The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Almond Milk Loaf - using Japanese Shirakami-Sanchi natural yeast

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txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Almond Milk Loaf - using Japanese Shirakami-Sanchi natural yeast


 


Apparently I was in the mood of trying new things, with this bread I used: new recipe (Almond Milk Loaf from Dan Lepard's "A handmade loaf"), new yeast (a natural yeast from Japanese Shirakami-Sanchi region), as well as new bread pans from China, good thing everything turned out well!


 


First, the yeast - it is advertised as "natural yeast" collected from Shirakami-Sanchi, supposedly it's more active in cold environment than normal wild yeast, and it brings nicer flavors to the breads. It's in powder form, packaged in 10g envelopes like following. It looks very much like active dry yeast, and the way to use it is similar to fresh yeast - 2X of the weight of dry yeast in the recipe, needs to be activated by warm water (35C) for 10 to 15 minutes, fermentation speed is comparable to dry yeast also. Since it's not kept in a starter, it doesn't bring any sour flavors to the bread. It needs to be refridgerated after the package is opened. Honestly, while it's easy to use and my bread rose with no problem, I can't taste any special flavor from the yeast. No "subtle sweetness" as advertised, nor any complexity as from my normal starters. It's said that this yeast has special health benefits, which I can't verify either way. These were a gift from my friend in Japan, I don't think it's available in US.



 


Now the recipe - I LOVED it! It's a pretty straightforward lean dough with "quite a lot" of added almond paste. It's called almond milk, but there's no milk in it, just almond grounded with sugar and water. The bread has an even crumb, very frangrant and falvorful from almond. Perfect for both savory and sweet toppings. Highly recommended! Apprently the recipe is online here(http://ostwestwind.twoday.net/stories/5798892/), but you really should get that book, everything I made from it has been great.



Finally the pans. This bread was baked in pullman pans with lids on in the book, my pullman pan is way too big for trying a new recipe, so I used some mini cute pans from China (gifts from friends again). Had to try out different dough amount to get it right, as you can see I put too much in one, had to forget about putting the lid on:



Put too little in another one, which never rose to the lid, but the third one was just right:



As you can see, the shaping method for sandwich bread is a bit different here. It's a common way to shape Asian style sandwich bread. I don't know exactly why, but I suspect two reasons:


1. Asian style dough is usually very soft and enriched, and 2. Asian style loaf pans are long and narrow like the ones I used here. Both tratis mean if we roll the dough into one cylinder and put it in, it's not easy to get it even length-wise, by dividing the dough and roll seperately like following, it's more likely to get an even top. That's my theory anyway. I quite like the result.



Put the leftover dough in my 5X3 mini loaf pan, and it was a beautiful fit



Learned about the new yeast, the new pans, as well as a new favorite recipe, with delicious bread to boot, not a bad day!



 

Comments

LeeYong's picture
LeeYong

Thanks for sharing the recipe... I love how your loaves came out... I think I'm going give this a try! I always wondered about fresh yeast when others have post their recipes-I seem to be able to get the quick rapid yeast.


Happy baking!


LeeYong

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

The original recipe uses fresh yeast, but you can use dry yeast (half of the weight). I've done that before with his recipe and it turned out well.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

You sure do know how to make this look easy, which it is not. Great job, they look great.


Eric

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks for the kind words :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

As I look around, I see your point about the "Asian Style" way of shaping loaves.  I got another idea to add...


A few years ago, my husband and I went on a day trip with the folks and families from the local company's office in China.  We took off in the morning and about half way to our destination "lunch" was distributed.  A large cardboard box was opened and out came bagged loaves of bread.  We were each handed a loaf.  My husband and I thought one was enough between us but they insisted we each take one.  We silently eyeballed each other and wondered how in the world could we pull this off without knives, butter or a plate?  Just bread?  Without a word between us, we quickly took our cues from those around us.  With enthusiasm the outside bags were opened and with a quick twist of the wrist, a uniform chunk of bread was removed from the loaf and eaten, well, reminded me more like eating cotton candy.  Good that portions or sections separated so leasily from the loaf.  We also traded our loaves with each other and were surprised by the subtle differences. 


Mini

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

In China breads are still regarded as "snacks", so one usually eat it on the go, with no knives or other utensils. Plus the loaves there tend to be cottony soft, easy to tear away. One trait bakers and consumers look for in a "good" bread over there is to tear and see the connecting shreds, just like we do when we exam a very soft enriched bread like pandoro. This way of shaping not only makes it easy to tear off bits and pieces, but also good at showing off the "shreding" traits in a soft loaf.


 


Amazing how the stands of good breads are so different in different places huh? Germany high percentage rye is a hard sell in China, as you can image.:P

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Breads for Asians as you may be aware is not the main staple. It is very uncommon to have breads as breakfast,  of course,  it is becoming more common now, though I must say,  still not in China. (I had so much difficulty looking for soft white loafs with strong yeasty smell about 5 years ago when I arrived in China). My parents - all in their 70s,  started having breads in morning quite recently.  We usually have porridge, even rice.


Therefore, as you mentioned about how breads are made,  we usually buy in small quantities,  about 10 -12 slices per pack,  which will last us a week.  The bakers have to make them in smaller loaves.  It is only recent years that we see mega packs (20 or more slices) sold, where bread becomes a staple for breakfast.


Indeed,  Asians do take bread as snacks,  that's why these light soft feathery like white breads are made.  I remember when I was young,  we usually have a bread seller that goes round in bicycles selling breads at about 3-4pm in the afternoon,  good loaf of soft breads,  some of them comes in pink, brown colours (beautiful and sweet),  spread with butter or kaya (coconut jam), sold in 1-2 slices at a time. They are big slices though. I used to pull them off like the way you eat cotton candy and put it into mouth,  they just seem to melt,  with little chewing.  I can seem to create that at this moment.  Will want to try your recipe as it sounds so good.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Me too! :)


 


I lived in China until 19 before moving to North America, still keeps a baking blog in Chinese: http://blog.sina.com.cn/txfarmerying . The soft cottony loaves were the bread I knew and loved. I still make them these days but now my taste has changed and I mostly make traditional European style breads like lean sourdough or even high percentage rye breads. The technique of making those soft breads are quite different from making lean breads - the dough is richer and a lot more kneading to get maximum volume and softness, also most of the vaiations are in the filling not the taste of the dough. I like both style since I just love to eat and make bread period, but what I like the most is trying to combine the two.


 


Judging from the response I get from the Chinese blog, home bead baking is getting very popular these days in China, more people are getting into European style breads too.


 


BTW, this Almond Milk Loaf, despite how I made them, is NOT a soft cottony Asian style bread. True to its origin (Dan Lepard's book focuses on European style breads), it has an even crumb and is quite substantial.

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

you are right.  China is getting popular with breads - lots of european bakeries are selling well at least in Shanghai, that's where I'm staying.  It seems more apparent these last 2 years.


Born and bred in Singapore,  we were exposed to having bread at our breakfast table long time ago,  more of those cottony type that I remember. They are quite different from the european/american breads which is crustier,  and denser.  It might also be the flour,  somehow,  asian flour usually turn out lighter breads - experimented with Japanese flour, flour from Singapore/Malaysia, and even China, compared with American flour - unfortunately a lot of those found in Asia are from local flour mills, they don't indicate the gluten level,  therefore, i'm unable to comment if I'm right about the flour.