Weekend Cooking: Making bread with the tangzhong method

 

 

What is tangzhong?

Well it is essentially a sort of roux, made by cooking flour and a liquid (either water or milk) until it reaches 65C or 150F. Most cooking blogs and websites that discuss tangzhong point to this 2007 cookbook 65C Bread (65°C湯種麵包) which I think is written by a Taiwanese and popularized this method in Asia. But the thing is, if you have ever eaten bread from Chinese bakeries, you may have noticed that it’s a lot softer than your typical ‘western’ style bread. In Singapore, the few old-school bakeries that are around make a very soft white bread – I’m guessing that the crusts are cut off or something as it is a seriously WHITE bread. So who knows, maybe all this time they’ve been using a tangzhong method or other.

Why bother?

Bread made with the tangzhong is softer, lighter. According to this blog by pastry chef Jennifer Field, the gel (the tangzhong) helps to hold on to water and also prevent some gluten formation, resulting in a softer bread.

My experience

I first tried the tangzhong method early last year, but I think I had added too much of the tanghzhong, resulting in too soft a dough and it was a lot harder to manipulate. Also I was far too ambitious in starting with a hot dog bun recipe, where the dough had to be rolled around the sausages. You can read more about my attempt at Chinese bakery-style hot dog buns here.

I’m not sure what attracted me back to the tangzhong method this year, there must have been a blog post that popped up somewhere, but I ended up on the blog Christine’s Recipes, which quite a few other food bloggers adapt from. This bacon and cheese tangzhong bread in particular caught my eye. But of course I didn’t have the right cheese (I wasn’t going to waste my good Brie on it!) but noticed at the end of the post she mentioned turning it into raisin bread. And in my house, there are always raisins. So that’s what I went for.

When baking I prefer to use my digital weighing machine as it’s far more accurate than scooping cups of flour

Tangzhong ingredients (enough for two loaves)
50g / 1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup milk (can use water or 50/50 water and milk)

350g / 2½ cups bread flour
55g /3tbsp+2tsp caster sugar – I increased it slightly to 4 tsp for my raisin bread
5g /1tsp salt
56g egg (1 large egg)
7g /1tbsp+1tsp milk powder (to increase fragrance, optional) – I did not have milk powder and it tastes fine without
125ml/ ½ cup milk
120g tangzhong (half of the tangzhong you make from above)
5 to 6g /2 tsp instant yeast
30g /3tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature) – my bread machine has a ‘rest’ period so I cut my butter into small pieces, straight from the fridge and put it in

I also added:
1 tsp vanilla essence
About 1 cup of raisins (soaked in hot water for about 5-10 minutes)

Making the tangzhong is easy enough. I used flour and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula.

You can use a thermometer to reach 65C/150F or do as Christine suggests and check for ‘lines’ that remain as you stir the thickened roux. In the end I did both, once I saw the lines, I checked the temperature. Just right.

Transfer to a small bowl, place clingfilm directly on the tangzhong to stop it from drying up. Cool to room temperature. This tangzhong amount is good for two loaves of bread, and can be kept wrapped in the fridge for a few days. But if it starts to change colour, toss it.

To make the bread dough:
I used a bread machine on its regular dough setting – it’s a lot more convenient, and also the recipe warns that it can be quite messy (which I guess means sticky?). If you don’t have a bread machine or mixer, please refer back to Christine’s Recipes for more details.

Because I was using a bread machine with a separate yeast container on its lid, I added in all the dry and then wet ingredients, and the yeast in the container, then let it run. The machine goes through a couple of rise cycles as well as the kneading.

When finished, remove the dough from the machine, place onto a clean floured surface or nonstick mat, cut into four pieces, shape each piece roughly into a ball, cover loosely with cling wrap and let rest for 15 minutes (see below for step-by-step photos)

Using a rolling pin, roll each ball out into a rough oval shape. Scatter the raisins evenly on the oval. Starting from one end, roll the dough into a kind of Swiss roll. Then use the rolling pin to roll it out into a rough oval shape again. And then starting from one end, roll the dough up into a kind of Swiss roll.

Place each roll side by side into the loaf tin. Mine is a silicon loaf tin but you should grease yours if it isn’t.

Let the dough proof again for about 40 minutes.

If you would like it to have that shiny surface, brush some egg wash or milk over the the surface. I only did this for my first loaf and forgot about it for the others. No problem there.

Bake in a pre-heated 180C/350F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. If you’ve never baked bread before, sometimes it’s easier to check the doneness of bread with a thermometer. Breads are done at about 190F/87C. Try to angle your thermometer towards the centre of the loaf – you can do it near one of the folds or from the bottom.

Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

(adapted from Christine’s Recipes)

 

I also attempted to make a chocolate bread – adding about 1.5 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the flour mixture. Instead of using raisins, I used chocolate rice, sprinkling it before rolling. My 5yo adored the chocolate bread and ate it for breakfast every day. The 3yo didn’t like it as it probably didn’t have enough chocolate for him. I would try this again with more sugar and more chocolate rice or substitute it with chocolate chips.

Step-by-step photos

Dividing into four portions, rolling it into a ball, letting it rest
Rolling it out into a rough oval shape
Scatter the chocolate rice all over
Rolling the dough
Rolling it out again into an oval
Then rolling it up again
Doesn’t matter if its smaller than the loaf tin – it will rise during the proof

 

weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

It’s Monday and I’m reading the graphic novel adaptation of Kindred

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

 

My mum returned to Singapore early Thursday morning so the rest of last week was all about returning to regula programming. The husband had a busy weekend of working from home so we didn’t do much. But we did have some in-N-Out on a sunshiney blue-sky California Saturday. 

I’ve been experimenting with the tangzhong method (which requires a roux) of making bread. And am considering writing a post about it. 

And we made pizza 🍕 

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation – Octavia E. Butler, John Jennings (Illustrations), Damian Duffy (Adapted by)

 

 

Watching:

The Grand Tour

Listening:

 

This is The Story of a Happy Marriage – Ann Patchett

Eating:

Raisin bread with butter for breakfast

Drinking:

PG Tips with milk

Cooking:

Baked rice with bacon, mushrooms and cauliflower

or maybe this baked chicken chop rice recipe 

Rice noodles with french beans, carrots and a protein, maybe chicken or pork sliced up and marinated with soy sauce, grated ginger, sesame oil

Browsing:

Jane Wong and Aditi Machado in conversation (Lit Hub)

I’m not typically a YA reader but this book American Street by Ibi Zoboi sounds good (BookDragon)

Nine modern literary letter collections (The Millions)

Also, immediately requested this from the library – Gwenpool, the Unbelievable Vol (In Tori Lex)

34 books by women of colour to read this year (Electric Literature)

I recently watched The Arrival (and then read the short story – and was fascinated by how they changed the story, more about that another time) and here’s an interesting article from The Millions about how The Arrival is a movie about movies 

I’ve not had a Starbucks brownie but here’s a copycat recipe of it that sounds delicious (Averie Cooks)

Another chocolate recipe. This time a chocolate chiffon from Bake for Happy Kids

 

Last week:

I read:




Captain Marvel, Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight – Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer), Dexter Soy (Illustrations), Emma Ríos (Illustrations), Richard Elson (Illustrator), Karl Kesel (Illustrator), Al Barrionuevo (Illustrator)

Strong Female Protagonist – Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag (Illustrations)

Living with the Dead (Women of the Otherworld #9) – Kelley Armstrong

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? -Henry Farrell

 

I posted:

Weekend Cooking: Oxtail Stew

A Woman in The Crossfire

Books I loved more than I expected to

 

Weekend Cooking: Oxtail Stew

I have such fond memories of oxtail stew. When I was a kid, my mum owned an orange-colored slow cooker, I remember it having some kind of pattern on the side. Perhaps looking like this image I found online.

rival-slow-cooker

I’m sure she made other dishes in her slow cooker, but the only one I recall clearly is oxtail stew. It wasn’t a usual part of her repertoire, so I may be remembering it because it was something special that we had once in a while when I was little.

Oxtail got a lot more expensive when I was older, and she stopped cooking oxtail stew.

When I moved to California, I never thought about it until at lunch at an Indonesian restaurant in the South Bay. One of our friends wanted to order the oxtail soup, known as Sop Buntut, apparently a popular dish in Indonesia. Here’s a recipe if you’d like to try it. And while I adored the dish, it made me crave oxtail stew again.


Luckily oxtail is quite easy to find here. Many of the Asian supermarkets carry oxtail. But perhaps more importantly, so does Costco. I like buying meat from Costco as the price is good and so is the quality. The oxtail comes in a big pack but luckily it’s a two-pack. Each pack has about 4 big pieces and 4-5 small pieces. Plenty for a family of four (and visiting grandparents). I only make oxtail stew when we have company, because sadly, the Husband DOES NOT EAT OXTAIL. So I have to add in a few pieces of regular cubes of beef for stewing for him. In my opinion, he is the poorer for it. Oxtail tastes pretty much the same as beef, but it is richer and the meat tends to be more tender. Oxtail has all this gelatin and fat, and not to mention the marrow within the bone. All this adds so much flavour to the stew itself (ok so the Husband benefits from that part) and the meat just falls off the bone when it’s braised properly.

 

  • 3 lbs oxtails
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3-4 celery stalks
  • 3-4 small potatoes
  • 1 onion or large shallot
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 half-inch thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons of five-spice powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef stock (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Clean the oxtails and pat them dry. Season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour. Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat and brown on all sides.

Add the oxtail to the slow cooker.

Add the onion/shallot, garlic, cinnamon, star anise to the skillet to brown. Then pour in the beef stock and scrape up all the stuff stuck on the skillet, and pour that all into the slow cooker.

Add some tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, some dried herbs, five-spice powder, a few cloves of garlic, soy sauce, some sugar to taste. I put the slow cooker on low and cook for about 6 hours. About 2/3 of the way through, add in some cut-up carrots, celery, potatoes.

Serve with basmati raisin rice.

Here are some other recipes:

Chinese Braised Oxtails (The Woks of Life)

Eurasian-style oxtail stew (Eat My Words)

A Woman in The Crossfire

“What am I going to do? My daughter is far away from me, my mother is far away from me, I am forbidden from going to my own village and my own city. I can’t do anything. I am suspended in the air. All I do now is translate people’s agonies into words through my interviews and meetings with those escaping massacres and prisons.”

 

This book. How does one go about writing about this book?

This brave book. This mad book. This book that I want to tell more people to read and that more people should read but is full of despair and violence and fear and hate that I am unable to say, hey, read this, for it is uncommon for people to want to read about things like this. This book that terrifies me, that there is a country out there which treats its people like this. I mean, it is one thing to read about revolutions and violence and brutality in news articles but it is another complete different entity to read of it in these far more personal stories and interviews that Yazbek tells us in her book. I didn’t have the stomach to take notes about the torture that these people went through though and this post may be the poorer as a result of that.

Samar Yazbek, a Syrian writer, a novelist, didn’t have to write this book. She is a member of the Alawite clan, the same one the dictator Bashar al-Assad belongs to. She belongs to a influential, well-to-do family. She could have been safe, cocooned by her family, but she chose to use the best weapon she had – her words.

“It isn’t enough for them to kill people; they were buying and selling their bodies. Oh my God, how can we live alongside these murderers? How can they walk freely among us?”

She first started posting about her opposition to what was going on in Syria on Facebook, on websites. She kept a diary of her observations, her personal reflections, of her conversations with those who protested, who were arrested and tortured. It is painful to read of these acts of violence happening to men, women, teenagers, children. And it is difficult to read of Yazbek’s struggle between fighting for what’s right and keeping herself and her teenaged daughter safe. She is disowned by many of her relatives, receives death threats from strangers. Several times she is snatched up and taken to an unknown location to be interrogated. She lives in fear. Her daughter once “said bitterly that the only way I could make her feel better was to appear on state television and proclaim my loyalty to the president.”

“I don’t like to talk about heroic deeds. Heroism is an illusion.”

But Yazbek, who now lives in exile in Paris, unable to return to her homeland, has indeed done something heroic. Risking her life, her daughter’s life, to gather stories, to write these things down, to convey to the rest of the world what is going on – that is heroic. Even after her exile, she returned to Syria three times, talking to Syrians, gathering their stories and compiling them in her 2015 book, The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria.

She explained why she does this in an interview with World Literature Today:

“I’m writing for the whole world to see what the people of Syria experience on a daily basis. I wanted to convey the voices of these victims to the world. It’s the role of the educated Syrian elite—writers, artists—to engage in this situation, to take part in social justice.”

What Samar Yazbek has done – is doing – is truly admirable. Her bravery in bringing these stories to the world’s attention. Her need to tell the truth – and going against her clan in order to do that.

Throughout the book, I kept wondering, could I do that? Would I be that fearless?

Books I loved more than I expected to

toptentues

Ten Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would 

The Dollmaker – Harriette Simpson Arnow

This American classic is a tough read. Almost all the dialogue is written in a Kentucky dialect, which takes some getting used to. And it is bleak. So bleak and poor and desperate. But I loved the main character Gertie, she’s a hard worker, strong-willed and capable.

 

Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

I listened to this as an audiobook – very hesitantly. So far I’ve had success with celebrity-narrated audiobooks, mostly comedians like Aziz Ansari and Amy Pohler. But I wasn’t sure about this one, read by its author who’s a scientist. I started listening, just hoping she wouldn’t sound, well, boring. And instead I was startled by the way she poured so much emotion into her narration. All her passion for her work, for the people she loved, was put into the reading. And I was enthralled.

 

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d – Alan Bradley

It may seem weird to put this 8th book in a series here. But I really didn’t like book 7, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, which took Flavia out of England and into a Canadian boarding school. In book 8, Flavia is back at Buckshaw and things just seem more apt, except of course for the fact that her father is in hospital.

 

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces – Isabel Quintero (my review)

I’ve had mixed success with YA so am always a bit hesitant when picking up a YA book. But this one, this one I just adored. I loved Gabi. What a wonderful feisty character.

H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

Another nonfiction read that took me by surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Monday and I’m reading

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

My mum will be flying off back to Singapore early Thursday morning, so we took a day trip into the city to spend some time at the SFMoMA on Saturday. The museum reopened last year with a brand new expansion, making it the largest modern and contemporary art museum in America. It has 7 floors of beautiful space and the new building so seamlessly joins the old building that I hadn’t a clue which building I was in. Here’s a Smithsonian magazine article on ten things to love in the SFMoMa. It’s such a big space that we didn’t manage to see everything we wanted to see. Plus the 3yo was getting tired and so we had to leave. Another time! The 5yo said he really enjoyed the day at the museum, although when asked what his favourite part was, his answer was: the store!

The view from the rooftop sculpture garden

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

 

Watching:

The usual – Mad Men, Parenthood

Listening:

happymarriage

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage – Ann Patchett

Eating:

Banana pancakes

Drinking:

Nespresso

Cooking:

The kids and I are going to make pizza tomorrow.

Browsing:

A fascinating piece on a job writing custom erotic love letters (Lit Hub)

George Saunders on making Lincoln on the Bardo (Book Riot)

Gula Melaka chiffon cake (No-Frills Recipes)

Ooh beer brownies (How Sweet Eats)

 

Last week:

I read:

The Dollmaker – Harriette Simpson Arnow

Children of the Alley – Naguib Mahfouz

 

 

 

 

It’s Monday and I’m reading

 

badge
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

I’m typing this on a sunny day. What a rare sight this winter. It has been raining and raining and the kids didn’t get to play in their schools’ playgrounds last week except for Friday. And to help them expend their energy at home, we’ve been having crazy dance parties, playing hide and seek and treasure hunts, and bouncing balls. It’s not easy having two little boys cooped up at home!

Some photos I recently took for the daily photo challenge I host on Litsy. The top one is flowers on covers, and the one below is my collection of latinx writers.

We had a busy weekend, with a concert by Charlotte Diamond on Saturday. Some of you may know her name, although I sure didn’t until my kids started preschool and sang lots of her well-known songs like I Am A Pizza and Octopus (Slippery Fish). Everyone had lots of fun singing, dancing and doing all the actions to her songs.

After that, the husband and I got to sneak off for a movie date, something we’ve not done in a long time. We went to see Lego Batman! What a fun movie. I’m looking forward to the day I take my kids to the cinema – my 5yo is a kind of a sensitive kid and he gets very absorbed in shows to the point where he gets very upset and agitated if there’s something bad about to happen, so it might be a while more before he’s ready to see a movie in a theatre!

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

 

Watching:

The kids are watching Finding Dory as I type this!

Listening:

Carrie Fisher read Wishful Drinking

 

Eating:

Drinking:

Well not right now, but last night. It was quite refreshing.

Cooking:

Mm laksa maybe?

Noodle soup – my 3yo has recent lunch developed a love for noodle soups like ramen and he keeps asking for it.

Grilled asparagus and maybe risotto? Or at the most spaghetti with bacon of course.


Browsing:

5 great Canadian Muslim books (Book Riot)

“Nevertheless, She Persisted” and the age of the weaponized meme (The Atlantic)

10 great novels on freedom of expression that aren’t 1984 (Lit Hub)

Added to my TBR:

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (A Life in Books)

 

Last week:

I read:
Buffy: Glutton for Punishment – Kel McDonald, Yishan Li (Artist)
Buffy The High School Years: Freaks and Geeks – Faith Erin Hicks, Yishan Li (Artist)
Captain Marvel – Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka (Illustrator), Tara Guggenheim, Felipe Smith (Illustrator)
The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 – Riad Sattouf
Before the Feast – Saša Stanišić
I posted:

#comicsfebruary – Captain Marvel, Buffy and more