11 July 2014

Tangzhong Milk Bread

Ahoy, bread-making time! This month I've been making a lot of bread. I attempted to make the Asian milk bread with tangzhong, and it turned out super duper fluffy! This will probably be the go-to recipe for future potlucks and parties. It can be found here. I am now embarrassed with about 90% of the bread I've made in the past that I've shared with people.

In other news, I've become irritated with recipe posts in which there are a ton of pictures of the food and not the process. Pictures of the dough, consistency of dough, size of pan, etc. are fine and dandy, but numerous glossy pictures of the finished product, from various angles, have become irksome. There's something annoying about having to scroll an entire page through pretty but useless photos before discovering a recipe, and then scrolling another page to find the oven temperature and baking time. Alas, what to do about all my previous blog posts in which I posted such images?! Rest assured future images will be more wisely chosen.

My Notes
  • I've made this recipe three times so far, each time with alterations because ... well, that's what I do, with limited ingredients.
  • Tangzhong - milk and flour as specified! I added some cinnamon as the mixture was cooking. You want to get a gruel-type consistency. While it cools, a skin starts to form and the gruel starts drying up. So, it is wise to scoop everything into a blob that takes up minimum pot surface area, so later you don't have half your tangzhong dried onto the edges of the pan.
  • Ingredient substitutions, to use up stuff in the house:
    • About 5 cups of flour - Not really sure how much. It just has to feel like a dense marshmallow, and squishy
    • Soy powder instead of milk powder
    • 1/2 cup milk instead of half and half
    • 4 tbsp oil instead of butter
    • Yeast! 12 g active dry yeast, mixed with about 30 ml of above-body-temperature water (microwaved)
    • Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, chopped dried apricot!
  • Method changes:
    • Mix all the liquid with two cups of flour prior to adding the yeast mixture
    • Continue adding 2 cups of flour and mix
    • Add the tangzhong and another cup of flour, mixing here and there
    • At this point, the dough should be kneaded by hand. Keep adding handfuls of flour and kneading until you get a pliable, almost-wet, squishy dough that feels like thick marshmallow or play-doh or what I imagine hot taffy to feel like. When you poke it gently, the dough should spring back
    • Let sit in hot sweltering summer heat until doubled in size. Dough should be pliable, dry enough to not stick to the bowl, but wet enough to stick slightly to your hands. It is nice and squishy
    • Make into rolls or logs or braids and let re-rise for 30 mins
    • Egg wash! I have this nifty egg crystal package that I got from the IFT Expo last summer. I never need more than half an egg for egg wash, and now, I can reconstitute exactly half an egg! Just add water! What a wonderful world. Outside of using the crystals for egg washes though, I don't think it is cost-effective for me, as I do have access to fresh eggs during most of my waking hours. However, these crystals non-perishable, non-crushable, and therefore super for camping, the military, etc. So, huzzah!
    • Pans. I like using smaller pans because it makes my buns look big. Hehe. Well, tall. I fit all of the dough into what looks like an 8x8 glass pan. Glass is a nice material for bread, as are leftover Chipotle burrito bowl lids (but I don't have anymore of those! No more free Chipotle!)
    • Rolls (say, 8 rolls) are better in a square pan like this because the middle doesn't end up slightly raw. In a loaf pan (which I will acquire someday!), a loaf would be pretty nice
After doubling in size

After second rise (30 minutes)

Bread with almost-the-same recipe but no tangzhong, egg crystals instead of eggs, and powdered milk and water instead of milk. Oh, and no sugar because I forgot. Note how flat it is :( There is sesame on it, though. It tasted much denser and dry and ... sort of like bland pizza dough. The dough while kneading was also way denser and felt more like a cookie dough than a bread dough (no spring! no squish!).

And finally, a note about the direction of this blog. In the past year, I've had so many food experiences, but I haven't had time to update! I've also started to become somewhat embarrassed at taking pictures at public gatherings/meals, given my point-and-shoot camera (while everyone else is using their smartphones-with-flash or their fancy DSLR camera with varying lenses). Finally, food blogging, or at least, posting pictures of food with captions and descriptions, has become so pedestrian. Everyone does it now. Instagram, hashtags, Facebook brunches with hundreds of Likes...
What differentiates my food life from everyone else's? Why read a 1000-word essay and cooking process when you can scroll through a delicious avocado burger? "I did it before it was cool" is neither a decent response nor constructive. I get a much larger readership if I post one HoverZoom-able picture on Facebook or Imgur, and much more instant gratification.
Yet at the same time, how many people can say that they maintain an entire food website!

Well, now that I've graduated, a few things I'd like to do include:
  1. Actually making my own website for general real-life use
  2. Somehow incorporating the blog into my website, or at least, re-designing the entire layout of the blog. An issue is that many previous posts have been terribly formatted, with Images and Words (hehe, Dream Theater) running amok. Oh, and numerous tags. Augh!
  3. Deciding whether the blog is word-focused or picture-focused. I'd like to think that I contribute more to the world via stories about cooking and culture, rather than pictures of food, but pictures are quite attention-grabbing. The site layout will therefore probably reflect this.
  4. Determining whether this blog will be a blog for all my thoughts, or merely food-centric. This also depends on the creation of my actual website.

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