15.5.15

Donut or not doughnut?

It's National Doughnut Week from 9 to 16 May. Oh well, one more day to go.. but better late than never, eh? Be it you spell it the British way "Doughnut" or the American way "Donut", it is basically a piece of fried dough. What we all love about this fritter is the seemingly endless possibility of fillings even savoury! Check this doughnut sandwich out! You'll be amazed donuts could be stuffed with lobster.

Back in 2007, the doughnut craze in Singapore was at its peak. You would see long queues of people at every Tom, Dick and Harry doughnut shop. What amazes me is the trend is back again in US. I wonder if it will hit our shores again.

Anyway, my love for doughnuts exists in the form of Krafna as how we call it in Croatia. It is a bigger version of the British doughnuts. However the Croatian version has many more lovely ingredients including Rakija (Croatian brandy) and lemon zests. The typical fillings are chocolate and apricot jams. One might find custard or berry jam too. Finally it is dusted generously with icing sugar instead of rolled in caster sugar.

After obtaining a deep fryer for making doughnuts, I went on to try out the Croatian krafne. I made them bite size and filled them with my own berry jam. And here they are. Leave a comment if you are interested in the recipe.

2.5.15

Goodbye my faithful ol' oven.

Recently I had to bid my 12-year-old oven goodbye. After moving to three flats with us and sent for one major repair once, the thermostat has failed me. Despite a broken thermostat, I was using the oven to roast my potatoes and breads.

After several attempts of burnt cakes, I finally forked out some cash to get an oven thermometer before I realised the problem.

We contacted the service centre which was conveniently located in the same building as Mister's office for repairs. The lady informed us that the oven model was no longer in production therefore, we won't be able to find a thermostat to replace.

So goodbye dear faithful oven of mine. May you rest in pieces in the electrical appliances heaven.

Baking with my pet kitten

I always thought I could never own a pet due to the nature of my work. The idea of having fur everywhere in the house especially near the kitchen is a no-no for me.

However when our eyes set on this beautiful kitten that we affectionately named Kuki (yes, our little cookie), we knew we could never part with him.

How do I ensure hygiene standards in my kitchen then? Well, it involves lots of cleaning. Sanitise surfaces, steam mopping and constant hoovering. Thank goodness, little Kuki is short-haired. So he sheds little fur. Another important step is to train him not to venture onto worktops. I know we had Kuki for a relatively short time... Less than three months but I will continue to maintain hygiene standards in my kitchen to prevent contamination.

To sharing my life with my Kuki.

30.4.15

Going gluten-free

Have you ever tried gluten free desserts? You might have but you've probably wouldn't even have noticed they are gluten free.

Gluten free desserts are made without the introduction of gluten producing ingredients such as wheat, barley and rye. Still not too sure what gluten is? Try mixing wheat flour and water. Eventually you will end up with a sticky dough that stretches when you pull it. That is gluten at work. This protein helps to build the structure for pastries and most importantly it gives bread the characteristic chewy texture.

Throughout the course of my work as a baker, I have come across requests for gluten free pastries. At first, I simply brushed it aside as I thought I would be able to avoid the topic. Imagine you are telling a baker to omit the most vital ingredient in her bread - wheat flour amd replace it with another or a couple more ingredients. It is something I would never have dreamt of doing. However, as I researched deeper into gluten free diet, I realised the gravity of producing pastries for people on gluten free diets.

There are those who are gluten intolerant or even allergic to it. Not forgetting many who chose to avoid gluten for personal health reasons.  You may visit this site for more information on gluten free diet. There are also many sites that discussed the benefits of going on such a diet. Here is one.

Let me speak of my first attempt at making gluten free cookies for a friend. I was thinking, how hard could it be? I could just replace the wheat flour in my recipes with gluten free flour. But alas, all my beautiful cut cookies became a sad blob once the butter started to melt. In several desperate attempts, I spent hours on the internet searching for a solution. It turned up in the form of Xanthum Gum. For those who know me, they will tell you how much I hated adding anything unnecessary to my pastries. However, without a teaspoon of this gum, my cut cookies would not hold their shape at all no matter how much gluten free flour I added to the dough. One good thing about gluten free dough, you could never overwork it!!

I guess that started my journey into the gluten free realm. I shall continue to explore and bake lovely pastries that are gluten free. Another challenge conquered! Do you have a gluten free story to share?

7.4.15