I almost didn’t share this post with you.
I almost didn’t share it because the recipe I made didn’t turn out as visually appealing as I’d hoped. Delicious, yes, but visually? Oh dear me.
But this blog isn’t about all the successful recipes I’ve made. It’s about the good, the bad and the not-so-good-looking.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with perfection. The problem is that I want to achieve perfection — beautiful, successful, undeniable, unachievable perfection. It started with grades in middle school and high school. I was bound and determined to get straight As every semester, and if I got anything lower than that on a single test, I’d run home bawling. True story (unfortunately).
Then, as I feel it happens with most girls, it transitioned to physical appearance. I would spend hours — no joke, hours — each morning tweaking the tiniest strands of hair on my head until my coif was absolutely even, voluminous and shiny. If even an eyelash was out of the way, if a hemline was uneven, if my jeans were starting to get stringy at the ankles, I’d painstakingly rectify any situation until I felt, well, perfect. But I never, ever, really did feel completely and utterly perfect.
Over the years, I’ve learned (though don’t always remember) that perfection is unattainable. I’m human. Surprise. There’s nothing I can do to make myself perfect. I’ve had to learn to accept myself for who I am, uneven hemlines and all, and realize that even though I’m not perfect and never will be, that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to offer the world. The same goes for recipes — just because these green tea mini loaves were supposed to be one singular, gorgeously green loaf and turned out to be nothing like I’d hoped doesn’t mean they’re not delicious and worth sharing with you. Just as you don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a bread by its awkward, oblong appearance.
I found this recipe on papers tucked between the pages of the Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur book my lovely sister-in-law Natalie sent to me, along with a small container of matcha, or green tea powder (which would be perfect to use for this recipe). I don’t know exactly what went wrong in the process of baking, but somehow the shapes became misshapen, and I ended up with two boxing glove-like rolls instead of one cohesive loaf. Sigh. It was for the best, as I think these are better served in miniature form. The matcha offers not only a dazzling green color, but also an ever-so-slight hint of flavor to the loaves. They’re perfect sliced, warmed up and spackled with a pat of butter.
Sorry — not perfect — but delightful just the same.
Green Tea Mini Loaves
Adapted from home-baking.net
Yields: 2 mini loaves (or one larger sandwich loaf)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
Just over 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tsp green tea powder
In a small bowl, combine water and yeast, whisking until yeast is dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, milk powder, salt, sugar, butter and green tea powder. Pour yeast mixture into the center and mix until just combined. Add remaining flour. Replace paddle attachment with dough hook and knead in stand mixer (or remove dough and knead by hand) for about 5-10 minutes (less if in stand mixer, more if by hand) until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour in 1 tbsp increments as necessary just until dough is no longer sticky.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove risen dough from bowl and punch down. Divide in two, shape each half into a ball and let rest 15 minutes.
Take each dough piece and roll out into a rectangle about 6 by 8 inches. Roll up the dough from the shorter side, flatten slightly and fold each end under into thirds so you have a slightly square ball. Place each ball either in separate, lightly greased mini loaf pans or side by side, pushed together in one large, lightly greased sandwich loaf pan (the swirly edges should be facing the longer sides of the pan). Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake loaves for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool in loaf pans for about 10 minutes, then outside of loaf pans completely before slicing or serving.