A lot of times, things just happen when you least expect them to – including friendships.
Like I said, I never thought blogging would be part of me. I never even thought blogging would bring me friends. REAL friends. Friends who share similar interest and passion. We don’t just interact in the cyber world.
It was a last-minute decision, after an exchange of emails. Last Saturday, we converged at The Curve, a humongous shopping mall just outside of Kuala Lumpur (K.L.) The six of us, including me, were:
- Swee San, of The Sweet Spot, whom I first met at the bloggers’ meet-up this February;
- Tracie, of Bitter Sweet Flavours, whom I also first met at the February bloggers’ meet-up;
- Reese, of ReeseKitchen, whom I’d met earlier in February too;
- Wendy, of Table for 2.… or more, whom I met in person for the first time!
- … Last but not least, how can I forget about Wendy’s cute little daughter Ms. Lyanne!
three two push buttons in her. The green one is the “Talk and Play” button; the red one is the “Hush and Observe” button. Depending on the situation, I can go yadda without stopping. Or, I have to forklift my mouth just to spit out a few words. Dang, the green button was pushed real hard that Saturday! I found myself having a hard time trying to shut up! (It’s my temperament. I still love how the Chinese saying goes, “沉默是金,” which literally means silence is gold.)
Too bad, Reese had to leave earlier as she needed to pick up her daughter elsewhere. It was very nice of her to spend time with us amid a busy life. It was also very nice of Wendy and her family to drive all the way down from Kuala Kangsar to meet us up in K.L.
Reese, thanks a lot for giving me this cute stamp!
Wendy, thank you for the dried sweet osmanthus! (Sorry for the poor shot ...)
We ate, chatted and shopped. It’s so cool to have people sharing the fun together! After Reese left, the four of us – plus little Lyanne – went to Daiso and IKEA. All of us, except Tracie, bagged home some stuff. Though I left Daiso empty-handed, I wound up with six beautiful tumblers and a double boiler from IKEA! More verrines to come! I’m a sucker for verrines. Any glassed dessert in fact!
(My parents’ fridge and freezer seem to have implemented this no-vacancy policy. *Sigh* Now that you know why I’ve been shying away from chilled desserts and whatnot. I miss home-made ice cream … *Sob* I want my own home someday, with a fully equipped kitchen and a giant fridge and freezer! Working, saving up money and progressing toward that goal …)
After our raid on IKEA, Swee San and Tracie left. So, it was just me, Wendy and Lyanne. I’m sorry for that Wendy lost her cell phone at a public restroom while changing Lyanne’s diaper. No worries, Wendy! I know you’re going to get a better phone eventually. Your hubby may change his mind … Haha! Anyhow, thanks for letting me play with Lyanne! She’s is one easy baby to handle, seriously! I usually suck at babysitting. But with Lyanne? I’m sure I can handle a babysitter’s exam and perform with flying colors. *LOL* I’m starting to miss her now. Oh, no!
Actually, I meant to visit the Kinokuniya (bookstore) at KLCC after the meet-up since it was on the way home. Alas, I never made it there. That itch, that uneasiness continued to haunt me till Wednesday evening, when I said to myself, “Pei-Lin, that’s it!”
These books kept pestering me, even when I was at work. It was mentally torturing. As soon as 6 clocked in that Wednesday evening, I ran and took a bus ride to Kinokuniya. Finally, I got a hold of “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan and “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Phew, they were still in stock! Lucky me!
Image courtesy of Dorie Greenspan
I already have Greenspan’s “Paris Sweets,” which I purchased in the States over a year ago. I can tell you it’s one of the most utilized cookbooks out of my collection. I've tried and shared some of the recipes from the book, including this, this, this and this. So, I’m pretty confident that “Baking: From My Home to Yours” is just as good. Can’t wait to try out the recipes! The downside is that every ingredient is measured instead of weighed. *Sigh*
Image courtesy of Borders Australia
As for Beranbaum’s book, that wasn’t in my plan whatsoever till Monday evening, when I saw Faithy’s rendition of some of the Heavenly Cakes! I’d seen other Heavenly Cakes on quite a few blogs too, including Baking Library. I twat Faithy for advice on the book. (Money is hard to earn! *Sigh*) As long as the recipes are detailed and promising, I’m sold!
Image courtesy of Spruce TV
Nonetheless, I’m not going to talk about cakes this time around. Since I started working, baking cakes has been a luxury I only get to indulge in once every blue moon. Now, I cook and bake foods that are more “substantial” and “portable.” Bread is one of them.
At where I was born and
bred raised, people are used to plain white bread that’s made with refined, bleached flour. Very unhealthy. People here seem to have a palate for super-soft and -fluffy bread. But ever since the encounter with my American family 3 years ago, my eating habits changed. My bread has to be home-made – and for the most part, whole-wheat.
My American mom Bonnie's home-made whole-wheat bread. She buys wheat from the wheat growers nearby and grinds the wheat to get her own fresh flour.
My American family and I advocate anything home-made and whole wheat. I love those fibers and brown specks. I adore that deeper brown tone. I like that sweet nutty whiff given out by freshly baked whole-wheat bread! Whole-wheat bread is wholesome and deliciously plain on its own!
Of course, I’d also bake white bread. Sometimes, it’s because I run out of whole-wheat flour. Sometimes, I just want to give my food a little change. (Crazy!?) But, rarely do I put myself in such position. I don’t fancy the feeling of having white bread literally melting in my mouth. (Neither do I like additives-loaded store-bought bread. Just skim through my Flickr photostream, you’ll know what I mean.)
As per Tracie’s request, here’s the recipe for that 100-percent whole-wheat rolls I posted onto Flickr a month ago. (She loves whole-wheat bread, too.)
One hundred-percent whole-wheat!? You bet! I won’t say they were tender. But these rolls were sure soft, a quality I wouldn’t expect much out of home-made whole-wheat bread, especially when it’s 100-percent whole wheat. And, the softness stayed for 3 days! I guess we can attribute this moisture retention to the whole-wheat sponge (全麥中種), which is part of the recipe. The oats topping gave the rolls a finishing touch by adding more texture, too! Yum!
Just like me, if you’re looking for wholesome, fibrous home-made bread … a bread that’s soft enough but still has that something for you to chew on, this recipe is for you. After all, how can one go wrong with the sweet nutty aroma of whole-wheat bread!
100-Percent Whole-Wheat Rolls With Oats Topping 麥片麵包
Makes 5 rolls
Adapted from "100 Bread Recipes by Madam Meng," by Meng Zhaoqing 摘自《孟老師的100道麵包》。孟兆慶 著
190 g whole-wheat bread flour
4 g instant (dry) yeast
125 g water -- at room temperature will do since we're using instant yeast here, but be sure that the yeast is fresh
110 g whole-wheat bread flour
25 g caster sugar
2/3 tsp salt
15 g milk powder
65 g water -- at room temperature
10 g unsalted butter -- cubed and kept cold till use
15 g egg white -- at room temperature
* I used slightly beaten whole egg. Couldn't be bothered about separating the egg. *
100 g quick oats
- For the whole-wheat sponge (全麥中種): mix (A) together till a dough forms, then cover the dough will cling wrap and set it side to proof for about 2 hours.
- Knead (B) altogether into the whole-wheat sponge, keep kneading till everything is incorporated and till you've gotten a smooth dough.
- Now, knead the cold butter cubes into the dough till everything is incorporated. Continue kneading the dough till it's smooth, supple and elastic.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl, then cover with cling wrap and set aside to proof till it's doubled in size.
- Deflate the dough and divide it into five equal portions. (I weighed mine.) Round up each portion of the dough, be sure to pinch them up to seal well. Then, cover them with cling wrap and set aside to let rest for 10 minutes.
- Take each portion of the dough, roll it into a 15 centimeter-long oval shape. Then starting from one end, lengthwise, roll the dough up tightly to get a cigar-like shape. Fold in both the narrow ends for a bit, then pinch the seams to seal the dough up real well. Place the shaped dough on a greased/parchment-lined baking sheet.
Repeat the same to the remaining dough. When you're done with the shaping process, cover the shaped dough with cling wrap and set it aside to proof till almost doubled in size.
- Prior to baking, brush each of the rolls with egg white and then sprinkle some quick oats over it. Now, take a pair of scissors, position it 45° above the surface of the dough, and make three snips across the dough. Repeat the same to the remaining dough. Then, cover the dough up with cling wrap and let proof for another 8~10 minutes.
- Bake the rolls at 170°C for about 20 minutes till cooked through and look golden brown.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately transfer them to cooling rack(s); let cool completely before serving and/or storing.