A thai high tea - Hibiscus biscotti, Sang Kaya Fuk Thong (Pumpkin Coconut custard)

My PhD research, my cooking all seem to follow a similar pattern these days; I read something or come up with a solution for 1 problem then I realise this must be tried in another, existing problem and it would fix it beautifully.
I spend hours trying to adapt the new idea or technique to the pre-existing problem and sometimes miss the obvious reasons why the solution was never tried in the first place;  But, I always learn something new in the process, whether it is in research or it is in cooking.

I have fallen in love with the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day idea of late, baking breads everyday for the past week. This monday when I went over the generally cracked results of the eggless biscotti baking roundup, I realised I had never thought of making a yeasted version of biscotti.  All I had to do is make it thinner and bake it longer.
except.
Letting the sponge/yeast develop overnight would develop the gluten to an extent where it would be impossible to have a hard biscuit without burning it.  The 5 minute plan will simply not fly here.  I decided to expend more than 5 minutes and go ahead and make a yeasted biscotti anyway.  Celebrating Gandhi Jayanthi with a eggless cookie is poetically fitting right?

The call of the day was Pistachio-Apricot-Orange blossom biscotti.  I had about 50 g of raisins and no apricots.  Ash promptly proceeded to demolish my raisin stash..  It is not yet organic orange season here, so orange zest was also ruled out.  I had tried hibiscus biscotti before and had procured hibiscus flower powder for my next attempt. I settled on anise-hibiscus-pistachio biscotti instead.  I had pictured a pinkish biscotti in my head

red flowers + white flour = pink biscuit.

Something like the Rose de Reims cookie of France
from http://www.bestoffrenchfood.com/
 (btw, I have to try this soon, if you have, please share your secrets and your success)

But dried hibiscus is reddish brown, and baked goods are various shades of brown, especially when baked at the temperature for biscotti.

image from http://www.21food.com/
My final product looked like a lighter chocolate colour, I had absolutely no cracking issues because I sliced the biscotti during the second rise.

I had my usual quota of disasters.  I forgot to put out the anise during my mis-en-place;  In the stress of searching for the newly purchased anise packet, I simply forgot to mix in my pistachio.  To top it all off, none of us really know what hibiscus really tastes like; the smell of dried hibiscus reminds me and S. of shikai powder! ( used for lustrous hair; hibiscus is said to be an excellent conditioner and is a part of the mix used for washing hair)

 All I can say is this biscuit had a sort of dark-intense taste, apart from the anise.  It was excellent dunked in hibiscus tea.  gau had 4 while complaining it was not really sweet.  And that is a feature, NOT a bug :)

We had a Thai meal at Benjarong on TTK road.  Everything was good except for the pad thai.  The highlight was the pumpkin-coconut dessert.  The highlight was the light, hot, lemon grass infused tea they served with our entree.

I decided to make it a Thai themed meal today, Tofu Satay for appetizer, Yellow Curry with White Beans, Cauliflower, Poatatoes and the Pumpkin Coconut Custard, Poached Pears, Biscotti with a light Tea  for dessert.

Except my pumpkin-custard took 2 full hours to steam! I had not accounted for the rise times for the biscotti.  I decided to serve these as part of a plated high-tea :)

Funky coloured biscotti right?  You want to hear the funnier part?  My initial idea was to make a two toned biscotti, the centre pink from hibiscus flowers (hah!) and the outer green from the ground up pistachios! 

Now Remember these crazy ideas extend to my working life also.  Will I ever get my PhD?!

 

And yes, the title of this post is in honour of the innumerable descriptions of high tea in English Novels - Agatha Christie, Enid Blighton.  In those days, when we were not given tea, life seemed so unfair though we got all the goodies. 

Exactly how Gau feels now.

We never understood the goodies made it high tea.   Who said motherhood is not payback time ;) ? Or is that Pay-It-Forward time? 

Aniseed - Hibiscus Pistachio Biscotti

1 tbspoon fresh yeast.
1/2 cup sugar divided
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1.5 cups Maida, All Purpose FLour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
0.5 cups Hibiscus Flower Powder
1 tbspoon aniseed
60g melted butter - I did not have any mild oils in my pantry;
1/2 cup toasted chopped pistachio (I forgot to add so optional)

Dissolve about a teaspoon of sugar in the water and add the yeast to it.  Let the yeast proof for 5 minutes

Mix in the rest of the ingredients and knead for 5 minutes until you get a smooth dough.  I found this proportion of liquid to solids, perfect for me, I got something akin to a roti dough.

Let the dough rise in a bowl until doubled in size

Divide the dough into 3 parts (easier to maintain dimensions on a smaller ball of dough)

Roll each ball to about the width of your pan and a height of about 1 cm.

Slice the rolls in place, about 1 cm each.  sliced => more surface area for heating => harder final product; Also, the cross in hot-cross buns is put before the buns are placed in the oven, it might be essential for succesful slicing to do it before baking.


Let rise for about 45 minutes (should look a little puffy and as if the slices are sticking back together).

Bake at 225 deg C for 10 minutes (my kitchen was redolent with the smell of aniseed, my cue for lowering temperature), then lower temperature to 175 deg C Bake for 20 more minutes

Separate the slices and lay them flat on the pan.  Bake each side for 15 minutes.  If the biscotti is still a bit wet, let sit in oven after switching it off (mine was)
 
biscotti in a bottle.  no cracks!

Sang Kaya Fuk Thong (Pumpkin Coconut custard)


This recipe is adapted from the kitchen masochist

I had a lovely organic small round pumpkin sitting in my pantry for 2 weeks now.  I cut off the top, removed the seeds  and measured the volume, it was about 1 cup.  The pumpkin weighed 300g.  These proportions are apt for this sized pumpkin


1/4 cup coconut cream (that's all my poor coconut, sitting for a month in the pantry yielded)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp sweet lime zest

Beat everything together, pour into cleaned pumpkin, steam for 45 minutes to 2 hours until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


My steaming equipment is faulty - I used a pressure cooker without closing it fully (I used a sieve as a steaming basket to hold pumpkin, big for the cooker), lot of roll back delaying the custard setting and contaminating the colour at the top
The end result was awesome though.
From my husband to my 1 year old nephew, everyone loved it :)

Hibiscus Tea


Boil 1 cup water for 2 cups tea.
When water is at a rolling boil, add 1 tsp hibiscus flower powder, 3 tsp tea leaves, take water off heat.
Steep for 3 minutes, filter.
Add sugar and warm milk to taste.

Jasline of FoodIsMyLife blog got me interested in the theme for this month’s Aspiring Bakers is Desserts on a Plate hosted by Swee San from The Sweet Spot. 
I doubt if this qualifies, but can't hurt to try can it?


I also want to add this to this september's eggless baking challenge.



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