Yelly Eats

How To Make Chinese Almond Cookies

Almond cookies are a staple both in Chinese bakers and in Chinese kids’ childhood memories.  Everyone has an almond cookie experience that makes them smile (or at least that’s what I have been told).  Alan’s recipe is very similar to mine and this recipe was posted on our Pan-Asian Kitchen blog and I am sharing this with you on Yellywelly.  Text, photos and food fluffing all by Alan.

 

I always remember eating almond cookies in one form or another since I was young and even though I did like them, none of them were memorable until about 16 years ago when I got the opportunity to go over to Canada for 6 weeks (around the Christmas and New Year holidays) to spend some time visiting my aunts and uncles whom I had not seen since I was very young. A small issue I had was that I had started a new job a few weeks before the trip and had to explain to my boss (James) about the trip that was planned. As well as letting me go on the trip, he lent me a suitcase and gave me a lift to the airport on the day I flew out. Amongst the gifts that I brought back, I purchased several boxes of Chinese Almond Cookies from the Market Village Chinese Mall to say thank you to James for his help. I kept a box back for myself so that I could try the cookies and found that they were the most delicious almond cookies that I had tasted. Looking around Chinatown in London, I could not find almond cookies that looked like the ones I got from Canada. I even tried the ones from the Chinese bakeries but they did not look or taste the same as how I remembered them.

Several years had passed and I was teaching myself to bake new things and remembered back to the almond cookies that I purchased from Market Village. I had a look around for recipes for almond cookies and they all seem to have the same quantities of butter, flour and sugar but the almond flavour didn’t come through enough so have doubled the amount of ground almonds and added almond extract to give them an almondy boost. So after a few attempts of perfecting the recipe, here is my take on the Chinese Almond Cookie. This cookie is great for a treat or to give as a present to friends or family.

Chinese Almond Cookies
Ingredients (makes approx 24 cookies)

125g unsalted butter (softened)
170g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp almond extract (or 1 tbsp of amaretto)
1 egg

200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
150g ground almonds

24 blanched almonds or 24 pieces of sliced almonds
1 egg (beaten)

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt.

2. Add the egg and almond extract and mix together.

3. Slowly add the flour, the baking powder and ground almonds into the mixture.

To do this, add a few dessert spoons of the dry ingredients at a time and combine together. Repeat the process until it is all mixed well.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F (170°C/340°F if using a fan oven). Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and then divide the mixture into 24 equal sized balls which are roughly walnut sized. To help potion off the mixture evenly, I used a sized 40 ice cream scoop and levelled it off with a spatula but you can do it by eye if you do not have a scoop.

5. Put the cookies dough balls on the baking trays (leave a 1” gap between the cookies as they do spread out slightly, you may need to bake in several batches if you use smaller baking trays) and use a round measuring spoon to press an indentation in the middle of the ball (in this case, I used a 1 tsp measuring spoon as the blanched almonds just about fit inside). By using the measuring spoon to press the indentation into the ball, it 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 make the indentation with your thumb. Put a blanched almond or a slice of almond into the indentation of each cookie.

6. Brush each cookie with the beaten egg.

7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until the cookies are a lightly golden colour. Allow cookies to cool down for roughly 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 160°C/320°F (150°C/300°F if using a fan oven).

8. Brush the cookies with more beaten egg and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

Allow to cool down completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Yelly Eats

How To Make Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Buns

This was one of Alan’s posts on our shared blog the Pan-Asian Kitchen.  He does have brilliant ideas and I am so proud to share with you his recipe for this Chinese bakery staple.  The text, photos and food styling are all Alan.

 

There have been times that I have gone into a Chinese bakery in London and fancy trying something new. A couple of months ago was one of these times. I was a bit tired, a little hungry and wanted something different to eat. I have always seen the hot dog buns that the bakeries had to offer but didn’t pay much attention to them as we normally just got some of the Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns) to take home. The hot dog buns that I spied didn’t look anything special as it essentially was some flattened dough with a hot dog plonked on it topped with mayonnaise, ketchup, cheese and some vegetables (spring onion or carrot or peas) This bun is then baked in the oven until the cheese melts, the sauces reduce, and the vegetables caramelise. The resulting bun is a very tasty treat that is far far better than making up a normal hot dog in a finger roll and then putting the sauces on top.

Since then, we have been back to the Chinese bakeries and sampling the various hot dog buns that the have to offer. The great thing about making these at home is that you have a lot more control of ingredients you want to put in them from the type of sausage, the type of cheese, to the amount of sauce you want on top. The dough that we will be using for this recipe is the Milk Bread dough from the recipe here: INSERT LINK

Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Buns

Ingredients:

For the milk bread dough:
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

For the topping:
6-8 Hot Dogs / Frankfurters
125g Grated Cheese
1-2 Stalks Spring Onions / Scallions (sliced)
Mayonnaise (preferably in a squeezy bottle)
Tomato Ketchup (preferably in a squeezy bottle)

Instructions (the pictures for steps 1-6, are in the previous post for Milk Bread)

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 10 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.

6. Divide up the dough into 6 or 8 equal sizes pieces (depending on how many hot dogs you have).

7. Take a piece of dough and flatten it out so that it is slightly bigger than the hot dog sausage that you are using.


Wrap the dough around the sausage and make sure it is totally encased in the dough. Make sure the dough casing is smooth  by rolling it lightly on the surface or between your hands.


Continue flattening and wrapping the dough around the other hot dog sausages and then place them on a lined baking tray leaving a 2 inch gap between each one.

8. Take a knife and make 1cm incisions in each encased sausage BUT do not cut it all the way through as you want to leave a spine.


Fan out the pieces by rotating each slice out so each alternative piece is on the opposite side of the previous one (e.g. the first one turns left, second turns right, third turns left, etc).


Once all the pieces have been fanned out, twist each slice so that it is flat on the tray. Try to twist each piece in the same direction and make sure that hot dog side is faced up on the end pieces.


Go through the same process with the other hot dogs and cover with cling film and prove for about 45 minutes until the dough has risen and puffed up.


9. Once the dough has finished the second prove, preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (170°C /340°F fan oven). Uncover the dough and start by spreading or drizzling the ketchup and mayonnaise on top. Then sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the sauce followed by the sliced spring onion.


Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until buns have turned golden brown. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

 

 

Yelly Writes

How to cook rice…perfectly

This was another post that was originally on our blog Pan-Asian Kitchen.  For anyone who fears cooking rice via the absorption method, I hope the the infographic helps you along! 

How to cook riceI thought an infographic would be useful.

Cooking rice has always been a daunting task to a lot of people.  But if you’re Asian, rice is a staple, so cooking rice is a skill that (should be) learned early.  There are various ways to cook boiled rice.  Some people boil rice and then drain the liquid.  My mom taught me early and most Filipinos will use what is known in the rice bowl circuits as the absorption method.  I love this method because, despite a lot of disbelief, the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (even if you don’t use a non-stick pan).

The steps are simple and I hope the infographic helps!  Any questions, please leave them in the comments section.  I’m definitely happy to help.

This infographic is also downloadable!  Click here.

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.

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!