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Big Joe the Pro

Baking Bread in China, A Glossary

2 posts in this topic

Hey, I just stumbled upon what looks like an excellent glossary of types of flour available in China in English, Chinese and pin yin. The link is here, hope it helps!

Also, a little off-topic but; I just got an email from Pantry Magic Corporate saying that they've been trying to get the new Beijing store (near Worker's Stadium) to close down since mid-February for 'serious non-compliance'. What's up with that?

P.S. I'm not connected to that bread web site or Pantry Magic in any way, for you jaded, snarky-types lurking out there!


Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

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    • By liuzhou
      An old friend from England contacted me yesterday via Facebook with a couple of questions about Five Spice Powder.

      Thought there me be some interest here, too.

      Is there anything more typically Chinese than five spice powder (五香粉 - wǔ xiāng fěn)?
       
      Well, yes. A lot.
       
      Many years ago, I worked in an office overlooking London’s China town. By around 11 am, the restaurants started getting lunch ready and the smell of FSP blanketed the area for the rest of the day. When I moved to China, I didn’t smell that. Only when I first visited Hong Kong, did I find that smell again.
       
      In fact, FSP is relatively uncommon in most of Chinese cuisine. And if I ever see another internet recipe called “Chinese” whatever, which is actually any random food, but the genius behind it has added FSP, supposedly rendering it Chinese, I’ll scream.

      I get all sorts of smells wafting through the neighbourhood. Some mouth-watering; some horrifying. But I don't recall ever that they were FSP.
       
      But what is it anyway? Which five spices?
       
      Today, I bought four samples in four local supermarkets. I would have would have preferred five, but couldn’t find any more. It's not that popular.
       
      First thing to say: none of them had five spices. All had more. That is normal. Numbers in Chinese can often be vague. Every time you hear a number, silently added the word ‘about’ or ‘approximately’. 100 km means “far”, 10,000 means “many”.
       
      Second, while there are some common factors, ingredients can vary quite a bit. Here are my four.

      1.


       
      Ingredients – 7
       
      Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Orange Peel, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Dried Ginger, Sichuan Peppercorns.
       
      2.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Cassia Bark, Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Coriander, Sichuan Peppercorn, Licorice Root.

      3.
       

       
      Ingredients – 15
       
      Fennel Seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns, Coriander, Tangerine Peel, Star Anise, Chinese Haw, Cassia Bark, Lesser Galangal, Dahurian Angelica, Nutmeg, Dried Ginger, Black Pepper, Amomum Villosum, Cumin Seeds, Cloves.

      4.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Pepper (unspecified – probably black pepper), Sichuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Nutmeg, Cassia.
       
      So, take your pick. They all taste and smell almost overwhelmingly of the star anise and cassia, although there are subtle differences in taste in the various mixes.
       
      But I don’t expect to find it in many dishes in local restaurants or homes. A quick, unscientific poll of about ten friends today revealed that not one has any at home, nor have they ever used the stuff!
       
       
      I'm not suggesting that FSP shouldn't be used outside of Chinese food. Please just don't call the results Chinese when you sprinkle it on your fish and chips or whatever. They haven't miraculously become Chinese!

      Like my neighbours and friends, I very rarely use it at all.

      In fact, I'd be delighted to hear how it is used in other cultures / cuisines.
    • By liuzhou
      For the last several years Cindy's* job has been to look after me. She takes care of my residence papers, my health insurance, my travel, my housing and associated repairs. She makes sure that I am supplied with sufficient cold beer at official banquets. And she does it all with terrific efficiency and great humour.
       
      This weekend she held her wedding banquet.
       
      Unlike in the west, this isn't held immediately after the marriage is formalised. In fact, she was legally married months ago. But the banquet is the symbolic, public declaration and not the soul-less civil servant stamping of papers that the legal part entails.
      So tonight, along with a few hundred other people, I rolled up to a local hotel at the appointed time. In my pocket was my 'hong bao' or red envelope in which I had deposited a suitable cash gift. That is the Chinese wedding gift protocol. You don't get 12 pop-up toasters here.
       
      I handed it over, then settled down, at a table with colleagues, to a 17 or 18 course dinner.
       
      Before we started, I spotted this red bedecked jar. Shaking, poking and sniffing revealed nothing.
       
       
      A few minutes later, a waitress turned up and opened and emptied the jar into a serving dish. Spicy pickled vegetables. Very vinegary, very hot, and very addictive. Allegedly pickled on the premises, this was just to amuse us as we waited for the real stuff to arrive.
       
       
      Then the serious stuff arrived. When I said 17 courses, I really meant 17 dishes. Chinese cuisine doesn't really do courses. Every thing is served at roughly the same time. But we had:
       
      Quail soup which I neglected to photograph.
       
      Roast duck
       
      Braised turtle
       
      Sticky rice with beef (the beef is lurking underneath)
       
      Steamed chicken
       
      Spicy, crispy shell-on prawns.
       
      Steamed pork belly slices with sliced taro
       
      Spicy squid
       
      Noodles
       
      Chinese Charcuterie (including ducks jaws (left) and duck hearts (right))
       
      Mixed vegetables
       
      Fish
       
      Cakes
       
      Fertility soup! This allegedly increases your fertility and ensures the first born (in China, only born) is a son. Why they are serving to me is anyone's guess. It would make more sense for the happy couple to drink the lot.
       
      Greenery
       
      Jiaozi
       
      There was a final serving of quartered oranges, but I guess you have seen pictures of oranges before.
       
      The happy couple. I wish them well.
       
      *Cindy is the English name she has adopted. Her Chinese name is more than usually difficult to pronounce. Many Chinese friends consider it a real tongue-twister.
    • By liuzhou
      A few days ago, I was given a lovely gift. A big jar of preserved lemons.
       
      I know Moroccan preserved lemons, but had never met Chinese ones. In fact, apart from in the south, in many parts of China it isn't that easy to find lemons, at all.
       
      These are apparently a speciality of the southern Zhuang minority of Wuming County near Nanning. The Zhuang people are the largest ethnic minority in China and most live in Guangxi. These preserved lemons feature in their diet and are usually eaten with congee (rice porridge). Lemon Duck is a local speciality and they are also served with fish. They can be served as a relish, too. They are related to the Vietnamese Chanh muối.
       
      I'm told that these particular lemons have been soaking in salt and lemon juice for eleven years!
       

       

       
      So, of course, you want to know what they taste like. Incredibly lemony. Concentrated lemonness. Sour, but not unpleasantly so. Also a sort of smoky flavour.
       
      The following was provided by my dear friend 马芬洲 (Ma Fen Zhou) who is herself Zhuang. It is posted with her permission.
       
      How to Make Zhuang Preserved Lemons
      By 马芬洲
       
      Zhuang preserved lemons is a kind of common food for the southern Zhuang ethnic minority who live around Nanning Prefecture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China. The Zhuang people like to make it as a relish for eating with congee or congee with corn powder. This relish is a mixture of chopped preserved lemons, red chilli and garlic or ginger slice in soy sauce and peanut oil or sesame oil.
       

       
      Sometimes the Zhuang people use preserved lemons as an ingredient in cooking. The most famous Zhuang food in Guangxi is Lemon Duck, which is a common home cooked dish in Wuming County, which belongs to Nanning Prefecture.
       
      The following steps show you how to make Zhuang preserved lemons.
       
      Step 1 Shopping
      Buy some green lemons.
       
      Step 2 Cleaning
      Wash green lemons.
       
      Step 3 Sunning
      Leave green lemons under the sunshine till it gets dry.
       
      Step 4 Salting
      If you salt 5kg green lemons, mix 0.25kg salt with green lemons. Keep the salted green lemons in a transparent jar. The jar must be well sealed. Leave the jar under the sunshine till the salted green lemons turn yellow. For example, leave it on the balcony. Maybe it will take months to wait for those salted green lemons to turn yellow. Later, get the jar of salted yellow lemons back. Unseal the jar. Then cover 1kg salt over the salted yellow lemons. Seal well the jar again.
       
      Step 5 Preserving
      Keep the sealed jar of salted yellow lemons at least 3 years. And the colour of salted yellow lemons will turn brown day by day. It can be dark brown later. The longer you keep preserved lemons, the better taste it is. If you eat it earlier than 2 years, it will taste bitter. After 3 years, it can be unsealed. Please use clean chopsticks to pick it. Don’t use oily chopsticks, or the oil will make preserved lemons go bad. Remember to seal the jar well after picking preserved lemons every time.
    • By nonkeyman
       How to Make Rye Sourdough Bread
      I don't know what it is about bread, but it is my favorite thing to make and eat. A freshly baked loaf of bread solves a world of problems. I was lucky enough to get to be one of the main bakers when I worked at the Herbfarm. We baked Epi, Baguettes, Rolls, Pretzels and so much more.
       

      Rye Sourdough Wood Oven Baked Bread
       
      My fondest memory when I worked there was our field trip to the Bread Lab(wait something this cool came out of WSU, of course!) here in Washington. They grow thousands of varieties of wheat and have some pretty cool equipment to test gluten levels, protein, genetics and so on. I nerded out so hard.
       
      What came out of that trip was this bread. Now I can't recall the exact flour we got from them, but using a basic bread and rye will do the trick. We used to get a special flour for our 100 mile menu. This was where we were limited to only serving food from 100 miles away. So finding a wheat farm that made actual hulled wheat in 100 miles was a miracle. The year before...the thing we made, was closer to hard tack.
       
      Now if you don't have a starter, I recommend starting one! It is a great investment!
       
      Rye Sourdough
      1000 g flour (60% Bread Flour, 40% Rye)
      25 g salt
       
      75 g of honey/molasses
      200 g of Rye starter 
      650 g of water, cold
      Equipment
      Baker Scale (or other gram scale)
      Bench Cutter
      Bread Razor (you could also use one of those straight razors)
       
      Start by taking the cold water, yeast and Honey and mix together and let sit for 10-15 minutes
       
      I know, some of you just freaked out, cold water? Won't that kill the yeast.
       
      Nope, the yeast just needs to re hydrate. I prefer using cold water to slow the yeast down. That way the lactobacillus in the starter has  a good amount of time to start making lactic acid, and really get to flavor town!
       
      While that is sitting, I mix the flour and the salt together(How many times I have forgotten to salt the bread).
       
      Now mix the two products with a kneading hook for 3-5 minutes, only until thoroughly mixed but not yet at the window pane stage of kneading.
       
       
      Instead, place into a bowl and set a timer for one hour. Then when that hour is up, push the dough down and fold all the corners in
       
      Repeat this step 2-3 more times, pending on the outside temperature.
       
      If you happen to have those cool bowls to shape round loafs! Awesome, use them. I would break the boules into 3 balls of about 333 grams
       
      If not then just put the dough in the fridge and do the steps below the next day.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Once you have bouled the bread, can put it into the fridge and let it sit over night
       
      Again, this lets the bacteria, really get to work(misconception is the yeast adds the sour flavor, nope, think yogurt!)
       
      Now on the next day, heat up whatever form of oven you plan to use. We used a brick oven but if you just have a normal oven, that is fine. Crank it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
       
      If you have not bouled your bread yet, go back and watch the video and break the dough down into three balls of abut 333 grams. Then place the balls on a lightly greased sheet pan. Let sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

      If you have used the fancy bowls then turn the the bread out on a lightly greased sheet pan, without the bowl and let temper for 15-30 minutes.
       
       
      If your oven is steam injected, build up a good blast of steam.
       
      If not, throw in a few ice cubes and close the door or put a bath of hot water inside.
       
      The steam is what creates the sexy crust!
       
      Let it build up for a few minutes!
       
      Right before you put the bread into the oven use a bread razor to slice the top of the bread.
       
      Place the dough balls into the oven and douse with another blast of steam or ice and close the oven.
       
      Let them bake for 13 minutes at 450 degrees. Then turn the loaves and bake for another 10 minutes.
       
      Remove when the crust is as dark as you want and the internal temperature exceeds 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
       
      Now pull out and make sure to let cool off of the sheet pan with room to breath underneath. You don't want your crust steaming!
       
      Now here is the hardest part, wait at least 20 minutes before getting into the bread. Also, cutting into bread to early really seems to come out poorly. I would rip the bread until 1-2 hours has passed.
       
      Now serve it with your favorite butter, goat butter or whipped duck fat!
       
    • By Catherine T
      Hi, I have just discovered and registered on this site. My main cooking and baking concern is that I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and haven't been able to eat gluten. BUT I have discovered an exception. When I have visited Continental Europe such as Spain and Russia, I have been able to eat their bread and have had no negative repercussions. Then when I try eating bread in Great Britain and North America I have become sick. My research on the Web has not provided any explanations although I believe the EU has banned GMO grains. I was recently gifted panetonne from a Toronto restaurant called Sud Forno that uses Italian flour and I was able to safely eat it. Another bakery called Forno Cultura advertises that it uses European flour. So I am going to approach them to see if I can buy their flour in bulk. I will let you know how it goes.
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