B is for Belated… and Berlin.

Currywurst!

Berlin Moscow. Fabulous little joint.

Russian Ice. Complimentary!

Of Bears and Berlin. A chocolate treat with tea.

The Man.

The Walls.

Indeed.

Fearless birds with a taste for croissant.

The spectacular Jewish Memorial.

Poochy Love.

Royalty at a bargain.

Fancy lights.

How not to love?

I’m not the only hungry girl.

Gorgeous.

Died and gone to Adidas Heaven.

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More, from Amsterdam Strolling.

Yes, this post took a while. But it does take a while to sort, edit and load when you have taken 2000 pictures. Berlin, soon. xx

The yard.

To quote Marco Pierre White, “Mother Nature is the true artist.” 

Working out my thighs at Madurodam, Scheveningen.

Life’s too short to not wear what you love.

Blown away at Scheveningen beach.

Feast by the Beach.

Fancy a wash on the streets?

Hear, hear!

 Agreed.

KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kebab master at work. 

 

Three Month Mark

It’s been three months since I left work and I have…

Gone for a music festival – St Jerome’ Laneway Festival (Does Coachella over Youtube count as a second one? =D)

Gone for a concert – toe, Mosaic (I see me =D)

Attended a Butoh Workshop with Alb and Kai

Watched a play

Ironed all my darn clothes

Studied French

Watched movies – 300, Amélie, Any Given Sunday, Delicatessen, Fight Club, Infernal Affairs, L’Auberge Espagnole, La Combe Lucien, Les Petits Mouchoirs, Lost in Translation, Machuca, Melancholia, The Descendants, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish and English Versions), The Godfather I, II and III, The Iron Lady, The Lady

Read – Olivia (in French), Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Great Frustration, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Worked out (almost) every day

Made crème brúlée (got my own blow torch), made pasta, bread, jam.

Picked up driving

Visited the museum – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Organised the wardrobe and accessories …

Supported Soccer games…

Made new friends…

Most importantly…

Reconnected with loved ones I’ve neglected – Momo, Sis-es, Melb, K, Hui, Xiu, Shus, Bestie, SQ, B

Three months have passed.

And that feeling that time is running out sneaks up on me and teases that panic button ever so often. But it is also that sense of the inevitable end; those limits, that force us to get out there and push ourselves further and harder, so I am thankful.

No time to lament or feel sorry. Not today at least.

Loads more I’ve yet to accomplish, and loads more to come – driving examination, Arts Festival performance, N’s wedding and my long-awaited Berlin visit. (Tokyo soon, I hope!)

And oh yes. I’ve started this humble little blog. This is my 80th post.

Pillow-y Willow-y Bread. The Reveal.

I have yet to recover from my manic week. Shan’t go on too much about it lest I ramble. Hopefully I get good news in late May and then… Okay. Back to Bread.

I was clicking around a few weeks back when I stumbled upon an interesting bread-making method called the Tang Zhong (汤种) method. Translated directly from Chinese, 汤种 basically means ‘soup planting’ – the bread-making equivalent of the ‘moist-maker’ I suppose?

A few other blogs also described this as a ‘brioche’ or ‘water roux’ method. And hey, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So says William. Who am I to disagree?

For the purpose of this entry, I’m going to stick to calling it Tang Zhong because a) I don’t use water in my roux; b) as far as I’m concerned, the brioche recipes call for more eggs and butter – which is why I haven’t attempted any before. Adapted from here and here, may I present…

Nut-Speckled Raisin Loaf

Prepare the Tang Zhong beforehand as it needs to be cooled before use. You can do this up to a two days before.

Tang Zhong

(1 part flour to 5 parts liquid. In this case, milk.)
25g bread flour
125ml milk

1. Whisk the flour into the milk in a small pan and make sure there are no lumps.
2. Put the pan over medium-low heat. Keep your eye on the mixture, stirring continuously as it thickens.  The experts say that the Tang Zhong is ready when the mixture reaches 65˚C. Me? I just winged it along with the rest of the seasoned pros. What I’ve read is that you just keep stirring it over the low heat until the mixture has thickened just enough to form visible ‘lines’ when your spoon or whisk passes through it as you stir.
3. Let cool at room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Cover the tangzhong with a piece of clingwrap coming into contact with the surface of the mixture so it won’t form a ‘skin’.

** I made a mistake the other day – heating up the milk before adding in the flour and whisking out the lumps (as I would with my usual roux), and for some reason, my bread turned out better. Shall stick to this from now on.

The Loaf

Dry ingredients:

350g bread flour
55g caster sugar
1tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

1 egg
125ml milk (I always use full cream)
120g tangzhong (The amount you’ve made from the instructions above)
2 tsp instant yeast
30g butter cubed and at room temperature

The Yum:
1 tbs sesame seeds (black and white) *
30g walnuts, rough chopped*
30g raisins*

* quantities can be adjusted according to taste

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a big bowl: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast. Mix well.

2. Make a well in the centre and crack the egg in.

3. Mix in the milk gradually to prevent lumps, followed by the tangzhong. When the dough becomes a little ‘stringy’, knead in the butter. And yes. It is messy. Especially if you are kneading by hand like myself. Press on. (Pun intended.)

4. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and stretchy. This takes a good 40 minutes or so. So I suggest you play some really good music – helps to keep time and rhythm. When the dough is ready, you should be able stretch it till it becomes a thin membrane before it breaks.

5. Dump in the seeds, nuts and raisins and knead it a bit more until the goodness is evenly distributed throughout the loaf.

6. Shape the dough into a ball and nestle it in a greased bowl. Cover it with cling wrap. I’ll usually use a wet cloth, but this dough is particularly sticky and cling wrap is easier to clean up with.

7. Let the dough proof till it’s doubled in size – it takes about an hour for me though the duration will vary depending on the weather.

8. Punch down the loaf (my favourite bit!). And depending on how you want your final loaf to look like, you can a) divide it into four rolls and line them into your loaf pan, b) divide it into eight balls and stuff them into your loaf pan in (2 rows of four). Make sure the seals are facing down.

9. Allow the loaf to proof a second time – this takes a shorter time for me, about 40 minutes.

10. 20 minutes before the end of proofing time, pre-heat your oven to 180˚C

11. Send in the lil babies into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. To test, give the loaf a knock on the bottom – the loaf should produce a hollow sound when done.

12. Remove from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

We’re gonna get out! (Don’t panic. I doubled the portion here.)

The Savior – Molten Lava Cake

We made pizza, pasta and molten lava cake. And J put his life in grave danger frying calamari for us hungry little people. The calamari was delicious, so I dare say all of us being splattered by oil as we worked on the same side of the kitchen was well worth the risk.

He even ‘tickled our tastebuds’ (his words!) with this INSANE Japanese beef. Please refer to the price tag for the exact amount.

Like a painting.

This thing was just… melt-in-your-mouth. The texture is… almost tofu like? But not quite? I know I made a lot of weird animal-like sounds when I popped it into my mouth. Much to the dismal/confusion of my guests.

Also, I’d decided to be adventurous and made pizza dough using Jamie O’s recipe instead of my usual, and the damn dough was such a flop. I couldn’t cut through the pizza crust at all and we had to use scissors in the end =/ Except for some areas, the pizza was chewy. To think I had made sure every part was toasted to a golden brown too. Very disappointing. I’d have to say though, Jamie had promised a much softer dough to knead with through his use of bread flour – and that bit was true.

We hand made the pasta as before but with Jerm’s help this time, and as usual, B cooked too little of his delicious alfredo sauce (again).

My dear, dear friends as usual, ate everything anyway. They even finished the pizza – which really embarrassed me to be honest. To think that pizzas were my go-to party food in the past. All that made me even more jittery when it came to the dessert course – what if I messed up again? =/ (Yes. I’ve got a complex like that.)

Fortunately, the molten lava cake turned out beautifully. Hence it’s rechristening, The Savior. Besides… When has chocolate fail to mend a broken heart/rescue a sh*t day? Here’s the recipe I’ve modified from Veronica’s Kitchen.

The Savior –  Molten Lava Cake

(Serves 4, though I managed a 5th one)

  • 100 g unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 100 g butter, cube into small + additional 20g or so to butter the ramekins generously
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 20 g cake flour – but you can use all-purpose flour
  • cocoa powder, to dust the ramekins with. If you do not have cocoa powder, and do not wish to buy more just for this, I’ve seen people use caster sugar. It’s supposed to caramelise to form a crunchy exterior too!
  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C
  2. Put a clean bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and melt the chocolate and butter in it. When you have a smooth, shiny pool of chocolate, turn off the fire. (I kept it over the water to keep it warm while I do the rest of the stuff.)
  3. Generously butter ramekins. This is important so that the cocoa powder will stick to it in the next step and assist the unmoulding in the end.
  4. Dust the buttered ramekins with cocoa powder completely. Line with bottle with a square of baking paper just enough to cover the bottom. This is such a great tip that’ll help  you remove the cakes after baking.
  5. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl, until the mixture turns pale, thick and fluffy.
  6. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  7. Sift in the flour and lightly combine well. If you over mix or go at it with a heavy hand the batter will deflate.
  8. Divide the batter into ramekins. Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 10 minutes, until the outside edges are set, yet with wobbly inside. Remove from oven and let them rest for a minute or two on a wire rack.
  9. Invert each cake onto a serving plate and carefully remove the ramekin. If the ramekin gets stuck, do not knock at it on the plate. The sides are barely baked (so the centre can remain gooey) and knocking may break the thin top layer, causing your goo to ooze out before you even serve it! If the cake gets stuck, carefully run a thin knife round the side of the ramekin.

I’ve always prepared my molten lava cakes in advance – who wants to be losing their heads in the kitchen when the guests are here? Simply cover them with some plastic wrap, let it rest at room temperature before baking, and observe to see if the cakes need an extra minute in the oven.

Northern Ireland butter! Could this be the secret ingredient?

Yea, yea… So I added the egg to the chocolate instead of the chocolate to the egg. Sue me.

Swirls!

être bon, mon petits gâteaux!

Perfection! 

And yes. I forgot to take a photo of the chocolate ooozzzinggg out. We were too busy pigging out.  It was good. Trust me.