This bread is amazing. It’s incredibly pillowy, soft, with a rich golden exterior, and which is most important – it stays unbelievably fresh for days! Provided you can keep it for that long (well, we can’t!) LOL And what makes it even better – it doesn’t have tons of butter involved like, say, in brioche.
It is really easy to make and the secret to its good storing qualities and great taste is a way where part of flour is cooked with some liquid (tangzhong method). This method came from Japan and nowadays is very poplar in other Asian countries. The full name of the bread is Hokkaido milk bread.
It is reasonably sweet, I’d say it’s good for sandwiches, toasts or French toasts and bread puddings. But for me it’s just great on its own, I can never resist but munch a whole quarter of it every time I make it. No regrets at all! LOL
As for the powdered/ dried milk part, since this ingredient is not very common these days, I don’t recommend omitting it. That tiny bit adds an extra milky flavour and boosts the bread’s taste. Unfortunately, there’s no substitution to it. Adding regular milk will upset the formula. Although, the water in tangzhong can be substituted for milk for added milkiness.
For me it takes 4 – 4.5 hrs to make this bread from scratch.
The recipe makes 1 ~23 oz/ 650 g loaf.
- 1/3 c + 1 T + 1 t/ 3.33 oz/ 100 ml still mineral water
- 2 T + 1 t/ 20 g all-purpose flour
In a small saucepan, add both the ingredients, set the pan over medium heat and, stirring continuously with a balloon whisk, let the mixture thicken up and reach 150ºF/ 65ºC (I personally do never check the temperature with a thermometer. As soon as the mixture thickens up, I let it warm up for another 10 – 15 seconds, stirring constantly). Remove from the heat and leet it cool briefly.
- all of the tangzhong
- ½ c/ 4 oz/ 120 ml milk
- 1 egg
- 1½ t/ 5 g active dry yeast or 4 ¾ t/.5 oz/ 15 g fresh yeast
- 2½ c/ 11.7 oz/ 350 g all-purpose flour
- ¼ + 1 T/ 2 oz/ 60 g white sugar
- 10 g/ 1 T powdered milk
- 1 oz/ 30 g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
- 1 t salt
In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the tangzhong, milk and egg. Using a paddle attachment, combine the mixture on low speed until incorporated. Add in the yeast and let it dissolve.
Meanwhile, weigh the remaining ingredients and place them in separate bowls of suitable size. The flour, sugar and powdered milk may be added to the same bowl (the photo below shows the ingredients before combining the wet ingredients).
After the wet ingredients and yeast are incorporated, add the dry ingredients in (except for the salt!). Knead them into a soft and slightly tacky dough on medium-low speed, then continue kneading for 10 – 15 minutes, until elastic and smooth. Stop the mixer from time to time to push the dough from the attachment down back into the bowl.
If kneading by hand, follow the same sequence as above. Knead the dough intensively for 20 – 25 minutes.
Gradually add the butter to dough and knead for another 3 – 5 minutes, until the butter is absorbed (5 – 7 minutes by hand), then finally add in the salt and knead for couple more minutes. The dough should be smooth, soft, a little tacky and shiny.
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil. Roll the dough into a ball and place in the bowl seam side down. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to proof at rom temperature for 1.5 – 2 hrs, or until doubled in size.
Line the base of a 5×9″/ 13×25 cm rectangular loaf pan with parchment paper.
Punch the dough down and release as many air bubbles as possible. Weigh the dough and divide it into 4 equal parts (6.24 – 6.28 oz/ 177 – 178 g each). It’s really handy to cut the dough with a scissors. Working with one part of dough, keep the rest in a bowl covered with cling film. Each of the steps should be applied to each piece of dough in chronological order, e.g., after shaping the dough balls, continue working first with the one that was shaped first.
Bring the dough ends to the centre and pinch well to seal.
Lightly dust the working surface and rolling pin with flour. Flatten the first dough ball into a disk and roll it out into a long oval shape. When rolling, any remaining air bubbles should pop. It is very important to release as many bubbles as one can, otherwise the baked bread will have large voids in its’ crumb (see the photo with a slice). Fold each one of the long sides to the centre (like a business letter). Roll the dough out again into a relatively even rectangle shape (the sort side should be about the same length as the shortest side of the pan, mine was 3.9 – 4.7″/ 10 – 12 cm). Roll the dough up into a log, then place it into the pan seam side down. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
Cover the pan with cling film and leave to proof at room temperature for 1.5 – 2 hrs. This times are just guides. It is better to check the readiness of the dough after 1.5 hrs from the time you left it to proof. Lightly press your finger on the surface, if it springs back immediately, leave it to proof for a little longer and check back on it after 10 min. If the dough is soft and the indention is there for a few seconds and then it smooths out – the bread is ready to be baked.
After 1.5 hrs from the start of the final proof, preheat the oven to 355ºF/ 180ºC. Make the glaze:
- 1 small egg
- 1 T milk
Put both ingredients in a small bowl and lightly beat them. Just before putting the bread in the oven, brush it with the egg wash.
Bake in the hot oven for ~30 min. After 15 min. in baking, reduce the oven temperature to 320ºF/ 160ºC. If at any point the top starts to brown too much, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue baking as usual. Remove the pan from the oven, take out the bread and let it cool on a wire rack at least for 30 min.
Store the loaf in a plastic bag. I’ve tried to experiment and store it as long as I could. I made it 1 week in the fridge)) One week later it still was soft and fresh.