I’m going to keep this post rant-free. Let’s see how well I keep that promise.
So the truth is, I’ve seen and walked past no less than 10 stray dogs since I’ve been in Taiwan. Is it a rarity? No. It’s been commonplace as long as I’ve lived here, especially with schools, markets and parks in the area where people typically dump dogs. How does it make me feel seeing them? To be honest, when I was little, I had an irrational fear of dogs so I didn’t care much as long as they didn’t come near me. But now, I feel helpless and guilty for leaving them to their fate when all I can do is maybe feed them if they stay around long enough. If the average life for strays is within 2 years, I don’t know if I’d be doing them any favours by reporting to authorities where they probably won’t be given a chance. As long as I live at home and can’t have pets, I’ll feel like a hypocrite, but in the meantime, I’ll have to depend on other people’s kindness, like the lady who gave money to our renter to buy food for a stray who makes a regular appearance on our street.
Phew. That wasn’t too long was it.
There isn’t much to say about the food except that by now I probably could and should have a separate category for matcha and azuki bean things.
Matcha & azuki swirl bread (one 450g loaf)
For the water-roux/tangzhong:
8g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
18g bread flour
For the biga:
1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
all of the tangzhong
180g bread flour
For the main dough:
75g bread flour
1/2 tsp yeast
all of the biga
25g unsalted butter
1 tsp matcha powder
150g smooth/chunky sweetened azuki bean paste
To make the tangzhong, heat all the ingredients together while whisking/stirring constantly till the mixture bubbles and thickens, then let it bubble for a minute before turning off the heat. Cover and chill 16-24hrs in the fridge.
For the biga, first heat the milk to lukewarm or about body temperature, then stir in the yeast to foam up and activate. Add in the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk, egg and torn-up little bits of tangzhong and mix on low speed until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Cover and let proof for an hour in temperatures of 27-28C (when it’s cold I like to let dough proof in a turned-off microwave/oven with a glass of hot water). Then transfer it to the fridge to proof for a further 36-72hrs.
Take the biga outta the fridge, it should have a webbed interior. Break it up into bits. Add to it the dry ingredients, then the milk and egg. Mix until even then add the room temperature butter, mix again till elastic and smooth, about 10 minutes. Divide the dough in two equal portions; cover one portion and add matcha powder to the other portion and mix until well distributed. Roll both portions into separate balls and let rest for 15-20mins.
Divide each flavour in half, and squeeze the air out of each piece of dough with a rolling pin (dusted with a little flour if needed). Visualise the flattened dough as thirds, and fold the top and bottom third into the middle like a letter. Then flatten longitudinally with a rolling pin, making sure the width of each strip is narrower than half the length of your loaf tin, so that the dough fits in later. Spread half of the azuki bean paste on each of the two white strips, leaving a 2cm border all around. Place the matcha flavoured strip on top of the white and pinch the edges to seal, do this with the other pair too. Roll them up starting from the short side so you end up with a fat cylinder. Place them into a 12oz loaf tin, lined and/or greased, spirally open sides toward the short sides of the container.
Cover and let rise until the dough rises to about 4/5 the height of the loaf tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 40 minutes or until golden and done on the inside. Leave in tin to cool until touchable and chill the bread laid on its side so it doesn’t shrink. Ready to slice when cooled.