Friday 3 September 2010

My Bread Baking Frenzy

I caught the bug again! Not ordinary flu bug, but bugs that sent me conducting one failed experiment after another, again and again in my kitchen.

I have been in a bread baking frenzy over the past couple of weeks. I got hooked into making different loaf breads, but so far none has met my expectations. First, I made a matcha red bean swirl loaf, using another (烫种) scalded dough recipe. I even put in that extra effort to cook the red beans. The loaf ended up looking very pretty, but failed my taste-test. The texture was too dense! I sensed trouble coming when the dough appeared to be quite stiff while I was kneading it. I blamed it on the recipe, and decided to try it again using the tangzhong, water roux method (汤种). Instead of making swirl loaf, I mixed the red beans into the dough. Everything went well except for the final proofing. I left the dough to proof for 2 hours and it still didn't fill up my pullman pan. I popped it in the oven, hoping the oven spring will expand the loaf a little. Well, the miracle that I was hopping for did not occur. The loaf did not even expand a single bit upon baking. I was left with a short and dense loaf.

You would think I should have given up by now. No, I didn't. I am quite surprised by my own stubborn persistence. Unless you have done it before, kneading dough occasionally by hand is therapeutic to most people, but doing it every time, means a lot of hard work, especially when you have to wrestle with a wet and sticky mess . Despite my aching arms and shoulders, I continued my quest for a perfect homemade loaf. I tried another tangzhong loaf recipe. This time I made a black sesame seeds loaf, thinking that maybe the red beans had 'broken' the bread gluten while I was trying to shape the dough, causing it not to rise well. So since sesame seeds are smaller grains, it would not do any damage to the bread. Alas, the tragic history repeats itself! The loaf came out of the oven dense and short.

After tasting a small piece of it, my elder child remarked, "It tastes like beer." To cover up my embarrassment, I told him 'that's because beer is also made with yeast, your know'. I learned the lesson not to over proof the dough, especially during the second rise, unless I intend to make a tiger beer bread ;) I also finally realised that I am not using the right amount of dough to fill up my bread tin. In order to fill up the tin, the dough should weigh at least 600g, or as a rough gauge, I should follow recipes that calls for flour amount that is at least 300-350g. Since I can't feed the ducks with my bread, I had no choice but to feed the bin, which I deem as one of the most annoying thing that could happen in my baking repertoire!

I was itching to make another loaf this week, but dismissed the idea as I strongly believe the Chinese sayings "祸不单行" or the English equivalent, 'bad luck comes in 3s'. I am glad that I stayed away from loaf bread as I managed to make a decent bread roll yesterday :D

This soft and yummy log is made using none other than the tangzhong method. It is amazing how a single ingredient can make a whole lot of difference. What I am referring to, is those spring onions dotted all over the bread roll. Spring onions smells and taste really pungent when raw, however, just like garlic, when it comes in contact with heat, the aroma that it releases makes it such a delightful experience even though I was standing vigilantly in front of the hot oven, keeping a close watch.

It did take a few extra steps to make these pork floss rolls, but the effort was worthwhile. At least I was rewarded with a tray of edible buns. When my kids got home from school, my elder child wanted to have one right after lunch, but I told him to wait till tea time. These rolls tasted soft and delicious and I noted there was a slight chew to it, probably because of the way the dough is made. We had them for tea and breakfast the next day. The rolls stayed soft over night and they definitely did not taste like beer ;)

Seaweed Pork Floss Rolls (65degC TangZhong)

(makes 6 rolls)

water roux:
20g bread flour
100ml water

195g bread flour
90g cake flour
30g caster sugar
12g milk powder
6g salt
6g instant yeast
60g egg, lightly beaten
65ml water
75g water roux (tangzhong)
45g unsalted butter

chopped spring onions
sesame seeds
seaweed pork floss

to make tang zhong:
  • Place 20g bread flour in a saucepan. Add 100ml water, mix till smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly with a hand whisk to prevent it from burning. Within 1 to 2 mins, the mixture will start to thicken, stop when you see traces in the mixture for every stir you make with the hand whisk. (Take a look at the video clip here. ) The 65degC tang zhong is ready. Immediately transfer the hot tang zhong into a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap, making sure the cling wrap sticks onto the surface of the mixture. This is to prevent a film from forming on the surface. Leave to cool completely before using it. Measure 75g for the recipe, there will be a little bit of leftover.
to make dough (by hand):
see video here on kneading by hand
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in the egg and tang zhong. Reserve about 20ml of water and add the rest into the mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients with hand and slowly form into a rough dough. Add in a little of the reserved water if the mixture is too dry.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough till smooth. Add in the remaining water a little at a time, knead well after each addition. (This way, the dough will not be too wet and sticky). Use up all the water. The whole process should take about 10mins.
  • Knead in the butter. Continue to knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your hand, becomes smooth and elastic. This should take about another 20 to 30 mins. Do the window pane test: pinch a piece of the dough, pull and stretch it. It should be elastic, and can be pulled away into a thin membrane without tearing/breaking apart easily.
  • Place dough in a lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about 40mins or an hour, or until double in bulk.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and give a few light kneading to press out the gas. Roll into a round dough. Cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let the dough rest for 15mins.
  • Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape to fit a 30cmx40cm baking tray (I used a 10" by 14" tray). Place dough in baking tray(lined with parchment paper). Cover and let it proof for around 30~40 minutes.
  • Use a fork to poke holes all over the surface of the dough (this is to ensure the bread will not puff up too much during baking). Brush with egg wash then sprinkle with chopped onions and sesame seeds. Bake at 170~180degC for about 15 minutes (do not over bake).
to assemble:
  • Remove bread from tray and leave to cool. Invert the bread on a parchment paper. Cut a few slits along the longer edge of the bread, make the slits only half-way through the bread do not cut through. The slits will make rolling up the bread easier.
  • Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the surface and sprinkle with pork floss. From the longer edge, roll up like a swiss roll. Wrap the bread roll with the parchment paper. Secure and leave it for about 30mins so that the roll can stay in its shape without unrolling. (I tried to tape it down, but the tape couldn't stick onto the parchment paper, so I had to use stripes of paper to secure the roll.) Trim away the edges and cut the bread into 6 portions. Spread the cut sides with some mayonnaise and coat with pork floss.
  • Recipe source: 65度C汤种面包, 陈郁芬


Cosy Bake said...


The roll bread look so yummy, it can be a full meal to me on those rushing days! haha..... yum yum!!

Kitchen Corner said...

Very impressed by your passion and patient and the persistence you've got! For me, I might be give up for some times. I should learn your patient. Last time I proof my dough over time which is more than the time that requested from the recipe and it did give me the beer taste which is very annoying. I understand how it feel. I found that making a nice loaf of bread is even harder than making buns. So, once I get use to a recipe that suit my taste, it would be almost my daily bread :) Btw, your pork floss roll looks really good, I tried it before, it's quite a nice recipe indeed.

Bakericious said...

HHB, I salute to your persistance. Although I am still very keen to make bread again but thinking of the kneading, I just shelf it and tell myself, next time perhaps heeheehee... Your photos and baking always look so impressive, making me feel like making bread now.

Anonymous said...


I share your woes...
It happened to me few times already i.e. resulted in very dense bread...
Like that one which I linked u previously...

I only managed to secure an edible texture with Mexican bun recently...

Ur bread roll looks good...
Will try out when I get my digital scale to measure those precise weight...


Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...

The bread rolls look very good. Same as Jess, your post have inspired me into bread making mood again. haha.

lena said...

all of your breads look wonderful! I've made some cinnamon rolls the other day using your recipe from yr blog, it turned out so nice but i havent posted it yet. Once posted, i'll let you know. Bravo HHB!

Cuisine Paradise said...

Wow..this realli look good. It is much better that those selling in BT. I salute for your passion in bread making too... :) How i wish i can make something like...... You are great!

experimentalcook said...

This very bread is what I have been thinking of making the past few days! But of course, I'm still working on the mental aspect because I can't figure how to bake a flat bread in my microwave oven :-(
Never knew the beer taste is due to too much proving. Thought it is because I use too much yeast. Something new I learn today. Thanks!

agapejen said...

HHB, I kou-tou to your patience. I have given up making bread, mine never fail to be Rock Bun over night :(

Unknown said...

Nice bread roll... I tried 汤种 twice, both ended up with over-baked bread... guess I have no fate with 汤种 bread... sob sob...

Min said...

I like your bread roll, last time I made it once, it's not easy, but it's worth it I think. Yours inspire me to bake this again!

Marie said...

Looks delicious!!! A fresh loaf of bread is hard to beat!

ReeseKitchen said...

You are great! If it happens to me, I'll give up and buy a loaf instead..;p Anyway, all your breads look very nice, wish I have your passion of making breads..;)

Anonymous said...

cute-looking bread there.. thanks for sharing the recipe.. =]

Angie's Recipes said...

Can't get enough of these soft rolls!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

HHB, if I am not wrong, the beer taste comes from over proofing your dough. The yeast taste probably has overpowered everything else. Actually for home bakers like us, it's actually quite normal that our bread will fail on us occasionally, happens to me quite often also, lol. I have actually stopped kneading my own bread, ever since I have reunited with my KA. But sometimes I still yearn to give that dough a good knead sometimes, lol. Your pork floss bread roll reminded me that I wanted to try this recipe, thanks!

Edith said...

Wow wow wow... I am impressed. Looks so yummy.

Anonymous said...

Hi HHB, i was wondering what's the effect on using part cake flour, part bread flour? I've seen other tangzhong recipes that only used bread flour..

hanushi said...


Admire your "never-give-up" attitude.... Looks so nice and yummy... But so far, I still do not have the courage to make bread and swiss roll... All seems a bit difficult for a starter like me...

Passionate About Baking said...

You're such a patient person. Keep trying and didn't give up. It's sure a heartache when you have to "feed" the rubbish dump. It's something that we don't hope to achieve in cooking and baking.
At least your efforts paid off! And your bun is really very delicious looking, and I'm very sure it taste perfectly wonderful too1 Thanks for sharing the recipe too!

Happy Homebaker said...

Grace, I agree with you it is more difficult to make a loaf bread than buns. The dough has to knead really well in order to yield a good loaf.

Just G, it is the kneading. You have to knead the dough till the gluten is fully developed. Next is the proofing, a well proof dough will give a soft texture.

lena, I am happy to know that you like the cinnamon rolls, I would love to make them again :)

Ellena, thanks, you are a great cook, I always hop over to your blog to drool over your delicious meals :)

experimentalcook, yes over proofing will produce bread with a strong yeast smell/taste. If you can't bake a flat bread, what you can do is, maybe you can shape it like cinnamon rolls, instead of cinnamons powder, use pork floss fillings?

neyeeloh, don't give up, I am sure you will get it right the 3rd time, over baking shouldn't be a big problem to overcome :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Min, yes it is really worth the extra effort.

Angie, thanks, I read your recipe and got a clearer picture on how to go about making this, thanks for sharing :)

Bee Bee, yes, it is due to over proofing. I left it to proof for more than 2hrs! I was waiting for the dough to rise up to the rim of the pan.

Thanks Edith!

Happy Homebaker said...

crustabakes, for buns and rolls, cake flour is added so as to reduce the gluten level, this is suppose to give buns a softer, less chewy texture. For loaf bread, usually only bread flour is used, higher gluten is needed for the loaf to hold its structure and be able to produce a tall loaf. I think the tangzhong recipes that you saw are meant for loaf bread, hope I am right?

hanushi, yes, it is better to start from basic, simple bakes. I only started making my first bread bun after 6 months of baking small cakes, muffins and cookies ;)

Jane, thanks for your encouragement :) I hate to waste food, but I was quite adamant to get it right. I hope my next loaf will be ok, wish me luck :)

Aimei said...

I hope I can learn to have as much patience as you. Your perserverence really motivates me that i must not give up and keep trying should I fail.

Reading your post reminds me that I've not bake bread for quite some time.. :( Really miss bread baking.. Have been so busy that I can't spare the time of that much time needed for it...can only turn to as simple bakes to satifsy my cravings.. hopefully I'll be able to get back to bread making soon! :)

Pei-Lin said...

Hey! Luckily you didn't get discouraged! Love your spirit here!

That's why I don't really follow bread recipes thoroughly ever since I've had an idea of how normal bread making process goes ... If I follow the recipe to a tee, I'd have gotten a short and chubby loaf myself. Argh!

Yea, yea! I LOVE scallions on/in my bread. I've made exactly the same meat floss rolls and scallion rolls via tangzhong method. But, yet to blog about them. HAHA! (Already on my Flickr.) Aren't these rolls good!!?? I missed mine a lot ... Seems like your family and I are really bread people ... HAHA!

Passionate About Baking said...

Good luck HHB. :)

Anonymous said...

HHB, thanks for the clarification! Ur blog is great! can i link ur address on my blogroll?

MH said...

Wow! the roll looks so nice & pretty! Wish I can have a bite :) I haven't got the courage to bake this roll yet though.....

And yes,buns dough is so much easier to handle than bread loaf dough.... :(

I've a tip/suggestion which may ease your "pain" on seeing a "short" loaf!

This is what I do for my loaf when the weather is bad or the loaf does not rise after an hour or so:

1. "PREHEAT" your oven to "200 DEG F"
2. Put in your bread tin (with the rolled dough) cover with a damp cloth.
3. "SWITCH OFF" the oven and let it proof.

I can't guarantee it works 100% all the time, but it does help most of the time. :)

I chanced upon this tip while watching Michael Smith's "Chef at Home" late last year. He was actually proofing sweet buns dough in his oven without any damp cloth covering!

Hope the above tip is helpful! Happy baking, HHB!

Elin Chia said...

I am so going to make these delectable rolls. Thanks for sharing the recipe. When I first make my garlic parsley buns , it was inspired by you :) and since then I have not stopped making them for my family. Once again thanks for sharing your talents and your recipes and please continue your bun making craze for I know I will be inspired :)

Happy Flour said...

A simple roll bread which I like to have for my breakfast. I used water roux twice however both didn't produce good results. I think I must give water roux a third chance.

Happy Homebaker said...

crustabakes, it's my honour to have you link me up :)

MH, these rolls are actually not that difficult to make, do give it a try. Thanks for the tip, it comes in really handy today as I am proofing my bread now in this rainy weather :)

Elin, yes, that garlic bun recipe is a keeper! I hope you will like these rolls as much as I do :):)

Happy Flour, do give it a try again, I am sure you will like the texture of the bread made with water roux :)

Mj said...

Hi hhb, my kids luv eatg bread n like u, i make them by hand, must say it's therapeutic! Yr pork floss roll look v yummy but i m not confidnt of doing it , e rolling prt sounds daunting!

cocoraisin said...

Hello HappyHomeBaker :)

I love your blog and recently got the book 65 degree bread by Yvonne. I tried the custard filled bun recipe this weekend, but found it really difficult to get the bun fully and nicely filled with the custard. I would made a mess and could not close up the seams or I filling would turn out lopsided, not centered in the bun. Do you know of any good instructions of how to actually fill a bun? Thank you so much for you help :)


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi cocoraisin, if the custard filling is very soft and liquid like, it will be difficult to wrap. I do not know of any good instructions to wrap a soft filling. The only way for me to get around it is to try to flatten the dough as big as possible (with the edges thinner)and place the filling in the centre, and try to wrap it. I am sorry I am of not much help as I am no professional baker.

Mae said...


I tried the sweet bun recipe and got a very good result even mother in law for once praise my baking!

But when I try a bun today it had gotten hard and dense.

I'm wondering is this tang Zhongshan method give same overnight result?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Mae Cheah, I store my homemade bread (once they are cooled) in an air tight container, it helps to prevent the buns from getting dry and dense. You can also try warming the buns in the oven before serving. It will taste like freshly baked. The tang zhong method yields softer bread and the bread stay soft for 3 days in air tight container.

Mae said...

Thank you! Will try tomorrow:)

Mae said...

I try the tang zong method but fail badly. I'm using dough hook. And can never get window pane consistency. What could be the problem?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Mae Cheah, I have not used a stand mixer to do the kneading, as such I am not able to comment on this. However, I read from some bloggers that some mixer may over knead the bread dough. I suspect yours could be over knead.

Mae said...


I finally managed but it doesn't brown nicely like the sweet buns and taste wise the sweet bun is better.

As for the browning could it because I uses milk instead of egg wash before bake?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, yes, likely it is because of the egg wash, or your oven temperature.

Corrine said...


Love your blog, especially with all the lovely detailed bake instructions. I tried making this bread today and like to seek your expertise. While the bread is very soft in it's interior, the outside crust has formed so when I tried rolling it, it cracked quite badly. Wonder if you can advise how I can resolve this? I used top/bottom oven temp 170C, for 15 minutes with a egg & milk wash.

Thank you!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Corrine, suspect your oven it on the hot side? did you use an oven thermometer to check that the temp is accurate? was the top overly browned? maybe you can try baking for 12mins instead. or you may bake it at a lower rack position to prevent the top from forming a hard crust?

Corrine said...

Hi Hi,

Thanks for your reply! yes, i used an oven thermometer as my oven is indeed too hot and it's analog so its tough to use the dial only. I will try the lower rack tip next time.. thank u!

Unknown said...

very easy to understand and very easy to can make at home easily....thankyou for providing recipes.....