Mac’s Spanish Bread
As a child growing up in Manila, I have never been a fan of Spanish Bread. People around me go gaga over these breads but it just isn’t my cup of tea (or slice of bread heehee). A few months ago, my sister Anna made some and graciously sent some to us. As I said, I am not a fan so I let my husband and daughter happily eat all of them. Obviously, they loved them. That’s what started my daughter’s never ending request for me to make some of the same for her.
It took a while for me to decide to do them, but during the last days of school holidays, I ran out of things to do with my daughter and hence the Spanish Bread thingy came up. And so I looked at the net for recipes, and with her beside me made our own based on what I think would work well.
And how well did my recipe work!
I am sharing the recipe with you as I have at the moment no plans to sell bread. I like my breads freshly made and fresh out of the oven and selling them might not give potential buyers the same satisfaction I get from eating them warm instead of cold and sweaty from a brown bag.
I really wanted to say some information about the origin of the Spanish Bread but I can’t find any from the net. Did the Spanish people introduce them? No idea, but hey, I am not in the mood for historical facts of these bread — I just wanted to make fresh bread 🙂
For the dough, you will see that it is the same dough recipe I use for my cinnamon rolls and honeycomb bread (and my ensaymada which I will also post soon):
2 3/4 cups plain flour, sifted and separated into 2 1/4 cups and 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (or one foil packet of Tandaco dry yeast)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk
35 grams butter
1 XL – XJ sized egg
For the filling:
1/2 cup salted butter, softened (I like my butter salted but you may use unsalted butter — soften this by just leaving it on your kitchen counter for awhile until you can press the butter smoothly down with a fork)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 – 2/3 cup white sugar (you can use brown sugar if you want, but I like white sugar)
70 grams butter, this time it should be melted, for brushing
extra breadcrumbs with sugar for rolling (measured at half and half — meaning half breadcrumbs, half sugar)
What you need to do:
First, make your filling. In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter, breadcrumbs and sugar. You can use a fork to mash them all up. Set aside.
Now, make the dough. Mix together in a bowl the 2 1/4 cups of flour, the 3 tablespoons sugar, salt and yeast with a spoon.
In a small saucepan in low heat, warm up the 35 grams of butter, milk, and water until the butter melts. As soon as most of the butter is melted, turn off heat. Using a candy thermometer, check the temperature. It most probably be around 70 degrees C. You would have to wait until it cools down to 40 degrees. If this is too hot, it could kill the yeast and not work.
When the temperature of your milk mixture is down to 40 degrees, pour this into your flour mixture while mixing. In this step, I use my mixer’s hook attachment. Gently add the egg and your remaining 1/2 cup flour (you might not need to use all your flour — it actually depends on the size of the egg you use). Continue mixing until they bind together. On your counter, sprinkle some flour as needed and knead your dough for about 5 minutes or until smooth and doesn’t stick to your hand. Form into a ball. Spray some oil in the same bowl you used earlier and place your dough in it. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Your dough will not rise here. It is just to rest it.
After the 10 minutes is up, divide your dough in two (this is only because it is easier to work with a small dough at a time) and set aside the other one in the bowl for later.
Shape the dough into a log about 26 – 28 cm long.
Cut the log into about 8 or 9 pieces using a knife or a rubber spatula. Do the same with your other half of the dough. This way, you will already know how many breads you will be able to make and hence you can more or less divide your filling (I don’t like waste so I sometimes do plan ahead).
Take one piece, and flatten it (using a rolling pin) — do not worry about how perfect the shape should be — just make them long enough to roll. Brush the top with melted butter (others don’t do this, but I do :)) Scoop your filling in the middle, spread it with your fingers — try not to put filling on the edges to help seal it later. Roll up the flattened dough and place in a baking tray lined with wax paper, seam side down. Do the same for the rest of your dough.
When all is finished, there would be leftover melted butter (if none, just melt some more). Brush each of your dough with the remaining melted butter and roll in your breadcrumbs/sugar mixture. Take a photo so you can see later how much your bread has risen — honestly, it’s amazing! Loosely cover with foil and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes (remember my tip on rising? you don’t? okay here it is again: warm your oven at 180 deg C for just 1 to 1 1/2 minutes — NOT MORE, turn off heat and place your tray of breads in).
After 90 minutes your dough should have doubled in size (try poking them — they are sooooooo soft). Preheat your oven at 170 deg C (fan forced oven) and then bake for about 15 minutes or until light brown in colour. After about 10 minutes of baking, rotate your pan just to make sure baking is even — I had one in a corner of my tray that was more brown (not burned) than the others but it was still very good).
Best served warm with coffee or tea. There were just the three of us and we had leftovers. I just covered them with foil and froze them. Warm in the oven or microwave as needed.