tangzhong sweet cinnamon rolls

25 May 2020

I love making bread but I don't like how quickly it goes stale. I try to freeze any excess as soon as I can but my freezer is quite small. When I heard about the Japanese method of bread making called tangzhong which claims to make fluffy longer lasting bread I was intrigued. As I hadn't made cinnamon rolls for a while I thought I'd tangzhong a recipe I found in Gourmet Traveller.

You make a roux from a portion of the flour in the recipe, about 5%, with 5 times the liquid. The cooled roux or tangzhong is then added to the bread dough ingredients to make a rough dough which you rest for 20 minutes before kneading.

The dough rose like crazy and when cooked had a lovely texture. I haven't had the chance to test how long the rolls stay fresh because I froze them to avoid too much temptation. I'm keen to tangzhong some other recipes now like a babka or hot cross buns.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from here. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. I have a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Sweet cinnamon rolls makes 12
150 mls milk
30g plain flour

100 ml lukewarm milk 
7 gm dried yeast (1 sachet)
520 gm plain flour
50 gm caster sugar
40 gm cornflour 
1 tsp vanilla
80 gm butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
25g melted butter
Pearl sugar or coarsely crushed sugar cubes, for sprinkling

Cinnamon filling
60 gm softened butter
30 gm caster sugar
30 gm brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cornflour

To make the tangzhong, combine the milk and flour in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This will probably take only a minute or so. Remove from the heat, and set it aside for several minutes.

Whisk half the milk and yeast in a bowl to combine and set aside until foamy (4-5 minutes). Mix the tangzhong, flour, sugar, cornflour, vanilla and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine. Add yeast mixture, butter, egg and a little of the milk and mix until everything comes together. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes; this will give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead. Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic (4-5 minutes).Transfer to a lightly oiled or buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1½-2 hours).

Meanwhile, for cinnamon filling, beat ingredients in a bowl to combine and set aside.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knock down, and then roll out to a 35cm square. Spread evenly with cinnamon filling, then fold the top third of the dough down, then the bottom third up to cover. 

Roll into a 20cm x 36cm rectangle and then cut into 3cm-wide, 20cm-long strips. Working with a strip at a time, hold each end and stretch and twist until the whole length is twisted. Take one end of the dough strip and coil the dough once around your hand, then fold the end over the top of the coil and tuck it underneath. 

Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and repeat with remaining dough strips, leaving about 5cm between each for buns to spread. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and stand until doubled in size (25-30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 220°C. Brush the knots lightly with the melted butter, sprinkle with the sugar and bake, swapping trays partway through cooking, until dark golden brown (15-20 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature on the day of baking.

Now that flour is back on the shelves in the supermarket, I made another loaf of bread this weekend, this time a no knead rye loaf which was delicious. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



easy crustless lemon tart

18 May 2020

While trawling through the internet looking for something else I spied this recipe for a crustless lemon tart. The original recipe called for thickened cream but I'd just returned from Brisbane and I had creme fraiche in the fridge that needed to be used before it expired. I also had eggs and lemons so on the spur of the moment I thought I'd give this recipe a go as my work colleagues are big fans of lemon flavoured desserts.

It really couldn't be more simple. I threw all the ingredients into the food processor and whizzed them until combined and poured the batter into a spring form pan.

The original recipe called for just greasing the tin but a little of the very liquid batter ran while out it baked, welding the springform tin together. If I were to make this again I would definitely line the tin with baking paper and I think a simple shortbread base would be a great addition. 

Creme fraiche is too rich for me so I didn't try out this tart but I took this into work where it went down a treat. Here's the recipe for you which makes a 20cm/8 inch tart. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Easy Crustless Lemon Tart by Bill Granger 
3 whole large eggs
½ cup plain flour 
1 cup caster sugar
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, melted 
finely grated lemon zest of 2 large lemons
125 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup thickened cream or creme fraiche 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
icing sugar for dusting

Thick cream and berries

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20 cm spring-form pan with baking paper.

Place the eggs, flour, sugar, salt, butter, lemon zest and juice, cream and vanilla into the bowl of a food processor. Whiz until combined.

Pour the liquid batter into the lined spring-form pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. The tart will still seem a little ‘wobbly’ at this stage but remove from oven and rest on a cake rack for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold before removing the tart from the spring-form base. 

Just before serving, sieve icing sugar lightly over tart. The tart can be served with a dollop of cream and some berries.

 I have a hankering for a classic lemon tart!

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


chocolate digestive biscuits

11 May 2020

I think the top iso bakes on instagram have been banana and sourdough breads closely followed by chocolate coated oaty biscuits. I grew up eating shredded wheatmeal biscuits which are perfect for dunking into a cup of tea or a glass of milk. Later on I was introduced to chocolate coated digestive biscuits and eventually I discovered the Queen of them all, the Mcvities milk chocolate Hob Nob.

I wanted to join the chocolate coated biscuit baking party, so I searched online for a recipe I could use with ingredients I already had in my pantry. I found a Helen Goh recipe that fitted the bill so I set to work.

The original recipe made 50 biscuits and as there were only two of us in the house, I made a half batch. 

I mustn't have rolled the dough as thinly as Helen because I only made 16 biscuits from the dough and when I checked the cooked biscuits some were close to 1cm thick. It wasn't a problem though because the biscuits are quite light, not too sweet and have a good snap. I didn't coat all the biscuits with chocolate and enjoyed the plain ones topped with some sharp cheddar cheese. They were delicious. 

Here's the recipe for you adapted from a Helen Goh recipe. The recipe makes about 20 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter you use. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. I have a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Chocolate digestive biscuits
75g wholemeal flour
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g soft brown sugar
35g oats
½ tsp flaky sea salt
90g unsalted butter, cold, cubed
75 ml milk
1½ tsp honey
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate coating
125g dark or milk chocolate, chopped

Place the flours, bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar, oats and salt in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture out into a large mixing bowl and add the milk, honey and vanilla. Use your hands to bring the dough together then press gently to form flattened disc. Wrap the dough loosely in cling film then refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 190ºC (conventional) and line two baking trays with baking paper. Unwrap the disc of dough and roll out on a lightly floured workbench to about 4-millimetre thickness. Brush away any excess flour after rolling, then prick holes all over the dough with a fork (this helps prevent air pockets forming). Stamp out with cookie cutter of your preferred shape and size. (The oven time given is for a round cutter approximately seven centimetres diameter; you may need to adjust the baking time depending on the size of your biscuits.) Place onto a lined baking tray, a few centimetres apart. 

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the biscuits are deep golden brown – they should be completely firm when cooked. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.

To coat in chocolate, place the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave and microwave on high in 30 second burst until the chocolate has melted. Cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before spooning a little dollop onto one side of each cookie. Spread with the back of a spoon to form an even coating and then set on an oven rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

I'm off to put the kettle on and enjoy another one of those biscuits. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


parisian vanilla flan

4 May 2020

Pre Covid -19 I was due to arrive in Milan today to attend a conference followed by a 4 week holiday in Europe. My last stop was Paris, to stock up on bakeware and to celebrate my birthday. Of course I'm disappointed about the change in plans but instead of being self absorbed and moping, I decided to look at the bigger picture. I thought I'd make something very French, a French custard tart known as flan. Full disclosure here. I have never eaten flan before and I don't recall seeing one before but Parisian flans have been all over instagram recently.

I discovered a plethora of flan recipes all in French and thanks to the magic of Google Translate, I was able to translate the recipes into English. I decided to try a recipe by Aurelian Cohen.

Now this is not a recipe you can make on a whim. It has lots of steps and processes and cooling time so you need to start this the day before making to infuse the milk and prepare the pastry. Use good quality vanilla beans and if you can't find crème fraîche most other recipes I found used cream or you can also use mascarpone. The tart is finished with a thin layer of blitzed caramel which is then melted again in the oven. This makes the tart nice and shiny but it isn't a necessary step. In fact the high humidity in Sydney almost scuppered my attempts when the blitzed caramel turned itself back into an unwielding mess after 5 minutes. If you leave out the caramel glaze you'll need to increase the sugar content of the custard.

Here’s the recipe for you which makes a 16 cm flan, 3 cm in height. You'll need to start this process the day before serving. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Parisian Vanilla Flan – adapted from this recipe by Aurelian Cohen 

Flan filling
326g full cream milk
1 vanilla pod 
1 tsp vanilla paste
80 g whole eggs (2 eggs)
75g caster sugar
35g corn flour
20 g unsalted butter, cubed
60g crème fraîche 40% fat

30 g sugar

Milk and vanilla infusion
Place the the cold milk, vanilla paste,the seeds and the scraped vanilla pod into a bowl. Cover and leave to infuse overnight in the refrigerator.

110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup icing sugar 
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and if necessary, a small amount of cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. You won't need the whole amount of this dough for the tart. Wrap the unused portion of pastry in cling film and freeze for another day.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper until its 2.5 mm. Cut out 2 strips 26 cm long by 3 cm high and a disc 15 cm in diameter (for a 16 x 3cm circle). Butter the walls of the flan tin and place onto a buttered tray or one covered by a Silpat or baking paper. Press the two strips of dough together, then attach to the side walls of the flan tin. Trim the edges of excess dough with a knife. Then place the disc of dough inside and also attach the disc to the strips of dough. Cut the edges of the dough that protrudes from the flan tin with a knife. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry case. Place the flan and baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

On the day of baking, add half the sugar to the milk in a saucepan and bring the milk infused with the vanilla pods + the sugar to a boil.

During this time, lightly whisk the eggs with the rest of the sugar in a bowl, then add the cornflour and whisk again. When the milk boils, pour it into the egg / sugar / starch mixture and mix with a whisk. Then pass through a sieve (to remove the small pieces of pod bark) into the pan, put the vanilla pod back in the pan (but not the small filtered peels).

Cook the mixture over high heat like a pastry cream, constantly beating vigorously. When the mixture thickens, continue to cook, whisking for 1 min 30 seconds to 2 min. Remove from the heat, then add the cold butter cut into cubes and crème fraîche. Mix with a whisk. Pour into a container, cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from occurring and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Remove the vanilla pod from the pastry cream and whisk to loosen. Pour the cream into the frozen pastry shell to ½ cm from the height of the dough. Bake for around 1 hour (depending on the ovens). The flan is cooked when the crust of the flan is well coloured.

While the custard is cooking, place the sugar in a saucepan and make a caramel (not too brown). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave to harden then just before taking the flan from the oven, reduce to a powder using a blender. Sprinkle a thin layer of the caramel powder through a small sieve on the top of the flan 5 min before the end of its cooking. Then return to the oven for 5 min.

Take the custard out of the oven, then transfer it to a rack by sliding the baking sheet or the silicone mat on which the custard cooked. When the custard has cooled, remove the hoop then place it in the refrigerator so that it finishes cooling. Cut it and enjoy it when it has completely cooled.

The end result looked authentic and it was enjoyed by all who tried it. Now all I have to do is wait another 12 months until I can try a flan in Paris.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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