Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Overnight Multi-Seeds Bread | The Easiest Bread To Make



Photo By: Elin Chow

I love eating bread and making them as well. Bread making is a daunting task, but it is one of the most rewarding experience too. I made my first bread after stumbling upon this overnight bread recipe online. It was a success and the bread I made was so good. So, I would recommend this recipe to anyone who love bread but do not have much time to make it. 

Making this bread is fairly easy. There are no special ingredients, equipment or techniques needed to make this bread, and all you need is time. You will need 24 hours to make this bread, but much of this is unattended waiting. It only takes you 5 to 10 minutes to prepare the dough. Once that is done, the dough will sit in the fridge and bake the next day. 

I admit that it is a little time consuming, but it does not really takes much effort to make. I actually prefer making my own bread because it is healthier and cheaper. 

1. Ingredients

Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this bread:

- 250g all purpose flour / bread flour
- 3.75g active dry yeast
- 15g sugar
- 3g salt
-160 ml water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 40g seeds (I am using sunflower seeds and walnuts. But you can use any seeds you like)

2. Warm the milk

Pour the milk into a pot and warm it over low heat to 40ºC. The milk should feel warm but not hot or boiling. It will kill the yeast if the milk is too hot.

3. Activate the yeast
Stir in the sugar rapidly into the milk until it dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast onto the liquid to activate  the yeast. This is to test and make sure the yeast is alive and active. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. The yeast is active if this happens and the solution will smell yeasty.

4. Combine the ingredients
In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast solution, oil and salt.

5. Mix the ingredients
Gently mix the ingredients together with a pair of chopsticks or wooden spoon.

6. Shape the dough

Once the ingredients stop combining, quickly shape dough into a ball with your hand.

7. Add in seeds mixture

Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand into an oval shape and add in the seeds mixture. 

8. Knead until well combined

Gently knead and work the seeds into the dough until well combined.

9. Store overnight in fridge

I usually make the dough around 9.00 to 10.00 pm at night. Making the dough only takes about 5 to 10 minutes. After the dough is made, put it in a sealed container and let it rest in room temperature for about 45 minutes before letting it sit overnight in the fridge for at least 12 to 24 hours.

10. Shape the dough the next day
The dough is cold and feels hard when you pull it out from the fridge the next day. Allow it to continue to rise in room temperature for at least an hour, or until it has warmed up enough that you can shape it. I usually submerge the container into a warm water bath to speed up the process.

At this stage, the dough should smell pleasantly sour with a slightly yeasty smell. It actually smell a little like alcohol too. This is because during fermentation, yeast and bacteria within the dough will feed off the sugars in the flour, producing carbon dioxide, alcohol and acids, which helps to develop distinctive flavour within the bread. But don't worry. The alcohol will evaporate after you bake the dough.

After the dough has warmed up, shape it to whatever shape you like and let it rest for 30 minutes. Once you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 190ºC and bake it for 15 minutes.

11. Ready to bake

The resulting loaf is super crusty on the outside but deliciously moist and soft inside. Give the bread a knock and it should sound hollow. This would also mean that your bread is done baking.

The crust become soft once the bread has cooled down completely. If you are not a fan of bread with a hard crust, you might want to eat this after it cooled down. You might also want to use bread flour instead of all purpose flour if you prefer a thinner crust.


Sunflower seeds and walnuts also add a great texture and nutty sweetness to the bread. But unfortunately, the bread tend to get a little dry if you eat it the next day. If you find it too dry to eat, you can try heating it up in the microwave. All you need is just 1 minute and the bread will come out moist again.


I have actually baked this overnight multi-seeds bread twice, with zero failure. Prior to this, I do not have any experience in baking. The second time I made this, I decided to lightly sprinkle some water and flour on top of the dough before baking. I also baked this for slightly longer for 20 minutes. The resulting loaf has a rustic crust but taste almost the same as the first one I made.

Please note that homemade bread does not last very long in the house because it contains no addictive. I recommend finishing it in 2 or 3 days after making it.

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

[Phuket, Thailand 2018] Ayara Kamala Resort & Spa


Photo By: Elin Chow
Official Website: Ayara Kamala Resort & Spa

Phuket is one of our favorite getaway destination. We visited the tropical island around July last year and booked another trip to Phuket again for May this year.  For our trip to Phuket last year, we stayed at Cape Sienna Hotel & Villas in Kamala and enjoyed the great tranquility far away from Patong. This time, we decided to stay in Kamala again, but preferably, in a different hotel.

After searching and reading tons of reviews online, we decided to book our stay at Ayara Kamala Resort & Spa. We booked the 4 days 3 night Honeymoon package in a Deluxe Ocean view room. The package includes:

- A guaranteed upgrade to Grand Thai Natural Ocean View & Spa Bath Room
- Welcome drink & cold towel upon arrival
- Daily breakfast (a la carte & buffet)
- Free WiFi
- Honeymoon set up in room
- Private round trip transfer from the airport to hotel to airport
- 1.5 hours exclusive spa package for 2 at Ratana Spa
- Premium High Tea Set for 2 at Ayara Parlour
- Complimentary Guest Activities from Monday to Saturday
- Daily Shuttle Service to Kamala Beach

Once my room reservation is confirmed, I proceeded to email Ayara to arrange an airport transfer . Reply was prompt and we had everything arranged before our trip.

It takes an hour and a half to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket. Upon arrival, we were delighted to find our driver holding an Ayara Kamala's sign with our name on it waiting for us at the arrival gate. He greeted us warmly with smiles and led us to the car.



Ayara Kamala is a 5-star luxury resort that is set amongst the cliff tops, within a gated community on the famous Millionaire's Mile in Phuket - the same location as many of the island's top luxury development and multi-dollars villas. Nestled high up on a hill, the resort overlooks the scenic Kamala bay and is surrounded by lush greenery. Offering luxury and seclusion, this exclusive resort became our perfect hideaway for a few days on the picturesque island.

Sitting at the beginning of the Millionaire's Mile is the luxurious Andara Resort & Villas, and right next door, you will find Cape Sienna Hotel & Villas. Ayara is located further uphill and it takes about 15 minutes by car to get from the beach to the resort, via a long windy road. Its location is very inconvenient and it was impossible to get anywhere by foot. There were also no convenience stores nearby, so if we need to buy some snacks and drinks, we will need to get out by a car.


The car journey from the airport to the resort took about 50 minutes.  Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by smiling faces and invited to rest in a small cozy room right next to the reception. The reception area is quite small, but functional with simple decor.


At the moment we entered the property, we feel a sense of peace and calm. Refreshing cold towels and Roselle drinks are served while the staffs performed check in procedures for us. Service was not as good as we expected. The staffs did not brief us anything about the resort. They even forgot to give us the vouchers for our afternoon tea (which is included in our package) until we asked them about it.


We got into a buggy car that transported us from the lobby to our room. Our room is set on the high terrains of the resort, at the end of a steep slope. The grey granite stone road made the 5 minute ride bumpy and uncomfortable. It will be challenging to drag our luggage up the hill.


Be prepared to do lots of climbing if you stay here. Or if you are feeling tired or lazy, you can also rely on the resort's buggy services to get around. Yes, Ayara offers a buggy service and it is free for all guests. Simply give the reception a call and they will be happy to arrange a buggy to pick you up and drive you to wherever you want to go in the resort.

We did not really make use of the buggy service during our stay. Most of the time, we chose to walk. It was a tedious climb up the hill because the road is really steep and rocky. We just took it as a chance to train our legs.

The resort is not wheel chair accessible and people with disabilities should note that rooms are accessed via staircases. I will not recommend anyone to stay here if you have serious mobility issues.


Tucked away amongst the lush green forests on a steep hilltop above the sea below, Ayara offers only a total of 42 rooms and villas, ranging from standard hotel room to private pool villas to suit all budgets and needs. Each of the units are generously spaced out across the resort to ensure complete privacy. In fact, we do not often see other people unless we were at the restaurant or the pool.

The architecture of Ayara is distinctly Thai, blended with contemporary interiors and decor. Each room and villa is designed of the concept of "Ayara", corresponding with the kind and gentle nature of elephants. You will find elephant motifs all across the property.


Ayara uses a physical key rather than a key card. We actually prefer a key card to a physical key because it is much more convenient to carry around.  Turning the door knob, the front door opens directly into a huge bed room and living space, and a bathroom that is almost the same size as the bedroom.


Measuring 80 sqm, the modern Thai-style room was incredibly spacious and furnished with all necessary amenities. The room features elegant dark hardwood floors and furnishings, making the space looks warm and inviting.



The bed room features a super king-size bed with ultra soft pillows and high quality linens. We did not like the pillows because they were too soft. It will be good if the resort can offer a pillow selection for its guests. The bed was a little too hard for my back and I have trouble falling asleep at night.

A big colorful elephant painting above the bed became the focal point of the bedroom, which reminds guests of the tropical Thai setting. In the center of the bed was two kissing swans crafted from towel origami. A small welcome gift from the resort sit next to it with a letter of welcome.

The room is also equipped with a direct dial telephone,  LCD TV as well as a DVD player and a sound bar. The TV is obviously too small for the room and with limited channels, which makes it a little redundant. Complimentary WiFi is available, which you can easily connect to without password. But WiFi is slow and weak, which was very annoying.



The living space features a huge L-shaped sofa with coffee table that is great hours of lounging time.

Basic coffee and tea making facilities are provided in the room, as well as complimentary four bottles of mineral water and a free fruit platter.

The room has a well-stocked fridge with several cans of soft drinks, beer and snacks. But prices were expensive, which we already expected.



The room boasts a generously sized bathroom with separate shower and toilet cubicles, jacuzzi tub and vanity area. Luxuriously designed, the bathroom is a relaxing space to unwind. Bathing in this bathroom is a wonderfully relaxing experience and simply a joy.


The vanity area is equipped with a large mirror, hair dyer and wall mounted adjustable magnifying mirror for applying makeup. I love the vanity area very much because it was so comfortable for me to apply my makeup.


The glass enclosed shower cubicle is equipped with both hand held and rain fall shower head to indulge on.


The best feature of the bathroom is the jacuzzi tub The jacuzzi is decorated with a sprinkle of rose petals in water creating a relaxing and romantic spa experience for couple.

Complimentary toiletries replenished daily included shower cap, sewing kit, comb, insect repellent lotions, disposable toothbrush and toothpaste.



The room opens to a decent sized balcony that overlooks the sea and complete with outdoor sunbathing beds and table and chairs.


Most of the time, we kept the balcony door closed because there were lots of mosquito, insects and birds on the balcony. It was impossible to sit on the balcony without getting bitten by mosquito. What a waste! But we have no choice. Once you opened the door, the mosquito will fly into our room. Crickets and birds can also be heard chirping away all day long.


But luckily, we can still watch the blue sea from the comfort of our bed, with coffee in our hand. We spent our mornings lazing in our bed gazing out to sea. The coziness made it very hard for us to leave the room and check what else the resort has to offer.. An absolutely stunning space to retreat to tranquility!



Here is a quick walkthrough video of the room. It will give you a better glimpse of the room.

Private Beach

The resort has its very own private beach, which can be reached via a long, steep flight of stairs. There is an elevator which you can use, but it does not go all the way down to the bottom. You will still need to climb down a quite a long flight of stairs even if you take the elevator. Due to laziness, we did not visit the beach. But anyway, the beach is very small and not ideal for swimming because it is very rocky.
If you seek some beach time, you can take the free shuttle service to get to Kamala Beach. The shuttle operates at specific time slots and we were told that a 150 THB charge will apply if we need the resort to pick us up at a different timing.

We missed the last shuttle back to the resort from the beach on one of the day. I am not sure whether we really missed it or the shuttle just arrived earlier than the scheduled time. So I called and asked the resort to arrange a car to pick us up from the beach. But I was told that they do not have any car, so we were asked to take a Tuk Tuk back.

To be honest, we were very unhappy with their service because we noticed that all their cars are parked right in front of the hotel when we arrived by a Tuk Tuk. Our Tuk Tuk costs us 250 THB for such a short distance. Perhaps, 150 THB is too cheap and that was why the resort refused to pick us up. If it was really so, what is the point of offering such service in the first place?

Pool Area

The resort has a very nice pool area boasting a small but perfectly positioned infinity pool that overlooks the sea.




Around the pool, you will plenty of sun loungers where you can lay back, sip on cocktails poolside and enjoy the magnificent view of the dazzling blue sea.




Surrounded by lush green forest and overlooking the sea, the resort provides picturesque backdrops for photography.

Breakfast


Daily buffet breakfast is served at The Cradle Restaurant each morning beside the pool, from 6.30 am to 10.30 am. Each table is positioned right next to the main pool with stunning view of the sea. Guests can enjoy breakfast while watching the sea.



The buffet breakfast was nice but nothing impressive, consisting an array of Western and Asian dishes and free unlimited champagne. They tend to be a bit repetitive after a few days. But I really appreciate the free champagne because there are not many hotels that actually offer it.

Other than buffet, the resort also offers a range of food and drinks that we can order from their al carte menu, which are included in our breakfast package. All food and drink items on the al carte menu are made to order but we were not told about the al carte menu until we asked the staffs about it. When we asked, we were told that if we want to order from the al carte menu, make sure we can finish the food.


To be honest, we were not feeling very happy when we were hear that. The only thing we ordered from the menu was fresh watermelon juice.


The restaurant was not very busy during breakfast time, so you can enjoy peace and quiet that lets us relax and unwind.

We enjoyed our afternoon tea at the Cradle Restaurant as well.



The restaurant also includes a bar area with a snooker table for guests to chill. You can order a drink from the bar and enjoy a game of snooker.


Other amenities includes a tennis court, a fitness center and a kid room. There were not much activities for the kids. The resort is more suitable for couples looking for a quiet and romantic getaway.

Ratana Spa
Ratana Spa offers a full service spa menu that will leave you fully pampered. As included in our room package, we were entitled to a free 90 minutes massage at Ratana Spa.

We were warmly greeted by the staffs upon arrival. Please note that an advance reservation is required for the treatments. Initially, we wanted to opt for Balinese massage since we have never tried it before, but it was only available for 60 minutes. So we have no choice but to choose aromatherapy message instead.



The masseuses were very professional and skilful and applied the right amount of force. They were very friendly and were constantly checking on us, making sure that we would feel comfortable during the massage.

Ginger tea were served right after our treatment and we were given time to relax.

Overall Experience 

Away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Ayara is secluded retreat offering privacy and personal space for one to relax and unwind. The atmosphere is private, romantic and relaxing for honeymooners and couples to spend quality time together.

We appreciate the free round trip airport transfer because transportation is very expensive in Phuket. However, service (especially the breakfast team) is definitely not up to par to a 5-star establishment and seriously need improvement. Most of the staffs were generally very friendly and greeted us with smiles whenever they see me. But that was obviously not enough to make up for a few small unpleasant incidents.

As mentioned, the resort is in a very inconvenient location, which we already expected before arrival. The resort should really consider providing more free shuttle to the beach for its guests. Overall, we have quite an enjoyable stay at Ayara. But I still prefer Cape Sienna to Ayara in terms of location and service.

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