It’s the 15th of the month, that means it’s time for this month’s Baking Partners Challenge. The theme for this month is Gelatinized Starch.
I know it probably doesn’t sound as exciting as macarons(!) or cookies(!) or pie(!), but to me it’s super exciting because it means bread making. . . an you know I love bread making.
It can go by many names—tangzhong method, scalded flour, water roux—but they’re all essentially the same thing: Gelatinized Starch.
How Gelatinized Starch Works to Make a Soft Bread
Flour is made up of starch granules. Let’s think of them as bricks.
If you take some of that flour then add water and heat up, the starch gelatinizes. The starch granules in the flour will suck up all the water until they explode (think of a brick crumbling into sand) into starch molecules which suspend themselves in the water.
Your standard bread recipe doesn’t have the moisture, heat, or time for the starches to gelatinize during the baking process, so the bread is like a sturdy house built of starch ‘bricks’. It’s dense.
However, if you make ‘sand ‘ by gelatinizing the starch before baking the bread, then you’ll build yourself a sandcastle or, in bread terms, a soft and fluffy pillow of deliciousness.
Super Soft White Bread
Makes two 9”x5” loaves
Adapted from Christine’s Recipes
So in this recipe your starter is some flour that’s been heated up with water to 65*C to create a gel (known as the tangzhong method). This is added to the final dough, making a soft and fluffy bread.
This recipe is great on it’s own as a sandwich bread. It also makes a really good base for sweet breads (like cinnamon bread, or hot cross buns, or buns filled with custard) which are best with dough that has a soft crust and light crumb like this one does.
50g/ 1/3 cup bread flour
250ml/ 1 cup water
Final Dough Ingredients:
700g/ 5 cups bread flour
110g/ 1/2 cup sugar
10g/ 2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
250mL/ 1 cup water
All of the starter
12g/ 4 tsp instant yeast
60g/ 3 Tbsp oil
Directions – starter:
In a small saucepan whisk the flour into the water and remove lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Heat the mixture to 65*C. It will be thick and hold the ‘lines’ made by stirring with the whisk.
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking right onto the surface of the starter. Let cool. It can be used immediately once cool or stored in the fridge for a few days as long as it doesn’t turn grey.
Directions – final dough:
Combine all the dough ingredients into the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together and then switch to the dough hook. (You can also mix the whole thing in a bowl with your hands and knead it manually). Knead on high speed for 6-10 minutes until the dough is elastic, smooth, and not sticky. To test if the dough is ready, you might stretch the dough. If it forms a thin “membrane”, it’s done.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Proof in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
Transfer to a clean, floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Flatten each portion of dough into an oval shape. Fold like a letter: 1/3 from top edge to the middle and press, then fold 1/3 from bottom to the middle and press. From the narrow end, roll the dough into a cylinder. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
Place 3 side by side into each of 2 greased 9”x5” loaf tins, with seal facing down. Cover and proof in a warm place until double in size.
Bake in a pre-heated 356F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and tin. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Slice to serve or place in an airtight plastic bag or container once it’s thoroughly cooled.