I have dabbled in bread-making before – sausage rolls and mexican buns, but it had never turned out very well. There was this horrible yeasty smell and flavour that turned everybody off. The first loaf I made recently from a packet of premix was just the same, and the crumb was very flaky too. I got too adventurous with my second loaf – trying out a difficult 100% wholemeal bread, which turned out just as disappointing – plus it reeked of alcohol so badly that I had to turn it into bird food.
So what have I done wrong? After extensive research online, I found out that I had left the dough to rise far too fast and for way too long. The best advise I can give anybody living in the SEA region is this:
Don’t go by time. Go by look and feel.
Most recipes online were meant for cool climates so rising times vary. The amount of water for each bread recipe varies too depending on the humidity in your region and also the type of flour you use. I started off making mostly artisan breads of flour, salt, yeast and water. I experimented with the Baker’s Percentages until I got a presentable loaf.
But I still wasn’t happy.
Why? My family lives in Asia and Asian bread are so soft and chewy. My husband and daughter are too used to those kinds of bread that my artisan breads are only suitable for making garlic toasts with. *urgh*
So, I tried the TangZhong (湯種) method of making bread.
Incredible. Success at the first try! Same principle as making tong yuen – which was to scald the flour with hot water to get a chewy end-result. Or in the case of bread making – cook a small portion of the flour + water until 65 degrees celcius.
I followed this recipe by Corner Cafe. Many thanks! I tweaked it a bit by adding more liquids because my dough came out a tad bit too dry for my liking… as I’ve mentioned earlier – go by feel. The more you bake, the better you get!
The recipe called for 1 hour for the first rise, but mine doubled in size after 45 minutes (eventhough I made this at night and placed it in a cool dark corner of my storeroom). The second rise was even faster – around 30 minutes. However, it took slightly longer to bake and I had to cover the bread with an aluminium foil to stop the top of the bread from browning to much – I blame my cranky oven for this.
Next on my list would be a wholemeal version of this bread. I just can’t wait!