~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, March 29, 2013

Japanese Milk Bread... using the tangzhong method.

Japanese Milk Bread... using the tangzhong method.  Happy Easter! I haven't baked bread in such a long time, and I've  been missing it a lot. For me, baking bread has got to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable tasks in the kitchen. I just love baking bread. But for the past few months I've slowly moved away from using too much flour in my baking. Thankfully, I don't have a gluten intolerance, so I can still use flour from time to time....

But recently my husband has been asking for pizza:)... and while I was making the pizza, I realized how much I enjoyed working with doughs. I had forgotten how good it felt to hold the soft dough in my hands, to stretch it, to see it rise and eventually taste the result. So I got in the bread making mood, and didn't stop with the pizza. I ventured to try out a recipe I had been wanting to make for years. A super-fluffy and soft milk bread that uses a water roux called tangzhong. 

The Japanese have been using a water roux to make super-soft and fluffy bread for years.  But the Chinese and Taiwanese(and other Asian countries) have borrowed this method to make all sorts of soft breads and rolls. Bread that stay fresh for longer without the use of chemical preservatives....  found in many Asian bakeries. 

In the 1990's, author Yvonne Chen popularized this water roux method in her book called 65 deg Bread Doctor . From there, many home cooks began using the formula to make all sorts of breads... be it sweet or savory, and in various shapes and sizes. The water roux method was truly a success... it gave breads an undeniably soft, fluffy and tender texture. 

I was really eager to try my hand at baking a Japanese milk bread. There are plenty of recipes online, but the one I adapted came from Christine's site. She also has a few other recipes(with beautiful photos) that use the tangzhong method. But the result gave me the softest and fluffiest bread I've ever made or eaten! Similar to the American version of Wonder Bread, but oh, so much better. Soft, velvety and so tender... I loved this bread. Simply amazing. Sometimes pictures don't do justice. Hope you enjoy...   

Note: I ended up baking two loaves at one time... one I left unfilled, the other I filled with a sweet walnut and cocoa rum flavored paste. I'm wanting to implement this technique for making the Romanian cozonac. This was just a trial in that direction. But possibilities are endless...

Tip: Feel free to shape the dough in various ways...  
You will need a VERY sharp knife to cut slices without compacting the bread. Or freeze, cut  and defrost. You can also just pull the rolls apart.    

Extra Note: I made this recipe using two (2) methods.... using the stand mixer (kneaded for 15 minutes), and the food processor (dough processed for about 2 minutes). Both yielded the same result. The food processor was a bit trickier in that some of the dough(being quite sticky) has the tendency to get underneath the blade, making the processor struggle a bit. You'll just have to stop and check on it... you'll also need a powerful processor.

You will need: inspired by Christine's Recipes

Tangzhong roux:    for two(2) loaves
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)

Dough:   for one(1) loaf
2½ cups bread flour
4 TBS sugar  
1/2 tsp table salt (original uses 1 tsp)
1 egg, at room temp. 
1/2 cup milk, warm 
1/2(scant) cup tangzhong (use half of the tangzhong you make from above)
2 tsp instant yeast
4 TBS butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
flavorings/ extracts of choice can be added(vanilla, lemon/orange peel, rum almond etc.)

Filling: of choice... can be sweet or savory... you might end up getting"tunnels" with some of these fillings, braiding the dough might be another option.  These are just some suggestions...

sugar/cinnamon...and ground nuts
sugar, ground nuts, cocoa
raisins, dried fruit
turkish lokum
maybe spreads: nut butter, nutella, biscoff, preserves?
cheese, ham, bacon

1 egg, beaten for brushing unbaked loaves
butter for brushing baked loaves, optional


Make Tangzhong:

1. Mix flour in water well so you don't have any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook it.
2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker.... similar to a creme patisserie (thin pudding-like ). You will notice some “lines” appear in the mixture every time you stir and the roux should fall slowly off a whisk ... the temperature should be at 150 deg F.   Remove from heat.
3. Transfer the tangzhong into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature.  If making only one loaf, the leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge up to 3 days... as long as it doesn't turn grey. If so, you need to discard and cook another batch. Bring the chilled tangzhong to room temperature before adding to other ingredients.
Knead Bread Dough:
1. Combine all dry ingredients, flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a your mixer bowl. Mix to combine... a few seconds. 
2. Add all the wet ingredients, milk, egg and tangzhong (remember to use only 1/2 of the tangzhong if making only 1 loaf)... and any flavorings of choice, if you desire. 
3. Knead until you get a dough shape and gluten has developed(about 5 minutes), then add in the butter while mixer is still kneading.... continue kneading for an additional 10-12 minutes. 
4. Remove dough from bowl, and form the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover.
5. Let proof till doubled in size, about 40 minutes... though the time will vary depending on the weather and warmth in the house. I like to place mine in a cozy oven.
6. Deflate dough and divide into four equal portions. Form into ball shapes. Cover with plastic wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
7. Form rolls....

For non-filled: Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Fold 1/3 from top edge to the middle and press. Then fold 1/3 from bottom to the middle and press. Roll flat and with seal upward, roll into a cylinder. Place the roll with seal facing down in greased and parchment lined loaf pan... Repeat with rest of the dough. 

For filled: Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Spread/sprinkle filling of choice evenly over the rolled out dough and fold jelly-style, pinching  the seam to seal. Place the roll with seal facing down in greased and parchment lined loaf pan... Repeat with rest of the dough.
8. Leave rolled dough to proof, about 30-40 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. The filled dough tends to rise slower, about 40-50 minutes or so.
  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F

9. Brush  risen dough with whisked egg on surface. Bake in a pre-heated (350 deg F) oven for 35 to 40 minutes. ... you may need to cover the bread lightly with foil, especially if bread is coloring too fast. I found myself covering it after 10 minutes... and then removing the foil later on to get the bread fully brown.
10. Remove from the oven. and remove bread from the pan. I like to brush the top of the loaves with some butter to soften the crust, but it is optional. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Slice to serve or place in an airtight plastic bag or container once it's thoroughly cooled.... you can freeze and reheat later to get it to be just as fluffy.


Cuparoons said...

Happy Easter, Ellie! I've never made bread by hand before. I've used a bread machine in the past, but this seems pretty easy. I hope one of these days to try making homemade bread. Everything tastes better when it's homemade:)

Ellie said...

Anna, The "original" bread recipe actually uses a bread machine:)... so you could use it for this. And while you can knead this bread by hand( probably at least a 1/2 hr hand kneading) the mixer does a fantastic job.... even the food processor.

But this bread is truly worth a try. You'll be amazed with the flavor and texture:).

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Speranta said...

Arata minunat ...ma tenteaza reteta ta!
Cat de curand am sa o incerc...

Iti doresc un Paste cu bucurii !

Ellie said...

Speranta. Multumesc! Intradevar trebuie sa o incerci... ca este foarte pufoasa! Merge sa faci un cozonac din reteta asta:).

O zi placuta iti doresc!

ana said...

thank you for this recipe, actually I tried to find tangzhong recipe that measured in cups. Actually, this was the first time I made bread. You will be glad that your recipe is really easy to follow. The bread is fluffy :D

The only difference, I made stuffed buns from the dough and place it in a muffin tins.

Can't wait to try another filling using this base recipe.

Ellie said...

Wonderful, Ana! I am so glad you tried the bread recipe, and being your first time baking bread! I'm happy to have been of help in providing the cup measurements... I know sometimes there is no scale around:).

I love the idea of filing the bread and baking them in muffin tins... such a great idea!! I think I will do that myself one day:). This bread can easily be made in all sorts of shapes, so I'm glad you made your own rolls.

Thanks so much for your feedback. I really appreciate you taking the time to write and let me know how the recipe came out for you. I'm always happy to hear from my readers:)!

Unknown said...

Do you think there is a way to incorporate this method using a gluten free flour?

Ellie said...

Tina, The high rise and fluffy texture relies on gluten, so I'm not sure how a GF flour would work. I'm thinking it probably wouldn't work, but then again I'm not an expert when it comes to GF baking. Maybe there would be a way... I'm not aware of it. Sorry I couldn't be of help.

Verlene said...

This is cool!

Ellie said...

Verlene, Glad you like it:)!

Anonymous said...

I've made a lot of bread with a bread-maker and by hand. What's exceptional about this recipe is that you've explain how to make the bread very clearly, and the end result of the bread is exactly as is shown in your pictures! The tenderness of this bread is terrific. You have a new follower in me!

Ellie said...

Cafeocheryl, That's wonderul! So glad I could be of help... I'm thrilled you had success with this recipe and that it came out for you:). It makes my day when someone tries a recipe and likes it as much as I do:)... And thank you for being a new follower, I really appreciate it!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this recipie. I am super duper happy! My bread turned out soooo delicious, tasty, moist and beautiful. I made it plain, definitely gonna try fillings of all sorts and maybe cinnamon rolls too. I am ecstatic. So happy to make this for my family and friends.

Ellie said...

Melody, You are very welcome! You made my day:)... so thrilled you had success with the recipe and like it as much as I do. I think it's a wonderful bread and I can only imagine how delicious it would be as cinnamon rolls... so light and fluffy:)!

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share your feedback, I'm always happy to hear from my readers. It means a ton!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, I tried this recipe today and it was perfect. It's the first time I've made bread that didn't taste terrible and/or dense! I can't wait to try the other recipes on your website.

I wanted to say to other people trying this recipe, I made mine by hand and it was fine. The initial dough is very wet but after I threw it around and twisted it a bit, the gluten (as mentioned in the recipe) developed and it became a dough. I kneaded it for thirty minutes as recommended in one of your other comments and it turned out perfectly.

Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much we appreciate your listing of this recipe! A kiss on each cheek! Thank you!

We were recently in Japan and experienced this bread in pastries and fell in love with it. I thought that I might have to search & experiment for weeks to maybe reproduce this wonderful, versatile bread. What's great is that it's not too sweet or fatty like so many French-origin pastry doughs, so one can use it without packing so many calories. Where did you ever find this recipe?

Ellie said...

Anon, Oh, You are very welcome! I'm so thrilled the recipe came out for you as well:). This bread is an absolute favorite! Definitely light and fluffy :)

I thank you for sharing your feedback... and for trying out the recipe by hand. It's good to know it worked for you without a mixer. Bread recipes usually can forgo and kneaded by hand... it just takes a bit of work and patience... and well, not giving up:).

Ellie said...

Anon, Thank you for your super kind comment! You made my day:)... and you are most welcome.

I'm looking forward to visiting Japan myself in the near future and hope to try their pastries. I know they make the lightest and fluffiest of breads:).

I'm thrilled you enjoyed the recipe... its a keeper! I'll be honest, I love using it for all sorts of bread recipes... it makes the best cinnamon rolls!

By the way, I've been meaning to make this dough ever since I heard of the roux method... years ago! I just don't know why it's taken me so long:)... glad I posted it, finally. And it's not that difficult to make:)...

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback... I am so glad I could be of help.

betty said...

sunt in aceeasi "barca": am o reteta asemanatoare de ceva vreme, si nu ma mai apuc s-o fac...habar n-am de ce. intrebare: oare treaba asta complicata tangzhong nu e coca oparita a bunicilor noastre?
mult spor!!

Ellie said...

Betty, Merita sa incerci reteta... doar un pic spor, si totul va merge bine:).

Interesant ca si eu mam gandit la fel... metoda de a folosi tangzhong, cred ca este intradevar coca oparita:)...cea care mama mea imi spunea ca folosea bunica. Sti cum este, ce a fost... va mai fi :) .

Oricum, sper sa incerci reteta pe care o ai... mult succes!

Yee said...

Thank you so much for the recipe!
I made bread for the first time and I used your recipe. It turned very good. Fluffy, soft and tasted great. Now I can make bread with confidence. Thank you very much Ellie. Life has been more interesting since I see your page!
Happy New Year.

Ellie said...

Oh, You are most welcome, Yee! I am so happy to hear that your first bread recipe was a success... it made my day:)!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback, I really appreciate it. I am just thrilled to know that you tried the recipe and enjoyed it as much as I did. Glad to have been of inspiration:)...

Wishing you a most wonderful New Year!

Unknown said...

I found this recipe one day last week. I have made it twice since then! This bread is absolutely amazing. I even tried it with cinnamon and raisins. Amazing!!

Ellie said...

Teresa, So glad you like the recipe. I know, isn't the bread simply amazing? Glad you tried it again using your own variation... the cinnamon and raisin sounds simply delicious!

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Really appreciate it!

Unknown said...

I know I have posted before but I just have to tell you that I made this using minced garlic from a jar and finely chopped cheddar cheese. I can't even begin to describe how absolutely yummy it was. Everyone I give some to try love it! Thanks again for the recipe!!

Ellie said...

Teresa, I never tire of hearing feedback from my readers...and I especially love to hear about variations:)!

The garlic and cheese sounds amazing!! I could easily see how you can make super soft garlic and cheese breadsticks! Yum!

Thanks so much for sharing... so appreciate you stopping by again.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I've just tried your recipe again and it turned out wonderfully well with hand kneading as I don't own a mixer.

I'm a novice at bread making and the 1st time using this tangzhong method failed miserably. I guessed it was because I kept adding flour while kneading because it was very sticky. I heed the advice of traditional recipes which calls for adding flour to sticky dough while kneading.
This time I didn't add any flour but it was not easy handling and kneading the sticky dough. It was so fluffy and soft when we ate it while still hot from the oven. Best I ever made.
However, the next day it seems to collapse slightly but still good.

Ellie said...

Anon, Thank you SO much for your feedback on this recipe. I am so impressed that you would give the recipe a second chance... and using your hands to knead the dough!

I'm so happy that it worked even when hand kneading the dough... I can only imagine the stickiness and the struggle you must have had.

And yes, traditional recipes do ask for more flour when a dough is sticky... but I've found that not to be true with all breads.... that may be true with only the denser type of breads. In order to get a fluffy bread, minimal flour is required.... the extra flour weighs it down.

But I am so glad you are learning through trial and error. Figuring out what works for you will be the secret. The bread can sometimes collapse if the bread isn't cooled completely before cutting through it (the cooling gives the bread the extra texture it needs... but I know it's hard to wait:)).

I am thrilled you loved the bread... even hot from the oven:)! Really appreciate you stopping by...

Anonymous said...


thank youuuuuuuu

Ellie said...

Anon, You are most welcome:)! Glad you like it. And thanks for stopping by to share your enthusiastic feedback:)... really appreciate it.

Shopping Diva said...

Nice recipe but you have the tangzhong history wrong. Tangzhong is a Chinese method borrowed by the Japanese. The word itself, is a Chinese word. :)

Ellie said...

Shopping Diva, Hmmm... not sure if you are correct in assuming the water roux(tangzhong) originated in China. From what I've read, it was developed in Japan... BUT, it was made popular in China after a Chinese author, Yvonne Chen, wrote a book about the method... and of course she had to name it a Chinese name, tangzhong:).

But, you know, it doesn't really matter where the method came from, does it?... I mean, as long as we home cooks can benefit from the technique... well, that's a blessing!

This bread is simply amazing, so I'm grateful to the Japanese as well as to the Chinese:).

Thanks a bunch for stopping by.

Unknown said...

LOVED this bread recipe, your directions were excellent too. Even my wife who is an experienced bread baker was impressed. The tang zhong method is intriguing, I wonder why it works?

I forgot to look at the pictures when I put the 4 rolls in the loaf pan and accidentally put the "open" sides towards each other (90 degrees turned from your picture) and it actually came out looking great.

Thank you!

Ellie said...

Edward, SO glad you liked the bread:)! Sounds like the bread is a success however you place it in the pan...

It is one of my favorite breads and I understand that the cooking process in the flour roux(tangzhong) is what makes the bread.... the starch and water molecules combining and becoming gelatinized... starch molecules absorbing water and not competing for the needed hydration from the rest of the dough ingredients.

You can read a better detail of the chemistry in the link below: It does a better job explaining it than I would:). Thanks a ton for your feedback! I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

So far the easiest recipe I've found. I'm going to try this now with my daughter. Thank you!

Ellie said...

Anon, you are welcome! Have fun baking with your daughter... what a nice activity:).

I hope you enjoy the bread as much as we do.

Unknown said...

Hey Ellie! I almost never post comments online but this one.... Oh my! I usually bake bread every week or every other week when I get lazy but have had problems with dryness. In my frustration I searched for a soft fluffy bread and came across this type. I chose your recipe because it was easy to follow, had pictures throughout the process, used cups and was designed for a small portion (given that It was my first try). It came out beautifully! My only challenge was working with the stickiness of the dough before proofing. I couldn't resist adding a sprinkle or two of flour to save my fingers. I should stop now. Happy baking!

Ellie said...

Kenlyn, Aww... your comment simply made my day! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I'm just thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the bread. I'm happy I could be of help with the details and photos. It's my desire that the recipes I post will have similar results for others. I try...

Glad yo hear you made the dough work for you... with that extra flour:)... I can see you are a seasoned bread baker!

Enjoy many more breads:)

chris said...

I made this in Thailand and posted a link to your website on my blog. I think this is an amazing recipe and the bread came out better then I expected. Thanks.

Ellie said...

Chris, That's wonderful to hear! So glad you enjoyed the bread. Thanks a bunch for your feedback, it's always a joy to hear from a reader who has success with a recipe I post....

This is a favorite bread recipe of mine! I've managed to use it using various adaptations and always had wonderful results.

Appreciate you linking back... And thanks again for stopping by.

JT said...

hi, I used the stand mixer woth dough hook and I gave it a good 25 to 30 mins but it still stuck to the bowl and quite sticky. is this normal?

Ellie said...

JT, Yes, this dough is a bit sticky, which in the end will make for a light and fluffy bread. The stickiness will eventually not be as sticky after rising and proofing and allowing the dough to rest.

You can oil your hands as you work with the dough, even the countertop so that it will be easier to handle. If you feel the dough is really too soft and overly sticking as you knead it in the beginning stage, then you can opt to add a bit of flour 1 TBS at a time... though I wouldn't exceed 1/4 cup. Hope that helps and that your bread turned out ok.

JT said...

Thanks for your help. i will give it another try using the stand mixer. I threw out 2 batch today coz it was so sticky in the stand mixer after kneading using themixer for 30 mins. :(

Ellie said...

JT, I hope this time around you will have better success. I probably wouldn't mix it for so long. 30 minutes sounds like too much. The recipe requires just 10-12 minutes. Trick is to use oiled hands and allow the dough to rest a bit... and if need be add a bit of extra flour.

Thanks for stopping by... sure hope you have success! I understand how frustrating it can be... no fun. But I am excited to hear your perseverance!

Anonymous said...

Thks for the recipe!
Will stick to your recipe everytime i want to make my own bread! Have tried other methods but this is simply the best I got!

Ellie said...

Anon, So glad to hear you have has great success with this recipe. Appreciate your feedback and for taking the time to write and let me know.

This bread is one of my personal favorites as well:)...

Anonymous said...

I love this recipe so much! I remember I used it when I was in high school and we made the best bread in the class. Since then I have made it for my family and they cannot get enough of it! Thank you so much for posting your recipe! Really do appreciate it (:

Ellie said...

Anon , Oh, that's sweet of you:)!Glad to hear you made the recipe awhile back... and still enjoy making it today:). Isn't the bread just wonderful?! We love it too...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing:)... really appreciate it!

Linda Pereira said...

Would like to try your Japanese Milk Bread. If using fresh yeast what is the quantity in gms that should be used

Ellie said...

Linda, I don't use fresh yeast(I can't find it where I live), but you can easily find the ratio to convert it online.

Here is what I found and I hope it will be helpful to you.


Thanks for stopping by... and I hope you enjoy the bread:)!