“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Monday, 21 November 2016

Melon Pan

The weekend was relaxing, slow paced and languid on choice. As we sat out sipping first tea, the Sun was already up. Delicious warmth of the Sun, nippy air, a million bird songs, aroma of autumnal blooms was like a lullaby. There being no compulsion to scurry in the kitchen packing tiffins and running around to be in time, we stayed out in the Sun in cheerful unconsciousness not bothering to keep a track of the time.

A rustle of the leaves and some movement around our fish pond caught attention. We saw a Crow Pheasant. Perhaps it was attracted by the water but a little reluctant to enter the pond. We placed a bird bath close to the pond or our guest.

After a planned brunch, we gathered in our kitchen and soon there were animated conversations amidst the clink and clank of the pots and pans. We decided on baking Melon Pans. Kids wanted to have fun shaping some like turtles.  There was a lot of mess but great fun too, and,  the tray finally entered the oven.

Melon Pan is a classic Japanese sweet bread covered with a thin layer of crisp cookie crust with grid line pattern on top. Melon pans are made from an enriched dough. You’ll love to bite into the crisp cover with soft sweet buns inside.

Melon Pan


Main Dough
  1. 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  2. ¼ cup cake flour*
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 3 tablespoons fine sugar
  5. 1 ¼ teaspoons dry instant yeast
  6. 1 large egg beaten
  7. 3 ½ tablespoon warm milk
  8. ¼ cup warm water
  9. 2 ½ tablespoons butter cut into cubes

Cookie Dough
  1. 4 tablespoons butter
  2. ½ cup fine sugar or powdered sugar
  3. 1 large egg beaten
  4. 1 ½ cup and 2 tablespoons cake flour*
  5. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  7. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for topping
  8. And also, some chocolate chips

Main Dough
  • Whisk together first five ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Now add beaten egg, warm milk and 3 ½ tablespoon warm water.
  • Use a spatula to gently mix the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Dough will be wet and sticky and a bit messy. You may use your hands to bring it together. In case if the dough is dry, you may add more water.
  • Once it comes together as a loose ball, transfer it to the counter dusted with flour.
  • Knead dough by pushing it forward with the heels of your hand and then pulling it back with fingers.
  • Stretch the dough, fold the top half of the dough in half back toward you. Stretch and repeat.
  • Repeat this process for about 5 minutes. This will develop gluten strands. The dough will become more and more manageable and supple. If dough is sticky, dust your hands with flour and knead.
  • After 5 to 8 minutes, once dough becomes smooth and elastic, stretch into a rectangle. Put cubes of butter and roll up the dough. Begin to knead by stretching and pulling.
  • Your hands and work surface will become greasy and messy initially but with time, dough will keep absorbing butter and become manageable.
  • Bang the dough on work surface and roll it away from you. Repeat. Push out with the heels of your palm and pull it back. After 5 to 6 minutes, you’ll get smooth silky dough.
  • Shape the dough into a ball by pulling from the sides to the bottom and pinching them together.
  • Place in a greased bowl and cover with a cling film. Keep in a warm place for 1 ½ hour.
  • While the dough is rising, work on the cookie dough

Cookie Dough
  • Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and beat till well mixed.
  • Whisk together flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
  • Add to the wet mixture. Mix till dough comes together.
  • Collect the dough and make into a ball. Keep in the refrigerator.
  • After 50 minutes when the dough becomes hard, cut into 10 equal pieces.
  • Take 3 pieces and keep the rest in the refrigerator. Crumble the three pieces and add cocoa powder. Knead till you get a uniform colour. Put it back in the refrigerator.

Shaping Main Dough
  • Transfer the risen dough onto the counter, press the dough and deflate.
  •  Fold in in thirds and repeat.
  • Shape it into a ball. With a sharp knife divide into half and make five equal pieces of both the halves. You get 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball by stretching and folding the sides.
  •  Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. 
  • Cover with a wet kitchen towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Shaping Melon Pans
  • While the dough balls are resting, take out cookie dough pieces on the floured counter. Shape into balls and roll out into small circles of about 10 cm one by one.
  • Take dough pieces. Deflate and fold in thirds. Shape into balls by stretching and folding.
  • Take cookie circle in your hand, place dough ball with seam side up and wrap around cookie circle. Repeat for all the pieces. 
  • Dip the melon pans into a bowl with sugar. Dust off extra sugar and make three cuts each side with a knife.
  • If you want to shape some like turtles, pinch out 4 small pieces of dough for face, two flippers and a tail. Shape the pieces. Prepare a paste with 1 teaspoon of all-purpose flour and water to get a glue like consistency. Dip them into this paste and attach them.
  • Place on the baking tray, seam side down. Cover with a cling film and keep in warm place to rise for about 50 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. The tops should begin to brown. 
  • Rotate bread pieces for even browning. Use choco chips for eyes for turtle shaped bread
  • Cool in the rack. Store in an airtight container.

*If you do not have cake flour, you can make it at home,

Take 1 cup all-purpose flour. Remove 2 tablespoons flour. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Mix well.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Honey Beet Bread #BreadBakers

When God was creating seasons, he became partial to Autumn and bestowed it with boundless beauty, great warmth, and immense grandeur. By creating Autumn, God infused beauty in our lives. Beauty is a source of great happiness and bliss.

Majority of our time is being spent in the lap of nature that is so welcoming and soothing. Our curry leaf plant is full of fat caterpillars waiting for nature’s magic wand to convert them into beautiful butterflies. 

Some more caterpillars are being nourished by brinjal plants and we don’t mind the leaves being chomped but definitely wonder at the patterns carved so perfectly.

Peacock tree keeps attracting butterflies. A garden lizard is hiding on the top branches of the same tree and sunning itself while keeping an eye on them calmly.

The Yellow trumpet flowers bloom profusely inviting bees in great numbers. There is constant hum as we stand under the tree and the mild fragrance of the blooms intoxicates our senses.

My daughter while watering the plants discovered a small pumpkin hiding in the tall grass.

 We decided to make pumpkin soup for the cold evening and Honey Beet bread to go with it.

The bread has the autumnal feel to it. It turns out tasty, beety and beautiful, speckled with shreds of beets. If you love beets, you'll definitely love this bread.

Honey Beet Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup grated raw beets
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • I tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons oil (any vegetable oil)

  1. Whisk together first two ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Squeeze out the juice from grated beets. Add grated beets to flour mix.
  3. Add honey to water and mix well. Add yeast and cover for 10 minutes. Yeast  should begin to foam. Add butter.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and knead dough. Keep adding warm milk while kneading to get a very soft and supple dough.
  5. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Turn around dough so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a dry and warm place to rise for 1 hour or until double.
  6. Punch dough and knead for another 4 -5 minutes. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Transfer dough to a floured counter. Roll it out into a rectangle not bigger than the width of the pan you are using. Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal. Place it in a greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan with the seam side down.
  8. Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave it to rise for 1 hour or till it crests above the rim of the pan.
  9. During the last 10 minutes of rising, preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  10. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till it turns golden from the top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, cover with a foil.
  11. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
  12. Slice next day.

    #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
    Our host this month is Karen Kerr who  blogs at - http://www.karenskitchenstories.com/ I admire her baking skills.Thank you, Karen for the interesting theme and for hosting the event.  She chose root vegetables as the theme this month. Follow our Pinterest board right here.Links are also updated each month on this home page.
    This is what we baked this month.........

  • Beetroot Bread from Sara's Tasty Buds
  • Caramelized Onion Cheddar Bread from Hezzi-D's Cooks and Books
  • Caramelized Onion Gouda Casatiello from Hostess at Heart
  • Carrot Spiced and Teff Bread from kidsandchic
  • Garlic Cheese Bombs from Sizzling Tastebuds
  • Ginger Sweet Rolls from Passion Kneaded
  • Honey Beet Bread from Ambrosia
  • Korean Onion Bread from Gayathri's Cook Spot
  • Potato Dinner Rolls from Cook's Hideout
  • Pull Apart Onion Bread from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Rustic Parsnip Bread from Food Lust People Love
  • Sourdough Onion Pockets from Karen's Kitchen Stories
  • Sweet Potato Bread from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
  • Colocasia Root (Taro Root) Flatbread from Mayuri's Jikoni
  • Garlic and Herb Wreath Bread from Herbivore Cucina
  • Stuffed Aloo Parathas from Sneha's Recipes
  • Parsnip, Asiago, and Sage Bread from A Shaggy Dough Story
  • BreadBakers

    If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

    Friday, 28 October 2016

    Sheer Pira - Afghani Milk Fudge

    Festivals give a great reason for a little indulgence. One can get a little brave and not think of calories while making sweets at home. Home- made is healthy, home- made is happy. We’ve always had a tradition of making sweets at home during festivities. The atmosphere at home would be charged and  spirits high. Amongst high decibels of non-stop  chatter, delicacies would be prepared and it would be a complete team work. Keeping the same beautiful trend going, we made a delicious Afghani sweet – Sheer Pira.

    Sheer Pira is a melt in the mouth, juicy and delicious milk fudge.  It is easy to prepare and is a very  healthy dessert. It has a great texture and robust flavours of rose water and cardamom that make it delectable.   It is chewy and a very addictive sweet. It is low on calories.

    Sheer Pira – Afghani Milk Fudge
    1 ½ cups milk powder
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup water
    1 tablespoons rose water
    1 teaspoon cardamom powder
    ½ cup walnuts
    ½ cup almonds
    ¼ cup shelled raw pistachios
    2 teaspoons butter
    Powder walnuts and almonds in a food processor.
    In a deep bowl, take milk powder, powdered walnuts, almonds, and cardamom. Stir to mix well.
    Powder pistachios coarsely.
    Take a plate and grease it generously with butter.
    In a steel wok, take water. Add sugar. Bring it to a boil.
    Keep stirring and let the syrup come to a rolling boil.
    Take a drop in a plate and test it between index finger and thumb for one string consistency.
    Turn off the heat. Add rose water. Stir.
    Add milk powder,   powdered nuts and cardamom. Stir to mix well so that the mixture becomes smooth and shiny.
    Empty the mixture into the greased plate. Tilt the plate so that it spread uniformly.
    Dust with powdered pistachios. Press with your hands so that pistachios set into the mixture.
    Keep in a dry place for 45 minutes to 1 hour till cold.
    With a sharp knife cut squares.
    Keep is a container.

    Wednesday, 26 October 2016

    Onion Cheese Bread

    A trip to the hills happened last weekend. Unplanned trips are always thrilling and exciting and specially if it to the hills. Excitedly we packed a few clothes, not forgetting the woollens. Autumn is the best time in the hills. The sky is cloudless, afternoons   warm, mornings and evenings nippy. Excitement is to stop by some forest and have food, walk in the narrow tracks, watch the birds and chase butterflies. Communion with nature always brings peace and happiness.

    We stopped midway to stretch out our jammed limbs and loved the rustle of the wind as it passed through massive pine trees.

    A day before we started our journey, two loaves of Onion Cheese Bread were baked. Sometimes, finding simple food of your choice in the hills is not easy. With kids who feel hungry at the most unexpected hours, it is best to carry bread. One can eat it with cheese spread or butter, dip in the tea or milk and even have with some veggie.

    Next day, we trekked on a narrow trail flanked by pine trees. The cobbled path was mossy, slippery and damp as monsoons stayed and overstayed this year. Having spotted a meadow, we sat down to get our breath back. 

    Some children playing in their courtyard in a house nearby smiled at us. Soon we were all perched on the flattish rocks warmed by the Sun, munching homemade bread sandwiches which we shared with the village kids. Their cherubic smiles won our heart. 

    Onion Cheese Bread
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    ¼ cup lukewarm water
    ¼ cup water at room temperature
    ¼ teaspoon yeast (instant dry yeast)
    Mix yeast and warm water and let stand until creamy,   about 10 ten minutes.
    Add remaining water to yeast mixture. Add half cup flour. Stir with a spoon until well combined. Add remaining flour and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until  sticky dough forms.
    Transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 -24 hours or until the starter is triple its volume. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
    ¾ cup biga
    ½ cup warm milk
    ½ cup warm water
    2 tablespoons honey
    2 ¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast
    4 ½ cups all- purpose flour
    2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups grated cheddar cheese
    1 ½ cups minced onion
    In a bowl, mix milk and ¼ cup water. Stir in honey. Add yeast. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes, until frothy.
    In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cheese and onions.
    To knead dough, break up biga and add to yeast mixture. Stir until fairly mixed.
    Add dry ingredients slowly and keep stirring. When you’ve added all the dry ingredients, transfer shaggy dough to the floured counter. Knead for about 6 to 8 minutes. If the dough feels dry, add more water.
    Minced onions make dough moist. Adjust water quantity accordingly.
    Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until double.
    Scrape the dough into floured counter. Punch the dough and divide into two equal pieces.
    Roll out each piece into one 8 inch x 10-inch rectangle and then roll up into a log. Pinch seams to seal. Shape the logs like baguettes (long and narrow at the edges)
    Place the logs on a greased baking tray. Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise or 45 minutes or until puffy.
    Sprinkle flour on the surface and give three diagonal cuts quickly with a sharp knife.
    Bake in preheated oven at 220 degrees C for about 25 minutes or until the top turns a golden brown.
    Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

    Thursday, 20 October 2016

    Cheese Buns

    The tall grass tickles our legs as we make way through the thicket to reach the hibiscus tree at the back. The warm and soothing autumn Sun falls and our back we enjoy the balminess. 

    A plethora of butterflies is out on business. They sample one flower after the other keep fluttering all over the place. Morning glory adds colour and beauty to the greenness.

     Autumn is beautiful as ever.
    We planted some pumpkin seeds during monsoons and left the rest to nature. 

    We saw lovely yellow funnel-shaped flowers too. The tall grass and wild bushes grew big and blocked the view. Three months later, as we inspect the branches of the hibiscus tree, our happiness knew no bounds to discover not one, not two but three robust pumpkins. We admire the rotundity and size of our pumpkins and feel happy that we have a green thumb. 

    The pumpkins are left to ripen
    Autumn evenings are pleasant and the air is nippy. Soup is boiling in the stove. We have made some cheese stuffed buns to go with the hot soup. The buns are warm and soft and the cheese oozes out as we bite into them.

    Cheese Buns
    ½ cup warm milk
    ¼ cup warm water
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
    4 tablespoons butter + 2 teaspoons for brushing
    4 buds garlic minced
    2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    ¾ teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons Italian spice mix (or, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, thyme, and rosemary)
    4 cheddar cheese cubes
    Combine first four ingredients in a deep bowl. Stir. Cover. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
    Whisk flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl. Heat butter in a pan, add garlic and cook for one minute. Add to flour mix.
    Add liquid ingredients and knead. After kneading for 6 to 8 minutes, the dough should become soft and supple. Cover with a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
    While the dough is resting, grease one baking tray.
    Cut each cheese cube into 6 small pieces.
    Punch dough and knead for 2-3 minutes. Roll into a long rope. Cut into 12 equal size pieces.
    Flatten a piece of dough and place 4-5 chunks of cheese. Seal the dough by bringing edges together. Place on the greased tray seam side down. Continue with the remaining dough.
    Cover and keep in a warm place for 45 minutes or until double.
    Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes.
    Remove from the oven. Brush with melted butter
    Enjoy the buns warm.

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