Hokkaido Milk Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

Taking full advantage of my new bread pan and what I’m calling “The Instagram Bowl”.

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I have made bread using the asian tangzhong (water roux/starter) method before, but according to this new recipe source I’m following, there are apparently different types of tangzhong depending on the Chinese character you use. In the previous case, I used 汤种/湯種, where the first character means soup (which was what the roux looked like). In this recipe however, I’m making 烫種/燙種 where the first character means scalding (which reflects the use of boiling hot water).

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In both cases, the key to creating the characteristic tear-able, stretchy crumb of the Hokkaido Milk Loaf is the unique shaping process of the dough, which involves rolling the dough into a spiral before baking it.

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If you’re wondering why there were 5 dough balls but only 4 in the pan, that’s because my pan was too small for the recipe (because I didn’t measure the pan before starting). No biggie, I just baked off the remaining lonely dough ball by itself while his brothers could all snuggle and rise together.

Also the top of my bread wasn’t smooth because it rose a bit too much and stuck to my lid as I was taking the lid off. But it all bakes out so it’s fiiiine.

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I couldn’t really compare both of the tangzhong methods because the previous recipes I used the 汤种 version in was not shaped the same way. But anyhow this method generates better flavour due to its overnight rest and also had a very tender crumb, so I might stick to this new tangzhong method in the future.

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Did I mention that this recipe was 20% whole wheat? That’s healthy. I ruined that by adding loads of sugar and cinnamon as a filling.

I got the recipe from here and added some cinnamon because it’s FALL.

Ingredients (for 11x4x4 inch/28x10x10 cm) loaf pan

Tangzhong

  • 125g whole wheat flour
  • 100g water

Bread

  • 280g full fat milk
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 15g honey
  • 20g sugar
  • 410g bread flour
  • 8g sweetened condensed milk
  • 10g salt
  • 40g softened unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Cinnamon-sugar mix. I didn’t really measure what I used but I usually keep to the ratio of about 1tbsp ground cinnamon with 50g sugar.

Method

Tangzhong (starter, prepare the night before baking)

  1. Place the whole wheat flour in a large bowl.
  2. Boil some water, and pour 100g of the water into the bowl.
  3. Mix with a large spoon until well mixed. When cool enough to touch, knead the tangzhong well until all the flour is well incorporated and the dough ball is smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bread

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, yeast, honey, sugar, bread flour, sweetened condensed milk, and tangzhong. Knead well until smooth.
  2. Add the salt. Knead until the salt is well incorporated.
  3. Add the softened butter and knead until the bread reaches windowpane stage.
  4. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, knock down the dough and reform it into a ball. Leave to rise again for about 30 mins, or until the dough has risen slightly in size.
  6. Divide the dough into 5 pieces (using a weighing scale could help). Form each piece into a ball, cover, and let rise for another 15-20 mins or until the balls have slightly increased in size.
  7. Roll each ball out into a rectangle about the width of your pan. Cover the surface with the cinnamon-sugar mix. Roll up the rectangle from the short end, and place the rolled-up dough into one side of an oiled pan.
  8. Repeat step 7 with the rest of the dough balls until the pan is filled with a single layer of rolled-up dough.
  9. Cover the pan and let rise. If you’re planning on keeping the bread a square shape, let it rise until the dough is about 85% the height of the pan. If you’re planning on the bread to have a domed top (like I did), let the dough rise to about 90% the height of the pan.
  10. Bake in a preheated 390°F/200°C oven and bake for about 30 mins or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap on the top of the bread. If the bread is browning too quickly, cover the bread with a large sheet of aluminium foil.
  11. When the bread is done, remove immediately from bread pan and let cool on drying rack. Let the bread cool completely before cutting.

Notes

  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature.
  • If you’re using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, you might have to activate the yeast first. Warm up the milk that was supposed to go into the bread till it’s about body temperature, and then add the yeast into the milk. When the mixture is foamy (about 5-10 mins later), add the yeast-milk back into the bread at the step where the milk is supposed to be added.
  • Kneading the butter into the dough after it’s already been formed helps with the structure of the bread, since butter inhibits gluten formation (apparently).
  • Letting the tangzhong sit overnight is technically optional, but it gives a much better flavour if you allow the tangzhong to rest.
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Pumpkin Sourdough

Pumpkin season never ends.

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It just snowed in Minnesota last weekend, IN THE MIDDLE OF FALL, which is just depressing, really. In an attempt to stay in the fall mood, I’ve just been baking everything pumpkin and pumpkin spice, which leads me to this guy here.

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The easiest way to cook a pumpkin is just to cut the pumpkin into wedges,  de-seed the pumpkin, microwave it, then scoop the flesh from the pumpkin. I suppose you could theoretically get more flavour if you roasted the pumpkin instead, but I was just too lazy for that ok.

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Since the pumpkin doesn’t contain gluten it was difficult to add the right amount of pumpkin such that the dough was easy to work with but still contained the pumpkin flavour. The proportions I used below was enough to give a strong colour to the boule, but was not quite enough that the bread tasted like pumpkin. More of a subtle flavour.

The pumpkin somehow managed to make the bread smell amazing though.

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I based the recipe off my previous sweet potato sourdough recipe, and used the method in my toasted millet sourdough recipe just because I think it gives a more flavourful bread. I just increased the baking time a little.

Ingredients

  • 135g sourdough starter (mine was at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 80g wholemeal flour
  • 452g strong white flour
  • 400g water
  • 225g cooked pumpkin flesh
  • 13g salt

Method

The dough (the day before baking)

  1. Mix the flours and the water. Cover and let the dough autolyse (see notes) for about 2h.
  2. Then, add the starter to the dough and mix using the pincer and fold method. Leave for another 30 mins.
  3. Stretch and fold your dough. Leave for 30 mins.
  4. Add the cooked pumpkin flesh and salt to the dough. Mix using the pincer and fold method.
  5. Stretch and fold your dough an additional three times, leaving 30 mins before each stretch and fold.
  6. Cover and let the dough rise for an additional 6 hours.
  7. Shape the dough and transfer to a well-floured banneton.
  8. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Bake the bread

  1. Take the banneton out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for about an hour. Meanwhile, place your dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 260°C.
  2. After the hour, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Take the dutch oven out of the oven. Carefully place the dough into the dutch oven, and score the dough. Cover and return the dutch oven to the oven.
  3. Bake the bread at 260°C for 30 mins with the lid of the dutch oven on.
  4. After 30 mins, take the lid off and reduce the temperature of the oven to 230°C. Bake for an additional 15 mins.
  5. Remove the dutch oven from the oven, and transfer the bread to a cooling rack.
  6. Let the bread cool for at least 1h before cutting.

Notes

  • You could use pumpkin from a can I guess, but I’ve always thought canned pumpkin smelt a bit weird.
  • My starter was at 100% hydration. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • Autolysing just means letting your flour sit with the water before you add any salt or yeast. This is supposed to make the bread easier to handle and have better structure and taste since the flour absorbs the water or something. More here.
  • Turning and folding means you don’t knead the dough. It’s just an alternative method to build structure in the dough usually used for higher hydration sourdoughs, but it can be used for any bread really. Up to your personal preference.
  • Scoring helps direct the shape your bread will rise when baked. And it looks pretty.
  • If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can try baking it like I used to, for example in this recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Macarons with Pumpkin Cookie Frosting

Fully embracing the pumpkin spice life.

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I don’t know why my macarons look so desaturated here.

One of the trials by fire for a new oven is to make macarons. You get to know your oven intimately – if the oven has hot spots, if the oven is hotter or cooler than the stated temperature, if the oven just straight out hates you…

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I used my new go-to recipe for macarons which I also used in my caramalised honey and osmanthus macarons. Just a solid, consistent French-meringue-style macaron recipe.

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For the filling I adapted Cristina Tosi’s graham biscuit frosting recipe but used Trader Joe’s pumpkin Joe Joes instead, and also threw in some pumpkin butter for some extra fall flavour. I really like this frosting recipe as it gives a flavourful frosting that’s easily customisable with the choice of your biscuit, and also holds up well at room temperature without being too sweet.

Ingredients

Macaron

  • 115g almond flour
  • 230g powdered sugar
  • 144g egg whites
  • 72g sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2g salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • Food colouring (I used a mix of orange and brown)

Pumpkin Cookie Frosting

  • 80g crushed Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe Joes (biscuit only, creme removed)
  • 10g milk powder
  • 15g white sugar
  • 115g butter (85g+30g)
  • 30ml pouring cream/heavy cream
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 tsp Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Macaron

  1. Process almond flour until fine (this step might be optional if your almond flour is fine enough) and sift. Combine with sifted powdered sugar and pumpkin spice.
  2. Combine egg whites and beat until bubbly. Gradually incorporate sugar, vanilla, salt, and food colouring while beating. Whip until stiff.
  3. Dump in dry ingredients at once and fold until the macaron batter flows like lava.
  4. Pipe the batter onto baking paper placed on a baking tray to form 1 inch rounds. You might want to print a template out underneath if, like me, you can’t estimate sizes.
  5. Drop the baking tray from a couple of inches in the air onto the counter to burst air bubbles in the macaron rounds.
  6. Let dry for 30mins, or until the macaron rounds are dry to the touch.
  7. Bake at 150°C for 18 mins, or until you can cleanly peel the baking paper away from the macarons.
  8. Cool on pan before removing.

Pumpkin Cookie Frosting

  1. Toss biscuit crumbs, milk powder, sugar together.
  2. Melt 30g butter and whisk into cream.
  3. Add the butter/cream to the dry ingredients and toss until clusters form.
  4. Transfer to food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 85g butter, light brown sugar, icing sugar, pumpkin spice, pumpkin butter, and salt until fluffy. Scrape down, then with mixer on low speed, add the crumb mixture and beat until the frosting lightens in colour.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to use, let warm to room temperature when ready to use.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you just swap out the biscuit for a biscuit of your choice. I’ve used this recipe with other biscuits before and it’s pretty forgiving, just adjust with butter or icing sugar if the consistency is wrong (the former if the frosting is too stiff, the latter if the frosting is too runny). Also consider the temperature of the frosting. If you live in a warm country, you might want to refrigerate the frosting until it is a pipeable consistency.
  • The source I got the macaron recipe from claims that she didn’t have to let the macarons dry before baking, but I have never succeeded in getting a good batch of macarons without letting them dry first. They just end up cracking with no feet. So I’d really recommend letting them dry before baking. If you live in a humid country (like me when I was in Singapore) you could try being in an air conditioned room with a dehumidifier to speed up the drying.
  • Processing your almond flour helps keep your macaron shells smooth. I find that even the almond flour that’s sold as “fine almond flour” isn’t quite fine enough for macarons, but that could be dependent on brand. Large chunks of almonds could also cause your shells to crack. But yeah I didn’t have a sieve with a fine enough mesh in my current kitchen so the shells ended up a bit bumpy anyway.
  • I always thought that macarons tasted better after a night in the fridge once it’s filled. The shells absorb a bit of the moisture and flavour from the buttercream which makes the whole thing taste better and have a chewier texture. But they taste fine on the day as well.

Dutch Apple Pie (Appeltaart)

Vouched for by an actual Dutch person.

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A bunch of my friends came over to bake with me, and one of them is Dutch as I’ve already hinted at like 25 words ago. Anyway, she said she wanted to make an appeltaart and I was all “What? Apple tart?” and she was all “Noooo appeltaart!” and pulled out pictures of what essentially looked like an apple pie baked in a cake tin.

Which is what it basically is.

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Fine, there are some subtle differences. The appeltaart’s dough is kind of sweeter and more streusel-y than normal (American) pie crust, and honestly this dough is the best damn pie dough I’ve ever tasted. So buttery. So crumbly. I’m going to use this pie dough for all my future pies.

Overall I prefer the sticky, caramel-y filling of American apple pies, so hopefully a hybrid of American apple pie filling with appeltaart’s pie crust will be coming up in my near future, especially with autumn’s apple cornucopia.

I got the recipe from here.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 100g granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 300g all purpose flour (2 1/3 cups)
  • 200g butter, diced (14 tbsp, ice cold)
  • 1 large egg + another large egg for the egg wash
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp cold water (30ml)

Filling

  • 5 large apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 70g raisins (1/2 cup)
  • 4 tbsp plain breadcrumbs/panko

Method

Crust

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add the diced butter and cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs (either by using a pastry cutter or rubbing the butter into the flour using your fingertips).
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and water, and use a fork to work the wet ingredients in.
  4. Lightly knead the mixture together into a single mass and wrap with clingfilm.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, until firm.

Filling

  1. Combine the apples, lemon, cinnamon, sugar, and raising in a bowl and toss to combine.

Assembly

  1. Coat a 8-9″ diameter springform pan with butter.
  2. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and divide into thirds.
  3. Roll the first third to a circle the diameter of the pan and fit it into the bottom.
  4. Roll the second third out into a rectangle the height of the springform pan. Line the inner sides of the pan to form the “walls” of the pie, and seal the sides and base well with your fingertips. Seal any holes with bits of leftover dough.
  5. Sprinkle the bottom of the pie with breadcrumbs. Pour the filling over the breadcrumbs.
  6. Roll the last third of the dough out and cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Arrange in a lattice pattern over the filling. Trim any overhangs and pinch the top with the walls of the crust to seal it.
  7. Beat an egg and brush the top of the pie with the egg to egg wash it.
  8. Bake in a preheated 175°C/350°F oven until you can see the filling bubbling up between the latticed strips and the crust is a deep golden brown.
  9. Let cool on a rack for 45 mins before running a knife around the outside of the crust and releasing the pie from the pan.

Notes

  • I had just enough dough for the pie, and I used an 8″ springform pan, so if you want to be on the safe side you might want to make 1.5x of the pie dough.
  • Try to work fast when working with the dough, as it’s easier to handle when cold.
  • The egg wash gives the pie a nice colour.
  • Ensuring that the butter remains cold when cutting it into the flour is essential in keeping the crust flaky. This is especially if you’re using your fingertips, which could melt the butter. So work fast (or do what I do and chill your hands painfully in ice water first).
  • Another way to keep the crust flaky is to not overwork the dough, or gluten will develop and the crust will become tough.
  • Baking time is an estimate, use visual cues listed instead to determine when to take the pie out of the oven.
  • I like to use a mix of red and green apples for my filling just so it tastes more interesting.

Sweet Potato Sourdough

When you think to yourself that normal bread just isn’t orange enough.

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This bread was a journey to bake. It starts off with baking off some sweet potatoes in the oven. Or rather baking it for 20 mins, then realising it’d cook faster in the microwave.

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This was the first sourdough I made after a 2 month break and woah was I out of touch.

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I didn’t flour the banneton well enough so the dough collapsed when I tried turning it out.

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So I tried saving it by placing it in my ratchet-ass “Dutch oven”… or basically my only oven-safe saucepan.

It worked quite well! It managed to rise despite the initial deflation. Like my spirits during the last examination. Unlike me after the examination however, the bread did not develop a crusty exterior. Probably because I forgot to heat up my “Dutch oven” first before putting the bread in it, and the lid was not tight at all so it couldn’t trap steam.

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There’s the crumb shot, don’t mind my hacking job with the knife. This dough was quite high hydration (although I have no idea how to calculate the percentages with sweet potato. Is sweet potato dry or wet?) so there’s quite large air bubbles. You could actually taste the sweet potato in the bread! Thought it made it a bit tastier.

I loosely based the recipe off this, but I used my own timings, and added some wholemeal flour. And mine was a sourdough. And I used orange sweet potato not purple sweet potato. The person who wrote the original recipe said her addition of purple sweet potato added a “faint and almost floral fragrance in the back-note” which is taking too much of an artistic liberty if you ask me. It just tastes like sweet potato, mate.

Ingredients

  • 135g sourdough starter (mine was at 100% hydration, see notes)
  • 80g wholemeal flour
  • 452g strong white flour
  • 400g water
  • 225g cooked sweet potato flesh (just microwave it it’s faster)
  • 13g salt

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix the sourdough starter, flours, and water. Cover with plastic wrap and let it autolyse (see notes) for 30 mins.
  2. After 30 mins, add the sweet potato flesh and salt. Mix using the pincer method.
  3. Stretch and fold your dough for about 5 mins or until the dough starts to develop some elasticity. Then stretch and fold 4 times over the next hour (every 15 mins).
  4. Cover the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight.
  5. In the morning, place the dough into your banneton (flour very well before use, this dough is quite sticky). Shape your dough by basically pulling the dough from the sides of the ball towards the center.
  6. Cover and let rise for about 2 hours or until slightly increased in size.
  7. If not using a Dutch oven (as I’d planned),
    • 15 mins before baking, preheat your oven to 260°C with a baking tray half-filled with water at the bottom of the oven to create a steam oven.
      Tip out your dough onto a lined baking tray.
    • Score your bread if you want with either a bread lame or the sharpest knife in your kitchen.
    • Place the bread in the steam oven. Mist the oven generously with a spray bottle to generate more steam.
    • Bake at 260°C for 30 mins. Then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for 20 mins or until done. Bread is done when it is well browned and when you tap it it sounds hollow
  8. If using a Dutch oven (as I sort of did),
    • 30 mins before baking, preheat your oven to 260°C and place a Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats.
    • When the dough is ready, tip out onto some baking paper. Use the baking paper to help carefully lower your dough into the Dutch oven. Score the bread if you want.
    • Cover and bake for 30 mins, then remove the lid and bake for about 15 mins.
  9. Let bread cool about 15 mins before cutting into it.

Notes

  • My starter was at 100% hydration. Basically means equal weight of flour and water. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous recipe on classic white sourdough.
  • Autolysing just means letting your flour sit with the water before you add any salt or yeast. This is supposed to make the bread easier to handle and have better structure and taste since the flour absorbs the water or something. More here.
  • Turning and folding means you don’t knead the dough. It’s just an alternative method to build structure in the dough usually used for higher hydration sourdoughs, but it can be used for any bread really. Up to your personal preference.
  • Scoring helps direct the shape your bread will rise when baked. And it looks pretty. But my sourdough was so collapsed from my banneton mishap that I didn’t want to score it.