Tuesday, March 30, 2021

No Knead Sourdough Focaccia

I've been tinkering around with my sourdough discard pizza dough recipe for a while now to produce a focaccia to my liking, and I think I've finally figured out a recipe that produces the kind of focaccia I prefer:  fluffy with lots of big holes, a crispy bottom, and a soft interior that won't go stale after a day or two.

What I love about this dough is that it's quite forgiving as well.  You basically want to slightly overproof the dough, so you don't have to worry about timing very much since you let it ferment overnight in the fridge.  And just like my sourdough discard pizza dough recipe, there's no kneading required!

Regarding toppings, I've made more traditional versions with just olive oil, salt, and rosemary, but I've also treated it like a pizza dough and topped it with shredded Gruyere and zucchini before.  My absolute favorite combination is to drizzle the top of the dough with Laoganma spicy chili crisp and top with slices of Taiwanese sausage, mala salt, scallions, and sesame seeds.

No Knead Sourdough Focaccia

makes one 9" x 12" focaccia

75 grams active 100% hydration sourdough starter
175 grams warm water
250 grams all-purpose flour
6 grams salt
Oil for greasing the dough and pan
Toppings (flaky sea salt, herbs, cheese, etc.)

Mix the starter with the water in a medium mixing bowl until the starter is well dissipated. Add the flour and mix until a dough forms and all the flour has been incorporated.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add the salt and use wet hands to pinch and fold the dough for several minutes until the salt has dissolved and the dough has built up some strength.  Cover and let rest for 30-60 minutes. 

Stretch the 4 corners of the dough one at a time and fold it over itself (this is called applying a fold).  Dribble some oil on top and use your hands to spread the oil and cover the surface of the dough, including where it touches the bowl.  Cover and let rest for 4-6 hours until doubled in volume.  Transfer the dough to the fridge to rest overnight.

The next morning, generously grease a quarter-sheet pan and start to stretch the dough out in it.  Give the top of the dough a light coating of oil, cover, and let the dough come to room temperature over the next 2 hours.  Continue to stretch the dough out every 30 minutes or so until it almost fills the pan.  If you have one, place a pizza stone or baking steel on the middle rack and preheat the oven to 450°F.

Once your dough is at room temperature and starting to get puffy, add your toppings starting with the oil.  Carefully spread the oil across the surface of the dough and then dimple with your fingertips.  Add any additional toppings and continue to proof until your oven is preheated.  Bake the focaccia for 15-20 minutes until browned to your liking.  Let cool slightly before slicing or cutting with scissors to serve.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge depending on your toppings.  You can rewarm the focaccia by microwaving briefly or in a toaster oven at 200°F until warmed through.

Previously:  General Tso's Tofu

Saturday, September 19, 2020

General Tso's Tofu

I previously posted this recipe in an Instagram post, but since I make it so much, I figured it would be easier to find here for future reference.  The sauce recipe is adapted from Lev Grossman's Best General Tso Tofu recipe on Food52, and the idea to use sweet potato starch as the coating for the tofu came from my friend Rebecca.  If you don't have sweet potato starch, you can use regular potato starch or cornstarch or even just fry the tofu without any coating.

General Tso's Tofu
makes 2-3 servings

14-16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu
1 large head of broccoli
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
Oil for frying
Kosher salt, to taste
Sweet potato flour for coating
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons chicken stock
Gochujang or sriracha, to taste
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Handful of scallions, chopped into 1" sections

Steamed rice

Drain and cut tofu into cubes (no need to press!). 

Heat oil in a large skillet and add 1 minced clove of garlic. Add broccoli florets, season with salt, and stir fry until bright green. Add ~1/3 cup water, cover, and steam until broccoli is tender. Remove from pan and wipe down the pan.

Cover bottom of skillet with 1/4" oil and heat over medium. Toss tofu cubes in sweet potato flour and fry in batches until all sides are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. While tofu is frying, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice vinegar, chicken stock, and gochujang to taste.

Stir fry the remaining 2 minced cloves of garlic, ginger slices, and scallions in remaining oil. Add the sauce and cook until thickened. Add the fried tofu and broccoli back in and stir to coat. Serve with steamed rice.

Next:  No Knead Sourdough Focaccia
Previously:  My Sourdough Challah 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

My Sourdough Challah

I learned recently that there are at least 2 different kinds of challah:  the sweet, eggy Ashkenazi version which is probably what most people think of when they think of challah, and the Sephardic version, which is found in the Breaking Breads and Pastry Love cookbooks.  I've made both versions, but I like making the Sephardic version more because the dough is a lot easier for me to work with.

My go-to challah recipe is based off of the one from Pastry Love, except I substitute 50 g of my 100% hydration sourdough starter for 25 of flour, 25 g of water, and half the yeast.  The resulting bread doesn't have the full sourdough tang, but I find it easier to digest than the kind made with just commercial yeast.  If you have a very active starter, you might be able to get away with using less yeast or even forgoing it altogether, but I'm usually using starter that's been left to ferment on my counter overnight so it's not at its most active which is why I add some commercial yeast for insurance.

My Sourdough Challah
makes 1 loaf

50 g sourdough starter, 100% hydration
95 g warm water
4 g active or instant yeast
40 g sugar
2 large eggs (1 for the dough, 1 for the egg wash)
45 g vegetable oil
325 g all-purpose flour
7 g kosher salt

Mix the starter and water together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle on the yeast and allow to dissolve before adding the sugar, 1 egg, oil, and flour.  Knead using the dough hook on low for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle on the salt and knead on low for 8 more minutes.  Cover again and let rest for 90 minutes at warm room temperature.

Uncover the dough and punch down.  Fold over the 4 corners of the dough, recover and let rest another 90 minutes.  

While the dough is fermenting, make an egg wash by whisking together the 2nd egg, 1 scant tablespoon of water, and a pinch of salt.  Mix well but try not to make too many air bubbles.

Punch down the dough again and divide into even portions (the number will depend on how many strands you want; for reference, the first two pictures in this post are a 7-strand braid and the last two are an 8-strand braid).  Working one at a time, press each portion into a rough rectangle.  You want to try to remove any large air bubbles at this point because they will form weak points in your strand.  To form the strand, you will be rolling over the long side of the rectangle like a jelly roll.  To help maintain tension in the dough, use your fingertips to gently push the portion you just rolled over back into the dough all along the length of the dough.  (I highly suggest you watching my IGTV video which shows you how to form the strands since it's much easier to show you than explain how to do it.)  When you get to the bottom of the dough, pinch the seam together and roll the log out a couple of times on the work surface to create a taut surface and start shaping it into a long strand.  At this point you can also taper the ends if you want.  Set aside and work on the next strand.

Once you've shaped all the strands into logs, start with the first log you formed and roll it out into a longer snake.  Set aside and work on the next one.  Once you've roll them all out into longer snakes, give them one last roll to their final length.  Allowing the dough to rest in between the 3 shaping rounds lets the dough relax a little and not shrink back so much.  Braid and form the strands into your desired shape.  Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  

Brush on a thin, even layer of the egg wash, trying not to let too much settle in between the strands.  Let rest for 90-120 minutes in a warm, draft-free area (I use my microwave).  Preheat the oven to 350℉.

When the dough is nice and puffy, turn it 180° from the position it was when you applied the egg wash and brush on another thin, even layer.  Turning the loaf helps ensure that you don't miss any of the surface.  Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes, turning once halfway, until it is evenly browned.  Let completely cool before slicing.  Store in a paper bag for up to 3 days.

Previously:  Sourdough Belgian Waffles
Next: General Tso's Tofu

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Sourdough Belgian Waffles

Well this is my first post in almost a year, so you know these are worth making!  I've been trying to find a sourdough waffle recipe that I like as much as Smitten Kitchen's essential raised waffles, but none of the ones I tried really had the flavor or texture I was looking for.

Then two things happened:  my friend Arthur sold me his Belgian waffle maker, and I tried making a half batch of  The Kitchen McCabe's sourdough Belgian waffles, only I started the first part of the batter late at night and didn't realize until the following morning that I had only used like a tablespoon of my sourdough starter in the batter instead of a full cup.  But the waffles were AMAZING.  Light and lacy, crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside, with enough flavor that you could eat it without any syrup or butter.

I needed to make sure I could replicate the waffles again, so I asked for testers on my Instagram page, and thankfully quite a few people responded.  Out of ~50 testers, 80% loved the waffles whereas the rest were less impressed.  The chief complaint was that they never got crispy or lost their crispiness too soon.  When I tried the recipe again myself, I noticed the same thing, but I did find that reheating the waffles in my toaster oven made them much crispier.

Another comment was that they were too salty.  I realized that I had listed the kosher salt by volume instead of weight, and since I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, another other kind of salt was going produce a must saltier waffle.  Lesson learned!

Since such a small amount of starter is used in the recipe, it doesn't seem to matter much what kind of starter you use, but for what it's worth, my starter I keep is 100% hydration and fed with half AP flour and half whole wheat flour.  I tested these waffles once with more sourdough starter and once with milk instead of water.  I couldn't really tell too much of a difference with the former but found the latter to be even softer than the ones with water and with no added flavor.

All in all, I'd say these are the perfect waffles for someone who doesn't particularly like the flavor of sourdough in their waffles, but has sourdough starter and no milk, haha.  Since such a small amount of starter is used in the batter and it's such a runny batter, the rise you get is more from the baking soda in the waffle iron than from the sourdough.  It seems to help if you have one of those Belgian waffle makers that you flip too, but people had success with regular waffle irons, too.  This recipe doubles quite easily too, if you have more mouths to feed.

Sourdough Belgian Waffles
makes about 3-4 Belgian waffles, depending on the size of your waffle iron

10-50 g sourdough starter (does not need to be active starter; discard is fine)
120 g (1/2 cup) room temperature water
90 g flour (I like to use 25 g whole wheat flour + 65 g all-purpose flour)
42 g (3 tablespoons) melted butter, slightly cooled
1 g (1/2 teaspoon) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
15 g (1 tablespoon) honey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

The night before, mix together the sourdough starter, water, and flours.  Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, add the melted butter, salt, honey, egg, and vanilla extract.  Start heating up your waffle iron.  When it is ready, stir the baking soda into the waffle batter and mix well.  Lightly grease the iron and add ~1/2 cup batter to the iron and cook until golden brown.  Serve immediately or freeze.

P.S  If you'd like a really simple recipe for blueberry syrup, you can find it in the caption of this Instagram post.

Previously:  Snowskin Cake Truffle Mooncakes

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Snowskin Cake Truffle Mooncakes

The mooncakes I grew up eating were the golden, baked kind--usually filled with red bean or lotus seed paste and sometimes even a salted egg yolk inside.  It's so ubiquitous that iOS has an emoji for them (while there still isn't an emoji for waffles??).  They were good, but oh so heavy and dense; it was hard to eat more than a few tiny slices.  Luckily, a few different kinds have popped up since I was a child like the swirly, flaky Taiwanese version I made a few years ago.  Even more recently, I've been seeing snowskin mooncakes where the skin is made with glutinous rice flour resulting in a soft, translucent skin.

I did some research on how to make them, and it looks like there's a hard way with a lot of ingredients and steps and an easy way with just a few ingredients and no steaming involved.  I already know how difficult it can be to work with mochi, so I went with the easy way by following the directions from Kirbie's Cravings and Tiny Urban Kitchen.

The first step is either sourcing roasted glutinous rice flour or making your own.  Since I already had some flour at home, I tried dry roasting it in my wok.  It's not hard to do, but it does take a little patience and a lot of stirring before you get that first wisp of smoke.  Then you sift it together with powdered sugar before rubbing in a fat like shortening.  I've tried using coconut oil and butter and both tasted great, but since butter has a slightly higher melting point, it's easier to work with.

The hardest part for me was figuring out how much liquid to add to make the dough.  If you don't add enough it'll be too crumbly to work with, and if you add too much, it'll be too sticky.  I found the hard way that if you overdo it with the liquid, you can add in some more powdered sugar to bring it back to the right consistency.

Then there's the matter of the filling.  I knew I didn't want to go with the traditional heavy fillings and wanted to come up with something that might be more accessible for the American pantry and palate.  It had to be something pliable enough to mold, firm enough to keep its shape, wouldn't need additional cooking, and hopefully stable at room temperature.  I considered a cheesecake type filling or cookie dough before I thought of an even better idea:  cake truffles!  You may know them as cake balls or cake pops, but it's what you get when you mix cake crumbs with frosting or another binder, roll them up and cover with chocolate or candy melt.

It's incredibly easy to make and there's a million different variations.  I made some to bring to a friend's birthday party, and since she loves watermelon, I baked a strawberry box mix cake, mixed it with some frosting and mini-chocolate chips, and wrapped it with pandan flavored snowskin so it looked like a watermelon.  I also make some with non-dyed snowskin and Funfetti cake inside for a birthday cake mooncake.  My favorite version so far has been using the chocolate chip-passion fruit cake truffle from All About Cake and wrapping it with a snowskin made with passion fruit pulp instead of water.

Snowskin Cake Truffle Mooncakes
makes about 35 mooncakes using a 50 g mooncake mold

For the cake truffle filling:

9"x13" cake, baked and cooled
Mix-ins like mini-chocolate chips or sprinkles (optional)
Binder, like frosting or fruit juice

Use your hands to crumble the cake into crumbs.  Add your mix-in, if using, and toss to combine.  Add your binder, a little at a time, until you can squeeze the mixture and it holds its shape.  Use a cookie dough scoop to form about 35 balls.

For the snowskin:

250 grams sweet glutinous rice flour
225 grams powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
75 grams butter or coconut oil
125 grams water or other liquid like fruit juice
Food coloring and/or flavor extract, optional

In a large skillet or wok, dry roast the rice flour over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to smoke and change color.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then sift together with the powdered sugar into a medium bowl.  Add the butter or coconut oil and then rub it into the dry mixture until well combined.  If using the food coloring and/or flavor extract, add to the water.  Add half of the liquid to the bowl and mix together.  Gradually add more of the liquid until the mixture is soft and pliable but not tacky.  It's a fine line between a crumbly and sticky texture so go slowly.

Pinch off about a walnut size lump of the mixture and roll out into a thin disc on a surface dusted with powdered sugar.  Wrap the snowskin around one of the cake balls.  If there is extra snowskin after wrapping the cake ball, pinch it off and return it to the rest of the mixture.  If you need more, pinch off a bit from the mixture and patch up the hole.  Place the wrapped cake ball on the counter, seal side down, and make sure it will fit into the mooncake mold.  If it is too wide, use your hands to gently shape it narrower and taller.  Use a 50 g mooncake mold to press it into shape and release.  Repeat with the rest of the snowskin dough and cake balls.  You can store the mooncakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days or 1-2 weeks in the freezer.  Let thaw before serving.

Previously:  Mochi Waffles

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mochi Waffles

I can't believe it's the end of July, and this is the first time I've posted on here this year!  I've been posting less and less on here because I've been cooking mostly from recipes on here already or using recipes from cookbooks.  So the fact that I'm posting this recipe means it's a good one.  =)

I've made mochi waffles before using mochi blocks, but these are made from scratch.  I was inspired by Snixy Kitchen's chocolate mochi donuts which were in turn inspired by Third Culture Bakery's mochi muffins.  I figured that by increasing the surface area, you'd get a better crispy crust to chewy innards ratio (and I was right)!  I also like that making the batter from scratch means you can play around with the flavors more.  I tried making a pandan version and a black sesame version, but I think it would be easy to adapt this recipe to make a chocolate or matcha version as well!

Mochi Waffles
makes 8

16 oz. sweet glutinous rice flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds or 1/4 teaspoon pandan extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
13. oz can of coconut milk, well shaken
2 beaten eggs, room temperature

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  If making the black sesame flavor, grind the sesame seeds (I used my coffee grinder) and add to the dry ingredients.

Whisk the wet ingredients together, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.  Since this is a gluten free recipe, you don't need to worry about it getting tough if you mix too much.  Batter will be fairly thick.

Preheat waffle iron to medium.  Use a 1/2 cup measure to scoop batter onto the waffle iron and cook until lightly golden.  The waffle will be soft and floppy coming out of the iron but will crisp up a bit upon cooling.  Serve immediately with sweetened condensed milk and fruit if you like.  Leftovers can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a day.  Reheat in a toaster oven before serving.

I used my Cuisinart classic waffle maker to make these, so the settings and quantities might have different results depending on your waffle maker.

Next:  Snowskin Cake Truffle Mooncakes
Previously:  Bacon Fat Scallion Pancakes

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bacon Fat Scallion Pancakes

I've been making scallion pancakes the same way for years using a recipe I got from one of my chef friends, but recently I tried a different recipe based on a recommendation from the same friend and discovered this one makes just as good, if not better scallion pancakes in a lot less time!

One of the main ingredients for the recipe she sent me was lard, but since I don't usually have that in stock, I tried substituting with bacon fat.  I'm surprised no one else came up with this combo before because it's basically combining two of the greatest tasting things in the world into one.  I fiddled around with the other ingredients a bit to balance out the extra flavor from the bacon fat and ended up with this recipe.  I think it's flavorful enough to not need a dipping sauce, but if you really want one, you can mix up some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and hot sauce to your liking.

Bacon Fat Scallion Pancakes
makes 5 pancakes

300 gram all-purpose flour
6 grams kosher salt, divided
10 grams sugar
175 grams warm water
30 grams chopped scallions (about the amount from 1 bunch of scallions)
50 grams bacon fat, melted
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix the flour, 2 grams of salt, sugar, and warm water together and knead for 5 minutes until it forms a cohesive ball of dough.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

In the meantime, chop the scallions, melt the bacon fat, and measure out the remaining 4 grams of salt.

Divide the dough into 5 equal portions (I like to use the scale for this).  Roll out one of the portions into a rectangle.  Flip the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.  When it won't get any thinner with a rolling pin, gently stretch the dough out with your hands to get it even thinner, but stop if the dough starts to rip.

Spoon a fifth of the melted bacon fat on top of the dough and spread it all around with the back of the spoon.  Sprinkle a large pinch and a half of salt all over and then do the same with a fifth of the chopped scallions.

Starting from the long edge, roll up the dough to form a long rope.  Don't worry about making a tight coil; focus on making the dough as thin as possible by continuing to gently stretch it out as you roll it up.  Once you've formed a long rope, coil it up into a spiral with the seam side down and tuck the end underneath.  Use your palm to squash the coil into a flatter disc.  Set aside and repeat with the other 4 pieces of dough.

Heat up a frying pan over medium high heat with enough oil to generously coat the bottom.  If you have any leftover bacon fat you can add it to the oil.  While the oil is heating, use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten one of the discs even more.  Aim for the pancake to be a little less than 1/4" thick, but don't flatten it completely or else you'll lose all the layers.

Fry the pancake until golden brown on one side and flip.  It's okay if you need to flip it a few times to get it evenly browned on both sides.  While you're waiting for it to cook, go ahead and flatten the next pancake.  When the pancake is done, transfer it to a wire rack.  Make sure you have enough oil left in the pan and fry the next one.

If you have any leftovers, I like to quarter and freeze them so that I can use my compact air fryer to reheat them.

Next:  Mochi Waffles
Previously:  My Communion Bread
Last Year:  Pork, Cabbage, and Tofu Dumplings
Two Years Ago:  Cranberry Curd Tart
Four Years Ago:  Puppy Chow Pie
Five Years Ago:  Miso Pumpkin Soup
Six Years Ago:  Thomas Keller's Lemon Tart
Nine Years Ago:  Tim Tam Slam Ice Cream
Ten Years Ago:  Curry Turnovers