Window Pane Test (手套膜)- Killer Toast

Feeling delighted. I have been trying to get this glove membrane since I started making bread again recently and it has always eluded me.

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It doesn’t help that my Philips mixer is really taking a beating from all the heavy bread mixing. Serendipitously, we came across a Mayer sale selling the white (yes, only white) classic KitchenAid at sgd399. Whoa, big discount from $699, and so we bought it.

Long story short, this 手套膜 or glove membrane is achieved in under 20 min, with no hand kneading, using the killer toast recipe. Here are some simple steps:

1. First 5 min – At speed 1 & 2, knead all ingredients except butter and salt. Dough will be very sticky. Knead till a rough elastic dough is formed. Scrape down sides with silicone spatula to ensure even mixing every time you stop the mixer.

2. Next 5 min – Add in butter and salt, knead using speed 2. The dough will break up again and look oily and lumpy due to butter. Knead till it comes together again and start to climb up dough hook.

3. Next 10 min – Use Speed 2 and then speed 4, stopping every 2 min or so to check for elasticity using window pane test. Always start from 1 then 2 then 4.  When checking, at the same time, dislodge dough from hook using silicone spatula and try to turn it around, otherwise dough seems to be spinning around with hook and not kneaded. After 5- 8 min, increase checks to every 30 s to 1 min to avoid over kneading. Dough should become increasingly soft and elastic and smooth. Another way to see is that there are no more dough sticking to bottom of mixing bowl when hook is turning, they have all come together around the hook.

Notes:

  • Disclaimer: I need to highlight that KA only recommends up to speed 2 for kneading bread dough, for fear of damaging the machine. Please try at your own risks. Personally I use speed 4 at short bouts of under a minute, before I stop and scrape down sides. Never continuously for long durations. High speed kneading may also lead to over kneading where all gluten is destroyed. So use sparingly.
  • Don’t be too fixated with timing, sometimes it may still stretch to 30 or 45min due to a variety of factors like weight of eggs, humidity, temperature of surrounding and ingredients and brand of flour (different brands have different protein content).
  • While a full membrane glove is ‘fun’ to achieve, it is not a must. A reasonable sized window pane is good enough. Most buns (because of small volume) and whole meal loaf (because of weight of mixed grains) do not require full window pane. Depend more on your sense of sight and touch to gauge. Just by scrutinizing the dough surface, you can see the coarse fibers slowly kneaded away to complete smoothness. Below is the picture of a smooth elastic dough that will surely give a good window pane, so there are other signs to tell if dough is ready.

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  • Please also do not go into long kneading times of more than an hour, where your machine will still get heated at speed 2 and the yeast would have been fully activated and your dough is actually proofing. Even hand knead doughs do not take so long.

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After baking, this truly is the tallest and fluffiest loaf of bread I have ever baked. It rose to double the height of my tin, the bread had no yeasty smell and did not have a doughy bite where it would stick to the teeth.

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Killer Toast Recipe (adapted with double proofing, see original here.)

  • 260g bread flour
  • 180g (1 egg plus milk)
  • 30g sugar
  • 3g yeast
  • 2g salt
  • 30g butter

Mix all ingredients except butter and salt, till dough comes together.

Add in butter and  salt and knead till pass window pane test.

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Proof for 1 hour or double in size.

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Flatten and divide into 3 portions, rest for 10 min. Dough is elastic but sticky. Use very lightly floured hands and surface and try your best not too use too much flour.

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Roll out dough and then roll up each portion and place in loaf tin.

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Proof till double then eggwash.

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Bake at 170 deg C for about 30 min. I had to tent after 10 min as top was getting brown. Not sure if it’s due to the successful kneading, this is the highest I have ever seen my dough rise from the tin. Especially, considering this is only a 260g bread flour recipe.

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Remove from tin to cool, before slicing.

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