Never waste – Green Onion Sesame Rolls

One of my roommates loves to go grocery shopping, which is great for us because we always have a stocked fridge. However, sometimes she buys things that we don’t end up using until it’s too late (i.e. the food has started rotting). Last month, she bought a large pack of green onions, but no one cooked anything with them. I always feel bad throwing out food. Growing up with parents who were farmers in China has taught me not to waste food. Since my parents know firsthand how difficult it is to grow food, they don’t like to waste food, even the smallest amount. So when I saw this recipe for green onion rolls, I knew it was the perfect way to use up our sad, wilting green onions.

         

This recipe is pretty straightforward. Just make a basic bread dough, chop up lots of green onions, and roll out the dough. Then, generously sprinkle the dough with green onions, roll the dough into a log, slice the log up and bake. After slicing up the log, you’ll get these beautiful looks rolls, chockful of green onions. Sprinkling black and white sesame seeds on top gives the rolls as nice pop of color too.

These green onion rolls baked and browned absolutely beautifully! And they smelled so delicious from the oven! However, I was a little disappointed in the flavor. They tasted good, but I felt something was missing. In my critical opinion, they were a tad too bland. Perhaps I should have added a bit more salt or some spice? Regardless, these green onion rolls were tasty, proven by the fact that my roommates gobbled them up so quickly.

In spite of the slight blandness, these rolls were a great addition to our dinner that evening. I’d suggest making these for a potluck or a dinner party – you’ll definitely impress the guests. And it’s a great way to get rid of lots of green onions all at once!

Green Onion Sesame Rolls
Adapted from Priscilla Liang’s Easy Fluffy No-Knead Bread

For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
1 egg
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

For the Filling:
Several stalks of green onion
1-2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with water)
Black and white sesame seeds to garnish

1. Dissolve the sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Combine and mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture, egg, and butter to the dry mixture.
4. Mix the dough until it comes together. Move the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Add additional flour as needed.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to double in size, roughly one hour. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight, but make sure to let dough sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to warm up before rolling).
6. Punch the dough with your fist. Roll the dough into a rectangle of approximately 1/3 inch thick.
7. Spread the olive oil and sesame oil onto the dough.  Sprinkle the salt and green onion evenly over the dough.
8. Roll and cut the dough into 16 pieces.
9. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and place 8 rolls into each pan.
10. Cover the pans with a damp cloth and let the rolls rise in a warm place for approximately 30 minutes.
11. Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops with black and white sesame seeds.
12. Bake at 400F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean.
13. Serve with dinner or enjoy as a snack!

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

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Apple Picking in Sebastopol – Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Growing up in the southwestern part of the US, I missed out on a lot of produce picking since the desert isn’t as fertile as New England or California, except for those Hatch green chiles. So when my housemates suggested going apple picking a few weekends ago, I jumped at the opportunity to finally experience the manual labor of harvesting fruit.

In college, I went berry picking once with one of my friends at a farm outside of Austin. Although we had an awesome time, we were more focused on just looking at the berries (and having a photoshoot :P) rather than picking them. So we ended up picking only a handful of them. This time though, my housemates and I were serious about the harvest. We traveled to an apple farm in Sebastopol, a town about an hour away from the Bay Area. The farm actually has more acres of Asian pears than apples, but they only let people pick apples. That day, golden delicious and jonagold apples were in season. We were led to several rows of trees weighed down with ripe apples and we went straight to picking. Since the apples were so ripe, they were pretty easy to take off the trees. Some of them were so ripe that they just fell of the trees as we picked off other apples. After only about half an hour, we had several boxes filled with apples and headed back to weigh out our bounty. We ended up picking about 35 pounds of apples that day!

The farm also had many blackberry brambles and let us pick some blackberries. If you haven’t picked blackberries before, let me warn you, it’s rather difficult. Choosing ripe blackberries is a difficult task in itself since most of them are either not ripe enough or too ripe (i.e. they get squished when you pick them). On top of that, the blackberries rest in thorny brambles and to get the best ones, you end up getting scraped and scratched by the thorns. I gave up pretty early, but my housemates soldiered on and ended up picking about 3 pounds of berries.

With its apples and asian pears, the farm makes and sells asian pear apple juice, which is very delicious and refreshing. In order to pick apples, we had to sign up for a membership, which basically meant buying 12 bottles of juice. In addition to the juice, the farm also makes several different jams using asian pears, blackberries, and other fruits. We bought a jar of plum amaretto jam and a jar of asian pear, lavender, blackberry ginger jam (that’s a mouthful).

With 35 pounds of apples, I went right to work at baking up something delicious using apples. It didn’t take much effort to find apple recipes. Apparently, everyone is in the mood for apples now – Baked by Rachel is even posting an apple recipe each day. That’s how I found this recipe for cinnamon apple pull apart bread.

Pull-apart breads seem to be trendy these days. I’ve seen pins of all varieties all over Pinterest, from sweet ones (such as lemon and cinnamon sugar) to savory ones (i.e. cheddar, beer and mustard). This type of bread is a bit more complicated than others I’ve made before since you have to cut the dough into strips several times and then try to pack those strips into a loaf pan. And with the cinnamon filling, it turns out to be pretty messy. It was also a little difficult keeping all of the apples together on top of the dough and in between the strips.

I’d like to say my bread baked up beautifully, but that was not the case. I let it rise for an hour, but perhaps this wasn’t enough time. When I baked the bread, the top browned, but inside seemed pretty undercooked. I baked it for nearly twice as long as the recipe says, but I think the bread was still a bit doughy. Perhaps it was because I used some leftover sweet dough that I froze and didn’t let it thaw enough before I used it?

Although I was pretty unsatisfied with the final product, my housemates enjoyed the bread. I had baked the bread late at night and left it out to cool, but when I woke up the next morning, 3/4 of the bread was gone! Later that day, they told me how delicious it was and asked for the recipe. So I guess the bread didn’t turn out that bad or my housemates like eating doughy bread. 😛

Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from this recipe

For the dough:
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pkg or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups apples (I just sliced one large apple)

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Combine and mix the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture and remaining wet dough ingredients to the dry mixture.
4. Mix the dough until it comes together. Move the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Add additional flour as needed.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to double in size, roughly one hour. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight, but make sure to let dough sti at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to warm up before rolling).
6. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
7. Prepare the filling by combining the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and butter.
8. Thinly slice the apples and roll out dough, on a lightly floured surface, into a 12 x 20″ rectangle (I just eyeballed this).
9. Spread the dough with the cinnamon filling and lay the apple slices on top.
10. Cut the dough into 6 sections, roughly 3 x 12″. Carefully lay sections on top of each other, this will be messy and dough will stretch.
11. Cut dough the into 6 stacks. Turn stacks on their sides and tightly pack into prepared loaf pan.
12. Allow to rise for additional 30-60 minutes or until roughly doubled in size.
13. Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes. (I ended up baking for nearly 90 minutes.) After 30 minutes, cover with foil and continue baking.
14. When bread is golden brown, remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Surprising Swirls – Povitica

I love recipes that look difficult to make, but are actually really easy… like this braided lemon bread. And I love recipes that have a surprise inside, like this purple ombre cake. And I absolutely love recipes that are straightforward – it’s ok if they require more than one bowl or make a mess, as long as they are easy to follow and understand. So, when I saw this beautiful, creative bread called Povitica and saw how simple it was and how awesome it looked inside, I pinned the recipe and vowed to make it someday.

Just a regular loaf or bread… or is it?

I just love surprising people… which is a bit ironic, since I kinda hate being surprised (or rather, spooked since I’ll jump a mile into the air and scream whenever someone sneaks up on me). I especially love surprising people with food, either by making something shockingly beautiful or making something with ingredients and flavor combinations that they would never have expected to go well together (like lime glazed avocado pop-tarts or blueberry basil goat cheese hand pies… I’ll be posting these soon!)

What I love most about this bread is how unassuming it looks. Judging from its exterior, one would guess it’s just a regular old loaf of bread. But once you cut off a slice, it’s like BAM! You’re hit with crazy twists and swirls of walnut filling all throughout the bread. Povitica is basically the funkier cousin of swirl bread.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s super straightforward. Povitica is basically a sweet bread dough slathered on with a walnut filling, rolled up and twisted, and then baked in a loaf pan. At first glance, the swirls of filling throughout the bread look fairly complicated, but making them is pretty easy, especially with the help of the step-by-step photos on the Daring Baker’s website. I followed the quarter batch recipe, which makes one loaf. My bread ended up not being twisted that much, probably because I didn’t have enough filling for the swirls to distinctly show, especially near the top. Be warned though, this bread was a little messy, particularly when I rolled up the dough into a log, a lot of the filling spilled out. But hey, that’s the fun part of it. One reason why I like making breads so much is that I get to play with the dough and get my hands dirty. Besides, it doesn’t really matter if your kitchen gets messy because you’re going to have to clean it up in the end anyways. 😛

Povitica
Adapted from Daring Bakers (Quarter Batch – makes one loaf) 

For the dough:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2  cups all-purpose flour, measure first then sift, divided

For the filling:
1 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

To make the dough:
1. Proof the yeast by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water and sprinkling yeast on top. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Heat the milk in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave until scalding.
3. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt.
4. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1 cup of flour.
5. Mix using a wooden spoon and slowly add the remaining flour until the dough starts to come together. (You might not use all of the flour.)
6. Knead the dough on a well-floured surface until dough is smooth and doesn’t stick. Add more flour if needed.
7. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled.

To make the filling:
8. In a large bowl, mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
9. Heat the milk and butter to boiling. (I just heated these in the microwave until hot.)
10. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
11. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
12. Let filling stand at room temperature until it’s ready to be spread on the dough.

To assemble the bread:
13. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle as thin as you can.
14. Spread the filling on top of the dough.
15. Gently roll the dough up into a long log/jelly roll. (The filling will probably get pushed out as you roll it up. Don’t worry about it.)
16. Lift the dough and place the middle in a “U” shape into a greased loaf pan.  Tuck the ends into the empty space of the “U” and brush the top with egg wash.
17. Let rest for 15 minutes.
18. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, then bake at 300 for 45 minutes. Check the bread after 30 minutes to see how browned the top is. If it is too brown, you can place aluminum foil on top.
19. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes.
20. Slice off a piece and admire how beautiful your bread is! 🙂

This post has been Yeastpotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Homesick for Texas – Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches

Despite not having grown up in Texas, I still consider myself to be somewhat Texan and associate with Texas all the time. I suppose living in Texas for four years brainwashed me. 😛 The funny thing is that when I first arrived in Texas, I wasn’t its biggest fan. I felt like I had been transported to another planet (ok, maybe that was a little exaggerated, but Texas does feel like a foreign country sometimes).

Living in Texas also introduced me to new foods, from real southern BBQ (before moving to Texas, I thought BBQ was hamburgers and hot dogs) to Tex-Mex. One of my favorite foods I discovered in Texas was the kolache – a breakfast pastry similar to to the danish, but made with bread dough instead of danish/croissant dough. Even though it was originally brought over by Czech immigrants, Texans have made the kolache their own by putting their own twist on the fillings and even the pronunciation. Texans say “kol-ah-chee” while the Czech pronunciation is “kolach” (with a silent “e”).

For some reason, kolaches are rather difficult to find outside of Texas. I’m sure they’re available in the Mid-West, but in California, no one has heard of them. So, feeling homesick for both the delicious pastry and Texas, I decided to make my own kolaches. I looked up a few recipes and found these from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride.

Kolaches consist of a basic sweet dough that are shaped into rounds or squares and filled with whatever fruit topping you like. Some people even stuff them with sausage. Common fruit fillings include apricot and blueberry. However, since I only had peaches in the house, I made peach kolaches instead. I also had an expiring block of cream cheese, so I made cream cheese kolaches as well.

This recipe was really easy to follow and straightforward. The only little problem (if you can call it that) was that I made the kolaches a tad too big. I thought I had shaped them into fairly small balls of dough, but boy was I wrong. They ended up rising quite a bit in the oven and became gigantic kolaches. Another difficulty I encountered was filling the wells. I suppose I just tried to put in too much filling because for every kolache, the filling spilled out of the well and down the sides. So make sure you put parchment paper underneath, which makes cleaning up extremely easy.

One of my fondest memories of eating kolaches was right before finals. Each semester, the Women in Engineering program hosted a pre-finals feast, consisting of Texas’ finest foods: breakfast tacos, chips and queso, and of course, kolaches. The fluffiness of the bread and the sweet filling of the kolache comforted me as I grew nervous about my imminent exams. After only four years, I’ve fallen in love with many traditions and cultural idiosyncrasies of Texas, with kolaches being near the top. Making these kolaches brought back good memories and brought a bit of Texas to California.

Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches
Adapted from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride

For dough:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt

For cream cheese filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon

For peach filling:
2 peaches
peach jam (I used apricot jam)

For posypka:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter (reserve 1/4 cup for brushing on the pastry) and salt.
3. Add 1 cup of flour and yeast to the egg mixture and mix.
4. Stir in about two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist.
5. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on floured surface.
6. Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until doubled in size—about an hour. (I left in the refrigerator overnight and let the dough warm up the next day before using it.)
7. After dough has risen, punch it down. Pull off egg-sized pieces (maybe even smaller!), roll into balls, and then flatten to about three inches in diameter.
8. Place flattened pieces on a greased cookie sheet, brush with melted butter, cover and let rise again for another half-hour.
9. While waiting for the dough to rise, make the fillings and posypka. To make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest. To make the peach filling, cut up the two peaches into small pieces and mix with peach/apricot jam. (I microwaved the jam to make it more liquidy.) To make the posypka, crumble the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together with your hands.
10. After second rising, gently make an indention in the center of the dough with two or three fingers. Fill each well with peach filling or cream cheese filling (about 1 tablespoon) and sprinkle with posypka.
11. Bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes and serve warm. Kolaches are best eaten warm and fresh from the oven, but they also taste good the day after.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Forgetting the Focaccia – Olive Rosemary Focaccia

My friends and I recently moved into a new house and in the whole process, we somehow inherited a big jar of green olives. I think olives are one of those foods that everyone has a different attitude towards. Some absolutely love them, some are indifferent, and some completely abhor them. Like my friend Rachel. One day, she asked her boyfriend to pick up a loaf of bread. She told him any kind of bread would be fine. However, when he showed up with a loaf of olive bread, she exclaimed, “Not olive bread!”

Now, I don’t mind olives, but I definitely do not like them enough to eat a big jar of them. I’ll eat a few on a slice of pizza or eat the olive that comes with my martini, but they’re a little too salty for me to eat regularly. So when I saw that big jar of olives, I knew I had to find a recipe that used olives. Remembering that story of olive bread, I looked up recipes for olive bread and found a few for olive rosemary focaccia.

Focaccia is actually a very simple and straightforward bread, similar to pizza dough (according to wikipedia). You just make a basic dough, add in whatever herbs (or food) you want, roll the dough out, spread olive oil over it,  and press your fingertips into the dough. Super easy, right?

Even though it was super simple, being the klutz that I am, I encountered a minor problem. While baking the bread, I was distracted and left the focaccia in the oven for a bit too long. Too long as in, burnt the bread and had the smoke alarm go off! Luckily I made two loaves and baked the other one perfectly.

I made this focaccia for a friend’s birthday dinner being hosted at my new house (which was why I had been so distracted while baking the focaccia). Another one of my friends had planned the whole menu, which included baked brie topped with raspberry jam and wrapped in puff pastry, mushroom pasta, tuna stuffed bell peppers, and sauteed brussel sprouts with almonds. In addition to the focaccia, I contributed a quick, but fancy appetizer of figs drizzled with honey and topped with toasted walnuts.

Don’t those figs look so fancy?

Despite burning a loaf of focaccia (I had baked the first one and served it, but left the second one in the oven while I joined my friends for dinner – a very bad idea) and having the smoke alarm go off in the middle of dinner, my friend’s birthday dinner was a great success! The food was delicious and the company was great. We all make mistakes sometimes, some more than others (like me for example). But usually it all works out in the end. Besides, how else would you learn if you didn’t make mistakes?

The only real unfortunate thing about this bread was that it didn’t use nearly enough olives since I barely made a dent in my big jar sitting in the fridge. So, if anyone has any fun recipes that use a ton of olives, please let me know!

Olive Rosemary Focaccia
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman and Epicurious

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 cups (about) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 black or green brine-cured olives, pitted, halved (I used green olives and sliced them)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1. Dissolve sugar in warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast over the water and let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Add the yeast to 3 1/2 cups flour and salt and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Add in the chopped olives and some of the rosemary.
3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 10 minutes.
4. Form the dough into ball and place the dough into an oiled large bowl. Pour a little olive oil on top of the dough and evenly coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Punch down the dough, knead it into a ball and return it to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes.
6. Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down the dough and transfer it to the baking sheet. Roll the dough out into a rectangle with your fingertips or a rolling pin. Let the dough rest 10 minutes.
7. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over the dough and sprinkle the rest of the chopped rosemary on top. Let the dough rise uncovered in warm area until puffy, about 25 minutes.
8. Press your fingertips all over dough. (This was the funnest part! It made me feel like a kid again playing with playdough). Bake the bread  at 475F until brown and crusty, about 20 minutes. Serve the bread warm or at room temperature.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Easier than braiding hair – Braided Lemon Bread

The second I saw this recipe for braided lemon bread from Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it someday. I filed it away in my brain and waited for the opportune moment. So when I made too much lemon curd for the brioche crescent rolls, I secretly did this:

What I love about this recipe is that it’s so straightforward and easy yet yields a final product that is so intricately beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that everyone will believe that this braid was store-bought instead of homemade. For example, when I delivered the bread to my friends, they were all so impressed by it and were convinced that I had bought it rather than made it. I felt a little bad accepting their praises since it really was super easy to make.

Despite looking complicated to make, this bread is actually extremely simple. So much easier than french braiding hair, which I still can’t do. 😛 All you have to do is cut the sides into strips and alternately lay them over each other. Easy, right? Following Deb’s step-by-step photos doesn’t hurt either.

What’s also great about this recipe is that you can make the braid ahead of time, and then bake it right before you’re ready to serve it. I made the dough and braid the night before, then baked it the next morning, so it was nice and fresh for breakfast.

This bread is really delicious – my friends gobbled it up within 30 minutes. The soft, fluffiness of the bread is complemented with the tartness of the lemon curd. Since I didn’t have pearl sugar (I really need to invest in it, so I can make Liege waffles!), I sifted powder sugar on top. However, the cream cheese is rather unnoticeable. In fact, my brother couldn’t even taste it when he ate it. So I’d either increase the cream cheese filling or leave it out completely. The latter is probably better since the flavor of the lemon curd overpowers the cream cheese anyways. You could also exchange the lemon curd with any kind of curd or jam. I think raspberry jam would be a delicious alternative.

If you’re looking for a recipe to impress friends with, this is it. This lemon braid is perfect to bring to a brunch, like Deb did, or as a dessert to a dinner party. When your friends and family see this bread, they’ll praise you for your master baking skills and you’ll smile and say thanks, knowing that it was actually incredibly easy to make.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Lazy Sunday – Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd

A few weeks ago, I had a few lemons that I wanted to use up quickly, so I decided to make lemon curd. It’s surprisingly very easy! Just lemon juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. I couldn’t believe it. Knowing that I’d get very bored just eating lemon curd on toast, I searched for some recipes to use it up. Once I saw this one for brioche crescent rolls filled with lemon curd, I knew I had the perfect recipe.

I used homemade lemon curd, but you can always use store bought if you don’t have enough time or enough lemons. If you do have those two things, I definitely recommend making your own lemon curd. It really is very simple. The first time I made it, I noticed some of the egg whites had cooked in my curd. So I spent a good 30 minutes trying to fish out those egg white pieces.

Can you spot the egg whites?

Not wanting to go through that process again, I found this awesome tip from Fine Cooking. Cream the butter and sugar first until fluffy, then beat in the eggs, and finally add in the lemon juice. You’ll end up with a lumpy yellow mess that looks pretty disgusting. But don’t worry, once you put in on the stove, it’ll become smooth and creamy lemon curd. I tried a second time, following the tip, and got beautiful, delicious lemon curd with absolutely no cooked egg white pieces!

As I’ve said before, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to baking with lots of butter. So I cut down on the butter in this recipe and used only 1/2 cup of butter. As I was mixing in the butter, I already thought that it was too much. But despite decreasing the butter, the crescent rolls were still pretty rich.

I made half of the recipe and got about 18 crescent rolls. As you’re making them, be careful not to put in too much lemon curd on the dough. I did that several times and lemon curd was peeking out of the crescent rolls, and then spilled out as the rolls baked.

These crescent rolls puffed up and browned beautifully. The dough was so soft and fluffy while the lemon curd was tart and sweet. It’s a great combination because the tart lemon curd cuts the richness of the buttery brioche.

I baked these on a Sunday morning for my family for breakfast. They’re a nice sweet treat to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee as you read the headlines of the newspaper and bask in the sunshine on a lazy Sunday.

Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd
Adapted from girlichef

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 warm water
1/8 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp.
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup lemon curd (or any type of citrus curd)
1 large egg, beaten w/ 1 tsp. water (egg wash)
powdered sugar, for sifting

Lemon Curd
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle in yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, place the milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and another cup of flour and mix until well combined. Add salt and remaining flour about a ½ cup or so at a time, until the dough comes together but is still fairly sticky.
3. Pull the dough out of the bowl and place onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add a quarter of the butter at a time, waiting until well blended before adding more.
5. Clean the large bowl you used earlier, transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes to warm up.
7. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 10 inches wide. Cut into 12 equal wedges/triangles.
8. Add two teaspoons of lemon curd to the base of each triangle. Starting from that base, roll each triangle of dough and form into a crescent shape. Pinch ends to seal.
9. Place each crescent roll on a parchment lined sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
10. Preheat oven to 350F during last 15 minutes of rise time. Brush each crescent with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Curd
1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs.
3. Add in the lemon juice. (Mixture will look very lumpy and chunky).
4. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture will thicken as you cook it.
5. Cook for 15 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon.
6. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.
7. Pour lemon curd into jar or bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
8. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
9. Spread on bread, toast, english muffin, etc… and enjoy!
You can keep fresh lemon curd in the refrigerator for a week or two.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Childhood Nostalgia – Red Bean Buns

Growing up, I ate a lot of red beans. No, not the savory kind used in rice and beans, but the sweet kind commonly found in Asian desserts. Sweet red bean soup served after dinner and soft buns filled with red bean paste were some of my favorite desserts. Anytime I saw red bean anything being offered, my eyes would widen and I’d choose it immediately.

So when I saw this recipe for red bean buns, I knew I had to make them. To make the dough, I used the same recipe for soft, fluffy bread using the tangzhong method. I used canned red bean paste, but you could make your own. To make the rolls, you simply enclose a small ball of paste with a circle of the dough, then roll out the dough ball into a flat oblong shape. The funnest part was cutting slits into the dough, but make sure not to cut too deep or else you’ll end up with strings of red bean buns. Simply roll the dough up (hot dog style), brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

These red bean rolls bake and brown beautifully. My mom, lover of hot out of the oven baked goods, quickly snatched up a roll once I brought the tray out of the oven.

She was so impressed by these rolls and exclaimed that they looked exactly like those sold in Chinese bakeries. My friends reinforced this when I brought them the rolls the next day. I’m pretty sure if I had packaged the rolls in one of those pink boxes the Chinese bakeries use, no one would have guessed the rolls were homemade.

Since moving away from home for college and now grad school, I rarely eat any kind of Chinese food. I suppose the overexposure to it growing up as a kid has resulted in my avoidance of Chinese restaurants as an adult. Although I do enjoy certain Chinese dishes, I usually prefer to eat other Asian cuisines, especially Korean, Japanese, and Thai. However, these red bean rolls were so delicious that I could resist eating them or deny that they were amazing. Plus, they brought me back to my childhood and let me indulge in a bit of nostalgia.

Like childhood, these buns are pretty simple, even though they may seem rather complex. They’re also super light and fluffy, just like how life felt as a kid. Not yet weighted by the burdens of adulthood, kids can fly as high and as far as they want. Hopefully, in producing bakery-worthy goods, these red bean buns will make you feel like that once again. 🙂

Red Bean Buns
Adapted from Happy Home Baking

Dough for soft, fluffy bread (follow this recipe just omit the pandan extract)
1 can of red bean paste, roll into balls of equal size
1 egg for egg wash
White sesame seeds (optional)

  1. After the dough has risen, divide the dough into equal sized portions (the number can vary depending on the size). Roll each portion into a ball and let them rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Flatten the dough into a round disc. Enclose each red bean paste ball with a flat disc of dough. Pinch and seal the seam tightly. Flatten the dough into a round disc and roll out into a longish oval shape. Use a knife to make a few slits, but don’t cut all the way through. Roll up into an oblong roll, then seal and pinch the edges.
  3. Place the rolls, seam side down on a greased baking tray. Leave some space in between the rolls to allow them to expand. Let the rolls proof for the second time for about 45 mins, or until they double in size.
  4. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle white sesame seeds on top.
  5. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350F for 15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Apple Ginger Brioche Rolls

Apples and ginger are two of my favorite ingredients… like seriously. I eat an apple everyday for breakfast and am a HUGE ginger fan. So much of a fan that I’ll just eat pickled ginger and candied ginger alone. So ever since I saw this recipe for apple ginger brioche rolls, I’ve been dying to make them.

Being a bit afraid of butter, I’d always shy away from brioche recipes. Putting a whole stick (or even more) of butter into anything always grossed me out a bit. But I’ve since gotten over my little fear and have been wanting to make brioche for a while. I read somewhere that in earlier times, when butter was an expensive commodity and a sign of wealth, the amount of butter that was put into the dough showed how rich you were. So, a rich man’s brioche had a cup of butter while a poor man’s brioche had a mere two tablespoons. I love little food facts like that.

I decided to be more like a poor man, and keep the butter content on the low side. But if you wanted your bread to be richer, you could probably increase the butter. I also modified the filling a bit by adding a tablespoon of cinnamon. I used Saigon cinnamon, which seems to be a bit spicier, but only because that’s all we had. (Just a tip for you Costco shoppers, buy a big jar of Saigon cinnamon, it’s only $3!) If you aren’t a huge ginger fan, you might want to decrease the ginger a bit. Even I, a bonafide ginger lover, thought the heat from the ginger was a bit strong and had quite the kick.

The best part of these brioche rolls is that they will make your house smell amazing! From making the filling to baking the rolls, my mouth watered as I took in the aromas of the spices. However, be careful, these rolls are pretty messy. As I cut the rolled up dough, the filling oozed out. Not wanting to waste any of it, I coated a few pieces of the leftover dough with the delicious filling, which tasted amazing! These rolls bake up beautifully and look just like baked goods you’d find at Starbucks, especially with the parchment paper wrapping. Your friends and family won’t believe it when you say you made them yourself. 🙂

Apple Ginger Brioche Rolls
Adapted from this recipe

3 cups bread flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
4 tbsp soft butter
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
3 tbsp sugar
1 apple, chopped into small cubes
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ginger powder
1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp water for the sugar glaze (I forgot about this… and the rolls still tasted delicious!)

1) Preheat oven to 350F and cut 8 squares of parchment paper to fit eight muffin tins.
2) Mix the sugar and half of the warm milk in a large bowl.
3) Proof yeast by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm milk and then sprinkling yeast on top. Let yeast dissolve and bubble for five minutes.
4) Add 1 cup of flour and lightly beaten eggs to the sugar and milk mixture. Mix until fairly smooth. Then add the proofed yeast and stir to combine.
5) Mix in the rest of the flour in batches until dough comes together. Then move dough onto countertop and knead for 5-10 min. (Note: this dough is very sticky and that’s ok! Just keep flouring your countertop as you knead. If you feel the dough is too liquid-y, add more flour.)
6) Knead in the softened butter a few tablespoons at a time until you have incorporated all of the butter. Place dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
7) As dough rises in refrigerator, make the filling by mixing the chopped apple, brown sugar, ginger powder, and cinnamon together.
8) The next morning, take dough out and set aside to warm up. Then take the dough out (it will probably still be a bit sticky) and roll into a large rectangle.
9) Spread the filling onto the dough and roll the dough up into a long log.
10) Slice the log into eight pieces (or more) and place each piece in a paper lined muffin tin.
11) Let rolls rise for at least 30 minutes or doubled in size.
12) Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
13) Enjoy the rolls straight from the oven or brush with the sugar glaze. (You can quickly make the sugar glaze by placing the sugar and water into a pot and bringing them to a boil for a minute.)

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Bits and Bites – Homemade Pretzel Bites (and Pretzels)

One of my first endeavors at baking with yeast was homemade pretzel bites, using this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. The recipe had pretty simple ingredients, so I thought it wouldn’t be too bad. However, I overlooked the part where you need to boil the dough in a baking soda solution. Now, if you made regular sized pretzels with this dough, boiling wouldn’t be too bad. But if you decide to make pretzel bites, well, that’s another story. This dough makes A LOT of pretzel bites. I never counted how many, but it definitely was close to 100.

The most difficult part of the recipe, in my opinion, was boiling the dough, then transferring them to the baking sheet, sprinkling them with salt, and putting them into the oven as fast as you could. That’s a lot of steps to do in a short amount of time. After making probably 100 bites, I surrendered and made regular pretzels so I’d use up the dough faster. Shaping the dough into pretzel shapes was actually a lot of fun. If you want to bake with your kids, I definitely recommend making pretzels. They’ll really enjoy it. 🙂

These pretzel bites were such a hit! My friends were amazed that I made them myself and several of them asked me for the recipe. If you’re in the mood for baking something a bit more savory, I definitely recommend making pretzels. They’re pretty simple and delicious!

Just a few notes: 1) I noticed though was that if you boil the dough in the baking soda solution too long, the pretzels taste a bit like baking soda. 2) When sprinkling the bites/pretzels with salt, add a lot more than you think you should. The salt falls off easily, so the pretzels aren’t that salty. 3) If you decide to sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar (like I tried), do this after they’re baked. If you sprinkle them before, the sugar might burn!

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

1. Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined (or if you don’t have a dough hook like me, do it the old-fashioned way – by hand!) Let sit for 5 minutes. (I proofed the yeast separately, just with warm water and sugar.) 

2. Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

3. Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

5. Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan (I used a pot) over high heat and add the baking soda.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. (Or shape the dough into pretzels!)

7. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. Boil for about 30 seconds. (Make sure you don’t leave them in for too long!) Remove with a large slotted spoon.

8. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

9. Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating.

This post has been Yeastpotted.