Monday, December 10, 2007
A stab at bread
About three weeks ago, I made my first stab at bread outside of pizza dough. It was also the first real bread I made that wasn't an inedible brick. And all the better that it was cinnamon swirl bread. It was so good, I made the recipe twice more.
The original recipe called for 8 cups of flour - something impossible to do in the average Hong Kong kitchen. Cutting it down to a manageable 2 or 3 cups required some tricky math and futzing around with the measurements: I need a little more water to proof the yeast, so a little less milk to balance it out? And I can't do 66.6% of an egg. Throw the whole egg in, and use a little more flour? I'm not really sure if I did the right thing, as the science of baking is a complete mystery to me. I also have little idea whether my substitution of ordinary plain flour for bread flour (the latter being expensive in Hong Kong), and vegetable oil for butter (trying to avoid saturated fats) made any real difference. The recipe also called for scalded milk. I don't know why this would be different from unboiled milk. Oh well, just do what it says.
But it did rise, it wasn't rock hard, and it tasted pretty good. The loaf just looks rather flat in the photo because my baking tin was too large. I knew a guy in college who routinely made bread without the benefit of a recipe. He just threw things together until they kneaded up roughly at the right consistency. It worked.
The first attempt was a bit thin on the filling. It said to just sprinkle a lot of cinnamon sugar and a few drops of water on the rolled-out dough and roll it up. I guess I didn't use enough.
The next time, I over-compensated by adding raisins, little chunks of apple, and apple sauce (which I have to make myself - you can't buy it here except in ridiculously tiny baby food jars), but there must have been too much moisture because the bread came out a bit doughy.
The third time, I eliminated the apple and apple products, used a lot more cinnamon sugar, and kept the raisins. And the imaginary Goldilocks looking over my shoulder, that picky picky girl, smiled in satisfaction.