This super soft and milky Malunggay Bread will be your new everyday loaf of bread. At the same time learn how to make an indispensable roux starter to include in all your bread baking.
First lets start with what is Malunggay. It’s actually a tree and the small oval leaves from the tree are harvested to use in soups, stir-fries and even tea in Filipino Cuisine. It can also be used as additional flavoring in bread. The leaves are dried and leaves almost smell like they have been roasted and taste like slightly peppery tea leaves.
To make your own leaves take the leaves of the branches and lay out on a large baking sheet. Leave to dry out where you got lots of sunlight. It should take 2-3 days to dry out depending on how much sun you are getting on it. Move the leaves around through the day. If you can put the leaves outside making sure it’s not a windy day. Once the leaves are dry transfer to a glass jar.
Shokupan is the Japanese word for everyday sliced soft bread. It has a very distinct light soft crust and a cotton soft milky interior. It’s also known as Hokkaido Milk bread, possibly named after a famous Prefecture in northern Japan known for it’s milk.
The key to the softness of this Malunggay bread is Tangzong. A precooked roux of flour, water and milk. This roux locks in the moisture by creating a gel from the starches along with the high heat. It does all this without activating the gluten. It’s magic really!!
To make Tangzong you will need:
Mix all the ingredients together in a small sauce pan until there are no lumps. Put over medium to low heat and keep stiring with a whisk for 3-5 minutes until it starts to look like glue. When the whisk starts to leave lines on the pan through the mixture, its now down. Transfer to a bowl to cook down until it’s needed for the next step.
The ingredients you will need for Malunggay Bread are:
Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. Initially use the dough hook to lightly mix to make a shaggy dough, then put the hook in the machine and mix the dough for just 2 minutes. This lightly brings the dough together. You are now going to stop and cover it with a wet kitchen towel.
This process both relaxes your dough and helps activate the gluten strands without kneading. Leave the Malunggay Bread dough to rest for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes put the dough back on the machine and mix at speed 4 for 15-20 minutes until the dough is nice and soft.
Lightly grease a different bowl and take the dough out of the mixing bowl. Shape into a tight ball and place in the bowl. Cover with the same wet tea towel you used before and leave to rise for 1 hour.
To check that the dough has risen, lightly flour one of your fingers and then poke the middle of the dough. If the hole stays and does not bounce back, it’s ready to be put in a loaf pan.
To prep the dough for the loaf pan, take it out of the bowl and lightly shape into a oval. Another optional way to shape it is to fully roll out the dough about 12 inches long and then starting at one end roll it as if you were making a cinnamon roll. But don’t cut, just place the whole roll into a greased loaf tin.
Leave to rise again for 1 hour. Cover with the same tea towel again and leave somewhere warm.
At the 30 minute mark start to pre-heat your oven to 350C. Once the bread has fulling risen, bake for 25 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown.
Take the bread out of the loaf tin and leave to cool fully on a wire rack. Look at the flecks of malunggay leaves all throughout the bread. They look almost confetti like.
This Malunggay Bread is so nice and soft. To eat it and fully taste the malunggay leaves, it’s recommended to have it lightly toasted and buttered. It’s also great with some jam or with pimento cheese.
To store, leave on the counter top in a bread box or cake dome. It will stay soft for up to 4 days. If you don’t think you can finish the bread slice and store in the freezer. To defrost, just pop in the toaster.
You can use all purpose flour, just note that it might not rise as much. Bread flour has a higher protein content. The key to milk bread is the chew and you need that from bread flour.
Yes you can! Replace the dried leaves with 1 tablespoon of powder. Just note the bread will not be white with green flecks. Instead the bread will have the color of light green instead.
Usually this happens if your kitchen is on the cooler side. If it is, I recommend boiling some water and pouring it into 2 mugs. With the oven *OFF* place your dough inside with the 2 mugs of boiling water on each side. This will create a faux humidity and will activate the yeast faster.Sometimes, you do have slow acting yeast. Wait another hour to see if it will rise. If it still has a minimal rise the last resort is to still leave it overnight. After leaving it overnight and it still does not rise, I’m afraid you have dead yeast. That is extreamly rare. If that does happen I would start again.
This is a key part of making milk bread, so it is advisable that you do keep this step. Otherwise you will just be making regular sliced bread.
If you do want to use a vegan milk, you would need to use one with a high fat content. Something like full fat coconut milk. Note that the taste will be more coconut than milk.
For more Filipino inspired goodness in your life follow along on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. Or subscribe to get these recipes in your inbox. And if you make this Malunggay Bread Shokupan Style I would love to see it. Tag your Instagram snaps with @rezelkealoha and #rezelkealohaeats.
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