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cups Gold Medal™ unbleached all-purpose flour
cup milk w/ 1 egg yolk (both should total 1 cup together)
tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
tablespoon green tea (matcha) powder mixed w/ 2 tsp hot water, OR green food coloring
teaspoons cocoa powder mixed w/ 1 1/2 tsp hot water
teaspoons active dry yeast
In a small bowl, microwave milk and egg yolk for about 30 seconds. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar and yeast.
Add in butter, salt and milk mixture, stirring on low speed with the dough hook attachment.
Increase speed to medium and knead until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides, about 5-10 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a tbsp-ful of flour at a time until it is smooth and elastic.
Divide dough into three pieces, two about equal and one about 1/3 the size of the other two.
Place one of the large pieces in the stand mixer bowl and mix with green tea/water mixture OR green tea food coloring until desired color is reached.
Remove dough from bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled.
Clean stand mixer bowl, then place smallest piece of dough in stand mixer and combine with cocoa powder/water mixture until color is blended through. Remove dough from bowl and place in a separate, lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled.
Place plain piece of dough in a separate, lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled. All pieces should double in about an hour.
Once dough is risen, on a floured surface, divide plain dough in thirds, with one piece being half the size of the other two (as you did before). Use one of the larger pieces to form the face. Divide the cocoa dough in quarters and use two quarters to form the eyes.
Quickly place the smallest piece of plain dough between the eyes to keep them in place. Stretch remaining piece of plain dough over the whole bread to lock everything in place.
Take last two quarters of cocoa dough and form the ears.
Divide green dough in two pieces, one twice the size of the other. Take the small piece to fill in the space between the ears. Take the larger piece of green dough and stretch over the whole bread to lock everything in place.
Place dough in a lightly greased loaf pan, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.
Once dough is risen, bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on the outside (the inside should register 190°F). Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving.
More About This Recipe
- This could possibly be the most difficult bread I’ve ever had to make.
But it’s also the most rewarding!
You see, making Panda Bread isn’t easy, especially when you’re trying to make a face inside a bread (not something I do every day!). However, the hard work is so worth it when you slice open the sandwich loaf, peek inside and see a fun panda staring back at you. Who doesn’t love that?
To start off right with this bread, I suggest using unbleached all-purpose flour, as opposed to bread flour, because you’ll be working the bread a lot and don’t want the gluten to toughen. Gold Medal’s unbleached all-purpose flour is definitely up to the challenge.
Admittedly, I ran into some roadblocks while making this bread. The biggest one was deciding how to make the green dough. Though matcha, or green tea powder, works well and delivers a unique flavor, it’s also crazy expensive. If you’re not willing to drop some serious change on the stuff, green food coloring will also do the trick.
Another roadblock was, of course, making the panda face. These photos, combined with recipe directions, give step-by-step instructions on how to construct the face. As you can see, mine still didn’t turn out perfectly, but it was pretty darn close! Plus, I think it adds character.
Don’t get me wrong – despite the challenges, this was an incredibly fun, unique bread to make. And the flavor – a light, enriched white sandwich bread – was delightful. Though it was a little weird eating a panda’s face.
This recipe would be the perfect thing to make with kids or for a zoo-themed party, or even for fun sandwiches. Heck, once you make this bread, you can make multi-“face”ted breads (ahem, pardon the pun). Or you can make it just to impress your peeps. That’s as good a reason as any!
Stephanie (aka Girl versus Dough) joined Tablespoon to share her adventures in the kitchen. Check out Stephanie’s Tablespoon member profile and keep checking back for her own personal recipes on Tablespoon!