March 27, 2014

Getting Doughy with Tangzhong Starter

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Green Tea and Aduki Bean Paste Swirl Bread
When I met Alli of Pease Pudding on one of Helene Dujardin's workshop in New Zealand, we were talking about sourdough bread that will be her bakery's hero. The sourdough starter is told to be at least 25 years old and is still being used up to this day. Isn't it amazing?

Sourdough seed culture, phase 3. #bread #food

I used to make my own sourdough starter and kept it at the back of our fridge until it was ready to use and re-feed. I loved baking batches of sourdough bread and was proud of myself. The skin was crusty and the texture was lovely. Every batch produced wheaten vapour aroma that spread all over my kitchen and perhaps escaped far and wide to touch our neighbour's sense of smell. No one reported casual damage though, mind you.

classic sourdough bread
classic sourdough bread

Unfortunately, I don't keep that starter anymore when I have found out that I am allergic to wheat and its products. So sad to be parted with the starter that I have used for 2 or more years. So I gave away the starter to a good friend. Hopefully she could keep it and be a part of her. But lately, I found out that she spoiled the starter and had to throw it out of her fridge. Tragic.

However, every now and then I still bake bread. I can't tell you how I missed it. I missed the aroma of a freshly baked bread which can be enticing and pleasurable although I am more a rice person than that of those who cannot live without bread. I sometimes 'treat' myself gluten-rich in moderation, so not to worry.

I've been baking batches of bread lately. Not a sourdough one though.

Hokkaido Milk Bread

I made batches of Hokkaido Milk Bread these days since I am amazed how fluffy and cotton-soft the texture is. It reminds me of those loaves of bread or chocolate filled buns that I often ate when I was little, came warm from a local bakery.

I adapted Christine's Recipe and made assorted bread from it.

The good this of it is that it won't go stale up to 3 days, IF you are doing it right. Pay attention to and do the exact measurement will reduce failure, I guess.

I made batches of them, from a plain loaf, green tea or buns filled with desired filling. 

I even made cheese bread, which I don't often do. I was curious with what's so special about cheese bread that my Indonesian friends back home are so raving over it. Perhaps, I am not only a bread person, but also not a cheese one either. It does not give me excitement to match cheese with bread, unless it is sandwiched and grilled.

Cheese Bread

Lately, I quite like to try to make green tea bread, so I give it a shot. 

Making my own experiment by using green tea powder in half of the dough and leaving the other half plain, I thought I'll make it braided, like Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

Green Tea and Aduki Bean Paste Swirld Bread

I expected the bread will rise higher, but then again I did not use a bread pan to support it. The aduki beans filling is also rather dense for the sponge to rise up during proofing and baking. But I quite happy with the outcome.

So, have you baked bread today?

March 25, 2014

Play with Lights: Food Photography Workshop with Helene Dujardin

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Auckland's weather was gorgeous yesterday afternoon and I was so excited to be able to meet Helene Dujardin at one of her food photography workshops in Auckland, New Zealand.

One important thing I got from the workshop is to play with the lights. Lights can convey different messages on photos if we direct them to what we are going to deliver. Different light setting will give a different message, look, and feel.

Take a look at the sample photo I took during the session. This photo below was taken without any intention to direct lights. The lights spread and come from any direction, including behind me (I was on the other side of the room), but the main light comes from the front.

Notice where the lights paint on this shoot. And compare with these two other photos below.

Can you see it? Can you feel the differences? 

If you can, congratulations. Go on ahead and keep it up at it. If you cannot, then you need to play around with your lighting once, second, third, zillion times more, if you can, to understand it, to get the feel of it, to be able to create different stories or messages. It might sound difficult, but it's not. Go get your black cards and start directing your lights to get different mood. It's all about creativity and imagination. Wake up, get up, and start kicking around. You'll get there eventually.

For me, this is a wake up call. Photographing is not only composition, beautiful styling and excellent props, but also giving messages to the audience through directed lighting. If your lighting is flat, your photo won't look interesting. 

It was a very lovely and important workshop for me. Now I can see clearly where I am going from this on.

I also had a great time catching up with my ladyfriends yesterday, and met Nicola Galloway of Homegrown Kitchen who runs cooking workshop in Nelson and Rebecca Oliver. Here are some photos that I took from my iPhone.

Ponsonby Central, 6 Brown Street,
Ponsonby, Auckland, NZ

Waikanae crab omelette with morsels at Toru Cafe.
The best omelette I've ever tasted.

Toru Cafe
Ponsonby Central, Auckland
Photos I manage to snapshot through iPhone during workshop.

As well as with Helene, I also had a good catch-up with Allison of Pease Pudding.
Pssttt...Alli is going to open her own bakery this coming April.
Come and see her in Kumeu, Auckland!

And more food and drink afterwards with good friends. Thank you Carmella and Boon, Danti and Yessy!

Foxtrot Parlour at Ponsonby Central,
Ponsonby, Auckland

This cappuccino is excellent. Frothy, creamy, and the coffee was excellent!
at Foxtrot Parlour,
Ponsonby Central, Ponsonby

Non-alcohol cocktail "Cherry Bomb"
At Prego Cafe and Restaurant
Ponsonby, Auckland

Antipasto Misto
at Prego Cafe and Restaurant
Ponsonby, Auckland

Baked whole snapper, Risotti ai Gamberi, and Polenta Cakes
Polenta Cakes were awesome, crispy outside and creamy soft inside. We love them!
at Prego Cafe and Restaurant
Ponsonby, Auckland

Short Espresso was super excellent! Strong, thick, and fresh.
at Prego Cafe and Restaurant
Ponsonby, Auckland

Goodie bag from Nourish Magazine
Thank you, Vicki!

My companies for the evening: Carmella and partner Boon-Li.
Thanks you two! X.

A lovely catch up with Danti and Yessy
at Toru Cafe
Ponsonby Central, Ponsonby
Till we meet again!