Thursday, May 24, 2018

Kopitiam Bread

I haven't baked much this year mostly because I gained a lot of weight last year and I believe eating all my bakes contributed a fair bit. So I was quite scared of baking. Recently my love for baking bread was rekindled. Just like getting back with an old boyfriend, the first bake (date) was a bit nerve wracking. You never know how it'll turn out.

For my first bake, I chose to make a Kopitiam Bread (coffeeshop bread). I'm in this fb group (Bake the Talk - it's a closed group) and I noticed many people baking it. It was started by a guy named Barry Apek and according to him, it was a Hylam (Hainanese) bread recipe. That sparked my interest because hubs is a Hylam nang (Hainanese person) and I'll bet he has never eaten a Hylam bread before.

So I can't post a link to the bread recipe because it's a closed group. But it's quite similar to this recipe except for the recipe I used, it called for 325g of bread flour. Which is a very odd number to use if you think about it...

I used Japanese bread flour only because it was expiring. I believe any bread flour will work. I also substituted butter for shortening. I used my Kenwood machine to knead the dough for exactly 10min. The dough came together very cleanly - nothing left on the mixer bowl.

Here's the dough right after kneading and ready for bulk fermentation. It looked so well!

Here's the dough after 1 hour bulk fermentation. I think the photo does not show the size well. The dough got bigger. I felt it was ready.

For curiosity, I weighed the dough - 576g.

I used my 8" X 4.5" X 4" pullman tin. Here's where I made a mistake. I covered the tin with the lid even though I intended to bake the dough without the lid. Thing is, I was also making dinner for my son at the same time and I lost track of time. By the time I remembered to remove the lid from the pullman tin, it was too late. The dough had reached the top of the lid and no matter how much I pulled, it wouldn't come loose. So I decided to bake with the lid on after all but guess what? Now I can't close the lid properly because some dough had escaped. So I baked with the lid 99% closed at 190 deg C for 50min. The last 10 min, I forced the lid open and baked the loaf without the tin because I like my bread brown. When I took the bread out of the oven, I knew it was a winner because of two things - one, the smell was so lovely, two, the bread was light.

I left the bread to cool and did not cut it until the following day. Usually for sandwich bread, the recipe would ask you to punch out the bubbles but I don't do that. At most I would pat it down like searching for weapons. As a result you can see some air pockets here and there. I do pinch out the big bubbles because those are nasty. I managed to get 12 slices out of the loaf. The bread isn't as yellow as in the images - more like very pale yellow.

Despite my tug of war with the dough, the loaf came out quite nice.

Here you can see some damage. But dough is so forgiving!

Yesterday we had the entire loaf for lunch.
This is my son's luncheon meat sandwiches.

This is my daughter's bacon sandwich.

This is my sandwich. I've stayed away from luncheon meat for quite a while.

This one's hub's. Don't worry. He was wearing shorts.

I'm very pleased with this bread. I'll probably use this recipe again when I need a loaf of bread for the family. I was still curious about the Hainanese role in this recipe. So I did some research but came up with nothing. Then I converted the recipe to percentage and that's when it hit me. Based on the percentages, this Kopitiam Bread recipe is a classic textbook sandwich bread recipe. Like if you were to go to a baking school in Singapore to learn to bake bread, the basic sandwich bread you learn would be this Kopitiam bread. Mystery solved!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Star Wars Run 2018

I remember I swore not to do any more organised runs this year. Through some mysterious force (pun, geddit?), I found myself signed up for Star Wars Run 2018 on 5th May. It's a night run so no waking up early in the morning which I hate so much. It's a night run so it's dark which is not so pleasant. Hubs did the 10km run and I did the 5.4km run. As you know, I no longer do 10km run because it's really bad for my neck and spine. So we went separately because his run started at 5pm while mine was 7:30pm. You know what that means? Hub's isn't a night run because it started so early.

This year my daughter joined us. It's her second organised run! She dragged her friend along. Guess which one is my daughter.

Last year's Star Wars Run had all the bells and whistles - stuffed toy and a fabulous fireworks. This year's run was more stingy - a useless plastic mat and a free cushion if you are early birds for the run pack collection. We got our free cushions.

We also got our fireworks. Not as spectacular as last years but a fireworks is a fireworks. Not for the 10km runners though because as their run was at 5pm, so there were no fireworks. So basically, the 10km run is pretty much a normal run. Nothing Star Warsy.

This year, the organiser was a little creative - there were two separate routes. One for Light Side and one for Dark Side. Oh yah, it's a thing for Star Wars fans. Choosing sides. I always get dumped with the Light Side. Hubs and my daughter chose the Dark Side. My running tee is blue while theirs is maroon.

Crazy hubs finished his run and accompanied me on my 5.4km run. My daughter and her friend somehow ended up in the 8:30pm wave.

The Light Side had a tent which had some psychedelic thingy going on.

It was a scenic route - if you could see. The usual Marina Bay, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore Flyer route. We ran past a eating place and the smell of satay being grilled was so incredible. I was starving.

When I saw the finish line, I sprinted for it. Unnecessarily. I mean, my pace throughout was so slow it didn't matter.


Nowadays, I'm grateful to be able to finish a run without walking.

This year I made sure I was given the correct medal.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cleo Skirt

So yesterday I was looking at this skirt in my hideous yellow bed sheet and decided it's time to make the skirt in the fabric I had chosen.

My selected fabric is Hoodie's Collection "Alien Friends" for Timeless Treasures Fabrics. If you know me in real life, you'll know I wear a lot of dark colours. Black and white, not so much though. The print is a little kindy which is how I like it... Also, I have 2 meters worth of it. I didn't use all 2 meters. There's quite a fair amount left.

Anyway, I was committed to finishing it last night so I worked on the skirt on and off in between doing the laundry, watching Korean drama and cooking dinner.

Before I talked about sewing the skirt let me tell you why I don't like to make clothes. It's the patterns. If it's a pdf, you have to print and tape together a nightmarish number of pages. If it's a paper pattern, I hate the tissue paper it comes in. Never stays flat.

For the Cleo Skirt, by Made By Rae by the way, the pdf had 42 pages. I only printed the patterns which came to 32 pages. The page number on the pdf does not correspond to the page number on the pattern. So if you're printing by the page number, watch out. For pattern page 9 to 29, after trying to tape the pieces together, I realised my patterns couldn't match up. So I reprinted a few pieces. Still not matching up. In the end, I took out all the tape and taped backwards, i.e. starting from right to left instead of left to right. Guess what? It matched except for the very first piece which could never match due to dunno what. By then I was exhausted. It took me 2 nights to tape all the pieces together. Later when I looked at the patterns carefully, I realised they were mostly rectangles except for the pocket area. I kinda wished the dimensions of the rectangles were provided for people like me. Then I wouldn't have to waste so much paper and ink.

I made the muslin in March and I chose size M. I thought that was the correct size for moi based on the measurements provided but when I tried it on, it was too large. Anyway, the correct size for me is XS. Believe me, I've never won anything sized XS before so I was not taking any chances. I modified my muslin waistband to XS and it fitted me. I guess American XS is not the same as Singapore XS.

Cleo Skirt is not difficult to sew. It's quite basic. In fact, when I attended sewing school millions of years ago, the very first skirt I had to draft and sew was a Cleo Skirt - sew two rectangular pieces of fabric together and install elastic to cinch the waist. But of course, Cleo Skirt has 2 very nice pockets which were the reasons I wanted to make the skirt. When I buy skirts, I always look for pockets but they usually don't come with pockets or with very bad pockets.

I have been practicing on my serger and by some fluke, I accidentally turned some knob and my serger cuts 1/8" off when I serge which is exactly how I want it. Sometimes the Universe is on my side...

This photo doesn't do the serging justice. I serged everything. Honestly, sewing with a serger is such a luxury. Hubs said the inside of the skirt looks very professional.

I sewed view A minus the contrast hem. I think I may have lengthened the hemline. My final skirt length is about 19".

I used Birch shirring elastic which worked but they were a bitch to remove. Of course I could leave them behind but...

The pattern calls for a 1.25" wide elastic. I went to Spotlight to get some and there were 3 kinds of elastic - loom, braided and knitted. Loom cost an arm and a leg. Knitted was the cheapest so I bought some. When I installed the elastic in the skirt, it kept twisting up no matter what I did. It was so frustrating. Finally, I used the very cheap 1" wide elastic I already have in my stash. Worked perfectly. Sometimes...

Other than the hemline, the only other alteration I made was to widen and deepen the pocket. Otherwise, I followed the pattern.

Just now before hubs went to work, he took some pics of me in the skirt. Want to see?

Is it over?
It's over!

Overall, the skirt is all right. Beginner skills, easy to sew. Design wise, due to all the gathers in front plus it sits at the waist, I feel (imho) it's not suitable for women with big tummy. I don't exactly have a huge tummy but I already feel quite conscious I'll look pregnant. The back for me is the opposite - a bit too flat. Remember when I made the muslin I made it for size M and when I corrected the waistband to XS, I did not modify the muslin body to XS because I was lazy. Actually if I had made this skirt using XS Waistband but M Back, it might have turned out more balanced. I also like my skirts to have a bit of curve swooping down from the side. But sewing two rectangles together isn't going to get you any curves. Will I make another Cleo skirt? Nah, one is enough. But I will make another skirt with pockets, that's for sure.

p.s. I'm tanned because I had just been to the pool to swim and it was hot, hot, hot.
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