Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meyer Lemon Tart (2)

I simply cannot resist buying Meyer lemons when I see them on the shelves in the supermarket. Likewise I will not be able to not buy the Yuzus when I see them in the Japanese supermarkets during the seasons. I admit I definitely have a penchant for citrus fruits and I will try to make them into desserts of all kinds since I cannot eat certain ones straight. But these are actually sweet enough to eat. Meyer lemons are readily available for a bigger part of the year nowadays compared to one to two years ago where I thought I have to go to Australia to try tasting one when I heard so much about it through the net.
They are not as tart as a normal lemon and the fragrance is heavenly to me. It is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin. The colour of the peel has a tinge of orange in it, just beautiful to me. It can also be kept for quite a few weeks without spoiling.
I even tried to plant the seeds but so far I have not gotten any success of course. Well, no harm in trying anything right? Popularity of the fruit climbed further when Martha Steward statrted to feature them in her recipes through her shows. She is one person who is crazy over all sorts of citrus fruits as well. Of course she has the luxury of having a huge greenhouse and her team of staff to experiment with them.  
Well, for Singaporeans who cannot find Meyer Lemons, don't despair, you can always make a 1:1 substitution of the juice and zest of various lemons. Meyer lemons are much sweeter and less acidic than normal lemons, so you might want to minus the sugar level in some recipes or vice versa.
When I can get hold of Meyer lemons, I always end up with a lemon tart some how. Don't ask me why. You can also find another recipe in my older post.

Meyer Lemon Tart
adapted from Rick Stein in Delicious Magazine
25cm round tart pan or 35cm x 12 cm x 2.5cm longish tart pan
200g plain flour
50g ground almond
25g icing sugar
A pinch of salt
150g chilled unsalted butter - cubed then put it back into the fridge
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
1 1/2 tbsp ice water
4 to 5 Meyer lemons to yield 150 ml juice and all the zest (finely grated)
6 eggs - beaten lightly
180g sugar
150 ml cream
Icing sugar to dust (optional)
To make the pastry:
1. Sift the flour.
2. Put sifted flour, ground almond, icing sugar and salt into the food processor. If you don't have a   
    machine, you can do it manually, it just takes some effort.
3. Pulse it 2 to 3 times to mix it up.
4. Now add the chilled butter to the mixture and briefly pulse (please use pulse function) till it
    resembles fine bread crumbs. Use your finger tips if you don't have a machine.
5. Add the egg yolk and the ice water and pulse again until the pastry just comes together.
6. Remove and gently knead a few times so it forms a smooth round.
7. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of big plastic bags (cut sides) big enough to fit
     your tart pan.
8. Poke holes in the dough all over and then store the tart pan in the fridge for 30 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C with fan.
10. When you are ready to bake the pastry, line the tart pan with baking paper, fill with beans or
       raw rice and blind bake on a metal baking sheet for 12-15 minutes until the sides are a bit golden
       brown. Take it out of the oven, brush with the egg white  (to seal the pastry) and put it back into
       the oven for 2 minutes.
11. Take the baking sheet with the tart pan on it out and lower the oven to 140C.
To make the filling:
1. Lightly beat the eggs and sugar together but do not create foam.
2. Mix in the lemon juice, beaten eggs and cream.
3. Mix well.
4. Sieve the mixture into a jug with a spout.
5. Add in all the zest and give it a good stir.
6. Put the baking sheet with the tart pan back into the oven, partly pull out the oven shelf and pour the
    filling from the jug into the tart pan to almost the brim.
7. Very carefully slide the oven shelf back in and bake for 40 to 50 minutes (140C) until just set. The
     mixture should still be a bit wobbly in the centre but will continue to firm up after it comes out of 
     the oven. 
8. Remove and leave to cool but do not refrigerate just yet.
9. When cooled, dust with icing sugar before serving if you wish.
10. Best served on the day it is made.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ma Lai Go, Hong Kong style steamed sponge cake

Whenever I go to Hong Kong, I will never fail to go to Tim Ho wan for my dim sum fix. They have to my opinion the best Cha Siew Polo bun and Ma Lai Go. I cannot comment on the Singapore branches as I have never been there.

So, I have done some research and the traditional Ma Lai Go has to be fermented for at least 2 to 3 days. Tim Ho Wan ferment theirs for two whole days.

Although the cake is brown in colour, it has no brown sugar in its ingredients, just normal sugar. When you ferment the batter, it will turn brown while steaming. I find it interesting, although a little yeast was used, there are no taste of the yeast at all in the steamed cake.

It is fluffy, soft and spongy at the same time. I like the result of the cake with the streaky holes! It is like the 'Pak Tong Go' I used to eat when I was a child. You need patience to make this cake if you want it this way because of the fermentation. I figure you can steam the cake on the same day with just a little waiting but I suppose it will have a different effect. Well, more experiments on the way!

My good friend found this recipe in her written book of recipes from some newspaper cuttings and jotted it down.

Recipe adapted from Ms Amy Beh
Steamer with cover
8 inch container
45 minutes of steaming

160g Hong Kong flour or any low protein flour like cake flour
35g sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
75ml slightly warm water

180g sugar (can add more if you want it sweeter)
35g bread flour
35g custard powder
20g milk powder
5 eggs
50g melted butter
100g canola oil/any tasteless vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp alkaline water (optional)

1. First, start the fermentation process by mixing all the ingredients for the starter in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and put it aside.
2. Let it ferment for at least 12 hours without touching it. Mine was fermented for 36 hours. The longer you ferment, the darker will be the colour. The texture and the colour will also depend on how long you ferment it.

3. When you are ready to prepare your cake, sift bread flour, custard powder and milk powder together in a bowl.
4. Place the fermented starter in your mixing bowl and mix it with a beater attachment at low speed.
5. Gradually add the sugar and beat it for a couple of minutes.
6. Now, add in the flour mixture gradually, still at low speed for another couple of minutes until combined.
7. At this moment, change to the whisk attachment in your mixer and add the eggs one at a time at low speed.
8. Turn the speed on medium high and whisk it for 10 minutes more.
9. Scrape down the sides of the bowl half way. Now you will notice that the batter will turn smooth without lumps.
10. At low speed, add in the melted butter and the oil. Mix well.
11. At this juncture, you can either put the batter in a bowl and ferment again in the fridge for 12 hours (I fermented mine for 24 hours) or you can proceed to add on the last of the ingredients and steam it.
12. You can also just ferment it for 2 hours and proceed with the rest of the ingredients. this depends on how impatient you are.
13. When you are ready to steam the cake, or rather fermentation is up, prepare the steamer with a cover and make sure there is enough boiling water.

14. For the pan, I used an 8 inch cake ring and a steaming rack and put baking paper in the cake ring with a single big piece of paper with an overhang for ease of removing the cake later.
15. If you have an 8 inch bamboo steamer, it is all the better and ideal.
16. I suppose you can use a normal round cake pan to steam as well, just make sure you line the pan with a whole piece of baking paper as well for lifting the cake up.
17. Now, add in the alkaline water (lye water) if using.
18. Sift in the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix until just combined.
19. Pour the batter into whichever prepared container you are using to steam the cake, cover and steam at high heat for 45 minutes.

20. Do not be tempted to open the cover for the first 30 minutes.
21. After 30 minutes, you can check whether there is enough water in the steamer. Replenish with hot water to continue steaming if necessary.
22. Let the cake cool on a rack for at least 5 to 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Eat it fresh and warm.
Store the rest in the fridge and you can heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds whenever you need a piece!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sourdough Bread


This post is long due, I have made countless sourdough bread and my bottle of sourdough is already two years old. I have been feeding the dough weekly only because I am too lazy and I do not make sourdough bread all the time. I literally have to discard some dough whenever I feed it.

Sourdough bread is bread which is fermented with wild yeast in the air instead of commercial yeast. Wild yeast is everywhere - in the air, in the flour and on the surface of some fruits. Commercial yeast has replaced wild yeast because it is easier to mass produced and easier for bakeries to use and store and most importantly it proofs our bread quickly. In contrast, wild yeast works much more slowly to proof breads.

So you ask, why do people bother then? Well, for one, I LOVE the flavour and texture that sourdough that is made with wild yeast gives as compared to bread made with commercial yeast. I admit Singaporeans simply love the soft pillowy bread that is sold in every local bakery. We are so used to soft, sweet and easy to chew bread. We are lazy, are we?

But I  love to chew my bread, once in a while. When I am not rushing to work, we will have sourdough bread with dinner and have nice conversation with my family or friends. I also like to dip my sourdough bread in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some herbs or simply just smear some good butter on it. If you ask me, I will have very soft tangzhong bread in the morning when I have to rush to work but textured sourdough bread in the evening especially in the weekends. A nice balance I would say.

How about a beginner sourdough bread? It is a bread that does not take a whole day to ferment or rise. It takes just about two hours for the first rise and then about an hour for the second rise. As compared to the seven to eight hours for the purist sourdough bread. This bread uses the bubbly sourdough starter along with the commercial yeast to speed things up as you are getting used to working with sourdough.

Don't worry, this bread does not taste sour as you expected it to be. It is subtle and yet still soft on the inside. The strong sour flavour are only developed over a long, slow fermentation ofr a fully sourdough bread. Since we are on a speedy note, we will not get it so sour. Your bread will taste a little more sour if you have not been feeding your starter for more than two weeks at a stretch or if you use a mature starter. If the starter is fairly new, the taste will be mild.

Would you like a change in taste and texture of your bread? Then, make your own. Starting from the starter. Get it at

Simple Sourdough Bread Recipe


3 cups bread flour
2 tsp Kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt)
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 cup water
1 cup sourdough starter


Put flour, salt, yeast and water in a mixer with a dough hook.
Make a rough dough.
Add the sourdough starter and knead till smooth and dough leaves bowl.
It is a fairly wet and sticky dough.
Either flour your hands well or put a little oil on your hands to take the dough out onto a oiled big bowl and cover with cling wrap. Let it rise to double its size, about two to three hours.
Before the time is up, flour a proofing basket/brotform/banneton well.
If you don't have this, try a bowl! Oil the bowl, flour it very well.
Dump the dough onto the proofing basket, cover with cling wrap again.
The dough should rise to the desired size by an hour or so.
Turn the dough out onto a lined pan.
Better still, if you have a pizza stone, it will be perfect.

Bake it in a preheated 220 C oven for 15 minutes with a pan of steaming hot water at the bottom of the oven.
After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 180 C to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. If you want your bread to be a bit more brown, bake it for another 5 minutes or so.


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