I love love love Asian breads. They are soft and just so slightly sweet and just delicious. They make great sandwich bread. The crust is flaky and light. Starting from Chinese steamed breads, to this Japanese milk bread, and others like the one used to make Banh Mi. The crumb is always light and fluffy.
I got this recipe from a blog that I absolutely love, Dreams of Dashi. Her photographs are incredible and I’ve always wanted to try her recipes. This recipe is hard to beat. I say that with confidence because I have tried many recipes for Shokupan, and Hokkaido Milk Bread. The sweeter Hokkaido Milk bread is more popularly known around the world, but I love Shokupan, because of its neutral taste. It’s a great everyday bread.
This bread is made with a “starter” called tangzhong. The starter makes the crumb softer and increases the shelf life of the bread. Ever since I’ve made this bread, I’ve come across many more Asian bread formulas using tangzhong. I have also started using the tangzhong or water roux method for my regular white bread recipes. Tangzhong means soup in Chinese, and consists of mixing and heating flour and water (in a 1:5 ratio) to make a sort of pudding. This is then added to the regular ingredients.
I was going to take her advice and cut the bread into slices and put them in Ziploc bags to freeze, and toast when I need it, but there was none left – Not One Single Slice was left – and I’ve made this bread three times just in the last 2 weeks! And friends and family have called asking when I’m going to bake it again!
Dreams of Dashi, thanks for a keeper recipe.
- 330 g bread flour
- 24 g sugar
- 1/4 cup milk (see note)
- 1/4 cup water (see note)
- 7 g salt
- 4 g Active dry yeast
- 1 large egg
- 20 g butter
For the tangzhong:
- 20 g bread flour
- 100 g water
Equipment: Two 9″x13″ loaf pans.
Note: The original recipe called for dry milk powder, but I substituted milk, and therefore, also reduced the water proportionately.
First make the tangzhong. Mix in the bread flour into the water, whisking to incorporate it all, in a saucepan. Put the saucepan on a low flame and keep stirring, making sure to get all the flour incorporated. Keep stirring until the mixture reaches a pudding consistency.
On a medium setting of a KitchenAid mixer, with the dough hook, add the tangzhong to the bowl. Then add all the other dough ingredients, except for the butter. Mix until the dough comes together, about 5 minutes.
Now add the butter, a little bit at a time, and continue to knead for 12 minutes more. The dough will be tacky, but not sticky. Tacky refers to a post-it note level of stickiness. Your finger will stick to the dough but will peel off easily, just like a post-it note. None of the dough will actually stick to your finger.
Shape the dough into a ball and put it in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a muslin cloth and let rise in a warm place for an hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and separate into 4 equal parts. Form these parts into balls and cover with the plastic wrap or cloth, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Take one ball at a time. Roll the ball out into the shape of an oval and fold, letter-style into thirds. That is, if the shorter end is next to you, fold down from the top 1/3rd of the way, and fold up from the bottom 1/3 rd of the way, so that they overlap.
Next roll out the dough again perpendicular to the previous folds. Now roll up the dough like a jelly roll, until tight. Pinch the ends to secure properly, and place in a greased loaf pan, seam side down. Repeat the process for the remaining 3 balls of dough. Place two rolls in each loaf pan, a little apart, giving it room to expand.
Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Cover the loaves with plastic wrap or cloth and proof for a second time. This proof will be shorter, approximately 45 minutes or so until the dough has expanded to fill the pans and rise above the rim of the pans.
Bake for 35 minutes, until you get a golden brown, hard crust. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Cut into slices and enjoy. This bread, supposedly freezes well – do let me know if you have any leftovers! 🙂