Baking Galore

August 6, 2010 § 29 Comments

It’s really nice to be at home, not only because I won’t have to take as much care of myself (:mrgreen:), I can go to bed at whatever hour that pleases me, which is in my case, 10 pm. I find that 10pm-6am is the optimal hours of sleep for me, as I feel the most rested if I sleep at these hours. Any other hours, 11pm-7am, midnight-8am, or 9pm-5am, won’t do. Although they are all full 8 hours, for some reason my body seems to like 10pm-6am the most.

Tea eggs. Your typical hard-boiled eggs which are then let simmered in a pot full of spices, soy sauce, and black tea leaves.

According to Ayurveda, each person has his/her own optimal sleep hours. Being a kapha myself, my optimal sleep hours are, well whaddya know, 10pm-6am. While others may benefit more by sleeping later and waking up later, this is what is right for me.

+ Do you have “optimal sleeping hours”?

The "marbled" stripes come from the intentional cracks in the eggs when they are marinating in the spiced fluid for the flavors to seep in.

And of course, home, Taiwan, means glorious food.

Can you believe you can get this delicacy at our local 7-eleven? True story.

A plate of goodies.

Mixed variety of sea kelp salad with Japanese sesame dressing.

Cold bamboo shoots.

Chinese-style cucumber salad with garlic.

And let’s not forget that I can bake, bake, and bake!

~~~

WARNING: The following contents may not be suitable for readers who are prone to excessive drooling, munchie attacks, or addiction to sweets.

Baking #1: Simple Biscotti

Biscotti (pronounced /bɪˈskɒti/, Italian pronunciation: [bisˈkɔtti]) more correctly known as biscotti del PratoEnglish: biscuits of Prato), also known as cantuccini (English: corners), are a twice-baked cake originating in the Italian city of Prato. The cakes are large almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven. [Source: Wikipedia]

  • 65 g (~5 Tbsp) Dark brown sugar
  • 70 g (~5 Tbsp) Light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 30 g (~2 Tbsp) butter
  • 2 tsp Brandy (or other similar liquor)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 360 g (~3 cups) All-purpose flour
  • 2 g (~1/2 tsp) baking powder
  • 2 g (~1/2 tsp) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 160 g (~2/3 cup )mixed unsalted nuts

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Using electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugars for about 2 minutes until slightly goopy.

Add melted butter, the brandy, and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Sift together (optional, but makes for finer powder) flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the egg mixture. Mix till just combined.

Then mix in the nuts.

Now comes the sticky part. Put a good amount of flour on your hands and on a flat surface. Transfer half the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and shape into a long, flat rectangular (less than half an inch in height). If your oven and baking sheet are big enough, you can put the other half onto the sheet as well.

Bake at 320 degrees for 20 minutes. The results will be bread-like.

When cool enough, cut the “bread” into about half an inch thickness.

Lay them down on a side. They can be touching each other since they won’t rise anymore. Bake that side at 284 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip to the other side and bake another 10 minutes. Finally, stand them up (as pictured below) and bake for 10 minutes.

These are surprisingly crunchy biscuits–perfect for a light snack or afternoon tea!

Baking #2: Brownies
Adapted from Let’s Dish

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (or more!) walnuts (optional)

I actually doubled this recipe because I was making it for a large crowd.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or line with parchment paper). Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan at low heat, stirring occasionally and making sure the butter doesn’t bubble or overheat. Remove from heat.

Stir in the sugar and vanilla into the melted butter, then quickly whisk in the eggs one at a time.

Pour the butter mixture into the dry mixture. Stir till just combined. If adding nuts, add them in just before everything is well combined, then mix till combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.

You should probably test for doneness at about 20 minutes. Use the toothpick test. The brownie is probably done if the toothpick comes out almost clean, but not quite. Here’s the trick to brownies. If you wait till the toothpick comes out clean, the brownie will become slightly too dry when cooled. It’s better if the inside is still a little gooey so that it becomes the perfect degree of moistness and fudginess when cooled. 😀


~~~

Alot of you seemed to be slightly surprised/confused about the Matcha shaved ice with sweet adzuki beans in my last post.

Matcha is a finely-milled powder used to make Japanese green tea. It has a more intense flavor than your average green tea. Besides making tea, the matcha powder is also widely used in desserts in East Asian cuisines (ice cream, candies, lattes, milkshakes, smoothies, cakes, pudding, mousse, etc, etc, etc!). Matcha also has 137 times the amount of antioxidants than your average green tea.

Matcha in powder form and tea form

Matcha martini!

Matcha truffles

Matcha and sweet adzuki bean Swiss roll

Adzuki beans are commonly slightly sweetened in the East Asian culture, and also often incorporated into desserts (thick jelly, ice cream, candies, red bean soup, and as a complement to the slightly bitter matcha). Sometimes they are boiled with sugar to result in a sweet red bean paste, which is often used as fillings in biscuits, pastries, and baked buns.

raw Adzuki beans

Go figure. Adzuki Kit-Kat!

Adzuki paste for pancake fillings

Matcha ice cream with sweet adzuki beans

Speaking of matcha and adzuki beans, I may or may not have a baking endeavor involving these two in the near future. Stay posted! 😀

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§ 29 Responses to Baking Galore

  • Sweet red beans were in our lunch boxes the other day, and they were AMAZING! Almost as much as was your baking in this post. I just ate breakfast and am already hungry.

    Another amazing thing I had was a taro dumpling. OH. MY. GOD.

  • hmmm…i’m pretty sure your family loves you being home, too, judging by this post 😛 I LOVVVE biscotti. Yours look delicious!

  • Both your biscotti and brownies look AMAZING! I haven’t baked biscotti in years (my first time turned out rock hard but still delicious) but I might need to try your recipe!

    Mmm matcha + adzuki bean is one of my favourite flavour combos ever 🙂 I’m still trying to find matcha for cheap in Asian stores around here, because the fancy schmancy tea shops are charging insane prices for it 😦 I know it’s expensive, but i’m not gonna pay $30 for an amount that would fit in my palm…

  • Kat says:

    Ok seriously the eggs kinda freak me out lol But ummm, wanna send me a goodie package with some baked goods?? 😉 I have been trying and trying to find Matcha so I can make Matcha smoothies, and I can only find it online!! Its so frustrating!!

  • You are quite the conoisseur. Nice job.
    I have a very hard time sleeping actually…hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up.

  • kbwood says:

    you ARE the baking queen!!! I love love love biscotti! YUM

  • I’m a 10-6 kind of girl, too 🙂 It’s weird because I used to be the complete opposite… I used to stay up until about 2 or 3 and sleep until 10 whenever I could, but these days, I feel soooo much better when I’m in bed by 10 and up by 6. My body just loves it, and I don’t even have to use an alarm clock to wake up… and let me tell ya, it’s wonderful to wake up naturally instead of by some annoying buzzer.

    But now, on to more important matters. Ooooomigosh biscotti and brownies! I’ve never actually made biscotti before, and it’s been forever since I made brownies. I’ve been sticking to loafs, muffins, and cookies lately… But you’ve definitely awakened the baking beastie in me, and I might just have to start doing a bit more experimenting 🙂

  • Those eggs look so cool!

    If I have optimal sleeping hours, I certainly haven’t discovered them… at least, I hope I haven’t, because if I have, I am doomed.

    ❤ ❤

  • Wei-Wei says:

    Biscottiiiiiiiii! I love love love it. I think it was one of the first things I baked when I started seriously baking. My dad brought me back matcha from Japan, but I haven’t opened it yet because I don’t know what to do with it! Any ideas?! Maybe I’ll bake what you bake next, heh.

    Wei-Wei

  • kaztronomic says:

    Everything looks so delicious! I’m really excited about whatever adzuki/matcha recipe you may have for us. 😀

    I’ve recently learned more about the Ayurvedic body types, and find it so fascinating. Where did you learn about your optimal sleep? I’ve struggled with insomnia for such a long time, and I just learned that I’m a Vata, so maybe I’m doing something wrong? Do you have something you can suggest that I read? =)

    • i learned about my sleep patterns through trial and error :D. i always feel tired and drained if i sleep any other way.

      as for ayurveda, i’ve just begun to read more about it myself. mostly i’ve been reading stuff online, but i’m currently looking on amazon to see what good books they have. Katharina (http://ohonemorething.wordpress.com/) is also reading up some stuff about Ayurveda. she seems to know more than i do!

  • brandi says:

    your brownies look killer! and I’ve never made biscotti, but I want to.

  • Marina says:

    I think I’m also 10-6 girl. Although, I like to stay up late, but I never can manage to sleep in a bit later.
    Love all the baking! I would sooo like to have a bite of that brownies!

  • chelsey says:

    i am back!!! thanks for the comment about the wedding – it was a blast!!!

  • Megan says:

    I have never heard of tea eggs! And WOW, those brownies look absolutely amazing. My sister baked some last night but they did not turn out looking that yummy! Don’t tell her I said that though! Haha I’ve also been hearing a lot about matcha and can’t wait to try it.

  • Thanks for explaining the matcha ice. I always knew matcha had something to do with tea, but was clueless beyond that. I also had no idea sweet bean paste was made from adzukis – they’re my favorite bean!

    Your biscotti look super professional, girl!

  • highonhealthy says:

    I have the same optimal sleeping times as you! Nothing feels as satisfying for me as going to bed by 10 and waking up at 6. I love how refreshed I feel when I make those my hours of choice for sleeping.

    Adzuki beans sound like my kind of thing and you know.. I believe I have some in my cupboard. I randomly bought them one day and they have just been sitting my cupboard for about 2 months now. Maybe I should test them out. 😀

  • Your biscotti and brownies look so good! I’ve never had biscotti though because of my allerg, and for some reason I’ve never thought of making my own. I’m definitely going to give your recipe a try! 😀

  • we’re on the same sleep schedule! wow thats really weird and cool ❤
    and i think we have the same taste buds as well. omg brownies and biscotti, both of which are oozing deliciousness onto my screen!! ❤ ❤

  • Gail says:

    Your brownies look amazinggg. And I can’t wait to see what you make with matcha & adzuki beans (I know them as red beans – I didn’t even know adzuki was the proper name for them)! Anything involving either of those is delicious! Red bean matcha mochi sounds reeeeally good right about now… omg.

  • Run Sarah says:

    Your baked goods look awesome! My favourite sleeping time is 11pm-7am but lately I’ve been working on the 10pm-6am switch!

  • mysweetseason says:

    Ooo I love biscotti! I’ve never made my own but you’re seriously tempting me 🙂

    I like to sleep from 9pm – 5am haha I’m such an early bird! I love waking up supah early and doing yoga or running into the sunrise 😀

    Oh my my I love green tea ice cream with red bean on top! Soooooo unbelievably good!

  • So many amazing ideas! I really like your biscottis.
    My sleep is a mess. I like to sleep around 11 but in Greece everyone sleeps after midnight. And this makes me feel tired all the time!

  • I love biscotti’s!! They’re so perfect with tea or coffee, and I love how crunchy they get. This recipe sounds perfect. 😀

  • Britta says:

    I was just in Japan and was obbseeessed with the matcha!!! Pleeaaaassee tell us how to make it!!

    And adorable site by the way 😀 I’m adding you to my google reader right now!

  • […] having some baking mishaps. I mistakenly added lemon extract instead of vanilla extract into the brownie batter. Cut me some slack, ’cause these two bottles look exactly the same, and when […]

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