UPDATED POST ON 10TH OCTOBER 2014
Sorry that the pictures all used alum free instead of ammonia bicarbonate free.. It is a misunderstanding that alum is the same as ammonia bicarbonate. Therefore, please disregard the picture wordings.
I have always love Youtiao （油条） or some translated it as Chinese crullers or Chinese bread sticks and I doubt if any Chinese do not like this comfort snack. It can be eaten with soya bean milk, with porridge, with desserts or as a dip with breakfast beverages. It is supposed to be puffy, crispy in the outside but soft in the inside. According to Wikipedia,
“Youtiao, also known as the Chinese cruller,Chinese oil stick, Chinese doughnut, and fried bread stick, is a long golden-brown deep-fried strip of dough eaten in China and (by a variety of other names) in other East and Southeast Asian cuisines. Conventionally, youtiao are lightly salted and made so they can be torn lengthwise in two. Youtiao are normally eaten at breakfast as an accompaniment for rice congee or soy milk.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtiao)
This is ammonia bicarbonate （无臭粉/无嘛尿） free youtiao recipe. Because there is no ammonia bicarbonate, the youtiao that is prepared may not be as crispy and as puffy as they should be. Ammonia bicarbonate are usually used to improve the texture of the certain cookies and cakes, resulting the dough to be airy and hence crispy. When dough with ammonia bicarbonate is deep fried, ammonia gas will be expelled causing the dough to expand, creating airy structures in the bread stick. However, If not properly deep fried, there will be ammonia gas trapped in the youtiao and therefore occasionally, some youtiao that were purchased will have some foul smell.
“Ammonium bicarbonate is used in the food industry as a raising agent for flat baked goods, such as cookies and crackers, and in China in steamed buns and Chinese almond cookies. It was commonly used in the home before modern day baking powder was made available. In China it is called edible or food-grade “smelly powder”. Many baking cookbooks (especially from Scandinavian countries) may still refer to it as hartshorn or hornsalt (e.g., NO: “hjortetakksalt”, SE: “hjorthornssalt”, “salt of hart’s horn”) In many cases it may be substituted with baking soda or baking powder or a combination of both, depending on the recipe composition and leavening requirements. Compared to baking soda or potash, hartshorn has the advantage of producing more gas for the same amount of agent, and of not leaving any salty or soapy taste in the finished product, as it completely decomposes into water and gaseous products that evaporate during baking. It cannot be used for moist, bulky baked goods however, such as normal bread or cakes, since some ammonia will be trapped inside and will cause an unpleasant taste.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_bicarbonate)
As some overseas members are telling me that they have difficulty to get ammonia bicarbonate in their country of residence, I have decided to try preparing youtiao without the use of this chemical. I have been looking for ammonia bicarbonate free youtiao recipe but it is hard to find. Then I came across this recipe from Victoria Bakes on yau cha guai (tips to THE chinese crullers) 自制放心油条, I have decided to give it a try.
Though from her recipe, I have amended rather significantly the recipe. I have added yeast to the recipe with the hope that it will improve the puffiness of the you tiao. I have opted to use double acting baking powder instead of the normal baking powder. About 80% of the youtiao is hollow in the centre but some are not. I am unsure the reasons as to why the other 20% refused to become puffy. I believed this may not be the recipe’s fault but my imperfections in handing the dough since both Victoria Bakes and another blog My Kitchen Blogspot are able to have their you tiao puffy enough without the use of ammonia bicarbonate. Therefore, there is a great chance that if you follow this recipe, Victoria Bakes’s recipe or My Kitchen Blogspot’s recipe, you will get a hollow and puffy youtiao without the use of ammonium bicarbonate.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Recipe adapted from: Victoria Bakes on yau cha guai (tips to THE chinese crullers) 自制放心油条
Servings: Prepare 8-10 standard size you tiao
500 grams bread flour (高筋面粉）
1 packet of instant yeast (about 11g) (即用酵母）
4 grams of baking soda (苏打粉）
4 grams of double acting baking powder (双作用发粉）
16 grams of salt (食用盐）
15 grams of cooking oil (食用油）
1 egg (鸡蛋）
250 grams of warm water (温水）
STEPS OF PREPARATION
In a big whisking bowl, put all dry ingredients together. Make a well in the centre, add the eggs and water. Use a spoon to roughly stir until it form a sticky dough. Transfer the whisking bowl to the standing mixer. Use a dough hook and beat the dough at medium to high speed for about 15 minutes until smooth. Add oil and beat for another 10 minutes until all the oil are incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a flat surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it in a square.shape of about 0.5 cm thickness. Cut the dough into 1 cm x 6 cm rectangular pieces. Put one piece of dough on top of the other piece of dough. Place the two pieces of dough on top of a chopstick. Place another chopstick on the top of the dough. Press the two chopstick together . Set aside and let it proof until almost double in size (depending on the day’s temperature, it will take about 30-45 minutes).
Once the proofing is done, heat a pan of oil suitable for frying. Use a chopstick to insert into the oil, if bubbles start to emit from the chopstick, the oil temperature is considered as hot enough for deep frying. Drop a piece of the proofed dough and deep fry until golden colour. Take out the youtiao and place on a piece of oil absorbing paper. Best served hot with porridges, a cup of breakfast beverages or desserts like tau suan (split mung bean sweet soup).
I can’t say this is a fool proof recipe as some of the youtiao are not as puffy as I wanted it to be… However, since two other bloggers (Victoria Bakes and My Kitchen Blogspot ) have successfully done it without the use of ammonia bicarbonate, therefore, there is possibility that the fault is mine..But I do hope that this post will benefit my readers who do not have a chance to get hold of ammonia bicarbonate in their country of residence and this, I believed this will the next best alternative for them to try out.
If you can get hold of the ammonium bicarbonate, based on the above recipe:
add 1/4 teaspoon of ammonia bicarbonate;
don’t use the instant yeast,
let it rest for 20 minutes after the dough is kneaded, thereafter shape and deep fry.
This modified recipe will be able to provide you the crispy and puffy youtiao like the youtiao that you purchased in the stores.
Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.
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