When it's rainy and stormy out, I'm the biggest homebody on the planet. I stay in my gym shorts all damn day and delay my treadmill run until there is a gentle slowing of the raindrops then scurry over (literally, scurry) to the building across the parking lot and run a bunch of miles listening to Ira Glass tell me stories about everyone and everything. Then I scurry on back, shower, put on a second set of gym wear (don't judge) and sit around. Sometimes it means studying, sometimes it means watching Chopped while eating a bunch of noodles. Whatever it is, it's not outside, and good luck trying to get me out of here.
Today I've discovered that the rainy days are great for busting out the yeast and baking some bread. I apologize for my lack of bread posts in this year so far, didn't I say I was going to play with yeast more often in 2016? So here is a much overdue carb-loaded post. It's a coconut milk bread - a soft, tender bread popular in Asian bakeries and something I've been meaning to try for a long time. It involves making a tang zhong, which is a combination of flour and water put over heat. It creates this thick mixture that I believe contributes to the bread's fluffy texture. I then filled it with bright flavors like lemon, coconut, and crystallized ginger, my personal way of welcoming in some springtime, even with all its rain.
Happy Saturday, hope you are cozy and surrounded by love this weekend.
Lemon ginger coconut milk bread, adapted from The 350 Degree Oven
For the tang zhong
- 1/3 cup bread flour
- 1 cup water
For the bread
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 cup coconut milk, warm
- Tang zhong, ingredients above
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided into 2 1/2 cups and 1 cup
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg whisked together for an egg wash
For the filling
- 1/4 cup lemon curd, I used this recipe, but you can always use store-bought
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup crystallized ginger
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
- Make the tang zhong - whisk the flour and water in a saucepan over medium heat until it becomes thick and smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir the yeast into the warm coconut milk and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should become activated so that the mixture is bubbly.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, mix 2 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom until well combined. Add the yeast mixture, tang zhong, egg and butter and mix until a wet dough forms. Knead the dough with a stand mixer, adding the additional 1 cup of flour over time if the dough looks too "wet". Once an elastic dough forms, pour the dough into an oiled large bowl and cover it with a towel, set aside for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size as it rises.
- In the meantime, make your coconut ginger filling - put the coconut flakes, sugar, ginger, and butter into a food processor and pulse a few times until an even filling forms. Set aside in the fridge until your dough is ready.
- Line two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. (Note: I made mine in a single 9x5 loaf, which proved to be too small of a pan for the entire dough to fit in properly. I would definitely do it in 2 smaller loaf pans next time so I have written it as such.)
- Flour a surface and punch down the dough once the dough is fully risen. Remove the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface and split it into six components. Roll out each ball of dough into a long rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread some lemon curd over the dough and then sprinkle with some of the coconut ginger filling. Starting on one of the short ends, roll up the dough (like a cinnamon roll), and then place the dough into the pan, seam side down. Each pan should have 3 of these roll-ups. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 45 min, until the rolls have doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Brush each pan with the egg wash, then place the pans in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and let them cool on a cooling rack until it is cool enough to eat. Enjoy with a large cup of coffee and the morning paper (people still use the paper in the morning, right?)