Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Love/Hate Relationship With Brioche



What have I said that I will say again.

Time and again, I fall for its crafty, buttery, egg yolky charms.

Most sometimes, I hate how it's made me try, try, and try and try somemore.

Rare othertimes, I love how it's made me try, try, and try and try somemore.

Best part is, regardless, I try, try, and try and try somemore.

And so, hate it or love it, as far as brioche is concerned, I will be trying, trying, and trying and trying somemore, such is its spellbinding power, ever holding (or withholding) the promise of paradisiacal perfection. Brioche is a most contrary mistress, and in every sense. Ethereal yet rich, and most most tempestuous, attempting to hone and perfect a brioche recipe is as one would imagine an exercise in patience not terribly different from the taming of the shrew.

Some women are addicted to bad relationships. While I thankfully got that out of my system many moons ago, I seem to have traded it for an addiction to truculent recipes. The agony and the ecstasy, really, sometimes, are one and the same.
But once grasped, a fabulous brioche recipe becomes a many-splendoured thing. It can form the basis of many preparations, from flamiche to kugelhopf.
If I had to pick a favourite, the kugelhopf from Holiday Treats II, the demo class I'll be teaching at Shermay's Cooking School on 27 November 2010 (Saturday) and 28 November 2010 (Sunday), is most certainly the one. For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or 6479 8414, or email

I've tried to strike a balance in this particular menu between the challenging-but-oh-so-gratifying-to-perfect and the simple-but-spectacular, hopefully those of you attending will find it as pleasing a mix too, accommodating of schedules both flexible and tight.

The menu:
Kugelhopf From Alsace to Austria, this traditional European specialty is equally beloved for good reason. Buttery yet delicate, the fruited yeast-leavened dough has a superb texture that’s the perfect cross between cake and bread. Leftovers make for excellent Bread Pudding or Pain Perdu.

Gingerbread Linzertorte This lovely twist on a beloved Austrian classic features a beautifully spiced gingerbread crust coddling a raspberry jam filling.

White Christmas Parfait A dreamy, creamy, light-as-snow frozen dessert with cranberries, pistachios and Valrhona Ivoire 35% white chocolate (an ice cream machine is not required for this recipe).

Peppermint Fudge Brownies An ultra luxe brownie recipe featuring an extravagant quantity of Valrhona Manjari 64% dark chocolate, bound by just a little flour. The result? Fudgy brownie heaven. These special treats are also used as the base for decorated miniature stacked brownie tiers.

Bonus Section I – Decorating Ideas & Essential Techniques:

Miniature Stacked Brownie Tiers decorated with Pretty Poinsettias,

and Holiday Holly.

Cupcake Ornaments How to decorate Brandied Mincemeat Cupcakes to resemble gorgeous holiday ornaments for trimming the tree.

Bonus Section II – Extra Recipes, Ideas & Serving Suggestions:

Brandied Mincemeat Cupcakes As festive and tasty as fruitcake or mincemeat pies, but much quicker to put together.

Rum Raisin & Chocolate Bread Pudding A velvety chocolate custard and rum-plumped raisins elevate homey bread pudding into the realm of the sublime.

Luxurious Pain Perdu No ordinary French toast, this showcases an enriched bread soaked in a lush Madagascar Bourbon vanilla-perfumed custard and carefully cooked till tender within and crisp without.

It's been an exhilarating - and slightly insane - 2010 for me so far. Between moving house, new projects, and travel plans, time constraints have unfortunately dictated that I do far fewer holiday season classes than usual - just one weekend of Holiday Treats I and one weekend of Holiday Treats II. On the bright side, I know they will be weekends filled with the warm, familiar faces of the individuals I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know better over the last few years I have been teaching. Can't wait!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Beam me up, Scotty, I'm ready to rejoin the ranks of the civilized.

After much purging and packing, we have finally moved into our new home. And thus began the entirely separate process of unpacking, of figuring out what goes where and with what else, logically, ergonomically and within spatially feasible parameters, in an unfamiliar space you endeavour to make familiar through the process itself, clustering a few favourite objects here, tucking out of sight the occasionally used there.

189 boxes later, I feel like I've become the fastest Stanley knife draw in the East; a deft flick of the wrist and I can collapse and flatten a duct tape bound carton faster than you can say Doc Holliday. We're finally able to enjoy the sheer luxury of kicking back, settling into our new digs, and getting back to living a normal life. Which, for me, at this time of the year, means getting totally pysched about new recipes and new classes for the holiday season.

I'm very late to the party; the schedule went up some time ago, and Holiday Treats I, the demo class I'll be teaching at Shermay's Cooking School is right round the corner on 13 November 2010 (Saturday) and 14 November 2010 (Sunday). For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or 6479 8414, or email

The menu:

Spiced Pear Bundt Cake Homemade pear sauce lies at the heart of this wonderfully moist and moreish cake. Perfect on its own, but may also be dressed up with a Poire Williams Glaze and Pear Chips.

Pumpkin Patch Cookies Gently kissed with spice and pleasingly pumpkin-y, these cookies boast a tender, cake-like texture and are simply scrumptious. Try serving with Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream for a special treat.

When replete with a Zesty Orange Glaze, stems, leaves and vines,

these cookies look just-plucked from the pumpkin patch!

Or sandwich the cookies with a billowy Cream Cheese Filling for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Little Maple Cakes Pure, premium maple lends its distinctive, earthy sweetness to these little cakes that may be mini in stature but are mighty on taste. True blue maple lover? Pair with Maple Pecan Ice Cream for the ultimate in mapley desserts.

The batter may also be baked up as Maple Cupcakes, frosted with Maple Buttercream, and embellished with Fall Foliage Decorations.

Nutella Panna Cotta Call it a milk chocolate and hazelnut panna cotta if you prefer, but Nutella – essentially a chocolate hazelnut spread – is the everyday secret to this extraordinary pudding; only you need know it!

Lovely accompanied by something crisp, such as the Classic Gingersnaps.
As for the Bonus Section with Extra Recipes, Ideas & Serving Suggestions:
Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream All the savour of an awesome pumpkin pie churned into a sumptuous ice cream

which can be used to sandwich the Pumpkin Patch Cookies.

Maple Pecan Ice Cream The deeply nutty, toasty flavour of great maple syrup really enhances that of pecans. This potently flavoured ice cream is just as great with Little Maple Cakes or Maple Pecan & Date Cookies.

Maple Pecan & Date Cookies The contrast of succulent dates against crunchy cookie, combined with an unique intensity of flavour, guarantees this number will become a cookie jar favourite.

Classic Gingersnaps Fragrant with the heady warmth of ginger, these delightfully crisp cookies have a habit of being snapped up as quickly as they are baked.