I’m not a morning person. I like to wake up as late as I possibly can- in the holidays and on weekends, this usually means at least 10 or 11am in the morning. I am barely awake during my first few classes at school in the morning and on days when I don’t have lessons in the morning, I’d much rather sleep for an extra hour than get to school to do some ‘productive’ work. But on this particular day, I was awake (only just) and in the kitchen at 8am. It was mothers day. ♥
I’d spent come time considering what to make my mother for mothers day- perhaps a cake? Cookies? A tart? A dessert? Or even dinner? As much as I loved the idea of cooking dinner for my mother, I knew that it definitely would not work for one reason: I have close to no experience in cooking. This would then mean is would spend three hours or so in the kitchen, making a complete mess, which would ultimately result in my mum cleaning up- and definitely not feeling very happy. I guess my cooking adventures could wait for another day.
I wanted to make something different- not something I’d made before and not another cake so I settled on something simple which I know she would like, and something which I’d been itching to try for a while now: raisin bread. But more than that, I wanted to keep it a secret, I wanted her to wake up to the smell of fresh, sweet bread baking in the oven and to serve hot, fluffy, soft bread for breakfast. Which shouldn’t have been such a hard thing- she wakes up even later than I usually do!
But surprises in our family never quite work out. For example, once, I decided to make a card for mother’s day. I'd put glitter glue on it so I had to put it in my cupboard to dry- on the exact same day my mother decided to look for something in that cupboard! Then there was the time I tried to make crème caramel whilst my parents were out shopping (actually, I was supposed to be home, studying for a test the next day) only my caramel burnt and my parents came home to a house which smelt like burnt caramel. And had to help me clean up all the mess I’d made.
This time, I was determined to make it work- I’d left enough time for the bread to rise and to bake. My bread machine is awfully loud so to make the process quiet enough so my mum would not suspect anything (no, waking up at 8 is not sus at all......) I decided to try hand kneading, for the first time. Although I love kneading, my hands get tired and then I get lazy so I usually spend ten minutes kneading the dough and throw the dough in the bread machine to knead for the next 20 minutes or so. This probably has the same effect as letting the bread machine do all the work, but I can't let the machine have all the fun!
I'd also chosen a recipe which used a sponge dough- that is, a mixture of flour, water and yeast which is proved overnight. Apparently, this produces a softer bread than the straight method. I’d made the sponge dough night before, and didn’t bother putting it in the fridge, because of the cold weather- by the morning it had only doubled in size. I wasn’t sure of how long I needed to knead the dough since I'd never done it before, but I thought that 40 minutes should be enough. The dough was wet when I started kneading, but after about 15 minutes, it started to become dry and I kept on having to add water- I think I’m starting to understand the dough a little better! By 40 minutes, the dough didn’t feel quite stretchy enough, and didn’t pass the ‘window pane test’ but I was scared that I wouldn’t have enough time for the proving so I kneaded intensely for the next five minutes and then left it to prove. I hadn’t considered that the cold weather would slow the rate of rise so much, even when I put it in the sun light so I ended up needing an hour and a half for the second prove. By then, it was past 11. Much to my disappointment, my mother had woken up and dressed up ready for an early yum cha (to avoid the midday crowds) so I had to tell her not to leave yet, as the bread was about to go in the oven. I told you, surprises don’t work in our household!
We had to wait another half an hour for the bread to finish baking but the wait was definitely worth it! The bread turned out very soft and fluffy and the raisins in it were surprisingly delicious! The bread was slightly crumbly though, which I think may be because I didn’t knead it enough and I perhaps also because the sponge dough was stiff. It still turned out better than most straight dough breads I’d made, and was delicious straight out of the oven. We had no trouble finishing it straight away between the three of us (although I’m pretty sure I ate most of it….) since my sister hates raisin bread
Unfortunately, my parents ended up having to wait for more than an hour for yum cha, but I’m sure it was definitely worth it!!
Golden Crown Raisin Bread
From Baking Code by Alex Goh)via Smallsmallbaker
note: I actually halved the recipe, and it worked perfectly with a 20cm pan....
Overnight sponge dough:
100g bread flour
60g water (room temperature)
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1. Mix the instant yeast with 20g of water until well-blended.
2. Add in the remaining ingredients and knead to form a dough.
3. Let it proof for 30 minutes.
4. Wrap with cling film and keep in the refrigerator overnight or up to 48 hours.
Golden Crown Raisin Bread
400g bread flour
100g plain flour
20g milk powder
10g instant yeast
100g overnight sponge dough
2 cold eggs
180g cold water
1. Mix ingredients A until well-blended. Add in ingredients B and ingredients C, mix to form a dough.
2. Add in ingredients D, mix to form a smooth and elastic dough.
3. Add in ingredients E, mix until well-blended.
4. Cover it with cling film. Allow it to proof for 50 minutes.
5. Divide it into 40g each. Mould it round. Place 8 pieces of dough around the side of a greased 20cm round pan, place a 60g dough in the centre. Allow it to proof for 50 minutes.
6. Egg wash the surface and bake it at 180 deg C for 20 minutes. (I also brushed honey over the buns 5 minutes before they were done)