ULTRA SOFT STRINGY, STICKY RICE BREAD
Is it going to be blue or purple, this wall, or perhaps, a minty green? Should I tile the bathroom, covering it in organized shines, or leaving it as is, a rustic plaster of diffused grey? Those clusters, years of emotional settlements that are solidified in actual physical forms, are bothering me, a lot, and I want to dump them all away and start over, as if it could work both ways. Did I mention these walls here where I stand, damn it, made of fucking concrete, are mockingly strong and defeating and apparently, impossible to drill through by whatever strength and tools I have left. What’s happened? I used to be able to drill through lots of things, now apparently, not anymore. Now I can only paint shit over. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that, that it’s just life bitch, but the mirror that came to us from an obliviously happy time of my life from a wholesaler in Jersey City, broad, reflective and inescapable, is now helplessly laying against the ground, catching things ruthlessly from a low and unnatural angel, a woman standing with her head cut off. The mere wish to just to get it 3 feet up in perspective, to frame things, once again, rightly, seems now both realistically and psychologically, difficult. I have been dragging my own weight for months, defended no longer by excuses because they, if I had any, are peeling off by now like old paints, revealing the raw surface that has always been behind, staring at me only through a thin mask of pigments that I couldn’t even decide the color of. Perhaps the problem is not the color. Perhaps these walls, damn it these fucking walls… have something to say. And I gotta listen… listen bitch… before moving forward.
Blue or purple, or perhaps, soon hopefully, a minty green?
BEFORE YOU GUSH OUT UNGODLY THINGS LIKE “OMG, IT’S GLUTEN-FREE BREAD!”…
SHUSH, IT’S NOT.
Just because you were so nice listening to me rant:
If you had true, unapologetic love for squishy, sweet, and borderline childish white bread that dents like pillows, my friends, you’ll love this bread. I first discovered this bread in a Korean bakery in Beijing, then again from a bakery inside a supermarket in Hong Kong, both named – “rice bread”. Before you want to gush out ungodly things like “oh my god oh my god, gluten-free bread!”… shush, because it’s not. The word gluten-free and bread, as nature intended explicitly and I don’t know how on earth anyone could misunderstand, should not go together. This is not a mochi-bread either, or at least, not going to eat like one. This is simply a soft white bread recipe improved by the use of a roux made with sticky rice flour (which, yes, is the ingredient for mochi). The roux-method, as we know it, improves the moisture level of breads such as these, but instead of flour and water, the roux is made purely with sticky rice flour. To be exact, 24% of the total weight of flour is sticky rice flour, and 100% of the water goes into making the roux. This doesn’t only improves the moistness of the bread, but also gives it that specific chew, that perfect spot between elasticity and softness, and if you were a squishy bread-hunter your entire life like me, the unicorn. So thank you, and you’re welcome as well.
- 1 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp (150 grams) sticky rice flour
- 1 1/3 cup (315 grams) water
- 3 1/2 cups (485 grams) strong bread flour (approx 14% protein), plus 2~3 tbsp to adjust
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 1/8 tsp (7 grams) instant dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 tbsp (24 grams) unsalted butter, soften
- Whisk sticky rice flour and water together and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes together into a thick, smooth blob of goo (there may be some lumps forming amidst cooking but just ignore them). Let sit, stirring occasionally to let heat out, until just warm to the touch.
- In a stand-mixer bowl, add strong bread flour, egg whites, granulated sugar, dry yeast, salt, and the cooled sticky rice-mixture. Mix on low first until all the ingredients have come together (you may have to stop and scrape a few times), then turn to medium-high speed and knead for 5 min. Add 1/2 the butter, knead until incorporated, then add the rest of the butter and knead again on medium-high speed for 15~20 min. Yes, that long. In the end, you should have a very very sticky, but smooth and elastic dough. The dough will stick to the sides of the bowl (even during mixing) but it shouldn't look so wet that it's formless. Try to resist adding too much flour but if it seems too wet, add another 2~3 tbsp of bread flour and knead again.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let proof on the counter, or in the fridge, until fully doubled. The dough is slightly warm to begin with so it will rise fast, about 1~2 hours in room-temperature or 6 hours in the fridge (I did this in the fridge).
- Once doubled, scrape onto a floured surface and divide in half. Keep dusting with flour as needed, and divide 1 portion of the dough into 3 pieces. Roll into long strips (gently punch out the air as you do this) then braid them together. Repeat with the other dough. Place the braided dough into a large loaf pan lined with parchment. Cover well with plastic wrap and another towel on top, and let proof again in the fridge overnight, or 12~18 hours. The next day, they will look slightly poofy but not doubled, probably won't even occupy 1/2 of the volume of the loaf pan. But it's all good.
- Leave the breads at room-temperature as you preheat the oven on 355 F/180 C. Place the breads on the middle-lower rack in the oven, loosely covered with a piece of parchment, and bake for 25 min, then remove the parchment and bake for another 20 min until golden browned. The breads will rise dramatically during baking.
- Remove from the pan and parchment papers, and let the breads cool for 30 min on a cooling rack. I tear into them like a roasted chicken.
You can half the recipe for 1 loaf of bread, or make the full portion and freeze 1 loaf after the first proofing and shaping. Let it thaw and rise to 80% at room-temperature for several hours before baking.