Flower bread Rolls with Ham
I came across the ABC Cooking Studio the last few times I lunched at the SWFC and had always wanted to try it out. However it's not fun doing things like that on one's own so when my 2 neighbours Judy and Fei invited me to join them to try out bread making at said studio I didn't hesitate.
I was not surprised to discover that the cooking studio's a Japanese outfit. Apparently a wildly popular women-only import. It was bright, colourful and functional, with an all-glass shop front that would allow passers-by to watch what's going on inside. You are invited to use the free lockers to the right of the entrance to keep your handbag and shoes in exchange for an apron and a pair of slippers. They do not wash the aprons too often, by the way.
The hands-on classes have to be reserved in advance and class sizes are small. The instructors have been reasonably well-trained and would conduct the lessons only in Mandarin (except for one or 2 who could speak Japanese - mainly for communicating with the Japanese Manager). They are paid very local rates though - 50rmb for 5 hours and 100rmb for 8 hours (according to a recruitment poster in the shop).
You need to be a member before you are allowed to join the classes. They offer 3 trial lessons to choose from i.e. cake making, bread making or cooking and once you become a member you are expected to complete, say, all the classes under basic bread making before you are allowed to proceed to classes under advanced bread making.
Since we are not total beginners, we found the rule a little ridiculous. But the Japanese didn't become successful because they are given to one's whims and fancies so they would tell you that their's a tried and tested industrial learning process, not to be tampered with by a few bored housewives.
Since we just wanted to find something interesting yet educational to do together, the 3 of us decided to sign up for 6 more classes, which would add to our current list of activities which include badminton, lunches and visiting food/plant markets.
Actually Judy is already a good baker so between copying her movements and listening to the instructor I baked my bread and forgot to take notes. We had to do own washing during the lesson which probably helped keep costs reasonable. There were 2 types of ovens in the studio : one set at 45°C and used mainly for proofing bread dough and the Toshiba ones for baking and even steaming.
Ham Flower Rolls :
Bowl A :
75g bread flour (high gluten)
1 tbsp sugar
2/3 tsp dry yeast
1 egg (beaten, about 26g)
Bowl B :
75g bread flour
1/3 tsp salt
15g unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
6 round pieces of cooked ham
Add flour into bowl A. Followed by the sugar on one side and the yeast next to the sugar. On the other side of the bowl (with the flour in between), add the egg. Pour the water onto the yeast.
Add flour into bowl B. Followed by the salt and butter.
Mix the ingredients in bowl A with a wooden spoon. When you start to see holes in the dough, add the content of bowl B into it. Continue to mix with the wooden spoon till you get a dough.
Turn the dough out on a clean and dry working surface, using a scraper to scrap out any dough/flour in the bowl. Knead the dough till it doesn't stick to the working surface any more, using the scraper if necessary to help pick up the dough stuck to the table.
Form a ball with the dough and place it in a bowl smooth side up. Cover with cling wrap and proof it in a 45°C oven for 25 minutes.
Flour a finger and poke it into the dough. If the hole doesn't close up, the dough is ready for shaping. Gently press out the air and form the dough into a ball again, tucking in the sides at the bottom. Divide into 6 portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place them in a baking tray always smooth side up. Cover with cling wrap and a wet cloth. Proof in the 45°C oven for 10 minutes.
Using your fingers flatten and smooth out each ball till it's big enough to hold a slice of the ham. Roll up from the bottom and pinch the edges close. Fold the roll into half (using a finger in the middle of the roll to help sustain it) and slice it into 2 about 2/3 of the way (at the part that is folded). Open up the dough and you'll get a flower roll with visible layers.
Gently brush with egg wash and drizzle mayonnaise over the roll (if you wish). I didn't use any mayonnaise as I do not like it. Return to the baking tray and cover with the cling wrap and wet towel. Proof in the slightly warm oven for 20 minutes.
Bake in a hot 185°C oven for 13 minutes. Best eaten hot.
I've also made a version with pork floss at home, worked out just as well.
ABC Cooking Studio, SWFC Shanghai