Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Soft & Tangy Orange Bread Recipe

This sweet, tangy and soft orange bread makes a refreshing, healthy breakfast.
We made it using the orange juice and marmalade pressies from our Japanese friends, and it's one of our favourite breads so far.

250g strong flour
5g dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
160ml orange juice
2 knobs of butter
orange marmalade

1. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle.
2. Pour the orange juice into the well and add the sugar, yeast and butter.
3. Using a fork, blend in the mixture with the flour slowly until all or most of the flour is mixed in with the mixture.
4. Then using your hands, push and fold the dough until it becomes smooth and silky.
5. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to proof for an hour or when the dough has doubled its size.
6. Knock the air out with your fist, bashing and squashing it for about 30 seconds.
7. Shape the dough into your preferred shape (small balls, twists etc) and leave it to proof for another 40 minutes.
8. Preheat the oven to 200 deg celsius.
9. When the second proof is done, apply orange marmalade (as much as you like!) to the surface of the bread before baking it for 10-15 minutes, or until it turns golden brown.
10. Serve the bread with tea and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The orange story

During the golden week, we travelled to Kyushu and Shikoku and met a fantastic family, on the ferry from Oita to Matsuyama. The Kimuras live in the Ehime prefecture in Shikoku and run an electrical appliance business there. I guess we were extremely lucky that day, because they are some of the nicest folks we've ever met in Japan - extremely warm and down-to-earth. It reaffirms the popular Japanese belief that the southerners are the friendliest lot in Japan.

Even though we had to bid farewell to them at the end of the 3.5 hour ferry ride, our friendship didn't just stop there. Little did we know that a pleasant surprise was in store for us when we got home. A day after we returned to Owase, we received from them a carton (12 large bottles no doubt) of 1-litre mandarin orange (mikan) juice that the Ehime prefecture (where the Kimuras are from) is famous for. It's really amazing how a first meeting which lasted only a few hours could invite such generousity from them. It really is. And, that mikan juice is one of the best I've ever had in my life.

Japan produces a hundred types of mikan. Gigantic, large, mid-sized, small, tiny, sweet, sour, soursweet, sweetsour - you name it, you have it here. All these mikan have different names. The ones in Ehime, known as iyokan, are supposed to be one of the sweetest types you can find. Ehime is extremely proud of its mikan juice, so proud that its largest mikan juice producer named itself POM juice, meaning juice of NIPPON (Japan). At the Matsuyama airport, all you need to do is to turn on the taps to get free mikan juice. I once watched a TV programme that people buy POM juice by the carton, not by the bottle in the Ehime prefecture. There are all sorts of dishes that are made using mikan juice, the most popular being the mikan juice rice.

Actually, Owase is also famous for a type of mikan called the amanatsu (literally means sweet summer) - but it tastes far from sweet. I think it tastes similar to the grapefruit. People tell us it's not that bad, because amanatsu's cousin - natsu (literally summer) - tastes ten times worse. To say that mikan is in abundance in the area we live in is an understatement. Often we see so much mikan rotting on the ground and there's nothing we can do because it's illegal picking fruit that does not belong to you.

It's the amanatsu season now, and so far we've received quite a lot of amanatsu. No matter how sour, free fruit (or rather food) is always welcomed.:) Just last Friday, we received a bottle of handmade orange marmalade, which I believe is made from amanatsu.

At the TanTans, free food always present the opportunity for new food creations. With our bunch of orange freebies, we made an orange sorbet and some orange bread topped with the marmalade.