Thursday, June 30, 2011

Green Tea Red Bean Bread (Notes on 17-Hr pre-fermentation method)

Have you caught the fever yet?  I mean the bread-making fever.  Playing with flour, yeast and water has never been on top of my "to-do" list in my kitchen.  Yet, this month alone, I have attempted more bread than usual.  Thanks to Jasmine for coming up with this month's baking theme - Bread Seduction and also my fellow-bloggers, who constantly tempt me with their delicious homemade bread.  

For this Green Tea Red Bean Bread, I used the recipe from 茄子, who has adapted her recipe from Kin, the author of the book,  "Natural Breads Made Easy" ("天然面包香").  This method of bread-making involves pre-fermenting the bread dough in the fridge for 17 hours or more, then knead again with more bread flour, water, yeast and butter.  The results is fragrant soft bread that remains soft the next day, even without the use of artificial bread improver.

This is the first time that I'm attempting this method of bread-making.  Few questions came to my mind while making the bread:  17 hours of fermenting - must it be strictly 17 hours, can plus/minus 1 to 2 hours?  Can I freeze the pre-ferment dough and unfreeze it when I'm ready to bake the bread?  Can I prepare more pre-ferment dough ahead, since 17 hours is too long a waiting time?  Are there any golden formula that I can apply?

I found some useful notes from here, which I've translated below for my easy reference.  As I have not read the book myself and this being my first attempt on 17-hour bread, I'm cannot verify the accuracy of the source nor the validity to the points made.

For the pre-ferment dough:

1) Chill the pre-ferment dough in the fridge, at a temperature between 0 to 5 degrees Celsius (cannot freeze), for at least 17 hours, but not exceeding 72 hours [Note:  This means can prepare more portions of pre-ferment dough and cut down on the preparation and waiting time].

2) Do not add sugar to prepare the pre-ferment dough.  Sugar aids expansion of the yeast during proofing.  The whole idea of this 17-hr method is to allow the yeast to slowly activate under a controlled temperature.

3) The proofed fermented dough should have expanded to about 1.2 to 1.5 times the original size.  Size does matter for this method to achieve the optimal result.

4) There is no need to "thaw" the pre-fermented dough to room temperature, i.e. remove from fridge and use straight away.

To mix with the main dough:  

5) Combine all the ingredients for the main dough (except for butter) and knead well.  Gradually add in the pre-ferment dough, piece by piece, to combine with the main dough.  When dough is smooth, gradually add in the butter.  Knead till the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

6) If kneading by hand, may need to reduce the water in the main dough, else it will be too sticky to handle.

7) Cover and proof the dough for 25 to 30 minutes.

8) Divide and round the dough into portions.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

9) Shape and final proof for 45 minutes and bake at 180C for 30 to 35 minutes.  The baking temperature and time is for baking bread in a loaf tin with a lid.  May need to adjust oven temperature and baking time to suit to the size of bread.

Recipe for Green Tea Red Bean Bread
(from 茄子)

Pre-ferment dough:
210g bread flour
120g water
1 tsp yeast (about 5 to 6g)
6g skimmed milk powder  [I omitted this, I used 80g milk + 40g water instead]

Main dough:
80g bread flour
10g green tea powder  [I cut down to 6g]
1/2 tsp yeast (about 3g)
40g sugar
70g water [Original recipe uses milk, sweetened canned red bean and eggs]
25g butter

1) Prepare pre-ferment dough: Mix yeast with water, then combine with bread flour, yeast and milk powder.  Knead till smooth dough.  Cover and keep in fridge for 17 hours before use.

2) Mix ingredients for main dough (except butter) and knead till combined.  Gradually add in the pre-fermented dough, piece by piece and knead to get a smooth dough.  Add in the butter and knead to form a smooth and elastic dough.  Cover and proof the dough for 20 minutes (I proof it for 30 minutes).

3) Divide and round the dough.  Rest for another 20 minutes (I rest them for 10 minutes).  Shape and final proof the dough for 45 minutes.

4) Bake in preheated oven of 160C for 30 minutes till golden brown (I arranged 4 dough in a square pan and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes, cover with foil after 15 minutes).

I would like to share this post with Aspiring Bakers #8: Bread Seduction (June 2011)hosted by Jasmine of Sweetylicious.  


  1. beautiful texture i also prefer this 17hr dough as well.

  2. That's a different kind of a bread! Green tea bread is amazing...loved the explanation for the process of making!

  3. Hi, Thanks for your effort to translate into English. Its v clear explaination....will try it one day.

  4. Hi,

    Can you tell me the name and IBSN of the book? Thank you.

  5. J3SS/purabi: Hi, thanks for your notes.

    Sally: The name of the book is "Natural Breads Made Easy" ("天然面包香")by Kin (独角仙@蓝色大门). I do not have a copy of the book and its ISBN.

  6. 第一次吗?你做的很好啊!很漂亮的土司。




  8. Oh dear... I have no idea what happen to your pre-dough, Sarah. Most of the time, I use the direct bread method, i.e. no need for pre-ferment dough, and they rise well. Perhaps you might want to give this method another try?


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