奶黄包 (lai wong bao, custard buns)

Dough (from Dim Sum by Ellen Leong Blonder

Ingredients

Starter

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Dough

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cups flour, plus additional of dusting board/countertop
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vegetable shortening

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast with the lukewarm water and sugar and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour until well blended.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until puffed and bubbly.
  4. Stir the salt and vinegar into the starter.
  5. In another bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the yeast mixture. When combined, add the shortening and work it in with your fingers. The dough will become a sticky, somewhat shaggy mass. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth, adding flour as necessary.
  7. Grease a clean, large bowl with a little shortening, place the dough in the bowl, and cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.
  8. Lightly punch the dough down, and then proceed to add filling (recipe below).
  9. Adding the filling can be a little tricky, I usually make a circle (that’s still quite thick in the middle) then add a glop of filling. I then stretch the dough out and around the filling. This takes a bit of practice to get good at and to get a feel about how you like to do it.

Custard filling 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk (warm)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp of melted butter

Directions

  1. Mix egg yolks and sugar in a pan
  2. Add flour and mix well
  3. Place pan on low heat and stir constantly until thickened (this takes a while)
  4. Stop the heat and add melted butter and stir well

Sponge Cake Attempt 1

So Mike and I have finally discovered the show “No Reservations”. I know we’re a little slow on the uptake, but not having the Food Network, it took us a while to discover it (played very late on the Discovery Channel). I know most people must have more exciting things to be doing late at night besides watching the Discovery Channel, like sleeping perhaps, but we are just too cool for things like that.

So we were watching the Spain episode and one of the chefs the host visited made this crazy sponge cake that only took 30 seconds to cook in the microwave. After much scouring of the interweb, we found what seemed to be a reasonable approximation. Of course, though the fancy one on TV seemed quite simple, the recipe we found was much more complicated and used supplies we don’t have (like a whipped cream charger). So this is our approximate approximation of an approximate approximation

approximation is quite a weird word when you write it out that many times…

So the first attempt was not totally successful. It was spongy, but quite dense (most likely due to the lack of whipped cream charger). We also omitted the chocolate and went with vanilla. Yes, it was made in a plastic cup in the microwave.

Happy (belated) New Years

So it’s been a while since I made a post. I do apologize, but Christmas/New Years is a very hectic time for me, what with the traveling and the family and the other family and all. Not as relaxing as it could technically be, but very good nonetheless. Since I have been horribly lazy about not only posting, but taking photos as well, I thought that this would be a good time to plug my family’s (and now my) favourite cookbook. While not all the recipes are terribly fancy, they are all very solid. Added to that is a huge variety of recipes and each recipe has a ton of variations included. It’s like having 5 cookbooks in one. The worst part is that this book is now out of print and nearly impossible to find. The only reason I finally received a copy, after my mom had been searching for years, was to convince her brother in-law (who has what can only be described as a cookbook library) to part with his copy that she had given him many years ago. 

In just a couple days Mike and I have already made 3 different things from it and all have turned out very tasty. I’ll be sure to post some photos soon.

Almost Christmas Time

I apologize for my lack of updates this past week, I have returned to my family’s home and have been busy doing family things. I have also fallen into quite a bit of illustration work for the department of education so I have been busy trying to get that work done before Christmas. 

Because I don’t have any nifty photos or things to share of my own, I figured I’d showcase an awesome Etsy artist: The House of Mouse. I am very much in love with her stuff, and it may just be because mice are very near and dear to my heart, but I think that her work is horribly cute and very imaginative. I figured the angel mouse would be appropriate to show since it is not only a mere 3 days until Christmas (the eve of the eve of Christmas eve as I used to call it) but ever since I was a baby, I have received an angel ornament each year. This means that unplanned by me, when I finally have my own tree, it will be very themed. This is despite my family’s tree being the most random colourful tree of all (I will make sure I take a photo of it).

Hebb the cat

Because I have nothing insightful to say or share, I thought that a video of the cat would be in order. One of my coworkers has a great idea for a YouTube channel, and it inspired Mike and I to start filming Hebb more. We already have quite a few videos, and what’s better than spending hours watching silly pet videos on YouTube?

PS: That’s just his collar around his neck, not something awful. It’s new so he isn’t used to it yet.

Cookies all packaged up

Since Mike and I are a little crazy, we decided that we needed a fancy way to package our shortbread cookies. Obviously tiny boxes came to mind. The original plan was to go purchase some little fake chinese take out boxes, but due to our cheapness and very gross weather, we figured making them would be a better option. I found this pattern, then modified it to suit our needs. All I really did was increase the resolution so we could add the text and make it as close to a 8.5×11″ sheet of paper as possible. We then just printed them using a regular ink jet on cardstock, Mike cut them out and then I scored the lines and did the folding/glueing. We got quite the system going, but I definitely wouldn’t want to make a whole lot of these. The boxes have been received well so far, with lots of “you made this?! What?!”, which is what I like to go for with my Christmas giving.

Shortbread Cookies

Mike and I decided that it would be a nice gesture to give cookies as gifts this Christmas. We even purchased the most gigantic cookie sheet I have ever seen (it completely fills our oven). After procuring lots of butter and sugar, we set about making glorious shortbreads. Though I knew there wasn’t a whole lot to shortbreads anyways, we chose this recipe based completely on its lack of ingredients.

 

Shortbreads (modified from this recipe)

Ingredients (makes a TON of cookies, we estimate around 150)

  • 5.5 cups of butter, softened
  • 3 cups of white sugar
  • 12 cups of sifted all-purpose flour (though we used cake flour because that’s what we had)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (though our oven is hot, so we reduced it to 325 F)
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour by hand until the dough is smooth. Extra flour can be added if the dough is not stiff enough to roll
  3. On a (very) floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. Lacking cookie cutters, we used a standard shot glass.
  4. Bake for ~7 minutes. This really depends on your oven and how dark you want your cookies. I really recommend doing a small test batch because the original recipe says 12 – 15 minutes, but after only 8 our cookies were a tad on the overcooked side.
  5. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for a few minutes then move them to a wire cooling rack (if you have one, we don’t)

 

Icing (modified from this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups of butter, softened
  • 4 cups of icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • lots of food colouring

Directions

  1. Cream everything together until smooth and fluffy
  2. We put it in a ziplock type bag with a corner cut off to pipe the icing

I think they turned out quite well, after the first mishap with the overcooking (but that can be easily avoided). We are packaging them up in little chinese takeout-esque boxes that we made last night. I’ll post photos of the finished product when all is said an done. 

I will also be posting photos of the finished knitting projects soon.

Half done one thing

The hat has been temporarily put on hold while I work on gifts. I’m just assuming that the recipient won’t be on this site soon or realize that it may be for her. This is the first thing I’ve knit it a while that isn’t 100% wool. I’m not sure when that became the deal, but I think it is mostly to do with the fancy wool store being significantly closer to my house than any large department store. So this is knitted out of Bernat Berella “4” afghan yarn. It’s very soft, and though you can’t tell in the photo, it’s not quite one solid colour, there’s a little variation. Now I just need to make another three of these things plus a pair of arm warmers. I’m all into the limb warmers this year.

Secret Santa

I’ve never really done a secret Santa thing before, but this year one of my friends suggested that we try one. It seemed like a simple idea at the time, but then we realized that none of us would be seeing each other before the gift exchange. This was solved with Elfster, a site that sets up secret Santa gift exchanges. I thought this was a pretty nifty idea. It has proved to be much more complicated than I had expected and I even included someone in the swap who isn’t actually participating (meaning that there’s the potential that one person will not receive a gift). Of course none of this is the website’s fault, I just think it’s ironic how much of a hassle this “simple” idea was. I do have all of the gifts planned out for my partner though, I just need to finish assembling the necessary ingredients. 

I also need to finally get around to making Christmas cards, as I keep postponing going into Inkstorm to finish burning the screen. I also need to find a good shortbread recipe since Mike and I think we will bake cookies as a gift this year.

And I just realized that even though I had put images in my photography gallery, I never updated the link. So everyone can go check out my photography now.

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