Focaccia Bread

Sorry for the really really long hiatus ): My family is without a helper right now so I’ve been busy doing house chores and cooking the meals. It’s been super tiring cooking most of the meals and running around, so much so that I can see why being a housewife is a legit job all by itself. Hats off to all stay home moms!! On the bright side, I’ve been learning chinese cooking from my mother and trying out new recipes! I now pride myself in ‘marriage worthy veggies’, knowing how to stir fry my chinese vegetables and turning purple cabbage edible. More on my veggies later 🙂

Also my 21st birthday just passed so I was a bit busy preparing my food for my party. It was a two day baking fiesta, consisting of carrot cake, lemon cake, earl grey tea cake, chocolate chip cookies and pizza. Decided to treat my friends to all my home baked stuff to show my appreciation for their wonderful presence in my life :))

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Thank God for my mother and D for being kitchen assistants 🙂 Also, D came up with a super awesome drink combination of sprite, lemon and mint. Try it out if you need respite on a sweltering hot day (which means tomorrow).

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Anyway!
Today’s post is on an amazing focaccia bread that I made for my family for lunch. I was a bit fearful and skeptical about how it would turn out because I never ever had affinity with bread making. But this bread is soft and pillowy. Topping it off with roasted garlic and onions made it perfect 🙂 Can’t wait to make this more often just that I’m not really in the mood of cleaning up ten million baking equipment right now hahah but do try this out if you love bread and have lots of time to spare, waiting for bread to rise. It’s worth the wait.

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Focaccia Bread
from Epicurious
40cm x 30cm focaccia bread

Ingredients
350ml cold water
20g instant dry yeast
625g plain flour
13g salt
70ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing

Directions
1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.
2. With a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. Turn up the speed by 1 level and kneed for another 10 minutes until dough is smooth.
3. Transfer dough into a lightly greased mixing dough and cover loosely with a cling wrap. Wait for the dough to double, approximately for 1 hour.
4. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Punch down and flatten onto lightly greased baking tray. Spread till approximately 40cm x 30cm, not taller than 1/2 inch.
5. Brush with olive oil and proof for another 15 minutes.
6. Place desired toppings on dough and proof for another 20 minutes.
7. Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and brush with olive oil. Cool before serving.

Shakshuka & Pita Bread

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I always wanted to try making this dish after spotting it at Habitat Coffee but I was missing a key ingredient, Harissa paste. To all Singaporeans, here’s the great news. I found it. The all important, life-saving Harissa paste. It costs $6.50 for a small bottle and is sold in Marks and Spencer. Don’t underestimate the flavour of this paste because adding that one teaspoon transforms the entire dish. It elevates an Italian-like tomato stew to this most amazing North African dish.

After buying the Harissa paste, there was no more excuse to not make this dish. So I invited Esther over for lunch today and she was just as excited to make this dish as I was 🙂 Thank God she tried Shakshuka before in a cafe so she knew what the ideal taste was. For me, I was just making this dish because it looked amazing. So I had no idea how it was supposed to taste like. But damn, I was blown away by the final product.

541A0740You have to eat this with bread or just something to dip with. We made our own pita breads to go with our Shakshuka. We just went all the way with our exotic theme for lunch. Store bought pita bread simply wasn’t good enough. It had to be handmade. It was my first time making pita bread and I was really excited seeing it poof up though a bit disappointed that it was a tad too hard (perhaps I added a bit too much flour). I especially loved tearing my pita bread apart and stuffing the pocket with egg and tomato 🙂 Quite upset that I’m starting my Atkins diet tomorrow. Bye bye pita pockets with Shakshuka ): 541A0726

Shakshuka
Serves 4

Ingredients
Olive oil
3/4 brown onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons of harissa
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of tumeric
200g of crushed tomatoes
3 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of honey
60g of feta cheese
3 eggs

Directions
1. Heat pan with olive oil and fry the brown onions till translucent.
2. Add the bell peppers and fry till soft.
3. Add in the garlic and fry for another minute.
4. Add the harissa, paprika and tumeric and cook for another minute.
5. Add the crushed canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes and honey and simmer for 20 minutes, reducing it until the sauce is quite thick.
6. Add the feta cheese and stir through. Add salt & pepper to taste.
7. Crack one egg into a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the tomato paste and pour the egg into that well. Repeat with the other 2 eggs.
8. Place a cover on the pan until the egg whites are slightly set but the yolk is still runny.
9. Remove from heat and garnish with Italian parsley!

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Pita Bread
Makes 8 Pitas

Ingredients
1 cup of warm water
1 tbsp of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

Directions
1. Mix warm water, sugar and baking yeast in a bowl. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes until it has frothed up.
2. Pour the flour and salt into another bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and using your hands, slowly mix the flour into the yeast mixture.
3. Sprinkle a little flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside the oiled bowl. Let it rest for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
5. Heat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius with the baking tray in the oven.
6. Roll out the dough into the size you want, making sure its at least half an inch thick so that it can puff up.
7. Place the pita bread onto the baking tray and watch it magically puff up! 🙂 The pita is done when it is fully puffed up, about 2 minutes.

Banana Buttermilk Bread

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I was so blown away by the banana bread at The Lokal that I promised myself to recreate it. Soft, moist banana bread, swimming in a swirl of homemade yogurt, topped with caramelised bananas and toasted hazelnuts; it sounded easier to try to bake it than to take a MRT down to Outram and walk to The Lokal under the hot sun. So, here’s my attempt at banana bread and I think I can skip the trip down from now onwards.

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I only decided to bake this bread at the last minute so I ended up with not very ripe bananas. Here’s a tip if you find yourself in my situation, bake the bananas at 120 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. The skin will turn black but the insides will be ripe and sweet! Other than the trouble of finding ripe bananas, the rest of the steps are super easy. Just mix everything together and tadah, you get a beautiful loaf of moist banana bread 🙂

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Ingredients
5 medium bananas, very ripe
150g vegetable oil
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp dark rum
2 eggs
75g buttermilk
210g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp molasses

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Butter and line your loaf tin with baking paper.
3. Mash the bananas.
4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, vanilla, rum, eggs and buttermilk.
5. Add the mashed banana and set aside.
6. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
7. Fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture until just combined and pour into your prepared tin.
8. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

White Bread

Bread

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Remember how I discovered the magical powers of my Kenwood mixer? I used them in making two loaves of white bread which turned out a bit too chewy for my liking perhaps because of over mixing. Making bread is an art to perfect although I don’t quite see how you can screw this recipe up that bad, so I can ensure you that you will get two edible crusty white loaves if you use this recipe. Have fun watching yeast, water and flour turn into breakfast 🙂

From joythebaker
Ingredients

4 cups bread flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of warm water

Directions

1. In your electric mixer bowl, place 3 3/4 cup of bread flour. Place the yeast on one side and salt on the opposite side. Pour the water into the middle.
2. Using the paddle attachment, mix it until it appears just mixed.
3. Change to the dough attachment, mix on medium speed for 2 min.
4. Stop and rest the dough for 5 min.
5. Mix again for 3 min.
6. With the remaining 1/4 cup of bread flour, hand knead dough until it is smooth and satiny. Shape into ball.
7. Place into oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and place in a warm area. Let it rest for 90 minutes until it doubles.
8. Remove from bowl, punch down and form a ball again. Return to bowl and cover for 30 minutes.
9. Remove from bowl onto well floured surface, cut into 2 pieces and shape each piece into balls. 10. Leave to rest under damp cloth for 30 to 45 minutes
11. In the last 20 minutes, preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius. Place two trays in the oven to preheat, one at the most bottom shelf.
12. Place bread onto tray and slash a ‘x’ onto the bread to let the bread rise.
13. Add water to the bottom tray so that steam is produced to create a crispy crust.
14. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy 🙂