Osmanthus & Pomegranate Jellies

Dried osmanthus flowers is a chinese medicinal herb that’s believed to have excellent antioxidant properties and, more importantly- it improves complexion! I love the beautiful tiny blossoms, it’s peachy fragrance and delicate bittersweet and floral flavour. I used them to make a simple osmanthus tea and pomegranate jelly sweetened with plenty of honey. I’d recommend more honey than you’d think, the sweetness dials down when the jellies are chilled.

300ml water

1 tablespoon dried osmanthus flowers (or to taste)

3 tablespoons honey (to taste)

2 1/2 teaspoon gelatin, bloomed in 30ml c0ld water

seeds from 1 small pomegranate

Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and add the osmanthus flowers. Let it steep for 5 minutes then add then honey and gelatin. Divide into small glasses and sprinkle in the pomegranate seeds. Chill in the fridge until set, about 2 hours.

Milk Bread

Making bread makes me nostalgic. I miss the days when we’d binge on whatever bread I made that day way too late at night while watching TV or playing PS3. I haven’t made bread at all since I came back, just because it’s not something I’d make for myself- eating homemade bread is a group activity!

But today just felt like a bread day, so I made the milk roux and got the yeast going. I didn’t have enough bread flour on hand so I had to use some plain flour too. It definitely makes a difference, today’s loaf was noticeably less fluffy and “stretchy”. But an ok loaf anyway- good enough for toast.

I love this particular bread dough, it’s so supple and silky and soft. Very soft in fact, for a bread dough- a stand mixer would very much come in handy for this recipe. You can make it by hand, just expect to knead for a while! It’s down to all the milk, butter and eggs in the recipe. You’ll know you’ve kneaded enough when it passes the windowpane test (3rd gif). It’s when you can almost see through it when you stretch it, and when it does break, it breaks in a neat circle.

Recipe is from here, as always. I omitted the milk powder and replaced it with about 2 tablespoons of whipping cream instead. It’s very versatile, I’ve added white chocolate, matcha, black sesame, cheddar cheese, cinnamon sugar and steamed pumpkin in separate occasions before and they all turned out fine.

 

Salted Caramel Brownie

Neat brownies makes me suspicious. For me, brownies should be so fudgy and squidgy that it’s almost impossible to cut neatly. There’s nothing more disappointing than a brownie that’s more like dense cake! The ideal brownie (for me) should have a shiny, crinkly surface, is super chocolatey and squidgy.

There are millions of recipes out there for brownies and trust me, I’ve tried many. Some calls for all cocoa powder and others for just melted chocolate. From my numerous brownie trial and errors I’ve discovered that brownies that’s made mostly with melted chocolate, but with some chocolate chunks and cocoa powder, has the best texture and flavour. Chocolate has a chocolatier (I dunno..) and sweeter flavour compared to cocoa powder, which lends the brownies a nice bit of bitterness, a satisfying chew and a richer brown colour. The quality and cocoa content of the chocolate is also definitely important. For my brownies, I use 70% cocoa Belgian chocolate.

Then, there’s the technique. Most recipes have the butter and chocolate melted together but a few follow the usual creaming method. I prefer to use the latter method, the important part is to keep beating the eggs, sugar, and butter mixture for a long time until it’s airy, silky and light. This helps to develop the crinkly top and somehow I just find brownies made this way to be fudgier. Maybe because the brownies rise in the oven from all that trapped air but collapse when you remove it from the oven and all the yummy gooeyness condense into a thick, squidgy layer.

I don’t mind nuts in brownies but most of the times I omit them, mainly because I’m indifferent either way so why waste nuts? For the last few batches I’ve drizzled some salted caramel on before baking. The caramel bubbles and semi-dissolves into the brownie batter leaving extra chewy craters. It doesn’t add too much in terms of flavour but I like the chewy gooey texture it lends.

 

Carrot Cake

I’ve written about these carrot cakes before over a year ago here. It’s still my favourite recipe for carrot cake; always consistently moist, not too sweet, and subtly spicy. I’ve made them even tinier this time around for a special order and decided that the drippy icing would make transporting the cakes a bit of a messy ordeal so instead of thinning the icing with milk I just piped the thick icing on in spaghetti-like squiggles with a #2 piping tip. It’ll help if the icing is not fridge cold, it’ll be nearly impossible to squeeze it out of the tiny tip and you’ll end up with a sore wrist and a burst piping bag. Lesson learnt.

I used my favourite combination of sprinkles- toasted coconut, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and toasted nibbed almonds. It gives just the right amount of crunch and nuttiness.