Yelly Eats

How To Make Chinese Bakery Style Milk Bread

This post was originally posted in our Pan-Asian Kitchen blog.  The text and photos by Alan.

When we go into Chinatown, our trip isn’t complete without getting buns from the Chinese bakery. There are a great variety of buns to choose from but we always seem to come home with the baked char siu bao (also known as BBQ pork bun or honey roast pork bun). All of the bread products that the Chinese bakery has to offer is generally made from a single type of bread dough called Milk Bread. Milk bread is an enriched dough which means that it contains butter, sugar and eggs and is softer than normal breads.

I am going to show you a basic milk bread recipe that can be made into loaves or other tasty baked treats that we will be writing about in future posts. What I love about this recipe is that it requires standard plain flour and milk rather than bread flour and cream that other recipes call for. Also, it is relatively easy to make (especially if you have a stand mixer) as there are fewer steps to follow.

If you are using sachets of quick dried yeast, they will normally come in 7g packets so it may be easier to double up the recipe and do two loaves or you could even do one loaf and one of the other milk loaf recipes that we will be writing about (please follow the instructions up to step 6 to prepare the dough for those recipes).

Chinese Bakery Style Milk Bread

Ingredients:

65ml milk
35g granulated sugar
60g unsalted butter

1 teaspoon granulated sugar
60ml milk
3.5g quick dry yeast

1 egg (beaten)
1/4 teaspoon salt
275g plain flour

Instructions:

1. Put 65ml milk, 35g granulated sugar and 60g of butter in a saucepan and heat until the milk starts to boil. Turn the heat off and stir the mixture so that the butter melts and the sugar dissolves into the milk.

2. In a microwaveable jug or bowl, put the 65ml of milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar and heat in the microwave in full power for 30 seconds so that the milk is lukewarm. Stir in the yeast and leave for 10 minutes until the mixture foams up as the yeast activates.

3. In a mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture, the butter mixture and the egg. Mix the wet ingredients together and then spoon in the flour, mixing as you go along.

Keep going until all the flour has been mixed in and the mixture has turned from a batter into a dough. If you are working the dough by hand, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed for about work the dough for about 12 minutes. If using a stand mixer, mix for 6 minutes on a medium-low speed. The dough is ready when you can pinch some dough and stretch it quite far without the strand breaking.

4. Oil a bigger mixing bowl and tip the dough into it. flip the dough over in the bowl so that the top of the dough is also covered in oil. Cover with cling film and place in a warm place like an airing cupboard or proving drawer for about an hour so the dough will rise.

5. Once the dough has risen, it should have roughly doubled in size.

Knock back the dough by punching it so that it deflates back to its original size.

Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed for a couple of minutes (If you are using this dough for one of our other recipes, the dough is ready for for filling/shaping).

6. Divide the dough into three equal sized balls and roll each one in your hands until smooth. Place each dough ball into a greased 2lb loaf tin and cover with cling film.

Allow the dough to prove for a further hour in a warm place where it will double in size.

7. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F (160°C/320°F fan oven) and bake in the oven until golden brown.

Remove the loaf from the tin as soon as you can and place on a cooling rack so that the sides and bottom do not go soggy. Once cool store in an airtight container.

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Yelly Eats

So Fuwafuwa!

So apparently, according to a google search, fuwafuwa means fluffy, airy, light – like a pillow or foam.

A few months ago, I noticed an interesting photo on Ed T’s (@onehungryasian) instagram feed.  He said he had a recipe for fluffy Japanese soufflé pancakes and I wanted to look at the recipe.  I was on the verge of perfecting my version of a Japanese matcha cheesecake and I was curious about the pancakes, whether they would really be soufflé-esque.  I noticed that one of the comments was this guy saying they were  opening a pop-up for Japanese soufflé pancakes.  I thought it would be good to find out where it was to try it so I knew what I was aiming for.  I followed the Instagram account and thought I’d look through the feed later.  And then I promptly forgot about it.

© by @onehungryasian

Then Ken Mok (@kingken_photography) wrote that he finally went to try the pancakes and they looked fabulously soft and pillowy.  Exactly what the name of the purveyors of these heavenly pancakes meant: Fuwafuwa.

© by @kingken_photography

So since then, I’ve been thinking about these gorgeous pillows and wondering when I can go and taste them and find out for myself how they felt in my mouth!

Yesterday, we were going to London to see a friend who was going on a trip at the end of the month and we wanted to spend time with her before she flew off on her adventures.  Alan suggested we stop over at Westfield in Stratford where Fuwafuwa (@fuwafuwalondon) had their pop up shop.  It was just before 9AM and on Saturdays they open from 9AM until 9PM.  I was looking forward to ordering the matcha pancakes, but they weren’t on the menu.  So I settled on Nutella and banana and Alan ordered S’mores.  But they changed the menu at the last minute and said they had the matcha pancakes and the lovely manager of Fuwafuwa allowed me to change my order from the Nutella and banana to the Matcha Love pancakes.

I absolutely LOVED them.  They are as airy, soft, cloud like, light, pillowy and soufflé-esque as I built them up in my head to be.  The matcha cream that accompanied my pancakes were generously flavoured with matcha and you could really taste the green tea, which I loved.  They were also VERY generous with the red bean paste that was served on the side.

Alan’s S’mores pancakes were yummy with marshmallows and chocolatey goodness that reminded me of childhood memories of marshmallows and chocolates melted and sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers.  Alan’s pancakes were topped with a dusting of icing sugar and a couple of pretzels.  Knowing I loved pretzels, Alan very generously shared one with me!

I need to know what the name of that lovely manager of FuwaFuwa is.  He asked if he could take photos of our pancakes because, apparently, they were so busy that they rarely had time to photograph their heavenly creations.  We, of course, obliged.  I had brought my little Olympus EPL7 on this trip (I wanted to capture the cherry blossoms in London) so I was also busy snapping away with the sole purpose of posting it on Instagram.  I was also determined to write about it on the blog.  I offered to take photos of the pancakes with his phone.

He had a surprise for us though.  There was a Salted Caramel Miso and Popcorn pancake option on the menu.  I loved salted caramel.  I loved popcorn.  I loved miso soup.  I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted them all together on a plate.  So I was more than a little dubious and didn’t order this particular flavour.  He came back to our table and he gave us a double stack of the salted caramel miso and popcorn pancakes.  To say thank you for waiting for the pancakes (they opened late) and for taking photos.

It was absolutely gorgeous!  It was sweet and fabulously savoury with the crunch of the popcorn for brilliant texture.  I know miso was good but I didn’t know that it would be a great flavour that could be used for sweet treats as well.  You learn something new everyday.

Fuwa Fuwa London (@fuwafuwalondon on Instagram) is currently at their pop up at Westfield in Stratford City and according to Westfield’s website they will be open this week (16 April to 22 April) Monday to Friday from 10AM to 9PM, Saturday from 9AM to 9PM and on Sunday, 12PM to 6PM.  They’ve just announced that Matcha Love will now be available on weekends too!  I’d recommend going when you can and bringing a bag of patience with you because if you can’t get there early and be first in the queue, it might be a substantial wait.  The pancakes are made to order and can take until 30 minutes to make and if they’re busy, the wait will be a little longer. I know 30 minutes might seem to be a bit too long to wait for pancakes, but they are very definitely worth it.  It’s a heavenly party in your mouth!

Yelly Eats

Sunday lunching

It’s nearly 6pm on a Sunday and I’ve had a busy day.  I woke up after sleeping in, made mushrooms on toast for breakfast for Alan and me, chatted to my mum, sister and dad via FaceTime, cleared some of the mess in the kitchen and then batch cooked food for the week.

I’ve got bolognese slow-cooking on the hob right now but Alan and I have had lunch already.  I had smoked haddock leftover from when I made fish pie so we thought it would be a good idea to have kedgeree.  We wanted a fish meal as we’d been having so many meat meals and we, well, maybe me, more than anything else. wanted a fish meal.  So I dusted off my kedgeree recipe (I wrote it over 2 years ago now!) and cooked kedgeree.  It was lovely and comforting and always so photogenic (aided by a strategically placed sprig of coriander).

If you’d like to try your hand at cooking kedgeree, please try my version of it – the recipe is here.  And if you do, please let me know how you get on!

Yelly Eats

Yummy buttermilk fried chicken!

I’ve always said that Spit and Roast buttermilk fried chicken is, quite possibly, the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in the UK.  Alan and I had a street food phase were we went to venues where various purveyors of gorgeous street food congregated and indulged our epicurean tendencies.

It was a stroke of luck that I bought a copy of the Sunday Guardian when I did all those years ago, because they shared their recipe for their fried chicken.  It certainly felt like I won the lottery!  This recipe is inspired by Spit and Roast’s recipe for buttermilk fried chicken.

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 8 – 12 pcs chicken thighs, deboned but with skin on
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 heaping tsp paprika (I like to use the sweet variety and not the smoked one)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 287ml cups of buttermilk (in a pinch you can use Elmlee, use the single cream variety as it has more buttermilk content

For the dredge:

  • 1 heaping tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 heaping tsp paprika
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g cornflour

The original Spit and Roast recipe calls for thigh and drumstick pieces. But I’ve found that using deboned thigh pieces makes for easier eating. I also keep the skin on because friend chicken skin is oh-so-delicious and the coating makes it so deliciously crispy! So anyway, here we go

Directions

  1. Debone your thigh pieces (you can use skinless, deboned thigh fillets but it makes for slightly drier fried chicken).
  2. In a ziplock bag combine the buttermilk, salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Make sure everything is mixed well. I use the ziplock bag because it’s so much easier to massage the chicken pieces through the plastic. But, of course, you can always use a bowl that has a lid. Marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours but overnight always produces best results.
  3. When you’re ready to cook.the chicken, take the chicken out of the fridge. In a large bowl, combine all the dredge ingredients, making sure everything is well-incorporated.
  4. Dredge each chicken piece individually, making sure that when dredging you scoop flour onto each piece and they feel dry to the touch. Shake off the excess flour.
  5. Fried chicken is always best deep fried, but if you don’t have a deep-fat fryer or don’t want to deep fry your chicken, you can always shallow fry the chicken in a deep wok or a big frying pan. Fill the pan with 1 1/2 inch of oil. Spit and Roast suggest oil temperature of 150°C but if you don’t have a heat probe, you can test the heat with a piece of bread. If the piece of bread crackles in the oil, then it’s hot enough.
  6. Make sure you lay the chicken away from you when putting it in the oil (Safety first!). Fry the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes, turning 2 to 3 times to make sure everything is evenly and nicely browned.

If you’re frying a lot of chicken pieces, you can put the chicken pieces on kitchen paper in a pan so the excess oil is absorbed and put it in an oven preheated to 100°C to keep them warm and the s

kin crispy.

I serve my fried chicken with gravy, coleslaw and cornbread. Enjoy!

Yelly Eats

Almond cookies!

I love baking traybake bakes because of the ease that they present.  You mix the batter and you spread them on a greased and prepared pans, pop them in the oven, wait for the appropriate time, et voila!  You have cake!

photo © @the_yukistar

However, that being said, I do love the care and attention that’s required when making cookies, or as the Brits call them, biscuits.  I love the drop cookies and the cookies that require a bit more care and precision and a cookie cutter.  It’s the care and attention that is involved in making each biscuit that counts.  Each piece is individual.

One of my favourite cookies to bake (and eat) are almond cookies.  These cookies are Chinese bakery staples and most of my Chinese friends have a happy childhood memory involving an almond cookie.  So when Alan found a recipe and we perfected the recipe and cookie production, it became a staple for us.

photo © @the_yukistar

Sure, it’s a little more complicated than mixing the batter and dolloping them on a cookie sheet, but it’s the process that makes it special.  Because every time you scoop the mixture, press the almond into the centre and brush egg wash on each cookie, you are putting a little piece of you in the cookie.  Too sentimental?  Okay, here’s the recipe instead!

Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 24 blanched almonds
  • 1 egg (beaten for brushing)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter, sugar and salt.  Then add the almond extract and egg, and mix well.  Slowly add the flour, the baking powder and ground almonds and make sure it is all combined.
  2. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and then divide the mixture into 24 equal sized balls.   I use a small ice cream scooper to the balls uniform.  Lay the balls out on the baking trays and use a round measuring spoon to press an indentation in the middle of the ball.  This will also flatten the ball into a cookie shape.  If you do not have a round measuring spoon, flatten the ball with your hand and indent with your thumb.  Place a blanched almond into the indentation of each cookie and then brush with egg.
  3. Place into the oven for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden.  Allow cookies to cool down for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 150°C.
  4. Brush the cookies with more beaten egg.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they turn golden.  Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
  5. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.  If you’re not making halal versions, you can also add about 1 generous tablespoon of Amaretto liqueur to make it even more almondy.  

Thank you to Yuki (she’s @the_yukistar on Instagram.  Have a look at her photos, they are blow-you-away amazing!) for the lovely photos of the almond cookies!  She made them look extra pretty!💖

Yelly Eats

Blondies

I’ve always loved blondies but they’re not necessarily not something you see in most bakery stalls because it is more often overlookby it’s more popular cousin, the chocolate brownie.

This is my recipe for these gorgeous morsels.

Ingredients:

  • 225g good white chocolate, chopped
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanila
  • 160g plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC.
  2. In a heatproof bowl place the cubed butter, and the chopped white chocolate.  Place the bowl over slow boiling water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of your bowl.  Allow the butter and chocolate to melt slowly, stirring it occasionally.  Once in a while, lift your bowl off the heat, rest on a towel and stir to help the chocolate to melt along with the butter.  This stops the butter-white chocolate mixture from getting too hot and the mixture won’t become grainy.  Once the white chocolate has completely melted, left the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. While the butter-white chocolate mixture is cooling, measure out the ground almonds and flour and mix with a balloon whisk to make sure they are well-combined.  Set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar until smooth, thick, moussey and a very pale yellow colour .  I use a free standing mixer and this usually takes about 10 minutes on medium speed.  It will take about 15-20 minutes if you’re doing this by hand (depending on your forearm muscle strength and endurance!).  Add the vanilla and mix for a few seconds to make sure the vanilla is completely incorporated.
  5. Add your almond-flour mixture in three parts, each time making sure everything is mixed thoroughly before adding more of the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour the batter into a tray bake tin foil or a rectangular pan (about 20×30 cm) that has been greased and lined with baking parchment. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven (this varies because of how hot your oven can actually get), until the top becomes firm and shiny and when tested and a toothpick or skewer is inserted in the centre of the bake and comes out clean (sometimes with a few sticky crumbs sticking to it).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes (about 5 minutes during a cold winter!).  Once cool, gently lift from the pan and place on a cooling rack and allow the bake to get cold.
  7. Depending on how greedy you are, you can slice this into 18 to 24 squares.

Variations to flavours:

  • Raspberry and rose blondies – instead of the vanilla, add 3 tablespoons of rosewater to the eggs and sugar mixture (step 4). Wash your raspberries and dry thoroughly and roll them in flour.  The number of raspberries you add will be equal to how many blondie slices you want, i.e. for 24 slices, you add 24, etc.  Add 50g more of flour to your almond-flour mixture because the more fruit you want, the wetter the bake.  Bake for an extra 10 minutes, making sure you cover the top with foil when it browns too quickly.
  • Cardamom blondies – add 3 teaspoons of ground cardamom to the flour and almond mixture (step 3), instead of adding vanilla.

Let me know how you get on with the recipe or suggested variations and leave a comment please!

Yelly Eats

Something about the Bird

So…I’m all for second chances.

Last year, we went to Bird in Shoreditch because I wanted to try the chicken.  I think I’ve written about my love of chicken so many times that this trip to try Bird’s chicken is completely self-explanatory.  I also had my Chicken Bucket List (I will be posting an update to that post in the next few weeks, so please watch this space!) to consider.  So off to Bird we went!

And needless to say, I was quite disappointed.  If you want to find out how dismal our dining experience was, read about it here.  The chicken was dry and overcooked, the service was a lackadaisical and a bit blasé and I said I was never coming back to any Bird branch ever again.

Until we saw a voucher for Bird on TimeOut London for a three-course offering (sides, a chicken burger and a dessert).  Alan said there was no harm in trying Bird again, especially at that price (I can’t remember exactly how much that voucher was for but it was something like £15 per person plus drinks).  So I reluctantly agreed to purchase the vouchers and off we went.

The two visits couldn’t have been any more different!  It was like coming into a different restaurant all together.  I mean, same name, same decor, same menu, same venue…BUT totally different dining experiences.

The staff were absolutely friendly, and wanted to talk about their food.  I know the word passionate is overused in the food business, but they were.  They were actually excited about their food!  They were completely happy that we had the vouchers and they explained how we could get the most out of our vouchers.  So order the food we did!

We both ordered wings as sides.  Alan ordered wings with the honey and ginger sauce.  The sauce was on the sweet side but had that lovely ginger hit that stopped the honey from being sickly sweet.  It was a lovely sauce for the perfectly cooked wings.

I ordered the buffalo wings.  I loved it because it wasn’t blow-your-head-off spicy.  I love spicy food but I like it when it’s not so spicy that you can’t taste what you’re eating because it was too hot!  It was just the right blend of spicy, tangy and the floral peppery notes.   Plus, the accompanying blue cheese sauce was yummyyyyy and was an absolute bonus.

Then we ordered the chicken burgers.  There are 6 burgers to choose from the menu.  Being the buffalo addict that I was, I ordered the buffalo blue chicken burger.  This burger is a battered boneless chicken thigh fillet served on a brioche bun with buffalo sauce and a blue cheese slaw.  I don’t think I got a chance to take a photo of Alan’s burger but he ordered a bacon cheese burger.

Then we ordered Bird’s doughnuts for dessert.  Alan ordered a doughnut ice cream sandwich which I thought was a dessert big enough to feed a family of four!

I ordered the daily glazed doughnut special – which was, on the day, a mint chocolate glazed donut.  I thought it wouldn’t be as formidable as Alan’s desert of choice, but when my dessert arrived, it was bigger than I thought!

It was such a HUGE MEAL and which came to about £20, including drinks and service charge, per person.  But it was such a different experience from our first Bird meal.  We were looked after, but it wasn’t saccharine-sweet sincerity.  It felt very genuine, and they really wanted us to have a really good Bird experience.  We didn’t feel smothered and I was quite impressed because they asked us if the food was okay before we took bites, which I thought was nice.  It’s never nice talking around a mouthful of food.

When they saw me taking pictures, one member of staff, a cheeky but charming French guy (I wish I’d taken his name), encouraged me to take photos and to tell people about Bird and to write a review on TripAdvisor!  I thought was brave because he hadn’t asked me yet whether we had a good time.  I think he knew that we ate well and that the food was good.  That confidence in their product speaks well.

And to be fair, we like it so much, we went back again for just the wings!