I love bread. All kind of bread. I’m pretty sure I mentioned this not too long ago…
Bread is the one thing I refuse to give up in preparation to fit into my wedding dress. I’d rather run an extra 2 miles and eat all the bread I want rather than give it up.
From French bread to Italian foccacia bread to ciabatta, these are all great. But my all time favorite has to be asian bread. Whether its Japanese, Korean, or Chinese (or any other), the bread is just…different. It’s softer, has the perfect texture of chewiness among it’s fluffiness, and is just sweet enough that you won’t experience a sugar high from consumption.
But from what I knew from research in the past, this type of bread is not the easiest. It’s stringy texture is the hardest to accomplish, rather than just simple airy or dense bread. This isn’t the easiest recipe to take on, but it’s definitely worth the extra work.
So, let’s move onto the technical aspects of this recipe. Tangzhong. What did you just call me? Tangzhong! Why is there a Z in the middle of this word? Focusing. It’s basically a roux, made from boiling milk (or water) and bread flour. It is what gives this bread it’s texture and without it, well, it obviously would not be the same. It’s a strange concept, I won’t lie, adding this milky looking paste to your ingredients. But interestingly enough…it works.
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup bread flour
2 3/4 cup bread flour
4 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoon softened butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm milk
1 packet active yeast
1. Combine your 1 cup milk and 1/3 cup bread flour in a pot. Mix thoroughly and put over medium high heat.
2. Constantly whisking, watch as the mixture thickens and becomes a paste. It will be the consistency of tomato paste (I literally could not think of anything else that was similar right now). Essentially, you should be able to whisk the mixture and leave swirls.
3. Turn off and let cool.
Now for the next few steps, I did everything by hand since I don’t have a standing mixer. If you do choose to use a standing mixer, take step 1 and place in the bowl with the dough hook. Take your milk, egg, tangzhong (etc), mixture and add with the softened butter. Let the machine knead for at least 5 minutes, until the dough looks less lumpy and more elastic. Move onto step 6.
1. Combine your flour and salt in a big bowl. Set aside.
2. Combine your milk, sugar, and yeast and let proof for a few minutes, until foamy.
3. Add 1/2 of your tangzhong and 1 egg to your milk mixture. Mix.
4. Take your liquid mixture and add to your flour mixture with the butter. Mix thoroughly until the doughy is shaggy.
5. Dump your mixture onto a clean surface and start kneading; this will take at least 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
6. Place in a large bowl, cover loosely with either a towel or saran wrap, and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
7. Take your dough and cut into 4 even pieces.
8. One piece at a time, roll out the dough into a long oval.
9. Taking the two long ends, fold them into the center of the dough (into thirds).
10. Roll lightly to flatten the folded ends.
11. Roll from one long end (with smooth side out) and set aside. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of dough.
12. Place all four pieces in a loaf pan with the seams down. Let rise for 45 minutes.
13. Preheat your oven to 345 degreesF.
14. Make an egg wash (if desired) by mixing the remaining egg and 1/4 cup milk. Brush lightly on top of the risen dough.
15. Bake for 30 minutes.
Enjoy with some butter or jam!
Extras: if you only have a conventional oven, I suggest lowering the heat slightly and/or covering the bread with foil for at least half the baking time so it won’t brown too much.
I’ve seen plenty of recipes use all purpose flour so if you are unable to find bread flour, you should be okay!
The remaining tangzhong can be used for up to 3 days.