Monthly Archives: May 2010

roast pork stuffed pineapple topping bun (菠萝叉烧包)

ever since g got back from hong kong, he’s been furiously looking for a hong kong style pineapple bun stuffed with roast pork. roast pork buns or plain pineapple buns are common in nyc chinese bakeries; it’s a bit like walking into mcdonald’s and asking for french fries. but apparently, the combination of the two is rather rare.  one of g’s friends even suggested that he buy a roast pork bun and a pineapple bun separately, and then cut off the top of the pineapple bun and eat it together with the roast pork bun.

i thought i could help g out and learn a new recipe in the process. . . i didn’t do everything perfect (made an error in the pineapple bun topping) but they still tasted pretty good and hey, it’s not bad for a first trial!

[note: chinese pineapple buns don’t utilize pineapple as an ingredient.  they are so named for the topping’s resemblance to the fruit]

Roast Pork Stuffed Pineapple Topping Bun (菠萝叉烧包
(makes about 15-18 buns)

Alex Goh’s Sweet Bread Dough 1 recipe (note you need to make part of this in advance)
Roast Pork Filling
(adapted from Eileen Yin Fei Lo’s The Chinese Kitchen)
BBQ Roast Pork 2 cups, chopped into ¼ inch cubes.  About ¾ lb.  I’ve made this from scratch in the past but opted to purchase from a restaurant in Chinatown this time.
Canola Oil 2 tbsp
Onions 1 cup, finely diced
Chinese Rice Wine 3 tsp
Sesame Oil 1 tsp
Oyster Sauce 2 tbsp
Soy Sauce 3 tsp
Ketchup 4 tsp
Sugar 4 tsp
Tapioca Flour 4 tsp
Pepper 1 tsp
Chicken stock 1/3 cup
Japanese Style Pineapple Bun Topping
Bread Flour 225g
Eggs 2 large eggs
Butter 1 stick (~110g) at room temp

To make the roast pork filling:

  1. Mix together all ingredients under “sauce” and set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Heat up canola oil in a skillet.  Add onions and saute over high heat until it just starts to brown.
  3. Add in roast pork and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add in rice wine, followed by the “sauce.”  Stir the mixture until the sauce thickens and turns brown (about 2 minutes)
  5. Drizzle in sesame oil, mix well and transfer to a bowl.
  6. Cool to room temperature, the refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To make the pineapple topping:  [I opted for the japanese style pineapple topping which doesn’t have any sugar. might try the hong kong style next time].

  1. Cream butter in standmixer until pale and creamy.
  2. Add in eggs and continue to mix well.  It will look a bit curdled.
  3. Finally add in flour and mix on lowest speed until well-combined.  Do not overmix.
  4. Can be made in advance and stored in refrigerator well wrapped.  Best if brought to room temperature before use.

To assemble:

  1. Divide Sweet Bread Dough into 50g pieces and roll into a round ball.
  2. Flatten the ball with your hands or a rolling pin.  Try to make the sides of the dough thinner than the middle.
  3. Place about a tablespoon or so scoop of roast pork filling and place it in the center of the disc.  Use your fingers to cup and pinch the dough around the filling until the filling is completely covered.  [This takes some practice.  Mine looked horribly ugly on my first attempt.]
  4. Place the filled bun, seam side up,  on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all buns are filled.
  5. Then, divide the pineapple topping dough into equal pieces.  Roll into a ball and flatten into a disc.  Place the pineapple topping disc on top of the filled bun. It should completely cover the bun [unlike what i did in the picture, i left a lot of space, thinking that the topping might melt a bit in the oven], then gently draw a grid on the topping with a paring knife.
  6. Proof for 50 minutes in your oven set at proofing temperature.  Bread will have roughly doubled in size.
  7. Brush with egg wash [i didn’t put nearly enough on the pineapple topping] and bake at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes.


ciao bella recipe book

yay, it’s here! the ciao bella cook book is a treasure trove of recipes for making your own gelato and sorbets at home.  the book has got most of the key flavors that ciao bella manufactures.  as i flipped through the book, i mentally checked off all the flavors that i’d be re-creating at home: coffee, mocha chip, espresso, fig & port, strawberry, peach, creme fraiche, red bean, green tea, mexican coffee, greek yogurt, and the list goes on and on!

the other day, i experimented with making blood orange sorbet.  turns out, after doing the math in my head, that the ciao bella version has got 1/6th of a cup more sugar, which translates into 130 more calories, than my version.   they also add orange zest into their sorbet mix, and they dissolve their sugar in water first, making a simple syrup and then adding that to the blood orange juice.

their recipe in really simple terms is to first make the simple syrup by  dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of simmering water.  allow the simple syrup to cool and then add to 3 cups of blood orange juice and 1 tbsp of blood orange zest.   pour the liquid into your gelato maker and follow the machine’s instructions.  wah lah! couldn’t be simpler!

vanilla bundt cake with coffee whip cream

bundt cakes are hearty and easy to whip up, but sometimes, i find them a bit boring and a bit dense.  i feel like they need something to add levity and interest.  a few months back, K sent me a link to a bundt cake company on the west coast.  i can’t quite recall the name of the company now, but they were doing some really interesting things with bundt cakes, like frosting them all over such that they looked like little jewels or separating them into tiers and filling layers with frosting in between.

i made a mental note to test out a tiered version of the bundt cake at home.  finally got around to doing so last week, and i’m glad i did, as it turned out to be a cinch to whip up and delicious to boot.

Vanilla Bundt Cake with Coffee Whip Cream
(adapted and slightly modified* from Dorie Greenspan’s Banana Bundt Cake Recipe)

Flour 3 cups
Baking Soda 2 tsp
Salt ½ tsp
Butter 2 sticks (½ lb), cubed at room temperature
Sugar 1 3/4 cups
Vanilla Bean 1 whole bean (for a stronger vanilla taste, you can add 2 tsp of vanilla extract in addition)
Eggs 2 large ones
Sour Cream 1  1/4 cup (can substitute with crème fraiche or yogurt)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 inch Bundt cake pan.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy on high speed.
  5. Lower the speed to medium and add in sugar and whip until light and fluffy.
  6. Split vanilla bean with a sharp knife, scrape out vanilla seeds and drop into butter-sugar batter.
  7. Add in eggs  — one at a time — beating after each addition for about 1 minute.
  8. Turn down the mixer to the lowest speed and add in sour cream and mix until well combined.
  9. Finally, add in the dry ingredients in two parts.  Mix until the flour is incorporated into the mixture.  The batter will be fairly thick.
  10. Pour the batter into the bundt pan.  Use a rubber spatula to spread the top of the batter around evenly.
  11. Bake at 65 to 75 minutes, or until the internal temperature measures at least 170ºF when you take it out of the oven.
  12. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before unmolding it to cool on a rack. [It should be at a temperature where you can comfortably pick up the cake with your bare hands to unmold it].
  13. To make the coffee whip cream, add 1 tbsp of instant coffee powder to half a stabilized whip cream recipe.  The instant coffee powder should be added at step 2 of the recipe.
  14. When the cake has completely cooled, slice it into 3-tiers and generously spread the whip cream between layers.

a fresh mango cake

the champagne mangos from mexico have been really quite delicious of late — so good, in fact, that i bought a box of 20 from the street vendor the other day.  i needed to clear space in my refrigerator, and so i sliced some up to make a fresh mango cake resplendent with whipped cream and crushed pistachios for contrasting texture.

take me away to the south pacific, dear cake, take me away!

Fresh Mango Cake
(makes 1 nine-inch 2 layer round cake)

Perfect Party Cake (from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: from My Home to Yours)
Cake Flour 2 ¼ cups
Baking powder 1 tbsp
Salt ½ tsp
Whole Milk or Buttermilk 1 ¼ cups
Egg whites From 4 large eggs
Sugar 1 ½ cups
Grated lemon zest 2 tsp
Butter 1 stick @ room temperature
Lemon extract ½ tsp
Stabilized Whipped Cream
Heavy Cream 600g
Gelatin Leaves 3 leaves (the ones that are 8-9 inches long)
Powdered Sugar 125g
Alcohol 1 tbsp (I used a pear infused brandy)
Filling & Toppings
Fresh Champagne Mangoes 4 peeled and thinly sliced
Crushed and peeled pistachios 1/3 cup

for the cake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.  Butter 2 nine-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter the paper as well.  Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.  Whisk together egg whites and milk in a separate bowl.  Set aside both.
  3. Add sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Combine on low speed with paddle attachment.  [You can also do this with your hands, so as to release the fragrance of the lemon zest]
  4. Add in butter and whip on medium high speed until butter and sugar are light and fluffy.  About 2-3 minutes.
  5. Turn speed down to lowest setting.  Pour in lemon extract,  then add flour mixture and egg white/milk mixture in three parts.   Mix until just evenly combined but do not overmix.
  6. Transfer the cake batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a rack completely before assembling.

for the stabilized whipped cream:

  1. Soak gelatin leaves in cold water.
  2. Add heavy cream into the bowl of your standmixer with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until soft peaks just begin to form (1-2 minutes).  Turn mixer down to lowest speed.
  3. Remove gelatin leaves from cold water.  Put the leaves in a heat proof pan and set over a water bath until the leaves have just dissolved.  About 1 minute.  Do not over-heat as the gelatin leaves will smell like fish if over-dissolved.
  4. Splash a bit of alcohol into the gelatin to thin it out a bit.
  5. Quickly the gelatin into the whipped cream and continue to whip.  Then add in powdered sugar.  Whip until stiff peaks form.

to assemble the cake:

  1. Shave off the tops of the cakes until the tops are fairly flat.
  2. Brush a bit of simple syrup on the interior edges of the cake to help stabilize the cake’s structure
  3. Spread a generous amount of whipped cream about 1/4 inch thick onto the first layer of cake.  Place fresh cut mangoes on top of the whipped cream, leaving a 1/4 inch border from the edge.  Reserve a few of the nicer mango slices for the topping. Then spread more whipped cream on top of the mangoes to lightly cover.
  4. Place 2nd layer of cake on top.
  5. Cover the rest of the cake with whipped cream.
  6. Place mango slices to cover the top of the cake.
  7. Finally, gently apply crushed pistachios to the sides of the cake until completely covered.

blood orange sorbet

the ice cream aisle at my local whole foods can be deceiving.  it seems like it’s stocked up with a plenitude of flavors, but i’ve spent countless times standing before it trying to find something as simple as green mint chocolate chip ice cream or green tea ice cream that’s not soy, or goat milk, or hemp, or yogurt based). and, for the 3-4 flavors of ciao bella gelato that we do buy (and a lot of), they are more often than not, out of stock in those flavors. the situation had gotten so “dire” that i even sent in a lovely note to their suggestion box.  they didn’t add the flavors that i wanted, but they did re-stock the ciao bella flavors that i liked.  that last for about a week before pent-up demand (i swear, it’s not just us buying it all up — though we probably account for an unusually high percentage) depleted their stock again.

the “out of stock” gelato situation happened again this past week, and i decided that i’d just make my own blood orange sorbet, rather than rely on whole foods for a consistent supply.

as it turns out, the recipe couldn’t be simpler (definitely easier than ice creams), plus i could regulate the amount of sugar in the mix.  hubby, who is the main consumer of the blood orange variety in our house, thought that my version was less sweet compared to ciao bella’s recipe.  [as a side note, i have ordered their new recipe book and can do the sugar comparison when i get it].

Blood Orange Sorbet
(makes 1 pint)

Blood Orange Juice 2 cups (or 500 ml) + some additional for dissolving sugar.  [I buy the fresh squeezed stuff in the WF produce section]
Sugar 1/3 cup + 1 to 2 tbsp (80-90g)
  1. Pour sugar into a small sauce pan.  Cover the sugar with a thin layer of juice.
  2. Melt the sugar over  medium heat, constantly stirring.
  3. When sugar has dissolved, pour in 2 cups of blood orange juice.
  4. Cool to room temperature, and then store in refrigerator until ready for ice cream maker.
  5. To make sorbet, pour the liquid into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. My ice cream maker produces a very soft sorbet.  I let it harden in the refrigerator afterwards.

a divine chocolate cake at amy’s bread

the definitely devil’s food cake at amy’s bread is part of my weekend chelsea market routine. i’ll do my rounds, pick up a slice, and life is good. it was hubby’s birthday the other day, and i decided to make this cake to celebrate.  i did change up the decoration of the cake a bit to make it more festive– added the raspberries, shaved some chocolate and smoothed the icing. (it comes a bit more nostalgic, rustic and plain at amy’s bread).

because of the high percentage of chocolate in both the frosting and the cake, consuming room temperature is highly recommended! it makes all the difference in flavour and texture.

Definitely Devil’s Food Cake from Amy’s Bread
(makes one 2-layer nine inch cake; adaptation and notations are mine)

Unsweetened dark chocolate 5 oz  (I used couverture)
Sour cream ½ cup plus 1 tbsp
Unsweetened Cocoa powder 1/3 cup
Baking Soda 2 ½ tsp
Boiling water 1 ½ cups
Cake flour 2 cups
Salt ½ tsp
Eggs 4 large ones
Vanilla extract 2 ½ tsp
Unsalted butter ¾ cups at room temp
Brown sugar 1 ¾ cups
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Butter two nine-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate over water bath or in microwave (about 90 seconds, stirring half way thru). Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, stir together sour cream, cocoa powder and baking soda until it forms thick batter.  Then add boiling water until evenly combined.
  4. Combine flour and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk together.
  5. In the bowl of your standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  6. Then, add melted chocolate into the standmixer. Followed by eggs and vanilla.  Mix well after each addition.
  7. Turn the mixer down to the lowest speed.  Pour sour cream mixture and flour mixture into the standmixer in 2-3 parts. The batter is very thin.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
  8. Divide the batter into the 2 buttered pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  The cake will pull away from the edge of the pan when it is ready.
  9. Remove from pan after it has cooled outside of the oven for about 10 minutes.  Allow the cake to fully cool before frosting.

Chocolate Silk Frosting

Semi-sweet chocolate chips 3 cups
Confectioner’s sugar 1 ½ cups
Cocoa powder ¾ cups
Butter 2 cups, slightly softened
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Salt 1/8 tsp
  1. Melt chocolate chips over water bath or in the microwave.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Cream butter at medium speed until light and creamy.
  3. Then, add sugar and cocoa powder. Mix on low speed until well combined.
  4. Pour in the melted chocolate, vanilla and salt.  Mix on medium speed until frosting forms.
  5. Try not to over-mix as the frosting will become too soft to spread.  If this happens, put the frosting back into the refrigerator until it firms up a bit and then use.

Notes on Assembling the Cake:

  1. Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the cake layers to form fairly flat layers
  2. If cake will not be served immediately, apply a thin layer of simple syrup to the interior sides of the cakes before layering on the frosting.  The simple syrup serves to firm up the structure of the cake and prevents it from collapsing.  Not really needed if cake will be served immediately.
  3. Frost the first layer of the cake and then place the second layer on top of it.
  4. Spread frosting evenly all over the cake and smooth with a large metal spatula.
  5. Place raspberries on top of the cake, then cover with shaved chocolate.
  6. Consume at room temperature.

cracking the code: fat witch brownies

i find myself at chelsea market about once a week.  it’s got such a great assortment of food purveyors all under one roof.  i’ll pick up some veggies from the fruit exchange, maybe a slice of cake at amy’s bread or a scone from sarabeth’s, then over to lucy’s whey for cheddar and dickson’s for their smokey ham.  usually towards the end of my loop, i find my nose inexplicably drawn towards the caramel and buttery scent wafting from the fat witch brownie kitchens and in i go.

the other day, i picked up a box of fat witch brownie mix. it goes for $8.99 in whole foods and makes a 8×8 inch square pan of brownies (or about 12-16 brownies depending on how you slice it).  i baked them up and they tasted terrific–fudgy and gooey.  nonetheless, i’d argue that even their pre-mix is close but not quite the same as the brownies i buy at the store.  i suspect that it might have something to do with the caramel aroma they’ve got wafting around in the store and maybe also something to do with their nifty packaging and clean slicing technique.

while i’m still mucking about on my brownie exploration (here’s my 4th brownie recipe), i thought i would try to re-create the fat witch brownie recipe (box version at least).  i think i just might have cracked the code, (and Sandra Lee from Money Saving Meals can let you know how much money you’ve just saved by doing it on your own).

Update: I just got word that the Fat Witch team is releasing their secret recipe in mid-September in book form!  Although the mix really is $8.99 at Whole Foods, unless they’ve taken down the prices in the last week.

Maybe Really Close to Fat Witch Brownie Brownies
(makes one 8×8 inch pan)

Sugar 1 ½ cups
Flour 1 1/3 cups
Salt ¼ tsp
Baking powder ½ tsp
Eggs 3 large ones
Butter 7 tbsp
Unsweetened Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Couverture 135g (I used a combination of the two)
Vanilla 1 tsp
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.  Butter a 8×8 inch square baking pan and set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in either the microwave (~90 seconds, stirring once half way through) or over a water-bath. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix around for 30 seconds on lowest speed until powders are well combined.
  4. Add in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.  Mix well after each addition.  The mixture will be fairly thick.
  5. Pour in melted chocolate/butter.  Mix for about 1 minute in the standmixer.  Then turn off and continue to fold with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom as needed until it is well-combined.  (I fold manually at the end because my mixer doesn’t pick-up a lot of the batter stuck to the sides and bottom).
  6. Transfer the brownie batter to the baking pan.
  7. Bake for ~35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, and remove from oven.  When cooled to room temperature, invert to take out of pan, and slice into shapes as desired.

And for the real thing . . .

Fat Witch
75 Ninth Avenue.
New York, NY 10011
Mon – Fri : 10am – 9pm
Sat: 10am – 8pm
Sun: 10am – 7pm