When the weather gets cold, my favorite weekend activity is baking a good loaf of bread. There is something about the smell of bread baking – the air is tinged with this light, yeasty smell, and because the oven is on, the room gets toasty. Lastly, cutting into a steaming, freshly baked loaf of bread is the best reward to a day of baking.
While more time consuming compared to other baked goods like cakes or cookies, bread is not hard or intimidating to make (even though it can seem like it is). The majority of your time will be spent allowing the dough to rise, and if you are like me, you can spend that time with a good cup of coffee and an episode or two of Friends.
This specific recipe has an Asian influence, and has a slight sweetness. This is definitely not a dessert bread, as I didn’t want this to feel like cake. However when toasted, this is an awesome option for breakfast with when spread with some softened butter and honey.
For those of you who are wary about cooking with yeast, let me give you some of my top tips before I jump into the recipe:
Yeast works best in a warm, somewhat humid environment. So this recipe is actually way easier to make in the summer for me since my kitchen will naturally be on the warm side. However, when the weather is cool, you can easily fake this environment by preheating your oven, turning it off, and allowing it to cool to a mild warmness. If you can stick your hand in it and not feel like you will be burned, the oven is ready. Simply pop the dough in, and let the yeast do it’s work.
Aside from your kitchen environment, the key to the success of this recipe is in activating the yeast before you even touch the flour. Many recipes I come across do not treat yeast properly. First of all, yeast is what causes this bread to be fluffy. Without activating it, you might as well not use it. Which is why it is so important to mix the yeast in warm liquid like I do in the first step. You know it’s good to go if there is a bit of a frothy texture on the top of the liquid after 5 minutes. That means the yeast is active and energetic. From there, you are good to go!
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 3 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbs matcha
- 1 envelope yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 1/2 tbs softened butter
- 1/3 cup sugar for filling
- 1/4 cup ground black sesame
- 1 beaten egg diluted with a splash of water
Step 1: Warm milk and water in microwave until lukewarm. It’s ready when it feels like warm bath water. Stir in yeast. Set aside 5 minutes to activate.
Step 2: Mix flour, sugar, salt and matcha in a bowl. Add yeast mixture, stir, and then the butter. Stir until combined. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. If you poke the dough with your finger, it should slowly bounce back.
Step 3: Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic leaves plenty of room for the dough to rise. Cover plastic wrap with a damp towel and raise for an hour or until doubled in size.
Step 4: Mix ground sesame with remaining sugar, set aside. When dough is fully risen, punch gas out of dough.
Step 5: On lightly floured surface, press dough into a large rectangle. You want the dough to be about a centimeter thick. Spread sesame mix over dough, leaving an inch of space on one of the longer edges of the rectangle. Roll dough into a log, moving towards the empty inch with the dough. This clean area of the dough will help seal the edges together. When fully rolled, pinch edges of dough together to create a seam.
Step 6: With a large knife, cut into the log. Leave one end intact. This will create a large, long V-shape. Take the two ends and start twisting them together. When fully twisted, pinch the edges together to keep the log intact, and then start rolling the log into it’s self to create a rosette. When the bread is fully wrapped together, pinch all end seams together to keep the ball uniform. Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Step 7: Dab the egg wash onto the clean parts of the dough’s surface, making sure to leave the sesame undisturbed. Cover with plastic wrap and towel and rise another hour.
Step 8: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In the mean time, baste bread again with egg wash. When oven is ready, place bread in oven and bake 25-30 minutes.
*If bread browns too fast while baking, cover top with foil.
*Tip for proofing bread: to help yeast work efficiently, let bread rest in a warm place. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, but then turn off heat a few minutes into pre-heating. The heat is right if it feels mildly warm, but not enough to make your hand sweat or burn you.