Soft and fluffy milk rolls sprinkled generously with a good layer of crunchy coarse sugar. These sweet rolls are wonderful for breakfast, tea, to take to a party or just because you want to eat it. My paternal grandmother, a lovely pint size woman, knew I like these sugar rolls. She would make a trip to the neighbourhood bakery to get them for me. Never mind that I made a mess whenever I ate them.  Sugar crystals would be stuck to my fingers, face, forehead, furniture and there will be a trail f it from where I started eating them to where she would find me eating them. She was not one to scold.

I have on occasions tossed in some leftover marzipan. When I do have two pieces or so of the very sweet Indian milk fudge, burfi, I toss them in as well. It makes the rolls a tad sweeter and richer but it might stunt them a little. Reduce the liquid by about 2 Tablespoons if you choose to add it. Only coarse sugar will do for the sprinkles as the extra large sugar crystals are essential for that sweet ‘crunch factor’ as you bite into the rolls. These sugar rolls do taste similar to the rolls from my childhood. The bakery closed many years ago. Grandma would be pleased that I can now bake my own. Still, they would never replace those childhood sugar rolls. Perhaps I like those better not so much for how they tasted but because I remember those sugar rolls were bought with love.

Slap on a generous slab of butter and sprinkle more sugar! Breakfast doesn’t always have to be healthy.

My Childhood Sugar Bread Loaf

Prep: ~30 minutes 
Cook: 25 – 30 minutes baking. (Adjust baking time if you are using a different size pan from mine)
Inactive: First rise ~1 hour. Second rise ~30 – 45 minutes
Level: Moderately easy
Serves: ~8 or more
Oven Temperature: 360F (180C) 
Can recipe be doubled? If kneading by hand, yes. If using the standing mixer, no. You will ruin your mixer.
Make ahead? Dough can be made ahead the night before and refrigerated in a container 2X its volume to allow for expansion. It might not expand that much which is fine. Baked bread tastes best fresh. It will still taste good the next day.

Ingredients

1 cup=250ml=8.45 US fl oz

Dough
4 and 1/2 cups (20.63oz)(585g) all-purpose/plain flour
2 and 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup (3oz)(85g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (125ml) water
3/4 cup (187.5ml) milk
2 Tablespoons (1oz)(28.34g) butter, melted
1 egg (1/4 cup) (62.5ml)
Tops of loaf
Syrup
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons water
Sprinkles
1 Tablespoon coarse sugar

Method

Using a mixer
1. I use a standing mixer, my KitchenAid with a dough hook. A hand held mixer will not be powerful enough to work this dough.
2. Mix together, the flour, sugar and salt in the mixing bowl.
3. Add the yeast, water, milk, melted butter and egg.
4. Start the machine on low speed (dial 2), to avoid flour splashing out onto your counter. Work it up to medium high speed. Let the machine run for 5 minutes.
5. The dough will look rather sticky but as you continue to let the machine run, the sides of the bowl should become less sticky.
6. After 5 minutes of mixing, stop the machine. The dough will still be a little sticky to touch. It should be pliable and smooth.
7. To test if the dough has developed sufficient gluten before it is allowed to rise, carry out the ‘window pane’ test. Scroll down below. If it is not, continue to run the machine.

By hand
1. Mix together, the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl or on a flat work surface.
2. Make a well and add the yeast, water, milk, melted butter and egg.
3. With your hands, work the dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients. It will be very sticky. Once you have incorporated dry and wet ingredients, you have to start the kneading.
4. To start kneading, you have to work with pushing the dough out with the palm of your hand and pulling it back with your fingers. As the dough will be sticky, use a butter dough scraper to help you pull the dough back and clean the work surface at the same time.
5. Carry on for 10 to 15 minutes, until you have a smooth dough that feels more elastic. It will still be sticky. It might become frustratingly sticky at times but that is fine. It will get less so as you knead. If I had to, I would rather butter my hands lightly than add more flour. As far as possible, try not to add more flour than necessary as over flouring might result in a tough and dry loaf. Keep in mind that you can expect the dough to be tacky.
6. To test if the dough has developed sufficient gluten before it is allowed to left to rise, carry out the ‘window pane’ test. Scroll down below.

‘Window pane’ test
1. With floured fingers, stretch a piece of the dough. If you can stretch it easily, that is good.
2. You should be able to stretch it easily and thin enough so that it looks like a piece of membrane before it tears up.


First rise

1. When ‘window pane’ stage has been achieved, scrape and gather the dough into a smooth ball, tucking loose ends under and transfer the dough ball into your lightly buttered proofing bowl.
2. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap.It will take ~ 1 hour to rise to almost double the size. *
3. You could refrigerate the dough overnight in a covered container that has 2X the volume of the dough so as to allow for room for the dough to expand. It will not rise that much but it would work just as well.
* Scroll down to ‘Tips’ to determine ‘rise’.

Prepare baking vessel
1. Generously butter a deep rectangle baking tray. I use a 12″X8″X3″ (30.48cmX20.32cmX7.62cm). Set aside. Alternatively, to make it easier to lift the loaf out of the deep baking tray, line the tray with parchment paper down the length,

allowing for a 3″ (7.5cm) overhang at each end so that you can use the overhang to lift the baked loaf out of the pan. You would still need to generously butter the entire pan after you lay the parchment paper.

Shaping them

1. If you poke your finger into the dough, the indentation should remain.
2.. With a pair of kitchen scissors or a dough scraper, snip/slice off 18 equal size balls.  My dough balls weigh, ~ 2.11oz (60g) each. Do not overwork the dough at this stage. Just snip/slice off, lightly deflate and don’t bother shaping them. Cover the dough and let them rest 10-15 minutes  to relax the gluten so that you can shape them into balls much easier.
3. Gently flatten each ball, removing air bubbles as you do so. You do not have to be meticulous.
4. Roll loosely into a log. With the short side towards you, roll loosely into a log again. Again, you do not have to be too fastidious at this stage. You should be looking at an oddly shaped ball.
5. Neaten this ball up by using your fingers to pull the untidy ends downwards, pinching, twisting and tucking those scraggly ends under the ball. Shaping them at this point needs just a bit more of your attention.
6. If the dough feels tight and you are finding it difficult to work it, let the dough rest under a tea towel for another 10 minutes and return back to shape them.
7. Lightly flour your work surface. Place the dough ball on it – untidy ends facing down.
8. With your palm facing downwards towards the work surface, loosely cup/cover the dough ball. Your fingers will be extended forward and bent at a 45° angle. The tips of your fingers will be barely touching the work surface.
9. Move your palm/fingers clockwise in circles. You should feel the dough ball gently knocking against the insides of your fingers and palm. This action will neaten up the base of the dough ball and make the dough ball just a little rounder.
10. As you shape the balls, line them up in the prepared baking tray. I end up with a 3 X 6 formation and all the balls would probably be touching each other.

Second rise
1. Cover with a buttered plastic wrap and let it rise for ~ 30 – 45 minutes until it has doubled or almost doubled in size. *
* Scroll down to ‘Tips’ to determine ‘rise’.

Preheat oven and baking

1. When the dough looks like it has risen halfway, preheat oven to 360F (180C), over rack adjust to lower middle.
2. Once the dough has almost doubled in size, press the side of the dough lightly with one finger.
3. The dough should spring back leaving a slight depression that will slowly fill back up.
4. Bake immediately at 360F (180C), lower middle rack for 25  – 30 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped.
5. Lay a sheet of aluminium foil directly over the bread 10 minutes into baking to prevent the bread from browning too fast.

Making the syrup
1. While the bread is baking, dissolve the syrup ingredients over medium heat. When all the sugar has dissolved, ~ 4 minutes, let it bubble away for 1 minute. Turn off the burner and leave to cool over the burner.

When is the loaf cooked?
The loaf should bake through between 25 – 30 minutes but to best determine when the bread is cooked through, use a thermometer. For this bread, I find that it is ready at 176F (80C). Adjust baking time if you are using a different size pan from mine. If you do not have a thermometer, it would be a hassle to lift the loaf out of the deep baking tray just to tap the bottom of the loaf, to check if the bread sounds ‘hollow’ for a well baked through loaf.However, if you cover the loaf with aluminium foil at the 10 minute mark, and follow all the other baking instructions, you can be quite assured that the loaf will be baked through between 25 – 30 minutes.

Topping the bread
Let the loaf rest for 5 minutes after removing from the oven. Then, with the loaf still in the bread pan, brush (not pour) the cooled syrup over the loaf. Sprinkle the coarse sugar so that it sticks onto the syrup. Cool completely, before removing from the baking pan.

Tips

When has the dough risen well enough?

When I am juggling too many tasks at one time, this plastic bin of mine comes in very handy.  With a quick glance, I can tell if the dough has risen sufficiently. I do not need to poke my finger into it to see if it leaves a dent that slowly fills up. I really should use my bin more often but I do hate the extra washing up.

1. Place the dough ball into a lightly buttered, transparent container.
2. Measure the height of the dough.
3. Double the height and mark it with:
-a line of smeared butter (similar to what I did in the picture below)
-a sticky paper stuck outside the container
-a food safe pen
4. Cover and wait for it to double in height.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

I was in Greece for the holidays and I ate very well. I brought back an impressive quantity of Greek produce. The Greek proprietor of the gourmet grocery store where I bought these items spent two years moving around Greece to hand pick the best produce she could find. So I believe I am off to a good start.


I had to buy another luggage. A worthwhile expense. I will be eating my way through this for the next few weeks. I think a few parties are in order. Always good to meet up with family and friends over food, especially food that isn’t always easy to get your hands on. Stay tuned to find out what I will be doing with all these items!

Advertisements