Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Better Than Better

I used to think that store bought children’s sweet treats are impossible to make. I mean, there must be super sophisticated technology to make them. There must be ultra heavy metal machine to shape them. So I accepted my destiny to feed my kid with those full of artificial – don’t even know how to pronounce – ingredients treats whenever my kid went to minimarket. Watching your kid’s tantrum is not an option in the middle of crowd, rite mommies?

Not before I stuck on Brave Tart website. That crazy super cool uberwoman chef is clearly made my jaw drop every time I read her recipe. Can you imagine a chef – a professional one – gave the secret of Oreo’s recipe? Or what about the fluffy – whites’ free! – marshmallow? Or what about cracking the myths and science behind the failed curse of macarons? O yeay baby, she’s that hot with her genius recipe. You should go check her website and join me to be her die hard fans. No kidding. She’s that awesome.

Back to store bought sweet treats…

So actually I’m kind of inspired by her imagination. If we can make our own snacks, why can’t we make the store bought snack that made by machine? Why can’t we make our own Oreo, Cheetos, Lays, Yuppy, Tango Wafer; and why don’t we start with the classic Better?

Better is known as cream filled milk biscuit sandwich covered with chocolate from Mayora. As long as I remember, I already ate them when I was in elementary, cmiiw. And until now they are still exist. Better even has a new peanut butter version, which I don’t really like because I am kind of classic lady. *ehem
I got the biscuit recipe from Gourmet Traveller magazine. It actually a Spanish alfajores biscuits, but the texture is quite the same with Better biscuit. While the cream filling, off course I use Brave Tart’s Oreos filling recipe, so yes if you have any leftover cream, go make yourself Oreo.

And the best thing about homemade snacks is you can make everything based on your liking. A triple layers sandwich biscuits? Checked. An as wide as your palm biscuits? Checked. Or a bite size one? Checked. 

Source: Australian Gourmet Traveller 2014 ed

180 gr softened butter
170 gr brown sugar (I used castor sugar)
2 eggs
220 gm each plain flour and wholemeal flour (I used 390 plain flour and 50 wheat bran, you can use 440 gr plain flour instead)
50 gr milk powdered (add by myself)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Scraped seed of 1 vanilla bean (I used 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Pinch of salt

Vanilla Cream
Butter or shortening (I used butter)
Icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze
400 gr dark cooking chocolate

How to:
1 For biscuits, beat butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes), then scrape down sides of bowl, add eggs and beat to combine. Sieve in flours, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt, and mix to combine. Divide dough in half, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3 mm thick, the place on oven trays lined with baking paper and refrigerate until firm (30 minutes). Preheat oven to 180 C. cut out 7cm rounds with a biscuit cutter and place on oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake until golden (8-10 minutes), them cool completely.
2. For vanilla cream, beat all the ingredients until light and fluffy (10-15 minutes), place on piping bag with flat nozzle, spread onto half of the biscuits, sandwich with remaining biscuits.
3. Melt the dark chocolate. Dip biscuits in melted chocolate to completely coat and place on a wire rack to cool.  Refrigerate biscuits in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

4. Wave your hand and let yourself saying Goodbye to Better from Mayora!

Martabak Kampung

There are certain foods that is just better left untouched, unmade, uncreated. Certain foods that embrace the tagline the simpler the better. Certain food that doesn’t need all the make up, uber creative garnish or rare ingredients to make them jolt. They are just best when they just the way they are.

And this is one of a kind.

It takes only flour, water, salt and oil to make the dough. While the filling is only consist of rice beehoon, shredded carrot, chopped celery seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper and msg. MSG WHAAAAAT? Oh well, I know, I can read your mind the health counselor mamas. I know that how much delicious a food wouldn’t flirt us if they contain MSG. But now we are talking about the simplicity of it best, the street traditional snack vendor that is just too hard to reject.

Trust me, I’ve been trying at my best to imitate these Martabak Kampung, and all I can say is, I always end up in failure. From erase the MSG thingy, substitute it with shrimp, chicken or any natural flavor that fancy me, from katsuobushi until mushroom. But they are just not the same. There is no traditional taste that kicks my tongue. There is no simplicity that invites my drool.

So yes, I am giving up.

For once in a life, there must be some point where you have just to be surrender and accept your fate, no matter how hard you have tried to change them. Maybe that just how universe works. Some thing is just meant to be something, not our thing. Someone is just meant to be a seller, while we’re just meant to be the buyer.

So yeah, for this exceptional traditional food called Martabak Kampung, I accept my fate. Accepting my fate as a buyer, a loyal one to Yu Ma – that is just how she’s called, despite her beautiful name Maryamah (Karpov, maybe?) – the Martabak Kampung seller. I am so glad to know her personally, to taste her magic in her food. And guess what, I am not alone as her big aficionado. Some of my neighbor always buy like 50 pieces of her martabak, wrapped it in tight sealed plastic, and bought them fly to Jakarta as a gift to his family. While my brother in law who lives in Bali always bring home 20-40 martabak for his wife and children. They said they freeze the martabak once they got home, and those bunch of martabak disappeared not more than 2 days.

Is that good?

Well, every food is personal to our thing. It might remind us of certain memories. And by eating them, we wish we are recalling the memories. So, yes, these martabak are just that good in our personal preference. And once again, I am glad to have these martabak kampung in my life.

Self-saucing Chocolate Pudding

This is a cross between lava cake and chocolate pudding. A cross between decadent chocolate cake and espresso hint chocolate sauce. Between the easy peasy muffin method and hot chocolate making. Gosh, do you count how many times I mention chocolate?

Well, let me introduce you: Self-saucing chocolate pudding. Almost like lava or molten cake, it is just get simpler, easier, quicker yet you still can dig up the flowing chocolate sauce every time you spoon.

First time saw and suddenly curious when I read Gourmet Traveller Magazine, my new chocolate bible (how can I say it is not a chocolate bible if it is not contain more than 400 chocolate recipe?). Frankly, I never eat lava cake. But to imagine chocolate lava beautifully spill from cake must be an enigmatic experience. I could get foodgasm only by imagining it. But if, if only, there is another way, a much simpler and easier to make the chocolate lava thingy, especially when there is no mixer available on your side, would it be a triple foodgasm? Definitely.

So, yeah baby. This recipe doesn’t need mixer like I describe you previously. Read carefully, especially my warning, then go measure all the ingredients, pre heat the oven, then make happen your self-saucing chocolate pudding! Worth thousands picture!

150 gr self raising flour
25 gr cocoa
30 gr almond meal
275 gr brown sugar
80 gr butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly whisked
425 ml almond milk
Icing sugar, sieved for dusting
Double cream, to serve

1.      Pre heat oven to 180 C. sift flour and half the cocoa into a large bowl, add almond meal and 110 gr sugar and stir to combine
2.      Combine butter, egg and 125 ml almond milk in a jug, then whisk into flour mixture yntil smooth and combined. Spoon into a  buttered 2 litre baking dish, smooth top and set aside.

3.      Combine remaining sugar and remaining cocoa in a bowl and scatter over pudding. Bring remaining almond milk to the boul in a saucepan over medium hight heat, then gently pour ober the back of a spoon onto pudding. Bake until centre springs back when pressed (35-40 minutes). Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with double cream.

(Whole?) Wheat Bread

I am not immune to anything. Especially bread.

I’ve been longing for whole wheat bread for years. A homemade one. Without the artificial chemical hardly to pronounce ingredients. The kneading process, with grainy whole wheat – or oat or any kinds of seeds – that sticky rubbed in my hand. The brown beautifully double rise dough after an hour resting. A yeasty heavenly smells comes out from oven. Have I told you that I am engrossed to knead bread?

But agony followed me easily since I hardly find the whole wheat flour. Instead, I found wheat bran easily. And those stuff is quite cheap. Wheat bran is not flour, it is a bran, typically wheat membrane used to add some fibre in food, particularly in bread.

I am not sort of bread master whose capable of explaining the chemistry process behind the gluten miracle, nor a standing mixer equipped to make kneading process faster and better with those fucking pricey machine. Nor a skillful experienced baker who can do those weight lifting France method kneading. I guess I am just a novice baker, like to mess a recipe by substituting this for that only to satisfy my ego and to prove myself that everything can be done in a very limited circumstances.

This 100 percent whole wheat recipe originated from King Arthur Flour, cited it in mba Riana’s blog. And hell yeah, I am not only tweaked, but apparently change almost the whole thing. So if you had whole wheat flour in your hand, go check and stumble in this. Or other way around, follow my recipe to get some almost the same as store-bought whole wheat bread with cheaper and more available ingredients.

3 cup plain flour
1 cup wheat bran
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
¼ cup soy powdered milk
¼ cup castor sugar
1-1  ¼ cup cold water
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ¼ tsp salt

1.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, wheat bran, yeast, milk, sugar and water. Stir until the dough form a ball. Add oil and salt, stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. 
2.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. I did everything using electric mixer, from stirring to kneading. This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it with a plastic wrap or dampened kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise till puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
4.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface. Punch the dough, add the nuts, knead a little until the nuts are distributed evenly. Shape it into an 8 inch log, or two 20 cm logs. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan, or two 20 x 8 cm. Brush the surface with a little water, sprinkle with extra nuts, making sure they stick to the bread. Cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the bread to rise for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, or till the center has crowned about 1 inch above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 180°C.
5.  Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Test it with a stick poked into the center of the bread, if it comes out dry, it's dry.
6.  Remove the bread from the oven and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Brownies Blow Up

It was always chocolate. Dark bittersweet chocolate chunks. A fragrance cocoa powder. A smooth luxury butter. A combination of all those with sparkling caster sugar and flour that make brownies become delicate damply rich chocolate cake.

Ah brownies: fudgy, bittersweet, dense brownies. You are always the top list of all sweet treats, from the crazy midnight craving until elegant afternoon tea set. You were always there. To cheer up a crybaby naughty kids until a melodramatic grown up. And no force could acquiesce you. I guess the term guilty pleasure is solely invented to describe you.

Lately, the Triple Chocolate River Brownies is on the hype of any food blogger here. Starting from facebook, it goes viral and seems like someone would trap forever in yesterday if she hasn’t made it yet. And since I am a hype person – if hype is translated into trend follower – I eventually forced myself to make it. Although I was ran out of eggs. And palm sugar. And chocolate chips. And the time when I was measure the ingredients, I’ve just realized that my hand mixer is Rest In Peace. So be it. The brownies mood was on fire and I wouldn’t waste it.

So here is my cheated version of Triple Chocolate River Brownies by Ummu Allegra (I beg you pardon Ummu, I don’t even know you to thank to you for inspiring me). If you already known the real recipe, mine is far different from her. So let say it is not tweaked version, it is an inspired from TCR Brownies by Ummu Allegra.

200 gr plain flour
40 gr dutch processed cocoa
150 gr castor sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
30 gr melted butter
50 ml thickened cream
100 gr dark chocolate, melted

1.      Pre heat oven to 170 c.
2.      Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, and wet ingredients in another bowl.
3.      Pour the wet to the dry, mix thoroughly.
4.      Turn into a 24 cm square baking tin, bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Once cooler, cut carefully, four down, four across into 16 squares to feed 16, no, 8, no, but 4 greedy mouth. Well, though it doesn’t have to.

Fyi, you wouldn’t find any shiny golden crust on top of it like it should had. And since I skipped the leavening agents, it also would zero from sponge. It is fudge chocolate brownies; a dense, bit crumbly, chocolate rich, faintly sweet, partly bitter and wholly addictive.

Is it that good? No. it is that great. My sister, her boyfriend and I literally fight over the last piece of this brownie. Try, then prove that I am wrong.