A Fat Girl's Food Guide to Eating in Korea

Hot Cross Buns

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Nothing marks the start of the Easter season like the heavenly smell of freshly baked hot cross buns. Spending Easter in Korea, it’s sometimes hard to get into the seasonal spirit as the traditions we know and love from back home just aren’t replicated here in Korea. While a chocolate egg may be hard but not impossible to come by, hot cross buns can be easily made if you have the right recipe.

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The Fat Boyfriend first had a crack at these on Sunday using Paul Hollywood’s recipe, but they turned out to be a bit of an epic fail as the grated apple made the dough too wet.Though I have to say they did taste alright once they were toasted and topped with copious amounts of butter.  I had a go this week using a recipe from Jo Cooks and was far more successful. I changed things up a little bit and I think it paid off as my hot cross buns were amazing!

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I omitted the more traditional flour and water cross as I didn’t really like it on the ones TFB made and instead went for a cream cheese frosting which I think was a change for the better. Although if you want to stick with the traditional it’s pretty easy to do instead. You will also need to make your mixed peel as I have never managed to find it here, it’s fairly simple to make all you need is orange peel sugar and water. I followed this recipe which stretched the process out over a few days but you could probably skip the drying out stages if you are pinched for time.

Ingredients

Hot crossed buns
1½ cups of milk (300mls)
8g of instant yeast (I use the Korean Bobai brand)
½ cup of sugar (65g)
4½ – 5 cups of flour (500-600g)
½ a teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 eggs
1 stick of butter (115g)
1 cup raisins
1/2 a cup of mixed peel
The zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of apricot jam (for the glaze)
Cream cheese frosting
½ cup of icing sugar
2 tablespoons of  cream cheese
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teapoon of  vanilla extract
½ a tablespoon of milk

 

Directions 

1.In a saucepan warm the milk until it’s just about to start to boil then add the butter and turn off the heat. Allow the milk to cool until it’s luke-warm and the butter has melted.

2. In a large bowl add the 4 1/2 cups of flour, salt, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix until combined.

3. When the milk and butter has come down to the correct temperature, make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the eggs. Then slowly add the warm milk mixture to the bowl, stirring until the mixture has combined. Mine was still quite wet at this point so I added an extra half a cup of flour. It was still quite sticky but that’s okay.

4. Using a dough hook attachment on a mixer, mix on high for 5 minutes (if you don’t have a hand mixer then get ready to use some elbow grease). The dough should be quite soft and elastic. You will know when it’s done when it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore.

5. Oil a large bowl, then pop the dough in the bowl,and cover with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm space for about an hour to an hour and a half until doubled in size.

6. After the first rise add all the raisins, mixed peel, and orange zest and work the dough for a minute or so to make sure they have distributed  evenly. Then pop the damp towel back over the bowl and leave to rise for another hour.

7. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. I used a roasting pan that’s roughly  16 x 12 inches. Then take your dough and split into even pieces, I made 12 large buns with mine, but you could easily make 16 medium sized ones. Once you have portioned the dough roll them into balls and pop them onto the baking paper leaving enough space for them to rise. They may be a bit sticky still but you should be able to get a decent enough shape. allow to rise again uncovered for another 30 minutes.

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8. Your buns should have risen well and be double the size . They may be touching each other at this point but that’s fine. Bake them in the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Mine were larger so I gave them just a few extra minutes at the end and I also turned them around in the oven about half way through the process to make sure they had an even bake.

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9. While the buns are cooling melt the apricot jam in a saucepan, then brush over the tops of the buns to give them that lovely shine.

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10. To make the frosting take the softened butter and cream cheese and mix together along with the vanilla extract. When everything has combined add the icing sugar and mix. If the frosting isn’t sweet enough add a little more icing sugar, if it’s too thick then add a tiny bit of milk until you have a nice piping consistency.

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11. Allow the buns to cool completely before piping the crosses otherwise the frosting may melt. Allow the icing to set for about about a minute before immediately shoving one in your gob. Then invite your friends over and allow them to revel in the joy of your Easter baking!

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Breakfast Quesadillas

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I adore brunch, it’s probably my favourite meal of the week, I don’t know why but there just seems to be something magical about it, probably the booze. Now as much as I love brunch I can’t always afford to go out to eat, but thanks to the mammoth portions at Costco I always keep a well stocked fridge. These breakfast quesadillas are the perfect dish for brunch as they are quick and easy to make and you can do it all in just one pan. I paired mine with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream as for once I had all three on hand but just use whatever you have, it is brunch after all. And the best thing about eating at home is there’s no need to get dressed #winning!

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Maddux Pizza

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Food Blogging can be such a fickle mistress sometimes, you take a few weeks out to go on vacation and almost instantaneously you are way behind the restaurant times. Maddux Pizza has only been open a few short weeks but it’s already proving to be very popular on the pizza lovers grape vine. The small yet ample restaurant is located in the every growing myriad of Itaewon’s back alleyways just up from The wolfhound.

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Spring Gardening

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Spring is here and the lovey sunny weather has really sprung me into action into planting up my herb garden all ready for summer. Every year I plant a few seeds so I can enjoy fantastic fresh herbs in my salads, dips, and cocktails. This year I have planted cilantro, dill, basil, mint, and oregano. I also bought myself a mint and basil plant over in the flower market in Gyeongridan to get things started and all the rest are sown from seeds I got from Daiso. They have such an array of gardening stuff and it’s all dirt cheap so why not give it a try. You might be surprised at how well things like basil and mint grow here, and the benefits of having your own fresh herbs on hand are priceless.

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Coffee Expo 2015

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Hurray it’s that time again, a time when the world’s hot beverage purveyors come together to take part in Seoul’s greatest Expo – the Coffee Expo! I went last year and had the most wonderful time, the amount of coffee and tea products available was insane. The whole place was filled with hard to find goods.

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Smore Surprise Cookies

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Not being American it wasn’t until adulthood that I discovered the joy that is smores. For some reason the amazing campfire treat of cookies, marshmallow, and chocolate completely bypassed mother England. Why? Who could say for sure as it’s such an amazing combination. I decided to try out these treats after bringing back an ungodly amount of confectionery from New York, that coupled with the fact I was itching to do some baking after catching up on a few episodes of The Great British Bake Off. After that it all came together rather easily, I made a little cup shaped cookie in the muffin pan, shoved in a mini peanut butter cup and topped it with a marshmallow. If it’s possible they taste even better than they sound and will certainly be winging their way into my regular baking repertoire.

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Brera

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When Il Gattino came to Haebangchon I was as happy as a clam, their wonderful home made Italian food was the real deal and just what our neighborhood had been longing for. They were a massive hit straight off the bat, thanks to their fabulous food and the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that owner Giovanni provided. However with the popularity came the crowds and they soon found that their current location was a tad too small, so they left HBC and went off in search of bigger premises. Finally after being denied the pleasure of eating their wonderful food for over two months, they finally opened up their new restaurant called Brera in Beotigogae, and I went straight there to check it out.

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Chicken Soup for the Seoul

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I’ve been feeling rather glum since I returned home from New York, which is probably due to my monumental jet-lag I’m suffering from. I seem to be exhausted during the day and and fidgety and awake at night. The lack of sleep is making me feel very stressed and I seem to have a gnawing ball of anxiety I just can’t seem to shift. Whenever I’m feeling sick I always turn to my favourite comfort food, chicken soup. For me it is the miracle cure all reviver, and I always used to make this for dinner every Monday night to refuel my body after a weekend of non stop partying. I whipped this up yesterday for my dinner and I’m already feeling a 100 times better. The fresh noodles really help give the soup a lot of depth, and really help to fill you up, you can find them in any Korean supermarket in the refrigerator section and they are super quick and easy to make. The best part of this dish is that I’ve got plenty of leftovers in the freezer for next time I’m feeling under the weather.

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Day 7 – NYC – St Patrick’s Day

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The city was awash with green coloured clothing yesterday, as the people of New York took to the streets to watch the parade and get absolutely shitfaced in honor of St Patrick’s Day. I kicked off my morning by watching the parade, though for an Irish parade there certainly was an awful lot of tartan and bagpipes. But anyhow it was a glorious day and and certainly a sight worth seeing.

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