Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Barley Tea Loaf Bread

flower power!
I'm posting about breads yet again. I think I make breads, like, 4 times a week and consume just as much. Maybe you haven't noticed, but I'm such a bread lover--dessert too of course. But making breads feels different; I feel joyful and excited. Which part of the process, you may ask, I'm not exactly sure. It's everything there is to it--the feel of the smooth satiny dough, seeing it rise before your very eyes, shaping them, the fragrant scent of freshly baked bread and ooh the favorite part, getting to taste them piping sure can't get any fresher than that!
These dinner rolls I made, impulsively, are for a family friend. Impulsively because I just felt like giving and there's truly a lot of joy in sharing, especially something freshly homemade. Sharing your creation and seeing them enjoy it is so heartwarming; it entices me to get better in this craft--as if I needed more push!
Anyway, here's the subject of the post:
This is a Barley Tea Loaf. I used young barley leaves in concentrated powder form, they come in small individual packets of 3g each. I was told that they're not available here in the Philippines (I got my supply from the US), but hopefully some special health food stores will have them soon. Barley leaves are said to lower cholesterol and aid in better digestion. It tastes much like japanese green tea and also has the same dark moss green color. I find it unsually tasty and full flavored. It gave the bread a nice green color and a sweet earthy scent. One packet is strong enough for one loaf, not too overpowering, but not too subtle a flavor either. The wholemeal added fiber and bite, while the clean sweetness from granulated sugar gave way for the barley tea to be the primary taste.
I used a 13 x 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch loaf pan, the risen dough will not reach the brink of the pan, so trying to condense it by slipping the cover will not be possible. Personally, I like them free formed. I like how the top domes a bit and you're free to put garnishes and also not having to worry about sides and top shrinking, which is an unavoidable factor with condensed loaves.
Barley Tea Loaf
2.5g yeast
200g water
1 packet young barley leaves (in powder form)
50g white sugar
2 T unsalted butter
3.5 g salt
30g wholemeal
250-280g bread flour

1. Dissolve powdered barley leaves in water, add yeast.
2. Dump in the rest of the ingredients, holding off 30g of bread flour.
3. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding bread flour gradually, if needed.
4. Let rise until doubled, 30-40 minutes.
5. Gently punch down, let rise for the second time, 30 minutes will do (this basically refines the gluten development, giving a better crumb).
6. Gently deflate again and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape and pan.
7. Let rise for the last time, until the dough springs back slowly when touched. Bake in a 350deg F oven for 25-35 minutes.

Egg wash is optional, because of the greenish color of the dough. Still, like I did, you may apply egg wash to give it a definite shiny finish.

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