending on the level of heat in your saucepan.
  6. Remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender or food processor.  Let the cream cool to 140°F, stirring it occasionally or pulsing intermittently.
  7. When the cream has cooled to 140°F, add in the butter about five pieces at a time.
  8. Continue to blend the cream for another 3-4 minutes after the butter has been completely incorporated.  This will ensure a light and perfectly smooth cream.

Transparent Glaze
(enough for ~1 nine-inch tart; adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme)

Sugar ½ cup
Oetker Clear Glaze 1 package (I mail-ordered mine from
Water 1 ¼ cups
Lemon Peel From ½ lemon,
Orange Peel From ½ orange
Vanilla ½ tsp OR ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Mint leaves 5 fresh leaves
  1. Mix together the sugar and glaze in a small bowl and set aside
  2. In a saucepan, heat the water, citrus peels and vanilla bean (if using) until just warm.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar/glaze mixture while stirring constantly.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and bring the mixture to a boil.  Allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes over heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil again.
  6. Remove from heat and add in the fresh mint or vanilla extract (if not using vanilla bean).  Allow the mixture to infuse for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Strain the glaze into a container and let it cool to room temperature.
  8. The glaze can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.  If it has set into a jello-like consistency, liquefy it by heating it in the microwave at low power for a few seconds.  The glaze should not be heated above 104°F.

flo’s pull-apart lemon coffee cake, sort of


the more i make items listed as coffee cakes in flo braker’s book, the more i wonder about what constitutes a coffee cake? like the coconut twist coffee cake i experimented with a few days earlier, this item came out rather more like a sweet bread than a traditional cake.   over at wikipedia, the entry reads that coffee cake is a cake served with coffee or eaten as dessert.  at wordnetweb, the definition has been expanded to include any cake or sweet bread that is served with coffee. there’s no mention of coffee cake needing to have that crumbly crust or that kind of rustic and dense cake layer, often times kind of dry but pairing perfectly with coffee.  i guess it’s really any sort of carb that is enhanced with a good cup of steaming hot coffee.

without further ado, here’s the skinny on flo’s cake with my adaptations and all. (and yes, as the name suggests, it indeed pulls apart into citrusy  layers — a sunny pick me up for those autumn blahs)

Pull-Apart Lemon Zest Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions. Note: i skipped the glaze in her recipe and cut back on some of the sugar.  I also changed some steps around as well to simplify the process. But hey, you gotta do what works for ya, right?)

Ingredients for the Dough:

Flour 350g
Sugar 50g
Active Yeast 2 ¼ tsp
Salt ½ tsp
Milk 75 ml
Butter 55g
Water 60 ml
Vanilla Extract 2 tsp
Eggs 2 large ones

Ingredients for the Lemon Paste Filling

Sugar 70g
Lemon Zest From 3 lemons
Orange Zest From 1 orange
Butter ½ stick, melted
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter has melted.
  3. Remove from heat and add in the water.
  4. While you are waiting for the liquid to cool down a bit, add the eggs one at a time into the flour mixture.  Combine using the paddle attachment on low speed until well incorporated.
  5. When the liquid mixture feels just warm to the touch, add in the vanilla extract.
  6. With the mixer set a low speed,  slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl.  Do not pour it in all at once.  You may not need all of the liquid. You are looking for a dough that is soft and only slightly sticky.
  7. After the liquid has been added, you may find it easier to change to the dough hook set to a medium speed.  Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook until it becomes smooth and no longer sticky.
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic and let is rise until it has doubled in size.  About 1 hour.  The dough is ready when an indentation made with your fingertip remains.
  9. Make the filling while you’re waiting for the dough to rise.  In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and zests with your hands until the a sandy-wet mixture is achieved.  You should also be able to smell the citrus aromas.
  10. When the dough is ready, roll it out into a 20×12 inch rectangle.  It helps to work on a well floured surface or to roll the dough over parchment paper.  I chose to do the latter as it makes for a much easier clean-up.
  11. Then, cut the dough into 5 equal strips that are 12 x 4 inches large.
  12. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter over one of the strips and sprinkle the sugar zest over the butter.  Stack another strip on top and repeat with the butter and sugar zest, until all the strips are stack on top of each other.
  13. Next, cut the stacked strips into 6 equal pieces that are 2 x 4 inches large.
  14. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inches loaf pan.  It also helps to place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan.
  15. Arrange the 6 pieces of dough in the loaf pan.  They should be placed so that you can see the lemon zest and dough layers from the top.
  16. Loosely cover the pan and let the dough rise until it has doubled.  About 1 hour at room temp or 30 minutes with your oven set to the proofing function.
  17. Bake at 350ºF fro 30 minutes.
  18. Let the coffee cake rest for 10 minutes before flipping it out of the pan. Be careful when taking it out.  The cake really does pull apart or fall apart, if you do so too abruptly.
  19. Flo recommends topping the coffee cake with a tangy cream cheese icing.

k’s chocolate cupcake surprise


for k’s birthday, i put together some chocolate cupcakes.  the cakes were yogurt based (see pandan cake recipe and substitute 80g of chocolate melted in 20g of strong coffee for the pandan essence).  i hollowed out the middle and filled them with passion fruit curd.  my friend d, self-professed cupcake connoisseur, has made a very good suggestion that dulce de leche might make a better accompaniment than passion fruit curd.  i think i agree.  i topped the cupcakes with a chocolate italian meringue buttercream and an inkblot cookie for some *pizzazz* (now there’s a word i haven’t heard since the 80s)!

in cooking school, we learned to make two types of buttercream. one was french and the other an italian. the french buttercream contained a lot of butter and it tasted quite rich and thick.  the italian meringue contained less butter but quite a lot of sugar.  way too sweet for me.  i discovered, however, that if i cut down the sugar content in the recipe by about 60g, i could reduce the sweetness while still maintaining the structure (you really do need sugar to set the structure of the meringue).  the italian meringue buttercream is also more stable than the french meringue.

that said, i should point out that both buttercreams are a lot silkier in texture and utilize A LOT less butter and sugar than american buttercream, which is just confectioners sugar blended in with butter.

Italian Meringue Buttercream
(enough to generously frost 18 cupcakes)

Egg Whites 150g (~5 egg whites)
Sugar 315g, divided into 75g and 240g portions
Water 130ml
Butter 450g (4 sticks, cubed)
Dark Chocolate 6oz (melted either in the microwave or over a water bath)
  1. Prepare a French meringue.  To do so, start beating the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer.  (You can add a dash of cream of tartar for extra stabilisation).When the egg whites start to foam, add in 75g of sugar. The egg whites should start to become very shiny and form soft peaks.
  2. While you are preparing the French meringue, combine 240g of sugar with 130ml of water in a saucepan. Heat the sugar until it reaches the soft-ball stage.  Do not stir the sugar while it cooks, otherwise little crystals will form.  Sugar will reach the soft-ball stage when it reaches 235º-240ºF.  If you don’t have a thermometer, set a small bowl of iced water next to your saucepan and spoon small amount of the sugar mixture in to the ice water.  When it has reached the soft-ball stage, the melted sugar will immediately turn into something that feels like melted gelatin or jelly fish when it hits the water.
  3. Take the sugar off the heat and pour it into the french meringue while the mixer continues to whip the meringue.  To do so, carefully pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl.  Do not pour it onto the whisk, as it may splatter.
  4. Continue to beat the meringue and sugar mixture until it has cooled.  (This will take a good 10-15 minutes.) The mixing bowl should be warm but no longer hot to the touch.
  5. Add in the butter a little bit at a time until it has fully incorporated.
  6. When the butter has been incorporated, the buttercream will look extremely runny at first.  Have some faith. Continue to whip the buttercream and it will thicken into something that is spreadable (and resembles soft ice cream!). In my case, I piped the buttercream on top of the cupcakes.
  7. Add in the melted chocolate and continue to whip until it is evenly incorporated.
  8. The buttercream can be stored in a refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for a month (though once defrosted, you should beat it for a few minutes until the consistency returns).