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.
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|
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.
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|
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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!)
- 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.)
- 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.
- Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes or till the bread is golden brown and cooked through.
- 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.