Thursday, January 19, 2012

tangzhong style bread, wishful thinking and bread baking day #46

it has been way too long since i participated in a bread baking day challenge.  each month, a host is selected and a theme is announced.  this month, the challenge is being hosted by noor of ya salam cooking and when i read it, i couldn't wait to bake a loaf of bread.  i know, what a party animal; she bakes bread for fun.  no really, i am but the theme for this month is to bake a loaf of bread from a place you would like to visit.  so if you want to go to france, bake a croissant.  if you want to go to italy, bake a loaf of pannetone.  you get the idea, i know you do.  so did i and i finally had a reason to try the recipe i had bookmarked for tangzhong bread.  tang-what?  it is the most unusual bread technique i have encountered and it comes from a place i hope to visit some day; china.  the technique is credited to a  chinese woman, yvonne chen, who wrote a book titled 65c bread doctor.  in this book the technique of making a "water roux" starter is demonstrated.  while the technique is attributed to the chinese, it is apparently very popular in japan too.  so either way, my bread is a nod to a place i would like to visit, and if somebody wants to buy me a ticket, i'll go to either china or japan, i'm not that picky!

i discovered the technique by accident.  i was trying to find a conversion table for ingredients so that i could convert a recipe in ounces to grams when i stumbled upon the website christens recipes.  while looking at some of her recipes, i found the tangzhong recipes and bookmarked the page for a day when i had the time to test the recipe.  for all of you that know me, you know that i can bake-i do it for a living but bread is not my specialty and as much as i have worked with bread, it still intimidates me.  well, after making two loaves with this technique, i may not ever be scared again!

 my first batch of tanzhong bread, hokkaido milk bread using the recipe 
found on kirbie cravings

 my second batch was a multi grain loaf from une-deux senses

 look at the beautiful crumb of this bread!  so light and moist and easy to slice.  wait until the next day and you will get picture perfect slices-no one will believe you made this at home!  the best part, no chemicals, no stabilizers or conditioners and nothing artificial!  the extra boost in moisture from the tangzhong helps to keep the bread fresh.  the only thing i would suggest, if you do not like your bread to taste sweet, cut the sugar.  for the multi grain loaf, i reduced it from 3 tablespoons to 2 and i like it much better than the white loaf.  the white loaf is still very good, just not my first choice for a savory sandwich but i bet it would make great french toast!

the two loaves side by side.  i will make this again and i hope to find the book someday-reading it will be a challenge though...

since there are several important steps to take when making this style of bread, i am not printing the recipes here but rather including the links to the websites i used.  on all of these pages, you will find valuable information along with detailed step by step photos that would do so much better than anything i could post here so i encourage you to use these sites and make a batch of wonderful bread!

kirbie cravings-milk bread
une deux sens├ęs-multi grain bread
christine's recipes-bacon and cheese bread
65c bread doctor by yvonne chen

a big thanks to noor for such a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.  feeling brave, bake a loaf and head over to ya salam cooking and join in on the fun!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

lemon-lime cheesecake muffins

 citrus fruits are at their peak during the dreary months of winter.   many desserts made around this time of year are flavored with lemons, limes and oranges.  but there is something comforting about cheesecakes and pairing it with lemons and limes makes these little muffins an irresistible treat.

quick and easy to mix up, you will have many little treats in no time.  i doubled the recipe and you can too if you want more than a dozen.

 fresh from the oven.  the topping sinks during the baking and creates a pocket of rich citrusy cheesecake filling

 remove them from the pan after 10 minutes or they will be soggy on the bottom.

now brew a cup of tea or coffee and indulge!  this is my entry into the contest of the week and you can use my original recipe by viewing it here.  and if you do, send me a photo, i will post it here!

Monday, January 9, 2012

reliving my childhood

hard to believe it is already the second week of january.  i had hoped to post this sooner but my life got in the way!  when i was growing up, we would go to my uncles on christmas day every year.  all of the family would gather for an informal dinner followed by dessert and then presents.  the best part of that celebration were the cookies that my aunt and uncle would make for us.  one of my favorites was always the wheat cookies.  a rolled sugar cookie with whole wheat flour, they were very simply decorated with just a piece of glaceed cherry.  so simple yet so memorable.  this year, i made a batch with my younger daughter-i rolled and cut, she applied the cherries.

 the original recipe, my mother says it is in my uncle's handwriting and that she added the note not to use butter.  heed the warning-i tried and it ended up in the trash!  i would also recommend leaving out 1-2 tablespoons of each of the flours and adding them only if needed.  mine didn't need them and rolled out nicely.

apply the cherries before baking and they will be attached to the cookies, just be sure to blot them if they are wet with syrup or it will leave dark brown splotches on the top of the cookie.

Friday, January 6, 2012

anadama bread with walnuts and sage

since the 52 week pie challenge ended, i have been asked what i will do next on this page.  now that the holiday season has ended, i can give that some thought.  my plan?  not much actually.  i am going to try and participate with the group that will be baking their way through the book baking with julia by dorie greenspan.  you may remember that the group was baking their way through dories book, baking: from my home to yours and posting every tuesday; they called themselves "tuesdays with dorie".  next month they plan to start baking with julia and dorie and since i have the book, i hope to join them.  in the mean time, i am bumbling around in the kitchen with cats underfoot and a husband hoping for treats.  i have also taken the time to explore other sites such as and this week, my post is a recipe that i entered into a contest on the site.

with a theme of walnut-sage, i knew it had to be bread.  right now, sage is one of the few herbs still available in my garden and with that in mind, i decided to make a batch of bread.  after searching, i settled on anadama bread and finally chose a recipe from peter reinharts book, the bread baker's apprentice.  there is a group that blogged their way through his book and this recipe was featured on the blog, brown eyed baker.  what i love about the recipe is all of the information that comes with it.  the bloggers also did a great job of posting lots of step by step photos so that i could look at several sites and see whether or not i was doing things correctly.  this recipe is also one that is easily manipulated and the few changes i made did not cause any trouble!

one of the first things i did was to pick a cornmeal.  sounds difficult doesn't it?  well if you are me and you have 4 different ones to choose from (not including the cornmeal masa) it can be.  my selection was brinsers best roasted yellow cornmeal.  it is a golden yellow color with a slightly toasted flavor.

to make the soaker, boiling water is added to the cornmeal and it is allowed to sit out overnight.  now you can see the color difference that the roasting adds, can you imagine the flavor?

the soaker is added to a sponge and this is allowed to age for an hour or two. 

fresh picked sage leaves from the garden

the sponge is now ready to be kneaded into bread

toasted walnuts added along with the sage

ten minutes of kneading and now we wait...90 minutes later, loaves are ready to proof!


looks wonderful and it made fantastic blt's!  we used a recipe for tempeh bacon from happy healthy life, picked some lettuce and arugula from the hoop garden and made blt's with avocado.  let's just say that dinner was fabulous!  as a cookbook author, i understand the need for people to buy books so i will not post the recipe again here but you can look at it on the brown eyed baker's blog or read my version here.

and just because i am done with pies doesn't mean i don't want to hear from you!  make it and send me a photo, i will post it here!!!