Baking Season

My wife baked up a batch of Fruit Cakes for Christmas during the weekend and they’re probably the best home baked cakes I’ve ever had. She was inspired by two recipes from ‘Maria’s Menu‘ and ‘The Joy of Baking‘, both of which I’ve linked at the bottom of the post.

I’ve been working 15 hours a day for the past couple of weeks so blog posts will be coming in slowly till my schedule clears up a little. Merry Christmas everyone!

Joy of Baking Fruit Cake [link]
Maria’s Menu Fruit Cake [link]

Making The Perfect Burger

The works

Recently I watched Heston Blumenthal’s “In search of perfection” series for like the millionth time and was eager to try out making the perfect burger on my own. I used to think that a perfect burger would require exotic cuts of meat like Black Angus or Wagyu but since it all boils down to the freshness and quality of the meat I tried it with fresh Indian beef (chilled, not frozen).

The new City Center in Dajeej has a really good meat section and the guy there will adjust the meat:fat ratio based on your requirements. The pre-ground trays were all extra-lean with 95:5 so I asked him to portion out a piece of lean rump (I think it was rump or shoulder) and add approximately 20% fat. Fat, as I understand is what gives the patty a juicy and soft texture. Meat that is too lean will end up in a patty that’s too dry and tasteless.

As much as I love cooking, the thought of writing all these notes is a pain in the neck. Now without going into too much boring detail into the making of the patties, I’ll list some of the things I learned in the process. Click to read more for pictures and video;

Continue reading “Making The Perfect Burger”

Beginner’s Guide to Baking Bread

During the long Eid holidays I tried my hand at making bread and   after a couple of attempts I got a final product that met my  expectations.

Searching online I found that our very own ‘Vah Chef’ had a recipe for milk rolls and I also found an Italian video for the same rolls but with a small difference in the finishing stages. I used both videos for reference but used my own flour combination to get the texture I wanted. If you look online you’ll find a lot of resources to help you make the perfect loaf but here I’ll list a few of the things that helped me to bake my perfect bread.

Flour choice: Most of the American recipes call for ‘bread flour’ which is a combination of refined flour and a small amount of whole wheat flour. I initially used 100% whole wheat but that ended up in bread that was too tough. My second attempt was with 100% all purpose flour but it was too pale and soft. I finally went with a 70/30 split of all purpose/whole wheat and got my desired texture.

Kneading/developing gluten: I initially used a food processor with the dough blade to Knead the dough but it wasn’t as good as doing it by hand so I applied some elbow grease and spent approximately 10 minutes Kneading and folding the dough. You’ll know the dough has reached the proper state when the dough can be stretched without breaking. This is when the gluten has formed in the dough and gives it the desired texture.

Proofing: Letting the dough rise is important for it to be soft and airy. The proofing can be done in two stages. After Kneading the dough leave it in a damp warm area to rise to at least double its size. I coated the dough ball with oil and then used cling wrap to prevent it from drying out. The second stage of proofing comes in when you’ve knocked the air out of it and cut, shape it to the required sizes. Leave it on the baking tray for a further hour.

Finishing: Right before slamming it into the oven, I brushed egg-wash and sprinkled sesame seeds over all the buns. They went into the oven heated at 175-180 degrees centigrade for 25 minutes. After the first 15 minutes I took them out and rotated the tray 180 degrees for uniform heat distribution. Once the bread was done I took them out and left them to cool for about 10 minutes.

I tried making sausage rolls, stuffed buns and burger buns and they were a lot better than I expected. My next challenge might be baking a proper cake for Christmas.

Bounty Choco Cookies

Last week Mark tweeted about some nice looking cookies in a blog so I thought I’d try them out during the weekend to see how they were. The original recipe can be found [here] and I made some changes to mine; left out the chocolate chips, substituted pecans for walnuts, used only Bounty and Dairy Milk(plain) and reduced the quantity by half.

The original is enough for 3 dozen but since I was experimenting I thought it would be safer to try with a smaller quantity. I goofed up slightly by pouring too much batter for each cookie and by the time it was fully baked I ended up with under a dozen giant sized cookies.