Friday, March 8, 2013

Super Soft and Silky Pai Bao 超軟排包


For some reasons, a lot of Asians prefer softer, silkier bread than the hearty and chewy European style. Just check out some of the bakeries in heavily Asian populated areas in Southern California and you will concur. It is a phenomenon for people to line up and wait patiently to get some freshly baked bread.  (I bet Atkin's low carb diet followers won't be there lining up ^_^) And many of them come out easily with a receipt of more than $20.









Friends, students of my baking classes, and patrons from library demonstrations often ask a similar question: what makes that bread so soft and silky? I am not a professional baker nor have I ever worked in a bakery before. But from my limited experience and knowledge of bread baking, I can share with you my little tips.

There are only four basic ingredients needed to make a loaf of bread: flour, yeast, salt and water. This is called lean bread. Examples are baguettes, cibattas, bagels, pizzas, etc. They are characterized with a hard crust and soft crumb and are best to be served within a few hours after coming out of the oven.


Another type is called enriched bread, like brioches and many Asian sweet baos. In order to make it soft and stay soft for a few days, sugar, eggs, and butter are added. Not only does sugar give it a sweet taste, its hygroscopic property helps to attract water from the air and allow it to stay moist and soft. Fat and lecithin in eggs make the bread richer. Butter helps shorten the gluten, tenderizes the bread and adds flavor. Moreover, commercial bakeries often use dough enhancer or conditioner in their products for texture and longer shelf life.


Besides looking at the ingredients, the way bread is made also contributes to its texture. Tong Zhong and a pre-ferment/sponge are widely used methods to make bread that have a long lasting nature.

This soft and silky pai bao is a prime example of enriched bread. Instead of using water, milk and even heavy whipping cream are used in addition to sugar, eggs and butter. The result is a pillowy soft and velvety bread.

不知什麼原因,很多亞洲人都比較喜歡食又軟又綿的麵包,多過質地比較粗糙但有口勁的歐陸式麵包。在南加州亞洲人聚居的地方,排隊買柔軟的麵包是很普遍的現象,很多都願意付上二、三十元買幾個包。

無論在我的烘焙班或在圖書館的示範,經常都有人問我怎樣可以做這種又軟又綿的麵包。我不是什麼專業的麵包師父,又沒有受過正規訓練,我只可以從我有限的知識和經驗與大家分享小小心得。

做麵包只須要四樣基本材料:麵粉、酵母、鹽及水。那些法式長包或意大利比薩便只是用這四樣基本材料做的。它皮脆內軟,最好即日食用,隔了夜便硬如石頭了。

但另一類包因加了其他材料如糖、蛋及脂肪(多數是牛油),便能將包的質感改變。糖不單能使食物有甜味,它更有吸水的功能,能夠令麵包吸收空氣中的水份,使它保持軟身。蛋的脂肪及卵磷脂成份能夠增加風味及營養。牛油除了能將麵筋包裹,亦能增加風味。商業做法更會加入麵團改良劑去改進質感及加長保鮮期。

除了材料之外,做法也會影响成果。湯種 及 冰種 方法都能夠做出軟綿及持久保鮮的麵包。

今次與大家分享這款排包正是表表者,它不用水而是用牛奶、奶油,再加上蛋、糖及牛油,又加上湯種法,便做出要幾柔軟就有幾柔軟的包包了。

Ingredients for a pan of 8"x8":
450g unbleached bread flour  高筋粉
65g sugar  糖
6g instant yeast  即溶酵母
12g milk powder  奶粉
half of a whole egg (keep the other half for brushing)  半隻蛋(另一半作掃面用)
1 egg yolk 蛋黃
100g whole milk  全脂牛奶
28g condensed milk  煉奶
75g heavy whipping cream  奶油
120g tong zhong (20g bread flour in 100g whole milk)  湯種
5g salt  鹽
35g unsalted butter, softened  無鹽牛油,室温

1)  Make Tong Zhong and let it come to room temperature before mixing with the rest of the dough. (Click here to review how to make tong zhong)
2)  Put all the ingredients in the mixer bowl of the stand mixer, except salt and butter. Mix at low speed until it forms a ball. Add salt and increase the speed to 2 and knead for about 7 minutes. Hand kneading may take up to 15 minutes.
3)  Add the softened butter and knead until all are incorporated and it forms a smooth dough.
4)  Let it rise until doubled, which will take about 2 hours.
5)  Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces.


6)   Roll each piece out to the length of the pan and roll it up lengthwise.


7)   Put the dough into an oiled pan and let them rise until almost double and reach the rim of the pan.


8)   Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 35 minutes. Unmold and let it cool on a rack.




Note: 
You can either use a bread machine or hand knead it. This dough can be molded into other shapes, or optional fillings for other flavors can be incorporated into the dough in different ways. Adjust the baking time accordingly.

Recipe modified from Christines Recipes

先做湯種(湯種做法請點擊這裏),讓它涼後便可使用。將全部材料,鹽及牛油除外,放入攪拌器內,用低速攪拌成團,加鹽,用慢速攪拌約七、八分鐘,如用手搓時間要加倍,再加入牛油,搓至完全吸收,成平滑麵團為止。在温暖處讓其發酵至兩倍大,約兩小時。將麵團分割成五等份,用擀面杖捍開,再捲起,放入已塗油之焗盤內,讓其作第二次發酵,約四十五分鐘。掃上蛋液,放入已預熱至350F焗爐,焗約三十五分鐘。




8 comments:

  1. Hi Phoebe,
    My husband always likes for silky bread and thank you for your explanation of that.
    Mei from Boston

    ReplyDelete
  2. 好柔软的面包。看了很心动的。

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Phoebe,
    I baked this bao and result came out perfect.This is the memory of my childhood bao.
    Thank you so much.
    Welcome to Boston, I definiety will see you there.
    Mei from Boston

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so happy for you. Couldn't wait to meet you soon.

      Delete
  4. How much yeast would i need if i were to use active dried yesst rather than the instant kind ??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to increase the amount of active dry yeast by 25%. So about 8g of dry yeast.

      Delete
  5. i just made this! :) but i realized halfway that i don't have whipping cream, so i used evaporated milk... :P still tastes really good!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great alternative. You are very resourceful, Joyce!

      Delete

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