Tim and I had a great time in Houston last weekend – we spent quality time with my parents, ate a lot of great food, and met up with some of my oldest and dearest friends. And when I say old I mean longest relationships.
Well, it’s been about a year since my last visit to Houston, and I’ve got a couple things to note. First, I love I-10! Last I saw it, it was still one big mess, but now it’s 18 wide lanes of a smooth Texas highway. While driving there, I told Tim that I miss driving, but he corrected me, knowing that I really miss driving on nice freeways like I-10. Tim’s right, that’s exactly what I meant.
Second thing to note – Houston’s Chinatown keeps exploding everytime I visit. Why, I remember when the only supermarkets were Diho and Dynasty, but now there are dozens of them! Dozens! And all the bubble tea shops, cafes, and bakeries multiply right along with the supermarkets. Growing up, I remember our family would frequent a particular bakery solely for their taro bread. Now, it wasn’t bread flavored with taro, rather it was a loaf of soft white bread baked with a generous amount of sweet taro paste inside. The loaf was also topped with a light glaze with coconut flakes. I very clearly remember the bread, but all I remember about the bakery is that it’s located in Diho square. (I might have to ask around for more details) Well that bread was the inspiration for this post. I took Julia Child’s classic white bread recipe and turned it into a taro bread by filling the inside with taro paste.
Making bread is a way to teach me patience. I clearly don’t have any as I didn’t wait the entire 45 minutes for the bread to double in size before sticking it in the oven, thus my bread didn’t come out as full as it should have. I decided to go ahead with the batch to see how it’d turn out, and thankfully it was still tasty, just lacking in the desired texture. I wouldn’t change a thing about the taro paste, and now that I have a go-to taro paste recipe, I’m brainstorming what other taro goods I can come up with. I hope you’re intrigued. I hope.
recipe adapted from Baking with Julia
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3-4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 cup Taro Paste (recipe below)
1. Pour 1/4 cup of the water into a bowl and mix with yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Combine the milk, sugar, and butter. Blend well with the yeast mixture.
3. Using a stand mixer with dough hook, beat in 2 cups of flour into the mixture. Mix slowly until blended then add the rest of the flour.
4. Increase speed and scrape down the sides til the dough comes together. Add salt and mix at medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
5. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball then place in a large buttered or oiled bowl.
6. Turn dough so it is completely coated in the fat, then cover in plastic for 45 minutes to an hour, til it has doubled in size at room temperature.
7. Butter a loaf pan.
8. Deflate the dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
9. Roll out into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread taro paste around the middle of the rectangle.
10. With the short end facing you, fold the dough into thirds over the paste, creating a roll.
11. Pinch the seam closed, and pinch the ends enough so it will fit in the loaf pan. Place in the loaf pan seam side down.
12. Cover the loaves with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise again in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until they double in size.
13. Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the center of the oven.
14. Bake for 35-45 minutes until they are honey brown.
15. Immediately turn out of pans onto a rack to cool.
1 1/2 cups small taro pieces (peel and cut fresh taro)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (up to 1/2 cup, depending on desired sweetness)
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1. Boil or steam the taro pieces until cooked. Taro is done when a fork easily pokes through.
2. In a food processor or blender, blend the cooked taro and 1/2 water until it becomes a puree.
3. Mix the corn starch with 2 tablespoons water to make a paste.
4. Combine paste into taro puree and pour into a saucepan.
5. Cook taro puree and paste over low-medium heat, stirring in the sugar. Keep adding sugar until taro paste reaches desired sweetness.
6. Constantly stir the paste, and reduce the heat when the paste becomes thicker. Stir over low heat an additional 10-15 minutes.
7. Remove paste from heat and let cool.