Pillow-y Willow-y Bread. The Reveal.

I have yet to recover from my manic week. Shan’t go on too much about it lest I ramble. Hopefully I get good news in late May and then… Okay. Back to Bread.

I was clicking around a few weeks back when I stumbled upon an interesting bread-making method called the Tang Zhong (汤种) method. Translated directly from Chinese, 汤种 basically means ‘soup planting’ – the bread-making equivalent of the ‘moist-maker’ I suppose?

A few other blogs also described this as a ‘brioche’ or ‘water roux’ method. And hey, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So says William. Who am I to disagree?

For the purpose of this entry, I’m going to stick to calling it Tang Zhong because a) I don’t use water in my roux; b) as far as I’m concerned, the brioche recipes call for more eggs and butter – which is why I haven’t attempted any before. Adapted from here and here, may I present…

Nut-Speckled Raisin Loaf

Prepare the Tang Zhong beforehand as it needs to be cooled before use. You can do this up to a two days before.

Tang Zhong

(1 part flour to 5 parts liquid. In this case, milk.)
25g bread flour
125ml milk

1. Whisk the flour into the milk in a small pan and make sure there are no lumps.
2. Put the pan over medium-low heat. Keep your eye on the mixture, stirring continuously as it thickens.  The experts say that the Tang Zhong is ready when the mixture reaches 65˚C. Me? I just winged it along with the rest of the seasoned pros. What I’ve read is that you just keep stirring it over the low heat until the mixture has thickened just enough to form visible ‘lines’ when your spoon or whisk passes through it as you stir.
3. Let cool at room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Cover the tangzhong with a piece of clingwrap coming into contact with the surface of the mixture so it won’t form a ‘skin’.

** I made a mistake the other day – heating up the milk before adding in the flour and whisking out the lumps (as I would with my usual roux), and for some reason, my bread turned out better. Shall stick to this from now on.

The Loaf

Dry ingredients:

350g bread flour
55g caster sugar
1tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

1 egg
125ml milk (I always use full cream)
120g tangzhong (The amount you’ve made from the instructions above)
2 tsp instant yeast
30g butter cubed and at room temperature

The Yum:
1 tbs sesame seeds (black and white) *
30g walnuts, rough chopped*
30g raisins*

* quantities can be adjusted according to taste

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a big bowl: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast. Mix well.

2. Make a well in the centre and crack the egg in.

3. Mix in the milk gradually to prevent lumps, followed by the tangzhong. When the dough becomes a little ‘stringy’, knead in the butter. And yes. It is messy. Especially if you are kneading by hand like myself. Press on. (Pun intended.)

4. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and stretchy. This takes a good 40 minutes or so. So I suggest you play some really good music – helps to keep time and rhythm. When the dough is ready, you should be able stretch it till it becomes a thin membrane before it breaks.

5. Dump in the seeds, nuts and raisins and knead it a bit more until the goodness is evenly distributed throughout the loaf.

6. Shape the dough into a ball and nestle it in a greased bowl. Cover it with cling wrap. I’ll usually use a wet cloth, but this dough is particularly sticky and cling wrap is easier to clean up with.

7. Let the dough proof till it’s doubled in size – it takes about an hour for me though the duration will vary depending on the weather.

8. Punch down the loaf (my favourite bit!). And depending on how you want your final loaf to look like, you can a) divide it into four rolls and line them into your loaf pan, b) divide it into eight balls and stuff them into your loaf pan in (2 rows of four). Make sure the seals are facing down.

9. Allow the loaf to proof a second time – this takes a shorter time for me, about 40 minutes.

10. 20 minutes before the end of proofing time, pre-heat your oven to 180˚C

11. Send in the lil babies into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. To test, give the loaf a knock on the bottom – the loaf should produce a hollow sound when done.

12. Remove from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

We’re gonna get out! (Don’t panic. I doubled the portion here.)

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One thought on “Pillow-y Willow-y Bread. The Reveal.

  1. Pingback: Three Month Mark | Stealing Time

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