Friday, 21 October 2011

Momofuku's Strawberry Shortcake



It's finally starting to feel like spring. The sun's doing its job, the girls are wearing shorts and strawberries are in season! Well, at least in Adelaide. You know when a fruit is in season when it goes for a dollar at the market and every stall has them. Back in Singapore, I've yet to see a punnet of strawberries  going for that price and tasting oh-so-yummy at the same time. Strawberries in Singapore somehow taste.. unstrawberryish. I can still recall the first strawberry I ate when I first arrived here in Adelaide. It was the juiciest, sweetest strawberry I've ever ate. My parotid glands are secreting saliva just thinking about it. 

Now, I first got to know about Momofuku sometime back in 2010. Back then, I was still in the army and had plenty of time to read. I think I read at least 2 books a month for that 2 years. Mostly cooking related books of course; not cookbooks but books on food, the restaurant industry and chefs' memoirs. It was Anthony Bourdain's book who introduced me to David Chang, owner and founder of the Momofuku empire. Momofuku stands for lucky peach in Japanese but David Chang was not born from the land of sushi. He's a Korean American who majored in religion, loves ramen and worked at a soba shop in Japan just so he could learn the art of making noodles. Cut the story short, David Chang is a genius when it comes to mixing asian ingredients with classical French technique. 

Ooo..!! I was googling up on David Chang and just found out that he's opening a restaurant in Sydney soon!



The recipe for the shortcake comes from Christina Tosi, Chef Chang's trusted pastry chef who is at the helm of Milk Bar - the dessert division of the Momofuku empire. She is about to publish a book soon which will no doubt be a hit. I for one will be getting my hands on this book as soon as it arrives on shore. Christina Tosi is a pastry chef who takes simple home baked desserts to a whole new level. Who in the world would have come up with desserts such as crack pie and cereal milk. She's the Pierre Herme of America if I do say so.

The shortcake here is like a sweet, salty, giant cookie. It's simply delicious on its on. Don't skim on the salt, 1 tablespoon might seem a lot but the saltiness just helps to balance that sweetness. When you bake the shortcakes, they will spread like a yogi doing splits. So make sure you leave plenty of space on the baking tray. If you can't find shortening or just don't wish to use it, you can simply replace it with equal amount of butter. Shortening will give the shortcake a crisper texture as oppose to all butter. 



Momofuku's Shortcakes by Christina Tosi
Make 8 servings

Ingredients
1 Egg, beaten
125ml Heavy Cream
210g Cups Plain Flour
100g Caster Sugar
75g Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
120g Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
55g Vegetable Shortening, at room temperature
60g Icing Sugar

Method
Add the beaten egg into a small measuring cup and spoon off half of it. (Reserved for other use or discard them) Add enough heavy cream to the egg to make ½ cup. Stir briefly, and then put the mixture in the refrigerator to chill.

Combine the flour, caster sugar, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment and stir them together. Add the butter and shortening and turn the mixer on its lowest setting. Mix the fat in until the batter is gravely, with pea-sized lumps everywhere, which shouldn’t take much more than 4 minutes.

Once you have got the sandy, lumpy, dryish, short batter together, grab the cream mixture from the refrigerator and stream it into the batter, stirring it in with the machine still on its lowest speed. Do this for as short a time as humanly possible, just until the liquid is barely absorbed. Let the dough rest in the mixer bowl for 10 minutes.

Scoop the batter into little balls, using about 2 Tbsp for each (you can assist their shaping lightly with your hands) and line them up on a baking sheet. You should have 8 balls and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight.

Heat the oven to 180˚C. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
Pour the icing sugar into a wide shallow bowl. Roll each of the shortcakes through the sugar to coat very lightly, tap off excess, and place the dusted cakes on the prepared baking sheets, with enough room between them allow them to double their footprint while baking.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The cakes will spread and then rise-the baking powder in it will give them a final, poofy kick and the icing sugar on the outside should crackle when they’re ready. Over baked is preferable to under-baked with these cakes. If their centres fall after you pull them from the oven, bake them for another 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Serve with macerated strawberries and generous dollop of whipped cream.


Macerated Strawberries
400g strawberries
55g sugar

One to 2 hours before you intend to serve them, gently toss the strawberries with the sugar; the sugar will draw out the juics from the strawberries. Serve cold or at rtp, using the macerating liquid as part of the dish - pouring it over the shortcakes and strawberries. (I added a dash of balsamic vinegar to liven thing up)





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