Archive of ‘Baking’ category

Single Serve Vanilla Cupcakes

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Do you ever get a craving for cupcakes, but can’t commit to the 2 dozen regular batch makes? Here’s my answer. Single serve vanilla cupcakes. By single serve, I mean 2 regular size or 3 smaller sized cupcakes. Lets be real. Nobody eats ONE cupcake. That’s ridiculous.

I went Googling for some recipes and found a few I combined into this one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 flour
  • 1/4 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp whole milk

Non-Food Things:

  • Cupcake liners
  • Loaf pan/ baking sheet
  • Measuring cups and spoons

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Some recipes said this is a one-bowl recipe. Lies. If you’re melting butter, last, there goes your one bowl. I am all about actually sticking to one bowl. If I’m not creating a whole bunch of dirty dishes, I wash by hand and want to wash as little as possible. That said, start by putting melting the butter in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds on high to melt the butter. Once it comes out, set it aside to cool for a few minutes or if you’re impatient like me, stir it around a bit to cool it faster.

Next, I added the sugar and egg white. and mixed it up with a fork. If you add the egg white before the butter has sufficiently cooled, you’re going to have scrambled egg whites. Don’t do that.

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A note on the sugar: I keep some vanilla sugar around because I LOVE vanilla. WAY more than chocolate. The more vanilla, the better. I keep it in an old Smuckers jar I repurposed (because this is where my mom used to keep the sugar). Its just granulated sugar with some used vanilla pods (vanilla beans scraped out) shoved inside to infuse the sugar. If you don’t have this, regular sugar is fine. It’s just not AS good.

Next, I added vanilla extract. I got mine from Williams Sonoma and its way better than McCormicks stuff you buy at the grocery store. If you’re going to make vanilla cupcakes, use good vanilla.

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Next, I added the flour, baking powder, and salt. Recipes usually tell you to mix this up in a separate bowl, but we’re all about a one-bowl recipe here. Just throw it all in at the same time and mix well.

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Note on the baking powder: The recipe called for a “heaping” 1/4 tsp of baking powder. I thought baking was supposed to be precise. This is how much I used and it worked. I did accidentally use baking soda by accident. That did NOT work. No bueno.

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After I mixed all the dry ingredients into the batter, it was pretty dry. I added the milk and it loosened it up quite a bit.

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I used the same measuring spoon the scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. I got the liners for my birthday in a package of awesome things to use for blogging and things. They’re from Home Goods, but they’re slightly smaller than regular cupcake liners so the recipe makes 3 cupcakes instead of 2 regular sized cupcakes.

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I put the liners into a loaf pan to make transferring them in and out of the oven easier. I made 2 batches, so I have 6 here.

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Bake at 350° for 12-15 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set them aside to cool and frost if you want!

I love cream cheese frosting, so that’s what I used to frost mine before proceeding to devour them all.

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Egg Tarts

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I love going to dim sum, particularly because I can’t wait for dessert: egg tarts (dan ta). I can’t resist the buttery, flaky crust with the sweet jello-y custard filling inside. The worst thing that could ever happen on a trip to dim sum is not getting any egg tarts! Happened to me a few weeks ago, so I started searching for a recipe so I wouldn’t be a slave to weekend dim sum restaurants and the crowds. I made a few adjustments to the recipe I found and here’s what I used:

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour + 1/4 cup for flouring surfaces
  • 1 3/4 Sticks of Cold Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Egg Yolks (egg whites used for custard filling)
  • 1/4 cup  Cold Water

Custard Filling:

  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 Eggs + 2 Egg Whites (egg yolks used in crust)
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Non-Food:

I started with the pastry crust which requires two types of dough, a butter-based dough and a water-based dough. This gives it the layered flaky crust that is SO worth it. To start the butter dough, I cut the cold (super important that its cold!!!) butter into cubes. Sometimes I like to use European butter because its even fattier than regular. I placed that into the food processor with 1 cup of All-Purpose flour and processed until it became a solid pasty mass of goop that somewhat resembled dough.

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I scooped the contents out of the food processor onto plastic wrap and wrapped it up and molded it into a 1- 1-1/2″ square shape and placed it into the fridge to chill for 15 min.

Next, I washed out the food processor to start on the water-based dough. I started by separating two eggs and placing the yolks into the food processor and reserving the whites for the custard filling later. Next, I added 1/4 cup of ice cold water and 1 cup of All-Purpose flour. I processed this until it formed a ball of dough.

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If the dough doesn’t come together and looks like a meal-y texture, add 1/2 a tsp of water at a time until it comes together into a dough. Since the weather here in LA is SUPER dry, I had to add about 2 extra tsp of water.

Once the dough formed, I floured a cutting board to roll out the water-based dough about 1/4″ thick.

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I took the butter-based dough square and placed it in the center of the rolled out water-based dough and folded the sides of the water-based dough around the square, forming a nice little package.

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I turned the folded side down and rolled the whole thing out into a rectangular shape. I folded the dough into thirds to start layering the two different doughs to form the flaky pastry. I placed the folded dough into plastic wrap and placed it into the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

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Note: It is super important to ensure the pastry stays cold, otherwise the layers melt into each other and the dough won’t be flaky anymore!

After 15 minutes in the fridge, I removed the dough and rolled it out again. This time, I folded the two sides of the dough towards the center, then folded the entire thing in half to form 4 layers. I placed the dough back into the plastic wrap and into the fridge for another 15 minutes.

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Next, I removed the dough from the fridge, rolled out the dough, folded the dough into fourths again. I brought the two sides into the center then folded the whole thing in half. I placed the dough back into the fridge to chill for another 15 minutes.

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Note: Make sure to flour the cutting board and rolling pin to make sure the dough doesn’t stick.

After the 15 minute in the fridge, the dough was ready to be rolled out. I took the dough out of the plastic wrap, and rolled it out about 1/4 inch thick. I used a cookie cutter (slightly larger than the egg tart molds) and cut out about 16 circles.

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It pained me to waste all the other dough so I layered the scraps together, rolled it out, and cut out another 4 circles.

I placed each circle into the egg tart mold and pressed gently on the bottoms then slightly on the sides and gently worked the dough up to the edge of the mold.

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To make sure the bottoms stayed flat, I pricked the bottoms with a fork 3 times in each mold.

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Now time for the custard. I started by making some simple syrup. I just used 1/2 cup of hot water and mixed it with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar. I mixed it up until all the sugar was dissolved and set it aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, I cracked 3 eggs and added the reserved egg whites, 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. I mixed it up with a fork (I actually don’t own a regular whisk…), then slowly added the cooled simple syrup mixture.

At this point, I preheated the oven to 400º F.

I poured the mixture through a sieve to make sure there were no lumps. Then I poured the custard mixture into each of the egg tart molds, leaving 1/8″ of room at the top.

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I placed the molds into a cake pan to catch any spills and to easily place the tarts into the oven. You can use a sheet pan as well.

I placed the tarts into the oven and baked for 30 minutes. Bake time can range from 25-30 minutes.

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The egg tarts will be slightly jiggly, but the custard will not stick to your fingers if you touch the surface. Let it cool 2-3 minutes and remove the tarts from the molds to cool on a wire rack. The tarts pop right out of the molds. You saw how much butter went into the crust.

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Serve hot or store in the fridge and bake at 400º for 6-7 minutes before serving.

I had some extra custard left and poured it into a souffle dish and baked it off with the rest of the egg tarts. I found my creme brulee torch and sprinkled some sugar on the custard after it came out of the oven and caramelized the sugar on top. It was SO GOOD.

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Taro Swirl Hokkaido Milk Bread

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I grew up eating Chinese style bakery bread. I actually dislike regular crusty breads. Blech. I like my bread to be lightly sweet and pillowy soft with a slight chew to it. Think King’s Hawaiian bread rolls, but a tiny bit more dense and chewy. I never knew what this type of bread was called Hokkaido milk bread until my recent bread obsession. I found a few recipes for Hokkaido milk bread and mashed them up together to create my own (arguably better) version. The bread by itself is SO GOOD, but my husband LOVES taro so I thought I’d put some in as filling. Instead of having having a big mass of taro paste in the center, I opted to swirl it it in like they do with red bean past at my local Chinese bakery. YUM.

There are 4 parts to the recipe: Taro Paste, Tang Zhong (more on this later), Dough, and Egg wash. Here’s what you’ll need to make my Taro Swirl Hokkaido Milk Bread:

Ingredients:

Taro Paste:

  • 700 g Steamed Taro + 300 ml (about 1 1/3 c) Water
  • 100 g Cake Flour + 80 ml (about 2/3 c) Water
  • 160 g Granulated Sugar (about scant 1/2 c)

Tang Zhong:

  • 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 c Whole Milk
  • 1/3 c Water (or Taro liquid from steaming)

Dough:

  • 800 g (about 5 c) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 c Granulated Sugar
  • 50 g (about 1/2 c) Milk Powder
  • 1/2 c Half and Half
  • 3/4 c Whole Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 tsp Instant Yeast (Bread Maker Yeast)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • All of the Tang Zhong

Egg Wash:

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Tools/Non-Food Things:

  • Stand Mixer, Bowl & Dough Hook Attachment
  • Saucepan
  • Steamer or Make-shift Steamer
  • Oven
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cutting Board/Clean Flat Surface
  • 2 Loaf Pans
  • Knife
  • Chopstick/Skewer
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Optional: Scale

I assemble most of these things simultaneously, but they are timed so that while you’re waiting on one thing, you start putting together the next. So we’ll start with the Taro Paste since this takes the longest. You can also opt out of this part of the recipe and buy some, use canned/store bought red bean paste, or any filling you want instead. Its the most time consuming and when I’m short on time/energy I skip and buy the filling instead.

I buy taro in a vacuum sealed pack from my Asian grocery store. I’m sure you can buy this at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I bought a bunch and threw it in my freezer to use whenever I need it. So I unpacked my giant piece of Taro and put it in my make shift steamer (my wok with a metal tray and bowl on top) and steamed until the taro was cooked through. To test this, you should be able to stab a chopstick or skewer through easily. Its like cooking potatoes. Same deal.

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While the taro was steaming, I started on the Tang Zhong. Directly translated from Chinese to English, it means “soup type”. Basically this is a method to making bread that gives it a soft texture (that stays soft) and has a chewy texture. Exactly the way I like my bread. This method basically cooks part of the flour with a liquid to develop the gluten in the flour to give it the soft and chewy texture. YUM.

To make the Tang Zhong, I throw all the ingredients into a pan and mix it up over medium heat.

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As soon as the mixture starts coming together, I turn the heat off.

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Continue to stir as the mixture turns into a big blob of white goo. This is normal.

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Optional: Instead of using water, for the Tang Zhong, my taro steaming process produced some taro water that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. I used this in lieu of water to infuse more taro flavor into the dough.

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Once this is done, I transfer all of the Tang Zhong into my stand mixing bowl to cool while I gather the rest of the ingredients for the dough. I basically throw everything listed in the ingredients into the bowl in no particular order except that I put in the yeast last.

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I attach the dough hook and set mixer speed to 2 and let it run for 20 min or so until all the dough comes off the side of the bowl. At about the 10 min mark, I’ll scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and turn it back on. Sometimes the goopier parts of the dough gets stuck on the bottom and I want to make sure it all gets mixed in evenly.

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Once this is done, I cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and place it in a warm-ish place. I usually will turn on the oven for 30-60 seconds, turn it off, the set the bowl inside to allow the dough to rise for 1- 1 1/2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

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While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, I continued on the Taro paste. At this point, the Taro was done steaming and I left it out to cool. I measured out 700 g of steamed taro and placed it into my blender with the water and sugar. I blended this quickly for about 15 seconds and poured it out into a saucepan. Next, I mixed the cake flour and water together to form a paste and also poured that into the saucepan.

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I turned on the stove to med heat and mixed all the contents together for 2-3 min before turning the heat down to low. This process is to extract all the water out of the mixture until it turns into taro paste. I continued to stir the mixture every 2-3 min for about 45 min. Takes forever, but this is the time I start cleaning up the huge mess I’ve made up until this point while stirring every 2-3 min. After 45 min, I took the saucepan off the stove and let it cool.

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Around this time, the dough doubled in size and was ready to assemble into the loaf pans. Seeing it double is sooooooooo satisfying.

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I pulled the dough out of the bowl and divided it into 8 pieces. I eyeball this every time. It doesn’t need to be exact, but shouldn’t be glaringly off either. I do this by cutting the dough in half, then cutting each half into 4 equal pieces.

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You can use a rolling pin for this part, but its much easier for me to stretch it out with my hands. I took one piece and stretched it out to about 3″ x 9″. This is very, very, approximate. I just need it to be the right size to swirl enough taro paste inside. Once the dough is stretched out, I spread a 1/4″ layer of taro paste on top.

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Then, I fold the dough in thirds long ways.

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Next, I stretch the dough out in the other direction until its about double in length.

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Then I take one end and roll it up and put it seam side down into the pan.

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Repeat 7 more times until you have 4 rolls in each loaf pan.

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Now, place the loaves back into a warm location to rise for another 20 min. Instead of putting them into the oven to proof, I placed them on top of the stove where its warmish but not hot and preheat the oven to 350°.

While this is going, make the egg wash. I beat one egg with 2 Tbsp of water. This is to keep the tops from turning crusty brown. Once the loaves have risen, I slather the egg wash onto the tops of the loaves with my fingers. I could use a brush, but why?

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Next, I place the loaves into the preheated oven for 35-40 min on the lower middle rack.

After 38 min, I pulled out my loaves and let them cool in the pan on a wire rack before taking them out of the pan and slicing it up to serve. I skip the slicing if I’m giving the loaf to my dad who just rips into it and devours half the loaf in one sitting. Om nom nom nom.

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This is more work than using a regular bread machine but its SO worth it. Promise. You won’t regret it.

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