October 31, 2010

Another Great Loaf

I love the tactile nature of kneading and shaping bread dough. I love watching how the dough grows and browns in the oven. I love the aroma of freshly baked bread. I love eating bread – even more so for whole-wheat bread.

Wholemeal Bread Loaf II

As I’m in my early years of bread making, I can tell you that in comparison to other more skilled and experienced bread bakers, I’ve tried just a small handful of methods – when there are gobs of methods for making good bread out there. The tangzhong (or water-roux) method (湯種法) has been one of my top choices. It works for me. My bread and buns made with tangzhong, if stored properly, normally stay soft for 3 days.

Aside from my favorite recipe for whole-wheat bread made via the tangzhong method, sometimes, I do love to give other recipes and methods a try.

I’m sure bread bakers who are into making East Asian-style rich bread would probably have heard of or even own the book “孟老師的100道麵包” (“100 Bread Recipes by Madam Meng”). And I’m sure many of these bakers have also tried the whole-wheat bread recipe from the book, including Happy Homebaker, Aimei and Grace F.

Image courtesy of 王朝網路
(Sorry, folks! I can’t remember the others. Why? Because I read all these blog posts on this particular recipe back in 2008! By the way, why the rich bread East Asian? I’d spent 32 months in the States, and can assure you that this kind of rich bread is only popular in most parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as in the clusters of East Asian communities formed across the U.S. and Canada. Think of the Chinatown bakeries there.)

Madam Meng’s recipe instructs you to make bread via the sponge method (中種). The whole-wheat sponge is tacky to touch. Overall, it's still rather easy to handle.

Wholemeal Bread Loaf II

Just like the one made with tangzhong, the whole-wheat bread produced by Madam Meng’s recipe comes out just as fantastic! The bread has just the right softness to be considered truly whole-wheat and home-made. And, the qualities stay for about 3 days. The moment I had my first slice of this whole-wheat loaf, her recipe shot straight up the list to become a favorite of mine after the tangzhong whole-wheat bread recipe.

Besides this recipe, I still have many other areas in bread making that I’d love to delve into, including European artisan breads and some other American classics. Lately, I saw a funny obsession in me for books on artisan bread making (and traditional Malaysian cooking). I was over the moon when I received a copy of “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. Definitely a very sweet gesture from a lovely friend. (Hey! If you’re reading this, thank you!)

Image courtesy of goodreads
Bread making is a sensual pleasure without vice. If you prefer soft bread that has a slight chew to it due to the presence of fiber, this is the recipe! Many fellow bloggers – and now, me – have affirmed that this recipe is an absolute keeper. Hope you get to try it!

Wholemeal Bread Loaf II

Whole-Wheat Bread 全麥土司
Adapted from “100 Bread Recipes by Madam Meng,” by Zhaoqing Meng   改自《孟老師的100道麵包》。孟兆慶著
Makes one 20 cm (L) x 11 cm (W) x 11 cm (H) loaf

* I'm posting this recipe almost word for word from the book. The reason being that you may have success with the dough rising almost to or over the rim of the loaf pan by following the original recipe. In contrast, I've never had successful attempts at making a square loaf or getting an over-the-rim height for a loaf with any original recipe. I wish the same will never happen to you. *

120 g whole-wheat flour
85 g bread flour
1 Tbsp wheat bran
* I either replace this with oat bran or quick oats, or totally omit this. *
4 g instant yeast
130 g water — at room temperature will do

85 g bread flour
15 g granulated sugar
* I sometimes use brown sugar. *
1 tsp salt
10 g powdered milk
50 g water — at room temperature will do

15 g cold unsalted butter — cut into smaller cubes
  1. For the sponge (中種): place (A) into a large mixing bowl and mix together till a dough forms. Then, cover the mixing bowl with a sheet of cling wrap and set aside to proof for 90 minutes.
  2. After proofing the sponge for 90 minutes, knead in (B) thoroughly. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead till gluten has developed. Then, knead in the cold cubed butter till incorporated. Knead the dough further till it’s elastic and has reached the windowpane stage – i.e. a thin "membrane" can be formed by slowly, gently pulling the dough out towards opposite directions.
  3. Round the dough up and place it into a greased bowl; cover and let it proof till it's doubled in size. To know whether it's doubled in size, dip your finger in some bread or plain flour and gently, slowly poke into the dough--of course, don't puncture it! If an indentation remains at where you poked your finger in, this means proofing is sufficient; otherwise, if that spot bounces back, let it proof further till the dough is double in size.
  4. On a lightly floured counter, deflate and divide the dough into three equal portions. Next, round them up and cover with cling wrap to let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. To each portion of the dough, with a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten up and roughly roll out into an olive-like oval or a rectangular shape (about 10 cm in width and 20 cm in length). Next, roll it up tightly from the shorter ends – like how you’d do for a roulade; pinch the seams to seal the dough tightly. It might be slightly challenging to shape whole-wheat bread dough. Lightly dust your hands with flour, if and as necessary.
  6. Arrange the shaped dough in a greased 20 cm (L) x 11 cm (W) x 11 cm (H) Pullman loaf pan starting from the center – till the pan has been filled up – leaving some room in between them for expansion. Whole-wheat bread dough doesn't rise as much as plain white bread dough does. Plus, I actually never follow any bread loaf recipe verbatim. When I'm aiming for a square or any super tall loaf that can actually rise almost to or over the rim of the loaf pan, I always ensure the dough placed into the loaf pan actually has:
    •  1/3 or a little over 1/3 the height of the loaf pan, for a square loaf;
    •  at least 1/2 the height of the loaf pan, for a bread loaf that has "humps" (i.e. its height is taller than the height of the loaf pan). It should look something like this:
    Weekend Project #4: Braided Banana-Oatmeal Tangzhong Bread Loaf 香蕉燕麥湯種土司
    Just so you wonder, I’ve not blogged about this loaf. And, I still have gobs of bread recipes in my piles of backlogs. (Hahaha!)
  7. Cover the Pullman loaf pan with cling wrap and let the dough proof till it's taken 90 percent of the overall capacity of the loaf pan. (If you want a square loaf, cover the pan –leaving 4 to 5 cm of "hole" for you to peek in – with the lid that comes with the Pullman loaf pan before the second round of proofing – it should be right underneath the piece of cling wrap.)
  8. For those who want a square loaf, slide the lid to cover the loaf pan completely. For those who don't plan on using the lid to make a square loaf, you can brush the loaf with some slightly beaten egg if you want a glossy finish to the bread.
  9. Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes or till the bread is golden brown and cooked through.
  10. Remove from the oven and immediately unmold the bread from the loaf pan. Transfer the bread to wire rack to let cool completely. Slice to serve and/or store airtight once the bread is cooled.


Passionate About Baking said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
Yes, I recalled you love breads like me too! I would love wholemeal bread too! Your bread making is really very professional!I don't have these two bread books that you have, maybe it's time to wish for them as X'mas presents! Hahaha...

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

A delightful blog u have here filled with deliciousness!

Tiffany Yang said...

Only looking at the pictures makes me hungry! yum yum

Angie's Recipes said...

Two perfect loaves (although you didn't blog about the other. :-))) Wholewheat pullman is really great for the sandwiches and toast.

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

Even if you don't get to use the kitchen, I bet you can still blog til next year, by the rate that you are going. hahaha!!

Wait ah, gimme 3 more months, and I'll be making tons of bread to flood my blog, hahaha!!

crustabakes said...

I hope to see future posts on the new book! I can totally relate on how soft breads are only popular in east asia. The angmohs dont really like it do they? :p

Jess @ Bakericious said...

Pei Lin, I am trying to introduce wholemeal bread to my family but not successful, end up there will be 2 types of bread on my breakfast table, white and brown, my inlaws just dislike brown bread :( My daughter if given a choice, of course she will choose white over brown too haiz....

Jo said...

Pei-Lin, you never cease to surprise me. The loaves look gorgeous, especially the last one. When I first started I used to knead by hand, although tiring it was kind of relaxing to feel the dough working between my palms and fingers. Since I got my KA, I started to get lazy and let my machine do the work. Haha but heh I still get to shape it, if that counts at all.

jess @ j3ss kitch3n said...

beautiful loaf of bread! where can i get this wonderful book of urs!! i've been searching high and low for this. but then thinking again i wouldn't be able to bake any bread from the book as i couldn't really read taiwanese chinese wordings hehe.

Little Inbox said...

The loaf looks really soft and QQ. Very nice!

faithy, the baker said...

Looks wonderful! Makes me crave for them! i love anything bread..but i have to stop myself from eating too much cos i'm a carbo addict..lol! Once i start, i don't stop...LOL! I need a well balance diet..lol!..ie, less chocolate less sugar, less carbs..LOL!

babe_kl said...

wahh your loaves looked perfect. i loved the smell of freshly baked bread :p

Meldylocks and Her Three Bears said...

Yoh...! Your breads are soooo nice!! The whole loaf looks perfect and the texture looks soft and fluffy!

pigpigscorner said...

I tried tangzhong method over the weekend and failed =( The bread was so stodgy. I have to try again.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Pei Lin, this is so Pro! I have one last minute resolution for this year - make bread before the year ends!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei-Lin,

What a delicious looking loaf!!! I must try this for my dad.. he's into whole wheat now due to his health - doesn't touch the white breads anymore! Sure looks soft and yummy!

Thank you so much for sharing the recipe - I do wish I could read Chineses though then I could look up more recipes that are in Chinese.
Happy baking and all my best!

LeeYong rolfmester@yahoo.com

Kitchen Corner said...

Hi Pei Lin,
I tried this recipe before but sometimes it works nicely sometimes didn't :( Yours looks absolutely good!

zmm said...

A beautiful loaf.
Btw, do you knead the bread with your hand?

I bought almost all Meng Lao-shi's book except this one.

Swee San said...

take care n get well soon!

Deeba PAB said...

Now that's a gorgeous looking bread. I am intrigued, and have to say WOW at the neat slices. Will wait for the next one too... awesome!

Hearty Bakes said...

very beautiful rosen loaf Pei-Lin! Love the neat slices. i happened to try tangzhong on my latest post too. Next challenge will be using pullman tin and bake a loaf under you inspiration ;)

Medifast Coupon Codes said...

Bread baking is a real art form, not everyone can bake bread. I know I don't have the gift but sure love trying. I find the beauty of baking bread is so relaxing.

Su-yin said...

I cannot even begin to describe how much I love the sponge/dough method of making bread and buns, have rarely not used this method since I discovered it. It's just amazing how good the texture is. Having said that, I still have yet to try the tangzhong method (I blame my laziness to wash an extra pot, lol).

This looks great, will have to try out the recipe one day.

p.s. I just bought one of Alex Goh's bread books, will have to try out the recipes soon!

Allie said...

Hey Pei Lin,

Your breads look so yummy! They are like calling out to me to make them...haha. I've been wanting to make breads for the longest time but haven't tried them yet. Can you introduce a very simple recipe for me to get started?

Thanks! :)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and for the encouraging words! =)

@Jane: Yea, I remember you being a bread and whole-wheat person too! No lar ... I'm barely a novice. There are definitely people who are WAY better than I'm. Still, I'm happy to be a simple home baker. Yeap, you ought to get these books on the two different worlds of bread making, if you're really nuts about bread making. You're already anticipating X'mas!!!

@Sugar.Plum.Fairy, Tiffany, Angie, Siew Lay, babe_KL, Melody: Thank you! =)

@Wendy: Erm, I don't just live in the blogging world, OK? So, I wanna take everything here slowly, at my own pace ... so that I can enjoy writing like I always do. Career is still important to me, ya know? Can finish so much bread in a short time!? Btw, I've already started cooking again ... not yet baking though. Hahaha! Check out my Flickr. =P

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and for the encouraging words! =)

@crustabakes: Haha! Don't overrate and overestimate me! I'm still taking my sweet time reading my new books! East and West are definitely the opposite of each other!

@Jess L.: At least your girl is not as picky as your in-laws ... Hehehe ... Be proud of her lar ... Not bad already for a little child.

@Jo: I still love to knead my bread dough manually because I usually make a big batch. Machines can't handle a big blob of dough! Nah, you aren't lazy ... You're utilizing the best of what technology has to offer. Hehehe ... Shaping of course counts! And you've overrated me. =P

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and for the encouraging words! =)

@Jess H.: You mean Meng's book? It's available in Kinokuniya and other bookstores locally I suppose because I myself have seen it in the bookstores in KL. But, my copy was brought back from Taipei by my cousin. You mean you can't read traditional Chinese characters? Can lar ... You're kidding me ...

@Faithy: I'm a carbo addict, too ... So, need self-control and discipline. LOL! Nope, you're taking lots of desserts in the meantime. HAHA!

@Ann: Hey! Lemme know how it turns out yea? Keep it up!!

@Shirley: Haha! Alright, I shall wait for your bread to be served ... I'll be your first taste tester. =)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and for the encouraging words! =)

@LeeYong: Yea, whole-wheat bread is definitely a better choice than white one. That's why I'm eating more of it, too. No worries, there are plenty of us out there who can translate good recipes, which are originally in Chinese, for others to English. It's about sharing good stuff! Hope your bread will turn out great! Keep me posted on that! Your words mean a lot to me. Thank you!! Happy baking, too!

@Grace: Har? Why ar? Yours looks good wor ...

@zmm: Hey! I only knead bread dough by hands, manually, because I always make a big batch. (Make more to freeze. You're not gonna regret. Be rewarded with good ol' home-made bread in no time when you freeze your bread.) Ha! There are seven books in that series. I already have four: breads, cookies, Chinese pastries, and roulades. I'm not planning on getting the ones on mini cakes and coffee break snacks. Meng's books definitely rock! No regret getting them; good investment!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and for the encouraging words! =)

@Swee San: THANK YOU, buddy! I will. Health is something money can't buy. =)

@Deeba: Haha! I'm a pretty sloppy baker actually. You've overrated me.

@Jessie: I shall visit you over on your site soon. Alright, I shall wait for your Pullman loaf. Tangzhong method rocks! =)

@Medifast Coupon Codes: Yea, bread baking is relaxing and rewarding!! That's why I'm a sucker for it! Nah, I'm sure you can! If one puts in his/her full efforts and heart into something, nothing is impossible. I know you can!!! =)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and for the encouraging words! =)

@Su-yin: Yes, sponge and tangzhong methods are my top faves now! HAHA! Who loves doing too much dishes! K, shall wait for your bread. Oh, which book did you get? I only have his "The World of Bread" ... no "Magic Bread" ... But, I've tried his scalded/gelatinized dough method ... Yet to blog about it only. HAHA! Both of us sure have gobs of backlogs. LOL! If you're coming back to Malaysia, you've gotta lemme know!

@Allie: Hmmm ... Lemme think ... Actually, I hardly bake via the direct method anymore ever since I discovered tangzhong and sponge. The latter two make a HUGE differences to your bread. Now, I'm busy and tired. I will email you the recipe when I have a minute ... I promise I won't take too long to do that. But I need your email address. You mind giving me that? Happy baking, Macaron Master! ;)

edith said...

Your loaf is so nicely done. I wish you were my neighbour and can show me how you knead it. My kids were love you to bits too coz they love breads as well.

Honey Bee Sweets said...

I have to agree with the many ladies how lovely your 2 loves of bread turned out. :))the way the slices flop down over the other shows how soft it is! You know nowadays I only eat wholewheat bread but occasionally made a few special versions just to try out. Although I own Mdn Meng's book too, I believe I have not tried this recipe. Since hearing your recommendations, perhaps I should take a 2nd look at it....funny leh...considering I just bought Yovnne C. Tang Zhong book,lol! Anyway, you have a good break over this long weekend my friend. :)

Anh said...

So glad to discover your blog :)

Aimei said...

I agree that recipe is a keeper! I have not tried many types of wholemeal recipes yet but this is good. :) By the way, I don't oftem get a square loaf as well. I often wonder why... The best and most squarish (is there such a word? :P) is Happy Homebaker's milk loaf. It's a perfect square. Have you tried that recipe? Maybe you can give it a try. It is more of a sweet bread recipe. Rich and very milky taste ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,

Yes. I am here too. I just posted you something in the tau sar piah section. Just wanted to let you know that I have Peter Reinhart's 3books on bread including the BBA that you showed. That is how I started my first initiaion into breadmaking - by reading his books page by page. My only comment is that his bread is not as soft as the ones we Asians like. My parents say that the bread I made from the BBA hurt their jaws because of all the chewing. His bread tend to harden by the next day or so. I will definitley have to try yuor bread as weel as the TZ method that I have read so much about. Was just wondering on the pullman bread tin. Do you have to bake it longer when you cover it. How do you tell if its done? I have always used a thermometer to check inner temp to know when to take my bread out....just as how Reinhart said in his book.


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry for the late reply! Thanks for the nice words! Now, am gonna quickly write to you guys and off I go to work!

@Edith: Haha! I wish we are neighbors, too. That would be fun! Erm ... We're of different nationalities leh ... Haha!

@Bee Bee: You should start utilizing the two books!!! They're darn good! Best books ever on Asian-style soft bread. =)

@Anh: You bet!!! You've got a wonderful blog, too, which I'd discovered long ago. Just that I barely have time to blog-hop anymore nowadays. =)

@Aimei: LOL! It took me trials and errors to finally get a square loaf ... Hey! Sometimes, the dough in the Pullman loaf pan gets too big that the pan can't accommodate it ... The dough expands out of the covered pan! LOL! So, after baking, I have to "cheat" by giving the loaf some "trimming" done. Oh, I definitely remember that! HHB caused a Hokkaido milky loaf craze, after Florence, in the blogosphere back then. But, it's white bread. I'm not too inclined to bake it. =( ... Thanks for the advice and recommendations, though! =)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Dear OM,

Oh, I've got two of Reinhart's books: "Artisan Breads Every Day" and "The Bread Baker's Apprentice." Haha! Well, I've already tried out a recipe from ABED: wild rice and onion bread. You can check out the pics of that bread of mine I just told you on my Flickr.


What I found out was the bread turned dry faster than our Asian bread, like what you shared with me. Gave me quite a workout when eating the bread. Actually, I don't mind it. The best thing, though, I believe is its complex flavors! The flavors can't be replicated in my Asian bread, if the bread isn't proofed via low-fermentation method for more than 12 hours. (I did mine 23 hours in the fridge this time.) Haha! I know lar ... Most Asians only care about soft, melt-in-your-mouth bread that I don't really care much as it's not too good for us. No fiber! All sugars that can be broken down easily! Not good ... just like eating white rice instead of brown rice.

Nope. For Asian bread, the baking time is the same. I learned from Yvonne Chen that the bread is done when it doesn't stick to the pan anymore. You remember the tapping test? I do that, too. But nowadays, I just gauge by my eyes. The color of the bread often is an indicator, too. Haha! I don't have that kind of thermometer. Not that fully equipped lar ... Haha!

Hey, I really am happy to have a reader and feedback provider like you!! Honestly, you rock!! Been awfully busy and tired. Will reply to your tau sar beng comment after work. Take care!


Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,

Just wanted to let you know that I made your madam Meng's bread and you are right. Its soft and I like the saltiness in it. Not too sweet and very little use of butter which is good. Now, all I have to do is to give the TZ method a try to compare. Maybe this weekend.


Sally said...

Hi Pei-Lin,

I can't find wholemeal flour here in Sandakan, Sabah. Can i replace with wholemeal bran? This is what i could find. Please advise. I couldn't wait to try.


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, Sally! Greetings from KL!

No, I wouldn't replace whole-wheat flour with whole-wheat bran. They are different things.

Thanks for popping by! Happy baking and Merry X'mas!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Can’t wait to read the next ones :)

Pei-Lin said...

Thank you, both Anonymouses! I'm not sure when my next post on bread will be, though ... LOL!

Have a gorgeous day!

Anonymous said...

I love all of your offerings. I am new to the Tangzhong method, and plan to use all your words of advice in my new journey. I do have a question though. I have been using a homemade whole wheat sourdough starter for most of my bread recipes. Is it possible to use a sourdough starter in place of dry yeast when using the Tangzhong method? I can imagine that it would give any bread more depth of flavor along with the tenderness benefit of Tangzhong. Thank you and look forward to rummaging through your wealth of knowledge!

Pei-Lin said...

Hello, Anonymous!

Thank you so much for the encouraging words and for dropping by! You've made my day. =)

Yes, of course you can incorporate your homemade whole-wheat sourdough starter to many tangzhong bread recipes (when to will have to depend on the flavor of the bread that you're going to make: savory or sweet?). Tangzhong won't kill the yeast in the sourdough starter.

Oh, how I envy you that you can make and have been incorporating sourdough into your bread! My stay in America has made me realize how I love sourdough pizza and sourdough bread for sandwich. Too bad, I have no time and am now not motivated enough to prepare my own sourdough starter, even though I have a copy of Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day" and "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" for the longest.

Again, thank you so much for the encouragement you've given here! May you have a good one!

-- Pei-Lin

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