Category Archives: Bread Basket

japanese tofu bread

in case you’ve been wondering if i still bake, yes, i do…however, i’ve been doing a miserable job keeping up with the posting!

in the past few months, i’ve been spotting the emergence of “tofu bread” at japanese bakeries around the NYC area.  i’ve purchased a few loaves.  i can’t say that the flavour of tofu is actually detectable, but the texture is good, it seems to keep for a longer time than normal bread, and well the idea of eating tofu in my bread seems virtuous and healthy.

so, i decided to track down a recipe on a japanese website (which i’ve since lost track of — otherwise, i’d link to it).  the flavour and texture is pretty good (a tight crumb) and moist…altho i didn’t quite get the rise that i had anticipated (perhaps i messed something up in translation or my yeast had sat in the freezer for too long).

anyhow…here’s how i made tofu bread…version 1.0

japanese tofu bread
(makes one 9″ loaf)

Bread Flour 250g + 50g (reserve)
Sugar 30g
Salt 3g
Butter 30g (at room temp)
Silken Tofu 150g
Milk 100 ml
Active dry yeast 3g
  1. Heat milk until just warm (but not so hot that it kills the yeast).  Pour about 1/3 of the sugar into the warm milk.  Then pour in the yeast.  Set aside, allowing the yeast to bubble and froth (about 15 minutes).
  2. In the bowl of your standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar until well-combined. Then add in tofu.  Mix for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Next, pour in salt and bread flour.  Mix for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Finally pour in milk-yeast mixture.
  5. Change to dough hook.  Mix at medium speed until a ball of dough forms and the all the excess has removed from the sides.  The dough should not be tacky.  We added about 50g of additional bread flour until we got it to the right consistency — something like a soft clay.
  6. Transfer to a bowl. Dust with flour, cover with plastic and allow to rise until it doubles to triples in size.
  7.  Then, form it into a loaf to fit into a 9″ loaf pan.  Again, allow the dough to rest in a warm place until it rises to the just above the lip of the pan.
  8. Heat oven to 385°F and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.




multigrain the magnificent

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reinhart’s anadama bread

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bread & jam

the bread making bug is back!  after buying copious loaves of bread from my local bakery, and then watching half the loaf go moldy before i got to it, i decided to start baking my own bread again . . . for some weird reason which i haven’t quite sorted out yet, bread baked at home seems last 1 to 1.5 wks before going molding.  whereas the stuff i get from my local bakery, starts to catch that fuzzy green stuff within 3 days. hmmmmm . . .

i decided to launch the fall 2011 breadmaking season with KAF’s classic 100% whole wheat bread, except of course, i only had half the amount of whole wheat flour at hand and ended up having to substitute with bread flour.  their recipe (with my substitutions) turns out a fantastically rustic loaf with the slightest bit of nuttiness.  hubs and i have been eating the bread for over a week now…and it has yet to go moldy! yipee!

here’s the recipe. i used 200g of whole wheat flour and 200g of bread flour instead.  i also opted for the maple syrup rather than the molasses (since i didn’t have any of the latter on hand).

now, what i’m really excited about is how well my white nectarine jam turned out. it’s fruity, peachy and has just the right consistency for thickly spreading on a slice of homemade wheat bread.

i purchased a flat of white nectarines from costco, which turned out to be rather dry and tasteless.  and in my book, when life gives you tasteless white nectarines, you turn it into jam.

White Nectarine Jam
(makes about 1.5 quarts of jam)

White nectarines or peaches 1.5 kg (washed, peeled and cut into chunks; about 8-10 nectarines)
Seedless Grapes 0.5 lb (washed and de-stemmed)
Sugar 800g
Lemon Juice From 3 large lemons
Pectin (low methoxyl) 3 tsp (and a 2 tbsp of calcium water for activation), or follow manufacturer’s recommendations for usage of pectin.
  1. Combine all ingredients, except calcium water, in a large clean flat bottomed pot (i used a dutch oven).
  2. Mix together with a wooden spatula and let sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Bring the mixture up to a light boil and then turn off heat.  Allow the mixture to cool and then store in refrigerator overnight.  Place a clean white plate in the freezer overnight as well.
  4. The next day, pour calcium water into the mixture and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to ensure that the jam is evenly heated. Boil for 10 minutes or so.
  5. Then, take the pot off heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the fruit until smooth.
  6. Return the pot to the stove, and continue to boil / stir until the jam passes the frozen plate test.  (take the plate out of the freezer.  put a dab of jelly on the plate.  push the jelly slight with your finger. if wrinkles form as you push the jam, it is ready).
  7. Pour jam into prepared jam jars immediately.

white peaches & green tea in a muffin

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jury duty & honey black sesame bread

after magically managing to escape jury duty for most of my adult life, my number was finally up.  slated to report to the center street court house this monday, i started feeling a bit anxious on sunday morning. and when i’m anxious, i bake.

a while back, i attempted to make the japanese double soft bread (ダ○ルソフト), and it came out lopsided. i decided to give it ago a second time, with some last minute modifications, of course.  Continue reading

lemon cream stuffed puffs

remember that quart of lemon cream i made but which didn’t work so well sandwiched in between two tea cookies? well . . . i decided to get out my piping bags and stuff it into some pâte à choux (or choux dough) puffs.  it’s still ooey and gooey once you bite into it, but it does stay quite a better in its enclosed cream puff receptacle.

some science 1st:  while some doughs get their rise from the action of yeast fermentation or baking powder, choux dough rises from steam.  the water content of the dough is quite high, and as it bakes away, the water in the dough steams out, causing the dough rise into light airy puffs.   (this also means that one should stand to the side upon opening the oven; otherwise, you’ll be greeted with a rather hot squirt of steam). Continue reading

pomme pomme inspiration

i have this habit of picking up pretty brochures and things from pastry boutiques and restaurants while i travel.  i stuff them into some deep dark corner of my bag, along with the hotel folios and ticket stubs.  i tell myself that one day, they’ll make for good material if i ever take up scrap-booking. of course, i never actually do and i end up throwing out the whole lot.

i finally decided to tackle my “vacation” pile last night and came upon some of said brochures.  thought i’d post the one from joel robuchon in roppongi hills.  it’s filled with all sorts of delicious ideas about pastry and apples from normandy and brittany (and if you jump on a plane to tokyo now, you can still catch the last 2 weeks of joel robuchon’s normandy and brittany pastry offering!!!)

there’s a better picture of the pithiviers á la pomme that i had posted previously (and mislabeled as a chausson aux pommes).  the cake au caramel, noix et pomme pictured next to the pithiviers is kinda calling out, “make me, make me,” right now . . .


sesame seed puff pastry sticks

while i ogled away at the marvellous desserts at sadaharu aoki’s shoppe in tokyo, hubs zero-ed in on these sesame seed covered puff pastry sticks (they are kind of like an untwisted version of cheese straws in texture). i think he found the only savory item in the entire shop and tossed a bag of them into our shopping basket.  at some point while we were crossing the pacific ocean on our flight back home, hubs got hungry, located the sticks, and started to munch away on the plane.  he finished the entire bag before i had a chance to photograph them for your viewing pleasure.  they came expertly gift wrapped, of course, with ribbons, sashes and all.

puff pastry is a pain to make, and as i have grumbled many times in the past, costs an arm and a leg.  on top of that, when you’re cutting circles out of puff pastry, like i did for the chausson aux pommes recipe, about 40% of the ludicrously expensive puff pastry sheet you purchased ends up as scraps.

fortunately, physics and the puff pastry gods are kind.  these scraps can in fact be re-configured into light and crunchy edibles, such as sesame seed puff pastry sticks, and no one would be the wiser that you had just served them re-purposed “leftovers.” hubs ate one last night, and he claims that they taste just like the ones we bought in tokyo!  hurrah! i can bake like master aoki-san!

Sesame Seed Puff Pastry Sticks
(quantity tbd, but with ~5 to 6oz of puff pastry scraps, i got about a dozen or so 8 inch sticks)

[nb: probably the most inexact recipe i will ever write]

Puff Pastry Scraps Whatever you’ve got on hand.  Yes, you can buy fresh puff pastry expressly for this purpose too.
Egg Wash 1 whole egg, mixed with 1 tbsp of milk and a sprinkle of salt.  You may need to make more or less depending on the scraps you’ve got.
Black and White Sesame Seeds A small mixture of each, ~1/4 cup total
  1. Okay, this is IMPORTANT, very very important! Do not, I repeat, do not clump the leftover puff pastry pieces into a ball.  If you do so, you will not get the characteristic layered effect of puff pastry.  INSTEAD, take each scrap and layer them on top of each other. If the scrap block is too soft, place it into the freezer for a few minutes.
  2. Then, roll the scraps out again into a slab about 1/8″ thick.  I got  a 9×12 inch slab out of my scraps.
  3. Transfer the slab back into the freezer and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
  4. Take the slab back out and slice it into strips about 1/2 to 3/4″ wide, and 8″ long.  Although, you can really make the sticks as large or small as you desire.
  5. Pick up each semi-frozen stick and brush it generously with egg wash.  Then sprinkle sesame seeds on top (the seeds should adhere to the egg wash).  It’s easiest to sprinkle the seeds on over a bowl, so that the excess will just fall back into the bowl to be re-used.
  6. Place the seeded sticks onto a parchment sheet lined baking sheet and let rest in the freezer, while pre-heating the oven to 350ºF.
  7. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

étude de chausson aux pommes

exhibit a above: chausson aux pommes from l’atelier de joel robuchon in roppongi hills (picture taken in bad lighting in a hotel room, moments before i consumed it).  notice the glistening exterior, slightly browned towards the edges,  intricate spiral vents, and even rise of the puff pastry shell. such perfection can be had for about 450 yen.

correction 10/15: i started digging thru stuff from my trip, and it turns out that exhibit a is actually a pithiviers à la pomme.  still made with apples and puff pastry, but it’s got some almond paste inside as well.  oo la la!

exhibit b below: my attempt at making chausson aux pommes at home . . . pale, not glistening, uneven rise, lack of intricate spiral vents. . . homey

having gone apple picking a few days earlier, i found myself with a lot of apples on my hand.  i decided to slice and dice them up and make a rather large quantity of apple compote (i’ve still got a quart or so left in my fridge).  rather than make an apple tart, as i’ve done in the past, i decided to recreate the chausson aux pommes (aka. french version of an apple turnover, more intricate, prettier, less sweet, flakier crust) from joel robuchon in tokyo (see exhibit a).

i went to new york cake to pick-up a 4 inch fluted dough cutter.  tried looking for a spiral vent cutter with no luck — the closest thing i found was the spiral kaiser roll indentation device.  i picked that up as well, but it didn’t work so well.  i could have sworn that i’ve seen something more suited for making intricate spiral vents at dehillerin in paris; i’ll have to burrow through the aisles again the next time i’m there.

i’ve deduced a couple of things to be improved on for my next round of  chausson aux pommes experimentation:

(1) even spiral vents are key to creating the uniform rise as seen in exhibit a.  without the even events, you’ll get more of a dome shape. until i find a spiral vent cutting device, i think the next best alternative is to attempt making the vents by hand with a round pastry wheel.

(2) one must really slather on the egg wash.  i brushed my chausson aux pommes rather lightly with egg wash, and in some cases left it off entirely.  to get that caramelized glistening effect, i think that a heavy hand should be used when applying egg wash.

(3) working with puff pastry is all about finding the perfect temperature.  the best state is when the dough is defrosted enough to be plyable but non-sticky and wobbly, i.e. when you cut the pastry, you should be able to pick up the cut-out disc easily without it losing its shape.  might have to put the puff pastry back into the freezer if the pastry is too warm.

Chausson Aux Pommes v. 1.0
(makes about 8 four inch pastries)

Puff Pastry 14 oz.; 1/8″ thick (I use Dufour; yes, it costs an arm and a leg. I’ve made my own in the past, far more economical, but time consuming and hard work!)
Apple Compote 1 recipe, yielding about 2-3 cups
Egg wash 2 egg yolk, 1 tbsp of milk, a pinch of salt, beaten until uniform
  1. Prepare apple compote a day in advance; and defrost puff pastry 2-3 hours in refrigerator before using.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 325ºF.
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper on your work surface, and unroll the puff pastry pastry.
  4. Dip your 4″ fluted round pastry cutter in some flour, and cut out 16 circles.  [save the leftover puff pastry scraps for another recipe. . . see sesame seed puff pastry sticks]
  5. If you have a spiral vent cutter, make 8 indentations with it; otherwise, do the best you can with a pastry wheel to mimic the spiral vents.  Or, skip the spiral pattern entirely and make vents of your own accord.
  6. Spread about 2 tbsp of apple compote onto 8 unvented pastry rounds.  Brush the edges with egg wash, and then place the vented pastry rounds on top. Press down around the edges to secure them. Place the assembled pastries onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  7. If the dough is started to get too soft, return the unbaked chausson aux pommes to the freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. When ready to bake, brush a lot of egg wash onto the tops of the pastry.
  9. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.