Wednesday 30 September 2015

Simple Hershey's Bread Loaf (Breadmaker) 自制可可面包

I have been baking my own breads and making my own jams ever since I got my breadmaker in November 2014. I cut down drastically on retail breads. I cannot be happier with the decision as I get to create some breads that are unique and unavailable from bakeries. 

It can be quite boring to be baking white breads and wholemeal breads all the time. I like to experiment with different flavours and ingredients. This simple Hershey's Bread Loaf 自制可可面包 is one such end product out of my trials. I will share many more in future.

Simple as it is, rest assure that this is one loaf that feels good, smells good and tastes good....

Download Printer Friendly Recipe
Ingredients (enough for a 750 gm bread loaf) to be added in strict sequence :

  • 260 ml water
  • 1.5 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar (You would have realised that I really cut down on salt & sugar in my recipe. Add more to your taste if you prefer.)
  • 400 gm white bread flour
  • 4 tbsp Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp instant yeast

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Tip 1 : Ingredients must be added in right sequence. Otherwise, the bread may not rise tall and well textured.

Tip 2 : Store yeast in freezer for longer life and effectiveness.

Tip 3 : When adding ingredients, do not let yeast get in direct contact with salt and water. Salt is a yeast inhibitor. It would retard or stop yeast activity.


Do not jump queue. Ingredients must be added in proper sequence in order to get a tall and well textured loaf. Add 260 ml water to bread pan first.
Follow by 1.5 tbsp cooking oil. 
Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp sugar.
Fold in 400 gm bread flour.
Add 4 tbsp Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder.
Lastly, 2 tsp instant yeast.
Lock bread pan back to breadmaker and close lid.
Set breadmaker to 'White Bread' baking mode. Select the right weightage (750 gm) and preferred colour tone (light, mid or dark) and press 'Start'. In this instance, it takes 4 hr 10 mins to deliver. Use 'Rapid' or 'Super Rapid' mode if rushing for time.
The knead blade would start working. After about 5 minutes, you would see a nicely kneaded dough. In the first few minutes, if you see the dough being too watery, add a little bread flour. If you see the dough being too dry, add a little water (tsp by tsp) slowly until satisfied. Leave the dough alone after that. Do not flip open the lid too often to peep as that would disrupt the fermentation. Leave it alone till the bread is baked. 
Remove bread loaf from breadmaker when time's due. Do not cut the bread at this stage. Cool it down first.
Beautiful loaf that is soft inside and crusty outside. Well textured with no lumps of unbaked flour inside. Smells very chocolatey....
Use bread knife to cut the loaf. Other types of knives would not work as good.
The slice goes best with chocolate's sheer indulgence.

We like this Hershey's Bread Loaf 自制可可面包 so much that we gobbled 4 slices of it right after a heavy dinner.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Beef with Bitter Gourd & Black Beans 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉

Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉 - Love it or hate it? 

People usually shun away from this dish because of their resistance to bitter gourds. I can only say you do not know what you miss! Somehow, the combination of beef, bitter gourds and fermented black beans seem like a match made in heaven. They are just able to bring out the best of one another! 

Bitter gourds are no longer so bitter and scary with Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Gourd & Black Beans 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉. Rather, this dish could become an acquired taste that you grow to love....

Ingredients (enough for 3 to 4 pax with steamed rice) :

Download Printer Friendly Recipe
  • 200 gm sliced beef/flank steak (cut against grains)
  • 1/2 bitter gourd (sliced)
  • 1 big yellow onion (sliced)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3 slices of ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp corn/potato starch 
  • 2 tbsp water (for starch mixture)
  • Cooking oil

Meat Marinate :

  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp white grounded pepper
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp shoaxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp corn/potato starch flour


  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp grounded black pepper
  • 50 ml water

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)

Tip 1 Do note that raw beef turns foul very quickly when thawed. It is not advisable to marinate raw beef for long in room temperature.

Tip 2Replace beef with pork slices if you do not cook or/and consume beef.


Slit bitter gourd into half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and white inner flesh. This would remove much bitterness from the bitter gourd.
Cut bitter gourd into slices at a 45-degree angle. It would allow thickness and texture conducive for stir frying.
Boil a pot of water and add 1 tsp salt. Fold in bitter gourd slices and blanch for 1 minute when water boils. 
Immediately transfer bitter gourd slices to a bowl of ice cold water after blanch. Soak for a minute, drain and set aside.
Combine all marinating ingredients into a bowl and toss evenly with raw beef.
Leave to marinate for 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well. Set aside.
Heat cooking oil in skillet/wok. Add aromatic ingredients in sequence : ginger first then follow by garlic.
Fold in marinated beef slices and quick toss till 80% cooked.
Transfer beef onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
Combine 1 tsp corn/potato starch flour and 2 tbsp water into a bowl and stir well.
Heat cooking oil to skillet/wok again.
Toss in bitter gourd slices that were set aside earlier and lightly sauté.
Add yellow onions slices and give it a quick toss.
Turn to high heat. Add fermented black beans. Toss all ingredients for 1 minute. 
Fold in starch and give all ingredients a quick toss again.
Let ingredients simmer for 30 seconds.
Toss in beef slices that were set aside earlier and stir fry all ingredients till fully cooked and evenly coated with sauce. The sauce would be cooked down and thickened at this stage.
Add 1/2 tsp sesame oil before transferring to serving plate.

Need I say more? The aroma in the house tells it all! Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Gourd & Black Beans 豆豉苦瓜炒牛肉 - definitely another family classic.

Monday 28 September 2015

Bitter Gourd Pork Ribs Soup 苦瓜排骨汤

Bitter Gourd Pork Ribs Soup 苦瓜排骨汤 used to be my least favourite soup as I could not tolerate the bitterness exuded from this vegetable-fruit. Maybe I am aging or perhaps the newer breeds of bitter gourds  are no longer as bitter as they used to be. Whilst I had to rub the bitter gourds with salt to kill the bitterness in the past, I actually have problems retaining the bitterness in the bitter gourds when brewing the soup nowadays. 

Bitter or not, we cannot deny the nutritional benefits bitter gourds bring us. Briefly, we know that bitter gourds are known to lower blood sugar levels, an excellent source for Vitamins A and C, help in relieving indigestion and constipation issues etc. 

For such simple reasons, we should give Bitter Gourd Pork Ribs Soup 苦瓜排骨汤 a chance. In fact, I have gone from resisting to really liking it now....

Ingredients (enough for 4 pax) :

  • 1 bitter gourd  (washed and cut to slices)
  • 2 carrots (washed, peeled and chopped to chunks)
  • 4-5 pcs of pork ribs or loins (blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes to remove scum beforehand). Each piece about a half-fist size.
  • 8 pcs pitted dried red dates/jujube 红枣 (use pitted red dates as the seeds are heaty)
  • 8 pcs of small dried scallops 干瑤柱
  • 1 tbsp wolfberries 枸杞子
  • 2 litre water

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Tip : Rub bitter gourd chunks with salt if you prefer to reduce the bitterness in them.

Method :

Put all ingredients into soup pot EXCEPT wolfberries.
Add 2 liters of water. Bring to boil in high heat. Turn to low-medium heat once the water/soup hits boiling point. Continue to boil for 2 hours. 
If you are using a pressure cooker like me, set to "No.1" or "low pressure" and boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour at medium heat.
Fold in wolfberries 5 minutes before turning heat off.
Transfer to serving bowl and serve while hot.