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2022 January 20

Red bean paste buns again

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For this week’s bread-and-tea I want to make bean-paste bao again.  I already posted the recipe I used for making the koshi-an (sweet red-bean paste) and a recipe for the bao dough, so this post will just have an updated recipe for the dough.

I made the koshi-an tonight, and it looks and tastes like it should, though the azuki beans are probably getting dried out, as it took about 8 hours of simmering to get them soft enough to push through the food mill.  I’m always amazed how the bean paste looks so grey and crumbly after the water is squeezed out, and adding the sugar makes it even paler and drier-looking, but heating and stirring makes it shine with the lovely red-bean-paste color.

For the bao, I am still adapting the recipe from Mai Leung’s Dim Sum and Other Chinese Street Food. I don’t have cake flour or pastry flour in the house, but I do have all-purpose flour. I did once try cutting all-purpose flour with sweet rice flour, but the results were terrible, so this time I’ll just try using straight al-purpose flour.

Furthermore, our household has gone vegan for January (veganuary), so I won’t use lard or butter.  I have a choice of a vegetable shortening made from red palm oil and coconut oil or pure coconut oil. Since I think that the palm oil has worse ecological impact than coconut oil, I’ll try the pure coconut oil this time.  It shouldn’t matter if it imparts a bit of coconut flavor to the dough, since I’m using a sweet filling.

Step 1:

1 tsp yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
½ cup sifted all-purpose flour

Mix together and proof for fifteen minutes.

Step 2:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup warm water

Mix with the sponge from step 1 and let rise for 2 hours (until doubled).

Step 3:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¼ cup slightly warm water

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and baking powder, then knead with the dough from Step 2, gradually adding the coconut oil and water. The dough was very dry, so I added an extra two teaspoons of water.  The dough was still rather dry, but seemed kneadable. 

Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 1½ inches in diameter, cut into 12 equal pieces and roll each one into a ball. Keep covered with a damp towel. Let rise until more than doubled (about 3.5 hours). I did the rising after the rolling into balls, rather than before, this time.

Cut 12 3-inch squares of waxed paper.  Roll each ball into a circle about 2½ inches in diameter, but no thinner than ¼” thick. (Using my cookie sticks!) Pinch the outer edges to be a little thinner. Wet the outermost ½” of edges of the circle with a wet fingertip, to encourage sealing.

Put about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the circle, then pull up the edges and pinch and twist them to seal. Put the bun flat-side-down on a waxed paper square. Let the buns rise for 30 minutes before steaming.

Keep the buns at least ½ inch apart in the steamer, and steam for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Steamed buns can be frozen and thawed, then re-steamed.

21 Jan 2022: Here are the photos of the bao that I promised yesterday—about 5 of the 12 seem to have sealed ok, so I need to either make the dough wetter or do something to improve my technique. (Colored text above are modifications to the post since yesterday.)

12-bao-in-steamer

The 12 bao in the bamboo steamer.

5-bao-on-plate

The five that did not open up too much on a black platter.

2022 January 14

Pane integrale

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:05
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Last week I baked focaccia (using roughly the recipe in Sourdough focaccia 2), so this week I’ll try a different Italian bread: pane integrale, based on the recipe Marcella Hazan’s More Classic Italian Cooking.  Despite the name, only about ⅓ of the flour is whole-wheat flour. I’m adapting the recipe to work with my sourdough starter.

Day 1: I started with a light sponge to rise and sour overnight. Mix

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon sugar

together in large bowl.  Cover and let rise overnight.

Day 2: Stir down and remove one cup of mixture for new sourdough starter. To the remaining sponge, add

½ cup whole wheat flour

and let rise for another day.

Day 3 (the day of baking): Mix into the sponge

1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt

with bread hook. Knead in an additional

¼ cup bread flour

by hand, to get a smooth dough. Place the ball of dough in a bowl with a little oil (turning to coat the ball with oil), cover, and let rise 3–4 hours until doubled.  The dough seemed a little dry to me—there may have been enough evaporation from the long rising of the sponge that I should have increased the water.

Knead the bread again “for a few seconds”.  Divide the dough into two parts and shape into ovals. Our family refers to this bread as football bread, because the shape is like an American football, but Marcella Hazan calls them “cigar-shaped rolls”. Perhaps because of the dough being a little too dry, I could not get the shaped loaves to cohere—I may need to add a ¼ cup more water next time I try this recipe.

Preheat oven to 450°F (which means setting 500°F on my oven).  While the oven is warming up, let the dough rest on baking parchment.  Just before baking, make a single, 1″ deep lengthwise slash of each loaf.  Brush the loaves with water (oops, I forgot to brush them) and slide onto the baking tiles in the oven.

Bake at 450°F for 12 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350°F (about 400° setting on my oven) and bake for another 35 minutes.  Cool for a couple hours on a rack before serving.

The loaves “exploded” in the oven—the lack of cohesion in the shaping becoming rather obvious.

2021 June 25

Retirement present from my students

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Several of the students in my applied analog electronics course got together to get me a retirement present, which was very sweet of them.  They gave me two “foodie” books: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and Renaissance Recipes by Gillian Riley.  A dozen of the students wrote notes on the end papers of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It was a very sweet and thoughtful present. Somewhat surprisingly, my wife and I did not own either of these two books in our collection of about 140 cookbooks (which include over a dozen renaissance cookbooks and at least nine books on baking bread).

The students also gave me an apron with silk screening: 

The Man   The Myth

THE

 LEGEND

HAS RETIRED

I suppose I should pick one of the recipes (oops—formulæ) from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for the next bread-and-tea event.


2021 February 13

Mixer-bowl bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:51
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On Friday, I made a variant of the mixing-bowl bread of a few weeks ago.

I started the bread on Wednesday, but baked it Friday afternoon.  I did not measure all the ingredients, so the numbers here are approximate:

1½ cup sourdough starter
1 cup bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yogurt
2 teaspoons vinegar (with mother of vinegar—vigorously shaken before measuring)

The yogurt and vinegar were added to re-inoculate the starter with their bacteria—the focaccia last week did not seem to have enough old-dough flavor.  Use the dough hook of the mixer to mix the ingredients (they are too liquid to make a dough). Let the sponge rise for several hours, then take out a cup of it to save as the next starter.   The sponge did not seem very active, so I let it rise more overnight.

Thursday morning I added

1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar.

While mixing with the dough hook, gradually add

4 cups whole-wheat flour

The goal is to get a dough that is elastic but still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and knead by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured to keep it from sticking.  This used another

¼ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a soft and elastic dough that was not too sticky.  Put it in a mixing bowl (not the one from the mixer) with a little olive oil and turn it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  Let it rise for a day with a damp cloth covering the bowl.

Friday morning, I greased the bowl of hte KitchenAid mixer with

cocoanut oil

and turned the dough into the mixer bowl. The dough deflated a little on being transferred from one bowl to the other. Let it rise in the new bowl for 4 hours. Bake at 400–450°F for about an hour and 20 minutes (until the center of the load is around 195°F). I turned the loaf out of the bowl then to bake another ten minutes on terra cotta tiles, but that may not be necessary.

The loaf is quite tall, with cute dimple in the middle from the corresponding bump in the bottom of the mixer’s bowl.

The bread was very similar to the previous mixing-bowl loaf, but with a slightly better crust.  The crumb was good and the bread had a good whole-wheat, sourdough flavor.  This is probably the tallest loaf of sourdough I’ve ever baked—about 13cm high (5″) at the tallest part.

2021 January 16

Mixing-bowl bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:40
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Yesterday I had a small bread-and-tea event (only 2 people besides me)—the events really don’t work as well on Zoom as on-campus, where the smell of the freshly baked bread fills the hallways. On Zoom, I can’t share the bread I bake.

The bread I made yesterday was not a particularly special recipe, but I tried baking it differently.  Instead of using a loaf pan or shaping the loaf on baking parchment, I just left it in the mixing bowl that it had been rising in, and baked it there.

I started the bread on Thursday, but baked it Friday afternoon.  I did not measure all the ingredients, so the numbers here are approximate:

1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups bread flour
2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar

Use the dough hook of the mixer to mix the ingredients (they are too liquid to make a dough). Let the sponge rise for a couple of hours, then take out a cup of it to save as the next starter.   To the rest add

2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil

While mixing with the dough hook, gradually add

2½ cups whole-wheat flour

The goal is to get a dough that is elastic but still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and knead by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured to keep it from sticking.  This used another

½ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a soft and elastic dough that was not too sticky.  Put it in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil and turn it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  Let it rise overnight with a damp cloth covering the bowl.  After a couple of hours the dough had doubled in size, but shaking the bowl a little deflated it, without needing to punch it down.

In the morning, grease a different stainless-steel mixing bowl with

cocoanut oil (or butter)

and turn the dough into the new bowl. The dough again deflated on being transferred from one bowl to the other. Let it rise in the new bowl for 4 hours. Bake at 375°F for about an hour (until the center of the load is around 195°F). I turned the loaf out of the bowl then to bake another ten minutes on terra cotta tiles, but that may not be necessary.

Here is the baked bread still in the mixing bowl it was baked in.

Turning the bread out onto the tiles was very easy. I could have just cooled the bread at that point, but I decided to bake it a little longer to make the crust a little crisper.

The bread cooling on the rack shows the nice color and shape from the unusual loaf pan.

The bread had a slightly softer crust than some of my sourdoughs (as expected from using a pan), but the crumb was excellent—the somewhat soft dough and gentler handling of the bread before the final rising probably helped.

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