Makes one 23cm x 10cm x 10cm loaf
350g bread flour
1 tablespoon milk powder
30g caster sugar
5g (1 teaspoon) salt
7g (2 1/2 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
150ml lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
30g butter, cubed
20g (1 1/2 tablespoons) bread flour
Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling wrap over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook as before until it just starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.) This water roux can be kept in an airtight container after cooling in the refrigerator for 1 day if not used immediately. However DO NOT USE if it turns grey in colour, that means it has gone bad.
For the Bread Dough:
1. Prepare a 23cm (L) x 10cm (W) x 10cm (H) loaf tin. Sift bread flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)
2. Knead in butter until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading. I usually stop kneading when the dough sticks to the work surface and stretches like chewing gum when pulled!) Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.
3. Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 5 equal portions. Form each into balls and let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out each dough piece to about 30cm long with about 10cm width to fit the loaf tin. Roll up from the short end like a Swiss roll. Place the five rolls into the tin.
Water-roux doughs before final proving.
5. Let rise until the dough has risen to fill about 80% of the tin. Optimum room temperature for this final prove is 38°C with a humidity of 85%.
Water-roux doughs after final proving.
5. Bake in preheated 180°C oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Taste: Soft white bread loaf that stays soft for at least 2-3 days
Consume: Best within 3-4 days
Storage: May be frozen to keep longer, defrost before serving
Recipe Reference: ‘波特吐司’ recipe from the cookbook ‘65°C湯種麵包’ by 陳郁芬