29 August 2018

Cream Cheese Bun & Burger Bun using Japanese Yudane method

I have not baked these Cream Cheese Buns for ages! In Singapore they are known as "Ah Bian" originating from the homegrown bakery chain BreadTalk. I often wonder why these cream cheese buns are baked flat instead of other shapes like round or longish? Vaguely recall that it was introduced many years back during the Taiwan Presidential Elections and the bun was named after former President Chen Shui-Bian (who is affectionately called Ah Bian by her people). My memory might be wrong.

I digress.

Anyways, 4 years ago, I baked the Cranberry Cream Cheese version which is the original version using the Tangzhong (water-roux) method. This time I tried the Yudane method which is a method created by Japanese bakers to achieve super fluffy bread texture and remains soft even the next few days. In fact I've been baking buns with filling all along using this method or a similar Yukone method. Frankly I'm not so sure what's the difference between the two (didn't have time or rather lazy to find out). Basically the method is using boiling water to scald bread flour to form a "rough dough" known as gelatinized starch. Chill this starch overnight in fridge and add it to the main dough the next day.

If I have time or plan my bakes in advance, I would prefer this Yudane method over the 65C Tangzhong method because firstly due to the method, there's always leftover tangzhong (which I ended up discarding) and secondly somehow the bread doesn't turn out as fluffy as the Yudane method.

This time I baked the cream cheese bun without cranberry because the boy specifically told me he didn't want cranberries! Grrr, he used to like cranberries -_-

I also used part of the dough to make burger buns because I was planning for homemade beef burger and disliked store-bought burger buns. I prefer my burger buns to be soft and fluffy with tinge of sweetness and buttery flavour; and they go with my homemade beef patties very well.

In fact, this dough is really versatile, can be used to make buns with filling, burger buns, hotdog buns and even loaf bread.

As mentioned, make the Yudane one day in advance or the night before and chill in the fridge (forgot to take photo of the Yudane). The next day, simply add all the dough ingredients with the Yudane into the mixer and let the mixer knead the dough (I use KitchenAid and knead at Speed 4 for around 10-12 mins). The dough tends to be very soft and slightly sticky so I usually oil my hands before picking up the dough. Let the dough rise for about 45 mins till double in size.

After 45 mins of first proof, I divided the dough into individual portions. The dough weight was about 500g; 3 portions of dough 70g each were reserved for the burger buns and remaining 8 dough portions 36g each for the cream cheese buns. Slightly round the dough portions and cover the dough portions with clingwrap and let them rest for 10 mins.

The 3 burger buns were then shaped and rounded first so that they could finish their second proofing before the cream cheese buns and baked first.

For the remaining 8 portions, flatten and scoop the cream cheese filling in the middle, close into a ball, pitch the dough tightly before flattening the dough into shape.

Cream cheese filling is very simple, just mix cream cheese, icing sugar, fresh milk and vanilla extract till light and creamy, and chill in freezer till ready to use. 

The second proofing for the cream cheese buns is slightly more tricky. They have to be proofed and baked flattened in order to retain the shape, and preferably using dark-coloured trays for the buns to "darken". I haven't tried using normal aluminum trays, maybe the buns will not be as browned.

What I did was to have a large baking tray at the bottom, place a baking mat or paper on the bottom tray, place the buns on the mat/paper. Cover the buns with another baking mat/paper, then cover them with another baking tray. I only have 1 dark-color tray, so I used 2 smaller trays which worked too. Let the buns proof for 45-60 mins, and send the whole set-up into the oven to bake. That's it! Actually not that difficult after all.

Cream Cheese Bun
[dough weight is about 500g, makes 8 cream cheese bun (36g each) & 3 burger buns (70g each)]

Japanese Yudane
(prepare night before)
  • 50g bread flour
  • 50g boiling water
  1. Place the bread flour in a heat-proof bowl. Add boiling water and quickly mix the flour with the water using a spatula. Keep pressing and bring the
  2. Initially the dough will be bits and pieces but keep pressing and bring the dough together, a rough dough will form.
  3. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and once the dough cool to room temperature, transfer the bowl to chill in fridge till next day.

Cream cheese filling
(prepare during first proof)
  • 150g cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 40g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp fresh milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place the cream cheese and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed (Speed 4-6) till well blended.
  2. Add fresh milk and vanilla extract and mix till filling is light and creamy.
  3. Scrap the cream cheese filling into a container and store in the freezer till ready to use.  
  • Yeast mixture: 20g lukewarm water, 6g instant dry yeast, 5g caster sugar
  • 200g bread flour
  • 1 recipe Japanese Yudane
  • 1 recipe yeast mixture
  • 50g water
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 2g fine sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 egg white (reserve remaining half for brushing on burger bun)
  • 40g unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
  1.  In a small bowl, mix water, yeast and sugar and let the mixture rest for a few minutes to turn frothy.
  2. Add bread flour, Yudane, yeast mixture, water, sugar, salt, egg yolk and egg white into a mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, mix the dough ingredients on low speed (speed 1 KitchenAid) for a minute, then switch to medium low speed (speed 2) and knead the dough till rough dough forms. 
  3. Add the butter, piece by piece into the dough. Once all the butter cubes are added, turn up mixer speed to medium (Speed 4) and knead the dough for about 10-12 mins. The dough is ready when it leaves the bottom of the bowl and "rides up" to the top of the dough hook. Or use the window pane method by stretching a piece of dough, it will be stretchy and almost translucent without breaking.
  4. The dough is quite soft and slightly sticky, oil both hands and take out the dough from the mixing bowl. Lightly knead for a minute, round the dough and place the dough into a well-oiled bowl for first proof. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and let the dough proof for about 30-45 mins or till dough doubles in size. *based on summer weather, hot & humid
  5. After 30-45 mins, take out the dough and knead lightly to press out the gas. Divide the dough into desired portions. Dough weight is about 500g, I divided the dough into 3 pieces of 70g each and 8 pieces of 36g each. Slightly round the dough portions, cover them with clingwrap and rest for 10 mins.
  6. Start with the burger buns, tighten and round the dough (by cupping the dough in the middle of your palm), and place the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover loosely with clingwrap and proof for 45 mins. *Preheat the oven at 200 degree celsius after 30 mins.
  7. For the cream cheese buns, take a piece of dough, flatten using rolling pin into a disc. Scoop about 1 - 1.5 spoon of cream cheese filling into the centre of the disc. Close up the dough into a ball and pinch tightly. Turn the dough over, roll it into a ball by cupping the dough in the middle of your palm, then flatten the dough once again using the palm. Repeat till all the dough used up.
  8. Prepare 2 large dark-coloured baking trays and 2 baking mats or paper. Start with a large baking tray at the bottom, place a baking mat or paper on the bottom tray, place the flattened dough pieces on the mat/paper. Cover them with another baking mat/paper, and finally cover with another baking tray. Proof for 45-60 mins.
  9. First bake burger buns: 200 degree celsius for 10-12 mins. *turn down temperature to 180 or 190 degree celsius, and cover buns with aluminum foil if the buns browned too fast.
  10. Second bake cream cheese buns: Send the whole set-up (step 8) into the oven, 200 degree celsius for 10-12 mins.
  11. Let the buns cool on a wire rack. If keeping till next day, cool completely before storing in an airtight box.

19 August 2018

Chwee Kueh 水粿

My kiddo and hb love Chwee Kueh very much and the kiddo has been bugging me to make it for him. Both of them used to eat it at the hawker centres at least once or twice a week! We used to go to Ghim Moh market for the chwee kueh; the kueh is excellent, but my kiddo doesn't like their savoury type of chai poh. Alternatively, we would go to Clementi or West Coast markets where their chai poh are the sweet type. Well, now they can only get to eat this when they request and if I feel like making it :p

Frankly I've never make this in SG before because it's simply too convenient and much quicker if we were to eat it at hawker centres. For a batch like this, it took me around 1.5hrs! But now that we are in Thailand, cravings could only be satisfied by homemade I guess, which means OT for me in the kitchen -_-"

I like to make my chwee kueh mini size because I can literally put the whole piece in the mouth and munch away without the chai poh falling all over the place =D

The size of the mini chwee kueh is around 4.5cm and the chai poh topping is around 1 heap teaspoon, it's like a golden proportion to me ;p

I started off with cooking the chai poh or preserved radish first. I like my chai poh to have some crunch, not too oily and well-balanced between sweet and savoury. In Thailand, I can only find the sweet type of chai poh; it's actually not very sweet after rinsing and soaking in water for 15 mins.

Basically add some cooking oil to a pot, sautee minced dried shrimps, garlic and shallot till fragrant, then add the preserved radish and stir-fry on medium heat for about 10 mins. Thereafter add seasonings like light soy sauce, fish sauce, white pepper and sugar to taste; add a little bit of dark soy sauce for the colour, and also some toasted sesame seeds for the fragrance. Continue to simmer for about 10 mins on medium low heat and the chai poh is ready.

The chwee kueh or "water cake" is the trickier one to make as it's not easy to get the correct texture and consistency. The batter mixture of rice flour, wheat starch, corn flour, salt and water (room temp & boiling) might seem so simple but I realised that following proper steps are actually quite important. 

After mixing the flours and water (first room temp then boiling) together to form the batter, it's crucial to stir the batter each time you want to use it, otherwise the flours tend to settle at the bottom with the top being more diluted. As a result, chances are the initial batches of kueh will be very soft, and towards the end very hard.

Hence it's also important to work fast when filling the batter into the moulds, otherwise by the time all the moulds are filled, once again the flours settle at the bottom. Hence to overcome this, I oil the moulds and place them in the wok steamer as the water is boiling. Then using a jug/measuring cup with spout, I quickly pour the batter into the moulds (water is still boiling at the bottom of the steamer) and stirring the batter after a few pours to ensure it remains homogeneous.
And after the chwee kueh are done steaming, it's important exercise some patience and let the chwee kueh cool down slightly and set before unmoulding because otherwise the whole piece of kueh is too mushy and will break!

I learnt all these through trial and error. Actually I wonder how the hawkers do it as they prepare such large batches of chwee kueh daily!

Anyways, I'm glad that I could satisfy my family's cravings for this quintessential hawker food of Singapore from time to time.

Chwee Kueh 水粿
*reference from Bear Naked Food, Eat What Tonight
(makes 50 pieces, using mini moulds measuring 5cm top, 2.5cm bottom)

Chai Poh
  • 200g sweet preserved radish, rinsed and soak for 15 mins.
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp, soak in hot water till softened then minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pcs shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (I used 1/4 cup shallot oil, 1/4 cup coconut oil)
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce, for colour, adjust according to preference
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  1. In a pot, heat cooking oil on medium heat. Add minced dried shrimp and stir-fry till fragrant for a minute. 
  2. Add garlic and shallot and stir-fry for a minute.
  3. Drain the preserved radish and add into the pot. Stir fry on medium low heat for about 10 mins.
  4. Add the seasonings and adjust according to taste. Add the toasted sesame seeds. Mix well.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 mins on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. The chai poh is ready to use.
  • 135g rice flour
  • 4 tsp wheat starch
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml room temperature water
  • 400ml boiling water
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, starches and salt and mix well.
  2. Add the tepid water and whisk till the dry ingredients are dissolved.
  3. Add boiling water in a steady stream, whisking the mixture at the same time, till batter is well-mixed.
  4. Prepare a steamer and bring water to boil (I'm using a wok with steamer insert). Wrap the cover of the steamer with a piece of towel/cloth to prevent water from dripping into the chwee kueh.
  5. Brush the mini moulds thoroughly with oil, and place the moulds into the steamer with the water boiling.
  6. Pour the batter into a jug with spout (stirring constantly to make sure batter consistency is homogeneous). Then quickly pour the batter into the mini moulds (with the water still boiling), stirring batter after every few pours. Repeat until all batter used up.
  7. Cover and steam the chwee kueh for about 15 mins. *if mould is larger, steam for 3-5 mins more.
  8. After 15 mins, remove the steamer insert from heat and let the chwee kueh cool down slightly and set. 
  9. Use a mini spatula or butter knife, insert in into the sides of the mould and lift the chwee kueh out of the mould. The chwee kueh should be able to be removed easily.
  10. Top the chwee kueh with about 1 heap tsp of chai poh each.
  11. Enjoy by popping one whole piece of chwee kueh with chai poh into the mouth!

02 August 2018

Curry Puff | Karipap

[ Collaboration with Dancing Chef and Singapore Home Cooks ]
Dish 1 - Laksa Yong Tau Foo
Dish 2 - Curry Puff / Karipap

"Curry pok! Curry pok!"
I remember during the 80s when I was in Primary School, every afternoon around 3pm, a Malay boy would carry a basket of freshly fried karipap and make his rounds in my block peddling his wares. There were two flavours, curry potato and sardine, differentiated with a red dot.

This is one of my favourite Malay kuih and needless to say, I would buy one of each flavour as my afternoon snack every other day. I cannot remember how much it cost, I think one piece was 10 cents? I recall savouring the puffs while they were still warm, eating the rounded part with filling first and the crispy edges to the last or sometimes I would do the other way round :p It's a very simple snack, but it's one of those simple pleasures we enjoyed in our childhood, isn't it?

This type of homemade karipap has a very nostalgic old-school taste, with a fragrant and thin crispy blistered crust and an aromatic curry potato filling, or sweet spicy and tangy sardine filling. These days, some Malay stalls at hawker centres or coffee shops still sell such karipap but somehow they don't taste as nice as they used to be.

Nowadays, there are many variations of curry puff, from the buttery flaky ones to thick chunky ones to super crispy spiral ones and many types of fillings as well, such as chilli crab, otah otah, black pepper and more. But the old-school one still holds a special place in my heart.

When I was researching on recipes, there are also many variations to achieve different results. Some recipes use hot oil which apparently makes the pastry super flaky; some recipes use more butter and less water which makes the pastry smoother, more buttery and a bit flaky; some recipes use separate oil and water dough to get the super flaky spiral effect; the recipe I'm using uses less butter and more water, resulting in a slightly blistered pastry skin, which is similar to the old-school curry puff I grew up with.

I made only chicken potato curry filling this time, using Dancing Chef Indian Curry Paste, which has No MSG, No Preservatives, No Artificial Colouring, and super convenient and easy to use! The curry paste has all the aromatics and spices already so no messy chopping, grinding or frying work to do.

I just have to prepare some chicken breast meat, potato, onion, garlic and coconut milk (and water). I simmered the chicken curry potato till the potato is soft but not mushy and with just a little gravy left. The taste is so good without being overwhelming, really suitable as filling for curry puff or pies.

Now to the pastry part, which is trickier. Frankly this is my first proper attempt in making curry puff! I think many many years ago, I tried making it but failed miserably at the dough. Not sure what happened but I simply couldn't close the dough properly and did such a horrible job at pleating the edges that most of my puff opened up before or during deep-frying resulting in a horrible mess.

I guess with more experience in the kitchen, I did a much better job this time round \(^o^)/ The first few pleating were super ugly and my puffs were totally out of shape, but subsequently I got the hang of the pleating technique and managed to get pretty decent looking ones! But somehow I find it easier to roll the dough into an oval shape and make the puff round and fat. I think I need more practice to make the conventional long and slim one :p

Curry Puff | Karipap
(makes 18-20 pcs)

  • 1 packet Dancing Chef Indian Curry Paste
  • 300g potato, cubed
  • 200g chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  1. Marinate cubed chicken breast with 2 tbsp of curry paste for about 30 mins.
  2. In a frying pan on medium heat, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil, stir-fry diced onion and garlic till fragrant and translucent.
  3. Add the marinated chicken breast and stir-fry till the meat turns opaque/slightly cooked. 
  4. Add potato and remaining curry paste and stir-fry till all ingredients are well-coated with paste.
  5. Add water and coconut milk, and bring to boil.
  6. Lower heat,  cover and simmer till potato is soft, and gravy is reduced and the filling is moist (do not let the gravy dry up).
  7. Set aside to cool completely.

  • 375g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75g butter (I use Golden Churn canned butter)
  • 200ml water (could be slightly more or less)
  1. Add flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, stir till well-mixed for about a minute.
  2. Add butter and water (bit by bit) into the flour mixture, use a spatula to fold and mix the ingredients together. 
  3. Once the ingredients are mixed and a rough dough is formed, use the hand to knead the dough till smooth and non-sticky. 
  4. Cover the bowl with clingwrap or towel and let the dough rest for 15-20 mins.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured mat. Roll the dough to about 4mm thickness, use a 9cm round pastry cutter to cut out as many circles as possible. Knead the leftover dough into a ball, and repeat till all the dough is used up.
  1. Take a piece of round dough, roll the dough to oval shape, place the dough onto the palm, scoop about 1 tbsp of chicken potato curry onto the dough and fold the dough to close.
  2. Seal the edges by pressing the dough using finger tips. Pleat the edges together starting from right to left, by pressing a small piece of dough using finger tip into scallop, then push the scalloped piece of dough downwards. Repeat till the whole puff is pleated.
  3. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling till all ingredients are used up.
  4. The curry puffs are best eaten freshly fried. If a big batch is made, at this point, the curry puffs can be stored in freezer. Lay each piece on a lined tray single layer and cover tray with cling wrap or aluminium foil. Place the tray into the freezer. Once the puffs are frozen, they can be transferred to a ziplock bag or box and stacked.
  1. Heat a pot of cooking oil to medium heat. Make sure the depth of cooking oil is able to fully cover the curry puff.
  2. Deep-fry the curry puffs till they turn golden brown on both sides. 
  3. Drain the curry puff with kitchen towel or metal strainer.
  4. Best eaten warm.

I must say I'm quite pleased with how the curry puffs turned out :) The HB also gave thumbs up!

They are not perfect yet, but better than nothing right? This is not readily available at where I stay, and can't recall whether I see them in BKK or not. Anyways, I'm happy that I can now make a big batch and freeze them so that I can satisfy my cravings anytime!

I'm gonna explore other fillings next time round, like sardine and even Thai flavours like Tom Yum or green curry!

Meanwhile, let me enjoy a few more shiokalicious curry puffs with a nice warm cuppa Teh Tarik and reminisce the good old days!

Happy National Day in advance to all Singaporeans!

From 1 to 31 August 2018, purchase 3 packets of Dancing Chef™’s pastes or sauces at just S$7.85 (UP: S$2.85/packet), and stand a chance to win a pair of passes to a cooking workshop helmed by local celebrity chef Lisa Leong on 16 Sep 2017. There are 30 pairs of passes to be won.

Dancing Chef promotion is available at FairPrice supermarkets exclusively.

#dancingchef #dancing chefs