Tangzhong Milk Bread 湯種牛奶麵包
By Ellen L. Published: 2017-03-30
I love making bread, there's nothing in this world as wonderful as the heavenly smell of baking bread emanating from your very own oven! But the thing about making bread is, after all that toil and trouble, homemade bread is amazing when still warm, great when cooled, still yummy on the second day, but downhill from then on. It just gets stale so fast! I've tried different methods of keeping the bread, which help only a bit. What I really want is to be able to make a bread and enjoy it for a good while, make sandwiches, have some toast, you know...just have a bit of bread about the house. Now, finally, I have found this amazing Tangzhong Milk Bread 湯種牛奶麵包 that not only lasts a good long while but is soft and fluffy and tender yet strong enough to use as a sandwich bread!
This is the kind of bread that you will find at Asian bakeries, indeed it is a Chinese way of making bread, first written about in print in "65° Bread Doctor" by Yvonne Chen, (65°C湯種麵包 by 陳郁芬) a pillowy, soft, moist, tasty bread, on the sweet side, with tender crumb and thin crisp brown crust. And the really, really truly amazing thing (beside all the other amazing things) is that this bread is really easy to make well. Almost, I imagine, a fail proof bread.
Note this bread is made with milk and has a small even tender crumb in the typical Asian style of bread and is also know as Milk Bread, or Hokkaido Milk Bread. However you can substitute the milk for water to use tangzhong roux on western style of bread recipes as well. See this discussion at The Fresh Loaf for more details.
The secret of the Tangzhong Milk Bread is in the 'roux', a mix of flour and either water or milk that you cook briefly to gelantinize. The tangzhong takes approx 5% of the flour and water from the original recipe and gelantinizes it through heating before adding it back in with the rest of the ingredients. This bit of gelantinized roux somehow allows your final dough to retain much more of the liquid than it normally would, thus making for a tender, moister crumb that lasts way longer.
Photo on the left is my gelantinized roux. Photo on the right is the kneaded dough with the gelantinzed roux added. The dough will be moist and a bit sticky.
To check to see if you have kneaded the dough enough use the windowpane test. (*Windowpane test method as follows: stretch out a corner of dough until you can make a 'window' of translucent dough that lets light shine through but does not break the dough.) Once your dough is kneaded enough, shape to a ball. See how lovely and smooth the shaped dough is.
Proofing is just waiting for the dough to rise, but this tangzhong bread dough will delight you by rising very high and beautifully. See how much my dough rose! When you punch the dough down you can already feel how soft and silky it is.
Here we divide the dough into 2 or more equal parts and shape each piece by pressing into a long rectangular shape, then folding the two sides into the center and then rolling up. You don't have to divide it at all, you can just shape it into one roll that fits your baking pan but if you do divide it you can tear the bread easily at the divisions and serve it as tear off rolls.
The rolled up dough goes into your bread pan for the final rise. I think I should have done four rolls here instead of two, it would look better, dontcha think?
Aesthetic concerns aside, I really want to encourage folks who long for fresh homemade bread to try this. I make bread off and on, trouble and toil be damned, but this dough was so easy and sooo yummilicious!! Better than I ever thought I could coax out of my lil ol oven. This Tangzhong milk bread is definitely Asian style, a bread on the sweet side, soft, tender and fluffy like no other bread that I have ever made at home. It's just like what you can buy at the real bakeries! And a cinch to make with this tangzhong roux method, bread making becomes an effortless and easy thing to make once a week and then you've got moist delicious fluffy bread that lasts for a week and more!
Tangzhong Milk Bread Recipe 湯種牛奶麵包
Prep time: Cook time: (makes one loaf)
Roux2 tbsp + 2 tsp flour, 22g
1/4 cup milk, 60 ml
1/4 cup water, 60 ml
Dough2 1/2 cups flour, 325g
1/8-1/4 cup sugar, 30g-60g (depends how sweet you like your bread)
2 tsp instant yeast, 7g
1 tsp salt, 4g
1/2 cup room temp milk, 120 ml
4 tbsp softened butter, diced, 60g
Make the roux in a small pot. Mix the milk, water and flour until incorporated. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened but still pourable, 20 secs or so. The mixture will thicken more as it cools.
Make the dough. Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt in large mixing bowl. Add in egg, milk and roux. Knead until smooth. Add in butter and knead 10 more mins until the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth and just a bit sticky. The butter will slip about a lot but keep at it, it will incorporate. Use the windowpane test (see instructions* in post above) to check if the dough is ready.
Shape the dough into a ball by tucking under until surface smooth and taut. Let rise, covered, for up to an hour or until the dough has doubled. Punch down, divide into however many division you like. Roll up each division into a long rectangle, fold over the two sides to meet at the center, then roll up. Tuck your rolls seam side down into your buttered bread pan, cover and let rise 40 mins over until dough is doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Brush the top of the dough with a bit of milk, trying not to drip down the sides as it will make the dough stick to the pan. Bake on bottom shelf of oven until golden brown, 35 to 40 mins. Enjoy your fluffy and tender Tangzhong Milk Bread!
Tip: Store in dark air tight bread box. It keeps really well for a week and a bit.
More Doughy Deliciousness at The Hong Kong Cookery:
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