Monday, December 29, 2008

Challah Head Challah

So what did I do on Christmas day itself? No, I did not sing Dragonball Z's opening song, Cha La Head Cha La.

Instead, I made my first Challah~ ^^ I managed to find a decent challah recipe online and wasted no time in trying the recipe. I decided to make a 6-braided challah as I find that it looks nice. You may be wondering where did I learn how to braid breads...stay tuned and you'll find out!

Ingredients for the bread include plain flour, eggs, salt, sugar, olive oil, water and yeast.

The dough is pretty wet with the amount of eggs, olive oil and water in it. -_-

Used a scraper to knead the dough by folding it onto itself as the conventional kneading method cannot be done as the dough is too wet and sticky.

Finally the dough is ready for proofing for 1 hour!

After the first proofing, the dough is punched down and left to proof for another 30 min.

The dough in its 2nd proofing. Still sticky and I wonder can I really turn it into a challah....

Add ImageAfter the 2nd proof, the dough is divided into 6 equal portions. Plain flour is dusted over the dough to make it less sticky.

The 6 doughs are slowly rolled to about 50-60cm in length for the braiding process. My rolling skills need to be improved as the thicknesses for the 6 doughs are not uniform -_-''

The 6 rolled doughs were laid side by side and one end pinched together. YY helped me to hold the pinched end while I braided the dough to form the challah. The challah is then brushed with a layer of egg wash and left to rise for another hour.

Another layer of egg wash is applied to the challah after the 1 hour of rising to give the challah a lacquered, dark brown look after baking. The challah is then baked in a 190°C oven for about 25-30 min.

The finished challah! Nice brown colour and the braid design is fully visible. Smells DAMN good!

The crumb of the challah is nicely structured as well~ ^__^

The challah is very soft and fluffy, slightly sweet and has a nice eggy taste. *SLURP* It stayed soft even after 3 days. O.o

Ok...wondered where I learnt to braid? I learnt from this video:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ciabatta again!

After my first ciabatta, I decided to make my second ciabatta 1 week after my first attempt.
As I'm still not familiar in handling high hydration dough, I decided to find a ciabatta recipe with about 67-70% water.

Biga after water and flour were added together. The biga is made from plain flour this time instead of bread flour so that the ciabatta will have a softer texture. The water content for this biga is also lesser as compared to the last one and hence, the mixture can be formed into a dough. The biga is left to sit outside covered for 12-15 hours to ferment.

The main dough consists of bread flour, more water, salt and olive oil. This recipe has olive oil added, further softening the bread as the oil helps to lubricate the gluten layers.

From top left: Adding of the rest of the ingredients to the fermented biga; mixing the dough; gluten forming in the dough (tested using the "Window Pane" test); dough ready for 1st proofing.

After the 1st proofing, as per the first attempt, it is time to fold the dough. I used a trusty stainless steel scraper to help to do the folding.

Dough and my trusty scraper before folding.

Dough after the first fold and left to proof. You can see the big pocket of bubbles at the edge of the dough.

I divided the dough into 2 after the first fold and continued to fold the 2 separate doughs twice. The top dough was handled too roughly and OOPS! It deflated...-_-'' Just compare the difference in size between the 2 doughs.

After the 2nd and 3rd folds, the doughs are left to proof for about 45min - 1 hour. They are then sprayed with water (for a thicker and crispier crust) and baked in a 200°C oven for about 30-40 min.

Both loafs nice and brown after baking.

How the crumb looks like. The crumb structure, although there aren't any big big holes, has improved. Compared to my first attempt, the bread this time is much more soft and chewy and it tastes better. My mum loved this bread!

For future attempts, I will use about 80% water for my ciabatta. Can't wait! ^__^

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My First Ciabatta

Ever since I started to make bread out of interest, I have always been fascinated by the bread Ciabatta. The meaning of the name (Slipper bread) and the holey crumb really interested me. But what prevented me from attempting to make Ciabatta is the difficulty in making this bread, from what I read on the internet. But I decided to pick up my courage and attempted to make my first Ciabatta!

Making the Biga

I prepared the Biga using bread flour, yeast and water and let it sit covered outside overnight for about 12-15 hours. This Biga has quite a high water content, about 70-80%.

Top: Biga right after the mixture was done.
Bottom: Biga after 12-15 hours. Nice and bubbly with a nice beer-aroma smell.

Making the Dough

The dough is made using bread flour, water and salt. Just add all the ingredients to the Biga.
Since this Ciabatta I'm attempting has a total of 80-85% water, it is IMPOSSIBLE to knead the dough.

YY was the one who helped me did the main dough. What she did was to keep scraping the dough from the sides of the bowl and fold it to the centre of the dough while turning the bowl. She repeated this for about 20-30 min until the dough started to pull away from the bowl and it eventually formed a rounded dough. The dough was then covered with a cling film and left to rest for 30 min.

From top-left: Biga with the rest of the flour, water and salt; messy mixture of the dough; YY folding the dough onto itself; the formed dough resting for 30min.

Folding the Dough

Ciabattas' special characteristics will have to be their holey crumb and thick, crispy crust. I came across a method on the internet on how to achieve this.

Repeat the above for 2-3 times, each time taking care not to burst any air bubbles.

From top-left: dough after resting for 30min; me folding the dough; folded dough; how the dough looks like after folding. I did not flip the dough over after the folding as the dough as too sticky and soft. -_-

After proofing, I transferred the dough onto a baking tray sprinkled with semolina powder. I think I was too rough and also the dough was stuck onto the marble surface and caused the dough to flatten! O.O!

From top-left: Flat dough on baking tray; dough proofing in unheated oven; dough after 1 hour; another picture of the dough.

The proofed dough is then sprayed with water (to make a ticker crust) and then popped into a 200°C oven to bake for 30-40min till golden brown.

From Top-left: Bread baking; baked Ciabatta; close up shot; picture of the crumb.

The ciabatta was not as soft as I expected it to be. No big and holey structure too. Maybe was due to the flattening of the dough when it was transferred to the baking tray and also maybe due to the lack of oil in the recipe.

Things learnt:
1. Fold the dough on the baking tray so that it does not have to be transferred after proofing.
2. Must flip the dough over after folding so that the smooth surface is on the top to prevent air from escaping.

Well, to me, at least this was a good attempt as the watery, sticky mess became a bread in the end~

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home made arcade style joystick - Finishing touches and after thoughts

Using Decorative paper

With the joystick complete, it is time to make it look nicer ^_^

I used a roll of decorative paper bought by my mum to beautify my joystick. These decorative paper can be found easily at stationery shops and Daiso.

Nice colour and design ^_^

As my joysitck were secured together using butt joints, to make the joystick look better, I decided that the decorative paper to be glued on to give the illusion that the joints were miter joints instead.

Although the decorative paper has an adhesive layer at the back, it is not strong enough for the paper to be stuck permanently to my joystick as the surface is rough. Hence, I used white glue (undiluted) to help in gluing the paper.

Using a ruler to help even out the decorative paper to remove any creases.

Applying white glue by finger on the bottom of the joystick. I added the rubber pads so that the joystick will be slip-free.

"Miter-joint looking" due to the how the adhesive paper was cut and glued onto the joystick.

For the part where the cable sticks out, due to the nature of the hole/slot for the cable, an offset cut in the decorative paper was done instead of a straight cut so that the cable hole/slot can be covered nicely and completely.

Cable hole/slot opening and the comaprison between offset cut and straight cut.

How the offset cut looks like after it was glued.

The final look of the joystick!

After Thoughts

If you really think hard, plan hard and actually put down the time and effort to do something, you'll eventually do that something right. No point just sitting down and only THINK. Thoughts do not materialise unless you really put your thoughts into actions.

This project really gave me the confidence to do up another joystick somewhere early next year. The 2nd joystick is already in design stage so stay tuned!

After the 2nd joystick is done, the challenging project for nex year will be:

A home made 2-players Beatmania IIDX controller for the PS2! Now, THIS will be the real challenge.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Home made arcade style joystick - Wiring pointers and tips

Fixing Up of the Buttons and Joystick

It is time to fix in all the buttons and joystick. The moment of truth...

Since the PCB in using has an Analog on/off switch, I used a mini push button as the on/off trigger.

Mini push buttons from Sim Lim Tower. Costs $0.50 per piece.

From top to bottom: How the back looks like; the front (notice where the small mini button is)

Notice that a large portion at the back of the top cover was removed.
I had to chisel away the large portion as the buttons can only screw onto surfaces with a maximum thickness of about 8mm and my wooden plank is 17mm -_-

Wiring for the Buttons and Joystick

For this PCB board that I used, all the buttons and directional pad share a common ground. Hence, I daisy-chained the ground terminals for all them together.

Daisy-chaining. The red rectangles are the connectors and the blue lines are the wires that I had shown in my earlier post here.

For the SANWA buttons, there are 2 terminals per button. Take note that either terminal can be made the ground terminal.

For the Seimitsu joystick, it is a bit tricky. There are 5 different coloured wires attached to the joystick.

The orange wire is GROUND.

But for the rest of the wires, depending on how the joystick is mounted, they will be different. Just refer to the table below for easy reference! ^_^

Joystick wiring reference table.

Terminal blocks were used for joining the wires from the buttons and joystick to the PCB wires and secured by screws.

From top: Halfway through the wiring; wiring done for the joystick (I know, the wiring is very messy...-__-).

With the wiring done, the back cover was put on and screwed on tightly and the protective layer on the acrylic sheet removed and VIOLA!

Home made arcade joystick completed!

Tested the joystick on my PC and PS2 and it worked like a charm! Weee~~

A game of Street Fighter or King of Fighters, anyone?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Home made arcade style joystick - Fixing up the joystick box

Fixing the Joystick Box

For the joystick box, I used the simplest of all end joints to join the wood pieces together:

The exact reinforced butt joint that I used. The butt joints were secured together by 2 dowels and 2 screws and the reinforcement secured by glue. Not very nice-looking, but it does not matter to me as the whole joystick box will be covered with adhesive decorative paper in the end.

If you are planning to apply lacquer/varnish to the wood surface at the end, you may want to consider having nicer looking end joints like the miter joints and dovetail joints but they are much harder to make.

Remember to cut the reinforcement pieces to be shorter than the actual height of the joystick to allow the top and bottom cover of the box to fit in nicely.

Clockwise from top-left: joystick box with all butt joints done; cut reinforcement pieces; gluing on the reinforcement pieces to the box; the finished joystick box.

And don't forget the hole for the cable from the PCB to run out!

Bottom of the joystick box. You can see the hole for the wire to go through.

Putting on the top cover. A perfect fit! Time to put in the buttons and joystick!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home made arcade style joystick - Hole cutting tips and embedding of the joystick

Cutting of the holes for the buttons and joystick

For this, two hole saws with different diameters (24mm for the start and select buttons and the joystick, and 30mm for the butons) and 2 different drills were used. The lower-powered drill was used for cutting the acrylic sheet and to drill the centre of all the holes through to the wood while the high-powered drill was used to drill all the holes in the wooden board.

  1. NEVER remove the brown protective layer on the acrylic sheet prior to cutting/drilling etc. This brown protective layer prevents accidental scratches as well as prevents the sheet from cracking during cutting and drilling.

  2. Use a small drill bit (diameter ~3mm) to drill through the acrylic sheet and the wooden board to mark the centres of all the holes before using the hole saws so that the cuts will be accurate. Bigger drill bits also tend to slip when starting to drill, resulting in inaccurately-placed holes. The small holes made by the small drill bit will prevent this from happening.

  3. Secure the acrylic sheet firmly to the wooden board by using sticky tape during drilling so that the acrylic sheet will not slip.
On to the actual drilling and cutting!

Clockwise from top-left: 24mm and 30mm hole saws and adapter with 6mm diameter drill bit; Cutting the holes in the acrylic sheet using the low powered drill; Wooden board with the centre of all holes marked; Cutting the holes using the high power drill (got so hot that the wood burned and the smoke produced is CHOKING -_-)

Finished products:

Next is to cut the recess to fit in the joystick.

For standard arcade machines, the joystick shaft length from the surface of the joystick to the bottom of the ball is about 24m. Hence, for the S-plate that comes with the Seimitsu joystick, after doing some math from the joystick's dimensions, a recess of 9mm is needed.I used a chisel and mallet to cut out the rectangular hole as well as to cut the recess to fit in the S-plate.

Perfect fit!

Next up: Fixing the controller box and wiring of the buttons!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Home made arcade style joystick - Soldering and Sawing Guide and Tips

Making the joystick needs to be done in a few different steps, such as soldering wires to the PSone controller, making the box, wiring of the joystick and the buttons etc.

Soldering wires to the PSone controller

This is my first time doing soldering -_-''. Searched around the internet for guides on soldering and found this GREAT video on YouTube!

  1. Use a lower powered soldering iron, 40W and below for the soldering to prevent peeling out the copper contacts.
  2. ALWAYS tip your soldering tip with some solder before soldering.
  3. Some of the contact points are covered with a black layer that cannot be soldered on. Just simply scratch the black layer off GENTLY with a flat surface like a screwdriver or the back of a penknife until the copper layer is revealed.
  4. ALWAYS use solder with flux in them and have a piece of wet sponge beside you when soldering to clean the soldering tip from time to time.
With the knowledge gained, I'm all set to solder my PCB board!

Clockwise from top-left: The PCB board from the PSX controller; me tipping the soldering tip before soldering; soldering in progress and the finished soldered PCB board.

You can use a hot glue gun to secure the soldered points in place if you want to to ensure that the wires stay soldered to the PCB.

(Note: In the end, this PCB cannot be used as it conflicts with my USB-PS2 adaptor and I had to use an analog PSone controller PCB instead)

Soldering wires to the PCB is done! ^_^

Sawing of the wood fiber board for the controller box

I used the jig saw for cutting the fiber board as it is much faster than using the hacksaw.

  1. Use a fine cut saw blade like the Bosch T101B for a finer cut to lessen the need for filing the edges after cutting.
  2. To ensure a straight cut, use a guider (something long and straight, held in place by F-clamps or G-clamps) to guide the jig saw to travel a straight path during cutting.

  3. ALWAYS include the distance from the edge of the jig saw metal piece to the jig saw blade when measuring and sizing the wood for cutting.

    For my jig saw, this distance is 34mm. Hence, for example, if I want to cut a piece of wood that is 70mm wide, I'll need to measure a total of 104mm from the edge of the wood to place the guider so that when the jigsaw cuts, I'll get my piece of 70mm wide wood (see below for example).

    Red rectangle: The piece of 70mm wide wood I wanted
    Blue rectangle: The whole wooden plank
    Brown rectangle: Guider placed at the 104mm mark.
With all the tips in mind, time to cut.

Clockwise from top-left: Me and dad outside my house's corridor; my dad guiding me on the cutting method; me cutting the wood; cut pieces of the wood.

To be continued...