hojicha loaf bread

lately, i’ve taken to hojicha — it’s a tea typically made by roasting green tea or common tea leaves over charcoal fire to turn the leaves a reddish-brown and imbuing the slightest caramel flavour.  a lot of higher end japanese restaurants serve it at the end of the meal.  i usually cup my hands around it, let the steam rise into my nostrils, and breathe in the vapors like a warm embrace.

i picked up some instant hojicha powder in narita a few months back, and i happened to see it from the corner of my eye while i was preparing my bread dough.  i dropped a few tablespoons into my bread dough.  it ended up being a pretty neutral ingredient.  unlike earl grey tea, hojicha didn’t leave behind a strong fragrance.  its caramel notes blended harmoniously with the the bread flour.  i would like to believe that my hojicha loaf ended up tasting warmer and home-ier, but i’m sure that belief is unduly founded on my knowledge that the loaf contained a bit of hojicha essence.

still, if you would like to believe . . . here’s the recipe:

Hojicha Loaf Bread
(makes one 12 inch loaf)

Bread flour                                540g
Cake flour                                    60g
Active dry yeast                          10g
Milk powder                               30g
Sugar                                           80g
Salt                                                 9g
Egg                                                  1 large one
Milk                                           250g
Half & Half                               150g
Instant Hojicha Powder             3 tbsp

  1. Microwave milk for about 1 minute until it is warm to the touch.
  2. Dissolve yeast into the milk and add 1 tbsp of sugar (you can take it from the 80g that you had measured out).  Let stand until foam forms on top. About 15 minutes.
  3. Mix together remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I use the dough hook on my stand mixer set to a low to medium speed.
  4. When the yeast mixture (from step 2) is ready, add it in with the other ingredients and mix on medium speed until the dough forms and begins to peel away from the sides of the bowl.  Around 3 to 4 minutes.  (Compared to pizza dough, this dough is rather moist)
  5. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled.  About 1-2 hours.
  6. De-gas the dough. Then, divide it  into 4 portions.
  7. Roll-out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface, roll the flattened pieces of dough into a log, and then tuck the ends under so as to form a ball.  Place the 4 pieces of dough next to each other into a buttered, 5 x 5 x 12 inch (or whatever size is closest) loaf pan.
  8. Cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature or place into proofing oven uncovered.  To test if the dough is ready, make an indentation with your finger and see if it stays.  In my case, the dough had finished proofing when it puffed up about 1 inch over the rim of my loaf pan.  About 1 hour.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350ºF.
  10. Remove from pan carefully almost as soon as it is out of the oven, and let cool on a rack. (If you let it sit in the pan to cool, the sides will get soggy as the bread expels steam from its sides while cooling].
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