Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New vent cover

I managed to mod my oven vent cover after scouring hardware stores for suitable materials. I settled for an aluminum bracket and instead of a hinge type design, I made a sliding cover. 

I got to test it out today on some baguettes which were meant for a New Year's eve party. I hope it will go well with the curry.

Today's baguettes were the best looking I have baked so far. The steam vent cover worked reasonably well although I could still see wisps of steam coming out from the vent. I will try lining the cover with a heat resistant soft material to improve the seal. However, going by how the baguettes turned out, I may just leave it alone for some time.

The ears opened up better in some of the slashes but I was still unable to get those that Hamelman illustrated in his book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rosemary herb bread

I was given a bag of Rosemary by a baking friend and made some Rosemary herb bread with it. The breads were about 75% hydration with the addition a couple tablespoon of EVOO. While they were in the oven, my wife remarked that the aroma of roast chicken was in the air. I wonder how I should eat it. Rosemary is such a wonderful herb and I was devastated when I singlehandedly destroyed 2 specimens which I had grown from a cutting bought from the supermarket. Hopefully, the sprigs that I had planted will survive and thrive.

It has been a long day as I had spring clean the kitchen from morning to dinner time, stripping down the fume hood and hob for a thorough scrub down. I always wish I had a helper to do this thing for me but alas, I guess I will be doing this till the end of my days. I hope that there will be such things as a robotic helper intelligent and versatile enough to replace a human in doing household chores in 20 years time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Passionfruit Lemon Curd

Last Sunday I delivered some flour to a couple of baking friends and one of them gave me a bottle of Passionfruit Lemon curd. She made it from Tan Hsueh Yun's recipe. It was so super yummy that I was already scraping the bottom of the bottle within a day.

I had made a batch of Levain baguettes to go with it. Since my craving for it has not been sated, what I can do but to roll up my sleeves and make some for myself. Thankfully, all the ingredients for this delight is easily available and cost next to nothing. The only thing I lack is Hsueh Yun's recipe, ironically. My wife had cut out the recipe and filed it in her collection of recipes but they were somewhere in the house and I haven't had the faintest clue where it was. My wife was not in but as I did not want to bother her or my friend, I decided to follow Martha Stewart's recipe because I was confused by Dorie Greenspan's list of ingredients. The only extra ingredient was the pulp from five Passionfruits.

I got myself 3 large jars of 'sunshine' for my efforts, thanks to Hsueh Yun for such an inspired combination of flavors and of course to my friend for her gift which inspired me much.

Hsueh Yun wrote to me and was so kind to send me a copy of the recipe. Thanks to the link which she sent, I was able to get an online copy of the original article with the recipe. It can be found here:

6 lemons
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
450g caster sugar (add 50g more for a sweeter curd)
250ml passionfruit pulp, from 6 passionfruit
8 large eggs
1. Zest the lemons using a fine grater, set aside. Then juice the lemons. You should get just over 250ml of juice.
2. Fill a pot about 25cm in diameter with water up to the one-third mark. Bring the water to a simmer.
3. Turn heat down to low. Sit a glass, heatproof bowl about 30cm in diameter on the pot, making sure the bottom of the bowl never touches the water. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and sugar into the bowl.
4. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the sugar and butter melt.
5. Add the passionfruit pulp and stir to mix well. Taste and add more sugar if needed.
6. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, beat with a fork just to break up the yolks, then strain the eggs through a metal or plastic strainer into the curd mixture.
7. Continue stirring. Adjust the heat so that the water in the pot does not come to boil. It should remain at a gentle simmer.
8. After 20 minutes or so, the curd should start to thicken. Watch it carefully, keep stirring and when the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon, the curd is ready.
9. Take the bowl off the pot and spoon the curd into clean glass jars. Cool completely, screw on the lids and refrigerate. It will last about two weeks in the fridge.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I have been tinkering with the steam vent of my oven again. The thought of modding my oven has been on my mind for the last few weeks but procrastination has ensured that the vent cover never materialized. I had a hinge type design in mind so that it can be opened when a steam environment is no longer needed. All this was put into the back-burner of my mind until yesterday when I stripped out the innards of my oven for a thorough cleaning. I had anticipated a thick build up of flour caked onto the oven's inner walls. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the accumulated flour was less than I had thought. While cleaning the oven, I had a clear view of the oven vent and this jarred my memory about modifying the vent. 

In the meantime, I blocked the vent with foil to ensure that the steam stayed in the oven chamber. I was quite happy with the results as the slashes opened up nicely. The effect of steam made the crust more shiny instead of the matt finish.

Tonight's bake was my favorite busy person's baguette. The dough has been doing its thing in the fridge while I had gone on a 7 km walk and returned by 6.30 p.m. The 24 hour baguette was shaped at 7.00 p.m and by 9.00 p.m, the kitchen was already cleaned up and I was sitting on the sofa, contemplating if I should bring out the butter as the smell of the loaves was so enticing. I ended up eating a leftover slice of Bertinet's sweet dough bread that I had made the night before. It had a wonderful flavor as I had added orange zest and rum soaked raisins. It was really decadent with some handmade kaya. I really should curb my bread craving and intake considering the fact that I had had my dinner only a couple of hours earlier.

I was satisfied with the result. The crumb was creamy with a holey texture and a flavor which is addictive after a single bite. My only gripe is the short shelf life of the bread. Actually, it is the humid Singapore weather which is the problem. The crunchy crust degenerates quickly and has to be refreshed in the oven everytime before consumption.