Korean Yummies
Thursday 25 September 2008, 4:18 PM
Filed under: bread

I have a love-hate relationship with yeast. And with cakes, but that’s another story. Somedays I’ll use yeast and produce something amazing. Other days, it’s a complete disaster. Thankfully, these delicious snacks were not catastrophes.

I love love love LOVE Korean snacks… especially the ones called hodduk (호떡) and hobbang (호빵). Both are made from a yeasted dough, but hodduk is filled with brown sugar and pan-fried, while hobbang is filled with red bean paste and steamed. These are readily available frozen at Korean markets and that’s genius because 30 seconds later, you’ve got yourself a hot, steaming, delicious piece of sweetness. But I wanted some homemade ones.

The bread is good and there are many variations available online. This recipe is slightly adapted from here. And I say ‘adapted’ because I forgot some ingredients… hahaha.


2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (= one packet)
1 1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in water and let it sit for five minutes. Whisk in the oil, salt, and sugar. Incorporate the flour. Add more flour or water as needed. The dough should be soft and not very sticky. Leave the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a damp paper towel, and let it rise to twice its size. At room temperature this may take to 1-3 hours. Alternatively, you can preheat your oven to 100 F, turn off the oven, and place the bowl in there.

Hobbang (호빵)

2/3 of above dough
2 cans red bean paste

Roll out the dough into a log with a diameter of around 2.5″. Using a piece of floss, cut off pieces that are an inch thick. Roll out each piece into a flat pancake. Place 2-3 tablespoons of red bean paste in the center. Wet the edge of the dough with water and then bring the edges in, forming a ball. Set the buns aside and let them rest for at least 30 minutes. Afterwards, steam them for about 15-20 minutes. The buns will expand, so leave some room inbetween.

Hodduk (호떡)

1/3 of above dough
Brown sugar (I used raw brown sugar)

Pull off about a golfball-sized hunk of dough and shape it into a flat disk. Make a a little indentation in the center, fill with sugar, and close the ball up. Heat up an oiled pan and set the pancakes down, squishing them with a spatula so that they are flat. Flip after 3-5 minutes, or until the side is golden brown, and cook the other side. The sugar should be melted and ooey-gooey yummy.


Dimply Plum Cake
Thursday 25 September 2008, 12:03 PM
Filed under: cake, fruit

I went to an orchard with my parents and we walked away with almost forty pounds of fruit. Yes… forty pounds of PURE DELICIOUSNESS. While I stocked up on white peaches, my parents bagged up loads of Empress plums. I figured I should try to bake with plums since I had enough to feed a small army, so I chose this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. The cake turned out beautifully and the colors were great.

Dimply Plum Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (oops… I used baking soda….)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional (I used 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup oil (I used plain yogurt)
Grated zest of 1 orange (sadly omitted)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (I used 1 teaspoon)
8 purple/red plums, halved and pitted (my plums were HUGE, so I only used 3)

Center a rack in the oven adn preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted witha  paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a mknute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing onlyuntil they are incorporated.

Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are non dry spots, then scrape the batter in the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes – during which time the plums’ juice will return to the fruit – then run a knife around the sides of a pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Chip Cookies
Wednesday 24 September 2008, 3:32 PM
Filed under: cookies/bars

Today is my friend Mikey’s birthday and because I absolutely fail at making cakes (with a few rare exceptions), I thought I’d bake something easy and classic.

Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/8 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 cups chocolate chips (I used 2 cups of mini chocolate chips)

Adjust oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven to 325 F.

Mix flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Add in the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop the rounded balls of dough (about 1/8 cup). Place the baking sheet on the lower rack and then switch to the upper rack halfway through. Bake for a total time of 15-18 minutes


Monday 15 September 2008, 2:22 PM
Filed under: art, watercolors

YAY I’ve finally drawn something! :D

It was so nice to bust out the watercolors. I really have Dustin Nguyen to thank because I was checking out his recent work and his watercolor paintings always inspire me. Anyway, I’ve always liked Psylocke (she has an awesome costume AND nice hair, ha) so I decided to draw her. I also wanted to use this new paper that I got called Yupo paper. It’s super smooth and not very absorbent, but it’s advertised as “suitable for all watercolor techniques” so I gave it a go. I’m digging the smooth finish, but the absorbency is another issue. Next time I will have to try hotpress watercolor paper… well, after I get some money, ha!

Also, the colors look way better in real life… much more saturated than what my terrible scanner produced here. :\

Ghirardelli Award Winning Chocolate Brownies
Wednesday 10 September 2008, 6:53 PM
Filed under: cookies/bars

For a person who does not like chocolate, these brownies are pretty damn good. They are not dense, fudgey, or overly sweet. I was pleasantly surprised. :)

Ghirardelli Award Winning Chocolate Brownies

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup Ghirardelli ground chocolate
2/3 cup unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used about 3/4 cup chopped pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a spoon, stir eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into egg mixture; add nuts. Spread into greased 8 or 9-inch square pan (I used my 9-inch pan). Bake 20-30 minutes (mine baked for 24 minutes). For extra chewy brownies, use 8-inch pan and less baking time. For cake-like brownies, use 9-inch pan and longer baking time. Cut into squares.

For extra rich, double chocolate flavor, stir in 1 cup of Ghirardelli semi-sweet, double chocolate, or milk chocolate chips.

Nectarine Galette
Monday 1 September 2008, 9:31 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

I bought my very first pastry blender today so I had to use it. I’ve been on a quest for a good pie dough recipe and I think I may have the one. It’s wonderfully flaky and tender and it was way easier to make than before. I’m going to credit my pastry blender for this galette’s success.

I used three overripe nectarines for the galette filling because they were going to go to waste otherwise. Usually a few tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs are spread on the bottom, but I didn’t have any and substituted crushed pecans to counter the sweetness and tartness of the nectarines and jam.

Pie Dough (for two 9-inch crusts or 10-inch pie; slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 (8 tablespoons) vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup ice cold water (only 6-8 tablespoons will be used)

Make sure the butter and shortening are very cold. You can dice the butter and shortening and freeze them for about half an hour.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives, or a food processor. You want something that looks like coarse cornmeal.

Mix the vinegar and cold water. Fold in six tablespoons of the water mixture into the flour/butter mixture with a spatula until the dough comes together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times to bring the dough together.

Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for at least an hour.

Nectarine Galette

3 large nectarines, pitted and sliced
2-3 tablespoons jam
2-3 tablespoons crushed pecans (you can use graham cracker crumbs)
1 pie crust (recipe above)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Roll out the pie dough into a fairly large circle. Spread the jam in the middle, about 11-inches wide. Sprinkle the crushed pecans over the jam. Place the nectarine slices decoratively on top. Fold the edges over the nectarine slices. Brush the dough with milk.

Place the galette on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.