The Fresh Loaf

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Asian Fusion Fruited Barm Cake/Loaf - yet one more expereiment with beer barm starter

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txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Asian Fusion Fruited Barm Cake/Loaf - yet one more expereiment with beer barm starter


Another recipe from "A Handmade Loaf", using the beer barm starter. Anyone who knows of traditional English barm cake, or have seen the picture of this bread in the book might object and say: hey, what's in this picture?! It's not a barm cake, it's two sandwich loaves! Well, trust me it's the same recipe, just done differently.


 


Here I have to digress and talk a bit about Asian syle breads - sometimes in the form of a loaf, more often in the form of a stuffed bun. Very soft crumb with small pores, "shred-able", easier to peel off pieces than cutting it. It's essentially a slightly enriched dough (often with egg, butter, sugar, milk powder, milk, cream in the dough, but in small amounts), and the key to the soft and slightly spongy texture is in the kneading and shaping. The dough is VERY WELL kneaded to complete gluten developement, so that the bread gets maximum volume and a very fine crumb, which translate to a soft texture. During shaping, the dough is roll out thin, then roll up like a jellyroll TWICE before loading into the pan, this is to ensure the finest possible crumb - with the smallest possible pores. While artisan bakers here obsess over big holes in baguette, Asian bakers invest in the same effort and techniques to achieve even crumb with absolutely NO holes. It's sort of like a Pan De Mie bread, but much lighter. For the same pullman pan I bought from KAF (4X4X13inch), KAF Pan De Mie formula asks for 40oz (1100g+) of flour, while my Asian recipe only needs 800g, you can imagine how the bread is much lighter.


 


This kind of soft breads are what most Chinese people like, and I started out liking and making them 2 years ago. Soon after that, I got into sourdough and other Eureopean style breads, my taste evolved. I still like Asian style breads, but want the flavor to be a bit more layered and complex. As the result I have been trying to make these Asian style soft breads with pure sourdough, which add a tangy aftertaste in addition to the soft and slightly rich flavor. I am still perfecting the process in terms of how long to fermentate, how long to proof etc, but so far so good, I really like how the breads are more flavorful, yet still soft, tall, and spongy, the best of both worlds. (I will post when I am settled on the "best" procedure.) Some may ask why these soft breads are better than supermarket wonder bread, answers are: more flavor, soft but still has body (not squishy), slightly chewy.


 


When I see this barm cake recipe in the book, I wanted to keep the ingredients the same, but change the techinque to make it into Asian style sandwich loaves - tall and soft, rather than dense and cake-like. Nothing wrong with the latter, just not what we wanted at the time. Only two concerns: 1)the barm stater has been in the fridge for 5 days at that point, was it still strong enough to raise a loaf to 4+ times of it's original size? 2)the butter (15%) and sugar (15%) ratioes are both slightly higher than my normal Asian sandwich formulas. I was especially worried about the sugar, at 15%, it's on the verge of being "too much" for a natural starter. However in the end, it all worked out, the dough rose just fine, and I got two very soft, very tall, very flavorful loaves. Nothing like an English barm cake, more like a light Asian chiffon cake.



fruited barm loaf (adapted from "A handmade loaf")


Note: the following formula is suitable for a standard US 8*4inch loaf pan, but I used a Chinese loaf pan that's narrower and taller. I also had more than 64g of barm starter, so I infact made more dough than specified below, that's why you see a large loaf and a small loaf in the top picture.


 


beer barm starter, 64g


water, 106g,


bread flour, 212g (I used KAF bread flour)


AP flour, 38g


egg, 47g


brown sugar, 38g


zest from one orange


salt, 5g


butter, 38g, softened


currants, 39g


golden raisin, 39g (I used half dried cherries and dried cranberries instead)


 


1. mix water, starter, flour, egg, sugar, zest, autolyse for 30min


2. add salt, knead until gluten is well developed, add butter in 3 batches, until you get a very thin and strong windowpane. The stronger the gluten network, the higher the bread, but be careful not to overknead, it's a fine line. this is a VERY wet dough, even before adding the butter. It never did completely cleared the bottom of the mixing bowl, even though it's kneaded until very elastic.



3. bulk rise for 4 hours until well expanded, almost double.


4. for my narrow and long loaf pan, I divide the dough into 3 portions, for a 8*4 loaf pan, divide into two. for each dough round and rest for 30min. then, pat/roll each one out into a long ovel/rectangle, roll up from the narrow end like a jelly roll, keep the surface tension tight, press out all bubbles.Now you have 3(or 2) cyclinder like below:



rest for 15min, rull out each cylinder along the long axis into a flat long oval, smooth side down, press out all air bubbles



roll up from the narrow end again, press the seam tight with each roll, keep surface tension tight, load them seam side down into loaf pan. As you can see they only fill the pan 1/4 to 1/3 full, seems impossible to fill the pan, but don't worry.



5. proof until it's 80 to 90% full, for me , it took 6 hours, pretty normal for this kind of doug. Note that the height of each roll is uneven, this is because the dough was very wet, and I didn't keep the tightness the same for each roll. Ideally they should be all at the same height. 



6. brush with egg wash and bake at 400f for 15min, 350 for 30min, tent with foil for the last 15 so the top doesn't get too dark. unmold immediately after bake, cool on rack. The loaves are so soft I was afraid to touch them, but no fear, they are infact baked through.



 


This kind of soft bread is great as a snack, or smeared with some PB and J, or just pulled off piece by piece and eaten plain like we did. We often think of sourdough breads as the crusty lean loaves (which I love too), but sourdough is just a method to raise the dough, it can make any type of bread, including enriched ones. This bread is like the sourdough pandoro and sourdough challah I made before, rich and tangy.



Comments

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

The crumb does look very similar to the pandora bread!


Sylvia

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Yeah, it's like that pandoro, but less rich, and less sweet, hence easier to make

louie brown's picture
louie brown

farmer, that is a beauty, and a great lesson in the adaptability of sourdough.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks! Recently I have been practicing sourdough baguettes, sourdough rye, and sourdough Asian breads, very different texture, but raised with the same old starter.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi txfarmer,


These look gorgeous! With the orange zest flavouring and soft sweet crumb they also remind me a bit of panettone or would that be stretching it too far? Anyway it looks like something that would be good to both bake and eat.


I tried the barm starter at the very start of my baking journey but wasn't confident that I could leave it safely for several days. Obviously wrong there as you have put it to such good use over five days. I should try again, particularly as I now have a copy of The Handmade Loaf, after attending a workshop that Dan Lepard did locally.


Kind regards, Daisy_A


 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

It's sort of like pannetone, but less rich and MUCH less sweet, but the soft texture is similar. This barm starter really surprised me. So liquid, the flour to liquid ratio is 1:5, yet still so alive after so many days.

nova's picture
nova

Txfarmer,
I love how far you pushed your formula by using the barm starter...I have never used a barm but use a classic stiff sourdough for all my breads, especially sweet breads. Active and/or instant yeasts are challenged by high levels of sugar ( anything beyond 5-6 %m can reduce their effectiveness). Osmotolerant yeasts are best for rich sweet doughs. But natural leaveners are impervious to high sugar levels or fat levels. Only the gluten is affected...

The crumb shot you show of your finished bread and how beautifully it shreds is just lovely. I am tackling a Japanese marble bread that was published here many months ago. It features not only the brioche dough but a "baked" (in the microwave oven) layer than is sandwiched between the leavened dough much like lamination of sweet rolls and croissant. Then the laminated dough is proofed and into the oven.

Your commentary about the Chinese breads, how they are made and what the Chinese clientele prefer is great teaching for TFL readers. When I was at SFBI last spring on 2009, I wandered thru Chinatown and saw many of the Chinese bakeries but could not ask any Questions since most of the shop people did not speak English.

Thank you for all your background information!
nova

wally's picture
wally

when I saw the crumb shots.  But I see that the butter is much less, and the beer barm sounds fascinating.  Great bake as usual!


Larry

arlo's picture
arlo

I would love to try a slice of that loaf!

holds99's picture
holds99

Beautiful crumb development.  Your photos are amazing.  Thanks for the excellent and informative post.


Howard

MC's picture
MC

...you manage to combine the best of two age-old baking traditions. Hats off to you, txfarmer!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi txfarmer


I see exaxctly where you are coming from with this formula.   It's success seems to depend on an intensive mixing process, making it more akin to an "industrial" type loaf.   I mean this as a big compliment, please don't take it the wrong way!


Do you know anything about "4-piecing"?   For anyone not familiar with this, it is the method used to divide and mould dough pieces for the tinned loaves manufactured in the UK [and elsewhere, no doubt] in the plant bread industry.   Here's the explanation:


If you mould a 930g single piece, then the gas bubbles align from top to bottom.   If you cut this dough piece into 4, then mould and set each piece sideways on, as shown with the 3 pieces in your photo above, then the gas bubbles align themselves side to side on the crumb.   This has the effect of creating a more even and whiter crumb, due to the way the light is reflected.   To plant bakers, this is a big selling point!


Bottom line, and not being driven by plant baking, I am so impressed by the crumb structure you have achieved in this loaf.   Any commercial baker [plant or artisan] could only dream of being able to offer a product of this quality for sale!


Best wishes


Andy

yy's picture
yy

Hi txfarmer


I just bought a pullman pan, and I'm looking forward to using it for a nice, soft asian bakery-style loaf of bread. Do you have any recommendations for formulas and/or books that contain recipes for asian style breads? thanks!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Chinese books? I only know some available in China, no there in US.

M2's picture
M2

I have been silently enjoying your posts until now, and this time I can't help but say, your bread is gorgeous! 


I'd love to try this bread for myself, and also for my mom whom at her age can't bite into crusty bread anymore.


Thanks again for sharing!


Michelle


p.s. now I have saved a lot of your posts on my "to do" list. :)