Chocolate Chigiri Bread ちぎりパン

Sweet, mildly chocolatey and super soft, fluffy pull apart buns (and made to look like bears!) 

Okay so exams are almost done. Almost. Just 3 more days to baking freedom and long days spent reading, watching tv, eating, cooking and with friends. And finally some time to pack my exploding baking cupboard that when you open the door everything just falls out hahaha. True story. 

Anyway I made these buns about a week ago and while they were meant to look cute, you can see that I suck at piping decorations and icing and all. I should probably have started off with drawing smiley faces on the little bears but I guess some of them looked quite alright for beginners. And by the way, don't try drawing their faces with icing (like the icing sugar and milk kind) because they won't work (or really they won't last). Trust me on that, use melted white chocolate. 

Now the recipe for these buns is a typical soft sweet bun recipe- bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, butter, with the addition of condensed milk and cocoa powder to make these bears brown. Of course if you prefer, you can totally leave out the cocoa powder and replace with some bread flour instead, and also reduce the amount of sugar in the buns. Or you could replace it with matcha powder to make little green frogs or any other dried fruit powders would work here I'm sure :) 

The secret to really soft and fluffy bread, as I've shared with you before, is to 
1) Knead, knead, knead and 
2) Long, slow prove.

Kneading, I feel is the most most important thing to remember when you're making bread. There is quite a significant difference in my bread texture when I knead the dough until it is smooth vs when I knead until it is very very elastic and passes the windowpane test. I've read a couple of Taiwanese baking blogs and watched a couple of Japanese baking videos and I've found that good, long kneading is what you need to make your bread extra soft. Don't stop at 10 minutes - it can take as long as 30-45 minutes, especially if you're doing it by hand. More is better than less, for kneading bread dough, so keep on kneading and slapping the dough until you can stretch it so thin that you can see your face through the dough in the mirror. Okay maybe not but it should be able to stretch reasonably long without breaking, about a thin translucent sheet about the size of your palm. When that happens, then you've kneaded well enough. 

The recipe for this bread dough is quite sweet for my taste, probably due to the addition of sweetened condensed milk (which is so good eaten straight from the tin), so reduce the amount of sugar by all means, especially if you're not going to any cocoa powder/ matcha which tend to be quite bitter. 

Happy baking! 

Chocolate Chigiri Bread ちぎりパン
Makes 16 small rolls 

260g bread flour 
40g sugar 
1 tbsp cocoa powder 
20g condensed milk 
30g butter 
3g dry yeast (3/4 tsp) 
180g milk 

Melted white and dark chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the butter, and mix until smooth and sticky, 
Knead in the butter, and continue to knead until smooth and elastic and until it passes the windowpane test. (Read above for details) 
Place in a lightly greased bowl and prove until doubled in size, about 50 minutes. 
Punch down the dough and divide into 5 pieces. 
Divide each piece into 4 to obtain a total of 20 pieces of dough. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. 
Cover the dough balls with a damp, clean towel and let it sit for 10 minutes. 
Once again, roll 16 pieces of dough into balls and place in a greased 8-inch square pan. 
Cover with a damp, clean towel and prove for 40 minutes. 
In the meantime, divide the remaining 4 pieces of dough into a total of 32 pieces, and roll into small balls. 
After 40 minutes, use a toothpick to press the small balls and the top of each bun, to form the ears of the bears.
Cover and prove for another 40 minutes. 
Bake in a preheated 170 degrees Celsius oven for 18-20 minutes. 
Cool completely before decorating with melted white and dark chocolate. 

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