The lure of bread making Recipe
Monday, 13 September 2010
There is something magical about bread baking, something that I could hardly express with words...
The mere act of combining the simplest ingredients and kneading them together with your very own hands will set off a chain of magical chemical reactions. As you work your way through the combined mess of ingredients, kneading and stretching repeatedly, will magically transform something shaggy and ugly to something as smooth and soft as a baby's bottom. It is also about the mysterious actions of yeast coming to live, releasing carbon dioxide as it starts feasting on the sugars, causing the dough to rise and expand, all happening under a warm and comfortable environment. The aroma of bread baking in the oven...the moment of satisfaction when a freshly baked loaf emerges from the oven...makes me feel that all the extra effort is worth it. It is such a wonderful and rewarding experience only those who have walked through the entire process would be able to appreciate and enjoy their fruits of labour.
For the past week, I was able to indulge in my favourite past time. I finally got down to made this simple banana loaf bread, a recipe which I have copied down for quite sometime. Yes, my recipes are mostly handwritten as they are mainly copied from books which I borrowed from the library. I use a mixture of English and Chinese, using terms and codes that probably I am the only one on earth who could decipher ;)
As compared to store-bought banana-flavoured loaf bread, this homemade version has got only a slight hint of banana fragrant... it is 'there and yet not there', you know what I mean? Even though this bread is made with the straight dough method, without using any sponge dough or tangzhong, the texture remains soft for two days. Yet, this loaf may not pass a bread making test. I read that it is not the best way to judge a loaf just by its appearance and texture. Although the texture is soft, and the holes on the crumb appear to be evenly spaced out, lots of bread crumbs fell off as I sliced up the loaf. Evidently, I must have over-proof the dough, either during the first fermentation or the second rise :(
I guess, partly because of my repeated failures, I am constantly lured to make the next loaf, again and again. I probably won't give up until one day I am able to churn out a satisfactory loaf from my kitchen.
Banana Loaf Bread
(makes one 20x10x10cm loaf)
- 300g bread flour
- 42g caster sugar
- 4.5g salt
- 9g milk powder
- 3g instant yeast
- 90g banana, mashed
- 30g fresh milk
- 30g egg
- 45ml cold water
- 30g butter
Stir bread flour, caster sugar, salt, milk powder and instant yeast in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, add in mashed banana, fresh milk and egg. Reserve about 30ml of water and add the rest into the mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients with hand and slowly form into a rough dough. Add in a little of the reserved water if the mixture is too dry.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough till smooth. Add in the reserved water a little at a time, knead well after each addition. (This way, the dough will not be too wet and sticky). Use up all the reserved water. The whole process should take about 10mins.
When the dough is smooth, knead in the butter. Continue to knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your hand, becomes smooth and elastic. This should take about another 20 mins. Do the window pane test: pinch a piece of the dough, pull and stretch it. It should be elastic, and can be pulled away into a thin membrane without tearing/breaking apart easily.
Place each dough in lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about 50mins to 1 hour, or until double in bulk.
Remove the dough from the bowl and give a few light kneading to press out the gas. Divide dough into two equal portions. Roll into rounds. Cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let the doughs rest for 25mins.
On a lightly floured work surface, flatten each dough into a round disc, roll the dough from the centre to the edges until the diameter is about 9". Flip the dough over. Fold the dough 1/3 from the left side towards the centre. Fold over 1/3 from the right side, to form a long rectangle (about 9" x 3"). Starting from the shorter end roll up swiss-roll style. Pinch and seal the seams. Place the two doughs, seam side down, in a well greased pullman tin. (See illustrations below).
Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap and leave doughs to proof for the second time for about 55mins (at temperature 32 degC) or when the dough has almost reached the rim of the tin. Brush with egg wash.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 40 mins or until golden brown. Cover with a foil if the top browns too quickly. Remove from oven, unmold immediately and let cool completely before slicing. Once cooled, store immediately in air-tight container.
Recipe source: 天然、无添加的手作面包 by 王传仁