I didn’t pick up the trend last lockdown, but during lockdown 2.0, I managed to try my hand at bread making. The small kitchen space in my studio apartment is one of the reasons I held off baking bread for so long. Often, baking simple cakes, or even just cooking in general, in the kitchen is enough to get me all agitated due to the lack of space, leave alone making something more complex like bread. Moreover, kneading a dough sounds so laborious and time-consuming! Patience in the kitchen is not exactly my forte. Nevertheless, it came to a point I wanted to challenge myself and expand my baking skills. So I reorganized my kitchen and managed to squeeze a little bit more space as a work station and started off my bread-making journey. I managed to test out a couple of bread recipes from a number of bloggers and want to share with you my successes! You can find the links to the recipes on the recipe credit.
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Here are some beginners’ tips that I found useful to get started:
If you’re rather impatient in the kitchen like me, instant yeast helps a lot when it comes to baking breads. First of all, as opposed to active dry yeast, instant yeast does not need to be proofed beforehand. This means you don’t have to dissolve it in lukewarm water for activation before use and can directly mix it into your ingredients’ mixture. That being said, it kind of allows more room for errors as instant yeast can survive hotter water temperatures in comparison to active dry yeast. Secondly, the dough rises much quicker than regular active dry yeast so that’s simply music to my ears! All in all, I had always felt handling yeast was a daunting thing, but instant yeast changed that perception.
All-purpose Flour vs Bread Flour
I had always I thought I must specifically purchase bread flour to make bread. But that’s not always the case. Obviously, it’s still dependent on the type of bread you’re making and some recipes do recommend using bread flour. Nonetheless, in many cases, plain/all-purpose flour suffices for many bread recipes.
The main difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour is the gluten level. Bread flour has a higher gluten level due to higher protein contents, which results in higher rise and a chewier texture in baked goods. Hence it’s ideal for bread-making.
I didn’t want to commit to purchasing a pack of bread flour to entertain my little bread-making test because I know for a fact that if I failed rather miserably, it would be a long long time before I give it another go. This means the pack of bread flour has a very high tendency to be left wasted in my kitchen cabinet. That’s obviously not ideal. So I stuck with all-purpose flour and am happy to report that it’s completely fine (at least for the below recipes).
Save Plenty of Reserve Flour
When kneading and rolling out a dough, it’s bound to get all sticky! It’s absolutely crucial to save a cup of reserve flour on the side so you can dust it over your hands and all over your kneading/rolling surface. Otherwise, it’s going to be a nightmare when it sticks all over your hands or breaks when you try to lift the dough up from the surface.
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Recipe credit: @jocooks
Hands down, these Cinnamon Buns are so good. No kidding it’s titled as a copycat recipe as they are literally a replica of Cinnabons’!
Admittedly, it got a little bit messy when I was trying to roll up the dough. There were moments where I thought the dough wasn’t holding up its shape and I thought I might have blown it coming so close to the finishing line. But in the end, I guess it was just down to inexperience and my clumsiness. These cinnamon buns turned out fantastic as you can see from the photos and tasted absolutely heavenly.
I’m not necessarily a sugary person so I reduced a tiny bit of sugar from the cream cheese frosting recipe – it ended up perfect.
The recipe yields quite a lot of buns and luckily there are freezer friendly. There are tips on freezing the dough on the original recipe linked above.
Recipe credit: @sallysbakingaddiction
Making pizza dough from scratch wasn’t really on my radar. But after a number of frustrations with local pizza deliveries plus the limitations of halal options, I decided to have my own go at it. It turned out much easier to make than I thought. My favourite type of pizza base is sourdough so I was trying to look for one but they’re all so long to make! Then that’s when I came across this particular recipe which I’m so keeping on the books to make again, and again.
The pizza turned out so beautifully soft and fluffy on the inside, with a flawless crisp on the outside of the crust. It only requires the simplest ingredients, i.e. plain flour, yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, and water. The work is quite minimal, no heavy kneading or crafty skills required. It’s one of the very few baking recipes that make me feel fuss-free.
I topped my pizza with a chilli tomato sauce base, halal beef salami, shallots, fresh mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano.
Hong Kong-style Sausage Buns
Recipe credit: @thewoksoflife
The English have their sausage rolls, and the Cantonese has their sausage buns. These sausage buns can be found at every Chinese bakery whether it be in Hong Kong or in Chinatown here. Unfortunately, it’s rather unlikely you’d find a halal version of these. But the good news is that you can make it at home rather easily!
I used chicken sausages here, though beef and lamb should both work nicely either. The likes of Frankfurters or other hot dog sausages would work best for this recipe. What I liked about this particular recipe is the milkier touch of flavours of the bun and also includes the secret to making that classic Cantonese glaze over the bread. It is certainly one to keep on the books.
Recipe credit: @cookist
So I was being lured into this recipe as it was titled no-knead bread. Well, but that’s a lie because it does require some kneading *lol*! But that aside, this is generally an easy bread recipe to make. It cooks on the pan, which makes me feel I have more control over it.
The first bread didn’t puff up the way it did in their video, and it took more kneading and by rolling the bread thinner to make it start to puff more. Nonetheless, the bread still turned out nice and fluffy (including that first bread). I brushed it with a bit of oil and topped it with sea salt, chilli flakes, and chopped fresh coriander – couldn’t get more perfect than that! It was so good to pair with the Butter Chicken I made that evening.