Transform Bread Rolls Into Elegant Leaves With This Dough Technique

The world of social media is a treasure trove of culinary creativity, constantly bombarding us with new and exciting food hacks to try. One such trend that recently caught my attention was the technique of transforming bread rolls into elegant, leaf-shaped loaves using a singular chopstick. These leaf-shaped loaves' virality online and captivating aesthetics piqued my interest. Thus, I was eager to test my bread dough-shaping skills and make beautiful leaf-shaped bread. If you're considering trying this technique, too, I'd recommend closely following along with a guide from Carrie Miller, which was posted by Pinners Conference on Instagram. The steps can be a little tricky. 

Start by using a rolling pin to roll the dough into a flat circle, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter and ideally around a quarter-inch thick (or a little thinner than that even), then cut the circle into four even quarters. Next, fold each quarter from the bottom up and stack them together, standing upright. The critical step involves using that singular chopstick: Press it down the center vertically to create the leaf's central vein, then turn the entire creation to lay the chopstick horizontally. Fold the sides of each piece of dough up to form the leaf's shape.

Baking from a trending video can prove challenging

My attempt at this technique reminded me not all social media trends translate smoothly into real life. The hack did not give a dough recipe, so I used my own pandan milk bread dough recipe (for the greenness and flavor), which, after its first rise, turned out to be too puffy and thick for this process despite all my rolling. My result was a distorted and bloated dough, straying too far from an elegant leaf. Some said my creation looked like "Baby Yoda" or, at best, a bad-looking Christmas tree. My experience highlighted the likelihood that a flatter or drier bread dough, or perhaps a more pliable dough like puff pastry or cookie dough, might be more suitable for this leaf-shaping technique.

The final look of the leaf-shaped bread post-baking remains an enigma. The tutorial video did not show the result, and, accepting my failed attempt, I reshaped my deformed dough into regular buns. This begs the question, would the bread dough have maintained its leaf shape during and post-baking, similar to how shaped and braided challah bread retains its form?

There's certainly a knack to this fun leaf-shaped bread technique, and with the lessons I've learned from my pitfalls, the path is now paved for you to explore. While the pandan milk bread dough's rise and fluffiness posed challenges, there's potential for success with other types of bread dough, like challah bread. Bakers interested in this technique may want to experiment with different dough types.