I would like to believe that I have loved baking my whole life. My dad is responsible for this as he has always let me observe and help him in the kitchen since I was a child. I learned from him almost all of the basic techniques and unspoken rules of the kitchen, although I feel as if my true baking journey has only just begun.
Back in the early days of the enhanced community quarantine, my high school graduation was postponed, and the life that I knew was brought to a full stop. Because of this, I wanted to make the most of the time I had at home, thinking that the lockdown would last only a few weeks, three months at most.
I began by taking a chance with my dad’s old stand mixer, which he would always remind me helped his culinary team bring home the gold medal in the 2007 Hong Kong International Culinary Challenge.
With this, I started experimenting with simple yet popular recipes such as chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, chocolate fudge brownies, snickerdoodles, and many more. My family quite enjoyed having all these baked goods around while I enjoyed finding all these recipes on the internet.
As I started baking more frequently, my parents decided to finally get me a KitchenAid stand mixer, which I had been gushing about for a few years already.
In the spirit of “Julie & Julia,” I decided to challenge myself to bake one new recipe every weekend, either a newfound online recipe or a suggestion/request from family and friends.
Our kitchen was now getting crowded with my dad cooking lunch and dinner while I baked in between. I was baking New York-style bagels, pretzels, pretzel buns, brioche bread, no-knead bread, bread pudding, apple crumble, sticky walnut and pecan cinnamon buns, and Napoleones.
I found myself wanting to master and perfect cookie recipes: chewy versus crispy, whole butter versus brown butter, to rest or not to rest the batter. So much to learn and experiment with.
After several months of fervid baking, my dad requested, nay, “teased me” into baking popovers. I vividly recall saying, “What’s that?” and getting a “Basta!” in return.
After a few days, I summoned the courage to finally bake some popovers. And it was a solid hit. Huge, golden brown, puffy, savory, cheesy pillows of goodness jumped out of our Smeg oven (another pandemic purchase). I immediately sent samples to my titas and cousins and they loved ‘em!
“So good,” they said. I had a winner.
Requests came in from family and friends for more, and the more I baked, the more I became familiar with the nuances of the recipe. In no time, I was finally able to master the perfect popover recipe. I launched Baked by LG.
My customers tell me my popovers remind them of those from Neiman Marcus or the Yorkshire pudding at Prince Albert at the defunct Hotel InterContinental Manila. I want to say out loud, “What’s that?” but rather, I just smile and say, “Thank you!”
Here is a personal favorite recipe of mine:
Sticky Walnut and Pecan Cinnamon Buns
1½ Tbsp (15 g) all-purpose flour
1½ Tbsp (20 ml) milk
1½ Tbsp (20 ml) water
2½ tsp (9 g) dry yeast
½ c (120 ml) lukewarm milk
3 c (443 ml) all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp (44 g) granulated sugar¾ tsp (2 g) fine salt
2½ Tbsp (55 ml) water
2 eggs, room temperature
3½ Tbsp (50 g) unsalted butter, softened
5 Tbsp (70 g) butter, gently melted
½ c (125 g) dark brown sugar
2½ tsp (5 g) cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg powder
½ c (115g) unsalted butter
½ c (115g) packed brown sugar3 Tbsp honey
70 g toasted pecans, crushed
70g toasted walnuts, crushed
Mix together ½ cup lukewarm milk and 9 g dry yeast, leave for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together ingredients of water roux until the substance is light and lofty. Transfer to a bowl.
Using a stand mixer, whisk together (on low speed) all-purpose flour, granulated sugar and fine salt.
Add in the milk-yeast mixture, then slowly follow with the flour mixture (water roux) until well-combined.
Add in water, two eggs and the softened butter gradually, one tablespoon at a time, until each is dissolved and fully incorporated. Mix for an additional five minutes. The dough should be smooth and heavy.
Lightly shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover this with a damp towel and let rise for about one and a half hours, or until thoroughly doubled in size.
Make the glaze. In a large saucepan, combine unsalted butter, packed brown sugar, and honey. Stir continuously over medium heat until thoroughly combined (so that the butter won’t split). Set aside to cool.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down to remove the air pockets. Lightly flour your work surface and lay the dough out on it to cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Using a rolling pin, roll your dough out into an even, 15- to 20-inch long rectangle. Brush the entire surface with all 75 g of gently melted unsalted butter and coat this with your filling mixture, leaving about ¼ of an inch on each border.
Tightly roll up the dough from the bottom all the way to the top, and gently seal the ends. Take a serrated knife and cut in 2-inch intervals that will give you a total of 10-12 buns.
Take a lightly greased square baking pan, pour in your sticky caramel glaze in the bottom, and evenly sprinkle all of the toasted walnuts and pecans.
Arrange your dough equally spaced apart in rows of three to four in your pan on top of the glaze then cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Place this in your preheated oven at 350°F (177°C) for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops are beginning to brown (and you can see that caramelized bit bubbling at the bottom).
Let cool on a tray and sit at room temperature for 5-7 minutes. Invert pan onto a plate or serving tray. Serve and enjoy! —CONTRIBUTED
The author is a freshman at De La Salle University and was part of the Assumption College Dance Team that won the World Championship in 2019. She’s the baker behind Baked by LG (@bakedbylg on Instagram; tel. 0917-1500984).
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