Pumpkin Buns

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I only started watching Korean drama last month.  It was more like “companionship tv-watching”.  I watch it to keep my daily guests company.

There’s this particular series where a girl works for a grouchy baker who makes wonderful pumpkin bread.  After a few episodes, I felt like I needed to get my hands on some pumpkin bread!  And you know me.  Won’t occur to me to go out and search for pumpkin bread.  Instead I searched for pumpkins!

My foray into pumpkins ended about 20 years when I broke 2 knives trying to cut open an acorn squash.  Of course those were cheap knives.  But, you know, these days the grocery stores sell them in pieces.  It’s much easier to cut them when they are already cut open.  So I just peel it and cut it into smallish cubes just so that it will steam up faster.  It’s ready when it crumbles under my potato masher.  Then add it into my bread dough.  It’s not difficult.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier.  Now I’m making up for lost time.

Oh ya, this is a no-knead bread recipe.

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Before baking

 

Butter Bomb Pumpkin Buns (updated)

300g fresh pumpkin (steamed and mashed)

1 cup water

1 tsp instant yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

about  3.5 cups plain flour

about 3 tbsp soft butter or oil

Topping: little bits of butter and sugar

extra butter to oil your hands

In a large mixing bowl, put in water, sugar, salt, yeast, mashed pumpkin.  Using your hands, mix in enough flour to get a soft and slighty tacky dough.  Next, add in the butter/oil and mix until the dough is slighty just about to get sticky.  Stop right there.  You should have a soft, pillowy dough now.  Cover and leave it in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Divide into 15 pieces and roll into smooth balls and place on well-buttered cookie sheet.  If your dough is sticky, please don’t add more flour. Just Oil your hands with butter. 😋Using your thumb, make thumbprints on each dough.  Fill up the thumbprints with a little knob of butter and sugar.  Leave it to proof for another 15 to 30 min, depending on how warm your place is (my room temperature is about 29c).  Mine was almost ready to go when I was done filling up my thumbprints with butter and sugar.

No need to preheat the oven.  Bake at about 160c for about 20 min.

Please let it cool a bit before eating.  Although I can’t imagine why, it’s better when it’s not burning hot.

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Croutons

What does one do with all that bread? Sometimes I end up with more bread than we can eat in a day or two.  I don’t enjoy stale bread. Nor bread and butter pudding. Sometimes I’ll make French toast or freeze the bread.

Then my good friend from San Diego gave me a great idea. Make croutons, she said. No recipe. Just toss with some fat and flavoring/aromatics, bake it in the oven at low temperature till crunchy.

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In this case, I cut my cranberry focaccia into cubes and tossed them in about a tbsp of melted ghee and some sugar. Then I spread them out on a cookie sheet and baked them at about 140c for about 15 min or until they are dry and crunchy and yummy! Just eat it on its own.

The possibilities are endless.  If you like savoury croutons, you can try a simple garlic and butter croutons, or rosemary and garlic with extra virgin olive oil.  I have a sweet tooth, so I prefer sweet croutons.  I would use raisin bread, or some other kind of sweet bread. Once I spread some chocolate hazelnut spread on the bread, cut into cubes and toast. It was sooo amazing! None of us could stop eating it!

The Kids brought them to school today for recess and it was a hit with their friends as well.  In the next few days, I’ll probably be very busy making lots of bread so that we’ll have extra to make all kinds of croutons for Monday. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Buns

I haven’t had Brown n Serve rolls since 2007. I love those for their pillowy soft yumminess. I can eat a lot of butter with those. A Lot.

Recently, I was reminded of them again when I made sweet potato buns. I haven’t had Brown n Serve for so long that I can’t recall the exact taste. But if I were to compare, this sweet potato bun is it. Maybe better. 😁

This is my favorite easy no-knead bread recipe which I use all the time. It’s easy coz I took out all the lengthy steps like kneading and egg-washing the buns for the healthy tan look. Not necessary.  It’s so simple that these days, I don’t even measure the flour anymore. Just measure the liquid. Then put in enough flour to form a nice slightly tacky dough. It’s that forgiving.

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Sweet Potato Buns

1 cup hand-warm water

150g boiled sweet potato (yellow Indonesian honey type)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp yeast

2 cups plain flour

1 cup bread flour (hold back the last 1/4 cup in case not needed)

2 tbsp butter/oil

Mix everything together by hand in a large bowl, holding back the last 1/4 cup, only adding if dough is too sticky. Dough will be tacky. When dough is well mixed, cover and leave in a warm place for about 60 min or until dough has more or less doubled.  Divide dough into 12 buns and place on greased/lined cookie sheet.  Let it proof a second time for 20-30 min. Then bake at 180c for about 15-20 min.  Do not over bake. Buns will look light and you may start to doubt if they are cooked.  I doubt it every time and every time, they are perfect. Soft and chewy and pillowy.  Just wonderful. It’s my kryptonite.

Variations: Raisins, cranberries, nuts, chocolate chips, poppy seeds, sesame seeds etc may be added to the dough after the 1st rise.  These can be made into hamburger buns.  Just make them bigger. They can be stuffed as well. With curry chicken (my fav), lotus paste, red bean paste, hot dogs, luncheon meat. You are only limited by your imagination.

Pizza

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I was in a hurry. It was already 6 pm. It’s actually dinner time but since the guys were not home yet, I was dilly dallying. When I opened the fridge, it seemed everything was pointing towards pizza. So I decided to make a speedy pizza. Speedza. 😁

Usually when I make yeasted bread, if I have lotsa time, I would cut down on the yeast to about 1 tsp. Then I would give it a longer time to proof. This gives your bread a more developed flavor.  If I have less time, I would then provide a more encouraging environment for the yeast. First, I would use more yeast. Second, use more sugar. Third, give the yeast a nice warm start and a nice warm environment to work its magic. For that, I would use warm water and provide a warm water bath.

By doing these 3 things, I can get the pizza out in about an hour, as opposed to 2-3 hours.

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Speedza (serves 4, with leftovers😉)

1 cup warm water (like bath temperature.)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil  + more for drizzling and oiling

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1.5-2 tbsp yeast

1 cup plain flour

2 cups *bread flour

Basic Fixings:

Bottled spaghetti sauce, mozarella cheese

Optional fixings: olives, ham, luncheon meat aka Spam, bak kwa, mushrooms, broccoli, tuna, sardines, whatever.

Put all the ingredients for the dough into a big mixing bowl and mix together by hand till they are more or less well combined (about 20 sec). Leave it to rise in a warm place for about 20 min or less (I just sit the mixing bowl in warm water). Dough is ready when doubled in size.

Generously oil a cookie sheet with evoo. Stretch out dough on the cookie sheet. Drizzle more evoo on the dough. Spread warm spaghetti sauce on top, followed by whatever you have. Lastly, top with cheese.

Leave it for about 10 min in a warm place to proof. Then pop it into a #cold oven and bake for 20 min at 180c.

This recipe makes quite a lot for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids (under 12). I usually cut it up into 8 generous portions, half for now and the other half for breakfast tomorrow. It keeps well in the fridge. Before eating, just warm it up in the oven.  Cook once, eat twice. Perfecto!

N/B The proofing time is an estimate. When the weather is cooler, it will take a longer time. When it is warmer, proofing will be faster. But nothing to fret over about. Hard to go wrong.

* hold back the last 1/4 cup of flour to see if the dough needs it. It is easier to add flour to a too wet dough than water to dry dough.

#cold oven because it is not necessary to warm up the oven for bread. And it saves one step. 😜

Olive olives


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There aren’t that many olive lovers here. To date, I only know 4- me, my 2 kids and DH. And so far, I have only fed them black and green olives. Haven’t bought them the fancy ones yet. They are still quite happy with the cheapo black bottled olives. So am I.

We love them as tapenade, with pasta, pizza, focaccia, fried rice… Every way is a favorite way to eat olives.   I buy the biggest bottle (of coz!) from Mustafa and I use them really liberally.

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My focaccia recipe is an easy no-knead version. It’s fool-proof. What can go wrong? Only if you leave it to proof for hours and hours, with the misconception that the longer the better. And if you bake it for too long in the oven.

No-knead Focaccia Bread

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1-2 tsp instant yeast

1 cup plain flour

2 cups bread flour

2 tbsp #extra virgin olive oil (evoo) (to go into the dough)

extra evoo for drizzling and greasing

Put everything together in a large bowl. Stir till everything comes together to form a dough. If it is too tacky, add in a little extra flour. It’s ok if it’s a little sticky coz you will be oiling it later. Leave it to rise for about an hour. It is ready when it has roughly doubled its size.

On a large cookie sheet, generously coat the bottom of the pan with evoo. Punch the risen dough down. Pour the whole dough onto the pan and flatten it on the oiled sheet with your hands. Drizzle more evoo on top of the dough. Then stud the whole thing with olives. Press down the olives into the dough. Fresh herbs are optional. If you like basil, you may press the basil leaves into the dough as well. Proof it again for about 1/2 hour or until it looks puffed up. Bake in a *cold oven set at 180c for about 20 min or until golden brown.

Eat it as it is or stuffed with ham and cheese.

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#it is important to use evoo for good flavor. I once used regular oil and the difference in flavor is vast

*baking in a cold oven helps simplify things. Pop it in, turn on oven and walk away. It doesn’t harm the bread dough. Please do note that this doesn’t work for cakes.