The joys of Tangzhong supergolden bakes

Monday, 18 February 2013

The joys of Tangzhong

I first came across the Tangzhong (=water roux) method of making bread on foodgawker, which in turn linked to Christine's Recipes. This method promised super soft, fluffy bread that stayed soft for days without the use of chemicals. Anyone who had baked with tangzhong was evangelical about it and I have to say I was very intrigued. Intrigued enough to attempt making bread using tangzhong by hand (3 times! I never learn) – even though all recipes suggested using a bread machine or stand mixer. There's a very simple reason for that – the dough is incredibly sticky and you have to knead it for well over half an hour by hand. Lets just say it is very tiring, time consuming and the results only so-so. I decided to invest in a second-hand bread machine simply to try this method (back then I did not have the K-mix).

The bread machine does all the hard work of kneading the dough for you and it even proves it. All you have to do is shape and bake it. And the results are out-of-this-world. I am not being hyperbolic here. The bread is slightly sweet, melt-in-the-mouth soft, incredibly fluffy. And it really does stay fresh for days. I now bake a Japanese Tangzhong Milk Bread loaf every few days and have given up buying the usual pre-sliced plastic toasting bread. Tangzhong bread does not compare to sourdough or any other homemade breads (which I also love) - it has a completely different texture, taste and a soft crust. I guess it most closely resembles brioche or challah, but is not as rich and buttery.

Wholemeal Japanese Milk Bread

25g bread flour
125ml water

300g strong bread flour
50g wholemeal bread flour (you can play around with flour ratios)
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder (optional)
1 whole egg
1 tsp instant dried yeast
60g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
125ml whole milk
120g tangzhong
60g unsalted butter, very soft or melted
1 egg for glazing 

  1. To make the tangzhong, put the flour and water in a small pan and whisk over medium heat unti the roux thickens. When the whisk leaves a trail of lines on the surface, it is ready. Put in a small bowl and wrap cling film over the surface of the roux to prevent a crust forming. Leave to cool.
  2. To make the dough in a bread maker, add the milk, tangzhong and egg to the bread machine. Top with the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and skimmed milk powder. Make sure the yeast does not touch the wet ingredients. Use the dough setting and let it run for 20m. Stop the cycle, add the butter and start the dough cycle again. The bread machine will mix the dough and do the first round of proving.
  3. To make the dough in a mixer, add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients. Start mixing using dough hook and add the softened butter once the dough forms a ball. You will have to keep mixing the dough for about 30-40m. To check whether dough is ready, stretch it in your hands - it should form a thin membrane that is almost transparent without tearing. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and prove for an hour till double in size. I usually put it in a warm (but not turned on) oven. Alternatively,  put it in a cold oven with a bowl of boiling water - the steam will create the right temperature.
  4. After the proving, put the dough on a floured worktop, deflate it and let it rest, covered with cling film for at least 15m. 
  5. Divide the dough into equal portions. Flatten each portion to a flat oval with your hands or a rolling pin, then roll it, swiss-roll style. Flatten it again and roll again then place the roll into a buttered bread tin. Continue with the rest of the dough until you fill your bread tin. I usually have enough dough to make one large loaf and one mini one. Cover with a moist tea towel and prove again for about 45m. 
  6. Preheat oven to 170C. Brush the loaf with egg wash and bake for 30-35m. 

The milk bread is excellent toasted (watch, it burns easily!) and very good sandwich bread. The real winning point is that my (picky) children love this. This bread keeps for several days (but we usually finish an entire loaf in less than two).

Am submitting this loaf to February's Fresh from the Oven challenge (Lunch) at Utterly Scrummy Food For Families.


Triple Chocolate Rolls

Chocolate x 3. The dough is enriched with cocoa powder, Nutella provides the filling and a white chocolate glaze is drizzled on top. These won me 'best mummy in the world' from my daughter which says it all really. Warm from the oven, they will bring you to your knees.

25 g bread flour
125 ml whole milk

Chocolate rolls
350g strong bread flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp instant dried yeast
80g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 small egg yolks (or 1 whole egg)
125ml whole milk (or 60 sweetened condensed milk and 65ml whole milk)
120g tangzhong
60g unsalted butter, very soft or melted
1 small pot of Nutella (or any good chocolate spread)
1 egg for glazing 

White Chocolate ganache glaze
100g white chocolate, cubed
100ml cream
a few tablespoons of icing sugar

  1. Follow the method above until 1st proving.
  2. After the proving, put the dough on a floured worktop, deflate it and let it rest, covered with clingfilm for at least 15m. Roll out into a rectangle roughly twice as long as it is wide. Warm the Nutella by placing container in bowl of hot water (do not microwave, it burns easily). Spread a generous amount of Nutella over entire surface of dough leaving about a centimetre at far short end. Beginning with the short side, roll the dough swiss-roll style, but not too tightly, wet the edge with water and pinch to seal. 
  3. Trim the ends and then cut into about 12 equal slices. Place them on a buttered baking tray a few centimetres apart, cover with a damp tea towel and prove for a second time 45-60m. The rolls will expand during proving AND while baking so make sure you leave enough space between them.
  4. Take out of the oven and brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of milk) . Preheat to 180 C. Bake for 25-35m. Do not overbake - and bear in mind the rolls are incredibly soft because of the tangzhong. Take one out to test if it's ready. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the glaze, heat the cream until almost boiling then pour it over the chocolate. Leave it for a minute then stir gently. Add a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar then drizzle over the rolls. If you manage to keep the rolls longer than a day, then heat in microwave on low for a few seconds before serving. Will be submitting these to Yeastspotting.

Note: you can skip the cocoa in the dough and fill with any number of fillings - I have made cinnamon and hazelnut praline versions that are equally, if not more , yummy. You can also fill with savoury fillings (cheese, parma ham etc. – possibilities are endless). Christine's Recipes is an excellent resource for recipes.


  1. I will have to try this method out, I have never heard of it. The chocolate rolls look amazing!

  2. I have to say if you own a bread maker this is the easiest thing in the world. And the results are amazing - I urge you to make the bread first.

  3. I love the tangzhong/ water roux methode, too. The results are always so great!
    I like your triple chocolate roll very much, it looks as it would be a great treat together with a cup of coffee!

  4. Hi Stefanie - I love it too. Can't wait to bake some hot cross buns for Easter. Have you worked out a method to incorporate tangzhong starter into non-tangzhong recipes? I would love to figure out a formula to do that

  5. I have never heard of these but they look amazing.

  6. Those triple chocolate rolls look awesome! (Of course most triple chocolate things are!) :D I love the ganache glaze!

  7. I followed this recipe and really loved the bread! Thank you!

  8. This looks fab, never heard of it before!

  9. My son loves milk bread I will have to give this a go

  10. I am curious now and will have to try this - Never heard of Japenese Milk Bread until now!

  11. I've never heard of this but it looks yummy!

  12. The triple chocolate rolls look good!

  13. This looks very interesting - I'll add it to my list of things to try out!

  14. This is the first i've ever heard of tangzhong but there's a great asian supermarket in Belfast. I've going to give this a go.

  15. You can utilize tangzhong without a thirty minute knead and still get many of its benefits. It won't be shreddable but will still be silky soft and last. What gives me pause is the 20% sugar! That almost twice a challah, which is pretty similar otherwise.