|The perfect children.. grrr|
Back in the early 60's, Wonder Bread was probably the fanciest store bought bread you could find, and kids LOVED it! Problem was that it was more expensive than other brands and needless to say, we rarely had it in our lunch sacks. Much of the time, Mom made our sandwiches on homemade bread or some other brand at the store that was quite dry and disappointing.
I've had this secret quest to find homemade bread that could be a suitable clone for Wonder Bread. Now, mind you, my Grandma Anderson's Ranch Hand bread comes super close, but this bread is nearly identical in texture - and oh, so much better in taste!
In Japan and other parts of Asia, bread is not a staple, but somehow these clever people have managed to create a white bread loaf that is slightly sweet, with a gorgeous, moist crumb. It is, by far.. the closest thing to Wonder Bread I have ever found.
|Soft Asian bread.. it's as good as it looks!|
It's actually very easy to make. This recipe makes one loaf and I follow the traditional method of making a roux ahead of time to add to the dough. I am guessing it is the reason for it's beautiful crumb. Don't worry - it's super easy. The original recipe calls for it to be mixed and kneaded by hand and if you choose to do it that way, great. The instructions below are for hand kneading, but it works just as well in a stand mixer. The hand kneaded recipe calls for slapping the dough on the counter after every 3rd or 4th turn. It really works well in this dough.. and helps to pull the gluten together. Certainly, get out your KitchenAid if you want to shortcut the process.
And here I go again, harping on the kitchen scale thing... This recipe requires a scale that has a Tare/Zero function and can measure Grams. You don't want to try and measure this bread by measuring cups.. 99 out of 100 times, you'll end up with bread far too dry and dense.
JAPANESE WHITE BREAD
100 ml water
20 grams bread flour
350 grams bread flour
1 TBS milk powder (I use King Arthur Flour Bakers Milk powder)
30 grams sugar
5 grams salt
2 tsp instant dry yeast
150 ml lukewarm water (may need more depending on dryness of flour)
30 grams chilled butter, cubed
NOTE: This bread doubles well, however, only use 3 tsp of yeast instead of doubling the yeast amount.
About 30 minutes before making the dough, measure water and flour into a small saucepan. Over medium/low heat, stir with a whisk until well blended. Switch to a spatula and continue stirring from the bottom of the pan. Mixture will begin to thicken like a very thick glue. Continue to cook for an additional minute. Set pan aside and allow it to cool to lukewarm - cover with plastic wrap when your pan is cool enough. You can refrigerate the roux up to 24 hours in your refrigerator. Just remove an hour before mixing your bread together to allow it to come to room temperature.
Measure all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using your spatula, add roux. Slowly add your water, reserving the last few teaspoons. Mix until the dough is entirely incorporated into a rough ball. Add remaining water or even a teaspoon or two more if needed. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and begin kneading. Your dough should be quite sticky. Don't worry if a bit sticks to your counter - don't add more flour - you won't need it when you're done kneading and slapping. The more you knead, the more your dough will come together. It will still be tacky, but not as sticky at the end. After every 3 or 4 kneads/folds/turns raise the entire dough ball over your head and slap it down on the counter. Continue to do this throughout the kneading process. Knead until the dough is silky smooth, about 10 minutes.
Shaping the dough is what gives this bread an authentic Japanese style. It also makes for an interesting pull apart loaf at dinner and is a real treat to serve along with soup or stew.
Prepare a standard bread loaf pan by greasing it generously. Set aside. Divide the dough into three or four even pieces. Use a scale to make each ball equal or close to equal in weight. Form each piece into a ball and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let your dough relax for about 10 minutes.
|Roll out each piece slightly wider than your pan. Tuck in the ends|
and place in pan.
When dough has relaxed, use a rolling pin and roll out each piece one at a time. The dough should be slightly wider than your bread pan so you have plenty of ends to pinch and tuck under as you place the dough in your breadpan. Roll each piece about 7-8" long and then roll up, jelly roll style. Roll up each piece tightly, pinch the ends together and tuck them in as you place into the bread pan. Dough should be barely touching. Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a draft free spot. If making a single recipe, this dough rises fast. In about 45 minutes you should be ready. If you are doubling the recipe, use only 3 tsp of yeast. Rising times may take slightly longer.
When the dough reaches the top of the pan, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Carefully remove the plastic and brush the dough with a beaten egg if you wish. You can also skip this step and just brush with softened or melted butter after it comes out of the oven.
|Ready for the oven. Don't let this bread rise too high. Just to the top of your pan.|
Bake your bread for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove to a wire rack immediately after baking. Let bread cool for about 30 minutes if you can stand waiting that long. Slice just as you would any loaf of bread or tear apart for giant dinner rolls!
Looky at how soft and squishy this bread is... I've found Wonder Bread Nirvana!
|Yes, it's THAT good! Take that you perfect Wonder kids!|