"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

(Best?) Ensaymada Recipe #2 (Bread Machine)

Bread Machine Ensaymada
Ensaymada using Bread Machine
UPDATE (11/16/08): Just for fun I googled ensaymada recipe and found a yahoo answers webpage that voted this particular recipe as best answer to the question pertaining to ensaymada. Two yahoo users posted a copy-paste of my recipe and how-to's below, although they did not provide reference to my kusina (which, I think, is a disservice for those whose question they answered, and was quite unfair to me not being credited, but it's okay. As long as it gives me the satisfaction that there are those who have tried this recipe and actually recommend it to others, even without letting me know, I still feel honored...
After getting tired of kneading using the first recipe I posted about earlier, I experimented twisting some other similar recipes for bread machine, and came up with this recipe. I now prefer this (less messy) method. It still gives me that familiar taste of ensaymada I used to eat from our cheap bakery when I was a kid (This ensaymada is NOT goldilocks or red ribbon-type, but it is the type I used to eat a lot when I was a kid. If you want the soft, fluffy, light-colored ensaymada that will remind you of Goldilocks or Red Ribbon, try the supersoft ensaymada). Everyday when it was being baked, I would eagerly wait for the first batch to come out, and would wait patiently until I could brush it with margarine without melting, then dip into a bowl of sugar. Yum-yum!

As a bonus, I am using part of the dough to make mini-Spanish bread, which my kids (including stepd) are crazy about, they're gone in minutes!

Ensaymada Recipe #2: Bread Machine Method using bread machine yeast

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Whoopie Pies

These, in my opinion, are more like soft cookies, or small cakes, instead of pies.

The photos shown below were taken way back in 2004 (payat pa ako nun). One picture shows my niece when I was receiving the lesson from my MIL and we were in my SIL's house then. The rest of the photos were during my first try to bake them.

Whoopie Pies are a favorite of my in-laws, and my husband gave me a Kitchen Aid standing mixer on our first Christmas together that I may learn how to make them for him. "You can never buy them the same from any store around," he says. And I guess the reason is that we use fresh egg whites for the creamy filling. The commercial ones taste like plain lard mixed with confectioner's sugar and vanilla (yuck!).

Caution: If you do not trust the freshness of the eggs, I do not recommend that you try this recipe. If you can get fresh eggs from a neighboring farm, then by all means, make these! (that is, if you are not allergic to eggs nor is your tummy squeamish)

Filling -
2 1/4 cup shortening
6 cups confectioner's sugar
6 egg whites
3 tsp vanilla

Dough -
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 cups milk + 2 tbsp vinegar
8 heaping tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla

Filling -
1. Cream (beat together) the shortening and sugar well under moderate speed.
2. Add egg whites one at a time under slow setting, gradually increasing in speed until high.
3. When fluffy and forms soft peaks, turn speed to moderate then add vanilla and increase speed again until the right spreading consistency is achieved. Place in a ziploc bag then put inside the fridge until ready to use.

Dough -
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F.
2. Cream the shortening and sugar first. Beat well.
3. Mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
4. Add eggs/egg yolks one at a time to the creamed sugar and shortening and beat on low going to medium until lemony creamy.
5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk-vinegar mixture under low setting into the cream. Scrape bowl with spatula from time to time.
6. Add vanilla.
7. Place in ziploc bag. Cut one corner of the bag and squeeze out about 1 tbsp of dough onto baking pan lined with aluminum foil (makes it easier to change pans if you make bigger batches), 2 inches apart.
8. Bake for 10 minutes.
9. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
10. Put the filling and sandwich between two cookies.
11. Refrigerate those which you will not consume right away. (Remember, there are raw egg whites there).

Ensaymada Recipe #1 (Manual)

Quite late, but here it is as promised.

As with the bread machine method, the ensaymada resulting from this recipe is like the ones I used to eat a lot when I was a kid, the kind of ensaymada you can get from the nearby bakery in the Philippines, not from goldilocks or red ribbon. This is only made more special by virtue of its very ingredients: more eggyolks and butter.

I have tried both manual and bread machine methods. I still prefer using the bread machine, but the manual was my first attempt, so here goes the recipe.

Recipe #1: Manual method using Rapid Rise Instant Yeast

6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour – (measure separately and put in 3 separate bowls 2 cups first then 1/2 cup then 4 cups to make a total of 6-1/2; reserve the last ½ cup for dusting while kneading)
3/4 cup sugar
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN'S RapidRise Yeast - If you do not have this, just look for anything equivalent to instant yeast (this is mixed with the flour before the hot liquid. 1 envelope = 2-1/4 tsp )
1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup milk (You may want to experiment using buttermilk instead of milk)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 large egg
3 egg yolks (reserve 1 egg white for Egg Glaze – optional; if you are wondering what to do with egg whites, you can use it for meringue or just use for tortang talong and the likes)

about 1/2 cup melted butter for brushing prior to rising

Softened (not melted) butter or margarine
Granulated sugar
grated white cheese or any other cheese you fancy (optional)

Directions (See earlier post for slide presentation)
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120o to 130o F). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup flour. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough (leave about ½ cup for dusting while kneading). Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. (If preparing one night ahead, you can refrigerate at this point, a method I prefer because it is then easier to manipulate the dough. Grease a big bowl with shortening, put the dough in it and turn it over so that the dough is covered with grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap then refrigerate. The plastic wrap will prevent the dough from drying up on the exposed surface.)

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (I do it by halves - cut in half first then cut each half into another half so that I have 4 big pieces. Then I cut each into half again, then cut into 3 to make 6 pieces for each of the 4 big pieces). Using both your hands, roll each piece to make ropes about 1 foot long or more, with the diameter about the same as your middle finger. Make a loose coil with each rope (parang katol; you can even give more allowance for rising), tuck the end under and lay flat on the greased baking sheet (or use parchment paper). Brush each piece right away with a generous amount of softened margarine or melted butter (so that the coil’s grooves are more pronounced. If you don’t, the dough sticks at the grooves and it appears as pyramid instead of a nice mound). Let rise until doubled. (I usually place them inside the oven, along with a bowl filled with hot water, then I heat the oven for 1 minute then turn it off and let the warm air speed up the rising process. Usually they are ready after 15-20 minutes, but you may extend some more if you want puffier buns. I then open the oven door carefully and gradually so as to avoid creating draft then take out the sheets carefully to avoid jarring them -- these might flatten the dough if you are not careful; what we term as "bumagsak.") Put the baking sheets on the countertop where there is no draft.
You might have to prolong the rising time to more than 40 minutes depending on the level of humidity and the temperature where you are (I was told by some that theirs did not rise too much so the buns turned out quite too solid). Keep eyeballing if the buns have doubled in size. You can now start heating the oven.
Brush with Egg Glaze (optional). Bake at 375o F for 12-15 minutes or until done and top is golden dark brown if with glaze or golden light brown if without. (I usually start checking periodically after 10 minutes for the individual rolls. Remove from baking sheets (this avoids sweating at the bottom part so it won’t turn soggy there); cool on wire racks until lukewarm just so that the softened butter or margarine will not melt when brushed. Dip in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat (or you can just sprinkle on top). If storing some pieces, it is better not to put butter/margarine and sugar yet. Cool them completely (about 10 minutes or so; keep touching them) then immediately store in an airtight Ziploc bag to avoid sweating (which will make them soggy and also will encourage faster mold growth). If you live in an area where humidity is too low, avoid exposing to air beyond the time for complete cooling, or the buns will dry out and will be hard. When reheating, place in the microwave for 10-15 seconds (depending on the microwave) to make it lukewarm before applying butter/margarine and sugar. As advised by breadworld.com, leftover breads are better left in room temp instead of inside the fridge. Refrigerating makes them stale faster.

Egg Glaze: Combine 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water; beat lightly until well blended. This will create a very dark golden brown top. (I like the contrast. For those who usually think a dark crust means overdone, it will be such a surprise to bite into the softness of the ensaymada, and that wonderful first bite will reveal a yellowish-whitish interior).

You may want to bake them braided or in rounded pans if you want to wrap them as gift (as I did for Christmas) to friends.

Tuwang-tuwa sila!

UPDATE as of 4/2/09: Vincent posted his own take of ensaymada on thefreshloaf, with changes involving omission of milk and adding an extra yolk. Hmmmm....yum!

Leche Flan (using Whole Eggs)

Whole Egg Leche Flan is very creamy!
I had a post about leche flan in my old kusina, but the how-to's were in a geocities page which is now not viewable. Since there have been those who requested, I am now re-posting it, with my fave recipe and my usual methods.

My MIL usually sneaks into the kitchen to get a slice of this when we get together even before dinner is served on some special occasions. "It kinda grows on you," she said. (Her initial acceptance was mild, now she's kinda addicted to it, so whenever I get lots of fresh eggs from them, I make one for them.)

Some think that egg whites prevent the leche flan from turning very creamy. This is still creamy, and the outcome has a lot to do with the technique in preparation. I do it slow and low (long, 1-hr baking in a water bath on low temp of 295 deg F). Some think using the strainer is the best way to make it smooth. I (the radical me) have made use of the pulse setting of a blender (short bursts only) to make a homogenous mixture with minimal waste (Have you tried using the strainer for this purpose? Then you know how hard it is to push the eggwhite through the mesh, and how hard it is to clean it up later). I like this reecipe not only because it tastes so good in my opinion (I got the recipe from Milkmaid label sometime when I was still in high school), but also it does not make me crazy trying to figure out what to do with the egg whites (like the recipe using egg yolks only). And more importantly, egg white is mainly protein, and egg yolk is mostly cholesterol. So, I really do not want to waste protein and make the egg flan cholesterol-laden, when I can have very rich-tasting leche flan this way (any of my friends who have tasted this can attest to that. In fact, whenever we get together and they see a leche flan on the table, they blurt out "Yehey! Pinagdasal ko yan na gumawa ka ng leche flan. Buti gumawa ka!" I have tasted the yolk-only flan, and to me, it is just too rich, like the cheesecake that my SIL makes and I am not crazy about (nor is my husband, so I am not too motivated to make one). Hence, I have been making this for >20 yrs (steamed when I was in PI on moderate heat for 30 minutes covered with foil, now baked in water bath for 1 hr or so at 295 F).

UPDATE as of March 2008: I brought this as my contribution to a fund-raising activity we had at work, and according to my co-workers, many were asking who made this rich cheesecake-like dessert, and they were raving about it. It was such a big hit!

1/2 cup white sugar
4 whole eggs
1 can condensed milk (14-oz)
1 can evaporated milk (15-oz)
1 tsp vanilla (alternative: few drops of McCormick lemon extract essence)
(optional: 1 8-oz cream cheese + 1 additional egg for cheesecake-like flan)


NOTE: I prefer to use the oven, using water bath method.

1. Caramelize the sugar in an 8-inch round aluminum pan over low heat (#3 on my stove setting). You may swirl the pan around (use tongs to hold) or stir with a spoon once it starts to melt. It can easily scorch and will be bitter if that happens, so keep an eye on that (takes about 20-30 mins before it start melting, and I prefer a bit of bitterness like that of coffee).
UPDATE (11-21-08): You may want to try caramelizing sugar in the microwave. Place 1 cup of sugar in microwave-safe cup (Pyrex is ok) and add enough water (about 2-3 tbsp) to wet all of the sugar.  Microwave for about 4-5 minutes, keep watching starting on the 4th minutes and wait until it turns into amber-colored liquid per your preference (if you want it lighter, stop earlier). Grab with gloves on (this is very hot!) and then pour into the pan that you are going to cook your flan in, whether small custard cups or 8-in round baking pan. (Make sure your pan sits on a towel or trivet to protect your tabletop/countertop. Quickly tilt to coat before it hardens. (Tip: You may want to let your pan sit on hot water so the caramel would not harden right away once it touches the pan.) See video below.

2. While still hot and fluid, swirl to distribute the caramel to the sides and bottom of the pan.
3. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool and let the caramel solidify.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the steamer (alternatively, you may use the oven, heated to 295 degrees).
5. Mix the rest of the ingredients while heating the steamer (or oven) using the pulse setting in a blender (push the pulse button for about 3 seconds 3 times or until the mixture appears homogenous). Avoid prolonging the blending such that it creates lots of bubbles.
6. When steamer (or oven) is ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
7. Cover with foil before placing in steamer (If using oven, place the pan uncovered into a larger pan with water such that water reaches about 1 inch up the sides of of the leche flan pan- aka water bath). Steam for 30 minutes on medium heat (or bake for about 1 hr at 295 deg F).
8. Check for doneness (I prefer wiggling it rather than using toothpick. If it wiggles at the center pretty much like jello, that is done for me. If it is too fluid, I steam/bake some more.).
9. Let cool before serving (I prefer it chilled for 3 days with foil cover before eating. My in-laws and husband prefer it fresh from the oven).
10. Run a knife around the edges of the flan. Invert onto a deep platter (or pan) to serve.

P.S. This and other recipes were featured in Hannaford fresh magazine (article on page 10) for the May-June 2007 issue, but they revised some of my recipes (probably because they deemed the revisions would cater better to their general readers).

UPDATE as of 4/2/09: Here's a comment from Anna of France (she made the comment under Custard Cake):
i tried your leche flan recipe,and its perfect recipe,leche flan using egg whites,napa wow talaga ako sa texture nya..so creamy, and you are right na super rich talga pag eggyolks lang..thank you atlast my recipe na ako sa leche flan na hindi ma waste ang whites.;
thank u so much for being so kind sharing recipes like this.

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