It’s like a Rorschach test–quick! What do you see?
Yup, it’s a panda all right! I knew you’d guess it.
…Okay, I admit–it does look sort of possessed. But at least it’s a possessed panda, right? That could potentially still be cute. Its pet name is Frankie the Panda (Devil) Bread loaf.
How did this Shelley-esque nightmare come into being? Let me tell you…
Our story begins on a cold, stormy winter night, when the wrath of the oven gods decided to wreak their havoc and get revenge on the mortals below…so they sent…
PANDA DEVIL BREAD!! Muahahaha!
Good story, no?
This bread actually emerged from a skewed desire to make something unbearably cuddly and cute for our weekly book club. I’m hosting this week, and so setting aside for a moment the slightly bizarre inclination to eat the face of an endangered animal for lunch, I decided to make this recipe.
Did it turn out the way I wanted? Probably not. But I still think it makes an adorably possessed panda, don’t you think? I’m having my second slice for lunch today with hummus and Greek yogurt, and I’m so looking forward to it. Plus, it’s (surprisingly) one of the best white (or green) bread sandwich loaf I’ve ever made. Soft, airy, slightly chewy, and just a tad of that nice firmness on that outer crust.
Unlike some food bloggers who put out only the very best of their work–we all know those beautiful, amazing photos of jaw-dropping cakes and who-knows-what-went-into-that-cream-puff–I don’t mind sharing, not recipes for disaster, per se, but my own disastrous encounters with good recipes. In fact, I think it’s more fun that way. Possessed panda bread instead of cute, cuddly panda bread–why not, right?
And if you’re still in doubt as to Frankie’s devilishness, take a look at this snapshot from the center of his loaf:
Hehe, that’s my favorite one. Frankie in all his center-of-loaf glory. You can even see the horns sticking out of his cuddly panda head, aww.
Anyway, the girls at the book club will be eating this today while we discuss the Rootabaga Stories written by Carl Sandburg, which is appropriate since they’re children’s nonsense stories, and my bread is nonsense bread.
If any of you want to make nonsense bread, or actually attempt to make this bread the right way (although, until I do so myself, I’m going to be naturally inclined that think that “normal” is overrated), visit the original recipe translation at this site!
When I make this bread again–and I will definitely do that, since the bread is worth eating even if it’s not necessarily aesthetically pleasing–I will repost with the results. Wish me luck! And until then, as always…
Happy eatings, and happy reading!
Photos from my Panda-Devil-Making Adventures
Microwave the milk and eggs.
Add sugar and yeast to the mixture; stir briefly, and allow yeast to do yeasty things. (i.e. this is the “proofing” stage to make sure your yeast is active.)
Cut your dough into three pieces–two that are roughly the same size, and one that is 1/3 the size of either of the other two. These will be your three colored pieces.
Place one of the large pieces in a lightly-greased bowl and cover with warm, damp towel. Set aside in a warm place. (I placed mine in the oven, which I had allowed to heat for just a few seconds before this.)
Work green gel food coloring into your other large piece of dough. I would used a considerable amount of food coloring (at least 15 drops for this dough–you’ll probably want to use even more to achieve a brighter green color). When you finish, set aside in another lightly-greased large bowl, cover, and place in warm spot.
Work the cocoa/water mixture into your final small piece of dough. If your dough gets sticky, add a bit more flour as needed. When you’ve achieved a nice dark brown color, cover in a lightly-greased bowl. Allow all of your dough to double in size (approximately 1 hour).
When your dough has all doubled, take out the plain dough and cut into three pieces (2 of the same size, and then 1 about half the size of the other two). This will be your panda face!
Chop your chocolate-colored dough into four equal pieces. Roll out two of the pieces into logs and stick them on top of a log-shaped large piece of plain dough. Then stick the smaller piece of plain dough between the chocolate ones; these are your two panda eyes and the forehead.
Using the remaining large piece of plain dough, stretch it carefully around the rest of the dough so that it locks everything into place. Divide your green dough into two pieces (1 about half the size of the other). Place remaining two chocolate logs on top of the plain dough–these will be your ears! Then place the small green log in between to keep them in place.
Finally, stretch the last piece of green dough around the whole thing–it’s a panda in a bundle!
Place your dough into a greased loaf pan and cover with damp cloth. Allow to rise for an additional 45 minutes, or until doubled in size (like this).
After baking in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes (or until golden brown on outside), let it cool–this is important to keeping all of your bread parts together! Otherwise, the various colors might fall apart.
And there you sort of have it! Next time, I definitely need to keep better track of where I position my dough. I’m also pretty sure I flattened it at one point while I was panicking over the time (I had a dinner plan to keep in the next hour, so my dough got a little panda-handled.) I’d also use just a tad more tough for the chocolate parts, to keep the eyes and ears looking like little devilish slits.
Otherwise, I hope all of you have better luck than I did for a first try–I’ll let you know how the next attempt goes!
Panda Bread Recipe
(My experience is a severely-butchered account of a perfectly good recipe from girlversusdough)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup milk w/ 1 egg yolk (both should total 1 cup together)
- 3/4 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp green tea (matcha) powder mixed w/ 2 tsp hot water, OR green food coloring
- 3 1/2 tsp cocoa powder mixed w/ 1 1/2 tsp hot water
- 2 1/4 tsp (or 1 standard packet) active dry yeast
- In a small bowl, microwave milk and egg yolk for about 30 seconds, until warm to the touch but not scalding hot.
- Add yeast and sugar, then stir in slightly. Allow your yeast to “proof” for 5 minutes; it should start to foam and smell like bread if your yeast is active. (If your yeast is not active, you will have to throw it out and start again with a fresh package. Make sure your milk mixture is just warm enough that it will activate the yeast, but not so hot that it kills it.)
- Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add in butter and salt, then stir until well-combined.
- Add flour 1 cup at a time, until it is incorporated and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove it from the bowl and place on a lightly-floured cutting board. Continue to knead the dough for another 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- Divide dough into three pieces, two about equal and one about 1/3 the size of the other two.
- Place one of the large pieces in the stand mixer bowl and mix with green tea/water mixture OR green food coloring until desired color is reached. If your dough gets sticky, add a bit of flour.
- Remove dough from bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled.
- Clean stand mixer bowl, then place smallest piece of dough in stand mixer and combine with cocoa powder/water mixture until color is blended through. Remove dough from bowl and place in a separate, lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled.
- Place plain piece of dough in a separate, lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled. All pieces should double in about an hour.
- Once dough is risen, on a floured surface, divide plain dough in thirds, with one piece being half the size of the other two (as you did before). Use one of the larger pieces to form the face. Divide the cocoa dough in quarters and use two quarters to form the eyes. Wet your fingers with water and brush it over the dough to keep the pieces sticking together.
- Quickly place the smallest piece of plain dough between the eyes to keep them in place. Stretch remaining piece of plain dough over the whole bread to lock everything in place.
- Take last two quarters of cocoa dough and form the ears.
- Divide green dough in two pieces, one twice the size of the other. Take the small piece to fill in the space between the ears. Brush adjoining pieces with water if needed. Take the larger piece of green dough and stretch over the whole bread to lock everything in place.
- Place dough in a lightly greased loaf pan, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Once dough is risen, bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on the outside (the inside should register 190 degrees F). Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving.