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Saturday, 1 March 2008

green onion cake (bbd#07: flatbread)

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summary: recipe for green onion cake;

Bread Baking Day (BBD) #07 – flatbread

We make flatbread a lot – especially in the summer. It’s the perfect kind of bread for the barbecue. In fact, I can’t even begin to say how many times we have made focaccia, naan and pita on the barbecue! But of course, flatbread can be made indoors too – in the oven or on the stovetop.

When I saw that flatbreads were the theme for this month’s bread baking day, I knew that I could have made chapatis, naan, parathas, pitas, focaccia, tortillas or Tortas de Aceite again. (And yes; I could also have made more wildyeast bread – it seems to be turning into flatbread more often than not these days. :lalala: )

But for BBD, I really wanted to make something new. So I googled to see what other kind of flatbreads are out there. Happily, wikipedia has a HUGE list of flatbreads handily categorized by country.

green onion cake There near the top was Bing (China). I hit the link to find out what “Bing” could be. And lo and behold; one kind “Cong You Bing” is a favourite of mine: green onion cakes! For ages, I’ve wanted to try making green onion cakes!

I LOVE green onion cakes!!

(click on image for larger view and more photos)

I remembered that Barbara (Tigers and Strawberries) had made them so that was the first place I went. I also peeked at a few other recipes on the internet and saw that the recipes were all basically the same.


Here is what I did:

green onion cakes
based on a Barbara Fisher’s recipe for Scallion Pancakes

  • ½ c (125ml) whole wheat flour **
  • 1 c (250ml) unbleached all-purpose flour **
  • ½ c (125ml) boiling water*
  • 3 green onions, chopped in coins
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • seasalt and pepper
  • canola oil
  • coarse salt
  • coriander leaves, for garnish (optional)

preparation

  1. In a bowl, mix flours. Add boiling water gradually, stirring with a chopstick until you have a soft dough. The amount of water may vary drastically depending on air temperature and humidity. You just have to play with it. The resulting dough is relatively soft but not at all soupy – basically the consistency of playdough.
  2. Using as little extra flour as possible, knead in the air or on a board for about 8 minutes until the dough is soft and silky.
  3. Form into a tight ball and rub with sesame oil. Cover with a damp cloth, lid or plastic and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Grind a good shot of pepper into a small dish. Mix seasalt into it. Cut green onions into little coins and place them in a separate small dish. In a third small dish, pour the sesame oil. Set the dishes aside.
  5. After the dough has rested, divide it evenly into 6 pieces. Begin rolling the bread (cover the extra pieces while you work). Form the piece of dough into a ball and flatten it. Roll it out into an oval til it is quite thin but not too thin (this is again is one of those infuriating things where you will just have to practice to find out what thinness works best for you). As you roll out the dough, make sure it is not sticking to the board and that there are no holes. Keep the rolling pin lightly dusted with as little flour as possible and the board the same way.
  6. Rub the surface with sesame oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper and a 6th of the green onions. Hand-roll the oval into a tube. Coil the tube into a tight spiral and use the rolling pin to roll it out again into a disc about ⅛ inch thick.
  7. Roll out the other pieces in a similar fashion.
  8. Put the tava (or griddle, or cast iron frying pan) on medium heat. Add a slosh of canola oil. (Again, this is apparently something that will have to be learned.)
  9. Put the tava (or griddle, or cast iron frying pan) on medium heat. Add a slosh of canola oil. (Again, this is apparently something that will have to be learned.)***
  10. Put as many of the discs onto the tava as will fit comfortably. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Don’t worry if there are a few darker patches.
  11. Remove to a plate and sprinkle the discs with coarse salt. Serve immediately. Garnish with coriander if you like.
Notes:
* Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave.

** Please note that a Canadian cup holds 250ml. When I measure flour, I really fluff it up in the bag before scooping out flour to roughly fill the cup.

*** This is still a work in progress and we have not yet figured out how to cook these cakes so that they will be light and flaky on the inside and golden and crisp on the outside.

We could fit three discs onto our tava. T was quite disapproving about the depth of the cakes and was very worried that they wouldn’t be flaky like the green onion cakes we’ve had at Chinese restaurants. He tasted one that was done earlier than than the others and asked me to roll the rest of the discs more thinly. More like paratha… So I did.

T preferred the thinner very crispy paratha-like green onion cakes. I preferred the thicker ones even though they weren’t delicate and flaky the way I had hoped.

Our green onion cakes weren’t so disastrous that I became so disheartened never to attempt this again. In fact I still adore green onion cakes and we’ll definitely try this again at some point soon. (On the same token, it’s likely that we’ll be making paratha sooner. :-))

Thanks to Petra for this challenging theme for bread baking day!

previous posts about various flatbreads:

(I have to reiterate that I am absolutely flabbergasted that I still haven’t done an official post with photos about making naan!)

Event announcement: Bread Baking Day #07

Bread Baking Day#7 Petra (Chili und Ciabatta) is hosting the seventh round of Bread Baking Day and has chosen “flatbreads” as the theme. She wrote:

Think of indian chapati, naan, dosa or paratha, of italian focaccia, ethiopian injeera, swedish knäckebröd, scottish oatcakes, turkish pide, mexican tortilla, jewish matzo, armenian lavash, south tyrolean Vinschger Paarlen… this list could go on and on. As there are so many pure flatbreads I would like you to exclude rich ones like pizza and related baked goods.

I would love you to participate and join flatbread baking day. All you have to do is bake a flatbread of your choice, take a photo and blog about it now and [1 March 2008].

For complete details on how to participate in BBD#07, please go to:

Please also read about previous BBDs and WBDs:

blog from OUR kitchen posts:

roundups:

And finally, before completing your BBD post, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about

edit 3 March 2008: Hurrah! Petra has posted the roundup! Check out the many wonderful flatbreads here:

edit 3 March 2008 (a little later): Yikes. That was close! Thank goodness for google cache! When I edited the post to add the link to the roundup, I managed to erase everything else!

 

  1. Comment by Petra — 1 March 2008 @ 11:28 EDT

    Thank you very much for this detailed recipe! Funny, I also thought of making scallion pancakes. Now I’m sure I will have to give them a try!

  2. Comment by bing — 1 March 2008 @ 13:14 EDT

    I have tried making green onion cakes at least 10 times. I never got them to taste quite right, and never got anywhere near the flakiness of the wonderful ones I used to get at Mandarin restaurant in Edmonton. Mmm, Green Onion Cakes and Szechuan Shredded Beef; two things I haven’t been able to find in Toronto, although I have occasionally come close.

    I gave up on making green onion cakes. For a while, I was getting some excellent frozen ones at T&T – they cooked up very close to the Mandarin ones. But T&T doesn’t have that brand any more, and the ones they do have don’t taste quite right, and they are thicker and doughier.

    But given that I can’t buy good ones any more, maybe I should reconsider making them myself. I think the flakiness of the good ones must come from rolling the original thing out extremely thin, and putting enough oil on that it can’t bond again during the shaping stages.

    - bing, no relation to the Chinese name of the cakes …

  3. Comment by bing — 1 March 2008 @ 13:26 EDT

    Here’s an interesting article – he says it’s important not to roll the final pancake too hard, because you lose the air pockets that you created by rolling and twisting.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2001/1104/taste.html

  4. Comment by Susan — 1 March 2008 @ 16:39 EDT

    How tasty! I love coriander and would not consider this garnish as optional at all! (Although I know coriander leaves as “cilantro” — is this a regional thing?)

  5. Comment by ejm — 2 March 2008 @ 10:24 EDT

    I’m sorry that I didn’t notice that article in the Seattle Times when I was wandering around looking for comparison recipes! I’ll have to try using that resting method between coiling and rolling. And I wonder if using some low gluten (pastry) flour makes all that much difference. Thanks for posting the link, bing.

    Thank YOU for hosting, Petra! I’m sure it would have been eons before I remembered to try making green onion cakes if you hadn’t chosen flatbreads as the theme. When you do try making them, do let me know how they turn out for you.

    Susan, the coriander leaf does add a welcome freshness. But sometimes it’s wonderful to eat the green onion cake as is. And yes, I think the name for the herb is a regional thing. It is called both “cilantro” and “coriander leaf” here – depending on where we buy it or who we’re talking to. I think that it’s called cilantro at our super market but coriander leaf at the Indian grocery store.

  6. Comment by Pepy — 3 March 2008 @ 17:42 EDT

    Thanks for stopping by mine. I’m just wondering where I can see a recipe of your green onion pancake here

    Eeek!!! I somehow managed to erase the post! Luckily, I located it and it is back online again. -ejm

  7. Comment by baking history — 3 March 2008 @ 23:00 EDT

    These are great, Elizabeth! I am very fond of Chinese onion pancakes, but I never tried to make them myself. Your recipe inspires me to finally try!

  8. Comment by Pepy — 4 March 2008 @ 10:53 EDT

    Great! I can see the recipe now. Thanks Elizabeth. You might try a recipe of my Roti Maryam since you can make many different varieties of flatbreads.

  9. Comment by Zlamushka — 9 March 2008 @ 14:18 EDT

    This is funny. I just posted my Cong You Bing (I actually made them with leek instead). I love to dip them in a spicy chili oil garlic dip. Nice :-)

 

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