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!

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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. 😀


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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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