How good is the smell of freshly baked bread? Better yet, how good is the smell of freshly baked bread coming from your own kitchen?
I set to work making bread with conflicting emotions. On one side I’m exited because I’m making my own bread (because we foodies get excited about stuff like this) from scratch. Yes, I’m not going to go out to the store and buy bread because store bought bread – those mass produced loaves in plastic bags – can never quite compare to a delicious loaf of home baked bread – which in turn fills your home with that delicious I’m-baking-bread smell.
But then I’m also filled with anxiety, nervousness and downright fear because… I’m make my own bread!!! (because we foodies also worry about stuff like this too). Making bread has so many parameters and conditions that can go wrong with so much trial and error with yeast, water temperature, ambient room for proofing temperature, humidity….
And, even if I do scrape myself up from the bread-making-anxiety floor with bread that has seemingly risen, shaped and proofed with a certain level of success (celebratory cocktail, anyone?) I then have to bake the thing. And I don’t own a steam oven, or a fancy oven with all the bells and whistles.
I have the mid-range, stock-standard oven that you generally find in rental properties.
I’m getting anxious just thinking about it….
My bread making life has been a collection of fist pumping successes and trash throwing failures but, lately, I think I’ve become a little more confident and the successes are a little more frequent than the failures. I thank this swing of luck to two great sources of bread making information:
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart – the most conclusive guide on making a whole range of breads I have ever read (and my go to recipe book for bread making)
and , in the last couple of weeks
This recipe from Two Red Bowls for whole wheat milk bread. A variation on the classic Asian-style milk breads, the bread came about perfect the first attempt and was everything you could ever want from a milk bread recipe; soft and fluffy and utterly delicious. Of course, with such success I knew I had to adapt the recipe and make my own version of it. And that is what we have today.
OK, so let me break it down for you quickly. First of all this bread is made using what is known as the Tangzhong method; a method of making bread I did not know about until I came across the milk bread recipe. And I think this will be the way I make bread from now on.
Tangzhong (sometimes referred to as a Tangzhong Roux) is a mixture of flour and water heated until it takes on a gel (or roux) like consistency. As it heats the flour gelatinises which, when combined with the rest of the recipe ingredients, traps in moisture during the kneading and baking processes.
The result? A softer, lighter, fluffier bread that stays softer, lighter and fluffier for much longer (no serosuly, this bread will still be soft a few days after baking – score!)
The original recipe for for this bread required heavy cream to be added and the first time I made them this is what I used. But, when I came to try my own version of the recipe I found I had no cream in the fridge (and this, fellow foodies, is why you double check your shopping list before leaving the store, otherwise you forget important stuff like cream).
Laziness, the late hour, and the bread making process already in full swing meant that I wasn’t for a second jumping into the car and heading off to the store to buy more cream so I foraged around my fridge to find the next best thing. That’ll do I said to myself with a shrug of my shoulders as I pulled out the tub of sour cream and threw it into the mixture without a second thought.
It should be noted that, considering this gung-ho approach to swapping ingredients without much thought may explain why I have had so many flops in the bread making areas of my kitchen life.
But the sour cream worked a treat and created soft and fluffy slider rolls that are just begging to be loaded with delicious ingredients such as pulled pork, coleslway, avocados and all other types of yummy slider-esque ingredients (and – of course! – you know I will have a delicious slider recipe coming for you so you can devour these delicious rolls the right way!)
Rye Milk Bread Slider Rolls
Prep Time: 30 mins || Cook Time: 1hr 15 mins
For the Tangzhong Roux:
- 200ml water
- 60g unbleached plain flour
For the bread:
- 180ml milk – at room temperature
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 400g Rye Flour
- 300 – 450g unbleached plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 60ml Maple syrup
- 190ml sour cream (can be replaced with thickened cream)
- 3 eggs
- 80g melted butter
- A generous handful of pumpkin seeds (optional: can be replaced with sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds or rolled oats)
- Spray oil/ regular cooking oil
- THE DAY BEFORE: Whisk together the Tangzhong water and flour and warm slowly in a small pan over medium heat, stirring frequently. As it warms, the mixture will thicken. As it turns into a paste/ gel like consistency, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile sprinkle the yeast over the milk and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until dissolved and slightly frothy.
- In the bowl of your mixer combine the flours (Start with just 300g of the plain flour) and salt. In another bowl whisk together two of the eggs, the sour cream, maple syrup and Tangzhong mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on low speed for a few minutes until a wet dough it formed. It won’t be dry enough to form a ball, but it shouldn’t be wet enough stick all over your fingers either – somewhere in between the two (If you can press down into the dough without your finger pulling out covered in wet dough, you’re good to go!). Add more of the plain flour if needed, don’t worry if the dough still sticks to the side of there bowl.
- Once the dough taken on the desired consistency let is stand for 20 minutes before mixing on low speed for another 5 to ten minutes (or knead on your counter top for 5 to 10 minutes but I found the dough was still a little wet for this). Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been sprayed with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.
- On the day of baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn out onto the counter. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cut into 20 to 24 equal sized portions. Take one of the portions and fold the sides and corners into the centre and pinch together to seal the seams. Flip the dough over so the seam side is face down and lightly roll the dough with your hand to form a ball shape. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough. (The video link above will show you how – just note your dough, straight from the refrigerator, will be firmer but the process is the same).
- Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with baking paper. Place the dough balls, seam side down, into the dish, barely toughing each other. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warmish and draught free place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size (the time taken will depend on your ambient room temperature)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush over the proofed rolls. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden and sound hollow when tapped. (If you have a kitchen thermometer, the centre of the rolls should register above 180°F).
- When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.