Saturday, March 28, 2015

Honey and Dried Fruit Loaf

A simple fruity loaf, which is made into two small mini loaves. This bread uses the sponge dough method, and it gives a soft crumb texture. Any dried fruits can be used, here I have used dried cranberries, dried apricots and raisins. The dried fruits are first soaked in water or rum till soft and plump, then drain and dab with kitchen towel to dry them well.



Ingredients for the sponge dough is mixed and left to ferment for 2 hours. Then the ingredients for the main dough is mixed with the sponge dough which is cut into small pieces. Butter is added and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Flatten the dough on a work surface, scatter the dried fruits and gently knead them in till evenly distributed into the dough. Roll into a ball, place in greased bowl, covered with greased cling wrap and left in a warm place to rise till doubled in size. Punch dough down and divide into two equal portions. Cover with cling wrap to let dough relax for 10 minutes. Roll each round to a rectangle, roughly to the length of the loaf pan, roll them up Swiss-roll style and place in the loaf pans, with the seams facing down. Cover with greased cling wrap and leave to rise till doubled in size. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. The top tends to get brown rather quick as this bread has honey, so tent the top with foil if the top is browning too fast.



This fruity loaf is lovely when eaten on the day it is baked. It has a soft and moist crumbs. On the next day, the crumb is not as soft but is still quite nice to eat with a cup of coffee or tea. I was sort of expecting a sweeter taste to this bread, but to my surprise, there's not a hint of sweetness at all. The next time, I would add some sugar, maybe about 1-2 tablespoons and a pinch of salt to the dough, as I feel that it needs it. 





Honey and Dried Fruit Loaf
(adapted from : "Bread of Water-roux, Sponge-dough and Old-dough Methods", by Debbie)
Sponge Dough :
200gm bread flour
4gm fast-action dried yeast
30gm egg
95gm milk

Main Dough :
100gm bread flour
45gm honey
30gm butter
45gm water

Filling :
30gm dried cranberries
70gm dried figs (I replaced with black raisins)
45gm dried apricots

  1. For the filling : Cut the dried fruits into large dices. Soak the diced fruits in warm water or rum until soft. Strain before use, dab dry with kitchen towel.
  2. To mix the sponge dough : Mix all sponge dough ingredients and knead until the dough is shiny and smooth. Put into a mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours for fermentation. Put the dough on a counter top and cut into small pieces.
  3. Put pieces of sponge dough and main dough ingredients (except butter) into a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon.
  4. Turn mixture onto a counter top and knead with hands until combined.
  5. Add butter and knead until thin membrane formed.
  6. Press the dough flat with your hands. Spread with the filling and knead until the fillings are evenly distributed.
  7. Roll the dough into a round. Place into a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set aside for about 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  8. Test the dough with a finger ; punch a hole at the center of the dough and if it just shrinks slightly, the fermentation has finished.
  9. Turn the dough out to a counter top and press flat with hands to remove air. Divide into 2 equal portions,
  10. Roll each portion into a round. Cover with cling wrap and set aside for 10 minutes to let it relax.
  11. Have ready two greased loaf pans ; size 16x9x6-cm. Roll the dough with a rolling pin into rectangular shape, roughly the length of the pan. Roll the dough Swiss-roll style.
  12. Place the dough, seam-side down into the greased pans, cover with greased cling wrap and set aside for 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  13. Bake in a 190C preheated oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Since there is honey in the dough, its surface tends to turn brown rather quickly. Cover the top with foil when the top is browning too fast.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sea Bass with Lebanese Herb Sauce

"March  Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For our Potluck week, we are free to cook with any of our featured chefs at IHCC. And I've chosen to cook with Diana Henry, the current featured chef. We only have one more week to go, before we start with the next selected chef, Jacques Pepin, on April 6th.

Back in November, I have made one of Diana Henry's fish recipe, Spanish Baked Fish, and it was so good that I've made it one more time after that. Even now, I have a large piece of sea bass in my freezer, as I'm planning to make it again sometime this week. Yes, we love this dish a lot!

Diana Henry has quite a collection of interesting fish recipes. And this Sea Bass with Lebanese Herb Sauce is one of them. Seeing how much my family love her Spanish Baked Fish, I decided to try this recipe for dinner. Well, just as I've expected, this is a delicious dish.



Another quick and easy dish to cook. The sea bass is cleaned, gutted, scaled and make three slashes on each side of the fish. Brush the inside and out with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in a roasting pan and bake 8 minutes, for a small fish. The sea bass I used is quite large, so I baked it for about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cilantro and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked. Serve it immediately with the herb sauce.




For the herb sauce, I made some adjustments to the quantity of the herbs. Diana Henry has used a tablespoon each of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fresh mint leaves, and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro. I know that my family loves more sauces in just about anything! So I have used more than the recipe calls for, about half a cup of flat-leaf parsley, a quarter cup of mint leaves and a whole cup of chopped fresh cilantro. Everything goes into the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients, except the chopped fresh chilli which is to be added just before serving. Another adjustment I made was, to reduce the amount of olive oil from 1 cup to 1/3 cup and I feel that it was enough. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Pour into a bowl, add in the chopped fresh chilli and serve immediately with the baked fish.




A very tasty dish. I'm so glad I've made more sauce! Very good eaten with the tender and flaky fish! I asked my family which fish dish they prefer, the Spanish Baked Fish or this? According to them both are delicious, but they would not mind having the Spanish Baked Fish again. Obviously they have a favourite! :)
My daughter seems to love this herby sauce. She says it is really delicious eaten with white rice, and she is right!


Sea Bass with Lebanese Herb Sauce
(adapted from "Pure Simple Cooking", Diana Henry)
Serves 4
4 (10-oz) whole sea bass or porgy, gutted, trimmed and scaled
olive oil
salt and pepper
1-1/2 tsp each of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and cilantro (I've used more!)

Sauce :
1 cup extra-virgin oil (I use about 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp superfine sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley  (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (about 1 cup)
1 medium fresh red chile, halved, seeded, and chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Make three slashes on each side of each fish. Brush the fish inside and out with olive oil and season with salt and pepper all over. Put into an ovenproof dish or roasting pan and bake for 8 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and cilantro. Bake for 5 minutes. The fish is cooked when the flesh near the bone is white and opaque.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the sauce, except the chile, into a blender and puree. Taste for seasoning, then add the chopped chile. Serve the fish immediately with the sauce.


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "March Potluck"




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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars : TWD

This week at Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD), we are baking Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars, from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. 


These bars has a thin chewy cookie base, spread with melted chocolate and topped with Rice Krispies. Dorie has given a few ideas for the topping, if using Rice Krispies, it can be used plain, direct from the box or can be made extra special by caramelizing the Rice Krispies and pressing the brittle-like bits into the chocolate. Other suggestions for the topping are popcorns, mixed nuts, dried fruits, flaked coconuts and even slivers of Orange Candied Peel. I was feeling kinda lazy and decided to just use the Rice Krispies direct from the box. Well, Dorie did say that she sometimes use it straight from the box!



Firstly the dough is made by creaming butter and sugar till light and fluffy, Add vanilla and flour, and mix till completely incorporated. Scrape the sticky dough into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly, as Dorie says it will be very sticky. I used the spatula and it works out fine. Bake in a preheated oven at 375F until it has puff and is golden brown. I baked mine for exactly 22 minutes, just as instructed in the recipe.



Remove the pan from the oven and immediately scatter chopped chocolate bits all over. Return the pan to the oven with the oven turned off and allow the chocolate to soften in the heat for about a minute or two. Remove the pan from the oven and use the back of a spoon to press the softened bits of chocolate and spread it evenly all over the base. Scatter the Rice Krispies all over, pressing them into the chocolate. Allow to cool to room temperature. Again, just as Dorie says, the chocolate would still be runny and it would probably not set by then. Dorie advised to put the pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set it in, and that was what I did. 



Slice the bars into 16 pieces. These bars are easy to slice.



These bars are wonderful, makes a fun snack! The bottom base is a little crumbly, tender and buttery! I did reduce the sugar just a little, and the sweetness was just right, works out great with the melted chocolate and the crispy Rice Krispies. The next time, I would make the caramelized Rice Krispies, as I think that it would be even more yummier! And I am already thinking of making this again with other toppings! I'm thinking of toasted flaked coconuts which is one of my favourite ingredients!



Yum! Yum! Thumbs up from the kids! I store them in a container and place in the refrigerator as the chocolate starts to melt when I left them at room temperature. But I have no problem with that, these bars taste so much better when eaten cold, straight out of the refrigerator! 


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