Panda Bread

Panda Bread and Zebra Cake, that was the plan. Because once you start doing silly things, might as well just be as silly as possible. The zebra cake turned out like this:
Do you see the stripes?
I don’t see them either. Maybe next time. After we eat the Camouflaged Zebra Cake.
But the Panda Bread… isn’t it cute?

Depressed Panda in a Blanket

And baked:

Perhaps all it needed was a little warmth and love
It looks a little different from the original photos, I found the idea here by chance, but it’s vaguely Panda-shaped. If you click through, you can find some other people’s photos of their panda breads, all of them a little different.
I’m a bit lazy. Too lazy to actually convert the recipe from grams into cups and tablespoons, so I used my cinnamon-raisin-walnut bread recipe. Without the cinnamon, raisins or walnuts. And instead put matcha and chocolate in it. So really it wasn’t cinnamon-raisin bread at all (seems to be a theme lately). Also, instead of two loaves I wound up with just one. Apparently removing two cups of ingredients can do that. It was a pretty big loaf. I might have been able to get two out of it, but the dough ball looked so small before it started rising. Never underestimate the power of yeast!
This part isn’t all that surprising: it tasted like bread with chocolate and green tea in it – maybe next time I’ll add some sugar or use bittersweet chocolate to begin with. Or add some cinnamon. Something. It wasn’t bad, not at all, but I put in quite a bit of cocoa powder, it was a bit overpowering. The green tea seemed about right, in amount and flavor.
So, here’s the “recipe”

1 cup oat flour
2 ½ cups bread flour
4 tsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 ¾ tsp yeast
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup milk, at room temperature
¾ cup water, at room temperature

2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp hot water (or however much you need to get a smooth paste)
1 tsp green tea powder
3 tbsp hot water (or however much you need to get a smooth paste)
Mix together the dry ingredients, and add the wet ones. Mix til you get a ball of dough, then switch to kneading til it becomes smooth. Divide the dough into three pieces, the largest gets the green tea added, the smallest the cocoa powder. Keep kneading those after adding the pastes until the color is evenly distributed, then put them on an oiled plate, cover with plastic wrap and let them rise.
Once they have doubled in size (about an hour to hour and a half), divide the chocolate dough into four pieces for the eyes and ears. Divide the uncolored dough into three pieces, one fairly small (to fill in between the eyes), two about the same size. Roll one into a log about the length of your loaf pan, and put two of the chocolate pieces a bit off-center on either side. Fill in the space between them with the small uncolored piece, then cover the whole thing with the leftover uncolored bit.

Now attach the ears, fill in between them with some of the green dough, and then cover the whole bear shape in a green blanket. Move this to your greased pan, cover with plastic wrap again and let it rise for another hour or two, it should be above the rim of the pan (or doubled in size, depending on how high your pan is.

Then bake at 350°F for 40 minutes, turning it around once after 20 if needed, take it out and turn it out of the pan, let it cool on a rack. Then cut it open and have fun with silly panda faces.


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