Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

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I am really glad that I joined Aparna’s bread baking group.. or else I never would have found the courage to plunge into these bread making sessions.. Really happy that Aparna lead us to try this soft bread – Hokkaido Milk Bread . It comes real close to the milk bread we get in the Asian groceries. Aparna had suggested to try the dough to make the bread as well as rolls.. I tried them both and am quite pleased with the result !! Well , the kids are happier than me as they sure enjoyed the rolls with chocolate chips inside !!

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The Hokkaido Mild Bread owes its texture and height to the use of an interesting ingredient called Tangzhong. Basically, the Tangzhong method involves cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a roux.  This method of using Tangzhong is often seen in South Asian breads and was created by a Chinese woman, Yvonne Chen, who describes this method in her book which translates to “65 degrees Bread Doctor” .

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Ingredients:

 For The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux)

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk

For The Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp powdered milk
  • 2 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk (and a little more if needed)
  • 1/8 cup cream (25% fat)
  • 1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF of the tangzhong from above)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 25gm unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips if making the rolls

Method:

For The Tangzhong  (Flour-Water Roux):

  1. Whisk together lightly the flour, water and milk in a saucepan until smooth and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth.
  2. If you have a thermometer, cook the roux till it reaches 65C (150F) and take it off the heat. If like you don’t have a thermometer, then watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing “lines” forming in the roux as you whisk it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.
  3. Let the roux cool completely and rest for about 2 to 3 hours at least. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy crème patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover using plastic wrap. It can be stored in the fridge for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.

For The Bread Dough

[You can knead the dought wither using food processor or by hands..  Using a food processor saves a lot of work though.. ]

  1. Put the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and instant yeast in the processor bowl mix well.
  2. In another small bowl mix the milk, cream and Tangzhong till smooth and add flour. Knead to form a dough (I added abt ¼ cup more milk to get the whole flour to form a dough) Now add the butter and knead well till you have a smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky.
  3. (The dough will start out sticky but kneading will make it smooth. If the dough feels firm and not soft to touch, add a couple of tsps of milk till it becomes soft and elastic. When the dough is done, you should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away.  When it does break, the break should be form a circle.)
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.
  5. Place the dough on your working surface. You don’t need flour to work or shape this dough. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins). Depending on what you are making, divide your dough. If you are making 1 loaf, divide your dough in 3 equal pieces. If you are making two smaller loaves, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces.
  6. To make one small loaf and 6 small rolls, I divided the dough into two equal pieces first. Then I divided the first half into three equal pieces to make the loaf. The other half was divided into six equal pieces for six rolls.
  7. The shaping of the portions, whether for the loaf or the rolls, is the same.
  8. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape, about 1/8” thick. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold so it slightly overlaps the other fold.
  9. Roll this folded dough with the rolling pin so the unfolded edges are stretched out to form a rectangle. Roll the rectangle from one short edge to the other, pinching the edges to seal well. Do this with each of the three larger pieces and place them, sealed edges down, in a well-oiled loaf tin. Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
  10. To make the rolls fold them in the same manner described above, but before rolling them up, place some chocolate chip on the dough. Roll the dough rectangles carefully and pinch to seal the edge. Place each roll of dough in a well-oiled muffin cup and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes.
  11. Carefully brush the tops of the rolls and the loaf with milk (or cream) and bake them at 170C (325F) for about 20 to 30 minutes till they are done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then unmould and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool.
  12. Serve or else store in a bread bin. This bread stays soft and delicious even the next day. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins).

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