Regarding this month's challenge, can I just say, WOW! Seriously, great job, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? . The recipe you guys picked is simply out of this world. YOUR recipe restored my faith in my own bread making skills! I would never have believed that I am capable of producing something like this, if not for this challenge!
Despite baking for almost 7 years now, I have only attempted bread a couple of times, and as for complicated pastry like the Danish, forget it!! Those two top my list of things NOT to bake, and frankly speaking, I panicked a little when I saw the challenge, and very nearly freaked out when I was pulling my dough together, because the dough seemed to like my fingers A LOT more than the working table. Jamie Oliver, you liar.
Anyhoo, somehow or another, I did mange to pull the dough together, and I am VERY proud of myself, so much so that, first chance I get, I'm going to move on to something I have always wanted to bake but never dared-- cinnamon buns!!!
Ok, back to the challenge. I decided to fill it with home-made red bean paste, because,
1. I LOVE anything red bean
2. I love red bean paste with bread
3. Did I mention that I love red bean?
I think all you intelligent readers get the idea. So, then, how to make red bean paste? Turns out, its idiot proof!!
1 cup dried red beans [azuki or chinese]
1/2 cup sugar
Couple tablespoon of oil
Soak red beans in water, overnight. Once ready, drain well, pour into a pot, cover with enough water to reach four fingers above the beans, and boil until soft.
Once soft, drain and blend the beans to desired texture in a blender or food processor [add a little of the water the beans cooked in if the blender jams; just a little!]. If you want a silky smooth paste, press through a sieve to remove the skin. If you are happy with just smooth, and don't give two hoots about skin [like me], leave it =D
In a frying pan, heat up the oil until hot but not smoking. Pour in the bean paste and sugar, and stir it until everything is absorbed into the bean, and the paste looks relatively dry. Remove from heat and allow to cool. It will thicken and firm up beautifully once it cools. And voila, you have delicious, pillowy-mashmallowy red bean paste!
As usual, I won't go into the details of the recipe, but I will point out the highlights and the fun parts!!
The rising of the dough-- look at that!! Good work, my yeasty miracle workers!
And the braiding. Who knew it only took a matter of minutes to get the amazing braided look?? Is it just me, or does the unbraided dough resemble Davy Jones just a little?
I forgot to take pictures because I was in a bit of a rush [I woke up at 5.30 am to finish baking these babies!!], but I made a bunch of little ones, filling them with chocolate, cinnamon, and leftover red bean paste.
All in all, while being the most challenging DB challenge to date, it was also the most fun! While I would be even more thrilled if my braid had layered a bit more [check out some of the truly outstanding creations of the other daring bakers here!], I am very very pleased with my results =) My favorite flavor would have to be the chocolate one. Next time I make this recipe, I'll dedicate an entire half batch to chocolate!
This is the sum total of my yield; what a lot of bread!!
Also, since the challenge coincides quite nicely with Father's Day, and since my dad has a sweet tooth the size of texas, this challenge is dedicated to you, daddy!