Food trends like fashion tend to keep changing from season to season. The pandemic meant more people were spending a lot of time at home and in the kitchen. Bread baking at home saw a new high too. Cloud Bread, Banana Bread, Focaccia “art or “designer” breads, Sourdough Breads, Pane Incamiciato and Wool Roll Bread were some of them.
Judy picked the Wool Roll Bread for the Bread Baking Babes as none of us had done it yet. Her recipe is based on King Arthur Baking Company’s Japanese Milk Bread. If you have ever baked with Tangzhong, you know it produces some of the fluffiest bread out there.
I first came across Wool Roll Bread on Malaysian baker’s channel Apron, earlier this year. Many credit the baker with this bread, but a Vietnamese blogger posted the same bread (Bánh Mì Cuộn Len) earlier in mid-2020. Some Middle Eastern and Eastern European breads have a similar style of shaping bread.
So what is Wool Roll Bread? It is a soft and fluffy round bread loaf. The dough is shaped such that it bakes into something that looks like a roll of wool. Wool Roll Bread is usually made with soft and elastic dough like milk bread dough or with Tangzhong but there are sourdough versions too. It can be made with or without eggs or be plain or with a filling.
The shaping of the dough is what makes this bread different and stand out from the crowd. The dough is divided into five equal portions. Each portion is rolled into an oblong and two thirds of it cut, lengthwise, into thin strips. The filling is placed on the uncut one third portion and rolled tightly from that end to the other. This gives you five short striated rolls. These are arranged end to end, in a circle along the outer edge of the cake pan. When the dough rises and bakes, it fills out looking like a rather plump and pretty ball of wool.
You can more creative by colouring the dough with food colour. For the recipe below use an 8 or 9-inch cake tin. If your cake tin is too small, the dough will be a tight fit and messy looking. The dough will bake into rather lean looking “wool” rolls if your cake tin is too big.
If filling this bread you can try Green onions, Curried potato, Vegetable and paneer, Cheese or cheesy garlic spread or Onion and mushroom for savoury fillings. Some ideas of sweet fillings are Chopped chocolate or Chocolate spread, Chocolate hazelnut spread, Dried fruit and nuts, Thick custard (plain or flavoured), Cinnamon sugar, or Milk and coconut.
This is my adapted version of Judy’s recipe. I used a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flours. You can leave the egg out for an egg free version. I used chopped dark chocolate as a filling. It melts beautifully and stays soft inside the bread.
Wool Roll Bread
For the Tangzhong:
- 3 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
For the Dough:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp powdered milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast or 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 egg
- 60 gm unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup milk
For the Filling:
- 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
Make the Tangzhong:
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk till smooth. Place the saucepan over low heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let it cool to lukewarm.
Make the Dough:
- Proof the yeast if you do, otherwise add the instant yeast to the bowl. Put all of the Tangzhong, the flours, powdered milk, sugar, salt, the yeast or proofed yeast, egg and melted butter in the bowl of your machine. Run a couple of times to mix everything well.
- Add as much of the milk as required and knead to a smooth, elastic dough. Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased bowl. Cover loosely and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.
- Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 5 equal pieces. Flatten or lightly roll out each piece of dough into a 5" x 8" rectangle, then fold the short ends in towards one another like a letter. Flatten the folded pieces into rectangles again (this time about 3" x 6").
- Using a pizza wheel cutter, or sharp knife or scraper, cut about 2/3rd lengthwise into thin strips each about 1/8-inch wide. Your rectangle of dough should look something like a “jellyfish” but do not separate the strips. Place your filling on the uncut 1/3rd portion of the dough.
- Fold the side edges and then roll tightly, from the uncut edge to the cut edge. You should have a well-sealed roll of dough that has striations on it. Repeat with remaining four portions of dough.
- Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch cake tin. Place the rolls of dough, seams down, end to end along the outer circumference of the cake tin. The dough will form a coiled circle with a “hole” in the centre. Loosely cover and allow it to rest/rise for about 45 minutes, until puffy.
- Brush the loaf with milk and bake it at 180C (350F) for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's golden brown on top and done. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then transfer it to a rack to cool completely.
- Store leftover bread, well wrapped, at cool room temperature for 5 to 7 days; freeze for longer storage.
The Bread Baking Babes are –