Tangzhong Bread or bread made with a Tangzhong roux/ starter is probably the fluffiest and softest bread I’ve ever made and eaten. Despite its fluffy texture, it’s also a bread that holds up pretty well when sliced, and it also stays fresh longer than the average bread.
Tangzhong Bread is also known as Hokkaido or Japanese MilkBread. The Tangzhong method was created by a Chinese woman, Yvonne Chen, who describes this method in her book “65 degrees Bread Doctor”. To make a Tangzhong, which apparently means “soup” in Chinese, 1 part of bread flour is cooked with 5 parts of water or milk or a mixture of both (by weight) at 65C (149 F) to form a roux.
At 65C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture seemingly creates a “leavening” action. The Tangzhong traps and retains moisture during baking to make a loaf of bread that is lighter, has a tender crumb and a longer shelf life.
The bread in itself is easy to make but what is critical is the cooking of the Tangzhong. The roux or Tangzhong must be cooked at 65C which means you have to keep your eye on the thermometer while you’re whisking or stirring the roux. I’m one of those totally imprecise and unscientific bread bakers who, despite having an academic background in science, continues to bake without other “must-use” implements like a weighing scale or a kitchen/ oven thermometer.
So if you’re like me and don’t have a thermometer, then you cook your Tangzhong until it starts thickening to a pudding-like consistency and your spoon/ whisk forms “lines” in the roux. That’s about the 65C point so take it off the heat immediately and let it cool.
I’ve made bread with Tangzhong bread a few times, and when Karen picked it for us Bread Baking Babes to bake this month, I almost gave it a miss. Then I realised it was a recipe that used whole wheat flour, that I needed to bake bread rolls and I knew how well these would turn out. So I used the recipe and instead of baking the dough into one big sandwich loaf, I made them into smaller bread knots.
Before we go further, I must point out that these Tangzhong Bread Knots are not 100% whole wheat but are made with a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flours. I used a little less of whole wheat and a bit more of all-purpose flour because all wheat bread is not always very popular in my home. I have however made these Tangzhong Knots with more whole wheat flour (1 3/4 cups whole wheat + 1 cup all-purpose flour) and they’ve turned out well so you can use a higher percentage of whole wheat flour compared to all-purpose flour if you prefer. Do rememberthough, that more whole wheat flour means that the bread will be denser but the Tangzhong still makes it a much softer bread than you would otherwise expect.
I made some changes to the recipe Karen picked for us. I reduced the butter a bit and the sugar quite a bit because I didn’t want sweet bread but rolls I could serve with soup. I also used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. The Tangzhong that this recipe below makes is actually enough quantity for 2 large bread loaves (you can double the recipe for the bread if want to use up all the Tangzhong). So you can either make half the Tangzhong (use half of 1/3 cup of flour if you can measure that), or make the full quantity and use half for one loaf and refrigerate the other half to bake with a couple of days later. (Adapted from Christine’s Recipes )
Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread Knots
For the Tangzhong:
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup water
For the Bread Knots:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- 1/2 amount Tangzhong from above
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsps instant yeast
- 30 g unsalted butter , soft at room temperature
- For the Tangzhong: Mix the flour and water together until there aren't any lumps. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 65C (150F) on your thermometer. If like me you don't have a thermometer, then cook until the thick mixture forms "lines" when stirred with the spoon or whisk. Remove from the heat immediately and let it cool to room temperature before using it. If not using immediately, refrigerate the Tangzhong till required but bring it to room temperature before you use it. It should keep for 2 to 3 days but discard it if it turns gray in colour.
- For the Bread Knots: You can knead the dough by hand or machine but since the dough is a bit sticky, using a machine makes the work easier. Put all the ingredients for the bread except the butter but including the tangzhong into the bowl of your machine. Knead into a dough. Add the butter to the dough and knead some more until the dough is smooth and very elastic and still a bit sticky to touch.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled. This should take about an hour.
- Take the dough out and gently deflate it. If you prefer to shape it into dough please see my Hokkaido Milk Loaf post for instructions. If you’re making Knots or other shaped rolls, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Using you fingers and palms, shape each portion into a uniform “rope” about 6” or 7” long. Fashion into a knot and place on lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets leaving a couple of inches between them.
- Loosely cover the shaped knots/ rolls and let them rise for about 45 minutes. Brush the tops with milk and let them bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 30 minutes until they’re cooked and golden brown in colour. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
The Bread Baking Babes are –
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy and here’s how it works.
Karen is our hostess for this month and the recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread according to that recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Do make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post.
Then e-mail Karen with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will then do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and also send you a BBB badge for this bread that you can then add to your post on your blog.