SMOKED PAPRIKA SOURDOUGH

My sister Norma back in Brazil jokes that she would add smoked paprika to her toothpaste if at all possible… If you are in her team, this bread is for you. I did not add a lot, and feel that the bread could stand even more, as you will see in the comments. The scoring style, “Multiple Leaves”, was inspired by the one and only Morgi, from Israel. Check his quick video tutorial here.

SMOKED PAPRIKA SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

370g water
110g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
470g white bread flour
30g spelt flour
2 tsp smoked paprika
10g salt

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, paprika, and salt.  Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. You will notice the dough will gain quite a bit of structure even with just 4 minutes in the mixer. Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. Because the dough is already a bit developed from the initial time in the mixer, you should get very good structure after 3 and a half hours, or even sooner than that.

After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and score with a new razor blade, if so desired, or simply make a cut on the surface in the shape of a cross with a very sharp knife. 

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. You can generate additional steam by spraying the inside of the lid with water before closing the pan.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are into sourdough baking, I urge you to follow Morgi’s instagram page. His talent with artistic scoring is something! For many of his styles, he includes not only a photo of the finished bread, but a short video of the slashing, start to finish. It goes a little fast, but you can pause and even draw a sketch on paper as he goes, if necessary. For the multiple leaves, you can pretty much do whatever you like as far as spacing the leaves or keeping them close. I liked this scoring a lot because since the edges of the leaves are cut more deeply, and the veins very lightly, the bread will not ruin the design as it bakes: it will naturally open around the edges of the leaves. Very clever.

The smoked paprika gave a delicate pink hue to the crumb and crust, next time I might add three teaspoons instead of two, to intensify the flavor.

This bread was once again made with my basic method, which starts with a 4 minute kneading in the KitchenAid. The only modification I’ve incorporated was leaving it at room temperature for one hour before placing it in the fridge overnight. I notice a slightly more open crumb and more oven spring when I do that.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Cake to say I Love You, from Kim-Joy’s cookbook

TWO YEARS AGO: Lemon-Almond Cake with Cranberry Glaze

THREE YEARS AGO: The Iron (Uptake) Chef Challenge

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thank you!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Salmon Rillettes, a Classy Appetizer

SIX YEARS AGO: Linzer Cookies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Baked Ricotta, Take Two

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned

NINE YEARS AGO: Pork Ragu

TEN YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

PAIN DE MIE DRESSED UP TO PARTY

The idea for this bread came from a cookbook called “Le Grand Livre de la Boulangerie” which I recently impulse-bought.  I fell in love with one of the recipes and in less than 24 hours was trying it in our kitchen. It is a simple pain de mie (I modified a King Arthur recipe for it), but with bread dough decorations placed on top right before baking. Imagine the possibilities!

PAIN DE MIE WITH DECORATIONS
(inspired by Le Grand Livre de la Boulangerie)
basic Pain de Mie formula from King Arthur Flour)

175 g milk
260 g water
97 g butter
2 + 1/2 tsp salt
32 g dry milk
40 g potato flour
40 g sugar
650 g all-purpose flour
2 + 1/8 tsp instant yeast
fine charcoal powder (about 1/2 tablespoon)

Combine all of the ingredients, except the charcoal powder into the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and knead until fully smooth and with good gluten development (about 8  minutes).  Adjust with flour if the dough seems too loose.  The dough will be soft and pliable.

FOR THE BLACK DECORATIONS:  Remove 180 g of the dough and transfer to a small bowl. Knead by hand into it the charcoal powder (gloves are a very good idea!).  When the dough it nice and black, roll it out to about the dimension of a 9 x 13 pan (no need to be exact, the dough will be about 2mm in thickness). Place between two sheets of parchment paper or Silpat, and bake in a 450F oven for a couple of minutes, you just want to set it a bit.  Immediately remove from the oven and place in the fridge while you continue proofing the main dough.

Bulk proofing: transfer the main, white dough to a lightly greased bowl  and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 + 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Lightly grease a 13″ pain de mie pan. Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a 13″ log, and fit it into the pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it’s just below the lip of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, and work on the decorations. Take the sheet of black dough out of the fridge, cut it in any shapes you want, keeping in mind the dimensions of the top of the loaf.

When the dough is ready to bake, carefully place the decorations on top, close the lid and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, open the lid, and bake for 20 minutes more, until internal temperature is at least 190F (mine reached 200F).

Remove from the oven, take the bread out of the pan and allow it to cool over a rack before attempting to slice it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: First of all, let me tell you about the book. It is in French and in the words of one of the authors, Chef Jean-Marie Lanio, it is geared towards professionals and “home bakers with skills.” Don’t expect detailed instructions, it is basically a series of formulas with one word (yes, one word) to describe expected dough texture, one word to describe shaping, and a general expected timing for proofing. Truth is, you need to be very comfortable with baking in general (the book is not only on bread) to put it to use. But the recipes are stunning,  always some little twist to make each production unique and special. Come to think of it, baking from this book is like setting yourself up for a technical challenge. But with a huge advantage: no cameras around! Pretty much a win-win situation…


In their recipe, they use a pâte fermentée viennoise as one component and I did not have that around. Being the impatient being I am, I wanted to try the recipe right away. I also don’t have the Pullman loaf pan with the exact dimensions they recommend. So I went to King Arthur site, and from their basic recipe adjusted amounts, hoping for the best.  I am thrilled that it worked so well on  my first attempt. Trust me, that almost never happens in the Bewitching Kitchen.

Making the recipe exactly as described, and using the same pan I did (PADERNO 41750), you will be a bit unsure if it will work, because the dough will be pretty low in the pan as you shape it and place it inside. Don’t worry, in a little over one hour it will rise substantially and in fact I had to push down a little bit the top to make sure I could add the decorations and have some space between the top of the dough and the lid.  It worked perfectly well. The crumb is exactly what you expect from this type of bread, soft, a tad on the sweet side, and a bit buttery.

In the book, they gilded the lily a step further, by adding a line of white flour on top of the black decorations. I just could not make that work, no matter how I tried to deal with the flour (piping bags, piping tips, straws), my lines were never smooth and beautiful, so I skipped that part. I now wonder if rice flour would have worked, as it has a different texture. Anyway, I am super happy with the way it turned out, it’s a nice technique to play with. Imagine how many designs and even colors you can come up with…

As I hit publish and look at the date on my calendar, I realize that exactly one year ago I was being eliminated from a certain show in a certain tent. It is hard not to feel that sadness trying to hit me again, but this too shall pass… and a good bake definitely helps exorcize certain demons….

ONE YEAR AGO: Five-Stranded Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Olive Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Coffee Macarons Dressed up to Party

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

SIX YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!   

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

EIGHT  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

NINE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

TEN YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

BREAD: EPISODE TWO OF THE GREAT AMERICAN BAKING SHOW

SPOILERS INSIDE!
If you have not watch the show yet,
save this post for later…

For those who are not familiar with GABS, Bread is Paul Hollywood’s “thing.” Everybody who’s been on the show over the years is afraid of baking bread for him, for obvious reasons. I am not too worried about bread in general, but bread sculpture is a whole different story. I don’t like it, in fact anything with the term sculpture makes me go into hyperventilation. When I got the assignment for Bread and the showstopper was a sculpture based on the Twelve Days of Christmas I considered buying a one-way ticket to Mongolia. And some ultra-heavy coats. But before that happened in the tent, we had a signature bake and a technical.  Let’s talk about those.

SIGNATURE BAKE  

HOT’N CRUNCHY BREADSTICKS

We were supposed to present 12 breadsticks, all uniform in size, with a certain minimal length and we could make them crunchy or soft, it would be up to our personal taste. I opted for crunchy and went with a three-stranded braid, made with three different flavored doughs. Which requires me to share a very important statement with you.

The assignment was to last for 1 hour and 45 minutes. That obviously includes proofing time and baking. What possessed me to go for 12 three-stranded braided bread sticks? Honestly I don’t know. Of course, I practiced at home, I did it twice. I felt that time wise it was a bit tight, but doable. What I did not take in consideration was the Theory of Tent Relativity (TTR),  in which time shrinks at different rates depending on the Daring Factor (DF) of your bake.

I am tweaking this post after having watched the episode, so I know they did not show one particular moment in which Paul and Sherry visited my flour covered station a second time to see how things were going, and those penetrating blue eyes stared into mine and asked “do you think you have enough time to finish them?”  The look on his face left little room for doubt. He thought I was doomed. He then grabbed Sherry’s arm and told her they should leave me alone to work. And that’s when I realized I had no idea of how much time was left, but I knew the finish line was a lot closer than I hoped for. With a shiver up my spine, I tried to keep calm and braid on.

Did I say keep calm? Yeah, right. I braided like the Energizer Bunny would with a brand new battery and a full can of Red Bull. I baked those breadsticks at a higher temperature and took them out of the oven with less than 30 seconds to spare.  I was shaking inside and really upset at myself for designing a bake with such high probability of failure. Live and learn.

Now if you watch the show, you know that the REAL touchdown was scored by Tanya who got “the handshake.”  Actually, our group is doing pretty good! Handshake on the very first episode to Sarita, and again on Bread.  Tanya’s breadsticks were gorgeous, elegantly twisted, with a sprinkle of cilantro all over, and deliciously hot. Yes, we get to taste each other’s bake once it’s all said and done. Rather… done and judged!

In the future I will share a modified version of this recipe in which I dealt with the problem of excessive moisture in the Kalamata olives. Stay tuned, these breadsticks are a bit labor intensive, but I now made them five times and everybody loves them.

TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

COB LOAF

Reading the recipe, I remember feeling so good about it, I felt I was going to surf through like a pro (famous last words). It is a simple, straightforward bread, just using what seemed like a huge, almost excessive amount of herbs (it was not, it tasted amazing!). I had no issues with mixing the dough, it proofed nicely, it shaped nicely. Then, in the final last step, slashing the surface in the criss-cross pattern, Sally had a bad, very bad intuition about it. I slashed it in a way that was probably perfect, but then I went back and essentially murdered it. Why did I do that? Because I thought that cob would indicate a flattish shape, pretty much like cobblestones that covered the streets of London in the 1700’s. Brilliant. I thought I was nailing it, when instead I was adding a nice nail to my own coffin. Even when I placed my poor specimen of Cob behind my picture, I was feeling good about it. But when Paul came in and described the perfect Cob as a plump round loaf, I felt a strange coldness inside my soul. Like a Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming” sensation.  So the last in technical was not surprising. But not very easy to take either.

Not everything was bad about the technical, though. How often do you see a 4ft 11 +1/2 inch female beat a former football player in arm wrestling? There you go.

Free entertainment for the viewers, thanks to a very sneaky camera I had no idea was in play. What? You think Mr. Spice let me win? Seriously? Nah… I cannot possibly take another blow to my ego.

 

SHOWSTOPPER CHALLENGE

GOLDEN ORNAMENTS CHRISTMAS TREE

I was not looking forward to that challenge at all. Coming last in technical the afternoon before made me very anxious, I knew I had to do a good job, because a bad bread sculpture would easily destroy any good performance brought by my breadsticks. Every person who gets last in technical is immediately at risk of being eliminated, so I went into the tent with a very heavy weight on my shoulders.

At home, I practiced the sculpture three times, which meant over 13 hours devoted just to one assignment of the show. The rings went from full braids to twists, back to double braids, the way to shape them and proof them was also a bit tricky. I wanted them to look as proportional as possible to the tree.

The tree posed problems to bake perfectly. That component I made in fact five times at home, trying to get a good balance of taste and proper texture for it to stand up. Not easy, and don’t think I got there at showtime. And the ring bases in the show could have a lot more fruit, but at least it allowed me to pass safely through another episode.

Sherry liked that the sculpture had movement, as the rings kind of bounced a bit as I walked to the stand. That bit did not make it in the final edition of the show, but it will stay in my mind as a gentle pat in the back.

And with that we come to the person being eliminated second.

My very dear Carlos, fellow South-American, kind, warm-hearted and oh-so-witty! Carlos brightened up our time in the tent and the very long hours off-filming hanging together in what could be called “the green room.” He always came up with ways to pass the time. For instance the first time we were sitting in those stools waiting for the technical judgment in CAKE, we were sitting there for a long time. Staring at our photos standing in front of us over the bench. So Carlos starts making up captions for the photos, trying to decide what each person looked like. It was hilarious and he hit all very very well. Here is mine:  Hollistic Alternative Medicine Therapist!  Me, of all people!  But I gotta admit, he hit it perfectly. Here are the others so you can pay attention next time the show is on…. Helen is running for Office…. Dana is running for City Council… Tanya hosts a Farm to Table Blog…. Marissa is ASB President….  Alex depicts the best Linkedln profile picture… Brother Andrew is a Missionary to indigenous unreached peoples, and Carlos (according to Marissa) is a contributor to High Times Magazine…

So, as you can see, we found plenty of ways to keep ourselves entertained, and Carlos was a huge part of it. He started his food blog recently, where he mixes recipes with pretty deep thoughts about himself and the world. A unique guy that I am so glad I had the chance to meet. I always tell him he could be a fantastic writer for stand-up comedian acts. We, and almost all bakers in the group have kept in touch pretty much daily since we left London, and there is not a day that goes by without Carlos making me laugh with a remark about something, from stuff that happened in the tent to things we are exchanging about our current bakes.  I feel lucky to be part of this small community of baker-addicts.  Yeah, that’s what we are…. Carlos, it was very sad to see you leave the tent… You are my favorite male Peruvian baker on this season! (wink, wink)

ONE YEAR AGO: Apple and Sobacha Caramel Dome Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Cocktail Spiced Nuts

THREE YEARS AGO: How the Mighty Have Fallen

FOUR YEARS AGO: Festive Night at Central

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Perfect Boiled Egg

SIX YEARS AGO: Light Rye Sourdough with Cumin and Orange

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Homemade Calziones

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

NINE YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

TEN YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PANETTONE, WILD YEAST VERSION

It is almost that time of the year, my friends! I firmly believe that Brazil might be the number 2 country in the world with the highest consumption of panettone in the month of December, losing to Italy, but barely so. They are obsessed over there. Odd bird that I was, I did not care for it until I was about 30 years old.  Now, not only I love it, but I am partial to the authentic version. No chocolate chips for me. Of course, I won’t be mad if you modify this version to include them. I  am open-minded, your chocolate chips will be fine with me!

Timing for the process:
Mix and ferment first dough: 12.5 hours
Mix final dough: 30 minutes or longer
First fermentation of final dough: 1 to 1.5 hours, with folds every 20 – 30 minutes
Divide, rest, and shape: 25 minutes
Proof: 4 – 6 hours at 80F, or about 12 hours at room temperature
Bake: about 40 minutes
Hang/cool: several hours

Time consuming? Yes. Very involved process? Yes.
Worth it? TOTALLY!

PANETTONE
(very slightly modified from Wild Yeast)

yield: two large loaves, best if baked in paper molds
(available at amazon.com)

for starter:
20 g mature stiff (50%-hydration) sourdough starter
20 g flour
10 g water

Mix all ingredients and ferment at 85F for 4 hours. Repeat feedings at 4-hour intervals, each time discarding all but 20 grams of starter, and feeding it with 20 grams of flour and 10 grams of water.

To feed the starter for a whole night, use only 10 g starter with the flour and water, then leave until next morning. Make sure that the final feeding right before you make the dough happens 4 hours before, so that the starter is at its peak. When you are ready to make the final dough, prepare enough starter using these proportions to have enough to use (make a little over 100 g to allow for  eventual evaporation)

First Dough Ingredients:
346 grams flour
190 grams water
1 gram (1/3 teaspoon) osmotolerant yeast, or 1.3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast
85 grams sugar
55 grams egg yolk
7 grams (1.5 teaspoons) diastatic malt powder
85 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
90 grams sweet starter

Final Dough Ingredients:
all of the first dough
82 grams flour
5 grams (7/8 teaspoon) salt
25 grams egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
zest of a medium orange
115 grams water, divided
82 grams sugar
126 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature (pliable)
20 grams honey
126 grams raisins
150 grams candied orange peel

Glaze Ingredients (optional)
42 grams granulated sugar
3 grams (2 teaspoons) ground almonds (or almond flour)
3 grams (3/4 tsp) vegetable oil
3 grams (1/2 tablespoon) cornstartch
3 grams cocoa powder
15 g egg whites
1/8 tsp vanilla paste

Topping (optional)
powdered sugar
Swedish pearl sugar
whole blanched almonds

Make the starter over a period of one to several days. Its final feeding should be given 4 hours before mixing the first dough.

Prepare the first dough the evening before baking: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the first dough ingredients just until combined. Cover the bowl and ferment for 12 hours at warm room temperature (about 72F), or longer for a cooler room. The dough should more than triple in volume.

Make the final dough: To the first dough in the mixer bowl, add the flour, salt, egg yolks, orange zest, vanilla seeds, and 40 grams of the water. Mix in low speed until the ingredients are just combined, about 3 minutes.

Turn the mixer to medium speed, mix for a minute or two, then continue to mix while slowly adding the sugar, in about 5 or 6 increments. Mix for one to two minutes between additions.

Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and the gluten is almost fully developed. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the butter. Mix for a minute in low speed, then in medium speed until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough and the gluten has reached full development (forms a nice windowpane when gently stretched).

In low speed, add the honey, and about half of the remaining water. Mix until the water is fully incorporated. Add the remaining water and mix until it is fully incorporated. At first it will seem very soupy, do not worry about it, keep mixing and it will end up very smooth and nice.

In low speed, add the raisins and candied peels, mixing just until they are evenly distributed. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container (preferably a low, wide one, to facilitate folding). Ferment at warm room temperature for about one hour, folding the dough after the first 30 minutes. If the dough seems very loose, fold it at 20-minute intervals instead.

Turn the dough onto a buttered surface. Divide the dough into two pieces, and form each piece into a light ball.

Allow the balls to rest (may be left uncovered) for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, if baking in paper molds (recommended) skewer them in the lower third portion with  two wooden skewers inserted in parallel. They will hold the panettone after baking upside down to keep the shape. Shape the dough into tight balls and place into the skewered molds.

Proof at 80F for 4 – 6 hours (or about 12 hours at room temperature), until the tops of the dough domes are even with the top of the molds and the sides are an inch or so below the tops. When the dough is nearly fully proofed, preheat the oven to 350F, with the rack in the lower third of the oven.

To mix the glaze, whisk all ingredients together. Pour, brush, or pipe the glaze evenly onto the top of the loaves. Sift powdered sugar generously over the tops, then sprinkle with pearl sugar and garnish with whole blanched almonds.

Place the loaves directly on the oven rack and bake for about 35 – 40 minutes, until the tops are dark brown and the internal temperature is 185F. If the tops are already quite dark after 25 – 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 325F.

While the panettone is baking, set up your hanging apparatus (See above). When the bread is done, hang them as quickly as possible. Allow the panettone to hang for at least four hours, up to overnight.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I urge you to visit Susan’s site (Wild Yeast) for her original post on the subject, as she goes through many small details I omitted, just to make this post slightly shorter.  I actually made the panettone three times last year and had some issues when I baked using a regular metal tin (as shown in the composite picture above).  The issue was un-molding and having the baked product keep its shape. It simply did not happen. The crumb is very delicate as it comes out of the oven and in both situations I had the loaf forming a very unattractive fold, in which the crumb got compressed and deformed. Did it affect the taste? Not at all, but once that happened (twice), I decided that baking in paper molds is definitely better. It makes cooling – inverted in the mold – a lot easier.

Just make sure you have a large enough pan to hold it. I should also say that for this third bake I halved the full recipe and made one single large loaf. Panettone will always be bittersweet for me, as last year I baked one and shared with people from the lab, sent some to Aritri and she loved it so much I gave her a whole loaf later. At the time she was already quite sick and her parents were in the US to help take care of her. They all loved the panettone, I believe it was their first time trying it. If you’ve never baked one, don’t let the apparent complexity of the recipe scare you. Keep in mind it’s an enriched dough with a lot of goodies added to it, so the process must be taken slowly, if you try to speed it up, the final product won’t be as good. Patience is key.

Susan, I know you are not blogging anymore, and I really miss your bread-wisdom in the blogosphere, but maybe this post will give you a smile knowing that your recipe was baked several times in the Bewitching Kitchen! Thank you!

ONE YEAR AGO: Turkey Chili Under Pressure

TWO YEARS AGO: Tiramisu Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Cider Mini-Cheesecakes with Caramel Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Rustic Ciabatta and Mini-Meatloaves

FIVE YEARS AGO: Green Rice

SIX YEARS AGO: Potato-Crusted Italian Mini-Quiches

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Beetroot Sourdough for the Holidays

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cod Filet with Mustard Tarragon Crust

NINE YEARS AGO: Soba Noodles: Light and Healthy

TEN YEARS AGO: Potato-Rosemary Bread

BLACK SESAME JAPANESE MILK BREAD

Have you heard of the tangzhong method to make bread? It is a Japanese technique that cooks part of the flour before incorporating it into the dough, causing the starch to suffer a change in structure that retains water more efficiently, so the bread will be very soft and have a longer shelf life. This recipe was on my friend’s Dana blog and I jumped on it almost immediately because the way she spoke about the black sesame paste made me realize I needed that in my life. Badly. The bread ends up with airs of a showstopper creature, but it’s really not complicated to make. And the flavor? My gosh. You need that black sesame paste in your life also.

BLACK SESAME JAPANESE MILK BREAD
(slightly modified from Wakeandbakemama)

for the black sesame paste (can be made the day before):
½ cup toasted black sesame seeds, finely ground
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened

for the tangzhong:
6 tablespoons
water
2 tablespoons bread flour

for the dough:
1/4 cup whole milk
1 + 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
320 grams bread flour, plus up to 30 grams more
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered milk (optional)
2 eggs, 1 for the dough and 1 for the egg wash
2 tablespoons butter, softened
splash of milk or water, for the egg wash

Make the sesame paste.Finely grind the black sesame seeds in a spice grinder. Add the sugar and softened butter. Pulse to make a paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside. You can refrigerate this in advance. Before using, bring to room temperature to ensure it has a spreadable consistency.

Make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, whisk together 6 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of bread flour until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. It should thicken to a gel-like consistency after just a few minutes. As soon as lines appear in the mixture when stirred, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a small, clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature.

Make the dough. Heat the milk briefly to just above room temperature, about 110° F or lukewarm to the touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set it aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.

In the meantime, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the bread flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl or a measuring cup, whisk together the tangzhong, cream, milk powder (is using), and one egg.

Add the yeast mixture to the wet ingredients, and whisk gently, just to incorporate. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in all of the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a loose, shaggy dough, then switch to using your hands. Knead for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough forms a semi-smooth ball. The dough will be quite sticky — sprinkle the extra 1/4 cup flour, a tablespoon or so at a time, over the dough and your hands as you knead to keep it from sticking too much. I usually use at least 2 tablespoons and often up to the full amount, but you may not need it all.

Add the butter to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, kneading after each addition. Add the second tablespoon of butter only after the first has been evenly incorporated. The dough will be slippery and messy at this point, but just keep kneading and it should eventually form a soft and pliable dough that’s easy to work with. Knead for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled.

Once the dough is doubled gently deflate the dough and roll it out as a large rectangle. Spread the black sesame paste all over it, leaving a small border free of paste. Roll the dough from the long side, forming a cylinder, with the seam down. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough almost all the way through, and open the halves, exposing the center.  Twist the two strands around, making sure the inner layers are facing up.  Carefully drop it inside a loaf pan (9 x 5 in works fine), and allow it to rise covered for another hour, hour and a half.  Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350F.

Whisk your second egg with a splash of milk or water, and brush the egg wash over the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden-brown on top. Internal temp should be 200 degrees F. Let it cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!