In my research for my new book, The Book of Buns, I have discovered an amazing fact. Scalding flour before adding it to bread dough is not a technique limited to Scandinavia. In fact, is used all over Asia to make buns! Yes! Many of the recipes for the buns I have been eating for years in Asia are made with scalded flour. Not in Cambodia where I first learned to bake French bread (it was a French colony, remember), but in other parts of Asia including China, Japan, and Malaysia.
So what is scalded flour and why do you use it?
Scalded flour is just that: flour that you cover with boiling water to scald. In this process the flour is cooked and the starch in the flour becomes like jelly. Think of it – kneading jelly into dough….sound great? Yes it does! It sounds like the bread will be soft and squishy and in fact that IS what the bread will be: soft and squishy with no added fat (necessarily).
In All You Knead Is Bread there is a recipe for scalded rye and here on VB there is a little video showing you how to knead in scalded flour (if you don’t feel like watching it, the top tip is: it’s sticky, don’t worry). You will have to wait for The Book of Buns to be published next autumn in order to bake the fantasic Asian bun recipes that will be in there, but until then you can experiment. Just scald some of the flour in your bread recipe with some of the water you need. Once it is cool, add the scalded flour into your flour, salt, and yeast and add enough water to make a reasonable dough. It will be sticky because of the goo you are adding so don’t be tempted to over-flour. Rise as usual and bake at a slightly lower temperature (like 190) because the dough is more like cake dough than bread dough. The texture is close, yes, but is soft soft soft….and delicious.
Try and enjoy – you have time during the holidays to spend some time experimenting. If not now, when? Enjoy!