Sooo I’ve been semi-neglecting my blog again, but this time I have an actual legit excuse – work. Work that I started just these past two days, and somehow I’m already struggling to not let it consume my life. I went in expecting a waitressing job, but quickly found out that it’s so much more than it seems. I don’t know how full-timers do it. Someone fully-trained has to do all of: seating customers, taking orders, wiping and setting the trays, taking the dishes out, cleaning the tables and the store in general, categorising dishes to be washed, washing them, drying them, refilling the buffet (including the very heavy rice, soup and tea barrels) and so much more. Apart from seating customers which I’m getting the feeling they teach people last, I’ve been learning-forgetting-relearning the rest. It’s all rewarding for the soul and all that, but is certainly fairly draining, and I won’t blame waiters from now on for forgetting to smile – it ain’t fun and games. And what sucks about work in hospitality and retail here is that it literally pays a third of similar jobs in Australia, and a fifth of my incredibly easy tutoring job where I get to sit down and do very little preparation for.
Enough boring talk about work, let’s change the subject to something much more substantial and relevant to one’s well-being, which is of course food. So I’m unsettled on what to call this bread, raisin log or raisin bread with brown sugar swirl. In any case, it’s quite common here and is even the top seller/signature bread in some of our favourite bakeries. It’s got a hard, almost crunchy exterior, with a swirly inside that is drier than most Asian bread. The most popular variation simply has raisins, which I took and added my own twist that is the brown sugar layer between the swirls, which was inspired by a bun with the same flavour combination. It came out pretty well, except for minor melted brown sugar leaks, which are a plus in my book because when you toast the slices, the sugar re-melts and gives you complex sweetness on the outside as well as inside. It is so very good.
Raisin log bread with brown sugar-swirl (makes 1 35cm long log)
(adapted from the amazing caroleasylife)
For the biga:
110g bread flour
1/4 tsp instant dried yeast
1/8 tsp salt
75g cold water
For the main dough:
180g bread flour
120g cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
30g full-fat dry milk powder
35g unsalted butter
For the filling:
a handful or ~80g brown sugar
Mix all the ingredients for the biga together, and knead for 6-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover and proof at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
To the proven biga, add all ingredients for the main dough save the milk and the diced butter. Pour in the milk and mix until it forms a dough that is non sticking. Continue to knead for another 7-8 minutes (I had to do this manually as the mixture is on the drier side. Add the diced butter and knead again until it forms an even, smooth dough. Cover and rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly flour the surface and rolling pin, and roll out the rested dough to a thin large square. Fold the square into thirds and roll it out into a square again. Repeat this process about 10 times, in the end the dough will be fine in texture and very smooth. Roll out to a 35x35cm square.
Sprinkle or spray the surface of the dough lightly with a little water to help the sugar stick, then sprinkle on the brown sugar evenly, followed by raisins. Slowly and surely roll up the sheet of dough into a log and seal the seam. Carefully transfer to a lined baking sheet, seam side down. Spray the log with some water, and place in the oven (which is turned off), uncovered, to proof for approximately 40 minutes. Minutes before it’s done proofing, take the bread out of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 130C/266F. Eggwash the surface of the bread, then bake in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes until golden on top. Transfer the baked bread to a wire rack to cool before slicing. The crust will have a little give while it’s still hot, but will firm on cooling.