Raisin Bread

A while back I made raisin rolls using the tangzhong method, a natural method that creates a wonderfully soft and fluffy bread. For those of you unfamiliar with the tangzhong method, it’s a method described in a chinese book “65 degrees tangzhong method” which creates a super soft and fluffy bread. It seems to work very well. I’ve gotten an overwhelming response from others who have tried this great method for baking bread. You can read more about making the tangzhong here.

This time I decided to make a loaf of raisin bread. I used to love raisin bread as a kid. The sweet, plump little dried bits of fruit taste delicious in this sweet fluffy bread. I do need to work on creating a more even loaf. Mine always seems slightly lopsided.

I tried to check out the 65 degrees book a while back. There is a large selection of chinese books at the library near my parent’s house. I was on the waitlist for a few months, but just last week, the book finally came in. My mom is going to help translate the recipes. I can’t wait to try out some more recipes. Until then, I’ll continue experimenting with the milk bread, which has been my favorite recipe so far.

A slice of this (or a large chunk in my case) is a perfect breakfast treat. I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting.

Raisin Bread (adapted from two of Christine’s recipes here and here,which she adapted from the 65 degrees book)
Yields 1 loaf

Ingredients:

2½ cups bread flour
3tbsp+2tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk
120g tangzhong (click here for making tangzhong)
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
1 cup of raisins

Directions
1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center. Add in all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong. Fit the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer and begin mixing on medium speed and knead until your dough comes together and then add in the butter and continue kneading.  Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not too sticky on the surface and elastic. I kneaded the dough for about 18-20 minutes. Each mixer may vary.

When the dough is ready, you should be able to take a chunk of dough and stretch it to a very thin membrane before it breaks. When it does break, the break should be form a circle.


2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Take a large bowl and grease with oil.  Place dough into  greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it proof until it’s doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
3. Transfer to a clean surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Knead into balls.  Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Take one end of the dough and fold to meet the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold to meet on top.

5. Flip dough over with the folds facing down,and flatten dough with rolling pin.
6. Flip dough over so the folds face up. Sprinkle raisins across the dough then use rolling pin to roll the raisins into the dough. Now roll the dough up. (the picture below is one I took of a plain milk bread I made previously without adding raisins.) Place each of the rolls into the bread pan and put a piece of plastic wrap over the rolls. Let them rise until double the size, approximately another 40 minutes.
7. Beat an egg and brush egg mixture on top to create shiny eggwash finish.
8. Bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes.


This past Saturday was particularly cold for San Diego standards. I was completely bundled up but when the wind blew, I felt like I wasn’t wearing anything. Hot noodle soup sounded perfect for the chilly conditions.

Mien Trung is a small Vietnamese restaurant, located next to Sushi diner and around the corner from K Sandwiches. The small space and worn sign makes it hard to spot.

Unlike the usual Vietnamese places that I have visited in the past, Mien Trung does not serve pho, but instead serves various Bún (rice vermicelli) dishes. I’ve been wanting to expand my experience with Vietnamese cuisine for a while and after some good posts on Mien Trung from mmm-yoso and A Radiused Corner, along with a recommendation from my friend Steve, I knew this would be a good place to check out.

I originally was there to try the Bun Bo Hue, which is a beef noodle soup. However, once I arrived and perused the menu, there were so many other broths and ingredients available. We decided to all get something different.

BF ordered the Bun Bo Hue

There was a lot of chili oil in the broth though you can’t really tell from the picture, and it made things a little too spicy for him. I thought it was on the spicy side as well, but I really enjoyed the lemongrass flavor and the richness of the broth.

I ordered the Bun Mang Vit, which is rice vermicelli soup with duck and bamboo shoots. The broth did not taste the same as the bun bo hue, but it was enjoyable. I liked that it arrived piping hot. I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few pieces of duck, though the ducks seemed to have been cooked too long because it didn’t have much flavor. The bamboo was a little tough and dry.

Baby Bro ordered a Bun Rieu, which has a crab flavored broth. I could definitely taste the crab flavor in the broth and I think I will try this next time.

A large plate of shredded cabbage was given to us to be added to the noodle soups.

Baby Bro’s GF ordered a dry bun dish with eggrolls and bbq pork. Her bowl consisted of some raw vegetables, topped with cooked vermicelli noodles and bbq pork and eggrolls cut up. I’m not a big fan of the dry bun dishes. I always think it’s weird that there isn’t any flavor in the noodles. I guess you are supposed to treat eating the plain noodles like eating rice.

We also got an order of eggrolls because I always want to try the eggrolls.

The skin of these eggrolls was very thick and slightly sweet. I don’t particularly like this type of egg roll skin.

We also got the steamed rice cake with shrimp and meatball.

The little rice cake pancakes are topped with shredded dried shrimp. There were also a few slices of the vietnamese meat loaf. The rice cakes by themselves did not have any flavor, but when dipped in the fish sauce, they were pretty tasty.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience here. The hot soup was perfect on such a chilly day. The prices were quite reasonable. We will be back to try more dishes. The place is pretty tiny though so it’s not great for a large crowd.

Here is the menu:

Mien Trung
7530 Mesa College Dr Ste A
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 576-0962
Mien Trung on Urbanspoon

I’ve been searching for the perfect chocolate muffin recipe for a while. Every recipe I’ve tried has been disappointing. Chocolate flavor too mild, texture too spongy, batter too dry, etc. I was looking for a chocolate muffin that had a deep chocolate flavor, was sweeter than what would be considered a healthy breakfast, but not as sweet as a cake, with a texture that is that of a muffin rather than a cupcake.

My search is finally over. During my last attempt at a chocolate muffin recipe, a reader, Meryl, left me a message. She suggested a chocolate muffin recipe by King Arthur’s Flour. As soon as she made the suggestion I got excited. I had a feeling I had found “the recipe.” You see Meryl is the same person who introduced me to the my favorite chocolate cake recipe when I was on my search for the best chocolate cake. I stopped my search after I tried the Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Cake she suggested to me.

Meryl was generous enough to provide me with the recipe with her notes. I wanted to make the recipe for a while, but I was always missing an ingredient. Finally I got around to it this weekend. The recipe was so easy to whip together. Could the best chocolate muffin recipe really be this simple?

After I let the muffins cool, I took one bite, and I knew my search was over. These were exactly what I was looking for in a chocolate muffin. I only wish that the I hadn’t used oversized muffin cups because I ended up slightly overbaking my first batch. I realize taste is very subjective and so this might not be the “best” recipe for you, but it the perfect recipe for me. Thank you Meryl!

Best Chocolate Muffins (from King Arthur’s Flour)

Yields: 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
coarse pearl sugar, for topping (optional) (I omitted this)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a standard muffin pan with paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, salt, and chocolate chips. (I put the chocolate chips in last after the rest of the batter was finished). Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there’s no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is well-combined. (I still had some little bumps in mine. I then stirred in the chocolate chips).

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the cups will be heaped with batter, and the muffin will bake into a “mushroom” shape. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, if desired. (I left out the pearl sugar)

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool for about 15 minutes on a rack before peeling off the muffin papers or silicone cups.