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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Wisdom of the Japanese Loaf

This was only my second attempt to make a cinnamon raisin bread, so it seems a bit unfair that I have been given the perfect recipe, a method that avoids all the pitfalls so common to the swirled loaf: wide airy gaps in the finished product, spilling filling, dry boring bread. But given to me it was (thanks, Mom!), and here it is:

I should include a photo of the inside as well, as that was where the real magic lay: a slightly sweet dough with a fine tender crumb, no gaps in sight, filling intact and flavorful. But you'll have to take my word for it.

The bread itself is a version of the traditional Japanese white bread called shokupan. It calls for a high-gluten flour, milk powder, and an egg, but most importantly a lot of kneading and even more rising (four 45-minute intervals). It's not a process that can or should be rushed, but the result is worth it. Toasted with a smear of butter, it puts those other cinnamon swirl breads to shame.

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