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BAKED CHICKEN EMPANADA

100

BY Rowena Taylor

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water

Filling:

  • 1/2 kilo boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup potato, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 Knorr chicken cube
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

PROCEDURE:

  1. You need to cook your filling first in order for you to give it time to cool then to chill before using.
  2. To begin, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Add in the diced chicken breasts, then add in the salt, pepper and the Knorr cube. You can add in a couple of tablespoons of water just to help with the cooking but do not add more than that since you do not want your filling to be soggy.
  3. Next, once the chicken is halfway done, add in the rest of the ingredients for the filling. Cook the vegetables (potatoes and carrots) only until al dente. Remove from heat and let cool. Place the filling in a strainer placed above a bowl to drain away any excess liquids.
  4. Now, you will need to assemble the dough. In your mixer or food processor, mix together your dry ingredients. Next, slowly add in your butter, mixing until you have what can be considered a coarse meal texture.
  5. Slowly drizzle in your cold water until a ball of dough is formed. Remove from your food processor or mixer and shape the dough into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. You can also chill your filling at the same time.
  6. Preheat your home or bakery oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius before you assemble your empanadas.
  7. To assemble, remove your ingredients from the refrigerator. Cut the dough into half then into quarters. Form each quarter into a ball then roll out with a rolling pin. The thickness of your dough should be about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick.
  8. Cut out 6 to 8 inch circles in the dough using either a cookie cutter or any round item you have with that diameter and a knife.
  9. Fill each circle with enough filling, but not too much. About two tablespoons per circle will suffice, give or take. Seal each empanada by crimping the edges. You can brush the edge of the crust with a drop of water before sealing to ensure proper closure before crimping.
  10. Place your empanadas on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush the top of each with egg wash before baking.
  11. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of your empanadas are shiny and golden.
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DO’S AND DON’TS OF MAKING EMPANADAS

101

BY Rowena Taylor

An empanada consists of two major parts – the crust and the filling. While these are commonly seen everywhere, these are by no means that easy to make. The creation of this particular pastry comes with its own set of challenges, and these tips and tricks for making empanadas may just help you overcome these.

Dough Tips

  • To avoid dough that is crumbly and difficult to work with, try to stick with a shortening/butter to flour ratio of 1/2 cup shortening/butter to 3 cups flour.
  • Always make your dough from scratch and fresh every time you want to make empanadas. Frozen and pre-processed doughs may be quick to use but not as good as fresh or home-made dough for empanadas.
  • When making dough for your pocket pies, skip using baking powder or baking soda. Your empanada may have the rise that you want but it will be hollow and too airy if you do so.
  • Some people use oil in creating their empanada dough, but this is not a good idea. This will not give you the kind of texture that usually comes with this pastry.
  • It is a good idea to use shortening if you are thinking of frying your empanadas and butter if these are to be baked.
  • You should always refrigerate your baked empanada dough for a couple of hours before rolling these out. This will ensure that your dough holds together better when baked. Also, in your baked empanada dough, it is a good idea to use cold water as a binder and not lukewarm water.

Filling Tips

  • When you are making your empanada filling, keep in mind that moisture should be kept at a minimum. To ensure that your filling won’t be too watery, place this in a strainer as it cools, which should be for about an hour.
  • Always cool your filling before assembling your empanada. The steam from a hot or warm filling may cause your pastry to become soggy and it may cause this to fall apart.
  • Never skimp on quality when it comes to your fillings. Since you will only be using a small amount of this in every dough pocket (approximately 2 tablespoons per pouch), it is important that the flavor and quality of the filling is the best you can find and produce.
  • Don’t use fillings that are too chunky. Small pieces are better when it comes to empanadas, so ground meat, minced vegetables, and the like, are ideal when making fillings for your empanadas.

Assembly Tips

  • It might be a good idea to chill your filling before using these in your empanadas. Not only will these be easier to handle but it will also be the right temperature once the empanada dough is cooked.
  • Never overfill your empanadas. If you are unsure of the amount of filling that your circles of dough can handle, experiment with a couple and see what the right amount is before producing en masse.
  • To ensure that your empanadas hold their shape well while baking or frying, refrigerate the assembled pouches for at least half an hour before cooking. This will help the dough hold together better.
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FINDING OUT MORE ABOUT THE EPIC EMPANADA

102

BY Rowena Taylor

If you are a fan of siopao, like eating meat buns, and enjoy munching on pocket pies, then you will definitely need to add empanadas to your list. An empanada is a pastry that is filled with a variety of fillings, with some having pork or chicken in them, and others having cheese, seafood, and even vegetables in them. The choice of filling is dependent on whoever is making this pastry, but the most common ones you will find being sold in the country are those that are filled with pork or chicken.

These are usually fried in hot oil, and have a puff-pastry like texture. The usual form these come in is in the shape of a half-moon, with a crimped or braided edge crust which is usually very crisp. These can also be baked, with more of a pie-like consistency to it and a glossy, egg-washed top.

These are usually popular in countries that have a rather Spanish heritage, like the Philippines and many countries in Latin America. This may be because this particular pastry is said to trace its roots to Portugal and Spain. The name itself, in fact, stems from the Spanish word “empanar”, which means “to wrap in bread”, which is generally what an empanada is.

The empanada was brought to the Latin American countries and to the Philippines by Spanish conquistadors, and these popularly handy snacks now have their localized versions in these countries. In Argentina for example, you will find local versions filled with a sweet corn and white sauce mixture called homita, while in Cuba, ground beef is a popular empanada filling.

The Spanish conquered countries are not the only ones that have these pocket pies on their menus of favorite things to eat however. Other countries like Italy and even countries in the Middle East have their variations to this as well. Some examples that can be called cousins of the empanada include calzones, samosas, and the meat pies that can be found all across Europe.

These days, in the Philippines, you will find empanadas in many bakeshops and bakeries. Some are baked, but majority are fried, as this is the easier method of cooking up these pastries. Most of these use standard pastry that is also used to create pies with, and these are usually sold for morning or afternoon snacks. The usual size of these pastries being sold in the country are small enough to fit in a person’s palm, and are sometimes called pocket pies, due to the fact that they are pocket-sized and are also pastry pockets filled with goodness.

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THREE TOAST RECIPES

103

BY Rowena Taylor

*French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 8 thick slices sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey, granulated white sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Procedure:

  1. Combine the eggs, flour, milk, salt, honey (or whatever alternative you are using), vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  2. Dip each bread slice in the batter mixture, making sure that each slice is thoroughly coated. If you want a thicker toast, you can use two slices at a time when doing this.
  3. In a hot skillet, melt your butter and add in the oil. The oil will help prevent the butter from burning and browning too quickly. Fry each battered piece of bread until golden brown and crusty on each side.
  4. Serve hot and with a choice of toppings that can include more maple syrup, whipped cream, fruits, and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

*Open-Faced Cheese Toast

Ingredients:

  • 4 thick slices whole wheat bread
  • Cheese slices and/or grated cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, and Monterey jack)
  • Butter

Procedure:

  1. Preheat your home or bakery oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit or 250 degrees Celsius.
  2. Butter your thick bread slices on one side. Toast these in a skillet on your stovetop, or toast these in your oven for at least 3 minutes until the butter makes a toasty and crusty top on your bread slice.
  3. Place bread slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure to leave enough space between slices.
  4. Put the different kinds of cheeses on top of each slice of bread. Start with the mozzarella slices, then finish off with the grated parmesan on top.
  5. Place the baking pan in your preheated oven and let the toast bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheeses are melted. Serve warm.

*Cinnamon Toast

Ingredients:

  • 4 thick slices sandwich bread
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

Procedure:

  1. Mix together in a bowl your cinnamon and sugar.
  2. Slightly toast your bread slices in a skillet on one side before slathering butter on it.
  3. After spreading the butter on your toast, sprinkle your cinnamon sugar on top.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or in a toaster oven until the sugar on top caramelizes.
  5. Serve with whipped cream and banana slices.
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BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK – HOW TO MAKE THE BEST TOAST

104

BY Rowena Taylor

Okay, making toast may not be a baking trick and it may not even be considered baking per se, but it is made out of a baked item (sliced bread), so we are featuring it here. How do you make the best possible toast for yourself, for your family & friends, and for your customers (if you do consider serving different kinds of toast in your bakeshop/bakery/restaurant)? Here are some tips that can be quite useful:

In choosing bread, always use sliced bread as opposed to bread or loaves that you have to slice yourself. Try to find bread that is rather dense instead of light and airy since these will hold well better when toasted, and will produce a chewier and more filling product. Bread options that you have include whole wheat, multi-grain, and crusty breads that you can ask your baker (or yourself , if you have a bread slicer) to cut in even slices.

Try to find bread that comes in thick cuts. Steer clear of sliced loaves that come in very thin slices since these will burn easily and are not substantial enough for such toasts as French toast or Cheese toast. Aim for sliced bread that come in 3/4 inch slices or 1 inch slices, if these are available. If not, you can bake your own bread, or buy whole uncut loaves, and cut these yourself in these thicknesses.

If you have old bread at home, use these instead of newly bought bread for your toasting ideas. The toasting will revitalize your old, stale bread and will reduce wastage.

Don’t use a conventional toaster when you are creating thick slices of toast. All the more so if you are creating French toast or Cheese toast. You create these with the use of a toaster oven, a conventional oven, and a skillet on top of your stove. You can also use a broiler for this, if you have such a function available on your home or bakery oven, or if you have a turbo broiler. You can also grill your toast if you want to, but never do this with French Toast.

Don’t forget to flip at the right time or you will end up with a burned piece of bread instead of a toasty and golden brown slice or slices. For French toast, you need to ensure that the batter has turned golden brown on one side before flipping over or you will end up with a soggy mess. Incidentally, you also need to ensure that the butter and oil mixture in your pan is hot enough to prevent too much seepage into the bread when you make French toast, which will also make the end result soggy.

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THE MANY DIFFERENT FACES OF TOAST

105

BY Rowena Taylor

When someone mentions toast, the usual thought that enters your mind would be that of a piece of sliced bread that has been browned to a crispy texture. This is what ordinary toast is. A piece of sliced bread that has been cooked with dry heat to a point where some moisture is removed and crispiness is achieved. What you may not be aware of however is that this is not the only type of toast you can enjoy.

There are actually quite a lot of varieties of toast that you can have at any time of the day, and yes, these are not exclusive to breakfast alone. Although these are indeed popularly consumed at the start of the day, you can actually have these for snacks, as dessert, and with your favorite brew. It all depends on what recipe or type of toast you choose to consume.

To help you see what we are talking about, here are a few of the more popular toast types around:

French Toast – this is a kind of toast that is very popular among those who love pancakes and waffles since this seems to be a variation of those breakfast staples. Bread slices are dipped in a batter-like mixture of eggs, flour, and sugar, then the entire soggy slice is then fried in hot butter and oil in a skillet. The crispy yet soft result is then placed on a plate and topped with toppings, such as whipped cream, maple syrup, more butter, blueberries, bananas, or sliced apples.

Melba Toast – if you want toast that is extra toasty and crispy, this is what you want. After a first toasting, the bread slices are then sliced in half right down the middle, then toasted again. Some people choose to slather butter on top before toasting again, while others choose to let this have a cracker-like texture after the second toasting, which they then top with various options like cream cheese, smoked salmon, and even sliced tomatoes.

Cheese Toast – sometimes called by many as grilled cheese, these are actually sandwiches that have cheese and butter in the middle and butter on the outside. These are then toasted in a skillet on a stovetop and sliced in half before serving. Some people choose to use cheeses that melt easily with this particular toast, while some choose to use more than just one kind of cheese. The most popular cheeses used for cheese toast (or grilled cheese sandwich) include mozzarella, parmesan, Monterey jack, cheddar, and provolone. Some also choose to add ham to this toast, although that would make this a ham and cheese toast.

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EASY RECIPE FOR THE WEEK – WHITE LOAF BREAD

106

This recipe produces two medium sized loaves of bread.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

PROCEDURE:

  1. Pour the warm water into your standing mixer’s bowl, dissolve the sugar in this warm water, and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let this stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and is activated.
  2. Next, melt the butter on a stovetop or microwave. Add in the milk, and salt.
  3. Add a cup of flour to the activated yeast mixture. Stir to combine, then add in the milk, salt and butter mixture. Mix until a loose and lumpy batter develops.
  4. Slowly add in the remaining 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour one cup at a time, making sure to reserve a cup of flour for the kneading process. Keep mixing your mixture until a shaggy dough comes together.
  5. With the use of your dough hook attachment on your mixer, or with a dough kneader, knead the bread dough for 10 minutes. You can also knead your bread dough by hand if you do not have any of these.
  6. If your resulting dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour and mix. Repeat this until you get a dough that is no longer very tacky.
  7. Get a clean bowl and coat the insides with a little bit of oil. Roll your dough into a ball, turn it inside the oiled bowl to coat the top with the same oil, then place this inside the bowl. Cover with a damp towel or clingwrap and let rise in a warm spot or in a proofer for an hour.
  8. Once the dough has risen and doubled in size, punch this down, then turn this over on a lightly floured, smooth and clean work surface. Cut the dough in half and roll each part into a ball. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, or 218 degrees Celsius.
  10. Meanwhile, grease two loaf pans and place each dough ball in one, shaping them before doing so in order to fit the pan. Make sure that the tops of your loaves are taut. Leave your loaves to rise a second time in these pans for another half hour. The loaves should form a dome over the pans’ edges before you bake them.
  11. Before you place your loaves in your preheated oven, make a long shallow slice along the top of the loaf. Place your pans in the oven and lower the temperature immediately to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius. Bake for 30 minutes
  12. When done, these loaves should have a hollow sound when tapped from the bottom and should have a dark golden brown color. Remove your freshly baked loaves from the loaf pans and cool completely before putting in your bread slicer.
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SLICED BREAD TIPS AND TRICKS

107

When making bread loaves that are ideal for cutting with the use of a bread slicer, or bread that can be made into sliced bread, you need to make a specific type of dough that can stand up to the slicing motion of the bread slicer’s blades. This means that your bread should not only taste good, but also have the consistency that can help retain its shape as the slicer works on it, while at the same time be soft enough for people to enjoy eating.

To help you create the right kinds of loaves for creating sliced bread with, here are some tips and tricks that may come in handy:

Properly activate your yeast before creating your dough – there are many steps in creating the perfect dough for the perfect loaf of bread. It always begins with the activation of your yeast and this involves the use of the right components at the right temperature. Always begin with warm water and sugar. Make sure that your sugary water has a temperature between 95 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit for proper yeast activation. Once you add the yeast to the sugary water, let it sit for around 6 minutes, until you see bubble forming. If bubbles do not form, it might be a good idea to buy new yeast or reduce the heat of your water.

Don’t add the salt until after the first cup of flour has been added – salt and yeast do not agree with each other at all. This is why it is a good idea to hold off adding the salt until after you have added in your first cup of flour. This will help create a buffer between the salt and the yeast, preventing the salt from having an adverse effect on the yeast.

Never add too much flour to your dough – bread creation follows very specific measurements, and you should ensure that you follow these measurements accurately to come up with the best possible loaves for your sliced bread. You need only add or subtract very little due to humidity and other atmospheric issues, but you must never go beyond the requisite amount of flour needed for your loaves.

To make sure that you have crusty bread that is soft inside, leave your loaves in the oven for 5 more minutes after you turn it off – this step will ensure that your loaves have a crunchy crust but a soft inside.  If you want a softer crust however, remove your bread from the oven immediately after the time for baking is up.

Do not cut your loaves while it is still hot, cool slightly before placing on your slicer – never cut your loaves while fresh out of the oven. Cooling it slightly is required in order for your loaves to retain their shape and consistency.

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HISTORY OF SLICED BREAD

108

Some of you may know this particular type of bread by another name, such as Tasty or sliced loaf, but whatever name you use for it, this stays the same – a loaf of bread that is sliced evenly. These slices can be a thin quarter of an inch or a thick half an inch. No matter how thin or thick the slices may be, these sliced loaves make eating bread easier, which is why it is considered one of the greatest inventions ever.

How did sliced bread come to be? When did this become a common sight in bakeries and bakeshops worldwide? Who is to be credited for the creation of such a convenient way to eat bread?

In 1928, a man named Otto Rohwedder, invented a cutter that would slice loaves of bread easily. He first had this idea 16 years earlier, in 1912 to be exact, and after he presented such an idea to bakers near his home in Iowa, he found that the idea was not being met with the same enthusiasm he had for coming up with it. He was being laughed at and being told that bread that was pre-sliced would go stale quicker than whole loaves, so his idea was perceived as dumb.

He thought of a way to counteract the problem of bread going stale after being cut by suggesting that these be packaged immediately and in whole in waxed paper after the cuts are made. Bakers still did not like the idea, but he went and worked on making the machine anyway. Fast forward to 16 years later, and with bakers still leery of the idea, he was able to convince one bakeshop to use his bread slicing machine. A bread making company in Missouri, the Chillicothe Baking Company, agreed to sell the first batches of sliced bread on July 7, 1928.

With a little advertising and people eager to try out this new idea in bread, sliced bread became a resounding success. From that day forward, sliced bread has been a part of almost every bakery, bakeshop, and household, thanks to an idea that would not go away and a machine that became the standard for all bread loaf slicers that are being used today by breadmakers and bakers everywhere.

Now, you can see bread slicing machines that come with adjustable blade spaces to help make different widths in sliced bread. You can now see thick slices, thin slices, and medium slices. You can also see this machine being used on whole wheat loaves, white bread, multi-grain bread, and any type of loaf bread around. All thanks to a man who would not give up and would not let the disbelief of others dissuade him from following a dream.

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EASY RECIPE FOR THE WEEK – SOURDOUGH BREAD

109

INGREDIENTS:

Sourdough Starter

  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice, room temperature

PLUS

  •  1 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice

PLUS

  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water

PLUS

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

Loaf

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon clear honey
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • vegetable oil, for greasing

PROCEDURE:

To create the sourdough starter:

  1. Mix together the first batch of ingredients, which are the 1 cup bread flour and the 3/4 cup pineapple juice. Mix thoroughly then place in a clean, wide-mouthed jar. Cover the top of the jar with a paper towel then secure this with a rubber band. Let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.
  2. Pour the contents of your jar into a bowl, and feed the starter with the second batch of ingredients, which is half a cup of pineapple juice and 1 cup bread flour. Was your jar and dry thoroughly, then return the mixture to it, covering the top with a paper towel and securing with a rubber band. Let sit for another 24 hours.
  3. On the third day, pour the mixture into a bowl, remove half and discard. Feed the remaining half with the third batch of ingredients on the list. Wash and dry your jar, and return the mixture to it. Cover again and let sit for another 24 hours.
  4. On the fourth day, repeat the previous procedure – remove half, feed the mixture with one cup flour and half cup water, return to washed and dried jar, then store at room temperature for another 24 hours.
  5. On the fifth day, repeat day 3 procedure but this time, do this once every 12 hour interval. On the sixth day, your starter should be very active and ready to bake with. You will only need one cup of this starter for your bread. You can refrigerate the remaining starter, just make sure to “feed” this once a week.

To Make Your Sourdough Bread

  1. First, put the one cup starter into a clean bowl. Add in the 1 1/2 cups of warm water and 3 cups of flour. Mix this vigorously using a wooden spoon until totally incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and secure this with a rubber band. Let this mixture sit for at least two hours up to 8 hours. The longer you let your sponge mixture sit, the more sour it gets.
  2. Once your sponge has expanded, remove the cover and mix in the salt, honey, and one more cup of flour. Mix and slowly add in a bit more flour until you get a tacky dough.
  3. Pour out this dough onto a floured, smooth surface. Knead your dough for 4 minutes, let it rest for a couple of minutes, then knead again for another 4 minutes. Add flour as you are kneading to create a smooth and elastic dough. Don’t add too much flour. Just add enough to keep the dough from being too sticky.
  4. Grease a clean bowl, form your dough into a ball, and place this in your bowl. Grease the top slightly, then cover the bowl with a damp towel. Let the dough rise for a couple of hours.
  5. Once your dough has risen enough, remove from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, and cut in half. Shape each half into a loaf or ball. Cover again with a slightly damp towel, then let rise one more time. This should take another two hours.
  6. Preheat your home or bakery oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit or 233 degrees Celsius.
  7. Remove the cover on your loaves, place each loaf on the baking sheet, then score the top with a knife.
  8. Bake your bread in your preheated oven for 20 minutes. Once golden brown, turn off your oven and open the oven door a crack. Let your bread sit in the slowly cooling oven for another 5 minutes before removing to cool on your cooling rack.
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BREAD BAKING TIPS FOR LOAVES

110

If you want to bake the perfect loaf, there are a few tips and tricks that you can try to help ensure that whatever you bake comes out as flawless as possible. Baking a good loaf of bread comes with a lot of patience and practice. It also helps if you know some of the tricks that most expert bakers use to help in the creation of really great bread. Here are some of those tricks:

To ensure that you always bake really great bread, fresh ingredients are a must.

When putting together your dough, make sure that your ingredients are all at room temperature.

When you are measuring dry ingredients, like flour or sugar, do not use your measuring cup directly in scooping. Instead, use a spoon then place each scoop into the cup to measure these properly. Also, do not tap or press down your dry ingredients into your measuring cups unless when the recipe specifies this (like when you need a cup of packed brown sugar. Just fill the measuring cup to the brim, then level this off with a spatula.

Always follow the recipe precisely, and this includes not only the kind of ingredients that you use, and the amount of each ingredient to add to the mix. It also includes the heat of the oven you are to use and how long to bake your breads.

When you find that your loaves’ crusts are browning too quickly, you might need to put aluminum foil on the top to shield the bread from browning any further.

Never cut your loaves when these are fresh out of the oven. Always wait fifteen minutes before you cut these or even feed these to your loaf cutter.

To ensure that you have kneaded your loaf dough enough, check for elasticity by getting a golf ball sized piece, and try stretching it. If the dough breaks, it needs to be kneaded a bit more. Properly kneaded dough should have enough gluten in it to ensure that when you stretch it, a translucent piece that does not break.

To determine if your dough has risen enough, the ripe test will help you know. Press two fingers into the risen dough in your bowl up to your knuckle. If the indentations stay, then you can be sure that the dough is ready to be punched down.

To check if the loaf has risen enough in the loaf pan before baking, a similar test, but with a shallow pressing of the dough should suffice. If the indentations stay, then the loaves are ready to be baked.

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SIOPAO DOUGH

111

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups bleached all-purpose flour + 1 cup for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons shortening

PROCEDURE:

  1. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Next, make a well in the middle of this mixture and slowly pour in the water.
  3. Mix your dough with a wooden spoon just loosely enough to create what is called a shaggy dough.
  4. Place this sticky dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 12 to 15 minutes, just enough to make it elastic and smooth.
  5. Move your dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for half an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Once the dough has doubled in size, divide into 16 equal pieces, roll each one into a ball, then flatten into disks. These are now ready to be filled with whatever filling you choose to use.
  7. After filling, and giving it the signature creases at the top when closing the buns, place wax paper or parchment paper under each one.
  8. You will need to make each bun rise for at least 30 minutes covered with a thin cloth before steaming over high heat. To cook the siopao, 18 to 20 minutes in the steamer should be enough.
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