Chinese Bakery Buns

Backstory time: as we’ve mentioned in a few other posts lately, Megan and I have been making care packages for both sets of parents during the current pandemic. It has been a nice way for us to keep connected with family over the past few months. With Hong Kong-style cafes being closed right now my parents are unable to go out and enjoy their regular afternoon tea, so making Chinese bakery buns for our care packages was a no-brainer! We started to test recipes as early as March, and after a few iterations we can finally share this recipe with everyone.

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How to Make Mini Baguettes at Home

About a month ago, it was Megan’s birthday. Because of the current need for social distancing, we had to make the best of it by celebrating at home. Instead of getting takeout or delivery, we decided on homemade versions of some of her favourite treats. She requested baked wings and potato wedges for dinner (an ode to St. Louis), and Vietnamese subs (banh mi) for lunch. I didn’t have a recipe for the traditional sub buns, so I opted to make mini baguettes instead. I messed up the recipe the first time because of a miscalculation (believe it or not, I’m a certified Math teacher), so of course I had to make baguettes again… and again. I ended up making multiple versions of the recipe: first correcting my mistake, then adjusting and experimenting. This was kind of a win-win: I learned a lot and we got to eat a lot of pretty decent baguettes in the process.

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Naan

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Megan and I have been trying to eat vegetarian from Sunday through Thursday, and Indian food is a veggie option that we’re quite fond of. Many of the dishes we like are hearty with big flavours, so we don’t find ourselves missing meat. Most curries also freeze really well, so we normally make bigger batches and keep some for later use. We used the last of our basmati rice the other day, so it was time to test out some naan recipes.

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Growing your own sourdough starter (levain)

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Our sourdough starter, Chad, fast asleep in the fridge.

The idea of growing your own sourdough starter from just flour and water is something that many people shy away from. Maybe the idea of fermenting something at home is intimidating or unappealing; maybe it seems too risky or complicated. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame because the process itself is actually quite easy, and the starter can be used to yield wonderful results in the kitchen! In any case, the point of this short post is to dispel those nasty rumours and let you know that with a little patience, you can make your very own sourdough baby completely from scratch!

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Pain de mie

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As part of our nutrition club at school, the students often come for a snack whenever they are hungry. The simplest thing for them to do is to grab a bagel, toast it and put some spreadable cream cheese on it, (trust me they tell me when it’s not the spreadable kind). We haven’t managed to get a proper bagel recipe yet, that’s probably our next project. But in the meantime, we have managed to standardize a pain de mie recipe  that’s easy to make in our 74 minute time frame. It takes an extra day or two, but that’s OK. For Ms. Brignull’s class, they even used this recipe for a fundraiser where the students made the bread into grilled cheese sandwiches to sell with soup and one-of-a-kind bowls produced by Ms. Levay’s class.

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