Tag Archives: Japanese Milk Bread

Bread Illustrated or Bread Porn from America’s Test Kitchen

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Japanese Milk Bread that came out a little wonky. My bad!

Nothing beckons like the aroma of bread. Remember the aroma fingers in cartoons? I spent the past week filling the apartment with enticing bread aroma fingers as I began to cook my way through Bread Illustrated, a must-have from the ATK Empire. Subtitled, “A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home,” Bread Illustrated is the perfect book for the beginner as well as a great reference book for the advanced home bread-baker.  I have been a bit leery of ATK publications since the departure of Christopher Kimball, but this is a winner.  All the recipes I tried work, but are they bakery quality.”?  Well, no. But they work beautifully in a home kitchen with no special equipment.

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Whole-wheat quinoa bread.

Furthermore, in every case, the recipe from Bread Illustrated produced a better loaf than I’ve ever made in the past.  Japanese Milk Bread (Hokkaido), for example, which appears at the top of the page, misshapen, is a great favorite of mine. (Think Challah without the braid.) The fact that it doesn’t have its usual baby-bottom shape here is not a failure of the recipe, but of my having been distracted. The taste and texture are marvelous.

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Japanese Milk (Hokkaido) Bread

Bread Illustrated is a volume in the very best of the ATK tradition:  sober and no-nonsense, and chock full of essential information presented in a straightforward manner with lots and lots of food science background.  And, of course, “Why this recipe works,” is the introduction to each and every recipe.

I began with breads in the chapter entitled,“Starting from scratch: 12 foolproof breads that teach the basics.”  I was impressed by the approach, and found the recipes are interesting, useful, and, in every case, very easy to make successfully.  If you are just starting to bake bread, you will encounter no discouragement, no brick loaf that will send you back to the store never to touch salt, flour and yeast again.

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Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread was a revelation. This is a bread that I have rarely ever cared for, at least not without mounds of butter and jam. It is normally dry and grainy and lacking any inherent interest. NOT! This one is absolutely delicious.

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Quick Cheese Bread lasted a single afternoon with Mr. Darcy!

I deliberately tried another bread that has never particularly called to me: Quick Cheese Bread. “Quick” and “cheese” as applied to bread will normally turn me off, because quick breads (breads without yeast) are usually too much like cake, and because I like cheese on top of bread, not in it. But this was a very good loaf, and Mr. Darcy loved it. So that’s that!

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New sandwich bread recipes are always welcome, and I tried four of them:

EasySandwich Bread

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Easy Sandwich Bread

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Easy sandwich bread

American Sandwich Bread

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American Sandwich Bread

Whole-Wheat Quinoa Bread

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Whole-Wheat Quinoa Bread

and my personal favorite, Pain de Mie.  “Mie” means “crumb” in French, so Pain de Mie is literally “crumb bread,” and means “soft bread” or “sandwich loaf.” It is named for its soft crumb, and baked in a lidded Pain de Mie or Pullman pan, which creates the shape and all-over crust. Pain de Mie is Wonder Bread perfected. It has both flavor and texture; it doesn’t tear when you spread peanut butter on it. It can be sliced thin or thick, and eaten toasted or un-.  It is one of the most tasty and versatile loaves on the plant, and did I mention easy?

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Pain de Mie, cooling.

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Pain de Mie, so perfect for sandwiches.

And for those of you who have been waiting for Christopher Kimball to reappear in his new incarnation, here he is at last and it was worth the wait:

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From Christopher Kimball, the inaugural issue of Milk Street Magazine.

I’m happy to report that the magazine is exactly what you’d expect from Christopher Kimball, and even carries his signature bow-tie on the cover. There is no advertising, of course. But don’t give up your ATK subscription; there is no danger of overlap.  Milk Street’s mission is to reach around the world for foods, spices, cooking techniques, and culinary traditions that we have always associated with “ethnic” restaurants, not our own homes, and to make them accessible for us in our own homes, using our existing batterie de cuisine.  In fact, I was amused by the article in this charter issue revealing something that I learned in Spain many years ago — that scrambled eggs (and I would add fried eggs as well) taste better cooked in olive oil than in butter.  So there you go! For those of us who don’t live near Boston and can’t go to the brick and mortar Milk Street Kitchen, Milk Street Magazine is about to change all of our home cooking preconceptions:  fasten your seat belts!

Freaking out over Freekeh (good) and the Cost of Edjumacation (bad).

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Over here at DishnDat, we love our grains.  Rice of all kinds, quinoa, tref, you name it.  But now I am freaking out over freekeh.  It is just plain old delicious!  It has more protein than quinoa, and it has a natural sweetness to it that is downright mysterious.  The photo above is of Poached Chicken with Sweet and Spiced Freekeh from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.  I’ve made it so many times, yet every time I am newly amazed at how marvelous it is.  I have taken to making the freekeh by itself and using it all week long, adding something different every day.  One night, it will be freekeh and chicken, another freekeh and tuna, or just plain freekeh with roasted vegetables.  Main dish, side dish, salad.  Hot. Cold. Yum yum yum.  And what a boon to those who like to prepare a week’s meals ahead of time.

Here’s what I do:  The secret is to slice a huge onion very, very thin.  Definitely a job for a mandoline.  Cook the onion in olive oil until the slices are very soft and start to brown.  Then add spices,  The Jerusalem recipe calls for allspice and coriander as well as salt and pepper. Then add  2 cups of rinsed freekeh, 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock, and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes; remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.  During that time, add bunches of chopped fresh herbs:  parsley, dill, cilantro, whatever you have on hand. Once cooled, put the freekeh in the refrigerator and remove some every night for dinner.  You can’t do anything to ruin it!

Just out of curiosity, have any of you wondered why private colleges these days cost upwards of $60,000?  I doubt the professors are overpaid, and I know that the teaching assistants and untenured faculty are certainly not.  So what’s the story?

Well, I had a glimpse into that world a few days ago.  A much younger friend asked me to go with her for a school tour at New York University. And, as an aside, I have to laugh.  When I went to college, NYU was barely good enough to be a safety school, and now it is one of the most expensive and most prestigious schools in the country!  Oh well. Good for them.  And good for the macaroni fortune that made it so.

But what costs so much money?  Well, for one thing, there is a 12-floor library, much of which is open 24 hours a day at all times.  There is a world-class performance center where students can purchase tickets at a deep discount for events not only on campus but throughout the city. La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, orchestra seat (real cost anywhere from $125 to $350) for $5.00. The facilities, at least from the lobby, are all beautifully clean and well-appointed.  But there must be something more, I thought to myself.  This alone does not cost $60K a year per student.   As our graduating senior tour guide kept us moving — from lobby to lobby — we never actually saw the inside of anything — it finally became apparent. And here it is:  swag. For example,  the residence halls provide constant distractions such as parties, activities on campus and off-campus designed to keep students happy; during exams, official “stress busters”  go around campus and give students massages, make them smoothies, and even bring around puppies for them to play with to reduce the stress of studying for exams.  “It sounds like a place for disturbed people,”  noted Mr. Darcy, as only he can.  And there is more. Lots more.   There are special and free services that help students write resumes to ensure that they get the jobs they want even if they are not qualified for them, prepare their taxes, help them handle their love lives, and do whatever else they are evidently completely unprepared to do for themselves.  Talk about in loco parentis.  Do they also wipe their bottoms?

Now please don’t get me wrong:  growing up is hard and I believe that children deserve all the help they can get.  But the operative word is “help.” I am a firm believer that universities should provide writing and math labs to help students close the gaps in their education; health facilities should certainly offer psychotherapy;   tutors should be available in all subjects.  But I am talking about help, which is to say, assistance, support, and guidance,  not doing everything for them so they never fail an exam, never get turned down for a job, never get dumped.  Everybody has to grow up. Everybody has to do the work — in the classroom, at the job, in relationships, and on the couch.  Stress is a part of life; so are disappointments.  Suffering is one way to learn.  Asking for help is another.  But smoothies and puppy dogs?  How does this help a young person grow up?

And to add insult to injury, not one of the beneficiaries or providers of this so-called quality education whom we encountered was in the least bit impressive.  Not one of them could speak a single sentence without a grammatical error.  “Me and my roommate gave a Halloween party.”  “You can hand in your application to Mr. So and So or myself.”  “I bought tickets for Sam and I.” “Financial aid determinations are based off of your FAFSA.”  As my all-time favorite blogger recently asked with regard to the recent rise in the misuse of the word “multiple”: Whatever happened to “several,” “many,” “more than a few,” or even “a lot of”?  And the ubiquitous “so” as the first word in any sentence.  I could go on, but if I do, I will throw up.

This isn’t education; it’s edjumacation. It’s just the lobby:  It’s a facade that is all for show.  It’s “visuals” and no substance. And it stinks. You think ISIS is scary?  I think stupidity and irresponsibility are even scarier. End. Of. Rant. For. Now.

On a brighter note:  Yesterday, I was in the mood for Japanese Milk Bread!

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Ah, the crumb shot!

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Hump? What hump?

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Holiday Treats and Japanese or Hokkaido Milk Bread


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Holy cow!  A new obsession!

But first, about those holiday treats and what a morning I had!

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The little jars contain yellow cake with ganache topping from Melissa D’ Arabian. The jars still have to be decorated.

Christmas is this week, which means that our annual New Year’s Day Open House is coming up, and I have to start my preparations.  First up, salted peanut brittle. This was the easiest brittle I ever made, and it’s made in the microwave.  Seriously.  It’s from King Arthur Flour.

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Salted peanut brittle.

An attempt at a second round went south:  I let it go just 30 seconds too long, and it was bitter. Into the garbage with it. Phooey.

I tried another batch, this time with almonds, sugar and cinnamon.  This one came out nicely. The recipe says you can use any kind of nut, and that seems to be correct.  I will be trying it with a variety of other nuts, and I will keep you posted.

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Almond brittle with sugar and cinnamon.

And for my next number, I tried a dark chocolate and ginger bark, also from King Arthur. What a flop. Five cups of chocolate seized and I had to throw it all out.  I could not figure out how that happened. Redemption later in the day? Whew. Yes.

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Dark chocolate and ginger bark.

But enough of the sweets .  Let’s move on to my new obsession:  Japanese Milk Bread. Have you seen this?  It is a high, soft and fluffy loaf.

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If Challah and Brioche got married and had a child, it would be Hokkaido.  It is also fun to make and quite easy. Always a plus!  The bakers in my FB Artisan Bread Group kept referring to Christine’s recipe, but there are recipes all over the internet, and I think I used the one from Food52.  I followed the directions exactly, except that I did not knead it by hand.  It worked perfectly.  Mr. Darcy swooned.  

Would I leave you without a crumb shot?

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This is not a bread with a structure sturdy enough for Mr. Darcy’s sandwiches, but he will definitely be eating it for breakfast and for his midnight snack.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I do believe that this bread calls for real butter.  Who said that?

And my happy thought for the week:  It’s possible that bread is not bloating or bad for you, and, in fact, not eating bread may cause harm.  Check it out.  I like it.