Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gingko Beancurd Barley dessert ( 白果腐竹薏米糖水)

There are so many dessert soups out there. From highly popular red bean soup ”红豆汤“ to  Peanut Paste "花生糊“, to Glutinous rice ball in ginger tea “姜茶汤圆“, are just some of the family favourites we can find in most of our households. 

I remember having this really silky smooth sweet beancurd  dessert awhile back which really left me an impression, good one of course. I finally got to know that this Tong Shui "糖水" is mainly popular in Hong Kong which they even add hard boiled chicken eggs in it...what? Some may shudder at the thought of savoury ingredient found in desserts...beancurd and hardboiled eggs? I guess when people grow up eating something, there is really nothing awkward about it. 

However today, I won't be adding hardboiled eggs into this dessert soup. I prefer mine just with the usual ingredients and how I remembered it when I first tasted it.
This dessert is rather versatile, the amount of gingko and beancurd sheets you add in are really up to one's preference. If you prefer more, you can just add more. So the amount I written here is just a rough guideline, feel free to adjust as per how you like your dessert soup to be.

Recipe for Gingko Beancurd Barley dessert (Serves 5-6 pax)

1.5 litres water
100 g dried beancurd sheet (dessert type-see picture below) ( 腐竹 )
150-200 g shelled, boiled, peeled gingko nuts (I bought the package ones) ( 白果 )
100-120 g dried barley ( 薏米 )
50-60 g dried Lily bulb ( 百合 )
1 knotted pandan leaf ( 香兰叶 )
120-140 g crystal sugar  (冰糖 )

  • In a pot, pour in the water, dried barley, dried lily bulbs and knotted pandan leaf in. Bring the water to a boil, then lower fire and simmer, covered for a good 20-25 minutes.

  • While the barley and dried lily bulbs are cooking, prepare the gingko nuts. Using the tip of a small paring knife, slit a small opening at the base and draw out the "bitter heart" of the nut. This is a VERY important step, so do not skip doing this, even though it can get a little tedious doing it. But if you don't remove the bitter hearts, it'll leave such a terrible bad aftertaste when having the dessert! 

  • After all the gingko nuts have the hearts removed, place them in a small pot of water with 2 tbsp of crystal sugar added in. Bring it to a boil. This simple sugar syrup will slightly sweeten the gingko nuts and remove any traces of the bitter flavour that the hearts might have left behind. Again try not to skip this step.

  • After the gingko nuts have been simmered in the sugar water for a good 15 minutes, off the fire and leave it there until its needed.
  • When the barley is soften, drain and add in the ready gingko nuts to the barley pot. Continue to simmer the whole mixture. 
  • In the meantime, weigh out 80-100 g of the dessert beancurd skin, breaking it up slightly.

  • Soak the beancurd skin with some water to soften it a little. It should turn slightly more pale yellow then before, like so:

  • Next add the beancurd skin to the pot of barley and gingko nuts. Bring it to a boil then lower the fire to a simmer.

  • Bring to a boil, add in crystal sugar and then lower fire to simmer. 

  • Cook for a good 30 minutes at low fire until the beancurd breaks up into tiny pieces. 

  • At this point you can choose to cook it further to break down the beancurd more which some likes it or leave it like so. You can also adjust the level of sweetness or the thickness consistency by adding more water. 

I actually enjoy this dessert more when it is chilled whereas my husband likes it hot. Whichever ways you like it, I feel this is such a nice dessert to have which even the older folks can enjoy. With the addition of dried lily bulb makes this dessert a lot more wholesome which this wondrous dried flower is used for treating Chronic cough, insomnia, inability to concentrate, restlessness and irritability. How awesome is that?! But of course we all know Chinese medicine requires long term usage in order to see a more effective result.

Frankly speaking, I can't really find this dessert in any of the hawker stalls and rarely seen in restaurants as well. So it is definitely a plus to record this recipe down here so I can revisit it from time to time again. So do try it out yourself too!

I am thinking of cooking this again on the last day of Lunar New Year. This time I might just add in some homemade filled glutinous rice balls in...just to give it another dimension of yumminess! So excited!

Have a great week ahead folk!
Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pumpkin Wholewheat Milk Buns with Potato Bacon

Another pumpkin bread recipe that is worth recording down. Furthermore this uses a straight dough method and yet kept soft for the next 2-3 days. Best part about this is that the recipe is versatile enough to be made into buns as well as into loafs. Even added wholewheat flour to make it slightly healthier. :) So feel free to leave it as plain loaf or kick it up a notch by wrapping them with potato bacon like what I did. :)
By now you must be wondering how did I actually shape that bun all so nicely with grooves. Well I got the inspiration from a dear fellow blogger Elin of http://www.elinluvdelights.com ,  whom also shaped her pumpkin buns exactly this way. :) There is actually a Chinese video online that shows how to shape this buns on Youtube. Took the challenge and shaped accordingly which I made 8 of these pumpkin buns plus a mini loaf.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Wholewheat Milk Buns (Makes 8 buns)
125 g steamed pumpkin
250 g bread flour
100 g whole meal flour
50 g caster
1/2 tsp salt
4 g instant active yeast
180 ml fresh milk
15 g unsalted butter room temp

  • In a mixing bowl, add in all the dough ingredients except the butter. Knead at medium speed till everything is well combined .
  • Knead till the dough pulls away from the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. Add in the butter and knead again till the dough is very elastic and reaches window panel.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl and let proof for 1.5hrs or till it is doubled in size. At this point you can make the bun fillings.

2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into small chunks and steamed till cooked
3-4 strips bacon
1 small onion

Filling seasoning:
4 tbsp Japanese Mayo
1 tsp superfine sugar
1/4 tsp salt

8 of 25cm cooking twine/ string dipped in cooking oil
  • Preheat the oven.
  • In a pan, add in the bacon and let it cook till crisp up on both sides and most of the fat has been rendered out.
  • Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Next add in the chopped onions and cook it in the bacon fat at low fire. 
  • Once the onions has soften, dish it out and add to the steamed cubed potatoes.
  • Add the steamed potatoes in to the caramelised onions and toss well to combined.
  • Crumble the crispy bacons into smaller pieces and add to the potato onion mixture. 
  • Add in the seasoning and mix well. Set aside for use later
  • After proofing, punch out the air and divide the dough into 8 portions of 50 g. The rest of the dough can be made into a plain loaf or you can make more buns if desired.
  • Then wrap the buns with about 1 heaping tbsp of potato bacon filling. Seal the buns and set aside for a minute. Then continue wrapping the buns with the potato filling till all 8 buns are filled and sealed.
  • Using the oil coated cooking twine, wrap the buns so that the twine goes around it 4 times and has 1/4 segment separation. (To have a better idea, please hop over to my Facebook which I post the video of how I wrap the twine around the buns.
  • Repeat till all the buns are wrapped with the cooking twine. Let the buns proof till doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven 170C. 
  • Bake the buns for 13-15 minutes till light golden brown. 

  • Once the buns have cooled, remove the twine carefully and stick a chocolate stick in the middle top of the buns. Enjoy!
Hope this recipe will inspire you to bake for your love ones. Totally appropriate for the coming CNY don't you think? Loving the evident grooves of the buns, making it looks so much like a real pumpkin! Apologise for not showing the interior of the buns because got so busy with CNY preparations...haiz. Just trust me this is really soft and delicious! 

Do try and let me know how you like it! Have fun baking...always. :)