Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Let's be honest that it is not possible to be always be in your top game when it comes to preparing food for the family, especially when it involves the long process of bread making. So, here is my secret lazy pull apart garlic bread and you will be set and ready with a bread on your breakfast, lunch or dinner table in no time.
In this recipe, I have opted for the Japanese Bread Flour that you can find in the Asian Grocery that has 14% protein content. If you are unable to find this flour, any other type of bread flour with protein content above 11% will do just fine.
Is using bread improver necessary?
The answer is no, it is not necessary. You can make any type of bread especially this recipe without bread improver and they will still turn out great. Bread improver contains a blend of ingredients, usually emulsifiers, additional yeast, enzyme and or ascorbic acid that helps gluten development, aids in the production of gas and improves fermentation which result in a lighter dough with better keeping qualities.
In my experience, I have baked bread plenty of times without bread improver and they all turn out equally great. However, if you have some bread improver at home, there is no harm adding some for that additional boost.
The common amount of bread improver to add to a recipe are usually 1% to the total amount of flour in the recipe.
Togarashi is a Japanese chilli pepper that usually comes fresh or dried and grounded that can be easily purchased in Asian grocery. In Melbourne, you can find them in any supermarket at the Asian Food Section. In this recipe, we are using the dried grounded chilli pepper. If you are unable to find this spice, simply substitute with paprika or omit this ingredient.
Type of cheese to use
I personally think that if you are going to use cheese for bread, it needs to be packed with punch of flavours and I would highly recommend using cheese that are old aged or has strong and tangy flavour. Some of the cheese that I would recommend for this recipe are cheddar, gouda or vintage cheese. I was introduced by a friend once to try Pecorino cheese that is made from sheep's' milk and I have fell in love with this selection ever since! Pecorino cheese is so full of flavour and it goes really well with the chilly pepper and spring onion that goes into this loaf.
Window test are very often a description in bread making to check if the dough has been mixed enough for gluten development. A small palm size dough are pinched from the bulk dough after mixing and gently stretch between your two hands. If you are able to stretch the piece of dough thin enough to see through like a "window" it means that you have developed the gluten necessary in bread making. If you try to stretch the dough and they just break apart, this means that you will need to mix for a little longer. Be mindful that overmixed dough will break as well when attempted to be stretched but the difference between the two is that overmixed dough will feel a lot tougher and stiff whereas undermixed dough will feel slack and often soft.
Purpose of gluten in bread
Gluten is essential in most bread as they gives the extensibility to allow the dough to stretch out during rolling. Gluten is also important for structure as it enables the dough to hold on to itself as it rises during baking without collapsing.
Be mindful that you want to create gluten by mixing your dough enough. However, mixing the dough too much can have a reverse effect and cause the dough to break and become too tough to rise at all! So, the trick is, mix the dough until they are no longer shaggy looking, starts to pull away from the side of the bowl and looks shiny on the surface. At this point, stop mixing and do the "window test" and continue to mix when necessary for a few more minutes, then do another test and so on.
You will know that you have over mixed your dough if you are finding it difficult or almost impossible to stretch the dough or when the dough is not expanding at all during baking. If you have not bake the over mixed dough, there can still be remedy. Although you can't undo over mixed dough, you can simply leave the dough covered in a bowl for several hours extra than the normal final proofing time or alternative allow it to relax in the fridge overnight.
If after the additional resting period, you have baked your dough and they still turned out tough, you can use the tough bread dough for croutons to avoid wastages.
Equipment: Loaf tin - 100mm width x 300mm length x 75 mm depth
Yield: 1 x Loaf
Bulk Proof - 2 hours
Final Proof- 30 minutes
Mixing - 12 minutes
Baking - 40 minutes
Dough 500 g Bread Flour - Japanese Showa 14% Protein content
245 g Full Cream milk
60 g Unsalted Butter, cold
40 g Caster sugar
15 g Fine Salt
100 g Eggs - 2 Large Eggs
6 g Instant Dry Yeast
5 g Bread Improver
90 g Unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp Fine Salt
1 tsp Togarashi (Japanese Chilli Pepper)
20 g Chopped Spring Onions
35 g Minced Garlic
70 g Pecorino Cheese - Thinly shaved
For the Fillings
Melt the butter when the dough is almost ready to roll with the salt and allow it to cool slightly. Shave the pecorino cheese and chop the spring onion into small pieces. Set aside with the rest of the ingredients until ready to use.
For the Dough
1. Place the milk, butter, salt and sugar in to a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave until all the butter and sugar have fully dissolved. Do not allow it to boil. Leave to cool to approximately 45°C.
2. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment, place the flour, instant yeast and bread improver together and stir until well combined. Add in the luke warm butter mixture and mix slightly then add in the eggs.
Continue to mix over medium speed for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until it starts to pull away from the side of the bowl and passes the "window Test"
Transfer the dough on to the work bench without dusting any flour. Roll the dough in to a tight ball. Lightly grease a clean bowl double the size of the ball of dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave at room temperature to bulk proof for 1 to 2 hours or until it increases double its original size.
3. Once the dough have risen. Transfer the dough out onto the work bench. Lightly dust the bench if needed but avoid dusting too much as this can cause the dough to be dry. Gently press the dough down to flatten and release some of the gas. Roll the dough out to approximately 50 cm x 40 cm rectangles with the help of a rolling pin.
Spread a generous amount of cooled melted butter reserving some for finishing, followed by the minced garlic. Sprinkle togarashi spice and chopped spring onion on top then lastly spread the thinly shave cheese on top reserving some for finishing as well before baking.
4. Lengthways, cut the rectangle dough in to four equal strips then stack the strips on top of one another then divide the strips in to 6 equal portion by cutting them through with a sharp knife without squashing the layers.
5. Line the loaf pan with parchment paper ensuring that you oil the corners that is not covered with the baking paper with some oil or the remaining melted butter. Stack the cut up square portions into the prepared baking tin then brush a generous amount of butter on top and top with the remaining shaved cheese. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and leave to final proof for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until it rises 50% of its original volume again.
Meanwhile, pre heat the oven to 175°C.
6. When the dough is ready, bake in the pre heated oven for approximately 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown in colour or the internal temperature is above 90°C.
Carefully release the corner of the loaf with a knife then release the dough from the tin and remove the parchment paper from the bottom and leave the loaf to fully cool over a wire rack. Top with more pecorino shavings on top while the loaf is still warm (optional).
This loaf is best consumed while still warm.